HC Deb 16 October 1918 vol 110 cc234-40

4. In the Education (Scotland) Act, 1901

In Section two, for the words "after nine o'clock at night from the first day of April to the first day of October, and after seven o'clock at night from the first day of October to the first day of April there shall be substituted the words on any day on which he is required to attend school before the close of school hours on that day, or on any day before six o'clock in the morning or after eight o'clock in the evening."

5. In the Education (Scotland) Act, 1908(b) The expenses which may be sanctioned by minutes of the Department under paragraph (7) of Section three shall include the travelling and personal expenses of the members of the education authority of a county necessarily incurred in attending meetings of the authority or any committee thereof, and also contributions by any education authority to any association of such authorities concerned in the consideration of educational questions.

6. The Department may by order at any time after the passing of this Act make such further adaptations in the provisions of any Act (including any local Act and any provisional order duly confirmed, and any scheme under the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Act, 1882) as may seem to them necessary to make those provisions conform with the provisions of this Act, and any order so made shall operate as if enacted in this Act: Provided that nothing in this provision shall prejudice or affect any application to the court of sessions under Section twenty of the said Act of 1882.


I beg to move to leave out paragraph 4.

This is a drafting Amendment. The proposed adaptation of Section 2 of the Education Act, 1901, has become unnecessary owing to the Employment of Children Act, 1903, which is embodied in an amended form in Clause 16 of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in paragraph 5 (b), after the word "include" ["shall include the travelling and personal expenses"], to insert in the Bill the words "uniform allowances for."

The Amendment seeks to make uniform the travelling expenses and subsistence allowances provided for in the Bill. I think that the travelling and personal expenses allowed to members of boards should be uniform. Under present conditions, in connection with certain of our local authorities, there is a difference in the expenses allowed. Some members are allowed to charge first class, whilst others charge third-class railway fares. As to personal expenses, if the member happens to be a working man, his personal expenses are fixed at a very low figure; if a professional man they are fixed very much higher. We think that is very unfair. Whatever is allowed for travelling and personal expenses ought to be of a uniform character.


If my right hon. Friend waits until I move my Amendment which immediately follows his on the Order Paper, he will probably find that the present Amendment is unnecessary. At any rate, if he does not reach that conclusion, it is open to him to move an Amendment to my Amendment. I conceive I have met the views he expressed upstairs—as I hope to explain to the House in a moment—quits fully, and I think generously, in my Amendment. Therefore I would suggest to my right hon. Friend not at this stage to press his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move in Paragraph 5 (b) to leave out the words, the travelling and personal expenses of the members of the education authority of a county necessarily incurred in attending meetings of the authority or any committee thereof, and also. and to insert instead thereof the words, (i) travelling expenses necessarily incurred in attending meetings of an education authority or any committee thereof; (ii) an allowance at uniform rates to be prescribed by the Department in respect of other personal expenses necessarily incurred and time necessarily lost from ordinary employment in attending such meetings; and (iii) The history of this Amendment I can narrate to the House in a very few minutes. When my right hon. Friend moved his Amendment in Committee upstairs to the effect that members of education authorities, in addition to re-imbursement for expenses, should be compensated for time lost from remunerative employment, I expressed sympathy with his view. I conceived it was highly desirable that we should have in these education authorities the co-operation of all sections of the community. Further, I expressed the view that the co-operation of labour, in particular, was, in my humble judgment, indispensable. Lastly, that that co-operation could not be reasonably expected or secured unless some provision of the kind which my right hon. Friend pleaded for was made in the Bill. I gave an undertaking to consider the matter before the Report stage, and I indicated that I thought a flat rate of compensation would be the proper way in which to meet the request. The Amendment which I have put on the Paper is based upon Section 3, Sub-section (7) of the Act of 1908, which provides that it shall be lawful to pay reasonable expenses to ensure the proper discharge of a member's duties. The Amendment I am submitting proposes to provide, firstly, for travelling expenses incurred in attending the meetings of education authorities or committees; and, secondly, an allowance of a uniform rate in respect of other personal expenses necessarily incurred and time lost from ordinary employment in attending these meetings. It would be impossible in regard to time lost to take into account the circumstances of individual cases. You might have a labourer or a miner who lose so, many shillings, and you might have a doctor or a barrister who might lose a 100 guinea fee. I do not think any guarantee of compensation apart from a flat rate is really conceivable or workable. Accordingly, I have proposed that in the Minute of the Department regulating this matter a standard allowance in consideration of time lost in remunerative employment shall be fixed at a figure such as would certainly include a well-paid artisan, and this allowance will be claimed by all who have necessarily incurred loss of remuneration through attending these meetings, whether the actual amount is above or below the amount of standard allowance. I think the exact figure will be a matter for careful consideration, and it can be raised from time to time if the Minute on the Table of the House is not satisfactory. Having considered with every sympathy the arguments put forward by my right hon. Friend, it seems to me and those who advise me that this is the best means of meeting the case he has made, which, I think, requires and deserves to be met in a sympathetic way.


I see the President of the Board of Education in his place. May I ask him whether it is contemplated to extend this procedure to England, and, if so, how these fees are going to be arrived at? It seems to me to be a proposal which will operate very unfairly. I do not know at what amount the flat rate will be fixed, but if it is fixed at £10, then the barrister or doctor who loses a 100 guineas fee would lose £90, whereas the artisan who only lost £l would gain £9. This may be the only way out of the difficulty, but it seems to me to be a way that will lead to very considerable injustice and expense. If it is going to be extended to England, I should certainly object to it being brought forward. After all, it must be remembered that these people do this work because they think they are doing some good to the country, and if they are going to get all their out-of-pocket expenses, and, in addition, some hypothetical sum of money which might or might not represent what they would have earned, seems to me to be a rather extraordinary proposal. As the Minister of Education is here, and as I attach very great importance to his opinion, I hope he will reply to my question.


On a point of Order. I do not know whether it is open to a Minister to alter the rates, but you ruled that an Amendment of my hon. Friend was out of order on the Report stage because it would increase the rates. This Amendment would certainly increase the rates.


I had my doubts, but I thought it better to allow the discussion to develop. I think it is quite clear that if this Amendment be carried there will be a charge imposed. That being so, I am bound to hold that it cannot be inserted on the Report stage.


Would it be in order to introduce this charge in another place?


Of course, if the Government attach importance to it, the proper course would be to recommit the Bill.


May I ask the Government if they will be good enough to recommit the Bill so that effect may be given to their intention?


I should like very strongly to urge that, because, as the members of the Committee will remember, this was distinctly promised by the right hon. Gentleman upstairs. There was no question as to accepting the principle; the only difficulty was as to the uniform rate. I would therefore strongly urge the right hon. Gentleman to recommit the Bill for this purpose.


I hope that we are going to have a promise from the Secretary for Scotland to recommit the Bill, in order to give effect to what he has just stated to the House. I was more than pleased to hear the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and, in view of your ruling, I hope that he will promise to recommit the Bill. This is very necessary for the successful administration of the Act.


I shall consider very carefully the position which has arisen as the result of Mr. Speaker's ruling. I understand that the Bill is to be taken again to-morrow, and if after a night's reflection it seems the proper course to adopt, it will be quite possible to recommit the Bill. But I do not want to give a definite undertaking to-night.


I beg to move to leave out paragraph 5 (b).

The Educational Endowment (Scotland) Act laid down a certain procedure which was to be adopted in dealing with any particular endowment. There have been many schemes agreed to between the trustees of the various funds and the Department without going to the Commission appointed, and they are operating now. Then a great many went to the Commission and were approved by the trustees and the Department, and they are in operation now. I do not like the idea that the Department should by Order set aside what has been done under the Act of 1882, and say that a certain fund shall go to a certain educational authority. It ought not to have power to interfere with what has already been done under any Act. I have put this Amendment down in order to find out what is in the mind of the Lord Advocate or of the Secretary for Scotland, and whether they cannot protect these schemes, which are working satisfactorily, from being interfered with by the Department under this Bill.


I desire to second the Amendment.

This is a most drastic paragraph giving the Department extraordinary powers, and I submit it is inadvisable that any Department should have the power to alter any Act of Parliament if and when it thinks necessary. I, therefore, hope the Secretary for Scotland will not insist on this paragraph.


I hope it will save further discussion if I say a few words now. Of course, there are plenty of precedents for asking powers to make adaptations in such cases as these. My hon. Friend who has moved this Amendment seems to apprehend that this may involve a really serious interference with schemes of endowed schools settled under the Act of 1882. These are technical matters which I do not propose to go into now, but, as I told the hon. Gentleman upstairs, I am of opinion that his fears are groundless or at any rate very greatly exaggerated. Still, we have, in order to remove any doubt, fully considered the question, and have decided that we can afford to dispense altogether with the words in this Clause which relate to Endowment Act schemes. I shall, if so desired, move the omission of the words "and any scheme under the Educational Endowment (Scotland) Act, 1882," and then the proviso at the end of the paragraph will also come out. The result will be that the schemes under the Act of 1882 will be protected from being touched at all.


I am prepared to accept that suggestion.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: In paragraph 6, leave out the words "and any scheme under the Endowments (Scotland) Act, 1882." Leave out the words "Provided that nothing in this provision shall prejudice or affect any application to the Court of Session under Section twenty of the said Act of 1882."—[Mr. Clyde.]