HC Deb 28 October 1909 vol 12 cc1303-4

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


I do not know why the Minister for Education is not in his place, nor do I see the Parliamentary Secretary. Is there any Minister who can inform the House what the effect of this Bill is? It is, I gather, an attempt at legislation by reference, but it may or may not embody provisions of very considerable importance. I hope some Minister will tell the House what is its general purport. It appears to me to cover a wide area, and to deal with difficult subjects and complicated details. It may or may not be intended to smooth rough corners in existing Education Acts, and it may, on the other hand, conduce to very important changes in the law.


I am sorry the Ministers responsible are not able to be in their place, but I may say I have explained the Bill to some of the official Members of the Opposition, and they agreed there was no reason why the second reading should not be proceeded with. The President of the Board of Education in the last Government has gone carefully through it, and assures me he has not the slightest objection to any of its provisions, which are really of a formal character. The object of the Bill is simply to make it quite certain that certain action being adopted in the country is absolutely legal. Since the passing of the Education Act, 1902, two or three measures have been carried giving the Education authorities certain powers—for instance, in connection with the inspection of children in the various elementary schools. Certain powers have also been given under the Act for providing meals for certain children and the object of the Clause is to enable these powers to be transferred to the various Education Committees constituted in regard to schools under the Act of 1902. It is not certain that these later powers which have been conferred upon the Educational authority can be transferred to the Education Committee, and with a view to make that legal it was thought advisable to introduce Clause 1. In regard to Clause 4, under the present state of the law, it is not quite certain whether minors can legally enter into an undertaking to repay a large sum of money to be fully trained in certain training colleges to give instruction in elementary schools, and the Clause is introduced in order to enable them to be bound by the undertaking which they give. I think I have stated enough of these provisions, which really are of a formal character, and I trust that the second reading may be given to-night. If the hon. Member or any other hon. Members desire further particulars there will be a further opportunity on a subsequent, stage, either to-morrow or Tuesday, when the representative of the Education Board will be present.

Resolved, "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House."—[Mr. Joseph Pease.]