HC Deb 21 January 1931 vol 247 cc193-259

I beg to move, in page 3, line 41, to leave out from the word "shall" to the end of the Clause, and to insert instead thereof the words: not come into operation until an Act has been passed authorising expenditure out of public funds, upon such conditions as are necessary to meet the cost to be incurred by the managers of non-provided schools in meeting the requirements of the provisions of this Act, but that in no event shall this Act come into operation earlier than the first day of September, nineteen hundred and thirty-two. It is with a feeling of grave responsibility that I move this Amendment, which is in the name of myself and 41 other hon. Members who sit on this side of the House. It is a very curious position to a man who has been a member of a party for a very long number of years, who has taken part in the work of that party and has rejoiced that it has been able to attain the position to-day of being His Majesty's Government, to have to differ from the Government to the extent of moving an Amendment against one of their own Bills. But there are times and occasions when all party ties have to go in obedience to what one considers to be a higher claim. Those who have been responsible for putting down this Amendment have been accused in certain quarters of desiring to wreck the Bill; it has been described as a wrecking Amendment. If hon. Members will look at it they will find that it is not a wrecking Amendment and is not designed to destroy the Bill, but that it is in fact only possible to implement the Bill in its administration if an Amendment similar to this is carried.

The Bill will throw a heavy financial burden on the whole of the educational authorities of the country. We have a dual system of education, and I find from the last statistics of the Board of Education in 1929 that there are 9,400 schools of local education authorities with an average roll of 3,669,175; there 4.0 p.m.

are 9,767 Church of England schools, with an average roll of 1,466,444; there are 1,164 Catholic schools with an average roll of 368,386; 12 Jewish schools with an average roll of 5,530; and 304 schools of other denominations with an average roll of 64,539. If I were to assume for a moment that the managers of the schools of the other denominational bodies were to surrender their schools to the local educational authorities, even then there are 1,840,360 children who are being educated in non-provided schools, and who receive no financial assistance at all under the provisions of this Bill. The Government have recognised that the local education authorities are not in a position to face the full financial burden. Despite the fact that the local education authorities have at their back the rate fund, the Government have put forward to them that they will increase the grant from 20 per cent. to 50 per cent. I, therefore, suggest that, in all equity, the supporters of the non-provided schools could urge that, in justice to them, they should receive precisely the same treatment as has been given to the provided schools, but it has been said that there can be no further grants of public money unless there is a further extension of public control.

We come to the question of what really public control means. It is an excellent catch-phrase. It can mean a great many things in many directions. There may be, probably, 615 interpretations in this House. It must not be thought that, even in regard to education, for all money which is given to educational establishments public control of any kind or description is insisted upon. Let me give a few instances. Grants are made by the Board of Education to Free Church, Anglican and Catholic training colleges without any public representatives being on their governing bodies. The money is given for their expenditure without further inquiries. The University Grants Committee makes a grant of over £500,000 a year to the University of London without any form of public control. So that when we go into this matter of public control, we find that it really boils itself down to the question as to what is to be the method of the appointment of teachers.

The position of the Catholics in this matter is perfectly plain and above board. Perhaps members of the Anglican community this afternoon will forgive me if I do not refer to them specifically, but confine myself to my own community. Others no doubt will be able to speak with more authority for the Anglican community. Therefore, the Catholic position is, that the method of the appointment of teachers is merely a matter of arrangement, and all that we desire is a guarantee that in Catholic schools there shall be Catholic teachers. We ask nothing further than that. We have never asked anything further than that, because, whether we are right or whether we are wrong, we have a definite philosophy of life, and we think it is necessary that our children should know of that philosophy of life in their early years when attending public schools, and we feel that it can only be imparted to them by Catholic teachers. Therefore, given this extension of public control, it is, obviously, merely a matter of discussion as to how far we should or should not alter the present method of the appointment of teachers in non-provided schools.

I would like, for a moment, to make a digression. I want to say that there is no question at issue at the present moment of any disturbance of the settlement of 1902. The settlement of 1902 remains on the Statute Book. It is simply a matter of meeting the obligations which are being thrown on the managers of non-provided schools by reason of the reorganisation in the Hadow Report and the raising of the school age. Some time in the future—the time is not now—the 1902 settlement will have to be taken into consideration, but that is not to-day. So that there shall be no misunderstanding, I desire to put forward what is our ultimate Catholic ideal in regard to public education in this country. I quote the words of his Grace the Archbishop of Birmingham, who summed it up, I think, better than it has been put by any member of my community: In a really democratic nation there should be no distinction between provided and non-provided schools—all schools should be provided. For the people who demand religious education, religious schools should be provided; for those who do not demand it, schools with no tests for teachers should be provided. But any really sound national system should provide schools for all its people, whatever be their religion. If any denomination can point to the requisite number of its children in a given area whose parents demand religious education for them, the State should provide a school where now it gives us permission to build one ourselves. We are not discussing that, to-day. We are discussing only the question as to how we are to meet the present emergency. When the President of the Board of Education introduced his Bill of last year, we were unable to accept the proposals which were put forward in that Measure in regard to the non-provided schools. We put down certain Amendments which would have made it less objectionable, but would not have made it in any way acceptable. The President was unable to see his way to accept those Amendments. Later on, the Government, not altogether because of the religious question being raised, but for a variety of reasons, did not proceed with the Bill. We were then in the position of being able to enter into conversations, if it were the intention of the Government to proceed with legislation again. In company with some other Members of this House I had an inter view with the President. We discussed various questions in connection with this subject, and there was one significant phrase which was used by the President on that occasion which has always stayed in my mind, and that was, that in the future he would be prepared to negotiate only through Members of the House of Commons.

We came to this new Session of Parliament. The Bill was introduced without any reference at all to any provisions for non-provided schools. It will be within the recollection of the House that I supported the Second Reading, but made an appeal for negotiations on this particular question. We, that is six Members of this House, representing varying points of view on this matter entered into conversations with the President of the Board of Education. I venture to suggest that those conversations were conducted in a very amicable, a conciliatory spirit, and, as far as those six Members and the President were concerned—and I think the six were fairly representative of the community—we came to a general agreement. That general agreement took the direction, if it had been implemented in legislation, of an enabling nature, which would have enabled an agreement to be made between local education authorities and managers in regard to grants being made to non-provided schools and in regard to the method of appointing the teachers by the local education authorities. When that agreement was reached, I thought we should then be in a position to have that implemented in legislation, but the President of the Board of Education considered it necessary to go further, and on the 13th and 14th of this month a conference of all the interests was held. We considered and put forward to the President of the Board of Education the proposals which were agreed to by the six Members of this House.




Those proposals were considered by that conference. Various amendments were made, but the conference came to no decision. Everyone who took part in that conference will know that, as far as I and those on whose behalf I am speaking this afternoon were concerned, we were in every sense conciliatory and desirous of bringing about a peaceful settlement in order to clear away the difficulties. To-day we are in the position that we have this Bill nearly finishing its career in the Report stage. We have had no statement yet made as to the intentions of the Government to provide any financial assistance for non-provided schools. As far as we are concerned, it means providing places for between 30,000 and 33,000 children. That will mean a cost of £1,000,000, and I say, quite frankly, that at the present time my community cannot possibly raise that money. In order that this Bill should be effective if it is passed into law, £1,000,000 has to be obtained from a community which is not a rich community, because the mass of the members of the Catholic Church in this country belong to the poorer classes in the community who have made many sacrifices on behalf of their schools.

I am, therefore, in this position this afternoon, that I cannot any longer wait for the result of conferences. Conference after conference has been held. General understandings seem to have been come to, and nothing has been done. I, therefore, can only take the action which is open to me, to try to make it certain that something shall be done to give the House of Commons the opportunity of expressing its opinion. I suggest to His Majesty's Government that if they left this question to a free vote of this House, they would find that there is an overwhelming opinion in favour of this proposal. I have tried throughout the whole of these negotiations—and it is within the recollection, I think, of every Member—to cast no aspersions of any kind or description on the views, religious or political, of other people in connection with this matter. I have respected the views of my Free Church friends and of my Anglican friends, but I would be untrue to the faith to which I belong if I did not stand here this afternoon pleading, nay, not pleading, but demanding from the British House of Commons Justice for the community to which I belong. That is why I say that if we had a free vote, we should find what the view of this House was.

I am not concerned with political issues at all. I am concerned with the children. Some say that we are not concerned with the children. We are, because we know that if the Bill passes without giving financial assistance to non-provided schools, a large number of children will suffer by reason of the deficiencies which must result. I therefore move my Amendment in the strong hope that it will be passed, in order that we may be assured that when the raising of the school age comes to be the law of the land there shall be justice done to the non-provided schools of the country.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I do so as a warm and enthusiastic supporter of the Bill. I have every desire to see the Bill placed on the Statute Book, and as evidence of that desire I may state that I have missed no single Division during the progress of the Bill. The need for some action of the kind suggested in the Amendment has for many years been clear to local education authorities. Twenty-eight years ago the House of Commons passed an Act of Parliament which maintained the dual system. During that period of 28 years, no one in this House and no education administrator has sought by any means to alter that dual plan. It has been realised that the plan has succeeded in establishing an education system that has lifted our education to a pitch of excellence of which the last generation never dreamt.

The Act stands to the credit of the late Lord Balfour, and it amazed me, when tributes were being paid to that great statesman's memory, to notice how little attention was concentrated on that great achievement of his life. I would go so far as to say that that Act is probably the greatest Act of Parliament that was ever placed on the Statute Book. It provided that, whatever quality of education was given in publicly-owned schools, the same quality of education should be given in the non-provided schools. All forms of education, particularly the higher forms, were taken out of the desperate position in which previously they had been. For 28 years the Act has been in operation, and during that time there has come to light a weakness which probably its author never contemplated. While inside the law you can provide money to build or help to build a non-provided school if it is for secondary or technical education or for training or university purposes, you cannot do that for a non-provided elementary school. The financial responsibility for rebuilding non-provided elementary schools is on people who have borne their full share of building and rebuilding all the provided schools as well.

I belong to no denomination, but I feel that there is something unfair in that condition of affairs. The 1902 Act imposed obligations upon us as well as upon the managers of non-provided schools, and if I read the duty aright we have the obligation to make the dual system work. If we take responsibility for the child in the non-provided school, we must not allow his education rights to fall behind those of the child in the provided schools. But they are falling behind. This Bill in its present shape will cause those education rights of the scholar in the non-provided school to fall even further behind. The burden imposed upon managers of non-provided schools by the Act of 1902 may have been reasonable and may have been possible to be borne, but to-day they are no longer reasonable and no longer possible to be borne.

The lifting of our standards of education has added enormously to the burden of those managers. By reducing the size of classes, by increasing the air space per child, by improving the general hygienic conditions of all schools immeasurably, we have added to the burden of the non-provided schools. The managers are now confronted by burdens which they cannot reasonably be expected to carry. This Bill makes new demands on the managers of non-provided schools, and it contains no provision to help them to carry out those new demands. The child in the non-provided school is going to fall still further behind in the fulfilment of his education rights. I appeal to the President of the Board of Education to make some pronouncement which will enable us to see that it is his clear intention to deal with the problem raised by the Amendment. If he can do that, if he can give some assurance that these new and additional burdens that are to be placed on non-provided schools shall be met reasonably from public funds, I think it would be possible even at this stage to secure a withdrawal of the Amendment. I make this appeal to try right hon. Friend to save the Bill, to make its passage certain and to make it a fair measure, by giving us some concessions in this matter.

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Sir Charles Trevelyan)

In the great reorganisation of education which is going on and which has been going on for the last year or two everyone in every part of the House wants the voluntary schools to play their part. There are many of us, and I am classed as one, who regret that we have the dual system with us. But the dual system is there, and we have no right—so far I agree with my hon. Friend who has just spoken—if we can avoid it, to handicap the children in the voluntary schools because the system is one which is not altogether satisfactory. Of course it is easy to exaggerate the evil of not being able to do anything. If there is no reorganisation in which the voluntary schools are able generally to participate, it does not mean that the children will not get education, it does not mean that they will not be able to enjoy many of the benefits of this Bill, but it does mean that they would not enjoy them to the full. Compared with the children in many of the districts where there are only provided schools, they would be handicapped. I say again that there can be no Member of this House who could fail to wish that the children in the voluntary schools should be able to get the same facilities as those in the provided schools.

But I want to point out that this question does not originate with this Bill. If the school age were not raised at all, the question would be nearly as important and nearly as acute. If the Noble Lord who was President of the Board of Education in the last Government, had remained in his position and had simply continued the reorganisation of education as I have been continuing it, and there had been no question of raising the school age, it still would have been a disadvantage for the children in the voluntary schools, where they could not get effective reorganisation. That is to say, the question is not really part of this Bill. It is quite true that the problem is to some extent accentuated, but there is no reason for making this Bill bear a responsibility which does not belong to it. We have no right to try to hold up this Bill, to do anything to hold it up, in order to force the solution of a problem which does not properly belong to it alone.

The next consideration is this, and it is even more important: Would this Amendment be the best way to advance a solution? On the contrary I am absolutely convinced that it would be fatal to the hopes of any sort of agreement, because if the Amendment were passed it would be an invitation to obdurate religious prejudice to hold out so as to prevent a settlement. The national anxiety to benefit the children by giving them an extra year of schooling might be used as a means of preventing a solution that was not agreeable to a single important religious section. We have no right to make the fortunes of the children wait on the settlement of a religious controversy.

I want to deal with the situation as we find it. Everyone knows that for months I have been doing my best to obtain a settlement—doing my utmost to reach an understanding acceptable to all the principal interests. Last week I had a conference with the representatives of the local education authorities and the teachers and the three great religious bodies, the Church of England, the Free Churches and the Catholics. I am sorry not to be able to announce that we came to a complete agreement, but I am bound to say that what impressed myself and my colleagues who were there more than anything else was the amount of goodwill all round and the desire for conciliatory concessions. In fact, it appears to me to be a not unimportant thing in itself that the leading authorities and divines of all the great churches should have come round one table and tried to accommodate age-long differences. I doubt if there is any precedent for that in our history.

There was a wide measure of agreement among most of the interests present. The representatives of the local authorities, of the teachers, of the Church of England, of the Catholics, thought that they could, as speaking in a general way for those whom they represented, say that the proposals put forward and discussed and amended would in all probability be acceptable to those for whom they thought they could speak. The Free Church representatives, however, remained dissatisfied. What, in effect, I am asked by my hon. Friends is that the Government should at once bind itself to legislate. I can conceive no step more foolish than to try to force on any large section of the country what it, at the present moment, regards, perhaps not rightly, as an unacceptable solution. The attitude of the Government is, and has been all along, that it would be prepared to legislate for any settlement which had general agreement behind it. Nobody can say that there is general agreement yet, but I say with confidence that there is no reason to assume that agreement is unlikely. I ask the House to recollect the events of the last few months, to throw their minds back to the summer when the Government made a proposal for settling this question for which I at least had found partial approval. But when it was brought up in the House there was found to be extreme hostility on the part of a large section of the Catholic community. That was what, chiefly, at any rate, made it difficult to proceed.

I ask the House to notice this. The Catholics were at that time very hostile to those proposals. Some modifications of those proposals were made, but the proposals which the Catholics now support are not, in principle, different. I agree that there are some differences, but the Catholic community is very anxious now that those proposals should come into operation. Now you have the Free Churchmen taking up the same attitude. I say there is no more reason why the Free Churchmen, perhaps after some modification in these proposals and thinking them over and understanding them fully and understanding their bearing—why, at any rate, a very substantial part of the community of the Free Churchmen of this country should not change their minds with regard to them, just as the Catholics changed their minds with regard to them. I want the House to realise that you cannot hustle this kind of settlement, and the worst thing that we can do is to assume that Nonconformist opinion cannot be amenable to reason, and persuasion and accommodation, as Catholic opinion has been, in the course of a few months. I am pretty certain that the proposals which the conference worked out, and which will come to be discussed, if I have my way, very publicly in the course of the next few weeks, are, in some respects, better for the claims of popular control even than those which we put in our Bill in the summer. I think they certainly are, for instance the particular provision, which the Church of England is ready to agree to, guaranteeing undenominational teaching in the single school areas.

I do not believe, if time is given to them to consider, that the Free Churches are going to find it impossible to come to an accommodation. The Free Churches of this country have always been devoted to the cause of education, and, when they realise that many children cannot get the full advantage of reorganised education, without in some way dealing with the large number of the voluntary schools, I believe that they will be ready to make concessions sooner than see the children handicapped. I say to the House, as I have said before, that no interest in this matter can hold out and can afford to hold out for a settlement which is ideal to them. It is impossible. We all know that, but I am convinced that what is most essential in the demands of all can be reconciled.

To get a settlement we must have some obvious and substantial concession to popular control in return for further grants to voluntary schools. Otherwise, you cannot possibly reconcile the local authorities, the teachers and Nonconformity to it. We have sought that, in making the teachers, in schools where these grants are given, public servants from this time forth. Let no one say that that is not a concession on the part of the Catholics and the Church of England. It is a concession as well as a very great gain for those of us who want to see real public control in our schools. To get a settlement we must also be able to guarantee the Church of England the teaching of their children in their own dogmas, because they now get it in their voluntary schools. They are in possession. In order to get a settlement, you must recognise the insistence of the Catholics on having Catholic teachers for their children. Are these things irreconcilable? I say they are not. I say, quite certainly, that we can get these things, that we can get a national agreement and that it is a poor thing if we are unable to get a national agreement so as to reconcile these demands.

Therefore, I intend to persist in finding an agreement. I have already, even since the meetings last Tuesday and Wednesday, been engaged on it, and I may, if necessary, have to call the conference together again. But I say that it will be a national disgrace if we are unable to reach a settlement. I do not believe that any great religious interest would dare to be finally and obviously responsible for refusing to enable a great many thousands of children to have the full measure of advanced education which our wider conceptions of education now make us want to be general. I think it is quite clear, however, that no Government can force through this change in face of the united opposition of any one great religious interest. That would be true of the Catholics and that would be true of the Free Churchmen. But a general agreement is, I believe, obtainable. The Government abides by their promise to legislate if agreement can be obtained, and I do not necessarily mean by agreement the complete reconciliation of all dissident minorities, but a general readiness in all parts of the religious communities of the country to come to a settlement to assist the volun- tary schools in return for a substantial advance in public control. The moment I can get such a general agreement as that, I shall put up to my colleagues in the Cabinet concrete legislative proposals, and I think there is no doubt that the Labour party is bound by its natural desires and by its engagements to give effect to it if we can obtain any settlement at all.


The House I am sure has heard with very great regret from the Minister that the conference which met last week on this important matter has failed to reach agreement. I am not sure that it is not rather a pity that the Minister finds himself forced to go on with this Bill without a further effort to reach harmony among the interests affected. I propose to offer a few observations in support of the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) to whose eloquence and sincerity I should like to pay a tribute. I cannot hope to compete with him in the cogency with which he put the case for the voluntary schools, but I will do my best to keep the matter on a non-contentious plane, and to rely, as far as I can, on facts and on inferences from facts to support the case which he has made and with which I associate myself. The House knows that what is at the bottom of the question is mainly finance. The House knows that, for many years, these voluntary schools have been forced into an impossible position and that this Bill is the culminating point in the difficulties with which these schools have been for many years faced.

Hon. Members know that since the War the cost of education, local and national, has increased threefold, but the resources of the non-provided schools have not increased threefold. To keep a pupil in an elementary school costs, I think, £13 as against £4 odd before the War, and the hon. Member for Mile End has given the House figures showing the increased burden which will be laid upon the Catholic community if this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament. He has given a figure of £1,000,000, and, from the publication of the Education Department which he read out, hon. Members will see that there are nine times as many Church of England schools as Catholic schools, and it is not unreason- able to infer that the expenditure which this Bill lays on the Church of England schools will run into, not £1,000,000, but many millions. In spite of these immense efforts that have been made, I imagine, in almost every constituency in the country, I doubt if any Member of this House has not in his constituency some parish where poor people have collected £100 or more to support their parish schools.

In spite of that, what recognition does the Bill as it stands give us? We are not discussing any future arrangements which may or may not happen. This is a Bill that affects voluntary schools now, and as the Bill stands it is not unfair to say that there is something in the allegation that I have read that the Government, not daring to proceed against these schools by a frontal attack, have had to proceed by sapping and mining, that they would incur odium if they were to attack these schools deliberately, and that a financial blockade is better than a pitched battle. I doubt if that can be so—I cannot believe it—but the allegation has been made, and I think it fair to say that the President of the Board of Education himself repudiated it last May, when he said: It is no use expecting voluntary schools to disappear, or that any Parliament will be found to extinguish them or purchase them out of existence."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th May, 1930; col. 1526, Vol. 239.] My hon. Friends below me may not see eye to eye with my friends and me; they may not like this dual system, but they are practical people, and they know very well that it is impracticable to extinguish the voluntary schools of this country. On the lowest estimate, £33,000,000 would be required to compensate the Church for relinquishing these schools, and to extinguish them would mean building thousands of schools for thousands of children. The right hon. Gentleman put this dilemma to the House last May: We must in some way enable the voluntary schools to be reconditioned in a good many cases or in many parts of the country thousands of children will be left without the proper chance which we are trying to give to all."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th May, 1930; col. 1526, Vol. 239.] The hon. Member for Mile End has given official figures showing the number of children who will be left out of this Bill. I do not know if the President of the Board of Education thinks that is an exaggeration, but as there are nearly 2,000,000 children in the voluntary schools, so far as this Bill is concerned, those children are left out of account, because no provision is made for the accommodation which those children, as they become of the school age affected, will require.

The Bill in this condition really cannot and ought not to be put on the Statute Book. It is a mutilated Bill, a stunted Bill, a Bill which can scarcely resist the charge of meanness, and anyone looking at this Bill for the first time would scarcely think it possible that a Bill purporting to deal with the education of 5,500,000 children of Great Britain, to provide accommodation for them, and to expend millions of State money on capital expenditure annually, could ignore and leave out of account two-fifths of those children, and could at the same time impose on the parents of those children the duty, not merely of making provision for their own children, but of providing out of rates and taxes for the 3,000,000 children of more fortunate parents. The President said just now that we must all take less than our ideal, for the sake of the children. I do not know what his ideal is, I do not know how much less than his ideal he is prepared to take, but I know that as far as this Bill is concerned, the voluntary schools take so much less than their ideal that they take nothing whatever.

I come to the question of the agreement. Is not the position this, that even if an agreement had been concluded, the case for this Amendment would have been extremely strong? The Minister himself, if he had been able to come, as we all wish he could have done, and given us the terms of an agreement, could scarcely have resisted this Amendment. It would have been a safeguard for the voluntary schools, and in due course he would have implemented it in a Statute. I thought, when he introduced the Bill, and I think now, that it was a mistake that he did not endeavour to put the settlement in the Bill. But if no agreement has been arrived at, surely the case for this Amendment is unanswerable. If no agreement has been reached, and the Minister cannot guaran- tee agreement, what is the position of these schools? In 18 months' time, if this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, and we cannot guarantee agreement—and we may not get one—the voluntary schools are then faced with an Act of Parliament which they cannot resist.

The Minister put some objections on the Committee stage and said that we have no right to arrest the general progress of the country for a limited though important number of children. Could that not be put the other way as well? Have we a right to imperil the educational future of a limited though important number of children? He said just, now that the problem does not belong to the Bill. Why did it belong to the Bill last May? Surely, if it had been possible to get an agreement, the right hon. Gentleman would have taken good care to put it in the Bill, and he would have vastly improved it and made this Amendment unnecessary. He said: Irreconcilable factors exist, and if encouraged in believing that they can hold up national advance of education they may become more and not less irreconcilable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd December, 1930; col. 2140, Vol. 245.] He said that last time, and he has repeated it to-day, but is it not the duty of this House to decide whether interests are asking more than they can properly claim, whether they are irreconcilable, whether their claims are unanswerable or not? Is it to go forth that Amendments can be refused or rejected because of the handle they may give to irreconcilable opponents? I cannot believe that that would be treated as an excuse for what is, admittedly in this case, had legislation. He also said: We shall put it in the power of any party or any section of people by obstinacy and by the exorbitance of their demands to make the raising of the school age inoperative."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd December, 1930; col. 2141, Vol. 245.] Again it is for this House to decide whether a demand is exorbitant or not, and the House would surely not delegate its decisions to factions outside and wait until the Minister had decided that they were no longer exorbitant. The Minister may say, "Let this Bill go through, because I pledge the Government to introduce a Measure for voluntary schools, though there is no agreement at the moment." There again I suggest that to do so would be to adopt the principle of very faulty legislation. It would come to this, that bad Bills should be passed because the Minister undertakes to make them better. This House does not speculate upon what may happen in the future, and it cannot pass defective legislation such as this admittedly is on the strength of Ministerial assurances that at some time in the future they will be remedied. If the Amendment is refused, surely the suspicion will be created that the Minister got no agreement and expects to get no agreement. If he expected it, what objection in reason is there to passing the Amendment? It does not commit him to any particular terms of settlement.

I appeal to my hon. Friends on the Liberal benches, who are not present in very large numbers, because this Amendment as it stands commits them in no way to any set terms of agreement whatever, but it enables them to join with us and to protect the voluntary schools from suffering a fate which I do not think anyone wishes them to suffer. It provides that safeguard which would have enabled the negotiations to go on in a calmer and more fruitful spirit. The Liberal party usually plume themselves on their tenderness towards minorities, and here is the case of a great minority of school children who may look to them for tenderness such as they have shown in the past.

We should be taking an immense risk had we not supported this Amendment. We should have been gambling with the future of these schools. I feel the hon. Member for Mile End must have said to himself, as I said to myself, "Have we any right, we who are in some way the spokesmen for the voluntary schools, to let this Bill go through without this Amendment, to rely upon some assurance that something will happen in the future?" I think he must have said to himself, as I said to myself, "I have no right to do it; I have no right to gamble with such interests." For that reason, I trust that other hon. Members in the House will take the same view as we do, and support us in endeavouring to put this Amendment on the Statute Book.


Reference has been made by the last speaker to the fact that there are not many of my colleagues in the House at the moment. Sometimes business meetings are held, and one is being held just at this time. It is not that my colleagues are not within the precincts of the Chamber, but their absence must be a disadvantage to me, because I have no doubt that in putting forward my case I might have had the encouragement that comes from one's colleagues in a few applauding responses, whereas now I have to speak in a House where my friends are not very many, and I have to rely, therefore, upon the assurance of my cause and the strength of my case.

I see that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is on the Front Bench opposite. I have lately had the opportunity of seeing him at close grips with other questions, and for the last two or three months I know he has been doing his best to solve a problem that goes back for many hundreds of years, the problem that we call the Hindu-Moslem problem in India; and though he has just completed that work it must be strange to him to come back to this House and find that we are confronted with another historical problem, one also that goes back with its roots deep into history.

When I had the opportunity of speaking in this House, after midnight when the Bill was last before us, I suggested that we ought to be able to listen with some sympathy in this matter to the presentment by the other man of his point of view, because the likelihood is that if I had been born a Roman Catholic in Liverpool or Ireland, I should have been associated with the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) in supporting this Amendment, and if he had been born a Methodist and a Nonconformist in the West Country, he would probably have been in my place opposing the Amendment.

I want to make a reference, first of all, to the conversations mentioned by the hon. Member, whom I congratulate upon the tone of his speech in presenting his case to the House. I was asked by the Minister to join in those conversations that took place just before the House rose. I was reluctant so to do, as he will remember, but I did so because a colleague of mine was not able to carry on those conversations at that time. Further, I was a member of the Round Table Conference on India and had very little time to spare from that work. I 5.0 p.m.

am bound to demur to any statement that an agreement was arrived at. Upon that I have the authority of my Liberal colleague, and I have taken the opportunity of consulting one of the members of the party opposite. I did agree before the last meeting in December, when I left my colleague behind at the meeting which was held in the Minister's house, that certain words could be put before the respective interests as a basis of discussion, but I categorically stated that I could not commit myself to them, nor was I authorised to commit anyone else. I merely thought that they represented a proper basis for discussion. That was the extent to which I was entitled to go, and my hon. Friend the Member for Mile End will remember that even then I demurred to some parts of the memorandum, for I thought that in some parts there were some disabilities on the people with whom I am associated that were not adequately met. I agreed that the words were a basis for discussion, and I agreed that every attempt should be made to arrive at a settlement between the several interests.

I refuse to look at this matter simply as a Nonconformist, for I remember the discussions that took place following the Act of 1902. I have been surprised to hear that Act lauded on that side of the House. I never expected to hear that Measure praised in such adulatory and unreserved terms by one of the members of the party opposite. When that Act was passed, it was opposed not merely by Nonconformist opinion in this House, but by a great deal of opinion that would not be associated with any one of the churches. It was opposed on public grounds. I know many people in this country who are not associated directly with any of the churches who condemned that so-called settlement of 1902, and who joined in the agitation that led to the Bill of 1906, which was brought into this House by Mr. Birrell. I sat in the Gallery on the Third Reading of that Bill, when Mr. Birrell commended it to the House. A newly-elected Parliament, after this subject had been one of the main questions before the electorate, spent the main part of the first Session in dealing with the disabilities that were raised in the Act of 1902.By a majority of over 100, in which some of the Ministers now on the Front Bench took their part, and in which every Labour representative in the House at that time took his part, a Bill was passed which sought to set aside the disabilities of the 1902 settlement. That Bill would have become the law of the land were it not for the action of another place. That is why I was rather surprised to hear to-day the praise of the Act of 1902 from those who are now associated with the party opposite.

That Act inflicted disabilities upon this country, and it is just that we should recognise what they were. The general system is this, as far as I can see it. We are a community in which there are very many churches and many creeds. There are only two solutions that strictly are logical. One is to say that we will have a secular system of education. That was the system which was supported by great men in our history, men like Dr. Dale and Mr. Joseph Chamberlain in Birmingham. In the earlier days they were the champions of the secular system. Under that system the schools were for education, and it was regarded as the first duty of parents to impart religious teaching to their children. The parent who leaves this to the minister or the priest or the bishop has neglected the first principle of parenthood. That secular solution is one which is not to be lightly brushed aside. Further, the parent, if he is interested in the education of his child, will help to give that education himself, and no child is likely to learn more in the church than it can learn from its own father or mother. Thomas Carlyle in his later days said that the memory that remained with him was the memory of his father at prayer. It is a responsibility of the father to see that the child is brought into touch with such religious institutions as can give the child the culture of religious teaching. The secular system may be the solution, and I think that it is the solution to which we may be driven.

The other solution is one to which we have had reference made to-day, and which apparently has the favour and approval of the Archbishop of Birmingham, who was quoted with such approval by the hon. Member for Mile End. I have never heard the passage before, and I tried to take the words down as they were quoted by the hon. Member. The Archbishop, we are informed, said that in really democratic countries no distinction should be made between provided or non-provided schools, and any denomination should be able to have them. That means that in the villages of Cornwall or of Wales, where the Methodists are in the majority, you are to have a demand for a school wherever there is the required number of children. The Methodists had many of these schools in the earlier years, but when the national settlement was made they parted with them for the most part. These schools were built with great sacrifice, and in almost every village without exception we built a Sunday school. I would like hon. Members to come to the counties of the West of England, and they would not be able to go to any village or hamlet in Devon or Cornwall where the Methodist people have not, mainly through the pence of the agricultural labourer and the contributions of the poor people, built their Sunday schools.

The second solution, then, is that the denominational system should be established everywhere, and that every community should be able to set up schools. Where would that stop? What about the Communist community? I do not accept the views of the Communists, but God forbid that I should deny their sincerity. They have what are sometimes called Socialist Sunday schools, and why should not this right be conceded to them? To many a man his politics is his religion, and suppose people say, "We will have none of your religion of modern days, which is a dope to the working classes, and we want a school for 50 children," are we going to give them that right? If so, when the Archbishop of Birmingham has seen his Utopia established, what shall we have in this country? Our national system broken up, our system of education utterly disintegrated, local authorities driven to despair, and the whole system of education receiving a set-back from which it could not recover for years.


What is a country without God?


I have not been speaking in sympathy with the Communists' demand. I do not believe that any progress can be accomplished in this country unless it has a religious basis, and I do not believe that any man can fully live his life and face his end, as he should face it, unless his life has had a religious basis. I hope nothing that I have said has been inconsistent with that. If then we cannot have a secular solution, or the solution of all denominations being able to make their own schemes, with what are we left? We are left with what we have in this country, which, after all, is a very remarkable thing. We have set up the State school in which we have sought to make available simple religious instruction such as shall be acceptable to the general body of religious opinion in the country. I should like to know any country in the world where the several denominationalists have been more generously treated. The State goes to them, and says, "You cannot come into this scheme; we wish you could." I welcome the movement established in many schools in this country, which has been accepted by a great number of Anglicans. In the county to which I belong, the religious syllabus has been agreed upon by the Anglican and Nonconformist authorities, and there is no difference and no difficulty in Cornwall because of the arrangement that has been arrived at. That system is spreading.

If the denominations are not able to come into the schools, what the State says is: "If you wish to stay outside the State system, we are not going to force you in. You cannot come in, and we deplore it. We wish you could come in, but as long as you stay out, the dual system is perpetuated, and we will do our best to meet your objections." What does the State say then? It says: "You shall retain denominational management of your own schools." Is that not something? The hon. Member for Mile End said that he did not understand what public control meant. It means that in a school that is supported out of public money, there are only two public managers out of six, and they are in a perpetual minority. We first give a perpetual majority to the managers of denominational schools; we then give them the right to appoint their own teachers. Not only that, but out of the public purse we pay every penny of educational expenditure. We have had postcards sent to us asking that we would postpone the operation of this Bill until financial assistance is forthcoming out of public funds for non-provided schools. What has the State been doing all this time? Out of every £10 spent on non-provided schools, £9, and very often more, comes out of the public purse. Now we have this postcard asking that financial assistance should be given—

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Read the whole of it.


The postcard says: As one of your Catholic constituents, I ask you to vote for the Amendment postponing its coming into operation until financial assistance is forthcoming out of public funds for non-provided schools. The argument is so often made, and it was implicit in the speech of the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Ramsbotham), that these schools are being denied assistance out of public funds, and it is as well that we should see what contribution is being made to them. Down to the last item, down to the nibs in the pens, blotting paper and text-books, provision is made out of public funds.


On a point of Order. Is the hon. Member in order in exploring the whole of this ground so fully, seeing that this Amendment concerns only the giving of financial assistance to meet the extra charges incurred by the raising of the school-leaving age? I submit that at the moment we are not concerned with the basis of the 1902 settlement.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Robert Young)

I think Mr. Speaker has allowed more or less general references to this matter.


Surely the hon. Member will appreciate that the general argument in regard to non-provided schools was raised from his own side of the House. It started with the seconder of the Amendment, who began by lauding the Act of 1902.


On a point of Order. I do not think the hon. Member wants to be unfair, but I want him to explain—


The hon. Member must address his point of Order to me.


In addressing my point of Order to you, Sir, I want the hon. Member to define the £9 out of every £10 to which he has referred.


That is not a point of Order.


It may be a point of explanation.


I am sorry if I cannot pursue my argument. Out of every £10 spent in the non-provided schools £9 is provided by the State, and beyond that very large sums are granted by way of subsidy to denominational training colleges. All that is asked in return for these immense public gifts is that they should provide the school. All they have to do is to provide the building, not to hand it over. The building does not become the property of the local authority; it is the property of the other people. From the other side of the House the question is put, "Why spend money on provided schools when you do not spend it on non-provided schools?" When the State is spending money upon the provided schools it is spending money upon State property, and when it is spending money upon non-provided schools it is spending money upon the property of somebody else. That, at any rate, is some distinction, to start with.

The terms of the settlement of 1902 were these: We do not ask you to hand the building over; the building shall remain your property; we want it only for so many hours a week; during the other hours of the week and during the week end you can use it for your own Church and social purposes. All we ask you to do is to provide a building for so many hours per week in return for this lavish concession of public money. That was the so-called settlement of 1902. That agreement has been generously kept by the State, but every black-listed non-provided school is a breach of the agreement. Every time the State authority has come down and said that a non-provided school does not comply with the conditions, if the bond had been enforced to its last letter then and there that school, which was failing to comply with the conditions under which it had received public money—[Interruption]. Yes, there are a large number of black-listed non-provided schools in this country, and I say that every one of them constitutes a breach of the agreement which was arrived at in 1902. The result of that breach of agreement is that in some parts of the country a generation of children—at any rate, the children over a period of many years—have been educated under conditions which no Member of this House would tolerate for his own children.

If that question is to be re-opened, as is the suggestion here, I ask this House, which I believe to be the fairest assembly in the world, to recognise the disabilities of the people for whom I speak. There are the disabilities of the single school areas. I listened to the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) in the Debate which took place in Committee. He said then that more important than the number was the fact that we were dealing with the vast majority of the schools in the single school areas. It was the single school area which constituted the disability. Another hon. Member sitting behind me asked, "What consideration is there for the parents of these 2,000,000 children?" He talked as if the 2,000,000 children in the Anglican schools were all the children of Anglican parents, but that is an utter fallacy. I could take him to parishes in Cornwall where the majority of the people who are religiously minded are Methodists, but where it is a Church school. The majority of the children in those parishes come from Nonconformist homes. After the last Debate I had a letter from a County Councillor in my own district in Cornwall stating that in his village two-thirds of the people were Nonconformists but that the school had always belonged to the Church. He said: My father would not let me go to the Church school. He wanted me to go to the council school. The Church school was near my own father's farm, but when I was a little boy I had to walk three miles to school and three miles back so as to have the advantage of going to a school which was a publicly-controlled school. For a long time two-thirds of the people in that village have been Nonconformists, but there the Church school remains today, and it is the only school to which the children can go. Hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway say it is essential in the case of these Church schools that not only should there be an hour for religious instruction but that the school should be permeated with an atmosphere. How can it be fair—


Who has ever said that?


I am certain that I have not made a mistake in that respect. That was said by one of the hon. Members, whose constituency I have forgotten, who was sitting up by the second post upon the fourth bench. It was said in the last Debate in this House. I believe the hon. Member represents one of the Divisions of Liverpool.


I thought the hon. Member was referring to something which had taken place in this Debate. Had we not better confine ourselves to that?


No! Sit down!


I have no wish to score any debating point. I am only trying to put a disability which I thought it was common ground does exist. It has been argued so often that the religious teaching is not confined to the lesson of an hour or an hour-and-an-half's duration but to the permeation of the school in its regular atmosphere, and it is not fair to have these single-school areas where children are compelled to go to Church schools by force of law. Under the Hadow reorganisation scheme I fear that we are going to aggravate this question of the single-school areas. I beg hon. Members to note what is happening in some cases. At the present time there are self-contained Council schools where boys and girls can rise from the lowest standard to the highest standard. Now there is to be a system of reorganisation of the schools in a district under which we say: In that school we will take only children under 11; in this school are to be the children over 11; to that school the boys shall go; to this school the girls shall go. It is a system of reorganisation with a central school, and if that central school is a denominational school, then that district becomes a single-school area.

In this reorganisation scheme we may be depriving many boys and girls of the right which they now have to go to a publicly-controlled school, and make it necessary for them, at some period of their school life, to go to a denominational school. That grievance has been recognised by wise people in this country—by the Bishop of Chichester, by the Bishop of Ripon and other distinguished Churchmen, who have recognised that the central school should be a council school. I hope this House will agree with some of those far-sighted Church leaders. I will not speak about the dis- abilities of teachers under this system. That disability was left by the Act of 1902. Let there be no mistake about it, that grievance is felt by a great many people. It is a grievance that in 11,000 schools, or thereabouts, the door is closed to the applicant who in the clash and counter clash with his colleagues in his College or University career may have gained distinctions beyond the rest but who is now denied employment in those schools because he is a Nonconformist, and not through any failing in his character. There are 11,000 of such schools. The settlement in this matter will be judged very largely by the extent to which it deals with those two disabilities.

There were other matters with which I had intended to deal, but I have been led astray so often by interruptions. I would, however, like to make a reference to one subject which has now immediately arisen. In common with other Members I have received a number of postcards on this subject. I think a great mistake has been made by the appeal to set aside this Bill until this settlement on financial grounds is arrived at. I hope an agreement will be found, but do not think we shall be bullied into a settlement. I am quite prepared to enter into a conversation with any of my neighbours, whether they are persons who agree with me or not.


Why did you not agree at the conference?


I do not know to what conference the hon. Member is referring. It is difficult to carry on a conference when at the start a pistol is put upon the table, and I very much regret that there has now come into these proceedings a tone of threat. One of my colleagues in the House showed me this evening a letter which had been sent to him this morning. It is a letter such as we have had—[Interruption.] It was written by one of the clerics of one of the Churches in this controversy and stated at the end: Failing your support being given, the Catholics of"— I will not give the name of the place— will seriously consider the continuance of their support to your Membership at the next Election.


Why not?


We are in a lamentable position if, at a time when there are other concerns occupying the mind of every serious citizen, the governing consideration is to be whether schools in which already £9 out of every £10 spent is contributed from public funds are to have further advantages. If that is to be the determining consideration—[Interruption.] Very well, I will leave it there. If that method of approach is approved I leave it there, but I should have thought it would not be approved.


Can the hon. Member say whether that was received by one of his own colleagues and whether a pledge was given?


The question of his having given a pledge or not is not a question for me. It was one of the hon. Member's colleagues to whom the letter was sent and I have no doubt he will show him the letter, and the very honourable reply that he made saying that he would not allow threats of that kind to determine his action. I started my speech by saying that I hoped we should be able to establish such conditions as would not excite or exacerbate feelings, and if my speech has been at all provocative may I be allowed to say that that was not my intention, and I hope I have not said anything to hurt the feelings of anyone? It was, however, essential that there should be a presentment of the point of view which we represent. I know nothing of the conversations which have taken place since I bade farewell to the right hon. Gentleman opposite just before the Recess. I only know what I have read in the newspapers. As far as my services are concerned, they are at his disposal. I feel that a settlement is still to be looked for. We must put the claims of the children first, and I am hopeful that a settlement may yet be arrived at. In my view, nothing would do more to hinder that settlement than the passing of an Amendment which would enforce on this House the obligation of securing a conclusion of difficult negotiations as the price of a Bill which in its main proposal is earnestly desired by a majority of Members. The right hon. Gentleman is wise in declining to have his hands forced, and I support him in the stand which he has taken against this Amendment.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

In view of the speech which the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) has just made, I cannot understand how he came to accept the Bill which was introduced last summer by the President of the Board of Education.


I spoke upon that Bill, and made some criticisms in this House, particularly in relation to the appointment of teachers.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I am aware that the hon. Member's colleagues threatened to fight that Bill line by line and word by word. Let, there be no mistake about this matter. It was partly owing to the threat which came from hon. Member on the Liberal benches that the Bill introduced last summer was not proceeded with. I want to avoid introducing any heat into this Debate, but, we have to remember that there are certain hon. Members, whose sincerity on this subject we respect, who object to any assistance whatsoever being given to the voluntary schools of the country. We have to recognise that fact. Those hon. Members have their spokesmen, and they will do their utmost to prevent the passing of any proposals giving assistance to voluntary schools. Those hon. Members want to do away with the dual system, and they never accepted the compromises of 1902 and 1906 and other compromises since. Now they are not satisfied with the dual system, and they want a secular system in the schools. We have to recognise the existence of that minority, though they ask for something which is not practical politics.

I want the President of the Board of Education to give some consideration to our side of the matter. I refer to those interested in the Church of England schools and also in the Roman Catholic schools. I am glad to see the Prime Minister in his place. I can assure him that there is a way to be found out of this difficulty, one which will not make a settlement more difficult and will not lead to any division amongst the supporters of the Government on this side of the House.

First of all, we have general agreement that a settlement must be arrived at to deal with the position which will be caused by the raising of the school age in order to utilize the voluntary schools. We want a proper arrangement of all classes under secondary instruction, and therefore it is essential that we should make use of all existing modernised schools. We have some magnificent new schools in Yorkshire connected with the Church to which I belong, and I know there are a number of Roman Catholic schools which it will be very desirable to use especially in the South. In the negotiations which have already taken place the spokesmen representing the denominational schools concerned have agreed that teachers who do not belong to their denomination shall be appointed to instruct the children transferred from other denominations or from council schools. The hon. Member for Bodmin is wrong in contending that in denominational schools only denominational teachers will be appointed, because under the system of reorganisation which has been agreed upon as a result of the negotiations—I congratulate the President of the Board of Education upon the result of those negotiations—teachers, whether belonging to the Nonconformists community or whoever they are, will be allowed to come into the denominational schools to teach Nonconformist children or the children of any other denomination. That is a tremendous step forward to meet the objections which have been raised by the teachers, and I am glad that the teachers have generally agreed to the proposed compromise.

It cannot be denied that we must make use of these voluntary schools. Supposing we take the hon. Member for Bodmin and his friends at their word. Have hon. Members considered what it will cost to provide schools for the 2,000,000 children who are now being educated in Church of England schools and other voluntary schools. The cost will be about £33,000,000. I do not think that estimate has been challenged. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is now sitting on the Treasury Bench, and we are all aware what he would say if he were asked to provide £30,000,000 to make up the amount required for providing the school accommodation which will be necessary when the system is reorganised and without being able to use the existing voluntary schools. I feel sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would say, "If I had £30,000,000 to spend, I would rather use it for other social services such as better pensions for the old people." I am quite certain that the right hon. Gentleman would have a great deal to say against any proposal to spend £30,000,000 upon school accommodation when excellent schools are already available.

The raising of the school age necessitates some agreement being arrived at with the voluntary schools, and, obviously, some financial assistance must be given. A very large measure of control has been agreed, to in return; there will be a considerable amount of public control. We have been told that legislation will be required if this Bill is to be efficiently worked in order to carry out the new concordat and provide the necessary finance in return for a large measure of public control. I know the President of the Board of Education desires to get an agreed Bill through the House if possible, and he does not want to encounter too much opposition. My right hon. Friend said that he will abide by his promise to legislate if general agreement can be obtained—that is the first "if"—and that he would then put to the Cabinet concrete proposals. That is the second "if" or doubt. The right hon. Gentleman then told us that a Labour Government would no doubt give effect to the necessary legislation.

There are, therefore, three doubts or three "ifs." What will happen if this Bill leaves the House without the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr)? I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means by "substantial agreement." I understand that there were four great Nonconformist bodies represented at the conference, and all but one were agreed on this question. I would like to point out that the bon. Member for Bodmin speaks not only for the Nonconformists, for whom he is an eloquent advocate, but also claims to speak for the rest of the public who have no religious convictions. At present the whole position is left in a state of uncertainty, but as soon as this Bill passes we have been told that everything will be settled. We have to consider the tremendous press of legislation this Session, and next Session, some of which will be highly controversial. At the present moment we are faced with demands for legislation dealing with factories, the Eight Hour Bill possibly for railways, mines, and other questions, and before very long we shall have what is known as "the Slaughter of the Innocents," which entails the dropping of a large number of Bills at the end of every Session. We have no guarantee whatever that Parliamentary time will be provided to pass the legislation which will be necessary to bring in the voluntary schools if this Measure is passed. We do not know what will happen at the next Election or when it will come. We expect to win the next Election but a miracle may happen, and we may find another Government in power. The hon. Member for Mile End has already reminded us that the pledges given by the President of the Board of Education will certainly not bind any future Parliament.

If we could be told definitely that the Government intend to legislate on this question, I believe a statement of that kind would satisfy everyone on these benches, and it would satisfy every reasonable person who is interested in this question. All we have been told is that if substantial agreement can be arrived at, the legislation required will be put before the Cabinet, and it is believed that the Labour movement will support this legislation. I propose this way out which will avoid a Division at all. We want the Prime Minister to state definitely that he does intend to pass legislation, and that he will try to meet the wishes of Nonconformists for an agreed Bill. There are secularists in the Labour party whose wishes we also want to meet, and we want to come to a definite agreement on this matter. The Bill with which we are now dealing will not be worth the paper on which it is written unless the voluntary schools are brought in, and to do that there must be further legislation. We want to get round an awkward corner. We want to arrive at a certain measure of unanimity, and we desire to meet the views of our Nonconformist critics. We are honestly trying to find a way out of this difficulty.

There is another matter that must be mentioned. Suppose that this Bill passes this House without the Amendment, what guarantee is there that it will pass another place? We have [...] reckon on that, and we may as well face the facts quite frankly and openly; there will be a grave danger of this Bill being defeated in another place unless the voluntary schools are to be brought in. Already we have postponed its operation until September, 1932, largely at the request of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite, who are now resisting agreement. I am afraid that much of its value from the point of view of unemployment is lost owing to that postponement, and, unless we can come to an agreement with regard to the voluntary schools, much of its value from the point of view of education will be lost also. Two million children will, as has been said by the hon. Member opposite, be treated as untouchables, as outcasts not entitled to the same decency of schools, the same modernity of equipment, and the same efficiency of education which others will get whose parents, by, as has been said, the accident of birth, happen to be in a position or willing to send them to council schools.

I appeal to the Government to try to turn this undertaking the other way round. All that we want is an undertaking that they recognise that this matter has to be settled by legislation, and that the legislation will be so framed as to ensure the greatest measure of agreement. It is only putting the horse in front of the cart. At present we are dependent upon agreement by certain objectors. It will be said—it has been said, and it will be repeated—that, if we pass this Amendment, we cheek the possibility of agreement. I cannot follow that reasoning at all. I believe that we shall simply stiffen the backs of those who have made it quite plain already, in the Press and elsewhere, and since the conference was held at the Board of Education, that they are against any assistance to voluntary schools. If this Amendment is passed, the burden will then be upon them of having prevented the raising of the school-leaving age to 15, to which some of them have paid a good deal of lip service, and in regard to which some are of course perfectly sincere; but the passing of the Amendment, so far from preventing a settlement, will strengthen the hands of my right hon. Friend.

I am bound also to say this: We have not been encouraged up to now with hopes even if an agreement is come to. It the General Election we were autho- rised by our party to promise that there should be a round-table conference for the purpose of trying to seek agreement. I myself, in my place in this House, reminded the Minister of Education of that pledge, and I have always been told that there is no possibility of agreement, and that, therefore, a round-table conference could not be called. There was no question of calling a round-table conference at all until my hon. Friend's Amendment was put down. [Interruption.] I am only dealing with what is common knowledge in the House. An agreement was reached within the House, as nearly as it was possible to reach agreement, at any rate between the Anglicans and the Roman Catholics and the Minister himself. The original idea was that, if the Roman Catholics could be satisfied, and the Anglicans could be satisfied legislation would proceed. The Anglicans were fairly well satisfied with the last Bill, and always supported it, and we have a right to speak in this matter. We were always led to understand that, if the Roman Catholics were satisfied, another Bill would be introduced. When the Roman Catholics were agreed, when the Anglicans were agreed, when the teachers were agreed, when the local authorities were agreed, when a great many Nonconformists were agreed, we were told that there could be no settlement—


If my hon. and gallant Friend says that the teachers were agreed, I must point out that that statement must be modified very considerably. As a matter of fact, the attitude of the National Union of Teachers is a noncommittal attitude. They reserve to themselves the right to consider any Bill if and when it is brought before this House, and to support, amend or criticise it, or take any action that they may deem desirable. Therefore, it is wrong, it is an over-emphasis, to say that the National Union of Teachers has agreed to any proposal whatever.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I was quoting the President of the Board of Education, and my hon. Friend must address himself to the President of the Board of Education. I quoted the speech of the Minister at the beginning of these debates. I accept my hon. Friend's statement that the National Union of Teachers are not agreed, but a great many teachers are agreed, and there is hope of agreement with the others—


Their attitude is noncommittal.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I put it no higher than that. Then, when agreement had been come to on both sides of the House, my right hon. Friend suddenly discovered that he must have a round-table conference, but not till then could we get a round-table conference, and in the meantime 18 months had been lost. It is necessary to remind the House of what has gone before, and of the fact that we are again told by my right hon. Friend that, if he can get a substantial agreement, he will approach the Cabinet, and then he believes that a Labour Government in its wisdom will pass the necessary legislation. We ask for something more definite than that, and we believe that the Prime Minister can satisfy us. All that we want is a recognition of the facts as they are, and a declaration that the Government mean to deal with the facts as they are. We only want a promise that the Government intend to govern with as wide an agreement as they can get, and that they will bring in a Bill to help the voluntary schools, without which they could not possibly make the present Bill work. In the highest interests of education what we ask is reasonable; in the highest interests of the children it is reasonable; and, from the point of view of the many undertakings and pledges of the party in the endeavour to meet these very difficult circumstances which have been inherited, and for which we are not responsible, I think the Government might at least say that. If they will do so, there is no need for us to divide on this matter. If we pass this Amendment, another Bill can be introduced in due course, and my right hon. Friend can continue his negotiations with his hands very much strengthened, in order to get agreement among the only section involved which is standing out on this great question.

Commander SOUTHBY

I should like to add my voice to that of my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. Ramsbotham) in paying a tribute to the way in which the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr) spoke in introducing this Amendment. I think the whole House will agree that his speech was a broadminded and genuine one, in which there was no trace of religious rancour from first to last. The fact that we on this side of the House are supporting an Amendment moved by an hon. Member on the other side, who is not of the same religious persuasion as some of us who are speaking in support of it, is, I think, sufficient proof that we are actuated neither by considerations of party nor by religious bias. [Interruption]. I hope that the hon. Member who laughs is as clear in his conscience as I am in mine. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!"] I hope that the hon. Member means that when he says it. I have no desire to raise or to increase in any way any question of religions difference, either here or throughout the country. I am pleading for an act of bare justice to the non-provided schools. I deplore the fact that there has been no settlement. I am sure that all those who took part in the conversations during the Recess endeavoured as far as they could to bring about a settlement of a very difficult question. It is a plain fact that the non-provided schools cannot possibly face the burden which will be placed upon their shoulders if they are to take such steps as are necessary to fit them for the carrying out of the provisions of this Bill. I do not think that that is controverted; I do not think that any Member of the House will deny that it is the fact. I do not think that the figures given by my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster have ever been queried by any Member of the House, and the fact that two-fifths of the children of this country are receiving instruction in non-provided schools does entitle the non-provided school to reasonable consideration from this House.

The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) made a point which I am glad the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) took up, namely, that the 2,000,000 children in these non-provided schools are not by any means all of the Anglican persuasion, but belong to many religious denominations. That, surely, is a very good proof of our fair-mindedness and our desire to see justice done. In supporting this Amendment we have at heart, not only the interests of the Anglican children, but the interests of children of other denominations who are receiving excellent instruction at Church schools. Nowhere in this Bill from first to last is there any mention whatever of a non-provided school. If the school-leaving age is raised before this agreement, or some agreement, is reached, there is no doubt that a grave injustice will be done to many children in this country, who will receive an education which is not as good as that given to the children who are educated in provided schools. The Minister said that he did not wish to handicap the children in the provided schools. Why, then, does he desire to handicap the 2,000,000 children who are receiving instruction in the non-provided schools? If he is sincere in his wish not to handicap one lot of children he should be equally anxious not to handicap another lot. He himself has said that he believes that agreement can be reached. Surely, if he is sincere in his wish not to handicap any children, he will hold his hand with regard to this Bill in order that a settlement may be reached which will mean that there will be no unfairness to any children whatever.

The Minister's whole speech was a proof that this Bill is premature. Whatever its merits, whether it be a good Bill or a bad Bill, whether the age should be raised or not, until a settlement is reached on the non-provided school question the Bill is premature. There is no reason why this House should pass a Bill which is premature when by waiting, if the Minister is to be believed, agreement is possible. The Minister said that you cannot hustle an agreement. May I ask him why he wants to hustle the Bill? If it is important not to hustle an agreement, it is equally important not to hustle a Bill through if agreement can in fact be obtained by waiting. He has said that we can get agreement. Why not get the agreement without causing injustice to any children in the country? I endorse the statement of my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster that the Minister should accept this Amendment. If he really means that he can get agreement, there will be no danger in his accepting the Amendment, because, if he accepts the Amendment and gets his agreement, the Bill can then be put into force. If he means, when he says he cannot accept the Amendment, that if he accepted it the Bill would be wrecked then surely that is a denial of his statement that he believes that an agreement can be reached. In other words, the Minister cannot have it both ways.

I do not believe that the use of such expressions as "obstinate religious prejudice" from the Government Front Bench can possibly help in reaching a solution of this very difficult question. I think that the only way in which a solution can be reached is as far as possible to keep religious prejudice out. The hon. Member for Bodmin read a postcard, of which I suppose every Member of this House has received some hundreds, but I think it would have been fairer if, in reading that postcard, the hon. Member had made it quite clear that, when it referred to financial assistance, it meant, not financial assistance in the past, which everyone will agree has been given, but only financial assistance to non-provided schools in the future to enable them to put themselves in a position to carry out the provisions of the Bill. I hope that the hon. Member, who must know that that is what was meant by the postcard, may, perhaps, take an opportunity of saying to the House that he did not wish to misrepresent its meaning.


I did not wish it to be inferred that those who sent the postcard did not know that it had relation to this Measure, but I think that the wording of the postcard was unfortunate.

6.0 p.m.

Commander SOUTHBY

I am sure the House will accept the hon. Member's statement. The wording of the postcard may have been unfortunate, but I suggest that the wording of his speech when he read it and made his point was equally unfortunate, and I am glad that the matter has now been put right. The hon. Member suggested that there were two solutions of the question. I suggest that there is a third. If, indeed, you are going to take away all the church schools from Church control, would it not be possible when all the schools are secular schools to give opportunities to ministers of the various denominations to give religious instruction in those secular schools to the children belonging to those denominations? I do not think that would be impossible. The ingenious suggestion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hull (Lieut. - Commander Kenworthy) to obviate the necessity for a Division taking place in order that not only he and his friends but also the Minister might escape from a dilemma, will, if it is examined, not really hold water, because the suggestion, as I understood it, was that the Minister should give an undertaking that there would be definite legislation in order to effect a solution, whereas the Minister's promise, as I understood it, was that, if an agreement was reached, the Government would then bring in legislation following the agreement. On that point, I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman and I are in agreement. The Minister also stated that, if the Government gave a categorical promise to bring in legislation on this question, it would make it more difficult to obtain agreement, and I think that it was in that connection that he said it would raise "obdurate religious prejudice." Therefore, I cannot believe that the hon. and gallant Gentleman can really hope for the acceptance of his suggestion by the Front Bench when the Front Bench, in the person of the Minister, has already said that if a promise of that character were given from the Front Bench they believed it would be prejudicial to a settlement being arrived at.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I believe we are very near indeed to agreement on the matter, and that turning round the formula will really strengthen my right hon. Friend's hands. I was not being Jesuitical.

Commander SOUTHBY

I quite understand, and I agree that we are very near to a solution, but in his speech the Minister said that, if he made a promise to bring in legislation before any agreement had been reached, it would prejudice the chances of agreement, and I cannot see therefore how the hon. and gallant Gentleman can possibly expect the Minister to accept his suggestion, ingenious as it is. Whatever our religious convictions may be, I do not believe any Member of the House wants to do an injustice to the non-provided schools. They deserve well of the people of this country. They bore the burden and heat of the education of the children for many years before there was secular education, and, in common justice and fairness, they should be given a fair and square deal. Unless they get a square deal, they cannot possibly put themselves into a position to carry out the provisions of this Bill, and if they cannot carry out the provisions of the Bill, then the children who go to them must suffer. I shall most cordially support the Amendment. One point made by the Mover was that the Church schools should have teachers of the persuasion to which the schools belong. I do not think anyone will deny that that is right. If a school belongs to the Roman Catholic or the Anglican persuasion, in common sense and justice why should the teachers not be people who believe in the particular tenets of the Roman Catholic or the Anglican faith? The Bill is premature. It should not be brought into force until a settlement has been arrived at. I believe a settlement could fairly easily be arrived at, And I hope that either the Minister will accept the Amendment, or that the Bill may be lost until such time as agreement has been reached.


I divide the supporters of the Amendment into two categories, those who, like my hon. Friend the Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr), desire to see the raising of the school-leaving age, and desire the passage of the Bill, and those who have opposed it at every stage and, while they may be genuinely in favour of the Amendment, will welcome any opportunity that they can get to defeat the Bill. I am most sincerely desirous of a settlement. On the Bill introduced last summer I made a speech in favour of the settlement that was then incorporated. It is because I desire a settlement wholeheartedly and sincerely that I shall vote with the Government. I believe that, if this Amendment is incorporated in the Bill, it will seriously hamper my right hon. Friend in his efforts to secure a settlement. The issues that are involved in the matter go back very deep into English history, and it is quite a mistake to imagine that putting this Amendment into the Bill will assist in their solution. Those who are engaged in the administration of education know that this problem is seriously retarding the work of reorganisation in the schools, and is leading to extraordinary subter- fuges which would make the hair of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) stand on end if he were in the Committee Room and saw them being done, by members of his own persuasion, both political and religious, in their endeavour to get round the limitations of the present Act.

In order to prove that it is essential that there should be a speedy settlement, I want to describe one problem with which I am dealing in a parish that is well known to the Noble Lord, where you have three schools on roads in the shape of a letter L. The obvious school to make the central school is the one at the angle. It is a Church school. The one at the top of the L is a council school. An essential thing for the central school is to build some handicraft rooms and domestic subject rooms. We cannot build them if we make all three schools into a central school group, and make the Church school there the central school. If we leave the school at the top of the L—the council school—temporarily not united to the other two, and build the rooms at the angle, we can do it under the existing law. The next week we make the council school contributory and we can then continue our practical subjects in the rooms we have just built. That is a subterfuge that is unworthy of any great education authority, and it is a great pity that they should be driven to it. I give that as an example of the way in which the 1902 settlement is not suitable for dealing with the present situation.

There are some people, I believe some Members of Parliament, who believe that by carrying on a war of attrition you may abolish the voluntary schools. I had some very interesting figures giver, me yesterday by the President of the Board on that issue, and I find that between 1903 and 1930 the children in Church schools decreased by 902,000, but the children in Catholic schools, although the total number of children in all the schools of the country fell by 421,000, had actually risen by 33,666. It is, at any rate, certain that no war of attrition has seriously weakened the position of the Catholic Church in this matter. You have at the moment over 350,000 children whose parents say, "Not merely let my child be in a Catholic atmosphere at home, but in everything that has to do with his budding life he should also be in a Catholic atmosphere." I have no doubt the hon. Member for Bodmin and myself will both agree that to keep a child in one atmosphere for the whole of his life is a narrowing and a stunting influence, and I rejoice that my parents, though they were at least as strong Nonconformists as the parents of the hon. Member for Bodmin, allowed me to go to a Church school. It is true that I am no great ornament to Church education, but at the University I was able to assist divinity students who felt difficulty in mastering the intricacies of the Church Catechism.

We have to accept the fact that the parents of 350,000 children—and the children in Catholic schools are the children of Catholic parents far more than the children in Anglican schools are the children of Anglican parents—say, "My child is not being educated unless it is in a Catholic atmosphere." I desire to see every child irrespective of its parentage get the same benefits from the State for education if it is to avail itself of the State system of education, and, therefore, I desire to see a, settlement in which the necessary concessions are made to the public in the way of control, and in the way of dealing with all the public interests involved, which shall enable the children in the Catholic schools to get the same advantages as children in the provided schools.

The hon. Member for Bodmin alluded to a speech by Mr. Birrell on the Third Reading of a famous Bill. I should like to read from Mr. Birrell's speech on the Second Reading of that Bill. As to Roman Catholic schools, a man must have a heart like the nether millstone who is not deeply touched by the enormous sacrifices which the Roman Catholics of this country have made to provide for the education and the religious needs of their fellow-believers. They are cut off from much which in other times they were fairly entitled to consider their own—cathedrals, and other splendid foundations—and they have had cast upon them the obligation of looking after hundreds and thousands of poor Irish folk. I believe I am right when I say it is a charge that ought not to be brought against the Liberal party as a whole, or against any section of it, that it is without sympathy with those from whom on many important points they radically differ. Those words, uttered 24 years ago, ought to be the inspiration of this House and of the Liberal party to-day.


We do not complain of Mr. Birrell's proposals.


No, I was coming to that point. What was the proposal of Mr. Birrell? It was that these schools should be allowed to contract out, and that 370,000 children, because of the faith of their parents—and they are not responsible for that—should be denied the benefit of a State system of education. I am not prepared to punish any child because his parent fails to hold the same religious convictions which I hold and the same outlook on the proper training of the child. I feel that if we put this Amendment into the Bill—and this is where I desire to address my remarks more particularly to my hon. Friend who has moved it and my hon. Friends who have supported it—we shall help those persons who are determined to wreck this Measure if they can. I believe that my right hon. Friend is absolutely correct when he says that it will help obdurate minorities to hold out against the essential proposals of the many, and to hold out against agreement. I regret that the people who, in the main, are holding out at the moment are those associated with the hon. Member for Bodmin.


You ought to put all the facts before them.


I really tried to make that sentence as fair as I possibly could. I said "in the main." Would they like, if they had a Measure of which they were in favour, to find in it a sentence that would place the parents in the position in which they are placed? I appeal to my Catholic friends to consider whether it is wise, in the interests of a Measure which they want, to press this Amendment upon the House, carry it if they can, and ensure that the Bill becomes to all practical intents and purposes a thing which cannot further be proceeded with? I do not blame hon. Members above the Gangway opposite for supporting the Amendment. They are entitled to support it for both reasons, namely, that they want the Amendment and that they want to kill the Bill. I have no objection to their voting for it, but I appeal to my hon. Friends on this side of the House, especially those who take the view which I take, that although we are not Catholics ourselves we desire that the fairest possible treatment shall be accorded the Catholics and that their children shall not suffer at all because of the faith of their parents, and ask them whether it is not wise to desist from pressing this Amendment to a Division.


I am one of those who, from the beginning of this Bill, have opposed it at every stage and in every way, and therefore I come into the category of those to whom the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has just referred. However much we on this side of the House dislike this Measure, and however much we believe it to be wrong, we want it, if it has the misfortune to be placed upon the Statute Book, to be as good and as workable a Measure as possible. In my genuine dislike of the Measure, I sincerely believe it will prove absolutely unworkable unless some such proposal as this is inserted in it. Hon. Members talk of the hope of a settlement. I also hope for a settlement, though if the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education still believes it possible, after the speech of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot), the sunny optimism which we are accustomed to associate with him must be very sunny indeed. It is no use adopting an attitude—and I am not now going to refer to the hon. Member for Bodmin or to the people whom he represents; I am speaking generally—of political Bourbonism, of forgetting nothing and learning nothing since 1902. I am in full agreement with what the hon. Member said about the illogicality of the present system, but we have to face what we have got.

The hon. Member for South Shields, like myself, is one who will have to administer this Measure. He has pointed out, far better than I can possibly do, the fact that some settlement is absolutely essential if this Bill is to work, and, above all, if the reorganisation, which, though not in the Bill, is mixed up with the Bill, is to be carried out. It is absolutely essential that we should have some power to develop the voluntary schools. The real divergence of opinion between the hon. Member for South Shields and myself is as to whether this Amendment will help or hinder the President of the Board of Education in getting such a settlement. The President of the Board of Education has been trying to achieve a settlement for 18 months, and up to date he has failed. Although he may have been very near it once or twice, I do not think anyone here to-day can really lead the House to suppose that he is very much nearer a settlement than he was 18 months ago. If that is so, and if a settlement cannot be reached, it must mean that there is a recalcitrant minority. I do not mind whom that minority may be. It may be on one side or it may be on the other. It may be on the side which I represent. But I would say, in the interests of educational administration, that the recalcitrant minority has to be coerced. We cannot sacrifice the development of the education of the children. We cannot sacrifice such benefits, if any, that this Bill may give them. We cannot sacrifice these things to the views of any single solitary section. If this Bill goes through and comes into force without some agreement with regard to the voluntary schools, they will be sacrificed. Therefore, we must have an agreement.

I contend, despite what the hon. Member for South Shields and the President of the Board of Education say, that so far from weakening the position of the right hon. Gentleman, this Amendment would strengthen it, because it gives him the power to say, "We will give you the fullest agreement it is possible to get, but when we have got that agreement, whoever cannot accomodate themselves must, if the House of Commons sees fit"—always if the House of Commons sees fit—"go under, and must be sacrificed in the interests of the education of the children as a whole." I do not think that that is an attitude which anybody can really consider unreasonable. I appeal to the House to give the Minister the power so that if and when the Bill comes into force it shall at least appear on the Statute Book in a workable form, and not in a form which will absolutely stultify any benefit which it may contain.


The discussion which has proceeded so far is a very emphatic demonstration of the need for rejecting the Amendment which has been moved this afternoon. It is obvious that in the speech of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) we could hear the accents of Cromwell coming over the ages, and hear the notes of Puritanism ringing out. I, for one, although I do not com- pletely identify myself with that particular phase of religious life, feel grateful to the hon. Member for Bodmin because he reminds us of that duty to that historic episode in our English history. On the other hand, it is equally true to say that not only does the hon. Member for Bodmin speak with sincerity and emphasis in giving expression to a point of view that the President of the Board of Education himself realises, but also that Members on this side of the House who belong to this party speak with no less sincerity. We feel that the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr), at least in this sense, was at one with the hon. Member for Bodmin. Both were sincere in their desire to see that their particular attitude to religion and their particular form of faith should be recognised in any educational settlement. Personally, I hope very earnestly indeed that the House will reject this Amendment.

Apart from other matters, I should like to point out this fact. Even from the Roman Catholic standpoint, what is going to happen if this Amendment is carried and if, as a result, as an hon. Member on my right has said, the Bill is killed? It means from the Catholic standpoint, in my assumption, that a very sore calamity confronts them from the educational standpoint. It means, in other words, that if the Bill is passed they may be able to retain in their particular Catholic atmosphere in their own schools several thousands of children, whereas if the Bill is killed and all those Catholic adolescents betwen the ages of 14 and 15 go to factory, workshop, mine or mill—surely even Catholics themselves will admit it—there will not be anything like the Catholic atmosphere there which they would desire. I cannot properly appreciate the Catholic position in this respect. Apparently, they would sooner have a Catholic boy or girl in a non-Catholic factory or a non-Catholic workshop or drifting about the non-Catholic streets than see them, on the other hand, in a Catholic school even with the limits which may be imposed upon them.

I am certain, as has been pointed out more than once, that if the President of the Board of Education gave way to this Amendment it would undoubtedly be used, rightly or wrongly, by certain sections of the community as a victory for one side. As it stands now, there is no victory for any side. I appreciate, and I am sure many of us appreciate, the fact that behind the discussion which is now taking place there are very deep controversies indeed. I can appreciate those who, for instance, declare that it is almost an outrage upon their conscience to encourage any system which allows public money to be used for doctrinal purposes. I can appreciate that point of view. As a matter of fact, I will say frankly that, although I happen to have a very strong religious faith of my own, I believe that ultimately the only solution of this vexed problem will be along the lines of what is sometimes called—I think quite mistakenly—secular education. I say "quite mistakenly," because the very word "secular" is so ambiguous that I do not think it should be used in this connection. That is to say, I do not want to see, on the one hand, schools used as the cockpit of theological controversy, or for children to be impressed during their tender years with ideas and theories which are not of essential religious value, before they have had a chance to judge for themselves. Where so many of these people go wrong—and I speak humbly in this respect—is in assuming that the impress of an ecclesiastical or theological system is the same thing as religion.

For my part I want to see the educational system of this country profoundly religious. I want to see the atmosphere religious and the curriculum religious. I want to feel that the children of the future will be able to be trained and educated in schools where, even without the word "religion" being mentioned if necessary, they will nevertheless, absorb the religious atmosphere and have a real religious outlook upon life. That is why I sharply distinguished between schools which are nominally of a religious character but which actually are not. The true principles of a fine educational experience are of the essence of religion, though they be not expressed in theological terms. It is by the subtle spiritual nourishment of character that the school fulfils its highest function. The real essense of religion can only be breathed and absorbed by the soul of the child if the soul of the child is given every encouragement. In some of the schools of this country in which I have been, though they have been nominally of a denominationally religious character, I am bound to confess I have found, as far as I have been able to detect it, less real religious atmosphere than in some schools of an entirely non-denominational kind which I have attended.

I mention that because, although I have said I believe ultimately the solution of this problem will be by banning theological controversy and dogma from the schools, nevertheless I trust that no one will assume thereby that I personally want to see religion in its essence or real nature taken from the schools of the land. As a matter of fact, the real purpose and aim of every school must be to create a religious atmosphere. Children are not retained in schools to learn the three R's and how to wash the back of their necks. Every endeavour is made in schools worthy of the name to encourage that spirit of service co-operation and idealism which surely is the very foundation of a virile religions life. I must confess that I am appalled sometimes at the eagerness of theologians and others to grab children while they are still young, when they cannot judge for themselves, and to place them in an atmosphere where, almost automatically, they become imitations of those who are impressing them.

Although I hold these views, I also observe that there is in this country a large number of people who do not think as I do, and we have to face that fact. Although I hold my own views, obviously, if the other people are going to win, they will win by the process of permeation, education and conversion. I have no right to impose my views on a majority, nor have I the right to impose them on a minority. In other words, my Catholic friends and my Church of England friends honestly feel that it is necessary for them to have their own schools. I regret that fact, but it is a fact. That being so, I think we ought to realise that whatever may be our particular point of view, we must compromise, otherwise we shall have the greatest tragedy of all, the perpetual clash between right and right. I very much hope and believe that in the course of time the President of the Board of Education will achieve a settlement, an agreement, may I say a Christian agree- ment, between all Christians who at the present time do not see eye to eye. It should not be entirely impossible for those who name the same Name as the Inspirer of their faith to become influenced by the atmosphere of fellowship and reconciliation and, by the process of give-and-take, reach a solution of their difficulties. Must it be said that those who claim to have the highest religion in the world cannot come to a position where they can reach an agreement on this question? If so, then it must be for all time a shame and a scandal, and a deplorable revelation of the fact, that although we name His great Name, we are in our spirit very remote from the One who is supposed to lead us and be our guide.

If the Bill passes, as I trust it will, it will mean that all those who are interested in this matter will realise that the Bill is an accomplished fact, and I am convinced that, psychologically, that will do more to stimulate the various parties to come to an agreement than if the Bill were withdrawn. If the Bill be withdrawn, it will encourage all parties to try to get as much as they possibly can, to go on wrangling, fighting and squabbling, whereas in a much better atmosphere if we pass the Bill there will not be that manœuvring and scheming in order that the different parties may get their own way. When the Bill has become a fact on its passage, all the parties will do their utmost to find out within that limit how they can reach an agreement which is satisfactory to themselves and to those on the other side. I trust very earnestly that the President of the Board of Education will go forward on this courageous path. It must be to him very distressing to feel that some of his own supporters, driven, no doubt, by motives of sincerity, are putting him in a very great predicament this evening, while those who have moved the Amendment no doubt feel distress that the enemies of the Government and of our party are assisting our friends possibly to carry their Amendment.

If the President of the Board of Education presses on with his decision, there will be still differences of opinion, although there will be splitting in this party and in the party below the Gangway opposite, and those in our con- stituencies who have presented us with so many thousands of those square cards will be disappointed if we do not instantly and automatically bow down to their will, but it will be realised that we have obeyed our consciences in what we believe to be right, in the hope that eventually within our existing education system an agreement will be reached under which no section of religious feeling will be unjustly treated. It will be a compromise, but a compromise which at one and the same time regards the interests of the children and the religious convictions of those who are concerned.


I gathered from the speech made by the Minister that conciliation is in the air. I also gathered from him that he is hopeful that at no very distant future some system may be evolved which will meet the demands and the just requirements of those who are in the non-provided schools, and will bring them on to the same level as those who are in the provided schools. I see no logical objection to the Amendment from the Minister's point of view, because the Amendment merely asks this House to see to it that the Bill does not come into force until the agreement which the Minister hopes to achieve is forthcoming. Therefore, can see no injustice from the educational point of view, and no illogical action on the part of any Members of this House who want these matters to be rectified, in voting for the Amendment.

I did not understand the frame of mind of the Minister when he said that, properly speaking, the question of providing the money for the non-provided schools was not really the question that has to be dealt with, because they were not entitled to it under the settlement of 1902. In other words, if you have an injustice existing, you are entitled to continue that injustice until some future date arises when you can sweep all the injustices away. That is entirely a false argument and an unjust argument. If we are to perpetuate injustices in our time, when will the period come when we shall be able to sweep all the injustices away? Surely this is the juncture when we ought to look at the education system of this country and begin to take steps to see that it does not become more unjust than it is at the present time, on account of the position that has arisen owing to the difficulties of those who are running denominational schools.

When the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) was speaking, I felt that once again we were to be thrown into fierce battle on denominational lines. I trust, however, that that atmosphere will not be allowed to enter into our Debates on this occasion, although there is very great temptation to retaliate, after the remarks of the hon. Member. It was a very ungracious thing to suggest that it is entirely the duty of the parents themselves in their own homes to educate their children in the religion in which they believe. I cannot understand that argument. Can it be suggested that parents after a hard day's work should go back to their poor, miserable homes, clear everything away and start the religious instruction of their children? I cannot imagine that anyone would seriously suggest that that is a practicable thing. The State has designed to take the question of the education of the children out of the hands of the parents, and it is their bounden duty to see that the education of the children is continued in the faith of the parents who have handed those children over.

If there is one duty that we Catholics feel more than another—I am speaking as a Catholic at the moment, although I stand here definitely to represent the denominational schools as a whole—it is the absolute necessity and responsibility which rests upon Parliament to do fair by the parents of the children in our schools. We have proved our case up to the hilt. In 1928–29 we projected 40 schools which will take in another 9,000 children. We have closed none. We have had the finger of scorn pointed at us because we cannot keep the black-listed schools up to date. We have been unable to do so because of practical and financial grounds. The bringing of those schools up to the requirements of to-day is a financial impossibility in the congested areas of our cities. It is patent that those schools should become a charge upon the community, and should not be left a charge on the section of the community which has built them originally and is using them to-day.

During the last generation or two, so far as I have been able to watch the affairs of this country, I have noticed that there has been great consideration shown for the consciences of individual men and women. The conscientious objector has had more consideration than I think he would have received in any other country. That consideration had gone so far that he has been excluded from carrying out the law in various directions. He was even allowed to be excluded from going to the Front to fight for his country, when it was an essential thing that everyone should, according to law, do so. However, the conscience of the conscientious objector was respected. I am not saying anything about the merits of the question; I am merely quoting the fact. I maintain that those who have conscientious proposals to make and conscientious demands to put forward, which they feel to be essential in the interests of our schools, should be equally listened to. This question will never be settled in England and there will never be peace in England educationally, until that conscientious demand has been fully recognised and met.

It is said that this Amendment puts a pistol to the head of the Government. I do not agree with that assertion. It is a delaying Amendment only, and will give the Government time to bring about the agreement which is hoped for by the Minister. I was interested when the hon. Member for Bodmin sought to find the man who had stood up for the denominational schools and had declared that in the denominational schools there should be the atmosphere of that particular denomination. He was looking for someone who spoke from these benches and who came from Liverpool. I do not think it could have been anyone but me that was meant. Therefore, I accept the hon. Member's denunciation, and I say that it is folly to suggest that you can have denominational education in any school without the full atmosphere of that denomination being present in that school. It is folly to talk in any other way. It is folly to suggest, for instance, that in the Catholic schools we should not have the emblems of catholicity. It is good for the children that those emblems should be before them, just as it is well in the case of adults when we have a great decision to make that we should have the pictures of our fathers and mothers before us, and we can ask ourselves what they would have done in the circumstances. All these things are helpful to the intelligences of the children, and we Catholics as a body stand by these things as being helpful to the child.

I appeal to the House to deal with this matter on lines that will be final and conclusive. I see the very greatest danger that finality and conclusiveness will never be attained if we allow the Bill to pass as it stands to-day. Therefore, I join with confidence and with great respect those hon. Members on the other side of the House who have stood out even from their own party on the question of conscience, as was so ably expressed by the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr). I associate myself with him. I could not put the Catholic position, and I certainly could not put the denominational position, better than he did. Now is the time to do justice to the denominational system of this country and recognise the enormous services it has rendered in past days; and also what it is doing to-day. In Liverpool the Anglicans are seeking to raise £250,000 to provide the schools which are necessary in the new areas springing up all round Liverpool, and it is an effort which is produced entirely by considerations of conscience. I hope that the House will accept the Amendment, and pray for the day when a just settlement will be reached.


Anyone who enters the House of Commons to-day and listens to this Debate will be struck by some remarkable features. One would imagine that questions of religion associated with education would arouse some of the old passions and prejudices to which some of us were accustomed in the past, and it is all to the credit of modern thought and that wider and keener conception of national duty that the Debate to-day has been absolutely divorced from all that bitterness and prejudice. I am struck by another remarkable feature of this Debate—perhaps it is one of the most remarkable incidents in the history of the present House of Commons—that although we have been discussing one of the most vital things which can concern the life of the nation and its children there has been a manifestation of unanimity rarely shown in the House of Commons on any question. The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot) stands alone. I understand that he represents the Liberal party on this question. I should imagine that when a new leader presented himself to carry the flag of Liberalism, at least some of them would have done him the service of gathering round the flag, and I can come to no other conclusion than that, although the hon. Member is undoubtedly sincere, he does not represent the real spirit of the Liberal party or the temper of the English people on this question. He represents some of those antiquated prejudices which characterise so many of his utterances.

The Liberal party have in the past been the powerful advocate and defender of minority interests. We who are supporting this Amendment are the representatives of the most helpless minority in the country, but a minority which does not come appealing in a spirit of charity. It is a minority which, in face of the financial and industrial difficulties surrounding its life, has made the most wonderful sacrifices for the cause of education of any people in Europe. If you go into the great industrial centres and see the splendid educational establishments, the elementary schools, which have been built by the poor, the ill-paid, badly-fed and badly-clad, people of these communities, you will realise that the case made for Catholic people is made on behalf of people who desire to have these concessions because they have made great sacrifices themselves for the cause of education.

This Debate and all that has occurred to-day take the President of the Board of Education out of a difficulty. He has had several conferences of a very satisfactory character. He has impressed upon us the fact that he found very little or no hostility to the spirit and purpose of the Amendment amongst those who did not, represent Catholic interests, and I gathered from his speech that these conferences showed a real desire on the part of all concerned to see justice done to Catholic and non-provided schools. If that be the case so far as these conferences are concerned, and if he wants to secure absolute unanimity in the future—he will never get it in any conference—this Debate has shown that there is one tribunal higher than any conference to which he can appeal—the House of Commons. The President of the Board of Education, I understand, put forward certain financial concessions at one of these conferences, at least I read so in the Press. I read that the right hon. Gentleman offered to make certain grants to voluntary schools. I do not know whether that is right or not; and the right hon. Gentleman has not dissented. If that be so, why did he not bring forward the proposal to the House of Commons to-day? I was waiting to hear it. The right hon. Gentleman did not mention it, and in that case he should have given us some justification for its non-presentation. That has not been done.

The Prime Minister is in the House at the moment. If there is one consideration that should appeal to him and also to the President of the Board of Education it is the opinion of the House of Commons, the elected representatives of the people. I have listened to this Debate and I have only heard one note sung, and that not a very serious note, in opposition to all this wonderful harmony of view in regard to minority schools, and in view of that fact I make this appeal to the Prime Minister—it will relieve him of all future difficulties and save him from having to hold further conferences. The Prime Minister knows, after his wonderful and successful work at the India Conference upon which I congratulate him, that he can appeal from the detailed, difficult and complex views of a composite body to a great tribunal like the House of Commons and say to them, "I will leave this question to the free vote of the House, I will let the House of Commons decide the question themselves." If he did that, he would, in my judgment, be doing one of the wisest things for the nation, for education and for the Government, that any Prime Minister ever did. The President of the Board of Education said that he was not inclined to take that course. Has he been impressed by the discussion? Has he not realised that only one solitary voice has been raised against the Amendment?

The Government should consider that those who loyally support them will profoundly regret to have to vote against them upon a Bill in which they thoroughly believe. We believe in raising the school age, in better facilities for the increased number of children who will be brought under the re- organised scheme, but we believe also that this Bill should be a charter of educational freedom not for a section of the children of England but for all the children of England. When you spend public money to enable children to enjoy further educational facilities, it should not only be for children who attend provided schools but for those who attend voluntary schools; they are the children of England just as much as the children who attend other schools. The Labour party and the Government ought to understand best of all that the children of the Irish exiles in this land, the children of the Catholic poor, have been the stoutest and most loyal defenders of our great democratic institutions, and that to the fathers of these children we owe many of the splendid liberties and social reforms which are stamped upon the Statute Book of this country. The Prime Minister has a great chance of rendering a service to himself and to the Government, and of doing what no Prime Minister has ever had a chance of doing before, of satisfying the universal judgment of the House of Commons as expressed in the appeals which have been made from every part of the House.


The speech of the hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Devlin) will be welcomed in every quarter of the House for its tone and eloquence, and I should like to press the appeal which the hon. Member has made. It is true that throughout the whole of this Debate no voice has been raised, not even the voice of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot), against the principle of special financial assistance in the present circumstances to non-provided schools, upon conditions. There is, undoubtedly, an overwhelming majority in this House for any proposal on these lines which the Government might bring forward; and here may I refer to what the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said about the attitude of hon. Member on this side of the House, as being persons who dislike the Bill as a whole and who would therefore, he supposed, be only too willing to use this opportunity of wrecking the Bill. That is not an accusation which should be made against the party on these benches. Let hon. Members consider what our attitude has been. We have been strongly against the Bill, yet when the Government brought forward their Bill last summer containing their proposals for a settlement, although many of us were dissatisfied with them, we carefully refrained from putting a single Amendment on the Paper except one desired by the Free Churches, and I certainly went out of my way to make myself unpopular with many of my own Catholic friends by trying to persuade them from their opposition to the proposals.

7.0 p.m.

I did everything I could, and so did all the hon. Members behind me, to encourage and help the proposal of the night hon. Gentleman opposite. If we had the temptation to wreck the Bill on this point, though it might appear to be great, we have resisted it. I say in all sincerity to hon. Members opposite that, much as I dislike this Bill, if I could see a fair settlement of the religious question—even a temporary one—I should regard that settlement as compensating for the evils in the Bill. I am speaking personally, but in that I believe I represent a very large section of hon. Members behind me.

The fact remains that there is in this House an overwhelming majority for the very policy which the right hon. Gentleman has been pursuing and along the very lines upon which he has been trying to get agreement. This Amendment does not put forward any proposal which the President of the Board of Education has not himself put forward. He has taken a certain line during the last 18 months. He has admitted, as everyone admits, that neither reorganisation nor the raising of the school-leaving age—and especially not the raising of the school-leaving age which makes the reorganisation an intensely urgent thing—can be carried out under the present dual system as it stands. You have to amend it in some respects and there are really three courses, one of which the right hon. Gentleman can take. He can say that he will abolish the dual system and that we will have—not the secular system, for there is no reason to drag that in—a completely undenominational or interdenominational system, and that we will make all the schools provided schools, with the very real Christian education that is given in them. Or he can say that we will keep the dual system but we will take powers which we do not have at present under the Education Act, 1921, to compel children after the age of 11 to go from church schools to provided central schools. Thirdly, he can say that we will enable the non-provided schools to reorganise themselves by bringing them temporary financial assistance. It is that third course which the right hon. Gentleman has been taking. It is that third course to which the great majority of the hon. Members behind him were pledged at the last election. In any case, apart from the question of pledges, that is the line which the right hon. Gentleman has taken.

Why, after 18 months, are we still lacking any official information as to what proposals he has been putting forward? Why are we still left to our own devices in the House of Commons, left to excogitate our own possible solutions? Why has not the right hon. Gentleman brought down to this House the proposals which he has put before the conference, proposals for which we all know there is an overwhelming majority in this House? He has refused to do that simply because there is a section in this House and outside which dislikes those proposals and would like them further amended. Speaking entirely for myself, I will tell the House and the hon. Member for Bodmin what I told hon. Members opposite some months ago, that the way to a settlement is to recognise the justifiable grievances that the Free Churches have in regard to schools in single school areas and to bring forward compromise proposals which would in a measure meet those grievances, which are grievances we all feel. For that again the right hon. Gentleman would have an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons. But he refused to bring forward any proposals for fear of the unpopularity which they might create in some section outside.

This is not a religious issue. It is a question of simple administrative justice and efficiency. I believe that this question can be discussed without any reference to the religious character of the non-provided schools. If they had no religious character, your problems would still remain. It is not justifiable that the Government should refuse to give the opportunity to the House of expressing its majority feelings on a matter of pure administrative justice, simply because there are religious prejudices which would make that action and the action of the House unpopular in certain sections.

Only one argument has been raised against this Amendment, and that has been raised by the right hon. Gentleman, and his, supporters, of course, echoed him. He has said, "It is unfair to put a pistol to my head. You will give an excuse to all these recalcitrant minorities to put up their terms." Is not that rather an unworthy thing for His Majesty's Government to say as against the parents of children in non-provided schools in our big towns? This is where the right hon. Gentleman always seems to fail to get inside the other person's mind. By bringing forward this Bill, he has put a pistol to the heads of the voluntary schools in a way and to a degree that I never did under any of my reorganisation proposals. It is that pistol which is directed at the head of the voluntary schools to-day. The right hon. Gentleman is in effect saying at this moment to thousands and thousands of persons in Lancashire, who are in a trade dispute and on the streets and out of work, "You will have to stump up money to provide your children with extra accommodation the moment my Bill passes." That is the pressure the right hon. Gentleman is putting upon them. Is it not rather unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman to say: "I really must not give these poor people a handle against me by not raising the school age until I have done for them what I must admit to be just to them"?

In this Amendment we are asking him to do nothing which he does not wish to do himself. We are only asking him to put forward proposals which he would like to push through this House. This House and this Parliament have not at the present moment a very great reputation in this country for businesslike methods and effective action. There may be many reasons for that, but there is surely one reason above all. The House of Commons has never been able to function efficiently in the history of this country unless it was strongly led by a Government which was prepared to take its courage in its hands and to dare the House of Commons to throw out the Measures which they introduced. Never since Cromwell dissolved the Long Parliament, has any Parliament been able to function without that strong lead. We are asking the Government to give us that lead along precisely the lines to which they are already committed and to put before us the proposals they have already put forward elsewhere. Surely that proposal cannot be regarded as hostile. Surely the Government can respond to the appeal, which the whole House, without distinction of party, makes to them, for a lead on this vital matter on which the majority of the House is agreed.

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)

As the House knows, I was only yesterday released from very pressing business, and I can now only state, as the responsible head of the Government, what is the intention of this Government on the subject raised by this Amendment. My hon. Friend from Ireland made a very proper and a very moving appeal. I respond. He knows perfectly well, and every friend in this House of the voluntary schools knows perfectly well, that last year in our last Bill we tried to embody a compromise. It was not only a compromise; we understood it was an agreement. But, very much to our surprise, as soon as the agreement was published, one of the sides, which no doubt by our mistake we thought was a party to the agreement, proceeded to throw it over. For that reason among others the Bill had to be withdrawn. That shows what the Government wish to do. The Government know perfectly well that this question is pressing not only on account of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman opposite is flattering himself far too much when he puts so much emphasis on his own action. His own action led in every way to the raising of the financial position of the voluntary schools, although he did not face it.

There are two things to-day which raise the financial position of the voluntary schools. One is the Hadow report and the reorganisation of the schools, and the other is the proposal to raise the school-leaving age. We promised that we would have a conference between the voluntary school interests concerned. The first stage of the conference was an attempt to get an agreement among Members of the House. That was not successful. Then the conference was started and that conference is still going on. I believe we can get agreement, but I am perfectly sure that, if this Amendment is carried, it is going to put obstacles in the way of an agreement.

Let hon. Members put themselves in the position of those who are negotiating now. They know perfectly well that the Government are keenly anxious to raise the school age. The carrying of the Amendment would mean that nothing can be done to raise the school age unless the parties now in conference agreed. All that is required is that not only will the parties be interested in voluntary schools, but that they must also be interested in the raising of the school age. Under the cloak of what to me is a legitimate religious claim, the whole position of the Bill is going to be knocked into smithereens. That is one thing. Surely the best way for all those who are interested in the voluntary schools is to accept, on account of the proof that we have given, the fact that the Government are sincere in effecting a financial arrangement with the voluntary schools. We are just as much interested and just as sincere in our views about that as are hon. Gentlemen opposite. When the Noble Lord talks—I forget his exact words—about the unpopularity of my right hon. Friend in a certain quarter—




The Noble Lord said that my right hon. Friend was afraid of unpopularity coming from a certain quarter.


Not "a certain quarter."


The Noble Lord seems to forget that that certain quarter has also a conscience. Does the Noble Lord mean that in settling a conscientious problem he is going to do it by a majority? If he does, he really does not understand what a conscientious settlement is. In any event, so far as we are concerned, we do not believe in settling conscientious questions by a majority. They have to be settled—[Interruption.] If hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot listen to an argument, I have no intention of pushing it upon them. This is a question of conscience so far as the Catholics and the Noncon- formists are concerned, and in the settlement of that question of conscience it is all in the interest of good will and of harmony and of putting this Bill into operation when it is carried, if the Government are left with a free hand, as would happen if this Amendment were not pressed to a Division—if the Government were left with a free hand to carry on these negotiations, with the pledge definitely given that when the substance of a real agreement has been arrived at, when the outstanding problems—[Interruption.] My hon. Friend opposite, the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Foot), whose speech I heard, did not present a closed door, did not present a non possumus attitude; he assented to the general attitude. He has some points that appeal to my hon. Friends here. The way to settle the matter is not for our Catholic friends to ask for a repetition in their favour of power that has been used so oppressively against them, but to learn by their experience that the way to come to an agreement in these matters is by common consent. The Government are going to move everything they can to get that agreement, and when that agreement is got, the Government will produce legislation to carry it out in connection with the Bill now before us.


There is one word which should be said in reply to the case which the Prime Minister has stated. He has made an eloquent plea for the settlement of this matter by agreement, for a conscientious settlement. He has pointed out on one side the harm that he thinks would be done to the prospect of a conscientious settlement by the acceptance of the Amendment. The Prime Minister has failed to point out, and perhaps has failed to realise, that if the Bill is carried in its present form without an Amendment of this kind, there is no reasonable possibility of the non-provided schools being able to do anything. I am not saying that as a mere statement; I want to explain in a few words the reason for it. It has been said that this is no problem of the moment, but that it has been continuing, with the reorganisation of education, for some time. That is perfectly true. But the position is that so far the managers of the non-provided schools have been able to keep up. If the burden of this Bill is thrown upon them they will not be able, before September, 1932, to meet the necessities and the duties imposed upon them by the Bill. The result will be that if an agreement is not reached by 1932, and this Bill is passed, many of those schools would be killed. That is the answer to the Prime Minister's argument—an argument which should no more weigh with people whose desire is for a conscientious

settlement than the one which I put forward on the other side showing that the non-provided schools are in absolutely the same difficulty the same difficulty if the Bill is passed without the Amendment.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 249; Noes, 282.

Division No. 92.] AYES. [7.25 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) MacNeill-Weir, L.
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Gill, T. H. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Gillett, George M. Mander, Geoffrey le M.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Glassey, A. E. Marcus, M.
Alpass, J. H. Gossling, A. G. Markham, S. F.
Ammon, Charles George Gould, F. Marshall, Fred
Angell, Sir Norman Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Mathers, George
Arnott, John Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Matters, L. W.
Attlee, Clement Richard Granville, E. Messer, Fred
Ayles, Walter Gray, Milner Mills, J. E.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Milner, Major J.
Barnes, Alfred John Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Montague, Frederick
Barr, James Groves, Thomas E. Morley, Ralph
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Morris, Rhys Hopkins
Bellamy, Albert Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)
Benson, G. Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Mort, D. L.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hardie, George D. Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)
Birkett, W. Norman Harris, Percy A. Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)
Blindell, James Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Muggerldge, H. T.
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Hastings, Dr. Somerville Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)
Bowen, J. w. Hayday, Arthur Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
Broad, Francis Alfred Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Palin, John Henry
Brockway, A. Fenner Herriotts, J. Paling, Wilfrid
Bromfield, William Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Palmer, E. T.
Bromley, J. Hollins, A. Perry, S. F.
Brooke, W. Hopkin, Daniel Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Horrabin, J. F. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Hudson, James H, (Huddersfield) Phillips, Dr. Marion
Brown, W. J, (Wolverhampton, West) Jenkins, Sir William Plcton-Turbervill, Edith
Burgess, F. G. John, William (Rhondda, West) Pole, Major D. G.
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Jones, F. Llewellyn (Flint) Price, M. P.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Eliand) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Pybus, Percy John
Cape, Thomas Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne) Quibell, D. J. K.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Charleton, H. C. Jones. T. I. Mardy (Pontyprid[...]) Rathbone, Eleanor
Chater, Daniel Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston) Raynes, W. R.
Church, Major A. G. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Richards, R.
Cluse, W. S. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Kirkwood, D. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Knight, Holford Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Lambert, Rt. Hon. George ([...]. Molton) Ritson, J
Cove, William G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Romeril, H. G.
Cowan, D. M. Lathan, G. Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Law, Albert (Bolton) Rothschild, J. de
Daqgar, George Law, A. (Rosendale) Rowson, Guy
Dallas, George Lawrence, Susan Salter, Dr. Alfred
Dalton, Hugh Lawson, John James Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)
Davles, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.) Sanders, W. S.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Sandham, E.
Dickson, T. Lees, J. Sawyer, G. F.
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Lewis, T. (Southampton) Scott, James
Duncan, Charles Lloyd, C. Ellis Scrymgeour, E.
Ede, James Chuter Longbottom, A. W. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelity) Lowth, Thomas Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Lunn, William Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Elmley, Viscount Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Sherwood, G. H.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Unlver.) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Shield, George William
Foot, Isaac MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Shillaker, J. F.
Forgan, Dr. Robert McElwee, A. Shinwell, E
Freeman, Peter McEntee, V. L. Short, Alfred (wednesbury)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) McKinlay, A. Simmons, C. J.
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) MacLaren, Andrew Simon, E. D (Manch'ter, Withington)
Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness) Taylor R. A. (Lincoln) West, F. R.
Sinkinson, George Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.) Westwood, Joseph
Sitch, Charles H. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhitne) Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow) Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Tillett, Ben Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley) Tout, W. J. Williams Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Smith, Rennie (Penistone) Townend, A. E. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Smith, Tom (Pontefract) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Smith, W. R. (Norwich) Vaughan, D. J. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Snell, Harry Viant, S. P. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip Walker, J. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Snowden, Thomas (Accrington) Wallace, H. W. Wise, E. F.
Sorensen, R. Watkins, F. C. Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Stamford, Thomas W. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Stewart, J. (St. Rollox) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D.(Rhondda)
Strachey, E. J. St. Loe Wellock, Wilfred TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Strauss, G. R. Welsh, James (Paisley) Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr.
Sutton, J. E. Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge) Thurtle.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Courtauld, Major J. S. Harbord, A.
Alnsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hartington, Marquess of
Albery, Irving James Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Cranborne, Viscount Haslam, Henry C.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Llverp'l., W.) Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Haycock, A. W.
Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.) Crookshank, Capt, H. C. Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd,Henley)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Croom-Johnson, R. P. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Aske, Sir Robert Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)
Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent,Dover) Dalkeith, Earl of Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller
Atholl, Duchess of Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)
Atkinson, C. Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. Hoffman, P. C.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Davies, Dr. Vernon Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Davies, Maj. Geo, F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Hore-Belisha, Leslie
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.
Balniel, Lord Dawson, Sir Philip Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)
Beamish, Rear Admiral T. P. H. Devlin, Joseph Hurd, Percy A.
Beaumont, M. W. Dixey, A. C. Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham) Duckworth, G. A. V. Isaacs, George
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Iveagh, Countess of
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Dukes, C. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)
Bevan, s. J. (Holborn) Eden, Captain Anthony Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Edmondson, Major A J. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Bird, Ernest Roy Egan, W. H. Kelly, W. T.
Boothby, R. J. G. Elliot, Major Walter E, Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft England, Colonel A. Kindersley, Major G. M.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.M.) Kinley, J.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Everard, W. Lindsay Knox, Sir Alfred
Boyce, Leslie Falle, Sir Bertram G. Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Bracken, B. Ferguson, Sir John Lane Fox, Col. Rt, Hon. George R.
Braithwalte, Major A. N. Fermoy, Lord Lang, Gordon
Brass, Captain Sir William Fielden, E. B. Leach, W.
Briscoe, Richard George Fison, F. G. Clavering Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)
Brothers, M. Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks,Newb'y) Galbraith. J. F. W. Lindley, Fred W.
Buchan, John Ganzoni, Sir John Little, Sir E. Graham
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Gauit, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton Liewellin, Major J. J.
Burton, Colonel H. W. Gibbins, Joseph Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey
Butler, R. A. Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsworth)
Butt. Sir Alfred Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Lockwood, Captain J. H.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Long, Major Hon. Eric
Caine, Derwent Hail- Glyn, Major R. G. C. Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Campbell, E. T. Gower, Sir Robert Lymington, Viscount
Carver, Major W. H. Grace, John McConnell, Sir Joseph
Castle Stewart, Earl of Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. McShane, John James
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Greaves-Lord, sir Walter Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Greene, W. P. Crawford Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Mansfield, W.
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Margesson, Captain H. D.
Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.Sir J.A.(Birm., W.) Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Marjoribanks, Edward
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Gritten, W. G. Howard Marley, J.
Chapman, Sir S. Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Mason, Colonel Glyn K.
Christle, J. A. Gunston, Captain D. W. Meller, R. J.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Clydesdale, Marquess of Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Monseil, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Moore, Sir Newton J, (Richmond)
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Hammersley, S. S. Moore, Lieut. Colonel T. c. R. (Ayr)
Colman, N. C. D. Hanbury, C. Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Colville, Major D. J. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Ross, Major Ronald D. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Muff, G. Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A. Thomson, Sir F.
Muirhead, A. J. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Tinker, John Joseph
Naylor, T. E. Salmon, Major I. Tinne, J. A.
Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge] Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Todd, Capt. A. J.
Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart Toole, Joseph
Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D. Train, J.
Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Savery, S. S. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
O'Connor, T. J. Sexton, Sir James Turton, Robert Hugh
Oldfield, J. R. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome Vaughan-Morgan, sir Kenyon
Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Simms, Major-General J. Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Oman, Sir Charles William C. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
O'Neill, Sir H. Skelton, A. N. Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Smith, Alfred (Sunderland) Warrender, Sir Victor
Peake, Captain Osbert Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Penny, Sir George Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine,C.) Wayland, Sir William A.
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Smith-Carington, Neville W. Wells, Sydney R.
Pilditch, Sir Philip Smithers, Waldron White, H. G.
Potts, John S. Somerset, Thomas Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Power, Sir John Cecil Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Purbrick, R. Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Ramsbotham, H. Southby, Commander A. R. J. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Rawson, Sir Cooper Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Withers, Sir John James
Reid, David D. (County Down) Stanley, Lord (Fylde) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Remer, John R. Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland) Womersley, W. J.
Rentoul, Sir Gervals S. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Reynolds, Col. Sir James Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South) Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Richardson, sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford) Sullivan, J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. Mr. Scurr and Mr. Logan.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.


May I ask the Leader of the House if he proposes to proceed with the Bill to-night?


Really, I am rather surprised. I forget if the right hon. Gentleman was in at the conclusion of the Debate on the Amendment, but there is no principle at all involved in the Division between us. The whole question was this—whether a certain guarantee ought to be put in for the voluntary schools. There was no question about intention. The whole House is agreed regarding intention. We believed, and we still believe, that it would have been better if the Government had been left a free hand to negotiate. The Government will continue its negotiations, and we will do our best to overcome the difficulty that has been put in our way by the Amendment which has been carried. Beyond that, there is nothing to be said.


I must point out that the Amendment has not been carried yet.