§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Mr. ACLAND
It is somewhat of an innovation that a Bill of this importance should be introduced under the Ten-minute Rule and Should not be moved by a speech from any of the Ministers who are responsible for it. I am not quite certain that the House will entirely welcome that innovation, particularly if they are asked to start this Debate by listening to me. I have been called upon at very short notice to take the place of colleagues who have been more closely connected with the Education Department than I have been—instead of listening to the Minister for Education or the Under-Secretary. I am bound to say that the chief feeling in my mind in approaching this subject is one of regret that more than seven months should have elapsed before we have reached this stage of considering the Bill, which in its main outlines is the same as the Bill which my right hon. Friend introduced in August last. I had hoped that we should have got further in this extraordinary vital matter before the middle of March was reached, and I am sure that the House will be glad to be assured by my right hon. Friend, when he speaks, that the Government are absolutely determined to get the Bill through. He can at any rate rely, so far as I am entitled to speak for those on this bench, that he will have the most cordial support possible in passing into law the central principles of the Bill. Looking back on the time that has elapsed since August, we may safely say that during the interval public opinion on the whole has been consolidating behind the Bill and in favour of it. I have tried in a small way to do what I am sure many hon. Members of this House have done. I have attended conferences and gatherings of persons who were anxious to have the Bill explained to them, and I 336 have become aware, as other hon. Members who have tried to do the same thing must have become aware, of a very steady backing behind the Bill, particularly from the great mass of our working-class population. There is, I believe, a solid determination that there shall be for all classes an extension of publicly-provided education throughout the years of adolescence, as there has long been for the small class that has been able to afford to pay for that education. Those who have been in any way in touch with what has been going on must have admired the tireless energy which the President of the Board of Education has shown in meeting persons and organisations interested in this matter. He has been largely responsible by the candid way in which he has been willing to explain his Bill to audiences friendly or hostile for the growing public approbation behind it, and he ought to be heartily congratulated. That is particularly the case with regard to his efforts to overcome the hostility to his proposal to abolish the half-time system. If I am correctly informed, already something like half the employers in the industries which have in the main made use of the half-timer are in favour of the abolition of the system, and for the first time the leaders of the trade unions, who, I am sorry to say, in the past have placed obstacles in the way of its removal, are definitely recommending to the trade unions, among whom they are going to take a ballot, that the system henceforward should be abolished. Knowing something of the strength of feeling in Lancashire and Yorkshire, I am not sure that would have been possible at all, without a great deal of the personal work given to the matter by the President of the Board of Education himself.
I would like to refer to certain lines of opposition which have developed since the Bill was first laid before this House, some of which have been considerably allayed by the new form in which the Bill is now put forward and some of which perhaps still exist. There was at first, as we all know, considerable opposition from and on behalf of local authorities. They thought that the Bill, as introduced, gave the Board of Education too much power to mould their schemes without sufficient consideration for the particular circumstances of the localities concerned. In my view, and I speak as an old servant of the Education Department, in nine cases out 337 of ten the schemes would have been, better for giving very wide powers indeed to the Board of Education for helping in the development of those schemes. Our local education authorities, with some very brilliant exceptions, are directed by men who fail, sometimes at any rate, to have a broad outlook with regard to educational ideals and who have not a very great understanding of what a comprehensive scheme of national education really involves. Members of education committees, in this period when local elections have been necessarily suspended, have been inclined to take their views rather from their officials than from their constituents outside, who are tending to range themselves solidly behind the Bill. I believe that some of them, when they have to meet their constituents again when we can again hold municipal and local elections, will be reminded of the opposition they have tended to make. There is, in fact, on behalf of some of the local officials something like a jealousy of any action from Whitehall, which could hardly be greater if the action were to come not from Whitehall but from Berlin. I believe, so far as education is concerned, that that jealousy of Whitehall is wholly misplaced. I believe that many of the officials and inspectors of the Board of Education are most highly qualified to help local education authorities to work out their schemes, and that they would be willing and able to take the very fullest account of the special conditions which might necessitate departing from any sealed pattern. In spite of my feeling that the Board would have done well to keep some measure of real control in their own hands, probably the President has been wisely advised to recast his Bill, as he has done, so as to remove the fears of local authorities in this matter.
Then there is the opposition which has developed in some quarters from industries. I am sure the President of the Board will wish to give very careful consideration to objections coming from those quarters, provided that they do not in any way negative the central principle which is enshrined in the Bill, namely, that there should be a really bold application of day part-time continuation schooling for young persons of both sexes. Some opposition that I have heard of has taken the form of really negativing that central principle of the Bill. I believe that some of the coal 338 owners, certainly some of the people representing the farmers, have tended to take the view that their industries cannot possibly stand any diminution of the hours spent by boys and girls in work in order that there may be an extension of the hours spent in school. I think it will be impossible for the Government in any sort of way to compromise, with that kind of out-and-out opposition to the central principle of the Bill. After all, this sort of thing has happened before. There have been at different dates during the last century successive diminutions of the time which was allowed to be spent by children or young persons in industries of various kinds. I believe that, in the overwhelming opinion of those who have really studied this rather important social question, the right limitation of the time children and young persons may spend in employment has not been reached at all. There have been always prophecies by the industries concerned of ruin if the boys or girls were withdrawn for a few more hours in the week in order that they might receive public instruction. Those prophecies have never been fulfilled. On the contrary, there has followed every increasing safeguard for the Health and instruction of young persons engaged in industries a still fresh expansion of the industry concerned, and I believe there is no instance of an industry which has even been damaged, let alone ruined, by the limitation of the hours that children or young persons might spend in purely wage earning in connection with it.
No one who has an appreciation of what life ought to be can doubt for a moment that there should be, during the years of growth for the children of the 95 per cent. roughly, of our population, who send their children to elementary schools, a far greater approximation to the conditions which have always prevailed for the children of the 5 per cent. Who do not send their children to that type of school. There is a general feeling that education should not be so much as it has been in the past a matter of class, or a matter of the particular amount of means which a particular class has, but that there should be something like a more general uniformity of educational opportunity throughout all classes, and that after we have all received, whatever our means may be, as good an education as the country can afford, there surely will be plenty of opportunity for people to find their 339 own level and to segregate off into classes. I believe that in the position in which we shall find ourselves after the War industries that do not want workers with a broader outlook, a better trained character and an increased power of applying their brains, not only to the particular industry concerned but to the ordinary problems of citizenship, are not industries that we shall be able to encourage or even to keep in this country. Undoubtedly there are difficult times coming. We simply cannot afford to let our industries lack the better mental equipment which all those engaged in them will obtain if the main provisions of this Bill are carried out. We shall need to exercise national economy in every possible way. I am convinced, and I believe the House is convinced, that the truest possible national economy is wide and wise expenditure on a system of education.
Then there has been in some quarters a disposition on the part of parents—not wide, but it has been expressed—to say that they cannot do without the earnings that the children would have brought in if they were allowed to begin full-time earning at thirteen, or even at twelve and a-half in some cases, and that in any case the parents cannot afford to do without the earnings which would have been brought in by those between fourteen and eighteen, if young persons had been able to give the whole of their time to money making. Surely the answer to that argument is that wages of adult workers should be so adjusted as to enable the adults to do without the amounts earned by their children of those ages. It is one of the reasons why I hope that this Bill will be quickly passed into law, that there may be that readjustment of adult wages which would enable parents to do without these wages of their children at the same time as we have a general readjustment in our industrial conditions which will follow the conclusion of the War. I am bound to say I particularly fear that the argument that the industry does not need any better educated men than it has got, and that no extra wages can be paid, will be used on behalf of certain sections of the agricultural industry. We frequently hear of cases in agriculture of the man who received no schooling, it may be, after the age of eight or nine, who is quite unable to read or write, and yet who, perhaps, can fatten 340 calves better than anyone in the country. This sort of instances are used to prove to us that the children of the agricultural labourers do not need any sort of education other than and beyond that they can get in the ordinary elementary schools as they at present exist. I believe no industry has more to gain than agriculture from the better education of those who take part in it, accompanied as it must be by a gradually increased standard of wage to the adult workers, and I believe already very many of the best of the younger generation of farmers are of that opinion. As against the instance that we shall no doubt hear of the extremely efficient agricultural worker who has not had really any education, I should like to quote an extract from a letter I received the other day from a very hard-headed Yorkshire landowner, who really uses his land on scientific lines and conducts his industry in a most businesslike way. He says:I have a well-educated man here doing war work. He is working as herdsman among the cows and doing the feeding and bedding-up, cleaning the cow byres, etc., etc., like a labourer. My manager claims that this has saved me in twelve months a good £300 and more.Well, what would be an extra ten shillings or fifteen shillings a week in such a case? I believe a thoroughly well-educated man can enormously improve the productive capacities of agriculture.
A line of criticism of the Bill is put forward by those who say that the change that my right hon. Friend wishes to see adopted is so big that it is really impossible to put it into force at a time like this. That reminds me of a saying of Archbishop Whately to those who are opposed to political change, "that when the bed of a torrent is dry they think that a bridge is not wanted, and when the stream comes down that the bridge cannot be built." I think we ought boldly to undertake the building of the bridge of a truly national system of education, however disturbed the stream of our political and industrial life may be in the years that lie ahead of us, and I think that criticism, so far as it has a basis, has been largely met in the Bill by the provision that the Actmay commence on a day to be appointed and different days may be appointed for different purposes and different provisions of the Act for different areas and for different persons or classes of persons in those areas.If that be so, I think that ought to remove the apprehension which has been felt in 341 some quarters that the whole country would be required to adopt these large new proposals at once, however unprepared certain areas might be. I believe those provisions ought to satisfy that apprehension, and ought to allow the scheme to be brought into operation gradually as different local authorities work out their proposals.
The House, of course, will not wish me to attempt any sort of review of what is contained in the Bill. Those who want to know know already, and those who do not know do not want to know. But I hope there will be in the course of our discussions no weakening of the provisions of the Bill affecting the physical welfare of children and young persons. I believe the whole House welcomes with both hands the provision bringing young persons up to eighteen years of age under the skilled attention of school medical officers. I hope it will be possible to press forward, for instance, a complete dental service for children from five years of age up to sixteen or eighteen. I am chairman of a Committee now sitting on dental matters at the Privy Council Office, and nothing has been brought to our minds more strongly than that a uniform, universal school medical service for children through the whole of their school time would be the best measure of preventive medicine that this country has ever adopted. There would be an enormous saving of human waste if persons who passed out of our schools at the age of sixteen or eighteen were certain to have their teeth put in thoroughly proper scientific order. I welcome also the provisions which enable local authorities to provide, or help to provide, physical training centres, playing fields, baths, holiday camps, or facilities for social and physical training in the day and in the evening, and I hope these will remain in the fine form in which they are contained in the Bill.
This Bill, with the exception of its central principle of a continuation of the sphere of education into the lives of children and young persons, is very generally concerned with machinery, and many of the real things that we want to have done lie behind the machinery, and clearly the Minister of Education will only be free to back them up and get them established when the machinery contained in the Bill is established and when that matter has been settled. We want, for instance, surely a real improvement and development in the status, the 342 salaries, and the conditions of work of the teachers of this country in the elementary and secondary schools. We want surely such a development of our scholarship system, including maintenance grants in the later years, as shall make us drop altogether the expression "educational ladder" out of our vocabulary, so that we may speak instead of the educational highway. A ladder, after all, is a shaky thing by which people mount precariously, a step at a time. It is a broad highway that we want from school to school, according to the real powers and abilities of the children concerned. We want the bringing of our private schools for all classes, the rich as well as those less well off, under the effective supervision of the Board of Education. We want a simplification of our system of examinations. We want great changes and developments in the methods in which we teach certain subjects, particularly science and modem languages. All these things lie beyond the Bill. They will only be effectively tackled when the Bill is passed, and it seems to me that is an argument why we should get this splendid piece of machinery through, so that those great matters may be tackled and the President and his officials may have time to devote to them. I believe if this Parliament will pass the Bill after examination, after criticism, it may be after amendment, but without any destruction of the essential features of the proposal—and no doubt it will be the last great legislative Act of its existence—we shall nave earned for ourselves the lasting gratitude of posterity.
§ Mr. PETO
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."
The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Acland) no doubt, as we have gathered, rose to give a vicarious blessing to the Bill, standing in loco parentis, as we are not to hear the President of the Board of Education, but in his last remark he was certainly giving us a very fair criticism, one of the many which can be applied to this Bill, of what is not in it, telling us what our education system ought to be, and what it is, and telling us certainly what this Bill does not make it. I know I run the risk of being considered merely opposed to increased educational facilities in moving the rejection of the 343 Bill, but I think I shall be able to show that I have two great reasons which have nothing whatever to do with opposition to education—and nothing is further from my mind than that—which compel me, since no one else has done so, to move this Motion. The first is that this Parliament is wholly unfitted to deal with this question, that a great part of the personnel of this Parliament who could most effectively criticise and correct the errors of such a measure of educational reform and reconstruction as this Bill is are either absent or silent in our Debates, and the second line of argument was just touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman when he proceeded on the line of saying that the agricultural community and certain industries had a sort of non-possumus attitude, that they said they could not possibly spare children and young persons for a single hour from their employment, whereas, as a matter of fact, the criticism which I shall show to the House, and which has come to me from outside, is much more a criticism of the ineffective and piecemeal method of continuation schools which is proposed in this Bill than any opposition to a fuller and freer education for all classes in this country.
I hold that this Parliament has certainly no right to deal with this question. It is now in its eighth year. Its life has been extended on three or four occasions in order to support the Government of the day in the prosecution of the War, and if I may ask the House to consider the analogy of the Khaki Election of 1900 and the subsequent Education Act of 1902, we had then a Parliament elected to carry on and finish the war which was then raging in South Africa, and although the Ministry which went out and sought again a lease of confidence from the people announced that they were going to deal with education, yet they were freely criticised for dealing with any of these social questions and not confining their activities simply to the prosecution and completion of the War. This Parliament and this Ministry have no possible claim to have had entrusted to them by the electorate a mandate to carry out such a Bill as this. We have just passed a great measure of electoral reform. A new and practically a doubled electorate is in process of enumeration and registration. The outstanding feature of that Act which has so recently become law is that it places some 6,000,000 344 women upon the register, most of whom are mothers. Surely they have some right still left, even in our semi-Socialist State, to have a say in the education of their children and to have the proposals of such a Bill as this put before them at a General Election. The male parents of a vast number of these children who are to be dealt with in this Bill are away in the various theatres of the War, fighting for their country, fighting for liberty, and for the possibility of any measure of social reform such as this. Surely they have some right to be consulted on a measure of this kind, which is proposed to be passed in this eighth year of the present Parliament, in the absence of most Members who can best deal with it!
The next reason that I would give to the House on the broad, general grounds is that this Bill is obviously a reconstruction measure. By no possibility can it be regarded as a war measure, and, even admitting that it is an urgent reconstruction measure, it should certainly not be one of the first measures of our reconstruction. The course of wisdom would be to let our trade and industry have a little breathing space to settle down and to absorb the vast mass of labour that will be released from the Colours before we can come to a fair conclusion as to whether such an industrial revolution as this Bill proposes can be stood at such a time, and whether this is the precise kind of industrial revolution that you should encourage. On that point I would like to read a paragraph from an able Report, which, I believe, has reached many Members, from the Federation of British Industries. This Federation is practically the only trade organisation in the country which has really considered and worked out some alternative to the right hon. Gentleman's proposal. This Federation of British Industries sent a questionnaire to over 2,000 of its members and the members of allied associations, and in the preamble of this report they say:From the answers which have been received to the questionnaire it is evident that in every industry this proposal (that is the continuation schools which are set up in Clauses 10, 11, and 12), is viewed with great alarm, as the establishment of the new system would occur at the very time when it would be most essential for the industrial future of the country that the minimum of dislocation should take place.I have read that quotation to the House because I do not want hon. Members to think that on such a grave matter as 345 this I am expressing my own view. I am expressing the view of the vast majority of 2,000 of our great industries who were consulted on this question. On the broad, general ground, the last consideration which I will put before the House is this: Has this Parliament the time to deal properly with all the details of such a measure as this? In that connection I would like to know whether it is proposed, and I feel I can almost assume it, that this Bill will be left to a Committee of the Whole House?
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Herbert Fisher) indicated assent.
§ Mr. PETO
The right hon. Gentleman says "Yes." On that assumption, I say that we have not the time to go through a Bill of this magnitude now, dealing with no war problems whatever, taking it line by line, as it ought to be taken, and considering it as it would be considered in the next Parliament if the War were over. If you want a sound measure of educational and industrial reform in this country—for this Bill deals with both questions—you must have, according to the precedent of the past, a minute investigation and consideration by the whole House of Commons, and not by a mere fraction of it. The House must give its undivided attention to the measure, and not have its attention distracted by great problems of the War. The commercial community has had no time adequately to consider this Bill or to put alternative proposals before the House. I have heard that the great argument for bringing this Bill on now is that it is possible to get it through this Parliament now, whereas it would be difficult to get it through a real Parliament, constituted properly to consider it. If that be so, the proposal to smuggle it through because people are too busy to consider it outside, and Members are too busily engaged, and consequently are unable to consider it, is a dishonest proposal, and, if it is not unconstitutional, it is, at any rate, contrary to Parliamentary practice and the main underlying principles of constitutional government.
On the merits of the Bill I have one or two things to say. In regard particularly to the main principle, the principle of compulsion as opposed to opportunity and selection, I cannot help being struck by the fact that at the very outset of the Bill the right hon. Gentleman starts upon 346 a path which he utterly fails to pursue. In the first two lines of the first Clause he says:With a view to establishing a national system of public education available for all persons capable of profiting thereby.That is an admirable sentence, and if the principle were carried out in the Bill I should have very little to complain of, but I do not see after its announcement any indication that the right hon. Gentleman is devising the scheme to bring the advanced education within the reach of those who are capable of profiting thereby. When I say "profiting," I mean not only having their brains developed, but seeing that that advanced education can be put to a profitable use, and that implies having a career before them in which they can profitably use the advanced education which they get. On the question of compulsion as opposed to opportunity and selection, I would like to read two other paragraphs from the Report of the British Industries Federation. They say:At the very outset of their Report the Committee wish to state quite categorically that they consider the extension and still more the improvement, of the educational system of the country to be one of the greatest needs of the present time, and they will welcome any well-considered development of educational facilities for all children without distinction throughout the country. If any of their recommendations appear to fall short of this ideal, it is because they feel that at present it is impracticable to obtain all that may be desirable. They have-accordingly decided to lay stress in their Report on those reforms which they believe to be moat urgent: firstly, the improvement of elementary education; secondly, the provision of a full, secondary education for the more able children, and, only after those measures have been taken, an improved education for the remainder.I ask the House to contrast the principle of what I have just read with what the-right hon. Member for Cambourne (Mr. Acland) told us was the attitude of employers in many of the industries of this country. There is one other passage from the Report which I wish to read. It will be remembered that the Federation sent a questionnaire to 2,000 of their members-respecting the proposed continuation schools. The Report says:Of the 2,044 replies which have been received on this subject 1,186 have approved the proposal of whole-time education for selected children, whereas only twenty-three are in favour of part-time education for all children.That is the principle of the Bill.Two hundred and thirty-three firms suggest a combination of the two systems. The remainder, very largely consisting of the cotton 347 industry, approves of a combination of whole-time and part-time education, provided that both are confined to selected children. It is considered by several industries that the adoption of the system of universal part-time education will be fatal to their future development, and even to their continued existence.On the question of the merits of the Bill I say that undoubtedly in extending the powers of the Board of Education in the way it does, and extending the principle of compulsion, it constitutes a very large advance towards the Socialist theory that children belong to the State, and that the men and women, who are citizens of the State, are to be regarded as mere breeding machines. The joys, duties, and the responsibilities of parenthood are held by the masses of the people, I am thankful to say, to be inherent in humanity. But under this Bill parental authority and control up to the age of eighteen are practically abolished, and the Board of Education is set up in its place. Clause 10 and other Clauses in the Bill go further. They set up the Board of Education as the sole judge of their own laws. I do not think that these are possible provisions, because the educational authorities are not regarded by the people as a whole as being impartial in the jurisdiction they already exercise over these educational questions. May I read to the House one case which has been brought to my notice. It was contained in an article on this subject in the "Candid Review." A number of cases of what are regarded as the tyranny of the education authorities under the present Act are given. Here is one:A labourer took his boy of thirteen away from school and sent him to work on a dairy farm, partly because of the boy's own wish, and partly because he had a natural gift for milking, which the father rightly considered should be cultivated. He became a greater adept at his work than any man upon the farm; but the labourer was summoned and fined 11s. 6d. including costs. Nevertheless, he continued to keep the boy away from school, and he was summoned again. On this, a neighbouring lady who was acquainted with the man took up the case. Hearing that there had been a judgment in the High Court in a similar case, in which the Lord Chief Justice had held that the Education Act, 1899, totally exempted children of thirteen from attendance at school if they were engaged in agriculture, she instructed a solicitor to defend the man and to raise this point. The summons was immediately withdrawn, and it can only be assumed that either the education authorities were blamably ignorant of the law, or that, knowing the law, they initiated a wholly unjustifiable prosecution.348 In the face of a case like that it is not likely that the public of this country will, welcome the setting up of the education authority as the sole judge as to whether the provisions of this Act are being carried out or not. We are fighting this War against Prussianism, and I do not think that the people when they understand this Bill will be willing to entrust the right hon. Gentleman with powers to set up a latter day Star Chamber in respect of those young persons, as he calls them, and their parents. In regard to some of the detailed provisions of the Bill I shall only touch on one or more of the main Clauses which effect great changes. The principle one is Clause 10, which is followed by Clauses 11 and 12, which deal with the same subject. That is the Clause which sets up the system of the proposed continuation schools. I have had from different parts of the country a good many criticisms of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal. I will first read a short extract from a letter from one of the ablest agriculturists I know, a man who has succeeded so well at his own trade that he is the owner of his own farm and is an acknowledged expert in the breeding of the breeds of sheep and cattle that are most common in the county of Wilts. Dealing with Clause 10 he says:If this proposal should be reduced to practice it will mean a further set back to agriculture and a very serious one. How are the horses to be kept at work, the cows to be milked, the sheep tended, and the folds pitched? What head carter would tolerate the worry of the continual change of hands which would be required to allow the boys time for going to school It would be sure to lead to such a disaster as these: in turning a team at harrow on the headland the new hand would get the horses overlegged, the harrows would be turned over, and perhaps a 100 guinea horse crippled. The cowmen would have to face similar difficulties. If it were possible to obtain strange hands to release the boy on the appointed school days, which I very much question, even then the cows would not give all their milk down to strangers or to rough and clumsy treatment.He might have added that it would be extraordinarily difficult under the particular proposals of the right hon. Gentleman of this part-time education for forty weeks in the year, breaking employment during the whole of that time for four years, to get any boys to qualify as herdsmen or sheep tenders at all. The Swindon District Branch of the National Union of Farmers held a meeting the other day. I think that the right hon. Baronet would like to hear what 349 they said with regard to these particular provisions in the neighbourhood where he farms himself:Mr. D. S. Taylor next called attention to the position in which they would be placed by the new Education Bill in respect of agriculture. He thought that it would be a great hardship to take lads from the land to attend classes from fourteen to eighteen years of age, when there was so much work to be done in country districts, and would inflict hardship not only upon employers, but also upon the parents of the lads. He moved a resolution, which was read by Mr. Prothero, to the effect that the Education Bill proposals that boys should attend school from fourteen to eighteen years of age would inflict great hardship on agriculturists and that local authorities be allowed discretion and powers in the matter of the selection of boys.There, again, is the same principle. Now I come to the building trade. The Institute of Builders have considered this question, and have sent me four brief resolutions. The first is,The Committee is in favour of the provisions of Clause 10 of the Bill being confined to young persons up to the age of sixteen years.The second is,That such attendance should be at the cost and expense of the employer, only when the young person is a duly indentured apprentice. The Committee would regard it as an injustice and inequitable that employers should be called on to pay wages for school time in working hours with no certainty of the lad remaining in the same employment and no control over his continuity of service.The third is,That the compulsory attendance of young persons in the building trade up to the age of eighteen would be disastrous to the trade and generally impracticable.The fourth is,That if the Bill is elected without amendment in this particular its operation will of necessity result in very few lads entering the building trade at all.I next turn to the weaving trade in Yorkshire. My authority there is a Member of this House, the hon. Member for the Radcliffe Division (Mr. T. Taylor), one of the few men who have put in pratice a great principle, which has done an enormous amount in his own business to unite the interests of employers and employed, instead of merely talking about the subject in this House, as is done elsewhere. At the annual meeting at "which the co-partnership dividend was announced the other day at Batley, he said:The Bill provides that all children shall go to school full-time up to fourteen years of age, and from fourteen to eighteen years of age they shall receive tuition for eight hours a week during forty weeks in the year and attend school 350 in the daytime. I am strongly in favour of some such measure, but for various reasons would prefer at present to allow children to work half-time from fourteen to sixteen, and that after that age promising children whose parents could not afford to educate them further should continue their education, even at a university, at the expense of the State. The plan of having young people from fourteen to eighteen away from school four days a week, for two hours each day, is impracticable. Half-time would be in all respects much better.I have given the House several of the views of the Federation of British Indus-trios. In their report their main conclusions are—that whole-time or part-time from fourteen to sixteen for selected children would give a far better and more valuable education than the scheme of the Bill; that it ought to be voluntary; certain provisions should be made to make it worth while for parents to let their children go to these extension classes, and university or higher technical education should be provided again for the selected best of those who have had this further education after the age of fourteen. The builders, as the right hon. Gentleman will see, consider that there should be continuation education only as an adjunct to apprenticeship, and for apprentices, and in that case they consider that it would be fair for the master builders to whom these boys were apprenticed to pay the wages of the boys, as they do, and that particularly while they are doing this particular course of work.
I may refer briefly to one financial provision of the Bill. It is proposed, under Clause 7 of the Bill, to repeal entirely the provisions of Clause 2 of the 1902 Act, limiting the rate that can be raised by the education authority for higher education to 2d. in the £.Personally, I can see no reason for asking the House to give a blank cheque for any cost that may be incurred for the arrangements outlined under the Bill. In the Act of 1902 we have these words:Provided that the amount raised by the council of a county for the purpose in any year under this Act shall not exceed the amount which would be produced by a rate of 2d. in the £, or such higher rate as the county council, with the consent of the Local Government Board, may fix.Here we have it already provided that, in certain cases, a higher rate than 2d. can be imposed, and I can see no reason for granting unlimited authority to raise any amount of money that may be considered necessary by any local authority. There are some other grave objections to 351 this Bill which, I think, are deserving of consideration. It is pointed out by the Newsagents' Association that Clause 13 of the Bill means the entire abolition of the delivery of morning newspapers by newsagents. I do not know whether Members of the House think that this will be popular with the public, or, apart from that, whether there is any real objection to properly constituted employers, employers who have regular places of business, employing a boy for an hour or two in the morning every day of the week to deliver to regular customers their newspapers. It would entirely prevent my getting any newspapers in the country, because I am doing something which, under this Bill, I believe, would render me liable to a heavy penalty. I actually have the audacity to let a little boy who is attending the school within a hundred yards of my house carry two newspapers —a heavy load—each morning on his way to school, and for that service, which is worth a great deal to me, he gets two or three shillings a week, which I have no doubt is not unacceptable to his parents. I cannot see what possible harm it does the boy, but, under the strict provisions of Clause 13, the delivery of newspapers by children of school age is prohibited. [An HON. MEMBER: "No; it is up to twelve!"] I think that the hon. Gentleman is wrong, but perhaps that is really a Committee point. There are two provisions in Clause 13 which I consider, when read together, practically mean the abolition of the delivery of morning newspapers by the newsagents.
The Actors' Association have just had their annual meeting. Sir J. Forbes Robertson pointed out that this same Section will prevent the production of many of Shakespeare's plays and Sir James Barrie's plays, and will not serve a profession which has provided such a complete, I may say such a perfect, education for children who are training for the stage as is provided by the actor managers of this country. The provisions of Clause 13 will deny to future generations the complete theatrical education which has produced our great actors and actresses in the past. I find, again, that the British Medical Association objects to Clauses 18 and 19 of the Bill as introducing fresh complications in an already hopelessly complicated state of affairs with regard to the inspection and attention which have got to be devoted 352 to children under various Acts already in force. They point out that already no fewer than nine different professional men may be attending a single family under different Acts of Parliament. They point out that most of the boys between sixteen and eighteen years of age would be insured persons, and that the new health proposals of the right hon. Gentleman not only introduce a fresh complication and an overlapping with the health provisions of the Insurance Act, but that they are going to be a positive barrier to dealing with the whole of this question of the health of the people on broad and comprehensive lines. I was told the other day that all the religious denominations of this country were agreed to this Bill. That is not the fact The Catholic Federation are strongly opposed to it. They object to the abolition of dual control, as it is called, and the restriction of religious instruction and teaching which is imposed in many Clauses of the Bill.
In face of that, is it to be contended that this is a non-contentious Bill that can go easily through this House even in a time of war? The Bill, in my opinion, puts the cart before the horse. It provides for compulsory attendance at school before it provides for the provision of teachers trained on new lines, men of wide outlook on life, and really competent to teach and mould the characters of these young persons who are no longer children. The promoters of the Bill should provide higher teaching classes altogether, as a provision for teaching, before they attempt to pass legislation calling upon parents throughout the country to send their children to this advanced instruction. In most of our country schools now children between the ages of twelve and thirteen, if they have anything above the average intelligence, are merely doing repetition work. To keep the children there under some teacher, frequently a female teacher of very limited capacity and outlook on life, for another year, to the, age of fourteen, simply means an addition to this endless repetition. I consider that the provision of compulsory attendance in a continuation school should obviously follow, and not precede, the setting up of these schools and the provision of the people competent to give technical instruction. The scheme of the Bill is obviously framed by educationists, but I think that it misses the real aim of education. The acquisition of knowledge 353 is no end in itself. It is only of value if it can be made of real use to the individual To start the continuation schools set up by the Bill with the limited attendance of 320 hours a year can only tend to produce, so far as it will produce anything, 100 percent. of people more or less ill-qualified to come forward as foremen and managers in business. Certainly it will not make that class of people, to whom in the old days, men were ready to take off their hats—the men who were masters of their trade.
You cannot make such men by forcing a Rhondda ration of education on every child up to eighteen years of age. You will make prigs of the young persons, not tradesmen or housewives. You will produce not what you want most, a divine discontent, but a discontent likely to be disastrous, and 75 per cent. of these young persons will find that, although they have been trained for certain careers, there is not room for them in those careers in such large numbers. The problem before us now arises from the minute sub-division of all our great manufacturing processes, so that each person engaged is assigned a particular task. Take, for instance, shipbuilding; to-day a man is engaged in driving in one rivet after another with a pneumatic or electric hammer. But his industry in no way bears comparison with the work of building wooden ships in olden days. If you are going to have a Bill that will really deal with education and correlate it to industry and make it possible for the present-day youth to become more useful and more contented members of society, you want to find a substitute for the apprenticeship system, and you want to assist that system so far as it remains. This Bill does not do that. I cannot find any Clause which deals with providing employment for the children after you have educated them. Clauses 13, 14, and 15 provide penal prohibitions with regard to certain classes. But where are the corresponding Clauses to provide for bringing the employer and the educated persons in contact with one another? There is no Appointment Board set up, no Central Bureau where people can go and find out what these young persons are qualified to do best. I do not see any sign in the Bill, from beginning to end, that this particular Question has been considered from the point of view either of the industry of the country or the real lasting life interest of the persons to be educated.
§ Mr. LYNCH
I rise to second the Resolution, and I do so not because I think it unnecessary to introduce an Education Bill at this moment, but rather on account of what the Bill lacks, not because of anything contained in it. The Government had an opportunity on this occasion such as has never been presented before in the whole history of the country. They had selected as their Minister of Education a man not drawn from the ranks of Parliament, but one chosen by reason of his reputation outside. That reputation was great enough to have enabled him to obtain a free hand with the universal consent of this House, and, I believe, of the whole country, in drafting a bold and comprehensive system of education such as would have provided once and for all the means of putting this country on an equality, or even a possible superiority, in competition with the other countries in Europe. But I regret to say that the Minister for Education has not done that. He has failed by virtue of that same adherence to negative qualities which prevails in this House, and which makes Ministers on every occasion follow the rule admitted in times of peace, but which for a country fighting for its life, as this country is, must result in disaster. It is the system of wishing to keep in sight of old landmarks, to cling to routine, to keep within grooves, to off-shoulder responsibility by being able to quote precedents for what is being done. In unprecedented times, in times of war, when the future is being prepared, when we, the life of this country, as of all countries in Europe, must be lived not only on another scale, but judged by different standards from those which have prevailed in the past, that system will not hold. The Minister for Education has had an opportunity, in fact, such as was offered to Wilhelm von Humboldt in Prussia, in 1808, when the fortunes of the German States were at a low ebb, but when facilities were given him to lay the foundation of their future greatness and power. He remained in office less than two years, but he succeeded in endowing Germany with a system of education which, though it was far from perfect—marked, indeed, by manifest faults—has, nevertheless, during the intervening time enabled that country to rise to a position of dominance in Europe. That system of education prepared the way for the peaceful penetration of this and various other 355 countries in Europe by Prussian trained men—by experts. Remember that long before this the Germans invaded this country, not by force, but by the invitation of men engaged in manufacturing businesses or industrial works. That invitation was extended to them because they had trained minds and were the best capable of carrying on successfully the industries which were being set on foot. I could cite hundreds of instances of that. I have for many years paid express attention to the subject in order to trace the influence and development of science throughout the whole course of civilisation, so as to show that our modern civilisation, as distinguished from that of the Greeks, really rests upon the basis of science, and that it is the development of scientific methods, new discoveries in science, and new inventions following those discoveries as corollaries which have prepared the way and formed the woof of all that distinguishes in as far as there has been any advance over modern civilisation from that of the Greeks. It is precisely in that feature that the education of this country is weak. I could mention hundreds of instances, but I will only cite one, and that is in respect to the famous discovery of aniline dyes. It is usually represented in this country that the dye was discovered by Perkin, and that the secrets of this discovery were robbed from him and from this country by the Germans, who, having filched the product of his mind, profited by setting up industrial works to use it. The story is not quite that. It was a notable discovery of Perkin, but it was only one link in the general chain, and there were successive links added by German chemists, and particularly in bridging the gap—and here is a point on which Edison has laid stress in bridging the gap between scientific discovery and the practical application that makes the discovery of commercial value. It was the Germans who, by a series of discoveries, some of them quite as important as that of Perkin himself, were able to finally establish this great industry. It was not a case of Germans stealing English ideas, but rather an instance proving in a striking way the value of science, showing how theoretical ideas, if truly based, ultimately find their outlets in their industrial realisation.
Sometime near the beginning of the War I consulted a great electrical engineer as 356 to the state of the engineering profession and all that depended upon it as affected by the War, and he astonished me by giving me a list of all the scientific fabrics and industrial works dependent upon that scientific under structure which has been almost monopolised by the Germans, not because such was the desire of this country, but because by their superior training the Germans were able to secure the markets. They succeeded because they could bring the matter to a practical test by showing that they could supply what was wanted in this country either of equal quality at more cheaper rates, or at the same price but of better quality. Much the same story can be told selecting each great feature of industrial enterprise which ultimately depends upon science. Everywhere the Germans have been found to develop to a higher degree their scientific and technical education so as to get the whip hand, and they have in consequence reached the high level which they now occupy.
What is required now is not some tinkering with the machine as it at present exists, not a mere bettering here and there, or rendering more efficient of the system that now prevails. I say that the Minister of Education, with the great problem before him, and recognising his possibilities, should have struck out an entirely new line, one which, recognising the part education is going to play in our national life—a far greater and more important r61e than has been assigned to in the history of the past—he should have realised that any kind of economy in this way would be not only weak but in the end ruinous. We have reached such a condition of affairs that we are spending £6,000,000 on war daily, while education has hitherto been starved on a mere pittance; further, if twenty years ago such a scheme of education had been struck out, it seems quite possible this War might have been avoided, because the conditions which produced it would never have come into existence. I should like to see the right hon. Gentleman follow this Bill with another if it be not too late. I should like to see him bring in a Bill which would deal, not with the present system, but would strike out for a revision of the educational curriculum. I should like to see the right hon. Gentlemen have in his mind that there must be a free path from the first rudiments of education up to the highest pinnacle of research work at universities. The 357 whole system of that education should be liberalised on the one hand, and on the other hand adapted more nearly to the requirements of modern life, and when the highest pinnacle of research work of all kinds is reached it should not be merely endowed with money, but a system should be organised so that scientific research could be directed, stimulated, and encouraged. That is being found possible in Germany, and to some extent in France, in application to matters which seem most recalcitrant to any kind of organisation. A great French mathematician told me that Germany had got so far in her system of education that she was able to organise even the study of higher mathematics, and to set on foot means of stimulating research in that recondite and almost intangible branch of science. I give that merely as an instance. Another great French scientist recently unfolded to me a plan which he had worked out, but which he had dropped on account of want of encouragement—that meant simply want of money—for dealing with the problem of tuberculosis in the most scientific way and most effective manner. He believed that it would have been possible to declare definitely that, within a certain limit of time ho could eliminate that disease as effectually as leprosy, which ravaged the populations of the Middle Ages, has been removed from our society.
I will not now labour this theme, but I thought it well, at any rate, to bring forward these main points as an indication—not bearing so much upon this present Bill—as an indication to the mind of the Minister of Education that he should seek possibly another chance if the Government would, as I believe it would, afford him an opportunity of bringing in an Education Bill No. 2 to deal with this larger and greater aspect of the question. That is to say, a Bill which would deal also with the universities, which would not limit itself merely to the system of administration, but would boldly tackle the whole question of the curriculum of the university, so as to mould and develop that curriculum in such a way as would be most valuable for the needs of modern society. What I would like eventually to see would be that not only the universities as at present constituted should be remodelled in that respect and reformed, but that there should be superimposed, above all the present universities, a great 358 national university, covering the whole scope of intellectual life, and directed to the purposes which a university should fulfil. That would mean that the university would be the intellectual centre, the director, governor and leader of the whole national life, and would so conduct its functions that whatever ability, talent, or genius there might be found, even in the lowest ranks of society, should be saved, nourished, and fostered, and led up step by step to the highest offices, and be made available for the service and advantage of the whole State.
So there are two main points which in this brief style I have indicated, rather than thrashed out. One is that in a democratic way there should be a free draft from the lowest to the highest with respect to the individual, so as to give every boy in this country, whether he be the son of a duke or the son of a dustman, an equal chance. That will be dealt with, I believe, by my hon. Friend below me (Mr. Whitehouse). That is one aspect, but that is not all. The other I regard as equally important, namely, that the system which at present prevails even in what is called the higher education of the universities is defective at the present time and will be found inadequate to the new development which will follow from this War. If this country is to maintain its level with the great countries of Europe, and particularly with Germany, it must recognise these facts and must remodel the whole character and scope, particularly of scientific education, and must maintain that free draft I have spoken of from the lowest and most elementary education to the highest, so that step by step and ultimately the universities will be the intellectual leaders, and finally the great national leaders, of the country.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
The hon. Member who has just sat down has indulged in an ambitious, if a somewhat hazy, sketch of what he would devise as an Education Bill. I presume he has in the depths of his own mind seen some relevance in this to the discussion of this practical education measure, but I think even he will find it difficult to believe that he has contributed to the realisation of his ideal by moving the rejection of a Bill which is intended to go a very long way in realising some of his ideals. The right hon. and gallant Member for Camborne (Mr. Acland), who spoke first in this 359 discussion, told us that he had but a few months' or one or two years' connection with the Department. I am afraid I stand somewhat in contrast with him in this respect, because my connection with educational administration is now very nearly half a. century, during which I have been brought into contact with the inception and gradual development and fulfilment of most of the educational schemes of legislation that have come before Parliament. I welcome, after all these attempts—some of them no doubt faulty and mistaken—the advent of the President of the Board of Education into the field. He has taught me a lesson which old men ought to learn, namely, not to be the praiser of the time spent when we were boys. I do not know, when I look back upon my days at Oxford, that I should have been able to pick out anyone who, having obtained a foremost place in academic research, having gained for himself there authority and fame, could have stepped from that circle and showed himself by marvellous intuition as an adept in administration and with an instinct for political life. I welcome his advent, and I disagree entirely with the views put forward by the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto). Of all times and of all proposals this Bill is necessary, and it is necessary without delay. I do not listen for one moment to those poor excuses, pusillanimous excuses, about the accidents of the political situation, or this or that condition which is present and which might induce or persuade us to delay and not to take up with vigour this task. We are fighting through tears, through strain, through anxiety, and through blood to preserve the inheritance of our children, and it is an equally imperious duty to teach them to rise to the responsibilities and opportunities of that inheritance which we arc defending. Of course, there is one condition, and one condition only, which can make us take up this task with hope and confidence. We lay our foundation in the full hope and belief that victory is to be ours in the end, and if we are to face defeat, then the edifice which we raise upon that foundation will crumble to dust before our eyes, or, to change the metaphor, the fruits of the seed we have sowed will be as husks in our mouth. We are buying and selling as the Romans did, the ground on which the Punic camp was 360 pitched outside the walls of Rome, and with the same confidence which they felt. We are laying out the plans and building the highway for our children and our children's children which will be theirs when we have won it for them and for civilisation and humanity. We are planning out a new scheme of education in which I heartily wish my right hon. Friend success.
There can be no better way of teaching ourselves what we can and may do than by being taught by the errors of the past. If failure leads to success, then we have sown such abundant seed of mistake as should assure a full harvest of achievements I will not keep the House very long, I assure them, but I do think they, will not find it altogether uninteresting if an old man, just as rapidly as he can, sketches some of the errors which even within his own experience have occurred, and the lessons we may learn from them. First of all, we began our Education Grants nearly eighty years ago. When we did begin to give maintenance Grants, in 1846, we offered at first augmentation Grants which were to increase teachers salaries. It was not a bad plan at all. The pioneers who built up the system were not unwise, and did not lack foresight in their schemes, and the old augmentation Grant, developed in 1846 and subsequent years, had a great deal of sound sense, as it was based on the central truth of sound administration, "Increase your teacher's salary and improve his position and you go far to improve the school." But we changed all that for good or ill. Newer and mostly more modern ideas came forward. Mr. Robert Lowe, afterwards Lord Sherbrooke, devised a hard and fast scheme of what was called the Revised Code. Hon. Members who are here may remember the battle royal about the Revised Code. It split the country into two camps, although. I am glad to say that Scotland managed to postpone its operation for ten years. I remember very well the words of Mr. Robert Lowe when he introduced and defended his Code. He said:It would be good either way. My scheme of paying by results and treating the little brains that come to school as so many counters that swell the Grant, by their individual passes, if it is costly, it will be efficient; if is inefficient, it will be cheap.Was there ever a more degraded view of education or one which dragged it down more effectually to the level of the ledger 361 and the balance book? But it was too attractive to the official mind; it made it too easy to deal with any difficult problems for the official readily to abandon it. I remember how we used to turn over sheet after sheet of these result papers with places marked with the names of the poor scholars who were contributing sixpence or fourpence by passing in one or more of the three R's. When I became permanent head of my own Department I am glad to say that my first aim, and it was my consistent aim, aided by my political chiefs, was to break down that system. Others have carried this work on more powerfully since my day, until now there is very little left, and I hope the last is going to be seen of it under the auspices of my right hon. Friend. Let us take another case is which the baleful effect of the Revised Code was seen. We tried to bring in some higher education beyond the beggarly elements. How did we try to do it? By inventing a long list of specific subjects which we expected these poor boys to pass as a means of gaining some additional Grant, and we actually imagined that these boys wore to be advanced in higher education by passing little snippets of problems in physiology or chemistry, learned by rote.
I ask the House to consider another point, in which we have been sadly inconsistent, and it is concerned with the big question of compulsion. We tackled that very slowly and very unwillingly. We began it partially, as if we would have liked to drop it, but we did it without any very effective result, and at first with no very firm conviction of its right. I am convinced that if I could recall the men mostly concerned with the drafting of the Act of 1870 they would assent to what is my impression at this distance of time, namely, that they advocated compulsion then because they thought and hoped that compulsion would within a few years make itself unnecessary. I am sorry to say that has not been the case.
I do not think that compulsion at its best is a satisfactory system, though I do not see how you can get rid of it. It would be well if we were able to make our system of education such as will attract pupils to the schools of higher education, and by emulation rather than compulsion. Yet the more you make education attractive and healthy for a large number, the greater will be the 362 temptation to the residue to seek the higher wages which an increased demand for labour may bring about. I do not see how you can altogether abolish compulsion, but let us try that compulsion as far as possible is kept for those for whom penal methods are necessary among the residuum to whom emulation makes no appeal. Care should be taken to see that a better class of feeling is produced among parents in favour of education and the development of their interest in the school. Though it may be blameworthy, at all events it is natural to human nature to become irritated and to resist what is in the nature of compulsion. Many parents are ready and willing to do spontaneously what they would regard as irksome and irritating were it imposed upon them by compulsion. They would be willing at the beginning, and readily acquiescent to do that which under compulsion they instinctively resist when they are told by the law, "You must do It." In the old days, notably in Scotland, the ordinary peasant would have viewed with astonishment any request that he must send his boy to school, for he always did what he considered to be necessary in regard to the education of his children. It was quite common in the old days to hear the complaint that such and such a village had established a good school, and the question was pressed, "Why should there not be a school in our village?" But as the years passed and new conditions obtained the complaints of parents became more frequently taken up with remonstrances about interfering with their freedom and by forcing the attendance of their children at school. Natural repulsion from compulsion had begun to operate.
There is another serious error to which I wish to refer, and I would point out that the right hon. Gentleman cannot think that he will pass a Bill of this sort by merely ignoring the difficult problem of religious teaching Up to 1870 the principle which prevailed was that a school, in order to get a Grant, must be in connection with some recognised religious communion. That was not so foolish as it seemed, for no school was actually excluded, and of course the conscience clause always prevailed. Then we turned our backs upon religion and asked no questions about it, permitted no inspection of it, and scrupulously avoided any mention of it. Then we had the "Cowper-Temple" Clause, which was meant for an 363 Eirenikon, but was a poor device, and became a token not of union but of dissension. Those who liked that new scheme of religious teaching tried to prove how much it could embrace, and how far it went to meet denominational requirements. Those who did not like it tried to prove how jejune it was, and how much it was cramped and confined I think we have pursued this view in a rather too logical manner, instead of looking at the practical realities of the ease. I am ready to wear the white sheet myself. I have fought for the principle of denominational education myself. Perhaps I have fought it too hard; I think it was a logical position, but I am quite ready to meet my opponents half way in regard to it. As I said the Cowper-Temple Clause became a new bone of contention, some being utterly discontented with it, while others desired to widen it more and more by giving it a practical and liberal interpretation. But surely a new and fairer scheme may be devised if we could come to some compromise. Have we not been too much bound by the logical aspects of the question and by abstract theories, rather than the really existing conditions? I may have erred in my support of the theory, but I am honestly anxious now to meet my opponent half way. Surely we ought now to come to some practical conclusion. Ninety-nine out of every hundred men in this country are convinced that a great element in the shaping of character must be derived from the religious motive Perhaps also, if not ninety-nine out of every hundred, yet a very large proportion agree on certain fundamental principles of Christianity. Is it not possible to give a full and free chance to those who desire to come to some compromise, and to find a common ground between denominational and un denominational teaching? Can we have something like an inter-denominational teaching which would give us that fundamental and important religious element on which there is common agreement and which would do so much to shape character.
On one point I insist more than upon any other, and it is vital to the success of the plan, that this religious teaching must be in the hands of the teachers. I am not going to agree to any system which would bring interlopers into the school to supersede the teachers. I wonder what the old schoolmaster in Scotland would have said in days gone by if anyone had proposed to 364 him, "You may teach Latin, Greek, mathematics, but you must not open the Bible or say a word about that." Above all, I say, trust your teacher. The more you trust him the- more tactful and fore bearing he will be. You will find no good teacher who will do his work properly unless he has command of the whole of the elements that will go to build up the character and shape the intellect of the children. I have dealt with some of the errors in the past. We have been inconsistent, and we have been wrong on some, points, but there is one point upon which we have never been right and that is in our treatment of the teaching class. From the first, in this country, as in other countries also, it seemed to be thought that the teaching class must consist of people who were a sort of animated missionaries filled with an enthusiasm which could do without that ordinary sustenance which is commonly given to members of other professions. That is a mistake which we have constantly pursued. We have, as Scott somewhere said, "treated the schoolmaster as we would treat the deerhound. We have kept him starved that he may be more alert to bring down the quarry." Since 1834 our Grants have been increased a thousand-fold. When I speak of the increase in Grants as a thousand-fold, I am not using rhetorical words of exaggeration, but I am speaking with almost mathematical precision, because we pay now just about as many millions as we paid thousands in 1834. How much of that money has gone to the teachers? Possibly we have increased their pay about three times and no more. But that just about compensates for increased cost of living. I claim for the teacher that it is essential to improve his position if we are to have good education, and I submit that discontent among the teachers is a source of serious social danger.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of, Education has opened up a new prospect by the scheme he has submitted. What should be the elements of that scheme? First and foremost, you must have a good teacher. That is the central feature of success. Secondly, there must be freedom and initiation, and the teacher should not be cribbed, cabined, and confined within fixed and uniform rules. A school left to itself to make its own way may be bad, but a school which is subject to all kinds of rules and regulations must certainly and inevitably be bad. Thirdly, I trust my right hon. Friend will be able to do a great 365 deal to encourage the continual and wakeful interest of the parents in the education of their children. Without that you can do nothing. They must feel that the school is their own school. Do not try and drag the pupils too far away from their own. Light up in the school a lantern to be a centre of light and attraction to the parents. If you associate them with the school in its daily life, and if they feel a lasting interest in the progress of their young children, you have gained much. Do not entirely turn away what used to be, in the old days, so very useful to education, and that is a little preparation for the school at home. Highly modernised as our methods have become, I am not sure that it is not a very useful element that the boy should bring home some lesson, some story from school, some account of what he is doing in the classroom, and get, it may be, a little kindly help from his parents in preparing his lessons. That is a part of education which ought not to be neglected.
I would like to refer to one or two points on which I venture to utter a word of caution. While I am cordially in favour of the Bill, I still think there are one or two points a little open to objection. I think they are points of principle. The first is one which I have never seen noted in any discussion, and that is Clause 8, Subsection (3). In the whole history of our compulsion we have given the parent who is accused of not giving sufficient education to his child the right to appeal to a Court of Law to enable him to prove that he really has done so. Under this Clause and Sub-section that right of appeal is transferred from the Court of Law to the Board of Education. I know from experience that there have been vexatious and ill-judged decisions by magistrates, but I have always resisted any proposal to take this matter out of the hands of the Law Courts. I do think that the right hon. Gentleman is taking up a very dangerous attitude in proposing that the right of appeal now open to a parent is not to be to a Court of Law but simply to a local or central education department. I do not think we should lay down the principle that there is no other education to be got except within the four walls of a school, and I think that parents should have the opportunity of proving to a Court that they have in some special way given sufficient education. The second point about which I wish to utter a word of caution is the provision to impose a 366 fine on the boy for non-attendance at school. Is that right? In the absence of goods the fine can only be imposed by imprisonment, and you do not intend to imprison. Another point on which I do not suppose I will have the sympathy of many Members is the provision in Clause 22 which proposes to abolish all fees in elementary schools. I think that is undue pedantry, and I do not see why a school which could relieve the rates in this way should not be allowed to do so. I hope that my right hon. Friend will not think that I am unduly captious in what I say. I wish him God-speed in his work. I think there is a happy prospect before him, and I think it is more than ever necessary to pursue it at the present time. Equality of gifts and equality of powers are impossible, but it is essential to have equality of condition, and you must establish it. I hope that this Bill will prove a solvent of class antipathies, and will open up a new era of freedom and elasticity of school life, a full career for the, teacher, and cement the nation by the way of enhanced character and enhanced intellectual standard, and at the same time of increased prosperity.
Colonel Sir MARK SYKES
I should like to associate myself with a great deal of what the hon. Member who has just spoken has said. I desire to deal with two points raised by the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto), who moved the rejection of the Bill. Those two points ought, I think, to be carefully considered. The first is that there is no mandate for this Bill. I submit, although this Parliament is old, and it may be technically true that there is no mandate for the Bill, that this is not a question of mandate, but that it is an emergency measure which it is the manifest duty of this Parliament to undertake. The second point he raised was that the continuation classes would be likely to give a sort of scrappy education which would breed—I do not know why he supposed so—revolutionary spirit and discontent. Anybody who thinks that education, no matter how poor, is more likely to breed discontent than no education at all, I would refer to revolutionary Russia with its 85 per cent. of illiterates. This Bill must necessarily demand sacrifices from all classes, and not only from taxpayers, but from the parents. I think these ought to be given cheerfully when it is remembered that this is a measure anticipating reconstruction rather than a measure of reconstruction. When one says "recon- 367 struction" one means the period after the War not limited to the two, three, or four years which it may take to cover demobilisation and to get things on a new basis, but reconstruction looking forward a generation ahead. I think one of the strongest reasons why a large measure of this kind is necessary may be inferred from this fact, and one which nobody can deny. If one takes the male population of this country we shall find, I think, by the time this War is finished, that the male population represented by those born between the years 1876 and 1900 has been largely affected, with the result that in the decade from 1938 and 1948 there will be far fewer men between forty and sixty years of age, which are really the ages of command and stability, than there would otherwise be the case. When we get to the years from 1938 to 1948 we are coming into what will be a young man's world, and the strain of running this world, and this country, at any rate, will be much more upon youthful men than it is at the present time. Further than that, we have extended the franchise to males of a very youthful age indeed, and when you come to that critical period you will find that that youthful section will not be balanced, as at present, by numbers of people between the ages of forty and sixty.
If it was from the pre-war point of view necessary that we should improve our education, from the post-war point of view it is an imperative necessity to do so. As far as continuation classes are concerned, I would be prepared to make many sacrifices, and in fact, within reason, I think it is almost impossible to go too far within the next decade in preparing the younger generation to take up the unexpected duties which they will have to take upon themselves. I would submit to the right lion. Gentleman that our previous education had to the man in the street, who, like myself, is not a specialist in these matters, three capital faults or blots, which were referred to by the hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Craik). The first is that the education now between twelve and fourteen was destined to no particular end, and that it seemed to be rather devised to teach the child a certain number of mental tricks to perform and then no more. I hope that the provisions for gymnastic schools and physical development and so on will be developed on the lines of taking a certain amount of responsibility for 368 moral and discipline between the school door and the door of the home. I think that is a very important point which is overlooked in the earlier education. The third point which has been referred to by every speaker is the miserable position of the teaching profession as a whole in this country hitherto. In the case of teachers in Government schools the profession has been a sort of blind alley, leading hardly anywhere at all. I have, if the House will forgive a personal reminiscence in my mind, the case of two men at this moment. They are two aged men who were responsible for giving to this country splendid colonists and two or three men who have risen from the ranks to the making of £2,000 or £3,000 per year, and magnificent artisans, farmers, and other splendid citizens. Those two men, village schoolmasters, who by their personality and splendid work and responsibility gave to this country so many splendid citizens, are now living each of them practically with a pittance in small labourers' cottages. Had those men been in any other profession I can see either of them a County Court judge or a district governor. I hope that this Bill will bring the teaching profession up to a proper level, and I hope I am not too revolutionary when I say that I trust eventually we may see the masters of colleges, provosts, and heads of many public schools, coming from the ranks of those who are teaching in the national schools.
I hope my right hon. Friend may forgive a word of criticism. I have looked at the Bill as best I could in such time as I could find, and I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has given quite enough scope to parental responsibility. I am not asking the right hon. Gentleman to allow the parent to blot the child's career, but, on the other hand, I do think that the parent should have a voice in the career and should have a chance of having a say as to the kind of career to which the child's education is going to lead. I think, if possible, the parent should have a say in that matter. I hope in this respect the right hon. Gentleman is not too much under the influence of what was said by Dean Swift. I feel that there is a certain influence in Gulliver's Travels which seems to run through this Bill as far as parents are concerned. In "A Voyage to Lilliput" Swift says: 369Their notions relating to the duties of parents and children differ extremely from ours. For since the conjunction of male and female is founded upon the great law of nature in order to propagate and continue the species, the Lilliputians. … will never allow that a child is under any obligation to his father for begetting him or to his mother for bringing him into the world. Upon those, and the like reasonings, their opinion is that parents are the last of all others to be trusted with the education of their own children, am] therefore they have in every town public; nurseries where all parents, except cottagers and labourers, are obliged to send their infants of both sexes to be reared and educated when they come to the age of twenty months.
Sir M. SYKES
Precisely, but I hope we are not so Utopian as Swift. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman's Utopia is not looking forward to a bloodless, soulless, hygienic, efficient, practical and trim system, where excessive taxation brings everybody to a single level, and an educational machine turns out, like so many sausages, lawyers and stevedores, flying-men and journalists, and so on, irrespective of the cries of the victims. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not look forward to that kind of situation, but, I think, he ought, in this Bill, to get some form of words which will harness to the coach of legislation that eternal and natural force of affection of a parent for his child, and interest in his child, and will make use of that force in every phase of the child's career while that child is under the influence of the State. I think the right hon. Gentleman would do well to introduce a Clause which would give effect, if possible, to that view.
There is one practical point to which I would like to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention, and that is as to Clause 38, Sub-section (2). I have read it several times, and I confess that I do not quite know what it means, but I am told by others who have read it many times that they feel clear that that and the subsequent Sub-section may be construed as doing away with the Grants which are granted under paragraph 31 of the Regulations on account of the average attendance. I understand that the matter is a little open to doubt. It may be that, in the Utopian age, when this Bill has had its full effect, we shall have draftsmen so educated that they will draft so simply that possibly an average person can understand it, or possibly an average person like myself will be so 370 highly educated that he will understand drafting. At any rate, I hope he will consider that matter, and the fears that it will arouse. With that small criticism, I wish the right hon. Gentleman every success in the measure he has brought forward.
§ Sir HENRY HIBBERT
I should like at the outset to express to the President and the Permanent Secretary of the Board of Education the thanks of the local education authorities for the manner in which they met us in regard to the administrative portions of the Bill introduced in 1917. I am very glad, indeed, to say that, owing to their courteous and kindly consideration, we were, I think, enabled so to re-draft those Clauses that they will not now take up much time in this House. The hon. Member opposite started his speech by saying that he had been an administrator of education for fifty years. I cannot claim to have worked so long as that, but I can say that for the last thirty-five years of my life the whole of my spare time has been devoted to an endeavour to give every boy and girl within my own authority a level chance of succeeding in life, and an opportunity to become a more useful member of society, which, I contend, are the true functions of all education. Now it has been said in many newspapers that Lancashire is out to wreck this Bill. I indignantly refute that suggestion. People in Lancashire are quite as keen about the education of their children as the people of any other county in England and Wales, and I might say a county which is responsible for one-fourth of the exports of the United Kingdom, and pays one-seventh of the taxation, cannot be called a backward one. We are all agreed—at least everyone with whom I have been in communication—and we welcome the regulation of child employment, as contained in Clause 13; in fact, I, myself, would have been prepared to go a very great deal further. We are all agreed with regard to the promotion of social and physical training and treatment in Clause 17. We are agreed as to the extension of powers of medical inspection and treatment. I think that one of the best pieces of legislation ever effected by this House. And I think the whole country is agreed on the vexed question of half-time.
I myself have been an opponent of the principle of half-time—I mean half-time 371 under existing conditions—practically the whole of my life, and I remember very well—I have cause to remember it—that my election was very greatly jeopardised by the knowledge of my constituents that I did not believe in half-time. Before I go any further, and to explain the reason for my criticism of a particular Clause—I may say at once that I shall support the Second Reading of the Bill— I wish to say that I do not employ either children or young people, and that I am not either a cotton-spinner or a manufacturer, but an ordinary business man. I think it necessary to make this explanation in view of what I am going to say about Clause 10. To Clause 10, I object; I think it is impracticable. The Government proposal is to make compulsory the attendance at day continuation schools of every boy and girl from fourteen to eighteen years of age for 320 hours per year, or eight hours per week for forty weeks. As under any circumstances these young persons will have to work in shifts—I am dealing now with the cotton trade—if machinery is not to remain idle, how will employment be found for all during the remainder of the year? Secondly, will it not be necessary for piece-work to be dropped, and a standard wage fixed in the weaving trade, seeing that more than one young person will be employed on the same looms during the week? Thirdly, if so, will parents demand a wage which will be equal to that which they would have earned if they had worked full time; and, if so, who will pay? I think the President of the Board of Education has had representation made to him on those points.
One of the difficulties of this question of the apportionment of the number of hours which shall be occupied in school per week is occasioned by the fact that the average secondary school year is thirty-nine to forty weeks, and the average industrial year forty-nine weeks, whilst the average elementary school year is forty-one to forty-two weeks. How, therefore, will employment be found for the extra shift for nine weeks in the year? Will one shift have a holiday for nine weeks, or three days a week holiday for nine weeks? The next question is, how the eight hours per week can be divided to cause the least dislocation of labour and the greatest amount of educational benefit? Suppose the whole 372 eight hours is given in one day, in this case the alternatives are eight to twelve o'clock in the morning, and 1.30 to 5.30 in the afternoon, or nine to one in the morning and 2.30 to 6.30 in the afternoon. This would mean a lengthening of teaching hours which, I expect, would be objected to by teachers. Another alternative to this would be to insist upon a maximum of 300 hours per year instead of 320, in which case a young person would attend from nine to twelve and from 1.30 to 4.30 on one of the five days a week, and on forty-nine or fifty weeks in the year, or 300 hours. Here you have a difficulty in keeping a secondary or elementary school open for forty-nine or fifty weeks in the year, which, from the teachers' point of view, could only be met by employing other teachers for the nine or ten weeks which form part of their holidays. In fact, in every variant of this scheme I find the different length of holidays between teachers and scholars presents many difficulties. Suppose the eight hours were divided into two days of four hours each, in this case one shift would have to go to school from eight to twelve and the other from 1.30 to 5.30. This would work well for two days, but what would you do with the extra shift for three days a week? They would each play l½ days and work l½days. An alternative to this would again be to substitute three hours per day twice a week for fifty weeks, or again 300 hours instead of 320. Here, again, there is the same difficulty as to holidays on the one hand, and the employment of the extra shift on the other. Now, here is the last alternative: Suppose the eight hours were divided into four days of two hours each, this would entail a loss of labour which makes it impracticable, because they would only be able to go to school from nine to eleven in the morning, or from two to four in the afternoon, the early morning being wasted or the late afternoon. If, however, there were a complete system of half-time from fourteen to sixteen, we should only require two shifts as at present, with alternate Saturdays off as at present.
My own opinion is that if Parliament demands a continued day education over fourteen—and I wish to lay special emphasis on the proposition, because I shall have to refer to it later—the beat solution is a complete system of half-time from fourteen to sixteen, instead of 320 373 hours a year for four years. In the first place, only two shifts are required. Secondly, it will not affect the hours of teaching, as they can attend school from nine to twelve in the morning, and from 1.30to 4.30 in the afternoon, or even on alternate days. That is, fifteen hours per week. The hours of education would only be eighty hours less in the whole of the fourteen to sixteen period than in the whole of the fourteen to eighteen period, or if you run forty-nine weeks to coincide with the industrial period, the hours of education in the two years would be greater by 190 hours than the hours given in the four years. Fourthly—and this, I think, is probably the best reason of all—the value of the continued education of three hours per day or fifteen hours per week would be infinitely greater than the eight hours per week for forty weeks for four years, because it would be more concentrated. When all is said and done, I should be prepared to contend that no system of education can be considered complete where education does not correlate to a large extent with trade, because by trade we live. You will want all the trade you can possibly get after this War in order to wipe away the enormous indebtedness which we have incurred, and therefore I say that you must not on any account, by any system of education, so handicap commerce as to prevent it fulfilling its function for the State. In Lancashire and Yorkshire, from sixteen to eighteen is a period when remuneration for young persons—that is, young persons according to the definition of the Act—is probably greater than it is in any other county in England. In engineering, the building trades, and also in agriculture boys and girls are paid a certain wage per day or per week, but in the textile trades the scheme in operation is that you are paid for what you do. In other words, there is a system of piece-work. In Lancashire, a boy or girl from sixteen to eighteen is running three or four looms, and, for all practical purposes, may be classed as a fully skilled adult worker. These young people are in very large proportion in the Lancashire cotton trade. In normal times they earn from 6s. to 9s. per loom—that is to say, a girl running three looms earns from 18s. to 27s. I am not speaking of to-day I am speaking of normal times. Therefore, I say that in compelling them to go today continuation schools between the ages of sixteen and 374 eighteen you arc certainly imposing a great financial sacrifice on the parents of these boys and girls—always provided that the State is not prepared to step in and say, "We will pay the balance," which, is not, I think, at all probable.
I agree with what has been said by one or two speakers that this, to some extent, is a homoeopathic contribution to education. I offer the fourteen to sixteen half-time proposition as an alternative to the fourteen to eighteen, and I am prepared to move an Amendment to that effect, but it is not my idea of a perfect system of secondary education. If I were the Minister of Education—which God forbid !—the scheme I should propose to the House would be this: I have come to the conclusion that the main practical results can only be obtained from education by selection of the fittest, and I would develop that on these lines. First of all, continued education to fourteen, that is, the abolition of half-time, not, as at present characterised by marking time on the part of clever children from ten or eleven to fourteen, but in the case of these by transfer by selection to a full-time, school course, starting at twelve and continuing to sixteen; then a further selection would carry them to eighteen, and if necessary on to the university. But we must always bear in mind that there are a large number of children who-develop later than others, and their case-must be taken into consideration. I would, therefore, suggest to the House-that they should be examined two years later, at fourteen, and allowed exactly the same privilege. For those left who-were not selected at fourteen, I should compel them—because you cannot do anything without compulsion—I should; compel them to attend evening continuation schools until they were sixteen or eighteen.
But along with those—and this is absolutely essential to the proper working of the scheme, and certainly to its comfortable working—I should provide a liberal scale of scholarships and maintenance-allowances. Will the House bear with me if I give my own experience in this matter? In the administrative county of Lancashire we grant each year 500 free places to the best boys and girls in the elementary schools. Why should it not be 1,000 or 1,500? This continues the education in a good secondary school until sixteen or eighteen; in fact, I think we should allow them to stay until twenty 375 if they cared, but at any rate, at the eighteenth year they get a maintenance allowance of £20 a. year, in the seventeenth year they get £15 a year, in the sixteenth year they get a maintenance allowance of £5. When these children leach the age of sixteen we have a number of scholarships of value. We give twenty at present of the value of £60 each. They are generally tenable in the universities of Liverpool or Manchester. Why should we not give them more, than that? It will cost the country infinitely more to work Clause JO of this Bill in its entirety than it would cost the county local education authorities if they quadrupled their scholarships and maintenance allowances.
I am fortified to a large extent in the opinion I hold by Educational Pamphlet No. 2, which deals with the Admiralty method of training dockyard apprentices, a most comprehensive scheme, and one of the best I have read. But that statement must be taken in conjunction with another, and that is, that the Board of Admiralty are both the local education authority and the employer, and further, they have no competition whatever to meet. What do they do? I have spoken about the principle of selection. Take Devonport. Boys enter there at fifteen to sixteen years of age by competitive examination. These boys have had a sound foundation laid in a secondary school, and many of them come from public schools Their education is free. According to the result of their examination they are put in two classes, an upper school and a lower school. To those who object to examinations I say at once why do the dockyard authorities examine these students? Simply because they want the fittest. These boys go two afternoons a week in the upper school, from 1.30 to 4.30, but they also—and I want to lay special emphasis on this—they also go three evenings a week, from 6 o'clock to 8. They leave work earlier on those days and spend twelve hours a week in school, six of them in the day school and six of them in the evening school. With regard to the lower school, the boys there spend three days a week in the day school and four days a week in the evening school. But the point of special importance is that under the dockyard scheme the boys are weeded out who cannot pass the necessary examination and have to complete their education in 376 evening continuation schools. The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) quoted the opinion of the Federation of British Industries, with which I quite agree—that is, the selection of fit boys. That opinion is, confirmed by the Chairman of the Federation of Cotton Spinners. He says:I trust we may gel better education up to fourteen, and a good liberal system of continued education for children capable of profiting by itFurther on he says that young persons in an industry should have time allowed them to attend reasonably small classes where the teaching can be made good, and that these young persons could become foremen and managers, for whom technical training is necessary, and that these are the people on whom the future of the country must depend. I am not going to lay stress on the opinion of the. President of the Federation of Cotton Spinners with regard to the approximate amount which it is computed would be lost if the right hon. Gentleman's Bill becomes law. But I would say this, that while I do not suggest that Clause 10 will ruin the cotton trade, I do suggest that it would handicap it, and I will tell you why. Supposing the employer found the difference between the wages earned in normal times and the wages which would be earned under lessened labour, and added it to his cost of production, as he undoubtedly would. In that case the yarn he produces would be dearer and everyone would pay more for it. Not long ago some ladies were questioning me about the price of calico and asking why it was so dear. I had to explain to them that every commodity that, was used in the manufacture of calico was incredibly increased in value, and as the manufacturer could not afford to make it at a loss that loss had to be passed on to the consumer. I think that is true, generally speaking. It is simply a question of transferring the cost to the consumer. The bulk of the product of the spindle and loom goes to the East and the Far East, and India, China, and Japan with cheaper labour and longer hours of labour, would undersell us, except in the finer makes of cloth. Already in the coarser makes of cloth we are being undersold in the East and the Far Eastern market, and the trade is growing finer. With regard to the Grant it is stated in the Clause which deals with it that it should be not less than one-half of the net expenditure of the local 377 authorities. On behalf of the local education authorities I want to be assured that the amount under no circumstances shall be less than 50 per cent., but greater to progressive authorities. Government Departments have an unfortunate way of dealing with Grants of 50 per cent., and they make it as difficult as possible. Of course, they are the servants of the Exchequer, and they have to look after the interests of the Department.
Let me give an illustration. The Medical Grant Regulations of the Board specify that if the school medical service is adequate and efficient the Grant is to be at a rate of one-half the expenditure. We have never received more than 40 per cent. on the plea that we have not had a comprehensive treatment scheme in operation. I should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that it is infinitely more difficult in a county area than in a county borough, such as Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham, to have a comprehensive medical scheme. In other words, it is infinitely more difficult in a county area to work education at as low a cost as it is in an area which is surrounded by a ring fence. For the year ending 31st March, 1915, our expenditure on medical inspection was over £11,000, and our Grant was £4,166, or 37.85 per cent. of that sum. The reason given by the Board was that they would not take into account any payment to an absent officer in excess of an amount equivalent to his ordinary naval or military pay. My committee, unfortunately, in the earlier stages of the War, when it was difficult to get recruits, promised our officials, of whom nearly 300 joined His Majesty's Forces, that we would give them their full salary minus 1s. per day, for most of them joined as privates. When we came to charge the full salary for Medical Grant it was immediately objected to, and therefore we did not get our 50 per cent. at all.
For the year ending the 31st March, 1915, our expenditure was £10,550 and our Grant £3,135, or 29.70 per cent. I can give a more flagrant case. Take the action of the Development Commissioners in regard to agricultural education. They agreed to give a Grant of 50 per cent, hi aid of agricultural education, asd I think I am quite correct in saying that in the last twenty-five years my county has spent more money on agricultural education than any other two counties in England and Wales. We have spent no less a sum 378 than £205,678 in that period, every copper of it out of the rates, and we have not had one halfpenny from the agricultural authorities or the Board of Education. We therefore expected that we should get 50 per cent. of our Grant, but we did not. We got nothing, and for this simple reason, that we could not spend wisely and well more than we were spending already, which was £8,227 per annum.
This is how it was worked. A county which had spent nothing on agricultural education, but which decided to spend, say, £3,000 a year, received from the Development Commissioners £1,500 a year, whilst we, who were the pioneers in this work and who had spent over £8,000 a year, were refused any Grant at all unless we were prepared to spend more than £8,000. You can therefore quite understand that as the chairman of a large education authority I look with some amount of suspicion when a Grant of 50 per cent. is mentioned. Therefore, I ask that the President of the Board shall, at any rate, in the Regulations governing this particular Bill, consent to make a minimum Grant of 50 per cent. to all authorities, with an additional percentage for good work.
§ Captain ALBERT SMITH
I wish to say to the President of the Board of Education that so far as the hon. Members with whom I am associated in this House are concerned, they welcome this Bill as the best measure ever introduced in this country by any Education Department. It may have its faults, which no doubt it has, but I am quite sure that with a little sweet reasonableness those faults can be met in Committee. I was astounded to hear a large part of the speech of the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) who moved the rejection of this Bill. The hon. Member appeared to suggest that the men and women employed in manual work in our country to-day, and more so in the future, have no real desire to have any form of advanced education. That is an argument which has been exploded years ago. The more intelligence a man gets into his labour, whether manual or otherwise, the better-are the results that will be obtained, and the people of this country who are the parents of children are year by year appreciating to a larger degree than ever before the education which their children are receiving to-day. The rate of progress, however, from 1870 to now has been 379 exceedingly slow, and I claim that the main reason why our education has been so slow is because the House refused to grant the money to carry on an efficient system to meet the country's needs. In this case I hope it will not be so, and in this connection let me endorse the remarks which fell from an hon. Member behind me and other speakers, that the President of the Board must see that if the scheme of education to be put into operation in the near future is to be calculated to do more for the generations that come, he must see that the teachers arc educated for their position, and that they are well paid for the work they do, in order that the children may get the best out of the teachers. It is a scandal in this country to-day that one education authority can pay a teacher, teaching the same number of scholars as another teacher, such a tremendous amount less than that which is paid by another education authority. If the salaries are improved you will get more willing work out of the teachers, they will be more settled down, and work more whole heartedly than they have ever done before.
The hon. Member for Chorley (Sir H. Hibbert) who has just spoken raised one or two difficulties in regard to the half-time system, which may be corrected with regard to the cotton trade. The cotton operatives are taking a ballot on this particular question, but I do hope that when the ballot is made known it will be found that the half-time system up to fourteen years of age will be gone for ever. When one goes about even in Lancashire to-day one cannot but be pleased at the advance which has been made in this direction in the minds of the people themselves. I believe that they are beginning to see that whatever is done we must have intelligent citizens, and we must make every other thing adapt itself to that position. If we want proper facilities for educating our children we must make the Government meet the difficulties that arise. There is a subject which has been mentioned here before, and I mention it now because it is so little understood, that I am afraid the people do not realise the great importance of it, and that is the position of the manufacturing side of the Lancashire cotton trade. The average individual earnings of a cotton operative who may be affected by this Bill is very small, and, compared with 95 per cent. of any other trade in the country, it is very much less, 380 but the advantage they have had is that their children have gone to work after they have reached the age of sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen, and they have been in a position to go on to the same amount of machinery that their fathers and mothers have done under the same conditions and at the same rate of wages, which amount with the accumulated earnings of the family to a sum which establishes them in a very good position, and this has been the means of providing so many people with nice homes in this country. This Bill is going to affect some of the poor people. It is not that the Lancashire people do not want to meet the Government or the Board of Education in this matter. It is not that the parents are against education, because they are not.
In the case of weavers with large families of little children, they have a tremendous work to do to bring up a family, and we want to give those families in Lancashire and all over the country as full facilities as possible, while, at the same time, paying some attention to the economic harm that is being done to the household. If some consideration could be shown by those in charge of the Bill to this class of people in Lancashire I think it would be welcome. It has been said, and I believe it, that if an employer, it does not matter in what trade, employs young persons in that particular trade, then that trade should help to pay for the education of those young persons. It is not too much to say that if we are taking those young people from the mill and thereby preventing an addition to the family income, it is not too much to provide that the trade must look after them. When this War is over and reconstruction comes, I am hoping very earnestly that the Lancashire cotton trade, so far as the manufacturing side is concerned, will have gone through some process of reconstruction in order to meet the question of the individual worker's wages. If that is done, then it. will place us in a better position than we occupy now. Unfortunately, it has taken a long time to build up the cotton trade to its present magnitude, and one cannot easily see how it is going to betaken out of this system and placed under another, but I do say it is time for the employers, when seeking orders in the markets of the world for their cotton, to consider how much more they can pay than they have paid in recent times for the work done. When the last attempt was made to pass 381 an Education Bill, we had to stand a lot of chaff from our fellow Members, but I have never yet known a man to stand up in this House who, while offering these suggestions as to amending Education Bills, did not personally realise the great importance of giving a good education to our children. I know, and most of us know. what this country has suffered through lack of education. A country in darkness is a country without hope, generally speaking, and if we can raise the stamina of our minds as we raise the stamina of our bodies we are bound to raise the quality of our people in experience and in every other direction. It is very hard when the economic conditions of a trade prevent an Act being put into operation which is so urgently desired.
I hope the President of the Board of Education will give this matter his very serious consideration, and that on the Committee, stage we may be able to overcome the difficulties which face us now. The views of the cotton operatives have been placed before him very explicitly. He knows perfectly well where they stand. I have said that no Member of this House to my knowledge has got up to prevent schemes of education being put into operation, because he personally felt that we ought not to have them. No colleague has felt the need to value education more than myself. The older I get and the more varied my experience becomes, I feel the need more. I did not have the happy time when I was a boy that some of our children have to-day. If it had not been for some form of continuation or night school during my young days, perhaps I should not be here now. Let me say this with regard to business men—and I have met a few in my time—who having no special form of general education have been successful in business of some kind or another. You have there the same story again: "If only I had had the education that some people have had, and had been at one of our universities or at some particularly good college, how much happier I would be to-day, and how much better I would be able to face the world as I get older." The same sentiment runs through everyone. You may be successful in business and rolling in wealth, having more wealth than you know what to do with, but there is the same cry when you find that your education is not what it ought to be. If we spend more of our time on education, we may equal matters somehow. We feel that, and I believe it runs 382 through every Member of this House and through every thinking man in the country, and we believe, if met in a reasonable way, that even if we cannot get all this Bill conferred upon our children, we should get as much of it as we possibly can; but, if we see when the Bill gets into operation that things can be met in a better way, do not let us be so long before we have an amended Bill.
§ Captain Sir C. BATHURST
I am sure that it does the hearts of us all good to hear such a speech coming from a leading representative of organised labour as that to which we have just listened. There must be nothing more stimulating to the President of the Board of Education than to hear that the demand for this particular Bill and that the main support that he has received for it comes from the organised workers in this country. They realise more than any other class the enormous extent to which the prosperity of the industries of this country and their own happiness depend upon the passage of such a Bill as this. Those who belong to what I may call the employer class are short-sighted and ill-advised if they do anything to stem the ambitions of the working classes of this country towards an improved and liberal education. They want, rather, to raise that class, so that they intermingle with their own. They want to give them an opportunity to rise from the position of labourers to that of employers, rather than to continue or widen the gap between those who are described as capitalists and those who are described as workmen. My main object is to offer to the President of the Board of Education my very cordial support of his Bill. I do so as one representing in some degree the interests of the great agricultural industry. There is no industry that needs an improved education to a greater extent than agriculture. All the three classes interested require a better education, from the agricultural standpoint, than they have received during the last generation, and it must be a practical education. If that education were extended in ample measure to each class, the greatest industry of our country would be in a much more thriving condition than it is to-day, and the great menace with which we have been faced, and with which we are still faced, as the result of the neglect of the industry and the un progressive character of it would be non-existent, and we should be able to face both the remainder of the period of 383 this War and still more the after-war renaissance with much greater confidence than we can to-day.
I have to confess, with regret, that there has been no real progress in the agricultural industry of this country, except possibly in the matter of the improvement of its live stock, as compared with the progress in other Western European countries. We have practically stood still for the last twenty-five or thirty years, and although we were the agricultural pioneers of the world, so far as science as applied to agriculture is concerned, we have got to get a move on or we shall be left behind in the race for agricultural superiority amongst the European nations. This Bill, although in its continuation school Clauses provides for a largely extended period of education, will be acclaimed by those living in the rural districts to a greater extent than has been any previous Education Bill that has been introduced into this House. First of all, it provides for an education, both elementary and super-elementary, of a very much more practical character than has been provided by any previous Education Bill. Furthermore, it makes the predominant source of financial provision the National Exchequer and not the local rates. The farmer in the past, in my view, has had a well-founded grievance in that the cost of a great national service has fallen to an undue extent upon those who own or occupy agricultural land. Not only is that not the case under this Bill, owing to the largely increased Exchequer Grants which it involves, but the measure also puts a premium upon expenditure on education out of local rates by the provision of a more than equal subsidy from the Exchequer. That particular provision will create a stimulus even in rural areas for an improvement in education.
§ Sir C. BATHURST
I have not reached that particular question. I should like particularly to support those who have recommended improved remuneration and a better status for the teachers of this country, both elementary and secondary. Considering the enormously important national task that is thrown upon their shoulders, they are seriously underpaid. They do not receive that recognition 384 amongst other classes in the country which the responsibility of their task merits. Somehow or other, if we cannot pay our teachers commensurate with the wages which are being received by those who are employed in industries belonging to the same class, we have got to make up to them in social status what they lack in professional remuneration. I cannot help thinking that one effect of women's suffrage, bearing in mind that the majority of the teachers in this country are women, will be a demand, in a somewhat clamant way that cannot be refused, for far greater remuneration for the teaching profession, than it has received in the past. As regards continuation schools in rural areas, I for one, welcome the proposal to make continuation instruction daytime instruction, and also to make it continuous up to the age of at any rate, seventeen, if not up to the age of eighteen. May I, in passing, say that I should like to see this education really continuous, and not, as I fear it may be, somewhat discontinuous by separating entirely your continuation classes from your elementary schools. In fact, I am not sure whether, if it is to be of a practical and useful character, you will not have to commence the foundation of this continuation instruction at an earlier age than that of fourteen. It is the experience of most of us who have been trying to develop the practical side of education, that you have got to tackle the child at the age of either eleven or twelve if you are going to produce the very best possible results.
There has been a good deal of discussion as to whether these continuation classes should extend throughout the year or be concentrated into the winter months. I do not know what my hon. Friend the member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) thinks upon this subject, but I hold very strongly the view that in the interests of the agricultural classes, at any rate, and for the more practical working of the scheme it is better not to concentrate this supplementary instruction into the winter months, but rather to extend it throughout the whole year, largely for the reason that the amount of building necessitated will be greater, and will involve a far greater cost, both locally and to the Exchequer, and that it will also involve the employment of a very much larger staff than if the same staff were continuously at work in the 385 same central school, dealing with each age group in turn instead of concentrating all age groups into that school for one period of the year only. There is another reason, that is the financial condition of the parents. I cannot conceive in an ordinary scattered rural area, even with the improved wage which agricultural workers will henceforward receive, the possibility of a large number of parents going without any sort of financial return from the labour of their children during the ages of fourteen and eighteen, for three or four continuous winter months. For that reason only, I feel that if you are going to make your scheme workable and popular in rural areas, it is desirable to continue this education in a central school throughout the year, rather, than to concentrate it into a few winter months.
I do not want to take up the time of the House now on the matter, but I propose in Committee to move an Amendment to the Bill with a view to reducing the proposed number of hours for continuation instruction from 320 to 300, because by making the number of hours 300 only you are able, as I hope I may be allowed then to point out, to have the whole of your four age groups educated continuously during the whole year by the same staff in your central school, without any period of non-employment of the teacher, without the non-use of the school and without the disadvantage I have already described, owing to the non-employment for a long period of the children. We are all anxious to hear what the President has to say and I only want in conclusion to say that this appears to me for the first time to be a real Education Bill, and for that reason I welcome it very warmly. So far as I am aware, no Bill of this character has been introduced into this House for many years that has not been, to some extent, a religions controversy Bill, and for that reason we have been unable to unify and perfect our system of education at all comparably with what has been done in other Western European countries with the result that our industrial progress has been retarded, and we have shut the door, in the case of our working population, against that fuller life which is so essential to the happiness and welfare of the people of any civilised country. I therefore, offer my very warmest welcome to the President of the Board of Education in his moving the Second Reading of 386 this Bill, and I, for my part, without any apprehensions as to its effect upon the rural population, shall give him my hearty and continuous support, with the hope that the Bill may be translated into law at the earliest possible date.
§ Mr. HERBERT FISHER
I intervene with some reluctance, partly because I have already, on three several occasions, taxed the patience of the House with speeches on educational reform, and partly because I am aware that a large number of Members are anxious to speak who are highly qualified to make important contributions to the Debate. By this time the House is thoroughly seised of the general complexion and purpose of the Education Bill. The House readily appreciates that it is not my intention to disturb the denominational balance, if I may use that phrase, or to revolutionise our local system of educational administration Upon the whole, I think I have carried the House with me in my resolve to avoid, as far as it is possible to do so, those sources of controversy, which otherwise might prove so injurious to the fortunes of the Bill. A large part of the Debate this afternoon has concerned itself with one particular portion of the Bill. We have bad many comments and some criticisms upon the proposals of the Bill with reference to continuation classes. I do not complain that that course has been so generally taken, because it is true that the proposals in respect to compulsory day continuation classes do constitute a very considerable advance and a very considerable change in our educational system. But the continuation proposals are only one part of the Bill, and I should like, if I may be allowed to do so, to emphasise one feature of the Bill to which the attention of the House has not been drawn hitherto, but which is, in fact, the cardinal principle of the Bill and the connecting, link which unites its several portions. I refer to the view taken in the Bill, and prescribed to the local education authority,, that all forms of education, whether they be elementary or secondary or technical, should be considered as parts of a single-whole and that the larger local education authorities—the county councils and county boroughs—should be called upon to frame schemes for the development and organisation, not only of elementary education, but of all those other forms of education to which the elementary school is the prelude.
387 That is an important principle. It is a principle vital to the success of a national scheme of education, and its recognition is as valuable to the improvement of elementary education as it is to the development of further education of every kind. The Bill, in other words, constitutes an attempt to give to our national system of education as much unity and coherence as is compatible with the preservation of our local system of administration on the one hand and of those great educational foundations which owe their origin to private enterprise and private benevolence on the other. We cannot, of course, discard our local system of education, nor would it be desirable to do so. It would be foolish to refuse to recognise the fact that some of the best educational work done in this country is performed by our ancient public schools and by our ancient universities, which derive no Grant from the State and which have no connection with Whitehall. But although our system must be composite, it need not therefore be incoherent. It is possible to encourage local enterprise while taking full security against local inertia. It is possible so to work the partnership between the State And the local education authorities as to provide the greatest possible equality of opportunity between area and area. It is possible to adjust the proportion of burden between the State and the local education authority in such a way as to combine adequate motives to economy on the one hand with sufficient incentives to wise expenditure on the other. I venture to think that in the sphere of elementary education the generous Grants recently made by Parliament will have the effect of achieving these particular objects.
But we must remember that our secondary education stands altogether on a different footing. It stands on a more precarious footing. Indeed, the country has no security at all, so far, that higher education will be provided, save the security provided by the whisky money. The country has no security for an adequate provision of post-elementary education in any area. There is a want of co-ordination between the local education authorities themselves, between the local and central authorities, and between different branches and grades of education. All these defects the Bill seeks to remedy. The hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir M. 388 Sykes) in his delightful speech alluded to the obscurity of one of the Clauses of the Bill. I cannot pretend that it was within my power to introduce perfect lucidity into Parliamentary language, but the Clause to which he alludes will bring considerable comfort to all those who have the progress of higher education at heart, for, for the first time, it provides an adequate statutory guarantee that a considerable proportion of the expenditure in aid of higher education will be borne by the Treasury.
There is another prospect opened out by the Bill to which very little allusion has been made in the Debate. Our elementary school system has gone through vicissitudes and been subjected to various accidents of fortune which have left scars upon it which the lapse of years has not entirely effaced. There was a time when every elementary school teacher was expected to know every subject contained in the curriculum equally well or equally badly. There was a time when schools were subject to payment by results, when the results seldom went beyond a mechanical efficiency in the three R's. We have got beyond that stage. Our teachers are encouraged to specialise, our curriculum is wider and more varied, we no longer rely upon the mechanical test of payment by results. But our elementary school is still subject to grave disabilities. The work of the higher standards is disorganised by exemptions, and when the hon. Member (Mr Peto) suggests that before raising the age to fourteen I should improve the teaching of the upper standards of the elementary schools and get rid of the practice of marking time which is so largely prevalent, I would remind him that one of the great obstacles to the improvement of the education in the upper standards of our elementary schools consists precisely in the fact that so many children are withdrawn from school at an early age, so that it is quite impossible for the Board of Education to require of local education authorities that they should take the necessary steps to render effective the higher grades of elementary education. So long as the half-time system exists in Lancashire and Yorkshire, emptying the schools of children over the age of twelve or twelve and a half, it is quite impossible for the Board of Education to do what it proposes to do under the powers entrusted 389 to it by this Bill, that is to say, to require of every local education authority that it should provide for the older children in the elementary schools those forms of practical instruction and higher elementary instruction which are best fitted to develop their aptitudes.
That is one of the defects of our present system of elementary education which we propose to cure under the Bill. But, of course, there are others. A considerable proportion of the children who come to these schools are unable to profit by their instruction, by reason of the industrial strain of work undertaken before school begins, during the dinner hour and to a late hour at night. The evidence of the inspectors of the Board is conclusive upon that point, and I believe, if you ask those who are conversant with the working of the educational system in this country, to name any one single reform which they would have in preference to any other, they would unite in saying they would desire further limitation of the hours of industrial toil during the elementary school life. Under our present system there are no regular school terms, inasmuch as every child leaves the elementary school as soon as he has reached the liberating age, and those hon. Members who are acquainted with the working of the schools will realise the amount of disorgianisation which is introduced by this. Nor should we forget the fact that much of the money which is spent upon elementary education is wasted owing to the physical disabilities of the children who attend our schools. Hon. Members have heard a very striking calculation which was given to the country a year or two ago by the principal Medical Officer of Health of the Board of Education, to the effect that no fewer than a million children of school age are unable to derive reasonable benefit from education owing to their physical condition. These defects it is proposed to remedy under the Bill, so far as they can be remedied by any Parliamentary enactment, and I ask hon. Members, before they condemn the proposals of the Bill by reason of the un-familiarity of one particular Clause in it, to consider once, twice, and thrice before they carry their opposition any further. If the Bill passes into law, the whole spirit and outlook of our elementary schools will be changed for the better.
In the course of the Debate a fear has been expressed that the Bill will tend to injure the individuality of the Country— 390 it is very difficult to go through a Debate under any conditions at present without hearing the word "Prussianism"—and the hon. and gallant baronet (Sir M. Sykes) expressed the apprehension that the Bill might have the effect of weakening the sense of parental responsibility. I hold that these two beliefs, the belief that public education weakens individuality and the belief that it weakens the sense of parental responsibility, are delusions. Education is not one of the black arts. Its function is not to suppress individuality but to develop it, and if it were true that public education sapped liberty we should expect to find very much less liberty in the world now than there was at the time of our forefathers, before the system of public education had been introduced. But obviously the very opposite of this is the case. There is hardly one feature in modern Europe more remarkable than the very large number of men and women holding the most different views in the most confident manner upon the largest possible number of topics, and I would ask the House seriously to consider whether there is really any risk that the extension of public education in this country will be injurious to the sense of parental responsibility. If this should prove to be the case I should deeply regret it, but the Board of Education has for a long time past steadily pursued a policy calculated to bring home to the parents of the children in our schools interest in the work of the schools, and a sense of responsibility for their children. Parents are encouraged to come to the schools, the managers and school teachers are encouraged to form the acquaintance of the parents, and we have many pieces of welcome evidence flowing into the Board to the effect that, as one of the results of the better education of the younger parents of the present day, parents are taking an ever greater interest in the school work of their children.
It is, of course, impossible to expect uneducated parents to take an interest in education. That is as true of the uneducated rich as of the uneducated poor parents. But if I were asked which of the two systems, the system of the public school, which is patronised by the rich, or the system of the elementary school, which is endured by the poor, has the greater tendency to foster the spirit of parental responsibility, I know what my answer would be. The well-to-do parent 391 sends his children to a boarding school, and sees very little of them except during the holidays. The child of the poor parent comes home every night, and is at home every Saturday and Sunday. The hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir M. Sykes) made the suggestion that it might be possible to introduce into the Bill some Clause emphasising the responsibility of parents in connection with the continued education of their children. Any suggestion which he may bring to me with that object will receive sympathetic consideration. I am as anxious as he is, or any member of his religious community can be, to strengthen the sense of the responsibility of parents, and I believe that there is nothing in this Bill which is calculated to weaken it.
In one or two of the speeches a contrast has been drawn, in very marked colours, between the scheme brought forward by the Federation of British Industries and the scheme embodied in the Bill. It has been represented that while the scheme embodied in the Bill possesses many undesirable features the scheme proposed by the Federation of British Industries is altogether desirable, and, at the same time, opposed in principle to the provisions of the Bill. There is no opposition at all between the scheme proposed by the Federation of British Industries and the scheme proposed in the Bill, except on one point. The Federation of British Industries do not like the proposal for part-time compulsory education, and they advocate a scheme as an alternative which is in effect the scheme I find in the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) seemed to assume that under the provisions of the Bill there will be no opportunity for the further education of select pupils, and that the young man of conspicuous ability would not have special attention directed to him. There can be no greater delusion. The object of the Bill is to provide the greatest possible number of outlets for talent of all description. We are proposing in the Bill to make it an obligation, resting upon the local, education authority, to provide secondary education for all those pupils who are fit to receive it. We are proposing under the Bill to stimulate the provision of central schools, of higher elementary schools, of junior technical schools, and of junior commercial schools. We are proposing to give every talent the opportunity of development under the provisions of this measure. 392 The fact that we are, in addition, proposing a scheme of compulsory part-time education for the whole adolescent population between fourteen and sixteen, subject to certain exceptions, is not incompatible with the operation of the scheme for the selection and development of special talent.
§ Mr. FISHER
I mean between fourteen and eighteen. If we are to have a selective system and nothing else, that is, I think, open to two objections. In the first place, it is necessarily a voluntary system, and it is a system which applies to a very small minority of people. In the second place, although it does provide education for those young people who are most capable of turning their education to the best advantage, it leaves out of account all the people I most want to get in. I consider that the great weakness of our system of education in this country lies in the fact that the vast majority of the young people in this country go out into the world, after the period of the elementary school has passed, and are thereafter subject to no sort of disinterested supervision whatever, so that we have in this country a continual wastage of ability, of character, and of physique. That is the principal evil which it is proposed to remedy in this Bill. In other words, this Bill acclaims the principle of the rights of youth. We hold that young people' have a right to be educated and that youth is the period specially set apart for that purpose. Of course, like all other individual rights, the right of education has to be measured by the higher expediencies of the State; but I believe that the only true way of approaching the problem is for the State, first of all, to make up its mind, after due consideration of all the relevant circumstances, as to the minimum of education that its citizens should receive, and then to require that minimum to be given. There is nothing sacrosanct itself about industry. The real interests of the State do not consist in the maintenance of this or that industry, but in the maintenance of the welfare of all its citizens, and I submit to the House that if the State comes to the conclusion that young people ought to receive an effective education for some hours in every week during the period of adolescence, then the employers of juvenile labour should recognise that it is a legitimate tax upon 393 their industry, just as they recognise that the Factory Acts form a legitimate tax upon their industry.
Of course, I realise that the reforms outlined in this Bill cannot be carried out without expense. I have been asked by the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt) whether I can give him an idea of the total cost of the Bill. It will be obvious to the House that anything in the nature of an exact estimate is impossible at this stage, partly because, while some of the features in the Bill are essential, others can only be described as desirable and permissive, and it is, therefore, impossible to form an estimate as to the extent to which local education authorities may take advantage of the new powers which it is proposed to confer upon them in this measure. It is also difficult to give an exact estimate, because nobody can forecast the cost of building material during the ten years succeeding the War. I am, however, in a position to give the House a rough estimate of the cost of some of the leading provisions in the Bill. We calculate that the cost of raising the school age will amount to £1,000,000, and that the cost of our proposals for continuation education, assuming that we limit the size of the classes to thirty, will amount to £8,750,000 a year. If, then, these provisions are carried into law we might anticipate an additional expenditure to be divided between rates and taxes amounting to £9,750,000 a year. Of course, I need hardly remind the House that this is eventual expenditure — expenditure which will slowly accumulate. Perhaps it would interest hon. Members to have an estimate which was recently submitted to the local education authority in Manchester as to the cost of applying the scheme of continuation education to that city. In the first year the estimate was for £10,000, in the second year £14,000, in the third year £21,000, and in the fourth year £28,000.
§ Sir H. HIBBERT
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether that is for teaching alone or for teaching and buildings? Is that the total cost?
§ Mr. FISHER
That is the total cost, excluding Grants. That is to say, that is the total cost, part of which the authorities expect to get back in Grants from the State. These figures will give the House an idea of the kind of burden which would be imposed upon a great urban community with a population of 716,000 by the intro- 394 duction of compulsory part-time education for young people between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. If we turn from what I may call the most essential provisions of the Bill to the provisions which are perhaps less essential, the most important item from the financial point of view is unquestionably the power which is conferred upon local education authorities to aid or provide nursery schools for young children between the ages of two and six. I believe that that is a valuable power, and I hope that it will be freely exercised. If this hope is realised, and if schools of this type be in course of time provided for all the children who are likely to need them—I will remind the hon. Member for Devizes that these schools are not compulsory upon the parent—then the estimate for the total eventual cost to be divided between rates and taxes may amount to" £900,000. In other words, we allow for an eventual expenditure from rates and taxes of some £9,000,000 for the most essential portions of the Bill, and £900,000 for another important but less essential feature of the Bill. So much for the cost to the ratepayer and the taxpayer.
But another important question has been raised in the Debate, especially in the interesting speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chorley, with respect to the effect of the Bill upon the economic output and the wages and profits of those engaged in industry. First of all, I venture to assert that no country in the long run suffers economic injury from an improvement in the general education of its population. On what do wages and profits ultimately depend? They depend, as we all know, in the last resort upon the economic output of the community—on the mass of goods and services which the labour of the community is able to command. And what are the causes upon which this output ultimately depends but the physique, character, and intelligence of the community itself? Granted that the educational proposals which are now before the House have the effect of strengthening the physique, shaping the character, and enlarging the intelligence of the community, then it follows by an inexorable chain of practical logic that the economic output will be increased with resultant benefits to all engaged in the economic life of the country, whether as producers, distributors, employers, or employed. I do not propose to labour this point, but I will remind the House that, quite apart from the general presumption 395 in favour of a direct connection between education and material progress, there are in, the provisions of this Bill certain features peculiarly adapted to the exercise of the triple influence to which I have referred.
In the first place, great stress is laid oh physical education. The provision of nursery schools is mainly designed to provide suitable accommodation for the physical nurture and development of very young children, who might otherwise receive permanent injury from the un-tended accumulation of minor ailments. Then, again, local education authorities are encouraged in every way to assist in the physical development of the children under their charge, and whereas under our present system the child leaving the elementary schools affronts every physical risk to which adolescence is exposed, under the proposed conditions young people between the ages of fourteen and eighteen will undergo physical training, and will be placed under the continual supervision of the school medical service. I cannot help thinking that the united and collective force of these proposals will greatly improve the health of our people. I pass to the moral purpose contained in the Bill. I am quite aware that there is a very large number of people who have very little belief in the form of training provided in the schools. I remember that there was a mediaeval British sage who declared that he had learned more from one fair Athenian maiden of twenty than from all the doctors in the University of Paris, and we are all of us aware that there is a great deal to be learned which is not taught in the schools. But is there anybody, viewing this question from the tableland of impartiality, who could possibly contend that our present system, which throws children into the world at the age of twelve or thirteen with no continuous supervision whatever, except that which is supplied by their industrial masters and foremen, is well calculated to fashion character? It is not the system which well-to-do parents adopt.
The theory upon which well-to-do, prudent parents act is that it is particularly important that a. child should be carefully trained during, the period of adolescence, when temptation is strong, and when the mind is singularly plastic and open to influences, good and bad. That the education of his children should 396 be wound up once for all at the age of fourteen would be regarded by every prudent, well-to-do parent not merely as an intellectual misfortune, but as a moral disaster, at every cost to be avoided. Our secondary schools are filled with the children of parents who have made the heaviest sacrifices in order to save them from premature exposure to the risks of industrial life. When it is proposed in the Bill to give to these children of poorer parents some measure of the moral guidance and direction which are universally claimed for the children of richer homes, I confidently claim that I shall have behind me the whole moral sense of the community. Of course, it. may be urged—I rather think that my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes uses this argument—that the training which is contemplated in Clause 10 of the Bill will not be sufficient to effect any considerable-change in the moral well-being of the community. There is a very large number of people all over the country who tell me-that when I am proposing continuation classes for 320 hours in the year, I am not proposing too much, but I am proposing far too little, and that 320 hours are really not worth having. To this my reply is, first, that our experience of the results of evening schools, where the average attendance is only forty-seven hours in the year, proves that benefits are derived from continuation education, even of a fragmentary and intermittent character, and, second, that wherever day continuation classes have been tried in this country, the verdict has been favourable.
It is quite true, from one point of view that the proposals in the Bill with respect to continuation education do constitute an educational revolution, but, on the other hand, the House must bear in mind the fact that many experiments in day continuation education have been tried all over the country by enterprising and able employers, and these experiments have been found to succeed. They have been found to succeed not only from the moral and intellectual point of view, but from the strictly industrial point of view, and I claim that the success of these experiments, partial though they may have been, is in itself a very good augury for the success of a large national scheme conducted on similar lines Nor must we suppose that the influence of the continuation school will necessarily be limited to the statutory hours of work. It will spread far beyond these limited hours. 397 Private reading will be encouraged. Home work will be invited. The school will be a natural introduction to boys' dubs and girls' clubs, or Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, as the case may be, or to any other useful society formed for artistic or social purposes. I was very much struck the other day when I went over a continuation school formed by a great captain of industry, in a great industrial centre, and I found that most of the students, who were factory hands, were, in addition to their prescribed hours of work by day, carrying on independent lines of reading, writing essays, and improving themselves in various ways, according as their tastes and aptitudes suggested.
If you want a really effective scheme of selection in this country, I believe that you cannot get anything better than a general system of day continuation education which will enable boys and girls of ability to be picked up at different stages of their development to be passed on to the careers for which their natural aptitude fits them most conveniently. The hon. Member for Devizes seems to assume that everybody's intellectual horoscope can be accurately predicted at the age of twelve of fourteen. No proposition could possibly be more opposed to the educational facts as they are known. If there is one fact more prominent than another in the minds of those who are, or have been, engaged in education, it is that young people develop at different rates. Very often you find a boy or girl of twelve, thirteen or fourteen very stupid, very dull, with very few interests, who may afterwards, under congenial influence, with good teachers, or perhaps when his or her health has been improved, strike out new lines of interest, and gradually, steadily and effectually develop an intelligence, and I consider that a scheme under which there is no opportunity for sifting the intelligence of our young people effectually and comprehensively during the age of adolescence, is a scheme which is necessarily condemned.
The hon. Baronet the Member for Chorley criticised the proposals in the Bill from the standpoint of the cotton industry, and he brought forward a counter proposal of his own. I need hardly assure the House that any proposal which comes from the hon. Member for Chorley, who justly enjoys a reputation as an educationist in the county of Lancashire, will receive, and should receive, my most careful consideration. I fully 398 recognise the peculiar position in this matter of the cotton industry. It is an industry which makes great use of child labour; indeed, there is no industry in the country which uses for its labour so large a proportion of children and young persons. In consequence, the cotton trade is peculiarly affected by any proposals which are likely to abridge the supply of the labour upon which it particularly depends. I wish to make it clear at the outset that I bring no charge of any kind whatever against the-employers of labour in Lancashire who are engaged in this great industry. I believe them to be conspicuously humane and considerate, and I know that very considerable efforts have been made in recent years to mitigate the inevitable hardships attendant upon mill life. But I think it is universally agreed that the cotton industry erected, as it was, to a very large extent, on workhouse child labour, got a bad start from which it has never entirely recovered, and that it has come to depend to an unreasonable extent on the labour of children. I do not propose to go over the familiar ground of the half-time controversy, except to-make two observations. The arrangement under which half-timers and whole-timers are educated together is obviously detrimental to scholastic efficiency, and further, the presence of the half-time system in Lancashire and Yorkshire stands in the way of the effective organisation of advanced elementary education, all over the country. I will not, however, dwell upon those questions, because I believe that opinion is ripe in the districts affected for the abandonment of half-time, and I was greatly encouraged in that belief by the announcement of the hon. Member for Chorley.
I think the application of the continuation proposals to the cotton industry, although it does not involve so great a displacement of labour, or so large an immediate reduction in earnings as the abolition of half-time, does present peculiar difficulties. I realise that, in asking employers in the cotton industry to submit to these proposals, I am, in fact, asking them to submit to considerable inconveniences, although I believe they will find it easier than they expect to meet these inconveniences, and to provide a substitute for the labour which will be temporarily displaced, I am, of course, prepared to give the most careful consideration to all the arguments 399 and considerations they can produce. I will only say this with respect to the counter-proposal of the hon. Member for Chorley; it does seem to me, speaking off-hand, to be exposed to two criticisms. In the first place, I take it that half-time from fourteen to sixteen would mean half wages from fourteen to sixteen, and I would like to ask the hon. Member for Chorley how far the working people in Lancashire would agree to accept such a proposal as that. And there is a second difficulty with respect to the hon. Member's proposal. Under it half the labour employed between fourteen and sixteen in mills will be turned adrift at sixteen, and a consequence of the proposal will be the creation of a new blind-alley employment. I have thought it my duty to make these observations in order that a reply may be forthcoming.
The broad question before the House is whether the education provided for the general mass of our young citizens is adequate to our needs. Let us remember what we have been asking them to do, and what we intend to ask them to do. We have been asking them to fight and work for their country; we have been asking them, not only to appreciate the forces of great political arguments and the significance of grave political emergencies, but to translate their appreciation of those arguments and emergencies into acts of renunciation and sacrifice. We have been asking them to die for their country, to economise for their country, to go short of food for their country, to work overtime for their country, to abandon trade union rules for their country, to be patient while towns are bombed from enemy aircraft, and while family after family is plunged into domestic sorrow. We have now decided to enfranchise for the first time the women of this country. I ask then whether the education which is given be the great mass of our citizens is adequate to the new, serious, and enduring liabilities which the development of this great it world-war creates for our Empire, or to the new civic burdens which we are imposing upon millions of new voters? I say it is not adequate. Any competent judge of facts in this country must agree with me. I believe it is our duty, here and now, to improve it, and I hold that if we allow our vision to be blurred by a catalogue 400 of passing inconveniences we shall not only lose a golden occasion but fail in our great trust to posterity.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
It is not easy to follow the right hon. Gentleman after the very able and persuasive speech which he has delivered—a speech with which, so far as it was concerned with educational ideals, if I may be allowed to say so, I wholly and unreservedly agree. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not think that I do not entirely share those ideals when I say that I feel that with those ideals in his mind the proposals which he makes in his Bill are not adequate for their realisation. I do not share in the criticisms which have been made to-day regarding cost and inconvenience to employers of labour, and various other matters to which I think the right hon. Gentleman has made a full reply. The criticism which I make on the Bill is that in its present form it does not really give us an adequate national system of education with all its branches coordinated. I do not propose to make any considerable demand on the time of the House, but I want to remind hon. Members what the present position is with regard to a national system of education. No one has said stronger things than the right hon. Gentleman himself about the present system. No one has uttered more sweeping condemnation of our present educational system than has been uttered in the various speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education. I think we want to remind ourselves what that system is in order to see whether we are adequately meeting our needs. We have at present a class system of education. We have the elementary schools intended and used in the main by children of the poor. We have secondary schools, intended for and used in the main by well-to-do parents with greater means than parents of the elementary school children, and we have mo scientific relation between elementary and secondary education. Secondary education is not regarded in this country as education appropriate to a certain age but to certain social classes. Elementary education is not regarded in this country as education appropriate to a certain age, but as the education we have thought fit for the children of the poor. The great and immediate need is that elementary education should be regarded as education appropriate to children of a 401 certain age and leading on to secondary education in all its varied forms, which again should be regarded as education appropriate to certain ages—ages later than the elementary school age. That is recognised by the right hon. Gentleman himself very clearly, and the opening Clauses of the Bill express the educational needs of the country and refer to national schemes relating to all branches of education. But how is it proposed to realise a national scheme in the Bill under discussion? The chief educational proposal which the Bill contains is the proposal to establish compulsory continuation classes for all children between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. That is the main purpose of the Bill. The whole of the definite educational reforms that are to be carried out are contained in those Clauses setting up compulsory continuation classes. My criticism is that under the Bill the old system that we have known so long in England, which is a class system of education, is to be continued. The extraordinarily rigid divisions that exist in English education are to be continued. The Bill does not remove them, the Bill does not bridge those divisions adequately, and when this Bill is carried and its proposals are in operation, what will be the result? It will be that the great bulk of the children of the poor will go to elementary schools, and when they leave the elementary school for good at the age of fourteen a coping-stone will be placed upon, their education in the form of compulsory attendance at a continuation class for a small number of hours weekly until they have reached the age of eighteen. With regard to secondary education, the secondary schools will be filled not by children reaching the secondary schools through the avenue of the elementary schools, but by children who either receive the whole of their education from earliest years in a secondary school or some other school of that type, taking pupils to a late age, and thus the rigid class divisions will be maintained in this country.
I am very much alarmed myself at a phrase which so often occurs in the speeches of those who discuss and criticise this Bill. The phrase I mean is "The selection of promising children from the elementary schools who are fitted for secondary education," I say that is a phrase and a statement which greatly alarms me. What is the position? There 402 is no so-called selection with regard to the great majority of the children who go to the secondary schools. There is no system of selection with regard, broadly speaking, to the whole of the children of the well-to-do classes. It is only when you come down to the elementary schools that you speak of a system of selection as though only a few children were capable of going on after the elementary school to secondary schools and higher institutions, and receiving full-time instruction. I hope very much that, as the result of the discussions which take place in this House, we shall revise our conception of education in this connection, and that we shall think of elementary school children and their needs precisely as we think of the educational needs of the children of any other social class, and that, instead of thinking of the occupants of elementary schools as being children, a small proportion of whom are fitted for any full-time education after the age of fourteen, we shall rather think of the elementary schools as being the natural avenue to the secondary schools, and later to other more specialised educational institutions. Therefore, my first criticism of the Bill is that, instead of making not a ladder but a broad highway from the elementary schools to the secondary schools, it keeps the narrow system of selection, the narrow system of a scholarship ladder, and for the great bulk of the children at elementary schools it regards full-time education as impossible, and institutes instead the very greatly inferior system of what will still be unrelated continuation classes.
I want to remind the House that there is one country which offers us the example, so far as machinery is concerned, of a truly national, democratic, system of education, and I think the example of that country is too often neglected—I refer to the United States of America. The educational system that prevails in America is entirely opposite to the system which prevails in this country. I realise, of course, that America started with very great advantages. She had not those great vested interests nor those sectarian difficulties that hampered educational development in this country so far as securing a unified national system is concerned. She had not the private endowed schools coming to us from the Middle Ages. She was able to build up a system 403 free from all the difficulties and the complications that we have always had to face in modern times in this country. But, granted all that, the example of America is still the most wonderful and inspiring example, because although America is composed of nearly fifty States, each of them self-governing so far as education is concerned and responsible to no authority but the State Legislature, yet in practically the whole of these States you find the same State system of education in its main features. What is it? It is this: There is no class system in education. Elementary education is not regarded as a system complete in itself for a certain social class, and secondary education as a system for another social class complete in itself. Elementary education is regarded simply as the first step, the first stage, in the general education of the citizens of America. The child on reaching the age, whatever it may be—generally fourteen—passes to the secondary school, and the secondary school is reached in the main only through the avenue of the elementary school. The Secondary school is as free as the elementary school. Not only is tuition free. but all books and apparatus are provided free too. More than that, from the secondary school the student can pass to the college and the university, which in very many cases is also equally free both as regards the fees for tuition and for books and apparatus. Indeed, a child may land at the Port of New York unable to speak the English language, be received in one of their wonderfully organised and efficient elementary schools, where the education will cost nothing at all, pass on to the secondary school, where again the cost to the parent and the child will be nil, and then pass to the State College, to the University of New York, where again the instruction will be entirely free. That is a most wonderful system, and a great object lesson for the world to copy. Nothing has so helped to make the American nation what it is today, nothing has given such a great civic life in America, such a co-operative feeling, such a sense of national consciousness, as their system of public education, absolutely free—not only free in a financial sense, but absolutely free also from any suggestion of social distinction or of class division.
404 That is the system, in its main outline, that I hope we shall adopt in this country through the appropriate Amendments of this Bill in Committee; and if I were to express any note of criticism whatever of the most admirable, eloquent, and polished address which the President of the Board made just now, it would be that he scarcely dealt at all with the great problem of secondary education. It is, I suggest, a mistake to look upon elementary education as a system which, even when you add these few hours of attendance at a continuation class can ever be complete in itself. We should still look upon elementary education as but the commencing stage of education leading to secondary education, and I am very sorry that the President did not deal at greater length and in more detail with this great problem of secondary education. If he had done so he would have told the House to-day that the number of secondary schools in this country was altogether inadequate, that at the present time and for many years they have been overcrowded, that pupils to-day are being refused admission because they are overcrowded, and because their numbers are so few compared with the needs of the nation. One great and pressing reform is that far more secondary schools should be built, that they should be of many more different types to those hitherto organised, and that the curriculum of the elementary school and of the secondary school should be harmonised, so, too, that we might get rid of the present anachronism, of the present unsatisfactory position, by which, for the most part, the-pupils reach the secondary schools by what I may call a private entrance, while the few elementary school children who get to secondary schools get there at a later age than the other occupants of the secondary schools, and in consequence are handicapped from the beginning.
In this connection I want to appeal to the President of the Board of Education to take some steps to make the secondary schools of this country absolutely free. We can only get a national system so far as we get a free system, and so long as the secondary schools are closed, except for a few scholarship children, to the children of other parents because of the poverty of the parents, we cannot hope for anything approaching a national system of education. I hope that the representative of the Board of Education 405 (Mr. Herbert Lewis), if he is to reply, will deal with this matter of secondary education in relation to elementary education—with those problems of increasing their number, of increasing their variety, and, above all, of making it as free for the whole of' the children of this country, as in the case of the elementary schools. Let us not forget, when the main provision of this Bill is to establish compulsory continuation classes, that such a system can never be a final settlement of the education question. Whether we regard further progress as being possible at this moment or not, I think we shall all agree that it is still too inadequate an education to give to a child: to send him forth to fight the battle of life at the age of fourteen, and subject him for the next four years of his life to only such educational care and guidance as is to be obtained from a few hours' attendance, less than an hour per day, at some continuation class, it may be, very frequently, of a quite unrelated kind. We have still to realise that at the age of fourteen the child is immature in body, in mind, and in character, and our problem is still to provide a system of education of which the elementary school is only the first link, and of which the secondary school, in its many branches, varieties, and characters, will be a succeeding link. We have still got to look far more to the education, care, and guidance of the children of this country than is provided simply by continuation classes.
With reference to methods and machinery, we need more than a complete chain leading from the elementary school to the secondary school, and from the secondary school to some specialised institution. When you have made that complete chain you have only made a change in machinery, and there is another great aspect of educational reform that we are bound to consider in connection with this Bill. Not only do we want these 3hanges of machinery, but we also want a form of the curricula of the schools, this matter has been touched upon in various speeches, and it is obvious that in presenting a Bill like this the President of the Board of Education cannot in the words of the Bill set forth these changes that he would desire to see in the curricula of our schools. But, undoubtedly, there is grave discontent and dissatisfaction, based upon ascertained results and on the experience of those best able to judge, 406 with the curricula of our schools. The elementary schools, in particular, have largely failed in this direction. I am one of those who believe that the Education Act of 1870 should have been more experimental. I am always surprised, when I consider this great problem of education, that there has been so little adventure, so little experiment shown in the work. I think we shall all agree, and I am quite sure my right hon. Friend opposite will agree, that there has been far too little of the spirit of adventure and experiment in connection with elementary schools. Partly this is due to that unhappy-religious controversy which divided us for so long, and which has hampered real educational advance. The curriculum has been restricted in many cases by legislation, and it has been restricted in a way that the curricula of the secondary schools were never restricted. I hope that we are now at the parting of the ways, and that when we are thinking of reforms in methods and machinery we shall think of reforms not only in methods of teaching, but in the subjects taught. Take one example. How wholly have our schools of all classes failed to give any adequate teaching in modern history. Has history ever been taught, so far as it has been taught in the elementary schools, except from the narrow standpoint of one country alone. Anyone listening to a typical lesson in English history in a typical school would think it was concerned wholly with a series of picturesque events around certain picturesque heroes. One would seek in the vast majority of cases in vain for any coherent view of the development of a great people, of changes in social conditions, and the emancipation of the nation from past conditions. And if they seek for this in vain in connection with the history of our own country, still less will it be found in any school in connection with the teaching of the modern history of other countries.
I hope that as one result of the new spirit of experiment in education we shall realise that in the selection of subjects taught, and in the ways that they are taught, we have the greatest civilising influence that anyone could possibly desire—an influence to be exercised when the-minds of the pupils are in the most plastic state to receive those influences. How little, for instance, do those in our schools know to-day concerning the real character and the real lives, their ideals and their problems, of the peoples of other nations? 407 How little do we know in this country of the people who speak our own language beyond the Atlantic—their daily life, their method of government, the development of their State institutions, and of their federal institutions—and what a loss it is, in building up the solidarity of the workers, that history should be one of those subjects treated not in watertight compartments and as though it had only relation to the narrowest national interests! I hope that as the result of the educational discussions that are now taking place that we shall revise not only the methods of teaching, but the attention and the weight we give to various subjects, and that we shall enlarge our conception of what the curricula of our elementary schools and our secondary schools might be so as to include in the widest sense the teaching of international history, and with the deliberate object of fostering knowledge and that sympathy which knowledge alone can bring of other people, particularly of those who are our kinsmen across the sea. This is a digression, and I only use it as an example of the kind of reform we may yet hope for when we are considering new methods of teaching and the broadening of the curricula. In passing, I should like also to urge that there should be far greater developments, not for any trade purpose in this connection, but for its educational value, of manual work in education, not confined to juniors of the school or the young classes, but as a means of the expression of the individual character, and as a means of giving the individual pupil not only greater aptitude in life but greater happiness in life, because it will give him the opportunity to express himself in so many different ways, an expression which, owing to the limited curriculum, is at present denied him.
I suggest that the reforms which we need in education fall into two great divisions. There is, first, reforms in machinery, the mere creation of schools, the mere building of different types of schools and the freeing of them from fees and the proper relation of one type to the other. Then there are reforms in the curricula and in the methods of teaching. I should like also to ally myself with those who plead for a more generous recognition of the place to be accorded to the teachers in our schools. We may set up the most elaborate machinery; we may devise the most perfect curricula, but the system will 408 fail if we have not got great men and great women to teach in our schools, for I believe that the power of the personality of great men and women is still the strongest educational influence we can bring to bear upon the children in our schools. I hope in this connection that the class system which has existed between various types of schools, and also between the teachers in those various types of schools, will also be swept away, and that we may look forward to seeing a great unity in the profession, so that we may regard one branch of the profession as honourable as any other branch, and so that the teacher in the elementary school shall be of the same status as the teacher in the secondary school, and that there may be a great unity amongst all branches in what is, I think, still the most important and the noblest of all professions. But I am profoundly convinced of this, that we should make a great mistake if in revising our educational machinery we continued to look upon elementary education as a system complete in itself, or a system which may be made complete, if we add to it attendance by the pupils of the elementary schools at continuation classes. I believe that the solution of a great part of our educational problem is to free secondary education from all fees, and greatly to increase the number of those schools and to follow the educational example of America by uniting the elementary school to the secondary school and by making the one the natural avenue of approach to the other. I will go further and say that we must also be prepared to free the higher branches of education, and I hope that before long we shall seethe free college and the free university, and no longer see their use mainly restricted to one social class.
I desire to put in a plea to the right hon. Gentleman for more experiment in schemes of education and new methods of education. It has always seemed a remarkable thing to me that some of the most promising experiments which have been made in various parts of the world have been ignored in this country, and I will give one example only, and that is the wonderful experiment in what is called co-operative education. That was started—I speak from memory—about ten years ago at a university in a far-away State in the United States of America. That experiment is one which has a profound bearing upon some of the economic problems which we are thinking 409 of to-day in connection with the proposals in this Bill. The head of that university in the American State realised that the plant that he could provide for engineering students must always be of a very limited character. They prepared engineering students for the great industries of the country, the great railways, and the great factories, and the university, if it were to keep its plant up to date, had to duplicate, as we in this country have, the plant of the various divisions into which the profession of engineering is divided. The head of this university saw that he could never provide the necessary plant, and that it would always be only a very small reproduction of what was really necessary, and the inspiration came to him one day, "Why should we at the university provide plant at all, and why should we not use the plant of the great railways, steel works, and other manufacturing concerns to which we supply the engineers?" It was out of that idea that there was evolved the system which is called in America cooperative education, which I will refer to in a sentence or two and which I commend to my right hon. Friend. To take the engineering student as an example in the university, he spends a fortnight under the professor at the theory of his work, and the next fortnight in an engineering works—in a railway or some other works co-operating with the university, and there has practical instruction which the university could not give him. He goes back for the next fortnight to study the theoretical part of the work in the university. When he is on the railway, or in the engineering works, or in the great factory, beginning at the beginning, and learning every stage of the work, he is followed by the professors from the university, who coordinate his work, who guide him in the practical work, and who see that the theoretical work of the university is coordinated with the practical work of the workshop. In a word, that is what is meant in America by co-operative education. It has been so successful that, although only started ten years ago in one university in a far-away city in America, it has now spread over a considerable part of America, not only for the universities, but it has been introduced into not less than 300 of the high schools of America, the high schools of America being the free secondary schools, to which the pupils pass after going to the elementary schools. The pupils in these 410 high schools, in the main, are from fourteen to eighteen years of age, and in many specialised professions, industries, and crafts that they are taught in the high schools, the same system of cooperative education is adopted. A boy is being trained, for instance, to go into-some specialised work, or even into some profession, or a great banking concern. Under the cooperative system in America he spends a fortnight at school, and then he goes for a fortnight into the works, or the office, or the factory. The school professors follow him into the factory, and co-ordinate the work, and he remains under their educational care. After a fortnight in this practical work he goes back to his school for the more theoretical portions of his training, and in order to receive all the elements that make up a liberal education.
The right hon. Gentleman will see that, this is a system which at least deserves to be examined. This is a system which is being applied with ever-increasing success, and which is always being extended to many hundreds of the high schools of America, and I think we might well consider these modern experiments which have been made in other countries when we are thinking of the reform of our own educational system. One great advantage that has come to the American citizens from their splendid system of public free education, from which all class consciousness and distinctions have been swept away, is that when the best minds of the American nation are applied to the-problems of education, it is the people's schools that they are thinking of. Whether they are thinking of elementary schools, of secondary schools, of colleges, or of universities, if they are thinking of one part of the system it is only one link in the chain of a public national system—the people's system—and the result has been to create a great popular interest in education, and a great popular love and appreciation for education, with results which are at once wonderful and most encouraging and inspiring as an example to other nations.
I will only say this as I conclude: The Bill makes very valuable restrictions, and very necessary restrictions, upon the improper demands that have been made upon child labour in industry. The Bill, I think, makes very proper restrictions upon these. In one respect, however, in this connection the Bill will require serious amendment, and I think I can put 411 my point to my right hon. Friend almost in a word. It is this: Whilst protecting children to some degree from improper use in industry, and whilst giving them a much greater protection than they have had in the past up to the age of fourteen, the Bill as it is now drafted, quite unintentionally, does provide a severe disability for the ex-elementary schoolboy when he reaches the age of sixteen, as compared with the secondary schoolboy when he reaches the age of sixteen. At the age of sixteen the boy who has not been to a secondary school, but who left the elementary school at the age of fourteen, will not be on a fair equality with a boy who has been at a secondary school until the age of sixteen. The ex-elementary schoolboy at the age of sixteen will be required for another two years to give compulsory attendance at a continuation school. The boy of sixteen who has been to a secondary school until he is sixteen will be free from that liability altogether. So far as the State is concerned, the compulsory education of the secondary schoolboy will cease at the age of sixteen. The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, will correct me if I am not accurately describing the provisions of the Bill. Whilst the secondary schoolboy's education will cease at the age of sixteen, so far as the compulsory provisions of this Bill are concerned, the ex-elementary schoolboy at the age of sixteen, who has been to the compulsory continuation classes under the provisions of this Bill, will not be a free agent like his brother in the secondary school. He will for another two years be still bound to continue attendance at the continuation school.
That raises a very serious question, because I think it will be found on consideration that that may very greatly operate to the disadvantage of the boy who has not been to a secondary school as he enters or continues to make his way in the world of industry. It will give a preference which will be very greatly to the disadvantage of the elementary schoolboy as against the boy who has been to a secondary school until the age of sixteen. A very great part of this objection—and it is a very grave objection—to this aspect of the Bill will be removed when the secondary schools are made free, and when they are increased to so great a number as to supply secondary education for all those who are able to take advantage of secondary education. I hope the 412 right hon. Gentleman in the criticisms which I have made will not think I am not wholly sympathetic towards the purpose he has in view. If my criticisms have been in any part destructive, I hope he will realise that they have also been in a far greater measure constructive, and that my only desire is to help him in order that we may achieve at this time a truly national and coordinated system of education.
§ Sir JAMES YOXALL
I have listened to the hon. Gentleman as to a voice crying in the wilderness, but I suggest to him that this Bill is a preparing of the way. I have long ceased to believe that there is any practical danger of the good being the enemy of the best. I have often seen in this House with regard to Education Bills that the best has been the enemy of the good, and that a Bill, brought in with admirable motives, has never passed into law. My hon. Friend (Mr. Whitehouse) took, I think, a rather unfortunate example when he referred to the undoubted shortcomings of the elementary schools. He complained of the inferiority of the teaching of modern history in the schools. I agree. But I think it is also the case that in the secondary schools of this country, and also in the universities, the modern history teaching is of the most unsatisfactory nature.
§ Sir J. YOXALL
Yes; and I would remind him that if eight hours per week are to be regarded as an insufficient amount of education for children over fourteen for forty weeks per year, surely twenty-five, twenty-six, or twenty-seven hours per week for all kinds of education for all children cannot leave very much margin for any particular teaching. What can and what ought to be done in the elementary schools is to get them into a frame of mind and mental attitude and disposition which would induce them, all the rest of their lives, to be learning, whether in the continuation day schools or evening schools elsewhere. The difficulty and shame of the elementary schools has been that too little of that valuable preparatory work can be done. There have been several causes adduced, but one reason has not been mentioned this afternoon. The curses of the elementary school have been two. The first has been that nearly all the children have always left before the age—that potent age—of 413 puberty, when changes, moral and mental, take place which prepare the human being for progress beyond that age and for development which cannot begin before that age. The boy or girl attending a secondary school until eighteen or nineteen years of age passes through that period and has suitable teaching and instruction given after that period has taken place, and his mental development is watched and guided in the school. You must not and you ought not to expect too much—you must expect very little—from a system of schools in which every child practically passes out of the school and away from it altogether before that age of development which is the real critical age for the whole life of the human being. The second curse is that always your classes have been too large. Really, I put it to my right hon. Friend, as a problem for him to solve; and I ask him to inform the House if he has any plans whereby he expects to be able to make the classes smaller in the schools in future. If so, what are his plans, and by what method does he expect to be able to obtain that extra supply of teachers to enable him to make the classes smaller. When does he expect to obtain those teachers who will be necessary for use in the day continuation schools? I think I heard a proposal from my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley with regard to half-time between fourteen and sixteen as an alternative to the proposal in the Bill. I think it is a safe estimate to say that half-time schools, from fourteen to sixteen, would mean the employment of some 30,000 additional teachers in this country. They are not to be had.
The real difficulty in the way of this Bill will not be lack of goodwill or support in the whole country. It is astonishing to me, after many years of observation of this matter—it is astounding—to see the change that has taken place in public opinion in the last two years upon this question of education. I know that much of that change is due to the admirable efforts and speeches and influence throughout the whole country of the President of the Board of Education. But that is not the whole of the cause of the change. There is, I am quite sure, now, throughout the whole of the country, ion the part of employers and of men, on the part of parents and, I think, of young persons, a general desire that, in this country we should do better than we 414 have done in the past with regard to education. But this great difficulty comes in. Where are you going to get the essential persons for teachers? In the course of this Debate many references of the most generous kind have been made by Member after Member to the teachers in the elementary schools, in particular by my hon. Friend (Mr. Whitehouse), and by others. I need not dwell upon that, but I will say to the President of the Board of Education that there are things he must do with regard to the teaching profession if he is to secure a proper supply of persons willing to enter upon that profession. I think he must so act as to secure that the stipends of that profession will not be less than those obtainable in the Civil Service; that the pensions will not be less than those obtainable in the Civil Service, and he will have to arrange, too, that there shall be promotion in the service. He can, I think, by arrangement as to Grant and by State action alone, secure that teachers in these schools, though they shall not be Civil servants proper, but shall be jointly municipal servants and Civil servants—shall receive pensions not less than those obtainable by Civil servants. He ought, I think, to secure that the other condition of the service shall obtain, that the beginner may move up along the service by capacity, and if he is justified, right to the very highest posts in the service—the Permanent Secretary of the Board of Education, the examiner ships there of the inspectorships of schools. If he will give this calling of teaching the status of a service with the remuneration of a service, with the retiring allowance of a service, and with the possibility of promotion of a service, then, I think, lie will obtain what he seeks to obtain, and that is a satisfactory flow of neophytes into the work. But without them I feel sure ho will not. He has lately done something, he has done much, by the way of the Supplementary Grant, to improve the salaries of the teachers, but he knows it too well, having placed a considerable sum of money—over £3,000,000—in the hands of local education authorities, to disburse mainly for improving the salaries of the teachers, and so attract new entrants to the profession, that much of that money has not been spent in that way so far. I ask him again, if this Bill becomes an Act within the next few weeks, what is he going to do to secure that that Supplementary Grant shall be 415 everywhere and in every case, properly spent for the purpose of improving the remuneration of the teachers? Can he put into this Bill a Clause which will secure that? Does he propose to do it by means of minutes, or how does he intend to secure that the local education authority, which is now—not as used to be the case, the parent, or the Board of Education—the most obscurantist corporation connected with education, shall deal with this matter of the pay of the teachers and the grant in aid?
These are the real difficulties which have hardly been touched upon to-day. They can be got over gradually, and solely by the development which the right hon. Gentleman referred to in the case of the continuation schools of Manchester. It is an important consideration that you will not get the teachers and you cannot get the schools required, and therefore you cannot decrease the size of the classes. You cannot improve your system unless you do get more teachers, and I beg to impress upon the House the importance of this particular issue. The Bill is one which demands support from everybody interested in education, and most thankfully I take it as an instalment of something further. I have every hope that within a few years' time the Bill will be put into operation, and the public demand for a better education will become so loud that most of the ideas which have been put forward by my right hon. Friend will be realised a short time after that.
§ Mr. HAYDN JONES
I have listened to the charming speeches of the President of the Board of Education on this subject with interest, and I do not think we have any cause to complain of the discussion in the House to-day. Judging by the tone of the speeches, I should say that the present Bill is very much better than its predecessors. I have listened to the speech of the hon. Member who moved the rejection of this measure, and the reasons he gave for his Motion were, I think, based upon an assertion that the Clauses of the Bill were revolutionary in character. The Seconder of the Motion for the rejection of this measure opposed it not because he thought it was revolutionary, but because it did not go so far as he desired. I support the Bill in a most whole-hearted manner. If we cannot get everything we desire, let us take 416 everything we can get. This measure gives us a great deal, and it is a decided improvement upon any of the Bills that have been introduced into this House before. It avoids some of those thorny questions which might give rise to controversy in this House, and if I were to criticise the speech of my right hon. Friend it would be in this direction. He dealt with all the difficulties as they arose in urban districts and large centres of population, but he forgot the small rural districts and the system in the Principality of Wales. He completely overlooked the fact that in Wales we had a perfect system of secondary schools in operation.
I rose mainly to point out to the President of the Board of Education the difficulties which rural districts will have in putting the Clause dealing with continuation schools into operation. The Member for Chorley (Sir H. Hibbert) dealt with them from this point of view The difficulties which arise in rural districts exceed by a great deal those which arise in large populous districts like those in Lancashire. What does the Bill propose? First of all, it abolishes the limit which has been put upon the amount of the rates which can be levied under Part II. of the Education Act of 1902. The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) objected to this provision of the Act, but I could never understand why that provision was inserted in the Act of 1902 at all. To limit the amount of a rate which a rating authority could levy upon itself appeared to me to be an absurdity, and early after the passing of the Act of 1902, acting as hon. secretary to my education authority, I had occasion to appeal to the Local Government Board for permission to levy more than the maximum allowed by the Act. An official was sent down to hold an inquiry, and we were then told that we must not levy upon ourselves any more than the Act allows. The result has been that in my county from the very outset we have levied a 2d. rate only, and as we had to put up with limited funds we were not able to spend more on secondary education.
With regard to continuation schools, 320 hours are made compulsory for a pupil between the ages of fourteen and eighteen to attend one of these schools. Is it intended that the children in rural districts after they leave school at fourteen are to go for two days a week into an 417 elementary school to receive some kind of instruction from a permanent head teacher or a travelling teacher? If that is so, then I believe the scheme is doomed to failure. You cannot get them to go for two days a week to another school. My own impression is that in the rural districts we shall have to draft the children into a central school. It is true that this Bill provides for such a contingency, but there are immense difficulties in the way of carrying out that scheme. Take, for instance, the expense of erecting central schools in those localities and of maintaining the children at those schools. In my opinion these are difficulties which it will be very hard to overcome in country districts. It has occurred to me that the difficulty can be overcome if the President will introduce during the Committee stage a. provision which will enable county authorities to carry out a scheme under which the secondary schools should be freed of fees to enable all children to attend just as if it were a continuation school. We have all the machinery and the buildings for the purpose, and we should only have to enlarge buildings, which is much less expensive than building new schools. I think that is the only solution of this difficulty if this Bill is to become operative. It is true that the Act allows each local authority to formulate a scheme, and in agreement with the Board of Education to fix upon an appointed day. I am in favour of proceeding at once, and to do this we must find some way out of the difficulty. That, in my opinion, is the solution of the problem in Wales, namely, that the fees of the county intermediate schools should be absolutely abolished, that an equivalent Grant should be made by the Board of Education, and that there should be a Clause introduced enabling local authorities to spend money in providing board and lodgings for these children when they are away at school. If the President of the Board of Education could see his way to introduce some system of that kind, I feel certain that Wales will lead the way in putting the Act into operation and in submitting schemes at a very early date.
Wales has a certain advantage in this matter. It is far ahead of England in the matter of secondary education. A great proportion of the children of the elementary schools are drafted into these intermediate schools even now with a little help. The only thing that keeps 418 many of the parents from sending their children at the present time is that they cannot afford to send them and to keep them away from home. If the President and the Board of Education wish to see the system a success, let them be a little more liberal in the matter of Grants. The one thing that hampers education in rural districts is the question of rates, and if this scheme is to be made a success in the rural districts of Wales I must appeal—and I do so very strongly—to the President of the Board of Education to regard Wales from the Welsh point of view, and in view of the difficulties arising from the rural nature of the districts, to try and make the Grants greater than they are at present. If he would increase the existing Grants to intermediate schools, he would enable all those children whose parents desire them to go to be drafted into those schools. With those remarks, I simply conclude by saying that I feel deeply grateful to the President for undertaking this very difficult question, and for solving it in a manner that none of his predecessors have succeeded in doing. I prophesy that the Bill will soon become an Act of Parliament, and I prophesy further that once an Act of Parliament there will be many districts anxious to put its provisions into operation, and that the right hon. Gentlemen will very soon see the results of his work.
§ Sir WILLOUGHBY DICKINSON
We have just had a speech from my hon. Friend with regard to the attitude taken up in respect to this Bill by the representatives of Wales, and we have also had two speeches on behalf of Lancashire. I venture to ask to be allowed a few minutes of the time of the House to refer to the views held on this Bill by the education authority of London. I have been asked by them to state very shortly a few points which they wish to be noticed, and in the first place to say that they welcome and accept in all its fullness, and practically in all its details, this most valuable measure which has been proposed by the Government. That expression of opinion, I respectfully submit, is one that should carry weight, inasmuch as it comes from a local education authority that has not only the largest amount of educational work, but I should say has the most varied class of educational work in the country, and, indeed, in the whole world. It is an authority that has had 419 experience of a great deal of the different classes of work which this Bill is intended to facilitate and to extend. I remember very well, when the whisky money was first granted in 1889 for the purpose of enabling local authorities to originate a scheme of technical education, what was done by the London County Council. Since then the council has carried out a very large scheme of scholarships in order to enable scholars from the elementary schools to rise and to go through the very highest spheres of education. I am not on the county council now, but for many years I served on the education committee and saw a great deal of their work, and, if I understand their attitude rightly, that experience has brought them to a conclusion the very opposite from that which has been suggested by the hon. Member for Chorley (Sir H. Hibbert), who spoke on behalf of Lancashire. I have here the report which was prepared last year by the Education Committee of the London County Council upon the whole question of reform in education. Under the heading, "Compulsory Continuation Schools," I find that they came to these conclusions:No proposal for reform has obtained more widespread acceptance than the suggested provision of some form of compulsory continuation schools for young people from fourteen to seventeen years of age who are not being otherwise educated.…The question has long been before the country. The need to repair the defects of an education which terminates at fourteen, and frequently earlier, led to the establishment of evening schools. During the past thirty years or more these have grown in scope, in importance, and in favour. They have not only done good work within their objects, but they have had a wide influence on the whole educational system. They are, however, voluntary, and have not succeeded in attracting more than a small proportion (in London, 25 per cent.) of adolescents. Those who most need continued education and discipline stay away. Further, it is recognised that the existing evening schools make a large demand on the health and will of the young workers who attend,Later on, when referring to the views held by the employers in London on this subject, they state:Most employers think that if continuation schools are necessary, they should be compulsory; that only by compulsion can the willing employers be protected. Many would favour such a scheme if compulsory. The producers among employers are more definite than the distributors.A resolution on that point was passed in the spring of last year to this effect: 420That some form of compulsory continuation education for young people to the age of seventeen, who are not being otherwise educated, is desirable.That was the opinion of the London County Council last year, and I cannot help thinking that the process of selection, which my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley suggested was sufficient to give certain classes of children the further education that is requisite, has been proved to be inadequate, and that no scheme will effect the objects of this Bill unless it is universal and compulsory. That is why the London education authority has come to the conclusion that it is essential that Clause 10 should remain part of the Bill. My right hon. Friend should take confidence to the extent that, even if he has opposition to that Clause emanating from the North of England, he can turn to the South of England, and especially to London, and obtain support for it. I hope, therefore, that he will be able to resist successfully all attempts to reduce the effectiveness of this Bill by doing away with the proposed compulsory attendance at continuation schools. There are one or two points to which the London County Council wish me to refer on this occasion. First, there is the point of finance. Finance, of course, lies at the very basis of this Bill, and everything depends upon how far the State is willing to foot the bill in order to meet the cost of this great reform. London especially is very much concerned in the financial proposals in this Bill, necessarily so, because in London a very large amount of money is spent on education. Roughly speaking, out of a total expenditure in the country on education of £26,000,000 £6,000,000 is spent on education in London. The cost of education in London is necessarily very much higher than it is in other parts of the country. That has always caused very great difficulty to those who have had to administer the Education Acts in London. The cost of educating a child in London is £7 5s., whereas the cost of educating a child in the rest of England and Wales is only £4 6s. That has always been a difficulty, and one which has caused the London authorities to be constantly knocking at the door of the Board of Education and the Treasury for further financial assistance. Their justification for asking for it was that the Grants made to London were very much less in proportion than the Grants made to the rest of the country. Until quite recently, towards this cost of £7 5s. per 421 child in London the Exchequer contributed only £2 5s., whereas towards the cost of £4 6s. per child in the rest of the country, the Exchequer contributed £2 3s.
That injustice was very largely met by the President of the Board of Education last year, with the result that, instead of the contribution to London being £2 5s., it was raised to £3, and the contribution to the rest of the country was raised from £2 3s. to £2 16s. That, again, left London in a very considerably worse position than the rest of the country. Now this Bill proposes a further alteration, which will be in favour of the Metropolitan ratepayers, and the London County Council are grateful to my right hon. Friend for having met, to this extent, their request which had been presented to him on several occasions. The proposal in the Bill is that the Grants towards education shall in no case be less than one-half of the cost of that education. The result, therefore, will be that towards the cost of £7 5s. per child in London, £3 12s. 6d. instead of £3 will now be granted, and I presume that in the rest of the country the same amount, £2 16s., will be granted towards the total cost of £4 6s., inasmuch as the present Grant to the rest of the country already exceeds one-half. That, of course, deals only with existing expenditure. It does not provide for new expenditure. The proposal, as I under stand it, is that one-half of all the expenditure on education will be provided by the Exchequer. Of course, that means that the other half has still to be provided by the rates. That raises the question of what is going to be the future in reference to these new branches of education.
§ Sir W. DICKINSON
I am very glad to get that interruption. I quite agree that the Bill does put it as a minimum, therefore I anticipate and assume that we are safe to get one-half. That is all the more reason why, perhaps, my right hon. Friend will allow me to still further press what may be an open door, namely, that it should be a minimum that is not observed-If one-half of the very largely increased expenditure which will result from this Bill is still left to be met by the ratepayers, I have had sufficient experience of ratepayers in different parts of the country to see that the aspirations of my right hon. Friend will very likely fail to be fulfilled 422 by reason of the fact that it is very difficult to get local governing authorities now to add anything to the rates for the purposes of education. We here in this House are almost unanimous in favour of this Bill. We are anxious to stop at nothing in order to get a first rate education, not only elementary education but also the higher class of education for every boy and girl in the country, but we must not fail to recognise that that feeling does not exist among the local authorities in the country. It is growing and, with the stimulating effect of the Board of Education and with the general growth of public opinion, we may be able to improve matters in that respect, but at the moment, unless we are prepared to grant very considerable assistance from the Imperial Exchequer, we shall find that all our aspirations fail because of the natural disinclinations of the local authorities to put any large sums upon the rates. That is the reason why the London County Council are somewhat anxious about the actual proposals of this Bill. I was very glad to have that interruption just now from my right hon. Friend to the effect that it was only a minimum. I take it that he intends that the minimum shall be exceeded. But that is not what we read between the lines of Clause 38, which has been already referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Hull (Colonel Sir Mark Sykes) and which, if I heard him aright, the President of the Board himself said he was not quite certain he understood. It is rather important—that is one reason why I hope the House will excuse me mentioning it now—that before we get to the Committee stage we should know exactly what is intended. Sub-section (2) of Clause 38 says: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.Therefore it is only to be half of the amount which, as I read it, in the opinion of the Board of Education, is the amount which should be granted—that is to say, strictly speaking, the Board of Education could disallow any expenditure under these words, and that is what we are rather afraid of. We want some assurance that these words" expenditure of the authority recognised by the Board of Education as expenditure in aid of which 423 Parliamentary Grants should be made to the authority" merely mean what I think they are intended to mean, that the Board of Education should have the power to disallow any extravagant or quite unsuitable expenditure on the part of a local authority. If the local authorities feel that at a later stage they may be debarred j from receiving even this half of their expenditure if the Board of Education in their discretion think it is an expenditure which ought never to have been incurred or which it was not wise to incur, or anything like that, it will be impossible to anticipate that the local authorities will go ahead with any experiments of a valuable kind. The local authorities will necessarily want some security that they will not be dealt with, I will not say unfairly, but in a niggardly way, after the expenditure has been incurred. That is one point that the London County Council wish to have made clear.
There is another point which is very much akin to it. When will this decision be made as to whether a particular expenditure is such as will be met to the extent of one-half by the State? At present a very unsatisfactory system holds good. The Grants this year, for instance, are based on a certain proportion of expenditure, as, for example, the teachers' salaries. Under the present rules the Exchequer grants three-fifths of the amount spent by the local authority on teachers' salaries, but it is three-fifths of the amount spent two years ago, and that, of course, is extremely unfair to the local authority which is making this expenditure, and very often increased expenditure, at the present moment. Under present conditions the teachers are receiving a war bonus, but the whole of that bonus falls on the local authorities because the Education Grants are only three-fifths of the money spent on teachers' salaries two years ago. I take it that the meaning of this Clause is that one-half of the expenditure in the current year is going to be met and that it should not only be secured, but should also be paid. It is a very common failing on the part of the Government, in other matters as well as education, that the Grants come so late that the individual authority which is entitled to receive the money is actually out of pocket, to a certain extent, by having had to advance it. I earnestly press upon the President of the Board of Education that he should take some steps 424 to meet this, and make it perfectly certain that the amount is calculated on one-half, or whatever proportion it is, of the sums spent during the current year, and that it is also, to a very great extent, paid during that period. Those are the two points I wish to make, because I think it is important that we should have it quite clear before we get into Committee. Otherwise, the Bill meets not only with the approval of the education authority of London, but also of the great mass of people in London, and I am certain that, generally speaking, we shall welcome its passage through this House in all its fullness and in all its details.
§ Sir F. BLAKE
I wish to say a word or two in support of the Bill from the point of view of the chairman of an education committee of a typical rural and semi-urban county, because it appears to me that it contains so many well-considered provisions, which will enable a local authority to arrange for the development and organisation of education in its area, that it ought to be welcomed with gratitude by anyone who has been associated with the administration of the Act of 1902. Every page of it seems to me to indicate that the President and those who are associated with him have used every endeavour to find out where the shoe has pinched in the past so far as local authorities are concerned, and to have done everything in their power to remove the difficulties and solve some of the problems that we have had to deal with which have hampered our actions in the past, and I want to express my gratitude to him for certain provisions he has made which will make the administration of county education a very much more pleasant and easy task in the future than it has been in the past. There are one or two that I particularly want to allude to. There is, first of all, the extension of medical inspection to schools and institutions other than elementary. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the time has not come when something in the nature of compulsion should take place in connection with the medical inspection of schools. After all, it has come to this, that the health of the child is almost the supreme law in these things. I want to acknowledge the enormous advance that he is making by the proposal to establish nursery schools, because incalculable loss to the young people of the country will be spared them by the early investigation of their complaints in these nursery 425 schools. But, with regard to medical inspection, we have found—I am speaking for my own county—either because there is an amount of ignorance which one cannot get through, or because there is a spirit of independence, or because people think that what they are getting for nothing cannot be worth anything, very considerable difficulty in carrying out medical inspection in the way we should wish to carry it out. We have found it very difficult to persuade them in the last two or three years that this medical inspection has not something to do with compulsory service in the Army or Navy, that it is a preliminary to see how the children are, that they are going to be scheduled and put upon a card, that we are to have their medical history, and that this will eventually tell against them. That is one of the difficulties we have had, and we have found it extremely difficult to carry out a systematised plan of medical inspection of the schools. I want to suggest, not that there should be compulsion to have a child examined in the school, but that where a parent refuses to allow his child to be examined we should, in the interests of the other children, because it is in their interest as much as in that of the child itself, insist upon the parent producing a medical certificate, signed by a qualified medical man, giving such an account of the health of the child at the time he examined it as the local education authority may require. This I know is a Committee point, and in order to test the question I propose, when the Bill reaches Committee, to try to draft some Clause of that sort, so that we may have a discussion and obtain the opinion of the House on the matter.
There is another very excellent provision in the Bill for which I thank the President, and that is the power given to contribute to the cost of the lodging of children who live in districts remote from elementary schools. This provision is especially valuable in a county like the one with which I am acquainted. There are children in that county who live ten, twelve, or even fifteen miles from a school. In the past, by all kinds of subterfuges and dodges, we have found the money to enable the parents to send the children to school. We have done it, as the President knows, by giving a travelling allowance. But it is always a disagreeable thing to have to do what you know to be right in the wrong way. Therefore, I do thank the President for 426 putting an end to our difficulties and enabling us by this provision to make a proper contribution towards the child's education. It is good for the child, it is good for the parent, and it is good for the employer. It may be interesting to the President to know, and it may also interest the House to know, that one of the pleasant things in connection with the educational work that we have been doing in Northumberland has been that from time to time I have received from hill farmers letters complaining that they were unable to get the right kind of shepherd to go to them because there was no provision for education in the immediate neighbourhood of the farm. We have a great many things to discourage us, but it is one of the encouraging things when we find that the right type of shepherd with a family will not go to those hill farms because there are no educational facilities in the neighbourhood. Under the provision in the Bill we shall benefit the child, we shall benefit the parent who is the right kind of parent, and enable him to take the good situation for which he is fitted, and we shall benefit the farmer, because he will get the right kind of man to look after his sheep.
There is another provision to which I would like to call attention, and that is the regulation respecting the closing of non-provided schools. It is the grouping of schools that I have specially in mind. I wish I could think that this provision would meet the difficulties which we have to encounter. You can only group schools, I understand, under the provisions of this Bill if they are of the same denomination. The trouble that we have in our little villages and towns in Northumberland is that there are not two schools of the same denomination, but two schools of rival denominations. I have no objection to non-provided schools. We have many excellent non-provided schools, and I am not hostile to them when they are required; but the consequence of having, say, a Church of England school and a Presbyterian school, neither of them full and neither of them really efficient, means that there is great waste of money and great waste of educational opportunity. But the odium theologicum comes in if you try to get rid of one of these schools. If you try to get rid of the Church school you have the churchmen in arms, and equally the Presbyterian would rise against you if you in any way threatened 427 the Presbyterian school. I do not know what is the remedy for this, but there axe provisions for inquiries being held, and I think that when a school of that sort exists and the local educational authority reports that it is not really required, that it is not full, and that it would be very much in the interests of education if you could have a central school, the onus should be thrown upon those who wish to keep that school to satisfy the local education authority, or the Board, as the case may be, of showing that it is for the benefit of the parents, and that there are sufficient parents of that denomination to really make a school. I was in a Church school the other day—not one of the schools that we should abolish, because it is required—and I asked out of curiosity how many of the parents of the sixty or seventy children who attended the school were actually members of the Church of England, and the answer was three. That particular school was efficient and it was required, but there are cases of two schools, neither of them efficient, and neither of them required in the interests of the parents, where I think those who wish to maintain the schools should have to make out a very good reason Why it should be kept as a separate entity, and why it should not be grouped with another school so as to make one substantial whole instead of two unsatisfactory parts.
There is another provision, for the purpose of simplifying the conditions under which an education authority can compulsorily acquire land for education purposes. That also is a valuable provision. It has been something of a scandal in the past where there has been difficulty in getting land, that we have had to go through the long process of a Provisional Order, with all the tedium and delay which is involved. I can give the House an instance of the difficulties that an education authority has to deal with. There was a case where we were called upon by the local health authority to make some improvement in the master's house. The master himself had for some time been demanding that this should be done, and the local council took it up and we were called upon to make the improvement. We sent our surveyor to inspect the place, and eventually called upon the landlord. The landlord told us that we could have the land we wanted on two conditions—that we paid him the 428 price he wanted and that we dismissed the schoolmaster, who, in his estimation, was the cause of all the trouble. We could not do that, and we had to go to the expense of a Provisional Order, which threw a burden of from ninety to a hundred pounds upon the county rates in addition to the cost of the land. All that is going to be abolished under the new Bill, which gives local educational authorities power to obtain the land that is wanted for public purposes in the same way as district councils and urban councils can acquire land under the Town Planning Act. That is a most satisfactory improvement in existing conditions, and I wish to thank the President and those associated with him for coming to the assistance of the local authorities.
I would have liked to say something about the provision for compulsory continuation schools in such an area as the one with which I am associated, but I am not here to oppose the Bill. The difficulties in a rural area are very great, and I do want to call the President's attention to the position with which we are faced. I would like to remind him that we are now faced with very heavy arrears of work, and that building operations have been suspended for the last three years. There is a serious deficiency of school accommodation for elementary scholars, many schools being in the hands of the military, and the children attending only half-time—that is to say, two sets of children use the one school, one set going in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Our secondary schools are full to overflowing. There is urgent need for new buildings and extension to existing buildings. It will take some time to make good in those directions. Then look what work lies before us There is most important work under the provisions of Clause 2 of the Bill. To carry out these reforms successfully would even in normal times involve vast expenditure of time, money, and material, and, indeed, if the Bill stopped at Clause 2, local authorities would be faced with a very big task.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman will bring an understanding and sympathetic mind to bear upon our task. I know that he will allow us to do first things first. I hope that he will allow us to get elementary education established firmly on right lines—which it has never been—that he will give us time to gather around us a body of well-equipped 429 teachers properly remunerated for the important work which they have to do, that he will give us time to organise courses of advanced instruction for our scholars under Clause 2, and to pass those who are fit to benefit by still more advanced instruction as free scholars into the secondary schools. There is one grain of comfort. One sometimes looks at the postscript of a letter, and on looking at the postscript of this Bill I find that the Act is to come into operation on the appointed day, which is such day as the Board of Education may appoint, and that different days may be appointed for different provisions, and different areas, different parts of areas, different persons, and different classes of persons. I do hope that the President will put a liberal and discriminating interpretation upon those words, because it must be obvious to everybody that the difficulties of organising continuation classes in a small town are very great. It is not hard to imagine the difficulty in organising continuation classes for 700 to 900 young i people in a town of 14,000 or 15,000 persons, many of whom do not find employment in that town, but go in by train every day to a larger centre. In a large town where there is a definite industry the difficulty is not so great, but there are great difficulties in getting the children together for the right kind of instruction, children of different ages, of different degrees of ability, and in different conditions at present in a district like my own, and I hope that we shall be given time to turn round. Speaking freely for myself, I can promise my whole-hearted support for the measure, even including this, because I recognise the great value, of which the President has spoken, of some supervision, control and direction for young people at the critical age between fourteen and eighteen, because that is the real value of these provisions; and I promise not only support for the Bill, but that when it has to be worked in the district with which I am concerned it shall be worked with the whole-hearted desire to make it the success which we all hope it will be.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The right hon. Gentleman in his extremely eloquent speech described this Bill as a revolution in education. He did not deal with the criticism of my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes, that this was not a time to introduce revolutions, whether they were good or bad revolutions. As far as my experi- 430 ence goes, generally revolutions are not good but bad. I am opposed to the introduction of the Bill at the present moment, partly on the ground that I am not such a fervent believer in the efficacy of education as the right hon. Gentleman himself, and to a very great extent on the ground put forward by the hon. Member for Devizes, that this is not an opportune moment for introducing a Bill of this great magnitude. My hon. Friend informed us that we were in the eighth year of this Parliament. When we were elected in 1910 we curtailed the duration of the life of this Parliament from seven years to five years. Those five years have passed more than two years ago. We were told at the time by representatives of the Liberal party, when they brought in the Bill which reduced the life of Parliament from seven to five years, that during the first five years of the life of Parliament it was fit to deal with great questions, but that during the last two years it had lost touch with the country and was not fit then to deal with great questions, and therefore ought to be dissolved. But not only have the first five years passed but the seven years have passed. We are now some four months over the seven years, and, in addition to that, we have introduced, to my great sorrow, a Bill which has extended the franchise by nearly 100 per cent. My recollection of constitutional practice is that when a Bill has been introduced and passed into an Act which alters the electorate which elects, this House, immediately an appeal is made to the country, and that if that is not done, on the ground that the registration scheme is not ready, no new measures of any importance are introduced, because it is admitted that the mere fact of extending the franchise has rendered the Parliament which extended it unfit to exercise any further great legislative functions. I believe that that has been the universal rule for the last one hundred years. Are we carrying it out? We are not at the present moment in an ordinary situation, we are face to face with the greatest crisis which this country has ever had to meet. I remember the late Prime Minister informing us—I have not the exact words— that it would be a crime to introduce during the War controversial legislation. What is this but controversial legislation? What on earth has it to do with the War? It may be all that right hon. Gentlemen says it is; it may be going to revolutionise education, it may be going to do some 431 thing for the "rights of the young"—a phrase which I Should have liked to use myself. It may be an excellent thing to do, but this is not the opportune time at which a Bill of this sort should be introduced. I attach very great importance to this matter, because a year and a quarter ago there was a change in the Government and the change was made on the ground that the War had to be prosecuted more vigorously. We were told that people forgot we were in a state of war and that the chief aim of everybody should be to bring the War to a successful conclusion. Are we going to do that by taking up the time of this House in considering a Bill which the Minister introducing it describes as a revolution? It is a Bill of forty-five Clauses and deals undoubtedly with most important matters. This is the wrong moment to bring it in, and the Government would be well advised if they would withdraw the Bill and concentrate their energies on what is after all the most important thing, the prosecution of the War. Let me turn to the question of finance. The right hon. Gentleman said it would be difficult to give an estimate of what the Bill will cost, as it is not known to what extent the local authority may avail themselves of its provisions. I can understand an educational enthusiast not thinking that the question of finance matters much for the moment. But I hope this House is composed of people more practical than enthusiasts generally are. I would remind the House that there is at the present moment a Committee which is considering the question of national expenditure. I have the honour to be a member of that Committee. Is it conceivable that at a moment when we are spending £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 dally, when we have a National Debt of £6,000,000,000, a debt which if the War goes on for another year will amount to £8,000,000,000, I ask, Is it conceivable that we are going to inflict upon the taxpayer or ratepayer of this country an unknown expenditure? The right hon. Gentleman says it will cost in round figures £9,000,000.
Sir F. BAN BURY
Well, I am going to suggest £10,000,000. Suppose, for the sake of argument, the expenditure is fixed at £10,000,000. a year, what would Mr. 432 Gladstone have said if, during the Crimean War, an increased expenditure on education of £10,000,000 had been proposed.? He would, I think, in a most powerful speech have emphasised the absurdity of bringing in a Bill which would add to the enormous expenditure going on at a moment when we ought to husband our resources.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I know, and, if I may say so without offence to the hon. Member, that is a very fallacious argument. Where are you going to stop if everybody who wants to spend a little money—£7,000,000, for instance—says, "It is only one day's cost of the War"? Remember there are 660 Members of this House, and if each one wants to spend £7,000,000, and you multiply that amount by 660 it comes out at an enormous total. The right hon. Gentleman will excuse me if I say I do not quite agree with all his conclusions. He states it is very necessary that, in the future, we should do everything we can to obtain the ablest race of men to carry on the nation. But does education give you the very ablest race of men? I have spent a great many years of my life in the City, and my experience has been that the man who took a First at Oxford, if he comes into the City, generally comes out last, while the man who can hardly write his name very often comes out on top. That is a fact which cannot be gainsaid. The explanation is that you cannot, by education, put into a man that instinct of self-preservation or that common sense which is at the bottom of success in business. Now we come to the agricultural labourer. He is a person of very great importance at the moment, and will continue to be so alter the War. Suppose he is taken at the age of fourteen and sent compulsorily until he is eighteen to a continuation school. There is a Clause in the Bill which says that the local authorities may decree that within two hours of his leaving school he is not to be employed on any work. We will presume it is a fine afternoon either in July or September. It is very necessary that the hay crop or the corn crop should be got in. In neither case can you do much in the morning, and it is necessary to wait until the evening, when the dew is off and the crop is dry. But the education authority does not care anything about crops, and they will make this 433 decree. I see the right hon. Gentleman dissents. I know what he means; he means that this particular authority will be endowed with common sense. But will it? I am extremely doubtful on that point. Experience has proved that when a little power is given to a local authority it is keen to exercise it, and it does not always exercise it with common sense. The right hon. Gentleman would, but then he is not the person who will be charged with the administration of all these small matters. I believe that it will be found that all the boys—though they are more than boys now, because, after all, it must be remembered that we have given the vote to a boy of nineteen, and therefore a boy of seventeen or eighteen can hardly be called a child—who are most useful in getting in either the hay harvest or corn harvest will be stopped work two hours before they ought to stop work because they have to go to school. My hon. Friend (Mr. Peto) reminds me that the Board of Education is the sole judge as to whether or not a rule of this sort should be made.
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman a further question. We will admit for the sake of argument that education has all the advantages which he says it has. How is it going to assist a man who has to spread manure on a field? Take the right hon. Gentleman himself, if he will allow me to do so. Supposing that his career in life, after he achieved the honours which he has achieved at Oxford, had been to spread manure on a field, how would he have done it better because he had achieved those honours at Oxford? "Here am I," he would have said, "a man who has excelled in the company of people who were capable people, and whom it was an honour to excel—here am I, and all my future in life is to go into a yard in which the cattle have been in winter, to load a cart with dung, to take it to a field, to turn it out of the cart, and to spread it on the field." What advantage would all his knowledge have been None at all. It would have made him discontented with his life, and would have rendered him less efficient—if he could possibly have been inefficient—as a manure spreader. I had the honour of listening to the right hon. Gentleman in a committee-room upstairs, and put a question to him founded on my personal experience, and pointed out to him that the best man I knew in a certain place was a farm labourer who could neither. 434 read nor write and who was worth all the men who had been at the board school. I would sooner give him double what I give the men who had been at the board school. The hon. Gentleman who spoke said something about the appointed day, and this is another objection I have to the Bill. The Bill is apparently to come into force not on a day decreed by Parliament but on a day decreed by the Board of Education. Part of the Bill is to come into force at one time, and parts of the Bill are to come into force at other times. I object very strongly to giving these powers to a Department. The House of Commons ought to say when the Bill is to come into force. It ought not to be left to a Department to say whether certain people are to send their children to school up to the age of eighteen or not. I do not like the idea of making Departments dictators. It is against all the principles that have governed this country up to the present time. We are going back to the days of Charles I, and Cromwell, when there were dictators, and they did not do very well. At any rate, the successor to Cromwell did not do very well; possibly he himself did well, but he was an exception. The tendency is growing to put into the hands of Departments the power practically of life and death over the subjects of the Realm. It is quite a wrong thing, and I hope that if the Bill goes further the right hon. Gentleman will see that that Clause is amended.
The right hon. Gentleman dealt with the statement of my hon. Friend behind me, that this Bill would do away with the responsibility of parents, and, with the great power and eloquence that he has, he made, on the face of it, a very good case. But I do not think that it will stand examination. Take the rich man, to whom he alluded. He said, as far as I remember, that the rich man sent his son to Winchester, Eton, Harrow, or any other school, that he exercised responsibility in that way, and that, therefore, the same applied to the poorer man. But let me point out that the poorer man has no responsibility. It is done for him. It is not left to him to say whether his child should go to these continuation schools. It is left to the right hon. Gentleman, who relieves him of the responsibility, and orders him to do what he may not think it wise for his son to do. There are many divergencies of opinion, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will 435 admit, among members of the richer classes. There are some who think it is good to send, your son to a public school and university. There are others who think that if he is to go into business he had better not go into a university. There is a difference of opinion, and they exercise what they think to be the right course. But the right hon. Gentleman does not leave it to the poorer man to exercise that opinion. He says, "You are not fit to exercise that opinion, and I will do it for you." The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but that is the effect of the Bill, and, therefore, I venture to say that the right hon. Gentleman was wrong when he said that the question about responsibility had no foundation n fact. After the War we shall be faced with very difficult problems. We shall have to compete with all foreign countries. They will all be in a poor condition and they will all be desirous of reconstructing the losses which have occurred during these four dreadful years. Do not we want to give all our energies and do not we want everyone as soon as he is fit to do a day's work to go and do a day's work and not to waste time on any book-learning which will be of no use to him f any sort or kind when he comes to man's estate? If he is going to be a professor or a writer it is a different matter, but if he has to do ordinary work as a labourer, a mechanic, or a man of business, I venture to say that all that education is so much thrown away. I do not know whether there are many people in the House who will hold that view. I do not think there are; but there are a great many in the country who do, and amongst them are members of tin working classes. It is by no manner of means unlikely, so far as I know as a magistrate — and I have some experience on that point—that the working classes think that when their children come to thirteen years of age they should be taken from school. They want them at home to assist, but the right hon. Gentleman says that up to eighteen something of this sort has to be done.
I do not want to go into the details of the Bill beyond saying that I would ask how it is that in Clause 13 there is an Amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act, 1904, so far as it relates to England and Wales. It says that that Act shall be amended so that in paragraph (b) of Section 2, which restricts the employment of boys under the age of fourteen 436 and of girls under the age of sixteen years for the purpose of singing, playing, or performing, or being exhibited for profit, or offering anything for sale between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., "8 p.m." shall be substituted for "9 p.m." so far as relates to children under the age of fourteen years.
What has that got to do with education? This is an Amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act, 1904. It may be a good Amendment, but surely it ought not to be introduced in an Education Bill, with which, so far as I can see, it has nothing to do. The title of the Bill is to "Make further provision with respect to Education in England and Wales, and for purposes connected therewith." I venture to submit, Mr. Speaker, that these lines in the Bill must have something to do with education in England and Wales. I cannot see the relation of an Amendment to the Education Bill which deals with an Amendment to the Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and whether or not they shall "sing, play, or perform," etc. I think the Amendment has nothing to do with education, or "for purposes connected therewith." It might be held that Clause 13 of the Employment of Children Act, 1903, which is also amended, is in order, because it says that children" shall not be employed on any day on which they are required to attend school." Therefore, that is for the purpose of education. There is nothing whatever about education in the other paragraph, and I submit that the Clause goes beyond the scope of the Bill. Clause 14 is something of the same sort. It says thatNo child within the meaning of this Act shall be employed in any factory, or workshop, to which the Factory and Workshops Act, 1901 to 1911, apply, or the Coal Mines Act of 1911, or the Metalliferous Mines Act of 1872 and 1875.Here we have four Acts, none of which have anything to do with education, being repealed and amended in a Bill which is for the purpose of education in England and Wales, and "for purposes connected therewith." I ask you, therefore, Sir, whether that is a point which has any validity?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I understand that the answer to the right hon. Gentleman is that it will give the children more time to sleep before they get instruction. I am sure 437 the right hon. Gentleman will say it is imposing one form of cruelty instead of another.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I bow to your ruling, Sir, but I do not see anything about sleep in this particular provision. I would point out that in the further Clause there is justification, for it says: "in order that they may attend school." I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, to put the paragraph in order, that he should insert words, "in order to give these children a better right to sleep," and that possibly might make the paragraph a little intelligible to the lay mind. There is one other point, as to giving power to the Board of Education to purchase land compulsorily without appealing to any tribunal. So far as I remember the Clause, if any authority desires to purchase land compulsorily, all it has got to do is to appeal to the Board of Education, who will give it power to do so. Surely that is a very strong provision and the old formalities should be complied with and, at any rate, a Provisional Order obtained. Are we to understand that in future Departments may do what they like with the property of the people of this country? Because that is what it really comes to. Clause 30 enables the local education authority to purchase land compulsorily by means of an Order submitted and approved by the Board of Education. Even if the Board of Education has all the attributes that the right hon. Gentleman thinks it has, and even if education has all the powers that he thinks it has, that is no reason why the Board should have power over the property of people in this country undisputed and with no appeal. If the Bill goes to Committee, I hope that in this matter the right hon. Gentleman will bring it more into conformity with the ancient usages of this House.
§ Sir WILLIAM BARTON
The right hon. Gentleman is a recognised authority in this House and a man of the very highest experience on constitutional practice, and I do not intend to follow him on that point. His complaint seemed to be that this Parliament was moribund and was not the right body to deal with an Education Bill, but the substance of his speech appeared to me to point to the fact that no time was the right time to deal with an Education Bill, and in point of fact his speech amounted to this, that the right thing for Parliament to do would 438 be to abolish education altogether. That, I venture to say, is not the sentiment of the country at the present time. I believe that the Minister of Education has behind him such a mass of public feeling such as has never backed any Minister at any time in connection with any Bill that I have known to come before this House. The right hon. Baronet said that the Bill has nothing to do with the War. Directly probably not, but I venture to think that the right relations between accumulated capital and the labour which from day to day maintains and fructifies that capital will never be truly attained until you have a general diffusion of education. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board, in framing and bringing his Bill before the House, appears to me at any rate, and I venture to think to vast numbers of the population, to have fully realised that fact, and to regard education as a great end in itself and as equipping a man for fuller and better life, and for that life which we all hope will come to this nation when we have passed through the dreadful crisis which confronts us at the present time. I should not, I think, have spoken at all on this occasion were it not for some observations which fell from the hon. and learned Member for St. Pancras, in which he spoke of the gentle breezes from the South, but feared that the President of the Board would experience some adverse winds which it was supposed were coming from the North. There are no stronger supporters of education than are to be found in the North. I started life in the extreme North, and I passed the greater part of my life in Lancashire, and a good deal of my work now is in London. What I found was that in the North education is a passion, and in the Midlands partly a passion and partly a duty, and in the South solely a duty. I have no fear of the North in this connection.
Then it was suggested that my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley in his observations was expressing the mind of Lancashire. My hon. Friend occupies, as most of us in this House know, a most honourable and distinguished position in connection, with the educational reform of Lancashire, and we all gratefully recognise his splendid labours in that connection, but he did not claim to-day to be speaking the voice of Lancashire, because he and I well know that that voice has not yet clearly declared itself. 439 I think we are to blame for that, because there has been no Bill before this House in connection with which so many facilities have been given to all classes of the community to express themselves, and to take counsel with the promoters of the Bill, and, consequently, those of us who have not fully availed ourselves of those opportunities have something to blame ourselves for But I am going to plead for a moment with the President of the Board of Education not to be too severe with us because of any lapses of that kind. We are confronted with some difficulties in connection with the Bill. It is a time when most of us have multifarious duties which in ordinary times do not come to us, and, although the President has given us many opportunities, we perhaps did not quite fully realise the need for our forming and presenting our opinions at the proper time and in the proper way. Let us not forget that the big thing in this Bill, which seems to me to have general agreement, is that from the passing of this Bill every child in the country up to fourteen years of age is to have free compulsory education. To me it is a remarkable thing that the whole House should fully and frankly accept that. I believe that Labour throughout the country accepts it. In bygone Bills there has always been the suggestion that capital, that employers of labour, were jealous of education, and I think there has been some ground for that plea. I think my right hon. Friend rather betrayed that feeling in his speech to-night, but I do not believe for a moment that capital in this country to-day is at all jealous of this step at the present time. I believe, on the contrary, that this Bill has a great mass of good will behind it.
Undoubtedly some of the textile industries are in a different position from most of the other parts of the country in connection with continued education in the period between fourteen and eighteen years of age. Undoubtedly in textile industries there are more young people from sixteen to eighteen years of age employed—and employed at big wages, and on entirely necessary parts of the operations—than is common in other spheres of industry, and both labour and employers are confronted with a serious difficulty in this connection.
I do not think there is any serious grudging of the number of hours to be given to education after fourteen years of age, 440 but there is a strong feeling, which I admit is not yet clearly focussed and expressed—and I am not prepared at this moment to say when it will be clearly focussed and expressed—which shows-that there is also a strong opinion amongst these same classes behind the Bill as it stands. But there is this strong body of opinion which will express itself in Amendments. I want the President to know this, that there is no desire to whittle down the measure, but there is a desire to bring education and industry into the position that one shall be the handmaiden of the other. We do hope it will be recognised that we shall bring forward these Amendments in an atmosphere of good will, and that it will be realised that we are as sincerely anxious-for the passage of this Bill, in its fullest and best form, as any other body of opinion in the House.
§ Mr. Anderson
The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London said that he was not in favour of a revolution in education at the present time. I should be more impressed with that observation and with that argument if I believed that the right hon. Baronet -would be in favour of a revolution in education at any time. He told us that, to his great sorrow, this House had recently passed a Franchise Bill. It will add to his sorrow to know that he wears his sorrow practically alone in regard to that passing of the Franchise Bill. I think, in regard to education, that the logic of the hon. Baronet's position is that there ought to be no education in this country at all.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I will prove he did say that, in effect. He argued, with great force, that he did not think education was any good for a man in the City; and he argued, with even greater force, that he did not think education was any good for the man who spread manure in the fields.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I said that a man who got a First-class at Oxford or Cambridge, and who went into the City, was generally not successful; whereas a man who had had very little education often had been successful. I did not mean the question of reading or writing, or anything of that kind.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
Education is something more than reading and writing. If the hon. Baronet's view of education is that it means reading and writing, then he is even more belated than I had imagined. But I would point out that the qualities that may make for success in the City are not necessarily the last word in human evolution or in the outlook of the human mind. When the right hon. Baronet argued against the fact that the President of the Board of Education was not going to give a proper chance to poorer men to decide what they are going to do, I would ask the President of the Board of Education whether resolutions, which have come from working people all over the country, have been in the direction of protests against an improvement in education or, rather, have not been wholly and unreservedly in favour of this Bill, and, indeed, of something even stronger than the proposals which the Bill brings forward? I say, from my own knowledge and experience, that the postponement of this measure last Session caused intense disappointment in many working-class areas.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I am not arguing about that. I am saying the fact is that the Bill had to be postponed, and that there were many manifestations of disappointment at its postponement. I am convinced that since that time opinion has grown steadily in favour of it. I am convinced that the President of the Board of Education has a clear mandate in regard to the opinion of the country, and that there is a general feeling that there never was a better opportunity than now to place our educational system on a more satisfactory basis; and I am certain that the right hon. Gentleman has everything that is best in the country behind him in trying to push that forward.
In regard to past educational reforms, opposition and trouble has been forthcoming from various quarters. Sometimes opposition has been forthcoming from local authorities; there has been a conflict between the central and the local authority. There was even some risk of that with regard to the first Bill, but modifications have been made which have removed, I think, very largely, if not completely, any sign of opposition from the local authorities themselves. We have sometimes had opposition from 442 the churches but I am very glad that that is not going to be forthcoming in regard to this measure. I am certain that the country is in no mood to see any sectarian wrangling in regard to the children in which the true education of the children is sacrificed to the warring of opposing sects. Organised labour is behind this Bill, indeed it asks for a greater freeing of the system and a freeing of the secondary schools as well. If opposition to this Bill does come it can only come, not from the best employers of labour but from some employers who take the exceedingly narrow view that if you are going to educate people beyond their proper station you will make them discontented and, therefore, it is going to pay to keep people ignorant. I would put it to the right hon. Baronet who talked about the finance of this Bill costing £10,000,000 a year that the price of ignorance may be a great deal more than that sum. The price of ignorance is costing this country infinitely more than that, and any sign of opposition is only forthcoming from organisations like the so-called Federation of British Industries.
§ Sir J. HARMOOD - BANNER
The Federation of British Industries have not expressed any opinion against this Bill.
§ Sir J. HARMOOD-BANNER
That is a Special Committee on Education and not the general body of the Federation.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I am glad that that is the position. I was going to quote from the memorandum, but I will not do so now, and I will content myself with reading an extract which appeared the other day in the Educational Supplement of the "Times" in a leading article dealing with the ordinary dangers which threaten the Bill in this House. This is the extract:The chief danger is and was the secret opposition of a powerful group of employers who are determined to retain child labour for the industries in which they are interested. This Bill holds that the Bill in a modified form can be used to make child labour more efficient from the point of view of a certain class of manufacturers. To that extent they are prepared to support the Bill, to allow the Second Reading to take place unopposed, and to deal with the measure in Committee by the simple process of pouring in Amendments on every line. We presume that Mr. Fisher is fully aware of the nature of this opposition, and is taking the necessary measures to protect his Bill. If the Bill is referred to Grand Committee, no doubt less time will be taken; but it is possible that 443 in Committee of the whole House, with its greater publicity, it will be more difficult for the reactionaries to carry out their purpose.That is what appeared in. the "Times."
§ Mr. ANDERSON
Then you will have to deal with Lord Northcliffe for that. Let me deal with one or two points in this Bill. There is the question of raising the school age, which is common ground among all who believe that there should be a betterment in the educational system. There is the proposal to lessen the volume of child labour and to make a beginning with continued education. There is, generally, the proposal to raise the minimum and to secure greater efficiency in the educational system. I want to impress upon Members who think that this is not the time to bring forward an educational change of this character the fact that to-day the whole world, and not least our own country, is in the melting-pot, and everybody knows that undoubtedly at the end of the War a great reconstruction will have to take place. I believe that it will be a, mistake to put off all questions until that time comes. Some of them can be dealt with now. If you postpone them all until the end of the War, you will accumulate too much, and you will have the country in a state of chaos. Therefore, I am very glad personally that a great question like that of franchise reform has been dealt with and got out of the way, and I am quite sure that it would be an excellent thing if we could in the same way agree upon an educational measure that will take us forward. The one thing essential in any improvement of the educational system is to have more regard than we have had to the status and the honour of teachers. Many teachers have not been honoured as they ought to have been. They have not been paid as they ought to have been paid, and the profession has not attracted the best quality of men and i women to anything like the extent that it ought to have done. I am quite sure that has got to be remedied. The whole question of training, of salaries, and of pensions, will have to be examined. This Bill, at any rate, does recognise that education is a social problem, and, like all social problems, is interdependent with other social problems. You are not going 444 to make the best of education if children live under adverse physical conditions-and in the moral atmosphere of slums and of poverty. I desire every child to have a fair opportunity, and I am quite sure that education is going to play a great part in that regard. I do not want that chance to be given to the child in order that it may escape from its class or get the better of other people, but in order that it may become a better citizen and be able to give greater service to the community. If we are going to have an educated democracy and if democracy is going to play a great part in making the laws of this land, then a measure like this one is an essential step in the right direction. Any improvement that may be practicable can be dealt with in Committee, and I hope that there will be no undue delay in pressing the Bill forward. The President of the Board of Education is to be congratulated upon having had the courage to introduce a measure upon these lines.
§ Sir J. HARMOOD-BANNER
I should like to add only a few words to the Debate, which has been most instructive and useful. I was very glad I was here to correct the impression of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Anderson), who seemed rather to want to lay it down that employers would try to defeat the Bill.
§ Sir J. HARMOOD-BANNER
In every case in which I have been present at discussions on the Bill 1 have heard praise and general support of it. For instance, the Council of Municipal Associations, a very large body which has had this matter under consideration, write to me that, though, no doubt, alterations were necessary in the first Bill—alterations which have now been granted" the whole of the municipalities of this country heartily appreciate the present position and desire to give every support they possibly can to the Bill. As regards the Federation of Employers, it was a little unfair that they were taken up as regards the document which was prepared, I am not certain whether it was not at the request of the Minister of Education, who asked them to ascertain what were the views of the general employers of the country in regard to this Bill. The document was prepared by that committee: It was a very useful document and reply as regards the feelings of the committee, but when it came up 445 for general consideration the first point that was raised by the Parliamentary Committee, and then by the Executive body of the Federation, was the suggestion of the Education Committee bringing in the principle of selection. We are quite certain that, with selection, we shall not work hand in hand with our friends the labour men, and the employers of this country on this particular point desire to work, as regards education, hand in hand with labour. They feel, very properly, it is quite possible that the dull boy may become an intellectual man, and it is also quite possible that the sharp boy may turn out an utter failure in after life. Therefore this question, comes very prominently to the front. A parent is naturally proud of his offspring. The ugly duckling may become a beautiful swan, and it is quite on the cards that the one who looks most disappointing may turn out to be the most effectual in the after battle of life. When the matter came up for the general consideration of the employers, they said they quite appreciated that all parents were proud of their children and would not have any selection made as regards their children. At any rate, a sufficient majority of the Federation took that view, so this report of the Special Committee on Education was not accepted, and the principle was stated that they left it an open question, that there were many ways of dealing with this measure that would not interfere with the principle of selection, and that they would be very glad to act with their Labour friends.
There was only one point in the speech of the President of the Board of Education with which I was a little disappointed. I appreciated and enjoyed the splendid vision of the future he gave us as regards educated men throughout the country, but he seemed to miss the point that if you take out part of an instrument to clean and beautify it, you stop for the time being the efficacy and efficiency of that instrument. Whilst he gave us his splendid vision of educated colliers, cotton spinners, and men of every grade of life, he did not tell us how we were to accommodate ourselves during the period that they were to arise. There are two points that require looking at. In the first place, I was present on a deputation from the coal trade. We were all very full of the fact that we supported this Bill and were determined in every 446 way to do what we could to help the right hon. Gentleman; but we pointed out that the Bill as it stands, unless some alterations were made in it, would absolutely stop the coal trade of this country, because it would take out of the mines during the greater part of the period when coal was being worked the boys who are necessary for the work in the mines. The boys cannot be taken out while haulage ropes are going on, and you cannot stop the pit in the midst of its working. The only thing possible would be that the boys should not work for that day. But where are you going to get boys to fill up the vacuum? It is as necessary to consider this point as to consider any other matter connected with the Bill. Very few Amendments would be necessary to enable this work to be done, but I am disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman did not hint that he was ready to adopt any measures which would assist the efficiency of trade at the present moment. For instance, he did not say that he would take any steps to prevent the whole coal trade of the country being stepped.
§ Sir J. HARMOOD-BANNER
I am in, favour of such amendment to the Bill as will enable us both to have the education and not stop it, but I blame the Minister foe Education that he did not suggest that he was ready to receive anything of the sort. It is the same as regards the textile trade. I happen to have heard a great many statements that the textile trade will be similarly affected. The piston will be taken out of the engine and the engine would not be able to go. It is possible that the piston when returned may be a more magnificent piston, able to do more work, but in the meantime the country will be deprived of that necessary work for the continuance of the War. I would ask the right, hon. Gentleman to give us some hope that in dealing with Amendments he will accept Amendments which will so improve the Bill as to enable the country's work to proceed. I am sure it is quite possible, but to look at things in a visionary spirit will not bring that result about. I am thoroughly in favour of the Bill and of doing anything possible to carry it out, and I am sure it is possible to meet us, but I should like the right hon. Gentleman 447 to tell us what he will consider the interests of trade and will not ignore them, and that he will accept such suggestions as will enable us to carry out his ideas and his splendid visions, and at the same time will not interfere with the industry of the country.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I have not the slightest desire—quite the contrary—to delay by a single day or a single hour the passing of this Bill. I regard it as one of the most important Bills that has ever been introduced into this or any other Parliament, and, if it is the desire of my right hon. Friend to get the Second Reading to-night, for my part I shall very gladly assent to it. But if I do assent to the Second Beading to-night—
§ Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and agreed to.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.