§ Order of the Day read for the House being again in Committee on this Bill.
§ House in Committee (according to Order).
§ [THE EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]
§ Moved, "That Clause 1, as amended, stand part of the Bill."—(The Earl of Crewe.)
*THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said that before the Motion which had just been moved was put to their Lordships for decision he desired to say a few words upon Clause 1 as a whole. He was ready to vote for this clause, because he was in favour of the two principles which, they were told, it embodied, complete popular control, and that no religious tests should be imposed upon the teaching profession as such. Those principles he had, he thought, always supported, and he was certainly prepared to support them now. But he and many others wished it to be perfectly clear that he did so with this understanding, that the principle of complete popular control did not take away from them the obligation of making provision that different arrangements should be made, or should be capable of being made, in the case of the different classes of schools which would come under the purview of the Education Department as a whole. Different sorts of schools would have to be treated in different kinds of ways. The further principle, that no religious tests should be imposed upon members of the teaching profession as such, must be compatible, as a mere matter of common sense, with the ascertaining by somebody whether a man or woman who was going to give religious teaching was qualified for that particular work. It must be clearly understood that on these two points they had in no way tied their hands as regarded the later clauses of the Bill which they would have to consider in detail.
He had quoted the other night the speech of the Minister for Education 817 to a deputation of denominational managers, and had asked that it should be made clear, if possible, how effect would be given in the Bill to the principles that were there very clearly laid down. The President of the Council had on that occasion answered that Mr. Birrell had not meant that the denominational authorities should have the power of appointing the teacher. Nobody ever supposed he did mean that; but what they did suppose, and what pacified a great many people and led them to look more favourably on this Bill, was that something was to be done in the direction indicated by Mr. Birrell.The intention of the clause certainly is that the teachers should remain the same as they are, those who are most qualified to give the particular religious instruction which has hitherto been given in the schools.Those were Mr. Birrell's words, that the schools—should be carried on just as they are now.If that was made clear in some phrases in the Bill by a Government Amendment, well and good; if not, it devolved on them to give effect to what was a clear, righteous, and proper arrangement. Sir H. Fowler, also, in the House of Commons had given something like an under taking that on the Report stage the matter should be made clearer than it was. Popular anxieties were allayed by speeches of that kind, yet they did not find these assurances embodied in the Bill. He had spoken in sober earnest the other night when he said they anticipated that the Government would bring forward the Amendments which were foreshadowed by such speeches, but, if that did not happen, it could not be regarded as anything but right and fair that those points should be made clear in Amendments coming from elsewhere.
When they came to deal with particular schools, it would be necessary to frame words which would provide for some definite and positive teaching. He wanted to be absolutely fair in this matter, and it was in that spirit he asked that they might be given to understand more clearly than they did now how these good, sound, and wholesome principles were expected to be put in practice. They were, it is true, going to ask for 818 other things than those which had been foreshadowed in Mr. Birrell's and other speeches, but it did seem to him singularly strange that they should be accused outside if not inside the House of doing something wrecking by pressing Amendments to give, literally, effect to what the public believed was going to be done on the strength of the assurances he had read to the House. Even on this clause he found a good deal of difficulty in understanding what was the meaning of its words when applied to some subsequent parts of the Bill.
It seemed that there was a clear contradiction between Clause 1 and another portion of the Bill. The clause laid down that no school was to be regarded as a public elementary school unless it was a provided school. The Bill went on to say, in Clause 5, that there was to be another class of schools, State-aided schools, which were to be capable of receiving grants. That was a little puzzling because that class of schools would not be under the control of the local authority, and yet they were going to receive grants. He understood that difficulty was got over by saying they were not technically to be public elementary schools. But when he referred to Clause 96 of the fundamental Act of 1870, which was not repealed by this Bill, he found it clearly laid down that—No Parliamentary grant shall be paid to any elementary school which is not a public elementary school under the terms of this Act.There might be some blunder in the matter which was quite capable of explanation, but he thought they were entitled to an explanation before they passed from this clause. That might seem to be a mere technical point, but it was characteristic of the land of things which the Bill seemed to him to be full of — apparent contradictions which they found it impossible to reconcile. They had hoped that, in the interval which had elapsed between the stormy and difficult debates in the other House and now, some of those things would have been elucidated and, in the calmer atmosphere of their Lordships' House, would have been explained at the outset of their debates That had not been found possible, 819 but they must not be supposed to be doing something unreasonable or unfair if they tried by degrees to elicit those explanations they had hoped would have been forthcoming in another way.
*THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (The Earl of CREWE)
My Lords, I need not say that we have no complaint to make of the most rev. Primate for having said a few words before this clause becomes part of the Bill. I am bound to say, however, that it never occurred to us to imagine that he would necessarily take the words "public control," which, after all, do not appear in the first clause of the Bill, or the expression "tests for teachers" in exactly the same sense that we do; and if, in considering the future clauses of the Bill, the most rev. Primate decides that he puts a different construction on those words from that which we put on them, and desires to translate his opinion into action, we only have to look at the benches opposite to see that, it is clearly within his power to do so. Equally we can assure the most rev. Primate that it never would occur to us to accuse him of any moral inconsistency because, after having permitted the first clause to become part of the Bill, he desired to make certain modifications in future clauses.
Now, as regards the expressions used by my right hon. friend Mr. Birrell, which the most rev. Primate again read to the House, I have no hesitation in repeating that I stand by those expressions, and I cannot understand how anyone could have been misled by them, It is perfectly true that we do desire Clause 4 to be a genuine clause, offering genuine facilities for a certain class of schools to be carried on in the manner in which they have been carried on heretofore. Of course, the most rev. Primate can say, if he likes, that the words which we have placed in the Bill do not carry out our intention, but that is, and must be, a matter of opinion. It; is a matter for argument, and I have no doubt that when the time comes to consider that clause and the other clauses which the most rev. Primate may include 820 under the head of those alluded to, those points will be fully and fairly argued out.
I now come to the last point which the most rev. Primate raised. He said that it was a matter of some astonishment that the clause should stand in the form it does when there is a distinct apparent exception to it in the words of Clause 5, which, under certain circumstances, into which I will not now go, permit the creation of what is known as a State-aided school. The point is purely a verbal one. It is not a point of substance. It is really a drafting point. What happened in the House of Commons was this. The State-aided schools were, as noble Lords will remember, a late creation in the Bill. They were a concession to the friends of noble Lords-opposite, and therefore they did not appear in the original Bill. When it was proposed that they should be mentioned in Clauses 4 and 5 objection was, I am bound to say not unnaturally, taken to what appeared to be an exception to the principle already laid down in Clause 1. The matter was submitted to the Chairman of Committees, and he decided, on the point of order, that there was no reason why Clauses 4 and 5 containing that provision should not be inserted. He said that in the first place he was not satisfied that these schools would be public elementary schools at all, but he gave as his real reason that the exception constituted under this clause was not one of substance, and therefore was not barred. He instanced a parallel case from the Act of 1902, the effect of which is that no school can be a public elementary school which is not administered by the local education authority. If that is good enough for the Chairman of the House of Commons, I can only say that it is good enough for us, too, as at present advised. It is a purely verbal question, because noble Lords will see that it is very easy to make an addition to the first clause which would entirely meet the case; but if it is considered by the authorities of the other House that it is not necessary, we do not propose to make the addition.
*THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said it was perfectly easy to 821 understand why there was an exception in this particular matter. His point was that, as the clause now stood, the exception was in direct contradiction with the unrepealed section of the fundamental Act of 1870. At this moment the West Killing judgment had proved to them the need of being very clear as to what exactly they intended to prescribe. They had learned how possible, through inadvertence, it was to bring on something which was different from what was intended, and was it not right that in these circumstances they should ask before they passed this particular clause how they were to reconcile the apparent contradiction he had pointed out?
§ LORD OVERTOUN
said he was anxious to repudiate, with all the earnestness he could, the taunt that had been thrown at those noble Lords who voted against the Amendment last night, that they were opposed to religious instruction being given in the schools. With, many other noble Lords he yielded to none on the other side of the House in the earnest desire that the children of this country should have religion as the basis of their education. They firmly believed that that was the only solid and sure basis on which a satisfactory education could be established. What they objected to was the placing of the Amendment where it was put without the slightest explanation of what it meant. He believed that noble Lords opposite were making political capital out of this great question of religious education. He associated himself with what was said last night by his noble friend the Marquess of Northampton, that they would do evil for this country if they divided their forces, which were, on the whole, on the side of religious education, and charged each other with believing in secularism. As the clause at present stood it meant nothing, and he repudiated the taunt that was thrown across the House last night that noble Lords who voted against the Amendment were opposed to religious education.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said the noble Lord's speech was in the nature of a personal explanation as to why he voted against the 822 Amendment last night. He did not think he had ever heard so rapid a repudiation of a vote. If they wanted an assurance that they were justified in insisting upon the Amendment they had it in the speech of the noble Lord. In opposing the Amendment last night the Government were virtually allowing the children in the schools of local authorities who did not give religious instruction to be brought up as atheists. The confession of a wrong action was a generous action.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said the spirit that actuated the supporters of the Amendment was to insist upon religious education of some sort or other, he cared not what. It would be impossible for the noble Lord opposite to ask the country to vote against the House of Lords on this question. The most rev. Prelate had shown how necessary it was that there should be a second Chamber to revise this inconsistent and ill-drafted Bill, and to reconcile the speeches of various Members of the Government with the Bill. The Government had thrown over the Act of 1870. It was never intended by that Act to squeeze out the voluntary schools. In 1870 it was intended that the voluntary schools and the Board schools should work side by side for the efficiency of education, and. The religious atmosphere which the denominational schools cast over the population of the whole country was admired. Yet the first clause in this Bill proposed absolutely to abolish these schools. Therefore, if their attitude towards the Act of 1870 had changed, that change was due to the change in the attitude of the Government towards these schools. The more this Bill was examined the more it would be found necessary for their Lordships to examine every one of its details.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (The Marquess of RIPON)
My Lords, my noble friend behind me, Lord Russell, in the admirable speech which he made last night, said that it looked very much 823 as if the main object of noble Lords opposite was to lay the foundation for a political attack upon the Government in the country. I quite admit that there were some passages last night that looked in that direction, but I am so little accustomed to bring charges of that kind against my political opponents —I am always so anxious to believe what I ask them to believe of me, namely, that they are actuated by public desires and not by partisan motives—that I did not in the least, degree endorse the opinion of my noble friend. But I confess that the speech to which we have just listened is a confirmation of the speech of my noble friend. The noble Marquess who has just sat down does intend, and he has told us so frankly, to go to the country upon this question.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
You can go and make speeches in the country. You can exercise that tasteful eloquence for which you are distinguished in every part of the country. I say that that is going to the country. It is preparing for a general election, and it is a confirmation of the view which I regretted had been enunciated last night by my noble friend behind me. Beyond that, the noble Marquess made an observation to which I must ask your Lordships' permission to refer. I feel that this discussion has wandered a good deal, and if my noble friend in the Chair had the powers of the Chairman of Ways and Means in the House of Commons we should not have got into a discussion upon this question at all; but, as it has been entered upon, I must say a few words upon the reference which was made by the noble Marquess to the Act of 1870.
The noble Marquess said that we were attacking the Act of 1870, that we were destroying the Act of 1870, that we were disregarding the Act of 1870. No, my Lords, you destroyed the Act of 1870, you tore to pieces the compromise upon which it was founded. I quite admit 824 that the Act of 1870 was capable of improvement. After thirty years of existence no doubt it was capable of amendment. But you broke up that compromise, and if you find yourselves now in a position which you do not like, if the friends of denominational schools feel, as-I feel for them, that they are in a very difficult position, that difficulty and that position are due to your proceedings. If you had amended the Act of 1870, if you had adhered to the terms upon which it was founded, if you had kept off voluntary schools from the rates, you would never have been where you are to-day, and we should not have been discussing this Bill. Therefore, I cannot admit for one moment that we are destroying the Act of 1870. You cannot do such things as you did in 1902 and not have to bear the consequences. You cannot pass an Act like that of 1902 and then ask to go back to the position in which you stood before you passed it. You altered the whole position of the education question by that Act, and if you do not like the feeling of the country at the present moment, and the position in which you now stand, it is due to what was done in 1902.
THE DUKE OF NORFOLK
said that the most rev. Primate at the beginning of his speech let fall an expression which might be taken as meaning that in not opposing the present Motion they were, in effect, passing Clause 1. He desired, therefore, to repeat what he had said before, that in allowing Clause 1 to pass he and those who thought with him in no way prejudiced their right to support Amendments in matters upon which they felt most strongly. They retained a perfectly clear hand to pass, reject, modify, or improve Clause 1 at a later stage, so far as the House would allow them.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
Is the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council prepared to give me an Answer to the Question I put to him?
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
As to the point raised by the most rev. Primate with regard to the Act of 1870, I have to 825 say that if the most rev. Primate is of opinion that the provision in subsection (5) of Clause 5 is not clear as a matter of drafting I shall be able, when the time comes, to suggest to him a small verbal Amendment.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
It is not a question of opinion. The two things are contradictory. If after this interval there are contradictory things of this kind it goes far to justify the care we think necessary to bestow upon details.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I only rise for the purpose of expressing the hope that the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council will lay on the Table as soon as he can the words by means of which he proposes to cure the defect to which the most rev. Primate has pointed. And let me take this opportunity of expressing the surprise which some of us feel that no Amendments of any kind, so far as we are aware, have been put upon the Table on behalf of noble Lords opposite. It seems to us almost inconceivable that this Bill, complicated as its provisions are, riddled as some of them have been in debate, many of them not even discussed at all—it seems to us inconceivable that His Majesty's Ministers should regard the Bill as being at this moment incapable of improvement, and should not raise even a little finger for the purpose of assisting your Lordships in the task of improving it. The noble Earl, in reply to the most rev. Primate, treated this strange discrepancy between Clause 5 and the Act of 1870 as purely a verbal point; but we regard it as a point of very great significance, because we rely to some extent upon that point in order to establish a proposition upon which we shall continue to insist—I mean the proposition that Clause 1 of this Bill, broad and general as its terms are, is not to be interpreted as precluding us from discussing hereafter the means of creating what I think the noble Earl himself called in last night's debate schools of various patterns. He must, therefore, expect us from time to time to treat these points, not as merely verbal and insignificant points, but as points of great importance.
§ On Question, Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 2:—
*THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
moved to omit the words "for the purpose of continuing" in order to insert "shall, if required by the owners, continue." This, he said, was the first of a group of Amendments by which it would be made obligatory upon a local authority to take over a school if the trustees desired the transfer and the school was in itself suitable. He had no sort of wish to force the local authority to take over buildings which were structurally unsuitable. In the concluding paragraph of a subsequent Amendment he added a proviso that, if the local authority considered the school buildings to be unsuited for continued recognition, that authority might appeal to the Board of Education and the Board might release the local authority from the obligation.
What he asked for was that with an ordinary school in a suitable building it should not be in the power of a local education authority simply to decline to take the transfer. Since 1870, and long before, the State had deliberately encouraged the building of this particular class of schools, and if now this obligation were not imposed upon the authority a school upon which large expenditure and much care had been bestowed to meet the requirements of parents in the locality might, at the mere whim of a passing majority of the local authority's committee, be left derelict, to the great hardship of all concerned. He argued that a moral obligation rested upon the State to fulfil the promises virtually made again and again, and that the facilities under Clause 3 should be compulsory. If the Amendment were not made there might be many places in which the facilities provisions would become totally inoperative through the arbitrary action of the local authority.
This was a parents' question more than anything else, and it was for the liberty of the parents' choice that he was mainly contending. He wished to render impossible the hardship resulting to parents in the case he supposed. At the very 827 time when the Minister of Education was reiterating in perfect good faith that the facilities promised under Clause 3 were genuine and practically general, certain of his friends—fellow-Members—were assuring their constituents that this was a matter of local option, and such local option if fully exercised would operate to prevent these troublesome "facilities." A local authority might bring a kind of pressure of the most unfair kind to bear upon owners and managers of' local schools. They might say: "If you consent, as a matter of agreement between us, to waive any right to facilities, then we will take over your school; if you insist upon facilities, we shall decline to take it."
There were many places where there had been overbuilding of provided schools. He had referred to the statistics in the Blue-book and had found case after case where, after making the fullest allowance for the qualifications which might affect the statistical accuracy, it was clear how great would be the economical gain to the authority if it were to suppress the voluntary schools altogether. Guarding himself against appearing to quote the figures as finally accurate, he would point out how it appeared—to take two instances only out of many—that in Halifax there were 4,457 and in Portsmouth 4,830 vacant places in the provided schools, while at the same time there were only 2,490 children in the voluntary schools of Halifax and 3,729 in those of Portsmouth. The parents of these children had chosen to leave vacant the places in the provided schools and to send their children to the other schools. The local authority might be tempted in such places to inflict on these parents the hardship of depriving them of their choice on the ground that there was abundant room in the provided schools. He wished to guard against that hardship.
Amendment moved—In page 1, lines 11 and 12, to leave out the words 'for the purpose of continuing,' and insert the words 'shall, if required by the owners, continue.'"—(The, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.)
LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
regarded the proposal contained in the Amendment as an absolutely inadmissible proposal. He was quite satisfied that the figures which had been quoted by the 828 most rev. Primate were based upon average attendance and not upon the roll.
*THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
I think it is quite possible the noble Lord may be right. I do not at all press the details of the figures, but only the general evidence they afford.
LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said it was important to bear in mind how delusive figures of average attendance were as the basis of calculating vacant places. He asked the Committee to consider what was the meaning of the contention of the most rev. Primate. The Amendment would give a right to the existing managers of any voluntary school to claim transfer unless the building could be shown to be structurally unsuitable. There would not even be an absolute right of refusal if the building was structurally unsuitable, as there would be an appeal to the Board of Education. This proposal was a violation of the principle of the Act of 1902, which limited the obligation of the local authority to maintain a school to the time during which it was in structural repair. By this Amendment the school was to be maintained until the appeal to the Board of Education was determined. Moreover, as the Amendment would impose a heavy burden on the ratepayers, it was constitutionally outside the powers of the House. As was well known, the House had no power to do anything which involved a charge on the rates or taxes. Therefore, if they carried the Amendment it would be said they had done a thing which the law or the Constitution did not entitle them to do. [A NOBLE LORD: "NO."] Did anyone deny that the House was incompetent to place a charge on the rates or taxes? The Amendment would undoubtedly put a fresh burden on the ratepayers, for it would compel the local authorities to take over all the voluntary schools, subject only to the condition that the buildings were structurally suitable. He further pointed out that the Board of Education was not to be trusted in an appeal as to unsuitable buildings, they had for years recognised schools in cellars and other unsuitable and insanitary buildings. The recent surveys of voluntary schools by local authorities under 829 the Act of 1902 showed how completely the Board of Education had neglected its duty, and they could not be depended on to censure themselves by condemning the buildings they had so long tolerated. Moreover, local authorities required to deal with schools with a view to efficiency by rejecting redundant schools, by consolidating small schools, by reorganising schools with small or inconvenient departments, and by rejecting schools which if not absolutely incapable of proper occupations had small or no playgrounds, and were on the border line between schools which were absolutely unfit or merely undesirable. Obviously schools which were not needed and were costly to maintain should not be taken over for the convenience of a particular church who would thereby got their Sunday School permanently repaired at the expense of the rates.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
thought the Amendment simply carried out the views in regard to the voluntary schools which had been expressed over and over again by Ministers in the House of, Commons. For instance, Mr. Birrell had said it was the desire of the Government that as many as possible of the properly equipped voluntary schools should be Transferred to the local authorities; and that it had never entered their heads that the local authorities would refuse to take over such schools. The right hon. Gentleman, however, admitted that there might be what he called pig-headed local authorities; and it was as a safeguard against such local authorities that the Amendment was proposed.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said that as an Amendment stood in his name which dealt with the question in a manner rather different from that proposed by the most rev. Primate, perhaps their Lordships would allow him to say a few words. He had listened with very great care and attention to what had fallen from the most rev. Primate, and he quite agreed with him that it would be unfair to the voluntary schools and wrong on general grounds to allow local authorities to exercise an option as to whether they would take over particular schools.
830 He had no feeling whatever against the local authorities. So far as he was personally concerned such schools as he was interested in had been handed over to the local authority. But that was because he knew, or thought he knew, his local authority, and he felt sure that no injury would be done to the schools which were transferred to them. But as they had heard that night and as they knew well, there were local authorities and local authorities, and what it was perfectly safe to do when dealing with one local authority it was not safe to do with local authorities such as those in Wales, who made no secret whatever that if this power were given to them they would use it simply for the purpose of putting down voluntary schools. The same sort of language had been used by a very influential Member of His Majesty's Government. He was sure that noble Lords opposite had not the slightest feeling or animus against voluntary schools, but, unfortunately, they had some colleagues who had, and who had expressed very strongly a feeling hostile to voluntary schools. Therefore, in considering this clause it was very necessary to keep those facts in mind.
He quite admitted that it was very necessary—indeed it was essential—to take some precaution against what had been described as pig-headed local authorities, but he did not feel inclined to go quite so far as the most rev. Primate, whose Amendment, as Lord Stanley of Alderley had correctly stated, imposed upon the local authority the duty and necessity of taking over all voluntary schools with the single qualification that the buildings were in a satisfactory state. He did not feel himself, and he doubted whether their Lordships felt themselves, qualified to say what were the circumstances which should be considered in the matter of the transfer of a voluntary school He did not believe that Parliament had sufficient detailed knowledge to enable it to express a good opinion on a matter of detail of that kind. Therefore, the view he took was that there should be an appeal against the decision of the local authority. Where the local authority refused to take over a school, there should be an appeal to some such 831 body as the Board of Education. If their Lordships would look for a moment at Clause 5, they would see that that was precisely the appeal given in the case of extended facilities.
What he proposed was that the owners might appeal to the Board of Education, and the Board might, if they saw fit, after considering all the circumstances of the case and the wishes of the parents of the children attending the school, by order make arrangements under this Act with respect to the use of the school-house on such terms and conditions as might be contained in the order. "All the circumstances of the case" included a great many other things besides the condition of the building. It ought to be essential that the building should be in good condition when handed over; but, besides that, there wore a great many other matters which required to be considered, and which the Board of Education was singularly well qualified to decide. That was the view that presented itself to him, and he was bound to say that, while he was perfectly prepared to put any restrictions which seemed just upon the local authority, he did think it was going very far indeed for Parliament to say that the local authority must, with only one qualification, take over every voluntary school. He agreed with the main proposition of the most rev. Primate, that it was absolutely essential to have an appeal, but he thought it would be desirable to provide only an appeal, and not to lay upon the local education authority a positive injunction that it must take over all the voluntary schools provided the buildings were in sufficiently good order.
*THE EARL OF JERSEY
supported the view taken by his noble friend Lord Camperdown. They must in that House think a little bit about the local education authorities. He happened himself to be the Chairman of one. It was very undesirable that when the Bill passed the local authorities should be compelled to take over any schools which the owners chose to force upon them. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley of Alderley) had stated the main reasons why that would be bad. It would place a very heavy burden on the rates. It would prevent an authority taking care 832 that all the schools were in a fit and proper state, because in the country districts it was undoubtedly the fact that the authority would hesitate if compelled to take over a school which was not exactly needed or was not in a first-class state of repair, to incur much further expense with regard to it. He urged that their Lordships' House, while very anxious to look after the interests of the owners of the schools, ought also to bear in mind that the education authorities had to perform certain duties, including those of raising rates, and they were very reluctant to increase them. The noble Earl who had just sat down had contended that if an owner had a right of appeal to the Board of Education that should satisfy him. He (Lord Jersey) thought it would meet the ends of justice.
§ LORD BELPER
said that, as one having had experience of county management, he looked with some alarm on the rather bald proposal contained in the most rev. Primate's Amendment. It took away absolutely all discretion from the local education authority; it said that in every instance, unless they were structurally unfit, the schools must be taken over. In his view that would very much tie the hands of the local education authorities in carrying out schemes of education and in managing them efficiently and economically. There had been some discussion as to whether the £1,000,000 provided in the Bill would be anything like sufficient to cover the expenses which the local education authorities would have to incur. From some figures which he had had placed in his hands he very much doubted whether it would be a sufficient amount as the Bill stood; but, if Amendments of this character were inserted in their Lordships' House, the expense would be very largely increased, and the £1,000,000 would be materially added to. He noticed that Lord Camperdown's Amendment was of a somewhat different character. He agreed with him that there should be a power to prevent a local education authority acting unjustly. He had no fear himself of those authorities which he knew best doing anything of the sort, but, of course, they had to legislate for those which might 833 use their discretion badly. He would like to see an appeal given in order to meet cases where it could be shown that the local education authority was acting arbitrarily or unjustly. That would, be an effective safeguard to the schools which the local education authority might be inclined to deal harshly with. They should, as far as possible, protect voluntary schools from injustice, and he thought that would be best done in the way proposed by Lord Camperdown.
*THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
expressed the opinion that the most rev. Primate's Amendment would work unfortunately in many places, and he was obliged to say that if it came to a division he would be compelled to vote against it. He feared that the Amendment would unduly hamper local authorities all over the country, and would act against the interests of good administration and the progress of education. There were a good many reasons why they should hesitate to put such an Amendment upon the Statute Book. They were told that a school must be taken over unless the premises were practically insanitary, but everyone who was acquainted with the details of education—and he had had the opportunity of working both on school boards in boroughs and in his own county of Hereford—must feel that it would be a very dangerous thing to tie the hands of the local authorities to this extent.
It might be asked, for instance, was a school which was really superfluous to be taken over? Or let them suppose that all the schools in a large country town or a city were denominational. He had had experience of a city in which all the schools were of that type. Would the local authority be obliged to incur the unnecessary burden of taking on all the schools before they could open a school of their own? He would like to hear from some of the supporters of the Amendment whether a local authority would be at liberty to say: "This school is superfluous, and we will not take it over." Then, again, if the local education authority took over a school, was the obligation to continue for ever? If it was to be a perpetual obligation it tied their hands as regards all future reforms.
834 Then, again, there was another question which had been asked in this debate. Would hey agree to make the obligation reciprocal? If the local education authority was to be bound to take over all schools, would they on the other hand be willing to consent to a provision that no one should have a right to refuse to hand a school over? That question was asked in another place, but he did not think it was satisfactorily answered. These were some of the reasons why he ventured to hope that the most rev. Primate, after hearing the arguments, would feel that, whatever advantages there might be on the side of his Amendment, it had been proved by those who had had the most intimate practical acquaintance with the working of our elementary school system, to be an impossible Amendment.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN
thought it would be generally admitted that this was a question of very considerable difficulty, and it had been admitted in another place by the representative of His Majesty's Government that the clause as it stood required amendment. When the possible hardship not merely to the owners or trustees of voluntary schools, but to the parents and to the children who attended them, was pointed out, Mr. Birrell promised to bring forward a clause which should meet the difficulty by empowering the Board of Education to override unreasonable objections on the part of the local authority. They knew what had happened in the case of some local authorities, and it was not unreasonable to expect that such authorities would deliberately set themselves against taking over denominational schools, whatever the cost to the ratepayers whom they nominally represented might be. In such places as Halifax and Portsmouth, which had been referred to by the most rev. Primate as towns where the vacant places in council schools exceeded in number the children attending the denominational schools, the local authority, even if not hostile to denominational schools, would have a plausible excuse for not taking them over.
Then, again, there was the case of local authorities which might desire, for the benefit of education in their 835 districts, to amalgamate small schools, and have one large school instead of perhaps two or three existing ones. They might decline, on one or other of those grounds, to take over denominational schools offered to them by the trustees. The result would be that an intolerable hardship would be inflicted upon the parents and the children interested in those schools. The children would be compelled to attend the council schools, and they would be deprived of the benefits of the denominational teaching which they had always hitherto received. He thought it would be found to be a real hardship in many parts of the country. There was surely a prima facie case for the Amendment which had been moved by the most rev. Primate. At the same time he was bound to say that he felt the objections which had been raised on educational and economical grounds by noble Lords opposite and by more than one noble Lord who had spoken from his side of the House; but was it impossible to arrive at some solution which should get over the difficulty and enable the matter to be fairly settled? The clause proposed by the Minister for Education in another place satisfied nobody. At any rate, he had hardly proposed it before he felt himself obliged to vote against it. But, on the other hand, he (Viscount St. Aldwyn) did think that the sole restriction which the most rev. Prelate had suggested was insufficient. If it could be fairly shown that any denominational school within the district of a local authority was really not required, taking into consideration the need for denominational teaching, the local education authority should not be compelled to take it over.
He alluded to this matter with very great diffidence, because he knew he was speaking in the presence of many who were infinitely better acquainted with our educational system than he was; but he ventured to suggest that in the proviso which the most rev. Primate had placed on the Paper an Amendment should be made. He suggested that after the words "public elementary school" these words should be inserted "or is not required for the purpose of providing sufficient public school ac- 836 commodation." That, of course, if it stood by itself, would deprive the children who had hitherto attended denominational schools of the possibility of receiving the denominational teaching which they and their parents desired. To meet their case he would venture to suggest the addition of another proviso on their behalf, to this effect—Provided that, where an existing voluntary school is not continued on account of its not being required for the purpose of providing sufficient public school accommodation, the local education authority shall be bound, on the requisition of the owners of the school-house, to afford facilities for the special religious instruction hitherto given in that school in some other school accessible to the children who have attended it.If it was said that that was an attack on the Act of 1870, he would reply that he thought it was conclusively shown in the debate last night that, whatever the Act of 1902 might have done to the Act of 1870, that Act and this Bill had effectually disturbed that settlement. These small schools had been stoutly defended because they had been founded, maintained, and worked by men who believed most strongly that religious teaching was an essential part of education. If they tried to get rid of these schools by amalgamating them into larger schools without continuing, the chance of religious teaching, they would have all that strength against them in the attempt. If, on the other hand, they gave the religious facilities he had ventured to suggest, they would have that strength on their side to the ultimate benefit of the education of the country.
§ *LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH,
who mentioned that he had a similiar Amendment on the Paper, made an appeal to the Committee on behalf of the smaller Roman Catholic schools to which the Bill, unless some such Amendment as that now proposed were passed, would mean practical extinction. Allusion had been made to those local education authorities whose conduct had not been conspicuous for either impartiality or justice, and no body of the community had suffered more under their hands than had the body on whose behalf he now appealed. As to the abler, juster, and more impartial bodies, he had no complaint to make on that score, but their 837 natural tendency would be to adopt a policy which must inevitably do away with all the smaller schools. He had only to remind the Committee of what had been said by Lord Stanley of Alderley and the Bishop of Hereford to enable them to picture a strong progressive educational body adopting a policy the first act of which would be to refuse to make any arrangement with the smaller schools which would come under this clause. Roman Catholic parents had made great efforts to provide schools in which their children could get the religious education they desired, and if those schools were, swept away it would be an injustice which would be most deeply felt.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
My Lords, it is perfectly true, as the noble Viscount opposite said, that this is both an important and an exceedingly difficult matter, and those who have read the discussions which took place in the House of Commons will see that its difficulty was fully recognised there. So far as the proposed Amendment of the most rev. Primate goes, it is undoubtedly of an extreme character. It is not absolutely in terms so extreme as those which follow it in the names of Viscount Ridley and Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, because those noble Lords apparently compel the authority to take over schools whether the owners desire it or not.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
I believe that is the technical effect of the noble Viscount's Amendment. There is no doubt that the Amendment of the most rev. Primate is of a very extreme character, and perhaps I may be allowed to say that for us as we sit here in our isolation it is a relief to find that for once the big battalions opposite are not entirely of one mind on this matter. The effect of the most rev. Primate's Amendment is, in brief, that economy is not to be considered in any way in taking over these schools. I am bound to say I do agree with what fell from many noble Lords opposite, that that is a very 838 startling proposition to make to the great local authorities of this country.
I may say, in passing, that these demands to be taken over at any rate dispose of the contention which was made early in this controversy, that taking over was confiscation. I quite agree that the schools would prefer to stay as they are. That we do not dispute, but, at any rate, nobody asks to be confiscated, and I hope we may hear no more of that somewhat disagreeable term. The effect would be, if the most rev. Primate's Amendment were adopted, that a very great number of extremely inferior and unnecessary, though just structurally passable schools, would have to be taken over; and I am bound to say that the fact that in the Act of 1902 the very low limit of thirty was left, as I think most unfortunately by noble Lords opposite, as the figure below which a school could not be declared to be unnecessary, has added very greatly to the difficulty of dealing with this particular question. I am also bound to point out that last night's division to a certain extent removed one argument from the most rev. Primate. An argument which I think he would have liked to have put forward was that it was quite possible to find an area in which the local authority gave no religious instruction and refused to take over any denominational school. The vote of last night makes it impossible for noble Lords to use any argument as to the possible existence of an education area of that kind.
My noble friend Lord Camperdown has a somewhat different proposition on the Paper. If the most rev. Primate's Amendment were accepted my noble friend's new clause would obviously not be in order, but it is clear that his new clause is by no means without support in the Committee. It obtained the support of two noble Lords, the Earl of Jersey and Lord Belper, both of whom are very well known in connection with county government, and on that account it certainly deserves careful consideration. It is, of course, from the point of view of noble Lords on this side a very much less objectionable proposal than that of the most rev. Primate, but, on the other hand, we do think that it would be exceedingly difficult to carry into effect.
839 As noble Lords are aware, by Section 9 of the Act of 1902 three points have to be taken into consideration by the Board of Education before a school can be declared unnecessary. They are to have regard to the interests of secular education, to the wishes of the parents, and to the economy of the rates; and I am bound to say that from everything I can hear in the Department the duty saddled upon it by that clause has been one which it has been found almost impossible to perform. The difficulty in deciding on those different considerations is immense, and certainly our experience does not lead us to suppose that any less difficulty would be found in dealing with the matter in the manner proposed by my noble friend.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
My clause is exactly, or as nearly as possible, the proposition which the Government make in Clause 5.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
Yes; but in Clause 5 there is no assumption that a school will cease to exist because it is numerically unnecessary, and certainly we are not prepared to lay down that proposition with regard to these other schools. That is a difference which I am sure my noble friend will see is of very great importance. I am afraid I am technically out of order in discussing my noble friend's clause, but I think it is advisable to debate the matter as a whole. My noble friend's proposal is exceedingly vague. What he says is that the Board of Education—may, after considering all the circumstances of the case and the wishes of the parents of the children attending the school, by order make an arrangement under this Act with respect to the use of the schoolhouse on such terms and conditions as may be contained in the order.That is a very indefinite instruction to give to a public department in a matter of this kind. It is just one of those clauses in which Parliament evades the whole difficulty and places it upon the shoulders of the Department, and we do not think it is reasonable to ask the Department to undertake responsibility of this kind without some more definite indication of the wishes of Parliament.
I pass now from my noble friend's clause to the speech of the noble Viscount opposite, Lord St. Aldwyn.
840 I need not say that to a very great part of his speech we, on this side of the House, listened with the keenest pleasure. The noble Viscount, as it seemed to me, took an exceedingly broad view of the question. He spoke from the point of view of one who, though he desires to safeguard the interests of the Church to which he belongs and other Churches, at the same time recognises the paramount claims of our educational system. On that account we welcomed the utterances of the noble Lord. But when I come to his positive proposition the noble Viscount will see that we are placed in a position of considerable difficulty. The way, as I understand it, in which he proposes to meet the difficulty is that when a school is declared to be unnecessary a certain number of the parents of the children in the school may, if they wish it, demand facilities for denominational teaching in some other school, which, of course, in some districts may be a council school. That involves among other things the repeal of the Cowper-Temple clause, and it opens up the whole question of what I may call general facilities which I had supposed we should discuss on various Amendments relating to Clause 3.
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN
I did not intend to do that, because, of course, the facilities in question would be confined to the children who wore deprived of them by the discontinuance of the denominational school. I had not at all in my mind the idea of asking for facilities of the kind in a council school in a district where there was also a denominational school.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
But it might happen that the only school to which the children could go, on the disappearance of the denominational school, would be a council school, and, therefore, in that particular case what I have said would come into operation. I would suggest, therefore, that it would be better to deal with this clause alone, and at the same time that his proposition should come in in some form. Would it not be possible for him to postpone the consideration of the facilities to be provided for other children until we come to Clause 3, and deal with the Amendment of the most rev. Primate on its merits as 841 it stands? It appears to me that if we begin to discuss the question of the possibility of giving facilities in all schools, we shall be entering upon a very vast question, and one which I am afraid would complicate the consideration of the question of taking over the schools in a very marked degree.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, so far as the principle of the Amendment put upon the Paper by the most rev. Primate is concerned, I am disposed to go great lengths in the direction in which he desires to travel. His proposal is, as I understand it, that the local education authority is to be under an obligation to take over these voluntary schools; that that authority may make an arrangement covering the terms of the transfer, but that, if the parties should not agree, then there is to be an appeal to the Commission, which would decide, not whether the school is to be transferred or not, but what the terms of the transfer are to be. The only condition attached by the most rev. Primate is that the transferred school shall be in a proper structural state. To this extent I agree with the most rev. Primate, that it seems to me that in these cases the presumption should be in favour of the transfer of the school, and when I say that, I believe I am only repeating what has been said in effect more than once by Ministers responsible for this measure. If we give an absolutely free hand to the local education authority to refuse to take over these schools, we expose ourselves to a very great injustice being done to the owners of these voluntary schools, who may find themselves face to face with what I suppose I may call a "combination" to refuse, as a matter of policy, all but a very small number of these schools. You may have a local authority with a fondness for bricks and mortar and a desire to embark upon ambitious building operations of its own, and ready to ignore the claims of existing schools which may be less conveniently built or less conveniently situated, and I confess my apprehensions on this ground were not diminished by the remarks that fell from my noble friend Lord Stanley of Alderley, for I gathered that he personally—and he speaks with 842 great authority on this subject—is decidedly in favour of what he called a policy of amalgamation; and that with him, at all events, educational efficiency would prevail over all other considerations no matter what those might be
Another point to be remembered is that if these schools are allowed to be refused by the local education authority, away go all your facilities. It is the acceptance of the schools which is the preliminary of admission to these facilities. Those are arguments that weigh greatly with me. On the other hand, I am certainly not unmoved by what has been said by several noble Lords who addressed the Committee, to the effect that there would be some hardship in saddling the local authority indiscriminately with every school which could not be described as structurally unfit. This is the difficulty with which we are confronted, and I think we should be indebted to my noble friend behind me (Viscount St. Aldwyn) for having made an attempt to discover an exit from it.
My noble friend Lord Camperdown has also a proposal of his own directed to the same object. He, I understand, would rely upon an appeal to the Board of Education, which he would allow, unless I am mistaken, to refuse the school almost upon any grounds. There I confess I think he is going a little too far. I should not like to give the Board of Education an absolutely unrestricted discretion to decline to take over these schools. With regard to the proposal of the noble Viscount on the front bench behind me, it seemed to me to be an ingenious one, and one certainly deserving further examination by the Committee, but it is not before us at pr sent on the Paper. Most of us have only heard of it for the first time within the last few minutes, and I do not think he would himself expect or suggest that we should accept it as matters now stand. His proposal is, I understand, that the local education authority should be allowed to refuse these schools, but only upon certain conditions, one of those conditions being that some suitable arrangement shall be made in other schols for the children who find themselves excluded from the schools which they have been accustomed 843 to attend, and whose parents might greatly resent their being transferred to other schools in which no opportunities were open to them for the kind of special instruction for which they looked. That is a proposal which I for one am ready to examine with an open mind, and it may perhaps be better that we should find some means of deferring for the present a final decision upon it.
§ LORD HERRIES
said it should be clearly understood that Catholics could not be satisfied with religious facilities provided in any public school. He was quite ready to support Amendments for the provision of religious teaching in other schools, but for Catholic children there must be Catholic teachers, and a Catholic atmosphere. If local authorities were allowed to close those schools they thought unnecessary, he feared that in many districts Catholics would fare badly. There were 250 Catholic schools in areas with populations less than 5,000, and in many of those areas it was quite possible the local authorities might consider the schools unnecessary. The facilities proposed would not satisfy Catholics. Apart from religion there were other matters upon which he regarded Catholic teaching necessary, and he would prefer such teaching in reference to the history of the 16th century.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX,
in supporting the Amendment, attributed the past extravagance of educational authorities to overbuilding. This waste of rate payers' money was now being adduced as a reason for allowing the possibility of gross injustice being inflicted on denominational schools. In many towns in the West Riding there were excellent well-equipped and efficient denominational schools to which parents preferred to send their children, and unless some security were given many of these schools would certainly be closed and the children would be compelled to attend provided schools and be deprived of the religious education they valued and which their parents desired they should have. It was not inconsistent with religious liberty to have regard to definite denominational teaching. He had presented a large number of petitions from the West Riding begging that this teaching might not be 844 cast aside, and many resolutions had been passed to the same effect. This was the object of the most reverend Primate's Amendment.
§ LORD GRIMTHORPE
said he also came from the West Riding, and in that county they were extremely proud of their schools. If the West Riding were polled he was convinced that it would be found overwhelmingly in favour of the Bill now before the Committee. If this Amendment were passed in addition to the Amendment carried last night they would practically have undermined the principle of popular control on which the Bill rested. That control could only be exercised through the local authority, and their Lordships were rapidly taking away all authority from the local authority—leaving them no option at all. The Bill would have to be called a local compulsion Bill. On the previous day it was declared that the local authority, which had been trusted for thirty years, was no longer to be trusted to give religious instruction, and now it was proposed to say that, they were not to exercise their own discretion as to the taking over of schools. The Leader of the Opposition had described the local authority as a provincial bureaucracy, forgetting that he was one of those responsible for the creation of that bureaucracy. As it had been created it should be trusted, it having been acknowledged over and over again that local authorities were singularly free from political or religious bias in their local administration. As parents themselves they were not likely to disregard the interests of parents; as responsible to the ratepayers they might be trusted not to lay on the rates burdens that could be avoided. The question of the cost of education in this country was serious, and many noble Lords had said they considered it already too high, meaning apparently that the cost of secular education was too high. They did not object to the cost of denominational education. Practically, what they wanted was that all the denominational schools should be taken over. If they were bad schools, were they to be taken over unless structurally deficient simply because religious instruction was given there? If redundant were they to be 845 taken over when neither efficiency nor economy demanded it? In the single schools area, was the school to remain a denominational school? The appeal provided for in respect of extended facilities left the voluntary schools in a less helpless position than would be supposed from the speeches in support of the Amendment, and the anxiety to have the schools taken over was conclusive proof that the facilities offered were not so unsatisfactory after all.
*THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said that in raising this question he had fully expected to hear suggestions for modification of the words of his Amendment, and after the discussion and the proposition of so high an authority as Lord St. Aldwyn, he agreed that it might be well to postpone the decision of the matter till the Report stage, when the House would know what had been decided upon Clauses 3, 4, and 5, and the detailed proposition would be on the Paper. The interesting discussion had suggested several things to him which had not been before his mind in all their fulness when he placed his Amendment on the Paper. He strongly deprecated any suggestion that he was indifferent to economical considerations, but he was by no means prepared to admit that what was suggested would increase expense and that the economy was all on one side. He would not have put down his Amendment if he had believed—and he certainly did not believe—that it would interfere with educational efficiency. If the discussion stood over till the Report, as far as his Amendment was concerned, he would listen with more than respect to the suggestions from various quarters as to the way in which it might be amended in form. From Lord Crewe's reference to the debate of last night, he hoped it might be concluded that in moving their other Amendments they might consider that the vote then recorded was going to have its permanent result.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
My Lords, it seems to me that the suggestion made by the most rev. Primate—namely, that this matter should be postponed to the Report stage, is quite a reasonable 846 one. I wish distinctly to say that at this stage, or at any other stage, the Government cannot accept the Amendment proposed by the most rev. Primate, and we shall be obliged now or hereafter to offer such opposition to it as we can; but I do think that it is very desirable, before this question is further discussed and finally decided, we should have upon the Paper the proposal of the noble Viscount opposite. We cannot, of course, discuss that proposal without having the words before us and having time to consider them. Especially after the able and moderate speech of the noble Viscount it teems very desirable that the Committee should have before it the proposal he foreshadows. I give no pledge as to whether or not we could accept that Amendment, but we should give ourselves an opportunity of discussing the two proposals at the same time. Therefore, if the Committee will agree to it I will venture to suggest that for the time the most rev. Primate's Amendment should be withdrawn, on the understanding that the whole subject should be again discussed on Report.
§ VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN
said he was grateful to the Committee for the manner in which his suggestion had been received and he apologised for not having placed it on the Paper.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (The Earl of ONSLOW)
I understood it was proposed to adjourn the consideration of Clause 2 down to the words "in a similar manner."
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
What I suggested was that the most rev. Primate's Amendment should be withdrawn for the present without any prejudice to its being raised on Report and fully discussed then. I made that suggestion in order that we might have before us the proposal of the noble Viscount.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
I should like to ask whether other Amendments of a similar character affecting the clause are also withdrawn.
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
said that, so far as the Amendment which he had placed on the Paper was concerned, he would be only only too ready to meet the convenience of their Lordships, but there seemed to be one considerable difficulty in the course which had been proposed. It was this, that if the Amendment moved by the most rev. Primate and the other Amendments of a similar character on the Paper were withdrawn, those who strongly disapproved of Clause 2 as it stood would be in the position of having to vote for it when it was put. That was a position of very great difficulty, even though it might be understood that the Amendment would be taken at a future stage. They had no guarantee from His Majesty's Government that any such Amendment would be accepted. The noble Marquess the Leader of the House had suggested that it would be well to see on the Paper the Amendments put forward by Viscount St. Aldwyn, but he thought it would also be reasonable, considering that it had been admitted on all sides that the machinery of the clause did require amendment, that His Majesty's Government should indicate in what way they proposed to amend the clause. This was another instance of the great difficulty in which they were placed when the Government did not indicate in what way they proposed to draft their own Bill.
§ LORD HENEAGE
suggested that the consideration of the whole clause should be postponed until the Report stage. It would be impossible to discuss the clause, or, at any rate, to do so would be a waste of the time of the Committee until the intentions of the Government in regard to the most rev. Prelate's Amendment were known.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
pointed out that on the Report stage it would be only competent for noble Lords to speak once on an Amendment, and that would be very inconvenient. He thought the difficulty would be met by the postponement of the clause until Monday, by which time the Government could put their Amendment on the Paper.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
I hope that your Lordships will not lose sight of the suggestion originally made by my noble 848 friend, that this particular point in Clause 2 should stand over until the Report stage. I confess I think it would be most unfortunate if Clause 2 stood over altogether. It is an extremely intricate and important clause. This is only one point of many on which Amendments are to be moved, and if we are to postpone the whole clause until Report and discuss it under the limitations mentioned by my noble friend opposite I quite agree that we may find ourselves in a position of some difficulty. The noble Viscount (Viscount Ridley) seemed to think it would be a painful thing for him to agree to this clause being inserted in the Bill if this matter stood over. I should be anxious to spare the feelings of the noble Viscount in every way, but I should have thought it was quite possible for him to withdraw from the House when that painful operation took place. Surely it is purely a matter of sentiment. It is quite understood that the whole of this question is going to be discussed again. If, therefore, the postponement could only have relation to the first nine lines of the clause I think it would meet the case. It seems unreasonable, for instance, to ask the Bishop of Wakefield, who has an Amendment on an entirely different subject in this clause, to postpone it for an indefinite period.
THE LORD BISHOP OF WAKEFIELD
said he was very anxious at this stage to raise the question dealt with in his Amendment, and it would be very inconvenient to him if it were postponed.
§ VISCOUNT GOSCHEN
failed to see how it would be possible to discuss the facilities proposed to be given to voluntary schools under Clauses 3 and 4 without knowing what were to be the conditions attached to the taking over of those schools by the local authority. Therefore, he thought their Lordships would be greatly hampered in the discussion on Clauses 3 and 4 if the suggestion that had been thrown out were adopted.
§ *LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH
said he found himself in a difficult position, for the reasons stated by Lord Goschen. He did not see how they were to frame future Amendments unless 849 they knew whether this clause was to be compulsory or not.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
The proposition which I ventured to make was for the withdrawal of the Amendment proposed by the most rev. Primate at the present time with a view to it being brought forward at a subsequent period. But as there appears to be considerable objection to that proposal, and as there is no doubt the objection taken by my noble friend Viscount Goschen is an important objection, I think that, although we are dealing with the most rev. Primate's Amendment at a great disadvantage without having the proposals of the noble Viscount opposite before us on the Paper, there is no alternative but to take a division on the present Amendment.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
It is, I think, quite clear that the postponement of the whole clause, or even the first part of it, would have very inconvenient results, as it is a clause upon which most of the subsequent clauses in the Bill turn. The omission of the first part would be as objectionable as the omission of the whole clause, because it is in the first part of the clause that the most pregnant passages occur. My suggestion is that we should graft on to the Amendment of the most rev. Primate the first limb of the Amendment proposed by the noble Viscount behind me. The words are not on the Paper, but they are of an extremely simple kind, and will be intelligible to all of your Lordships. In that case the most rev. Primate's proviso would run thus—Provided that if the local education authority consider that the schoolhouse of any existing voluntary school is on account of its structural condition not suited for continued recognition as a public elementary school, or is not required for the purpose of providing sufficient public school accommodation.That would leave open the question of the subsidiary arrangements which were proposed by the noble Viscount in the remaining part of his Amendment.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
said he was perfectly ready to agree to the insertion of these words in his Amendment, subject to the 850 condition that they might require revision on the Report stage.
THE DUKE OF NORFOLK
We at this end of the House have not heard the suggestion of the noble Marquess.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
I think I may venture to say, without contradiction, that the position in which we on this side are placed by the proposed Amendment is a difficult one; and I think noble Lords opposite will candidly agree that it would be impossible for us, even if we were more favourably disposed towards the words of the noble Viscount than we are, to accept this Amendment offhand. I am afraid, therefore, that if the Committee divide upon the Amendment we shall be compelled to oppose it.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said that noble Lords on the Opposition side of the House were in quite as difficult a position as the noble Earl who had just sat down. So far as he had been able to hear the proposed Amendment to the most rev. Primate's Amendment, he thought it would make things no better. In the circumstances he considered it would be better for the Committee to adjourn for two days, so that the exact proposal before the Committee could be placed on the Paper.
said that no one near him had heard the words suggested by Viscount St. Aldwyn. Why should not the matter be postponed until to-morrow, and the proposed Amendment be in the meantime printed and circulated? He begged to move the adjournment of the House.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
hoped the noble Lord would not persist in that Motion. At the same time, he thought it would be unfortunate if the Committee were to divide forthwith on the Amendment, with which the most rev. Prelate himself confessed he was not now so enamoured as he had been before its discussion. What harm would occur if the suggestion of the most rev. Prelate to withdraw his Amendment were agreed to, and if the other Amendments which hung upon it were also withdrawn, on 851 the distinct understanding that the whole question was open for discussion at a subsequent stage?
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
My noble friend opposite must have forgotten that that was the proposal which we made and withdrew on, as we thought, the exceedingly forcible representation of the noble Viscount opposite (Lord Goschen) that to take that course would seriously hamper him and the Committee in the discussion of the next clause. I am bound to say I was greatly impressed by what the noble Viscount said, and in the circumstances I see nothing for it but to take the decision of the Committee.
THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
The question is to leave out the words, "for the purpose of continuing." [Cries of "No."]
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Cawdor, E.||Romney, E.|
|York, L. Abp.||Clarendon, E.||Rosse, E.|
|Darnley, E.||Saint Germans, E.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Dartrey, E.||Scarborough, E.|
|Bedford, D.||Denbigh, E.||Shaftesbury, E.|
|Devonshire, D.||Devon, E.||Shrewsbury, E.|
|Leeds, D.||Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Stamford, E.|
|Newcastle, D.||Stanhope, E.|
|Portland, D.||Drogheda, E.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)|
|Richmond and Gordon, D.||Eldon, E.||Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]|
|Rutland, D.||Feversham, E.||Westmeath, E.|
|Somerset, D.||Gainsborough, E.||Westmoreland, E.|
|Wellington, D.||Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Wicklow, E.|
|Guildford, E.||Winchelsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Abergavenny, M.||Halsbury, E.||Yarborough, E.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Hardwicke, E.|
|Bath, M.||Hare wood, E.||Churchill, V. [Teller.]|
|Bute, M.||Huntingdon, E.||Colville of Culross, V.|
|Camden, M.||Hchester, E.||Falkland, V.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Jersey, E.||Goschen, V.|
|Hertford, M.||Kilmorey, E.||Halifax, V.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Lichfield, E.||Hill, V.|
|Linlithgow, M.||Lindsey, E.||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)|
|Salisbury, M.||Londesborough, E.|
|Winchester, M.||Lucan, E.||Iveagh, V.|
|Zetland, M.||Malmesbury, E.||Knutsford, V.|
|Mar and Kellie, E.||Llandaff, V.|
|Abingdon, E.||Mayo, E.||Portman, V.|
|Albemarle, E.||Morley, E.||Ridley, V.|
|Amherst, E.||Morton, E.||St. Aldwyn, V.|
|Bandon, E.||Mount Edgcumbe, E.|
|Bathurst, E.||Northesk, E.||Bangor, L. Bp.|
|Brownlow, E.||Onslow, E.||Bath and Wells, L. Bp.|
|Cadogan, E.||Pembroke and Montgomery, E.||Birmingham, L. Bp.|
|Cairns, E.||Plymouth, E.||Chichester, L. Bp.|
|Camperdown, E.||Powis, E.||Durham, L. Bp.|
|Cathcart, E.||Radnor, E.||Exeter, L. Bp.|
I moved that the House do now adjourn, but I am not sure that that is the best form, which would be to report progress.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
I believe that in the House of Commons if a Motion that the House adjourn is carried in the middle of a Bill that disposes of the Bill.
§ Moved, "That the House be now-resumed. "—(Lord Harris.)
§ On Question,
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 215; Not Contents, 58.853
|Lincoln, L. Bp.||Crawshaw, L.||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|London, L. Bp.||Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)||Methuen, L.|
|Oxford, L. Bp.||De Freyne, L.||Middleton, L.|
|Peterborough, L. Bp,||De L'Isle and Dudley, L.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)|
|St. Albans, L. Bp.||de Ros, L.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Salisbury, L. Bp.||Deramore, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Wakefield, L. Bp. Winchester, L. Bp.||Desborough, L.||Mostyn, L.|
|Digby, L.||Newton, L.|
|Douglas, L. (E. Home.)||North, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Dunleath, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Addington, L.||Ebury, L.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Alington, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Ampthill, L.||Estcourt, L.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Armstrong, L.||Faber, L.||Rathmore, L.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)||Ravensworth, L.|
|Ashcombe, L.||Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)||Redesdale, L.|
|Atkinson, L.||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)||Robertson, L.|
|Avebury, L.||Forester, L.||Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)|
|Barnard, L.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)||Rothschild, L.|
|Barrymore, L.||Gormanston, L. (V. Gormanston.)||Saltoun, L.|
|Basing, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Grey do Ruthyn, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Belper, L.||Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)||Scarsdale, L.|
|Biddulph, L.||Harlech, L.||Seaton, L.|
|Blythswood, L.||Harris, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Bolton, L.||Heneage, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Braye, L.||Herries, L.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde).|
|Burton, L.||Hothfield, L.||Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)|
|Calthorpe, L.||Hylton, L.||Stalbridge, L.|
|Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.)||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)||Stanmore, L.|
|Cheylesmore, L.||Kenyon, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Kesteven, L.|
|Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)||Tennyson, L.|
|Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)||Knaresborough, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Lawrence, L.||Trevor, L.|
|Clonbrock, L.||Leigh, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Colchester, L.||Leith of Fyvie, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Masham L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
§ House resumed accordingly, and to be again in Committee to-morrow.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
My Lords, as there is no business before the House, it now becomes my duty to move 854 the adjournment, but, in doing so, I cannot help making a few comments upon the course which your Lordships have been pleased to take in this matter. Personally, I am very glad that your Lordships are going to adjourn, because 855 a little rest for an old man is a great advantage.
I can perfectly understand how it came about that noble Lords on the front Opposition bench so unexpectedly accepted the Motion for the adjournment, because I think it will be very convenient to them to have a little further time to consider the course they are going to take. The Amendment of the most rev. Prelate has been most seriously assaulted, not from this side of the House but from the other side, in regard to questions of economy and local government. That is no doubt a very unfortunate thing for the supporters of the most rev. Primate. In these circumstances I can quite understand that they may like a little more time to consider the matter. At the same time, I readily admit that the Amendment suggested by the noble Viscount opposite (Lord St. Aldwyn) did place us in a new position, though I venture to think that the course which was suggested from this side would have enabled the House to get without difficulty out of that position if it had not been for the fact that there was held to be a difficulty in proceeding with the other parts of the Bill until that Amendment had been disposed of.
I can only venture to say that I hope this is not going to be taken as a precedent. It was very curious to see the noble Lords on the front Opposition Bench hand up to my noble friend Lord Onslow, who was then in the Chair, the Amendment which they proposed; and as that Amendment was half put from the Chair I think it a little questionable whether it was in order for anybody after that to submit another Motion. My noble friend the Leader of the Opposition gave us no rep son to suppose that he was going to support the Motion for adjournment. He never said why he thought the House ought to adjourn, but he proceeded to vote for it. I do not know, in a longish Parliamentary experience, an exact parallel to this proceeding, and I hope I may respectfully ask that it shall not be repeated. I also venture to say that, if it should become the practice of the House that, whenever noble Lords are in any little difficulty, they move the adjournment, I can by no means be responsible for the length of the present session.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I am really at a loss to understand the grounds of the noble Marquess's indignation. In the circumstances the acceptance of the proposal of my noble friend seems to me natural and obvious. We had a very difficult matter before the Committee, and upon both sides of the House it was felt that the question required further consideration. It is quite true I made a suggestion which would have involved putting before your Lordships part of the Amendment of the noble Viscount Lord St. Aldwyn, but that proposal did not find favour, and, I am bound to say, for what seemed to me to be sufficient reasons. The words had not been upon the Paper, and were consequently not in the possession of the Committee, and in these circumstances it was suggested that, instead of sitting here from nine till eleven this evening we should meet at the usual hour to-morrow, and in the meantime consider the arguments that had been used and endeavour to find an exit from the position of difficulty that had arisen. The circumstances were unusual, and I cannot see that what has been done is inconsistent with the dignity and self-respect of the House, or why the noble Marquess should think that he and his friends have been in any way ill-used.
§ House adjourned at Eight o'clock till To-morrow, a quarter past Four o'clock.