§ Considered in Committee under Standing Order 71A.
§ [Mr. ROBERT YOUNG in the Chair.]
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session (hereinafter referred to as the said Act') to raise to fifteen years the age up to which parents are required to cause their children to receive efficient elementary instruction and to attend school; to make provision for maintenance allowances in respect of children attending school up to that age who are over the age of fourteen years; to empower local education authorities to make arrangements with respect to non-provided elementary schools and to facilitate the withdrawal from school of children for religious observance and instruction, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of any sums by which the grants in aid of education payable to local education authorities under section one hundred and eighteen of the Education Act, 1921 (as amended by any subsequent enactment), and the regulations made thereunder are increased by reason of any expenditure which such authorities may lawfully incur under the said Act."—(King's recommendation signified.)
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Sir Charles Trevelyan)
The expenditure to which this Resolution refers falls under three heads. First, there is the provision of extra accommodation, teaching staff and so on for the new age group which will be brought into the schools by raising the school age from 14 to 15. As regards this item, the Committee will see, from page v. of the Financial Memorandum, that the total estimated annual charge is £2,500,000, of which £2,100,000, or 84 per cent., will fall on the Exchequer. I have taken for the purposes of this Estimate the year 1938, as by that time the children born in the years immediately following the War, when the numbers were exceptionally high, will have passed through the schools, and the numbers in the age group 14–15 will then be more or less stabilised. It will be remembered that in this connection my predecessor issued a circular regarding the raising of the school age to which was attached a memorandum by the Government Actuary indicating this stabilisation. I think that without doubt it is better to take a figure that may be regarded as a permanent annual charge, rather than to take the intermediate period.
1648 I want, however, to make this observation about these figures. Exact estimating in this matter is really quite impossible, and I will give the Committee the reason. Some complaints have been made at the Financial Memorandum saying that it is impossible to give definite figures, but the reason is fairly obvious. We are raising the school age, but that is only one item in the whole of the reorganisation that is going on. If we were dealing with the whole of the reorganisation, we might give figures which were based on the local authorities' estimates and so on, but we are dealing with only one item in the reorganisation, namely, the raising of the school age. For instance, no one can tell exactly how many of the increased number of teachers that there will be in the next few years are to be attributed to the raising of the school age, and how many to reorganisation in general. We have calculated that 7,500 teachers will about represent the increased number due to the raising of the school age, but that is necessarily speculative, and, even when the whole of the reorganisation is finished, a year or two hence, we shall still be in the dark as to exactly how many of this increased number of teachers is to be attributed to the raising of the school age alone.
§ Mr. ANNESLEY SOMERVILLE
Does that figure of 7,500 include the additional number of teachers necessary to reduce the number in classes above 50?
§ Sir C. TREVELYAN
No, it does not include all the increase, but in raising the school age we are calculating, in the range of what will be the upper classes in senior schools, upon classes of not more than 40, as my hon. Friend no doubt knows. My estimate of £2,500,000 is, of course, mainly made up of the salaries of the additional teachers, which will cost over £1,800,000. Other matters to be provided for are loan charges on additional buildings, the maintenance of buildings, the provision of books, and allowance for overhead charges. The total of this last item amounts to about £700,000. As I have said, of this sum £2,100,000 will be borne by the Exchequer, leaving only £400,000 to be borne by the rates. If the Committee are surprised at that proportion, they can see the reasons for the high proportion falling upon the taxes in the note on page 1649 v. of the Financial Memorandum. The very large proportion borne by taxation comes, first of all, from the special increase of the building grant from 20 per cent. to 50 per cent., which has been arranged for during the reorganisation period. In the second place, there is the fact that so large a proportion of the increased expense is due to the salaries of teachers, of which 60 per cent. is paid by the State; and, lastly, it results from the effect of the capitation grant of 36s. per child in average attendance. This increased sum will be paid to the local authorities, while the formula for paying the grant is not otherwise changed. There is no increase, for instance, in the reduction of the 7d. rate, therefore the 36s. is a net gain to the local authorities.
As regards the second item of expenditure, the provision of maintenance allowances for children in this age group, I have already indicated that the cost of this proposal is again not susceptible of any close estimate. It seems likely that in the first full year, 1932–33, the total cost will amount to £3,000,000. Owing to the temporary increase in the number of children in the schools in the next two years, the cost may rise to £4,300,000 and £4,400,000. As I informed the House yesterday, I asked the representatives of the local authorities to help me by forming a committee to recommend a scale and a procedure for determining eligibility, and I indicated that I proposed in general terms to follow their recommendations.
The committee point out that they have not been concerned to consider what proportion of the school population will be included or excluded by the scales that they decide upon. Therefore, I have had to form some sort of estimate myself. Any material for closely estimating is wanting, but I have had some calculations made and, roughly speaking, my estimate is formed on the basis of approximately 60 per cent. of the children of the new age group becoming eligible for maintenance allowances. With regard to the rate for maintenance allowance's, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has met my request for generous treatment by allowing me to pay grants at the special rate of 60 per cent. Taking the grants and the extra provision of educational facilities together with maintenance allowances, it will be found that the Exchequer 1650 provides 70 per cent. of the whole increased expenditure of raising the school age. I am bound to say I think that is not an ungenerous provision.
I then come to the third item. I am afraid there, from the financial point of view, my estimate will be even more unsatisfactory to those who want accurate figures. It is impossible to make any kind of estimate in regard to contributions by the local authorities as far as voluntary schools are concerned. It will depend, if these proposals are adopted, on local arrangements between the local authorities and the voluntary school managers. There is a whole variety of points of view as to the extent to which those opportunities are likely to be realised in distant parts of the country.
§ Sir C. TREVELYAN
That is quite impossible to say, because the black-listed schools, as such, will not come under the operation of the arrangement. There may be black-listed schools which will be involved in reorganisation, and they may come under it, but blacklisted schools as such will not come under the arrangement. It is impossible to give anything like close figures but I can give one or two instances which may indicate the kind of thing that may occur in the way of saving for local authorities if these clauses come into operation. All that can be definitely said is this. The more these clauses are utilised, the more saving there is likely to be to local authorities and the public Exchequer, because if there is no arrangement with the voluntary shools, it makes it only too likely that the local authority, if it is going to be able to deal with the question of reorganisation, will have to build absolutely new schools of its own which is, as I explained yesterday, an extraordinarily clumsy suggestion—first of all clumsy and secondly expensive, and very likely the local authorities simply would not do it because of its clumsiness and its expense.
In view of that situation, there are one or two counties which have made calculations as to what they would have to do if they had to provide all the new accommodation themselves and there were no arrangement with the voluntary schools. I take the county of Somerset, which 1651 calculates that it would have to spend £135,000, and I take Oxfordshire, which calculates that it would have to spend £80,000, and they calculate that, if they could come to any reasonable accommodation with the voluntary schools, they would probably spend half that sum, or less. These agreements, if they were entered into, would attract the same rate of grants as expenditure incurred by the local authorities and the council schools, namely, that if the expenditure is incurred within the three-year period ending 31st August, 1932, the grant will be paid at the special rate of 50 per cent., as it is now being paid for the rest of the reorganisation purposes.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
The right hon. Baronet says that in Oxfordshire and Somerset, if an arrangement is come to, the expenditure will be about half what it would be if they had to provide their own accommodation. Does that sort of average apply to the whole country?
§ Sir C. TREVELYAN
I cannot say, because the local authorities have not in very many cases made an estimate, or considered the matter as closely as Somerset has done. You may have five villages, each with a school, and they want to make a senior school. They would convert one of these schools into a senior school. They would build two classrooms on to it and it would become a workable proposition. If they cannot touch that school, they have to build an entirely new school at the public expense in one of the villages which has already got a school. It is obvious that for educational, economic and financial reasons it would be an enormous advantage to get voluntary schools reconditioned instead of new schools built.
§ Sir C. TREVELYAN
I can only repeat that I am sorry that in regard to all these things it is not possible to give accurate and exact estimates to the House. In the nature of things, it is impossible. I have done my best, and I hope that the Committee will be satisfied.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Where in the Bill or in this Financial 1652 Resolution will my right hon. Friend find the three years' period laid down? It is in the circular, but there is nothing in the Bill to show the three years' period.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Does it mean that an agreement has to be come to within three years, and almost all work has to be finished, or have the authorities three years in which to come to an agreement?
§ Sir C. TREVELYAN
No. The grant is going on for the three-year period. If the local authorities undertaking any of their building policies want to utilise the grant, they must have taken certain preliminary steps towards those building operations before the grant period is out. That will apply to the voluntary school arrangement as it applies now to the provided school arrangement.
§ Sir C. TREVELYAN
The 50 per cent. grant. That is to say, that what will be necessary will be for the agreement to have been entered into before that period and for arrangements to have been made for the buildings to be begun before that period is up, if they want to secure that particular grant. The local authority, of course, can subsequently go on building schools with the 20 per cent. grant, but the 50 per cent. grant will cease at the end of three years.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
I rise to ask this Committee to reject this Financial Resolution for a variety of reasons. The right hon. Gentleman is asking us to give him a blank cheque for purposes which we on this side do not consider beneficial to the country. He has pointed out that the financial provision falls naturally into three parts, and he has freely admitted that nobody can possibly estimate how much the proposals are going to cost. It was pointed out yesterday by the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Mr. E. Evans) that the Financial Memorandum dealing with them says, of the first, that it is not practicable to make a close estimate; of the second, that the cost of the proposal is not susceptible of close estimate; and of the third, that 1653 there is no data on which it will be practicable to frame any reasonable estimate of the cost. There are many of us who, although we have had a great deal less experience than the right hon. Gentleman but nevertheless a certain amount of experience of dealing with these matters, think that the cost of these proposals has been very much under-estimated indeed, and that when they come finally to be paid for the right hon. Gentleman will find that they will be a great deal more expensive than he had previously thought. I do not suppose that there is any member of this Committee who likes giving a blank cheque to anyone. This country is certainly in no position to hand out blank cheques at the moment. If it were, and if we had to give a blank cheque to anybody there is no one to whom I would sooner give it than the right hon. Gentleman, but I contend that this is not the moment to scatter public money about on an effort, when, for obvious reasons, we cannot, when we pass this Resolution, know what it is going to cost us.
I want to examine the three lines into which this matter falls. First of all we have the maintenance allowances. It is a popular supposition on the opposite side that we on these benches are opposed utterly and entirely to maintenance allowances. That is not a fact. Maintenance allowances, granted, as they are at present, as a reward of merit for children who have been, through ability, given the opportunity of a more extensive education, are quite proper, but maintenance allowances as the jam to coat the pill of an unpalatable Measure is somthing to which we do not subscribe, and we do not see why we should be called upon to pay them. I cannot understand why, if this free education is the boon it is always supposed to be, we should bribe people to accept it. I use the word "bribe" advisedly, because we know that this proposal for which we are asked to pay to-day is simply the beginning, either in local elections or Parliamentary elections, as may ultimately be decided, of another line of bribing the electorate with public money. It will always be the same story, "Vote for me, and I will increase your maintenance allowance," or, "Vote for me, and I will give the maintenance allowance to somebody else." [Interruption.]
§ The CHAIRMAN
At the beginning of the debate I would point out, as I did yesterday, that a large number of hon. Members wish to speak, that by interruptions hon. Members protract the proceedings, and that of the hon. Members who desire to speak fewer are likely to get in. Also, I shall take note of the interruptors on both sides, and assume that they have made their speeches in interruptions.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
I thank you for your protection, Mr. Young, and wish to make it plain that I do not wish to say anything to goad hon. Members opposite to interrupt. My remarks were not, I regret to say, confined to one set of politics. It is a deliberate temptation on a matter like this to offer to bribe the electorate with public money. So much for that aspect of the question. We on this side are opposed definitely to the principle of public maintenance unless there is a special reason for it, and we maintain that there is no special reason in this case. If you are saying, as this House has said, that it is right for Children to come under this maintenance Clause and that it is wrong for them to be wage-earners, why do you give them this maintenance for not being wage-earners? It passes my comprehension.
There was another aspect which was put very admirably yesterday by the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. McShane). I do not agree with his conclusions, although I certainly agree with some of the things he said. He referred to the late Mr. Wheatley's view of the aristocracy of the slums, and he said:We shall have a similar type of thing here. Those who are on the right side of the line are to get the maintenance allowance, and will be the new aristocracy and the people to be envied." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th May, 1930; col. 1609, Vol. 239.]That is a very dangerous thing. The right hon. Gentleman yesterday told us that he must have a means limit, he could not afford to do without it. We contend that all means limits are obsolete; that we cannot afford this means limit and that, therefore, these maintenance allowances are unjustifiable and should be swept out of the scheme. Let me turn to the question of the voluntary schools. I congratulate the President of the Board of Education not only on the courage and, if I may say so with all modesty, on the good sense with which 1655 he has tackled this part of the proposal. Nobody likes it as it stands. I do not like it myself, and I should like to see it amended. Perhaps I may have an opportunity in Committee in explaining how I should like to see it amended. But the whole point is that it is a settlement. The raising of the school age is going to kill reorganisation in rural areas but some such settlement of this difficulty is the only thing which gives rural areas the ghost of a chance of carrying it out. I hope hon. Members will not approach it in the spirit of the hon. Member for the Welsh University but will realise that however little we may like it that it is a settlement. Let us keep our own point of view but see that the settlement in some form or another goes through. There was one Argument put forward by the right hon. Gentleman on this Financial Resolution to which I must dissent. In the Memorandum it says:Accordingly the net effect of the proposals will be a saving of public expenditure.He explained it; and I know what he means. He means that if the reorganisation and the raising of the school age are properly carried out in both cases it will be cheaper to do it under these proposals than in any other way. Without these proposals they would never have been done. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Because local authorities in rural areas cannot afford it. It is absolutely impossible for them to find the money to build the new schools which will be necessary to carry out reorganisation in rural areas; without some such proposals the reorganisation would not be carried out. With regard to the raising of the school age, the right hon. Gentleman has said that it is impossible to separate it from reorganisation. It would not be in order for me to take them together, because we are dealing only with the proposal to raise the school age, but these proposals for reorganisation do complicate the finances in rural areas. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman has increased the building grant to 50 per cent. That is extremely generous, but it is not quite so generous as it appears on the surface.
I will not weary the Committee by giving the formula under which the grants of the Board of Education are assessed. It is a very complicated one, but there 1656 is an over-riding clause which says that the grants of the Board of Education to local authorities shall not be less than 50 per cent. of the whole. I do not know how many authorities have availed themselves of that over-riding clause. Possibly the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to tell us later on, but I know that there are a fair number, and to these at least this extra 50 per cent. building grant is nothing like the extra money it is made out to be.
What is happening in the rural areas? It was admitted yesterday that education in the rural areas is lagging behind the towns and urban centres, and the reason is that the education wanted there is quite different to the education wanted in the towns. It must be adapted to the rural mind, not, as the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) said, to rural occupations. It must be adapted to the rural mind, which is just as good as the urban mind, but different. That has not been realised in the past. Education authorities are just awaking to it and are starting to put their house in order. A ray of hope was given by the reorganisation scheme, and some of us have tried to get rural education committees to launch out, disregarding more than they have in the past the expense in order to get real rural training. We were stopped. In my own county, where we hoped at considerable expense to start a new type of elementary school, we were stopped. Along comes this proposal to raise the school age, with its increased burden on local authorities in all directions, and these new schemes have all gone by the board. In my own county schemes which were coming forward for reorganisation have been swept aside. We were told that we could not reorganise on those lines, and we shall have to find so much money under the new method that we could not afford to do it.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman has education at heart. He has had a great deal of experience of the subject. He was connected with his present office, if not before I was born, long before I reached the compulsory age at which my parents were under an obligation to see that I had an efficient education. [Interruption.] I hope hon. Members opposite do not mean to imply that my parents did not carry out their obligation? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, 1657 hear!"] It is extraordinary how easily one can read the minds of hon. Members opposite. In the debate last year the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley) used an expression which I fear has been too bitterly realised. He feared that the President of the Board of Education was approaching this problem with a town mind. That is what he has done, and with the best will in the world he is thrusting rural education back into the abyss from which we were trying to rescue it. Once again the town child is to get better facilities for education than the country child. We were hoping, under the reorganisation proposals, that we should be able to provide proper facilities for the rural child, who should have a square deal in this matter as compared with his brothers and sisters in the towns. These proposals are extravagant and unnecessary. In the first place, the country has not the money, and even if it had this is not the best educational way of spending it. For these reasons, and also because I think the proposals will actually retard the progress of education in the country districts, I hope the Committee will reject this Financial Resolution.
§ Mr. FOOT
I have listened with consideraible interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Beaumont) and I notice that with regard to certain Clauses affected by the Money Resolution he is very anxious that nothing should be done to interfere with them. He said that the settlement that had been arrived at, to which those particular Clauses applied, should be left untouched. Holding the opinion that the settlement should not be endangered, why did he vote against the Second Reading of the Bill? If other hon. Members had acted on the same lines as himself, the Bill would have been as dead as mutton to-day, and the settlement upon which he now lays so much store would have gone with the rest.
§ Mr. FOOT
The hon. Member's position is more confused now than it was before he interrupted me. If the hon. Member will think out the matter during the weekend, perhaps at the beginning of next week he will be able to tell us what is 1658 his position in regard to it. I congratulate the President of the Board of Education upon the introduction of the Bill and the fact that he was able to stand in a great succession in this House to lay before us proposals in which he has an hereditary interest. We are dealing with the Money Resolution, which is inextricably interwoven with the Bill. The main proposal of the Bill is the raising of the school age, and the interruptions which took place yesterday—I have taken note of what you have said, Mr. Young, about interruptions, and it seems to have had its result in the deathly silence which prevails—related to the unanswerable argument as to the raising of the school age. There is no one who would resist the raising of the school age who would not observe it in his own circumstances.
My experience is like the experience of many other people. The main sacrifice that I have had to make has been the sacrifice on behalf of education. I have had seven children to educate and I know very well, what every other father knows, that it would have been an irreparable damage if I had been compelled through economic circumstances to cut off the education of my boys and girls at the age of 14. If I had done it carelessly or wantonly, I should have disregarded the first claim on me as a father, and, if I had done it from pressure of economic circumstances, I should have looked upon my children as having been grievously used. Two of my children are just reaching the age of 14, and all parents realise that just at that time children are beginning to appreciate what education really is. As the right hon. Gentleman said yesterday, those of us who can afford it consider that up to the age of 13 or 14 the preparatory school has been only preliminary. Our great concern then is where the boys or girls shall be sent to be educated. When we speak of that, we are speaking more particularly of the years following upon the age of 14. Therefore, I should regard it as being inconsistent with my position in this House to deny to others what would be the first claim in my own family.
I do not intend to discuss the second part of the Money Resolution dealing with the maintenance grant. I hope that this part of the Bill, in operation, will enable us to stop talking about the edu- 1659 cation ladder. I hate the suggestion of an educational ladder. It suggests that only one can be on the top rung of the ladder at a time, and that others behind are liable to have their fingers stepped on by those who are at the front. What we want is the open road; the most inviting road that we can make, in order that there shall be education as far as possible at the disposal of all the people in this country. The word "bribe" has been used. That is a hard word, and it has been used by the hon. Member for Aylesbury. There are probably few of us who have not had the advantage, at one time or another, of a scholarship. Some of the most distinguished men who are serving in this House and some of those whose names shine like stars in the history of this country would never have had their opportunity in this House, or their opportunity for public service generally, had it not been for scholarships. I cannot understand why a scholarship should be looked upon as a perfectly proper part of our educational system and that a grant made by the State in order to help the poorest members of the community, should be looked upon as a bribe, and something to be despised. I should be glad if some hon. Member would describe to us the difference between a scholarship, of which many of us have had the advantage, and this trifling endowment it is proposed by the State to help those in the community who are in the heaviest need.
When I turn to another part of the Bill I am sorry that I cannot speak with the same commendation. My words must be, as was said by the Parliamentary Secretary yesterday, more in sorrow than in anger. Yesterday the case of the Roman Catholics was put with great courtesy and ability, but we have had nothing as yet said, except a passing reference, to another section of the community, which has played a very historic part in this country, namely, the Nonconformists. The disabilities of Roman Catholics are evident, but they are small compared with the disabilities of the Nonconformists. There are thousands of districts in this country where the Nonconformist child has no opportunity of education except by going to a denominational school, and there are thousands 1660 of schools in this country where a Nonconformist has no right to go as head teacher. His qualifications may be ahead of the rest, but because he is a Nonconformist he has no chance of being accepted for the head teachership of that school. That is a disability which all honest controversialists have recognised, and it is a disability which, unfortunately, this Bill will do nothing to remove.
The hon. Member for the Welsh Universities (Mr. E. Evans) happened to make a passing reference yesterday to the position of the Nonconformists, and, as a result, he was almost whipped. The right hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) said that it was deplorable that any such reference should have been made. He spoke almost as if he was speaking for the Nonconformists, and doubted if what had been said by the hon. Member would be approved by the Nonconformists. I should like to know whether the right hon. Member for Stafford has any authority to speak for the Nonconformists of this country. I thought that in his references yesterday he represented the very arrogant side of the Anglican Church, erecting its mitred front in Court and Parliament. The "Times" newspaper to-day says that it was deplorable that there should have been one such reference. Apparently, in the opinion of the right hon. Member for Stafford and the "Times" newspaper, if we Nonconformists are to speak at all it must be:… in a bondsman's key,With bated breath and whispering humbleness.I want to put some of our difficulties and objections. Our objections are not such as to cause me to vote against the Second Reading of the Bill—I voted for the Second Reading—but they are objections which we intend to urge when the matter comes before the Committee for consideration. I listened with great admiration to the speech made yesterday by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan), but I thought that he dismissed us just in a passing sentence. He spoke of the controversy of 1902 and said that he thought that the time for dogmatic narrowness had gone. In my opinion men like Dr. John Clifford and Salvester Horne were not mere dogmatists or narrow men. I believe that they were standing for very essential and healthy principles in our national life. 1661 I read some time ago a book written by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities, in which he dealt with the life of Montrose, and with great penetration and sympathy told of the struggle between Royalist and Calvinist in the 17th century, and gave due weight to the contentions of both sides. I wish that yesterday he had given a little fuller consideration to the struggle of something like 20 years ago.
I want to suggest that in the end, if we are to have education put at all upon a proper basis we must have a unified national system. An hon. Member who has just spoken has referred to his experience. I had experience for ten years as chairman of an elementary education authority in one of the cities of this country, and I suppose that my experience was the same as that of many who have worked in the education sphere. The great barrier to educational progress is the dual system. The dual system may be necessary, but it is undoubtedly the great barrier to educational progress. It is fair to ask whether this Bill will tend to perpetuate that system or will help to get rid of it. I suggest that it introduces another element besides the dual system, and that we are now to have a third class of school, different from the non-provided school and different from the provided school, and a class which will present further difficulty to the education authorities. It is insisted upon by some of those for whom I have the honour to speak, for instance by the National Free Church Council, which has some right to be heard in this House, that as far as possible we shall get rid of tests for teachers.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
On a point of Order. Has the question of tests for teachers anything to do with the Financial Resolution? I put it to you that the hon. Member is widening the discussion to an enormous extent.
§ Mr. FOOT
On that point of Order. I would draw attention to the words of the Financial Resolution. It is a Resolutionto make arrangements with respect to non-provided elementary schools and to facilitate the withdrawal from school of children for religious observances and instruction, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament. …I want to show how the money that is connected with the scheme involves tests.
§ Mr. FOOT
The Minister of Education when speaking looked towards these benches, as he probably knew whence some of the criticisms on this point would come. He said that in whatever way we looked at the proposals there was the fact that the teachers in these reconditioned schools would be public servants. He was not content with using the phrase once, but used it again and again, and said that that was the great advantage. He also said that much had to be given up by all parties in the controversy, but he added "At any rate we have got that. The teacher in the school that is reconstructed at the public expense is to be a public servant." If I am satisfied upon that point many of my objections to this Bill will go. But I think it is fair to ask the Committee to look at the Clause and to see whether truly the teacher does become a public servant. Who will be his master?Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey.12 n.
The real master will not be the local education authority but the denominational manager, because it is in the terms of the Bill that in the school that, is reconditioned or reconstructed or improved—this will be done entirely at the public expense—the religious education is to remain in the hands of the denominational manager. Let us see the position? We were told just now, in a sort of passing passage by the Minister, that there might be even a black-listed school brought in on account of neglect of statutory duties. The cost of reconditioning may be a great deal more than the actual cost of the building. Yet the denominational managers are to have the absolute control of the religious instruction given in that school. Here is a reconditioned school in which we will assume that there are to be six teachers. The authorities and the denominational managers say, "Four out of six of these teachers are to give the denominational instruction." I do not know how the numbers of the children concerned are to be ascertained. It must be remembered that there is only a minority of the children in the Church of England schools who are children of Church of England 1663 parents. How the number of children for religious instruction is to be decided, is not made clear. But we will assume that as a result of the arrangement made between the education authority and the denominational managers it is decided that four of the teachers are to be subject to the denominational managers' tests.
I want to ask, in what sense can it be said that in the circumstances the four teachers are public servants? See what happens. The time comes when the education authority has to make four appointments. Whatever the qualifications of the applicants may be, along comes the denominational managers and say "That is the test. Please ascertain if these four gentlemen can subscribe to that test. If they can, let us know. You know our addresses. If they cannot, you have no need to trouble." The reply may be "We think that this test is absurd, that it is not a test which ought to be put to the teachers." The denominational managers then say "Will you please concern yourselves with your own business. This is our business under this Act." You may have the managers in one instance doing as they have done—putting in advertisements and asking for applications from a "keen evangelical" or "Must be an Anglo-Catholic." The test is then applied, and the local education authority for the first time in their history have to apply the test without any right of objection on their part. They will say to the applicants, these "public servants," "If you can subscribe to that test there is a chance for you. If the denominational managers like your appearance, or the look of your eyes, there is a chance that you may be accepted as a teacher in that school." If I am wrong in that construction I hope that an answer to my statement will be given.
The matter does not end there. When the teacher has been appointed, who is his master? It is quite true that nominally the power of appointment and dismissal rests with the local authority, but all the time the teacher has to give instruction that is considered suitable. Suitable to whom? Not to the children, but to the denominational managers. It is true that the education authority has a voice in the matter, and that if it dis- 1664 agrees with the denominational managers the case can be submitted to the Board of Education. But imagine the Board of Education in this year of grace, in this century, having to decide as to shades of theological opinion, as to whether a teacher, the public servant in a school wholly maintained out of public money—the very caretaker will be paid out of public money—is giving instruction as desired by the denominational managers! That is the situation in the Bill.
§ Mr. KNIGHT
Bad as the system is of these tests being applied by managers, is it not better than having them applied by priests?
§ Mr. FOOT
I quite agree, but it may be that in some cases although it is nominally the manager who applies the test, it is really the priest who does so. It depends on the degree of control exercised over the manager by the priest or minister concerned. But I wish to quote from a great authority on this question of religious tests for public servants. I want to go back to one whose authority will not be questioned by the right hon. Gentleman—to Oliver Cromwell himself. I read the History of England written by the brother of the right hon. Gentleman, and I may say, incidentally, that I have learned a great deal of my Liberalism from the right hon. Gentleman's brother and father, as well as from himself. In his history of England the right hon. Gentleman's brother says:Oliver Cromwell saved the free churches and free thinkers from destruction by those of the narrow way. Cromwell shows to what a height the plant Man can sometimes grow.I shall give Oliver Cromwell's opinion on this part of the Bill.
§ Mr. FOOT
I do not propose to make any comment upon it, but I give the quotation as bearing precisely on this point concerning public servants. Major-General Crawford cashiered one of his captains for the supposed offence of holding erroneous opinions in religion, and Cromwell wrote this reply in March, 1643:Surely you are not well advised thus to turn off one so faithful in the cause who was able to serve you as this man has. Aye, but the man is an Anabaptist! Are you sure of that? Admit that he be, shall that 1665 render him incapable of serving the public? Sir, the State in choosing men to serve it takes no notice of their opinions. If they be willing, faithfully to serve it, that satisfies.
§ Mr. FOOT
My hon. Friend will give the next two sentences. I wish, following that, to quote the resolution adopted by the Free Church Council upon this very point—and I think they have done their best here to arrive at a settlement:—That the appointment of the teaching staffs including head teachers of such schools shall be placed entirely in the hands of local education authorities and that those authorities be not called upon to apply any denominational tests in regard to such appointments.
§ Mr. FOOT
That was passed by the Free Church Council only a few weeks ago at Nottingham. Of course the Bill had not then been brought in, but the discussions were proceeding. I will simply say upon this point that there are considerable Nonconformist bodies in this country who have expressed themselves as being apprehensive of this Measure. There are just one or two suggestions which I have to make before concluding my remarks. We ask that these proposals shall be considered as temporary and shall not be thought of as a settlement. We do not, in any sense, abandon our protest against the dual system and our hope that it will be wiped away in the course of time. Therefore, we ask in the first place, that these proposals should be looked upon as temporary proposals to meet an emergency. If in any sense they are to be taken as a settlement, they will certainly meet with opposition from some.
Further, we ask that some provision should be made as to transfers from provided to non-provided schools. I do not know if there is anything in the Bill in this respect. I give the example of a town in Cornwall which I know very well where there are two schools. One is a school which was formerly the Wesleyan school and is now the council school, and the other is the Church school. The system of reorganisation is intended to make the Church school the school for all children up to it years, and the other 1666 is to be the school for all children above 11 years. What protection is to be given for the children who will be taken out of the council school and put into the denominational school? Is that point fully covered by Clause 3? Is there any condition attaching to the grant that, in instances such as I have given, the normal religious education shall be that of the agreed syllabus of the local education authority? Under the system of reorganisation, are we going to insist that pupils transferred from a publicly controlled council school to a denominational school shall go into a school where the normal system of religious education will be the agreed syllabus of the authority. That point ought to be covered.
I think there is also considerable danger in the suggestion made yesterday that denominational trustees were to be asked in some instances to make no contributions. The danger there is that in the case of those education committees on which the denominationalists are in an overwhelming majority, there will be no chance of getting any payment for the reconditioning of schools, because they will be negotiating with themselves. Although nominally distinct bodies they will really be the same people and it would be wise to consider in Committee whether some allowance should not be asked for. Considerable advantages are to be given and some specific minimum contribution ought to be made by denominational managers. There is also, I think, a question for discussion in the matter of the transfer of children from one non-provided school to another non-provided school of a different denomination. That case arises sometimes. I belong to a church which has made very considerable sacrifices to have its own schools. The Wesleyan Methodists of this country, it is true, came into the national scheme later on, but there are still in the country in many towns and villages two non-provided schools belonging to different denominations and some provision will have to be made as to the transfer of children from one such school to another of a different denomination. I am very hopeful that there will not be fierce antagonism even upon this question which has aroused so much controversy in the past, but I have felt it necessary to state our case. I want a 1667 fair field for all. I do not want any more than others to go back toold unhappy far-off days, and battles long ago.I know what the difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman have been and I think that in this matter he has shown considerable forbearance and patience. I do not want to add to his burdens or his difficulties; but some of the things upon which I have spoken are regarded as essential by those for whom I speak. He must not be surprised to see that many of us are putting down Amendments which we think will be not in the interests of this or that denomination, but first of all the national interest. We think that they will help to produce a Bill in which above the interests of churches, above the interests of creeds and warring sects, we shall keep steadily before us the advantage of the child and particularly the child who comes from the poorest home and has the heaviest disability.
§ Mr. EDE
I am sure that no one on this side will dissent from the way in which the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) has dealt with a very difficult subject. There is only one Member of this House who is more keen on Cromwell than is the hon. Member for Bodmin, and that is myself, and, curiously enough, I looked up the same passage to decide whether or not I would quote it, and I came to the conclusion that, as it was desirable that one should be brief, a complete quotation might take rather too long. Therefore, I am obliged to the hon. Member for having quoted the prelude to the part of the quotation that I desired to read, and I will therefore carry on from that point, and read to the Committe the next two sentences that I challenged him to quote:I advised yousaid Oliver Cromwell—to bear with men of different minds from yourself; if you had done it when I advised you to do it, I think you would not have had so many stumbling blocks in your way.Now I come to the particular sentence that John Morley underlined, like the last sentence that the hon. Member read was underlined:Take heed of being sharp or too easily sharpened by others against those to whom you can object little but that they square 1668 not with you in every opinion concerning matters of religion.It is evident that there is no desire that the great sharpening against people who do not exactly square with us in matters of religion, that was one of the distinguishing features of the early years of this century in educational controversy, should be brought into this discussion today or into the deliberations on this Bill. When this century opened, although I was not very old, I was a member of the party of which the hon. Member for Bodmin is a member.
§ Mr. EDE
I hope the hon. Member will realise that the Chairman promised that he would not call on people who interrupted, although he did not announce what punishment he would visit on those who interrupted after they had spoken. As I have said in this House before, I remember sitting up in the Strangers' Gallery and listening to my right hon. Friend the present Minister of Education when he spoke on the Second Reading of Mr. Balfour's Education Bill, and from a point almost where the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Beaumont) spoke just now, Mr. Haldane rose to address the House, and announced that he was unable to take part in the controversy, because he believed that the Bill was something that was going to increase educational facilities in the country.
We, on this side, in giving our support to this Bill, and in voting the necessary money for it to-day, do so because we desire to recognise the hard facts of the situation. No one is farther removed in theology from the Roman Catholic than myself, but I realise that there is the Roman Catholic type in mind, which says "My child is not being educated unless it is in a Roman Catholic atmosphere throughout the whole course of its education." I may even think that that is a narrowing influence, but still I recognise it as a fact, and I am not going to deny to the Catholic child, because of the faith of its parents, the opportunity to get as good an education as the child of non-Catholic parents.
Therefore, I have to recognise the fact that, while I might like a unified national system of education, in which the Cowper-Temple Clause should be the only 1669 clause governing religious instruction, if all the people in the country were like me, I am far too much a hater of Acts of Uniformity ever to desire that everyone shall be like me. I will go a step further, and say that, if you have no right to penalise a child because of the faith of its parents, you have no right to penalise a child because of the faith of the school managers, and that is what happens in the single school districts. There, the child's educational facilities are very often determined by the faith of the school managers.
I was educated in an elementary school in the years before the Act of 1902. My father, about once a year, used to go to a public meeting that was called to decide whether or not the town should have a school board. He always went prepared to move the resolution that a school board should be established, and generally the meeting was opened by the chairman announcing that the Epsom Grand Stand Association had come to the rescue of the voluntary school, and that the voluntary school was to continue because they had found the money. The President of the Board of Education may laugh, but he knows quite well that that was the kind of thing that went on up and down the country. The Consett Iron Co. had a school which was subscribed for similarly. We have made education a public charge, and children are not denied, as much as they used to be, the chance for a good education because of the faith of the managers or the faith of the subscribers to the school. The exact connection between the Epsom Grand Stand Association and the Established Church I was never able to discover, but I believe it was a strictly financial nexus.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin went on to deal with the question of the teacher as a public servant. Let us realise that at the moment the teacher in the voluntary school is the servant of the managers. His salary is paid by the authority, but he is appointed and dismissed by the managers, and if the managers come to the local education authority and say, "We desire to dismiss this teacher on religious grounds," the local education authority is bound to consent to the dismissal. This Bill secures for the teacher whom it is proposed to dismiss in this way the right of appeal to the Board of Education, and that is 1670 something worth having. It may not be as much as we would like to have. I am not going to say that it is as much as I would like to have. I always recall the saying of Carlyle:Man is not what one would call a happy animal, his appetite for sweet victual is so enormous.In this workaday world, facing facts, we quite frequently only get as much sweet victual as is good for us, and I am prepared to take this meal because it represents a step forward.
The hon. Member for Aylesbury, speaking as a member of a local education authority—and I know he takes a very lively and enlightened interest in the affairs of his own county—alluded to this Bill as one that was retarding the growth of education in the rural areas. I happen to be vice-chairman of an education authority that deals with an area that is partly urban and partly rural. I even have to see that the noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) sends his children to a school where they receive efficient elementary instruction. Our experience is just the opposite. We say, quite frankly, as an education authority, that unless we have this Bill, it is not possible to deal with the rural areas, because the essential thing in dealing with a rural area, especially if you desire to give an education that shall be suitable to the environment in which the child is being brought up—not necessarily the environment in which he is going to live all his life—so that he may be given his chance of fitting himself into his appropriate place in the community, whether it be in the country or in the town, is that we should have a four-year course. The essential thing with the facilities for reorganisation that this Financial Resolution enables us to provide, is to give a four-year course to every child in the schools.
There are, in my opinion, three things which make money worth spending in education as far as the efficiency of the school is concerned. If you put any given teacher in front of a class, his ability to do the job will depend upon three factors: the size of the class—and re-organisation means that there shall be no class of more than 40 among senior children; the range of attainments within the class—almost as important as the size of the class. There was a celebrated bishop who said he thought he could 1671 teach three boys, because he could get the biggest to hold the smallest while he attended to the middle one. Some of the smallest classes in this country are among the most difficult to teach. I know a village in Surrey called East Horsley. The Noble Lord will know the place well. The Earl of Lovelace was so proud of it, that he stamped his coat of arms on every cottage and twice on the school, once inside and once outside. There is an aristocratic atmosphere in the school. Now East Horsley school had 24 children, aged from 5 to 14, in it, all taught by one woman. One Saturday evening an old-fashioned farm labourer moved into the village, and on Monday morning his wife presented eight children to the school. The teacher was then faced with the task of reorganising the school to give to 32 children from 5 to 14 years of age some form of elementary education. The accent was probably on the elementary. Reorganisation, which is facilitated by this Bill, means bringing schools together so that you can re-group the children, and get classes less in range of attainment and less in range of aptitude. That, in itself, is so tremendous an achievement that I am prepared to pay quite a substantial price if I can achieve it.
Last of all, I support this Bill because it wipes out, I hope for all time, the great mistake that the social organisation of this country makes. There are some of our citizens who are born to be dukes, and some who are born to be dustmen. But the stork is such an unintelligent bird that it delivers them at the wrong addresses. It should be the aim of our educational system to act as a sorting office, and to see that every child in this very hard-pressed nation gets the chance of rendering service to the nation in the sphere for which it is best suited. I was amazed to hear so experienced an administrator as the hon. Member for Aylesbury pleading that intellectual merits should determine the opportunities for the child in regard to maintenance and extended education. I believe that the great advantage of the four years' course and the extension of the school age to 15 will not necessarily be that any given child is taught more. I believe that it will be possible to take them over the same course that is given 1672 in the best elementary schools now, at a pace that will enable them more profitably to browse over the subjects that are presented to them. I speak as an old elementary schoolmaster who taught up to the seventh standard when I say that the worst part of my work was that I was expected in the last year to cramp work that ought to have been spread over at least two years, and probably even more.
Therefore, the third thing that I regard as essential to the efficient use of your teaching power is the length of the school life, and I believe that the Child who is least bright is the child who deserves most from the State. I say, frankly, as a schoolmaster, that we have ruined more natural geniuses than any other profession by trying to impose our limited intelligence upon the wonderful power of genius. But when you come to the dull and the ordinary child, or the child even slightly above the average, I believe that, in proportion to its lack of natural ability, it deserves from a State such as ours the fullest opportunity to develop its faculties. For these reasons, I desire most heartily to support the Financial Resolution. I only share what I gathered was the regret of the noble Lord yesterday afternoon, that it is not more comprehensive, that we do not deal with the Children from 15 to 17, and that we do not offer greater opportunities even beyond that age. But I believe the noble Lord will realise that this is a beginning. When we bring in our extended proposals, we may be assured that we shall have his hearty support.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
We always listen to the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) with peculiar interest, especially on this subject. He has given an instance of an area with which we are both more or less familiar, although he, of course, is much more familiar with it than I am. I may take it as the text for my opening remarks, because I think it illustrates my fears about the effect of the Bill and this Financial Resolution. In the first place, I know it is a good shorthand way of talking, to talk about a four-year course, but, as we all know, the raising of the school age to 15 is not going to give a four-year course to the majority of the children of this country. That is only a minor point. Let us come to the East Horsley school. There is a school of 24 pupils, as the hon. Member said, extending from 5 to 14 1673 years of age, impossible to teach, causing the most tremendous hardships to the older children especially, and those hardships are hardly leas in some larger schools where it is the custom, necessarily, to teach in one class all the children between the ages of 10 and 14. When, of course, you come to the little school in Westmorland, of which my hon. and gallant Friend spoke yesterday, you get these evils to an almost infinite degree. Will the hon. Member for South Shields allow me to say this? Ever since I moved into his area, and took up my residence there, I have heard that we were going to have a central school. I am still waiting for that central school—waiting with a certain trembling hope. I gather from the hon. Member that the Surrey County Council have taken the line that they will not reorganise and have central schools in order to give children a senior course of between two and three years, until they can give them a course of between three and four years.
§ Mr. EDE
The Noble Lord knows East Horsley as well as I do. There are six schools, all Church schools, and the existing law does not allow us to reorganise them except into a Church school. The managers are unwilling for them to be reorganised into a council central school, and they cannot find the money with which to build a Church central school or to recondition or improve their existing schools. Under the enabling proposals of this Bill, we can deal with that situation.
§ Lord E. PERCY
Precisely, and that is the argument to which I was coming. That is the necessity of the enabling Clauses of this Bill to any organisation. Until those enabling Clauses are passed, however—and there is no dispute between me and the right hon. Gentleman as to the necessity of those Clauses, quite apart from the compulsory raising of the age—and until they can be acted upon, there will be no central schools in that area. There will certainly, therefore, be no central schools ready in the year up to April, 1931. I know that the hon. Member may say that the Surrey County Council are so efficient that they will get them organised in the next nine months—
§ Mr. EDE
There is another answer to that. Surely the Noble Lord must be aware that on the 1st April no child is retained in school. It is not until the second period of leavers during the year that you begin to retain children in school. In Surrey we have only three terms in the year, and therefore it will be after the Summer Holidays that the first child is retained. We shall not have the full year in school in any part of the country until 1st April, 1932, which is the effective date for dealing with the whole mass of the children.
§ Lord E. PERCY
But throughout 1931 there will be a dribble of children staying on in the schools, and in those schools in East Horsley and in the tiny school in the Westmorland Dale we shall find the great big lout of a boy at the top of the little school which is composed mainly of younger children; and we know how bad that is for the boy and for the younger children. We are concentrating on the child and that is what I am afraid of; that is why I shall press in Committee, I hope with the support of those who know what the scattered rural area is like, for a proper power of exemption for the local authorities. I do not believe that the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) will really wish to have the power of exemption at present possessed by Cornwall withdrawn, in view of the position of the small rural schools.
I want to reply to a point made by the hon. Member for Bodmin about the maintenance allowances. He said that he hoped that one of us would explain our position. He seemed to be under the impression that this Financial Resolution for the first time empowers the State and local authorities to give maintenance allowances in elementary schools. That, of course, is not the fact. Maintenance allowances have been given freely by local education authorities in those central schools which are denominated as elementary schools, and where the children are staying on voluntarily; and it does not necessarily apply to the case of the particularly bright child. Any child who is staying on beyond the compulsory school-leaving age to complete a course of education is entitled to a maintenance allowance, and often receives it, and in the case of London a higher maintenance allowance is given than the Government are prepared to give under the Financial 1675 Resolution. The necessity for passing the Financial Resolution is simply that you are for the first time giving a maintenance allowance coupled with compulsion; and the effect of the proposal in the Bill is that, whereas a parent who gives advanced education for his child up to 15 can now get a maintenance allowance, which the local authority considers is adequate compensation for the loss of the child's earning powers, henceforward the parents of the child between 14 and 15 will not be able to receive a maintenance allowance except within the narrow limits laid down by the regulations of the Board of Education, and to that amount.
One of the last things that I did when I was in office was to withdraw all regulations restricting the amount of maintenance allowance for secondary or elementary education which might be given by the Board of Education. That, we all agree, is a sound principle, but because you compel the child to go, in a way that the hon. Member for Bodmin and I are not compelled to make our children go up to the whole length of the period during which we send them to school, immediately you bring in this narrow, hard and fast system, which really, by its very nature, shows that it has nothing to do with education, and that, like the whole of Clause 1 of the Bill, it is an unemployment relief measure and not an education measure at all. The right hon. Gentleman said, very frankly, yesterday that the main reason why he had chosen such an early date—so much earlier than the Hadow Report or the local education authorities had suggested—was his idea and his hope of unemployment relief. Every other speaker in the Debate yesterday said that he did not think that that ought to come into the consideration of the Bill, and yet that alone is the ground on which the right hon. Gentleman has chosen this very early date.
I want to come to the question of the concordat Clauses of this Bill. The hon. Member for South Shields has very nearly expressed my feeling about this. The hon. Member for Bodmin made a speech which in its earlier part frightened me. When he came to the end of it, it appeared that his bark was very much worse than his bite, and that he might not even move Amendments on the very points about which he appeared to feel 1676 most strongly. May I say this to the hon. Gentleman? When we are discussing this question, a sharp bark may do even more harm than a sharp bite. We must all try and get this Bill into the shape in which we want to see it, but, in discussing it, let us be moderate in language, even if we must be unpleasant in substance. That at any rate is what I shall try to do, and I shall also try not to speak even incidentally on behalf of any demomination. We have had addresses on behalf of Catholics, we have had speeches on behalf of Nonconformists, but I shall not, and I hope my hon. Friends will not, try to emulate those appeals on behalf of any section. The hon. Member for South Shields put clearly the reasons for these concordat proposals. In the rural areas you cannot reorganise, let alone compulsorily raise the age. I am opposed to raising the age compulsorily, and, therefore, if that were all, I should be just as much opposed to Clauses 2 and 3 as I am to the rest of the Bill, but for reorganisation itself these Clauses are necessary.
Under the present state of the law you cannot get reorganisation—I think the hon. Member for Bodmin has rather forgotten the state of the law—and, that being so, something on these lines is necessary for the children in the schools in Westmorland, or Cornwall, or wherever it may be, for whom, without it, an extra year of school life will be nothing but a loss and will be positively harmful not only for themselves but for the other children. For Heaven's sake let us keep that fact in mind. If I say anything about this subject it is because I want to put mainly a financial point. I spoke yesterday of the course of incubation to which I had tried to subject this matter during my term of office. At the end of that course of incubation I came pretty cleariy to two conclusions, that the more we could make a temporary settlement of this kind temporary in its effect as well as in the period during which it ran, the more we could confine the whole thing to an organisation period which would leave no traces behind, the better.
Secondly, I came to the conclusion that any arrangement of this kind must be an enabling measure. It must be permissive for a local authority to use the powers or not as it chooses; that point I have always maintained against those 1677 religious bodies which wanted to have some form of compulsion by the Board of Education during this temporary period. In view of the fact that we are chiefly dealing with rural areas, and that those rural areas are poor, I did come to the conclusion that it was necessary so far as possible to remove from them any financial reason for refusing to use their powers. The expedient which I wished to adopt, and which I think I announced in general terms a little more than a year ago, was that the State should be prepared to give capital grants to such voluntary schools, up to such amount as the local education authority desired, on schemes drawn up by the local education authority. That may be represented as 100 per cent. grants, or whatever you like; but I hoped they would be capital grants, so that we could work off the whole financial arrangement in a term of years and not have any loan charges left behind for the next 30 or 40 years.
I wished the State to assume as far as possible the whole burden of these capital grants, and I persuaded the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was very generously inclined, to promise me what I thought was, for the moment, a sufficient amount of money to work a scheme of that kind. That sort of scheme has advantages, and I wish the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether he should not, in the case of these voluntary schools, take the burden off the rates to a far greater extent than he proposes to do. I think it would greatly facilitate the working of this arrangement in rural areas. The more he can do it by capital grants, so as not to leave outstanding loan charges, the better it will be.
I have one final word on the Financial Resolution. The Minister says he cannot estimate. I agree that it is almost impossible to estimate, but, taking the figures as they are, I think it is fair to say that in many areas the cost of this Measure, raising the school leaving age without reorganisation, is going to be £5,500,000 a year in the long run, and it will rise during what we call the "bulge period" to at least £8,000,000, and probably more. The Minister says he cannot estimate more closely and particularly that he cannot estimate the outlay in respect of voluntary schools. 1678 I cannot agree with the comfortable statement of my hon. friend behind me that whatever is paid will be a saving, because in effect if you did not give the local education authorities these powers they would not be able to reorganise, as the hon. Member for South Shields has pointed out in the case of Surrey, and therefore you throw extra burdens on the taxpayers, however necessary and however beneficial, and those have to be added to the £8,000,000 which I have mentioned.
As the right hon Gentleman has said, it is impossible to foresee the amount. Why is it impossible? He has got two estimates of a fairly accurate kind, but only two. What does that mean? That there is not any single rural area in this country, not any single county area, with one or two possible exceptions, like Rutland, which adopted a system of central schools some years ago, which has never drawn up its plans for the reorganisation which alone will enable it to give a good education to the children which it is compelling to remain in school for a year longer. Only two counties have even got an estimate. No other county has even drawn up plans. Yet the right hon. Gentleman came down to the House and said "There are 140 authorities where reorganisation will be more or less complete, and we are getting on"—and other vague phrases. The fact of the matter is, as appears on the fact of the financial statement, in the county areas you will for at least the next two or three years be keeping your older children in small unreorganised schools because you have not even yet begun to draw up the necessary plans of reorganisation. That is a terrible admission, and it is on that very ground, the ground of the harm, above all, that will be done to these children, that I shall continue to oppose the Bill as I have now opposed the Financial Resolution.
§ Sir ROBERT NEWMAN
I would like at the outset to state how pleased I am that we have a Bill before Parliament to raise the school age. I differ from the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) when he says that he is not in favour of the compulsory principle. If every parent took the same enlightened view of education as the noble lord I should be quite prepared to leave this 1679 matter to the discretion of the parents, but, unfortunately, there are some parents who do not take that enlightened view of education. It is the children of those parents who, in my opinion, require the greatest attention. Where the children are blessed with good parents it does not matter so much, but it is in the case of children who are handicapped by indifferent parents that the law should step in, and see that they do not suffer because their parents do not take the same enlightened view of education. Therefore, it is necessary, in a measure of this kind, to make it compulsory, or you will find that you are only benefiting those children who have good parents and good homes.
§ Sir R. NEWMAN
I never made any such suggestion, and I should be the last person to make it. I admit that they are in the minority, but unfortunately the State has to provide for minorities. I want to give every child an opportunity of getting on, and a good opportunity, in spite of any handicap it may suffer in its home. Therefore, I say that where parents—I say this in answer to the noble Lord—do not appreciate the advantages of education, this Bill will educate the children in spite of the action of the parents. On the other hand, the enlightened parents will not suffer from this Bill, because they like their children to continue at school up to the age of 15. Consequently, these proposals will not be any hardship to the good parents, and at the same time it will bring the indifferent parents to a sense of their responsibility.
I know that we shall be told that this means a large expenditure of money, and that we cannot afford it at the present time. I take a good deal of interest in education on local authorities and elsewhere, and I have always come to the conclusion that an educational policy, which is restricted from a financial point of view, is like spoiling the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar. Although I do not sympathise with those who say that they do not believe in compulsory education, I quite understand their point of view. I do not understand how we can go on 1680 year after year spending millions and millions on education, and then, just when the child is at the age at which it would receive the greatest benefit, stop it and thereby, in my opinion, do a great injury. Therefore, the extension of the age by one year would be an advantage even on financial grounds.
I come to the question of the maintenance Clause. In my opinion—I only give it for what it is worth—unless you have a maintenance Clause, you may make up your mind that, as far as the very poorest of the parents are concerned, their children will not be able to go to school after they are 14 years of age unless you are going to handicap the home. To say that a nation which has an income of £4,000,000,000 a year cannot afford to find £8,000,000 a year for maintenance grants seems to me absurd. Surely it will be agreed that the ordinary parent who is getting something in the neighbourhood of 40s. a week cannot afford to pay this charge. If you are going to have a compulsory raising of the school age from 14 to 15, you must have some scheme of maintenance allowances. Row can you expect these poor people to maintain their children at home after they have reached the age of 14? It would not be fair to compel those parents to send their children to school under those circumstances unless they were provided with some financial assistance. I am one of those people who look upon education as one of the greatest assets the nation can possibly have. I do not look upon money which is wisely spent on education as an extravagance. Such expenditure ought to be looked upon more as an investment.
In the case of the rising generation, the money spent wisely on education will equip the children in a way that will enable to pull their full strength in the great battle of life which lies before them. In that way, we do something to better our national reserve, because the fact remains that, after all, the children are the greatest raw material which any State can have, and the better we can make that raw material, the greater will be the prospects of the success of this country in the future. We ought to approach this great educational reform with one object in view, and that is to give the children—not only the children of the 1681 rich, but also the children of the poor—the opportunity of making the best use they can of the years that lie before them. We shall always have inequalities of one kind or another, but I have always maintained that we should give everybody an opportunity of doing the best that they can for themselves, and, although we cannot, in the race of life, all finish at the winning post, at any rate we can give the children of this generation an opportunity of having a fair start in that race. I think the policy contained in this Measure will prove to be a wise one for the nation as a whole.
§ Captain E. N. BENNETT
I am one of that diminishing band who took part in the discussions on education during the agitation of 1906, and I well remember the by no means pleasant atmosphere of bitter controversy in which those debates on the question of religious accommodation were conducted. That was a lamentable and deplorable chapter in our Parliamentary history. To-day we have gone far beyond that. The increased toleration which we have seen in the last quarter of a century, and, I am afraid I must add, the, to some extent, increased indifference, have produced a different atmosphere in regard to these matters, and with very few exceptions the attitude of the House seems to indicate that the course of the Minister's work in the House on this Bill will be much smoother than was the case in earlier days. The speech of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot), however, rather brought me back to that period. It contained a great deal of the old-fashioned stuff to which we were accustomed in those days. The hon. Member confirmed his conclusions by quoting from Oliver Cromwell, and, amongst other statements, he declared that he represented Nonconformists. I do not agree very often with the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings, but I can follow him in one respect, and that is that I should not dream of discussing this question entirely from the point of view that I am a member of the Established Church. That is not at all a right attitude in which to approach this matter; one should approach it from the citizen's point of view.
But from the Nonconformist point of view, it is well to point out that, according to the Minister's own statement, this Bill has been based upon negotiations 1682 carried on, not only with representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and of the Anglican Church, but with representatives of the Nonconformists themselves. Many very prominent Nonconformists have thrown in their lot, at any rate in principle, with this Measure, and are thoroughly with us in this honourable attempt to bring these matters to a successful conclusion. The declaration of the Annual Assembly of the National Council of the Free Churches certainly accepts, in principle, the provisions embodied in this Measure. I do not think it can be held that anyone in the House has a right to say that dissent from this Bill is based on Nonconformist opinion. That may be the opinion of the hon. Member for Bodmin, but certainly, up to the present, Nonconformity has shown no collective tendency to object to, the principles of the Measure.
Of course, the Bill will have its defects. All Bills which depend on permissive principles tend to have their defects. The black-listed school may still continue under this Bill when it becomes an Act. I have always longed, and I still long, for the day when we shall tackle the whole question of our confused and anomalous educational system and deal with it on a national basis. I believe that even now the time is ripe for doing that. Scotland has shown the way in this as in other matters, and, if Scotland can accomplish it, we can. If that special home of militant Protestantism, the country of Knox, of the Covenanters, of Wishart and the rest, has been able to solve these educational and religious difficulties, why in the name of reason should not England and Wales sooner or later deal with the question on the same lines? It has been solved in Scotland, and in a way that has given complete satisfaction to the representatives, not only of the Roman Catholics, but of the Presbyterians and all the other varieties of Protestantism that exist in that country.
In the meantime, we have to deal with the question by means of a Measure such as that which we have now before us. On the Financial Resolution, one must confine oneself to the discussion of finance, and in that connection I should like to say a word on the question of the dismissal of teachers, which seems to be 1683 causing a certain amount of disturbance in the minds of some of my colleagues. I imagine that the Clause of the Bill which deals with that question was put in to satisfy, not Catholicism, but Anglicanism. I must say, even as a Churchman, that Protestantism has its difficulties owing to the way in which it is split up and divided in its views as to what churchmanship is or may be.
On the other hand, Roman Catholic managers, if a Roman Catholic is brought before them, know what they are dealing with. A Catholic is a Catholic, and they are satisfied with him as a teacher qua Catholic. In my own church, we have such divergencies that we can have on the same episcopal bench a Bishop Barnes and Bishop Gore, and, when you have that occurring in the episcopacy, you have, naturally, a great deal of flexibility among the individual members of the laity, and you do not quite know where you are. I remember meeting one of my colleagues on the county bench in Oxfordshire, who happened to be one of the visiting justices to the gaol there, and he, a keen Churchman, told me with conscious pride that he had been to the gaol and found every inmate of the gaol written down as a member of the Church of England. They included two particularly ruffianly men who had recently broken into a church and taken the collection box. That shows the amazing flexibility among members of the Church of England. Accordingly, there may, perhaps, be occasional dislocation in the case of Anglican schools, and I think it is very wise that these wrangles should be taken away from that milieu and brought up to the cool judgment of Whitehall. There is one provision about which I am a little doubtful, and that is the provision which deals with inability or unwillingness to continue a school. Sub-section (2, e) of Clause 2 contains these words:If at any time the Board of Education are satisfied that the managers are unable or unwilling to carry on the school as a public elementary school.I should like a little elucidation from the Minister as to the meaning of these words. Whether they are put in to meet the possibility of inability for financial reasons, or because of the fact that, say, a Roman Catholic population may have moved out of a particular area, I do not quite know, though I can picture 1684 certain reasons for inability or unwillingness to carry on a school. I am a little more concerned as to what happens then. The Clause goes on to say thatthe Board may make such orders in accordance with the provisions of the Second Schedule to this Act as they may consider necessary for the purpose of securing that the school is so carried on.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That would be a point for the Committee stage. We must confine our present discussion to the financial operations under the Resolution which is now before the Committee.
§ Captain BENNETT
I am sorry if I have transgressed. I should like to refer to two other points which I think will come within the Financial Resolution. One is with regard to the reconstruction that will be permissible in connection with these grants. The Minister said, in his interesting and able speech yesterday, that he could not consent to any Amendment which would fundamentally destroy the basis of the Measure. That is intelligible, but I hope he will not be adamantine towards all Amendments which may be couched in terms reasonable and fair with the object of elucidating such points as this and improving the Bill in regard to them. I should like to ask my right hon. Friend whether, in the case of a school which was obviously out of date and badly constructed, and more or less in a "black-list" condition, instead of building on to that school and improving it with additional bricks and mortar, it would be possible under the terms of this Measure to pull down the out-worn structure and build it up as a fresh school on the same site, using, perhaps, some of the same materials in the way of bricks and so on. Nothing would be lost to the community by doing that, for it might probably be found to be cheaper than building a new school entirely. I see no particular reason why reconstruction should not cover a process of that kind.
I should like to ask my right hon. Friend whether the measures he proposes may not be treated as retrospective in certain selected cases. Let me give a concrete example from Cardiff. I lately opened a Catholic school, which had passed through many vicissitudes. It is in a very poor parish and, like many others, it had come to be black-listed. It was so obviously out of date that the managers determined to comply with the 1685 requirements of the authorities and rebuild it. That was in 1928. Out of the depths of their poverty they collected the money and proceeded to build. Then came the Hadow scheme, and they argued that, by the time they had built the schools on the old lines, the Hadow scheme would be upon them. Being wise men, they got together additional funds sufficient to build the school thoroughly up-to-date. That poor parish found out of the pockets of the Catholics no less than £23,429, and they still owe £12,000. I quote that as an example of a school where people have been wise and far-seeing enough to build, not like the schools the noble Lord referred to which lag behind and will not put these things into force. Here is a case in which they took time by the fore-lock and in which the school therefore is ready for the Hadow proposals. It is a fine example of personal unselfishness and devotion to their faith and of a desire that their children shall have the best education. In that case, the Minister might make the Act retrospective and give them the advantage in return for their excellent behaviour. I am glad that I have returned to Parliament to see a Measure of this kind put on the stocks. I shall be a happy man when I see it become an Act of Parliament.
§ Colonel Sir JAMES REYNOLDS
I came into the House to-day when the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) was speaking, and I thought that I was back again in the Middle Ages. I thought that we were going to approach the matter with consideration for one another and were going to try to adjust these proposals, so that they will operate with the least harm and the least offence to any section of the community. But I found a fighting speech, entirely devoted to the presentation of one point of view and a denial of the rights of another. Cromwell was quoted. What a lot of things some of us could say about Cromwell, for and against! If I quoted Queen Mary, I might rouse some passions. If others quoted Queen Elizabeth, there would be passions aroused. These are matters of the past and should be left to the past. Let us deal with the realities of the situation as we find them to-day.
I was ready to oppose the Bill yesterday, if I had had an opportunity, not for the same reasons as the leaders of 1686 my party, but on account of what I felt was the inadequacy of the treatment offered to non-provided schools. When we think of the part they play and always have played in educational history, we owe them a debt of gratitude from every point of view. Education was preserved and looked after by the non-provided schools. I speak myself as a Roman Catholic. I well remember the Bill of 1870, I remember in detail the plan of 1902, and we have lived up to all the demands that have been put upon us for the sake of our principles and the wellbeing of the children who look to us for support and protection.
It has come about, as the last speaker most handsomely recognised, that we have borne burdens out of all proportion to the financial advantages that we have received. It is true that our schools are supported in their day-to-day work by Government funds. When you come to look at what we have actually done in the provision of these schools, it is astounding that people so poor as the Catholic body generally is should have done what they have done. Twelve hundred schools are standing there as a memorial to the efforts of the Catholics—£10,000,000 of money in to-day's value or probably more. We have provided 450,000 places for school children and have borne first one burden and then another. We are making arrangements to cope with the Hadow scheme, and now we have thrown upon us the terrible burden of these new proposals. It is really asking too much that we should be called upon to face these further financial responsibilities. I know the Minister has brought the Bill forward in the hope of an arrangement whereby principles will not have to be sacrificed. Methods, yes. Devices may have to be found which will not be satisfactory, but which will not necessarily sacrifice principles.
I take my stand on the admirable speech of the hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Scurr) yesterday. I could not present the Catholic case in a better manner, in a better temper, and with greater knowledge than he did. He was bold and courageous. When I saw the terms of the Bill, I thought there would be ample opportunity to pull the legs of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I thought that I should have an oppor- 1687 tunity of reminding them of their pledges and asking them what they were going to do and in which Lobby they were going to vote, but I have no longer the right to pull anyone's leg if the Catholics in the Labour party stand by the hon. Member's speech. He made it clear that the terms offered are not acceptable and that unless the Bill is amended, they may have to vote against it. I take that view, but I hope that something may be done in Committee so that the Catholics will not have to vote against the Bill. I have been a little surprised at the rather dogmatic attitude taken up by the Minister. That is a term which sometimes raises a certain amount of ire. There are things you have to be dogmatic about, but it does not do to be dogmatic upon everything. The Minister laid it down that we have the denominational system with us and that we shall always have it with us. I agree with him, and I think that it was a right statement to make. It puts an end to the idea that we are going to smash up the dual system.
On the other hand, he stated that there was no suggestion of the State taking over the denominational schools. That was unfortunate, because that pins down the situation as if that which they have done in Scotland and which has satisfied the whole community there, as has been mentioned by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Cardiff, is impossible in England. Some such arrangement as that might bring the whole educational organisation practically into one office. It might be done. We may have something in this Bill if the Amendment is accepted—I do not know the terms of the Amendment which the Catholics are going to bring forward—which may be a beginning and show that such things can be done. That is why I am hoping that the Amendment will be a satisfactory one, and, if it is, I shall certainly vote for it, and I trust that my party in large measure will support it.
A great deal of what has been introduced into the debate has emanated from the National Union of Teachers. That is a most important organisation, to which everybody looks as having a thorough grip of the educational question; but I should like to say—if I say it humorously I hope hon. Members will forgive me—that they 1688 are not the kernel of the whole thing. They represent the officials of the educational system. They do not own the ship. They are the officers and the crew who sail the ship, and I trust that they will always sail it well, but the ship belongs to the people and the parents. I stand here as a definite representative of the Catholic parents, and, when I stand in that light and do not necessarily support the Bill, for the reasons I have given, I do not like cast upon me the slur that anybody who is objecting to the Bill is not the friend of the children. It is an unfair slur, and it has been made more than once. It reminds me of the fellow who comes and robs you of your money and goes off with it. You eventually catch him and find that he has not your money. He says, "Look at my children! I used the money to buy clothes for them." You do not feel satisfied that because the money has been put to good purpose to help his children, he had any right to take it. That sort of attitude does not mitigate the offence in the slightest degree. We are entitled to think out this matter on right financial lines, but I would remind the Committee—I do not want to enter into this controversy—that we have been paying an equal share of the rates and yet we have built our own schools. I hope the day will come when this sort of thing will be recognised as not being right.
Why have we done it? For one, sole purpose: that teachers of our own faith should teach in those schools. I cannot imagine, looking at the matter as a practical proposition, why we should be made to have people not of our faith teaching our own children. The hon. Member for Mile End made it clear that the educational side is a continuation of the home and that education should be given to the children, but not to the detriment of the religion in which they have been brought up. Therefore, it is impossible for us to hand over our children to any individual who does not appreciate our point of view or the tenets of our religion. It is impossible, and we shall never give way on this matter. Really, there is no practical difference between having teachers in a school appointed by managers and having teachers appointed by the local authority. The whole machine goes forward exactly the same. Can hon. Members imagine a more ridiculous situation than that shown by the hon. Member for 1689 the University of Wales (Mr. E. Evans)—a Catholic school with a non-Catholic headmaster and non-Catholic headmistress. There is no cohesion and no organisation which would give anyone any confidence from the point of view of religious teaching. This question drifts into other things beyond the mere teaching of dogmatism and the teaching of the tenets of our faith. It drifts into history. What are we to say if we hear our children told of the blessings of the Reformation? We do not think that they are blessings. We should not like the history of England to be taught to our children in that form.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not want to interrupt the hon. and gallant Member, but I should like to point out that in this discussion we are more concerned with the financial aspects of the Bill than with the question of religion.
§ Sir J. REYNOLDS
I am sorry, Mr. Young, that I drifted rather wide of the subject. I would only say further that I fear the negotiations which the Minister has invited savour too much of being based upon the money bags. I can imagine him receiving deputations of people in connection with the denominational schools and the carrying out of all the onerous duties which have to be carried out and having bags of money on top of his desk, to which the attention of these individuals may be drawn as they are developing their arguments for the financial benefit of the schools which they represent. That is not the best way of approaching the matter. I would prefer to approach it in the manner in which my Adjutant used to approach that sort of situation when people came to make complaints. He had behind him a picture of a Cheshire cat with a magnificent smile from ear to ear. I said to him, "What is the meaning of that funny looking thing?" and he said, "It is a very effective thing." I asked him "How does it work?" He said, "When all these fellows come in, sergeants, soldiers and the rest of them, to air complaints I point to the picture of the smiling cat, and they all begin to grin, and the moment they begin to grin there is a totally different atmosphere, and I adopt a totally different trend of thought in dealing with all their difficulties." I commend that attitude to the Minister of Education. Let us all come forward with 1690 a smile and with happier thoughts in dealing with this great question. Let us not be grim, but try to smile, hoping that we shall eventually reach the goal by goodwill and not by fighting each other.
§ Mr. MORLEY
It seems to me that sufficient money has not been provided in the Financial Resolution to give the full effect to the implications of the Bill. We are not raising the school-leaving age by one year simply for the purpose of giving the children a year longer at school. The reason why we are raising the school-leaving age by one year is to complete the scheme of reorganisation in our educational system. We have decided that in future there shall be a break at the age of 11 years and that children shall attend a senior school. By raising the age from 14 to 15 we are giving those children a four years' course in a senior school. It is the intention that in the new senior schools education of a secondary type shall be given. If education of a secondary type is to be given in those senior schools, there must be something like parity as regards equipment, staffing and general amenities with the existing secondary schools. In the Financial Resolution only £2,500,000 is provided for the cost of the extra year of education. Over 400,000 children are to receive this extra years' education, so that it works out at an average cost of just over 26 per head. You cannot give anything like secondary school conditions at an average cost of £6 per head for each pupil who will stay a year longer at school. I therefore suggest that mole money should have been provided in order to pay the cost of the extra years' education which the children will get when the school leaving age has been raised to 15.
With regard to the maintenance grant, it is evident that a large number of children who will remain at school for another year will not receive maintenance allowances under the amount allocated for that purpose in the Financial Resolution. A sum of £3,000,000 has been allocated for the purpose of paying maintenance grants to the children. That means that 240,769 children will receive maintenance grants, at the rate of 5s. per week. The total number of children who will be retained in the schools is in the neighbourhood of 400,000. Therefore, it is evident that a large number of children will not receive 1691 maintenance grants. It is very regrettable that the Government should have adopted a means test in the granting of these maintenance allowances. I am not opposed to a means test under all conditions. I can imagine that there are circumstances in which a means test would be a proper thing. The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Beaumont) said that we had decided that the means test was obsolete. I do not know whether he was speaking on behalf of the Conservative party, but only a short time ago the Conservative party were urging very strongly that a means test should be applied to the granting of widows' pensions.
Although it may be argued that, in certain circumstances, a means test should be applied, I think it is particularly unfortunate to apply it in regard to maintenance allowances for children. It will produce a great many inequities and a great many anomalies. There will be children sitting side by side in the same class some of whom will be receiving maintenance grants and others who will not be receiving maintenance grants. The fact will be known very quickly which children are receiving maintenance grants and which are not. Mast of us who have had experience with children know that most children are inclined to be rather snobbish in outlook, and there is a danger that the children who are receiving maintenance grants will be looked down upon by their colleagues in the class who are not receiving such grants. I would urge that when we come to consider the Bill in Committee it might be possible for the Government to agree to the abolition of the means test in the granting of these maintenance allowances.
I know that the President of the Board of Education said yesterday that if he had another £2,000,000 he would rather spend it upon improving the facilities for secondary education than upon abolishing the means test for maintenance grants. That was a very proper observation to make, but when we were advocating this reform during general election I found that the proposal for raising the school-leaving age, coupled with adequate maintenance grants, was one of the most popular proposals that we 1692 put before the electorate. We did not advocate that reform solely as an educational reform. Upon educational grounds there is, perhaps, no very strong case for maintenance grants, but we advocated maintenance grants not merely upon educational grounds but as part of our general policy for securing a better distribution of the annual national dividend in this country, as a way of transferring purchasing power from the wealthy to the poor.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Dunnico)
The hon. Member is travelling far beyond the scope of the Money Resolution.
§ Mr. MORLEY
It seems to me that, in order fully to satisfy our election pledges in that respect, we should abolish the means test so far as these maintenance grants are concerned. It is very unfortunate that, out of the £3,000,000 which the maintenance allowances will cost, the local rates are to be charged with £1,200,000. It would have been much better if the total cost of the maintenance allowances had been borne entirely by the central Exchequer. It will lead to a good many inequities as far as the incidence of the burden is concerned if part of the cost is to fall upon the local authority. Take a local authority like Bournemouth, which has a very low rateable value, a comparatively small number of elementary schools, a large number of children who go to private schools, or boarding schools, or those institutions where the pursuit of athletics is acute, and which usurp the name of public schools—that local authority will have a very small charge in respect of the finding of maintenance allowances, while an area like Poplar, or any big industrial area which has a very large number of poor children—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must raise these points on Amendments in Committee. Discussion on the question as to the proportion of cost that the local authorities should bear must be reserved for the part of the Bill dealing with that matter, and not raised on this Financial Resolution. The only point at issue to-day is whether the money asked for shall be allocated for the specific purposes of the Bill.
§ Mr. MORLEY
I will reserve my further arguments upon that point until the matter can be discussed in Committee. Although it would have been better had these maintenance allowances been given free of any means test, and that the whole cost should have been borne by the National Exchequer instead of partly by the local authorities, I think there is very little cause to complain about the Bill on the score of cost. The hon. Member for Aylesbury spoke about giving the Government a blank cheque and about scattering the taxpayers' money with a lavish hand. There has probably never been a greater or more useful reform provided for so small a cost as the reform contained in this Bill. For a cost of £5,000,000 a year we are going to effect a very considerable reduction in the total figures of unemployment. The President of the Board of Education said yesterday that he hoped to secure a reduction of 100,000 to 150,000 in the total figures of unemployment as the result of this Measure. That will be done for an expenditure of £5,000,000 a year only.
The Lord Privy Seal recently stated that £1,000,000 found work for only 4,000 men for a year, so that on those figures 25,000,000 would only find work for 20,000 men. But £5,000,000, on the lines of this Bill, will find work for 100,000 to 150,000 men. The President of the Board of Education is considerably cheaper in finding employment for those who are at present unemployed than the Lord Privy Seal. Although amendments may be necessary to the Bill in Committee I would much rather have the Bill without amendments than no Bill at all. It is the best and biggest measure the Government has yet introduced. It will have a most beneficial and lasting effect on the life of our people and is the greatest single proposition yet put forward for the relief of unemployment. Let me add my congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman. He bears a name already distinguished in the history of this country in politics and in literature, sod by the introduction of the Bill yesterday and the speech he made he has added fresh distinction to a name already distinguished.
§ Mr. GRAHAM WHITE
I do not wish to trespass upon the time and the patience of the Committee for more than 1694 a few moments, but I am glad to have an opportunity of supporting in this House financial proposals which are to give effect to the raising of the school age, a reform which I have advocated outside this House, with such opportunities as have been available to me, for more years than I care to remember. I have the liveliest recollection of addressing an open air meeting during the General Election of 1918 in favour of this reform, at which four-fifths of the audience were children, and I remember the derision with which my remarks were greeted, and the painful recollection that the advocacy of this and other causes, equally unpopular, led to the forfeit of my election deposit. It is therefore some satisfaction to me to look upon the measure of advance in public opinion which has taken place since 1918, that we are discussing this matter now not as a matter of principle but as a matter of time and opportunity, and ways and means.
I want to associate myself wholeheartedly with the line of conduct which the noble Lord the right hon. Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) laid down as the line upon which he himself was going to conduct the discussions in the further stages of this Bill. He proposed that while we should not be asked or expected to give way on any matter which was vital, we should endeavour to discuss the various Amendments which will be brought forward in such a way as to subordinate our opinions to the dominating purpose of doing our best for the children of the country. The President of the Board of Education is to be congratulated, indeed, the whole country can be congratulated upon the way in which the debate has been conducted. The right hon. Gentleman referred yesterday to some of these expressions of opinion as the dusty controversies of the past. In a sense they are, but they are historical opinions for which people in the past have suffered. The hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir J. Reynolds) also referred to these matters in the eloquent and sincere speech he made a short time ago, but it is well that the House should remember that these opinions have been held, and are held to-day, because it will enable us to deal with the realities of the situation. We can at least respect all opinions which are conscientiously and sincerely held.
1695 I am not here to represent the teaching profession, or any particular church or any of those bodies which have so far made concessions to reach the measure of agreement, the very remarkable measure of agreement, which has been attained. I stand here to claim equal treatment and justice for every section of the people I represent and, bearing that in mind, I have the greatest sympathy with the point of view put forward by the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr). The fact that there are views held so strongly as those held by the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) is not in any sense incompatible with the fact that justice is required to be done to those who have made extraordinary sacrifices on their own behalf to provide education for their own children, while at the same time they are called upon to make contributions towards the maintenance of schools for the children of other people. The speech of the hon. Member for Bodmin, based on historical grounds, was admirable in form and substance, and the speech of the hon. Member for Mile End was in form and substance, and in sincerity, a very useful and remarkable contribution to these discussions. That is where I wish to leave that particular point, and come back to the matter which was brought to the attention of the Committee by the hon. Member for Southampton (Mr. Morley).
He referred to the first paragraph in the Financial Memorandum to the Bill and suggested that an inadequate sum of money was proposed to be taken to meet the objects in view. He suggested that the cost of the education per child, while at school, was in the neighbourhood of £6. According to a calculation—I have seen the amount which is proposed to be provided is somewhat less than £5 17s. There is a remarkable gap between that provision—and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will deal with this matter, although I know it is extremely difficult to give any accurate estimate—of £5 17s. per head and the figure of the total cost of the education of a child in a primary school for 1928–29, which is £12 10s. per head. This Committee should have some explanation of that extraordinary difference. The cost of salaries of teachers per child in 1696 the year 1928 was £8 8s. per head. Now the cost foreshadowed in this Financial Memorandum is £5 17s. per head for the whole thing. One is aware that there are many charges which will not necessarily increase when the additional children are in the school. The costs of administration, for example, will not advance very appreciably, and in some districts possibly not at all. Loan charges are not likely to increase immediately. In some districts they will not advance very substantially. I should be grateful if the Parliamentary Secretary in his reply could indicate more specifically why it is that there is this extraordinary discrepancy between what is proposed in the Financial Resolution and the ordinary costs of maintaining and educating a child in a primary school.
I give these proposals my support for the reasons that I have mentioned. One of the questions that we are called upon to decide, in discussing this Resolution, is whether or not the school age is to be raised now or whether the raising of it is to be postponed indefinitely. It seems to me that all these proposals hang together. While the expenditure which we are discussing cannot be accurately estimated, it is equally true that the savings cannot be estimated. We know that the Malcolm Committee suggested that the saving, from the point of view of unemployment, might not be very great, but I disagree with that opinion, especially in the present circumstances, because it, is generally true that if you withdraw from unemployment a certain age group, the work which they normally do is done in the course of time by the age group immediately above them, and that reacts throughout the whole scale of employment. It is particularly true that for the next five, or possibly ten years, the effect of these proposals on unemployment will be the maximum which can be expected, because there is a shortage of employment in these particular groups. More than one speaker has already said what I believe to be profoundly true, that the expenditure of this money will for the first time enable the country to have a reasonable prospect of getting full value for the very much larger sums which we spend year by year on the education of the children of the country.
§ Mr. A. SOMERVILLE
It is very pleasant to hear so much agreement amongst those who have spoken yesterday and to-day. I was particularly glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) express appreciation of the attitude that had been taken up by the late Minister of Education, as to the lines on which he intended to deal with this question. If I may say so, they are the right lines. We must try to divest ourselves of the religious and party spirit, if possible, in seeking the object which we all have at heart, and that is the good of the child. I was particularly interested in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), though it was rather alarming to hear him speak of the disastrous effect of the teaching profession on genius. I recall the story of two distinguished university teachers, great rivals, who were discussing the effect of corporal punishment on the mentality of boys. One said, "I do not believe in corporal punishment. I was once flogged for telling the truth." "Well," said the other, "it effectually cured you."
It is impossible not to recognise the earnestness and the sincerity with which the Minister has dealt with this question. I for one am very glad to recognise the courage and the spirit of reasonable compromise with which he has approached the most important question of the non-provided schools. If the Bill dealt with that question alone, and we could drop the immediate raising of the school age and the maintenance grant, I think we might have an unopposed Bill. My object in rising was chiefly to give expression to the alarm felt by my county of Berkshire as to the financial effect of the Bill. The Berkshire authority is a progressive authority. I know the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman well. I have been round with them to schools in the county to see how the work of reorganisation was going on, and, as the Minister knows, for he has received a resolution from them, they have worked out this question of expense and have estimated that the effect of the Bill will be to add from 8d. to 9d. to the rates. Frankly, this is not a time to add that amount to the rates. It is a question of very serious consideration all over the country.
There are one or two points on which I would like to add a few words. First 1698 of all there is the cost of the Bill. The Minister told us that the raising of the school age would call for about 7,500 additional teachers, but he made no mention of the number of additional teachers required at the present moment. If he reduces all classes above 50 he will require at least 3,000 more teachers. So that next year, when the Bill comes into operation, if he does justice to the present system, he will require 10,500 teachers, and that will add enormously to the expense of the Bill. I put it to the Committee that it is more statesmanlike and more sensible to reform existing abuses than to attempt to effect a very considerable change which requires an enormous additional expenditure. Then there are the black-listed schools. There were quite recently 530 of such schools, in which were 176,520 children. I put it that it is the Minister's duty to see that these schools are put into proper order for the pupils before he undertakes great additional expenditure.
There is another interesting point. When this Bill comes into operation there will be required a very much larger number of men teachers. I think the Minister will agree that it is not a good thing that boys of 14 should be taught by women; it is better that they should be taught by men. Also a much larger supply of men teachers is required, in the selective central schools in particular, and in the technical schools. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman's attention has been directed to the necessity of organising these technical schools, of linking them up with the Universities, as has been so well shown in a recent book by the late Minister of Education? I find that the number of men entrants to training colleges in 1927 was 2,370; in 1928, 2,209, and in 1929, 2,790, which shows that there will be a slight increase in the number of men teachers available. But if the right hon. Gentleman is to do justice to the system, he will have to provide a much larger number of men teachers. It is all very well to speak of roping in another age group, but before you can give them the right kind of education you must be sure that you have the right teachers, and 10,500 more teachers are necessary. We have had vague explanations as to the reserves of teachers to be drawn upon—the married 1699 women who have given up teaching, and the teachers who are about to retire—but what we want for the boys and girls of 14 whom we are going to keep in the schools, is a type of education different from the education which those teachers have been in the habit of giving. If we do not provide that education, it is worse than useless to keep these children in schools.
What has been the cause of the Hadow report and the reorganisation of our system? It has been the feeling in the country, and the knowledge among those who have studied the question, that in the last two years of their school life children were "marking time," were going round like squirrels in a cage and were making no advance. The Hadow Committee considered the matter and their remarkable report was produced in the beginning of 1927. In 1928 my Noble Friend the ex-President of the Board of Education produced that very interesting document, "A New Prospect in Education," the value of which is recognised among teachers but not as it ought to be in the country generally. I appeal to a practical teacher like the Parliamentary Secretary to say if that booklet did not mark a new era in education. The immense work of reorganisation which it outlined is now going on all over the country and is not likely to be completed next year or the year after. Would it not be better in the interests of true education to complete that reorganisation, to provide the necessary teachers, to increase the accommodation of the training colleges, and to get the students into those training colleges? Would it not be more statesmanlike to carry through that great work first before undertaking another experiment without making any real estimate of the cost to the country?
It seems ungracious to oppose maintenance grants. Hon. Members opposite have drawn a moving picture of the poor family which ought to be aided in this way in order that the boys and girls may be sent to school between the ages of 14 and 15. I thoroughly sympathise with that view, but I cannot help feeling that you are taking away from the children more than you are giving them by this proposal. You are surrounding them with an atmosphere of 1700 State dependence, you are pauperising them. I go into the schools and I find a spirit of self-reliance there. I find that independence of character is being taught and I rejoice, but I come here and I find a spirit of pauperism—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish!"] Yes, you have given the dole—and it is a real dole because there has been no contribution for it—to boys and girls of 15, and now you are giving maintenance grants. Far better, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Beaumont), to spend the money on scholarships. You would get a much greater return in that way. Our young people are being brought up to feel that they can depend on the State for everything, and in the long run that feeling will sap their independence and will render them of far less use as citizens to the country. We see the results of that feeling in the unwillingness to undertake any adventure in connection with the question of migration—but I should be wandering outside the limits of order by going into that matter. All I would say, as one who has had considerable experience in the teaching of boys of 13, 14 and 15, is that I feel that this Bill, except in the matter of the concordat—which I sincerely hope will be accepted on all sides with the addition of an Amendment turning a temporary agreement into a permanent one—is on the wrong lines, and that its effect on the young people of the country will be to make them, not better citizens, but dependents of the State.
§ Mr. THURTLE
I do not think that the House will be much moved by the touching reference of the last speaker to the possibility of children of our elementary schools being demoralised by State assistance. When he mentioned that matter, I could not help thinking of the students of endowed schools like Eton and Harrow and it occurred to me that those students do not feel demoralised or inferior owing to the fact that they are getting their education largely as a result of charities of many hundreds of years ago.
§ Mr. A. SOMERVILLE
The hon. Member is absolutely incorrect. I can tell him, as regards the boys of Eton school, that their parents pay for their education and that the endowments of which he speaks are used for other purposes.
§ Mr. THURTLE
I will not go into the point now, but I believe that but for those endowments of the past, the fees in such schools would be very much higher than they are to-day.
§ Mr. THURTLE
In any case, I do not propose to take up more time in dealing with that matter. I am going to endeavour to put what is perhaps a new point of view in this discussion. We have heard the views of the Roman Catholic church, the Anglican church and the Nonconformists and I hope I may now be permitted very briefly to put the view of the Rationalist towards this question. In case the Committee are in any doubt as to what is meant by a Rationalist, may I say that a Rationalist is a person who accepts reason as his supreme guide and who is not tied down by the authority or weight of the ages, but faces all problems from the standpoint of reason. The hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir J. Reynolds), referring to the admirable speech of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot), said it carried him back to the Middle Ages. He must have misunderstood the purport of that speech. If I understood the hon. Member for Bodmin aright, his plea was that the village school should be rid of the domination of the parson and the priest. His plea was that the teacher should be able to exercise his intellectual judgment without fetters. It was a plea that we should get away from the authority and dogma of the Middle Ages dawn to the realities of the present day.
I would like to make one other reference to the speech of the hon. Member. He said he hoped there would not be any concession in Committee in regard to the concordat, and I would like to appeal to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education to stand very firmly against any attempt to force through concessions of that, kind. There is a great volume of opinion in this House, and a much larger volume of opinion in the country, which is strongly against the use of State money for the purposes of sectarian teaching, and my right hon. Friend would be quite misinterpreting the feeling in the country if he were to give way any further in that direction. He has already gone rather too far in that direction.
I welcome very strongly the raising of the school leaving age. It would be 1702 very strange if a person like myself, who had to leave school at a very early age, and who has always been conscious since then of what he has lacked through having to leave school early, were not to welcome a move to raise the school leaving age, especially in view of the fact that, like most other hon. Members, I am determined to see that my children do not leave school at anything like the age at which I left. Therefore, I am thoroughly in support of the general idea of the raising of the school leaving age, and I wish we had that proposal alone before us to-day, but unfortunately, along with that rather pleasant draft, we have to swallow this bitter pill of granting more public money for sectarian purposes.
It is said that this is an essential compromise, and that if we were not to do this, we should not get the school leaving age raised. I believe that a mistake is being made there. I do not regard this House on this issue as being an accurate reflection of opinion in the country. I believe there is a preponderant volume of opinion in the country which would welcome the sweeping away of the dual system in education, and the establishment of a real national system, and not a system of what you might call sectarian shreds and patches such as we have at the present time. The money which we are going to grant this afternoon is partly money which is to be used for the teaching of religious dogma. I deny that it is the business of the State to teach religious dogma of any kind. Since those Middle Ages to which the hon. Member has referred, it has been an accepted doctrine in the constitutional practice of this country that the State ought not to teach religion, that in matters of religion the State ought to be neutral, and I submit that there is no more case in reason for using State money for the teaching of sectarian doctrine than there is for using State money for the teaching of political doctrine.
If a case can be made out for the establishment of a Roman Catholic elementary school built and maintained by State funds, or an Anglican elementary school built and maintained by State funds, an equally strong case can be made out for a Socialist elementary school built and maintained by State 1703 funds, because to very large numbers of people in this country now an economic and sociological faith like Socialism is just as deep and strong as any of the other religious faiths, and we have just as much right to argue that State money should be used for the propagation of a faith of that kind as others have that it should be used for the propagation of the other and somewhat older faiths.
if I wanted to teach my boy Socialist dogma, which fortunately I do not, because I do not believe in teaching small children dogma of any kind—I like them to grow up to take their views from life as they find it—I could do it in the home, or by means of the political organisations which exist, or by means of Socialist literature; and if the Church wants to teach her children her dogma, she should do it by means of her churches, her Sunday schools, her literature, and her members in their own homes. If people hold so strongly that it is vital for their children's welfare that their children should imbibe the faith which they hold, there is ample opportunity for them in their own homes, in their Sunday schools, and in their churches to see that their children get that kind of faith.
The hon. Member for Bodmin made a very strong case, which impressed the whole of the Committee, concerning the disabilities under which Nonconformists will labour in connection with this Bill. If it is true that Nonconformists will labour under all those disabilities, it is even more true that Rationalists, the people who are not allied to any form of religion, will labour under even greater disabilities. There are the cases of all those 1,200 voluntary schools controlled by the Church of England and of the 12,000 controlled by the Roman Catholic Church, and, so far as all those schools are concerned, they are a closed area, not merely to the Nonconformists, but to the Rationalist teachers of this country. We must remember that this is a scientific age and that Rationalists are growing every year, every decade. No Rationalist teacher can hope to enter into any of these 13,000 sectarian schools.
The hon. Member for the Exchange Division said that it was ludicrous and that it would be an outrage to imagine a Nonconformist or a non-Catholic teacher as a master or mistress in a Catholic school. But, at the present 1704 time all the other schools, the non-voluntary schools, are open to Catholic teachers. When a local education authority wishes to select a headmaster or headmistress of one of these schools, it does not presume to impose any religious test upon the applicant. It is quite possible for a Catholic to become the headmaster or headmistress of a school of that kind without any difficulty whatever, and I say that the Catholics cannot have it both ways. [An HON. MEMBER: "They do not!"] An hon. Friend says they do not, but, as a matter of practice, they do. I could give him the names of several headmasters of schools in London at the present time under public control who are Roman Catholics. I say that it is very unfair to the Nonconformists or the Rationalists that they should be put into this kind of position.
I am speaking now in almost isolation, but I would like to say this: I believe that, outside this House, there is not merely a large body of people, but there is a majority of the people who have now ceased to be adherents to what might be called organised religion. Apply the test of the attendance at churches, apply the test of attendance at Sunday schools, and you will find that the great bulk of the people do not go to churches, and that the great bulk of the people refrain from sending their children to the Sunday schools these days. If that is a fact—and it is a fact—might we not reasonably deduce from it that these people have ceased to believe in organised religion as it is known at the present time.
As far as teachers are concerned, I would like to make this additional point. It is accepted, I think, that the great change in religious belief which has taken place in the last 50 or 100 years has been due to the onward rush of scientific knowledge. It is overturning to-day many of the settled beliefs of the organised religions. Teachers undergo scientific training and acquire all the facts of science, and it must be that in an educated class like that, as in all the professional classes of the country to-day, there is a very large number who have ceased to subscribe to what is known as conventional religion. It is on behalf of those people, on behalf of the intellectual and spiritual liberty of those people, that I am putting in a protest against a Measure which is going to 1705 impose religious tests on a very large proportion of them, and I think that I am perfectly entitled to do it.
I will make one other point. I speak for myself, and I think I speak for a very large number of others, but, anyhow, speaking for myself is sufficient for me. It is said that the reason why religious bodies want their schools enlarged and maintained at the State expense is simply in order that the children may receive the religious teaching in which their parents believe. I hope that when the Committee stage of this Bill is reached, we shall be able to put that contention to the test, because I would like to draw attention to this fact. At the present time State money is to be used, probably as in the case of that Surrey parish to which the noble Lord referred, to take a small black-listed church school, which is to be enlarged, renovated and made the most up-to-date building at the public expense, and, it is said, solely for the purpose of giving the children teaching.
What is the position? That school will be used for, roughly, 30 hours every week out of 168 for the purposes of elementary teaching. What is going to happen in the remaining 138 hours of the week? As a matter of fact, a building which has been enlarged, renovated and made up-to-date by public money, is to be at the disposal of the sectarian authority for much the greater part of the week. They can use it in the evenings. They can use it all through the week-end for the purpose of promulgating their sectarian theories. I submit that it is contrary to all that this House has ever stood for that we should grant public money in that way. Therefore, I hope that when the Committee stage is reached, so far from there being any concessions made to the sectarians in the proposed Measure, we shall be able so to modify it and circumscribe it as to prevent them, apart from the question of teaching children, making use of public money for the purpose of spreading their sectarian ideas.
I did not intend to say anything about it, but mention has been made of the question of the maintenance allowances, and I would like to support some of my hon. Friends who spoke on this side in expressing my regret that it has not been found possible to make these 1706 allowances to the parents of children quite irrespective of any income test. I think that the inquisition into the private details of the families of the poor which takes place now in connection with old age pensions is a very despicable and undesirable inquisition, and the kind of inquisition which is going to take place under this Bill will be, if anything, even more despicable. Therefore, I hope that, between now and the Committee stage, the Minister will see if it, is not possible to concede what, I am sure, is a very strong demand in his own ranks, and something which, I am sure, would be backed up by the great mass of opinion in the country, that is, to see if he cannot concede that the means test may be abolished.
§ Captain WATERHOUSE
We are this afternoon discussing a Financial Resolution which arises out of three provisions in the Bill. The first is, to extend the age of school attendance from 14 to 15. The second is, to provide maintenance allowances. The third, and infinitely the smallest from the financial point of view, is that dealt with in Clause 2, and yet, it seems to me, that at least two-thirds of our time to-day has been taken up in discussing the intricacies of that Clause, not from a financial point of view, but from the point of view of its merits. I do not propose to follow those arguments in the few minutes I shall detain the Committee. The hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) asked us to be Ration alists. I strongly dislike the term "Rationalist," but he defined the Rationalist as somebody who accepts reason as his supreme guide, and I venture to ask the Committee to accept reason as their supreme guide this afternoon, and to examine, if they will, whether or not we in this country at this moment are in a position to embark at all upon the very large increased expenditure involved in this Measure. Speaking yesterday, the right hon. Member the President of the Board of Education, when urged from behind for a larger and wider maintenance grant, said:In any case, I tell my friends that I have not got the money. I do not believe that every Department in the State can for all its purposes get all the money that it wants.1707 After that extraordinary true and sound expression of opinion, he went on to give the House a very interesting little side-light as to what happened five years ago when he held the same position. He explained that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has never been a hard taskmaster with him, and that he has always been ready to comply with his request. He said:When I last held this office for a few months, the Chancellor of the Exchequer found, at the end of our administration, that he had £300,000 going—a windfall.What did he do with that?He gave it to me."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th May, 1930; col. 1523, Vol. 239.]That calls to mind a touching little scene. One can imagine the Chancellor of the Exchequer rising with a beaming face from adding up a long column of figures, and, glancing across to the right hon. Gentleman, saying, "It is true that I have got £300,000. It is yours—blew it!" There must have been something of the "blew it" attitude in Cabinet circles when this Bill was first brought forward. In 1913 we spent on elemetary education £25,500,000, and for that sum we educated some 6,000,000 children, at a cost of £4 5s. per child per year. At present values, that is £6 17s. To-day we educate 5,500,000 children at a cost of £61,500,000, or £11 3s. per child per year. If we say that we do not grudge the money which is being spent on education, can we answer this question in the affirmative—"Are our children to-day getting three times as good an education as they were in 1913, or anything like it?" Another interesting sidelight arises in studying these statistics, which the right hon. Gentleman was good enough to put in tabular form some time ago in answer to a question. In the same period, the cost of secondary education per child fell from £25 6s. in 1913, based on present values, to £19, so that there has been a marked decrease in the cost of secondary education, and a marked increase in the cost of primary education.
We have to think hard and close before we decide that the present is the right moment to increase our educational costs by 10 per cent. for an advantage which at best is a matter of doubt or supposition. It is true that hon. Members opposite, and I daresay hon. Members on the Liberal benches, are saying that I am 1708 producing the old argument that we cannot afford it, an argument which has been used against every advance that has ever been suggested. What is the answer? If a fairly healthy individual goes to a rotten doctor and gets bad treatment, it may not kill him, and 20 years later he may be as hale and hearty as ever he was, but that is no reason why all individuals should go to rotten doctors and submit to bad treatment. Because we are a vigorous and virile race, we will undoubtedly pull through this; this £5,000,000 will not break us, but will it be a real setback or a real help? Are we, in other words, going to get value for the £5,000,000 which we propose to spend at a time when industry is in a ghastly position, when unemployment is increasing, when revenue is declining, and taxation from other sources is increasing?
Is it quite the right time to tackle this problem? The right hon. Gentleman pointed out at great length yesterday that this was merely a measure for dealing with unemployment. Surely the House is not going to swallow anything of that sort. The transfer of an unemployed boy from one account to another does not make him any less unemployed. It makes no difference from the point of view of the production of national wealth whether a boy is registered with the right hon. Gentleman's friend as an unemployed boy, or whether he is unproductive at school. The right hon. Gentleman says that he is not unproductive at school, because he is being given knowledge which will make him a better producer in future life. But what if, when that future life comes, he is unable to find a job for a year or for two or three years? Will he not deteriorate and lose more by the years of idleness than he gained by his one year of extra tuition? If that will be the effect from the national point of view, what will the effect on the individual be by this change? The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) and other hon. Gentlemen said, "The answer to that is that everybody who can afford it leaves their children at school until 14 and 15." Everybody leaves their children at school until 17 or 18 if they can afford it, and why should we stop at 14 and 15? There is only one reason that I can see, and that is the economic reason. It is the economic reason which precludes the extension to 15.
1709 The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, has thought out this far more carefully than I have, but I submit to him that he should think again of the position of the families in one of the textile industries, in, say Manchester or Leicester or the West Riding of Yorkshire. At a time when wages have been reduced in the cotton industry, and when a great strike is taking place in the woollen industry, and where, whichever side wins, there will be a further deduction of wages; at a time when unemployment is rife, and when short-time is prevalent; at a time when the family income is at its very lowest; at this time the right hon. Gentleman comes forward and says, "In spite of all this, I have decided to take away from that family income a definite and fairly certain part of its receipts." He will give 5s. for the boy who is now earning his 12s. or 15s. That will cost a family with two children aged 13 and 14, 10s. a week for two years, and I hope that they will never have two harder years to get through than these From the point of view of the individual, therefore, the time is as bad a one as could possibly be chosen for the introduction of this legislation.
I am an unashamed opponent of what is called free education; I say advisedly "what is called free education." If it were possible to get poured down from Heaven the manna of education and a shower of gold which would provide people with a really free education, there is nobody on this side or in the country but who would rejoice and say, "By all means let us have free education." What does this free education amount to? How is the money obtained? How often have I heard hon. Members say when speaking of public expenditure "Essentially, all the money comes from the pockets of the wage earners." Is not that true in this case? Of course, it is true. Then the wage earners are paying for their own education. [Interruption.] I am very glad to hear those cheers, because it makes my argument so much more simple. The people are paying for their education, although they do not realise it. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that the worst tax is an indirect tax, and the best tax is a direct tax.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. and gallant Member is covering too wide 1710 a field. The Money Resolution does not raise the issue of free education, but the extension of the school age by one year. There are Estimates on which the general question can be discussed, but the Money Resolution merely provides for an extension of the existing system.
§ Captain WATERHOUSE
I bow to your ruling, Sir, but I hope that by the time I have ended this part of my speech I shall have so convinced the right hon. Gentleman that he will say that this Resolution is unnecessary. The people already pay for their education indirectly through their wages, and the wage level is reduced because of the high cost of rates and taxes. It is infinitely better to ask a man to pay directly for what he has got than to give him a service for which he pays indirectly, because what one does not pay for one does not appreciate so much. At the present time we have health insurance cards and unemployment insurance cards, and I quite seriously suggest to the right hon. Gentleman and his Department that they should consider the introduction of education cards, even if the stamps were only for a halfpenny or a penny per week. That would be a beginning in the right direction, and eventually we might get to an economic level of wages in this country which would enable people to pay for the education which their children get.
I turn to the question of maintenance allowances. I hope that at no stage of the proceedings will the right hon. Gentleman try to shelter himself behind this excellent report, which has been issued by so many eminent representatives of equally distinguished authorities, because I find that in paragraph 2 the right hon. Gentleman gave definite and categorical instructions to them as to what they had to investigate and what they had to report upon. They say:You had previously indicated in your statement that the Government had decided that the State should pay grant or allowances not exceeding five shillings a week.Therefore the Government had already fixed the amount. It is also mentioned that the Government had decided that the maintenance grant should be given in relation to means. That is the point I want to raise. Is it not an entirely new departure to give grants in relation to means as opposed 1711 to necessity—or, rather, is it not a reactionary departure? We had the same principle in old age pensions, and for years there was a national protest against what were called the inquisitorial methods of discovering a person's means. When hon. Members opposite sat on this side of the House they very strongly condemned that system. Means, when expressed in pounds, shillings and pence, often have not the same value over the country as a whole. The means of somebody in London, if judged on the basis of pounds, shillings and pence, are not comparable with the similar means of somebody in Northamptonshire or Oxford-shire or Norfolk. Every locality has got its own level of means, and every locality ought to be judged by the necessities of its own inhabitants. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether it would not be better to do away with the means test and to substitute a need test.
My last point deals with the possibility of carrying this scheme to a successful issue at the present moment. What experience I have of education by public authorities has been derived in the last few years from my constituency in Leicester and from my home village, where there is a small school, of which I am a manager. If all cities in England were arranged like the City of Leicester it would be perfectly easy to bring in this scheme and bring it in effectively, because there is a city organised in every way for expansion and the children can be absorbed, albeit at a considerable cost; but take the case of a small authority in the hills of Derbyshire where there is one school with 26 or 30 children, with one certificated teacher and one assistant teacher. The children start attending at the age of five and stay until they are 12, and between the ages of 12 and 14 they go to another village where there is another comparatively small school which is a semi-central school. That is not an isolated case, but it is typical of thousands throughout the country. Will those children be better citizens for being kept an extra year at school, or are they going to be worse? The period between 12 and 15 is a very critical age for any boy, he gets up to a lot of mischief, and what little he will gain in knowledge he will more than lose through being under the discipline not of his father, if he is 1712 working for his father, but of a "school marm." When we come to look back, I do not think we shall be able to say this was a wise provision at this particular time.
In conclusion, I would ask, Who wants this Bill? The children have not called for it. One could not expect them to call for it. They would not be healthy children if they did. Have the parents called for it? Have the local authorities called for it? Has the country as a whole called for it? I think the answer to all those three questions is undoubtedly in the negative. But there is a call for this Bill and the call has come from the very able office over which the right hon. Gentleman presides. [Interruption.] No, the call has not even come from the teachers, because I know that many teachers realise that the time is quite inopportune for the change. It is the call of a bureaucracy to a bureaucrat. They have been boiling up inside their office for years, thinking out this scheme, and now the time has come to say: We have got somebody in who does not care much about the public purse. Let us get it crashed through. Let us put it through now while we have got him and got him hot. I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman is being persuaded in this matter against his better judgment. I do not think that this Bill has been introduced in the right year, but the month and the day are appropriate, for I am afraid that on the 1st April next the right hon. Gentleman will find that he has made a fool of the children, a fool of the parents and a fool of the local authorities.
§ Sir C. TREVELYAN
I think it will be convenient for me to intervene at this stage, because I understand that Scotland wants to say a word in regard to this Measure. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why Scotland?"] First of all, I want to say that I think all those who listened to the debate on education yesterday and to-day will feel that this has been the most interesting education debate that we can remember in our lives. To-day, we have had speeches from the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Beaumont), the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot), the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) and others, and the ingenious speech from the hon. and gallant Member for South Leicester (Captain Waterhouse) which we all agree were well worth listening to. 1713 I do not think I shall be contradicted when I say that the attack on this Bill has not been very fierce with the exception of the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for South Leicester. It has been asserted that this is a Bill which is only required by bureaucrats and that I am in the position of having been forced into bringing in the Measure. I can assure the Committee that that is not so. It is not always easy to say exactly how things come to the front, but it is not true to say that the local authorities do not want this Bill. I am now talking about the raising of the school age, and it is certainly untrue to say that on that point the local authorities are against the Bill.
The Hadow Committee which brought this question to the front was composed of men and women drawn from all positions in society, and when that Committee reported—I suppose the opinion of newspapers counts for something with hon. Members on the opposite side of the House—there was a general acceptation by the newspapers of the findings of the Hadow report, and at that time the only opposition came from the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy). I admit that politically the driving force of this Measure comes from the Labour party, but that is very interesting, because it happens that the question of raising the school age has been brought forward two or three times within living memory. As a rule, when this question has been raised there has always been a strong body of working-class opinion against it, but there is no such strong body of working-class opinion against the proposals of this Measure.
The real objection on the opposite side of the House to the Bill is that when the children arrive at the school-leaving age we shall not be ready for them. I want the Committee to remember a fact which I did not mention yesterday. We have not to be ready for these children on the 1st April next year, because that is only the beginning of the year in which the children will have to stay for a year longer at school. The increase will begin later, and it will not be until the autumn of the first year that there will be some 160,000 children extra in the schools. Consequently, it will not be until April of the following year that you will get the full increase. Therefore, you have a 1714 good many more months in which to prepare than hon. Members had in mind yesterday. I do not think that I need to explain that point any further.
I have said, and I say it again—nothing that has been said to-day has proved the contrary—that when we increase the number of children coming to the schools there will be sufficient school accommodation everywhere just as good as it was for the children under 14, and in a great many parts of the country there will be better school accommodation for them. In a great many parts of the country there will be at that time full accommodation in the schools intended to provide for all the children in the country. The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings spoke about our narrow activities, but it seems to me that that is a failure on his part to recognise his own effectiveness. It is quite true that one of the things I have to do is to organise so that there shall be sufficient schools and teachers to meet the requirements under this Bill.
Another fact which I would like to point out is that the character of the teaching in the schools is changing, and the whole object is to provide for that change. Up to the present time, since 1870, we have been working a system of elementary education which was originally started for teaching reading, writing and arithmetic to young children. That system has gradually been extended, until it is now teaching children up to the age of 14, and we are now asking it, or should be if we were not making changes, to teach children up to the age of 15. We have realised that, and the Noble Lord realised it, and he began organising, so that now we are going to take the older children and treat them separately and differently. It is quite true that in our Acts of Parliament we still call it elementary education, but it is no longer going to be elementary education; it is going to be advanced education.
The hon. and gallant Member for South Leicester called my attention to the fact that there has been a great increase in the expenditure on elementary education, and I will tell him the reason. The reason is that already the character of the elementary education, in the higher branches of schools 1715 especially, has changed, and is changing, so rapidly that more money is wanted in order to give the children a full chance. That is the real situation. I say again that, while I do not promise that all children, or, at first, I dare say, anything like all the children, are going to get the kind of education which we intend them to have in the next few years. Already, however, many thousands of them will get it if only we keep them in the schools, and I say that that, combined with the fact that economically it is going to be an advantage to the nation to have those children in school rather than working in industry at this moment, is a sufficient justification for our going on with this Bill.
There is only one other thing that I want to say to-day. I am glad of the general character of the debate as it has been directed to the proposals for dealing with voluntary schools. I think it is clear that all the speakers from every direction—those who were speaking more or less representatively for the Catholic community, the Free Churches, and others—spoke in a spirit that was very moderate and very helpful. I do not want, and I am not going, to deal in detail with any of their suggestions. I feel that it would be rather a good thing for me to be able to see the suggestions that come with good will from various quarters for the amendment of Clause 2. As I said yesterday, it is no use supposing that we can make very drastic alterations in Clause 2, because, if we do, we shall unbalance the proposals; but I think it might be quite a good thing, when we see what any proposals for alterations are, if, before we come to discuss them in the House, I could discuss them with the Members who are making them, and see whether, coming together, we could not come to some slightly different accommodation. I am ready to do that. I do not say, I do not wish to say, that I think that any material change is possible, but I think that the House, in dealing with a Bill of this sort, where it is quite clear that the desire in all quarters of the House is to produce something which is not going to cause popular irritation, which is not going to cause a deep sense of unfairness in any direction—I think that the House ought somehow or other to find a machine for a solution, if one is 1716 possible. I therefore hope that those who represent the various points of view will put down their Amendments, and that we may have some discussion with regard to them, to see if any accommodation is possible.
§ Major ELLIOT
I make no apology for raising the position as regard Scotland here, since this is a Financial Resolution which governs the Scottish Bill. I do not know if hon. Members in all parts of the Committee, and particularly hon. Members sitting for English constituencies, fully realise that, and, unless they realise it, they are bound to think that Scotland is butting into a discussion with which it is not concerned. Let me call the attention of the Committee, and particularly of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy), to the summary in the Financial Memorandum where, on page v, it is stated that, under Section 21 (1) of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1918, the charge falling on the funds with regard to English expenditure automatically involves a payment of eleven-eightieths to the Education (Scotland) Fund.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Are Scottish Members only going to take up eleven-eightieths of the time?
§ Major ELLIOT
I think that on the two occasions we have taken up much less than eleven-eightieths of the time, but I desire to be as short as possible, and I think that we might ask for the courtesy of our English colleagues.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is quite in order, but I want clearly to understand the position. I understand that under Section 21 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1918, the passing of this Money Resolution will automatically involve the payment of a sum equal to eleven-eightieths of the charge to the Education (Scotland) Fund. This Money Resolution, however, does not raise one single penny for Scottish education, except by implication.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
Might I ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether any provision is to be made in the shape of a financial resolution or otherwise for Scottish education when a Scottish Bill on these lines is introduced?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. William Adamson)
As is well known, we do not require to bring in legislation to enable us to raise the age to 15 but, at the same time, we require to bring in a small Bill to deal with maintenance.
§ Mr. SEXTON
When Scottish questions are discussed, English Members do not interfere at all. Is it fair that, while this is a purely English Measure and Scottish business is not concerned at all that the time of the House should be wasted?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
So far as I am concerned, I know neither Scottish, English nor Welsh, but only Members of this House.
§ Major ELLIOT
I simply ask our English colleagues to realise that, while they get a percentage of their local expenditure, the percentage that we get is entirely determined by their expenditure and not by ours, and I ask for their courtesy in allowing us to deal with this point since the cardinal feature of legislation, especially such legislation as this, is that we cannot discuss it otherwise than in so far as it affects the English expenditure, because the raising or lowering of the school age at Plymouth vitally affects the amount that will be available for Peterhead or Aberdeen, and it is impossible for us to draw a single penny extra for any portion of Scotland except in so far as that money represents the percentage of money expended in another period, in another place, under a Financial Resolution of this House dealing with English expenditure. I, therefore, say we have here an opportunity for discussing the effect of these changes so far as their repercussion in Scotland is concerned.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Might I ask whether the finance of the Scottish settlement has come out of the eleven-eightieths to which Scotland is entitled?
§ Major ELLIOT
No, there is no arrangement in advance of the present Bill in Scotland. The Secretary of State has stated that he has to keep in step with England in the matter and that it will be impossible for him to make these arrangements until an arrangement in England has been come to. The finance of that arrangement will come out of the eleven-eightieths of this grant, so that it 1718 is true that the grant only applies to England, yet, by implication, it rigidly determines the amount that will be available in Scotland, and it will be impossible for a single extra penny to be raised for Scottish expenditure except in so far as it is allowed by the expenditure under this Resolution. It is my only excuse for intervening in this debate.
I ask the Secretary of State to consider this point. He is not only getting the Financial Resolution for this Bill, but he is, by implication, getting a Financial Resolution for the Bill which he hopes to introduce either now or in the autumn dealing with the corresponding changes in Scotland. I beg of him to consider whether it is necessary for him to follow out in that Measure step by step, letter by letter, and comma by comma the arrangements now being made in respect of England. I would ask him not to follow out these arrangements with such meticulous relation to that present Bill. A different position exists in Scotland from that which exists in England. The religious settlement is quite different, and the position in regard to our educational problem is also different. We have a poor country with an enormously higher infantile mortality and a defective population, in some ways more defective than-the corresponding population in England.
We are approaching the limit of the taxable powers of the local authorities in Scotland. It is one of the great problems just now. The proportion of expenditure to be found from the rates is greater than that to be found from the central expenditure. From all parts of the House complaints are being made of the intolerable burdens which are being cast upon local resources. I would point out that, as far as Scotland is concerned, all these arrangements must come out of local resources, none of them can come out of central expenditure, because they are bound to be determined without any immediate relation to the necessities of the areas which will have to carry out the administrative arrangements which the Secretary of State is going to make. Some of the great local authorities have pointed out the position. Glasgow and other authorities have made reports asking for our attention to this matter. This seems to me to be mortgaging one of the last big advances which we 1719 shall be able to get in educational expenditure, I fear, for some years to come, and, therefore, the question of priority becomes of primary importance. Is it the most important thing to do in Scotland to raise the school age by another year? I submit that it is not, and that the question of smaller classes and the age of the admission of children are infinitely more necessary to be considered from the point of view of priority than the clapping on of another year at the end of school life. The condition of the schools, not the building of additional schools to enable the extra population to be brought in, but the bringing up-to-date of the school buildings, is a question infinitely more urgent and necessary than the raising of the school age at the present time by another year. Those of us who have seen the school buildings—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. and gallant Member is really trespassing beyond the scope of the Financial Resolution. The position is that an additional sum of money will be available for education in Scotland. It is not proper to anticipate at this stage what the appropriate Bill will contain. All these matters which the hon. and gallant Member is now discussing will be in Order when such Bill appears before the House.
§ Major ELLIOT
That is true, and I must how to your ruling. I am desirous of keeping within the limits of Order, but when the Bill comes, all that we shall be able to discuss will be reduction of certain sums, because it will not be possible for us to get any more money.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
That equally applies to this Money Resolution. The amount is definitely fixed.
§ Major ELLIOT
I only wish to bring out the point that the Scottish local authorities have a deep and intimate concern with this Financial Resolution, and that they have an uneasiness as to whether their financial resources will enable them to carry out the duties which are about to be placed upon them with the finance which will be available within the terms of this Resolution, and the accompanying Memorandum. I am deeply anxious that the Secretary of State for Scotland should not unduly 1720 mortgage the resources of the local authorities, because I claim that there are other things which seem more deserving of priority. I do not see any need for entering into discussion with the Secretary of State as to whether the money will be available or not. I do not want to discuss these intimate domestic details in the presence of hon. Members who are not so deeply concerned, but I do say that the educational system—
§ Major ELLIOT
I do not wish to detain the House, nor do I think that interruptions are the best way of shortening the debate, but I do say that the financial resources which will be available to us in Scotland are as of much importance to me as to any other hon. Member, and I claim the right as a Member of this House to speak about financial business intimately concerning my own country. I make no apology for having intervened. I hope that my colleagues in other parts of the House will bear with Scottish Members when we raise our own questions here, because this is the only time when we can raise the financial question in which we are vitally concerned.
§ Mr. KEDWARD
It would be a very great mistake for the President of the Board of Education to assume that the speeches that have been delivered from these benches really represent the case against certain clauses of this Bill. He will be indulging himself with a false sense of security if he thinks that there is not determined opposition to this Measure. He will find that this Measure is going to raise a storm in this country, which I and other hon. Members think will be strong enough to kill the Bill. The Bill is against the thing for which the right hon. Gentleman stood in past days, and for which the party behind him has stood. The Bill contains very objectionable features. It fastens on our educational system the old system of dual control. It will raise in every local authority, in every local centre, the old religious difficulties and differences. It imposes religious tests for teachers by the local authority. It puts power into the hands of managers to question and cross-examine teachers about their religious views.
1721 I want the House to consider what this Bill will do, and to think for a moment of managers who are going to make up their minds as to the religious qualifications of a teacher and whether he has the right religious qualifications. The managers can object to the teacher, even after he has been appointed, if they think the teaching that he has given is not suitable. Even the Church itself is going through a period of transition. You may be faced with this possibility, that the teacher with the best qualifications will be appointed to a position by the managers as being the most suitable man to give religious instruction. Then there is a change of managers—
§ Mr. MATHERS
On a point of Order. I fail to see the connection between the religious question and the Financial Resolution.
§ Mr. KEDWARD
This is a matter which will have to be faced both in toil House and in the country. We have not heard much about it during the course of the debate, because it has so happened that those hon. Members who represent this point of view have not been selected, but there are many hon. Members In this House who will fight this Bill line by line right to the end. The day has not passed when all religious convictions are dead. We did think that at any rate the Labour party stood for a national system of education and that the day would come, it might be slowly and gradually, when we should have a national system of education. Now we are going to give a new lease of life to the denominational schools and to impose tests for the first time through the education authority on teachers. This proposal will be met, and rightly met, by all people who hare education and the welfare of the children at heart by the fiercest opposition. Under this Pill you will probably move children from a State school into a denominational school. You are going to give the right of withdrawal when the religious instruction is being given. I know something about that. You are going to separate children into little categories and compounds. If this was a proposal by hon. Members above the Gangway I could understand it, but coming from the 1722 Labour party, and from the right hon. Gentleman with his record, is really beyond my comprehension. We are at the beginning of things now, but the right hon. Gentleman must expect a storm of opposition to this Bill.
§ Mr. W. ADAMSON
I want to reply briefly to the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot). We are to discuss an Amendment which is to be moved, as time and opportunity offers, but the hon. and gallant Member seemed to think that we should discuss it under conditions which would not permit of a full and adequate debate. The hon. and gallant Member seemed to express doubt as to whether Scotland would get her share of the Exchequer grants after the raising of the school age. I do not think there is any need for anxiety in the matter In any case it is too early now to raise the question. If and when, as the outcome of experience, it becomes known that Scotland is prejudiced, the time to raise the question will have arrived. It is a subject which can and will be examined every year in the light of the actual expenditure of that year. As far as experience has gone, up to now Scotland has had no cause to complain under what is known as the eleven-eightieths principle. If in future there is cause to complain, hon. Members may rest assured that I will state that complaint in no uncertain voice, whether I am sitting here or on the opposite benches. As I said in a former discussion, the present estimate is necessarily only approximate, and I am taking steps to ascertain more accurately from the Education Authorities which have just taken up their duties what the experience is. If adjustment is necessary it can be made at the proper time. That will be on a small Bill which I intend to introduce myself. The issue can then be raised.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I would not have intervened had it not been for the speech of the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) and another of my hon. Friends below the Gangway. I am not going to deal with the question of denominational 1723 education. I would have been content to have left that question where my hon. Friend the Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) left it yesterday. But the matter has been raised to-day in a manner most distasteful to the religious opinions which I represent. We are told that outside this House there is a strong feeling against placing denominational teaching on the rates and taxes. Again I must point out to my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch that I see no difference in principle, though I do see a difference in morality, between placing denominational teaching on the rates and placing the advocacy of birth control on the rates. I regret very much that this matter should have been introduced. The hon. Member referred to a bitter pill, but I wonder if he is aware of how bitter a pill this is to the consciences of the people belonging to my faith. I am not going into the ethics of the case at all, but the fact remains that those who hold conscientious religious convictions have as much right to advocate the teaching of their views at the expense of the rates as the hon. Member as to suggest that the advocacy of the views which I have mentioned should be carried out at the expense of the public—though in his view one is a vice and the other is a virtue.
I come now to the only point with which I wanted to deal apart from those considerations and that is the protest which has been raised by hon. Members opposite against the extra cost involved in raising the school age from 14 to 15. As I listened to the speeches on this subject it occurred to me that there are two kinds of illiterates. There are the illiterates in the ordinary sense and the educated illiterates; and we have had some awful examples of the waste of time and money involved in the education of some hon. Gentlemen opposite. I welcome wholeheartedly, in principle, the proposal for the raising of the school age. My own education was limited because, under the economic conditions which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite talk so much about, when I went to school, we had to take our coppers with us and contribute to the schoolmasters' wages and we had to provide the means of heating the schoolhouse. I had to leave school at the age of 9½ and go to work in the very con- 1724 stituency which I now represent at a wage of 2s. 6d. a week for a 12 hour day. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen now ask where the money is to come from? That is where it came from in those days. Why should the children of the working-class be compelled to leave school at 10 or 12 or 14, so that people of the type of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite can use child labour to make dividends, in order that their children may go to Oxford and Cambridge? Then when those people graduate, they go back to the constituency in which their victims live, and the working-class fathers and mothers are asked to send them here to Parliament to perpetuate the same damnable system.
The hon. Member for Royton (Dr. Davies) spoke in opposition to this proposal with, shall I say, an unconscious vindictiveness. He referred to the waste of time and the waste of money involved in raising the school age and he said that it would be of little if any advantage to the boys and girls concerned. Why should the children of the working-classes be compelled to leave school, even at 14 or 15 years of age, in order to go into the labour market as Cheap labour, to enable the employers and landlords to make dividends and send their children to colleges at Oxford and Cambridge? Whatever modification is suggested and the right hon. Gentleman accepts, personally, I and all my co-religionists on this side intend, under proper safeguards, to support this Bill loyally and heartily when the right time comes to do so.
Sir NAIRNE STEWART SANDEMAN
I am very surprised indeed to hear the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) let himself go in a way that we are not accustomed to hear from him. He is generally one of the most moderate of the party opposite. He talked about raising the school age, but does he want everyone to go to Oxford or Cambridge? [Hon. Members: "Why not?"] I believe that if that happened, there would not be one hon. Member left on the benches opposite. I am sorry that I missed the debate yesterday on the Second Reading of the Education Bill. I had to go up to Lancashire, where I heard, among other things, what they were saying about this Bill. I did not come away with any feeling that they were greatly enamoured of the Bill. They 1725 certainly are not enamoured of it, and neither am I. I should have voted against it yesterday, had I been here. I would very much like to make a Second Reading speech, but I know that I should be called to order. I hope, however, I may be allowed to verge on the borders.
I have been opposed all my life to getting what you might call false values, and I can see any amount of false values on the benches opposite. I am really very keen indeed on education, but there are certain people who can take education and certain people who cannot. I believe that after the age of 14 you can very well tell the people who ought to be educated further and who ought to be encouraged.
I am not against bursaries, or scholarships, or anything you like for those who can go further, but they cannot all go to Oxford or Cambridge; they are not all geniuses. I believe that a certain number of them have to get to their work soon. There is skill with the brain, and there is skill with the hands. As far as the cotton people are concerned, I believe that if many years are spent on secondary education, the skill with the hand will go. [interruption.] I know something about this. I believe that if they are to have the skill with the hands, they must get into the mill young.
We do not know what this Bill is going to cost. Did one ever hear of such a farce? Here are people going into a huge expenditure of money, and have not added up what the cost is to be. We do not know what it is going to cost, but we are pretty certain how much good is coming out, of it. As far as Lancashire is concerned, I do not believe that we shall get any good out of it at all. We might perfectly well have worked a scheme by which boys who pass a certain standard at a certain age could get bursaries and become qualified for the all too limited number of jobs which apply.
I was very sorry that the question from the religious point of view was touched on in the way that it was. I, personally, am a believer that this country has been built up, to a very large extent, and its principal motive power has been, that it has been a religious country. I think that religious training in youth teaches the young to think straight and decently, and the evil result 1726 of cutting out religious training entirely has been seen before in people who have tried to do it. Russia will find that out. If a country gives up religious training, I am perfectly certain that it will begin to go back. I am also certain that the people of this country will not have it, be they State Church, Nonconformist or Catholic. They are all against this sort of thing. They want religious training as far as they can get it in their schools, and they will have it, and use their influence to have it. It is no use thinking that Socialism can go against it, because that is the one stone on which they will break their necks, and the sooner the better.
§ Mr. OLDFIELD
The hon. Member who has just spoken seems to cherish very curious illusions, and I cannot follow him at this late hour into many of them; but I think the most curious of all is that illusion in which he seems to think that everybody at Oxford or Cambridge is a genius. I am sure that hon. Members opposite and some hon. Members on this side will correct the hon. Gentleman in that respect.
Sir N. STEWART SANDEMAN
Might I ask whether the hon. Gentleman got a scholarship at Oxford or Cambridge?
§ Mr. OLDFIELD
It is perfectly true that I did not get a scholarship when I went to Cambridge, but the hon. Member was not discussing scholarships particularly. He was discussing the people who went to Oxford and Cambridge. But to leave that point and come to one or two things I want to say. The first is that I support wholly, and stand by everything which was said at the beginning of yesterday's debate by the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) on the question of Catholic schools. The hon. Member put his case so well, so persuasively and with such moderation, that none of us has considered it at all necessary to refer again to the things which he described so well. Some hon. Members are rather beside the point when, in discussing this Measure, they bring in the question of religious tests for teachers. This Measure does not at all raise the question of whether we are to have voluntary schools in future or not. The continuance of voluntary schools and the continuance of teachers' tests are not in question at all. Whether this Bill pass or not, we shall 1727 still have the voluntary schools and we shall still operate under the 1902 arrangement.
§ Mr. KEDWARD
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that for the first time in the history of this country, tests are to be imposed by the local education authorities?
§ Mr. OLDFIELD
That was not the point with which I was concerned. The point at issue in this Measure is not whether the voluntary school is to disappear—and it is incredible that the Catholic schools should disappear. They have worked and prospered under the 1902 Act, and every year sees new Catholic schools erected. The point at issue is, in this reconstruction and reorganisation in which we are all going to participate in the near future, are the voluntary schools to reorganise slowly and painfully entirely at their own cost, or are they to reorganise with some measure of assistance from the State? That is the real point at issue. This reorganisation is bound to come, but it will come quicker if the voluntary schools are aided. It will come eventually, even if they are not aided, because, in default of some arrangement, they would have to put their hands in their pockets and pay a little more. Some 400,000 children in the Catholic community would be penalised while this slow and painful reorganisation went on; while the pennies were being scraped together, these 400,000 children would not be getting the chance that they would get if some assistance came from the State in order to accelerate the reorganisation.
The position would be very serious for, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mile End said, the Catholic community on the whole is not wealthy, and for the main part it lies in the distressed areas. The poor dock labourers in the East End of London, the casual workers on the Tyneside, and the cotton operatives in Lancashire are the people who would have to pay, penny by penny, to raise money for this reorganisation. It is no good hon. Members saying that the existence of the voluntary schools is at stake, or that they are going to get rid of tests in the non-provided schools. That is ridiculous, for the very basis of the existence of non-provided schools is these tests. These 1728 schools are going to remain, and I hope that, as the result of the discussion of this Bill, we shall come to some arrangement which, while safeguarding a position which no Catholic or manager of a voluntary school could possibly jeopardise, will ensure that these 400,000 Catholic children and all the Anglican children are not dragged behind in the march of progress, but will have a fair chance and proper instruction in decently constructed schools.
Finally, I would like to thank the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, who all along has adopted a most courteous and conciliatory attitude. I wish to thank him for his suggestion that he will consider Amendments in Committee, and I wish to assure him that the Amendments which my colleagues and I will propose will not be Amendments which we think will cut to the very root of the Bill, nor Amendments which will lead inevitably to the dropping of the Bill, but simply Amendments which are barely necessary in order to make this Measure workable for the community which in this case we represent. I wish to thank him for the suggestion that he will meet us privately—all of us; hon. Members who wish to make Amendments of greater stringency and ourselves who wish to move Amendments in the other direction. I associate myself with him in the suggestion to meet us and discuss these Amendments with us before we actually push any Amendment to a Division in this House.
I do not at, all adopt, nor do my colleagues, the kind of non possumus attitude which the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Kedward) takes up. He only said rather ungracefully what the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) said very gracefully and tactfully earlier in the debate. Of course, hon. Members have their views upon these matters, only with a little good will and with some more discussion during Committee stage I am not unhopeful that we shall produce a Bill which will be a great educational advance and at the same time will be equally of advantage to children who are denominational children and children who are the children of the State.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
I only wish to stress what my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Beaumont) said 1729 regarding the agricultural labourer and his wife, that they dislike this Bill intensely. The objection to keeping their children another year at school is that the right hon. Gentleman does not propose to give them any kind of education suitable for an agricultural life. If he were changing the system, so that boys in the villages were not brought up as little boys suited for an urban life, there would be something to be said for the scheme. The time when children ought to be learning the business of agriculture is between 14 and 15 years of age. The feeling among country people is that there ought to be an agricultural bias in the education of the children from the age of 12 upwards, and if the Minister is to keep them at school until they are 15 I beg him to give very strict attention to the kind of education they are to receive, because at the present moment the system is intensely disliked.
That for the purposes of any Act of the present Session (hereinafter referred to as 'the said Act') to raise to fifteen years the age up to which parents are required to cause their children to receive efficient elementary instruction and to attend school; to make provision for maintenance allowances in respect of children attending school up to that age who are over the age of fourteen years; to empower local education authorities to make arrangements with respect to non-provided elementary schools and to facilitate the withdrawal from school of children for religious observance and instruction, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any sums by which the grants in aid of education payable to local education authorities under Section one hundred and eighteen of the Education Act, 1921 (as amended by any subsequent enactment), and the regulations made thereunder are increased by reason of any expenditure which such authorities may lawfully incur under the said Act.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 225; Noes, 109.1731
|Division No. 325.]||AYES.||[3.59 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Egan, W. H.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Lathan, G.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Foot, Isaac||Law, Albert (Bolton)|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Cralgie M.||Forgan, Dr. Robert||Law, A. (Rosendale)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Freeman, Peter||Lawson, John James|
|Alpass, J. H.||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Leach, W.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Lees, J.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Gillett, George M.||Lindley, Fred W.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Glassey, A. E.||Lloyd, C. Ellis|
|Batey, Joseph||Gossling, A. G.||Longbottom, A. W.|
|Bellamy, Albert||Gould, F.||Longden, F.|
|Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Gray, Milner||Lowth, Thomas|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Bowerman Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||McElwee, A.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Groves, Thomas E.||McEntee, V. L.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Grundy, Thomas W.||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)|
|Bromley, J.||Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Hardie, George D.||McShane, John James|
|Burgess, F. G.||Harris, Percy A.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Mansfield, W.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||March, S.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Haycock, A. W.||Markham, S. F.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Hayes, John Henry||Marley, J.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Marshall, Fred|
|Chater, Daniel||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Mathers, George|
|Church, Major A. G.||Herriotts, J.||Matters, L. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hoffman, P. C.||Melville, Sir James|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hopkin, Daniel||Messer, Fred|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Horrabin, J. F.||Middleton, G.|
|Cove, William G.||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Mills, J. E.|
|Cowan, D. M.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Milner, Major J.|
|Daggar, George||Isaacs, George||Montague, Frederick|
|Dallas, George||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Johnston, Thomas||Morley, Ralph|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Morris, Rhys Hopkins|
|Day, Harry||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Mort, D. L.|
|Dickson, T.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Moses, J. J. H.|
|Duncan, Charles||Kennedy, Thomas||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Kenworthy Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Muff, G.|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Kinley, J.||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Lang, Gordon||Naylor, T. E.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Sawyer, G. F.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Noel Baker, P. J.||Sexton, James||Viant, S. P.|
|Oldfield, J. R.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Walker, J.|
|Owen, H. F. (Hereford)||Sherwood, G. H.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Palmer, E. T.||Shield, George William||Wellhead, Richard C.|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Watkins, F. C.|
|Perry, S. F.||Shillaker, J. F.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Shinwell, E.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Phillips, Dr. Marion||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Pole, Major D. G.||Simmons, C. J.||West, F. R.|
|Potts, John S.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)||White, H. G.|
|Price, M. P.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Pybus, Percy John||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Rathbone, Eleanor||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Richards, R.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Sorensen, R.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Stamford, Thomas W.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Ritson, J.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Romeril, H. G.||Strauss, G. R.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Sutton, J. E.||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Rowson, Guy||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Wise, E. F.|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Thurtle, Ernest||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)||Tillett, Ben|
|Sanders, W. S.||Tinker, John Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sandham, E.||Toole, Joseph||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Earnstaple)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Fermoy, Lord||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Fielden, E. B.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Balniel, Lord||Ganzoni, Sir John||Salmon, Major I.|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Berry, Sir George||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Savery, S. S.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Simms, Major-General J.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hartington, Marquess of||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Bracken, B.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Iveagh, Countess of||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'merland)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Butler, R. A.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Lamb, Sir J. O.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Long, Major Eric||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Marjoribanks, E. C.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Meller, R. J.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Mond, Hon. Henry|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Major Sir George Hennessy and|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Captain Wallace.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Penny, Sir George|
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next.
§ The Orders of the Day were read, and postponed.1732
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3.
§ Adjourned at Ten Minutes after Four o'Clock until Monday next, 2nd June.