§ (1) This Act may be cited as the Education Act, 1918, and shall be read as one with the Education Acts, 1870 to 1916, and those Acts and this Act, may be cited together as the Education Acts, 1870 to 1918, and are in this Act referred to as "the Education Acts."
§ (2) This Act shall not extend to Scotland or Ireland.
§ (3) This Act shall come into operation on the appointed day, and the appointed day shall be such day as the Board of Education may appoint, and different days may be appointed for different purposes and for different provisions of this Act, for different areas or parts of areas, and for different persons or classes of persons.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. C. ROBERTS
There is a great number of emendations to other Acts which have now to be cited in this Bill, which, when an Act, will have to be construed with other Education Acts. I have frequently asked Departments to be good enough to codify and consolidate their Acts, and the Education Acts are now getting into such a tangle that an ordinary person finds it extraordinarily difficult to put them together. We have had to deal with Clauses in this Bill, the meaning of which we could not tell until we looked up three or four Acts of Parliament. I am certain that my right hon. Friend would sympathise with my desire to get this law written down in a clear form. Possibly he might consider whether, without putting undue strain on an overworked Department, he could make some arrangement at a later date to consolidate and codify the law on the subject, so that it might really be clear.
§ Sir R. NEWMAN
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether a married woman could be a "young person" within the meaning of this Bill?
Sir M. BARLOW
On the point which has been raised by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. C. Roberts), I may point out that codification is always a very long and very elaborate process, but we have found, in reference to other Acts of Parliament, that it was very convenient for the 1682 Government to issue a Command Paper, giving the portions of previous Acts that were still in force; and if that could be done with the Education Acts, it would be of very great assistance to us.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I regret that I was not here when the Clause was called. I had put down an Amendment which was the result of an agreement arrived at earlier in the Committee stage, and I understood that the right hon. Gentleman would accept it in a slightly altered form.
I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman. I fully intended to move the Amendment, but we proceeded so rapidly that the Clause was through before I had time to rise. I will promise that it will be inserted on Report.
§ Sir C. BATHURST
Sub-section (3) of this Clause provides that this Act shall come into operation on the appointed day, and the appointed day shall be such day as the Board of Education may appoint. Local education authorities are clamouring to know when this Act is likely to come into operation, because they have a great deal of administrative machinery to build up before they can administer this Act, and under this Clause it rests entirely within the discretion of the Board of Education to decide when the appointed day shall be. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should indicate the earliest possible moment what day he has in mind for bringing the Act into operation, in view of the fact that the Bill is, likely to become law at an early date—at any rate in the course of this Session. I hope that if the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to give an indication to-night, he will do so at the earliest possible moment, in the best interests of those who have to administer the Act after it is passed.
I quite appreciate the anxiety expressed by the hon. and gallant Member that some indication should be given to the local education authorities at the earliest possible opportunity as to the date at which the Act, or portions of the Act, will come into operation. It is quite clear that it is very desirable that some portions of the Act should come into operation at once, notably the financial portions just passed. We know there is anxiety on the part of the educational authorities that the financial Clauses should come into operation at once. On the other hand, there are Clauses such, 1683 for instance, as the Clauses relating to school attendance, which may not come into operation until the end of the War, and the Clause as to continuation schools, which may not come into operation until the local education authorities have had sufficient time to prepare their schemes. Consequently I am not able to give a definite indication as to the date, because it is quite clear that different parts of the Act must come into operation on different dates.
§ Sir C. BATHURST
Am I to understand the right hon. Gentleman that the only part he can say for certain will come into operation at once—and I presume he means by that after the Act has passed through both Houses and received the Royal Assent—will be that part which relates to finance?
Sir M. BARLOW
In the case of the Act of 1902 there was a date fixed, after eighteen months, for the Act to come into operation. It is quite clear that the Board must have greater freedom, owing to the War, than was given in connection with the Act of 1902, the circumstances now being abnormal. Still, I think it would be a great help to the authorities if some indication of a comprehensive character of what Clauses are to come into operation at once were given, and of what Clauses the operation is to be postponed. I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to do that to-night, but perhaps he can give us some assurance that before the Bill leaves this House he will give a general indication of what Clauses are to come into operation at once, and what Clauses are likely to be postponed for a considerable period?
I am sorry I did not answer the hon. Member's question. He perhaps recollects that the Government did accept an Amendment dealing with the subject. It was an Amendment, if I remember aright, inserted in Clause 10 of the Bill, and we are in a fair way to arrive at a scheme which will carry out the provisions of that Amendment, if it becomes law.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.