HL Deb 16 July 1885 vol 299 cc897-901

Order of the Day for the Report of Amendments to be received, read.


said, he thought their Lordships should have a clearer and more distinct understanding than they had at present as to the course the Government proposed to take with regard to the Bill in the other House.


said, he had already stated that although the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Rose-bery) had continued in charge of the Bill in their Lordships' House, they proposed that, in the other House, it should be taken up by them, and become a Government Bill.


said, he was quite aware of that; but he was anxious to know what the intentions of the Government were with regard to the Scottish Education Department? There was some uncertainty on that point, because of the remarks of the noble Viscount the Lord President of the Council (Viscount Cranbrook) on Tuesday night.


said, he very much regretted the absence of his noble Friend (Viscount Cranbrook) on the present occasion, and that he was not there to explain the matter. However, he understood from the speech of his noble Friend on Tuesday, that the Government entirely accepted the Amendments introduced at the instance of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Rose-bery).


said, a considerable change had been introduced into the Bill with regard to the title of the Secretary, and he thought it was very desirable that there should be no doubt whatever as to what the position of the Secretary for Scotland, as Vice President of the Council who was to preside over the Scottish Education Department, was to be. He understood from his noble Friend the Lord President (Viscount Cranbrook) the other day that that position was to be absolutely clear and distinct; and he should like to know now if the Government could, in a more distinct manner, give a confirmation of what the Lord President was understood to say on Tuesday. He wished, in the first place, to know whether he was correct in understanding the Lord President to say that the Scotch Education Department would be wholly distinct and separate alike in form, in substance, and in organization from the English Department; and, secondly, whether, in spite of the alteration of title from President to Vice President, it was still intended that the Depart- ment should be under the control of the Scotch Secretary? The Scotch people had made up their minds that they wished to have the control of their own education, and their Lordships having conceded so much to their wishes—he might say their unanimous wish—he thought it should be made perfectly clear and distinct what the scope of the Bill was before it left that House.


said, the title of the Secretary for Scotland, as regarded education, had been changed in a very remarkable way. The Amendment, as it stood on the Paper on Tuesday morning, was to the effect that the Secretary for Scotland should be the President of the Scottish Education Department; but when he looked at the Bill now before him, he found that the word "President" had been changed to "Vice President." He did not know that that change had been made. Ho would like to ask the noble Earl what the position of the Scotch Secretary was to be in regard to education; and, also, that they should know something more about the position of the Committee of Council. Was that Committee to be composed simply of official Members of the Council, or was it to be specially constituted so as to meet Scotch requirements? It was very desirable that they should know what was to be the constitution and the real functions of the Scottish Department. Was it to remain merely a titular body? In short, was it to be a sham or a reality? Was the Lord President of the Council to be a Member of the Scottish Committee of Council, and was he to be of superior rank to the Secretary for Scotland? He regretted that he could not join in the general approval given by their Lordships; for, in his own opinion, the change made in the title of the Secretary was a change for the worse, and he regretted that it should have been made.


in reply, said, he could not give any pledges or extended explanations in regard to the constitution of the Committee; but it was due to the noble Earl behind him (the Earl of Minto) to say something to clear up the point that had been raised as to the change in the title. It was perfectly true that, in the Amendment as it appeared on the Paper, the word "President" was there; but in the Amendment, as he (the Earl of Rosebery) read it to the House, he used the term "Vice President." The explanation of the matter was this. In drawing up the Amendment, he had taken the analogy of the Board of Trade, which was a Committee of the Privy Council, constituted with a President by an Order in Council. He did not not see why the same form should not be used in this case; but, on coming down to the House, the noble Viscount the Lord President (Viscount Cranbrook) pointed out to him that, though he quite understood the intention to be as it was stated, yet it would not be possible to have another President of the Council, one permanent, and the other shifting. The Chairman of the English Committee of Education was called Vice President, and therefore, as a matter of form, it was better that the Scottish Secretary should also be a Vice President. He (the Earl of Rosebery) did not see any great difference in substance in the change. He was asked by the noble Earl whether the Committee was to be a sham or not. He had no power to decide that point; but, in moving the Amendment, he had laid great stress on the intention of the promoters of the Bill that the Committee of Council should be a living reality, and not be, as at present, a collection of phantoms; but that, of course, rested more with noble Lords opposite than with himself. The noble Earl who had just spoken (the Earl of Minto) had said that he thought the original better than the amended Bill. In some respects, he agreed with him. He (the Earl of Rosebery) himself would have preferred if it had been possible to transfer education to the Scottish Secretary in a more distinct way by scheduling the Education Act; but it appeared that that was not possible. However, they were doing all they could in that direction, and he thought it infinitely better to do it in the way he had, than to risk the passing of the Bill by introducing changes in the interpretation of a Statute. For the rest, he trusted to the public declarations of the Lord President, who said that if education in Scotland was to be transferred to the new Minister—and it was to be transferred—it must be transferred as thoroughly and completely as possible. He (the Earl of Rosebery) put the largest interpretation upon these words. They could not, in a Bill of that sort, deal with the question of patronage. That was outside the scope of the Bill. If it was intended at the last moment to withhold any part of that complete transference, all he could say was that an incomplete transference would be wholly unsatisfactory to the people of Scotland. The people of Scotland had made up their minds that their Minister was to have the control, absolute and complete, of their education, and anything that fell short of that in reality would be unsatisfactory to them. He believed also the Government were determined that this should be a large and a graceful concession, and not a niggardly and grudging one. In one case, it would be complete and satisfactory; in the other, it would be a phantom.


said, he thought the explanation which the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Rosebery) had given of what took place the other night was a perfectly accurate one. Ho understood that the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) was anxious for some fuller and more precise information on certain points which he thought could be best supplied by the Lord President. What he (the Earl of Iddesleigh) would venture to suggest, therefore, to his noble Friend (the Marquess of Lothian) would be that, instead of attempting to deal with the matter now, he should renew his Questions to the Lord President on the third reading of the Bill. If that course was taken, he had no doubt they would have a satisfactory statement from the Lord President with regard to the matter.


said, he would act upon the suggestion, and repeat his Questions when the Lord President was present on the third reading of the Bill.

Amendments reported accordingly; and Bill to be read 3ª To-morrow.

House adjourned at a quarter past Six o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Ten o'clock.