HC Deb 04 August 1913 vol 56 cc1050-112

Resolution reported,

"That a sum, not exceeding £12,251,680, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1914, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class IV. of the Estimates for Civil Services."

[For Services included in this Class, see OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st July, 1913, col. 878.]


The subject of education is one which I think we ought to review on an occasion like this. Personally, I think it would be a wise thing if sometimes, when discussing these Estimates, the Secretary for Scotland were to take advantage of the occasion to review, as some of his colleagues have done, the work of his Office as Secretary for Scotland concerning all those Votes. The reason I suggest that is this, that, as a matter of fact, so few opportunities occur from time to time for discussing the Estimates dealing with Scottish affairs that the public in Scotland do not have the opportunity that they otherwise might have of having the conspectus of the whole situation placed in front of them. Therefore, I think, a very good purpose would be served if my right hon. Friend would take that opportunity, say, on the occasion of the Estimates next year, to review those Departments in order that we get to know what had been overlooked and what was the position with regard to a great many of those various Departments. On the subject of Scottish education I think there is one fact that impresses one more than any other with regard to that as applied to Scotland, and that is that the great alteration and change that has occurred in the methods and administration of Scottish education inside the last ten years, and those changes in administration have really taken place without any opportunity having been afforded in this House of discussing those particular changes. Might I refer, for example, to the fact that within the last ten years the whole system of the training of teachers has been altered from a system of pupil teacherships to that which obtains now? The training of teachers in the old training colleges has been altered and arrangement has been made between the colleges and the universities for the present and future training of teachers. The old system of examination has been done away with, and the new system of inspection has been introduced. Great strides are being made in secondary education, more particularly lately in centralising that education in various districts, at the expense, as a great many people think, of higher education in our rural areas. There are a great number of points of that kind, which will occur to every Scottish Member at any rate, on which there may be different opinions as to their value or otherwise, but upon which there can be only one opinion so far as administration is concerned, and that is the conclusion that those changes have been brought about without proper review here in the House of Commons. It would be very interesting, for example, to have a Return of the changes that have been accomplished in Scottish education by Minutes of the Education Department, which are laid upon the Table of this House. I am perfectly certain, if an examination of that kind were made, it would be found that very important alterations in the system of education in Scotland had been brought about in that mysterious and silent and unobserved way, by which changes can be wrought by Minutes lying on the Table of the House.

The idea suggests itself to me that educational matters in Scotland are so much in flux that I am not sure the opportunity has not now come for some very special and very general review of the whole situation. I am not sure that it would not be worth while for my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland to consider whether the moment had not arisen when a Commission might very profitably investigate the whole field of education in Scotland. I know that various criticisms have been offered from different sources, in particular with regard to higher education in rural areas. It may be true that some of those criticisms have to be somewhat discounted when you consider the influences which may suggest them, but whether that be so or not, the fact remains that there is very considerable unrest in Scotland with regard to the subject of higher education in rural areas, and it would be worth while, seeing that does exist and in view of the speedy advent of Scotsmen having control of their own affairs in Scotland, to use the intervening time in arriving at some conclusion as to what the future of education in Scotland may be. Dealing more particularly with the question of higher education in rural areas, I have here the results of an investigation made by responsible people in Scotland into the opinions held by active teachers as to the effect of the recent changes upon their schools. I propose to read two or three of those opinions. Obviously, for reasons which will be understood, I cannot give the names or localities, but every one of these opinions is that of a man of large and varied experience in actual teaching in Scotland. One headmaster says:— My school is situated about six miles by rail from the nearest higher grade centre. I believe that but for the cost of travelling facilities more of my pupils would proceed to advanced work. Parents have repeatedly told me that they would much prefer that their children should remain with me than risk travelling to the town, yet in present circumstances I have to advise them to remove their children to a town school at the age of twelve. If they remain longer with me they are bound, owing to my circumstances, to fall behind others of the same age who have moved to a town school. Very little additional provision would enable the education of these scholars to be carried on until they were of an age which would render railway travelling less dangerous. I will revert to the subject of railway travelling afterwards, because that is a special point. Another headmaster says: Young children have to lodge away from home without proper supervision. Another says:— Scholars have to leave home at twelve years of age. Another says: — Scholars are drafted off early to a central school, and then there is less of emulation and sympathy with members of equal opportunity to those remaining at home. Lastly:— For the last two years I have had four pupils all qualified for a course in an advanced class, but the nearest suitable school is eleven miles off, and there is no railway connection. The 'bus fare would be 2s. 6d. per day, and the distance is too far to cycle. These children arc, therefore, practically prohibited from attending, all the parents being working people. I am aware that my right hon. Friend has heard that kind of criticism before, although naturally he has not heard these particular quotations. Similar criticisms have been made from all parts of the country, and answers have been submitted by my right hon. Friend. I am the last to say that there is not a considerable amount of common sense in those replies, because, obviously, the distances, conditions, and circumstances are such that it would pass the wit of man to overcome all of them. But there still remains a large section of opinion of which I urge my right hon. Friend to take cognisance, and, if he can, meet. Under the old educational system a pupil could receive in the school in his own village instruction enabling him to go straight from that school to the university. The fear has arisen, and it is borne out by statistics, that in our universities to-day there is a declining number of pupils from the rural areas. The reply to that will be that there are more coming from the centralized schools, and that the centralised schools are gathering into their net, which is spread very wide, the very pupils who would otherwise have come from the villages. But when that contention is investigated by those interested in Scottish villages, it is found that as a matter of fact the type of pupil covered previously is not by any means covered by the system of centralised schools.

Apart altogether from the opportunities for higher education afforded by the centralised schools, the danger to the physique and morals of pupils coming these distances is very real. Take, first of all, the question of physique. One could quote instances of young boys and girls having to rise early and cycle to the railway station to catch a train to the centralised school; they frequently arrive at their destination before the school is opened; they have to attend the school the whole day, return in the evening by train, and cycle home from the station. That process is repeated five days a week just at the very time of life when physical influences have the greatest effect. I am perfectly certain that when boys and girls are approaching the age of puberty, as these children are in most cases, it is very unwise from the physical point of view to place these great burdens upon them in getting to and from the places where they are being educated. As to the effect upon their morals I am not able to speak from personal knowledge, but I have been made aware of what is going on by the very serious reports that are issued from time to time by members of the two Churches in Scotland with regard to what are known as the school trains. I will not say more than that it is exercising the minds of all those who have the control and care of the younger people in Scotland that they should be laid open to the kind of thing which is possible in these particular trains. It would not be fair for me to enlarge upon arguments which are probably familiar to everybody interested in this particular problem. But my right hon. Friend will be aware that it has been suggested, some think wisely, that difficulties of that kind can be obviated by perfecting a system whereby the rural schools would continue to be able to communicate to the child what is known as secondary education. There are various reasons why that would be a good thing, educationally and socially, for the people of Scotland. One thing that is alarming the minds of people who are interested in Scottish education is the fact that the best of teachers—and by that term I mean not only the teachers who by instinct and intuition are able to communicate their interests to the pupils, but those who have gone well through our training colleges, and in a distinguished way through our universities—are not now attracted to our county schools. I think that everybody who knows the village and rural life of Scotland will agree that it is a great disadvantage to the village community and to the social and educational—and if you like religious—life of those communities that the one man in the village who stands heads and shoulders in that way above all others should be the clergyman of one or other of the denominations. It must be to the advantage of the rural life of Scotland that there should be in many of our rural schools men who are in touch with university life; men who are in touch with the larger ideas outside the village, and who are able to inspire the village children in their institutes and those other methods of meeting each other socially with those ambitions which have for so long been to the credit of the people of Scotland. Anything, therefore, which tends to take away the possibility of those schools being garrisoned by the very best teachers is something that ought to be avoided. I have, therefore, to ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland to give some considerable thought to this question, because of the interest that is taken in it, not only by the people of the rural areas, but by the teachers themselves. There is nothing better that he can do outside his Department in connection with education than to steadily preserve all the opportunities that are possible to the children in these rural areas and to keep easy to them the road to our universities without having the necessity imposed of undergoing this physical fatigue in reaching these central schools.

There is another matter to which I should like to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman in connection with this subject of education. This, perhaps, is a point that interests the teaching profession more than the people generally. I refer to the inspectorate. The system of arriving at what a school has been able to achieve is determined by inspection, and not by examination. It is extremely essential that that inspection should be complete and adequate, and that the staff of inspectors should be well equipped. When I say well equipped, I do not mean by men of distinguished scholastic attainments only, but that the inspectors should be able to fit in, in an all-round kind of way with what is taught at schools. At present I would remind the House that probably the large majority of the men who have this work to do, are men of distinguished classical attainments, and you have far too few men in the inspectorate who have either mathematical or science distinction, or distinction, again, in foreign languages or English literature. The tendency of the past—and it is a tendency that applies to other countries besides Scotland—has been to determine a man's educational abilities by his attainments in classics. If a man took a good classical degree at Oxford or Cambridge, the chances of being appointed an inspector of schools in Scotland were superior to those of the man who had attainments in other directions. I want to put in a plea not only for the profession but for the children, and I think that my right hon. Friend will agree that it is fair to both, for the children are subject to the inspection that the present inspectors are called upon to make. I want to put in a plea for men of mathematical distinction, of men with distinction in science and in foreign languages. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will reply to me by reading out the achievements and scholastic attainments of the men who at present hold office. Will he believe me when I say that I am making no criticism of the men who are at present in office; I have no objection to their remaining there. I am only asking him in considering the whole question of the inspectorate in future to take into consideration the different attainments involved in our educational system in Scotland to-day, and to try and meet them in future appointments.

To begin with, it would widen his choice for the inspectorate. If men who are going through the universities with an educational future knew that their best credentials for being appointed an inspector under the Scottish educational authority are classical, obviously the bulk of the men will devote themselves to the study of classics. If they know that distinction in other departments of learning will carry them as far, then you will get men who are better qualified to achieve those distinctions making a determined effort to qualify themselves in that particular way. I think my right hon. Friend will find out, if he inquires, that at present the inspectorate is not quite all-round enough to meet the all-round demands that are made upon the children of our schools. Before I come to any suggested changes, may I remind my right hon. Friend of this: That that is a general criticism of examination and inspection; and that the public of Scotland have a right to demand a more close and exact inspection of the school children than now obtains? When I myself and others in this House were at school in Scotland we were never moved up in the school unless we could satisfy the inspector of our ability to read, write, and count. Nobody was moved up unless he could satisfy the examiners in these particular subjects. As a matter of fact, all that is done away with now. No individual examination of that kind is made. I do not advocate a return to it. I think it had very many bad points. It meant very frequently that a child who ought to have gone up was kept back; it has meant the opposite that those were put forward who should have been kept back. Now we have an inspection, that means that there is no great care taken of the individual scholar, with the result—I am sure my hon. Friend opposite, as a business man, will agree—that one of the most frequent complaints is, that, although you turn children out of the schools well equipped in foreign languages and mathematics, you cannot get them to do the ordinary things that are required to be done by an apprentice in, say, any of the business firms in our large industrial centres. I could quote many large firms in Edinburgh and Leith who have given up entirely the old system of apprenticeship and introduced the existing system of junior clerks mainly because they were unable to get from the schools in Scotland pupils who were qualified to run up the three columns of the ledger. That is a serious charge, and something one does not like to know with respect to our methods of education. It would, therefore, I think, be a good thing in dealing with the subject of examination and inspection, if that could be slightly altered. I know schools, for instance, in Scotland where the inspectors have not been in the classes of the teachers, for periods amounting to two years at a time, and where the whole movement of the scholarships have been left entirely in the hands of the teacher of the class and the head master for as long a period as two years. I would like to point out to my right hon. Friend, first, that there are far too many grades of sub-divisions in the inspectorate as it exists to-day. The inspectorate, I think, ought to be the legitimate avenue to promotion for the teachers in our schools. I think they are entitled to expect that the inspectors should be chosen from the ranks of the teachers and given the post of inspectors. Now, as a matter of fact, that is not always done. I know my right hon. Friend will reply to me, probably, that all the men of the inspectorate now had some teaching experience, but to be able to say that they had teaching experience and to prove the teaching experience that they have had are two different things. As my hon. Friend knows, a student may come through the university and obtain his educational diploma and be appointed as a teacher in Scotland after three months' practical experience under the school board, but in the old days he had a two years' course in a training college where the theory of education, as well as the practice, was taught, and, further, a man qualified himself by a university training.

It is useless to say that man who had only three months' qualification In practical teaching in order to equip himself for the post of teacher or inspector in the secondary school has had anything like the experience which the parents of the children are entitled to expect from a great office like the Scottish Education Department. I think the post of inspectors ought to be open to the teachers. What frequently happens, as one knows, is this: I myself know a great many people teaching in Scotland to-day. As my right hon. Friend knows, I went through a particular training myself, and I have a very large number of my own contemporaries teaching in a number of schools in Scotland to-day. Many of these men would try for sub-inspectors now but for the fact that they have reached a stage in their particular schools, and it does not pay them from the financial point of view to lay down the office they are occupying nod and to go in for sub-inspectors. But these men, I consider, are very much better qualified in many different ways than the men who are actually qualified as sub-inspectors. I submit very respectfully that a student who has had a distinguished career at a training college, and also a good university degree, and has behind him ten years' experience in elementary and secondary schools in Scotland, is very much more competent to inspect teachers in the art of teaching the pupils than many of the men who have been appointed to those positions without much experience. And that leads me to suggest that my right hon. Friend might consider the advisability of raising the initial salaries which those inspectors begin with. This is really a financial point which prevents a large number of men from making applications for the position of sub-inspectors, because the salaries they have been earning are larger than those offered in the lowest grade of inspector. If the right hon. Gentleman would bear that in mind and consider whether it might not be possible to raise the salaries of those sub-inspectors, he would widen his choice enormously and restore confidence to a large body of teachers in Scotland who look upon the inspectorate, as upon the head master-ships, as legitimate avenues of progress in their profession.

I have already dealt with the question of experience in teaching, and I may say to my right hon. Friend that this is a very real point of criticism with regard to the teachers who are inspectors. If there is anything which produces contempt in men's minds, it is the fact that they know that the man inspecting has not had first hand a tenth part of the experience in teaching which the person has whose pupils are being examined by the inspector. That is a very real and true criticism about a great deal of the inspectorate as it exists to-day in Scotland, and that is a point which ought to be borne in mind from the point of view of administration. I think it ought to be made possible to consider whether reorganisation of the inspectorate staff in Scotland might not be achieved with considerable advantage. It may be impertinent on my part to suggest a point of that sort and, therefore, I will not pursue it. I am quite willing to admit that on a point of that kind those in charge of the administration are much more likely to know the facts than I am, but it is a point suggested in the interests of an efficient inspectorate, and it might be worth while to take note of it. Then, while one is dealing with the subject of education, one might, refer to the note upon which I began my remarks by suggesting that there is a good case, and I think it would be worth while to take account of it for having a Commission of Inquiry into the whole subject of education in Scotland. I see my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland knitting his brows at that suggestion. Like many hon. Members, he does not trust very much to any good coming out of a Royal Commission. I see that one of my hon. Friends for a Northern Constituency also shares that view, because he is now waiting, presumably, for information from one such Commission, which, so far, he has not been able to get. But, after all, that is the only instrument known to us to achieve the purpose I have in view and I want to back that suggestion up by reminding my right hon. Friend that we have still got with us in Scotland the question of administrative areas, which is a real point of criticism frequently made in Scotland with regard to the teaching profession.

4.0 P.M.

As hon. Members of this House know, our system in Scotland is different from that which obtains on this side of the Tweed. We have ad hoc bodies dealing with the subject of education. If there is one criticism with regard to these ad hoc bodies with more substance than another, it is that frequently it may be urged against them, that on account of the very smallness of these boards there is injustice done to the teaching profession. But that would not be sufficient for me to advocate a change, it other substantial reasons did not also obtain in this particular. It would have a great effect upon the profession itself in Scotland if the administrative areas were largely increased. A man's promotion in Scotland under the Scottish Boards depends upon the vital statistics of the other members of the teaching profession under that particular board. There are no broad areas over which promotion can be exercised, and when you come to deal with the rural schools you find that for a man who settles in a rural area, the opportunities for promotion in such an area may be said to be practically nil, as compared with those provided in the larger areas. For instance, in Glasgow or in Edinburgh there is very often a large area in which a man might find promotion, but in the rural areas it is not so obvious, and if a number of them were linked up and included with centralised schools in the area, the opportunities for promotion for teachers under the school board, as in the towns, would be much larger. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that so important a body as the Educational Institute of Scotland only a few weeks ago passed a resolution in the following terms:— That this meeting is of opinion that many of the difficulties at present prejudicially affecting the efficiency of education in Scotland would he removed by the establishment of suitably large administrative areas, and calls upon the Government to appoint a Royal Commission to make inquiry as to the areas which should be adopted.




Apparently the hon. Member is against, such a proposal, but my argument is that, the Educational Institute of Scotland suggests a Royal Commission. I was suggesting that an inquiry should be held into all those other things I have referred to, as well as all the things I could refer to if I had the remainder of this afternoon at my disposal. Obviously if the principal Association of Teachers in Scotland is of opinion that this question is worth looking into, assuredly there is a much better case for what I have been urging. There is one other matter I wish to raise, which is always associated with Scotsmen and Scottish criticisms—that is, the subject of money. We have been told recently in this House by the Secretary for Scotland that with regard to education in Scotland we were actually getting more than our fair share of money as compared with our partner on this side of the Tweed. I think the figure was slightly above 50 per cent. It does not matter what the actual figure was, but I know it was just over the border of 50 per cent. It is a fact which ought to be borne in mind when discussing the question of money Grants in Scotland, that a portion of the money which Scotland has got as equivalent Grants for other matters is used in Scotland for education. I think that ought to be borne in mind.


I think that arose under the Act of. 1889.


The fact remains that that swells the proportion of money devoted to education in Scotland, as compared with the figure for England. We maintain that we are entitled to do what we choose with that money in order that education should be benefited, but that is no argument why Scotland should not get its fair equivalent. If you take the question of Grants which have been made in connection with necessitous school children in England, and compare them with the money obtained in Scotland, either the equivalents are wrong or there is some reason why Scotland has not got the money she ought to have got, and I hope the Secretary for Scotland will deal with that point in his reply. In 1912–13 England had allotted for medical treatment £60,000. The equivalent of that sum on the basis which is generally accepted as normal for equivalent Grants is £8,250, but Scotland only got £7,500, or £750 less than she ought to have got on the basis upon which those Grants are usually apportioned. In 1913–14 Scotland got £80,000, and the equivalent should have been £11,000, but instead of that amount Scotland only got £7,500, so that in those two years alone Scotland got £4,200 less than she ought to have received in two years for the purpose of dealing with medical treatment. I need not enlarge upon the necessity for medical treatment in any of the counties in which this subject is dealt with, but I think there ought to be some explanation forthcoming of these reduced sums, or we ought to be told that Scotland is getting the money in some other way.

I want to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman that I do not regard the explanation as satisfactory that if you lump all the money together Scotland shows a proportion which seems to indicate that she is getting more than her share. That is not a sufficient explanation. I should also like to know what is going to happen with regard to the equivalent Grant on account of the English Education Bill, which has just been introduced, by which £50,000 is being given to England for medical treatment. Obviously, the equivalent Grant for Scotland would be £6,875, and I should like to know what is going to be the addition to the Scottish Grants as the result of giving this extra money to England. I should also like to know what is going to happen with regard to the £100,000 in aid of loan charges in England. That is a Grant of which we know nothing in Scotland, and it is being put into this particular Bill for a particular purpose with which the House is cognisant. It is a Grant for education, and any Grant for education in England ought to be and must be accompanied by an equivalent Grant for education in Scotland. It does not necessarily follow that we need devote it to any similar purpose. The right hon. Gentleman is aware that there are many purposes in Scotland which would at once suggest themselves to him to which that money could be well and effectively devoted in Scotland. There are a great many other points, but I do not think it fair to occupy all the time of the Committee, and I think I have now put the points which I had in the front of my mind in the remarks I have made. There are other points which hon. Members will deal with, but I should just like to say, in conclusion, that we recognise the interest which the Secretary for Scotland takes in the subject of education. We also recognise the fact that having to bear the burden of so many Departments in Scotland, the right hon. Gentleman is not able to pay the same amount of attention to one particular Department as other Cabinet Ministers are able to devote to their particular Departments. This subject of education is so vital to the future of Scotland, and so much in line with the traditions of our country, that we beg of him to give it his very best and if possible his foremost attention, among the many interests he is called upon to serve in the country of which he is the Secretary.


I should have been gratified on this occasion had I seen more hon. Members opposite ready to renew their attacks upon the Secretary for Scotland and ready to give us something which would help us to make a virulent attack upon the right hon. Gentleman, as I was fully prepared to do.


Then you are disappointed.


Yes, I am thoroughly disappointed. The hon. Member opposite has told us that education is vital to the future of Scotland, but surely we have heard that statement until we are tired of it. But really the attacks the hon. Member has made upon the right hon. Gentleman have made it almost necessary for me in some cases—and I do it most unwillingly—to appear in the character that I least desire, that is, of a defender of the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member began his speech by saying what I think is obvious to anyone that there had been great changes in our educational administration which he regretted.


I did not say that. What I said was that changes had been made without discussion in this House.


The hon. Member complained of changes being carried out by Minutes of the Department. Does he think every change should be carried out by an Act of Parliament? What other process does the hon. Member suggest besides the Minutes of the Department, which are laid down in the Act of Parliament? I am sick to death of hearing these complaints about the Minutes of the Department. On what conceivable plan does the hon. Member propose that the Department should proceed except by Minutes? If the Minutes are not discussed here, whose fault is it? The fault of the hon. Member opposite and his colleagues. On this side we are a mere minority trodden underfoot, but if the hon. member will begin by discussing some of those Minutes I promise to give him all the help I can. I was for twenty years at the Educational Department in Scotland, and I know there was a great deal of criticism during that period, and I think we were all the better for it. Why does the hon. Member opposite not discuss those Minutes now? Either he wishes that there should be no changes in education, and that it should go on in the old stereotype course, or else he supposes we cannot change an item in the Code without an Act of Parliament. Surely we can do something without an Act of Parliament. If you have got a Department that cannot manage its business, why do you not turn it out? But, if you have got a Department that can manage its business, leave that business to it and do not keep on with this everlasting carping criticism! What is it the hon. Gentleman asks for? A Royal Commission, forsooth! The hon. Gentleman, at this time of day, comes down and proposes that remedy! Why, a Royal Commission puts everything into confusion and is a prolific source of delay, forming an effective excuse for every dilatory Minister. I never knew any good come out of a Royal Commission; the only good I could ever say of a Royal Commission was that it was not so bad as sonic others.

I came down here expecting to see an effective attack and with my claws ready to scratch the face of the right hon. Gentleman as an ally of hon. Members opposite, and what do I find? The old question about rural schools raised. We have discussed this question about the rural schools until we are tired of it. I would be as jealous as anyone about the separation of higher education from the rural schools, but I have heard that until I am tired of it. The hon. Gentleman comes here and says that you cannot have higher education taken out of the rural schools because some of the scholars would have to travel a couple of miles on a bicycle. Why should they not travel on a bicycle instead of in some miserable way which does not exercise their limbs? When I was a boy I went to the University of Glasgow at the age of fourteen. We had to start on winter mornings at seven o'clock and walk a couple of miles to class at half-past seven, and now that I am a septuagenarian I can say that it did not do us the least harm. What are we coming to? Are boys to complain of walking one and a half miles to school and to be carried along on motor 'buses? We are told that it is a tremendous strain on boys to have to go one and a half miles to school on a bicycle. It is all nonsense. The old idea of the parish school is a very good one, and I am one of those who will not allow any laches of the right hon. Gentleman in respect of these schools to escape, but the Department is trying to reconcile two opposite tendencies—one, the giving of thoroughly efficient higher education in centralised schools, and the other of having a rural school as close as you possibly can with a certain amount of higher education. These two different tendencies will always draw you into controversy, and the Department must do the best it can to maintain a, fair balance between the two. If the right hon. Gentleman and those who advise him make any mistake I am quite prepared to attack them, but it does no good to take that sort of captious criticism in which the hon. Gentleman opposite has indulged. He made another criticism, and that was with regard to the larger areas, and again, with that sort of pious aspiration and religious superstition, he came to the conclusion that it can only be dealt with by a Royal Commission. What on earth do we want a Royal Commission for?


Did you never appoint one?


We did, and-we sketched out the larger areas. The present Lord Chancellor (Lord Haldane) and myself went through the whole matter. I agreed with him, and we tried to put it into a Bill, but it was thrown out. When the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor introduced an Education Bill he did not put the larger areas in because the Lord Advocate was opposed to them, some clique having got hold of him, and I was blamed when in Committee upstairs I proposed a Clause in the Bill of 1890 for extending the areas, and I had a most bitter attack made upon me for occupying twenty minutes in putting forward that scheme which was in exact concurrence with that which was pressed for by Lord Haldane, but from which he had departed, and to which now they are all ready to subscribe as the only thing to save Scottish education. We do not want a Royal Commission to tell us what these larger areas are, and you are not advancing larger areas by suggesting a Royal Commission; you are only postponing the matter and giving excuse for delay and subterfuge. The next question the hon. Gentleman raised was that of the inspectors. I do not think he really knows one bit about that of which he was talking. He spoke of inspectors being chosen for their classical education. I was responsible for the appointment of a very large number of the present staff, and no greater absurdity was ever uttered. Does the hon. Member know that we have a certain number of science inspectors who were appointed solely for their scientific qualifications? We have also inspectors who have been chosen solely because of their knowledge of modern languages, and others who have been chosen for their distinction in classical scholarship.

The hon. Gentleman is not telling us anything which has not been known to the Department and practised by the Department years before he came on the scene. It is utterly absurd for him to try and teach those who have to administer education the A B C of their own business and to occupy us here on a Bank Holiday afternoon when we should all be very much better occupied elsewhere. The hon. Member said, "Let us have teachers promoted to be inspectors." Does the hon. Member know how much harm he does to the teachers by a suggestion of that sort? Does he not know that in making that suggestion he is depressing the teaching profession and making it out that the only way in which a man can get a higher post is by being transferred from that profession into some other? By the time a teacher is old enough to be a full inspector, with all the responsibilities of an inspector, he ought to have learned a totally different sort of business if he is going to be any good in his own profession. and he ought to be paid at a rate which would make it unlikely that he would accept the position of an inspector. These are totally different lines of careers, and if you say that the only promotion for a teacher is by transferring him to a totally different line of life, that of administration, then you are uttering what has been one of the great curses upon the teaching profession.


Who said that?


If the hon. Gentleman did not say that, then I do not think anything can be extracted from his words at all. I was from thirty to thirty-five years in the profession of educational administration, and I am perfectly certain that at the end of that time I would not have been a good teacher—I had never learned the profession—but I was a better administrator than nine-tenths of the teachers who had risen to the head of their profession. I had learned my business just as they had learned theirs, and it would have been no compliment or advantage to them to have told them that the proper promotion and advancement in life for them was to be transferred to the totally different profession—that of administration. The last point in the speech of the hon. Member to which I wish to refer is the question of money. I know a good deal about the money question in Scotland, and I say with all confidence that the less you say about the proportion between Scotland and Eng- land the better it will be in the interests of Scotland. The old reason he assigned, that certain money that might have gone to other purposes was used in Scotland for education is really a historical error. We did use some £400,000 for free education in 1899, but when education was made free in England, the whole of that money was handed back to Scotland. It is a superstition frequently repeated that we have continued to provide free education out of local rates. We have not done so. There is another question to which I wish the House to attend, and it is that of the Grants in Scotland and in England. These Grants ought not to be considered in this niggardly, petty, proportionate way. "What is the real need of Scotland or of England, and what does Scotland or England deserve by the work she has done?" That ought to be the deciding question, both in regard to England and Scotland, and the idea that you have to cut a snippet off every time you give a little to Scotland or to England so as to satisfy the other is really not statesmanship or administrative efficiency. Let us do what is the very best and what can fairly be claimed for Scotland. Let us help Scotland where we think it will do good to Scotland, and let us help England where we think it will do good to England.

I am going to venture to say something which has not yet been said in this House, but which I think might be said, and perhaps be said safely. At all events, I do not feel that I should be doing my duty if I did not utter openly the conviction which is mine. This question of money is not the panacea for all educational evils and I am not quite sure the time is not rapidly corning when the difficulty of enormous expenditure on education will produce a dangerous reaction—a reaction very dangerous for education. We are making broad the philacteries of our educational garment. Are we certain that we are promoting the efficiency of education? Do palatial, almost exaggeratedly palatial habitations and halls necessarily prove the real efficiency of education? The old parish school in Scotland was not a palace; the old parish school did not feed her children with spoon food. Remember this, that a great deal of the advantage of education to Scotsmen which enabled them to rise was not the education or the information poured into them, but it was the tremendous effort that they had to use, an effort which stimulated their energies, strengthened their sinews, and built up their characters—I mean, the effort they had to make in order to get that education, and it was perhaps the most valuable of all. I know that education has been made free in the universities, all honour to the bounteous gentleman who has made it so. But I am not perfectly sure that his generosity has always been productive of undiluted good to the Scottish student. People are too ready at the present time to tell their constituents that no money can be wasted on education—that the more that is spent upon it, the more good it will do. That is not a safe, a true, or a sound doctrine to preach. Economy, care, method and wisdom in expenditure is as sound a theory in education as in anything else, and I, as a university Member, am quite ready to preach that and to take the responsibility for so doing.

But there is one thing we can do in building up education, and it is a thing you have neglected. You have never restored the ideal old parish school of Scotland of which we were all proud, and which made itself felt and respected all the world over. You must raise the status and the advantages of the profession of teaching. The old parish school-master held a position incomparably higher in dignity, in status, and in independence than is held by most of the profession now. No money—and here I am tempted to be extravagant—no money can be thrown away in enhancing the position of the teachers. It will pay you, it will pay your children, it will pay civilisation and society. I would rather see such money as you have to spare carefully watched and guarded, but spent on that rather than on an extravagantly expensive building which, very often, is a monument rather of the conceit of those who promote it or of the particular people who like, out of other people's money, to raise gigantic but rather garish monuments to themselves.

I have come to tackle the right hon. Gentleman on a point to which I attach a great deal of importance. We have heard a good deal during these discussions about the physical training of children. Has the right hon. Gentleman done his duty in that respect? I do not think he has. We have been told by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, when we have advocated national service for lads from eighteen to twenty-two, that they are quite ready to meet us and to carry on physical training from the ages of fourteen to eighteen in continuation schools. That has been a matter of common agreement with a great many Members on both sides of the House. I see a great deal of good in it and shall do nothing to hinder it. But no man has bad better opportunities for doing this than the Secretary for Scotland. By the Act of 1908 continuation classes were established. Attendance at these continuation classes might be made in Scotland what England aspired to do but never ventured to attain—attendance might in certain cases be made compulsory. What does the Act of 1908 say with regard to instruction in those classes? It lays down a perfectly distinct rule as to what shall be included in the curriculum, and it states that it shall be the duty of the school boards of Scotland to make provision for the instruction of the pupils, and to "afford them opportunity for suitable physical training." That provision was put in on the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leith (Mr. Munro-Ferguson), and it was introduced unanimously. When other Acts of Parliament dealing with these educational matters have laid down distinct injunctions of that kind, the codes for day schools or for evening schools have universally repeated the words as well as the intentions of the Act, and made the injunction an indispensable rule for the earning of Grants. I want to know why the right hon. Gentleman has omitted that rule from the continuation class code? Why has he not made it, as the Act of Parliament made it, a necessary condition of earning Grants? He had the opportunity which his colleague, the President of the Board of Education does not possess in England, of carrying out this proposal of compulsory physical training for youths from fourteen to eighteen. Why has he not carried into the Code the express words of the Act of Parliament? Will he tell me, when he rises to speak, how many of these continuation classes do carry out the strict injunction of the Act of Parliament as to their duty to provide opportunities for suitable physical training? I have studied the statistics, and I am very much afraid that the answer must be unsatisfactory. Let the right hon. Gentleman be under no mistake as to what I ask: Why has he omitted, what is the universal practice of the Department in every Code, of putting into it, as an indispensable condition of earning Grants, what the Act of Parliament says is to be the duty of the school board? Will he tell me, he not having put these words into the Code, how many of these continuation classes do carry on physical training at all, or whether there are not many of the classes earning Grants which have not obeyed the strict injunction of the Act of Parliament? That is the only point I wish to raise. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will not treat it as a small or insignificant matter. I urge him to give as full a statement on it as possible.

Captain WARING

On this question of the administration of the Scottish Education Department I desire to confine myself to that part of the United Kingdom I represent here, and I ought perhaps to offer an apology to the hon. Member for St. Andrews University for having come down to air the grievances of my Constituents. He went a little out of Ids way, in the first place, to attack us for coming down here—


Not for coming down, but for making me come down.


You get £400 a year for coming.

Captain WARING

We come here in the interests of our constituents, and the hon. Gentleman blames us for not making an attack on the Secretary for Scotland. He told us that he personally had come with his claws ready sharpened in order to tear the Secretary for Scotland to pieces, and I naturally expected the hon. Gentleman, as the most important educational representative of the Opposition present in the House, would start the attack. But when he did rise he commenced by making a most eloquent defence of the Scottish Education Department, and, instead of attacking the Secretary for Scotland, he defended the Department. Yet in this question surely the Education Department is the Secretary for Scotland!


I drew no distinction.

Captain WARING

The hon. Gentleman defended the Department, and he therefore defended the administration of the Scottish Secretary. In speaking on this subject I wish to confine myself to my own Constituency, and I may say that dissatisfaction is undoubtedly very plentiful in Banffshire in regard to this matter. I have had an opportunity of meeting many who are experts on the subject, and who take a deep interest in education locally, and as a result of conversations with them I have been forced to the conclusion that there is an important body of opinion in Scotland which holds that there is great need for improvement in the administration of educational matters in that country. The difficulties that are undoubtedly in the way of securing higher education for the children are so discouraging that I am not surprised some people should think that a child would do better to leave school altogether at the age of twelve. Personally, I have no sympathy with that view. I think the supplementary courses are of considerable value. I do not look upon the opinion as a wise one, but the mere fact that it should be abroad must point to something being radically wrong with the administration. In dealing with higher education I do not propose to refer to those districts where the higher-grade schools are accessible to all or to those parishes which are contiguous to the higher-grade centres, and where no difficulty is experienced in sending children to the school.

I propose to deal with the more remote districts, five, ten, or fifteen miles from the central school. Their position may involve a journey of thirty miles daily. It is not a mere question of going a couple of miles, as has been suggested, and I agree with the hon. Member for East Edinburgh that a young child cannot be expected to travel these long distances. Indeed, as it is, they often have to travel two miles in order to attend an elementary school. Year after year children are recommended by teachers for higher education, and year after year a certain number are obliged to take up supplementary courses owing to the inability of parents to meet the expense of sending them to the higher grade centres. Apart altogether from the fact that the value of the bursaries and the travelling allowances are wholly insufficient, I have come across a widespread opinion among people who have studied the subject all their lives, that it is really impossible to expect a child of twelve to travel these long distances to the central school. The system of securing lodgings in the town is wholly bad, because it removes a child from parental control at its most impressionable age. I submit that if one child in the whole of Scotland is unable, owing to the system, to secure the best possible education it is very unfortunate, but when the complaint is so widespread it becomes almost disastrous, and a drastic and immediate remedy is called for. There is no doubt whatever to my mind that if any encouragement whatever was given by the Department to teaching higher education in parish schools, no more willing teachers could be found than those parish school teachers. I can confidently say that so far as Banffshire is concerned. The teaching of advanced subjects in primary schools was not only discouraged by the Department, but was actually disallowed in the last decade. Latterly a much more powerful education organisation has sprung into being in the country, and the Department has rather changed its policy, so that now, while the teaching of advanced subjects in the primary schools is by no means discouraged, it is, at all events in some instances, tolerated If adequate facilities were given and much more generous Grants allowed for the teaching of higher subjects in primary schools, the children could be carried so far as the intermediate certificate. That would mean that the child would remain until the age of fifteen at its original school, without any extra expense to the parent of the child.

This arrangement would be a considerable boon to the child itself, because it would be carried through the elementary to the secondary subjects by a teacher who had trained it from infancy, a teacher it had learned to know, and in surroundings with which the child was familiar. Then, in order to secure the full certificate, only two years, instead of five, would be required at a central school. That would bring higher education within the grasp of a much larger number of families, because many parents would be able to afford to keep their children at the central school for two years, whereas five years would be prohibitive. There would be some who could not afford even the expense for the two years, and the bursaries and travelling allowances should be increased in order that the child should proceed to the higher grade centre and secure the full intermediate certificate at the age of seventeen. It has been stated that there are difficulties in the way. Those difficulties are not insurmountable. I am informed that what is required is a little less rigidity in the curriculum, and that some of the subjects which are made compulsory might be made voluntary. Having gone into the question, I think that all the subjects in the intermediate course are exceedingly useful, and that if the rural schools can be furnished with the necessary appliances for the teaching of science, the curriculum should remain as it is. Many of the schools for which money was obtained at the time the Act of 1908 was passed are provided with these appliances. I think greater elasticity is required in regard to the curriculum. I could never understand why 360 hours' study should be insisted upon before a pupil is allowed to go for an examination pass in science and art. If the pupil is fully qualified he ought to go up for any special subject, and the time saved could be spent upon some other subject. There is no doubt in the minds of the experts that if larger Grants were given and greater facilities provided, the children would be able to get their full leaving certificate at the age of seventeen. In regard to rural school teachers, a most excellent body of men, I would respectfully suggest to the right hon. Gentleman—

Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present; House counted, and forty Members being found present—

Captain WARING

Perhaps the hon. Member who moved the Count did not know what made it necessary that hon. Members should not be here. Members from Scotland are at the present moment seeing the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon an exceedingly important business. That is the reason why they are not here at the present time. I was referring to the rural parish school teachers, and to the fact that the Department, in my opinion, has paid too much attention to qualifications and too little to the ability of the teacher. The ability, in my opinion, is much more important. The great cause of complaint in Scotland would be removed if only the teaching of higher education were encouraged in the primary school. The question of larger administrative areas and a proper basis for taxation for educational purposes must in the end be considered. The hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Sir H. Craik) told us that he was sick of hearing this subject discussed. I may say that we also are rather sick of hearing it discussed, but why did not he, when he was in office in 1905, go on with the Bill which was introduced by the then Secretary for Scotland, Lord Dunedin.


made an observation which was inaudible.

Captain WARING

The Bill was introduced, but was not proceeded with. We gave the right hon. Gentleman all the support we could in proceeding with it. The question of larger administrative areas must eventually be taken into consideration. By the administrative action of the Department, one or two, adjoining parishes have been amalgamated. That system has undoubtedly broken down. I know that in the case of the county I represent, it has resulted in a maximum of friction and the mimimum of efficiency. The Education Department undoubtedly has power, under the Act of 1908, to join two or more parishes together for educational purposes. That being so, I do not see why still more parishes should not be brought together. If you secure the county area, which, in the opinion of many people would be the best possible solution, you would get the double advantage of financial strength and more schemes for the reduction of rates. An inquiry into the whole system of educational adminstration has been suggested. I have come across a very general feeling in Scotland in favour of a full, comprehensive, and exhaustive inquiry into the whole of the educational system of Scotland. I agree with the hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities as to his horror of a Royal Commission. I am in favour of the fullest possible inquiry, but the matter would appear to have become far too urgent to admit of the appointment of a, Royal Commission or even of a Departmental Committee. My experience of this House is not a very lengthy one, but it is quite long enough to shake my faith in Royal Commissions and Departmental Committees. When a matter has been considered of sufficient importance by the Government it has been found possible for a Committee to report in a very short time. We have had experience of that more than once in the last two or three years. I therefore suggest that if an inquiry into our educational system is necessary, it should be undertaken at once. and the Report presented this side of Christmas. In what I have said I have not endeavoured in any way to abuse the Department. I believe that we owe a great deal indeed to the Department. Education has undoubtedly advanced, although I have endeavoured to show that in some respects it has advanced on the wrong lines, and in those respects it should be altered. Nobody should be allowed to say, as has been said to-day with truth, that higher education was more within the grasp of the children of poorer parents in Scotland twenty years ago than at the present time.

Major HOPE

I am a little diffident in putting forward the financial aspect of the Scottish school boards after what has been said by the hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Sir H. Craik) as to its being a pettifogging way of considering the education question. I have been a member of a school board for some three years, and I think we are justified in looking at the question of education from the standpoint of the Scottish school boards. Generally speaking, the Act of 1908 has no doubt enormously improved the system and standard of education in Scotland, but it has also considerably increased the expense, and the expense has not been evenly distributed between the rates and the Imperial Exchequer. In the year ending Whitsuntide, 1907, 44 per cent. only of the total expenditure was borne by the local rates, but for the year ending Whitsuntide, 1912, the local ratepayers had to pay 48 per cent. of a much larger sum. Those are the last figures available. It looks as if the proportionate burden on the ratepayers will be increased in the current year. The Edinburgh school board in the last two years has been forced to increase its education rate by 3d. in the £, and during the same time the Glasgow school board has been forced to increase its education rate by 6¼d. Nearly every school board in Scotland during the last few years has had more or less to increase its education rate. In addition to the increased scope of the responsibilities which are forced upon the school boards by the Act of 1908, an ever increasing standard of efficiency is also required. I do not for one moment deny that we should go on improving our standard of efficiency in education, but, at the same time, I do believe that in many small matters the school boards are forced into greater expenditure by the pressure of the officials of the Board of Education. Especially is that the case in regard to school buildings and equipment, for which the whole of the expense falls on the local ratepayers. I can quote a case in point.

5.0 P.M.

When I was at school, I sat on a bench with twelve other boys, and I have little doubt that most hon. Members did the same. Now we are told that it is impossible to educate a child efficiently if more than two children sit at a desk. Inspectors force school boards to provide what are called dual desks. For supplementary classes single desks are required. We have not got these in the House of Commons Library. But this very often involves the scrapping of serviceable furniture. The hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Craik) rather implied that the expense of school buildings was the fault of school boards. All plans for school buildings have to be submitted and resubmitted time after time to the Education Department at Edinburgh, and then transmitted up to London for final approval before the school boards can move hand or foot in the matter of school buildings. They are generally forced into new expenditure in the matter of buildings by the pressure of the Scottish Education Department—rightly or wrongly I do not say—but I do not think that school boards should be accused of extravagance in the matter of school buildings when the extravagance, if there is any, is very often largely due to Departmental pressure. I quite agree that we must go on spending money, but I object to the constantly diminishing sum which Scottish school boards receive in order to meet this constantly increasing expenditure.

I should like, especially, to draw attention to one particular item of the Grant, namely, the additional fee Grant, or residue Grant, as it is called colloquially. In 1908 this stood at an average throughout Scotland of 4s. per head. In this House during the discussion on the new Scottish Education Fund formed under the 1908 Act, the then Secretary for Scotland, Lord Pentland, on 10th November, stated that this 4s. would in all probability be considerably increased under the operation of the 1908 Act, and he even went so far as to give an undertaking that if it did not eventually reach 6s. it would be made up to that sum. I wish we could even see our 4s. now. For the current year the total sum remaining for distribution to school boards in Midlothian amounts to £7that is, after the charges under Section 17 have been paid—and the Grant for the current year will be nothing. The same tendency is experienced throughout all the counties of Scotland. On page 37 of the Report of the Committee of the Council of Education for Scotland it is stated that the sum available for allocation to county committees is considerably smaller than in previous years owing to various causes. Of course it is smaller. The total sum in 1910 was £447,000; it was down last year to £352,000 and this year it is down to £328,000. There was no additional fee Grant available for distribution in the county which I represent out of the £352,000. We shall have a minus value next year, I imagine. The Secretary for Scotland has told us, and will probably tell us again, that this reduction is due to money which was earmarked originally for the Teachers' Superannuation Fund, and, not being required the first year, it helped to swell the Scottish Education Fund, and now the Teachers' Superannuation Fund has been brought into operation and this money is devoted to its legitimate purpose, and that is why the Grant is reduced. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to explain why the additional fee Grant, which in my county was 4s. 6d. in 1906, fell to Is. 3d. in 1910, which was before the Teachers' Superannuation scheme came into operation. The contention which he put forward before will explain the drop of 1s. 3d. in 1910 to nothing now, but it will not explain the previous drop under the operation of this 1908 Act of 4s. 6d. to 1s. 3d. The real reason, I believe, is the increased expense for higher grade and secondary education, which we all admit are most necessary objects. But still they should not be provided entirely at the expense of elementary education, and by increasing the already crushing burdens on school boards and ratepayers.

There is another aspect of this situation. It is not exactly fun for school boards to have their additional free Grant reduced from 4s. to nothing, but it is death to voluntary schools. I think this aspect of the situation would strike Nationalist Members. Catholic schools in Scotland are feeling this very seriously. They have not got the ratepayers to fall back upon. No doubt they will struggle along, but the Episcopalian schools will be crushed down, because they are really hardly to be classed as denominational schools, though they are nominally denominational, and the result will be that a further additional burden will fall on the local ratepayers in those areas where they are now situated by providing for displaced Episcopalian school children. No doubt the Secretary for Scotland will say that Scotland is getting her fair share, and may give figures of Grants for Scottish education which I shall be unable to follow, but I gave given him the figures of the net results for school boards at one end of the stream flowing from the Treasury. May I also remind him of the facts at the other end of the stream? Seven thousand five hundred pounds is all that we are getting for medical treatment for school children. We got it last year, and we get the same this. England on the original Estimates got an increased Grant of £20,000 for the medical treatment of school children. Why have we not got a share of the increased Grant. In the Supplementary Estimates there is £59,000 more voted for school children for England, and £100,000 for capital expenditure. The President of the English Board of Education, in introducing his Bill, admitted the strong claim that the ratepayers had for some relief from taxation. I do not wish to use pettifogging words, but I hope we shall get as much sympathy for the Scottish ratepayers from the Secretary for Scotland as the English ratepayers received a few days ago from the President of the English Board of Education. Local bodies are really being ground between two mill-stones, the Acts which we pass in this House causing increased expenditure, and the pressure of officials who interpret those Acts. This presses most especially hardly on our Scottish smaller school boards, the majority of which deal with small areas, and the poorer areas have to pay far heavier, proportionally, than the richer areas. In Stirlingshire the education rate is 1½d. In one parish in my own county it is 2s. 8d. The poorer the parish, as a general rule, the higher the education rate is apt to be, and this reacts on a very much larger question, the housing problem. I suppose the final solution will be to wait till we get the Report of the Committee on the relations between Imperial and Local Taxation, but, previous to that, surely we can get some little relief for the ratepayers from the Imperial Exchequer. I notice that the Solicitor-General for Scotland, in addressing the annual congress of the Educational Institute at Perth in January, declared that there was a strong case for larger Grants from the Imperial Exchequer and also for larger areas. He said that poor parishes had a difficulty in meeting the cost of elementary education, and were quite unable to touch secondary education. I should like to know if he was speaking on behalf of the Government and declaring their policy. I trust it is so, because no doubt we want larger areas in Scotland and we want larger Grants from the Imperial Exchequer.


I desire to draw attention to one or two matters connected with Scottish education which have not up to now been very much alluded to. As an old teacher myself, there are no Government publications which I scrutinise with more real interest and pleasure than those which come from the Scottish Education Department. In the past Scotland has had a very high reputation indeed for education, and Scotsmen have a very profound reverence for the cultivation of the national intelligence and have made everything, even including theology, subordinate to that. It is a very good plan in discussing this subject to go upon the principle that you cannot give a nation too much education. No expenditure pays so amply as that. I have observed with very great gratification that the Education Department after having secured a sound, voluntary education for all the children of the country, is now devoting its attention to the lad in his teens—the apprentice whose school work is behind him. I should like to refer to a very interesting Government publication on Central Institutions and Continuation Schools which has been recently issued by the Scottish Education Department. More than one inspector writing there is of opinion that education should, in all cases, go on uninterruptedly to the age of seventeen, and that from lack of that, there is a great deal of time lost between the occasion of leaving the elementary school and joining continuation classes. I have not the slightest doubt that these gentlemen are perfectly correct in saying that there ought to be no gap in education. We all know from painful experience that it is much more easy to forget than to acquire, and that youth is the time for education and study. I think it is no kindness really to a young man to make him master of his own time if he spends that time in idleness or in roaming about the streets, feeling the weight of too much liberty. More and more in the competitive struggle of civilised nations we shall see that it is mental cultivation and technical efficiency that will count, and, therefore, I have nothing but the highest commendation for those school boards who adopt the compulsory Clause. We heard a great deal about that from the hon. Member opposite (Sir H. Craik). I was very much struck by a speech of the Lord Chancellor on 4th April of this year, in which he said:— I am an old War Minister, and I have a profound respect, mingled with some apprehension, for the progress which France and Germany are making in aerial science, which is a very formidable thing in war, but I have far more apprehension of the progress they are making in the realm of education. I have taken one or two notes with regard to points raised by various hon. Members, and I should like to say a little with respect to the question of higher education in rural schools. I consider that the great difficulty which the Department has had to encounter in recent times with respect to higher education is the fact that in modern days higher education involves such a vast array of subjects. In the old days classics and mathematics were almost all in all, and many of our teachers at that time could do all that was required, but now things have changed very much in the opposite direction. Secondary education in the extended modern sense means a large specialised staff and expensive equipment. Some hon. Members seem to have forgotten that. I do not say that that is altogether an unmixed blessing; I do not believe it is. Only the other day a deputation told the Scottish Members that one of the results was that in many of our rural schools there was no longer anything but an exclusively elementary course, and they felt that to be a break, somehow or other, in the very worthy Scottish tradition which used to connect the remotest country school in the land with the universities of the nation. That certainly is something which, so far as it can be remedied, ought to be remedied, and I am very glad indeed to see by the most recent Reports of the Scottish Education Department that the officials of the Department are fully alive to the necessity of securing, so far as it can be secured, the highest education in even the remotest country schools.

Some hon. Members on this side of the House seemed to think that it was possible to have an organised science course in these elementary schools. I say that is an altogether vain thing to expect. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because science in the extended modern sense involves expensive equipment But I do not for one moment see why anyone should suppose that literature which, in the opinion of a great many is not merely the most effective but the least expensive vehicle of higher education, should be allowed to die out of any school in the land. For the sake of the teachers themselves, who are invariably stimulated, I think, by having full and free scope for doing the higher work for which they are capable, the Department need not be loth, and I do not think they are loth, to give to rural schoolmasters, who desire it, full and ample opportunity for training advanced pupils in English, French, Latin, and even Greek if called for. I think that is higher education in the fullest sense of the words. My hon. Friend (Mr. Hogge) has referred to travelling. I should say that, for the avoidance of travel, wherever possible, an apt pupil should have as much of his higher education as can be given in the school in which he began his career. There is one point which I should like to emphasise in this respect, namely, if higher education is to be retained in the elementary schools, you must have competent teachers. After all, nothing can be done without good masters, and in that connection I should like to know if the Secretary for Scotland is quite convinced that the training colleges of the country are all that they should be, and also that the rural school boards are paying their teachers well enough to induce those gentlemen to stay where they are in comfort and contentment. I doubt that very much.

have no special reason to speak on behalf of the teachers of Scotland except that I know a good deal about their work, and I should say that the most pathetic thing in Scottish education at the present moment is that the teachers, especially those in the rural districts, have far too many people to please. They are, of course, not fewer than when the hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Craik) was at the helm of the Scottish Education Department. Every gentleman who has been elected a member of a school board believes himself competent to give advice on educational matters, and to reply to the toast of "Education" at a public banquet. No doubt that illusion is passing. But it has sometimes very whimsical results. The teacher is often made the target of stupid and inane criticism. We have heard of one possible cure. Almost every Member who has spoken referred to increased areas. I think perhaps that is the only cure, and I am glad to see that the Educational Institute of Scotland has decreed for that cure, which has for its object the shielding the teacher from the petty tyranny which is always incidental to a small area. The schoolmaster passing rich with £120 to £150 a year has not only to please the school board, but also the inspector of the Education Department. I think if anyone deserves a tear of sympathetic condolence, it is the rural schoolmaster compassed about with so many tribulations and with so great a cloud of witnesses.

Only the other week we had a circular from the Scottish Education Department giving details, I think in a very moderate but none the less in a very convincing way, of the salaries of these rural masters. I was very sorry indeed to find that these worthy pedagogues were so poorly paid. I know very well that no man since the beginning of time has ever made a fortune by intellectual and moral teaching: The dignity of the task is supposed to be compensation for the meagreness of the salary, but I think it is possible to overdo that, and alike in the interest of elementary and higher education I think it is a matter of national concern to attract the very highest intellect of the country into the service of teaching. The ideal of teaching, the object of the teacher, is to procure thoughtful, industrious, and fair minded citizens for the State. He cannot do that if lie is ill remunerated. High efficiency and high pay must go together. I should like for my own part to see the salaries of teachers so high that, in view of their great services, we might expect that a majority of teachers should have high university qualifications. I am not exaggerating when I say that at no previous period have we had such need for highly qualified teachers. Everyone knows that the generation which is at present at school will have to solve problems which go to the very basis and foundation of industrial and social life. The problems which are coming up for the generation now at school require the highest mental cultivation and the keenest perception, not merely to solve, but even to understand.

I should like to say a word about training colleges. I am sure that every hon. Member knows quite well what are the qualities that are required for the profession of teaching, even although he has not been a member of a school board. What the teacher requires, in addition to knowledge, is a certain enthusiasm for the work, a power of handling large classes of young people, and the faculty of clear and fresh illustration. I do not think for my part that it requires a long residence at a training college for a man to find out whether he is fitted for teaching or not. A very few months at school will show him whether he is fit for the job, and if he does not find out for himself the pupils will very soon find out. They can see through a man who cannot rule, and they have no hesitation in neglecting their tasks when they find themselves under such a man. I do not think that Scottish education would suffer one bit though every training college in the land were closed to-morrow. A great part of the time passed in these institutions is passed over dull routine and dry, mechanical task work, and what is called method. The main charges that I make against the training colleges are that the general education of our future teachers is being neglected, that the curriculum is congested, that the study of English and modern languages is rapidly decaying, and that, so great are the classes in number that anything like intimate and personal supervision of the pupil is impossible. The sooner there is a radical change in these schools the better in order that those who go there may have the possibility of some tincture of the humanities.

As to the universities, in respect of which we have had an eloquent and enlivening speech from the hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Craik) this afternoon, they have often been called temples of industrious peace, and I have no doubt they are. They have done well by the country and the country has done particularly well by them. A professorship in a Scotch university has always been regarded, even by the most brilliant Oxford and Cambridge scholars, as one of the most desirable posts in the British Empire. That really is so, if you will look at the list of our professors. Consequently hon. Members will see that a board or senate of such professors, clothed with the scholarship and the prestige of their situation, is very difficult to match for genuine importance. That just shows what we think of education in Scotland. I say that there is hardly a single person in Scotland who would venture to contradict or dispute with a university senator. You have to come to London, to the unsusceptible, unimpressionable officials of the Treasury, before you find anyone who thinks himself competent to dictate to a university professor. I am afraid that I must charge the Treasury with not being delicate enough in their treatment of our Scotch university professors. It is quite true that the Treasury grant certain sums of money to our universities, but they attach conditions. Instead of venturing to suggest, they send dawn their peremptory command. Such indelicate action is regarded as an interference with the autonomy of the university. It was very easy to understand how such a thing came about. For my part, it seems to me sometimes as if even a university could have too much autonomy. Sitting away apart on the heights above the clang and the dust of the market place, there is a real danger, to my mind, of the universities becoming antiquated and out of touch with modern conditions.

When they receive a Grant they must always really expect to have some kind of stimulus from without. For let it be remembered that the universities exist for the benefit and the advantage of the country, and it should not be forgotten that the universities at the present moment exercise a very real and very widespread dominion over the secondary schools of the country. Anyone who has been in a secondary school knows that the programme of secondary schools is very largely determined by a consideration of the subjects that the universities consider of importance for their bursaries and degrees. Therefore our Parliamentary control over secondary education in Scotland is bound to be altogether illusory unless we have some kind of influence with the universities too. The universities, broadly speaking, represent the ancient style of instruction in which the classic languages were predominant. I do not altogether blame them for that, because it is right that they should have such a predilection. But I object altogether at this time of day, when culture is obtainable from so many different sources, that there should be a penalty of disability attached to any subject at all by an irresponsible and biassed authority. Though I have made these criticisms, yet I endorse the remarks which fell from the lips of other hon. Members. I think that the Education Department have accomplished a really creditable year's work. I say so after having studied thoroughly all the Blue Books that have come from the Secretary for the Department. Our highest glory in Scotland has been that unquenchable desire of the nation for higher instruction, and I do not think that this House of Commons could be better employed than in devising means for the perpetuation of that noble tradition. Education causes the character of the country to take on its peculiar methods. Education, after all, is something moral. It is not merely the accumulation of facts, but the formation of habits, the refinement of taste, and the love of right things; and whatever we may think of the subjects that ought or ought not to be included in the domain of secondary education, this, at least, I think is certain, that no subject honestly faced and well and carefully learned loses its effect because the faculty and the habit of facing difficulties remains through life, and it is that, after all, that counts.


I intend in this Debate to speak about rural school progress in Scotland, but so much has already been said on the subject, and all the arguments have been put so effectively, that I do not intend to detain the House further than to say that I accept the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. Holmes), when he said that the secondary education which we wish to have in the rural schools of Scotland is not the secondary education which one gets in technical schools, but that general culture which has been characteristic of those schools in the past. I speak for a county with a large number of those rural schools which have produced for the universities of Scotland a very large number indeed of brilliant students, and I sympathise with the contention that the Education Board during the last year or two has been striking a blow at their prestige. I trust, however, that in the years to come they will find that the Education Board will approach their point of view with much greater sympathy. What I desire to refer to now is a point which is of peculiar interest in the Highlands of Scotland—that is, the inclusion among the subjects in the leaving certificate curriculum of the language of Scotland, namely, Gaelic. Personally, I know there are a great many teachers in the North of Scotland who have approached Sir John Struthers on the subject. I do hope that in future that subject will be included in the curriculum for the leaving subjects.

It has been argued that a subject which is included at present in the lower grade cannot possibly be included in the higher grade. I need hardly say that if you include Italian or Spanish or any other second language in the higher grade there is no reason in the wide world why you should not include Gaelic. It is a language which has a very large literature and a very interesting grammar, and it is one which is bound to be of use to the Highland child who is bilingual. I cannot understand the argument which is adduced that the caching of Gaelic in the higher standards can be of no use to a child born in the Highlands. The case is exactly the contrary, because if you do insist upon a child being taught a second language there is no language which is more useful to the child than the language which he hears from his birth upwards, and which is associated with the name of the rivers, mountains, and places among which he is very likely to spend the remaining part of his life. Therefore, I would impress on the Secretary for Scotland that he should use his very best endeavours to accede to the request of the great majority of the masters in the Highland schools and get the subject included in the higher standards. I have myself gone so far as to say that I should very willingly act as Elaminer in that subject and settle the papers, and I do think that if a second language is insisted on no better second language could be got for the Highland schools than the language which I have mentioned. It is not necessary to refer to other points which have been gone into thoroughly by other Members, but I do wish to impress upon the Secretary for Scotland that he should make a special point to have that language included in the higher standard next year. By doing so he would show that the interest which the Scotch Education Department has given to Highland schools has in no way decreased.


My right hon. Friend must agree that the Debate this afternoon, from the detailed speech of my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh down to the lively and interesting speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Govan, has been instructive and businesslike. The hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities complained that the hon. Member for East Edinburgh indulged too freely in platitudes in his speech. After all, by the time that a subject has reached that stage of maturity in public discussion which entitles it eitner to legislation or to the discussion on administration that we are engaged in this afternoon it has undoubtedly reached the stage of being platitudinous, and I should have thought that the last thing that the hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities would have suggested was that this House is necessarily a palace of originality. It is hardly, as he knows, a palace of truth, let alone of originality, and I think if he reads his own speech to-morrow morning in the OFFICIAL REPORT he will find that along with most speeches delivered in this House it is open to the charge of containing platitudes. Therefore, I am not going to claim that anything which I bring forward this afternoon is novel or original, and I am not going to cover ground which already has been covered. I want for one moment to discuss the general position of the Scotch Education Department. We are very proud in this country of having established the system of government which leaves very large powers to the initiative of each community. We parade our pride of local government in the face of the whole world, and declare that that is the best way of carrying on the administration of a country. Of course, at the same time, we set up in each case' an administrative central department to act as a corrective to the various local authorities, dealing with various subjects of local government and in the case of Scottish education I am not going to join the large band of those who have flung indiscriminate criticism at the heads of the Scottish Education Department. I am not going to put the case against the Department as high as it has been put in the past, because I am aware that the opinion which has already found expression this afternoon that we owe a very deep debt of gratitude to the Scottish Education Department is a true opinion, and an opinion which, generally speaking, no one who knows the facts can for one moment challenge. But, at the same time we have failed to set up any strong link between the local authorities and the Education Department. No doubt if the Scottish Education Department fulfilled its supposed constitutional functions, and was really the Committee of His Majesty's Privy Council on Education, that criticism would not be valid, but anyone who looks at the composition of the Committee of the Privy Council will see at once that distinguished and able as is everyone of the men who compose it, at the same time everyone of them is so full of other public affairs as to be entirely unable to devote any attention whatever to the work of the Department over which he is supposed to have some sort of oversight. That point is brought home to my mind with great force by the two signatures which are appended to the Report of the Committee of Council on Education in Scotland, 1912–13. The first signature is that of Lord Morley. I imagine that we shall have very little fault to find, if I may so express it, with the intellectual meat purveyed by the Department presided over by Lord Morley of Blackburn. But what, after all, has Lord Morley of Blackburn to do with the administration of this Department? My right hon. Friend will correct me if I am wrong, when I say that Lord Morley does not set foot across the threshold of the Scottish Education Department from one end of the year to the other. I think I am right in saying that the Committee of Council which is supposed to deal with education in Scotland, is simply one of the many constitutional fictions to be found in the British Constitution.

When the Committee was originally set up, the intention was the very opposite from that which has resulted. No one ever intended that this Committee should be a fictitious one. It was intended that the best men that could be got to deal with the administration of education in Scotland should be appointed on the Committee of Council to deal effectively with the whole subject. I do not think it implies any sweeping criticism of the Scottish Education Department itself to say that we stand in need to-day of something approaching a Scottish Council of Education. I am not going to dogmatise either as to the functions of that body or as to its necessary composition, but I do believe that we should have some kind of consultative body by the side of the Scottish Education Department to act as a platform for public discussion of questions of Scottish education, and to act as a kind of channel through which the criticisms and complaints of the Scottish local education authorities in Scotland can reach the Scottish Education Department with some more weight and authority than they now possess. My right hon. Friend has more than once poured cold water on the suggestion that there was much discontent with general education in Scotland at this moment. I am afraid I cannot agree with him. Though I am not going to attempt to analyse the causes of discontent which do undoubtedly exist, it is only fair to the Department to say that some of those causes are entirely outside its control. One very notable cause has already been discussed this afternoon, namely, the position of educational finance in Scotland, and I most heartily agree with the hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities, that it was high time we set about meeting the educational needs of Scotland on a general financial basis of her own. I expressed the view not very long ago in this House, and I repeat it, that our educational needs are a great advance upon, and are different from those of England, and in this, as in everything else, the needs of our financial position should not be judged simply and solely as a proportion of the needs of England. Everyone who studies, first of all, the educational history of the two countries, and, secondly, the present educational services of the two countries, is driven to the conclusion that these considerations, and those considerations alone, should govern the decisions of the Treasury in making educational Grants, and the sooner we get rid of the idea that Scotland is simply a proportion of England the better will every public service in Scotland prosper.


Who is to pay?


We pay a very large surplus into the Imperial Treasury from Scotland, and we do not claim to get anything like the whole of that surplus back. We are perfectly willing to pay our share of the Imperial services, but we believe that the greatest Imperial work which Scotland Ins achieved in the past, and is now performing is the Scottish educational system, which has grown up through so many centuries, and which is so far in advance of the educational system in England. I want to deal with one or two points in the Report, which I must say I have read with the greatest possible interest. The first is one which has been brought before me by more than one of my Constituents, namely, the position of teachers who really have fallen between the superannuation in Scotland and the proposals in England—that is to say, that persons who have served a certain amount of time in Scotland, and have been transferred to England before the present proposals were brought into effect, complain that a certain part of their active educational service is not allowed to count for the purpose of superannuation. I put this point to the right hon. Gentleman last year. Though I admitted then, as I admit now, that it is a point small in dimensions, and not a great expense to the Treasury, yet it is not less vital to a certain number of people. There is a further question referred to on page 14 of the Report, as follows:— At no time has primary education been regarded in Scotland as simply a matter of instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and at the present time less than ever is it so regarded. The problem is how to use the various subjects of instruction so as to develop all the faculties of the child, to elicit his sympathies, exercise his intelligence, regenerate his impulses, cultivate his faculty of observation, and improve his power of expression. And the Report goes on to say:— This is a high and difficult art, demanding for its exercise thoughtful, devoted, and well-trained teachers. The Education Department might have added, "and teachers who are not overworked." What I mean by overworked is this: Though a great deal of most excellent work has been done to reduce the size of the classes in Scottish schools, I should like to see a little more done in that direction, and I particularly ask my right hon. Friend how far he has got in his negotiations with the local authorities in regard to the size of classes. I find here that the average number of teachers to pupils in every elementary school in Scotland is one to thirty-seven. [An HON. MEMBER: "Thirty-six."] My hon. Friend says thirty-six. That is, I grant, an enormous advance on what prevailed not very long ago in Scotland, and I am sure the nation is day by day reaping the benefit of smaller classes. But this duty, de-scribed, and very eloquently described, in the Report of the Scottish Education Department, can never be truly and amply fulfilled until the classes are even smaller than at present. On that point I hope my right hon. Friend will have something to say when he rises to reply on the Debate. One further point: I am very glad to find that the system of exchange between Scotland and foreign countries has the complete commendation of the Education Department. I wish to draw my right hon. Friend's attention to what I must call the gross disparity between the treatment of France and the treatment of Germany. I find there are thirty-six candidates for whom engagements were secured in France in 1912 and only two of them in Prussia. I do not know whether it is the case that this result is due to the somewhat discountenancing attitude taken up by the Department for some years back to the study of German in Scotland.

I remember the very bitter complaints made by teachers of German in the Scottish universities against the Department for the way in which they discouraged the study of German, and I should have thought, at this time of day, that it was hardly necessary for anyone in this House to draw attention to that point, which is one of most vital significance, for if we regard the direction of modern commerce we find that the German language in future will be much more universal than the French language, and in a commercial education a knowledge of the German language is undoubtedly of more impor- tance than French. I invite some small explanation from the right hon. Gentleman on the disparity between France and Germany in that respect. I frankly welcome the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, and hope that it will be extended in the near future. That is the sum and substance of the remarks which I desire to make this afternoon, and while I thank the right hon. Gentleman, I would, if I may venture to do so, suggest that he should take greater pains to discover the discontent which actually does exist, and, if he does so, I think he will find that there is some need for closer contact and more smooth working between the local authorities and the Scottish Education Department. In criticising that Department I thoroughly agree with the words of a member of the Edinburgh school board, spoken to me not long ago, "The more you watch the working of the school board in Scotland the more convinced you are of the need of a stern central department."

6.0 P.M.

Captain MURRAY

The hon. Member who has just spoken expressed the desire to see set up, side by side with the Scottish Education Department, what I might call an advisory council. I venture humbly to endorse the tributes paid to the Scottish Education Department, but I did find myself in agreement with the hon. Member when he said that the Scottish Education Department, at times, is out of touch with Scottish public opinion. As an instance of it, upon occasions on which the Scottish Education Department has issued Minutes dealing with one subject or another, within a few months of their having been issued Scottish opinion has become antagonistic to them, and the Minutes have had to be withdrawn. I refer particularly to the Minute 450 which was issued dealing with the payment of Grant by instalments, and to the Minute in regard to the size of classes. Those Minutes and circulars were issued and Scottish opinion, and the opinion of the school boards was found to be opposed to them. I do think, if there were in existence an advisory council somewhat in the form suggested by the hon. Member for Perth, that a safeguard would be set up against Minutes and circulars being issued by the Department which are obviously not in accordance with the views of the school boards and Scottish public opinion. I do hope that the Secretary for Scotland will bear the suggestion in mind of the hon. Member for Perth, and will give it his favourable consideration. I desire to say a word in respect of certain remarks which have fallen from hon. Gentlemen in the course of this Debate in connection with the enlargement of school board areas in Scotland. The hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Sir H. Craik) said that he did not consider a Royal Commission on the question of areas would advance the subject at all, and the hon. Member for Banffshire (Captain Waring) said very much the same thing. I am inclined to agree with both those hon. Gentlemen. I do not think that the way this subject should be approached is by way of Royal Commissions, but at the same time I find myself heartily in agreement with the hon. Member for Banffshire that we might have some sort of report and some idea as to how we are to go to work to enlarge the administrative school areas in Scotland. The hon. Gentleman even went so far as to say that the areas might be enlarged under the Act of 1908, by drawing parishes together as has been done in certain cases. I do not think that is the way to go to, work. I think it is necessary to have a properly constituted Committee to investigate the subject of areas, and to issue a report in the ordinary way. I do not think any conclusion can be arrived at on this subject in any haphazard manner. At the present moment there are wide differences of opinion in Scotland as to whether or not areas ought to be enlarged. In every county in Scotland, I venture to say, there will be found two sets of opinion differing widely, not only as to whether the areas ought or ought not to be enlarged, but also as to whether if the area, is enlarged, it should take the form of county or district as the case may be.

I think the time has arrived when this matter ought to be investigated. More and more throughout Scotland persons who take an interest in this subject are beginning to discuss it amongst themselves. In the county I have the honour to represent, Kincardineshire, a very interesting experiment, I may call it so, in this way has taken place, by the amalgamation, with two exceptions, of all the school boards throughout the county. These school boards send representatives to the Central School Board Association of Kincardineshire, and those representatives meet together from time to time and discuss questions of interest to each school board separately, and of interest to the school boards in the county as a whole. That, I think, is an indication of the way in which matters are tending towards larger areas, certainly in the county which I represent. I do earnestly hope that the Secretary for Scotland will not brush aside the suggestions that have been made as to inquiry, but that he will hold out to us some hope to-day that an inquiry into the subject may take place in order that the various opinions that exist on the subject in Scotland may have some guidance, and in order that if it be decided to enlarge the areas that steps may rapidly be taken with that end in view.


I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken, that while an inquiry is necessary into the question of areas, a Royal Commission is not the way. Another method simpler and less elaborate and less expensive would, no doubt, give us all the data we need. I would like to commend to the Secretary for Scotland some remarks which fell from the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. F. Whyte) in relation to modern languages, and to emphasise this, in contradistinction to the appeal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ross-shire (Captain Clive), that he should make Gaelic one of the subjects for examination. I think it would be a persecution of the children and a great waste of time to insist upon Gaelic, or even give it an option as a subject of examination. I am a utilitarian in education. Unless we get some mental advantage to the child being taught and some ultimate advantage in his career, I can find no excuse for packing the curriculum with subjects. It is time we recognised that the dead languages should be dead in reality as well as in name. To ask children or students to devote a large portion of their time to the study of languages which are going to be of no use whatever to them during life is really to deny a large amount of education which would be useful to them. I heard of a firm the other day that was willing to give £3,000 per year to any man who knew Spanish, English, French, and Exchange, and they were unable to get a man to do that. I believe modern languages do give great intellectual advantages in study, and also utilitarian advantages for subsequent careers. I hope, therefore, that the Secretary for Scotland will take no further notice of the appeal made to him in respect to Gaelic.

The hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Holmes) said we wanted higher qualifications for our teachers. I am going to suggest two short cuts to physical efficiency and mental efficiency for children that would not necessitate any higher qualifications in our teachers. I spent a large part of Whitsuntide going around Stirlingshire and examining the little village schools. I was impressed first of all with the healthiness of the appearance of the children, and with the fact that they were all well-clad and apparently well-fed, and with the diligence and devotion and earnestness of the teachers, but I came to the conclusion that there were two things which could be brought to those schools with great advantage to the children, and which would involve practically little or no further expense, and which do not call for any higher qualifications. There are ways of making education attractive and interesting, and there are ways of developing the body and the mind which do not involve a great amount of discipline nor a great amount of high qualifications in the teacher. Those are what I may call the short cuts to physical and mental efficiency. I think in those schools which I visited in Stirlingshire, and also in the schools throughout the Kingdom, we could bring to the children two great advantages by supplying more facilities for swimming and more facilities for reading. I think physically we do not do what we might to develop our children at school, and I think intellectually we do not do what we might to develop their minds. Let me just devote a little time to those two matters of giving physical efficiency and mental efficiency in a simple, inexpensive way, and in an attractive way also. We read in the papers this morning the alarming fact of thirteen cases of drowning during this holiday. That seems to me to be an appalling figure. I looked up the figures and I found that there were 3,000 cases of drowning in Great Britain last year. Those are all preventable accidents.

In an island Kingdom like ours there should be very little excuse for anyone not being able to swim. It should be taken as a necessary accomplishment; it should be one of the primary and basal physical exercises which could be done quite simply by means of the schools being provided with swimming baths or having them in their vicinity. Children take to the water almost like ducks. They require little or no teaching, but the opportunity. In a country like Scotland, with an abundant supply of pure and soft water, there is no reason why every school or group of schools should not have a concrete bed for a swimming bath. This would allow them, for at least four months in the year, to practise swimming, for which they would require little or no teaching. As an accomplishment, and for the prevention of accidents, the small amount of expense that would be called for would be justified. If you think of the value from the physical point of view, there is no exercise anyone can take which produces such healthy, wholesome, physical development as swimming. Cricket is largely a recreation and football is largely a recreation. Those are not developmental exercises. To fulfil the function of development, you want uniform development of the whole of the body and the organs of the body. That is accomplished in swimming. Thus, as a preventative of consumption the lung development which takes place in the swimmer is a development which cannot be equalled in any other physical exercise. For the prevention of disease, and from the point of view of physical development and of attractive recreation to the children themselves, I think that all our schools might be provided with inexpensive swimming baths, with great physical advantage to those concerned.

The other advantage I would bring to the children would be facilities for reading. If you go through the school books of the children, as I did in the schools of Stirlingshire, you will find that the amount of reading that is given to them is very small indeed. It is, after all, reading that makes the learned and intellectual man. I think it was Johnson who said that five hours' reading per day along any particular line would produce a learned man. Reading would do infinitely more for the children than any other study. It is an expensive thing to provide books, but I think very great advantage and immeasurably increased facilities would come to those children if you could supply periodicals. I see no reason whatever why a school board newspaper or journal could not be supplied periodically either once a week or once a month. There is a journal that is known as the "Children's Magazine" which is ideal in this respect. For attractiveness, for wholesome reading, for moral influence, I know of nothing to place in a child's hands so valuable as this popular periodical. I have no shares in it, nor am I in any way interested in it, but I have sent it to different parts of the world where I have relatives and friends, regularly for a large number of years. I think that if we supplied by means of a periodical the extra amount of reading required by these children, it could be done without any expense whatever. It should be a weekly journal supplied every Friday to the advanced students in the school, and Monday might be fixed as the day on which the lesson would be taken on the journal. The children would have it to read at the weekend. They would read it for its own sake; they would learn in an attractive way, and acquire a taste for reading which would probably serve them all through life. It could be done without any cost whatever to the State. The Department could set up an editorial and managing staff, and if advertisements were inserted there would be no expense whatever. The journal would have a very large circulation; the advertisements should be pictorial and educational, and the editor would be able to select them. In that way, without any extra expense whatever, you could provide an enormous amount of reading matter, and cultivate that taste for reading which I think is so valuable. It would be very easy to quote great authors and statesmen in proof of the assertion that the equipment for life is not altogether made up of the mental drilling in school, but of the varied and intensive reading after leaving school. At school you can discipline and direct the mind, but the real value and study of life comes later. This system of bringing attractive reading matter to the students would also bring attractive reading matter to the homes. Many of the homes which I visited in the villages of Stirlingshire were absolutely destitute of any reading matter whatever. Such a journal as I suggest would bring even to adults a large amount of admirable reading matter. Thus you would lay the foundations of a taste for reading which would do infinitely more for the homes of the children in the rural districts than any suggestion with regard to higher qualifications of teachers. I commend these suggestions to the notice of my right hon. Friend.


My hon. Friend (Dr. Chapple) on this sultry August afternoon has made the most refreshing suggestion that swimming baths should be provided for school children in Scotland. I think he would get more support if he started to work out a suggestion of swimming baths for Members of this House. In regard to his own suggestion, the ratepayers of Scotland would probably have something to say. I rise to support the suggestion in reference to the setting up of a consultative committee, to bring the Scottish Education Department in London into close touch with local sentiment in Scotland. As at the present time there is a lull in the controversy regarding educational matters in Scotland it might be well to consider this matter more carefully. The Secretary for Scotland has advanced strong and forcible objections against transferring the Education Department to Scotland. I hope he will reconsider the question of setting up an advisory committee such as has been suggested. Advisory committees are a modern method of solving legislative and administrative problems. It was carried to a fine art under the National Insurance Act. The Board of Trade, too, have found advisory committees a considerable help in settling industrial disputes. I am inclined to think that such a committee, composed as it would be of keen educational men, would help the Scottish Education Department to speed up backward school boards in Scotland in this connection it is well to remember that the administration of education differs in a marked degree from the administration of other State Departments. At the War Office, the Admiralty, and other Departments, they have State officials to carry out their policy. In education you have to depend upon the public spirit of men and women serving on the school boards up and down the country; therefore it is very necessary in all contemplated changes to carry local opinion with you. Because I think that the continual wrangling during the last few years has militated against the success of education in Scotland, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider this matter. I mention this in no spirit of hostility to the Scottish Education Department, convinced as I am of the splendid work they are doing for education in Scotland.

The hon. Member for Midlothian (Major Hope) referred to the question of school buildings. In this matter the Department might help school boards more than they do. The expenditure upon school buildings has amounted to £4,500,000 during the last ten years. I understand it is the practice for school boards to prepare their own designs, get estimates, and then send them to the Education Department in London for confirmation. I suggest that the Department should have in their possession a large variety of designs, which could be placed at the disposal of any school boards about to erect buildings. If this matter were placed in the hands of a keen, highly-trained specialist, it would tend to economy in the erection of buildings throughout the country. Reference has been made to the Annual Report of the Scottish Education Department. If in future we could get a clear summary showing the amount of money received by Scotland from the Imperial Exchequer, it would help us to understand the finances of Scottish Education better than we do to-day. We have under the heading "Education (Scotland) Fund" a very clear summary showing the reasons why certain sums are paid into that fund, but we have no general statement with regard to the other money received by Scotland from the Imperial Exchequer. There is a general impression that in Scotland we pay a larger sum towards the cost of education than is done in England. According to my inquiries into the matter, that is hardly correct. Taking the total sum spent on education in Scotland I find that the cost of education per child comes to 2s. for each school week, or £4 4s. 0d. a year, and I have seen it stated that the similar figure for England is £4 3s. 0d. So that there is practically little difference between the two.

We heard a week or two ago that the Minister for Education was to introduce an Education Bill for England next year. I hope that if that Bill passes, as we sincerely trust it will, Scotland will receive a proportionate Grant in comparison with the sum paid over to the educational authorities in England under that Bill. Year by year the Scottish authorities are pressing the Treasury for increased Grants towards education. I have analysed the figures to ascertain whether the Imperial Treasury is paying as much to-day as it used to do towards the cost of education in Scotland. Taking the figures of the last five years, I find that the Grants from the Imperial Exchequer amount to 53 per cent. of the total cost of education in Scotland, while for the previous five years the proportion was exactly the same. Local authorities are apt to forget that if the State pays a larger proportion of the cost of education they will lose the local control which they value so highly. It would be out of order to suggest other sources of revenue from which local authorities could raise money for educational purposes, but I hope to do so at the proper moment. I would urge my right hon. Friend to consider favourably the proposals which have been submitted to him this afternoon.


I desire to support those who have pressed for an inquiry into the question of areas. Nobody who has given even the most superficial attention to the question of education in Scotland, especially in the rural districts, can have failed to be impressed with the vital nature of the question. The smallness of the areas in many parts of Scotland is a very unsatisfactory feature. It is, however, a very delicate matter. All sorts of difficulties are involved, connected with amalgamations, the suppression of offices, and so forth. These, however, are very germane to an inquiry such as has been suggested. In many offices officials are actuated to a certain extent by the old proverb Quieta non movere. Nobody can quarrel with my right hon. Friend if in this vexed and difficult question of areas he to a certain extent followed that adage. If that adage should be present to his mind it is obviously the duty of those who think this a matter of great importance to see that the quiet which now reigns should be disturbed. I hope, under these circumstances, the right hon. Gentleman will give his attention to the matter and grant the inquiry which has been suggested.

Colonel GREIG

I desire to add one or two comments to what has been said this afternoon on the question of Scottish education. One or two points have struck me in reading these extremely interesting Reports with which we have been furnished by the Scottish Education Department. They deserve from us in this House that we should dot the "i's" and cross the "t's," because there are one or two things that we ought to bring to the attention of the school boards themselves. I have no comments or criticisms to make upon the Department itself. It may be that what I say now may not quite commend itself to the school boards; but as they are the public functionaries through whom the education of the children of Scotland is being conducted on behalf of the nation at large, this I think is the opportunity that we should take to say where we think their administration might be rather better than it is. There are only three points to which I desire to call the attention of the House. The first is that the school boards should take care when the children leave school, after their educational period, to take some advantage of the powers which the Act of 1908 confers upon them, to seek employment for the children passing out of their control. I notice in the Report of the Committee of Council on Education (page 8) this sentence:— Little further progress appears to have been made by the school boards in the direction of establishing agencies under Section:3, Sub-section (5) for aiding the parents of children leaving school in the choice of future employment. It is quite true there are Committees composed of the representatives of the school boards, the Labour Exchanges, and the county councils with the object stated, but I think more advantage ought to be taken by the school boards of this provision in the Act which gives them a power to take steps, and thus afford the children a start in life. The next point to which I wish to call attention is one that one would not desire to dwell too much upon, and that is the personal cleanliness of the children in the schools. There are certain districts in the country where the school boards do not appear to have been as eager to have improvement in this respect as in other parts of the country. It is time that where the State has stepped in and congregated in those schools large numbers of children that in every possible way we should do our best to insist upon the school boards exercising any of the powers that they have to see that the children generally have a fair chance of a good education without being hampered by the presence amongst them of children who are not so particular as far as personal habits are concerned. If tactful methods are adopted with regard to the parents of these particular children, experience has shown that an immense improvement may take place. A great deal more improvement will take place in the future if the school boards will properly exercise their functions. The last matter to which I want to call attention is a somewhat interesting one, as it affects the question which we often hear discussed, namely, whether the nation as a whole is becoming inferior from the point of view of physique. That leads to the whole question of medical inspection in the schools. As is pointed out in a very able and first report on the late inspection in the schools: the question had come before the country and Parliament owing to the recruiting returns for the Army. These reports led to the Royal Commission of 1902. It was said:— The recruiting returns had persistently shown the disquieting proportion of unfit applicants for military service, and this had become almost the sole indication, At least on a large scale, of the widespread defects in health and physique. Reading these reports I think we may find Some consolation, because I find here this statement—and it is one which I think is borne out by another statement which has recently appeared in a well known book: Allegations are made everywhere that the physique of the nation is deteriorating, that growth is interfered with by the process of education, that the children do not exhibit the same stamina as they did a generation Ago, and generally, that the process of physical deterioration has within recent years received a serious acceleration. There have only been very few direct facts bearing upon that point, and the result of this medical inspection in Scotland is to anticipate very largely that we shall have shortly a whole and a larger series of facts to form a conclusion upon the matter. I See it shows that the position is not so hopeless as some people imagine. "It appears that the average height"—and the physical condition of the children will show itself afterwards in the height of the men — "of the men who were recruited for the original regiment of Gordons was very little more than 5 ft. 3 in. The whole of the recruits for the British Army last year averaged nearly 3 in. more in height. Only five men in the original regiment were more than 6 ft. 1 in. Soldiers recruited from the North of Scotland to-day make a very different showing." So says Mr. Bulloch in his book. I think these facts might just as well be known, because we hear on all sides statistics to the effect that the race is deteriorating. On the other hand, I myself believe it is improving. One hears a good deal of complaint simply because public attention has been directed to the fact, and we are more careful about our sanitation, education, and so on. The more we pay attention to the physical training of the children in the schools and get back to what is at the root of the inferior condition of many of our children—I mean the housing of our population—the more will we tend to increase that physical improvement which, I think, on the whole observation, leads us to believe is going on. I would only like to add that these Reports with which we are being furnished by the Scottish Education Department well deserve attention.


I venture, on behalf of the English, Welsh, and Irish Members who have listened to this Debate, to utter some protest. I protest against the Scotsmen for occupying all the time. I am quite sure—


Is the hon. Member in order in this Debate in raising a question without referring to Scotland?


Class IV. of the Votes is for a sum of £12,250,000, and of that sum Scotland only comes in for three or four millions. Therefore, we are justified in saying that at least the English and Irish interests ought to receive some attention. I want to point out to the Scottish Members present, first of all, that they might have discussed all these questions, and various other Scottish questions besides, if they had raised the matter on Class II., which deals with the salary of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."]


The hon. Member is in error there.


I am very glad to find that the House and myself are put right on that matter. I would only say this: I am in hope that we shall get round in time and before the guillotine falls to Class II., so that I, at any rate, may raise something upon the salary of the Secretary for Scotland. We were practically promised that we should have this salary discussed, and I hope we shall not be deluded in that hope. While I am on my feet voicing the interests of the whole nation and of the Empire at large, I would like to draw attention to one or two items in this Vote which are being neglected. First of all, there is the British Museum. The British Museum is the possession of Scotsmen, Irishmen, and Englishmen, and I want to see that museum used more and more. I will make only one suggestion in this connection, namely, that the opportunities for storage at the British Museum should be extended. There is plenty of land adjoining the British Museum which is now being offered to the London University. I hope the London University will not take that land, but that it will eventually be used for the extension of the British Museum. I will give an instance of what I mean. I have lately in my spare moments been indulging in the occupation in looking up the old speeches of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. I have had to turn up some files of newspapers of quite recent date, and I find that those newspapers have had to be sent for from Hendon; that they are stored in some warehouse in Hendon, and are only produced once a week by means of a motor car which comes down from Hendon to the British Museum. As a result if you want to look up a speech of ten years ago you have to wait a week before you can do so. That is a great disadvantage to some people. It may be an advantage to those people who wish their ancient speeches to remain hidden in the recesses of a remote locality: to myself it is a serious disadvantage. I hope this matter will be taken up.

There is another matter to which I wish to call attention. I refer to the Vote for Stafford House. I have not had an opportunity of calling attention to this matter before. Stafford House is going to be one of the most interesting and proud possessions which we shall have in the centre of London. I am very pleased that the Vote is down for £2,600 to place that historic building into such a condition that it may be used. I understand that in a few months the London Museum will be not only there but will be accessible to all, and capable of being developed beyond the condition that it now is in Kensington Palace. Part of Stafford House is to be used for the entertainment of distinguished visitors and strangers from abroad. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I do not think Scotsmen will come in, because, after all, they are not strangers in this land: they are more at home here than on their native heath. I wish specially to point out something really which ought to be done so that we may be able to entertain our distinguished foreign visitors in a manner commensurate with our wealth and with that welcome which we would wish to extend. I am sure we all wish to have distinguished visitors coming to this land from time to time and we cannot do all that we would wish to entertain them. There may be, and I trust there soon will be, some public means of entertaining in some way or other the distinguished visitors that come from abroad at Stafford House. Part of the building—


On a point of Order. Have the remarks of the hon. Member anything to do with a Vote?


Stafford House is included in Class IV., which we are discussing as a whole. For the purpose of the convenience of Scottish Members, however, it was arranged that the evening should be appropriated to Scotland. I have not the power to stop the hon. Member.


I am not going on very long, Mr. Speaker, but these matters are just as interesting and important to Scotsmen as to Englishmen. I do not think hon. Members ought to take up that very parochial attitude that some of them do. This is a very large Vote, and many questions have not come under consideration at all in Committee of Supply, and I think, therefore, we ought to have an opportunity rather of enlarging the area of our discussion.

The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. McKinnon Wood)

I think we have had a very reasonable and uncontroversial Debate, and I certainly shall not introduce controversial topics. There was one suggestion of a new procedure for education in Scotland mentioned by several speakers, that is the question of the enlargement of areas. That was coupled with a suggestion that we might have a Committee or a Commission to consider this matter. Everyone recognises that that is a matter of difficulty and controversy, but I should like to make one preliminary suggestion. We all recognise that there is a great deal to be said for the enlargement of areas, not only from the teacher's point of view, but also from the larger point of view; that is, from the point of view of administration. particularly in secondary education. Larger areas would afford many facilities and, of course, from the financial point of view there is a great deal to be said for larger areas. The difficulties that exist in many parts of Scotland where you have very small school board areas and small rateable value are very serious difficulties and would, in some parts of Scotland, be met by larger areas, although not completely, in all cases. But this is a question which has always been advanced from two points of view. There is the point of view of those who admit the difficulties, but who state they will be counterbalanced by the loss of immediate local interest. If you had too large an area, you would not have so good a representation of the people upon the school board because you would be limited to persons who could afford the time and the money to attend distant meetings. I suggest to hon. Members on both sides of the House that they should consider this question and make representations to me upon it. I am not at all sure an inquiry is necessary and I have no means otherwise of knowing how far there is a consensus of opinion on the subject, or how far the old acute difference of opinion, which undoubtedly existed, still remains.

My hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh expressed the desire that I might have made a general statement in regard to education at the beginning of the Debate. He pointed out there has been a great change in the methods of Scottish education within the last ten years. That is perfectly true. There has been a great change and a very important change. The old interest of Scotland in higher education has not diminished but has increased, and the status of higher education in Scotland has been greatly raised. But there were two reasons why I did not think it desirable to begin the Debate by a general statement. One was that a short time ago I thought it wise to do so in the case of agriculture, because we were dealing with a new authority and a new Act of Parliament, but in this case where the subject is so familiar I think it less necessary; but the other reason is, I have a recollection that my noble predecessor once began a Debate on education by starting a general review such as desired by the hon. Member, and he was accused of having taken up the time that should be taken up by other Scottish Members. I thought I would not expose myself to a like rebuke. Of course it is a little difficult to give satisfaction to all, because it is possible to be attacked from so many points of view. However, this question has not been undiscussed. It was discussed again and again, and particularly the question of higher education in the primary rural schools. That question has been frequently discussed. We have had very valuable Reports issued by the Scottish Education Department, and which have been referred to more than once, in terms of appreciation, in this Debate.

I should like to say that my position in regard to secondary education in Scotland is simply this: I recognise that it is necessary to maintain the system which has grown up during the last ten years. There is no doubt that there was a strong need for improvement in the status of secondary education in Scotland twenty years ago. The university standard was too low, and therefore the standard in the secondary school was too low. Persons were taken into the universities at an earlier age, and they had frequently to attend elementary classes quite out of place in a university. I am not going over these well known facts, but what I want to say is it would be a great blunder if we were to go back on the advance that has been made in secondary education. Perhaps I can give some idea of it by a simple comparison. In 1899, there were about thirty secondary or higher schools, in Scotland. There are now 250, and hon. Members must remember when we are talking about the difficulties of travel and of the children being away from home, how much greater was that difficulty thirteen or fourteen years ago, because you have these 250 schools, spread all over Scotland? There is another point I want to make. I do not think any educationist will deny that it is better for individual pupils, if practicable, that they should receive this higher instruction in secondary schools, where the whole atmosphere is appropriate to such a school, and where the teachers are of a certain standard, than that they should receive it in a primary school. At the same time one knows there are difficulties—difficulties of distance and of money, and that it is very desirable you should give all the opportunities you can to higher instruction in the primary schools, but not to take the place of the secondary school where it is practicable to send the child to such a secondary school. The better secondary education is given in a proper secondary school; the other is a substitute. It is perfectly obvious where the child is getting education from a teacher in a primary school that it cannot have the same effect as if it was received in a properly equipped higher secondary school.

It is quite a mistake to think we do not desire to see primary schools feeding those secondary schools. There are now in Scotland several hundred primary rural schools sending children to secondary schools equipped to enter upon the intermediate course in the second and even in some cases in the third year of that course. The scientific apparatus necessary and referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh is not a very serious matter. A very few pounds will provide all the scientific apparatus which is necessary for the purpose of intermediate education. Of course, the real difficulty is this, not that there are not enough scientifically equipped teachers or enough teachers with university degrees to supply all the schools, or enough turned out of the universities to supply the vacancies, but the difficulty is that the small school boards cannot afford to give the salaries or other inducements that will attract the equipped university graduate to that school. That is the real difficulty, but I want to make it perfectly clear that we are anxious to do all we can to encourage higher instruction in rural primary schools. My hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh raised the question of the inspectorate, and the hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for Glasgow University replied to him quite correctly. If my hon. Friend will allow me, I will take at random from the Returns the qualification of one or two as they come to hand. It is quite a mistake to suppose we only appoint men "who have a classical education. The first man I find here is a Bachelor of Science who took first-class honours in chemistry; the second is an Edinburgh graduate with first-class honours in classics; the third man took honours in physics and various other subjects, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society; the fourth, a classical man, came from Oxford; fifth took honours in mathematics and natural philosophy—


I do not dispute that. But would it not be better to take the inspectorate right down to the last class and give us the proportion of men appointed according to the degrees they hold? I do not press the point, but I think it would be better.

7.0 P.M.


Obviously I have not had time to do that, but there is no doubt that there is a due proportion, because, of course, it would be perfectly absurd to send a man who took first class at Oxford in classics to examine in chemistry or mathematics. We do not commit these absurdities in the Scottish Office, and I cannot help thinking that if my hon. Friend would only realise that we are not absolute idiots, he would allow us to escape some of the criticisms which he pours upon us. The next point made by my hon. Friend was the question of getting more experienced men. There I am entirely in agreement with him. The Scottish Education Department would like to get rid of one particular class and appoint senior men instead of appointing junior inspectors, but, of course, we have to take men who have had a considerable number of years experience, and you must do one of two things. You must add some years for superannuation purposes or you must increase the salary. That is not a matter entirely under our control; it is a matter with which the Treasury has to deal, and the Treasury entertain very strong objections to adding any years to superannuation, though in this case I am not entirely convinced by their argument. That is a difficulty. We should do what my hon. Friend says if we could only get a proper sanction from the Treasury. Before I leave the question of secondary education, I should like to mention a fact which I think is extremely interesting. I have said there are hundreds of schools which are giving higher instruction at the present moment, and that we have multiplied by more than eight times the number of secondary schools in Scotland since 1899. I am glad to say in the matter of secondary education now the proportion of pupils who go from the elementary schools to the higher schools shows figures of which we need not be ashamed. The proportion of children in Scotland going on to the real course of higher instruction is as 1 to 6.5. whereas in England it is 1 to 22, so I think that figure is a very satisfactory one, and when we are criticising higher education in Scotland it is one to be borne in mind. There is one other point in connection with that subject. The difficulty of finding lodgings when children come from rural districts at considerable distances to the towns where the secondary school is situated. That is a real difficulty, and also where they have to come a considerable distance by train. I do not altogether sympathise, but to a large extent I do agree with the hon. Member for Glasgow University, in thinking that it is not quite worthy of the modern race of Scotsmen to make such fuss of a few miles on a bicycle when their grandfathers would have walked as many miles to obtain a much inferior education. But we are very anxious to meet all the real cases, and the experiment which is being tried at Dumfries and Lerwick to provide hostels for secondary students is one which I hope the school boards may take un, and extend. That would meet many of the difficulties mentioned this afternoon. On the question of finance, which will never be absent from any Debate on Scottish education, I must make it perfectly clear that in regard to the proportion paid to Scotland, allowing for all the facts my hon. Friend has brought forward, and admitting that it is quite true and relevant, that when the local taxation money was distributed, Scotland took a larger portion of it for education—it is an interesting fact that Scotland provided for education first and laid down that, if anything else had to go short, it should not be education—allowing for the whole of these things, there is no doubt that Scotland has not been unreasonably treated nor do I think it is very much in the interests of Scotland eternally to be referring to this matter and assuming an air of injury which is not in accordance with the facts. At, the present time Scotland receives out of the Parliamentary Vote for education, excluding administration, inspection, and museums, £2,167,000; the sum which comes from local taxation money is £250,000, whilst the amount taken from the rates in Scotland is £1,644,000, so that Scotland receives from taxation a larger sum than the Scottish ratepayer is called upon to pay. If you take the Grant per head of the population, you will find that Scotland does not suffer in comparison with England. I do not think it would be desirable that I should dwell further upon that point in the in, terests of Scotland. I should like to say a word upon the Grant for medical treatment. I hope we shall pass to-night a Bill giving the school boards in Scotland power to carry on the duties of medical treatment. It is quite true that last year the amount allocated to Scotland for this purpose was £7,500, but I have the authority of the Treasury to say that it is not intended that the Grant should be limited to that fixed sum. What is intended is that the Grant should be in proportion to the needs of the country, and the proportion to be given to Scotland will be the same as that given to England. I hope that meets the point of my hon. Friend, and I think it meets it in a very satisfactory way.

My hon. Friend the Member for Perth spoke as if he imagined that the Scottish Department rather discouraged the study of German. I can assure him that there is nothing further from their thoughts, and they have no preference between French and German, and certainly they are most anxious to encourage the study of German. The reason more students in Scotland take up French and German is exactly the same as prevails in England, and it is partly historic. At any rate, it is not due to the action of the Scottish Department. My hon. Friend the Member for Kincardineshire rather criticised the Department because they put forward two circulars which they had not insisted upon. I had hoped that that might have counted as a virtue, and that it would have shown that this arbitrary Department was open to reason.

Captain MURRAY

I quoted the issue of the circulars and their withdrawal as an illustration of the fact that the Scottish Education Department was not in touch with the views of Scottish authorities on this subject.


It is not that we were not in touch with Scottish opinion but that we were sensitive to it. If we had looked at the matter purely from the educational point of view, and paid no regard to Scottish opinion, we should have insisted upon the provision dealing with the size of the classes. All education authorities are in favour of that course. The reason that view was not pushed was that the Scottish education authorities pressed that certain expenses were falling upon them with considerable weight, and we all thought that in a short time more money would be forthcoming for education all over the Kingdom, and, therefore, we were prepared to delay what was regarded as a necessary educational reform until the financial position was more satisfactory. Undoubtedly dealing with the classes would have affected the voluntary schools rather severely, and that was a consideration we were bound to keep in mind. With regard to Grants by instalments, this was a case where you had a divided opinion in Scotland. I will give an illustration. A Scottish Member came to me and said, "I do not know what to do about this, because half my school boards want the Grant by instalments and the other half do not." The fact of the matter was it really would have suited most of the school boards in Scotland to obtain the Grant by instalments, but there were a few that it would not have suited at all. Under those circumstances, and as it was no interest of ours, we saw no reason why we should force this course upon reluctant school boards. When the school boards met together and asked us to let the matter stand over, with that desire to meet the wishes of school boards and observe the requirements of public opinion in Scotland which always animates the Scottish Education Department, we at once met their views. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirlingshire has spoken of physical exercises and the hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities also referred to the same subject. May I say that there is nothing to prevent school boards providing swimming baths, if they choose to do so, and some of the larger school boards have done so. It is obvious, however, that it would not do for the Scottish Education Department to press for the provision of swimming baths, because I am sure that all my colleagues in the representation of Scotland will agree that in many rural districts such a provision would be regarded as most unpardonable extravagance, and that is a thing which the Department could not possibly approve of. I entirely sympathise with what the hon. Member for Glasgow University said about physical training, especially for lads between fourteen and seventeen years of age, in connection with the continuation classes. There, again, it would have been extremely difficult to put a peremptory and mandatory provision in the Minute requiring physical training.


The Act does that.


But that is quite a different matter. The second Subsection of Section 10 says, "If it is represented to the Department on the petition of not less than ten ratepayers in the district that the school boards are persistently failing in their duty, the Department shall cause inquiries to be made." We have not had any of those requisitions from electors in those districts requiring us to put that provision into force. Although I entirely sympathise with it, I do not think my hon. Friend is right in saying that it is something we could have insisted upon in our Code. To sum up the whole matter, I cannot help thinking that the most important subject we have discussed this afternoon is the old question, in regard to which I received a very important deputation not very long ago, as to the best way of encouraging secondary education in Scotland. We all agree with the hon. Member for Edinburgh that it is one of the most important matters that we should have a very good system of higher education. I could not find, when I received that deputation or even during the discussion this afternoon, that there is any real fundamental difference of opinion between any of us on that point. We are all agreed that the raising of the standard of the university education is a good thing. We all agree that it is a good thing that the standard of secondary education has been raised daring the last few years, and we all want to see the primary schools, as far as practical, acting as feeders to the secondary schools. We want to see the higher instruction promoted in all the grades of the educational system of Scotland, and I do not think there is going to be any real difference of opinion upon that point, certainly not as to the object, and only of the slightest kind, as to the method of the machinery.


I confess that after having read the words of the original Act, and after considering the wishes of the House of Commons upon this matter, that it seems to me the explanation of the Secretary for Scotland is not very convincing. If this House in its wisdom or otherwise laid down that it shall be the duty of these bodies to make provision for certain instructions in regard to the laws of health, I really fail to see why it should not be carried out. If the Secretary for Scotland contends that the wording of the Act does not impose that liability upon the authorities, I cannot understand the plain language which is used in an Act of Parliament. Personally I think it is very regrettable that more attention could not be paid to this subject. It may be that the Department or the supplemental problem has not received any representation from any one in a certain locality, but if the general public, and those who take an interest in the physical training of the children, knew that this power existed and that they could, by making those requisitions, obtain such provision I am certain the right hon. Gentleman would constantly receive such requisitions, and I hope that will be the result of this Debate. I confess I am very disappointed at the attitude the Secretary for Scotland takes up on this question, and I hope the attention which has been drawn to this subject to-day may lead to some better results in the future.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution, put, and agreed to.