HC Deb 02 July 1918 vol 107 cc1659-81

(1) The Board of Education shall subject to the provisions of this Act by regulations provide for the payment to local education authorities out of moneys provided by Parliament of annual substantive Grants in aid of education of such amount and subject to such conditions and limitations as may be prescribed in the regulation, and nothing in any Act of Parliament shall prevent the Board of Education from paying Grants to an authority in respect of any expenditure which the authority may lawfully incur.

(2) Subject to the regulations made under the next succeeding Sub-section, the total sums paid to a local education authority out of moneys provided by Parliament and the local taxation account in aid of elementary education or education other than elementary as the case may be shall not be less than one-half of the net expenditure of the authority recognised by the Board of Education as expenditure in aid of which Parliamentary Grants should be made to the authority, and if the total sums so paid to an authority in respect of any year fall short of one-half of that expenditure there shall be paid to that authority out of moneys provided by Parliament a deficiency Grant equal to the amount of the deficiency, provided that a deficiency Grant shall not be so paid as to make good to the authority any deductions made from substantive Grant.

(3) The Board of Education may make regulations for the purpose of determining how the amount of any deficiency Grant payable under this Section shall be ascertained, and those regulations shall, if the Treasury so direct, provide for the exclusion in the ascertainment of that amount of all or any sums paid by any Government department other than the Board of Education and of all or any expenditure which in the opinion of the Board of Education is attributable to a service in respect of which payments are made by a Government department other than the Board of Education.

(4) The fee Grant under the Elementary Education Act, 1891, as amended by the Elementary Education (Fee Grant) Act, 1916, the Aid Grant under Section ten of the Education Act, 1902, and the small population Grant under Section nineteen of the Elementary Education Act, 1876, as amended by the Education Code (1890) Act, 1890, and the Education (Small Population Grants) Act, 1915, shall cease on the appointed day.

(5) If, by reason of the failure of an authority to perform its duties under the Education Acts or to comply with the conditions on which Grants are made, the deficiency Grant is reduced or a deduction is made from any substantive Grant exceeding five hundred pounds or the amount which would be produced by a rate of a halfpenny in the pound whichever is the less, the Board of Education shall cause to be laid before Parliament a report stating the amount of and the reasons for the reduction or deduction.

(6) Any regulations made by the Board of Education for the payment of Grants shall be laid before Parliament as soon as may be after they are made.


I beg to move, in Subsection (1), after the word "of" ["in aid of education"], to insert the words "the provision of school premises and in aid of the."

This raises the question of a building grant, but I suppose on this Amendment, Mr. Whitley, you will allow a rather wide discussion, as usual, on the Clause. I shall endeavour not to recur again and again—


No; the hon. Member must not say "as usual." It is rather usual for Members to attempt it, but, I hope, not for the Chairman to permit it. We will take the points one by one, discuss the particular point, and have no discussion on the Clause until we come to the end.


I only wish to conform to your wishes, Mr. Whitley. The first point of this very important Clause, which I greatly regret is reached just at dinnertime when the attendance will be inadequate, is this definite proposal that there should be a building grant. There ought, I think, to be a grant for building which would enable local authorities to undertake what is now, or is going to be at an early date, one of the most difficult and pressing points in the whole of our educational system. We have nothing like buildings enough. For the ten years after the Act of 1902 there were repeated attempts at settling on a new basis the education of the country, and especially with a view to the question of providing buildings and additional school places and on what basis that provision should be made. There was one Bill after another introduced. The result was that the local authorities were always complaining that they could not build now because there was legislation immediately ahead. So we went on for ten or twelve years until the War came, and now the War is going to last for another period of years—there will be the demobilisation and reconstruction period—and then the time it will take to put this Bill into force. The result is that when you come to put this Bill into force as a working proposition, with the continuation schools and the nursery schools at the other end of child life, when you come to work this Bill as an education system you will have a great deficiency of school places and school buildings. My proposal is to begin here with the new system of grants you are elaborating by this Clause, and to say that these local authorities who put up new buildings shall have a definite grant towards them. I know there are provisions for granting loans to local authorities, but I want a definite building grant. There is provision for various purposes—land, and equipment. I want a definite system of the encouragement of local authorities to have new buildings, or buildings which will be so transformed and brought up to date that they may be capable of receiving the building grant. The first six years after 1902, with the six complete years before, showed that there was an actual decrease of buildings throughout the country. That is very remarkable. On the other hand, at the same time building funds were granted for training colleges, and you had as the result training colleges put up by local authorities. The training college difficulty is one of the few difficulties that really were settled and brought into a distinctly better position in the years following 1902.

Many questions of education were left unsolved by the Act of 1902. The training college question was practically solved by the training colleges of the local authorities. The latter were encouraged by the building grant to a policy which has been a great success. Here is a very good instance—in fact, I am sure no one on the Treasury Bench will deny that that policy of the building grant is one which has a good deal to recommend it. We may be told that there is a difficulty in the Act of 1870. Some people may say, "If you give a building grant to the local authorities you must give also to the voluntary schools." That might be said; but it could be seriously met, because building at the present time is not being done at all by those connected with the voluntary associations or schools. All that the voluntary schools ask, all that was intended by the Act of 1902, was that they should retain what they had got, and not add to it. The new buildings have always been considered to be the work of the local authority, and though it does not prevent the voluntary schools being met, yet it was definitely contemplated and understood—as the result actually proved to be case!—that the new building is the affair of the local authority. The new schools are provided schools. Not only so, but a large number of the non-provided schools are being handed over. I could give a good deal more of fact and suggestion in support of my contention, but I think I have said enough to make what I have said worthy of a serious reply from the Treasury Bench.


I confess I look upon this proposition with some misgiving. The so-called compromise of 1902, to which my hon. Friend has referred, left all the denominational schools in this difficulty, that for the purpose of teaching any religious instruction whatever under denominational auspices the denominations themselves had to provide the building, whilst the people who had to do that were also payers of rates, which rates were used for the purpose of supporting council schools. They also, in addition to paying their rates like others, had to subscribe out of their own pockets for the land to build upon and subsequently to support the fabric of the different schools which were used for denominational purposes. I am one of those who have always believed in religious instruction for the young. No system of education is ever satisfactory, and certainly it is not complete, unless it includes some reasonable amount of religious instruction. I confess that I think the owners of denominational schools were rather unfairly treated in the compromise of 1902. Be that as it may, the position we now see to-day under this Bill is that there are certain special schools—which are indicated: there are continuation schools and there are central schools in addition to the ordinary primary schools. How is it going to be possible for a body like the Church of England, the Catholics, the Wesleyans, or any other denominational body, to have their schools in any towns, such, say, as Liverpool, in order to insist upon the carrying out of the continuity of their religious instruction; to acquire land and to bear the expenditure of large sums of money on the building of these special schools, in order that they may safeguard the continuance of religious instruction for the members of those bodies? I do not see how it is going to be done.

I have been in communication with the President of the Board of Education. I have a letter on this subject from him to-night in reply to my communication. It is very difficult, in a few moments, to grasp the contents of a letter of three or four pages like this in my hand, because I understand that there was no intention in this Bill anywhere to interfere with the compromise of 1902. I certainly think that if these Grants, which are the subject of the present Amendment, are to be made, or authorised, from national or Imperial funds for the special purposes of building and repairing buildings which are to be used by one class of students, the thing ought certainly to be enlarged, so that they may include other classes, including those people who attach such importance to religious instruction. If in any reply to this Amendment we were given any assurance upon this point that perhaps we are looking at matters and are being suspicious of the intentions of the Bill, and that no such intentions exist, then, of course, I do not want to stand here and be a party to raising any unnecessary difficulty or wasting the time of the House. I confess that the subject does present to my mind some very considerable difficulties. The financial difficulty of denominations seems to be likely to be very much accentuated and increased in the whole scope of the Bill unless there is some power or authority under which the denominational people can participate in some reasonable manner in these special schools, such as continuation and central schools, which are now part of the system embodied in the Bill. I do not see anything in Clause 38 or in this Amendment now before the Committee which helps to solve this particular difficulty. It seems to me that the Amendment the hon. Member has proposed would make matters worse. He wants to secure by this Amendment the statutory-right to the central education authority of the Kingdom to give special Grants in favour of buildings that would be used for one class of school only. We have in Liverpool an important Jewish community. They have their own schools, and they attach great importance to their own views of religion in these matters. I do not see that they would have any protection in connection with any of the special schools indicated. It is suggested that there would be power anywhere to give them a Grant either towards their school buildings or towards erecting and maintaining either a department or a special school of the kind indicated. The same applies to Roman Catholics, the Church, and the Wesleyans.

I hear rumours that certain Members of this House who are authorised far more than I am in any way to represent some particular religious denomination have had interviews with the Board of Education, and have received assurances which have satisfied them on this subject. I have had no satisfactory communications, although I have written to the Board of Education about it, and it seems to me to be just one of those points in reference to this financial difficulty which all denominations find themselves in to-day. It is one of the points, when we are discussing a Clause of this kind, which bears directly upon authorising Grants from the national funds, and it is a question which calls for an authoritative statement on the part of the Government as to what they really intend by the Clause, what the scope of it is, what the Regulations suggested are going to embody, and the general body of Members of Parliament should be able to get here and in public the assurances which certain other Members have received privately. So far as I can see the Amendment proposed would be a great mistake.

Colonel W. THORNE

I hope that this Clause will give local authorities like the Borough of West Ham and other places of a similar character some real financial help. The education rate in West Ham is most intolerable. At present we have a rate of 3s. 6d.—3s. 1½d. for elementary and 5d. for higher education. The teachers are asking for an advance of salaries, and that will amount to anything between £70,000 or £80,000, which will mean an extra 1s. rate so far as the Borough of West Ham is concerned. If a broad interpretation is placed upon this Clause, I think many local education authorities will get substantial relief. The Clause says and nothing in any Act of Parliament shall prevent the Board of Education from paying Grant to an authority in respect of any expenditure which the authority may lawfully incur. Surely if you advance the salaries of the teachers and the caretakers and incur other expenditure, I should say that that is lawful expenditure! If that is so, surely we should be entitled to appeal to the Board of Education to give some substantial Grants in connection with the expenditure that will be incurred.


Will the hon. and gallant Member say what he thinks of my Amendment which is in favour of building grants?

Colonel THORNE

I am not concerned so much whether it is in favour of building grants or any other grants, so long as we can get the cash from the Government. As long as the President of the Board of Education will give a broad interpretation of this particular Clause, I am convinced that many local education authorities will get some substantial relief. We thank the Board of Education for giving the Borough of West Ham the grant of £35,000, which has helped us very considerably; but, in spite of that, we are labouring under great difficulties in consequence of the extraordinary rate that has to be levied. The result is that the grants which have been made to some of the local education authorities have been devoted absolutely to increasing the salaries of the teachers, and the effect of that has been in a number of cases the drawing away of teachers. I hope the Board of Education will place a broad interpretation upon this particular Clause.


My hon. Friend who moved this Amendment has taken the keenest interest in the question of school buildings and their equipment ever since he entered Parliament, and I am not surprised that he should have hit upon Clause 38 to raise at the commencement a question in which he takes so deep an interest. I am doubtful, however, whether his Amendment, if inserted in the Bill, would have any effect whatever in the direction he desires. It would impose upon the Board of Education a duty by Regulations to provide for the payment to local education authorities of annual Grants in aid of the provision of school premises of such an amount as may have been prescribed. But really this cannot confer any security upon local authorities, because the amount might be so small as to be of no account whatever. May I say, also, that the words "school premises" referred to in the Amendment are of a rather vague character? My hon. Friend behind me has raised a general question upon which I think it would be more fitting that the President of the Board of Education should speak, and I hope there will be an opportunity later on for him to do so.

He has raised the question of the building provision for continuation schools, and for the new buildings which will be generally required under the provisions of the present Bill. There can be no doubt that the bulk of the building provision to be made for continuation schools will fall upon the local education authorities. I imagine that almost the whole of it will fall upon the local education authorities, but the Clause provides, and it has always been understood from the outset, that is to be expenditure which can be recognised by the Board of Education as expenditure in aid of which Parliamentary Grants may be made to the authority. The amount of the Parliamentary Grant has not yet been settled, but my right hon. Friend has indicated in general terms what is the attitude of the Treasury towards it, and there can be no doubt that a provision of this kind will be expenditure in respect of which Parliamentary Grants may be made. With regard to the voluntary provision that may be made for continuation schools, that stands upon the same footing as the provision which is made at the present time for education higher than elementary by voluntary associations. They receive help towards the maintenance of that education. They do not receive building grants, but on the other hand they have the right of private control, and it has all along been understood that the right is balanced to some extent by the additional provision which private bodies have to make. I have pointed out to my hon. Friend that the effect of his Amendment might be so small as to be negligible, and I put it to him that under the circumstances it is one which ought not to be pressed further.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Sir D. Maclean)

That covers the next Amendment.


No; it raises a different point. I am not quite sure that it reads correctly. There should be the word "the" inserted before the word "education" ["in aid of education"]. Then the words on the Paper—after the word "education" insert the words "of each scholar in average attendance or on the roll of the schools and"—would follow as a consequential Amendment, making the Clause read— Annual substantive Grants in aid of the education of each scholar in average attendance or on the roll of the schools, etc. I beg to move, after the word "of" ["in aid of education"], to insert the word "the."

It will be seen at once that this Amendment raises quite a, different principle. It raises the principle that the Grants which are to be given by the Board of Education should be on the basis of the number of children educated—per capita Grants. This is quite different from the question of Grants towards buildings which was raised by the last Amendment. I look upon this Amendment as one of the most important, certainly upon this Clause, and one of the most important that has been moved or that can be moved upon the Bill, because by this Amendment I want to restore a principle that has governed the Grants that have been given to local authorities ever since the Act of 1870. Those Grants have been given on the basis of the number of children in average attendance. The number of children on the roll has therefore always been a question of primary importance to the local authorities. The whole idea of our education has been based upon this broad principle that the Government gives to each child who ought to be in school a definite minimum sum which can be increased under certain circumstances. It is increased if there is efficiency and so on, but for each child there is a definite sum. That principle now is to be given away. There is to be what is called the Block Grant and that Block Grant will be determined without any reference to the number of children.




I am wrong in saying without any consideration to the number of children, but, of course, it will be indirectly and not directly determined by the number of children. The Block Grant, in other words, will be given to the school. It is going to be to the advantage of the local authority, having got the school, to let the stupid, the dunce, and the troublesome child go and never bring it to school at all. It will be an actual incentive to teachers and authorities to let the unwelcome child alone. They are not going to derive any advantage from having an increased number in regular attendance. That principle, which has been one of the definite principles of our policy—there is a great deal to be said for it—is to go. The per capita Grant is going to be a thing of the past. It is the one Grant which has been definite and clear. It has been the regular basis of Grants for public elementary schools, and this is a point upon which the House of Commons ought to stand up. I shall be very glad to go to a Division if the President of the Board of Education cannot give way. He is breaking with a long tradition of Parliamentary Grants by doing away with the per capita Grant. He is also doing away with a great deal of the control both of Parliament and of the local authority. It has always been a good thing for the local authority to be able to say, "We have got so many children, and if we only have places for them we get definite support for having brought them in." That has had a double effect. It has increased their vigilance in regard to school attendance. The truant and the dunce who are liable to become criminal children have been brought into school and have been looked after, and, if necessary, they have been sent to industrial and reformatory schools. They have been looked after from the very first, because it has been to the financial interests of the local authorities. In future it is not going to be to the interests of the local authorities to look after them. That is a very serious question, though, of course, a great deal will be said and a great deal can be said in favour of Block Grants from the administrative point of view, and also certain educational points of view. I like the principle of the Block Grants, but, on the broad democratic view of attempting to get a good education for all, with every child in its place and a place for every child, you are striking a great blow at that principle by doing away with the per capita Grants. You are doing away with a great principle of Parliamentary control. There are other points I might bring out. For instance, I might take certain localities, and show how it would work there. I am quite sure this is a new departure, which must be justified if it is going to be adopted. Therefore I have no hesitation in moving this Amendment, and I hope that either this Amendment will be accepted or some concession will be made in the same direction.


I hope the President of the Board of Education will not accept this Amendment. I have come to the conclusion, after hearing many speeches from the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, that he must have had a very unfortunate experience of education authorities. I have known a great many, but I have never known any who have systematically neglected the education of any child simply for the sake of earning money. I look upon it as a very great slur upon education authorities that any Member of this House should suggest such a thing. My personal view is that this Clause has been very wisely fashioned. It has been introduced to meet a very great financial difficulty, and I, for one, as the chairman of a large authority, very cordially welcome it.

Colonel THORNE

I am very much surprised at the statements made by the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King), because, if the interpretation he has placed on this Clause is correct, I am amazed that none of the local education authorities are up in arms against it. So far as I know, not a single education authority has protested in the slightest degree against the Clause. I am convined that if such an interpretation could be placed on the Clause my own local authority would have protested against it. Therefore, I am not prepared to support the Amendment.

9.0 P.M.


My hon. Friend who moved this Amendment desires, it seems to me, to perpetuate and even to extend the system by which Grants in respect of elementary education are based on the number of scholars in average attendance The Amendment seems to extend the system, because the first Sub-section of Clause 38 relates to both elementary and higher education, and the effect of the Amendment seems to be to set up average attendance or numbers on the roll, not only as one basis of calculating Grants, but also as the only possible basis of calculating Grants. That is not the case now, even in the realm of elementary education For example, Grants in respect of medical treatment have no relation whatever to the number of scholars in average attendance. There are several forms of Grants at present, and it is possible that there may be even more in future, which cannot be based upon the numbers in attendance. For example, Grants might possibly be made in aid of scholarships and maintenance allowances. My hon. Friend said that there was a great deal to be said for this system and a good deal to be said against it. I cordially agree with him that there is a good deal to be said against it. The minds of educationists all over the country have been moving during the last few years in the direction which is indicated by this Clause. The system which we are altering is one which has been found undesirable both on educational and on administrative grounds. After all, educationally the question in connection with Grants is not only the number of children who attend, but the excellence and efficiency of the education that is given to the children who do attend. There should be a power to assess Grants not only with reference to what an authority does, but also with reference to what an authority has left undone and to the efficiency with which it has done what it has undertaken to do. I do not lay so much stress upon the administrative objections, although those are very serious, and, I need hardly say, particularly serious in time of war. The existing system involves both centrally and locally an enormous multiplication of clerical labour, because the authority has to make the most elaborate and exact calculations of average attendance on which to base its claim, and the central Department, in turn, has to take efficient measures for checking the correctness of the claims. I remember that on the first day I went to the Board of Education I was taken to see the various Departments, and among other interesting things which I saw were a number of calculating machines. Let me assure the Committee that there is every possible need for the lessening of labour so far as possible by means of calculating machines in the Board of Education owing to the existing system. If I remember rightly, my hon. Friend in the course of his speech expressed some apprehension that the law of school attendance would not be enforced in future so well as it has been in the past owing to this change. May I draw his attention to the Supplementary Grant Regulations, the principles of which are similar to those which are adopted in this particular Clause? In those Supplementary Grant Regulations the Board have expressly mentioned that the efficiency with which the law of school attendance is administered is one of the matters to which they will have regard in future in assessing Grants, so that my hon. Friend need not fear that the Board of Education in making the Supplementary Grant Regulations and in administering them and the law as it will be under this Clause are not taking due care to see that some of the salutary features of the law of school attendance at the present time are preserved. Average attendance, after all, is and must remain an essential factor in the calculation of Grants for elementary education. All the old inducements to maintain a high average are preserved, and, in addition, an encouragement is given, by the new system of Grants, to a liberal expenditure upon those children who do attend, and that is one of the most important features of this Clause.


The Amendment may, perhaps, be carried a little further than my hon. Friend intended. I do not think he has in mind a system of Grants based upon average attendance alone, regardless of all the other factors, both of the character of the locality and of the efficiency of the education that is given. What he attaches importance to is that average attendance should be an element in whatever formula is adopted for calculating the Block Grant. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Lewis) tells us that will be the case, and average attendance will remain an element. That seems to contradict to some extent what he said previously as to the disadvantage of throwing upon local authorities the great burden of maintaining statistics of average attendance and so forth.


These statistics will, of course, be enormously reduced under the new system. It will not be necessary in future to enter into the elaborate calculations which have been required.


All simplification is an advantage, of course, but the point of importance which my hon. Friend and some others have in mind is this: Hitherto it has been a statutory requirement, as I understand, that Grants shall be based upon average attendance. I think it appears in Statutes.


Only in respect of elementary education.


I am speaking of elementary schools. Now for the first time that is being struck out, and the matter is being left to administrative regulation. There is a certain risk that some education authorities may become a little slack in the resolute enforcement of the attendance of the children, always a very unpopular and disagreeable thing, if they are entirely relieved from any financial consequences. I do not want to cast any reflection upon education authorities in general, and I do not suggest that this will be the rule, or that it will become widespread. But there are some education authorities here and there who do not have that zeal for education which the more progressive ones have. If they saw an opportunity of relaxing the rules of attendance or giving the children more excuses for staying at home, and not prosecuting where prosecutions were necessary, and if the effect of it would be in the first place that they would not have to provide quite so many buildings for their children, and, the average attendance being less, their capital charges might be less heavy, or might be postponed, and, at the same time, there was no alteration made in their annual Grant from the Board of Education, you might have a spirit creeping into the administration of some of these authorities which would be very deleterious to the education or the children. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Lewis) says "we shall keep a watch on this, and we shall not give Supplementary Grants if the local education authorities become slack in that way." It is very difficult to detect, unless you do it statistically, how far these excuses which are given to the children are really valid. So long as there is a very direct financial penalty falling upon the local education authorities, if their average attendance falls below a certain point, the thing regulates itself almost automatically, and you have not to depend on your system of inspection to try to detect tendencies of that kind. My right hon. Friend says, "in any case this is going to be done. We are going to keep average attendance as one element among others in the Block Grant." I do not think we wish for more than that. The only question is whether that ought not to be implied in the Statute itself. That is the whole question now at issue. I do not attach importance, neither does my hon. Friend (Mr. King), to the particular words that he has chosen. The question is whether it might not be desirable to insert in the Bill some words which would indicate that the House of Commons is seised of the importance of maintaining in perpetuity average attendance as one of the elements of the Grants which it pays.


I am in complete accord with the desire of the right hon. Gentleman, as I am sure the whole Committee will be. As I understand it, he is particularly keen that there shall be no slackening in the efforts of the local authorities to administer stringently their attendance by-laws. In my view the Clause which the Government now proposes will do more to achieve what the right hon. Gentleman desires than existing legislation can do. Under existing conditions it is possible for an authority to be slack in administering its attendance by-laws and suffer some diminution of the Grant, which does not, as it were, inflict that penalty upon them that it should. It is not a sufficient deterrent. But, under this new Clause, the local authorities, under the Regulations which the Board may make for supplementary Grants, may make such a reduction in excess of what the loss would be under existing enactments as will make it worth the while of the authority to keep up to the mark, and will punish it more than it is punished to-day if it falls below a proper standard in administering its attendance by-laws. What I hope the Board will do in administering the Clause is to keep a very strict eye indeed upon the way the local authorities administer their attendance by-laws. If I understand the attitude of the Board aright, that they will most certainly do, for that has been their disposition, so far as I have been able to observe, in recent years. The right hon. Gentleman appears to think statistics will not be available to the Board from which to draw the proper deductions as to whether a local authority is doing its duty adequately in the matter of attendance. He need have no fear of that, for there must be an annual return to the Board, which must include the amount of the average attendance for each local authority in respect, no doubt, of each one of its schools. What the Board of Education is going to save centrally is this compilation of enormous statistics and their examination, which, I believe, must absorb an enormous quantity of valuable and highly-paid labour, in addition to what the machines do for the Board.

What will happen locally is this: It will save the teachers and the local authorities an enormous amount of labour in compiling these statistics as the result of the Chinese puzzle of the present Grants in aid of English elementary education. We all know what the right hon. Gentleman is able to do in departmental work, and if he devoted his attention to this question of the multiplicity of Grants to local authorities for elementary education he would be astounded. There are about eight separate Grants. The whole thing requires, and has required for a long time, proper consolidation. It gets it for the first time under this Bill. That is one of the enormous advantages of the Bill. Administratively Clause 38 is one of its best features. I hope proper regard will be had to this subject of attendance, which is vital, but after some experience of education and of compiling the enormous quantities of statistics which the Board requires, naturally, for the proper assessment of this multiplicity of Grants, I believe this Clause is going to operate advantageously, not only centrally for the Board but locally, in diminution of the enormous labour which is absorbed in compiling statistics in respect of the multiplicity of Grants. I think the fears which have been expressed by the hon. Member for North Somerset and the right hon. Member for Cleveland are ill-founded, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will carry on with this Clause and have it passed through with the remainder of the Bill.


I am quite convinced by what the hon. Member who has just spoken has said that this Clause means a simplification and an improvement. We are quite convinced on that point; but the point which the right hon. Member for Cleveland put is, I think, a real one. I think the hon. Member who has just spoken has explained that everything really will depend upon the administration of the Board of Education. If they choose to insist upon strict observance of attendance everything will go well, and so long as my right hon. Friend is at the Board of Education I have no fears; but we are substituting for automatic pressure in the direction of keeping up the attendance at school an arrangement which is flexible but not automatic, and depends upon the administration of the Board. When there is a different regime at the Board of Education and a desire to cut down things in view of what are sometimes called the swollen education estimates, it seems to me that a simple way to do it will be for the Board of Education to allow things to go lax, and thereby to reduce the expenditure, and in that way you might get a scaling down. I am not quite certain whether it is really safe to leave the matter to the administration of the day rather than to statutory Regulations, which have hitherto safeguarded attendance at school. I think that is the real point of what my right hon. Friend was saying.


I should like to supplement what has been said from the Front Bench opposite. All those of us who have had experience in our own areas know that one thing that has led school attendance committees to be diligent was the feeling that it was not fair to neglect school attendance. As one who has had to map out committees, I know the difficulty of getting people to serve on school attendance committees, and those of us who have had experience on the Bench know the great disinclination of country magistrates to convict and fine. The one thing that has appealed to the school attendance committees has been the feeling that it was not fair that the Grant should be lost through any negligence on the part of the authority in the performance of a disagreeable task. I rather lean to the view of the right hon. Member for Cleveland in his suggestion that we should have some indication in the Statute if we can. That is a practical argument that always appeals to us, not so much from the pounds, shillings, and pence point of view, but from the feeling that it is not fair that the Grant should be lost through dilatoriness in regard to school attendance.


I am afraid I cannot accept the hon. Member's Amendment. We have to remember that this Section deals with education in general and not merely with elementary education. It deals with secondary education as well; so that if the point of the right hon. Member for Cleveland was accepted it would not really be met by the acceptance of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Somerset. I think, perhaps, the right hon. Member for Cleveland did not sufficiently realise the extent to which, under the Regulations for Supplementary Grants, regard is had to the factor of school attendance. That is a factor which is as accurately and as carefully calculated in assessing the amount of Grant as I think any purist or enthusiast in school attendance could desire. It is the full intention of the Board that school attendance should be made a factor in the calculation of Grant. It is an error to suppose that there is a general statutory guarantee under the existing state of things for elementary Grants based upon school attendance. There is, it is perfectly true, in respect of two elementary school Grants, the Aid Grant and the Fee Grant, such a statutory provision, but only in respect of those two Grants. I think the right hon. Member for Cleveland may be confident that the Board of Education will have due regard to school attendance in its administration of Supplementary Grants.

Amendment negatived.


The next Amendment, standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Glasgow University (Sir H. Craik)—at the end of Subsection (1) insert the words and the Board of Education may require that as a condition of receiving such Grants, the authority shall pay salaries to their teacher not less than those shown on a scale to be prescribed from time to time"— is not in order here. The succeeding Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for the North-West Division of Lanarkshire (Mr. Whitehouse), and other hon. Members—at the end of Sub-section (l) insert the words, Provided always that the local education authority to whom such Grants are payable gives no privilege or differentiation of salary to any teacher on the grounds of sex"— cannot be dealt with here at all. If the point it raises were to be dealt with it is outside the scope of the Bill to deal with it here.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the words, Subject to the Regulations made under the next succeeding Sub-section. I do so not in any hostility to the Bill, as representing the municipalities of the Kingdom, all of whom are very warm supporters of the Bill and desire to make it as complete as possible. In their opinion, however, this Clause as it stands with the words which I propose to delete would allow the Board of Education to make Regulations which would override the provisions of the Clause. It is of great importance to the municipalities that the Clause should be quite clear as it provides for the minimum grant of one half the education committee's expenditure. I am sure the education authority do not wish to override the municipalities, but wish in every way to treat them fairly. There are certain Amendments which I propose subsequently to move, but even if the alterations were made the education authorities would have power to override the provisions of the Clause if the words which I am proposing to leave out were allowed to remain in the Clause. As the Clause at present stands the Grant by Parliament will be based on the expenditure of the two years previously. I venture to think that that is hardly a fair method of dealing with expenditure, and I propose to ask in subsequent Amendments that the Clause shall be altered by basing the Grant on the expenditure of the year, instead of the expenditure of the two years previously. We must all be of opinion that the two years previously would afford a false basis on which to found the Grants of this Education Bill. I will, therefore, move the first of my Amendments.


I do not know whether the hon. Member who moved this Amendment has had an opportunity to acquaint himself with the Amendments which stand in my name to a later part of the Clause, but I have drafted these Amendments with a view to meeting his point of view, and if it be in order I will now explain my Amendments, which I think cover the point he had in view, and which, as a matter of drafting, are more acceptable to the Government. I take it the hon. Member's principal anxiety is to revise the system of calculation so that the Grants shall be payable in respect of the expenditure in the year in question.


Yes; that is my point.


And it is the point aimed at by my Amendment. The intention of the Board is that the Grants payable within each year should be such as comply with the provisions of the Sub-section as to their minimum amount. It has, however, been pointed out that the Clause as drafted gives only the assurance that the Grants should be paid in respect of the year, and that a considerable time may elapse before the total amount can be arrived at in respect of that year. It is proposed therefore to alter the words so as to make the condition applicable to the sums payable within the year. The Amendment has this further advantage, that the period for which the subsequent Grants are made are not uniform. Some Grants are in respect of the financial year, and others in respect of the academic year, and while this difference between the Grants continues it is impossible to arrive at any true total of the Grants payable in respect of the financial year. The amount payable in the financial year is easier ascertained, as my Amendment makes the minimum condition applicable to the sums payable in the year rather than to the sums paid in the year. Under the present system there is a slight overlapping from one financial year to another, and I think my Amendments will provide a more steady basis for reckoning the Grant which can be more easily forecast. I may say that the whole of the ordinary Grants for elementary education have already for many years past been reckoned on this basis, and it is done for the purpose of calculating the new Supplementary Grants. The basis is one which is very well understood by the local education authorities, and I therefore submit that my Amendments will really meet the point raised by the hon. Member.


I desire to support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend, but I gather from the right hon. Gentleman that he considers his own proposals meet the wishes of my hon. Friend in a form more satisfactory to himself, and if that be the case probably my hon. Friend will not think it necessary to press his Amendment.


I have some information which may help the Committee to understand the right hon. Gentleman's Amendments. In the case of my own authority in the financial year ending 31st March, 1917, Grants amounting to £11,712 were received in the year 1917–18, and for the financial year 1917–18 Grants amounting to £21,332 were received in the year 1918–19. If the figures were taken as applying to the expenditure of the year in which they were paid, it would affect the latter amount to the extent of some thousands of pounds. I think the right hon. Gentleman is suggesting an improved method of calculation.


The suggested Amendments of the right hon. Gentleman deal quite satisfactorily with the question of period, but they do not touch the point raised by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Sir J. Harmood Banner) on the subject of the Regulations made in the Subsection, which lays it down that moneys provided by Parliament out of the local taxation account shall not be less than one-third of the net expenditure. The insertion of the first line of the Subsection leaves it an open question whether the Board of Education may not alter the whole effect of the Regulation and so deprive the local education authority of the money intended to be provided for it by Parliament.


I think it is quite clear that the efficiency Grant must be calculated in accordance with certain Regulations, and consequently in the Clause establishing the efficiency Grant there must be some reference to the Regulations in accordance with which the Grant is to be calculated. The general character of these Regulations is indicated in Sub-section (3), and I do not see how the local education authority can have a more complete form of guarantee than that provided by the Clause.


I am satisfied with the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, and beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move, to leave out the word "and" ["Parliament and"], and to insert instead thereof the words "exclusive of the sums paid out of."

The object is to exclude in the calculation the amount paid out of the local taxation account, commonly known as the whisky money, which is the proceeds of certain additional Customs and Excise duties on spirits which were directed by the Act of 1890 to be carried to the local taxation account. The sum was originally used for technical education, and is now used for higher education, and if the right hon. Gentleman would meet us by letting us have this whisky money I shall be exceedingly obliged.


I am afraid that I am unable to accept this Amendment. The deficiency Grant is strictly related to the expenditure on education. The whisky money has nothing to do with expenditure on education. This amount is determined by quite different considerations, and the effect of this Amendment would be that while one authority would get 50 per cent. of its net expenditure another authority would get a far larger percentage.

Amendment negatived.

Amendments made: Leave out the words "so paid," and insert instead thereof the words "payable out of those moneys."

Leave out the words "respect of."

After the word "paid" ["shall be paid"], insert the words "by the Board of Education."

In Sub-section (3), after the word "ascertained," insert the words "and paid."—[Mr. Fisher.]

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 39 (Power to Constitute Official Trustees of Educational Trust Property), 40 (Exemption of Assurance of Property for Educational Purposes from Certain Restrictions under the Mortmain Acts), 41 (Appointment of New Trustees under Scheme), 42 (Definitions), 43 (Extension of Certain Provisions of the Education Acts), and 44 (Repeals) ordered to stand part of the Bill.