§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [31st March], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.602
§ (5.50.) MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars, &c.)
I consider that the answers given by the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General the other night in regard to the objections raised to this Bill were altogether meagre and inadequate. Therefore, I trust that they will this evening be properly dealt with. The only justification which the Government could put forward as sufficient for their own proposals was, that if the Scottish people had had a full opportunity to consider the measure and had made up their minds on the subject, this Bill represented their mature opinion. But Scotland has had no opportunity of considering it nor of coming to a final conclusion. It has been stated in this Debate that there had been a demand from Scotland for this money, and the Lord Advocate said he had weighed carefully the reasons placed before him by the Public Bodies in reference to the allocation of the money; but these statements come too late. There was no demand whatever from Scotland for any assistance to the local revenues from the Imperial Treasury. Not a suggestion has been made of this kind from Scotland, and these reasons which the Lord Advocate speaks of having carefully weighed were put forward by different bodies who already knew that they were to share in the money, and their only object was to obtain as large a share as possible. Of course, when £265,000 has to be given away claimants are numerous, and therefore Parochial Boards, Town Councils and County Councils, University reformers, and Secondary Education advocates have all put forward their demands, and I have observed that no inconsiderable part of the money asked for by the advocates of increased secondary education will be required for a pension scheme which has been proposed. The Solicitor General also told us that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had received many deputations asking for this money, but here again these deputations were never heard of until it was decided to assist local objects from the Imperial Treasury. It is a repetition of the case of three years ago when the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to set aside a large sum from the Treasury for turnpike roads. Not a word had 603 come from Scotland asking for this money until the proposal was made. Not even by those who would have benefited had any demand been made upon the Treasury for such assistance. Further than this, so far as I can judge of the feeling of the only public meeting held in Glasgow, the public there do not want the money applied as it is proposed to do in the Bill. At this meeting they considered the first demand on the money should be to free from fees the remaining schools in Scotland in which fees are still collected, and that a further sum should be used to supply school books to certain pupils under certain circumstances, and that the balance should be handed to the Councils with, in effect, a free hand as to dealing with it. The scheme has been attacked from this side of the House on many different grounds, and no adequate defence has been made to these attacks, nor has there even been any reasonable explanations given. An absolutely strong case has been made out that it is inequitable to relieve local rates, which are largely landlords' liabilities, from Imperial taxation, which is to some extent collected by duties on food and other articles chiefly used by the working classes; property being, therefore, under these circumstances, to be relieved at the expense of the poorer classes. Another omission has been the absence of any scheme dealing with secondary education. There are something like £200,000 per annum available in Scotland at the present time for this purpose, and we were clearly entitled to a complete statement respecting this amount, the particulars of which could not be so well collected by any private person as they could by the Government. We are told that the £60,000 to be given under this Bill for secondary education will be distributed by the Scottish Education Department according to a plan which will be laid on the Table of this House. But when will such plans come up for consideration? After 12 o'clock at night in a tired House when every Member is anxious to get away. There never has been an adequate discussion of any question of this kind which came up so late. The only satisfactory statement made was that a portion of the money will be 604 applied to evening continuation schools. Even the friends of this measure have criticised it adversely. The hon. Member for South Lanark (Mr. Hozier) has said that the Councils and other Bodies who are to receive the money approve of the scheme, but what could you expect from them but approval? Is there the smallest likelihood that those to whom the money was to be paid would object to taking it? The hon. Member for Partick (Mr. Parker Smith) says that the allocation is one which he would not have made if he had had the disposing of the funds. This is a finance Bill and is far more the work of the Chancellor of the Exchequer than of the Lord Advocate, but not one word of defence or explanation has been offered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in reply to the objections that have been made to it. From what he has said on previous occasions we however gather that he believes in the principle that local improvements should not be altogether met by local assessments but should be assisted from the Imperial revenue. This principle is bad and would be repudiated by most financiers. Why should a person be taxed on food in London to assist the carrying out of a public improvement in Glasgow, or the other way about? Why should money raised by Imperial taxation in Scotland be applied to local works in London? The principle is a wrong one and all local wants and local improvements should be met entirely from local sources. I would also draw attention to the gross unfairness of the way in which the money is to be divided. The counties will get very nearly half of the whole amount, although the burghs represent about £12,250,000 out of the £15,500,000 which is the rateable value of Scotland. If the money was divided as it ought to be, the burghs should receive three-quarters of the whole amount instead of only half, and the counties should receive a fourth instead of the half. There is no doubt that the scheme is inadequate and that the rates are unfairly divided between the burghs and the counties. Another objection to this Bill is that it makes the settlement of the money permanent and disables the House from hereafter altering the 605 destination of the money without the consent of the House of Lords. Municipal and County Councils should have a free hand in disposing and applying money. I think the first charge on this sum should have been the freeing of those Board Schools in which fees are still collected. Altogether the Bill is unsatisfactory and I shall vote against the Second Reading; but if any hon. Member will propose a Resolution to the effect that for this year the money should be voted in the Civil Service Estimate, in order that further time may be given to the consideration of the question, I shall support the Amendment.
§ (6.5.) SIR G. TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Sir, everyone must feel that the Government will have very great difficulty in passing this Bill through Committee in its present shape. The objections of the Scotch Members are not whimsical or factious, but spring from a real knowledge of Scotch needs, and the very great interest they feel in them. I venture to think I see the root of this difficulty and how it can be met. There are many Members who see it, but who have not put it in definite shape. In the first place, some Members wish to have a great scheme of secondary education for Scotland. Other Members want to spend this money in the relief of rates. Most of the Members, perhaps all the Members, who want a great scheme of secondary education will vote against the Bill, and the Members who, like myself, think that the money is due to the ratepayers will for the most part vote for it; but with earnest representations to the Government that they should give careful consideration to what has passed in Debate, and that they should so alter the Bill as eventually to secure its being accepted with something like unanimity by the Scotch Members. I want to defend my position against those who sit behind and around me that this money is due to the localities in the same proportion as they pay rates. Have hon. Gentlemen considered this, that the Scotch ratepayer in his character of taxpayer contributes his share of the two millions of Probate Duty would goes to pay English ratepayers rates? Therefore, unless he gets his share of the Probate Duty as 606 a ratepayer he will first pay the Englishmen's rate and then his own, so that there will be a distinctly and undeniably differential tax upon the Scotch ratepayer. My hon. Friend the Member for South Aberdeen said the demands for relief of rates come from England and not from Scotland. I do not see anything in that argument, because, wherever the demands come from, the money which goes to satisfy those demands comes just as much from Scotland as from England. And when my hon. Friend in a beautiful figure said that the tempter held out gold, it is his own gold, gold which he himself contributed, and of which he ought to have the benefit. I have done with the controversial part of my speech. There is only one fair and just way of dealing with this money, and that is to give the whole of it to the people in the various localities to do with it exactly what they wish, and it is because this Bill establishes that in principle more than the proposals put forward on this side, and especially that this Bill can be easily altered to carry that out in practice, that I shall vote for the Second Reading; but I earnestly hope that after the Debate the Government will see their way to alter it. Now, Sir, it is proposed to give some £60,000 for the purpose of secondary education. That is either too much or it is too little. It is too much for those localities which do not wish to spend any of this money on secondary education. It is most unjust to cut out a lump sum of £60,000 for secondary education, and to cut out a lump sum of £30,000 for the Universities out of the money which a community like Glasgow themselves thought should be altogether given in relief of rates. And here, Sir, I wish to put in a protest most distinctly against what I regard is the most demoralising and the most unstatesmanlike proceeding of allotting a certain fixed sum of money to a locality and saying to that locality it must spend that money on one special purpose or not at all. That leads to bad administration, and it leads to extravagance. But, Sir, I say that this money is far too little from the point of view of those who want to have a system of 607 secondary education established which will be worthy of Scotland. I have gone into this question very carefully and although I will not go into details now, I should like to ask the House to take the case of Aberdeenshire which has been so well represented in this Debate. Under this Bill Aberdeenshire will get £3,300 for secondary education. What is that for a community of 300,000 persons and something like 90 School Boards. My right hon. Friend opposite me the Member for Berwickshire, informs me that in the county which he represents the endowments for secondary education do not amount to £100, and what a farce it is to offer Berwickshire £700 or £800 a year to set up a system of secondary education. The thing is in fact a mere sop; it is not a scheme. I have no doubt the original intention of the Government was to give the whole of the money to the rates; then they thought, and I do not blame them, they would be paying due respect to the general wishes of the Scotch Members in giving something to secondary education. I think, Sir, the sum is insufficient, but I protest against giving it to communities for secondary education when they do not desire it for that purpose at all. What should be done is to let Aberdeenshire have its £17,000 or £18,000 to spend either on secondary education or anything else that Aberdeenshire likes; to let Berwickshire have its £3,000 to spend on secondary education or anything that Berwickshire like. Now, Sir, I earnestly urge the Government to consider whether they would not be actually saving time if they brought in such a Bill for Scotland as was passed for Wales in the course of two or three Sittings. In the Welsh Act the County Council is authoritative, it gets all of the money, it appoints the Education Committee, and nobody is taxed for secondary education unless with the authority of the County Council. Counties can join in bringing forward a scheme, and the endowments of the county instead of being dealt with by a body of gentlemen at a distance are dealt with by the locality itself and afterwards submitted to the Charity Commissioners. Now, Sir, look at the advantages of that scheme; firstly, it 608 is left to the County Council to say whether they will spend this money: secondly, let the House consider the advantage that arises in the matter of endowments. Nothing works worse than the turning over of whole endowments in Scotland to secondary education, because these schemes are made in Scotland by a body of gentlemen living outside the localities concerned. When the schemes are presented to Parliament, the objections to them are noted down by gentlemen who probably were never within a hundred miles of the place to which they refer. Now, Sir, if the House passed a Bill like the Welsh Bill, the locality itself would deal with these endowments, and any scheme that they might propose would have attached to it all the weight and authority of local public opinion. This would be very valuable in Glasgow and Edinburgh, which do not want to spend this money on secondary education. In Glasgow they have enormous endowments already. Glasgow and Edinburgh would be very glad to have this power, naturally they each like to be mistress in their own household, and they ought to be so. They ought to be able to spend their money on exactly what they know to be in harmony with local wants. That being so, the Government should meet, what I do believe, after having carefully listened to the Debate, to be the wish of the Scotch Members, by putting, at least, £60,000 and the £30,000 from the Universities into Sub-section 5, and then enlarging the two last objects to which the money might be applied from merely local rates to secondary education, and to every object to which this windfall, as some hon. Members have been pleased to describe it, can be applied. Now, Sir, several hon. Members, and notably the Member for North Aberdeen suggested several of these purposes, among them parks, halls, art galleries, and public libraries, wash-houses, and so on. Now, Glasgow does all this already, and when you apply the money in relief of public rates you do apply it to these purposes. Besides, there are the public baths and wash-houses, which are greatly appreciated and much used: most admirable establishments for laundry purposes, 609 where, at a charge of 2d. per day a poor woman can wash her linen in a laundry that, with all the requisites and accessories, would, if belonging to a country house, would cost some £200 or £300 to provide. The gas and water are in the hands of the community, whilst the poorest of the poor have the immense advantage of having the passages leading to their homes lighted with gas free, and can get an abundance of excellent water in public places. You may call this socialism. If socialism means working for the good of society I do not object to the name. You may call it communism. If communism means spending money for the common welfare, then it is a most desirable thing. Glasgow and the other great cities in Scotland, by using so well the money they have already got, have shown the House that they will use well any money they will get under this Bill, and if you want to secure that that money is well spent you can only do it by accepting the great principle of letting people settle for themselves what their local wants are, and giving them absolute command over their own resources.
MR. PHILIPPS (Lanark, Mid)
I have not heard anyone in this Debate attempt to answer the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for North Aberdeen, who showed to demonstration that indirect taxation comes very largely from the pockets of the poor, while taxation is paid by the rich. By this Bill the Government propose to take money obtained by the taxation of the poor and spend it in benefitting the rich. Now, Sir, no one Member of the House has attempted to answer, as I said, the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for North Aberdeen, and I think on the whole it was wise, because the speech of the hon. Member was unanswerable. The Solicitor General for Scotland did attempt to deal with it in one small way. It was said by the hon. Member for North Aberdeen that a number of small ratepayers would under the Government scheme only get something like a few pence—something under 1s., and the Solicitor General said he objected to treat the question of the relief of rates in that way, protesting that you cannot measure benefits of that kind by 610 pounds, shillings and pence. But, Sir, whatever benefit a man may receive in the remission of rates, surely he is entitled to measure it as a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence, and in no other way. Hon. Members opposite who spoke in favour of the Bill, say they believe the Bill to be a popular one, and if we are to judge by the circulars received from the Local Boards and Local Authorities, it seems to be very popular indeed. But, I am sure, Parochial Boards do not represent my own constituency in this matter. It is only natural that Parochial Boards should like to spend money which they do not raise by taxation; but look at the extravagance which is sure to occur if we introduce this principle of giving Public Bodies money to spend which they do not raise by taxation. Unless there is a check there is sure to be extravagance and waste. Hon. Members opposite have expressed their gratification that they are on the popular side in this matter. The Member for South Lanarkshire and the Member for the Stewartry perfectly enjoyed the prospect of at last having got hold of a popular question; but, Sir, I am not by any means sure that their view is the popular view. It may be popular with those who do not understand that they are taxed on their whiskey, and their tobacco, and their tea, to get back these few pence on their local rates. I should like the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lanarkshire, when explaining this Bill to his constituents, to make a quotation from the speech of the Minister of Agriculture last year on the taxation of land. Here is what the Minister of Agriculture said—The occupier pays a certain sum for the use of the land, and in that sum are included the rates as well as the taxes. If the rates are high he gets less rent, and if they are low he gets more rent, and I maintain it would not be difficult to show that ultimately the whole of the rates fall on the landowner and on nobody else.Sir, in view of that quotation it is established that the Conservative Leaders admit that the relief of rates benefits nobody at all except the landlords. But, Sir, the Minister of Agriculture went on to say—I maintain if there is any question of altering the taxation of land, we claim with full justice, and can produce arguments 611 making good our claim, that we are entitled to a decrease rather than an increase of the taxation on land.Sir, that speech was made last year, and the Government are now trying indirectly to reduce the taxation on land. If money raised by taxation is given to the relief of the rates, indirectly the taxes upon land are reduced. I have no desire to speak for anybody except my own constituents, but I should say that if there is any one thing on which the great majority of Scotchmen are united it is this—that the taxation of land ought to be made heavier than it is at present. That is the view taken by a very large section of the Scotch public, if not by a very great majority; and yet the Government by this Bill are indirectly relieving the burdens on land and taking taxes off the land. The Solicitor General twitted us the other night with not trusting the Local Bodies in which we professed to believe. But, Sir, everybody on this side has said the money should be given to the Local Bodies, to the Town Councils, and to the County Council to be dealt with according to their discretion, and it is the Government and not those sitting on this side of the House who are either afraid or unwilling to trust the Local Bodies. Now, various uses have been suggested for this money that is dedicated to the relief of rates. There are, for example, free libraries, parks, recreation grounds, where they are required, and in my own constituency I would suggest another object—namely, the establishment of free hospitals for accidents, a most deserving public object to which the public might most justly contribute. Most of all I would have liked to have seen some portion of this money devoted to starting a scheme of national pensions. We are nearly all opposed to this Bill for paying over the money towards the relief of local rates, and I do wish the Government would even now accept our proposals, and would give this money to the Town Councils, and to the County Councils to be dealt with by them according to their discretion.
§ * MR. C. S. PARKER (Perth)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, at the beginning of his speech, complained that no answer had been made 612 to the speech of the hon. Member for North Aberdeen. I confess, for my own part, I have regretted that throughout this Debate there has never been present the one person from whom that answer should have come—namely, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This Bill raises two questions on the Second Reading, one a question of finance and the other a question of education. I think it very important that the House should understand from others, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not here to say it for himself, what is the plain and unmistakable financial policy of this Bill. I take it that it rests upon this assumption, that the Imperial taxation of this country is, upon the whole, fairly distributed between the rich and the poor. If it is not so fairly distributed, certainly the fault lies as much upon this side of the House as upon that, because every year we have revised the taxation of the country, and always, in my recollection, in favour of the poor. But with that you have to combine the fact that local taxation falls exclusively upon land and houses, and that on the other hand the benefits of it do not accrue exclusively to the owners of land and houses, but to a certain extent to the general population. The policy of this Bill is to take money coming from taxes supposed to be fairly divided between the rich and the poor, and to apply that money so that the part of the community who pay nothing or next to nothing in rates shall as taxpayers contribute for local purposes from which they benefit. And when we remember that in England, Wales, and Ireland, money from the taxation to which Scotland contributes has been already so applied it is tolerably obvious why the money should be applied on a similar principle under this Bill. Scotland must have its share; the only question is in what form will Scotland take its share? Three years ago the position was much the same. Scotland was then about to receive her share of the grants in aid of local taxation, but the feeling throughout Scotland was so unanimous in favour of free education that both sides of the House agreed that the money, instead of being applied for relief of the rates 613 exclusively, should be applied for free education. If that was a right thing to do three years ago, may it not be a right thing now to meet the general wish of the people of Scotland by granting aid to higher education? Now I wish to add my appeal to the Government that they would consider in Committee on this Bill the giving of liberty to Local Bodies to apply this money at their own discretion. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Stirling Burghs intimated that if the Government saw their way to meet us on this point it might in some degree mitigate the objections to the Bill. And, in reply, the Solicitor General for Scotland I understood to say, without absolutely committing the Government—The Government were very anxious to meet the wishes of Public Bodies, and, therefore, they would gladly consider any proposition which reached them from those Public Bodies for allowing a certain measure of elasticity in dealing with the money which was to be applied so the reduction of the rates.Secondary education, as defined in this Bill, might be another object besides technical education, and it might be a subject for consideration in Committee whether we should not include still further objects. Perhaps I might be allowed to say a few words on the subject of secondary education. For my part I congratulate the Government and Scotland generally on the fact that this Bill is at least one step in advance. It is true that the money under the Bill is quite inadequate for a general scheme of technical education; and it is left rather vaguely to an executive department to manage. But the Bill marks a step of progress which is of special interest to me, because I happen to be a Member of a Committee charged by the Government with an inquiry into secondary education. We had an opportunity two or three years ago of hearing exactly what was wanted by those most interested. We took a great deal of evidence, and ventured to make certain recommendations, and of these perhaps the boldest was that there should be Government grants for secondary education. In this Bill it is distinctly laid down that there should be Government grants for secondary education. 614 Also the one definite proposal in the Bill with reference to the expenditure of these grants is connected with another recommendation of the Committee—namely, that there should be Government examination of these secondary schools, and leaving certificates to certify the progress of these schools.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
Would the hon. Member allow me to point out that leaving certificates are limited to a very few schools.
§ * MR. C. S. PARKER
The question of extending leaving certificates to other schools is of course a definite question which I should be very glad to consider. The mode in which the Government propose to apply this new grant of £60,000 is very simple, it is by capitation grant to all schools which are willing so to make their arrangements that the average fee shall not exceed three pounds per head. But the Government evidently propose to retain, to a great extent, the fees at present payable, and which may be considered market prices as between the parents and the schools. And that leads to a difficulty more felt in this House than by those practically engaged in education, the difficulty referred to by the right hon. Member for the Stirling Burghs as to providing some free places. In the first place, I should like to know from the Government whether I am right in supposing that the free places they propose are such free places as were recommended by the Committee—namely, open to children educated in the ordinary schools, and who should be chosen according to their deserts. If that be so, I think it removes many objections that might arise if it were supposed that free places were to be given on the ground of poverty by Parochial Boards. The Lord Advocate mentioned the precedent of such schools as Eton and Winchester, where poor boys sit side by side with others who are paying full market price. But we need not look to England for precedents. Scotland has boys sitting side by side some of whom pay fees and others of whom do not. In old times it was the common practice for those who could afford it to pay fees, while others might attend school without paying fees at all. 615 And such is the practice in Edinburgh in the Merchant Company's schools and Fettes College, and in almost every large town in Scotland at the present time. I would appeal to hon. Members not to be dominated by an unpractical sentiment that it is against democratic equality that some children should be paying more and some less in the same school. If all the fees are high, the poor will be shut out; if all the fees are low, the funds of the school will be mischievously curtailed. I must express my satisfaction that secondary education is not to be recognised in secondary schools only, but also in rural schools throughout the country. But I see the Government do not propose to introduce it in every parish, and that they calculate on only 5,000 children in country schools. Nor have they said anything of secondary education in evening schools. In one thing it seems to me the Bill is most deficient—namely, organisation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton suggests how that might be met. But I am afraid his suggestion is not at the present time practical. He proposes that the whole money should be simply placed at the disposal of the County Councils and Parochial Boards, and that simultaneously there should be a Bill for Scotland on the lines of the Welsh Intermediate Education Bill. But what works the Act in Wales is the large Imperial subsidy, whereas in Scotland we should be dependent for funds on Local Bodies each in their own district. However, it might at least be an open question in Committee in what proporions the total sum is to go amongst these Bodies, and, further, the Bill might give County Councils and Parochial Boards a wide discretion, and especially powers to apply the money to technical and secondary education.
§ *(7.47.) MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)
The speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, and the operation of microscopic balancing which he has been performing, somewhat resembles that experiment of which you, Sir, were a witness on Saturday morning with regard to the metric standard. No doubt the operation was exceedingly interesting; but the uninitiated mind of the 616 ordinary Member will be totally unable to discover exactly what the hon. Member wants to be at, or which side he intends to support.
§ * MR. MARJORIBANKS
I am exceedingly glad to hear it, but I am not sure that any of my hon. Friends who sit around me would have arrived at that conclusion from the speech of the hon. Member. There has been considerable variance of opinion with regard to the attitude to be assumed as to this Bill. It has been said that Glasgow took a different view of this Bill to that taken by most of the Liberal Scotch Members of the House. We have recently had three speeches from Members for Glasgow, and I think a short examination of those speeches will show that the Government have little indeed to rely upon if they think they will get support in Committee from those hon. Members for Glasgow. There was the speech of the hon. Member for Blackfriars (Mr. Provand), who has not had his financial orthodoxy clouded by the savoury smell of the flesh pots of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has told us he would vote against the Bill, both on account of its principle and on account of its details. Then we had the hon. Member for the College Division (Dr. Cameron), who stated that he objected entirely to the principle of the Bill—that it was not a question of a principle being violated, but a question of how certain money was to be distributed. I think that was a very unfortunate position to take up, because I always understood the Second Reading of a Bill was the occasion on which you should take up the question of principle, and that, therefore, my hon. Friend would have been amply justified in voting against the Second Reading of the Bill.
The right hon. Gentleman is misrepresenting me. I said this was a question of taxation and not merely a question of distribution.
§ * MR. MARJORIBANKS
This Bill never would have appeared before this House if it had not been that a principle was violated, and the whole Bill hangs upon the violation of that prin- 617 ciple. Then the hon. Member for the College Division stated that he took exception to our criticism of the details of the Bill, because he said other Members talked a great deal about further aid to education in Scotland, but they in Glasgow did not want such aid because they had £800,000 of capital value of endowments in Glasgow. That, no doubt, is a very good argument so far as he is concerned; but I did not hear him follow that up by saying on the part of Glasgow that they repudiated their share of the £60,000. That would have been a very practical suggestion. But I should like to recall to the hon. Gentleman's mind the fact that in the year 1882, on the Educational Endowments Bill, he was one of a small majority of Members at whose instigation that Bill was considerably restricted, and who were the means of preventing the endowments attaching to certain districts in Scotland being made useful for Scotland generally; he took a parochial view of those endowments instead of a national view, and instead of doing something to make the endowments for education in Scotland available for the people of Scotland generally he did the reverse. I would call attention to a single Amendment in Clause 7 which was made, and which limited the scope of the section. The words were "to provide for higher education in Scotland," but the word "Scotland" was omitted, and the words "those localities to which the endowments separately belong" were inserted instead. Therefore, the scope of the Bill was much limited. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton took up a position diametrically opposed to that of the hon. Member for the College Division, because, while condemning all the details of the Bill, he was absolutely the first Member who has spoken during these Debates who ventured to defend the relief of the ratepayer at the expense of the general taxpayer. He looked upon the ratepayer and the taxpayer as the same person, and said, "You are only taking gold out of the pocket of the taxpayer in order to give it to the ratepayer, therefore that is perfectly fair and honest." But that is exactly what we say is not a fair proceeding, and we find fault with this 618 Bill on account of it. We say you have no right to go to the taxpayer, who pays a certain proportion, and hand it over to a totally different body—namely, the ratepayers, from whom the money is levied in different proportions for different purposes. It is perfectly well known that to relieve the ratepayer must, to a large extent, relieve the landlord. Therefore, by a contribution from the general taxation of the country by this proposal—you are going to a large extent to relieve one particular class instead of the whole general body. For my own part, I have no hesitation in opposing this Bill, both on the ground of principle and on the ground of detail. The principle, I maintain, is a bad principle, and is bound to produce evil results. No Scotch Member, I am sure, can remember so much lobbying, log-rolling, and interviewing as there has been with regard to this particular Bill. We have been assailed by Parochial Boards, by School Boards, Town Councils, and County Councils; the Lobbies have been full of such deputations. Hon. Members opposite argue that that shows these various bodies are very much in favour of the Bill. I take leave to object to that idea altogether. As a matter of fact, there is only one matter that these various bodies are generally agreed upon, and that is, that the matter should be dealt with immediately, and that it should be made permanent. They naturally want to make sure of their money in a definite proportion from year to year. Then, with regard to other matters, so far from being united in one view, they are of many minds. School Boards, Parochial Boards, Town Councils, and County Councils have each wanted the money for their own purposes; it has been a general game of grab between these various bodies as to who should get the most money. I object to the Bill both on account of what is in it and on account of what is left out of it. This Bill actually confirms and stereotypes the existing state of things. Scotland, like England, ought to get ten shillings per head for her scholars, whether she gains or loses by such an arrangement, and not have her grant fixed by the number of attendances by 619 school children. Then there is the sum given for education of £60,000. That has been gone into at great length, but I think everyone agrees that that sum is much too small. There is the sum of £30,000 for the Universities — again a proper disposal of money, but not a proper disposal of this money, because we maintain that the Universities of Scotland are a national institution, and that it is from national funds these Universities ought to be supported. With regard to the £50,000 for Parochial Boards, we object to that sum, because we say Parochial Boards are not elected bodies, or are only so in a very small proportion, and that they are not bodies to whom the distribution of public money should be given. With regard to the £100,000 to Town and County Councils, we say it should not be confined to the relief of rates, but that Town and County Councils should have a free hand given them in the matter. I wish to point out that after all this gift of £100,000 to the Town and County Councils will not relieve the rates at all, but will only be the cause of greater expenditure. I pointed out on the First Reading how very small was the relief which would go to the individual ratepayer, and I was somewhat taken to task by some Edinburgh friends on the Corporation. They said they did not intend to apply the money to the relief of the rates, but to effect further improvements. That is not relieving the rates; it is putting money in the hands of various bodies to be used, doubtless, for proper purposes, but that will not relieve the rates. The general defence of the Bill by hon. Members on both sides does not rest on the merits; on the contrary, hon. Members have been most frank in saying that they dislike the Bill in most, if not all, of its details. The hon. Member for the Partick Division (Mr. J. P. Smith) made an excellent speech against the Bill, as did also my hon. Friend the Member for Peebles and Selkirk (Mr. Thorburn), who said if he had the distribution of the money he would treat it in quite a different fashion. But they all defended the Bill on the ground that it was the best that could be done, and that 620 it was in the nature of a compromise. It seems to me that to defend a Government Bill on the ground that it is a compromise is no great compliment to the Government that brings in the Bill. It is quite true that a compromise cannot be altogether perfect, but I maintain that this compromise is neither totus teres nor rotundus—it has neither perfection, smoothness, nor rotundity about it. If my right hon. Friend opposite really looks upon this as a compromise, I would suggest that he should be prepared to come to something like a compromise with us in regard to some of the details. If he will agree to some such compromise as I shall propose, he will find the passage of this measure much simplified and very much eased. There are, I think, three salient points to which exception has been most generally taken—first, the smallness of the sum for secondary education; next, the giving of public money to Parochial Boards; and, thirdly, the want of a free hand in dealing with the money that falls to them by the Town and County Councils. My suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman is that he should take the £50,000 which goes to Parochial Boards, and add that to the sum for secondary education, bringing the sum for that purpose up to £110,000; and that then—of course, I am not now going into the details of how the money is to be expended; that will require further consideration—he should add to the clause giving the money to Town and County Councils a rider which would leave those bodies free to deal with the money in such manner as they think fit. Or, if that were considered to give too much power to those bodies, it might be arranged that they should frame schemes for the use of the money, and that these schemes should be approved by the Secretary for Scotland. I make these proposals in all good faith, and I assure the right hon. Gentleman that giving his assent to them would greatly facilitate the passage of the measure.
§ (7.8.) MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
The Bill deals with an annual payment to Scotland of £265,000, representing a capital sum of between seven and eight millions, and it also deals with the important 621 question of secondary education. A great controversy has arisen as to whether these questions should be dealt with by Bill or Resolution of the House of Commons. The argument in favour of proceeding by Bill is that the Local Authorities would have a feeling of permanency in regard to the grant made in the Bill. This £265,000 is paid out of the Imperial taxation, but hon. Gentlemen on the other side have spoken as if it were a windfall to be disposed of as the Scotch Members desire. The money must be raised annually by taxation, and the universal practice of Parliament has been, when grants are made out of money raised by taxation, that the grants should be placed on the Estimates, and a Vote taken annually on the purpose to which the money is applied. That was the course pursued with respect to the Road, Police, and Lunacy Grants for years, and no one doubted the permanency of the grants if the money were really required. If, therefore, there is any feeling of insecurity among the parties interested, it is because they fear being able to convince Parliament of the necessity of voting the money from year to year. By proceeding by Bill you stereotype the grant, as was the case with the Lunacy and Police Grants, which were made permanent and stereotyped in the Local Government (Scotland) Act. In the Estimates the sum voted was proportioned to the expenditure, but since the amount has been fixed it has become utterly inadequate, and, as the Lord Advocate has admitted, £25,000 less than it would have been if it had remained in the Estimates. It is a principle that the House of Commons alone should have the power of determining from year to year how the money raised by taxation shall be applied, and the intention of the Government by this Bill is to deprive the House of Commons of its undoubted right to criticise the expenditure of the money, and to give the House of Lords a joint interest—a veto as it were—in the allocation of this money by the House of Commons. I object to that principle. The Government also brought in the House of Lords in the allocation of the Probate Duty in the Local Government Bill, and the Government argue that they 622 are doing the same now as they did then; that is to say, that they are following their own policy. Curiously enough, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been the first to introduce a Separatist policy with regard to finance. His policy has been to divide the Imperial accounts into accounts for England, Scotland, and Ireland in the proportion of 80 per cent. to England, 11 per cent. to Scotland, and 9 per cent. to Ireland. This money having been ear-marked for Scotland, the question is how is it to be applied? It is a hard thing to say that the Conservative Party, which has only 12 out of 72 Scotch Members, should claim the right to legislate and permanently allocate by Bill this £265,000 of Scotch money. The Government are a complete minority in Scotland on this matter. There are, it is true, 15 Liberal Unionist Representatives for Scotland; but, whatever their individual views, the question of the allocation of this money was certainly not one on which they are called on to differ from the Liberal Party. We shall find that the Government will carry the Bill, a purely Scotch matter, against the wish of the Scotch Representatives. I decline to support legislation which in any way controls the absolute right of the House of Commons to dispose of money raised by Imperial taxation. Another objection I have to the Bill is that it introduces the principle of grants in aid of local rates; but I shall only refer to that to say that Glasgow has just promoted a Bill to alter the incidence of taxation by placing part of an improvement rate on the owner, while this Bill proposes to relieve property at the expense of the people. The grants lead to extravagant expenditure, as the Local Authorities use them for purposes for which they would not care to assess the community. It has been pointed out that the Bill takes the money from the poorer classes and relieves the wealthier classes. The Solicitor General for Scotland (Mr. A. G. Murray) said that as the money came from the Probate Duty it did not come from the poorer classes. It does not matter what particular part of the Imperial taxation you apply to the relief of local rates—the result is the same. If the money voted to the relief of rates were retained 623 there would be a surplus of £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 a year in the National Exchequer, and the probable result would be that we should get a large reduction of taxation. The £265,000 a year is not, properly speaking, an Equivalent Grant for Scotland, but a grant from the Imperial Exchequer for the purposes of education; the object, therefore, of the Bill ought to be to encourage education. These grants have hitherto been capitation grants, and, as England gets 10s. per child in average attendance, Scotland is entitled to exactly the same treatment. The absurdity of the Government proposal is that in calculating the grant they did not take into account the school attendance at all, but they make the payment depend upon the amount paid to England, whether the attendance in Scotland is increased or not, and Ireland, which has more children to educate, gets only 9 per cent. as against Scotland's 11 per cent. Therefore Ireland, which is the poorest country and requires most help, gets the least help. The pecuniary result, so far as Scotland is concerned, will be the same whether we have 10s. per child or the Government proposal; but Scotland is entitled to be paid on results, and the greater the number of children the greater should be the grant, and the smaller the number of children the smaller the grant. There is also an unnecessary complication in the Bill, that which provides that any increment above the £265,000 is to go to the Local Authorities. I wonder the Government did not see the absurdity of introducing this complication, because the Parochial Board has to make up any deficiency in the school funds, so that if the sum be greater than £265,000 there will be just that amount less for the Parochial Board to assess. In consequence of the separation of Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom the Government have been forced to adopt a certain forward policy in England. In consequence of the claim of Scotland for free education England claimed it and the Government were forced to provide it. There are important principles in this Bill, which, if given effect to in Scotland, will be claimed by England. The first is that the Government ought to subsidise 624 secondary education, and the next is that you introduce the principle of popular representation in all schools which get the benefit of the Imperial grant. This proposal was strongly resisted in the English Bill, but if it be adopted now it will be impossible to resist its application to England. The question of secondary education can be better dealt with in Committee than now, but most of the speakers from Scotland, including the Lord Advocate, seem to have proceeded on the erroneous view, that education in Scotland is merely elementary and as if secondary education were and ought to be something distinct from it. I would point out that the parochial schools prior to 1872 were schools which had secondary education as their object and aim, and they were the feeders of the Universities of Scotland. When the Education (Scotland) Act of 1872 was passing through this House and the House of Lords hon. Members were very jealous for this secondary education, and in that Act the word "elementary" does not occur; but there is a special clause to the effect that the standard of education in Scotland shall not be lowered. It is admitted on all sides that secondary education has been on the decline in Scotland. What are the causes of it? The cause is not the growth of elementary education. The Scotch Education Department, instead of carrying out the law, and giving the larger grants to encourage secondary education, give larger grants to elementary subjects and in that way make it to the interest of the teacher to abandon secondary education and devote his attention to elementary subjects, from which more money could be derived. In that way the action of the Department, which was a violation of the Act of Parliament, caused this falling-off of secondary education. There is also another reason. The policy of the Department has been to drive private enterprise almost out of the field. In Glasgow, in a radius of four miles, there is a population of 800,000, and yet there are only 800 children whose fees are paid by their parents. If you take away the secondary department from the ordinary public school in Scotland, the effect will be that you will lower the tone of the 625 public school and the prestige of the teacher.
§ (7.31.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I do not know whether the Lord Advocate intends to say anything in the course of this Debate, but I think we have a right to know why we are not having a real and proper equivalent. We were told last year when a large sum was voted for England that an equivalent should be given to Scotland. This is not an equivalent, for we lose by it to the extent of £5,000, and Ireland loses to the extent of between £50,000 and £60,000 a year. Why should we not get 10s. a head on the average attendance in the same way that it is paid in England? I object to the Bill on two grounds—first, because I do not believe that the eleven per cent. Estimate of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is accurate. I will believe it when I see it in Committee; but when I find that for three Sessions running we have been promised a Committee and have not got it, I know that the Government do not want a Committee, and they do not want their facts examined. I say also that the Scotch Members do not accept this proposal as fair and accurate. We object that the less progressive country should determine the equivalent for the more progressive country. Scotland is passing on more quickly than England to the time when all the children who ought to be at school shall be at school, and we ask why should you tie the more progressive country to the more backward one? We want to know why we should be robbed of our £5,000, and why we should have our education retarded by the slower growth of England? We also want to know why you have adopted this system of valuation, and in that connection I will point out that in the northern counties of Scotland, where there are large districts of land which is not of much value, this will press very hardly, and they will not get a fair equivalent. For instance, if Caithness received this grant according to population instead of according to valuation, it would receive nearly 50 per cent. more I must also make a protest with respect to this grant of £30,000 to the 626 Universities. Three years ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought in a Bill by which for a sum of £42,000 yearly we were to give a full quittance for the maintenance of the Scotch Universities and you will find in the Vote this year this sum is put down as a full acknowledgement of the duty of the United Kingdom to Scotland for the maintenance of the Universities. I voted against that, and I shall vote against this, because there is a principle involved. When Scotland entered into the Union there were three or four special institutions which we wished to be preserved, and amongst them was the Universities. When the Scotch Members came here first they had only one vote more than the County of Cornwall, and they made a treaty on behalf of these special institutions. The Lord Advocate the other day declared that to maintain these Universities meant their extension. That may be a clever quibble but it is not a fair argument. You undertook to maintain them and now you say it is a bad principle. But we shall not accept the proposal, and circumstances will soon compel the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take that insult off our Estimates and to bear honourably and fairly the burden taken over at the Union. If you were giving up education in England something might be said in favour of the argument of getting rid of Scotch obligations, but you have been endowing Universities all over the country. (Cries of "Divide.") Some of my Liberal Unionist Friends are calling for a Division, but I would remind them that this a matter of great importance, and if they wish to preserve the Union they should take special care that the obligations which were entered into at the time of the Union are faithfully observed. We hold that the maintenance of the Scotch Universities is a burden which you took over with poor unfortunate Scotland and you must carry it out, and I consider that the attempt of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to get rid of it was mean and contemptible and dishonourable. With reference to the other provisions I object to them all. I object to the scheme of secondary education because it leaves out technical and scientific 627 education, and it refuses to give a single penny to continuation or night schools. This money will go to the middle-class schools. The hon. Member for the College Division (Dr. Cameron) spoke of a way in which this Bill will affect Glasgow, and said that this money which he is most anxious to get will mean 2s. 6d. to every ratepayer in Glasgow. What are the real facts? The valuation of Glasgow is £5,405,000, and Glasgow's share of this money will be £14,203. That will be something like 1d. upon the valuation, but in Glasgow 76,435 of the ratepayers pay only one-tenth of the rates. That is because ratepayers below £10 only pay half-rates, and these people I have mentioned will receive only an average of 4½d. with a maximum of 8d. and a minimum of 3d. But those people who pay the rates will receive an average of 4s. 6d. which will begin at 1s. and go up to several pounds. To the landlords it will be a great boon, but to the working men who returned my hon. Friend it will not mean more than 4½d. I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton (Sir G. Trevelyan) is coming round on this matter, but I may say that in the county districts the proposal will not work at all. The people will be able to apply the money to the relief of taxes alone, and they wish to construct piers and harbours but cannot get the money. I do not wish to prevent the House going to a Division now, but we shall break down the conspiracy of silence when we get into Committee. The Front Bench now declines to say a word, but when we get the Bill into Committee we shall insist on full information being given.
§ (9.45.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 169; Noes, 111.—(Div. List, No. 66.)
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.