HL Deb 01 December 1931 vol 83 cc229-31

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this Bill, which I think may fairly be described as a short and non-contentious Bill, merely prolongs the life of the Commission which has been examining these endowments for the last three years, and it proposes to extend its powers for another three years. The Act of 1928 empowered the Commission to review educational endowments, giving it compulsory power to that end, except in regard to endowments given after 1920, and University, theological and Carnegie Trust endowments. Briefly, that Act enables the Commissioners to prepare draft schemes for altering the original purposes of the endowments and for applying the funds to such educational purposes, mental or physical, moral or social, as the Commissioners think fit, having regard to the public-interest and to existing conditions, social and educational. Further, these, schemes may also provide for grouping, amalgamating, combining or dividing such endowments, and for altering the constitution of the governing bodies. In short, it is a process of rationalisation, which is in keeping with the Education Act of 1918 wherein, in Scotland, 947 school boards were reduced in number to 35 education authorities.

The Commission reports annually to Parliament, and, for those of your Lordships who are interested, those Reports are available in the form of White Papers. The Commission has worked zealously for the last three years under the chairmanship of Lord Elgin. It now appears that a great deal of work is still to be done, and this is why this extension is sought. In this connection I may remind your Lordships that the previous Commission, that of 1882, was appointed for five years but found it necessary to sit for seven years, and it did very valuable work. There appear to be over 1,430 separate endowments of which the Commission has information. So far the Commissioners have reviewed endowments in 16 out of the 35 education areas of Scotland. They have held preliminary inquiries into 412 endowments, and have prepared about 50 draft schemes. Perhaps I should add that the guiding recommendations for the Commissioners were supplied by a Departmental Committee, which examined the question in its general bearings, and set up what they considered to be the principles according to which the work of revision of endowments should proceed. That Departmental Committee was under the chairmanship of Lord Mackenzie, with others well acquainted with conditions in Scotland. The Bill passed all its stages in another place without any comment beyond a kindly and sympathetic blessing from the Leader of the Opposition. I therefore commend it to your Lordships' House.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.)

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