§ [Second Reading.]
§ Order of the day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (The Marquess of LONDONDERRY)
My Lords, when in December last I supported the Motion of the noble Duke behind me for the second reading of the Education Bill for England and Wales, I fear I trespassed upon your Lordships' indulgence at a most unpardonable length; but I felt that I was dealing with a subject of great magnitude, for that Bill comprised no less than 27 clauses, and it reconstructed the greater part of our educational system in this country, co-ordinating all grades of education under one authority, and to a great extent changing the whole management of our educational system in England and Wales. On the present occasion I have no intention of trespassing on your indulgence to the same length, for the simple reason that, although this Bill is one of great importance, it merely asks your Lordships to apply the provisions of last year's Act, with certain alterations, to London. The Act of last year contained matters of a controversial character, but those matters were discussed so fully and debated at such length that I do not propose to enter into any of them on the present occasion.
The matters upon which great debate arose last year were these—the religious instruction in those schools, colleges or 440 hostels for higher education which have been provided by the local authority; the management of voluntary public elementary schools; the maintenance of voluntary schools by the local authorities, and the attached conditions, of which the following gave rise to most prolonged controversy—(a) the appointment and dismissal of teachers by the managers subject to a right of veto (extending only to educational considerations) in the local authority; (b) the question of the teacher's residence and that of wear and tear repairs; (c) the appointment of assistant teachers by the managers. without reference to religious belief, and the appointment of pupil teachers by the local authority if there are more candidates than vacancies; (d) the control of religious education by the whole body of managers, including the non-foundation managers; (e) the provisions as to new schools and enlargements; (f) the provisions for deciding the question whether schools are necessary; (g) the apportionment of fees; (h) the question, of schemes for Education Committees; I and (i) the definition of elementary schools and the age limit for elementary education. These questions were fully discussed last year, and as this Bill applies the principle of last year's Act to London, I will not go over the ground again.
The first question which I think will very likely arise in the minds of noble Lords opposite is, why was not London included in the Bill of last year? The answer to that is simple. In the first place, the question of education in London and the abolition of the London School Board is one of such magnitude that there might have been great delay in getting the Bill passed through Parliament if London had been dealt with in last year's measure. But there is another and more practical answer. Had we included London in the Bill of last year, how were we to deal with the metropolitan boroughs, which, as your Lordships are aware, are the same in London as the municipal boroughs in the country? If London had been included in the Bill of last year, could there have been given to the councils of the metropolitan boroughs the powers of the local education authority for all parts of the principal Act? If your Lordships will 441 consider that question, I think you will unhesitatingly arrive at the conclusion that there could not have been given those powers, for if that had been done there would have been virtually twenty-nine School Boards controlling the education of London, and twenty nine systems of education with large variations in rating, while the London County Council would have been deprived of all the powers that are enjoyed by the County Councils in the country.
In considering the framing of a Bill for London the choice lay between an ad hoc authority and the control of the London County Council with the boroughs represented. I will first of all deal with the question of an ad hoc authority. To my mind an ad hoc authority to have control of the whole of the educational system of London would have been an absolute impossibility. If we cast our minds back to the Act of 1870 we find that it was only owing to the fact that there were not then in existence the public bodies that we now have that the education authorities of that day were invented. The whole position has changed since 1870, and although it may be said that the School Board system has worked satisfactorily in the past, I do not think it would have been possible under the present system for the School Board for London, or anybody elected ad hoc, to have been the authority for education in London. If an ad hoc body had been possible, I have no hesitation in saying that I should have desired to see the London School Board the education authority for London, with increased powers. I may perhaps be prejudiced. I have myself from practical experience, a sincere admiration for the great work that has been done in the past by the School Board for London. I know well the zeal and the energy with which each individual member has discharged his onerous and arduous duties, and I confess it is with great sorrow that I see a body which has done such good work, so to speak disestablished; but I hope those who have done so much for the education of London in the past will be found ready to continue that invaluable assistance on the new authority.
If we had given increased powers to the London School Board, we should have struck a serious blow at technical 442 education in London, which, as your Lordships are aware, has been carried on by the London County Council now for the past ten years with the most unqualified success. I think it would have been unwise to have deprived that body of the control it has. Then, again, if we had had as the education authority for London a body elected ad hoc we should have perpetuated the severance between the calls on the public for education and other calls—a very serious difficulty. I consider that education should be one of the many calls on the public purse which should be dealt with by one great authority. There was only one body which could be the education authority namely, the supreme body of London, the London County Council, and that authority in adding to its work the control of education will be assuming a function which it is its duty to undertake. I think time will prove how absolutely necessary it was to coordinate all grades of education under one authority.
Your Lordships probably have fresh in your minds the decision given last year known as the Cockerton Judgment. The difficulty arose owing to the fact that the London School Board, in its anxiety to discharge its duties thoroughly, overstepped its functions and undertook duties which it could not legally carry out. At the present moment we have a difficulty at the Board of Education with what is known as the Hilldrop-road Pupil Teacher Centre. The noble Lord opposite, the Chairman of the London School Board, is well aware of the difficulties which have arisen in connection with that centre. There is a Bill now before Parliament, as to the chances of the passing of which I can predict nothing, on this subject; but I will state what has occurred in order to show your Lordships the difficulties which might arise in the future unless the various grades of education were coordinated. The site of the Hilldrop-road Pupil Teacher Centre was obtained by compulsory powers in 1900, and was subject to a restriction that during fifty years it should not be used otherwise than for a pupil teacher centre. The plans were approved by the Board of Education on 23rd December, 1901, and building was apparently begun at once. 443 In June, 1902, the auditor of the Local Government Board, Mr. Cockerton, disallowed a certain payment in respect of the centre, giving full reasons, but the School Board proceeded with the work. On 26th July an injunction was granted by Mr. Justice Farwell restraining the School Board from spending any more of the produce of the local rates on the building. An appeal to the Supreme Court was heard by Lords Justices Vaughan Williams, Romer, and Mathew, and dismissed. Virtually, the whole of this difficulty arose through the London School Board exceeding its powers, and I am afraid that the epitaph of the London School Board with regard to that centre will be—This man began to build, but was not able to finish.In the circumstances we consider that the supreme body of London, the London County Council, must, and should be, the education authority for London.
The London County Council have always shown the keenest desire to be associated with all the great interests and duties connected with London. I read in a leading article in The Times only two or three days ago a sentence with which I absolutely agree. Alluding to the London County Council The Times saidߞWhatever the faults which have been laid to their charge, their worst enemies have never charged them with want of public spirit or cowardly refusal to grasp their opportunities.With that sentiment I think we must all concur. In 1895 the London County Council promoted Bills for acquiring the property of the water companies and becoming the water authority for the whole of water London. In 1896 the Bills were again promoted, and again in 1897. In 1899, 1900 and 1901 they promoted the London Water (Purchase) Bill, which dealt with the whole problem in one measure. Therefore I cannot but feel that in appointing the London County Council to be the education authority for London we are adding a responsible, important and onerous duty, which its members will be the last to desire to shirk or avoid. If I wanted corroboration of that statement, I should find it in a speech delivered by the noble Earl on the Cross Benches, who was the first Chairman of the London County 444 Council. Speaking at Colchester on 16th May, 1902, Lord Rosebery said—There is a Bill now before Parliament of the future of which I can predict nothing, of the chances of its passing into law I know no more than you do, but which, if passed, will intrust to your Municipal Council the incalculably important prerogative of supervising the education of your children. Well, on the whole, I rejoice in that provision, because I rejoice in all that gives strength and lustre to the municipal institutions of our country, in all that raises the character of our municipalities, and that makes men of all ranks, all degrees, and all abilities willing and anxious to take service among them. If to what you do already you have added the task of education, you will be advancing by leaps and hounds to that lofty position which every true patriot covets for the borough authorities of his native land.Therefore, in appointing the London County Council the education authority for London, I think we can claim to have the support of its first able Chairman. The Government have been accused of not knowing their own minds with regard to the constitution of the education authority for London. Although I deny that there has been any vacillation, I admit that there has been a certain change of front. For that change of from I, and I alone, am responsible. I do not regret having undertaken that responsibility. I felt that I could not ask Parliament to pass this Bill without giving every consideration possible to the metropolitan boroughs and their very important interests. I felt that it was impossible to deny to those important boroughs those powers which the Act of last year gave to every municipal borough of over 10,000 inhabitants in the country.
I doubt, indeed, whether everyone has carefully considered the importance of these metropolitan boroughs, and realised their great magnitude, wealth, and duties. In order to prove to your Lordships that it was my duty to give every consideration to the importance of those bodies, I would ask you to allow me to compare the metropolitan boroughs with some of the towns and cities in England and Wales whose councils are their own educational authority. Islington has a population of 335,000; Lambeth, 302,000: Stepney, 299,000; Camberwell, 259,000; St. Pancras, 235,000; Wandsworth, 232,000; Hackney, 219,000; and Southwark, 445 206,000. I have taken eight of the most thickly populated boroughs to which I attach importance, and I considered that they were justified in having representation on the education authority. I would compare them with Bristol, which has a population of 329,000; with Bradford, which has a population of 280,000; West Ham, 267,000; Hull, 240,000; Nottingham, 240,000; Salford, 221,000; Newcastle, 215,000; and Leicester, 212,000. Every one of those towns in the provinces have their own education authority.
Then I turn to the question of rateable value. The Valuation List in force for April 6th, 1903, gives the assessable value of the City of Westminster as £5,500,000; that of the City of London, as £5,000,000; that of Kensington, as £2,500,000; and that of Islington as nearly £2,000,000. What do we find to compare with these figures? The assessments for the borough rates of Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Newcastle, Bristol, and Cardiff, on April 1st, 1900, were in each case less than £ 2,000,000. I, therefore, considered it my bounden duty to give every possible consideration to the interests of the metropolitan boroughs. When the present Prime Minister introduced the London Government Bill, which brought the metro politan boroughs into existence, he said:—It (i.e., the City of London) already possesses the dignity which we desire to increase in the case of the vestries, and to give to the new authorities we propose to create. We propose that their constitution shall be practically identical with the constitution which our great municipal boroughs already possess. I look forward to these municipal boroughs having a great and most legitimate influence with the London County Council. The vestries already possess, except so far as police matters are concerned, the great urban powers possessed by other municipalities. The London County Council and these great municipalities—for great municipalities they will be—have to deal with the interests of the same population.That is the reason why I took upon myself, in framing the Bill, the responsibility of claiming representation for those most important boroughs. When, however, the House of Commons as a whole showed a desire that, the metropolitan boroughs should not be represented on the Education Committee, I considered that the only course the 446 Prime Minister could take was to eliminate that representation from the Bill. I can only say for myself that I shall always feel deeply the generosity of my colleagues in the House of Commons for the loyal and able defence which they have made of the details of this measure, for which I alone am responsible, and if any censure is to ho meted out to any Member of the Government, I am afraid I must ask you to pour it on my devoted head.
There are slight differences between the Bill which I am asking your Lordships to read a second time to-night and the Act of last year. The important metropolitan boroughs to which I have alluded are given powers that are not enjoyed by boroughs in the country. By Clause 2 they are given a voice in the selection of sites after consultation with the authority, and I think when we consider how the interests of those boroughs are bound up with this matter, it is not too much to ask your Lordships to grant them this privilege. Then, again, we have given them the choice of two-thirds of the managers as against one-third given to the boroughs in the country. The London County Council also has an advantage given to it over other County Councils, inasmuch as there is no limit to the rate to be raised for higher education, and they also enjoy the advantages that are enjoyed with regard to rating by the Borough Councils.
It is, of course, too early to prognosticate as to what may be the future of the Act which your Lordships passed last year, but the short experience we have had of it at the Board of Education has inspired the hope that it will prove to work satisfactorily and for the good of the country. We have already had proofs of the great advantages of the co-ordination of all grades of education. The authorities are now preparing pupil teacher schemes for education which could not be carried out before, and we are in hopes that pupil teachers will now receive that sound education which is so absolutely necessary for those to possess who are responsible for the instruction of the young. It is a question of such importance that your Lordships and the country at large should realise what has been done in the 447 short time at our disposal for the purpose of improving the system of education of teachers. I have no doubt your Lordships read with great interest the able speech of my colleague, Sir William Anson, in the House of Commons, in which he went fully into that question. When we were discussing the Bill of last year a certain doubt was expressed as to whether it would not result in levelling down education; but I hope that as a matter of fact we are levelling tip education, and raising the standard of efficiency in each and every school.
Your Lordships will all have read with great interest the letter addressed by the noble Earl, Lord Rosebery, to the London County Council, which speaks volumes for the generosity of those who desire to see the highest branches of our education in this country placed on a proper footing. I think the noble Earl will not contradict me when I say that if his hopes are to be realised, as I sincerely hope they will be, it will be owing to our having placed the whole system of education upon a sound basis, in such a way as we are able to do under the Act of last year and under the present measure. With regard to the administration of the Act of last year, we at the Board of Education have again, I think, to congratulate ourselves. I do not deny that we have had to encounter difficulties, and there may be difficulties in the future; but taking the reception which the measure has met with as a whole, we have every reason to congratulate ourselves. The great majority of the local authorities in the country have devoted themselves to their duties with great ability and energy, and they have accepted the invitation which I held out to them last year to co-operate and make use of the whole machinery of the Board of Education. I have hopes from the reports I have received that that cooperation is taking place, with the result that efficiency in education will be promoted, and the system of overlapping and dual inspectorships will be done away with.
But, although I trust that we may, to a certain extent, economise in matters of this kind, I do not for one moment hold out any idea to the House that there is any likelihood that there will he any decrease of expenditure. I hope there may be, but I cannot venture for one moment to anticipate that such will be the case. 448 On the other hand, however, I think I can assure your Lordships that the country will get a better return for its money under the new system of education than in the past. I do not think I need detain your Lordships at any greater length. I hope that this Bill when passed will achieve the best results—the results we all desire to achieve, although we may not all agree as to the manner in which we are endeavouring to achieve them. I believe that in the future, when the heat of controversy and political feeling has abated, and these measures have been given a fair chance, the country will realise that the Government have grappled successfully with a problem that at times has appeared almost insoluble.
§ Moved, that the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Marquess of Londonderry.)
§ * LORD REAY
My Lords, the noble Marquess has admitted that the Bill which is now before us is a very different Bill from that which was originally introduced in another place. He has fully accepted the responsibility for the changes. He has given us a picture of the importance of the metropolitan boroughs, and in the original Bill no doubt they were given important duties to perform, but I wonder whether the noble Marquess is persuaded that the metropolitan boroughs are satisfied with the position which they have obtained in the Bill now submitted to us. The original Bill, I think, would have proved unworkable. There would have been constant friction between the central authority and the metropolitan boroughs. Experience has proved that in London a central organisation is required to deal with elementary education. Elementary education alone is a work of such vast magnitude that it cannot be performed except by those who are prepared to give a great deal of their time to it. I do not think the noble Marquess, with his experience of the work of the School Board, will deny that it makes heavy demands on the time of the members of the School Board.
The ratepayers hitherto have been fortunate in securing for the administration of elementary education the services of men and women prepared to devote themselves to the work with great 449 zeal, and the result is that London has a system of elementary education which can stand the test o comparison with any foreign system. It has been constantly improved in all its departments; the physical, the mental, and the moral development of the children has been carefully considered. That result has been obtained because individual members of the London School Board were in close touch with and in charge of individual schools. Each school in London is in charge of a member of the Board, and this local work, as the noble Marquess knows, is of the greatest importance. Every member of the Board is acquainted with the difficulties and needs of the schools in his charge. He is able by his influence to diminish friction between parents, teachers, and scholars, and between teacher and teacher, and through him the central authority remains in close touch with every school. He does not usurp the functions of the managers, but he is the link between the managers of each school and the central authority, and in this way alone can you obtain the smooth working of a very complex machinery. The weekly meetings of the Board are only an infinitesimal part of its work, and not the most important part. The most important part of the work of the London School Board is performed in the committees, and it is the careful consideration, as the noble Marquess knows, winch all the items on the agenda paper at the School Board meetings have received beforehand in the committees, which makes thy meetings of the Board business-like and short. The work of the Board is transacted by seven principal committees and by thirty-four committees and sub-committees. Only members of the Board serve on these committees. The County Council will have the power to appoint outsiders on these committees, but they will have to be linked on to the Education Committee by county councillors having seats on, and probably being chairmen of these various committees. The Education Committee of the London County Council will not be able to get through its work unless its membersattend these various committees exactly in the same way as the members of the London School Board attend their committees. 450 Now, it has been alleged that the School Board spends the morning in interviewing teachers, the afternoon in dealing with small repairs, and trusts nobody and delegates nothing. That picture is a ludicrous travesty of the reality, and I think the noble Marquess will admit this from his own experience. The Board, as he well knows, never interviews teachers. The teachers are interviewed by a committee before appointment, and do not absent themselves from their schools. Small repairs which are urgent are disposed of by the local clerk of the works, and those which are not urgent are explained in a report of the local clerk of the works to the head office. The Beard cannot delegate the control of repair's which amount to about £120,000 a year. As regards not trusting anyone. I am sure the noble Marquess will admit that the Board fully trusts its teachers, that it allows the teachers very great latitude in settling their time tables in order to suit the various needs of various districts, and that there is great elasticity. Equally, the Board fully trusts its inspectors, who have the utmost freedom in explaining their own views even when they run counter to those of the Board. Further, no one can deny that the Board trusts the managers in the selection of assistant teachers, and in the selection of a head teacher from three candidates nominated by the Teaching Staff Committee. The nomination of school teachers is left to them, and they have the power of hearing complaints against teachers. The fact is that, f no one were trusted and nothing were delegated, the work would be simply impossible.
But it is one thing to trust the teachers and the inspectors, and another thing to abandon the control which you ought to exercise. The ratepayers have a perfect right to expect that the control shall not be exercised by deputy, but by their own representatives. You cannot leave it to experts. Experts are not infallible, and they will be the first to admit that control by elected representatives of the public is beneficial. Section 15 of the Act of 1870 gives the London School Board wide powers of delegation. If these powers have not been used more freely it is not because the Board could not exercise them, but because they felt 451 that a wider delegation of their powers would not be consistent with their duty, with efficiency, and with the proper financial control which should be exercised by them. The noble Marquess has given great credit to the Technical Education Board for the work it has done. I cordially join with him in that well-deserved praise. What has been done by the Technical Education Board in recent years in providing facilities for secondary and technical education in London has been very satisfactory. But, as the noble Marquess is aware, the reports of special sub-committees of the Technical Education Board on commercial education, on the building trades, on the application of science to industry, show that London requirements are by no means as yet adequately met. I admit that one of the best features of this Bill, at least one to which we on this side of the House shall not object, is that it gives the London County Council unlimited rating powers and the means of meeting those deficiencies.
I am sure that, in order to fill up the gaps and to strengthen institutions which are now unable to give sufficient salaries, and which cannot provide laboratories in accordance with the high standard of remit scientific developments, the County Council will find full scope for expenditure. We cannot rely on the generous donor to endow London with institutions which on the Continent are organised and systematically kept up by funds derived from public sources. We cannot be placed at a disadvantage in this international competition. Our trades and industries must be placed on the same footing in order that they may hold their own in this struggle for existence, and the sinews of war must be forthcoming. Scientific research is admittedly one of the conditions of industrial progress, and I need only mention this very significant fact, that in some branches of technical education our students have to visit foreign institutions, and that instances be given in which one of the conditions of employment in England is that the candidates should have been trained abroad. Surely such a situation cannot be tolerated any longer.
Before I leave secondary education I wish to allude to the literary side of our secondary education. That must, not be allowed to fall in the background, and 452 I was glad to see that in the discussion in another place, when the Education Estimates were under consideration, the Board of Education seemed to be fully alive to their duty with regard to this branch of secondary education which in recent years has been rather overshadowed by scientific education. A survey of secondary education such as I suppose the new authority will probably organise will disclose many deficiencies, not only with regard to technical education, but also with regard to general secondary education.
Now, my Lords, I am entitled to ask, how is the County Council going to deal with all this work? On their Education Committee they will appoint a certain number of county councillors, who will have to be distributed among various sub-committees, and to take charge of schools. I take it for granted that the County Council will maintain the high standard of the education at present given in the Board schools; hut, if that standard is to be maintained, county councillors who are on the Education Committee will soon realise that a great demand will he made on their time, and I doubt if they will find it possible to discharge other duties and to serve on the other committees.
You will probably have to increase the number of county councillors by one member for every electoral division. If that is done, then virtually you re-establish in another form the School Board which by this Bill you are abolishing, because those members will be elected ad hoc for educational purposes. The noble Marquess knows full well that unless the members of the London County Council visit the schools of which they are in charge, they cannot have sufficient knowledge of the education day have to control, and unless they remain in constant touch with the teachers, their decisions will carry no weight. They cannot delegate those duties to others. I am well a ware that in many quarters the opinion is held that members of the School Board go more into detail than is really necessary, but the intimate acquaintance with the details of the work is, and has been, one of the reasons of the success and efficiency of the work of the School Board. In elementary education you cannot draw 453 a hard and fast line between details and principles of school management, and the results the School Board have obtained are largely due to the strict supervision of details of administration. The noble Marquess is well aware that what appears insignificant to an outsider is often very material to the educational expert.
Let me ask, what will be the financial effect of this Bill? Do noble Lords opposite expect that the rate will be reduced? I believe that the only category of persons who look with favour on this Bill are those who expect to obtain higher salaries under the County Council's scale of salaries than they obtain under the more modest scale of salaries of the London School Board. If the County Council is going to level up, as I am sure they will, the voluntary schools, if secondary and technical education are to be aided, if you are to have an increase of expert officials because the members of the new education authority are not able to perform the work which all these years has been performed by members of the School Board there can be no chance of a reduction of expenditure, and it is much more likely that it will be increased.
Hitherto there has been in London no religious difficulty with regard to education, but by this Bill you draw London into the zone of religious controversy. Whatever financial benefits may accrue to voluntary schools, their autonomy, their independence, are imperilled, and the hybrid character which this legislation confers on them has not in it the elements of finality. I believe it is the first step towards the extinction of voluntary schools in this form, although I have no doubt that sooner or later real and true voluntary schools will again be established, because I am well aware that several sections of the community require them. The main object of the Act of last year was to improve the financial condition of voluntary schools. In order to effect this in London it was certainly not necessary to destroy the London School Board. I am quite sure that the School Board would have dealt very fairly with the voluntary schools. Whenever the interests of voluntary schools had to he considered by the School Board they 454 always received careful consideration. The noble Marquess is well aware of an instance which I think I ought to give. The Board established twenty-three evening schools in voluntary school buildings, and left the nomination of the responsible teachers in the hands of the voluntary managers. That is an instance of the treatment which voluntary schools would obtain from public authorities if they only consented to trust them fully. If the School Board bad been entrusted with the control of education in voluntary schools, they would, I am sure, have secured to those voluntary schools all the advantages which now accrue to children in provided schools.
During the existence of the London School Board the transfer of 164 voluntary schools to the Board was arranged, and eighty-three of the proposed transfers were not carried out. Of those 164 schools, only seventeen are still open. I know that with regard to the transfer of sixty-five Church of England schools the argument will probably be used that it illustrates the financial difficulties in which these voluntary schools were, but I think I may use another argument. I cannot believe that these Church of England schools would have been transferred to the School Board if those who transferred them had not been satisfied with the religious education which the children would receive after the transfer. And it cannot he said that the School Board was eager to annex voluntary schools, because in the case of thirty-six Church schools the attempt to transfer them failed. Voluntary schools had this guarantee—that their own managers and the clergy were well represented on the London School Board. I doubt very much whether many clergymen will seek election on the London County Council, so that on the County Council the voluntary schools will probably not have the direct representation which they had on the School Board. In another respect this transfer to the County Council is most disastrous, and that is with regard to the ineligibility of women. I do not believe in entrusting women indiscriminately with public duties, but I am bound to say from my experience on the London School Board that it is impossible to overrate—and I ant sure the noble Marquess will agree with me—the value of the services of the women who serve 455 on the London School Board. I consider that women are indispensable to secure efficiency when you are dealing with a large number of female teachers.
* LORD RENY
To the debt of gratitude we owe to these women I do not think the noble Marquess contributes by this Bill, for women—although they may be elected on the Education Committees —are excluded from direct election to the educational authority. This Bill is also a disfranchising Bill. The franchise for the School Board is a lower franchise than that for the County Council. The electors for the School Board are—with the exception of the City—the ratepayers whose names are included in the rate-hook which is in force a month before the elections, and they are about 10 per cent. more than the electors for the London County Council. A rough estimate shows that, under the new conditions, you eliminate from the franchise about 90,000 voters. I admit that there was a just complaint with regard to the size of the electoral areas for the School Board and the frequency of elections. But it would have been very easy to have had an election in every County Council division on the same day as the County Council election. You would then have had on the new educational authority fifty-nine members, and you could have given them the right of co-optation to ensure the representation of all interests. The noble Marquess said, very properly, that you could not take away from the County Council the control of secondary education. That could have been provided for by placing on the new authority a certain number of representatives of the County Council, and in that way you could have obtained a body competent to deal with the great problem of London education.
An argument which the noble Marquess has not used, but which has often been used, in favour of the abolition of the School Board is that the number of persons who recorded their votes at the elections was very low. It is an unfortunate fact that so small a proportion of the electors have shown their appreciation of the services of the School Board. But the 456 voters who took part in the elections were those who cared for the educational work, and they returned to the London School Board representatives who took a real interest in their duties. With a larger poll the result of the elections might have been due to other influences not purely educational. I believe the noble Marquess will agree with me that the members of both parties on the School Board have displayed great public spirit and shown capacity to deal with the educational problem.
This Bill weakens the control of the ratepayers over educational expenditure, and the direct control of their representatives over education. It doubles the work of the County Council, and it does not give any satisfaction to the metropolitan boroughs or to the County Council. This is not the original Bill; it is the result of "inquiry" in another place, and in its present form I do not see why it was not made part of the Bill of last year. It destroys an administrative body which has accumulated experience, which has enjoyed the confidence of London parents, and which has been the means of rescuing from ignorance and vice thousands of young Londoners; and it destroys it at a moment when efficient elementary and other than elementary education is admitted to be one of the most urgent needs of the country. It deprives London of an organisation which had solved a difficult problem. We on this side-of the House do not wish to incur any responsibility for this Vandalism, and we are confident that whatever may be the verdict given by your Lordships to-day, the ultimate verdict will be one in favour of the opposition which we are in duty bound to offer to this measure.
To leave out the word 'now' and add at the end of the Motion the words, this day three months.'"—(Lord Reay.)
* THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, I have listened with very great care and respect 457 to the arguments of my noble friend who has just sat down. I hope he will pardon me if I say that looking to the controversy which has been, and is, raging on this subject outside the walls of Parliament, I believe that what he has said to-night will be regarded as an objection to details rather than an objection based on the fundamental principles of this Bill. The details are of the greatest importance; I do not underrate them in the least. The relation of the County Council to the Borough Councils as constituting the joint authority which will now be constituted instead of the School Board which will pass away is, I admit, a matter of the very highest importance. But when we look at what is, happening outside I maintain that these are not the matters which are at present Stirring the minds of those whose opposition to this Bill is constantly referred to as the main evidence that the Government is wrong in the action it took last year, and is taking this year. The arguments of my noble friend against the Bill—for the details of which I hold no special brief—are not the kind of force which has drawn multitudes through the streets to attend monster meetings in Hyde Park or the Albert Hall. They are not the kind of arguments which mainly find place in the organs of Nonconformity, which unite so largely in their opposition to this Bill. Still less are they the kind of arguments which would have led men law-abiding citizens in all ordinary beyond the kind of subsidiary questions concerns, to take the extreme course of pledging themselves to refuse to pay a rate levied under an Act such as this, In short, if we want to ascertain and to understand the objection which is felt to the Bill now introduced by the Government, we must look outside the range of criticism which has been launched against it in the speech of my noble friend
To me no stranger problem has presented itself in the modern history of England than the problem which is before us at this moment—the strange spectacle of vast numbers of honest, thoughtful, law- abiding citizens declaring that they will do anything rather than pay a the penny towards the furtherance of the 458 policy which this Bill promotes, and at the same time the total absence of support for that movement on the of those who in other matters raging we regard as responsible men. Every one of your Lordships must have found as I have, that in the ordinary inter course with his acquaintances, of whatever political party or section, he fails to find a single public man who is prepared to advocate the cause which is being so largely advocated and promoted outside by those who are agitating in this particular matter. That problem seems to me to be a strange one when I contrast the kind of denunciation of this movement which in daily conversation is current among all responsible public men with the total silence of such men outside public platforms. My noble friend is one of those whose opinions on such matters as this Bill deals with are listened to with respect by every one who has watched his educational career, and who knows how splendidly he has served the country in the position he holds as chairman of the London School Board— what a large and wise view he shows himself to be taking alike of undenominational and denominational schools with which, directly or indirectly, he has so much to do. But I do say that, if we are to deal with this matter in a manner which corresponds at all with the manner in which it is being dealt with out of doors, we must go back with which his speech dealt and look at the principles which are apparently inspiring the opposition, which has reached such large dimensions, to the Bill out of doors.
The real objection to this measure is directed against its first clause. It is as part of the educational policy of last year, and not as regards the details of administration as applied to London, that the opposition has reached the dimensions which it has at present attained. It has been frequently said by the loin which is before us at this opponents of the measure that this is last year's Bill made worse, because it is applied to London. That is a proposition I wish to deal with. In the current objections to the whole educational policy of the Government there 459 are two arguments which find a prominent place, and to both of which I think very great respect is due. They were current last year in Parliament and outside, and they are current still. The first was the argument that a Nonconformist child or a Nonconformist would-be teacher is frequently placed in a position in which no school is accessible to him or her except a school which is under Anglican control. I have always felt that was an objection for which there was a great deal to be said, and those who have supported the policy of the Government have tried to meet what we felt to be, so far as it goes, a real grievance. And we have, or rather the Government Bill has, done a great deal to meet this difficulty. Those who proclaim that the new arrangements make no concession to the feeling of Nonconformists have apparently forgotten that every Nonconformist pupil teacher now for the first time is placed in precisely the same position as a pupil teacher belonging to the Church of England. Besides this, it is open to every board of management to appoint assistant teachers from outside as well as from those belonging to the denomination, even if the trust deed of their school says that the teachers should be limited to the Church of England. In addition to these changes, the old conscience clause of course remains in force, with the result that any parent who does not wish his child to obtain denominational teaching, is able to withdraw that child from the denominational teaching given in a particular day school.
But does the alleged grievance which is stated to exist in the country with regard to the only available school being a denominational one exist at all in regard to London? Practically the overwhelming majority of London teachers and London children attend Board Schools, and therefore are in no way subject to such a possible grievance. It is impossible to find a street in London which is not within reach of an undenominational Board School, where any person may send his child, and where anyone duly appointed, whatever his creed, may receive instruction in the art and craft of the teacher. Therefore, whatever its weight in regard to the Bill which passed last year affecting the rest of the country this objection, so far as it affects Nonconformists, has simply dis- 460 appeared altogether as regards London. Knowing, however, that that objection is still being used against this Bill, I think it right to call attention to it. It is really impossible to manufacture that grievance into a reality under this Bill.
Then there is another objection to which I wish briefly to refer. It is one which is constantly urged, and it is really a matter of fair argument, with respect, to the Bill of last year. The argument was this—that the Church was not entitled to claim as subscriptions given for Church education as such, anything like all the amount which has in recent years been given for the support of denominational schools throughout the country. I think I have a right to refer to that, for I for one, have reiterated again and again that we have no right to claim all that money as being contributed by those whose sole desire was to support denominational education. A great many people have subscribed with the object not of promoting denominational education, but of keeping out a rate which they thought would fall more heavily upon them than the subscription which they have been in the habit of giving, and that is an important deduction which must always be made when we are totalling up the amount, though, even when the deduction has been fully made, an enormous amount has been subscribed by private persons during the last thirty years with the definite object of promoting denominational education as such.
But when you come to London the objection to describing such subscriptions as being the Church's own gift to education absolutely and entirely disappears. Not a penny has been sub scribed in London during t he past thirty years towards the maintenance of these Church schools by any person who has not at the same time been rated for the Board schools. They subscribed, of course, because they wished to maintain the teaching of definite religion, the religious principle for which they cared, and they so subscribed in spite oh the fact that they were paying rates. That is an argument which, I think, is not sufficiently remembered in this matter. Nor do people realise the amount of money which has been so spent in London in regard to these 461 denominational schools. If we were to say that £2,000,000 have been subscribed in London for the building and maintenance of Church schools since the Act of 1870 was passed, we should certainly be under the mark; and that money was subscribed by people who were, as I have said, heavily rated for Board Schools all the time. This is mother fact which is not sufficiently borne in mind. I have in my hand a list of eleven schools taken from among those which have spent large sums during the ast thirty years on buildings, quite apart rom maintenance. Four of these have spent among them £35,970. The following letter, which I received to-day, is mother case:—Since the 1870 Act we have certainly spent lot less than £15,000, exclusive of site, on the buildings of our schools; and on a mission school in the poorer part of our parish (which s holding its own splendidly in spite of palatial Board schools) not less than £2,500. so far as apparatus, &c., is concerned, we rave kept things up to date, cud spent not less than all average amount of £950 a year on this item alone. Our voluntary contributions, respective of all grants, average little short of £1,000 per annum.If such amounts have been eagerly and continuously subscribed, I think it is plain shat we have an unanswerable case with regard to these voluntary schools. We are told that if the present government gives place to another set of men hostile to the principle of the Bill they will repeal the Act of last year and this Bill, and, as they express it, put things straight. I think it is fair to ask what you are going to do with schools like lose which I have described. Two millions have been subscribed by people who gave that money for the support of schools in which definite religious teaching can be given, on the lines of the Church of England, and they have it the same time paid the education Sate. Are you going to say that these schools are to be taken out of the predominant control of those who have contributed to their support, and landed over absolutely to a public authority which may or may not appoint teachers who are competent to give religious teaching, or whose religious beliefs correspond with the principles upon which those schools have been built and maintained so long? I think we have a right to an answer in the point before rejecting a Bill of this kind. Of course, by the Bill of last 462 year we have largely popularised the management of "voluntary" schools.
We have arranged with regard to these schools that they shall have publicly elected managers in addition to those who represent the denomination, then that the whole body, including the publicly elected managers, should choose the head teacher, and then, whether the decision arrived at was right or wrong, that this body should control (subject to the trust deed) the whole religious education given in that school. We, in short, are doing exactly what was recommended as the proper course to pursue by a leading Member of those who have opposed the Government policy. The point was discussed six years ago when the controversy was not so burning as it is now, when politicians were better able to look at it calmly and fairly, and when those who shared the opinions of noble Lords opposite were asked to state what could be their possible future policy in this matter. Mr. Asquith said, speaking in 1897—I have never gone the length of thinking or of saying nor I believe have any of my friends, that that 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 elect disestablish the denominational character of the schools, and transform them, and practically put them 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 religious 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 these schools should claim to have a preponderating voice in the choice of teachers.No words could better describe what has been now done; the denomination is not allowed to have complete control, but it is to have what Mr. Asquith calls "a preponderating voice," and the denominational teaching is to go on. But now all this is changed, and we are told that this denominational teaching is wrong, an injustice, and an evil, that it is contrary to the fundamental principle of citizenship if any man has to pay a rate any portion of which can go towards the support of schools in which denominational teaching is given.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
There was no question then of voluntary schools being relieved from subscriptions.
* THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
I entirely agree that the position has changed, and I do not wish to press Mr. Asquith's argument further than it will fairly go. But it would be absolutely untrue to say that voluntary schools are now relieved from the need of subscriptions, and the policy foreshadowed by Mr. Asquith in that memorable speech was that the denominational system must go on, and that there should be a predominant voice left to those who represent the schools. We are now told that it is a matter of conscience to refuse absolutely to pay a rate which can even in the smallest degree be so employed. I do not want to go into metahpysical questions, but any of your Lordships who remember the discussions which have taken place at various times, both in philosophical and theological circles, as to the meaning of "conscience," will know that the conscience must be informed as well as active if it is to exercise its task fully. It was said by a very profound thinker nearly 300 years ago—It is not enough that the conscience he taught by nature, but it must be…conducted by reason…and instructed by laws and sober principles, and then it is right and may be sure.Therefore I venture to think that when we hear conscience spoken of as something which must be blindly followed, we ought to ask whether pains have been taken to see that that conscience has been not merely kept alive and active, but has also been duly informed.
We are reminded that in one noteworthy respect the Bill does nothing to diminish the grievance found in the Act of last year. I mean the application to teachers of what are called religious tests. I apologise for going back to that point, although it may be unnecessary to argue it in this House, and I do not know if we shall to-night hear any more of the question. It is taken for granted outside that practically nothing can be said for the imposition of religious tests upon Civil servants in any department of State. I entirely agree with that large principle that for Civil servants the im- 464 position of a denominational or theological test is not merely an anachronism, it is a positive wrong; but surely it is mere pedantry to say that this is a principle which can be maintained in relation to those whose distinct work it is to give religious instruction, whether to old or young. Surely we art entitled to say that if a man is going to give religious teaching it shall be ascertained that he is qualified to give that teaching in a proper, straightfor ward, honest way. It seems to me mere pedantry to press the argument with which I entirely agree as applies to the position of Civil servants, to the case of teachers for the particular word a religious teacher has to do. Be it re membered there is no part of a teacher' duty so difficult, none that requires s, much training, none as to which it more necessary to have qualification tested, than the duty of teaching religion to little children. If you say—and am not now challenging the contention—that in provided or Board schools no sue. tests can be required or should be imposed, at least we may naturally ask you to keep alive and strong some school where a religious basis is the principle of the trust deed, and religious teaching is definitely carried out day by day not as a possibility depending upon the individual authority for the moment, but as a fundamental principle which cannot be departed from.
The noble Lord, the Chairman of the London School Board has reminded us ho good is the religious teaching given in the London Board schools; and he will do m the justice to say that I have never failed to extol the excellence of the religion teaching, so far as the law allows it, give in the schools under the presidency of the noble Lord. But why is it that the teaching is so excellent? Because the field of teachers from whom selection have been made consists mainly of me and women carefully trained as to how to give that teaching. I have take the pains to look into the facts, and find that out of a total of 1,468 heat teachers under the London School Board 860, or about three-fifths of the whole were trained in Church colleges, 303 can from the British and Foreign School, Society colleges, where religious teaching is carefully given, seventy-three from Wesleyan colleges, ten from Roma Catholic colleges, and eighty-eight fro 465 undenominational colleges, while the un-trained teachers muster 134. Why, it may be said, should this not go on under the new arrangements just as it has gone on hitherto? The reason is that you are now, most rightly, going to establish Day Training Colleges on every side, colleges, that is, giving no teaching in the art of imparting religious instruction to children, even if the colleges possess any religious character themselves; and before many years have passed the market for teachers, if I may use the word, will be flooded by teachers who have received no such training in religious education, and from among them you will often be obliged to make your selection; and I firmly believe that the time will come when those who at present oppose the policy of this Bill will be thankful that a large number of schools have maintained as a fundamental basis of their administration a test of the qualifications and fitness of the men and women whom they appoint to give religious teaching in the schools. That is valuable in itself, and it is valuable in the stimulus and example it gives to provided schools standing beside the denominational schools. There cannot be any doubt that the maintenance of a high standard of religious teaching in Board schools has been to a large extent due in the past twenty years to the fact that those schools have stood in friendly rivalry alongside others in which religion has been the fundamental basis of the teaching, this becoming infections and influencing the Board schools.
So much for tests. Now we are told it is distinctly and definitely wrong to pay for denominational teaching from the rates. You will remember how in the early debates of last session that principle was again and again maintained, overriding other arguments, and One of the foremost spokesmen against the Bill said—I agree that the question of the authority—[he was 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.In answer to that I need hardly stop to point out that the proposal is not peculiar, still less is it novel. It is the universal custom in Scotland, where 466 the government of schools is in the hands of the people, but rate-aid is given for denominational teaching. Obviously the fact that the government is wholly, and not, as with us, only partially, in popular hands does not affect the fundamental principle; for if it is a matter of conscience that not a sixpence from the rates should be given for denominational teaching, the question of authority does not matter. But I do not dwell on the Scotch analogy; nor upon the hugely important fact that even when you assess at its highest the amount paid for denominational teaching given in non-provided schools, the total amount so expended is far out-weighed by the annual cost of the buildings which the Church contributes for the educational system of the nation.
Are those who are active in urging this objection profoundly convinced that as a matter of conscience this aid to any and every form of denominational teaching must be resisted? Then are they aware that for many years the London School Board have maintained schools for members of the Jewish faith where a syllabus is used drawn up under the auspices of the Chief Rabbi and a Jewish Board of Education? These schools have been not only subsidised from the rates, but built and maintained out of the rates to meet the peculiar need that exists in regions where the Jewish faith is strong. I do not know exactly all the details as they exist to-day; but I find that ten years ago the School Management Committee called the attention of the Board to the fact that—Jewish teachers, because they are Jews or Jewesses, are appointed to teach Jewish children.And further that—The syllabus of Bible instruction is departed from by the total omission of all teaching from the New Testament.I believe it is the case that some modification has been made in recent years, but Lord Reay will correct me if am wrong. I believe that the syllabus drawn up as I have said is used in the schools attended by Jewish children, and Jewish fasts and festivals are observed in such schools atlhough they are also attended by many Christian children. What would 467 be said if we asked that schools should be closed on, say, Ascension Day? Jewish fasts and festivals are observed by the closing of these schools, and though I do not suppose the teachers are actually appointed upon denominational tests (for that would be clearly contrary to the whole theory of the School Board), practically they would seem in large measure to belong to the Jewish faith. I take a single school, and out of ten teachers I find the names of Abraham Levy, David Moses, Isidore Jacobs,.Joseph Bernberg, Alfred Tobias, and B. Lewis, and we can therefore experience no difficulty in conjecturing from whom the children get religious teaching. I commend the arrangement; I think the School Board is right in meeting a practical difficulty in this way; but to me it seems strangely in conflict with the principle which lays down as a matter of conscience that not a penny of the rates should be given for teaching that is not absolutely undenominational.
I believe the opposition to this Bill is very real; but are those who are directing it fully conscious that they are actuated less by opposition to the educational system proposed by the Government than by opposition to the principle of an Established Church I Anyone who reads the report of the speeches made at the recent meeting in the Albert Hall against the Bill must find it hard to realise that he is reading educational matter at all, so directly were the speeches couched in mere terms of antagonism to the Established Church. I do not complain of attacks upon the Church. The question whether an Established Church should continue is an arguable one, and there is a great deal to be said on either side. It is right that it should be argued by the citizens at large, and at all kinds of meetings; but I do object to that far larger quest ion being argued to this extent upon an Education Bill like this. The question whether this Bill ought to pass, and the question whether we ought in England to have a National Church are questions not wholly unconnected, perhaps, but certainly not so closely connected as to justify their being welded into one. Certainly we have a 468 right to criticise the basis of the arguments used in order to find out whether they rest on the education question or on the question whether or not the Established Church should continue to hold the position in the nation it now does.
Few things in my life have been more distressing and painful to me, and I am sure I can speak for my colleagues on the Episcopal Bench; few things have been more painful than to find ourselves placed in opposition to religious men, from whose religious teaching, speaking for myself, I have often learned so much, and to whom as fellow teachers and as ministers of our Christian faith I have learned to look with the most profound respect and gratitude. Nothing has been more painful to me than to find myself in opposition to men whom I desire so willingly to listen to. But the principles which are at stake in this whole controversy do seem to me to be so vital that I feel bound to take the line that I have taken in the absence of a definite constructive policy on the other side. Were such definite constructive policy before us from the other side, I should wish to give it, not only consideration, but the most favourable consideration I possibly could, in order, if possible, to allay the strife which is now going on. But it is indisputable that there has been no such constructive policy laid down as an alternative to the plan which, last year and this year, has emanated from the Government of the day. I therefore have found it impossible to withhold my support from a plan which seemed to me, whilst by no means faultless in its details, to be a fair attempt to deal with an extremely complicated and difficult question. The present strife is heated, but I belie e that heat to be due in a large measure to other than educational causes. I look forward, not without hope, to the time when I shall find myself, and others of my friends will find themselves, standing side by side with these very men, from whom at present we are compelled to differ, in a vigorous endeavour to promote that kind of education for England which, whilst it safeguards religious teaching in every school of the land, shall at the same time do its very best to further in every possible way the training of wise and capable citizens to 469 take their part in the general social life and work of the Empire as a whole.
My Lords, I think the speech with which the noble Marquess moved the Second Reading of this Bill was one of the most original speeches that have ever been made by a responsible Minister of the frown in introducing an important measure to Parliament. For, my Lords, his first question was. Why was not London included in the Bill of last year? And he proceeded to answer it by saying that London was not included because it was necessary to deal with the London boroughs. He then entered into a eulogy of the London boroughs and spoke of their importance and of the great difference there was between them and the boroughs in the country. I so far agree with the noble Marquess; there is a great difference between those authorities but it is all in favour of the boroughs in the country. The London boroughs have not the position, the power, or the duties that the great country boroughs have and are altogether subsidiary organisations. After all, the whole reason the noble Marquess brought forward for not including London last year was on account of the London boroughs, and I admit that the London boroughs bulked very largely in this Bill when it was first introduced, but they have to all intents and purposes dropped out of the Bill altogether and I contend that the speech of the noble Marquess was a speech, not in support of the Bill as it now stands, lint in support of the Bill as it was introduced into the I louse of Commons some months ago. The noble Marquess really supported the Bill in that form and apologised to the House for the changes which had been forced upon the Government, its I understood, greatly against their will.
I come now to the speech of the most rev. Primate. I am the first to acknowledge the conciliatory and states manlike tone of the speech, and for my part I am exceedingly sorry that it should have fallen to me to have to reply to it. But I shall endeavour to pit the case of those who differ from the most rev. Primate in as calm and as conciliatory a manner as he did, or, 470 after all, I am sure the wish of everyone who is interested in this subject is that the education of the children should be the first and the main object in spite of our personal or Party contentions. The most rev. Primate called attention to the fact that there were a vast number of law-abiding citizens in this country who did feel very strongly with regard to the Act that was passed last year and which is now about to be extended to London, and expressed surprise at the length to which they were prepared to go. He did not understand that they could have their feelings so moved that they should be willing to run the risk of even breaking the law in order to protest against what they considered to be an injustice. The most rev. Primate said that it is a most extraordinary thing that we do not meet these people, that your Lordships do not meet them and he wondered how that was. Well, my Lords, I can tell you why. It is because we are not Nonconformists. We, I am afraid, move in somewhat different circles. While they are members of great Free Churches the most rev. Primate has the proud privilege of being the head of a mighty and a very privileged Church, and—
* THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
I do not wish to be misunderstood. May I therefore explain that I meet Nonconformist friends every day—Nonconformists who are Members of the House of Commons or who hold other very responsible positions. I have the advantage of knowing scores of such friends, and of being in constant touch with them. The point I wished to make was this, that men who hold those responsible positions and are Nonconformists will all, in private, tell von that they entirely disapprove of what is taking place, but that they re-remain silent with respect to this particular matter on public platforms in the country.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
I imagine that the reason some of these men remain silent on the platforms in the country with regard to this subject is that they individually are not prepared to go to the length that some of their 471 fellows are. I am obliged to put myself in the same category. I am not prepared to go that length, but I am able to understand the position of those who are, and I think the fact that so many men who are generally law-abiding citizens of the first and highest description are willing to go to extreme lengths is a matter which deserves serious consideration. Then the most rev. Primate rather inferred that this was the real question in debate. I do not think that is quite the fact. Though it is a main question, the question of the authority, so far as this Bill is concerned, is also a main question and one which must not be set aside. The most rev. Primate said that the grievance of the children who found themselves in the 8,000 parishes in the country where there are only Church schools to attend, is one which only applies in a small degree to London, that it is non-existent practically in the Metropolis, because of the vast number of undenominational schools. I do not doubt that that particular grievance is greatly diminished in London, but I would venture to appeal to my noble friend the Chairman of the London School Board to bear me out in the assertion that, though it is a smaller grievance in London, yet it is one which is seriously felt. There are districts in London in which it is difficult indeed for a Nonconformist parent to find a school other than a Church school to which he can send his child.
What I desire to do is very briefly, and, I hope, very temperately to put the case of those who do feel themselves impelled to a breach of the law as a protest against the Act of last year, and of those who, I fear, will also be impelled to take a similar course here in London if this Bill becomes law in its present form. These men feel—and the most rev. Primate admitted it—that this education rate is really an outrage on their consciences. Their view is this, that by the Act of 1870 an agreement was come to, a compromise arrived at, which was binding to parties on both sides, and that the Act of 1902 and this Bill set the denominational schools free without giving any equivalent whatever. The point, I think, can be easily put by a quotation from a speech by Mr. Glad- 472 stone, at the time of the Act of 1870. This is what Mr. Gladstone said—we shall take care that under no circumstances shall the public grants be allowed so to operate as entirely to supply, together with the school pence, the sum necessary to support those schools, and that there shall always remain a void which must be filled up by free, private contributions, and without which those schools would no longer deserve the character of voluntary.It is now contended that that bargain has gone, and that the whole of tiff-charge for these schools is thrown upon the public purse in some form. I have in my hand a Report of the London Diocesan Board of Education which in. the most curious way shows the falling off in the subscriptions in the Diocese of London itself. This is a summary of Church collections, and it shows that during the four years from 1897 to 1900 inclusive the total contributions and collections in the Churches of England in the Archdeaconries of London and Middlesex amounted to £6,487, or an average of some £1,620 per annum. In 1901 those collections fell to £241 11s. 6d. and in 1902 to £189 14s. 2d. I think that shows what the effect of these proposals with regard to education has been and how much they have diminished the voluntary contributions to schools from members of the Church of England. There is one paragraph in this report worth quoting to your Lordships as a proof that in the opinion of the Diocesan Inspector religious teaching in some of these schools does not reach a very high level. Here is a passage from the report—There are infants who think our Lord was born last Christmas Day. I have even been told that it was our present King Edward who killed the Holy Innocents. Herod and Edward are quite similar enough to be confused by infants.I do not think that that shows evidence of successful religious instruction in these. schools. It is held that Parliament over steps its province when it lays down that Nonconformists or any other citizens shall be rated for the direct support of sectarian teaching in which they do not believe. A subordinate id the noble Marquess recently wrote—It is almost incredible that a law should be passed in this land of boasted freedom which compels a parent to pay for the proselytising of his own children, for that is what it comes to.473 It cannot be denied that these proposals do really amount to a new endowment of the Church and to a new Church rate. I maintain that they also involve an outrage on the consciences of teachers, for after all, so far as the head teachers are concerned, in all these denominational schools you insist that they shall be members of one particular denomination. The most rev. Primate frankly said that the religious teaching given in the Board schools was of a very high level, and I would also venture to remind your Lordships that another right rev. Prelate, the Bishop of St. Asaph, absolutely suggested that the syllabus of the London School Board should be taken as a model and adopted as a means of compromise in Wales. If these men, who are not subject to such tests in the London School Board, are capable of giving such good religious instruction, instruction that is approved by the Episcopal Bench itself, surely you need have no fear for the future, and you will still have religious instruction suited to the needs of young people even if these tests are taken away, while at the same time the field of choice of teachers will be enormously enlarged. You would avoid all charge that you were imposing religious tests, and that teachers were induced to announce their adherence to a particular denomination in order that they might get promotion in the profession that they had chosen.
Surely it is a very great grievance that young persons entering the teaching profession who do not belong to the Church of England should for ever afterwards, unless they give up the doctrines of the sect to which they belong, and in which, perhaps, they were born, have to sacrifice the opportunity of rising to the highest places in a large number of schools. Then we say that when a school or any other institution is dependent for its existence or support on public money, public management must follow. It is not right that a private individual should step in and have the management and disposal of public money. Take this Bill itself. You have but a very small proportion of the managers of these voluntary schools appointed by the local educational authority. In London you will have, say, four managers appointed by the Church, one by the higher local authority, the London County Council, and one by the Borough Council. 474 Representatives of the public, those who are responsible for the public purse, will always be in a minority. I hold that in matters of this sort the public should be represented by a majority of the managers, and we cannot do other than regret this provision in the Bill. It will not be denied that the Act of last year was the result of a bargain between the Government and the Church of England.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
Again and again representatives of the Church of England were consulted, but Nonconformists were not consulted. It is felt by those who were not consulted that, not having been consulted, they cannot be bound by the terms of that bargain; and even that bargain, so far as the Church was concerned, was continually being improved upon to the advantage of the Church, for your Lordships will remember that as the Bill passed through this House last year additions were made to it at the very last moment which largely increased the benefit that the Church obtained under the Bill and which really enabled the Church almost to make a profit out of its schools. These considerations must introduce an element of disunion into the whole question of education, and one which must impair its efficiency.
We now come to the question of the authority, which I look upon as of equal importance to that section of the subject with which I have already attempted to deal. I think this question of London education is one which we ought to look upon not merely as a London question but as a national question, because whatever makes for good education in London must exercise a great influence on the country as a whole. I do not think it will be denied that the London School Board has set up a standard for elementary education throughout the length and breadth of the land. The Technical Education Board of the London County Council has also set a great example in the promotion of technical education. The London School Board has undoubtedly had a great and good influence on the voluntary schools in London, and if it had not been for the existence of the London School Board, I do not 475 hesitate to say that those voluntary schools would have been even in a worse condition than they are now. I do not think anything speaks more eloquently as to the difference between the condition of these two classes of schools at the present moment than the fact that whilst in the Board schools you have one certified touchier for every fifty one children, in the voluntary schools you have only one certificate I teacher for every 131 children on the roll. Again, an ex-colleague of the noble Marquess has this year said that—The London School Board was one of the most magnificent pieces of constructive work which had been accomplished in our time.And yet it is that magnificent piece of constructive work that you are going to sweep away at a single blow. And why? Can it be shown that any other body is likely to do the work batter? Is the County Council likely to do the work better? Is it likely to have it in its power to do the work better? In London you nave some 2,000 educational institutions iii all; you have some 20,000 teachers and about 1,000,000 and you have to deal with a sum of £1,000,000 per year, and you are proposing to throw the whole of this great work on to the London County Council. The London County Council is a pretty well worked body already. There are 137 Members and sixty-eight committees, and there were held last year 1,313 meetings of, one sort and another. If this Bill becomes law any member of the London County Council, who takes upon his shoulders the work of education plus the work of the County Council, will have the whole of his time filled up to the exclusion of any other business whatever, whether it be private or public.
This sudden determination to hand over London's education to the County Council is surely a strange piece of inconsistency on the part of the Government. For the last six, seven, eight or nine years—as long as I have had the honour of a seat in this House—whenever it has been proposed to give the London County Council additional work, we have always been told that it was such an overworked body that it could not possibly undertake it. Lord Salisbury said the County Council was afflicted with 476 megalomania, and could not possibly undertake additional work. The Colonial Secretary told us that it the members of the London County Council. were archangels from Heaven they could not undertake more work, and I have an interesting quotation here from a speech by the noble Duke the Leader of this House, made in 1898, in which he said—The County Council has had entrusted to it duties and powers sufficient to occupy the attention of any ordinary body. It has to deal with ail those matters which are the common concerns of 4,500,000 people. It has to administrate a revenue and expenditure of £3,500,000. These duties are so large and multifarious that it has quite sufficient business, and quite sufficient important business, to occupy its whole and undivided attention.And only last year, when it was proposed that the duty of looking after London's water supply—which, after all, is essentially a municipal matter—should be entrusted to the London County Council, it was stated that the County Council could not possibly undertake this work in addition to is other work. The County Council was, therefore, only given fourteen members on the London Water Board, but still, of course, this means an addition to its work. You have given it this addition, and you are going to give it apparently ditties with respect to the Port of London. It has already got duties with respect to the Thames and Lea Conservancies over and above its ordinary work, and yet you now propose to throw upon it this gigantic business of education.
The argument of the Government has always been that London ought to be treated in an exceptional manner. But, so far from maintaining that theory, the very object of this Bill, as stated by the noble Marquess, is to extend the Act of last year, as it applied to the country, to London, and to all intents and purposes the Act of last year is extended by this Bid to London with one exception, that the Borough Councils are to appoint lour of the managers of the provided schools and the education authority itself two only of those managers. That seems to me to be a most unfortunate provision, because, after all, who is to be responsible for the work and the policy of education in those provided schools but the education authority? Yet you are going to 477 give the supreme authority power to appoint only one-third of the managers, and you are giving the other two-thirds to the Borough Councils who are not otherwise brought into the scheme of the Government in any way, and are absolutely unfitted to carry out these duties. You are encouraging differences between the head authority and the minor authorities by these provisions. If you were giving the London County Council two-thirds of the managers and the minor authority one-third, I could it understand the, sense in that, and that is an improvement in the Bill which I practically upon its own basis. I had hope will be pressed in this House. I, for my part, shall certainly support the Motion of the noble Lord behind me. I do so for three reasons. I take exception to this Bill, first, because it abolishes the London School Board, and incidentally in doing that, abolishes direct representation Of women on the central authority; secondly, because it quarters sectarian schools on the rates without keeping the management in the hands of the public; and thirdly, because it allows tests to be imposed on teachers in non-provided schools, which is a great hardship to Nonconformists who adopt the teaching profession.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
My Lords, you will probably expect me, as Bishop of London, to say a few words to-night upon this Bill. Let me state at once that I do not consider it my rôle to defend the action of the Government with regard to the County Council. It may be that they have conceived a greater idea of the powers of the London County Council than they at first had. Nor do I feel in the slightest degree disposed to attack the work of the London Leaving School Board, for I have the greatest admiration for that body. We all owe it a great debt of gratitude for the zeal and energy it has displayed, and I think the noble Lord opposite who has moved the rejection of this Bill will admit that some of the best managers have been clergymen of the Church of England. Nor do I mean to raise the question which we fought from the Episcopal Bench in the Bill of last year with regard to the management of the schools. We do not agree with one or 478 two of the provisions with regard to the management of schools, but I do not think it would be statesmanlike to raise that question again on this Bill. I wish to deal to-night only with the morality of the Bill, but before I do so I should like to reply to one or two points raised by Lord Tweedmouth. The noble Lord quoted from the London Diocesan Report and he fell into a natural error, That Report merely gives the accounts of a body which helps the voluntary schools. Each voluntary school stands myself in Bethnal Green to spend £8,000 on one school. We shall issue an appeal in a few weeks in London for £30,000 for the repairs of the voluntary schools of the Metropolis. Are we paying' nothing towards the voluntary schools when we are undertaking burdens like that? As to the errors by infants which the noble Lord quoted flour the Diocesan Report, it surely cannot be considered a serious thing that a few infants made mistakes about Herod. I am sure noble Lords themselves made many mistakes in infancy in regard to Bible history.
I deny emphatically that there was any bargain between the Church and the Government with regard to the Act of last year. What happened was that in our joint meeting of Convocation we formulated certain conditions which we were ready to submit to. I proposed myself that there should be, up to one-third, popular representation on the board of management and carried it by a largo majority, but the fact that these things were written down, anal that the Government took them into consideration in framing the Bill, cannot be said to constitute a bargain.
Leaving the points raised by the noble Lord I come to the main question, and that is the morality of this Bill. I endeavour to work with all religious bodies in London, and I shall be distressed by any interruption to that happy co-operation. If it could be proved that this was an immoral Bill I should not support it, however much the Church of England might be benefited. But what are the facts? It is said that the Bill violates the conscience of the ratepayer, that it will lead to unfair proselytizing of the children, and that it hands over the 479 schools to the priests. As to the conscience of the ratepayer, the Finance Committee of the London County Council have published figures which show that while the London voluntary schools cost £180,000 a year, the new subvention will amount to £240 000; so that at first there would be a balance of £60,000 without touching the rates. They calculate that as the years go on, and they level up the voluntary schools, the expenditure will be increased. No doubt that will be so as the levellingup process advances; but that process relates to the secular education in voluntary schools, and therefore the Nonconformist ratepayer can feel content that at no time will a penny of his rates be spent in denominational teaching.
As to the serious charge of proselytising, the record of the Church should be a sufficient answer. But what may possibly be a grievance in the country schools cannot be one in London, where there is no child in any quarter who cannot find a place in an undenominational school if its parents wish it. As to handing over the schools to the priests, we know that that is a platform grievance only. I have been gravely assured that the fiscal policy of the Colonial Secretary is due to the influence of the priests upon him in the hope of a rise in the tithe. When we are told that, this Bill hands over the schools to the tyranny of the priests, surely we have only to recall the principle of the Bill. By this Bill the clerical influence in the schools is diminished. There is full representation of the laity; and lest any one should be led away with the idea that domination by the priest is brought in, I must state again that we have, with our eyes open, allowed the clerical influence in our schools to be largely diminished by the Bill. There is no grievance that should be a grievance in a Christian country in the fact that 175,000 children in London will be taught definite religion by those who believe in it.
Is there no grievance on the other side? I urge that the position of those who have provided voluntary schools, given subscriptions for their maintenance, worked for them year after year, ought to be taken into account in dealing with this matter. I deny the truth of the statement that all the voluntary schools are 480 inefficient. I appeal to the reports of the school inspectors, which have shown neither fear nor favour, to prove that the voluntary schools, in spite of their difficulties, have done most excellent work, have received high grants year after year, and have deserved a better requital from the country than either to be ruthlessly extinguished or to he deprived of the possibility of fulfilling the purpose for which they have been founded. I cannot then find any injustice in this Bill. The Government have carried out a difficult piece of work, and have tried to show fair play to Churchmen and Nonconformists. It is because I believe it to be their wish to carry out in a statesmanlike way the policy of saving Church schools while bringing in the element of public control that I heartily support the Second Reading of the Bill.
My Lords, may I be allowed to interpose for a few minutes in this debate? It has been my good fortune to have served as an elected member of the London School Board, and at this moment I happen to be a member of the London County Council. I do not propose to follow the right rev. Prelate with regard to the religious arguments that he addressed to your Lordships, but what seems to have been lost sight of in the two very able speeches we have listened to from the Episcopal bench is the practical working of the Bill. I must say I agree with my noble friend Lord Reay, who set such store by the details of the Bill. There is a general consensus of opinion expressed, I think by all speakers in this House, and by a great many, if not all, outside, as to the valuable work that has been done by the London School Board. The chorus of approval is so universal and sincere, and the commendation of such a high character, that I must say I have heard no efficiently valid reason, either from the noble Marquess, or from other speakers, why the London School Board should be done away with.
If after thirty years' existence the London School Board had been found to have been guilty of certain shortcomings, would it not have been possible, to use a hackneyed phrase, to have mended the School Board instead of ending it? I turn to the two sets of 481 duties performed by the London School Board and the London County Council, and I ask your indulgence for so doing because my noble friend Lord Reay had, with the great authority of Chairman of the London School Board, dealt with that subject in his speech. But I occupy a different position from the noble Lord because, whilst he has acted with so much distinction as Chairman of the School Board, I, as one of the elected members, have had to do with much of the details which he has enumerated to your Lordships. The work of the London School Board is quite enough to occupy the whole time of those who undertake these duties. As Lord Keay pointed out, there are various committees, and every head and sub-head of administration has to be dealt with by those committees.
But there is another side of the work which is not transacted at the offices on the Thames Embankment. I allude to certain committees which sit in the localities. One is the District Committee, at the meetings of which the members of the district deal with a great many points of detail arising in their district. Then there is what is called Notice B. Committee, which has to do with children's attendances, and so forth. My great fear is, if this Bill is carried and these duties are placed upon the London County Council, that in a great measure these very delicate as well as responsible duties must to a certain extent fall into the hands of the officials of the London County Council. These officials are, no doubt, very conscientious people, but at the same time I do think they ought to be thoroughly supervised by a member of the Board itself.
Perhaps a personal reminiscence of my own in regard to the work of the School Board is worth columns of prepared argument and theory. I remember very well, when I was first returned to the School Board, sitting next to a lady member who was certainly one of the host practical and common-sense people I ever came across, with the most wholehearted interest in education. She said to me "How much time do you propose to give to this work?" I was quite new to my responsibilities and obligations, and I replied that I hoped to attend the Board meetings and also the meetings of any 482 committees to which I might be appointed. The comment that that reply brought was—"That is no use at all." My friend stated that she was engaged certainly for five days in the week, and very often for six. She then proceeded to explain the nature of the duties, and I have no doubt that in her opinion I have proved a very lame member of the Board. But if the duties of the London School Board are important and onerous, I certainly can say from the year's experience I have had on the London County Council, that the duties of that body are not less important, but are certainly more onerous. Though I have only been one year on the County Council, I have acquired a tolerably good insight into its work. I have been able to estimate the enormous quantity of work which the County Council performs over an almost illimitable field of labour, and also, if may say so, to very thoroughly appreciate the genuine single-mindedness of its members and the zeal and energy they have displayed.
The London County Council has to do with every conceivable work of administration, and while many people not far from here, despise, or attempt to despise, the London County Council, I believe that it is really growing in the affections of the great masses of the people of London. I am not surprised at that, because they know that their best interests are involved in the pure administration of that body. My noble friend Lord Tweedmouth referred to the immense volume of work that they perform, and I should like to say here that whilst on the one hand, we have heard deprecatory remarksabout the London County Council, I have also observed that of late years more work has been put upon their shoulders. Last year fourteen of its members were detailed for work on the London Water Board, and next year, as you have been reminded, the County Council may have to take its share in the government of the Port of London and if, in addition to that, there is added the work of the London School Beard, I venture to say that the burden will be too heavy for it to bear. I am afraid that part of the work of education will fall into the hands of the additional members, so to speak, of the Education Committees, who, though they may be no doubt admirable people, will not be directly representative of the ratepayers.
483 Mention has been made to-night of the Technical Education Board, to which the County Council supplies twenty members, and universal commendation has been given to its work. I should like to refer for a moment to the recent gift of a college, announced by Lord Rosebery, and to say, as some criticism has been made, how deeply we appreciate this gift and the munificient generosity which prompted it. I greatly regret the abolition of the London School Board as an elected ad hoc assembly. The work, of course, will fall on to the shoulders of the London County Council, and I am perfectly certain, severe though that work will be, that that body will take it up with enthusiasm and thoroughness, and with the desire to do their utmost for the education of the people of London. But, while I make that admission, I greatly regret that the London School Board is to cease to exist, and I shall with the greatest sincerity give my vote in favour of the Motion of my noble friend behind me.
* THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
My Lords, I had indulged the hope that this Bill might not have arrived in this House during the present session, but seeing that we have it before us I feel bound to support the Motion of the noble Lord opposite. As I understand the matter, this Bill is, with a few modifications, simply an application to London of the Act which was passed last year for the rest of the country; and the plea of the noble Lord is that we should not at this moment attempt to apply that Actto the Metropolis. I heartily support that view in the interests of the good education of the Metro-, polis, because I have a profound conviction that if this matter is deferred till next year the Metropolis will get a far better Education Bill than this one. I support delay in the interests, also, of harmony and peace. I support it, too, on the ground of what I may call rudimentary civic justice. I still hold that the Act of last year contravenes the fundamental principles of rudimentary civic justice and equality, and, having that conviction, I cling to the hope that this application of the Act to London may be deferred. Above all, I may say 484 I hold this view in the interests of the Established Church of England. I had my fears a year ago, and my experience since has tended to confirm those fears, that the passing of that Act would do a real injury to the best interests of tip, Church of England. On this ground I most earnestly support the Mo ion of the noble Lord. I do so feeling that there is nothing to lose and a great deal to gain by delaying this matter. Then!, is nothing to lose, because the application of this Act will do very little to improve the education of London for some time to come, and there is a great deal to gain, because it will be a great advantage to us if only for the next twelve months we can keep London out of that zone of discord and embitterment which the Act of last year has established all over the country.
Another reason is that next year we may hope for a much better Bill. There are indications that we may have a new Parliament before next year, and possibly a new Government. I cannot but feel that the probabilities are highly in favour of that new Parliament producing a far better Bill than this one, and, if we have not a new Government, we may entertain the hope of having the-noble Duke who leads this House back in Ids place, freed from some of those entanglements which I believe have kept him from giving us so good a Bill as he has desired to give. I venture to say that there are a great many of us who have opposed the noble Duke in this matter who would support him heart and soul if he were in a position to give us the kind of Bill which we feel sure, from what we know of his educational record outside Parliament, he would give if he were free to give us of his best. If this Motion is rejected, what is the alternative? The alternative, as I understand it, is that you will embroil the metropolis as you have embroiled the country; that will be the main fruit of the application of last year's Education Act to London.
It is a matter of wonder—I had almost said of amazement—to me that the Government should not have learned any lesson from the experience that has been gained since the Act of last year became law. You have every indication that public opinion is strongly against 485 this type of legislation. The feeling in the country is very acute, and there is a great deal of indignation that these measures should be pressed upon the country by a Government that was elected for an entirely different purpose. Yet in spite of all these undoubted evidences of the rooted objection of the country to some of the fundamental principles in this legislation, the Government have persevered. I cannot but feel that it is a sort of political infatuation thatleads them on. Our own Church, as is becoming more and more evident, is by no means in love with the Act of last year. There are scores of clergy who are profoundly dissatisfied with it. I am not going into the grounds of their dissatisfaction, but the fact remains that a great number of clergy and also a great many thoughtful lay Churchmen are profoundly anxious about the effect of that Act. They are uneasy about it, and they begin to see that it is an Act which may possibly lead to issues they had never anticipated. They begin to feel that under the entirely new conditions which have been created by the rate aid to all voluntary schools, our Church, as regards her educational position, has been left in a condition of unstable equilibrium, or, to put it in the plainer words of the late Archbishop of Canterbury, "the slippery slope" of rate aid.
The clergy are beginning to feel that what has been a temporary gain may prove only the introduction to a state of things which they had never anticipated, and to which they would strongly feet. They fear that their leaders have not been as far-seeing as they might have been. We have urged that we ought to maintain the control of our own schools, but we have contended that the schools should be maintained out of the rates. Each of these may be good, but we cannot hope to permanently have them both. It is in direct opposition to all our constitutional traditions that we should have them both, and so we shall lose in the long run. That is why I venture to say that this Act has been a temporary gain of a very dangerous kind. We are beginning to see that we have been blindly grasping at things which are incompatible, as indeed we Bishops and clergy do too often. Just 486 as in Church government we desire to remain established and endowed, and yet to be independent of Parliament and the Lay Courts, or to retain the national character of the Church and yet to narrow the franchise of lay membership, to a commit Meant or confirmation test, an impossible combination, so in this Education Controversy we have made the same mistake. If we pass from the Anglican Church to the Roman Catholic Church, we hear it said in the House of Commons that Roman Catholics are nor satisfied with this Act. They havereceived, as we have, a very substantial endowment under the Act. I do not complain of their having received it. I think that, by their devoted work on behalf of the children of the very poor, they have deserved any help that can be given them quite as much as any of us. But I ate astonished that the Government are going to apply this endowment to the Metropolis, as it is applied to the country, because there can be no doubt at all that this kind of endowment does give a great deal of offence to a great many of the Protestant supporters of the Government.
Turning to another part of the field of our unhappy divisions I observe that the most rev. Primate is sanguine enough to hope that all the difficulties with regard to what is called "passive resistance" will soon be got over, and that things will resume their normal state. I am not so sanguine. I am old enough to remember some of the experiences of the Church Rate agitation, and I see the possibility of this proving a new Church Rate agitation which will win in the end, as the old one did. I am surprised that the Government should have done nothing to avert the passive resistance agitation in London. They might have seen how large is the number of persons with settled convictions on this matter, and whose consciences have been very deeply injured. That leading politicians have not taken part in the movement is no limitation to its importance. It is on the otherhand evidence of its genuine strength YourLordships do not fully realise the convictions, even the prejudices, of people who live in a different sphere, and I lament the ignorance of the ordinary English Churchman in regard to the religious-life and convictions of Nonconformist 487 bodies Your Lordships know very little of these feelings at first hand, unless you happen to be Scotsmen; they do not come home to Churchmen as they do to the average middle-class Nonconformist. It is rash to take an optimistic view of this agitation. The Government have drifted into a rash policy in putting this Bill before Parliament when they have their eyes open to the effect the Act of last year has produced. On these grounds, among others, I support the Motion of the noble Lord opposite.
As regards the Bill itself I will not go over my objections, which are as strong against this as against the parent Bill. Of refusal of public control for schools publicly maintained I would only say that it is a political axiom that schools so maintained should be controlled by those who maintain them. Moreover, the closing of the door against so many applicants for the post of head teacher will produce the greatest discord and strife, and be an injury to both religion and education. It has not been sufficiently recognised that by the changes of last year's legislation the great body of teachers have virtually become Civil servants of the State, and I shall be surprised if they are content to be barred from the promotion open to other Civil servants. I shall be amazed if the National Union of Teachers do not protest against the exclusion of half their members from so many of the best posts in the service. The Government can hardly realise what forces of discord and bitterness they are letting loose, and I am afraid of the result of these forces in the Metropolis with its vast multitudes of people. I make a last appeal to the Government not to proceed with the Bill. In the destruction of the London School Board they are sweeping away one of the most efficient educational organisations brought into existence in our time, whose splendid work has deeply interested the people. I am quite unable to understand what it was that induced the Government to destroy the School Board. I can find no explanation of their action, except that it is part of what is called an anti-popular movement of the time, an anti-democratic tendency, 488 putting into practice the feeling Mr. Gladstone called—Distrust of the people qualified by fear.It involves also the disfranchisement of women for service where they have been most useful. I am glad to see there is some sign of grace, and even of penitence, in regard to educational endowment, and I take the clause as evidence that the Government admit they were wrong last year. But it is only a half-hearted repentance, and I propose to move an Amendment in Committee to make the repentance thorough and effective. But even now, I appeal to the noble Duke to allow the Motion of the noble Lord opposite to be carried and to put this Bill on the shelf to moulder there innocuous, for I am certain no Government of the future would ever take it. down again. The Bill will do a minimum amount of educational service, but it will sow an immense amount of discord, antagonism, and bitterness between religious denominations, and do more than anyone can estimate to retard the good work denominations are doing in growing harmony, putting it back for no man knows how many years.
§ The sitting was suspended at a quarter to Eight o'clock till Nine o'clock.
§ On the resumption of the House,
* THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
said my Lords, the question of this Bill before us has already been discussed in a great many aspects by noble Lords who are infinitely better able to discuss it than and I do not wish to follow the many questions that have been raised by the right rev. Prelate who spoke last. They are questions that I do not feel justified in entering upon, but which ought more properly to be dealt with by his colleagues on the Episcopal Benches. I wish to deal with one aspect, and one aspect in particular, ill connection with this Bill. The noble Lord who moved the rejection of the Bill speaks, of course, with very great authority as Chairman of the London School Board, and as one of his humble followers and servants on that School Board I dislike very much to find myself in opposition to anything he has said—more especially as it will probably be taken out of me when we meet next October if I go too 489 strongly for my Chairman. At the same time, the noble Lord made an eloquent appeal on behalf of the London School Board and seemed extremely eager that the scheme of this Bill should be dropped and that the whole of education should be handed over in some new scheme to the London School Board as it is now constituted. I rise to point out that the recommendation naturally comes with some weight from him as Chairman of the School Board, but in voicing these opinions he is not voicing the unanimous opinion of the London School Board as at present constituted. The attitude of the London School Board towards that Bill has been a very curious one. Last December they passed a very lengthy and complicated Resolution as to what they considered to be the proper educational government of London for the future. The gist of the whole thing was that they were in favour of an ad hoc authority. This year on the 30th April a Motion to petition Parliament against this Bill on behalf of the London School Board was thrown out, and vet three weeks later, on the 21st May they again passed a Resolution in favour of an ad hoc authority, though new areas now crept in to those advocated in the former Resolution—and finally, last week a fourth Motion to again petition Parliament against this Bill was withdrawn. Now, my Lords. I do not bring forward this proof of the vacillation of the London School Board in any vindictive spirit, but merely in order to show that the majority of the Board—but only the majority—are frantic at the idea that through the abolition of the Board they will not have the work to perform which they have performed for a great many years, and which presumably they like very much. But it is not natural to expect that their suggestion as to what we ought to do for the future government of London would be very logical or reasonable. No one ever expected the fatted calf to give reasonable suggestions for celebrating the home-coining of the prodigal son, and for the same reason the London School Board cannot be expected to give reasonable suggestions for a Government which is to supersede them. But here the simile stops. The minority which is only six or seven less on this subject 490 than the majority, welcomes this Bill. We welcome it because really we believe it will tend to the better organisation of educational effort in London. At the present time education is in too many hands. I do not wish to recapitulate the numerous authorities which now have to deal with it, but at present we have too many cooks and the broth is getting spoilt.
I welcomed last year's Bill because I believed that by it the state of affairs of too many authorities would be remedied in the country, and I welcome this Bill because I think it will apply the same amelioration to the lot of London. My Lords, unless some such re-organisation is carried out it is impossible to expect us to compete properly with the highly organised systems in vogue on the Continent, that furnish us with competitors in every walk of life. I do not wish to minimise the work done by the London School Board. There are proofs that since the Act of 1870 was passed, when the educational system was in a state of chaos, a great deal has been clone for the amelioration of that system. That is due to two influences, the direct and the indirect influence of the London School Board. It is admitted on every side, however, that the School Board has two vital defects, and these, in the interests of the education of London, must be eradicted, and they can only be so eradicted by the abolition of the Board. The first great defect is that it has undoubtedly lost its hold on popular interest. This is the point to which the noble Lord the Lord Reay referred in moving the rejection of the Bill—and I do not fancy the noble Lord thinks it matters—that only 18 per cent. of the voters went to the poll at the last election. Now, my Lords, I think it a very great pity that the public do not take more interest in the people who are managing their education for them. But more than that, I have heard it solemnly asserted that although only 18 per cent. of the electors went to the poll that was no worse than any other election that takes place in the country. That is only one type of the arguments advanced by the opponents to the Bill. It is absolutely contrary to the facts, as at the last election for the Borough and County Councils, and for the House of 491 Commons, in London there were vastly heavier polls than 18 per cent. of the electorate. I have the figures here, and they show that these other bodies have undoubtedly far greater interest in the eyes of the public than has the London School Board. It is a great pity, but it is so. The second defect, that is the reason for my troubling your Lordships to-night, is that undoubtedly the work of the Board is vastly over-centralised. In this, my Lords, I cannot conceal from myself lies the great danger to the new body that is to deal with the future education in London. The Lord Reay stated the fact that a great deal of the work of the London School Board is now delegated. It is delegated to a dozen committees which sit at the offices on the Victoria Embankment. But that is not nearly enough. The delegation ought to he to bodies sitting in the localities in which the schools actually are.
At present the educational machine in London, so far as the London School Board is concerned, is clogged by the fact that nothing, absolutely nothing, can be done by any official of the Bard without a reference to Victoria Embankment, the headquarters of the Board. And, my Lords, if I may trespass on your patience a few minutes, I would ask to bring before your notice some extracts that I have made from the records of some of the committees sitting at the Victoria Embankment offices which will prove my point. The first case was brought to my notice by Mr. Thompson, the Leader of the Conservative Party of the London School Board. It happened in the Victoria School, Becklow Road, Hammersmith. Noble Lords will remember that the weather of the last spring was very bad; we had a great deal of rain, and we had a great deal of fog. The head teacher of one of the departments in the school went into her room one morning to start her class, but was promptly driven out by the smoke from the chimney. She took the children into another room and sent for the local chimney-sweep to sweep the chimney. That was done. Two hours afterwards the school resumed its duties, and the sweep received one shilling for his work. In due time the demand of the teacher for repayment was made to the clerk of the works, and a most lengthy correspondence ensued. In the first 492 place, my Lords, it was pointed out that the chimneys had been swept only three months before, and the Board could not therefore sanction the expenditure. The correspondence started from the clerk of the works to the schoolkeeper it went from the schoolkeeper to the head teacher, from the head teacher to the managers, and from the managers back to the clerk of the works. The result was that a dossier of correspondence was collected, and it was eventually decided that some expenditure must he admitted in view- of this being a special case, but that as the Board's contract price for chimney-sweeping was only sixpence, that amount only could be allowed; the other sixpence must come out of the pocket of the head teacher. The Board its that way saved sixpence to the ratepayers, but only after three or four shillings had been spent in postage stamps in the process. My Lords, I have a number of other cases which I will mention quickly in order to show that this is not an isolated case. To show how detail is dragged out until one is heartily sick of the whole thing; here is a case of a school in the Tower Hamlets. Five months and a half have elapsed since the application was originally made by the teacher of the infants' department to spend a small sum on painting dots and lines on the floor in order to teach the babies to walk straight. Leave to do that has not yet been given. In a school in Southwark it took two months for a head teacher to obtain leave to hang certain pictures on the wall. For no picture can be hung on the walls of a school without reference to the Victoria Embankment. In Fulham three months elapsed before the head teacher could get a cupboard in which to store the needlework of her pupils. In a school at Hackney four and a half months were necessary to have a room altered into an art room, although the alteration merely consisted of providing a couple of blinds and a centre gas light. Again, in the Tower Hamlets three months went by before the head teacher could get six small ink-well trays for putting water in with which the pupils could wet their painting brushes; and at Hackney four months elapsed before a teacher could be given an extra cupboard. Lastly, I have a case that came before the School Management Committee, in 493 which it took seven and a half months to decide of what material the infant truants in the Upton House Truant School should have their nightshirts made. All these later cases, except one, were cases in which delay was not caused by argument or discussion. They were all routine applications, which were granted as a matter of course as soon as the proper authority heard of them. Your Lordships may ask who was responsible for these delays. I am not making any accusation against any of the officials. I think we have on the London School Board a set of officials of whom any public body might be proud. We have a splendid staff, but the fact is, that the machine is clogged by all this ridiculous detail.
There is a perfect remedy that can be applied by the new authority, and it is that these petty details must be attended to by the managers of the schools, and the central body must have nothing whatever to do with theta. I sincerely hope this is what will happen under the new Bill. My Lords, I may suggest one or two points that could be delegated to the managers. There are, for instance, the minor affairs of management miscellaneous expenses, subject perhaps to a limit of £10 a year for each school, chimney sweeping, sanitary repairs. plumbing, and carpentering work, and drainage repairs. Secondly, the details of enforcing attendance at school might be left to the local authorities, who could deal with the parents direct. The central authority could surely trust the managers to look after this matter themselves. Then again, die appointments to be made in the lower grades, or at any rate the sitting of the applications for those appointments. could be well left to the managers There are many other alterations which would go to making up a working system. If these petty details are not delegated and the London County Council try to control the whole machine, which is now clogged by the work in connection with 500 schools, how touch more will that machine be clogged when 200 voluntary schools are added and higher education has also to be dealt with. I hope the London County Council will see the necessity of this course, and that the 494 Board of Education will use all their influence in urging the London County Council to carry out requirements in this direction. My Lords, one cannot disguise the fact that at present the County Council and the Borough Councils do not love each other very much, and that whereas the Borough Councils are to appoint the majority of the members on the committees of management, it will follow that the County Councils will be shy of giving them any power at all. If, however, the Board of Education is the friend of both parties, some satisfactory arrangement can doubtless b arrived at. I suggest to simply let the new authority lay down the lines of management and leave the managers to carry out the details. If that is not done the new system will become as clogged as the present one, and the education of the children must necessarily suffer. My Lords, it is because I believe that tins Bill does otter an opportunity for organising education of all grades on a sounder and more business-like basis that I intend to vote for t he Second Reading, and I hope that a majority of your Lordships will do the same.
My Lords, no doubt you have been interested in hearing the details which the noble Earl has referred to, and I hope the body to which these duties are to be entrusted will profit by them. We have always heard that that body has plenty of work to do, and I think we can find similar stories connected with other Departments of the Government. If there is one Board in London that is fully worked, and fully employed, I think it will be admitted on both sides of the House that it is the London County Council. If that body is to have added to its labours all these matters, it will not tend to the efficiency of education. We are willing that certain details should be altered with a view to making the London School Board more efficient, but not to do away with an educational authority which in past years has done so much to further education in London. I believe that with some modifications and additions and some evolutions of the present Board it might make an efficient authority for carrying on the work of 495 education in this great city. I admit fully with the Archbishop of Canterbury that there is a difficulty in discussing this matter for London, because this is not an Education Bill for London. It is a short Act to modify certain details in last year's Act, and we should not be in order in discussing the main Bill. And certainly at the fag end of the session, it would not be consulting the convenience of your Lordships if we were to consider this matter fully, and, apparently, we merely have to confirm what has been settled in another House. With reference to the main question, I fully agree with the Archbishop that it does not apply to London in the Sallie way as it applies to the rest of the country, but there are certain matters which hitherto London has been free to work out in its own way without being trammelled with the further details that will be put upon it under this Bill. It seems to me that these questions within the walls of this House are not so urgent as they are outside them. There is that question which no one can deny has been carried on here in a spirit in which, if it had only been carried on all through the time in which it has been before the country, a good deal of evil and ill feeling which has been raised, and will he raised, could have been avoided. This question, whether we like it or not, will not be settled in the quiet atmosphere of this House, but will be discussed throughout the length and breadth of this country, and London will join in that discussion.
There are certain main questions which some of us believe in, and we cannot support the Government in this Bill, because we think that an injustice will be perpetrated. For instance, there is the question—which always appeared to me to be a main question—of the higher appointments of teachers. Speaking as a Scotchman, and belonging to a country where we are enabled, by having proper training colleges to train teachers to hold their own, I admit that where there is fair competition, they can obtain higher appointments without leaving the Church of their fathers. That is no small matter for many parents and many of those who hold sincere opinions and religious views. Everyone on the Benches opposite will agree that they would not like to do anything which would interfere with the conscientious 496 convictions of those with whom they differ on the point of Church government, but with whom they agree in a desire to work in everything tending to the better amelioration of our country and in settling social problems. There are some possible difficulties ahead with reference to those who, not holding, perhaps, religious opinions as strongly as their fathers and mothers held them, see all chances of promotion, when coming south of the Tweed, shut out, unless they join the Established Church of the country. Therefore, while I do not think, by any means, that all will do so, there are plenty of instances of those ill whom the sense of competition and ambition have been too strong, and they have either given up their faith altogether or else taken the new one with a view to getting further appointments. Assuming that these still hold to their own religious convictions the position is that one half of the good teachers, so far as England is concerned, and especially in the rural districts of the south of England, although they are as well trained as any others and can hold their own in any competition, will be shut out of all the higher appointments. That was one of the strongest blots on the Bill of last year.
Then we have the question of the payment of rates. I am not going at length into that, my Lords, while many of feel that it is a very serious position to take up to refuse to pay a properly assessed rate. I speak on behalf of those who feel very strongly, and whose consciences, perhaps, have become too sensitive on this matter. No one can pretend that a large class of men, who have hitherto shown that they have been able to hold their own in all controversy that has taken place, have not done good work. These men are now face to face with what they believe to be a conscientious objection, and if your Lordships believe that the controversy will be ended by the passing of this Bill I can assure your Lordships that there are many who have shown in the past that they have convictions to which they strongly hold, and if necessary they are ready to suffer for them. Not only are Nonconformists to be found among this body of men. The Archbishop will agree that if it had not been for certain excessive opinions manifested by certain members of the 497 Church of England, and if they had all held moderate views, there would not have arisen the outcry on this question that we are afraid of handing over powers to those who hold different views to what we believe to be the histori views of our Church. I believe these excessive opinions do a great deal of harm to the Church. A week ago I went into a certain district and at the parish church there was a collection for the school with a view to clearing off a debt upon it before this new law comes into force. The vicar is a very high churchman, holding views that not many of your Lordships would hold. He appealed to the congregation—and he made a mistake so far as his visitors were concerned to give larger contributions to that particular collection in order that they might bring under the Church teaching and baptismal teaching all the children in the parish. He appealed for the larger collection in order that another school should not be opened there and that they might have all the children of Nonconformists brought within the pale of the Church. Such extreme views add a great deal to the difficulty that already exists because the moment they get an opportunity those who disapprove of these views raise a discussion on a matter that ought to be above suspicion. That is going on all over the country, and we are handing over to such religious teachers several thousand—no matter whether it is 4,000 or 8,000—children of those who have conscientious objections to putting their children under such a state of bondage.
With reference to the elections. My Lords, there was a prophecy last year that there would be honest representation of different views. I fully admit that the honourable understanding has been carried out, but, unfortunately, we are a people Laving strong religious convictions, that sometimes override good judgment and understanding. Possibly your Lordships do not follow the facts and figures of what is taking place. In the south of England there was a solid Board elected who are of one way of thinking and that does not add to the possibilities of union and harmony. I do not believe this will lead either to harmony or to the best kind of religious instruction in the future; and as I am 498 sure there may be a reaction, and that some may object rather than have a false view of what religious life may be, and besides there may be opposition as to the proper religious instruction for our children, I shall have to vote in favour of the Chairman of the London School Board's Resolution.
* THE LORD BISHOP OF ROCHESTER
My Lords, this debate has taken a rather wide range. The first clause reminds me of the casket in the Arabian Nights; which, although it was very small in dimensions, from it when opened emerged a figure which rose to gigantic dimensions. The clause contains the whole controversy about the Act of 1902. I do not propose to follow the noble Lord into some of his further excursions in this matter. He appealed to Scotch experience. Possibly if he did not bring to the interpretation of English affairs quite so much of his Scotch experience he would look at them rather more hopefully, though, indeed, even from that experience he might draw a good deal to modify some of the things which he had said on this matter. But the real inconvenience of this debate is that it really breaks into two parts which are quite distinct from another. We had a contributive speech from the noble Lord on my right, Lord Donoughmore, who dealt with the interesting question of administration, and I hope we shall hear a good deal of that subject in Committee. But he was followed by the noble Lord opposite, who took us away into the Act of 1902. I think that the first person to do that to-night was the most reverend Primate. A great deal has been said, and in particular the issue of justice has been raised. We were even told by the right reverend Prelate (Hereford) that elementary civic justice was being violated. The right reverend Prelate does us a service by showing that matters can be looked at from different points of view by those who sit on these (Episcopal) benches. I cannot help regretting that he does not more extensively apply his power of seeing things from other people's point of view to mediate between some of us and our opponents. I think he might do something more useful than to take up the points 499 made by those to whom the majority of us in this matter are somewhat opposed, and to emphasise and underline those points. I think it is not, untrue to say that the impression is being widely given that there is justice on one side, and on the other what has been called denominational selfishness or greed. I need not say that is misrepresentation of the very gravest kind. The right rev. Prelate (London) said that if he thought that he should vote against this Bill. So should we all hope. Bat I cannot help thinking that this extension of the Act of 1902 to London does throw considerable light on this matter of justice. I suppose we are all, in dealing with a public question, somewhat influenced by our circumstances.
My Lords, I will not deny that in dealing with this matter I was influenced by the fact that I came to close quarters with the question of elementary education whilst acting as Vicar of Leeds. The town was divided between two powerful bodies of citizens. One of those bodies was what we should call the undenominational party, nearly all of them, perhaps, being Nonconformists, and very hearty supporters in all respects of the School Board system. The other body of citizens which, to judge by the evidence given by the alternating School Board elections, were nearly as powerful, were as strongly devoted to the cause of denominational education. This being so, the existing system appeared to me to be fundamentally unfair and un-just, inasmuch as members of the latter party were obliged to contribute to the School Board system, whilst they could not maintain their own schools except under a heavy handicap, and, therefore, the class of schools which represented their convictions was getting poorer and less efficient (although I think it is perfectly true to say, as the right rev. Prelate said, in many respect the voluntary schools have had as good record of efficiency as the Board schools). Well, it appeared to the that if the State were to say, "We will take these two bodies of citizens and treat them equally and will allow all public funds to be dealt with, as the taxes and grants are at present, impartially, so that each body shall have their share," there would have been a 500 perfectly just rivalry under such conditions. Every parent would have had the choice as to what class of school to send his child, and every child could have been educated in the class of school of which his parent approved Now it appeared to me that was a more just system than the one under which we were living. When, however, you deal with the whole question, you come into contact with the class of schools which are generally described as those of the single school area, and a very great deal has been made of that. The most rev. Primate acknowledged, and I acknowledge, that there is a good deal to be said for the Nonconformist case in such areas. I have said it in public before, and I am glad to say it again in public in this House. We were ready to attempt to meet that grievance so far as was compatible with not going to the other extreme, and not destroying the schools which with so much labour, so much expense, and so much patience had been built up by the Church. We made such promises as we, believed would certainly meet the grievance of the Nonconformists in such schools, or would at any rate make them much less than before.
But now in the case of London it does appear to the that this question of justice does not enter in. I observe that this is partly admitted. The London Nonconformist says—"I must hold by my brother in the country, although it does not touch me." The noble Lord opposite (Tweedmouth) says that it does touch Nonconformists in a few cases. But, I think, broadly speaking, that my brother of London will agree with me in saying if you go over the face of the town while there are many areas where the Church child cannot find its own school, there are very few areas where, if a Board school is preferred, it is not to be found. We may very fairly say this is not a London grievance. Then, my Lords, how does this question of justice come in? I think it conies in upon grounds of what I may call a much more abstract kind. It comes in because it is laid down that it is unfair for the State to support the teaching of any denomination to which, of course, a number of its citizens do not belong. I never have understood what 501 was the foundation of that axiom, but I shrewdly suspect that it would break down in practice. Noble Lords who have opposed the Bill to-night have made no answer as to the practical provision of Jewish teaching, under the School Board system in London. Again the principle does not hold good in Scotland, and although the Episcopalians in Scotland are not a very large body, and I do not know how much sympathy the noble Lord (Kinnaird) gives to them. They might with some reason complain that this principle is not invoked to protect them from receiving denominational teaching in the common schools. But I have never understood why if the State has to deal with A, B, and C, each letter we will take as representing a large body of citizens, why it can only attempt to satisfy them, either by excluding their teaching alike by not allowing what any of them want—in fact by a secular system, or by only supplying something which is representative of none of them—that is, by undenominational religion. I have never understood why it should not be open to the State to take the third alternative, anti to say that what is really fair is to find room within our borders for all that they severally require. Let us suppose, for argument's sake, that A, B, and C are exhaustive of the population and are about of equal value, all three of them. Why then, in such a case—of course an ideal ease—why should the State not say "A, B, and C shall all enter into and contribute to a system in which they all find there is room for them." We insist that it is not denominational greed or denominational selfishness, but it is our idea of what is fairest and most just that makes us contend that if this great divided country,—much more divided than that to which the noble Lord belongs,—is to bring into really effective use that principle upon which the great majority of us say we agree —viz., the basing of education on religion, it must do so, not by trying to squeeze us all into a system that does not represent any of us, but by trying really to satisfy us all. I do not believe that the system to which I have referred would stand were it not that one of the great bodies of citizens in the State is for this purpose content and satisfied with the amalga- 502 mated or residual system of education, and therefore does get what it wants, while the rest of us do not.
But if this question of justice is to be really discussed I would ask what is your constructive system? What is your alternative We know what your alternative was before 1902, what it is tonight, and what it will be if you come into power again. It is so to act as to deprive the Church and other denominations of the results of the great efforts they have made and to practically extinguish the denominational schools. Do you call that just? I do not. It would be an act of great injustice, and yet I see no suggestion of any other and more satisfactory system. I read to-day in The Times newspaper a long letter by a deeply respected leader of nonconformity and a personal friend of my own, I mean Dr. Horton. The tone of that letter is delightful when contrasted with the kind of language that has been used by others in the controversy, and which has certainly been mainly used by the opponents of the Act. Dr. Horton suggests that we should trust the people. Well, if we can be sure that the people are willing to look at our principles and to deal with us fairly I suppose we would trust the people, but whilst these undenominational axioms are allowed to dominate I do not see how we can he fairly asked to trust the people. He says the municipal bodies of the County Council would invariably, or with few exceptions which could be redressed, appoint managers who would be in harmony with the schools—would appoint Churchmen for Church schools, and Roman Catholics for Roman Catholic schools. I suppose à fortiori if you appoint congenial managers you would also appoint congenial teachers. But then what becomes of the arguments about tests? I do regret that the noble Lord opposite allowed himself, as others have done, to use language which implies that persons coming from North of the Tweed cannot attain great and high educational positions in England without abandoning the faith of their fathers. If he will walk round London and see the splendid palaces which have been distributed all over the Metropolis by the School Board, and remember 503 that every teaching post in each of them is open to every denomination, I think he will alter his opinion.
* THE LORD BISHOP OF ROCHESTER
But it is the same thing in all our great towns and wherever the School Board system prevails. There is an open door, or rather an open ladder, for advancement of all kinds. And Dr. Horton admits that there would be upon a fair system a corresponding kind of teacher appointed to a Church school. Then let me take just one other case. I have here a very candid article written in a Church periodical by a Nonconformist. That is a thing of good example, and there is nothing better than in that frank way to exchange opinions. The Nonconformist in this article says hard things of what we have done. He says that the difficulty might have all been solved by allowing the teaching of different denominations within the school. But just read the language used about making little bigots and introducing sectarianism among children, and you will see how little this solution would really be accepted. I remember perfectly well how, some time before the Education Bill of last year was passed, some Nonconformist friends, touching on this point of giving facilities for denominational teaching in the Board Schools, said, "Do not introduce that, we have quarrelling enough already, and if you introduce that, the result will be dreadful." I want then to say that we, at least, are striving for what we believe to be a just and fair-minded system. Where that system presses hardly upon our opponents we would do everything in our power to ease the friction, but to say that because it does in some places not so press it is therefore intrinsically a bad system is to use an argument which might be used in condemnation of any system whatever.
I have already detained your Lordships too long, but I should like to touch upon one other point of a totally different character. I should like to say how very much I hope that in some respects we shall have a centralised machinery —a machinery even more 504 centralised than the Bill in its present form affords. I fully understand the fear expressed by the noble Earl (Donoghmore) on my right. I know there is a great deal to be said against centralisation on points of detail, but there are matters in regard to which I think it is of the greatest importance to the welfare of London education that there should be a strong and more or less independent central body. As a South Londoner I take a deep interest in the welfare of the London boroughs; I lose no opportunity of throwing in my lot with them, and co-operating in every way with their chief magistrates and Councils. But I do not think that respect of the Borough authorities should hold us back from acknowledging that there are functions for which the Councils of the poorer Boroughs are not very highly qualified. One of the characteristics of London life is that from large areas there are withdrawn many of the social elements which go to make up a rich and full life, and people all of one sort and class are left behind. Another point, which follows from it, is that in the Borough Council areas the teachers are a great power—probably a greater power than would be useful in connection with a body which had to deal largely with education. The Government, on second thoughts, have decided to throw the general power into the hands of the County Council rather than those of the Borough Councils. Why have they not gone one step further? Why, in the arrangement of the management system, have they not given the preponderant power to the central authority? That the Borough Councils should be represented is, I grant, a most natural concession to their wishes, and a mark of respect to their value and dignity, but surely you would avoid great possibilities of friction, and also secure greater consistency of administration, if the central board had a preponderating power.
My last words shall be these. I am very desirous that we should avoid the danger of the poorer areas being less well provided for, or providing for themselves less well, in the matter of teaching, than the well-to-do areas. That is a matter upon which I am sure all your Lordships will be of one mind. The 505 noble Lord the Chairman of the School Board will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that the School Board has for some time past found it necessary to be very careful, by the use of the central power to, resist what seems to be the inevitable tendency for the pick of the teachers to choose the pick of the places. What we want is that the poorest places should have just as good teachers as the richest or best places, and the less attractive places as good teachers as the more attractive. You run a serious danger of not securing that end if the central control in the least degree loses its grip. I do not know how far the machinery in the Bill in that respect could be improved, but I think it would be a step towards it if you inverted the proportions of the management. I do not know whether or not more could be done in the Bill, but it is a serious element in the administration which is to follow the Bill, and I think while we are divided one from another by many controversial considerations on other points, a matter on which we might all be agreed, is that of securing the best education for the poorer schools.
§ LORD COLERIDGE
I am afraid that any opposition to this Bill, particularly at this stage, is likely to fall upon somewhat unheeding cars. The debate which began upon certain lines has been diverted by the most reverend Primate, and has been continued since then mainly on the religious controversy. I am nit going to enter upon that controversy; I wish to draw the debate back to the question of whether or not education in London will be improved by this Bill. The Bill when introduced in another place was brought forward for two definite purposes. This Bill was said to be introduced, first, to make r central education authority, for tin Metropolis, and, secondly, to municipalise education. Those were the two distinct and definite objects of the Bill and no one on either side of the House will deny that they are most admirable objects if they can be attained. How does the Bill propose to attain those two objects? Take first the central education authority. You have in existence before your eyes, the London School Board. You have there a central bead: elected for the purpose, composed of 506 men and women who are devoted and have given up their lives to the very object for which that authority was established. You have, in fact, on the London School Board a body of the very class of people whom you wish to place upon the Education Committees, namely, a body of educational experts. That body is to be destroyed. We are therefore faced with the curious fact that a Bill introduced with the object of creating a central authority for education in London begins by destroying the only central education authority that exists. No one on either side of this House suggests that the abolition of the London School Board is due to any want of alacrity or perseverance or success in the work which it has undertaken. In fact, one of the singular characteristics of this debate is that the highest testimonial to the work of the London School Board has come from those who are now proposing to destroy it. Why destroy it I Why should you not have made of the London School Board the nucleus of the central education authority which you desire to set up?
The reason given by the Vice-President of the Council, when he introduced the Bill in the other house, was that direct popular ad hoc election, the giving to the body of a blank cheque upon the ratepayers, would inevitably make it, and had made it, extravagant. Why? The Vice-President of the Council argued from analogy that if the Board of Education were cut absolutely adrift from the financial arrangements of the country, and were freed from Parliamentary and Treasury control, even they would become extravagant. I daresay they would, but the reason why they would be tempted to extravagance is that they would not be popularly elected. The present central education authority in London depends for its mandate upon the ratepayers who have to pay. Surely, then, the ratepayers have the control of the expenditure in their own hands, and you cannot ascribe to the central body that extravagance which is due, if to anybody, to the persons who elected them. It is said, "Oh, that may be very well in theory, but look at the School Board elections. As a matter of fact, only about one fourth of 507 the ratepayers take the trouble to record their votes. Therefore the Board is not in any sense truly representative of the ratepayers at large." I deplore, as everybody must deplore, the lack of interest displayed in educational contests as evinced by the small percentage of persons who go to the poll; but the very smallness of the number who go to the poll shows, at any rate, that the ratepayers have a complacency under the rates which indicates that no clear case can be made against the London School Board on the ground of extravagance. It is idle to suppose that with this vast body of unpolled ratepayers, if there was any real grievance, or if it could be satisfactorily proved that the Board were extravagant, the ratepayers would not at once flock to the poll and elect a Board more in accordance with their parsimonious ideas. The argument used against direct election used in the other House—I do not think it has been used in this House—was this: It was said— "Oh, direct election is admirable in theory, but the elections are swayed from time to time by some passing religious controversy, and all these passing religious controversies which occupy and sway the minds of the electorate at the time of an election are detrimental to the cause of education." What are you now proceeding to do? You are proceeding to put education in the hands of the London County Council. These passing religious controversies which have been described will not be abolished in consequence; all that will happen is that the religious controversies which are so much deplored will enter into the contests of the London County Council, and you will find that if such religious controversies are detrimental to the cause of education they are still more alien from and detrimental to, the cause of local government in London. These passing religious controversies may be more or less germane to the question of education, but they can have nothing in common with the general work of the London County Council. Therefore, on behalf of the London County Council, I deplore the possibility of these religious controversies entering into their electioneering strife.
New, my Lords, while you are destroying the School Board, which I think is the only body which can possibly grapple with the vast system of education in 508 London, you are also crippling the London County Council by over-work. The London County Council, as every noble Lord who has been a member of it knows, is already glutted with work. Last year, it has been stated, there were 1,313 meetings of the committees. You have diverted from that body fourteen of its members to serve upon the Water Board, six are to go to the Thames Conservancy, three to the Lea Conservancy, and there is now a prospect of eight or nine being appointed to sit on the Port of London Board. All these persons are diverted from the work of governing London, and if in addition you add to the duties of the County Council the whole working of London education, involving the instruction of 1,000,000 children, and the expenditure of £3,000,000 or £1,000,000 a year, I submit that you will destroy the general work of the London County Council by loading that body with these extra tasks which it is beyond their power to perform. This proposal, too, is a peculiar comment on the accusation which has been brought against the London County Council of striving, in their ambition, to grapple with more tasks than they can readily perform. What will be the result of this? The result will be that the members of the County Council on the Education Committee, who will be the only persons with any direct representative quality in them, must necessarily largely leave the work 9f education to the co-optive and non-representative members.
If that is so, let me draw your Lordships' attention to the second ground upon which this Bill was put forward, namely, the municipalisation of education. If what I have described be the result of the system which you are introducing, away to the winds goes any idea of municipalising education, because the persons who will practically control education will have no representative municipal quality about them at all, and you will discourage any interest en the part of the ratepayers in education. The ratepayers have their present interest because they feel that they have some direct control, but once let them believe that education is in the hands of persons whom they do not elect, and over whom they have no control, and they will very 509 soon cease to have that interest in education, as education, which it is so desirable they should have. It is said that the religious difficulty will not apply in London. Why not? It is true that in London the proportion of sectarian or voluntary schools to Board schools is le s than in other districts. But the opposition—be it wise or foolish, well or ill founded—to the payment of rates for sectarian education, is founded, not upon the amount of the rate, but upon the principle, and that principle will govern the action of Nonconformists in the Metropolis equally with the action of those in the country. It is idle to mock at or to underrate this movement. It is a growing movement, and, being founded on a principle, it will last as long as that principle upon which it is founded is assailed. It has already been sufficiently damaging, I should have thought, to the Church of England. It will do more damage in the Metropolis, because where men are crowded together and there is much intercourse between man and man, a spreading movement has far greater effect than in the more scattered places; and I venture to prophesy that those persons do not accurately forecast the future who say that because voluntary schools in London are in a smaller proportion to the Board schools than in the country, the same course of action will not be pursued. These reasons are sufficient to induce me to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill. I only wish that the ad hoc principle, which I believe to be the saving principle in the education of the country, had been more strictly adhered to in the provisions of the Bill.
§ * EARL SPENCER
My Lords, I do not like to follow one who has spoken so eloquently from the same point of view as that which I hold on this subject, but I feel that I must say something on this important matter. I attach enormous importance to the principles involved in this London Education Bill. Before I come to the policy adopted in the Bill, there is a point which has not yet been referred to, to which I wish to direct your Lordships' attention—viz., the form in which the Bill is presented to your Lordships. It is a Bill framed according to the principle of reference. 510 I have alway opposed that principle. It is exceedingly inconvenient; it must lead to great misunderstanding; it sometimes results in grave misinterpretations. What is this mode of dealing with a Bill? In this case the subject is one of the greatest that could be presented to the Houses of Parliament for legislation, viz., the regulation of education in the Metropolis of the Empire, and the subject is dealt with in a form which it is most difficult for many people to understand. I do not say that this is a Bill which only lawyers can interpret; there are others who are conversant with methods of drafting and statutes; but I venture to say that there are very few who understand how a Bill of this sort really stands. Suppose an intelligent citizen, after this Bill has become an Act of Parliament, desires to know what is the law regulating education in the Metropolis, what has he to do I He refers to the measure we are now discussing, but finds it absolutely impossible to interpret it without referring also to the Act of last year. He then goes to the Act of last year, but that again cannot be interpreted unless he has at hand the Act of 1870, in order to see which clauses are retained and which are repealed. I venture to protest against this form of legislation. It may be perfectly permissible in a matter of small importance, but I say that it is almost a scandal that we should have framed on such a principle a Bill dealing with the great matter of the regulation of education in the Metropolis. The noble Duke, I think on the first evening of the session, rather demurred to some remarks of mine as to the duty of the Opposition to maintain the principles which we advocated last year; he said it was unnecessary, and I am not sure that he did not say it would be a waste of time, to discuss those principles again this year. I ventured then to differ from the noble Duke, and I still maintain the opinion I then held. It is our duty to uphold principles which we believe to be for the good of the country, and if the contravention of those principles, against which we protested last year, is repeated in a Bill of the present session, it is our duty to repeat the objections we then made, 511 and not to allow the matter to be considered as settled by an Act which only by implication refers to the question now before us.
I was very glad that the most reverend Prelate, in his admirable and moderate speech, referred to this matter and said that the real questions which had to be discussed were those very questions which were raised last year. I share with him that feeling. I am not going to repeat at length the arguments of last year, but I must venture to repeat the principal objections which we held to that measure, and which we now hold to the present Bill, inasmuch; as it is merely an application of the Act of last year to London. Put broadly, we considered the Bill of last year to be opposed to the principles of popular government and religious equality. We feel it necessary to re-state those objections, even though the principles of the Act of last year are incorporated in a single clause of the present Bill. We say that it is not just that the management of the voluntary schools should be left in the hands of a body on which the education authority, representing the ratepayers, is in a minority, and that the management of denominational schools should be left practically in the bands of those who really represent the former denominational managers. We object to it also because these schools are to be maintained by Parliamentary grants and local rates. It is often said, "Why did you not object to the grants which were made in former days before the aid of the rates was applied to the denominational schools?" I have always said that I regretted that those grants should be made without local representative control. I know it is said that when you give aid by Parliamentary grant there is the superintendence of Parliament, but I maintain that Parliament cannot sufficiently exercise that control, and that when you have these large grants to local bodies of managers for schools of a denominational character you ought to have, just as much as in the case o rate-aid, the control of local representation. Those were the two main grounds on which we objected to the Bill of last year; presently I will come to a third.
It has been said that the opposition to that measure was not sincere or real. 512 We have had to-night from many sources evidence that that statement is not correct. We had a most impressive statement from the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Hereford as to the feeling of Nonconformists in the country, and he alluded to the passive resistance movement which has taken so strong a hold of the people. Like others who have spoken, I have taken no part in that movement. I should not myself have advocated it, nor should I have felt it necessary to resist the payment of rates. At the same time, what comes out very strongly in this movement is the earnestness with which a large body of law-abiding men have taken up this matter. That is a point which cannot be overlooked. Whatever may be thought of "passive resistance," whether it be thought right or wrong, it must be admitted that there is a conscientious conviction in the minds of those who have taken up that attitude. The movement has but just commenced. The payment of rates for the new system has only just come into operation, and from what I hear I greatly fear that the movement will spread over the country. This passive resistance movement has been brought about by the extremely strong feeling which prevails throughout the country against the principles of the measure of last year, and I wish the Government had taken notice of that fact, and avoided the extension of the movement to this great Metropolis. It will be a far more difficult and dangerous agitation to cope with if it comes to a large city like this. I deeply regret that the Government, knowing how the Act of last year was regarded by a large body of law-abiding and conscientious men, should not have held their hand, at any rate for this session, and abstained from running the risk of the same agitation being raised here.
Then there is the question of tests. We feel very strongly on that matter. Although we quite admit, with the right rev. Prelate, that in London the difficulty of Nonconformist youths, boys and girls, who have a turn for education, is not so great as in the country, yet it cannot be said that the difficulty of tests is excluded from this Bill. It has been admitted by the right rev. Prelate to-night that you have a right to do away with tests in the Civil Service of the country. 513 That is a great admission. But he also said it was absurd to press that home when it became a question of religious teaching. That is the point. We maintain that to have dogmatic religious teaching paid for out of public money, as it will be under the Act of last year and under this Bill, is unjust. I should like to say a word in reference to the remarks of the most rev. Prelate on this subject. He referred to the position of Churchmen who had paid the rate. I quite admit that there is something in that argument, but I will put the case in this way. What we contend is that out of public funds we pay for the secular education of the country, and we are glad—I for one am not against, but all for religious education in the schools—that, added to secular education, there should be religious education which can be taught without dogma. We say that everybody is interested in that, and that therefore we are doing no injustice in asking every man in the country to pay a rate for the general education of the country. But if this is not sufficient for certain classes of the community, they must pay the additional sum themselves. The most rev. Prelate referred to the large sums which had been paid during the last thirty years by persons belonging to the Church of England towards the denominational schools of the Church. I think he said that since 1870 something like £2,000,000 had been so paid.
§ * EARL SPENCER
Yes in London. I admit that that is a large sum. But has the most rev. Prelate forgotten that under this Bill it is not proposed to take over the schools belonging to denominations without paying a rent for them? That is one thing. Then when we come to the question of supporting and maintaining these schools out of public funds, I think it will be seen that immediately the levelling up begins a very large sum will have to be paid in respect of denominational schools. That process may not begin immediately, because large sums were given last year in relief of rates, and I venture to think that the Government gave those sums in the belief that if the whole of the cost of levelling up came upon the rates the policy would be enormously unpopular. But those sums have also to be taken into account. Taking the whole of the 514 schools throughout the country, it will probably be found that those payments from the Government, if the schools are maintained in their present position, will leave a balance. But I hope they will not be left in that position. Many of them are exceedingly inefficient, and will have to be levelled up to the standard of efficiency to be found in the Board schools. That will no doubt entail a considerable expenditure out of the rates. I am not sure how much it will come to. A penny rate yields about £180,000 a year, and that sum, capitalised, would very soon greatly exceed the capital sum which has been spent by the denominational bodies on the maintenance of their schools. I maintain, therefore, that no such injustice as has been suggested will be inflicted by these proposals. That is one of the points I wish to make.
We now come to the question of religion in the schools. I am in favour of religious education. I believe that the religious education in the Board schools of London has been eminently satisfactory. That the School Board for London is not a Nonconformist preserve is very manifest if we look at what has been the constitution of the Board during its existence. Since its establishment, sixty-three clergymen, seventeen Nonconformist ministers, and four Catholic priests have been members of the Board. There are 183 groups of managers, the chairmen of fifty-five of which are clergymen, and of nine, Nonconformist ministers. Among the managers are 346 clergymen of the Church of England, and 135 Nonconformist ministers. We see there the influence of the Church, and the most rev. Prelate has spoken of the fact that the teachers in the schools are being largely drawn from Church of England colleges and other colleges where religion is taught. He also said that the religious teaching which has characterised with such distinction the management of the London School Board had been, as he termed it, "infectious." Why should not the same state of things exist in the future? If the best teachers come from institutions in which sound religious teaching is given, I believe it will be found that a good educational body, having the real interests of education at heart, will continue to follow the example of the London School Board, and that the same selection will be made in the future as in the past. The most rev. Prelate alluded to another matter of 515 great importance. He said that with regard to the Jews the London School Board had actually transgressed the general rule concerning the teaching of dogma, and had issued a special syllabus. I should like to know whether that syllabus actually teaches dogma. I understand that the ordinary rules of the London School Board with regard to religion, which included teaching from the New Testament, were altogether inapplicable to Jewish children, and so they were modified, but without the Cowper-Temple clause being in any way transgressed. If that is so, the strong argument of the most rev. Prelate falls to the ground.
Why is it we are going to sweep away the London School Board? Everybody admits that that body has done its work with the utmost efficiency, and for the good of the whole population of London. I cannot for the life of me see why it should be abolished. One argument of the noble Marquess, which he said was important, was that all calls on the rates should come under one body. In other words, that is the argument for the municipalisation of education. I can quite understand that principle in theory, and it would be most desirable if you could enable the one body to know exactly what every branch of administration under it had to spend. But if you do not know how much you are going to spend on education, how are you to know how much to spend on omnibuses, electric cars, drains, and so forth? It is very important, if possible, that one body should hold in its hands all the different strings and know exactly what the expenditure in each direction will be but is it practicable? We know that the principle has not been applied generally. It has never been applied in regard to Poor Law administration. The poor rate and the questions of settlement have never been placed in the hands of County or Borough Councils. It is the same with regard to education. You are trying to carry out this principle, and I am afraid that the statement of an hon. Member in the other House—viz., that if you destroy the School Board you will at the same time wreck the County Council, will prove to be near the truth. Just conceive for a moment what the work of the County Council will be. They will have to superintend the education of 1,000,000 516 children involving, the expenditure of £4,000,000 a year. There are about the same number of children in the whole of Scotland, but they are looked after by 972 School Boards and thirty-nine Secondary Education Committees, while Birmingham and Manchester have only one-tenth of the number of children in the Metropolis. This is altogether apart from Secondary Education. If we take the large counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire we only get something approaching two-thirds of the population and the educational necessities of London. In trying to carry out this principle of municipalisation, for which I have considerable sympathy, I cannot help thinking you may do a great deal of harm by attempting something which is almost impossible of achievement.
I have dwelt at some length upon these matters, lint they are of great importance. There is one other point to which reference has been made and upon which I wish to add a word—viz., the question of women. No work has been done so efficiently, so ably, and so zealously, as that of the women who have been elected to the London School Board. Are you going to do away with that I You will do if you abolish the London School Board, because, even if the Government were willing to make such an alteration, it would be impossible so to amend the present Bill as to enable women to be elected to the County Council. I should be glad to see a large number among the managers, but they will not be supported by the voice of the constituents which gives so much greater influence to the members of a body.
I have little more to say. The right rev. Prelate who last spoke, the Bishop of Rochester, made a very interesting speech, and, as usual, touched in a moderate way many controversial subjects. He referred to the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Hereford, and, while rejoicing that he showed there was a difference of opinion on the right rev. Bench, expressed regret that his right rev. brother did not more often mediate between the parties rather than express his own view. It is always difficult for a man with strong and decided views to mediate between rival parties, and I venture to think that the great ability and clearness of vision of the right rev. 517 Prelate make him hold very decided opinions on questions of this sort which prevent him acting as a mediator. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Rochester spoke of people who in this controversy thought all the justice was on one side, and denominational greed and selfishness on the other. I entirely repudiate such a feeling. I do not ascribe to the right rev. Bench, denominational greed and selfishness, though I am afraid that once or twice last year things were done which might be interpreted in that way. I am quite ready to believe that the occupants of the right rev. Bench are actuated by a desire for justice. At the same time, justice is not one-sided. One right rev. Prelate said that lie, like Dr. Horton, trusted the people, but, if I understand him correctly, he went on to qualify the statement by saying that they must look to the principles of the Church, and if the people did not agree to those principles they could not trust them, but if they did agree to them they would. We are anxious to do what we consider to be justice in these matters, and I venture to think that the opinions which I and many of my friends hold are those of justice to the people of this country, and that if this Bill is carried, as the Dill of last year was carried, gross injustice will be inflicted on many people who are conscientiously opposed to the principles of the Bill. I shall, therefore, heartily support my noble friend the Chairman of the School Board in the Motion he has moved.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (The DUKE of DEVONSHIRE)
Before I advert to the arguments used by the noble Earl and others I must refer to the criticism made on the form of the Bill. The noble Earl complained that, as usual, the practice had been adopted of legislating by reference. I do not think that anybody, excepting Parliamentary draftsmen, has any great affection for this system of legislation by reference, but I think it is carrying objection to the system to a somewhat absurd extreme if, as I understand he does, the noble Earl suggests that instead of adopting the Act of last year and applying and adapting it to London, we ought to have taken the course of reenacting the whole of last year's Act with such modifications and omissions as 518 were necessary to apply it to London. The noble Earl could hardly have made the suggestion seriously. If such a course bad been taken the other House would have enjoyed the opportunity of discussing again the Act of last year, clause by clause and section by section, and it would have been absolutely impossible to deal with any other matter except the subject with which the House of Commons was almost wholly occupied during last Session. So much for that criticism. I shall have to detain the House only for a very short time in referring to the arguments which have been adduced in support of the Amendment moved by the noble Lord opposite, because, so far as I have been able to gather, very little has been said which applies to the only question raised by the Second Reading of this Bill. Almost all the speeches on both sides to-night have had reference to the Act of last session. I Propose to say nothing, or next to nothing, in regard to that measure. That Act was fully discussed last year; it is now the law of the land, and until it is repealed it remains the law of the land. I know that it is exposed to a certain amount of "passive resistance." I wish noble Lords opposite had seen their way, not only to dissociate themselves from that passive resistance moment, but to discourage it. But they have not thought fit to do so. Now, my Lords, there is no practical object in discussing in this session, or even in this Parliament, the principles of the Act of last year. We all know perfectly well what is the attitude of noble Lords opposite, and their political friends in the other House and fn the country. They have protested against the principles of the Act, and announced their determination to repeal that Act, or portions of it, as soon as they are in a position to do so. They have made their protest and they have announced their intentions, and they are perfectly justified in so doing; but we are not concerned to-night with that Act except in so far as it is now proposed to apply it to London and provide for the manner in which it is to be applied.
There has been scarcely a single speech which has been addressed to that question, which is the only question the House has to consider to-night. Nobody supposes that the 519 present Government or the present Parliament is going to repeal the Act of last year; therefore, the only question before us is that raised by the first clause of the Bill which applies the Act to London. It is quite open to noble Lords, I admit, to reopen, if they think fit, the whole question of the Act of last year; but I do not see the advantage of that. They do not propose now to repeal the Act; we do not propose to modify it. It is a question, not of the present but for the future, as to what is to be clone with the Act. The question we have to consider—and this is the definite question raised by the Bill—is whether London is to be included in or excluded from the operation of the Act of last year. What will be the consequences to London if it is excluded from the Act? In London there will still exist two different independent authorities dealing, One with secondary and the other with elementary education. That is a point which I do not think has been once adverted to in this debate. The consequence of the exclusion of London and the existence of these two separate bodies would be that proper co-ordination in the matter of education, such as we hope to effect by this Bill, and which is going on all over the country, would be impossible in London. A further consequence would be that London would not get the benefit of that rearrangement, and the increase of the Parliamentary grant, of which every other portion of the country now gets the benefit. The third consequence would be that the denominational schools would remain starved, and therefore comparatively inefficient. I have not heard a single word from the opposite benches which dealt with any of those consequences. The real question raised by this Bill, then, is the manner in which the Act of last year should be applied to London. We admit that London has many special difficulties from an educational point of view. There are enormous areas, a vast population, an immense number of schools, and a special form of local government. These circumstances constitute a special condition, of which we were perfectly aware last year and are aware of still, rendering the educational treatment of London a problem somewhat different from that in any other 520 portion of the country. In this Bill, as presented to Parliament, the Government showed a desire to establish the educational authority in a manner somewhat different to that which had been applied to the rest of the country, but a full discussion in the other House convinced them that upon the whole as close an adherence as possible to the principle of the Act of last year would be the safest and the wisest course.
The main principle of the Act of last year was the creation in every educational area throughout the country of one supreme local authority. In London, as I have said, there are two independent educational authorities. I will not go back on the discussions of last year, but every educational authority has admitted that there can be no sound or efficient system of education in any area, whether urban or rural, great or small, where such a principle of divided educational administration obtains. If that be so, if London is not an exception to all the rest of the Kingdom, if one supreme authority is necessary, the question is, how should that supreme authority he constituted It is evident that it can be done only by the disappearance of one or both of the existing authorities, or by merging one into the other. I will not renew the discussions of last year on the merits of an ad hoc authority, I say that in the case of London the arguments for the municipalisation of the authority as against an ad hoc authority are not only strong but overwhelming. It is not necessary for our case to go into the abstract arguments. In the existing conditions of local administration in London the adoption of an ad hoc authority as the single supreme authority is impossible. Noble Lords talk about the sweeping away or the disestablishment of the School Board. But to have placed the School Board in the position of the single supreme authority would have involved the disestablishment or the sweeping away of the powers over secondary education which are already possessed by the London County Council, and by that Act you would have deprived the Council of one of its greatest and most important functions—discharged, in the opinion of noble Lords opposite, most efficiently—and of powers possessed by every other County Council, 521 and by the Council of every County Borough. Such an attack on the authority, dignity and privileges of the London County Council could not be contemplated for a moment, and had there been any such intention suggested I am sure noble Lords opposite would have been the first to protest against it.
I regret that in the necessity of things the merging of the School Board should have become necessary. I acknowledge the Board's excellent work. With the powers it possessed it has done admirable work, and I have no doubt that with larger powers it would have done still better and greater work. For good or for evil those larger powers connected with secondary education not only have not been conferred upon the School Board, but they have been conferred by Parliament upon another body. Therefore, if we were of opinion—as we were —that that which was good for every town in the country was also good for London, and that a single authority was an absolutely essential matter and not a matter of choice, the disappearance of the School Board, in which was vested the control over only part of the question, was bound to follow as a matter of absolute necessity. I agree entirely with what was said in the other House by the late Vice-President of the Council, Sir John Gorst. He said that he would not describe the object of this Bill as the disestablishment of the School Board. He preferred to describe it, and I prefer to describe it, as the regrettable consequence of the principle which was embodied in the Act of last year—viz., that of the establishment of a single authority, which rendered necessary the disappearance of a special body which had been charged by Parliament with only one portion of the work.
Another objection which is taken to our proposal to make the County Council the supreme authority for London is that the County Council will be unable to grapple with the work. But, although the County Council will be the authority under the Bill, it will have a new Committee through which it will do that portion of the work; and upon the Committee it will be able to place as many outside members as it may think necessary in order to grapple with this enor 522 mous amount of work. If the London County Council should find that it is necessary that the work should be transacted on the same lines as those which have been adopted on the School Board, and if this and other work devolving on the County Council should be found to be larger and more onerous than can be undertaken by the present number of members, there is nothing in the nature of things which prevents some enlargement of the present number. But I believe there is a better and a simpler way in which it may be possible for the London County Council to grapple with this work. Admirable as has been the work which the School Board has done, I am not so certain as the Chairman of the Board that the method in which they have done their work has been so perfect, so well considered, as to render an absolute imitation of it necessary to the best success. I would refer to a speech made in the other House describing the way in which the School Board has done its work. Dr. Macnamara, an active member of the Board, said—Take the School Board alone, excluding altogether the work of voluntary schools and higher education. Here is the diary issued to members of the School Board for the present week:—Monday, 10.30, special sub-committee of School Management Committee, on special subjects of instruction; noon, teaching staff sub-committee of School Management Committee. At that one meeting there were 141 teachers to be seen, considered for promotion, or, in extreme cases, for criticism in consequence of default of duty. Also at noon, subcommittee of Pupil Teachers' Committee on the preliminary selection of assistants to Stock well and Marylebone pupil teachers' centres; 1 o'clock, sub-committee of Works Committee on contracts; 2 o'clock, special sub-committee of Works Committee on solicitors' charges and litigation cases; 2.30, General Purposes Committee; 3 o'clock, sites and finance sub-committtee of Works Committee; also at 3 o'clock, Evening Continuation Schools Committee, at which there are frequently 100 teachers to be considered, appointed, or transferred. That is yesterday. What is the diary for to-day? At 10.30, sub-committee of Finance Committee on Accounts; 10.30, Finance rota; 11 o'clock, Finance Committee; 2 o'clock, sub-committee of Works Committee on Repairs. It will he the same to-inter-row. On Thursday the Board will meet for four or five hours' public session. On Friday- there is the meeting of a big and onerous committee—the School Management Committee; and I take it that Saturday and Sunday will be spent in reading up the agendas for the following week.My Lords, admirable as may have been the work of the School Board, I venture 523 to doubt whether that is altogether an ideal method by which the business of a great education department should be transacted. The business of the School Board is a business which in its importance and its magnitude compares not unequally with the business of one of the great Departments of the State. In finance alone—leaving out of account all the far more important questions affecting the moral and intellectual training of the children—in finance alone it compares not unequally with one of those great Departments. Its expenditure is larger, I think, than that of any of our greatest industrial or commercial concerns. But none of the great Departments of the State, or of our great commercial undertakings, manage their business in this way. The business of the Army and the Navy is not transacted by a Committee of unpaid Members of the House of Commons, neither is the business of a great railway company transacted in detail by committees of this description. The business of the Board and its committees is to decide questions of general policy, and supervise the action of tried and trusted permanent officials. Lord Tweedmouth, I think, said that it was a misrepresentation to say that the School Board trusted nobody and delegated nothing; but I think this account that I have just read of the work of the School Board shows that it was considered necessary for efficient administration that they should do everything for themselves, and I do not, see how in this minute subdivision of business there can be anything left which they trusted to any of their officials. I believe the London School Board would find, and that the London County Council will find, that their work can be more efficiently performed by improved methods, perhaps by some re-arrangement of their staff, and by delegating some portion of these detail duties to competent and well-paid officials, whose action it will be their duty to supervise, rather than by undertaking it themselves.
Everybody admits that there must be decentralisation. In the first draft of this Bill an attempt was made to indicate the manner in which that
§ decentralisation, or some part of it, should be effected. It was proposed that the management—that is to say, the detailed management—of the elementary schools should be entrusted to the Borough Councils. More wisely, I think, it has been decided in the Bill as it has reached us to leave it to the County Council themselves, after making themselves fully acquainted with their work, to decide in what manner they shall carry out the decentralisation which certainly they must undertake to carry out. All that has been done in the Bill as it now stands is to indicate the Borough Councils as a body to whom they may profitably delegate a very large share of the management of the schools in their area. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Rochester asked, I think, why the Bill proposed that a majority of the managers should be appointed by the Borough Council and not by the County Council. Well, the object of that provision is—and I hope that it will be attained—to give to the Borough Councils a real interest in the schools within their areas, and we do not see that there is any better way in which we can inspire that interest in the Borough Councils than by giving to them a substantial and even a predominant voice in the appointment of those managers, who will, subject to the supervision and under the control of the local education authority, carry on the ordinary detailed administration of the schools. I hope that the effect of these proposals—which no doubt must be more or less tentative and experimental for the present—will be to establish a greater amount of harmony and co-operation between the various local bodies who are responsible for the administration of the affairs of London. I trust that not only so, but that these changes will attain the object for which the Act of last year was introduced—namely, that of improving the efficiency and of raising the character of the education of the people of this country, and that tins Bill will extend those same advantages to London.
§ On Question, whether the word "now" stand part of the Motion,
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 69; Not-Contents, 26.525
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Northumberland, D.|
|Halsbury, E. (L. Chancellor)||Argyll, D.||Wellington, D.|
|Davonshire, D. (L. President.)||Marlborough, D.|
|Aiisbury, M.||Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]||Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)|
|Camden, M.||Yarborough, E.||De L' Isle and Dudley, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||De Mauley, L.|
|Cross, V.||Dunboyne, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward.)||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Ellenborough, L.|
|Clarendon, E. (L. Chamberlain)||Knutsford, V.||Harris, L.|
|London, L. Bp.||Kenyon, L.|
|Abingdon, E.||Rochester, L. Bp.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Cadogan, E.||Winchester, L. Bp.||L mington, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Lawrence, L. [Teller.]|
|Denbigh, E.||Acton, L.||Macnaghten, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Allerton, L.||Methuen, L.|
|Alverstone, L.||Middleton, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||Balfour, L.||Robertson, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Barnard, L.||Rothschild, L.|
|Morley, E.||Belper, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Morton, E.||Brave, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Nelson, E||Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)|
|Onslow, E.||Colehester, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Cottesloe, L.||Windsor, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Crawshaw, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Beauchamp, E||Hereford, L. Bp.||Reay, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)||Ribblesdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Crewe, E.||Burghelere, L.||Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)|
|Kimberley, E.||Coleridge, L.||Sandhurst, L. [Teller.]|
|Northbrook, E.||Davey, L.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|Portsmouth, E.||Farrer, L.||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Russell, E.||Kinnaird, L.||Wandsworth L.|
|Spencer E.||Lyveden, L.||Welby, L.|
|Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen.)||Monkswell, L.|
§ Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Thursday next.