HL Deb 24 April 1891 vol 352 cc1313-6

Amendments reported (according to order).


My Lords, before accepting the Report I merely wish to ask the noble Lord who has charge of this Bill whether he will on the Third Reading introduce a clause to define its object In a Bill dealing with limited and trust property the object should at least be defined. In this Bill, for conveyance of sites for intermediate schools or other schools sanctioned by Act of Parliament, there is no definition of what such schools are meant to be, nor of the body to whom the sites are to be conveyed. In the Welsh Intermediate Schools Act there are definitions of both, but only as respects that particular Act. Elementary Schools are distinctly defined in the Act of 1870, and I can perfectly well remember in the Office that the definition was often found most useful in withstanding constant attempts to set up private and profitable establishments under the name. There are now unlimited schemes for private advantage under the name of public education, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced only yesterday that, besides his late appropriation of Votes for other purposes to technical education, he is about to propose, under the name of free education, that everybody should be taxed for the education of those who want any kind of education at all publicly provided for them. I maintain that it is a most dangerous mode of dealing with this subject to have no definitions making it clear what the objects of the Bill are. This Bill must have some definition of what it means by intermediate schools, or any schools sanctioned by the Act. It might for the first phrase adopt the Welsh definition; for the last, Heaven knows what it means. I would, therefore, ask the noble Lord who has charge of the Bill whether he will promise, on the Third Reading, that he will introduce a clause defining the object of his Bill?


The noble Lord wishes to have a definition of intermediate schools. In the private notice he has given me he says the Act of 1889 contains no definition of an intermediate school, but I would point out to him that the whole Act of 1889 is definition. Among the definitions there are five or six lines of what intermediate education is intended to be for the purpose of the Intermediate Schools Act. The noble Lord says there is no definition in the words " any sanctioned by Act of Parliament and in receipt of aid or monies provided by Act of Parliament," those words were given by the Education Office, and originally stood, "as provided from the Consolidated Fund," but the Chairman of the Standing Committee altered that to "monies provided by Act of Parliament." In deference to, the wishes of the noble Lord, I have prepared an additional clause with that definition, but the noble Lord the Chairman of the Standing Committee says it is unnecessary; and, therefore, I do not propose to move it. If the noble Lord thinks it necessary, he can move it on the Third Reading. The Bill has been considerably altered in Standing Committee, and I wish to take this opportunity of thanking Lord Kensington for the support he gave to the Bill which concerns Wales especially. The noble Lord the Chairman of the Standing Committees has made an improvement in a part of this Bill, which is nothing but a verbatim transcript from the Public Worship and Burial Sites Act, by amending it so that if part of the land is not used that part, but only that part, should revert to the use of the owner. I regret that other Amendments have been made which I think take away a large part of the usefulness of the Bill. In the case of a minor land cannot be given, it must be sold. This alteration is principally due to the wishes of my noble Friend who now represents Mr. Gladstone in this House. But I must say that on this occasion he has not represented Mr. Gladstone properly, because Mr. Gladstone has on all occasions shown a wish to please the Welsh people, and to obtain these schools is an object which they have very much at heart. I have examined into the matter, and have found that there are not many cases of minors in Wales to which this will apply; but there is one place asking for an intermediate school where I believe all the land belongs to one owner, and the provisions of this Bill will prevent him giving the land, or will furnish him with an excuse for not granting it. What I have seen in the 'Standing Committee has I must confess increased my objections to them very much; but I will reserve my remarks in that respect until some occasion when the noble Marquess the Prime Minister is in the House, or until some other noble Lord raises the question.


My Lords, I only desire to say that I was not the only person who made an objection to this clause of the Bill. I believe the first person who made an objection to it was Lord Herschel], who is not here. Though I quite sympathise with the desire of the Welsh people to obtain these sites for their schools, I do not think it is necessary, in order that their legitimate desires in that direction should be satisfied, that the property of minors should be taken away without proper payment being made for it. It seems to me unreasonable that the property of minors who cannot themselves consent to a gift should be taken away from them by other persons. They can sell the property, and that seems quite sufficient for the purpose of the Bill. As regards the Standing Committees, I think my noble Friend will find there are some noble Lords at all events in this House, at all events who think the Standing Committees are very useful; and I cannot help thinking that the experience we have had this evening in Committee on the Marriage Bill must have caused a great many people to wish that the Bill had gone to a Standing Committee instead of coming before a Committee of the whole House.

Bill to be read 3a on Monday next.