§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I beg to move, "That Item Class IV, Vote 1 (Board of Education) be reduced by £100."
I wish at the outset to explain that the Motion is, of course, put down, not from any personal hostility to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Pease), but merely in order to call attention to the administration of the Education Department. As far as the right hon. Gentleman himself is concerned, I think that he is rather better than the average Minister of Education. He is certainly better than the Home Secretary (Mr. McKenna) was, and a great deal better than the present President of the Board of Agriculture (Mr. Runciman). The point that I wish to bring before the attention of the Committee is, in the first place, the administration of the secondary schools. I do not propose to say very much about that because I understand that hon. Friends who intend to follow in the Debate and take a great interest in the matter will deal with it. The point is entirely a simple one. The Government by their regulations have provided that denominational secondary schools shall be put under considerable disability unless they consent to undenominationalise themselves. That is the purpose of their regulations. Since the schools, generally speaking, are schools governed by trustees, they cannot carry out these regulations without a modification of their trust. Accordingly—and this is the real heinousness, to my 562 mind, of the action of the Government—the Government give an indication in the regulations that any application to them in their judicial capacity, as succeeding the Charity Commissioners, for a modification of the scheme in order to enable the schools to comply with the Government's, own regulations should be granted. That is, to my mind, a scandalous proceeding. It is, in effect, a connection of the judicial and administrative functions of the Department, and shows how wise some of us were to protest against any judicial function being granted to the Department.
I do not intend to refer to the actual details of what has been done under those regulations. They have, in fact, operated very harshly in a great number of cases, and have produced results which cannot be defended in any quarter of the House. The matter to which I desire especially to call attention is a subject which I am afraid has often been brought before the House and is very vital in character, the administration of the Education Act in Wales. The personal aspect of it compels me to refer once again to the Swansea case. I am not going to weary the Committee with an account of the details of that squalid dispute, but the Committee will remember the broad lines. The local education authority at Swansea used their legal powers for the purpose of religious persecution. They constantly oppressed this school, not because it was inefficient educationally, or because it failed to comply with the Act in any way, but merely because the religious teaching in the school was not sympathetic with that of the majority of the local education authority. The persecution took many forms. One of them was to underpay the teachers, a particularly low and discreditable form of persecution. When the Act first came into operation there was a certain difference between the salaries of the teachers; in the provided and the non-provided school. No one complains that that was not immediately remedied. But, instead or remedying it, the education authority took an early opportunity to increase the pay of the teachers of the provided schools and refused to increase the pay of the teachers of the non-provided schools.
The result was that the teachers in these schools very naturally protested, and the discipline and the education of the schools suffered seriously. At last the Government were compelled, after many protests from this side of the House, to send down a very distinguished lawyer, whom they 563 afterwards made a distinguished judge, under the name of Mr. Justice Hamilton, to hold an inquiry into the matter. The Committee will remember quite well that the result of the inquiry by Mr. Justice Hamilton was entirely in favour of the managers and entirely against the education authority. The Government apparently either misunderstood or wilfully disregarded that report, and decided that they would take no steps against the education authority, and, in answer to the appeal which the managers had made, they stated that they did not propose to interfere at all or remedy the injustice of which the managers complained. Thereupon, necessarily in order to protect the teachers and to protect themselves, the managers took proceedings in the Courts of Law. They went to the Court of King's Bench and obtained a mandamus against the Education Department to consider the matter, and, in effect, to give a decision the very reverse of what they had previously given. This was the unanimous decision of three judges. The Government were not satisfied. They insisted on going to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal, which again consisted of three judges, again unanimously decided against the Government. The Government, still not content, thought that they would try their fortune in the House of Lords, and the House of Lords, consisting of five judges, again unanimously decided against the Government. That really does mean oppression of the subject. The Government has enormous resources behind it; it has the whole of the taxes of the country to draw upon, and, after having first given a grossly unjust decision, as I think nobody will deny it was in the teeth of the report, they not only resisted the application to the Court in the first instance, but dragged them to the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords—they put the gentleman with whom they had to deal to such an expense that it may be quite certain that had they to deal with a man of less resource, of less public spirit, he would have been tired out before he had got to the end of the litigation. That was the calculation undoubtedly of some of the officials—I do not say of the right hon. Gentleman, for he was not then present at the Board—but that was the calculation of some of the advisers who are at present still in the employment of the Education Department. 564 I say that is a gross and scandalous oppression of the subject, and the least that can be done is to indemnify that gentleman or the managers for the costs to which they have been put. For the costs during the period before the inquiry the gentleman concerned got absolutely nothing. The official sent down to make an inquiry has no jurisdiction to give costs at all, and the gentleman therefore had to pay all those costs. No doubt he got a certain amount of taxed costs in respect of the proceedings in the three Courts, but anybody familiar with legal proceedings knows that costs recoverable as taxed costs in no sense are an indemnity. The result is that a sum of £2,000 has been imposed as the cost of defending the rights of this gentleman against the Government.
I say it would not be a right thing in the circumstances that he should be required to pay the whole of the £2,000 out of his own pocket. It is a particularly hard case, because, though no doubt there have been some subscriptions, the people concerned have had to find the money largely out of their own pockets. They have found no less a sum than £24,000 to comply with Government requirements in putting every school in order. Unquestionably those requirements were of the harshest possible description, but even assuming they were legitimate, under the circumstances, I submit that the right course for the Government to take is to say that this gentleman should not be fined £2,000, but should receive payment of his costs in full out of the finances of the country. It was not only a matter of personal pique this gentleman was fighting; he was fighting to establish a very important principle, and he did establish it. The principle was that there should be under the Act of 1902 no differentiation in payment of salaries to teachers in public elementary schools on religious or political grounds. That is a principle which, I believe, must commend itself to every single person in this House. No one can really say that the teachers should suffer, and, after all, if we have any lingering belief in religious liberty and authority we must desire, that those who are teaching one set of religious opinions shall be no worse off than those who are teaching another set. Under these circumstances that principle was definitely established. It was laid down in the clearest possible terms by the Court of Appeal, and in rather less clear terms, but with sufficient clearness in the House of Lords, 565 and it is now as much the law of the land as if it were actually part and parcel of any Statute. Under these circumstances, what has been the administration of the Education Department with reference to other Welsh schools?
In a number of other Welsh schools, Abertillery, Merthyr, and in the schools of Glamorganshire and Cardiganshire, and, I dare say in a number of other schools of which I have no knowledge, it has been the practice of the local education authority deliberately to differentiate between the salaries paid in provided and non-provided schools on religious grounds. It is not done in individual schools on some special ground as to inefficiency or anything of that sort; it is done on religious grounds, and those dissenters, those political dissenters, those who cause the religious difficulty, are not ashamed to deprive the unhappy teacher, some poor man or woman, of salary in order to gratify their religious spite. I will quote the case of Aberystwith National School, in Cardiff. This is a Church of England School, and in April, 1910, it was inspected. I will merely read the Report in order to show that it is an entirely good school.
The Government inspector reported:—This school is exceedingly well organised, and the headmaster is well supported by his staff in maintaining its high standard of efficiency. …. The attention paid by the headmaster to neatness and method in the work of the school, and the personal interest and supervision he exercises in the care of the rooms and premises, demand cordial recognition. The buildings were thoroughly renovated and improved about a year ago, and new dual desks have been provided. The work of this school is carried on with much steadiness, and all the teachers are very earnest and hard-working, while all the children are very nicely behaved and seem happy with their lessons.That is a thoroughly favourable report on the school, and particularly on the work of the headmaster, but the teachers have been fined £20 or £35 a year, because they teach in a non-Provided school. I do not conceal from the House that on the suggestion of the National Union of Teachers they wrote a definite complaint to the Board of Education. The Secretary wrote:—I am instructed by the manager of the above school (Aberystwith) to put before you the following facts, and to ask what the determination of the Board has provided under the Education Act.This is an appeal from the local education authority to the Board of Education, The letter continued:—We do not consider that the above school has been conducted as a public elementary school in accordance with the conditions expressly required to be fulfilled by the Education Act. The following are our main reasons:—(1) Because the local education authority discriminate against the headmaster by paying him a 566 lower salary than that paid under the scale to a teacher in a provided or council school, and thereby impairs the efficiency of the school.(2) Because the local education authority refuse to allow the usual increments on the teacher's salary for length of service.And then they go on to say generally that this is a breach of their duty, and they formally appeal to the Board of Education. That was sent on 30th October last.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
Will the Noble Lord say what salaries were paid to the managers before they were taken over?
§ Lord R. CECIL
I am not able to give that information; no doubt it can be obtained. It is many years ago now. These schools were taken over some seven years ago.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
The reason why I ask is that the Noble Lord said the teachers had been "deprived" of salary.
§ Lord R. CECIL
By "deprived" I mean that the teachers were actually paid a different rate from teachers who were in the school seven years ago.
§ Lord R. CECIL
The hon. Member apparently knows something about the subject, and he will be able to defend those for whom he appears. They appealed to the Board of Education, and they received a post card acknowledging it the next day, and from that day to this no further answer has been received by the managers. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education told us that on 5th February last the local education authority sent a letter to the managers of the school. From 31st October, when a post card was sent acknowledging the receipt of the letter, to 5th February we now know from the right hon. Gentleman that nothing whatever was done by the Government to comply with the appeal made to them formally under the Act by the managers. Meanwhile the local education authority held a meeting, reported in a newspaper called the "Cambrian News." This is what is reported to have occurred:—The committee had under consideration the application to the managers of Aberayron. Aberystwith, Cardigan, Llandygwydd, Aberbank, Llanwenog, and Llangoedmore church schools, for increased salaries for the head teachers It being understood that in the case of Llanwenog, the religious instruction given was of an undenominational character—I call the attention of the hon. Member to this phrase: "It being understood that in the case of this school the religious 567 instruction given was of an undenominational character—"the salary of the head teacher was increased from £95 to £105 per annum, to be operative so long as the instruction remained free from any sectarian or denominational bias. With reference to the other application, it was decided to inform the managers that the committee would be in a better position to consider the application if all the religious instruction of a sectarian or denominational character were omitted.On the 5th February, a formal letter was written to the Secretary of the Aberystwyth Church of England school in these terms:—With reference to the application of the managers for increased salaries for the head teachers of the Aberystwith Church of England school, I am directed to inform the managers that the Education committee would be in a better position to consider the application, if all religious instruction of a sectarian or denominational character were excluded from the curriculum of the school. I am to ask whether the managers are able to give any assurance on this point.We know that the matter has been under consideration from the 30th October to the present time, and we have the letter of the 5th February, which gives the grounds of the action taken, and the conclusion is perfectly plain that there was a refusal to raise the ordinary scale of salary for purely sectarian and denominational reasons. There is no denial of that. The hon. Member who was good enough to interrupt me just now agrees with me in that proposition. I know it is sometimes said that the reason why these local authorities will not pay the non-provided school teachers properly is because the authority has not got control of them; they demand public control. But that is not said here; there is nothing at all about that. It is of course an absolute absurdity when it is said; as far as secular education is concerned it is an absolute absurdity. The control of a non-provided school as of a provided school as far as secular education goes is the same. You can dismiss a teacher on secular grounds, and, as long as it is not on religious grounds, they can deal with the one in every respect as they can deal with the other. What would have happened if such a thing had occurred in England? There are many Nonconformist schools in this country where the majority is just as much and just as firmly Church of England in the county councils as the majority is Nonconformist in Wales. What would be thought and what would be said of an English Church of England county council (which treated the teachers of a Wesleyan school in the way in which the teachers are treated in these schools in Wales? I see by the Order 568 Paper that we shall have to discuss an Education Bill to-morrow, and I have very little doubt that, appeals will be made to us to trust these education authorities and their sense of justice. How can appeals of that kind be made when cases of this kind are occurring? But far more serious than the action of the local education authorities is the attitude of the Department. The local education authority, composed it may be of ignorant and narrow-minded bigots, may occasionally make mistakes of this kind and do injustice of this description, which is very deplorable, but which is only to be expected from human nature, but we expect the Department of the Government to have no sympathy with law-breaking. The present Government have at this moment a very serious state of things in more directions than one to consider as to the upholding of law and the maintaining of order. How can they expect to have authority to do that if they are themselves parties to law-breaking? The whole teaching of this Government and of the Liberal party for many years past has been that it is not of any great importance whether you keep the law or break it; they encourage matters of this kind; they encourage-vaccination resisters, hon. Members from Ireland, and a number of other things.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I do not care about Ulster. I have nothing to do with Ulster. I am speaking of what the Government opposite do. They are the Government of the day; they are responsible for public order and the maintenance of the law. I say that if the Government hope to have authority in dealing with the other questions which are before them, they must enforce the law equally and fairly in Wales in these education matters. I ask the right, hon. Gentleman to give a very distinct undertaking to this Committee that he will compel those authorities to do their duty, and he has got ample power under the Acts as he knows, and to compel them to pay the salaries of the teachers in non-provided schools at the same rates as the teachers in the provided schools, and to comply in all respects with the judgment given by the Courts of Law in the Swansea case.
Mr. MONTAGUE BARLOW
I have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment. In doing so may I say, by way of preface, that I am doing so at the 569 urgent request of the supporters of denominational instruction of all parties, or, at any rate, at the request of supporters of that principle who represent the interests of Gentlemen opposite as much as they represent the interests of the party that sits on this side. I have been urged over and over again by those connected both with the Church of England and the great Catholic bodies in Salford and Lancashire generally to bring this question of the unfair treatment of the denominational schools of all kinds to the notice of the House at the earliest possible date. In fact, hardly a day passes, I think, but I receive communications of some kind urging me to do so, and very often from those who are opposed to me in other political matters, but who are anxious that I should bring this matter before the House. We have already heard the gravamen of our case against the Government. Our case is shortly this: that the Government have not treated the great educational interests of the country with even-handed justice. They have deliberately warped the administration of the Education Act in favour of one section of the community, and that a section which happens to comprise the noisiest of their own supporters. That has caused irritation over the country to an extent of which I think hon. Gentlemen opposite have at present no conception. Some of the events that have taken place recently in Manchester may convince the Gentlemen opposite that irritation does exist. At any rate, I can assure them that it does exist very freely in Lancashire, and that it exists amongst their own supporters. With regard to elementary education, I do not propose to say anything, as the case has already been very fully put on that point.
With regard to the other portions of the educational sphere, the training colleges, the inspectorate, the secondary schools, there is the same irritation. With regard to the denominational training colleges there is some sort of modus vivendi. The late President of the Board assured us the arrangement was working well, namely, that those training colleges have been required to keep 50 per cent, of their places open to those who were Nonconformists. I fail to see that any justification can be found for the action of the Government, from the fact that very little use has been made of those places that were thrown open. Next a word about a matter which stirred this House very much some months ago, and that is the Holmes circular as to inspectors. I do not want to go into the 570 question at any length, but in my view there is room in the large army of inspectors of education for inspectors of both types—the practical type trained in the schools, and the type of those who have had possibly the more theoretic education of the university. We in the North have had special attention drawn to us in that unfortunate circular. Manchester and Salford were selected as being the particular black sheep in respect of the point to which the circular drew attention. As the result of that the Manchester Education Committee, presided over by Sir Thomas Shann, and comprising supporters of hon. Gentlemen opposite, came to two important resolutions. One was that an educational council, consisting both of representatives of the local educational authority and also of the Board of Education, should be summoned to deal with the administration, or, at any rate, the principles of administration in the future. The second resolution was that the Government should grant an inquiry as to the whole subject of education administration for the past few years. That was a very weighty resolution, backed up by the authority of that great Manchester educational body, but as far as I know no answer has been returned to it as yet.
I should like to say a word or two about the question of secondary education. It is extremely difficult to ascertain exactly what the number of secondary schools is, and what exactly is the number of secondary schools that are administered on what may be called Church or denominational trusts. A question was asked of the President of the Board of Education a day or two ago, and, if you will forgive me for saying so, the answer which he gave was judicious but not very informative. I ventured to ask him a question to-day directed to the same point, but he told me he would require some time in order to answer it, and therefore we must put it off for a few days. This thing is clear with regard to the numbers—that there are some 841 secondary schools in the country earning Government Grants on the Grant List, and there are about eighty-seven also giving secondary education which are not on the Grant List. We are only concerned for the purposes of this discussion with the 841 schools on the Grant List. I have the Blue Book here if anyone doubts the number. Of those Grant-earning schools, of course some are council or provided schools, and some are connected with denominations or are held on 571 trust. It is very significant, as the result of the pressure which has been put on the schools by the regulations, that while within the last three or four years the number of provided or council schools receiving the secondary education Grant has increased by nearly a hundred (eighty-three is the exact figure), the schools which, so far as can be traced, are definitely connected with denominations have not increased in number, and in the case of the Roman Catholic schools have actually diminished by one since those secondary school regulations came into force.
What are those secondary school regulations about which we hear so much, and how is it that they press unfairly on denominational secondary schools and colleges? Those secondary school regulations were introduced in 1907. Up to that time no Government had dared to administer public funds so as to give an advantage to an undenominational school or college which they did not give also, with even-handed justice, to the denominational schools. In 1907, stimulated possibly by certain events which took place with regard to elementary education, and possibly as a result of pique when the Education Bill was rejected, these regulations were produced. There are three of them of which we complain and complain bitterly. There is Article 5, which says that in any denominational school founded on trust, and whose trust deed deliberately and with the intention of the donors, whose money founded the schools, requires denominational instruction to be given, that in such cases no Government Grant shall be given to such schools if denominational instruction is given otherwise than at the express or written request of the parent. That seems to be rather, to use a colloquial phrase, a tall order in the case of a school whose trust deed expressly requires such instruction; of this requirement the parents must be aware when they send their children to the schools. The next Article of which we complain is number twenty-three, which says that when teachers are appointed or trustees are named to an institution of that kind, and when it is expressly provided in the trust deed that questions shall be asked of the teachers as to whether they are qualified to teach religious instruction, and questions are to be asked of the trustees or governors whether they adhere to the creed or denomination of the Church of England, that then under that Article no 572 Government Grant shall be given if such questions are asked.
Article 24 goes even further, and says that in future no Government Grant is to be given to secondary schools, unless the majority of the governing staff (and this flatly in the face of the trust deed) are to be selected or appointed by the local authority. No wonder that the denominational authorities object; no wonder that they aver that you are, in fact, tearing up the trust deeds. As if that were not bad enough, we have had within the last year or two another turn of the screw. In 1907 even the Government advisers realised that it was impossible to destroy this large number of secondary schools all at once, and so they put in a clause of temporary waiver, which came to this, that, with the consent of the local authority, the sword which was about to fall on the secondary schools might be suspended for a period. We have notice now that this waiver will no longer obtain, and that the secondary school regulations are to be enforced in all their brutality. It was only last Session that the then President of the Board of Education took credit to himself that in forty-two cases out of forty-nine in connection with the Catholic schools those conditions had been waived. They are to be waived no longer, and the result is that all supporters of denominational secondary schools, be they Church of England or Catholic, are determined to draw attention to this state of affairs, and, if possible, to stop it. May I read to the House a statement put before the Roman Catholic Congress at Newcastle by the Archbishop? He used very temperate words, and I do not wish to use any others. He said:—I have honestly endeavoured to ascertain the truth and to arrive at a modus vi[...]endi on this point.That is, the secondary school regulations.I am obliged to conclude that the large sums of money now voted for the purposes of secondary education have, for the future, been rendered by the Board of Education absolutely useless as far as the Catholic community is concerned.Then come words which I would ask the hon. Gentlemen opposite to note:—The favouritism shown to undenominational teaching in the case of elementary schools, has been increased and intensified in these new regulations affecting secondary schools. Once more do I plead for fair play and no favour, where education is concerned[...] Recognise and do not attempt to ignore the religious differences which render impossible any absolute uniformity in education in England. These differences, while they make uniformity a foolish quest, in no way prevent the heartiest and most loyal co-operation in promoting the educational progress of the country. And it should be the constant aim of the Minister of Education to promote that co-operation, and not to give to one party in the country a position of unrivalled 573 privilege, while conceding to the other no more than the scantiest toleration. In your name, and in that of the whole Catholic body in England, I renew our emphatic protest against the existing financial regulations for secondary schools.Similarly the Catholic Federation have passed resolutions drawing attention to the regulations, and concluding thus:—We respectfully request you to use every means in your power in the interests of common justice to obtain the withdrawal of the same regulations, or, at least, to secure that the waiver of them shall be granted in the case of all efficient Catholic and other denominational secondary schools, whether already existing or deemed in the future to be necessary.What, on broad grounds, are the objections to these regulations? First of all, I suppose we shall be told that there is some justification for them either on principle or in the practice of the Department. Clearly there is no justification whatever by statute. In fact, such statutory authority as there is is directly the other way. In the Elementary Education Act, 1870, passed by the party opposite, Section 97 carefully provides that so far as the State Grant for elementary education is concerned there shall be no discrimination of this kind. In the Act of 1902 Section 4 provides that there shall be no discrimination as far as secondary education is concerned in the case of the aid from local authorities. Unfortunately there is a gap in the legislation. There is no provision at all in the Elementary Education Act, 1870, or in the Act of 1902 forbidding the Government to make a distinction in this case of grants for secondary education. I assume the trainers of the Act of 1902 thought that no Government would be capable of the kind of action of which the Board of Education have been guilty in this regard. A Bill has been framed, and I hope to introduce it at an early date, to stop up this gap, and I trust it will receive the consideration of Members on both sides of the House.
My next point is that the Board of Education have had handed over to them the powers of the Charity Commission so far as educational charities are concerned, and they are using those powers alongside with their ordinary administrative powers to compel schools to come in and have their trust deeds altered. They say to them, "Here are the regulations; take them or leave them." That means that in the case of nine schools out of ten, if the £5 Grant per child is withdrawn, there must be a deficit on the school. Fifty-nine schools are at present defying the Government. What exactly is their position, whether they are receiving the Grant or not, I do not know; but they have not 574 complied with the conditions. Pressure is undoubtedly being put on denominational schools to hand in their trust deeds to be altered to suit the predilections of the Government, and then they are told they will get their Grants according to the regulations. We say that that is a most improper position for the Government to take up. Some of us have had experience of bringing pressure to bear upon the Government in respect of their educational administration in. other places besides the House of Commons, and our attempts have been successful. I am not at all certain that if efforts were made in this case to bring the matter before the Courts, the Courts would not feel themselves bound to check this action, on the part of the Board of Education. However, that may be, it is a kind of action of which no Government Department ought to be capable. This attack on the secondary schools is a deliberate and most insidious attempt to kill denominational religious education altogether: for this reason. You cannot carry on denominational religious education unless you have teachers fit, conscientious, instructed, and willing to give the education. If you destroy the secondary schools in which denominational religious education is given, you destroy the training ground for such teachers. That means that you stop the flow of teachers, and therefore you stop denominational religious instruction itself.
I ask hon. Members opposite whether, even at this eleventh hour, they will not take into consideration a reversal of this policy. Why can they not come in and join with us hand in hand in this great and difficult work of education? After all, there are in the country two systems. Why cannot the party opposite frankly accept those two systems? Why can they not accept our principle, which is simply one of equal treatment? We do not, demand for ourselves anything that we are not prepared to concede to them We should be fools if we asked for more, and we should be cowards if we were content with less. Reference is sometimes made outside the House to the peril of an attack by some foreign Power. There is one attack going on every day and all the time, namely, the attack of instructed and intelligent foreign competition. Why cannot hon. Members opposite join with us in fostering this work of education by accepting gladly the enthusiasm which denominationalists 575 can bring to this work, and which must be for the benefit of the educational progress of the country at large. But if our appeal is refused we on this side will not give in. We have made on behalf of this system of ours real sacrifices, sacrifices running into millions of money, and which, after all, signify a little more than the temporary sequestration of the family tea-pot. We are on this side pledged to this policy, and we will not surrender. The Prime Minister and the party opposite may bully us, as they have bullied us in the past. Dignitaries of the Church may fail us, as they have sometimes failed us in the past, but we will not give up the fight on that account. If there is one lesson that has been taught as the result of recent conflicts in this country, it is that Englishmen are slow to express their feelings of just anger and indignation, but that when Englishmen are in earnest it is practically impossible for any Government or for any party to smother them. That is the conclusion of the whole matter. That is the feeling we have on this side of the House in regard to this great question of secondary education, and it is in that spirit that I have addressed my remarks to the Committee.
§ Mr. E. WOOD
I confess that the President of the Board of Education has some of my sympathy in being called upon to answer the charge brought against him by my Noble Friend (Lord R. Cecil). When the right hon. Gentleman was landed in his present position, many of us thought there must be some other reason than the mere desire of his predecessor to acquire some knowledge of agriculture. I think we are having the reason more or less outlined this afternoon, and that the right hon. Gentleman will realise that the President of the Board of Agriculture, in leaving the Board of Education, has left him an awkward legacy with which to deal on entering into office. I wish to call the attention of the Committee to the events dealt with by my Noble Friend. He referred to two or three cases on the lines of the Swansea case. I do not wish the President to think that those are the only cases upon which we rest our charge. We have several other cases, all of equal substance, and resting on more or less the same grounds. I wish to call attention to one or two of those. I understand that the education authority of Glamorganshire is equally in fault, and that five schools are affected in the same way there. 576 In at least one case the managers are making it up in part to the teachers. Other teachers are paid the minimum salaries of teachers in provided schools, but do not get the annual increments. In Denbighshire, in the Church school at Brymbo, one teacher is paid £5 a year less than a teacher in a corresponding council school who happens to be her younger sister, and therefore with less experience. Another case is in a school at Llanbradach, near Cardiff. On 21st June, 1911, the managers wrote to the Board, formally bringing to their notice the fact that the force of certificated teachers at the school were paid at a lower rate of salary than similar teachers in provided schools. On 1st December they wrote again. They received only post cards in acknowledgment of these letters. On 9th January they wrote, saying:—We cannot understand this long delay. Meanwhile our teachers are leaving us for posts in provided schools.Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will see that this is no academic question, but one that affects not only the personal fortunes of the teachers themselves, but also the prosperity of education in the non-provided schools, which, in many cases, are the only means of education in the districts concerned. So much for those instances which I believe are thoroughly well founded as to the differentiation in question.
I come to that part of England which has also been known to exercise the predilection to which I have referred—namely, the West Riding of Yorkshire. I have every possible respect for the York-shireman. It is a matter of regret to me when I see my own county, so to speak, falling away from the right path. I am glad, however, to know that within, I think, the last month or so even the West Riding has established a scale of salaries, and all teachers alike are to be on that scale. Surely where the West Riding leads Wales need not be ashamed to follow! I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman, in any further communication that he has with these local authorities will bring before their notice, with, I hope, desirable results, the example to which I have directed his attention. There are four or five specific points that ought to be cleared up. Possibly when the right hon. Gentleman comes to reply he will clear them up. The first is: what does the Board of Education intend to do if the local 577 authorities that have been mentioned continue the differentiation in salaries after their council meetings? We have heard that the council meeting of Cardiganshire Is on 25th April, and that of Glamorganshire on 14th March. I should like to have some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that he will be prepared to take action if these councils by any chance decide in an adverse way on the points that we have asked about.
In the second place, the right hon. Gentleman informed us a few days ago that on 5th February, 1912, he brought before the notice of these two local authorities the complaints of the managers that have been received in the one case in September and October of last year, and in the second case of May and June, 1911. I should like very much to know what the Board of Education were doing in the interval of nine months. The right hon. Gentleman informed us, in his own confession, that the inquiry he sent to the local authorities in February was the first official inquiry that the Board had made. I think that is a point on which we are fairly entitled to ask for information. What is the truth, too, of the facts about the Menai Bridge school? He answered us the other day that he received a communication in September, 1911, and communicated with the local authority on 13th February of this year. There again several months have passed during which, I presume, the Education Board did nothing. All this time the teachers in these schools have been paid the lower salary. If the local education authorities decide that the rate of salary must be made up will the right hon. Gentleman see to it that the teachers get the salaries made up as from the time that they should have had the full rate of salary? The Noble Lord referred to the case of Abertillery. In that case—I do not know whether my Noble Friend mentioned this or not—the Education Committee informed the Board on 24th February that they had resolved to pay up the scale as from 1st April, 1912. The complaint in that school was an old complaint dating from May of last year, because on that date the correspondent of the managers wrote a letter in which he said:—The local authorities still differentiate between some of the teachers of this school, and the teachers in the council schools.Having got their advance as from 1st April, 1912, the right hon. Gentleman will see that they will be at least a year out of extra salary. That is only one case of 578 many in which a very real hardship has been inflicted upon what my Noble Friend rightly described as one of the most deserving classes of the community, one giving their best services; and whose fault it certainly is not that they are called upon to serve in Church schools rather than in Provided schools. I associate myself with the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman who sits beside me. We will be discussing an Education Bill again to-morrow. I believe anybody who cares about any possible settlement of this question must think that the only chance of settling it is for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on each side of the House to, as far as they possibly can, appreciate one another's point of view and be prepared to meet in mutual give-and-take. My hon. Friend said, "We are prepared to give you what ever we ask you to give us." The first thing that we ask you to give is that yon should recognise that we have as much right to our opinions and to wish the children in these schools to be taught those opinions as hon. Gentlemen opposite have to hold different opinions and desire to have them taught. In discussing this Bill to-morrow in a reasonable spirit it will be an aid if the right hon. Gentleman, on behalf of the Government and his Friends behind him, is able to assure us this afternoon that the complaints that we bring are likely to receive careful, and I hope impartial, consideration.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
There is certainly a very great deal in some of the complaints which have been urged by hon. Members on the other side. It is the fact that a number of teachers in Wales have, as it were, had to bear the brunt of a propaganda with which I am in entire agreement. I refer to the propaganda for securing that where public money is spent there shall be the completest public control. That there may be no mistake about that, let me say that while the National Union of Teachers did certainly advise its members in respect of the deductions that they had suffered in certain schools, the National Union of Teachers stands for complete public control of all grades of education, and for the complete abolition of denominational creed tests on teachers in the public service. At the same time they do aver that to utilise people who have absolutely no remedy, or very little, as a means for changing public opinion is a wrong way entirely. You bring unnecessary suffering on two classes of people. Firstly, and most important, you 579 bring suffering upon the children. You may have while this unfortunate dispute continues a whole generation of teachers, and a whole generation of children, and the course of the latter in the schools is stultified because the teachers are unsettled in their tenure and in the treatment that they receive from the local authority, and there is an inducement to them, because of the unrest, to leave these schools for other schools where they will have a more settled tenure and more favourable conditions of service. The total result is that the children suffer because the teachers are not able to give of their best in the daily teaching. Apart from this, there is, I frankly avow it in this House, the difficulty of the teachers themselves. Their certificates are of a similar character. The work they do is on entirely the same lines as that done in council schools. Yet because, unfortunately, they have been engaged in non-provided schools they have to suffer a reduction in their salaries which I think they ought not to suffer. The appeal which has been made from the opposite side of the House will be re-echoed by many hon. Members on this side. That is, that the Welsh councils will take other means for securing what I myself aver to be their just aim—full control of their schools—and may utilise some other machinery than making the teachers in the non-provided schools suffer, so rendering the children less efficient as they proceed through the various stages of their school life. If I might join in an appeal to hon. Members opposite it would be to plead with what I might call the recalcitrant county councils of Wales to get their remedy by constitutional means; to attempt to change the opinion of those who are at present opposed to them, and to get Members in this House to place upon the Statute Book a proper settlement of this education difficulty.
It may be that the answer to that will be that "every one of our Members from Wales, with a few exceptions, has been returned with that object in view, that hon. Members from Wales have already expressed their views, and that now it should be for the Members of the House of Commons to secure the remedy." That is a very good answer. I suppose there are associated with those Members a majority of Members on this side of the House who support them in contending that a national system of education is only possible with full popular control, and the 580 removal from a great public service of denominational creed tests. Therefore, while I appeal to the county councils, I also appeal to the Government, that they should not unduly delay their remedy for righting the wrong which the Act of 1902 inflicted on this country. The Act of 1902 gave us a great reform. Let me make this point about it: The Act of 1902 certainly gave us almost all forms of education under one local authority. To that extent it was admirable. But it carried a wrong of which complaints are made from every side—the wrong of allowing non-elective managers, to the extent of a majority of four to two, on the board of management of non-provided schools to control the appointment of the head teacher.
There is a legitimate grievance there, a grievance which ought to be righted in the interests of the public, as well as in the interests of the teachers, and in the interests of the most important partner in the education compact—that is, the child. May I appeal to the Government to give us an Education Act which once for all will remove the teaching profession from having to satisfy creed tests before they can secure professional preferment to the extent of nearly 16,000 appointments. In, this country there is a creed test applied to applicants. The consequence is that individuals are precluded from making application who, as a matter of fact, on every educational ground and on the ground of experience, of teaching capacity, are entitled and qualified to take charge of each one of these departments.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Gentleman is going beyond the limit, and other Members may wish to follow. We are not entitled to discuss legislation.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
I was just dealing with the point which had been raised, I understood, by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford. I submit to your ruling, and will conclude by asking Members—and especially the Government—to recall what I have said in this regard, and with one word of appeal to the county councils to take other means than those they now adopt to secure what is a legitimate end.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
I want to deal only with the question of administration, and to address one or two specific questions to the Minister of Education. The one desire so far as educationists are concerned is impartiality of administration in the 581 Board of Education at Whitehall. That is an essential condition. I am not going back to what I may call the old bad days of the Swansea case. There could not be a more sweeping condemnation than what was expressed by the judges, and it ultimately came to this dilemma, that either the officials of a great Department at Whitehall were absolutely ignorant of the law which they had been administering or they were blind to facts on which every reasonable man could have only come to one conclusion. Historically when this matter is dealt with, then the administration of the Education Board at that time will stand condemned for having administered the Act in the way it was not intended to be, as shown in the Swansea case. I admit the present Minister of Education is new as regards the Education Department, and therefore I want to put to him certain specific questions hoping that his answers will show that the Board intend to carry out impartially the administration entrusted to them. I want to put one or two cases: the first is with regard to Aberystwith. On the 5th February a letter was written by Mr. Jenkin Jay, clerk to the local education authority, in the following words:—With reference to the application of the managers to increase the salaries of head teachers in the Aberystwith schools, I am directed to inform the managers that the education committee will be in a better position to consider the application if all religious instruction of a sectarian or denominational character were excluded from the curriculum of the school. I am to ask whether the managers are able to give any assurance on that point.I put this specific question to the Education Minister: Is it not the law at the present time that schools are to be treated equally as regards the salary of the teachers whether they are denominational or undenominational; is it not wholly improper, and neither in accordance with the Education Act or in accordance with the first principle of the Swansea decision, that the local education authority should say, "We will not consider the pay of the teacher of a denominational school until the managers give an undertaking that no denominational teaching shall be given"? According to my view, that is wholly illegal and a wholly improper position, and what I want distinctly to ask the Minister of Education is what his attitude will be if any such matter of that nature is brought to his attention. I know the matter has been brought to his attention by letters from the National Union of Teachers.
I am not, of course, going to follow the speech we have just heard, because it is 582 not necessary for my purpose. The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly well aware that everyone interested in education and all the teachers protest against all this improper attempt to differentiate salary, because, whatever we think as regards reform of educational law, at the present time it is the undoubted law that you are to have equality of treatment, whether the schools are denominational or not, the reason being that the funds come from the taxpayers and the ratepayers, some denominational and some not, and that we want to administer the law fairly. There is another question I want to ask, and it is in regard to Llanbradach School. It has been brought to the notice of the Board of Eduction that in that school certain salaries have been paid in other years. The denominational teachers are penalised because they are teaching in denominational schools. It was not brought to their notice until after the Swansea case, but after the Swansea case the Board of Education must have been fully aware that such discrimination was improper and illegal. What happened? First, after a period of time, a printed post card was sent from the Board of Education; then after six months no other answer except a printed post card came. Meanwhile the illegality is going on and the teacher is being penalised. Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why, when an admitted illegality is brought to the notice of the Board, merely a formal answer in the way of a printed post card is sent, whereas the proper answer would be, "We intend, this illegality having been brought to our notice, to do our best to remedy it." Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us now, after something like nine months of consideration, what attitude the Board of Education intend to adopt? I think these questions are quite fair. I do not wish to make any attack upon the right hon. Gentleman the present Minister of Education, but I think that if there is one matter more important than another it is absolutely essential in the interests of education itself that all parties to this educational controversy should feel confidence in the impartiality of the Board of Education at Whitehall. Without that it seems to me any further progress is impossible.
The next questions I want to ask have reference to secondary schools and training colleges. I want specific answers in these matters. In dealing with secondary schools the Board of Education now have the power under the Charitable Trusts 583 Act and the Endowed Schools Act. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman, will know from his knowledge of these matters these Acts are framed on different lines. The Charitable Trusts Act forbid absolutely any interference with the denominational trust. The Endowed Schools Acts are only passed from year to year, and the provisions there are that nothing should be done inconsistent with the views of the original founder of the trust. It is not the same as the Trust Act, and I admit there is more freedom and liberty. Now, when schemes come before the Board of Education under either of these Acts, the Board of Education are successors in these matters to the Court of Chancery and the Charitable Commissioners, and they act in a judicial manner. My complaint is this: According to my information at the present time, and according to two Returns which were given in answer to my application a short time ago, 957 secondary schools have been dealt with. That is the exact number with which I have been supplied. In addition to these 957 schools dealt with under the regulations there is a waiver of the regulations in certain cases, but there never has been a waiver of what is known as Article 5. At any rate, it was so when the information was supplied to me, and it is Article 5 which practically turns denominational into undenominational schools. As far as I can make out—I may be wrong, as it is difficult to get exact information—there have been only four or five schemes at all issued as regards secondary schools. At any rate, it is a very small number. What has been done is this: I want to read the actual words, they are in Paragraph 15 of the Preferatory Memorandum of the regulations as regards secondary schools which deals with applications being made to the Board of Education. It says:—In such cases the Board will be prepared to regard the schools as having complied with the conditions and to be eligible to the Grant for the year(the year 1907–8)if the governors of the schools have taken all steps in their power to obtain the necessary alteration, although the necessary procedure may not have been complied with that year.Does not that come to this, that the Board of Education, having adopted a judicial position as regards each of these schemes, actually sends out a general regulation, and before they consider whether the suggestions made are right or not the mere applications themselves will be taken 584 as sufficient to undenominationalise them. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that that is an entire giving up of the judicial functions and responsibilities which have been thrown upon the Board of Education. Not only has that been done, but what has been the result? It is perfectly true, as was pointed out by the hon. Gentleman who seconded this reduction, that what has happened has really resulted in, not exactly a form of bribery, but a form of penalty. What the Board paid to these schools was this: "Unless you come in under our regulations we will not give you any Grant, and knowing that it is necessary to have a Grant to carry on secondary schools that means we will not allow you to carry on secondary schools unless they are undenominational in character." Does the Minister for Education think that fair? Suppose the principle, as it undoubtedly is the principle of the Charitable Trusts Act and the Endowed Schools Act and the Acts of 1870 and 1902, is that in administering Grants you are to put out of sight the religious controversy altogether, and that you are to consider the Grant from the educational point of view, and in no way show a denominational bias or an undenominational bias, then on what principle can the right hon. Gentleman justify this Grant as a penalty in order to give an advantage to undenominational schools. That is the question, and if the right hon. Gentleman is going to administer his office impartially I beg him to tell me whether he thinks that is really impartial, and, if not, that these regulations will be altered, as they ought, so that a school, whether denominational or not, can have exactly the same freedom at the hands of the Education Board at Whitehall. I need not deal with Clause 4 of the Act of 1902 and the old Section of the Act of 1870; this was undoubtedly the principle. Get the Board of Education and the local authority, as far as you can, free from this denominational or, as it is sometimes called, sectarian controversy; hold the balance fair, and then, on educational ground, do the best you can for the teachers and the children and all persons interested.
I want to ask the Minister for Education a question in reference to these training colleges. He is well aware that when the training college regulations were issued there was a very important deputation sent to the Board of Education, pointing out that to comply with these regulations would amount to a breach of trust. The opinion of a most eminent lawyer, the 585 late Attorney-General, was brought to the notice of the Board of Education. Is it fair to ask the Church training colleges to come under regulations which, if they comply with them, necessitate a breach of the trust. In order that I may show how far that was carried I have here the answer which was given by the Board of Education to the colleges, and it contains this statement:—It is open to the trustees to apply to the Board of Education for a scheme with ii view to amending the terms of their deed in such a manner as will enable them to give free access to all students who are otherwise suitable without regard to their religions opinions or the imposition of religions tests.By what power could the Board of Education have altered the trust? Can the right hon. Gentleman justify what is the real meaning of this action, namely, that when you are dealing with Grants, given for a long time for the purpose of these colleges, you are compelled to alter the whole basis on which your training colleges were founded in order to make them undenominational instead of denominational? Is that impartial action as between the two? I cannot to-day go into questions necessitating an alteration of the law, but the importance of what I am saying is that it is administration, and to seek to alter the law by partial administration is really a disgrace to any great public office. I sincerely hope that whatever our complaints have been in the past we may have a new era in the future, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind that when we are dealing with matters of legislation we are dealing with controversial questions, and when we are dealing with matters of administration we ought to have impartiality outside those controversies altogether. It would be an evil day if the public of this country felt that they could not trust the heads of our great Departments to give us absolutely impartial administration outside party considerations. I hope the right hon. Gentleman has understood the questions I have put to him. I only put those specific questions because by his answer to them I hope we shall be assured that we shall have a true impartiality in the future as against what has been scandalous partiality, at any rate as regards some of the administration of the past.
§ Mr. KING
I came down to the House this afternoon expecting to hear a most vigorous and even violent attack delivered on the head of the poor President of the Board of Education, but I am agreeably surprised to find that the speeches 586 delivered from the other side have all been certainly most moderate in tone.
§ Mr. KING
The speeches which I have listened to have not brought chapter and verse in regard to the delinquencies or deficiencies complained of, but they have been pitching into the county council. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] At any rate when you have made an appeal it has been an appeal ad misericordiam. I will quote the words used by the hon. Member for Salford, who said:—Can yon not join us amicably and co-operate with us in fostering and furthering this great work of education?That is an appeal to give a little of what you are asking for.
§ Mr. KING
I do not know what equality means if it does not mean giving impartiality of treatment to the council schools and to those who stand for undenominational education as well as those who are in favour of denominational education. I want, for once in a way, to take upon myself the rôle I have not often taken before of standing up for the Board of Education. I believe that the policy of the Board of Education with regard to the administration of the Act of 1902 has been fair and impartial throughout. If it has not pleased hon. Gentlemen opposite by giving them all they want, I want to assure them that it has not pleased us because when we have had a point to press, and when we wanted something stretched in our direction we have not been able to get it. I cannot say how many times I have mounted the stairs at the Board of Education office and come down a sadder but a wiser man, believing more and more in the absolute impartiality and fairness to the opponents of the right hon. Gentleman now sitting on the bench opposite. That is my position and my experience, and I ask the President of the Board of Education not to be weary in well doing, but to persist in the policy he has taken up, and carry it through whether we press him from one side or the other.
I intend to give one or two facts to show that if the Board of Education has acted impartially on the one side it has also acted impartially on the other side. What is really the principle of the Act of 1902 as between the local education authority 587 and the Board of Education? It is that so long as certain sections of the Act are observed and certain recognised lines are carried out as, for instance, the efficient maintenance of the school, you allow the local authority a very free hand in various directions, such as the appointment of teachers, the amount of salaries paid, the curriculum, and in many other respects. Where the Board of Education has acted on the line of allowing recognised freedom of action to Liberal and undenominational education authorities it has also acted on the same principle with regard to the Conservative denominational reactionary education authorities. I know they have been anxious to speed the pace of the reactionary bodies, and they have been anxious to restrain the ardour of some progressive and undenominational bodies, but, nevertheless, the Board has maintained a strict impartiality in allowing the recognised freedom to local educational authorities. I want to give the right hon. Gentleman credit for this policy and I wish to ask him to persist on the same lines.
We have had this afternoon one or two cases mentioned as to the very hard circumstances under which denominational managers and teachers find themselves. I want to point out in what a severe and unjust position we undenominationalists who believe in popular education also find ourselves, and I will call the attention of the House to a case which I have lately brought before the notice of the Board of Education in this House. I have also called the attention of the bishop of the diocese to it, and I have also had volunteered to me the opinion of the diocesan inspector on this school. This concerns a Church school in my own Constituency. I may say at the start that it is really a one-manager school, although legally there must be six managers, and this arises because the vicar of the parish is an utterly impossible man. Previously he assaulted one of his teachers, and was fined in the Police Court for committing that assault. On one occasion the parishioners got hold of the key of the school, and for six weeks they shut him out of his school, which he calls his own. All the respectable managers have left him, and he has to pick up a manager wherever he can; but really he is the one manager of this school. It is greatly to the credit of the head teacher, whose case I allude to, that he has been eight years suffering under management like that No previous head teacher has 588 been there for more than two years, and you have now got an absolutely model teacher who has been able to retain his position for eight years in that school, and I think that is a great testimonial to his patience, integrity, and character. This teacher, however, happens to be a Liberal, and when he was asked to take the position of secretary to the Conservative association then his chance of success was at an end. Some ground had to be found as a means by which this man might be turned out and cast adrift. Charges were brought against him repeatedly and they were withdrawn.
At last complaints were urged against him and sent to the county council, and the council sent down three members to inquire into the charges. This teacher was declared by the committee of inquiry appointed by the county council to be absolutely guiltless of the charges. One of the charges was in relation to a question I asked in this House about the children being turned out at dinner-time, a fact which is quite true, but in regard to which I never received any information at all from this teacher. That is actually a charge which was brought against this man. Now the teacher is compelled to go because there has been friction, but that friction has all been on one side. I could prove this by letters from the bishop of the diocese. This man has to go, and he is cast out, an elderly man, without any chance of getting another school, and that man's life is ruined, his career is blighted, because of the wicked and bullying conduct of the manager of that school. I asked the President of the Board of Education to interfere in this case, but he says he cannot do so. I know he is impartial in allowing the local education authorities to go on in their own way, and having been impartial in the case I have put before him I want him also to be impartial in cases brought forward by the other side. Let him go on allowing a free hand to the local authorities. It acts unfairly to us in one district, and hon. Gentlemen opposite may think it acts unfairly in Wales. I feel the language I have used in reference to this case of grass persecution and injustice is not one bit too strong. I have shown as conclusively as I can that the action taken by the Board of Education is one of strict impartiality. It allows the control in all these matters which the Tory Act placed in the hands of the local education authorities to remain there.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I was merely expressing my grave dissent from the hon. Gentleman's statement as to the effect of a particular Act of Parliament, and that cannot be modified by anything the hon. Member said in the earlier part of his speech.
§ Mr. KING
Well, some time or other we will go into this matter together. I feel most earnestly that the policy of the Board of Education has been fair, consistent, right, and just to the Act of Parliament which they have had to administer, and I shall therefore do everything I can to support the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I have certainly never heard more remarkable testimony to the sense of fairness of a Minister than that which the hon. Gentleman has just given. He considers the administration of the President of the Board of Education must be impartial because he has refused every attempt he has himself made to him to alter that administration. I do not think it says as much for the soundness of the case which the hon. Gentleman put before the right hon. Gentleman. His speech, however, is not of so much importance as that of the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Goldstone). The hon. Member for Sunderland and myself differ on almost every point, but it is somewhat remarkable that one of the representatives of the National Union of Teachers in this House should have, spoken so strongly in support of the case which we have put before the Committee this afternoon, and should have spoken, I may almost say, in condemnation of the action of the President of the Board of Education. The hon. Member told us that the teachers in the denominational schools are unsettled and are forced to leave, and that the educational condition of the children is seriously damaged. Naturally, I agree with him to that extent, but when he goes on to say that was caused by the Act of 1902, I am bound to differ from him. It must be perfectly apparent that where the Act of 1902 is adopted and carried out fairly and satisfactorily the condition of the teachers and of the children is as good as in the county council schools. The real reason why complaints have been made to the National Union of Teachers from some of those schools and why the teachers and children are in trouble is that the sight hon. Gentlemen and his predecessors 590 have not taken the steps which they might have taken to insist upon the county councils and the local authorities carrying out the Act of 1902 in all fairness. We appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to turn over a new leaf in the administration of the Education Department.
I want to join in the appeal made by the Noble Lord the hon. Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil) for some recompense to be made to the Swansea managers. That, I think, was the only appeal ad misericordiam made from this side of the House this afternoon. In every other respect we have merely demanded our rights, and, because we have demanded them in moderate language and have spoken as Conservatives and not as Liberal Members generally do, the hon. Member for Somerset (Mr. King) need not complain of the lack of the strength of our case. We have put it moderately because we deem it just. If it were unsatisfactory we might have come down and made the kind of speech the hon. Member occasionally makes in this House. I am afraid that with regard to the cost incurred by the Swansea managers, we can only appeal to the President of the Education Board ad misericordiam. I quite agree the law does not compel him to refund these costs to the Swansea school managers, but there is a very strong moral claim to be made out in respect of them. It was really in consequence of the action of the Board of Education that this sum was incurred by the Swansea school managers. The decision of the Board of Education in the case has been decided by the Courts to have been so perverse as not to have been a decision at all. If it had been merely a misinterpretation of an Act of Parliament, or if it had been merely a decision of an ordinary Court of Law, where, of course, judges, like all human beings, are liable to err, and that decision had been upset, I quite agree there would have been no ground for this appeal, but here the decision was that of a Government Department, and it was so perverse as really not to be a decision at all.
I know some of the judges did their best to let the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor down lightly, but, if the right hon. Gentleman will read the decision in the Court of Appeal and in the House of Lords—the decision of the Master of the Rolls, the decision of the present Lord Chancellor, a colleague of his in the Cabinet, and the decision of Lord Shaw, not long ago a Liberal Member of this House— 591 I think he will be forced to the conclusion that there is very good ground for saying the action of his predecessor was so perverse that it has put the school managers to all this vast expenditure, and that they have a moral claim to ask him to go, I cannot say to the friend of the denominational schools, but at any rate to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and ask for some contribution to be made towards these expenses. After all, the action of the Swansea managers has greatly helped the right hon. Gentleman in his position. It has laid down the law from which there can be no possible appeal. The law would have had to be laid down at some time or other. I think it is clear from the case that the right hon. Gentlemen who have presided at the Board of Education have themselves differed, and, if the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor in 1906 had only stuck to his guns, there would have been no need to take this case to the Court at all. The President then was, I think, the present Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Birrell), but they change with such startling rapidity under this Government. No sooner does one make a horrible hash of things at the Education Department than he is promoted to be one of His Majesty's principal Secretaries of State.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am aware that the right hon. Gentleman who is now President of the Board of Agriculture left the Board of Education for no other reason, so far as we on this side of the House could find out, than that he was unable to get Bills through the House pleasing to the hon. Member and his Friends. When the right hon. Gentleman who is now Chief Secretary for Ireland was President of the Board of Education in 1906, the Department deliberately wrote a letter to the education authority at Cardiff requesting them to make these payments. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has that letter before him, but he will see, if that policy had been carried out, that there would have been no need for this litigation and no necessity for these costs to have been piled up. Under those circumstances, firstly, because the school managers have established the law for the benefit of everybody, and secondly, 592 because the Department themselves really agreed with them in 1906, I do urge that as an act of grace—I cannot put it higher—the right hon. Gentleman should make some contribution to these very heavy expenses which have been incurred. I also want to support the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Montague Barlow) with regard to the secondary school regulations. In 1007 these secondary school regulations were brought in by the second President of the Board under this Administration, and I am bound to say that, in the opinion of very many supporters of secondary denominational education, they were brought in as part of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman to be a sword and not a peace offering. He distinctly told us what his policy would be. The moment the present Home Secretary (Mr. McKenna) was placed at the head of the Education Department there began a series of Departmental aggressions on the voluntary primary and secondary schools and training colleges, from which we have suffered for nearly the last five years.
These secondary school regulations were part and parcel of that system of Departmental aggression upon the voluntary school system. The Bill of the present Chief Secretary for Ireland having failed in 1906, when there was every opportunity, for the Liberal party had got a majority in the House as they have not to-day opposed to denominational education, the present Home Secretary set to work on this policy of aggression. There had been no complaints for fifty years prior to that with regard to the allocation of Grants to secondary schools. I cannot help thinking the hon. Member for Somerset, who is the only Member on the opposite side of the House who has spoken this afternoon in support of the Government, cannot have realised that Grants to primary elementary or secondary schools are made not in respect of religious education at all, but in respect of secular education, and, so long^ as the secular education is good and efficient, and so long as it is approved by the Government inspectors, the position which we take up, which the Irish Members have always supported, and which the majority of the House to-day takes up, is that the denominational schools, whether elementary or secondary, are just as much entitled to a share of the Government Grant as the provided schools under the county councils. It is no good, except as a mere temporary measure, trying to reverse the Act of 1902 by Departmental 593 methods. The Act of 1902 is, I know, objected to by hon. Members on the opposite side of the House. Let them bring in a Bill and reverse it if they can. Let them go to the country, and get the country to reverse it if they can. But do not let the President of the Board of Education try to alter the Act by mere Departmental action.
Though hon. Gentlemen opposite might have some right to alter the Act by Departmental action in 1907, when they had a majority opposed to denominational education, they clearly have no right to continue that policy now. The Irish party are entirely with us, or they were a very few months ago, and certainly the English Roman Catholics are entirely with us in insisting upon Departmental fair play in the right hon. Gentleman's office for the secondary schools as well as for the elementary schools, though they may be under the stigma of denominationalism. I do not know whether the Home Rule scheme is going to cause hon. Members from Ireland to slide away from that position, but I do not think it will. I still believe, if there should during the next two months be a real crisis on this question, although we hope to get a more favourable answer from the present President, hon. Members from Ireland would come to the help of denominational education, and, though they may support the Government on many matters, I do not think they would support the right hon. Gentleman if he continued the policy of his predecessors in regard to denominational education.
Generally speaking, we want to ask the right hon. Gentleman for a loyal acceptance of the position as laid down in the Swansea case. I remember speaking here a few months ago when the last President of the Board of Education was in office, and saying what I thought was my last word on the Swansea case. I then made an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give us a frank and full undertaking, as head of the Department, that the covert attacks that had been sanctioned by him upon denominational schools should cease, and that he would really accept the law as laid down by the High Courts of the land in the case, and use his utmost en-devours to see that the law was carried out. The Under-Secretary replied to my speech, but made no reference whatever to this point. Perhaps he was unable to do so. He answered various other points, but he ignored that appeal. I want the right hon. Gentleman who now holds the office 594 to give me an assurance that the policy of his Department shall not be the policy which was known as the Welsh revolt. The Board has been dominated for some years past by a policy very nearly akin to the policy known as the "Welsh revolt."
It will be remembered that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a speech at Brighton in 1903, advocated a policy of delay—a policy which the Cardigan and other county councils are carrying out today. The right hon. Gentleman, on that occasion, deliberately urged that the Act of 1902 should be made impossible in administrative process by a species of conduct which cannot be too strongly deprecated and condemned in this House—that the county councils should make the Act unworkable by constant delay. That is the very system that the county councils are carrying out to-day in the case of Cardiganshire and other parts of Wales. When complaints are made, they are shelved. The right hon. Gentleman told us, in answer to a question last week, that he could not summon meetings of the county council. That is true. But the tone of the letters of his Department to voluntary school managers when he wants an answer and a decision is very different. He writes demanding an answer within a given number of days, and if managers are to be treated like that, surely it is perfectly possible for him to write to the county councils, which have chairmen, clerks, and emergency committees, and say, "You must let me have your answer within a given time." I ask for an undertaking that he will not allow them to carry out the principle of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's scheme, to put education questions as the last Act on the Agenda, so that it may be said, "Trains-are just going, and there is no time to deal with the questions; therefore they must stand over."
That was the speech in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer denied that there was such a thing as the spirit of an Act of Parliament. He asked, "Where can you find a spirit of an Act of Parliament?" I am going to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman who is now head of the Department to find the spirit of the Act of 1902, and to conduct his Department in the spirit as well as in the letter of that Act. It is perfectly possible for him to do so. I want the right hon. Gentleman to lay it down on the floor of this House to-day that it is no longer going to be the effort of the Board of Education to alter 595 the Act of 1902 by administrative means. I would like to commend to the right hon. Gentleman the words of Mr. Justice Channell, who, in a certain education case, said that there was one tiling certainly which neither the defendant (the county council) nor the Board of Education could do, and that was to say that, because they did not like the law as it stood, they would give directions that would frustrate this object. It is quite possible, of course, to give directions to frustrate the object of an Act of Parliament, but it is clearly illegal to do so. I appealed to the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor. I now appeal to him to give us a clear and distinct promise on this point. We have been moderate this afternoon in putting our case before him, and all I ask him now is that there shall be nothing done to show favouritism to those who desire to alter the Act of 1902, and that, until that Act is altered, if ever it should be, the Board of Education will administer it fully, fairly, and frankly as between denominational and undenominational schools.
§ Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
I am about to switch off this discussion with regard to the unfair treatment of voluntary schools to a subject which, at the present time, is of immense importance to those who are administering secular education in this country. I refer to the seriously increasing shortage of entrants to the teaching profession, and the resulting deficiency of uncertificated teachers, who, whatever we may think about the desirability of the higher training of uncertificated teachers, are still a sine quâ non as regards the bulk of the counties which have to administer the Act of 1902. Perhaps I may draw the attention of the Committee to what has been happening during the last five years. In the educational year 1906–7 there were 11,018 entering the teaching profession. In the following year there were 10,352. In the year 1909–9, 8,718; and in 1909–10,7,115. Last year, so far as we can ascertain, the number dropped to under 5,500. The supply of teachers has steadily shrunk during the last few years. On the other hand, the demand has steadily increased, owing, as the Committee is aware, to what was at one time called Circular 709, but which is now incorporated in the Code, and which has the effect of reducing the numbers in the classes which certain grades of teachers are qualified to instruct.
596 I will give an instance of what is happening from my own experience in the county of Gloucester. I am a member of the local education authority of that county. At the present moment, owing to the lack of uncertificated teachers, there are seventy certificated teachers receiving the salaries of uncertificated teachers. We are employing altogether 560 persons as uncertificated teachers, including those to whom I have just referred. About sixty uncertificated teachers are annually required in the county to repair the normal waste. In 1914, when the supplementary teachers will disappear under the existing regulations, about sixty more of such teachers will be required to replace the supplementaries who will no longer receive recognition. At the present moment in my county we are not producing sufficient to meet this wastage, and this increased demand; we have been producing lately no more than twenty uncertificated teachers every year, but, in the current year, we shall not produce more than ten, although, at the present time, we are taking all those who present themselves as teachers. I am aware of course that the Board of Education have, for the last few years, been encouraging the bursarship system with a view of securing more highly qualified teachers than we have had in our elementary schools in the past. We do not in any way deprecate the importance of better training for elementary school teachers, but it necessarily follows from the kind of training and the encouragement given, that these intending bursars will become hereafter not uncertificated teachers but trained certificated teachers.
This bursary system is, in fact, an important factor in increasing the difficulty of the non-supply of uncertificated teachers. Uncertificated teachers are in parts of the country most distant from London rapidly becoming unobtainable, with the result that schools are for certain periods of the year understaffed and running very serious risk of losing their Government Grant. I have already said it is, in my opinion, a most excellent principle to employ only certificated teachers (and that appears to be the policy which is promoted by the Board of Education) as long as we can afford to pay them adequate salaries. But it is common knowledge that at the present time local education authorities are quite at the end of their tether, so far as their financial resources are concerned. They cannot 597 afford to pay these salaries, and, in the meantime therefore, some sort of assistance is required from the Board of Education and from the Treasury, to meet the very difficult and, as I think, impossible position into which these authorities are rapidly drifting. May I suggest the causes of this serious under supply of teachers in our elementary schools? At first there was undoubtedly a scare raised by the National Union of Teachers, a few years ago, as to a supposed over-supply, and therefore possible unemployment of teachers. If I may say so I think there was at that time some cause for the complaint of the National Union of Teachers, and it was apparently largely due to the fact that at one time only in the year there is a considerable output from the training colleges, amounting to from five to six thousand teachers, who cannot at once be absorbed after they leave such colleges, and have to wait until such time as the demand comes from the various schools throughout the country. I think it would be a very great advantage—and the County Councils Association strongly holds this view—to so arrange the courses of the training colleges that there should be three different periods at which the output of teachers shall take place, so that the absorption may more easily and readily follow, without serious disappointment or the long waiting which now occurs to many intending certificated teachers. Another cause, which I am sure we do not regret, is the abandonment of unsatisfactory methods which have obtained in the past of recruiting our elementary school teachers. There is no doubt that another cause is the raising of the qualifying examination for teachers, at any rate, in the higher branches of the profession. In addition to that, according to the present system which is insisted upon by the Board, this bursarship system necessarily involves a more prolonged course of training and at greater expense, at any rate as regards maintenance, during those years after a student leaves the elementary schools and before that student becomes eligible to be appointed as a teacher in a school. I do not know what may be the case in London and the home counties, but certainly in the more distant counties it is almost impossible to find parents who can afford to pay the necessary expenses of their children during that period after they leave the elementary schools and up to the time when they have passed through their 598 bursarship course and are eligible to become teachers. In addition to that there is no doubt that the increased possibilities of earning high wages in other walks of life, particularly under municipal authorities, have very largely increased during recent years, and therefore there is not the same inducement to young people to adopt the teaching profession. In addition to that the attendance at the secondary school is now in most cases insisted upon for a period of three years prior to the bursarship, and this involves a cost which most parents are unable to face, at any rate in the country districts. All this is aggravated by Circular 709, to which reference has already been made.
This inadequacy of teachers was prophesied by the Board themselves in their Annual Report both in 1907 and 1909, but the Board apparently has done nothing whatever to prevent this difficulty arising or to indicate to local authorities how best they can cope with the difficulty when it does arise. It is true they have been the means of multiplying training colleges by offering Grants for building purposes, but this has only had the effect of increasing the higher grade teachers at the cost of those who at the present time are more in demand amongst the local education authorities. The conditions prevailing in London are perpetually put before us as a sufficient reason for the Board to decline to listen to the protest which is coming up from the country districts. London is in a totally different position, as are also some of the home counties, from those which are more distant and which do not enjoy the same privileges. In these matters you cannot apply the same system to a compact population, where there is a high rateable value and where there is a good supply of easily accessible secondary schools. In the more distant counties, particularly in those which are mainly agricultural, the population is scattered, the rateable value is often very low per head of the population, and the secondary schools are either conspicuous by their absence or very few in number. If I may take this opportunity of saying so, I think the time is coming when the Board will have to base its Grant, if efficiency of education is going to be secured in those districts where good conditions do not prevail, on the conditions to which I have referred, in order that something like efficiency on the part of adequately equipped teachers should take place to the same extent all over the country.
599 I desire to ask the President of the Board what he is prepared to do with regard to the serious shortage of teachers. What the County Councils Association have already brought to his notice, and what I should like to emphasise now, is that the local education authorities should, for a time at any rate, be given a breathing space before the whole of the supplementary teachers disappear from our schools, and also that some means should be provided to enable the old pupil-teacher system to be for a time revived with the help of additional Grants to be given for such teaching beyond what are allowed at present. These Grants amount to £2 only, which is wholly inadequate for the purpose, and the County Councils Association are asking, and I think reasonably asking, that these Grants should be raised from £2 to £5. This will involve as a temporary expedient the amending of Article 2S (A) in the Regulations for the Preliminary Education of Elementary School Teachers, so as to give the local education authority unfettered discretion to provide for the instruction of pupil teachers in the elementary schools. In the second place, it will involve an amendment of Article 28 (E) of the same regulations by substituting a Grant of £5 for £2. It will be necessary to amend paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 (D) of the Code in order to permit the employment for a further period of supplementary teachers in schools for older scholars where the average attendance exceeds 100. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that on 31st July, 1914, all these supplementary teachers will cease to be recognised. We ask, as a temporary expedient, that such recognition should continue in the case of all those supplementary teachers who have proved themselves efficient and valuable in the schools in which they are at present serving. I know that this is a dull subject to bring before the Committee, but it is a subject on which the country local education authorities feel very strongly at the present time, and they are sensible of the fact that unless the Board of Education is prepared, perhaps with the help of the Treasury, to meet their requirements, the whole of their present system is bound to break down within the course of the next two years.
I do not know whether the President has it in his mind to insist upon nothing but certificated teachers being appointed in our elementary schools. This would involve in the county of Gloucester a sum of 600 £33,000, in addition to the amount already paid in teachers' salaries. That is a sum which I need hardly say the ratepayers are wholly unable to face at the present time. I should like to suggest as a matter worthy of consideration by the Board—bearing in mind the pressure they are perpetually putting upon, local education authorities to level up the standard of work in the elementary schools by the reduction of the classes and by the employment of more highly qualified teachers—that they should alter their system of making Grants by making the Grant the amount required for the payment of teachers salaries, and leaving such other expenses as the local education authorities have to face—and they are quite numerous enough in all conscience—to be met out of the rates. It would be entirely in the interests of the teachers, because nothing is more unsatisfactory at the present time than to have to refuse to certificated teachers the salary which their grade entitles them to, and nothing is more unsatisfactory to us who sit upon these authorities than to be in perpetual conflict with the National Union of Teachers in regard to matters upon which we are in entire sympathy with their views, but we have not the means to meet them. Nothing would more stimulate local education authorities in the direction of progress than to put a stop once and for all to this process of putting costly pressure on local education authorities, contrary to the wishes of those who send their members to represent them on these authorities, to spend money as the result of alterations in the code, or as the result of Bills passed through this House, over which the ratepayers have no control whatever.
May I, in conclusion, ask the President if he can do something to alter the curriculum of training colleges so as to enable those colleges to turn out teachers who are as well equipped for teaching in country districts as they are for teaching in urban areas. The bulk of those who go to training colleges to-day do undoubtedly come from London and other urban centres. It almost necessarily happens that the teaching profession is more largely recruited from urban localities, because the artisan and urban population undoubtedly are—if I may say so without offence to those whom I represent in this House—persons of greater mental alacrity, who have greater interest in the continuous and profitable employment of their children, and the result undoubtedly is that a larger 601 number of them do go into the teaching profession. One result of that is that they are trained very largely in urban methods of teaching, and they are not sufficiently qualified or given sufficient inducement to teach in the country districts those subjects which are becoming more and more important in the eyes of the country local education authorities. I refer to such subjects as domestic economy and gardening in the case of girls; and rural economy generally and especially such subjects as carpentry in the case of boys. All these subjects ought to be taught to a much greater extent in our training colleges than they are to-day, and I venture to say that if they are so taught they will do no harm to those ultimately employed in urban schools, whereas they will immensely increase the efficiency of those who have to be employed in our rural areas.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
I should like to focus the main charges which have been levelled against the Government in this Debate. They are that the Board of Education has used the various powers which it possesses, partially and deliberately, in favour of religious teaching of a particular sort, and to depreciate and place at a disadvantage religious teaching of the sort of which the party in power mainly disapproves. This policy has found very few supporters on its own side. I think even the hon. Member (Mr. Goldstone) rather joined in the attack which came from this side of the House on the mode in which denominational teaching was treated by the Board. Its only defender was the hon. Member (Mr. King), and so far as I can make out he rested the case for impartiality on various unsuccessful efforts which he had made to induce the Board to do something or other which he felt at the bottom of his heart he ought not to ask the Board to do, and when he came down the stairs of the Board of Education a defeated and disappointed applicant he consoled himself by saying that, at any rate, there was one Department in the Government which could claim to be totally and entirely impartial. We do not admit that the Board of Education is impartial. We say that it has shown what I may describe as gross partiality as regards denominational religious teaching, and has shown it in three ways. We first say that the Board of Education has used public money given for general educational purposes to discourage religious teaching of a particular sort. The Board 602 of Education is given large sums for secondary education and for the training of teachers, and it is given them quite uncontrolled. The Board of Education has the very remarkable power of dealing with that money as it pleases, and it has chosen to deal with it so as to discourage the religious teaching given in schools and in training colleges which are associated with the Church of England. There can be no doubt about that. Grants are distinctly withheld from schools in which a particular religious teaching is given unless it is given as an exotic and as a favour by the special application of the parents.
This treatment of public money, both in the matter of schools and in the matter of training colleges, the withholding of Grants from schools and training colleges which are not of the denominational colour which successive Presidents of the Board of Education particularly approve, is a gross misuse of public funds, and it is all the worse because local authorities are expressly forbidden to use the funds at their disposal to encourage any form of religious instruction or any formulary distinctive of any particular denomination or to make it a condition that any particular form of religious instruction shall or shall not be taught in the school or college. The Board of Education expressly limits this Grant to schools and colleges in which a particular form of religious instruction and no other is the normal religious instruction of the school or college, and there we say the Board uses public money to advance particular religious tendencies, and it uses or misuses judicial powers for the same purpose. What are the powers which the Board exercises as Charity Commissioners and as Endowed School Commissioners? These powers are strictly judicial. The powers of the Charity Commissioners were the powers of the Court of Equity, and the powers of the Court of Equity were limited to ensuring that the objects of the trust were carried out, and that the persons to whom the carrying of them out was entrusted were suitable persons to do it, and were discharging their trust properly. When these powers were transferred to the Charity Commissioners, the Charity Commissioners were strictly non-political. It is true they had a representative in this House to stand up for them against attacks which might be made, but he was not concerned in the administration of the Department, and everything was done to keep the work of the Charity Commis- 603 sioners as far removed as possible from party politics.
When in 1899 the educational work of the Charity Commission was made transferable to the Board of Education anxieties were expressed lest the judicial duty should cease to be judicially exercised, and should be exercised in deference to the views of party politicians. I was a new Member at the time—I am wiser now—and I recollect being told that it was impossible to suppose that a Government Department entrusted with judicial powers would use them otherwise than judicially. How are they exercised at present? We know very well that part of the regulations for schools and training colleges, and the memorandum introductory to those regulations, intimates that if the schemes which the Board has power to make under these Acts do not admit of the school or training college adapting itself to the policy of the Board of Education, and consequently the school or college cannot receive the Grant which it would otherwise receive without conforming to the religious views of the Board of Education, the Board would be prepared to alter the scheme on the application of the authorities. That really is a power which ought to be exercised judicially, but which is exercised not judicially, but in favour of the particular sort of religious instruction which is not the religious instruction contemplated by the founders of the trust. We maintain that the exercise of judicial functions in that way is a misuse of them, and that is the second charge which we bring against the Board of Education, that it has used judicial functions in favour of party purposes and denominational aims.
Lastly, we contend that the administrative powers of the Board of Education have not been exercised fairly as between one denomination and another. We know very well the history of the Swansea case. We know the scathing rebuke which the Court of Appeal administered to the Board of Education, and the criticisms which the House of Lords passed upon its action, but we still, in spite of all this, have admitted breaches of the law going on, connived at by the Board of Education—breaches of the law directed to the deliberate starvation of denominational schools. What has happened1! The local authorities are bound, under the Education Act of 1902, to maintain and keep efficient all schools within their area. Here are a number of 604 schools, admittedly efficient, which the local authority declines to maintain on the same level as the others. The Board of Education, with the Swansea case staring them in the face, neglects to attend to the repeated appeals made by the managers of these schools to have justice done to them, and to have the salaries of their teachers put on the same footing as the salaries of the teachers in the council schools. What excuse has the Board of Education? The powers which it possesses are ample. If the local authority declines to do its duty the Board of Education can remind it, more or less forcibly, by correspondence, that it must keep the schools, on the same footing, and if it persists in declining to do so the President of the Board can always have recourse to the Defaulting Authorities Act. What is the plain course open to them? To inquire into the salaries of the two sorts of teachers, and to ascertain whether the teachers in the voluntary schools are of a quality to justify the salary which the teachers in the other schools are enjoying, and there is no question, so far as I know, that they are entitled to the same scale of salary. At any rate the President has simply to inquire whether the teachers in the different schools are placed on the same footing, and, if not, whether there is any reason why they should not be placed on the same footing. The schools are equally efficient, but the salaries are different. If the President of the Board finds that there is no justification for the difference in the salaries he can simply tell the local authority that, unless they raise the salaries, he will pay the salaries and deduct the money from the Parliamentary Grant, which would otherwise go to the local education authorities. The process is perfectly simple. The threat of it is usually effective, and it leaves the Board without the smallest excuse for performing what every Court, from the Divisional Court to the highest Court in the land, has declared to be the plain duty of the Board under such circumstances as have been brought before it time after time, month after month, and week after week for months past, before and since the President entered upon the office which he now holds.
That is, we maintain, a gross breach of administrative duty on the part of the Board. We say that the Board has misused public money in order to show partiality to one class of religious teaching as against another. We say that it has misused judicial powers to the same ends, and 605 that it has misused administrative powers to the same ends, and it is idle to hope that we can ever be induced to accept any Hill which is said to be of a conciliatory character, and to place the two sorts of religious teaching on the level which they ought to occupy where there, are two great parties in the country, each desirous of having a different type of religious instruction, until we are satisfied that the measure passed by this House will be fairly administered by the Board in the sense and with the intention with which it was passed by this House. It is an unfortunate thing that a Government Department should acquire a reputation for unfairness. The reputation of a Government Department is not a matter which concerns one party only. It concerns us all. There can be no doubt what is the present feeling as regards the administrative and the judicial action of the Board of Education. It has been expressed, not only by us on this side of the House but it has found expression in the highest Courts of the land, and I urge the right hon. Gentleman, who is now entering on his office, no doubt finding difficulties laid up for him by his predecessor, to endeavour to restore the reputation of the Department over which he now presides, and to enable us to feel that measures which are passed with the intention that they should be fairly administered by both parties will be so administered.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. J. A. Pease)
During the Debate this afternoon it was somewhat entertaining to me to listen to the charges of unfairness brought against the present Government, when I remembered the Bill which was introduced by the Unionist Government in 1902. If ever the policy of a Government was unfair, it seemed to us, then sitting on the Opposition side of the House, that the policy of the then Government was not only unfair, but wholly unwarranted. I think I shall be able this afternoon to, at any rate, get some credit even from my political opponents for endeavouring to hold the balance as fairly as if can be held by a Minister having charge of a great national interest. Before I come to the charges which have been levelled against my Department to-night, perhaps I may be able to dispose of two questions which have been raised, and which have nothing to do with those charges. The hon. Member for the Wilton Division of Wiltshire (Mr. C. Bathurst) 606 dealt with the importance of changing our curriculum in the training colleges, so that teachers might be turned out certificated and better fitted to teach agricultural subjects in agricultural communities. There is no lack of elasticity in our curriculum, and it was only, I think, a fortnight ago I met a deputation of presidents and representatives of the training colleges. I pointed out to them the importance of endeavouring to adapt the teaching in their training colleges in accordance with, the requirements of the districts in which probably teachers might eventually find places. I pointed out to them that they had plenty of elasticity for the selection of those subjects, and I pointed out to them also that the Board of Education did not desire the training colleges to teach every particular subject thoroughly, but that whilst we wanted, of course, a thorough general groundwork of knowledge on the main questions taught in schools, we were quite prepared to encourage specialisation on other subjects during the last few months of the life of a teacher in a training college.
A question was raised also by the hon. Member for the Wilton Division, which is very important, in connection with the supply and demand of teachers. He appealed to mo to carry out what is an almost impossible task, and that is, to accurately adjust the balance between supply and demand. He admitted that in London there might be an over-supply, and yet in the county districts there might be an under-supply, and, while he dwelt upon the importance of teachers becoming certificated, he at the same time advocated a large number of uncertificated teachers. I am watching as closely as I can the statistics in connection with the supply of teachers, and I am sorry to admit that the figures show a diminishing number of candidates coming forward. Our estimate of the number of candidates who would be pupils for the preparatory classes and for bursaries last year was 10,738. This year our estimate is 8,164. It is very difficult to say why more young people are not coming forward as teachers, but, at any rate, one fact is certain, and that is that teachers are being drawn from a much larger area than heretofore. A few years ago it seemed to be only the sons and daughters of schoolmasters who were coming forward. Now we feel that the area has been considerably extended. The Board of Education are not only watching this matter very carefully and making inquiries 607 into the subject, but they are doing something which, I think, will help to secure for teachers greater certainty of occupation. One reason why young people have not come forward is the fact that they have felt they had not a career before them after they were trained. There was no certainty of employment, and no certainty of a good career if they entered the profession. The last figures available showing the number of teachers who found occupation relates to the year ending July, 1910. In that year of the 5,479 teachers who left the training colleges all, except 721, had found occupation in January, 1911. How many of these 721 have since found places we do not know. We really do not know the reason why a few of them have not entered the teaching profession. Possibly some of the young girls, instead of entering the teaching profession, may have married or taken to other work. There is great irregularity as to the age of teachers in leaving the profession. There is also some irregularity in what I may call the marriage market. Female teachers, after marrying as a rule, leave the profession. It is very difficult to anticipate these irregularities.
I have already since I have been President of the Board of Education met to some extent the recommendation which the hon. Member for the Wilton Division put forward, namely, that teachers should be allowed to leave the training colleges more frequently than they have in the past in order to take up their work. I have arranged that in future teachers shall be able to leave their training colleges twice a year instead of once a year as heretofore. I believe that will help to make the supply more readily meet the demand. It may be that an increase of salaries is the one thing necessary in order to induce more candidates to come forward. The hon. Member seems to regard the Treasury as a source to which the ratepayers may go in order to procure relief. Well, the Treasury represent the public just as much as the ratepayers' representative, and the money really comes out of the people's pockets, although sometimes they do not realise it when it comes from the Treasury. We have to look after the interests of the Treasury just as much as the representatives of the local education authorities have to look after the interests of the ratepayers. But this matter is not one so much for the Treasury as for the representatives in the 608 various local education authorities. If they think increased salaries are going to make the profession, more popular, and enable the supply to meet the demand, I think it behoves them to pay a little more for salaries than they have hitherto done. I am hopeful that in a very short time I shall be able to announce some further amount given towards the pensions of the teachers. At the present time teachers receive, it seems to me, rather an inadequate pension, and I am anxious that the amount should be somewhat enlarged. In that way I hope we shall still further popularise the service.
I should like now to allude to the various charges which have been made against us in connection with what is called the Swansea case. It is alleged that I have delayed in placing pressure upon the local education authorities to bring them within the four corners of the law. The complaint has also been made that large costs have been incurred by the managers, and that I have not met them in a fair manner after they have been put to considerable expense in connection with a process of law. I do not propose to go over the subject-matter of the Swansea case. That has been frequently discussed in this House in previous Sessions. Perhaps all I need say is that in the judgment of my predecessor at the Board of Education, and in the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown whom he consulted, this was a case of such importance as to justify them in taking the view that the law should be made quite clear. My right hon. Friend therefore took the Swansea case from the Divisional Court to the Appeal Court, and then to the House of Lords. It is perfectly true that the House of Lords decided against the Government, but hon. and learned Members this afternoon on the other side of the House hare admitted that this was a very important decision. The hon. Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) admitted in his speech that the law had to be made clear some time or other, and he said he was grateful, or words to that effect, that the law had now been made perfectly clear on that particular point.
As to the question whether we should indemnify the managers for all their costs, I have been looking into the matter since I received an appeal from the managers that the Government should refund them those costs, which I may call the difference of the costs as between solicitor and clients and the taxed costs given against the Government in the 609 House of Lords. [An HON. MEMBER: "And the costs of the inquiry."] Yes, the costs of the inquiry also. I do not know what the costs of the inquiry were, but I cannot imagine that the managers' costs were very great in the court of inquiry. The Government costs were £250 in the court of inquiry. In the Divisional Court, the Court of Appeal, and the House of Lords we have had to pay not only our own costs but the taxed costs of the managers of the voluntary schools. The total sum to be found was just £3,000. Of that amount about £1,200 are taxed costs, which have gone to the managers who brought this case against the Government. Therefore it seems to me that the amount out of pocket which the managers in the Swansea case have had to find cannot be a very large sum. In writing to me they ask for upwards of £2,000. But as our costs came to £1,800 and their taxed costs, which were paid, came to £1,200, it does not seem to me that their claim for the remainder ought to amount to more than about £600. Still, having regard to the whole facts of the case, and having looked into it to the best of my ability, I had to come to the conclusion with the if Treasury that no case could be made out for a further contribution to the litigants in that particular case.
The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Sir W. Anson) referred to what he termed the illegality that has occurred. He has a right, as the Noble Lord the other Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) has, to his opinion as to whether an illegal action has been taken by certain authorities in Wales or not. But I am informed that the question of whether these authorities have committed an illegal act or not is by no means settled, and that it is not for me on these acts to say that any actual illegality has been committed. I am not prepared to admit what were the motives which actuated the authorities in the differentiation which has taken place nor to admit that there has been any illegality. The question how far these cases which have been referred to in Wales are on all fours with the Swansea case, and how far the decision of the House of Lords applies to them, is, of course, a legal one. If in these other cases there is ascertained to be any breach of the law, the Government have not the slightest intention of evading the consequences or of conniving at a continuance of that breach, and we are just as anxious as any hon. Member on the 610 other side of the House to respect the law and carry it out and see that justice is done under the law. Some local education authorities in Wales have come to the conclusion, having regard to the Swansea case, that they ought to modify the rates hitherto paid to teachers in voluntary schools, and already, I am glad to say, are taking steps to remove the grievances of the teachers who have been affected by their previous practice. I have every reason to believe that the example which has been set by several of these authorities will be followed by others, and that the grievances of the teachers will be speedily removed. In that event, of course, no question in connection with the law will arise. There will be no necessity for me to hold an inquiry or to take any further legal action.
The whole question between the Government and my critics seems to resolve itself into this, whether there has been undue delay in regard to effectively remedying the position, and whether I ought to have taken a different course from that which I have taken. I have admitted in reply to a question put to me in this House that my attention was not called to this matter until 15th December last, just the day before Parliament rose. I wrote to the legal representative of the Board of Education who, I am sorry to say, is no longer in the service of the Board, and I think that perhaps the best thing I can do is to read to the House what he says:—For some long time after the delivery of the Swansea judgment we were fully occupied in endeavours to obtain a settlement of that case by payment from the Swansea Council to the managers. We did finally obtain a settlement on these lines.That was on 31st July.
So long as this question was in the balance it appeared desirable not to cause irritation by dealing with the complaints which we were receiving from Llansamlet.That was on 31st May.Bridgend, Tondu,which were on 9th June,Loughor,21st June,and Caerphilly,which was on 21st June.As soon as it became apparent that the complaints were coming in systematically we took the course of banking them up in order to deal with complaints as a whole.Then there were some additional complaints from Cardigan and other places in September and October.This and the delay caused in Swansea delayed the matter until the commencement of the Parliamentary recess.611 When Parliament rose the matter was not gone into. It required a conference between the Minister of Education and the legal officer. Then he goes on to say:—It was impossible for you to deal with the matter in the first weeks of your office, especially as you were hampered by the departure of Sir Robert Morant and myself.They left on 28th November and 1st December.I do not think that anyone can reasonably say that any harm has been done by the delay. It would have been impossible, to deal with each complaint separately. It was necessary to collate the papers to see how far there was some element or principle of law common to the whole number. If we dealt with each separately the result would have been extraordinary irritation of feeling and difficulty.I find that without my knowledge his successor at the Board of Education on 8th December took up this matter, and probably within a day or two of the date on which this question was put to me in the House of Commons, and my attention was called to it, I should have received, in the ordinary course, official notice. On 5th February I directed that letters should be sent to these various authorities containing managers' lettters, so that I should ascertain from them what course the local education authorities intended to pursue. In the case of Merthyr Tydvil, which has been mentioned, I understand that they have decided to discontinue the differentiation, and in the case of Abertillery and of Aberdare they have also decided to discontinue differentiation. All those three authorities, under the Act of 1902, are in the county of Glamorgan, which is the county about which moat has been said this afternoon. I am satisfied, from communications received yesterday from the education committee of Glamorganshire, that each case is now being inquired into on its merits, and there is no intention to differentiate on denominational grounds. I understand that with regard to two of the schools under that authority arrangements have already been made to pay salaries to the teachers on the provided-school scale, and that these matters will all be submitted by the education committee to the county council for confirmation on the 14th of this month.
§ Mr. PEASE
On the Monday of this week, and I received a communication yesterday, that a satisfactory arrangement would be made by the county council on the 14th of this month. I am also hopeful in the other case to which attention has 612 been directed in the interests of the teachers, that their salaries will be brought up to the same scale, and that there will be no differentiation between one class of teacher and another. And especially on such grounds as have been suggested by the Noble Lord, grounds of religious and political differences. If there is differentiation it ought to be on the merits of the case quite apart from considerations of such a character. The other charges against me are in connection with the regulations for secondary schools. It is better that I should refer the House to the purticular regulation five, about which complaint has been made this afternoon. It states that no catechism or formulary distinctive of any religious denomination may be taught in the school except as provided by this Article, and that if the instrument under which the school is governed requires, or does not require, the giving in the school of religious instruction of any particular denomination, the governing body may provide such instruction for any pupil at the request of the parent or guardian of the pupil; then there is provision for regulations by the governing body, and the last Sub-section says that such instruction must be provided for out of funds other than Grants made by the Board of Education or a local authority. These regulations were imposed by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Mr. McKenna) when he was at the Board of Education, and they were to enable an additional Grant to be given to secondary schools exceeding the lower Grant of £2 10s., to which these particular regulations did not apply. But when the Grant was going to be increased from £2 10s. to £5, then it was proposed by the Government that this addition from public funds should not be given unless we secured religious liberty in these secondary schools.
Denominational religion is still allowed to be taught in them. We are not undenominationalising them, as the Noble Lord has suggested. But what we are doing is that we are not allowing in the schools that are seeking for this higher Grant that denominational religion should be taught, unless it shall be taught at the request of the parents or guardians of the particular-children. We are anxious on educational grounds, especially for secondary schools, to avoid the evils that have arisen from the distribution of public money in the supporting of denominational education in the secondary school system. And 613 when additional money is forthcoming out of the public fund we believe it to be right that not only this money should be associated with public right, but also that it should be associated with public control. And in insisting upon one of these other regulations to which some Members of the Opposition take exception, we are insisting upon having among the governors a majority of the representatives of the authorities. We believe that while you have public money given it ought not to be spent merely in the interests of a particular denomination, but ought to be spent in the interests of the whole community, irrespective of all creeds and of the particular religious views which they may hold. It is for these reasons that we placed these regulations before Parliament in 1907. They were accepted then, and I am certainly not prepared at the present moment to modify them in any form. If any alteration is at any time to be made in any of them, I would say it could only be made in connection with a final settlement of the whole religious controversy. I am as anxious for a settlement of this religious question as any Member of this House. I have been impressed while I have been at the Board of Education by the extent to which this religious controversy is preventing educational progress. It is coming up constantly, as it has come up here to-day. It is prejudicial to educational progress. It decreases a great deal the zeal for education, and it prevents a great deal of that co-opertion between educational experts which would be of advantage to the country and to the children it is my duty to look after. In regard to Article 5, I do not think that there is really any hardship done. If there is a grievance all the parents have to do is to ask that their particular religion shall be taught to their children in the school. Surely, when they are asked to do this, their grievance cannot be anything like so great as it would be if this regulation were swept away, and those who objected to particular religious views should be called upon to contribute out of their own pockets for that teaching. With regard to Article 24, the large majority of the governors appointed by the public authority were only carrying out the old principle that those who pay the piper should also call the tune. One or two questions have been put to me in regard to other matters.
614 It has been asserted by the hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Montague Barlow) that we have been unfair to Roman Catholics, and that we have interfered with charitable trusts. In connection with the charitable trusts I may say that on one occasion we declined to meet the wishes of the parties and to make the alterations of the trust which they asked for. We acted in our judicial capacity. They appealed to a Court of Law and a decision was given against us, and this very trust was changed so that one of these institutions might come under our regulations, and receive one of the Grants. In regard to the Church of England schools, I do not really think that a strong case has been made out. There has been no difficulty in meeting the regulations. I think four secondary schools out of something like 973 now receiving Government Grants, have found it necessary to alter the trusts under Article 5, and one of these, under the direction of the High Court, is the case to which I have just referred. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire moved for a Return showing in how many cases schools have had their trusts amended to meet the regulations. The returns show that there were 323 schools which had to have their trusts altered, and since that Return there have only been three others. But those schools had not to have their trusts altered to meet these particular regulations to which exception has been taken; they were altered to meet the regulations that the schools should throw open a certain number of their places to the public. From 10 per cent, to 25 per cent., according to the various circumstances and merits of each case, of free places have to be found in the secondary schools before we allow them to obtain the Grants which they require.
There is only one case where all the scholars were compelled to be taught denominational religion, and in that case the Conscience Clause had to be inserted. The hon. and learned Member for Oxford University, and the hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, thought that I had exercised my powers almost illegally, and certainly partially, in my judicial capacity. If I have exercised my powers in that way I have only followed the example of my predecessors in the Opposition. In 1902, when the Education Act was passed, the Conscience Clause was inserted to protect the public from injustice at the hands of local educational authorities, who were looking after the 615 interests of the ratepayers. The late Conservative Government thought it necessary to amend these trusts just in the same way as I have done, in order to introduce a Conscience Clause, so that the public shall be protected in connection with Grants paid out of the public funds. Therefore, so far as altering the trusts has been concerned, I feel that I have only followed their example. They did it in order to secure the removal of what they believed to be a religious disability. I again have altered them, judicially exercising my powers to the best of my ability, fairly between one denomination and another, between one person and another, in the interests of the public, in the interests of conscience, and in the interest of a religious liberty. So long as I am at the Board of Education I desire to use my powers judicially and fairly between all sections of the community. I believe that these regulations in operation are really fair to the community, that they protect the religious views of all classes of the community, while they do not favour in any particular direction any particular denominational view or creed which any individual may happen to possess.
§ Mr. ALFRED LYTTELTON
I am profoundly disappointed at the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. He has echoed a very familiar cry, a very worn platitude in these Debates, that there is no higher interest that that of education in this country; but I would submit to him that there are still higher interests than even those of education, and they are the interests of justice and fair play. The right hon. Gentleman, who I admit in this matter has been better than his predecessor, has dealt briefly with the Swansea case. I have studied that case from the beginning—from the time when the inquiry was made by Mr. Justice Hamilton and throughout the decisions of the Court of Appeal, and the House of Lords. I do not believe that anybody thinks—for it is a perfectly clear case—that there is a single difference of opinion on this subject. No fair-minded man I have ever heard speak upon it on its merits, has ever questioned that this discriminating against poor teachers in voluntary schools, giving lower salaries in provided schools, is an act of shabbiness and meanness which at once ought to be checked.
§ Mr. A. LYTTELTON
Let me remind the Committee what it has cost this Gentleman, and the managers of the Swansea school, owing to the action of the Education Committee and the county council. They have been put to great expense; they have had to pay £2,000 out of their own pockets. Before that they had spent £24,000—they and their friends—in improving the schools according to the requirements of the Education Department. Why should they find this £2,000? Why should they be fined for making clear to the Department what everybody saw clearly, namely, the construction of the Act of 1902. The right hon. Gentleman himself admitted that this was a test case, and that the law must be made clear; and he actually expressed his gratitude for the efforts of the parties in getting the law made clear. There have been cases such as my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford can remember under the Budget, in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has met with a difficulty in the construction of the law, and in which he has admitted that there should be a test case, the Treasury bearing the costs of that test case. What is the case here? It is precisely on all fours. It is a test case in order to clear up this matter, so that there shall be no possible doubt. It is a case in which the Government have expressed their gratitude, and a case in which the law has been made abundantly clear for all time. Having done the State that service of making the law clear, why should the managers of this school be put to the immense cost of helping the Government to understand the law? Was there ever a clearer case for indemnity to be given, not merely for expenses out of pocket, but for what it must be admitted is a reasonable charge. It is absolutely futile, as anybody who knows the circumstances will admit, for a humble party to go against the Law Officers of the Crown unless he is well advised and well assisted by eminent and distinguished counsel. These gentlemen have helped the country and the Government to understand the law, and the Government express their gratitude to them for that service rendered to them by penalising them with a fine of £2,000. I think that is really, as the right hon. Gentleman himself said last night, a hard thing. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that it was a hard thing, and let him go to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and point out that iris a hard and an unjust thing. Let him point out to the Chancellor of the 617 Exchequer that there have been several cases in which the Government have paid the costs in similar circumstances, and let him do what is just and honourable by paying this gentleman, with his friends, his expenses. This decision, which put this matter beyond all possible doubt, was delivered in the House of Lords on 11th April of last year, but the right hon. Gentleman says that since that decision was given there is still a doubt in his mind as to what the motives of the people in Wales were for discriminating, and for nearly a year, in the case of the voluntary school teachers in Wales. May I remind him that he cannot have read the correspondence which must have passed through his office, and of which I take the sample case of Aberystwith. There I find that a Mr. Jenkin James, as secretary, informed the managers:—The education committee would be in a better position to consider the application (of the elementary teachers) if all religious instruction of a sectarian or denominational character were excluded from the curriculum of the schools. I am to ask whether the managers are able to give any assurance on this point.That means that the local education authority are declining to pay salaries to the voluntary school teachers on the ground that they are doing what it is their duty to do, namely, to teach denominational religion.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
It is present to the right hon. Gentleman's mind now, and I want to ask him the question which was put to him by the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. E. Wood). Nine or ten months have elapsed during which this grievance has arisen and been complained of. So far as the right hon. Gentleman himself is concerned he came rather late on the scene. His business is not to defend himself; his business is to defend his Department. As he has been asked about this matter already in this Debate and has not given an answer, I may take it that the case is undefended by him in this respect, namely, that for nine months, and in one case for nearly twelve months, these questions were most distinctly raised in Wales, and have been brought to the attention of his Department, and that it is not until the month of February that any redress was given. I have here a letter as to the Aberystwith case addressed to the secre- 618 tary of the Board of Education, so that the right hon. Gentleman has been misinformed. It is dated 13th October, 1911 (the date is in pencil), and it is from the managers to the Secretary of the Board of Education.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
The case I was making to the Committee was that on the 13th October the Board of Education were in actual communication with the managers of the Aberystwith school, who were refusing, as I have shown by the quotation I have given, to grant what is just and legal, and what all the Courts had decided to be just and legal, to the teachers of those schools on the ground that they are performing their duty, namely, teaching denominational religion. What excuse is there for the right, hon. Gentleman or the Department, and especially the Department, that ever since April last, when this case arose, and when on the 13th October it was distinctly brought to the attention of the Department, that it is not to this day that this matter is redressed. I cannot use any other word than that a great Government Department are allowing this mean, shabby, bigotry to poor people who, doing their duty according to the law, have a perfect right to the protection which every Englishman should have, and especially to the protection of a great Department of the Government, to enforce the law which is the law of the land. It is almost pitiable to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he was banking up these complaints. I do not mean that he was, but that the Department was banking up the complaints that these people in Wales were not receiving the salaries they were entitled to by law. Why should they be banked up? They ought to have been dealt with at once, the very moment that the judgment in this case, which has put the taxpayer to such an immense cost, was delivered in April, and which made the thing clear to everybody who wanted to 'understand the matter. The very moment that judgment was delivered every single application and complaint should have been, dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman. The remedy was easy. Why was it not taken?
619 There is another question which was put in specific form to the right hon. Gentleman, and which has not yet been answered. It is this: now that the law has been made clear to the Department, and now that the grievance of the school teacher is undoubted, is the right hon. Gentleman, in addition to rectifying the matter in the future, going to pay the arrears of the past? That is a plain question which was put very clearly and temperately by my hon. Friend behind me. We have had no answer, and I think we ought from the Department before this Debate closes. I pass from that matter, which, I must say, reflects more profound discredit on a Government Department than almost any other I can remember. I come to a matter which I think is very important also, because it is in connection with a subject of very great controversy in which we are engaged at present—namely, as to the right of these Government Departments, and as to their fitness to exercise judicial functions. What has happened with regard to these regulations? The Act of 1902 laid down in perfectly clear terms that there was to be no discrimination in educational matters and as regards amounts that are given for educational purposes because of denominational differences. The right hon. Gentleman will remember Section 4 of the Act of 1902. In 1907 the predecessors of the right hon. Gentleman issued a number of regulations with regard to secondary schools which quite gradually, but very largely would undenominationalise Church of England training school colleges. I do not dispute that those regulations were within the power of the Education Office to issue, but they were bound, in issuing them, to have regard to Section 4 of the Act of 1902, which enacted:—
"A council in the application of money under this Part of this Act shall not require that any particular form of religious instruction or worship or any religious catechism or formulary which is distinctive of any particular denomination shall or shall not be taught used or practised in any school. …"
The effect of those regulations was to make it impossible for a Church of England secondary school or training college which desired a Grant by Regulation 23 to obtain that Grant. In other words, in order to obtain the Grant under that regulation the Church of England schools had to dispense with their requirement of Church of England teachers. I say that that is to 620 undenominationalise those colleges, and I do not think it is in dispute. At any rate, when those regulations were made it became in the highest degree important that any function which the Education Board had to exercise under them, and which was a judicial function, should be exercised in the most judicial spirit. What did they do? There was a number of Church of England colleges which could not, by reason of their trust deeds, conform to those regulations, and which could not, therefore, have the Grant. The Board of Education, who are themselves a judicial authority in this matter, representing the Charity Commissioners, in a memorandum to those colleges, suggested that they should, if at the time unable, by reason of their trust deeds, to conform with the regulations, to submit a scheme to the Board of Education, and that the Board of Education would be prepared to assist them in passing it. In other words, the judicial authority, bound to consider whether the scheme is or is not fitting and in conformity with the trust actually suggests to one of the parties, in order to earn a Grant, that the Board itself, the judicial authority, will assist in the formation of a scheme and promote it. Was anything more improper ever heard of? If one of the justices sitting on a case in petty sessions were to intimate to a party before a case was heard that he was prepared favourably to consider that case, why, of course, the decision of the justice would be absolutely invalid, and he would be very severely censured for making such a suggestion. Here is the Board of Education, the judicial authority, suggesting to the trustees that if they offer a scheme the Board of Education, the judicial authority, will help them in doing so. I submit that that is a grossly improper thing in itself, and no defence at all has been made by the right hon. Gentleman. The matter was put quite clearly by one of my hon. Friends, and I am really surprised that no attempt has been made to justify what seems to me to be a most irregular and injudicial proceeding, and one which, standing alone, would seem very largely to decide the question whether in these controversial matters the Board of Education is fit to be a judicial authority at all. That is really the case that has been made. I do not desire to press hardly upon the right hon. Gentleman; I quite recognise that he came rather late on the scene. But he has been a long time a Member of the House and knows its 621 traditions; therefore, I ask him that in future this shabby conduct on the part of local authorities shall be decisively and peremptorily stopped, and that we shall have no more instances to debate in which a Government Department shows any lack of zeal in putting down what is really mere bigotry.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
I have listened to this Debate with the greatest possible interest, and am extremely sorry at the turn it has taken. Naturally, when one heard the right hon. Member for St. George's (Mr. A. Lyttelton) speaking of the action of local authorities in differentiating salaries as being prompted by shabby bigotry, one immediately asked whether this policy of mean and shabby bigotry was being pursued from 1902 to 1905. I am not sure whether that is so—
§ Sir W. ANSON
If the hon. Member is asking whether between 1902 and 1905 the Board of Education either discriminated or connived at discrimination by local authorities as between voluntary and provided schools, I assure him that the Board of Education did nothing of the sort on its on account, and would have emphatically corrected and stopped any such discrimination by local authorities.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
Then I must assume that this differentiation in the salaries of teachers in provided and non-provided schools really began after 1906. If that is the case, and I accept the statement of the hon. Member as being correct, I exonerate the party opposite at once. It may be that they were not in any way responsible for the mean and shabby bigotry. But I want to talk about a subject which I think has more to do with the education of the children, especially in poor neighbourhoods. I am afraid that when the religious controversy enters into the educational problem the children are absolutely forgotten, and we really think of creeds rather than of the efficiency of the education given to the children of the poor. Hon. Members opposite may have proved their case of partiality in certain respects, and I wish to refer to a case where I shall be obliged to suggest partiality in the administration of another part of the Department's business. The matter concerns the district of Stoke-on-Trent, which I represent in this House. For some reason or another it has been refused a Grant under the Necessitous School Areas Act, and I am particularly anxious to know the reason. I have not 622 been supplied with the whole of the data, and I wish to be sure as to the conditions under which these necessitous school Grants are given. I understand that one condition is that there shall be a certain proportion of children attending the elementary schools according to the population of the locality; and, secondly, that there must be a low rateable value in proportion to the population. Having seen the whole of the figures for Stoke-on-Trent, I do not believe there is any borough in the whole country with an equal population that has a lower rateable value, and I understand that it stands well in the list in regard to the number of poor children attending the elementary schools in proportion to its population. It is only necessary for a visitor to go to Hanley or Burslem and see the mile upon mile of potters' and miners' cottages to realise that it is probably one of the lowest rateable districts in the whole country. If there is any district that ought to be assisted I should imagine that this was really one of the first. I understand that another of the conditions required is that there must be already a rate of 1s. 6d. in the £ levied for educational purposes.
Taking those conditions as being necessary to justify the education committee of Stoke-on-Trent in applying for this Grant, I believe they are well within the terms of the provisions of the Act and the Regulations of the Board. It has been suggested that there is something in the Provisional Order under which Stoke-on-Trent was constituted a county borough two or three years ago which precludes the Board from giving a Grant to Stoke in the way that it is given to other areas. Having seen the correspondence upon this subject between the Board of Education and the Education Committee, I take it that that is the final reason, because they call attention to the fact that Article 48 of the Provisional Order precludes them from making a Grant. It is therefore necessary for me—because, as the representative of the locality, I assisted in meeting the several interests—to read the Article, to give an explanation of why it was placed in the Order, and to show that it has nothing to do with the subject and does not in any way justify the Board in its refusal to assist the Committee. Article 48 of the Provisional Order of 1908 is as follows:—Notwithstanding anything contained in this Order, the borough of Burslem and the borough of Longton shall continue to be separate areas for the purpose of special Grants as defined by the Board of Education, and the council of the borough shall be entitled to 623 receive the payment of and shall then allocate to such areas respectively any such Grants which after the commencement of this Order may be made to or in respect of the same.It will be seen that that refers to two of the boroughs that were included in the county scheme. They already received Grants, and what they were afraid of was that, unless some special protection was given to them in this Order, the moment they joined with the rest of the boroughs in accordance with the wishes of the Government themselves, they might be precluded from the benefit of the Grants. I expect their fear was that, either in reference to population or the proportion of children attending the schools or rateable value, the position might be altered, and they might be deprived of the Grant. It so happens, however, that, take these boroughs how you will, either separately, as they used to be, or collectively, or strike out the boroughs which previously had the Grant and deal only with the remaining portions, on either of the grounds they are entitled to the Grant just the same as any other part of the country. Yet the Grant is refused because of this Order. There is nothing in the Order to prevent the Board of Education from giving the Grant to the other part of the locality. The Order does not say that no other district is to receive the Grant, or that the ordinary law applying to other poor communities in educational matters shall be suspended so far as this district is concerned. Nothing of the sort. I will not press the matter much to-night, but I ask the right hon. Gentleman, before he finally decides the matter, to give it his special consideration and to see whether on all grounds we are not entitled to receive equal treatment with anybody else. We do not ask for better treatment, though on the ground of the poverty of the neighbourhood, special treatment might be justified. We are not appealing for that. All we ask is that Stoke-upon-Trent should be treated just the same as anywhere else, and that this Order should not be used for the purpose of depriving us of what we should be entitled to receive had that Order never been passed. The reason the education committee is so pressing upon the subject just now is—and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nottingham will be able to confirm this—that the scale of teachers' salaries is very low. I am bound to confess that it is lower than it ought to be, because of the poverty of the district. Attempts have been made at the present 624 —I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman knows—perhaps he will not until the strike actually occurs, and then it may be too late—that there are threats already to refuse to teach unless salaries are taken into account. The neighbourhood, however, is so poor that it is utterly impossible for us to enter into expenditure to raise the teachers salaries to the scale they ought to be, unless the Board of Education will come forward and assist us in the same way that the Board assists other people. I hope before these Estimates are finally settled that the right hon. Gentleman will give his personal attention to the matter. If he does I feel certain we shall get hotter treatment than we are getting at the hands of the permanent officials of the Department.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I desire to say a few words of comment upon the remarkable speech which we have heard from the President of the Board of Education. I make no apology to the Committee for returning, in spite of the observations of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, to the religious aspect of education. Of all the cant that passes current in the world there is no cant more thoroughly contemptible than to pretend that religion is not the most important aspect of education. How can anyone who is gifted with a mind believe, on the one hand that religion is true, and on the other that it is unimportant? How can anyone talk about the interests of children, as the hon. Member for Stoke did, and at the same time deprecate the discussion of the religious education of children? What can be of more importance, or even remotely of such importance, as the religious instruction of children so far as the children are concerned? I really think the Committee might deprecate the reiteration of this shallowest of dogmas, this deprecation of the discussion of religious education. The right hon. Gentleman said a good deal about the treatment of the complaints made about the regulations in connection with secondary schools. What he said on that matter really sums itself up in this: that the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors have put undenominational teaching, so far as they can, in a position of privilege in the secondary schools. They have not, he said, absolutely excluded denominational teaching, but they have put it in a subordinate position.
What is so amazing is that they do not see that it is inconsistent with the principles of religious equality to deal thus 625 with schools whose trusts are of a denominational character. They cannot understand that it is an outrage on the conscience and the religious liberty of everyone who prefers a denominational system to an undenominational system that by the powers of the Government the denominational system should be subordinated to the undenominational system. If it were a question between Protestant and Roman Catholic the right hon. Gentleman would have no difficulty in seeing how extraordinarily unfair it would be to take Roman Catholic schools and to put Protestant teaching into a position of advantage and Roman Catholic teaching in a position of subordination. Why is it he is not able to understand that we reject undenominational teaching; and that it is not our religion at all; and that there is precisely the same difference to us between denominational and undenominational teaching as between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism? What right has he to make his view, or the views of his supporters the subject by which our religious convictions are to be judged? He talks about public money being given to give religious teaching that is not approved by the taxpayer. What right has he to give our money for the sort of religious teaching which is given by the undenominational system? How is it possible that he cannot see that you must hold the balance equal between the two systems? If the Government or the Education Department are to act fairly in the matter they must give no preference, whatever to the undenominational over the denominational system. We ask for equality. We will never be satisfied unless we get it. We shall keep the educational system in a perpetual disturbance until religious equality is granted.
The right hon. Gentleman also dealt with some burning questions in relation to the Welsh schools and the Swansea Church school. My right hon. Friend has dealt so well with this that I will not deal with it at any length, but there were some things that struck me as odd in the right hon. Gentleman's explanation. I thought it surprising that he should spend so considerable a time arguing about the amount of costs when it appeared at the end of his observations that he was not prepared to pay any of them. It does not seem of importance whether the costs are £600 or £1,000 if the Government are not prepared to pay any of them. In his speech, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman adopted 626 an irrelevant disposition culminating in an illogical conclusion—an attitude I deprecate in Parliament. Amongst other things the right hon. Gentleman read a testimonial as to the good behaviour of himself and his predecessor, from, as I understood it, one of their subordinates. He read out his document with much, unction. This is a practice adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, when he has been pressed, has taken refuge behind Mr. Watson. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, following that example, takes refuge behind Mr. Sinister or some permanent official of the Department. It ought to be clearly understood that the duty of a permanent official is not to give a testimonial to his Parliamentary superior, however impressive as a guarantee of good behaviour that testimonial may be. It is for the Parliamentary head of a Government Department to be the head of that Department, and to take full responsibility for what is done. These lengthy documents, I think, had better be omitted from our Debates.
The right hon. Gentleman said that during all these long months he had been banking up the complaints which we urged. A profane Friend who sits near to me suggests that the right hon. Gentleman was banking up the complaints because he wished to see them damned. That is an observation which I would not venture to make myself. But I want the Committee to consider that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education is a judicial authority. He is the judicial authority and judge who receives complaints. In this case he received a complaint of a breach of the law. He acknowledges it with a postcard, and then he lets it bank up. He waits for another, and another, and another. Then months afterwards he makes a judicial inquiry. Whatever that may be we do not know. He never explained. He did not tell us what channel he made it through, why it had to be confidential, or what it was about. He let the matter hang these months, the confidential inquiry having had so discouraging a result. Then I understand that on Monday last the right hon. Gentleman learnt that one of the education committees had come to a better state of mind. The right hon. Gentleman regards that as a satisfactory thing. So it is. But to whom does the credit belong for that amendment in the behaviour of that Welsh education committee? Why, of course, to hon. Friends on this side of 627 the House who called public attention in Parliament to the matter.
The right hon. Gentleman as a judge has sunk to such a depth, and maintains such indifference to the considerations which ordinarily weigh with judicial authorities, that all he can do is to make inquiry of the authorities! He cannot even frighten the authorities as much as do hon. Members of the Opposition by asking questions. Surely if the result of questions is so much, why did not the right hon. Gentleman bring this education authority to its senses. The right hon. Gentleman might have found a way to bring pressure upon them during the long months in which he has been engaged in meditating on the exercise of his judicial function! The President of the Board of Education has done unintentionally one good thing. I do not think in future there will be a tendency to trust the Department with judicial functions. I hope when there is a better and a wiser majority in this House that we shall have an Act taking away judicial functions from the administrative Departments. They are not fitted for it. That does not alter the case we have to make that the Department is nominally a judicial authority. We protest against the Department taking no effective steps to vindicate the law, and against such a defence as we listened to a few minutes ago. I am convinced that there is not a Member of this House, even on the other side, who does not in his heart feel that this discussion has revealed a grave administrative scandal, one that reflects great discredit—not on the right hon. Gentleman who does not wish himself to act unjustly—but on the Department of which he is the head.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I do not desire to follow the Noble Lord in the points that he has raised in this discussion, and I shall not be guilty of impertinence in commenting upon the subjects which so far have engaged the attention of the Committee. I do desire to express my views that the time allowed and the opportunities open to Members of the House to discuss the real problems of education are all too small. I desire, very briefly, to take advantage of this opportunity to attempt to obtain some information as to educational problems generally, and to make some suggestions. I cannot help but contrast the treatment which the subject of education receives in this House and the treatment with which problems relating to the Army 628 receive, and properly receive. In the latter case, day after day is given to the most exhaustive Debates upon minor details. With regard to education, possibly this may be the only day in the Session that it will be possible to discuss what after all is a most important subject, perhaps the most important, that this House can discuss.
May I say with regard to the Noble Lord's speech that I think there are many on this side of the House who would agree with his statement that religion is the most important thing to consider, but would dissent from the Noble Lord's conception of religion; who would not feel that in the apparently eternal quarrel which exists between different schools of religious belief the subject of religion in its real sense is a subject of debate at all. I turn to the subject of administrative problems that I desire very briefly to bring to the notice of the House. I wish first to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on at least two steps that have been taken since he began his work as President of the Board. I congratulate him first upon the fact that at length an Order in Council has been issued constituting a Teachers' Registration Council. That is a matter which some of us think has been too long delayed. We look forward to the new scheme of registration as a great step forward in the consolidation of the profession and in the promotion of its efficiency. And the other matter upon which I desire to congratulate my right hon. Friend is the appointment of the Departmental Committee to inquire into the playgrounds attached to elementary schools. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give the fullest possible scope to that inquiry, raising as it does the whole question of the outdoor life of elementary school children. I think such an inquiry, if carried out on wide and broad lines, will lead to many important reforms.
There are many questions upon an occasion like this that, those interested in education in this House would require detailed information upon. We should like to know, for instance, what is the attitude of the Board and what progress has been made in the development of the policy of the Bill passed last Session, which is the Children's Employment Act. We should like to know how far the establishment of juvenile employment and Advisory Committees has been carried out, and what measure of success has attended the work of those Committees especially, as I 629 presume they are in close co-operation with the Board of Trade. Then, for my own part, I should like further information with regard to the attitude of the Board on the question of medical treatment of elementary school children. There are many of us who feel that medical inspection of children is almost useless until it has been made possible for the medical treatment of school children to be carried out at the schools and under the control of the authorities attached to the school. We should like to know what hope there is of adequate progress being made in that direction. Then I desire, for my part, to express the hope that the advent of the right hon. Gentleman to the Board will be marked by a new spirit of experiment in the matter of educational reform. It has been borne in upon me more and more that the curriculum of the elementary schools since the establishment of national elementary education has remained in a fixed and narrow groove. If there was anything that should have been experimental and adventurous in its working it should be our system of elementary education, and I desire to press very strongly this appeal for greater experiment and a greater spirit of adventure in connection with the curriculum in elementary schools.
May I give, in a few words, two examples to my right hon. Friend of what I mean in justification of my criticisms of the curriculum of these elementary schools? Reading is taught in all our elementary schools, and no boy leaven the elementary schools unable to read, but is it not a notorious and a very remarkable fact that few boys leave the elementary schools who have been taught through reading to seek for those rich pastures of literature and to receive into their minds all the joy and inspiration and strength coming from love of noble literature? That is one example where the narrow curriculum working in narrow grooves has failed. I take another example. Some elementally teaching in art is now given in our elementary schools, but has that teaching of art in the elementary schools ever been related to the teaching of crafts and to the development of sound canons of taste and judgment in our national life; or is it, again, not notorious that the teaching of the elementary schools has entirely failed in having any real result in the great majority of cases? I am well aware that the Board has carried out some inquiry into art teaching in the elementary schools, and I should have been very glad indeed on an occasion like this to have some indication of the nature of 630 the results of this inquiry and the influence it is having upon the Board of Education.
I pass now to matters connected with the secondary education. There has been, during the last few years, and we all rejoice at it, a great development in our system of secondary education, and certainly a far greater spirit of experiment has been shown in secondary education to that shown in so many cases in the world of elementary education. But the development of secondary education raises a question, to my mind, of the most vital importance. It raises the whole question of the relation between secondary education and elementary education. I should like to hear from the President what is the attitude of the Board as an inspiring force in all educational matters in respect of this relationship. I will give one instance of what I mean. I am one of those who do not think we ought to see as a permanent feature of our national life an inferior system of education. I trust we shall not see an inferior kind of elementary education for the children of the poor and an efficient kind of education for the children of the rich. Owing to the enormous development of secondary education that has taken place this question becomes of great importance. The Board, for instance, sanctions—I believe I am correct—with regard to secondary schools under their own control the admission of young children at the ages of nine or ten or even lower. Side by side with the secondary schools receiving those young children you have elementary schools sending a few chosen boys to the secondary schools at the ages of thirteen or fourteen. I am not criticising these matters, I am stating these facts, because it shows that the system in which one secondary school is receiving children at the age of eight and nine from the elementary schools, and a few boys of the age of thirteen or fourteen is a system in which the parts are not properly related one to the other. I submit that is a matter that should be discussed in this House, and I should be glad of any statement of policy on a matter of this kind. It is more important, because I think I am right in saying that the nation will not always allow an inferior system of education for the children of the poor. They will not allow overcrowded classrooms in elementary schools and small classes and a proper and a high standard in the secondary schools. It is too great a distinction in the method of educating different sections of the people to be elevated for ever and ever into a principle.
631 There were numerous discussions on questions in this House some time ago in respect to what is known as the Holmes' Circular. If the discussion of that circular led any Member of this House or of the general public to believe that Mr. Holmes was not a great educationist, and had not sincerely at heart the reform of elementary education, it would be a very great mistake, and one to be deeply deplored. Mr. Holmes has other claims upon the consideration of all interested in educational reform, and I should like to have some expression of opinion from the Board of Education respecting the suggestions contained in one of the greatest books upon education recently published—I refer to Mr. Holmes' book, "What Is and What Might Be." If I needed any justification for the criticisms I have ventured to make in repect of the curriculum of the elementary schools, I should have found that justification in Mr. Holmes' interesting pages, and I venture to say no one can read his book, with its picture of the mechanical methods with which we are still so content in so many thousands of our elementary schools, and consider, on the other hand, the possibility he unfolds to the nation by wiser and greater methods without being profoundly impressed with the great opportunities for reform that the President of the Board of Education possesses. There is a great example of what is possible in educational reform which is now the subject of study in many centres of learning. There is a school now being carried on in Rome which is being visited from all parts of the world. There is demonstrated what is possible by putting aside the mechanical methods so common in elementary schools in many countries, and substituting instead a method which draws forth the individuality in children and allows it to have full and natural play under healthy and natural conditions. I should be interested to know whether the Board of Education has inspected that school and has a report upon it, and what action the President intends to take in order that the advantages of that system may be demonstrated here in our own country. I must apologise to the Committee for having spoken so long. I hope I may be excused in view of the great importance of the subject and of the few opportunities we get to discuss it.
And, it being Quarter-past Eight, and there being Private Business set down by 632 direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means, under Standing Order No. 8, fur-their proceeding was postponed.