§ Amendments reported (according to Order):
§ Clause 2:
THE EARL OF LYTTON
The first series of Amendments standing in my name and relating to Clause 2 refer to the same point, and I may perhaps be allowed to explain them together. They are an endeavour on behalf of the Government to meet objections raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Sumner, to the wording of Clause 2 as it stands in the Bill. The noble and learned Lord was, I think, afraid that in consequence of the rather vague and general powers referred to in Clause 2 it might be possible for the education authorities to deal with other matters than those referred to in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c), and the noble and learned Lord asked me whether it was the case that we wished to give wider and more general powers than were specified in those paragraphs. I assured the noble and learned Lord in Committee that we did not intend to add in any way to the powers already exercised by the local education authority. I also gave an assurance to the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that I was prepared to insert words to make, it quite clear that these powers should be confined to the authorities having power over elementary education.
I now propose, my Lords, in lines 18 and 19, to leave out all the words following "education authority" and to insert the word "as," so that the clause, with other verbal alterations, will now read—It shall be the duty of a local education authority so to exercise their powers under Part III of the Education Act, 1902, asThen we go to "(a) to make, or otherwise to secure." etc. "(b) to make or otherwise to secure," and (c) etc. That is to say, we strike out the vague words to which exception was taken and limit the exercise of the powers of Part III authorities to the three matters mentioned in paragraphs (a) (b) and (c).
Then I propose to add, on Page 2, line 23, at the end of sub-section 1, the words "exercise of their powers as an authority for the purposes of Part III of the Education Act 1902." It will then read—and any such authority from time to time may, and shall when required by the Board of Education, submit to the Board schemes for the exercise 496 of their powers as an authority for the purposes of Part III of the Education Act, 1902.I hope I have made the purport of the Amendments clear, and that the noble and learned Lord will feel that I have met the point which he raised in Committee.
Page 1, lines 18 and 19, leave out ("for the purposes of") and insert ("so to exercise their powers under")
Page 1, line 19, leave out from ("1902") to the end of line 22, and insert ("as")
Page 2, line 23, omit ("purposes aforesaid") and insert ("exercise of their powers as an authority for the purposes of Part III of the Education Act, 1902").—(The Earl of Lytton.)
§ LORD SUMNER
I am much obliged to the noble Earl for meeting me in this way. I think his Amendments make clear the ambiguity of which I was afraid.
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
§ Clause 5:
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Amendment on this clause is merely drafting, to avoid the use of the word "thereafter" in two successive lines.
Page 4, line 11, leave out ("thereafter") and insert ("after such notification").—(The Earl of Lytton.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 8:
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved to add at the end of subsection (5) of Clause 8, the words "and to any representations made by the managers of schools." The noble Marquess said: Your Lordships may, perhaps, remember that when you were in Committee I ventured to call attention to the possibility, in the working of Clause 8, subsection (5), that the voluntary school managers might not be properly treated in certain exceptional cases by a hostile local education authority, when they applied or desired to apply, for powers to give full education in their schools up to the age of sixteen. I ventured to move an Amendment designed to remedy that possible disability, but the House was not willing to accept the Amendment.
§ I am now moving an Amendment of a very much more moderate character, which I am in hopes your Lordships will accept. This Amendment merely asks that, in determining whether the application of a 497 local education authority should be granted, the Board of Education should not only take into consideration the things which are set forth in the clause, which they are to take into consideration, but also any representations made by the managers of the school. I venture to hope that in this way, perhaps, the voices of the managers of the schools will reach the Board of Education before a final decision is made. The Amendment is general in character, following the suggestion made by the most rev. Primate in Committee, that there should be no distinction between managers of non-provided and provided schools, although in practice it is very probable that if application is made it will be made by non-provided schools. I have some hope that the Government may be willing to accept this Amendment, and in that hope I venture to submit it to your Lordships' consideration.
Page 6, line 41, at end insert ("and to any representations made by the managers of schools").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)
THE EARL OF LYTTON
I am quite prepared to accept the Amendment of the noble Marquess. Your Lordships will remember that the only reason we had for refusing his Amendment in Committee was that it would, in our opinion, have taken away some of the powers now possessed by the local authorities. We never desired that there should be no representations made by managers. Therefore we are quite glad to accept the Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 13:
THE EARL OF LYTTON
In Clause 13, Which deals with the questions of employment, your Lordships will remember that when we were in Committee an Amendment was moved by Lord Gainford and by the most rev. Primate to prohibit the employment of children of twelve and upwards on Sunday. That Amendment has been inserted in the Bill. At the same time, it was pointed out by several noble Lords that it might have injurious effects upon certain trades, notably in the case of agriculture, and I undertook to reconsider, before the present stage of the Bill, the whole question of Sunday employment. I now propose to insert, after "Sunday," 498 the words "for more than two hours." The effect of this will be that instead of Sunday labour being altogether prohibited it will be limited to two hours.
In future children of the age of twelve and upwards will only be allowed to be employed for two hours on Sunday. That, however, is a general provision, and will not be covered by by-laws. It was pointed out in Committee that there was an objection to leaving it to the local authorities to decide whether this permission for Sunday labour should be given. I, therefore, propose, as your Lordships will see, in a subsequent Amendment, to leave out the words "or on Sundays" in the proviso which deals with by-laws; and the general effect of these Amendments, taken together, will be that Sunday labour will be allowed for two hours generally, but that neither by by-laws nor in any other way can it be sanctioned for more than two hours on Sunday.
Page 12, line 21, after "Sunday") insert ("for more than two hours")
Page 12, line 31, leave out ("or on Sundays")
Page 12, line 33, leave out ("such") and after ("employment") insert ("permitted by bylaw").—(The Earl of Lytton.)
§ LORD GAINFORD
My Lords, I recognise the spirit in which the noble Earl has endeavoured to meet the points I made in Committee, and I certainly shall not take exception to the modifications he has suggested.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, it seems to me that the proposal of the noble Earl exactly fits the facts of the case as they were elicited by the debate which took place, and I am exceedingly glad that the Bill should take the form now proposed.
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
§ Clause 25:
§ LORD SYDENHAM
My Lords, Clause 25 is one of several which I do not think received as much consideration as they deserved. Like very much else in this Bill this clause may lead to results quite unexpected and, possibly, undesirable. The effect of it is to forbid the local authorities to establish a general domiciliary service for medical treatment, and it directs 499 that authority to consider whether the private medical practitioner can be employed. The question arises whether this clause may not lead to free treatment on a large scale of the children of parents who are quite able to pay for it, and who have never asked that it should be given to them free.
It must be easier for the local authorities to deal with its own full-time medical officers, and that, I believe, is the tendency now, but it might be strengthened most undesirably by this clause. It is true that the general domiciliary service is barred, but that service might quite easily grow to very large dimensions, and there are some drawbacks in that course. The general practitioner has access to most of the homes of the children or young persons, and he might have known them—and in some cases has known them—from their birth, and he would also have to treat them in the case of other diseases than those of which the education authorities take cognisance. It does not seem desirable that the children or young persons should be attended by two doctors, and it appears to me that the medical business of the education authorities should be mainly inspectional in matters of sanitation, of course including such special clinics as eye clinics which have been set up with such very excellent results.
I think the inspector should be a sort of check on the practitioner, and the practitioner should be some sort of check on the inspector. After all, the general practitioners are our first line of defence against disease in this country, and, if their practice among children should fall off greatly, their experience might be seriously diminished. I do not suggest that the children of the poor should not receive free treatment, but there may be many thousands of children of parents who are quite well able to pay for their treatment. Considering the very heavy expenditure which this Bill will throw upon the country and the grave warnings that we have received this afternoon, I do think that any uncalled-for expenditure should be avoided as far as possible. It seems to me also, as I said the other day, that, unless this matter is well thought out in connection with the insurance scheme and the coming Ministry of Health, it may well be that our medical arrangements may fall into even worse confusion than, I believe, they are in at present.
500 The Amendment I beg to move is to omit from lines 12 and 13 on page 19 the words "consider how far they can," and to insert "endeavour to." The object of the Amendment is to give permission to the education authorities to use general practitioners if they can and not to make a bureaucratic medical service the only means of treatment, as they may very well be tempted to do. This Amendment is strongly urged by the British Medical Association, which has begged me to press it upon your Lordships. I think the noble Earl will see that it is not a very radical Amendment. The effect of it is that, instead of asking the local authorities to consider what they can do, it goes a little further, and asks them to endeavour to take a particular course. I hope the noble Earl, who has shown himself more conciliatory to-day, will be able to accept this very moderate Amendment.
Page 19, lines 12 and 13, leave out ("consider how far then can" and insert ("endeavour to").—(Lord Sydenham.)
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, before I deal with the point raised by the noble Lord, I would like to say a word of explanation as to how this clause comes to be in this part of the Bill, because I find, on looking through the report of the Committee stage, that owing to the very rapid progress made after dinner on the second day when we were in Committee, these words were transferred from Clause 18, in which part of the Bill they then found themselves, to Clause 25, without any explanation whatever. The reason for this change was that since they were originally inserted in the House of Commons another paragraph was added in Clause 2 under which an obligation was placed upon the authorities to provide for the medical treatment of children in public elementary schools. Therefore, it was desired that the same provisions should apply to the medical treatment given in public elementary schools as to that given in continuation schools. For those reasons the words were struck out of Clause 18 and placed in a new clause, which is now the subject of the noble Lord's Amendment. I felt I ought to say that as no explanation was given in Committee.
The objections to the clause were very carefully considered at the time they were first brought to our notice by the 501 representatives of the medical profession. We realised that their objections were reasonable, and the words of this clause were inserted with the object of meeting those objections. I understand they were considered in consultation with the representatives of the medical profession, who expressed themselves as fully satisfied with the words in the Bill as they are now. I agree that this is not a point of very great substance. I can assure the noble Lord that the words in the Bill, as they stand, do really guarantee all the protection which the medical profession desire, and if your Lordships will consider the effect of the change I think you will realise that the words in the Bill are really better than the words proposed by the Amendment. It is said in the Bill—The local education authority shall consider how far they can avail themselves of the services of private medical practitioners.That, my Lords, is a matter which can he established in case of dispute by evidence. It is perfectly possible to produce evidence to show that you have considered a certain matter, but the Amendment proposes to change the matter from an intellectual basis, which is capable of evidence, to a moral basis which is not capable of evidence. Nobody can prove by evidence how far they have endeavoured to do a certain thing, and in case there is any dispute on the matter, and it is taken before a Court to decide, I submit that the words in the Bill are far more capable of being considered in Court than the words of the noble Lord's Amendment I can assure him it would be quite impossible to carry out the provisions for medical treatment without having resort to private medical practitioners. It will be in the main on the medical practitioner that we shall have to rely.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
All I wish to say on this point is that I think the noble Earl is quite right and that the words proposed by the noble Lord would be very awkward. I am speaking from personal observation when I say that the places where this provision would be most necessary are small villages, out in the country, where there are a number of children who are not as well cared for, and not as easily made the objects of attention, as they are under the higher conditions of the town. It sometimes happens—again I speak from personal observation—that the local medical practitioner in a small 502 place is an incompetent person, and it is undesirable that the local education authority, however much they may desire to employ a private medical practitioner, should be confined to a very incompetent person. I have known flagrant cases of medical practitioners in small places who could not be trusted to carry out the provisions of this Bill. What the noble Earl proposes to do is to leave the words which call the attention of the local education authorities to the matter and make them consider it, but it is not to be a matter of compulsion. If the word "endeavour" were put in I am quite sure that no Court would ever mandamus a local education authority. There would be no legal remedy. I prefer the words as they are in the Bill.
§ LORD SYDENHAM
I think the British Medical Association, which is an important body, will be rather disappointed. As I understand they have not accepted the words of the clause as it now stands. I quite see the points that have been raised, though I still feel that if you tell a local education authority to consider a thing, and only to consider it, it will generally take the line of least resistance and that which suits its own personal convenience.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
In considering the form of words I think the form of words in the Bill is really the better.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 32:
§ LORD GAINFORD
I move to leave out from Clause 32 the words "in the case of a school not provided by that authority also." In Clause 8 your Lordships have just passed an Amendment, and the managers of denominational and undenominational schools are now placed in exactly the same category in connection with powers conferred. I am now suggesting that, in Clause 32, we should also make this clause apply to local managers, whether they be connected with denominational schools or undenominational schools. I do not think it is quite fair on the managers of undenominational schools, schools provided by the local education authority, that they should be ignored and not consulted, in exactly the same way as managers of denominational schools are consulted. In a village where you have local managers, who have certain duties 503 to perform in connection with a provided school, it is true that four of them are appointed by the parish. They take a peculiar interest in the school, and in the management of the school, just in the same way as the managers of the denominational school take a peculiar interest in the parish school. In a village where the school has been provided out of public expenditure, the managers take a peculiar interest in the life and education which goes on in the parish, and I think it desirable this should be stimulated. Further. I really consider it to be to the advantage of education. It may seem to be a small point but if the local education authority with its officials at the county town direct a particular course and ignore the views of the local managers friction may occur, and the education of the parish may suffer. I see no possible harm that can be caused by these words, and I am quite sure an advantage may be secured from an educational point of view. The noble Earl when he accepted the noble Marquess's Amendment to Clause 8 used these words: "The Government never assumed they would ignore representations made by the managers." I want the views and representations made by the managers to be considered in connection with all matters connected with the management of a school. If central schools are established, and you ignore the views not only of one parish, but of two or three parishes which are joined together in connection with one central school, and have the management entirely directed by an official body, you will not have the same success attending the management of this school as you would if you took into consultation the local managers.
Page 22, lines 21 and 22, leave out ("in the case of a school not provided by that authority also"—(Lord Gainford.)
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, the point raised by the noble Lord is not really quite so simple as he has represented it. May I explain to your Lordships the reasons for the existing law with regard to the appointment of managers. The noble Lord has explained, quite rightly, that in the case of provided schools the provisions of the Act of 1902, which require the appointment of a certain proportion of the managers by the minor or smaller authority, were made in order to secure the educational interest 504 of the smaller districts. That was in fact done because a school was organised upon a parochial basis. In the case of non-provided schools the managers occupied a different position. They represented the people who provided the school building, and they were given certain powers in return for the provision of the building—powers, for instance, of the appointment of teachers in certain circumstances. When we came here to deal with these central schools it was quite clear that you were dealing no longer with a small area. You did not wish the schools to be organised upon a merely parochial basis, and therefore, if the school was to serve the interest of some five or six parishes, as it well might, you did not require to provide for parochial representation. You wanted to procure the best body of managers in order to deal with the education of the whole area. What you want is a representation of the area which the school will serve. Therefore words were inserted in the Bill to ensure that the managers should be elected with regard to the educational interest of this wider area.
It was, however, pointed out that in the case of non-provided schools, to do that might be to deprive the managers of voluntary schools of the statutory position which they now hold. Managers of voluntary schools have a statutory position which is not possessed by the managers of provided schools, and therefore we inserted the words which the noble Lord desires to omit to ensure that the management of a central schools should, if it were a non-provided school, not be changed without the consent of the managers of that school. Lord Gainford proposes that if it is desired to convert a public elementary school into a central school, the management shall not be altered without the consent of the managers of that school also But, my Lords, that would have the effect of giving to the managers of the provided school a status which at present does not exist, and which is quite unknown to the law. He says that no harm might arise from the Amendment, but it is possible that inconvenience, not to say harm, would arise from placing the managers of provided schools upon an entirely new footing. For instance, you desire that the central school should no longer be organised upon a parochial basis but should be organised with a view to the educational interests of the wider areas which it will serve, and 505 if this Amendment were carried it might have the effect of defeating that object, and securing in the case of a central school the election of quite an unsuitable body of managers. For these reasons, my Lords, I regret that I am unable to accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 36:
§ LORD GAINFORD
My next Amendment, and the following Amendments that I have on the Paper, are all consequential, and if they were carried Clause 36, instead of the words as they appear upon the Bill as reported to your Lordships' House, would read as follows:—Paragraph (c) and paragraph (d) of subsection (1) of section eighteen of the Education Act, 1902, shall cease to have effect, and, where before the passing of this Act any portion of such expenses has been charged on and allocated to any area, the county council shall cancel the charge or allocation.When last week on the Committee stage I moved an Amendment, the noble Earl in charge of the Bill then pointed out that I had made a case in favour of my Amendment, but he had one strong objection to it. He said—It, is perfectly true that many parishes have in the past been deterred from providing new schools owing to their reluctance to incur a large financial burden. These parishes now have to bear the portion of their one-half to three-quarters of the capital cost of these now schools. They would in future have to contribute their quota to the cost of the schools which may hereafter be erected in more backward parishes. The effect of it, therefore, would be to place a heavy burden on those parishes that had come forward and been progressive in fulfilling their duties.It was pointed out by Lord Sheffield that if the words were inserted which I have now proposed this point would be met. Whereupon the noble Earl in charge of the Bill said—I will undertake to consider before Report stage the alteration suggested by Lord Sheffield.He went on to say—"If it is found possible to meet the noble Lord I should like to meet him as regards the principle of the Amendment, if that can be done without the objections to which I have referred.I suggest to your Lordships that I have, by my Amendment, met the objections which were then raised by the noble Earl, and I think it was regarded as a parliamentary undertaking that if I met the noble Earl's 506 point by my Amendment that he was prepared to accept my alteration in the Bill. I do not think, under these circumstances, that it is necessary for me to re-argue the case, and I can only hope that the noble Earl will carry out what I understood to be his intention on the Committee stage.
Clause 36, page 23, line 33, leave out from ("(1)") to ("paragraph") in line 35.—(Lord Gainford.)
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, I quite admit that the noble Lord has in this Amendment met the objection which I raised in Committee to the Amendment that he then moved. He expressed the opinion—it was either he or Lord Sheffield—that I appeared to be in favour of the principle of the Amendment which was then moved. I may say that is perfectly true. So far as I am personally concerned I would prefer the arrangement proposed by the noble Lord, and I think I may say that it is the system preferred by the Board of Education. I very much regret that I am unable to accept the Amendment, and I will tell the noble Lord the reason, and the only reason, why I cannot do so.
As the noble Lord probably knows, at the present moment various local authorities take different views as to the merits of the proposal which he has now submitted to your Lordships. Some of them think that it would be desirable to do as he suggests, and place the cost of the provision of new schools upon the whole county area. Others, however, take a different view, and think that it is right that part of the cost should be imposed on the area which will be mainly benefited by the school. Therefore, when we came to draft this Bill, a great deal of discussion took place with the various local authorities as to which was the best course. In the course of the discussion, in consequence of the differences of opinion expressed, the Government eventually agreed to leave the matter optional, and by this means they satisfied both sections of opinion.
At the present moment it is obligatory upon the local authority to impose a certain proportion of the rate upon the area directly served by the school. We should have liked to remove that obligation and say that, in every case where a new school is provided, the expense should be borne 507 by the county. As, however, that was objected to by a number of authorities, we agreed that the matter should be no longer obligatory but should be placed upon a voluntary basis, and that the local authority should be left free to adopt either the one or the other course, whichever they thought fit. As this is really an agreed clause, therefore, with the local authorities, and we have given them an undertaking that we will meet their various opinions in that way, I am sorry that I am unable to accept an Amendment which would alter the arrangement.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ LORD STRACHIE moved, after Clause 47, to insert as a new clause: "All schemes, rules and regulations, or provisions made by Order in Council under this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament forthwith, and unless and until an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after any such scheme, rule, regulation, or provision is laid before it praying that the scheme, rule, regulation, or provision may be annulled, the scheme, rule, regulation, or provision shall have effect as if enacted in this Act."
§ The noble Lord said: It will be within the recollection of the House that when this Bill was in Committee I had an Amendment down for a new clause in regard to rules and regulations, but at the suggestion of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, I withdrew it in order to bring it up in another and I think a better shape, and certainly, as the noble Marquess has pointed out, in a stronger way, because schemes and not only regulations, rules, and provisions, are referred to in this new clause. I might say that the noble Earl in charge of the Bill took exception to this clause in Committee because it dealt only with regulations as regards grants. But I think the noble Lord had forgotten, what I did not remember at the time, that there are regulations made under the Bill of some importance, not only as regards grants, but affecting private schools and institutions such as Eton and Harrow and Oxford and Cambridge, under Clause 27 of the Bill. Then again there are regulations made under Clause 12 with regard to continuation schools and also in regard to a matter which may exercise Lord Willoughby de Broke—namely, as regards licences for 508 theatrical children under thirteen; those are laid down there. It would not be only a question affecting grants, as the noble Lord thought, but there would be regulations affecting other bodies, and other conditions which I have pointed out.
§ Then as regards the schemes which are now included in the clause, I think the noble Earl will recognise that they are matters of very far-reaching importance indeed, and that there are no provisions in this Bill as it stands at present that any schemes, rules, or regulations should come before Parliament, but the control of this great education scheme is entirely taken out of the control or review of Parliament. I think it is generally agreed that to a great extent the Government of the day, whether Liberal or Conservative, holds exactly the same views. Whichever side happens to be in office at the time is rather inclined to think that it is a good thing to take power in their Act (and no doubt it also makes the Bill much easier to pass) under Order in Council or under some regulation, to make very important changes in rules and regulations and schemes without the interference of Parliament; in fact, it has given the Department the power to legislate upon certain questions which are reserved in the Bill. As I have said, that seems to be growing up continually, and I think both Houses of Parliament have been rather more jealous lately of that new power which the Government desires to put into Bills, and so latterly there has grown up a view that you should put into Bills a clause that these schemes, rules, or regulations should be laid before Parliament, and that if either House should take objection within a certain time then those regulations and schemes are to be void and have no effect, of course without prejudice to making a fresh scheme. I may say that my clause which I now ask your Lordships to accept is modelled upon one in the last Franchise Act of this year, or rather I think it came into law at the beginning of this year, showing that Parliament only lately has, in the case of the Franchise Act, adopted exactly the same course, taking power for this House or for the other House to revise any act of a Department of which they did not approve.
Insert as a new clause:
All schemes, rules and regulations, or provisions made by Order in Council under this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament
forthwith, and unless and until an address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after any such scheme, rule, regulation, or provision is laid before it playing that the scheme, rule, regulation, or provision may be annulled, the scheme, rule, regulation, or provision shall have effect as if enacted in this Act."—(Lord Strachie.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The question is that the proposed new clause be inserted.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, the Amendment which has been just moved would have the effect of requiring that all schemes as well as all regulations provided for in this Bill should be submitted to Parliament in such a way that they would lie upon the Table of the House for a certain period and then they might be upset by a Resolution of either House of Parliament. I do not think the noble Lord who has moved this Amendment can quite realise what would be the effect of this proposal.
Let me remind your Lordships, first of all in the case of schemes, what it would involve if this Amendment were carried. Under Clause 1 of this Bill there are 130 authorities who are submitting schemes, and under Clause 2 there are 320 authorities. and under Clause 3 a further 130; that is to say, there will be altogether under this Bill 580 schemes which will be submitted to the Board of Education for approval. I would point out that many of those schemes will be of comparatively little importance. In the first instance they will be a provisional confirmation Of arrangements already in existence, And of course, in addition to the 580 schemes which will be submitted in the first instance, there will be a continuous submission of amending schemes from time to time as circumstances may require.
Now the noble Lord suggests that the whole of these schemes should be laid upon the Table of Parliament. I would point out to him that if his object is that Parliament should give careful attention to really important matters he would defeat his own object by carrying this Amendment, because it could never be suggested that Parliament should carefully consider the details of 580 different schemes submitted by various local education authorities and also additional schemes which may be submitted from time to time to amend them. If what the noble Lord requires is publicity, I agree with him, and I submit that already steps have been taken in this Bill to secure the widest 510 possible publicity at all stages of this procedure. For instance under Clause 4, subsection (3), it is laid down that either the authority submitting the scheme or the Board of Education may take such steps as they think necessary in order to secure publicity for the contents of the scheme.
Then the whole procedure of Clause 5, which I endeavoured to explain to your Lordships when we were in Committee, is also designed for the same end—that is to say, under the procedure of this Bill everything that is done by these local education authorities in providing schemes, and by the Board of Education in approving them, will be made public, and then it will be very easy for any persons who have doubts as to the wisdom of the whole scheme or any portions of it either to bring the matter up at local inquiries or to get the Members representing their district to call attention to the matter in Parliament. I submit that where schemes are agreed between the Board of Education and local authorities nothing more is required.
There is only one case which I think calls for any special consideration and that is the case in which a local authoity is perhaps reluctant to meet the wishes of the Board of Education and the Board of Education, with the weapon of the grant, is able to bring pressure upon the authority to make further provision. The noble Marquess rather suggested when we were in Committee that we desired to shirk publicity. He said, "Why are you so afraid of public opinion?" I can assure the noble Marquess that, far from being afraid of public opinion, we court it, and we have invited it under the Bill. We desire as much as he does that in the event of a difference between the Board of Education and a local authority all the circumstances should be made as public as possible, and we do, in fact, provide under the Bill for the greatest amount of publicity. And I am confident that if the Board of Education at any stage of its proceedings takes action without either the opinion of a locality or the public opinion of the country generally behind it there is ample opportunity for its being pulled up by those who represent the opinion which it is violating.
But what is asked for here is that either House of Parliament should be given the power, by an Address, to hold up a Scheme or to prevent any Regulation made by the 511 Board of Education from taking effect. With regard to Regulations I can only repeat the argument which I submitted to your Lordships in Committee, that to accept the Amendment of the noble Lord would be to give to your Lordships' House a right of veto upon Regulations made by the Board of Education in respect to grants. The noble Lord has pointed out that there might be Regulations on other matters besides grants, which is true. But, generally speaking, by far the greater number of Regulations made by the Board of Education under this Bill will be Regulations made in respect of grants. The whole sanction for these Regulations, as indeed for Schemes also, is the sanction of finance. The very grounds upon which it is urged that there should be this power given which the noble Lord suggests in his Amendment is because financial considerations are involved. I submit that when this Bill was under discussion in the House of Commons it was never suggested that sufficient power was not given to the House of Commons to control the expenditure which would come under its supervision in the Bill. It was never suggested that there was not ample power for controlling the expenditure for which it was responsible. And I think it would be making a claim which cannot possibly be supported that your Lordships' House should have the power, as it would have under this Amendment, of holding up the expenditure of money which has been voted by Parliament and which is under the direct control of the House of Commons.
If your Lordships are afraid of bureaucratic action on the part of the Board of Education I submit that this is a matter upon which the local education authorities themselves have expressed no fear whatever. The whole of this Scheme procedure is a procedure which they welcome, and of which they cordially approve. If, on the other hand, you are afraid of things being done which are not known to the public I submit that ample opportunity is given under this Bill for the utmost publicity. If what you are afraid of is insufficient Parliamentary control I submit that in every case where there is a dispute between an education authority and the Board of Education the Bill provides that the matter should be brought before Parliament. The result of the inquiry and the report of the inquiry and the action proposed by the Minister at the head of the Board of Education in regard to these matters will be 512 submitted to Parliament, and I cannot really believe that under our existing Parliamentary procedure there should be any difficulty whatever in securing that the attention of Parliament may be directed to any matter where it is thought that the Board of Education acted unreasonably or that the local authority had not been treated with the fullest possible consideration.
§ VISCOUNT CHAPLIN
The proposals of my noble friend do nothing but revert to what was the invariable practice in both Houses of Parliament up to within a very few years ago. The single exception from that practice was with regard to a case where land might be taken by compulsion by the War Office in time of war or the threat of war. The reason was this, that it was apprehended that Departments might make Regulations giving them power in effect to make new legislation themsleves—that is to say, that the Regulations would empower to be done what had never been sanctioned by Parliament itself.
The first departure that ever was made from that practice was in the case of the Budget introduced by the present Prime Minister in 1909. I and many others took exception to it, and in replying to me in the course of the debate the Prime Minister declared that he had only taken the proposal word for word from an Act of Parliament for which I was responsible myself—namely, the Agricultural Rates Act. But when the Agricultural Rates Act was produced at a later date it turned out that the Prime Minister was absolutely wrong and that nothing of the kind was done. The provision in the Agricultural Rates Act that was quoted in support of his proposal was to all intents and purposes precisely that which is now being moved by my noble friend behind me. The Prime Minister was afterwards convicted of this and he gave a distinct undertaking that a new proposal should be made and inserted in the Act on the Report stage. That never came up till the very close of the session—I believe it was the very last day of the session—and the original proposal was reinserted when there was no one there to object. That is the history of this proceeding.
My noble friend is only reverting to what was the invariable practice at that time 513 and what was accepted also in the Representation of the People Act by the present Government last Session. There I raised the whole question at very considerable length. There was an extremely thin House and the debate was hardly reported at all, but we carried the Amendment, it went to the House of Commons, and it was ultimately accepted. My noble friend is only following the example of what was done then.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
The noble Viscount is correct in the version that he gives of a memorable night which we spent together in the House of Commons, I think in the year 1896. But I shall submit to him that though the facts are correct the precedent is not quite apposite. In that ease there was no question of a local authority submitting schemes to the responsible Department in London; the whole responsibility and initiative in that particular case rested with the Local Government Board here. In this case the whole thing is reversed. The schemes on which Lord Strachie proposes to base this procedure are not schemes of the Board of Education, they are schemes of the local education authorities; and I submit that there is no precedent for saying that a great group of schemes of this character shall be submitted to this long, tedious, and obstructive procedure by Parliament itself.
Now, supposing in the ordinary course of events the local education authority handed in to-day one of its schemes, and it was placed in the hands of the learned Clerks at the Table with a view to coming under this procedure. It would be the end of November—assuming we have what is generally the normal recess plus our usual number of days weekly sittings—before that authority would know that its scheme was sanctioned. I do not think that is right. The scheme it is true would be technically in operation, but the local authority would know that at any moment either. Houses of Parliament would be entitled to abrogate the proposals. This clause as it stands does not even give Parliament the power to amend or to modify the proposals. I suppose that was an oversight on the part of the noble Lord.
§ LORD STRACHIE
It is the same in the Franchise Act.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
Quite. But that is a very different thing from saying that, if there is any defect in an educational scheme which is put forward, Parliament shall be allowed only to annul it and not to amend it. The delay involved is going to be gigantic; and is it really necessary that Parliament should be asked to take the responsibility—for such it must be—of examining, of supervising, and of passing anything from 500 to 600 educational schemes?
§ LORD STRACHIE
Only if any objection is taken.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
No. If these 580 schemes are sent up to Parliament, and Parliament therefore has the responsibility of passing them or of annulling them, and any mistake occurs, certainly Parliament must be responsible. And you are going to take away from the people who ought to be responsible—namely, the local education authorities and the Board of Trade—the final responsibility in these matters, and you are going to put it upon Parliament, which of all bodies in the world is the least equipped for such a purpose. The whole tendency is to prevent Parliament being absorbed in these small details of local administration. The Board of Education has trust in the local educational authorities, and is prepared to receive the schemes from them, to discuss them, and to pass them into effect. I do not really know why this long, cumbrous procedure is proposed. Is it because Lord Strachie distrusts the local education authorities? I think he does wrong if he distrusts them. Or is this merely a reflex of the debate which we had the other day that the Treasury should be the controlling authority? I thought the idea that the Treasury should control each of these 580 schemes was open to objection. I am still more certain that it would be open to greater objection if it were put into the hands of Parliament. It is certainly not going to check extravagance. The extravagance will not be found in the putting of the schemes before Parliament, but in the working in the localities. I strongly ask your Lordships not to accept the new clause.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My noble friend has argued this case with his customary skill, but he seems to think it is quite a new thing to have regulations and schemes laid before Parliament under 515 procedure similar to that which has been described. As regards regulations, my noble friend Lord Chaplin has already pointed out to your Lordships that it is the most common thing in the world that where under modern drafting short cuts are made by means of regulations, those regulations are laid before Parliament so that they shall not be passed into law without the assent of both Houses, in a shortened form of procedure, but maintaining the old principle that you cannot legislate except by the consent of both Houses of Parliament.
As regards schemes, I have spent I do not know how many hours in both Houses of Parliament debating schemes under the Charitable Trust Acts, which are open to all the arguments used by the two noble Earls who have spoken from the Front Bench opposite, but which are always laid before Parliament, and to which this procedure always applies. It is not only that the procedure applies, but it has been found exceedingly useful. That procedure has been used over and over again by both Houses of Parliament in order to prevent local authorities, and some central body like the Charity Commissioners, from doing things which they ought not to do. That is all that is asked in the present case. Now, my noble friend Lord Crawford says, "think of the delay." He says that a scheme presented now might not be passed until November. No doubt my noble friend reflected on the headlong rapidity with which Government business is got through; that there is no such thing as a week's or a month's delay in coming to some arrangement under which we are governed. I will not speak of it because my heart is too full at the present moment, and the delays which personally I am undergoing by the procedure of the Government in trying to get schemes and arrangements carried through. I am sorry to say it is an absolute commonplace; and the permanent educational system of this country is not going materially to suffer from a few weeks delay. My noble friend knows that as well as I know it. There is nothing in those points at all.
What is the existing check on the schemes? These schemes, as my noble friend Lord Lytton pointed out, are, when they are objected to, laid before both Houses of Parliament, I think under Clause 4.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
But the idea is that what is laid before Parliament are the methods which the Board of Education intend to pursue in order to compel a reluctant local education authority to do what the Board of Education likes. Now, there is a condition of divided responsibility. The local education authority will always say to its constituents, if expense is objected to, for example, "It was not our fault. We were shoved into it by the Board of Education. We are not free agents. We did our best; but the Board of Education told us that they would withhold the grant from us if we resisted. We assure you we could not have done anything else"—and so the ratepayers are shunted on to one side.
The Board of Education lays a thing before Parliament. "Oh," says my noble friend, "then there is the House of Commons." What can the House of Commons do? I think I heard it said the other night, when we were in Committee, that the House of Commons can always deal with it upon the Vote. I am sure that no noble Lord would have said that who was familiar with the modern procedure of the House of Commons in Committee of Supply. What happens is that two or three Votes are discussed, and the rest are bottled up in the Closure at the end. Millions and millions are voted away.
As to the control of Parliament, or of the House of Commons, over expenditure, it is diminishing every day and gradually disappearing. I do not mean to say that the House of Commons shows much enthusiasm in restraining expenditure. Poor things, they have not got the opportunity, even if they wished to exercise it. What we say in this Amendment is, "Let us give the House of Commons, and the House of Lords too, power to check these schemes." That is all. That is what I think my noble friend called "this obstructive proposal." That was the adjective he used. This "obstructive" proposal allows both Houses of Parliament to intervene to prevent any rule or scheme to which they have a right to object. I must say that I think the defence which the Government have made for not accepting this proposal is a very insufficient one. They seem to be afraid, as I venture to say—if my noble friend does not like it I say it with all apology—they seem to be afraid of the control of the two Houses of Parliament. They would like the Board of 517 Education to have a free hand, because the Board of Education can compel the local authorities if they like. We have great confidence in the Board of Education in some respects, and especially in the present head of that office, but yet we have not got the same Hind faith which my two
§ Moved (Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended). That the Bill be now read 3a.(The Earl of Lytton.)
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
Before this Bill is read a third time I should like to add a word or two to the congratulations which have marked the different stages of its progress—congratulation to His Majesty's Government, congratulations very markedly to the President of the Board of Education, whose name is on every lip in connection with what is happening, and congratulations not less to the noble Earl who has conducted the Bill through this House, for the lucidity, care, and patience, and I think considerateness, which he has shown with regard to every point that has been raised. That this should have been done, and such a Bill carried through in this war time, and with the amount of care given to it in both Houses which has been given, redounds I think to the credit of our public life to-day
The Bill has had a somewhat unusual history. It is less than a year since it was read for the first time in the House of Commons. It then received a good deal of criticism in regard to a good many of its
§ noble friends opposite have got, and that is the reason why we support the Amendment.
§ On Question, whether the proposed new clause shall be here inserted?—
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 11; Not-Content; 30.517
|Salisbury, M.||Chaplin, V.||Desborough, L.|
|Churchill, V.||Hindlip, L. [Teller.]|
|Grey, E.||Strachie, L. [Teller.]|
|Selborne, E.||Beresford of Metemmeh, L.||Sydenham, L.|
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Sandhurst, V. (L. Chamberlain.)||Elphinstone, L.|
|Finlay, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Faringdon, L.|
|Curzon of Kedleston, E. (L. President.)||Cowdray, V.||Gainford, L.|
|Haldane, V.||Gorell, L.|
|Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.) (L. Privy Seal.)||Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Hylton, L.|
|Lee of Fareham, L.|
|St. Davids, V.||Queenborough, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Ranksborough, L.|
|Winchester, L. Bp.||Rotherham, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Sanderson, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Carmichael, L.||Somerleyton, L. [Teller.]|
|Clinton, L.||Stanmore, L. [Teller.]|
|Farquhar, V. (L. Steward.)||Colebrooke, L.||Weardale, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ administrative details. It was withdrawn and introduced a second time before the close of the session, and when the new session came it was introduced a third time, again with consideration of any criticisms which had been made. My Lords, the result of that quiet and patient attention which, was given to criticisms emanating from different quarters, has been as far as I can see to produce a Bill which is fair all round, which really does improve our educational system without tramping on any reasonable susceptibilities, and without damaging the cause for which any section of our educationalists really care.
§ But, my Lords, this is going to cost undoubtedly a great. deal of money, and I am very anxious that it should not be supposed that those of us who have throughout been eager in its support are either forgetful of that fact or callous as to what it Any one who has listened to the debate to-night on the financial situation of this country will realise the wisdom, as well as the weight, of the counsel which was given to us as regards any reckless expenditure at such a time, or the reckless incurring of Obligations that will result in the years that lie immediately ahead in large expenditure. But with our eyes open to all that, neither forgetful of it nor callous of its gravity, we believe 519 this thing to be worth while. We believe it to be justified, indeed we believe it to be more than that, essential.
§ To repeat what has been said more than once in the course of the debates we can ill-afford to do it, but we certainly cannot afford not to do it. Not to do it at this time would mean to incur liabilities of a quite different sort, as regards our duty to those who are fighting for us and to their children, for whom they care. Just as truly as we say that no money must be spared for bringing the war to a successful conclusion—that any new departure we have to make at sea or on land must involve enormous sun is and that those sums must be found—so I say, with regard to this bit of educational progress, that when our men return from the Front I am quite certain we shall find a wide difference in popular opinion about educational needs from that to which we have been accustomed in the past. To all of us who have to do with the men returning home, men in hospital, men who have an opportunity of thinking over what the war suggested to them, we find the evidence overwhelming that they are not going to rest content with the kind of education, and the manner of the education, which they had themselves received as sufficient for their children. And if the men did not feel that themselves we should feel it for them.
§ It is indisputably the case that in the years that lie before us now the success and well-being of this country will depend, in no small measure, on the way in which we are doing everything that in us lies to secure that the boys and girls of the country—that is, the future men and women—receive all the education they ought to receive. Were we to neglect to do that I am quite certain voices would be rife ten or twenty years hence, on the part of the then middle-aged population of the country, in regard to our failure at such a crisis to rise to it, and to meet it. But we have not failed; we have risen to it, and met it. We have done absolutely right. I hope the Bill which leaves us now will not have to come before us again—I gather it will not—and I should not like it to go without a word of gratitude to those who have carried it through Parliament and of confidence in the success which it will attain.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
My Lords, I merely desire in a very few words to join 520 in the congratulations which the most rev. Primate so very felicitously expressed, first of all to His Majesty's Government, and, in particular, of course, to the President of the Board of Education, for having brought to its last stage this great measure, which will, I am certain, be regarded by those who look back from the future to this year as a very remarkable feat for His Majesty's Government to have performed in the middle of the great struggle in which we are engaged; and, next, to the noble Earl who has conducted the Bill so skilfully and with such abundant knowledge through your Lordships' House.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
In some respects his path has not been a rugged one, for the Bill has not in the main been controversial, but there have been one or two moments when we seemed to be stepping to the verge of the controversial precipice, and when it became clear that "ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires." But I am quite certain, if the task had been in that respect a far more difficult one than it was, the noble Earl would have been fully equal to meeting any difficulties which he might have had to encounter. I trust I may be allowed to say that I have never witnessed a more flawless Parliamentary performance than that of the noble Earl in the conduct of this Bill.
The most rev. Primate spoke a word on the subject of the inevitable cost of this Bill. That is undoubtedly a serious consideration, and one which was brought home to us with great force this afternoon. It was interesting to observe in the course of the former debate that my noble friend Lord Faringdon, speaking more hopefully of the future than some other noble Lords did, but yet with great gravity of the financial commitments of the country, frankly admitted that if there was one subject of expenditure to which, in spite of all his objections, he would be prepared to commit the country, that one was the education which we have been since considering in this Bill. I believe that to be perfectly right. But, apart from all the moral and intellectual gains from a great national system of education, I share my noble friend's belief that it is a thoroughly sound investment, an investment which the country simply dare not fail to make; and, for that reason, I for one am prepared to face even the heavy commitments of 521 this Bill. And all the more, I confess, because I cannot help feeling that it will be a considerable time—a period of perhaps more years than some are disposed to think—before it is found possible to indulge in very greatly increased outlay under the provisions of this Bill. Even though there will be nothing in the Statute to forbid it, I think that in many cases circumstances will forbid it, and the rise, as I believe, of our educational expenditure, both from Government funds and from local sources, will prove to be slower than some are now tempted to dread. I am bound to say that, in any case, as an enthusiast, I should have been prepared, as I have no doubt my noble friend opposite would, to have faced the expenditure, even though some other most desirable kinds of expenditure had to be omitted, and I merely desire once more to congratulate him and His Majesty's Government heartily upon the success which has been crowned this afternoon.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I should not like to deprive myself of the pleasure of saying what I think about my noble friend Lord Lytton's performance. Lord Crewe has used the word "flawless," and do not think that is any exaggeration. What makes it so remarkable is this, that this is a Bill which is not connected with a Department about which my noble friend has anything to do. I have heard many Bills taken in both Houses of Parliament and they have almost always been taken by the Minister of the Department, or by one who represented the Department, familiar with its work. My noble friend has had to "get up" for the occasion the whole of the case, which he has presented to us in a faultless manner. I cannot think of a more perfect illustration of the contention I urged in your Lordships' House the other day, that several of my noble friends sitting on the Front Bench opposite are much more fit to hold the posts they do not hold than members of the House of Commons are for the posts they do hold.
§ LORD GAINFORD
May I add my humble tribute to the way in which the noble Earl has steered the ship between Scylla and Charybdis. No one who has been at the Board of Education can fail to realise how many difficulties there are in the path of a Minister who endeavours even to propose an Education Bill before Parliament. But I think that, with all the noble Earl's other work, the fact that 522 he should have been able to master all the intricacies connected with this measure is a very great performance, and I should like to add my tribute to the great ability he has shown, and to thank him extremely for the courtesy with which he has dealt with Amendments, all of which, I believe, have been moved in a friendly spirit.
In 1902 it was quite obvious to many people in this country that the great progressive measure of that year could not be left where it was. That measure gave duties and powers to the local education authorities in connection with elementary education. Those powers have not been abused, but, as time has passed, it has become more and more apparent that these local authorities could be entrusted with higher powers, and, to avoid that waste of money which we all deplore at the present time, it was absolutely essential, if we were to recover our position after the war, that a further measure should be passed in order to secure continuity in education. I myself have, perhaps, taken a special interest in the physique of the child, and I am glad that this Bill is going to do something for the infant, as well as for the boys and girls just before they reach manhood and womanhood, and will also do something for the adult. It will enable education to be really achieved in the interests of the country at a time when it will be most required.
Our thoughts are naturally most directed to destructive work, but here we have a measure of a most constructive character, passed in a period of a great war, and I envy the noble Earl his association with it. I am quite sure it will stand out as a great landmark in connection with the social progress of this country in future years; will add greatly to the blessings of peace when peace arrives; add to the prosperity of our commercial greatness in the future by securing for the nation an educated people, and it will also add greatly to the happiness of the whole population.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, I hope I may be permitted in a very few words to express my acknowledgment, on behalf of the Government, of the kind and flattering, and obviously sincere, terms in which all the noble Lords, beginning with the most rev. Primate, who have just addressed us have offered their tribute of congratulation to the Government on the successful passage of the Bill, to the 523 Minister of Education responsible for it, and to my noble friend. The Bill itself, unique in its avoidance of controversies, finds, I think, the best omen for its future success in the remarkable and unprecedented facility with which it has passed through both Houses of Parliament, and in the immense volume of public opinion of all shades of thought and expression, by which it has been safely wafted into harbour. All the tributes of noble Lords who have spoken joined in a special measure of congratulation, which I most cordially endorse, to my noble friend Lord Lytton. The custom of this House, no less than his personal modesty, would preclude him from replying, and therefore I may be permitted, perhaps, to say one word in that connection.
We have often been led to think that for the successful conduct of a Bill through the intricate and difficult shoals of Committee, in either House of Parliament, a long Parliamentary training in another place was required. My noble friend has successfully disproved that hypothesis. No man with however long a House of Commons training could have acquitted himself more meritoriously or successfully than he did. He seemed to tile to show, in addition to a perfect mastery of the subject, three qualities which in my Parliamentary experience have always struck me as essential to the safe conduct of a Bill—clearness, conciseness, and courtesy. One of my noble friends remarked that this display was all the more notable because the subject of education was one which did not arise out of the departmental and administrative work in which my noble friend was from day to day engaged. That is true. At the same time, in asking my noble friend, as I did, to undertake this task some two or three months ago, I was conscious that throughout his public career he has always identified himself with matters affecting the social, moral, and educational welfare of the people. He came to this subject, therefore, not only charged with knowledge but inspired with enthusiasm; and the manner in which he has conducted that task is one which has not only facilitated the progress of the Bill, but will, I am sure, in the opinion of all your Lordships, add very considerably to an already great and ever-growing Parliamentary reputation.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed, and returned to the Commons.