§ THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN: My Lords, I rise to ask the Lord President of the Council whether, in the event of a 1466 local education authority deciding that religious instruction which does not conflict with Section 14 of the Elementary Education Act of 1870 shall be given in its schools, it will be compete it to that authority to pay a substitute for any teacher who may decline, under Clause 8, sub-clause (2) of the Education Bill, to give that instruction.
The object of this question is to make clear a point in the Education Bill now before the House which is not clear to me and to a good many other Members of your Lordships' House, namely, what are the powers which the local education authority will have of making payments for religious education under this Bill. So far as the teaching of denominational religion is concerned the Bill is explicit enough. Clause 8, Sub-section (2) provide) that—
No part of the expense of giving religious instruction of a special character under this section shall be paid by the local education authority.
That is quite clear; but when we come to the teaching of undenominational, or what is called Cowper-Temple religion, I the point is altogether different. Hitherto undenominational religion has been taught in provided schools by the teacher as part of his ordinary duty, and it is therefore impossible to say whether any special payment has been made to him for teaching that religion or not. But this Bill creates a different situation altogether. Clause 8, subsection (2) provides that—
A teacher employed in a public elementary school shall not be required as part of his duties as teacher to give any religious instruction.
§ Your Lordships must remember that in future all the schools in the country, including all rural schools, are to become provided schools, and that there is in rural schools, as a rule, only one teacher. Any one of these teachers may say that he declines to give this religious instruction. What will follow?
§ A similar question, though not exactly in the same form, because it did not relate to the question of payment but I rather to that of appointment, was asked in the other House of Parliament, and the Secretary to the Board of Education stated, in reply, that that teacher would 1467 be dismissed and that another teacher would be appointed in his place who would give this religious instruction. With all respect to the Secretary to the Board of Education, I submit to your Lordships that that is evidently a misconception on his part of Clause 8 of the Bill, because the whole spirit of that clause is that a teacher is not to be obliged to give religious instruction unless he chooses, and it is quite obvious that if he were dismissed because he chose to avail himself of the privilege which is given by the clause it would be a case of persecution.
§ What is to happen? The only course that I can see is to appoint a substitute presumably to teach this undenominational religion only. That substitute must be remunerated in some way. Is he to be paid directly? If so, in the first place you will be paying two teachers for the duties of the school, and, in the second place, I do not see how you can escape from the accusation which has been made not infrequently and which His Majesty's Government have constantly contradicted, namely, that you will be, to use the term which is generally applied, endowing one form of religious teaching and one form only. It is for that reason that I beg to ask the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council the Question standing in my name. The only alternative, so far as I can see, if you are not able to pay the substitute, is that the instruction will not be given at all, and the whole purpose of the local education authority would be defeated.
*THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (The EARL of CREWE)
My Lords, I think it might be maintained that the Question which the noble Earl has put to me is somewhat doubtful as a matter of order.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
It undoubtedly refers to a Bill before the House, and it is evident that if Questions could be put upon all the different 1468 clauses of a Bill, the rule which forbids speeches to be made more than once on the Second Reading might lose its effect, owing to the fact that Questions in this House are not simply put as they appear on the Paper, but are accompanied sometimes by speeches of considerable length. However, I do not complain of my noble friend on this occasion, because I am able to answer the Question very briefly. He asks whether, in the event of a local education authority deciding that religious instruction which does not conflict with Section 14 of the Elementary Act of 1870 shall be given in its schools, it will be competent to that authority to pay a substitute. The answer to that is undoubtedly in the affirmative. It will be competent for the local education authority to pay a substitute for any teacher who may decline, under Clause 8, to give the religious instruction referred to.