HL Deb 21 July 1885 vol 299 cc1371-81

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.

Moved,"That the Bill be now read 3ª"—(The Earl of Rosebery.)


said, that the arguments against the Bill had never been heard. They were so numerous that it would take an hour and a-half to marshal them before their Lordships. He would, therefore, ask the noble Earl in charge of the Bill whether he would not postpone the Bill?


in reply, said, that he had postponed it two or three times; and knowing the exceptional nature of the Rules of the House, however early he might postpone it, he always found it at the bottom of the List. He, therefore, could not agree to the postponement, and he would have the greatest pleasure in listening to the noble Earl for as many hours as he chose to speak.


said, that he did not intend to inflict a long speech upon their Lordships.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 3ª accordingly.

On Question, "That the Bill do pass?"


in moving, as an Amendment, that in the Title of the Bill the word "Vice" should be left out before "President," and that the Title should read, "An Act for appointing a Secretary for Scotland and President of the Scottish Education Department," said, he would subsequently also move that wherever the word "Vice" occurred in the Bill it should be left out. In supporting the Motion, he said that those Amendments were of the simplest possible kind, and were intended to give the Bill something of the character which it had borne when his noble Friend (the Earl of Rosebery) intro- duced it, and which had been partially lost by giving the new Secretary the title of Vice President, instead of President of the newly-constituted Scottish Education Department. He thought the general principle of the Bill had been admitted by all Parties. It was to transfer to the new Scottish Secretary from the Home Office, the Treasury, or other Departments, various duties which were enumerated in the Schedule. He would merely mention two of these—the Poor Law administration, which was at present under the Local Board of Supervision, and the Lunacy Board. It had been objected to the transference of Education to the new Minister, that that would involve removal from the Treasury of the administration of money; but he would remind thorn that, as a matter of fact, considerable Parliamentary grants were at present given for the administration of the Poor Law and the Lunacy Acts, and also for the County Constabulary of Scotland. He, therefore, could not conceive why this principle could not be acted upon in the matter of Education. His Amendment was simply to leave out the word "Vice" wherever it occurred, so that the Minister for Scotland might have charge of Scottish Education in reality, and also so as to avoid a conflict of a very absurd kind, resulting in that division of authority which was sometimes attended with unfortunate results.

Amendment moved, in Title, page 1, to leave out the word ("Vice") before the word ("President.")—{The Earl of Minto.)


said, that his noble Friend (the Earl of Rosebery) had complained of the misfortunes which had attended his Bill; but there were certain rules which had to be observed. The whole character of the Bill was now to be changed on its third reading, in an almost deserted House, after it had passed in Report, and that, too, by the omission of a single word. The whole question was this. As the Bill now stood, the Secretary for Scotland would be in the same position with respect to Education as the Vice President of the Council on Education in England. He would have the administration of all the Scottish Education, but under the President of the Council, just as the Vice President was in England. Without expressing himself too strongly on the general merits of the Bill, although he was not so enamoured of it as some of his noble Friends opposite, he yet could not help thinking that what the noble Earl (the Earl of Minto) now proposed was very objectionable. What it amounted to was this—that no one but a Scotsman was to be considered fit to administer Scottish Education. He (Viscount Cranbrook) wished to know whether the noble Earl would like to exclude Scotsmen from interfering with, or exercising any influence on, English Education; or would take it out of the power of Scotsmen to administer Education in England — from his noble Friend (the Duke of Argyll), who had been head of the Council, or from his noble Friend (the Earl of Rosebery), who had attained a distinguished position as a Scotsman—a position which they did not at all grudge him? But now the position seemed to be this—that they were to set up a separate Department to which only a Scotsman was to be appointed, and to get rid of that admixture in one Office which enabled them to consult one another on many questions connected with Education, to talk over improvements, and to deal with Scottish Education, without, however, attempting to put down that system which had flourished in Scotland for centuries, and with which there had been no disposition to interfere in the Department. But suddenly the noble Lord proposed to change ail that at the last moment, and to set up a totally separate establishment—a new Department which would have to be created from beginning to end. He (Viscount Cranbrook) must leave the matter entirely to the House. The Bill was not in the hands of the Government; it was brought in by the late Government, and the present Government were ready to accept it in the form in which it had passed through Committee; but he was not able to accept the noble Earl's Amendment. It would be quite a different question in that event taking place, and it were adopted.


said, he did not think that the contention of his noble Friend the Lord President of the Council—that this was a very unexpected proceeding on the part of his noble Friend (the Earl of Minto)—was quite justified by the facts, of which he (the Earl of Rosebery) would proceed to give his noble Friend a gentle reminder. He must make it quite clear to the House that the noble Earl was not doing anything that was outrageous, or anything but what was justifiable. The clause which ho (the Earl of Rosebery) had originally introduced was exactly what the Amendment of the noble Earl now proposed to effect; but after ho entered the House on the day of the Committee stage, the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Cranbrook) said to him that, technically, it could not be carried out; because, if the word "President" were left in, there would be two Presidents of the Council, and therefore, at the last moment, he (the Earl of Rosebery) had consented to insert the word "Vice," of which very general, and he thought just complaint had been made on the part of his noble Friend behind him (the Earl of Minto). As a matter of fact, he (the Earl of Rosebery) had examined more into that question since his noble Friend had insisted on leaving out the word "Vice;" and he must say that all the highest authorities on the subject—not the political authorities, but all the real authorities—would tell the noble Viscount that it was not unheard of that a Committee of Privy Council for a particular object should have a President. There was a President of the Local Government Board; there was a President of the Board of Trade; and he did not think that, as regarded the technical point, there was anything to object to. But his noble Friend the President of the Council said that the Amendment of his noble Friend behind him would make it impossible for anybody but a Scotsman to have control of the Scottish Education Department; but he had also told them, in the earlier part of his speech, that the Vice President was to have complete control of the Scottish Education Department. He (the Earl of Rosebery) would go a little further, and say that, if they were to adhere to the words that the Lord President used on the first occasion on which they discussed this subject, and which were to the effect that if the thing were to be done it had better be complete and total in its nature, then the Amendment of the noble Earl was a great improvement on the Bill; or, rather, the restoration of the clause which he (the Earl of Rosebery) had formerly introduced. Why, if it were really intended to separate Scottish Education from English Education, why should they not do it thoroughly? Why put in the word: 'Vice President," unless there was still some idea of keeping up fancied connection with English Education? It was neither one thing nor the other, putting in "Vice President." It was not taking it out of the Education Office, and it was not putting it under the control of the Scottish Secretary. He had been quite prepared, he had submitted, to accept the word "Vice" when proposed by his noble Friend the Lord President; but the more he had looked into it, the more he had thought of it, the more convinced he had become that there was something more in that word than met the eye. But there was a further obstacle. If the separation of Education in England and Scotland was really wanted, there could be no objection to the Amendment of his noble Friend; and if the separation of English and Scottish Education was not really wanted by the Government, it would give no satisfaction to Scotland. He had one word further. There was this small objection. It was that there was a very grave inconvenience in having two Vice Presidents of the Council. It was quite obvious—one could see how many practical objections might arise from such a state of things. They might put one Vice President in the Cabinet, and unfortunately the other Vice President might be left out, which might cause ill-feeling; and, further, if they had two Vice Presidents, they might have any number of them. The Childers' Committee had been largely relied upon by those who wished to put Education under a popular Scottish Minister as Vice President, and who objected to the word President. In fact, the whole object of the Childers' Committee was to get rid of the Lord President's predominance over Education in that country. But now, by putting a new Vice President of Education under the Lord President, they were bolstering up and stereotyping the very arrangement which the Childers' Committee wished to do away with. He would say that without fear of contradiction. He would only say one thing more. He believed that those who were permanently connected with the Education Department, those who really had to deal with this matter, were certainly in favour of the Amendment of the noble Earl (the Earl of Minto) that the Minister should be a President. They believed that, if the separation was to take place, it should be complete. It might be better to keep it entirely in the hands of the President and the Board of the Privy Council; but if it were to be separated at all, it should be separated altogether. He therefore entirely preferred his original clause being restored to the Bill than have the Bill as it now stood.


said, he was entirely in favour of transferring the Education of Scotland to the Scottish Minister; but he was also desirous that the Bill should pass, and, therefore, he thought his noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Rosebery) was not exercising a wise discretion in putting the Bill into a hostile or aggressive position again. He thought the noble Earl would do much better to accept what was in the nature and phrase of a compromise, which would create less disturbance of the machinery of the Department, and, while it would procure a separation between the conduct of Scottish and English Education, would not distract too violently the arrangements of the Government Departments. He (the Marquess of Salisbury) certainly would much regret if there should thus be created a danger to the passing of the Bill. After all, considering the matter not only from the general standpoint, but from the special standpoint of the 22nd of July, he thought it was not desirable, nor did he believe that, at that period of the year, so wide an administrative change as the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Minto) contemplated could be safely carried out. He hoped, however, that the House would assent to the second mind instead of to the third mind of the noble Earl (the Earl of Rosebery); and if the House decided otherwise, he could not promise that the Government in the House of Commons would do otherwise than adhere to the view he had now expressed.


said, that the Bill was a great disappointment. What they had agitated for formerly was to have a Scottish Secretary in the Cabinet.




said, that the noble Earl had said in that House that if they would put the Lord Advocate into the Cabinet, that was all they wanted. Having failed in that, what did they do? They tried to get as much work and as high a position as they could for this mongrel Minister for Scotland. Education had been added this year, and now his noble Friend (the Earl of Minto) was not satisfied with the position of Vice President, but was insisting that the Scottish Secretary must be President. Was the new Secretary to feed and clothe the children, and give higher education and facilities for secondary education at the expense of the rates? He understood that that was the intention, and be objected in the strongest manner to that proposal.


said, that the noble Earl who had just sat down (the Earl of Wemyss) was altogether wrong in the matter. He (the Marquess of Lothian) claimed to know more about the movement in Scotland than the noble Earl; for he had presided at the great national meeting in Edinburgh, when the wishes of the people of Scotland were unanimously expressed on the subject, while all they had on that occasion from the noble Earl was a letter, in which he expressed his disagreement with the object of the meeting. All Scotland approved of the Bill, and at the meeting to which he had referred the question whether the Secretary for Scotland should be a Cabinet Minister was raised; and he, for one, had pointed out that it was impossible to pass a resolution that any given officer of State should of necessity be in the Cabinet. Therefore, he thought he might fairly say that the noble Earl was quite wrong on this point. On the question of rating for Education, he did not think that would fall into the hands of the Minister in charge of Scottish Education; but, if it did, he did not think the rate would become heavier than at present. He was sorry his noble Friend the Lord President of the Council had not seen his way to accept the Amendment of the noble Earl (the Earl of Minto), and his own reasons for supporting that Amendment were those stated by the noble Earl in charge of the Bill (the Earl of Rosebery). From what his noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury) had stated on a former occasion, he (the Marquess of Lothian) understood that the Government were anxious that the Bill should be interpreted in the most liberal way possible, and that they accepted the addition of Education as forming part of the Bill. But after what had now fallen from the noble Marquess ho felt that it might be a great mistake if their Lordships divided upon the question; and if the Lord President was able to give satisfactory assurances in reply to questions which lie would now put to him, ho thought that the object of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Minto) would be attained, and he would ask him not to press his Amendment. He would like to ask the Lord President of the Council — first, whether it was intended that the Scottish Education Department should be wholly distinct and separate from the English Education Department in form, substance, and organization, and that there should be a separate permanent Secretary for Scotland; and, secondly, whether the patronage and the sole control of the Department should rest with the Scottish Minister and Committee? He did not think his noble Friend (Viscount Cranbrook) had yet given any direct assurance on the question of patronage; and he held that if the Scottish Education Department was to be separated from the English Department, and be, practically, under the control of the Scottish Minister, the patronage ought to be in his hands. He trusted that, after what had fallen from his noble Friend, he would be able to answer the question in the affirmative.


said, he must press on his noble Friend (the Earl of Minto) not to divide the House on this question. He (the Marquess of Huntly) understood that there was a general feeling among the Scottish Peers in favour of the Bill, mainly because it proposed to place Education in the bands of the new Minister; and that being so, they might have made the Secretary for Scotland in name what he would actually be in substance; but, looking to the future of the Bill, if it were not supported by the Government, he thought it might be advisable not to insist upon the Amendment.


said, he was half a Scotchman, and hoped this Bill would be carried in accordance with the wish of the people of Scotland; and if the noble Earl's Amendment were pressed he would vote for it.


said, that he, for one, had had a serious objection to the proposed change in the interests of Education in general; for he thought that Denominational Education would suffer from the change, and it was not to the advantage of the Denominational Education in Scotland that Education should be made over entirely to a Scottish Board. He, therefore, hoped that the new Department for Scotch Education would not direct its efforts to the discouragement of Denominational Education. There was nothing to prevent the new Minister deciding that English certificates should not extend to Scotland. Such a step would be fatal to the Scotch Roman Catholics, because the Training Colleges from which their teachers came were all situated in England. He desired to make these remarks to the House, as he had had no opportunity of voting, otherwise he should have preferred to give a silent vote in favour of the Amendment moved by the noble Earl on the second reading of the Bill.


said, he must deny the statement that all the Scottish Peers were in favour of transferring Education to the new Minister. For instance, his noble Friend (Lord Balfour) had said—


rose to Order. The noble Earl had already spoken twice on the Amendment.


said, that, at the risk also of being told that he had spoken twice, he would like to answer the question of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lothian). What he supposed was meant was this—that the Vice President who would be Secretary for Scotland would have exactly the same control over Scottish Education which the English Vice President had always had over English Education. Now, as the President of the Council was President of every Committee of the Privy Council to which there was a Vice President, so he must retain that authority in this case. It was not with him (Viscount Cranbrook) a personal matter—he was only speaking of what appertained to the position of President, and that view had been held Lord Denman by the Education Commissioners — namely, that the President must retain the supremacy. As to the patronage, he thought the less the Minister had to do with it the better for him. But, apart from that, he could not divest the present holder of patronage, unless it was taken from him by Act of Parliament. It could only be expressed through an Act of Parliament.


There is the Board of Trade.


said, that the Board of Trade had it under an Act of Parliament. A noble Lord had spoken of the possibility of a Vice President setting up a new system for Scotland. Well, he presumed that, with a separate establishment, a new Minister for Scotland would issue his own Code and Regulations, and would not be bound in any sense by the Code which was now in force. That was something which he certainly was not anxious to affirm. As to being distinct and separate in form and substance, he might say that Scottish Education was one and English Education another thing; but, in substance, it was the same thing, and was paid for and dealt with in the same manner. The organization of Scottish Education would be the same as now. The administration of the present Vice President would cease, and the administration of the new Vice President would come into force.


said, that as the noble Marquess at the head of the Government (the Marquess of Salisbury) had told them that if this Amendment were pressed he would no longer be responsible for the welfare of the Bill—


(interrupting) explained that what he had said was, that he would not be responsible for the welfare of the Amendment.


said, that as he had interpreted the noble Marquess to mean that the measure might be rejected as a Government measure in the other House if the Amendment were persisted in, ho did not now propose to move the Amendment. He would rather see the Bill passed as it stood than see it opposed by the Government. He would therefore withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment (by leave of the House) withdrawn,

Amendments made.

Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

House adjourned at half past Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, One o'clock.