§ 2.52 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (VISCOUNT HAILSHAM)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill, received from another place, be read a second time. This is virtually a one-clause Bill. It has a second clause which has importance as showing its non-application to Scotland and Northern Ireland, worth remarking because it shows how local and in some ways pragmatic our arrangements in these matters are. 1128 But the substance of the Bill is contained in one clause. In these days of political controversy it is a pleasure to propose the Second Reading of a Bill which has been achieved by agreement between the three political Parties in the State, and which might not have been achieved without that agreement. It is an added pleasure to be able, on behalf of the Government, to thank the other two political Parties for their co-operation and responsibility in this matter.
The Bill has also been officially welcomed by the Church of England and by many members of the Roman Catholic community; and although the Free Churches have expressed their dissatisfaction, I should like to add my thanks to them for their moderate handling of the question. It is a particular gratification, at any rate to me, that one byproduct of the Bill has been a situation resulting in better relations over single-school areas than I think have ever existed before between the Free Churches and the Church of England. I should like to add a tribute to my right honourable friend, who has, I think, helped at least at one meeting to bring about that happy situation. I should also like to add my own declaration of faith about this Bill.
Some time ago we debated education, in one of the all too rare debates we hold on that subject in this House. The Parties disclosed certain differences in their approach and in their policies in this matter, but there were certain matters of warm, and I think even enthusiastic, agreement which underlay such differences as we then discussed. I think we all agreed that the provision of secondary education of an adequate standard for all was at the heart of the administration of the educational service in this country at the present time. This, I think, has been apparent for a considerable time to those of us who have been engaged in one way or another in educational matters; and I must make my own declaration of faith that this Bill is really a test of our sincerity in this matter, because I do not believe that the Government's educational drive would be practical or would mean anything at all unless we accepted this as part of the corollary for it on educational grounds. That seems to me to be the basis upon which 1129 this Bill has been agreed between the Parties and has a large measure of support from those who do not normally engage in political discussion.
The problem of religious education and of religion is, in a sense, inseparable from the subject. It has proved a difficult problem to deal with from time to time in almost every civilised country that has had to tackle it. No one can be impartial in such a matter: each man brings to the problem his own convictions, and sometimes his most dearly held convictions. There is a danger that religious people—and I speak as one who would think of himself as answering to that description—regard their own convictions as matters of principle and ultimate truth, and any concession made to other people's convictions as a concession to expediency, or even as unprincipled. But I would say myself, having devoted a great deal of thought to this matter, that compassion, tolerance and common sense, though they do not necessarily yield a logical pattern of administration, are, at least to me, as much matters of principle as theological truth. It is on that basis that I put these proposals before your Lordships' House.
When I started thinking about this problem as Minister I could not fail to notice that although civilised and democratic peoples have largely developed a common pattern of policy in many social and political matters, on this particular issue people equally claiming to be tolerant, civilised and democratic have not developed a common pattern. I think it is as well to remind ourselves, as I reminded your Lordships when I pointed out the contents of the second clause of the Bill, how local and pragmatic our various arrangements are, and how utterly inaccurate, from the point of view of those arrangements, must seem any effort to bring in broad or absolute categories of religious truth, of Protestant and Catholic or anything of that kind.
Look across the Border, North of the Tweed, to Calvinist and Presbyterian Scotland. There a system of concurrent endowment has enjoyed popular support for generations: 100 per cent. grant there for denominational schools. Or look across St. George's Channel to Northern Ireland, which has not a name 1130 for Popery: 65 per cent. there for all new denominational schools—something far more generous than is proposed in these measures. Glance across the Atlantic to the United States of America, where, I should have said—although this is a matter of opinion—the Roman Catholic denomination is, on the whole, more influential than in parts of this country. Not a penny for denominational schools. Holland, more like Scotland, but with political parties bearing a relationship to confessional faith.
It is impossible here to see an absolute or uniform pattern and, I think, impossible to demand an absolutely logical pattern where there is such a widespread difference of opinion between sincere and forward-looking peoples. We in England and Wales—and it is to England and Wales that this Bill applies—have our Butler Act. What is, or what was, the Butler Act? Certainly, as I shall try to show, something which could not be radically departed from without serious consequences to all those who have the interests of education at heart. But not a settlement in the sense of something, some species eternitatis, enshrining some social or personal truth; not a compromise, because nobody was compromised by it; and not an agreement, because nobody appended his signature to any agreement. No; the Butler Act was a recipe for living together and for putting educational arguments as high as they ought to be put in the order of priorities.
Like other recipes of the kind, it has to be looked at from time to time; it has to be brought up to date from time to time. I would think that a radical departure would be disastrous to education, damaging to the public interest, and probably unedifying for religion. But the characteristics of the Butler Act are, I believe, as I shall try to show, preserved by the present proposals. What are they? As I see them, the first was a recognition and guarantee of the system known, in the technical jargon which is inseparable from educational discussion, as the dual system. That was one of the principles of the Butler Act. Denominational schools were guaranteed continuance and recognition under that Act. Secondly, there was a guarantee against the encroachment or extension by the dual system upon the State system, if that is the right word. Thirdly, there 1131 was a complicated and subtle pattern of financial provisions supporting the first two principles.
Under the Act of 1944, and under the present proposals, denominational schools which are absolutely new in the sense which I shall define get no grant at all—the denominations must pay for them. Old schools which are undoubtedly old are, under the 1944 Act, externally repaired at 50 per cent. grant and, of course, maintained internally at the public expense. As regards other things under the Butler Act, of course there was a great deal of detailed discussion as to what, between these two extremes, constituted a new school and what constituted an old school. To give an example from the independent system, Charterhouse went from London to the country, and obviously it was not a new school. Similarly, the Butler Act recognises that when a school requires a new building, or when pupils, for educational reasons, require to be transferred, the school building ranks for grant because it is not in substance a new school.
Again, under the Act of 1936, which was preserved and continued by the Act of 1944, when the State, for reasons which were legitimate in the interests of the children and demanded by its own standards of educational requirement, put upon the denominations the obligation to improve the characteristics of their system, the cost qualified for grant at 75 per cent. The essence of the thing as I have always seen it—although nothing that one says in education is true without any qualification—is the guarantee of the continuance of the denominational base and the guarantee against the extension of the base.
May I interrupt the noble Viscount? He is now referring to State assistance. He would not say that there was a guarantee given against any extension at all of the denominational system, but was confining himself to the system of financial assistance.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I accept that, and I am obliged to the noble Lord. I did not mean to suggest that at all. What I was talking about was the system of State assistance. I absolutely accept what the noble Lord has said.
1132 What are we doing in the Bill? First of all, with one qualification, grant continues to be payable only on the old basis, although at an increased rate. Where grant was payable under the old system at 50 per cent. or 75 per cent., it is payable now at 75 per cent. Secondly, where our policy of secondary education for all necessitates new denominational secondary schools to match existing primary pupils in denominational primary schools, the grant is payable, as, of course, may already happen in a great number of cases where the reorganisation of our education converts an all-age school, which is fundamentally a primary school but with pupils of more than primary age, into two schools, one primary and one secondary. The grant is not payable for new denominational primary schools and for totally new denominational secondary schools except to the extent I have, I hope accurately and simply, explained.
In other words, it should be true that, in the sense which I have accepted from the noble Lord, so far as financial assistance is concerned the denominational base is not increased. I would be prepared to say that although, of course, the letter of the Butler Act requires amendment, or we should not be here discussing legislation, the fundamental principles of the Butler Act have not been contravened. In one sense, it is above all no more than that the Act of 1936, which was guaranteed and continued by the Butler Act, has been brought up to date.
What is the justification for what is now proposed? The justification for it is an educational argument. I do not believe, and my colleagues do not believe, after having examined the case as impartially as one may in such a matter, that our educational drive which revolves round our provision of secondary education of an adequate standard for all can be carried out except by these means, unless one was prepared to accept a sense of intolerable injustice of some, at any rate, of those who would be affected by its terms.
In the years since 1944 the denominations have spent considerable sums of money. I am not in a position to give figures, but I saw in another place that for the Roman Catholic Church £18 million, or something like that, was mentioned as the sum. Whether that is 1133 accurate or not I do not know. What I do know, having been Minister of Education, is that their willingness to find money out of their own pockets in support of what they believe to be the cause of conscience is such as to put many of us who do not belong to their Church to shame, and must obviously excite our admiration. But it is certainly not true—and I must insist that this is a matter of cold economic fact—that either under the old system as it exists before this Bill or under the present Bill, in any sense is the Roman Church or the Church of England on the rates. On the contrary, if the denominations did not spend money upon their schools the rates and the taxes would be considerably higher; by how much is of course a matter of opinion, but certainly by a sum amounting to many millions of pounds. Because, of course, it is an obligation upon the State to provide education for all, and if some part of the provision for children is borne Out of private purses then to that extent, or at any rate to some extent, the rates and taxes are relieved.
I have explained the Bill, which is couched in technical language, but I think that I have explained it accurately in all its main provisions. I believe that it has commanded, on the whole, the support of informed opinion of a very wide section of the community and, as I say, of the leadership of all three political Parties. I would end by asking first of all what are the alternatives to the policy we propose, and secondly, what are the desiderata of a policy in this country at this present time? Of course, by imposing, as we do, new and higher standards of education, a better teacher-pupil ratio, more expensive and commodious buildings, laboratories and other facilities undreamed of in any school, independent or provided, even when we were children, by insisting on that we are insisting on the expenditure of a great sum of money.
The particular proposals would undoubtedly involve one of two or three policies. We could allow the denominations to go on as they are, providing a sub-standard education, as it would then be, when our own schools came into force, and creating two classes of pupils—those having an adequate education and those having an inadequate education from the purely secular standpoint. I do not believe that that course would 1134 commend itself to this nation or this House or Parliament. We could demand that every penny of what was necessary in order to bring denominational schools up to the new standard and to provide secondary education for all should be found by members of the denominations, in addition to what they have found in the last fifteen years. If it were found, it would, at any rate in my judgment, impose a standard of life on the members of the denominations rather lower than that of the rest of the community; and it would give rise, I believe, if it were successfully imposed, to an intolerable sense of injustice. We could close the denominational schools in the end if they did not conform and ensure that the children in them went alternatively to county schools.
But, my Lords, none of those things, except the first, could be done without creating a distinction between people of different denominations in the country and affecting their conscience; and this leads me to offer tentatively my own personal suggestion, based on some experience, of the kind of desiderata we should look for in this all important matter of education. I approach the matter not from the standpoint of any particular denominational theology but from the kind of viewpoint which a Minister of Education, searching his own conscience, must inevitably, in the present state of the world and in the present country, seek to give to himself in order to satisfy himself that he is trying to do the best that he sees.
It seems to me that it is our business to reconcile four major principles. First of all, there is the right of the parents. No Minister of Education can ever afford to forget that we are not educating our own children; we are educating other people's children. The children do not belong to the State; they belong to the parents in that sense. I would say, I hope without causing the smallest offence and certainly without the smallest degree of desiring to offend, that most of us who have studied the social and educational history of this century and of our country can look back on the controversies of the earlier part of the century. Of course, many strange devices were emblazoned on the banners of the contending parties and sects, some of them theological, some political. But unless I mistake it—and I do not think I do, 1135 because, although I have never belonged to a Free Church myself, my family has had close connection with them, as some of your Lordships will know—the steam behind the Free Church complaint against the Act of 1902 was the fear that the Church of England as it then was could, by virtue of what was an educational monopoly in many areas, steal from the parents the children of Free Churchmen. That was the thing which excited resentment, anxiety, fear and what they described as hurt of conscience.
Here I speak to those who, like myself, do not accept the Roman Catholic faith. The thing that we have to remember, and I certainly did my best to understand this problem when I was Minister of Education, is that when a Roman Catholic parent is driven by force of circumstances to send his child to a system of education which is a monopoly because it is a State system—not the Church of England this time, but the State—and which offers education that is not a Roman Catholic education, he feels exactly the same fear and anxiety and sense of wrong, the same fear that his child will be taken away from him according to his natural rights as did the Free Churches in 1902 and 1903 fear in relation to the attendance of their own children at Church of England schools. If we can get that thought firmly in our minds then, without accepting the Roman Catholic position, I think that one can get very much to the bottom of the way they feel about it; and until one understands the way they feel about it one cannot hope to do justice to them. So that the first of those principles we should have to adopt is the right of the parents.
Secondly, there is the interest of the State. The State has many interests, and I am going to mention only one, because otherwise I should involve myself in many difficult discussions. But one interest of the State at least is to have for its children, for the children of the nation, an adequate secular and moral training; and we think that an adequate secular and moral training involves this expensive type of secondary education upon which, for good or ill, all the Parties in the State and all those interested in education are at present embarked with the utmost resolution and with a very great measure 1136 of hope for the future. That is one interest of the State.
The third interest is, of course, that of the teachers, and they come into this matter because they are concerned that their conscience should not be strained by unnecessary religious tests. That I believe to be safeguarded adequately by the present proposals. The fourth interest, of course, is the welfare of the children. It is no part of my function to try to determine in what order those great considerations ought to be placed, but I say this about the welfare of the children. The State in the modern age is well able to look after itself. Parents have votes, and are often well served—sometimes too well served—by their denomination. The teachers have a trade union. But the children have no organisation and nobody to support them except Parliament, if Parliament puts their consideration high enough. Experience has shown—the bitter experience of many countries and many centuries, as well as of our own country and century—that if denominations fall out over educational matters, or if the three other interests quarrel, the welfare of the children is almost always given a priority which is lower than that of the other three. Therefore, although the last thing I would do is to attempt to dogmatise about the relative importance of these moral claims—and they are moral claims, all of them—I would urge this House, in giving this Bill a Second Reading, to avoid the danger of putting the children too low in the scale of importance.
This Bill, as I have tried to explain, is in the tradition of Mr. Butler's Act. I should be prepared to argue that its principles are four square within the principles of the Butler Act. If and in so far as it differs, I would say that it differs no more than the circumstances of the case actually demand on educational grounds; and if and in so far as it differs, it differs far less than one would expect after the passage of fifteen years. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Hailsham.)
§ 3.22 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I rise simply for the purpose of expressing on behalf of my noble friends our agreement with the principles of this Bill. I do not 1137 intend to follow the noble Viscount in the philosophical and theosophical disputations and discussions that he has placed before the House—not because I consider them unimportant, but because I think that he has quite adequately stated the philosophy behind the purpose of this Bill. He is quite right in saying that this measure has the agreement of all three Parties. It is a pleasure for me once in a way to be able to stand here and agree not only with what the Government are doing but with a great deal, if not all, of the argument which has been put forward in support of it.
In passing, I would say this. The noble Viscount looked back to our last debate on education—a debate on the comprehensive schools. I think that, looking back, he has rather blurred the striking differences that existed in the course of that debate, and which I am sure he will not mind my saying he did his best to exacerbate rather than play down. But looking back, perhaps to-day he feels that there was really less difference between us than appeared to be the case at that time. However, I am not here to indulge in reminiscences; I am here to say that we approve of this Bill. One of the reasons, apart from the fact that it is a good thing to get this matter out of the realm of political controversy, is the fact that we have reached an equilibrium in the question of our denominational schools after many years of strife and controversy; and the last thing that any of us would wish to do would be to stir up all this controversy once more. So it is a good thing that we are all agreed that something has to be done along the lines of the measure.
I justify this Bill also on the merits of the Bill itself. If I did not feel that I could agree with what the three Parties had done, I should not be prepared to stand up here and support the Bill. But I think the Bill itself is justified on its merits. Whatever may have been the position in the past, and whatever controversies may have taken place, to-day the denominational school is an accepted feature in our educational system. It is there, and it is there to stay; and our business is to use it to the best advantage for our children. If we will the end we have got to will the means; and there is no doubt that the denominational schools could not carry on efficiently and 1138 effectively with their existing functions unless they were provided with additional resources, having regard to the heavy increase in the cost of living. There have been negotiations, and the 75 per cent. is regarded as a reasonable proportion of the contribution to pay to the denominational schools. We on this side do not quarrel with that figure. We think it is right and we hope that it will be found to be adequate to enable the denominational schools to carry out their functions to our mutual satisfaction. I do not think I need say more. We accept this Bill. We are glad that it has been possible, by and large, if not 100 per cent., to get agreement on this matter, and we hope that we shall always be able to keep this question of education out of the field of political controversy.
§ 3.27 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, I hope that I may renew the welcome given to this Bill at an earlier stage as it was voiced by the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. We welcome it—I speak, of course, not from any sectional view in the Church of England—both for the provisions which it makes, generous in content, and also because it is within the framework and spirit of the 1944 Act. But we welcome it perhaps still more because of the spirit in which it has been promoted and because of the sympathetic co-operation it has received from all Parties. We all recognise that in certain issues of education there will be sharp personal divisions. Inasmuch as education deals not with means only but with ends, that is inevitable even desirable. So that with the harmonious reception of this Bill and the, self-restraint of those who, quite rightly, have their own personal doubts about it, it is most heartening to us all in the light of past controversy—a good augury for the future. We recognise that this is largely due to the desire of all sides that education should be extended as widely, as fully and as quickly as it can be through the community, and should be lifted wholly out of the level of sectional, political or religious controversy.
Speaking for the Church of England, I can say that we have sought, so far as has been in our power, to keep this 1139 level that all Parties in Parliament have ensured. We have endeavoured in our negotiations to live at peace with all men. We have refrained even from good words sometimes to that purpose; and in the working out of the 1944 Act, even if it has sometimes been necessary to forgo what might seem opportunities of church secondary education which we might otherwise have taken, we have been ready and happy to forgo them in order that educational advance should not be delayed.
We also welcome the Bill because it acknowledges, as the noble Viscount has said, the value of the partnership which was established and sealed in one degree between Church and State in 1944; and it gives us in the voluntary bodies help to maintain that partnership in the changed circumstances of our own day. We believe that this partnership is of real value and worth keeping. There is a value in what are popularly called Church schools, both in their specific emphasis and in their religious content, and also as an enterprise in Christian education which can link the Church, the school and the community more closely together.
I hope it will be recognised by your Lordships that the Church's desire—and I speak for, surely, the Roman Catholic Church as well as the Church of England—to maintain their share in education at a financial cost which this Bill will alleviate but will certainly not remove, is a concrete pledge of the concern which countless citizens really feel for Christian education of this type. Those who are trying to maintain (and figures may perhaps be quoted later) the share of the voluntary bodies in education will be greatly encouraged to think that, as this Bill shows, the community as a whole wish the partnership to continue. At the same time, of course, we would admit that there are other ways in which partnership is made effective in a national system of education and outside the voluntary aided schools. If we plead for the dual system, it is not in order to divide the community into sheep and goats so that we should care for the sheep only and not the goats or, alternatively, according to one's own attitude, for the goats and not the sheep. It is rather that we can maintain our help to what the State set 1140 its hand to in 1944: that religious education shall be made available, in some degree, to all.
The content of teaching and the quality of the teachers are the concern of Christian people as much as their own specifically denominational schools. In this they are trying to play their part in helping to draw up agreed syllabuses for schools; still more perhaps in the provision of teachers—and how much we welcome the readiness of the State to continue this partnership through the Church training colleges by the generous grant made to extend our share there. We in the Church of England are undertaking a bill of between £1¼ million and £1½ million in the extension of Church training colleges, and that must go on side by side with the share which we have undertaken—and gladly undertaken—for the schools. I need not, therefore, stress how greatly we welcome the assistance which this Bill seeks to provide.
May I briefly say something about the spirit and relationship between the Churches as we have experienced it during the past twelve months or more, while this whole question was in the air? When the Church Assembly made so bold as to request consideration of an increase in the grant for voluntary aided schools within the framework of the existing Acts, it was not proceeding on its own. It had already fully discussed the issues that might be involved with the other parties concerned—with the Roman Catholic Church, with the Free Churches, and with the professional and educational bodies; but since, in particular, the main difficulties have been raised by some members of the Free Churches, it is fair to state that the Church of England through its Board of Education and Schools Council has been holding meetings with them over the past twelve months or more. We have been able to appreciate far more deeply and understand the particular points on which any injustice might be felt or consciences disturbed and have sought to suggest ways in which these might be eased. They centre, as is well known, around the single-school areas and provision of agreed syllabuses of teaching for children of those who desire it there, and the appointment or association of representatives of the Free Churches in the management of those schools.
1141 On these points, it is difficult perhaps to say how deeply they are felt by the Free Churches. There is good evidence that a great many members of the Free Churches appreciate very much the kind of education which is provided in what are called Church schools, but at the same time it is not a numerical question. If there be one or more difficulties or injustices that might arise, it would be only proper that there should be means of relieving them, as was stressed in the debate in another place. Two primary difficulties which are felt can be met under the existing Statute; and I should only like to add, speaking for the Church of England, that it will widely welcome ways in which difficulties of that kind can be met.
The assurance of the Minister that he will himself use his offices to encourage steps within the Act to get rid of local or difficult grievances is something we should indeed welcome. We are satisfied that this is much more effectively achieved in the informal ways, the local ways, that are already available under the Statute than by any new statutory provision. After all, they depend upon local circumstances and local understanding and they can best be solved at that level. All I would add and emphasise is that, speaking here after a debate that was held in the Church Assembly this morning on this very issue, I am in a slightly stronger position to voice the feeling of Anglicans than before. This course was urged upon them by the Schools Council and the Board of Education, whose representatives had had the privilege of long discussions with the Minister and his staff, the Free Churches, the Roman Catholics and others. It was our desire that the Church of England should express its mind with as much authority as it can in this debate upon those points which have been felt during recent controversy or discussion to press most hardly on some individuals or sections of the community.
It has been recommended, and I am glad to say this morning accepted almost unanimously by the Church Assembly, that the means by which this continuous round-table conference could be established should be welcomed by us in every diocese of this country. We urged upon the dioceses of the Church of England that this principle should be observed: 1142 that, within the provisions of the existing Education Acts, it should be made easier for a child in a single-school area aided school whose parents asked for him to have agreed-syllabus teaching to have such teaching in the school; and, secondly, that some Free Church representation upon the managing and governing bodies of single-school area aided schools should be made possible where the local situation makes it desirable. That is an assertion of a principle which will have to be made effective locally. But in order that it should be made effective we would go further and ask, first, that arrangements should be made for the conversations between the Board of Education and the Schools Council, on the one hand, and the Free Churches, on the other, to continue on a permanent basis. That will take place, if you like, at the central level; but we desire also that dioceses should be asked to ensure that arrangements exist for permanent consultation between diocesan educational committees and local representatives of the Free Churches.
My Lords, I must apologise for wearying your Lordships with what may seem very local detail. I desire to make it clear that we are anxious not only to meet the particular points which negotiations and discussions around this Bill have made public, and to meet them at the local level, where they may be solved, and to establish permanent machinery for meeting them in the future; but, beyond that, to be able to continue what surely is the most enheartening aspect of this Bill, and that is the growing sense of co-operation between the voluntary bodies, the Ministry, and the educational authorities, in the whole field of education. Our co-operation would no doubt have been inconceivable fifty years ago; and while it was established anew in 1944, the fact that this Bill can be received by all three Parties in such a wise and understanding way is surely an indication that we have progressed further along this line in the last eighteen years or so, and there is hope that we can continue that progress even further.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ THE EARL or IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, somewhat unexpectedly, and at short notice, I have been asked to say "Thank you" for the aid that has been 1143 given to the Roman Catholic schools under this Bill. It is a task that I am very anxious indeed to perform as gracefully as I can, but it is a rather difficult one, because I have got to say, "Thank you, but…". I have got to say, "We are very grateful for what we have received, but we did hope to receive a rather larger and more comprehensive measure of aid" However, for what we have received we are indeed truly thankful, because it enables us to continue to play our part in the dual system.
The dual system is not popular in all quarters, but most of us will agree that it is the only possible system for this country, and it has not prevented our having a very fine educational system indeed. I have seen something of the best products of that education. It is my pleasure and my great privilege to see something of the students at a provincial university and to get to know some of them fairly well. I would say of these products of our secondary schools what very fine young people they are: what decent, good young men they are, and what respectable, pleasant, womanly young women. I would say this, too: that they are a religious lot. Naturally, perhaps, I see most of the Roman Catholic students, but I also meet the Anglican students, and I know that they have very keen Anglican societies and that they are good churchgoing Anglicans. I meet the Free Church students, and I know that they are earnest and keen workers, and that they are doing a lot through their infectious cheerfulness to revivify the chapels in the villages of my neighbourhood. I have even had the very pleasant experience of meeting a Jewish student. I invited a Catholic girl student out to dinner, and said, "Bring a friend". She brought a charming young Jewess, who told me what a keen little Jewish society they had in that university. Whatever criticisms may be made of our educational system, I am not afraid of the future for religion among young people.
In this dual system that has produced, so far as I can see, such excellent results, we want to play our part; and when the cost of building, and the standards of the schools we have had to build, went up enormously (as it has done since the Butler Act) we had to come to Her Majesty's Government and explain that, 1144 without further aid, we could not carry on—that we could not play our part. I dare say that many noble Lords other than I are conscious of the fact that the last thing to feel an inflationary influence is a church collection plate. A penny does not get you very much nowadays. It does not buy you a paper, a box of matches, or a bus ride; but for too many people it buys them a comfortable seat in a well-warmed church. That was the difficulty we were up against; and we had to come to the Ministry. We were not anxious to do so: we were forced to do so. We had to come and say, "Conditions have altered. We beg for a little more help so that we may play our part".
I am glad to say we were most courteously received; and we feel that, though the Ministry may not always agree with us, the Ministry does understand us. When the agreement had been made, we were taken on to the Party Leaders. I am very glad to say that the three Party Leaders—and I speak of them with the independence that becomes these Benches—showed themselves to be just and honourable men, and gave our claims a fair and unprejudiced hearing. Although, as I have said, I am not wholly content with the answer that they have given us, yet that really does not interfere with the warmth of the thanks which I would convey to your Lordships.
§ 3.48 p.m.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, in view of the nature of the speeches which have been made so far in this debate, it is obvious to me that I have a fairly difficult task in attempting the speech that I am now going to make. I am very glad indeed that in the last five decades, during my earnest interest in education at all times, there has been a great deal of improvement in the feeling between the denominations; but I am bound to say, as a Nonconformist and as a Baptist, that I find it very difficult to follow the noble and learned Viscount in his opening speech if he thinks that the Free Churchmen as a whole in this country are satisfied with this Bill, or ever will be.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I think the noble Viscount will remember that I expressly said that they were dissatisfied, and had expressed their dissatisfaction.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I believe the noble Viscount did, but he seemed to me to make reservations. However, I will read again what he said when I see it in the morning, and if there is anything wrong in what I have said, I will certainly communicate with him. The real point is that the difficulties of the Free Churches on these problems have still to be met. During the early consideration of this measure, there was some feeling that although the Free Churches may have had conversations with other demoninations, as the right reverend Prelate said just now, they should ask the Minister to receive a deputation upon this Bill. So far as I know, that was the first time the responsible leaders of the Free Churches had talks with the Minister. Right up to the month of May, when I was in conversations with them, they still felt that their main points were not being met. May I say that since the Bill has passed through another place, I have received many letters from Free Churchmen showing that they are much disturbed. I do not want to go into details of what they have said to me about the Bill, but I should feel unhappy in my heart if at this stage I did not try to put on record in the OFFICIAL REPORT of the proceedings in your Lordships' House the case of the Protestants of this country against some of the things that are being done under the dual system.
Believe me, my Lords, I do not speak without knowledge. For some years I have been President of the Bristol and Clifton Protestant League, which represents not only Noncomformists but also many sections of the Church of England. I am also President of the United Kingdom Council of Protestant Churches, who have issued their own protest against the steps which are being taken in the Bill to further the dual system. My right honourable friend Mr. Chuter Ede pointed out in another place recently, in a speech for which, although I did not agree with all of it, he is to be admired and respected because it was so fair, that at the time the 1944 Act was being brought to birth Doctor Scott Lidgett, that fine and saintly leader of the Free Churches, came gradually to the point when the only outstanding question was that of the single-school area. One of the main objections of Protestants, 1146 and especially Nonconformists, is that the difficulties in the single-school areas have never been resolved. I agree with the right reverend Prelate that steps are being taken to have some machinery of a permanent kind for the Church of England to consult with representatives of the Free Churches, but when it comes to educational legislation we find that the ordinary rank-and-file Protestants do not see anything much in the promise to have conversations. When the Act of 1902 was passed and when the 1944 Act was passed, with all the forward steps it made in education as a whole, Nonconformist grievances were never really met and they are not met now.
I am not saying this from a Party point of view, because I think that Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd has been very assiduous in his task upon this Bill, but it is strange that it should be so late in the day when this comes forward. It was not brought forward after the delegation from the Free Churches was, received by him somewhere towards the end of January until the Bill came before another place in June. There has been little time for the great network of Free Churches all over the country to be fully consulted about these suggestions and for their views to be organised. Nevertheless, I agree with the right reverend Prelate that there is a hopeful sign. But I am sure that he and all other leaders of the Church of England must see that if the Free Churches are going to get real satisfaction, we do not want only friendly conversations but also something either in an Act of Parliament or in the regulations made under an Act of Parliament which will ensure that the local authorities carry out the administration of education in these areas in such a way as to satisfy the objections of the Free Churches.
In his speech in another place, Mr. Chuter Ede referred specifically to the danger that the single-school areas would not be properly administered, and said that in many cases no attempt was made to ascertain the true feelings and desires of the parents on the question of the agreed syllabus. As I read that, my mind was cast back to when I was a boy at a board school in Bristol, administered under the Forster Act of 1870. We had an agreed syllabus for all board schools under that Act, which I suggest would 1147 stand up in any school of any denomination anywhere. Not only was there an agreed syllabus but a minister of any denomination was allowed to come in to any scripture lesson and ask the scholars questions. It was a special syllabus which brought to us, not denominational teaching, to which objection might be made by some of the households represented in the school, but teaching which enabled us to learn the real Decalogue, not the one which has alterations made to the Second Commandment; which enabled us to learn and repeat Psalms like the 23rd and the 51st, and the 53rd Chapter of Isaiah; to understand the last chapter, the twelfth chapter, of the Book of Ecclesiastes; which enabled us to learn the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes especially, and St. John XIV, beginning:Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.And which enabled us to learn all this without any idea that some special denominational passage had been gone through. There was security and certainty and an end in the promise therein made. My mind goes back to it, and I look at the steps that were taken to see that it was efficient. There were written examinations for each of the older standards, the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh standards; and prizes were given. I have used during the years that have gone by a Testament, a Bible, and that most valuable thing to any student, Cruden's Concordance, which was given in open examinations on an agreed syllabus all those years back. I should be really delighted if I could see (without now desiring in any way to interfere with denominational teaching as such) that you could give in any of the single school areas the certainty to the parents of the children who have to go to denominational schools in those areas that they would be able to get, without any fuss being made about it or any difficulty of arranging for it, the benefit of the agreed syllabus.
That point has not yet been made. If the conversations referred to this afternoon continue, as I hope they will, well and good. But if not, I do beg of those who talk about the need for the kind of Bill we have before us to-day and the dual 1148 system and how much more expensive it would be, I beg them not to try to drive underground the feelings of a very large body of Protestants and Free Churchmen. If you do that long enough, you will certainly get something much more explosive than there has been at the present time or in 1944. That would be a grave error of judgment.
There is objection, too, I find among Protestants, that there is no real need to make grants at this particular rate. I am rather astonished to hear from the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, who is, I know, such a devoted member of his own Church, that they could thank the Government and Parliament for what had been given, but that they certainly asked for a great deal more. There is support at once from his compatriot in the Church sitting upon this side of the House. That is what the Free Churches and Protestants fear. Even Mr. Chuter Ede, I noticed in another place, drew attention to the paragraph in The Times that these proposals in the Bill seemed to mark an "impermanence". They are not satisfied, and nothing short of 100 per cent. apparently is going to be the objective, of the Roman Catholic Church especially.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
I hesitate, as I am not myself an educational expert, to deal with this rather difficult question, but I think it is a matter not so much of the percentage as of the schools to which the percentage can be drawn; and I do not think that in our wildest dreams we have actually thought in terms of 100 per cent.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
Yes; I suppose that is representing truly the position of the noble Earl. But it was only three days before the Second Reading of the Bill in another place when that very good newspaper, the Church of England Newspaper, on June 19 had a leading article on this matter. I read it with very great interest and I seem to get support from a quotation from the Church of England Newspaper for what the noble Earl said today: "Thanks for favours received up to now." This is what the newspaper said:Thus Rome will accept the benefits of tolerance. We should be deceiving ourselves if we thought she accepted its principles. This is the problem: the challenge contained in the Bill. Rome is playing for the highest stakes. 1149 Her aim in this country has been plainly stated by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Clifton on April 12, 1957, namely, the conversion of every man, woman and child.In supporting the dual system the Catholic hierarchy say: "We cannot do so ultimately unless we reach the final goal of 100 per cent. grant." Is that it?
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
I only ask the noble Viscount this question: how could any Christian accept any lesser aim than the conversion of every man, woman and child in the whole world to what he believes to be the truth?
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I think there is a great deal in that remark, although I doubt very much whether either prophecy or the New Testament would say that it was a goal likely, under the Sovereign Grace of God, to be reached. What is really meant in the case of the statement by the Bishop of Clifton is that their aim is to do that in this country. That is not breaking in any way the chain of connection. I think it was Cardinal Manning, who was a convert to Roman Catholicism in this country and who rose to great heights, who said to a meeting of Jesuit fathers: "Now reverend fathers, your task lies ahead of you, to bend and break the will of a great Imperial people". I have not seen any very great departure from that, at any rate, in the term of my life. That is the point.
In regard to this dual system, why should the parents of Free Church children take objection to their children going to a Catholic school or, in some cases, to a Church of England school, where the incumbent and those who support him in management are by no means Protestants?—indeed, very often, on the contrary, they do things which are much more in the practice of the Roman Catholic Church. In such cases I much more admire the priesthood and congregation of the Roman Catholic Church for openly having their plan to pursue, and for not carrying out something that is not in accordance with their ordination. It does happen sometimes, even in the Church of England, that things are done which are highly offensive to those who hold the Protestant view. Why should they not therefore have a remedy? Why should they not be able to make a proper protest on such occasions as this? 1150 The Party to which I belong has every right, with all the other Parties, to be striving to remove political friction and to get the best possible results out of any educational discussion or legislation at the time being. But it is a curious thing to me that this should be done in an electoral year. Perhaps the anxiety, in fact, was to prevent undue controversy in an electoral period for any of the Parties concerned.
I should like to add this. One of the main reasons why Protestants object to sending children to a Catholic school, is that unless they get special treatment under a special syllabus, the Catholic teachers will do their duty as they see it and teach the whole basis not only of the Scripture but of the canons of their Church, and all the things which they feel must be carried out under those canons. It is because they believe that the Bible itself is the canon for the Protestant church and the Free Churches that they can never do that. I will not read them, but if my friends of the Catholic faith, like the noble Earl, Lord Iddlesleigh, or my noble friend and colleague Lord Pakenham, will do me the honour of reading the last half a dozen verses of the ninth Chapter of Hebrews and the first two verses of the tenth Chapter of Hebrews I think they will see why Protestants take that view. It is no wonder that in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England, the Mass, which is performed by those who think differently in the Catholic Church, is described as "blasphemous deceit". There it is.
It is very disturbing to Free Churchmen when we see the kind of agreement that suddenly seems to come from the Church of England for proposals for Roman Catholic schools, when they could, I think, have done with something less. The Protestant members of the Church of England for whom I am speaking, many of whom have seen me in the last few weeks and belong to the two Associations of which I am President, fear the extension of Roman Catholicism. My friend in another place, Mr. Chuter Ede, said that he did not think that Roman Catholic schools could ever be used for proselytising. I cannot accept that view. All the writings of the Fathers in the Church of Rome in the last century seem to indicate that one of them had spoken their mind when he 1151 said: "Give me a child up to the age of seven or eight, and I think we can hold him afterwards." I think there is a great deal to be said for that statement.
There is one other thing I should like to say. Figures were quoted as to what was now the practice in Scotland, of 100 per cent. grant, and of the grants given elsewhere. But I am bound to say that many Nonconformists feel that they are under a grave handicap; and sometimes my own experience supports that view. Take the case of my own little church. There Baptists and Congregationalists have to raise, among our small membership of fifty or sixty, £1,000 a year just to pay the expenses of services and the minister, and to make some contributions for the mission field. Several of us who go there have to contribute somewhere near perhaps what we first of all have to find and pay in church tithes. I pay £58 a year in church tithes for the maintenance of the Church of England; and we have to find the other. Now you are going to get an extension of building grants. As was pointed out to me in Bristol, where I was on Saturday, by the Secretary of the local Bristol Clifton Protestant League, in some cases Catholic schools are being built on housing estates and, of course, used completely on Sundays and weekdays for their Catholic services and other Catholic activities. When we compare that with the position of the Nonconformist, with the kind of conditions of which I have spoken in my own village, what sort of opportunity have we, with our resources, to match that which is going on?
Yet we should not mind at all if we could see the permanent basis of Protestantism maintained. I hope that the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester will remind the most reverend Primate of the occasion—it must be now about eighteen months ago—when the Church of England introduced a most welcome Church Measure in which the Commissioners had agreed with Convocation to set aside (I think it was) £1 million for the development and promotion of Church secondary schools in aid of the general drive for secondary education. I spoke from this Bench about it. I did not try to damp that down, but welcomed it very much. 1152 I then pointed to the fact that there had been such a wonderful improvement in general in the feelings between the denominations, which I hoped would continue. I said that there was nothing like the widespread demand nowadays for the disestablishment of the Church of England as there was at the time of the controversy over the Balfour; and I did not think there would ever be if we could feel that the Established State Church of England would remain and expand its depth of belief in the Protestant faith. Never was the witness more necessary. I, standing at this Despatch Box, declare my honest conviction that the adoption by this country four hundred years ago of the Protestant faith, of its witness for it and all its sacrifices for it, have had more to do with the greatness of this country than any other single factor in her history and led to her respect and the freedom that she brought all over the world.
There are those still in our Nonconformist ranks who, even looking at concurrent circumstances in the world, have the same anxiety that our forefathers: we still have that anxiety. If I could be assured, for example, by my noble friend Lord Pakenham, who is such a charming person to know and meet, that all the countries abroad which are completely Roman Catholic in their religion would show the same tolerance to Protestants as we in this country show to Roman Catholics, what a difference there might be in the get-together between them!
Earlier it was possible that the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, might intervene in this debate as the leading layman of the Roman Catholic denomination. I am glad that the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, was able to speak in the position he would have taken in the debate, as early as he did. I know that we had a rather extraordinary occasion just before the visit of the two Russian Ministers to the Conservative Government here, when the noble Duke came and spoke for two or three minutes and unfortunately left at once. I said something about Catholic countries like Spain and Colombia. I should like to say (I had hoped that the noble Duke would be here to-day) that, although it was months afterwards, the noble Duke did go to the Embassy of one of the countries concerned and reasoned with 1153 them and asked if some of the persecutions and even martyrdom of Protestants in these Catholic countries could be done away with. I sincerely thank him for that. But we in the Free Church and Protestant ranks fear such an extension of Roman Catholicism, because we are dealing not only with people's personal religious faith but with an organisation of temporal power in the world which is of enormous and ever-expanding importance. What we desire to be quite sure about is that we do not make any mistakes in our progress in future legislation such as would lead us to a lack of that freedom and toleration in this country that we gladly extend in general to our Catholic friends.
§ 4.20 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the Lord Bishop of Chichester has already spoken with more detailed knowledge of this subject than I can offer, but it seems fitting that someone else should rise on these Benches to add a word of appreciation of this Bill which we, as Anglicans, welcome, first and foremost because, as the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury said in your Lordship's House, it recognises that the Church of England has tried its best to co-operate with the local education authorities and teachers in the building up of a national educational system on a religious foundation.
Having said that, may I ask for that kindly consideration which your Lordships invariably extend to one who makes his maiden speech? Although I have been a Member of your Lordships' House for some time, this is the first time that I have risen to address you. The noble Viscount who opened the debate said that he had not with him the figures of contributions made by the Church of England. It may interest your Lordships to have some of those figures. The Church of England, in meeting the offer and the challenge of the 1944 Act, has contributed nearly £8 million, and is at the moment spending £1 million a year, and in so doing has maintained approximately 3,500 aided and special agreement schools, which represent a fairly substantial number of the schools of this nation.
The Minister's White Paper in December, 1958, proposing a greatly accelerated building programme for 1154 primary and secondary schools, was particularly welcome in rural areas, where considerable numbers of children do not yet enjoy the facilities for secondary education proposed in the 1944 Act. At the same time, restrictions on school building, particularly severe in 1957 and 1958, have delayed improvements on primary schools and the replacement of unsatisfactory buildings. The Minister's new policy, while welcome in itself, also had the effect of increasing the financial difficulties. It is calculated that a full response in my own diocese at the 50 per cent. grant rate would require us to treble the sum of £3,500 per annum which has already been voted by the Diocesan Conference. Therefore the increased grant proposed in this Bill will be very welcome indeed. But, even so, it will only just make it possible to finance a greatly enlarged and accelerated programme, much of which is due to unforeseen increases in the school population.
Already managers and governors are approaching my own Diocesan Council of Education for grants for immediate enlargements to their schools. One new Church secondary school in the diocese of Salisbury, planned for 450 pupils, has to house nearly 600. Another, planned for 340 and opened only a few weeks ago by the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, houses 430 and needs immediate enlargement, while primary schools have often to be enlarged to five or six classes from the three or four originally proposed by the local education authority. In all this the Church of England is simply seeking to fulfil the requirements of the 1944 Act and is not seeking to build new schools in areas where children were not previously in Church schools.
May I at this point try to say something in reply to the very moving speech which was made by the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough? I am proud to follow the noble Viscount. The last time I spoke after him was some years ago at a "Warship Week" when we were completely in agreement, perhaps more than we shall find ourselves to-day. I want only to say this. Generally speaking, though one is aware of the sense of grievance on the part of certain Free Churchmen, that is not our experience. Indeed, there are parishes where there is evidence that Free 1155 Churchmen value a strongly Christian school where it exists, even though that school be an Anglican one, and there are parishes where many of the clergy and Anglican teachers take the greatest care in respecting the rights of conscience.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, would the right reverend Prelate say that in those cases if a Baptist like myself has a child he would not require it to learn the Catechism? I beg the right reverend Prelate's pardon; I had forgotten it was a maiden speech.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SALISBURY
Free Churchmen, including Free Church ministers, are not infrequently found among the managers of Church schools, and where Free Church ministers are resident they normally take part in the opening of new Church school premises, especially in those rural areas which may be regarded as single-school areas. At the school recently opened by the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, to which I have alluded, the only new Church secondary school in a single-school area in my diocese, provivision has been made for a Free Church governor who will look after the interests of Free Church children, in addition to the statutory safeguards of the Education Acts.
The Church of England is anxious to continue a ministry to the children of this nation. This is done in many ways—through the training of teachers and the service of Church men and women in schools and colleges of all kinds. But it is increasingly clear to some of us, at least, that religious instruction, or even the influence of individual teachers, apart from the life of a worshipping Church, is likely to fall short of its full effect. Reference has been made to the debate this morning in the Church Assembly, an indication, I think, of the welcome which the Church of England extends to this Bill for the opportunity that it affords for forging the closest possible links between Church, school and home, and we are indeed grateful to the Minister for his sympathetic understanding of the difficulties which, through no fault of the Churches, have arisen since 1944.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ LORD MACDONALD of GWAENYSGOR
My Lords, a very pleasant duty falls upon me, to offer the sincere congratulations of your Lordships to the right reverend Prelate. I notice that although he has been with us ten years he has been wise enough to await an occasion when he could speak with authority. Not every Peer does that, but the right reverend Prelate on this occasion has shown the wisdom of waiting until he could speak with great authority on the question before the House.
I am in agreement with all your Lordships who have addressed the House so far, and I feel sure with those who will address the House during the rest of this debate, in saying that we are deeply indebted to many men, and I expect some women, who have made this Bill possible. The Minister of Education was confronted with a very difficult problem in deciding what to do. He received the complaints of certain religious organisations that they were unable to carry out their responsibility for the schools for which they are responsible. He was asked, could he go and help them.
As the noble and learned Viscount in opening the debate indicated, the Minister had a number of courses open to him. He could have said, "No, I am not doing anything now. There will probably be an Election this year. I will await until after the Election, and if I am returned then and am still the Minister of Education I will see what I can do; but I am not doing it now, on the eve of an Election" He could have taken that course, but I think he was very wise in not taking it. I am a little older than the noble Viscount who opened the debate, and I have seen a great many of these ups and downs. I have fought a few Parliamentary elections where this has been an issue and I do not want to see any friend of mine fighting any more issues of that kind. I think that ought to be avoided if at all possible. So, in my view, the Minister could not have taken that course, it would have been the wrong course. He could have introduced legislation without consultation. It was quite open to him to say, "Yes, I am satisfied. It needs no consultation. I will go ahead" Or, again, he could have decided to have consultation before legislation. He took the latter 1157 course, and in doing so I think showed himself a very wise statesman.
I have a complaint here, however. The noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, was good enough to tell us that the Anglicans were in favour, and that the Romans were in favour; but he also made it perfectly plain to me that the Free Churches were not in favour. I am wondering, supposing it had been the Free Churches and the Anglicans in favour and not the Romans, what then? Would he have gone ahead? Or supposing that it had been the Romans and the Free Church in favour, and not the Anglicans, would he then have gone ahead? No. But because it was the mere Free Church the attitude taken was: "Who are they? We can afford to ignore them: they do not count in the country" That is what hurts me. I agree that he made a valiant effort to get the Free Churches to agree; but the fact is they did not do so. But despite their disagreement he did not hesitate to go on with it. That was not to my mind very statesmanlike. However here we are; the Bill is before us. Seven years ago, opening a debate in this House on the Ridley Report on Fuel and Power I said of the present Minister of Education that I thought he lacked enthusiasm on that occasion; at least he did not reveal much enthusiasm for that Report. That is something I do not say about him with regard to this Bill. He has shown real enthusiasm and keenness, and a good grasp of the problem.
The noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, was a very honest man indeed, but his noble friend Lord Pakenham was just as honest before the debate. I put it to him (he is a very good friend indeed): "You know, Frank, what you fellows are out for is to turn the United Kingdom into a Catholic country. That is behind all these moves that are taking place." I agree with the noble Earl when he asks: "If you have a religion which you believe is the finest in the world, should you not do all you can to get the world converted to that fine religion?" Of course, I do not mind, so long as we know that is what is going on. I do not mind in the least, and I shall do my best to convert this country, and some other countries, too, to my conception of religion. Why should I not? But we do know where we are now on this issue, particularly when two very prominent 1158 Roman Catholic Members of this House tell us "we do all we can that Rome should reconquer England." So long as we know, I do not mind.
Perhaps I may intervene to say that I never phrased any statement in that form. I do not know whether this is based on a conversation with me. Reconquest must be understood to be forcible reconquest.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, if I may venture to intervene in this interesting discussion, we are, after all, discussing the Second Reading of a Bill. I am reluctant to curtail in any sense the width or range of debate when people are discussing their widest convictions, but there is nothing in the Bill about the reconquest of England. I am wondering whether the House ought not to confine itself a little to the subject under discussion.
LORD MACDONALD or GWAENYSGOR
This Bill, it became clear to us, is a result of what the Romans wanted. I do ask the noble Viscount to keep in mind what I have said already about the Free Church objections. It is no good saying that the Free Churches do not count. If the Romans had objected would they have counted? It is no use taking the attitude, "Do not touch that: it is a sore point." That is not of the slightest use.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I was only seeking to say that the House is dealing with a piece of legislation. I was certainly not in the least—and I do not think the noble Lord could suggest I was—seeking to avoid discussion of any point relevant to the merits or demerits of the Bill. But I felt, as acting Leader on this occasion, that when the noble Lord entered into a personal discussion with the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, as to what he said outside this House about the reconquest of England, he was possibly straying a little far from the subject.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
I know what happened. It did not suit the noble Viscount, so he thought he had found a pretext for intervening. There were three religious bodies involved before this legislation was introduced. They are relevant to this legislation. It is because two of them agreed that the 1159 legislation was introduced, and it is no use talking about the irrelevance of that; it is relevant to this particular Bill.
What I want to submit is this: we Nonconformists feel that we cannot allow this Bill to go through merely because we are ignored by the representatives of the Government. That is why we are making our observations. I have no intention of dividing against this Bill. My Party have decided at a Party meeting that the best thing to do is to support the Bill. I have always been, both in another place and here, a loyal member of my own Party. Whatever they decide I accept, even when I am not in favour, as I expect them to accept when I am in the majority. What are we going to do? The noble Viscount reminds us that we are dealing with a Bill in a particular form to help to educate the child population of this country in primary and secondary schools. I agree with him that there has been a danger of forgetting that this is an Education Bill. I know that it is such a Bill, and I am as anxious as he is that every child in this country, whoever its parents are, and whatever may be their religious persuasion, should be helped to develop to its fullest capacity. That is the education I want.
Reference has been made to single-school areas. The single-school areas are rather important. I was pleased that the noble Viscount himself in his early remarks made reference to that matter, and I was still more pleased when the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester outlined, as the Minister had already done on Third Reading in another place, what the position now is. I agree that it is difficult. I speak from experience here. For many years—over forty years—I lived in a single-school area in Lancashire, and now I am in contact with a good number of single-school areas in Wales. The only school education I ever had was in an Anglican school, and I have been most grateful for that education ever since; it has been most helpful.
But I can remember when I met the local curate. We migrants from North Wales came to Wigan in Lancashire. We had not been there very long before there was a knock on the door and there stood the curate. My mother had answered his knock, and he said, "I am the curate 1160 of the Anglican Mission Church. I wonder whether you and the family"—there were six of us—"would care to attend?" My mother said. "We are attending at present the little Welsh Church a few hundred yards away" At that he said, "Oh, I am sorry; better go there than nowhere" That was the keenness and enthusiasm of the curate; He was going to get us into the Church; he had already got us into the school.
We must find some way of enabling those who are not Anglicans to attend somewhere where they can take a more active part in the arrangements. It is not easy. I think that the right reverend Prelate has helped in this matter, and that the Minister, too, has helped to try to find out what is the position in Wales. As your Lordships know, I speak in many capacities in this House. Sometimes I speak as a miners' representative, sometimes as a Nonconformist, and sometimes as a Welshman. On this occasion I speak as a Welshman. I was anxious to know, as were some others in another place, what was the exact position in Wales as regards the Roman Catholic Church and also their schools, and also as to the schools in the rural area. This was put in the form of a Question. The Minister was asked how many all-age schools there were in Wales and Monmouthshire; how many Roman Catholic aided schools; how many Church in Wales aided schools, and how many single school areas, respectively.
Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd said that there were 89 all-age schools in Wales and Monmouthshire; that in January, 1958, there were 105 Church in Wales aided schools or departments and 81 Roman Catholic aided schools or departments, and that about 60 of the Church in Wales aided schools or departments are in rural areas. He could not say precisely how many of those are in areas where alternative provision is not readily available, and he was not aware of any Roman Catholic aided school which would fall into that category.
That answer gave me insight into the fact that there are in Wales quite a number more than I thought there were. I thought that the number of single-school areas in Wales was very small. But do remember that the Church in Wales is no longer an Established Church. I am sorry that they have not 1161 been brought into the consultations to the extent that they might have been. I can well understand it. The Established Church of the Government here in England has been consulted. We in Wales have a Church in Wales, but not a Church of Wales. They may well have been consulted, but we feel that they have not been brought into consultation to the extent that they might have been.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
My Lords, perhaps I might intervene to inform the noble Lord that in the negotiations between the Church of England and the representatives of the Free Churches, there was at least one representative of the Church in Wales on the Anglican side, and that in our conversations with the Minister or at the Ministry the Church in Wales was similarly represented. I cannot speak for the preachers' representative, but I can speak to the other point.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
My Lords, I was speaking with some little doubt because I did not know; but I thought that they had not been brought in at all. With regard to Nonconformists—the noble Viscount knows that "Nonconformity" is a strong word in Wales—they have not been brought in except indirectly, on similar lines to those to which I have already referred. The point I am making is that these single-school areas present us with a problem. I think that the approach now being made by the Minister himself is, in the circumstances, the right approach. What I should like to ask the Minister to-day is whether he has got any further than he had on Third Reading, at the time when he was still having meetings over which he presided? I am wondering whether he has arrived at any finality since then.
I agree that this is an Education Bill. I agree that the test of the Bill will not be what it does for the Catholics or for the Anglicans or for the Nonconformists. The test will be what it will do for the children of Britain—will it make a contribution to their education? That is all that matters to me. I am concerned not so much for good Anglicans or for good Catholics, or even for good Nonconformists; I am more concerned for good human beings. If the passing of this Bill will help our schools to achieve 1162 that end, then I, for one, while I could not say that if there were a Division I should vote for the Bill, would wish it well on its way.
§ 4.47 p.m.
My Lords, I should like to join the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, who has just spoken so movingly, in his tribute to the right reverand Prelate who has delayed so long before making his maiden speech and who has spoken to us in such a charming and impressive way. I cannot at this juncture follow the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor except in one respect. He appeared to think that if it had been the Catholics who had been opposed to this Bill it would probably have not gone forward, but, of course, being poor old Free Churchmen, the Government have ignored their protests. Perhaps I may remind the noble Lord that in fact the Roman Catholics—in this connection may I speak of "Roman Catholics" as Catholics—objected to the settlement of the 1944 Act, but it was proceeded with. So I do not think that there is a great deal in the argument that the Nonconformists have been unfairly treated as compared with their Catholic brethren. I would say only one other thing to my old friend the noble Lord. We have at any rate this in common: that we were both apparently brought up in Anglican schools—with what result the House must judge! At any rate, we have had that same preparation for life.
I speak like other noble Lords from these Benches, except the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in a personal capacity. If I may say so, I think it is typically generous of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, that he has, as it were, thrown away his Field-Marshal's baton this afternoon and shouldered a musket along with the rest of us. He is admired throughout the House; and never, I think, were his claims to admiration greater than this afternoon. He has had a most delicate task in supporting a measure which will bring solid benefits to Catholics, among others. It cannot have been a very agreeable task, but perhaps the most disagreeable in some ways that any Party Leader has found in this House since the Duke of Wellington carried Catholic emancipation in your Lordships' House in 1829. 1163 A well-known Conservative historian describes the perils that the Duke of Wellington encountered at that time from what he called the "truculent Tories and the bigoted Bishops." Nothing could be less truculent than the statesmanlike observations of the noble Viscount this afternoon, or less bigoted than the Christian words that have fallen from the Episcopal Benches.
On that occasion, in 1829, one of the "truculent Tories," Lord Winchelsea, described the Duke of Wellington's conduct so adversely that a duel resulted; and when I heard the noble Viscount say he was going to support this measure I feared that it would not be so much what came from truculent Tories but what my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor said that might involve him in a duel, which would at any rate deprive the House of one great ornament. But that has not been so, and the matter has been dealt with in harmony and good feeling.
We have heard of the Protestant tradition and the Protestant efforts for freedom. I hope, without undue egotism, that I am not, as I should not be, blind and deaf to the charms of that appeal. The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has been kind enough to mention on more than one occasion that the Duke of Wellington married a great-great aunt of mine, and Sir Robert Peel, who carried Catholic emancipation through the House of Commons, was one of my great-great grandfathers; and as my wife was brought up as a Unitarian, as a great-niece of Joseph Chamberlain, I am not unconnected with the Nonconformist Movement. But I speak as an individual Roman Catholic, and it is not for me to add officially to what has been so well said on behalf of the Church by the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, in the absence of the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk.
I should like, and it is certainly my duty—any Catholic with any decent feeling must consider it his duty—to offer thanks to the Government and those who have co-operated with the Government, in all Parties, in arranging this plan. I do not want to embarrass the noble Viscount, but I should be ready to suppose that he exercised a very beneficent influence in these 1164 matters. I assume that, if only because of his record when he was Minister of Education; and certainly he has spoken this afternoon with a fine display of thought and consideration and sympathy. It should just be mentioned, for the sake of the record, that so far as we in the Catholic Church can judge, what was to be a bill for £52 million is, under this Bill, cut down to one for £30 million. The gain would appear to be a gain of £22 million.
The figures are subject to great speculation. As Mr. Chuter Ede said in another place, these calculations can go extraordinarily wrong. In 1944, it was calculated that the Education Estimates would rise, when the education plan was complete, to about £200 million a year. Now, in fact, they are over £600 million—that is for the whole country, not for just denominational education—and all that without raising the school leaving age to sixteen. So these calculations can be very wrong. However, that seems to be the order of magnitude. We have been granted relief to the tune of something like £22 million out of what appeared to be a commitment of £52 million.
If I were asked to present as shortly as possible the case for full Government assistance for denominational education, I would do so in four propositions. I had worked out those four propositions before I heard the noble Viscount's speech and it seems to me that they are not far divorced from his, though I have drawn up my thoughts differently. I have omitted reference to the teachers, and as an old teacher I accept the correction which was introduced, quite rightly, into the argument of the noble Viscount. First of all, there is clearly the duty, the accepted duty, of the State to provide adequate education for all its children without bias in favour of, or penalty discriminating against, any class, colour or creed. This first principle is surely accepted by everyone in your Lordships' House and by all serious people in the country. Secondly, religious teaching, not only in the home but in the schools, is an essential element in all education, though it should not be imposed on those who do not desire it. The Act of 1944 which, as we all recall, for the first time makes an act of worship compulsory in all schools, gives effect to this principle, among others.
1165 Thirdly (this was the first point of the noble Viscount, though he was not, he said, concerned with principles in any special order), parents are entitled to choose the religious atmosphere of the school to which they send their children. That is to say, no one is entitled to stop parents from sending their children to such a school if it can be arranged. I think this principle—what one might call a negative freedom—must be held to have been generally conceded by the national acceptance of the Act of 1944, if not long before that. Fourthly (and this is where some controversy can reasonably begin), subject to a qualification which I will mention in a moment, the parents who desire denominational education, whether it be Anglican, Free Church, Catholic or Jewish—and I am not putting a point of view simply from the angle of one denomination—are entitled to require that such education should be provided by the State without their bearing a heavier burden than the rest of their fellow citizens. I state that as an abstract principle, subject to a qualification. In other words, there is no reason why the parents who regard denominational education—if you have denominational education it must have a particular flavour—as vital to religious upbringing, should be penalised as compared with other parents, as of course they have been and will, to some extent, continue to be under this Bill, although not to the same extent as if the Bill were not going through.
There is an important qualification, otherwise the whole matter could be disposed of on a single sheet of notepaper. The qualification I have in mind is contained, for example, or expressed in Section 76 of the Act of 1944, where the Minister and the local authorities are told—and here I quote:to have regard to the general principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, so far as is compatible with the provision of sufficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure.Special stress is laid on the last point. I need not perhaps this afternoon discuss the question, because I think it is generally accepted, of whether denominational schools are adequately inspected. I will leave that point as it does not seem to be contentious to-day.
1166 The real problem, however, lies elsewhere. Every individual, whether he is a member of a majority or of a minority, in our country is entitled, and certainly receives in this country in overwhelmingly important respects, to various forms of equality. Certainly all that can be summed up under the heading of "equality before the law." But when it comes to the provision of services—for example, the construction of schools—I appreciate, and any sane person must appreciate, that no individual can put in what may be called an abstract claim to equality without reference to the claims of his fellows. I myself (this is not a hypothetical example; it is an actual example) live six miles from the nearest Catholic church, in an area where Catholics are still thinly sprinkled; and it would be quite unreasonable for me to expect to have a school on the doorstep, or perhaps very close. That, as I see it, is the only really important qualification to the principle which I mentioned earlier: the principle that every member of the community, whatever his religious denomination, is entitled to equal assistance from the State in choosing a school of the religious complexion he desires.
But there are a great many practical applications of this qualification and in the past some of them certainly have resulted in controversy over the single-school area. To put it quite bluntly, it may be uneconomic to have more than one school in a certain area, and the minority may suffer compared with what their position would be if they were in some area where they were stronger or where they were in a majority. Clearly, a minority may suffer, as in the past minorities have suffered; and in various ways many difficulties have flowed from the practical application of what I call the qualification.
I felt that the noble Viscount touched a very deep note when he discussed the question of the single-school area; and although I thought I knew most of the main arguments which could be brought up in this matter, he unfolded something which I should like to think over and which I felt was a very fine appreciation of the Catholic point of view. I am delighted to think that the difficulties in connection with the single-school area are now being handled in so friendly a fashion. I was going to say that I was 1167 delighted to think that they are passing away, but, in view of what has fallen from my noble friends, that might be too optimistic a way of referring to them. However, I am glad to think that the atmosphere in that connection is so much happier.
But certainly—and I think this would occur to any dispassionate person following the debates, either in this House or in another place—it is not the difficulties arising from the single-school area which stand in the way of the full concession of the Roman Catholic case. In the last resort, what arguments do stand in the way of what I have called the full Catholic case? It might be said that it would be bad for us to be given 100 per cent.—and that might be so. It might be said that it does not lie in the mouth of the Catholics to put that argument. But there are many Catholics who might put that argument. I think that perhaps it is more an argument for Catholics to address to one another when in their critical or self-critical moods.
However, leaving that aside, I feel that your Lordships might ask yourselves for a few moments: what is the argument in favour of retaining any penalty or discrimination at all against those who desire a particularly denominational kind of schooling? Of course, if anybody dislikes religion, it is a free country. It was said in another place (I do not know with what accuracy) that three very eminent men who have been President of the Board of Education have all been unbelievers. That I was surprised to learn, but it appears to have been so. If anyone dislikes religion, whether he is President of the Board of Education or whatever he is, he may use his influence against it, and I do not think one could necessarily object. In fact, I think it would be difficult to object. But that is not at all the criticism of these provisions that has been brought forward by my Free Church friends. There may also be a few surviving non-Catholic Christians who are genuinely anti-Catholic and who would say, if asked whether they were anti-Catholic, "Yes, and why not? Would you not be if you knew more about them?"
1168 That is a point of view, like many other points of view, but it is not one with which I should be expected to be in sympathy. If one looks at Spain, which is a totalitarian country, one will no doubt find there many features which one thoroughly dislikes; but if one goes on to look at a democratic Catholic country nearer home, one might turn to Southern Ireland, the Irish Republic. The noble Viscount, in his survey of these Islands, skated past Southern Ireland; but, as a matter of fact, he may find many features of the system in Southern Ireland which he will admire. The noble Viscount looks sceptical, but on that point, at least, I think I may be better informed—at any rate, I ought to be better informed—than he is.
But I do not wish to pursue those aspects this afternoon. There may be—it is not a question of "may be"; there are—many more people than belong to either of these groups, and I do not wish to dispose briefly of their case, who object to any form of education that splits up the children and divides the children of the country. They believe—and this is a perfectly understandable view, which is compatible with devout Christianity—that a community gains substantially if all its children are passed through the same type of school. Now I do not want to pursue a political argument in which I embroiled myself with the noble Viscount on a previous occasion. Therefore, I will not discuss this in terms of anything except religion; but, in terms of religious education I certainly cannot accept his view that the community suffers if there are distinctive varieties of education. For good or for ill, in any case, and in my opinion for good, the Act of 1944 which finally recognised and consolidated the dual system has settled that issue.
If one has got as far as that, if one has got to the point of accepting a dual system, no one can argue—and, if I may say so, least of all can any of my Labour or Socialist colleagues—that the parents who opt for a denominational education should pay extra and the children probably receive inferior facilities. That was a point on which, if I understood him correctly, the noble Viscount laid great emphasis. I honestly do not see that an argument of that kind can be sustained once you have admitted that the dual 1169 system has come to stay and is a reputable and acceptable part of our British life.
My Lords, that, in a few sentences—no doubt inadequate sentences—is an outline of the case for full justice for denominations, including the Catholic Communion. But, as I said earlier, no Catholic with any sense of justice, with any power of responding to a generous atmosphere, can fail to be deeply grateful for this measure of relief. I cannot, however, help hoping that our fellow citizens, here and elsewhere, will be impelled by the discussions that have been going on so widely to ask themselves whether we are yet in sight of an answer worthy of our Christianity, our logic, or our humanity. It is not only a question of whether 75 per cent. is enough; it is a question of such vital problems as the new primary schools, which are not affected by the present Bill; and, in many cases, of new secondary schools. On the Catholic side, I am sure that I am expressing Catholic sentiment—certainly I am trying to rise to the level of the attitude of the noble Viscount—when I acknowledge the immense edification which we receive from the lives of many non-Christians. I particularly have in mind what the noble Viscount said. I recall words said to me about non-Catholic Christians by the late Cardinal Hinsley shortly before he died. He said, "We must always remember that the devotion of many of them to Our Lord puts many of us to shame." In the meantime, I believe that the spirit that has prevailed in our discussions, and the hand held out towards the Catholic minority, will be remembered for many days.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, this debate, if it has shown nothing else, has shown how difficult this subject is, and what a difficult task it is to pilot through Parliament a Bill dealing with secular or religious education when denominations do not take the same view. I wish to answer the debate in a very few sentences. I think it took a good deal of courage on the part of my right honourable friend to put this Bill forward. I personally was sorry that there were two references to-day to the termination of the present Parliament. I can assure the House that it did not enter into 1170 our calculations at all from that point of view.
What we thought was that it was our duty to bring this Bill forward. We did not consider that we could conscientiously put forward White Papers designed to make a drive, as we called it, in secondary education, unless we did what was necessary to make that drive possible: and nobody, however critical speakers have been from either point of view—either from the insufficiently satisfied appetite of one denomination, or the complaint of the other that too much has been given—has really controverted my proposition, which was really the only proposition that I put forward—namely, that if you sincerely want to see secondary education for all of an adequate standard (and that is the common and acknowledged ideal of both Parties) you cannot honestly criticise this measure unless you are prepared to face the alternative.
The alternative is to deprive Roman Catholic parents of what they conceive to be their right to see their own children brought up in their own faith in the way which that faith demands if it is to be practised to the full. We may think what we like about that faith. Obviously, if we do not share that faith, we do not accept it; and although we may not believe in that faith, we believe in some other faith. But it is a denial of elementary justice to Roman Catholic parents who demand that their children should receive the benefits of an education of a particular standard to secure by economic means that if they do get education of that standard, they have to suffer in conscience—the exact evil which Free Church parents went to prison in the earlier part of the century rather than suffer themselves. It is to ignore the elementary teaching of Christianity to try to prevent this educational arrangement. I really must say that we think it our duty to provide it. When the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, said that the Free Churches were ignored, I thought that there was an element of emotion in his voice. The fact is that they were not ignored, and it is precisely the opposite of the truth to suggest, as he did suggest, as he will agree when he comes to see what he said this afternoon, that we think they "do not count" or "do not matter" or "do not count in the country". We put forward this Bill 1171 because we think that it is the only way of carrying out the acknowledged objective of secondary education of all to an adequate standard.
§ LORD MACDONALD OF GWAENYSGOR
My Lords, I do not deny that. What I do say is this. The Free Churches put forward their point of view. It was not accepted. The Government went on with their legislation and ignored that point of view. I do not say that they were ignored but that their point of view was ignored. They were consulted.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
Let us face this fact, my Lords. If we are sincere in our intention to give secondary education of this standard for all, the fact that we do not accept the point of view of one of the three denominations does not necessarily mean that we ignore it: on the contrary, it is of the greatest value to us. But we cannot, bearing the responsibility that we do (nor could any other Government, which explains why all three Parties have officially associated themselves with this policy), allow that fact to prevent us from doing our duty, much as we should have liked to postpone legislation. We have consciences, though we are concerned with public administration, and it is not really correct to suggest that the Free Churches were ignored or that they do not count or do not matter to us. They matter just as much as anybody else.
I was a little sorry to find in the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, an implication that consultations had been tardy or insufficient. I immediately sent for such instruction as was available to me about what the measure of consultation had been. I am told that the Minister decided to consult all interested parties as soon as he had settled with his colleagues the general line that the Government should take in their proposals. Therefore, in January last, he invited representatives of the Churches and of the teachers to come and see him. The order he happened to select—obviously, there has to be some sort of order—was that he asked first the Church of England; then the Free Churches; then the Roman Catholics; then the teachers and then the local authorities. That was the first round.
1172 When he had considered what they all had said, he initiated a second round of discussion with the Church of England, the Free Churches and the Roman Catholics. Then, because the Free Churches showed that they were unhappy about certain aspects of the Bill, the Minister saw them a third time, in company with the Lord Privy Seal. Before the Second Reading debate in another place, the Minister met the Free Church leaders for a fourth time, and after listening to what was said in that debate, he invited representatives of the Free Churches and of the Church of England jointly to see him. These facts do not bear out the implication in the noble Viscount's speech that the Minister had been insensitive to the Free Church point of view.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I did not intend to convey that. What I said was that discussions on the matter had been going on before January last, as I was informed by the Moderator at the time. Then the Minister was asked to receive a delegation and the case was very fully stated. Their views as communicated to the Minister were published in The Times on January 29. Then no more was heard for many months. Now I understand from the noble Viscount that the Minister had decided not to have further consultations until he had come to a decision on the general line he was taking.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I think that if the noble Viscount reads what I have said about the course of the consultations, he will see that we are not to be criticised in this way. I think that we have done all that lay in our power to satisfy not only the Free Churches but also all denominations, and all persons having a legitimate interest in this matter, of the necessity for what is being done here, and I am happy to say that we have satisfied a very great number of them.
I do not want to follow the noble Viscount into all that he said on this occasion, because I hardly think that it would be edifying for me to do so; for whether we give this Bill a passage through Parliament really has nothing to do with the general issue of Protestant and Catholic, which he raised with such deep feeling, This is a Bill which will 1173 assist Church of England children and Roman Catholic children particularly to be brought up in the religion of their fathers and mothers. It is not a Bill by which they will have an opportunity of converting England to their faith, even though that may be the ultimate intention as it is the ultimate intention of most Christians to propagate their faith as widely as possible. But that really has nothing to do with it. Although I have a great deal of sympathy with some part of what the noble Viscount thinks about religious subjects, I do not think that it would help to introduce that kind of controversy into a rather difficult educational measure of this kind.
The same kind of intense feeling was evinced both by the noble Viscount and the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, about the problems of single-school areas. It was for that precise reason that the Minister gave a number of fairly satisfactory assurances in so far as that problem was related to the problem which we are now discussing. In particular, he pointed out that any proposals for grant under the novel part of this measure will have to come to the Minister for approval under Section 13 of the Education Act, 1944, and he has said in terms that he will scrutinise with the utmost care any proposal the result of which may be to create a new single-school area.
The problem of existing single-school areas, of course, does not directly arise under the Bill, though I understand that it is legitimate for representatives of the Free Churches to desire that their own grievances should be solved before voting for what must be regarded from some points of view as Supply, but it is exactly from that point of view that we have done what we can, by these discussions, to help the Free Churches to arrive at a happy arrangement with the Church of England, which is the denomination concerned. I think that it is fair to say to noble Lords opposite that, whoever else may be responsible for the single-school area problem, it is not the Roman Catholic Church. It is the Church of England. It is not fair, if this action is necessary in order to give secondary education of a just type to Roman Catholic children, among others, to say that the existence of the single-school area alone constitutes a reason for not taking it.
1174 The noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of Gwaenysgor, asked what more had happened since the Third Reading in another place. I sent again for such information as I could get readily to hand. I am informed that at the Third Reading the Minister said that the Church of England and Free Churches were going to consider how to strengthen their association both in the dioceses and centrally, with a view to easing any difficulties that might arise over single-school areas. The Right Reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Chichester said to-day that the Church Assembly have endorsed the suggestion that there should be joint consultation locally between Free Churches and the Church of England. This will no doubt include discussion of arrangements for consulting the Free Churches over the representation of their interests on the managing bodies of aided schools in single-school areas. That is as far as I can take the story this afternoon.
Having said that, there are only two things I should like to add. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, made a considered and careful plea for somthing in the long run which is more than is conceded by this Bill. I am concerned only to defend this Bill, but I would put this thought into the noble Lord's head—if I may say that without any kind of offence conveyed or intended. Denominational schools are used by the denominations for many purposes that are convenient to them, as well as for purely educational functions. There is no reason why they should not be. But there is an argument to be based on that, which is that the whole cost of these schools should not be borne by public funds. And, whatever abstract justice may be thought to require, I should have thought that independence in practice is something for which people are wise to pay something—not all, but something—or in the end they may find themselves, not now but in the future, threatened with the loss of complete independence. And the whole purpose of the denominations in having these aided schools is ultimately to obtain independence of secular control outside the denominations. So, when and if the situation should arise that further demands are put forward, it must not be assumed that, because we have done what we think 1175 to be just and necessary in this instance, we are committed to anything else in the future.
My Lords, that really leaves me where I began. This is an educational measure designed for an educational purpose, justified on educational arguments. Naturally I find very great difficulty in limiting myself to these arguments during the course of the debate. I have strong, possibly heretical, religious views of my own, but I hope that I have concealed them. I believe that this is a measure of justice and I believe it is something which we cannot do without.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a: Committee negatived.