§ Order of the day for resuming te debate on the Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading, read.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (The Marquess of LONDONDERRY)
My Lords, in his able and comprehensive speech my noble friend the Lord President of the Council, who moved the Second Reading of this Bill, drew attention to the fact that the measure had occupied in another place no less than fifty-three days, forty-six of which were spent in discussing the details. Under these circumstances it will be admitted, I think, that not only the principles but also the details of the measure were fairly and fully discussed and decided by the House of Commons. But the noble Duke, in the course of his remarks, did not draw the attention of your Lordships to the fact that these principles and details were discussed at still greater length during the great 3 agitation in the country between August and October, when Parliament was not sitting. During the recess, as your Lordships are aware, a vast number of meetings were held throughout the country, promoted by the opponents of the measure, who, if I may use the expression, flooded the country with denunciations not only of the Government, but of those who supported the Government with regard to the Bill. I do not for a moment say that it was unjustifiable for them to do so. All I mean to draw your Lordships' attention to is the extent to which the Bill and its details have been considered in the country, and how difficult it is for me, as the Minister of Education, to attempt on this important and interesting occasion to say anything new. I do not in the least object to the denunciations, and I do not object to the agitation. I allow that it was conducted by people who had a perfect right to act as they did, but I do not equally allow that the denunciations were of a sincere character. If they had been sincere, I think that during the campaign which has been directed against the Government we should have heard a few sentences uttered on behalf of the children, whose interests this Bill is supposed to safeguard. But we have heard no word uttered in the interest of the children. On the contrary, the Government have been denounced to such an extent that I used to think the agitation was got tip in accordance with the words of Sir William Harcourt, who said at Ebbw Vale—The Government are giving us a rallying cry in the Education Bill.The noble Lord opposite, Lord Monks-well, laid great stress in the course of his speech last night on the effect that that agitation had produced. I have no doubt that at the time the agitation had a great effect, but I agree with the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle, who stated last night that the weight of the agitation had considerably lessened. Moreover, I think that the explanation of the detail and principle of the Bill which the Prime Minister gave at Manchester, combined with the recent exposition of the details of the measure in Parliament, have opened the eyes of the country as to the real merits of the 4 Bill. I think the question is now for the first time really understood, and the country realises that this measure is brought forward, not with a political or Party object, but in order to raise the whole standard of education in this country. The country must now realise the absolute truth of the saying of one of our great Ministers—You may fool all people sometimes; you may fool some people all times; but you cannot fool all people all times.Therefore I venture to say that the agitation on which Lord Monkswell laid so much stress last night has been found out; because the people of this country now for the first time really understand the details of this great Bill.
The charge has often been made against His Majesty's Government that they were not justified in introducing such a measure as this because they had not received a mandate from the country. I should like to ask, when did the country ever issue a direct mandate to the Government to bring forward a particular measure? At the General Election of 1868, although the country issued a mandate to the Liberal Party to disestablish the Irish Church, no mandate was given to initiate the Education Bill of 1870. At the General Election of 1885 no mandate whatever was given to the Liberal Government to introduce the Home Rule Bill of 1886. I do not think noble Lords opposite will contradict me when I say that the Home Rule Bill came like a bombshell into the Liberal Party. 1 allow, though it is open to argument, that a certain mandate was given to introduce the Home Rule Bill of 1893; but I maintain that there was no mandate for the introduction of the financial proposals of the Government of that day. Therefore if noble Lords opposite and their supporters lay down a hard and fast rule that no measure is to be introduced unless it is a prominent plank in the platform at the previous General Election, we may find ourselves in a position in which no grievance could be remedied and no absolutely necessary reform accomplished unless it was a specific plank in the platform on which the election was fought. But I maintain that no such charge can be made in regard to this 5 measure. I do not deny that the conclusion of the war and the future settlement of South Africa were the chief planks in the platform at the last General Election. But the country knew full well the views the Government entertained with regard to education, and it cannot be said that the Bill has been sprung upon the country. In these circumstances, His Majesty's Government, realising as they have done for five years past, that it was necessary to deal with the question, would have been unworthy of the confidence of the country had they not dealt with the question and endeavoured to place education on a sure foundation. In my opinion, and I am borne out by experts on the subject, this country is behind the age in education. Our present position is one of absolute chaos; and owing to the confusion which exists there is expense which to my mind could be obviated. This is not only the opinion of myself and of those with whom I am closely associated. Professor Armstrong, an educationist who is in no way biased has declared that there are many people who are convinced that in not a few respects School Boards have been disastrous failures; and we need a wider organisation, penetrated with sounder and especially more practical views. Many gentlemen associated with noble Lords opposite have declared in public that the present system is unsatisfactory. It was the duty of the Government to remedy this state of things. The question of education could not be left alone. I consider that the present Government are the only parties able to deal with the of question. I do not think that the noble Lords opposite, even if they occupied our position tomorrow, could deal satisfactorily with the question. The noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition dissents. I should like him to define the position he would take occupied the position of the noble Duke behind me.
Mr. Bryce, an educational expert of whom I speak with the greatest respect and admiration, told us in the House of Commons that he had a scheme for dealing with education, but that owing to the despotic character of the measures of the Prime Minister he had not had an opportunity of producing it. But 6 that need not prevent noble Lords opposite making known the manner in which the problem should be dealt with. Speaking at Derby a short time ago, the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition stated that if a Liberal Government were formed they would be ordered by their constituents, and would joyfully and willingly carry out the mandate, to reject what was wrong in this measure and to put education on a broad, liberal, and satisfactory basis. I hope we shall hear from noble Lords opposite what is the satisfactory basis on which they propose to put educational legislation. I should like to ask, in the first place, whether they would establish universal School Boards? The noble Earl shakes his head. I do not think they could do that. A great number of the followers of the noble Earl are ardent supporters of the voluntary school system, Do noble Lords opposite propose to allow the voluntary schools to be squeezed out of existence? Do they propose that the instruction of the two and a half million children who are at present being educated in voluntary schools should stop? Do they propose to lose the £840,000—this was the sum last year—subscribed by the promoters of voluntary schools and which has been used annually for the benefit of the ratepayers in the education of the children? And again, I should like to ask what they propose to do with regard to the buildings which at the present moment belong to the voluntary school managers, even supposing that the latter would agree to sell those buildings to the local authorities. What is their definition of area? They tell us that the country area is too large and that the parish area is too small. We have defined to the best of our ability a convenient area, and it would be interesting to know the definition of area of those who have criticised our proposal.
§ EARL SPENCER
Yes; I suggested that it should be smaller than the County Council area, larger than the 7 Parish Council, and on the lines of Rural District Councils. I have given that opinion time after time.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
What I maintain is that the Party opposite, instead of producing a counter scheme, criticise the scheme of the Government. I do not profess to believe that the present measure is perfect, but I say that with the material on which we have had to work we have endeavoured to place the question of education on a sound and secure basis. We have endeavoured not to destroy the Act of 1870, but to remedy it and fill up the gaps. I deny that the Bill deserves to be denounced as a disgraceful measure. There are certain members belonging to the noble Earl's Party who do not share the extreme views which have been expressed on this subject, and the London School Board, a body with which I was once associated, and for which I have the greatest admiration, on June 12 last expressed their approval of the policy contained in the Bill. The resolution which they passed was in the following words:—This Board approves the policy of the Education Bill recently introduced by the Government, whereby, while preserving the present right of: voluntary schools to give denominational religious instruction, such schools are in other respects brought under the control of the same authority as other elementary schools, and will participate in the rate raised by such authority, and they ask that the same principle may be applied to London.Well, my Lords, after such a resolution as that, passed by the greatest School Board in this country, are we justified in believing that the Bill we are asking your Lordships to accept is an infamous and monstrous Bill brought forward only for political purposes? I contend that on the rural side, School Board education has shown weaknesses. Mr. Bryce, on June 2, dwelt on the importance of establishing larger administrative areas for elementary education than those of the present rural School Boards. Mr. Trevelyan confessed on the same day that to improve the education in our villages 8 we require to have more than local interest. "The wider the area of choice, the better the chance," said Mr.Trevelyan, "of getting good men."
In some places the School Board rates have gone up to a high figure, altogether beyond anything contemplated by Mr. Forster in 1870. In Buckinghamshire, for example, there is one School Board with a rate of 2s. Id. in the £; in Cornwall there is a parish with a rate of Is. 10d. in the £; and the School Board rate in two parishes in Durham is Is. 9d. and Is. lOd. in the £ respectively. In Essex we have one parish School Board with a rate of nearly 3s. in the £, and two other rural parishes with rates of Is. 11d. and 2s. 3d. respectively. In the Forest of Dean there is a School Board rate of 2s. 6d. The rating question is also a serious one in the urban areas. For instance, West Ham has a School Board rate of nearly 2s. 2d. Walthamstow and Wanstead have also a rate of more than Is. 8d., while the county borough of Oldham has a rate of Is. 9d. Mr. Forster's utterances in 1870 enable us to realise how ideas have been modified with the enormous increase that has taken place in the rates since the Education Bill of that year was passed. In explaining the provisions of the Bill. Mr. Forster said that the rate would not exceed 3d. in the £, and that he did not believe that it would amount to anything like that in the majority of cases. Mr. Gladstone was also of opinion that the rate would not come to 3d. in the £. As to the School Boards in great towns, without wishing to say anything detrimental of them, I consider that their great energy has been directed rather to extending their range than to improving the quality of the education which they were created to supply. I do not in the least blame them. 1 would be the last person in the world to censure anybody for any superfluity of energy. But what has been the result? That energy has caused those School Boards to realise the need for higher education in their districts, and they have endeavoured to supply it. They have in this way gone beyond the functions originally entrusted to them and have acted illegally, and in order to indemnify them a transitory measure had to be passed through Parliament, under which they were enabled to carry on the duties they had undertaken the cessation of which would have had 9 disastrous results. The school Boards of these towns were giving technical instruction at the same time as the municipal authorities, with the result that the rates suffered from the inroads of both bodies. There has, accordingly, been gross overlapping and unnecessary expense, which the present Bill will obviate. In support of my statement as to overlapping and the unnecessary expense to which the ratepayers have been put, I will quote Dr. Macnamara, a member of the other House, and an educationist, whom I am glad to think I can count as a friend of my own, though he is opposed to me politically. Dr. Macnamara said:—What is the first thing this Bill does? it seeks to set up in each locality an education authority capable of countrolling all grades of schools within the area. if this could be achieved on right lines a tremendous educational reform would have been effected.After describing the present system, Dr. Macnamara went on to say—'What are the direct results of all this hotehpotch of local government? The first is a waste of a large amount of public money in the unnecessary and extravagant duplication of administrative machinery.I ask the House whether we should have been justified in allowing that condition of things to remain without making some attempt to remedy it?
I pass on to the charges that have been brought against the Government. The two main charges are, firstly, that we are destroying School Boards; and, secondly, that we are giving undue benefits to voluntary schools. As to the destruction of School Boards, let me say at once that I have had experience of the great work done by the London School Board, of which work I have the sincerest admiration, and that I would not be favourable to a measure which would eliminate the services of the educationalists who have acted on such bodies. It has been started that the new education authorities will lose a great deal by not having these experienced men at the head of affairs in the future. I repeat that if I thought the men connected with the School Boards in the large towns were to be debarred from taking a prominent part in the education of this country I should not be standing here to-night supporting a Bill which would have that result. If the noble Earl had closely examined the Bill he would have seen that sub-Section 2 (d) 10 of Clause 18 lays great stress on the fact that the Government invite and welcome the co-operation of the leading members of School Boards. The sub-Section reads:Every such scheme shall provide for the appointment, if desirable, of members of School Boards existing at the time of the passing of this Act as members of the first Committee.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
But I think I have answered the contention of the noble Earl that we were excluding those people on the present School Boards who have rendered such enormous service to the country, and whose services we shall welcome most heartily in the future. The present School Board system is not, I contend, entirely and truly representative. The cumulative vote does not guarantee the return of the best men, and it enables small minorities to elect men who are not fitted for the work. I had placed in my hand tonight particulars of a case in which, by means of the cumulative vote, an entirely unfit person has been elected on the School Board of a great country borough, and that the Board had been compelled for their own protection to approach the Board of Education for advice. This bears out my contention that the cumulative vote does not ensure the return to the School Boards of representative men. I do not think the School Board system, however much we may admire it now, would have been brought into existence by the Education Act of 1870 had there then been the bodies which exist now. I wish to emphasise that by quoting from the speech made by Mr. Forster in introducing this measure. Mr. Forster said—The electoral body we have chosen for the towns is the Town Council. I do not think there can be much dispute upon that point. In the country we have taken the best body we can find—the select vestry where is one, and the vestry where there is not a select vestry.Mr. Forster admitted that in deciding between the union and the parish as the area of consideration there was a difficulty, and the reason why there was a difficulty was almost a disgrace to this country. Mr. Forester said—We are behind almost every other eivilised country, whether in America or on the Continent 11 of Europe, in respect of rural municipal organisations, and this difficulty meets us not only in connection with education but with many other questions affecting the people. The same difficulty applies to London.It was in consequence of the weakness of the proposal as regards the parishes in London that a single Board for London had to be adopted, and for the sake of uniformity the same course was pursued in the towns. This proves, beyond all doubt, that Mr. Forster would not have created School Boards had there been the bodies which are in existence now. These municipal bodies had had various duties and responsibilities entrusted to them, among which education has already been included. The noble Lord opposite, Earl Spencer, in the course of his speech last night, seemed to consider that the duties we are imposing on these great bodies should not be given to them, because they have quite sufficient work to do already. The noble Earl said—I think they have 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.
THE MARQUESS OF LONDON-DERRY
I am not competent to cross swords with the noble Earl, and I will leave to the noble Earl the late Liberal Prime Minister the task of answering my noble friend on that point. Lord Rosebery, in giving his impressions of this Bill a short time ago, described the supervision of education as a prerogative of the municipal Councils of incalculable importance, and said that if they had added to what they do already the task of supervising education they would be advancing by leaps and bounds that lofty position to which every patriot desired the great municipalities to attain. I am certain that the noble Earl below the gangway will make good tonight the remarks he then made, and therefore the noble Earl opposite must not blame me if I leave the defence of the Bill in that respect in the late Liberal Prime Minister's hands.
My noble friend Earl Spencer went on to criticise the Bill for placing extra duties on the County Councils, and stated that it would be perfectly impossible for them as the education authorities to control the whole of the 12 education of the country. But we are supported on this point by the County Councils Association, which passed the following resolution on May 7, on the motion of the Chairman of the Surrey County Council:—That, without expressing any opinion on the controversial questions raised by the Education Bill, the proposals contained in that Bill to place the control of all education in administrative counties under local educational authorities meet with the general approval of this Association, and that, as regards administrative counties, the County Councils, acting through committees, a majority of whom should be members of the Council, as the education authorities are well qualified, and prepared, if so requested by Parliament, to undertake the powers and duties imposed upon those authorities by the Bill.Therefore, with regard to the boroughs I leave the noble Earl to the tender mercy of Lord Rosebery, and with regard to the counties to the tender mercy of the County Councils Association. I contend that an enormous gain will accrue from giving the controlling power over education in the locality to the borough or the County Council. There will be a great gain in efficiency by coordinating under one authority the dual authority now existing. Great economy in various ways will also result. My noble friend Viscount Goschen last night, in a speech which I am sure your Lordships will agree was a most valuable contribution to the debate, criticised the provision in reference to inspectors. The noble Viscount asked—Were they to have inspectors appointed by the local authority?The noble Duke the Lord President of the Council having interposed a remark which is not reported, the noble Viscount said—Oh, then they might inspect, and a pretty inspection that would be. They had already the Government inspectors and now there were to be two despots—a central despot and a local despot.I would join with my noble friend in deprecating any expense that may be incurred by having too many inspectors, and I will do my utmost to reduce the cost of the inspectorate to the lowest degree compatible with the efficiency of its work. I would point out, however, that the Bill does not make it compulsory on the local authority to inspect the schools, and my great 13 aim and object will be to induce the local authority to co-operate with the Board of Education in regard to these duties. I am most anxious to place the inspection of the Board of Education at the disposal of the local authority, and, by hearty co-operation between the two bodies, to reduce the expense in every possible way. I can assure my noble friend that his words will carry great weight with the Government, and, I think, also with the local authorities.
The second charge made against the Bill is that it unduly benefits the Voluntary schools to the detriment of other religious bodies. I deny that in toto. I should like to say a word in defence of these voluntary schools, of which I have always been an ardent supporter and admirer. I am an ardent admirer of them because without their aid there would have been no elementary education whatever in this country. Therefore I say that all educationists, no matter what their political or religious creed may be, owe a debt of gratitude to those who were responsible for the formation of the voluntary schools. It is not, perhaps, known that until 1833 the voluntary schools alone carried on the work of elementary education without State aid or assistance of any kind. There is another statement made with regard to voluntary schools. We are told by those who oppose the voluntary school system that the voluntary schools, as they exist at the present moment, are not owned wholly by their present proprietors, but are partly owned by the State. I admit that there is dual ownership, but it is an infinitesimal ownership on tho part of the State. Out of the £25,000,000 which the 14,000 voluntary schools of the country are supposed to represent, the sum contributed by the State is only £1,845,000. Not only would the ratepayers suffer an enormous loss if they were called upon to provide the deficit which would arise if the voluntary schools were abolished, but there would in that case be the grossest betrayal of those who have been responsible for the education of the rising generation of the country. His Majesty's Government would have been unworthy of their position had they not endeavoured to maintain the efficiency 14 of those schools. Did the Act of 1870 ever intend to abolish voluntary schools? It intended to do nothing of the sort. As to the intentions of that Act, Mr. Forster said in the course of his opening speech in introducing the measure—Our object is to complete the voluntary system, to fill up gaps, sparing the public money when it can be done.The original intention of the Act was to take every advantage of the voluntary schools. Mr. Gladstone, in withdrawing the rate-aid proposal, said:—We must fulfil the engagements we have already entered into wiih the voluntary schools that in their competition with rate schools they shall receive some assistance towards lightening the burden of their expenditure.In view of the result of the competition of the board schools on the voluntary schools, it should be borne in mind that the intention of the Act of 1870 was never that the voluntary schools should be abolished or squeezed out. It is said, but I cannot believe it, that certain sections of the community have declared that they will not pay rates in support of the voluntary schools. As I say, I can scarcely believe it; but have those who declare such an intention forgotten that since 1870 the promoters of the voluntary schools have not only maintained their own schools, but have ungrudgingly paid whatever rates the School Board in the district may have insisted upon? How, then, can these Nonconformists now refuse to assist the voluntary schools?
I now leave the whole question of elementary education, and turn to secondary education. We have been told that thi measure confers no benefit on secondary education. I do not know if that statement is endorsed by noble Lords opposite, but, if it is, they will find that they are not supported in that view by one of the most able members of their Party, Sir Edward Grey, who said at Sheffield that he had no quarrel with that part of the Bill which dealt with higher education. So far as it lay in our power we have made proposals which will be to the advantage of secondary education. We have given powers of levying rates for this purpose to the county boroughs and the county authorities. We have definitely ear-marked what is known as the whisky money for education. I maintain 15 also that the new elementary grants will indirectly benefit secondary education, because, by saving the rates, it enables the authorities to spend the money which it would otherwise have had to raise on secondary education. The local authority has also been given a free hand in the training of teachers. The noble Earl opposite, Earl Spencer, stated that the training colleges would be a charge on the rates, and expressed the opinion that the Exchequer should find the greater part of the money. I think the noble Earl cannot have realised the provisions of the Code. The Exchequer grant will be available for training colleges supported by county authorities and which fulfil the requirements, and therefore the county will be under no extra burden. It may be said that those who are trained in these institutions may go to other districts, but we hope that the county authorities will combine so as fitly to supply their own areas with thoroughly well trained teachers.
There are two other questions with regard to secondary education which I have been asked to answer by my noble friends Viscount Goschen and Lord Harris. The noble Viscount asked me what the Board of Education considered necessary as to provision for higher education, and Lord Harris inquired whether we were going to force the County Council to levy a rate. The Board of Education desire to lay down no hard and fast rule as to what is necessary in any question of higher education, as the type and the amount must vary with the needs of each area. With regard to the suggestion that the Board of Education may adopt a compulsory attitude, I would remind your Lordships that that Board is merely an advisory body. The first part of Clause 2, Part II., reads:—The local education authority shall consider the educational needs of their area and take such steps as seem to them desirable, after consultation with the Board of Education.The Board of Education are not bound to take up a compulsory attitude.
THE MARQUESS OF LONDON-DERRY
It is the same principle. The Board of Education are merely an advisory body. They have no power to 16 compel my noble friend and his County Council to raise any rate, but if they choose to apply to them for advice it will be given. I do not believe it possible that the local authorities will refuse to administer the Act; to do so would be to relinquish great advantages, for they would no longer have control over any of the schools, whereas if they adopt the scheme they have complete control over secular education in every school. Neither do I share the view that the Nonconformists receive no benefit under the Bill. I have a very soft place in my heart for Nonconformists. I know the great work they have done, and I should be the last person to see an injustice inflicted upon them. I consider that they derive considerable advantages under this Bill, and I would instance the provision whereby pupil teacherships are open to them.
I have endeavoured in the speech I have made tonight to deal with the various charges that have been brought against this measure. I have endeavoured to prove to the House that His Majesty's Government have tried to deal honestly and justly with all classes and all creeds. When this Bill becomes law, as I have every reason to imagine it will, important duties and great responsibilities will devolve upon the Board over which I have the honour to preside. I know full well that I am unworthy of that position. I know full well that the noble Earl below the Gangway, Lord Rosebery, regards me as singularly unfitted for my post. He need not shake his head. I do not deny it. But I can say on behalf of myself and of those with whom l am associated, that we will do our utmost to discharge the duties and responsibilities which devolve upon us, not only efficiently but with absolute impartiality. We would, welcome the co - operation and assistance of those local bodies on whom, in a minor degree, are also imposed new duties and responsibilities, and of all classes of the community who have the real interest of education at heart. I may be optimistic, I may be sanguine, but I have a strong conviction that this measure will deal satisfactorily for a long time to come with the question of education. I believe that the agitation which took place in the autumn, and 17 to which I have alluded, will, beyond all doubt, calm down; and I believe that all those prognostications that were then made as to the ruin and disaster that must ensue if the Bill became law will not be fulfilled. I am confident that when the Bill becomes law we shall see all classes of the community, whether political or religious, striving to achieve the end we all wish to attain, and that the Nonconformist lion will work with the Anglican lamb with the simple desire to promote the welfare of the children of the country. If that should be so, I think the historian of the future will declare that in carrying this measure the Government has been endeavouring to live up to the well-known words of the poet—'Tis education forms for common mind, Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
My Lords, may I venture to congratulate the noble Marquess who has just sat down on the ready and easy way in which he has fallen into the duties of his new office. For the bantling which lies exposed before us the noble Marquess is not responsible. We, on this side of the House, are not privileged to know who is its mother. We know it was brought into the world by the hands of the noble Duke and the Prime Minister, with the assistance of a conclave of episcopal matrons. Now that the infant has obtained some strength, it is to be handed over to the noble Marquess as the dry nurse, I suppose. He is discharging his duties to it pleasantly. It is satisfactory to see that he is pleased with the beauty and the perfections of the little creature, though to us it seems plain enough that it is neither very healthy nor likely to have a long life. The noble Marquess, in opening his speech, advanced three propositions, to all of which I must take some exception. The noble Marquess set out that there had been a superfluity of discussion in the House of Commons, and that the action of the Government in forcibly bringing that discussion to a close was justifiable. There I entirely differ from the noble Marquess. The Prime Minister himself admitted, when he proposed measures for closuring the debate in the House of Commons, that the discussion in that 18 House had been of a singularly unobstructive and interesting character. I think also some blame is due to the Government in that they had not brought this measure forward at an earlier period of the session, but had wasted those more fruitful hours of the session on a futile attempt to reform the procedure of the House of Commons. I think also that members of the Government might have remembered that many of those speeches which were shut out from discussion in the House of Commons, both in Committee and on Report, were speeches connected with the finance of this Bill, which we in this House were precluded from discussing or amending. I think that that consideration also should have induced them to have extended to the utmost limit liberty to the Members of the House of Commons to discuss this Bill fully, and to deal with it in the most complete manner.
Again, the noble Marquess alleged a want of sincerity in the agitation against this Bill which has been going on in the country. I think that was hardly a worthy insinuation on his part. We who dispute the justice of this Bill are quite ready to admit the sincerity of those who bring it forward and support it. We believe — nay, more, we know—that more than half the people of this country are bitterly opposed to this Bill, and we believe and know that the opposition to the measure has in no way been wanting in sincerity, but has arisen from a deep sense of the injury that is likely to accrue from it. The noble Marquess suggested that there had been shown throughout this discussion a want of solicitude for education and the interests of the children. There, again, I join issue with him. I think that if he will study the debates that have taken place, he will find that both of those points have been kept well to the front in the speeches in the other House, and he will find that they have been constantly put forward in speeches that have been made by opponents of this measure on the public platform. The noble Marquess then went on to find fault with my noble friend beside me, and also with the Opposition, because we did not define our policy and say what we should be prepared to do supposing we were sitting on the Benches opposite. In that respect he rather echoed some remarks made by 19 Viscount Goschen, and a claim made by the noble Duke when he said, "Tell us what you would do with the voluntary schools?" Those three noble Lords have all had the same advantage as I have myself of experience in the other House, and I always thought it was an accepted maxim in the House of Commons that it was the duty of an Opposition to oppose and not to propose.
I am not going to tell noble Lords exactly what we should do if we were in their place. But I will go as far as this. I do not mind saying what I should have advised the Government to have done if I had been taken into their consultation. The late colleague of the noble Duke in a secondary capacity, Sir John Gorst, recently said in a public speech:—There is no doubt that unless we intend the English people to become hewers of wood and drawers of water for the world, we must make them as well prepared for the work they have to do as are foreign workmen.In that sentence you have confessed the lamentable fact that as things now are our people are being worse educated than those of other nations, let us say of Germany and America, who are our most serious commercial rivals. That is the state of things we have to meet. That state of things will not be met by some improvement in our elementary education. You will have to go further than that. What you have to do is to improve that higher education which follows on elementary education and goes step by step from the elementary school to the university. I have said that the course His Majesty's Government have pursued is not one that I should have advised. I should have advised them to have taken the great settlement of 1870 as the basis of their proposals. I would not have disturbed that compromise. I would have made it the foundation of my system, and on that system and that compromise I should have endeavoured to have built up a great edifice for higher education, which would have given prospect of attaining some of the objects that we desire. I think that would have been a reasonable course to take. After all, the compromise of 1870 is one that has been acted upon and has turned out fairly well. We have, in consequence of it, established a fair system of elementary education, a system which has gone on improving from year to year; and I think that in the course of those thirty years 20 the very bodies for whom this Bill is to be a still further relief—I mean the voluntary schools of this country—have gained no small advantages. As the Bill of 1870 first stood they had to put down shilling for shilling, and pound for pound, the same amount of money that was given them from the Government grant. That is all changed now. First you had the fee grants, then the establishment of the 17s. 6d. limit, then you had the aid grants, next the relief of the voluntary schools from rates, and you have had the block grant. You have had many small bits of assistance from the Department itself, and I am confident that I am in no way over-estimating the relief given since 1870 at at least £1,500,000 annually. I should have thought the Government would have done well to have accomplished something more in the way of strengthening and improving this system, founded on compromise, and which had acted well, rather than throw the whole of our elementary education into the melting pot and endeavour to build up the edifice again from the bottom. That has been the policy of His Majesty's Government and we shall see in the future what the result of it will be. They will in due course have their reward.
When I come to examine as far as I can from the proposals of this Bill what is likely to be the result, from an educational point of view, I cannot say that I see any sort of security that great educational improvement is likely to ensue. The Bill seems to me to give no security whatever for improvement in education, whether it be elementary or secondary. You undoubtedly set up an entirely new series of authorities, but I do not see that in this Bill there is any guarantee that those new authorities will use their powers in order to improve the elementary education of the country. This is the view of a man who, at any rate, has some great knowledge of education, Sir Joshua Fitch. He says—This Bill does nothing to secure, or even to suggest, improvement in education or to secure for children better teaching or better opportunities for intellectual advancement. In so far as elementary education is affected the Bill affords little or no help. It gives no motives to managers, denominational or otherwise, to exert themselves or to raise the standard of education, but it offers new encouragement 21 and aid to the denominational system and gives to that system, though it is less and less in favour of the nation as a whole, a fresh lease of life.What guarantee have we for the manner in which these new authorities will use their power? Will they raise the standard of the voluntary schools to that of the present board schools, or will they bring down the average standard of the present board schools to that of the voluntary schools, or will they endeavour to bring them both to some mean between the two? I do not see that any indication is given in this Bill as to the method in which they are to discharge their duties.
I come to the secondary education part of the Bill. There, again, I say there is no sort of mandatory direction in the Clause referring to it which will compel the local education authority to take really effective steps. I know that the noble Duke disputed that last night. It is true they are told to consider the educational needs of their area, and to take such steps as seem to them desirable; but if they consider that steps are not desirable, there is no sentence within that Clause which gives ant power to compel them to take any steps at all. I think that that view is borne out even by words that fell from noble Lords last night. The most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of Canterbury told us that so far as secondary education was concerned the Bill was very meagre. My noble friend Viscount Goschen described its intention as obscure, and said he would be glad to ascertain the goal which was being aimed at; whilst the Government's own chief supporter in the Press, The Times, only two mornings ago wrote of the Bill that itLeaves the problems of secondary education in many respects almost untouched.The noble Marquess has made a great point against us with regard to the question of mandate. For my own part, so far as the question of education is concerned, the matter of mandate weighs with me very little indeed. It may be that the Government had no mandate to deal with local government in the manner that they have. It may be that they had no mandate to take so much control over the expenditure of public money 22 from the people as they have. But, so far as education is concerned, I think that the mandate lies on this Government, on any Government, to deal in the best way possible with the education of the people. I think that on both sides of the House we are agreed that education is a subject that we all must try our hands at. The noble Earl who sits below the Gangway, even in his Chesterfield speech, rightly declared that the subject of education was one of those subjects on which all Liberals should concentrate.
I have no fault to find with the Government dealing with the question of education It is to the methods and to the principles which have been applied in this Bill that I take exception. I say that if the methods and principles which are to be found in this Bill are given effect to by an Act of Parliament, then this Bill will serve only to perpetuate and aggravate the greatest blot in our system, the greatest hindrance to efficiency—I mean, the sectarian character of a large proportion of our State-aided schools. The Established Church of England has always insisted on making the teaching of its own particular doctrines the paramount object of education. That has been their policy from an early period. The first report of the National Society says thatThe national religion should be the foundation of a national education, and should be the first and chief thing taught to the poor according to the instructions provided by our Church for that purpose.In the House of Commons Lord Hugh Cecil, in other words, laid down the same principle when he declaimed that every school should have two doors—the one through which the pupils should be forced by the compulsory powers of the State, and the other the one by which they should be sent out by the education given in the school into the Church. To this principle, I think, is largely due the present state of the schools in this country, for in order to secure the teaching of their own particular doctrine the English Established Church—and I find, no fault with the work that it has done in this direction—have covered the country with schools of its own, and in these schools education has only too often been inefficient because, from lack of funds, there has been a difficulty in 23 providing good teachers to sufficiently well equip the schools. It is essentially the sectarian difficulty which has prevented the nation from uniting as a body on a national system such as America possesses. There are in America something like 16,000,000 children attending schools provided by the State at a cost of something like £43,000,000 a year. I think that the sectarian spirit, encouraged by this system of voluntary schools, has been the real cause of most of our difficulty. It has divided people who ought to have been united. It has set men wrangling over doctrine when they ought to have been discussing education. It has sacrificed the education of our children to the rivalries of our Churches. I come from the north of the Tweed, and we there consider that we are far ahead of England in the matter of education. That may be so or not. We think so. And yet we are there, I think, fond of theological controversy. In spite of that, I believe that the reason to which can be attributed the success of our education in Scotland is that we have in our education been freed from sectarian controversies, and that we have been enabled to set up over the whole length and breadth of the country universal School Boards, under which children have been given thoroughly good elementary education.
As to the operation of this Bill, I wish to say a few words. What does the Bill do? First of all, it abolishes School Boards. The noble Marquess disputed that fact. I will refer him, in support of my contention, to a single line in the Bill at the top of page 3, which runs—School Boards and School Attendance Committees shall be abolished.Well, these Boards to whom education in England has been so greatly indebted are to go. I do not think that anybody will dispute the fact that the School Boards have greatly raised the level and the standard of education. I think those who support voluntary schools will admit that our School Board system has done a great deal to raise the ordinary standard of education. The School Boards are to be abolished, and what is to take their place? Not a body directly elected by the people for the purpose. That has been surely one of the best features of 24 the School Board system. From the people, from the parents of the children who attend the schools, the School Boards have sprung, and to the people, and to the parents of those who attend the schools, the School Boards have been responsible, both in respect of their action and their expenditure. But under this Bill there is to be no more of that. The School Boards are to go, and in their place is to be set up a sort of three-headed authority which is to be kept in check by the Education Department. First, my Lords, you have an education authority consisting of the County and Borough Councils. I repeat what my noble friend beside me (Earl Spencer) said last night. Have not these County and Borough Councils sufficient to do already? Are not their hands fairly full with the work already entrusted to them? Do you not run the risk of over-loading with work men who are already rather hard pressed to discharge their duties, and who discharge them free of recompense, men of whom the best have many other occupations and much other business to attend to? Are you sure that these Councils as they are constituted have any particular knowledge of or aptitude for educational work?
And, again, taking the County Council, I ask how is it possible that a great County Council can make itself acquainted with all the needs and necessities of every small school within its area? It has been calculated that, supposing the County Council of the great West Riding of Yorkshire were to attempt to visit the elementary schools within its area, it would take it a year to go round and pay a single visit to each school. After all, I suppose the functions that will appertain to the County Council, as the education authority, will be little more than financial. It will have to raise the rate; it will have to distribute the rate and the Parliamentary grant; but the real work will, I suppose, fall on the education committees. Now, what am I to say about the formation of those education committees? It is claimed, I know, that they are really representative bodies. It is an extraordinary thing that noble Lords on the other side, including members of the Government, appear not to be able to distinguish the great difference 25 there is between a directly elected body, and one that is indirectly elected, and which Consists largely, if not entirely, of co-opted members. Apparently it is part of the policy of the present Government to substitute for directly elected bodies, not only for education but for other purposes, bodies of this nondescript and unrepresentative character. These committees are to consist, in the first instance, of a majority of members appointed by the Council, and, though that is the case, the Council, if it so pleases, may be able to name its entire number of members without including one of its own body. I do not mean to say that that will be the usual case, but it can do that if it so chooses. Then we come to the rest of the members of the education committee. In the Bill there is no direction whatever as to how these various men are to be chosen. Four or five different classes of members are suggested, but as to how they are to be chosen, what their comparative number is to be, who they are to represent, who is to nominate them, we have no sort of instruction whatever; and it is only as one of this class of co-opted persons that women find a place at all within the scheme of the Bill. Women deeply feel the fact that they are by this Bill excluded from direct election to one of the most important bodies in whose work a woman can take part. To these authorities is added yet another authority—the board of managers. In both sets of schools managers are to be appointed who are to perform certain equally undefined duties.
You have, then, this hierarchy of authorities. You have the education authority, you have the education committee, and you have the managers, and to keep them all in order you have the Education Department, which is weakened in its power of controlling the various authorities, because it has given up two important powers—namely, the power of declaring default and the power of compelling the local authorities to provide sufficient school places. What an opportunity for rivalries, jealousies, and difficulties between these various authorities! There is no definition of the respective duties of these authorities. It is said that the education authority is 26 to be supreme, that the Education Committee is to control and that the managers are to manage; but no attempt is made to define either what control is, or what management is. I do think that great confusion must ensue from administration under these authorities. To these various authorities are to be handed over, not only the present board schools, which hereafter will be known as provided schools, but also the voluntary schools. In future the support of both these classes of schools is to come on the rates. Heretofore the denominational schools have been supported partly by Government grant and partly by subscriptions from those interested in them. That is why in many places School Boards have not been set up. It has been said that it would be cheaper to maintain and to keep the voluntary schools. That has always been threatened. The population of a particular district have been told:—"If you set up a School Board you will find it more expensive. You will have to pay rates, whereas now the school can be managed in a cheaper manner, and only those who choose to subscribe need have any expense put upon them." It seems to me that now arises a somewhat important question. You have taken from the voluntary subscribers and given to the ratepayers the charge of these schools. But who is to be responsible for the religious instruction given in them? Not the ratepayers, not the representatives of those who pay, not the Education Department as representative of the taxpayers, not the County or the Borough Council, not the Education Committee. The decision as to the management of the religious teaching, as to the appoiontment of teachers completely from top to bottom, as to the profession of faith of those teachers—all this is to be given to the present managers, to the clergy and to their friends, with this exception only, that to the foundation managers are to be added two managers appointed by the education committee. So that from this time henceforth the Church party are always to be in a majority on the management of these schools, and it will be in their power to secure that no Nonconformist, but only Church of England teachers, are appointed, and that the special doctrines 27 of the Church of England are taught, and this though the school has become a public school supported by the people as a whole, Churchmen and Nonconformists alike.
It seems to me that here is the glaring injustice of the Bill. The people are to be rated for education which they do not control, and not only that, but for education which is sectarian in its character. It seems to me that these are violations of two great democratic principles. I hold, first, that the people should control that which they pay for; and, secondly, that rates levied from the people should not be applied to sectarian bodies. I heard it laid down from the other side of the House last night that representation should go with taxation. It seems to me an astonishing thing that one should have to dwell on so elementary a principle of government and to find that at this time of day in England this principle should be so gratuitously violated. We are rated for Town Councils and County Councils, but we have the control; we are rated for boards of guardians, but we have the control of those bodies; we have been rated for School Boards, but we have the control of those authorities. All these bodies are responsible to the ratepayers, but under this Bill we are to have schools for which we are rated, but over whose actual management we are to have little or no control. It is, indeed, true that the education authorities are to raise the money, but it is the education committees and the managers who will have the spending of it, and over their action we have no control whatever. Let me look for a moment at the second principle violated, which is that rates levied upon the people should not be applied to sectarian objects. I thought that was a ground on which the battle had been fought to a finish long ago. Nonconformists of two or three generations ago declared that they would not pay Church rates. They objected, and in support of that contention some of them suffered loss of goods and some of them were sent to prison. By their sacrifices Church rates were abolished, and yet here we are going to have renewed this system which we had thought had gone for good. Now, forsooth, men of all creeds and no 28 creeds are to be rated for the teaching of the dogmas of a particular Church. The Church of England has in this country some 13,000 schools in which Church doctrines are taught. I do not for a moment dispute the right of the Church to teach those doctrines. They have the entire right to do so, but they should teach them at their own expense. Under this Bill it is proposed that they should do so at our expense. That is a proposition which I for my part cannot accept, and it is one which I do not believe will be accepted by the majority of the country. It is, I think, a somewhat significant thing—a thing which deserves some consideration—that in this House, which contains two Estates of the Realm, there should be found perhaps only fifteen or twenty men who voice the opinion which is that of the majority of the people of the country.
The noble Duke and the Members of the Government have a distinguished colleague who is now on his way as a messenger of peace to the other side of the world. I say, God speed him on that errand. Perhaps his view may have some influence on the Government, even though ours will have but little. I should like just to quote a sentence from the speech he made in Birmingham after the passage of the Act of 1870. Mr. Chamberlain then said—If the resolutions of the School Board are carried into effect, numbers of children now enjoying the luxury of a sectarian education at the expense of the private supporters of denominational schools will enjoy that luxury at the expense of the ratepayers. This iniquity I and my colleagues have resisted, and will continue to resist, holding the opinion that in schools supported by the rates denominationalists have no right to interfere, and that they must not be allowed to meddle in the concerns of the kingdom in which they had no jurisdiction.I think those words of Mr. Chamberlain are extremely apposite now, and that they might well be taken into consideration by noble Lords opposite. When he introduced this Bill the Prime Minister claimed that it would secure co-ordination of educational authorities, that it would secure popular control, that it would end the religious difficulty. My Lords, these are high aims and worthy aspirations, but I think that from the debates that have taken place in Parliament and the discussions outside, it is very clear that there is little likelihood of those aspirations being realised. It is because I 29 think that these aspirations will not be realised, because I think that this Bill will but accentuate and increase difficulties already existing, that I, for my part, shall cheerfully vote against the Second Reading with the full confidence that though, as is certain, the Bill will become law, its life will not be a long one, and that it will be the duty of my noble friend beside me, and those who think with him, at the very first opportunity to bring in a measure which will restore to the people of this country the control of education and also religious equality.
§ THE EARL OF NORTHBROOK
My Lords, I can promise your Lordships that I shall not detain you for more than a few moments, for I have no intention of entering upon the general discussion of the substance of this Bill. But great doubt has been expressed by my noble friend who moved the rejection of the Bill, and also by the noble Lord who has just spoken, whether the County Councils of England and Wales are the proper authorities for carrying the Bill into effect. On that question, perhaps, I may claim some right to speak, because I am chairman of a County Council and have the honour to be the Deputy-Chairman of the County Councils Association, upon which body every County Council in England and Wales is represented. That Association has very carefully considered the Bill and the functions which, under it, the County Councils will have to perform. As the noble Marquess the President of the Board of Education has already informed your Lordships, the County Councils Association met in May last and came to the conclusion that County Councils were acting through committees (a majority of whom should be members of the Council) as the education authorities, well qualified and prepared, if so requested by Parliament, to undertake the powers and duties imposed upon these authorities by the Bill. I venture to think, with regard to the doubts expressed by noble Lords on this subject, that the County Councils are better able to give an authoritative reply on this statement than anyone else. The County Councils Association also expressed unqualified approbation of those portions of the Bill which refer to secondary and technical education. For the first Resolution thirty representatives voted in favour and only seven against, 30 and among the former was the representative of the County Council to which my noble friend Earl Spencer belongs Objection has been taken on the ground that the County Councils are to work through committees. I venture to think that no one who is acquainted with the way in which County Councils perform their duties would for a moment imagine that they could work in any other way. It is the course they adopt with respect to the whole of their business. An important measure of local government was passed some time ago which had to be worked by the County Councils through a most important committee. That committee sent down its members who made local inquiries all over the county, and carried out the work under that Act with perfect satisfaction to the public. It has been urged that experts will be precluded from sitting on these committees. I am surprised to hear that objection raised by anyone who is acquainted with the needs of education. The power of adding experts to education committees exists at present under the Technical Instruction Act, and it seems to me a most valuable power. County Councils object to an education committee being constituted which should not be composed of a majority of members of the County Council. That view was adopted by the Government, and an alteration was made in the Bill which provides that, except in some very exceptional cases, the majority of the members on the education committee shall be members of the Council. My noble friend Lord Tweedmouth said it was impossible for the County Council to know all about the primary schools in the counties. Of course it is impossible. How is any big work ever done in this country except by sub-dividing it? The work of the primary schools will be done by delegating powers from the education committee. A provision has been inserted in this Bill for the specific purpose of giving the education committees power to deal with matters in that way. Having given my best attention to the subject, and having heard the discussion between the representatives of the County Councils of the whole of England, I can only say that the County Councils are grateful to the Government for the manner in 31 which they have met many suggestions which those Councils considered of importance with regard to the details of the Bill. Personally, although the matter is undoubtedly a difficult one, I look forward with great confidence to the duties which are imposed by this Bill on the County Councils being adequately and properly performed.
* THE LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER
My Lords, I listened with special attention to the speech of my noble friend Lord Tweedmouth, who raised a warm feeling of interest in the breasts of a good many of us when he told us that he was about to state what mode he would have adopted in the difficult circumstances in which we stand educationally had he been called upon to construct an Education Bill. When we waited to hear what the form of the Bill would in that case have been, all that we learnt was that it would have been one to carry out in its completeness the principles laid down in the Act of 1870. I venture to believe that this Bill very nearly fulfils the idea which the noble Lord in those few words sketched by carrying out in the altered circumstances of the day the very lines laid down by Mr. Forster and his colleagues in 1870. Last night the noble Earl who moved the rejection of the Bill said that the bishops—I do not know why the bishops were thus singled out—were opposing "a gigantic weight of opinion in the country rooted in conscientious conviction."I am not prepared to dispute the truth of the statement that there is a body of vehement opinion rooted in conscientious conviction, but I am not sure that the word "gigantic "is the one I should have used. But I let that pass. I would ask your Lordships for a moment to inquire whether that weight of opinion is grounded as a matter, of fact on a reasonable knowledge of the Bill as it stands, and whether it is a spontaneous expression of public opinion, or whether we can attribute to it a special character and a special origin? No one, I believe, who has studied the matter, will deny that the opposition to the Bill, honest and straightforward as it is, in the main a Nonconformist opposition. I am not in the least derogating from its importance on that account, but I think it is beyond question that the educational experts who 32 are free from prejudices of distracting and disturbing kind, and who have expressed an opinion on the Bill, are, generally speaking, in an overwhelming preponderance on the side of the measure. Of course there are some educationists who oppose it, but I am speaking of the preponderant body of expert opinion. There is, however, a strong and united opposition to the Bill in Nonconformist quarters, and it is not a whit the less entitled to be listened to on that account. On the contrary, it is, in my judgment, of all the more weight because it is founded beyond question upon deep religious sentiment, and religious sentiment is one of the most important factors in the formation of effective opinions. But when we go further and ask how that opinion has reached its present head, I think we find reason to give us pause.
It is, of necessity, impossible for large numbers of people in the country to understand an intricate and complex Bill like this without someone to explain it to them, and in such a case trust is naturally reposed in some one who, from his position and personal character, is entitled to be listened to. There can be no question that the man who in this country has come forward to take that position among Nonconformists has been that trusted leader, that great religious guide to many people, Dr. Clifford, of whom I do not wish to say a single disrespectful word. The letters of Dr. Clifford, published originally in the Daily News, and republished as a pamphlet, have undoubtedly been a leading factor in the formation of that hostile public opinion which we are told is a gigantic force. He has endeavoured to put the characteristics of the Bill in a brief categorical form, which could be understood by everybody. Let me give an example of what I mean. When he uses terms which virtually tell his readers that the board schools are practically swept away, it would have seemed to me that he was indulging in purely fanciful rhetoric but from the fact that, last night, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Coleridge, with no less weight than belongs to one of His Majesty's Counsel learned in the law, practically adopted the same words. My Lords, I say unhesitatingly that, put in that form the words are the wildest distortion of the provisions of the Bill, and are actually, 33 though I do not say intentionally, misleading to the public to whom they are addressed. The pamphlet again makes specific statements to the effect that the Bill, both in voluntary and in board schools, abolishes compulsory education, and it categorically states (I am here quoting its very words) that "it closes the evening schools." Is it a fair mode of dealing with the country, which cannot understand an intricate subject such as this Bill, to make categorical statements so preposterous as that? Can we be surprised that there should be a large force of public opinion roused to white heat against a measure which is supposed to be productive of such results? But that is not all. I touch, with some diffidence, on a subject more sacred in its character and more difficult to handle. A few months ago the National Council of the Evangelical Free Churches put forth a circular which I hold in my hand, expressly requesting all the Nonconformist ministers to unite their congregations in prayer on the subject. A more laudable, natural, and proper direction to emanate from this Council I cannot imagine, provided that what is meant is that the process shall be followed which we in this House, and the Members of the other House, follow every day, of invoking the Divine blessing on those who are entrusted with the most difficult work of legislation. But this circular goes on to say that the prayer should be directed specifically against what is described as "the perpetration of a retrograde step in regard to national education, and a cruel injustice to the Free Churches of our land." I venture to ask, with confidence, what noble Lords opposite would have said had the Bench of Bishops put forward a request that in the Churches throughout the country, prayer should be offered for the distinct and definite passing of particular Clauses of this Bill? Legitimately and properly we should have been condemned on every hand for abusing the position we hold, and I venture to say that what would have been true of us is no less true of those who have acted on the opposite side in the manner I have described. It is not, therefore, surprising that there should have been a great outburst of public sentiment on this subject among 34 the section of the people to whom these appeals were made.
For a long time it was felt by those of us who, generally speaking, are in favour of this measure that we would not act wisely in endeavouring by public meetings to counteract what was being done on the other side, and that it would be better to leave the Bill to be understood, and to allow the country to weigh the matter quietly for itself; but after a time it was obvious that something else was needed, and wherever the endeavour has been made to circulate information which at least endeavours to be absolutely impartial and fair by those who take a different view of the question, the tide has turned and the state of public opinion is very different from what it was some time ago. I will give a concrete example. The largest town in my diocese is the town of Portsmouth, where the schools are almost entirely board schools. The pamphlet containing the letters of Dr. Clifford had an immense circulation and the effect produced was very great indeed. For a long time we left the matter alone, but ultimately those who regard the Bill with favour issued a series of leaflets and then called a public meeting in the Town Hall. In that town, which is full of board schools, and in which the voluntary schools are few and far between, the huge town hall was crowded before the meeting began, and enthusiastic resolutions were carried in favour of the Bill. That is no solitary instance of what is happening. I believe that as soon as the measure is properly understood, we shall find that that "gigantic" force of opinion to which the noble Earl has referred will dwindle away.
I pass from that to the need for the measure as a whole. It has been taken for granted more or less I think on both sides of the controversy by those who have no very special knowledge of the intricacies of the matter that the rural schools in England are at present exceedingly bad. I venture absolutely to dispute that proposition. Our rural schools are behindhand in their appliances, in their staffing, and in the amount of the salaries paid to the teachers, and frequently in the character of the school buildings, and it would be grossly unfair, in my judgment, to the teachers and to the children, to allow them to continue in 35 that condition; but if the Government had acted in the way suggested by some, and had met the difficulty by simply establishing universal School Boards throughout the country, I venture to think they would have made the matter worse instead of better. Inefficient as some of our rural schools are, the most inefficient are those which are under the control of the School Boards. But I want to ask, Are we right in supposing that the existing rural schools are as black as they are painted? I should not expect your Lordships to accept my opinion on the character of those schools. I know them pretty thoroughly. I seldom visit any country parish without visiting the school, and I have therefore a personal acquaintance with hundreds of them. But I do not ask you to take my own evidence. What I have done has been to look carefully at the reports of His Majesty's Inspectors of Schools for the past year, to see exactly what those who are best qualified to speak have to say on the subject; and I would venture to trouble your Lordships with two extracts only. One is contained in the Report of His Majesty's Inspector for the East Central Division of England, the Rev. C. D. Du Port, who incorporates in his Report the reports of the Inspectors under him. I take the following sentence from the Report:—Because country teachers are indifferently paid, and because country managers find it diflicult to make both ends meet, therefore it is tacitly argued that country schools must needs be inefficient. They are nothing of the sort. … Apart from the difficulty of providing experienced teachers for small classes of infants, the rural schools are quite as good as the urban schools.The Inspector refers to the fact that if isolation is a drawback to the country teacher, it is also in some respects a distinct advantage. He says:—His school is always an organic whole and never degenerates, as the large urban school, sometimes does, into a mere bundle of classes. Then, again, successful town schools are frequently cast in one mould; whereas the good village school has a character and an individuality of its own which it has developed in response to the ' plastic stress "of a vigorous and independent mind.'I turn from that to another part of England, purposely taking places that are far from one another. I read in the Report 36 of the Inspector for Cumberland, Westmorland, and the rural parts of Lancashire that:In the voluntary schools the assistants are as a rule, of poor qualifications, but the work often reaches as good a level as in schools which have on paper a far superior staff. This may be in part due to the teachers being treated more as individuals and less as pawns, but the main credit of it must be given to the headmasters of these schools, many of whom display extraordinary ability and energy. The strain involved in producing such excellence as they do must be well-nigh intolerable; but they do produce it very often.Those, my Lords, are testimonies from His Majesty's Inspectors as to the character of our rural schools. I say unhesitatingly that the credit for this is due, in the first place, to the teachers who, in isolated positions and labouring under extreme financial and other drawbacks, evince a magnificent devotion, and are content to accept lower salaries than they could get elsewhere, rather than abandon the interests of the rural schools. In the second place, I venture to say that the others upon whom the credit rests are the clergy, in whom, for the last hundred years or more, the care for education in our rural districts has been practically centred.
I happened, recently, to find by accident a Report of a Committee of the Quarter Sessions of Hampshire upon "The State of the Poor," presented at the Midsummer Session at Winchester more than a hundred years ago. At that time day schools were few and far between. Such education as was given at all to the children in rural districts was mainly given in the Sunday schools, and the committee of Magistrates, who looked into the subject, stared in a somewhat startled and almost frightened way at the progress, infinitesimal as it seems to us, that was then being made educationally among the people. The committee regarded the endeavour with the sort of puzzled caution with which a flock of sheep stares at a strange thing in the field. They deprecated—I quote their own words—That supposed learning, that zeal beyond knowledge, which tends to enthusiasm.And they went on to say—It is with limitation only that schools for the poor are beneficial. So far as they have any tendency to raise an idea of scholarship, to make those who attend them conceive they are scholars, and thence to place them in their own conceit above common labour, they become prejudicial instead of serviceable to the community.37 That was the view taken by the laity of that period of the character and need of rural education, and I mention it to show yonr Lordships the kind of difficulties which the clergy had to contend with in initiating the schools which have now reached the excellent level I have described. I am almost afraid to call attention to this fact that Report is signed by the ancestors of some of your Lordships. The people who had to combat such views as to education in the rural districts were the clergy. They were the only people who, during the greater part of the century that has closed, really put their backs into it and cared about the promotion of rural education. They were believers in it when other people were not, and they are believers in it today. It is as educationalists, not as clerics, that they have thrown themselves into the work, although, of course, they have always, both by word and act, laid emphasis upon the foremost place which religious teaching must take as the basis for the formation of character.
In urban districts, also, the credit for educational progress, speaking generally, is due though of course in a less exclusive degree to the clergy. In the debates of the last few months it has not been unusual to hear the fact that a great many clergy are sitting on School Boards cited as evidence that the School Boards are not hostile to the clergy—a view which the clergy are inaccurately supposed to take. Undoubtedly the system which many of the clergy advocate in their voluntary schools is one which certain members of the School Boards are apt to discredit; but I have never heard the other charge made, and I was startled to hear it alluded to in Parliament the other day as something that we were supposed to have charged School Boards with. The conclusion that I will draw, however, is that the clergy are found to be the best leaders and guides in the education that is carried on by our School Boards. It is no small fact, surely, that the School Boards of such places as Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Salford, and Sheffield, to take only a few instances, all have clergymen as their chairmen. It is, therefore, utterly monstrous to suggest that the clergy as such are engaged in promoting sectarian interests alone in elementary schools and not 38 thinking of education as a whole. If that was so, would they have been appointed in these leading towns as chairmen of the School Boards? It is because they are educationists of the first order that they stand where they do; to make out that they are obscurantists is, to my mind, simply to contradict the facts of history and the evidence that is before our eyes at this moment.
The three main objections advanced against the Bill are that its idea is to retain denominational tests, that it gives control without adequate popular representation, and that it uses the rates for denominational teaching. Let me deal with these points one by one. I yield to no man in my dislike to denominational tests as a bar to any position of responsibility or service in the State which deals simply with secular matters. But it does seem to me the merest pedantry not to admit that to that general rule there must be an exception with regard to the people whose duty it is going to be to give religious instruction. You are bound to find out whether the person who is going to give such instruction is fit to give it. I have frequently borne testimony to the admirable religious teaching that is given in the schools of the London School Board and of many other of the large School Boards, but why is it that in these schools the religious instruction is so well given? It is because the teachers have all practically been trained in religious colleges in which one of the foremost tasks undertaken is the preparation of men and women to give religious education to little children. Under this Bill we are going, quite rightly, to provide other and more extensive means for the training of our future masters and mistresses, but in so far as that provision is made by the State it will be of a secular character, and to that extent the result will be that in a few years hence you will be obliged to choose those who will be entrusted with the giving of religious teaching from people who have not had the advantage the teachers of today have had. If you choose a master to teach drawing, you do not think it sufficient that he should express his willingness to teach it. You test his qualifications. You are bound to do the same before you assign to him the most 39 difficult, by common consent, of all a schoolmaster's duties, the teaching adequately and well of the truths of religion. Therefore I protest against the notion that an inquiry into the qualification of a teacher to give, conscientiously and because he believes them, the truths of our religion, however simply, to little children, is a violation of any fundamental principle.
In the next place, it is alleged against this Bill that control is being given without adequate popular representation. That all depends upon what is meant by control. If I understand the Bill rightly, there will be no necessity whatever for a single penny passing through the hands of any other person than those who are either popularly elected themselves or appointed by those who are popularly elected. But no doubt I shall be told that the real difficulty lies in the fact that the appointment of the teacher rests with those who are, to the extent of two-thirds, not popularly elected. Yes; but it is made under the control of the whole body, under the absolute control and guidance, as regards educational efficiency, of the popularly elected body which stands behind. What practically will happen is this, that the managers—one-third from outside, and two-thirds from inside—will have the right of nominating a teacher from among those who are approved as competent by the education authority. If that is taking the control out of the hands of those who raise the money, I do not know what control means. It may still be said that it is an unfair arrangement, that there ought not to be any preponderating voice given to the denominational managers in the appointment of the teacher. Well, on that point I should like to go back five years, when the atmosphere was a little clearer with regard to this particular controversy, and when politicians of all kinds were able to look at the matter in a calmer way than they can today. I turn to a speech delivered five years ago by Mr. Asquith at Rochdale, and I should like to read what he said:—I have never gone the length of thinking or of saying, nor, I believe, have any of my friends, that the principle of popular control ought to be carried to the length of subverting the denominational character of the schools. I think that would be an unfair thing, an unjust thing; that it would, in effect, disestablish the denominational character of the schools, and transform them, and practically put them 40 on the same footing as the board schools of the country. I agree that, if you are to have a denominational system, then the particular tenets of the particular faith must be taught, and that those tenets may be taught in good faith, with enthusiasm and with zeal, it is not unnatural that the managers of those schools should claim to have a preponderating voice in the choice of teachers.That was the view taken at a calmer time by one of the foremost leaders of those who are at present opposing the Bill of the Government.
* THE LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER
The criticism of the noble Earl is a most fair and reasonable one. I am only using the quotation to prove one point in my argument. What we are told by so clear-headed an educationist as Mr. Asquith is that if you are to maintain denominational schools at all it is not unreasonable that the managers of those schools should claim to have a preponderating voice in the choice of the teachers; provided you maintain denominational schools at all you are not to make the appointment of the teachers depend upon those who are not preponderatingly belonging to the denomination. I admit that under the present Bill a change takes place as regards the payment for the schools. All I use the quotation for is to press this point; he admits that if a denominational system is to go on at all you must leave the preponderating voice in the appointment of teachers to the denominational managers. Is not that exactly what this Bill is practically doing? It leaves, not the entire voice, not the complete control, but the preponderating voice in the appointment of teachers, to those who belong to the denomination. There I am content to leave that point at present. But there is one little point that I should like to dwell upon. Some noble Lords who sit on the opposite side of the House have the advantage—I should say the high privilege—of being members of the London County Council; and one of them, who I believe is to address us tonight, the Earl of Rosebery among the many distinguished offices he has held, has filled none of them more splendidly than the chairmanship of the London County Council. There is great talk about the remoteness of the 41 control given to the popularly-elected authority over the appointment of teachers. Is it remembered how remote is the popular control in the appointment of teachers by the different technical education boards under the London County Council? There are contributions from the City Companies and from other bodies, enabling them to obtain, I will not say a preponderating, but a large voice in the appointment of teachers. It is in this way that they practically work in the splendid way they have worked their Polytechnics and other institutions. I do not wish to make too much of that point, but it does seem to me to be worth bearing in mind when we hear of the distance between the teachers who are actually at work and those who have the ultimate control of the work.
Then with regard to the objections raised to the whole principle—this fundamental principle, as the noble Lord said—of giving rate aid for denominational schools. The position of those who take that point is to me bewildering in the extreme. I think I am not wrong in saying that in the early days of the Parliamentary debates of the last few months, again and again it was said that, however important might be the question of who the ultimate authority was, there was one thing far more important, and that was the fundamental principle that rate aid ought not under any circumstances whatever to be given for denominational teaching. I find that one of the leaders of the opposition to this Bill, Mr. Lloyd-George, said early in the debates—I agree that the question of the authority (he is speaking of representation and the rates) is not really the most important part of the Bill. There is only one important question that divides us, that of rate-aid for teaching religion of which a large portion of the ratepayers do not approve. That is the whole question so far as we are concerned.My Lords, I call attention to those words. I ask you to look on a few months, and you will find these same people telling us that they would be perfectly satisfied if they had the Scotch system established in England tomorrow. The whole essence of the Scotch system is the giving of rate aid to denominational education; and the people who told us a few months ago that the objection to the use of rates for denominational education was vital, have now boxed the compass and tell us that the process they desire to see followed is 42 one that has rate aid for denominational schools as its very backbone and essence. My Lords, I dwell upon that not because I want to taunt those who have so spoken with inconsistency; it may be that they are inconsistent, but that is not the point that I want to dwell upon. It is this: that it is the best evidence we can have of the difficulty which they find in formulating any other scheme. First they are forced to one conclusion as to the fundamental principle; then they are forced to go right round the compass until they get to the opposite principle in order to justify their opposition to the Bill now before the country. I refer to it simply to show that they have practically no alternative scheme which can hold the field against this scheme now before your Lordships' House. I venture to think that to that extent at least the argument is not an unimportant one.
My Lords, I have, I am afraid, detained your Lordships too long. I have spoken as an educationist rather than as an ecclesiastic. I could say much if it were necessary on the constructive side of the Bill that is before us, but the introduction of the measure last night by the noble Lord, and the speech of the President of the Education Board tonight, have dealt so fully with that subject that I do not propose to dwell upon it further. I am not prepared to say that in every particular I think this Bill the best that could have been devised. I should like to have seen it different in a good many ways. Indeed, I doubt whether any single Member of your Lordships' House (including even the authors of the Bill) is prepared to say that. The best scheme that could be devised we each of us have no doubt in our own minds, and it will doubtless differ from the present Bill. But this is an honest, straightforward, and courageous endeavour to grapple with a great and difficult problem in a way which will best meet the conflicting interests which anyone who has to deal with this subject has to meet. I confess I am not alarmed by the prognostications of failure which have been rife both inside and outside Parliament. I look back and find how in 1870 no less a politician than John Bright, and others with him, told us that that Bill was 43 doomed to speedy failure, whereas it is now regarded as practically the palladium of the liberties of those who desire educational progress. Then I pass on to the Bill of 1889. Your Lordships all remember how in 1889 powers were given to the County Councils to help technical education. We were told again and again that none of the Councils would use the Bill—that the last thing they would do would be to spend that money on educational purposes. My Lords, we know the County Councils better now. In a very large degree, and in a constantly increasing degree, these funds have been used as they were intended to be used. That again, therefore, prevents my being alarmed at the prognostications and fears with regard to the future of this Bill. Five years ago, when the Voluntary Schools Association Bill was passed, we were told that these associations were bound to fail, and that the plan would lead to ceaseless wrangles among those who were trying to get money for individual schools. Yet nothing of the sort has happened, and the result of those associations has been to an enormous degree to help forward the work of rural schools in practically every county in England. The term "co-ordination" has received a very great deal of ridicule in this House and elsewhere. It has been spoken of as a kind of mysterious "Mesapotamia," which means nothing and serves no good purpose. I believe that to be absolutely fallacious. No principle of this Bill is more absolutely certain to work out well and successfully than the co-ordination which must result where it is properly worked as regards every step in our educational system. Nothing is so good in these matters as a concrete instance. I live hard by the little town of Farnham. We have a population, partly urban and partly rural, of 12,000. We have five board schools and four voluntary schools; we have a grammar school for boys and a secondary school for girls; we have a pupil teachers' Centre, and we have all sorts of evening classes. They are under five different authorities, and they are receiving grants (quite apart from voluntary subscriptions) from three totally different sources. Anything more puzzling and more extravagant than such a complicated system could hardly be conceived. Now already, before the Bill is passed we are seeing our way to the 44 complete co-ordination of that system, bringing the primary and secondary organisation into one united whole, the secondary schools being able to be supported by the same authority, and the teachers in the secondary schools being available when necessary for scientific and other subjects in elementary schools, because there will be the same paymaster. In that, and many other ways, I am certain that before many years have passed we shall find that the results of the measure will be so good as will startle those who have given it such strenuous opposition.
My Lords, I have said all I have to say, but I am charged with one duty that I desire to perform before I sit down. Your Lordships listened last night with the attention always due, but due in a special sense last night, to the most rev. Primate. We do not know whether to admire more the weighty and pathetic speech that he delivered, or the courage with which he delivered it in the face of obvious physical difficulties. It is not a small thing that at the head of the Church of England, which has necessarily so much to do with the organisation of education, we should have one who, for a life of more than fourscore years, has been from the outset in the forefront of every movement of educational progress and reform. More than fifty years ago Mr. Temple, as he then was, was a prominent figure in educational work, and he is in the forefront of that work still. I think that is a record which will be difficult to match in the history of educational work, whether in the Church or in the civil community. I had the privilege this morning of speaking to the Archbishop upon the subject of this Bill and of his speech last night, and he desired me to say this—that had not physical weakness prevented, he desired to have concluded his speech by a very earnest appeal to all those whom his words might reach—the managers, clerical and lay alike, and all those who are interested in the voluntary schools which are still connected with the Church—that it should be one of their primary and foremost efforts when this Bill becomes law to see that no hardship is inflicted thereby upon Nonconformists. We have all along desired—those who take a lead in Church matters—that facilities of every kind should be given 45 for the removal of every possible Nonconformist grievance that is removable in our parishes. But the most rev. Primate desired that the last words of his speech should be such an appeal on behalf of those who, while not belonging to our Church, are as entitled to their religious convictions as any of ourselves, any of your Lordships, any of those who are sending their children to a Church school, being themselves Churchmen; and to beg that every possible endeavour might be made by us who are responsible in these schools for removing difficulties wherever that can possibly be done. My Lords, we have long expressed such a desire—we desire it still; and I for one honestly believe that when the controversies which are raising the present dust and turmoil are overpast, we shall be found—Nonconformist and Churchman alike—under the provisions of this measure, co-operating in the task of working out the far-reaching and beneficent scheme which I firmly believe the whole country will before long determinedly and hopefully take in hand.
§ * LORD REAY
My Lords, I am sure your Lordships generally will have sympathised with the very pathetic appeal conveyed to us from the most rev. Prelate by the right rev. Prelate who has just sat down.
My Lords, what is the problem with which the Government intended to deal in this Bill? In the first place, it was to organise secondary education; in the next place, to prevent overlapping, to co-ordinate; further to improve the financial condition of voluntary schools, and finally to increase the efficiency of schools in rural districts. As regards secondary education, the Bill contains no compulsory Clause imposing on the local education authority the duty to make provision for secondary education. It gives no power to the Board of Education to create that supply. It is merely permissive. There are no guarantees whatever that anything will be done either for the improvement of the higher technological instruction or for higher education on modern lines. The Board of Education acts, as the noble Marquis said tonight, in a merely consultative capacity. 46 Inspection is not provided for, except the voluntary inspection under the Act of 1899; neither the representation of the local education authority on the governing bodies of assisted schools, nor the examination of inspected schools, with a view to leaving certificates, of which we in Scotland receive all the benefit at present; schools conducted for private profit are not excluded; and no audit is provided for schools which receive assistance. It was said tonight that some one on this side had fully approved of these proposals. I suppose the fact is that the Gentleman referred to did not quarrel with them, for the simple reason that there is nothing in them with which you can quarrel; they are absolutely illusory, and secondary education will, after the Bill becomes an Act, be very much in the same position as it is in now.
The problem of overlapping and co-ordination is one which concerns chiefly the big towns. The noble Marquess laid great stress on the fact that School Boards were more bent on extending the range of their operations than on doing their duty to the elementary schools primarily under their control.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
Let me correct the noble Lord. What I said was that they should be more concerned in promoting the quality of the education.
§ LORD REAY
It comes rather to the same thing; it means that in the view of the noble Marquess the quality of the education in elementary schools leaves something to be desired. As regards the quality of the education in the elementary schools it is so far from the case that the London School Board overlooks it that lately a very definite inquiry has been proceeding as to the best means of still further improving the quality.
THE MARQUESS OF LONDON DERRY
I am aware that the School Board drew attention to the fact that there had been a loss in accuracy.
§ * LORD REAY
Its Inspectors had brought to the notice of the School Board that through the change of system of the education there was some risk that 47 accuracy might not be enforced as strictly as it was in former days. I only mention this to show that no neglect can be imputed to us, and I may perhaps point out that the Board Inspectors (and not His Majesty's Inspectors) were the first to bring it to the notice of the School Board. No further proof is needed to show that the School Board is fully alive to its responsibility in the matter.
Now, I should like to say in regard to higher grade schools that these schools to which the accusation would apply that we were going rather beyond the legitimate range of our operations, are not secondary or technical schools, but in the language of the Board of Education "Higher Elementary Schools, "or what in France is called the Ecole primaire supérieure. The Higher Elementary School is the school which represents the final stage of the education given to those who can only receive elementary education, so that as regards the extension of the range of operations there certainly was no sufficient ground for abolishing School Boards.
The noble Marquees alluded to a resolution of the London School Board in favour of the system of this Bill and if its application to London. Since that resolution was passed—yesterday—the School Board by Majority adopted a resolution moved by Dr. Macnamara that for London no departure should be made from the system of ad hoc representation. I trust, therefore, that I have convinced the noble Marquess that, as far as London is concerned, there does not exist any widespread desire to see the principles of this Act applied.
If there has been any encroachment of School Boards on higher and secondary education, the noble Duke in his speech last night was careful to say—and I am sure the noble Marquess will not fail to endorse it—that it had been done with the connivance and even with the encouragement of the Education Department. The School Boards are certainly not the only or even the chief delinquents. I deny that they did anything for which the Education Department does not share the responsibility. The confusion is much exaggerated; but if confusion exists, it is due to the lack of control which should have been exercised with greater vigour by the 48 Education Department. The conditions under which the Parliamentary and other grants are made as contained in the Code and in the Directory enable the central authority to establish the line of demarcation between primary and secondary schools. Important questions, such as the size of the schools, the numbers in a class, the qualifications of the teachers, the sufficiency of school accommodation, the adequacy of the subjects taught, must be settled by the Board of Education, in the last resort, whatever local authority is constituted under it, if the rate of progress in all parts of the country is to be uniform. What I regret in the Bill is that the power of the Board of Education is weakened. Hitherto it could act in default, hence-forth it can only act by mandamus, and we know that mandamus is an extremely weak instrument.
Now, my Lords, the demand for uniformity of control, of which we hear so much, is advanced mainly on the ground of the existing chaos. That chaos, however, is due not be to the absence of a power which represented uniformity of control, but because that power did not choose to exercise it. The responsibility for the systematic organisation of national education rests with the Central Department, and the Central Department can never divest itself of it; and, if it could, it ought not to do so. Whatever may be the constitution of the local education authority, the guidance, the impulse must be given by the central authority, which has at its command the most expert advice, and the information which it gathers through its inspectors from all parts of the country. With regard to inspection, the noble Viscount opposite (Lord Goschen) last night stated that he could not conceive how a dual inspection could take place by what he called local despots and central despots. As the noble Marquess is aware, in London the dual inspection exists; His Majesty's Inspectors, inspect the schools, and in addition there are the Board's Inspectors; and our experience is that the Board Inspectors are stricter in the exercise of their functions than His Majesty's Inspectors. Of course, I do not know what the reports are which reach the heads of the Education Department, 49 but the reports which reach us are not of very much use; and I hope that the noble Marquess will take steps to secure that in future we shall get more detailed information as to the results of the inspection of our schools by His Majesty's Inspectors.
If I insist that in future there should be no weakening of central control, I appeal with confidence to the experience of Scotland. In Scotland, if we have made considerable progress in these later years in the direction of a better organisation of elementary, secondary, technical, and agricultural education, it is chiefly due to the constant guidance and the vigorous initiative of the Central Department. If there has been no overlapping in Scotland, if there has been no squandering of resources, if there has been consolidation of local effort, it has all been due to the impulse given by the central authority. Such guidance has a stimulating effect on local authorities, and does not in any way interfere with any initiative they may wish to take. Where the Department shows its superior insight into the needs of the country, as the Scotch Department has done, no friction arises, but, on the contrary, you will find that the local bodies will be quite ready to meet your wishes. The noble Lord the Secretary for Scotland, I am sure will not deny that he has always found School Boards and County Councils ready to accept any advice which might be given them by him.
My Lords, the obvious course to pursue in England was to strengthen the hands of the central executive. That was the object of the Board of Education Act. Your next step should have been to give effect to the recommendations of the Secondary Education Commission. If that had been done, we should have had a very different Bill as regards secondary education to that which is before the House. After that, you should have created proper areas for elementary education in rural districts, leaving the towns in possession of the School Boards, whose efficiency—the noble Marquess will not deny this—though their ambition may have been in his opinion too great, has never been doubted. Proceeding step by step, you would then have avoided the leap in the dark which you are 50 now taking by imposing duties on bodies who are in several instances and in cases where they are best qualified to undertake these new duties, not prepared to undertake them. You could have prevented overlapping without establishing one authority for elementary and secondary education. Elementary education requires smaller areas than secondary education. Elementary education deals with schools which have great similarity of object. It deals with children who, as a rule, will not frequent day schools after reaching the age of fifteen. Secondary schools, on the other hand, offer a great variety of types, and are intended for scholars who will not leave school until they are eighteen. The methods of teaching in both categories of schools are different; the qualifications of the teachers are different. The authorities for secondary and for elementary education could easily have been linked, and, where differences arose, the Board of Education could very easily have settled them. Is the county the proper unit for administration of all education? It seems very doubtful, when one of the most efficient County Councils, that of the West Riding of Yorkshire, declares it is incapable of coping with the task of supervising all elementary schools. An area of a suitable size, such as the noble Earl behind me mentioned, the area of the Rural District Council, might have suited the purpose. No doubt, if you make the county (I am not speaking now of secondary education but only of elementary education) the unit for elementary education, the local interest in education must naturally be very much weakened because the locality will no longer be directly, but will only be indirectly, connected with the school which serves its area. If the authority is so remote, what connection remains? I need not go into all the details; my noble friend, Lord Tweedmouth, has done that; but I must point out that under those circumstances administration will almost inevitably become mechanical. The County Council will act through its officials, and the work cannot be done by the members of the County Council itself. You will undoubtedly have delegation (the noble Earl, Lord Northbrook, has admitted that) in 51 all instances of large areas and large County Councils. Now this is not what is understood by municipalisation. What you mean by municipalisation is that the members of a municipality, just as is now done by the members of a School Board, will themselves undertake the duties for which they are elected so that the ratepayers may hold them responsible. They will do it through committees; but those committees may not be composed of members of the authority which is represented. We shall lose, therefore, not only what has been called the ad hoc representation, but all representative control, and that is a serious inroad on the popular control of education. As regards the results of a county rate, I need only say that I agree with what fell from my noble friend Lord Camperdown last night.
The Cockerton decisions are the other reason which is given for the abolition of School Boards—I am careful not to say board schools. The Cockerton decisions are certainly not a sufficient reason for altering our whole educational system. Nothing would have been easier after the Cockerton decisions than to arrange for the work in dispute to be continued either in the elementary branch or in the secondary branch, either by the School Boards or by the County Councils. There was no need to create one authority; to disestablish, as the noble Duke said last night, either the County Council in connection with secondary education or the School Board in connection with primary education. All you need have done was to let them alone, and to establish some connecting link between the two. In London and in Manchester and in several other towns there is a concordat between the County Council and the School Board, and by that concordat all possibility of overlapping, all possibility of collision between the two is absolutely excluded. You could have enforced or prescribed this concordat and left the situation as it is. Now, in this Bill there is a most remarkable instance of defining elementary education, and that is the definition of elementary education in evening schools. It is laid down that education in evening schools will only be considered elementary when reading, writing, and arithmetic are taught there. That is going back to the 52 old Code; that is putting the clock back more than thirty years. In an elementary evening school we shall be unable to teach what your Code allows to be taught in the elementary day schools. After this Bill becomes an Act, you are going back altogether; in fact it is a deduction that may be fairly drawn, that in the elementary day schools also you will limit elementary education to reading, writing, and arithmetic, and thereby give satisfaction to some of the supporters of the Government. It is obvious that in an evening school you want not to teach what has already, ex hypothesi, been taught in the day school, but you want to give additional education; and if in elementary evening schools you are going back to reading, writing, and arithmetic, that will show that the day schools have been absolutely inefficient. I hope the noble Marquess will consult my noble friend the Secretary for Scotland, and have some conversation with him about the Code for continuation classes in Scotland, than which there is no more remarkable or better Code.
Now, with regard to voluntary schools. Why was the simple procedure not followed of making an addition to the Voluntary Schools Act of 1897? That would have made the whole cumbrous machinery of this Bill unnecessary. It would not have involved any alterations in the constitution of voluntary schools. You might have made the conditions under which the Parliamentary grant was given to voluntary schools morn stringent, taking care that voluntary schools should use it for improvement and increased efficiency, and you might have followed that same course if you wanted to restrain what I think has been unjustly called the extravagance of School Boards. Now we have this very important departure from the Act of 1870—because for voluntary schools the departure is a very serious one. In the Act of 1870 you have the recognition of a clear line between denominational schools and undenominational schools. What is a denominational school? A denominational school is a school over which the denomination to which it belongs has full control. The managers belong to the denomination, the teachers belong to the denomination, and the teaching is denominational throughout. Nothing can be taught in that school at any time which is contrary to the tenets of the denomination.
53 That is what I understand by denominational schools. The assumption is that parents will send their children to a denominational school who wish for guarantees that the schools will strengthen the ties which unite them to the denomination. All this is recognised by the Act of 1870. The Act of 1870 did not interfere with their management; it only required certain conditions of efficiency, which did not impair the character, the atmosphere of the school. It did not differentiate between the control of religious and of secular instruction. This Bill, on the other hand, interferes with the denominataional schools, and subjects them, as regards secular instruction, to local control. The majority of the managers are to belong to the denomination, the head teacher likewise, but the local authority may prescribe the books which are to be used, and its inspectors may inspect the schools. The local authority in prescribing the books may or may not respect the character of the school. It may prescribe books which the denomination may legitimately object to, and in such a case it is obvious that the head teacher who belongs to the denomination will use the books for purposes of criticism. You can very well use a book in a school not to teach its contents, but to teach the children exactly the reverse of what that book contains, and you cannot always have an inspector present to control what is going on. The head teacher cannot conscientiously teach from a book which will be sent to him by the County Council if he knows that in that book there are facts with which he disagrees, with which the parents of the children disagree, and the majority of the managers of the school. In such a case the control of the local authority must be absolutely nugatory.
I now come to Roman Catholic Schools. Suppose the County Council prescribes for a Roman Catholic school a book which is contrary to the convictions of those who frequent the school—take a book in which the history of the Reformation is given in such a way that Catholic children cannot be taught from it. Clearly in such a case you cannot insist on the use of such a book; you must have regard to the opinion of the majority of the managers who understand the 54 nature of the secular instruction which is suitable. The difficulty is much greater as regards secular instruction than it is as regards religious instruction. From religious instruction you can withdraw the children; from secular instruction you cannot. The minority managers, if they do not belong to the denomination, have not the qualifications required of managers of such a school. If I were appointed by a County Council as a minority manager of a Roman Catholic school, I should distinctly decline to act in such a capacity, because I should consider myself to have nene of the qualifications required in the management of a Roman Catholic school. You cannot alter the character of a denominational school. I defy you to undenominationalise the secular part of a denominational school Of a denominational school I say, sit ut est aut non sit. In giving a hybrid character to such a school you attempt an impossibility; and I for one should not be prepared to explain the contents of this Bill as regards the management of these schools to any meeting of educational experts on the Continent of Europe; I know I should be met with derision.
I say again, the Act of 1870 was infinitely more favourable to the independence and autonomy of denominational schools than will be your Bill when it becomes an Act. It is true that the Act of 1870 recognised all vacancies in a denominational school. That I admit. The practice of the Department has always been correct; the practice of the Department has always been that vacancies in a Roman Catholic School were not taken into account for other denominations. One of the best feartures of this Bill—I am sorry to say it is the only one feature, the one important improvement, with which I do agree—is that those vacant places will now legally no longer be taken into account. You confirm the practice of the Department. But otherwise, to call this Bill, as the noble Duke did last night, the offspring of the Act of 1870, is an absolute contradiction if it is the offspring, it has none of the features of the parent.
The noble Viscount opposite (Lord Goschen) alluded last night to pictures on the walls of schools, and complained that the Department had interfered with the pictures. Now the pictures on the walls 55 of some denominational schools are essential. A greater impression is created on the minds of the children by the pictures than by any teaching of the catechism. Again I ask, will you give the local education authority the power in a denominational school to order that the pictures shall be removed in such a school although the pictures are those which are absolutely necessary to give what the noble Viscount called the tone of the school? The school by this cumbrous machinery does not become more suitable for the children for whom it was not intended. All you do is to create a petty annoyance for managers of the voluntary schools which fails to achieve its object. I say, if that is the natural outcome of giving rate aid, then rate aid ought never to have been proposed. My belief is that rate aid contains in it the germ of the destruction of denominational schools, which I for one do not want to see destroyed. Where the ratepayers will discover, and they must sooner or later discover, that the amount of control which they can exercise over the denominational schools is absolutely illusory, obviously they will claim more, and then you must either put the denominational schools back under the conditions of the Act of 1870, or you must take a step forward and absolutely undenominationalise the denominational schools.
The noble Viscount said last night that the denominational schools pay a heavy price for rate aid. Yes, they do. The price is too heavy if they retain their denominational character, and it is a great deal too slight if they are henceforth to be considered as national schools—schools which are suitable for all children. I have nothing but cordial feelings towards denominational schools. 1 do not wish the London voluntary schools to be disturbed or transformed. Leave them as they are. Give them a larger grant if you wish to do so. These schools have their own province, and as long as they do not encroach on the province of undenominational schools, I recognise them as a valuable and an integral part of the educational system of the Metropolis. I hope that the noble Duke will at all events not say that I have shirked the challenge which he threw out yesterday as to our views regarding voluntary schools. 56 In the big towns hitherto there has been no religious difficulty. Denominational schools in the big towns fulfilled their purpose. Henceforth, when this new machinery comes into operation, I am not at all sure that difficulties will not arise. When I say that in the big towns hitherto there has been no religious difficulty, I speak from experience. In London it does not exist. Parents who send their children to board schools are satisfied with the religious teaching. The cases of withdrawal of children are almost nil, and where such withdrawals have occurred, they did not occur on the ground that the religious instruction in the school was not dogmatic enough, and was too vague; the complaint was that it was too dogmatic. Quite lately a clergyman of the Church of England told me that he considered that too much notice was taken of a certain dogma. Perhaps it will be said that the parents are indifferent, and that therefore there are no difficulties, but there are an immense number of children belonging to the Church of England in the board schools. Would those children be sent there if there was any fear that they would be detached from the Church of England? No; they are sent there because it is well known that by frequenting the board schools they will not be worse, but they will be better, members of the Church of England. I was very glad to hear the right rev. Prelate who preceded me speak of the religious teaching in board schools, and especially in the London board schools, and say that it was very good; but I cannot overlook the fact that last night the noble Duke spoke of that instruction as colourless and hardly different from secular. And the system has been called, I believe, a "rotten"system. Now I wish to say a word about this rotten system. I am not going to indulge in generalities. The House must forgive me if I enter for a moment into detail. I hold here in my hand the syllabus of the religious teaching in a board school. This syllabus has not been specially selected; I asked that a syllabus should be given me taken at random. This is the kind of teaching I find there: "The second coming of our Lord"("The Transfiguration" as a "Manifestation of Trinity);""Rules for guidance of Christian life; judgment on others; the importance of prayer; the narrow entrance to the Kingdom; false guides, the test of true guides; the wise and foolish builders; 57 true subjects and false." My Lords, is this or is it not dogmatic? Is that definite Christian teaching or indefinite?
§ * THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Lord BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH)
What security is taken that the gentleman—
§ * LORD REAY
I fully expected that question to be put to me, and I am going to answer at the same time the right rev. Prelate who preceded me. The first security you have is the training the teacher received. The next security is that the teacher him or her self draws up such a syllabus, and therefore, unless you impute to the teacher hypocrisy, you must take it for granted that they believe these solemn truths. In addition there is this safeguard, that a teacher who does not believe these truths is exempted from teaching them, and that he or she would decline to teach them. There can be no doubt that the great majority of our teachers do teach on these Christian lines. If my noble friend opposite, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, asks me to what Church the teacher belongs, I cannot give the answer.
§ * LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I beg the noble Lord's pardon. He interrupted me before I had finished my question. My question is a much simpler one. What security is taken that the lady or gentleman who gives this instruction on such sacred subjects is really qualified to do it?
§ * LORD REAY
Of course according to the Code His Majesty's inspectors do not deal with this instruction. Our own inspectors do. Of those eight inspectors, I think I am justified in saying that seven belong to the Church of England. I have consulted them and asked them this very question that the noble Lord asks:—"Is this teaching real, and is there any guarantee that the teachers who give it do so really believing it." And my information is to the effect that we have every guarantee that could be required.
§ * LORD REAY
The guarantee is, as I say, the Christian convictions of the 58 teachers and the inspection. Our inspectors see that the teaching is given in such a way as to convey to the children that the teacher is in earnest. Now these truths, I admit, are not taught as truths having a denominational character or as emanating from any particular denomination. They have another sanction. They are taught as Divine truths, as having a sanction superior to that which can be derived from any denomination. They are the common inheritance of all Christian Churches. I ask, Does that weaken their authority? Will the faith of a child belonging to the Church of England be shaken because these truths are imparted to it simultaneously with Baptist, with Congregationalist, and with Wesleyan children? Will not the fact that these truths are the common inheriance of various denominations rather strengthen the effect which they produce on the mind of the child? And, my Lords, is not this common Christianity a pearl of great price; is it not one of the causes of our national greatness? That is, at all events, what the parents think; that is what the teachers believe who belong to the Church of England, and who give this instruction. Therefore, you can easily conceive what the feelings of those teachers are, who teach these truths with absolute devoutness, when they are told that the system is a "rotten" system. Ask the clergy of London whether the religious knowledge of the children who go to these schools, when they prepare them for confirmation, is not excellent The religious teaching in the board schools of London is uniformly good. The inspectors state that there is hardly any subject which is so well taught as the subject of religion. And what is the effect—what atmosphere is created in the school? Not the secular atmosphere, but a distinctly Christian atmosphere. The other day I was at a public meeting and I spoke of the "moral and intellectual instruction" given in board schools. I was corrected. I was told that I ought to have used the words "moral, intellectual, and religious." And who was it who corrected me? A clergyman of the Church of England. I was very glad of the reproof. And let me add that I consider 59 it a great privilege to have been associated these last years with a large number of clergymen of the Church of England, as well as with clergymen of other Churches, in providing for the children of London this teaching of which I have given you a specimen from this syllabus, and that never has there been any difference of opinion among these clergymen of various Church about the nature of the teaching or the method in which it should be given in the schools. But there is other evidence that I can give you. Occasionally a Church of England school is transferred to the Board, and then the teachers are also transferred. Now, ask the teachers who are transferred from a voluntary school, from a Church of England school, whether the religious teaching given in the Board Schools is of such a nature that they feel in any way hampered or feel that there is really such a distinction as is material to the religious instruction that is to be given to the children. We have never had the smallest difficulty. Then, can the managers of the voluntary schools who allow them to be transferred be charged with a dereliction of duty, as they would be if this was a rotten system?
I say therefore that there is no religious difficulty in the towns, and quieta non movere ought to have been your policy. There is a difficulty in the one-school districts, although that difficulty is not insuperable with the exercise of Christian charity. Is there anything to show that parents in one-school districts are animated by different feelings than those of the majority of parents in towns? The whole point is, what are the feelings and wishes of the parents. In how many parishes of England would the parents object if the Catechism which is now taught for one or two days in the week—because it is not taught in the schools every day—were taught independently on another day? And I ask again, How many parents in rural parishes in England would object to religious instruction being given by a Nonconformist teacher? Nonconformist parents do not object to Church of England teachers; why should Church of England parents object to religious instruction being given by Nonconformists? Are the parents in the rural districts more denominational than those in towns? Do you think that Chris- 60 tianity would suffer in rural schools by the admission of teachers, who (and that is our experience in our London schools) materially contribute to the development of a religious atmosphere in our schools? Their virtual exclusion in the one-school districts, even in districts where Nonconformist parents are in a majority, is an anachronism and a cause of widespread resentment. It is not a financial question; it is not a question of the rights of property; full value should be given for the use of the building, but in a one school district the school should be such as to meet the wishes (I mean the ascertained wishes) of the parents residing there. In nine cases out of ten in a one-school district, you would have no difficulty; but what we contend is that the wishes of the parents in these districts should not be over-ruled by any trust deed or by any private owner of the school. The parents must have a sense of absolute security that in sending their children to such a school they will not be brought under influences which are opposed to their own conviction. Where the State compels parents to send their children to school, the State is responsible for the atmosphere of the school, not the owner of the building or the founder of the trust.
Would the clergy in accepting popular control be eliminated from the management of schools? I think not. I think that in most cases the parish rector or the vicar would be at once elected on the representative body. What has been our experience in Scotland? In 1872 we established popular control of schools in Scotland. The clergy of Scotland wisely accepted popular control, and what is the result? On those School Boards, you will find the minister as the elected representative of the people. The influence of the clergy is not weakened by election, but the very fact that they are there as popularly-elected representatives increases their influence; their influence is on a much sounder foundation than before; and it is only in those cases where a clergyman has made himself absolutely unpopular that he probably would not be elected.
What the nation wants is a school rooted in the national soil, representative of its national religious life; tolerant, 61 but not indifferent; open to all; equally serviceable to all denominations, hostile to none; having the confidence of the parents, because he representatives of the parents have full control. For parents who desire it, denominational schools can be provided wherever the circumstances will admit of such schools being efficient. My Lords, we have been hitherto free from the lamentable antagonism which afflicts foreign countries where the nation is divided into two camps—a clerical and an anti-clerical camp. The magnitude of this antagonism, the peril which it causes to the religious life of a nation, the dissensions which it promotes, are only too well known to those who have lived in such an atmosphere. It has been one of the greatest blessings of this country that we have remained free from that antagonism. I wish I could believe that under this Bill that antagonism will not arise. It is mainly because I fear that we may see it arise that I shall have to give a conscientious vote against this measure.
The LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
My Lords, I feel considerable reluctance in rising to speak tonight, in the first place, lest I should in any way interfere with the most able speech by the right rev. Prelate who has well represented the Bishops on many points with regard to this Bill, and also because I cannot Profess to treat with the same entirely full-voiced approval every point which is before us in the Bill. But I wish to say a few words now with regard to the very fair speech that we have heard from the noble Lord who has just spoken, and also with regard to the speech that was made by one who is as much respected on our Bench as any man in England, and that is the noble Lord who leads the Opposition in this House. I rather address my remarks to the speech which was made by the noble Earl who leads the Opposition, because I distinctly understood when I heard him speak that he wished for a system of universal School Boards. Now, I understand that the Noble Lord who has just spoken does not wish for that at all. But it is with regard to the position of the Church in regard to School Boards that I want to say a very few words tonight.
62 In the first place, I want to speak with all my heart of the excellence of the men and women who are teachers in our board schools. I lived for nine years in the middle of the slums myself, and I have found them our kindest possible helpers and friends on every occasion, and we ourselves think it a privilege to serve as managers of the schools, Secondly, we find that many of them are not only capable but are very anxious and would be quite ready to give the full instruction which they would love to do as members of our Church, Thirdly, in speaking of School Board instruction we must remember that it is being given side by side with the denominational schools existing in London at the same time, and I think we hardly recognise that we owe to the toning up of the religious instruction in the board schools the existence, side by side, of the denominational schools. Fourthly, the teachers of whom we are speaking have been largely trained in Church training colleges. Yet when you get all those four points before you, can it be said that the system of board school religion is a satisfactory system? My Lords, it is impossible for me to say that. There are three flaws in that system as I have seen it working which I wish to put before your Lordships. In the first place, the tie that is placed upon the teacher in interpreting the Holy Scriptures is something which hampers him at every turn. It is one thing to have a syllabus of instruction—it is another thing to be able to teach what is in the syllabus. I ask your Lordships, if you had to teach the Gospel of St. John and had to teach it—I use the words of the Leader of the Opposition—without dogma at all, I ask you to picture to yourselves what your task would be. Why the whole centre and core of the Gospel of St. john is that our Lord Jesus Christ is Divine as well as human. If that is not a dogma, what is? We find time after time that better instruction is given than the system would warrant, but you have to take the system as a system, and the first point about that system, which I venture to say is a rotten system—I am not afraid of the word—is that it hampers the man or woman who is teaching the Holy Scriptures from giving the full instruction which that teaching really implies. Or, take the 63 book of the Acts of the Apostles. Some of your Lordships may have tried to teach it. If you have, you know how impossible it is to teach the book of the Acts of the Apostles without entering on great controversial issues and without touching upon baptism or confirmation or other subjects which are absolutely woven up into the very texture of the book of the Acts of the Apostles. Then, secondly, I will put this before your Lordships. The London School Board is the very best instance that could possibly be taken by friends of the School Board system. There are School Boards throughout England who rule out any religious instruction at all. What security have we that there will be any religious instruction at all for our children under this vaunted system? As a matter of fact, we know that there are School Boards that have no religious instruction whatever. Thirdly, the position of managers is most ridiculous. I have been manager of three large board schools for years. A man comes before you who is going to be entrusted with the religious instruction of our children; you are not allowed to ask him a single word about his qualifications for that position. The right rev. prelate who spoke last from our Bench put before us how absurd it was to appoint a man to draw, when you could not find out whether or not he could draw; but it goes to my heart just as much, as a teacher of religion, to have someone coming before me to teach the children religion when I may not ask him a single question as to his fitness for the work. I ask, is that system one which I am not justified in calling a rotten system of religious instruction? I admit that as it has been worked out, the system has worked better than we could have expected, but it is a system which we, as the Church, cannot admit to be a right system at all.
Let me turn from the system itself to the results. During those nine years which I spent night by night in the district of Bethnal Green, I had passing through my hands, I suppose, during that period, literally thousands of lads of the ages between 14 and 15 coming straight from this much vaunted system where the religious instruction is said to be so excellent, and I suppose so permanent in its results. Without the slightest idea of any controversial purpose, but merely as a matter of curiosity, we used to put a 64 mark against every boy's name at the age of 14 or 15 as he came into one of our institutions (holding 500 boys) as to whether he went to any place of religious worship at all. If he went to a chapel or any little mission room, down would go a mark against his name that he went somewhere. Out of these thousands of boys, what do you suppose the proportion was when the list was added up? There were more than eighty out of a hundred with "G.N." against their names, which meant "goes nowhere." Now, after all is said and done, the test of any system is the permanent results. Take, again, a number of men of the age of 30 or 40, and I find that only one in 80 went anywhere at all. And this was a sample population for our poorer districts! Why do I attribute these results to the system: For this reason: We ourselves, by being taught at our public schools, are attached to some sort of organisation all your Lordships have an innate affection for the school from which you came; but the board school system leaves a boy and girl attached to nothing. Why, when I took on one of the poorest parishes, I found in the parish among the band who stood around me through thick and thin, there was a body of men and women who had been brought up in the school of the Church, and the school of the Church had left them attached to the church. Therefore my argument is this: that this Board School system of which we have heard so much praise to night, when you test it by its results, does not leave the boy or girl attached to any church or chapel. I have constantly said to myself that I would have done anything to have found some 40 or 50 of those boys who came into the club attached to some chapel, if they could not be attached to some church—if they had found their spiritual home somewhere. That, my Lords, is the result as I tested it by personal experience in my own district. Therefore I wish to express my gratitude to the Government for having, by their scheme, safeguarded the denominational system as part of the religious system of this country.
The moment that this Bill came before us I invited eleven Nonconformist leaders to come down and meet me in conference at Fulham; and I should like to bear witness here to the great fairness, and, I thought, the almost touching willingness with which they came at once to meet 65 me in conference upon this subject. We had some six hours together; therefore it must not be supposed that we had not most closely inquired into the grievances which Nonconformists may feel. Dr. Hugh Price Hughes, who has so lately passed away, was one of the most conciliatory. Then we had Dr. Clifford there himself, and I can hardly express in how kindly and conciliatory a way he stated the case on his side. Therefore when I say that we believe that we are not unfair to Nonconformists in supporting this Bill, it is not because we have not in a most careful way gone into what the Nonconformist grievances are. What are their grievances? I take, for instance, this grievance—that the Church is trying to proselytise the children of Nonconformists. That was not asserted by the noble Lord who has just sat down, but it is often asserted in the country. To what do I point to show that that is not true? In Convocation we made this offer, which has never been withdrawn, that we would give full access to the Nonconformists to teach their children in the Church of England schools if we had similar leave given us to teach our children in board schools. Now, could a 'body that wanted to proselytise the children in an unfair way make such an offer as that? The offer was not accepted by the Government, but at any rate I think it shows that we wanted to be fair. Therefore I think that the first accusation that we want to proselytise the children of Nonconformists is shown not to be well founded by that proposition which we have made in the most public way. Then, secondly, comes the accusation that the Nonconformists' money is to be taken to pay for our denominational teaching. I would ask your Lordships to listen to an argument which I tried to put before the great meeting at the Albert Hall, but which was in some extraordinary way entirely misunderstood by Mr. Bryce in the other House. That argument was, that we place at the disposal of the country buildings the rental of which was equal to £750,000 a year; if you take the amount of your teaching as equivalent to one-eighth of the school time, that would amount to no more than £175,000 a year. On this the accusation was founded that I had priced the cost of repairs at £175,000 a year. Your Lordships will understand that that is a totally different assertion. My point 66 was this, and I put it to the leaders of the Nonconformists themselves, that the Church of England was going to give this large contribution towards education, that the contribution which it should pay for its own distinctive teaching could not come within one-fifth of the total cost which we ourselves paid, and therefore that they were under a total mistake if they imagined that their money out of the rates was to be taken for our teaching. So again we have asserted that in single-school areas the greatest possible fairness ought to be shown to the Nonconformist children. In any scheme I had control of, I myself should be perfectly ready that Nonconformist children should be brought up in any way that the parents wished, and taught the tenets that their parents held. We ourselves in single-school areas would naturally look for the same leave to be given where the only school was a board school. In spite of the whole of England being ransacked to find a grievance, I think your Lordships will agree that the case of any grievance of Nonconformist children has entirely broken down.
For these reasons I am compelled by my sense of what is right to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill. But I cannot sit down and leave your Lordships under the impression that everything in this Bill satisfies me, or many of those who sit on my Bench. It is only honest to say what is in one's mind in a question like this. There is not the slightest doubt that the Kenyon-Slaney Clause has stirred up a deeply felt spirit of indignation and alarm among the clergymen of the Church of England. I want your Lordships to know what those clergymen have done. I went to a school the other day in a very poor district. The clergyman there had been for very nearly ten of fifteen years trying to get a new wing built to the school, by collecting cards and boxes, and so on. At this little evening function at which I was present the clergyman made the announcment that they had at last got the new wing for which they had been begging for the last fifteen years. Can you wonder at a man like that, living on bread and cheese as it were, sending his children out as governesses in order to provide for that wing, feeling a grievance when he imagines that he will have to go hat in hand before the 67 managers before he can enter that school which he has built by the sweat of his brow?
What, then, I do hope the noble Lord and the Government will see their way to do is to accept a slight change which will be brought forward at a later period to deal with this point which shall safeguard this—that it shall be the normal thing for the clergyman to go in and teach in his school. If for any reason the management find that the influence is bad, or the teaching is unsatisfactory, they should have a perfect right to appeal to the bishops as the trust deed lays down, and on appeal to the bishops they should have the power, but not till then, of excluding him from his school. It seems to me that as the Bill stands at present there is reason to a certain extent for this widespread alarm, and even indignation, through the Church of England clergy in the country. I shall move an Amendment in Committee dealing with this point, but I did not like to speak upon the Second Reading without making my position clear with regard to it.
The other point is the question of repairs. I have the figures before me from five schools in the country which demonstrate this, that those who manage those five particular schools will have, under the Bill, to find £70 a year more than the amount that they have received from all the subscriptions during the last five years. In these circumstances I would ask the Government this question: Where is the relief to this intolerable strain coming in? Personally in the counsels of the Church I have fought this matter of repairs, simply because the slum schools which I know so well will, I fear, some of them have to close their doors. That was on the question of what were called the landlords' repairs and extensions. Now I understand that tenants' repairs are also to be placed on the schools. What a terrible comment it will be if after this Bill, which has involved such an infinite amount of pains and labour, becomes law, numbers of poor schools in the slums will have to close their doors because they cannot pay their expenses. I hope the word "structural" will be put in before the word "repairs," and that this very great defect in the Bill will be remedied before it leaves this House. I 68 am confident that the brave and determined attempt of the Government to carry out what they believe to be a true and lasting reform ought to be possible by this means, and I shall have the greatest pleasure in voting for the Second Reading of the Bill, on the understanding, and with the hope, that on these two points it will be amended before it leaves your Lordships' House.
§ * LORD BURGHCLERE
My Lords, the right reverend Prelate's speech, to which, I need not say, I listened with the greatest interest and attention, divided itself into two heads. On one it dealt with the Kenyon-Slaney Amendment, which, I humbly think, I had better leave to the noble Duke in charge of the Bill to settle with the right reverend Prelate, as it is rather a domestic quarrel than one in which the Opposition has any part. Secondly, the right reverend Prelate dealt with the subject of religious education. I feel some diffidence in following him into that domain. I myself was brought up at one of the great public schools, and my recollection of the religious instruction there leads me to think that we did not receive, at any rate in my days at Harrow, much more religious instruction than is now taught in the Board Schools in this country. But, I take it that the grievance that the right reverend Prelate and others have when they denounce the undenominational religious teaching in the board schools is that they are afraid—and it is a fear which, I am sure, we will notice with respect—that the children of this country may drift into irreligion. Well, my Lords, I would humbly ask the right reverend Prelates whether they think that the age in which we live is less religious than in days gone by. If my knowledge of history is right, I venture to think that the great writers and the great thinkers of the end of the eighteenth and the commencement of the nineteenth century would have held up their hands with astonishment if they heard the people of this country, as they are now, quarelling about the dogmas and tenets of religion. Speaking myself as a Broad Churchman, a section of the Church which is not so popular now as it used to be some years ago, if I ventured to give my opinion upon religious instruction in our public schools it would be this, that I should.
69 hope that all sections would endeavour to unite and not divide those tenets which are common to all the Christian sects; and, it would be better in my humble opinion, to leave those higher mysteries, which some of us feel a difficulty about even in our older age, to be taught when the intellect of the child is more mature and more able to understand them.
My noble friend, Earl Spencer, alluded last night to the difficulties which this House has to encounter when it has to discuss a measure which, like this, has received so much attention in the other House of Parliament, and on the platform, and in the Press, and if my noble friend felt a difficulty about that last night, surely I must feel much more difficulty tonight, when your Lordships have had inflicted upon you the intolerable strain of an unusual prolongation of our debates. But I hope your Lordships will kindly give me your indulgence (as I do not often venture to interfere in the debates of this House) while I will explain why I find it necessary to take the course I shall take when we proceed to vote upon this Bill.
My first complaint against the Government (perhaps it is presumptuous of me to put it forward) is that they have lost a golden opportunity of settling this question, and I say that for this reason. From all the speeches that have been made, and from everything that has been said on this question, no one can doubt that the necessity for additional educational advantages is generally admitted, and surely there never was a better occasion for dealing with that subject than now, because never before in our history, perhaps, have the people of our country looked more to the future destiny of the empire, as well as to the more immediate and the more selfish present; and never before, perhaps, have they taken a larger interest in the wider destinies of our country. I think it will be admitted that no Government has ever before had so great a power to bring about a beneficent Act for this country. The Government has an unprecedented majority in the other House, and it always has the ample and abiding confidence of your Lordships in this House. And, my Lords, the necessity 70 being admitted, the opportunity being there, and the fullest power being in the hands of the Government to carry out this measure, I venture to think that the country had a right to expect from the Government on this occasion a truly national measure of education, a wide-minded and fair-minded and far-seeing scheme which would have aroused, as far as possible, in the public, general support, and which would have minimised and not emphasised, those sectional differences which unhappily divide our common religion.
My Lords, we must not, of course, venture to ask for the impossible. I know well enough that there are cranks in the Nonconformist chapels, and there are cranks in the Established Church, whom it would be quite impossible for a heavenborn Government to hope to conciliate or appease. But I think we had a right to hope that the settlement of a great question like this would have been such as could be accepted by an over whelming majority of the people whom it so deeply affects. The scheme should surely, as far as possible (I recognise the difficulty in making it so) have been a national scheme and not a Party scheme. My complaint against the Bill, and my complaint against the Government, is that this is essentially a Party measure and a Party measure alone. I do not for a single moment impute anything but the best intentions to the Government. I am quite sure that the Government would have preferred that it should have been a national scheme, and they probably believe in their hearts that it is a national scheme, and that it is for the benefit of the whole country at large. But the mere formulation of the details of this Bill has aroused a Party spirit in this country which we have not seen since the Home Rule Bills of Mr.Gladstone in 1886 and 1892, and that fact surely proves in itself that this is a Party scheme and not a national one. It is impossible to deny that it is a Party scheme, and any scheme which is to be administered in the villages and hamlets of the country by all sorts and conditions of men of every kind of political complexion, if it is to have a chance of success, if it is to have any hope of permanency, should be tinged as lightly as possible with Party spirit, and should rest as much as possible on a national and not a Party basis.
71 I venture to think that national education should —and here I speak entirely for myself—be provided by the State, and by the State alone, and that no private interests, no private persons, should stand as stumbling blocks between the State and the all-important task which it has to carry out. National education now-a-days seems to me a matter of national defence—almost as much a matter of national defence as our Army and our Navy. Education is the national weapon with which we have to arm our people to fight the contests of the future—peaceful contests perhaps, but as far-reaching upon the power and prosperity of this country as some of the battles which our soldiers and sailors fought for us in the past. It is the duty of the State to over-ride if necessary— but of course on just and equitable terms—all those interests which stand between the State and its great task of national education. Your Lordships will remember that before the Act of 1870 there were various schemes of education brought forward, and they all fell to the ground; and they fell to the ground for the same reason—because of the private interests which stood between the State and the schemes it had to carry out. Surely it is a significant fact that the one great success of Mr. Forster's Bill of 1870, which after all was a compromise, is the large School Boards, the bodies which fulfil, as far as they are able under the Bill, the proposition for which I am contending, namely, direct control over educational matters, without complication of conflicting interests.
Now, I would ask whether the Bill in any way fulfils what is the bed-rock of any good scheme of national education—whether this Bill does contain the primary feature of what I consider best for education. If it does so I certainly am willing to vote for it; if it does not, then I shall certainly vote against it. I think your Lordships will admit that it does not do so, and I think that is a proposition that cannot be denied, because on the one hand it perpetuates and extends the dual system of education which has so seriously retarded our progress in the past, and on the other hand it subsidises by public money the private and sectarian interests of a section of the community; and it does this, moreover, without giving the ratepayers who have 72 supplied that subsidy any control over the application of the money.
I would venture to grapple a little more with the details of the Bill than I have done hitherto, and in doing so I fear I must be somewhat wearisome, but it is absolutely necessary to disentangle from the innocent pages of this Bill the real meaning which it contains, and it will be necessary for me in doing that to go somewhat into detail.
We have heard a great deal about the unity of administration. I quite agree, as everybody who knows anything about, or who takes any interest in, education, must agree, that the unity of education authorities is the real key to any successful scheme, and that without this unity there will not be brought about that very desirable result to which we all look, namely, a ladder from the elementary school up to higher education, and so assisting bright boys and girls to make themselves useful totheir country atlarge. A quotation has already been made this evening from a distinguished Member of the other House, whose speeches, though I do not always agree with them, I always hear and read with much admiration, I mean Lord Hugh Cecil. He said that his ideal of an elementary school was one with one door opening from the street and another door opening from the school into the church. Far be it from me to say that I do not want a door which shall open from the elementary school into the church, so long as that church is the church in which the scholar and his parents believe, but if I wished to put before your Lordships the ideal institute with which the State has to deal, I would venture to say this, that the church should have a door opening from the street, and another door inside leading into the higher education school. That seems to me to be the ideal of an elementary school.
Well, my Lords, unity of administration is, I venture to say, the key to any proper scheme of education, and unity of administration divides itself, I think I may say into two heads—the co-ordination of authorities, and the simplification of finance. Now, we have heard a good deal about the co-ordination of authorities. It is one of the things of which the framers of this Bill especially boast. I must ask your Lordships to follow me and see 73 how many authorities exist at the present moment who had to be co-ordinated, and how many authorities will be created under the present Bill. The authorities under the present system (I shall be corrected by my noble friend if I am wrong) are first of all the Board of Education; secondly, the County Councils acting through the Technical Instruction Committees which have to report to the Councils; thirdly, the School Boards; fourthly, the school attendance committees which are appointed by the Poor Law Guardians in non-School Board Districts; fifthly, the managers of voluntary schools; and sixthly, the voluntary schools associations which as your Lordships know were created by the Voluntary Schools Act of 1897. There are six authorities at the present moment. As we hear so much about the results of co-ordination in this Bill, I conclude that its framers imagine that the present authorities do not sufficiently co-ordinate education. Now, how many authorities are there under the present Bill? First of all there is the Board of Education, with very much increased powers; then the County or Borough Councils; then the Borough or Urban Councils (for secondary purposes under Clause 3), then there are the education committees under Clause 18—(and I may say in passing that those education committees have the power to appoint sub-committees again from outside their own body, so that if I were pressing the matter home I might claim these as another authority under the present Bill); fifthly, we have the "non-provided"school managers, with power to appoint the teachers, and to control relogious education; sixthly, we have the "provided"school managers, that is as your Lordships know, the old School Boards (and it is interesting to remark in passing that these provided school managers are the only authority, as far as I can make out, created by this Bill, that has not independent power, but has only powers delegated to it by the County Council); seventhly, we have the Voluntary Schools Associations (I have no doubt the noble Marquess well knows that Voluntary School Associations are not to be abolished, although, of course, the reason for which they created— 74 that is to allocate the 5s. aid grant—is abolished. As far as I can see, the only reason they are maintained is that they may be represented, as we were told in the other House they will be represented, on the education committee, and so to import some remnant of the old voluntary system into those bodies which we have been told on high authority are to give the entire popular control over secular education). And, eighthly, we have yet another authority, that is, the managers of secondary schools. Although there is no provision as to the appointment of managers of secondary schools in the Bill, yet, I suppose, as you give the County Councils power to set up secondary schools, these must of necessity have managers. So that it comes to this, that we have six authorities in all under the present system, and in order to simplify and co-ordinate and reduce this multiplicity of authorities you have created eight new authorities by the Bill. It does seem to me rather extraordinary that if you cannot get six authorities to co-ordinate you should think it possible that eight can do so in the future.
I pass from the co-ordination of authorities—which, as I have said, is one vital part of unity of administration— to the other, which is a very important one, and to which I would ask attention (though I am bound to say it is a very dull subject,) and that is, the simplification of the finances and the sources from which these new authorities that you have created are to derive the money by which the schools are to be kept up. Let me say at once that that is a very important question, because if you are going to have one account for one thing and another account for another, with a management for each, I really do not see where your co-ordination is going to come in. I will give a concrete case which illustrates what I mean. No doubt if I am wrong, I shall be corrected. I have said that simplification of finance is of the highest importance in order to bring about unity of administration. Now, we all know that there is one account for higher education under Part II. of this Bill, and there is one for elementary instruction under Part III. I would venture to draw your Lordships' attention to the definition Clause which has 75 been imported into this Bill; I am not sure if it has ever been discussed in the other House; I rather think that it came in under the shadow of the guillotine; it is Clause 23; there we find for the first time a definition of what elementary education is to be—The expression 'elementary education' shall not include any school carried on as an evening school under the regulations of the Board of Education where any part of the education given is other than instruction in reading writing, and arithmetic.In other words, there has been imported into this Bill, for the first time, a definition of what elementary instruction is in the opinion of the Government; we now know that it is reading, writing, and arithmetic. I have already pointed out that there are two accounts—one for higher education and the other for elementary education, defined in the Bill. Now imagine an evening school in some mining or in some maritime district, an evening school at which there will be pupils, some—as there are unfortunately in all parts of the country, of fifteen years of age and upwards, whose elementary instruction has been neglected, and who are anxious to take advantage of this evening school. At the same time there are other youths, who in the mining districts are anxious to learn something about engineering, or in the maritime districts something about navigation; they also go to the evening schools. Therefore it will he brought about that under one roof you will have one set of youths being taught what the Bill calls elementary education under Part III. and paid for out of one account by one set of managers, and on the other hand you will have other youths being taught the higher education of Part II., paid for out of another account by another set of managers. I cannot for the life of me see how the simplification of accounts comes in by the Bill.
But I must trouble your Lordships, if I may do so—for this really is much more a Local Government Bill than an Education Bill, and therefore it is necessary for one to go into these local government questions—I would ask you to consider, with regard to this simplification of finance, what are the sources of income which we have under the present system. They are very long, and I will try to name them as briefly as 76 possible, so as not to weary your Lordships. First of all, there are the Exchequer Grants, of which there are seven in all, namely, the Parliamentary grant, the fee grant, the aid grant for voluntary schools under the Act of 1897, the population grant, the training college grant, the necessitous Schools Boards grant, and, lastly, the grant under the Agricultural Rating Act. Your Lordships may remember that when under that Act half of the rates were remitted, the State agreed to make up the other half of the rates by an Exchequer Grant, so as to raise the rates of the School Boards to what they were previously. Those are the grants from the Exchequer. Secondly, there are the local sources of income—that is, the rates; they are three in number: there is the School Board Rate, the County Rate for technical instruction, and the Poor Rate, which is drawn upon to pay the expenses of the School Attendance Committees. Then, thirdly, there is the money which comes from the Local Taxation Act of 1890, which we may better recognise under the more popular name of the whisky money. Then, fourthly there are the voluntary subscriptions; fifthly, there is another source of income which, under the present system, the schools get—that is to say, concerts and bazaars got up to help the schools; sixthly, there are the school fees; seventhly, there are the endowments. So that there are at present seven sources of income from which you draw your expenses we are told. Now, how many will there be under the Bill—which is going to simplify our finances and co-ordinate our authorities? First of all, there are the Exchequer Grants as before; secondly, there are the rates, which consist of the County Rates for primary education, the County Rates for secondary education, and the Borough and Urban District Rates. In passing, there is rather a curious and complicated matter which I should like to have explained by someone who knows the Bill better than I do Under the Bill the County Council is empowered to raise a 2d. rate for higher education in the county; at the same time, the borough and urban districts are allowed to raise a 1d. rate for higher education in their districts.
77 but by the conditions of the Bill as I read it, the County Council is empowered to levy this 2d. rate all over the county, and therefore in the borough and urban districts as well, so that in the borough and urban districts they will be paying not only the 1d. rate but the additional 2d. rate, which is levied by the County Council. It seems to me to be somewhat of an anomaly, but it may be good finance. Then there is the whisky money as before, there are the voluntary contributions as before, there are the school fees, which will still be paid, and then there are the endowments, and, lastly, as a new source of income which has been absolutely invented by this Bill itself (and that only the other day) there are the rents of the teachers houses. Under this Bill these will have to be paid by the county authority, and they will go towards the upkeeping of the schools. Therefore, it comes to this, that in this great scheme for the simplification of finance and the co-ordination of authorities, you have at present seven sources of income, and under the Bill you have seven sources of income too, so that as to the sources of income they are exactly the same under the present scheme as they were before. I thank your Lordships very much for having listened to the dry and dreary details that I have ventured to put before you, but I think we may say that when we come to talk about this boasted unity of administration, whatever else this Bill may do, it dots not, if my proposition is correct, give us that in any sense.
My Lords, unity of administration is one of the conditions of a good scheme of education. The second condition is undoubtedly a good scheme of higher education. That is a subject that has been dealt with already, and as I have already detained your Lordships rather too long I shall not go into it now, but I think it has been admitted by every one that the scheme of higher education set up by the Bill does not come up at all to the expectations that were entertained. Practically what does it come to? There is no scheme in the Bill at all, and there is no indication to the County Councils as to how they are to carry out higher education. There is no power under 78 the Bill to deal with endowments, which anybody who knows anything about secondary schools will admit to be a matter of the greatest importance. There is no power, as far as I understand, to determine whether the teachers in the school are efficient or not. There is no power to deal with private owners to take over schools and give compensation to the owners if it is wished to do so. It may be said, and no doubt it is said, that if the Government had brought in a great and full scheme of secondary education under the present conditions of Parliament it would have been impossible for them to have carried it in conjuntion with the highly contentious scheme they had to bring forward for primary education. With regard to that, I would venture to say that for my own part I would rather have seen their scheme of primary education hung up for some time and that they should have brought in a scheme dealing with higher education; and I say that not without reason. The noble Marquess this afternoon rather depreciated the present position of elementary education in our schools, which was one of the reasons given for bringing in this Bill, but when we turn to the Report of the Board of Education for this year, what do we find is the official view? It says—The general efficiency of public elementary schools throughout the country is maintained at a higher level, and while there was still room for improvement in many schools very few wholly failed to provide adequate instruction for the children altogether.No doubt we all wish to see primary education brought to the highest pitch, but here is the admission that in 1902 there was no great fault to find with it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
I think I said that in the rural schools it was generally acknowledged that the education was good, but there was more done in the higher branches of elementary education than was originally intended under the Act of 1870.
§ * LORD BURGHCLERE
All I am pointing out is that the report with regard to elementary education is not one which would make us think that it was absolutely imperative now to bring in another Bill. That was my only contention. But there is another 79 paragraph which does seem to use more urgent words with regard to the teaching staff. I venture to think if the Government had allowed the elementary schools to remain as they are for another four or five years, and had brought in a scheme to reform their teaching staff in the meantime, and also brought in a good scheme of higher education, they would have been supported by the Opposition, and they certainly would have done better.
There is only one other point that I wish to make, and that will be very short. This is what I call the third condition with regard to any successful scheme of education. There should be within the Bill some chance of its being a permanent and a final settlement of the question. Now I venture to ask whether the most sanguine supporter of the Government imagines that in this Bill there is a final settlement, or even a settlement for our generation, of this great and important question. The noble Marquess and I think the Bishop of Winchester remarked that the "artificial feeling "which had been created against this Bill was dwindling away. Well, I think they had forgotten that my noble friend behind me presented only yesterday to this House a petition from the whole of the Free Churches of this country, representing eight or nine millions of people. Surely if the feeling is dwindling away it is dwindling away in a very peculiar way. The Nonconformist body, after all, is a large one in this country and is a great electoral force. If I were a Nonconformist I should say this Bill is not a settlement, it is a challenge. If that be true, if the Nonconformists consider it a re-endowment of the Church, if they consider that it puts upon them a stigma, a mark of inferiority on the minister of the chapel as compared with the clergyman of the Church of England, then I ask your Lordships how is it possible that this Bill can be a lasting and a permanent settlement? I notice that Sir Richard Jebb, speaking in the other House, said that under this Bill the country was going to take a real and living interest in education. My Lords, it has taken a real and living interest in education for the last six months on every platform, in the Press, in Parliament, 80 and in my humble opinion that is the kind of interest in education which this Bill will create, and with which we are threatened for years to come.
My Lords, the gift of prophecy is as rare as it is valuable, and I certainly do not venture to put myself amongst the prophets, but if two and two make four there are within the corners of this Bill elements which must make for disturbance, and not for the better improvement of education. Therefore it is that I can honestly say that never in my parliamentary life have I given a vote with greater conviction, or with a clearer conscience, than that which I shall give tonight, being confident that my vote against this Bill will be a vote for the improvement of education and the advancement of Imperial interests.
§ * THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Lord BALFOUR of BURLEIGH)
My Lords, I can truly say, what I doubt any other noble Lord who has addressed the House to-night can say, that when I came down here this evening I had not the slightest intention of breaking silence in regard to this Bill. But some of the things which have been said by the noble Lord who has just sat down, and by my fellow countryman, who is Chairman of the London School Board, have seemed to me to make it necessary that I should trouble the House with a few words on some of the subjects which have been discussed this evening. I venture to make this preliminary observation in regard, not only to the speeches which I have more specially alluded to, but in regard to the great majority of the speeches which have been made against the Bill, that those who are its opponents seem to me to very insufficiently recognise the underlying difficulties of the existing situation in this country, or to take note of the complications of the subject with which the Government undertook to deal. We begin the consideration of this subject without the advantage of what is termed, in another relation in politics, the clean slate. We have to take account of the existing situation and the interests which are involved, of the agencies which have been created and the work they are doing. It is all very well to express an academic preference for what is called the secular 81 system of education. It is all very well for those who prefer the separation of secular education from religious education altogether to express their admiration for it. All I can say is that I believe them to be in a hopeless minority in this country. And it is all very well to praise the Scottish system and to say that it works well and should be tried here. The conditions that obtain in Scotland are not parallel to those in this country, either with regard to the religious divisions of the two countries or with regard to the history of education. Therefore I say no more about those two propositions than this, that it seems to me that neither of them in the present state of public opinion in England affords the slightest prospect of a hopeful solution of the undoubted religious difficulties which surround this question. You have, therefore, to start from the arrangement of 1870, which recognises the denominational school system of this country, which this Bill is intended in the fairest possible way to develop and to make more suitable to the requirements of the present day rather than to overturn and to abolish. There has been no diminution of effort on the part of those who are supporters of voluntary schools. Their subscriptions are at a higher level than they were in 1870, or at any subsequent time. What has brought about the difficulty of the present state of matters is the increased demand which was made—and rightly made—for education owing to the altered circumstances of the country and the greater necessity for the development of educational facilities. That being so, I venture to say that there was no alternative before the Government which they could consider for a moment, than to introduce a scheme which must have been more or less upon the lines of that scheme which is under discussion tonight.
The attacks upon this Bill have been framed chiefly upon three grounds. It is made a charge that the Government are destroying School Boards, that the management of elementary schools is not sufficiently under public control, and that fresh tests are being imposed upon those who are engaged in the teaching profession. We have heard tonight various opinions about the desirability 82 of unity of administration. The noble Lord who spoke last made it one of the main subjects of his speech. He desired to see unity of administration from top to bottom, but the noble Lord who spoke for the London School Board said, "Whatever you do, do not destroy School Boards. You might have left School Boards alone and yet have passed a great measure of educational reform." These two arguments are mutally destructive of one another. If you are to have unity of administration you must either interfere with the present powers and constitution of the School Boards of the country, or you must take from the great municipal bodies to which they had been given the powers in regard to secondary and technical education which they now possess. If, therefore, you are to have unity of administration, you must take one or other of these lines, and the line which the Government, after full consideration of the whole circumstances, wished to take, was that it would be better to unify administration by making the public authority for the administration of education one which was already universal over the whole area to be dealt with, and not the School Board, which is not universal and which now, according to law, has not any power whatever in regard to technical or secondary education. The noble Lord who spoke last seemed to derive great personal satisfaction from adding up the number of educational authorities which he said existed at the present time, and those which he said would exist in the future. But he will not dispute—and on one who has read this Bill can dispute—that, so far as secondary or technical instruction is concerned there will under this Bill be one authority in each area and one authority alone, and that will be the county authority. As I understand the Bill, as far as the counties are concerned, they will be under one authority for secondary and technical education. In adding up the authorities which the noble Lord said would be responsible for elementary education, be put in the County Council, the Educational Committee, and the school managers, and counted them as three; but surely they are one. These subordinate authorities—the education committee and the local managers—are, so far as secular education is concerned, so 83 far as finance is concerned, one authority. They are not independent and conflicting authorities as from the noble Lord's speech I thought he intended to imply.
§ * LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
If I am misrepresenting the noble Lord I hope he will put me right, but I understood him in the list of authorities he made for elementary education to count not only the County Council, but the education committee and the school managers as different authorities.
§ * LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I ask whether that is a fair interpretation of the Bill. The Education Committee is appointed by the County Council. The school managers, so far as finance and the control of secular education are concerned, are absolutely and entirely the creatures of the County Council, which controls them in every detail of their secular work. Surely, therefore, it is not fair to count them as three different and conflicting authorities. I think I have made my point clear, and I will not elaborate it. One of the other points on which we have been most attacked is that of the management of the schools. The noble Lord the Chairman of the London School Board said that in certain cases the County Council might decree books which would be distasteful to the managers of the local school. Of course, if you are not to presume a certain amount of common sense on the part of those who are to work a Bill of this kind, you can raise all sorts of imaginary difficulties, but I believe that class of difficulty is one which is raised from the imagination of noble Lords. I do not believe that when the local authorities get to work they will do anything so entirely unreasonable and impossible. So far as the unity of authority is concerned, I believe that this will be a great educational advantage. Noble Lords opposite, and others who have spoken against the Bill, have praised the Scottish system. They have pointed out how much good is done by various kinds of higher education, not only the secondary schools, but that most important part of higher education which is provided for those of the 84 population who must leave school necessarily at about the age of fifteen or sixteen. I agree that at the present time the advantages which are offered in Scotland are greater than those offered in England, but it is because I believe that for the first time under this Bill there will be a local authority legally capable for the whole area of the county of providing these advantages, that I support this Bill. The noble Lord the Chairman of the School Board for London was good enough to compliment me on the Code for continuation schools. I believe that under this Bill the County Councils will have the power of providing a precisely similar Code, because they will be able to do out of the funds of the locality what is now done in Scotland by local effort, and I believe they will then, for the first time, be able to gain for the whole area of England the same educational advantages which we enjoy in Scotland. It is because I think that the present area of local administration, even where there are country School Boards, is too small to enable that to be done, that I believe this is a great measure of educational reform, and will be fraught with great advantages.
The noble Lord who last spoke made great fun with regard to Clause 23, which, he said, made a division between elementary and higher education in the continuation schools. That seems to me a reasonable distinction. Surely, if the local school has not been able to do the work of elementary education, it is fair that it should continue it for the time that it is necessary in the evening school, but I do not think that that part of the work of a continuation school should be mixed up with the higher functions of dealing with those who, having regularly attended their elementary school, and acquired a knowledge of elementary subjects, now that they are going into their life's work, desire to attend evening schools and gain higher education. I think it is a reasonable thing that those two functions should be kept separate—that the one should be done more largely at the expense of the locality, and that the other should be under the control of the higher education authority of the district. I know quite well that there are other speakers to follow, and I do not desire to occupy more time than is 85 justly my due, but there is one point which has been already the subject of some, I hardly like to use the word interruption, but of some interpolation on my part to the noble Lord, the Chairman of the London School Board. It is part of the case against this Bill that for the first time it will impose, as it is said, a new set of religious tests on the teaching profession. I associate myself entirely with the arguments of the right rev. Prelates the Bishops of London and Winchester, that if you are to have these denominational schools at all, if you are to have denominational or dogmatic religious instruction, it is only the due of those who desire it and who are anxious to see it properly carried out that they should be allowed to secure that the individual who is to give that instruction is fitted both by belief and by training to do so. But in answer to that the noble Lord the Chairman of, the London School Board, says:—"Look what magnificent religious instruction there is in the schools of the London School Board." I have always heard, and what the noble Lord said tonight confirms it, that in that matter the London School Board was a model Board, that it took a great deal of pains to secure efficient religious instruction so far as the statutory authority under which it acts allowed it to do. The noble Lord's argument, and the illustrations he gave us, seemed to me altogether to destroy the fictions put forth from the opposite side that we are providing a new series of tests for the teaching profession.
§ EARL SPENCER
I beg the noble Lord's pardon for interrupting him. The complaint is not of new tests, but of tests under very aggravating circumstances on account of the enormous increase in public grants.
§ * LORD BALFOUR OF BUKLEIGH
That is exactly an illustration of what I ventured to say at the beginning of my speech, that noble Lords opposite will not have regard to the elementary problems of the situation. I understand that argument if you are to have no denominational instruction at all, but it is part of my case that you must maintain, in accordance with the feeling of 86 the immense majority of the people of this country, denominational instruction; and if you are to have that instruction it follows, as a matter of right and of fairness, that you must allow the religious denomination, whatever it may be, to satisfy itself of the fitness of the person who is to teach its creed. I will assume that the religious instruction given in the schools of the London School Board is everything that its most enthusiastic admirers say it is. But I ask noble Lords opposite, do they expect us to be satisfied with the teaching of those doctrines unless we are sure that the people who are engaged in their teaching believe in them, in their sacredness and in everything that they mean to those of us who do believe in them? I can conceive of nothing more repugnant to any man of right feeling than going through the form of attempting to teach those doctrines unless he genuinely believes in them and has been trained in the duty of teaching them. It is on that ground that I think it is useless to pretend that you can avoid having some sort of test of the efficiency of those who are to be engaged in the teaching profession when this subject is part, as it is in the schools of the London School Board, of the normal course of instruction, I will only touch on two other matters. The first is that of finance. I cannot go into all the details which were brought before us by the noble Lord who spoke last. I do not know that it would be a very fruitful theme of discussion here, because, after all, I doubt very much whether we can touch those Clauses at all. But this I say, that so far as secular instruction is concerned, whether in elementary or secondary schools, the object of the Government is that there shall be equal financial support for secular instruction in every class of school, and I do not think it can be said that those who want denominational teaching in addition to the secular instruction are paying less than they ought to pay for their privilege. Those who desire denominational teaching have provided, and will provide in the future, at least a fair share of the cost. One other point. We have been threatened over and over again. We 87 were pointedly threatened in the peroration of the noble Lord who spoke last that this was to be no permanent settlement of the question. The Opposition are, when they come into power, to reverse this iniquitous Bill. They are to get a mandate from the country for its reversal. That will have the least one advantage for us, for we shall then know, at any rate, what is the scheme they propose in its place.
§ LORD BURGHCLERE
I never made any promise as to what a future Liberal Government would do. I am not in a position to do so. What I referred to was the innate confusion which must come about by this Bill being a partial settlement and not a complete one.
§ * LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I do not wish to put on the noble Lord any argument which he did not use, but we were distinctly told by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition last night, and also I think by Lord Tweed mouth, that in all probability it would be their object to reverse this legislation and to substitute something in its place. Then, at any rate, we shall know the issue we have to meet. When they do that they will, at any rate, have to say what their scheme is, and then will be the time for us to see whether their difficulties will or will not be greater than those which we have had to encounter, and which, I think, we have successfully surmounted. I apologise to the House for taking up so much time, but I could not, after the pointed challenges that were made, sit altogether silent in regard to this debate.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, I cannot but think that the present aspect of your Lordship's House to some degree represents the attitude of the country towards this Bill. The empty seats represent somewhat faithfully the attitude of the laity of the Church towards this question, and the indifference which they feel towards the Bill. The large attendance on the Episcopal Benches shows, on the other hand, how great is the interest taken by the higher Prelates of the Church in the Bill. So also the speeches have reflected the opinions which are held in the country. Some 88 of the most destructive criticism of the Bill has come from those who are, nominally, its supporters. I should like to associate myself with what fell from Viscount Goschen last night, when he expressed his deep regret that the fog of religious controversy had involved the whole question. I wish he had pursued the investigation of the cause of this fog of religious controvery. It is not the fault of noble Lords who sit on this side of the House; it is inherent in the Bill itself. When we consider that the Church of England claims by this Bill so large a share in the management of religious and secular education in this country, the noble Viscount should not be surprised at the amount of controversy which has been aroused. The Church of England makes a somewhat exaggerated claim in this matter. Her position is not that of the Churches of other countries. When we speak of the Christianity of France, our thoughts turn at once to the Roman Catholicism of that country. In this country things are very different, and, having regard to the great Nonconformist movement, surely it is inadequate that a Bill dealing with religious teaching should take into account only the Church of England. The right rev. Prelate has spoken as if the voluntary schools were the private property of the Church of England. This is far from being the case. In the first place, large sums of money have been contributed from the State to the voluntary schools. A Blue Book was recently presented to your Lordships in which the large sums of money presented by the Treasury are set forth with much clearness. I shall not weary the House with any lengthy statistics, but your Lordships will be able from your own examination of this Blue Book to ascertain that in many countries, and in many dioceses, generally a quarter, and sometimes as much as a half, has been contributed to the erection of the voluntary schools. More than that, the trust deeds by which these schools are managed do not in any way convey them as a property to the Church of England. They are maintained partly for religious education, and partly for secondary education, and even the model trust deeds of the National Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church themselves lay down that religious instruction shall be in accordance with the principles of the 89 Church, but that "due regard is to be had" to the secular education of the children.
It is obviously impossible to separate the interest of the Church from the interest of the State in the voluntary schools. They are simply ordinary charitable foundations, and those who have subscribed to the voluntary schools would indeed be injured if the schools were diverted to any other interest. It seems to me, therefore, that we have heard a great deal of wild talk on the subject of the closing of the schools in the event of the Bill not being passed in exact harmony with the wishes of the Church of England. If any such thing were done it would be necessary for the Church in the first place to repay the sums of money she has obtained from the State for the building of these schools. What might be an ideal position for the Church of England was laid down by the Diocesan Inspector for London, who said—There is only one object that the supporters of voluntary schools need be anxious to tight for, and that is ability to teach their own children the faith of their forefathers in all its fulness.I do not think any noble Lord on this side of the House would raise any objection if the Church of England asked no more than that. But when the Church of England asks for some 60,000 appointments in what is practically the Civil Service of the country, and for the management of those public institutions to which the State contributes already £4,000,000 a year, and to which the Church in future will contribute scarcely £60,000 a year, it seems to me the Church of England goes beyond what is a just and fair claim. I wish that the right rev. Prelates could be persuaded to trust in the people a little more. If the right rev. Prelates will not think me disrespectful, I should like to say that they remind me of a row of boys standing tremulously on the brink of a chilly ocean. I think if they would only take the plunge into the sea of public opinion they would not sink, but would enjoy the exercise and find it invigorating and beneficial. There is one question to which I am most anxious to obtain an answer. We hear a great deal, if not in this House 90 at least outside, with regard to the undenominational system of education in the board schools. There are many earnest laymen in the Church of England who are perplexed that the right rev. Prelates should be willing to neglect the Church of England children who are in the board schools. Why should the Church of England children in the board schools be neglected while there is so much insistance on definite dogmatic teaching in voluntary schools? Is this dogmatic teaching necessary in the voluntary schools and unnecessary for Church of England children in the board schools? Why is not some protection claimed under this Bill for the latter? Most of your Lordships will remember what is the amount of dogmatic teaching given in our great public schools. It does seem to me that as long as Members of this and the other House are content that their children should receive instruction of the kind given in those great public schools, it is unnecessary to insist that the children of the poor should receive dogmatic instruction.
There was one remark which fell from the noble Duke when he introduced this Bill, to which I should specially like to call attention. He spoke of the absurdity of a child of fourteen being under different management from a child of fifteen, and he spoke of this Bill as doing something to remedy the inconsistency. It is difficult to see where and in what way that inconsistency is removed. There are the boroughs of over 10,000, and the urban districts of over 20,000, which are excluded from the operation of the County Council in respect of elementary education, but the authority for secondary and technical education will be the County Council. I think it is inconvenient that that should be the case. The establishment of a continuous system, which would have allowed a child to go from elementary to secondary instruction under the same management would have been far more desirable. In the county of Essex there will be two authorities for secondary education—the County Council with its education committee, and the Borough Council of West Ham with its education committee.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
There will be, in addition, eleven authorities of elementary education, made up of the two elementary Councils I have just mentioned—the County Council and the Council of West Ham—and the authorities of the nine small areas which are either boroughs of over 10,000, or urban districts of over 20,000.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
Since the mention of one of the authorities which the Bill creates confuses the noble Duke, I will leave "West Ham out of the question altogether. I will give the noble Duke another illustration from a single parish in Yorkshire. There will be one authority in that parish for secondary education, namely, the County Council committee. In addition to that, there will be no less than nine authorities for elementary education—the County Council committee and the authorities of the eight small areas within that one parish. I could give another instance where in the West Riding of Yorkshire there will be six authorities for secondary education—the County Council committee of the West Riding and the five County Boroughs which happen to be within that area, and in that one county there will be fifteen authorities for elementary education. The noble Duke has described the Bill as being the natural offspring of the Act of 1870. That seems to me a curious expression to use in connection with a Bill the chief object of which is to kill the School Boards which were the children of the Act of 1870. That is the deed of an unnatural offspring. I think we on this side of the House have a right to complain that these new bodies have been introduced without mature deliberation, that we had no hint beforehand that they were going to be established, that they are being introduced at one fell swoop, and no attempt is being made to find out whether they will be able efficiently to discharge the work which is to be entrusted to them. For my own part, having regard to the share which, at any rate, some County Councils have taken in extending the work of technical instruction, I am not very hopeful of the way in which they will discharge their new duties. An extraordinary thing about the new county authority created by the Bill is 92 that whilst it is allowed the help of managers it is not allowed to choose them. Those noble Lords on this side of the House who think that the education will remain in the same hands as in the past, namely, in the hands of the denominational managers, are surely in the right, because the share which the County Council will take will be almost limited to paying the bill. I wish that noble Lords would imagine a similar principle applied to any other business in the country. Imagine a farmer who was told that in managine his farm he must do it with the help of the Parish Council, of whose members he is only allowed to nominate a third; imagine the London County Council being told that they were to manage the business of London through a Committee of the Carlton Club; and you have something of the position of the new education committees throughout the country. What this Bill fails to do in regard to secondary education has already been referred to by noble Lords, and I have no desire to detain your Lordships longer. For my own part, I have a high ideal as regards the educational system of this country. I think it should be one that would allow English children to be educated at least as well as children in any other country in the world. Our material is as good as that which exists elsewhere; it is only the machinery which is at fault. If I saw any prospect that this Bill would improve that machinery, I would willingly vote for it. But as it appears to me that the measure will not have that result, but will tend rather to retard the progress of education, I shall give my vote against it.
* THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, I feel some reluctance in addressing your Lordship on this occasion, because I have no claim to speak as an educational expert. But there was a remark which fell last night from the lips of Lord Coleridge which gives me no little encouragement on this occasion. He told your Lordships that experts were an unreliable body of people at the best, and he went so far as to say that the educational expert was the greatest fraud of the lot. Well, my Lords, that is a phrase which is not very complimentary to such people, for instance, as the Chairman of the London School Board, 93 who, I believe, is the greatest educational expert amongst noble Lords on the other side of the House. But if it is not complimentary to him, it is, at any rate, encouraging to me. I confess that it has been very difficult for the lay mind to understand exactly what this Bill really does do. I think that the Parliamentary draftsman has in this case been even more successful than usual in concealing his meaning by the skilful use of words. We have heard discussions in the House of Commons in which the most eminent lawyers have been entirely unable to agree as to the meaning of certain Clauses, and we have had evidence in this House of the obscurity in which the Bill us wrapped. Lord Coleridge raised some doubt in the debate last night as the exact meaning of Clause 2 of the Bill, and whether it placed an optional or a mandatory authority to deal with the needs of education in the country. Well, my Lords, when we turn from the Bill itself to the speeches of those who profess to understand it, our confusion is even greater. We find, on the one hand, the Prime Minister—who, if anybody understands it, does, I suppose, understand the Bill by now—we find the Prime Minister telling us that the Bill establishes complete popular control over all the secular education of the country. But noble Lords on the other side of the House tell us that it does nothing of the sort, that on the contrary it establishes a system of nomination and selection. Then the noble Duke who introduced the Bill laid great stress on the fact that it established one authority for the schools of the county, and noble Lords opposite if they are not agreed as to the exact number, are all agreed that the authorities are more than one. Lord Burghclere made a calculation which brought the authorities out at eight, and the noble Lord who spoke last discovered five and twenty in one county. My only surprise is that upon that sort of calculation noble Lords stopped where they did. I wonder that they did not count up the number of County and Borough Councils in the country and tell us that the authorities ran into many hundreds. Then again, last night Lord Ribblesdale had a good deal to say on the subject 94 of tests, and he tried to prove that the Bill established a religious test in the selection of school teachers, and he so puzzled the noble Duke thereby that, for a moment, he was unable to recognise the Bill he had introduced a short time previously. In the midst of all this confusion and difference of opinion, the unlearned in this matter must be left to draw their own conclusions, and support or condemn the Bill according to the result they believe it will have, what ever its meaning on the education, of the most country.
It is because I believe that, the result will be far-reaching; because I believe that its influence on the educational system of the country will be in a large measure for good, and purely for good; because I believe it will remedy many of those defects in our present system which we all deplore, that I venture to think the Bill is the most important and the wisest piece of legislation which, has been before Parliament for many years. The chief opposition of the Bill has centred round two points the new educational authority which is set up and the question of religious education. In regard to the first, we are, think, all agreed that the schools should be placed under the control of one authority. We all deplore the evils of the present system of subdivided authority. It is only when we come to the question of what that new authority should be that there is any difference of opinion between us. Of the two existing authorities for education, the Government in this Bill have chosen the County and the Town Council, whereas noble Lords opposite think they ought to have chosen the School Board. It is not for me to say which would be the better of the two on educational grounds, but there appears to me to be two very good reasons for choosing these great local governing bodies to undertake education. In the first place, they are already in existence, whereas, if the Government had set about establishing universal School Boards, they would have had in many cases to call those bodies into existence. The second reason, and the one to which I attach greater importance, is this: If these great municipal bodies are to fulfil the duties which they were created to perform they must be prepared 95 to accept, and Parliament must be prepared to entrust to them, an ever increasing measure of the public business of this country, and I can think of no more important duty, and no duty which they are better qualified to undertake, than that of regulating our educational system. As time goes on the duties of these bodies must necessarily increase and largely develop, and I think it is a wise step to place this new responsibility upon them, so that, instead of being in any position of possible contact in the future with another local authority in a matter of such great local interest as education, they will themselves be the people who have to provide, maintain, and keep efficient that machinery which is to keep this country in a position to compete with its industrial and commercial rivals. I should like to say one word with regard to the education committee of this new authority. One noble Lord last night—I think it was Lord Ribblesdale declared that the Government were worshipping a fetish in this matter in their use of the word "co-ordination."
* THE EARL OF LYTTON
If that was not his metaphor, it was this, that co-ordination was put forward as a sort of "Mesopotamia" in which all that was wrong was put right. I admit that co-ordination has been the chief object of the Government in framing this measure. May it not be answered in return that noble Lords opposite have their Mesopotamia also, and that their Mesopotamia is the expression "ad hoc authority," a phrase they are always using in their criticisms of the Bill. In the first place, they tell us that these County Councils are not elected for the express purpose of dealing with education, and they go on to say that the committees which will do all the work of the County Councils are not elected by the people at all. It is quite true that the County Councils are not elected for any one specific purpose, but they are elected to perform adequately and efficiently all the duties which fall upon them as local administrators, precisely in the same manner as the representatives of the people in Parliament are elected not for any one specific purpose but in order to safeguard the interests of the country 96 and to carry out such measures as they think necessary for its government. Noble Lords opposite say that the Government has no mandate from the people for this measure, but that is only another instance of their worship of this particular phrase. They desire ad hoc authority from the people for every piece of legislation which is introduced into Parliament. For my part, I think that if the Government had failed to undertake this most pressing duty of organising our educational system after the conclusion of peace, they would not only have forfeited the confidence of their supporters but would have brought on themselves the condemnation of every patriotic Englishman. And so it is with the County Councils. They are elected to fulfil many duties, and they appoint in turn a number of Committees to do their work. As Lord Northbrook pointed out in an earlier stage of this debate, all the work of the County Councils is done by committees, but by committees of the Council, and not of the Carlton Club, as the noble Lord who spoke last seemed to think. I would remind your Lordships that this committee will be composed of men, and of women, too, if necessary, who will be the best qualified to advise the Council on educational matters. It is true they will not be elected directly by the people, but I do not think they will be any less efficient on that account, because they will be elected by a body who will certainly put the interest of education before anything else, inasmuch as they will be responsible to the people for the efficiency of that education.
I pass to the question whether the Bill does or does not maintain the principle of religious liberty. Many noble Lords have regretted that the subject of religion should be brought at all into this discussion. I can only congratulate your Lordships on the uncontroversial spirit in which your debate on this Bill has been carried on, but I fear that to exclude religion altogether from our discussion would be impossible. It is admitted by everybody to be the duty of the State to organise the control of education, but directly you deal with education you are immediately and inevitably brought in contact with the religious beliefs and disbeliefs of the people. Education must deal not only with the intellectual but also with the 97 moral and spiritual development of mankind. I think the people of this country are divided into two large bodies of opinion—those who think that religion is the most important subject in the education of children, and those, on the other hand, who think that religion should play no part whatever in a national system of education. But if the State were to decide in favour of the latter it could not any longer claim a position of impartiality, whereas, if it decides in favour of religious teaching, there are still two duties which the State has to perform. One is to provide a sufficient number of schools for the children of those people who do not desire religious instruction of a denominational character, and to hold the balance evenly between the different sects in those schools where religious instruction is given. I believe that was the scheme aimed at in 1870, but there was a defect in it from an educational point of view, inasmuch as it did not give equally good secular education to every child in the country. It is obviously unfair that any child, because it desired to have religious instruction, should be placed at a disadvantage as regards its secular education. This present Bill is a great advance in that respect, because for the first time, secular education in every school in the country is made the direct care of the State. Viscount Llandaff made an eloquent speech last night in which he pointed out how much the Roman Catholics of this country dreaded interference with the teaching by their priests in Roman Catholic schools, but he forgot, I think, that the terms of this Bill which deal with the election and provision of managers secure that in every Roman Catholic school, as in every other denominational school, the majority of the board of managers shall be Roman Catholics. The discipline of his Church will, I think, be sufficient to safeguard the priest even in the event of the Kenyon-Slaney Clause being retained in the Bill, against any interference on the part of managers who are themselves Roman Catholics. I have said that the object of education provided by the State should be, on the one hand, not to undermine religious influence, and, on the other, to give no unfair advantage to any sect; and it is because I believe that, that is what this measure 98 will do that I give it my support tonight. I believe that if all persons in this country, of whatever shade of opinion they may be, will but co-operate one with the other in the interest of education as a whole, and show a real spirit of tolerance for the susceptibilities—aye, and the superstitions where they are so regarded—o those who think differently on religious matters, they will find in this Bill a workable modus vivendi. In view of the great position this country is called upon to hold in the world, and in view of the ever-increasing demand for national energy and vigour, we cannot afford to neglect any of those springs whereby the country draws its life and health, I look forward to the cessation of all religious controversies when once this Bill has passed into law, and I hope we shall then see the forces of religion ranged side by side with the forces that make for knowledge and for progress, and that in the training of future generations these forces will be found yoked in all excellence of noble end, and jointly striving to raise the standard of human endeavours.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
My Lords, this is an interesting occasion, interesting chiefly as a means of discussion, because, although the noble Duke in his peroration, for the purposes of his peroration, seemed to hint at the possibility of the House of Lords rejecting the Bill, no one for a moment thinks that there is any possibility of the kind. We all know perfectly well what is the fate of a Bill produced by a Conservative Government in this House, just as surely as we know what is the fate of a Bill produced by a Liberal Government in this House: and, therefore, all we could hope for in these two nights was for opportunities of discussion, of explanation and protest—unavailing discussion for the purposes of the vote, unavailing protest, and, I fear, so far as my hearing has carried me throughout these two days, unavailing explanation as well. There is another element of unreality in this discussion. Frequent allusion has been made to the fight which has been carried on in the House of Commons for the last seven months against this Bill. That fight, it is truly said, has been in the main carried on by Nonconformists, of whom the great protagonist has been Mr. Lloyd-George, 99 who has fought this Bill with a readiness of resource to which speakers on both sides of the House have done justice. But here in this House we have no representative of that great living force against this Bill, and we are compelled to discuss it quietly, intimately, as it were, between ourselves, as members of the Established Churches of England and Scotland. That gives an unreality to this discussion which cannot fail to mark the contrast with the discussions in the other House of Parliament.
There is a point to which I wish to call attention before I go any further, and I hope I shall not have to detain you so long as some of my noble friends have detained you in the course of this debate. It is a point which I myself do not fully understand. It is the almost morbid haste with which this Bill has been forced upon this House. It was read yesterday morning in the House of Commons for the third time. A few vigilant Peers connected with subordinate offices in the Government were kept in great discomfort in this House—although I trust that the Hereditary Steward attended to their requirements—they were kept up to a late hour and at great personal inconvenience in order to read the Bill a first time. They could hardly have snatched a moment of well-earned repose before they were called on to read it a second time yesterday afternoon. There is some reason, I do not doubt, for this. The noble Duke yesterday began his speech by a long preamble in which he alluded to the unexampled delays which the Bill had encountered in the House of Commons. He even compared that delay unfavourably with the delay of the Home Rule Bill of 1893. The Bill, as I understand him—for I have not taken the trouble to check his calculation, but have taken it in full faith as he gave it—had taken some ten days longer than the Home Rule Bill of 1893.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
The noble Duke is singularly frank and honest in making that admission. I take it as longer in Committee. But I think he forgets that there is one underlying difference between the two cases. Those who opposed the Home Rule Bill in the 100 House of Commons in 1893 were animated by as full and strenuous a conviction as any that has animated the Nonconformists and others who opposed this Bill in the House of Commons. But they were not fighting with their backs to the wall. They knew that there was a resource here, and that even if they were defeated by the forces, the united forces, which then supported Mr, Gladstone's Government, they had only to bring the Bill across the lobby to the House of Lords and they were perfectly certain of its ignominious defeat. I hope that this policy of haste, of almost indecent haste—for this is a Bill which interests every one of your Lordships just as much as every member of the House of Commons—will not be carried into the proceedings of the Committee. I trust we shall have a full and fair warning of the Amendments that are going to be introduced in Committee, and time to consider them. Let me allude to one. There are one or two subjects in this Bill which are treated as skeletons in the cupboard. Government speakers, sometimes, I think, are about to approach them, but then they make a graceful flourish and do not come near them. To one of them I will allude presently, but one of them I will name at once. It is the Amendment which has given a permanent place in history, I trust, to my honourable school-fellow, Colonel Kenyon-Slaney. I am sorry that, in an unavoidable absence from the House, I did not hear what has been described to me as the eloquent speech of the right rev. Prelate who presides over the diocese of London. He says, as it is reported to me, that the Amendment has excited widespread alarm and justifiable indignation throughout the United Kingdom.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
Among the clergy! I thank the right rev. Prelate for the qualification. It is most important. But if it has excited these feelings amongst the clergy, it has excited an equal feeling, shall I say of exultation? I will not go so far as that—but certainly of relief, among the great mass of the laity. And what I think we have had a right to ask for from the Government 101 all through this discussion, and as to which we have not had one syllable, one hint, one breath of their intention, is this—what do they propose to do with regard to that Amendment, which now forms a substantial portion of the Bill? We hear rumours of Amendments. The Attorney General has announced in the House of Commons that the Government will introduce an Amendment making clear what we had hoped, after the discussions in the House of Commons, was perfectly transparent, that which is the intention and object of the Amendment. Then we hear—I do not know if I may attach faith to the rumour—that Lord James of Hereford is about to introduce an Amendment also with regard to it. Whether these two Amendments are the same, and whether they have the same object, are points on which I think this House has a right to be enlightened before it is asked to go into Committee on this Bill. We have heard a great deal about the advantages which are conferred by this Bill on the various branches of education. We have had the blessed word co-ordination reiterated almost ad nauseam. We have had explanations of that term from both sides of the House. The noble Duke yesterday gave us a list of the various reforms which have been i introduced by this Bill and for which we are to be grateful. Among them was some advantage to be gained by technical education. As to these advantages I will only say this, that you could have had the Bill, with all these advantages, through in six weeks or two months if you had chosen to leave out the bedrock principle which I am about to advert to.
But with regard to technical education I will make one remark in passing. I am not quite so certain that the advantages conferred by this Bill on technical education are so great as is generally supposed. It repeals the Bills of 1889 and 1891, I think. No doubt it gives a greater power of raising money, a greater power of giving money for that purpose. But in the Bill of 1889 there were two provisions which were of greater importance, and to which I should like to call the attention of His Majesty's Government. The first was this, that there was to be complete religious freedom in all the schools which were to be assisted by that grant, and in the 102 second place—I would venture to call the noble Duke's particular attention to this—that every public authority contributing in any way to the support of a school was to be represented in proportion to its contribution on the governing body of that school. And therefore it is without the slightest surprise that, on referring to the schedule of this Bill, I find that the very first Act which is to be repealed is that of 1889. Before I proceed to what I consider to be the main principle of this Bill, let me say this, that while you say on six or seven heads that you have conferred material boons on the nation—boons which could have been conferred in much less time and by a much smaller majority than you possess—you have done nothing, or practically nothing, to meet the two grievances which have been admitted by the Government themselves through the mouth of the Prime Minister, I mean the grievance of the single-school parishes and the grievance of the practical exclusion of the Nonconformists from the training colleges of this country.
But, after all, these are ancillary matters. On all these matters we could have arrived at some agreement with you. There is nothing to draw a broad line of separation between us here. There was always opportunity for compromise and agreement on these points. Where there is no opportunity and no field for compromise or agreement is in the treatment you have chosen to adopt to what are called the voluntary schools. Some call them Church of England Schools, though my noble friend. Lord Beauchamp, in the very pointed speech he addressed to us tonight, submitted reasons why they should not be considered, in the strictest sense of the word, to be Church of England schools. With regard to that I should like to contrast his opinion with an authority I am afraid I must place higher than his—that is, the authority of the Prime Minister. He has given us in all their nakedness, if I may so express myself, his views of the schools which you are about to maintain entirely—except as regards structure—out of public money. He says these schools are not State schools, nor are they in the acceptation of my noble friend Church schools, they are "public elementary schools belonging to the Church of England"—that is their full style and title. Well, I think that my noble friend Lord Beauchamp 103 gave us some reasons showing that they are not so entirely the property of the Church of England as that definition would appear to imply. But I take the definition as true, and I rest the case upon that definition. That definition is this—that these are schools for elementary education belonging to a great, wealthy, and powerful ecclesiastical corporation, and that you propose to deal with such schools as no other country deals with such schools in the whole civilised world. Now you are going to take these schools under your wing, you are already—though they are said by the Prime Minister to be the property of the Church of England—you have already given them grants amounting to at least one-and-a-half millions a year. You are now going to take them entirely under your protection, and with a minimum public representation you are going to find the whole of the funds for the instruction given in those schools out of various sources of revenue in the country.
The noble Marquess at the head of the Education Department told us to-day that this Bill is supported by some eminent Liberals. I do not think it is supported by any and considerable number of eminent Liberals, but their weight may be greater than their number. At any rate, he must not be unaware that these provisions of the Bill shock a very considerable. There is a name never mentioned in Ireland or in this House without honour, the name of the eldest son of the Duke of Abercorn, who certainly represents a very considerable body of Protestant feeling in the North of Ireland, and he has written saying that he cannot support this provision. There is another member of this House, Lord Manvers, and there are Sir C. Welby, Sir J. Dickson-Poynder, Mr. Beckett, Mr. Younger, and other Members I might mention who say, though they are staunch supporters of his Majesty's present advisers, they cannot support this provision of the Bill.
Now, there is a second point in the Bill up to which I have observed several members of the Government skirmish, but which they have never actually touched. The only member of this House who, speaking from a Government point of view, has had the courage to do so and to grasp the matter with a resolution worthy of a better cause is the right 104 rev. Prelate the Bishop of Winchester, who delivered such an extremely able, eloquent and interesting speech tonight. Now what were the principles the Bishop laid down? He laid down as his first maxim that we owe a great debt of gratitude to the clergy for their exertions in the cause of education when the laity were indifferent to it, and I gather that we are to infer from that that they have a claim for this extra assistance which is now about to be given them by His Majesty's Government. He had the unkindness to quote a memorial addressed by a Committee of the Quarter Sessions of Hampshire, in which was displayed a melancholy and regrettable indifference to education. The right rev. Prelate claimed that the Church had a right to expect a contribution at our hands, and it seems to me that exactly the same claim might be made on behalf of monasteries, who could say they had a prior claim for having preserved learning when it was perishing in every other part of the world; and perhaps it may not be beyond the province of some members of your Lordships House to propose that some grant be accorded to them, in recognition of their services in former years. The right rev. Prelate intimated also that these exertions on behalf of education had already met with some portion of their reward in the amount of confidence with which the clergy were treated in School Board districts. Some of them, he said, figured in exalted positions on School Boards in large towns, and I am not in the least prepared to deny that. But he must recollect that in other cases distinguished ladies, and even Roman Catholic priests, owing to the cumulative vote, occupied prominent positions on those Boards. So it does not do to lay too much stress on the gratitude of the laity to the clergy, for their exertions in this respect.
* THE LORD BISHOP OF WINCHESTER
What I referred to was not the fact that such clergy are members of School Boards, but that they are the elected Chairmen of the Board, and such election does not turn upon the cumulative vote, but is due simply to their educational capacity.
THE EARL of ROSEBERY
I am quite aware of that, but the chairman is elected 105 after the Board meets, and, therefore, the position of chairman is a comparatively limited expression of popular support or gratitude. Well, as 1 said before, the rev. Prelate claims that the control in return for the cash advanced by His Majesty's Government is practically complete over secular education given in the schools. Is that so? The secular education in the schools will be controlled by a Board of six managers on the spot. Of these, four, as we know, will be what are called foundation managers, a close corporation instituted in most trust deeds by the clergy. The minor local authority which has not the expenditure of the funds will appoint another manager and there is only one representative of the local authority for public control. What does this mean? Contrast the treatment of provided or board schools. In the board schools the managers will all be appointed by the local authority. But in these schools, so fully maintained out of the public funds, and over which, according to the right rev. Prelate, the public control is so complete, the local authority will appoint exactly one-sixth. But the right rev. Prelate pursued another method in dealing with this question in which a great example has been given by no less a person than the Prime Minister. He treated the whole question of managers as if it were a question of the appointment of the teachers; and he pointed out that the appointment of the teacher must naturally lie with the managers, and that the teacher must be a Church of England man in accordance with the general character of the school. If that were the only function of the manager, surely it would have been more generous and wise of the Church of England to throw the election of the managers somewhat more open. There would have been no difficulty in coming to an arrangement, if that were the managers' only function, by which the teacher should be limited to the Church of England in schools which have belonged to that denomination, and by which there should be a far more liberal representation of the popular element on the board. But the right rev. Prelate knows as well as the Prime Minister that that is not the only function of the managers. That is why they fight so 106 hard for this two-thirds majority on the Board. Therefore it is not by asserting an artificial control which does not really exist that you can convince the small Opposition in this House, or the much greater mass in the country that this system of management of State-supported schools is either expedient or just.
I should have thought that the very liberal provisions of this Bill would have been sufficient to satisfy the Church of England. They are to receive the whole of the cost of the teaching in the schools. They are, according to some sound calculations, by the receipt of fees and endowments and the rent of teachers' houses, to make not a bad thing even of the structural maintenance of the schools. I will not insist on that point, because we have had no figures upon them, and the Government do not seem very anxious to provide the figures. But, at any rate, surely it is a pretty good bargain to make a contribution which is as one to twelve, equal to a two-thirds majority in the management of the school. Why, if that system of rule-of-three were to prevail in this House, the Liberal Party would be in control of this House. At any rate, it is not an illiberal provision. But I am sorry to find from the speeches of the most rev. Primate and Lord Goschen that they are by no means satisfied with what is being done under the Bill. I do not want to enter into even the most friendly controversy with the venerable and pathetic figure who is not with us tonight, and whom we heard with so much pleasure and reverence last night. But I trust that my noble friend Lord Goschen will allow me to point out that his attitude in regard to this Bill—the inadequacy of its provisions and the apprehension they caused him—reminded me very much of the incident of the embassy of the children of Gideon in the Old Testament. The children of Gideon, in order to produce a certain effect, came with mouldy bread and ragged clothes and empty vessels to the children of Israel. They imposed on Joshua; but I doubt whether the representation of the noble Lord will impose upon the people of England at this moment. To make them imagine at this juncture, after all that has been done, that the bargain which has been made by the Church of England is a hard 107 bargain, is more than even all the rhetoric of the noble Viscount, who brings to us all the freshness of a House of Commons delivery, could achieve.
§ VISCOUNT GOSCHEN
I said that I did not deal with the bargain at all. I abstained from touching that question. The noble Earl must have misunderstood some of my remarks.
THE EARL of ROSEBERRY
I fear it was the most rev. Primate; but as he is absent, I trust that my noble friend will not mind bearing his share of the burden on this occasion. At one point the noble Viscount almost moved me to the verge of tears. I struggled with emotion as I heard of the rural parish which is privileged to have the noble Viscount as lord of the manor. It seems to be a perfect Garden of Eden in which he wanders; apportioning the fruit of the tree of knowledge with no sparing hand, and materially assisted by the vicar of the parish. Why, he told us in accents which had quite a note of pathos in them, that so large-minded was the vicar in the parish that, at his own instance and without any hint, as I gather, from my noble friend, he took to his arms a single Nonconformist—a single Nonconformist, because there were many Nonconformists in the school—and I presume that, with the help of my noble friend and the other managers, he felt even safe, with their protection, in the presence of that ravening wolf. I do not deny that there are crumpled rose leaves in that garden of Eden. There is the question of pictures—that was a very terrible scene which my noble friend presented to us. Then there were the visits of inspectors, which my noble friend resented in a manner which caused me some surprise. There is an inspector who came to see him, whom he mentioned, I think, the Government inspector; then there is the diocesan inspector, whom he did not mention, yet who does, I think, pay visits to the voluntary schools. And then he was afraid of a new inspector to be appointed by the local authority, as to whom he has been reassured by the Minister for Education this evening that the strictest economy will be used in regard to inspectors, and, therefore, we may hope that my noble friend will not be unnecessarily harassed by that 108 inspector. The inspector of the past he cannot do away with, or the impression he has left upon my noble friend's mind, but he will endeavour to guard my noble friend against the depredations of the inspector of the future. The inspector of the past is a pestilent fellow; he goes to my noble friend's school and finds a picture, a descriptive picture, as I understand it, and, not being satisfied with the picture, he orders another at once. He is apt to do the same with the school books and works of history provided. But my noble friend may be at ease. The inspector may change the pictures and books as often as he likes; my noble friend will not have to pay; for the future that will come out of the pocket of the taxpayer and ratepayer, and, even if every inspector brings a new picture and a new book with which to supply the school, they will be supplied subject only to the control of the one-sixth representation of the local authority on the Board of management. That brings me to the question who these managers are, because, after all, that is really the point of capital importance in this Bill. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London described them—I hope by an inadvertence, an ungrateful inadvertence, if I may say so—as Squire Westerns the other day in his speech at the Albert Hall.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
May I interrupt the noble Earl? There was a misapprehension with regard to this in the House of Commons. I was quoting from a letter which I had in my hand, and in which that application was made. I did not make it.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
I am delighted to have given this opportunity to the right rev. Prelate of disclaiming it. It was so unlike his gracious manner in private and public life that I thought there must be something wrong. Because, after all, it is not grateful to those who belong to this class—the former supporters of the voluntary schools, among whom I suppose I may reckon every member of the House I am now addressing—to describe them as Squire Western's. As a squire, I think Squire Western's instincts were sound, but he was apt to express them in somewhat forcible language. Who are the managers who are really to have the control under this popular system?
109 We can tell by looking at the trust deeds. It is apparently a calumny, according to some of the orators we have heard, to accuse the Church of having too much control in matters of this kind. But according to the trust deeds the clergy-man of the parish must be a member, and must be the chairman. And he must be chairman not merely with a vote, but with a casting vote. His curates must be members, he has the right to appoint all his curates, and in certain districts where you have three curates you will have these four managers. That is not really contemplated, I suppose, by the Government in their system of education. What is the constitution, what the electorate of these managers, and what is their tenure of office? On those points I should be very glad to receive some explanation from the Government tonight. They will be elected, I suppose, next year. Every subscriber of a sovereign, I think, according to the trust deeds, has a right to vote. I suppose some precaution will be taken by the Government against subscribing sovereigns for the purpose of getting votes. As far as I know, as the foundation managers are to be elected under the trust deeds, there is no such guarantee that that may not be done. What is the duration of their tenure? It is for life, it is perpetual, there is no limitation, they can go on for ever.
Well, let us see how that works. You have schools to which the Church of England, or the supporters of the Church of England, undoubtedly have contributed large funds, but since the building of those schools the Government grants have been growing until at last the sum contributed by the Government largely out-values the fee-simple of those schools. As years go on, if that system is to continue, that in-equality will increase until at last the original cost of those schools will entirely disappear in the aggregate of the contributions made by the State. Yet these schools will always continue to be governed by two-thirds of the body which found the original sums of money, which have disappeared, and by only one-sixth of the local authority. Do you think this is a state of things that can continue? Do you call it equity, or justice, or common sense? You say this is a national system; I venture to say it is nothing but an ecclesiastical subsidy.
110 I take another question, of which we have heard a great deal to-night, and that is the question of tests. The noble Duke spoke with some justifiable pride of his exertions in the cause of the removal of University tests, but he said this is a case which is widely different. These schools, he said, belong to the Church of England, and it is perfectly right that in the selection of teachers the Church should exact a test. My noble friend must excuse me for saying that these are the very arguments he rebutted so triumphantly thirty years ago. The colleges at Oxford and Cambridge—at Oxford, at any rate—made exactly the same claim, and with even greater justice. They were founded by great prelates, pious Churchmen, yet they pleaded, and in vain, at the knees of my noble friend that they might be allowed to preserve their tests for the Church of England. What is the difference now? I freely admit that in denominational schools, which are maintained mainly by the denomination, there may be as strict a denominational test for the teacher as you can exact; but I am bound to say that when you make these schools national, as far as you can, by the lavish expenditure of public money it is a monstrous claim in these days to make that the headships of these schools shall be closed to the Nonconformists of this country, and to maintain that this is a national system. The noble Viscount said that in a matter of this kind you have to consider the parents. I entirely agree with the remark; there is no part of his speech to which I subscribe so enthusiastically. What means have the Government taken to ascertain the wishes of the parents? Why, they had pressed upon them, when the Bill was in another place, more then one Amendment by which the parents should have been represented on the governing body of managers; they have always rejected them. I venture to say that if you adopt the principle of the noble Viscount and elicit the wishes of the parents in the selection of the managers, you will have gone a long way to settle the question of the denominational schools as regards the country at large.
Now, they say that there is no alternative to their scheme. If we have no 111 alternative, we are in a very bad way, because even so enthusiastic a Churchman as Lord Hugh Cecil expressed in the last stages of the Bill in the House of Commons his misgiving that this Bill would never settle the religious question in this country, and in that view I am able entirely to concur. But are there no alternatives? There is the Scottish system. The noble Lord the Secretary for Scotland says (rather dogmatically) that the system is entirely suited to Scotland, but by no means suited to England. I do not deny that may be the case, but I do say this, that I believe the Nonconformists and all the opponents of this Bill as a mass would infinitely prefer the Scottish system to the plan of this Bill. And why is that? The right rev. Prelate taunted in his good-natured way, or, if that is too strong a word, he reproached, one of the opponents of the Bill with having used language at one time inconsistent with the acceptance of the Scottish system and having turned round to some acceptance of that system. Why was that? Because in the Scottish system there lies the essence of public control, and though the opponents of the Bill have all through as a body disliked and abhorred the application of public money to denominational teaching, yet they would prefer that alternative with popular control to having no popular control at all. Then there is another desperate course, which I admit is an heroic course, and one which noble Lords here would not be prepared to face, because they have nothing to do with finance. But I say frankly, not as an absolute statement, but comparatively, that as compared with the settlement in this Bill I would infinitely rather purchase or rent the schools of the country, or build new schools, so as to recover for the nation the birthright of all nations—its control of its system of education.
Sir Edward Clarke, at the Albert Hall meeting, said, amid frantic applause, that the schools were not for sale. I should be surprised if they were for sale after the passing of this Bill, because their value has been so materially raised by this Bill that they are almost beyond the resources of England to purchase. But I believe that, as compared with this Bill, if you are driven to that last and desperate course—as it is from some points of view—it would be better to purchase, or rent, or build than to keep the schools 112 of this country under ecclesiastical subordination as they will be under this Bill. Then there is a third course. My Lords, you represent yourselves to be—and I am quite sure with truth and with honesty—a party of Imperialists. But let me say that while you are willing to take assistance from the Colonies in time of stress when they are willing to volunteer it, you are not quite so willing to receive the indication of policy which they also show you. The Colonies, young and vigorous countries, have long outstripped you in their educational course. They have shaken themselves loose from this ecclesiastical subordination. If you look all through Australia and Canada you will find a system as different from this as one system could be from another, but which conciliates the principles of liberty with the vital interests of religion. You have scripture lessons with facilities for dogmatic instruction at the beginning and end of the school hours in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, Tasmania, Manitoba, and New Brunswick; and in Ontario the Roman Catholics have accepted that system of education. In Queensland and New Zealand you have a similar system. I am bound to say that, I too, am an Imperialist, but I am an Imperialist all round. I am prepared to take the educational indications given by the Colonies as well as the more material assistance they give us in time of war.
My Lords, that is all I have to say. I am sorry to have detained you so long at this late hour. I confess that it is not with a light heart—though it is with a clear conscience—that I vote against this Bill. There is something intensely saddening in the whole scope of this measure. You might have made it a national measure; you have chosen to make it a Party measure. But what, I confess, is sadder still is the religious aspect of this question. That nineteen centuries after the birth of Christ the Reformed Churches of this country cannot agree among themselves upon a form of religious education which might be taught to children under fourteen years of age is, I think, a grave subject of reflection and meditation to the friends of all those Churches. I re-echo the eloquent eulogy passed upon the clergy of the Church of England by my noble friend Lord Goschen as to their exertions in our great cities. But I would go a little further, and while I remember 113 the exertions of the Church of England, I do not forget those other Christian Churches that vie with her in the work of the reclamation of the wretched. But I maintain that these exertions of the clergy, however meritorious, do not give them the right to control the education of the country. It is for these reasons—that that control is one which prevents the system of education in this country from being national and efficient; that because, in my judgment, the provisions of the Bill with regard to taxation and representation strike a vital blow at one of the most treasured maxims of our Constitution; because you have unsettled a settlement which was, at least, tolerated, which produced peace, while you have produced a plan which can leave nothing but civil war behind it—it is for these reasons that very deliberately and very regretfully, but with the fullest conviction of the truth of the opinions which have been expressed on this side of the House, that I record my vote against this Bill.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
My Lords, at this late hour of the evening I shall not detain you for more than two minutes. There are many things I wish to say on this important question, but I shall postpone them for another occasion. There is, however, one thing which I and it is this. The noble Earl who has just sat down, whenever he speaks delights us with his wit and his eloquence, but I venture to think that the speech he has just made neither advances the solution of the very grave and serious question before the House, nor was it quite worthy of the subject. The noble Earl is fond of scriptural quotations. I will answer him with one. Then has not been a speech made against this Bill which has not proved to demonstration that the question before your Lordships is whether undenominational teaching under the provisions of the Cowper-Temple Clause is, like the lean kine in Joseph's dream, to devour the definite religious system of the denominational bodies. That is the question. Those who have spoken against this Bill will, perhaps, have some respect for the opinion of Mr. Gladstone. How did Mr. Gladstone characterise undenominational education? He said it was a moral monster professing to give what it could not give, and obtaining a position 114 under false pretences. I say that undenominational religion under the provisions of the Conscience Clause is either a denial of Christianity or a sham; and I will prove that when we are in Committee. The question is, are the children of the masses to be brought up as Christians or not? Hand them over to teachers who may believe anything or nothing, and you have cut at the root of all religious education. You say you do not wish to have a definite and distinct religion taught in the schools. Indefinite, undogmatic religion is a sham, and the cause of Christian morality cannot be separated from Christian doctrine. It was not a hazy, indefinite, undogmatic Christianity that created modern civilization; it was definite, distinct Christianity—Christianity founded on the doctrine of the Incarnation, on the belief in the triumphant resurrection of the Eternal Son of God; and it is those two things the most distinguished representatives of the undenominational system in this country wish not to be taught to the children in the board schools. This is not what I consider a perfect Bill, but if I had ever had any intention of voting against it, the speeches delivered on the Opposition side of the House would have made me vote for it with all my heart.
§ THK DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, before I attempt to make any reply to the speech which has just been delivered by the noble Earl who sits below the Gangway, I will give some answer to one or two questions which have been put to His Majesty's Government in the course of this debate. Several speakers, and among them the noble Earl himself, asked questions on the subject of the provisions of the Bill which relate to secondary education, and some complaints have been made—complaints not altogether confined to one side of the House as to the insufficiency of those provisions. Regret has also been expressed that more mandatory instructions are not proposed to be given to the county authorities, imposing on them more strongly the duty of making adequate provision for secondary education. I think noble Lords who have dwelt on that point, rather under-rate the difficulty of laying down any precise instructions by which it would be possible to guide the action of local authorities in the 115 matter. The existing facilities for secondary education, as well as the need for secondary education, vary greatly in different parts of the country, and I think if any noble Lord would try his hand at it, he would find it an extremely difficult task to embody in any Clause of the Bill the instructions which he would consider it necessary to give to the authority. Perhaps with regard to this point I may be allowed to read a paragraph from the Report of the Secondary Education Commission, which was, I think, appointed by the noble Earl. I do not quote this Report as being completely in accordance with the provisions of this Bill. Your Lordships will see that it goes somewhat further than we do.
We conceive"(the Commission state) "experience to have conclusively shown that private enterprise cannot entirely be relied on, and that the duty of seeing that an adequate supply of secondary education is provided must he thrown on a public authority. In our opinion this duty ought to he imposed by statute on each local educational authority, and the Central Office should be empowered to see that the duty is properly fulfilled.Well, my Lords, our Bill certainly contains no provision which will enable the Central Office to compel the local authorities to take action in this matter. The Report continues—To define this obligation, and to say what is to be deemed an adequate supply, is a more difficult task. … It is, in our judgment, safe to leave the working out of the general principle above enunciated to the action of an enlightened public opinion, working both within and from without upon the local authorities, and re-inforced in extreme cases by the action of the central executive. We believe that the occasions for this re-inforcement are likely to be few; and the executive, when it has occasion to use its ultimate right of insisting on the fulfilment of the statute, will be well advised in using (as we believe it will) this right very cautiously, with a large regard to the differences between one locality and another and a perception of the truth "—and these are really the words to which I particularly wish to direct your Lordships' attention—that more can generally be effected by leading local authorities than by attempting to drive them.I quite admit that that recommendation goes a little further in some respects than we have now gone; but I think we have acted, and have been wise in acting, entirely in the spirit of the concluding words of the recommendation. The moderate tone in which the recommendation is couched is all the more remarkable 116 when we recollect that by what seems to have been an extraordinary and not altogether a wise course of action this Commission was composed almost entirely of gentlemen and ladies who were specially and mainly interested in the question of education, and that, with the exception of my right hon. friend Sir John Hibbert, and my hon. friend Mr. Henry Hobhouse, and, I think, one other Member, there were not on the Commission any persons who had had any general experience of either official or local government questions. The Report was therefore almost entirely drawn up by persons actuated, as they would themselves have acknowledged, mainly by their interest in educational questions. I think it is very remarkable that, looking at the composition of that Commission, their recommendation should have been of so moderate a character.
The noble Earl expressed some regret that we had repealed the Technical Instruction Act, and that we had omitted to re-enact some parts of the provision which he considered to be of importance. He first referred to the provision as to religious instruction contained in that Act. They have been re-enacted in the fourth Clause with some modification, and I think that if any one is of opinion that these modifications are in a disadvantageous direction that question may very well be left over for discussion at the Committee stage of the Bill, but the Clauses relating to religious instruction specially remain as they were under the Technical Instruction Act. The noble Lord asks what has become of the Clause which provided for the representation of the local authority on the governing body of assisted institutions. It is quite true that this Bill removes this obligation, but it is perfectly competent for a council, whenever it thinks fit to give aid to any educational institution, to attach such condition as to representation as is considered necessary. In our opinion this will work far better than the rigid rule which was laid down in the Act of 1 889, which, in practice, has been found in its extreme rigidity to be inconvenient in its working. I regretted somewhat to hear last night from the most rev. Prelate, whose speech we all listened to with so much sympathy, some expression of feeling on his part that the treatment of 117 the Church in this Bill had not erred on the side of generosity. I understood the most rev. Prelate to say that he thought it was a poor requital for the educational services rendered by the Church that they should still be made liable for the structural repairs of the voluntary school. I admit that there is a minor question as to the liability for what are called tenant's repairs in contradistinction to those which are called landlord's repairs. That, I think, is not a very large question; but I must remind the most rev. Prelate and the Episcopal Bench that one of the distinct conditions which, on the part of the clergy, the Joint Committee of Convocation put forward and were willing to accept on behalf of the Church, was that they were prepared to offer the authority the use of the school and to undertake the necessary repairs in addition. Therefore, I think it is rather hard that we should now be taunted with want of liberality in having accepted an offer which was freely, and, as far as I know, unconditionally made on their part.
My noble friend Lord Goschen, in the extremely interesting and animated speech which he made last night, expressed some anxiety on the score of the local inspection to which schools would become subject. I do not think that my noble friend need entertain any great anxiety on that score. I think he must have forgotten that the London School Board, and, I believe, the School Boards in other great towns, already have inspectors of their own. So far as I know, no complaint has ever arisen of any friction or inconvenience caused to the school by the action of those inspectors as well as of the inspectors under the Board of Education. It appears to me that these are perfectly distinct functions which may be very usefully discharged by these two sets of inspectors. The inspector of the Board of Education can only inspect as to the general efficiency of the schools; it is not his duty to report on, or to give directions as to the suitability of the school to the district. That, I take it, will be more directly and immediately the province of the local authority's inspector in the cases where they think it necessary to appoint one and use their powers of inspection. It may well be that a school which is perfectly efficient may be found to be, in 118 the opinion of the local authority, of a type not suited to the particular needs of that locality, and the information which would be given to the local authority by its inspector on such a point as that could not, I think, fail to be of value both to the authority and to the managers of the school.
The noble Earl who has just sat down said that we had carefully avoided approaching the subject of what is known as the Kenyon-Slaney Clause. I did not think that it was incumbent on any Member of the Government to approach that subject, because I believe until tonight it has not been mentioned by any speaker in this House.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I regret to say I do not recollect what the noble Earl said about it. I did not catch his observation. All I can say on that subject is, that the interpretation which is placed upon the Clause by the Government and by the legal advisers of the Government, has been fully stated in the other House. If, when we go into committee, that interpretation is questioned, if it is not accepted as being the true meaning of the Clause, it may become necessary, as was indicated by the Attorney General in another place, to consider some Amendments which may make its meaning perfectly clear. Now. my Lords, I come to the attack which has been made by the noble Earl, as well as by others, upon the elementary provisions under the Bill. I think the criticism has almost entirely turned on two points, mainly—the absence of proper control, and what may be called religious tests. It is extremely difficult to separate the question of popular representation on the management of schools from that of the character of the religious instruction to be given in these schools. But they are distinct points, and I shall endeavour to keep them as far as I can separate. The noble Earl in the speeches which he has made elsewhere, and to a great degree in the speech which he has just delivered, has put it on what I may call the arithmetical argument, but I think I can show that that argument is entirely fallacious. I am not sure whether to-night he repeated his rule-of-three sum, but I think in his speech at 119 Edinburgh he adopted from Mr. Asquith the allegation that the Government's rule of arithmetic appeared to be that as eleven was to one, which was the proportion of the Government to voluntary contributions, so was two to four, which was the proportion of representation between the local authority and the denominational managers. Well, my Lords, I say it is not difficult to show that this arithmetical argument is entirely fallacious. On what ground is it contended that the local authority representing the ratepayers are to have a large majority, or a majority at all, upon the management of these schools? Noble Lords do not seem to consider what are the sources from which the maintenance of schools is derived. It is derived from three sources, first from the voluntary subscribers who have provided the schools and who will still have the charge of the necessary repairs. That, I admit, is not a very large, although it will not be an altogether insignificant, portion of the cost of the maintenance of the schools. Next comes the contribution of the State, which is by far the largest part, and, lastly, comes the contribution which is hereafter to be made by the ratepayers. As I said, I think, in my speech yesterday, it is very difficult, in fact it is impossible, to make any accurate calculation of what these relative proportions will be, but I think it may certainly be said that on an average the contributions given by the State from the taxes will amount to something like two-thirds, and the amount contributed by the ratepayers about one-third. What possible claim can there be that the ratepayers should have the complete, or even a preponderating share in the management of these schools? If anyone has a right to be represented on the management of the schools in a majority it is not the ratepayers but the taxpayers.
THE EARL Of ROSEBERY
I never asserted it on behalf of the ratepayers. I asserted it on behalf of the public.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
That is just what I am going to tell the noble Earl. If we are to constitute these boards 120 of management in proportion to the contributions there will be a certain number appointed by the ratepayers, a certain number appointed by the ratepayers, a certain number appointed by the voluntary subscribers, and a certain number appointed by the State, but as it is manifestly impossible that the Board of Education can send representatives to act as managers of every school to the support of which it so liberally contributes, the State must be content with the control which it exercises, which is and will continue to be a very real control, in the inspection it conducts of these schools and in the action which it can take if it thinks necessary on the report of its inspector. I deny altogether that any majority appointed by the ratepayers will adequately represent the interests of the State, of the taxpayer who contributes the greater part of the cost of the maintenance of these schools. It seems to me to follow from this that if the State has a right to a controlling voice in the management of the schools which it does most to support, it also should have a controlling voice in deciding what is to be the character of the instruction given in those schools. If the State is of opinion, as it is at present, as represented by His Majesty's advisers, that in that instruction definite religious teachings should not be excluded, then it appears to me to be incumbent upon those who represent the State in this matter, that they should take precautions to prevent the management of the school being so constituted as to defeat that intention on their part. I have said that it is very difficult to separate the question of popular local representation form the religious question, and I believe it is really impossible, because if we are of opinion that definite religious teaching is not to be excluded from State-supported schools, it is, in my opinion, impossible to see how that object can be accomplished if you are going to give a preponderating representation, which may be—it will not be in all cases but it may be in some—entirely subversive of any such intention. How, if you insist upon a popularly-appointed majority on the Board of Management of every school, are you to secure that the teaching in those schools shall retain a distinctive religious character? The Board of Managers may decide, for example, that the Catechism shall not be taught, 121 and they may abuse their power of appointing the teacher by the appointment, not only of a Nonconformist-but even, if they think fit, of a Roman Catholic teacher in a Church school. I ask, how are we to secure the maintenance of the definite religious teaching for which a school has been founded unless some security is provided in some form or another that the teacher shall be of the faith which the school was founded to further?
The noble Earl said that it was monstrous that in schools which were wholly supported by the State it would be impossible for Nonconformists to become head teachers. It is equally monstrous that it should be possible for a securalist to become head teacher. But if it were possible for Nonconformists to be head teachers, what security is provided for maintaining the definite religious character of the school? If this is your view, you have nothing to do but to propose a provision which shall exclude religious teaching from the schools altogether, or, if you prefer an undenominational system, you have simply to enact that the Cowper-Temple Clause should be applied in future to every school which receives State assistance. But, as I endeavoured to point out in my speech yesterday in moving the Second Reading, noble Lords opposite have never committed themselves to either of those propositions, and I believe many of them to be as opposed as any of us to the establishment of a purely secular system in our schools. I have endeavoured, in vain, to extract from noble Lords opposite, whether they are prepared to say that the teaching in these schools shall, in future, be purely undenominational or not. They have shrunk from any definite declaration on that subject, and it only remains to be seen whether, in Committee, they are prepared to move—and this is a simple way of clearing up the matter—a definite Clause, enacting the Cowper-Temple Clause in every State-assisted school. The noble Earl, at the close of his speech, expressed great admiration for the Scottish system, and indicated that that system might,
§ with advantage, be adopted in this country. He also expressed his approval of the system, which he briefly described, prevailing in some of our Colonies. But I ask the noble Earl whether either the Scottish system or the system which obtains in the Colonies, can be adopted here consistently with the retention of the Cowper-Temple Clause'? I ask the noble Earl whether he is prepared, whether his friends are prepared, or whether the Nonconformists of the country are prepared, to give up the Cowper-Temple Clause as it now exists in every provided school? If they are not so prepared, it is impossible to adopt either of the alternatives which the noble Earl has suggested. Believing as I do that, much as the Nonconformists dislike and distrust the provisions of this Bill, they would still more dislike and distrust any proposal to abrogate that Clause which they consider to be the great protection of their rights, I hold that we should have been very badly advised if we had substituted for our proposals any of the proposals suggested by the noble Earl. Many anticipations have been expressed in the course of this debate as to the probable working of the Bill. Many noble Lords have indulged in something approaching prophecy. I wish it were possible for any of us to feel sure what would be the working of a measure so complex and so full of difficult controversial questions, as any measure on this subject must necessarily be. But if I had to express my opinion of how the Bill is likely to work, I could, with the greatest confidence, say that I share the views expressed by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Winchester, who addressed your lordships tonight with much ability, and most confidently expect that the great portion of the passions and excitement aroused by the Measure will subside at its passing, rather than the views of the noble Earl opposite, who, in language of at least some exaggeration, expressed the opinion that the Measure was going to lead to a civil war.
§ On Question whether "now "shall stand part of the Motion, their Lordships divided:-Contents, 147; Not-Contents, 37.123
|Halsbury (L. Chancellor.)||Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Grafton, D.|
|Devonshire, D. (L. President.)||Bedford, D.|
|Wellington, D.||Halifax, V.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Fingall, L. ((E. Fingall)|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Forester, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Knutsford, V.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Bath. M.||Llandaff, V.||Glanusk, L.|
|Winchester. M.||Peel, V.||Glenesk, L.|
|Zetland, M.||Gormanston, L. (V. Gormanston.)|
|Bath and Wells, L. Bp.|
|Clarendon, E.(L. Chamberlain.)||Carlisle, L. Bp.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)|
|Abingdon, E.||Chichester, L. Bp.||Harris, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Ely, L. Bp.||Herries, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Lichfield, L. Bp.||Hillingdon, L.|
|Belmore, E.||Lincoln, L. Bp.||Hothfield, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||London, L. Bp.||James, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Manchester, L. Bp.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)|
|Dartmouth, E.||Newcastle, L. Bp.||Kenyon, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||Rochester, L. Bp.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)|
|Doncaster, E.(D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||St. Asaph, L. Bp.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Egerton, E.||Truro, L. Bp.||Lawrence, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Winchester, L. Bp.||Lindley, L.|
|Feversham, E.||Ludlow, L.|
|Howe, E.||Addington, L.||Macnaghten L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Allerton, L.||Manners, L.|
|Lindsey, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Middleton, L.|
|Londesborough, E.||Ashcombe, L.||Montagu of Beaulieu L.|
|Lucan, E.||Balfour, L.||Mount Stephen, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Barnard, L.||Muncaster, L.|
|Manvers, E.||Barrymore, L.||Newton, L.|
|Morley, E.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.||North, L.|
|Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Belper, L.||Northbourne, L.|
|Nelson, E.||Braybrooke, L.||O'Brien, L.|
|Northbrook, E.||Bray, L.||Rathmore, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Redesdale, L.|
|Romney, E.||Brougham and Vaux, L.||Robertson, L.|
|Saint Germans, E.||Burton, L.||Rowton, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Calthorpe, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Shaftesbury, E.||Carew, L.||Seaton, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Castlemaine, L.||Shand, L.|
|Tankerville, E.||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)||Sherborne, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Chelmsford, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Verulam, E.||Clifford and Chudleigh, L.||Stalbridge, L.|
|Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]||Colchester, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Wharneliffe, E.||Congleton, L.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Tenterden, L.|
|Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Crawshaw, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)||Torphichen, L.|
|Falkland, V.||De Manley, L.||Tweeddale L. (M. Tweeddale.)|
|Falmouth, V.||Dunboyne, L.||Windsor, L.|
|Goschen, V.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)||Zouche of Haryngworth, I.|
|Northampton, M.||Hereford, L. Bp.||Heneage, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Aberdare, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Botreaux, L. (E. Loudown)||Reay, L.|
|Chesterfield, E. [Teller.]||Boyle, L. (E. CorkandOrrery.)||Ribblesdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Crewe, E.||Brassey, L.||Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)|
|Durham, E.||Burghelere, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Coleridge, L.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde)|
|Portsmouth, E.||Davey, L.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|Rosslyn, E.||Denman, L.||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Russell, E.||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)||Wandsworth, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Welby, L.|
|Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen.)||Farrer, L.|
|Hampden, V.||Headley, L.|
§ Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Tuesday next.124
§ House adjourned at half-past Twelve o'clock a.m., to Monday next a quarter before Eleven o'clock.