HL Deb 07 December 1908 vol 198 cc5-37


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the Bill which I have the honour of introducing into your Lordships' House to-day has been spoken of and treated during its passage through another place as a non-contentious measure, and I think it is no exaggeration to say that its provisions are such as must appeal to your Lordships. I will, therefore, endeavour to state, as briefly as possible, the principal objects and provisions of the Bill.

There is no change made in the constitution of the existing authorities for education in Scotland, but there are various administrative reforms instituted with a view to causing the scheme of education to run more smoothly. For instance, extended powers, and in some cases new powers, are given to school boards, such as the means of dealing more expeditiously and more efficiently with defaulting parents, and also the provision whereby school boards may name two or more dates during the year for the beginning and ending of their classes, the object being to put an end to the continual depletion of the upper classes of schools which takes place owing to the fact that every child leaves immediately on attaining the age of fourteen. Then there are provisions for crippled and defective children. There is the provision whereby school boards are enabled to convey children from outlying parts of the area in vans to the school, and even permitting them to lodge the children during the week, always providing that the cost of lodging shall not exceed the cost which they would have incurred by conveying the children from their homes. There is also instituted a system of attendance certificates, by which it is hoped that one of the most acute problems which school boards have to face will be met—namely, the systematic ways in which tinkers and vagrants refuse to send their children to school.

These provisions, so far as they go, are perhaps of not such great importance as those dealing with the medical inspection and feeding of children. In future under the Bill county committees will draw up a scheme for the medical inspection of children, and where boards choose to approve the scheme half the cost will be borne. At the same time voluntary schools must, where they have not their own medical inspection, permit the inspector appointed by the board to come in and inspect. With regard to the feeding of children, there is a difference between the English Act and the system as laid down under the present Bill. Under the English Act the school boards provide food in the first instance, and where it is not paid for on the spot they have the power to recover the cost from the parents by the ordinary civil process. Under the present Bill, however, not only is the feeding of children dealt with, but where it is necessary also the clothing and cleaning of children. As in the English Act, the first cost of this is borne by the board, which then has the power to summon any parent and ask for an explanation why the child is in a neglected condition. If the parent is not able to give a satisfactory explanation, then the board has the power to prosecute under the head of cruelty to children, and, if the prosecution is upheld, the Court can make an order for maintenance in the future. If, however, the explanation given by the parent is satisfactory, and it is clearly proved that the condition of the children is due either to poverty or to ill-health, then the board has the power to continue to feed the children for such period as it may think fit. The board has also power to incur expense, apart from the actual provision of food, for providing meals, the object of this being to legalise a practice which is already fairly common in rural districts, and which is extremely laudable—the practice of providing during the winter months hot meals for the children.

I now pass to the question of continuation classes. In future it will be the duty of every school board to make suitable provision for continuation classes for all who may desire it; that is to say, there is compulsion on the board to provide these classes, although, of course, there is no compulsion upon the children to attend them, for the country is not yet ripe for such a provision. At the same time, the Bill does take a cautious step in this direction, for it provides that local authorities may, if they think fit, make bye-laws for compulsory attendance of children at continuation schools between the ages of fourteen and seventeen. Closely allied with this is the question of exemption. Under the existing law an exemption is allowed between the ages of twelve and fourteen, but the board is enabled to impose certain conditions of exemption. For instance, a child who is exempted during the summer months may have a condition imposed that it shall attend school during the winter months or at evening classes. The Bill extends the age up to which these conditions can be made from fourteen to sixteen. There is no doubt as to the probable advantage of exemption of this kind in cases of children who, though physically well advanced, have not reached the same standard of mental development, and also there is no doubt that this provision of extending the age to sixteen will induce boards to consider more favourably the question of exemption. The ultimate result as to education will be equally good, and at the same time there is every prospect of inculcating in children at an early age a love of the country.

It is important that the distinction should be very clearly realised between the optional clause by which authorities are entitled to make attendance compulsory at continuation classes by a bye-law, and those provisions which are made in each individual case merely as conditions of exemption. The compulsory attendance at continuation schools has been in vogue in many German states for upwards of a quarter of a century, and it has been found to be of the greatest benefit there, not only by the authorities, but also, I believe, by the working classes. It is looked upon as a means of ensuring that the original outlay expended upon a child's education shall not be thrown away owing to the fact that the child at the age of fourteen suddenly gives up receiving any instruction at all. There is also another point. Whereas a child up to the age of fourteen has been under very strict discipline, in many cases it is extremely deleterious to the character of the child to be suddenly released from all supervision and thrown upon its own resources, as is often the case. In fact, many people regard this as a most potent factor in the growth of hooliganism in our larger cities. There seems, therefore, to be no reason why, in those places in Scotland where public opinion is sufficiently ripe, the localities should not be permitted to try the experiment which has been tried in other countries, and has met with great success. The power is, of course, very carefully guarded against any possible abuse. In fact, the question is rather, whether sufficient encouragement has been given to local bodies to adopt this provision of the Bill. I may also mention that it will in future be the duty of every school board, either by itself or conjointly with others, to maintain an agency for obtaining and distributing information with regard to employment, which it is hoped may do something to check the somewhat disastrous condition which at present obtains of children constantly falling into casual employment which gives no reasonable hope of a practical career in the future.

I pass to the question of pensions for teachers. This is, of necessity, somewhat complex, for we have to deal with several generations of teachers, not only with those who have completed their career or are about to complete it, but with those who are about to take up this career. Dealing in the first place with the former case, school boards are allowed to grant retiring allowances, and wherever they choose to do this, encouragement, and even pecuniary assistance, will be given to them. For the second class—that is to say, teachers who are about to take up the profession or who have just entered the profession—it is proposed to establish a superannuation fund, which will be derived from three sources. A portion will be contributed by the teachers themselves out of their salary, a portion will be contributed by the managers of the schools, and a portion will be contributed from the district fund. It is hoped that from these three sources sufficient money will be obtained to place the whole superannuation scheme upon a thoroughly sound financial basis.

As regards actual distribution, this, of course, must depend upon actuarial calculation. A scheme will eventually be laid before Parliament dealing with this matter; but there is one point laid down in the Bill, namely, that a teacher who shall leave the school for any reason, except for wilful misconduct, before he has attained the age at which he is entitled to a pension, shall receive back any contribution he has made to the superannuation fund, and this is also extended to the heirs and executors of a teacher who shall die prematurely. This clause was approved unanimously in another place. At the same time, it would be idle to disguise the fact that the increased benefits under the clause necessarily represent an increased cost; but, of course, a portion of this cost is borne by the teachers themselves by their contributions to the fund. And there is another point of view which I think is worthy of consideration. At present the State expends a very large amount of money by means of maintenance and subsidies for inducing young persons to take up the career of a teacher. It therefore appears that anything which would make the teaching profession more attractive would eventually tend to induce more people to take it up of their own accord, and therefore would reduce this outlay on the part of the State. It was with the object of providing additional attractions to the teaching profession that the clause with regard to the tenure of a teacher was inserted. This clause, while it still retains for the board the absolute power of dismissal of a teacher which the board at present has, at the same time allows any teacher who considers himself aggrieved to appeal to the Department, who, if they think fit, may ask the board to reconsider their decision, and in the event of the latter declining to do so, may, should it in their opinion be necessary or advisable or just, cause the board to pay the teacher a sum not exceeding one year's salary.

I should now like to say a word about the financial provisions in the Bill. Although these provisions may, perhaps, appear somewhat elaborate and intricate at first sight, the principle underlying them is an extremely simple one. In the first place, all moneys other than Treasury Grants under the Code will be pooled in one fund. This is an obvious advantage. This fund, which will be called the Education (Scotland) Fund, being formed, there will be a series of first charges upon the fund. These will be objects which may properly be called of a national description, such as assistance to the Universities where they make out a case, or to central technical institutions, or the contribution to the pension fund which I have already mentioned. When these first charges have been satisfied, the remainder of the general fund will be distributed among various districts of Scotland, which are, roughly speaking, the thirty-three counties and the six largest urban school board areas. It is in the distribution of the money among these districts that a novel principle has been introduced. Up to now, the money has always been distributed according to the population, and, in some cases, according to valuation; but it is proposed under the Bill that the money shall be distributed having regard to two things—first, the relative cost of education per head, and secondly, the relative valuation per head in the district. This principle is merely following the recommendations of the Minority Report of the Royal Commission on Local Taxation, which was signed by no less an authority than the noble Lord opposite, Lord Balfour of Burleigh. In a word, given the same expenditure, the lower valuation per head the more will be given per head of the population.

The clause laying down this principle has purposely been made somewhat elastic in order to permit, if necessary, various schemes being framed. The actual scheme which is adopted will be laid before both Houses of Parliament, and, of course, due regard will be had to any representations which may be made by bodies interested. But in drawing up the scheme it is essential that there should be no undue dislocation of the status quo. The scheme in order to be satisfactory must satisfy two conditions—first, no authority must receive less than it does at present; and, secondly, the scheme must command something like general consent. Subject to these conditions the scheme will follow the principle I have mentioned. The money now being distributed among the districts, we have also a series of first charges, as we did in the case of the general fund—that is to say, for objects which concern the district as a whole and not any portion of the district. The most important of these, I need hardly say, is secondary education; others are bursaries, and the provisions for crippled and defective children. With one exception, that of secondary education, the scale of these charges will be determined, subject to the approval of the Department, by the county committees, who will be composed of representatives of the various school boards of the district and a certain number of representatives from the county council. The secondary schools are dealt with expressly in the Bill. The remainder of the district fund, after these first charges have been paid, will then be distributed among the various school board areas in the district. Thus we have the representatives of the board, who will act as a check upon reckless expenditure on first charges with regard to the district fund, and we have the county committee who will perform the same function with regard to the general fund. In a word, higher education is made a first charge, and is not left to the initiation of bodies who are not immediately interested in it. At the same time, those bodies who are interested in the residue of the money after the first charges have been satisfied will have a power of criticism which should prove fully effective.

There are only one or two other points I should like to mention. One is that provision is made in the Bill for a very much fuller, and, it is hoped, more adequate, audit of accounts, and in this connection there is a new power given. Where a school board shall have spent money illegally it is within the power of the Department to represent the fact to the school board. This expenditure will be allowed for the first year, but should the school board still persist in carrying on the illegal expenditure, then the Department will have the power of applying to the Court for a surcharge. There are certain provisions also dealing with endowed institutions, the object of which really is to enable struggling endowed institutions to be brought easily within the fold of the public system, and also to simplify and unify the arrangements with regard to bursaries so as to prevent any overlapping. These are the only very important provisions in the Bill, and they have all been drawn up as the result of many years' experience. The Bill is an honest and businesslike attempt to meet the requirements which have been shown to have arisen during those years; and in view of the tact that in Scotland there are not the same questions of high politics with regard to education which exist in England, I think we may confidently hope that this Bill will serve to maintain and even to advance the position of Scotland as a pioneer in the field of national education. I, therefore, ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(Lord Herschell.)


My Lords, I think your Lordships will expect me to say a few words in regard to this Bill. First, I may say with absolute truth—and I shall carry the whole of the House with me—that we are greatly indebted to the noble Lord who has moved the Second Reading of the Bill for the extremely clear and lucid explanation he has given of its main provisions. Anyone who followed his speech must have seen that he took the greatest possible pains to make clear the somewhat intricate provisions, especially as regards finance. I think we may congratulate ourselves that, at any rate upon its main lines, there is nothing really controversial in this Bill. It settles a considerable number of matters which have been a great deal discussed in Scotland, and the solution of which, as I believe this Bill will solve them, will be welcomed, I think I may say, with enthusiasm on the part of a great many who have taken considerable interest in educational problems.

There are, in my opinion, two rather grave blots on the Bill which I will merely indicate now, but on which I shall say something before I sit down. I think it is a great pity that this opportunity has not been taken for enlarging the areas of educational administration, and I am sorry that in the Bill as it comes to this House the cumulative vote is preserved. The explanation given by the noble Lord of the finance of the Bill renders it unnecessary for me to say much in regard to that subject; but I do not know whether your Lordships realise that under Clause 15 of the Bill—the clause which pools and collects the finance which is distributed in Clauses 16 and 17—there is a sum of something like £500,000 a year being disposed of. If my estimate is correct, under subsection (1) of Clause 15 there will be about £40,000 to accrue to the fund. Under subsection (2) the whole of the residue grant, about £60,000, which has hitherto been partly distributed in relief of rates but with a strong hint that it should be given for technical education, will now be devoted entirely to educational purposes. Under subsection (3) the fixed grant from probate, which first came into force in 1892, amounting to about £60,000, is put into the pool. By subsection (4) the sum applied to secondary education since 1892, about £45,000, is also included; and under subsection (5), as I understand it, the grant which was given to make Scotland equal to England in regard to the agricultural rates grant, about £38,000 or £40,000, is also included. In subsection (6) there is at least £250,000 in what is known as the general aid grant. Unless I am wrong, there is at least £500,000 a year dealt with in these funds.

With regard to distribution, I say frankly that since the Government have resolved not to enlarge the areas for education, they have, in their distribution of this fund, done their best to make up for what I regard as the greatest blot on the Bill. I venture respectfully to express my entire approval of the method of distribution of the main part of this fund. Hitherto some of these funds have been distributed according to valuation, others according to population, and others more or less at the discretion of the Department. To distribute large sums according to valuation has this grave defect, that it gives more to those that have and less to those that have not. On the other hand, if you distribute according to population alone, you neglect the interests of the sparsely populated districts—namely, those which have the greatest difficulty in providing secondary education. The method taken in this Bill, which the noble Lord was good enough to say was largely borrowed from our Report on Local Taxation, seems to me to get rid of all these difficulties, because it takes into account the three factors—the population, the valuation, and the normal cost of providing the services. That the Government have now succeeded in solving a difficult problem may be proved from this, that many as have been the communications I have received since this Bill came to your Lordships' House, not one of them has challenged the method of distribution of the money proposed in this clause. Although probably your Lordships could not largely amend that clause in this House, the Government have retained the control of Parliament over the distribution of the money, because no scheme will be effective until it has lain for a reasonable period on the Tables of both Houses of Parliament, and each House will have the opportunity of objecting to it.

In Clause 16 there are, as the noble Lord has said, a few first charges on the fund. They are most of them charges in existence at the present time, but, as I understand, there are two new ones. There is for one the provision of teachers' superannuation, and another for what is called national educational expenditure. I do not quite understand all that may be included under that head, but Parliamentary control is thoroughly preserved and, therefore, I shall not myself object to the terms of that particular provision. Clause 17, as I have said, distributes the money in the best possible way if you have resolved not to enlarge the areas for educational administration. The first three subsections in that clause, as I understand, make provision for aid for higher grade schools, and there is a careful provision to make sure that the aid will go where it is most required. The fourth subsection deals with endowed schools, and it is one of the gratifying features of this Bill that those schools which are not under public authority, but still under more or less private management, with certain public representation, will, according to their needs, participate in this money.

The next is a point on which I do one think the noble Lord touched. There is liberal provision to county committees to give bursaries in those districts where they are most required. That is one of the most valuable provisions of the Bill, because, although there are more bursaries in some parts of Scotland than are perhaps needed, there are other parts in which the supply is not adequate to the needs. There is also a provision with respect to medical inspection of children; and subsections (7) and (8) of Clause 17 enable county committees to provide for what are called itinerant teachers. Capital expenditure may be assisted out of this Parliamentary fund when the local authority cannot afford to incur it; and, as the noble Lord has told us, the superannuation of teachers is to be upon a better basis for the future than it has been in the past. A certain modified appeal is given to teachers in case of dismissal. It is not an absolute power, as it ought not to be, for the education authority to force the continued employment of a teacher, but it gives the Scottish Education Department a certain locus standi for mediation, and for seeing that capricious dismissals are not unduly resorted to. Those things were mostly mentioned by the noble Lord, and I think they will have the general support of your Lordships' House when the Bill gets into Committee.

But there are some things which seem to me to require explanation. I shall not go at length into them at the moment, because they are more points for Committee than for Second Reading but as I understand the Committee stage is not to be long put off, it would perhaps, be convenient that attention should be directed to them on the present occasion. The noble Lord occupied some part of his speech in explaining the clause which has to do with the new provisions for continuation schools. That is one of the matters which seem to me to require a good deal of explanation. The objects which the noble Lord and those who promote the Bill have in view will, I think, meet with your Lordships' warmest commendation. Their desire is to prevent the waste which arises when a boy or girl leaves school too soon and does not profit by the education, received. The noble Lord looks forward, through the means of continuation classes, to finding a remedy for what he described as the hooliganism which prevails in the streets of some of our large towns. But I suggest that these clauses will require careful examination.

At the present time a school board in Scotland may excuse any child from attendance at school from the age of twelve if the child has passed a certain educational standard, and they may or may not attach conditions that up to the age of fourteen the child shall continue at evening classes. That is extended in this Bill to the age of sixteen. I venture to suggest that that is not the right way to deal with this particular matter. I do not think you can bind a child at the age of twelve for four years in advance to continue attending evening schools. It seems to me too long a period. But the other clause seems to me almost more serious. The school age ends at fourteen, and probably that is quite as late as it ought to end; but the third subsection proposes to give every school board—there are 972 of them in Scotland—power to order young people to go on attending evening classes up to the age of seventeen, and those concerned may have to go some two miles in the evening to these schools. Your Lordships will realise that in the country districts many young people go into farm service and many girls go into domestic service before they are seventeen years of age, and it seems to me that to give a practically uncontrolled power to all the school boards in Scotland to make this rather drastic provision requires careful examination. I do not, however, pronounce absolutely against it at the present time; all I say is that it seems to me to require very careful examination and consideration at a subsequent stage.

Clause 8 of the Bill also seems to me to require some consideration. It greatly adds to the power of the school boards in regard to those who are defaulting in their attendance. At the present time a summons has to be taken out, and the Court adjudicates as to whether a child is to be ordered to attend a school compulsorily or not. In the clause as now altered it is proposed to give the school board power of its own motion to order attendance, and only to give an appeal to a Court of law if the individual is dissatisfied. And I think that some of the provisions in regard to those bursary funds which are to be handed over to county committees are very drastic and almost unjust. I know that in some cases these funds amount to several hundreds of pounds. They have been reformed within the last twenty-five years. Representatives of public authorities have been put on these trusts, and it seems to me a little hard that those authorities should be now entirely deprived of their administration, and the funds handed over to the county committees. I do not think there is sufficient guarantee, as I read the Bill, that those districts which, either by their own liberality or by the advantage of pious founders, have a large number of bursaries, will retain anything like a corresponding advantage in the future to that which they enjoy at the present time. This, however, is a matter for Committee, but I mention it as a point on which I have received a good many representations and one well worthy of consideration.

Then I cannot share the admiration which the noble Lord expressed for the form of the audit clauses. As the Bill was introduced, the audit clauses were to my mind very satisfactory. They were a copy of the clauses which existed under the Local Government Act for Scotland. They gave any dissatisfied ratepayer power to call the attention of the auditor to anything he thought wrong; the auditor could then report to the authority—in this case to the Scottish Education Department—and the Department had power to surcharge. Now the clause is so changed that all the ratepayer can do is to call the attention of the auditor, and, if he chooses, of a Court to the illegal expenditure. There is a most extraordinary provision in the clause, and, as I read it, no matter how grave the malversation, no matter how deliberate the wrong expenditure, there is no power, on the first occasion of it, to call the local authority to account. I understand that a dog which is supposed to be dangerous is always allowed a first bite before it can be destroyed or before its owner can be made to indemnify the person who is bitten. That may be a reasonable provision for establishing whether the dog is dangerous or not; but it seems to me to be carrying it rather too far to say, in the case of the local authority, that no matter how gross their malversation may be, they are to get off on the plea that it is their first effort. Supposing a school board is convicted of having done something wrong and a new election takes place, I should like to know whether the new board will be allowed another first bite, or will the discredit attaching to the improper action of the first board be counted against that parish for all time to come? I shall certainly make an effort to have the audit clauses restored to the condition in which they stood when the Government introduced the Bill.

The first blot on the Bill which I most regret is that the Government have not made up their minds to enlarge the educational areas in Scotland. Your Lordships, of course, know that the area for educational administration in Scotland is the parish; in England it has been changed to the county and the larger county boroughs. I quite agree that, having regard to all the circumstances, it would probably be impossible, in the present state of public opinion, to make the county the area for Scotland. But, on the other hand, I think it can hardly be denied that, when you come to areas, the parish is much too small for the purposes of secondary education. I believe that is practically universally felt in Scotland. You have to choose between two difficulties—taking away the complete parish control over public elementary education from the parochial authority and to some extent merging it in a larger area, or running the danger of being crippled for secondary education. I think the latter is the larger of the two dangers. It is hopeless, I believe, to make the change at this time, but I record as my own opinion that a great opportunity has been lost, and that it would have been very much better to have enlarged the areas. There are 972 school boards in Scotland; 647 of them have only five members, and 262 have only seven members, showing that their population must be very small. It is absolutely impossible that in small areas of this kind you can ever have a thoroughly efficient system of secondary education, and unless they are amalgamated for all purposes, unless they are rated together, unless they are accustomed to sit together for administrative purposes, you will never get that cohesion, that unity of interest, and that conjoint character for the education of the whole district which you can get if you join them. I hold to the opinion which I and my successor in office embodied, that some larger area than the parish is necessary. I believe that in the main the combination which is known as the district committee would in most counties have worked with great success. I frankly say that I think it would be impossible for this House to attempt to make the alteration at this stage. If we did so we should in all probability imperil the Bill, which I do not desire to do. But I do record my opinion, for what it is worth and to save my own consistency, that the Government have in this particular matter lost a great opportunity of which, with a little more courage, they might have taken advantoge.

The other matter which I regret is the continuance of the cumulative vote in school board elections. As the Bill was introduced, or at any rate, in some of its stages, the Government had a clause which did away with that system of voting which is generally discredited in Scotland. It has been done away with in England, and I think that it is not too late to remedy that defect even now. Personally I would like to preserve the rights of minorities and to obtain the exact reflex of opinion in the constituencies by introducing the system of the single transferable vote. It would be a simple Amendment and would, I believe, meet with approval from the majority in Scotland. This matter has never been discussed in the other House of Parliament. By a series of unfortunate events the clause which did away with the cumulative vote was not reached in the other House. The Bill was discussed in Grand Committee and there was a good deal of cross-voting, which I am not in a position to analyse because the reports of what goes on in those Committees are not easily understood by those who were not present. But what happened on the Report stage was this, that the clause was not reached until some five or ten minutes before the time when that stage of the Bill had to be finished. I make no sort of charge of breach of faith against the Government. They were entirely the victims of circumstances, and were not responsible. But when it is the fact that the present system of cumulative voting is thoroughly discredited in Scotland and most people are anxious to see it done away with, it seems to me unfortunate if neither House of Parliament is given an opportunity of considering the matter on its merits. I shall not go further into it at the present time. In this morning's newspapers there is an illustration of how the system which I advocate worked, and out of 21,690 voting papers returned, there were only eighteen papers spoiled. For a first attempt that seems to me an extremely creditable result. I altogether deny that the people of Scotland are less intelligent in such matters than the people of England, and I believe they will be able to grasp the difficulties, such as they are, of this system with the greatest ease. I intend to put down an Amendment on the subject, not in any controversial spirit, but in order that the question may be discussed fairly and on its merits. I have studied the Bill with great care and welcome it cordially, for I believe that it will do great good to Scottish education; and nothing I have said has been intended in any way to embarrass the Government, in carrying it to a successful conclusion.


My Lords, like the noble Lord who has just sat down, I cordially welcome this Bill, and I know that in Scotland there would be general disappointment if the Bill were not carried. I desire to say a few words in the first place, upon what my noble friend has described as one of the blots on the Bill—namely, the absence of any provision for expanding the area. There is undoubtedly a strong feeling that the school board area is too limited, especially in respect of secondary education. But as regards primary education I do not think that the disadvantages are so great as they have been often described. The remedy which the Bill gives of combining school board areas is at all events a remedy which can to a certain extent obviate the difficulties where they are felt, but the advantage of a small school board area is that it gives parents in small parishes a direct interest in the parish school as their school. That is in accordance with the historical development of education in Scotland, and it is an advantage which I would not willingly forego.

What my noble friend said with regard to the cumulative vote was, I think, rather strong. I believe there is in many quarters in Scotland a desire that it I should be abolished, but as the matter will come before your Lordships when the Bill is in Committee, through the Amendment which my noble friend has intimated his intention of moving, I do not wish to enter into detail upon it now. Whatever is done, I trust that guarantees will be given for the representation of minorities on the school boards. It is extremely important that all sections of the community should be represented. I approve of the power given in the Bill to divide a school board district into electoral divisions, and I also approve of Clauses 7 and 8 [Provisions as to parents' obligation and school attendance, and power for school board to pronounce attendance order] of the Bill. With regard to rural schools, I consider it of the utmost importance to give encouragement to technical training, by which I understand cookery, laundry work, dairying, dressmaking, and gardening for girls over twelve years of age—a practical knowledge of these subjects will be of incalculable value in the homes—and agriculture, horticulture, woodwork, cookery, and dairying for boys.

Let me mention what is done at the Ednam School in Roxburghshire. This is the time-table:—Monday, boys and girls, dairying; Tuesday, boys and girls, cookery; Wednesday, boys gardening, girls dressmaking; Thursday, boys and girls, dairying; Friday, boys woodwork, girls gardening. During the winter months dairying is discontinued, laundry-work being taken by the girls and some other subject by the boys. Samples of the work done at this school were shown at the Franco-British Exhibition. That the ordinary work of the school was not neglected, but kept up to a high standard, is s[...]own by the fact that 15 per cent. of the scholars have passed the qualifying examination, 5 per cent. above what His Majesty's inspectors consider "excellent." Great credit, I think, is due to Mr. and Mrs. Macdonald, the teachers of the school, for the admirable organisation of the school. In a competition for butter-making in Edinburgh the first prize was obtained by four pupils of this school aged thirteen, and the school obtained a silver cup; this being a competition in which professional dairymaids competed.

The provision in the Bill for continuation classes is, in my opinion, a most valuable reform. One of the causes of unemployment is undoubtedly the fact that pupils who leave the primary school are emancipated and left without guidance. The Bill makes compulsion optional. I admit that it would have been difficult to apply compulsion generally, especially in the rural districts, because at present you have not at your disposal a sufficient supply of the special kind of teachers required to make these continuation classes attractive. If they are to meet the varying needs of different districts the provisions must be elastic in respect to the curriculum of continuation classes I wish to urge on the Department to give every encouragement to the special training of teachers for these classes.

I wish to call attention to an experiment which was made at Arden-connel in November, 1907, to establish for young farmers what in Denmark is called a people's high school. I believe the experiment was very successful, and I should like to see it repeated. The influence of these schools in Denmark with regard to moral, intellectual, and physical culture has been remarkable. In Glasgow a joint committee was instituted for co-ordination of the work of continuation classes in the neighbourhood and the work of the West of Scotland Technical College, and the result has been most satisfactory. The certificates given to those pupils who have attended the continuation classes are accepted for entrance to the well-organised evening classes of the technical college, which provides efficient teachers for the continuation classes. Besides the continuation classes, the Bill contains a provision in Clause 3, subsection (5), to which no attention has yet been called, but which I consider of the highest importance, namely, the power given to the school board to maintain or combine with other bodies to maintain any agency for collecting and distributing information as to employments open to children on leaving school. I trust that very great use will be made of this provision. I believe this may be made an instrument of inestimable value in arresting the process of deterioration which is inevitable if, on leaving school children are not given the proper training required in the case of skilled labour. In London the Apprenticeship and Skilled Employment Association last year placed 512 children in various recognised trades, either as apprentices or learners.

The next link in the general chain of education in Scotland is the higher grade school. The higher grade school is a very important institution, the education given there is of a general character, and it is only on leaving the higher grade school that a more special course of instruction may be entered upon scientific and technical or commercial or on more general lines. The Bill, as the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading in such a lucid manner pointed out, provides for secondary education, and I trust that liberal grants will be made to secondary and intermediate schools. Formerly the higher subjects were taught in elementary schools. This system had to be abandoned because the demands as regards primary education were more exacting and the conditions of entrance to the Universities were raised. This involves the duty of making the secondary schools efficient and accessible. The Bill provides for this through bursaries, hostels, and payment for scholars not belonging to the district in which the secondary school is situated, and I welcome these provisions. One of the results of the Bill should be an increase of the salaries of teachers in secondary schools in order to obtain the services of thoroughly competent teachers, and I trust that the Department will give some attention to this matter. Secondary schools in which classics are taught, as well as those giving an education of a more scientific and modern character, are essential to the progress of education.

The leaving certificates for groups of studies and their optional character are, I take it, intended to raise the standard of education in secondary and intermediate schools. This cannot be achieved unless the staff of those schools is carefully selected and adequately remunerated. I am sure that the Department keeps this in view, and is aware that Scotland desires to have an abundant supply of secondary and intermediate schools, which are certainly as important as, if not more important than, the Universities and central schools, which are dependent on a supply of students having had an efficient preliminary training in those schools. In order that the policy of the Department with regard to leaving certificates may reach its ultimate goal, it is very desirable that the University courses should be the sequel of the studies which have led up to the leaving certificate. I do not wish in any way to cripple the autonomy of the Scottish Universities, but I advocate a thorough understanding between the Department and the Universities with regard to this very important point. I was very glad to see, in the last very interesting Report on Secondary Schools issued by the Department and edited by Mr. Struthers, that the supply of higher grade and secondary schools may now be considered almost complete.

My noble friend, Lord Herschell, has given a very clear explanation of the provision in the Bill for better conditions of superannuation for teachers, and I trust that this may lead to more men being attracted to the teaching profession. There is an abundant supply of female candidates, but at present there is, I believe, a great deal of difficulty in persuading men students to come forward to be trained as teachers, although the conditions of training both for secondary and elementary schools have been carefully adapted to professional exigencies by the provincial committees.

I now come to a very important class of schools for which the Bill makes adequate provision—the technical and agricultural colleges. These colleges must retain—the Bill does not touch this—independent management and control of their financial arrangements, but I would press for a very close connection being established between the Universities and the technical and agricultural colleges. The professors should be University professors or lecturers; they should have the standard of attainment and qualifications of University teachers, and the students ought to be considered as University students so that they may obtain University degrees. One of the most admirable institutions, of which every Scotsman is justly proud, is the West of Scotland Technical College at Glasgow. It is admirably equipped for the purpose, and has in its staff and laboratories, and in its course of studies all that is required to meet the most exacting, and the highest demands of University teaching, and of scientific research. Affiliation of this college to the Glasgow University would increase the sphere of usefulness of the latter as regards applied science, for which there should be instituted a separate faculty in the University.

This also applies to the Heriot-Watt College in Edinburgh. The standard of work required for a diploma at the Heriot-Watt College is quite as high as that required for a University degree. The difference is that the instruction in this college is more practical and more use is made of the laboratory than at the University, and the standard of general education of the students at entrance is, perhaps, not so high. A diploma is also given at the college to students who have taken their B.Sc. degree in the University and who come to the Heriot-Watt College in order to attend post-graduate courses on the lines of their previous studies at the University. Besides civil engineering, degrees in mechanical, electrical, mining, chemical, and metallurgical engineering should be established in the University, and the special instruction given at the Heriot-Watt College in these subjects should be recognised by the University. Engineering students might be sent to the Heriot-Watt College for chemistry and physics, instead of having to attend a course I of instruction drawn up at the University for medical and M.A. students. The University should also recognise the post-graduate courses at the Heriot-Watt College in metallurgy, electro chemistry, applied analytical chemistry, and technical mycology as well as electrical and mechanical engineering, and the principal professors and lecturers in the Heriot-Watt College should be appointed as University lecturers. This would enormously strengthen the University staff and equipment in applied science.

Both in regard to Glasgow and Edinburgh the present situation is quite anomalous. At the West of Scotland Technical College and at the Heriot-Watt College the instruction given is of the most advanced character, and at the same time it does not form an integral part of the University curriculum, as it should. There is no legal difficulty. Sections 3 and 15 of the University Act of 1889 enable a college to be affiliated without losing its autonomy. I have considered whether an Amendment should be introduced into the Bill on this subject, which is a most important one for the development of higher education, but I do not think it is necessary. I think the Act of 1889 provides all that is required. In Aberdeen a proper solution has been given to the relations which should exist between a University and a Central Institution, whether technical or agricultural. The Aberdeen University takes a lively interest in the development of the North of Scotland College of Agriculture, and provides capacious accommodation for lectures and laboratory work. The college and the University are closely allied. Professors of the University are appointed as college lecturers, and the progress of the college, considering its recent beginning, has been striking.

In Edinburgh nearly all the leading subjects in the agricultural degree course are taught in the University by University professors and lecturers, and only those degree subjects are provided by the East of Scotland college which the University has no funds to support. There, again, the alliance between the University and the college might be made closer. In Glasgow the important subjects are taught in the West of Scotland Agricultural College and the association with the University is harmonious but ought to be closer, because the University depends for its agricultural students on the teaching of the college for seven of the twelve courses. Letters seeking advice are received by the college every day, and the extension lectures and experiments are well attended. The college experiment station has proved a most effective means of securing the interest of farmers in the outlying districts who are now quite alive to the benefits of agricultural science.

The three colleges conduct local demonstrations, lectures in the country, and field experiments, and appoint organisers in the outlying comities. Agricultural education in its different grades will be organised throughout Scotland by these three colleges. I thoroughly approve of the provision in the Bill which is to be found in Clause 17, subsection (7), which contemplates the co-ordination of this work, so important from an agricultural point of view. It would be well if the governors of the three colleges would appoint a joint committee, not for the purpose of interfering with the management of the individual college, but for the purpose of exchanging opinions on the means required to promote agricultural education and the experience gained in each college.

Research must be encouraged in the agricultural colleges, and original work by the teachers, as well as postgraduate work. There is also a danger in requiring too many subjects at the expense of thoroughness and sometimes at the expense of a proper co-ordination of subjects, as, for instance, in giving an option between mathematics and biology, so that an agricultural student could take the degree with no knowledge of botany. Such eccentricities ought to be corrected. In America schools of domestic economy for girls have been attached to agricultural colleges. I should like to see this subject taken up by the three agricultural colleges, and courses of domestic economy started in the rural districts. For agricultural colleges as well as technical colleges it is of the utmost importance that on the governing bodies there should be practical agriculturists and manufacturers.

The Bill wisely leaves the autonomy of the Universities quite intact, and I believe the Universities approve of the Bill and hope that it may be passed. A question which naturally arises, after the description I have given of the present needs of education in Scotland, is whether the resources of the education fund—I heartily welcome the establishment of this fund, and approve of the manner in which it will be administered—will be sufficient to fulfil the expectations raised by the Bill. There is no doubt that more money will have to be spent especially on agricultural, on seconddary education, and on continuation classes. Although I am rather sceptical with regard to the sufficiency of the means placed at our disposal by the Bill, it will have, perhaps, one good result—namely, to secure very careful administration, and to avoid overlapping. I do not wish to see any branch of our education in Scotland receiving preferential treatment at the expense of another branch, and I am sure that the Department will take care that in the distribution of the funds available even-handed justice will be practised. The system of the various grades of education—primary, intermediate, secondary and higher education—is now well defined in Scotland, and on a firm footing. It has also sufficient elasticity.

The Bill makes no provision for a consultative committee. The Bill, undoubtedly, gives great power to the Department. If it is wisely exercised, I do not object to it. In order to obtain a proper correlation of educational agencies and a proper distribution of available funds a central authority is essential. It is perfectly compatible with local initiative, and it need not lead to a disastrous bureaucratic regime, prescribing hard and fast rules applicable to a great variety of conditions. I am convinced, from its past history, that the Department does not intend to dictate to the various educational authorities in Scotland, but I think that some opportunity should be given to experts in Scotland to discuss the educational needs of the country. The Department would have derived benefit from such an expression of opinion. I do not wish to remove the Department to Edinburgh, in which case I think its power would have been increased, as it would be less in touch with the responsible Ministers, and with Scotch representatives during the Parliamentary session; but the situation which this creates makes it, in my opinion all the more desirable that there should be some link between the Department and Scotch educationists on the spot. Educational problems are constantly arising, and for their solution the advice of those who have practical experience of the points at issue would be of great value, as it has been of value in England. This Bill will, I think, make it possible for Scotland to have a system of education which is thoroughly national, and which corresponds with the religious and moral ideals of the nation. The general tendency is to contract in, not out, and if one could apply the two-Power standard to education, I think Scotland would certainly be prepared to adopt it. I trust that some day England may be placed in a similar position, and have the privilege and benefit of a national system such as we have in Scotland.


My Lords, this House has not recently taken kindly to measures emanating from the Scottish Office. It is, therefore, with greater pleasure that we can congratulate the Government on having evolved from that quarter a piece of really useful legislation as laid down in the Bill under discussion to-day. I think, in spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Balfour, has said, the Scottish Office is wise in not having attempted to tackle the question of the enlargement of the educational areas from the parish or the town to the county or the district—a change which has been pressed for from more than one quarter on the ground of economy and increased efficiency.

Clause 22 of this Bill, as I understand it, gives the opportunity for amalgamating some of the smaller school board districts, which may prove of great value; but, after all, ever since the days of John Knox the parish has been the unit of local educational government in Scotland, and I do not believe that any economy worth mentioning would result from so radical a change as has been suggested. Such a change has been carried out in England under somewhat different conditions, but I do not gather that it has resulted in economy to the rates. Moreover, in Scotland, risk would arise of diminishing local interest, which has always been a satisfactory feature of educational matters north of the Tweed. And if you lose interest, you may surely lose something of efficiency also. Experience teaches us that all reforms cost money, however much on the surface they may appear to promise economy; and in this instance officers would have to be pensioned, higher salaries given, larger offices provided, and so on, making it scarcely possible that any economy whatever would result from a drastic enlargement of the educational area, Therefore, although I am aware that I am not voicing the opinion of many noble Lords on this side of the House, I think the Government are wise in having steered clear of a difficult problem.

I think the proposals in this Bill which relate more particularly to secondary education are of great value. I do not propose to go into these subjects. They have been exhaustively treated by my noble friend below me and by the noble Lord who has just sat down. But as regards the finance of the education fund, it appears to me that in one instance you are to some extent robbing Peter to pay Paul. You are taking a grant of £60,000, mentioned in subsection (3) of Clause 15, to swell the education fund. This grant, hitherto, has been paid to the county and town councils, and has almost invariably been applied by them to the relief of the rates. They may have been wrong in so applying it, but the fact remains that if you divert it to another purpose it will mean an inevitable increase in the county and burgh rates, in some cases a somewhat considerable increase As a manager of a voluntary school, I think I can say that this Bill deals fairly with those schools as far as it goes, although it does not give them that preferential treatment by way of Government grant which they claim. The maintenance of these schools up to the standard of efficiency set by the board schools is always a struggle, but I do not think that that struggle is made more severe by anything in this Bill. In fact, rather the reverse, because the provision of free books is a valuable concession; they will also get medical inspection of their children for nothing, and they are promised a fair share of any extra grants which may be going.

Serious objection has been taken to the clause which empowers the Secretary for Scotland to surcharge members of a school board for exceeding their powers in respect to expenditure. I am glad the Government have stood firm on that point, for, after all, the school boards under this Bill are being given largely extended powers, and it is extremely important that they should not exceed those powers. Now that the eventual referee in such cases is to be the Court of Session, I do not see any valid objection to the clause as it now stands. With regard to that part of the Bill which refers more particularly to elementary education, the only thing which can militate against its success is niggardliness on the part of the Treasury. I do not think the Government realise the probable effect on the rates of their proposals in this Bill. Unless they are prepared to make substantial additions to the grant per child in average attendance, I am afraid that the medical inspection of children, the provision of free books to voluntary schools, the possible feeding of destitute children, and so on—all excellent proposals in their way—will be in danger of becoming a dead letter. I am aware that the Secretary for Scotland stated that there would be sufficient out of the residue of the education fund to pay an extra grant of 2s. per head per child. I am convinced that that sum will be nothing like sufficient to recoup the school boards for bringing that part of the Act into force and working it properly.

Many of your Lordships may not realise the great increase which has taken place in the school rate in recent years. To illustrate this point, even at the risk of wearying your Lordships, I will quote, very shortly, from the accounts of a school board administering education in a burgh of some 12,000 inhabitants, with which I am familiar, in the centre of Scotland. In the year 1874, the first year of the school board, the assessable rental was £48,000 and the rate only 3d. in the £, divided between owners and occupiers; in 1883 the assessable rental was £64,000, and the rate had risen to 4½d.; in 1893 the assessable rental was £75,000, and the rate 8d.; in 1903 the rental was £85,000, and the rate had risen to 1s. 3½d.; and this year, with an assessable rental of £110,000, the rate is 1s. 6⅜d. That is to say, from 1874 to 1908, although the assessable rental had more than doubled, the school rate has increased more than six times. I may mention incidentally that there are in this burgh two voluntary schools which are calculated to save the rates to the extent of fully 4d. in the £., and it is this saving to the rates that constitutes the chief claim of these schools to generous preference from grants. These schools do not ask or expect rate aid, because they will not tolerate public control. I admit that at the present time they receive a slight preference in the shape of a small aid grant, but, in view of the large saving which these schools actually afford to the rates, I submit that they are entitled to a far more generous preference in the shape of State aid than they receive at present. In the English Education Act, now happily or unhappily defunct, the contracting-out schools were to have a large preference. These schools would have been in exactly the same position as the Scottish voluntary schools are to-day. Surely, therefore, what is considered just to England cannot be refused to Scotland under similar circumstances. It may be said that these two cases are not on all fours, for whereas the Scottish voluntary schools have never tasted the sweets of rate aid, the English schools were asked to do without rate aid to which they had become accustomed. That, of course, is perfectly true; but I do not think it would have absolved the Government from the necessity, in all fairness, of making an equivalent grant to the Scottish voluntary schools.

To return to the figures I have quoted. Surely they are sufficiently startling as showing the great increase which has taken place in the school rate in recent years. There is another point with regard to this increase, that the proportion put on the local boards has increased while the proportion from the Government grant has decreased. I have here the figures from the Maryhill School Board, near Glasgow. Ten years ago the grant amounted to 79.8 per cent. of the cost of education, and the local purse provided 20.2 per cent.; this year the grants have decreased to 58 per cent., and the amount provided by the local purse has risen to 42 per cent. The result of all this is that the school board in this position feels strongly that they would rather not have this Bill at all if it is to compel them to go on putting up the rates. There is a limit to the complacency of the ratepayers, even in Scotland; they are already beginning to kick, and if these boards are to be compelled, owing to legislation and to the action of the Department, to go on piling up the rates, all local interest in efficient education will be lost, and school boards will be elected whose mandate is economy and economy only, and whom, in consequence, the Department will have the greatest difficulty in compelling to do their duty. Therefore I entreat the Government not to be niggardly in this matter, but to make such an addition to the Imperial grant for elementary education that the advantages of this Bill may be enjoyed without a serious raid on the pockets of the ratepayers.


My Lords, the principles and details of this Bill have been so clearly stated by the noble Lord who moved the Second Reading, and have been so thoroughly examined by the noble Lords who have since spoken, that I do not propose to go into the merits of the measure now. The Bill consists chiefly of matters of detail which will be examined in Committee, but I venture to think that the general approval which has been given to the Bill will be continued in respect of the majority of its details in Committee. I merely rose for the purpose of adverting to the two points which are said to be omissions. One point deals with the cumulative vote, and I am a little disappointed to find that it remains part of the educational system in Scotland; but being myself not thoroughly acquainted with the merits and mode of working proportional representation I do not know whether I should, on becoming better acquainted with it, prefer it to the cumulative vote. I think it is possible that if minorities are to be represented there may be some difficulty in finding a voting system less liable to objection than the cumulative vote, although that vote is by no means popular in Scotland. The other point which is said to be an omission has reference to the extension of the areas. In my opinion the Government have, on the whole, probably exercised a wise discretion in not dealing with the subject of areas in this Bill. I desire to associate myself with what has been said by the last two speakers. I think it would have been a great mistake if the Government had attempted to abolish the parish as the area for elementary education, though I am entirely in favour of a much larger area for I secondary education. It seems to me that the county is the right area for secondary education; but the moment you take a large area for elementary education you do away with all local interest. In Scotland, the greatest possible interest is taken in the school boards, but if you were to take, for instance, a road district as the area it would be impossible for the inhabitants of many parishes to be represented upon the school board at all. It is for that reason that I think the Government have been wise in not attempting to copy the English Act. The reason for the unpopularity of the English Act in the rural districts is that the elementary education rate is made a county rate. The people living in rural parishes complain that they are rated very highly and do not know what becomes of the money; all they know is that it is not spent in their neighbourhood. In Scotland, of course, the matter is otherwise; and I hope that, should the area at any time be enlarged, the area for elementary education will be, at all events, a much smaller area than that for secondary education.


My Lords, it is with extreme reluctance that I rise to prolong this debate for a few minutes. But I should like to be permitted to say a few words by way of preparation, as it were, for the Amendment which the noble Lord opposite has intimated his intention of moving in Committee. It will be understood at once that what I have to say has reference to the vexed question of the cumulative vote. The noble Earl who has just sat down has confessed that the cumulative vote is extremely unpopular in Scotland, In the Bill as first placed before the House of Commons it was proposed to abolish the cumulative vote and to substitute for it the plan known in France as the scrutin de liste, by which the elector has as many votes as there are candidates to be elected, but can only give one vote to each candidate. But it became evident that, despite the objections to the cumulative vote, there existed still greater objections in many parts of Scotland to the plan proposed in substitution there-for, the effect of which would have been to efface the representation of minorities altogether. Although many objections can be raised to the cumulative vote, it certainly produced results extremely valuable in securing the representation of the different opinions entertained in the community; and upon the constitution of the school board in a large town everyone can understand how much the progress of education depends. You may prescribe regulations as you like, but it is the active, zealous co-operation of the school board on which you must depend for the furtherance of popular education. The substitution of the plan giving the majority vote entire control would have removed those conditions of security and efficiency which the cumulative vote gives; and it was impressed on the Government during the progress of the Bill in the other House that the true plan to adopt was the scheme of representation to be secured by the single transferable vote, which secures all the benefits of the cumulative system without its defects. In the first place, the cumulative vote is extremely awkward for the voter to use. He has to be drilled a good deal into its use and to be taught how to distribute his votes, whilst there is the difficulty of ascertaining the result of the election in consequence of the extremely varied way in which the votes are distributed. A recent experiment made in the use of the single transferable vote, which has been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, has, I think, demonstrated its simplicity, effectiveness, security, and completeness as an alternative method; and I hope that the system will be brought before the notice of the Government on the Committee stage of this Bill. I may mention one fact in respect to that election which is extremely pertinent to the present discussion. I had the advantage of attending this experimental election, and by my side was a gentleman who is or has been for two or three terms a member of the School Board of Edinburgh. This gentleman stayed to the end of the vote-counting, and his verdict was that the result showed how much clearer, easier, and more expeditious the plan was as compared with that of the cumulative vote. I will not enter further into the question at this moment, but the subject should certainly be considered by the Government before the next stage of the Bill is reached. It is an open secret that among the Scottish supporters of the Government in the other House the advocates of proportional representation had secured a majority, and if time had permitted for further discussion in the House of Commons the provision might have come up to us in the way I have suggested. By, as my noble friend Lord Balfour has said, the final stage of the Bill in the House of Commons was conducted under extreme difficulties, and the Government, driven into a corner, abandoned their first plan and left the cumulative vote standing. The cumulative vote undoubtedly protects minorities, but it is true that it is extremely unpopular in Scotland. It cannot be trusted. It cannot be said to have any security or permanence about it; and, if you are offered another plan which avoids the difficulties of the cumulative vote and secures in a more trustworthy manner all its advantages, I think the argument in favour of the substitution of that other plan becomes extremely cogent. It is of the utmost importance that the basis of your education machinery should contain within itself all the available elements of knowledge and experience, in order to have that efficiency and co-operation without which educational progress is impossible. I therefore hope I shall be pardoned for having troubled your Lordships on this subject at this stage of the Bill.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Wednesday next.