HC Deb 01 July 1909 vol 7 cc709-31

Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON moved, "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying His Majesty to withhold his assent to the scheme of allocation of the balance of the Education (Scot- land) Fund for 1909–10, contained in a minute of the Committee of Council on Education in Scotland, dated the 3rd day of June, 1909, and laid upon the Table of this House on the said 3rd day of June, 1909."

This scheme, as prepared by the Scotch Education Department, was strenuously opposed last Session by the Educational authorities. The authorities for the greater part of the country having been unable to obtain any redress have urged that this Motion should be brought before Parliament. They have a strong case. The Education Act of last Session enacts:—Clause 15. That the grants provided by the Imperial Exchequer to be hereafter devoted to purposes of education in Scotland shall no longer be applied or distributed as heretofore, but shall be distributed in accordance with a definite principle which is set forth with absolute precision in section 16 (2) of the Act under which the balance of the money is to be allocated amongst the several education districts according to a scheme "prepared by the Department and so framed as to give greater aid to those districts in which, per head of the population, the burden of expenditure on educational purposes approved by the department is excessive as compared with the valuation of the district." The scheme appended to the Minute does not carry out the principle laid down in the Act, but is at direct variance with it, and if the Minute is allowed by this House the Department can apply at their discretion as heretofore moneys which the Act expressly ordains should be distributed in accordance with a definite principle. The scheme is contrary to the principle laid down in the Act, first, because out of 39 education districts in Scotland it prejudicially affects 17. Ten, or practically 60 per cent., of these have education rates over the average for the whole of Scotland, the excess in certain cases being as high as 4d. in the £. On the other hand, of the 22 districts which, compared with these, are unduly advantaged, only five, or 23 per cent., are over the average. In the second place, of the 17 districts adversely affected, 15, or 88 per cent., have a necessity over the average for the whole of Scotland, while of the 22 districts deriving undue benefit, only 5, or under 23 per cent., show a necessity over the average, while no fewer than 17, or 77 per cent., have a necessity under the average. In the districts advantaged the average of their education rate is 8½d. per £, while in those disadvantaged it is l1d. per £. Of the six burgh school board districts five have education rates and ratios of necessity over the average—only one (Edinburgh) is under the average in both respects, and yet this district is the only one of the six that the scheme favours-As to the grants districts will receive calculated per head of the school population, districts with a necessity under the average for Scotland and benefited by the scheme are, amongst others, Peebles gets 80s. 2d. per child, Edinburgh gets 13s. per child, while districts with a necessity over the average for Scotland and prejudiced ay the scheme are inter alia, Linlithgow, 9s. per child, and Dumbarton, 9s. 3d. The average grant per child in the districts advantaged is 14s. 9d., while in the districts disadvantaged it is only 10s. 6d. The scheme proposes, quite contrary to the principle of the Act, which is to provide for present and future needs, to earmark to the districts certain payments which they have been receiving in respect of past requirements. The amount of these grants can, it is obvious, be no true test of present or future necessity—on the contrary, it may be urged that the liberal grants of the past should, in respect of the full educational equipment which they were the means of procuring, reduce present necessity in those districts which have hitherto received an excess as compared with other districts.

The scheme appended to the Minute, as I have said, therefore does not carry out the principle laid down in the Act. I will give one or two examples of these past grants per head of school population in the districts benefited by the scheme and having a necessity under the average. Peebles has 12s. 1d. and Edinburgh 4s., whilst in the districts adversely affected Linlithgow has only 2s. 7d. and Leith has only 1s. l0d. In the districts benefited by the scheme, the average of these grants is 6s. 5d. per head, in those disadvantaged it is only 2s. 8d., and the districts disadvantaged by the scheme represent close on 70 per cent. of the population of Scotland. There is one comparison which will take a bit of setting over by the Lord Advocate or the Solicitor-General. and that is that between Stirlingshire, which, with a population of 142,291, gets £13,688, whilst Forfarshire, a county which does not get much from the political point of view but which seems to get a good deal from the educational, with 122,909 inhabitants, gets £14,222. Stirlingshire's valuation per head of the population (£6.53) is lower and its education rate, which is nearly 12d., is higher than that of Forfarshire, with its £7.03 and its 8¼d. respectively. Therefore Stirlingshire, whose need is greater, as shown by the Department's ratios, which give the necessity in Stirlingshire as 19.829, and of Forfarshire as 12.763, should receive some thousands of pounds more, while under the Act she receives less. The Edinburgh School Board borough, with a higher valuation of over £10 per head of population, and a lower rate of 9¼d. than the Aberdeen School Board borough, where the valuation is only £5.86, with a rate of over 1s. 2d., gets nearly £27,000, as against Aberdeen with a little more than £15,000, whereas the population, in Edinburgh over 30,000 and in Aberdeen 29,600, shows that Aberdeen ought to receive almost as much as Edinburgh. There are districts, in which the burden of expenditure is excessive, which receive less than their fair share of the grants. Other districts have been most liberally treated and have low education rates. I can quite well remember that special grants were given in relief of the Highland rates, putting on a penny rate in a parish in Ross-shire in order to keep up appearances. The whole educational costs of the parish were defrayed out of this special rate, and yet that is the kind of grant which might quite well have been perpetuated under this scheme. Notwithstanding all this, it is proposed, in face of a quite specific direction of Parliament under the Act, to continue past preferential treatment, with the result that whereas, under the Act, money is to be allotted to give greater aid to those districts in which per head of population the burden of expenditure for educational purposes approved by the Department is excessive as compared with the valuation of the district, yet it is allotted under the scheme of the Department intended to carry out the Act in exactly the opposite way. Notwithstanding all this we have had two pleas only in support of the scheme. One is that no district should receive less than it has had in the past, and the other is that the allocation in the Minute will result in giving every district as much as in the past. But the necessities of districts in the past are no test of present or future necessity, and in any case it is idle to say that because a district has been unduly advantaged it shall continue to profit as against other districts where necessity has become apparent, and which, under the principle laid down in the Act, should receive much larger sums than they obtain under the scheme. No doubt any scheme of general application may result in individual cases of hardship, and these can be dealt with, but, in order to meet a few isolated cases, what we complain of is A that the whole original scheme of the Department, which has been so carefully thought out, and which, in the Department's own words, "effect was given to the principle laid down in the Bill," has been abandoned, and the principle of the Act disregarded to the great disadvantage of the greater part of the population of Scotland and to the undue advantage of a number of districts in which no case of necessity has arisen. It is admitted by the Secretary for Scotland that the scheme is not the full application of the principle of the Act. There is no provision for modifying the prescribed principle, and so long as it stands part of the Act the scheme which it contemplates must be based on the factors of population, educational expenditure, and valuation, and as the scheme departs from the Act in all these essentials, I beg to move the Address.


It is always an unpleasant thing for a Member rising from this side of the House to oppose any action of the Government, and it is a particularly unpleasant thing for me to do to-night, and looks somewhat ungracious. But these counties with large school boards which are adversely affected by this second scheme of allocation will continue to be so in future, and we must make our protest now or for ever hold our peace. I have continuously opposed the second scheme of allocation since ever it saw the light. I say, as emphatically as I can, that, in my opinion, it is not in accordance with the meaning of the Act of Parliament which was passed last year. I am strongly under the impression that it is on the whole illegal. I am aware that the Lord Advocate said the other day that the second scheme of alloca-tion is in accordance with the Act. I hope I shall be able to place a few arguments before him, out of the mouth, so to speak, of the Scottish Education Department, which will at least show that there is a considerable amount of reason for what I say. In May, 1908, the Scottish Education Department issued a scheme illustrating the proposed mode of distributing the grant under Clause 16 (2) of the Act. They distinctly say in that Paper (4051) that the scheme of distribution is on the principle laid down in the Act. The amount available for distribution at the present time is £421,831. Under the scheme, to give effect to the principle laid down in the Act, Lanarkshire would have received £49,915 instead of £41,640. In that case the loss to the county will be £8,275; Linlithgowshire, which would have received £6,184, only receives £5,881, being a loss of £303. There are, on the other hand, counties which are most extraordinarily favoured by the second scheme of allocation. The county of Forfar gains £3,596, while the county of Berwick, a small and comparatively unimportant county, which would only have received £1,724 will get £4,033, or a gain of £2,309. It was found that by giving effect to the allocation as described in Clause 16 (2) of the Act certain counties would get less. But if the principle of the Bill, the common-sense meaning of the wording of the Act, is justified, I have never been able to see why counties should not get less where it is distinctly proved that they were getting too much before. What has happened shows conclusively that the Department made up their minds to issue this scheme. The protests of myself and other Members were all futile. All the deputations that came up here from Scotland were useless. All the money that they spent coming here —it amounted to hundreds of pounds—might as well have been distributed among the deserving poor. No attention whatever was paid to the deputations or anyone else, and this scheme was perpetuated, or the attempt is made to perpetuate it.

I should like to call attention to the reply of the Secretary for Scotland to some remarks I made in this House on the 24th of November, 1908, with regard to the peculiar position of my own Constituency in this matter. He said: "It would be quite possible to consider whether the special circumstances of a district such as South Lanark were not of sufficient magnitude to justify the creation of a special district committee for the purpose." May I ask the Lord Advocate to say whether these special circumstances have now been considered, and what has been the result of that consideration? I can find nothing in the second scheme of allocation showing that any consideration has been given to it. On the other hand, I should like to refer to the paper issued by the Department, which goes to prove not only my contention that this scheme is not within the meaning and intention of the Act, but that the Department itself at that time (on the 22nd of June last year) did not believe it was within the meaning and intention of the Act; because in that paper there are two columns. In one they say, "Distribution of the fund divided according to the principle of Clause 16 of the Act." In the second column they say "distribution according to the scheme." I trust that the Lord Advocate, who tells me that this allocation is strictly in accordance with the Act, will explain it. I ask him definitely if it is possible that both these schemes can be within the meaning of the Act. Under one of these schemes Lanarkshire gets £49,900, while under the other it gets £41,600. Are both these schemes according to the Act? If they are, and if the Secretary for Scotland and the Education Department can alter and twist about in this capricious manner the amount of money which they give to the various districts of Scotland under the Act, then the sooner we have the Act altered the better. I think I have sufficiently proved that I have every reason for saying: I am not, of course, talking from a legal point of view, for I am not a lawyer, but a business man who has looked at legal documents for many years from a common-sense point of view—that we have a right for an explanation of that extraordinary diversity. In the speech which the Secretary for Scotland made on the 24th November, 1908, he said:— Therefore they were obliged to modify the application of the principle of the Bill, and instead of applying that principle to the whole sum, they applied it to only a part of that sum. I ask the Lord Advocate whether it is possible for the Secretary for Scotland or for the Department to modify an Act which has been passed by this House. There are only two courses open here. They must either fall back upon the scheme of distribution originally printed in May, 1908, with a Memorandum explanatory of the provisions of the Act, or they must repeal Clause 16 (2) of the Act as being more in accordance with justice to the populated parts of the country.


I hope the House will not proceed with this Motion of the hon. Member for Leith. It is quite natural that he and my hon. Friend the Member for South Lanark should complain of this allocation. I suppose every locality in Scotland which considers itself injured by the allocation will complain. On the other hand those localities which consider they are favoured will be ready to support the scheme. The House will recognise at once the impossibility of pleasing everybody by the distribution, I need scarcely say that the Education Department has been at infinite pains, and has made careful and anxious inquiry in framing the scheme now before the House. In framing the scheme they have had consultations with and listened to the views expressed by all the various localities interested. That is the best result which I think could be produced in the first year of the working of the Act. My hon. Friend challenges the scheme on the ground that it is customary with the Act of Parliament, and, as I understand, he asks the House to believe that the Statute lays down a fixed and rigid rule in accordance with which this money is to be expended. The Act of Parliament does not do so. If the Act had done so the Minute would be a wholly unnecessary document, would be entirely superfluous, and the office boy or the accountant would have framed the scheme without the slightest difficulty if he had only to follow the peremptory and mandatory terms of the Act. It is just because the Act, whilst enjoining on the Department to have certain considerations in view in framing their allocation, left them a free hand, and with a large discretionary power in the distribution of money, that it becomes necessary to lay the Minute on the Table of the House showing the method of distribution proposed. I think the House will recognise that if a Minute is to be framed and laid on the Table of the House that it must be done having due regard to the various elements mentioned in the Act as matters to be taken into account in determining the distribution. What are those elements? You are to give greater aid to the localities which are most necessitous. That is the leading rule. My hon. Friends cannot dispute that the most necessitous districts benefit greatly by this allocation. It cannot be denied that Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, Cromarty, and Inverness are all greatly benefited. I have no doubt the hon. Members who represent those constituencies will support the scheme. So far I am glad to find myself in entire agreement with my hon. Friends.


No, no.


It may be challenged by the Members for some counties, but I submit the necessitous districts have generous treatment. We must keep population and valuation steadily in view. Those are the factors which necessarily enter into our calculations, but it is not laid down in any rigid or peremptory rule that you must keep them in view. You are entitled to exercise your discretion in the distribution of the money having regard to the heavy weight imposed upon certain poor localities where the education rate is very high. It may be worth while to remind the House that the total sum distributed is something like £422,000. A sum of £190,000 is distributed according to population, and secondly, there is a sum of £94,000 which is distributed according to what my Friends call "the peremptory and rigid rule of the Act." I do not admit there is any rigid or peremptory rule in their sense, although £94,000 is distributed according to a rigid and peremptory rule. Next there comes a modest grant of £6,000 for Highland counties. Then there comes a grant of £38,000 distributed amongst the localities where the population is sparse, and where it is necessary, if education is to be efficient, that some assistance should be given in support of the teaching staff. These are counties where the schools are small, and the Education Department does not feel that it would be quite fair to insist upon rigid adherence to the rule with regard to the number of pupils and teachers. You may have a school with 50 pupils and one teacher. According to the Code that is sufficient. In a large school in a thickly populated district you might find your 50 pupils all of the same stage and easily taught by one teacher; but in these sparsely populated districts the children are of different stages, and if you insisted on the rule of the Department being applied you would have very inefficient teaching; whereas if you make a grant of £30 or £40 towards an additional teacher you get efficient teaching. It is really these grants which have caused many of the inequalities pointed out by the hon. Member for Leith Burghs (Mr. Munro Ferguson). I do not challenge his figures at all; I offer an explanation of what seems at first sight to be an unfair distribution.

Then there follows a sum of £30,000, distributed amongst those localities that have what are known as "higher class" schools, which were excluded from the Parliamentary grant by the Act of 1872, and some of which fell into a very sorry plight after the passing of that Act. It was found that if these schools were to be kept in an efficient condition, it was necessary to give them a grant of money, and this £30,000 is distributed amongst them. It so happens that Forfarshire, to which the hon. Member called our attention, is a county in which there is an exceptional number of these schools; therefore there was a considerable sum of money granted to keep them efficient. This money was not given in relief of rates at all. What it did was to increase the efficiency of the teaching. If you withdrew the money you would not relieve the rates, you would merely reduce the efficiency of the education given.

I come last to a sum of £62,000, which is known as the residue grant. That is distributed under the Act of 1890—I admit according to what we now consider to be a wrong principle, namely, the amount of valuation. The amount of the grant is in direct ratio to the valuation, and not in inverse ratio, as we now prefer. I readily admit that that £62,000, as it is distributed under this Minute, is not distributed strictly according to the rules, such as they are, laid down in the Act of Parliament. If there was a rigid rule, which I have pointed out there is not, I agree that this distribution would not be in accordance with it. But let the House observe what would be the effect of abruptly changing the method of distribution. You dislocate the finances of these localities. What the Department has endeavoured to do is not to make a sudden and abrupt change. The Department has endeavoured to make the change gradually, so as not to inflict any hardship or inconvenience upon these localities by suddenly withdrawing the grants upon which they have been accustomed—entitled indeed—to rely to give efficient education within their boundaries. Finally, there is nothing rigid or cast iron about the distribution. It is not like the laws of the Medes and Persians. It is subject to revision in the light of experience which we shall presently gain when the money is distributed and the results are seen. Let me offer the assurance to the House that it is not the intention on the part of the Department to lay down a rule to be rigidly followed throughout, and after experience has shown us that it may be defective in various particulars. The great merit of the scheme laid down by Act of Parliament is that it is subject to annual revision. Experience will doubtless enable us to make the distribution on a sounder basis in the future.

Let me invite the House to come to a decision. I do not challenge the figures given by the hon. Member for the Leith Burghs; only I ask the House, in considering these figures of grants to the localities, to consider that they are not really grants by any manner of means in relief of the rates, but they are given for the purpose of increasing the efficiency of the education of the localities. I do not think it is within the power of man to make a distribution that is absolutely mathematical and proportionately exact. When we have made our distribution and garnered our experience, we shall probably distribute our money next year even on a better system than this present Minute discloses.


The right hon. Gentleman has made the very best case that it is possible to make, but he has put forward two different arguments which are mutually destructive. He began his speech by maintaining the position that he has taken before—that in the action of the Scottish Department with regard to this Minute there was to be found nothing inconsistent with the most scrupulous regard to the provisions of the Act of Parliament. But the Lord Advocate made no attempt to meet the figures of the right hon. Gentleman. He said: "I admit the accuracy of the figures." Then he went on to say that he agreed that the present distribution was not strictly according to the rule. He said there was no rigid rule in the Act of Parliament. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said this is not a sudden and abrupt, change. There is a good deal of force in the argument not to have sudden and abrupt changes, but if changes are to take place we hope they will be changes towards the position in the Act of Parliament and not away from it. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Act itself. The Act lays down certain broad principles of method, certain purposes for which the distribution is to be made and to which certain sums of money are to be applied. The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly accurate in saying the Act is not absolutely rigid. No Act is absolutely rigid as to the exact distribution, but Acts are absolutely rigid as to the principle that govern these matters, and for the very good reason that the money controlled by the Department by virtue of the Act of Parliament are moneys placed outside Parliamentary control and over which the ordinary financial machinery of Parliament—the Auditor-General, the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons—can have no such exact control as they have over sums of money that appear yearly upon the Estimates. That being the case, Parliament always has been most zealous of preserving the most scrupulous accuracy in the action of the Departments in regard to the administration of the principles on which the distribution should take place. We maintain that this scheme of the Department does not carry out, in the spirit or indeed in the letter, the principles which are laid down in the Act. Section 16 (2) has been referred to. I will only quote the most important words: "A scheme is to be prepared which is to be so framed as to give greater aid to those districts in which per head of the population the burden of expenditure on educational purposes is excessive as compared with the valuation of the district." In order that there might be no possible doubt as to the meaning of that Act, the late Lord Advocate, Lord Shaw, made a speech in Committee on the Bill, in which he set forth very clearly indeed what was the intention of the Government, and his speech certainly influenced my vote on that occasion, and probably influenced the votes of a good many others. What was it the then Lord Advocate said? He said:— Our scheme is going to be so framed that it will be a scheme in order to help densely populated places where there was not a large valuation. The object was to get hold of the necessitous districts and relieve the populous districts which needed money and could not levy rates because they were so high already. That is a clear statement of the intentions of the Government. That is the gloss which the Government put upon the words of their own Bill which is now an Act. Let us see how far this statement made by the late Lord Advocate in regard to the necessitous districts is justified by the facts. Take the counties of Kirkcudbrightshire and Sutherland. Judged by the standard the Government have set up, those two cases do not correspond with their intentions. The point we have to keep steadily in view is valuation per head of the population, and the rate per thousand as compared with valuation. The figures on those two points are entirely against the scheme which has been brought forward. As regards valuation, I find that in Scotland, as a whole, the average valuation per head of the population is a fraction over £7, but in the districts which benefit under the present scheme the valuation is nearly £8. When you come to the rate in Scotland, as a whole, it is l0d. In the districts advantaged it is 8½d., or l½d. less than the average, but in the districts which are disadvantaged it is l1d., or 1d. over the average. Districts with a high valuation and a low school rate and a small population are, one after the other, getting more money than districts with a low valuation, a high rate, and a large population. When the right hon. Gentleman speaks about the necessity for having a more or less continuous policy, may I remind him that that is exactly the vicious principle of earmarking and stereotyping past errors of grants in regard to which the Scotch Education Department on a previous occasion fell foul of the Public Accounts Committee of this House.

If I remember rightly, there was five years ago a case in which this precise point of earmarking a certain grant came up, and the Minute of the Scotch Education Department was disallowed by the Auditor-General. When the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Advocate spoke of that as a more or less continuous policy, I am bound to say the recollection of that case crossed my mind. I am not going to labour the point any further, but the matter is rather intricate and complicated, and it is important. I have not argued it from the point of view of one set of districts as compared with another set of districts, but in proposing this scheme the Department are going beyond the declared and expressed provisions of Parliament, and more than that, the clearly expressed intentions of the Government, as explained by the Lord Advocate.


The Lord Advocate, in the course of his speech, succeeded in steering clear of most of the most awkward questions put to him. I desire to support the Motion for two reasons—first, because I believe that this new scheme inflicts gross injustice upon certain districts; and, secondly, because I regard it as a breach of faith towards the House itself. When the Scotch Education Bill was passing through its Report stage, we were assured by the representatives of the Government that the net result of the scheme they themsolves put forward would be that the voluntary schools in Scotland would receive an increased grant of 2s. per head. What has become of that pledge now? It has been absolutely broken, and the voluntary schools in Scotland will not only not receive 2s. in increased grant; but they will not receive any increased grant at all. The finance of the Scotch education system is so complicated that it is impossible for an Englishman, and very difficult even for an Irishman to understand it; but this, so far as I can gather, is the position. There are certain prior charges or preferential claims for higher education upon the Scotch Education Department, and the board schools and the voluntary schools get only the residue of the money. It is common knowledge that the demands for higher education are increasing year by year and will have to be met, and anybody can see that as the prior claims increase the residue must be reduced. That is a great danger of which I am afraid we shall hear more as the years roll by. The scheme, which was in accordance with the Act of Parliament, provided that the valuation of the district should be the standard of the allocation, and the poorer the district the greater should be the grant. That has been absolutely swept away and we are back again to the old system. The Lord Advocate himself admitted, as indeed the Secretary for Scotland (Lord Pentland) has admitted before him, that this scheme is not in accordance with the Act of Parliament. Who has empowered the Education Department of Scotland to override an Act of Parliament? Is it the Secretary for Scotland? I regret we have not got him here, but political circumstances have transferred him to another place, and I am only sorry he has acclimatised himself so soon to the atmosphere of another place that he is prepared to override an Act of Parliament. Perhaps it is not his fault. It may be the fault of the Secretary of the Department of Education for Scotland. I have formed a very high opinion of his abilities and have very great respect for him. I believe in Scotland he is regarded as a great educational authority. But I am not prepared to say he is infallible, and I do not think the scheme proposed is one likely to meet with general approval in Scotland. Neither do I think that he or the Secretary for Scotland has a right to override an Act of Parliament. I do not know what your power would be, Mr. Speaker, if it were pointed out to you that this Order is not in accordance with the Act. It is a point which may be raised at a later stage and it certainly deserves consideration. The Lord Advocate seems to think that the scheme is for the benefit of necessitous districts, but I fancy it might fairly he described as the Edinburgh, Peebles and Berwick Relief Scheme, as its effect will be to benefit residential districts where people of wealth and leisure live and to penalise industrial districts. We have heard the dismal dirge of the dilapidated dukes in regard to the Budget, but there is no reason why this House should pass an education scheme which clearly has been drafted in the interests, not of the industrial but of the well-to-do classes. Even the Tories could propose nothing more undemocratic than this. I hope that at the earliest possible moment the Secretary for Scotland will reconsider the scheme. In Edinburgh, which is benefited by it, not a penny is voted for the up-keep of the Catholic secondary schools, whereas in Lanarkshire and in other districts which are penalised by it large contributions are made towards the maintenance of Catholic schools. It is a fact which should not be lost sight of, that three-fourths of the children attending voluntary schools in Scotland, are attending schools in the very districts which are disadvantaged by the scheme now before the House, and it is not to be wondered at therefore that we, who represent here our fellow countrymen in Scotland, should resent this proposal and ask the Department to reconsider it. I have been told that if this is pressed to a Division, it may be a serious matter, and that the Secretary for Scotland may resign. I hope the Members of the House will not be afraid to record their votes even in face of a threat of that kind. There was once a famous Member of Parliament, the late Mr. Biggar, who took for his motto, "Never resign anything," and I think the Members of the Liberal Party may rest perfectly satisfied that the last thing the Secretary for Scotland will think of is handing in his resignation if the House decides against him to-night. He will show resignation, but it will be resignation to the decision of the House, and I hope on this occasion the House will give it clearly to be understood by the Secretary for Scotland and the Education Department, that having passed an Act of Parliament which lays down the principles upon which this Statute should be administered, it means to insist upon what it has laid down being obeyed.

Mr. MUNRO FERGUSON rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

And the Question not being decided in the affirmative, because it was not supported by the majority prescribed by Standing Order No. 27—

Original Question again proposed.

[Standing Order 27. Questions for the closure of Debate under Standing Order "Closure of Debate," shall be decided in the affirmative, if, when a division be taken, it appears by the numbers declared from the Chair that not less than one hundred Members voted in the majority in support of the Motion.]


When the Lord Advocate commenced his speech he began with an appeal to the hon. Member (Mr. Munro Ferguson) not to proceed further with the Motion. I cannot help thinking the Lord Advocate was wise in making the appeal at the commencement of his speech instead of at the end.

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 89; Noes, 21.

Division No. 227.] AYES. [12.18 a.m.
Ainsworth, John Stirling Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.) Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Rowlands, J.
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Gulland, John W. Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Seely, Colonel
Barnes, G. N. Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Bignold, Sir Arthur Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Haworth, Arthur A. Strachey, Sir Edward
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Illingworth, Percy H. Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Clyde, James Avon Jones, Leif (Appleby) Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire))
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)
Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) Laidlaw, Robert Tuke, Sir John Batty
Craik, Sir Henry Lamont, Norman Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Cross, Alexander Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Villiers, Ernest Amherst
Dalrymple, Viscount Lewis, John Herbert Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Dalziel, Sir James Henry Lyell, Charles Henry Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) M'Callum, John M. Watt, Henry A.
Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.) M'Micking, Major G. Weir, James Galloway
Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.) Massie, J. Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Molteno, Percy Alport Wiles, Thomas
Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan) Morse, L. L. Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)
Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Elibank, Master of Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Evans, Sir Samuel T. Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster) Younger, George
Everett, R. Lacey Norton, Captain Cecil William
Falconer, James Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Saffron Walden) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Munro Ferguson and Sir Walter
Forster, Henry William Pullar, Sir Robert
Fuller, John Michael F. Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Menzies.
Bowerman, C. W. MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.) Philipps, John (Longford, S.)
Bryce, J. Annan MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Esslemont, George Birnie Meehan, Francis E. (Lei trim, N.) Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Nolan, Joseph Sutherland, J. E.
Hogan, Michael O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Williamson, Sir Archibald
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) O'Doherty, Philip
Joyce, Michael O'Dowd, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Dundas White and Captain Waring.
Lundon, Thomas O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)
Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)

Nothing which he said will in the least modify the discontent which is felt with this scheme generally. I will only give one instance of the injustice, and this in reference to my own Constituency. The example I will take is the comparison between Peebles and Banffshire. Banffshire, with eight times the necessity, receives only three times the grant as compared with Peebles. My Constituency consider that is unfair, and certainly unfair as compared with the first scheme laid before the Scottish Grand Committee last year. Under the first scheme laid before the Grand Committee, Peebles would have got £910 and Banffshire £7,760. or eight times the amount. Naturally there has been considerable discontent, and we had hoped to receive from the Lord Advocate a statement that he was willing, at all events next year, to produce a scheme in conformity with the Act—a.

scheme which would have carried out the principles of equity and the promises of Members of the Government as well as the intention and letter of their own Act of Parliament. Nothing the Lord Advocate has said leads us to believe that that will be done, and therefore I trust that the Motion will be carried to a Division. I will certainly vote for it.


I wish to call attention to the fact that the scheme adopted by the Department as to distribution of the fund is of a highly complex character. It seems to me that it is hardly the system which anyone would have arrived at if he had gone on the principle which, according to the Act, governs this matter. The Lord Advocate said something about the necessity of continuity of policy, and of not making too great a break in the existing system. I should like to know whether that means that there may be a chance of a change being made in some future year. There again we will find ourselves in a difficulty, because if any difference is proposed we will be met with the same argument as we are met with now, that if any other system is adopted some of these favoured localities will receive somewhat less than they receive now. Therefore, it will be as difficult to do it then as now. If the Department would adopt a more simple system of distribution I should think it could be carried out, and the case of necessitous districts could be fairly met by a simple scheme based on the principles of the Act.


Several hon. Members have referred to the first scheme under this Act, and one of the hon. Members for Lanarkshire said we should fall back on the old scheme. But that scheme actually reduced the grants in nineteen districts, although the Act imposed new duties on these districts. Yet these Members preferred to see these grants reduced in spite of the new duties. Reference has been made to the increase given to some districts. May I be allowed to give the percentage of increase on the old grants to necessitous districts? Shetland has 51 per cent. increase, Orkney 34, Caithness 26, Sutherlandshire 22, and Ross 18. These are all poor, necessitous districts.




Our Friend says it was passed in the interests of Edinburgh. But a greater percentage of increase was given to Glasgow than to Edinburgh under this scheme. Glasgow gets 11.3 per cent. and Edinburgh 11.1.


Does the hon. Member suggest that in the second scheme, as compared with the first scheme, Glasgow is getting an increase?


My point is that under the first scheme nineteen districts would suffer by getting decreased grants, although under the Act new obligations are placed on them, while the new scheme accepts the principle of increased grants to all necessitous districts, and the localities which need these grants are to get a considerable increase on what they got before. If you compare Edinburgh with Glasgow you will find that Glasgow gets a greater increase than Edinburgh. The county of Lanark gets an increase of over 17 per cent. while the county of Edinburgh only gets an increase of 6.5 per cent., that is to say the county of Lanark actually gets three times the increase that is given to the county of Edinburgh. Educational authorities met the Under-Secretary for Scotland in Edinburgh. All these men from different parts of Scotland discussed this question and decided to allow the scheme until we have some experience of it, and it would be very unfair of the House to break through this arrangement.


In reference to those places which are to receive more under this scheme than under the other, am I not correct in supposing that although they are receiving more under this scheme, they are not receiving so much as they would have received under the original scheme?


I cannot say whether the hon. Member is correct or not in that.


We have heard a great deal about the increases in various counties of Scotland, but I should like to call attention to the exceptional cases of Nairn and Kinross, counties which, instead of having been increased, have actually sustained a decreased allocation. They are the only two counties which have got less than they had before.


The hon. Gentleman is wrong about Kinross. There has been special provision for it.


The little county of Nairn has been singled out of all the counties of Scotland for a diminished grant instead of having an increased one. There is apparently a battle between the rival school boards of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and while this battle goes on the poor little county of Nairn is given the cold shoulder. I should like to know whether the Lord Advocate cannot give some assurance that Nairn will receive an increased grant.


The Secretary for Scotland, in November last, when he proposed this distribution of the grant in regard to the effect it would have on the voluntary schools of Scotland, said he could assure the hon. Gentleman that the balance of the fund to be distributed, according to the last part of Clause 15, was an increase of at least one-half on the distribution now. made to voluntary schools. He went on to explain that instead of the distribution amounting to 4s. per head, the allocation with which the House was dealing would be increased to 6s., and in some cases double. Is that still the case under the present scheme?


I have not the figures with me, but perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put down a question.

Mr. J. M. HENDERSON (who spoke amid cries of "Divide")

I wish to point out the very important fact that there is no such thing as a valuation of the districts, and you are going to conform to the law when this most important factor is wanting. The county is the district, and there is no such thing as a valuation for the school board rate, and, therefore, you cannot conform to the law. There was a conference last Monday in Edinburgh of three members supporting and three members contesting this scheme. The hon. Member read the Resolution which set

forth that it was agreed that the present Minute be accepted on the understanding that there should be a further conference to make known the result.


The county of Orkney and Shetland, while they do not receive as much under this as under the original draft sketch, which the Secretary for Scotland carefully stated was only a tentative proposal, do receive very much larger grants than under the scheme finally decided on by the Scottish Committee for which I am grateful.


This question is one which affects the interests of our constituents very seriously indeed. The hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire (Mr. J. M. Henderson) referred to a conference which took place a few days ago in Edinburgh, and at which three representatives of the counties content with the scheme and three representatives of the counties opposed to the scheme now before the House met. He pointed out that those gentlemen came to an understanding that this scheme should be accepted tentatively, but he forgot to mention to the House, or omitted to mention, that when the three representatives of those who objected to this scheme reported to those whom they represented they absolutely repudiated the decision at which they had arrived. As a matter of fact, they had no power to come to any such decision.

Question put, "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying His Majesty to withheld his assent to the Scheme of Allocation of the balance of the Education (Scotland) Fund for 1909–10, contained in a Minute of the Committee of Council on Education in Scotland, dated the 3rd day of June, 1909, and laid upon the Table of this House on the said 3rd day of June, 1909."

The House divided: Ayes, 36; Noes, 67.

Division No. 228.] AYES. [12.45 a.m.
Barnes, G. N. Laidlaw, Robert Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Bignold, Sir Arthur Lundon, Thomas Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Bowerman, C. W. Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Cochrane, Hon. Thomas H. A. E. Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)
Cross, Alexander MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.) Waring, Walter
Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan) MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.) Watt, Henry A.
Esslemont, George Birnie M'Callum, John M. White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Forster, Henry William Meysey-Thompson, E. C.
Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.) Nolan, Joseph
Hardle, J. Keir (Merthyr-Tydvil) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Munro Ferguson and Sir Walter
Hogan, Michael O'Doherty, Philip
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Philipps, John (Longford, S.) Menzies.
Joyce, Michael Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Ainsworth, John Stirling Haworth, Arthur A. Strachey, Sir Edward
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Illingworth, Percy H. Sutherland, J. E.
Bryce, J. Annan Jones, Leif (Appleby) Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Tuke, Sir John Batty
Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight Lamont, Norman Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Villiers, Ernest Amherst
Dalrymple, Viscount Lyell, Charles Henry Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Dalziel, Sir James Henry M'Micking, Major G. Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Massie, J. Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Molteno, Percy Alport Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.) Morse, L. L. Weir, James Galloway
Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Murray, James (Aberdeen, E.) Wiles, Thomas
Elibank, Master of Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster) Williamson, Sir Archibald
Evans, Sir Samuel T. Norton, Capt. Cecil William Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)
Everett, R. Lacey Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Falconer, James Pullar, Sir Robert Younger, George
Fuller, John Michael F. Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Mr. Herbert Lewis.
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Rowlands, J.
Gulland, John W. Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Seely, Colonel