§ National System of Public Education.
§ With a view to the establishment of a national system of public education available for all persons capable of profiting thereby, it shall be the duty of the council of every county and county borough, so far as their powers extend, to contribute thereto by providing for the progressive development and comprehensive organisation of education in respect of their area, and with that object any such council from time to time may, and shall when required by the Board of Education, submit to the Board schemes showing the mode in which their duties and powers under the Education Acts are to be performed and exercised, whether separately or in co-operation with other authorities.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The first Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for North Somerset [to leave out the words "National System of "] is not in order. The words in italics are only the heading of the Clause and are not part of the Bill. The second Amendment is in order.
§ Mr. KING
I beg to move to leave out the words "With a view to the establishment of a national system of public education available for all persons capable of profiting thereby."
This Bill marks quite a new stage in the history of draftsmanship. Those who have studied the language and methods of Acts of Parliament will be aware that there is a certain amount of verbiage on various points in this Bill of which we ought to have some explanation. The words which I propose to leave out are really in the form of a preamble, and I doubt whether if we leave out the whole of the words it would alter the effect of the Clause in any particular. What are they here for? Are they here for rhetoric? If so, rhetoric ought to be kept out of Acts of Parliament. There may be more or less rhetoric in these times. Certainly there is one kind of rhetoric we all appreciate, and that is the speeches, in the country of the Minister for Education. We all recognise how very much those speeches have helped in the framing of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman's rhetoric ought to be kept for the country and ought not to flow over Acts 1996 of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman has got a great, exuberance of it. I do not think these words are in for rhetoric. I believe the object is to give some sort of direction to the judges. Supposing a case were to arise in the Courts which would raise the question—how far a scheme ought to go or what should be the general object of a scheme? If the words are in the Bill for that purpose, I object to them, because they are vague and indefinite. There are so many points of grave importance in the Bill that I will not do more than move the Amendment, and ask the right hon. Gentleman for an explanation of the rhetoric or the vague explanatory part of the Clause. He is evidently not very satisfied with these flourishes of a legal or rhetorical character because in the second Clause he alters the preamble or preliminary verbiage. Have the words any legal operative effect, and, if not, what is the object of inserting them?
§ The PRESIDENT Of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Herbert Fisher)
My hon. Friend (Mr. King) is right in pointing out that the words to which he takes exception have no operative effect in the legal sense of that term. The object is to give administrative directions with regard to the policy intended to be carried out by the public bodies administering our education laws all over the country, and I submit that it is not undesirable in these circumstances that some general words expressing the ideal and purpose of the legislation that they may be called upon to administer should be inserted in the form of the measure. That is the sole purpose for which these words are inserted. It is not a matter of first importance and if the sense of the Committee supports my hon. Friend in desiring the elimination of the words I would part with them, but I would part with them reluctantly. I hope my hon. Friend will see his way to relax his frown on this occasion. With respect to the point raised by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lough), we are desirous that in framing schemes for the education of their respective areas the local education authorities should have regard to the desirability of providing different types of education 1997 suitable to the needs of the children who are capable of profiting by those classes of education. My right hon. Friend must have realised the extent to which education is being differentiated in this country. At present we provide a great number of types of education for different types of children, and we wish to direct the attention of the local education authorities to the desirability of making such various provision for the varied types of children.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
The President has made such a persuasive speech that no one will desire him to accept this Amendment in its fullness. I rise for the purpose of suggesting a compromise which he could accept without losing anything valuable in the Bill. The really offensive words in the rhetorical introduction are "capable of profiting thereby." You are referring to the establishment of a national system of education open to all persons, and it should be left at that. The words "capable of profiting thereby" may have a most limiting and cramping influence upon the work of the education authorities, and might well come out. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accede to that request.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I hope that my right hon. Friend will adhere to the position he has taken up on this question and will not delete the words "national system of education." It seems to me of the greatest possible importance that in the very forefront of this Bill it should be made clear that it is a Bill not for elementary education or secondary education only, but that it is a national system of education which he is about to found.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I should like to know the effect which the passing of these words may have upon some of the Amendments. Am I right in assuming that if we pass these words as they stand it would influence the judgment of the Chairman in regard to some of the other Amendments, and whether he would rule that, having passed the initial words of the Clause in these terms, some of the Amendments are contrary to some of the wording in the Clause?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think that that would be so. I cannot conceive any Amendment being shut out by passing these words. These words are of a declaratory nature.
§ Mr. KING
I regret that I cannot withdraw my Amendment. My point has not been met, as it might have been by some such words as those suggested by my hon. Friend (Mr. Whitehouse). This is not, as the hon. Member for Oxford City (Mr. J. A. Marriott) has just said, a national system of education. Where does Oxford University come in? It cannot come in at all. He knows perfectly well that we are only touching certain points of education. It is not intended to affect our university system of education, which is part of our life. The point is, Is this going to be a national system of education? I do not think so. I think that it is going to establish a number of schemes of different kinds in different parts of the country, which are going to do a great deal of good, but a national system is not going to be evolved out of it, and that everyone who is capable of profiting by education is going to benefit by it I very much doubt. I am capable of profiting by education, but I am not going to benefit by it, and, knowing what I do of bodies like the Board of Education, I do not think that all persons capable of profiting by education are going to get a chance under this Bill.
§ Mr. PETO
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not accept the Amendment. Those words, "capable of profiting thereby," are most admirable words. My principal quarrel with the latter parts of this Bill is that they do not carry out that principle of giving opportunities for higher education to those children who are capable of profiting by that higher education; but I am delighted to see that that is the intention of the right hon. Gentleman, however much he may have fallen away from it in the latter parts of the Bill. I trust that he will keep the words for what they are worth, and as a demonstration of the fact that he did set out with the idea of providing suitable educational facilities for selected children, and not with the idea of having a uniform standard for all children whose heads will all be crammed with the same sort of knowledge, whether they are adapted for it or not, while in many instances it would have been better to train their hands, which could have been done if so much time had not been occupied in following this other system.
§ Mr. ALDEN
When this Bill was first drafted undoubtedly it had a more comprehensive form and was more ambitious 1999 in its nature. I think that these words fairly represent the ideal of the President of the Board of Education and the ideal of the House of Commons, and might be allowed to stand. I hope that the President will see his way before very long to introduce another Bill, because there is very much left to be done after this Bill is passed into law. The Amendment of my hon. Friend is rather in the nature of a quibble. We want to get to business without delay, and I would suggest that he should withdraw it.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I cannot agree with the hon. Member in describing this scheme as national while we leave out the class whom we represent, and omit the House of Commons and the children of the rich. Such a system is a travesty upon a genuine system of national education. We drag the word "national" into every conceivable piece of legislation at the present time. We think that if we call a thing national we shall get all kinds of people to support it. This is not a national scheme, because it does not include the children of the rich. It is rather a scheme for training children to become useful producers of wealth than a scheme for producing a national improvement in the real education of the people of the country. Therefore, if my hon. Friend goes to a Division, I will support him in the Lobby against the insertion of a misnomer in the Title of the Bill.
§ Mr. FISHER
I must appeal to the Committee to pass from this subject now. These words have no very important effect, and if I am pressed to omit them I am quite ready to do so. I was somewhat surprised at my hon. and gallant Friend's references to the word "national" He might as well object to the title "National Gallery" because the gallery does not contain all the pictures of the country, or to the title "Dictionary of National Biography" because as yet that dictionary does not contain his own name. If this line were to be followed I do not know where it would end. It never occurred to me to attach any weighty sense to these words when the Bill was being drafted, but I should have thought that it was a national purpose to establish the system now proposed, by which administrative bodies would consider the requirements of the children in the respective areas of the country and 2000 provide proper education for them. I trust, therefore, that my hon. Friend will think over the subject again, and see his way to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I beg to move to leave out the words "capable of profiting thereby."
This is a point of substance, whereas we were dealing on the general Amendment with a phrase which was probably not vital. These words would probably tend to set up some kind of class judgment as to the kind of education which is suitable for certain ranks of society. I think that education should be left free from those words, and I hope the Government will leave them out as being of a narrowing character.
§ Mr. LOUGH
After the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education, I think the words which it is proposed to omit are valuable, and that their meaning has been clearly explained to us. I agree with my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Peto) that the words should be left in.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I hope the President of the Board of Education, will consider this Amendment, and I think that the intention of the right hon. Gentleman would be met if he stopped at the word "persons"—"a national system of education available for all persons." That must have some relation to the capacity of the persons for whom the measure is available, and we do not need the words "capable of profiting thereby." There are two objections. First of all, at certain points in elementary education, somebody or other, either the local authority or the school committee, or somebody in charge, will say that John Smith ought to go to the carpenter's bench and that Thomas Brown ought to go to the university. In the due course of experience differentiation will have to take place, but that ought not to be part and parcel of what is taken to be the ideal scheme that my right hon. Friend is proposing in this Bill. That is the first objection. The second objection is that the scheme also suggests the regional idea of education—that a child born in a seaport town should become a sailor boy, or, if born in an agricultural village, should be surrounded straight away, and from the beginning, with an agricultural education only. I am in favour of those 2001 influences being brought to bear, but there is a difference between that and dealing with them from the educational point of view—that is to say, that this block of country must produce agriculturists, and that block sailors, and so on. These are both very objectionable ideas, and we want one broad and liberal conception of a national system of education, differentiated undoubtedly, especially in the higher branches, and, with that view, I think that the Amendment proposed should be accepted.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
The hon. Member who has just sat down seems to have read into these words a meaning which the President of the Board of Education never could have intended. I do not think they would have occurred to any other Member of the House except himself. It seems to me that these words in the Clause are necessary and important, having regard to the fact that it may be of no use to give higher education to children who are "incapable of profiting thereby," for it is quite certain that in the course of the education of children from the nursery school to the kindergarten, and up to the secondary stage, it will be found that many of these children will not be capable of taking advantage of the university education which will be given under this Bill. It seems to me that the words proposed to be left out are extremely necessary in order to amplify and explain the real meaning of this measure, and I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not at this stage accept the Amendment proposed.
§ Mr. RENDALL
I am quite certain that both the hon. Member opposite and the hon. Member for Leicester are anxious to have this Bill, and I submit that at this early stage of the measure we should at least try to make progress. The hon. Member for Leicester has read into the words various meanings, and that could be done with regard to almost any form of words if they are studied long enough. I do not think that the meanings which he has put upon them are at all simple meanings, nor at all the meaning which the words convey. I submit that if we start thus early with verbal Amendments we shall be grasping at the shadow and not at the substance, and if we proceed in this way we will get the shadow, and not the substance.
§ Mr. BOOTH
We cannot disguise from, ourselves that many of these education authorities are ruled by employers of labour, and there is no doubt that the hon. Member, from this point of view, has made an effective intervention in this, Debate. I am very sorry to find that one or two hon. Members are already beginning to bring forward ideas which, in my opinion, are going to do harm. That is not the way to get a Bill through; in fact, it is a real danger. The main point is as that some education authorities may treat these words lightly, and I am quite certain that they are a very dangerous loophole. Some parts of the Bill which we shall have to consider later may be made non-effective if words like this are strewn about the measure. I do not take the same standards as the hon. Member for Leicester; but I say quite candidly that there is substance in this point which has been raised.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. FISHER
I agree with what has been said by the hon. Member for Leicester and by the hon. Member for Pontefract, but I think that the proposal to stop at the word "persons" is really rather too hard. We are not constructing a scheme of national education available for persons between the ages of seventy and ninety-five, and we must have some limiting words. I do not think that those which have been introduced ought to arouse any apprehension, and I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract that the Board of Education will take very good care that ample opportunities are afforded for higher education. In fact, I think, the effect of these words upon the minds of Members will be to enlarge, and not to contract their sense of responsibility. I really feel that my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester will be well advised to allow these words to stand part of the Bill. I cannot say more, that is my opinion
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Does my right hon. Friend really understand that the opposition to this Bill comes from one feature, and one feature only, and that is the fear of this vocational education. These words are the first hint of the 2003 vocational training of the children of the working classes, and we had better have the question debated frankly and fully, at the earliest possible moment. I do not think that this Amendment is the best opportunity for dealing with this problem of vocational training, but it ought to be recognised that the Radicals in this House are against such a proposal, whether the standard of vocational training is to be set by any local authority, or any manufacturers, or any special ad hoc Committee set up to deal with what the children of the industrial classes have got to learn. I think that these words might almost be allowed to stand over until we have a more suitable opportunity. It is well to know that it is on this question that the Bill is going to stand or fall—if you drop it you will get the Bill through, if you keep it you cannot get the Bill through.
§ Mr. ROBERTSON
The words proposed to be dropped out of the Bill are really an expression of the very ideals put forward by educationists on behalf of the working classes themselves. They always used these very words when the question of the educational ladder to the universities has been raised. The representatives of the workers, such as the Workers' Educational Association — I think that is the name of it—have always used expressions of this very kind, that there should be an educational ladder for all who are capable. If you do not put those words in you will be committed to an ideal which even the representatives of the workers have never put forward, namely, the sending of everyone to the universities. That may come some day, though, I suppose, none of us will live to see the day. Seeing that the words in the Bill are the very words which have been chosen by the most zealous friends of education for the working classes, we should, I think, be ill-advised in striking them out, and, instead, setting up the opinion that we should have a universal system, which, as my hon. Friends will agree, must include the girls as well as the boys. The idea of an educational ladder for all who can be prepared for it will hardly be realised unless special steps are taken to deal with the girls. If you are going to have a system by which the children of the workers are to be placed in the same position as the most incompetent children of the rich people, and be sent 2004 to the universities, whether they are prepared or not for it, you will want an enormous provision of university education, of both sexes, but, for my own part, I think the words represent the ideals of the best educationists.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I beg to ask leave to withdraw this Amendment at this stage in order that the matter may be raised again, perhaps at a period of the Bill when a fuller education discussion may be possible.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. KING
I beg to move, after the word "area," to insert the wordsincluding the provision of secondary or higher education in free publicly controlled and publicly managed schools available for all persons desirous of such education.I hope the Amendment which I now move will not bring me any lectures from my very kind friends as to the way in which I should bring this forward. If they had honoured me before we came into this Chamber yesterday or a few days ago I would have been happy to consider their suggestions. This is a matter of really vital substance to this Bill, and I hope that the Amendment, if not in these words and in this place, at any rate the object of the Amendment, may be accepted by the right hon. Gentleman. I do not know whether he will accept my words here, but I believe he will be ready to give a definite instruction that these schemes shall include further powers and opportunity for higher or secondary education than we have at present. The schemes, we understand, are to be comprehensive, as his Preamble which we have just passed to this Clause showed. If so, we ought at least to enact in the first Clause of the Bill that the provision of secondary or higher education should be on the same lines, and, relatively speaking, to the same extent, that is to say, the same required extent according to the needs of the people, as elementary education.
The Committee is perfectly and fully aware of the fact that though you could compel a local education authority to provide an elementary school for the needs of the population, there is no power to compel a local education authority to provide a secondary school. The only way in which it could be done is by going to the Board of Education and getting the Board of Education, by a long process of rather indefinite and uncertain nature, to 2005 use power to press the local education authority into providing a secondary school. But in the case of an elementary school it is quite different; the people of a, locality have the power to compel their local education authority to provide sufficient school places for their own children, while they have no power to compel them to provide school places in a secondary school. That is the simple and clear fact which you are up against, and I say to the right hon. Gentleman that he must really face this question. Is he going to allow the provision of secondary schools to be a matter in which the people of a locality may demand as a right? In the case of elementary schools they can be demanded as a right, but secondary schools cannot be so demanded. I want to give the people of a locality this right, apart from the beneficent influences and good intentions of the President of the Board of Education and his inspectors, who may not be there for ever. This Government may go out very shortly. Where will the right hon. Gentleman be then?
§ Mr. KING
Well, I am not a prophet, and I do not want to see him depart, but he must realise that we are all mortal and that the members of this Government are specially mortal at the present time. I really do press this point, because I could give him many illustrations within my own personal knowledge why it is desirable to accept this Amendment. But I restrain myself. I have collected information and have had experience of the matter, but I will content myself by saying to him most emphatically that this is a point of vital substance: Are you going to give the people an opportunity to say "we want secondary or higher elementary education for this locality," and are you going to give them the power to enforce that demand?
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
This Amendment moved by my hon. Friend, which I rise to support, raises a question fundamental to the Bill in regard to the reorganisation of our system of national education. The criticism some of us have to offer upon some of the proposals in the Bill on educational grounds is that they do no go far enough and are almost exclusively concerned either with elementary education or with the education that is supposed to be appropriate 2006 to children who have passed through the elementary school. The criticism we make is that there is no attempt in the Bill to provide, not the ladder that my right hon. Friend on the Front Opposition Bench (Mr. Robertson) referred to, but a broad highway along which all the children of the nation may pass. If the right hon. Gentleman accepts the Amendment which is proposed, it would be a very vital alteration in the scheme of the Bill and in the machinery with which the right hon. Gentleman wishes to realise the educational objects ho has set forth very often and with very great eloquence, because the adoption of this Amendment would mean that the secondary school was to be regarded as the school appropriate, not to a certain social class, but to all who, having passed through the elementary school, have the necessary brains to go on to the more special institutions of learning. The right hon. Gentleman will see that this is a fundamental change in the machinery which is proposed in order to give us a national system of education.
If the Bill remains unamended it will mean that, broadly speaking, the education appropriate is in the nature of the technical or some special form of school which is not a secondary school. We desire to see the elementary school linked on to the secondary school. I was surprised a few minutes ago and interested at the same time in hearing the remarks made by my right hon. Friend on the Front Opposition Bench. He referred, I think not quite accurately, but I am sure his inaccuracy was quite unintentional, to the proposals of the Workers' Educational Association, and he used the words "educational ladder" in that connection. My right hon. Friend will remember that that association repudiates in turn any idea of an educational ladder and appeals for this broad pathway, and we are putting forward an Amendment to the Bill which is urged in the strongest possible terms and unanimously by the Workers' Educational Association which pleads for the provision of free secondary schools, and also for free universities, and for the making of the chain between the elementary school and the secondary school a real and complete chain. It is for these reasons, I hope the Government will accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. FISHER
I need hardly say that, in common with all educationists, I sympathise with the ideals which have been put before the Committee by the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment. It is our earnest hope that one of the principal results of the passing of this measure will be very largely to stimulate the flow of children from our elementary schools into our secondary schools, and I think I shall be able largely to meet the point which my hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Mr. King) has made. At the present moment, as the hon. Member is aware, we have a large number of secondary schools receiving Grants from the Board of Education, and in virtue of a very valuable provision, which we owe to my right hon. Friend the Member for North Monmouth (Mr. McKenna), there is a stipulation attached to the State Grant that a considerable proportion of free places should be provided, and in virtue of that provision a very large number of children do find their way into our secondary schools from our elementary schools; in fact, I believe no less than from 60 to 70 per cent. of the State-aided secondary scholars in this country have received their education in public elementary schools.
§ Mr. FISHER
That is a very great testimony to the value of the provision which we owe to my right hon. Friend. The practical question with which we are faced is this: What is the best way of furthering secondary school education in this country? Would it be on the whole a wise policy to insist that all the fees taken in the secondary schools of this country should be forthwith abolished? That would be a loss of revenue to the State of £1,200,000, and if I were given by a munificent Chancellor of the Exchequer that generous sum to expend for the benefit of the children of the democracy of this country, I should prefer to have it expended in some other way. I would suggest to my hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset that the best means of effecting his purpose is to supply every encouragement to the local education authority to build more secondary schools, to apply for Grants in respect of those schools, and, as a natural consequence, to provide free places in those schools. I believe that that is the course which promises the best results, and that is a course which will give the effect desired 2008 in the provisions of the Bill, because Clause 1 imposes as a duty upon the county borough and the county council the provision of such forms of secondary education in their respective areas as may be regarded as necessary and expedient by the Board of Education. On the other hand, I think it would be possible, and probably desirable, that something more explicit should be placed in the Bill with a view to impressing upon the minds of local education authorities their responsibility in this respect, and, if my hon. Friend would permit, I should be prepared to insert a new Sub-section in. Clause 4, where I think it would be really most appropriate, to the effect that the local education authorities, in preparing schemes, shall, as far as practicable, provide means that children and young persons shall not be debarred by poverty from the benefits of higher education. I think that would meet the point which was raised by my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. KING
I am sorry to say that it does not meet my point at all. First of all, let me thank the right hon. Gentleman for his sympathy. It is very much better to get sympathy than lectures, but he has not met the point on which I made special insistence. The parents have the power to demand sufficient elementary places for every child. They have not the power to demand a place for one child for secondary education. That is my point, and he admits it by silence, but he does not face what follows from it—the fact that we are miserably behind in secondary school places. What is the difference between England and Scotland, for instance? In Scotland they have the power to require and provide secondary school places, with the result that, while in England we have in secondary schools forty-five out of every thousand of the population, in Scotland they have 197. They have more than four times as many children in secondary schools for the population than what we have. Scotland is a poorer country. Its geographical, topographical, and economic conditions make it very difficult to have such, education at all. Why, then, is it that they get it? Because the people and the parents, having the power to demand schools, do demand them, and get them. My point is that you are not giving the people any power whatever under this Bill, but you are giving high place to important persons like the local education authorities and persons of intellectual or 2009 social position co-opted on education committees, giving them great powers to make schemes, and then to come as deputations to the Board of Education, hobnob with the grand people there, discuss the schemes hugger-mugger, and in secret, and get a concession to pass a scheme. But where do the people come in? Where do the parents come in? There is no provision in this Bill at all for them, even to be consulted, and when I say to my right hon. Friend in the most earnest, and, as I think, very cogent way, to give the parents some right to demand secondary places, he refers me to Clause 4. What does Clause 4 do? I will give the short title of it: "Consultation of authorities for the purposes of Part III of the Education Act, 1902." The Education Act of 1902, Part III., is all with reference to elementary education, and when I say give the people power to have the secondary school, the right hon. Gentleman says, "I will put in a few words at the end of Clause 4," which has to do with elementary education. His good intentions are of no value. They are very pleasant, very comforting, but let me remind him where good intentions lead to. I am going to carry out my intentions by deeds. He is going to give me nothing but good intentions, and a few words in a Clause which has nothing to do with secondary education at all. Certainly, if I am the only member who will go into the Lobby in favour of this Amendment, I shall do so. The right hon. Gentleman must give me a little more than he has offered—something more than good intentions.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
It is difficult, without seeing the Amendment foreshadowed by the right hon. Gentleman, to be certain what the actual effect of it will be, but I should like to ask him this. Apparently it will have a far-reaching effect.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Hon. Members below the Gangway say it will not, but I understood the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to say that his Amendment would go a considerable way to meet the suggestions or the desires of the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. The hon. Gentleman says it will not. As I have not seen the Amendment, I cannot express a definite opinion upon it, but it does seem to me that it is possible it will make a far-reaching change in the Bill. I would 2010 like to ask what this new Amendment is, because the last statement we had from the right hon. Gentleman with regard to cost was that it would be about £9,700,000, and that only related to a portion of the Bill. Now if there is to be a considerable enlargement of secondary education, and as I understand it is to be given free to people who cannot afford to pay for it, it stands to reason there will be a very considerable addition to the cost. I think the Committee, in view of the enormous sums that are being spent, certainly should not commit themselves to any extension of the Bill, at any rate at the present moment, which will lead to a great increase in the cost.
§ Major EDWARD WOOD
I have considerable sympathy with my right hon. Friend who has just spoken, in that neither of the hon. Members who have pressed for this Amendment has given the Committee any information as to what their scheme, if developed, would cost, but to that I will return in one moment. I am one of those Members who always regards the hon. Member for North Somerset, as he described himself, as one of the most cogent orators in this House, and, I have no doubt, in a further speech he will refer to it as even more cogent than the one which preceded it. I thought he rather strained his case too far. He is vexed with my right hon. Friend in charge of the Bill, because he has declined to meet him on what, to him, is the most important point, namely, that of giving to the people the power to ask for and obtain secondary schools and secondary education. Now I cannot help thinking that my hon. Friend is really putting rather an exaggerated ease to the Committee. Is it not the fact that ratepayers or parents, if they are very keen on secondary educataion, can bring pressure to bear now on their elected representatives, and, through their elected representatives, on the Education Committee, and, if they are determined to get it, will get secondary education, just as they can bring pressure to bear on anything else? Therefore, I am not disposed to support the hon. Member for North Somerset on that ground. The fact is—and I think we might as well be frank about it—at the present moment, whatever may be the ideal we want to get in the matter of secondary education, there is no public demand for universal secondary education, and those who press it are not in this matter representing ordinary, normal, 2011 everyday lay opinion outside this House. My hon. Friend, besides his other qualities, is an extremely practical politician. He has not described to us what this scheme would cost. He has not said anything about what has always been one of the main difficulties in this matter, namely, the supply of teachers. If he insists to-day on asking the Committee to remodel the whole scheme of this Bill he runs a grave risk of endangering the whole proposal. Therefore, in spite of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman opposite is so far in favour, though not quite to his satisfaction, I do hope he will not press this Amendment now, but be prepared to support the Bill in its main lines, as it is drawn, so that we may be enabled to go on with the main question.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I can go quite as far as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ripon in the tribute he has paid to the hon. Member for North Somerset. I am quite ready to listen to his ripe experience in questions of education. I the more regret that, in this instance, the hon. Member for North Somerset has entirely lost a good deal of his usual far-sightedness. He has told us that the ordinary ratepayers insist on higher education. I wonder if he can point to a single Clause in any of the Scottish Education Bills by which the people have any more power to insist upon higher education than in England? The only means that they have of obtaining higher education is by going to the Scottish educational authorities, and getting those authorities to move—
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
Can they not in Scotland get a far higher education in the elementary schools than is possible by law in England?
§ Sir H. CRAIK
There is just the same education in the elementary schools of this country; the code is not drawn up by the inhabitants of each district. Does the hon. Member for North Somerset think that all provision for higher education should come from the locality? Does he not know that it is far more likely to advance the pressure of higher education when it comes from a central authority? The idea of the hon. Member for North Somerset that there is some big power in Scotland that provides schools: to insist on their being provided by some other means than that provided by the Education Acts is pure imagination.
§ Mr. GOLDSTONE
So far from being in agreement with what has fallen from the two previous speakers in the matter of the attitude and activities of the hon. Member for North Somerset, I would there were a large number of hon. Members in this House; so well-informed on educational matters as is the hon. Member, and so keen to promote public free education as I have always found him. The hon. Member for Ripon is evidently not informed as to the facts of the public demand for greater facilities for education. If he had attended some of the conferences promoted by that excellent organisation, the Workers' Educational Association, he would have found that there is a volume of public opinion behind the Bill of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education which has surprised many of those who were getting a little doubtful as to the public attitude towards education. It has delighted them. The public expression of opinion which is voiced by the Workers' Educational Association, representing thousands of working-class people, and at least hundreds of people connected with universities—the expression of opinion to which they have given voice, is in favour of something much more advanced than is contained in this Bill. As a matter of fact I have in my hand a series of resolutions adopted by the Workers' Educational Association, one of which deals with the specific points now before the Committee—that of free secondary education. The demand is laid down in set terms by the Workers' Educational Association, entitled, as I believe, to speak for large masses of the working classes of this country, as follows:That the Bill be amended so as to make secondary education accessible, freely and without the payment of fees, to all capable of taking advantage of it.Hon. Members may take it that those who have been associated with public meetings, apart from the Workers' Educational Association, have found at the present time a public interest about education and a desire to see advancement in it that is remarkable considering present difficulties. I venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the President that he should go further to meet the point which has been brought up by my hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset. If he does not, if he carries out his own suggestion, he still leaves 2013 it to the Board of Education to confer with the local authorities as to whether that 25 per cent. or more of free places in secondary schools shall be accorded.
I have no doubt at all as to what will happen if my right hon. Friend stays at the Board of Education. There will be a more generous provision of secondary school places, extra, without payment of fees. But there has been on the part of the Board of Education—I am glad to say not now—an attitude, not of hostility, but of not too generous a sympathy with local feeling in the matter of free secondary education. For example, there are authorities which are allowed to vary that 25 per cent. provision of free places, and which give a lower percentage. I would ask my right hon. Friend, when he makes the concession he has now outlined, to see that with that concession there is a stringing up of the administration of his Department, and that there is no freedom granted to local education authorities to depart, in any instance, from that excellent provision of 25 per cent. of free places in the secondary schools. Let me quote an instance in which departure is possible. I think the right hon. Gentleman will probably recognise the case. Take the case of a local authority which has more than one secondary school. It keeps one school a little more select than the other one, or two. While it is prepared to give 25 per cent., or a little more, in one or two of its secondary schools, it carefully bars the boys and the girls of the elementary schools from entering, to the extent of 25 per cent. of free places, the other secondary school. This school is kept for those who, in the main, can afford big fees. It is this division on social lines which is at the back of the demand for free secondary education. There is more in that demand than at present seems to have appealed to my right hon. Friend. If he cannot go the whole way, he can at least do something by stringing up the administration, and providing, as the rule, for the 25 per cent. of free places in every secondary school, and not in some; and seeing that there is no easy way out for any local authority which advances specious arguments to him, showing why, in their particular case, the percentage should not be 25 per cent., but 20 per cent., 15 per cent., or 12½per cent., which they may suggest is adequate to meet the case 2014 of free places. I do hope my hon. Friend will press this matter. If he goes into the Division Lobby, I shall certainly accompany him.
§ Sir W. PEARCE
While I welcome the extension of secondary education, one of the worst ways of helping the Bill is to overload it. To my mind the speech of the Education Minister is quite sympathetic to the demand that every local authority shall establish free secondary education for every child desiring it. The Bill also contains a provision that every education authority shall establish continuation schools. But I should like to ask hon. Members how they expect to get the necessary teachers or the necessary schools? I do feel that the Minister has been most sympathetic. I should not like to accuse the hon. Member for North Somerset of trying by overloading the Bill to kill it, but I do think it is the greatest mistake to push these sort of points too far, because, by so doing, there will be a real danger of killing the Bill.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
It does seem to me that this Amendment is somewhat of a test of the intentions of the Government in regard to the Bill. Everybody who believes in real education knows that it is the teaching, in every branch, of the widest forms of knowledge that they want to see increased in the country. Everybody knows that there has been great pressure brought to bear on the President of the Board of Education to develop his educational ideas along the well-known German lines of Professor Kirschensteiner. The working classes of this country, through the Workers' Educational Association, ask for the opportunity to acquire some of the knowledge that they have not got. The Government, inspired by this nefarious example from across the ocean, give not opportunity, but compulsion. We ask for opportunity for getting real, humane knowledge—the reading of books, the knowledge of the natural sciences, and the knowledge of the higher branches of true learning. Instead of that, they give us these continuation schools, of which the hon. Member for Limehouse speaks so warmly—continuation schools where they are taught not to be thinkers, but workers in some trade which will be handy to their employment. We ask for one thing; the Bill gives us another. It gives compulsion, and the wrong form of 2015 education. We are accused of trying to overload the Bill. We want to sink the Bill unless this Amendment is carried—without insisting upon these particular words—but the spirit in which this particular Amendment has been urged upon the Government. The Bill is not what the balance of working-class opinion wants, and that is the reason why this Amendment is, as it were, a test Amendment. Do you want real education? To create amongst the workers of this country, men who stand up for their own rights, thinking out their own thoughts, or do you want a Bill to give us continuation schools, and to have this vocational education selected by the education authorities to suit the different trades of the different districts, farmed out, as it were, to the manufacturers and farmers of the country? I, for one, look forward to a decent, true education; therefore I welcome this Amendment. If it is carried we shall get the opportunity for the working classes to let their children go freely and get secondary education. It is not as though you were giving a great boon to the working classes. Every parent who takes advantage of free secondary education is making an enormous sacrifice. He is losing the wages that the child might have earned if sent out into the world. All that we are asking is that there should be opportunity for free secondary education. I say that by acceding to that request and by giving that opportunity you will be doing more for real education, more for uplifting the whole mind of the country, than you will do by any amount of compulsion into continuation schools and vocational education.
§ Mr. FISHER
The hon. and gallant Member (Mr. Goldstone) has asked for an opportunity for free secondary education, and that opportunity is most fully and abundantly given under the provisions of this Bill; in fact, it is one of the primary purposes of this Bill to offer that opportunity. In what way is it provided? This Bill imposes for the first time an obligation on county councils and county boroughs and upon all authorities having power under Part II. of the Education Act, 1902, to provide a scheme, and the Education Board will see that, as a constituent part of that scheme, there shall be adequate provision for secondary education in the area. That 2016 is one of the primary purposes of the Bill, and, as I have already pointed out, in virtue of the Regulations which are laid down, the condition is added that the secondary school shall provide free places. The consequence is that under the ordinary working of the machinery of this Bill you have more free places provided in secondary schools and you have more secondary schools provided as well. I gather the hon. and gallant Member does not wish, by a stroke of the pen, to abolish the existing secondary schools of this country. I, for one, attach very great importance to the education in the same schools of boys and girls belonging to different classes of society. Under the provisions of this Bill that object is achieved. To show the kind of effect which the mere rumour of this Bill has upon enterprises of this kind, may I point out to my hon. and gallant Friend that the education committee of a great industrial city has already recommended that six additional secondary schools shall be established in its area, in addition to those already existing? I am at the present moment very closely looking into the whole question of scholarships and maintenance, but this is a matter of administrative machinery. This Bill provides a framework within which the object which my hon. Friend is aiming at can be effectively and safely obtained. The more my hon. and gallant Friend looks at the matter, the more sure I am that he will be satisfied that the Bill does realise that part of his aspiration which is concerned with the provision of secondary education.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
We take a very serious view of this Amendment. We are grateful to the President of the Board of Education for the sympathetic words he has used with regard to the educational ideals which we have. To the arguments which we have set before him we have tried to give expression in the form of this Amendment. It is useless to pretend that the suggestion made by the President in any adequate sense realises the object we seek to achieve. The suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman is that these educational authorities, coming together, would receive encouragement to adopt schemes which will ensure that no child is, by poverty, prevented taking the advantage of further forms of education. What we desire is to have as part of our national system free secondary schools for all children on passing from the 2017 elementary schools. A few moments ago the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney-General, who has recently returned from America, was listening to this Debate. I have had the pleasure of reading the witty diary of his experiences in America. I am sure he must have seen something of the public schools system in the United States, and I had hoped he would be able to give the Committee the result of his recent observations in that respect. This system which we are advocating has worked in America with entire success. There they have free elementary schools leading by a broad highway to the secondary schools, free alike from any charges for instruction or for the necessary books and apparatus. That is the ideal we are aiming at. We want to get free secondary education for all children, without regarding elementary education as a system complete in itself or as a coping-stone in the system of continuation classes. The President of the Board of Education gave certain statistics just now. I want to ask the Committee to examine them. They really do not meet the point which we have urged upon the right hon. Gentleman's attention. The statistics he gave snow that between 50 and 60 per cent. of the children in secondary schools came from elementary schools, but the right hon. Gentleman omits altogether from those statistics the great private and public schools.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
Yes, the right hon. Gentleman's statistics did omit any reference to the great public schools system so far as it receives no public Grant. But these are not the statistics which he should have given us. He should have told the Committee in this connection the percentage of children who leave the elementary schools, who pass into the secondary schools or receive any further form of education. I can give him the figures. It is less than 8 per cent. About 92 per cent. of the children leaving elementary schools each year before the War went straight to their work in life, and not only did not get any secondary school education, but got no further education of any kind whatever. That means, as the right hon. Gentleman well knows—for he has publicly acknowledged it—that our ele- 2018 mentary school system is a class system, a system for the children of the poor, and that, there is no real relation between the elementary school and the secondary school. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Goldstone) referred to the Workers' Educational Association. Let me remind the Committee that that association has frequently been the subject of eulogy in this House, and its recommendations have always received great attention here. There is no subject that association is more earnest upon than this question of providing free secondary schools, and linking up the secondary schools with the elementary schools as the natural avenue for all students to pass along. That association is most critical of the form of this Bill because it fails to make any provision whatever on the scale we wish it made for secondary education, and it is because we believe that this is a matter vitally affecting our educational system and because we can hope to get no really national system unless we eliminate the class system and bring unity into the elementary and secondary systems that we feel compelled to challenge the opinion of the Committee on this fundamental matter.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I cannot help thinking that my hon. Friend is pressing the President of the Board of Education a little unduly. We all share, I believe, the ideals to which he has given expression, but we do not see how his Amendment is going to give effect to those ideals, nor do we believe that the conditions are such that the President can by any Act of Parliament give effect to the views my hon. Friend desires to see carried out. My hon. Friend (Mr. Whitehouse) observed that the statistics quoted by the President, showing that 67 per cent. of the children in publicly-aided secondary schools came from public elementary schools, did not really touch the question, and he gave us figures showing that only 8 per cent. of the children in public elementary schools pass on to the secondary schools, 92 per cent. failing to do so. If my hon. Friend holds that 92 per cent. fail to go because there is no-room for them, then I think his argument would be to the point.
§ Mr. McKENNA
Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that the 92 per cent. who do 2019 not go in the secondary schools would have gone if there had been room for them?
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
The right hon. Gentleman appeals to me with great courtesy, and I will at once say that the 92 per cent. fail to secure any further form of education for two reasons. In the first instance they could not go into the secondary schools if they wished, because there are not sufficient secondary schools. The existing secondary schools are already overcrowded in every part of the country, and particularly in London. Secondly, they do not go on, it may be for social and economic reasons, possibly poverty, but that is a matter which I cannot deal with now.
§ Mr. McKENNA
There is a third reason. It is quite possible that a very large proportion of them, or it may be a large proportion of their parents, have no intention that they should go on to secondary schools. We have to deal with facts as we find them. My hon. Friend suggests that a system should be set up in this country by which room will be provided in secondary schools for every child in the country.
§ Mr. KING
That is not my Amendment. Will the right hon. Gentleman do me the courtesy to read that Amendment? It does not ask for secondary education for all children, but only for those who desire it. If the right hon. Gentleman will read the Amendment he will see that his present argument is pointless.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I quite understand my hon. Friend's Amendment; he very properly uses the word "desires," but I wish to observe that of the 92 per cent. quoted by the last speaker it will be found that a very large proportion were not desirous of secondary education. I am sure the Committee is absolutely unanimous in the desire to provide secondary education—free—for all children in the country who are desirous to have it, but is it realised that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education must build on the existing system? He cannot scrap that system. He would not have the teachers or the buildings or the provision necessary to create an entirely new system such as that suggested. I am inclined to quote a French proverb to illustrate the situation, "Better is the enemy of good." I hope we shall ulti- 2020 mately come to the ideals expressed by my hon. Friends, but I am sure they are doing their own case more harm than good by standing in the way of the proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend who always has in view the highest educational spirit, and who is as earnest as any Member of this House in his desire to give effect to that spirit. While discussions on these topics are most valuable, I do beg of my hon. Friends to give this Bill the hearty reception which it deserves. It is a very fine step forward both in the field of elementary and of secondary education, and I, for my part, would not risk losing it by occupying the attention of this House for five minutes.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I should like to say a word in support of the appeal which has been made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. McKenna). I would certainly ask the Mover of this Amendment to withdraw it and to trust to the proposal that has been made by the President of the Board of Education. The more he thinks of it, the more I am sure he will admit that nearly everything he desires—and I am in much sympathy with what he desires—will be attained under this Bill if that proposal is carried out. Let me further point out that this Amendment could scarcely be carried in the form in which it is presented to the Committee. There are several objections to the Amendment as it stands. It says "including the provision of secondary or higher education." I do not know in the least what the hon. Gentleman means by contrasting secondary with higher education. Secondary education one understands very well, and higher education generally means the education which follows secondary education in the higher institutions or universities. The word "or," therefore, is entirely out of place. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman means that provision shall be made for free secondary as well as for free university education. If so, it would be better to state it. The hon. Member has supported by very strong arguments the Amendment which is before the Committee by pointing out that parents cannot possibly in existing circumstances demand free secondary education or demand the establishment of free secondary schools. My experience may not be as large as his, but I must own that I have never known local authorities approached by 2021 parents and asked that a secondary school should be established in the district to refuse that request; and, further, I have never known a case in which such a demand has been made to the Board of Education which has been refused by the Board.
What we want to do is to create a greater enthusiasm for secondary education among all classes in the country, and when that enthusiasm exists and a demand is made for further secondary education I feel quite certain it will be acceded to. I know quite well that there is a tendency amongst a large number of secondary schools to approach the Board of Education with a view to enabling free places to be given in those schools, and I am not certain that it will not be my duty to take a deputation to the Board of Education before long asking whether in certain schools which are not at present Grant-aided the opportunity of providing free places may not be afforded in order that a Grant may be obtained. The demand must come from the parents, and as soon as it does I feel quite certain that there will be no lack of opportunity for secondary education to be afforded. I cannot quite understand what my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wedgwood) means in opposing so strongly vocational education. I agree with him entirely to the extent that what we require is further secondary education in the first instance, and I do not see that we can read into any of the Clauses of this Bill that strong demand for vocational education which he seems to see in some of its provisions, I hope, therefore, that in order that there may be no division on a point of this kind; on which the whole Committee and country are really agreed—as to the further facilities that should be afforded to all classes in the country for secondary education—the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his Amendment.
§ Mr. KING
I am extraordinarily surprised at the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for London University (Sir P. Magnus), and I will give the Committee the reason. He said he never knew a case where the parents had asked for secondary education or a school and had not got it. He and I were together members of a local educational authority in the year 1903, and from the county council area which I then represented, Haslemere, a petition came up to our local education authority asking for a 2022 secondary school. The local education, authority bought a piece of land, but that piece of land is not built on to the present day, and no secondary school is accessible—
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I suppose the hon. Gentleman is fully aware of the reason which prevented that local authority from providing that school, namely, that facilities already existed in the near neighbourhood and were quite sufficient?
§ Mr. KING
The nearest facilities are in in the town of Guildford, which is seventeen miles away, and the real reason the school has not been built there is that people who made good professions did not attend, and people who were anxious for democratic ideals in education, like myself, were always turned down. It is not at all the case that facilities are given to places and people when they ask for secondary education, and there is no leverage which the people of the district have in demanding it. There is none. There is in Scotland, and I wish here to reply to the hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Sir H. Craik), who said that there was no power in Scotland which was not enjoyed by the parents and people in England. There is. There is the power to elect the school board, and if a school board which can provide secondary education in. Scotland—a directly-elected authority which has no counterpart whatever in England—does not provide secondary education, all it is necessary to do is to wait three years, turn them out, and elect a body that will provide it. That is the law in Scotland, and for the hon. Member to say that I am wrong in my facts, and to go out of the House and leave me to answer when he is not here, is not quite fair. I am going to press this to a Division if anybody will support me, but before I do so let me say that I do recognise the good intentions and the desire to meet me which the President of the Board of Education has shown. Let me point out, however, that we are not asking that there shall be provision of secondary school accommodation for all children who pass. We are not even saying that there must be secondary schools. We are only saying that in the scheme—because, after all, this Clause is only for making schemes—you must put some provision for secondary education for those children who desire it. I do not think it is a very unreasonable thing. I 2023 am perfectly certain that if it were added it would give a real assistance to the very ideas which the President of the Board has. It is not an unreasonable proposal, it is not an extravagant or an expensive one, and therefore I shall certainly go to a Division.
§ Sir FRANCIS BLAKE
I should like to ask a question with reference to the next Clause, because I think it has a considerable bearing upon the matter the Committee is discussing at the present moment. Clause 2 says:It shall be the duty of the local education authority for the purposes of Part III. of the Education Act, 1902,(a) to make adequate and suitable provision by means of central schools, central or special classes, or otherwise—and then going on to paragraph (b)—for co-operating with local education authorities for the purposes of Part II. of the Education Act, 1902, in matters of common interest, and particularly in respect of (i) the preparation of children for further education in schools other than elementary and their transference at suitable ages to such schools."The question I want to ask is whether such schools other than elementary include secondary schools? If they do, it seems to me such a considerable advance on any thing we have now that it is almost an answer to the case made by the hon. Member (Mr. King). Certainly if what the President of the Board of Education says in reference to this is what I expect, I shall be unable, much as I sympathise with his object, to support the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. FISHER
It is, of course, true, as the hon. Gentleman (Sir F. Blake) has pointed out, that "schools other than elementary schools" under Sub-section (b) of Clause 2 does mainly refer to secondary schools.
§ Mr. FISHER
It includes secondary schools. I would also draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the phrase "Progressive development and comprehensive organisation of education" in 2024 Clause 1. I do submit to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. King) that what he desires is already done, and that we are taking power in Clause 1 and in Clause 2 to ensure adequate provision of facilities for secondary education.
§ Mr. FISHER
Naturally, because, as I have already pointed out, no secondary school can receive State aid unless it is prepared to make provision for free places, and, as I have already indicated, I am prepared specifically to make reference to the necessity of an adequate provision of free places in secondary schools. I think, therefore, that the points which have been raised by hon. Members who desire free secondary education are substantially met in the Bill as it stands.
§ Captain Sir C. BATHURST
I should like to utter a word of warning against the over-enthusiasm of what I may call the extreme education enthusiast, in order that it may not result in the wrecking of this Bill. What with the extreme enthusiast on one side and the education reactionary on the other, I do foresee great trouble with this Bill unless those of us who are really keen to see it carried do our best to support the right hon. Gentleman who is in charge. I have sat on local county education authorities ever since such bodies existed, and the great difficulty I foresee in regard to this Bill is not in satisfying the enthusiasts of education, but in satisfying what I may call the reactionaries—those, in fact, who are very reluctant indeed to spend 1d. more out of the public purse, and particularly out of the public rates, than we are spending at the present time. I cannot, for my own part, see what advantage is to be derived from attempting to force upon local authorities a course of action in advance of local public opinion. After all, local public opinion is quite able to provide what the hon. Member desires through its elected representative, if it is strong enough to do so. The one handicap which exists under the previous Act was removed by Clause 7, by which the absurd limit of a 2d. rate no longer exists. With regard to those who speak for urban areas, and who are prepared to send representatives to the local education authorities, as long as they are anxious to see public money expended upon more advanced education, possibly free of all cost, it is possible for them to effect this with the good will of 2025 the locality, which is absolutely essential if you wish to make it a success. I welcome this Bill because, in regard to what we are pleased to call higher education, provision is made for the first time to ensure enthusiasm for the work which is going to appeal to the parents, and for that reason it is going to develop a larger measure of public enthusiasm for education generally. It is only by increasing the larger local enthusiasm for education that you are going to get a real move on, and that you are going to secure for every child in this country a proper secondary education.
§ Mr. D. MASON
I hope my hon. Friend will press his Amendment to a Division. The President of the Board of Education says that what we require is already provided for, but I want to know, is it entirely so? I understand that the Amendment which has been promised in Clause 4 will simply mean consultation. We want something that will be a real provision and not merely a consultation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mon-mouth (Mr. McKenna) said there would not be sufficient teachers, and he urged us not to press this Amendment unduly. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) raised the question of finance, and all this seems to indicate that there is a doubt as to whether it is wise to provide for secondary education. We desire that there should be no dubeity about it. It is not a question of finance. I have always been ready to co-operate with my right hon. Friend in regard to matters of economy, but this question of finance in regard to education should not deter us from providing ample educational facilities for every child in the country. The need is so great that I think this Amendment should leave no doubt at all. It should not be a question of the right hon. Gentleman saying that our point is substantially met in the Bill. We should get an undertaking that these facilities will be provided without any doubt. As the Amendment says, it only applies to those desirous of having these facilities, and the parents would be consulted. Unless we get a definite undertaking that some such provision as I have indicated will be made in this Clause, I hope my hon. Friend will press this Amendment to a Division.
Sir MONTAGUE BARLOW
Mention has been made of the Workers' Education Association. I do not suppose there is any- 2026 body who lives in an industrial centre who is a keen educationalist who has not come across the Workers' Education Association and who has not been ready to support its work. It is a movement with which I have profound sympathy and one which I have tried to consider in every possible way. I am one of those who introduced a deputation of this association to the Minister of Education some months ago, and I thought at the time that their demands, excellent as they were as an ideal, go further than it is possible to secure in actual practical legislation. I would like to ask if the hon. Members who are supporting this Amendment mean to wreck the Bill or are they really trying to do something which they consider will improve it. I am very much afraid that it is the first alternative and not the second.
Sir M. BARLOW
Even if this Amendment is desirable at the moment it is practically impossible, and the only effect of it can be to jeopardise the Bill. There is behind this Bill an educational enthusiasm, which we have never known before. It has been considered and reconsidered, and it embodies various compromises arrived at after careful consultation and private negotiations with all the various forces behind the scenes before the second Bill was introduced. [An HON. MEMBER: "Wire pulling…"] No, it is not wire pulling. When that process has gone en and the second Bill has been introduced embodying adjustments, then a demand is made to practically and radically alter the character of the Bill, and it looks to me that this was being done with the intention, not of improving the Bill, but of destroying it. Those of us who want to see this Bill through do earnestly hope that nothing will be proposed which will have the effect of even delaying the measure, still less of destroying it.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I do not think the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down will have the effect that he desires, for it is the worst method that can be devised to endeavour to rush a Bill of this importance through the House. The President of the Board of Education assured the Mover of this Amendment that the Bill really carried out his purpose, and that the Amendment was unnecessary, and here we have the hon. Member who has just spoken charging 2027 the supporters of this Amendment with introducing something to wreck the Bill, although the right hon. Gentleman has just stated that what is being asked for in the Amendment is already provided for. I have been listening carefully to hon. Members who get up and make speeches like this, and I find that they invariably waste time in soft-soaping the President of the Board of Education. There are, however, one or two points which I should like cleared up. The concluding words of this Amendment are, "For all persons desirous of such education," but in his speech the hon. Member referred to the children being desirous of such education.
There will be no doubt, I suppose, that the girls and boys will be able to express a preference for higher education. If this proposal is interpreted in another sense I cannot support it. Surely the parents should have the right to say whether a child shall go to the higher school. One can easily see the schoolmaster asking the children this question in the last year of their training, and in that case the schoolmaster would treat them differently in the last year if they were going to a higher school than if they were going out to work. If the schoolmaster asked them two years before leaving school, it is quite possible that the best boys would be the keenest to go to work. Cases have very often come before our notice in the North of England of boys who have benefited most by education, but who are very anxious to earn money, and, therefore, I think the parents should be able to say to a boy, "You are not yet ready for work; a higher education will do you good," and they ought to be allowed to make the choice. If the hon. Member means that the desire should be expressed by the parents then I can vote for the Amendment.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
My own difficulty is not that of my hon. Friend opposite, who appears to think that the hon. Member for Somerset is pressing secondary and higher education too far. My difficulty is that so far as I can see this Amendment seems to be surplusage, and I should like to have an assurance from the President of the Board of Education that that is so, because that will entirely determine my vote.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
The Clause says that the local authorities shall provide schemes "for the progressive development and comprehensive organisation of education in respect of their area." I presume that a scheme presented, which did not adequately provide for higher and secondary education, would not be considered a satisfactory scheme and would' not be approved. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear…"] In view of that fact, I do suggest to my hon. Friend that he will be putting many of us in an entirely false position if he calls for a Division now on this matter. If any point is not clear in the hon. Member's mind, if he consulted with the President between now and the Report stage, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will be quite willing to consider any form of words to make the point clear. I think it would be extremely undesirable that a Division should be forced now, because it would put some of us in a position which we do not desire to take up.
§ Mr. FISHER
The first point is the provision of secondary schemes. Under Clause 1 of the Bill the county authorities are required to provide schemes for the progressive and comprehensive organisation and development of education in their area. That includes secondary education, and any scheme submitted by an authority to the Board which did not, in the opinion of the Board, make adequate provision for secondary education in the area, carrying free places, would be condemned. The second point is the adequacy of the free places. I have not gathered from my hon. Friends whether it is part of their proposal to abolish all the fees which are at present charged in secondary schools. At the present moment there is no doubt an inadequate provision of free places, and, as I have already pointed out, the Board is anxiously examining the provision of free places. We are hoping that the provision will be more adequate in the future, and I have already given an undertaking that I will insert words at a later stage of the Bill which will constitute a specific direction to the local education authorities that in making provision for secondary 2029 education they should pay special attention to the making of that education accessible to all children desirous of obtaining secondary education, however poor they may be
§ Question put, "That these words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 55; Noes, 172.2031
|Division No. 35.]||AYES.||[533 p.m.|
|Adamson, William||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Rowlands, James|
|Alden, Percy||Hinds, John||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hudson, Walter||Snowden, Philip|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Thomas, Sir G. (Monmouth, S.)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Thomas Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jowett, Frederick William||Tootill, Robert|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Lambert, Richard (Cricklade)||Wedgwood, Lt.-Commander Josiah C.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Morgan, George Hay||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Edwards, J. H. (Glam., Mid.)||Morrell, Philip||Williams, Llewelyn|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Outhwaite, R. L.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Glanville, Harold James||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvon, Arfon)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. King and Mr. Anderson.|
|Hancock, John George||Robinson, Sidney|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Lonsdale, James R.|
|Agnew, Sir George||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Lowe, Sir F. W.|
|Archdale, Lt. Edward M.||Denniss, Edmund R. Bartley||McCalmont, Brig.-Gen. R. C. A.|
|Archer-Shee, Lt.-Col. Martin||Dixon, Charles Harvey||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh|
|Baker, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Accrington)||Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir James B.||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Baker, Maj. Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Otley)||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Du Pre, Maj. W. B.||Macmaster, Donald|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick||Faber, George D. (Clapham)||McNeill, R. (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, South)||Falle, Sir Bertram Godfray||Maden, Sir John Henry|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Fell, Sir Arthur||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick, B.)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam)||Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel-|
|Bathurst, Col Hon. A. B. (Glouc. E.)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham)||Marriott, John A. R.|
|Bathurst, Capt. Sir C. (Wilts)||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Foster, Philip Staveley||Meux, Admiral Hon. Sir Hedworth|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John||Morison, Hector (Hackney, South)|
|Benn, Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred||Newman, Major John R. P.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry||Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough)||Nicholson, Sir Chas. N. (Doncaster)|
|Bird, Alfred||Gretten, John||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Blair, Reginald||Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. Fortescue||Hamersley, Lt.-Col. A. St. George||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Boyton, Sir James||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J.||Parkes, Sir Edward|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S,||Peel, Major Hon. G. (Spalding)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, South)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Bryce, John Annan||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Bull, Sir William James||Henry, Sir Charles||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Herbert, Hon. Aubrey (Somerset, S.)||Pratt, John W.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Torquay)||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Butcher, J. G.||Hewins, William Albert S.||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Hibbert, Sir Henry||Randles, Sir John|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hills, John Waller (Durham)|
|Cator, John||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Holt, Richard Durning||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cheyne, Sir William W.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Midlothian)||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Coats, Sir Stuart (Wimbledon)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Robertson, Rt. Hon. J. M.|
|Collins, Sir William (Derby)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter (D'sburg)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hunt, Major Rowland||Rutherford, Sir W. (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ash mole||Hunter, Maj. Sir Chat. Rod.||Samuel, Samuel (Wands worth)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (N'wood)|
|Cory, James H. (Cardiff)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, E.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Craig, Ernest (Crewe)||Jones, Wm. Kennedy (Hornsey)||Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur|
|Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, E.)||Joynson-Hicks, William||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Liverpool)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Somervell, William Henry|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Henry Page||Larmor, Sir Joseph||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Currie, G. W.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Staveley-Hill, Lt.-Col. Henry|
|Dalrymple, Hon. H. H,||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Stewart, Gershom|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Stirling, Lt.-Col. Archibald:|
|Davies, Timothy (Louth)||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Stoker, R. B.|
|Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, W)||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliff)||Whitely, Sir H. J. (Droitwich)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.||Wood, Hon. E. F L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Terrell, George (Wilts N. W.)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Tickler, Thomas George||Willoughby, Lieut.-Cot. Hon. Claud|
|Walker, Col. W. H.||Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (York)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord Edmund Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Walsh, Stephen (Lancashire, Ince)||Wilson-Fox, Henry (Tamworth)|
|Weston, John W.||Winfrey, Sir R.|
Question put, and agreed to.
Sir HOWELL DAVIES
On a point of Order. I inadvertently voted in the wrong Lobby. I intended to vote for the Government. I do not know whether the matter could be put right?
I am sorry that I cannot help the hon. Member, but no doubt what he has said will be noted in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The Amendment—to leave out the word "such," and after the word "council" ["such council from time to time "] to insert the words "of a county or county borough in England"—standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Montgomeryshire (Major David Davies) is not in order here. It should come as a new Clause. I cannot make the Amendment—after the word "submit" ["submit to the Board schemes"] to insert the words "for the approval of their council, and subsequently, if approved"— standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) read. Will he explain it?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I think it reads correctly,Providing for the progressive development and comprehensive organisation of education in respect of their area, and with that object any such council from time to time may, and shall when required by the Board of Education, submit for the approval of their council, and subsequently, if approved, to the Board," etc.My object is to make it quite clear that it is not merely the education committee of the borough or county council that has to consider this scheme, but that the scheme before it is put before the Board shall pass the public scrutiny of the whole council. The education committees of this country are not directly elected bodies. One-third are co-opted specialists and the remainder of the education committee are very largely composed of aldermen. It is a much sought after committee, and consequently posts on it are generally given to senior members, many of whom are aldermen.
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will look at his Amendment. As the Bill stands, the Amendment would make it read, 2032 "any such council from time to time may, and shall when required by the Board of Education, submit for the approval of their council." The council cannot submit something to itself. Probably the hon. and gallant Member has in view the question of the committee submitting any scheme to the council for their approval before going to the Board of Education.
I am afraid he cannot raise that question here. We have gone past that point. He must seek some further opportunity, probably on the Report stage.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
It seems to me from the Clause that it is the duty of the council, and not the education committee.
The next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King), at the bottom of page 107 of the Amendment Paper, should come as a new Clause, or on Clause 5. The next Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for the Attercliffe Division (Mr. Anderson), at the top of page 108, ought also to come as a new Clause. The Amendment following that, in the name of the hon. Member for North Somerset, should not come on this Clause. It should come either on Clause 5 or Clause 38— I do not know which—but it certainly should not come here. The next Amendment, standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Denbighshire (Mr. John), is consequential on the Amendment I called, which appears on the previous page. The following Amendment, in the name of the same hon. Member and others, should come as a new Clause. On page 109 of the Amendment Paper, the first Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for North Somerset, seems to be altogether too vague, and, if moved at all, should be moved on Clause 4. I call on the hon. Member for North Somerset to move the next Amendment.
§ Mr. KING
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to add as a new Subsection:(2) Such scheme shall provide, as far as possible, for the representation on boards of managers and executive committees of parents, teachers, and working class organisations in such a way that public management may be effectively attained.May I say, at the outset, that I have tried to make this language fit into the language of the Bill by making it rather vague and somewhat rhetorical?
§ Mr. ANDERSON
On a point of Order. Why is the present Amendment in order if the Amendment that I myself desired to move, which appears on page 108 of the Amendment Paper, dealing only with one point in regard to teachers, and excluding all the others, is out of order?
I am much obliged to the hon. Member. I am in doubt about this particular Amendment, and I am waiting to hear what the hon. Member will say before I intervene.
Yes, of course; it is a matter for me, and I am about to exercise my discretion.
§ Mr. KING
I shall not try to get round your ruling, Sir Donald Maclean. I shall state the object and aim of my Amendment as clearly as I possibly can and then, perhaps, you will give your ruling on a point of Order. In order to understand it, let us observe what the position is to-day. Local education authorities and the Board of Education, between them, are directly managing and carrying out the education of the country. The local education authorities, generally speaking, are committees of town councils, county boroughs, and county councils, with certain co-opted persons added to them in each case, who are not directly elected for the purpose of their work by the ratepayers. Some of them have never been through an election, still less a contested election, in their lives. A number of them are very superior persons, such as professors of universities, who are brought in, who have never gone through any contested election in their life. They become very important persons on education authorities. These committees can and do transact their work in secret. If a ratepayer wants to find out what is being 2034 done by his authority, he cannot ask to see the minutes, because he has no right of access to the minutes of the local education authority. Some education authorities do admit the Press occasionally to their meetings, but what they generally do is to sit in secret, transact their business in secret, and make reports to their county councils and other councils, which simply pass them as matters of form. [HON. MEMBERS: "No…"] They have when I have been there. Generally, they desire to trouble the Press, the public, the officials and themselves as little as possible with the business. What is the result? A few officials manage the whole affair, and the inspectors of the Board of Education tell them roughly what they have to do. The whole thing is a very happy family party business. What is greatly to the credit of these people is that so much education is being given. When I think how secret, how unapproachable by the common man is the administration of education to-day, I am lost in admiration of the wonderful results which are achieved in spite of these disadvantages. On the other hand, what does result also is that you have a great movement like the Workers' Education—
After hearing what the hon. Member has said, I have come to the conclusion that this Amendment cannot be moved on this Clause. He should try on Clause 4, or propose it as a new Clause. The next" Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt) and others, should come on Clause 2, if at all. The succeeding Amendments should come as new Clauses.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. HOLT
Before we part with this Clause, I should like to ask the President of the Board of Education if he will give the Committee some information as to the policy he proposes to adopt for the education of persons intending to pursue the sea as a profession. The Bill as it stands has this effect, that if a person ceases his education at the age of fourteen he is obliged to go to continuation schools, a proceeding which is manifestly impossible to a boy engaged in seafaring, through obvious practical difficulties. As regards those going in for the higher class of seafaring, it is obvious that they 2035 ought to stop at school until they are sixteen. It would be very much better that they should be compelled to stay at school up to the age of sixteen. Indeed, the same is true of all boys who go to sea. I am not very much impressed by the argument that some boys performing the more menial duties will, if there is no special provision made for them, be unable to go to sea until they are eighteen. That is the only penalty which is imposed upon them by the Bill as it stands. If that is the position, it will not be at all satisfactory. If boys stop at school until the age of sixteen, there ought to be schemes specially prepared for giving the class of education needed by a boy who is going to sea. We all know that there must be education which will be partly of an elementary character and partly of a secondary type which is different from what is necessary for a boy who is going to stay on shore. For instance, not only is a certain form of mathematics necessary to navigation to be taught, but the boy ought to have some opportunity of learning that sort of physical work which is necessary for the sea, such as elementary seamanship, dealing with boats, ropes, and similar things. That becomes very necessary if the boy is not to leave school until he has arrived at the age of sixteen. It is necessary that he should then be a much better trained lad from a technical point of view than the lad who goes to sea now at a much younger age. It will therefore be convenient if we can anticipate the discussion which must arise at a later stage on some of the Amendments which are now on the Paper making it mandatory on the education authorities to provide suitable schemes, and if we can have some statement from the President of the Board of Education as to what he has in his mind to do. I am informed that it is quite possible under the Bill as it stands for the Board of Education and the local authorities, if they are so minded, to do everything that is necessary and suitable, but we should like to know that it is in their minds and that it is their intention to see that the boys who are intended to pursue this special form of activity in later life should have the opportunity of getting the special education which is necessary for that purpose.
§ Mr. PETO
I should like to reinforce what has fallen from the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt). I am entirely in 2036 agreement with him that it is desirable that we should know, if possible, at the earliest possible stage what the President of the Board of Education really has in mind with regard to this vital part of education, namely, the education that fits a boy for the sea service. The importance of the sea service in relation to our national life can hardly be exaggerated. That has been burned into everybody's mind recently. Under the Bill as it stands, it is possible that all that may be necessary can perhaps be done, but I do not think that is good enough, because we find in Clause 10, Sub-section (2), paragraph (ii, b), that there is an exemption from this attendance at continuation schools up to the age of eighteen. If enforced in every case, attendance up to that age would practically make it impossible for a boy to go to sea at the proper age. The provision I have referred to says:Is shown to the satisfaction of the local education authority to have been up to the age of sixteen under full-time instruction in a school recognised by the Board of Education as efficient or under suitable and efficient full-time instruction in some other manner.I not only think that that is much too vague for our purpose, but I am not satisfied to leave the supply of boys for the sea service entirely in the hands of the local education authority, with the over-riding authority of the Board of Education. I should like to see a complete scheme in this Bill for providing the appropriate education at the appropriate age in proper training establishments or schools adapted to the special purpose, for boys for the sea service. Further, I should like it to be quite certain that boys, whatever part of the country they may hail from, will not only have no obstacle placed in their way in choosing the sea as a profession, but also every facility, financial and other, for having a full-time education to a more limited age than eighteen for this special purpose. If the President of the Board of Education will tell us that he is going to regard favourably the series of Amendments standing in the name of the hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Mr. Leslie Scott), my own name, and the names of some other hon. Members, which does provide for a definite scheme under which we can work, or whether he has some other scheme in his mind, or whether he is determined to leave it to chance and the good intention of the education authority overlooked by 2037 his own Department, it will very much help us as to the course we shall pursue on the further stages of the Bill.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I think after the last two speeches the Committee will begin to understand the new enthusiasm for the education movement in this country. We shall have during the course of these Debates employer after employer getting up and insisting that, whatever else happens, there must be special instruction for the young to learn the particular trade which will be useful to him. My hon. Friend (Mr. Holt) thinks the public schools of the country should train up young seamen, and that the Government will be well advised, in the interests of the employers in the shipping industry, to get as large a proportion as possible of the youth of this country trained as merchant seamen. He will then get an increased supply of merchant seamen and the price of the article will go down. The same thing applies to every other trade or profession. I, for instance, from now on, will insist that the Bill should include the largest possible provision for the training of young potters, and then we shall have a larger supply of labour to draw upon and the article will be cheaper. The State is going, under the Bill, or rather under the enthusiasm of the new educationists, to teach the trade which we have previously been teaching to these boys and girls, to go through all the difficulty of collecting our labour for us bringing it up, and supplying it to us ready made at the critical moment just when we want it. And they call that education… To my mind that is a travesty of education. It is the vocational education which Sheffield has imported into this House, but which Germany invented, and against which every true educationist will continue to protest. That has only been called for by the last two speeches.
I want to speak on this Clause from another point of view. The local councils are to be asked to prepare schemes to submit to the Board. Would it be possible for us to see a sample scheme drawn up by the Board of Education, so that we might have a better acquaintance with the ideas which are to be adopted? Anyone who has read through this Bill will come to the end of it with a sort of feeling that it is an excellent Bill—the Sections of it which you understand—but a great deal of it still left in blank. There is no hint of the scheme. You may look 2038 all through it without seeing in any corner of it any mention of the employers who are to have a hand in these educational training establishments. You will not see the word "parents" mentioned, except once in connection with "nursery schools. I want to know whether we cannot have, either as a White Paper or In a speech by the President, his idea of what would be an ideal scheme, say, for a borough such as Stoke-on-Trent, and for a county area, what the hours would be, what the teaching system and the curriculum would be, and what the goal aimed at by the Board of Education is in connection with these continuation classes and the higher education? We are told in Clause 2 in extremely vague terms what that idea is, but we want something much more detailed, more elaborate, and more informing than anything that is in the Bill at present. You cannot have all the county councils of the country starting drafting schemes without any sample upon which to base their draft, and such a sample must be either already drafted or must be required before the Bill can be used. Therefore we might rightly ask the right hon. Gentleman to let us know what the scheme is intended to be, and how it is intended to work in detail.
§ Mr. FISHER
The hon. Members (Mr. Holt and Mr. Peto) have raised two points of very great interest and importance. First of all, they raised the question of the provision for young lads intending to take up seafaring as their calling in life. That is a matter which has been engaging my very close attention for the last few weeks. I understand there is a very general desire on the part of those who are interested in the mercantile marine to obtain adequate facilities for education for lads who are entering the mercantile marine, and that there is, moreover, a very great and all-pervading desire that a much larger proportion of the hands in our mercantile marine should be drawn from the towns and villages. There is some division of opinion as to what the best type of school for a lad desiring to enter the sea service should be. There are some who hold that the State should provide training ships for the education of these lads. There are others, equally well qualified to speak, who maintain that the schools should be shore establishments, either on some of our great rivers or on the sea, so that the boys should have opportunities for boat- 2039 ing and swimming. I do not profess to have an authoritative opinion on these two alternatives, but my own inclination, as at present advised, is in favour of the shore establishment as against the training ship. But whatever may be the true doctrine on those points, it is clear that endeavour should be made to provide more extended facilities for a professional form of education for boys entering seafaring life. I do not mean that the education should be strictly professional. Far from it. Those boys should have as good a general education as any other boys. It is quite possible to give a good general education with a slight marine bias, and that is all that people interested in shipping want.
Let us see how far this can be provided within the four corners of the Bill. It will be not only possible, but normal, for the Board of Education to require of certain authorities—those in the great seaports of the country—that they should provide an adequate supply of education suitable to the needs of boys entering the seafaring profession. It is also possible under the provisions of the Bill for authorities to federate together in the execution of some common purpose, and one of those purposes might be the consideration of a scheme for a profession of this kind. It is also possible, under the provisions of the Bill, for boarding operations to be made, so that boys coming from inland towns might be boarded in schools in seaport towns, where they would receive this particular bind of education. But although all these things are possible under the Bill, I am not satisfied that they are adequate, and I believe, if a really adequate form of education is to be given to the lads desiring to enter into the seafaring profession, it should be given on some national plan. I am not prepared at this moment to pledge the Government to a scheme, but I think it is quite possible that if a scheme were to be framed we might expect some help towards it from the shipping industry. These are matters which have to be explored, but, in any case, I will keep my mind open on the subject, and it shall have my close attention. I realise to the full the necessity of providing some form of education such as my hon. Friend describes. The second point which they have raised is the position of the seafaring lad under Clause 10 of the Bill. I recognise that it is impossible, as things go now, to require lads 2040 who are spending the greater part of their lives on shipboard to attend continuation schools. I propose, however, to defer special consideration of the position of lads under Clause 10 until we have reached that portion of the Bill, and I think that will be satisfactory to my hon. Friends. My hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Wedgwood) seemed to assume that it was the purpose of the Bill, and of its architect, the arch-criminal of the plot, to scrap general education, and to introduce some narrow technical form of education. I will ask him to give me credit for some little intuition in the matter of education, and to defer the full force of his censure until we reach that portion of the Bill which excites his animadversion.
Do the right hon. Gentleman's remarks refer to the fishing industry as well as shipping?
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I think we are perhaps entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will indicate at what later stage of the Bill he will make a statement in regard to the general finance by which the Bill will be carried on. I should very much like to have an assurance that at some stage he will give us an opportunity of discussing the question.
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
The President of the Board of Education had better beware of the Chairman before he answers a question of that kind. It is for me to say whether such matters are in order.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I should like to put a question before we leave this Clause as to what is the policy of the Department in regard to striking a balance between book learning and technical training? The right hon. Gentleman made a remark that in regard to certain boys he would give them a general knowledge with a sea bias. That would not satisfy the people who want technical instruction in the North. It seems to me that if you follow the lines of his speech the consequence would be that a collier would have a much better knowledge of poetry than a boy who is to go into the textile trade. If a draftsman or an engineer had to spend a large part of the day studying his own special calling, then does it not naturally follow that an ordinary miner, who could get no knowledge from technical instruction at school, would devote his time to 2041 poetry and philosophy? I am putting an extreme case in order to get to know what is in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman, and whether he thinks it would be fair that where children are sitting side by side some shall receive a much larger book education and come away with a much greater knowledge of English literature than others who are spending the whole of the day in having their hands trained? I would like to know what is the policy of the Department as regards holding the balance between manual training which is manual and that training which is intellectual?
§ Mr. FISHER
The policy of the Department is to give to every child a particular form of education which is most calculated to do good to that child. The hon. Member well knows that children are very varied. Some of them have aptitudes in one direction and some have aptitudes in another. Some children are very clever with their hands, and some children have good ears for music. Other children can do best with books. Every intelligent educational life would give a child the food which is most wholesome for it. That is the whole policy of this Bill.
Sir F. BAN BURY
I would like to ask a question with regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Oxford as to expenditure. Can we not discuss that on Clause 22?