§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ * THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Viscount CRANBROOK)
My Lords, I have to ask your assent to the Second Reading of this Bill, a Measure which I hope will settle a controversy which has existed for a considerable period. In the year 1881 a Committee, which was appointed by the noble Earl opposite, who then filled the place which I have now the honour to occupy, reported in favour of a system of intermediate education for Wales at considerable length and inconsiderable detail. Since that time many attempts have been made to legislate in the matter; but either from want of time, or more particularly from the want of unanimity on the part of those interested, legislation has not taken place, and Bills which have been brought in on, I think, three or four occasions have passed away into the limbo of Bills, alike unfortunate, and have not come to any real result. I am very sorry that on this occasion my noble Friend Lord Aberdare, who was Chairman of that Commission, is absent, and unhappily from illness, but I have his assurance that if he had been here he would have given his hearty support to the Bill which I have brought before the House. My Lords, the Bill is a very simple one, and I do not propose, in saying a few words in its favour now, to make any remarks upon the Bills which have preceded it, except to say that with regard to the measure introduced this year in the other House it was read a second time with the assent of the Government, on the distinct understanding that it was not 428 assumed to be accepted in its details, but that the interests of intermediate education in Wales were of such a character that it was desirable, at all events, that a measure should be passed in the course of the present Session. In consequence of that understanding we took the Bill into consideration, and by degrees framed Amendments which have been accepted by the authors of that Bill; and though, perhaps, they may not have been satisfied with everything done by us, they have seen that it is likely to advance education in Wales, and they have considered it advisable to give way on some points in order to ensure that result. My Lords, Wales has been for a long time in a very peculiar position, being poor and without endowments for this purpose. Within recent years three colleges have been established at Aberystwith, Cardiff, and Bangor, and the Government have given them considerable grants of money by which they have been able to do an increasing work. But day by day it is found that the young men who come up to them are very ill-prepared for the education which the colleges have to offer. There are not the means of providing adequate education within the Principality, and this Bill has been pressed on all hands with a view of supplying that deficiency in secondary schools. This will be the first occasion upon which the Government has given for this kind of education the promise of a direct grant of money to aid the contributions of the counties. The Bill provides that the counties may have power to rate themselves up to ½d. in the £1, and provision is made that if upon inspection the schools are found to be adequate for their purpose, and to be carrying on work which is advantageous to the Principality, a grant may be made, in no case exceeding the sum found by the counties. But, my Lords, the mode in which we have dealt with the question in this instance need not be made a precedent elsewhere, for the circum-stances existing in Wales, as I have pointed out, are very peculiar. Hardly any of the counties in Wales have endowments of any value, for those which exist are very small ones, so that in comparison with England they are very deficient in those means of education which we supplied to so large a degree 429 in the English, counties. In the endowed schools of Wales there is room for 2,846 scholars, but the attendance is only 1,546; nor is the education, though in some instances extremely good, such as to be practically suitable for the class of boys who generally need intermediate schools. Your Lordships observe that this is a Bill for providing intermediate or technical education. It embraces the two, and by the definition which is given in the Interpretation Clause you will see that it is intended this should be rather a kind of scientific and commercial education than the usual classical education given in such schools. It includes branches of science, such as those for which grants are made by the Department of Science and Art, the use of tools, modelling in clay, shorthand, and subjects which may be of use to the youths in trade or commerce, but it will not include the teaching or practice of any trade, industry, or employment. So that your Lordships will see the design of this measure is that throughout Wales schools may be provided at which boys will receive the kind of education which will best fit them for commerce or for the trades in which they may afterwards be engaged. Under the Bill which was previously introduced, provision was made that there should be a Board of Education for the whole of Wales, which was to supersede the Charity Commissioners. We did not think that was either workable or a good system in itself, for there would not exist the impartiality which is found in the Charity Commissioners. Besides, there seemed to be no reason why the Charity Commissioners should be excluded from the work which it has been doing extremely well, and which it is perfectly competent to do. We propose, in this Bill, that there shall be a Joint Education Committee of five in each county, three of the members being appointed by the County Council and two fey the Government, and that the Charity Commissioners shall send an assistant Commissioner to sit with them but not vote. In that way the initiation of the scheme will begin with those who have a thorough knowledge of Wales, and, at the same time, the Government will be in a position to take part in the deliberations, and to give effect to its wishes. Tour Lordships will observe that in the 430 later part of the Bill the matter is to be taken up in the ordinary way by the Charity Commissioners, and that though powers are given to this Joint Committee to commence, there is no power given them to carry into effect projects, but that the Charity Commissioners are to exercise their functions as in ordinary cases. It seems to me to be very much in accordance with what was designed by the Committee appointed by the noble Earl opposite. The Report says that it may be hoped, when the wishes of the Welsh people come to be properly understood, those with whom the settlement of the question rests will make the necessary changes, and that they will act wisely in changing the character of the education, as time and alteration of circumstances may prove it to be unsuitable and unnecessary for any useful purpose. There will be an opportunity of changing the kind of education on the part of the Charity Commissioners, and they will be empowered to form schemes, even where, though there are no endowments, there are payments made out of the rates on the part of the ratepayers and on the part of the Government out of the public funds. The Joint Committee might find a difficulty in entirely formulating schemes, and therefore they have power to put forward proposals for schemes which the Charity Commissioners, with their staff and means of carrying them into effect, will undoubtedly be able to do more effectually and efficiently than a Body which may be, perhaps, even more intimately acquainted with the wants of Wales, and which may therefore very well be empowered to bring forward proposals. In this way the feeling of the body of ratepayers in Wales, who have been to a certain extent irritated at finding themselves contributing largely out of the rates to elementary education, without having educational resources for themselves, has been consulted. My Lords, I do not propose now to go into the details of the Bill. It will work with the Endowed Schools Acts, and will be made part of them, and they must therefore be read together. First of all will come the initiation of some scheme by the Joint Committee, the composition and constitution of which I have described. Those schemes will then fee carried to the Charity Commissioners, and they 431 will then come before the Education Department in the way in which all Charity schemes are dealt with. If there be any legal questions to settle, they will have to be disposed of by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and therefore there is every opportunity provided for anybody who objects to anything under this system to object. Finally, if still opposed, the projects will be laid on the Tables of both Houses of Parliament, and there will be ample opportunity afforded, therefore, for discussing them. I think, therefore, your Lordships will agree that we have taken care that no rash schemes shall be either initiated or completed by any one of the parties who are entrusted with this work. I do not think I should be doing any good by going into the details of the Bill, which will be more properly reserved for the Committee stage; but I think I have explained to your Lordships sufficiently that this is a Bill which meets a want which has been put forward and advocated strongly ever since 1881. It is a Bill which, I confess, to my surprise, I have found accepted by all parties in Wales. Those who objected to the Bills hitherto, on the ground that they interfered too much with the old system in operation, are ready to take advantage of this Bill; and though they who were alarmed at the measure read a second time in the House of Commons are quite ready now to give their adhesion to the Bill before your Lorships. My Lords, I believe there is now an opportunity, such as there has never been before, of securing by this Bill a general system of secondary education in Wales; and, therefore, I commend it to your Lordships, and request for it a Second Reading.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(Viscount Cranbrook.)
§ * LORD NORTON
My Lords, I must beg the House to consider this Bill for a moment in a different aspect from that in which it has been presented by the noble Lord the President of the Council. The details he has referred to are no doubt very good, and the amendments which the Government have introduced into the Bill render it a much safer measure for effecting its object. But what I want to call your Lordships' attention to is the grave principle involved in the Bill, which was hardly 432 alluded to by the noble Lord, and which was not in the slightest degree alluded to in the other House or in any of the Debates on this measure—I mean the principle of subsidising from general taxation the intermediate and technical education of the country. That is a principle which is not recognised—distinctly disavowed—in England. The educational Treasury grants given in England to national schools are restricted to elementary education. I am well aware that attempts are being made to stretch the term "elementary" very considerably, and from time to time it has been stretched by what I cannot help considering the very dangerous by-legislation which is now permitted by Departments of State, and over which Parliament has very little control. In fact, Parliament hardly hears of what is done in the Council Office until it is too late to be modified or rectified. But, although the Education Department, by its Code, seems to have stretched elementary education over a great deal that is very much higher than elementary, it professes, or the Acts of Parliament profess, to restrict the charge upon general taxation in respect of education to what is elementary, and so far the poorer taxpayers of this country are assured that they will not be called upon to pay the expense of the education of the richer classes. It is this assurance which has led to a much better kind of provision for intermediate education and for technical instruction in this country; that is to say, the provision which is made by private interest, by great manufacturers, by guilds, by endowments, and from private sources of every possible kind. That suits better not only the spirit of this country, but the interests of intermediate, and still more of technical education. It is better that education of that kind should be provided by those who are interested in it, and who are far more competent to supply it appropriately than the State could possibly be under any circumstances whatever. This Bill represents a demand on the part of Wales for exceptional treatment in this respect. Upon what ground is Wales to make a demand for exceptional treatment in this matter? Wales distinctly claims it in formâ pauperis, upon what has been called in the other House "the generosity of 433 England." They say that they have fewer endowments in Wales than in England. The land of Wales, the minerals of Wales, the enterprise of Wales, are quite sufficient for all public purposes required by that country. Why have they not provided by endowments for this purpose in Wales as in England? Endowments are the secured contributions of past volunteers. As to poverty, unless they mean poverty of spirit, there is no ground whatever for making such a claim. The fact is, as one can only gather incidentally from the Debates, the feeling is not so much that the endowments for education are small, as that the endowments for that purpose in Wales have been chiefly made by Churchmen. It is an anti-Church feeling, which is gradually diminishing in Wales; it is kept up only by agitation, and by the plan of shareholding in Dissenting chapels there. That is clearly the ground on which this demand is made. What can be a better proof of it than the clause in this Bill, which provides that the schools which are to be supported by public taxation are not to have any distinctive religious instruction whatever, and that any prayers, in the schools from day to day, shall be so arranged that the scholars can conveniently withdraw from them? That, my Lords, lets out the spirit of the Bill. The question is, whether even that spirit might not be more easily met than by admitting the principle of the charge on public funds. The terms of endowments might be widened. I observe that Mr. Gladstone, almost the only Englishman who took part in these Debates (and he is partly a Welshman) took the eleemosynary line too. He said that Wales had been neglected by England. Poor Wales neglected by its Patron! I thought that Wales was part of England, and had the same spirit as the rest of the country; but he thought that England should show more sympathy for Wales. Mr. Gladstone has not always thought so, for he himself, a few years ago, proposed the disendowment of Aberyst with College. And that, my Lords, leads me to the second argument which has been used in defence of this Bill—namely, that the principle of public support for higher education has been admitted by the public grants to 434 Colleges which have been made in Wales, in Scotland, and of course in Ireland. I maintain that public grants to national colleges are no precedent for public taxation for intermediate schools. These schools are local, and have no similar claim upon the national funds. Technical instruction also is special with regard to various kinds of trades, and public grants to national colleges are no precedent for providing out of public taxation instruction in particular trades, which the State cannot undertake generally and everywhere. But the danger is this: if we extend this system of grants to intermediate schools, and to giving technical instruction, what will become of the existing schools? Poor as Wales is, there are a good many middle-class schools all over Wales, and very good ones. What is to become of those schools if the State is to set up schools in competition with them? We know something of the competition of State-aided schools against the higher-class schools in England; its effect has been to starve a great many of them, because they have been unable to compete with the Treasury in affording the same kind of education which can be given in State-aided schools more cheaply. What is to become of those schools if this Bill passes? What is to become of the private munificence, which is now being shown much more readily from year to year for the purposes of intermediate and technical instruction, when this Bill passes for supplying it to Wales partly at the expense of the Treasury? Is it to be stopped? My Lords, it certainly will be stopped. I observed that in the Debate in Committee alarm on this point has been already taken by some. They said—We are afraid if this Bill passes that some of the efforts which are now being made by private munificence will cease, such as the grant recently made by one of the London Companies.I think it was the Haberdashers' Company, which was alluded to. That is surely a dangerous thing. The best education from private sources would be stopped. We know already in England how State undertaking has checked the work of such men as Armstrong, Mather, Whitworth, and others who are doing the work infinitely be or for the technical 435 instruction required in various lines of art than anything the State can do. We Englishmen might, perhaps, consent to let this had principle he introduced into Wales if it were to he confined to that part of the country; but we know perfectly well that the principle once adopted will spread, and that we shall have it introduced into England. In passing this Measure we shall be introducing the very thing we are trying to avoid. In the other House the first day of Committee was entirely consumed in urging that Monmouth-shire should be included, and upon upon the second day of the Committee the Government gave way on that point, and consented that Monmouth-shire should be included. Depend upon it, my Lords, Monmouth-shire is the thin end of the wedge in introducing this principle from Wales into England. I do not think it possible, even if I wished it, to arrest the progress of this Bill. For various reasons it has been at last assented to after eight years of discussion in Parliament, from the date of the Report of Lord Aberdare's Committee, alluded to by the noble Lord the President of the Council, which by the-bye expressly stated in its Report that these intermediary schools should precede the colleges. The colleges have made more rapid progress in Wales. They found there a most favourable soil for the growth of demands upon the Treasury of England. Mid-Wales having obtained the grant, the people of North Wales said they must have one too, and immediately South Wales said the same; and now there are three grants of £4,000 a year each for those three colleges, which Lord Aberdare's Committee said should certainly not precede the schools required to give the requisite preparatory education Upon that there has been framed a Measure which seems to me to be a somewhat lax mode of acting upon the principles of that Report. I should have thought that the right kind of Bill would have been one which would, in the first place have relaxed and widened the too narrow endowments in Wales; and, secondly, have encouraged more endowments being made as in England for these purposes. Wales, moreover, comes upon England to assist her as if England had a surplus age of endowments; but the endowments of 436 England for educational purposes are not equal to her own requirements at this moment. We look to those endowments as our chief private aid to supply the middle class education required. All the endowments in England for this purpose do not exceed £200,000 a year, a sum perfectly unequal to the requirements of the middle-class in England for intermediate education. We have to do for ourselves England, as distinguished from Wales, a great deal more than they are called upon to do. Depend upon it, the only thing to prevent mischief being done will be their doing what is wanted as it is effected in England, that is, by local self-support. I do not propose to arrest the progress of this Bill; but I desire that hereafter nobody shall be able to say the Measure was passed without a protest against Government support for intermediate and technical education, and without a most hearty outcry against the extension of that principle now to be introduced into Wales to the disadvantage of English education.
§ EARL SPENCER
My Lords, I shall presently say a word or two upon the arguments which have been put forward by my noble Friend who has just sat down; but before I come to those arguments I have, on the part of my noble Friend Lord Aberdare, who I am sorry should be absent from this Debate, to express the great regret he feels at his inability to be in his place to-night. My noble Friend has all through his life been a true friend of education, and has devoted great attention to this subject in Wales. He has especially done signal service there by the part he has taken with regard to intermediate education. I therefore deeply regret my noble Friend's absence, and the cause which prevents him from being in his place. I rejoice that this important subject has received so much attention during the present Session of Parliament, and that a Measure of intermediate education for Wales has safely passed through the difficulties which have hitherto overwhelmed it in another place. I sincerely trust, differing from my noble Friend who has just sat down, that the Bill will pass safely through your Lordships' House, and will become law. Now, my Lords, the Report of the Committee appointed in 1880 has been referred to, and I should like to say something upon it, as I was responsible 437 for the appointment of that Committee. Since then a great deal has been done to promote higher education in Wales by University extension and attempts at assisting intermediate education. The noble Lord said the recommendation of Lord Aberdare's Committee was that intermediate education should have been extended before higher education was extended in that country. I am not sure, as I have not been able to refer to the passage in the Report, whether he was altogether correct in his statement; but they did lay stress on the necessity of an improved system of intermediate education in Wales, with the view of preparing young men for the higher education which has also been demanded in that country. The Government of which I was a member is responsible for making the aid given to University education in Wales precede any measure with regard to intermediate education. We did it for this reason, that we saw there would be very great advantages in carrying any measure for intermediate education through Parliament; and, on the other hand, we were able of our own motion to give grants to increase and improve University education in that country. My Lords, I think the course we took has been amply justified by the event. There certainly have been very considerable difficulties in dealing with this subject, and eight years have gone by without any measure having been carried with regard to intermediate education. First, as to the result of our action in recommending that grants should be made to several University colleges in Wales. They now amount, I think, to £12,000 a year, £4,000 a year being given to South Wales for a University college at Cardiff, £4,000 to North Wales for a University college at Bangor, and to Mid-Wales the grant to the University college at Aberystwith was at first £2,500, but it has now been increased to £4,000 for that college also. The result has been extremely satisfactory. When the Report of the Committee was made there were only in public University colleges in Wales 57 students. The average number of students at Aberystwith has been for the last three years 149; the average at Cardiff has been 146; and the average at the University college of Bangor 175. That, my Lords, is an eminently satisfactory result, and 438 I maintain it justifies the action which the Government of that day took in giving those grants towards University education in Wales before they dealt with intermediate education. There certainly is great need for the increase of intermediate education in Wales. The noble Lord the Lord President of the Council put forward one matter as an argument in favour of it, but I will add another which can be found in this very Report of Lord Aberdare's Committee. It is there stated that it has been calculated that to give proper intermediate education to the people in England there ought to be accommodation at, I think, the rate of 16 per 1,000 of the population. If that rate were applied to Wales, there ought to be accommodation for 15,700 pupils. But the accommodation in public intermediary schools in Wales really only amounts to something over 2,000, and the noble Lord the Lord President of the Council mentioned that, owing to various circumstances, the unsuitability of the education provided, and possibly the constitution of the Governing Body, not nearly that number are found in the places of intermediate education in Wales. I say, therefore, that that argument is a very strong one as to the necessity of supporting intermediate education in Wales. Now, I will come to another point which my noble Friend also referred to—namely, the fact that for the first time a proposal is made to give direct grants to intermediary schools. He objected to that, but I confess I do not agree with him, and certainly not with regard to Wales, where, I believe, it was absolutely essential that some assistance of this sort should be given. It may be said that up to the present time assistance has been given to intermediate education through the instrumentality of South Kensington, and the large payments which are made for science and art subjects through that portion of the Education Department. But those grants are entirely given for particular subjects. They indirectly help a school, but they do not directly help it, and they certainly would not start an intermediate school in a locality where an intermediate school is wanted. Now, the reasons why in Wales there is such a need for this Government grant are very plain. Wales, it may be said, is 439 an exceedingly poor country in comparison with England. There are, no doubt, some districts where the minerals are very rich, but the large proportion of Wales is exceedingly poor when compared with England. Then the Welsh people are exceedingly anxious for education, but the public endowments for intermediate education and for all charitable purposes fall far below the endowments in England. I believe it has been computed—and I get this from the same source—that in England the average endowments for all charitable purposes, per county, amount to something like £55,575 per annum, whereas similar endowments in Wales, per county, amount to only £1,921. If we take the endowments in particular counties, of course they vary extremely. Some counties have much larger endowments than others, but whereas the most poorly-endowed county in England, Cornwall, has an endowment of over £4,000 a year, the large County of Glamorgan, with a population of something over half a million, as endowments only to the amount of £1,921. I hear that my noble Friend cheers that statement, and therefore I hope he will agree with me that the necessity for some additional endowment for intermediate education in Wales is conclusively shown by the figures which I have declared. My noble Friend said it was better to leave the endowment of intermediate education to the private munificence of individuals, but how is it that in Wales this private munificence has not created the endowments necessary for intermediate education? I think if there had been a large desire to do there what has been done in many parts of England—namely, to endow intermediate education, we should have seen much larger endowments in that country than now exist there. I therefore do not at all agree with my noble Friend that we ought to stay our hands and refuse to assist this poorer country in regard to intermediate education; for, from all I have seen and heard on the subject, I believe that if something is not done in the manner proposed to be adopted by this Bill, intermediate education will not thrive in Wales. My Lords, I do not wish to dwell at too great length on this subject, nor shall I go into the details of the Bill; but I should like to refer to one matter besides that 440 to which my noble Friend has referred. I should like to mention one important clause in the Bill which deals with the initiation of schemes. That, to a certain extent, is a new method of dealing with charitable and educational endowments. Hitherto, it has been necessary either for the Governors of an institution to propose a scheme, or for the Charity Commissioners themselves in certain cases to do it. It was found that this, especially in Wales, prevented any new schemes being brought forward at all, and therefore it has been proposed in various ways to create some body, directed by popular opinion in the country, to start new schemes where new schemes are necessary. I think originally we proposed a different scheme to this. A different method for giving initiation to schemes was proposed by the Government of which I was a Member in the year 1885; but since that time a great change with regard to all Local Government has taken place owing to the great measure which was passed by Her Majesty's Government last year—namely, the measure which constituted County Councils throughout England. That gives at once a popular body which can deal with matters of this sort, and though I confess I should have preferred to have seen the initiation of schemes given also to these Councils, I think the compromise which has been arrived at between the Government and those who promoted this Bill is a wise one. Now that the County Councils are started, there is a body created which would be able to initiate any schemes, and also to reform some of the old endowments which have not the confidence of the country. Those two points—namely, that of granting direct assistance to the intermediate schools in Wales, and that of giving a new body, partly elected from the County Councils, power to initiate schemes, seem to me very important points to be dealt with, and I heartily rejoice to see them form part of this measure. My Lords, I shall not detain the House any longer, but I sincerely trust that the hopes which have been entertained in Wales with regard to the possibility of enjoying an enlarged system of intermediate education by a measure of this sort will not be disappointed, but that this measure will bear excellent fruit, and will give the people of Wales who 441 so much desire it an easy and efficient means of intermediate education for their children.
§ * EARL FORTESCUE
My Lords, I ask your kind indulgence while I offer a few remarks on this Bill, and I the more require your indulgence because I take the same view which my noble Friend did who answered the Lord President of the Council. I am afraid those views are not shared by very many of your Lordships. My noble Friend truly remarked that now for the first time Parliament is preparing formally to authorise the establishment and maintenance of schools for secondary or intermediate education by means of rates supplemented by grants from the Treasury, which are in no case to be more than equal to what is raised by the rates. As I expected, the principle of aid to education, above mere elementary education, by the State has, it has been urged, been recognised by the grants which have been made latterly to Welsh Universities. The noble Earl who has just spoken gave what he considered conclusive evidence of the value of those grants and of their good effect. I must say it seems to me a very different thing giving a grant to a University which the Welsh would certainly call national—at any rate it cannot be considered as less than provincial—in comparison with the establishment of a number of local intermediate schools supported by local rates. This is the first instance of the extension upwards (with the exception of those grants to the Universities) to the middle class of that system of public educational alms which was initiated as regards contributions by rates from one kind of property only, real property, less than 20 years ago, and which have been supplemented out of general taxation, the original grant, a very small one, £30,000, having been given just half a century ago. The injustice of levying so large a contribution or tax upon one kind of property alone (because ratepayers are none the less taxpayers) does not strike me as nearly so objectionable as the evil of impairing the independence of the middle class, and accustoming them to look to public grants and public aid from the rates as the wage classes have, as I have already pointed out, been accustomed to rely upon them of late 442 years. And, secondly, there is the evil of discouraging—in fact, more than discouraging—of extinguishing, practically, all chance of voluntary gifts or bequests being made for educational endowment. Who does not lament that there has not been in Wales in past times more public spirit and educational zeal shown? Take the rich County of Glamorgan, with its wealth of minerals, and we shall see that Wales has no reason to be proud of that absence of educational endowments which we have just heard described. No one, after these contributions from rates and taxes have been established by Act of Parliament, would, as I say, be at all likely to give or bequeath anything for the purpose of educational endowment; and perhaps all the less, because confidence in the devotion of endowments to the purposes which were dear to those who have founded endowments has been very much shaken by some of the legislation which has taken place latterly. But besides those two evils, there seems to me to be a third, and a very serious one, that of subjecting the higher education of the country, at least the higher secondary education, as distinguished from the elementary, to bureaucratic control. For the first time we find the Education Department brought into official connection with secondary education. The tendency, I fear, will be to increase the applications for grants, and assistance from rates, and with these increased applications, if they are yielded to, will come a very natural, and I cannot say otherwise than a legitimate demand for control and interference on the part of the Government. I know that one ex-Minister of Education, Mr. Mundella, has avowed again and again his earnest desire to see the Education Department entrusted with considerable control over the secondary education of the country. Well, if the Education Department is armed with such greatly increased powers as he and some others desire for it, instead of looking to our great ancient Universities, we shall find those engaged in the secondary and higher education of the country looking to it for guidance and leading. It is quite true that the Universities for a long time were too stagnant and too obstructive; but now for some time they have been awakened to their responsibilities and duties; and now, though 443 happily independent of State control, they are very much under the influence and guidance of the tide of enlightened public opinion, though fortunately uninfluenced by the mere passing waves of popular blame or applause. It would be in my view a very great misfortune if a Political Department were to supersede the great ancient Universities as our chief guides and leaders in the higher education of the country. But this may be considered, I think, as a step in that direction; my fears may not be all realised, but I would venture to predict that after a great show of advance in the first instance we should find stagnation and routine. I will give your Lordships an illustration. I do not know whether I have used it in your Lordships' House before, but I know I have used it elsewhere, of Brunei's famous block-machinery, which was much in advance of what was known up to that time, and of its continuing to be used and proudly shown by dockyard officials long after it had been superseded and replaced in all solvent establishments by newer and better, and more efficient machinery. I think, my Lords, the same thing would apply to education. And though, as regards really elementary—not what is called "advanced elementary education"—which that high authority, Bishop Temple, says ought to be called "non-elementary education"—such very great changes or advances in the methods of teaching are not likely to be required; anything more fatal to national progress and the development of the national intellect than stagnation or routine in the higher education of the country I can hardly conceive. That, I think, is too likely to be the consequence of the higher education of the country being entrusted to a Political Department. Then, my Lords, there is the further fear of jobbery; because though in the first instance the right man is anxiously sought to fill a new and important post, after a while it is not the man that is sought for the place, but the place that is sought for the man; and political results are often what are mainly looked to even now as they have been in a certain number of instances within my own lifetime. Under democratic Governments, and our own is one which tends to become more and more democratic, we do not find any diminu- 444 tion of jobbery and corruption. In the United States jobbery in political bodies and in administration is a by-word among the educated classes there. In France and Germany the people are weighed down by the heavy weight of taxation, a taxation not merely levied for the support of their gigantic armaments, but also to provide for needless placemen and jobbers in public works. It is this fine end of the wedge as my noble Friend has called it, this introduction of Government aid, and of State and rate aid, in dealing with secondary education that I confess alarms me. I do not mean at all that Her Majesty's Government or its opponents, except perhaps a few of them, are contemplating any such development of the principle involved in this Bill as I have described. I believe the history of it is very much more simple. We now find Wales putting forward a plea of poverty, The Welsh found the Irish putting forward claims on the ground of poverty, and getting, by a certain amount of lawlessness and by much clamour, a great part of their demands. Accordingly Wales sought also to get something from the Public Treasury. The Government, besides this object of advancing Welsh secondary education, has undertaken the task of conciliating Welsh feeling in emulation of their opponents who, it is notorious, attributed to the opposition of the Tory Party, a good deal of the delay of this measure, which, whatever it did for education, it was likely to cause a considerable amount of public money to be spent in Wales. But what we have had urged on behalf of this Bill, founded on grants to the Welsh Universities, shows how very readily precedents of this sort are followed. As my noble Friend said, it is in vain for us to resist this measure, supported, as it is, by Her Majesty's Government and by their predecessors, who had previously themselves brought in a measure very much of the same kind. All we can do is earnestly to protest against it, and to entreat the Government to reflect on the very serious consequences of the further development of the principles involved in this Bill.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
My Lords, as I believe no noble Lord intends to move the rejection of this Bill, or to give it really any serious opposition, and as I believe that all the noble Lords who 445 have spoken agree that the Welsh people are much interested in the results which will flow from this measure, I think it is a great pity that such a Bill as this should pass, or should appear to pass, in this House in any grudging spirit. I think, as long as we are a United Kingdom, there can be no harm in the Government doing as my noble Friend has accused them of doing, for it was almost an accusation—that is to say, conciliating Welsh feeling in this matter. And there is no doubt, as the Lord President of the Council has said, that the circumstances of Wales in this matter are peculiar. My Lords, I have every sympathy with the opinion expressed by the noble Lord who began this discussion, that we are very apt to adopt new principles in incidental Bills, which may afterwards have a wider application. But I am afraid that is the whole history of English legislation. The English people do not go in for grand principles all at once—they go step by step. That has been the whole history of our Constitution. Still, when I look at this Bill which it is said embodies a principle now for the first time introduced, I am not struck with the great dangers which are involved by it, as my noble Friend has urged, or with the mischievous tendencies as he has pointed out of the new principle embodied in this Bill. He says it is a new thing, absolutely new, for the State to give public money for intermediate education. My first question is what is meant by intermediate education? Is it possible to draw any clear line of distinction between the elementary education below, and the superior education above? Where does elementary education end? The Government has given State money both for the lower education, and for the higher education. But our whole system is one in which primary education is mixed with intermediate education. I may recall that under the old parochial system of Scotland it was quite common for boys to go high up in Latin, Greek, or mathematics for a very small addition to their fees. Those primary schools in Scotland were endowed by the State, and the Universities were also endowed by the State. By a Bill which is now in your Lordships' House a further sum of £41,000 a year is to be given to higher educa- 446 tion in Scotland in its Universities. Now, my Lords, I ask what is the abstract basis of a principle which attempts to draw the line between primary education on the one hand, and superior education on the other, and distinguishing intermediate education for the middle classes. If your Lordships look at this Bill you will see that practically no line is drawn except to exclude schools which teach nothing but the three R's. It provides that—The expression intermediate education means a course of education which does not consist chiefly of elementary instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic, but which includes instruction in Latin, Greek, the Welsh and English language, and literature, modern languages, mathematics natural, and applied science, or in some of such studies, and generally in the higher branches of knowledge, but nothing in this Act shall preven the establishment of scholarships in higher or other elementary schools.No line is attempted to be drawn there, and I hold it is impossible to draw a line between these different kinds of education. My Lords, this Bill is needed for Wales; it is adapted to Welsh circumstances, whether they have or not the original endowments which we possess, and I see no reason not only why we should decline to assent to this Bill, but why we should not assent to it heartily and willingly.
§ LORD KENSINGTON
My Lords, I should be very loth that this Bill should be read a second time without taking the opportunity to say I deeply regret that the noble Lord who spoke from behind the Government Benches should have thought it his duty to make the strong attack which he did upon the Nonconformists of Wales. I think it is a very great pity for any sectarian quarrels in any shape or form to be introduced in discussing a measure of this kind, which has been demanded for years in Wales by Nonconformists and Churchmen alike. I will not follow the noble Lord into that matter in any shape or way. I merely wish to say that I think he was mistaken in the view he propounded to your Lordships that grants from the State in aid of these intermediate schools would have the effect of stopping private enterprise in such undertakings. Has the past shown that such is the case? As soon as the Government gave grants to the Colleges of Bangor, Cardiff, and 447 Aberystwith, large sums of money flowed into those colleges either as donations, subscriptions, or endowments. I confidently believe that when this measure becomes law the same thing will take place as regards intermediate schools of the future. I hope the Government will not think it presumptuous on my part if I venture to tender to them my best thanks for the interest they are taking in the question and the support they are giving to this measure. I believe it will prove the greatest blessing to the country. I hope the noble Duke also will allow me, as a Welshman, to tender him my best thanks for the speech he has made, if I may venture to do so. I should say that I myself would have preferred that the whole of the members of Committees should have been appointed by the County Councils; but, still speaking for myself alone, I most willingly, frankly, and freely accept the compromise. I go still further, and I say that I believe it will work well, and that I am sure Wales will be greatly benefited when this measure becomes law.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.