§ Postponed proceeding resumed on Amendment to Question "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Which Amendment was to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
I have received a telegram from an association representing 450 school boards and thirty 145 secondary school committees in Scotland asking me to put down a Motion urging His Majesty to withdraw his assent to the Teachers' Superannuation (Scotland) Bill, but as that scheme is only one of a group of Scottish education questions which involve great cost upon the ratepayers I think it would be more convenient to the House if I raised the subject on this Bill with a view to ascertaining if the Government are disposed to meet the complaint. The matter is one of great urgency, or I should not have raised it to-night. This superannuation scheme is one of a group of the educational projects of the Scotch Education Department, which includes smaller classes throughout the primary schools, medical inspection, and attendance, and an increase in continuation and technical classes. These projects have originated mainly, and have been developed entirely, at the Department, through whose edicts they are launched at the ratepayer to be operated almost entirely at his expense. The charge upon the Treasury is so slight that probably my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has a very limited acquaintance with these undertakings. The opportunity for control over them in this House is so slight that they practically do not come under our review as representatives of Scotland. The edicts of the Scotch Education Department, therefore, are apt to be as little under the control and guidance of Parliament as under that of the ratepayers; and the ratepayer knows nothing about these projects until some fine day or other he is called upon to meet the cost. The Scotch Department can launch its projects at the safe distance of 400 miles out of Scotland, independently of the Treasury, of Parliament, of the local authority, or of public opinion in Scotland. The total cost of this group of projects is huge. The original estimate for teachers' superannuation was about £70,000. The cost of the present scheme approaches £250,000 altogether, and it will yet rise, because, if the scheme for small classes, an admirable scheme in itself, is to be carried out, there must obviously be a very large increase of teachers for whom retiring allowances will have to be provided. Therefore, that total is sure in the end to rise. Of that sum £137,000 had to be met by direct and indirect contributions of the ratepayers. They had to come mainly out of the Scotch Education Fund, and partly directly from the rates. Since the movement against these unusual burdens began we have had 146 a contribution promised from the Treasury of £25,000, upon the plea that it is to be an equivalent Grant on account of some imaginary scheme for the superannuation of teachers in England. I asked for particulars of that scheme from the President of the Board of Education, and he could give me none. I asked for the cost of it, and he obviously had no idea what it would be, so this £25,000 is not an equivalent Grant. It is a dole, and an uncommonly small dole at that. Another item of policy accords entirely to the Education Department a very necessary power of school improvement. But in Scotland the school buildings have been constructed hitherto on a system almost as substantial as that of the pyramids of Egypt. They are now to be remodelled on a model of extraordinary extravagance in order to meet modern requirements, and this, again, will cost the ratepayers an enormous sum of money. The scheme has been postponed. But why? Because the taxpaying worm has turned. That is the only reason. We shall have it again later on, and then we shall have a scheme at a cost unknown to the ratepayers.
Again, under the Votes for the year, £7,000 is to be allocated for the medical service. The School Board authorities are now charged with the responsibility for medical inspection and attendance. Seven thousand pounds will not go very far to meet the cost of that responsibility. It may easily grow into £70,000, and the whole cost will fall on the local authority and the ratepayer. To these items the cost of the continuation schools and the scheme of technical classes are to be added. The existing contribution made by the State towards the cost of education in Scotland depends on the receipts of the Treasury for the use of the bottle. I am here neither to attack the work of the Education Department nor to protect the ratepayer. I am here as an educationalist to point out the consequences to the children of Scotland of this method of administering the finances. I for one have accepted the burden placed on the country by the financial policy of the Government. I have accepted that policy; but I invite the Government to accept this suggestion that the power to meet the burden of the Budget will only be realised through the resources of the country being developed in order to meet the weight of that burden, and that end will not be achieved by the Government if through its action the system of the training of the rising generation is starved. 147 If we are to develop the resources of the country, and the capacity of the population to bear the financial strain, we must take the ratepayer along with us in educational development. It has been said—I think by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland—that it is immaterial whether the cost of taxation is met by rates or by taxes. That is not so. Local taxation is far heavier than Imperial taxation upon the best citizen with the least means. The rates upon housing are becoming oppressive. In my own burgh the rates are already over 2s. in the £, and, under these various schemes, will be something like 2s. 6d. That is a most oppressive taxation upon the very best section of the working classes of the country, and the result will be that when the weight of this taxation is felt, out will go the progressive board, and in will come the board pledged to a policy of starving the educational system. There are signs of that already. What you are drawing from the Scottish Education Fund to meet the superannuation scheme will be abstracted from the requirements of the children in the schools, unless the Government makes an adequate contribution towards the cost of that scheme. You will have no policy of smaller classes; you will have no educational provision adequate to meet the requirements of the youth of the country between the ages of fourteen and seventeen, who are losing their opportunities in our great towns, in that most impressionable age, which can be turned to the best advantage. You will have school boards returned who, finding themselves obliged to draw money from the over-taxed, overrated ratepayer for educational purposes, will starve all the optional subjects under the code. I cannot imagine a policy more disastrous to the prosperity of the country than to starve the educational system of the land.
Under the present system the cost of education is borne, roughly, half-and-half by the State and by the local authority. What I desire to impress upon the House is, that unless something like that proposition is maintained, there will assuredly be deterioration in education. I speak as one knowing the rating authorities and the mind of the ratepayer well. Whether as Provost, or as chairman of a parish council, or as a member of a county technical committee, I have every opportunity of knowing what public opinion is upon 148 this matter, and I am very far wrong if we are not upon the eve of a reaction on the part of these educational authorities, because of what I will endeavour to show now is the false policy of the Treasury in respect to giving adequate Grants-in-Aid towards education in Scotland. The half-and-half policy is what we claim. The Treasury counter claim against us is based on the fixed ratio of 1,100, namely, that Scotland should only get a certain proportion of what is granted to England. That was Lord St. Aldwyn's hobby. Another of his hobbies was always to keep the other communities of the Celtic fringe in line with English requirements. I have never accepted, and I never will accept, that theory of ratio between expenditure in Scotland and in England. It is unfair, it is unequal, and it is lopsided. I will give one example of it. If it were applied all round, how much more would be spent in Scotland upon the Imperial establishments for defence? The whole of these establishments until quite recently have been concentrated in England. The expenditure upon the Army has been concentrated upon England and upon Ireland. I believe my right hon. Friend is building a new set of barracks in Scotland, but beyond that I am not aware of any great expenditure, and there is now the expenditure on Rosyth, but up to now the whole expenditure on Imperial establishment and on the Army has been mainly in England, but also to a certain extent in Ireland. It has not been in Scotland at all, and if this fixed ratio is to be observed let us have it all round. Let Scotland have the advantage of a fair proportion in a direction in which she gets nothing. To restrict Scotch education to the English level would be a grievous injustice to Scotland. At the time of the Union the interests of our universities were protected, and the Grants given to the universities were expanded, and expanded quite irrespective of this ratio between expenditure and education between England and Scotland. The fate of education cannot continue to depend upon this arrangement of Lord St. Aldwyn's or on the consumption of whisky in Scotland. As on existing expenditure on education the proportion is about half and half between the State and the local authority, so must that proportion be maintained as regards new expenditure. Scotland will not stand either the methods or the finance of the Scottish Education Department, and I confidently put this case forward in the hope that Scotland will be treated in exactly the same way as regards 149 these new projects of educational expenditure and the intervention of the Scottish Education Department as she has been in respect to past educational expenditure which has had the approval and support of this House.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
It is no part of my duty to settle differences between the right hon. Gentleman and the Front Bench opposite. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman reminds me of the verdict of my own countrymen on a certain dish, which is called sheep's-head, that there is a great amount of confused feeding. I tried to the best of my power to follow his argument, but met with very great difficulty. He began by recounting to us the evils of the Scottish Education Department, how it launched its projects upon the country without any responsibility and the burdens that it placed upon the ratepayers. When he went a little further he said, "It is no part of my work to question the policy of the Scotch Education Department or to dwell upon the evils of the burdens of the ratepayers."
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
I said I sympathised with the policy of the Department, and I pointed out that its methods of finance were disastrous to education.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I cannot for the life of me see how the right hon. Gentleman's repetition of his own words differs from my account of them. Finally, at the end of his speech, he returned to these burdens of the ratepayers, which he said it was not his wish to dwell on in the middle of his speech. I will only refer to one point. He accused Lord St. Aldwyn and the party on this side of having invented a strange proportion of eleven-hundredths to represent the claim of Scotland in regard to education. There never was a greater fiction. I was at the very bottom of the whole of these arrangements. What was done was in regard to the allocation of certain local taxation Grants? The financial estimate was that the share of Scotland should be eleven-hundredths of the whole. It had nothing to do with the general question of education, which was based, not between one portion of the Kingdom and another, but upon the requirements of the different countries, and the amount earned by the different countries under the Code and according to the conditions prescribed.
I wish to draw attention to the accusation the right hon. Gentleman made against the Scottish Education Depart- 150 ment. It was all very well for the right hon. Gentleman and the Members who sit on the benches behind the Government to attack the Government. That is perfectly within their right. I looked on with equanimity. I only wish they would exercise that same boldness in the Division Lobby, and that their minds were equally strong there, but if I were to divide the House they would very soon separate from me. I am not going to interfere in these domestic squabbles, but I would point out that it is not according to constitutional practice that the right hon. Gentleman should attack the permanent members of the State and place the responsibility on them. It is cowardly, to begin with, and it is unconstitutional in addition. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Scottish Education Department can launch projects unchecked upon the country, and he proceeded to give an instance of launching its projects when he stated that it had burdened the country with a new Superannuation Grant for teachers in Scotland. Let us look at the facts, which in these rhetorical phrases the right hon. Gentleman claims to represent with accuracy. Did the Scottish Education Department launch the superannuation scheme? The Act of 1908 was passed by this House after due warning as to the burden it would impost. I myself, again and again, in Committee reminded the Government of the difficulties, financial and otherwise, which might be caused by the provisions of that Bill. These were not attended to. Nothing could be wrong that was spent on education, and the Government, supported by the Scottish Liberal Members, passed the provisions for that scheme. The Scottish Education Department was ordered by Parliament to draw up the scheme. After four years the scheme has been deliberately drawn up and laid before the country. Is that scheme launched upon the country by the Scottish Education Department? The Department carried out the orders of Parliament, and the responsibility did not rest with it, and for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite after they have induced Parliament to pass the Act to try to save the pockets of their Constituents by deceiving and disappointing the teachers is one of the most ignoble pleas I have ever heard in Parliament. The proposals of Parliament may have been rash; I do not think they were. I think that they were a mere act of tardy justice rendered to the 151 teachers of Scotland. But if they impose a burden on the ratepayers of Scotland let us see how it arises. You took the proceeds of certain local taxes in aid of education. As far as lay within my province at the time I protested in 1898 and in subsequent years against this as being dangerous and certain to cripple education. It was pressed upon us with the assent of the Scotch Members. For many years these taxes yielded a much greater return than you had any right to expect, and we annually laid by a profit out of these taxes. These taxes, possibly by your own legislation, are not now so remunerative as they were then. But is it fair now to say, "As long as the bargain was a good one we accepted its benefits, but now that it has become a bad one we claim to be relieved of it and to have a fixed payment made?" I shall press as hard as I can upon the Treasury for additional help for education, but that must be upon a large and general basis. I think that education is far more of an Imperial burden than it has hitherto been reckoned, and ought to be removed to a large extent from the local rates. But you cannot expect to be left entirely free in the localities to stretch expenditure as you please, and then appeal to the Exchequer to meet it as if money that came from the Exchequer were manna that dropped down from heaven and was paid by nobody. After all the taxpayer does require a certain amount of consideration, and the problem is very difficult of solution how to leave the locality perfectly free in regard to expenditure on educational administration if any increases whatever are to be met by the Imperial Exchequer. If you want more Imperial taxation you must inevitably curtail local initiative.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
My point was in reference to the educational policy and the cost as between Imperial and local taxation, that these new projects of the Department were to be carried out practically entirely at the cost of the ratepayers without any help from the Imperial Parliament. Could the hon. Member give us the great benefit of his knowledge upon that point?
§ Sir H. CRAIK
The desire that about half and half should be the share is perfectly natural, but if you increase expenditure indefinitely, not only the half that you pay is to be decided by yourselves, but also the half paid by the Exchequer 152 which is to have no voice in the matter. I do think that the Government, when in the Act of 1908 they entered on projects of expense, should have provided by taxation, particularly for the medical inspection. I urged at that time that the medical inspection, to begin with, should be an entirely Imperial burden, because it was not decided, according to local views, but by natural causes, and the relief was for the nation as a whole, and therefore properly dealt with as an Imperial charge. I am glad to help any hon. Member to the utmost of my power to bring pressure to bear upon the Treasury to increase the Imperial subsidy. I am ready to join with them in saying that certain parts of the educational expenditure ought to be entirely Imperial, and not local at all; but I am not prepared to join in a captious attack upon the Department, because they happen, in the discharge of the duties laid upon them by legislative Acts, to have issued decrees that necessarily involve expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman and those with him who take that line of argument are not helping their cause. They are likely to cause injustice to a most deserving body, the teachers of this country, and they are not helping to attain the end they wish, namely, a proper and substantial subsidy for local burdens while maintaining a high standard of education.
§ Sir WALTER MENZIES
I support the view of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leith Burghs. This superannuation scheme is one of a group of schemes, each of which increases the burdens upon the ratepayers. The system of legislation by Minutes issued by the Education Department, for which we do not hold the head of that Department responsible, as the hon. Member supposes, but for which we hold the Secretary for Scotland responsible, has really an important bearing on the matter under discussion. We have had schemes of all kinds thrust upon the country without any notice, each one of them costing more than the other. Take, for example, the Minute insisting on smaller classes. What are the facts? I suppose that each new school which has been built lately has been forced upon the school board, or has certainly been built at the instigation of the Education Department. They are palatial buildings, and we find, particularly in the smaller mining towns of Lanarkshire, that they are an outstanding feature of the district. The class-rooms have been built to accommodate sixty pupils in each room. 153 It is true that this Minute has been suspended, and may be again suspended, but it is held above the heads of the School Boards like the sword of Damocles. The plaster on the walls has hardly become dry, the concrete pavement has hardly stiffened before an Order comes from the Department that the class-rooms are to be for only forty pupils. These schools are gradually paying on the system of thirty years' principal and interest, but as soon as two or three payments have been made the School Board are told to remedy these new buildings, that they are old-fashioned and out of date, and that the classrooms must be made only for forty. Each one of those schools has been costing the ratepayers a good deal of money, but that is not all. There are continuation classes and supplementary schools forced upon small School Boards. In this matter I do not see eye-to-eye with the right hon. Member for Leith Burghs, because I doubt the wisdom of a number of those continuation classes. Many of them are quite absurd. I hear of housewifery classes. What does that mean? A room is arranged in imitation of a workman's house. The room is dirty and the bedclothes are all rumpled. A girl is brought in and asked to brush up the room and arrange the bed. Then it is all disordered again, and another girl brought in. Dust is again thrown about, and another girl is brought in. I think nothing more absurd has ever been heard in the history of education either in Scotland or any other country, and that is what the taxpayers of Scotland are asked to pay for. All kinds of evening classes are thrust upon unwilling School Boards. They insist upon teaching fretwork to people who will be ploughmen or going down a mine, and they insist on teaching girls in evening schools—working men's daughters—to make omelettes and puddings. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I am quite willing these classes should continue if they can get those pupils, boys or girls, to pay one penny per week for them.
§ Sir W. MENZIES
No; but I only say the pupils will not pay the one-hundredth part of the cost. As an old chairman of a school board, and a present member, I say the county committees insist upon thrusting money on the small boards to start evening classes, to do fret-work, carving in wood, and to teach men who will be ploughmen or going down a mine, 154 and all for nothing. If they had to pay one single penny they would not go to the classes. I quite agree with the right hon. Member for Leith Burghs, that if we are to have these Minutes thrust upon us by the Education Department in Scotland, then I do think that we are wise to insist that the Treasury shall be consulted and pay half of the cost and the ratepayers of Scotland the other half. It is a humiliating position for Scottish Members of Parliament to have to go to the Secretary of State to get these Minutes stopped, and if we cannot get that done in any other way this suggestion that the Treasury should be responsible for half is, in my opinion, a very good suggestion, and I heartily support it.
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ Captain GILMOUR
Every Scottish Member will agree as to the necessity of pressing the Government to be a little more generous in the settlement of this scheme. I am perfectly willing to recognise the necessity for the locality to have a direct responsibility in the expenditure upon education; but I feel that in this scheme, as indeed in many other schemes which emanates from Parliament, Parliament in its wisdom or otherwise is imposing upon the country schemes which, if they are to be carried out properly, necessitate a great increase in the expenditure. Those who take an interest in the matter realise that the heaviness of these burdens will have a direct effect in the not distant future upon the desire of local authorities to do the best for those for whom they have to work. I am distinctly disappointed at the amount of money allocated for this particular scheme. No one on either side would feel himself justified in withstanding the carrying out of this superannuation scheme as far as the teachers are concerned; but a large section of the school boards and general ratepayers of Scotland hold that in this matter a larger proportion should be recognised as an Imperial charge.
Apart from the superannuation scheme, reference has been made to the size of classes. I believe a reduction in the size of classes is eminently desirable, but, on the other hand, unless the Department and the officials charged with the carrying out of this particular scheme go with great care and circumspection, they will inflict on many districts burdens almost impossible to be borne. Difficulties will in-doubtedly increase in the immediate future in regard to the medical inspection 155 of school children. Already one medical inspector says that the great difficulty with which those who are carrying out the Act are faced is the desirability, however close the inspection may be, of going still further, and the necessity of applying some of those remedies, which are absolutely essential if the inspection is to be of any good, must fall upon either the State or the locality. I believe that it is just and right that the State should bear a larger proportion than is proposed under this scheme, and I would join with any hon. Members in urging upon the Government that they should reconsider the allocation in order that the provision may be more equitable between the State and the locality.
Mr. MURRAY MACDONALD
I also desire to support my right hon. Friend in the proposal that he has made to-night, that the Government should at least bear part of the total cost of the new schemes which have recently been promulgated in Scotland. The hon. Gentleman who represents the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen joined my right hon. Friend also in supporting the view that the Treasury should bear a very much larger proportion of the burden of education in Scotland than it does at present. I think he misunderstood the remarks of my right hon. Friend when he charged him with accusing the present permanent chief of the Education Department of springing these schemes upon the ratepayers of Scotland without any notice or any consultation with the authorities or the ratepayers. There is no Scotsman interested in the education of his countrymen who does not approve of these schemes. There is no Scotsman who does not want to see every one of these schemes brought into full working operation. That is not our point.
During recent years the burden on the local ratepayers for educational purposes has been growing at an enormously rapid rate. I do not thing it is an exaggeration to say that throughout the length and breadth of Scotland there is an uprising against that burden. What we feel is that the educational interests of our country are going to suffer solely because of those constantly added burdens on the ratepayers. My right hon. Friend quoted the case of Kirkcaldy. He said that the education rate there was a little over 2s., and that probably it would go to 2s. 6d. I quote the case of the chief borough in my 156 Constituency. In 1909 the education rate was 1s. 10d.; in 1910 it was 2s. 2d. Last year it was 2s. 6d. It has increased, too, when the yield of a penny has also increased! In the case of Falkirk the burden presses on a very large body of men who are really not able to bear it. If we do not provide a remedy for it the educational interests of Scotland will suffer, and what has been in the past the greatest asset of our country is unquestionably going to be diminished in value. I urge the Secretary for Scotland; I hope to have the opportunity of urging upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer the real need that there is in the interests of education in Scotland for a large grant towards the educational needs of the country. I hope the Government will favourably consider this.
§ Mr. PIRIE
I am not going over the points already made by my colleagues on both sides of the House who have urged greater generosity on the part of the Treasury towards Scottish education. I merely point out there is a special duty upon the Treasury in this case. The present situation in Scottish education is largely due to actuarial bungling which took place when the 1908 Act was before us in Committee. It is hard that we Scottish Members should have to suffer for the sins of our predecessors at the Treasury, or at the Scottish Office. I am not here to attack any Civil Servant in ordinary circumstances, but at the present moment we have very exceptional circumstances. What has been the actual state of affairs has been laid down by the Government through the Lord Advocate. The Lord Advocate speaking in October last year, gave the whole case away at once. He was speaking as the representative of the Scottish Office, "Why," he said, "my friends the Scottish Educational Department, as we all know, is Sir John Struthers." The Permanent Secretary therefore represents My Lords and the Board, and that Board exists in the imagination of the public but has no real personality except in the person of the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Education Department.
I rise here to protest against the throttling tyranny of the Scottish Education Department. Scotland is ruled autocratically by that Board. Circulars and minutes are issued, withdrawn, and re-issued, and the teachers and the school boards do not know where they are. It is time we should make some 157 protest, and I am glad of this opportunity of protesting most emphatically against the existing state of affairs. There is a very grave issue at stake as a result of all this. What we pride ourselves upon is the excellence of our rural schools, but education is being gradually undermined by over-Secularisation. The state of the rural schools is exciting the greatest anxiety in the minds of the greatest Scottish educational authorities. These men are not to be found in this House, but are to be found in Scotland where they are devoted to their work, and their protests are to be found in the Scottish papers. We have seen repeated warnings to the public of the growing and increasing dangers from the able pens of Principal Gyles, Sir William Ramsay, Sir William Pollock, and Professor Ramsay, all protesting against the decay of what made Scotland a great nation in the past, namely, the rural schools. That is a fact to which this House is absolutely blind, of which it knows nothing, and of which English Members care less. The only chance of learning these things is by following what appears in the Scottish papers and drawing attention to those things. To deal with these grave matters one thing is absolutely necessary at the present moment, and that is that the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Scotland, should appoint a commission of inquiry into the whole question of Scottish education and the great changes brought about in latter years since the Education Act of 1908. I can assure hon. Members opposite who have the interests of Scottish education at heart, and we are all interested upon this point that such a commission is necessary. The hon. Member for Aberdeen University (Sir Henry Craik) shakes his head, but I remember his statement that "if they wanted to remove the Education Department from Edinburgh it would only be removed over his body." I do not forget these things which are anti-democratic. For many years Scottish education has proceeded on democratic lines, but now Parliament seems to be entirely out of touch with the progressive tendency of the Scottish nation. As a direct result of over-centralisation there is one disquieting feature, and that is the amount of travelling which students who go in for the higher education have to do owing to the scarcity of teaching centres in Scotland.
Complaints are constantly made that boys and girls of thirteen and fourteen 158 years of age have to travel many miles daily in order to get instruction. The moral effect of this constant railway travelling day after day on these boys and girls is indescribable, and protests against it are being made on all sides by those who wish to see this evil dealt with. With the exception of occasions of this kind the only opportunity given to us is by question and answer in this House, and I wish in this respect to enter a protest against the evasive answers which have been given by the Scottish Education Department, who seem to consider it their duty to answer our questions on the lines that the more dust they throw into the eyes of the public and the less information they give, the better. Questions are put in this House not only for the information of Members but to inform the public of the state of affairs existing, and this is about the only way which the Scottish Members have of calling attention to their grievances. When the first step of appointing a commission of inquiry has been taken the next step should be an effort to bring the Scottish Department into closer touch with the feelings of the Scottish people by transferring the headquarters from Dover House to Edinburgh. With the help of my colleagues I intend to make a great effort to induce the Secretary for Scotland to take up this important question.
§ Mr. MORTON
I wish to support the appeal which has been made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leith Burghs (Mr. Munro-Ferguson), to the Education Department to bear a fair share of carrying out the reforms which have been referred to. As far as I understand the question at the present moment there are no school boards asking that the teachers' superannuation scheme should be defeated. All they ask is that the scheme should be delayed until the money is found to carry it out. As far as I know the Government are willing to give us £25,000, and in round numbers we want £40,000 more than that, and then the Government will only be finding just about half the cost of these undertakings. That is not asking too much. I do not think for a moment we can get all we want under the present condition of things. Until we get Scotch Home Rule we shall not get these things put right. In the meantime, we do not want to lose the points in education Scotland has enjoyed for so long.
I hope we shall get a promise to-night of at least what we want, because it is not too much, in my opinion, to ask the 159 Treasury and Parliament to find half of the cost of these new undertakings. I hope, if we do not get it to-night, we shall go on agitating both on further stages of this Bill and on other occasions until the Government do what is right and proper towards the people of Scotland. We agreed to the Act of 1908 providing for a scheme to be laid down before Parliament for the superannuation of teachers, and we do not want to run away from that at all, but we want to treat the ratepayers and taxpayers in a proper manner, and to find the money to carry out that scheme which we believe will be eventually for the benefit of the people. I quite agree that the Scotch Education Department should be taken from Whitehall to Edinburgh. It is a Scotch department, and ought to be conducted for the benefit of the people of Scotland. In the meantime, all we want to do on this occasion is to deal with this money part of the question, and get what we can in the best interests of the people of Scotland.
The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. McKinnon Wood)
The burden of the speeches of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who have taken part in this debate have been concerned with finance, and really they would be more appropriately directed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer than to the Secretary for Scotland. I regret my right hon. Friend is not present to hear these demands which, of course, I, as Secretary for Scotland, have no reason to object to, but as the House is aware he is engaged on very pressing and important public business elsewhere. My right hon. Friend, the Member for Leith (Mr. Munro-Ferguson), who opened the debate, in raising the terrible question of educational finance in Scotland, found no fault with the efforts which had been made to improve the quality of education in Scotland, including the proposal which is not questioned for reducing the size of classes, and that was the opinion of most of the speakers. Their complaint was that a sufficient amount of money was not found by the Treasury to assist the progress of education. They all used the same figure. They said they thought the Treasury ought to provide half of the cost of the new services. As a matter of fact, I had the figures got out of the proportion which the Treasury does provide of the cost of education in Scotland, and I find three years ago it was 50.8 per cent., and the 160 last two years 52 per cent. So that the amount provided by the Treasury is decidedly larger than the amount provided by the rates. There are some other sources of income. Really the matter which has forced this question specially on the attention of the Scottish Members is the Superannuation Scheme which was inserted in the Act of 1908. I should like to remind my hon Friends of the fact that that was no part of the original scheme of the Bill, but it was pressed on the Government first by the teachers and afterwards by a number of school boards in Scotland. We often hear matters discussed as if that Act of 1908 put new duties on the school boards and provided no new money for them. During the whole of this debate not a single Member has referred to the fact that the Act of 1908 brought with it a new grant from the Treasury. That is a very important matter in considering the general question as well as in connection with the particular question of the cost of the superannuation of the teachers. There was a general aid grant of 3s. to scholars, and the £105,000 has since grown to £120,000.
When considering this pension scheme it is right to bear in mind that it is not a scheme which will continue to be a growing burden on the rates. It is a scheme the burden of which as far at the ratepayers are concerned will tend to diminish £46,000 of the new burden is money for existing pensions and must be reduced year by year until it finally disappears, while the growth of expenditure on new pensions will be largely, if not entirely, met by the growth of the Exchequer contribution, which is increasing for all practical purposes at the rate of about 9 per cent. Therefore, this burden of superannuation of which we have heard so much is a decreasing and not an increasing burden so far as the ratepayers are concerned, I think, on the whole there has not been a very serious attack upon the rules and suggestions that have come from the Education Department. Some hon. Members seem to think that the Superannuation Scheme originated with the Department. But it is not fair to make the Department responsible for it. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leith Burghs seemed to think the £25,000 received this year was not an equivalent grant. I do not know upon what he based that opinion, but I can assure him, having been at the Treasury at the time the grant was made, that it is strictly equivalent.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
I asked the President of the Board of Education in this House what the scheme was, and what it cost, and I gathered from his answer that it did not exist.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
Scotland got £25,000 this year, and England got no equivalent! That is nothing for the Scottish Members to grumble about. But it is equivalent because a certain amount of money was set aside by the Treasury and of that Scotland's proportion was £25,000, which was handed over. England will receive her equivalent grant in due course, but Scotland had the advantage first, merely because of the accident that there is a fund to which the money can be paid. But I do not think it rests with us to make any complaint of that fact. I will merely repeat, if the idea of Scotch Members is that half the amount should be borne by the Treasury, that is the existing state of affairs. But it is certainly no business of mine to deprecate urgent appeals to the Treasury for the improvement of Scotch education. I quite admit that the cost of education is increasing in Scotland with higher ideas of cultivation, and that it is a burden which presses upon some localities very heavily. If we are getting a small grant from the Treasury to meet the cost of medical treatment, the whole qestion is one that can only be adequately dealt with when the great question of the relation of local and Imperial taxation comes to be settled, and large questions, involving, perhaps, the basis of rating are really seriously considered by Parliament.
§ Mr. MORRELL
I should like to say why it is, if my hon. Friend (Mr. Wedgwood) goes to a division, as a protest against the prosecutions that have been instituted by the Attorney-General recently, I shall feel bound to support him, in spite of what the Attorney - General has told us. The Attorney-General has said that in instituting these proceedings the Government has intended no attack upon the Syndicalist opinions against whom these proceedings are pending. I am perfectly certain that that is so. We have not only to consider what was the intention of the Government, but what effect proceedings of this sort are likely to have upon the public mind, and everyone who hears or reads of them. They are taken at a time of great unrest and great excitement. The prosecuting counsel himself referred to the coal strike. He referred to Syndicalist opinions. He said he was engaged in 162 prosecuting them for this particular "Open Letter." The Recorder used language which the Government themselves cannot defend. All that is likely to have a most mischievous effect upon the public mind, and is likely to do great damage to the very course of order which the Attorney-General thinks he is serving.
I can hardly imagine a more futile way of proceeding against these doctrines than to prosecute them in the way the Attorney-General has done. I most certainly have no sympathy whatever with Syndicalists views. I regard them as mischievous, and foolish. But if I were a Syndicalist I should ask for no better ally than the Attorney-General in advertising and propagating my opinions. The Attorney-General has never told us where or how he is going to stop. He described the way in which he was led on from one prosecution to another. He started with a poor man distributing tracts at Aldershot. He put the whole machinery of the law in force against him. Then there were the two poor printers who printed them. Then he found he had to prosecute Mr. Tom Mann. What about the "Labour Leader"? Is he prepared also to prosecute the editor of the "Labour Leader," and the chairman of the Labour party, or whoever is responsible for the "Labour Leader," for precisely the same doctrines as were printed in the "Syndicalist." If we once start this it is very difficult to stop. I hope my right hon. Friend will be wise enough to stop. If he does stop instituting these prosecutions now, he will be admitting the justice of the complaint that we bring against him for the prosecutions he has already undertaken. I believe this is altogether a perversion of the criminal law. The object of the criminal law is to protect individuals against real offences and punish those who commit real offences. What offences have these men committed and against whom? Against the soldiers? The soldiers were already warned by their commanding officers that they would be foolish to take advice of that sort. Is the discipline of the Army so bad that it is necessary to keep our soldiers in ignorance in order to make them obey their commanding officers? Are we really to believe that Society is in such a rotten condition that you have to prosecute men who hold opinions of this sort? I do not think the Government ever made a greater blunder than in starting prosecutions of this sort, and I shall certainly support my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. HAMERSLEY
I ask the indulgence of the House to make a personal explanation. I have been brought into this controversy and remarks have been insinuated about me by an hon. Member for Glasgow earlier in the day and later on by the mover of the Amendment. The insinuation is absolutely incorrect. What I said was that not yielding to anyone in my loyalty to my country if at any time coercion should be used, which God forbid, to force loyalists in Ireland to come under a National Parliament in Dublin under the provisions of a Home Rule Act which had never been submitted to or received the consent of the majority of the voters of England, neither my sons nor myself would take any part in such coercion, and in this I believe I should be supported by a large majority of my fellow subjects. That is all I said, and it is impossible to construe it into inciting soldiers to disobey the orders of their officers. I and my sons have been connected with the Army, and I thought it right to make this explanation.
§ Mr. KING
I think it desirable that one more voice should be raised amongst the many which might be raised and many which certainly are being raised outside this House, to express very seriously, but very strongly, the dissatisfaction which undoubtedly exists over these trials. We have listened with a good deal of sympathy to the explanation of the Attorney-General. It was put forward from a strictly legal and technical point of view, and it was a very strong one. Of course, it is totally impossible to divorce this question from the larger social and political questions which are raised by these prosecutions. It is quite impossible to look at these prosecutions merely from the legal point of view of the Public Prosecutor. They affect thousands of people throughout this land from a larger point of view, namely, whether the people of England, especially at this time of social upheaval and political development, are to have their full constitutional rights which thousands and thousands widely feel. I wish respectfully and strongly to urge upon the Government that there ought to be no more prosecutions of this kind, and that this policy is bad for them and bad for the sense of justice which we all desire to have. It is bad for them if they want to settle the grave economic and labour difficulties which are so prominent at the present time. I am going to 164 suggest to the right hon. Gentlemen who are sitting there in such numbers on the Treasury Bench that there is a very good precedent for this question which they might do well to study. I refer to the feeling on the matter which has been raised and widely expressed throughout Germany at the present time. We all, I suppose, admire and in many ways cannot help wondering at the marvellous energy and courage of the German Emperor. He has done a great many fine and noble things, but he certainly, like all clever and courageous men, has made one or two howling mistakes.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I would remind the hon. Gentleman that that is not the form of expression generally applied to the ruler of a friendly State.
§ Mr. KING
I withdraw at once, and I assure you and the House that I wish to express no disrespect for that eminent ruler. But as this is a serious and important matter I must attempt to finish the speech which I look upon it as my duty to make. On one very famous occasion a very eminent man in Germany declared that if he gave the command to his soldiers to shoot down their fathers and their brothers it was their duty to obey. These words once uttered have never been forgotten. They have been repeated year after year on platforms throughout that land. I heard myself only two months, ago that speech referred to again and again in social-democratic meetings, and I make no doubt whatever that I am correct when I say that the social-democratic vote in Germany which swelled by 1,000,000 at the last election over the numbers that were recorded for that party at the previous election, was in no small measure due to that saying which, though it might be courageous, might have been true, and might have seemed imperatively necessary to him who used these words, were certainly a political mistake, and were regarded by the great mass of the German people as showing that the Army of their country was not to maintain the dignity and integrity of their empire, but to repress their loyal and just aspirations for a better state of society. I feel it my duty, and I do so with serious earnestness of purpose, to point out to the Government that if these prosecutions are carried further they may find that they are viewed by many thousands, in fact many tens of thousands of our countrymen in a totally 165 different light from that in which they are viewed by the Public Prosecutor, and that the spirit which may be laughed at here is a spirit that is very widely and very deeply felt throughout the country.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 176; Noes, 27.165
|Division No. 54.]||AYES.||[11.50 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Firench, Peter||Neville,, Reginald J. N.|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Nolan, Joseph|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Gibbs, G. A.||Nuttall, Harry|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Gilmour, Captain John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Gladstone, W. G. C.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Aitken, Sir William Max||Glanville, Harold James||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles Peter (Stroud)||Goldman, Charles Sidney||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||O'Dowd, John|
|Armitage, Robert||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Baird, J. L.||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||O'Malley, William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Hackett, John||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||O'Shee, James John|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Haslam, Lewis (Monmoutn)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Pirie, Duncan Vernon|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Henry, Sir Charles||Primrose, Hon. Neil James|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mt, St. George)||Higham, John Sharp||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Hinds, John||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Holt, Richard Durning||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Butcher, John George||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Joyce, Michael||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Cassel, Felix||Keating, Matthew||Sheehy, David|
|Cawley, Harold, T. (Heywood)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, s.Molton)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Clough, William||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Clyde, James Avon||Levy, Sir Maurice||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Lewis, John Herbert||Tennant, Harold John|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Trevelyan, Charles philips|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Mackinder, Halford J.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Crumley, Patrick||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Macpherson, James Ian||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs, Louth)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Webb, H.|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Masterman, C. F. G.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Meagher, Michael||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leltrim, N.)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Menzies, Sir Walter||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Dillon, John||Middlebrook, William||Winfrey, Richard|
|Dixon Charles Harvey (Boston)||Molloy, Michael||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Doris, W.||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Duffy, William J.||Morgan, George Hay||Younger, Sir George|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Munro, Robert||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Murray. Captain Hon. Arthur C.|
|Adamson, William||King, Joseph||Sutton, John E.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Morrell, Philip||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Hardie, J. Keir||O'Grady, James||Watt, Henry A.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wilkle, Alexander|
|Hodge, John||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Hudson, Walter||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Snowden, Philip||Wedgwood and Mr. Lansbury.|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time and committed.