§ Order of the day for the Third Reading read.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 3a."—(The Lord President.)
My Lords, I rise to make a last and strenuous protest against the principle of this measure. I do not propose to go over the ground covered in the long and, I think, able debates on the Second Reading and in Committee. I only wish to show why I still feel opposition to the Bill. I wish to acknowledge the patience, ability and candour with which the noble Duke has conducted the Bill in this House. But I think it was my noble friend Lord Rosebery who spoke of the "adamantine front" presented by the noble Duke, and I feel that nothing has pierced that front. Not a single Amendment has been granted to those who agree with me. The Bishop of Hereford, who I think everybody will admit is a great educationist, and has shown great breadth of view, liberality, and, I will venture to say, courage in the course he has taken in this House, has also proposed some excellent and reasonable Amendments, but has been unable to break through that adamantine rock. There are various points on 1110 which I think this Bill will have a prejudicial effect. There is the dissolution of the School Boards, and, with it, the destruction of the special election of skilled educationists. There is the very delusive character, as I think it, of the education authority in the towns and the counties, by which a very important principle, to my mind, has been put in jeopardy and, in fact, sacrificed—namely, the popular representation of the people on the education bodies. I contend that the whole tendency of the Bill will be to throw the management of education from the representatives directly elected by the people to committees greatly made up of co-opted members.
I wish also to refer to what I said in my speech on the Second Reading in regard to a subject which I still think contains the crux of the whole matter, and on which rests the chief opposition to the Bill in many quarters. I allude to the constitution of the boards of managers of voluntary schools. With regard to this point my noble friend Lord Rosebery criticised some remarks which the noble Duke made at the end of the debate on the Second Reading, and he and the noble Duke had a very spirited, able, and acute discussion upon it. The noble Duke referred to what he considered the rights of the State in this matter, and, with his candour, admitted that the Government thought it necessary to secure by the way they dealt with the managers in these voluntary schools religious instruction in them. I venture to differ from the noble Duke in what he said. The noble Duke pointed out that two-thirds of the cost of these voluntary schools would fall on the Exchequer, and about one-third upon the rates, and he therefore claimed that the State should have a predominant position on the boards of management. Well, my Lords, I agree with the noble Duke in saying that the State should have, probably, a majority in the management of these schools, but I entirely differ from him in regard to the way in which he obtains that majority, and also from the reasons for it. What Lord Rosebery said was that the taxpayers should be represented. The noble Duke said:— "How could the Exchequer be represented except by 1111 means of inspectors?" That is an argument which I do not agree with. Inspectors are appointed not only for education, but for many other things. There are inspectors of manufactories, of mines, and of other institutions. They are appointed, not because the State contributes towards those manufactories, but to protect women and children, and the other workers. I agree that the State should also have inspectors in regard to education, because it is necessary to see that proper education is given and that something like the same standard of education is maintained in different parts of the country. But I do not for one moment agree that this is the only way in which the State could be represented. I agree with Lord Rosebery that the taxpayer should be represented. The noble Duke said that could not be. Who are the people to whom we wish to give representation upon these education authorities? We wanted to give the electors the power of choosing the majority, if not the whole, of those who are to constitute these education authorities. And who represent the electors? The ratepayers. And who are the ratepayers? They are not only those who pay rates, but they are also taxpayers, and represent both interests in this matter. Then the noble Duke said the State—and in speaking of the State here he referred to the existing Government with its enormous majority—had a right to see that certain principles were maintained, and the only way of doing that was to secure a majority of the whole of the managers on these boards. I differ from that entirely. I maintain that these schools, in future, will become State schools. I am not going into the question, of what remains. I believe there is remaining a little residue of power to teach denominational religion in the schools. I maintain that the State should be independent of the voluntary teaching in religion, and it is not part of the duty of the State to pay for religious teaching in the schools. Then there is the question of the disqualification of the head teacher, which has led to great dissatisfaction in the country. You give protection to the assistant teacher and the pupil teacher 1112 with regard to their religion, but you omit the head teacher altogether.
We hear a great deal as to the question of settlement. My complaint is that the Government have lost an opportunity of having a national settlement of the question. The settlement which they propose will only be a temporary one, so far as I know. I think the noble Viscount opposite said the other night that when another election came it would not be likely that the whole of this settlement would stand. I think there will be considerable objection to what has been proposed, and that the country will be disturbed by bickerings. I wish the Government had by a broad, wide, and comprehensive measure, settled this question for a long time to come. Nothing appears more clear than this, that the Government have proposed this Bill as a compromise, as a sort of concordat, between themselves and the Church. Having a number of voluntary schools under me, no doubt I shall benefit by the Bill; but I deeply regret that additional money has been asked for inconsistent with the dignity of the Church. There is one other great defect, and that is the deception with regard to the creation of one authority. The Bill in this respect has given satisfaction neither to the partisans of denominational education nor to the other side. It fails to establish a national, system of education, which is so important, and the Government have thus lost a golden opportunity of meeting the difficulty. I deeply regret that the Bill should become law. I protest against it. I fear that it will warp the education of the country and the momentous efforts which have been made to improve it, and I also fear that it will greatly increase religious animosity. I can only say that I hope I may be wrong, but as far as my humble endeavours will go, regarding the Bill as wrong in principle, and prepared as I am, if I have the opportunity, to reverse in Parliament some of its obnoxious principles, I for one shall try to work it, as long as the law of the land is not altered, so as to bring it into a state of useful utility for the purpose of spreading education In the country.
*THE LORD BISHOP OF NEWCASTLE
My Lords, the position which those who sit on this Bench occupy is so unique and so different from that of the rest of your Lordships in reference to this Bill, that I trust the House will allow me to make a few observations in respect to what has fallen from the noble Earl. It seems to me there are two features of this Bill which are not necessarily controversial, and which both mark a very distinct educational advance. The first is that you have for the first time one authority set up in certain areas with power to co-ordinate primary and secondary education. Now, in reference to this authority it does seem to me that for the first time we have come to something like terra firma, because I cannot imagine, whatever changes may afterwards be made in reference to this Bill, or in reference to education, that the County Councils and the County Borough Councils will ever really lose the power which is given to them by this Bill. It seems to me you have a distinct principle that those who are elected for the purpose of dealing with the rates shall make the rates for education as well as for other purposes. Here you have a distinct principle laid down, and the only regret that I feel personally is that a concession has been made to small boroughs with populations exceeding 10,000 and to urban districts which have a population exceeding 20,000, a concession which seems to me in some respects to mar the efficiency of the Bill. But, with this exception, the principle seems to me to be a sound one. The areas are, on the whole, sufficiently large, and 1 have not a shadow of a doubt that this marks a very distinct educational advance.
The second principle of the Bill, which in my opinion also marks an advance, is the fact that you have now for the first time an authority which deals with all the public elementary schools in the area, and deals with them as a whole. Hitherto we have had schools under voluntary managers and schools under School Boards, and the only sort of unity that has been given to them has been given j by a control from Whitehall; but in future there will be an authority in each area capable of dealing with these schools as a whole, and capable, I venture to 1114 think, of adapting them to the wants of the various localities. It is only when we come to the third principle of the Bill that we come really to what is keenly controversial ground. The third principle, as I take it, of this Bill is that it is one for bringing the voluntary schools into a national system without disturbing their basis and with adequate guarantees. Now, I know perfectly well that I am speaking of two points which are eminently and keenly controversial, but it does seem to me, in thinking this matter out, absolutely essential to separate them. Are you agreed on the first point—that is, without disturbing their basis? Because, if you consider this point the question is—How are you going to treat the voluntary schools? Are you going to rob them, are you going to ignore them, or are you going to come to terms with them? The noble Earl Lord Beauchamp said the other night that considerable grants had been made by Parliament for the building of these schools, and he said so with perfect truth. But none of these grants, which amount to £1,800,000, were made subsequent to the year 1870. The value of these buildings is something like £25,000,000, and I ask your Lordships if you do not think, even it every single voluntary school were closed tomorrow, the State would have had a good bargain in securing, in return for those grants, the use of these schools for all these years for secular and religious education.
If you are not prepared to steal or ignore the voluntary schools, in which case the House of Commons would have to go to the country for an enormous sum, you must be prepared to come to terms with them, and, after all, there must be two parties to the bargain. It is impossible, therefore, for Parliament to propose conditions which the other party to the bargain would absolutely refuse to accept. We then come to the question of what really the voluntary schools are prepared to accept. There are two ways in which it was possible to preserve the denominational schools as denominational schools, and either of these courses might have been adopted by His Majesty's Government. It was quite open to the Government to say: 1115 We will give you statutory protection for your school; we will give you the protection, for instance, of having a headmaster or headmistress satisfactory to the denomination of the school; we will give you protection for the denominational teaching which shall be given within the school; we will give you ample protection so that your school shall not be handed over, by a mere snap majority, to the local authority, and, having done this, we will impose larger popular control. It was quite open to His Majesty's Government to have made some sort of proposal of this kind, and I should have preferred some such proposal myself. I am not in the least afraid of popular management, and if there had been something of the nature of statutory protection, I for one would have been quite willing to have assented to an arrangement by which half the managers should have been popularly elected. But it was no use making such a proposal when I knew perfectly well that I was in a minority in my own body in reference to this matter, and voluntary schools generally would not have accepted it. Therefore, in the circumstances, I naturally had to fall in with what seemed to be the second best proposal— namely, the one made by His Majesty's Government, by which there is a preponderance of foundation managers, but a sufficient number of other managers to give a guarantee that the public money will be properly spent.
If you are determined to have denominational teaching you must do one of these two things, and if you cannot do the first you must do the second, and in that case it seems to me hardly fair to criticise the Government for not giving additional popularly-elected managers. When I know the great control that has been exercised hitherto by Whitehall, and when I look at the further control that will now be exercised by the local education authority, I cannot conceive what more is needed in order to insure the right dispensing of public money, whether from the rates or from the taxes. The strain upon the voluntary schools has been and is so serious that I and others on this Bench have had the greatest anxiety lest our schools should have to 1116 be given up. We have given our vote on the wear-and-tear Amendment as a protest against what appears to us to be not a quite equitable feature of the Bill. The noble Earl has almost charged this Bench with a breach of faith in reference to the wear-and-tear Amendment, but the noble Duke in charge of the Bill will, I am sure, acquit the representatives of the Church of any such charge, for he himself said he was perfectly well aware that the resolution of the two Convocations referred to structural repairs. What the Convocations implicitly agreed to was that the structural repairs should fall entirely on the managers, but they presumed that maintenance and wear-and-tear repairs would fall upon the local education authorities. With reference to fees and endowments given for the general use of the school, I think the equitable arrangement is that they should be divided between the managers, who have the up-keep of the school, and the local authority which has to pay the teaching, staff.
As to what is known as the Kenyon-Slaney Amendment, with regard to which we have felt much anxiety, we are grateful to His Majesty's Government for the clear way in which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has guarded the right of appeal in the case of schools which have trust-deeds. We only regret that they have not seen their way to extend this appeal to other schools which are absolutely denominational, and where, by some accident, or owing to ignorance of what was coming, no such appeal is-actually stated in terms. With reference, to what the noble Duke said about the bishops not having controlled certain practices of the clergy, I would point out that in certain parishes there are no trustees of the schools, and in many of the trust deeds no appeal to the Bishop is given. We further desired, if possible, that this appeal should be extended so as to apply not only de doctrina but de person.At the same time, I wish to say that I am not in the least afraid of the Clause as it stands. I believe it will not work badly, and I am prepared to accept the decision of Parliament in the matter. If I were to resume the duties of a parish clergyman, I would rather give 1117 religious instruction with the good will of the managers, one or two of them possibly Nonconformists, than give it under a trust deed which no layman had seen. Provided the clergy will throw themselves on the confidence of the people with whom they are working, they will find that the Clause will not work badly after all.
I am much mistaken if the ultimate judgment of the people in England in this educational controversy will not depend less upon the soundness or unsoundness of the rival theories than upon the moral tone of those who are parties to the controversy in the treatment of the children. If the managers of Voluntary Schools are going to take umbrage at the conditions which have been imposed on them and to close their schools to the public; or if the County Councils are going to give a sullen acquiescence to the limitations imposed upon them in the Bill; or if the Nonconformists, in their very natural disappointment at their failure to secure an undenominational system of education, are going to attempt to wreck this Bill when it becomes law, then I believe that the ultimate judgment of this country will condemn a recklessness that mistakes prejudice for argument and self-will for law. If. on the other hand, the managers of voluntary schools are determined, despite untoward conditions which they little expected, to throw themselves upon the confidence of their people and do their very utmost to make the Bill work well; if the County Councils are determined to appoint their best men on these committees, recognising that there is nothing more important entrusted to them than this measure of education; if these men are willing to give their time, their skill, and their experience in the service of the State, and if our Nonconformist friends are determined, despite their disappointment, to endeavour to work the Bill loyally and so to win the approbation of the country for, perhaps, a further measure of popular management and control, then I am persuaded that, whatever the future of education in this country, this Bill will mark a very important epoch in educational progress in England. It is because I have these better hopes and because I believe that all parties will, despite the divisions of the past, endeavour, when this Bill becomes law, to give it a fair trial, that I, 1118 for one, before the measure leaves your Lordships' House, desire to wish it Godspeed.
*THE EARL OF MOUNT EDGCUMBE
I cannot help regretting that the right rev. Prelate did not express his views as to the importance of giving a right of appeal to denominational schools in whose trust deed no such appeal is actually provided, when I moved my Amendment on the subject which was received with such discouraging silence.
My Lords, I do not rise to repeat what has been already said, and better said, by others on previous stages of the Bill, but I do wish before it leaves us to point out one or two practical matters with regard to its probable working which I think have not received as much attention as might, perhaps, have been expected. I shall not go into the general subject of the Bill itself, beyond saying this, that I think the debates which have taken place upon it have not disgraced the traditions of the House. They have shown on both sides the utmost fairness of thought and of speech, and they have not degenerated into anything unworthy of the speeches and discussions in this House in the past. Distance of place produces somewhat the same effect as distance of time, and I think that those who, like myself, have, un-unfortunately, lived long out of England, when they come back and find themselves unable to belong to any Party at all, sometimes see things a little more than most men as those a hundred years hence will see them; and I believe that the historian of the future, describing this debate and the discussions on this Bill, would come to this conclusion, that, on the one hand, His Majesty's Government have made an honest and fair attempt to settle this great and difficult question—whether they be right or wrong is another matter—and that, on the other hand, those noble Lords who have conducted the opposition to the Bill, though I do not think they have proved their case against it, have proved that it is a measure that will not finally settle this great question. It is, I believe, a measure of suspense, one which may make the way for a more complete settlement, but not one which we can expect to be permanent or enduring.
1119 But my object in rising was to call attention to some practical points in the Bill, and especially to that Clause which has been most debated and most discussed. The right rev. Bench appeared to be well satisfied with the Amendment passed in this House on the motion of the Lord Chancellor. I confess I regret that that Clause was introduced at all. I regret it, not on denominational grounds, but on grounds of a very much wider and larger scope. I regret it because I venture to think that it is always a mistake, and generally a misfortune, when measures of a far-reaching character intended to be permanent and affecting large numbers of men, are brought in for a temporary purpose, and with the intention of affecting comparatively few. Measures of that kind seldom succeed. Fifty years ago, an arrogant and tactless act on the part of the Pope led to a fury throughout the country, and caused the enactment of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act. Passed by enormous majorities both in this and the other House, that Act was repealed twenty years later without a single voice being raised in its favour. So, at a later period, the Public Worship Regulation Bill was brought in with the avowed intention of crushing a particular party in the Church. That Act has not been repealed. It exists still on the Statute-book, but it exists as a melancholy monument of impotent and futile legislation. I fear that this Clause in its inception had an object very similar, for we have been told by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack with—shall I say, robust frankness—that the Clause was intended entirely to check the excesses of certain self-willed and self-conceited individuals. The right rev. Bench seem to be extremely pleased with the appeal which has been granted to them. I doubt whether it will prove of the value they expect, and I doubt it for several reasons. In the first place, I think the House is hardly aware how very limited that appeal is. We all know that it does not apply to cases of schools which have no trust deeds, but, what is not so well known is that it will not apply to a large number of those schools which have trust deeds. I know, that in the Diocese with which I am best acquainted—the Diocese of Oxford—
1120 out of the number of schools having trust deeds only a very small proportion of them give an appeal to the Bishop. I find that the trust deed generally gives the religious superintendence to the clergymen of the parish, but does not mention the direct appeal to the Bishop. Therefore, I think the appeal will only apply to a comparatively limited number of cases.
But to go beyond that, I say that the appeal, though useful as a means of punishment, ceases to be of the smallest value as a means of protection. If the managers make complaint of the teaching in the school, and an appeal is made to the Bishop, and the Bishop agrees that the teaching is objectionable, then, I admit, your appeal carries weight, and the clergyman is excluded without remedy But suppose it is the other way. Suppose the appeal is made by the clergyman, and the Bishop thinks the appeal was rightly made, and that the clergyman was in the right, he has no means of enforcing that decision, and I think we all know what, in a country parish, will be the action of the four fat farmers on the board of management who are now to take the control of religious education. They will say, "Oh! the Bishop thinks the parson's teaching is right. Well, we don't." And the Bishop has no power to make them readmit the parson to the school. As a punitive weapon against the clergy the Bill may be valuable, but as a preventative of abuse on the part of managers it is not. Again, there is a great evil likely to result from that appeal. The appeal is a final appeal, and the Bishop is empowered by it to state what is, and what is not, the doctrine of the Church of England. Now that seems to me very much to foment a dangerous tendency of setting up, as it were, an aggregation of dioceses instead of one Church of England. I say that there is already a tendency in that direction, because I think that the Government of the country, whether the present Government or any other Government, have always a great temptation to appoint to a diocese as its Bishop someone who is in harmony with the teaching and with the ideas of the Bishop who preceded him. It is a very natural and right feeling, but, at the same time, it does 1121 tend to foster a separate school of thought in each diocese and to keep them permanently different. That, it seems to me, will be rather accentuated by these appeals on the question of doctrine. We shall not hear a uniform voice, and that which is approved at Lincoln may be condemned at Liverpool; what is orthodox at Rochester may be heterodox at Carlisle. On the legal point, I do not know what force those decisions may have, but if the decision given is supposed tobe final as to what the doctrine of the Church of England is, I think the lawyers will be busy, for the right rev. Prelates will certainly not all agree. These seem to me to be practical difficulties in the way of working the Clause.
There will be one other practical result of the Clause. We have heard a good deal of Nonconformists' grievances. We are told that the grievances of the Nonconformists are those to which we should specially attend. Well, then, I would say that there is one class of Nonconformists whom this Clause most prejudicially affects—I mean His Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects. Up to this time Roman Catholic schools have received large grants from the State for the education given in their schools. If the Clause is carried out in its entirety, if the religious teaching in Roman Catholic schools is committed to a body of whom the majority are laymen, and two of whom need not be Roman Catholics at all, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for those schools to accept any grant whatever, and they will have established a very real grievance on their part. I will end by re-echoing the hope expressed by the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition, that when the Bill has become law all parties will consent to work so as to make it succeed.
*THE LORD BISHOP OF ROCHESTER
My Lords, as one who did not trouble your Lordships with any remarks on the Second Reading, perhaps I may be allowed a few moments now for a perfectly definite purpose. I think that on all sides it must be admitted that this debate has been conducted with great courtesy and consideration for opponents, and certainly we on this Bench, have nothing to complain of in that 1122 respect. But the same thing cannot, I think, be said of the controversy outside. One charge aimed at the Episcopal Bench and those whom we represent has been urged in an especially offensive manner; the Bill has been described as stained with avarice and the expression "shameless greed" has been used. That charge, although it has never come up in this House, has, I think, certainly tinctured some of the remarks that have fallen from noble Lords. That such things should be attributed to the leaders of a religious body and that they should not even seem to care to reply would not be altogether good for the religious life of the country. Nobody, I suppose, would impute to the Bishops or the clergy a personal avarice in this matter, though I have seen a paper which apparently suggests that in some way the incomes of the clergy would be relieved or benefited by the passing of the Bill. Were it said that we were avaricious for our institution, it would not, of course, be enough to reply that we were conscientious in the policy which we have urged, as that might be said of many fanatical and misguided persons in different periods of history. But what we do say, plainly and publicly, is that we conscientiously believe that what we have asked and pressed for is consistent with those broad principles of liberty and justice as to which we stand on the same plane with our fellow-citizens.
Our position is that, in a State where religious opinion is greatly divided, it is best, and fairest for the State frankly to acknowledge that division, and to provide within the area of its educational system for the various forms of conviction held. Why is there any difficulty about this? I find that we are met by certain opinions which are represented as political axioms. We are told, first, that no denominational institution or agency is entitled to any assistance from the State. That is a highly disputable proposition. The Church takes her stand on common denominational grounds, not on the ground of her establishment. Then we are told that undenominationalism is, or ought to be, satisfactory to everybody. It has always been very strange to me to suppose for a moment that by slicing across and selecting certain portions of 1123 men's deepest and most sacred convictions a residue can be obtained which is to be satisfactory to everybody. The noble Lord, the Chairman of the London School Board, in a speech which, if I may venture to offer an impertinent comment, was, I think, the weightiest made against the Bill, drew for us a picture in very concrete language of what undenominationalism was. He showed us how he and his colleagues desired to work it, and he brought us some interesting illustrations. I think the noble Lord would admit that it would not be necessary to go far into the utterances of those with whom the noble Lord is associated to find other definitions of undenominationalism. I find a description of it in which the Bible is to be used merely for literary and ethical purposes, and that use is defended in an apologetic kind of way. I recently read a very interesting report upon the educational system of another country whose history seems to me to be extremely impressive and edifying in this respect—I mean Holland. There was a system there which called itself Christian and also neutral, and where the neutrality was more self-evident than the Christianity which the noble Lord told us was included in the undenominationalism which he defends. As a matter of fact, undenominationalism does not satisfy us nor does it satisfy Roman Catholics and other religious bodies. It I say that I am quite aware that I tread on doubtful and debateable ground, it satisfies Nonconformists.
One noble Lord opposite reminded the House that Nonconformists have, many of them, as strong denominational convictions as we have. I certainly should not attempt to combat that. But need we go into generalities on the matter? May I not confine myself to this statement, which I do not think admits of contradiction, namely, that after the Act of 1870, which established the undenominational system, the Nonconformists were at least so far satisfied with that system that, as a matter of fact, they gave up their schools; whereas the Church was so plainly dissatisfied with it, that she made considerable and self-sacrificing efforts to keep her schools going against the pressure of a competition which became every year more and more acute. I am quite aware—I should never 1124 attempt to dispute it—that secondary motives have assisted that effort on the part of the Church, and that some of what has been done has been due to an endeavour to keep out the rate in country parishes; but that, at any rate, does not apply to the efforts made in the towns where the rate has been all the while in full swing. The great efforts which the clergy in slum parishes have made to keep their schools going are a testimony to the importance which they set on denominational education. It does seem to me to be unfair that it should be laid against a body of men who hold the opinions we do that we are grasping, avaricious, greedy, shameless and the rest. In regard to more than one particular proposal, it has been said that the Church, or the Bishops, were not content with the very considerable advantages they were getting under this Bill, but were straining for more. All I have to say is that if a thing is to be done, it had better be done really and effectively. The Bill attempts to keep the voluntary schools in existence. If it does not succeed in that effort it will not be to the credit of the statesmanship of His Majesty's Government, and it will be to their disappointment. As a matter of fact, what was proposed in the Bill was not what we as representing the Church had said to be necessary for the purpose. I want to make it perfectly clear that what we on our part thought to be necessary for the help of the schools was not what the Government proposed. These are the terms of the Resolution passed by the two Convocations last year—That all schools be financed as far as the cost of maintenance, exclusive of repairs of the structure of voluntary schools, is concerned, out of public funds, whether Imperial or local.His Majesty's Government found, as they thought, that they could not give so great a relief as that. The relief which they proposed to give to the voluntary schools was not so great as had been asked for, and it is not surprising, therefore, that Churchmen should be glad to see the lacuna filled up in part in any reasonable way. This was the motive which induced my right rev. brother the Bishop of Manchester to move his Amendment, and if it is acknowledged that the general position is honourable, 1125 and that the policy is one which ought to be carried through successfully, I do not see why the epithets I have quoted should be used. the noble Earl the Leader of Opposition has told the House that he hopes the bill will be a great relief to him as an owner of schools in point of money.
*THE LORD BISHOP OF ROCHESTER
At any rate, I would not advise the noble Earl to build too confidently on that relief. I do not know how the County Council of Northamptonshire will behave, but I shall not be at all surprised if the demands of the local education committee for repairs of the buildings will make him find that his net advantage will not be so great as he either hopes for fears. It is for this reason that I desire to accept the bill as a very important vindication of what I will call the denominational principle in education, that method of justice and freedom in religious matters which an acknowledgment of the denominational principle implies. It is not, of course, the only way in which you can acknowledge and vindicate the denominational principle. You might have another system altogether, and that system has sometimes been described in rather glowing language as a broad, national system, in which you would give to all denominations the right of coming in in their own time and at their own cost, and giving instruction. But as regards any system of that kind the door for the time being has been shut, if not slammed, by noble Lords who sit opposite. An alternative method of recognising denominational rights cannot be adopted until noble Lords opposite, and those whom they represent, are so far converted from the principle of universal and intolerant undenominationalism, as to be ready to open the way to something of the kind.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (The Duke of DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, I have in the first place to express my acknowledgment of the extremely fair manner in which the noble Earl opposite referred to the discussions 1126 which have taken place in this House, and also to the assurance which he gave of his desire that the measure when it passes into law will receive a fair trial, and that it may realise the anticipations formed of it. I wish, however, that language as moderate and conciliatory as that employed by the noble Earl had been used by some of his colleagues in debate. I think that we have heard other utterances which pointed, not to any attempt to make the best of a measure which they did not approve, but to an attempt to make the Bill unworkable. The noble Earl complained of the attitude which has been assumed by the Government with reference to the Amendments which have been moved in Committee, and he also complained of what he described as the adamantine front which I had opposed to them. I do not know whether the noble Earl has carefully considered what these Amendments have been. If the noble Earl will scrutinise these Amendments, I think he will find that either they have related to points of comparative detail, to which he cannot attach any very great importance, or to such points as were utterly inconsistent with the principle and main object of the Bill. I have here the list of divisions taken in Committee. Among the divisions are those which receive the support of the noble Lords opposite, and which have been of an important character. Lord Beauchamp proposed to make the provision of secondary education compulsory. The noble Earl opposite has made it a subject of complaint that we did not accept that Amendment. I do not think that we could have accepted it—I do not think he could even have desired that we should have accepted it—because it imposed on the County Councils the duty of at once framing a scheme for the provision of secondary education throughout their area.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
But I doubt whether, if we had proposed it, the noble Earl would have supported the proposal to impose upon the County Council of Northamptonshire without delay the provision of a complete system of secondary education. Next there was the Conscience Clause for scholars in 1127 boarding schools. I conceive that some noble Lords opposite may attach importance to it, but it is a question of detail rather than of principle. The next important Amendment was moved by the Bishop of Hereford, in which he proposed to reverse the proportions of the foundation and popularly appointed managers. That comes under the category to which I referred of Amendments that were absolutely subversive of the principle of the Bill, for the principle of the Bill, as I have endeavoured to impress on your Lordships, is that schools having a definite denominational character should be maintained and retained, and some security should be taken for their retention. The proposal would have been absolutely subversive of any idea of security to such a body. Then the right rev. Prelate proposed to abolish the use of tests in the case of head teachers. It is difficult to see how a school can retain its distinctive religious character if it is within the option of an undenominational majority to appoint a teacher of a different religious belief, or of no religious belief at all. The noble Earl next complained that the Bill destroyed the School Boards and substituted education committees in the management, not only of non-provided, but of existing provided schools. But I must point out to the noble Earl that so little importance did he or his friends attach to this provision of the Bill that they did not even move an Amendment on the subject and, with the exception of the noble Earl's speech in moving the rejection of the Bill, we, have heard very little objection taken to the substitution of municipal authorities for specially elected School Boards. The noble Earl referred to the controversy between Lord Rosebery and myself as to inadequate popular representation on the management of the denominational schools. What I said, and what I am prepared to adhere to, is that the fact that the ratepayers of a district contribute one-third of the cost of maintenance of a school does not confer on the ratepayers any right to a dominant share in the management of the school. I still think that mainly the schools being maintained by the taxpayers, it is they, and not the ratepayers, who contribute only an extremely small part of the cost of maintenance, who have a right to the predominant influence in the management of the school.
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
Let me ask the noble Duke, for the last time— Are not the ratepayers taxpayers?
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
They are, but they do not represent the whole of the taxpayers. The larger share of the cost of maintenance of these schools is contributed by the income-taxpayers and the other payers of Imperial taxes, whom the ratepayers have no claim to represent. It is Parliament alone that can represent these taxpayers, and it is the bounden duty of Parliament on their behalf to exercise a predominant influence in the constitution of the body which is to have the management and control of the schools. The Bishop of Newcastle expressed regret that the Government had not been able to concede an appeal to the Bishop in all cases; and, in reference to what I said about the Bishops not having controlled certain practices of the clergy, he pointed out that in certain parishes there were no trustees of the schools, and in many of the trust deeds no appeal to the Bishop was given. But what I pointed out was that in our opinion a Bishop ought to be able to exercise a controlling influence over his clergy altogether distinct from any formal powers of decision which might be conferred upon him within the terms of a trust deed. What we and many have felt has been that a comparatively small minority of the clergy have carried on or tolerated practices in the schools which most of us regret, and which I think members of the episcopate regret, and that the Bishops have been either unwilling or unable to exercise such influence over those members of their Church as would have sufficed to put a stop to these practices. And seeing the very little influence which in some of these cases the Bishops have been able to exercise, I do not think it was unreasonable that we should have some doubt about conferring on the Bishops the power to decide whether a certain clergyman should or should not be the sole person entrusted with the management of religious education. Before this discussion closes I should like to point out the feature which has most struck me in it, and that is the entire absence during the whole of these debates of any alternative plan or suggestion of a plan 1129 likely to meet with any amount of support from any considerable body of opinion, or unlikely to lead to resistance and objection equal to that which has been offered to our proposals. When I speak of a plan, I do not, of course, refer to a plan embodied in an Act of Parliament. I refer to the utter absence of any basis for a plan.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
To introduce a larger popular representative basis into our plan would entirely subvert it. Noble Lords opposite have never indicated to us on what basis they would themselves propose to deal with this question. The only suggestion of an alternative policy which we have heard, either in this House or the other, has been that embodied in the Amendment moved in this House by Lord Lytton and in the other House by Lord Hugh Cecil. In the other House it received the support of a very small minority, although its principle was favourably received by the Prime Minister. It was opposed by the great majority of the supporters of the Government and also by the leaders of the Opposition. In this House it met with a reception of a different character. It enlisted the support of a very much larger proportion of Conservatives; but here, as in the other House, it was resisted by noble Lords opposite with only one exception. The one recruit which the proposal obtained in this House was Lord Rosebery, who gave to it a qualified support. But it is extremely doubtful how far it would have been possible for the right rev. Prelates and the lay Lords on these Benches to go in support of such a proposal with the noble Earl. Those who voted in favour of the proposal on this side of the House regarded it as an addition to the Bill. But the noble Earl, I conceive, only voted for it as a substitution for our Bill and not as an addition to it. A complete and satisfactory substitute for our proposals had never been suggested by any body of political opinion. The position of the regular Opposition is that they have confined themselves entirely, I will not say to misrepresentation of 1130 our measure, but at all events to destructive criticism. We have before us an Opposition which, as far as we can judge from their speeches, are still hankering after a universal undenominational system. But, if that is their opinion, they have never challenged the opinion either of this House or of the other House on that solution. The only basis of a constructive character which has been suggested in either House of Parliament is the one to which I have alluded. It has been rejected by an enormous majority in the other House, and is only supported by a Party here which is far from being united. I maintain, therefore, that we have only criticism of a destructive character to meet; there is no question before your Lordships of a rival policy. What is the objection which is taken to our proposal? It is that a new grievance has been created by this Bill—a grievance affecting the ratepayers generally, and the Nonconformist ratepayers especially.
It is not a new grievance. It is a grievance aggravated by the circumstance of the enormous increase of the grant.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
The grievance consists in the fact that a certain addition to the public provision for Church schools—it is a short word for denominational schools, and I use it to include all denominational schools—is not to be accompanied by a grant to the ratepayers of a predominant influence in the management of these schools. I say such a grievance has not been created by this Bill; and it is not aggravated by this Bill. For thirty years past these schools have been mainly maintained from public sources. They have been maintained to such an extent that, as we have been told by the Bishop of London and by the Bishop of Manchester, the Government grants have, in the case of many schools in the large towns, more than covered the whole of the cost of maintenance other than that of internal repairs, and the position of these schools under the Bill will be worse than it has been up to the present time. But these Church schools, that have thus been supported almost wholly from public sources up till now, have had no 1131 element of popular control except such as was exercised by the Board of Education through the Elementary School Code and through its inspectors. This Bill, in consideration of an increased subvention— a subvention from the rates— introduces, for the first time, the element of popular control over the whole of the secular education, and, to a certain extent, over the denominational teaching in these schools. That is the sole extent of the grievance, and the extent and scope of it has been enormously, I might almost say grossly, exaggerated. There has scarcely ever been an attempt made to excite popular passion and religious prejudice resting on so small and so slender a foundation.
Perhaps it cannot be said that it is altogether a credit to Parliamentary institutions that public opinion is still to so large an extent misinformed, or imperfectly informed, as to the main issues which are involved in the Bill. It must, I am afraid, be admitted that even here a far larger part of our discussion has been centred on sectarian issues than upon educational issues. This Bill contains principles of great educational value and importance. Co-ordination, I know, is not a word that finds much favour, and I cannot profess any great affection for it myself; but it does mean an attempt to substitute order in our educational system for what is now admitted to be a state of chaos. The proposals in this Bill are an attempt—and I believe will be found to be a successful attempt— to establish that co-ordination, and to replace the existing chaos by something approaching a well-organised system. It is not, I think, fitting that the efficiency of any of our public schools should depend on the liberality, I might almost say the charity, of any private individual. This Bill establishes the principle that the efficiency of our schools is no longer to depend upon the support they may I receive from any individual; it makes a public authority responsible for the efficiency of every public elementary school. It is neither fitting nor tolerable, I think, that any public school in which our children are to be eudcated for the work of their lives should be under the sole control of any man. This Bill does put an end, once for all, 1132 to the possibility of one-man management in a public elementary school. I submit that this Bill does contain, and does give effect to, principles of great educational value, and that the sectarian issues which have been raised— the sectarian grievances, the dimensions of which I have just attempted to define—ought not to have weight in our consideration of these great educational advantages. My Lords, I trust we are about to pass this Bill; and it will be the duty of all of us to endeavour to turn our thoughts from the barren controversies carried on amongst us, honestly, I admit, as to the sectarian issues involved, to the subject of education. If these controversies are carried from the arena of Parliament into the arena of every County Council and Borough Council, then, I admit, I shall have little hope that we shall ever be able to raise the level of our educational system to that which has been attained in many other countries. But if this should not be the case, and if, as I hope and believe, the common-sense and practical ability of our countrymen—which. I fear, does not always find full expression in Parliamentary debate—should find a fuller expression in the bodies to which we have entrusted the important duties of local administration, then, I believe and confidently expect, this measure will be found capable of conferring enormous benefits upon the country and the people who inhabit it.
§ On Question, agreed to; Bill read 3 accordingly.
*THE EARL OF WEMYSS
moved to amend Clause 2 (power to aid higher education) by adding the following proviso at the end of sub-Section 1—Provided also that no important steps shall be taken for the promotion of higher education by the local education authority without the assent of the ratepayers being previously obtained.He asked their Lordship's indulgence, as he was afraid that in moving this Amendment he might say things which were not quite in sympathy with the educational trend of the day. His Amendment referred to higher education, but before he proceeded to that, he desired to say a few words on the way in 1133 which the Bill dealt with voluntary schools and elementary education. Having read what has appeared in the papers with reference to voluntary schools, he was convinced that the denominational feeling was so strong that if the Government had not touched these schools they would not have perished or been thrown on the ratepayers. But the Government had thought it necessary to deal with them, and they had done so in a fair and reasonable way. As regarded elementary education, there had been a change in the Bill. In the Bill, as it was originally drafted, it was provided that elementary education was to be confined to reading, writing, and arithmetic. He was glad that these words had disappeared, because he thought that elementary education ought to extend beyond that. His Amendment referred specially to higher education. There was an excellent old saying that he who paid the piper should call the tune, or, at least, have a share in the calling of the tune; but here was a Bill which imposed taxation on the ratepayers and gave them no control over the expenditure. No doubt it would be said that they had control in electing the education authority; but that control was only punitive. If the local education authority did anything that the ratepayers disapproved of, they could be turned out of office when their term expired—but that was shutting the stable door after the steed had been stolen. He strongly urged that there should be some such control as that provided in his Amendment. The decision in the Cockerton case was that it was not within the power of a School Board to expend money raised by local rates upon any education other than elementary, even though such education was prescribed by the Code. This Bill set that aside, and allowed the rates to be used for higher education. Speaking at Greenock, Lord Balfour of Burleigh summarised the object of the Bill in these words—All cramping restrictions were swept away. The local authority might spend as much money as it chose, in the way it chose, and on the subject it chose, for pupils of any age. It might charge a fee, or it might charge no fee, and it might go up to whatever grade of education it liked. The whole cost of secular education would be paid for by public funds, and would be under popular control.1134 He denied that it would be under popular control, because the evil could be done before that control could take effect. What did this mean? It added another R to our educational system—it added wrangling to reading, writing, and arithmetic, because they thus might educate children at the public cost almost to the point when they might become Wranglers, and if successful what good would it do them? He asked an educational friend of his if he had ever seen a Wrangler, and he replied that he had seen one who had risen from a humble sphere of life, and that he was a bundle of bones with green spectacles, of no use to himself or to anybody else. He thought the hardearned money of the ratepayers should not be spent in producing men of this kind. The Member for his county had said that our provision of University teaching was miserably inadequate, and contrasted shockingly with that in the United States and on the Continent, and he added that—It would be necessary very largely to increase the assistance given by Parliament to teaching of the tertiary order.So they were to have teaching of a tertiary order, and all that that implied. It was supposed that on the Continent they were better educated, and that our trade was suffering in consequence. He believed that to be a senseless parrot-cry; and in order to get to the bottom of the matter he went to the Board of Trade and obtained from the permanent officials Blue-books which went into the whole question. Here was the conclusion arrived at by the permanent head of the Statistical Department upon the statistics which had been collected—Industry and manufactures abroad, particularly in the United States and Germany, have become much bigger things than they were. It is necessary, therefore, more than ever that the change of conditions should be recognised, and we can hardly expect to maintain our past undoubted pre-eminence without strenuous efforts and careful energetic improvements in 'method.'I It was not a question of education, but of method and—The problem as to how this could be remedied was of vital interest to all classes of the industrial and commercial community alike, though the assistance which the State could give in the matter must necessarily be of a very limited character.1135 There were 171 Consular Reports, the substance of which was that British manufacturers did not go the right way to work. They sent out men ignorant of the language of the country to which they went, and who made up for that by distributing a number of catalogues and other things printed in English. The Germans, on the contrary acted quite differently, and it was obvious that this was more a matter of method than of education. It was said that our education was faulty, but in these reports it was stated by a German thoroughly conversant with the subject that as good a technical education could be got in this country as in Germany, but that its application was faulty. Only ten days ago the noble Lord the Chairman of the London School Board, in opening a new school, stated that an educational expert from Japan had come to the conclusion, after seeing the schools of the London School Board, that our system of education was better than any that could be got in Germany. There was another cause for trade leaving this country, or for the trade of other countries increasing—namely, wages. He would give the House one instance with regard to this question of wages and trade. He went the other day to the house of Mr. Mempes, the artist, which was being re-decorated by means of beautifully carved wood made in Japan. What did their Lordships think were the wages of the men who did this beautiful work in Japan? Why, 6d. a day, and so poor were they on this wage that they lived on vegetables, and twice a week had a treat consisting of fish heads and tails because they could not afford the bodies. Could they wonder, therefore, at the cheapness of articles brought into this country, and at our being undersold? Having, as he thought, shown that in the opinion of experts our system of education was not defective, and that the question was one of method, he now came to the question of cost. The cost of education had greatly exceeded the amount contemplated by Mr. Forster in 1870. It was then said that the rate would be 3d. in the £ at the outside. The present rate in West Ham was 2s. 6d. in the £ This was the cost of education under the existing law. He had obtained from an expert the fact that education in England and Wales alone 1136 cost £12,300,000. He asked this same expert how much extra he would require before he would undertake to run this Bill, and he replied that he would be very sorry to do it under £10,000,000; therefore, they were getting on nicely. They would possibly have bodies to manage this Act consisting of educational faddists who would think nothing of the ratepayer, but only of having the most perfect and expensive system in their part of the country. He held very respectfully that the ratepayer, the man who paid the piper, ought to have a voice in calling the tune. The education authorities were no doubt elected, but after their election they could spend what they liked, and their punishment did not come until they were turned out by the ratepayers, if, indeed, the ratepayers would take the trouble to do that. His experience, however, was that, without any exception, the most asinine beast of burden that nature had yet produced was the British ratepayer. There were precedents for what he proposed in the Borough Funds Act, which enacted that a municipal authority could not promote a Bill for new powers without first obtaining the sanction of the ratepayers, and in the Public Health Act of 1879. There was also a precedent even in the present Bill, for if the building of a new school was not thought necessary, any ten ratepayers might appeal to the Board of Education. He contended that the precedent which they applied to one description of education should apply to the other, and that the ratepayer should have a voice when important steps were proposed to be taken for the promotion of higher education.
Amendment moved—In Clause 2, page 2, line 5, after ' fix,' to insert 'provided also that no important steps shall be taken for the promotion of higher education by the local education authority without the assent of the ratepayers being previously obtained.'"—(The Earl of Wemyss.)
said he could reassure the noble Earl that the Bill did not deviate from the Cockerton judgment. It placed the age limit for elementary education at sixteen, and Mr. Justice Wills, in his judgment, said that—He supposed that at somewhere between sixteen and seventeen at the highest, an age has been arrived at which no one would ordinarily call childhood.1137 As regards the rating power for higher education, that was not new, but was only extended. It already existed in connection with technical instruction. As to the expenditure likely to arise under the Bill, if the noble Earl looked at the amount which was spent in France and in Germany on technical and technological education from public sources, he would find that we spent, in comparison, an infinitesimal sum. He did not think that, under the Bill, this sum would be very materially increased, at all events, in the counties, although England, not less than Scotland, required agricultural and forestry schools. The school to which the Japanese expert referred to by Lord Wemyss paid such a high compliment was one of the London higher grade board schools. He said that he had seen nothing equal to the extent of the syllabus of work for the upper part of the school in Germany and in other Continental countries. That school under the Bill would retain its character of a higher elementary school. What struck the Japanese expert particularly was that our system of education gave greater freedom to the teachers, and allowed scope for their individuality. Before concluding, he wished to point out to the Bishop of Rochester that in his speech this evening on the Third Reading of the Bill, he had erroneously stated that in the Netherlands the system of religious instruction was undenominational in the sense in which, it is understood in England. In a communal school in Holland such religious instruction as is given in the London Board Schools cannot be imparted. It is excluded by the Education Act.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (The Marquess of LONDONDERRY:)
I gather that the effect of the noble Earl's Amendment will be that whenever the education authority propose to build a new technical school or to inaugurate a big scheme of scholarships, a meeting of the ratepayers must be held to consider the matter. The ratepayers, no doubt, may form some idea as to what the proposal would cost, and as to what charge it might entail upon the rates. But any such judgment of theirs on these points would 1138 necessarily be inferior to that which the Council and its finance committee would make. The financial interests of the ratepayers are surely quite sufficiently safe in the hands of their elected representatives. Surely the ratepayers are not the proper persons to revise the advice of the education committee. The proposal of the noble Earl, if accepted, would almost certainly impede the education progress of the area over which the authority is responsible. It is perfectly true that in this Bill ten ratepayers have the right, if they think fit, to protest, but they can do no more than protest; but if this Amendment were carried it would result in nothing being able to be done unless the assent of all the ratepayers had been obtained. I maintain that if this Amendment were carried it would be almost impossible to find any responsible body who would undertake the duties.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (The Earl of HALSBURY)
I wish to draw attention to the fact that there are a number of Amendments, the greater part of which are alleged to be mere drafting Amendments, of which no notice has been given. I would remind your Lordships that on the Third Reading of a Bill, Amendments are not generally admissible unless notice has been given of them; but as the Report stage was, under very unusual circumstances, taken on Saturday, there has been no opportunity of following the usual procedure, and of putting down the Amendments. If your Lordships should think fit to treat the Amendments according to the strict rule, I am afraid the only result will be that we shall have to meet again tomorrow upon them. In the circumstances your Lordships will probably think we might waive the strict rule and allow the Amendments to be discussed forthwith.
The situation which has just been explained shows the great inconvenience to your Lordships of postponing important stages of a Bill to so late a period of the session. I think, that in the circumstances we can hardly object to drafting Amendments being proceeded with, but I wish particularly to say that in our opinion this is a rule 1139 which ought to be most strictly adhered to, and only waived under the most urgent circumstances.