HC Deb 22 July 1913 vol 55 cc1968-2012

Postponed proceeding resumed on Question, "That leave be given to introduce a Bill to amend the Law with respect to Grants in aid of building, enlarging, improving, or fittng up elementary schools."—[Mr. J. A. Pease.]

Question again proposed. Debate resumed.


I was venturing, when the Debate was interrupted, to comment on that part of the speech of the President of the Board of Education in which he spoke of the necessity, in the Bill to be introduced next year, of dealing with areas, of increasing the number of autonomous local authorities, and of dealing with that part of our educational administration which is concerned with local authorities and their inter-relations. We all know how important that is. We all know that no wide or extensive Education Bill could fail to take cognisance of that problem. There are two things on it which I hope will be borne in mind by the Government when they deal with the matter. One is that, whatever be the merits or demerits of the Act of 1902, it has had the great disadvantage that it has, in some parts of the country, killed popular interest in education. You do not now get, in many boroughs which are not county boroughs, and in many smaller places, that keenness of interest in education which in some such places formerly existed, and which ought to exist in all such places. I hope when the Government are dealing with the question of machinery, and are considering the question of area, they will remember that devolution in English counties has not been carried to anything like the length it should be carried, and that where you are dealing with a population of small extent it is most desirable there should be enough autonomy to rekindle that spirit of popular interest in education, and to make people feel that they really have power over it and can make their wishes felt.

The other part is also a question of machinery. It is to consider more carefully not the simple problem how the local authority can be made autonomous, but what are to be the relations between the different local authorities. I hope the Government may not, in this Education Bill, seek to provide that kind of uniform system which may apply to towns but does not apply to rural districts, and that there may be due flexibility corresponding to the various circumstances of administration in different parts of England. The right hon. Gentleman referred, with two or three most interesting anecdotes, to the position of private schools. Everybody wishes that private schools should have as high a standard as possible. Undoubtedly the standard of public health is becoming more and more a matter of agreement. There have been speeches by the Lord Chancellor and others in which there have been some indication that the Board of Education, in its healthy and vigorous zeal for supervising education, may really be aiming at getting all the education in this country, including education in private schools and in public schools that seek no Grant, into one system. In that direction lies great danger. You require a variety of education even more in intermediate education than in primary. Where you have schools, be they small private venture schools or great public schools, of wide fame, if they do not seek public money in any form, I hope the Government will be very careful before it brings them under public regulation, and tries to take away that variety and initiative which is their strength. I am sure the Government Will get support in tactfully and carefully helping to raise the standard of hygiene and equipment in private schools, but I trust they will find a way of doing it without impinging improperly or unfairly on their independence, and doing it in a way which recognises there is room and necessity for private enterprise in education as well as for wide Government supervision.

These matters, though they properly formed the greater part of the speech of the President, and must fill a greater part in the present Education Bill, are not matters which, it seems to me, can or ought to have precedence over some other things, all of which point to the growth of enlarged conceptions of education and increased resources for education. While that is right and proper, even before that comes the duty of removing, if possible, from education any sore, any disease, or any injury from which it is suffering. That which has been referred to as a grievance—the single school area—a religious difficulty—is just such a sore and injury to public education in this country. I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend say that the Government propose to deal with the grievance of the single school area. I am confident I am expressing the opinion of many outside this House in all parts of the country when I say that there is great anxiety on this question. For many reasons, in the last few years, no honest attempt has been made to meet that grievance, but I hope that the meeting of the grievance will now be full, fair and adequate, and that no temptation to grandiose schemes will lead the Government to lose sight of it, to put it at a disadvantage, or allow it to be smothered among many other admirable projects which are not quite so pressing. I sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman alike in the magnitude of the task before him, and in the spirit in which he approaches it, and I hope that, as far as possible, this task may be undertaken by the Government and the House with a minimum of party feeling, and with the greatest amount of enthusiasm for education. This is a particularly small instalment of financial justice to education which is embodied in a one-Clause Bill, and I end as I began by urging the right hon. Gentleman and the Government to use every effort to pass it into law this Session, because the smallest instalment of a longstanding debt is both a witness to the fact that the debt is acknowledged and an indication that will be prized throughout the country that the Government do mean to deal with the problem which is the more difficult and the more pressing because, on the one hand, education is suffering from a want of funds, and, on the other hand, the ratepayer throughout the country is exasperated by the delay in securing a long-desired relief.


We have had presented a very small, short narrow Bill, but we have also had a very comprehensive and, if I may be allowed to say so, a very interesting speech from the President of the Board of Education. I wish to say only a few words with regard to one or two points both with regard to the Bill and with regard to general principles. As to the Bill, I understand it to be merely a small Bill dealing with buildings and extensions of schools and with medical service. May I say that the Bill will cause a great deal of—


Perhaps I should correct that expression, because it has fallen from one or two other speakers. The Bill itself does not deal at all with the Grants in connection with medical inspection. The Grant of £50,000 for medical inspection will appear on a Supplementary Estimate, and also the £100,000. But it is not necessary to pass this Bill in order that the £50,000 may be handed over to the local education authorities.


Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say we shall get the £50,000 whether we get the Bill or not, but that we cannot get the £100,000 without the Bill?


I do not want to use any threats, but that is my intention.


As far as the Bill is concerned, then it only deals with the building and extension of schools?


It deals with Sections 96 and 97 of the Act of 1870, which enabled Parliament to hand over to local education authorities, through the Board of Education, £100,000.


The point I want to make is this: I think there will be very great disappointment, especially in necessitous school areas, that that question is not dealt with. The position is really a very difficult one and a very pressing one. Let me take the case of the Constituency I represent. That borough has a very low rateable value, and by the Necessitous Areas Bill a special Grant is made if the elementary education rate exceeds 1s. 6d. in the £. The right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong, but I think that three-quarters of the difference between whatever the rate stands at and 1s. 6d. is or should be paid by the Government. There is this difficulty, the amount of money was apparently fixed and it is not sufficient now to go round entirely. That is not all. In the case of those places where the education rate was not above 1s. 6d. in the £ when that Act was passed, they get nothing at all. What is the position in respect to the borough I represent? Our elementary education rate has gone up to 1s. 11d. in the £. We do not get three-fourths of the 5d. that we ought to get—we get nothing at all. You are really penalising those places which have been economical in the past, but which, thanks largely to the demands made upon them by the Board of Education—they may be perfectly reasonable demands, and I am not saying that they are not—have increased their rates above 1s. 6d. in the £. Those places are getting nothing whatever towards their elementary education, although their rate happens to be a great deal above 1s. 6d. in the £. I venture to think it will be a very great disappointment to every one of the poorer districts in the country if this question is not dealt with at the present time. It is a point that has been pressed upon the Government over and over again. During last year I asked a question of the predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman, pointing out that those places where the rate has gone up above 1s. 6d. since the Act was passed get nothing. The answer I then received was that until the Committee which is inquiring into the relations of Imperial and Local Taxation has reported it was impossible to deal with the question. I do not know when that Committee is going to report. None of us know, and it is put off from year to year. I certainly did think, and these necessitous districts thought, that when a small Bill of this sort dealing with money in connection with education was brought in that grievance would be dealt with, and it will be a great disappointment if it is not dealt with at the present moment.

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, with regard to these extra Grants that are being made towards the building or the extending of schools, on what basis they are to be made? Is there to be a fixed proportion between the amount found by the local authority and the amount to be provided by the Government? If so, that again presses with great hardship on the poorer areas. I can explain that very easily. I will take a place like Bournemouth and a place like Dudley, which I represent. A penny rate in Bournemouth brings in five times what a penny rate produces in Dudley. If you say that the local authority is to pay one-half or one-third or any other proportion you like to fix, obviously it is a much easier task for them to raise their proportion in a rich place like Bournemouth, which I merely take as an example, than it is in a poor place like Dudley, which I take for another example; therefore, it is an important matter that we should know on what principle this new Grant is to be made towards building or any other purpose, including medical service; because unless you set up some sort of sliding scale whereby the poorer districts get more than the richer districts you will continue to inflict a very great hardship upon the poorer districts.

Turning for one moment to the more general aspect of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, I reciprocate the view he expressed that he does not want to provoke the religious difficulty. I cannot help warning him that if he is going to deal with the single school area question upon the lines he apparently indicated in his speech, he will raise the religious difficulty and provoke it in a most acute form. What did the right hon. Gentleman tell us? That he would accept the principle of the wishes of the parents to some extent, but only on one side; that if the parent was in a single school district where there was only a denominational school, then the parent might express a desire, and his desire should be gratified to have his child educated in an undenominational school, and that facilities will be given for the building of new undenominational schools in single school areas of that sort. The right hon. Gentleman failed entirely to deal with the wishes of the parent where there is now only one school, an undenominational school. Surely if the parent is to have the right to choose an undenominational school in the one case, he ought to have the right to choose a denominational school in the other case. If you are going to give facilities to the parent to have his child educated in an undenominational school in the single school areas where there is only a, Church school or something of that sort now, you ought, at the same time, to give to the parent an equal right to demand that in an area where there is only an undenominational school he shall have the opportunity of sending his child to a denominational school.


At the State expense?


Certainly. There must be equal treatment all round. Our system has been built up, and I hope it will continue to remain, upon the principle that the State recognises both denominational and undenominational schools. If you are going to make special provision for the parent whose child can now only go to a denominational school, you must also make provision for the parent who is now in the position that he can only send his child to an undenominational school. That is absolutely fair and just. I did not quite understand what the right hon. Gentleman meant by, I think, a chance expression that the parent should have the chance of sending his child to the clear air of an undenominational school. Personally, I think that the air of a denominational school is far clearer.


I said a "freer" air, not "clear."


I think it is equally free in a denominational school. At all events, the parents should have the freedom of choice in both cases. I am the last man who wishes to raise the religious difficulty in any acute form. I fully feel the force of the objection sometimes made that the religious difficulty might stand in the way of educational progress, but the right hon. Gentleman must recognise that there are many of us in this House, both on these benches and I was going to say upon the benches below the Gangway, although I am afraid I cannot say that at the present moment, who hold that the building up of character is the most important part of education, and that the building up of characer can only be effected by means of definite denominational teaching. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] That is the view I venture to put forward, and I know there are many other Members who also put it forward. I do not believe in a State-taught religion, still less in a county council form of religion. I think you must recognise the denominational principle, and allow the Churches to teach that religion to the children whose parents want that particular religion taught to them. I put that forward, not because I want to raise the religious question now, but only as a warning to the Government that if they are going to deal with what I fully admit is the difficulty of the single school areas, they must deal with it fairly on both sides. If they do not, they will be up against a storm of opposition and criticism which may go far to wreck their Bill next year.

The hon. Baronet (Sir W. Anson) spoke of the necessity of better housing going hand in hand with educational progress. That is absolutely true. You can ex- pect children brought up in horrible homes really to be fit to receive proper education, and I hold very strongly that housing reform, at all events, is really part of educational reform. May I point out one way in which by a little more co-operation the two things may be accomplished hand in hand in a way they are not now. Let me give an example of what often happens in London. There is frequently a demand for sites for new schools. The education authority in London has at present scheduled sites which will displace no fewer than 5,000 people. This applies, not only to London, but to other big towns. The authorities very often take a piece of good property where there are no slums. Close by there may be a horrible slum, and after the education authority, at great cost, has bought a good bit of property, perhaps two or three years later the housing committee of the same county council has to clear a slum in the immediate neighbourhood. If you could have more co-ordination between the sanitary authorities and the education authorities, you could kill two birds with one stone, and by clearing the slum, would obtain a site for your school without the waste and expense that goes on now. I know from my own experience of the county council that waste frequently takes place now. It is all due to the fact that the education authority, although in a sense it is part of the county authority, is distinct from it, and the rates are distinct, and, of course, in many cases the education authority is one body and the sanitary authority is another. By judiciously selecting the points you want for your new schools, you could very often get rid of some of the worst slums and the worst pieces of housing in the country, and thereby enable housing reform to go hand in hand with education. I am disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman has not dealt with necessitous areas, but we are all buoyed up with good hopes, and I trust that matter will he fully dealt with when we come to the more comprehensive measure next year.


The hon. Gentleman has made a most interesting speech, and if the House remembers that he made it without hearing the speech of the President—


I missed the first three minutes.


I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. I am sorry I cannot agree with the speech he has made. He and I approach the education question from entirely different points of view. He is a strong Churchman, and advocates the interests of Church people. I, on the other hand, am a Nonconformist asking only for freedom and for fair play all round. I desire to congratulate the President of the Board of Education most heartily on the very excellent and comprehensive speech which he has made. It sounds to me, an educationist, like a great national scheme which he has outlined, and I only trust that all the parties in the House may assist in carrying into law what he has foreshadowed. It is rather difficult to criticise a Bill which does not actually exist, or to say much about what one has not seen. Of course, the father of a, Bill will make the best of it and will put before the House the points which are likely to create least opposition, and I think the President has done that very remarkably. No one will be led away to believe that he has got a very easy task before him. No one who understands the condition of education in this country can believe that the President, or any member of the House, would introduce a Bill and carry it without opposition of some kind. I agree with him entirely that the Act of 1902 is neither national nor effective. Speaking for myself, the sooner some of its conditions are altered the better it will be for those with whom I usually associate. It has created most of the difficulty we now have in education. But I think local authorities will welcome the speech which the President has made. No doubt large numbers to-morrow will read his speech with a good deal of interest. It is true that local authorities have almost reached the limit of what they can bear, and I am quite certain we shall all be very glad to hear that larger Grants are to come their way, and educationists will welcome this speech and will welcome the Bill if it follows the line of the speech.

Organisation of education is long overdue and, as we have it now, it is not satisfactory to any party which believes in good education, and especially is that true as it applies to secondary education, of which I have had some experience in the working—indeed, I have served on a great school board and also had some experience in connection with secondary education. This scheme, as outlined by the President, promises better things all round. The educational ladder, according to what he has told us, will have its foot in the elementary school and its head in the university. As far as I can under- stand his speech, what he proposes, if carried into law, will give ability on the part of boys and girls a better chance than ability has yet had. There are many pupils, especially in secondary schools, whose ability far transcends the ability of their parents to pay for such education as they may be called upon to pay. I think, further, what he has outlined, carried into actual effect, will tend to lessen the class distinctions among us which are so very hateful to some of us. I should like to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman proposes, in connection with this Bill, to destroy religious tests for teachers? Unless he does, I can promise him that there will be not a little opposition to this Bill. I can only speak for myself, but if it does not destroy tests for teachers in schools maintained by public funds, he will have more difficulty with his Bill than he has yet imagined. I should rather judge from what he has said that by and by we shall have some reference to the education difficulty, and if he has found a way out of it, I shall most heartily assist, as far as I can, in carrying this Bill into law. And I believe, from the way he has dealt with the matter, that he thinks he sees his way out of the difficulty, and, if so, he is on the highway to peace in education.


I should not have intervened in this Debate, except that as chairman of a large education authority with a considerable amount of experience, particularly in the working of the 1902 Act, I thought it was my duty so to do. I regret exceedingly that the denominational question has at all cropped up in this Debate, because it appears to me that we are dealing simply with a Bill of one Clause, the subject of which is money, and money only. I suppose we ought to be thankful for small mercies. Therefore, I am thankful that we have got £150,000 out of the Treasury. Whenever I have gone to the Board of Education for more money, it has always been the Treasury who would not grant it. During the short time I have been in this House I have often wished that there was some means of getting at the Treasury. I presume there is, but I have not yet discovered it. The President of the Board of Education promises a Grant of £100,000 towards loans for the cost incurred in the building of schools. When I tell you that the commitments of the Committee of which I am Chairman amount to something like £760,000 on capital account for elementary schools, and £240,000 on account of secondary schools, you will see that our share of the Grant will be an exceedingly small one. Therefore, while I welcome very much indeed this very small mercy in the shape of a £100,000 towards loans, I regret exceedingly, as representing a large county council, that the Grant is not infinitely greater. I also notice that there is to be a Grant of £50,000 towards medical inspection. I take it that it is partly for medical inspection, and partly for after care. At any rate, that in itself is a substantial addition to the amount which the right hon. Gentleman announced on the Education Estimates. Therefore, for that we are grateful.

A great deal of the talk of the Debate in the earlier part of the day hinged upon the question of the supply of teachers. It seems to me that there is a dearth of teachers mainly from two causes: The first is money, and the second is want of sense. There is want of money in consequence of our huge commitments on education account. We are, therefore, unable to pay larger salaries to the teachers. The second reason is that the National Union of Teachers have themselves discouraged children from going into the teaching profession, because they said they would not get the remuneration which they deserved. I do not presume to criticise that opinion. A third reason is that we do not get the class of girls, particularly from the secondary day schools which, when we instituted the bursary system, we expected. The girl who goes as governess at a salary of £20 or £30 a year, the amount paid to a third-rate cook, and occupying positions like Mahomet's coffin, could, if she went into a day school as a teacher, get fair remuneration and lots of holidays, but unfortunately they have no position. Personally, I regret it exceedingly, because the secondary schools would have been magnificent recruiting ground for children who have not a sufficiency behind them, and at the same time it would have raised the atmosphere in the elementary day schools to a considerable extent. One would gather from the speeches made to-day that the elementary system in this country was somewhat of a failure. Well, I do not believe that. I consider that the elementary teaching in England and Wales is quite equal to anything given in Europe, but where we do fail undoubtedly is in our secondary education. It is not the system which is at fault at all. You cannot get students to stay sufficiently long at school. Yesterday I presented to the Lancashire Education Committee a statement of the duration of school life in our secondary schools, and it will perhaps astonish Members of this House if I say that in twenty-seven schools, entirely financed by the Lancashire Education Committee, the duration of school life among boys over twelve years of age was as follows:—One school, one year and eight months; one school, one year and ten months; one school, one year and eleven months; one school, one year and two months; two schools, two years and one month; one school, two years and eleven months; and three schools, three years and nine months. You cannot possibly get the full benefit of secondary education in our schools unless the children remain at school longer. I think that is one of the reasons why the ratepayers in this country say so much about the exorbitant amount of money we are spending on education. It is simply because we are not getting a fair return for what we spend, and I am bold enough to say that if children from the elementary schools who go to secondary schools are not prepared to stay longer than two years, it would be infinitely better if they never left the elementary day schools. What is the cause of this? The cause is the apathy of the parents.


Their want of means.


It is not want of means. In the secondary day schools in Lancashire, 88 per cent. of the children attending them come from the elementary day schools. Between a third and a half are there by scholarships and exhibitions, which pay for their education from twelve years of age, so long as they remain there. In spite of the fact that they enter with free exhibitions, and that the fees, even if they had to pay them, are not large, we cannot get the children to attend for the length of time they ought to do. I say that is owing to the apathy of the parents. It seems to be characteristic of the English nation, and there is no use burking the fact that education is not popular in this country. I was on a committee which took evidence in Glasgow and other places. We found that out of 110,000 children in average attendance, only fifty-two left before fourteen years of age. Is it any wonder at all that so many of the good positions in this country are occupied by Scotsmen? It is simply because fathers and mothers in Scotland attach infinitely more importance to the education of their children than parents do in this country. It is a hard and painful thing to say, but it is true. I am an Englishman, and I believe in my country, but until the people of this country take greater interest in education we shall not get that benefit out of education which we have a right to expect. As to the salaries of teachers, we are face to face with that difficulty in Lancashire in the same way as all over the country. In order to meet the difficulty we were dealing only yesterday with certificated teachers in small country schools where the average attendance is under 100. We gave a small increase in the salaries. That increase will cost £17,563 per annum, and there is no doubt that we shall have to follow up the increase. The rates will not stand it. Here I come back to the original proposition. Although the Education Department may not make Grants for increasing salaries, if they make Grants at all they will release other money and enable us to pay larger salaries to teachers, and to staff our schools properly. Until we do get larger Grants from the Board of Education it is absolutely impossible to do better work than we are doing to-day.


I am very much gratified to be able to follow in this Debate the hon. Member for Chorley. He and I have discussed educational matters and joined in the administration of great educational problems for many years, and with most of his views to-night I am in agreement, though there are one or two points on which I may differ and I may be allowed to refer to those points later on. The hon. Member for Bucks earlier in the evening spoke about the difficulty and embarrassment which he felt in discussing a measure outlined as one of great importance of which he had not seen the details and which in its full scope he ventured to prophesy would not see the light of day. The President of the Board of Education has initiated an admirable method in the course which he has pursued. The action which he proposes to set on foot is action of a very grave and important character. Though all of us who desire educational advancement desire to see it soon I think that we are even more anxious to see that it should be on right lines, and I venture to predict that during the coming winter the President will receive as a result of his statement much valuable criticism from many people all over the country, who will have the opportunity of studying the outlines which he has placed before us. He indicates a very great advance in the education of this country, and we know perfectly well that the advance that he proposes can only be carried out at enormous cost. I do not think that the parents of this country will grudge that cost. At any rate those who understand the country's needs will be quite willing to subscribe thereto.

The President has been told again and again that his financial proposals are utterly inadequate. So they are; but at any rate the proposals which he makes and the financial assistance which he indicates are a recognition of the great needs of education in this country. I venture to hope that it will be followed up by more substantial ones later on. It is quite time that something was done to improve the education of our children, to open up the highways of education for the great masses of the people. The President of the Board of Education talked about the broad road over which many people could travel to great and improved educational results. I hope he will not forget that it is necessary to establish, not only one road, but several roads. It is not one broad road that leads to every place that is desired, and there are several places of arrival which it ought to be our ambition that the children of the country should reach. The universities are not the only apex of the educational system. I have not a word to say against the admirable secondary schools of this country, except this: that they have no right to the title of secondary school at all, because they are in no way secondary establishments of our elementary schools, if you consider these as primary schools. I rejoice that the President of the Board of Education has indicated that the result of some of his proposals will be a substantial rise in the standard of our elementary schools. Those elementary schools are the schools of the masses of the people of this country and always will remain so. The aspiration of that type of school was checked, as we all know, by the Cockerton judgment, and killed by the Education Act of 1902, and I rejoice to think that the best types of those schools are to be revived under the proposals of the Board of Education.

What we ask is that those schools of a high type should be made a great deal more general in the future than they have been in the past. From my experience, I am convinced that the secondary schools can never be the institutions in which the great bulk of the children of the country will receive a higher education. It is an economic impossibility to plant secondary schools within reach of every child in the country. It is a geographical impossibility that every child should reach and use the secondary school which the most generous. Chancellor of the Exchequer could agree to find. Very often the secondary school is quite ineffective for the purposes of the higher education of the elementary school child. The elementary school child of twelve years of age does not readily assimilate with the child of the same age in the secondary schools who has been there from the commencement of his educational career. I am not talking of class distinction or anything of that kind, but the method whereby these two types of children have been trained up to the age of twelve years has been entirely different. The elementary school child of twelve has been hurried along his educational progress with the view of making the best of a very short school career, because it has been expected that he would have to leave school and go to employment perhaps at the age of thirteen or fourteen. But the secondary school child who has been in a secondary school from the commencement has been much more leisurely and tenderly dealt with. The result on those two children has been quite different. I should say that the elementary school child of twelve is the better instructed child, while the secondary school child of twelve is the better educated child. The elementary school child knows more and the secondary school child is better educated, though perhaps less instructed in many subjects. The hon. Member for Chorley has told us that education in this country is unpopular and he laments the apathy of the parents, perhaps he would say almost their dislike or mistrust of education. I do not think that if the parents came into closer touch with the schools they would have this apathy which the hon. Member now laments, and I do not think they would oppose even the raising of the school age if they had more belief than they have in the education that we are giving.

There have been proposals before this House to raise the age of school attendance, and I, although I claim to be an educationist, have opposed them. I have done so for this reason: I do not think it is right that we should compulsorily retain children in schools for a longer period than heretofore unless we are prepared to find for those children during that extra period better teachers, more apparatus, and a higher type of education. The parents of Lancashire—and I am sure the hon. Member for Chorley holds them in as high respect and esteem as I do—are often accused of being very selfish and grudging in this matter. It has been said that they value the few shillings that a child can bring in far above the educational advantages that the child might receive at school. There are no doubt such parents, but to label all parents in this way is to do them a grave injustice. I firmly believe that the reason why a parent, as a rule, wishes to get his child away from school is that he does not believe in school. A parent, of course, believes that the child ought to be taught reading, writing, and a little knowledge of common, ordinary things. These, from long custom, have come to be considered essential, and so they are. But beyond that the parent does not believe in our schools. He says, "My child will have soon to go out into the world and make his living. I do not see what good the school is going to do to promote his future prosperity." I think that in the mind of many parents there is a fixed idea that it is wrong and dangerous to waste the child's time, that the child ought to get to work as soon as possible lest he should sink into that great army of unemployed and unemployable which the parents of working-class children see every day before their eyes.

10.0 P.M.

If the suggestions of the President of the Board of Education for the improvement of elementary schools can do something to link up the education of the child with its future career, a great deal will be done to remove this distrust and disbelief in education. I believe that the elementary schools ought to be improved for this purpose, and that then the school life of the child ought to be extended. It ought to he the rule that in every elementary school of 500 children, or over, there should be a "top"—exstandard classes, with good teachers and good apparatus, so that a child might be trained to fulfil its future destiny and become a prosperous citizen. I suggest further, that in every area of small schools one school ought to be selected at which this "top" could be placed, and the children should be drafted from the other schools in the area to the central school where they could receive this higher education. With regard to the teaching profession, I heard Lord Haldane make his speech some time ago, fore-shadowing the great policy about which the President of the Board has spoken to-day, and I feared that he was taking a view of the teaching profession which perhaps was not altogether desirable. At any rate I hope that nothing the President does will tend to separate the teaching profession, as a profession, from the class which uses the elementary schools. I think that that touch of the teacher with the children among whom he or she has been born is very valuable for both teacher and child. I hope that nothing will be done to remove the profession of teaching to what I might call the higher walks of life so that it becomes separated from the class of children who use the schools. I share in the desire of my hon. Friend (Sir Ryland Adkins) that something may be done to revive the local enthusiasm for education, which was killed when the small school boards were abolished, and that some little autonomy and sense of responsibility may be given to the smaller areas in the country.


I welcome, as every member of any local education authority must welcome, any proposal to increase the amount of Grant passing into the hands of the local education authorities. There is, however, one feature in the larger scheme adumbrated by the right hon. Gentleman which I most sincerely regret, and that is that once again what I have always described as the religious squabble question is to be mixed up with the educational problem. If we are to consider next Session a great national scheme of education, let it be a scheme of education pure and simple. Do not let us revive all those ancient controversies which in the past have done more than anything else to hamper education as such and to cause division amongst ardent educationists who desire true educational progress. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that his present proposal will provide £50,000 towards the medical service of local education authorities. I suppose that that is in addition to the £60,000 provided last year for medical treatment—that is to say, there will be a sum total of £110,000?


One hundred and thirty thousand pounds for this year.


I warmly welcome that. I only wish it were double the amount, because during the last few years the medical inspection of children has more and more disclosed sundry serious physical defects which render a very large proportion, something like 50 per cent., of the children in our elementary schools more or less unfitted for the education upon which the country is expending such an enormous amount of public money. To my mind it would be true economy and produce untold educational results if we endeavoured to remove this serious blot—to my mind the most serious blot now existing upon our elementary schools—by providing a sufficient sum out of public funds—and there could be no service more properly described as national—towards securing that the children should be not merely efficiently inspected but properly treated, so that they might so far as possible be rendered fit for the education provided for them. Reference has been made to the apathy of parents. It is a most unfortunate fact that working-class parents, as a rule, are apathetic about the education of their children. But I think we ought to look a little below the surface and consider why parents are apathetic. There are two main reasons. In the first place, the education in the past, at any rate, has not been sufficiently practical and has not borne sufficiently upon what is known to be the necessary work of the after-life.of the children to convince parents of its utility. Anything which the right hon. Gentleman can do to develop the practical side of education, particularly in the rural districts, will receive very warm sympathy so far as I and my rural colleagues are concerned. There is another fact which I should like to press on the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, and that is that parents who in that walk of life send their children to schools periodically receive reports as to the progress of those children, and are induced thereby to take a much keener and more real interest in their educational progress than they would otherwise do. As a rule, working-class parents receive no report whatever from the schools in order to enable them to realise whether their children are progressing or not. I should like to see the Board of Education impress on the local authorities—or, indeed, make it compulsory on the local authorities—to insist that at least once a year a report upon every single child in the elementary schools should go to the parents of that child, so as to enable those parents to realise the progress or otherwise of the child. I am quite sure it would aid greatly to remove a great deal of the existing apathy with regard to the education of working-class children.

The right hon. Gentleman has referred to intermediate education, as the particular group towards which he proposes to direct his main efforts. Speaking as a governor of three different secondary schools, I should like to say that I welcome most warmly the suggestion that he has made that in order to render this royal road of educational progress really effective, some-thing has got to be done to make good the insufficient link between the elementary school and the secondary school. A certain distinguished statesman has laid considerable emphasis outside this House on the importance of the university. To my mind, the importance of the university to working-class children is very small indeed. A very small proportion of the whole of the children being educated in the elementary schools are unlikely under any circumstances to receive the benefit of university education. But, considering that we are spending nearly £30,000,000 of public money upon our elementary education, surely it is sheer waste of money if you do not ensure that something more than a paltry 5 per cent. that now passes to a higher grade of education should have the benefit of something which is more really education than anything they will find in the elementary schools. What does the elementary school do? It teaches the child to learn, and practically nothing more, reading, writing, and arithmetic, and just at the time when that child is taught how to learn, its education ceases altogether. There will be real waste of public money unless, and until we provide compulsory secondary education for all those children who are really capable of benefiting by it. Reference has been made to class distinction. I am very sorry to say my experience is that you cannot, although very desirable in theory, banish all class distinction, unfortunately, altogether from your secondary schools, and the class that you would imagine is least likely to emphasise those class distinctions is just the very class that is very largely responsible—I refer to what is vulgarly known as the lower middle class. Amongst that class those social distinctions are emphasised to a far greater extent than amongst the class which a large number of Members of this House belong. I do not see how you are going to get over it. I wish I did.

The right hon. Gentleman has pointed out that something like 15,000 secondary schools, though I am not quite sure of the figure, exist of which the Board have no knowledge whatever. He went on to illustrate the defects of some of those schools as the result of a partial local inquiry which had been instituted, with his knowledge. I would like to point out that in a large number of those private schools of which there is no official knowledge most excellent training is given to the children in those schools, and they are largely manned, particularly so far as headmasters are concerned, with a particularly able and well educated body of men. But I quite agree with him that it is utterly impossible to tackle this secondary school problem until the Board of Education gains greater access to those schools and knows more of what is going on inside. How is he going to do it? He suggested that because education is compulsory, and children are brought before the magistrates if they are not being educated somewhere, and have to satisfy the magistrates that they are being educated somewhere, that therefore that would be sufficient excuse for opening the doors of those schools to admit His Majesty's inspectors. At least that is the way I understood his argument. That is all very well, but I am afraid that, in fact, he will find that there will be considerable resentment against any access except as a condition of a Grant.


Several hundreds of schools already give access such as Harrow any many others, which have no Grant.


I am perfectly well aware that there are a large number which voluntarily submit to inspection. I wish a larger number did. The larger public schools, Harrow for instance, are sensible enough and liberal-minded enough to realise that they will benefit rather than suffer from inspection by His Majesty's Government inspector; but if the right hon. Gentleman imagines he is going to get those 15,000 schools to follow the lead of Harrow without any Grants from public funds as an excuse for right of entry, I am afraid he is destined, to some extent, to be disappointed. I should like to express my regret at the position adopted by the right hon. Gentleman when he says that the matter of the position of the teachers rests with the local education authorities. There is no department of educational work which, to my mind, should rest to a great extent with the Board of Education than the position of the teachers in our elementary schools, because there is no department upon which the Board encroaches to a greater extent, or about which it, to a greater extent, limits the discretion of the local education authorities. The Board of Education says what size the classes should be and the grade of the teachers teaching in the schools, and whether they should be certificated or uncertificated or otherwise, and in effect forces the local education authorities to pay higher salaries than it is possible for them to do with the present heavy rate burden to pay. It is not fair to the teacher with the steadily increasing cost of living. There is no class in the whole country—and I say it with considerable knowledge of that class—which suffers to a greater extent from the inadequacy of their remuneration than the school teachers in our elementary schools throughout the country. They deserve a social position, considering the importance of their work and the way in which they are looked up to in every village in the country—a much higher social position than they can attain with the small salaries which are being given to them. Why does not the Board of Education courageously step into the field and say, "We will relieve the local authorities altogether of this branch of expenditure, about which we are so dictatorial, and we will simply leave upon their shoulders the other expenses which they have to bear in the field of education." It would be an extremely popular suggestion with the local education authorities, and it would be very popular to teachers themselves, and would avoid that perpetual friction which goes on between the local authorities on the one hand, and the National Union of Teachers on the other. It is that friction which does more to cause a lack of harmony in matters of education in rural districts than any other fact. I am very glad that at last the basis of the Grant to elementary schools is at least going to be altered in regard to the average attendance at schools. Personally I should like to see that basis of the Grant abolished altogether; I think that the average attendance is a wholly wrong basis, but, if we are going to have an average attendance basis let us have it, as the right hon. Gentleman now suggests, over a large area, and thereby not put the premium that you are to-day putting on having in your schools children who are physically unfit to receive the education provided for them. To my knowledge a large number of children in my own county are being kept at school—though sometimes they are really the cause of an epidemic—simply from fear of the school losing the Grant owing to reduced attendance. Therefore, I welcome any alteration of that plan, and I hope that before next Session the right hon. Gentleman will alter it altogether by abolishing average attendance at the school as the basis of the Government Grant.


I should like to join in the congratulations of the President of the Board of Education upon the introduction of this Bill, and also upon the wider statement he has made upon the future outlook of education. As a Durham man, I feel proud of the fact that the President of the Board of Education is also a Durham man, and I am quite sure that all those in my county who are interested in educational matters will be delighted at the prospect of an education scheme next year. Before I deal with the Bill, I should like to call attention to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps), who severely blamed the Government for not giving larger Grants to the local authorities towards the cost of education. Almost every speaker to-night has devoted his attention to denouncing the Government for not giving larger Grants towards the cost of education. The hon. Member for South Bucks pointed out that a sum equal to eight and a half millions more is now raised—and I believe that the hon. Member for Sunderland also pointed out the same fact—than was raised before the Act of 1902 became law. Why is it that hon. Members do not put the blame on the right shoulders? That is the thing which surprises me. Every man who speaks as coming from an educational authority, like the hon. Member for Chorley, who is chairman of the Lancashire County Education Committee, knows as well as I, who formerly was a member of the Durham Education Committee, that the greater cost of education is due to the Act of 1902, and is not due to the present Government. I hope to give some very interesting figures to prove what the facts are under that great Act of 1902; I call it a great Act, because I believe that, although it has cost a great deal, it has done a great work in providing better education, especially in the higher branches of it. The hon. and learned Member for South Bucks went on to suggest what I regard as a most extravagant system of education, and one which I hope the President of the Board of Education will not accept. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman rather foreshadowed what would happen in the future—I refer to single school areas and transferring the whole case of education to the Exchequer. I am one of those who believe that if you have dual schools in every parish, it would be a most costly system of education. That, in my opinion, would be a most suicidal policy. Great educational authorities that now are accounted progressive are endeavouring, as far as possible, to consolidate these small schools, thereby saving the cost of double staff and double cost; not only to the ratepayers, but also to the Exchequer. It would be most certainly suicidal on the part of the Government to put down a new school where you have an existing school. The hon. Member who spoke last suggested that sectarian bitterness should be set aside in the forthcoming discussion. I quite agree with him. I do think this, that all, especially on the Protestant side, those who believe in the Protestant religion—that is to say, the Churchmen and the Nonconformists—should unite. There is no reason why they should not unite in providing one school where either Churchman or Nonconformist could send his child.

Let me illustrate what I mean. In the county of Durham since the 1902 Act came into operation in 1904, we have transferred to the county no less than 45,000 children who were formerly in Church of England schools. I think that is the largest transfer of any county in the country. I can say, having been a member of that county education committee, ever since the time I refer to, that there has not been a single complaint from a single parent in the county—not one! I have made the statement before in the House that not a single complaint has come from any parent before the committee in relation to that transfer from Church to Council schools. In fact the parents are, I feel quite certain, all more or less delighted to send their children to better schools, which are better equipped, and where they will receive on the whole a much better education. So far, therefore, as the Protestant children are concerned, I am certain that there would be no difficulty in providing one school for the whole of the Protestant children in one particular parish. It would be a most suicidal policy to have the doubling of your schools, and all the extra cost. Let me call attention to the statement of the hon. Member for Rochdale in which he made, I think, a very practical suggestion—one which I hope the Board of Education will take into consideration—in regard to the connection between the elementary school and the secondary school. I quite agree with him that if you are to have a larger number of boys and girls going from the elementary to the secondary schools, you must establish in all the principal centres—and I am glad to say some local education authorities are doing so, and in the county of Durham they are doing it—one of two things. You must have a higher elementary school in every populous centre, or you must have upper standards schools, where you will concentrate all your best boys and girls from the elementary schools. I believe by that means you will have a very large number of boys and girls going from the elementary to the secondary school; more so than you have at the present time.

We must understand this, that before 1902, in many of our large counties and many of our large towns, we had not 1 per cent. of the boys and girls in the secondary schools. We have now in some counties as many as 6 per cent. going to the secondary schools, which is a great advance. I should like to refer to the question of the teachers' salaries. I do not agree with the last speaker, that we should transfer the cost of the teachers' salaries to the Exchequer, and for this reason: If you transfer the cost of the teachers' salaries to the Exchequer the local authorities cannot have that control over them that I think is desirable. The Government propose to give an extra Grant, but I think as long as you have that dual control with the local education committee managing the work, you must have them as far as possible regulating the appointment and the dismissal of teachers. If you were to transfer the whole cost to die State I am afraid the control, which I regard as very essential, would be very much mitigated. With regard to the present Bill, I am bound to say I am disappointed with the proposals of the Government. We have to be content with small mercies. I am very much surprised that the Government should consider it necessary to give a Grant towards medical inspection, because I regard the cost of medical inspection as being very insignificant and infinitesimal. I will give the figures for the county of Durham, which are important because they have been analysed. In six years the cost of education in that county has gone up per scholar from 53s. 11d. to 73s. 7d., or an increase of 19s. 8d. Medical inspection has cost only 6d. out of that increase of 19s. 8d., and, therefore, the increased cost of medical inspection is infinitesimal in comparison with the others. The cost of teachers has gone up 10s. 11d. per scholar, the loans charges have gone up 4s. 3d., and maintenance has gone up 3s. 4d. So the great increase in the county Durham, and I believe you can say the same of every other county and town responsible for education, is due to the cost of the increase of salaries now paid to teachers in voluntary schools, which have become a charge upon the rates, and the increased salaries we are now compelled to pay to the teachers. I think the present Grant of £100,000 is totally inadequate to meet the requirements of the country, and I should like to suggest to the President of the Board of Education that in the scheme for next year, instead of giving a general Grant, the Board of Education ought to adopt the same plan with regard to the building of public schools, both elementary and secondary, that they have now with regard to training colleges.

To the training colleges the Government contribute 75 per cent. of the cost of the building and the land, and there should be a similar contribution to the cost of building elementary schools and secondary schools; I do not say the same proportion, but the same principle should be adopted, and then we should have a very large addition towards helping our local authorities to build those schools. There is another very important matter which arises from the operation of the Act of 1902, and that is the Necessitous Grant. That is a Grant which I hope the President of the Board of Education will abolish because it cannot stand under the existing law. It is based on Section 10 of the Education Act of 1902, which provides that where the penny rate does not produce 10s. per scholar in average attendance then there is a decrease in the Grant, or otherwise that particular town will only get the 4s. and not the additional Grant. In the town I represent that works out in this way. The town I represent estimated that under this Grant they were going to receive £2,200, but owing to the fact that the assessable value is based upon the county basis instead of the borough basis, the Grant produced £897 instead of £2,200. That has been a very serious charge upon the town. With this decrease in the Necessitous Grant of something like £1,300, plus the cost of extra schools which the town has been compelled to build, the education rate rose last year from 1s. 8d, in the to 2s. 1d. How is it possible for a town to go on paying 2s. 1d. in the £ for education, when other parts of the country are perhaps paying 5d. or 6d. in the £, or even less? The fact is that where a town is progressive and where they have to build new schools and provide for the growth of population it becomes a very serious charge upon that town and county. For these reasons I think that the Grant which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to give under this Bill is totally inadequate. I hope he will reconsider this matter and give extra Grants to those towns where the penny is producing upon the county basis slightly above the 10s. I think that is a very hard case where the ratepayers are crying out against this demand. I congratulate the President upon the great scheme which he foreshadows for next year, and I express the hope that he will again be at the head of the Education Department to launch his scheme in the form of a measure, which I hope will be a success not only in this House, but in the country.


Most of the speakers this evening have expressed their gratification that a Grant of £150,000 is going to be made for educational purposes. Why should it be necessary to have Grants of this character now, and why were they not included in the Estimates at an earlier period of the Session? Why has it been found necessary to bring in Supplementary Estimates. It does seem to me that when you are making such an important departure from the ordinary financial custom, somebody ought to take note of it and protest against the financial wrong which has been done. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, gave us an exceedingly interesting speech, though it was possibly somewhat sketchy of the reforms we are to have in education next year. He said, quite rightly, that it is useless spending money upon buildings and various other matters unless we see that the teachers are properly remunerated, but there has been a matter before the President of the Board of Education for a considerable period, and that is the pension scheme for secondary teachers, about which there has been considerable delay. Before I am going to be led away by those castles in the air which the right hon. Gentleman has been building for my edification this afternoon, I want that overdue matter of reform dealt with at once and speedily. I see by "Whitaker's Almanack," which I believe is sometimes submitted to Government Departments before it is published, that there is this statement:— So far as concerns schools in receipt of a Government Grant; the provision of a pension scheme is virtually secured by the promise of the Chancellor of the Exchequer given to a deputation of secondary teachers in May last, but it is not certain that private and preparatory schools will also be included, Under this proposal teachers would pay £7 yearly towards an annuity, and the State would give £1 to the annuity for each year of recorded service. After thirty-five years it, is expected that a teacher would secure a pension of at least £100. This scheme lets yet to be approved, but the Government stands pledged to £1 yearly for each year of recorded service. I should very much like to know whether that statement is correct: and whether the Government is pledged to £1 yearly for each year of recorded service. I should he even more grateful for an occasional £1 in the hand than the chances of very much larger sums next year. A Committee has been appointed which has really caused very gross delay in dealing with the matter. Apparently, the powers given it were scarcely understood by anybody, and the services of the Committee were rendered nugatory. I do hope that when dealing with these large sums this small matter may at least be effectively dealt with. I wish every success to the wider schemes of the right hon. Gentleman, but I am afraid that the wide road which he suggests everybody should treat will only lead to destruction if he does not look after the interests of the teachers.


I do not know how soon the House will wish to give my right hon. Friend leave to introduce this Bill, but perhaps I may make a few remarks now. With regard to the question put by the last speaker, the same Grant is going to be given to secondary schools as well as to elementary schools. But we cannot give the details at this moment, as a Committee is dealing with the matter. I hope, however, there will not be undue delay. My right hon. Friend may, I think, be satisfied with the general reception accorded to his proposals. The Debate has, in the main, shown a sense of relief that there is at last some realisation, after a long period of demand, of certain concessions to the local authorities. There is no complete satisfaction. Some of my hon. Friends who represent necessitous areas still remain markedly discontented, but I should like to point out to them that, although their case is not met this year, there never was held out any hope it would be met this year, and, as far as it goes, they, as well as the other local authorities, are getting this new money altogether unexpectedly—they are getting their share of it. Still, I do not press this too much. After all, this £150,000 which is being provided by the Government is a very real Grant. One of the chief complaints which we have been subjected to during the last few years has been with regard to medical inspection and treatment. We have had deputation after deputation, and demand after demand, that we should pay a large part of the expenditure which has fallen on local authorities for medical inspection and subsequent medical treatment. I do not think any of the demands put forward by local authorities have been higher than that we should pay a half. Approximately we are proposing, under this Bill, to pay one-half of the whole of the expenditure, and the £100,000 towards loan charges is, I think, one of the best ways for helping local education authorities—at any rate, it is one of the ways in which they have most frequently requested that it should be made. Above all, I would point out to the House that my right hon. Friend has made it clear that these Grants are only an instalment of a much larger one that is coming next year. To my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, who is particularly interested in necessitous school areas, I may point out that the system foreshadowed next year by my-right hon. Friend will in effect abolish necessitous school areas and deal with them in a more effective way. Indeed, the dealing with poor districts is an essential part of the new system—there will be dealing with poor districts on a far more systematic basis than the casual and temporary system hitherto applied.


I wished to speak for necessitous school areas, but no one has had an opportunity so far of doing so.


One hon. Member has, I think, referred to them. With regard to the large question which has been under general discussion to-day there are two main aspects—two main lines of change to which my right hon. Friend is looking forward. The hon. Member for Chorley (Sir H. Hibbert) emphasised the fact that the great gap in our educational system was in the secondary or intermediate part of our education work. I believe that there is a great possibility of advance in this direction, which has been proved by our experience during the last few years. I notice one very marked thing in our experience during the ten years since the Act of 1902 was brought into operation. The local education authorities have had no absolute obligation to deal with secondary or intermediate education. Nevertheless, and in spite of the pressure upon them not to extend the rates, they have, almost uniformly throughout England, shown a very great eagerness to use their powers within their limited means. During these ten years we have made in secondary education a far more remarkable advance than most people are apt to acknowledge. The number of schools on the Grant list has gradually more than doubled. The number of schools provided by the local education authorities has more than quadrupled. If you take the number of girls' secondary schools, there are three times as many on the Grant list and aided by local authorities than there were ten years ago. That represents a great advance, and an advance which has been made by these authorities in spite of the difficulties they have had with their constituents, showing a real willingness and keenness for education on the part of the authorities which have been established under the Act of 1902.

There is another thing, these ten years have proved to encourage us. We have had conclusive proof of the success of higher education in the case of children who come from the public elementary schools. Probably some ten years ago there was some lingering old notion that the poorer classes could not really benefit by higher education. My right hon. Friend to-day dealt with that very remarkable development, the Workers' Education Association, but I will take the secondary schools. To-day you have got one-third of the children in these State schools who' are free placers coming originally from the public elementary schools. You have this further fact, which strikes very remarkably those at the Board of Education who have to administer the Grants and watch the inspection of these schools, that whereas frequently when we have insisted that in return for the State Grant there should be a large number of free places in the schools, and whereas, in the first instance, there was often shown the greatest resistance from the local managers and the governors of schools, that opposition almost invariably tends to die down, because, in the first place, if the school has peculiar traditions and if what is known as the tone of the school is high, that is not seriously injured by the introduction of these free places; and, secondly, almost universally, we find that the actual industry of the school is greater. These things are a happy augury to the large advance which my right hon. Friend will be asking the House to undertake. There are, of course, very serious obstacles. One of them was referred to just now by the hon. Member for Chorley in the very interesting speech he made I think it is the greatest difficulty which the advance of education has to face in England, that is the difficulty of getting children to stop long enough in the schools to make their education worth while. I am glad to see a great county like Lancashire adopting a course which the hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Hibbert) has asked it to adopt, requiring parents, if they send their children to secondary schools, to keep them there for three years in order that the education which they get may be really effective, and really leave them better and more educated young people than they would be if they had simply stayed in the elementary schools. I can assure hon. Members who feel dangers of a great advance of this sort without due precautions, like the hon. Baronet (Sir W. Anson), who said we must guard against lowering the standard, that we are most anxious, in making any such great advance as this, that in no sense shall the standard be lowered as the result. We do not merely want members; we want quality as well. We want to build up where the Act of 1902 was incomplete. It was incomplete inasmuch as it did not effectively deal with the stage of life between the years of fourteen and eighteen in the life of the young people. There are not yet enough schools. My belief is that if only you provide schools, you will find that the children will go to them. There is not yet enough variety of schools. There is not yet enough distinction made to provide for all the different kinds of education which children want. It is not only literary, it is not only a practical education, and it is not only tecnhical education that you ought to provide. Not enough money is offered to enable the local authority to act boldly in the provision of all these kinds of education. There is not enough attention to the physical training of the children who have left the elementary schools, and there is not nearly enough money provided for the ordinary management of the schools in order to provide effective teachers. An Act of Parliament cannot do all this, but the two ideas which are outlined in my right hon. Friend's speech point the way, first of all, his determination to provide more money, and, secondly, his proposal that each authority shall, in the sphere of intermediate education review the whole position, with the assistance of the Board of Education, and provide a scheme which will really go into all these questions and make the intermediate and advanced education in their district thoroughly efficient and thoroughly satisfactory.

There is another defect in the Act of 1902 which has left a condition of ill feeling and discontent. I rejoice that in this Debate almost the only thing that has been said on the other side with regard to the religious question is what was said by the hon. Baronet (Sir W. Anson), that he admitted the grievance of the single school areas. That attitude of mind on the part of the Opposition is certainly a hopeful augury. Although undoubtedly there must be over the religious question whenever we deal with education some controversy, I think ibis likely to be more fairly dealt with if it is part of a national settlement in which a vast number of men take a profound interest who are not primarily interested in the religious topic. The local authorities have during the last ten years shown themselves to be extremely impartial administrators of the Act, except in a few cases on one side or the other. Generally speaking, they have been impartial administrators, and I am bound to say that I think if the local authorities take an interest in this reform which my right hon. Friend has introduced, they are very unlikely to allow his project to be wrecked on the religious question. The more general the interest there can be in the reform, the less likely we are to have wreckage on that thorny question. As a matter of fact, there was one thing which the hon. Member for the Chorley Division (Sir H. Hibbert) said which I do not at all agree with. He said education in England was unpopular. I do not believe it. During the past four years when I have been going about the country, sometimes opening schools and meeting people in the localities on education platforms, I have been struck with the fine assemblies of citizens of all classes, parties, and creeds, which you get at any education function. It is the same all over the country—in Essex and Lancashire, in Northumberland and Glamorganshire. It is one of the greatest interests upon which you can find spontaneous, real, and warm enthusiasm among people of all kinds who show a desire to do real public service. I think it is the most unifying interest that exists at the present moment in our English life. If anyone says to me that the English people do not care for education, I think he says what is not true. What the Englishman dislikes is paying rates for education, but my firm belief is that, if only the nation is liberal in the matter of finance, if only the financial projects of my right hon. Friend will be allowed to materialise, we are on the eve of a very great advance in education which will be shared in by all classes and all parties.

11.0 P.M.


I wish to express the views of the old necessitous school areas. There are many of us who are grievously disappointed with regard to the action of the Board of Education as to these Grants. I wish to make it quite clear why we feel disappointment. There was, at any rate, an understanding—I might describe it as a pledge—that certain necessitous areas throughout Great Britain would get what was equal to three-fourths of any excess over a 1s. 6d. rate, and for some time that principle was followed. In 1909 I think it was recognised, and perfectly rightly, by the Beard of Education that there were other districts which had not originally been given the advantage of these Grants, but which were fully entitled to consideration, and they were very properly brought into a share of those Grants. But on the other hand, as a result, instead of the Grants being increased for the purpose of meeting these additional areas brought in the sum total of £350,000 was not altered, with the consequence that these older necessitous areas after receiving the Grant for some years suddenly found the total cut shorter and shorter. In my own particular Constituency the shortage within the last two years from the Grant that they were promised years ago, is a loss of a 2¼d. rate. That happens to come at a time when the ordinary education rate of that borough has been necessarily increased by 2½d. to meet the normal increase in the expenditure mainly due to a very wise and necessary increase in teachers' salaries. So this year in this borough we require a 4¾d. additional rate on top of a two shilling rate. In this case, which I believe is representative of other districts in the country, it is a burden that the district cannot stand. Eighty per cent. of the people in my Constituency are purely working class people. Out of 19,000 houses there are only 500 whose rent is over £20 a year. A penny rate brings in only £900.

Simple facts like those must make it clear to the Government that such areas as that cannot possibly maintain the burden of education which is now thrust upon them. What action are such districts driven to in order to save their own skins? In my own Constituency—unwisely as I told them—they have made up their minds that they are going to obviate in this coming autumn and in the next twelve months the permissive part of the Education Act. As hon. Members know, that means that in a purely industrial working class constituency when technical education is arrested, as I am sorry to say I understand that they absolutely have got to do, the next seven years are not going to pick it up again. There is no use in our talking in this House and boasting about the importance of education and bringing up the poorest of the people, if you are going to starve these districts to which I have referred in this particular manner. The President of the Board of Education has met us in a very sympathetic manner, and I do not want to express my feelings too strongly, but when we have' urged this matter upon him and his colleagues—and this is my complaint with regard to his speech and the One Clause Bill which he has brought in—when we have met him and his colleagues we have been received with the fullest sympathy. Our claim has not been disputed.

We have been met by the statement, with which I am sorry to say we were more or less satisfied for the time being, because we believed it, that the Government could not find any additional money and were not going to do so. I need only remind the House that the Budget this year provides, under very doubtful circumstances, a margin of only £185,000. In view of that fact I could quite understand any representative of the Government legitimately pointing out that we were only one of a number of bodies who have appealed to them for relief, and that it was obviously impossible to make small doles here and small doles there. But when we find that last Friday the Scottish Members were able to get £42,000 for medical attendance in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland—no doubt it is very necessary—and that to-day without any pressure the Government voluntarily offer this £150,000 for additional medical treatment and building and construction work, while all we wanted was some £80,000 to carry out a pledge of the Government, can Ministers find much fault with us if we on.this side begin to ask ourselves "When are we to believe what a Minister says?" Hon. Members who have spoken to-day, no doubt with sincerity, about the importance of education generally cannot ignore such cases as those which I have mentioned. I only hope that the facts I have stated may have the ultimate result of compelling the Government at the earliest possible date to find a proper means of giving relief.

On the general subject the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Goldstone) made what T regard as one of the most inportant contributions to the Debate. He emphasised the fact that in putting forward an ambitious ideal scheme of education it is unpractical for the President to confine his ideas entirely to his own Department. If we want to attain the highest practical ideal in education it is impossible to ignore the general social difficulties which beset the children who are to receive that education. The hon. Member for Sunderland referred to the advance made by the United States as compared with this country in the matter of education, and gave as an illustration that the United States, in furtherance of their system of combining social reform with education, have precluded the importation into their country of labour from those other countries that is carried out by children of fourteen years or under. An hon. Member appealed to the Govern- ment, and I join willingly with him in that appeal, that they should not listen to the Chambers of Commerce in this country, if it was a fact that any Chambers of Commerce have made an appeal—and I can hardly believe it is possible, and I saw a number of them last night—to the Government to withstand this regulation of the United States, and all I can say is if that request has come from the Chambers of Commerce, I sincerely hope that the Government will turn it down with a very polite refusal.

The last point to which I wish to refer is one which gives me a great deal of difficulty and that is in trying to frame in my own mind what the Government is going to do with regard to education as outlined by the President of the Board to-day. In the first place most hon. Members have been so congratulatory to the President for what he has outlined, "this great policy" "reform" and coming down to the Parliamentary Secretary who described it much more truly, as ideal, but we have no proposals. The right hon. Gentleman appealed both to this House and to the country to look at his proposals as a whole. I have heard no proposals. It is not a policy to express broad ideas as to what we should generally like to attain as regards education. I do not believe that ninety-nine people out of a hundred people would differ from the main part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, but when he or any other hon. Member of either party comes to translate those ambitions into practice, that is when they come to frame a policy and definite proposals, that is a very different matter indeed. I think the President of the Board himself cannot be oblivious of the fact that three of his colleagues and by no means undistinguished Members of the Government, have lamentably failed in trying to translate those great ideals into action, and one cannot help feeling that he is a little bold in supposing that he can sail to complete success where those three Members of the Government failed so disastrously in 1908 and 1909.

The thought that would naturally occur to anyone listening to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to-day is, why is it that the Government suddenly want to bring in a one Clause Bill dealing with one small part of the problem of education? Why do they not permit the head of this Department to go and wander over the whole field of education? Are they going to put up one head of a Department after another to outline the great ambitions that this Government have as to performances.during the next or some following Session? There is only one possible interpretation that we can put upon this extraordinary action to-day, and it is this, that the President of the Board of Education is put up by the Government because they realise they have been frittering away the time of the House and of the country for some years when they ought to have been dealing with this problem they tackled in 1908 and so lamentably failed in carrying to a conclusion. It is an electioneering speech, and I suppose education is to take its part in a campaign, in time to be followed by a General Election next April or May. [An HON. MEMBER: "June."] Or June—some time next year. What other interpretation can we on this side of the House put upon the fact of such a mean Bill of one Clause dealing with education being used to go into the whole area of education? For any Members of the House to suggest—if the speech of the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon is followed by a General Election—that there is a mandate for the Government's dealing with the great and serious problems which underly the whole of education, is travesty, and in my opinion is allied to their bold suggestion that the Government have at the present time a mandate for Home Rule.


There are several aspects of this case which I think entirely satisfactory. First of all there has been no speech from the other side which has not expressed some approval or other of the President of the Board of Education and of his Bill. I think that is satisfactory.


I did not express any.


The hon. Member for Walsall said that he went to the Board of Education and that he got a great deal of sympathy. That is a great deal more than he deserves. There is every appearance that though this Bill was not contemplated in the King's Speech at the beginning of the Session it will pass into law. I hope it will. I think it ought to be an encouraging thing to the Government to go on, not with small instalments of a policy, but with a large policy and a bold policy in this as in other things. Another thing I should like especially to call attention to in connection with the Debate this evening, is that we have actually had a debate on education without any bitterness at all, especially any religious bitterness. Reference has been made to the religious question, but it has been done in a way, in my opinion, quite proper. I shall try and follow on the same lines. I want to begin by pointing out that the Government evidently has a great belief in the budget and of its expansive powers, because although the Chancellor of the Exchequer's budget speech foreshadowed a very small surplus, yet the Government, already in connection with the additional expenditure on the Navy, and the additional expenditure on National Insurance, and now this additional expenditure of £150,000 on education, which, added up make a sum of about £600,000, I am not certain myself where the money will come from, but it is quite possible that it will be found to have been produced at the end of the year without there being a deficiency, and it is quite possible we shall find that no extra taxation is necessary in next year's budget. I hope it will be so.

At the same time this is a question that has not been touched upon, and it is to my mind a question to cause anxiety. I do not want particularly to see additional taxation, but I would sooner have it than starve the education of the country, and that has been done recently in more ways than one. There was one serious omission in the speech of the President of the Board of Education. He made no reference that I heard to removing, either in this Bill or the Bill to follow next year, to the question of the removal of tests for teachers. I endorse the remarks of the hon. Member for Colne Valley on this subject. Until you grapple fairly with, and settle finally, this question of tests for teachers you will not have a satisfactory condition of education in the country. In 1906 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham made a most eloquent and powerful appeal in this House for the total abolition of tests for teachers. I trust very much that those who follow his lead, though he is not now amongst us, when the Bill comes up next year, will help towards a unanimous feeling on both sides of the House for the abolition of tests for teachers. I am quite willing to consent to certain modifications in connection with the appointment of teachers, and the appointment of a certain class of teachers, in limited numbers, to a certain class of schools. But the principle of tests for teachers must go if we are to have any finality and freedom from friction in the working of our educational system. Let me assure the President of the Board of Education that this is a very serious matter in connection with the training of teachers.

I could point to families from whom many teachers have come, fathers having sent their sons and daughters into the teaching profession, who now, being Nonconformists, declare that the outlook for teachers is so extremely poor that they will no longer send their children into the profession. As soon as you abolish tests for teachers you will have a rise in the status of the profession: you will encourage entry into it, and you will do a great deal towards removing the shortage of teachers that is now evident. Let me point out in this connection how this matter now works in most of the large educational authorities. They only appoint as head teachers in large schools those teachers who have already been head teachers in small schools. The usual rule is you find all large schools are council schools and small schools are Church schools, and it is only Churchmen who are eligible for head teachers in small schools, and therefore by the ladder of progress adopted by these educational authorities from small schools to large schools it is practically impossible for Nonconformists to become head teachers at all. I could quote figures on this point to show that with large authorities where the great mass of the people are Nonconformists, teachers who are Churchmen get five or six times the chance in these favoured localities of becoming head teachers that the Nonconformists get. That is obviously unfair and makes it very unattractive in these circumstances for Nonconformists to enter the teaching profession.

Another failing I observed in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was the way in which he treated the local authorities. Apparently with few modifications he anticipated that very little change will have to be made in the power and in the distribution of power amongst the local authorities. At the present time as he pointed out there are several different classes of local authorities. You have those local authorities that have power over elementary education and secondary education; you have local authorities that have power over elementary education and no power over secondary education; you have those that have power over elementary education and very partial or restricted power over secondary education. Then you have large authorities, and a great deal too large to be handy, and some that are so small that they are really quite inadequate for proper administration, and they are also because of the small size extremely costly to the ratepayers. I hope when the Bill next year comes before us we shall find that this point is largely developed on the lines I suggest, and that it will contain provisions a great deal more advanced than those indicated by the President of the Board of Education.

I proceed to deal now with one or two other matters which in my opinion are very great failings either in the administration of the Board of Education or in the Act of 1902, and which I think ought to be certainly remedied before long by legislation. The first of these is one I have already referred to before in this House, and I shall continue to do so as often as I can, even at late hours, because it is a crying scandal. I mean the way in which the Fee Grant is administered and the way in which very poor children even in rich towns are turned away from school unless they bring a penny with them on Monday mornings. It probably will surprise many hon. Members to know that although it is something like twenty-five years since school fees have been abolished, there is no less than £70,000 collected every year from school children in schools where the Fee Grant is paid. I consider that to be a great scandal. It is all the more a scandal because the proceeds do not go in relief of the rates but to the relief of the managers' subscriptions. The money which is handed over from the school pence is not devoted to the relief of the ratepayers. Next to London, Liverpool is the richest city in our Empire, and yet in that city they take £12,000 a year from the poorest quarters to help the managers of voluntary schools. Birkenhead and Salford each raise about £2,000 in this way, and Manchester about £2,500, all raised in the very poorest quarters. I again protest against this system, and I do so because it is in the power of the Board of Education to stop it, and they refuse to do so. When the right hon. Mr. Acland was President in 1903 he issued a circular to every local authority, and it began with these words — Every father and mother in England and Wales has a right to free education without payment or charge of any kind for his or her children between the age of three and fifteen. That circular ought to be issued again, because it would settle questions winch are crying out for solution. There are something like 250,000 parents paying school pence, and most of the children between three and five have been turned out of school altogether. The children between thirteen and fifteen who were in the school have also been turned out to the extent of about 250,000. We have fewer children in our schools this year than last year. The President of the Board of Education and the Parliamentary Secretary have been praising their own work—I always admire the man who praises his own work, although he may do it not quite fairly—but I invite them when they speak again on the later stages of this Bill to give us sonic hope that we shall not see a further steady diminution of the number of children in our elementary schools each year. What is the good of offering greater facilities for secondary, higher, intermediary, and university education while you are turning more and more children out at the ages of twelve and thirteen than you were before. It is perfectly obvious that unless you are going to make elementary education better and more advanced and a more continuous process than it is at present the promise of higher, intermediary, and university education, and the talk about compelling every local authority to present a scheme by which any child can go up from one stage to another is a mere farce. It is perfectly unreal and insincere and if it was not that then the speech we have listened to was based upon an ignorance of the facts.

This leads me to point out another fact which I greatly deplore. The President of the Board of Education on the Estimates introduced a number of increases in the different Votes. Of course, there was a large increase for administration—for the inspectors and the staff. I should not have grudged him an increase in his own salary, but I do grudge the increase for the multiplication of officials under him. Let him put less trust in the officials of his office and strike out more on the lines of the democratic sentiments which I am sure he feels, and then none of us will grudge him an increase of salary. I protested against some of the Estimates this year. They included a number of increases for inspectors and others and a decrease of £60,000 in the Grant for elementary schools. I suppose the real reason we have had this Bill at the fag end of the Session is that the local authorities have awakened to the fact that with greater and greater demands upon them—demands always being made but never really seriously pressed—and with increasing rates it is quite absurd for the Board of Education to give them £60,000 less for the elementary schools. I want especially to take this opportunity of protesting against the way the Board of Education have got of allowing local authorities to overcrowd their schools, and fail to build for the necessities of the children. I should not wonder if in a few years we had a large increase of crime, and if we have I shall attribute it to the one fact that a large number of children are now never able to go to school at all. There are many districts in London where the local authority tells their Attendance Officers not to press children, poor little things who are running about the streets, because there are really no schools for them to attend, and the existing schools would be overcrowded and the Grant imperilled.


What districts?


I have brought these districts before the notice of the President of the Board of Education by questions, and if the hon. Member will look at them, there are about two dozen, he will find the districts all specified. I take this problem of overcrowding and lack of accommodation as it exists in the city of Liverpool at the present time.


That does not seem to be relevant to the Bill. The latter part of the speech of the hon. Member appears to be more relevant to the Education Estimate.


May I most respectfully point out that one provision in this Bill is to give a Grant for the loan charges for building schools, and what I am trying to explain is the need for these loan charges in almost every town in England. This is, as far as I can see, the one point on which I actually come to the context of the Bill, and I am sure the House will recognise that it is pertinent when I have submitted a few figures. It will not take very long. We have not the latest figures available so the Board of Education. The volume for the year now due is in course of preparation. Therefore I am going on figures a year old. According to these—which are the latest available, 20 per cent. of the children in Liverpool are in overcrowded schools. There are 132,000 school places in Liverpool, and there are 131,000 children on the roll, so that really there is only a margin of a little over 1,000 places for those who are not on the rolls. There are always a number who should be on the rolls but are not. So long as that margin is so small, the Attendance Officers will do little to bring the children into the schools because they are afraid of overcrowding the buildings. Let me put it in a different way. If you allow the maximum number of children in a class to be sixty, you mill find there will be 2,210 classes in Liverpool—


These are matters which can properly be raised on the Education Vote.


I will not pursue that argument any further, but perhaps I may be allowed to say that it was generally agreed between the Front Benches that the Debate this evening- should cover the ground of the extra day promised us for education.


I have no knowledge of that agreement.


I only offer the remark as an excuse. But there are one or two other points which certainly ought to be considered in connection with the approaching Bill, and one upon which I must insist is the way in which the Board of Education at the present time does everything it can to keep from the knowledge of the public and of the ratepayers the way in which their money is being spent. This is extremely important because up to July, 1902, every ratepayer had a statutory right to see every document in the office of the School Board. If an inspector visited a school and made a report upon it, as soon as that report was received by the School Board any ratepayer might go to the office and peruse and take a copy of it.


What has that got to do with the Bill?


It has to do with the Bill, and it is a very important matter. Let me give the House an illustration. There is at the present time a strange strike by parents and children at one of the schools in Hampshire. The parents have absolutely unanimously applied to the Board of Education for an inquiry into the management and condition of the school.


What has that to do with an Education Bill?


That is really a question which is concerned with the administration of the Board of Education. I fail to see the relevance of it to the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman is seeking leave to introduce.


May I point out that the right hon. Gentleman covered the whole ground of his Bill for next year as well as the Bill for this year.


The right hon. Gentleman said nothing about a school in Hampshire. I have warned the hon. Member twice or three times, and I give him a final warning.


I am very sorry, Sir. I have no wish for one moment to question your ruling or refuse to obey your suggestion. I will therefore very briefly say, in conclusion, that this is a large scheme which the President of the Board of Education has foreshadowed. He must not pick and choose easy points to put through, and leave severe, difficult and grievous ones unamended. I could indicate a great number of severe and oppressive conditions which have been introduced by the Act of 1902. I believe the public have had many rights taken away from them. I cannot go into those now. Certainly there is one set. of grievances that has grown up in connection with the Act of 1902. I mean the rights in connection with charities, and the peculiar rights which were given to foundation managers and to managers of voluntary schools by that Act. I have brought to the attention of the President of the Board of Education on several occasions cases of teachers who have been dismissed by managers without any ground whatever being given to the public. I have brought to his attention the cases of teachers who are now starving because of the cruel and, I believe, unjust treatment they have received from the local authorities. On behalf of those teachers, whose names and cases he has had, I must protest against any Bill that is introduced which does not give the teachers some security, some appeal and some justice which at present they do not receive. Whether I say any more or not, I must most emphatically put it to the President that no Bill will be satisfactory which does not do away with some of the injustices I have brought to his notice.


I desire to ask you, Sir, a question upon a point of Order. I am unable to understand why this Bill is not begun by a Resolution in Committee. It seems to be the practice of the House that a Bill such as this, of which the main purport is to throw a charge upon public funds, ought to be begun by a Resolution in Committee. I would remind you of the precedent of 1897, which is in my recollection and is also in yours, for you were Chairman of Ways and Means at the time, when the Elementary Education (Increased Grant) Bill, a Bill in strict analogy to the present Bill, which was entitled— A Bill to amend Section 97 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870. —that is one of the Sections the right hon. Gentleman said he was going to amend in this Bill—was begun by a Resolution, which ran— That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys to be provided by Parliament of an addition to the Grant payable to school boards under Section 97 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, by increasing to the sum of seven shillings and sixpence— Then it goes into elaborate financial details. This Bill ought in a similar way to have begun in Committee of the Whole House when the Resolution recommending the expenditure of moneys to be provided by Parliament should have been submitted and a Bill brought in on Report of the Resolution from the Committee.


I have not seen the Bill yet and do not know what the contents of it are. I understand it is a one Clause Bill to repeal Clauses 96 and 97 of the Act of 1870. I am afraid I am not in a position to judge. After the Bill is circulated and I have had an opportunity of seeing it if the Noble Lord will raise the point again, I will consider the suggestion he has made and I shall be in a better position to give him a reply.

Question, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Law with respect to Grants in aid of building, enlarging, improving, or fitting up elementary schools," put, and agreed to.

Bill brought in by Mr. J. A. Pease, Mr. Trevelyan, and the Attorney-General Presented accordingly, and read the first time; to be read a second time upon Friday next, and to be printed. [Bill 278.]