§ The council of any county, before submitting a scheme under this Act, shall consult the other authorities within their county (if any) who are authorities for the purposes of Part III. of the Education Act. 1902, with reference to the mode in which and the extent to which any such authority will co-operate with the council in carrying out their scheme, and when submitting their scheme shall make a report to the Board of Education as to the co-operation which is to be anticipated from any such authority, and any such authority may, if they so desire, submit to the Board as well as to the council of the county any proposals or representations relating to the provision or organization of education in the area of that authority for consideration in connection with the scheme of the county.
I beg to move, at the end, to add the words:Before submitting schemes under this Act a local education authority shall consider any representations made to them by parents or other persons or bodies of persons interested, and shall adopt such measures to ascertain their views as they consider desirable, and the authority shall take such steps to give publicity to their proposals as they consider suitable, or as the Board of Education may require.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
May I ask that we now adjourn, in order that we can see these words before we discuss them. It is almost impossible to deal with such a very important Amendment as this simply on word of mouth. We know perfectly well that this question of parental consultation is one of the most important things in the Bill. We have only got a quarter of an hour, and we might surely have this Adjournment, so that we can see the Amendment in print, and discuss it properly. May I move to report Progress?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think the hon. and gallant Member was out of the House when this was substituted for Amendments to the preceding Clause.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
What strikes me at the first moment, in reading this Amendment, which has just been handed to me by the right hon. Gentleman, is that it depends on the parents making the representations.Before submitting schemes under this Act the local education authority shall consider any representations made to them by parents"—Of course, it is not likely that parents will make representations to them before they know that the scheme is to be made. I do not quite know whether the parents are likely to take the initiative—and shall adopt such measures to ascertain their views as they consider desirable"—this is not a proper way of debating.Before submitting schemes under this Act a local education authority—It is not the education authority which makes the scheme, it is the council, I understand—shall consider any reference made to them by parents or other persons or bodies interested—Does "bodies interested" include employers?and shall adopt such measures to ascertain their views as they consider desirable, and the authority shall take such steps to give publicity to their proposals as they consider suitable or as the Board of Education may require.I think, on the whole, that that meets all our points, but it is very difficult to consider it like this. The main thing is that, before any scheme is adopted, there should be an opportunity for consulting with the parents concerned, and that they should be able to say whether the scheme is to be vocational or not. I do not want the influence of the parents to be overridden by the influence of the employers or educational experts. We know these directors. We should be quite certain that no system of compulsory education between the ages of fourteen and eighteen is established which has not got the consent of the parents. Consultation alone, without consent, is not very satisfactory, because the influence of the parents might be entirely overruled. One would like to see what position the Board of Education would take up towards a scheme which had the support of the local education authority, but which had not the support of the parents. I can quite imagine that there might be a considerable amount of conflict between the two. I think, however, on the whole, that the Amendment perhaps meets our point.
§ Sir C. BATHURST
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman what does he exactly mean by theother persons or bodies of persons interested"?Of course, we understand that in these matters the parents have a locus standi, no doubt as the guardians of the children, but this may possibly open the door to somewhat vexatious interference on the part of persons who have not really the right to a say in the matter. It is a very vague expression, and I think the Committee is perfectly entitled to know who arethe persons or bodies of persons interested.Everyone ought to be interested.
§ Sir C. BATHURST
If that is so, according to the hon. Member's interpretation, everyone in the neighbourhood, whether directly connected with the family of the child or not, is perfectly entitled to have a say in the scheme and in the matter of the child's education. I only desire to know what is the exact meaning of those words, and what are contemplated by their insertion?
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
The hon. and gallant Member who last spoke has raised a perfectly legitimate question, if I may say so, as to who are the persons to be entitled to be heard in connection with the Amendment, but it appears to me the great advantage of the Amendment is that not only parents, but any other persons or body of persons interested in education, which ought to be an interest common to all people, will have the right to make representations to the local education authority. This is not a question of persons having the right to overrule or block a scheme, but simply giving them the right to make representations to the local education authority, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman would not object to any persons or body of persons having the right to make representations. These words carry out the undertaking the right hon. Gentleman gave, and I desire to thank him for them.
§ Mr. KING
I must protest against the attitude taken up by superior people here and elsewhere, of whom we have an example in the hon. and gallant Member for Wilton (Sir C. Bathurst). He objects to anybody except a superior person such as he is himself, or those like him, having any interest in popular education. Let 2293 me remind him what the fact was. From 1870 to 1902 we lived under school boards and under elementary education Acts. Under those Acts any ratepayer had a right at any reasonable time to go into an education office and see any scheme, or proposal, or letter, or book, or order, or directions. Any paper in the office was open to any ratepayer. As a matter of fact, it was soon discovered that rate payers, whenever they wanted gross scandals, especially in connection with voluntary schools—
§ Mr. KING
I will leave the hon. Member for Wilton, and I come to the President of the Board of Education. Do let us have important Amendments on the Paper. It really is rather trying and it leads people astray not to have them on the Paper. It misled the hon. Member for Wilton, and it has led me perhaps. Do let us have them on the Paper and it will save a good deal of temper, and make progress.
Sir F. BANBBRY
I do not think the hon. Member's attack on my hon. and gallant Friend opposite was at all justified.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
He described my hon. and gallant Friend as a superior person, which in the correct sense of the word he undoubtedly is, but he was not justified in using the phrase in the way in which he did use it. I think my hon. Friend was absolutely justified in asking who are the persons who are interested in education. Supposing I went before the local authority, and asked several questions, or took up a certain attitude, the local authority might say to me, "Are you a person interested in education?" The hon. Gentleman opposite might say I was not a person interested in education, and might allude to certain speeches I have made here to say he was justified in so saying. However that may be, I think it is necessary that it should be clearly understood as to what is meant by a person interested in education. In my humble opinion there is a distinct body of people who have a right to be represented, and whose right, which should be specified in the Bill, cannot be denied. I agree with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. King) that, 2294 if possible, these Amendments should be put on the Paper. Seeing it is so close on eleven o'clock, I think we might adjourn the Debate, so that the Amendment might be on the Paper when we meet again. It is very important that it should be decided who are the people who have the right to appear in this matter.
I respond at once to the challenge of the right hon. Baronet. The Clause deals with continuation schools and the question of young persons, etc. It is obviously necessary that the local education authority should make inquiry into the suggested scheme, so that there might be the least disturbance with industry. The schemes cannot be worked out without a good deal of consultation with persons interested in the employment of young persons. I apologise for the Amendment not being on the Paper, but I thought it would really suit the convenience of the Committee if, after hearing the four Amendments from different quarters of the House, I attempted to frame an Amendment embodying the ideas.
§ Mr. PETO
I commend the framing of one Amendment. But we are at the beginning of a new Clause in the Bill, and seeing it is nearly eleven o'clock, seeing also this is a manuscript Amendment of the Government, would it not be as well to start with it when we next discuss this Bill? The right hon. Gentleman says the Amendment provides for consultation with employers and others engaged in various industries. So far I agree that one of the blots in the Bill is that the whole way through the parent is hardly anywhere considered.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Tuesday next.