HL Deb 08 July 1897 vol 50 cc1337-40

The following Questions stood upon the Notice Paper:—


To ask the Lord President of the Council the following Questions with reference to the format of Associations of Voluntary Schools:

Whether the Education Department will take steps to prevent the supporters and managers of Voluntary Schools in Berkshire from being deprived of their right to have effect given to their choice of the county as the area of association:

Whether his attention has been called to the fact that, prior to the meeting of the Oxford Diocesan Conference in May last, the rural deans issued circulars to the correspondents of the school managers throughout the county of Berks asking them to ascertain if their co-managers were willing to join an association of schools for the county; and (if willing to join such an association) to elect two representatives to be thereafter summoned to a meeting by the rural deans for the purpose of electing two delegates for each rural deanery, such delegates to form the governing body of the county association. That, the consent of the managers having been so obtained to a county association, the Oxford Diocesan Conference met and passed a resolution that the area should be the diocese and not the county. That, thereupon, the representatives whom the managers elected for the purpose of carrying out the scheme of a county association were induced in many cases to proceed with the election of delegates for a diocesan scheme without any fresh application to the managers for authority to consent to such an important change:

And whether returns are being made to the Education Department that the managers have selected the diocese as the area of association notwithstanding the above facts, and in disregard of the resolution to the contrary passed at a meeting of school managers for the county held at Reading on the 12th instant; and of the important Petition to the Department signed by the Lord Lieutenant, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the County Council, all the County and Borough Members in Berks, and a large number of the Magistrates and Members of the County Council?


To ask the Lord President of the Council:

Whether any Voluntary Schools Associations have yet been sanctioned by the Education Department under the Voluntary Schools Act 1897?

Whether it is intended to extend the period for the formation of such associations under the Act in consequence of the delay and difficulties which have arisen by the attempt to force a purely diocesan association on the Church of England Schools in the county of Lincoln and other counties:

Whether his attention has been called to the fact that the Lincolnshire Diocesan Board of Education had formulated a scheme for a county undenominational Association which had received the general approval of the lay and clerical managers of schools in the rural parishes throughout the county:

Whether the following statements circulated through the rural deans are accurate, namely, that a diocesan Association had been formed in Lincolnshire under Section (1), (3), of the Voluntary Schools Act, 1897, before the 2nd of June; that if a school is not associated speedily it will be too late for this year's grant as an associated school; and that a. school not associated is acting in opposition to the wish of the Education Department, whilst a school which associates this year with a diocesan association can withdraw next year and be in no worse position:

And, further, what steps the Government propose to take for the assistance and protection of undenominational schools, as well as British and other mixed schools which are only technically Church of England schools, in those counties where diocesan associations may be formed, especially in Lincolnshire?


said he had received a letter from the most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of Canterbury, and from two or three other members of the Episcopal Bench who wished to address their Lordships on the subject of these Questions, stating that they had been summoned by Her Majesty to Windsor, and were therefore unable to attend in their places that day. Under these circumstances they asked him to request the noble Lords to postpone their Questions until they were able to attend.


said he at once acceded to the request made by the Lord Chancellor, and would postpone his Questions until Monday.


also signified his acquiescence in this course.


asked the President of the Council whether the question of the larger area for associated Voluntary schools was to be decided by the votes of a majority of schools in a county, or by those of a majority in the diocese of which such county formed a part? He said this was a. very simple matter, which could very easily be decided for them by the Lord President. The diocese of Salisbury consisted of the whole county of Dorset and a large portion of the county of Wilts. The portion of the county of Wilts had declared their preference for the diocesan area, but the county of Dorset was divided as nearly as possible evenly on the question. He had taken a. great deal of trouble to ascertain the wishes of school managers, and he had answers from 115 schools in support of the county area, and from 112 schools in support of the diocesan area. He understood the right rev, Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury wished to count against the wishes of Dorset the wishes of the Wiltshire schools, who were, he understood, all in favour of the diocesan area. The purport of his question was whether the Lord President would allow the wishes of the Wiltshire schools to swamp the very marked wishes of the Dorset schools?


In reply to my noble Friend, I have to say that provisional approval has already been given to a diocesan association for the diocese of Salisbury. That, however, will not preclude the formation of a county association for the county of Dorset, if a sufficient number of managers of school in the county should appear to be in favour of such an association. I understand that it is the wish of the Bisho1 of Salisbury himself that if my noble Friend is able to obtain sufficient support to the county scheme which he proposes, that scheme should be approved, as it is far from his wish that any school should be forced into an association to which it objects to belong.