HL Deb 29 July 1908 vol 193 cc1433-7

I beg to ask His Majesty's Government whether they will furnish this House with a Return showing the number of subscribers, and the amount of money subscribed voluntarily by the Welsh people towards secondary education as the result of the passing of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, 1889.

The object of my Question is to show to your Lordships' House to what extent the Welsh nation have appreciated the powers of self-government in secondary education which have been entrusted to them by various Governments.

In 1889 the Government of the day passed the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. This was followed in 1896 by a scheme based on that Act which provided for the establishment of a Central Welsh Board for Intermediate Education. The Conservative Government of that period—in fact the Conservatives were responsible for all these steps—were so much satisfied with the work of the Central Welsh Board that by the Board of Education Act, 1899, the Central Welsh Board is made a statutory body for the examination and inspection of the intermediate schools in Wales.

I feel certain that the Return which I have asked His Majesty's Government to furnish your Lordships' House will, if granted, show that Wales has responded by voluntary contributions to the national recognition granted to her by the passing of the Welsh Intermediate Act, 1889, to an extent that cannot be equalled by any of the other three countries. The keen and general interest taken by the Welsh people in education can be proved by the following facts—

  1. (1) The local taxation account money was devoted entirely by Welsh bodies to education. This was not done by any of the other three countries until they were obliged to do so by the Education Act, 1902.
  2. (2) The amount of money raised per head for educational purposes in Wales is more than England and Ireland together or Ireland and Scotland together.
  3. (3) The education rate per £ in Wales is more than that of England and Ireland together, or Scotland and Ireland together.
  4. (4) The number of pupils per 1,000 population in Wales is nearly double that of England, Scotland or Ireland.
  5. (5) The percentage of pupils who remain in the secondary schools of Wales for the third and fourth year courses is much greater than in the secondary schools of any other of the three countries.
  6. (6) Secondary education has advanced during the last few years to such an extent in Wales that experts in education are of opinion that it will not be necessary after next year to provide 1435 for education lower than that of University grade in the constituent colleges of the Welsh University.
  7. (7) More than 80 per cent, of the pupils attending Welsh secondary schools received their primary education in public elementary schools.
  8. (8) The students who are selected to undergo normal training in the Welsh University colleges have received very much better training than those selected by English colleges, and this in spite of the statement in the last report of the Board of Education which says that the percentage of failures in the preliminary certificate examination in Wales is double that in England. In fairness to Wales the Report should contain a qualifying statement to the effect that Welsh students take the matriculation examination and the higher examinations of the Central Welsh Board instead of the preliminary certificate examination, and degree courses instead of the final certificate examination.
Perhaps I should add that with all this Wales has received very little encouragement from the Exchequer compared with what has been given to Scotland and Ireland.
  1. (1) We have not received hardly one-tenth of the University building grants that have or are to be given either to Scotland or Ireland.
  2. (2) Compared with either Scotland or Ireland the grants to the Welsh University colleges should be double or three times what they are at present.
  3. (3) Museums, libraries, portrait galleries, etc., have been built and maintained by the Government in Scotland and Ireland. So far no such blessings have been conferred on the Principality.
Though I am sorry to have taken up so much time in submitting this statement to your Lordships' House, yet I felt compelled to do so in order to justify the action of the Welsh nation in opposing most strenuously the attempt that is being made by the Board of Education to cripple the powers, and undermine the influence of the Central Welsh Board. This they have no right to do. It is not constitutional, for the Central Welsh Board has been given as much control over secondary education in Wales as was given by the same Act of Parliament to the Board of Education over elementary and secondary education in England.

The Welsh people are looking forward to the day—in fact the Welsh Members in Parliament are now considering a scheme—when it may please His Majesty's Government to establish a national council which shall have control over primary, secondary, and University education in the Principality, and in the meantime it is our sincere hope that the Government of the day, by administrative action, will do all in its power to place Welsh affairs in the best possible position to attain that object. No other nation in the world has sacrificed more for education, and therefore no other nation deserves greater freedom to establish a national system of education.


I rise to a point of order. I would ask the Lord Chancellor whether the Question before the House is not that a certain Return be granted. I do not know what document the noble Lord is reading, but we cannot make it out.


I beg your Lordships' pardon for taking up so much of your time, but this is a very important matter. It is so important that contrary to my usual custom I have written out my speech, and have supplemented my Question by the remarks I have just made.

Moved, "That there be laid before the House a Return showing the number of subscribers, and the amount of money subscribed voluntarily by the Welsh people towards Secondary Education as the result of the passing of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, 1889.—(The Lord Glantawe.)


I quite agree with the noble Lord, and the Question he has asked refers to a very large sum of money. It is an important question, and is regarded as especially important by the people of Wales. I am sorry the Government cannot grant the noble Lord the Return he asks for, but the very generosity of the people of Wales is the reason which makes it so difficult to ascertain the amount of money they have given for this object. The Charity Commissioners have asked that a certain minimum sum, generally including a site, shall be given, and when the Charity Commissioners have been satisfied that the minimum sum has been granted, they have done their part. In most cases, however, the people of Wales have given a great deal more than the minimum sum asked for, but the figures at the disposal of the Charity Commissioners and of the Government only give the minimum sum asked for. We consider it would be quite unfair to the people of Wales for us to give a Return of the minimum sum asked for; there are no figures in the possession of the Government or of the Board of Education except these inadequate sums, which do not represent the generosity of the people of Wales, and I hope the noble Lord will, therefore, withdraw his motion for a Return. I would venture to suggest that if the noble Lord wishes to obtain the figures he should apply for information to the various school governing bodies, which have been concerned in this matter.


I withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.