§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I rise only for a moment or two to make an appeal to the President of the Board of Education, which I think will be supported by every Member who has listened to the Debate to-day. There are some of us who think that the problems connected with education are in importance second to none that come up for consideration by this House. I desire very respectfully to submit that the opportunity given us to-day to discuss these problems of education is altogether inadequate. I would say, in passing, that even if we had had full time to-day it would still have been inadequate. But as the House is well aware, we had to sacrifice from the Education Debate something like an hour and three quarters for a discussion on Private Bills. In addition to that, owing to some Members having to deal with questions of very great importance which they found it impossible to present to the House in a brief way—perhaps it was not possible—only a few Members have been able to take part in this Debate. I want to point out further that although certain questions have been discussed at great length, questions like the Holmes circular, the Swansea case, the great bulk of general problems which have cropped up have, not been discussed at all. They have been hardly hinted at. The question of the relation of secondary education to elementary education, the problems of the inside of secondary schools and of the inside of the elementary schools, of the aftercare of the children, of the development of educational systems—these things have practically not been touched upon. Finally, I would point out that an informal Committee of this House exists to study educational problems from the standpoint of the needs of the children. None of the members of that Committee have had the opportunity of giving the views of that Committee to-day. I venture earnestly to appeal to the President that we should be allowed another day for the discussion of the Education Estimates. I trust—I feel 621 sure—that the House may count upon his sympathetic reception of that request.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I desire to associate myself with every word that has fallen from the mouth of the hon. Gentleman opposite. What has really happened to-day is this, that during a comparatively short sitting of the House, the President of the Board, with an extremely interesting and able speech, occupied very nearly two and a half hours of the time.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
Well, it was at least two and a quarter hours; to be quite accurate it was two hours and twenty minutes. A very considerable proportion of the rest of the Parliamentary time has been taken up with Private Bills. Exactly the same thing occurred last Session when the Education Vote came on. I agree with the hon. Gentleman opposite that there is no Vote coming up in this House of more importance than that of education. A considerable number of us sit in this House with the object of representing the views of the local education authorities of the county councils. There has been absolutely no opportunity for the representatives of the administrative bodies to put their views before the Government with regard to matters of pure education. The time of the House is taken up with what may be the views of one section or another of what I may call the militant educationists. A very considerable number of men in this House as well as in the country would like to have an opportunity of considering the administration of the Board from the purely educational standpoint. I appeal to the President of the Board to use his influence with the Government to give us another day for such discussion.
§ Mr. JONATHAN SAMUEL
There is one aspect of this question which I should like to press upon the President of the Board why we should have another opportunity of discussing. I refer to the question of the building of new schools. In that policy I quite agree, but it is quite impossible for local authorities to continue building new schools unless they get some assistance from the Exchequer. I am a member of the Durham County Education Committee. We have spent up to the present something like £850,000 in new elementary schools, and about £150,000 on secondary schools, and about another £40,000 on a new college. The higher education rate cannot exceed 2d. in the £, but the expenditure is going up year by year and if the Board 622 of Education desires this building to go on by the local authorities the Government must assist and are bound to assist these local authorities in the building of new schools. We have taken over in Durham something like 40,000 children from non-provided schools to provided schools. That may shock some hon. Members opposite, but everyone must acknowledge the vast improvement in the new schools. In addition to that the growth of the population in our county is so great that we are bound to make provision for it and that means about 25,000 children more, so that we have to provide new schools or additions for about 65,000 children. That involves a very large addition to our expenditure equal to about £1,000,000, and we desire that the Exchequer should come to our assistance in making this large provision, otherwise it will foe quite impossible for the local authorities to do so. The matter has been debated over and over again, and we understood that the Board of Education intend to give a grant to the local authorities, and we have been building some of these schools in the expectation that that grant will be given. On this ground, therefore, I should like to urge upon the President the necessity for another day's discussion so that representatives of county councils and borough councils should express their views upon the necessity for this building grant from, the Exchequer. I am not a believer in grants to local authorities to any great extent because I think they lead to an extravagant method of expenditure. With regard to school buildings, if the Board of Education are going to press local authorities to build new schools and repair existing buildings they ought to assist them to find the money.
§ Sir GEORGE DOUGHTY
I have waited all the evening for an opportunity to put before the House the position of the ratepayer in regard to the smaller amount he is getting from the Exchequer as compared with what he was getting in 1907. This is a matter which I submit ought to have the attention of the House. Not one word has been said on that side of the question. Since 1906 the Government have not increased their proportion of grants for elementary education by one penny piece, and I believe it is a fact, and the returns show it, that last year the amount granted was considerably less than it was in 1907. At the same time the teachers' salaries have increased by 623 £1,000,000 and other charges by £250,000, and the burden of all the charges for the inspection of schools and medical attention has been thrown upon the ratepayers. An increased expenditure amounting to about £2,000,000 has been thrown upon the local ratepayers, and the Treasury have not found any portion of that amount. I think the time has come when we ought to have an opportunity of discussing the whole question of finance, both local and Imperial, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us another opportunity of discussing this important question.
I am sure the President of the Board of Education sympathises very strongly with the ratepayers. You cannot go on for ever calling upon the ratepayers to increase their burdens without the Treasury finding some of the money. I am sure this is a question which would be discussed on both sides in a fair spirit in the hope of getting the right hon. Gentleman to put pressure on the Treasury to bear their fair proportion of the burden. In 1907 58 per cent. of the cost of education came from the Treasury, but last year the proportion was only 50 per cent., and thus is becoming an intolerable strain upon the ratepayers and a serious impediment to the progress of education. This is a matter of deep concern to those who desire to see both elementary and secondary education materially improved in our great municipalities.
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
I readily join with my hon. Friends in asking for a further extension of time for the discussion of this question, which I think is an obvious necessity. The speech of the President, although admirable in tone, left on my mind the profound impression that although his policy may be excellent there are those in his department actively engaged in defeating that policy. If what the right hon. Gentleman has stated represented the operative policy of the Board of Education he would have every hon. Member behind him who sits on this side. I can submit a statement which will prove that the policy laid down by the right hon. Gentleman is not the policy which has been operative throughout the country. Something has been said about the anxiety in the country which has arisen in regard to the way in which the teaching profession has been set in antagonism to the Board of Education by those miserable Holmes-Morant circulars. The first of these circulars was issued in 1908 and the second in 1910. Mr. Selly Bigge 624 having this Circular before him added to it this Minute and then forwarded it to his superior, Sir Robert L. Morant. This note, in my opinion, does demonstrate that the policy the President has laid down is not the policy upon which the Board of Education has acted. This is what the superior of Mr. Holmes said to his superior when he forwarded the Holmes Circular to that official:—Secretary. I think this will interest you. I see no way of tackling the local inspection difficulty directly. Where we find the teachers of a locality in thrall to the mechanical and unenlightened and rigid methods of Local Inspectors, the best way of turning their flank—I hope the House will realise the full significance of that expression—seems to me to be the concentration of a selected-body of our inspectors on one or two of the most objectionable features, and their drastic condemnation! in a sort of full inspection report—I ask the House to consider this further phrase.We have done a little of this kind of work lately, and I wish we could do much more. A critical report on certain points of school work or methods impresses the Local Education Authority much more when it emanates from a body of our men drawn from different parts of England than when it comes from the District Inspector alone.This note is signed, "L. A. Selly Bigge," and is dated, "19th February, 1910." That note does prove that during the past three years the policy of the Education Department has not been the policy as outlined to-day by the President of that Department. You have had Mr. Holmes and Mr. Selly Bigge engaged in a flanking movement, backed up by the whole inspectorate of the country to defeat the policy laid down by the right hon. Gentleman. His policy is a good policy, but he has men in his Department determined to defeat it, and unless he is prepared to trust the party and those who believe in the principles for which he stands we have not heard the last of the Holmes Circular.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Runciman)
The main request which has been made to-night is that there should be an extension of the discussion by the granting of another day. I regret I should have had to occupy the time of the House so long, but as a matter of fact we were done with questions at a very early hour, and I certainly did not detain the House for two and a half hours as somebody has suggested. I think there is a good deal to be said for having a. further discussion on the Education Vote. It is quite certain we might well devote our attention to purely educational subjects. I do not propose at this hour of the night to reply to the speech that has been made by the hon. Member for 625 Grimsby (Sir George Doughty) or that made by the hon. Member for Stockton (Mr. J. Samuel), but I cannot accept the figures given by the hon. Member for Grimsby.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I do not think the hon. Gentleman has carefully compared the details of the Votes, of the Elementary Vote in particular, during the last few years. He will find there has been a very substantial increase in the amount of money spent by the Exchequer on elementary education during the past year, and there will be a further increase in the coining year. I do not propose to go into that now.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I think it would be quite improper for me on this occasion to make any promise of building grants, but I do not think, so far as I know, there has at any time been any promise of any building grants. I have no recollection of that promise ever having been made. I should be very glad to have more money at my disposal, but I have not got it. I need not refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Kellaway) except to say the Minute he quoted shows exactly the opposite of what he himself says. If the hon. Member thinks for one moment I would tolerate any member of my staff not acting in complete harmony with my policy he is very much mistaken. If the hon. Member has any accusation to make against the staff I shall be glad to have it in specific terms. But he has so far given me no evidence that any member of the staff has acted in any way antagonistically to my policy. He is industrious and pertinacious, and if there be any foundation for his accusation he will sooner or later get hold of some specific act with which I can deal. But until he does produce a specific case I can only say I have no evidence of the disloyalty on the part of the staff, and unless I get such evidence I cannot say anyone is guilty of such disloyalty.
I desire to associate myself entirely with what has been said in different parts of the House in favour of extending the time for discussing our great educational system. Let me point out this: we have been asked to-day to vote a sum very nearly approaching ten millions sterling, and I do not think two 626 days is a whit too long to set apart for a Debate upon so large a sum and affecting so important a question as that of education. Let me also point out that thirteen. Members had on the Paper notices to move a reduction of the salary of the President of the Board of Education. There have been only thirteen speeches and of these eight occupied an average of forty minutes each. It is pretty obvious that a largo number of Members who are interested in this question have, like myself, sat here throughout the Debate, rising on every possible occasion and sustaining disappointment through being unable to make a desired contribution to a very interesting discussion. The President really must not think that he is satisfying us—and hero I speak not only for a large number of Members of the Liberal party, but for other hon. Members in all parts of the House—with what he has said, or with what the Parliamentary Secretary has said, on the subject of the Holmes Circular. This is a serious matter—one which affects deeply hundreds and thousands of people all over the land. The teachers are up in arms about it and are not yet satisfied. If the right hon. Gentleman desires to secure harmony in the educational world he must not think he can do it with a suspicious and discontented teaching staff. I ask the Government to find facilities for a further discussion on this Vote.
§ Lord BALCARRES
On the question of procedure I would remind hon. Members that there is power for the Government to allocate extra days to Supply. Since 1906 the Standing Order conferring this power has never once been taken advantage of, although prior to that date it was invariably put into operation. It is therefore quite open to hon. Members to ask the Government to exercise its privilege in this respect and give an. additional day.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will acquaint the Committee with the result of his appeal to the Prime Minister as soon as possible.
§ Mr. BOOTH
An extra day could me taken for Supply after the National Insurance Bill has been got through Committee. We could then return to this discussion with renewed vigour.
§ Adjourned at Twenty-nine minutes after Eleven o'clock.