HC Deb 19 April 1917 vol 92 cc1952-97

Postponed Procedding resumed on Question,

"That a sum, not exceeding £13,565,780 (including a Supplementary sum of £3,856,000), be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1918, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various Establishments connected therewith, including sundry G rants-in-Aid."

Question again proposed.


I want merely in few words to say that I think we need not be nervous that the industrial deficiencies of this country will not be remedied. We know that they will, and that when the British nation puts its back into a thing it does it well. But I do most heartily agree with my hon. Friend who spoke last, that the great thing which we have got to see to is that the humanity of the worker is not obliterated by the necessity for increased production. It would profit us very little as a nation if we conquered the whole world with our economic system, and finally ended off by becoming slaves to machines ourselves. What we want is not only a system to produce skilled workmen, skilled scientists and great technicians, but what we want is a scheme that will produce not only good workmen but good citizens, able to hold fit converse with the spiritual world and generations of mankind, past, present, and to come.


I desire, in the first place, to take the opportunity of congratulating my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education very warmly on his excellent speech, and I do so the more as our earliest oratorical efforts were both made in the same college debating society. He has grappled with questions which have been too long shelved. He has taken a breadth of view, and recognised a wide perspective, based at the same time on an intimate knowledge of detail, and his freshness of mind in treating all these matters is, I think, all the fresher because he has been aloof from the educational atmosphere of this House. I. think the general trend of his policy promises every success to those who take an interest in education, and I welcome his appointment most heartily, and think it forebodes much good to the education of the country. His aim is, as he said himself, to get the best value for the very large sums of money which we vote for education, and I hope in increasing the salaries of teachers—which, I believe, is supported in practically every quarter of the House, especially in view of the increase of wages and salaries all through the kingdom—that he is pursuing a policy to which he will give the best effect.

I have risen really to call my right hon. Friend's attention to one or two matters, some perhaps of wider importance, some perhaps of less wide importance, but all of them matters in which the influence of the Minister for Education counts very-much, and in which I hope he will exercise that influence in the direction which I should like to suggest. In the first place —and I am speaking as a Town Member— I candidly say that I think the whole trend of education has been to fit children for town occupations. I am not sure that that has been always wise. Certainly now that we are face to face with the question of improving our agriculture and our food production, there is much to be said for guiding the dispositions of children, who are willing to be guided, or who show capacity to be guided in that direction, into not only town occupations but country occupations, and I think it would be well if my right hon. Friend were to encourage some change in the curriculum in the direction of making the countryside a child's text-book. This is certainly emphasised by the present national conditions. Since food production by petite culture is recognised to be a matter of great importance, let us stimulate interest in school-gardens. I think that has been much neglected by the Board of Education up to now, and vegetables, which are now brought from abroad, might very well be grown at home. He might very well take up the question much more actively, and endeavour to make the countryside, as I said, a child's text-book. The matter can be further carried out by consulting the new Department of the Board of Agriculture—I think I am right in calling it the Horticultural Section of the Food Production Department, which is under the Board of Agriculture, and I believe that much useful expert information might be obtained which would assist in giving effect to this policy. Some counties, no doubt, are already rich in school-gardens. They have shown a keenness in this form of cultivation which deserves all praise. Other counties, on the contrary, are very much behindhand in the matter, and the authorities are disposed to give greater effect to town education than to country education. I think that where practicable—and it is practicable in many quarters—it would be desirable to bring up the level of these less progressive counties to the level of the more progressive counties in the matter of school-gardens. "Let us cultivate our gardens" was, I believe, a maxim of Voltaire, who was a great gardener himself, and the maxim seems very well suited to the present situation.

The other matter to which I was anxious to call my right hon. Friend's attention is quite of a different kind. It is one in which he can equally exercise much influence from his position at the Board of Education, and I am anxious that he should do so. It is as regards secondary education, and the commercial and the scientific and modern side as against the less modern and the less scientific. From his experience at Sheffield, I feel sure that he will be disposed to appreciate the value of the more modern side of education. While I should be the last—and I expect he would be the last also—to desire to set aside classical education altogether, while, indeed, I think there is no better education than the classics, at the same time undue expenditure of effort is, I think, given by the older universities to that class of education, and the effect of their encouraging it as they do is to reflect their tendency right away down to the most primary education of all. Also it seems to me that whether it be commercial or classical education your standard of work must in the main be based on the capacity of the average boy and not of the brilliant boy. I believe that too great emphasis is laid by the older universities on the value of a classical education, and accordingly the modern side is neglected both in the public and private schools, which follow in a more remote degree the example of the universities.

It was only the other day that my own boy, who is at a public school, having reached a certain stage, was told he had to choose either between French or science. That is a most astounding choice to have to make at the present day. My boy was told that in the ordinary course he could not go on with both, and therefore I have been obliged to circumvent the rules, at any rate, for the time being. I should have thought it was perfectly futile to keep up a system of that kind, and I hope that universities, which I am afraid are very slow in moving in this direction, will set an example of a more practical and advanced kind. My general view is that all modern subjects should be taken much more seriously at school, in regard to science, modern languages, history and English composition; and as to science itself I think it might be taught more scientifically than it is now. There is already a scientific way of teaching classics, and an equally scientific method should be applied to teaching science. I fear that the advocates of science are sometimes rather narrow and exclusive in their view of education, and I hope I shall not tread on too many people's toes if I say that I think on occasions the advocates of science, with whom I have very much sympathy, are nearly as narrow as the advocates of pure classics. That is a direction in which my right hon. Friend could very well exercise a wholesome influence, and as I am disposed to think that he has no prejudices, he may be able to do much.


I should like to say a few words apropos the admirable speech of the President of the Board of Education, and I wish to endorse on this point what has been suggested by the last speaker and the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Goldstone). I think we are all prepared to take a much broader view with regard to the possibilities of modern subjects as an educational medium. I do not, however, desire to stand in a position to be stampeded. I am a little afraid that too much instruction in science would absorb all the energies of the boy and all the time of the student. We have to be careful that vocational instruction shall only be treated as the coping-stone, and be sure that it is applied only to those who have a broad basis of general education. I have the honour to be a member of one of those big educational Committees now sitting, the Modern Languages Committee, and I have been very much impressed with the attitude which has been taken up by some of the leading employers of labour upon this question of vocational instruction. We had before us the other day the chairman of one of the biggest shipping lines in the country, and we asked if he wanted better facilities for teaching modern languages to his staff, and he replied: "Not at all. I want a man with his mind alive and with a good general education." The two things required are imagination and initiative, and those will not be secured by vocational instruction, and you can only secure them by a sound system of genera) education.

I would now like to turn to the most admirable speech of the President of the Board of Education, and I wish to say for myself what a relief and pleasure it is to have a real educationist as Minister for education, and not have, as so often happened in the past, a politician, possibly of distinction and possibly not, but at any rate a man who has not had the training of an expert educationist. It almost took one's breath away to-day to hear the great problems of education treated in such a broad and delightful way as they were by the right hon. Gentleman without reference to any question of political prejudices. We are fortunate in our new President, if I may say so. I think he is also fortunate in two respects, for he is fortunate in the time at which he is called to this great office, because this is a time of reconstruction, and he has a chance, owing to the needs and necessities of the moment, which few, if any, Presidents ever had before. He is also fortunate in the temper of our people at the present time, for I firmly believe that as a result of the War there has been aroused an interest in the educational problem which it is the right hon. Gentleman's business, and the business of all of us, to make every effort to use, and we have before us an opportunity now which is not likely to -occur again in our lifetime.

With regard to these financial proposals I propose to say very little. They are a matter of expert working out. I am the representative of a poor area like Sal-ford, which is poor in material wealth, although it is abundantly rich in the highest form of wealth—that is in its children. From both these points of view the President's formula is extremely acceptable to us because we are not very rich as far as rates go, and we have a large number of beneficiaries to receive the funds which we hope will come to us. A great deal has been said about the teachers of the country. Anyone who has had the close experience in education such as I have had for the last twenty years cannot but rejoice at the splendid, devoted, whole-hearted and untiring service which has been, rendered by the teachers of this country. When one says that, one would also like to go on to say that one would like to see in some respects those services adequately recognised. The President has shown his appreciation by promising that one of the chief means of improvement shall be employed, namely, that the teaching profession shall be better paid. There is no doubt, however much may be the mis- sionary enthusiasm of a certain number of teachers, that the teaching profession, like any other profession, in the end has got to compete in the economic market, and the more that can be done to raise the status of that great profession the greater, I am certain, will be not only the product in character, but the economic product of this country as the result.

I do not know whether it is a very revolutionary proposal, but might i ask the President of the Board of Education, the next time the Honours List comes up for consideration, to make a suggestion or two? If we could put the impress of the State's recognition on this great body of the teaching profession it would do a good deal to elevate the status of the profession in the eyes of the community. I do not know whether it is too revolutionary, but if a head master can become a bishop I do not know why he should not become a peer. The heads of our big day schools give their lives to education in school and out of school. They are always with the children; they are the most self-sacrificing people I know. Why should not the list of baronets and knights be open to the successful heads in all branches of the great teaching profession of this country— yes, and the ladies too? You may say that is rather a foolish suggestion, but I do not think so. I do not believe any country in the world enjoys the advantages of a finer set of Civil servants than we do. If it were only measured in salaries I do not believe that the reward of the Civil -Service would attract the type of men that it does. It is because there are in addition—I do not think we need make any bones about it— other rewards for the Civil servant. They have a pleasant life, their careers are distinguished, and, in addition, there is ample State recognition. If you do that in the case of the Civil Service I cannot see why you should not do it in the case of the teaching profession. We have had, I agree, two instances in which it has happened. We have my hon. Friend on my right (Sir J. Yoxall), a distinguished member of the teaching profession, whoso services have been recognised. I would like it more freely done, because I believe it would put the teaching profession on a much more satisfactory basis from the point of view of a general recognition by parents and the State of the magnificent services that they are rendering to the community.

There was one omission in the speech of the President to which I have to draw attention, and with regard to which I hope he will do his best to give us some assurance. A great outcry has been made, not unnaturally, about those children who during the War are going to suffer as the result of the relaxation of ordinary regulations. I am not going to join in any fierce outcry about it. We have all got to make sacrifices, because the State has got to be carried on, and obviously rules and regulations which fit times of peace do not fit times of war. If children have to be taken from school rather earlier than they would have been under normal conditions it is sad, but it is inevitable. Having said so much, I want to make it quite clear that if the State has been forced by dire necessity somewhat to modify the regular rules of peace time, so as to deprive a large number of children of the ordinary educational facilities, which means that it will be a handicap to them for life—I heard that a workers' deputation to the President yesterday put it as high as 60,000 children—then it can only be on one condition, namely, that the loss which they have suffered shall be somehow and at some time and under some conditions made good to them before they are many years older. I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could give us an assurance that he has that matter in mind, and that he will see that something of the sort is done. We have no right to handicap these children, because of the State's necessities of the moment.

With regard to his broader programme, we arc going to have other opportunities of discussing it. There is the question of the nursing centres, the threes to fives, as we used to call them, for whom he is going to provide employment or instruction outside the expensive curriculum of ordinary school life. That is excellent, and, if he can raise the age to six, so much the better. In the poorer industrial areas somehow the threes and fives must be kept off the streets. In many cases the mothers are at work, and they cannot help it. I would rather that the mothers were at home, but even if they were at home the help of nursing centres ought to be made available for them. Then comes the question of raising the school age to fourteen. You have got to consider this question not only from the point of view of theoretical edu- cation, not only from the point of view of the teacher, who is naturally keen on a higher standard, and not only from the point of view of the highly - paid artisan, but you have got to consider it from the point of view of the more poorly paid worker, to whom very often it is a very serious thing if just at the time in his life when his burden is greatest, probably from thirty to thirty-five years of age, when he has got a family of four, five, six, or seven children just growing up, you suddenly cut off from him a source of assistance on which he has been counting. You may say that it is a perfectly inhuman thing for a parent to look for assistance from his children. I am not so sure. I am not sure that there is not a good deal to be said for the social theory of the solidarity of the family and the co-operation of the household, but apart from that I am as anxious as everyone is that our educational standard should be driven up, but if you are going to do that you must consider the case of the parent.


I must ask the hon. Member not to deal with that matter any further. I have allowed a general reference to it, but it is so clear that it can only be altered by legislation that I hope he will now pass from it.


I submit to your ruling and with that caveat I am content. I am entirely in sympathy with those who consider that evening continuation classes are really an undue tax on the physical strength and attention of the children, but it is entirely another question if you are going to give up the solution of evening classes and take day training. In certain areas good employers, such as the well-known firm of Mather and Platt, of Salford, have tried to work out schemes of this kind. They have not been a great success. Whether something could be worked out in the way of half-time shifts of children, say, three days in and three days out of the factory; or whether you could get over the difficulties with the foremen of the works, I am not quite certain, but I am certain that the President and his expert advisers have the problem thoroughly in hand.

May I say a word or two on the whole position as represented in the admirable speech of the- President of the Board? There has been an uneasy feeling through- out the whole of the country that our education, good as it is in many respects, is not as good as it ought to be. That feeling is not an uncommon one in other countries besides our own. I happen to have returned to this country within the last few days from the United States of America. I was recently in Chicago, where a dinner was given me by a large number of gentlemen connected with the Press. We discoursed about the War and other things, and at the end of the meeting I said to them, "Will you tell me one thing? We have certain searchings of heart with regard to our education in England. Are you gentlemen here satisfied with your education in America?" They all said unanimously, "No." I asked, "What is the difficulty? Is it not practical enough? Is it too expensive, or what is the matter?" These gentlemen were all people of position—leader writers, and BO on, on the great newspapers in the middle West, and as fine a body of working journalists as one could want to meet anywhere. Very few of them were university men. I doubt if any of them were. They were all keen, successful, capable men. Their answer to me was in these words. It was unanimous. They said, "We are not content with our education because it is too materialistic." That was a very remarkable answer coming from the place where it did. We have to be very careful that in all these steps we are taking our education is not made too materialistic.

Something has been said to-night about our educational programme now not involving any religious difficulty. I am glad that the religious difficulty, at the moment at any rate, is at an end, but I am firmly convinced that you cannot have an effective form of education for this country unless you are prepared to include in your education a measure of religious instruction as well. There was an interesting article in the "Times Education Supplement" quite recently in which the writer drew attention to the fact that it had to be recognised with regard to the future educational settlement of this country that the country as a whole has settled that we are to have some form of religious education. Sooner or later I expect to hear the President dealing with that problem. Now is not the time. I am perfectly convinced that the mere questions of hours, pay, and curriculum are not enough to turn out what we want, which is not a German efficient soldier or technician, but a whole-hearted, capable and, to use the President's own words: A dutiful and reverend man. If we are to secure the great educational programme that is desired, I am perfectly certain that we shall have to secure more enthusiasm in the country as a whole. We have to get some steam behind it. Our teachers are devoted and hard-working, and we hope to secure even better ones from the measures now proposed. The Treasury is, apparently, showing more heart than it has ever done in the matter, but what we still have to arouse is the enthusiasm and interest of most parents and of the large mass of the population who have no direct contact with education at all. It requires a big effort to do this, but somehow we have to make the dry bones live. It is no good involving ourselves in barren discussions about six hours or twenty hours, or extra pay, or this measure or for that. The only way to arouse real enthusiasm is by what the Americans would call "an uplift"—that is, a new vision with regard to education. We recently had in the Established Church a great National Mission. I should like to see a National Mission throughout the country on education, to make the country realise what is involved for the future of this race, in seeing that we get the education of the 'next generation of children put on a higher, better, and more effective, but also, shall I say, a more moral and spiritual plane than it has ever attained in the past.


I fully appreciate—and am sure the Committee appreciates—the tone and spirit of the speech to which we have just listened. The hon. Member (Mr. Barlow) advocated what I should myself like to advocate and urge upon the President of the Board of Education. The hon. Member for Chorley (Sir Henry Hibbert) raised the same point —that the people of this country have not that devoted interest in education which is absolutely vital if our aims and hopes are to be realised. In my early days I had it impressed upon me that this country attached far more importance to brass than it did to brains. During the course of my life I have had to realise to a large extent the truth of that aphorism. The admirable speech of the new President has inspired the men in the House of Commons who have had the opportunity and privilege of listening to it. The country wants what the House of Commons has had; therefore I support very heartily the suggestion of the hon. Member (Mr. Barlow) that by some method and in some form there should be a mission on behalf of education in this country, so that the people may realise the vital importance of it to their children, and themselves get such a passion for education that they shall demand a better one than we have at present. We need a driving force, and I believe now is the psychological time to start that mission and make that endeavour. Without disparaging in the slightest degree the Presidents who have preceded the present occupant of that position, we have now a man who has been chosen, not because he is a politician—I have not the slightest idea what his politics are—but because he is an educationist. He has given us the best possible evidence of his desire for education and its advancement in the speech to which we listened this afternoon. I should like to see him giving the country what he has given us here. The effect of a mission of that character, led by him, with the facts and inspiration behind it, might prove an enormous boon to the country. I hope he will forgive me for saying that, chosen as he has been for this special post by reason of his expert knowledge and capacity, I hope he will prove himself to be, in a new, effective and modern sense, a real fisher of men.

I use that expression deliberately and advisedly. The word has to be made flesh and dwell among us, and it ought to be so in the matter of education. We want the spirit and passion of education embodied in a man. I believe we have it in the present President of the Board of Education, and the imagination of the people of this country has to be struck by the need of it, and I sincerely think the present President is the man to lead that mission in this country, and I hope he will be willing to do it.

He has given indications of his recognition of the essential conditions of making our education more effective in the future than it has ever been in the past. He is in the happy position of being able to present to the House of Commons the largest increase in the provision for education that any Minister has had. I congratulate him upon it. It is undoubtedly a big sum, but I cannot help contrasting it with the sums we are paying without limit in connection with this War. Without the slightest limitation whatever we are spending money like water to kill men. We ought, indeed, to be willing to spend even more than this amount in the desire of making them live and providing for their education and advancement, and I am satisfied that the President has hit upon the essential part, vital to our development, in his emphasis upon the need of improving the lot of the teacher. The child, to learn, must be taught. The child cannot be taught without a teacher. You cannot have a teacher unless you pay him a proper salary for his work. I have been deeply impressed by the representations which have been made to me by certain of the men teachers, who told me that in the condition of things today they regard teaching as a dying profession. If there be any truth in that whatever it is disastrous to the future of this country. Consequently it is vitally necessary to make it not a dying but a living profession, which shall attract the best men and the best brains of the country, and for that it seems to me they not only need pay but they need prospects. They need the idea of a career. They need something to look forward to to draw out the best from them if they are ever going to draw out the best from the children who are placed under their charge.

9.0 P.M.

I am told a sorry story, which I suppose is true, of the ordinary lot of the class or assistant teacher. I understand that the average salary is from £85 to £160, the latter figure attained after fifteen years' service, and at the average age of thirty-six years. It seems to me a soul-destroying business for thoroughly educated men who are to do the work which they are asked to undertake. I understand that in theory a class teacher is only supposed to be a bird of passage—that it is a means whereby he shall become some day a head teacher. But, as a matter of fact, it seems to have become now a permanent profession in itself, because there is no opening for him to secure the higher range. Consequently, what I would urge most strenuously upon the President is to do-what I am satisfied ho desires to do, to-give the class teacher a larger opportunity and a greater prospect of something which lies in the future to stimulate his better effort, and I believe that is only going to come as you develop the lot of the head teacher and provide more head teachers The head teacher, as it stands at present does not seem to me to have the inducement that he ought to have, though his lot is better than the class teacher. But there again it seems to me that we need a stimulus and an opportunity. Why should not the head teacher have something in front of him which again shall draw out his best endeavours? It seems to me that the teacher in the elementary schools ought to have a greater opportunity of entering into the inspectorate. He does to some extent, but only to a very little extent, I believe, and in the lower branches of it. The head teacher, if he is capable, ought to have a chance of advancement, and, as we desire to provide a ladder for the children, we ought to provide a ladder, if possible, for the teachers, so that they may go on, and thus gain greater aptitude for their great work. We are democratising the Army. The man who has gone in as a private comes out as an officer very largely, and the more our Army is manned by officers who have previously been privates it seems to me it is better for the work they have to do. And so more and more it ought to be the case with school life that the men engaged in our elementary schools shall feel that there is something to look forward to, and therefore, by stimulating their efforts, they will stimulate the efforts of their children.

Only one other point I wish to make. It seems to me there has been too great a tendency—I suppose it has been the object to save expense, and by that means we have sacrificed the children—to build up great barrack schools so as to bring a great quantity of children together. The teachers have had too many children placed under their control. If the children are going to be educated there must be a human, vital, personal touch between the teacher and the child, and if that is broken down there is no real chance for education. The consequence is that by this means there are fewer head teacherships and therefore fewer head teachers, and the chance of development is destroyed and the lot of the child is made worse.

I realise that the President of the Board of Education is full of the desire to promote education and to promote the welfare of the teacher. I believe this is a national matter, and while it has to be conducted locally it must be conducted in a national spirit. I earnestly hope, therefore, that the President of the Board is going to signalise the position to which he has been called, with the full support of the nation, in such a way that when this terrible War is over, when the war against Germany in the interests of liberty is ended, we can begin anew the war against ignorance in the interests of progress, so that the whole nation may go forward, and that the lot of the children may be better in the future than it has ever been before.


May I be allowed to ally myself with the remarks of the last two speakers and to express my feeling that the whole Debate, together with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, has been of a most profitable character, because while certain aspects have been introduced there has been a general balance struck which would mean that we, as a people, do not wish to drag behind others in a technical sense and that we shall not sacrifice the higher and better part of our children in order to make them little niggers and producing machines. The right hon. Gentleman has an opportunity such as has seldom fallen to those who have occupied his position, because there are at present not only the circumstances immediately surrounding the War, but I believe a now vision is striking the mind of the masses of the people, and I am sure it does not require that I should emphasise this because the right hon. Gentleman himself has been an active worker in association with those attached to universities. The deputation which waited upon him yesterday, with its list of trade unions and workmen's clubs, is bringing about that public opinion that is necessary in order that the right hon. Gentleman may march on to bigger things in an educational sense. I rise specially for the purpose of calling attention just to two things. One has already been mentioned and emphasised, and that is the surrounding of the profession of headmaster and teacher with a very much larger amount of public honour than has previously attached to it. I speak with feeling as one who a long time since was a scholar. I remember marching out of school as a disappointed boy at the age of eight and a half years to go to work. I felt that the schoolmaster at that time was a judge and a monarch. I looked up to him as a man who had solved all the mysteries of life, who knew all about the nations of the earth, the sun and the stars, and knew all about the seas. There was no mystery in the earth or under the earth that, to my mind, the schoolmaster had not mastered. I do not forget that the same mystery attaches to the boys and girls who now go to school, and I am going to plead that if possible we shall attach to this great profession more public honours than have been awarded to it in days gone by, and that the great, mysterious power which possesses the minds of our scholars should not be in any sense reduced or in any sense lowered by our want of attention to their material welfare, but should be rather increased than otherwise. Take a case like this. In most of our Government Papers that are issued we find that where persons have to get testimonials as to their honesty and general behaviour, the clergyman usually appears in the list and the magistrate also. Even the policeman appears on the list, but very seldom the schoolmaster, who knows more about the person concerned than all the others combined. If it is a question as to the character of the boy, or the granting of an allowance, the schoolmaster knows about it, but he is regarded as the one person not to be appealed to. I ask that the schoolmaster should take his position in a social sense with the magistrate, the clergyman, the chief constable and the clerk, and that you should give him the reward that should enable him to maintain his position and be free of that financial worry from which so many suffer.

I want to allude to a certain class of teacher, because we differentiate our teachers into the certificated teacher, the uncertificated teacher, and the supplementary teacher. I do not want to put in any plea for inefficiency, but I do want to express my dissent from the right of education authorities to use the difference between the certificated and the uncertificated teacher in order to reduce or to exploit them and to impose upon them a low form of remuneration, not because the uncertificated teacher is an incapable person, but because that teacher does not occupy a status equal to that of a certificated teacher. They use that want of status to the impoverishment of the one and the reduction of the advancement of the other. I ask, on behalf of the uncertificated teachers, that there should be some measure of protection for them, and that they may be protected against that exploiting spirit which brings to them a much lower sum of money than they are entitled to receive. In the matter of status I understand that teachers are graded in the sense that they stand for so many scholars each, but in the matter of practice you put as many burdens on the uncertificated teacher as you put on the certificated. I ask that you should not allow status merely to govern reward, and that at least you should allow labour to have its reward in cases such as I have mentioned. The new proportional Grant will come as a happy message to the county of Durham, because there we not only have good schools and fine schools, but handsome children and a large number of them. I know that the locality which I have the honour to represent will receive the message with very great satisfaction, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I shall read the White Paper to-morrow with a great amount of curiosity. Allow me to associate myself with all those who have spoken of the tone, the manner, and spirit of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and may I hope that we are at the commencement of a great mission, in which the people may have a greater vision, and that there may be a greater chance for the teacher and the head master and a brighter and happier time for the children whom they teach.


Let me, as an Irish representative, join with all the other speakers in congratulating the Minister of Education on the excellent ideas which his speech contained and on the excellent promise that lies in that statement. I have been in this House for sixteen years and I have always taken the greatest possible interest in education in this country as well as in education in my own country, because I believe that education properly applied to the masses of any country is one of the great refining, humanising agencies, and is one that if properly applied is bound to seek justice, equality, and advancement for the democracy in any of the countries where it is taught. If I may say it as an Irishman without in the slightest degree seeking to throw any disrespect upon Englishmen or upon English systems of education, I should say that most of the difficulties and most of the bad systems of government in my country are due to the fact that the democracy of this country fop years gone by have not had given to them the democratic education that is now going to be given to them by the Minister who has spoken to-day. As an Irishman and as a democrat I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's speech. We want in this country and we want in Ireland more money in order to make education better and to bring it within the reach of the masses.


I do not see what Ireland has to do with this.


I will avoid it.


No doubt Irishmen are entitled to speak as so many Irish children are being educated in England. That is the reason why I called the hon. Member. I thought he was going to deal specially with that topic.


I do not intend to deal with the special question of Ireland. I know it would be entirely out of order on this occasion. I was going to say that in this question of education for England we are all interested as Irishmen, because for the time being at least we are concerned with education in the schools of this country. There is one question in the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman to which I would draw especial attention, and that is the question of secondary education. You have in this country a fairly perfect and fairly modern system of primary education. I am not acquainted with its details, but I know there are many Englishmen who think it should be very much better than it is. Dealing with the question of secondary education as it is expected to be under the proposals made this evening, I suggest, as one who takes an interest in education as such, that the proposals are wholly inadequate. If it claims to be a democratic country, and if it is a country which wishes that brains, character and the energy of the working masses of its people should be developed on lines good for the country, it is right for the parent to claim that his child if that child has ability, character and brains, should be able to go from the humblest school in the land to the highest university. No State can claim that its education is democratic, or that it is full and complete, or that it gives reward to brains and character if it lays down the principle that it is only wealth that can advance to the highest positions in education in this country, and that poverty is a barrier to brains and character. With regard to secondary education, I understand that the system at present adopted in this country is that a boy may go to a secondary school if that secondary school consents to adopt him. If a secondary school in this country allows 25 per cent, of its students to come in as free students, then it will be paid £5, or according to the proposed scheme £7, per pupil of all those in attendance. Having some experience of secondary education and having had the advantage, or shall I say the disadvantage, of having been a very poor boy, I feel that if you put a child of the working man into one of this aristocratic class of schools inevitably there is bound to be drawn—I do not say willingly or consciously—between the non-paying poor man's child and the fee paying rich man's child, the distinction of social position and of wealth and other distinctions. This is fatal to true education. I am satisfied that until this country provides in suitable centres free secondary schools for every boy who wishes to follow a secondary school education, we shall not have laid down the essential principles of democratic education in this country.

I have been reading a very interesting account of a contrast that was drawn by Professor Sadler between the secondary education of this country and that of America. He has divided it into heads. He first deals with the boarding school, and he says "ingrained in the English traditions: practically non-existent in coeducational America." This may be a little out of place on my part, but I hold strongly that schools of this kind are not democratic schools. They are class schools. They are not schools where education is the main object in view. They are schools which are intended to give to the wealthier and more aristocratic classes a certain stamp which, even without progress in education, will afterwards enable them to be selected for certain privileges and advantages in the social life of this country. These social distinctions which exist in England are, he says, absent entirely in America. Then he goes on to discipline, which he says is autocratic in England and weaker in America, and he goes on to the examination system, which he says is rampant in England and nonexistent in America. To my mind this question of secondary education is one of the utmost importance to the workers of this country, and as an Irishman, who is most anxious to see the workers of this country given the opportunity to use their brains and character so that they may reach the highest social, commercial, and political status that their character and energy demand, I join in wishing the new Minister for Education in this country my heartiest congratulations, and to express the hope that he may long remain to guide the destinies of education in this country and to improve it far beyond what he has outlined in his statement to-day.


I should like to join in the congratulations that have been showered on the head of my right hon. Friend for the great departure which he has made in delivering an educational speech when introducing the Educational Estimates. I am all the more grateful to him because, though what he has said this afternoon has been said by a good many of the more democratic educational organisations for some years, yet this is the first time that we have had any evidence of a real attempt to unify and dignify our educational system; and though there are many of the minor points of my right hon. Friend's speech with which I might venture to join issue, I think that we may take it as the first contribution to an exceedingly promising scheme, and that it is the duty of the Committee to praise rather than to criticise. I am particularly pleased with this proposal regarding the salaries of the teachers. It has been a perfect disgrace to this country that men whose intellectual attainments were so good and whose services to the community were so marked as those of the teachers should have been paid salaries that other professional men would have characterised as being nothing more than pauper doles. I am not quite sure if he is wise in limiting to 20 per cent, the aid that he is to give for other expenditure. At the present moment, for instance, there is a great dearth of buildings, an hon. Friend of mine put down a question to-day in which he asked whether during or before May, 1914, there were 124 public elementary schools in London, with a total accommodation for 54,000 scholars, which had been condemned by the Board of Education. Unfortunately, this question, which was No. 138, was not reached within the time limit, but those of us who have studied the statistics know that it is an extract from an official statement that has been made. But that is not all. If the Minister for Education is going to reduce the size of classes then the dearth of buildings will be greater than ever, and consequently the Board of Education will be faced immediately by this problem of how to encourage much more rapidly than they have done hitherto the building of new schools I doubt very much if that part of his programme, which provides for one-fifth of the cost of building being paid by the Treasury is adequate. I throw that out as a suggestion. It may do for the moment, but I think that? he will find, before he occupies his position very much longer, that he will have much pressure brought to bear upon him to increase that 20 per cent.

I was particularly pleased with what he said regarding the teacher as a man. I have noticed in educational debates in this House that when educationists spoke about increasing pay and increasing age and reducing classes they imagined they were solving the education problem. It was very gratifying to find in the speech of my right hon. Friend that he takes a totally different view, but, whilst all these things are necessary, the great central problem of education is something much more elusive than that. We must try some way or other whilst offering these economic advantages to get hold of a teacher who is a teacher by vocation. It is very difficult, particularly in this House, to discuss that question, because at a certain point it becomes rather abstract, but still I think we ought to impress upon the Board of Education certain educational changes that will tend to produce the true psychology of the teacher. The one point that I have made before here, and which I venture to repeat again, is this, that unless you make the work of your elementary school sufficiently bright and sufficiently interesting you can pay your teacher what you like, a £1,000 instead of £160, you can reduce his class to what size you like, and heighten the age of his pupils to what limit you like, but even then you will not produce your good teacher. I do not know any profession with which I have had any connection where the quality of the man depends so much upon the interest in his work as in the case of the teaching profession. Therefore, I hope that my right hon Friend, having taken the necessary economic steps to improve education, will see to it that he also takes the psychological steps to improve education.

I was a little suspicious about a suggestion which he made, but which, I must confess straightaway, I am not sure if I took it up accurately. He admits that we have been saying for some time that if we heighten the age of exemption, then you must revise our educational curriculum for at least the last year or the last two years. I have been very often struck, in the educational work of the elementary schools, by the barren results in the last two years. It is no use talking about raising the school age unless it is accompanied by a thorough and liberal revision of the school curriculum, of the last two years of school attendance. I think my right hon. Friend hinted that he was going to create some sort of central institution for dealing with this matter. May I make another suggestion, not as against him, but that he might consider it? At a certain point in the elementary school education the interest of the teacher and the interest of the pupil are in common. The interest of the pupil undoubtedly is to be taken away from the atmosphere of the elementary school and brought into the atmosphere and conditions of the higher school. I would submit that the interest of the teacher is that he should have the pupil sufficiently long under his charge to make something of him. If you are going to give the teacher work which will stimulate him and keep him efficient, and make him feel that the work he is doing is the very best that is in him to do, and if you try to devise some sort of scheme by which he associates himself with his pupil in the way the Scottish dominie associated himself with his pupil, taking him from the A B C to Latin and Greek, until he was able to pass to the university—if you are going to do that with English schools, you must devise with some completeness a scheme for the elementary schools which will enable the teacher to make at least one stage of his pupil's career complete. I throw out that suggestion, and I would like my right hon. Friend to consider this matter from that point of view.

The Cockerton judgment was one of the most abominable things that ever happened from the educational point of view. Do not let us repeat that under the impression that we are increasing the efficiency of education. I am not at all sure that we cannot be over-efficient in the method of our education, making the great mistake, by that, of sacrificing the psychology of the good elementary educational school. You can give apparatus, you can give surroundings, you can give ampler buildings, a more roomy building, you can give laboratories, and so on, and to that extent you benefit the pupil; but if in order to do that you are stunting the field of the teacher's work and making it unnaturally narrow and barren and pettifogging, then you destroy the education of the elementary school. Therefore, I do submit that you should not attempt to create watertight departments, and I think the less that is done the wiser it will be, more particularly in education. I was a little sorry, therefore, when my right hon. Friend went on to refer to the regenerating of secondary education. I do not think his proposal regarding secondary education even approached finality, and I am a little sorry that it was made even as a first step. The right hon. Gentleman did not talk about the education ladder. That is a great blessing. I hope that it is decaying and rotting, and is about to disappear wholly. But he did talk of the education highway, which is a very much better term. On these questions words and phrases can be applied without indicating the real idea— merely conventional phrases that can be used without indicating any very serious meaning. The education highway is a totally different idea from that of the education ladder, and the proper idea is the education highway. But I think the right hon. Gentleman's reference to maintenance Grants and so on indicated that the shadow of the educational ladder still lies across the education highway. I would like to associate myself with what fell from the hon. Member from Ireland. I had a very curious illustration of what he said the other day. A friend of mine, a working man, came to me with his boy, who had won a scholarship, and asked for my advice. He was too proud to accept it, and I think he was perfectly right; I gave him advice which I thought might open another door so that the boy would not suffer.

What hon. Members who have not gone through elementary schools as we have gone and who have not finished their education in elementary schools as we have had to finish it must remember is this: If you get a lad who is worthy of going to a secondary school and then to a university, in nine cases out of ten you have got a very proud lad. He feels his inferiority even when everybody round about him is trying to make him forget it. Self-pride and self-respect are things, especially in education, which we must do nothing to eliminate. If you send the son of a working man to a secondary school on a maintenance scholarship given to him because he requires that maintenance scholarship you are doing him a very great injustice. The old Scottish method of bursary was a very much better method. That Scottish bursary method was common competition In the days I have in mind the highest for Aberdeen was, I think, £30. There was the sense of the honour of the competition and those who did not require the money could refuse it. If my right hon. Friend would devise, in connection with the secondary schools, some adaptation of that old Scottish bursary idea he would get out of a great many troubles and avoid a great many objections from self-respecting working men with which his present scheme will certainly be met. In the end he has got in the secondary schools to lump endowments, and, as a matter of fact, he must face with great boldness the whole problem of secondary education. He must do it for this reason, that secondary education is the real education. Elementary education is only a preparation and universities are specialised. The modern university has become more and more specialised. The old Scottish university was the very finest type of secondary school that any nation in the world had, and it is that type of education which is getting too much split up to-day, with the result that you are putting nothing in its place. You have broken up elementary education and you have so arranged that the old curriculum of the Scottish universities, of philosophy, mathematics and humanities, is getting so attenuated and broken down that the culture that came from it as a whole, and that does not come from any of its separate sections, is now being lost.

I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that in the next twelve months he should tackle the problem of secondary education from that point of view, remembering that if you are going to have real culture in your nation you are going to get that culture from your secondary stage of education, for which the elementary must prepare. Then he will see that he cannot avoid making that secondary education practical for two reasons. If it is a snobbish thing, its psychological effect will kill its education, and if it is an economic affair, then you axe depriving your-, self of the brains available from the working classes. We hear a great deal about reconstruction now. There are Committees reconstructing everything. I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that he should have an Educational Reconstruc- tion Committee, very carefully appointed with a very wide reference, so that he might be able, as soon as possible, to have some sort of conspectus of the educational problem from various points of view covering the whole field, from the smallest village school to the most ancient and honoured of our universities. The great problem for us all is to unify the whole of the education system, so that there can be no narrow roads as if uniting two different worlds, but one world, great, organised, co-ordinated and differentiated, with somewhere in the centre such a wide and rich field of education that the man who is not going to specialise, but who is going to leave his school and go into the world as an efficient man and a good citizen may get that general culture which is necessary for his mental equipment, and from which alone it will spring. Some sort of investigation like that is now very necessary. It must include universities, it must take into account secondary schools, it must take into account the relations of all the grades of the various educations. I end as I began by congratulating my right hon. Friend in delivering a speech this afternoon upon education to which it was a great pleasure to us to listen.

Commander WEDGWOOD

There are two points that have come before the House to-day which have not been dealt with from, as I believe, the Liberal point of view. I want, first of all, to deal with that point which caused me to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman when he was making his admirable statement. We have put before us to-day the question of a large subvention in aid of the rates. I hold that we in this House are guardians of the taxpayers, and that we should watch very carefully very large Grants made from the taxpayer's pocket, even if they are for the benefit of the ratepayers, and even supposing that the Grant in aid of the rates has no economic effect upon the whole of the country's finances. I am glad to see my right hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury) sitting opposite. He, at any rate, has been long enough a Member of this House to know perfectly well that this question of subvention in aid of the rates never comes up without that economic question arising at the same time of who benefits by that subvention. We know perfectly well that the agricultural landlord, when he buys land, buys that land subject to a charge for the education of the working classes, and subject to a charge for the support of the poor. Everybody knows that the price he pays for that land depends upon those charges. If there was no question of the land being charged for the support of the poor or for the benefit of education he would pay more for that land when he bought it. Is it not a fact that if you remove from that land the charge upon it for the support of education and the poor you thereby increase the capital selling value of the land? That has been put before this House by Mr. Disraeli in words which unfortunately I have not been able to find, and it has been put before the House by Mr. Gladstone and by every statesman who has brought this question forward. These are charges in the nature of a permanent mortgage on the land, and if you relieve the land of these charges thereby put a present into the pockets of you thereby put a present into the pockets of the landlords.

In the last Conservative Government one of the things they did was to relieve the ratepayer at the expense of the taxpayer. There were grants made in relief of local rates, and unanimously the whole Liberal party denounced that as a dole to the landlords. I am only sorry that in the speech which he contributed to the Debate to-day the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Monmouthshire (Mr. McKenna) entirely forgot his old speeches of twelve or fifteen years ago, and we merely had the universal blessing of anything which would squander our money for the benefit of the ratepayers. Some part of this £3,500,000 finds its way in relief of rates. I do not know how much it will be, but in so far as that sum goes in relief of rates it is the present of a capital amounting to twenty or twenty-five years' purchase of that sum into the pockets of the landlords of this country. We try to shut our eyes to it and pretend it is not happening, but it is happening all the time, and whenever the Conservative party are in power they have done their best to relieve the ratepayer at the expense of the taxpayer, because it goes into the landlords' pockets. But this scheme which has been put forward to-day offends yet more strongly against all justice, because the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education quoted the Kempe Committee.

One of the features of the Report of that Committee, which was, of course, a Conservative Report made by Conserva- tive gentlemen on the Committee, was that there should be a revaluation, so-that matters might be equalised between the town and country districts. It is perfectly notorious to everybody here that the farmers of this country, sitting, on the assessment committees, have managed to get their agricultural land assessed at far below its proper value throughout the country. Many farms are not assessed at more than one-third of their real annual value, but if you go to the boroughs and towns, there you find property assessed right up to the chimney tops. Consequently, this relief that the Minister for Education is going to give to the local ratepayers based upon the revenue arising from a 7d. rate is going to be most unfair between the town and country districts. If you take the 7d. rate for a town district, that 7d. is a tax upon the full annual value of the town. But if you take the 7d. rate for an agricultural district, that rate is, in fact, bringing in 3d. or 4d. only upon the full annual value of that country district. These facts are well-known, and are specified by the Kempe Committee as one of the questions which would have to be put right before a subvention in aid of rates was made, so that, even judging between one class of ratepayer and another, you are not only benefiting the ratepayers, and therefore the owners of property, as against the taxpayers, but you are also discriminating between the town tenant and the country tenant in a way which is, in my opinion, unfair. This question is not a new one in this House, but I can only hope that some of the newer Members will learn something about it before this Grant is through, because it is certain that those for whom I speak and who believe in the rating of land values will offer to this Grant a most determined opposition, and not only here but in the country we shall make it quite clear that the object of this Grant is, as is the object of all other doles to ratepayers, merely a benefit to the party who are bringing it in.

There is one other point which I want to make in connection with the speech of my right hon. Friend. Everyone who has spoken in this Debate has supported the idea of the raising of the school age and of compulsory evening classes. I admit that this is a question which will have to be dealt with by a Bill and that we can only deal with it very generally at the present time, but I want the House to realise that there is another point of view. I believe, in putting this other point of view forward, that I am probably in a very small minority in this House, but then we are not the parents of the children who have to go to school. We are legislating in this connection for other people than ourselves, and I want it to be remembered that we do not send our sons to the elementary schools, but other people's children. Some four or five years ago a Bill was introduced by a private Member, the hon. and gallant Member for Carlisle (Mr. Den-man), for raising the school age, I think it was to fourteen. It was an optional Bill, optional by districts. I had the honour of opposing that Bill, and the Bill did not proceed very far. It got through Committee, but no further It got no farther for this very adequate reason, that although everybody in the House was very pleased with the Bill, the people outside, the trade unionists and the ordinary mothers of families, got perfectly furious at the idea of the Bill becoming law. Do let us remember that parents in this country who are trying to make both ends meet on £2 a week—


Less than that.

Commander WEDGWOOD

I am speaking of parents with £2 a week, and they do not find it very easy to bring up a wife and five children on that sum, and the idea that you should postpone for another six months, or in some cases for another year, the wage-earning age of those children is not one which appeals to the mothers and fathers of this country. I was astonished, when that Bill to which I have referred came on—


I have allowed the hon. and gallant Member, as I allowed another hon. Member, to make a general reference, and I must now ask him to pass from that topic, because it is excluded from the purview of the Committee.

Commander WEDGWOOD

In that case I ask the House to remember that parents in this country are in a very difficult position at the present time, and I think we should be doing our duty by them if we gave them the opportunity of continuing their children's education, but did not make it compulsory. I believe that my right hon. Friend would find that all these teachers would do far better work and his educational schemes would be far more satisfactory if the system was voluntary. So long as it is voluntary you have the stimulus to do good work. You have to attract children to school by making it interesting, you have the stimulus of a really good educational system. It is otherwise when you have compulsion and children have to go whether they like it or not. Everybody knows that in regard to the public schools where we send our sons. There is a far more important point raised by my right hon. Friend to-day to which I want to come—that is in connection with these evening trade continuation schools. This question, of course, was brought up in Germany first of all. It is an importation from Germany. It has been advocated most boldly in Germany by Dr. Kerschensteiner.


I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend is mistaken. It is not evening continuation schools, but day training schools to which he is referring.

Commander WEDGWOOD

I am afraid my right hon. Friend must be referring to something else. I am dealing with trade continuation schools, where the children have to put in three evenings a week or one day and an evening, where in each place different regulations are made as to the hours at which school needs to be attended to suit the local industry. In some districts it is two days a week, and in some others three evenings a week; it varies from place to place. These trade continuation schools of Dr. Kerschensteiner have been carried to a very remarkable pitch of success in Germany. They are specifically advocated in Germany on the ground that they turn out most useful machines for the production of wealth. They turn out a child, it may be as a chimney sweep, or an operative, with his trade at his finger-tips, so that directly he takes employment he has been so well trained at the evening classes that he is a far more efficient worker than otherwise he would be. It is, in fact, doing what the right hon. Gentleman suggested, which is recollecting that the children of the country are the capital of the country, and that money spent on their education is money which is spent repro-ductively for the production of wealth. That is the point of view which has gained complete acceptance in Germany. I do not think it ought to have complete acceptance in this country. After all, what is education? The very meaning of the word "education" is that you draw out of a child the best that you can. You build up character. You build up individuality. That is the whole Scottish system. The Scottish system is directed primarily towards turning out a child as a reasoning individual, capable of seeing both sides to a question, one who is able to stand on his or her own feet, and not specialising in any particular trade or in any particular faculty. That I believe to be true education. It is diametrically opposed to this German system of education which is now being introduced into this House by the right hon. Gentleman [HON MEMBERS: "No, no!"]


I am sorry to interrupt my hon. and gallant Friend, but it may be that I did not explain myself clearly in that respect.

10.0 P.M.

Commander WEDGWOOD

I listened very carefully to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and I certainly heard him allude to the money spent on education being reproductive in the interests of the commanity. I want to spend the money so that it is not reproductive for the benefit of the community, so that you get a reasoning individual who shall not be a machine. This German system of producing machines I want to protest against. You want to produce men who will not produce wealth for other people, but for themselves. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Surely there is some difference in the different points of view? Consider what the German children are taught in their schools. They are taught eight to twelve hours, every apprentice receiving instruction in citizenship, general knowledge, religious instruction, a taste for good literature is given, one of the subjects is also the contractual relations between employer and employed, the functions of local authorities, and the Central Government and the obligations of citizenship in relation to both. Nothing is drawn that is not made in the workshop. That is the system which is going to reproduce capital! "The technical education of the apprentice," says Dr. Kerschensteiner, "is never planned with the view to letting him make masterpieces."

Surely the House must see that that system is not what we want, and not what we ourselves got at school. We all remember the fight that went on when we were at the public schools, the struggle between the desire to specialise in order to get into a particular trade and the wider meaning of the humanitarians who said you should get general knowledge and general learning. I appeal to the House: What was it we learnt at the public school? The first thing we learnt was not to suffer injustice ourselves nor allow it to anybody else. That was the best lesson we ever learnt at school. Does that come out of these trade continuation schools? Surely, the sort of teaching we got at school is the sort of teaching we want the working classes to get; not to teach a particular trade which shall turn out useful machines for the benefit of other people? I was not surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that the employers of this country—I presume he meant specifically Sheffield—were supporting these trade continuation schools. They do in Germany. Do not, however, let us be carried away.


I am sorry to interrupt again. I was not dealing with trade; I was speaking of the continuation schools.

Commander WEDGWOOD

The right hon. Gentleman may not have used the word "trade," but in his speech he pointed out that he was supported by employers and employed, so as to turn out people who are better capable of dealing with trade. I am within the memory of the House, but if I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman so much the better. What I want to warn the House against is being carried away by the German system of education when we in this country have a far better system. The next point I want to deal with is the question of teachers. In his speech the right hon. Gentleman made what was an eloquent tribute about the way in which so many people have gone into the teaching profession in spite of the pay. I know, of course, that an enormous number of these teachers arc primarily-interested in the teaching and not in the pay. They go into the profession. They work like niggers at it. Tributes are paid to them here. Their pay is going to be raised. Let us not forget that it is the best of these teachers, the men who have been most unselfish, who have devoted their lives to teaching, who are in too many cases now being sent to prison as conscientious objectors. They are very often known to be conscientious objectors before they are called up. They are doing work which is obviously of national importance. They are now being refused permission to continue teaching. Of course they are people of a certain amount of character and upbringing, who have strength of character, and who infinitely prefer to go to prison before undertaking work of which their consciences do not approve. I have lately had the case of three teachers brought before me. They have simply said: it is a question of Wormwood Scrubs. Surely we might let them alone, and allow these people who have been so devoted to the teaching profession, who are probably Socialists or something of the sort, to do the useful work they are doing, rather than to snap them up in this way, and put them into places where they are not only of no use to the community, but an expense and burden upon the community? The teaching profession is in an extremely difficult position at the present time. Everyone knows that every local authority is trying to get teachers, and cannot get them. Do not let us unnecessarily cut down the number of teachers by these men, who are cranks, I admit, but who at the same time have a real devotion to teaching, and whom we can ill spare at the present moment. I must apologise to the House for taking up so much of its time at this late hour, but I think these points I have made are ones which ought to be put before the House, and considered by the right hon. Gentleman. The first point is whether you are justified in taking money from the taxpayer—that is, from the general production of the country— and using that money in relief of rates, thereby giving a present, in an increase of annual value, to landlords, particularly in the agricultural districts, The second point is whether we ought not to watch very carefully this tendency towards turning out the working-class children as good machines to produce dividends for capitalists instead of as good men standing up for their own rights. We do not want too much discipline in the schools. We want people to be taught to think, and not to do as they are told. What we were taught at school was to do as we thought right, regardless of consequences. The other point is to remember that the question of raising the school age, and compulsion for evening classes, is going to be one which, if the country had an opportunity of voting on it, they would turn down at once. The parent has a rooted objection to having his children sent any longer to school.


I hope the hon. Member will try and do what he has previously been told, and avoid that topic, which is one for legislation.

Commander WEDGWOOD

I know. It has been dealt with on the other side of the House, and I am the only Member on this side who has dealt with it; but I apologise for dragging it in again. The three points are the doles to landlords, the direction in which our secondary education is moving, and that it is a crime to-the parents of this country to compel them to send their children to school without having had an opportunity of voting on the question.


I have often admired the qualities of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down, and I have the opportunity to-night to express my admiration of his ingenuity, I think to have succeeded on the Education Estimates in discussing doles to landlords, the taxation of land values, and conscientious objectors is an achievement of which he may well bo proud. I hope he will not think it is in any disrespect, or for want of interest in his speech, if I turn to a totally different subject, because I want to say a few words on the subject of education. I was very much struck in the speech of the President of the Board of Education—which I only refrain from expressing my admiration for because I remember the penalty which attaches to those of whom all men speak well—by the one question he put as testing the whole question of the educational system of the country. He said the question was, Is the country getting value for its money? The same question may be put —it really is the same question—in rather a different form, and in a form which I think brings home to our minds a truer aspect of the question. I would rather say, Is the pupil getting value for his time? I put it in that way, because I want, if I may, to call attention to what appears to me to have been an omission from the review in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not, of course, at all complain of that omission. He had a very large subject to deal with, and he could not have introduced more topics. But there is one aspect of the whole educational problem which I am sure he has not left out of his mind, and which I hope he will not allow to escape his energies and attention in the future, and that is the method of education itself. He has been dealing, and the House has been dealing, to-night mainly with the machinery of education, the payment of teachers, and so forth; but there has been very little said about the actual method by which knowledge is acquired by the pupil. The right hon. Gentleman said, with reference to teachers, that all depends upon the personal element. Of course, that is profoundly true, and it is especially true when you come to distinguish between good and bad methods in the teaching itself. But the right hon. Gentleman appeared to me to say immediately afterwards that the good or the bad teacher, the personal element, was a matter which depended very much upon the payment of the teacher. At all events he connected that in his speech with the question of raising the pay of teachers, which, of course, I am absolutely in agreement with him, is a very desirable and very necessary object. But I think we should not imagine that a mere raising of the payment of the teachers is going to dispose of that question of the personal element on which he himself rightly says all depends.

Part of the system he has outlined was a system of nursery schools for children under five years of age, and when his system has become a complete working scheme it may be taken—I will not use the phrase "the rung of the ladder" after the warning we have had from the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) just now—that the first step on the highway will be that nursery school. The right hon. Gentleman told us very little about the character of these schools, which are to be the initial step on the educational highway. I suppose, we may take it for granted that they will really be in the nature of Kindergarten. But I am afraid that in this country the Kindergarten system, which must be applied to children of that age in some form or other, has been far too much a mere amateur playground, or an ill-considered, unthought-out mixture of play and elementary lessons, rather than any real contribution to the whole scheme of education of which the Kindergarten ought to be a part. We would seem to have taken the Kindergarten out of the whole Pestalozzian system of education, using it as a sort of mixture, or cross, between the nursery and the school, without really building upon it, and the system of which it is a part, a complete idea and science of education as a whole. We do not carry it out, and in that connection I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his improvement and reform of education is going to embrace any reform of method.

My criticism, I confess, may not be entirely up-to-date. I do not confess to have exact knowledge as to the methods pursued at the present moment, but I am very well aware that that in a comparatively recent time a sound method of education was not to be found in the great majority of elementary schools of this country. I do not know whether the teachers who are very highly trained—and I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said on that point—are now trained, as they certainly were not a few years ago, not merely in the subjects they have to teach, but in the science of education itself. After all, teachers who have to teach in elementary schools have not only to learn for themselves their reading, writing, arithmetic, history, science and what not, but the first thing they have to learn is to teach, which is a very difficult thing, and there are very many men of the very highest intellectual attainments, many men with very high university degrees who may be perfectly incapable of imparting to other people the knowledge they have themselves. On that point I agree with one remark that fell from the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down, when he said that education did not coensist, or ought not to consist, of merely emptying great loads of knowledge into the mind of the child, but of drawing out of the pupil what is there already—in other words, that the first step in the whole system of education, and the underlying principle of it, ought to be rather more a stimulant to the reflective faculty of the pupil than offering to the mind of the pupil a given quota of knowledge on one subject after another. I do not believe, so far as my knowledge goes in this country, that the intimate connection between teaching as such, and such sciences as psychology and physiology are sufficiently studied. That is one particular in which, I think, the method in Germany is superior to our own. Of course, these principles of education are as old as, and even older than, education itself. I was rather struck by seeing an article in one of the magazines this month by a lady who called her article "Courasre in Education." She speaks of one particular school where a new experiment was being made in the method of education. Well, the new experiment was one in which I myself took a great deal of interest more than twenty years ago, but it is older than that, because it is a method of education which you will find in Plato. It is a method of education which, from time to time, has been inculcated at different periods by thinkers upon this subject, but which has never, so far as I know, except in Germany, been really systematised in the schools of a country—I mean the system which began, although it might have been earlier still, but at all events found expression in Plato. In more modern times it is to be found in writers like Rousseau, Pestalozzia, Froebel, and in our country in Herbert Spencer—whose work on education, I think, of infinitely more value than his great volumes on "First Principles"—and our education reformers, with the single exception, so far as I know, of Matthew Arnold, in his famous Report, have really never introduced it to our consideration. Some years ago, when Professor Sadler was at the Education Office, he produced some valuable papers issued as Miscellaneous Reports which I read with great interest many years ago and, unless there has been a very recent importation, the principles which he laid down and claimed from various foreign systems, especially from Germany, have never really permeated our educational system, and certainly has never reformed it. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the three R's are acquired in the first school year. I do not know whether he said they really are acquired in the first year, or that they ought to be acquired; but if he meant the latter then I agree with him, but if he said that they are so acquired I think he was too sanguine.


I said that one might expect the three R's to be acquired by the twelfth year.


I agree that under a sound method the three R's might be expected to be acquired in the first year. There should be a certain amount of proficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic in the first year of the teaching of these subjects. The proposition I wish to put forward is this: I remember many years ago when I was taking a good deal of interest in this subject and writing upon it in the London Press, I had a visit from Professor Sonnenschein, of Birmingham, who discussed with me educational methods, and he pointed out to me a method which he himself had devised and put into practice, and he showed me by results that the average elementary school failed to produce the ability to read in children after several years of teaching, and that several years passed without the children being able to acquire the art of reading, whereas he had taken a number of children who were not specially selected and by a totally different method, which he explained to me, he showed that he was able to take the average child and before that child had been learning for a year he was able to read and write comparatively difficult composition, and this was done by a method which he had devised. I asked him why it was that his method had not been taken up by the Educational Department, and whether he had approached them or not, and he replied that he had put his method and explained all the facts to the education authorities at Whitehall, but he had never been able to get them to adopt it, on account of some copyright in the old-fashioned text-books. For this reason he had never been able to get his new method introduced.

I know the impression that he produced on my mind by his experiments. I remember he pointed out how necessary it was to take writing before reading, and, having started with writing, the method was to take the two hand-in-hand together, and by working on his system within a very few months it was possible to produce very considerable proficiency both in reading and writing. I agree with what I thought the right hon. Gentleman said, that you might expect by a proper and sound method to get proficiency in two of the R's, and possibly a certain amount of proficiency in the third R within a year of the child coming under instruction. That, of course, is by a method which we have never adopted, and therefore when we are starting out as the right hon. Gentleman is doing upon a completely new departure, and certainly on a new system in the education of this country, I think it is very important that the actual method to be pursued should not be lost sight of when these other important reforms with regard to the payment of teachers and grants of money and the connection between one kind of school and another are being introduced. We ought to remember, as the hon.

and gallant Member said, that education really is something which ought not to be a task imposed upon unwilling minds; it ought really to be the satisfying of a natural curiosity; and, if some such principle as that is recognised and if the method of teaching is grounded on a principle of that sort, it will, in my opinion, do far more to produce the sound basis of education we require than all these other reforms, important though I think them to be.


The right hon. Gentleman, in his extremely eloquent speech, told us that economy was in the air. I should like economy to be, not in the air, but upon the earth, and not only upon the earth, but in the offices of the various Government Departments which are concerned with the spending of money. The right hon. Gentleman has so manufactured his Department as to have created a wind, and which will keep economy neither in his Department nor upon the earth, but in the air, because he proposes that at this particular time we should spend something like £4,000,000 upon increasing the benefits, if they are benefits, of education. I do not want to go into any discussion as to whether the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman are a benefit to education, or whether education requires improvement, but, even supposing it is so, I do not think that is the proper moment to carry out that task. We have other tasks to carry out; and, however excellent the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman may be, this is not the moment that he should come forward and propose an immense increase of expenditure. I understood him to say that this £3,500,000 is only an instalment. I am not quite sure whether I am correct in my figures, but I think the present expenditure on education, including this £3,500,000, amounts to something like £40,000,000. If that is only an instalment, there is a vista opening up before us in which economy will not be in the air, but in another place still further remote than the air or the clouds.


Where is that?


I do not know. It is not where economy ought to be. On the 2nd April an answer was given by the right hon. Gentleman in response to a question put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Islington (Mr. Lough). This is what he said: Figures for elementary education—expenditure of local authorities out of rates: 1902–3, £6,620.000; 1907–8, £10,467,000; 1915–16, £14,266,000. It is all worked out for me. Increase 1915-lfi over 1902–3–1 16 per cent. That is in only fourteen years. Expenditure of the Board of Education: 1902–3, £9,310,000; 1907–8, £11,413,000; 1915–16, £12,913,000. Increase 1915–16 over 1902–3–39 per cent. It might be said that these figures do not afford much comparison unless you show that the number of children has greatly increased, because it stands to reason that if the number of children has greatly increased so the expenditure would greatly increase. Therefore the right hon. Gentleman gave the figures of the increase in the number of children as follows: Number of children in average attendance at public elementary schools: 1902–3,5,038,252; 1907–8,5,301,241; 1915–16, 5,306,411. Increase 1915–16 over 1902–3–5–3 per cent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd April, 1917, col. 975.] Therefore while the expenditure out of rates had gone up 116 per cent, and the expenditure by the taxpayers had gone up 39 per cent., the increase in the number of children was only 5.3 per cent. That shows beyond doubt that there has been an enormous increase in the expenditure during the last thirteen or fourteen years. As to the expenditure on secondary education, apparently no figures could be given with accuracy with regard to 1902–3, and the first figures given are those for 1907–8. Even there, there has been an enormous increase of something like 70 or 80 per cent, in about eight years. That appears to be a matter for very serious consideration. When we remember that if the War continues for another year we shall have a debt of something like £6,000,000,000, with an annual charge of £300,000,000, however good the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman are, however necessary they are, we must cut our coat according to our cloth. We cannot afford to enter into all these great ideas. One hon. Member said that the Education Department is now presided over by a Gentleman with high ideals. I think it is, and in ordinary times, and if we were a very exceptional nation with an overflowing Exchequer, high ideals might be a very good thing, but at the present moment, when the Exchequer is certainly not overflowing and when we are in the middle of the greatest crisis which this country has ever seen, a little common sense is better than high ideals.


What about low ideals?


I do not believe in ideals at all. I do not care whether they are high or low. I want facts. The right hon. Gentleman I thought almost proved too much. He gave us some very interesting anecdotes of what had taken place in some correspondence which had passed between an officer in the Army and an officer in the Navy. The officer in the Navy used, I think, some unparliamentary language which I should not like to repeat. [An HON. MEMBER: "In the House!"] Yes; in the House. I am quite willing to repeat it to the hon. Gentleman outside the House. But putting it in Parliamentary language what it came to was that though the officer in the Navy had a very poor opinion of the Board schools he was bound to admit that the present system—and I wish to lay emphasis upon the present system—was so good that it had produced almost an ideal officer and an ideal sailor. I think I am not exaggerating when I say that was what the right hon. Gentleman told a very pleased House and an officer in the Army practically said the same thing. If we have such an excellent system that it produces such excellent officers and such excellent men, why go and spend a lot more money on something which is already so good that it apparently cannot be improved? You cannot carry on the War if you have not got money, and you have to carry on the War to a finish before you begin to do all this in education and in other things, and however good the system and the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman are they cannot bear fruit for, at any rate, a good number of years, and, therefore, one might well wait until the War has been concluded successfully, as I feel sure it will, before we embark upon an expenditure of £3,500,000, which will, by the admission of the right hon. Gentleman, in a very short time exceed that sum by a very large amount.

There is another point I should like to mention. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman upon it, and I am not at all sure that it requires a great deal of money to carry it out. I understood him to say that the child was influenced in its educational career more by the influence and by the nature of the teacher than by the actual learning that it acquired; that is to say, if a child has a sympathetic teacher, who teaches him high ideals, it probably will be inculcated with those high ideals, which will remain with it throughout its life, whereas the ordinary education is apt to be forgotten. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that really what impresses the child is the nature of the teacher. It is not so much what the child is taught, but the nature of the teacher. The important thing is whether a teacher is a man of high ideals, who impresses upon the pupil that the first thing in life is to go straight and be honourable and honest. I think that is what the right hon. Gentleman meant. I have conveyed it in very inferior language; he conveyed it in very superior language; but I think that is what he meant, and I agree with him. But is it necessary to spend any sum of money to impress that on the child? Apparently it has already been produced with the money we have spent. Therefore, why choose this particular time to ask the House of Commons to spend an enormous sum upon something which, according to the right hon. Gentleman, is already there? There is another point which I should like to make. I do not want to be led astray and to discuss anything which requires legislation because, as we all know, in Committee of Supply we cannot discuss anything which requires legislation. But unless I am very much mistaken, a considerable amount of this £3,500,000 will be spent upon something which does require legislation. What is the position which the Committee is in at the present moment? It is going to vote a sum of £3,500,000, or thereabouts.




No; the supplementary sum is £3,500,000. I quite admit the education expenditure is much larger, but I presume the Committee is unanimous in voting the original Estimates, and that therefore they really do not come into the question. The original Estimates do not vary from the Estimates of last year; if they do vary they are rather less and therefore they do not arise. The only real question before us is whether or not we should vote this increased sum, which is something like £3,500,000. I do not know whether we shall have another day in Committee to discuss this. I presume we shall, because this is a very important subject, and everyone knows you cannot discuss a matter of this sort so thoroughly on Report as you can in Committee. Once we have got the Report stage it passes from all control of this House, and there is no further opportunity to discuss it until the Consolidated Fund Bill comes, unless, of course, legislation is introduced. Supposing the right hon. Gentleman finds he cannot introduce the legislation which will be necessary—


No legislation is required for this sum.


That is the worst of it.


Is the whole of the £3,500,000 to be spent upon matters which do not require legislation?




I understand from my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lough) that there is a sum of something like £400,000—




It is so.


The right hon. Gentleman says the whole of this sum can be spent without legislation.


That is so.


Then I have nothing further to say, because my point was that legislation was necessary and that it might not be obtained, and that therefore the money might have to go back to the Old Sinking Fund.


This Committee has no security that the money will be spent in accordance with the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman unless you have legislation.


Is not the fresh money voted £3,800,000, of which £400,000 is for secondary education; and though a Bill will not be required for the money, a Bill will be required for some of the purposes mentioned by my right hon. Friend—for instance, to compel employers to give the facilities?


My right hon. Friend is in error. No legislation is required. The money will be spent under Regulations.


Legislation may not be necessary, but unless legislation is passed Parliament may have no security that the money will be spent in accordance with the formula of the right hon. Gentleman. It is to be spent in accordance with Regulations laid down by the Treasury.


I do not think that the hon. Member is entitled to make a speech. It is nearly ten minutes to eleven, and I understand that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lewis) is going to make a statement.


We are not going to let this through to-night.


I quite accept the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, but this matter is one of importance to the country in the carrying on of its industries. The country at present is taxed very heavily, and large sums of money are being borrowed, and taxation cannot be paid or money raised unless our industries are carried on successfully. If you take away labour, which is the foundation of all industries, in order to give certain educational facilities, you may be doing a certain amount of good in one direction, but you may also be inflicting tremendous injury to the industries of the country. I would therefore appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to restrain his educational ardour until afterwards.


I am sure that my right hon. Friend has every possible reason to be gratified with the general reception which the Committee of the House of Commons has given to his new scheme. It has been received with a chorus of congratulation, and if he will allow one who has the happiness to be his subordinate, notwithstanding that fact, to join in that chorus of congratulation, I will venture to say that we have had no more interesting evening on the Education Estimates in the course of more than a score of occasions on which I have heard an annual statement by a Minister of Education. Perhaps I may be allowed to say, as a very old Member, that my right hon. Friend has initiated one of the greatest advances ever made in the history of education in this country, and I feel that the teachers of our country will regard to-day as a red-letter day in their history. I have not risen earlier because I was anxious that as many Members as possible should have an opportunity of addressing the Committee, and I have only time to reply to a very few of the criticisms that have been made. We have had some most helpful and suggestive speeches, and I feel sure that my right hon. Friend will give due weight to all the suggestions that have been made in the course of the Debate. Perhaps I should add this: whatever attention, or inattention, the speeches of hon. Members may receive in this House, there is one place, at any rate, where they are conned again and again, namely, at the Board of Education, and every Member who has spoken to-night may be quite sure that every suggestion which he has made in the course of this Debate will be very carefully considered. Some of the criticisms we have heard in the course of the Debate have already been answered by my right hon. Friend in advance. An hon. Member expressed his deep sense of relief at the fact that for once we have had an education Debate absolutely free from anything in the nature of partisan or party rancour. I am sure we all agree in feeling that the course of the Debate has been one which has conduced to the interests of education as a whole.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Nottingham (Sir J. Yoxall), than whom no one is more entitled to speak on the subject of education, commented upon the unsatisfactory condition of the staffing of the elementary schools during the War. I have had some inquiry made into that question, and I am glad to be able to inform the House that although the school staffing has suffered to some extent, and suffered considerably, still the reduction in the number of teachers has not been as great as is generally supposed. In fact, the reduction in the actual number of teachers is comparatively small, although I am free to admit that the reduction is inevitable at the present time.


On a point of Order, Sir. Is it not possible for the right hon. Gentleman to speak without these continual interruptions from Members on the Back Benches behind me?


Is the hon. Member above the Gangway in the Chair or not?


I am speaking under circumstances of a little difficulty, and it is very seldom that I address the House in Committee. I was referring to the result of the inquiry that I have made on behalf of the Board of Education with regard to the staffing of the schools at the present time, and I have taken at random a number of districts, and schools in several towns throughout the country, and I am able to give to the House the assurance that the staffing of the schools has on the whole been remarkably well kept up, although, owing to the substitution of less efficient for more efficient teachers, the quality of the staffing has undoubtedly diminished. Two hon. Members, in the course of the Debate, have referred to the education that is given in our rural schools. I am glad to be able to say that there has been a very great improvement in that respect, and that even during the War a considerable improvement has taken place in that regard. We have now no less than 3,000 schools which have taken up the subject of gardening, which is very popular both with the pupils and the teachers. The Departmental Committee over which I presided had some most interesting facts given to it by the hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary to the Food Control Department (Captain Bathurst), in which he described the results of school gardening upon the general progress of schools in this country. The information which he gave us was of a most remarkable character. The Committee may rest assured that the Board are doing everything in their power, even in the difficult circumstances of the present time, to improve rural education, and as soon as the War will allow them to do so the Committee may be satisfied that the Board will strive under the guidance of my right hon. Friend to make every possible progress in this direction.

The hon. Member for Nottingham has not altogether surrendered to the charms of the formula which was set forth by my right hon. Friend and has expressed some apprehension lest the local education authority should not make the fullest and best use of the Grants which will be placed at their disposal. I would ask him to bear in mind that the Board of Education do retain the power in their hands before paying the Grant in any future year of having regard to the provisions made in the whole area for maintaining an adequate and suitable staff of teachers. If the Board arc not satisfied then, as my right hon. Friend has already said, they may withhold or reduce the Supplementary Grant. In addition to that, my right hon. Friend has expressed the intention of establishing a minimum scale of salary for teachers. That being so, a considerable portion of this additional Grant must necessarily be absorbed in that. To that extent, therefore, my hon. Member may be assured that the interests of the teachers will be safe- guarded. As regards what remains of the Grant, the position is this: of local education authorities who now desire to do their duty by education but having a large child population and having a low assessable value, and at the same time having spent as much as they possibly could afford on education, are in a position of being wholly unable to do anything more, such authorities will receive a generous share of this Grant, and when they receive that share they will receive a further three-fifths of what they may desire to spend on teachers' salaries. I therefore hope my hon. Friend will consider that the interests of the teachers have been duly safeguarded. We shall all, I am sure, watch with great care the manner in which this Grant is to be administered. There were other questions I should have been glad to enter upon, and, notwithstanding what my hon. Friend has said, I would very earnestly appeal to him to allow this Vote to pass to-night.


I have a lot of suggestions to make.


The situation is this: The local education authorities want to know what the position is with regard to those Grants. The Grants will be distributed to the local education authorities in accordance with the principles laid down by my right hon. Friend. What objection can there be to passing this Vote and, if it is desired, to have another discussion upon the subject; by all means let us have another discussion on the Report stage.


I have a lot of suggestions to make now.


I can only conclude by making that appeal to my hon. Friend. There has been great unanimity of feeling in the House on the whole. I hardly ever heard a large Grant of this kind proposed which has aroused more general support, and in the circumstances I do hope my hon. Friend will allow it to pass.

It being Eleven of the Clock, the Deputy-Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.