§ [SECOND READING. FIRST DAY'S DEBATE.]
§ Ordered of the Day for the Second Reading read.
*THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, no one can regret more than I do that your Lordships should have to discuss so important a measure, on which a large number of your Lordships are eminently well qualified to express an 1191 opinion, within a time which I am afraid will be so limited, unless, indeed, any prolongation of the session were contemplated, which would, I fear, cause serious inconvenience to many of your Lordships, and at the same time involve very serious and grave disturbance of the legislative work of next session. The time before the end of the session is now limited, but I do not think that the inconvenience your Lordships must feel can be imputed to the Government. This Bill has occupied in the other House a length of time almost equal to that ever devoted to any measure, and has occupied in Committee more time than any measure ever submitted to Parliament. The Education Act of 1870 occupied in all twenty-two days in the House of Commons. The home Rule Bill of 1893 occupied seventy-eight days, of which forty-six days were devoted to the Committee stage; and the present Bill has occupied fifty-eight days, of which no fewer than forty-six were devoted to discussing the details of the Bill, besides two days on which the financial Resolutions were under discussion. If any blame can be attributed to the Government for the shortness of time allowed to your Lordships, it is only that they did not resort at an earlier period to those drastic measures which were eventually necessary. In the case of the Home Rule Bill of 1893 closure by compartments was resorted to after twenty-eight days in Committee, whereas in the present case that Resolution was not moved until the Bill had occupied thirty-nine days. The Government were extremely unwilling to resort to any measure of this kind on a Bill of this importance, and it will be admitted that they extended forbearance to the utmost limit.
The Minister who is in charge of a Bill coming from the other House labours under a disadvantage. There is no discussion of such a Bill in this House on the First Reading, and he is compelled in moving the Second Reading to combine such explanation as to the structure and provisions of the Bill as may be necessary with such arguments as he may think necessary in support of the principles of the Bill. I feel that it will be difficult for me, with due regard to the time and patience of your Lordships, to combine these two somewhat different duties on the present occasion. shall 1192 assume, therefore, that during the protracted discussions on the Bill in another place and in the country most of your Lordships have made yourselves tolerably well acquainted with the main provisions of the Bill. It may be convenient, however, that I should very briefly review the previous legislative attempts of the Government and the position in which the comparative failure of those attempts, taken in conjunction with the important judicial decisions, placed the question, and also explain the reason why it has been deemed imperatively necessary by the Government to introduce a measure of so controversial a character, and one which has not only occupied a great part of the time of the other House, but has deprived your Lordships of almost any legislative work during the course of the present session.
The Bill which was introduced by the Government in 1896 provided that the Country Council or the County Borough Council, acting through the Education Committees, should be the education authority for the county or the borough. That authority was to exercise all the powers already possessed by counties and boroughs under the Technical Instruction Acts, and those powers were to be considerably extended, inasmuch as they were to relate not merely to technical or manual instruction, so called, but also to secondary education generally. As to elementary education, the Bill provided that no new School Boards were to be formed, and that if a School Board were otherwise required, or in a School Board wished to be dissolved, or if a School Board were defaulted under the Act of 1870, the new authority was to take the place of the School Board. It contained provisions for transferring from the Education Department and from the Science and Art Department some of the powers exercised by those Departments to the new authority. It also provided a special aid grant for necessitous schools, and the organisation of associations of schools which was adopted in a subsequent Act, was then for the first time suggested. The Bill, as regards educational administration, was therefore based upon one of the main principles of the present Bill, in as much as it indicated municipal councils as the authorities for the future for secondary and elementary 1193 education, although the Bill of 1896 left the application of that principle to be adopted in a gradual, tentative, and permissive fashion. The history of that Bill is well known to your Lordships. Amongst other opposition, it met with vehement opposition from the non-county boroughs, and after it had been discussed for a short time in Committee, it was found necessary to drop it. The following year two measures were passed—the Voluntary Schools Act and a measure for increasing the grant which had been given in 1870 to certain School Board districts. Both were financial measures, the one intended to relieve the voluntary schools from the intolerable strain of poverty, and the other to relieve the oppressive burden of the rates in some of the poorer districts. Neither of these measures professed to do anything to improve the machinery of education generally. In the following year the Board of Education Bill was introduced into this House, and it was passed in a modified form in the year after by Parliament. That Bill united two educational Departments, which had been independent of each other, in one central authority. It also contained powers for transferring from the Charity Commissioners all the powers that were deemed necessary in relation to education to the new authority. The Bill of 1896 had not included any attempt to reorganise the central authority, and the Government felt that any attempt to deal with the problems raised by that Bill ought to be preceded by a thorough reorganisation of the two education departments. That reorganisation is still to a certain degree incomplete. It must necessarily be a work of time to combine two great Departments of the Government with separate staffs, separate habitations, and separate and distinct official positions. The complete amalgamation of these two Departments cannot be effected until it is possible to bring them under one roof, or until their permanent administration is controlled by men who have had some experience of both branches of the subject. The reorganisation, therefore, is still to a certain degree incomplete. But I do not think it is possible to exaggerate the importance of the principle which was contained in that Act. It is a strange thing that it could 1194 so long have been thought possible to carry on the work of education under two independent Departments.
There is, and there must always be, a certain distinction between elementary and secondary education. That distinction is recognised in our legislation. One form of education is made compulsory and free, while the other is not compulsory and is not necessarily gratuitous. Of the children in this country there has always been a very large number who would not go beyond the elementary stage of education, but it should undoubtedly be one object, at least, of a system of national education that the means should be provided by which the more intelligent pupils could obtain more advanced education. The schools, moreover, should be so organised as to make the transition not difficult but easy. I have said it was a strange idea that schools attended by young children should be under one department, and the schools of elder children under a separate and distinct department. That unwise and unpractical separation has been, so far as lagislation can do it, removed by the Board of Education Act as regards central administration. But that distinction still remains in regard to our local administration of education, and it is one of the objects of the present Bill to remove it. The Bill of 1900, which I introduced into this House, was entitled "a Bill to make better provision to enable Councils and other local authorities to aid forms of education not being elementary." The Bill was discussed in this House, was read a second time, but was never considered in the other House. Indeed, it was intended rather to indicate the proposals of the Government, and to give and opportunity for the discussion of them in the country, than to effect immediate legislation. That Bill, as a matter of fact, was largely discussed by County Councils and other educational authorities during the subsequent recess, and, so far as County Councils and Municipal Councils are concerned, it met with a very considerable amount of support. The Bill introduced in the following year in the House of Commons was based on very similar lines. It related solely to education other than elementary, it being intended late to add powers relating to elementary education. That Bill was read a second time in the House of Commons by a very large majority, but after a certain amount of discussion 1195 in Committee it was dropped. One Clause only, that relating to the situation produced by the Cockerton judgment, was enacted at a later period of the session.
In the meantime, while these legislative proceedings were going on, a judicial inquiry had taken place, and judicial decisions had been given which had consequences almost as important as any that have been brought about by legislation. Ever since 1870, in the absence of sufficient legislative provisions for secondary education, School Boards had gradually been establishing schools and giving courses of instruction for older children, and even for adults, which went far beyond anything which by any construction could be called elementary education. The Act of 1870 had strictly limited the powers of the Shool Boards to the provision of elementary schools, but the School Boards had not, I think, without the connivance, or perhaps even the encouragement, of the Education Department established higher grade schools, schools of science and of art, and pupil teachers' centres, where was given instruction which was, or professed to be, of a secondary character. As was inevitable, these schools were found to come into competition, not only with private institutions but with institutions which had been either founded or assisted by another set of public authorities whose powers were derived under the Technical Instruction Acts. Sooner or later this question was bound to come before the Courts, and when it did there could be but one answer—the answer contained in the Cockerton judgment. In this way, two or three years ago a large number of schools, some of which may have been superfluous, some of which may have been inefficient, and some of which may have been unsuitable to the wants of the locality, but still in which a large number of children and young men and women were receiving an instruction which they, or their parents, considered of value, were threatened with immediate or summary extinction. The position, therefore, at the commencement of the present year was this—the Government had attempted to deal with the whole question comprehensively, but in a tentative and gradual manner. They had then attempted to deal with it partially. They had suc- 1196 ceeded in organising the central administration; they had failed to give a similar organisation to local administration. They had given a certain amount of relief to voluntary schools and to certain ratepayers in the poorer districts. They had succeeded in making some of the elmentary schools more efficient, but not to an adequate extent, and they had altogether failed in making adequate provision for either the organisation or the supply of secondary education throughout the whole country. The effect of this comparative failure, and of the judicial decision to which I have referred, was not only that we failed to make that educational progress which we desired, but we stood, in the absence of some further effort, to incur the risk of actual educational retrogression.
Legislation, then, had become imperative. Both Parties in the State were committed to it. Eight years ago the last Government appointed a Commission designed to inquire into the best method of establishing a well-organised system of secondary education in England. We were ourselves committed by our previous attempts. The problem had become more urgent, and its settlement incapable of further delay. The only question was whether further legislation should be of a partial and incomplete character, based on the impossible and unscientific idea of a hard-and-fast line being drawn between secondary and elementary education, and of a distribution of local powers based upon that distinction, or whether the time had not now come, after a lapse of more than thirty years, for a complete and general review of the system which has been created by the Act of 1870 and the amending Acts, and by the series of Technical Instruction Acts. We had to consider whether the time had not come when an attempt should be made to place our national education on some intellgible and rational basis. We might again have attempted to deal with the question in some hand-to-mouth fashion, and find some escape from our immediate difficulties. We might, as some have urged us to do, have proposed a kind or permanent Cockerton Act, which would have legalised the proceedings which School Boards had, with the best intentions, but, as it proved, illegally, been carrying on. We might, as the same 1197 time, have further developed the powers of municipal authorities in respect of technical or secondary education. But if we had done that we should have established more firmly two authorities, each charged with important duties, possessing important powers, and disposing of large resources, to do the same work, probably to hamper each other in the discharge of that work. Partial legislataion of this sort might have been a tempting course for a Government which had already to a certain extent burnt its fingers over the education question, and which was fully aware of the great difficulties attending any comprehensive attempt to deal with the whole subject.
My Lords, fortunately, as I think, there wee two insuperable objections to any such course as that. The first was our educational conscience, which told us that any such course would be fundamentally unsound, and would, in the long run, tend rather to aggravate than to remove or diminish the existing evils; and the second was the conviction that we entertained of the fixed resolution of a very large number of our own supporters that no final settlement, or even temportary settlement, of the education question would be acceptable to them which did not do something to increase the efficiency and secure the permanent efficiency of that class of elementary schools in the existence of which they were deeply interested. In those circumstances we resolved on what is admitted to be a bold and comprehensive measure. Indeed, it has been described as a revolutionary measure. I will not admit the justice of that description. If we had had to deal only with one form of education possibly there might have been some foundation for such a charge, but dealing, as we had to deal, with the whole subject, and in the educational position which I have attempted to relate, I should prefer to describe the measure rather as the natural sequel and offspring of the great Act of 1870 and of the Technical Instruction Acts which have followed it. We had then to consider first what should be the education authority which we proposed to establish. For reasons which I have indicated, it was impossible for us to continue the dual organisations of School Boards and municipal councils. Our choice lay between universal School Boards or universal magnified School Boards, with a new ad hoc authority and 1198 the existing municipal institutions, charged with the duty of superintending local government and local finance. Either alternative which we could have adopted would have involved the disestablishment of one existing authority. If strong opposition has been offered to the disestablishment of School Boards it is not probable that we should have met with less opposition on attempting to deprive county or borough councils of the powers which they are exercing under the Technical Instruction Acts or on attempting to put an end to the work which is going on under their Technical Committees. It is quite true that some of these bodies have protested against the duties which this Bill will impose upon them, but I wonder what the West Riding County Council, for instance, would have said if we had proposed to deprive it of its powers under the Technical Instruction Acts, or to put a stop to the great work which its Technical Committee is carrying on at the present time.
I do not think that I need trouble your Lordships with any elaborate arguments on the subject of the creation of a new ad hoc authority, because I perceive that the authority which we propose, and its suitableness for the purpose, have only been seriously questioned by those who are opposed to our measure on other grounds. It is alleged that the Bill does not establish a single authority, or the unity of administration which has been claimed for it. It is said that we shall still have in certain areas separate authorities controlling elementary and secondary education, and exercising concurrent control. To a certain extent I admit that that is true. But if it is true, it is due rather to our existing local government arrangements than to any defect in the principle of this Bill. If it is a blot on the Bill, I contend that, at all events, the Bill is and inprovement on the existing state of things. I will trouble your Lordships with an instance taken from the county with which, naturally, I am best acquainted—the county of Derbyshire. We have in Derbyshire three non-county boroughs, which are the principal areas in which the Bill fails to establish a single education authority. Two of them have School Boards—Chesterfield and IIkeston; the 1199 third, Glossop, is without a School Board. In one, therefore, we have the County Council and the Borough Council exercising concurrent powers over technical education, and we have no elementary education authority at all. In the other two, the same bodies exercise concurrent control over technical instruction, and we have a third authority, differently elected, controlling the elementary schools. In none of these is it possible for the borough to frame for itself any complete scheme for its elementary and secondary schools. In the first instance, because there is no body entitled to speak in the name of secondary schools or to control secondary schools; in the other case, it would be most difficult, if not impossible, to frame such a scheme, because the body which controls elementary education being differently elected and having no financial responsibility, would probably have ideas very different from the County or Borough Councils as to the organisation of its higher grade and evening continuation schools. There would be the greatest probability of friction, of overlapping, and of bad administration, whereas, under the present Bill, there would be in each of these non-county boroughs a Municipal Council which would have full powers over all kinds of schools existing within their area, and full powers of organising a complete scheme of education for that area. I admit that in these boroughs there is still a possibility of friction on account of the concurrent powers of the County and Borough Councils over secondary education. But, although there is a possibility, there is a very small probability of such friction, because both these bodies being elected in a similar manner, and both having full financial responsibility to the ratepayers as well as educational responsibility, there will be every inducement to both of them by arrangement to make the greatest use possible of schools and to work together in one general scheme.
I next call attention to an important amendment which was introduced in he Bill in Committee in the House of Commons. The Bill as introduced provided for the appointment, by scheme, of committees through which the Councils should act. Clause 18 in the present 1200 Bill still provides for the appointment of such committees. It directs that all educational matters shall stand referred to such committees. It directs the Councils to receive and consider their Reports, but in urgent cases it relieves them form that obligation. But according to the terms of the Clause, although the Councils are bound to consult the committee, they have full powers to act as they please without reference to any other body appointed by scheme or otherwise. That Amendment may be considered open to some objection on educational grounds because the expert influence upon the authority is some-what diminished by this Amendment. It has been inserted, however, to make absolutely clear the complete independence of the popular body, which will, as the Bill now stands, be subject to no interference by any other body appointed by scheme or otherwise, except in certain cases subject to the control of the Board of Education itself. This Amendment, I believe, is admitted by the opponents of the Bill to be a considerable practical improvement in making perfectly clear the reality of the control which will be exercised by the popularly appointed local authority over the secular instructon in all schools, voluntary as well as Board.
Another Amendment which I may refer to is one relating to Wales. In the Bill as introduced the county governing bodies under the Welsh Intermediate Act were to be the Educational Committees for the Welsh counties in place of those which were to be appointed by scheme in the English counties. But, as your Lordships are aware, the Welsh Members have been the most strenuous opponents of this Bill, and it was at their instance that this provision was omitted; and now in the Bill as amended the county governing bodies under the Welsh Intermediate Act are to be abolished, and the committees framed liked the committees for all English counties will be not only the education Committees for the purpose of this Bill, but also the governing bodies under the Welsh Intermediate Act. This Amendment, introduced at the instance of the opponents of the Bill, shows, in my opinion, that in their judgment the authority of the committees appointed 1201 by the Bill will be more effective, and will be better constituted for educational purposes than the former governing bodies, which up to now have, it is supposed, possessed the complete confidence of the Welsh people.
I come now, my Lords, to the powers which are to be conferred on the new local authorities with respect to secondary education. The Councils will have all the existing powers and the considerably extended powers which they now possess under the Technical Instruction Acts. Their powers will not be limited to technical and manual instruction, but they extend to the whole range of secondary education. The second clause of the Bill which deals with this part of the subject has been considerably strengthened in the Committee in the other House. In the previous Bills and in this Bill as introduced, those powers were permissive only. In the present Bill a more mandatory form has been adopted, and specific directions are given to county authorities to consider the educational needs of the area, and to take steps to provide education other than elementary, and they are to do this in consulation with the Board of Education, which, under the Board of Education Act, has a Department of secondary education. The rating powers of the County Councils have been enlarged to the extent of empowering them to impose a two-penny rate. With the assent of the Local Government Board that limit may be raised, while for the county boroughs there is no rating limit at all. As to the powers of the new authority over elementary education, here, again, the new authority will have all the powers of School Boards where they now exist, and the same powers in districts where no elementary education authority exists at all. They will also have large additional powers as to the provision of schools. No School Board can now provide new schools unless there is an actual deficiency of school accommodation. They can take no account of the denominational or undenominational character of the school; they can take no account of the character or wishes of the population; the line is a hard and fast one. Where there is a sufficient number of places in denominational schools the School Board has no power to provide a new school. The 1202 population may be mainly Nonconformist, but if there is a sufficiency of places in the denominational schools the School Board has no power, even if it thinks it necessary, to supply new schools. And conversely, if there is a sufficient number of school places in board schools, Churchmen or denominations are not permitted to provide a new school in which distinctive religious doctrine can be taught. That limitation is removed by the Bill, and under certain conditions the local authority will be able, in a case where it considers it necessary, to provide a school, which shall be under the Cowper-Temple Clause, although there may be no deficiency in accommodation. Similarly, Churchmen and denominations will have the liberty to provide their own schools, even though there may be a sufficient amount of accommodation in the existing schools.
Objections have been taken to these provisions on account of their alleged tendency to multiply the number of small schools. These objections, I think, ought in the main to be dealt with in Committee, but it cannot be doubted that the principle of the Clause is essentially just, and it gives a power to the local education authority which ought to be inherent—namely, that of providing not only a sufficient number of places, but the power to provide such places as the authorities may consider best adapted to the wants and necessities of the people. Besides being just, it goes a long way to remove a religious grievance. It is the grievance that the Nonconformist is obliged to send his child to a denominational school because there is no other accessible, and the grievance felt by the Churchman of being compelled to pay rates for board schools, and who cannot, if he wishes it, find a school in which the children can receive the religious instruction which he desires.
I now come to what is probably the most controverted provision of the Bill—that which deals with the maintenance of the schools. The local authority, under this Bill, unlike the School Board, will have cognisance of and will be responsible for the efficiency of not the board schools only but of every school within its area. If the authority is to be responsible for the efficiency of all the schools, it must have the means of securing that efficiency. That principle, I think, can hardly be questioned by anybody. How is that 1203 efficiency to be secured? There is no difficulty as regards the rate-provided schools. The difficulty arises in that type of school which has hitherto been called the voluntary schools—schools which have been built mainly by means of private funds, and which have hitherto been partially maintained from private sources. The difficulty we have to deal with is how the efficiency of this class of school should be secured. No increase in the amount of the grant from the Exchequer would accomplish it. The Bill does provide for a very considerable addition to the Exchequer grant. It provides an additional grant, which, I believe, has been estimated to amount to very nearly £1,500,000. That amount will be distributed to the different districts, in a large degree, in proportion to the necessity of the district. That is to say, a large part of it will be distributed on a basis ascertained by a comparison of the rateable value of the district and the number of children to be educated in it. I do not think I need discuss these provisions at much length, because it is obviously a portion of the Bill with which this House is not able to interfere. But the cost of education will still naturally vary in different localities, and it is the principle of the Bill—and I think the right principle—that in all cases there will be some margin of the cost which will remain to be locally provided. What then is to be done in those districts where the voluntary subscription will not suffice to meet the cost of this margin that will remain to be provided? Either we must give to the local authority power to acquire compulsorily those schools which, for want of funds, are inefficient, or we must give them power to close them and to replace them by others, or, as the Bill proposed to do, we must require the local authority to find the funds to make them efficient. Are we to say to the supporters of these schools, "Your schools have done their work. There was a time when they were the only schools which provided any education in the country, but they are now superannuated and they must go, or if they remain it must be under the condition of the surrender of the one object for which they were mainly instituted."
1204 I know there are many conscientious and religious men to whom a denominational school, especially if it is supported out of public funds, whether those funds be derived form the taxes or the rates, is an abomination. But what we have to consider is whether that is the opinion of the majority of the country. Certainly it is not the opinion of His Majesty's Government, and we do not believe it is the opinion of the majority of the country. And we have, therefore, deliberately adopted the principle that, subject to conditions which we believe to be adequate to secure their efficiency and all necessary popular control of these schools, they shall remain a part of the educational provision of the country, and that they shall not, at the same time, be compelled to sacrifice their definite religious character. This is the question which has now been debated in Parliament and the country for the last eight months, but I am not sure that even now we know distinctly what is the opinion of the Opposition on this question, vital and fundamental as it is. I have referred in a speech in the country to some speeches made by responsible leaders of the Opposition, and as they were not made in Parliament, but in the country, I may refer to them here. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman at the Alexandra Palace used these words—Let me at once lay down this as my opinion, that it is sheer nonsense to talk of a denominational system. We must have a national system, and a denominational system can never be a national system. The two terms are contradictory. A denominational system can never be made a national system with all the restrictions and disguises which may be put into it by Act of Parliament.Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman made great play on this occasion on the antithesis of a national and denominational system. I do not believe there is any antithesis whatever except verbal antithesis. But what is it exactly that he means? Does he say that the system which we propose under this Bill is a denominational system because we do not exclude from it the school which gives distinctive religious instruction? Does that make the whole scheme a denominational system? We might just as well say that it was an undenominational system, because schools which give only undenominational instruction are not excluded from the receipt of public funds. 1205 But the scope of these declarations was made rather more clear by Mr. Asquith, who followed him on the same occasion. Mr. Asquith said—It would, in my opinion, do no harm to the children of England, and it would wound the consciences of a very insignificant number of parents, if we confined the religious teaching in all our public elementary schools to those simple acts and truths which are the common heritage of Christianity.That is, I think, a tolerably clear declaration. In the opinion of Mr. Asquith, at all events, there is in the future to be a Cowper-Temple Clause for every public elementary school in the country. We know very well what the effect of this would be. We know that if we incorporated any such provision in our Bill as this it would have the effect of closing half the voluntary schools, if not all of them. It would involve the country in the expense of either compulsorily acquiring those schools or of building new schools to replace them, and we should be doing this at a cast which is differently estimated at a sum of from fifteen to twenty-five millions, and for the purpose of closing schools which are valued, and intensely valued, by a very large number of our fellow-countrymen, and which to a very much larger number still do not offer any offence whatever. I hope we shall hear, in the course of the discussions in this House, what is really the view which is taken on this question by the Opposition, and whether they are prepared to contend that what the country desires and that what they wish to enact is that for the future no denominational school should be admitted as part of our educational system.
I fully admit the perfect right of noble Lords opposite to criticise, and, if they think fit, to condemn as inadequate and insufficient, the provisions which we make for securing the efficiency and the public control of the schools which receive public assistance. I admit their right to criticise and condemn the securities which we concede to the managers of these schools for the retention of their religious character as unnecessary or excessive, but I think we have a right to know from what point of view these provisions are criticised, whether they are critics who accept, perhaps unwillingly but in good faith, the denominational schools as part of our educational system, 1206 or whether they are critics who are openly opposed to their retention in any form or shape. That is the main issue. All the rest of the discussion is, in my opinion, mere detail. I shall not now enter more fully into the provisions. Every man who takes an interest in the subject knows what are the conditions we require from the managers, and what are the concessions we are prepared to make them. Starting from the principle that we desire to keep, and do not desire to get rid of, denominational schools, we have endeavoured to make the best conditions, the best compromise—if you will, the best bargain—we could suggest, and which, in our opinion, will be fair to the State and just to the managers of voluntary schools. Starting from that principle, starting from that point, we do not believe you can suggest any conditions more fair to the State on the one hand and to managers on the other. The concessions are not all on one side. There is no doubt the Church and denominations under this Bill will gain a great deal, that is to say, if they desire, as I believe they do desire, to remain in the forefront of educational work. They will, no doubt, be relieved from the task that falls to the lot of too many of having to make bricks without straw; they will be relieved from the humiliating task of having to beg alms for the means of performing what they believe to be a national as well as a sacred duty. But many of them feel that that relief is dearly bought by the conditions imposed. We have heard something of this in the other House, and no doubt we shall hear more here. Ministers, the clergy of the Established Church or of the Roman Catholic Church, will have to surrender under this Bill much of the freedom, much of the sole authority, much of the power they have hitherto enjoyed. They will have to surrender their control over secular instruction in the schools, to which many of them may attach importance from a moral point of view hardly second to that which attaches to their control over religious instruction. Even in the matter of religious instruction their power will be no longer absolute, but will be shared with popularly-elected joint managers. The boon which this Bill gives them will, to many of them, not be an unmixed benefit.
1207 As to the Nonconformist bodies, I know they do not welcome this Bill and that many of them are bitterly opposed to it; but I ask whether they would have been less hostile to any measure proposed if it continued the existence of denominational schools. This Bill does not strengthen clerical control in the slightest degree; on the contrary, it diminishes it; this Bill does not weaken public control over any school; on the contrary, it strengthens it. It brings it to bear in schools where hitherto it has not existed at all. This Bill contains nothing that aggravates a Nonconformist grievance; the real grievance is that it does not extinguish Church schools. They hoped, many of them, either to have these destroyed by legislation or starved out of existence. My Lords, that is a grievance we cannot undertake to remedy, but there are many grievances, of which we have heard much in the past, which by this Bill will be either removed or greatly mitigated. The Bill opens a way by which, as I have already shown, an undenominational school may be established in any district where, in the opinion of the local authority, such a school is required. It enables the establishment by the local authority of training colleges, or institutions in connection with training colleges, where Nonconformists can be trained for the teaching profession, subject to no religious test. The Bill removes the bar which has hitherto stood in the way of access by Nonconformists to the position of teachers. I ask whether it is nothing to Nonconformists that they, for the first time, are given a voice, perhaps a controlling power, in the management of secular instruction in every school. Is it nothing to them to secure efficient secular teaching in what may be the only available school to which they can send their children, without being required to submit to religious instruction?
I submit to your Lordships that this Bill gives effect to three main principles. In the first place, it co-ordinates education under similar homogeneous authorities, if not a single authority. In the next place, it imposes on these authorities, and gives to these authorities the duty and the means for securing efficiency in every school. Thirdly, it preserves the existence of those schools in which definite religious doctrine is 1208 taught. As to the first two of these principles which the Bill contains, I do not think there will be any serious difference of opinion among experts and educational authorities that the Bill marks a substantial if not a complete advance. As to the third, I admit there is room for difference of opinion, it is a question rather of opinion than one that can be met by abstract argument. If the Bill were defeated, I admit that, with a change in the political position, you may succeed in forcing on the country either a secular system of education which it detests, or a colorless religious education to which it is indifferent, but if you are going to wait for this you will be delaying for an indefinite time the accomplishment of the first two objects; you will be sending forth to the business of their lives, to the work of the country, thousands, and hundreds of thousands, of children who but for your action might have received a better and more practical training. I think your Lordships would be wise in securing these objects, which are within your grasp, and in refusing to postpone them to that distant day when, perhaps, we may all be agreed, or at least be content, to forego religious teaching. Thanking your Lordships for the patience with which you have listened to me, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Duke of Devonshire.)
§ *EARL SPENCER
My Lords, I rise under somewhat difficult circumstances to follow the noble Duke the Lord President of the Council. The noble Duke has made a very clear, and I will venture to say, a very able speech, going over the whole question of education as it has been before us in recent years, and I may, in a few sentences, refer to what he said in his opening remarks in reference to the late period—I might say, the short period—in which we have to review this enormous subject. The noble Duke said no blame for this rested upon His Majesty's Government, but I cannot entirely agree with him. Everybody knew this Bill would arouse very strong feelings in another place, and that it would probably be debated 1209 almost word by word; and yet His Majesty's Government, instead of making this the first business of the session, spent a long time in discussing Rules of Procedure. I quite admit that His Majesty's Government after that were not responsible for another delay which took place — the delay caused by His Majesty's Coronation, so happily consummated after great vicissitudes.
In the interesting historical reference to education which the noble Duke made there is only one point on which I would differ from him, in anticipation of what the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack may say with regard to the Bill of 1897. The noble Duke said that was purely a financial Bill. We on this side of the House did not consider it a purely financial Bill. We considered that that Bill in a very material point affected the settlement of 1870. Now, my Lords, I shall try to answer the challenge of the noble Duke when he said he hoped that in this House we should have reasons given by the Opposition for the opposition which we intend to give to this Bill.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I do not think that is exactly what I said. I said I hoped we should hear exactly what was the position the noble Lords opposed to us.
§ *EARL SPENCER
I do not see a great deal of difference, between us as to what the noble Duke said, but I am ready to accept what the noble Duke says, and in the course of my speech I hope I shall be able to indicate the position which we take up with regard to this measure. I wish we had not to go into this question at this moment. I stand here to-night in an unusually difficult position. We have not had the usual interval of a week or a fortnight between the Third Reading and the passing of the Bill in the other place. Last night only was this Bill passed in the House of Commons. I am not blaming His Majesty's Government for proposing the Second Reading to-night, for we on this side of the House were a party to it, and we see the necessity of taking the Second Reading to-night. But we are put in a peculiarly difficult position as we have to make speeches on the Second Reading of the Bill immediately 1210 after the eloquent speeches which have been made in another place on the Third Reading. At the same time this is so great a subject, and one that affects so fundamentally the condition of this country and its population—for it affects the whole intelligence and instruction of the people, without which they will not be able to do their duty to the State or to complete with other nations—that it is of the utmost importance that we should give our opinion fully upon it.
This measure deals, as your Lordships know, with two subjects, with secondary education and with primary education. We all know that there have been various attempts of late yearas to deal with secondary education, and not only within the last few years. I am not overstepping the mark when I say I believe that for the last fifty years all great educational experts have declared the absoulute necessity of dealing fully and ably and thoroughly with this great subject. We have experts like great subject. We have experts like Matthew Arnold; we have another great expert in a prominent place in this House, who, when he was only Dr. Temple, was one of the greatest educational reformers that we had. We are proud to think that he will be here tonight to give his opinion on this Bill. All these men of great ability and great experience and knowledge on this subject have been calling out for prompt and thorough dealing with this question. Now this Bill does not do so. It is a Bill of twenty-six Clauses, and only four, or perhaps five, deal with secondary education; all the rest deal with primary education. I do not say it requires a long string of Clauses to deal widely and wisely with a particular subject, but in my opinion the Clauses that have been introduced here are most inadequate for dealing with this great subject. The noble Duke has referred to this, and he has told us of various points upon which there is some expansion of power for dealing with the subject. He says that Town Councils may now have and unlimited rate to deal with it. The County Councils may only do so with the permission of the Local Government Board; they are limited in their rate to 2d. in the £. The noble Duke spoke of greater mandatory power. I confess, in reading the Clause, I can hardly see there is much of a mandate 1211 with regard to supplying the deficiency in secondary education. There is no Clause such as we have had in various other Bills that have been brought before us making it imperative that all the money called whisky money should be bestowed on technical education.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
They cannot spend it on anything else. If they do not spend it they must keep it in reserve.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
Let me read the Clause—And for that purpose shall apply all or so much as they deem necessary of the residue under Section I of the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act, 1890, and shall carry forward for the like purpose any balance thereof which may remain unexpended.
§ *EARL SPENCER
I stand corrected by the noble Duke. I am glad that that should be the case. Now, my Lords, it also deals with the question of boarding schools for secondary education and day schools. I hardly think the provisions that are made for religious teaching under the Conscience Clause where residence is concerned are satisfactory. They are more satisfactory with regard to day schools. Now this part of the Bill which relates to secondary education deals with all continuation schools and evening schools. But there is another subject which is of still greater importance. It also deals with training colleges. The question of training colleges is one of supreme importance to education in this country. So far as I understand, the Bill gives power to the county authorities to have a rate for the purpose of establishing these training colleges. May I for a moment dwell upon this question? I believe that at this moment there are altogether forty-four training colleges, with 4,084 students. Of these thirty-one belong to the Church of England, three to the Roman Catholics, two to the Wesleyans, and eight to the British and Foreign Schools Society and undenominational bodies. The Church of England 1212 have 2,780 students, the Roman Catholics 271, the Wesleyans 231, and the British and Foreign Society 802. This number is perfectly inadequate for the requirements of education at the present moment. We read in the reports of the inspectors that these training colleges are by no means sufficient; that they are not always efficient in their teaching, and in equipment they are deficient. I should like to read the report of Mr. Rankine, who is, I think, the principal inspector of His Majesty's schools, in regard to this matter. He says—The number of our training colleges is insufficient. Many teachers would gladly avail themselves of the advantage of college life, but there is no room. Nonconformists especially are at a disadvantage …. Another undenominational college for women seems urgently needed. A trained teacher to every 100 children in average attendance does not seem extravagant, but to meet such a demand 46,000 teachers will be required, or 10,000 more than we possess. At the present rate of increase it would be twenty-five years before this modest requirement could be satisfied, even assuming that the average attendance of 4,600,000 children remains, which, it is to be hoped, will do no such thing.That is a very unfortunate history of the present condition of the training colleges, and I doubt extremely whether the provisions for secondary education in this Bill will be able to meet this great demand. No doubt I shall be told, and told properly, that there will be a great deal done by grants from the Exchequer. But the Bill rather indicates that these training colleges are to be supported by the county rates. Although I am not myself so anxious to increase Parliamentary grants, I cannot help thinking that the Exchequer should find the greater part of the funds for training colleges, and I will give you a reason. Will there be any county willing to go to a very heavy expenditure out of the rates with the chance of the teachers going out of their area? Unless this is done chiefly by the Government—I should like to see them provide a large number of these training colleges—very little will be done to remedy this great deficiency of teachers.
Now I turn to what is really, in our opinion, and perhaps in that of your Lordships, the principal part of the Bill—namely, primary education. I at once say that one of the reasons why I oppose strongly this Bill, and am quite ready to 1213 see it thrown out, an event which is not very likely, is that I feel the greatest possible objection to many of the provisions in it, and I fear that many of those provisions, instead of improving education, will have the effect of driving back the education of the country. First, as to the question of the School Boards in the country. I greatly deplore that this part of the Act of 1870, which has done an enormous amount of good work for the public, is to be done away with. These School Boards have raised the standard of education to an enormous degree, not only in the schools under the Boards, but, by the competition which they have developed in other schools, they have caused great improvement in the education given in the schools in all parts of the country. But what does this Bill do? I will take the first part, which refers to towns. The Bill places the power in the hands of the Municipal Council, which is to be the local education authority. I have the greatest respect and admiration for the Municipal Councils. They do their work efficiently, admirably. They have a very large amount of important work to do, and their operations are carried out all over the country for the benefit of the citizens. But they have more than enough to do, and I think they ought not to have the work which belongs to the School Boards thrust upon them. I believe that will place them in great difficulties indeed. There is another reason—I value extremely the manner in which these board schools are managed. They are managed by persons who are specially elected on account of their interest in and knowledge of education and everything connected with this great subject. All this is to be handed over to the Councils, which are necessarily not so competent to deal with it. Education will lose, it must lose, a great deal by not having these experienced men, who are special experts, at the head of affairs, managing education. If we are to get the best education we must see that a high standard is maintained at headquarters, and a living interest kept vigorous in the locality. Those who have hitherto occupied this position have realised these expectations. They took a living interest in the progress of education in the locality. 1214 The change in the management proposed under this Bill will not enable these schools to be conducted as they have hitherto been carried on, there will not be that support given in the future in the management of education as has been given in the past, and the locality will lose very considerably in the interest which will be displayed in education, not having the primary right to elect those who are to manage education.
Now what is the County Council, outside boroughs, to do? Its members will have to delegate their duties to committees. Well, in towns that may not be very difficult, though I object to the co-option for members. I prefer direct election for those who are to manage the education interests of a locality. Control will be comparatively easy in the towns, where people can get about by means of trams and carriages in a few minutes, but it will be difficult when you come to the County Councils which will have to deal with large areas. I speak with some knowledge, for I have had a great deal to do with county work. I have been chairman of the Sessions and also a member and chairman of a County Council, and, therefore, I say that there will be an enormous difficulty in getting the work carried out in rural districts. We have very large districts in our county, which is seventy miles in length and where some of the villages, over 300 in number, lie at a great distance. It will be perfectly impossible for a County Council as the education authority to control the whole education of the county. What will the County Councils do? They are to appoint committees. In a Town Council the committee, or the majority of it, must consist of members of that body, but in the rural districts the County Council may abrogate that and have a committee consisting of persons who are not members of the Council. I object to that very much. You may have advisory committees in the various localities, and that will be still worse. These arrangements form, in my opinion, one of the great blots on the Bill, which directs that education is to be worked out of the rates and out of grants from the Exchequer. How would this work out. Practically, the popular representation is almost a sham. My belief is that these committees, 1215 instead of being representatives of the ratepayers and those most deeply interested, would be persons who had nothing to do with representation. It is not for the first time that I have said this. I have always said with regard to popular elementary education you will never get any satisfactory management unless you have some body smaller than the County Council and larger than the Parish Council to control it. It would be a very easy thing to have the election of the district educational committee carried on at the same time and with the same aids as the election for the District Council.
I come now to another matter which has been referred to by the noble Duke, the Boards of Management—I mean those authorities who are to manage the old voluntary schools, or the denominational schools, whichever you like to call them. There is the crux, I think, of the whole thing. Those persons who will manage the schools in the parish are those who are in constant touch with and nearest to the parents of the children. These are the most important persons in the management of the schools. How are they to be selected? I object to the plan proposed in the Bill. These persons will have the most serious part in managing the schools, and they will practically have the chief business of distributing enormous grants from the public Exchequer, as well as disposing of the money provided by the rates. It is of the utmost importance that real local control and management should be allowed where these enormous grants are to be given, but you place this power in hands where it should not be placed. I say that the principle here adopted is entirely wrong. Then the power given as to the appointment of the teachers is one to which I have the greatest objection. I object altogether to an official of the State—because these schools will be practically State schools—being placed under a religious disability. These school managers will never elect a Nonconformist to be a head teacher. They will always elect a churchman to be the head teacher in these schools. What does this religious test do? It not only limits competition and prevents the school getting the best man, but it reimposes a religious test which has been abolished elsewhere. This 1216 scheme, I am convinced, is viewed as most objectionable by the country and is resented among all the members of the Free Churches.
I presented a petition to-day from nearly all the Free Churches in the country against the Bill, and in that petition it is stated that 8,000,000 adherents of these Free Churches support the petition. Why is it that there is this great feeling against the Bill? The principal objection, I venture to say, is to voluntary school managers and the religious test placed upon teachers. It may be said that the educational authority has some voice in the matter; but it cannot interfere except on educational grounds. A teacher may be appointed who has high ritualistic views, and bring with him an atmosphere of religion which is hateful to the parents of the children in the parish many of whom may be members of the Anglican Church. There would be no redress. The education authority have no power whatever in the matter. There is one thing which has come out strongly in these discussions which I desire to bring before your Lordships. It is the absolute necessity of putting all primary schools in the country on an equal financial basis. We have now a law that all children must attend school. In some parts of the country, particularly in rural districts, the children are obliged to attend voluntary schools, which do not, like the board schools, give the best teaching under the best masters. Is it not very hard that the children should be compelled to go to these inferior schools—often the only schools in the parish—when their neighbours with whom they may have to compete in this world can go to good schools? I therefore believe it was absolutely necessary that a great change should be made, but I deny that if that change is to be made it should be made in a way which the Bill proposes. The noble Duke has challenged this Bench to express their opinion on the subject of religion instruction. I admit that the logical position would be that the State should pay for all secular education and that sects and private individuals should pay for religious instruction. I am afraid that, at the present moment, cannot be carried out. I myself am in favour of religious instruction, if not dogmatic instruction, being given in the schools of this country. I believe that is in consonance with the the wishes of parents 1217 and of the great multitude of the people of this country. I venture to think that School Boards have discharged this task in a highly efficient way, and we have the testimony on this point of the most reverend prelate who preceded the present Archbishop of Canterbury. The late Archbishop said, in 1893—We should get on a great deal faster with what we want to get on with if people would cease their futile denunciations of board schools. The Bishop of Durham has been carefully through the Board school of the Diocese of Durham, and he tells me that he is satisfied.And again in the following year the Primate said—I am persuaded that in a very great number of board schools there is very good religious teaching indeed. Those terrors of a polymorphous religion, in which a child is being taught in one standard by a Baptist, and in the next by a Congregationalist, and in the next by a Roman Catholic, and in the next by an Agnostic, do not exist. I do say that in the Board school teaching in London we have a very great amount of the knowledge of the Gospel, and a very great amount of that which is practically and really the teaching of the Church.I am quite satisfied with this teaching myself, I believe that dogmatic teaching, if the parents desire it, should be given out of school hours at home and in the Sunday school. I will go even further and say that under proper regulations dogmatic teaching might now, out of school hours, be taught in some of these very schools, and it should be taught in the Sunday schools.
As regards the Kenyon-Slaney Clause, I wish to say that if that is debated here I shall most strongly support his Majesty's Government, who I hope and believe will maintain the Clause. One of the weaknesses of the Church at the present moment is that there is a tendency in certain quarters to force the cleric and the pries over the individual independence of a religious man. I believe the Church would be much stronger if it could get more of the lay element into discussions and management. A very able and clever thing has been said by the Prime Minister about there being a party that wishes to make the school the annexe of the Church. The school is certainly the annexe of the home, and I think it is carrying things much too far to urge that the influence of the priest must be paramount in everything.
The noble Duke said he was not going to discuss at length the finances 1218 of the Bill, but we are entitled to refer to them. There has been an enormous change with regard to the finances of our primary schools in the last thirty years. In 1870 the percentage of income contributed by the Government to voluntary schools was only 34.7; in 1901 it was 78.2. That alone shows what an enormous change has taken place. I cannot help referring to a very able statement by Dr. Temple in the Report of the Royal Commission of 1888—The duty of providing and maintaining a good system of elementary education is essentially a local duty. The Central Government may aid in the discharge of this duty, but cannot undertake it alone. There is no security for efficiency without interested local supervision; there is no security for economy without the vigilance of those who bear a substantial share of the burden of the cost. We cannot recommend that, in any case, the grant for the Department shall exceed the amount provided on the spot. Nor is it, in our judgment, a sufficient plea for overriding this principle that people on the spot are unwilling to contribute enough. Their unwillingness is not good ground for calling on the nation at large to do the duty which ought to be done by themselves.I agree with this very clear Statement. Grants from the Exchequer over which the Exchequer has very little control, are often very extravagant and detrimental to the public interest. Local authorities have no interest in checking and controlling the expenditure, which consequently becomes enormous. As to the grant to voluntary schools in the past, I find that they may be calculated at about £3,346,148 annually This in future will be paid to the education authority. But the education authority will lose a certain amount, in respect of subscriptions, endowments, fees, and they will have to pay about £125,000 a year for the hire of schoolmasters' houses. That will come to omething over a million a year. But what of new grants, some of which were made quite recently and long after the Bill was launched in the House of Commons, amounting to something like £1,300,000? That leaves, therefore, a balance in the hands of the local authorities. But I venture to say that it will be necessary to level up the voluntary schools, and if they are levelled up to the efficiency of Board schools there will be a very 1219 large increase in the rate. I calculate that that rate will come to £1,500,000. That shows what an enormous sum is to be guarded and looked after. It is said that the Church has been very hardly treated. I cannot see that at all. I think the Church has a very good bargain. The Church gets relief from the rates and it gets a larger grant. The only condition is that it has to allow a certain number of persons to take part in the management. What will the Church have to do? It will receive a very considerable sum from various sources, as far as I can make out, something like £300,000. What will be the cost of repairs? So far as I understand, it will not amount to more than £150,000. Financially, therefore, the Church has a remarkably good bargain. Then they ask, "Are you going to take away altogether out denominational schools?" But I maintain that the children of the Church will be able to get their denominational education as well, after this change is made, as before, and that they would do so even if the management and control were more popular than they are under the Bill. The Church will get the schools at times when they are not being used for secular education, and it will get them also for Sunday schools. I consider that that is of the very greatest importance. We shall find, if we look at what the Nonconformists have done, that they have had quite as many or more children in their Sunday schools as the Church of England. I find that there are 2,222,890 children attending Church of England Sunday schools, and that there are 2,977,886 children attending Nonconformist Sunday schools. After this, while the Nonconformists will still have to find these Sunday schools themselves, the Church will have their Sunday schools provided for them.
I wish to appeal to the right rev. Bench and to all Churchmen on this Bill. I wish them to consider what I believe to be the grave position in which they are placed in this matter. I will venture to say that they are opposing a gigantic weight of opinion in this country. I presented to your Lordships at the opening of the sitting a very influential memorial from the leaders of the Free Churches, praying your Lordships to throw out the Bill to which 1220 they are so strongly opposed. They state that they have 8,000,000 adherents, making this is no transient opinion. It is a well-rooted, conscientious conviction. It will not pass away. If an appeal were made at this moment to the country, I cannot but feel confident as to the result. Will they, therefore, and will this House, pause for a moment, and hesitate before passing this measure? The time may come when others will sit on those benches. Is it likely that any of those who are in opposition now will be able to avoid dealing with this subject? My Lords, believing as I do in the injustice of the measure, and in the stimulus it will give, as I feel sure, to religious animosity and bitterness, I move that this Bill be read a second time this day two months.
To leave out 'now,' and add at the end of the motion, 'this day two months."—(Earl Spencer).
*THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I have listened with the closest attention to what has fallen from the noble Earl, and I do not question at all the ability with which he has advocated his view of this Bill. I have complaints to make against the Bill myself, and some of them relate to points which he considers give no ground for complaint. The main purposes of this Bill do not appear to be questioned at all, in this House at any rate, and I think with very good reason. For the main purposes of the Bill are, in the first place, the establishment of a uniform system, which shall handle all the different branches of education on one thoroughly consistent plan; in the second place, the introduction of what has been a deficiency in our system for a longer time than I like to think of—that is, the organization of secondary education; and, in the third place, to redress and injustice of which the Church has complained for some time—namely, that the burden put upon her supporters is not fair. The subscribers to the Church schools everywhere find themselves in this position. They have to pay subscriptions for their own schools, which could not be maintained without subscriptions, and they have also to pay rates for Board schools. I think 1221 it is very difficult to maintain that that is just. The rates paid for the schools constitute a demand upon all alike, and whether a man approves of the school or not he has to pay. Nevertheless, he may be asked for a very considerable sum over and above the rates to support those schools which he thinks not only the right sort of schools, but absolutely indispensable.
The position of the voluntary schools stands upon this ground. The country will not have education without religious instruction. It has been tried under auspices that surely would have carried such a system if the country had been willing to accept it. The Colonial Secretary has told us how he tried it in a place where there was more hope of its succeeding than anywhere else in England. He tried it in Birmingham. He thought the just thing was to exclude religious instruction, about which there is so much difference of opinion, and to have secular schools only, but he found that his supporters would have nothing to do with such a method. He was not defeated by the Church, but largely by those who are and have been all along the opponents of the Church, and he was obliged to give up that theory simply by finding that the country would not support him and that his own adherents would not support him. For that reason, as he publicly stated, he finds no difficulty in retaining office in a Government which did not adopt his view upon that matter and does not now propose to adopt it.
The aim of the Bill I do not think any one will question for a moment to be a great and noble aim. It aims at making a consistent system of our education, and without such a consistent system out education must necessarily be bad. You cannot have a really good system of education unless all the different portions of it are so co-ordinated that the efficiency of the whole shall be derived from the efficiency of every part. Schools at the bottom of the scale ought to be in proper relation to the schools above them, and you can only get that to work thoroughly well if you put them both under one authority. The system set up by this Bill aims at doing that.
Further, this Bill aims at organising secondary education. Again and again in this House have I joined with others 1222 in pressing on the Government that our secondary education ought to receive attention and that we were doing damage by leaving it without organisation. The necessity of organisation has at last been proved by unmistakable proofs—namely, that the authorities charged with the lower education have been driven by the position in which they found themselves to encroach upon next the secondary education which stood next above them. The noble Earl complains that although there is provision made for secondary education, it is quite inadequate. Well, on that point I am in considerable agreement with the noble Earl. I say unhesitatingly, that if I had the drawing up of the Bill I should go considerably further in the direction of dealing with secondary education than the Bill does. On the other side, you must remember that things must have a beginning, and you very often gain—I am not sure you do not gain considerably in this case—by feeling your way. There is nothing better, as a first step, than to appoint a body to deal with secondary education in such a manner as to put it in harmony with elementary education. The noble Earl has said that we should do much better if we moved a little faster. As I have been saying so for last thirty years in this House, I think that I can hardly object to what the noble Earl has said.
The third purpose of the Bill appears to be the rectifying of an injustice which has hitherto been inflicted on the supporters of the voluntary schools by compelling them to perform the double labour of supporting their own schools, which were a necessity, and of supporting the kinds of schools which they did not themselves want. There has been an attempt made to redress this injustice, and I do not know that any better mode could have been adopted than that of putting the additional expenditure on the rates. Meanwhile, what has the country been doing? It has been quietly watching Many of the clergy in a very impoverished condition have been spending their money freely, with severe self-sacrifices made by themselves and by their families, to provide what they found to be a necessary instrument in their hands for the discharge of their duty to the 1223 children of their flocks. The sacrifices which the clergy have made now for very many years, and are still making, seem to me to have received very inadequate consideration from either side interested in the Bill. They have spent freely of their substance for the discharge of a great Church duty, and they have now the satisfaction of knowing that this sacrifice has not been in vain, and that the instruction of the children of their own people is no longer to rest so largely upon the uncertainty of voluntary subscriptions, but is to be put on the stable ground of authorised national payment.
But the condition made is that, meanwhile, the supporters of the schools hitherto maintained by public subscriptions shall still be called upon for public subscriptions to maintain the buildings and to repair them. It is not a very fair mode of dealing with the matter. Voluntary subscriptions will still be wanted, and I am not sure, as the Bill stands, that they will not be wanted even more than hitherto, because many of these voluntary schools, in consequence of the difficulty of obtaining the subscriptions dilapidated, and many of them have found themselves on the verge of bankruptey. After all, this demand that they should be responsible not only for maintaining the buildings as they are, but also for carrying out any orders they may receive for improving them, does not seem a very adequate way of redressing the injustice of which our subscribers are perpetually making complaint. It is certainly hard, because they do not feel that they can keep up subscriptions at the same rate as they have hitherto done. We are grateful to the Government for bringing in a Bill which will make all this a little easier to them. But it is not very easy for some of your Lordships to realise what the school is to the clergyman of the parish. It is one of the means of dealing with the children who are as much his charge as the grown up-persons. He is the religious instructor of all the children of the Church, whether of one age or another, and he will sacrifice very much indeed in order to discharge his duty. Among those who have done their utmost to maintain these religious schools there are not a few who have done it, as far as it goes, at the cost of considerable 1224 deprivation to themselves and to their families. There are not a few who have been crippled in the necessary expenditure for the education of their own children. Not a few have felt that they were come upon evil times, and which this demand has been made upon them, there have been at the same time operating quite different causes which do not belong to out present subject at all. Their incomes have after parish where the clergyman, with an income which is utterly insufficient to live upon and to educate his children, has been very seriously crippled in resources by the fact that he could not, in the presence of God, sacrifice the children of his flock, by neglecting to do all in his power to give them such instruction as the Church has charged him to give. The relief, of course, is great as far as it goes; but it does not go very far if we are still to be begging all round for money to keep the buildings in repair and to make such improvements as the thorough efficiency of education requires. I think that in this respect the Church is right in raising the complaint that the Bill is doing something, but is not doing nearly as much as it ought. The conscientious man, put down in a parish where there are so many claims, where his charges must of necessity be a drain on all the income that he gets, and without the means of doing his work as his conscience bids him do in God's sight, feels that the infliction is very often a cruel one; and I do not think that it has been sufficiently recognised. There are no doubt many of the laity who understand something of it, and they bestir themselves to enter into the feelings of the clergymen; but they can never know what the clergy know full well—how dreadful is the pressure to which the poorer clergy are subject in this matter. I do not deny that it is a great relief for the schools to be upon the rates, because instead of their being supported on an uncertain, fluctuating basis they are to be supported by the action of the law. It is a great relief, but I doubt whether many in either House of Parliament are aware how insufficient it seems to have that relief on the conditions now made. You cannot handle a Bill of this sort without looking to such questions as these. You cannot put aside all these considerations simply because it is not 1225 your business to provide for what is wanted. You cannot leave these considerations altogether out of sight. I believe that the Bill is a very great step in advance. I believe that it will greatly improve the secular education. I agree with much that has fallen from the noble Earl opposite on secondary education of all forms and types. I am ready to admit—I fully believe that the aim of the Bill, though, in my judgment, not adequately pursued, is honestly pursued. The Bill is an honest and statesmanlike measure, and I hope your Lordships, in spite of any objections that may be made, will, nevertheless, pass it into law and let us see how it will act when it begins to work.
§ THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
My Lords, I am sure every one of your Lordships must have been impressed by the speech which has just been delivered by the most rev. Prelate; but when he speaks of injustice to the Church I think he is touching upon somewhat debatable ground. He mentions, as a great instance of injustice, that members of the Church of England should have to subscribe to their voluntary schools, and at the same time pay rates for the support of Board schools. Anomalies of all sorts and kinds exist. I am bound to say, with regard to this subject, that it seems somewhat inequitable that the only owners of property who are compelled to contribute to the Church of England are the owners of the real property. It might be said, and said perhaps with some force, that it is rather hard that the country gentlemen of England, whose incomes now are also very much depleted by agricultural depression, should, besides having to pay a heavy tithe, also have to contribute to support their Church schools. The answer to the position that has been assumed by the most rev. Prelate is this—that the Church of England should have subscribed a fund of its own to maintain its schools and its independence. What we on this side of the House complain of is that instead of doing that, instead of the Church providing funds to maintain its own schools, it should ask the public to subscribe while it reserves to itself the right to manage. I was glad that the most rev. Prelate made use 1226 of the words "authorised national payment." That is exactly the position of those who sit on this side of the House. We object to this Bill because it makes an authorised national payment which does not entail an authorised national control. I wish to assure your Lordships that I am myself no enemy to voluntary schools. I maintain two entirely at my own cost, and subscribe to others. Nor have I any reason to be jealous of clerical management, because in one of my schools my two clergymen are the two managers. But I do not think we can argue from any one particular case in regard to the application of a particular principle.
I should like to amplify what fell from my noble friend Earl Spencer when he said that Board schools had afforded good religious education, and to add, on unimpeachable Church testimony, that voluntary schools do not of necessity afford sound religious education. The Diocesan Inspector for Ely, in his report for 1901, felt it his duty to speak severely of the growing tendency in Church schools to suppress religious teaching altogether for weeks, and even months, before the visit of His Majesty's Inspector; and that this should be done with the sanction of the clergyman was indeed, he said, a melancholy reflection. Canon Routledge is responsible for the statement that—Whilst the individual superintendence of clergymen was supposed to be the special boast that in nine cases out of ten he had to report that the managers had taken no personal interest whatever in the lessons. In preparing a class of pupil teachers at Canterbury in the Bible and prayer Book he was surprised at the lamentable ignorance of some of them with regard to the simplest facts of Scripture.The fact is, there always is a danger that when the Diocesan Inspector is introduced and the question of religion assumes too much a professional matter for examination the real spirit of religious teaching fails. Of course, I do not wish to say that there are not in a great many schools in England religious teaching personally conducted by the clergyman which is of the most valuable and essential kind; but I do think that it is carrying the matter a little too far to say that we can entirely trust the clergy or voluntary schools in this matter, and that we can dispense—for that is the view which is urged by many—with the 1227 interference or control of the laity. I cannot help myself feeling strongly that we are dealing now with a very different Church of England from what it was in 1850 or even in 1870. We are face to face with a wholly different state of facts from those which confronted the men who accepted the Act of 1870. I think would be very difficult for anybody in this House or out of it to state clearly and distinctly what the authorised doctrines of the Church of England at the present day are. It is difficult, I think it is impossible, for any Church to claim that it is an absolute authority in this matter unless it speaks in one intelligible voice. It is perfectly clear that the Church of England speaks in very different, I might almost say very contradictory, voices. On the one hand, the lower clergy adopt with impunity the practices and the views of the Church of Rome. On the other hand, some of the dignitaries of the Church of England are permitted to promulgate opinions which, if language means anything, strike at the whole root of the divinity of our Lord and Master. I say that when such conflicting views as these are publicly expressed, and the Episcopal Bench are unable to prevent their expression, it is a claim which cannot be supported that the Church of England should be the sole and only exponent of religious instruction.
I listened to the speech of my noble friend the Lord President of the Council with much interest, and as I heard the concluding portion of his speech my mind wandered back to some of the educational debates that have taken place in the House of Commons, and I have to congratulate the Conservative Party upon the absolute success with which they have absorbed the noble Duke's Whig principles. When the noble Duke, as Lord Hartington, was in the House of Commons, a Bill was introduced which, compared with this Bill, was a very mild and moderate measure in respect to denominational education. But what did my noble friend say on that occasion? He said:—What is the position of Nonconformists under the Bill as introduced? They were forced for the first time to send their children to schools of the character of which they didn't altogether approve. They were forced by the provisions of the Bill to contribute to the prosperity and the success of schools of a character they considered objectionable.That is precisely their contention now. 1228But which they hoped might in the course of time disappear, not by the action of any violent change, but by the gradual change of the public opinion of the country, and give place to a system which, in their opinion, was vastly superior.That, I presume, meant the universal Board School system. The noble Duke went on to say:—Who are these persons of whom I speak? Are they persons as to whose interests no respect ought to be entertained in this House? These are men whose feelings and prejudices cannot be safely neglected by either side of the House. I should have thought that, if not justice, at all events have generosity, would have led those having at their command a powerful majority in both Houses of Parliament to consider carefully the feelings and views and prejudices of these men, and when they knew that a measure would be distasteful to them they would have imposed it with the greatest consideration and forbearance.That is precisely the position of Nonconformist bodies at the present time. Those bodies, roughly speaking, represent about half the population of the country, and are they more likely now than they were then to accept a Bill of this kind, even when it passes into law? It is not a question whether this Bill will pass your Lordships' House. I think, in a matter of this kind, we ought to consider whether it will pass the people. I cannot conceive a more objectionable legislative proceeding than to pass a Bill in opposition to the principles and strong feelings of such a vast body of earnest and determined men.
My noble friend Lord Spencer dwelt upon the manner in which, under Clause 8 of this Bill, a new test will be established. If this Bill passes into law as it now stands, no head teacher in a voluntary school can belong to the Nonconformist body. Now, I douby whether, as a matter of general expediency, it is wise or possible to re-impose religious tests. Let us look at this not as a matter of theory, but from the point of view of practical results. We all know that the population of Wales is a Nonconformist population. In a Return that was issued in 1899, I find that the majority of voluntary schools in Wales are in single school districts. The total number of voluntary schools in Wales is about equal to the number fo Board schools—the voluntary schools number 694 as against 733 Board schools. This Bill, as it now stands, will prevent the teachers in any one of those voluntary schools 1229 sharing the religious opinions of the parents, and I am bound to say that not only is that a great piece of injustice as regards the teachers but also as regards the parents. We in our class of life have the power, and we exercise it with great care and discretion, to select who the teacher of our children is to be. Why are not the poorer classes to have this privilege? Is not the feeling of injustice more likely to be accentuated and depened when it is felt that the religious atmosphere of the school is hostile to the religious opinions of the parents? I do not believe that that is a condition of things which can last, because I do not think it will be tolerated. I am surprised that the Church did not institute a subscription fund, to which I am sure all loyal Churchmen would have willingly subscribed, for the maintenance of its own schools, and also a fund—for in that matter I entirely endorse the views of the most rev. Prelate—to improve the incomes of the clergy; but if the Church has not the public spirit to come forward and do this, why cannot it throw in its lot openly and frankly with popular management?
There are, I am sorry to say, several cases in which the extreme views of the clergyman place him in antagonism to his parish, and under this Bill the position of such a man will be very much increased. These extreme men in single district parishes have up to now been under some little control, because they have had to depend on public subscriptions; but under this Bill that will not be so. In Committee we must see if it is not possible to provide against an abuse of power of that kind. There are many parishes in England in which the clergyman would gain power if he would allow himself to work with the laity, and I venture to say that the Church is making a great mistake if it supposes that its strength in the country is increased by assuming an ecclesiastical position detached from the sympathies of the laity. Everyone who has worked among the poor knows that the way in which you can influence them for good is to interest them in their children. That the parents should have an interest in the school and in the school and in the control of the school is to my mind a legitimate desire. But that is not the policy of this Bill. 1230 The policy of the Bill is distrust of popular control, and knowing the force of Nonconformists when they are united, I question very much whether, in the interests of the Church, it it is wise to enforce a measure which is disliked and distrusted, which will never be accepted by a large portion of the community, and which will certainly produce what I am sure all religious minded people will regret—an increase of sectarian bitterness. I shall therefore give my vote against the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ *VISCOUNT LLANDAFF
My Lords, the noble Earl who has just sat down has presented the view that the Nonconformists have reasonable ground for complaint under the Bill. I confess, looking at the measure from a completely opposite point of view, that it strikes me Nonconformists gain the greatest advantage under the Bill. In future every school that is provided out of public funds is to be subject, both in secondary and primary education, to the Cowper-Temple Clause. Schools that are governed by the Cowper-Temple Clause are satisfactory to nobody but Nonconformists. Every other denomination in England regards that as being a mischievous form of religious instruction. Nonconformists, therefore, will have built for them, as well as maintained for them, schools conducted under the system they desire, while denominations will have to build and provide their own schools. So that for Nonconformists to say they have any reasonable ground for complaint seems to show a mistaken view—I will not put it higher than that—of the facts. I admit to the full the Nonconformist grievance which arises in certain single-school areas. It is a grievance that I think ought to be redressed as soon as practical means of doing so are discovered. Wales has been mentioned, where large districts are inhabited entirely by Baptists. I see no reason why the County Council of such a district should not have power to provide and maintain a Baptist school. There are many districts in the country in which a school is wanted for Church of England children, and I see no reason why, in justice, the County Council should not have an option, at least, of providing a school for denominationalists as well as for Cowper-Templeists, which is only another name 1231 for Nonconformists. It seems to me that Nonconformists have an immense advantage under this Bill, for no school will be built hereafter out of public money except a school which suits them and dose not suit denominationalists.
I rise to give expression to the opinions of a minority of the subjects of His Majesty, to whom I have the honour to belong, and who, although they give their support to the Second Reading, do feel severely hurt by some of the enactments that the Bill contains. I refer, of course, in the first instance, to the Kenyon-Slaney Amendment. It is a settled principle of the Roman Catholic Church that the direction of religious instruction belongs, as part of his office and of his Episcopal jurisdiction, to the Bishop, and to no one else. This Bill gives the control of religious instruction in our schools to a body of lay managers. Not even an appeal is given to the bishops. That conflicts, therefore, with our conscientious convictions. Two of the six managers are to be appointed by the local authority, and the managers so appointed will not be Roman Catholics. That is pretty certain. In all probability in many of the towns they will be Dissenters. The noble Earl who moved the rejection of this Bill, and the noble Earl who spoke last, both appear to think that there should be no test for teachers; that you ought to allow teachers of any denomination to serve in all schools; that, in fact, in a Roman Catholic school you might have a Baptist or Unitarian as head teacher. I do not know whether noble Lords are serious in that view. To appoint men who are ignorant of the subject they have to teach and hostile to the doctrines they are supposed to inculcate is to do something that approaches to the grotesque. These sismanagers, of whom two may be Dix senters, are to control the religious instruction given in Roman Catholic schools. That is an arrangement which will not work satisfactorily. Again, one of the chief duties of the managers will be to provide funds for the repair of the schools. Imagine the zeal with which these two foreign managers will go about collecting subscriptions to repair the schools in which doctrines are taught which they abhor. I may be told that these two foreign managers will not 1232 interfere in the religious instruction they know nothing about. If so, they are useless; and if they do interfere they are mischievous.
The most rev. Prelate referred to the struggles which the members of the Church of England have made in support of their schools. The body I represent have made struggles no less earnest and no less sincere. We are not so noisy as are the champions of Nonconformity, but we are not less earnest. Out of our small resources we have succeeded in providing 1,100 schools for our poor, in which their children can receive that sound religious teaching without which we consider all education to be worthless and even mischievous. And after all those efforts and sacrifices it does seem to me a little hard that we should be compelled either to deprive ourselves of the benefits to be given by this vast scheme of national education, or to submit to a Clause which offends our conscience and is needless as well as unjust. What is the secret of the enactment of the Kenyon-Slaney Clause? It is that certain clergymen of the Church of England kick over the traces, so to speak, and teach doctrines which are said not to be the doctrines of the Church of England. That is a grievance which I agree ought to have a remedy, but what is the proportion between the remedy proposed by this Amendment, and that which would have been sufficient to meet the case? I should have thought that it would have been sufficient to give an appeal to the Bishop against the erratic clergyman, or give the parents power of appeal to the Board of Education. That would have been a remedy that would have been co-extensive, so to speak, with the evil. There are, perhaps, a few score of these exceptional cases of clergymen whose conduct has been called in question, but there are thousands of schools of the Church of England and hundreds of Roman Catholic schools in which the clergyman gives instruction that is agreeable to the parents, acceptable to the children, and welcomed by all. Why, I ask, should you apply the Kenyon-Slaney Clause in all those cases?
One word upon the question of repairs. It seems to me that the point upon which the objection with regard to 1233 repairs arises is this. By the Voluntary Schools Act, 1897, a certain aid grant was given to voluntary schools and has been applied, as it was intended to be applied, for the purpose of meeting a large number of repairs which are not structural repairs. Those repairs are at present paid for out of the aid grant, but this Bill transfers that grant bodily to the County Council, free from the obligation it has to bear now—namely, the obligation of meeting those minor repairs. You are therefore increasing the charge on the managers of these denominational schools for repairs, and throwing an additional burden upon them. There is to be in everyone of these districts an education committee. Upon that education committee the provided schools will have ample representation. There must be a majority of the committee appointed by the Council, and therefore they will have complete representation and control. For the non-provided schools—the denominational schools—there is no direct representation. The Church of England is sure to have numerous members on the County Councils and the education committee, but Roman Catholies are not likely ever to have representation on those councils. When the functions of these committees are borne in mind that seems to me a thing of which we are entitled to complain. The education committee will, either as an advisory body or as delegates of the County Council acting as principals, have the widest powers relating to matters which are of the deepest interest to denominational schools. It will have to advise or decide on questions of extensions of school buildings, of repairs, of equal treatment to provided schools and non-provided schools, of salaries to teachers and of equipment generally, including the choice of teachers and of text books. If the religious body which I represent has no representation on the education committee the interest and welfare of the schools that belong to them may be seriously prejudiced, and I do therefore appeal to the Government, and also to your Lordships, to say that we ought to have at least a representative upon the education committee. I hope the Government will take care that there shall be these committees someone to represent Roman Catholies in matters 1234 which go home to that religious and unpopular minority.
It must not be forgotten that the religious instruction in our schools is interfered with by the appointment of two outside managers, and surely, if you claim to interfere with the religious management of a school belonging to a certain denomination, it is unjust not to give that denomination one representative. I may be told that by the Clause it is possible for the County Council to put a representative of the Roman Catholic faith upon the education committee. That is true, but the likelihood of their doing so is so remote that I do not think we ought to be asked to trust to that. I claim this, not on the ground that these are religious bodies owning schools, but on the ground that they are educational bodies which have done considerable work in education already, and who can only continue that work if the treatment they reccive at the hands of the education committee is fair and just. Considering the little knowledge that the local bodies in this country have of out-of-the-way religious such as I am pleading for, it is obvious that unless they have a representative on the education committee, their chance of fair treatment is a small one. At present, we have, by the cumulative vote, been able to secure one representative on the School Boards, and, as far as I know, the presence of those Roman Catholics has not caused any friction; on the contrary, they have assisted in bringing about cordial co-operation between all the various religious denominations in carrying on educational work. I belong to an unpopular minority, but that minority looks to the fairmindedness of your Lordship's House for protection, and I have a confident hope that a just claim, advanced by those who, by deeds as well by words, have shown their zeal in the cause of education, will be met by your Lordships with indulgence and with sympathy.
My Lords, I am happy to be able, in the first place, to correct a misapprehension. The noble Viscount who has just sat down said there never would be a time, as there never had been a time, when a Roman Catholic would have the slightest chance of being elected to a County Council. I would remind him that the noble Duke who sits behind him, the Duke of Norfolk, was for some time an elected member of 1235 the London County Council, and I hope and trust that other Councils throughout the country will be as liberal-minded in that direction as the London County Council, and that their example will be followed. The Government have in this Bill gone far beyond what public opinion would warrant, in favour of denominational schools, and yet the supporters of some of those schools are not satisfied. Nonconformists do not agree with the noble Viscount that they have any advantage under this, Bill, and they strongly protest against it. They take vehement objection to teaching given in denominational schools not being accompanied with adequate control. The moral would seem to be that it is almost impossible to have a satisfactory system of denominational schools where religious and secular subjects are taught in the same buildings and by the same masters, and consequently you ought to separate them. The noble Viscount strongly objected to the Cowper-Temple Clause being put upon secondary schools for the first time. I do not agree with him, and I would remind him that in that respect the Government had an almost unanimous body of public opinion behind them. The Amendment adding the Cowper-Temple Clause to the Bill had only 29 dissentients, while 318 Members voted in support of it. Therefore I am afraid the noble Viscount will see that it is perfectly useless for him in that respect to try and kick against the pricks. On this side of the House we often accuse our opponents of wishing to curry favour with the public, and we sometimes say they introduce a Bill, not because they like it, but in order to conciliate public opinion. It is certain that in introducing this Bill the Government had not been actuated by any such motive. The Prime Minister himself has been obliged to acknowledge that the Bill is not popular and that it may damage the Conservative cause at the next General Election, and he referred to the educational fiasco of 1896 by way of showing how very thorny a thing it is to bring in a comprehensive Education Bill. I think that probably I have addressed more meetings on this Bill in London and the country than any other Member of your Lordships' House, and from what I have seen it appears to me certain that the passing of this Bill will not only lead to a Conservative defeat at the next election but to a great Conservative rout. I daresay noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite 1236 look at that prospect with complete equanimity. It is possible that many of them agree with Lord Rosebery that the ideal pleasure is to get office, but the real pleasure is to relinguish office. Perhaps the chief recommendation of the Bill to the Front Bench opposite is that it gives them a certain prospect of well-earned repose, which they ardently desire.
I will deal shortly with the Bill on its merits for it appears to me that in this House there is another question quite as important as, and, I should have thought, more important than, that of the merits or demerits of this Bill. Here the chief question of interest to your Lordships is one of the gravest constitutional importance, and it is: What are the functions of this House as a Chamber of revision? Is it not a fact that this Bill has been rendered possible only by an electoral trick? Does not the passing of the Bill constitute a grave infringement of the first principle of constitutional government, and, if so, is it not the duty of this House to remit it to the people so that they may say whether they approve of it or not? With regard to the merits of the Bill I do not propose to give the House my own opinion, but the opinion, so far as I could gauge it from attending and speaking at public meetings, of the audiences that I addressed. The public object to this Bill because they consider that it is not chiefly conceived in the interests of education but of party. As regards the voluntary schools, the public conceives that the Bill is in the interest of the clergy of the Established Church, who are the staunchest adherents of the Conservative Government; and, as to board schools, the public object to the taking away of the supervision of those schools from the School Boards, which are educational authorities, and the putting of it under County Councils, which are primarily political bodies. The public further believes that the object is to place the board school under Tory domination, because throughout the whole length and breadth of England, with the one exception of the West Riding of Yorkshire, every one of the County Councils have a Conservative majority. The country, then, has a grave suspicion that in putting forward this Bill the Government have placed the interests of party 1237 before those of education. That suspicion has been a good deal confirmed by an unfortunate utterance on the part of Mr. Wyndham, the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Mr. Wyndham recently said that whether the Bill was a good Bill or a bad Bill it was the duty of every Conservative—I use the right hon. Gentleman's own words—to "go blind" for the Bill. Surely that is putting Party before education with a vengeance. The second objection is that there is no ade uate control in return for the large amount of money granted to voluntary schools. The public think, and I believe rightly, that the managers will manage, and that it is the intention that they should manage, because the Government have thrown a considerable obstacle in the way of the education committees carrying out their duty of looking after these schools by rejecting the Amendment which would have enabled the members of those committees to have their travelling expenses paid. If, therefore, the education committees do their duty and visit the schools, they will do so at their own expense. The Bill will stir up sectarian strife and bitterness. A large number of Nonconformists are very keen in this matter of the vountary schools being subsidised by the rates without any control, because they believe, whether rightly or wrongly, that it will have the effect of spreading popery and sacerdotalism. No one who has been in the habit of frequenting public meetings against this Bill can fail to have been struck with the protests that have always greeted any allusion to the possibility of these Bills subsidising an anti-Protestant crusade. There is no doubt that the alarm, whether reasonable or unreasonable, is perfectly genuine. No doubt there are other people who, like myself, do not think there is any such danger. On the contrary, I think it will have the opposite effect, because to subsidise a sectarian religion unjustly, as the public think, out of the rates, is the way to make that religion unpopular.
Those who agree with me are not alarmed at the prospect of Roman Catholicism being triumphant. We are angry because we say that it is an absolute travesty of constitutional government that the rates should be used in any case to bolster up a school 1238 the tenets of whose religious teaching are absolutely detestable to the majority of the ratepayers. The noble Duke has said that the object of Nonconformists is to extinguish sectarian schools. Nothing of the kind. Nonconformists do not in the least object to the clergy keeping up these schools themselves. Already out of the public exchequer four-fifths of the money for these schools is paid by the public, who naturally think that a rich denomination like the Church of England might very well itself find the remaining one-fifth. There is another thing on which Nonconformists feel extremely keen, namely, the establishment of religious tests for teachers. The noble Viscount has said that to do away with those tests would be a perfect absurdity. Why? He said that teachers who did not believe in denominational teaching ought not to be allowed to give instruction in it, but we contend that this teaching should come from other than those entrusted with secular education. Nonconformists say that they will be paying an enormous price for keeping up these tests in the shape of the grave incitement to hypocrisy which they involve and the lowering of the standard of secular education.
The last objection that I shall take brings me to the constitutional question, which I venture to think ought to be of special interest to your Lordships. This is, I think, undoubtedly, a War-Education Bill, for it would not have been possible had it not been for the war. I do not think it is denied that the size of the Government's majority is due to the war. It is not denied that at the last election Mr. Chamberlain went about saying that it was the duty of Radicals who never voted Conservative before, and who, he supposed, would never again vote Conservative, to vote for the Government on that occasion, because no domestic issue was involved, but only that of the war. An ordinary Tory majority could not possibly have passed this Bill. The revolt in Parliament was something astounding. The Conservative majority in the House of Commons, excluding the Irish Members, who voted in their favour when they voted at all, is over 200, but what were the majorities by which important Amendments were passed? Why, this very Amendment to do away with the imposition of tests on teachers was 1239 only defeated by a majority of twenty-six, and on Clause 7, the most important Clause of the Bill, there were various Amendments on vital subjects which were only defeated by majorities of from forty-one to fifty-eight. The revolt in Parliament is exceeded in intensity in the country. During the time this Bill was before Parliament bye-elections took place in which the Liberal poll was increased by 38 per cent. while the Tory poll was decreased by 8 per cent. That was before the result of the Orkney and Shetland election, which was, perhaps, the most striking of all. A miserable 740 were all the supporters that the Government could obtain in that constituency out of a record poll of 5,000. Then we have the revolt of that most distinguished educationalist, Sir Michael Foster, who has given up his seat for the University of London rather than support this Bill. The revolt does not stop here, for the municipal elections and public meetings tell the same tale. I say that this is a Bill of the first importance foisted on a hostile people by an electoral trick, and in the name of constitutional Government.
On the constitutional point I will quote a man whose opinion I think your Lordships will regard as of considerable value. Mr. Green, in discussing the "Impeachment of Lord Strafford," after saying that Strafford perhaps acted legally but certainly unconstitutionally, proceeded as follows:—It is impossible indeed to provide for some of the greater dangers which can happen to national freedom by any formal statute. Even now a Minister might avail himself of the temper of a Parliament elected in some moment of popular panic, and, though the nation returned to its senses might simply, by refusing to appeal to the country, govern in defiance of its will. Such a course would be technically legal, but such a Minister would be non the less a criminal.I am not so truculent as Mr. Green. I do not wish to impeach the Prime Minister or the Government. All I suggest is that it is 'your Lordships' duty to strangle this conspiracy against the Constitution. Noble Lords laugh, but I would appeal to another authority—namely, the Duke of Devonshire. In 1893 the noble Duke went with very great care into the constitutional question of how far your Lordships were or were not entitled to deal with 1240 the Home Rule Bill on its merits. He said:—If I could conceive the case of a majority of your Lordships being of an opinion favourable to this measure, if, as the Prime Minister thinks might be possible, a measure founded upon a similar principle had been introduced by a Conservative Government, I do not undertake to say what the conduct of this House might have been; but I, at all events, should be prepared to say the duty of this House would be the same. I maintain that on a question of such magnitude, so closely touching the fundamental institutions of our State, if there is any object in the existence of a Second Chamber at all it is, at all events, to prevent changes of that character being made without the absolute certainty that they are in accordance with the will of the majority of the people.The noble Duke, in meeting our argument that we had a mandate to introduce the Home Rule Bill, said, in effect, Your mandate is no manadate at all, because at the General Election there were other points as well as Home Rule brought up on which the election might have turned. Now, at the last General Election there was only one issue, that of the war. I venture to say that a Bill which puts our whole educational system into the melting pot is as important to the general public as the question of Home Rule, for a good or bad system of education has a much greater effect on the welfare of the people. But even if the House is against me on that point, I will again quote the Duke of Devonshire. The noble Duke was extremely angry because the Home Rule Bill was closured in the House of Commons. He said:—We are entitled to say that we should decline to pass a measure so presented, even if only of minor and secondary importance.Therefore, even if the noble Duke considers this Bill as only of secondary importance he would have said that this House ought to decline to pass it. The noble Duke went on to say:—The consequences of our acceptance of an undiscussed measure would fall, not upon those who have been guilty of the offence [obstruction]—if an offence has been committed—but upon British and Irish subjects whose interests are disposed of without discussion.I do not go entirely as far as the noble Duke. I do not assert that on every occasion your Lordships should inquire curiously as to the amount of popular support of any Bills that pass through the Commons. Such a task would constitute an intolerable strain. I do not 1241 go so far as the noble Duke, who says you are bound, independently of their merits, to reject Bills of first importance unless you are certain that they have the people at their back. But I do suggest that, unless you abdicate your functions as a Chamber of Revision, if it is clearly proved that a measure of the first importance is detestable to many, and disliked by most, of the electors, it is not only the right but the duty of this House to remit that measure to the constituencies. In this case the evidence is overwhelming—the revolt in Parliament, the revolt at the bye-elections, the revolt at the municipal elections, the crowded public meetings and the resolutions passed even at Tory gatherings. Add to this the fact that the Opposition in 1900 were lulled into a sense of false security by the statement that no domestic issue was involved, that a majority obtained for one purpose was used for another, that a trick was played off upon the electorate, surely we are justified in asking the House to resent such shabby tactics and to defeat this conspiracy against the Constitution by remitting the Bill to the judgment of the people.
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
My Lords, I am rather short-sighted, and could not see for the moment who was speaking, and I was doubting whether it was my noble friend or Dr. Clifford who was addressing the House. I should not have intervened in the debate if it had not been for the weight which the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition has attached to the petition which he presented earlier in the evening. I thought I should like to see that petition, and what do I find? I find that the petition is not signed by the 8,000,000 people referred to, but that it is the "humble petition of the President and Secretaries" of the National Council of the Evangelical Free Churches, acting on behalf of the Council, so that it never passed that body at all. And what are the reasons why they object to the Bill? They draw your Lordships' attention to the fact—That this Bill, which was conscientiously opposed by half the population of the country,which I do not believe——not only is injurious to edcuation,"—which also I do not believe——but also is unjust to Nonconformists,'—1242 I think that the justice to the Nonconformists has been amply vindicated by the noble Duke who introduced the Bill tonight—And subversive of their rights as citizens,What rights of theirs as citizens have been subversed? What have they lost? They have got everything they had before, and they have got a great deal more. I suppose these gentlemen refer to the Act of 1870. Great importance has been placed by the noble Earl upon the fact that the educational system is going to be handed over to the Municipal Councils. I wish the noble Earl would look at the original proposal of Mr. Forster himself, which was to give it to Municipal Councils, and it was only found that it could not be given to Municipal Councils because in the counties themselves there was no authority of the same kind to whom it could be given. Therefore Mr. Forster's original notion of giving it to the Municipal Councils, which is supposed to be "subversive of their rights as citizens," does not go for very much. I will hand back to the Clerk this marvellous petition which has been presented, and I do not think it deserves the weight attached to it by the noble Lord. As to the constitutional question which has been alluded to, I think I may brush that by, because that merely means that this particular Parliament can pass no measure without a special mandate.
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
I was going to say, unless it had the country at its back, but I stoutly maintain that this Bill has the people at its back, and I have not the smallest doubt that when this Bill is set to work the supposed feeling in the country will subside, and that my noble friends will find that they are totally mistaken as to the way in which this Bill will be received by the country at large. My noble friend has spoken of religious tests. I ask him, are you or are you not going to have denominational schools? Do you wish to abolish them?
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
Then we may take it from the Opposition Bench that denominational schools are to be preserved. 1243 What is the meaning of a denominational school? It means a school in which you teach religion according to the Creed of the Church to whom the school belongs. Then, do you mean to say, if you are to have denominational schools, and to teach particular dogmas of religion, that you are not to have a head master who coincides with those dogmas and who teaches religion according to the foundation of those schools?
What I said was that religion and secular edcuation ought to be separated, and that there ought to be separate teachers.
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
Then I say if you have a denominational school you must leave the choice of the teacher who is to teach religion in that school to the denominational managers. I do not wish to detain the House any longer. My sole object was to point out the tremendous fallacies contained, as I thought, in that petition.
*THE LORD BISHOP OF NEWCASTLE
My Lords, there is somedanger, I think, of the debate degenerating into a theological discussion, and I hope you will allow one speaking from this Bench to attempt, at any rate, to turn it into an educational channel. It has been maintained that there has been no mandate given to the Government to introduce this Bill, and the noble Lord who spoke opposite has given us very strong constitutional reasons why such a measure should not be introduced without an appeal to the country. But I should like to say that, without entering into the constitutional question, which I hardly feel capable of dealing with, it does seem to me that any Government worth the name was absolutely bound by a sense of duty to deal with the educational problem at the present time. One of the arguments which have been brought before the country very strongly of late has been the commercial prosperity of the United States, and perhaps I may say to a certain extent of Germany, in comparison with 1244 England, and it has been maintained that education in Germany and the United States compares very favourably with the education given in England. I do not feel competent to deal with the question of Germany at all, but I do venture to say that there are certain lessons to be learned from American education. Three visits to the United States, at intervals of nine years, have at any rate convinced me of this, and I hope I shall not weary your Lordships if I try to suggest some of the lessons which this country ought to learn.
Let me say that after considering this matter and having had opportunities for observation for some nineteen or twenty years, I have certainly come to the conclusion that in the United States there has been very much greater progress made than in England during the same time, and I confess that the state of education in England at the present moment is anything but satisfactory, and I cannot understand how any Government whatever could refuse to deal with the educational problem. First of all, let me say that if America teaches us one lesson more than another it is the value of having one authority to co-ordinate education and to deal with its various branches. I will illustrate that by the state of things in New York. New York has to deal with a very difficult problem, for there are very many foreigners landing at this port, many of them having to be taught English, and I take it that there is probably no town in America where there is really greater difficulty in dealing with education. When I went to New York I found, first of all, a very large Kindergarten School for children under six; then the children are drafted into primary schools from the age of six to nine; then into grammar schools from nine to fourteen; then they have the opportunity of going into high schools from fourteen to eighteen, and then there are still further opportunities of higher education besides. The population of Greater New York at the present moment is rather more than 3 1/2 millions, and there are rather more than half a million children in the public schools of New York. About 9,000 of these children apparently at the present time are passing on from these grammar schools, which they leave at the age of 1245 about fourteen, each year to the high schools in the city. Of these 9,000, about one-third fall away during the first year, and the others pass on during the other three years, but irregularly, so that of the whole 9,000 who pass into the high schools observe by the last report which is in my hands that 1,411 had "graduated" (to use the American expression) generally at the average age of seventeen. But I observe that something like 1,300, which is very nearly as many as those who have graduated at the high schools, have passed into what really almost corresponds to the University. The lads can go into the City of New York College and the young women can pass into the Normal School. Now, that is what is done with one authority dealing with education—and free education all through. I am told by New York lawyers, merchants and others, that the great commercial prosperity of that city (and the same thing is said elsewhere) is largely due to this system, and to the fact that one single authority deals with the children all through from the beginning almost to the end. Now, my Lords, I feel grateful to the Government for introducing a Bill which, at least, establishes an authority that can co-ordinate the various kinds of education. I know it is said that very little is done for secondary education, but it seems to me that the great thing is to establish an authority. When the authority is established and is at work, it is perfectly simple—and I am quite sure that any Government would attempt to do it—to engraft further legislation upon this Bill and enable more to be done. But, at any rate, I am grateful for the authority being set up, and I am perfectly certain that it is in the minds of those who are setting up this authority to go further and give further inducements to lads and young women to pass into the high schools and receive what is commonly called secondary education.
My Lords, I am afraid that the arguments of noble Lords opposite, particularly of the noble Earl who led the opposition to the Bill, with reference to what we may call generally the ad hoc authority, do not receive very much support from the experience of America. Two interesting volumes have been 1246 lately published by the Board of Education with reference to America, and I venture to say that they deserve study by your Lordships. It will be observed that there is a very great variety of custom in reference to the appointment of the boards, whatever they are called, which regulate education in the United States. But the point I want to make is this: that some of those systems which are most successful in reference to education are not managed by authorities which are elected ad hoc at all. I venture to say that on the whole the experience of America does not tend to make one believe that it is really necessary to have an authority elected ad hoc for the purpose of obtaining really good and efficiently controlled education. There is a further point with reference to this authority which I should like to advert to, which is this. One great advantage of the Bill as we have it now is that there are large areas in comparison with the small areas which have hitherto prevailed. We have found it so far, until a recent Act was passed, to be an exceedingly difficult thing to establish School Associations of any kind whatever. Speaking as the chairman of one of these Associations, I feel grateful to the Government for having brought our schools together, for there is no question whatever that it is by association that one school is polished, as it were, by comparison with another, and whereas before there was considerable isolation, now, and still more in the large areas which will prevail under the Bill, there is every reason to believe that there will be a very great advance in education altogether.
But there is further lesson which it seems to me we may learn from America, and that is this. There is no doubt whatever that in the United States there has been a considerable advance in education made by a very wholesome rivalry between the great cities. Anyone who takes up a report of the Board of Education of one of these great cities is interested to find the comparisons made with other great cities. I was looking just now at the last report of the City of St. Louis, on the junction of the Mississippi and Missouri, a city of about 600,000 people. The Superintendent of Education states that the amount spent upon education at St. Louis did not compare favourably with the amount spent in 1247 certain other great cities. I think the cost of education altogether in St. Louis was about 22 dollars per child, and he said that in New York the cost went up to as high as 40 dollars per child, and that other cities differed practically between those two limits. In answer to what has been said about the want of interest which is likely to be taken in education in consequence of the abolition of school boards, I cannot but believe that we may set against that this certainly growing wholesome rivalry that there is likely to be between the great cities and the great towns of England when there is thrown on the municipalities the duty and the necessity of caring for the education of the people. At present they have not had that responsibility thrown upon them. Do your Lordships think for one instant that Birmingham, for instance, is likely to be behind Liverpool, or Liverpool behind Manchester? Has not Liverpool lately shown its independence in reference to its desire for a University, and is it not certain that the great towns of this country will enter into a very wholesome rivalry with each other in their efforts to provide for their own city as good education, primary and secondary, as lies within their means? I venture to say that the effect of that rivalry will be seen not only in towns themselves but in the country districts around. What we want is a really good stimulating influence brought to bear on the country parishes, and I believe it will come mainly through the towns, and that a wholesome rivalry between the towns is the very thing that is needed to stimulate education in the country. It has been said that the Board of Education is rather giving up its functions under this Bill. It has been said that we have hitherto had the stimulus of the School Boards, and the stimulus from Whitehall. I cannot seriously believe that whitehall will in any way be less stimulating just because it pays its grant in future through the local education authority. It is perfectly incredible that any Minister of Education in time to come will blandly hand over the money without taking care that the education of the country is sufficiently raised. For my own part I feel, I do not hesitate to say, personally grateful to one representing the Opposition, I mean Mr. Acland, for the way in which, while he was Vice-President of the Council, he unquestionably stimulated the education of the country. Speaking for myself, 1248 I can only say that, while there was a great deal of criticism with reference to his administration, my own experience of it was that he was conspicuously and absolutely fair, and I am grateful to him for trying, as he certainly did, to raise gradually the elementary education of the country. My belief is that under any system the Minister for Education may be trusted to do the same. Therefore, so far as this Bill is concerned. I cannot see that there is any force, or any sufficient force, in the arguments which have been adduced either with reference to the Board of Education having less influence than before or with reference to the abolition of School Boards.
There is another point on which I should like to say a word with reference to American experience, and it is this. I think there is some tendency in England to depend too much on the rates and taxes and the Government, and to forget that under this improved system (as I think it will be) there will still be very considerable need of private aid and private endowments. No one can visit America without being astonished at some of the very large benefactions that have been made for founding colleges and universities and the like. As education is now to be co-ordinated, I may safely say that grants and benefactions given towards universities will really be of assistance towards secondary and primary education as well. It does seem to me that there is a sort of tendency now-a-days to depend too much on the endowments of the past, and to forget that we are now dealing with a generation of people and with a population of which our forefathers had no knowledge whatever, and that it does become us (and I cannot but hope that some of our millionaires will realise that there is a call upon them) to give largely in time to come towards higher and secondary education, and so more materially to assist primary education in the country in which they live. This seems to me one of the lessons which we may learn from the consideration of the American education.
My Lords, I am afraid that the controversy with reference to the voluntary schools is almost worn threadbare, but there is one thing that 1249 I should like to say in reference particularly to what has fallen from the noble Lord opposite. The noble Lord said that we were entirely to separate secular and religious instruction, and the noble Earl who began the opposition to the Bill today told us that we had abolished tests altogether in our universities, and he thought it evidently a very retrograde step for us now to impose, as he called it, religious disabilities with reference to teachers in our elementary schools. But, my Lords, I ask, have we abolished—I do not like to use such a word as "tests—"but have we abolished definite and distinctive teaching in our great public schools? Most of us in this House have been brought up at one of those great public schools. Is there one of your Lordships who thinks that the great schools at Eton, or Harrow, or Winchester would be improved by a headmaster being appointed simply in virtue of his being a Senior Wrangler without reference to those higher qualities which count for so much in the training and forming of character? Is there any reason why we should be so very anxious to introduce a system into our public elementary schools which at any rate the great majority of us do not desire to see introduced into the large public schools? I know it is said that these public schools are supported by endowments under definite trusts and by the sums paid by parents for their children's education, but I venture to think that, after all, the great thing to be considered is—What is the best thing for the children of our country? What is the best way to develop their brains and their character? And, if we find that the old English public school system has been of such value in the development of character without any diminution in the development of the brain, surely that is a very strong argument for our maintaining the same system in reference to our public elementary schools as well. And, my Lords, without attempting to enter into details which would be more properly dealt with in Committee, I may say this, that if our public elementary schools are to be maintained, if our voluntary schools are to be maintained as denominational schools. It stands to reason that the appointment of the headmaster or the headmistress must be to the satisfaction of the denomination 1250 concerned. The noble Lord opposite says that we must separate secular and religious teaching. I ask, would he separate them in Eton, or Harrow, or Winchester? It seems to me that the aim should be not to have teachers of religion, but to have religious teachers of common things. When you have a man who is a religious teacher of the common things of life, and teaches those things in the right and proper spirit, you have got the very best teacher you can desire. I do not deny that with a system even of secular instruction you may have teachers who would be the greatest boon to the country. Nearly thirty years ago when I was in India I visited a very remarkable Mission—now connected with the University of Cambridge—the foundation of which was entirely due to the fact that a Government teacher, the head of the Government College at Delhi a little time before the Mutiny, was such a conspicuous Christian that he attracted to him two Brahmins of the very highest caste, and that led to the founding of this Mission. But, while I know that any system, if there are Christian influences in the country, will produce the men we desire, yet I think it cannot be seriously contended that you have at present any security or guarantee for such training as we desire. This is the main issue that is before your Lordships in reference to this particular part of the Bill, and, while I have been anxious tonight to speak rather on educational than on theological grounds, I could not help making this allusion to what is, after all, a very crucial matter.
I will simply add this in conclusion. The real issue of this educational effort does not depend simply upon Parliament, or upon the shape which this Bill may ultimately assume. It depends upon the country, upon the way the Bill is worked, upon the goodwill and the good feeling of the people who have to work under it. I know full well the objections that have been taken, and the very unhappy antagonisms that have arisen—I venture to say, frequently through a misunderstanding of motives and of facts. I think that already there is a very considerable opening of the eyes of the people, and that already the opposition to the Bill is very much diminished, and I am certain that it only requires a little further careful 1251 understanding and explanation of the Bill to make the country determine at least to give it a trial. I cannot believe that there are county councillors or others who are absolutely determined not to try it at all. It seems to me that that is quite an unconstitutional principle. For my own part, if your Lordships determined, with the House of Commons, that there should be a system of secular education pure and simple, much as I should desire to repudiate it absolutely, I should yet feel it my duty to do my best to work it, and to, at least, give it a fair trial. And I am convinced that after this Bill becomes an Act, the good sense of our people will prevail, and that there will be a real effort to make the Bill the means of the further development and enlightenment of the British people.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
My Lords, the eloquent words which we have just listened to from the right rev. Prelate presented in a temperate manner the view which the Episcopal Bench take of the Bill. I approach the Bill from a totally different standpoint. I approach it as a layman, and I have one advantage over the right rev. Prelate which he is not likely to envy me, namely, that I had the privilege in another place of taking part in those debates which initiated the measure of 1870. Now, the first thing that strikes me is that every one of the gloomy prognostications (and there were many) than formed as to the probable success of the great measure—the groundwork of our English education— has been absolutely and entirely falsified. They were not confined to one side. There is not a bitter taunt which has been levelled at the framers of this Bill, there is not a sinister prediction which has been made with regard to its effects upon Nonconformity in general, which was not equally levelled and equally brought against that able, fairminded, and upright public servant, Mr. Forster, to whose memory I am sure the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition will do justice. No single statement that was then made has been borne out by the results. But those who feared for Nonconformity were not alone in their denunciation of 1252 the Bill. It was prophesied on the other side that the passing of the Act of 1870 would ring the knell of the voluntary schools. What are the facts? The statistics are now before us. The number of those voluntary schools has increased within the last thirty years 75 per cent. The number of children attending them has increased in rather a larger ratio and the amount of the Government grant is about 75 per cent. more to the voluntary schools than it was in the year 1870. May we not admit that all that we have heard lately as to the misfortunes which will be brought upon the country should this Bill become an Act have equally little foundation in fact as those prognostications which we made in 1870, and which have been amply falsified by the result. Now, what are the main objections that are made to this Bill? They seem to me to take two forms; first we are assured that it will raise the religious difficulty in almost every parish in rural districts. Now I can speak with some experience upon this. I have been for some years a manager and a regular attendant of the managers' meetings of one of the largest London schools, and I can only say that we never had to face it there. Just before the passing of the Act of 1870, I had become, and I still am, a manager of a large mixed school in a purely rural district. I have never encountered the religious difficulty. The difficulty that we have found as managers has been to interest the parents sufficiently in the religious education of their children. I know that it is held by some of those who advocate secular education alone that the religious faith of the children ought to be inculcated at home. I venture to think that those who speak thus know very little indeed of the conditions under which the life of toilers, either in cities or in rural parishes, is carried on. I do not at all know how the artisan who has to give the whole day to his work can look after the religious instruction of his children, and as his wife has the children to feed and look after before they go to school, and the dinner to cook and the children to put to bed, I do not see how she is to find time to give those lessons in religious instruction which men of all parties and 1253 of all schools of thought admit it is desirable that the children should be taught in in their early years. The other day I asked the (clerical) manager of one of the largest schools in the neighbourhood of London whether he had ever come across the religious difficulty, and his reply was: "Yes, I have. Since this Bill has been before the House one parent has expressed to me his wish that his child should be withdrawn from the religious instruction—a wish which I need not say was immediately gratified." I believe the whole fear of the interference with the religious faith of the children has arisen from the isolated acts of a few unwise men who had certainly tried to inculcate a teaching which was not that either of Nonconformity or of the Church of England, but whom the Bishop of the Diocese in which he happened to be had either been unable or unwilling to restrain. I believe the religious difficulty to be a newspaper difficulty, perhaps a platform difficulty; and it has recently unfortunately been rendered a Parliamentary difficulty; but as a question of practical politics I do not believe it exists.
The second bogey which has been conjured up has been that of the clerical autocrat. I have admitted that in some isolated instances—with which no one sympathises less than I do—wrong things have been done, but I believe that in 999 out of 1,000 voluntary schools such a thing is impossible, and of one thing I am convinced, that if it is possible it is because the lay managers of the schools do not do their duty. It is utterly impossible if the managers do their duty, if they take advantage of their trust deed, and call the attention of the Bishop to the fact that doctrines are being inculcated or teaching is being resorted to which is not consistent with the faith of the Church of England as expressed in our Articles of Religion. I may say that I think great injustice has been done through discussions upon this Bill (I speak as a layman) to the clergy as a body. I am old enough to remember the time when in three-fourths of the country parishes in England there would have been no education worth a name at all if the clergyman had not devoted his time, and often a much larger amount of his means than he could properly spare, to 1254 education which was then in its infancy and to which grave opposition was raised. And I am quite certain, speaking from practical experience, that in nine cases out of ten the difficulty which this "clerical autocrat" experiences is, not that of carrying out his own wishes, but that of interesting any appreciable number of the laity in the work of education which belongs equally to them as it does to him.
Then, my Lords, the next objection I hear is that this Bill is not a perfect Bill. Of course it is not. I have had the honour of a seat in your ordships' House for more than thirty-two years, and I never yet saw a Bill turned into an Act in which I should not have liked to make some alterations, and I believe the same idea will have occurred to every single Member of your Lordship's House. This is not a perfect Bill. It is not in some respects what I could wish to see it. One serious practical danger, and one which I fear we cannot deal with in your Lordships' House, is with regard to the upkeep of the schools. That is now charged upon the school funds, but it will be in the future, in the case of denominational schools, a burden that will fall on the subscribers, and I think that may constitute a very serious incubus. I know schools myself which were built many years ago and which were supposed to be models of their kind but which from age and from the progress of public opinion have certainly become out of date. They will probably have to be pulled down, and at present I do not exactly see where in some cases the funds will be forthcoming to rebuild them. I think also that many requirements will be made which will take existing managers by surprise, and that we shall need all the self-devotion of the clergy and laity alike if we are to maintain some of the denominational schools at the present level and prevent their being turned into provided schools.
But after all, my Lords, this Bill, whatever its imperfections may be, at present holds the field. There has been no alternative scheme presented to the House. There has been scarcely any alternative scheme even hinted at. I believe there is one Minister who has held Cabinet rank in another place, who has indicated that he has some measure 1255 up his sleeve which may set everything right; all I can say is that if he has it up his sleeve he has never proposed it. I have read most carefully the debates which have taken place both in and out of Parliament on this subject, and I defy anyone to say that any clear and comprehensive scheme which could possibly be worked has ever been placed as an alternative before the people of this country.
Even supposing that the Bill is not all that could be wished, what do we gain by it? We gain four things. First, it co-ordinates for the first time our educational system which sorely wanted something of the kind. Secondly it places for the first time in the hands of a public authority the power to see that the secular teaching in all schools is thoroughly up to date and efficient. Thirdly (and I confess I attach great importance to this) it for the first time makes it possible for women to sit upon these boards as managers of local schools and especially of the rural schools in which I think their assistance may be beyond all price. I am not at all satisfied that in the board schools at present the pressure which is being put upon the children (sometimes even with the electric light) is not seriously affecting the eyesight of the children. There have been researches made by medical men into the number of children educated in Board schools within the Bills of Mortality whose sight and hearing cannot be described as normal. I do not propose to trouble your Lordships with the figures, but they are accessible to all of us. They work out most unsatisfactorily as far as regards the general health of the population. We know perfectly well that in Germany the medical authorities have already had to deal very seriously indeed with the tendency to overwork and overpressure to which children of very tender years are exposed in that country. I confess that I can conceive nothing which is more likely to prevent any overstraining of the youthful nerves, or the youthful minds, than that capable and clever women should find a place upon many of these boards, and that they should be able to apply to the moral and physical training of the children that assistance which is often wanted under present conditions. Then, fourthly, the nation obtains a direct 1256 present by this Bill of a sum estimated at from £25,000,000 to £35,000,000, in the shape of the schools which have been built by voluntary subscriptions, and which it would otherwise have either to build or to lease. I think that all those are definite and substantial advantages.
I quite admit that, as the right rev. Prelate observed, it is possible that should all the different elements who are mixed up in the educational question combine to wreck the Bill they may do it very serious mischief when it becomes an Act. If the clergy of the Church of England, the Nonconformist ministers, the Roman Catholic episcopacy, those ratepayers who draw nice distinctions between the payment of rates and the payment of taxes, and finally the school teachers who may be dissatisfied with some of the incidences of their new position—if they all determine that the Bill shall not be a success, it is possible that they may have their way. But I confess that I have more confidence in my fellow-countrymen. I do not believe that they would act in so foolish, so wrong a manner as to do their best to render impossible the work of educating our little children—who, after all, are a factor of the situation, though the consideration of it has been so often neglected. The men and women of the future generation, the men and women upon whom, humanly speaking, the weal or woe of this country depends, surely ought not to be left during their tender years to the mercy of an indifferent education simply because a number of excellent and well-meaning individuals have made up their minds that for one reason or another they do not mean that the Act should be a success. All I can say is that if that be the mind of the country now, it is very different from what the mind of the country always has been hitherto. I do not believe it for one moment. I believe that should this Bill become an Act it will falsify the expectations and the predictions which have been made with regard to it, as the Act of 1870 has falsified them for the last thirty-five years. I believe that if we can all be content to look a little more upon the many things in which we have a common interest, upon the many things in which we are agreed, and 1257 less upon the comparatively few things in which we differ, there is no reason why this Bill should not be in every sense of the word, and as far as human ingenuity can make it, a crowning success. It is never safe to prophesy unless you know, but I cannot help thinking that those of your Lordships who live to see the operation of this Bill two years hence will be surprised, now, to hear the sort of prophecies which can be made with regard to it—prophecies wholly unfortified by all the facts of the case. I think that we owe a deep debt of gratitude to those who have taken an interest in the education of the past, and I will not credit for a moment that we of this generation shall be behind those who have gone before us in endeavouring to make the education of this country all it ought to be, all it might be, and to give Englishmen a fair chance in the race of life against those competitors by whom they are surrounded on every side, and in comparison with whom they are at present sorely handicapped by the system of education—even improved as it has been—which now prevails. I would appeal if they possibly can the Party aspect of the case, and to concur with those on this side of the House who are ardently anxious for the future of education, and not to stand in the way of a measure which I am persuaded will be for the lasting good of the country.
§ *LORD COLERIDGE
My Lords, the first object of every Education Bill should be the improvement of education, and I am afraid that amidst the somewhat violent disputes which have enveloped this Bill this primary object has been a great deal overlooked. Does this Bill improve education, does it improve the education of the young, does it fit them better for the competition in life of which the noble Lord who has just sat down has spoken?
Now, the history of education in this country since 1870 proves this, at any rate. It proves that if you put education in the hands of the ratepayers and allow them the management of their own money they will build up for themselves an efficient system of education.
1258 Since 1870, the time from which we date the birth of board schools, School Boards have spread and grown and covered the land until they now educate some half of the boys and girls in the elementary schools of the country. And they have done that in spite of every obstacle that has been placed in their way by the advocates of denominational education. In the year 1876 the noble Duke who introduced this Bill expressed his belief in the principle of the School Boards as the abiding and true principle which he said would in the end prevail. Their teaching, their equipment, their buildings, all are the best. Their educational results have been superior, and they have been entirely out-stripped the sectarian schools, who cannot keep up with them. That the religious teaching in them has not been inefficient has been testified to by the evidence given before the Royal Commission, by the evidence given by the late Archbishop of Canterbury, and by a right rev. Prelate now on the Bench. And with regard to their religious education. I have heard no complaints, no rumours of complaints, on that score from any of the parents of the children who go to those schools. well, my Lords, if the object of the Legislature was the improvement of education, one would have thought that any Government having education at heart would have encouraged and spread the growth of those schools which have beaten all other competitors. This Bill proceeds to abolish those very schools. Every effort is made, so to speak, to catch the infant lamb, and to pen him into one of the sectarian folds; what the real worth of his education is to be seems to be quite a secondary matter.
Now, this Bill proposes to deal with two classes of education. It proposes to deal with higher education and with elementary education. It is quite true that is places them both under one authority. It is also quite true that higher education in this country has grown up piecemeal, and has grown up a great deal in a haphazard manner. School Boards, for instance, have come to the rescue of higher education; they have provided higher grade schools; they have provided evening schools; they have provided schools and colleges, and classes. But so far as the work of the 1259 School Boards in this direction is concerned, the Cockerton decision—I venture to characterise it as an inspired decision—has destroyed and crippled that work. And this Bill now destroys the authors of that work likewise. This Bill, moreover, repeals the Technical Instruction Acts, and it destroys, in the first place, every statutory power which has been operative in regard to higher education in the past. It produces an absolutely clean state, and what does the Government propose to write upon it? We have had some light thrown upon What ought to be done. We have had the Report of the Royal Commission, and the noble Duke has described to us the introduction of the Bills of 1896, 1900, and 1901. All those are thrown aside and the work of higher education is placed in the hands of the Country Councils so far as the counties are concerned in a mode which the noble Duke now says is not optional. All I can say is that it was optional when the Bill was introduced, but an Amendment was moved to make it mandatory, and that Amendment was opposed by the Government. The words which have been inserted are curious words, and I am not by any means sure that they contain the compulsory powers which the noble Duke has attributed to them. The words are, if I remember right, that they "may consider," and if they do consider, then they "shall take such steps as shall seem to them desirable." That is language falling far short in its compulsory and mandatory character of the language in any of the Bills introduced by the noble Duke or in the propositions recommended by the Royal Commission.
§ *LORD COLERIDGE
"Shall consider the educational needs of their area and take such steps as seem to them desirable." To my mind that is not mandatory. The Country Council may say "Yes, we will consider; we have considered, and having considered we do not think anything more than this very small step desirable;" and I should like to know, if that position is taken up by 1260 any Country Council, whether there is any lawyer in this House who would say that any compulsory powers could be applied to it. I may be wrong in that. I would only like to ask the noble Duke, if I am wrong, why did the Government reject the Amendment proposing the word "shall" instead of the word "may" which was in the Bill as originally introduced? The word "may" was in the Bill when it was originally introduced; the word "shall" was proposed to be introduced to make it compulsory, but that Amendment got refused, a division was that Amendment got refused, a division was taken upon it, and the Amendment was lost.
Now I pass from that to the next head. A very limited power of expenditure is placed in the hands of the local authorities. We know what the provisions are as to the counties—that the County Councils should spend the whisky money and 2d. in the £, and that the Councils of boroughs and urban districts should spend an extra 1d. in the £. Now, in this matter the local authority might have had an impulse given to it in either of two ways, either by direct popular representation, or by having certain powers subject to the direction and control of the Board of Education. It might have had, and I should like to know why it has not— because it would be a most useful thing—the powers given under the Endowed Schools Act of 1869. It has none of these things. There is not a word in the Bill defining its duties, its powers, or its covers. "Education other than elementary." Why that would comprise the education of the upper and of the middle classes; it would comprise grammar schools; it would comprise girls high schools; it would comprise private academies, and I am not sure that it would not comprise our big public schools. Also, namely (I will enumerate them) evening continuation schools, higher grade schools, the teaching of specific subjects in day schools, science and art classes, municipal technical colleges for teachers. Now with regard to the whole of this, there in no provision to compel either that the schools shall be provided, or that there 1261 shall be a sufficient number of them, or that they shall be suitable in curriculum, or that there shall be an adequacy of staff and equipment, or that there shall be inspection, or that they shall be available to all. I say, having regard to that, it seems to me so far as higher education is concerned this Bill is a very great step backwards. A great opportunity was afforded to the Government, which opportunity it seems to me they have sadly neglacted. Now let us contrast this. There is an Act called the Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889. Let the noble Duke look at the provisions of that Act. Each county has a duty cast upon it—an imperative duty—to submit a scheme to the Charity Commissioners for intermediate and technical education, and they have a right to levy a rate unlimited in amount. If those powers are entrusted to the local authorities for higher education in Wales, what is the reason for not entrusting similar powers, with similar compulsion and with similar rating facilities, to other parts of the country?
My Lords, I have said what I have to say about this Act so far as it affects higher education. I should like to say a word so far as it affects elementary education. It seems to me that with regard to elementary education there are two ways of dealing with it, both of which admit of very sound reasons. First of all, you can entrust elementary education to the central body, urban or county, a body which at least is popularly elected. There is a great deal to be said against that. First of all, it would add very severely to their labours; they would probably have to act through committees of their own number, and it would undoubtedly lead to an alteration in the complexion of that body. You would have strenuous educational conflicts in each Division and you would have a different style of man coming upon the central authority; and I doubt not it might damage the work that those Councils do now in other directions. But at any rate it would have this advantage that it would stimulate to activity and life that body in matters educational. That is the first alternative. There is another alternative that admits a very cogent argument. Yon could have the local education bodies popularly elected. At any rate, What- 1262 ever they spent would have the sanction of the constituency which they served.
But, my Lords, it seems to me that this Bill shows the worship of a fetish. The noble Duke kept reiterating in his speech that whatever the failure of the Bill in other respects, at any rate, it created "one authority"—there was no overlapping, no confusion, and there was "one authority." Now, what has been set up? There is first of all the Board of Education. I pass by that, because, of course, that is the highest authority, whatever is done. Then you have the local education authority; then you have the education committee; then you have the managers. Now it seems perfectly plain to me that the local education authority, which the noble Duke says will be so supreme, will have no substantial voice in the matter. I do not think it is intended to have; and I will say wh—because it is the only body that is popularly elected. Now why do I think that it will have very little substantial voice? It is quite true that it will levy the rate. Well, this House has to sanction expenduture, but what authority has this House over the expenditure of the country? It can only reject Money Bills by dislocating the finances of the whole Empire. So your Lordships will find that the education committee being the persons who will spend, the local education authority, namely, the County Council, will practically have to say ditto to the expenditure and ditto to what the education committee say. And if they do not there is always the power of the Board of Education above them, which may compel them to agree with their own local education committee in matters of difference. Therefore, I say, I think it is clear that the local education authority will practically do nothing but write cheques or levy rates. It is the education committee that is the substantial body to do the work; it is that body that has to take the place of the vanished School Board. Not a single member of that body need be popularly elected—not one. And to prevent, as it seems to me, the breath of popular election from ever blowing upon these bodies, it is carefully provided that they shall come into existence before there can be any contest in the constituencies of the County Council, and before, 1263 therefore, they can ever have a chance of returning to the County Council men who may be interested in local education. Why is that? If it be desired that there should be one authority, and if the noble Duke claims that the one authority of the County Council has some popular representative instincts in it, why not arrange that the first body constituted under this Act shall be constituted after an election which has given the constituencies the power to elect person whom they think proper to represent them upon that authority? My Lords, I cannot explain that of myself. Therefore, what we have is this, that the local education authority, upon which no single member of the County Council need compulsorily be a member, is to be the creation of a Council never elected for such a purpose, and having no popular sanction or mandate for such an election.
Then as to the term of these local education committees. Are they to be for life? No term is mentioned. Every one of the appointments of the local education committee, so far as the Act is concerned, may be for life, and so far as the Act is concerned no member need ever be a member of the Council, and no member need ever retire during the course of his natural life, It does seem to me that to suggest that such a body as this is an efficient substitute for the vanished School Board, with its popular fibre and its power of representing fibre and its power of representing popular opinion, is a most extraordinary idea. Moreover, the education committee is apparently to be flooded with that precious person, the educational expert. I do not want to say anything disrespectful of the expert, but I think the educational expert is about as big a fraud as any expert in the world. Who is going to be this precious expert? He is to be a man "experienced in education"; he is to be a man "acquainted with the needs of the various kinds of schools in the area." I think I see the educational expert is meant to be. He can be nothing but the clergyman. I do not suppose there will be another man of station and position who has ever taught in the school but the clergyman, and the clergyman will undoubtedly be a man "acquainted with the needs of the various parishes in the area," And obviously what is intended is this, that the clergyman, who is not content with being the ex officio chairman with a 1264 casting vote upon the managers of his own school, is now, under the guise of an educational expert, to invade the managerial body of the provided school. My Lords, whether by design or not, that will possibly prevent the free expansion of work and activity of the non-sectaraian schools, and will hamper the formation of schools, and will hamper the formation of school of that class in the future.
My Lords, this Bill is designed to prevent the creation of non-sectarian schools in the future. Let us take an instance. A new school is necessary; is it to be a non-sectarian or is it to be a sectarian school? The local education authority suggest or propose that it shall be a non-sectarain school. Up jumps the clergyman and his ten ratepayers, and he proposes a sectarian school, and the appeal is made to the Board of Education. What is the Board to consider? They have got to consider firstly the interests of secular education. Well, it will be easy to show that in either case secular education will be equally good—that there will not be a pin to choose between them. Next they have got to have regard to the wishes of the parents. This is a very strange Clause; when it is suggested that on the managerial body there shall be introduced persons representing the wishes of the parents the Government object; they will not have them on the board at all; yet when they think that on the question as to whether there is to be a non-sectarian school or a sectarian school it will possibly aid in the direction of preference for a non-sectarian school, then, if you please, is called in the aid of the parents' wishes. Well, my Lords, I should think probably in those cases the wishes of the parents will be much divided, or very apathetic, and what will really dictate the choice will be the third recommendation, namely, that they shall have regard to the economy of rates. Now what is the position there? By the Voluntary Schools Act of 1897, all rates on voluntary schools are abolished, and they remain upon all others. Therefore, the first thing that will be said by the Board of Education—it must be said and ought to be said—is "We are to have regard to economy of rates; well, the law settles that for us, because if we say it shall be a non-sectarian school, the school will have to pay the rate, and if we say it is to be a sectarian school them, as a voluntary school, it need not pay any rates at 1265 all." Therefore it seems to me that that question is decided very much before hand by the provisions of the Act. I think the probability will be that the choice will be in favour of sectarian schools.
Now the sectarian school, which is obviously intended to be the school of the future—what is it? It is managed by foundation managers. The clergyman has two votes; in nine cases out of ten by trust deed he is an ex officio manager, and therefore he has only to get two others to agree with him in order to carry his way. Nor will the subscribers have to pay for the privilege of controlling. It is only repairs that fall on the subscribers. They have ample funds given them by the endowments—all the endowment, if the terms of the endowment prescribe that it is to be given for the building of the school; half, if the terms are not so clear in favour of the building. They have school fees, which are paid not by themselves but by the parents; they have the rents of the teachers' houses. All these sources of income may be pooled, and therefore no subscriptions need practically be paid in the future. That is the net result of this Bill.
My Lords, I say that this Bill in the first place destroys School Boards. It deprives non-sectarian schools of any possibility of direct popular control. It quarters sectarian schools upon the public without any substantial control; and it hampers the creation of non-sectarian schools in the future. It is a step backwards and a long step backwards on the score of secondary or higher education, and I do not believe it is approved of substantially by the country.
Now, my Lords, what is the function of this House? The function of this House has been well expressed by two noble Lords now in this House. The noble Duke in the year 1893 said this—It has been absolutely impossible to form any opinion as to what the real desire and wish of the people is upon this very vital question. We contend that it is a question large enough to justify us in refusing to pass this measure until the question is settled beyond the shadow of a doubt.Then the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, who of course speaks with the authority of the law, said—If there is one thing which proves the absolute nece sity of such an institution as the 1266 House of Lords it is that that House has given the constituencies an opportunity of making their voices heard on a matter in respect of which they have been tricked out of their votes by these men.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (The EARL of HALSBURY)
Will the noble Lord say where and when those words were used?
§ *LORD COLERIDGE
Those words were used in this House on September 8th, 1893, and I have copied them from the authorised Report in Hansard. I think, my Lords, that those are very cogent arguments, and, following, not the language, but the example, set to me by those noble Lords, I must vote against the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ VISCOUNT GOSCHEN
My Lords, I think it would assist us in debating this Bill if we had any confidence that the noble Lords opposite and the Opposition generally would stand by one line of argument; then we should know on what points to reply to them. There are an infinite number of cases where the diverse views held by Members of the Opposition are apparent, but I can point to one after the speech that has just been delivered by the noble Lord. He believes that the duties of the local authorities and the County Councils will practically be confined to signing cheques—I think that that was his phrase—that practically they will exercise no control, that they will look with an apathetic eye upon the operations of the education committee, and that they will supply the funds, and that will be all. Now, I have ringing in my ears a speech—I will not say where I heard It—of a very different character, where it was prognosticated that every County Council and every Urban Council would be distracted in the future by the fervid, the perfervid interest, that they would take in educational matters; that the consideration of lunatic asylums, the consideration of roads, and every other consideration would be passed over repeatedly in order to come to that most exciting and engaging topic the question of education, surrounded by a "religious atmosphere." Well, I do not know which of these two doctrines is correct. My own impression it that the local authorities to whom this duty is assigned will endeavour to perform 1267 their duties as popularly elected bodies generally perform the duties assigned to them; that is to say, with industry, and, as far as they possibly can, with impartiality. That is my view of the line which the local authorities will take.
Before I deal with the further arguments of the noble Lord, I wish to say one word upon that which I may almost call the neglected part of this great Bill, namely the part relating to secondary education. There, I frankly confess it appears to me to be more or less committing us to a leap in the dark, because we are not sufficiently informed of the ideal which the Education Department and the Government have as to what ought to be done. It has been clearly explained to us how the money is to be applied so far as it supplements existing arrangements, but attention of the public has been so concentrated upon elementary education that I think scarcely enough attention has been given to that part of the Bill which is concerned with the great question of secondary education. Perhaps the noble Lord who represents the Department may be able to tell us something on this subject tomorrow. I should like to know more as to to goal at which they are aiming and the subjects they consider as necessary. There is a distinct indication given to the country authorities—whether it is mandatory or not, I will not argue with the noble Lord opposite—that they are to deal with secondary education; but as to when they are to consider that the supply is deficient, and upon what principles they will go in arrining at a proper supply, we are very much in the dark. I do not blame the Government with regard to it, because, if they had been invited to speak at greater length upon the subject of secondary education, no doubt they would have done so, but, to the great misfortune of the country, to the great misfortune of the country, to the great misfortune of education, to the misfortune of all religious bodies, the subject has been so overlaid with religious controversy that some of the greatest issues connected with this Bill have necessarily been neglected and have passed out of sight. It is a matter for deep regret that this move forward in the direction of education has been clouded to the extent which it has been 1268 colouded by this fog of religious controversy. By whom has it been forced? It has been forced by that body in the country, who were deeply disappointed— I put the matter quite squarely—that the hope of the demise of the voluntary schools under financial pressure would be averted by this Bill. I am not sure that most candid Members of the Opposition would not freely confess that that was at the bottom of their opposition. They have always been conscientiously against the voluntary schools. The voluntary schools since 1870 have had a terrible struggle. They have been assisting in the education of millions of children; they have done a great work; their subscriptions have been meeting that protion of the education for which it was demanded that they should pay; but it would seem that the iron hand of financial necessity was closing round the throats of the voluntary schools, and the moment was expected when death would ensue. This Bill saves the voluntary schools from that death. It has been put before us that subscriptions were falling off. It is not the subscriptions falling off which has created so much the financial difficulties of the voluntary schools. It has been the increasing demands of the Education Department. I do not say that proper pressure was not put on, but do not ley those who have supported the voluntary schools and who, in those voluntary schools, have contrubuted to the education, so far as they are concerned gratis, of a number of Dissenters—do not let them be told that it is on account of their illiberality that the voluntary schools have been at the point that unless they are saved by some Government money they must necessarily go to the wall. No; it has been increased pressure which has been put on by the Education Department—occasionally from fads—often from fads, but also from the demand of the country that the education should be more effective.
Now, my Lords, I speak to your Lordships tonight in the capacity of the manager of a humble parish school. I have some experience form that position which I occupy, and I know practically how matters have gone. We have been told that the voluntary schools have been under no control. I think that any body who is the manager of a voluntary school will know what control is. They say "There is only inspection." What, "only inspection!" Why, the inspector is a 1269 despot; the inspector holds the power of the purse. Unless the local managers can satisfy the inspector the grant is cut off. They may have to dismiss their teacher. It is a fallacy—due, I think, to a want of sufficient knowledge of the practical working of these matters—to suppose that the local managers at present have been uncontrolled. They have been under the strictest possible control. We cannot have desks of any size without the inspector saying what they shall be; we cannot have hat-racks without appealing to the inspector. I myself have had to build an annexe to the school in order to have hat-racks in the cloak-room for the pupils. Of course, I was very glad to do that, but I only mention it to show how strictly we were under control. The control is so strict that I know that, in the days before the surprise visits were arranged, two or three days before the inspector came, neither the schoolmaster nor the school-mistress could ever get a night's rest. The pressure of the school inspector was thorough and despotic. That is the control under which we have been working.
Now, my Lords, may I state what probably is new to a good many noble Lords opposite and to the public generally, that quite apart from the compulsion of the Legislature, from the very idea that it was advisable to take parents and even Dissenters into Council, there are many Boards of Management at present existing upon which Dissenters—Nonconformists—sit and act. That is so in the case of large numbers of schools. It is so in my own school. We have the vicar and myself, and we have one Churchman, and one Dissenter whom (almost altra rires, against the trust deed) the vicar himself invited to take part in our deliberations because the vicar was anxious to have a representative of the Dissenters on our Board. Now that kind of spirit is supposed not to exist amongst the clergy; and I protest against the way in which the clergy have been treated in this respect. We have cases trotted out to us where clergymen have been intolerant, and no doubt there are such cases, but against that we can set off large numbers of cases in which the clergy have voluntarily asked Dissenters to act with them 1270 in managing schools where there were dissenting children. One would think, when one reads and hears all the speeches that are made, that it was a terrible grievance on the Dissenters, and that the children were all being inoculated with Anglican doctrines. How many children in our voluntary schools have been withdrawn by the parents from Church instruction on account of the teaching of Anglican doctrines? It is an infinitesimal proportion. I should like noble Lords to answer the question— Why are they not withdrawn? It it because parents have known perfectly well that common-sense and useful instruction was given to the children and that there was no reason whatever to withdraw the children. It is really almost too absurd—and one wonders what the vast body of unbelievers think when they hear of the terrors which are expressed in this matter—it is almost absurd to think that the parson and the schoolmaster are conspiring together in order to Anglicise the school and in order to force dogmatic teaching on the children. I will give noble Lords opposite a test. Anglican schools have existed for the last thirty years, and they have become more and more active, they have become more and more alive to their duties. Have they so perverted the children generally who have been to the schools that the present generation are more dogmatically Anglican than the generation before? I dare say many a devout rector or vicar may wish that it was so, but when we know that the Anglicans have in such vast numbers had the field to themselves, the question is, have they done any damage to the children of this country? On the contrary, they have civilised them; they have increased their love for education, and they have done good in many parishes throughout the whole of this country. We hear a great deal about the "atmosphere," and the fear is expressed that the Nonconformists are not sufficiently protected in some of these schools. Well, I doubt whether it is a bad atmosphere. Sometimes one would wish that the atmosphere penetrated even more deeply than it does, but it requires a very strong atmosphere to be able to influence at least the agricultural children of this country. It 1271 will be a long time I think before dogmatic teaching sinks deeply into our agricultural population.
Then, it has been suggested this evening that the schoolmaster might belong to a different denomination, and it is considered as a reflection against the sacred doctrine of the abolition of tests that teachers should belong to the denomination of which the school is. Now I want to know something about that. At all events I have a clear record— I ought to have a clear record, in the eyes of Nonconformists, for I myself took the main part in the abolition of tests in the Universities as Member for Oxford a great many years ago. Therefore I have got absolutely no anti-Nonconformist views in regard to this question. But common-sense would tell you that you should prefer to have in your school a teacher belonging to the denomination to which your school belongs. Take Wesleyan schools. I should like to know is there one single Wesleyan school where they have a Churchman as a master? I have never heard of one. It is said we have to deal with the teaching of our children, and we have got to think of the wishes of the parents. I heard the statement last night that parents really had nothing to say in this matter—that, as the State pays, the State should decide as to what is for the good of the community. But I hold the more old-fashioned doctrine that parents have still something to say as to the education of their children. I believe that the great majority of the parents would wish that the schoolmaster should belong to the community which they belong to themselves, and that, therefore, where there is a great majority they would themselves prefer that the majority should select the teacher.
My Lords, I pass from that subject to a question which I confess is very obnoxious to me. It is a question that has been argued in your Lordships' House tonight, and with has been argued in the country, and it is this: What is the loss and the gain to the Church through this Bill? What is the loss and gain to the Nonconformists through this Bill? It has become almost absolutely indispensable to deal with this question, on account of the manifold misrepresentations which are 1272 made with regard to this Bill. One would think, listening to the speeches, not so much the lamb-like and more innocent speeches that are made in your Lordships' House, but speeches that are made else-where and on the platform, that positively this Bill threw back the position of the Nonconformists with regard to the control of our schools, and that the Church would have the schools more in their owh hands than they had before—that this was a reactionary measure, and that it was a surrender of popular control. Why, my Lords, looking at it from the point of view of the school managers, we may gain in money, but we lose largely in control. We lose more in control than, as a school manager deeply interested in the school, I myself like to contemplate. It is a heavy price that the managers of the voluntary schools have to pay for the financial relief which this Bill is to give them. I only trust that the enactments which have been made may not diminish the local interest of the school managers, which is essential for the well-con-ducting of these schools. You may lay down your syllabuses and your books; you may lay down your programme and the number of your teachers, centrally or by an education committee; still the managers have got to see that it is all carried out, and they have got to see what influence they can bring to bear upon the whole tone of the school. That is a matter that has scarcely been touched upon in any of the discussions upon this Bill. The question of the tone of the school has been entirely ignored—as if you could separate absolutely secular education from religious education—and three has been the fear that some little breath of religious education might unfortunately permeate into secular education.
Well, my Lords, it Is, I confess very difficult to separate the two, but now let me take the secular education in the first place. I have, I hope, proved conclusively that, as it is, the school managers have not been uncontrolled; that if they had Government money there if they had Government money there was Government control— continuous, formal, effective Government control payment by results being the result of inspection. The powers which have been exercised by the school managers are now to be transferred practically to the education committees. I do not quite know 1273 how that will work in detail, but hitherto under the Code the school managers have managed the books and the times of the school, within certain limits the subjects, the degree of interest to be given to each, and especially I may mention the syllabuses—the books. Noble Lords tonight have said: "Oh, there will be no really effective control taken away from the managers." I say that all control is taken away. It is said: "Oh, you will be able to dismiss or to appoint the teachers." You cannot dismiss the teachers. The local authority has a veto upon that. The local authority can coerce the local managers almost in every conceivable educational point. Noble Lords opposite, and those who oppose this Bill, may be delighted at that result; it will be taken away from "those incompetent school managers"—men who have loved their schools, who have supported them for thirty years, but who are to be displaced now by those who dislike denominational education, and wish to substitute a different system for it. They are to be displaced. Their power is to be transferred to the local authorities. Dissenters say that this is a Church Bill, and that it is the Church that gains. But the fact is, that popular control over secular education is under this Bill effectively, decidedly, and widely transferred to the local authorities.
Now, my Lords, the school managers are to have two members appointed beyond their own four. I should like to know who those two are likely to be—I mean, not the persons, but the class. I can conceive two different theories. I can conveive the theory — and this is the theory which is put forward by the belligerent and aggressive Nonconformists—that if there were a Nonconformist, or a secular, or a Cowper-Temple majority on some of the County Councils, they would put on two men on purpose to represent that side. If controversy is to be the guiding factor in the appointment of the two additional school managers, then, indeed, I fear there will be friction beyond end, and I fear efforts may be made to wreck those results which every patriotic citizen would desire to see following from this Bill. But I do not think that that need be the interpretation put upon it. The interpretation I should myself wish to see put upon it is that in choosing the two managers who are to be added to the four the governing idea would be 1274 some view to local considerations. If there was a considerable body of Dissenters, a Dissenter should be put on, not to fight but to co-operate; a parent should be put on to put forward his views, not to create friction but to avoid friction; and from that point of view (as noble Lords have seen from the experiments which I mentioned as having been tried in my own parish and which have been tried elsewhere) the addition of others is useful. But at all events there you have the successive loss of power—some of it right, some of it perhaps wrong—from the school managers. You lose your sole control, because two others are to be put on the school managing committee from outside. You have no power left, but the whole power of the six is to be transferred to the education committee. Therefore I say that, as regards secular education, with all the powers reserved for the education committee and ultimately for the County Councils, to say that this Bill is conceived in opposition to popular control is as great a perversion of the truth as has ever been made by a partizan, a pamphleteer, or a controversialist on the platform, or by any other person. It is absolutely untrue. The position is there. We are saved by the finance, but we are saved to continue a precarious existence under the absolute control of popularly elected bodies.
There is one point that strikes me incidentally. Besides having the two additional members joined on to the four who, I will say, belong to us, are we to have inspectors appointed by the local authority? I have heard nothing about that. I do not know whether the noble lord who represents the Department will be able to tell us more about that.
§ VISCOUNT GOSCHEN
Yes, they may inspect, and a pretty inspection that will be. We have already got the Government Inspector. Now we are going to have two despots—the central despot and the local despot. Whether there will be the slightest harmony between the local despot and the central despot is a question which I should be very sorry to answer, except as expressing my conviction that they are certain not entirely to agree. And who is to overrule? That is a point that has not been explained at all. Suppose the 1275 local inspector says; "I will not have such and such a book: that book is a bad one; it is ineffective; it does not represent the popular view of history or geography"—(perhaps there will be more difference as to history than as to geography!)—who is to decide between the two? And there will be the wretched school managers who are to be inspected by a local inspector who will tell them that something is all wrong; they meet his views; then the Government Inspector comes down and tells them that it is all right. And the Government Inspectors are not always consistent; one inspector does not always take the same view as another inspector. On that subject I could tell your Lordships some doleful tales; it is one of those factors which has assisted in ruining the finances of the voluntary schools. I myself have had an experience in that direction. Pictures were ordered at great cost on the representation of some inspector; they were bought; the children were excellently taught according to those pictures by object lessons, and so forth. (Noble Lords will excuse me if my nomenclatare is not absolutely correct. Then a new inspector was appointed, and he came down and said: "All that is too much advanced; you are trying the brains of the infants too much; they answer the questions very well, but they are too advanced, and you must have a totally different set of pictures." Well, my Lords, that is very trying to voluntary school finances. But I want to know is that going to be a danger to which local finance is to be exposed in the future? What are to be the relations between the central Department and the local authorities? Will be central Department treat the local authorities with a little more deference than they have treated the school managers, and will they treat them all alike? Will they be able to maintain the uniformity which hitherto they have in vain attempted to secure through the inspectors? Will they be able to attain it through their popularly elected local bodies? That is a question that the future will have to decide; but I must say that I think the question of double inspection is one which really demands consideration, because it may expose the whole system to a very considerable degree of pressure.
My Lords, I pass from the question of secular education to the very difficult question of religious education. Here 1276 I would deprecate in the strongest possible manner the attempts which have been made, I do not say directly, but impliedly, or perhaps I should say the tone which has been adopted, regarding the close connection of the clergy with these schools. I think that that close connection is of the greatest importance. It may be nece sary to check the excesses of a certain class of parsons who bring obloquy on the whole body of the clergy—an obloquy which ought to restrain them, whatever their convictions may be. The whole tone of the debates in another place, and of many speeches on the platform—in fact, I am not sure that it has not penetrated even within these walls tonight—is this! the clergyman is a rather dangerous man as regards the school. Heaven forbid that such a view as that should penetrate the public opinion of the country! It would be a calamity if it were so, as the reverse is the case. The men who are to be checked by the Kenyon-Slaney Clause are, as was extremely well put by my noble friend Lord Lansdowne, a very, very small minority, but, of course, what they do is exaggerated in public opinion, and put forward as if it were the practice of the clergy at large. I say without hesitation that some of them, very extreme men, are pseudo- Anglicans, but they are worse than that in one respect, for they are also pseudo- Romanists, because they will not submit to the discipline which the Romanists would exact from any recalcitrant clergyman. They claim the licence of the English Church, while they put for ward doctrines which are not the doctrines of the English Church. I think, and I say so frankly, that they have done incalculable harm to the clergy at large, and I regret it with a regret the depth of which I cannot express, because, I hold, on the other hand, that the Church during recent years has developed a vigorous life under feelings of enthusiasm which has been of the greatest advantage to the country at large. We no longer have the cold clergy of a certain number of years ago. There are men—a good many perhaps—who would perfer to have the cold, easygoing rector or vicar of, say, thirty years ago; they would prefer not to see men who are meddling far beyond their 1277 own school. Meddling? No, moulding, often, the civilisation of their parishes, and they would prefer to see quieter men.
Now, my Lords, there is one thing which is as certain as anything in the world, and that is, that for all great movements—for life itself—you want enthusiasm. The reason I resent the excesses of fanatics is that it brings a certain amount of obloquy on enthusiasts. What have not the enthusiasts amongst the clergy done during these last years? The Right Rev. Prelate the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of their services and their pecuniary sufferings, but what have they not done in the way of assisting, apart from their own pulpits, the cause of civilisation in crowded towns? Think of the occupation of these men—you will see why I ask you to think of it in a moment. Their occupation in the large towns, and to a certain extent in the country also, is what? They have to wage a terrible fight. They have to fight barbarism, darkness, sin, poverty, all in their vilest shapes. Day after day these devoted men are struggling in the performance of that sacred duty as soldiers of the Cross. But there is one redeeming duty that they have to discharge. What is that redeeming duty? It is that of looking after their schools. I am told that from all these sights and from all this work among the depraved, the poor, and the unbelieving, where they are fighting a hopeless battle, they come to their school, and it is in the school that they see the hope of the regeneration of the next generation. It is in the innocent, or the comparatively innocent, children whom they have before them that they see some consolation, some privilege, some redeeming feature in their terrible and sombre work. I say that to discourage these men would be a calamity. There is one right rev. Prelate, at any rate, who well knows what these things are. The Right Rev. the Bishop of London has been in the East End of London; he knows what are the duties of the clergy there and what their miseries are. If the result of these debates was to cast a slur upon the clergy, or cause suspicions to be expressed towards them, because in their zeal they wish to retain some command and some control over their schools, it would be a great pity. Let us not begrudge them this task, associated as they will be with the managers. Do not let us put enactments 1278 into a Bill which would seem to imply that the clergy of the country are not to be trusted with that which is their sacred duty, and which they have hitherto attempted to discharge, viz., their work in moulding the hearts and souls of the young.
§ *LORD RIBBLESDALE
My Lords, if I may say so without offence, it seems to me that the motor muscle of the eloquent speech to which we have just listened is the happy experiences which the noble Viscount has had owing to his influence with those with whom he has had to do in the management of a voluntary school. I should like to say here that I do not think the experiences he has related to us are exceptional. I am a manager of a voluntary school myself, and I think most people know the difficulty of scraping together subscriptions and keeping up to the mark. I hope I love my school as much as the noble Viscount loves his, but I confess, like the fat boy in "Pickwick," that the noble Viscount made my flesh creep when he spoke of all the new difficulties with which we should be faced under the Bill, a Bill which I agree with him falls far short of an ideal Bill in its management Clauses with regard to voluntary schools. I think we all admire the rather Salvator Rosa-ish picture which he drew of the devotion of the clergy, but I must say, for my own part, that I disassociate myself altogether from the picture he drew of people on this side of the House who take a different view of the clergy from that held by himself.
I confess, my Lords, that I thought the whole area of this subject had been explored, and that there was very little new for anybody to say. The speech of the noble Viscount, however, has wonderfully fertilised the ground, and I have no doubt that in the debate tomorrow he will hear a good many points made, not perhaps against, but at any rate suggested by the points he has made so admirably tonight.
I do not want to give a silent vote on this Bill, because up in the West Riding we do not think much of it, and in that part of the world we are pretty stiff in our convictions. Mr. Fox said that by being a good Churchman you might 1279 become a bad citizen. Speaking for myself, I hope I am a good Churchman; I always listen to the right rev. Bench with interest, and very often with acceptance; I read the lives of great Churchmen, and I approve of a Parliamentary religion. Perhaps, in view of some of the provisions of the scheme now before us, the measure of my approval of a Parliamentary religion is to some extent the measure of my disapproval of the Bill.
The noble Viscount expressed the wish that people on this side of the House would confine themselves to some main ground of objection. I will endeavour to conform to that wish. My main ground of objection to the Bill is that instead of giving us a great educational measure, it seems to me that, as regards voluntary schools, the Government are giving us an Ecclesiastical Instrument. Speaking for myself, I do not want to be taken back to the days of Bishop Jewell, who, putting it generally, held that the voice of the Church was to be held superior to the voice of reason. Nor do I wish to be taken back to the days of tests Nor am I prepared to be satisfied with a very weak dose of education in what seems to me to be a strong decoction of denominational teaching and local government. I do not know what are the general views of the noble Viscount on the Bill, but, as far as I could see, his happy experiences as a manager of a voluntary school led him to make somthing very like an attack in force on the management Clauses of the measure, and he has made it quite clear that he does not approve very much of what I was prepared to say a good word for, namely, the secondary education parts of the Bill. As he is a staunch supporter of His Majesty's Government I will not say what I was going to say, but will accept his adverse criticism that this matter ought to have been looked into much more closely than it was.
Now, the main line of defence in the speeches both of the noble Duke who introduced the Bill, and of the Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury was that the measure co-ordinated education. All through these debates I have noticed that the word "co-ordination" is a sort of "Mesopotamia" which gets people out of difficulties—or into them. The 1280 Prime Minister stated the other day that secondary and elementary education were to be indivisible halves of one great whole, and that one authority was to be responsible for education, for rating, and for administering monies within its area. This body, as we know, is, as the case may be, either the Town or the County Council. What does that mean? It is a body elected, in both cases, for quite different duties both in kind and in degree. These bodies, again to quote the Prime Minister, are nowconstituted by Act of Parliament in a true and real sense the arbiters of education in the area of control.I suppose—and here I find myself in tolerable agreement with the noble Viscount—that that practically means the extinction as a very active force of the old Board of Education. But what is this co-ordination? I would like the noble Duke to tell us whether I should be co-ordinating my affairs if I suddenly bade my agent, whom I had engaged to look after my planting, my draining, and my estate accounts, to choose the governess for the young ladies, to suggest the course of their education, and to select the "coaches" and the public schools to which the young gentlemen of my family were to be a credit. And, to follow out the metaphor, if I were to do this, I should, of course, have to abdicate all control myself, and to pay the piper for a tune I did not call. I do not know whether or not that is co-ordination, but that seems to me to be the position in which you are placing these local authorities. They were elected for quite a different set of duties, and suddenly they are told they are to undertake the education of the country. Far be it from me to speak lightly of local authorities of any sort. I preside over the cautious operation of a Parish Council, and I belong to the London County Council. I hope, without any disrespect to the London County Council, I may say here that when the time comes to deal with London, I should feel much more easy if I saw the London County Council entrusted with the making and the working—certainly the working—of tube railways than if I saw them appointed sole arbiters of elementary education. However, co-ordination is to be the new basis and the progressive force of education. The Primate laid great stress 1281 on the advantages which this Bill offered for securing efficiency in every part. Here I would like to ask whether you will get much co-ordination in a lean clay country, with agricultural wages of perhaps 14s. a week, an impoverished body of ratepayers, and a gentry very much out at elbow? Are their views and action in matters of education likely to be the same as those of, say, the County Council of the West Riding? I do not think they are. But I will pass from that. I am afraid it is impossible to find any fresh ground, so I will take up a matter touched upon by Lord Coleridge. He asked, what is the immediate contribution to the increased efficiency of education under this Bill? In the first place—and I am talking now of the towns—with provided schools—I see that the School Boards are to be abolished, they are to be co-ordinated out of existence. Everybody, I believe, pays tribute to the good work they have done, and Lord Spencer put before us very clearly what this abolition of the School Boards means, viz., the great loss to the country of a volume of expert, trained, and devoted service. It is quite true that by the grace and favour of the new agencies created by the Bill, the members of School Boards may be appointed as nominees, or they may be willing to stand the racket of a municipal election. But will they care to stand that racket? I do not know that they will; they may have no taste for sewers, lamp-posts, highways, or lunatic asylums; and I am bound to say that it seems a most extraordinary start to make, especially at a time when there is a sort of actuinest de republica complexion about every expert on education, owing to our want of education. We are told that we are being beaten in the markets of the world, although the doctors differ as to whether it is due to bad elementary education or to the want of secondary education. We are told that it is quite as much for one or other reason as by our partiality for high wages, short hours, and plenty of rational amusement. I confess that I feel no confidence in this sudden flinging of ourselves educationally on the municipal bosom, this shedding, as it were, of tried and trained servants. Even in the case of the voluntary schools, which the noble Viscount tells us are to be saved under this Bill, I feel only a qualified alleviation of this anxiety when I know that the 1282 new system is to be inaugurated, protected, nurtured, and perfected by the oversight of the right rev. Prelates from their bishopries, and by the inspired efforts of the foundation managers on the spot, of whom, with any ordinary luck, I hope to be one.
Some time ago—but not very long—the Primate levelled at His Majesty's Government the suggestion that they were not a very brave Government. I do not think that anybody will say that now. They have got rid of School Boards; they have pouched—that is not a very nice word—they have collared the endowments—I cannot find quite the right word. ["Appropriated." "Commandeered."] Well, they have appropriated the endowments; they draw the rent for teachers' houses; they have assigned fees in relief of subscriptions: they have renewed tests; and they have unhorsed that venerable maxim that representation and taxation should go together. It is a long time since the Primate—he was then Dr. Temple—used these words (I am speaking of the Commission of 1858)—I should leave the parents of the children to determine the religious character which a public school should have.At the same time, he deprecated the spreading influence of a particular denomination, and said that the religious zeal of that particular denomination was very unhealthy. These voluntary schools now become public schools. And what did the Primate do not very long ago? He warned the voluntary schools against getting on "the slippery slope of rate aid." He said that that would be the end of them. But to-night he has told us that the Bill is a very fine thing for the voluntary schools because they will get off the uncertain basis of voluntary subscriptions by receiving rate aid. I think the Primate was quite right. He never thought—I do not suppose that anyone did at that time—that a Bill of this sert would be brought in. Mr. Haldane, who is a stalwart for the Bill, writes in one of the most influential of the magazines, that Ministers have been "brokers in this mater between Educationalists and the Church." If that is the case, I am bound to say that I do not think the people of this country, or a very large section of them, will be much inclined to employ them again as brokers.
1283 Now I will turn to the education to be provided by Part III. of the Bill. I said at the beginning of my remarks that we had a very strong decoction of what I will call religious politics as against very little about education. In the statement as to the weak dose of education pure and simple, I find I may claim the support of the Prime Minister. Speaking at the Guildhall recently, he said that questions of religion and local government had been a great deal discussed in these debates, but he could not remember much time being given to education. I do not think that that was due to any defect in the Prime Minister's memory; the defect is in his Bill. The fact is, the Bill provides very little for the educationalist to say. Part III. all refers to local government. What do all these Clauses and sub-Sections work up to? Implicitly to the generating of a religious atmosphere, and to keeping it at a particular pitch. In Shakespeare's line—The why is plain as way to Parish Church.It is, as I said just now, the machinery of an Ecclesiastical Instrument. When I first obtained the Bill I looked feverishly through it for something to do with education. The only thing I could find was hidden away in Clause 23, the definition Clause, which, I believe, was closured, and there I found that the mixture is as before, but it is to be made up by fresh chemists, put into new bottles, and labelled with—what shall I call it?—a clergy or bishop's brand. No doubt, here and there, through the Bill you get a glance of that now attenuated organism the Board of Education, a vision of its former self. I quite agree with Lord Goschen that we used to be very much afraid of the Board of Education; it kept us up to the mark very well, particularly in the days of Mr. Acland, and really I, as a manager of a voluntary school, was always afraid to open my letters. Now, as I understand, the Board of Education is only to be called in to give ticklish judgments on the thorny complications which abound throughout this Bill. I am glad to be able to congratulate my old friend Lord Londonderry on looking in health and spirits; he does not appear to feel his situation at all. I am sure he will manage the business very well and that he will steer with ability between the Scylla of the Secular and the Charybdis of the Church controversialists.
1284 I have always noticed that the danger of a Second Reading speech is that, if you look at the Clauses at all, you are told that you ought to reserve your observations until the Committee stage, while if you do not look at the Clauses you are said to be shirking the Bill. I will do a little of both, and get off as lightly as I can. I followed very carefully, and agreed with a great deal of the speech of the noble Viscount with regard to Clause 7. It seems to me an extraordinary Clause. The local authority are to tell the managers what to teach, they are to tell them the right sort of man to teach it, in some cases they can appoint and not dismiss, in other cases they can affirm a dismissal but have nothing to do with the appointment; they are to act on their own views, and yet there is no sort of obligation laid upon them so far as I can see from the Clause, to take any expert advice on the subject. They will have an Education Committee, but I do not know that they are bound to act on its advice. How are they to know all this? Are they to know it by the light of Nature? As Lord Spencer has said, the authority may be some fifty or seventy miles away from the scene of operations; how are they to know all about these matters? I suppose the anonymous letter writer, who always plays a great part in this sort of affair, will come out and inform them of what is going on.
Then I come to the very thing of which Lord Goschen made such a strong point. The local authority can inspect. What are they going to inspect? Will they inspect log-books or lavatories? No doubt these are very good things in their way to inspect, but they will not get you on much educationally. And how do they inspect—like the Government inspector? Lord Goschen asked all these questions and I should very much like to have an answer to them. I quite agree, as far as I read the Clause, it gives the local authority only an enabling power; it does not oblige them to inspect. I can quite see that if they exercise their enabling power they may come into collision with the inspector under the Education Department. I hope we shall have some answers to these questions to-morrow. It seems to me that out of this Clause 7, the local authority and the foundation managers, the noble Marquess and the 1285 Board of Education will emerge with very confused notions of their relative powers and duties and possibilities, but, I think, with very firm convictions that they will have endless opportunities of treading on each other's toes.
I agree that probably all these things will work out. solvitur ambulando is a maxim which applies with wonderfully happy and practical results to English affairs, but I am not so sure about the religious difficulty. Sir John Gorst, whose utterances on education every body reads with interest, has said that the religious difficulty flourishes only on the floor of Parliament and on the platform. I used to think so myself, but I must say that the course of this Bill through Parliament and the feeling which it has aroused in the country make me think it will flourish anywhere if you give it a chance—and I am afraid His Majesty's Government have given it that chance. You have provided us, as somebody has said, with bickerings for ten years to come. The administrative part of the Bill teems with occasions for friction and misunderstanding. The religious atmosphere that you have created—and this I think is the most serious part of all—divides Church and Nonconformity into standing camps, and remits to the Greek Kalends the concordat which I think all sincere people, whatever their views on the matter, really desired to see arrived at.
Now why do I say this? I was very glad to hear the Duke of Devonshire speak quite openly of the tests. I say it because implicitly and explicitly throughout the Bill, you have re-imposed tests. You have Church of England managers for the non-provided schools, and it is clear that the head teachers in these schools also will be Church of England men. I quite admit the toleration of the secondary education part of the Bill, but I adhere to my view that the tests of the elementary part are in a form which is justifiably very unpopular and alarming to a large section of the people of the country. By the Bill it is clear that the seed ground of doctrinal teaching is to be children under fifteen years of age. After that, I suppose they are considered to be immune, unless during that period they have come under the influence of some infidel pupil teacher or assistant teacher, and this brings out 1286 how clearly it is meant that the head-teacher should be a Church of England man.
§ *LORD RIBBLESDALE
No, my 15 has to do with age. I will give the Clause. I said you were a bold Government. In Clause 7, sub-Section 4, you have been sufficiently brave to define the age of denominational puberty. You say that the pupil teacher and the assistant teacher may be anything you please; it is only the head teacher about whom you are particular?
I have here several sincere questions which I wish to put to the noble Duke. I want to ask him about the head teacher. What are the tests? What is required to constitute membership of the Church of England as by this Bill established? Is it the test of Baptism? If so, would baptism by a Nonconformist minister be valid?
§ *LORD RIBBLESDALE
You prescribe that the pupil teacher may be anything you like; you make the foundation managers Church of England people. The trust deeds of voluntary schools always affirm that, so that naturally your foundation managers will be Church of England people, unless you go against the trust. deeds, which I do not believe that even this courageous Government mean to do. I say that explicitly by the operation of the Bill, and implicitly by its wording, you re-impose tests, and the noble Duke all through his speech spoke of the tests of the Bill. What I want to know is how we arrive at the test. Is it the test of baptism? Is it the test of confirmation? 1287 Is it the test of attendance at Holy Communion? Is the attendance to be regular or occasional, or is it to be according to the Prayer-book, that every parishioner should communicate at least three times in the years, of which Easter is to be one?
§ *LORD RIBBLESDALE
I am asking all these questions of the Government. If you are so keen on having Church of England teachers, how do you satisfy yourselves that they are Church of England teachers?
§ *LORD RIBBLESDALE
Who is to certify that they are members of the Church of England? Is there to be any certificate?
§ *LORD RIBBLESDALE
Is it to be on the affidavit of the managers, like Lord Rosebery's German waiter?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
The managers have the power of appointing, subject to the control of the county authority.
§ *LORD RIBBLESDALE
Supposing that under the trust deed people are not satisfied with the appointment on the ground that the person appointed is not what they conceive to be a member of the Church of England; whether he is a manager or a teacher, who is to decide the point?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
I think there is some misunderstanding. There is no test applied to the teachers. The appointment of teachers rests in the 1288 hands of the managers. The trust deed appoints four of those managers to be of the same denomination as that to which the school belongs, and the other two are appointed by the local authority. Therefore, the majority, with the Chairman—who is understood to be the clergyman—will have the appointment of the teacher who is supposed to represent their own religious teaching.
§ *LORD RIBBLESDALE
Of course I must accept the explanation of the noble Marquess, who is at the head of the Board of Education, and probably knows the points to which I am referring. I really did not know of whom to ask these questions; whether of the noble Duke or the noble Marquess, or the right rev. Bench or Lord Hugh Cecil, or Mr. Lloyd-George.
Enough of that. It seems to me that, while it is the duty of the State to educate all alike in secular affairs and good citizenship, those higher duties which we associate with religion should be learnt elsewhere, and that the clergy of all denominations are the proper persons to teach them. That is my individual opinion. Having regard to the majority which His Majesty's Government enjoys in the House of Commons, and to its dictatorship in the House of Lords, and having regard especially to the resolute, yet flexible, mind and high statesmanship of the Prime Minister, I wish that before the right hon. Gentleman had put his hand to drafting this Bill he had tried to arrange a conference with Nonconformists and Leaders of the Church. I believe tha by that means a concordat might have been arrived at, towards the bringing about of which his own tact and ability would have done wonders. However, that has not been done, and there is nothing more to be said about it.
I also wish that with the special advantages enjoyed by His Majesty's Government the opportunity had been taken to work the teachers connected with elementary education into a sort of national Civil Service, with its possibilities of promotion. That, of course, would have had to be in the hands of local authorities, for I cannot conceive that in these days, even a Government endowed with the courage and the advantages of the present Administration, would have dared to impose religious tests upon a branch of the Civil Service. But, after 1289 all, these are, so to speak, only alternative kites, which contribute nothing to a Second Reading debate. I merely express my regret that nothing was done to bring the teachers into a national Civil Service, and that before you put your hands to the draft of this Bill no steps were taken in an endeavour to arrive at a concordat.
In conclusion, my Lords, I disagree with this Bill on three main grounds, which leave me very little to agree with. I disagree with it because, by doing away with School Boards you are depriving education of the directly elected services of trained and devoted educational experts. My second ground of disagreement is, that you are ignoring the necessity—as I think, the proved - to - demonstration necessity—of a central educational force, such as the old Board of Education. My third ground of disagreement is that by the provisions of this Bill for the non-provided—that is, the old voluntary—schools you are re-affirming tests. In 1827, on the repeal of the Tests Act, Lord John Russell wrote to Moore "of the joy of having forced the enemy from his first line, that none but Churchmen were worthy to serve the State." Lady Spencer, who, I believe was grandmother of the noble Earl who leads us on this side of the House, wrote Lord John, from the experience of a long life passed in the heart of public affairs, congratulating him on the relief of Dissenters, and predicting a concurrence and unanimity of intelligence and enterprise which would be brought to the service of the State. My Lords, would that this union and consent of heart and mind had been evident in the course of this Bill, and in a great portion of the country. Would that the Bill had not by its provisions laid down that none but Churchmen are worthy to serve the State in half the elementary schools of the country in the high cause of education. Unfortunately, the right rev. Prelates, His Majesty's Government, and the exigencies of the situation as regards the great difficulties in which the voluntary schools found themselves, have willed it otherwise, and we are now asked to give a Second Reading to a Bill which throws education into the arena of religious politics, quarters the whole, or nearly the whole, cost upon the people at large, and sets at naught some of those principles which we have held to be more or less sacred since the 1290 day of Ship Money. As far as I am concerned, I shall vote with cheerful conviction against the Second Reading of such a measure.
THE EARL OF CHMPERDOWN
My Lords, if I may attempt to summarise the interesting but somewhat discursive speech to which we have just listened, I think I may take it that the noble Lord regards this Bill as an ecclesiastical instrument. I think he said further that it was a religious decoction with an episcopal label. Without pursuing those remarks, I would like to answer one observation which he made towards the conclusion of his speech, viz., "That this Bill re-affirms tests." I am utterly at a loss to understand what he means by that statement. So far as I have read the Bill, and I have read it very carefully, there is nothing in the Bill about tests of any sort or kind. The fact to which I presume he was referring was that the headmasters in voluntary schools under trust deeds are to be members of the Church of England. But, my Lords, the test, if the noble Lord likes to use that word, is contained not in this Bill, but in the trust deed, and, so far from re-affirming tests, all that this Bill does is to leave the trust deed in that respect exactly as it now stands.
The noble Lord, in the course of his speech, said very little directly about voluntary schools. I venture to submit that in considering either this or any other Bill dealing with education in England and Wales, it is impossible to arrive at any useful conclusion unless you always keep in mind the existing condition of things with regard to education. You must remember this, that 15,000 out of 20,000 are voluntary schools, and that in them are educated more than half the children of England. If, therefore, you propose to consider the educational position and leave out of account the voluntary schools, you are looking at only half the situation. The board schools are supported by the rates, and no doubt educate nearly half the children in England, but there are a large number of people who are not satisfied with the religious education which is perfectly satisfactory to Lord Spencer and many others. How is it possible or practical to put forward a proposition ignoring the voluntary schools? We hear talk about buying up the voluntary schools, or of leasing them from people 1291 who do not want to let them, or of establishing Loard schools in every parish in England. Phrases of that sort are all very well for the platform, but for any purpose other than that of mere declamation they are perfectly idle, and will not stand examination.
There is another point which, in considering this Bill, I think we ought to keep before us. I am addressing myself now more particularly to those who support voluntary schools, and especially the ecclesiastical supporters of those schools. We must remember that there is all the difference in the world between a school and a church. The primary object of Church schools as laid down in the trust deeds is to give education. The religious education given in those schools is the secondary and not the primary object of their existence. Therefore, for anyone to talk about shutting up these schools because the religious teaching is not to be given solely by the clergyman or exactly in the way that he suggests seems to me to be a very unfortunate position for the Church to take up. If the mischievous advice—for I must call it mischievous—which I have heard given at some meetings and in some speeches were to be adopted, viz., that the Church schools should be closed, you may depend upon it that that would be a most unfortunate course of, action for the Church, and would do more to undermine her authority than any other course of conduct that could be pursued.
The Government have been found fault with for bringing forward this Bill, on the ground that they had no mandate to do anything of the kind. I was very glad to hear that Lord Spencer, at all events, made no allegation of that kind. We all know that the Education question is a pressing question, and we know also that is an extremely dangerous question for any Government to touch. The history of the Education question since 1870 may be stated in a very few words. In 1870, board schools were established, rate-aid was first given, and grants were made to voluntary and other schools as they were earned. From that day to this, as was said by Lord Goschen to-night, the requirements of the Education Department have been constantly on the increase. Different 1292 Governments have increased the grants, but the requirements have increased to an even greater extent. I do not find any fault with those increasing requirements. It is no doubt necessary that the standard of education should be higher, but, at the same time, voluntary aid and liberality can go only a certain distance, and that is the position in which you find yourselves at the present time. It simply comes to this: Are you going to strike out these voluntary schools altogether? If you are not prepared to do that—and I do not believe it would be seriously proposed, certainly not by any responsible Government—what other course have you except that of giving aid from the rates. Whatever you may say of this Bill—you may say it is not perfect, or that it dose not provide a complete solution of the question, or other general remarks of that kind which are, no doubt, to a considerable extent true—will anyone say that it is not a considerable advance? I am not going through the Bill. The noble Duke, in introducing this measure, enumerated various points in which this Bill wrought changes in the educational system of this country. You must at all events concede that one authority is created, that the Bill for the first time draws a distinction in accordance with the Cockerton judgment, between elementary and secondary education, and that the question of an undenominational training college for teachers is to a large extent, if not completely, settled.
Turning now to the enactments of the Bill, the complaint I have to raise against the measure is that it does not enable the local authority which it professes to trust to inquire into the small schools. Your Lordships will remember that the whole principle of the Bill is to set up this local authority, to give it all the income, to give it all the powers over the Committee, to give it powers over the managers, and over every department of education. The Government say the local authority may raise the question of whether schools are necessary, but the moment you come to the smallest schools, viz., those with an attendance of thirty or so, they are to be considered necessary and into these schools there is to be no inquiry. I think I may fairly ask what 1293 is the reason for such an enactment as that? Prima facie, it seems to me absolutely contrary to the principle of the Bill. You propose to trust the local authority; why, then, is the local authority not to inquire into the schools which, of all schools, most require to be inquired into? You are placing, for the first time, the schools of the county on the county. You are going to say that these schools are to be kept up for all time out of the county rate. It seems to me that of all the schools that should be inquired into these are the very schools into which it is most desirable the local authority should be authorised to inquire.
There is another matter, but one which does not, perhaps, so much affect this House, viz., the financial question. After considerable examination, it appears to me that the financial terms of the Bill are most unfortunate. Let me for a moment remind your Lordships of what the present system of finance is—the system laid down by the Act of 1870. In the first place, you had the subscriptions; these are paid by the owners. In the next place you had the grants earned by the school. The subscriptions and grants are all paid to the managers. If anything further is required it falls upon the managers to collect the money in the best way they can. In that way managers have a very considerable position and a large financial responsibility. But what do you do by this Bill? You entirely destroy the parish as the financial unit created by the Act of 1870. All the grants are paid over, not to the managers of the school by which they were earned, but direct to the local authority. The managers have no income, because, of course, subscriptions have entirely disappeared. No one will subscribe when he has not the remotest idea as to where his money will go. The income of the managers will consist merely of whatever the local authority chooses to give them. The local authority is bound it is true, to maintain the school, but there is nothing whatsoever in the Bill to indicate that if a school under the managers earns a good grant, that grant, or any fixed proportion of it. shall be paid to the managers. In this way, it appears to me that you do away with all individual interest in the schools. What interest will a schoolmaster any 1294 longer have in getting a high grant? He will have no knowledge of what becomes of it when earned. What interest will the managers have? It matters not to them. So long as the school attains the standard of educational proficiency, whatever it may be, fixed by the local authority, they will receive the cost of maintenance, and that is all they will get.
Then, not merely that, my Lords, but for the first time you introduce a county rate. You place this charge upon the county instead of the parish, and you place it upon the occupiers instead of the owners. I have looked into a great many cases, and in a certain number of agricultural parishes it came to what amounted to nearly 5d. in the £. If you put on a county rate of 5d. in the £, depend upon it you will hear a great deal from the occupiers of land. Besides that, you are really attacking the basis on which all English rating rests.
The next question on which I wish to address your Lordships is as to what really will be the cost under this Bill. That is a question which no human being can answer. There is a reference in the Bill to a threepenny rate. I remember that in the discussions on the Education Bill of 1870, the late Mr. Forster spoke of a threepenny rate. A threepenny rate! All that we know about the various financial calculations made in connection with Education Bills is that they have invariably been exceeded—exceeded not merely to a small extent, but in some cases doubled or even trebled. Clause 10 (b) is a financial conundrum. I do not know whether any of your Lordships have read it, but I should like to know whether either the noble Duke or the noble Marquess can interpret it. It is this: "In lieu of the aid grant you are to receive a sum equal to 4s. per scholar." That I understand. Then you are to receive—an additional sum of three-halfpence per scholar for ever complete twopence per scholar by which the amount which would be produced by a penny rate on the area of the authority falls short of ten shillings a scholar; provided that in estimating the produce of a penny rate in the area of a local education authority not being a county borough the rate should be calculated on the county rate basis.Then the Clause, which, up to this point, has dealt, or professes to deal, only with 1295 the aid grant, bursts out into a general disquisition on grants, and says—But if in any year the total amount of Parliamentary grants payable to a local educational authority would make the amount payable out of other sources by that authority on account of their expenses under Part III. of this Act less than the amount which would be produced by a rate of threepence in the pound, the Parliamentary grants shall be decreased, and the amount payable shall be increased by a sum equal in each case to half the difference.I worked very hard at that Clause for some time, and I invoked the aid of one or two skilled persons who were not altogether unconnected with the preparation of the Bill, but I am bound to say I should be very sorry to have to make the necessary calculations. In the first place it would be necessary to obtain the number of scholars in each county; then you would have to find out how much it would take to bring the amount up to 10s. each child; then you get into the three-halfpence and twopences calculation; in short, I can neither make head nor tail of it. I hope when we are in Committee the noble Duke will give us a lucid explanation, so that we may be able to understand the Clause. ["You cannot amend it."] No, but we can discuss it. We do not want to amend it, but it would be most satisfactory if anybody could give us something approaching a lucid explanation of it. We must remember that with regard to the cost of this Bill, no calculation whatsoever can be made from what has been spent up to the present time. As soon as this Bill passes the voluntary schools will no longer be under financial necessities; they will at once be levelled up to the standard of the board schools. I dare say that that may be a very good thing, but, at the same time, the increase of expense which your Lordships and the country must be prepared for is, I believe, very large indeed.
Then we come to another matter which was alluded to by Lord Goschen to-night, and that is the question of the two inspectors. I dare say it has sometimes happened to your Lordships when you had a point which you thought a rather good one that somebody else has made it before you. That is what Lord Goschen has done in regard to this matter to-night. I had intended to bring this point of the two inspectors before your Lordships, but he has 1296 done so fully and thoroughly. You are aware of the objections there are even to one inspector in the fact that all inspectors, even Board Inspectors, are not necessarily sensible men, but when you add to the Board Inspectors these new inspectors, who, apparently, under the Bill, may and probably will be sent by the local authority, the case is much worse. You will have not only two inspectors but two sets of requirements, and two sets of requirements occasionally mean, as Lord Goschen said, two sets of faddists, and certainly a very considerable increase of expenditure. My regret at the alteration which has been made in the financial system of the Act of 1870 is chiefly owing to the fact that it appears to me that it was so entirely unnecessary. There was nothing to hinder the local authority from setting up any standard of education that it saw fit, and there was nothing to prevent it sending inspectors to see that the standard was observed. After all, the education of the children of each parish is surely a matter of strictly local concern, and it is, I anticipate, the object of Parliament to arouse, excite, and stimulate local interest in the schools as much as possible. If you had left the existing system alone you would have had the subscriptions: in that way the owners would have contributed towards the cost of the Bill; you would have had the grants, and it would then have been to the interest of the managers and the schoolmasters for financial reasons to make the schools as successful as possible; and if there had been any money wanted after that we all know that persons will pay, whether they be owners or otherwise, if they know the money is to be spent for their own children and in their own immediate locality, whereas they will not give when they have no idea as to where the money is going or how it is to be spent. I apprehend that the reason of this alteration is that the weak schools may be supported. If it is desirable to support weak schools and to give them extra support, by all means let that be done, but why is it to be done by the ratepayers of a county? It seems to me that if financial aid of that kind is to be given it ought to be given by the national taxpayer. So far as I read the Bill, a very large contribution is to be given to the local authority in lieu of the aid 1297 grant. Why should not these payments be made out of the aid grant in the same manner as before?
I would now call your Lordships' attention to another matter, and that is the consideration of how this Bill is likely to work. My belief is, that when the supporters of denominational schools have succeeded in transferring the burden to the county ratepayers, they will have done the very worst day's work for themselves that ever they did. The effect of the Bill in its operation will be gradually to destroy, or at all events greatly to diminish, voluntary schools. In the first place, there are many voluntary schools which have no trust deed. Is it not obvious that their interest will be to make themselves county schools, because, if they come under the county they will no longer be under the necessity of keeping up their buildings? I do not say that this is at all a matter to be regretted. Personally, I do not think it is. Indeed, in my view the most important feature of the Bill is the creation of the county schools. and, in endeavouring to work the Bill according to its spirit—as I should certainly do—I should be inclined to use any influence I might possess in any school to get that school transferred to the county. Bat, my Lords, with regard to the Church schools, I think it will be found that when you rest the county rate upon all the occupiers in a parish, experience will tell your Lordships that it will be more than difficult to extract voluntary subscriptions for the purpose of keeping up the school buildings. Everybody will say "We have paid our rate. You tell us we ought to subscribe to keep up denominational schools. Our answer is that we prefer to let the schools go." In reply to those who use that argument, it may be said that if they do not subscribe they may have to build another school. I do not think there is much force in that remark. If the schools of the Church, which are under trust deeds, are empty, I do not believe that Parliament would allow new schools to be built while those other schools remained empty. Parliament would fairly and properly say that the primary purpose for which those schools were built was that of education, and that if private individuals on religious grounds cannot obtain the subscriptions necessary to keep them up it would then be necessary to employ the schools for the purposes of education.
1298 Taking this view, I must confess that what surprises me is that the Nonconformists should oppose this Bill in the bitter manner they do. They seem to be exactly like the members of the United Kingdom Alliance, who, being devoted to temperance, for a great many years sturdily refused to accept anything but the complete abolition of licences. So far as I read this Bill, it is bound to work in the direction of increasing the number of board or provided schools, and I think that that tendency is likely to continue and extend.
I do not say that the Bill which the Government have introduced is the one I should have liked best to see. There is an alternative which, personally, I should have much preferred. It was alluded to the other night by the Prime Minister, and it has been alluded to by others. I refer to the proposal to abolish the Cowper-Temple Clause in the county schools, and at the same time to aid the voluntary schools from the rates. I confess that I cannot see the injustice of that course being taken. I see many advantages which a plan of that sort would have over the scheme proposed by the Government, and I certainly should have given my most hearty support to such a proposal. I do not see that there is any injustice to Nonconformists in doing away with the Cowper-Temple Clause. Under this Bill as it stands, if Nonconformists are so deeply imbued with the religious difficulty that they desire to erect schools of their own, they have the opportunity of going before the Board of Education and obtaining power to erect such a school if they can prove it to be a right school to erect. The great objection taken to this plan the other night by the Prime Minister was that it would be opposed tooth and nail by the Nonconformists. Have the Nonconformists not opposed this Bill? What tooth or what nail do the Nonconformists possess that they have not used in opposition to the present measure? How long has the struggle against this Bill gone on? What more could the Nonconformists have done against any other proposal than they have done against this? One of my reason, even the chief reason, for supporting this Bill is the helpless and hopeless attitude which the Nonconformists have taken up throughout the whole of these discussions. I think I have read all the reports of meetings and of the 1299 proceedings in Parliament on the subject, and I have no doubt many of your Lordships will sympathise with me in the ordeal through which I have gone. My object has been to look for some practical proposition, some ray of light, some offer made by the Nonconformists to deal with the situation, the difficulties of which no one attempts to deny, but I have found nothing. The noble Earl who moved the rejection of the Bill spoke of a universal School Board, or a School Board in every parish. ["No"]. Then I am incorrect, and the noble Earl made no suggestion to-night for meeting the difficult situation which has been created. We are in the presence of a situation from which some escape must be found; you must make up your minds either to see these schools starve and disappear, or to give them assistance by rate aid. It is because I see no way out of the difficulty except that of rate aid that I shall support the Second Reading of the Bill.
I shall not detain your Lordships more than a few minutes; I simply wish to ask a question. I am not sure whether I should address my question to the First Lord of the Admiralty or to His Majesty's First Commissioner of Works, but there does not appear to be anybody on the Front Bench representing the Board of Education. The question I have to ask is whether the Board of Education, under Clause 17, have the power to compel the education authority under Clause 2 of Part II. to levy a rate. According to Clause 2—The local education authority should consider the educational needs of their area and take such steps as seem to them desirable.and under Clause 17—If the local education authority fail to fulfil any of their duties under the Elementary Education Acts, 1870 to 1900, or this Act. the Board of Education may, after holding a public inquiry, make such order as they think necessary or proper for the purpose of compelling the authority to fulfil their duty.The question is—What is their duty? Is the mere preparation of a scheme their duty, or is it for the Board of Education to declare what is their duty? My object in asking the question is that we may be perfectly sure of what the intentions of the Government are as to the provision of secondary education institutions within the areas. In the county to which I belong we have never used any part of the whisky money in relief of the 1300 rates, but have used the whole of it for technical education, and technical education, I imagine, is secondary education. Therefore, unless our scheme of technical education is to be interrupted it would be necessary, if the Board of Education had the power to compel us, to levy a rate. I want to know what the Government conception of the drafting of this Bill is—whether it is their intention that the Board of Education should be able to compel a county to levy a rate for establishing secondary education institutions. I will not attempt to conceal what I feel upon this particular point. I think that in doubling the liability of the ratepayers for secondary education, those members of the Government who belong to the Conservative Party are departing from the promises which they have made to the ratepayers for many years past.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
There is no fear of the county being compelled to levy a rate; there is no question of it. I will deal with the question fully tomorrow.
I do not quite follow my noble friend. Clause 2 of the Bill distinctly provides that the county may levy a rate, and if it is true that the Board of Education may compel the county to do so, I think my question is quite legitimate. But to proceed from the point at which I was interrupted. I think that in doubling the liability of the ratepayers in regard to the provision of secondary education the Government is departing from those promises which through many years it has made to the ratepayers. I do not deny for a moment the gratitude which the ratepayers ought to feel to the Government for the many things it has done for them in the way of relief, but as regards this particular subject of secondary education it must be remembered that the Royal Commission on Local Taxation has most distinctly laid down that secondary education is a national liability. In the face of that declaration a Conservative Government is doubling the liability of the ratepayers in that direction. If in addition to that the Government provide that the Board of Education may compel the county to levy a rate, I think it will have undertaken a very dangerous task. With every other part of the Bill I am 1301 in entire accord, but having regard to everything I have said on the public platform with regard to the ratepayers it is impossible for me to approve of this particular proposal.
§ Further debate adjourned until Tomorrow.
§ House adjourned at five minutes before Twelve o'clock, till tomorrow Half-Past Ten o'clock.