§ House again in Committee (according to order).
§ [The Earl of ONSLOW in the Chair.]
Discussion resumed on following Amendment—
To insert as a new clause:—' (1) The Board of Education may recognise as a State-aided school, efficiently contributing to the public education of the district in which is situated, any school which, though not a publics elementary school provided by the local education authority, fulfils the conditions laid down in the code of regulations for public elementary schools for the time being in force in regard to management, premises, accommodation, equipment, teaching staff, curriculum and inspection, and in respect of which an application is made to them for recognition by the managers. But it shall be a condition to any such recognition that—(a) The Board of Education are satisfied that the teachers are adequately remunerated, regard being had to the rate of salaries paid by the local education authority to teachers in public elementary schools in the area; (b) the managers guarantee the use and the cost of the upkeep of the school buildings and premises and all other cost of maintaining the school (except such part of the cost as may be defrayed by Parliamentary grants) for a period of three years, which guarantee shall be renewable from time to time; (c) the regulations contained in paragraphs one, two, and three of Section 7 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870 (a copy of which shall be conspicuously put up in the school) are complied with in the case of the school. (2) Where a school is recognised under this section as a State-aided school the Board of Education shall, notwithstanding anything in the Education Acts, 1870 to 1903, or in this Act, pay to that school the Parliamentary grants which would be payable in respect of the school or of the scholars attending the school if it were a public elementary school provided by the local education authority. (3) A State-aided school shall be treated as a public elementary school for the purpose of the Elementary School Teachers' (Superannuation) Act, 1898. (4) A State-aided school shall be under the control of the managers, who, in addition to their other powers of management, shall have power to make provision for giving religious instruction of some special character not permitted under Section 14 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, and to charge school fees not exceeding ninepence per week, and to refuse admission to children for whom they have not sufficient accommodation or sufficient teaching staff. (5) A State-aided school and its registers shall at all reasonable times be open to the school attendance officers of the local education authority, but shall not be otherwise controlled or maintained by the authority. (6) Nothing in this section shall affect the power of a local education authority to provide such school accommodation in public elementary
schools provided by it as it may consider desirable for any district in which a State-aided school is situated, and in so doing the authority shall have regard to the wishes of parents who do not desire their children to attend any such State-aided school.
§ * LORD AVEBURY
hoped he might be allowed to say a few words in support of the clause. There had been for some time an Amendment standing on the Paper in his (Lord Avebury's) name with a very similar object, but he had postponed it thinking that it would come with so much greater force from the right rev. Primate. The Amendment in question would have had practically the same result as that now before the Committee. It was intended to give effect to a proposal made in the House of Commons, from the Liberal side of the House, by Mr. Harold Cox, the Member for Preston. The proposal had the support of some of the highest educational authorities in the House, especially of Sir William Anson and Sir Henry Craik. The latter had presided so long and with such conspicuous ability over the Education Department of Scotland that he spoke with great authority upon this subject, particularly as since his Grace had told them that so many of the Scottish schools were carried on under that system. He for one had often thought that the more they could approximate the English system to that of Scotland, the better it would be for the education of the country. Then the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Balfour, had said that the scheme of this Bill inevitably carried with it the acceptance of some such Amendment as that now before their Lordships' House. And lastly he might observe that if the seats in the House of Commons had corresponded at all with the votes given in the country at the last general election the clause would have been carried by a very large majority, showing that it had the support of those who were interested in education throughout the country. They had often heard that the responsibility for the Bill rested with the Front Opposition Bench, and that it would not have been necessary if it had not been for the Act of 1902. If that were the case this clause was really necessary, and was not in any way in opposition to the Bill, and he hoped, 504 therefore, that it would receive favourable consideration from His Majesty's Government. He further claimed the support of the Committee on the grounds of economy. They had heard a great deal about the grant of £1,000,000 which was to be devoted to the purposes of this Bill from the National Exchequer, and the Government had told them several times that they really were unable to form any idea what the charge upon the rates would be under this Bill. The noble Earl the President of the Council in summing up the debate, had referred to the figures which had been given by Sir George Doughty, and had said that he could not imagine that the expense would come to anything like the figure he had mentioned. He (Lord Avebury) had tried also to ascertain what the expense would be. It was no doubt true that it was impossible to say what the Bill might cost the country, but he was afraid it was not so difficult to say what it must cost the country. In the first place, there were school places to be found for over 3,000,000 children, and he thought that those of their Lordships who know what the expense of providing school places was (and those school places must either be provided by building new schools, or by buying or renting the present schools) would agree with him that for those 3,000,000 school places £2,000,000 was a very moderate figure; indeed, he would be very much surprised if that figure was not exceeded. Then there was the question of the cost of education per child. There were 3,000,000 children in these voluntary schools. In London the difference between the cost of a child in a board school and in a voluntary school was £1 13s. 9d.; in the country as a whole the difference was 13s. 6d. He thought, therefore, that in taking 8s. as the extra cost to be incurred under the Bill they were taking a very moderate figure, and, indeed, one which he was afraid would be largely exceeded. But taking 3,000,000 children at 8s. per head extra, the Bill under this head would cost the country £1,200,000. There were 14,000 schools, and they could not possibly put the alterations and repairs for 14,000 schools at 505 less than half a million a year. Then there were establishment charges, and taking those at the moderate figure of £10 per school, that would come to £140,000; making the total up to something a little over £4,000,000. He did not ask his noble friend to go into those figures on the present occasion, but he hoped that he would take an opportunity at some future time of pointing out why he thought those figures were all wrong, and that instead of £4,000,000 the Bill would only cost £1,000,000, He might also observe that in addition to all those charges there would be at the commencement a somewhat heavy expenditure for the Commissioners, and a considerable permanent increased cost for the great number of extra duties which the Bill threw upon the Board of Education. He could not help thinking, therefore, that they would be rather fortunate than otherwise if £4,000,000 covered the whole expenditure under the first part of the Bill. The second, moreover, would in some places add heavily to the rates. Surely that was a very great reason why they should economise where it was possible. If in England one-tenth of the schools were to be under the Archbishop's clause—as they knew was the case in Scotland—they would be saving to the rates some half million a year. Sir Henry Craik, who was so well acquainted with the Scottish system, and with all appertaining to it, was most strenuous in favour of the clause, and had given very strong reasons why he believed that the proposal which now worked so well in Scotland would work well in England also. It certainly would give variety—elasticity—to the educational system of the country—an advantage which was not lightly to be estimated. Sometimes they were told that these voluntary schools were not such good schools as the board schools. It might be admitted that the buildings were sometimes humbler, and the appliances not quite so up to date, but, on the other hand, just as it had been well said that—Stone walls do not a prison make,neither did stone walls make a school, and he was sure that every one of their Lordships who had been acquainted with the working of schools would agree with him that it was rather the spirit in 506 which the school was carried on that was important. Its success depended upon the energy, the experience, and the enthusiasm of the schoolmaster and of the committee much more than on the walls and the desks—the success of the school depended much more on the living elements thrown into it than it did on the mere material, appliances. Every school carried on under the clause suggested by his Grace the Archbishop must be carried on by people who would have subscribed considerably towards the expense of the school, who would have shown, therefore, that they had education at heart, and that they were ready to make sacrifices for the success of the school. He felt satisfied that schools carried on in that spirit, and in that manner, were eminently likely to be successful and useful. He ventured, therefore, to commend that clause to their Lordships, partly because it must inevitably tend to lighten the rates—every school which came under the clause would be a considerable saving to the rates—and even more because it would retain a valuable, and he hoped an increasing, element in the educational system of the country.
* LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNGWORTH
thought that there was a great deal to be said for this clause, and that it would commend itself to the sympathy of their Lordships, particularly on account of the arguments brought before them by the noble Lord who had just spoken. He might perhaps very respectfully urge that sub-section (6) of the clause would not be very workable or very necessary. That sub-section said—Nothing in this section shall affect the power of a local education authority to provide such school accommodation in public elementary schools provided by it as it may consider desirable for any district in which a State-aided school is situated.In other words, it gave power to a local authority, if it thought fit, and they could not tell exactly what might guide the decisions of those authorities, to erect a school side by side with a State-aided school. And if that were so it would very much defeat, he thought, the whole scheme of State-aided schools, because it would entail, in that case, a serious and heavy responsibility upon the ratepayers of the district, who would 507 otherwise be very much relieved from rates. If the local authority chose to avail themselves of that power—he presumed by the compulsory purchase of land clause— to erect a school of their own side by side with an already existing State-aided school, the ratepayers of such districts would not only have to pay the ordinary education rate of the county in addition to their private subscriptions which they would contribute for the, support of the State-aided school, but would also be saddled with a very heavy charge for the building of the new school, amounting to probably several thousands of pounds; and, as their Lordships were aware, it was often the custom in public councils to charge three-fourths of the expense of a new school upon the particular parish or area to which it related. So that he was afraid that the unfortunate ratepayers, if sub-section (6) were carried into effect, might be hit both ways, which would rather tend to nullify the undoubted advantages which a State-aided school would otherwise have, and which would naturally commend themselves to their Lordships.
said that as a governor of a school which would undoubtedly be affected if the Amendment were included in the Bill, he should like so say a few words. Their Lordships might remember that he referred to a school which was probably to be extinguished under the Act. When the London County Council swept away the fees the managers of the school in question went to the parents, and consulted them, and it was found that they preferred to pay the fees, and when they were not allowed any longer to pay fees, they became voluntary subscribers of the school, because they preferred a select school so long as it would be allowed. He need not go into all the detail of the discussion with the county council, but at last they had to withdraw the school from them, and they were now continuing it as an elementary school— of course with a grant—for which the parents paid; and at present the parents of about 700 children availed themselves of that school. If they had been allowed to continue with the local authority they would have saved them £800 a year in fees, they would have 508 saved them the expense of acquiring a new school which he might put—although of course it was merely a guess—at something between £50,000 and £80,000; but, as he had said, at the present time they were continuing, by the wish of the parents, who were willing to pay that amount in order to make it self-supporting. It would commend itself, he thought, to a great number of people—first of all, as noble Lords had said, to the ratepayers, because it would save them considerable expense. At present their attention in London—and he had no doubt it was also the case in the country, but more especially in London— was being drawn to the fact of the rise in rates, and they would probably increase under this Bill; and he thought if schools were allowed to maintain their independent existence it would be popular with the ratepayers. Of course it all depended on the parents as to the success and maintenance of the schools, and many of them believed that a large number of parents not only in London but in many other places, as in Scotland, liked to have their children in rather a better school—he might say of the same class as a higher grade board school. Then with reference to education, he did not think that anyone would dispute that the schools which this might help or save from destruction, would be of a class where the education for many years past had been first class. He did not think he need labour that point, as that was admitted, he believed, on all sides. He would not go into any detail, because possibly His Majesty's Government in another place might consider that it was too late to bring this proposal into the Bill. He hoped anyhow that the subject having been ventilated, his Grace would, if it were not accepted now, see the wisdom at some time next session of bringing in a small separate Bill, which ought not to take long, in order to admit of keeping in existence several schools, and even the bringing back under the education authority of some schools which might break away, because they all felt the importance of having Government inspection. But unless that class was admitted and brought in he was afraid that the school he referred to, and some 509 others, would not be under Government inspection. He did not think that education would suffer so very much, but at all events they would always be glad, having reaped so great an advantage in the past from the visits of His Majesty's inspectors, to have that system continued. With these few words, having seen the working of the school which he had mentioned, he would just call their Lordships' attention to the practical advantage which would be given in respect of economy, in respect of the parents, and in respect of the good education of the children. He hoped His Majesty's Government would see their way to admit this provision into the Bill.
A NOBLE LORD
said that there seemed to him to be an ambiguity in sub-section (4). If said—A State-aided school shall be under the control of the managers who, in addition to their other powers of management, shall have power to make provision for giving religious instruction of some special character not permitted under Section 14 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870.Did that mean giving religious instruction of the denomination to which the managers belonged, or did it mean all round facilities?
* THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said perhaps it would be a convenience to the noble Lord that he should answer the Question now. The decision on such a point would rest entirely with the managers. They proposed to leave to the managers the question of the provision of religious instruction. He did not suppose it would be outside the powers of the managers, as the clause stood, to have more than one kind of special teaching, including what was called Cowper-Temple teaching. But, more probably, the teaching would usually be of one sort throughout the school. The arrangements would be left to the managers, and that was the very idea that underlay the principle of the clause.
§ * THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (The Earl of CREWE)
This clause of the most rev. Primate is, as he stated, of a very far-reaching character. It is perfectly true that it is not an entirely 510 novel suggestion as regards this Bill-because we have, as noble Lords will remember, made some provision for the possible existence of schools of this kind. At the same time, the extension which is proposed is one of a very grave character. The most rev. Primate said that he spoke in this matter rather as an educationist than from his great position as the principal dignitary in the Church of England. I can assure him that whether he speaks as one or the other, any suggestion of his will be respectfully listened to, by the Government as by the rest of your Lordships. But in considering this matter in connection with this particular Bill, there are one or two important considerations to be borne in mind. First of all, from the point of view of education. As is well-known to your Lordships, the establishment of anything like a large system of State-aided schools has been taken serious exception to from the educational point of view, I grant that any return to the conditions which existed before the year 1902, and which were, in the main, the cause of the introduction of the Act of 1902, would lead to a loss of educational efficiency. Against anything of that kind the most rev. Primate has guarded, so far as the words of a clause make it possible to guard. He has surrounded this system, if I may say so, with a sort of barbed wire entanglement, which ought to make it impossible for any school to escape into a state of inefficiency. But it is a question which I think the Committee must ask itself, as to whether any restrictions, however elaborate, will, or would in certain events, ensure the maintenance of the standard of these schools at the point which the elementary education of this country is expected to reach; The difficulty, I think, which must confront everybody in considering this matter arises out of the necessary position of such schools as these. They are started under these elaborate restrictions, and it is provided most carefully that their efficiency should in every way be maintained. There may be four or five different factors which go to make up the efficiency of a public elementary school, and if this school falls short in any one of those—if it falls below the standard, that is to say, of a good 511 council school, or of a good public elementary school of a voluntary character —it would be the duty of the Board of Education to call attention to the fact, and, if necessary, to take action. What action can the Board of Education take in such a case? It has only one action, namely, to pass sentence of death on the school. It must close the school. It has no other power. After having tried remonstrance it has no power of penalising the school except with the result of closing it. It stands to reason, therefore, that when you have only this one sentence of extinction, you naturally lose that power of regulation, and of enforced improvement, which I think would almost be necessary if schools on this system were to become part of our national plan of education. What it is feared would happen is this—that being unwilling to close the school, the authorities would gradually —perhaps very gradually, but still certainly—fall into the state of things which existed before 1902; that is to say, they would close their eyes to certain deficiencies in these schools, certain respects in which they fell short of what was considered the proper standard. It would almost, I think, inevitably happen that in certain cases there would be some lapse from the standard which the most rev. Primate sets before himself, and it would place the Board of Education in a very serious difficulty if they had only left the choice between condoning that lapse and closing the school. And there is no doubt that in the minds of many there is a fear that this might lead to a different state of things. It might so happen that a Government was in power, and presiding over the Board of Education, which was so determined to maintain these schools and not to close them, that it was prepared to go on indefinitely increasing the grants in the case of these particular schools in order to keep them alive until the amount of the grant might reach the sum now provided by grant and rates combined. That, of course, is a possible political solution, but in view of the fact that the elementary education of the country has been in the main entrusted to the local authority, it is not a result which 512 we, at any rate, could look upon without concern.
So much for the educational aspect. But it is also necessary to consider what is the bearing of this proposal on this particular Bill as it stands. The most rev. Primate stated, and stated most fairly, that he looked on this proposal from an educational point of view, and not as providing a means of escape from what some may think the rather rigorous provisions of this measure. But, my Lords, would the public generally so regard it if it were included in this Bill? Would it not be understood that this clause was introduced here as providing a different kind of loophole from that which we provide under Clauses 4 and 5 of this Bill, in order that those who are not content with the facilities offered under the measure might, as I say, find a loophole of escape? As we interpret the views of the whole country on this matter, they are these—that the country desires to see a normal type of school established under the county councils, but it admits certain very distinct exceptions, an admission to which we have given effect in Clauses 4 and 5. But we do not believe that the country would admit or desire a second method of escape from the normal system of council schools, and for that reason we think that to include a clause of this kind in the Bill would not only unnecessarily complicate the measure, but would at the same time greatly confuse the issue by, as I say, allowing two quite distinct exceptions to run concurrently. Therefore, if it became the desire of this House to institute a general system of these State-aided schools, we feel that it would hardly be compatible with our measure to continue Clauses 4 and 5. You must either have one or the other. If you are prepared to accept the suggestions for the safeguarding of denominational teaching which we make under Clauses 4 and 5, well and good; or it might be conceivable—though we think it educationally distinctly objectionable, and therefore inferior—that the country might agree to a system of State-aided schools standing outside its national system. But we do not think that 513 both are possible, and, therefore, so long as Clauses 4 and 5 remain in the Bill, we could not agree to the insertion of the right rev. Primate's clause.
As regards Clauses 4 and 5, as compared with this clause, there is, I think, no question, as far, at any rate, as the Roman Catholic Church is concerned, that Clauses 4 and 5 would be considered preferable to a general system of State-aided schools, under which they obtained no assistance from the rates whatever. Consequently, we regard this proposition introduced here as directly contrary to the whole scheme which we had in view in introducing this Bill, and consequently we are not able as a Government to accept the proposal of the most rev. Primate.
A NOBLE LORD
said there was one sentence which fell from the noble Earl which seemed to his mind to insinuate that there might be, at the Board of Education, a head who would regard the position of the denominational schools as different from their position at the present time, and that it would be possible to increase the efficiency grant to such an extent as to meet all the calls upon it. He did not understand how that could be arrived at. Perhaps the noble Earl would explain that sentence in his speech.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I was not speaking of anything which would be in the power of the Board of Education of that time, but of course it is quite possible for a sympathetic Government to increase the grant all round, which would enable the school to be carried on entirely by grant rather than by rates and grant combined.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
said that the noble Earl opposite seemed to fear that the clause might impair the efficiency of the schools under it, but he would draw attention to the fact that if the schools were not efficient it was extremely unlikely that the parents would send their children to them, especially as under the clause the managers had the power of charging fees; and it was extremely unlikely that the parents would send 514 their children to such inefficient schools, especially when they were under the necessity of paying fees, seeing that they had a more efficient school, free from fees, equally at their disposal. He thought that was a consideration which was entitled to weight. He would also like to point out that if the schools were not efficient, there was nothing whatever to prevent the Board of Education withdrawing the grant—that was entirely in the discretion of the Board of Education. And further, he would have thought that the clause would be of extreme advantage both to the Bill and to the Government. It was quite uncertain (and he thought the discussion in that House yesterday proved it) upon what the £1,000,000 was calculated. He himself thought that the cost was much more likely to be £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 than £1,000,000 under the Bill. But, whether it was £1,000,000 or £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 would very largely depend upon the number of schools that were transferred. The Lord President of the Council must know that it was an extremely doubtful matter how many schools would be transferred unless Clause 4 and 5, and, he might add, Clause 3, were really made efficient. He thought that the noble Earl might be quite sure of this: that, whatever sacrifices were imposed upon the people, they would not transfer their schools if they did not get security for the religious teaching they desired; and, if schools were not transferred, that fact would largely add to the rates and greatly increase the money which would have to be spent under the Bill. Whilst Clauses 3, 4, and 5 were extremely important, the noble Earl must also be aware that with regard to schools belonging to the Church of England in the rural districts, Clauses 4 and 5 made their position extremely difficult. Under the new clause proposed by the most rev. Primate it would be possible (although at an expense which he considered would be a grave injustice) to save denominational teaching in many of the rural districts; and he hoped that in the interest of everybody, if it were possible to make this Bill a settlement, and finally to settle the question, that His Majesty's Government would really consider the 515 justice of accepting the clause, because he was satisfied that if that clause passed it would greatly ease the working of the Bill, should it become law.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I am one of those who listened with sympathy as well as interest to the statement in which the most rev. Primate introduced his Amendment. On the merits, the Amendment seems a perfectly defensible one; it introduces us to the State-aided school in a very different guise from that in which it first appeared in Clause 5 of this Bill. In Clause 5 persons seeking to obtain extended facilities under Clause 4 were liable, after they had surmounted what the Lord President just now called "the barbed wire entanglements" conspicuous in many parts of the Bill, to find themselves put off with treatment as a State-aided school. It was, if I might so describe it, a penal settlement of the question. The present proposal is entirely different. The most rev. Prelate advocates the creation of these schools from an educational point of view in the interest of that variety which so many of us would like to see in the school system of this country; and also as a means of insuring denominational education in many parts of the country where that education is desired to be preserved. The proposal was also advocated by my noble friend Lord Avebury upon the ground that it was an economical proposal. I should be the last person in the world to make light of that argument, for I am convinced that, whatever merits this Bill possesses, if it possesses any, the merit of economy is not one. But I am not sure, so far as the most rev. Prelate's proposal is concerned, that I can see much in it upon the ground of economy; because if State-aided schools of this kind were to be numerous, there would be some danger that they would as a class, particularly if they were a numerous class, fall below the general level of efficiency which we desire to maintain. I am under the impression that the most rev. Prelate did not expect these schools to be a very numerous class, but that he intended them to be of a somewhat special and exceptional class designed to provide for exceptional 516 requirements. And, if that be so, of course the economical argument falls to the ground. But, my Lords, I am bound to say, after hearing what has been stated for His Majesty's Government by the Lord President, that I am very doubtful indeed whether the most rev. Prelate would be wise to press his Amendment upon the Committee. In the first place, let us remember that we have been constantly charged by noble Lords opposite with over-loading the Bill with Amendments. Many of our Amendments, I think, are not open to that imputation; but this would certainly be a very serious and considerable excrescence upon the Bill; and I should, for that reason alone, hesitate to take the responsibility of recommending it. But there is another consideration which weighs more strongly still with me. I have always, from the moment when I first saw the most rev. Prelate's Amendment, felt that it was open to this objection; that if it were adopted the existence of these State-aided schools would certainly be used as an argument for whittling away the advantages to be given to schools enjoying extended facilities under Clause 4 of the Bill. The noble Earl's speech she we that my suspicion was not an idle one, because he told us, with great frankness, towards the close of his remarks, that in his opinion we should have to choose between the advantages of this proposal, and the advantages already to be found in the Bill under Clauses 4 and 5. I know that the most rev. Prelate expressly disclaimed the idea of intending this Amendment to supplant the provisions contained in the 4th and 5th clauses; but I am as sure as that I am standing here that if we were to introduce these new sections into the Bill they would be used as arguments for taking away the privileges which are already offered to us under the 4th and 5th clauses. My feeling is that we should be wise to concentrate ourselves upon those clauses—to insist, as we have hitherto insisted, that the advantages offered in those clauses shall be real advantages, that they shall not be surrounded by irksome conditions which will make them virtually untenable; and that we should content ourselves with securing those points, rather than seek to proceed upon what the Lord 517 President called alternative and concurrent lines. I think he is right in saying that to do so would confuse the issue, and that it might lead to the loss of some of the provisions which we regard as the most important contained in this measure.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
thought the subject was of sufficient importance to make it allowable, for a minute or two more, to protract the discussion. Nobody who knew the most rev. Primate would doubt for a moment that when he said a thing he meant it; and, as most of them had a considerable opinion of his judgment, he thought they would suppose that what was plain to the noble Marquess, and what had been plain to other speakers—namely, that this proposal would be likely to be discussed as an addition to denominational opportunities—was also present to his own mind, and therefore that it was rather against that than because of it he had proposed the clause to the Committee. He also thought that nobody who knew the deeper things of educational discussion would doubt that it was a most tenable opinion, and he, believed a growing opinion, that to unify the educational system, and to make it all of one kind and one piece, was not to improve it. To give a unity to it, as it were, in outline—to give a general grip and control upon the educational system of the country—was one thing; but within that outline, and under that control, to have a real variety of method and of character was a very great advantage. He very much wished, therefore, that on that ground His Majesty's Government could have seen their way to adopt something of the kind proposed. He could not help noting, as they passed, that it was not always bishops, or other wrong-headed persons of that kind, who introduced the religious difficulty into every stage of the educational discussion, because when they had a proposal, which had been, by its proposer, very carefully put upon other grounds, and not upon any form of the religious question, the noble Earl at once rose and said that he must bring it back again under the general heading, and under the general topic, of religious discussion, and on that account dismissed it.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I am bound to protest against that view of what I said. What I did say was that I felt bound to call the attention of the Committee, and of the most rev. Primate, to the colour which may be put upon his Amendment outside. It was no desire of mine to introduce the religious question at all.
* THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
apologised to the noble Earl; what he had been saying was only half serious, and in fact, in his next sentence he had intended to express his own agreement with the noble Earl — which was, in fact, an agreement also with the noble Marquess— to the effect that whatever was said, and done, and wished, it would be considered outside as a denominational advantage. But that being so, he could not deny that he himself would like very much to see this clause included for that very purpose. And in that connection he thought they ought to say—and perhaps they ought to say even more than they had said—that it was their opinion that if. this subject was treated, as it ought to be treated, with due respect to opinions of different kinds, the noble Earl would not be getting up from that Bench and using such language as he had used. It was to him one of the saddest things of all the discussion that there were bodies of opinion which seemed to have so little knowledge of each other, and so little willingness to consider one another's views. He doubted very much, if he might be allowed to say so, whether the noble Earl, whose unfailing courtesy of expression in that House had been acknowledged again and again, knew at all what sort of impression was given to large bodies of deeply conscientious men who had served the State, as well as the Church, for many a year at great sacrifice and great cost, when they read such words as "loopholes of escape" and expressions of that kind. For it was indeed the fact that the effect of this Bill was to capture, as in a net, the great system of schools which had done half the work of the country for the last half century. It was a fact that the Bill was demolishing and pulling down that system, and (this was a point directly relevant to 519 the Amendment, treating it as he was now treating it) not only pulling down that system, but ignoring to a very large extent (and in saying this he had not forgotten Clauses 4 and 5, though he wished the hole in the bottom of them was filled up) the wishes and desires of those whom those schools represented. He did not know how much it was good to import into their debates the directly controversial element, but he had himself the feeling, and he was quite certain that the feeling was very widely shared outside the House, and probably within it too, that while they were discussing this detail and another, the great issue which was before the country, which appealed to the justice of the country, which appealed to the heart and to the feeling of the country, was often obscured and hidden; and he was sure that if only public feeling were on this subject what he thought it would be if it were better informed—what he thought it would yet be when the country came to look back a little later on the stages of this discussion — then such a suggestion as was contained in the clause now before the Committee, would be discussed from that Bench, and from every Bench in the House, in a somewhat different spirit.
* LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said that the right rev. Prelate had complained of his noble friend the Lord President of the Council's speaking of affording "loopholes of escape," but as the right rev. Prelate immediately went on to talk of the Government's preparing a net intended to catch and enclose in its meshes the great system of schools which had educated half the country for the previous half century, he must say that the right rev. Prelate himself seemed to have rather gone upon the lines which he had deprecated in another speaker. He would remind the right rev. Prelate that the question of the bearing of this clause upon this methods of teaching religion was most pointedly introduced and insisted upon by the noble Viscount opposite, who had pointed out how, under it rural and single school areas might get the money which was now given in urban areas under Clause 4. The right rev. Prelate might not like it introduced by other Members, but he thought that in the 520 view of the right rev. Bench the most important part of this education dispute was its bearing upon the religious question, for he felt quite sure that the right rev. Bench would not be so keen upon this question if they did not think that those two questions were almost insolubly united. He had thought that, after the speech of the noble Marquess who led the Opposition, probably the clause would have been withdrawn, and it was rather the speech of the right rev. Prelate that had drawn him from his intended silence; but as he still believed that the clause would be withdrawn, he would be very brief in what he had to say. He wished to point out to the most rev. Primate, and to the noble Lord who had spoken from the cross benches and who illustrated his argument by citing a school in which he took an interest, that the clause before the Committee did undoubtedly increase the cost to the taxpayer, because the Bill as it stood enabled any managers of a school held in trust for religious education to withdraw that school from all public aid and all public control, and to maintain it as a certified efficient school. The clause which the Government had put into the Bill, which prohibited them from that course unless they gave a guarantee so to maintain the school for five years, was struck out, and the managers of schools were left to their undoubtedly absolute legal liberty to carry out the terms of their trust if they pleased without State interference and without State support. But the operation of the most rev. Prelate's clause would be to enable all such persons who disliked local interference at once to maintain their schools, not as certified efficient schools, but as State-aided schools, receiving a grant which very easily might amount to £2 per head from the State, and therefore the clause proposed would be a distinct addition to the burdens of the taxpayer in the interests of those schools. But further he would like to point out what the operation of the clause would be. It. would take away from the parents any voice in the management of the schools. It was going back to the pre-1902 conditions, where the managers were everything and the parents nothing. The managers meant the owners. Those owners would enable 521 any person of importance in the village who had power and keenness of conviction and interest, to say, "I will maintain my school as a State-aided school under this clause, limiting the religious teaching to the body to which I belong." The parents would not be represented on the management at all, nor would there be a parents' committee to control the religious education. And then it was said, "Oh, but it would be the duty of the local authority to provide alternative accommodation." Why? The clause did not even make it the duty of the local authority. The clause as drafted by the most rev. Prelate ran thus—Nothing in this section shall affect the power.There was a very important difference between a power and a duty That was a serious change made in the Act of 1902; whereas formerly it was a duty and an obligation of the local authority to provide all accommodation, there was a great alteration made in that Act. He could very easily imagine that many local authorities would be supremely indifferent to religious teaching, but supremely sensitive to the burden of the rate, who would not at all wish to exercise their power to provide another school in a village if a school was maintained there already which cost nothing to the rates. Further it might be said, "Oh, but surely some of the parents would bring pressure!" He was quite satisfied that in a small village, where the whole parish belonged to one proprietor—probably kind and benevolent, but perhaps a little old-fashioned, combining the sense of feudal authority with the sense of feudal responsibility— it would be very difficult for any of these villagers to ask for a separate school. Nobody supposed that the farmer would clamour for it. The cost of the school might fall up to two-thirds or three-fourths on the locality, and they coul not expect the farmers to be clamouring for a new rate to be put upon them. If it were possible to imagine that there might be two or three farm labourers unreasonable enough to clamour for it, "the farmer would very soon find a more reasonable set of labourers who would not put him to the expense of a new rate. The fact was that the proposed clause 522 would not hold water, and as he did not think it would be seriously pressed he would say no more.
* THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
desired to express his gratitude to the Committee, and especially to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury— particularly for the support which the latter had given to the larger considerations which led him, at least, to advocate that addition to the educational system of the country. He was quite certain that the question was one of increasing general interest, and he had no doubt that that interest, whatever might be the fate of this particular Bill, would continue to increase, and that the possibility of State-aided schools would not be lost sight of in the years that lay ahead. He believed the educational advantage would be very great indeed, and if it were worth while he thought he could answer pretty completely the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Stanley, as to the probability that his would throw increased cost upon the public, either as rate payers or as taxpayers. Lord Stanley had spoken as though schools which would otherwise be costing nothing to the public would become State-aided schools, and therefore involve a new charge upon the taxes. That, he thought, was the argument of Lord Stanley. His own argument, on the other hand, would be that a vast number of children would by voluntary effort be educated in this way—after some years, after the system had been improved— who would otherwise have been educated at the full cost of both ratepayers and taxpayers, and therefore in the long run it would prove a saving and not an expense to the public. He confessed he looked with a little suspicion—though perhaps that was hardly the right word— upon the argument which he understood to be used by the Lord President: "Perhaps this scheme is quite fair, only the public will not think so." He did think that that was a dangerous argument to use when they were trying to do what was right. He thought they should try only to do what was right, and trust that in time the people will understand it to be right, even though at first there should be a misunderstanding on their part.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I think I ought to remind the most Rev. Primate that I strongly pressed, to the best of my ability, that the educational arguments ought to prevail under any circumstances.
* THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
quite agreed, but he just mentioned the allegation he had referred to as a line of argument which he should always be inclined to deprecate. He had noticed one thing with some little interest—he did not like to say satisfaction, except in so far as it was a satisfaction to find that things which one had said in fear and alarm seemed to be justified by the utterances of those who at first had not appeared inclined to accept the same view. In speaking of Clause 4 and its safeguards he, and those who thought with him, had said that even though they might be pretty thorough and complete as regards Roman Catholic schools, they were not so thorough and complete as regarded Church of England schools, and he had noticed that the noble Earl, in speaking of Clause 4, had said that it ought to have a very beneficial effect upon Roman Catholic, schools. That was precisely what many of them had felt to be the distinction between the schools which belonged to the Roman Catholics and the schools which belonged to the Church of England as regarded Clause 4. What they had tried to do in their Amendments was to make effective the provisions which they felt before to be delusive. After what had been said upon both sides of the House he did not desire to press his Amendment to a division. No doubt the matter would come before their Lordships again some day—not under this Bill but under another—and he hoped that he would then have the satisfaction of seeing that House have the opportunity of securing a development which he was certain would be of advantage to the cause of education as a whole.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ * LORD HENEAGE
, in moving the following new clause:—"In the case of all existing schools which may become provided schools under this Act, sub- 524 section (2) of Section (6) of the Education Act of 1902 shall be repealed, and it shall be enacted that two managers shall be nominated by the owners of the school and two managers elected by the parents of the children, in addition to two managers nominated by the local authority," said he was glad to inform their Lordships that this was not another controversy upon any religious question. It was a practical proposal for the appointment of managers to what were now existing schools but which would come in under the operation of Clause 1. In the schedule to the Bill, which was almost a Bill itself, the foundation managers set up under the Act of 1902 were to be abolished; and at the present moment there were no managers set forth in the Bill specially for those schools. The clause spoke for itself. He proposed that in the existing schools there should be two managers nominated by the owners, two by the parents, and two by the local authority; and he thought he could, in a very few words, give very fair reasons for all three proposals. These schools were only to come under the power and control of the local authority for five hours on the five days of the week on which the school was held, and at certain other times provided by Statute when meetings could be held there; but during the whole of the rest of the time of the week—the other hours of the five days and on Saturday and Sunday—they were entirely under the powers of the owners, who were altogether responsible for them. Therefore he thought it was only fair that if they were to be responsible for the management of the schools out of school hours, and for everything that might happen in them when they were either let, or lent for entertainment, or for any of the other purposes for which village schools of all denominations were used, they should have some representation upon the management. Consequently, he proposed that the owners should be represented by two managers. Next they came to the parents, and he thought, after the speech to which they had just listened from Lord Stanley of Alderley there was no doubt that the other side of the House were quite as anxious as they on that side were to see that the parents were represented 525 on these committees of management; and the other two managers would be appointed as they were now. He thought that with the clause as it now stood, and as he would propose it, there was a good opportunity of obtaining, in a friendly manner, a representation not only of all classes but of all denominations upon the committees of management, which was what he would desire. He was also of opinion that it would obviate a very great difficulty which he thought would exist in the separate parents' committees. He did not object to those parents' committees themselves, but he saw the greatest difficulty in working them; and he could not himself quite see—he might be entirely wrong, and perhaps the Lord President would be able to remove some of his difficulties—where the line was to be drawn between the powers of those parents' committees and the committee of managers. That was one of his chief difficulties. If the committee of managers was framed in the way which he proposed, it appeared to him that they would do the work, not only of the managers' committee, but of the parents' committee as well. Therefore he had worded it in that way. He believed he was perfectly correct in saying that if the great body of the owners in the country, as well as a great majority of both Houses of Parliament, in 1902 could have had their way, they would have preferred such a clause to the foundation managers clause; and he might, if the Committee would allow him to do so, speak from personal experience in the matter. He had never put the foundation managers clause into operation in the district school of which he had been chairman for the last thirty years; but he had called the ratepayers and the parents together for the three parishes which the school served, and had asked them to consider the names of those persons who should be managers; and in the end they had selected four unanimously, of whom of course two were to be appointed by the owners. He had then undertaken to get the local authority to appoint the other two, and they were appointed unanimously by arrangement with the local authority; and they had never had the slightest difficulty since. 526 They had, besides the two representatives of himself on the management, two Church of England representatives, one Roman Catholic and one Wesleyan; the Roman Catholic was a farmer, and the Wesleyan a labourer. That was what he should call an ideal board of managers; and he could not help thinking that if the same sort of committee could be set up in other parishes, it would obviate the difficulty which he foresaw in this parents' committee's running side by side with the committee of managers. It would get over that difficulty in a most satisfactory manner; and be begged to move the clause standing on the Paper.
To insert the following new clause, 'In the case of all existing schools which may become provided schools under this Act, Sub-section 2 of Section 6 of the Education Act, 1902, shall be repealed, and it shall be enacted that two managers shall be nominated by the owners of the school, and two managers elected by the parents of the children, in addition to two managers nominated by the local authority.'" —(Lord Heneage).
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
It is impossible for the Government to accept the clause suggested by the noble Lord. It would surely be a paradox if in a provided school the majority of the managers represented anybody but the local authority. The more natural course which was provided by the Bill was that the management should follow the rule of the management of council schools— that four of the managers should be appointed by the county council and two by the minor local authority. It is perfectly true, as the noble Lord says, that the school is obtained for the purposes of public education by the local authority; and at all other times its use is in the discretion of the owners. The mere fact that the owners had two representatives on the body, far from adding to the control which they would have over it would detract from it, because, as a matter of fact, the owners would have obviously the final voice in the disposition of the school when it was not used by the local authority. As regards the question of the committee of parents, as I understand the noble Lord, he thinks that in ordinary facility schools there should be no committee of parents. 527 But I must remark that the committee of parents was agreed to by us on the understanding that it was to have control over the special religious instruction and for no other purpose. We certainly should not be prepared to admit the parents, as such, to the general management of the school as proposed by my noble friend's Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT GOSCHEN
was glad that his noble friend Lord Heneage had raised the point, because, so far, their Lordships' House had scarcely given sufficient attention to the question of managers. He thought there were many, both in that House and outside, who had not recognised the immense change which had been made in Clause I—not expressly, but through the Schedule, and through the phrase that they were to become provided schools — that in all schools the power was in future to rest in two local authorities, and that all managers, whom he would now call local managers, were swept away. Whatever the merits or the demerits of the present system of foundation managers, introduced in 1902, it had secured that the men chosen were men deeply interested in the school, men who were on the spot, and who were watching the whole progress of the school. In the future, according to the new system, four managers were to be elected by a distant authority and two by the minor local authority. But the parish itself had nothing to do with the administration of the school, they had no voice; and it would be perfectly possible that in some parishes there might be a totally different feeling with regard to the school from what existed at head quarters. And so the whole power (the noble Lord was perfectly right in saying so) would be taken away, and the managers would have practically no powers at all; they would simply be the mouthpiece of the distant authority. He thought it should be known generally that that great change had taken place. The next point was, what duties were the managers to have? He thought his noble friend was quite right in pointing to the fact that at present there would be the two authorities; the managers and the parents' committee. He thought the question would have to 528 be further discussed upon Clause 15 to which it was strictly germane. They would then have, with regard to the management of a parish school, the action of the distant authority, the action of the minor authority, the action of the parents' committee, and the action of the managers themselves— an administrative confusion which would, it appeared to him, in the future render the administration of the school extremely difficult. He hoped that His Majesty's Government, that House and the public, would consider, quite apart from the controversial questions with which they had to deal, that question of the local administration of the schools—who was to exercise a deal of influence over the schools, and who was to have such a necessarily watchful eve upon the proceedings in the schools. He hoped that that might be thoroughly kept in sight, and that it would be treated from a broader standpoint than he thought had hitherto been the case.
* THE UNDER - SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Lord FITZMAURICE)
desired, if he could do so without at all going again over the ground which had been already covered by the observations of the Lord President, to point out that the noble Viscount who had just addressed the Committee was under a misapprehension in saying that under the Act of 1902 the parish had no position. "Parish" was denned in the Definition Clause of that Act—The minor authority appointing one of the managers outside the areas of the local authorities.Therefore, in provided schools at present the parish council, the parish represented by the parish council, not, it was true, by the managers, had the right of appointing managers and he might add that in some counties in regard to the non-provided schools an even larger representation was indirectly given to the parishes, because the county councils in some cases (he spoke of his own county certainly, and he knew it was the same in some neighbouring counties) recognised that it was practically impossible for a body like the County Education Committee, a rather central body sitting in the county town, to know clearly themselves who the 529 fit persons were in all the different parishes of the county. Therefore, what they did in the case to which he referred was this; they sent out, in regard to their own appointment, to all the parish councils to ask them to send up three names; and, from those three names they selected one. So that in reality the parish council had not only a power by law to appoint, but they had also practically a power in the appointment of the member appointed by the county council, because he was practically appointed on the recommendation of the parish council, seeing that the county council, very wisely as he thought in those circumstances, nearly always chose the name which the parish council sent up first on their list of three.
* LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNGWORTH
wished to say one word upon what had fallen from Lord Heneage about the difficulties of the parents' committees. Of course it was an important departure from the Bill; and, as he understood, it received to some extent the sanction of His Majesty's Government; but upon the nature of the parents' committee everything seemed to turn, and their Lordships would see that it had not been exactly defined who were to compose the committee. First of all, were these four people to be elected by the parents to be parents themselves; were they necessarily to be parishioners or residents in the area to which the school applied; or might they be, in some cases or in all cases, outsiders? Because, as had already been pointed out, those parents were, in their very nature, of a somewhat unlettered and humble description, and on that account were all the more worthy of their Lordships' consideration. But, unless proper care was taken as to who were appointed, or how they were appointed, there was always the risk of certain influences being brought to bear, so as to get such and such a person elected not altogether with a single view, considering the extremely important functions with which they had to be charged, namely, the control of the religious instruction given in the school for which were to be responsible. He merely wished to draw the attention of the Committee to a point which he thought 530 had somewhat escaped notice, and which perhaps might be, at some future stage, a little more determined than it was at present, as to the exact nature of the persons who were to compose the committee which was to be elected by the parents. As to the nature of their election, that, he presumed, was to be governed by rules laid down by the Board of Education; but those rules, he supposed, would probably only refer to the method of election, as to whether it was to be by ballot, how the days were to be fixed, and so forth. But the other consideration, as to who exactly these people were to be, seemed to him to be very important, though at present it was left undefined in the Bill.
§ LORD HENEAGE
asked whether the question raised on the present discussion was to be decided now or at a later stage-Clause 2 said that the local education authority might—Make any arrangements they think fit by agreement with the owners of the schoolhouse of the school for obtaining such use of it as is required for carrying on a public elementary school.Supposing that they were to make it one of the stipulations, or propose it as one of the stipulations, that there should be one of the school managers appointed by the parents, would that be outside the arrangements possible?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn
§ Clause 14:—
§ VISCOUNT LLANDAFF
said there was an ambiguity about the syntax of subsection (2), which ran thus—The expression 'transferred voluntary school' means a school which is continued as a public elementary school by the local education authority in the schoolhouse of an existing voluntary school, either under an arrangement made in pursuance of this part of this Act, or under an agreement for the purchase or hire of 531 the schoolhouse made after the passing of this Act and before the first day of January, 1908.It was not clear upon the section whether that restriction of date referred to the arrangement made in pursuance of that part of the Act, or was only in regard to the agreement for purchase or hire. If the former, it was obvious, he thought, that the time was too short. It could be hardly possible for all the schools that might possibly desire an arrangement to complete their arrangements before the 1st January, 1908, and he saw no reason why they should be shut out from making arrangements at a later date. It might be that many voluntary schools would try to struggle on without making an arrangement, and at last be compelled by necessity to come in and make an arrangement. He could see no good reason why they should not be permitted to make an arrangement under Part I of the Act after the first part of the year had lapsed—just after, in fact, the Act came into force. The Act did not come into force until the 1st January, 1908, and he did not see why local authorities should be tied down to making an arrangement in the year 1907 and being in their present condition when no stimulus or pressure was put upon them to make an arrangement at all. They could go quite smoothly through the year 1907, and perhaps go on for a year or two afterwards, and they could then come in and make an arrangement under Clauses 3 and 4. What good reason was there against that? He could see none. On the other hand, if the restriction of date only applied to agreement to purchase or hire, then he could not understand the necessity of it at all. There was no possibility of agreement for purchase under the Act. The Act gave no power to purchase a school. The only agreement was for the use of the school for the purpose of elementary education. The agreement for purchase or hire could only be under Section 19 of the Act of 1870, which was a clause empowering the School Board, and therefore now the county council, to purchase the land. Of course he should bow to the decision of the Lord President, but he doubted whether, under that clause, the county council had any power to purchase a school. They had power to purchase 532 land, but no power to purchase a school, and certainly there was no power under that clause for the owners of a school to disregard their trust and to sell to the local education authority. It was Clause 19 of the Act of 1870 which seemed to be hinted at, or alluded to, by the words—An agreement for the purchase or hire of a schoolhouse.That agreement was not contemplated at all by the Act of 1870. They wanted not only to empower the local authority to purchase, but to give power to the owners of the schoolhouse or the trustees of the schoolhouse to sell to a local education authority in spite of their trusts, and in partial disregard of their trusts. Whether that was the true construction of the Act of 1870 or not, there was no reason for limiting the date by which arrangements might be made for purchase or hire. Therefore he begged to submit to His Majesty's Government that the limitation of date to which he had referred ought to be struck out.
In page 11, line 19, to leave out from the word 'Act' to the word 'or' in line 20."— (Viscount Llandaff.)
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
My Lords, this is a small matter but rather a complicated one. In reply to the noble Viscount's first question, I think you will see that the arrangement made in pursuance of this part of the Act is provided for by the different dates mentioned in the Act, and that therefore these words, "before the 1st day of January, 1908" only apply to the agreement for the purchase or hire of the schoolhouse, but all arrangements are provided for by Clause 2 and by Clause 9 describing the proceedings 'of the Commission. As regards the agreement for the purchase or hire of the schoolhouse, I do not think the noble Viscount is quite accurate in saying that no schoolhouse may be acquired under Section 19 of the Education Act, 1870, because as a matter of fact they have been, I am informed, so acquired under that Act. I mean as regards taking a lease—that is to say, the hire question—I did not quite understand whether the noble Viscount said 533 that schoolhouses could not be leased, or could not be bought, under that section.
§ VISCOUNT LLANDAFF
said that under that section there was no power to buy a schoolhouse held under trust, because they must entrust the owners to sell, as well as the local authority to purchase. On the other hand there was a clause in the Act of 1870 which was repealed in the schedule to the present Act, and to which he should propose to call their attention. The clause in question gave the largest power of all against purchase, use, or partial use of any sort or kind. He saw no reason, and could imagine no reason, for limiting the date in the manner proposed.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
The reason was that we were anxious that these arrangements should be concluded so far as possible within a given time, and that, where the school did not desire to make an arrangement within that period, it might, of course, stand out and become a certified efficient school, but if at a later period it wanted to come in, it would have to come in as a new school, and would not get the advantages of coming in as a transferred voluntary school.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
said that he had read all these sections with a great deal of attention. Although he was sure the noble Earl was a master of their complication he thought it would be well worth his consideration, and that of those responsible for the drafting of the Act, if they would try and group together the different dates, because really it required a man to be at his best in order to remember all the various dates that were necessarily put in. He quite agreed that there could not be a common date for every purpose, but in this particular instance the date put in was for a rather narrow purpose. He quite agreed with his noble friend that it was too rigid to say not only after the passing of this Act—that was quite right—but a year before 1st January, 1908. He thought that was rather too narrow. At first he had been inclined to think that the words ought to be "After the passing and under the provisions of this Act"; but on 534 reflection he did not think those words would cover the conditions of the noble Earl, and, therefore, he would ask whether the words should not be "the 1st January, 1908, or on such date as may be fixed by''—such authority as the Lord President pleased to name.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
asked why it was necessary to fix any date at all. They were defining a "transferred voluntary school." A "transferred voluntary school" could be taken over by Section 2, and by Section 9, and there were three ways in which it could be taken over without any arrangement by this clause. In this clause a "transferred voluntary school" was a school continued under an agreement, or an agreement made in continuance of such an agreement, or in pursuance of a scheme made by the Commission. Surely that was an exhaustive settlement of all possible transferred schools, and therefore he did not see why they wanted to put in a date to complicate the matter at all.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
Because all the other possible ways of affecting the school, except this one, are provided for by the terms of the Act upon the operation of the Commission. But in this case we think it reasonable that the local authority should know before 1908—subject to the consideration which of course I will give in reply to the question of the noble and learned Lord on the Front Bench—whether it is likely to have to build a new school or not, and whether a given school is going to be taken over or not, and it certainly seems reasonable that the authority should not be kept indefinitely waiting to know whether a particular school means to come in under an agreement or not. If it does not come in, but stands out for a time, there is no reason why, if it chooses to come in at some indefinite future date, it should not come in in the character of a new school under Clause 6. But as to why a transferred voluntary school is treated in that particular way, if the noble Lord will read Clauses 5 and 6, he will see that the circumstances under which it comes in are rather different.
§ VISCOUNT LLANDAFF
pointed out that the Lord President of the Council proposed by the schedule to repeal Section 23 of the Act of 1870, which was the section under which hiring could take place. What would be the position? They had a voluntary school which during 1907 would have no inducement to make an arrangement, because the status quo continued through the whole of 1907, and in 1908 they were no longer empowered to purchase, or agree, or make any arrangement about it. Surely that was not a desirable condition of things.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
The reason, as I said just now, is that we did not think it fair to leave the local authority in such a condition of uncertainty as to what schools it might have to build.
§ VISCOUNT LLANDAFF
said that the local authority could occupy it compulsorily for two years as an elementary school.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ * LORD BARNARD
in moving an Amendment providing that the expression "owners" as respects any school-house should include persons in whom an interest in the schoolhouse "or in the school carried on therein" is vested, said he could not help thinking that there was not a very clear comprehension on the part of either the members of their Lordships' Committee or of the public at large as to what the effect of the definition of the word "owners" might be. No doubt the popular idea was that the people who had the making of arrangements for the transfer of these schools were what was popularly known as trustees. But there was a difference between the public comprehension of trustees and the legal definition. As a matter of fact, the persons in whom the "legal estate"—to use a legal phrase —was vested in most of the non-provided schools were persons who in that capacity had absolutely nothing whatever to do with the management of the schools, and the consequence was that it might happen, and very likely would happen, that in some cases the persons who would have to make the arrangements for 536 the transfer of the schoolhouse, or otherwise to deal with the schoolhouse under the Bill when it became law, were persons who had no part or voice whatever in the management of the school. He knew it was a popular idea that in every parish in England there existed a parson, a squire, a church and a mansion house. He knew that was the fact in some parts of England, but it was not so in others. In the County of Durham, in which he lived, far from that being so, the parish in which he resided, which was a very large one, possessed a school which, under the School Sites Acts, was vested in the vicar and churchwardens of the parish. The school was five miles away from the parish church, and served an entirely different district. The churchwardens did not take any part whatever in the management of the school, although the vicar did. The churchwardens were merely trustees for the purpose of holding the legal estate. Therefore he did not see how they could exercise any wise discretion under Clause 2 of the Bill. The vicar and churchwardens, he should mention, were created a corporation for that special purpose by the School Sites Acts, and solely in order that they might hold the land, to save the school being put to constant expense by the appointment of trustees. Some people got over that difficulty by appointing other corporate persons, such as a bishop or archdeacon, as trustees of the schools and in those cases they might not reside within fifty miles of the school and might never come near it. He thought something should be put in so as to ensure not only the people holding the legal estate in the soil, but the persons managing the school, being consulted. The land on which the school was built, and the walls and so forth, were of no use unless there was somebody to manage and control the school, and those persons were, he thought, the persons who ought to have a voice in any transactions under this Bill. He quite admitted that in the present state of affairs it was not easy to say, under the Act of 1902, who really ought to have that voice in this particular case. Many of the managers were to be appointed by the subscribers, and there were now no such subscribers, but at the same time there was a 537 residuum of the managing body left which should be entitled to have a voice in this transaction, and he had therefore ventured to put down the Amendment which stood in his name on the Paper.
In page 11, line 31, after the word 'school-house,' to insert the words 'or in the school carried on therein.'"—(Lord Barnard.)
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
The question raised by the noble Lord raises, no doubt, an interesting point as to the proper meaning of "owners" in this connection, or rather, I should say, who are the people who ought to carry on the negotiation with a local authority in the character of owners. Of course it is clear that the expression as described in the Bill could include a ground landlord, or a mortgagee, or anybody who had a proprietary substantial interest in the property. But if the noble Lord's words were included, it seems that a very large number of other persons might be said to have an interest in the school. It would include, I take it, certainly the foundation managers, or other managers as the case might be, it would probably include subscribers, if any, and it might go even further, and include, for instance, the parents of a child who, by winning a scholarship, had become entitled to education in that particular school. Consequently, it seems that an exceedingly inconvenient state of affairs might arise when it came to negotiating with the local authority. We think it very important that in that matter there should be only one consent required. Arrangements of a satisfactory character are far less likely to be reached if a large number of consents—some, perhaps, of people whose interest in the school as carried on might be very slight indeed—had to be obtained to every provision or arrangement. When we were discussing this matter before, I admitted that as what was passing was not so much the bricks and mortar as the use of the school, there seemed to be a considerable case for including the managers in some form or another under this head, and I suggested that it might be possible that the managers of the school, 538 and the trustees, might act together as one body, and carry on negotiations with the local authority. I do not know whether that at all appeals to the noble Lord, or whether he suggests a way in which they could be treated as one body. If he could, I certainly think it would meet the substantial justice of the case; but if not, I certainly do not think we could agree to words so vague as those of the noble Lord, and which, as I say, would admit for purposes of consent in these cases, I would not say an unlimited, but certainly an unknown number of persons.
§ * LORD BARNARD
expressed his obligation to the noble Earl for the courteous way in which he had met the criticisms he had made. Under the circumstances he certainly did not propose to press his Amendment, and he therefore, asked leave to withdraw it. Perhaps the Lord President would see his way to suggest on the next stage of the Bill words giving effect to the offer which he had been good enough to make with a view to meeting his (Lord Barnard's) views.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH moved an Amendment providing that no child should be reckoned, for the purposes of the provisions of this part of the Act relating to extended facilities "and application by parents to the Board of Education," as a child attending a school unless the child had attended the school with due regularity for at least six months. He said the object of the Amendment which he was about to move was to secure to the parents the right of applying to the Board of Education. For instance, in Clause 5, sub-section (4) it was provided that—
The parents of at least twenty children attending a transferred voluntary school, if aggrieved by the mode in which extended fatalities are afforded by a local education authority) may appeal to the Board of Education.
§ If the words in the clause were sufficient to cover all the appeals that the parents might make to the Board of Education, he had no wish to move the Amendment—if the noble Earl thought they were covered by the existing words.539
In page 12, line 10, after the word 'facilities' to insert the words 'and application by parents to the Board of Education.'"— (Lord Clifford of Chudleigh.)
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I do not make any objection to the insertion of the words if the noble Lord likes to insert them. As the Bill stands, I make no objection.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH
said he would move them at present, and if the noble Earl subsequently thought them unnecessary, he could leave them out.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT LLANDAFF
said the addition, or Amendment, which he had put upon the Paper was to provide for differences between the parents' committee and the local education authority. Differences must necessarily arise. The parents' committee, as their Lordships had now instituted it, had a very delicate duty to perform—namely, the control of the religious instruction given in the schools.
In page 12, lines 19 and 20, after the word 'education' to insert the following new subsections, '(6) If any question arises between the local education authority and the owners of the schoolhouse or the parents' committee of any school as to the use of the schoolhouse or as to the mode in which facilities for religious instruction are afforded, or as to damage (other than fair wear and tear) to the schoolroom or school furniture during the use of the schoolhouse for religious or secular instruction, or as to the appointment or dismissal of teachers, that question shall he referred to the Board of Education, whose decision shall be final, and it shall be the duty of the local education authority and of the owners and parents' committee, to comply therewith. (7) The powers of managers under Section 76 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, shall after the passing of this Act be exercised by the parents' committee elected under this Act'"—(Visconnt Llandaff.)
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
May I point out to the noble Viscount that a very great part of this has already been done. I think he will find in Clause 5 of the Bill that in any question as to the mode in which facilities are carried on, 540 there is an appeal to the Board of Education. If he looks at sub-section (4) he will see that there is an appeal from the parents of twenty children to the Board of Education, and in sub-section (1) preceding that, there is a similar appeal from the owners of the school-house, and I do not know whether he thinks it worth while to ask for a further appeal from the parents' committee.
§ VISCOUNT LLANDAFF
thought that the parents' committee would certainly have little points of friction with the local education authority. A hostile authority might interfere with the giving of religious instruction in a way that did not amount to an interference with facilities. The appeal given in sub-section (4) of Section 5 was only against the way in which extended facilities were carried out. He quite agreed that the multiplication of the clauses of appeal was very undesirable, and what occurred to him was that some general clause of appeal should be inserted in that part of the Bill, embracing all the cases given in different parts of the Bill. But whether there was one general clause of appeal, or whether the different matters should be dealt with piecemeal, there should be some clause of appeal to enable the parents' committee to get redress from what they considered undue interference with their control of religious instruction. That appeared to him absolutely necessary. A thousand little points might arise which it would not be worth while to take to the Board of Education—differences of opinion about the way in which the parents' control was exercised, and so on. He would be quite content if some general clause were put in which would consolidate all the different things. What the noble Earl had said turned upon a different case altogether. Sub-section (4) of Clause 5 was meant for the case of a notable body of parents having the control which they had bargained for. The parents' committee wanted some protection in the control which they exercised from day to day, and if the noble Earl would frame some general clause to be inserted at this point it would meet the object which he had in view in bringing forward this Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF HALSBURY
thought the appeal clauses were a little confused as they stood—he did not say it was the fault of the draughtsman, but he could not say that the Amendment of the noble Viscount made the matter much easier. He observed that he had mixed up the furniture and the wear and tear of the schools with the mode of religious instruction, and he could not think that that particular form of appeal was very desirable. But he thought that the suggestion made was one that the noble Earl might well take into consideration—that was to say, the adoption of a general appeal clause consolidating the various appeal clauses scattered throughout the Bill. There was an appeal clause in Section 3, and another appeal clause in Section 5, and if some general appeal clause were inserted dealing with all these different matters it would make the Bill clearer and probably make the administration of the Act much easier.
§ VISCOUNT LLANDAFF
said that the criticism of his noble and learned friend rather surprised him, because the language used with, which his noble friend found fault was taken from the. Act of 1902, for which the noble and learned Lord was responsible. That was exactly the kind of dispute which would arise. If forms were broken, or some other damage was done during the hour of religious instruction, the parents' committee would be responsible, while, on the other hand, if there were damage done during the hours of secular instruction, the local authority would be responsible. Those were exactly the cases which his noble and learned friend inserted in the Act of 1902, and he had only humbly followed in his footsteps.
§ THE EARL OF HALSBURY
said that the noble Viscount would forgive him for saying that in the Act of 1902 they were dealing with a particular code which spoke for itself, whereas the noble Viscount now wanted to introduce another set of clauses which did not fit in with those already there.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
As regards the question raised by the noble and learned 542 Lord opposite, I have, of course, to ask the Committee to remember that this great multiplicity of appeals was not made with our consent or concurrence, but if noble Lords who desire to see them put in want some technical assistance in putting appeals into shape, I should be very sorry to refuse it so far as I am able to command it. But as regards this particular clause I think it is reasonable enough as the Bill now stands that the parents' committee should have an appeal of this kind, if it is not given to other people. If the noble Viscount will look at sub-section 4 of Clause 5 he will see that the parents have an appeal not merely as to how the extended facilities should be carried out, which was inserted by an Amendment, but also as to the mode in which the extended facilities should be afforded, and perhaps it might be for him to consider whether it is necessary to give the same appeal to the twenty parents and to the parents' committee. But this is a minor point. What I wanted to say is that as far as the parents' committee is concerned it seems reasonable enough, but when these other questions of wear and tear and matters of that kind are mentioned, those undoubtedly ought in most cases to be met in the original agreement as between the parties, with some provision in case of dispute for settlement by arbitration. Things of that sort ought not perpetually to be coming up to the Board of Education, as noble Lords will agree. As regards dismissal of teachers, the noble Viscount will understand that we could not possibly agree to that.
§ VISCOUNT LLANDAFF
said that he had still another Amendment, in regard to sub-section (7). He hoped the noble Earl would see the necessity of making some concession upon that point. Section 76 of the Elementary Education Act of 1870 was repealed in the schedule to this Bill. Section 76 was the section which gave to elementary school managers the power of calling in an inspector who was not one of His Majesty's inspectors, but an inspector of a private kind—a private inspector—for the purpose of inspecting the religious instruction given in schools. The most rev. Primate, among others, had pointed out the immense importance 543 of religious instruction, its great value to the elementary school, and its great value to the denominational school. It did harm to no human being, and it seemed to him that the power of having an inspection of that sort ought not to be taken away, so as to secure that the religious instruction given by the parents' committee was thorough and efficient, and according to the intention of the owners of the schoolhouse. Therefore all he suggested under that Amendment was that the powers of the managers under Section 76 of the Act of 1870 should, after the passing of the present Act, be exercised by the parents' committee elected under the Act. The parents' committee, having the responsibility for the religious instruction, and the control of it, ought surely to be allowed to do that which hurt no human being, and at their own expense— that was to say, to call in an inspector to see that the religious instruction given was satisfactory.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
The noble Viscount will remember that we have already had some little talk on this subject on the Motion of the Bishop of Winchester, and that at that time I promised to consider the matter with the right rev. Prelate, and we have had some communication with him. I cannot give an answer to the question of the noble Viscount as to transferring the whole powers of the managers under Section 76 to the parents' committee, but if he will withdraw his Amendment I can assure him that we are not losing sight of the matter, and that we will consider it further in the light of what he has said.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said the noble Earl had alluded to the reply he gave to the right rev. Prelate on 5th November, but on that occasion he the Lord President went further, and said that the Amendment was one towards which the Government also felt a great deal of sympathy. He went on to say that he was uncertain whether it was possible to impose that duty upon the local education authority, as was done in the case of voluntary schools by Section 76 of 544 the Act of 1870. Then he concluded by saying—But I can assure the right rev. Prelate that we will take the whole matter into full consideration, and, if he pleases, consult with him as to the best possible method of giving expression to his wishes.On that understanding another Amendment on one other clause was withdrawn, and while he did not in the least deprecate what the noble Lord had said, he thought they should ask for a time to be stated when he would give clear expression as to how that sympathy was to be shown.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I quite agree that it went further than sympathy— I said that the clause should, if possible, be arranged with a view to meet the wishes of the right rev. Prelate, and that it should be dealt with at the Report stage.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Moved, "That Clause 14, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said that before the clause was passed he desired to draw the attention of the noble Earl the President of the Council to its form. It consisted partly of definition and partly of supplementary provision. He believed it was the invariable practice that a definition clause should contain nothing but definitions, and should come last. If the noble Earl would look at the last two lines on page 11, he would see that the paragraph was an injunction on owners of the schoolhouse to furnish information to the local authority. That had nothing whatever to do with definitions. Then came sub-section (5), which said that no child was to be reckoned as attending unless he had attended a certain number of times. Surely, as a matter of arrangement it would be better to have those two paragraphs as separate clauses and to have the definition clause by itself.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I certainly will consult the draughtsman on the point raised by my noble friend opposite, which had not escaped my attention, and if it is found to be better 545 to remodel the clause in that respect it will certainly be done.
§ On Question, Clause 14, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 15:—
§ * THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH
said that the object of this Amendment was to make the clause optional. As the clause stood it read—The council of every county shall, subject to the provisions of this section, within two years after the passing of this Act, prepare a scheme for the purpose of delegatingcertain duties. He thought that in those county councils where they had an efficient and well-worked scheme it would be very unfortunate to compel them to break it up. He admitted that it was a little unfortunate that where "shall" appeared in the original text they on that side desired to insert "may," and where there was a "may" they proposed "shall." No doubt, that might be partly due to the atmosphere on the two sides of the House. But many of their Lordships had noticed with some sympathy an expression of the Minister for Education the other day as to the number of "shalls" that had been inserted into the Bill. If his Amendment were carried they would be able to do something to reduce that proportion, and he hoped very much that the Government would see their way to do what he asked, because, while the Amendment did not in any way affect those county councils which wished to adopt the scheme, it did prevent those which had an efficient scheme already working from being compelled to break it up. He would not go into many details, although there was a good deal to be said on the subject, but if they considered for a moment they would remember that the county councils who had adopted schemes had a large staff, competent, and no doubt expensive; they had endeavoured to carry out the requirements of the Act of 1902, and they had been put to a good deal of expense in doing it. The first two years had been expended chiefly in organisation, and after those two years of organisation, and of acquiring experience, they were now beginning to get really the effect of a good educa- 546 tional system. They had included in the staff the director or secretary, architects, and their assistants, who were capable men competent to plan or supervise the erection of new schools, and to prepare specifications for repairs, and to act in many other ways. The result of that was that by having these experienced men they were able to get good workmanship and the value of the money spent. He thought, further, that it would be admitted that it was very desirable that there should be a superintendent of attendance officers in a responsible position who would not be likely to be carried away by any favouritism in particular districts, and who would be able to act with that absolute impartiality which was not possible under small authorities, and be able to secure proper attendances. That being so, and the responsibility having been taken, he would like to know why it was necessary to break up this system. There was no principle involved. There had been no general demand. The ratepayers, if they wanted a scheme, could get it, as the power already existed under the Act of 1902 to submit a scheme if necessary. What would be the result of breaking that system? They would have an increase of expenditure. That was unavoidable. They would have a diminution of efficiency, which he thought was a certain result. They would set up a system of small local schools with imperfect powers and responsibilities, which would be put to great expense in the provision of offices, in the payment of salaries, and in many other ways. There was one point that occurred to him as worthy of particular attention, and that was the question of local interest. Those who had been engaged in education knew that without local interest they could not have a successful system of education, but he did not see how they were going to increase local interest by a delegation of this kind. At the present time local managers did take a local interest, and he did not think that more local interest would be taken if persons were placed as representing one district upon a board representing some ten or eleven other localities. They would get their one manager who was interested in the one school, 547 and all the other managers would be interested in other schools. He did not himself think they would increase the local interest by any delegation of that kind. There was a great deal to be urged in support of the Amendment. He would not like to rely entirely upon his own powers of conviction, but he desired to urge one or two arguments which he thought would appeal to the Lord President of the Council, who had said in another Amendment that the object of inserting "may" instead of "shall" was to consider the whole matter in a friendly spirit with the local education authority. If the word "shall" remained, the Board would have no option, but immediately to make the order on the local authority, and it was just because they knew the kind of influence which the Board of Education and its excellent officers and administrators had with the local education authority and that an authority which made difficulties was infinitely more likely to be brought about by those methods, that they preferred "may" to "shall." It was necessary to remember that the local authorities had, if not always, at any rate within very wide limits, a considerable amount of amour propre in these matters, and, dealing with facts, it seemed to him infinitely more sensible and proper, having given them these great educational powers, to approach thorn in a friendly and conciliatory spirit. He hoped very sincerely that the Government would see their way to accept his Amendment. He begged to move.
In page 12, line 23, to leave out ' shall' and insert' may.' "—(The, Earl of Dartmouth.)
hoped that 'the Government would see their way to accept the Amendment. He could only speak positively with regard to his own county of Stafford, but there were no doubt many local authorities in other counties who had devoted an immense amount of time to perfecting their educational machinery under the Bill of 1902. It seemed to him extraordinary that where the work of education was being conducted well 548 and efficiently they should revert to the less efficient and the more costly system of school boards. There appeared to be no provision in the Bill for the largo number of clerks who would eventually have to be discharged if this Act passed as it now stood, and he trusted that his noble friend would, if necessary, in the interests of economy and efficiency, press this Amendment to a division.
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
said that this was a matter which had very much exercised the county council of Lancashire. Lancashire, as the noble Lord behind him had said, had had for two years a scheme which had worked admirably—not by setting up a new authority, but by delegating part of their powers to a subordinate part of their own authority, and in that delegation they had admitted women by co-option as members of the separate part of their delegated authority. With regard to the proposal in the Bill, that seemed to him to be very unnecessary in those places where the matter had worked with such thorough satisfaction to everybody concerned, and certainly the county council of Lancashire looked with positive dismay to the breaking up of the system which had worked so well, and the setting up of another, as to which they did not know whether it would work well or not. There were one or two points in the plan proposed by the Bill which deserved the serious consideration of His Majesty's Government. In the first place they were setting up another authority where it was not wanted. They were setting up another authority which would require another election. He should have thought that they had quite elections enough. They were giving their representative body, as they called it, certain powers of expenditure without the control of the county council who would have to pay, and he should have thought it was a maxim that all economical persons would insist upon, that those who incurred expenditure should pay it themselves, and that they should not be able to pay out of another person's purse without the control of that other person. Under those circumstances why insist upon these new plans being forced upon every county when they did not want them? His noble 549 friend Lord Hatherton was perfectly right in. saying that in many counties they had schemes which worked perfectly satisfactorily, and, if so, why should they break up the whole thing which had been working now for two years at least, and start a new scheme which would involve great expenditure? It seemed to him that the proposal of the Government was unnecessary, that it would increase the expense, and certainly would not produce any better results than were obtained now, when the county councils had among themselves made these local committees which, as he said, were working so well. He trusted, therefore, that the Lord President of the Council would see his way to meet them upon this matter. It was not a matter concerning the principle of the Bill in any form or shape; it was a matter simply of detail of administration. He had placed on the Paper himself a clause which was drawn up by the county council of Lancashire, but he was not wedded to that particular form. He observed that his noble friend, Lord Belper, had an Amendment to strike out the words "representative bodies" and to insert "local education committees." That entirely met his (Viscount Cross's) point, and he trusted that when they came to discuss it a little further on the Government would see that there was no principle involved which they were bound to maintain, and that in the interests of economy, of well working, and of not disturbing those counties where schemes were now in full operation, and were working thoroughly to the satisfaction of everybody, the noble Earl would see his way at all events to meet them to that extent.
§ LORD SHUTTLEWORTH
said that he would probably not have intervened in the debate had it not been for the remarks made by his noble friend Viscount Cross, who had spoken as if the present system of delegation in Lancashire were working to the complete satisfacton of everybody. He had no doubt that the noble Viscount had obtained his information from sources connected with the county council, but perhaps he might say that he was rather more acquainted with some of the more 550 urban districts of Lancashire, where there was a very strong feeling that the administration of the Education Act was too much centred at Preston. Preston was a centre very far removed from many parts of Lancashire which used, under the other system, to have a considerable voice in the administration of education under the old system of school boards, and far from there being this general satisfaction with the extent to which the principle of delegation had been adopted by the county council of Lancashire, there was, he ventured to say, in some of these districts an exceedingly strong feeling that they would like to have a larger voice in the administration of their local affairs, and more power with respect to their schools, than would be given under such an Amendment as the noble Viscount had put upon the Paper, or even under the Amendment in the name of his noble friend Lord Belper. The noble Earl opposite, Lord Dartmouth, had said that he did not see how local interest would be increased by this clause of the Bill. But surely if they gave power of local administration to people in a locality, and if they also gave them the command of a certain amount of money, and if they further gave them power to say—If we want a better staff in the school, or anything different from what is general throughout our county, and if we are prepared to pay for it then we can have it?—that was the clause as it stood—that, he took it, would be greatly welcomed by his neighbours in the populous districts of Lancashire with which he was familiar. Therefore he ventured to give his very strong support to the clause as it stood. He thought it would be very grievously weakened and would give very great dissatisfaction in Lancashire if, instead of the clause as it stood, they were to pass the clause which the noble Viscount had placed upon the Paper, and he would be rather sorry to see it weakened in the direction suggested by Lord Belper's Amendment. As it had passed the House of Commons it would give satisfaction in the various districts of Lancashire—which really were competent to carry out educational work efficiently— by giving them the opportunity of doing that which they locally desired.
§ LORD BELPER
said that as he was responsible for a number of Amendments placed upon the Paper upon this clause by the desire of the County Councils Association, he thought that as the Amendment now before the Committee raised a very important point with regard to the clause, he ought not only to explain clearly what the position of the County Councils Association was with regard to the Amendment, but also, if he might be allowed to do so, to go shortly into what he conceived to be the policy of the clause and what would be the effect of his Amendments if they were passed. He would say at once that the question had given rise to the greatest possible interest in all the County Councils, and that there had been repeated discussions at the County Councils Association with regard to it. Not only that, but the particular Amendment of his noble friend Lord Dartmouth had not been lost sight of in the discussion on the executive of the County Councils Association, and it had been questioned whether or not it would be wise for the County Councils Association amongst their Amendments to suggest such Amendments as had been proposed by his noble friend—the substituting of "may" for "shall," in fact making delegation voluntary instead of compulsory. With regard to that, he might say that after discussion on the executive, although the education committee took a somewhat different view, it was decided without a division that it would not be wise to try and substitute "may" for "shall." He quite admitted, and agreed to the full with the whole of the arguments used by his noble friend and by Lord Hatherton in recommending this Amendment to their Lordships' notice. He gathered that if there was no other consideration to be borne in mind it would be certainly the most convenient and the easiest course for the County Councils Association to have adopted this amendment, because undoubtedly there were several counties which had not wished to make the clause compulsory, and by giving power to every county council all over England to do exactly what they liked as to delegation they would have been meeting the general view possibly even more than by moving the Amendments to which he would have to call 552 their Lordships' attention. But the County Councils Association thought that there were other considerations. They had been to some extent in communication with the Education Department with regard to the matter, particularly with regard to the withdrawal of the former clause which they considered from their point of view to be an absolutely impossible clause. When a clause had been brought forward in the House of Commons —as they understood, by the general desire of a large number of Members—they had felt that it would not perhaps be the wisest course for a public body representing the whole of the counties to put in a non possumus at the very beginning to the proposal which they made to have delegation over all the counties in England. They felt that it would perhaps be better in point of policy not to take exception to the word "shall," but rather to put into Amendments what they considered were the only conditions on which they could accept a delegation clause. That point was of the greatest possible importance to county councils. The more the question had been discussed on the County Councils Association, and the more fully he had heard in this House the opinions of noble Lords who came from all parts of England, the more fully he was convinced that it would be perfectly impossible to draw a clause which would enable every county council to set up delegation authorities of the most satisfactory and efficient character unless they gave the greatest possible latitude with regard to the constitution of those authorities; and it was because they felt that, and felt it so strongly, that they thought it desirable to put in the foreground of their proposal that if any delegation clause was to pass, the greatest possible latitude and elasticity ought to be given to county councils not only in the constitution of their committees, but in the powers which were to be delegated to the different authorities. The principal part of his Amendment dealt with that point. They had not the least wish to set up any objection to the particular manner of constituting delegated authorities set up in the Bill. There were three different modes selected. One was a body which 553 was practically a body elected ad hoc by the ratepayers. The second was a delegated authority —it might be a local government area where that wars possible or an urban council or a large parish. The third was a body to be constituted in some remarkable manner, because it might be composed of members of councils, of local government areas appointed by those councils, and other additional members to be nominated. He did not wish to say anything about the principle of those Amendments, but what the County Councils Association felt was that while that might be very desirable under certain circumstances, there were parts of most counties which world not fulfil the conditions laid down—that care should be taken in constituting bodies so as to ensure both efficiency and economy. He ventured to think, therefore, that if any general opinion of the county council was to be consulted, the only possible way of doing it was to give more elasticity than at present appeared in the provisions of the clause under consideration. There was one other point he would like to refer to which had been already touched on by several speakers who had addressed the House. The question of Lancashire had come to the front, and he was bound to say he did not feel competent to enter, nor had he the slightest intention of entering, into the contest as to whether the present scheme adopted in Lancashire was a satisfactory one for the county or not. But it was the full intention of the Amendment he intended to move—and he believed it was fully carried out by the Amendment—that such schemes as had been in force and had been satisfactory in the past should be continued, because the authority would have the power of constituting those local bodies in whatever way they thought most desirable under their schema, and therefore subject to any particular provisions in the clause which had to be made in order to guard against any body being constituted which was not acceptable to the different districts and divisions of the county, they could constitute their new authorities under this Act in the same way as the other authorities of which they approved had been constituted before. His Amendment fully intended to 554 carry that out. He knew there was a very great amount of interest taken on this point not merely in Lancashire but in many important counties, representatives of which had come to him asking him that whatever Amendments were passed in their Lordships' House should specially guard that point— counties like Essex, Chester, Stafford, and many others. He thought the schemes which had been already in force would be continued in a much more satisfactory manner if they were continued under the management which he proposed, because then they would be schemes under the present Act, and would have the additional powers given under the present Act of spending money which before had not been delegated. He was not moving his Amendments now, and therefore did not propose to go into any great detail with regard to them. But there was one part on which he would like to lay some stress, and that was that they did not wish that these delegated authorities should necessarily be uniform with regard to the powers given to them. Sub-section (3) said that—the provisions of the scheme as to the powers and duties delegated, and as to the charging of expenses, shall be uniform as respects all the delegation areas in the county.He could not help thinking that while that prevented elasticity, it would also have the effect of preventing delegation to a very large extent; because where they had an authority in which they had great confidence—where they had men in a district who had been taking a great interest in education, and had, perhaps, been useful members of the school board before—they had full confidence in giving them very much larger powers than in the case of a small authority in a country district where it would be difficult to get anybody who took an interest in education, and where, if it was necessary to constitute educational authorities, they would, at all events, like to act tentatively, and not give at once the larger powers which might be given eventually. He trusted that whatever might be the opinion of the House with regard to the question of whether they should impose compulsion, or allow the counties voluntarily to undertake delegation powers when they wished 555 it, at all events the Government would see their way to meeting what was the universal wish, he might say, of the counties as represented on the County Councils Association—that they should have a very large power in constituting those authorities. Mr. Birrell, in a speech the other day, had dwelt with some eloquence upon the necessity of trusting the education authorities and the county councils of the country. He knew that in that speech Mr. Birrell referred to other parts of the Bill to which he (Lord Belper) had no intention of making any reference at the present time; but if there was any matter with which a county council ought to be entrusted, it was the administration of their own county, as to which they must know better than Parliament what was good for them, and concerning which, even if powers were given to the Education Board, they could not carry them out half so effectively as those who had lived in the county and had taken an active part in the work of education for so many years. Mr. Birrell had used one more argument. It was this—If you are going to impose hard and stringent regulations with regard to the constitution of those bodies which the county councils do not willingly accept, depend upon it, your delegation work will move very slowly indeed; because if they are suspicious and have not confidence that their bodies as constituted will work efficiently, they will be very loth to give them any enlarged powers; and therefore, the more you trust county councils in this matter, the more smoothly, I fancy, you will find a delegation scheme is likely to work, and being able to constitute bodies in the way they desire, they will have confidence in giving them a large share of the details of work of the education of the county.Personally he had always been in favour of some system of delegation, for the reason that he thought that if they could carry out delegation consistently with ensuring efficiency and economy they would recruit a larger number of useful men from different parts of the county to assist the education committee in the work they had to do. And more than that, if they had any difficulties, and had to go to the county councils with regard to expenses or other matters of that sort, they had at their back a large number of men conversant with the way in which the 556 work was being done, they would have broadened the basis upon which the education committee stood, and they would have more confidence, and get more support in carrying out the very difficult work in which they were engaged. In conclusion, he would only say with regard to his position in reference to this Amendment that if the Government could give an assurance that they would accept the Amendments which he had to move, he would not then be able to vote in favour of "may" being inserted instead of "shall"; but, if, on the other hand, no such assurance could be given, they must protect themselves in whatever way they could, and he should then support the Motion moved by his noble friend.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said that they had had a very interesting discussion upon the Amendment raised by his noble friend behind him. It was a somewhat difficult task to decide who was right in the matter, because some noble Lords behind him, who were familiar with all the work in their own councils, to a certain extent differed between themselves as to what was delegated and what was not delegated. The speech of the noble Lord who had just sat down must have carried great weight, because he spoke on behalf of a very large and very important body, and he (the Marquess of Londonderry) found some difficulty in rising to speak after him, because he was quite without that experience himself. Nor did he rise to give his own opinion, but rather for the purpose of saying that a short time ago he had received a deputation from Yorkshire, the members of which told him that they were an important deputation inasmuch as they represented the West Riding District Councils' Association. It might save trouble if, instead of narrating what they had told him, he read out the notes which he had taken on that occasion. He might say that it was a purely private meeting. The deputation in question had told him that the District Councils of the West Riding were very dissatisfied with the Education Committee of the West Riding as regarded the action taken in the delegation 557 of education administration. Then they went on to say that at a public conference of the West Riding District Councils the following resolution was unanimously adopted (and they had assured him that it was a very large gathering absolutely unconnected with politics of any sort or kind)—That this Association is of opinion that the administration of the Education Act by the West Riding Education Committee is costly, inefficient, and irritating, and demands the delegation of greater freedom and larger powers to a properly constituted local committee.Then they went on to say further that the West Riding Education Committee set up sub-committees and invited local men to serve on them, but they said they had no powers and they could not get the best men in the district to serve. They further stated that all the powers were centred in the officials, whose acts were subsequently ratified by the county committee. Then they said that the good local men resigned, and that educational efficiency diminished as a consequence, They added that the West Riding District Councils' Association wanted compulsory delegation of reasonable powers to the smaller authorities, and that they objected to sub-section (a) on the ground that a multiplicity of local authorities was undesirable. They also urged that as many district councils had education committees to deal with higher education, the additional duties as regards elementary education might be given to them. They further said that the overlapping and waste of money caused by multiplicity of local authorities was shown on an accompanying memorandum (with which he need not trouble their Lordships) dealing with educational matters in certain parishes in the West Riding. He had merely quoted that, because he thought it was his duty to do so, having received a deputation from such an important body as the West Riding District Councils' Association. Turning to the Amendment of his noble friend, he would say that Lord Cross, representing as he did so truly the people in Lancashire, had stated that in that county an entirely different point of view was taken. To his mind it depended very much upon what was the feeling of the county council or of the local 558 authority. If, as he ventured to think, in the West Riding it was perhaps not so friendly (he did not wish to say any-thing harsh about the views of school managers and owners) as in Lancashire, then perhaps the district councils which had appealed to him were perfectly justified in the statement that they made; and if they turned again to Lancashire (they knew that the county councils there, as in many other counties, were perhaps more favourably disposed to the local authorities), then a totally different state of things occurred. He offered no opinion whatever upon it. It was a subject upon which his noble friend the Leader of the Opposition would probably speak; he had merely spoken in order to show the difficulty that must arise at the present moment owing to the totally different views held by different counties in England.
§ * LORD RIBBLESDALE
entirely agreed with the last observation which had fallen from the noble Marquess as to the extraordinary number of different opinions upon the Education Bill. He did not think anybody would dissent from that proposition. On this particular matter it was a case of quot homines tot sententiœ. He only rose for a moment or two, because ho happened to live in the West Riding, and also to be manager of a voluntary school in the West Riding. He understood the noble Marquess to say that a deputation (of whose proceedings he had given their Lordships an almost verbatim report), had waited upon him, and that one of their contentions was that under the Act of 1902 all sorts of complications had arisen, and that the complaint of the local subdivisions in the West Riding was that they had no power. He had just been conducting a correspondence as the Chairman of his board of managers for the purpose of pointing out to the West Riding County Council that the local committee in his part of the world had so much power that all the interest was taken away from the mangers. He only advanced that, not as an illuminant of this question, but merely to throw a little additional darkness on the general gloom in which noble Lords had succeeded in investing an already complicated Bill.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
My Lords, this clause is not a controversial one in the sense in which so many clauses of this Bill have been controversial, but I am not sure that it yields to any in importance, and the subject with which it deals yields to none, I think, in difficulty and complexity. That has been abundantly evident, not merely from the speech of my noble friend who has just sat down, and of the noble Marquess opposite, but also from the fact (as they have very fairly pointed out), that previous speakers entitled to give an opinion with greater authority differ widely as to the proper method of dealing with this particular question. It is known to all the Committee that in this matter we do not start with a clean slate. If we did our task would not have been nearly so difficult. But the existence of some sort of what I may call, without any disrespect, irregular delegation which has taken place under Section 17 of the Act of 1902, of course adds greatly to the difficulty of dealing with the subject as a whole. Under that section, which: as your Lordships are aware, allows the constitution of a separate education committee for any area within a county, and also permits county councils to delegate to any committee any of their powers except the raising of rates, or the borrowing of money, very various action has been taken. Some counties, such as Lancashire and three or four others I could name, have instituted very elaborate schemes of delegation, and although, as my noble friend Lord Shuttleworth pointed out, the action taken by those counties — the arrangements which they have made for their committees —have not met with universal approbation, at the same time everybody must realise that a great deal of most valuable work has been done under those committees, that a great number of people have given ungrudgingly, and most honourably, a vast amount of time and trouble to the public service, and on those grounds any representations made by those who are entitled to speak for those committees, deserves and must receive very respectful consideration indeed.
In the whole of this matter one has to bear in mind that there are two entirely 560 different schools of thought for dealing with subjects of this kind. People look at the matter from two diametrically opposite points of view. There is one class of persons who, if I may say so, worship the expert, who think that it is exceedingly important that so far as possible, education should be managed by people who are, if not experts in education, at any rate mainly and principally interested in education, and that so far as possible all the arrangements and powers which can be exercised by a county should be left to them. They are at one end of the scale. At the other end of the scale are a class of people who rather despise experts, but adore the principle of popular representation, and who consider that, speaking generally, it is safe to ignore the specialist in this matter, and that if you can leave things to elected bodies, even though they are not elected for this special purpose, even though here and there they may make mistakes and may show a lack of interest, yet, sooner or later they will learn wisdom in these particular matters and develop an interest; and that it is to the public advantage that to them, and them alone, should powers of that kind be entrusted. His Majesty's Government desire, I think, to strike a mean between those two extreme views. We cannot ignore the central fact, that where public money is to be spent, it must be spent by bodies, at any rate mainly representative. On the other hand, we are not at all disposed to ignore the value of the services of specialists, and of people who, in particular localities, are willing to give—even if not specialists in the direct sense—special attention to, and to take a special interest in, the work of education, and we are desirous that, so far as possible, their services should be utilised. The Amendment which we have before us on the Paper (although I am very glad that the discussion has taken a general line, because it is certainly a convenience to the Committee that it should have done so) is that of the noble Earl opposite, Lord Dartmouth, to strike out the word "shall" and insert the word "may." As my noble friend reminded us, it is a relief from one point of view to see rather fewer "shalls" and 561 rather more "mays" in the Bill, but on the other hand, in this particular instance we feel obliged to adhere to the more peremptory term. We object to the word "may," not so much because it would leave out counties which have made schemes which, though varying in merit, ought I think to be, spoken of as good schemes; but because it also leaves alone backward counties who have not shown what we consider to be a proper interest in this question, and who if the word "may" were inserted, would be absolved from any necessity of taking any steps at all in this direction. That fact alone to my mind condemns the word "may." It is quite possible, as I hope to show later on, that some part at any rate of the object which the noble Lord has in view in using the word "may" might be achieved in a different way, but so far as the word "may" is concerned, we cannot agree to it, because we desire that every county should be brought to a due sense of its duty in this matter, and that whatever it may have done in the past, it should in the future be obliged to produce some scheme or other for the purpose of delegating powers as defined by the section.
As regards the existing schemes—of which I certainly do not desire to speak at all deprecatingly—they do undoubtedly suffer from one point of view from the fact that these local committees have no direct power of spending money. As a matter of fact I take it (subject to anything which I may hear to the contrary from this Committee) that a great many of them do spend money, and a great deal of money, and that they are tacitly allowed to do so simply because the volume of work which comes before the education committee of the larger county councils is so great that it is not possible for them really to look into the expenditure which these committees, although they do not technically make the expenditure, yet ask to have made. That is to say, that they send up requisitions involving the spending of money, and those requisitions are passed in a great many cases practically without examination by the spending authority, the county council, If that is so, I think that cannot 562 be regarded as a very satisfactory state of things. I think it would be a great deal better if, as provided by us (I quote the words of Section 2)—Where powers and duties are delegated to a representative body under a scheme made in pursuance of this section, the county council shall charge on the area for which the representative body acts, the whole or some proportion of the expenses of carrying out the powers and duties delegated.That is to say, that these people would have distinct power of spending money, and they would have really the direct responsibility for the way in which money was spent. The noble Earl, Lord Dartmouth, spoke perhaps, as I thought, hardly fairly of the proposed clause, as setting up a' number of small school boards. It is perfectly true that under paragraph (a) of sub-section (4) an ad hoc body of the nature of a school board might be appointed if the county council desired it; but I have no reason to suppose, or to believe, that county councils, as a rule, if they desire to set up ad hoc bodies, would desire to set up particularly small ones of the nature of these school boards, as to the faults of which we are all, I think, generally agreed. The noble Earl ignored the two alternatives particularly proposed under paragraph (c) which give powers to compose a body of an entirely different kind, containing a very considerable nominated element. The noble Viscount, Lord Cross, asked "Why multiply authorities at all?" The multiplication of authorities is, as the noble Viscount is quite aware, simply due to the desire to give them some control over the power of the purse. If you are going to give your committees, or bodies, or whatever you like to call them, some power over the money spent, they must as we say, have a representative character, and consequently you must either use an existing representative body, perhaps with some addition of nominated members, or have a body elected for that purpose. My noble friend Lord Belper spoke from a somewhat different point of view from that of the noble Earl Lord Dartmouth. He, I think, evidently realises the advantage that it is to county councils to come under a clause of this form, and not to be left merely to exercise their powers under Section 17 563 of the Act of 1902. He says, I think, that the powers which they have exercised in the past (and which, as I must remind the Committee, they will still, if they wish it, be able to exercise in the future under that section of the Act of 1902) do nor give these committees precisely the status which we should desire them to have, and that bodies appointed under this clause will hold, I think, a distinctly higher position in the life of the county, and in addition, as the noble Lord pointed out, will have the further interest in the local management which is given by some responsibility in regard to public funds. I do not attempt to follow the noble Marquess opposite into the point that he raised about the West Riding, because I am not really acquainted with the circumstances under which the particular complaint was made to him, and although I was for many years a member of that county council I am so no longer, and consequently I have no special knowledge on. which to deal with the point raised by the noble Marquess. I am obliged, however, to point out to my noble friend Lord Belper, when he touches upon his Amendment, that the important Amendment which stands in his name allowing the county council practically to make its own scheme—Every scheme shall specify the constitution and, if necessary, the mode of election of the local education Committees, and the powers and duties to be delegated to them"—opens up considerable difficulties on this very same question of the limitation of money-spending powers to representative bodies. Under his plan the county council might delegate its authority to a body which might have a very large majority of members who could not in any sense be said to be representative. I conclude that under those circumstances the noble Lord would not expect or intend that those bodies should have the power of spending money which is permitted to the bodies to be appointed under the Bill as it stands. On the further question of the uniformity of the powers and duties, and the charging of expenses, to which the noble Lord objects, I think it is true, to some extent, that so far as the powers and duties are concerned, it seems, on the face 564 of it, reasonable that different powers and duties should be permitted in different areas according as those areas are more educationally advanced, more generally progressive in their view, whereas, in the case of others, it might not be wise to entrust them with those powers. But I think the noble Lord will see that you must read the words "powers and duties" with the words "charging of expenses." Duties practically means expenses, and if you are going to have a different scale of expenditure permitted in these different areas, I am afraid that you will find that you will complicate your local accounts—at least, that is undoubtedly the opinion, as I know, of a great many local people concerned with finance. You will complicate them in a most remarkable degree, and although we quite admit that in insisting upon this rather rigid uniformity we are doing something which we would rather not do, yet of the two it is a lesser evil than might arise from allowing a great deal of different expenditure in different areas under the same local authorities. The noble Lord said that if it were possible for us to hold out any hope of some modification of this clause, he would be disposed not to support the Amendment of the noble Earl Lord Dartmouth, but otherwise he might feel constrained to vote for it. It appears to me that it is possible to suggest some modification in one or two of the cases mentioned in sub-section (4); but I am obliged to ask the noble Lord whether he can suggest some modification in paragraph (c) which would make it more agreeable to him, and which in his opinion would to some extent meet the views of such counties as Lancashire, Cheshire, and others, whose views have been put forward in relation to the original scheme. If my noble friend could suggest some modification, either by supplying a somewhat larger nominated proportion (provided, of course, that the representative members had a substantial majority) or by, in some ways, modifying the words in the first line of paragraph (c), so as to enable it to be made quite clear that the members of the county council for the district should in each case have a seat on this body, we should certainly be disposed to consider favourably some Amendment of that kind, 565 But I am afraid there is no chance of our being able to accept the very wide Amendment of my noble friend, practically, as I say, allowing the county councils to specify the constitution of these committees and the powers and duties committed to them, without giving any guide in the Bill. I think it is by no means impossible to modify it by some means so that those who have hitherto given so much time to this work should not undergo the real chagrin—and, as I think, to them very real loss—of being told that their services are no longer required. That is a point which I confess appeals to me very greatly, and my impression is that if paragraph (c) were modified in some such direction as I have indicated, by very far the greater proportion of those who have hitherto served on these more or less informal committees would find themselves members of bodies composed under that sub-section. But I think if that were done it would be found that by far the greater part of the councils would agree to drop their present schemes, which noble Lords must always remember they are not obliged to do, because they can carry on their present schemes if they please. But of course we have no desire to see two schemes running concurrently— quite the contrary—and I have every hope that if that paragraph (c) were enlarged in the manner which I have endeavoured to point out, at any rate the very great majority of counties would agree to fall into line by altering their present schemes to some extent, and forming bodies which would have the increased powers which we propose to give them, and at the same time would contain most of those valuable members who, as I have said, have in the past given such good work to the objects of education.
* LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNGWORTH
thought that many of their Lordships must be in sympathy with the Amendment of his noble friend Lord Dartmouth. It would be a pity, and he was afraid a hardship, to interfere too much with county councils on this point, especially if they had already got a scheme in thoroughly good order, though perhaps not quite on the lines of this Bill, and in that way he thought there was much to be said in favour of making the power permissive instead 566 of mandatory. On the other hand, he would have some difficulty in following his noble friend into the division lobby, supposing that he chose to press his Amendment. There was the general question of overloading this Bill with Amendments which were not vital—which was, he thought, an important consideration—and there was also the fact that if it were entirely permissive some of the counties might avoid this delegation of authority altogether, which perhaps would be going rather too far. He confessed he should not quite so much mind the mandatory nature of the clause if it could be so modified as to avoid hardship. As the noble Earl in charge of the Bill had pointed out (and he threw out one or two suggestions as to the way in which the difficulty might be met), it had occurred to him (Lord Zouche) that in some ways the difficulty might be met by sub-section (6), which came a little later in the clause, and was a saving proviso, saying that where a county council had shown the education authority that there were special circumstances in their county they might make a report to the Board of Education to that effect. That, he thought, would cover the fact of their having already a scheme in operation which was giving general satisfaction. Then if the Board of Education thought that that met their view, and if it was sufficiently in accordance with the Act —though not with the exact lines of it— they might release that county from the obligation of making a scheme under this particular section. But the clause was rather hampered by a certain population limit as to which he was afraid he might have a word to say later on, and he did not propose therefore to go into it now. But he would like to urge strongly that the utmost jealousy should be exercised with regard to the powers of spending money by these small bodies. It seemed to him that that was one of the great blots upon many schemes of education, and certainly upon this one. They gave sweeping powers to small bodies who could not in every case be said to be properly representative in the true sense of the word, and who very often did not take sufficient care of what they were doing. If they were 567 allowed to incur expenditure and to send in a bill to the county council to be paid (and, as the noble Earl the President of the Council had justly remarked, such bills too often were paid without proper care being taken), he thought it would sometimes lead to the most disastrous results, because there could be no doubt that there were certain people who looked upon complicated schemes of education, where there were almost unlimited powers of spending money, rather as a means of enriching themselves, or of self-aggrandisement quite foreign to the general intention of the measure. It was always a great temptation to people of that kind, when there were schemes involving the employment of lawyers, builders, surveyors, architects, and such like, to serve their own purposes. Therefore, in such cases, the money spent would not tend to further the proper cause of education, but would simply tend to the aggrandisement of such people. That was a danger that ought to be most carefully watched and guarded against. But as to the Amendment of which they were immediately speaking, although one sympathised very much with the noble Lord, it might be a question whether it, was worth pressing to a division—always supposing that the Amendments of his noble friend Lord Belper and others were given most careful consideration in order to try and elucidate this most complicated matter.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I would venture to support the speech of my noble friend behind me. I, for one, am reluctant to vote with my noble friend the Earl of Dartmouth, who, by a stroke of the pen, makes this extremely important section permissive instead of mandatory. I feel that the more, because we have still to deal with the series of Amendments proposed by my noble friend Lord Belper. Those we shall discuss presently. And I gathered from the noble Earl, the Lord President, (because we were in fact touching upon the ground covered by Lord Belper's Amendments), that he was prepared in reference to one part of the clause before us—I mean sub-section 4, paragraph (c)— to propose himself words intended to 568 meet, to some extent at all events, the points raised by Lord Belper. I do not know whether we were right in understanding that the Lord President would himself bring up words, and, if so, we should like to know at what stage he would be prepared to do so; but in the meanwhile, I venture to suggest that my noble friend, Lord Dartmouth, might not press his Amendment to a division.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
To reply at once to the noble Marquess, I do not think I said that I would bring up Amendments myself, but that I would be prepared to consider them and to think over them and hereafter indicate what form in my view the Amendment should take.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
said that he would like to put one question which he hoped would not be considered out of order. In the last two lines of page 12, occurred the words—Without prejudice however to any power of delegation (otherwise than by scheme) under any other Act.He thought those were words the meaning of which probably very few people in the House exactly understood, but he believed that in many counties there were good schemes of delegation now in existence, and he would like to ask the Lord President of the Council whether they were to understand that those words were intended to make it plain that all existing schemes of delegation might go on side by side with the new schemes of delegation under the clauses of the Bill.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
The answer to my noble friend is a very simple one. It is perfectly true that those lines—Without prejudice however to any power of delegation (otherwise than by scheme) under any other Actapply to the powers which I mentioned just now, which exist under the Act of 1902 and to the schemes which have been made subject to those powers. Therefore, as this clause stands it would be perfectly competent for a county council to carry on its existing scheme; it would be obliged also to prepare some scheme for a representative body under the Act; but the two could be concurrent. That I think would not be 569 on the whole a very satisfactory state of things, and therefore if we are able to arrive at some kind of eirenicon which the county councils who have those schemes were able to accept, it would certainly, I think, tend to a more satisfactory method of administration than if they carried on the schemes which are at present in operation under the Act of 1902.
§ * THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH
confessed that, after what had passed, he did not anticipate very much support to his Amendment, but he was at the same time a little disappointed, "because he had hoped that the discussion would have at all events cleared the atmosphere and solved the difficulties which existed. It did not, however, appear to have done so. In withdrawing his Amendment he would like to reserve to himself the right of reviving it at a future stage if the arrangements suggested between the President of the Council and Lord Belper did not quite satisfy the objects he (Lord Dartmouth) had in view, because so far as he understood at present that arrangement did not embody at all what he wanted.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH
wished particularly to point out that the County Councils Association considered, and considered with a good deal of favour, putting in an Amendment similar to that of the noble Earl, but they felt that there was throughout the entire country some very strong feeling that the powers entrusted to the county councils were somewhat too centralised, and that some form of delegation was demanded, and that was their reason for not persevering with an Amendment similar to the one now before the Committee. If, therefore, it was withdrawn at the present moment——
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Earl, but I must point out that there is no question now before the Committee.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I may perhaps shorten the discussion by saying that there is no question that the noble Earl or anybody else has a perfect right to reopen the matter on Report if he wishes to do so. Even if we wished to prevent that being done we have no power to do so.
§ LORD BELPER moved an Amendment to omit "representative body" and to insert "local education committee." He said that this was one of the numerous Amendments which it was necessary to insert in the clause unless the Government were going to adhere strictly to every one of these bodies being representative. He had no particular affection for the words in his Amendment, but he wanted to make it clear that the Board of Education would not be precluded from entering into a scheme if the bodies were not representative bodies. Of course, this raised to some extent the whole question of the clause, as to whether the three divisions (a), (b), and (c) were to stand as in the Bill, or whether they were to be amended either in the way he proposed or in some other way. As far as they stood in the Bill they were to be representative bodies, but if they were modified in any way so as to include other bodies they would not strictly come under the denomination of representative bodies, and some such Amendment as his would be necessary. Before he spoke on the general question he would like to know how far the Government were prepared to go with regard to this particular Amendment.
In page 13, lines 1 and 2, to leave out the words 'representative body' and to insert the words 'local education committee."—(Lord Belper.)
* LORD FITZMAURICE
thought the Committee would agree that the discussion they had had upon the earlier Amendment had been one of the most interesting and important during the course of these 571 debates, and they were certainly greatly indebted to the noble Lord for the manner in which he had brought the views of the County Councils Association, with which he was so intimately connected, before the Committee. The Government could not go the whole length of his noble friend's Amendment, but they hoped to be able to go far in the direction which he desired. It was a matter of principle with the Government that these bodies must possess a preponderating representative element whether they were composed of the representatives of county councils or of parish councils. The Lord President of the Council would, no doubt, be able at a later stage to put words on the Paper showing the exact character of the proposals of the Government.
The matters that were to be delegated by the county council to the subordinate body must be and should be matters of comparative detail, and not strictly matters of what might be called high county administration. He himself had often been charged in the parts in which he lived with being over-anxious to centralised things in the county council—a charge which he had always repudiated— and it was a novel situation to find himself now charged, as a member of the Government, with a desire entirely to destroy county administration. That would be a very great disaster indeed, and he had no fear that anything of the kind would result from the clause. The duties of the county council would be so enormously increased under the Bill that the necessity of delegation would become infinitely greater; and even after the Act had been brought fully into operation the mass of county council education work would still be very great indeed. Therefore, noble Lords who were nervous that under the clause the importance of county councils would be diminished might go to bed with light hearts. There must be some financial responsibility placed on the delegation body and the delegation area. In the clause in the Bill the Government had carefully provided against the risk of the delegation body and area being able to play ducks and drakes with county money supplied irrespective of adequate control, for it was an essential part of their scheme that if a locality desired to exercise these powers they must be prepared to pay some part of the cost beyond a fixed sum. But if this finan- 572 cial responsibility was to be placed on the delegation area the body in that area must have a preponderatingly representative character. Experts and co-opted members must be in subordinate numbers, the representative element having the prerogative voice. The Government could not accept any Amendment which would violate that principle. They were anxious to maintain the authority and dignity of county councils in large and essential matters, but they must always remember that, except in the very small counties, the distances which people had to travel to the county town were very great, and that if a considerable portion of the time of those who formed the county committee and sub-committee was taken up with an enormous quantity of trifling details, they would not have the necessary time to give to the great and important and essential matters on which the efficiency of the administration and the amount of the expenditure really depended. He had in his own county seen immense agenda papers where whole pages had been taken up with proposals relating to such questions as whether a caretaker should have a salary of so many shillings a week or so many shillings plus a few pence more. Ho did not admit that the county councils had broken down under the work—they had not, but few who had not been actively concerned in this work could realise the enormous strain there had been and the sacrifice of time and labour. They wished, if possible, to relieve that immense strain. He desired to speak with the greatest respect of the proposals of Viscount Cross, both, because of his admitted authority and because his proposals had behind them the high authority of the clerk of the county council of Lancashire, Mr. Harcourt Clare. But Lancashire was in many respects a very exceptional county. There was no county in England which suffered so much from having a great number of entirely independent urban areas, or areas almost entirely independent of the county, "punched out" from its administrative surface. There were more county boroughs and partially independent urban districts and boroughs in Lancashire than in any other county in England, and a scheme such as had been suggested, under which very large and general powers would be given to the district committees in all these 573 areas, which in some cases were almost entirely cut off from one another, might work and be necessary in Lancashire, although it would not work and was not necessary in other counties. That was one of the reasons why the Government could not accept the proposed new clause standing on the Paper in the name of the noble Viscount, and he was glad the noble Viscount did not intend to press it. On this question there had been a great deal of difference of opinion among those whose point of view was the same. But the Amendments proposed by the Government on the original clause showed how anxious they had been to find a genuine solution for the question. They regarded this clause as one of the moat important in the Bill.
§ LORD BELPER
said that he could not understand why this Amendment was not accepted by the Government on the condition that words were inserted to ensure that, wherever spending power was given, the representative element should be preponderant. There would be many cases where the local committees would be given such powers as the Government contemplated, without the power of spending money. This latitude was necessary to secure efficient administration. For instance, the clause itself mentioned that the county council should charge on the area the whole or some proportion of the expenses of carrying out the powers and duties delegated, or any amount of those expenses which exceeded some specified sum or limit. If they gave a subordinate body a power to spend a specified sum they would have no independent powers of expenditure whatever. They could be given a certain sum for certain purposes, and as long as they did not exceed that sum and used it for the purposes intended there was no reason why they should be called representative bodies. He could not understand why they should be tied down to specially representative bodies. He knew that there were. Members in the other House who were anxious for the ad hoc principle of representation. The fact was they wanted to get back to the old system of school boards, although, of course, the powers given would not be as large as the powers exercised by the old school boards. He admitted that a number of the late school boards were extremely competent bodies and exercised their functions 574 admirably, but there were many eases of school boards in small country districts whose schools on being taken over were found to be the most inefficient and the most extravagant in the county. It was to avoid being forced to constitute bodies which they knew would not be efficient, and which they did not think would be able to administer the Education Act in a satisfactory manner, that they had suggested to His Majesty's Government that this latitude should be given with regard to the constitution of these bodies. He would venture to ask whether, after what he had said, the Government could not see their way to grant this latitude, if they, on their part, consented to some clause which would provide that in the case of the spending of money there should be a majority of representatives of the ratepayers on the particular body.
* LORD HARRIS
added a hope that the noble Earl the Lord President would find himself able to meet Lord Belper in this matter. As he read the Bill the clauses which the Government had themselves inserted were ample protection for the ratepayers. There was secured to the local education authorities complete control over any powers of expenditure that might be delegated to the local committees. The Lord President of the Council had referred to some county councils as not having done their duty as regards delegation, and he could not help thinking that the noble Earl had been referring to the county of Kent.
* LORD HARRIS
said that anyhow it was applicable to the county of Kent. But he did not agree that that county had not done its duty. They had the most crystallised system of centralisation there. The education authority had delegated the whole of their powers to the education committee, and everything was controlled at headquarters by that committee. He admitted that this had resulted in a good deal of grumbling in the county, and that certain people who were only too glad to do work under the old system, and wanted to continue it under the new body, had had their powers cribbed, cabined, and confined to some extent. As inevitably followed from a centralised system, there had grown up a large staff of clerks. One of the 575 results was that a great number of forms had to be filled up by schoolmasters or managers, as the case might be, and that had caused grumbling. But he was certain that the centralisation had led to a most economical system which would have beneficial effects for a long time to come. He was also equally certain that the pressure for delegation, which was very strong at first, and was gradually becoming weaker, would not have ceased, and they would have been compelled, sooner or later, to do exactly what the noble Earl wanted them to do under this Bill—delegate some of their powers; and they would have had to do so for more than one reason, not only from an anxiety to employ their friends in the district in this work, but also from the fact that the central authority would have broken down under the pressure of work that was being sent up to headquarters. As Lord Belper and the Government were so near an agreement, and as the Bill afforded ample protection for the ratepayers, he thought it should be possible to find a via media.
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
suggested that the matter might be easily arranged. Everybody agreed that if public money was to be spent, it must be spent by a representative body. They could take that as an axiom. He was quite sure that noble Lords opposite were not aware of what really did happen in the county of Lancashire. It had been rather suggested that the accounts of the local committees were not carefully examined before the money was paid. If the matter was inquired into it would be found that the real state of affairs was quite different. The greatest possible care was taken that the money was wisely expended. Why did they want a second representative body, who were to have power to spend money but would not have to find the money? They would be placing that body in a most anomalous position. He did not particularly care how the committee was constituted, but why have the trouble of another election? The county council was the representative body and responsible to the ratepayers. The county council might be secured in the superintendence of expenditure and the trouble and expense of another election might be obviated.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
The proposal of the noble Viscount who has just sat down would really amount to leaving matters where they are. He desired that the whole question of the expenditure of money should be left to the county council, and tinder those circumstances the delegation would not differ, so far as I am aware, from that which is permissible and exercised under the Act of 1902. Therefore the noble Viscount's suggestion in effect is to omit Clause 15. The noble Viscount went on to say that we had stated that county councils did not really control the minor items of expenditure. I think my noble friend Lord Fitzmaurice pointed out, and I am able to confirm what he said, that it is practically impossible for the Education Committee sitting at headquarters, to exercise what is ordinarily understood by control over the enormous series of items which are sent up to them by local committees. Control takes place in a sense owing to the fact that the accounts are looked through and are no doubt checked by the permanent officers and finally audited. In that sense there is control, but to say that this is, in a really strict sense, a control of the items of local expenditure is, I think, not to give quite an accurate description of what really occurs. My noble friend Lord Belper says he does not understand why the bodies who have the powers under sub-section (2), need necessarily be of a representative character, but I do not think he went so far as to say that unrepresentative bodies-should have the expenditure of public money. What he wants, as I take it, is for the county council to be able to say that it will not have a representative body, and therefore, it will abandon the power of delegating the expenditure of money.
§ LORD BELPER
said his point was that the county councils should have the power of constituting these bodies, and of giving them their powers, as they were able to do under the Bill as it stood, but that, in every case where they gave an independent power to spend money, the body should be a representative one, having upon it some proportion of representatives of the ratepayers.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
That, again, would practically mean that these 577 counties might stand out of this clause altogether.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
The scheme which they would propose would not be a scheme in any strict sense under the clause.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
Under the clause in one sense, but they might, as I understand, simply send in an account of what their scheme is at present, and ask to have it declared a scheme under the Act.
§ LORD BELPER
said he referred to the powers under the clause. With regard to the present schemes it was a matter which could be considered how far they should be continued, but if they were continued by his Amendment they would be under the clause, and subject to the same conditions as any other scheme under the clause.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
Except that if powers and duties were delegated to them which involved the expenditure of money they would not be a body composed as these are composed. Surely that would practically be equivalent to saying that a council need not send in any scheme at all. I do not see how that differs from allowing a county council to proceed on its present lines, and to count that as a scheme. Apparently perfect freedom is to be given to the county council to constitute the body as it pleases. It need not have any representative element on it except that enforced under the Act of 1902. What the advantage, therefore, is of bringing it under this clause, I confess I am unable to conceive. Therefore my noble friend's offer is hardly in the nature of an offer at all. The noble Lord must remember that when the schemes are sent in the Board of Education is not going to consider them on their merits as schemes. It is simply going to make up its mind whether or not they fall within the clause; and if the noble Lord's Amendment is inserted without any addition any scheme would fall within the clause.
§ LORD BELPER
said the noble Earl did not appear to understand his own 578 clause. The Board of Education had certainly to approve the scheme, and by Section 5 of Clause 15, they were not to approve of it unless they were satisfied that proper inquiries had been made before preparing the scheme, and that an opportunity had been given to persons interested in the matter for expressing their views on any scheme so prepared, and that the scheme was within the powers given by the section. It seemed to him that that was a very different thing from schemes under the old clause. Under the Bill as it stood there was to be a public inquiry as to whether the mode of constituting the body was satisfactory to the districts, and therefore they would have not only the opinion of the county council but the opinion of others interested in the district.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I was not speaking of the manner in which the scheme is prepared, but of the scheme as sent in. I am afraid we cannot meet the noble Lord, but we are prepared to say that one-third of the members of the delegated body may be nominated members. Noble Lords will see that that is really running the figure of popular representation pretty fine, because, as a matter of fact, the members of the councils and other bodies who will sit on this body will only be, so to speak, partially representative of the whole area, since each can only be said directly to represent that part of the district for which he sits which is included in the total area to be governed by the body. This proportion is as near as we can go to the verge of not making the body representative at all, and I believe it will give to a very largo number, I hope a majority, of the ladies and gentlemen who have interested themselves in education the power of continuing their work.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH
asked whether the words "members of the councils of such local government areas wholly or partly situate in the delegation area" included county councillors themselves.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
It would not include, I think, all the members of the county council whose district might form part of the area. A member of the county council who was wholly in the 579 area would possibly be included, but I do not think the words would include all the members of the county council who might impinge, so to speak, on the area.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
So far as the question of principle is concerned, I do not know that the two sides of the House differ very widely. We are, I think, all of us in favour of delegation. It is no use arguing that point; and I think most of us will admit that if this Bill becomes law it will increase the necessity for delegation. Again, so far as I was able to gather, the three canons laid down by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in regard to delegation, I, for one, am not disposed to challenge thorn. I understand His Majesty's Government consider it essential that the delegation bodies should be entrusted with matters of detail rather than with questions of high local policy. That principle is safeguarded by a section in the Bill, and with that section I do not think my noble friend Lord Belper desires to interfere.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
The second principle is that there shall be financial responsibility thrown on the delegation body and area. No one, I think, will challenge that. Then the principle upon which most stress was laid, particularly by the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council, was that in all cases where public money has to be spent the representative element should predominate. I do not think my noble friend Lord Belper objects to that principle.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
What I understand my noble friend to lay stress upon is that the clause as it stands is too rigid, and he desires that there should be more elasticity and latitude about it. The words which my noble friend desires to omit govern the whole clause, and there is no doubt that as the clause stands we shall be precluded from any delegation except to representa- 580 tive bodies pure and simple, I should have thought the remedy was a very simple one—namely, to alter the word's at the beginning of the clause in such a way as to give the latitude my noble friend desires, and then further on in the clause to insert words to cover the point that where the delegated body is spending public money, there the representative element should preponderate. I am surprised that the reasonable and businesslike proposal of my noble friend for dealing with the difficulty should not have been better received by noble Lords opposite. I gather that the proposal of the noble Earl the Lord President is merely that the proportion of nominated members under paragraph (c) of subsection (4) should be increased from one-fourth to one-third. That, I think, is important, but it does not seem to me so business-like a mode of dealing with the difficulty as that suggested by my noble friend; and I venture, even at the last moment, to appeal to the noble Earl whether he will not at any rate reserve the point and endeavour to meet my noble friend upon the lines he has himself suggested.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I wish very much on general grounds that I could meet the noble Marquess and my noble friend. The noble Marquess has forgotten, I think, that we do reserve by this Bill to county councils powers of delegation which they may have under the Act of 1902, or any other Act. The words in the clause are—Without prejudice to any power of delegation (otherwise than by scheme) under any other Act.Practically what the noble Marquess wants is to be able to continue committees of that kind, and we do not want to prevent him doing so in the Bill, but he wants to get out of having to delegate any money powers whatever. We think that our suggestion offers a reasonable security that persons who are not members of the elected bodies, but are generally interested in education, will still be able to give their services as they have given them in the past to those local committees of the representative bodies. But we can hold out no hope of allowing the county council to make a delegation scheme without making any allowance for an expenditure of money.
§ LORD BELPER
said that after the reply of the Lord President he must divide the Committee on the principle of his Amendment. He was most anxious to meet in a reasonable way any proposal that would be acceptable to the County Councils Association. He was in complete possession of the views of a large number of the members of that body representing every county council in England, and he could not undertake to make any further concession on their behalf in the direction of the noble Earl's suggestion without consulting them. The noble Earl had referred to the power of proceeding under the other Act with a scheme of
§ delegation. Did anybody seriously suggest that it would be possible to have two delegation bodies in the same area? If this clause was to be compulsory and there was to be a delegation body in every case, the other bodies would cease to exist unless they were reconstituted under this clause. He asked the Committee to divide on the Amendment now, but he hoped they might find some means later of coming to an arrangement on this point.
§ On Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause," their Lordships divided:—Contents, 31; Not-Contents, 99.583
|Crowe, E. (L. President)||Denman, L. [Teller.]||Lyveden, L.|
|Ripon, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)||Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)|
|Abingdon, E.||Farrer, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Fitzmaurice, L.||Pirrie, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.) [Teller.)||Reay, L.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Hamilton of Dalzell, L,||Sandhurst, L.|
|Haversham, L.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Althorp, V. (L. Chamberlain.)||Headley, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Hemphill, L.||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Courtney of Penwith, L.||James, L.||Weardale, L.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Romney, E||Ampthill, L.|
|Grafton, D.||Rosse, E||Avebury, L.|
|Newcastle, D.||Shaftesbury, E||Barnard, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Stanford, E||Barrymore, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry)||Belhaven and Stenton, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Waldegrave, E||Belper, L. [Teller.]|
|Hertford, M.||Wharncliffe, E||Blythswood, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Yarborough, E||Borthwick, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Braye, L.|
|Churchill, V||Brougham and Vaux, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Cobham, V||Burton, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Colville of Culross, V||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim)|
|Cathcart, E.||Cross, V.||Clifford of Chudleigh, L. [Teller.]|
|Cawdor, E.||Falkland, V.|
|Clarendon, E.||Falmouth, V.||Clinton, L.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Halifax, V.||Colchester, L.|
|Dartrey, E.||Hill, V.||Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)|
|Derby, E.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||De L' Isle and Dudley, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||De Maulay, L.|
|St. Aldwyn, V.||Deramore, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Digby, L.|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Bangor, L. Bp.||Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)|
|Halsbury, E.||Bath and Wells, L. Bp.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Lichfield, E.||Bristol, L. Bp||Harris, L.|
|Londesborough, E.||Exeter, L. Bp.||Hatherton, L.|
|Lucan, E.||London, L. Bp.||Heneage, L,|
|Morley, E||Norwich, L. Bp.||Lawrence, L.|
|Morton, E||Oxford, L. Bp.||Leith of Fyvie, L.|
|Onslow, E||St. David's, L. Bp.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough|
|Plymouth, K||Abinger, L.||Ramsay, L. (E. Dalhousie.)|
|Radnor, E||Addington, L.||Ravensworth, L.|
|Redesdale, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)||Vivian, L.|
|Sandys, L.||Stuart of Castle Stuart, L. (E. Moray.)||Waleran, L.|
|Seaton, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Sherborne, L.||Trevor, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ On Question, "That the words 'local education committee' be there inserted," resolved in the affirmative.
§ LORD BELPER moved to leave out "and" and to insert "or by," so as to make the holding of a public local inquiry optional. He said that in many cases it would possibly be quite an unnecessary expense and trouble to hold a local inquiry as the feeling of the people might have been ascertained in other ways. It was thought most desirable that the holding of the local inquiry should not be compulsory if it was clear that public opinion could he effectively ascertained by other means.
In page 12, line 30, to leave out 'and' and to insert 'or by.' "—(Lord Belper.)
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I must remind my noble friend that he laid great stress on the public inquiry as constituting the difference between merely sending in an existing scheme and having it perforce accepted by the Board of Education, and knowing that that scheme was sanctified by public consent as shown at the public inquiry. If the words "or by" are inserted it is left entirely to the option of the authority whether they will hold an inquiry or select other means of arriving at local opinion. I could not agree to the Amendment, because it would seriously modify the effect of the clause.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH
hoped the noble Earl would reconsider this point. Surely, if the schemes were published in every newspaper in the county and were well known to every one interested and no objection was raised, it was quite unnecessary to hold a public inquiry, which would be a mere matter of form, involving a great deal of needless trouble and expense. There ought to be some latitude in this matter. Where a public inquiry was necessary he was in favour of its being held.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I can show from what happened in an earlier discussion how necessary a local inquiry might 584 be. We had always been told that the whole of Lancashire was perfectly contented with the existing scheme. Viscount Cross said as much, and then my noble friend Lord Shuttleworth rose from the benches behind me and declared that parts of Lancashire with which he is acquainted are not satisfied. That is a point which would come out at a public local inquiry.
§ LORD AVEBURY
could not help feeling that the Lord President might meet Lord Belper on this point, as it did not follow that a public local inquiry would be necessary in every case.
§ LORD SHUTTLEWORTH
said he had verified the statement he made earlier in the day by referring to hon. Members representing parts of Lancashire. There was a very strong feeling in several of the urban districts of Lancashire that in this matter the county council were out of touch with local feeling, at all events, as represented by the Amendment put down on behalf of the county council, and that without local inquiries it would be impossible for the views of the localities to be ascertained.
§ LORD BELPER
admitted that in many cases the inquiry would be necessary and would be held, but he thought county councils should be trusted in the matter, and that where it was obviously not necessary they should not be required to hold an inquiry. If, however, the view of the Government was that the county councils could not be trusted he would not press his Amendment, but perhaps at a later stage a provision would, be inserted that the local inquiry should not be held unless in the opinion of the Board of Education it was necessary.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Consequential Amendments agreed to.
LORD BELPER moved to leave out sub-section (3), which is in the following terms:—
The provisions of the scheme as to the powers and duties delegated, and as to the
charging of expenses, shall be uniform as respects all the delegation areas in the county.
§ The County Councils Association, he said, had considered this matter very carefully, and had come to the conclusion that the sub-section as it stood would be extremely undesirable. It did more than any other part of the clause to keep the delegation within very narrow limits. They might have within the county a variety of differently constituted bodies, but the effect of this sub-section would be that the powers and duties delegated would have to be measured by the most incompetent authority in the county, and they would not be able to trust even those in whom they had the greatest confidence with larger powers than those conferred on very indifferent bodies. The only argument chat he had heard against the Amendment was that it would cause great confusion if these matters were not kept uniform in every district. He had taken particular trouble to inquire whether that was likely to be the case, and he was told that no doubt it would make some difference in the keeping of the accounts, but that it would be perfectly easy to carry out if a county thought it desirable. In his opinion the enforcing of uniformity would do more to kill the delegation scheme than anything else.
In page 13, lines 13 to 15, to leave out subsection (3)."—(Lord Belper.)
said the reason why the Government inserted the subsection and why, as at present advised, they thought it their duty to retain it, was that there was a necessity to avoid the risk of increasing still further what was bound to be increased very much in any case—the very great complication of county accounts. Under existing legislation county finance, which used to be a matter of comparative simplicity, had become one of great intricacy, and the Government hesitated to increase the difficulties by allowing varying charges.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said the objection to accepting the Amendment, as stated by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was clearly the objection of the Local Government auditor. In other words it was that 586 accounts did not exist for the county but that the county existed for the accounts. It was purely red-tape objection. The Local Government auditor should accommodate himself to circumstances and not ask circumstances to accommodate themselves to him.
LORD BELPER moved to leave out the provision that—
A representative body must be either—
(a) a body elected for the purpose in manner provided by the scheme by the local government or parochial electors for the delegation area, on which women shall be capable of being elected; or (b) the council of a local government area, where that is possible owing to the delegation, area being a single local government area; or (c) a body composed of members of the Councils of such local government areas wholly or partly situate in the delegation area as the scheme directs, and appointed by those Councils in such manner and proportions and subject to such conditions as may be provided by the scheme, and, if the scheme so directs, of additional members nominated in manner provided by the scheme, and not exceeding in number one-fourth of the total number of the representative body. For the purposes of this provision, in the case of a local government area being a parish not having a parish council, parochial electors shall be substituted for members of the parish council, and the parish meeting shall be substituted for the parish council,
and to insert the following new subsection—
Every scheme shall specify the constitution and, if necessary, the mode of election of the local education committees, and the powers and duties to be delegated to them.
He said it would not be necessary for him to add much in regard to this Amendment, which was obviously meant to carry out the condition laid down by the County Councils Association in consenting to this clause, that they should have full latitude to constitute those bodies in whatever way they thought best. He did not in the least mean to infer that there might not be an enormous number of cases where some such proposal as that made in the Bill would be the means suggested for securing the best and most efficient body. The authority of a local government area such as an urban council would be the proper authority to which to give the powers where they were confident that the members took an interest in education and had had experience of the management of schools. Again, there might be
districts where it would be desirable to have what was known as an ad hoc representative body elected for this special purpose; and in many scattered districts it might be very difficult indeed to get a proper authority for educational work in the way suggested in the clause as it stood. He thought it was obvious, for instance, that in the case of a scattered agricultural district with schools at some distance apart the only satisfactory way would be to obtain as many managers as possible and constitute them into a body with larger powers than managers were usually given. He appealed to the Government again in this matter to trust the education authorities and the county councils. They had been told that it was the principle of the Bill to trust the local authorities, but the clause under discussion rather suggested suspicion of every proposal the local authorities made, and the supposition that they would try and work in a way hostile to the interests of education in their county. The Government must have had experience themselves of the laborious days and nights that were spent by local education authorities in working the Education Act to the best of their ability; and did noble Lords suppose that these gentlemen, who had given up half their lives to promoting the educational interests of their county, would themselves constitute bodies which would be unsuitable and likely to be injurious to the educational system which they had done so much to build up? He hoped the Government would recognise that in this matter they were only anxious to do the best they could for the efficiency of these bodies in the different counties.
In page 13, line 18, to leave out from contiguous' to the end of line 41, and to insert as a new sub-section: 'Every scheme shall specify the constitution and, if necessary, the mode of election of the local education committees, and the powers and duties to be delegated to them.'"—(Lord Belper.)
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
Fortunately, I need not detain the Committee at any length upon this Amendment, because it is in effect the one on which we have already divided, and, therefore, it is quite unnecessary to go into the matter again. But I must point out to the Committee that the noble Lord is entirely in error if he thinks we are 588 actuated in any degree by mistrust of the county councils in making the proposals involved in this clause. We express no mistrust whatever of the general operations of county councils in relation to education, and we fully recognise the admirable manner in which they I have thrown themselves into their work and the laborious days and nights which they have spent in endeavouring to arrive at a satisfactory system of county education. But this clause deals only with the matter of delegation, upon which there evidently has been a considerable difference of opinion among different county councils in various parts of the country. We quite admit that it was the intention of the clause to make some scheme of real delegation compulsory on the county councils. The Committee apparently do not desire that that should be so; and if a county council wants to get out of proposing anything like a large scheme it will now be enabled to do so. We regret the fact; but, in view of the votes which have previously been given, we do not propose to put your Lordships to the trouble of dividing on this Amendment.
§ Consequential Amendment agreed to.
* LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNG-WORTH
rose to move to omit from subsection (6) the words "having a population according to the last census of less than sixty-five thousand."
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I do not wish to interrupt the noble Lord, but is this Amendment in order? It appears to me to be equivalent to altering the word "shall" into "may," which the Committee have already decided not to do. The effect of it would be to allow any county not to submit a scheme, whereas we have in the beginning of the clause provided that they must submit a scheme.
* LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNG-WORTH
said that if his Amendment was not in order he would say no more upon it.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
The effect of the noble Lord's Amendment would be that no county need submit a scheme, 589 and we have already decided, in subsection (1), that the council of every county shall submit a scheme. I do not know whether the fact that in this case a special report has to be made to the Board of Education will put the noble Lord in order, but I should have thought the practical effect of the Amendment would be to reverse the decision the Committee has arrived at.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
suggested that the noble Lord should compare his Amendment with the Bill as it would appear when reprinted, and, if he thought it necessary, he could move the Amendment on Report.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
pointed out that the provision in the subsection in question was to the effect that the council of a county having a population according to the last census of less than 65,000 might pass a Resolution that a scheme was not necessary in their case, having regard to the special circumstances of their county, and make a special report on the subject to the Board of Education, and then the Board of Education, if they thought fit, could exempt that council from the obligation to make a scheme under the section. The point involved in the Amendment was whether any county might do this, or whether the power was to be confined, as proposed in the clause, to a county having a population of less than 65,000. In his opinion the Amendment was quite in order.
§ VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN
hoped the noble Lord would not press the Amendment. For his part he would sooner make it compulsory on all counties than agree to the alteration suggested.
* LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNG-WORTH
submitted that according to the Bill nearly the whole of the counties in England would be precluded from availing themselves of the saving provision in this sub-section, which seemed to afford an opportunity to those counties who had a well-considered scheme already in practical working order giving general satisfaction, though possibly not exactly within the lines laid down in the Bill, to state their case to the Board of Education. He did not know whether the provision had any mysterious connec- 590 tion with Wales, since a few Welsh counties were under the population limit named. His point was that it was a great pity that this saving proviso should be, as far as England was concerned, practically a nullity on account of a technical point as to population for which it was not easy to see a reason.
In page 14, line 14, to leave out from the word 'county' to the word 'pass' in line 16.—(Lord Zouche of Haryngworth.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
The noble Lord has moved his Amendment and has described it as though the Bill remained as it was when introduced. When he says that all counties ought to be allowed to make schemes not of the character described in the Bill he forgets that owing to the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Belper that is exactly what they will be able to do. They will practically be able to prepare schemes of their own on their own lines. The noble Lord said he did not understand why counties under sixty five thousand should be allowed to stand out and why larger counties should not have the same privilege. It was simply on the ground that the smaller bodies might be able to show very easily that there was no necessity for any kind of delegation at all in their case. For instance, to organise an elaborate system of county committees in Rutland would obviously be an unwise and oven impossible thing to do. If the principle were extended to all counties, as the noble Lord desires, the Board of Education would have to go into the merits of the particular schemes, and that is exactly what the Board of Education are not prepared to do. If the noble Lord will study the whole of the clause he will see that at no point does the Board of Education express any opinion as to the advantage of any particular scheme. All they have to do is to say that the scheme carries out the clause as it stands.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I hope the noble Lord will not press his Amendment. As I understand it, this sub-section is intended to establish an exception to the general rule. The general rule is this, that all counties are held bound to prepare schemes, and the 591 object of this sub-section is to relieve certain very small counties of the obligation of preparing such schemes. The Amendment of the noble Lord would have the effect of relieving all counties of the necessity of preparing these schemes. You first set up a general rule and then propose to relieve everybody of it. That seems scarcely consistent with the intention of the clause; and it must also be borne in mind that, if all counties are relieved of this obligation, a considerable amount of extra work will be thrown on the Board of Education.
§ Amendment, by leave withdrawn.
§ Consequential Amendments agreed to.
§ THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH,
in the absence of the Marquess of Huntly, moved the insertion of a new sub-section to provide compensation to officials who would suffer direct pecuniary loss by the abolition of office or by diminution or loss of fees or salary under this Bill. He understood from his noble friend, Lord Huntly, that, with a slight alteration in wording, the Government were prepared to accept the Amendment. He thought the Committee would be of one opinion as to the justice of some compensation being provided in this case.
In page 15, line 10, after 'area' to insert as now sub-sections: (11) Section 120 of the Local Government Act, 1888, which relates to compensation to existing officers, shall apply to any officers who, by virtue of this Act or anything done in pursuance or in consequence of this Act, shall suffer direct pecuniary loss by abolition of office or by diminution or loss of fees or salary, subject as follows: (a) Any reference in that section to the county council shall include a reference to a borough or urban district council; and (b) Any expenses shall be paid out of the fund or rate out of which the expenses of a council under this Act are paid, and it any compensation is payable otherwise than by way of an annual sum, the payment of that compensation shall be a purpose for which a council may borrow for the purposes of this Act. (12) Nothing in this clause shall prevent the local education authority from delegating to school committees, as constituted by this Act, any of its powers and duties which may be delegated under Section 1 of this clause.'"—(The Earl of Dartmouth.)
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I think my noble friend rather went beyond the mark when he said that the Government were prepared to accept this Amendment with 592 some slight variation. When we first saw it we felt considerable alarm, because it everybody in the employment of a county council, possibly including a teacher, who thought that he was in any way damaged by this Act, could apply for compensation an alarming prospect was opened. But I understand that the noble Marquess really only intended that it was to be in consequence of the delegation schemes, and that, of course, considerably limits the possibility. But there are one or two considerations that I am bound to point out I would ask the noble Earl whether it is wise for him to press the Amendment. In the first place I imagine the cases would not be numerous or the amounts large. That, no doubt, might be taken as a reason for not objecting; but it certainly does show that if this Amendment is not agreed to, it is very questionable whether any hardship would be undergone, except in the rarest cases, by individual officers. Though it is possible that the delegation clause may throw some officials out of work so far as regards that particular work, I think your Lordships will agree that the taking over of the schools and matters of that kind will probably involve a considerable amount of clerical work which would probably have to be done by the very people whose delegation work might possibly be lost to them. Then the noble Earl was not accurate in saying that it was the custom to compensate officers when thrown out of work by the operation of an Act of Parliament. What has been done under the Act of 1902 and under a good many Acts has been to compensate people when the body which they serve is altogether done away with. Thus, for instance, when the school boards were abolished the officers of the school boards were compensated, but in this case no body is done away with. The point here is that there is a possibility that some particular work may be lost to particular people owing to the action of Parliament, and I am not sure that it would not be establishing a somewhat dangerous precedent to enact compensation in this particular case. I ask whether it is wise for your Lordships to insert an Amendment the object of which is simply and solely to throw an additional charge on the public funds.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said he did not propose to ask the noble 593 Earl to press the Amendment, but at the same time he thought there was much to be said on behalf of those officials who would, under the delegation scheme, be thrown out of employment. It was distinctly hard that those officials, who had rendered such good service to the cause of education in the past, should be left without any consideration. In the Act of 1902 special provision was made for the displaced officers.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
Yes, through the abolition of the body which they served. That is not a parallel case.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
agreed that it would not be justifiable for their Lordships to pass an Amendment placing an extra burden on the rates, but he thought that in the interests of the public service it would be well if the noble Earl would consider whether it was right that officials who had devoted the best years of their lives to the service of education should now be left absolutely in the cold.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Moved, "That Clause 15, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ LORD WENLOCK
called attention to a remark which had fallen from the Lord President with regard to the action of county councils in the past. He understood his noble friend to say that it was in consequence of the backwardness of certain county councils that it was found necessary to introduce the present clause, making it compulsory on them to submit schemes of delegation. He had some difficulty in reconciling the noble Earl's argument with the fact that when the Government introduced this particular clause in the first instance they gave county councils an opportunity of evading the obligation which was now placed upon them. Therefore, he could hardly think that at the time the Government prepared this measure they considered that county councils had been backward in the discharge of their duty. He greatly regretted the use by the noble Earl of this expression. It had now been settled that all county councils 594 were to prepare schemes, and he hoped that with the safeguards introduced by his noble friend, Lord Belper, they would be able to work the clause satisfactorily. But, at the same time, he wished to enter a protest against any reflection being cast upon the way in which county councils had discharged their duty in the past in preparing schemes.
§ * THE EARL OF CREWE
I regret most sincerely if the noble Lord thinks I meant to cast any aspersion on the general character of any county council, and I am quite prepared to admit, if it gives my noble friend any pleasure, that the whole question of delegation might, under the Act of 1902, be regarded rather more as a matter of opinion than as a matter of duty.
§ House resumed, and to be again in Committee to-morrow.
§ House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past Eleven' o clock till To-morrow, a quarter past Four o'clock.