HL Deb 25 July 1902 vol 111 cc1259-61

asked the Lord President of the Council why the Board of Education wished to suppress the Nonconformist voluntary school at Holyhead, and had directed the School Board to provide another school in its place. He said the case of this school was a very simple one. The Department had been threatening it for more than a year because it had not got what they considered a sufficient playground. This complaint was utterly frivolous. The school had a playground which was quite sufficient to meet the requirements of the children during the ten minutes each morning and the ten minutes each afternoon that they went out to get fresh air; and in the middle of the day, of course, they went home to their dinners. A few years ago about £300 was spent in making the necessary alterations, and it is was impossible to provide a larger playground. He had been in conflict with the Education Department for a considerable time, and could only attribute the opposition to this school to the "spite" which the Vice President of the Council entertained towards himself. Sir John Gorst made a speech last year in which he said that nobody would assassinate, him (Sir John Gorst), because it would be of no use. He (Lord Stanley) wrote to Sir John asking him what he meant by this foolish speech inciting people to assassinate himself, also asking him whether his son's book, "The Curse of Education," had, as some people thought, been written in agreement with himself; if not, he had goaded his son to literary parricide. If the Vice President did not cease his oppression of this school, he (Lord Stanley) would publish a certain letter which had passed between them. The action of the Board of Education was treason against a Government which was supposed to be passing an Education Bill to preserve some shreds of religious instruction in the country.


My Lords, the facts relating to this school are as follow:—The Holyhcad British School was built in 1848, and for some time past the Board of Education have considered that the buildings were not satisfactory for school purposes. After several adverse reports on the premises by the Inspector, the Chief Inspector, Mr. Legard, was asked to make a special report in June of last year. Mr. Legard visited the school, and pronounced the buildings to be wholly unsuitable and inadequate. He said that the boys' department was ill-constructed, uncoiled and in a bad condition structurally; that the class-room, owing to its lack of width, was quite unsuited for teaching, and there was no adequate playground. The same general condemnation applied, though less strongly, to the girls' department. The infants' room was equally unsatisfactory, and it would be a mere waste of money to attempt to bring the buildings into conformity with modern requirements. In consequence of this Report, the Managers were informed, on the 21st June, 1901, that the Board's recognition of the promises would cease on 30th April, 1903. The Managers have recently informed the Board that they are unable to provide new premises, and the Board have therefore called upon the School Board to consider what provision will be required to replace the school when it is closed in May next. Your Lordships will therefore see that the statement of the noble Lord that this school has been condemned solely 011 account of the inadequacy of the playground is altogether without foundation. The school has been condemned on account of the general inadequacy of the structure for the purposes of a large school. There is also, I need hardly assure your Lordships, absolutely no foundation for the insinuation that this action on the part of the Board of Education is due to what I think the noble Lord called the "spite" of the Vice President of the Council. The proceedings have been initiated, not by the Vice President, but by the Board's Inspector, and the action of the Vice President in the matter has been purely ministerial. Although I took considerable pains to do so, I was quite unable to follow the reasons given by the noble Lord for the alleged spite entertained against him by the Vice President, on whose behalf I think I can say that ho would not have the slightest objection to the publication of any correspondence which may have passed between the noble Lord and himself on the subject.


thought the question of this school might well be left over to the new authorities to be set up by the Education Bill.


If the Education Bill passes, it will not in the least relieve the Board of Education from the responsibility of satisfying itself that the buildings in which the education is imparted, and for which the Government grant is paid, are adequate for the purpose. The authorities would have no power to continue to recognise a school which was condemned as inadequate.

House adjourned at Five o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Eleven o'clock.