HL Deb 30 June 1936 vol 101 cc287-348

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Earl De La Warr.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2:

Provisions with respect to employment certificates.

2.—(1) By-laws relating to school attendance shall not apply to any child who has attained the age of fourteen and in respect of whom an employment certificate within the meaning of this section has been granted by the local education authority of the area in which the child resides (hereinafter called the issuing authority), and is for the time being in force.

(2) An employment certificate shall be granted to the intended employer of the child, if the issuing authority are satisfied that the parent of the child desires the employment for the child and are also satisfied, after consultation with the local committee for juvenile employment, if any, and after consideration of the health and physical condition of the child, that the employment will be beneficial to the child.

(3) Every employment certificate shall state the date from which it is to have effect, and that date, unless in any particular case owing to exceptional circumstances the issuing authority otherwise determine, shall not be a date falling in a school term.

(4) The issuing authority in determining whether any employment will be beneficial shall have regard as well to the prospective as to the immediate benefit to the child, and in particular to—

  1. (a) the nature and probable duration of the employment, the wages to be paid, and the hours of work;
  2. (b) the opportunities to be afforded to the child for further education;
  3. (c) the time available to the child for recreation; and
  4. (d) the value, in relation to the future career of the child, of any training or other advantages afforded by the employment;
and the determination of the authority shall be conclusive.

(5) The issuing authority shall, as a condition precedent to the grant of a certificate, require such undertakings from the employer as they think necessary—

  1. (a) in connection with all or any of the matters mentioned in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of the last preceding subsection;
  2. (b) for enabling the authority to satisfy themselves that the employment has not, by reason of any change in the conditions of the employment or for any other reasons, ceased to be beneficial to the child;
and shall specify in the certificate the terms of any undertaking so given.

(6) Before granting a certificate relating to employment in the area of another local education authority, the issuing authority shall, unless arrangements made between the two authorities otherwise provide, give notice to that other authority of their intention to grant the certificate, and if the other authority, within seven days of the receipt of the notice, notify the issuing authority that they would not themselves hold the employment to be beneficial for children residing in that area, or that the date from which the certificate is to have effect should be determined so as not to fall in a school term of that area, the certificate shall not be granted in relation to that employment in that area, or the said date shall be determined as aforesaid, as the case may be:

Provided that no parent or employer shall incur any liability by acting on the faith of an employment certificate granted by a local education authority by reason only that the certificate was granted in contravention of the provisions of this subsection, or in breach of any arrangements made with any other local education authority.

(7) Where the parent of a child attending a secondary or other school has made a contract with a local education authority or other body whereby he undertakes that the child shall continue to attend school until at least the age of fifteen years, no employment certificate shall be granted with respect to that child without the consent of that authority or body.

LORD MOUNT TEMPLE had given notice of an Amendment in subsection (3) to leave out all words after "effect." The noble Lord said: The Amendment which I have the honour to move in the place of my noble friend Lord Bayford, in whose name as well as mine it appears on the Paper, is one which is of considerable importance to all parents and children in Great Britain and of supreme importance, as they see it, to the artisan class of Lancashire. As I read the Bill as brought from another place and submitted to us to-day, the local education committee can grant a certificate of beneficial employment to a child over fourteen so that he can leave school at a certain date if, in considering all the circumstances, they think it is not only right from the parents' point of view but, above all, is clearly good for the child himself. It is quite right and proper that the interests of the child who is mostly affected should come before anything else. But the Government have said that the date at which the child can leave school after he is fourteen shall not be a date within the school term. In effect, that means that even if beneficial employment is available for a child, he may have to stay some months at school before he can get—if I may put it in this way—his leaving certificate.

We think that is not beneficial for the child if he has good employment waiting for him, and those who are interested in Lancashire, as I am, having been for twenty years in the House of Commons as member for a Lancashire constituency, feel that the great cotton industry, which has been going through most distressing times, ought to be sheltered as much as possible—consistent, of course, with the interests of the child—from anything which would be bad for that County as a whole. I was reinforced in my view when I read a few weeks ago that a thousand delegates representing the Conservative working men's clubs in Cheshire and Lancashire had unanimously passed at their meeting at Blackpool a resolution that this restriction should be removed, and that if the local education authority after consultation with the appropriate people—juvenile committees I think they are called—thought it would be better for a child to leave school, he should be able to do so at once, or within a fortnight or a month. At any rate the committee should not have to wait for the remainder of the term before the child could be released from attending school.

There are several special circumstances in connection with the cotton trade which I am informed make this Amendment particularly desirable in Lancashire. Cotton operatives must have a certain number of juvenile assistants to enable them to carry on their work. Therefore anything which would interfere with the flow of juveniles into cotton spinning would be bad for the trade. Indeed, it has happened not infrequently that adults have been thrown out of employment because they could not get juveniles in sufficient numbers to assist them. I am told also, and I think it is true, that cotton spinning is a very technical trade, and the sooner a child begins to learn the trade the better. Lastly, but not of least importance, if the Bill is passed as it stands you will have a spate of candidates for entrance into the cotton trade in one week or one month and then a lull, so that there will be danger of an over-supply at one moment and an under-supply at another. Such a position would be bad for the children and bad for the trade. Therefore the Amendment for which I ask support is one which would put trust in the local education authority, and trust in the committees that they have to consult, not to do anything to hurt the child, so that if he has the prospect of beneficial employment which is likely to stand by him through his life he shall not have to wait for perhaps two or three months after reaching the age of fourteen before he can take it.

I ask your Lordships to brush aside prejudice and not to treat this Amendment as a "try-on" to whittle down the Bill. We are not trying to whittle down the Bill. We are trying to meet facts and to adjust conditions to the facts without hurting the children in any way. It always seems to me that our main system or idea of education is wrong. At the present moment, broadly speaking, you give all the children the same teaching, the same opportunity of learning. We should recognise that everybody cannot be an Archbishop of Canterbury, everybody cannot be a Prime Minister, everybody cannot be at the top of the tree and only a few can reach it, even if there are others who are qualified. The great mass of the people in this country have to do humdrum work for which a certain amount, and a certain amount only, of education is necessary. When you come across, as you do sometimes, a particularly brilliant child, do everything you can for that child: pay for his education altogether, right up to and through the University; stimulate his brains and pay for that stimulation. Teach the others, however, more solid things which will be useful to them in after-life.

I anticipate the answer that we shall be stifling the future of the child by allowing this Amendment to go through. The truth is just the reverse, especially if we change our educational policy at the same time, because then we shall take the brilliant child and finance it at the nation's expense. We have free compulsory education; we have had it since 1870, and a very good thing it has been. But let us go a little further, be more broad-minded, take a bigger view, and see that the child of the poorest, just like the child of the rich, gets an opportunity of going to the top of the educational tree if he really deserves it. On the other hand, do not let us waste a great deal of money and energy in giving education on certain things which can be no use to the child in after-life in the ordinary humdrum trades. Therefore I hope that the Committee will not regard this Amendment with suspicion but judge it on its merits. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 33, leave out from (" effect ") to the end of the subsection.—(Lord Mount Temple.)


In order to save Lord Askwith's Amendment, I will put it in this way: That the words "and that date" stand part of the clause.


There is one point which I should like to make in support of my noble friend's Amendment. These children are going to make their livelihood out of cotton and it is very necessary that they should enter as early as possible in order to get that delicate sense of touch which is So necessary in that trade.


I am sorry to differ from my noble friend who has moved this Amendment, because I am moving another Amendment to this same clause in which I wish to leave out certain of the words which he also proposes to leave out, tightening up the clause so as not to permit such exemption as may be allowable at the present time in cases where it can possibly be avoided. What my noble friend wishes to do is much wider. He talked of action consistent with the welfare of the child. I think his was one of the strongest employers' speeches which I have heard for some time in this House, and it was chiefly in favour of the cotton industry, which has not been remarkable for the way in which it has treated young children during its history. I should say that while he has advocated that we should not look at his Amendment with suspicion, his speech rather suggests that we should regard it with considerable suspicion.

One hears of "catching them young," but he proposes to catch these children in the middle of a school term, when the principle of this Bill is to extend the school age from fourteen to fifteen and not to exploit the children in the interests of the employers or to satisfy every demand that may come, as if the wheels of industry must depend upon child labour, from a particular employer wishing to have a child for a particular berth. The principle of the Bill is to avoid the upsetting influence which would arise from breaking into the school term, and to allow the children to complete the full school term for which Parliament is proposing that they should have an extension of time. I most strongly oppose the Amendment, and I think it would be fatal both to the principle of the Bill and to everything that every social worker who has dealt with the hours of these young people knows to be essential.


I should like to say one word on this Amendment because it affects not only the industries already mentioned but also country pursuits, and particularly agriculture. It cannot be stressed too strongly that, unless a boy puts his hand to the plough at a very early age, as soon as he is able to leave school under existing conditions, he does not become a good agricultural worker. Nobody can say that the National Government has not done a great deal for agriculture, nor can anybody say that the noble Earl in charge of this Bill does not understand agriculture. But I do say that in this matter it is very important that you should not drive boys out of the country into the towns by leaving it too late for them to take up agriculture. It is essential that anybody who goes into agriculture should start early, otherwise he loses that handiness to which the noble Viscount, Lord Bertie, has just referred. I would plead that something should be done to recognise in this Education Bill that agriculture stands in very special need of sympathetic treatment from the local authorities who will administer this Bill when it becomes an Act.

My main fear is that some local authorities may not realise this and that they may make a stereotyped rule and say that nobody shall be exempted except in very special circumstances. Some special sympathy should be shown to agriculture, because one of the prime evils to-day is that the rural areas are being depopulated simply because children take to town employment sooner than one would desire. Therefore one wishes to give every encouragement to keep agricultural or country-bred children on the land, so as to be able to carry on the great agricultural industry of which this country is in very much need and which, during the War, as we all know, was shown to be very necessary indeed. I hope, therefore, that the noble Earl in charge of the Bill will be able to say something in sympathy with agriculture on this clause.


Before the noble Earl replies, I should like to say a word. I do not propose to deal for a moment with that important general aspect of the question which has been spoken of by the noble Marquess who has just sat down, but I want your Lordships to consider this proposed Amendment from the point of view of the school itself and of the teacher. Imagine the position of the teacher who is dealing with a class where a child may leave during the actual term in which the education is arranged, and the other children may all be expecting to leave at any moment if by chance what is called beneficial employment arises. It would be quite impossible for any teacher to carry through his work with any chance of success or benefit to the children unless they were kept at school at least for a particular school term. This is the very utmost concession that has been made by the Government in the matter of exemptions, and I hope that the present arrangement will be maintained, even if we do not strengthen it, as has been suggested.


During the speech of the noble Marquess I had to remind myself several times that the point which we were discussing is a point as to whether a few children shall or shall not be kept at school for not more than two or three months, as is provided in the Bill. I listened with great sympathy to the noble Marquess's plea for the agricultural industry, as indeed I listened with great sympathy to the noble Lord's plea for the cotton industry, but I find it extraordinarily difficult to believe that the agricultural or operative skill of children is going to be affected by their being kept at school for an extra two or three months until they have completed the term. As an old schoolmaster I can most fully confirm every word that fell from the most reverend Primate as to the upsetting effect upon the school and the children of their being withdrawn during a term.


I think the debate has shown very clearly the dilemma in which the Government found themselves, and if your Lordships will read the subsection as drafted I think you will appreciate the extraordinarily skill with which we have endeavoured to deal with that dilemma. First of all we had to decide on which side we were, and we took the view, from the beginning, that we were on the side of the child and the school—that it was to the interest of education as a whole, and the running of the school, and therefore of the life of the child, that in normal circumstances there should not be this continual drifting out of school during the period of the term, which has been mentioned by the most reverend Primate and by Lord Iddesleigh. At the same time, having come to that decision, we had to realise that there are these very real difficulties connected with certain industries. Lord Mount Temple mentioned cotton, and Lord Aberdeen mentioned the difficulty of agriculture, and we do recognise that there are certain cases in which it is very difficult to compel a child to sacrifice a job which may well not turn up again. There, I think, is the true criterion by which the local authorities should be guided. There are these words in Clause 2 (3): "and that date, unless in any particular case owing to exceptional circumstances the issuing authority otherwise determine, shall not be a date falling in a school term." Surely that qualification gives the noble Lord, Lord Mount Temple, I will not say more than he wants, but everything he can possibly want, and I repeat that I think the criterion is how long a job is likely to last. Can the job wait? If the job can wait I cannot see the slightest reason why the employer cannot wait.

Certainly, from the point of view of the large employer, from what I know and from what many have said, they are anxious to see increased orderliness of entry into industry. They recognise that all the children leaving at the end of term creates a spate of labour and gives them larger choice. Of course we recognise that there is the small tradesman who may lose a boy and want another boy at once. If in that case there is a job which will not wait, then that might be considered an exceptional circumstance. There is also no reason why a special case arising in the agricultural industry should not claim to be counted as an exceptional circumstance. I have discussed this with a large farmer, farming over 2,000 acres, and we agreed that a large number of boys under fifteen years of age are a nuisance on a farm. Still I know that that is not the view of the agricultural industry as a whole. That point, however, is met by the words which I have read, and I urge the noble Lord not to press his Amendment. I would draw his attention to the fact that the whole pressure right throughout the passage of the Bill, both in the country and in another place, has been in the opposite direction, and I think it is likely, if there is a Division on either of these two conflicting Amendments, that the noble Lord may find that so far from his Amendment being carried the other is more likely to be carried. I, personally, would express a hope that neither is going to be pressed, and that the very reasonable compromise adopted by the Government will remain.


I understand the noble Earl to say that a job can wait, but he seems to forget that adults may thereby be put out of employment during that time. There is another point. He says that if there are exceptional circumstances the authority may give a certificate, but in different districts different authorities may take different views.


If an adult is going to be put out of a job that is an exceptional circumstance which will have to be considered by the authority, and nobody but the local education authority, with full knowledge of the various needs of their district, could possibly deal with this.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

LORD ASKWITH moved, in subsection (3), to leave out "unless in any particular case owing to exceptional circumstances the issuing authority otherwise determine." The noble Lord said: The words I propose to leave out the noble Earl who has just spoken rather puts forward as being words which would save the industries to which Lord Mount Temple and Lord Aberdeen have alluded. On the contrary, I think that they are very mischievous words indeed, and I should like to have them taken out of the Bill, if that be at all possible, as well as Clause 5, which Lord Sanderson is moving to omit from the Bill, thus leaving it to the decision of the local authorities in very hard cases, such as a mother having another child, or in case of death, to give short time during school term during which a child might be absent. The principle of the Wage-earning Committee for Children, which committee has been in existence for years, and the council of which wrote a very strong letter to The Times some weeks ago, is that you should as far as possible protect the term and should not give licences for a child to be taken away in the middle of term, except with the approval of the authority in exceptional circumstances. In that way you would avoid breaking up the confidence of the teachers, and would secure the advantage of the child in the future.

I say the advantage of the child in the future. Let any noble Lord recall his own early days. What babies we were at the age of fourteen. At the age of fifteen one began to look round a great deal more, considering who would get the next cap at football or cricket. I am sure that these children would be much safer in getting the extension of education up to the age of fifteen if this loop-hole did not exist which plays havoc with the principle of the Bill. The bright boy will be taken away before he has a chance of being reasonably grounded, and he will become at that age a little more of a man. The girl will be taken away simply because she is a useful help to her mother in the house. She will thus lose that opportunity of really learning to read and write or of putting a finish to the knowledge she has acquired, instead of forgetting it all and beginning to be a woman before it is time for her to be a woman.

The history of child labour has been a hard one through many generations, and since the day when Captain Coram founded the Foundling Hospital and the Masters of the Temple took in the foundling children which were left on their steps, up to the time when the first Sir Robert Peel took some interest in child labour and Lord Shaftesbury and his friends made their efforts and then down to the social legislation of more recent times, the principle of protecting the child and giving it a chance has had a very uphill task. I would ask your Lordships not to go back now and, when this opportunity occurs of raising the age to fifteen, not to make so many loopholes in it that it will be of no effect. The criticism made of this Bill, not only in Parliament but by social workers, by those who know all about the lives of children, and by many local authorities and others, is that it is a Bill which does not really give education up to the age of fifteen, but only pretends to do so. If you could only tighten up the exemptions a bit more, it is a Bill for which the country might be grateful. If Clause 5 is subsequently left out, this Amendment would so alter the principle of the Bill that the child would not be given exemption and leave school directly any employment offers, but he would only leave school before the age of fifteen for very urgent reasons indeed. Under the Bill as drafted large numbers of children will be taken from school directly they are fourteen, to be involved in long hours of hard work to which a child of that age cannot possibly apply himself if he is to have any time for physical exercise or reasonable amusement. The principle should be turned the opposite way round to that which is suggested in the Bill. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 33, leave out from the second (" date ") to (" shall ") in line 35.—(Lord Askwith.)


May I add one further and, to my mind, very direct consideration to the arguments so eloquently put forward by my noble friend Lord Askwith? If we accept this Amendment we shall be doing something to alleviate the enormous burden of work which we are already putting on the shoulders of local authorities and the employees of local authorities. The amount of work that will be required to deal with the undoubtedly very numerous applications for exemption at the end of term which will come before the local authorities is already great. But if, throughout the period of the term, they are to be asked to give immediate decisions upon further applications for immediate withdrawal, the amount of work which the employees of the local education authorities will have tot do will be positively stupendous. I very much doubt whether His Majesty's Government have given sufficiently full consideration to this administrative aspect of the Bill, and I do plead that my noble friend's Amendment should be accepted in those interests which I have outlined.


I hope later on in the debate to be able to persuade your Lordships to cut out this clause altogether, but in case I fail in the undertaking, which I suppose is just possible, we want to make the Bill as good as we can, and we think that this Amendment improves the Bill. It tightens it up, as the noble Lord says; it closes up some very unfortunate loopholes. It will make the Bill more in the interests of the children than it is at present. If the noble Lord takes the Amendment to a Division we on this side shall support him.


With none of the merits of the arguments that have been put forward by my noble friend Lord Askwith, or indeed the other noble Lords who have spoken, would I venture to disagree for a single moment. It is quite obvious from the point of view of the child and of the school, and it is obvious from what we all said on the last Amendment, what would be the best thing to do. But in all these cases we have to use a certain amount of judgment and consider how far we can carry the public of this country. There is no doubt one merit of this Bill is the extraordinary amount of good will we have been able to get together out of the great religious controversies of the past. Similarly, I think it is going to mean a very great deal for the successful working of this Bill if we can carry with us those sections of industry which, though they are, in the opinion of many noble Lords who have spoken, mistaken, nevertheless still hold that it is vital to them in certain circumstances to have this assistance for their industries. There is no doubt that at the present moment if we were to take out this provision, as the noble Lord

suggests, it would arouse a spirit of controversy and bitterness, not merely among employers but among a great number of workpeople, which would really prejudice the working of the Bill. Therefore, while I fully admit the merits of the case that have been put up, I think we have really arrived at the wisest compromise on what is a very difficult issue.

Those of your Lordships who listened carefully to what the noble Lord said would probably feel that Lord Askwith ought really to be prepared to admit that, because I noticed that in his speech, having expressed his opinion, he spoke of the discretion of the local authority, and later on, said children would only leave school before the age of fifteen for "very urgent reasons indeed." To that extent he was really speaking in favour of this particular subsection, because what are the words in the Bill? …unless in any particular case owing to exceptional circumstances… Surely those words are as close to the words which the noble Lord used as could possibly be devised. I hope your Lordships will feel that this particular provision is vital from the point of view of the child and of the school and that we have, without definitely tying them down, given local education authorities such a very strong lead by the use of these words that what the noble Lord, Lord Askwith, desires will very largely be obtained.

On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the clause?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 55; Not-Contents, 19.

Hailsham, V. (L. Chancellor.) Selborne, E. Howard of Glossop, L.
Hutchison of Montrose, L.
Halifax, V. (L. Privy Seal.) Bertie of Thame, V. Lawrence, L.
Argyll, D. FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Luke, L.
Northumberland, D. Goschen, V. Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)
Hambleden, V. Mount Temple, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)
Exeter, M. Phillimore, L.
Zetland, M. Swinton, V. Rankeillour, L.
Trenchard, V. Rennell, L.
Airlie, E. Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)
De La Warr, E. Amulree, L.
Lichfield, E. Avebury, L. Saltoun, L.
Lucan, E. [Teller.] Biddulph, L. Sandhurst, L.
Mar and Kellie, E. Bingley, L. Somers, L.
Minto, E. Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.) Stonehaven, L.
Munster, E. Strickland, L.
Onslow, E. Daryngton, L. Templemore, L.
Plymouth, E. Elton, L. Teynham, L.
Rothes, E. Gage, L. (V. Gage.) [Teller.] Wakehurst, L.
Sandwich, E. Glenravel, L. Wolverton, L.
Canterbury, L. Abp. St. Albans, L. Bp. Gainford, L.
Winchester, L. Bp. Hare, L. (E. Listowel.) [Teller.]
Iddesleigh, E.
Arnold, L. Marley, L.
Buckmaster, V. Askwith, L. [Teller.] O'Hagan, L.
Cecil of Chelwood, V. Boston, L. Sanderson, L.
Mersey, V. Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) Stanmore, L.
Strabolgi, L.
London, L. Bp.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

LORD ASKWITH moved, in subsection (4), at the end of paragraph (a), to insert "which may not be more than forty-four in any one week." The noble Lord said: This Amendment is designed to limit the number of hours to a reasonable extent. I felt inclined to put in forty hours instead of forty-four, but as I believe a very large number of employers have a forty-hour week, I have put in forty-four hours in order to try to get some compromise such as the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, is so anxious to arrive at. The number of hours for which some of these children are now worked is perfectly preposterous, and the reports that have been made upon the matter by many people, including important officers of the Health Department, indicate that it is very unsatisfactory that such long hours should be worked. If you are going to allow children to go into employment under the age of fifteen why at once throw them into working hours in which they cannot possibly do any good work for any length of time?

I have here a quotation from a senior medical officer in which he deplores the tendency to employ young persons to the full limit of legal hours. He says: Nothing, in my mind, could be a more short-sighted policy. Mental concentration, if the work is to be performed properly, can hardly be expected to persist over the whole period at present allowed by law and when the young person is one of the cogs of the human machine composed of adults, concentration, if sustained over such a long period, can scarcely be regarded as beneficial to the development of the health of the young person or to the maintenance of output. Manufacturers consider that the maintenance of output is of importance, and they should be warned by those words.

Further, with regard to young persons (not those of the lowest age) the number of accidents among them is very great indeed. I find that the rates for accidents per 100,000 workers is 4,800 for boys against 3,530 for men, and 1,152 for girls against 938 for women. The total figures of accidents to young workers have increased from 17,100 accidents in 1933 to 21,767 in 1934. Surely that cannot be right. I am aware that there is a Committee now sitting upon the hours of work and I hope it may produce some suitable report. When you consider what it must mean to have many more hours continually worked, particularly in the Midlands and the Eastern Counties and three or four districts in London, and the probability that that is likely to go on in the immediate future, thereby taking away young people from school in order that they may enter into the circle of industrial employment, it seems certain not only that the number of unemployed people we are trying by so many means to reduce in this country may be increased but that the health of a large number of the coming generation will be considerably injured. I think that this is a most reasonable Amendment and a very fair compromise, and I hope the noble Earl will meet it with a little more condescension than he did the last Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 43, after (" work ") insert (" which may not be more than forty-four in any one week ").—(Lord Askwith.)


I hope and trust your Lordships will accept this Amendment. I did not see eye to eye with the noble Lord who moved the Amendment on the previous subsection, but I cannot conceive that this House in the year 1936 will pass a measure to allow children between fourteen and fifteen to be employed unless they limit the hours they are to be permitted to work. We have now the whole of Europe seething with discontent, and the workmen being given the grant of a forty-hour week as a maximum. We have that in Belgium and in France. Shall it be said that the House of Lords, in this year, passed a measure which would allow (as far as I can read the Bill) a committee, from which there is no appeal, to say that children shall work forty-eight hours or forty-four hours or whatever the number is? If the noble Lord will allow me to say so, I think he is extremely moderate by limiting the maximum to forty-four. Personally I should have much rather had it forty-two or even forty. I beg the Government not to return a "No" to this very reasonable request, because if we do not put in something to restrict the number of hours of labour I do not see how the British Parliament will be able to look the world in the face.


I should like to support the noble Lords who have spoken. There are something like 300,000 children in unprotected trades, and there are reports that some of them are working forty, fifty, sixty and, in a few cases, as much as seventy hours a week. Long hours of that kind make it quite impossible for them to attend any evening classes in order to obtain any kind of continuation education. Not only that, they are much too exhausted to take part in the healthy outdoor athletic recreation in which every boy ought to take part. I would venture to say to your Lordships that not one of you would dream of allowing your own boy at the age of fifteen to work eight hours a day. I do hope that the Committee will pass this Amendment.


May I also join in the appeal which has been made by the noble Lord? I am sure that the country will be behind us in the view that has been expressed. Having studied the figures in times past, I am quite satisfied that a great number of children work long hours to their own detriment and in a way that is a disgrace to the country. It ought to be stopped.


When the noble Earl replies for the Government I would ask him if he would clear up a doubt which my noble friends on this side of the House feel with regard to the Amendment. We feel very sympathetic to the Amendment, and I, personally, have been much impressed by the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Askwith, and the other noble Lords and the right reverend Prelate who have supported him. But lower down the clause says that a local authority shall have regard to the hours of the work upon which it is proposed to employ a child before granting an exemption certificate. What we are afraid of is this. If the words of the noble Lord, Lord Askwith, are put in some of the more progressive authorities may say that forty-four hours is too long and may not grant certificates unless a child is to be employed for not more than forty hours. Where we should like guidance from the noble Earl who speaks for the Board of Education is in this respect. Is there no danger that these forty-four hours may become a kind of standard to which local authorities, even the more progressive authorities, will adhere? The noble Lord, Lord Askwith, has very great experience of industrial questions and my noble friends would be very grateful to the noble Earl if he could clear up this matter.


I think it is quite clear that the Government would at least have to promise consideration of this matter. The noble Lord opposite has really raised just the sort of dilemma with which we are faced at the present moment. The Government realise that something has got to be done about the hours of child labour. That is a question which has been very much brought to the fore by this Bill. I would not for a moment on behalf of the Government question many of the facts that have been mentioned this afternoon. We all of us know from personal experience that some of them are perfectly true. The real question is whether we can deal with them appropriately within the scope of an Education Bill and whether we have really got sufficient information at the present moment for dealing with the matter. The Government's view was that it was not appropriate to an Education Bill, and that we could not go further in an Education Bill than to give permissive powers to the local authorities to deal with this matter on a local basis.

We all know that there are different circumstances in every industry. In some industries forty-four hours would be very much too long for a boy to work, but in other industries I do not think we would be very shocked at boys of fourteen or fifteen working that number of hours. At the present moment, as things stand, we are of opinion that we have gone as far as we can in legislating on this matter in an Education Bill. If we went further and put in this flat limitation of hours we might actually destroy some of the good that may be done by letting this be dealt with on a local basis. In saying this I do not want it to be thought that I am just using the customary phrase to enable Governmental evasion of a problem. The Government have already promised to introduce next year a Factory Bill which will cover this point, but we realise that a Factory Bill will not cover all the children who are at the present moment under discussion. Therefore it is very possible that proposals for limitation of hours of work elsewhere than in factories will emerge during the interval. I want to make it clear that this does not mean any delay. We are pledged to introduce a Factory Bill next year and your Lordships will remember that this Bill does not come into operation for three years. Therefore I think we may get fuller results in a very much better, more comprehensive and more considered mariner by approaching it in that way rather than by dealing with it in this admittedly very simple, but I think rather over-simplified, manner.


Does the noble Earl suggest that in a Factory Bill next year it will be possible to make arrangements for hours of work which will have general application?


No. I stressed the point that there are children outside the scope of a Factory Bill, and I am authorised to say that it is very possible that proposals for the regulation of hours outside factories will also be brought forward.


I do not wish to prolong the discussion, but I do wish to say that many of us on the Back Benches on this side of the House feel very strongly on this point. It is good to have the assurance which the noble Earl has given us, and we look to the Government to implement the promise he has made, because it is a matter which comes home very much to those of us who are associated in one way or another with the great industries.


I am still not convinced by the Government. The noble Earl says he is authorised to state that there will be a Factory Bill next year, and that when that comes up for discussion we shall be able to discuss hours of labour for children, but he has not promised a Bill which will go outside the factory population. I think before we part with this Amendment we ought to get an assurance from the Government that their legislation next year will cover all the children and not simply those engaged in factories.


I do not think that I can without further authority go beyond what I have said, but I will definitely undertake to convey the very strong feeling of the House on this subject to His Majesty's Government.


As I understand what the noble Earl has said, this does not appear to be a matter in which he can deal with the question between now and the Report stage. He cannot go back to his office and dig out material which must be there as to hours of child labour and accept an Amendment on Report. If I had any hope of his doing that I should be very glad to accept what he says. I understand that he is impressed, as he must be, by the opinion in all parts of the House that something must be done, and that there will be a Bill introduced next year dealing with factories, but I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mount Temple, that it ought not to be confined to factories. There are very large numbers of children employed outside factories, as van boys and so on; in fact there are nearly 700,000 children employed at a very young age. I am entirely against employers being allowed to exploit the young people of this country in order that they may get cheap labour to meet the demands of industry that may come with increasing prosperity. If you do that you will be ruining the future to take advantage of the present. If the noble Earl assures me that the matter will be widely inquired into I will not press this matter to a Division and will consider withdrawing the Amendment.


The scandal of long hours of labour does not so much affect children employed in factories. They are already protected to a large extent. But very excessive hours are worked in outside employment. It is therefore very important that legislation should cover children outside the factories.


I do not think I can add anything at this stage to what my noble friend has said, but I can most certainly re-emphasise his statement that the Government are fully alive to the gravity of the question and to the gravity with which all sections of the House regard it. Therefore, on behalf of His Majesty's Government I am quite prepared to reiterate what has fallen from my noble friend. While we do not think it would be appropriate to insert this Amendment in this Bill, for the reasons given by my noble friend, we shall certainly consider in the light of what has been said this afternoon what is the best way of dealing with children in and outside factories when His Majesty's Government come to frame their proposals on this matter.


In the circumstances, and with that assurance, I shall be prepared to withdraw the Amendment, because I think that a Division might give a false impression. My own idea is that there is not a single noble Lord in this House who does not agree with a great deal of what has been said, but if a Division took place now it might be that Party exigencies would require some noble Lords to vote against their consciences.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD SANDERSON moved to leave out Clause 2. The noble Lord said: During the course of the Second Reading debate on the Bill there was a great deal of discussion on the number of children who were likely to be exempted under this clause. The noble Lord, Earl De La Warr—whom, if he will allow me, I should very much like to congratulate on the honour recently conferred upon him—said that he thought the children would stay at school, on an average, until the age of fourteen years nine months. Other authorities think that the exemptions will amount to anything up to 90 per cent., and I am inclined to think that the other authorities are nearer the mark. But I am not going to argue those figures any more, because I maintain that all the children ought to remain in school up to the age of fifteen, and as this Bill stands, even if the exemptions are 25 per cent., children will be leaving school all the time all through the year and it will be quite impossible to work out a proper curriculum for them in that last year.

The noble Viscount the Leader of the House said that he thought that many children were better in industry than in school. As the schools are at present constituted, I agree with him that there are children, whom I might call "misfits," who do not gain as much as they ought to gain from school life. But surely we have to legislate for the majority and not for the misfits, and we have to reorganise the school so that the misfits can be fitted in. We have to adapt the schools to suit all kinds of children, and these exemptions make that almost impossible to do. The Bill is not coming into force for more than three years; there are therefore three years in which the schools can be reorganised and adapted to meet the needs of a great variety of children. That could be done, but these exemptions impose a tremendous stumbling-block in the way of that reorganisation and it is a great misfortune that such an opportunity should be missed owing to the existence of these exemptions. I have mentioned several times in your Lordships' House before that all the education authorities are quite definite in stating that if you want a really satisfactory post-primary education scheme it must cover the four years from eleven plus to fifteen; it cannot be worked out satisfactorily in three years with a varying portion of the fourth. That cannot be done. That is why I am so anxious that this clause should be left out, because it makes it impossible to work out a really satisfactory post-primary scheme of education.

The noble Viscount, Lord Halifax, stated that the Bill proceeded on the ordinary lines of educational history; that we always went gradually. All I can say to that is that it is a very bad way of proceeding. How does it work? It took us twenty years by that gradual method to get rid of exemptions for boys under fourteen. Is it going to take us another twenty years to get rid of exemptions for children under fifteen? I think that the mere fact that you are told that a thing must be done in a certain way because it has always been done in that way is often the strongest argument for doing it in a different way. However that may be, I cannot see why the children should be sacrificed to a traditional method of procedure.

Then a good deal was said about the parents; that they had not been considered enough. I believe that the parents, with three years in which to think about it, would be willing to let their children stay at school until fifteen, especially if they knew that the schools were going to be reorganised and made more serviceable to their children. Many of the parents who are keen on education, the working people who really think about it—and many of them are really keen and do think about education—complain that so much of the time of the children is wasted at school now, especially in their last years from eleven onwards, because a proper curriculum has not been worked out for them and there is nothing much for them to do except to go over old ground which they have already covered. If you get rid of that difficulty and work out a proper post-primary system of education you will remove much of the objection of parents to the schools and to keeping children at school until fifteen. I am quite sure that the exemptions will not add to the popularity of the schools with the parents. If the age were raised to fifteen for all children and all children were to be kept at school until fifteen, there would not be much objection, but there will be great objection to some children being kept there until fifteen and others being allowed to leave. That will be very unpopular. These are the reasons why I move that this clause be left out. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Leave out Clause 2.—(Lord Sanderson.)


It is well over a quarter of a century since I first began to follow the debates in your Lordships' House. During that, time up to the War I was present on many great occasions and I heard within these walls what will always be the greatest masterpieces of persuasive eloquence. Those memories are now traitors to me because they confirm the feeling of my own inadequacy and the necessity in which I stand of that indulgence which your Lordships are always said to accord to beginners here.

The noble Lord who has moved this Amendment deplored gradual legislation. To my mind it appears a first principle of legislation that it should be gradual, because all legislation of every kind upsets existing plans and arrangements and causes a certain amount of dislocation in society. It appears to me to require a very strong reason to disregard that. But the noble Earl who has charge of the Bill concluded his speech on the Second Reading, which I could not help admiring, by expressing his conviction that more and better education was essential to the welfare of this country. I presume that he did not mean instruction. I cannot think that the atmosphere of the school is always a very successful medium for instruction in various subjects. But I imagine that by education he meant what I mean myself, which is that training in life which enables a man to live wisely, judge clearly and avoid occasions for remorse, and which is manifested by dignity, modesty and self-restraint.

It seems to me that in this matter we are rather in the position of Rabshakeh who offered King Hezekiah 2,000 horses if he could put riders upon them; for the school teachers in this country number approximately 1 per cent. of the adult population of the country, and I do not think that such a large proportion of our countrymen is likely to be fitted by nature and attainments for the sacred task of forming the character of the child. I could possibly illustrate that point from my own experience but my illustrations would be all special cases. I have many warm friends who are schoolmasters and teachers, and I have great admiration for the work they do, but I suggest to your Lordships that practically everybody in the country who is able by nature, by training and character to undertake this work is already enlisted in the ranks of school teachers. If that is the case you have to proceed very warily for, although the Government may spend money like water, it will not have much more effect on education than those buttons contributed by the faithful on Missionary Sunday in the belief that the untutored heathen will not know the difference.

The noble Lord, in moving the Amendment, said he thought that making the age fifteen all round would do away with that lack of employment for juvenile labour which he felt was such a curse to the country. If he meant that juvenile employment which consists in taking up a boy when he first leaves school and then discarding him when he arrives at riper years I would heartily agree with him, but I would point out that this evil is accompanied by complaints throughout the country that it is impossible to get apprentices for skilled trades. This is a serious position for the country to find itself in, especially in case of war, and it appears to me that it is of national importance that exemptions should be granted to children who are going to apprenticeships in skilled trades. The noble Lord, Lord Snell, on the Second Reading expressed a wish that University education could be given to every child in the country. I am not sure that school or University education is the best education for all people. I believe that apprenticeship to a good trade or profession—I have been through both—can be just as valuable.

I look back at my own time at the University and my companions there, and on reflection it appears to me that the opinion I formed then was correct, that a very large proportion of those companions, perhaps 25 per cent., were not people who should have been at the University at all, and when I remember the broken lives of some few brilliant young men I am convinced that they would probably have been useful lives had they been subjected to the stern discipline of a trade or profession. But I think the best argument in favour of exemptions was given on the Second Reading by noble Lords opposite because it was suggested, I think from those Benches, that the parents of the children would so influence the local authorities that exemptions would become universal. I do not think that that would be true. I know many parents, as Lord Sanderson does, who take a keen interest in the education of their children.

It is customary for revolutionaries to look to the East for inspiration and when we do so what do we see? We see a great nation which has tried every new theory, more than those advocated by noble Lords opposite. And now we see them reversing the process and desperately trying to replace something which was not wedlock by wedlock, the home for the crèche, and even to restore parental authority. I have never been able to understand why over here it has always seemed to me that Governments were willing to reverse that process and to lend their aid to the substitution of concubinage for wedlock, the crèche for the home, and the education authority for the parent. It is the opinion of the common people of Scotland that Scottish education is not what it was. When we bring the matter to the point it is said that it has never been the same since the abolition of the old School Board. The old School Board represented so small a locality that for all intents and purposes it really represented the parents of the children. Lord Eustace Percy, whose name is on the back of this Bill, in an intensely interesting and able book on the present state of society, said that the future of education must lie in the closer co-operation of the parents and the education authority, and the parents must be given more say in the education of their children. Therefore, if parents are in favour of exemptions exemptions should stand part of the Bill: and I am sure that should they be deleted the Government will be going further than the people of the country are willing to follow them.


I am sure I am speaking on behalf of all your Lordships in saying how much we enjoyed listening to the speech of Lord Saltoun. Certainly he belongs to the category of spokesmen who have something very definite to say. There may be some of his remarks with which every one of your Lordships is not in complete agreement, but there was one particular line in which I am sure we shall all be in agreement with him—namely, that what we want in regard to this educational problem is a qualitative attack as well as a quantitative one. That brings us to a point that I wish to make as briefly as possible with regard to this Amendment. It is an Amendment on a very important part of the Bill. If I am a little brief in dealing with it I hope your Lordships will realise that it is only out of respect to your Lordships, as inevitably I dealt with so many essential points on the Second Reading. The real answer to this cry against exemption surely is that those of us who are interested in and enthusiastic for the cause of education have to convince the parents and the children that school is really worth while, and we all of us have to admit, just as the noble Lord, Lord Sanderson, admitted, that at the present moment many of our schools are organised on such a basis that the children, even of the ages of thirteen and fourteen, are really not getting the full benefit out of the time spent there. The merit of this Bill is that by the time the school age is raised the school system will have been completely reorganised, and we shall hope to have a school system then in which the children will want to remain, a school system about which the parents will say to one another: "It is really worth while keeping our children there longer."

The noble Lord, Lord Sanderson, complained of the argument that had been put forward by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House with regard to the historical precedent for this manner of raising the school age. He said that the fact that it had taken nearly twenty years to get the school age raised to fourteen seemed to him a very strong argument

Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Employment certificates to cease to have effect in certain cases]:


My Amendment to this clause is a drafting Amendment.

against adopting this method once more, and he asked: Are you going to take another twenty years before you raise the school age finally to fifteen? My answer to that is that it depends very largely on the local education authorities and on all education authorities, including the school teachers, as to what they are able to do with the new school system; because if they are able to convince parents and children that education is worth while having, they will have brought us very much nearer the point that I, in common, I think, with every member of your Lordships' House, feel that we should reach, when the school age can be raised to fifteen without exemptions, just as in the past it was raised to thirteen and fourteen without exemptions, knowing full well that we could carry the country with us.

On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 54; Not-Contents, 17.

Hailsham, V. (L. Chancellor.) Sandwich, E. Harris, L.
Selborne, E. Howard of Glossop, L.
Halifax, V. (L. Privy Seal.) Hutchison of Montrose, L.
Bertie of Thame, V. Killanin, L.
Argyll, D. Exmouth, V. Lawrence, L.
FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Luke, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Goschen, V. Mount Temple, L.
Exeter, M. Swinton, V. O'Hagan, L.
Zetland, M. Trenchard, V. Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)
Phillimore, L.
De La Warr, E. Gloucester, L. Bp. Rankeillour, L.
Grey, E. Rennell, L.
Iddesleigh, E. Amulree, L. Rockley, L.
Lichfield, E. Biddulph, L. Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)
Lucan, E. [Teller.] Bingley, L.
Mar and Kellie, E. Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.) Saltoun, L.
Midleton, E. Sandhurst, L.
Minto, E. Daryngton, L. Somers, L.
Munster, E. Elton, L. Templemore, L.
Onslow, E. Gage, L. (V. Gage.) [Teller.] Wakehurst, L.
Plymouth, E. Glenravel, L. Wolverton, L.
Buckmaster, V. Boston, L. Marley, L. [Teller.]
Mersey, V. Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)
Noel-Buxton, L.
St. Albans, L. Bp. Clwyd, L. Sanderson, L.
Winchester, L. Bp. Gainford, L. Stanmore, L.
Hare, L. (E. Listowel.) [Teller.] Strabolgi, L.
Arnold, L.
Askwith, L.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 14, leave out (" and ") and insert (" or ").—(Earl De La Warr.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5:

Power to permit withdrawal from school in certain cases.

5.—(1) Where the local education authority are satisfied that by reason of circumstances existing in the home of a child who has attained the age of fourteen years exceptional hardship would otherwise be caused, they may after consideration of the health and physical condition of the child give permission to the parent to withdraw the child from school upon such conditions as the authority think fit for the purpose of enabling the child to give assistance in the home, and that permission shall, unless and until the authority notify the parent that it is cancelled, be deemed to be a reasonable excuse for non-compliance with a by-law requiring the parent to cause the child to attend school.

(2) Permission shall not be given under this section for the withdrawal of a child from school save for a period ending not later than the end of the school term then current or, if permission is given in the interval between two school terms, not later than the end of the next succeeding term:

Provided that nothing in this subsection shall prohibit a local education authority from renewing a permission, if they think fit to do so, and the provisions of this section shall apply to the renewal of a permission as they apply to the giving of permission in the first instance.

LORD ASKWITH moved, in subsection (1), after "home," where that word occurs for the second time, to insert "for a period not exceeding thirty days." The noble Lord said: I am informed by people who know all about it and who have studied this question a great deal that the reason for this Amendment is particularly applicable to girls. A girl is taken away from school, and the local authority—I do not say are glad to get rid of her, but they give her leave and she never comes back again. The local authority do not pursue her to the home or see whether she is still assisting her mother or whether she is still wanted there at all. If her parents have to apply at the end of thirty days they will think twice before taking her away for a longer period and forcing her to come home quite unnecessarily. This would be a deterrent against the spate of exemptions which, under this Bill, is likely to arise, and which will really take away the whole effect of the measure as being one for the improvement of education up to the age of fifteen. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 28, after (" home ") insert (" for a period not exceeding thirty days ").


In this Amendment it is purely a question of method which we are discussing. In the House of Commons the Government very willingly and gladly accepted an Amendment which said there should not be exemption for this particular form of demand for a period longer than the end of the school term. I submit to your Lordships and to the noble Lord, Lord Askwith, that that is a more practicable method of dealing with the question. After all, the end of the school term is a definite period. Let me put to your Lordships an instance of how it might work out under the noble Lord's proposal for thirty days. Suppose a girl's mother falls very ill thirty-five days before the end of the term. The mother applies for, and obtains, this exemption for thirty days. Five days before the end of the term she has to come back and get another exemption for a further five days, and go back home. Then the holidays intervene and the term starts again, and under subsection (2) she once again has to renew the application for exemption. Your Lordships will, I think, agree that what Lord Askwith proposes is really a very clumsy method. After all, a school term is not a long period, and we do not even lay down that exemption has got to be for the whole of the school term. There may be only ten or twenty or thirty days of the school term to run, and that would be the whole extent of the exemption. I would therefore suggest to the noble Lord that by the insertion of the Amendment made in another place Clause 5 (2) deals with the point with which he wishes to deal.


I shall not press the Amendment, but I should like to see the whole clause go.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD SANDERSON moved to leave out Clause 5. The noble Lord said: I am sure your Lordships will be glad to hear that I take a rather conservative view in regard to this clause. It seems to me much better to leave the present arrangement with regard to this matter of releasing children for home duties as it stands, which is, I understand, that the local authority allow temporary exemptions in cases of emergency after very careful inquiry. That is a commonsense method which has worked very well for the last twenty years. I know the answer is that it is much better to legalise what is really an illegal practice that has grown up, but, on the other hand, the present practice is well understood. It is now well recognised that children are expected to go to school and that it is a difficult thing to get exemption for them for home duties. That is all to the good. If you make it legal for children to be exempted for home duties, that will soon get known, and when people know they have the force of law behind them, their demands for exemption will increase. It will be much more difficult for the local authority to resist demands for exemption when the law is behind the applicant than it is when exemptions are allowed on the responsibility of the local authorities alone.

If you pass this clause as it stands, you will open the door very wide to exemptions of this kind. "Home duties" is a very vague expression, and one which is very likely to be abused, especially in the case of girls. You will find that many young girls will be kept at home and may become real household drudges, sick nurses to their mothers or nurses to their younger brothers and sisters. There is a possibility also that children will be kept at home in order to add to the family earnings or release somebody else who can add to the family earnings. You may say that that can be done at the present time, but it cannot be done so easily when custom is against it as when the law is behind it. There is one other point. The children who are released for home duties will, it seems to me, be much worse off in some ways than the children who are exempted for beneficial employment, because, as far as I can discover in the Bill, there is no arrangement made for their part-time education or for their welfare. For these reasons I beg to move that the clause be left out.

Amendment moved— Leave out Clause 5.—(Lord Sanderson.)


The noble Lord, in proposing this Amendment, has really given your Lordships a much clearer picture of what might have happened under certain interpretations of the clause as originally drafted than could possibly happen in regard to the present clause. He spoke of a child leaving for inadequate reasons, becoming a household drudge, and so on. I think the best way of meeting his argument is to read the wording of the clause: Where the local education authority are satisfied that by reason of circumstances existing in the home of a child….exceptional hardship would otherwise be caused, they may after consideration of the health and physical condition of the child give permission to the parent to withdraw the child from school upon such conditions as the authority think fit…. And then they make it clear that permission can only go on to the end of the term. I submit that that is a very different picture from the one which the noble Lord has painted.

One cannot contend that in no circumstances whatsoever should girls between fourteen and fifteen be withdrawn from school for this purpose of home work. The noble Lord did admit that that already happened at the present moment. I would venture to disagree with him, and to disagree rather strongly, on the merits of this procedure. He says that we all know at present that the law is on occasions broken, but that it is very much better that it should be operated in that way than that you should give legal sanction to it. I do not agree. I do not think that is the right method of procedure for the Government of the country to adopt, or from the point of view of the child itself. From now on the child will have the protection of this clause, and if the local authorities allow a girl to be away from school for other reasons than that exceptional hardship would otherwise be caused, that would be breaking the law, and there is nothing more dangerous than having a law that people should be ready to wink at. First they wink with one eye and then with both eyes. I suggest it would be very much better to leave the clause as it is, relying on the very substantial alterations that have been made in it to make it perfectly clear that we intend at the beginning that it should only deal with exceptional cases.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Provisions with respect to bylaws made before the appointed day]:

EARL DE LA WARR moved to add to the clause: Provided that the grant of a certificate relating to employment in the area of an authority other than the issuing authority shall not be subject to the provisions of subsection (6) of the said Section two unless the said Sections two to six have been applied in that area.

The noble Earl said: This is a drafting Amendment of a clarifying nature. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 22, at end insert the said proviso.—(Earl De La Warr.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8:

Power of local education authority to make grants for enlarging, etc. non-provided schools.

(3) A local education authority shall not enter into any such agreement as aforesaid, unless they are satisfied that the carrying out not later than one year after the appointed day of the proposals with respect to which the agreement is made—

  1. (a) will provide increased accommodation for senior children rendered necessary by the raising of the school leaving age to fifteen years; or
  2. (b) will give effect in relation to senior children to arrangements for improving the organisation of education in the area of the authority; or
  3. (c) will provide accommodation required for practical or advanced instruction for senior children.

THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY moved, in paragraph (b) of subsection (3), after "will," to insert "whether directly or indirectly." The most reverend Primate said: I venture to think this is both a reasonable and an important Amendment. Let me at once guard against any possible misconception. Your Lordships will see that the Amendment occurs directly in respect to the words "in relation to senior children." Therefore let me make it quite clear that the Amendment does not contemplate or in any way propose the extension of public building grants to junior schools generally. Its scope is very much more limited, but the circumstances with which it deals may very frequently arise. Suppose that an existing non-provided school is to be built or equipped or reconstructed in order to serve as a senior school. In very many cases that will mean that a large number of junior children must be displaced from that senior school and, therefore, accommodation must be found for them elsewhere. If the accommodation is to be found for them elsewhere in some neighbouring non-provided school or schools then plainly that may involve very considerable expenditure. It will mean re-equipping, or in some cases adding to, the building of the junior school into which these displaced children are to be put. I venture to submit that, inasmuch as the provision of accommodation for these displaced junior scholars is an integral part of the scheme which has created the new senior school, any expenditure involved in providing for these junior children must be and ought to be regarded as entitled to a public grant.

The expenditure, as I have said, may often be quite considerable, and I think it will be most unfair to thrust the expenditure upon the managers "of the school which has to provide for these displaced children without any aid whatsoever. Since all the provision for these junior children so displaced is necessary to, I will say is part of, the scheme of reorganisation in the building of the senior school, it seems to follow that it should be entitled to a share in the public grants. That, I say, makes it a reasonable Amendment. But I think it is also an important Amendment for this, among other reasons. It is very seldom in point of fact that the managers of a non-provided school who desire to convert it into a senior school will be able to do so unaided. In almost every case they will have to be helped by the resources, so far as I can speak for myself, of the Church of England in the diocese, or in the area, but these authorities may very well be deterred from incurring the expense involved in creating one of their schools as a senior school if they know that in so doing they will be obliged to re-equip and add to an existing junior school in that area in order to find room for the displaced junior children.

It may very well happen that the total cost of meeting the necessary re-equipment of the junior school to find a place for the junior scholars will, unaided, be greater than the cost, with the aid of the public grant, of building or equipping the senior school. Thus it may very well happen that when there is every desire that a new senior school should be equipped or built, the authorities may be unable to do it because of the very great, or even greater, cost of making for the junior scholars a provision which is an essential part of the scheme of reorganisation involving the building of the senior school. Therefore I submit that it is an important Amendment because, if it is not passed, then one of the main objects of this clause, which, rightly, is to encourage the partnership of voluntary school authorities and local education authorities in providing for this most important state of education, will be defeated. I know that that is the view of many local education authorities. They cannot see why this should not be regarded, almost automatically, as part of the scheme of reorganisation.

I venture even to submit that it is quite consistent with the actual words of the clause even as they stand—that is to say, that the local education authorities must be satisfied about any agreement that it "will give effect in relation to senior children to arrangements for improving the organisation of education in the area of the authority." I am not alone in considering that it will be perfectly arguable that this proposal with which the Amendment deals is consistent with the actual terms of the clause. The provision of space necessary for the accommodation of these displaced junior children is obviously giving effect in relation to senior children to the arrangements for improving the organisation of education in the area of the authority. But there may be a doubt and my Amendment proposes to make it clear. If it is held that the words as they stand in the Bill must be construed as dealing directly only with the actual provision for senior children my Amendment would make the consideration direct or indirect. Very eminent Counsel considers that that is the best and most effective way of bringing within the Bill an arrangement which I think is entirely reasonable and just in itself.

But I must not leave the matter there. In candour I must allude to the difficulties which have occurred in regard to a similar Amendment in another place. In the Committee stage in another place a similar Amendment was ruled out of order by the Chairman on the ground that it went beyond the terms of the Financial Resolution. In the Second Reading debate I ventured to draw attention to the grave inconvenience caused by this method of procedure. It seems to have the effect of preventing, not only in the House of Commons but in your Lordships' House, fair and full discussion of matters which in course of the passage of the Bill may become obviously important. I only wish to call attention to the fact that the Chairman of the Committee when he felt bound to make that ruling said that if expenditure on junior schools were essential to providing accommodation for the senior children, he presumed it would be in order that a grant could be made for that purpose. Later in the proceedings he repeated that as his own view, which he said he took to be the commonsense view. The Chairman of the Committee therefore, although he had doubt about this being in order because it might infringe the Financial Resolution, himself supported the purpose of this Amendment.

I am bound to admit that if, as I hope, your Lordships support this Amendment, and the Bill with the Amendment went back to another place, inasmuch as it might be held to conflict with the Financial Resolution it might raise the question of Privilege. It is not for me to discuss that here. That is a matter which must take its course. But I think it is pertinent to point out that on many occasions, and indeed on a quite recent occasion, on good cause shown the House of Commons has waived the question of Privilege. What I venture to urge is that the Government in this matter, which I submit to your Lordships is entirely reasonable, should not obstruct but even give facilities for reconsideration of this matter in another place. At any rate, whatever difficulties there may be, they ought not to prevent your Lordships accepting the Amendment if you think it is reasonable.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 23, after (" will ") insert (" whether directly or indirectly ").—(The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.)


May I say very briefly that I respectfully agree with the most reverend Primate both in the substance of the Amendment and the construction he has put on the words of the Bill as it stands and the words he proposes to add. This matter has been brought to my notice by some of those who in this matter I represent. A particular case has been given to me where the provision of a senior school will throw on a neighbouring junior school a new burden which this Bill does nothing to meet if a limited construction be put upon the words. I am sure your Lordships do not wish in easing one burden to impose another, but unless this matter is cleared up that burden will be imposed. I think it is perfectly arguable, and I think it might be argued before any court, that the words "will give effect in relation to senior children to arrangements for improving the organisation" and so on would admit of consequential aid to a junior school upon which a burden has been thrown through the provision of a senior school, but it is most desirable that the matter should be made plain and I think the Amendment of the most reverend Primate does make it plain.

With regard to the question of Privilege I confess that I could not follow the ruling given in the Standing Committee in another place on this matter. At that time Clause 14 had not been passed and it did not at all follow that the power given to make an agreement in respect of a junior school between a local authority and the school managers would add any burden to the rates. Indeed it does not follow now as far as the rates argument is concerned that it would put any burden upon the rates. It might be that the local authority would think it the cheapest way of carrying out their duties. But, of course, the fact that the grant from the Exchequer follows under Clause 14 does make it more difficult. I am quite sure if the House of Commons wish to tackle this matter they will be able to find a way of doing it. Though it may not happen in a great number of cases a real though quite unintentional injustice will be done to many schools if an Amendment on these lines is not accepted, and I trust that the most reverend Primate will persist in his Amendment.


Any Amendment moved by the most reverend Primate and supported as this one has been by the noble Lord, Lord Rankeillour, both of whom have done so much to bring about that position of good will which has made this Bill possible, must receive our very serious consideration. The most reverend Primate was quite right to draw your Lordships' attention to the question of Privilege and the drafting of the Financial Resolution in the House of Commons, under which it is perfectly clear the ruling was given to the effect that this Amendment could not be inserted in the present Bill. But I do not want for a moment, any more than the President of the Board of Education did elsewhere, to shelter behind the formalities of Privilege or the terms of the Financial Resolution. The most reverend Primate is perfectly correct in saying that in your Lordships' House we have the full right of freedom of discussion. But what really is the position?

The case, as the most reverend Primate has argued it, is, as all his cases always are, eminently reasonable. But let us look at the background. The difficulty is that, without in any way having come to a definite signed and sealed agreement between the different religious communities, we have a basis on which we have got to such a position that we have been able to speak of the spirit of good will. Let us consider for a moment how far we have brought the other side, the Nonconformists. Let us cast our minds back and remember how utterly out of the question it would have been at one time to consider any grant from State funds to a voluntary school, and then go just one step further. Having brought these various bodies and interests to such a position, is it right, is it playing the game, is it fair, just to try to get a little bit more out of them? I suggest that it is not fair, and that it would even be ineffective. Up to now the silence of what we have called the Nonconformist interests with regard to this Bill and possible controversial points on it has been remarkable. Every time their representatives spoke in another place, it was in a manner designed to make its passage as easy as possible. I think we should all feel very sorry if we found ourselves in a position of in any way taking advantage of that spirit of friendliness and compromise which they have shown, in order merely to try to get a little more.

If I might just make one other point again: I do not want to lay too much stress on the word "agreement" or "signature" or anything else, but we all recognise that there was a very considerable measure of agreement on what were called the Trevelyan proposals, on which this Bill is based. Already we have gone farther than that. During the discussion on the Trevelyan proposals there was no suggestion of grants for new schools at all. Yet we have taken that further step, and I suggest to your Lordships that, admitting in every way a great deal of intense reasonableness of many of the most reverend Primate's points, we should be going, though perhaps only a slight way, beyond the point up to which we can carry all sections of opinion in this country. I venture to suggest to your Lordships that the one thing that really matters in regard to this Bill is that we should do everything in our power—and I know that the most reverend Primate would be the first to wish to do so—to keep everything as it is at the present moment.


Having at one time been very closely in touch with the leaders of Nonconformist opinion in the country in connection with proposals of this character, I knew how strong their feeling is, and I think that, when a compromise has been reached, it is far better to let sleeping dogs lie, and at any rate not arouse a strong Nonconformist opinion against the Established Church. I am afraid that acceptance of the Amendment, even justified as it may be in argument by the most reverend Primate, would not carry great weight with the Nonconformists, and therefore I appeal to him not to press this Amendment.


I have listened with some surprise to what has been said implying that this Amendment is a very serious invasion of the agreement on which this Bill has been based. I was a party to the agreement on which Sir Charles Trevelyan rested, and, as I have already indicated on the Second Beading, for that reason I am not able to move an Amendment like that put down by the Lord Bishop of St. Albans. I am

honourably bound to respect that compromise. But from what I can gather, and so far as I remember, this particular point was never raised in the discussions on that agreement. It is a point which has emerged on a consideration of the facts as they are. In reference to what the noble Lord opposite has said, I am in continual correspondence and communication with the leaders of the Nonconformists in all these matters, and I venture to say—I hope that I shall not prove to be too sanguine—that this is not a matter on which they would join issue with me at all. It is not asking that something further shall be done; it is only asking that something already involved in the Bill should be made clear. It is not going a step farther; it is only taking, so to speak, a step which has already been taken, quite clearly and definitely. Therefore, if it be true, as I think it is—and I do not think that even the Government can deny that this is a perfectly reasonable Amendment—if it be true, and I do not think it ought to be denied, that it comes reasonably within the scope of this very clause; and if it be true, as I venture to think it is, that it does not disturb, and was not considered in, the admirable agreement to which the noble Lord has referred; then I venture to hope that your Lordships will in this matter exercise the independence of your Lordships' judgment, and that, if you think the thing is reasonable and right and not likely to involve a disturbance of what is admittedly the basis of the Bill, your Lordships will support the Amendment.

On Question, Whether the said words shall be there inserted?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 32; Not-Contents, 29.

Canterbury, L. Abp. Cecil of Chelwood, V. Daryngton, L.
FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Elton, L.
Argyll, D. Goschen, V. Harris, L.
Howard of Glossop, L.
Exeter, M. Gloucester, L. Bp. Marley, L.
London, L. Bp. Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)
Grey, E. [Teller.] St. Albans, L. Bp. Noel-Buxton, L.
Iddesleigh, E. Winchester, L. Bp. Phillimore, L.
Midleton, E. Rankeillour, L.
Onslow, E. Biddulph, L. Rockley, L.
Sandwich, E. Bingley, L. Somers, L.
Selborne, E. [Teller.] Boston, L. Strabolgi, L.
Strickland, L.
Hailsham, V. (L. Chancellor.) Plymouth, E. Gainford, L.
Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)
Halifax, V. (L. Privy Seal.) Bertie of Thame, V. Hutchison of Montrose, L.
Mersey, V. Jessel, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Trenchard, V. Lawrence, L.
Zetland, M. Luke, L.
Amulree, L. O'Hagan, L.
De La Warr, E. Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)
Lucan, E. [Teller.]
Mar and Kellie, E. Brocket, L. Saltoun, L.
Minto, E. Clwyd, L. Sandhurst, L.
Munster, E. Gage, L. (V. Gage.) [Teller.] Templemore, L.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

LORD RANKEILLOUR moved to insert at the end of subsection (3): Provided that if the authority are of opinion that proposals cannot be carried out until a later date after the appointed day by reason, in the case of new proposals made under the proviso to the last preceding subsection, of the lateness of the date upon which such proposals were submitted, or by reason in the case of any proposals of the provisions of any planning or housing scheme, the authority may, notwithstanding anything in this subsection, enter into an agreement in respect of such proposals if they are satisfied that the proposals when carried out will provide or give effect to the matters set out in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of this subsection.

The noble Lord said: This is a highly technical matter, which took me some considerable time to understand, and whether it is possible for me to impress it on your Lordships' quicker apprehensions in the course of one speech I am not certain, but I will attempt to do so. This clause as it stands lays down as a general rule that proposals for a new senior school must, in the ordinary course, be in before a date which works out as March 1, 1938, but it is added that in any particular case that may be extended to September 1, 1938, being twelve months before what is known as the appointed day. Now it was pointed out in another place that in certain circumstances this would work very harshly, because many of these senior schools are required in new housing areas, and it was impossible to say exactly how the proposals of the local authorities for the new housing areas would develop, and they might be changed in the course of time, after the original proposals for a new senior school had been made by the managers. The President of the Board of Education saw the difficulty of the situation there created, and he said that proposals might be made at a later date than was then in the Bill if the difficulty was caused by action taken, or decision made, by any planning or housing authority. In that case the date for entering the proposals might be extended, and those words are now in the Bill.

However, there is one loophole, and that loophole is one which I desire to fill up. Proposals might be made, but they might be made and approved at such a date that it would be impossible for them to be carried out within the time specified in the Bill as it now stands. The proposals might be made, in consequence of some decision of the local authority, after September 1, 1939, but they would have to be carried out by September 1, 1940. Of course, at the time when the proposals were made it would mean that there would be considerable negotiation, and it would not follow that any building would take place until the spring of 1940. In that case it might be obvious to the local authority that the proposals could not be carried out by September 1 of that year, and it would appear to follow, under the wording of another part of this clause, that the local authority could not be satisfied that they would be carried out within that time, and if they were not satisfied that they could be carried out, however much they might wish to accept them it would appear that they would not be able to do so.

Therefore the elasticity given by the proviso accepted in another place might be destroyed by these particular words. Again, the local authority might be engaged in a scheme of demolition, and the site of that demolition might have been selected as the site for new schools, but the demolition scheme of the local authority might go on so slowly that it might be impossible to proceed with the building proposals for the schools at the dates desired. There, again, a local authority, in the words of the clause, might not be able to agree to the proposals because it was obvious that they could not be carried out within the prescribed time. This Amendment involves no new principle, but it only desires to give a little elasticity, and is really a corollary and complement of the words already on page 7 of the Bill. Unless this Amendment is accepted I fear that the proviso might not be operative.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 28, insert the said proviso.—(Lord Rankeillour.)


I think this is a reasonable Amendment, and one which is not open to the criticisms which were raised when we were discussing the last Amendment. There is no question of trying to extort anything from Nonconformists. Your Lordships are well aware how rapidly schemes for the demolition of buildings not only arise, but are changed, and very often some scheme of demolition cannot be carried out in the exact time which was originally contemplated. I think the noble Lord rightly asks in this matter that certain elasticity should be allowed, and that the actual rigour of requirement should not be pressed.


I do not claim to be speaking for my noble friends on these Benches, although I might well do so. I know the difficulties which arise in industrial areas of always getting your schools ready, especially where poor areas are concerned, and as I believe elasticity in this case, is in the interests of the children I personally should be prepared to support the noble Lord.


I think the most reverend Primate is quite right in saying that this Amendment is not a further attempt to extort more from the Nonconformists; I think it is an attempt to extort more from the Government. Now what is the position? I think it was really put very clearly by my noble friend Lord Rankeillour, when he said that the normal period for the submission of proposals is March, 1938—that is, allowing eighteen months for putting them into operation. That can be extended to September, 1938, and then if you look at the Bill you will see that in the proviso to the clause September, 1939, is really the latest date up to which the housing or planning schemes which are under discussion at the moment can be considered in relation to the educational proposals. The noble Lord wants to carry this one step further. He says there may be occasions when the planning arrangements are not completed by September, 1939, and it may be that in May or June of 1940—


No. May I interrupt? This matter does not refer to the planning arrangements but to the inevitable delays that may occur after September 1, 1939, in the necessary negotiations. I do not ask for 1939 to be extended as regards the submission of the proposals; I only ask for an extension for them to be carried out.


Quite. But of course the assumption of the Government is that there should be provision made for enabling the education authorities to deal with the school population of September, 1940, which is the final crisis at which we arrive from the raising of the school age. Well, if it so happens that the arrangements for any reason are not ready in time, and if it so happens that the population is not there by September, 1940, because of the lateness of the housing and planning scheme, then it is quite definitely outside the scope of this Bill, and indeed of the policy of the Government. In making these definite decisions of policy inevitably when we settle a date there is always going to be some fear that somebody or other may be ready just after that date, and that they will then feel aggrieved. We have, I think, met that point to a considerable extent by first extending the time to September, 1938, and then, in the case of the proviso I have referred to, to September, 1939. It really means now that we have to go further and to enable education authorities to receive this additional grant on populations that are, so to speak, in position after 1940. Well, the Government took the decision that they should allow these three years for the raising of the school age and that they should justify these grants to voluntary schools—which have never been made before in the history of our educational system—and increased grants to the local education authority in order to deal with this state of emergency. It is proposed now that we should lengthen it to four years for this particular case. I am quite sure that if we gave in on that just as reasonable a case could be made for going on to five or to six years.




Oh, yes, I think that is a perfectly fair point to make—that whatever time we gave there are always going to be some people just dragging behind. It is our intention in making these grants for an emergency period of three years to hurry up these schemes. That is the hope and intention of the Government, and I hope your Lordships will not ask us to go yet further in the direction of giving further time.


I think that the noble Earl has to some extent misapprehended my argument. My argument deals with the case that arises from the action of the local authority as late perhaps as August, 1939, and in those circumstances not only the agreement has to be made but the buildings have to be erected within a year. Now in other cases a year is allowed for the carrying out of the proposals after they have been agreed to, and a good deal longer time is allowed for the whole negotiations and the buildings, and I only want to give to the carrying out of these particular proposals, arising out of the action of the local authority, the same kind of extension of time as is given in the ordinary case. However, this matter is one of great complication, and I do not wish to press it further now, because I think that perhaps, not in my words but in some other form, it may be possible before Report to arrive at an agreement on this matter. Therefore I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


The next two Amendments are drafting.

Amendments moved— Page 7, line 41, after (" required ") insert (" wholly or mainly ") Page 8, line 27, leave out (" caused ") and insert (" cause ").—(Earl De La Warr.)

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 9:

Power to include certain provisions in agreements, &c.

9.—(1) An agreement made under the last preceding section may contain provisions with respect to the following matters, that is to say—

  1. (a) the employment or continued employment to such an extent and in such posts as may be specified in the agreement of teachers fit and competent to 332 give religious instruction in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (c) of subsection (5) of Section twenty-nine of the principal Act (hereinafter called reserved teachers);

THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. ALBANS moved, in paragraph (a) of subsection (1), to leave out "(hereinafter called reserved teachers)". The right reverend Prelate said: This Amendment and the Amendments to Clause 10 are the Amendments agreed upon after most careful consideration by the National Society which, as your Lordships know, is the central educational authority for the Church of England. I think it may possibly save time if I deal with all my Amendments together. During the Second Reading I called attention to this question of reserved teachers, and the Amendments of which I have given notice deal with this matter of reserved teachers and their relation to the managers of Church schools or voluntary schools with regard to their religious outlook and belief. I wish it to be perfectly clear that in proposing these Amendments our object is not, as I think has been assumed in certain quarters, to secure that all teachers in our Church schools should necessarily be members of the Church of England. That is not the case. We are perfectly prepared—that is to say those for whom I speak, and I believe you will find it so right through the Church of England to-day—to have on the staff of our Church schools men and women as teachers if it is found necessary, one or more, who are competent to give religious instruction to the children of parents who wish it in accordance with the syllabus in use in the schools provided by the local education authorities.

For thirty-four years the National Society has recommended managers to appoint such teachers in single-school areas. As I know from my own personal knowledge, there are a great many Church schools on whose staff we have godly non-members of the Church of England, but of course, as things are at present, we have the right to say whether, in our view, they are the sort of people who would naturally fall in with the spirit of the school as a whole. I do not think I need say this to your Lordships, but I think it is necessary even now to say it outside, that there is no sort of desire on our part to proselytise the children of any parents who do not belong to our own communion—not the least. Our one desire is to give effective religious education to our own children for whom primarily Church people—and I am speaking only of Church schools—have in the past spent a great deal of money and saved a very large amount of public money for the sake of being able to give the best kind of religious education that they know.

We believe that the religious education that we want to give is only possible if we can make our schools places of true religion and sound learning, in which children, from whatever denomination they come, will live and work and play in a genuinely religious atmosphere. We are convinced that such an atmosphere can only be created when all the teachers in the school are working together as one team and are genuinely religious men and women, and, further than that, are practising members of at least some Christian fellowship. We ask therefore that the Bill shall be amended in such a way, as you will see by the Amendments I have tabled, that the managers shall have the opportunity of refusing to accept any teachers if they are not satisfied that they are the kind of people who would naturally fall in with the spirit and the outlook of the school as a whole.

When I raised this question on the Second Reading, I asked the noble Earl who introduced the Bill why it was that the Government had inserted this expression "reserved teacher." The noble Viscount, Lord Halifax, was kind enough to answer me, and he said it was quite obvious that I thought there was a catch. I think there is something worse than a catch, and I must say I was not entirely satisfied with the answer that the noble Viscount gave on that occasion. He referred to the possibility of single-area schools. I had put that point myself already in that debate, and I have referred to it again to-day. I am perfectly ready to have in single-area schools, or in others if it can be shown that it is necessary, teachers who are not necessarily members of the Church of England. We want to play fair, and we have played fair and do play fair in practice. The noble Viscount referred to that, and then went on and gave another reason, and if I may be allowed to do so, I want to quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT what he said: Moreover, in a larger school it would happen that the teachers would include such specialists as the science teacher and the rest of them, all of whom would not be expected to give, and would probably be wholly unsuitable for giving, the religious teaching, and whom, therefore, it would be quite unnecessary and unreasonable to include in that category of reserved. It is just with that conclusion that we find ourselves in complete and fundamental disagreement.

I venture, with great respect, to think that the noble Viscount because of his close acquaintance with this Bill—he has kept bad company for some time, as far as that goes—has got confused in thought, as the Bill is, in my opinion, confused in thought. He is mixing up religious instruction with religious education. That is what Church schools, and those who are standing and have stood for them for many years, are contending for. We are contending for something bigger than religious instruction. We are contending for religious education; not merely a question of giving religious instruction during the period set apart for that, but something much wider and deeper. I do not minimise the importance of religious instruction as I understand it, but I am convinced—and I am quite sure the noble Viscount is convinced—that if such teaching is to be of any real value, it must be given by men and women who believe it, who know what it is, who know how to teach it, and who are practising members of a Christian fellowship. I know, as your Lordships know, that you can fool all sorts of people, but you cannot fool children. They see through you; and if they find, as they do find, that the teacher who is teaching them religious instruction believes or does not believe what he or she teaches, then there is no question to them at all; they see through it.

But if a teacher is a convinced believer of his teaching, whatever the subject may be—and certainly not excluding science, which is a most important subject to-day from this point of view—all his teaching will have as background the faith which he believes, and that faith will necessarily colour all his teaching and his whole outlook on life, and not least his own personal character. Thereby he will have, and cannot help having, a strong religious influence on the children who come under his authority, whom he teaches in school and with whom he plays outside, for, however much religion must be taught—and of course it must be—in the last resort and in the long run it can only be caught. It is an unseen spiritual influence issuing from the teacher to the taught. But the reverse is also true, and that is our difficulty. We believe that one teacher on a staff, however good the rest of the staff may be, and not least if he is teaching science, if he is not a convinced believer, the children he teaches will see that very soon, and we believe he can, and will, do incalculable harm to the whole cause of religious education and to the religious atmosphere of the school.

That is our difficulty, as far as I can see it, if you do not give the managers of these schools, in the case of what are called reserved teachers, the opportunity of refusing to accept them. We are not asking that the appointment should be made not by the local education authority; we are prepared to accept that. If only you will give us the right to be consulted by the local education authority, and the right to refuse any teacher on the ground that he or she is not a fit or competent person to do the religious teaching in the broader sense of the word, that would meet us. The local education authority cannot find that out. I have no doubt it does inquire; I am told it often does; but, legally, it has no right to inquire into the religious beliefs of people appointed as teachers in the provided schools. Therefore we want to have that opportunity which is given us by the Bill in order that we may be able to make our full contribution to the general and national system of education. This is a much bigger thing than merely the question of the capacity for giving religious instruction in the allotted period day by day. I do not believe there is one of your Lordships who would disagree that the end of all true education is the formation of Christian character, and we, who stand for Church schools, believe that you cannot have the fruit without the root and that you cannot have Christian character without the Christian religion.

The only hope that we see for our children to be brought up, as we all want them to be brought up, as keen Christians, practising Christians, good men and good women is that they should come during their school age under the strong influence of teachers who are themselves convinced believers and practising members of a Christian Church, in schools where the whole atmosphere is genuinely religious. And that atmosphere really depends upon the homogeneous unity of the whole teaching staff. We believe that the voluntary schools can still make a great contribution not only to the educational system of this country but to the national character. It has been recognised, and the Bill recognises, that voluntary schools have a place in the national system of education. I think I am right in saying that the National Union of Teachers has practically recognised that fact also, and I rejoice to think they have. Therefore we ask that the Bill should be so amended as to give us the opportunity of preserving those characteristics which, I believe, more and more the country has come to recognise as being the really valuable contribution, or the source of the valuable contribution, which voluntary schools can make to the system of national education and for the welfare of the whole community.

My last word is this. I am honestly-afraid that if the Bill is not amended it will be very difficult to get people to put up the necessary money—and money will be necessary—for these new Church schools, because they will be very doubtful as to whether they are going to preserve their character as Church schools. If the money is not put up from voluntary sources this part of the Bill will become a dead letter, and those of us who are most anxious to see the preservation of Church schools would look upon that eventuality really as a disaster.

Amendment moved— Page 9, line 15, leave out (" (hereinafter called reserved teachers) ").—(The Lord Bishop of St. Albans.)


I shall not detain the Committee for more than one moment. I fully recognise the strong convictions under which the right reverend Prelate has put his case, and I can quite understand how he and those he represents feel in regard to this important matter; but I would venture to express the view that as, after very great trouble and every kind of consultation, an arrangement has been reached between the contending parties upon this most acutely controversial issue, when that compromise and an agreement has been reached, it would be a very unfortunate thing if any change were made in the Bill such as the right reverend Prelate suggests, a change which, I cannot help thinking, would materially alter the basis of the agreement reached. For these reasons I hope that the Government will adhere to the arrangement which has been come to on this most important matter.


I think I have already sufficiently explained in what I said on the Second Reading debate my attitude about this Amendment, and I have no desire to add to what I then said; but I should like the noble Earl when he replies to give us an assurance that what the President of the Board said in another place can be relied upon. It was this, that if a local education authority which had been friendly enough to arrange for an agreement should happen to appoint a teacher to give instruction in accordance with the agreed syllabus and that teacher proved himself quite incompetent to do so, or was hostile to the spirit of religion in the school, it would be possible, as the President said, for the school managers to approach the Board and for the Board to take action to put the matter right on the ground that the teacher had not given effect to the purpose of the agreement.


I thank the most reverend Primate for his intervention. I had already made a note of that particular point, which I think is most important. I can most readily give him that full assurance. The position is perfectly clear. It does not apply only to religious teaching, for if a science teacher, for instance, were inefficient, complaint could be made to the Board in exactly the same way as complaint could be made with regard to religious teaching. There was one point in the speech of the right reverend Prelate that a little distressed me. He did not give sufficient recognition to the tremendous trouble which the local authorities are taking at the moment with regard to the teaching of the syllabus. I think there were in another place from members of the Church very generous tributes paid to the excellence of the way in which this had been carried out. I venture to suggest that a good part of the case of the right reverend Prelate was based on an incomplete realisation of how much had in fact been done.

I think I shall be acting in accordance with the wish of your Lordships if I treat all the right reverend Prelate's Amendments as one, and although my remarks may not be strictly applicable to this Amendment I will deal with the case as a whole. Underlying all these Amendments is the perfectly natural desire that the Church should have control over all the teachers in the school. That does not mean, as was made perfectly clear in the right reverend Prelate's speech, that he wants to insist that every single one should be a member of the Church of England, but as a matter of fact—I do not want to make too much of this because I think it is merely a mistake in drafting—the right reverend Prelate's third Amendment as it stands would take away even from the managers the right to appoint teachers who are not members of the Church of England. If he will refer to the Act of 1921 he will see that in Section 29 (5) there is a right to appoint assistant teachers and pupil teachers without reference to religious creed and denomination. His Amendment would supersede that provision. His Amendment would also supersede paragraph (b) of that subsection which reads: The appointment of teachers of secular subjects not attached to the staff of any particular public elementary school and teachers appointed for the purpose of giving practical instruction, pupil teachers and student teachers shall be made by the local education authority. As his Amendments are drafted all the teachers would have to be judged from the religious denominational point of view. Of course I accept his assurance that he did not mean that.

The real answer to the right reverend Prelate is that everything he desires can in fact be done by agreement with the local authorities. It has been repeatedly stated by the President in another place and by myself here, that there is nothing to prevent one hundred per cent. of the teachers being reserved. I do not imagine for a moment that any one would ask that, but there is nothing in the Bill to prevent that being done provided agreement is come to with the local education authority. Everything here hangs on the word "agreement." Whatever alteration we make in this Bill, however many rights of this character we give to this or that section or interest, you have still to rely on representatives of the managers and representatives of the local authority getting together in a room and coming to an agreement. What you actually have to depend upon is the good will between those people who meet in that room. What I am afraid of is that by making Amendments of this kind you will irritate the position, and while you may gain one or two points with regard to the letter of the law you will lose everything that really counts.

Remember that any statutory right can be given under this Bill, but if you make the terms in favour of the Church so strong that you rouse all the old prejudices then a local authority may say: "If we make an agreement we will have to do this and that, but we are not going to make an agreement." I suggest that at the present moment there is not the slightest danger of that because you have in existence a spirit that quite precludes it. I appeal to the right reverend Prelate to put his faith in that rather than in these Amendments. If ultimately the right reverend Prelate feels that he cannot rely on this good will then at any time he can say he does not want to make any agreement. There is no compulsory clause in this Bill at all saying that the Church will have to come to an agreement. All that is done is to lay down a condition on which a grant will be made, a very large and generous grant never before given in this country. We are all of us, as it is perfectly clear from the speeches made in the Second Reading debate, prepared to stand by that agreement. Anybody in the Church who likes can say: "We do not want your money, we do not like this condition of the grant of public money and we are going on as we were." But as a condition of giving this money it is laid down that agreement shall be come to with the local authority on a certain basis. Either side is perfectly free to come to an agreement or to refrain from coming to an agreement.

I would end by appealing to all your Lordships to do nothing, as this Amendment most certainly would, to destroy-the harmony of the position. It was made quite clear in another place in a most friendly and unprovocative speech by a member of the House of Commons that this would rouse the very bitterest of feeling, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Clwyd, although he spoke in a most moderate manner, made it perfectly clear in this House what were his views on the subject and what were likely to be the views of his friends and associates. Therefore I implore the right reverend Prelate not to press this Amendment to a Division.


I should not like it to be thought, and I am very sorry if the noble Earl thinks, that I do not realise the care that local education authorities take with regard to the appointment of teachers or the interest they take in the matter of religious education. I am not sure whether I stated it on the last occasion, but for about eighteen months as chairman of a committee at the request of two big local education authorities I have been trying to draw up with Nonconformists a syllabus. That committee is working to-day. I have not any fear personally with regard to my two county local education authorities, nor is there any fear probably with regard to others, and I recognise what the noble Earl says about good will and agreement. But I recognise also, and I am bound to say that no one has answered this point, that local education authorities have no right, however much they would like to do so, when appointing teachers, to ask: "Are you a Christian? Do you really believe in the Christian faith; are you keen about it or have you no interest in it at all?" It is very likely that a teacher may have no use for it. Let them be perfectly free to find out what men are and that will make a great deal of difference. That point has not been answered. I can assure the noble Earl and the Government that as far as I am personally concerned, and as far as those keenest about Church schools are concerned, we do not want to be nasty about it. We want to work with the Government over this, and we are pleading that you should make it more possible to do so, because, if we cannot raise the money, you will not have our co-operation, and 25 per cent. of the cost of the senior schools is a very big amount beside all that we have had to do already.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.

Clause 12:

Provisions with respect to religious instruction in non-provided schools.

12.—(1) Where a public elementary school maintained but not provided by the local education authority is attended by children whoso parents—

  1. (a) desire them to receive religious instruction in accordance with a syllabus in use in schools provided by the authority; and
  2. (b) cannot with reasonable convenience cause them to attend a school provided by a local education authority;
such instruction shall be given in the school, on the days of the week and during the times which are specified for the purpose in the time-table of the school, to the children whose parents desire, them to receive it, unless any special circumstances make this requirement unreasonable.

LORD RANKEILLOUR moved, in paragraph (b) of subsection (1), to leave out "with reasonable convenience" and insert "without substantial hardship." The noble Lord said: This Amendment is to some extent one of drafting. Clause 12 provides, that if a public elementary school which is maintained but not provided by the local education authority—in other words, a voluntary school—is attended by children whose parents wish them to receive religious instruction in accordance with the syllabus, then under certain conditions they shall receive it, and one of those conditions is that they cannot attend a council school with reasonable convenience. I want just to say that this by no means applies only to single-school areas, as so many people think it does. On the contrary, it applies to any school where there are children whose parents wish them to receive the syllabus instruction and who cannot get it elsewhere with reasonable convenience. I submit that the words "with reasonable convenience" are very loose and ambiguous. What is "reasonable convenience"? Does it mean walking another quarter of a mile, or not? The whole phrase is very nebulous. After all, these schools were built for the children who want a definite religious instruction according to the principle upon which the school was founded, and, although they must be met, it is quite true that where they cannot get the religious instruction they want there should be some better test than "reasonable convenience." I submit that the words "substantial hardship" meet the point better. Some slight inconvenience must be incurred: another school might not be available without some little hardship, and in that case they must receive the syllabus in a school which was built not for them but for others. I submit that the words want strengthening, and beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 12, line 11, leave out (" with reasonable convenience ") and insert (" without substantial hardship ").—(Lord Rankeillour.)


As the noble Lord suggested, this is really not a very big point. He suggested that it was a drafting point, but I think it is a little more than that. I should be very sorry if it were passed. I do not want to seem to be eternally sheltering behind this spirit of good will which we have discussed so much, but at the same time it does seem to be very relevant here. The distinction between reasonable convenience and the absence of substantial hardship is rather a fine one. It may be argued that the right to obtain the syllabus instruction should only be given in order that the persons desiring it may avoid substantial hardship and should not be given in order that they may merely avoid some inconvenience. Although I think it is a vary small point, it seems to be a rather important matter of feeling, and it would therefore be a great pity if we were to put it in. Very little would be gained by the friends of the noble Lord and much would be sacrificed in other ways.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 [Provisions with respect to withdrawal from school during periods of religious instruction]:

THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OR CANTERBURY moved to insert: (2) Where any children are so withdrawn from a school, the local education authority may, if they think fit so to do, allow a room in any school provided by the authority to be used for the purpose of any religious instruction or observance to be attended by those children or any of them.

The most reverend Primate said: I feel bound to move this Amendment because I agree with it in principle. It is strongly urged by those with whom, necessarily, in these important matters I am accustomed to associate. At this hour I am thankful to say that I can state it very shortly, because the inherent justice of it will, I think, be obvious to all, even if individual noble Lords may be in some doubt as to its expediency in present circumstances. Following the example of the noble Lord, Viscount Bertie of Thame, I will beg leave to refer to the local authority as "they" instead of "it," as I understand that in the rest of the Bill the plural is used instead of the singular, and to move my Amendment in that form.

This is, on principle, very reasonable. There is no point in this Bill with which I more cordially agree than the provision that the Anson by-law, which I will not at this late hour attempt to explain in detail, should be made statutory throughout the country, chiefly, of course, in single-school areas. The object of this Amendment is simply to make the purpose of the clause really effective. Circumstances may occur in country districts where it would be extremely difficult to find convenient premises for the giving of the instruction which, under that by-law and under this clause of the Bill, may be provided for children whose parents desire them to have it. There may be no church anywhere near; there may be no available schools; and what is asked in this Amendment is that in these cases the local education authority should allow this particular instruction to be given within the premises of the provided school. Your Lordships will see that the provision is merely permissive. I would add that this has been done. I know a case now where a very admirable new senior school, built in a country district where there is neither a church nor other school available, received permission from the local education authority for this instruction to be given in it. No difficulties were raised and no objections were made, and the arrangements had the good will of the Nonconformists in the district. So this can be done and this is done, and what is more, we know that it can be done without breaking the existing law. I do not want to be too technical, but there has existed since as long ago as 1928 a provision called the Dorset letter which permits local authorities, if they see fit, to make arrangements of this kind.

There I might stop, but I am bound to add a word or two about the very great difficulties expressed in another place by the President of the Board of Education. It was stated that only temporary arrangements were contemplated by the Dorset letter, and that was followed up by what is known as the Yorkshire letter, which made it plain that these temporary arrangements could not pass into the nature of obligation on the local education authority and their successors. That is perfectly true, and I would point out that this Amendment only gives permission. It does nothing to prevent any local education authority which does give this permission from withdrawing it at any time it sees fit. Nothing is said in this Amendment which would bind any local education authority and its successors to give facilities of this sort in perpetuity. The letter may not be known to local education authorities throughout the country, and all this Amendment does is to ask that what can be done, and is done, should be done where the local education authorities are willing to do it.

There is a more formidable objection urged by the President of the Board, and I have no doubt it will be urged this afternoon by the noble Earl, that however admirable in principle this Amendment may be it does mean an invasion upon what so many people consider the sacred ground of the Cowper-Temple Clause, which forbids denominational teaching in a provided school. Your Lordships will, however, notice that this religious instruction is not to be given in a provided school, but ex hypothesi the children are withdrawn from the school. They are not in school, and therefore in truth the Cowper-Temple Clause does not apply. Therefore, if this permission is given, the children permitted to assemble there out of school hours in the early morning to receive this particular instruction are not in the school, and this has been recognised by the Board, as I have already pointed out. As your Lordships have already heard, it is the custom of church managers in single-school areas to appoint Nonconformist teachers to deal with Nonconformist children. Having regard to concessions which we have made I submit that it is not unnatural we should ask in return that where this Bill enables children to be withdrawn from the school, and therefore to be no longer in the school, the use of a room for the purpose of religious instruction should be permitted. All that the Amendment asks is that the knowledge that this can be done and that it is within the law should be made available.

Amendment moved— Page 13, line 7, at end, insert the said new subsection.—(The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.)


I will endeavour to be as brief as possible at this hour, but I think I must remind your Lordships of what the Cowper-Temple Clause is. Put very shortly, it forbids denominational teaching in a council school. The Anson by-law qualifies the general rule as to whole-time attendance at school by permitting the withdrawal from school during the period set apart for giving religious instruction, thus providing an opportunity for denominational teaching outside the school. That brings us to the Dorset letter. I have always had the greatest respect for the British civil servant. I think his use of language is miraculous, and particularly his capacity for putting words on paper which are cautiously drafted, and if I ask your Lordships to listen for a moment to what the Dorset letter said, I think you will realise that it is really a masterpiece: In these circumstances the matter does not appear to fall within the scope of the Board's administration. It is common knowledge that local education authorities sometimes permit the premises of a council school to be used otherwise than for the purposes of the school, e.g., on Sundays or Saturdays or after school hours on other week days, and it may be that, if on occasion there is a room which during part of the school hours is not required for school purposes, similar permission is sometimes given to use such room. Well, really that does not take us very far in the direction which the most reverend Primate has mentioned, and the whole essence of any sort of permission given is that the Board felt that it could not interfere, and at any rate the arrangement has been of a very temporary and tentative character.

A month later, when Yorkshire tried to get something more definite, they were turned down, and now it is proposed to have a definite arrangement inserted in this present Bill. Once this question becomes a matter of statutory undertakings it is bound to cut through the Cowper-Temple Clause. It must do so. It may well be that in the future, as in the past, the authorities and the managers may come to some temporary arrangement on a purely friendly basis, and probably the less said about it the better. If you put it in a Bill it at once becomes a matter of statutory obligation, and at once there arises controversy, questions being raised with the local education authority, and the whole spirit of controversy which surrounded the Cowper-Temple Clause is again aroused. At my age I do not like to find myself in the position of suggesting caution to the most reverend Primate, but I do hope that he will not press his Amendment.


I do not know about arousing religious controversy, but I do venture to express indignation at the constant turning down by the noble Earl of perfectly reasonable Amendments. This particular question is a very old question, as the noble Earl has reminded your Lordships. I beg your Lordships to consider in this case the interests of the children themselves. Here you have a case where the parents desire religious instruction for their children, and there is no suitable place in which it can be given, but there is a room in a school and you have this narrow pedantry of the Civil Service preventing these poor children having this room placed at their disposal. The noble Earl discussed this matter as if he were talking about a deal over a quota of frozen meat from the Argentine. This is not a question of what he was doing, no doubt so admirably, when he held a junior office in the Ministry of Agriculture. It is a question which touches very deeply indeed people's religious beliefs, and when I hear of religious passions being aroused I am inclined to believe that all the religious bigotry now rests only in Whitehall. The noble Earl apologised for his youth in suggesting caution to the most reverend Primate. I am not going to apologise for my youth or middle age in begging the most reverend Primate to go to a Division on this question. I think the attitude of the Board of Education is extremely mean in this matter, and I hope your Lordships will register your opinion in the Division Lobby.


I am very grateful to the noble Lord, opposite for enlivening our proceedings with his vigorous eloquence at this stage. I sympathise with his motives, even though I might hesitate to make his language my own. I do not think the strictures upon this Amendment made by the noble Earl, who has conducted this Committee stage with so much courtesy and ability, are at all true. There is nothing in this Amendment which is in the slightest degree inconsistent with the Dorset letter. There is nothing in this Bill which deals directly with the Cowper-Temple Clause, nothing which meets the point that this instruction is not given in the school at all, and therefore does not come within the purview of the Cowper-Temple Clause. But I am bound to look at these things in a broad way and consider their effect. And it is quite sufficient for me to know, as I know from other quarters, that although I think there is a good deal of superstition in this country about the meaning and effect of the Cowper-Temple Clause—and I hope the day is coming when we shall be helped by the spirit which will come from this Bill—if this Amendment were pressed to a Division and carried in your Lordships' House, it would raise a considerable storm of protest in different parts of the country.

Therefore in view of what the noble Earl has said, and in view of my desire that where possible these arrangements should be made, and that the making of these arrangements should not be prejudiced by the arousing of these old controversies up and down the country; and, believing as I do, that the discussion which has taken place now and which I hope will make it clear that local education authorities can make these arrangements in an administrative way, I think that they are more likely to be made if they are permissive than they would be if brought in under this proposed Amendment subject to the arousing of controversies up and down the country. But what I wish to ask the noble Earl if the Amendment is not pressed to a Division, is that he should make it plain that in point of fact the Dorset letter does stand, and that, within the limits of that letter, local education authorities are at liberty to make these arrangements.


I thank the most reverend Primate for not pressing the Amendment, and I certainly give him a definite undertaking that, provided there is no question of challenging the Dorset letter in the Courts, we certainly desire to make no change in the situation whatever with regard to it.


Would the noble Earl be so good as to repeat what he has just said so that the reporters should have some chance of hearing it?


I apologise to the most reverend Primate. I say that in so far as the Dorset letter is not challenged in the Courts we most certainly would do nothing to withdraw its terms. I would only say one word about the noble Lord opposite. I really do think that the manner in which he stated his case and the way in which he behaved showed the necessity of being most cautious in dealing with this subject. If he loses control of himself—I hope he did, for I hate to think he would behave like that if he were in control of himself—I think the fact shows the need for the utmost caution in dealing with the matter.


I am much obliged to the noble Earl for his lesson in deportment. All I can say is that I prefer my honest indignation to his subterfuge and his tortuous methods of getting round the position which he dare not openly face and put in his own Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

First Schedule agreed to.

Second Schedule [Provisions for determination of disputes]:


The next Amendment is drafting.

Amendment moved— Page 15, line 22, at end insert (" of Education ").—(Earl De La Warr.)

Second Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining Schedules agreed to.