§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD CARLINGFORD (LORD PRIVY SEAL)
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, it was for the purpose of improving the tenure of the teachers of the board schools in Scotland. It had been alleged that in some cases there had been arbitrary dismissal of teachers in Scotland, without any notice, and at very scanty meetings of the school boards. The Bill accordingly provided that teachers should not be dismissed without sufficient notice, and only by a full meeting of the board. That was the only object of the measure, and he hoped their Lordships would read it a second time.
§ moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Lord Privy Seal.)
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, he had no objection whatever to this Bill, which referred to a very important subject indeed. He rather congratulated the Government upon the firmness with which they had resisted the movement on the part of the public school teachers for something very like fixity of tenure. For his own part, his experience led him to say that the tenure of the old schoolmaster in Scotland partook so much of the character of fixity that it was almost as difficult to remove a parochial school- 13 master as it was to remove a clergyman; and the educational interests of parishes suffered most severely from the survival of many teachers who ought to have been dismissed. He would not say there were many such cases, but he had known some; though, on the whole, the old teachers were a most respectable body. When the present Education Act was passed, it was very properly provided that those schoolmasters who were appointed subsequently to the passing of the Act should hold their office under a different tenure, that they should be the servants of the school board, and that they should be liable to dismissal by the body which was charged with the education of the parish. The new schoolmasters desired, however, to put themselves on the same footing as their predecessors. With this object considerable pressure was brought to bear on the Education Department; but he was glad to say that Lord Spencer, then at the head of the Department, offered a very firm resistance to those proposals, although he agreed to this modified Bill, which provided that sufficient time should be allowed to schoolmasters to answer any charge which might be brought against them, and that there should be a full attendance of members of the board at the trial. That was a very reasonable and moderate proposal. He had not known any cases personally of capricious dismissal; but it was quite possible there might be such, and it was, therefore, just and proper that there should be sufficient time given to the schoolmaster to answer any charges against him, and a full attendance of the school board before so serious a step was taken as his dismissal.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.