HL Deb 24 April 1899 vol 70 cc321-58

Motion made, and Question proposed—

"That this Bill be read a second time."—(The Lord President of the Council.)


My Lords, I take it that the object of this Bill is to secure that the functions performed by the State in connection with education should be performed by administrators directly subordinate to one authority. The Education Department created under this Bill will take charge not of a section, but of our whole educational system. This does not, of course, mean that under this Bill our educational system is to be centralised. What I understand to be the object of the Bill is that the Department will no longer be hampered by agents, each acting independently, but that it will put these various agents on such a footing that they will submit to the head of the Department not isolated proposals for developing this or that branch of education, but proposals the result of careful consideration by all the Departments which may be concerned. At present we have no Secondary Education Department. Such a department is indeed necessary. Neither the Science and Art Department nor the Department dealing with Elementary Schools has been created with a view to dealing with secondary education. The only agency which has had to consider the question of secondary education is that of the Charity Commissioners. From an administrative point of view you require an elementary department and a secondary department working in perfect harmony. Whether the secondary department should include technical education, or whether a special department should deal with technical education, especially in its higher developments, is not of such great importance as the condition I would impose, that, if you create a technical department, it should be closely connected with the two other departments. If the Board of Education is to give proper guidance to the country, it is necessary that between the various administrative departments of the Board there should be the same correlation as exists between those of other Government offices. A permanent secretary will, I suppose, be appointed in order to secure this end. Continuity in our education is essential; we do not want uniformity. We have to establish between our elementary and secondary schools, and between the latter and the universities, by properly graded curricula, relations which will secure a minimum of waste in each category. You have to deal with three main categories of scholars—those who will receive only elementary education, those who will receive in addition secondary education, and those who will proceed to the universities. For elementary education we have the limit of age of the Free Education Act placed at 15. That limit coincides with the age at which scholars leave higher grade schools, and that Act recognises the need for free education up to that point. Any agency, therefore, whether School Board or Voluntary school, which provides free education to children under the age of 15, is clearly acting in conformity with the letter of that Act, and the Education Department does not throw any obstacles in the way of those who try to fulfil the duty imposed by the Legislature. But the Science and Art Department, lately at all events, gives a different interpretation to the Act, as far as School Boards are concerned. The result is that in a school called a higher grade school, under the Education Department, every encouragement is given to develop the teaching, to adapt it to the requirements of the scholars; the teachers are not hampered by examinations, and have the benefit of the Superannuation Act of last Session; and the education is free; whereas in the other school which comes under the South Kensington Department you are asked to charge fees, you are hampered by examinations, and the teachers have not the benefit of the superannuation grant. Now I ask: is there any reason why this distinction should be made by the two departments, and why parents of the same class should be charged fees for the education of their children in one school and not in another? The Science and Art Department was intended to promote, by its grants, scientific teaching for the class which could not pay fees. The result must inevitably be that the connection with the Science and Art Department will be severed, and that the School of Science will lose the grant from the Science and Art Department, but will continue to give the same education, with the approval of Whitehall. If you had the unity of control, which this Bill is going to establish, such anomalies could not occur. Higher grade schools are, as the Secondary Education Commissioners have stated, so distinctly offshoots of the elementary system that it may be cogently argued that that system will, without them, lose much of its efficiency and all its completeness. For purposes of administration, it will be well to leave the higher grade schools under the supervision of the Elementary Department of the Board of Education, which has hitherto dealt with them. These schools are intended to prepare boys for immediate service in the lower ranks of commerce and industry, and the instruction given in them will be different in character as well as in degree from that which is given in the ordinary secondary schools. My Lords, the organisation of secondary education which this Bill contemplates is undoubtedly a very complex problem. The Secondary Education Commissioners, in a Report which has contributed so much to the solution of this problem, I think wisely, did not draw a line of demarcation between secondary and technical education. The solid foundation of a general secondary education is essential before any attempt is made to specialise. It need not be conducted on the same lines. The future career of the scholar must be taken into account. Classics will predominate in the general education of many professions, science in that of manufacturers and agriculturists, modern languages in that of merchants, and out of modern languages, properly taught, you can draw the same discipline of mind which accrues from the study of classics. Having laid that foundation, you can develop technical education. You cannot graft secondary education on technical education, but you can graft technical education on general secondary education. Technical education for our industries has certainly had, during recent years, a great impulse given to it. It requires constant improvement, and in its highest stages of applied science the universities have to deal with a demand which will tax their resources to the utmost. It is from them that our great industries must draw the brains which will enable them to grapple successfully with foreign rivals, who are at present reaping the full benefit of the vast expenditure on technological institutes. The needs of agriculture in this respect have been recognised by some of our universities, and the scepticism with which scientific agricultural education has been viewed hitherto is gradually disappearing, because it is now recognised that science contributes to a more discriminating use of capital and a corresponding decrease in the cost of production. The best instance of that is perhaps to be found in Denmark. Unless education in rural districts keeps in touch with the requirements of agriculturists, the result must be to increase the migration of the rural population into our towns. Since the Secondary Education Commissioners have issued their Report, the subject of commercial education has become more and more a prominent topic. A widespread feeling of anxiety prevails amongst the commercial classes of the country that our merchants have not received the education which will enable them to meet the severe and ever-growing competition which they encounter in foreign markets. Consular and Board of Trade Reports have increased this uneasiness. Chambers of Commerce—the London Chamber especially—have been active in their endeavours to apply remedies. The London Technical Education Board have issued a Report which contains most valuable matter. But it will be well to bear in mind an observation of Mr. Powell in his Consular Report, that the increase in the commercial prosperity of Germany was due in the first place to the high state of its general education, and that the great development of special schools is rather a result than a cause of commercial success. I do not think that we need share the fear which has been expressed in some quarters that the Board of Education will be tempted to stereotype certain types of schools or to lay down model curricula. A Secondary Education Department, enjoying the confidence of governing bodies and of teachers, will exercise—in a different way—the same beneficial influence on the secondary education of the country as has undoubtedly been exercised on its elementary education by the existing Department. It will have to give encouragement to a great variety of schools, but it will keep in view the chief aim of secondary education: to increase the resourcefulness of the individual, to train his faculty of grappling with the realities of actual life; and for Englishmen these realities are spread over such a vast area that, more than any nation, we require versatility in our educational methods. One of the most important functions of the Education Board will undoubtedly be the control of expenditure. At present the Education Department, the Board of Agriculture, the Science and Art Department, the Charity Commissioners, the county councils, the school boards, and the parents all contribute to the expenditure on secondary and technical education. The Secondary Education Commissioners have indicated very clearly that two things seem to characterise the present situation; (1) the variety of the sources, national and local, whence money can be drawn for scientific and technical education; (2) the multitude of bodies through which and by which it can be spent. They are of opinion that the most advantageous and economical line of policy is for the central authority to spend in an increasing degree through the local; but, in order to regulate and harmonise its aim and policies, the central must be a united authority. For only as it is this can coördination be promoted in the provincial or educational districts. Unless, therefore, a central authority exercises supervision, it is quite clear that the administration by various authorities of sources of income which are not equally distributed must lead to waste in some localities, and to insufficient school accommodation in other districts, without endowments or spending the grant under the Local Taxation Act on relief of rates. An adjustment of the funds which are available is only feasible by a central authority, after a survey of the needs existing in towns as well as in rural districts. It is generally admitted that the grant under the Local Taxation Act should be wholly devoted to secondary education, and that the grants now distributed by the Science and Art Department should be available for secondary education. If endowments are taken into consideration, the Board of Education will have under its direct and indirect control a capital which, supplemented by local resources and fees, ought to enable it to raise the standard of secondary education. Although local authorities will have the more immediate responsibility of spending the money, the taxpayer who contributes it is justified in expecting that a central authority should exercise supervision, in order that the local authorities should spend in accordance with educational requirements, and so as to secure a proper continuity in the different grades and categories of schools. I have mentioned fees, and I do not see any reason why parents who can afford to give their children an education beyond the age of 15 should not pay for it. Where exceptional intellectual gifts justify the ascent of what is called the educational ladder by those who have not the means, it should be promoted by the offer of scholarships. In the constitution of the consultative committee the Bill follows in some respects the recommendations of the Secondary Education Commissioners. I am not prepared to dissent from the arguments used by them in order to show the value of the advice which the Board of Education might obtain from the representatives of the universities and of the teaching profession. The sense of responsibility for the advice thus given would give it weight, and such a committee would in no way weaken, as is feared in some quarters, the responsibility of the President of the Board to Parliament; but it would keep him in touch with expert opinion. I attach very great importance to the opinions of those who will be the employers of the men trained in the secondary schools—the heads of commercial houses, of industrial works, and of agricultural enterprise. Their judgment on the results of secondary education, general as well as technical in its various branches, will be of the greatest value to the Department and to the teachers; and an exchange of opinion between them and the educational experts in the consultative committee would tend to keep the supply of secondary education up to the level of the demand. On the one hand, the Board of Education will receive representations from chambers of com- merce, of agriculture, and from the industries, which are sure to increase as the need of scientific guidance will be more and more realised. On the other hand, the various associations of teachers will lay their claims before the Board. To focus the variety of appeals, to lead them into a proper channel, the consultative committee will be a very careful body, although purely consultative. The presence of men engaged in applying science to business will be a recognition of the practical results of the work done in our secondary schools, and will infuse life into the debates of this consultative committee, and avoid the risk that the committee will take a purely professional view of what is closely connected with the business of the country. In order that this Bill may achieve what it is intended to accomplish, it will be clearly necessary that it should lead to the speedy establishment of a Secondary Education Department, which should be responsible for all branches of secondary education. The present system, which gives to the Science and Art Department, to the Charity Commissioners, and to the Board of Agriculture a share in the management of secondary education, must inevitably lead to confusion. The Secondary Education Commissioners recommended the absorption of the Science and Art Department, which has already taken effect in Scotland. This Bill enables the Board of Education to adopt that recommendation. I cannot conceive why a Department which is on the eve of its dissolution should have introduced very important alterations in its rules and in the conditions under which its grants have been hitherto distributed. When you are creating a new machinery, as is done by this Bill, it seems rational and natural that meanwhile the old machinery should not be galvanised into fresh efforts. This Bill does not deal with the thorny question of the constitution of local authorities. I think that it was prudent to reserve the subject for future legislation. But as a result of this reservation the controversy which has arisen with reference to clause 7 of the Directory should have been avoided, and legislative action should not have been forestalled by administrative measures which have accen- tuated in a period of transition the defects of dual administration. I trust that the right interpretation of the Bill with regard to the transfer of the powers of the Charity Commissioners is that in matters which relate to education the Board of Education will in future exercise those powers. I gather from the noble Duke's speech on the First Reading that the transfer will be gradual, but that the inspection of endowed schools under schemes framed by the Endowed Schools Commissioners will at once be transferred to the Board of Education. I also infer from the speech of the noble Duke that the framing of new schemes, which at present has been stopped, will be carried out under new regulations, which I trust will follow in the main the recommendations made by the Secondary Education Commissioners. Through the endowed schools, the Board of Education will be able to exercise a direct and great influence on the whole organisation of secondary education, of which, in some parts of the country, they form a most important element. To establish a proper co-ördination between endowed schools and other schools the intervention of a central authority is essential. I take for granted that such control as is now exercised by the Board of Agriculture over education will be transferred, as it has been in Scotland, to the Board of Education. General inspection, the noble Duke has told us, will be welcome, but would be hardly practicable. I readily admit that the duty of inspection of secondary schools will have to be discharged by specially competent men, and that it may be difficult to find them, but when a school receives a grant from public funds, inspection is the only means by which you can test how these funds are applied, and if you are to inspect State-aided and endowed schools you will be able to utilise the staff of inspectors for the benefit of schools which are not rich. We can, I believe, give satisfaction to the educational needs of our commercial and industrial classes without in any way losing the best features which have hitherto distinguished English education. Initiative, self-control, independence of character, a sense of personal responsibility, should be quickened, whatever may be the curriculum of a school. But these qualities will not compensate our merchants and our manufacturers for the lack of knowledge which their rivals are applying in their business. The Education Department, through their Intelligence Branch, have given us three volumes of admirable special Reports. For this warning note the greatest credit is due to Mr. Sadler and Mr. Morant. The country feels the need of firm guidance. If the new Board of Education makes use of the materials which have accumulated in order to build up ultimately a fabric of education which will enable the country to feel satisfied that future generations will be properly equipped for the burdens which they will have to bear, this Bill will not have been passed in vain.


My Lords, I do not think it is possible for any one of us who has taken much interest in the education of this country, and still less for any one of us who has himself taken any part in carrying on that education, not to rejoice, and rejoice exceedingly, at the appearance of this Bill. It is the first attempt to do what, in my judgment, ought to have been done something like five and twenty years ago, because through all that time our educational system has been suffering from the want of that completeness which is really necessary in order that any part of it should be as good as it can be. A great many vested interests which have, for one thing, grown up during that time will cause a considerable amount of difficulty in dealing with the matter; but I think the Bill promises to give us the means of dealing with all these difficulties most effectually, and I think we owe a great deal to the pains and care which have been bestowed upon its preparation. But at the same time there are certain matters which, I think, require particular consideration. Your Lordships will not wonder that I should speak, especially on behalf of religious education under this Bill. It is not that I claim for the Church of England anything in the nature of special treatment. I do not ask that any preference should be given to the Church as distinct from any other religious body, but I do ask that we shall not fancy we are pro- moting the cause of religious equality, if we understand by religious equality the absence of religion from our schools as much as we can possibly keep it out—for that is very often the interpretation given to the phrase "religious equality"—and we cannot help feeling a considerable amount of anxiety, when a Measure of this kind comes before us, that the troubles which attend the controversial question of religious education in our schools may induce statesmen to avoid everything like controversy by simply leaving the whole of this matter entirely to what may be called the operation of chance forces. I therefore want to call attention to two or three clauses of the Bill, but at the same time I should not like it to be supposed that I do not most heartily welcome the Bill, or that I have any desire to make its progress through the House difficult. In the first place, I wish to call attention to the transfer of the powers of the Charity Commissioners in all matters relating to education to this new Board. The Charity Commissioners act under two sets of Statutes in regard to education. One is called the Charitable Trusts Acts, and the other the Endowed Schools Acts, and there are considerable powers given under both sets. The powers given under the Charitable Trusts Acts are in one most important particular far greater than those given under the Endowed Schools Act, because under the Charitable Trusts Acts the Commissioners have the power to deal, almost without any control or any safeguard, with all educational endowments of less than £50 a year. There is no such power given under the Endowed Schools Act; and in dealing with such endowments, I think it would be far better that the matter should be in the hands of a judicial or semi-judicial body such as the Charity Commissioners rather than in the hands of a political department such as the proposed Board must necessarily be. I do not object at all to the character of the Board of Education. I think that it will be a great gain that it should be under the Government of the day; but I think there are certain matters which require different handling than that which they are likely to receive under the new Board, which will simply represent what is most popular at the moment it acts. Many of these endowments are used for elementary education, and I am sure it would be a mischievous thing in many cases to transfer them to secondary education. Yet I think the temptation to do so will be very considerable indeed. Therefore I should prefer very much if clause 2 were amended in some way so as to leave to the Charity Commissioners the powers which they exercise under the Charitable Trusts Acts, and not to refer those powers to the new Board which we are now to create. This is a matter which, of course, if it is to be discussed at all, will properly be discussed at the Committee stage of the Bill, but I think it well to take this opportunity of pointing out what seems to me to be important in this part of the Bill, in order that when we come to the Committee stage it will have been considered. I think very careful consideration ought to be given to clause 3, the inspection clause, which is also of the very gravest importance. It is not made clear who is to pay for this inspection, or whether the Board of Education is or is not to give inspection to private secondary schools. I presume from the language used that the Board of Education is to inspect private as well as endowed grammar schools, and any schools which the Board may itself create. But it would be a serious mistake—and the matter, as I say, is not quite clear—if in our new secondary system of education we were to ignore the great body of private schools. I was a member of the Schools Inquiry Commission 30 years ago, and at that time the private schools, generally speaking, were not very good. But I have kept up my acquaintance with a great many of them since then, and I do not hesitate to say that the improvement in them has been very marked indeed; that a great many of them are really very good schools; that they ought to be encouraged; and the best encouragement they could possibly receive would be to allow them to obtain inspection on the same terms as any of the other schools. I think it is also important that we should see that schools which give religious instruction should not be hindered from getting inspection on the same terms exactly as schools which do not give religious instruction. I do not think it is at all vise or just to exclude schools simply on the ground that they are giving religious instruction, or without excluding them to put a kind of fine on them by making them pay for inspection. I think that ought to be made clear in the clause. In regard to the powers given to county councils or borough councils to apply for the purpose of inspection, I think it ought to be secured that here also schools ought not to suffer in fines of this kind, because they give some particular form of religious instruction. I do not want any distinction between Church schools and any other schools, but I say the fact that of a school giving the religious instruction required by the members of a particular religious body ought not to exclude it from receiving whatever benefit may be given by inspection by thoroughly competent officers. I am well aware that this is a matter which raises a good deal of heat whenever it is mentioned. But, nevertheless, it seems to me of very grave importance, and I do not think it is possible for anyone who really understands the importance of the matter not to feel that this is a thing which should not be lightly passed by. The county councils at present are able, out of what is called the beer money, to give grants of various kinds, but they are precluded from giving grants to any secondary school that is run for profit or that belongs to any particular denomination. All of these private schools are, of course, run for profit, but if they are willing to come within the jurisdiction of this new Board, I do not at all see why they should be told they must stay outside because they are private schools. They have to exist somehow or other, and it is greatly to the interest of this country that if they exist, they should have that inspection which is a guarantee that they are really doing their work properly. You will not get any other guarantee. It is better that they should be good schools than that they should be bad schools. The whole matter of inspection is of such great importance that I hope the Government will not be unwilling to take it into very serious consideration. I will just advert to one special point which has been mentioned in this House before on the occasion of discussions on education, and that is in reference to the schools of the highest rank, the public schools, so called by the special Act passed to regulate them. These are admittedly the very best schools of their kind; they are unquestionably such schools as any country would desire to maintain; and the reason why they are so good is because that in education the formation of character is the important thing—that if you can turn out young men from schools with high principles, a strong sense of duty, and a real determination to do that duty to the best of their ability, you have done more for them than if you had taught them any amount of knowledge, whatever that knowledge may be. And when you think of that—for it is a truth that will bear pondering upon a good deal—you cannot help thinking also of the immense effect which real religious education of the best kind must have in the formation of character. If we create a system which is to exclude or to put obstacles in the way of religious education, we shall certainly do far more harm to the future generations of this country tarn we shall do good by making their merely intellectual teaching better than it is at present. The consultative committee seems to me on the whole, likely to be a very useful body, but at the same time, it is impossible to deny that its formation must be very carefully watched, and I do not see that we have quite sufficient information to lead us to any clear conception of what this consultative body may be like. There is a little tendency to make it a consultative body simply of experts. I am always, I confess, a little afraid of uncontrolled experts. There is a little risk that they may sacrifice very important matters to what they consider to be the best mode of giving instruction, and I am not at all sure that the consultative body would not be very strongly driven in the direction of shutting out that terribly controverted matter—religious education—as much as they possibly could. I think there ought to be some care taken in framing the constitution of that consultative committee, and I was very glad indeed to hear the noble Lord who sat down just now say that he looked upon it as of some importance that in this consultative committee there should be representatives not only of those who are interested in education in the sense of knowing something about it, but of those who are interested in education in the sense of seeing quite well what they want to get out. The consultative body if carefully framed will, I think, be of very great value indeed. I think it is a very good thing that the Minister of the day should be thus brought into touch with leading men who know a great deal about this matter. I doubt very much, however, whether the first subject that is to be put into their hands—namely, the framing of regulations for the registration of teachers—will be dealt with better than the Board of Education would deal with it. I do not feel at all satisfied that the Board of Education without any consultative committee would not make as good, and most likely a better, register than this consultative committee. But to the committee's being there to be consulted I can imagine only one objection, and that is, if the President of the Beard of Education allowed his own responsibility to be hidden behind this consultative body as a kind of shelter. It is absolutely necessary that the Board of Education, if there is to be a consultative committee, should consult it, and they will gain a great deal by consulting it; but the consultative committee ought never to become, instead of a consultative committee, a regulative Committee with independent powers. The only thing besides this which I wish to notice is that under clause 5, which orders that— Any Order made under this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament for not less than four weeks during which that House is sitting before it is submitted to Her Majesty in Council. This does not give either House of Parliament a power of interference. Now, I do not think it will be at all wise that we should not have the same power of interference that we have had in other educational schemes. I think, if this House or the other House deliberately concludes that a certain scheme is not a wise one, that they ought to have the power of saying so and of stopping that scheme from any further progress. The clause as it stands gives neither House any power of doing anything at all. I do not think that that is at all a wise course to take, considering our past experience in this matter, and I hope the Government will not be unwilling to alter that clause so as to enable either House of Parliament to stop schemes which, in their judgment, are not really in accordance with the best interests of the nation, and perhaps not really in accordance with the spirit of the law. I have pointed these things out, because it is better, I think, that anything which is to be brought before the House in Committee should have a public expression at once. At the same time I should not like it to be supposed that I have any hesitation in supporting the Bill, or that I intend in any way whatever to damage its progress through both Houses. I earnestly hope it may become an Act as soon as possible.


My Lords, my first and strongest feeling in considering this Bill is, I confess, a sincere regret at the limitations under which it is prepared. I had hoped that we might at last have arrived at the time when it would have been considered by Her Majesty's Government possible to deal with the question of secondary education as a whole. The Secondary Education Commission, as your Lordships recollect, laid before Parliament in the year 1895 a very full and able Report upon that subject, and I, for one, My Lords, quite agree with the most reverend Prelate who has just sat down in thinking that that question ought to have been dealt with even long before the Secondary Education Commission was appointed. The Report of the Commission has now been for four years before Parliament, but nothing has been done upon the subject, and nothing is really going to be done, even if this Bill becomes law, as I have no doubt it will, possibly with some amendments. Nothing will be done in this matter of Secondary Education by this Bill except rendering the Education Department more fit to deal with that and with all the other parts of its work. Now, my Lords, the time at which we have arrived is one which renders it most urgent to settle this question of secondary education. Your Lordships doubtless will have observed, if you listened to the interesting speech of my noble Friend who opened this Debate, how entirely the question of secondary education was filling his thoughts as it is filling the thoughts of us all. I will not follow him in the description which he gave of the present state of things in regard to that matter, but the difficulty of dealing with this question of secondary education is increasing year by year. The county councils of this country have a large sum of money—appropriately called beer money—to deal with exclusively for technical education. If you want to make secondary education effective you ought to withdraw this restriction and allow county councils to deal with that money for secondary education generally, and not only for one half of it, however important that half may be. The evil of these limits is that when we give the county councils wider powers there will be scarcely any of the money left to be distributed for the general purposes of secondary education without withdrawing it from the technical schools to which it is now given. I should have thought the present Session peculiarly convenient for the introduction of a secondary education Bill. There is no large Measure of public interest to the whole of the country before Parliament this Session, as far as I know, and there would therefore have been room and scope enough to have taken up this question, although I admit it is one of considerable difficulty. But, instead of doing this, my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council has again confined his Bill solely to the purpose of reconstructing the Education Department. I do not deny that that is a very important subject, or that the Education Department and the various other Departments which deal with public education in this country require consolidation and reorganisation. But the size of the Bill, the very number of its clauses, indicates that you might have carried out this reorganisation at the same time that you dealt with the general subject of secondary education, and made your work complete. As far as I read the Bill it seems to me that not only has secondary education not been dealt with this year, but it is not to be dealt with next year, for the Bill is not to come into operation until April 1, 1900, that is, at a period of the Session when it would be impossible to prepare any Secondary Education Bill that could be passed in that Session. We may cherish hopes that something may be done in 1901, but that, I think, will be a very unpropitious moment for dealing with this question, as it will be on the eve of a General Election, and this is a question which ought to be dealt with by any Government in the most im- partial manner possible. Now the establishment of local bodies of secondary education will involve many difficult questions. I need not point out that to Her Majesty's Government, because they wrecked their large Education Bill of 1896 very much upon the question of areas. That is a very delicate question, and it will be a peculiarly delicate question on the eve of a General Election, and I venture to say, therefore, that I greatly doubt whether, if the noble Duke is in office at that time, in spite of the alarming hints he gave to the the country a short time ago, which we all heard with so much regret—if he is in office at that time I very much doubt whether he will have the strength and power to bring in a contested Secondary Education Bill on the eve of a General Election; and, therefore, my Lords, the question will be postponed indefinitely. The Education Department is to be reconstructed, but we do not know, and we have no assurance whatever of the time when that reconstructed Department will be in such a position as to enable the introduction of a Secondary Education Bill. I greatly regret that the noble Duke, in his speech in bringing in the Bill, seemed to give as a reason for the postponement of the matter that he was going to have a Departmental Committee to inquire particularly into what should be done with the Science and Art Department. We have had Committees on the Science and Art Department before, and we had one last year or the year before.


Only on Museums.


Still that is a large part of the question. If it is necessary to have another inquiry into the Science and Art Department, why does the noble Duke wait so long? Why cannot he begin his inquiry? He knows that the principle of this Bill, the bringing together of all the scattered Departments which now have to deal with education is sure to pass. Nobody will object to it, and therefore surely the noble Duke might begin his inquiry at once, and put himself into a position by which he would be able to bring a Bill into operation at the earliest possible period. I do hope, when we get into Committee, the noble Duke will consider that matter, and at least let the Bill come into operation on the 1st January, instead of 1st April, so that there may be some hope of something being done next Session. That is the great criticism which I venture to make—that the Bill is inadequate; that it is unduly restricted and will not satisfy the hopes and wishes of the country, because it does nothing practically as regards the improvement of our system of secondary education. With regard to the construction of the Board, I feel bound to say that in my opinion it would have been much simpler to have had a Minister instead of a Board. All those who have been in office know what these sort of Boards are. You put upon them the Secretaries of State and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Secretaries of State are all too busy, and do not want to have any responsibility beyond their general responsibility as Cabinet Ministers, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will exercise his financial control, not on this Board, but at the Treasury. It would have been better not to have created any Board, but to have a Minister in one House and a Secretary representing him in the other. The Bill differs in respect to the transfer of the powers to the Charity Commissioners from the Bill which was presented last year. The latter would have effected a certain transfer at once, but it was mischievously limited. I am glad that the limit has now disappeared, but the amalgamation of these scattered Departments will not be effected by this mere passing of the Bill. It will be in the power of the new Board of Education to take from the Charity Commissioners one by one and piecemeal—a little here and a little there—their educational powers, but nothing will be done at once, and nothing will be done apparently upon a general system. I think that is a mistake. I myself think if you are going to make this consolidation, you ought to make it at once, and hand over the whole of the educational powers of the Charity Commissioners to the new Board of Education without delay, and in that connection I do not share the views expressed by the most reverend Primate. On the contrary, I desire to see all the educational powers of the Charity Commissioners passed over as soon as they may be to the Education Department. The most reverend Primate spoke of these powers as judicial. I have heard them spoken of as quasi judicial, and I have heard objection taken to handing over such powers to a Government Department; but I am content to rest my opinion on that of Lord Davey, who, in his evidence before the Secondary Education Commission, gave his opinion that, as a lawyer, there was no difficulty in effecting a transfer. As to inspections, I have nothing to say upon that clause, and should have said nothing upon it had it not been for what fell from the most reverend Primate. I am afraid he is very suspicious of his friends on the Treasury Bench. I see nothing in the Bill to indicate any intention of excluding any schools because of their religious teaching, and I do not think there is any such exclusion as the most reverend Primate appears to anticipate. With regard to the consultative committee, on the whole I am glad that it is going to be established, but I am glad only on one condition, which I believe to be the intention of the Government—namely, that the responsibility of the Minister will be thereby in no way diminished. The Minister is the person to whom we must look in Parliament, and to whom the country will look, for the administration of the Department. I should be glad to see him aided by experts, though I share to some extent the dread of the most reverend Prelate that experts should rule. But so long as you have a Minister responsible, I think it is well that he should be aided by persons of large experience in educational matters. I have at this stage of the Bill no further observations to offer, but I would very earnestly ask my noble Friend if he cannot expedite the time when this Bill is to come into operation. It is a great disappointment to find that no large step is to be taken in regard to the reorganisation of our Secondary Education. I may assure him that there is the strongest feeling on the part of the country upon this subject, and as I fear that if this opportunity is lost, and if next year is lost too, it will not easily recur, I would venture to press both upon the Government and the House to consider whether it is not possible to expedite the process under this Bill.


My Lords, I should like to be allowed to add my testimony to that which has been borne by almost all who are interested in secondary education in this country, and, above all, to the testimony which has been borne to-night by the most reverend Primate, to whom no living man has a parallel experience with regard to the varied departments of educational work in England, as to the value of this Bill and as to or gratitude for its introduction. The Bill is necessarily partial and tentative, but it is an instalment of larger things. I venture, with all respect to the noble Marquess opposite, to differ from him as to the disadvantage of introducing such a Bill in a partial and limited form. To my mind it is a perilous thing to face the difficulties of this matter at all, and only by degrees is there any prospect of arriving at the desired solution. If the Measure is not an heroic one, it is what is probably a good deal better—an eminently practical one at the present time. The first of its three objects is the consolidation of control at head-quarters, and I am surprised to learn that any wide difference of opinion should be supposed to exist outside with regard to the desirableness of such consolidation. Had I needed convincing, the noble Duke's words would have been to me quite conclusive as to the paramount necessity of putting an end to the cumbrous and complex machinery by which the tripartite authority now deals with educational matters. That the entire control should be in the hands of one responsible body at head-quarters seems to me a necessity so obvious that argument is scarcely required. The second great scheme or limb of the Bill is the formation of what is described as the consultative committee, and to this point public interest is largely directed. I feel most strongly that before we are asked even to give a Second Reading to this Bill we ought to have a little more light as to what this committee is intended to consist of, and, when formed, what will be its actual work. I do not know how many of your Lordships have entered upon the stupendous task of studying the nine volumes which form the Report of the Secondary Education Committee, but those who have done so will have found that the opinions on this point are as varied as the number of witnesses. Witnesses of such weight and authority as Sir George Kekewich, Sir Henry Longley, and Sir B. Samuelson expressed an opinion adverse to the formation of a consultative committee at all, and the objections which are given are admirably summed up and formulated in the Report of the Commissioners themselves. I think the Commission acted wisely, and that Her Majesty's Government acted wisely, in overriding those objections. The objections, weighty as they were, were amply outweighed by the testimony of the varied bodies of men and the various individuals who expressed a strong opinion that some such committee as this was a paramount necessity if our educational work was to go forward. The moment, however, that we go beyond this we find that there is among the witnesses an almost limitless variety of opinion as to whom the committee shall consist of, what number of members shall be upon it, what its work shall be, and whether it should be compulsory on the Minister to follow its advice or not. The Government has evaded the difficulty of deciding among these disagreeing doctors by merely stating that there shall be such a committee, and not telling us its number, the period for which it is to be appointed, what questions shall be referred to it, or whether the advice it will give to the responsible Minister is to be public advice or private advice. It is of importance that we should have some outline statement on these matters before we can judge of the effect of such a committee. We are told that two-thirds of its members are to be persons representing universities and "bodies interested in education." I am sure it was the draughtsman and not the noble Duke himself—the Chancellor of Cambridge University—who thus differentiated between universities and bodies interested in education. What we want upon the whole subject of this consultative committee is more light. The most reverend Primate has pointed out already to-day some matters upon which it is improbable that a committee of that kind would be either as courageous or as unbiassed as a Minister in his place in Parliament or in his departmental work. But there are other matters of importance which I should like at least to have some general idea about before I can judge whether or not this consultative committee will, if formed, do the kind of work which I think it ought to perform. What is to be its relation to the Education Department? As far as I understand the wording of the Bill, it will be open to the Board of Education to refer any matter of elementary education, quite as much as secondary education, to this body. If so, we should like to know by what means elementary education in its very different departments is to have its proper representation on that body. Then, again, is the consultative committee to have to do with the financial questions with which all educational matters are so closely involved? I should venture to hope that the questions that are referred to the committee would be of a large and general character rather than specific details about schemes for the management of a particular school or set of schools, or controversial things of that sort. There would be on many occasions a great temptation offered to the Minister to hand over to a body of this kind the responsibility of settling one of those thorny and intricate questions, sectarian or other, which are constantly cropping up in educational matters, and I venture to believe that by no possible scheme that could be devised could we form a committee which could deal so satisfactorily with problems of that sort as does a Minister responsible to Parliament. We are told that the committee will advise with reference to the system upon which the register of teachers is to be framed, but I think the final decision upon the actual registration of individuals would be better kept in the hands of the Minister. Above all, is the advice which that committee gives to be confidential advice or is it to be public advice? There is all the difference in the world. I venture to hope that whatever is asked for from this consultative committee or given by it may be in writing, and be open, if necessary, to inspection when called for, so that we may know what the advice is which the experts have given. I am by no means against the formation of this consultative committee. I believe it may do a great deal of good if wisely constructed, and if its powers are properly defined. But looking at the immense difference of opinion among capable men as to the dangers which they saw, or the things which they desired, I think we ought to have more information on the subject before we go further. The points I have referred to may be severally points of detail, more suited for Committee than for this Debate, but, taken in the aggregate, they form practically the backbone of the Bill. The whole country is interested in the formation of this consultative committee, and would like to know what its numerical strength is going to be, and what is the work which will devolve upon it. But, my Lords, perhaps the most important part of the whole Bill is the third division of it, which says that inspection may be provided for all secondary schools. It is impossible but that that must produce vast changes, and I believe it is well that it has been decided to begin, in the first place, by making that inspection entirely voluntary on the part of those who are to come under it. I am sure that the whole of this House and the country must have been impressed by what was said by the noble Duke in introducing this Bill as to the action which has been taken on this particular point by the headmasters of our great public schools. They have shown remarkable spirit in falling in with this proposal in the way they have, and in consenting themselves to come under some system of inspection, not because they are themselves in need of it, but because they feel it would be for the good of education in the country as a whole. The headmasters in thus assenting to co-operate made four conditions—first, that the inspection when it took place should be not such as to reduce everything to rigidity, but that the largest elasticity should be allowed; secondly, that inspection by universities may be taken as equivalent to inspection by the Government. On both those points the Bill seems quite satisfactory. But the headmasters went further. They said they were anxious that the inspectors should be men of the highest educational qualifications, and they also said that the inspection, if compulsory, ought to be gratuitous. I entirely agree with the headmasters that it would be a disaster were the Government to appoint for the carrying out of this Bill inspectors from any but the first ranks of educational men that are to be found in the country. The noble Duke said that would be a costly process, that such men are not numerous, and when found they require to be highly paid. That is, of course, true, but in my opinion no money would be better expended, or would bring in better results to the country as a whole, than money spent upon getting inspectors of the highest educational qualifications. If, for the sake of avoiding the expense of paying the best men, we fall back on men of inferior grade, we shall not merely have less qualified agents for inspecting the schools, but we shall change the character of school inspection as a whole, because the best schools will not ask or consent to be inspected unless the inspectors possess the highest qualifications. My fear is that if the inspectors are men lacking the very highest qualifications, and therefore unsuited for the kind of work that has been suggested for our greatest schools, the schools that will come under inspection will be mainly those that are giving themselves to technical education rather than to a liberal education as a whole. What we desire is to war against the notion that technical education, however good, can ever take the place of a liberal education laid upon broad and massive lines, and I believe the result of our having any but the best men who can be found in England would be to widen the rift between the best schools and those which fall below them in reputation and character. We are in danger of technical education swamping the desire for a liberal education. We all admit the absolute need of increasing and improving our technical education so that we may meet on fair terms our rivals in trade in foreign countries, but it would be an evil day if that encouragement of technical education were allowed to diminish or to swamp, as I think there is a fear it may, the desire for a large and liberal education as a basis on which these technical things may be built. Municipalities especially have been constantly suspected, not unfairly, of being likely to put undue weight upon the kind of education which would immediately and obviously pay, rather than upon a wide and liberal education. It is constantly said that, looking back to the history of the past generation or two, we ought to take Scotland as an example of what good education can do. It is said that Scotsmen educated in Scotland have been exceptionally successful all the world over. I am a Scotsman myself, but I have not the advantage of having been educated in Scotland, and do not come within that category. But if we look back and try to trace the causes of this peculiar success to the kind of education which was general in Scotland, we find it was the custom there, and has been the custom for generations, to train for a larger market, so to speak, than the local market, and that the large and broad basis upon which education is there built up in all the schools throughout the country has been the reason why men so educated have been exceptionally successful both in England and beyond the seas. Therefore, my Lords, on these grounds I venture to hope that the kind of inspectors who will be appointed will not be mere experts in technical training, but will be such men that the highest and best schools of England will not be ashamed to submit themselves to them in order to have their work overhauled. The fourth condition which was made by the headmasters was that they thought that inspection, being compulsory, ought to be gratuitous. This Bill does not propose that inspection shall be compulsory, and therefore that particular point may not perhaps arise; but I suppose most of us feel that if the inspection, beginning with being voluntary, turns out to be welcomed by so many schools that it becomes practically general, not a very long time will elapse before it will be compulsory. If so, I entirely agree with the headmasters that it ought to be gratuitous. The noble Duke the Lord President of the Council deprecated the idea that we ought to pay from public sources for the inspection of schools which are attended only by the sons of the wealthy classes. I do not think that argument stands good. It would be impossible to differentiate between a school which is fairly able to pay and a school which is not, and I believe we shall only arrive at the right result by making inspection, whenever it becomes compulsory, gratuitous from first to last. If we are to do this thing at all let us do it well. We should appoint the best men, and pay them adequately, and I believe the country will support us in doing so. I hope neither the noble Duke nor any other Member of this House will think that in these remarks I desire to depreciate the Bill as a whole. I welcome it with all my heart as an instalment, and I look forward to great things which will be by this Bill set on foot, provided that the consultative committee is formed on wise lines and the questions referred to it are not too large and too ambitious. There are questions upon which the public need guidance and information at this moment, and it will be the duty of the new body we are forming to supply it. For example, there is a widespread fallacy with regard to the relation of primary, secondary, and higher education. It is impossible to cut off at a particular moment the education of a boy or girl, and to say that at that moment the one that is going out to work shall stop, and the one who is not shall go on being educated. There is an idea that at the age of 15 a boy or girl who has got a scholarship, but who would otherwise go out to work at that age, can go on to a higher school and will have been properly trained for it up to that point. That is not the case. We must begin a great deal earlier than that age if we are to differentiate between those who are to get the advantages of a higher education and those who are not. That has been marked in the case of Scotland. There have been schools in Scotland in which all kinds of education have been going on side by side. Are your Lordships aware that in the great High School of Edinburgh many members who have sat in this House—more than one occupant of the Woolsack, and at least one Archbishop of Canterbury—have been educated side by side with boys coming from the lowest grade and the lowest homes in Edinburgh? That school goes on to-day, and is under the School Board, and the example serves to show how fallacious is a rough-and-ready comparison drawn between England and Scotland. While I welcome this Bill as a wise beginning, I do not profess to think it goes so far as we must some day go. It goes, however, on the right lines. If much will have afterwards to be added, nothing will have to be cancelled. The Bill is exactly, in my opinion, what we want at this moment, and I hope your Lordships will give it a Second Reading.


My. Lords, I agree very much with some of the remarks made by the right reverend Prelate who has just sat down. I agree especially with him in his observation that it would it be an unfortunate thing if in the reorganisation of secondary education we should lose sight of the immense importance of maintaining the general tone of a liberal education, and to allow it to degenerate into mere technical education. I think all who have the interests of education at heart will agree with this view. On the other hand, I must point out that we have suffered greatly in this country from too much neglect of technical education, and the time has come when it is absolutely necessary to reorganise that portion of education efficiently. What you want is not only to lay the foundation of character, not only to give a broad education, which is also of high importance, but especially a better system or co-ordination so as to bring us in a position to compete successfully with those countries where technical education has been carried much further than it has here. What does the Bill propose to do? The speakers have said that they welcome the Bill. I, too, welcome it. You should always welcome small mercies, when you can get them, although you cannot get all you want. The fault I find with the Bill—and here I agree with my noble Friend behind me—is that it is such a small step in advance. There is hardly any subject which has so thoroughly been discussed of late years as the deficiency in our system of secondary education, and I do not think I ever read an abler Report on the subject than that of the last Commission on Secondary Education. I did not read the whole nine volumes, but I read the one volume which contains a complete account of the system of education and the recommendations of the Committee. I have been amazed to see what a complete mass of confusion our whole system of secondary education now is. Well, we were all in hopes that some strong effort would be made to bring the system into line and into some real working order. I remember when my old lamented Friend, Mr. Forster, made a movement to put elementary education into a better condition. He certainly proceeded with considerably more courage and with a larger grasp of the subject than is new shown in the case, of this movement to improve secondary education. We were a strong Government as far as majority was concerned, but we certainly were not stronger than, if as strong as, the Government now in office; but I should really have thought that with the ample material at the disposal of the Government they might have mustered courage enough to bring in some considerable Measure and submit it to the judgment of Parliament and the country. It is not by tentative expedients that you can carry through great reforms. Those who never face the lion in the path will not effect anything considerable. As to the details of the Bill, I do not think that there is any special objection to make. They are to a great extent permissive. The Bill is an improvement, no doubt, as compared to what it was last Session, when, in the very few remarks I made, I expressed the opinion that unless the Charity Commission was more fully dealt with no satisfactory system could be established. This Bill does give a power to the Education Department, whenever it can muster up courage enough or find time enough, to do something with regard to the Charity Commission. I hope when it does make a proposal it will not withdraw that proposal so speedily as some of the proposals with regard to education have been withdrawn. The most reverend Prelate desired that we should reintroduce into this Bill that which I believe to be a most pernicious provision—namely, that any schemes which are prepared may be rejected by a vote of either House. I quite understand why he is so anxious to retain that power, which, if he will allow me to say so without personal offence, I think he and the Bench of Bishops have exercised on many occasions with much damage to the public interest. But I do not think the most reverend Prelate need have been, as far as the present Government is concerned, alarmed upon that point. I feel very little doubt that it will not require a Motion to be carried in this House desiring that any of these proposals or Orders should not be persevered in, but that some slight press of opposition would at once frighten the Education Department into withdrawing the proposal, however much they might think it desirable. I must add this— speaking very seriously on the point—that I do not quite clearly understand why, even from the most reverend Prelate's paint of view, he should be alarmed, because I do not think the Orders are likely to touch those questions concerning which he and the Bench of Bishops feel, I admit, very strongly. The Orders, as I understand the matter, are for the most part administrative Orders, which, while it is right that they should be laid before both Houses, will not raise those thorny questions which are raised by the schemes to which the present practice is applied.


They are the Orders that are referred to in the previous part of the Bill.


Yes, and they are administrative Orders. I would then make this observation—that although the House would not have the power, which it now has, of absolutely stopping the Orders, yet there is nothing whatever, as far as my belief goes, to prevent either House of Parliament from moving an Address to the Crown in regard to any matter referred to in the Order. The only difference is this—that, no doubt, an Address moved in that manner might have no effect, because the Government of the day might advise Her Majesty not to comply with the desire expressed in the Address. There was another point to which the most reverend Prelate referred, and in regard to, which I think he was under some misapprehension. He seemed to us on this side of the House afraid lest schools where there was special denominational education would be excluded from the advantages of this Bill, and especially from the advantage of inspection. I do not understand that the Bill would make any such difference, but that it would be open to the Education Department to admit to the advantages of the Bill any school whatever that might desire to be brought under the operation of the Bill, and that wishes to have the advantage of inspection or any other advantage the Bill might confer upon it. But I understand that what, in point of fact, the most reverend Prelate had in his mind was whether or not it would be a condition of such inspection or such other advantage that there should be introduced a Conscience Clause into these schools. What I understand to be the recommendation of the late Commission, and the general wish of all those who are interested in the improvement of secondary education, is that we should aim at bringing the whole of the secondary education schools in the country, whether they be endowed schools, or schools which are aided by the technical education grant, or whether they be private proprietary schools, into one coordinated system, under which they might be taken into consideration as part of the means in any district where secondary education is to be applied. I do not understand that it was the desire of anyone to exclude any school which it was possible, with their consent, to include. There was one other point which was referred to by the right reverend Prelate who has just sat down—namely, the power of the consultative committee. I rather agree in desiring that, if it were possible, the noble Duke should give a little more information as to what the duties of this consultative committee will be. I clearly understand that the Minister will have the power of rejecting advice that might be given, and it is rather important that we should know how far the consultative committee will be brought into play, because it becomes a more or less important part of the machinery according as to how it is to be used. I was alarmed to hear from the most reverend Prelate that he was afraid that these experts would be all against religious education. I may have differed from the most reverend Prelate upon the action of the Bench of Bishops in regard to certain schemes where the particular education given in an endowed school was in question, but, for my own part, I am not one of those who are adverse to religious education, and I certainly should be very much alarmed at the appointment of the consultative committee if I thought the controversial question of religious education was to be referred to them. I apprehend that that would be about the most difficult duty which could be imposed upon any set of men, and I should certainly doubt whether the experts would be specially qualified to advise on that subject. At the same time I am not so unfavourable to the opinion of experts on education as to think that they would be adverse to religions education, and I cannot help remembering that the most reverend Prelate himself is no mean expert in education, and certainly if he were upon the consultative committee, and I had the honour of consulting him, I should expect to find him, whilst thoroughly able to advise me on educational matters, able also to advise on matters of religious education. I should not be alarmed on that subject if I were the noble Duke, and I think he might approach the committee of experts without any fear that they would all be persons who would give heterodox or unwise advice on any subject brought before them. I cannot help feeling rather amused at the constitution of the Board. I do not conceive it to be at all probable that the Ministers who are included in this Board ever will meet. I think it is undesirable they ever should meet. I do not attach the slightest importance to the Board. It cannot do any harm. The Board will be the Minister of Education, assisted by the permanent officials. And here I must express my pleasure to see that the very able present Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education is to be retained as a member of the Board, and I can only hope that when he comes to give advice upon secondary education he may be more fortunate in being supported by the Government to which he belongs than he has hitherto been on elementary education.


My Lords, the criticisms of this Bill have been of two entirely different and, to some extent, antagonistic kinds. Some criticisms have been made by my noble Friend the noble Marquess opposite, and to some extent they were repeated by the noble Earl who has just sat down, relating to the inadequate character of the present Measure. I assume that its inadequacy consists in the fact that it does not propose to deal in any way with the constitution of those local authorities which are now universally admitted to be a necessary element in any complete reorganisation of the system of secondary education. The present Government did, three years ago, attempt to deal with that part of the question, and in the Education Bill which was introduced in 1896 it was proposed to constitute local authorities which would have been charged, amongst other things, with extensive duties in connection with secondary education in their localities. But I cannot say that that Measure, or even that part of the Measure, received any very enthusiastic support from the noble Lords opposite or from their Friends in the House of Commons; and, although I might think that the objections which they felt to the other portions of the Bill might have been such as to warrant them in offering that Bill the strenuous opposition they did, I scarcely think it lies in their mouth to complain that the Government have shown want of courage in neglecting to deal with this part of the question on the present occasion. The noble Earl asks why we have proposed a Bill which we admit to be of a partial character. I can only state now, as I stated last year, that I thought we had probably not been well advised in the previous Bill in leaving to local authorities those matters which were questions for the central authority, and I pointed out that I did not think, in the absence of any more satisfactory central authority than that which exists at present, or can exist until the Bill is passed, it would be desirable to create such local authorities as could satisfactorily discharge the duties they would have to perform. It is therefore for these reasons that we have deliberately proceeded in this manner. We have thought it desirable, in the reorganisation of secondary education, that the central authority should be in existence before the new local authorities are called into existence, and we think such central authority will be able to give the new local authorities, when constituted, the guidance and advice of which they will stand in need, and that if they were created and came into existence before the central authority it is very probable that additional mistakes would be added to those which I am afraid have already taken place in the matter of secondary education. The noble Marquess opposite constructed a very ingenious argument, by which he endeavoured to prove that because a complete Measure could not be passed next year it was very undesirable that it should take place the year after. Of course, it is not in my power to say what legis- lation it may be possible for the Government to undertake next Session; but I am bound to say I do not see that there is any insurmountable reason why a complete Measure dealing with local authorities should not, at all events, be brought in and, I hope, passed next Session. It is not necessary that this central authority should be constituted before the Bill for the creation of local authorities is brought in. All we say in that it is necessary that there should be a central authority in existence when the local authorities are created, and I do not see the absolute necessity for the constitution of a central authority before bringing in a Bill which shall create local authorities. I entirely sympathise with the observations with which the noble Earl opposite concluded on the subject whether the Department should be called a Board, in imitation of the Local Government Board, the Board of Agriculture, or the Board of Trade, or whether it should be a secretariat, as in the case of the Secretary for Scotland. As far as I remember, the point was mooted when the Bill was first prepared, but I quite admit that I am unable, at the present moment, to recollect the reasons which weighed in favour of a Board rather than a secretariat. It has the advantage, at all events, of numerous precedents, and it is perfectly well understood that there will be no Board at all. There are other criticisms which have been made with reference to the Bill which appear to me to proceed from the opposite point of view, and from persons who have formed an erroneous and exaggerated conception of the scope of the Bill. I do not think in anything I have ever said I can hold myself responsible for any such exaggerated descriptions of the Bill. I have always admitted that it was a small Bill, but, as I thought, an indispensable step in the direction of the reorganisation of secondary education, whether of national or local character. What it does is to create a department which shall be able to take cognisance of, and be competent to deal with, as no department at present in existence is competent to deal with, the problems of secondary education as they arise. The Bill does not profess to lay down the educational policy which this department, not yet created, will undertake when it is formed. Some of the criticism seems, in my opinion, to have proceeded from an attempt to find in the Bill principles of educational policy which it does not contain. A great deal of misapprehension seems to have been caused by a statement which I made in introducing the Bill upon the subject of the inspection of secondary schools. When I made that statement I was guarding myself against an erroneous impression which appeared, in consequent of certain inquiries which had been made, to have been formed as to the nature of the complete and systematic inspection of all our secondary schools—public, endowed, proprietary, or private—which might be undertaken by the Board. There are, I believe—although the statistics on the subject are not complete—800 public schools and no fewer than 5,000 private and proprietary schools. Many of these are very large and important schools, and anything like a complete and systematic inspection of that number, I pointed out, would require a very large and highly-trained staff, and I went on to state that such a staff, for financial and other reasons, was not likely immediately or for some time to come to be at the disposal of the Education Board. It was necessary in the Bill to take the power of inspecting all such schools as came under the Bill, because without such power the Board would have been unable to undertake even that preliminary and general survey of our educational system which it will be necessary in the first instance for it to undertake in order to determine what is wanted. But there is nothing in the Bill which limits the responsibility which it may in future undertake if we find we are able to succeed in organising a central authority which will inspire general confidence, and which Parliament would be disposed to entrust with the funds necessary for a complete and systematic inspection of all secondary schools, which most of them think desirable. It must have been obvious to your Lordships that I should not be in a position at this stage to ask for the assent of the Treasury to a proposal which might involve a very considerable expenditure, without being able to lay before them far more definite and positive estimates of the probable cost and extent of such an operation than I can now give. I was alarmed at the idea that appeared to be prevalent that we were prepared to at once under- take this work, and I thought it was necessary to point out the fact that it was not our intention to commence at once. I cannot, however, admit, after the reservation I made on that occasion, that it is doubtful that the question of how far it is the duty of the State to undertake the gratuitous inspection of schools which are mainly for the benefit of the richer classes is one that can be so summarily disposed of as it has been in some quarters. An attempt has been made to set up an analogy between the State inspection, which is conducted by the Science and Art Department, of the schools and classes aided by it, with this proposal for the general gratuitous inspection of secondary schools. Of course, in the case of instruction which is aided by the State, State inspection is an absolute necessity. But the inspection of the innumerable minor schools conferring an education of the same character, but an education which is not primarily connected with either our industrial or commercial interests, the inspection of such schools raises questions of a very different character from those which are involved in the necessary inspection of those institutions which are already directly aided by State grants. I will refer for a moment to one or two questions which have been raised by the most reverend Prelate the Archbishop of Canterbury. I thank him very much for the general support which he has given to this Measure, and I trust I shall be able to remove from his mind any misapprehension as to the dangers connected with religious education which he seems to entertain. I confess I regret that it should have been found necessary to raise the religious question at all in connection with this Measure. It has never, so far as I am aware, been raised in any discussions which have taken place either on my statement last Session or on my statement on the introduction of the Bill this year. I can only find in the Report of the Commission on Secondary Education two references to the religious question. The Commissioners say that the evidence goes to show that difficulties were not found in practice to rise in regard to giving religious instruction in secondary schools or to the presence in the same schools of pupils belonging to different religious denominations. They also point out that the Bishop of London indicated his belief that, under the ex- isting arrangements, the rights of parents in regard to the religious instruction of their children were respected. That was the opinion of the most reverend Prelate at the time he gave his evidence as to the administration of secondary education under the schemes of the Endowed Schools Commission. There is nothing in this Bill to change, and I know of no intention to change in any respect, the administration of those endowments in the matter of religious instruction, and I therefore do not know why this suspicion should enter into the mind of the most reverend Prelate. He referred also to the proposed transfer from the Charity Commission of their powers under the Endowed Schools Act and the Charitable Trusts Act, calling attention especially to the powers which the Education Department would obtain of transferring small endowments from the purposes of elementary education to the purposes of secondary education, and he thought that those powers ought to remain in the hands of a judicial or quasi-judicial body such as the Charity Commission. I understand that the Charity Commissioners have already the power of diverting elementary endowments which are now used for purposes of elementary education to purposes of secondary education. That they have not often used those powers has been mainly on account of the local opposition which such a proposal almost invariably encounters; and I do not know of any reason why a Government Department are less likely to receive local opposition to their proposals than the Charity Commissioners. But I am advised that the most rev. Prelate is not quite accurate in describing the Charity Commission as a judicial body, and that their functions are in reality neither legal nor judicial, but almost entirely administrative. I am also informed that the notion that the functions of the Charity Commission are of a judicial character is solely derived from the fact that they have inherited certain administrative powers which were formerly exercised by the Lord Chancellor, but that it is not accurate to describe them as of a judicial or a semi-judicial character. The most rev. Prelate referred, as many others have done, to the consultative committee. As to the many points connected with that committee, I trust your Lordships will be disposed to postpone any detailed explanation until the Committee stage of the Bill. I may say, however, that a sufficient indication of the position of the consultative committee, and the duties to be entrusted to it, is given by the terms of the Bill. But we do not propose that this committee should, as to its constitution, have a statutory character. It is to be the creation of the Minister, who will be responsible for its selection except so far that two-thirds of it is to be representative of educational institutions. Its duties are to be such, and no other, as the Minister who is responsible entrusts to it; and nothing which the consultative committee can do will relieve the Minister of any responsibility for any action it may take. As to an idea of the character of the duties which may be usefully entrusted to it, that will be better given in the Committee stage of the Bill. But I may say at once that there would be insurmountable difficulties in the way of giving to the constitution of the consultative committee any statutory character. I think the most reverend Prelate would like that there should be some security in it of representatives of denominational schools. I know that an attempt will be made to include upon it representatives of the interests of female teachers. If we were to attempt to insert in the Bill any directions more precise than at present exist as to the constitution of this council, I believe we should have pages of Amendments dealing with it placed upon the Paper. Clause 5 of the Bill, which directs that certain Orders proposed to be made under the Bill shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament, refers solely to those Orders in Council by which certain powers are usually transferred from the Science and Art Department to the Education Board or from the Charity Commissioners to the new Board; but these Orders do not contemplate in any way what the most reverend Prelate had in his mind in regard to schemes now made by the Charity Commission. I have now referred to the important subjects to which attention has been called in the course of this discussion, and I shall not detain your Lordships longer than to express my satisfaction at the generally favourable reception that this Measure, small as I admit it is, has met with from those who are interested in it.

Question put.

Bill read a second time.


When will the Committee Stage be taken?


I will put it down for to-morrow week.