§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
Sir, I beg to move to report Progress. I think after the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the inconvenience of pushing forward the Western Australia Bill at this late period of the Session, we had a right to expect that this Bill would not 493 be pressed. I would remind the Committee that the Second Reading of this Bill came on very unexpectedly. It had a decidedly low place on the Paper on the Wednesday afternoon, and it came on by mere accident at a time when the majority of the Members specially interested in the subject were absent. Certain protests were made by those who happened to be present against taking it at such a moment. I contend that this Bill has had no Second Reading Debate at all; it was merely a superficial conversation and nothing more. That is not a fair treatment of a Bill which means nothing less than the diversion and distortion of the educational progress of this country from the properly constituted authorities, the School Boards, and to give it to bodies—
Order, order! The hon. Member can hardly pursue that line of argument on a Motion to report Progress.
§ MR. PICTON
I desire to take whatever line you think in order. I think this a Bill of such grave importance and so pregnant with future consequences, that we ought not to proceed with it now. The country has only just begun to understand the meaning of the subject. The School Boards are not in Session at this time; they are taking their holidays. No one will deny the importance of the City of Manchester, in relation to such a subject. Yet the First Lord of the Treasury has endeavoured to minimise the importance of the opinion of the Parliamentary Committee of the Corporation of that City, which is not favourable to the Bill. The Mayor of the City has informed me that that opinion was shared by all political parties in the Council. But at a time when we all wish to hurry on with the Appropriation Bill, and get away to the country in pursuit of health, we are asked to proceed with a Bill of this importance; and no one can tell what irreparable mischief may be done by insufficient consideration. I do ask that this measure shall not be imposed by brute force upon the minority of this House, considering the amount of feeling that exists against it. I beg to move that you report Progress.
§ Motion made, and question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Picton.)
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
Sir, there can be no question that the large majority of the House anxiously desire that this Bill should pass—a very large majority indeed. Let us go at once to a Division and see who it is that opposes the Bill. We should then ascertain the feelings of the Committee. We are not entitled to consider the opinions of those who are not in that House and who are not attending to their Parliamentary duties. I should be the last person to press a Bill that is not earnestly desired by a very large proportion of hon. Members, without regard to political colour. It is a measure for social improvement altogether apart from any question of religious teaching or other disturbing elements.
§ MR. MATHER (Gorton)
There are Gentlemen on this side who do not want to report Progress. The main objects of the measure have been very thoroughly discussed and analysed during the last two or three years, and I believe that the time has arrived when those who have felt an interest in the promotion of technical education are prepared to pronounce a distinct opinion. I believe the Bill, as it is amended, is capable of doing great good to the country.
§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
Sir, this Bill, if proceeded with, will inevitably lead to a Debate of a somewhat heated character. The subject is warmly debated in the country, and there is the strongest possible feeling with regard to it among many Local Bodies. The course I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman is to pass a one clause enabling Bill, which would facilitate the subsidising by Local Education Bodies of such institutions as may be scheduled by the Department—institutions with regard to which the burning questions involved in consideration of education do not arise. The right hon. Gentleman by adopting that suggestion would be taking a step that would be productive of good and practical results in the large towns. I do think it unwise at this late period of the Session to press forward a Bill which is bristling with propositions that must result in controversy. 495 To push it forward because several influential Members on this side of the House are strongly interested in certain institutions is a great mistake in tactics. It would be far better to postpone until next Session the consideration of all these serious controversial topics and issues, and to adopt the suggestion which I have ventured to make of subsidising institutions temporarily for the purposes of technical education. The Government would then be able to bring forward next Session their measure without being under the suspicion of taking the slightest advantage of the minority in respect of those important issues which will have to be settled.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
Though this Bill does not apply to Scotland, I feel myself bound to support the hon. Member (Mr. Picton) in his motion, for this Bill is opposed by many both inside and outside this House, I think it is a matter of absolute loyalty to hon. Members who oppose this Bill to support them in their objection. As I understand the usual practice is to place the Appropriation Bill as the First Order; and I see that the Government have placed this Bill first so that the Appropriation Bill may be used as a lever for carrying this contentious Bill though the House.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Darwen)
Sir, this is not the first Technical Education Bill which has been before the House. The Bill received assent on the First and Second Readings, the whole subject has been before the House and the country; and I do not think anybody can really say that the subject has been sprung upon us. I venture to urge the hon. Gentleman not to put us to the trouble of going to a Division, but to allow a discussion of a Bill on which we have shown a very conciliatory attitude.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT (Manchester)
I, on the other hand, hope my hon. Friend will divide the House. When the First Lord of the Treasury was asked whether he was acquainted with the views of the Corporation of Manchester he said he would rather listen to the Members for that City. Now I, as one of those Members, strongly support the views of the Corporation. Their objection to the Bill is that it leaves the care of technical education to other bodies than the School Boards. 496 Wherever School Boards exist this matter of technical education surely ought to be placed in their hands.
§ SIR H. ROSCOE (Manchester)
I might perhaps say, in answer to my hon. Friend who has just spoken, that it is at least doubtful in my opinion whether the putting of the whole of the secondary or technical education under the School Boards would be a satisfactory solution of this question. It is true that the Parliamentary Committee of the Corporation of Manchester strongly object to certain provisions of this Bill and desire that the whole subject should be left to the School Boards. It is, as yet, a matter of opinion as to whether institutions for technical instruction ought to be placed under the School Boards, and the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction did not recommend it, for in one of their recommendations it is stated that the Local Authorities should be empowered to establish institutions for technical instruction, including agricultural colleges and schools. Half a loaf is better than no bread, and I really think this is a useful measure. I trust my hon. Friend will not divide the House, and I really think it is possible even at this time of the Session to get a Bill which will be of great use in our industrial centres.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR (E. Donegal)
If I could hope to influence the hon. Member for Leicester, I would urge him not to waste the time of the House at this period of the Session by pressing his Motion to a Division. No doubt it is inconveniently late, but it is never a bad time to do a good thing, and I shall certainly support this Bill, however long I have to remain in the House. It is true that the Bill does not extend to Ireland any more than Scotland, and therefore I am as independent as the hon. Member for Dundee, but in my judgment it will confer a substantial benefit upon this country. We have the whole evening to discuss it, and for my part I deprecate the waste of precious moments. It would be sufficient to Debate the first Amendment.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)
Mr. Courtney, the Second Reading of this Bill was taken without the least notice. I think, therefore, that a fair opportunity should be allowed for stating the objections to proceeding with the Bill at this late period of the Session. 497 If we had had a Second Reading Debate very much time would have been saved on the later stages of the Bill. It is exceedingly unusual for an attempt to be made within five days of the Prorogation to drive a Bill of this kind through by sheer force without any argument at all. Great weight, I think, ought to be attached to the opinion expressed by the Parliamentary Committee of the Corporation of such an industrial centre as Manchester. This is an attempt to force a Bill through against the desire of a large section of the House. There are also many people outside the House who are entitled to be consulted on the subject. The question is so important to the industrial interests of this country that it is most unreasonable to pass the Bill in the absence of many members at this period of the Session. My complaint is that the subject is sought to be jammed down our throats within five days of the close of the Session, and I object to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman that we should go to a Division to test our strength, as if this was a proposition which could be decided by the counting of heads in either Lobby. I hope my hon. Friend will go to a Division.
§ SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)
Sir, hon. Gentlemen complain of the conduct of the Government in this matter as intolerable. It seems to me that what is really intolerable is the conduct of a very small section in this House who endeavour to obstruct the consideration of a very important measure which has really received the assent of a very large majority of this House. I hope the hon. Member for Leicester will listen to the appeals that have been addressed to him not only from this but the other side of the House, and by the Members for Manchester and the other great cities of the North. I do hope he will listen to those appeals, and allow us to debate the merits of the Bill.
§ MR. PICTON
Mr. Courtney, I desire to make an explanation. I ought to have said that it was not the present, but the late Mayor of Manchester (Sir John Harwood) who informed me that the Parliamentary Committee of the County Council of Manchester represented all the different sections of political opinion in that body on the subject of this Bill. Now, Sir, though we know our numbers are small on this side of the House by 498 reason of hon. Members having been compelled to leave in search of health, we will take a Division on every important Amendment. Some hon. Members have been compelled to leave, as their health and strength would not permit them to remain longer. The right hon. Gentleman says those Members who are absent show their want of interest, and ought not to be considered. Will he tell me that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) attaches no importance to this subject? He has been obliged to go away on the ground of health. My hon. Friend behind me talks as if we had only to take one or two Divisions and the matter is done.
§ MR. WOODALL (Hanley)
Mr. Courtney, I hope that, notwithstanding the very strong expressions that have fallen from my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, he will permit me to make an appeal to him not to press his Motion to a Division. I admit that the Bill is not all that could be desired; but I must in justice acknowledge that the right hon. Gentleman has frankly recognised the most contentious of the difficulties that have hitherto stood in the way, and endeavoured to find a common standpoint from which a practical measure can be carried. The chief opposition to this Bill is on the ground that it does not entrust technical education to the School Boards, and on this point I think it is very important that the Committee should have their attention drawn to the Report of the Commission on the failure of the Technical Education Act in Scotland. They say that they do not find that the School Boards are anxious to enlarge their sphere of action by making use of the provisions of this Act. Then rather than confess an utter failure, the Commissioners say:—It is probable, also, that the School Boards are anxious to consider this not so much as a separate question, but rather as one belonging to the larger sphere of higher education.I venture to think there is a great deal of misapprehension about the character of the proposals and the probable effects of this Bill; and by going on with Committee and discussing the various proposals we are much more likely to arrive at a harmonious conclusion than would seem to be possible under the Motion before the Committee. I earnestly appeal to my hon. Friend not to put him- 499 self in the position of an irreconcilable opponent of a practical measure.
§ MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman suggested that those who oppose this Bill are not the friends of technical education. I do not think he has any right to say that. I would point out that quite early in the Session the Vice President of the Council said that the Government would not care to take any retrogressive step in reference to the matter, and that he would not go behind what he called the settlement of 1870. We contend that we are bound to oppose this Bill, because you do go behind the Bill of 1870. I was a member of the Sheffield School Board for 12 years, and I know something of the routine of School Boards. I say that School Boards are now practically out of session. Contentious questions are not raised just now, and only routine business is transacted. The Chairman of the Sheffield School Board is conductor of an influential paper in Sheffield, and that journal has been offering every opposition to this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman taunts us with being the minority, but wisdom does not always follow the majority. It is possible we may be wrong; but it is, at any rate, incumbent upon us to oppose what we believe to be wrong. The hon. Members for Manchester are deeply interested, no doubt, in getting money for their institutions. Manchester is a very important place, no doubt, but it does not suit other parts of the country to follow it in this matter; and I earnestly hope my hon. Friend will proceed to a Division.
§ MR. DIXON (Birmingham)
I admit this is a very difficult question, and it is very well known that I sympathise very greatly indeed with the opinions maintained by those who wish to prevent the progress of the Bill. No doubt the Manchester Town Council have passed a Resolution against the Bill, and there have been other expressions of opinion of the same tendency, but those are against the Bill in its present shape. As an old member of the School Board, and one who takes a deep interest in this subject, I can say that the Bill, with the Amendments which the Government have promised to introduce, though it will not realise all my hopes and aspirations, yet will be a valuable 500 measure. I agree with the hon. Member (Sir H. Roscoe), half a loaf is better than no bread, and I hope we shall now proceed with the Bill in Committee and make it as good a measure as we can.
§ MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars)
Sir, I rise to point out that the hon. Member for South Manchester signed the Report of the Commission to the effect that the Local Authorities-should be empowered if they thought fit to establish technical schools and science and art classes "where School Boards do not exist." That is a very different thing to saying that Local Authorities shall be authorised to establish those schools where there are School Boards. Until School Boards were established, the Local Authorities might be empowered to establish Technical Schools, though that would be for a long time in some cases. The noble Lord the Member for Darwen told us that the conclusions of the Parliamentary Committee of the Manchester Town Council would be promptly disarmed. No disavowal has come from that body yet, nor have they in any way gone back on their conclusions, which were against the Bill. This Bill is very contentious, and it should not be taken at this period of the Session, and we are not unreasonable in asking for the postponement of the measure.
§ MR. HALLEY STEWART (Lincolnshire, Spalding)
Sir, I wish to point out that many hon. Members have gone away under the impression that a Bill, with so many Amendments down in respect of it, would not be proceeded with. I say that of my own knowledge, though I am not pledging the Government to that statement. Had we been on the other side of the House we would not have proceeded with the Bill because of the time limit which would have been imposed by the House of Lords, where we would have been in the minority. We would not have attempted to proceed with a Bill to which there was objection on the part of a section of the House, and, being on this side of the House, we claim that we are entitled to the same consideration which we would have extended.
§ MR. CAUSTON (Southwark)
I appeal to Her Majesty's Government not to proceed with a measure to which there is such a large amount of opposi- 501 tion at this period of the Session. Many hon. Members who have Amendments on the Paper are absent, I after the pledges that have been given with regard to contentious business, from the House, believing, of course, that an important Bill would not be taken to which there were five or six pages of Amendments. If this diacussion takes place, I ask the right hon. Gentleman when the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill will be taken? No Ion. Member is more in favour of promoting technical education than myself; but I think that it is scandalous to take a measure of the importance of this Technical Education Bill at so late a period of the Session.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury)
Sir, I stand in the same position that I occupied on the Second Reading; and my reason for going into the Lobby with my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester is simply that I object to rushing legislation. For the last fortnight we have had a rushing of business in a manner which is not at all conducive to good legislation, and totally apart from the question at present at issue. I would vote with any hon. Gentleman who tries to prevent this rushing of legislation. This Bill which is of vital importance to the industry and commerce of the country ought certainly to have found a place amongst the Bills introduced early in the Session. If this question could be kept over until the last days of August, why can it not be kept over for a few months more when we can have a full discussion upon it? We may be told by the hon. Member for Hanley (Mr. Woodall) that we do not know the Bill as printed. I admit we do not. And we do not know what Bill we are going to get from. another place. I should like to know from the hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Mather) and the hon. Member for Hanley how many Amendments will be made in another place, and whether any Amendments we may make here are certain to get safe and sound through the House of Lords. We are really called upon to submit to a political confidence trick; we are to shut our eyes and find what will be given to us. I take the deepest interest in this measure, And desire that it should be thoroughly discussed. I totally object to the attempt to rush through a Bill of the 502 first importance at this period of the Session.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I shall certainly vote against the Motion to report Progress, but I would not have intervened in this discussion but for some words which fell from the hon. Member for the Holmfirth Division (Mr. H. Wilson). The hon. Gentleman seemed to wish Irish Members to understand that they would get into discredit in the country if they voted for this Bill proceeding. I am bound in answer to that to say I have received a special appeal from my constituents to support the passing of this Bill on the understanding that the Government accept the Amendments which they have stated they do accept, and that they accept them on behalf of this House, and of another place.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 18; Noes 98.—(Div. List, No. 343.)
§ MR. CHANNING
I beg to move to leave out "A Local Authority" in line 5, page 1, and insert "A School Board, or, where there is no School Board, any other Local Authority as hereinafter defined in this Act." I would like to draw attention to the last few words of the Amendment. "Hereinafter" of course refers to my own Amendments to the definition clause by which I expressly exclude Boards of Guardians from the authorities. The Committee will at once see that what I propose is, that the School Board shall be the authority, where it exists, for the provision of technical education in its own district, and that it shall only be in default of action on the part of the School Board that action shall be taken by another Local Authority, or that where there is no School Board another Local Authority shall act until, as I hope, we set up Educational Authorities to deal with educational issues in every district of the country. I am sorry there was no reply made in the discussion on the motion that the Chairman do leave the Chair to my suggestion that the Government should frankly confine the Bill to subsidising educational institutions which are distinctly for secondary education, and which lie entirely beyond the sphere of the chief controversy in which the educational world has been engaged for 503 so many years. I hope the Government have not lost sight of that suggestion. I think it is a suggestion of some practical value, because I am of opinion it would be very advantageous if we could limit the Bill expressly to the work of secondary education in which the burning issues may not be raised. No one underrates the great urgency of the question of technical education. It is demanded by the manufacturers, by the agriculturists, and it is demanded by the present character of our education. The present character of our education in elementary schools, the pressing want of manual and technical teaching in those schools, constitutes one of the strongest reasons for urging on any Government or House of Commons the duty of placing this question in the hands of authorities elected by the people and specially interested in seeing that technical education is given to children. But what have we in this Bill? We have an ignoring of some most important points. Why, may I ask, in a Technical Education Bill, is there no reference to the very first recommendation of the Royal Commission on Technical Education—namely, that there should be some employment of the great endowments now standing at the disposal of the Charity Commissioners for this purpose. We are asked to make great contributions from the rates for technical education. Why have the Government not thought it worth while to insert some provision for supplementing the rates by some re-adjustment of endowments? Perhaps I am hardly justified in entering into that matter now; but I do protest against the form and the matter of this Bill. It seems to me that the Bill will practically result in a minimum of good and a maximum of friction between the various Local Authorities concerned in education, and in the maximum of interference, within the narrow scope of such a Bill as this, with those great principles which were laid down, as we thought, upon a solid basis nearly 20 years ago. We are reminded that we have had Technical Education Bills again and again before the House. It seems to me that, as we have gone on, each Bill has represented a lower and a worse stage of these proposals. We are offered less in this Bill, and are asked to surrender more, and 504 that is just the point I wish to enforce on the Committee.
The hon. Member is not entitled to discuss the whole Bill at this moment. I understand his. Amendment is to make the School Board the authority, and to that he must confine his remarks.
§ MR. CHANNING
I was about to show how the Bill affects the position of School Boards. I maintain that the Bill is not so much a Bill for the promotion of technical education as it is a Bill for undermining the position of School Boards before the country. Every one who has read the Report of the Royal Commissioners on Elementary Education knows that the real point aimed at by the majority of the Royal Commissioners, and aimed at also in this Bill, is the removal of the footing upon which the School Boards rest. It would have been perfectly easy for the Government to have avoided this issue; but they have persisted in adopting the scheme laid before the Royal Commission by Sir Francis Sandford, Lord Lingen and other opponents of the School Board system, for undermining, bit by bit, the position of Local Authorities who are elected for educational purposes, and who are therefore alive to the issues which are in the minds of the electors when they vote upon questions of this kind. Just to illustrate the absurdity of this theory I will refer to an election which occurred in the past winter in a large town in the Division of Northamptonshire which I have the honour to represent. There was an election to the School Board, and also an election to the County Council in the town of Wellingborough. Those who are represented by the Party opposite were in a very large majority at the County Council election, but at the School Board election on the contrary, there was a majority of nearly two to one in opposition to the reactionary policy and advocating the most advanced policy in educational matters. I refer to this only to illustrate the point on which I insist—namely, that when you have a School Board election you have placed before the people issues which are wholly different from the issues voted upon in either Local Board or County Council elections. I say that a Local Authority other than the School Board is less 505 capable of dealing with these educational questions and of representing the popular feeling than the School Board elected by the people to deal with educational matters. My hon. Friend (Mr. Mather) has stated in a letter to the Press that his Amendment does not deprive the School Boards of the power of taking the lead in this matter of technical education; but I say that, even with his Amendment in it, the Local Authority may say whether it will raise a rate or not for technical education, and it will therefore be entitled to prohibit any extension of technical education within its district. The Local Authority may turn its back on the School Board and say, "We will not give you any money." Another part of the campaign against School Boards initiated by Sir Francis Sandford in the Transfer Clause, and I hope the Government are at least disposed to withdraw that part of the Bill because it raises issues of such vital importance, and of so highly controversial a character. At any rate, I do not understand that there will be any disposition on the part of the Government to withdraw one part of the Bill, to which I take the strongest objection, and that is the extension of this provision to the denominational schools. I have for some years been a member of a School Board myself, and have the very strongest belief in the School Board as the proper educational instrument of the future. Last year a distinct proposal was made in the Local Government Act for the suppression of School Boards by enabling a reactionary majority on the School Board to hand over its power to the County Council. My course has been throughout to defend the existence of the School Board as an educational instrument, not only in the present but in the future. I think that the efforts of some of the School Boards with which I am acquainted, such as that of Brighton, to carry out higher education even at the risk of being surcharged have been most praiseworthy, and I think that a Bill which even with the Amendment of my hon. Friend, is certain to narrow the authority and power of the School Board to provide higher elementary education would be most disastrous. The policy should be to encourage the School Boards to go beyond the standards of elementary educa- 506 tion, but the whole effect of this Bill, even with the Amendments of my hon. Friend, will be to curtail and to narrow the functions of the School Boards, as has been pointed out to me and to other Members in repeated letters from, perhaps one of the most weighty authorities in educational matters in the country, Mr. Lyulph Stanley. There is nothing to prevent the Local Authority under this Bill setting up a school side by side with the School Board for the purpose of giving technical instruction. The Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman has placed on the Paper I gladly admit does withdraw one of the evils pointed out by Mr. Stanley, but it does not prevent this result, that as soon as the children have reached the standard of exemption, which is far too low in the greater part of the country, they can be drawn off into technical schools carried on by the Local Authorities. We are asked in this Bill to adopt this policy instead of handing over the whole system of continuation schools and secondary education to the School Board. I say it is a great and a crying evil to lessen the power of the School Boards to really improve and extend and expand the education of the people, and I do protest against the action of the Government and the action of some of my hon. Friends, who, in their extreme anxiety to secure half a loaf, are really sacrificing a great many educational loaves in the future. I deny that there is any right to sever and mark off technical education from elementary education. Anybody acquainted with the work of the schools of the country and who knows how vitally important it is not to educate children merely in book-learning but to impart also some practical training must be aware of the importance of introducing and carrying out as much technical education and manual as we can in our elementary schools, and also of enabling Board Schools, as far as possible in their own neighbourhood, to adopt a higher, a wider, and a more expanded policy of technical education. Therefore, Sir, I protest against this policy of passing over the School Board and handing over these important functions to a Local Authority which does not sympathise with the people or represent the people in the same sense. I feel it almost a duty which I owe to my right hon. 507 Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) to contradict in the most emphatic way the opinion expressed most erroneously by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that my right hon. Friend approved the principle of this Bill. In a letter written by my right hon. Friend upon this point to my Friend Mr. Lyulph Stanley my right hon. Friend says, "I like the Bill just as little as ever," and he complains that his emphatic protest, which I listened to in this House, was not reported in the newspapers on the following day. I regard this Bill as a Bill in favour of denominational schools as against Board Schools. It is a violation of the compromise which was arrived at when the Education Act was passed, and it is dealing most unfairly with the House and the country to introduce at this period of the Session so great and important a change. It is a proposal to divert the rates from the Board Schools to the denominational schools, and is thus a distinct re-opening of the controversy of 1870. I have drawn attention to the work of some School Boards in promoting higher and technical education. Those who pay attention to this matter must have read a recent letter from my friend the Chairman of the Nottingham School Board. That Board has incurred the risk of surcharging by giving manual instruction; so has the Liverpool School Board, and so I believe has the London School Board. When we take into consideration the great efforts which have been made by School Boards to introduce among the people a great extension of higher education, our policy ought to be to place increased power in their hands, instead of enabling institutions which simply exist for the benefit of a sect to obtain building grants and access to the rates on fake pretences. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.
Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 5, to leave out the words "local authority," and insert the words
School Boards, or, where there is no School Board, any other local authority as hereinafter denned in this Act.—(Mr. Channing.)
§ Question proposed "That the words 'local authority' stand part of the Clause."508
§ THE VICE PEESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir W. HART DYKE) Kent, Dartford
I think it due to the Committee that I should at once utter a few words in regard to this Amendment. I may say at the outset that in my opinion, if ancient control versies in connection with this matter are not opened up it will be through no fault of the hon. Member. I shall for my own part pursue the policy I have pursued in the past few years, and endeavour as much as possible to avoid these ancient controversies, and to deal with the question from a practical and sensible point of view. The points on which the hon. Member has dwelt are not by any means new points to anyone who has been anxious to deal with this vexed question, the difficulties of which, after much labour, we have not yet been able to overcome. It is on account of this failure that I now have to present this Bill in the mutilated form in which it is, and if there are any proposals in the Bill which tend to rake up ancient controversies they have been inserted under a misconception on my part, because I cannot for the life of me see all the dangers which have been conjured up by the excited brain of the hon. Member. The hon. Member makes a great complaint with regard to the powers given to Local Authorities, and has told us that this clause will cause a maximum of friction and undermine the position of School Boards. As a matter of fact, the Bill proposes to do no more and no less than extend the curriculum now existing in the Science and Art Department at South Kensington throughout the country. This system, with regard to which the hon. Member has conjured up such vague terrors, has existed for many years without one single complaint, or shadow of complaint, being made on the subject of denominational instruction. If this were a Bill to undermine School Boards, there would not be a single School Board existing now, because the system has lived and flourished for the benefit of our commercial community for years and years. What are the facts? I have before me a Return of the number of School Boards, exclusive of those in Scotland, now dealing with these special classes of instruction, and I find that there are 126 Board Schools, teaching in the aggregate 486 science subjects and 509 65 art subjects. In these schools there are 12,740 pupils being taught science and 5,844 learning art. The total number of Science and Art Schools is 1,993. The total number of scholars under the Department is 109,936 in science and 76,364 in art schools, and of this number only about 18,000 are under Board Schools. Only one-tenth of the whole number of students in science and art are thus being taught under School Boards. Is it reasonable to suppose, as some hon. Members opposite appear to do, that a slight extension of the system under which science and art are taught will break up the settlement of the Act of 1870 and undermine the School Board system? I ask hon. Members to dismiss these vague fears from their minds. The hon. Member says the Government should pass an ad interim measure, and only subsidise those schools in connection with which no vexed questions can arise. That course, however, would result in the infliction of injury upon some of the best School Boards that are now conducting science and art classes.
§ MR. CHANNING
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to correct his impression of what I said. What I meant was that the aid might be confined to the larger colleges, and that the question of elementary schools might be postponed for fuller consideration next Session.
§ SIR W. HART DYKE
Well, my reply is that I do not see why these schools should be shut out this Session. There appears to be some fear in the mind of the hon. Member that the Bill will have some restrictive action as regards the present conduct of education by School Boards. I never had any intention of doing anything of the kind, and there are Amendments on the Paper on the subject which I shall be very glad to accept. Neither in the case of denominational, nor in the case of Board Schools, do we wish to retard educational progress. If the Amendment were agreed to we might see a similar state of things in England to what is now witnessed in Scotland, where the Technical Instruction Bill has as yet only been availed of by two School Boards. I do not believe that the effects of the present Bill will spread over any large area of the country, but there are certain great commercial 510 centres upon which it will confer a great boon. There are certain institutions where science and art are taught which are now struggling with difficulties, and which will, I hope, by means of this Bill, succeed in gaining a permanent footing.
§ MR. BROADHURST
The right hon. Gentleman has not altogether succeeded in removing the doubts and difficulties which have been brought before the Committee by my hon. Friend (Mr. Channing). He has not by any means made it clear that the rate which the Bill will authorise local bodies to raise can in no way be used for sectarian purposes. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman himself is perfectly honest. He believes in what he has been saying. But we all know he has behind him in his Department men of life-long experience, who can see much further than ordinary Members can in this matter how machinery can be used for Party purposes and sectarian objects. It is because we believe that the machinery of the Bill will be set in motion for sectarian and Party purposes that hon. Members on this side of the House are so greatly disinclined to pass the measure at this late period of the Session. If the Amendment were accepted by the Government much of the objection to the Bill would at once disappear. Why does the Government propose to set up for educational purposes a new authority side by side with that which already exists? We must remember that in some parishes where the guardians are the Sanitary Authority the ex officio Guardians can overrule the elected guardians. Will it be safe to entrust the interests of education to the hands of bodies of that character? I hold that the Bill without this Amendment will undermine the authority of School Boards, and will be likely to place the elementary education of the country in other hands than those which Parliament has designated. This is almost the most vital Amendment on the Paper, and I am glad to believe that my hon. Friends will successively get up and urge upon the Government the absolute necessity of accepting it.
§ MR. PICTON
I wish to know precisely what is the number of School Boards which are holding science and art classes?
§ MR. PICTON
I did not quite understand that part of the right hon. Gentleman's statement, because afterwards he seemed to mention another number. I think the right hon. Baronet the Vice President of the Council is a little hard on the School Boards in this matter, not recognising the difficulties in which they have been placed. They have been very much hampered by the strictness with which some of the auditors have interpreted their application of the rates, and they have been very much hampered as to evening schools, because up to lately they have been required to teach elementary subjects out of the grant for those schools. Again, School Boards can hold Science and Art Classes just like any other school committees can hold them, under the Science and Art Department. Therefore, School Boards Lave had no Special facilities for carrying on this work. The right hon. Baronet says the proposal of the Bill is a very simple one indeed. It is only, he says, to extend the curriculum of the Science and Art Department—I think I am right in quoting him in that way. Well, I may have been wrong in the matter, but I certainly have been under the impression that within tolerably wide limits the Science and Art Department might from time to time alter its curriculum. One would suppose that a mere extension of the curriculum of the Science and Art Department would not require a Bill for the purpose. But this measure does more than that. It enables rates to be levied and public money to be used. Our contention is that it does not give sufficient guarantee that this public money will be rightly used; therefore it is useless to endeavour to explain away the object of the Bill by saying it is only intended to extend the curriculum of the Science and Art Department. The right hon. Baronet says that many points of ancient controversy have been raised by the hon. Member who moved this Amendment, and that he desires to avoid ancient controversy—that the object of the Bill is to avoid ancient controversy. Yes, the right hon. Gentleman's object is to take under a cloak of concealment all that against which we have contended. It is very easy to avoid controversy in that 512 way. Sir, the time left us this week for the consideration of this Bill ought not to be more than sufficient for the discussion of this one important Amendment. It refers to School Boards. These Boards were born in 1870, and it is not usual for institutions, any more than for individuals, to be born full grown. These institutions grew, just as individuals grow, and through the efforts of the Legislature to adapt them to circumstances. We have had a Local Government Bill; County Councils have been established; as yet they have had very little given them to do, but we have been promised that in successive Sessions of Parliament their duties will be extended and more fully defined. So when the School Boards were born into the world they had but little given them to do—only to look after the lowest ranks of elementary education. But the best friends of education looked forward to the time when these bodies, having proved themselves worthy—having been faithful over a few things—might have more responsibilities conferred upon them. It was always felt that if at any time technical and secondary education should be entrusted to an elective body, that elective body would be the School Boards. Now, this Bill cuts short any prospect of the development of the School Boards. It takes from them that which naturally and legitimately falls within their purview, and hands it over to bodies who, for this purpose, are exceedingly inferior. Therefore it is that we object to the Bill in its present form. I would ask the right hon. Baronet and his supporters whether they have any fault to find with the conduct of the School Boards? If they have any fault in the eyes of hon. Members, I know what it is. Hon. Members will say, "They have been too ready to rival denominational schools." If they have rivalled denominational schools, they have done so legitimately by giving a better education at a lower rate. We know that there have been sectarian squabbles on the School Boards; that at times they have been elected for sectarian reasons, rather than educational reasons, but that is owing to a defect in the law which could be easily remedied if the law would remove from the arena of discussion those disputable questions which have often misguided the electors of School Boards. Putting these matters 513 on one side I challenge Members opposite to say that School Boards have not worked better than might have been expected by their best friends. And the Government now refuse to allow them to have control over this matter of technical education, but propose to hand it over to County Councils, Town Councils, and Rural Sanitary Authorities. Is it in the nature of things that those local bodies should care as much about educational matters as the School Board? They have not the experience of members of School Boards, who, being interested in the work of lower education, are constantly having their attention drawn to the necessity for secondary instruction, or technical instruction, as the case may be. The anxiety of the Local Sanitary Authorities is to give the poor the lowest kind of employment, and to keep them off the rates, and they certainly are not the bodies who are likely to impose a penny rate for technical instruction. It is ridiculous to make light of the difficulties which have been raised by the Parliamentary Committee of the Council of the great City of Manchester. I contend that those gentlemen are likely to understand their own business best; and I am quite convinced that a similar voice would have come from many another Town Council in the country if only time had been given for it. Hon. Members on both sides of the House know that—whatever the reason may have been for it—the whole country had the idea that this Bill was abandoned for the present Session. That is why so little has been said about it in public. The Town Councils, I am persuaded, do not want to have this work thrust upon them. In the case of London, under this Bill the control of technical education will be given to the County Council, a newly-elected body, whilst we have here a School Board which has had 19 years of experience, and has earned for itself the title of "The Parliament of Education." No doubt the County Council consists of men equally respectable and intelligent with the members of the School Board, but whilst the latter are gentlemen especially experienced on matters of education, the former are business gentlemen who are more acquainted with the material than the educational wants of this great city. To intrust the administration of this 514 Bill to the bodies I have referred to is the height of legislative perversity, and I am at a loss to understand what is meant by this spite against School Boards, and this insult which is sought to be put upon them. In matters of religion Ireland has a right to take her own course, but I appeal to Irish Members to allow the English and Welsh Radicals Home Rule on this subject, which is a purely English one. If this Amendment is adopted the Bill will pass through Committee very easily.
§ MR. W. M'LAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)
As I am one of the Members who voted for the Government in the Division which has just taken place, and who desire that the Bill shall pass, I wish to urge on the Government the desirability of accepting the Amendment. I know there are a considerable number of Liberal Members who are desirous of going on with the Bill; but do not let it be supposed that those of us who take this course do so because we are in favour of this first clause. There is much in the Bill which I regret; but I have supported it because of its principle of giving the money of the ratepayers to support technical education. But when we come to the Local Authorities who are to be entrusted with the spending of this money and the levying of the rate, I do not see the slightest reason why the Vice President of the Council should not support the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman's speech might just as well have been delivered in favour of the Amendment as against it. The right hon. Gentleman gave no reason why the School Boards should not be, at any rate, one of the Local Authorities. If the right hon. Gentleman would allow even that, it would be regarded as a great concession on this side of the House. Let us take, as an example, the School Board of London. Supposing this concession were made, and the School Board refused to levy a penny rate in favour of technical education, it would be right to fall back on the County Council. I have no doubt my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment would willingly accept this suggestion as a compromise. The Amendment proposes that where there is a School Board that Board shall be the sole authority, and obviously the School Board is the best body—so obvious is this that I do not wonder the right hon. 515 Gentleman the Vice President of the Council has refrained from giving reasons against the proposal. It is surprising that the right hon. Gentleman should have attempted to belittle the Bill by calling it "a continuation of the existing system;" but probably he said that in order to quiet his supporters. The Bill is not a continuation of the existing system. The Science and Art Department can give grants in aid of Science and Art Schools, but they get no money from the rates.
§ SIR W. HART DYKE
I would point out that provision for a penny rate is already made in connection with the Free Libraries.
§ MR. W. M'LAREN
Then I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, having been under the impression that he had coupled the existing system with the Science and Art Grants. The main fact before the House, however, is that we are going to levy rates for the support of technical schools, and I maintain that the School Boards are undoubtedly the most efficient bodies who could control these schools. I should imagine that a great deal of this money will not go to elementary schools at all, or to teaching, which would be given in elementary school buildings, but probably the larger part of the rates will go to mechanics' institutes and to church institutes, and that is where the denominational element will crop in. Well, the School Boards will be quite as ready to give a grant in aid to a church institute as to a mechanics' institute, provided they do the required work. I do not think the School Boards will be biassed between the two; at any rate, on all School Boards there is a sufficient number of supporters of denominational education to secure that church institutes shall have justice done to them. In Yorkshire, where there are many well conducted church institutes, giving some sort of technical instruction, I am sure there would be no objection on the part of the School Boards to give grants just as readily to church institutes as to mechanics' institutes, and I can speak with some authority as to Yorkshire, the county in which I used to reside. The right hon. Gentleman used an argument against the School Boards which was scarcely a fair one. He said the Scotch Act has been a failure, for the reason that only two School Boards have 516 applied for power to levy the rate. But the right hon. Gentleman should remember that the Scotch Act does not allow the Boards to subsidise existing technical institutions, but requires them to establish such institutions for themselves. The same thing will not apply to England at all. As to the overlapping of Local Authorities, I should like to know what the right hon. Gentleman would propose to do in such a case as that of Crewe, where there is a County Council, a Town Council, and a Board of Guardians? Any one of these authorities may levy aid. rate, and I desire to know how the authority is to be divided. Supposing the Board of Guardians refuses to avail itself of the powers of the Bill, and the Corporation refuses also, the County Council will then be asked to do it. The County Council will be able to levy a rate over the town of Crewe in defiance of the wishes of the Corporation, I suppose? The thing is very complicated, and it seems to me it would be much easier to give the School Board a controlling voice in the matter. Where there is no School Board it would then be well to give the power to the Town Council or some other authority. I hope the strong expression of opinion which has come from this side of the House will not be without influence on the Government.
§ MR. GEDGE (Stockport)
I am the last person in the world who would be likely to say a word against School Boards, or members of them. Nevertheless, I am of opinion that it would be much better that it should be other local bodies, and not School Boards in whom the administration of this matter should be vested. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) uses hard language against those who do not vote on his side on any question into which he can drag considerations of politics and religion, but I have become so familiar with his method of argument in such cases that it has ceased to have any influence on my mind. It is possible that there are two sides to a question, and for hon. Members to take as conscientious a view of politics and religion as he does himself, without voting with him. If such words as "spiteful" and "insulting" are to be used, it seems to me they would apply with tenfold more force to an endeavour to take this power 517 from Local Authorities and give it to School Boards, rather than to give it to the Local Authorities and refuse it to School Boards. There are now about 170,000 young persons receiving technical instruction, of whom a tenth receive that instruction from the School Board, the remainder getting it from their connection with other institutions, church schools, elementary schools, and so forth. Surely it would be unreasonable to give the control to that section which is doing but a tenth of the whole work. The hon. Gentleman opposite speaks of the Local Authority being composed of practical men, whereas members of the School Board are men of education, but it seems to me that argument will tell in precisely the opposite way to that in which he uses it, for when we talk of the School Board being composed of men of education, we know that the Board includes a number of ladies, of clergymen and others interested in education no doubt, but in what may be called the literary side of education rather than the practical side of technical education. It is just the practical men of business you want for technical instruction, for they know what is required in their locality, and it would be far better, therefore, to leave the management in their hands than in the hands of the School Board. Why compel nine tenths of those who are giving elementary technical instruction to put themselves under the control of the School Board? Is it really and seriously proposed that the Midland Institute should put itself under the School Board of Birmingham, or the Yorkshire College under the School Board of Leeds. They would not mind going to the County Council, which would be quite different from putting themselves under a rival authority like the School Board. The School Board of London may be an example for, but they are not an example of, other School Boards. The School Board of London have recognised the good work being done by voluntary schools, and have not sought to interfere with it; but that cannot be said of all School Boards throughout the country, many of them rivals and bitter rivals of the voluntary schools. I can see no good reason why you should put voluntary schools under the control of the School Board. No good reason for doing so has yet been shown. Surely it is 518 I fairer to send them to the Local Authority, which is quite as much a representative body as the School Board, and, in fact, in many cases much more so. Certainly they are as much the representatives of the ratepayers. The hon. Member for Leicester says, "Save us from Boards of Guardians." Well, I have a higher opinion of Boards of Guardians than he seems to have, and I think in many instances they compare not unfavourably in their administration with that of School Boards. We must also bear in mind that in such matters the Guardians will in all probability before long be superseded by District Councils—a better authority than Guardians, and at least as good as the School Board, for this purpose.
§ MR. WOODHEAD (York, W.R., Spen Valley)
Those of us who support this Amendment are not opponents of the Bill. The Vice President of the Council tried to persuade us that the dangers to which we have referred are but the misgivings of our own excited fancies, but they seem to me to be very real. The hon. Member for Northamptonshire has well stated our objections to this part of the Bill, and to the way in-which it is proposed School Boards should be treated. Surely School Boards have done nothing or have omitted to do anything which can justify the treatment proposed to be meted out to them. It cannot be denied that the onerous duties that fall upon the School Boards have been performed in the most efficient manner. As a body, School Boards have given no cause, so far as I know, for the distrust of them that seems to have pervaded the minds of the framers of this measure, and the good work the Boards have done is surely a guarantee that if technical education is committed to them they will carry it on successfully. I cannot see that the Vice President has given us any justification for the decided preference which is proposed to be given to other Local Authorities—authorities which are not elected for educational purposes at all, and of which it cannot be said that they have any special fitness for the performance of educational work. This Bill proposes to create a new Educational Authority side by side with that authority under which has grown up the great national system of education in the country. No necessity has been shown for this, but 519 it has been clearly shown that the adoption of this new system will hamper the educational work of the country. Notwithstanding the remarks of the hon. Member who preceded me, it cannot be contended that County Councils, or Town Councils, or Sanitary Authorities, or Boards of Guardians, can have the same sympathy with the work of popular education as School Boards elected to carry out the work, nor can it be shown that these bodies possess any superior qualifications for carrying out the object of this Bill, which is to provide facilities for supplementing the work of elementary education, the work of the School Boards. The First Lord said he had no knowledge of the existence of opposition to the Bill outside the House, but that does not show the non-existence of such opposition. It is the subordination of the School Board to other Local Authorities which has created so much opposition to the Bill, and this opposition would have been much more generally expressed if there had not been a conviction in the minds of the people that this Bill would not be brought forward at the fag-end of the Session in this manner. The opposition to the Bill evinced by those who have the interest of technical education at heart arises from the embodiment of open hostility or latent dislike to the whole system of School Board administration in the Bill. I support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton, and I hope still that its acceptance may save me from the necessity of moving those Amendments of which I have given notice, and which go in the same direction.
§ MR. H. J. WILSON
I hope, Sir, that before the Amendment is brought to a vote, we shall have a full explanation of the scope of this clause, for I do not think the Vice President has thrown much light on this matter. He devoted a considerable time to the endeavour to soothe our alarms, and to assure us that we could find no ground for many of our apprehensions in the Bill, or that the things we fear are not intentionally in the Bill. It would have been more to the point if he had shown us what the clause really does contemplate. Once more I ask him what is the objection to the Amendment? The clause adminis- 520 ters, as we think, a most undeserved "slap in the face" to the School Board system. I have earnestly hoped and worked for years to see the School Board system have greater influence and to take a position equal to that it has in Scotland; but here, where we have a technical education scheme provided, the School Board is not to be allowed to take it up, but is to go for permission to the Local Authority—possibly the Board of Guardians—on the same terms as the smallest denominational school in the district. Let me refer, by way of illustration, to the town in which I live. We have a School Board and we have two Boards of Guardians, the town is divided between two Unions, and each of the Unions comprises half of Sheffield and a portion of the surrounding district. Is it seriously intended that, under any possible circumstances, these Boards of Guardians should be allowed to deal with technical instruction in a town like Sheffield? Why should the farmers representing the surrounding districts have a voice in the settlement of this question in which the town is interested only? Of course, I may be told that the Town Council will deal with this question; but it is on this question of Local Authority that I am anxious to have some explanation. It is not a desirable arrangement. I am anxious that we should not go to a Division without having the benefit of the views of the hon. Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Dixon), whose opinion on this question carries authority. If he is going to vote against the Amendment I hope he will explain to us the grounds on which he does so. As I read the Report of the Royal Commission on Technical Education, the members of that Commission have something to explain as to the difference in the attitude they take up now to that indicated in the Report. We think they have given a clear indication of their opinion that the School Board should have a position of authority which they cannot have under this Bill without such an Amendment as this. The School Board would have no more right of initiative beyond that of the smallest science and art school. The Vice President has told us that a tenth of the scholars receiving science and art education are under the Board School management, and I am glad to find there are so many, 521 and I am anxious that the number should be increased. But we have a rooted conviction that this Bill is intended to curtail the influence of School Boards in this respect. We should like to have some explanation of the limitations, as to what schools are intended to be dealt with, and if we do not get that we must press this Motion to a Division. Some School Boards have this control, and we want to know are they to be encouraged to persevere, or will you allow another body to step in and discourage them? As things stand, the system by which School Boards could deal with technical instruction might be almost indefinitely increased by a stroke of the pen in the next Code. I am glad the hon. Member has moved this Amendment, and I hope he will carry it to a Division, as a protest against the degradation proposed to be inflicted on the functions of the School Board.
§ MR. DIXON
As I have been appealed to personally, perhaps I may at once say why I propose to vote for the Amendment. As the Bill stands, it would take the work of technical education out of the hands of the School Boards. The initiation and control of such education would be given to Town and County Councils. When I tell the Committee what has occurred in Birmingham they will understand why I individually must strongly oppose a system of that kind. After the School Board was formed, a technical school, which we were obliged to call a seventh standard school, was established, and this school, under the Science and Art Department, carried out very excellent scientific instruction; but we were told by the Education Department that we were going beyond our powers, and so instead of being able to extend our work we have been obliged to curtail it, much to the disappointment of the town, and especially of the working classes, by whom our efforts were much appreciated. We went to the Education Department, where we received encouragement and hope for legislation on the subject. For years we have been striving to get a Bill passed through Parliament to enable us to perfect our work, but now we are met by the present Bill, which says that the School Board shall have no power to develop the work they have 522 been doing in Birmingham, and that the work shall be given to Town Councils which know nothing about it. I do not mean to say that the Town Council of a great town like Birmingham would be against technical education. Nothing of the kind. But the position is this—the Council have 14 or 15 Committees, each eager to spend more for the development of the work upon which it is particularly engaged, and for the benefit of the town, and the Town Council very naturally are under pressure from the ratepayers to keep down expenditure. There have even been ominous expressions of opinion that the School Board precept should be cut down. So from the first there would be an indisposition on the part of some of the members of the Town Council to undertake fresh expenditure. I have been informed that some of the leading men of a Town Council in an important city in the North have already expressed their opposition to expenditure in this direction. It is a weakness of human nature. Where you have a body of men elected for a particular work, they take keen interest in that work, and may be entrusted to carry out your directions. The School Boards have been constantly improving, as far as the law would allow them, the character of the instruction given in the elementary schools, and they have gone so far as to give some scientific instruction; and now that more technical instruction is to be provided, it seems to be expected that scholars should pass from schools under the control of School Boards to schools under the control of other bodies, the connection with the School Board system being severed. The advanced instruction so to be given is not secondary education, and we who are connected with School Boards look on it as only the proper and necessary development of that given in the Board Schools; the superstructure must necessarily be raised upon the foundation already laid by the Board Schools. It may be that the Council or other body would not choose to spend the money necessary to provide technical instruction. At all events it would have no influence, no power, no concern with the preparatory instruction in the elementary schools. When the technical schools in Birmingham got into working order the Head Master came to me and said 523 that the children coming from the elementary schools were not fully prepared, and that it was desirable that the instruction given in the elementary schools should be more adapted to the scientific instruction to be given afterwards. He added—I wish you would exercise your influence to secure more mathematical training, so that the children may at once be able to avail themselves of the technical instruction in these schools.But, in order to increase the value of the instruction in the technical schools, the curriculum of the Board Schools would have to be altered in a way that would not increase the grant; indeed, it might have to be altered in a way that might even diminish the grants. Thus, not only would the character of schools be affected, but also the reputation of individual teachers. But a Town Council could not ask a School Board to alter its curriculum. All this shows that the instruction of the working classes is a continuous work, which would suffer if it were in the hands of two bodies instead of being committed to one. Therefore, the Bill cannot be an acceptable Bill to those who understand the subject, and I should have opposed it altogether if it had not been for the Amendments which the Government are going to accept. Those Amendments, however, will not entirely meet the difficulty, and therefore I shall vote for this Amendment, so as to vest School Boards, as well as other bodies, with the initiative to be given by the Bill.
§ MR. CONWAY (Leitrim, N.)
It appears to me that most of the opponents of the Bill on this side of the House are confounding elementary technical education with secondary instruction, and they are arguing as if it was proposed to put in force the provisions of the Code throughout the country. I am of opinion that the Code furnishes an opportunity for gentlemen of reputation to carry on technical education in their schools as far as possible with children up to the age of 13 or 14 years. Now, Sir, I may say further, with reference to this Bill, that if the Amendment proposed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northamptonshire be put in force, it will disturb the compromise of 1870, and we shall have the School Board in certain districts superseding School Attendance 524 Committees, and practically the School Board will become the principal authority in the country. The hon. Member for the Holmfirth Division asked what was the necessity for the Local Authority which was defined by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on Education. Now, Sir, my reply to that is that the necessity for it arises thus—that the School Boards in the country are restricted to providing education for children between the ages of 5 and 13, and if they do not have compulsory powers given them, then it cannot be hoped that the Act will work effectively. We have an illustration of this in the working of the Scotch Technical Education Bill. Scotland has a Technical Education Bill which is supposed to be worked by School Boards, but it is an utter failure, because boys above 13 years of age pass from under the influence of School Boards. What we want are attractive technical schools, which will draw boys within their influence after they leave the elementary schools. I believe there is a disposition in the country to advance technical education. This Bill will give Town Councils power to erect technical schools. We know that Manchester has already done this, and that the hon. Member for Gorton has carried out, through his own personal influence, a most successful system, of technical education. It is by means of these schools that it will be possible to attract boys who are now outside the scope of the compulsory powers of the School Boards to the Educational Institutes. In Blackburn and other towns loyalty—especially in connection with, the Jubilee—has found expression in the building of Technical Institutes; but some of these institutions have not been brought to a successful issue through want of funds. Now, if the Town Councils are empowered to take them over they will soon supply the necessary funds to complete the Institutes and set the machinery in motion; and I believe that they are not likely to neglect the work when they have once undertaken it. I read in the papers the other day that a deputation of American artisans who are visiting this country expressed great surprise at the ingenuity and skill and development of artistic resources which they witnessed in the town to which the hon. Member 525 for Holmfirth belongs. Now these men had not been trained in a Technical Institute; they had acquired their skill by practice. I hold that while you have the proper machinery in your public elementary schools to give the boys a good technical education you ought to do so, and so make a pathway, as it were, for them to the Institutes which it is now proposed to establish under the control of Town Councils.
§ MR. WOODALL
No one can have followed this very interesting Debate without feeling that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, in the statement which he gave to us, did not put the Committee completely in possession of his views as to the manner in which the Amendment the Government propose to accept will operate. No one can doubt that there would be great difficulty in inducing the managers and committees of the various Schools of Art and Technical Colleges throughout the country to accept anything like the control of School Boards. It has been pointed out that there is a very serious defect in this Bill, for while it enables the Local Authority to levy a penny rate and to distribute it, there is nothing in the measure making it compulsory or obligatory on the rating authority to recognise and contribute to the work of technical instruction. The Committee, I think, must have been greatly impressed by the speech of the hon. Member for Edgbaston, whose utterances come with so much authority in consequence of his known devotion to this and other forms of education. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill has intimated that the Government are willing to accept the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Gorton, which will distinctly recognise the right of the School Board to continue the technical teaching of those who pass the proper standard. But surely it is a practical difficulty that under this Bill the School Board will only be able to carry on this work provided the rating authority are willing to levy a rate for the purpose. The right hon. Gentleman said just now that the Government would guard and protect the existing rights of School Boards. There is a doubt whether the Boards would care to spend money for technical education out of the amount for which 526 they can now send in precepts. Will not the right hon. Gentleman remove the doubt which exists as to the right of the School Board to give manual and technical instruction, such as is proposed in this Bill, out of the Education Grant? My hon. Friend the Member for Holmfirth referred to the Report of the Royal Commission on this subject, and he seemed to think there was something inconsistent in the Members of that Commission supporting this Bill. But the Report of the Commission includes a recommendation in this direction, for on page 522 it recommends that the School Board should be authorised to establish science and art classes for artisans, and where no School Board exists power should be given to the local governing body to supply such schools. By that opinion we abide, and it is because we find in this Bill a recognition of the principle recommended by the Commission that I, for one, support it, and I am authorised to say that the other Members of the Commission with perfect unanimity hold that view. Although the Member for Gorton was not a Member of the Commission, he served in the most valuable manner, and we are indebted to him for the valuable volume containing the Report of the system prevailing in American schools. I wish very much we could in this Bill follow the example there set us, and that we might hope to see our entire system of public schools under authorities like the American Boards of Education. I am so strongly in favour of increasing the powers and enlarging the sphere of operations of the School Boards that I shall give myself the pleasure of voting for the Amendment. I may add that if my hon. Friend fails to carry the Amendment I will earnestly press upon the right hon. Gentleman to consider between this and the Report stage the desirability of giving School Boards the power not only to carry out but to initiate the work provided for by this Bill.
§ SIR W. HART DYKE
I wish to state now, what I am afraid I did not distinctly state when I spoke last, that the Government cannot consent to this Amendment, because it deals with a long-standing controversy.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
I am surprised at the indisposition shown on the other side of the House to trust the 527 Local Authorities, which are elected precisely on the same franchise as the School Boards.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
I quite admit that, and so far as that point goes I should not be sorry to see "rural authorities" removed from the Bill. My remarks are specially directed to the speech of the hon. Member for Edgbaston, who dealt with the case of towns like Birmingham, and not with Boards of Guardians. I do not think that the fear expressed on the opposite Benches of the Local Authorities is well founded. What is the proposal of the Bill? That the Local Authorities shall have the power to initiate technical instruction in a particular locality. Of the two elected authorities, which of them is the better to make the selection? Is it the School Board or the Local Authority? The School Board is primarily established to manage schools. For this purpose you require gentlemen with technical knowledge, and they may properly be elected ad hoc; but for determining the policy whether there should be technical instruction or not the Local Authority is a far better authority than the School Board. Would it be right to give the School Board the power to decide whether technical instruction should be given in any school other than their own? I think this Consideration is enough to show that we cannot accept the Amendment. If we give this power to the School Board similar demands will be made for the voluntary schools.
§ MR. PROVAND
I rise to support the Amendment, and one of the best reasons I can give for doing so is that the Commissioners themselves held the opinion that the Local Authorities should be empowered to establish technical schools "providing that there was no School Board in the district." The hon. Member for Hanley, when he read an extract from the Report of the Commissioners in order to enforce his argument, failed to finish the quotation. He did not read the concluding sentence, which ran "that the power should only be exercised where no School Boards exist." Now, the Amendment of my hon. Friend seeks to carry out this recommendation. He and we desire that the Bill should be in conformity with the recommendations of the Commission. I look 528 on the Bill as it at present stands as a subsidy to the parsons, who will use the powers conferred by it for the furtherance of denominational education. The Amendment will materially limit their ability to do that. As to the remarks of the noble Lord, surely he cannot mean to suggest that the question of giving technical instruction in a given town could be better decided by a Board elected for lighting, drainage, and police purposes than by a body specially chosen to manage educational business. Attention has been drawn to the fact that not much use has been made of the Scotch Technical Education Bill, passed three years ago. Well, the explanation of that is that the School Boards in Scotland have no right to subsidise other schools for this purpose; they must establish technical schools of their own, and as this would involve a very heavy outlay they have abstained from putting the Act in force in many places. But the subject is attracting great attention in Scotland, and if we can get the Bill amended no doubt it will be more generally made use of.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)
Is the hon. Gentleman in order, Sir, in discussing the Scotch Technical Education Act?
No; that would not be in order. I understood, however, the hon. Member was only referring to it in order to enforce his argument as to the position of School Boards on this question.
§ MR. PROVAND
Yes, Sir; I was referring to the Scotch Act in order to show the desirability of allowing School Boards in England to deal with this question of technical instruction. Another reason why the Scotch Act has not succeeded is that when it was brought before this House very little time was allowed for considering it, and whole pages of Amendments had to be sacrificed in order to save the Bill. We are now exactly in the same position on this Bill. The hon. Member for the City of Manchester recommends us not to press the Amendment, but to pass the Bill, which, he admits, he does not like. "But," he says, "a half loaf is better than no loaf at all." This is exactly what we thought and said about the Scotch Bill, we took the half loaf, and very unsatisfactory we 529 have since found it to be. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill in asking us to accept it said it was merely an extension of the South Kensington curriculum. I do not take that view. I think that this Bill should not be supported as it stands. Our aim should be to extend, and not to limit, the powers of School Boards. The members of these bodies are educational experts, who have been elected for the very purpose of looking after the education of the country; and I think the passing of this Bill as it stands would seriously damage their authority, and take away a good deal of that desire to promote education which actuates the great majority of the members.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
I suppose that if the Amendment is agreed to much of the opposition to the Bill will disappear. That reveals the fact, which is apparent from the Debate, that the opposition to the Bill is of a very limited character. It is a School Board opposition. When we consider the character of the poverty of this country, which is different from the poverty of other ^countries, in its aimless-ness and helplessness through the want of technical education, I marvel that any Englishman should throw any difficulty or obstacle in the way of such education. The hon. Member for Edg-baston has argued that because the Board Schools teach the elements of technical instruction, therefore they should have a voice in carrying out technical instruction itself. It might as well be argued that Rugby, Eton, and Winchester ought to have a voice with regard to the engineering, the medical, or any other technical education which is to be given in other institutions. The argument is as good in one case as in the other. A question has also been raised about Board Schools and denominations. There appear to be men in this House who have a horror of denominations. But the training schools are now maintained on denominational principles out of public money. If the denominational system obtains and is satisfactory with regard to technical education of one kind, why on earth should it not be satisfactory with regard to technical education of another kind? It is said that Local Authorities will not have the same advantage as School Boards in 530 matters of education; but is that so? The Bill provides that the Local Authority may appoint a Committee, consisting either wholly or partly of members of the Local Authority, and delegate their powers to that Committee; and is it to be supposed that an intelligent body of men elected to the Town Council or Sanitary Authority of the district, knowing perfectly well that there are men on the School Boards who can give valuable assistance, will not avail themselves of the services of those gentlemen? Of course they will be put upon the Committee.
§ MR. HALLEY STEWART
The hon. Member who last spoke drew a picture of the extreme need of the country in regard to technical instruction, and then turned round on us and made the discovery that this was purely a School Board opposition. He said he marvelled that there should be any opposition to the Bill, suggested that it did not matter who had the control of it so long as the instruction could be given, and urged us to withdraw our Amendment. But if he is so supremely anxious for technical instruction, and does not care who will have control over it, let him vote for our Amendment, which will place the School Boards in their proper position with regard to it. Now, the noble Lord the Member for Darwen has objected to the School Board being entrusted with the management of technical education because it is elected ad hoc.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
What I said was that it was not a good thing to entrust a question of policy to a body elected ad hoc for educational purposes only, and that such questions should be referred to a general body.
§ MR. H. STEWART
The noble Lord, then, thinks that technical education should be dealt with, not by an Educational Authority, but by a Body dealing with sewage, paving, lighting, &c. Remember that in rural districts the Guardians will have power to act under this Bill, and they certainly are not, in the truest sense of the term, representative bodies. They represent the money bags of the rich, with their dual and plural qualifications. The Guardians elected by the dual qualifications of the rich are the worst possible body to deal with a question like this. It has been said that a School Board is not likely to interest itself in this matter sufficiently, but that 531 a Town Council is. Surely hon. Members who suggest that have little knowledge of the relationship between Councils and School Boards. School Boards have often come into conflict with Town Councils; but it has always been for giving too much education, never for giving too little, and had the School Board mandate not been supreme, the Council would frequently have cut down its precepts. Yet under this Bill you are proposing to put the School Boards in a secondary position. The Town Councils are usually more anxious to cut down rates than to promote education, and you will find they will frequently refuse to levy the penny rate for the purposes of this Bill. It would be better to give the School Board an absolute right in this matter, and thus take away all chance of antagonism between the Councils and the School Boards.
§ SIR W. HART DYKE
I think I may appeal to the Committee, after the long and exhaustive discussion we have listened to, to come to a Division.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS
If this Amendment is carried, you will commence operations under this Bill with bodies intimately acquainted with the educational requirements of their respective districts, and conversant with the industries and social wants and conditions of their neighbourhoods. They will be, therefore, the best body to carry out a Bill like this. Our desire should be to make the Educational Authority as perfect as possible; to give it the greatest possible amount of dignity, and to extend its powers, if it is intended to catch up and keep pace with Continental Educational Authorities. There is nothing in the Amendment inconsistent with the Bill; and I cannot for the life of me understand why hon. Members desire to spread educational duties over a series of authorities when they have ready to their hands a body like the School Board, specially fitted for undertaking the management of technical instruction. The idea of all sincere educationalists is to give the Educational Authority as much power as possible, so that it may develop the institutions of the country and pass the child on from the elementary to the technical schools, thereby fitting it subsequently to earn its livelihood. When I read the Bill I was astonished to see that it established 532 a system of boycotting the School Board; and I am equally astonished at the opposition to this Amendment, which should be carried if a Bill like this is to do its work effectually.
§ MR. CHANNING
I have no wish to prolong the discussion; but I must say I think the Debate has been amply justified by the admirable and wholly unanswerable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the Edgbaston Division. I venture to submit that no adequate reason has been stated by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill why this Amendment should not be accepted. The only answer, so far as I could gather, was that this Bill is a sort of extension of the South Kensington curriculum. But I would venture to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Elementary Education; for it seems to me somewhat remarkable that although the majority of that Commission reported in favour of handing over education of this kind to the Local Authorities, they also appended to their Report a recommendation to the effect that it was desirable that the management of technical instruction should be entrusted to the Education Department and not to the Science and Art Department. My hon. Friend the Member for the Edgbaston Division of Birmingham has stated the relation of School Boards to Town Councils in a way I defy any hon. Gentleman opposite to challenge or to answer. Another hon. Friend has referred to the case of Boards of Guardians. I was exceedingly glad to hear the noble Lord the Member for Darwen (Lord Cranborne) state he was willing to see Boards of Guardians struck out of the Bill. That would be a very important concession to the views of some of us. I am acquainted with several School Boards in a district under a Board of Guardians who are endeavouring to carry out a scheme of technical education; but I anticipate that if the School Boards had to go for aid to the Boards of Guardians they would be shown the door. I will only refer to one other topic. I submit that the compromise by which the Government are placed in the position of seeing this Bill supported by the hon. Member for Gorton and his friends is a compromise entered into by them in a spirit very different to that 533 represented by the Amendments on the taper. The hon. Member for Gorton, in a communication to the Press, has said:—By these Amendments the School Board may demand and obtain, if they think fit, such aid from the rates levied by the Local Authority as will enable them to carry on science and art instruction with manual and technical training as defined in the Bill, and no Local Authority can establish schools for this purpose unless the School Board or other managers of technical schools established for a like purpose have failed to provide efficient instruction.That is an important statement, and I venture to ask the right hon. Baronet, before a Division is taken, what is the view of the Government as to the interpretation of his own Amendments by the hon. Member for Gorton? The hon. Gentleman also said in his letter, replying to Mr. Whishaw, the Secretary to the National Education Association:—I can only say that no Educational Authority can be set up unless the School Board's neglect their duty or do not exist.There are two distinct statements by the gentleman who has chiefly negotiated with the right hon. Baronet as to obtaining agreement between the two sides of the House—the one is that no Educational Authority can be set up where there is a School Board, and the other is that no Local Authority can establish schools for the purpose of technical instruction unless the School Board are at fault. If these statements are not accepted by the right hon. Gentleman, I submit that my hon. Friend- has been led into a fool's paradise by the wiles of the right hon. Gentleman, and that the hon. Gentleman has really misled the country in stating that his Amendments will give what a great many people strongly desire, when it will do nothing of the kind. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will offer some reason why this Amendment should be rejected.
§ MR. H. J. WILSON
I should like to point out that amongst the various authorities who are in favour of the Amendment of my hon. Friend not the least important is the National Union of Teachers, the body with which Mr. Heller is connected. They feel, with many other people, that as far as possible education should be continuous; that there should not be the break between the education given by School 534 Boards and that which may be given under this Bill.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 80 Noes 26.—(Div. List, No. 344.)
§ MR. CHANNING
I wish to ask the opinion of the Chairman as to the admissibility of an Amendment I have prepared. It is in line 6, after "supply," to insert—Technical or manual instruction in a School Board district where the School Board has not already supplied it or shall not within six months of the passing of the Act take steps to supply it and in districts where there are no School Boards.The object of this Amendment is to restrict the action of the Local Authorities, and make provision for technical education in districts where there are no School Boards, or the School Boards have failed to act. I do not know whether I shall be in order in moving this.
No; the Amendment differs so little from the one already decided that the Committee may be taken to have dealt with it. The object of the last Amendment was to provide that the Bill shall not be put in force by the Local Authority where there is a School Board; and the present Amendment is to the effect that the Local Authority shall wait until the School Board has neglected to avail itself of the powers of the Act before itself using those powers.
§ MR. H. J. WILSON
I desire to point out that the Amendment the Committee has disposed of was one which, so far as the Local Authority is concerned, would be of a permanent character, whereas the Amendment now proposed would have only a temporary effect.
§ MR. WOODALL
Those hon. Members who wish to see the Bill pass—of whom I am one—would like to have some leading from the right hon. Baronet the Vice President of the Council as to what concessions the Government are disposed to make in the Bill. A knowledge of this would considerably modify the action of some hon. Members on the Opposition side, and probably smooth the passage of the Bill.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members Were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ SIR W. HART DYKE
I desire at once to respond to the appeal of the hon. Member for Hanley. We have had a long discussion on an Amendment which vitally affects the principle of the measure, and several Amendments consequential on that proposal follow on the Paper. There are other Amendments, some of which are of importance; and of these I propose to accept that of the hon. Member for Merionethshire (Mr. T. Ellis), which I have already mentioned, namely, to add at the end of line 22—Nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to interfere with any existing powers of School Boards with respect to the provision of technical and manual instruction.This Amendment I accept without reservation. The Conscience Clause, to be proposed by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Channing), I also accept, though I do not think it necessary. Hon. Members opposite may think it an important safeguard of their interests in the future, and I therefore accept it, though I do not think the danger they fear is ever likely to arise. There is another Amendment on the same subject in the name of the hon. Member for Merionethshire, but that I do not propose to accept. A great deal has been said as to the Local Authority proposed in the Bill. The clause bearing upon that question has been carefully drawn so as to cover all the ground, hut, as it has been pointed out that there may be conflicting authorities in the rural sanitary areas, I am not prepared to insist on the Rural Sanitary Authority remaining in the Bill. The whole ground may well be covered by the County Council, therefore when we come to Section 4 I shall move to leave out the Rural Sanitary Authority. Then I propose to accept the new clause to be moved by the hon. Member for North-West Durham:—It shall he competent for any School Board or Local Authority, should they think fit, to institute an entrance examination for persons desirous of attending technical schools or classes under their management or to which they contribute.There is an important clause down in the name of the hon. Member for Bristol—an Amendment relating to the audit 536 of accounts—which I shall also be ready to accept. That was on the first clause, which I should be prepared to deal with, as I do not like the clause as it stands.
§ SIR W. HART DYKE
As that clause raises some very contentious matter I shall not be prepared to press it.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I propose to move an Amendment to Clause 1, line 7, namely, to leave out the words "the authority may deem expedient," in order to insert the wordsIn such terms as may he prescribed under regulations to be made by the Education Department under this Act.It has been suggested that I should say "The Science and Art Department;" but in selecting the Education Department I am acting on the lines laid down by the Royal Commission on the Elementary Education Act, namely,That it is desirable that the means of technical instruction should be entrusted to the Education Department, and not to the Science and Art Department.My hon. Friends who object to the Education Department will have an opportunity of proposing an Amendment to my Amendment. I have taken the suggestion for this Amendment from a similar Bill proposed for Scotland in I887, which is now the Technical Schools Scotland Act. By that Act the administration of technical instruction is left entirely to the School Board, which is the Local Authority. We have failed in the attempt to make the School Board the Local Authority in this Bill; but I submit that if Parliament, in dealing with a strictly educational body like the School Board in Scotland, did so under the condition that it should be revised and controlled by the Education Department, it ought especially to adopt the same course when it is laying down that the Local Authority shall not be an educational body at all, but one whose functions relate to sewage and other matters altogether apart from education. I dare say the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council is familiar with the Scotch Act to which I refer, and will admit my contention as to its effect in regard to the control of technical education. That Act is construed as one of the Education 537 (Scotland) Acts, and Clause 3 says the subjects to be taught in the schools shall be such as shall be from time to time approved by the Scotch Education Department. Even in the interpretation clause the expression "technical instruction" is said to mean "instruction in subjects approved by the Scotch Education Department;" and the same thing runs all through the Act. Everywhere is the Scotch Education Department set up as the Controlling Department. I now propose, by a single phrase, to enable the English Educational Department to do what the Scotch Educational Department is required to do by the Act I have cited.
Another Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 7, to leave out the words—
'The authority think expedient,' and insert the words "as may he prescribed by regulations to he made by the Education Department under this Act.'"—(Mr. Edmund Robertson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ SIR W. HART DYKE
It is somewhat difficult to see what would be the full scope of this Amendment, but I am afraid that, as far as I understand it, its result would be very injurious to this Bill. The hon. Gentleman proposes to insert an Amendment, providing that the Education Department is to take the place of the Local Authority—or, in other words, the Central Department in London is to prescribe to the Local Authority the amount of rates to be levied for the purposes of the Bill. This would be taking it out of the power of the Local Authority to say how and by what means the money to be raised shall go for the benefit of those requiring technical instruction. I think that a more preposterous proposal it would be impossible to conceive, and it would almost seem as if it were brought forward for the purpose of delaying and defeating the measure. The hon. Gentleman has spoken of the Scotch Act, and I would remind him and the Committee that only two applications have been made from School Boards in Scotland to the Scotch Education Department under that Act.
§ MR. CHANNING
I think it hardly fair of the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that the Amendment of my hon. friend is put forward simply for the 538 purpose of delaying the Bill, and not to assert a definite principle. We contend that the authority set up by the Bill would not be a friendly one in carrying out its educational policy, and this Amendment simply puts in the hands of the Education Department a lever which would enable it to obtain the results contemplated by the measure.
§ MR. PICTON
I think that if there is any misunderstanding as to the effect of this Amendment it is due to the wording of the Bill. It says the Local Authority may supply the means of instruction to such an extent or on such terms as may be deemed expedient, and if that only meant the amount of the rate the right hon. Gentleman would be right in saying the Amendment would be absurd; but, as I understand it, the Local Authority is to lay down the curriculum, the limits within which technical instruction is to be given, and the terms on which it is to be given. If I am wrong, I am prepared to sit down on an intimation from the right hon. Gentleman; but if I am in the right, I hold that my hon. Friend is justified in. proposing his Amendment. The Local Authority set up by this Bill is about the last in the world to whom should be entrusted the degree of instruction to be given or the terms on which it should be afforded. The whole of the existing law as to the purposes for which the Local Sanitary Authority are appointed shows how absurd it is to invest the powers of this Bill, as to technical instruction, in the hands of a body charged with the supervision of matters relating to sewage, common lodging houses, water supply, nuisances, and other odoriferous subjects. Much as I dislike centralisation, I would rather see technical education centralised in the Education Department than placed in the hands of authorities elected for such purposes. I think there ought to be a very close relationship between the Local Authority and the Education Department, and that the latter ought to be supreme in regard to the education to be given. I have from the outset contended for the simplification of our educational system, and I say that, having adopted the Local Authority named in this Bill, you ought to lay down some system by which scientific, literary, or technical instruction under 539 it can be administered from one centre and on one principle.
§ MR. H. J. WILSON
I would put it to the right hon. Baronet—are we to understand that this proposal of the Government is the beginning of a new departure in the shape of giving larger and more complete powers of control to the Local Authorities?
§ THE CHANCELLOE OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN, St. George's, Hanovor Square)
I presume that what the House really wants is that technical instruction should be given in some form or other, and that the great majority of the Members of this House are most desirous that this Bill should be carried. Surely the time has come when we should endeavour to avoid further controversy on this Bill, if we are really anxious that a measure of technical eduation should be carried this Session. I believe that the vast majority in the House and in this country would be sorry if another year were lost, and I think I may appeal to the small minority in the House, who are raising every kind of difficulty to the progress of the Bill, to withdraw their opposition to it, on the ground that the great majority of those on their own side of the House, as we I as on the Ministerial side of it, are desirous that the great object of spreading technical education throughout the country should be carried into effect. If, under colour of these objections, hon. Members opposite intend to show that they do not want the Bill, the Government will know what position they occupy. It is perfectly obvious that if the four and a-half pages of Amendments which stand upon the Paper, in addition to numerous Amendments in manuscript, are to be persisted in, it will be extremely difficult to carry the Bill. If that be object of hon. Members opposite, they had better say so, and then it will be known on whom the responsibility has for the loss of the measure. It is clear that the Local Authorities are entitled to have a voice in the matter, and if it comes to a Division I feel confident that there will not be a score of hon. Members who will support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dundee. I appeal to the hon. Member, who has already got technical education in Scotland, not to impede technical education being carried out in England. I entreat the hon. 540 Member not to press his Amendment, but to allow the Bill to proceed.
§ MR. WOODALL
I am afraid the Committee will hardly think the intervention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is calculated to smooth the progress of the measure through the present stage. It is very unfair to charge my hon. Friend with wishing to obstruct the measure, or with interposing an Amendment that is not of a practical character. Mention has been made of the probable reluctance of the Local Authorities to take those steps which are desired by the promoters of technical education, and it seems only right that we should have some sort of assurance that the Science and Art Department or the Education Department shall have some kind of control. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will undertake to see that where the Educational Authority is anxious to carry out the objects of the Bill, and the Eating Authority is reluctant, there shall be some reference to the Central Authority.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
In reply to the remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer I can assure him that I have not proposed my Amendment from any motive of obstruction or hostility to English technical instruction, in which I feel quite as much interest as the right hon. Gentleman. I would, however, point out that what the right hon. Gentleman has said really comes to this—that we must take this Bill with all its deformities on its head, or be content with nothing at all. If this is not what the right hon. Gentleman means, what, I ask, does he mean? I say that here is a definite deformity to be removed; the right hon. Gentleman says, "No, at this late stage of the Session you must take the Bill as it stands or lose it altogether." I confess that at this the eleventh hour, I am not prepared to entertain legislative proposals of this kind at all, especially when it comes tea postponement of the Appropriation Bill in order that a measure like this may be taken at a moment when most of the Members of this House are absent. I say it is not at a time like this that the right hon. Gentleman ought to reproach those of us who remain and who are deeply interested in this question, because we take our stand on the principle that if the Government will 541 introduce contentious matter into their proposal, we are not to submit to their enforcement of the Rules of the House to our disadvantage, but are entitled to interfere in the legislation they propose. I submit that we have our rights as well as the Government, and I defy the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to deny that we are entitled to discuss this Bill as fully as if it had been introduced in the first week instead of in the last week of the Session. I have also to complain of the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council. I do not think he had a right to impute to me the motives he did. I have never been connected with obstruction in this House, and, in point of fact, have often argued that the Government should take larger powers to deal with obstruction than they have dared to propose. Moreover, the right hon. Gentleman began by misapprehending the scope of my Amendment, and accused me of endeavouring to give to the clause we are discussing the interpretation he very unfairly put on my Amendment. All my Amendment amounts to is that the Bill shall be carried out by the Local Authority under the regulations of the Education Department. Does the right hon. Gentleman know what Regulations made by the Education Department mean? They mean general regulations, and for him to say what is meant is that the Department shall interfere in the way he suggests is absurd. The right hon. Gentleman showed that he well knew what I meant by his reference to the Scotch Department, whose control over technical education in Scotland is precisely what I want here. The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to the failure of technical instruction under the Scotch Education Department. I say that there is no more determined opponent of centralisation than I am, and I showed no favour towards that proposal in the Scotch Bill; it being the right hon. Gentleman and his friends who forced it upon us. Precisely the same appeals were made to us on that Bill as are made to-night, and the result is that the right hon. Gentleman has now confessed the Bill to have been a failure, because it has been under the management of a Central Department. We were told that if we did not accept that Bill we should be regarded as not being sincere 542 friends of technical instruction, and now we find that that measure is a confessed abortion. But we who objected to a central control in the Scotch system have a reason for not objecting to it in the English, that reason being that the Local Authority in England is very different from that of Scotland. If you will only make the School Board the Local Authority under this Bill I will withdraw my Amendment, but when you insist, for purposes you do not deny, on transferring education from the Educational Authority to bodies appointed for totally different purposes, I say that the condition of central supervision and authority ought to be imposed.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
I am quite willing to accept the statement of the hon. Gentleman opposite, that his Amendment is not one of a frivolous character, but has been brought forward with a bonâ fide object; still I do not think it is well expressed. I do not think it would be a very good arrangement to give the central body the duty of prescribing the precise kind of technical education which ought to be pursued in the different localities, especially seeing how wide a divergence there is in the training required in different parts of the country. I would point out that as it is there is a very great limitation in that power, which I hardly think the hon. Gentleman has fully considered, namely, that a technical school cannot get a grant unless it conforms to the rules of the Department. That, I think, is a sufficient control to give the Department, as it is hardly likely that any Local Authority would risk the loss of the grant by pursuing a system of education opposed to the course laid down by the Department. There being this precaution which will protect the Science and Art Department in the later clause, I would submit to Scotch Members that this is not a very important matter. If we are all anxious to get on with business, and do not wish to lose the Bill,, and seeing the conciliatory attitude the Government have shown, I think we might now pass on to other Amendments.
§ MR. PROVAND
There seems to be some misapprehension as to the use of the word "prescribed" in the Amendment. Under the Scotch Act a Resolution is passed by the School 543 Board, which is confirmed a month later, and then it does not take effect until approved by the Education Department. The object of the Amendment is to make a similar provision in the Bill. The Education Department is to be an approving but not a dictating authority.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE,) Lincolnshire, Horncastle
We are agreed that the Amendment is not obstructive, and the best thing we can do in the interests of common sense and the progress of business, is to divide upon it at once. The arguments for and against have been fully stated. My right hon. Friend the Vice President has gone out of his way to explain what he is willing to accept, and I think the Committee is fully in a position to come to a decision. The Bill provides that the rate to be raised shall not exceed a penny in the pound, and the hon. Gentleman proposes that the Education Department shall step in and say how much of that penny should be spent. I think the position is not tenable, but if hon. Members think otherwise let them put it to the test of a Division.
§ MR. PICTON
The bellicose interruption of the right hon. Gentleman does not further the progress of Debate. The right hon. Gentleman says we should go to a Division, but if we go to a Division now, we shall do so under the imputation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that none of us care about technical education. The effect produced by the eloquence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer shows that it is absolutely necessary that something more should be said before we proceed to a Division. Perhaps we cannot vie with right hon. Gentlemen opposite in their efforts, and have not had their opportunities for forwarding technical instruction, but so far as our humbler influence has permitted we have laboured to spread technical instruction, and are most anxious that it should be enjoyed by the people of this country, but it is precisely because it is our conviction that if we allow technical instruction to be be put into the hands of such Local Authorities as these we shall ruin the whole thing for a generation to come, that we earnestly strive to obtain a substantial Amendment to the Bill. I, for one, am most opposed to allowing the 544 Education Department or any other Department too much power, but when it comes to a choice between the Education Department and the Sanitary Authorities in a rural district, I confess I prefer the Education Department. I have given my reasons in justification of this and yet I am charged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with mere opposition to the spread of technical instruction. It is because technical instruction would be degraded, hindered and opposed by putting the Local Authority in this position, and because I should have greater confidence in the Education Department, that I shall certainly go into the Lobby with my hon. Friend.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 82; Noes 21.—(Div. List, No. 345.)
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, lines 10 and 11, to leave out the words "at an elementary school."—(Sir William Hart Dyke.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ SIR W. LAWSON: (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
I have a suggestion to make that I think will meet with the approbation of the Committee. Standing fifth on the Orders of the Day is the Appropriation Bill, and as it seems to me most improper to drive this into a post-midnight discussion, I now beg to move that the Chairman do report Progress. There are a great number of subjects to be raised and a great many Members wish to speak on this Bill, and I have never known a precedent for taking the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill as other than the first Order of the Day.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Sir Wilfrid Lawson.)
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I hope the hon. Baronet will not press his Motion. I do not think the hon. Gentleman realises the anxiety of the great majority of the House that this Bill should become law in the present Session. Though I admit there may be subjects of importance to be raised on the Appropriation Bill, I must at the same time insist on the greater importance of passing this Bill, and that it should not be post- 545 poned in favour of discussions of a more or less academical nature that may arise on the Appropriation Bill. The Government are aware that there are one or two points which hon. Members wish to raise on the Appropriation Bill, but no news has reached the Government that there is a large number of topics to be discussed. I would earnestly beg the Member for the Cockermouth Division of Cumberland not to press his Motion to a Division, but to allow the Committee to make further progress with this most important Bill.
§ MR. WOODALL
I may be permitted to join in the appeal. We have reached, a very interesting and important stage of the Bill. We are on the threshold of the Amendments so often referred to, and until we see the effect of these I hope the Committee will not be interrupted.
§ MR. PICTON
The right hon. Gentleman tells us of the great majority of the House. Where are the great majority of the House? We did not find them in the Division Lobby just now. The great majority of the House are away on the moors, or the Continent, or the Atlantic, or no one knows where. An hon. Member reminds me that they are partly in gaol. I do not think it is fair to appeal to the wishes of the great majority, the right hon. Gentleman taking it for granted that the great majority are on his side; it is as unfair to the loyal and faithful minority resisting the tyrannical use of the accidental power possessed by the Government to force a Bill through at the fag-end of a Session which has been most wearying to us all. It is a most vicious system that the Government should delay until the last five days of a Session the discussion on a crucial, critical, and important measure, and then force it on by appeals to the opinion of the great majority of the House who are enjoying their pleasures elsewhere. I do most earnestly hope that the hon. Baronet will not listen to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely, but will insist on going to a Division with his Motion.
§ MR. MATHER
I would also join in the appeal to the hon. Baronet, and I may do so because on this side I happen to have taken a somewhat prominent position in regard to this Bill, and in the efforts to make from the Government proposal a really thorough and useful measure for the benefit of the country. I honour and respect the view of my hon. Friend who has just spoken, differing from him though I do, and I will ask him at least to accord to me similar credit for honesty of purpose. Probably I have had greater experience in connection with this subject, and certainly I am as staunch an advocate for liberal principles as he is. I am exceedingly anxious to make a good Bill out of this, and I think the opportunity is favourable. From the first I thought I saw a prospect of making a very valuable measure within the limits to which the Government confine their Bill, and when the hon. Member speaks of forcing the Bill through at this late period of the Session, I think I may call to his mind the fact that the subject itself is no new one, and that though we are driven by stress of business to this period, yet there was a Bill on the subject before the House, brought in by the hon. Member for Manchester (Sir H. Roscoe) from February until July. There was no opportunity for that Bill coming into law, for it ran against that rock which other Bills have encountered, and which this one stands in danger of, namely, the compromise effected by the establishment of the dual system in elementary education, and the danger of raising the old controversy. Let us, now the opportunity seems within our grasp, at least make an effort to frame a useful measure out of the elements before us, and if we do not soon arrive at the accomplishment of our desires, then will be the time for us to report Progress.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I think, with great respect, that the hon. Member might have addressed his appeal to another quarter. He is mistaken in the object the hon. Baronet has in his Motion. It is not proposed in a spirit of hostility to this Bill. It is proposed with a desire that we should enter upon the important discussions connected with the Appropriation Bill before we reach 12 o'clock. The Government must be perfectly well aware that there are many subjects which 547 have been postponed for discussion upon this Bill, some of them even at the request of the Government. Now we find that in order to carry this Bill through in a hurry, we are to sit down to the Appropriation Bill after midnight. That I object to, and I say that unless the Government will give us a promise not to proceed with the Appropriation Bill at this unusual and utterly unreasonable hour—for let me remind the Committee that it is in violation of all previous practice of the House not to take the Appropriation Bill as the first Order—we must Divide on this Motion. It is one of the most important Bills of the Session, and yet we have had all the earlier part of the Sitting wasted upon a discussion of another Bill, and are expected to take up the Appropriation Bill at midnight.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
We cannot consent to postpone the Appropriation Bill. I would call attention to the phrase used by the hon. and learned Gentleman. He observed that we had been wasting some hours of the Sitting. Now, I thought we were engaged, with his kind assistance, in the endeavour to pass an important Bill, not in wasting time. The hon. and learned Member says there are a great number of questions to be raised. I know there are some hon. Gentlemen who have questions to raise, and yet who are so anxious that this Technical Education Bill should pass that they have agreed to defer their observations on the Third Reading of the Appropriation Bill, in order to assist the progress of this Bill, and those are Members who are not the special allies of the Government, but are occasionally in sharp opposition to us. The opposition to this Bill comes from some 21 Members of the House, against the wishes of what I call the great majority. We are in a majority of four to one. That has been shown on Divisions, and we should have a much larger majority if the House were at its full strength. Undoubtedly it is but a limited number of persons who have set themselves against the desire of the country to see a Technical Education Bill passed.
§ MR. M'LAREN
I may mention that even if the Motion to report Progress is carried, the House will not necessarily proceed at once to the Appropriation Bill. The Report stage of the Notification of Diseases Bill 548 comes next, and upon that, I, and some of my hon. Friends, desire to have a discussion in the event of Progress being reported upon this Bill in time to-allow of such before midnight. If, however, the Government will keep this Bill going till nearly 12, I am quite willing to withdraw my Amendments to the Notification Bill, because I do not wish to delay this Bill, and, therefore, I will undertake not to stop the progress of the Notification of Diseases Bill.
§ MR. HALLEY STEWART
The hon. Member supplies reason for reporting Progress now, for he says he is anxious to have a discussion upon the Notification of Diseases Bill. He is willing, however, that the House shall lose the benefit of his observations in the en deavour to rush through a couple of Bills for which we are not prepared. Surely, seeing the opinions that have been expressed, the majority will not insist upon going on with this Bill now. The minority are surely entitled to so much consideration.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 21; Noes 92.—(Div. List, No. 346.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. PICTON
The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman is precisely the same as one of which I have given notice, but it is proposed with a different intention. I should have been glad if the right hon. Gentleman had given us some explanation of the object with which his Amendment is proposed. It will be observed that the right hon. Gentleman proposes to insert the same words in line 11. I propose to leave them out altogether, and, therefore, I scarcely know how to vote. If I vote with the right hon. Gentleman I shall appear to agree with him, but I hardly know what his intention is. My idea is that if this pernicious Bill—[Cries of "Divide!"] If hon. Gentlemen press on a Bill of this kind at the very end of the Session it is scarcely fair that they should refuse to hear Amendments discussed. This Amendment is an important one, and I want to know what it means. The idea I had was to relieve the Local Authority of any superintendence of elementary schools what over, and to confine their attention to Science and Art Classes, or Science Schools which 549 are attended by children of a higher age than those who attend elementary schools.
§ SIR W. HART DYKE
It is true I propose to insert the words lower down. I was informed there was a strong objection to the clause as it stood. It was urged, for instance, that scholars who are actually in the elementary schools might receive this instruction elsewhere. To meet that objection I gave notice of a transposition of the words.
§ MR. CONWAY
Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the effect of the transposition of the words? By obligatory subjects we mean reading, writing, and arithmetic. After passing Standard IV. a boy is by law exempt from attendance at school. It is only when a boy does not pass Standard IV. that he is retained at school. Boys may be tempted to attend the technical schools, and thus the higher standards of the elementary schools may be denuded of scholars.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ MR. PICTON
I now move the insertion of the words "under the age of 13 years," after the word "scholars" in line 11. My object is to prevent young people over 13 years of age being deprived of the opportunity of technical instruction simply on the ground that they are still receiving instruction in the obligatory or standard subjects. Up to 13 years, no doubt, the rule may be a very good one. It is possible young people may be attending evening schools, and receiving instruction in obligatory or standard subjects. It would be hard to prohibit them receiving technical instruction on that ground.
§ Amendment proposed, Clause 1, page 1, line 11, after "scholars" insert "under the age of 13 years."—(Mr. Picton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. DIXON
I hope the Committee will not accept this Amendment, because as a matter of fact, many children pass the six standards before the age of 13. The children who do this would be compelled to remain at elementary schools perhaps for half a year longer than necessary before passing to the technical schools.
§ MR. PICTON
The hon. Gentleman evidently misunderstands the bearing of my Amendment, or else I am wholly at sea. The sub-section says that—The local authority shall not out of the local rate supply, or aid the supply of technical or manual instruction at an elementary school, to scholars receiving instruction in the obligatory or standard subjects.We want to say they may supply technical instruction to scholars receiving instruction in the obligatory and standard subjects, provided the scholars are over 13 years of age. Surely the hon. Member would not object to that.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I understand the objection was that the sub-section would draw children from the elementary schools to the technical schools. It seems to me the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman will meet the objection. I hope my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment.
§ MR. H. J. WILSON
I was in hope the hon. Member for the Edgbaston Division would rise again and say how far the explanation of my hon. Friend (Mr. Picton) met the point he put. I think we shall find we are putting a barrier against children attending elementary schools, which will not apply to children attending private venture schools, however well children, commonly attending elementary schools, may be able to attend these classes, they are to be prevented while others are allowed, and a class distinction is set up, to the prejudice of the poor.
§ SIR W. HART DYKE
I am afraid I cannot accept this or any Amendment which will tend to restrict the operation of the Bill.
§ MR. CONWAY
May I point out that the right hon. Gentleman can insert a clause by which children attending evening schools may attend these classes. It will be very unfair if children have to be withdrawn from the higher standards in order to receive technical instruction.
§ MR. PICTON
After the expression of opinion which has come from the House, I will not delay the Committee by a Division.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 11, after the word "instruction," to insert the words "at an elementary school."—(Sir Willam Hart Dyke.)551
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. H. J. WILSON
I should like to have it made clear whether the children of public elementary schools would not be placed at a disadvantage by this Amendment as it is worded.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 87; Noes 18.—(Div. List, No. 347.)
§ MR. CHANNING
I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name, which I understand the right Gentleman accepts. I wish to know whether I rightly understand him to say he accepts the other conscience clause standing in the name of my hon. Friend (Mr. Woodhead).
Amendment proposed, Clause 1, page 1, line 13, after the words "in force," to insert—
(b.) It shall not be required, as a condition of any scholar being admitted into or continuing in any school aided out of the local rate under this Act that he shall attend at or abstain from attending any Sunday school or any place of religious worship, or that he shall attend any religious observance, or any instruction in religious subjects in the school or elsewhere."—(Mr. Channing.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
I think the clause needs a slight alteration before it can be agreed to, and I beg to move to insert after the word "Act," the words, "and receiving technical or manual instruction under this Act."
§ Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, after "Act," to insert, "and receiving technical or manual instruction under this Act."—(Mr. Tomlin-son.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be inserted in the proposed Amendment."
§ MR. PICTON
The hon. Member has not clearly explained why these words are necessary. To me they seem to detract rather from the value of the Amendment which the Government have intimated their willingness to accept.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
The clause is only intended to apply to children 552 receiving technical or manual instruction, and therefore it is necessary to add these words.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
If I might be allowed to explain why I think it would be an advantage to accept this Amendment, it is that it would secure that no scholar who is being aided by public money from the rates should be forced to attend any particular observance. A school might have a technical side to it and yet not be assisted by public money, and clearly there ought to be some kind of Conscience Clause, similar to that contained in the Act of 1870.
§ MR. WOODALL
I hope that the Government will oppose the Amendment. It is clear to us that children receiving education in rate aided schools ought not to be compelled to receive any particular religious instruction.
§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
May I point out that all elementary schools are aided by Government.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
But the schools to which this particular Amendment refers are not elementary schools.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
Under the circumstances I will not press my Amendment at the present moment, but I will put it down for the Report stage.
§ Amendment to Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to
§ MR. WOODHEAD
I understand that the Government are willing, with some slight alteration, to accept the Amendment which stands in my name, and I will therefore propose it without further preface.
Amendment proposed, in Clause 1, page 1, line 13, to insert—
No religious catechism or religious formulary which is distinctive of any particular denomination shall be taught at any school aided out of the local rate for the purposes of technical or manual instruction under this Act, and the times for prayer or religious worship, or for any lesson or series of lessons on a religious subject, shall be conveniently arranged for the purpose of allowing the withdrawal of a scholar therefrom."—(Mr. Woodhead.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
The Government are not prepared to accept the Amendment, and I think hon. Members ought to be satisfied with the conscience clause already accepted. The 553 words in this Amendment, to my mind, are too strong.
§ MR. CHANNING
I think the right hon. Gentleman has overlooked the fact that this clause was originally placed on the Paper by the hon. Member for Merionethshire, and that it is taken with such modifications as were necessary from the Welsh Education Act passed this Session by the House with the assent of the Government.
§ MR. PICTON
I think this Amendment is a reasonable one, and I am disappointed that the Government should decline to accept it. By so doing you are making it possible to apply local rates to denominational religious teaching. It is practically a restoration of the obnoxious 25th clause of the Education Act of 1870.
§ MR. WOODHEAD
I certainly was given to understand in the earlier part of the evening that the Vice President of the Council would accept the clause in the amended form in which I have proposed it; and, therefore, in submitting it to the Committee just now, I gave no reasons whatever in support of it. I now feel it my duty to make a few observations in regard to it. We were told in the earlier part of the evening that the Government were determined, in order that this Bill might have a chance of passing, to avoid delicate and difficult questions. Now this is a difficult question, yet they propose to resist the Amendment. I have no option but to press it, and I certainly shall take a Division unless the Government accept it. It is important that we should not have sectarian or denominational teaching in connection with technical instruction.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I hope that the Government will see their way to make this concession, because it will go far to prevent opposition to other parts of the Bill. I think some hon. Gentlemen have misconceived the extent to which the Amendment goes. As I understand it, it means that we will not allow children attending these technical schools to be compelled to receive any special distinctive religious instruction which may be given to the ordinary scholars. It is practically a conscience clause, and it does not go beyond that. As one of those who have supported the Bill throughout, I do urge upon the Government that a little reasonable concession on their part would do much to 554 secure its rapid progress through this House; because if this opposition is persisted in, I am afraid it will lead to the destruction of the Bill.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
May I point out that the Amendment is so worded that no technical instruction can be given in a building in which denominational instruction has been given some days before, as for instance, on Sundays? Surely that is most unreasonable.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
It appears to me hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House are at one in their desire to attain the object which the proposer of this Amendment says he desires to secure. Hon. Members are anxious to have these technical classes established, but there is a desire in some quarters to have this reservation with regard to religious instruction. The clause, however, is not satisfactorily framed in this respect, and if hon. Members will allow me to frame one before the Report stage is reached, I think it may be possible to remove the fears entertained by hon. Gentlemen.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
I think there is a feeling on the part of some hon. Members that this Bill only applies to higher elementary schools; but, of course, it applies to an enormous number of secondary schools which might be under the management of particular denominations, and the adoption of this Amendment would prevent such schools receiving aid from the rates. I would far rather that the Bill should be entirely dropped than that such a clause as this should be carried.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I think it would be possible to meet the objections of hon. Members by making the clause read that no religious catechism or religious formulary which is distinctive of any particular denomination shall be taught to a scholar specially attending at any school aided out of the local rate, &c.
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
The new Sub-section had better read thus:—(b.) "No religious catechism or religious formulary, which is distinctive of any particular denomination, shall be taught at any school aided out of the local rate to a scholar attending only for the purposes of technical or manual instruction under this Act, and the times for prayer on religious worship, or for any lesson or series of lessons on a religious subject, shall be conveniently arranged for the purpose of allowing the withdrawal of such scholar there from.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ SIR W. Hart Dyke's Amendment put, and agreed to.
§ MR. MATHER
I am happy to have an opportunity even at this late hour of placing my Amendment before the House. Fortunately, it is accepted not only by hon Members on this side of the House, but also by the Government. The main object of the Amendment is to make the Bill an effective means of developing to a much greater extent the kind of education which is given in the Science and Art Department, and which has taken deep root in many parts of the country, but which in some places languishes for want of local support. The Bill as it stood seemed to impart to the Local Authority an educational power which appeared to be undesirable, therefore the School Board has been brought to the front in the Amendment. It is provided that the Local Authority shall grant the School Board any aid which, in its opinion, and in the opinion of the Science and Art Department at South Kensington, is necessary to extend the work already being done by the Board in the direction of secondary education. Further, in regard to schools started under the management of private gentlemen, they will also be able to claim from the Local Authority assistance in carrying out their work. With regard to other questions that may arise, the Committee will find that I provide that the Science and Art Department shall be a sort of Court of Appeal for the removal of any difficulties, and I think it will be seen from the nature of my Amendment, and I am led to suppose this from the cordial spirit in -which it has been accepted, that it contains a solvent for most of the points that have been raised in the course of this Debate. I trust that, without any further recommendation from me, the Committee will be disposed to accept my Amendment.
Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 14, after Sub-section (a), to insert the following Sub-sections:—
(b.) A local authority may, on the request of the school hoard for its district, or any part of its district, or of any other managers of a school or institution within its district for the
time being in receipt of aid from the Department of Science and Art, make, out of any local rate raised in pursuance of this Act, to such extent as may be reasonably sufficient having regard to the requirements of the district, but subject to the conditions and restrictions contained in the last foregoing sub-section, provision in aid of the technical and manual instruction for the time being supplied in schools or institutions within its district, and shall disribute the provision so made in proportion to the nature and amount of efficient technical or manual instruction supplied by those schools or institutions respectively;
(c.) Where such other managers of a school or institution receive aid from a local authority in pursuance of this section, the local authority shall, for the purposes of this Act, be represented on the governing body of the school or institution in such proportion as will, as nearly as may be, correspond to the amount of aid given.
(d.) If any question arises as to the sufficiency of the provision made under this section, or as to the qualification of any school or institution to participate in any such provision, or as to the amount to be allotted to each school or institution, or as to the extent to which, or mode in which, the local authority is to be represented on the governing body of any such school or institution, the question shall be determined by the Department of Science and Art."—(Mr. Mather.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. H. J. WILSON
I should like to ask my hon. Friend for some explanation why he has altered in his Amendment the word "shall" to "may?" It seems to me that this alteration introduces a certain amount of ambiguity; perhaps he can tell us the exact bearings of this alteration. I confess I should prefer to have the word "shall" made to apply to School Boards, and let "may" apply to other managers.
§ MR. MATHER
This arises out of the fact that I received a communication from the Mayor of Manchester, my native city, in which he represented that the compulsory power contained in the Amendment was exceedingly objectionable to the authorities of that city, and to the Local Authorities in great towns generally. I know there is a great desire among these authorities to carry out an efficient system of technical education, and so I thought it would be sufficient to leave it to their discretion when the School Board should come to them rather than to make it compulsory by Act of Parliament. It was also represented to me by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that my Amendment would be more likely to 557 find acceptance in the permissive than in the compulsory form.
§ MR. CHANNING
This explanation only shows how necessary it is that we should be certain about what we are doing. However pleasing this alteration may be to the Town Council of Manchester, it lessens the power of the School Board, and I think absolutely deprives the clause of a great part of its value. Not only is the School Board to be deprived of any initiative in the matter, but it is to be deprived of any security that for the discharge of its important duty it shall have aid from the Local Authorities. Those Local Authorities may be, and often are, hostile to the work; I can speak with some experience, for I have served on School Boards and on Local Authorities, and I have not the slightest doubt that in some cases the Local Authorities will discourage the School Board as much as they possibly can. I hope, therefore, that the word "shall" will be restored even at the risk of incurring the displeasure of the Mayor of Manchester.
§ MR. HALLEY STEWART
I think if we accept the suggestion that the word "shall" shall be replaced by the word "may" in the first part of the clause, the word "may" should be inserted later with reference to private schools.
§ SIR H. ROSCOE
In answer to what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Northhamptonshire, I may be allowed to say that the Manchester Corporation are perfectly willing to fulfil all the requirements of the clause as it stands, and so, I have no doubt, are most of the other large towns, even under the retention of the word "may."
§ MR. E. HARRINGTON (Kerry, W.)
I desire to call the hon. Gentleman's attention to the words in which he refers to "the foregoing section." That foregoing section has been deleted.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
My right hon. Friend will put that right on Report if necessary. I would now ask the Committee to come to a conclusion with respect to the words "may" and "shall." We must report Progress in a few minutes in order to take the Notification of Diseases Bill. I hope, therefore, the Committee will come to a decision at once.
§ MR. WOODALL
Then I beg to move an Amendment to the Amendment by substituting the word "shall" for "may" in the first line.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 1 of the proposed Amendment, to leave out the word "may," and insert the word "shall."—(Mr. Woodall.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'may' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ MR. G. DIXON
If "shall" is substituted, then, I think, in the following line an alteration will be necessary, and that the words "may on the request" should be inserted after "or."
§ MR. PICTON
In any district you will have put into the power of the managers of any small ill-furnished sectarian school to come to the Board of Guardians or Local Board and require to be furnished with funds that the authority may be incapable of giving. I think it is out of all reason to subordinate the Local Authorities to such a condition as that; it will be necessary to make an alteration as regards such cases as this, and to leave in the word "may." The School Board ought to have power to insist; but it is an outrage upon the taxpayers that they should be absolutely subject to the demands of private schools for funds for technical instruction.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
That is absolutely impossible; we cannot allow any difference to be made as between the joint sources for the supply of education which should continue to be carried out upon an equality.
We are now obliged to report Progress. We have to proceed with other business. We shall put the Bill down for to-morrow, after the Committee on Indian Accounts.
§ Amendment to proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. H. J. WILSON
I should like to be allowed to make a personal explanation, and to correct a statement that I made earlier in the evening. I stated that I had been 559 told by an officer of the National Union of Teachers that that Body had expressed approval of the Amendment of the Member for Northamptonshire. But I have since been informed by Mr. Heller that I misunderstood what was said. It is only fair that I should explain this, and that my statement should have been that the officers of the National Union of Teachers are in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Mather) now before us.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
There may be some formal business preceding it, but substantially it will be the first Order.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
There is scarcely time for us to carry out our agreement to proceed with two other Bills before 12. I regret extremely that it should be so.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.