HL Deb 30 October 1918 vol 31 cc913-36

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I rise to ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill, which has passed through the House of Commons with an absence of criticism, or at all events of any considerable criticism, and has, I believe, met with general approval in Scotland. The object of the Bill is to make adequate provision for the organisation of national education in Scotland, short of the Universities. Your Lordships are aware that in the month of August last a Bill for a similar purpose in England and Wales became law, and of course it was felt in Scotland that it is not for Scotland to fall behind in the race to achieve a thoroughly efficient education. The object being the organisation of national education—primary, secondary, and technical—it is obvious that you have to devise machinery which would be adapted for that purpose in the shape of local education authorities. Then, having done that, you must have provisions as to the duties of those local education authorities, and the changes in the law which they are to administer. Lastly, but not least, you must have provisions for advancing the scheme, which will be most valuable in its results but must cost money.

I propose to divide the few remarks that I am going to make under the three heads which I have mentioned. In the first place, as regards the machinery to be provided, it must be settled what the area is to be. In Scotland there has hitherto been a system of school boards. School boards have been elected by each parish and by the various burghs scattered throughout Scotland. It is quite obvious, I think, that for such a scheme as that which I have indicated it would be impossible to take these small areas. Many of the burghs are too small, and the majority of the parishes are too small, and you could not, even with the powers of amalgamation which exist, make a satisfactory job of it if you proceeded on the lines of the existing divisions for the purpose of education. For that reason it has been determined that the areas for this purpose should be the five large burghs—Edinburgh, Leith, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen—which are of a very considerable size, a size suitable for the matters to be dealt with; and throughout the rest of Scotland that it, should be according to the division into counties. Various suggestions have been made as to forming special areas for the purpose of education, but I think your Lordships will agree with the view that has been taken that the multiplication of special areas for particular purposes is inconvenient, and that it is much better to proceed on lines which are already thoroughly familiar. I may add that since 1908 the county secondary education committees have discharged not unimportant functions with regard to secondary education in Scotland under the Act of 1908. And therefore I ask your Lordships' approval of the course that has been taken in adopting the counties, with the five large burghs which I have mentioned, as appropriate areas for this purpose.

The second point which arose with regard to machinery was, What body are you to have? Are you to have a body elected ad hoc, or are you to throw the functions under this Bill upon the existing councils—the county councils and the burgh councils? The Bill as first introduced in December last year proposed to throw it upon the existing councils, but the opinion of Scottish Members and of Scotland was so unmistakably manifested in opposition to that proposal that the Government determined to re-introduce the Bill, which they did shortly before it came on for Second Reading in June last, making the authority not the existing councils but education authorities to be elected ad hoc. In Scotland there has always been a great liking in matters of education for an authority elected for that purpose and for that purpose only. The next point with regard to the education authority was how it was to be chosen, and this Bill pro- ceeds on the lines that it ought to be chosen by direct election. I need not waste time in recommending that course, for I do not think that any other would satisfy the people of Scotland. Further, some provision must be made for securing adequate protection to minorities. There is at present in force in Scotland the cumulative vote, by which, where a man has the right to give several votes, they may be bestowed upon one candidate, and by arrangement with his friends the great mass of votes may be concentrated on behalf of a minority numerically not very strong. The cumulative vote for that reason has fallen into disfavour in Scotland, and the opinion is held, and I believe justly held, to some extent at all events, that the cumulative vote gives more protection to minorities than is their due. It is therefore proposed, instead of the cumulative vote, to have the transferable vote, by which the voter may indicate the order in which he desires that his vote should be utilised for candidates. If his vote is not wanted for one owing to his having got a majority without it, the vote may be given in the order indicated by the voter to another candidate who is in the field. It is hoped in this way that due protection will be given to minorities, but that the undue favour to minorities involved in the cumulative vote will be put an end to. So much with regard to setting up the machinery for administering this Bill.

With regard to the duties of the new education authorities and the changes in the law which they will have to administer, I will first say this. There are a certain number of very necessary duties to be performed in connection with schools for which a central authority for a comparatively small area is not particularly competent. You want local management for schools in certain particulars, always subject to strong central control, and the Bill contains provisions for the appointment by the local education authorities, according to a scheme framed by them and approved by the Scottish Education Department, of school management committees, which it is hoped will be of an efficient and representative character, with knowledge of all the local conditions, and on which the various interests will be adequately represented. This system will combine the advantage of local knowledge with adequate central control. The more important duties of the education authority may not be transferred; there is an enact- ment mentioning them and forbidding that they should be thrown into the hands of a committee.

I will say a few words first about the duties of the education authority with reference to public schools, and then I will proceed to consider their new duties altogether with reference to the proposed transfer of what are called the voluntary schools to the education authorities. The first duty, and one of the most important, which the education authorities will have to discharge is to prepare a scheme for the approval of the Scottish Education Department for providing adequately within the area for primary, intermediate, and secondary school education. And with regard to that matter some points of importance may be briefly noticed. Your Lordships are aware that in Scotland, by what is called "use and wont," the education authorities have always been in the habit of providing for religious instruction in the schools. There was no enactment in the Scottish Education Act of 1872, now nearly fifty years ago, to that effect. In the preamble it is recited that there was use and wont with reference to religious education, and that, coupled with the determination of the Scottish people that the religious element should not be eliminated from the schools, was quite sufficient; it has always been provided. And it has been thought that, inasmuch as a change is being made to new authorities, it would be a proper thing to indicate to these authorities that they are to have the same powers in this most important matter that the school boards have always exercised. That is provided by the eighth clause, which confers on the education authorities under this Bill the power to provide religious education. It does not make it compulsory. Some ardent friends of religious education, I believe, were desirous that it should be made compulsory, but I suggest to your Lotdships' judgment that it was probably much safer to recognise the power, trusting the people in whose interests the power is to be exerted to give effect to what was entrusted to them.

The next point which I think is of some importance is that the local education authority have power to make provision by way of scholarships, or bursaries, as they are called in Scotland, and by making other payments, to enable promising of poor parents to get the advantage of education in secondary schools, and, in suitable cases, in Universities. The children to whom this assistance is to be given, must, of course, be carefully selected. The responsibility for the selection will rest with the local education authority, who no doubt will act upon the information laid before them by the teachers as to the capacity of the child. Of course, unless the child is likely to take advantage of such facilities, it would be a waste of time and money to send him on to the University, he is much better doing that work for which he is fitted. But you have in every rank of life boys and girls of great ability who only want the opportunity to show what is in them. I believe it was a motto of the great Napoleon that a career should always be open to talent; and as far as legislation can achieve it, we hope that this Bill may serve to open the way to any sphere for which his abilities fit him to any child in Scotland, however poor his parents may be.

Certain changes are made in the law which the authorities are to administer. In the first place, the age for school attendance is raised from fourteen to fifteen years. In the second place, the power of exemption, which under the law as it has hitherto existed was to take effect when the child was twelve, is now to be at the age of thirteen, so that it is a year later. The power of exemption which was introduced by the Act of 1901 is an instance of that power of selection which plays an essential part in the formation of every well-balanced scheme. There are on the one hand, as I have indicated, children of exceptional powers, and on the other hand there are children who are so backward with their books that after a fair opportunity of being tested in the matter we must conclude that further time spent in book learning is really time wasted. In that case it is much better that there should be the power of exempting such a child from further attendance at school, and letting him go to the work for which he may be perfectly fitted, and which, in itself, will be a better education than poring over books which, to him, may mean little or nothing. The power of exemption is to be subject to attendance at the continuation classes which are to be set up under this Bill.

The continuation classes are a most important part of the provision made for education by this Bill. It is proposed that there shall partial attendance—for two hours. I think—up to the age of six- teen at continuation classes in the evening, and that power shall be conferred by the Bill when it becomes law upon the Education Department to extend the age for these continuation classes ultimately to eighteen, proceeding by steps if they please. These continuation classes will help the boy and girl to keep up their general education and prevent the young person from forgetting what has already been learned; but, they will also, I trust, in very many cases give special instruction bearing upon the handicraft which the young person is pursuing. Instruction of that kind may greatly increase the efficiency of our work, and, if well judged, and put in terms which the young workman can appreciate, it may be an education more valuable than learning of a more abstruse character ever could be.

And then, in the third place, these continuation classes may discharge a most important function in having the physical well-being of the young persons thoroughly well seen to. They are most important years in the life of a boy or a girl, and there will be, under this Bill, provision for medical examination, for the supervision of health, and for physical education and training. I need not dilate on the importance of that. Any one of us who has seen the effect which the physical exercises that a country lad goes through, or which a town lad goes through, on enlisting in the Army, can appreciate what a change it makes in the physique and in the morale of the person subjected to these influences. I regard it as most valuable if, as an important part of the education, the young person is subjected to influences at that time, which tend to there being a sound body, and which tend to there being a sound mind in the body. The continuation classes will prevent the minds from rusting, and will enable any boys or girls who are fit for the Universities to qualify for passing on to them. They may have gone to their work, they may not have been able to go to a secondary school, but in the hours in which they attend continuation classes they may be able to do enough to prepare them for going, as they get a little older and as the opportunity serves, to the University.

There is, of course, one matter which always should be borne in mind, and that is the importance of the power of selection in any sound system of education. You must begin by educating all children, but you must endeavour to pick out those cases in which it is worth while to push education further and to give the young person the opportunity of rising, it may be, to a very different sphere from that in which he may happen to have been born. There is, of course, the same power of exemption with regard to the continuation classes provided in the Bill as that to which I have referred in regard to elementary education.

The second point on which the local authority will be entrusted with important duties is in the matter of what are called voluntary schools. In Scotland you have a large number of children who, owing to the religious views of their parents, are not able to take advantage of the education provided in the public schools. As your Lordships know, the greater part of the population of Scotland are really of one faith, so that the religious difficulty with regard to the great majority does not arise; but you have a certain number of Episcopalian schools and a large number of Roman Catholic schools. I think it has been estimated that of the children who are of age to go to school in Scotland about one-seventh are children of Roman Catholic parents, whose principles prevent them from allowing their children to go to any schools where there is an absence of religious education, however much the children may be protected by conscience clauses. That is a fact which must be recognised, and you cannot in dealing with this subject leave unnoticed those children who, owing to the pecuniary difficulty in thoroughly equipping and running these schools, have to be content with education in many cases very inferior to that which the public schools would be able to give them.

It is proposed to deal with this question in this way. The local education authority are required, on the request of the managers of any Roman Catholic or Episcopalian school, to take the school over. If no request is made for two years to take it over—unless the time is extended and there is power to extend it—the grants will cease to be paid to that school. If they prefer to continue on their own account they will have to do so, but it is apprehended that the proposed powers conferred on the local education authority of taking over such schools on request will be a power brought into constant exercise. It will work in this way. When the school is taken over the secular education will be under the control of the local education authority, but the religious education will be left entirely in the hands of persons representative of the religious body to which the parents of the children belong. That is a provision which I hope will work well in practice. It seems to be a provision of a reasonable nature, and it is difficult to conceive that you could have a better way of filling up a great gap in your educational system, which otherwise would exist owing to there being a large number of children whose parents think it wrong to let them go to the public schools in Scotland.

I desire to say a few words on the most important subject of the financial provision made by the Bill. There is to be for every local education authority an education fund to be administered by the local education authority. Into that fund will be paid all the grants and sums raised by loan, or otherwise, available for education purposes, and then if there is a deficiency it is to be made good out of the rates. The total deficiency for the area is to be apportioned among the parishes comprising the area according to their valuation, and is to be raised as provided. This may not be an ideal system, but it is one which is in force and one which it is believed will work well in practice.

In the second place, provision is made for the grant of a general fund for Scotland—the Education (Scotland) Fund. Into that fund for Scotland generally there will be paid all the sums which are payable under the 15th section of the Act of 1908; secondly, a sum equal to the grants which were made in 1914, which is taken as the standard year; and, in the third place, eleven-eightieths of the excess of the amount paid for education in England and Wales over that spent in 1914, the standard year. The explanation of that fraction is simply this. It was computed that the relation of the contribution by Scotland to the contribution by the rest of the kingdom for taxation was eleven-eightieths, and that has been adopted on other occasions as an index of the share which Scotland should get in any grant, and it is proposed to adopt it here. That central fund will be applied in making grants to the several education authorities according to minutes to be drawn up by the Scottish Education Department; and if one might anticipate, I should think that those minutes should be drawn up on the principle of measuring the grant according to the amount properly expended on education in the area, with special consideration for districts where, owing to exceptional circumstances, the pressure of the rate is exceptionally heavy. That is a matter which must be left to be adjusted by minute, and I think that the Department may be trusted to discharge this duty in seeing that the grants are properly apportioned.

One thing is to my mind most satisfactory about this scheme. It will sweep away the whole apparatus of payment according to passes and results. I believe there has never been a greater mistake in any system of education than making grants according simply to the number of passes in particular subjects. It is fatal to the full idea of really good education, and I trust that in Scotland we shall have seen the last of it when this Bill comes into force. There are one or two other matters in the Bill which I really shall not dwell upon. Provision is made for an advisory council for the Secretary of Scotland in educational matters, and for an advisory council for the local education authorities themselves.

There is only one other point I will touch upon, and that is the provision which is made with regard to the remuneration of teachers. The salaries are to be not less than a sum fixed as a minimum according to a scale drawn up under Clause 7 (c) of the Bill. It was said long ago by Sir Walter Scott, with reference to the old parish schoolmasters in Scotland, that Scotland owed more to these men than to any other class in the community and treated them worse than any other class. I hope we are in the way adequately to recognise the service which the teaching profession can do to the country. That really is all I have to say in commending this Bill to the favourable consideration of your Lordships. It comes to you stamped with the approval of the House of Commons, and I submit to your Lordships that, if passed into law, it will do a great deal to help on the cause of education in Scotland. In these circumstances I trust that your Lordships will give it a Second Reading, and I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, I cannot think, after the full and exhaustive analysis of the Bill which we have just heard from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, that it is necessary for me to say very much, but having regard to the fact (which I have no doubt is in the minds of many of your Lordships) that I was responsible for eight years for the Department which is concerned with this Bill, I think it would be a lack of courtesy on my part if I did not offer to the Bill a very cordial welcome in your Lordships' House. I am not altogether out of sympathy with the view that to some extent the great changes foreshadowed in this Bill have been sprung upon the people of Scotland without full discussion and preparation, but, as the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has told you, the first draft of the Bill, introduced at the end of last year, did not meet with approval so far as the authorities were concerned, and those who were responsible for this Bill have done their very best in the meantime to consult the opinion of the people of Scotland, and I believe, so far as this important question is concerned, the Bill will receive practically unanimous support.

Another reason why I think we should not pay too much attention to the criticism is that it would never be possible in these times to take a General Election turning largely upon the question of an Education Bill. More than that, we are face to face with many after-war problems, with great policies of reconstruction and changes, and I think it is of the very greatest importance that the foundation should be laid in time, and that we should proceed with this reform of our educational system while we have the opportunity of doing so. The noble and learned Lord has made it perfectly clear that the school board system and organisation will not do for solving the educational problems of the future.

The conditions have entirely changed from the time which even I can recollect—and which, along with me, the most rev. Primate on the Bench opposite and the noble Viscount behind me will also recollect—when the age of entry into a Scottish University was about fifteen, or even lower in some cases. The essential feature of change in the last half-generation in Scotland has been the raising of the age for entrance into the Universities. During this time, as we all know, education has made great advances, and much higher attainments are now required for entrance into Universities, training colleges, and other similar institutions than was the case fifteen or twenty years ago. If one thing is more certain than another it is this, that the parish is no longer possible as a basis for the organisation of education, as it was someyears ago.

It is eighteen years since I myself was enthusiastic enough to propose a Bill of reform. Lord Dunedin, my successor in office, followed in 1904, but it was not till 1908 that any emendation of the old system, established in 1872, was found possible. Even that was essentially a compromise, and I can truthfully say it was a compromise which prepared the way for the present Bill. As the noble and learned Lord has told you, the object of Part I of this Bill is to set up a county authority for education, and that county authority will amalgamate and centralise both the powers of the school board and the secondary education committee. I entirely agree with what was said, that the one possible area for education in Scotland is the county. It is not perfect—there is some difficulty in certain places owing to the divisions of counties, the merging of populations in valleys, and the difficulties of transference across country for education—but, taking it all round, I am certain that no other area is possible.

I am very glad indeed that the authority is to be an authority for educational purposes alone, and that it will deal with education as a whole in all its aspects, primary, secondary, and technical. The noble and learned Lord passed over one point. He very rightly condemned the cumulative vote, but he did not explain to your Lordships as fully as I should have liked that the system of election for these new secondary education authorities will be that which is known as proportional representation. It will be a very interesting feature of this Bill, when it becomes an Act, to prove, as I humbly think, how excellent a method that will be of getting an exact reflex in the authority of the proportions of opinion among the different divisions in the electorate.

As the noble and learned Lord said, the second Part of the Bill is strictly educational. It raises from fourteen to fifteen the normal age for leaving school, but I am glad it continues the power of exemption from the full obligation of attendance. The idea, I think, which underlies that proposal is that those who are excused from full-time attendance, in order that they may engage in work useful for themselves, are to continue under the obligation to give a certain attendance in each year at continuation classes in order to prevent what has been acquired being lost and forgotten, as has been too often the case in existing circumstances. Personally, I find it impossible to attach too much importance to that safeguard, and I sincerely hope that in its main features it will be preserved in this Bill. But, on the other hand, those who have shown a real aptitude for education will under this Bill have much greater facilities for continuing their studies. Then again it is perfectly obvious that, as there cannot be a suitable school in every parish to carry the children up to the age of seventeen or eighteen, it most be under the larger area of the county. I need not go over the point again, but the noble and learned Lord made a most satisfactory allusion to the liberal provisions which are made in Clause 5 of the Bill for enabling a clever child to pursue his or her studies.

On one point in regard to this matter of attendance I think we might have a little more elasticity than is given in the Bill. I will not go into details now, but I shall give notice of Amendments with a view of making the transfer from the present system to the new one a little more gradual and a little more elastic than it is under this Bill. I hope that the precedents of the English Bill will be followed in one important particular, and that the period of bringing the new scheme into operation will be extended to seven instead of three years. And I really think that if more trust, more power, more authority, are given to the local committees they may be thoroughly trusted in Scotland not to use their power in a wrong way.

Another important feature of the Bill, to which I for one give my most cordial welcome, is that bringing in of the voluntary schools under the education authority. The noble and learned Lord said that about one-seventh of the school population belonged to those two Churches whose members have found it difficult in some cases to send their children to the public schools. So far as the Roman Catholics are concerned, that difficulty, of course, is almost universal; but I am glad to think that in many districts the Episcopalian children have been able to take their education in the public schools under proper safeguards for religious instruction. I think in this case in Scotland we have never been quite so dogmatic or quite so divided into sections as has been the case in England. I remember in one case, when I was Secretary for Scotland, visiting one of the Western Islands, in which 75 per cent. of the population was Roman Catholic There was a Protestant majority on the school board; the head teacher was a Roman Catholic; the religious education in that school was given in different rooms; and the whole staff, without regard to creed or other differences, took part in the secular education. That may have been an exceptional case; but I saw it myself, and know that it was carried out with success.

But the real reason for this change is a very important one. It is the growing cost of education which makes it necessary. This improvement in education and its consequent cost imposes a continually increasing burden upon these communities for maintaining their separate schools. The result is—I use these words with no reproach to them; they are the victims of circumstances for which they are not responsible—that they have been quite unable to keep pace with the public schools as regards efficiency and remuneration of teachers. If it is the case that the education given in these voluntary schools was really inferior to that given in the public schools; the lower standard was therefore unjust to the children concerned; and I say frankly and fearlessly that it is in the national interest as well as in the interest of these children themselves that a cure should be found for that difficulty. I believe that no other way of effecting this object can be made available than by bringing these children compulsorily under the new authorities, and that this will secure adequate maintenance from the rates and from the grants. But at the same time this Bill provides, as it ought to provide, efficient safeguards for the continuance of the distinct religious instruction which they rightly value so highly.

There have been other points involved in this discussion. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack explained to your Lordships what is known in Scotland as "use and wont," and some people think that use and wont, the prevailing form of religious instruction in Scotland, is put at a disadvantage under this Bill; that it is voluntary only, whereas the other two Churches have obtained a certain amount of compulsory power. It seems to me that under Clause 8 those of us who are Pres- byterian have obtained as much as is necessary for our protection. We are in a large majority, and if the majority want to continue the system of use and wont they have power to do it. I know enough of my fellow-countrymen to know that if they are told they can have a thing if they want it they will very likely take it, but if they are told that they must have it whether they want it or not they are likely to rebel, and to look upon the system with less favour than they otherwise would. But I do not think that the majority in Scotland can complain if they are given the power to do a thing when it rests with them whether or not they will have it carried into effect.

There are some subordinate provisions in the Bill for setting up what are called advisory councils—one to the Department and one to the education authorities. I think I should not be wrong in saying that these provisions are rightly and purely experimental. I hope I am not going too far when I say that I am not in the least in love with them. I think that if you have a right selection of the people concerned the councils will not do much harm, and it is possible that they may be helpful in some way. At all events, they will perhaps do something to allay a sort of feeling in the country that they are being too much governed from a central authority. But I have an apprehension that the class of people who will find seats on these advisory councils will be those who will occupy their time in giving advice without regard to the possibility of always carrying it into effect without other difficulties; and I have a great dread—perhaps it is gained from official experience—of people who have power to give advice but not responsibility for the result of the advice which they give. However, the Department and the House of Commons have resolved to have these advisory councils, and probably what is brought into force permissibly in these circumstances it is better for us to leave alone.

I do not think that I need say more about the Bill. There are some details to which I shall want to call your Lordships, attention when we get to the Committee stage, but it will be only waste of time to go over the ground now. I will end, as I began, by saying that as far as I am concerned I give a cordial welcome to this Bill.


My Lords, I see that the noble and learned Viscount (Lord Haldane) is going to say something, and I will not stand for more than a few moments between the House and him. I should like to add my tribute to the admirable character of this Bill. I have read it with care, and I find it extraordinarily interesting, apart from the technical points of administration, as a contribution to the discussion of the larger educational problems with which both in England and in Scotland we have been trying to deal. It covers, of course, a wider area of what have been, in England at all events, controversial elements of educational polity and discussion than the recent Bill passed through Parliament. Some of the provisions which this Bill contains seem to me to be likely to be of exceedingly high value when the time comes—as it must come—for dealing with those parts of our English educational problems which were quite rightly left outside the purview of Mr. Fisher's Bill when it was going through Parliament.

I believe that Mr. Fisher acted rightly in the course he took in leaving out from his Bill some matters which would inevitably have caused considerable difference of opinion. But I believe when the time comes for handling the matter, no small help will be discovered in the provisions which have been with great skill and perfect fairness drawn up in this Bill for dealing with a corresponding problem in Scotland. I say "a corresponding problem in Scotland"; but it is, of course, as the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has reminded us, on a much smaller scale—that is to say, the number of what are called voluntary schools is a very much smaller affair in Scotland than in England. But none the less the principles laid down with great clearness and lucidity seem so absolutely fair in the provision they make that the educational efficiency of the schools shall be in every way tested, and yet that the religious wishes of parents shall be considered, that I feel most thankful that this is likely to become law before there arises the question—which will have to be considered before very long—with regard to English educational matters.

The clauses in many sections which deal with the continuation classes seem to me, again, to be admirably drawn, and calculated to meet their purpose in a very remarkable way. If I am not mistaken—I say it with all respect—I think that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack accidentally made one slip in what he said in describing the Bill in his very lucid account of it. He spoke of the continuation classes being held in the evening. I am glad to say that the Bill provides that they should not be held in the evening, unless by special sanction given in special circumstances. It is of the greatest possible importance, as we all know, that continuation classes shall not be held at an hour when they would be attended by those who are already tired by a day's work. As in England, so in Scotland. The continuation classes must be attended during what are called the ordinary working hours of the day, and not when those working hours are over and the young person receiving the continuation class help is already fatigued. The provision is quite clear as it stands.

I should like to call attention to what seems to me—I do not know whether I am mistaken—a novel and certainly most striking addendum to educational legislation, the provision for providing books not only for children but for grown-up people in a parish. Nothing could possibly be better or more characteristic of Scotland's wisdom in educational matters than to extend the educational period to the end of a person's life. Any adult inhabitant of any parish may have the advantage of having his or her education continued, up to four score years if need be, by the aid of what this Bill empowers the parish to provide in the way of literature. It may be allowed to subscribe to libraries. That is continuation carried out in its true sense. It is education which is not to end at any special period of life, but to be carried on throughout all the years that the man or the woman needs for adding to the knowledge which he or she already possesses. I do not want to detain your Lordships at this hour, but I should not like this Bill to pass its Second Reading without saying, as one who has been keenly interested in educational matters for a great many years, how admirably it seems to me to have been drawn up, and how well calculated it is to fulfil the purpose which is in view.


My Lords, my attitude towards this Bill is as friendly as that of the most rev. Primate who has just addressed the House. I do not propose to follow the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, or my noble friend who sits near me, over the points of the Bill. It is not necessary. I only wish to make a few observations. The real im- portance of this Bill is not its clauses and provisions, taken by themselves, but the fact that it provides a skeleton on which a living organisation develops. The organisation is a very living one in Scotland, and the framework of this Bill is what it is because Scotland has reached the point which has not been reached in England, which has not been reached easily even in Wales, with the result that you could not have brought forward this Bill in either of those two parts of the United Kingdom.

I will make good in a moment what I have just said, but I wish to say first that I think this Bill would have been better if it had been possible for the Government to adhere to the first form in which they brought it in. The first form in which they brought it in, instead of setting up ad hoc school authorities in the different counties and county boroughs, proposed to do what was done with the Education Act in England in 1902—to take the borough and county councils and to give to statutory committees of those councils the powers of educational authorities. The great underlying advantage of that was that it gave a new importance to the county borough and county councils. It made them more akin to local parliaments, with living things to talk about.

What we in Scotland have suffered from, and are suffering from horribly, is that our county councils and even our town councils are in too many cases run in the counties by factors and farmers and people who do not trouble themselves about the most idealistic side of social organisation, and in the towns and cities by persons who have not that keenness which we could desire, and one of the things which I looked forward to when I read the first form of the Bill as it was brought in was that the Government were at last in earnest with the policy of devolution from Parliament to subordinate local authorities which thereby would get a new life, acquire new living interests, and develop into an importance which would tend to relieve Parliament of much that overburdens it to-day. That course was not taken because of the outcry of what is called "our people." I have been in Parliament thirty-three years, and I have never known any good thing carried without the voice of what is called "our people" coming in and being a source that marred it. You attend to what a few very earnest people say, professing that they speak in the name of the whole community, and they only speak in the name of the whole community because, owing to the absence of instruction, the people do not understand the point put to them. I feel confident that if the people of Scotland had understood that this Bill was the beginning of the enlargement of the functions and importance of the town and county councils you would have had a very different attitude towards it from that which has resulted from the question being treated as merely one of education. However, there are the bodies. They are not wholly new, because there were county committees on higher education before, and I have no doubt that the thing will work very well. But for myself, I think that a great opportunity of the wider problem being dealt with of relieving Parliament has been missed by the departure from the course which was taken, doubtless because the Secretary for Scotland could not bring himself to do otherwise in the face of the only public opinion that he had to deal with.

The Bill as it stands is a very good one. And why is it a very good Bill? Because it unifies the whole system of education, as the most rev. Primate has pointed out, even to the provision of books for adults, bringing something of the beginning of adult education, a subject which has been taken up by the Workers Education Association and other bodies in this country, but which up till now has received no support from the State except what is given in this Bill. That is not all. The Bill recognises the unification of the whole system of education in Scotland. The Act of 1908 had gone a good way towards breaking down altogether the supposed line of demarcation between primary and secondary education. We do not know what that line of demarcation means in Scotland, and this Bill obliterates anything there was before.

Moreover, besides this Bill and alongside it, and in anticipation of its passing, great changes have been going on. The noble Lord who sits near me (Lord Balfour of Burleigh) spoke of the extension of the period of being at school and the consequent retardation of the age of going to the Universities. That is quite true, and it is because of the very inportant system which is largely due to the labours of the Scottish Education Department. You could not have brought forward this Bill, you could not have had the life and vitality that there is in Scotland in the whole educational system, were it not for the fact that in Scotland you have a really excellent system of secondary schools. I wish we had it in England. We have not even approached it. In Wales the situation is far from perfect, but in Scotland secondary education has developed, and the functions of the State in connection with secondary education are constantly developing also. What has been the result? Why, lately the whole of the teachers in Scotland, elementary and secondary and some of the University teachers, came in and unified themselves into one great organisation. The teaching profession in Scotland has not got any of the trade unionism which is apt to result when you take a section of the elementary teachers and band them together, almost exclusively concerned with questions of salary. You have there a much larger body with a magazine which is a perfectly admirable production, and showing a guiding spirit in education which is of the utmost importance to the State.

On the Table of this House there has lain for some time an Ordinance which was made under the provisions of the Scottish Universities Act, 1889. It has lain on the Table, and I am confident that there are only two of your Lordships who have read it—my noble friend who sits here (Lord Balfour of Burleigh) and myself. The purpose of that Ordinance was to make a revolution in the relation between the schools and the Universities in Scotland, and it has now received the Royal Assent and the revolution will take effect. Because we have a good system of elementary schools we have been able to abolish altogether what is understood in England by matriculation examinations. In Scotland a normal mode of access to the University will be the record of three years' attendance in one of these secondary schools of which I spoke and with which this Bill deals. And on the certificate of the teacher—on what the teacher records of his observation of the pupil, countersigned by the observation of the inspector—will depend the right of access of that pupil to the University. The young man or the young woman will be taken in the University on that certificate without any matriculation examination. The boundary of the University, in other words, is made to join on to the boundary of the secondary school. This is a great step that could only have been taken because of the development which has taken place in secondary education in Scotland, and which this Bill recognises and stimulates, and I think it is an object lesson to the whole country. You could not do that in England, because you would debar a very large number of people from access to the University. You have not got the secondary schools to make it possible. You would shut out the lower-middle and poorer classes altogether.

But that is not all. Right through the tendency is to make the whole of education one in which the passage from elementary to higher forms is a matter of course. With the bursaries of which my noble friend spoke, and with the new arrangements that are taking place in the country, a great change is in operation. If you go to a Scottish railway station near a village any morning at half-past eight you will see the platform of the station crowded with children who are going into the nearest town where they can get the higher form of school than the School Board school in their village, and the system is developing of sending the children to the neighbouring secondary schools at every turn. That will be stimulated and developed by the provisions of this Bill, and with its stimulation and development come the raising of the level of the whole system, because the requirements of the secondary school react on the efficiency of the elementary school.

There has been some reference to the continuation school, and I was glad that the most rev. Primate interposed to make clear what the continuation system means. It means in Scotland what it means in England. It means that when education stops in the ordinary sense then the boy or girl going on to the workshop is going to be instructed compulsorily during the day and instructed compulsorily in a way which I think it is to our credit in this country to have introduced. Compulsory schools—trade centres, as they used to be called—were well known on the Continent, and it was from the Continent that we borrowed the idea, but we have taken a method of our own in connection with these schools. Instead of their being simply schools where a trade is taught this Bill enables you, if you look at the general words and the etceteras which have been put in, to teach almost anything in the continuation schools.

First of all, great stress is laid on English language and literature. That is quite right. It is the subject with which you can do most under these conditions. But you may add almost anything else you like that is suitable for a general education. Then comes in the reference to the special education of the young workman and the young workwoman. But this gives room for the teaching being what is called in technical language significant teaching—that is, teaching by which you can get in a great deal of science, perhaps a great amount of literary excellence, and many things which do not come under the head of technical training at all, giving life to the work of a young person, who is naturally interested because it bears closely on the interpretation of what he or she is concerned with in daily life. So that the continuation school is much more than a technical school; it is really a continuation of primary education, and it has the possibility of crossing over, by means of bursaries, to the full secondary course and the University course beyond that.

I do not desire to occupy your Lordships' time any longer with a Bill about which, I think, we shall probably all be agreed. Only one word about the religious question. A very sensible settlement has been made. We always make sensible settlements on questions of this kind in Scotland. If the advice of those had been taken who wanted to make religious education compulsory in the schools you would have had an outcry, an uprising from the teachers. You cannot do it without imposing indirectly, however little it may be, a test upon the teacher; the education authority is bound to look to their religious instead of their technical qualifications. With the voluntary system you avoid that difficulty. The authority takes these things into account, but it is not under the same kind of obligation as if a duty is imposed by Statute.

Another admirable feature of this Bill is the way in which it has dealt with Cat hobo and Episcopalian schools in Scotland. They are denominational schools up to the eyes, but we have taken them bodily over in Scotland without winking in the process. That could only be done by people who regarded these things with, I think, a certain sense humour. There was a great jest really in the old Scottish Education Act of 1872, to which the noble and learned Lord has referred. The preamble said that whereas it was desirable to continue the system of religious education according to use and wont in Scotland and to make provision for it in the Act—but then comes the Act with a great many clauses and not one single word about it. This time it is still more subtle. You have it in an Act that the education authorities may, if they like, continue to educate people according to use and wont. Let nobody say that a Scotsman cannot understand a joke when the whole people has accepted a Bill which contains such a clause. But it is just the sort of Bill the people want; it will work out quite smoothly; they will take what they want, if they can get it, but if you had tried to force it down their throats, as I think some rather wanted to, they would have objected; the people of Scotland would not have had it. Anyhow, we have got a very sensible Bill, on which I think we can whole-heartedly congratulate the Government, and I hope that this will be the view which your Lordships will take.


My Lords, may I make one remark as regards the provisions for religious instruction which are contained in this Scottish Education Act? I have always upheld that religious instruction is not only the most important element in education, but that it could be settled satisfactorily if you approached the problem in a tolerant, wide-minded spirit. It appears to me that an admirable solution has been made in this present Bill, and I agree with what the right rev. Primate said, that when the occasion arises to settle the question in England I hope that similar proposals may be made. The noble and learned Lord on the woolsack who called attention to Clause 19, which deals with voluntary or denominational schools, pointed out the conditions under which they might be taken over. I should like to emphasise what he said as regards teachers, because, after all, the question of religious instruction depends on the character, capacity, and qualifications of the teacher by whom that instruction is given. And the provision under subsection (3) (ii) of Clause 19 appears to me to be a solution of the whole matter on wide-minded and tolerant principles. It is this— All teachers appointed to the staff of any such school" [that is denominational school] "by the education authority shall in every case be teachers who satisfy the Department as to qualification— And then these words appear— and are approved as regards their religious belief and character by the representatives of the church or denominational body in whose interest the school has been conducted. From a very considerable knowledge of at any rate lay opinion with regard to denominational schools in England, I am sure I may state that a provision of that kind which will safeguard the teaching in these schools by the approval as regards religious belief of the teachers by representatives of the church or denominational body in whose interests the school has been conducted would, I believe, be accepted as a satisfactory settlement of this difficult question.

And not only is there that provision, but there is a further one. In order that the religious education may be a reality there is also power to appoint a supervisor who, again, is to be approved as regards his religious belief and character by representatives of the church or denominational body. And therefore you have the two-fold guarantee—first of all, that the teachers themselves shall be properly qualified, and then that the teaching shall be supervised by a representative approved by the church or denominational body in whose interest the school has been conducted. It appears to me that by those two provisions you get a tolerant solution of any religious difficulty. It has been pointed out that perhaps the religious difficulty has been less in Scotland than in England, but I do not think that affects the principle as regards its proper solution. And, of course, it is known that in Scotland there has not been the same statutory disability as in England with regard to the method of religious teaching to be given by the local authorities.

There is only one other provision of the Bill to which I wish to call attention and that is Clause 24. Attention has already been called to it, but I am sure it is in accord with the suggestions which were adopted on a wider scale in this House as regards the electoral machinery for Parliamentary purposes. Here we have no politics to trouble us, and, as the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has pointed out, he desires that there shall be equal representation, and not the undue representation of minorities which may arise from the cumulative system. Scotland, as the noble Viscount has said, is a country of great good sense, which looks out for its own interests. What do we find? Clause 24 runs— The voting at any contested election of members of an education authority shall be according to the principle pf proportional representation, each elector having one transferable vote as defined by this Act. That is exactly the provision in terms which many members of your Lordships' House sought to introduce for purposes of Parliamentary representation, and I certainly congratulate Scotland on having, as I understand, unanimously introduced it into their Education Bill, thereby getting the best possible system o fair representation of the persons concerned.

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