HC Deb 17 June 1896 vol 41 cc1246-96

(1.) Every County Council and every Council of a Municipal Borough of not less than twenty thousand inhabitants shall appoint an Education Committee for the purposes of this Act, and the County Council acting by that Committee shall be and is in this Act referred to as the education authority of the county.

(2.) The number of the members of the Committee shall be fixed by the County Council.

(3.) The County Council may appoint persons, whether members of the Council or not, to be members of the Committee, provided that a majority of those members shall be members of the Council.

(4.) A member of an Education Committee shall hold office for three years, and one-third, as nearly as may be, of the members of an Education Committee shall retire annually at such time and in such order as may be fixed by the County Council, and their places shall be filled by a new appointment, but retiring members may be reappointed.

(5.) Two or more County Councils may combine for all or any of the purposes of this Act.

(6.) Provided as follows:—

  1. (a.) A County Council may submit to the Education Department a Scheme for providing separate Education Committees for different parts of the county or for otherwise modifying or supplementing the provisions of this section so as to adapt the constitution of an Education Committee to the needs of the county or of different parts thereof, and for making any supplemental provisions which appear necessary for carrying into effect the Scheme, and if the Education Department approve any such Scheme, without modification or with any modifications agreed to by the Council, the Scheme shall have effect as if enacted by this Act, but shall be subject to revocation or alteration by a Scheme made in like manner;
  2. (b.) Where a county governing body has been constituted for any county by a Scheme made in pursuance of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, 1889, the county governing body shall be the Education Committee for the purposes of this Act, and the County Council acting through that governing body shall be the education authority for the county.

[The words printed in italics have been inserted in Committee.]

Another Amendment [proposed 16th June] in Sub-section (1), after the word "shall," to insert the words "with due regard to the representation of minorities."—(Sir Charles Dilke.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

Debate resumed,—


said the Government sympathised with the object of the Amend- ment of the right hon. Baronet, and they hoped that the County Council would have due regard to the representation of minorities, but the plan of the Government Bill was to leave this and similar matters to the discretion of the County Council itself. So far as experience went, the County Councils had shown a feeling for the interests of education, and a marked absence of partisan motives. [''Hear, hear!"] He was told that that was very marked under the Welsh Intermediate Education. Act. ["Hear, hear!"] He believed that they might fairly trust the County Councils to take all necessary care in the forming of their Committees, and that they would do so with a desire to promote education. He deprecated the raising of so burning a question as the representation of minorities. He could understand those who wished to wreck the Bill trying to do that. If they once began to direct the County Councils with regard to the representation of minorities they could not stop there, and he asked the Committee not to pass an Amendment which would impede and embarrass the County Councils, but to leave the matter to their discretion. There was only one exception which he was inclined to make, and that was with regard to the Amendment of the senior Member for Cambridge University, which suggested that the County Council should take into consideration the necessity of including on the Education Committees persons not on the Council who had educational experience. The reason they made that exception was that it had been urged on them by County Councils themselves, and especially by Lancashire. On that ground, and that alone, he should be disposed to view the Amendment favourably, but otherwise he hoped that the Committee would feel that the County Councils were fit to be trusted, and if they were, let them trust them entirely and completely.


said he regretted exceedingly that the Government had not seen their way to accept the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet. He had the gravest doubt as to how these educational authorities would operate with regard to Catholic education, and they, as representing the Catholic minority in this country, were entitled to demand from the Government that in these now educational authorities the minorities, more especially the small minority of Catholics, in this country should have at least as good a chance of representation as they had under the Act of 1870. The Vice President of the Council had given no reason against accepting the Amendment. He said that if the Government were to undertake to make recommendations to the County Councils as regards the formation of these educational committees, and the representation of minorities they could not stop there, and thereupon he proceeded forthwith to say that he was prepared to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cambridge University, and therefore they were to presume from his own arguments that the representation of minorities would be almost precluded, and that the County Councils would be warned against them by the fact that one recommendation was to be made, and that no representation was to be made in favour of minorities. He (Mr. Dillon) confessed that as a Catholic interested in the fate of Catholic schools in this country, he had always regarded the constitution of these educational authorities with considerable misgiving and considerable doubt. ["Hear, hear!"] He was perfectly well aware that those who were entitled to speak on behalf of the Catholics in England had accepted this portion of the Bill, but they had accepted it without any enthusiasm whatever, and as part of a whole. The expression he had heard freely used by the leaders of Catholic opinion in this country was that it should be described as "a leap in the dark." He had the greatest doubt as to how those educational authorities if they were constituted, would operate upon the Catholic Schools, but inasmuch as under the Act of 1870 provision was made for the protection and due representation of minorities on the School Boards, they, speaking for the Catholic minorities, were entitled to demand from the Government, as champions of the interests of the Voluntary Schools, that in the educational authorities, the minorities, and more especially the small minorities of Roman Catholics of this country, should have at least as good a chance of representation as they had under that Act. What had been the result of the cumulative vote on the School Boards of England? No doubt the School Board had a majority of non-Catholics, but the result of the cumulative vote had been to give the Catholic body a voice and representation in nearly all the great School Boards in the country such as no other system could possibly give. ["Hear, hear!"] He was informed that in the great city of Edinburgh the poll at the School Board election was year after year headed by a Catholic clergyman. He held that a body on which a man could sit and speak as representing a minority, their interests were, to some extent, safeguarded, and, as they had heard the other day in the speech of the hon. Member for West Ham, on the School Board of that constituency there sat one or two Catholic clergymen who worked most harmoniously and in the most friendly spirit with the remaining members of the School Board. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, had expressed a hope that the County Councils would have due regard to the representation of minorities, but in regard to the Catholic minority he was sorry to consider that if that Committee did not in some way give an indication of its desire that minorities should be represented, he could see no reason for hoping that the County Councils would deem it to be their duty to make any provision for the representation of small minorities on the education authorities. No doubt it might be argued that County Councils in large rural districts would be more inclined, for reasons which he would not go into on that occasion, than Town Councils to give representation to Catholic minorities. But in those large rural districts the Catholic minorities were so small and so insignificant; it was in the great urban districts their interests lay, and where there was a really considerable minority. It was there that their schools were mainly situated and where nineteen-twentieths of the Catholic children were educated. The question was not whether the great rural districts would give representation to the Catholic minorities, but whether the boroughs would do so without a direction from the House. A very large concession had been made by the First Lord of the Treasury, by which he had enormously increased the number of education authorities, and that concession had greatly increased the claim that they, representing the Catholic minority, now made. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman made an appeal to those who desired not to wreck the Bill, not to support the Amendment. It was all very well to talk about the danger of wrecking the Bill by moving Amendments. The Government should have considered, before they embarked upon this policy, whether they were really acting in the interests of the Voluntary Schools. He (Mr. Dillon) had held from the first, and he held now with greatly increased conviction, that the policy of putting in the forefront of this Bill clauses creating now educational authorities which were of a most conflicting character, and putting in the background the one thing they were really interested in—


said this matter did not arise out of the Amendment, which related solely to the representation of minorities.


said that he alluded to that matter because of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, who had deprecated the Amendment on the ground that they were trying to wreck the Bill. He repudiated that suggestion. ["Hear, hear!"] He considered that the claim was a just one, inasmuch as the great Measure of 1870 laid down the principle that minorities on the question of education were entitled to representation, and if the House did not resolve to pursue that policy in setting up those new educational authorities, he considered the policy to be followed an extremely doubtful one, and they were determined to press their claim that on these new educational authorities the Catholic minority should have as much voice and representation as was given to them on the School Boards. [Cheers.]

* SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)

regretted that the Government had shown no disposition to accept the Amendment. When the London County Council elected the Technical Education Board, they were actuated by the sole desire to appoint men who were conversant with the subject of technical education. The election roused no burning questions, but he feared that that principle would not be observed by County Councils generally in the election of Committees, but that they might adopt the practice of selecting only the men who agreed with the views of the majority. ["Hear, hear!"] Rightly or wrongly, there were a great many people who were in favour of the School Boards as against Voluntary Schools, and there were very many of them who were in favour of Voluntary Schools as against Board Schools. Let them consider for a moment, from this point of view, what would be the effect of this first clause on the Voluntary Schools in London, unless some such Amendment as that now submitted to the Committee was adopted. There was at present, both on the London County Council and in the School Board, a small majority of Progressives, and it was not at all improbable that this majority would feel it to be their duty to give predominance on the Educational Committee to their own views in favour of Board Schools as against Voluntary Schools. A similar course might be followed, and probably would be followed, by the majority in the County Councils throughout the country, with the result that minorities would be almost entirely unrepresented. The only way to deal with the difficulty was by adopting some Amendment similar to that now submitted by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean. The Vice President had said that it would require a separate Bill to carry out the proposal. But, on the contrary, he thought that the insertion in the Bill of a few words, providing that in the elections of the Committees every County Councillor should vote for one person, and one person only, would in most cases effect the object in view, which the right lion. Member for the Forest of Dean and the hon. Member for Mayo had so much at heart. In large constituencies such as those which returned Members of Parliament, the matter could not, perhaps, be dealt with in such a simple way. In these cases it might not be sufficient to say that each Voter should have only one vote; subsidiary arrangements might be necessary for the purpose, and perhaps a separate Bill might be required. But, in respect to elections by smaller numbers, the suggestion was perfectly feasible, and he believed that if some- thing of the kind were adopted, it would greatly strengthen popular confidence in the Bill, and the probabilities of the Measure working satisfactorily must increase throughout the country. He hoped, therefore, the Government had not said the last word on the important question raised by the Amendment. ["Hear, hear!"]

* MR. T. W. NUSSEY (Pontefract)

supported the Amendment. He said he thought it was necessary and very desirable that some definite instruction should be given to the. County Councils, in order that, in carrying out the work it was intended to impose upon them by the Bill, there should be some assurance that representation would be given to minorities on the proposed Educational Committees. It should be remembered that the new work to be placed on the Councils would be difficult and laborious, and that the Councils were at present in the dark on the matter. As had been pointed out, on most County Councils the members who represented Voluntary Schools largely predominated. But there were some Councils on which there was a small majority in favour of Board Schools, and the members might deem it to be their duty to exclude from the education authority the voice of those who were in favour of Voluntary Schools. The same argument would, of course, apply in the opposite case; for most County Councils, he believed, were in favour of the Voluntary School system. The principle which had guided the House in the appointment of Committees was that the composition, of the Committees should reflect the opinions and views of the members as a whole, and on the same principle it was only fair that representation should be given on the Committees in question to the views of all sections of people. ["Hear, hear!"] He was extremely sorry, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had taken the view he had done on the, matter. Unless some Amendment of the character proposed was adopted it would be extremely difficult for small minorities, especially those at a distance from the centre of the area where the County Council held its meetings, to bring forward any grievance under which they might labour. He referred not only to Roman Catholics, but also to small Board Schools. The Act of 1870 provided for the representation of minorities. It was for that object that the cumulative system of voting was introduced in the election of School Boards, and he contended that if it was desirable to apply the principle in the case of School Boards, it was all the more desirable that minorities should be represented on the Education Authorities which this clause proposed to set up, whose work under the Bill would extend over a much larger area. ["Hear, hear!"] This first clause of the Measure was viewed with grave apprehension by a large portion of the country, especially in face of the statement of the Vice President that it was regarded by the Government as one of the most important clauses of the Bill; but he felt confident that if the Government adopted some Amendment that would give assurance of the representation of minorities on the Educational Committees, it would greatly increase the confidence of the people that the Bill would be worked in a fair and equitable spirit. ["Hear, hear!"]

* SIR ARTHUR FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk)

was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill was unable, to express greater sympathy with the object of the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman had expressed great confidence in the fairness of the actions of the County Councils in the election of the proposed Committees. He had had considerable experience of County Council work, and he contended that the action of the County Councils in the composition of the Committees on technical instruction could not be taken as a guide to the course they would adopt in appointing the Committees on Elementary Education. As the right hon. Member for the University of London had pointed out, there was a great difference between the circumstances connected with the election of the Technical Education Committees and those connected with the administration of elementary education. In one case considerable feeling would be aroused, and in the other none whatever. He should like to bring the matter to a practical test. The Borough Councils and the County Councils had the power conferred on them of appointing aldermen, and it was well known that in many of the large boroughs, if not in most of them, the Councils had for years elected aldermen of one particular colour—the colour of the majority. [''Hear, hear!"] The Borough and County Councils would be sorely tempted to pursue a similar course in the appointment of the Education Committees, and select men who agreed with the views of the majority—["hear, hear!'']—and the Committee, again, being of one colour, would co-opt men holding opinions similar to those held by themselves. He therefore appealed for a more favourable consideration of the suggestion, or proposal, of the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, not only in the interest of Roman Catholic minorities, but also in those of the Voluntary Schools and poor Board Schools. He felt very strongly that unless provision was made for a reasonable representation of minorities on the Educational Committees, there would not be a fair and equitable distribution of the funds, nor a fair administration of the work by the educational authority. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman not to press his Amendment at this point. It was simply a direction, and he did not believe it was worth the paper it was written on. He had an Amendment giving the cumulative vote to Town Councils, so that the minority might be represented, but there were other ways of doing it. They might require County Councils in boroughs to elect on the Committee one member from each ward of the borough. That would not require the recasting of the Bill, and would secure to each district full and secure representation. He hoped that before they parted with this clause some means would be taken for providing for the representation of all shades of opinion on these important bodies. [''Hear, hear!"]

* SIR G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)

said that, speaking personally, he was not enamoured of the cumulative vote. He opposed it in 1870, because he thought then, and still thought, there were better ways of providing for the representation of the minority. But one thing was perfectly clear. If they had the cumulative vote in the case of School Boards, they must have something like it in the case of the educational authority. It would not do to have one system of election in the case of the educational authority, and another system in the case of the School Board; otherwise they would have continual friction between the two bodies. He quite appreciated the difficulty the right hon. Gentleman found himself in, but it was the inevitable result of the system of dual control which the Bill sought to introduce. He hoped that when, in six months' time, the right hon. Gentleman came to collect and piece together the disjecta membra of his Bill, he would see his way to getting rid of this initial difficulty.

MR. STUART-WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)

said he had great sympathy with the concrete scheme shadowed forth by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the London University. If that scheme were adopted, the words now proposed would be surplusage and possibly mischievous. If it were not adopted they would remain as a direction, the disregard of which, so far as he could see, would not in any way be questioned by any competent authority. [''Hear, hear!"] The true way of doing this was to import into the Amendment of the hon. Member the colleague of the Vice President in the representation of Cambridge University, that which would provide security for the execution of the policy at which this Amendment aimed—namely, that, before the scheme for the creation of the authority came into existence, there should be security taken and a competent authority satisfied that the representation of the minority was provided for. ["Hear, hear!"] He hoped, therefore, this Amendment would be rejected.

* MR. F. A. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

desired to explain why he could not support the Amendment. He must say he was extremely surprised with the speech of the right hon. Member for Denbighshire in relation to this matter. He thought all educationists had been convinced that the cumulative vote, in the view of the efficiency of education, and in the view of putting education before all these religions and sectarian and partisan questions, had been one of the worst evils of the School Board system. He thought most Members, at least on that side of the House, agreed with the minority of the Royal Commission when they declared that proportional representation, especially as it worked through the cumulative vote, tended to the representation of small cliques, and often put upon the Board a person unsuitable and positively objectionable to the vast community, but who was, nevertheless, able to use his position on the Board for the purpose of obstructing business and discrediting its character in various ways.


I said I was against the cumulative vote in 1870, and I am against it still.


said that as the friends of education had certainly seen one authority ruined and spoilt to a large extent by this pernicious and faulty attempt at securing the representation of minorities, surely no sane man who cared about education would wish to extend that mischievous principle in the present Bill. The arguments of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the London University, of his hon. Friend the Member for Ponte-fract, and of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ormskirk, seemed to him to point far more to the desirability of striking co-optation altogether out of the Bill. In fact, he thought the right hon. Gentleman would be far better advised if he were, in the first place, to get rid of these County Committees altogether, and, in the second place, if he could not see his way to do that at present—it was probable he would have to do it in eight or nine months—he had much better try to represent minorities, if he was going to try to represent them at all, by cutting off co-optation altogether, and by adopting the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dundee to postpone the first appointment of this Statutory Committee until after the next election of the County Councils. It was perfectly obvious that the present County Councils did not, and could not represent the educational needs of the people, inasmuch as they had not been elected on educational issues. He was against co-optation with regard to elementary education. He did not himself consider that the secondary education portion of the Bill was seriously before them in their present discussion. It seemed to him that their arguments concentrated themselves entirely on the issues raised on elementary education, and he must say he was very glad the right hon. Gentleman had declined to accept this Amendment. He hoped that in their discussions they would succeed in avoiding a repetition of the great mistake of the Bill of 1870 of introducing anything like the cumulative vote. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, in a speech which he delivered at Birmingham, said "that so long as the School Board is elected by the cumulative vote"—that was as long as they provided special machinery for the representation of minorities on the School Board— I say that the School Board represents sects, it represents fads, it represents the particular views of any man, but it does not in any true sense represent the common sense of the ratepayers. He cordially accepted that statement in a speech, the greater part of which was, to his mind, thoroughly repugnant. He thought that represented the common sense of the situation. They did not want to poison their educational authority with these sectarian animosities. They had seen enough of that on the London School Board within the last two years, and any proposal that tended in that direction would be a serious mistake in the course and conduct of this Bill.

LORD EDMUND TALBOT (Sussex, Chichester)

was in sympathy with the Amendment; but rose to support the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Sheffield, that it should be moved later on, to the Amendment down in the name of the hon. Member for Cambridge University, where it would be more appropriate, and where it might, perhaps, be more easy for the Government to accept it. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. EDWARD BLAKE (Longford, S.)

considered that the reasons given by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President for not accepting the Amendment, were altogether inadequate. The right hon. Gentleman said, in effect, that where it was even doubtful that the representation of minorities would be acceded to by the majority, he would not give them representation. In dealing with these questions of the constitution of the new authority which was to supervise, and which it was suggested was to take the place of the present local authority, they were entitled to have regard to the composition of the existing educational authority. It was all very well to argue against the methods under which existing School Boards were elected, but it was a method which it was not proposed to disturb. In his opinion, although the cumulative vote might be far from being the best method of procuring tin; result, yet he thought that the theoretical difficulties suggested by the working had been far overrated, and that some method where by the representation of minorities, of sectarian minorities, and particularly the minority for which his hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo had spoken, should be made part of the educational law of the country. This was of the, greatest importance, not merely in the, interests of that particular minority, but also in the interest of the majority, and not merely in reference to education, but also in sweetening and rendering co-operation possible in municipal elections generally, as well as political elections, and thus dissociate these questions, which had their own peculiar difficulties, from the methods which were adopted in other elections. They had that system at present, and what was now proposed was that the supervising educational authority should not be constructed without any security that there should be the same reflection of opinion as in the School Boards. He largely sympathised with the views which had been expressed by the hon. Member for one of the divisions of Sheffield (Mr. Stuart-Wortley), and he believed they would be, best carried out if a simple indication of the will of Parliament was given. It would he well if the Government would consider favourably that suggestion, and agree that in this Bill, among the conditions in the agreement to be made between the Education Department and the local authority, there should be some indication which would in some manner safeguard the representation of minorities. He was willing to have it large and elastic, so as not to complicate it with other questions which might arise. But that there should appear in the Act of Parliament a recognition of the rights of minorities to consideration in the authority which was set up to supervise School Boards appeared to him just and essential, nor would it do to say it would be an adequate result of the principle of one man one vote, or the single vote to the educational authority itself, because that new educational authority might be, and probably would be, in many instances so constituted that that would not at all produce the result at which they aimed.


understood the Government had signified their willingness to accept the Amendment which stood in the name of the hon. Member for Cambridge University. Personally, he should have been quite content if the Bill had been allowed to remain as it was printed, and the matter left entirely to be considered and determined by the County Council itself. The Government, however, had thought it right to intimate they were prepared to accept the Amendment which was subsequently to be proposed, and which would make the constitution of the Committees to some extent the subject matter of a scheme, with certain directions to the authorities who made it, and a subsequent submission to the Education Department. If they were to have a scheme and certain interests were to be represented on these Committees, then he thought that minorities ought certainly to be represented. ["Hear, hear!"] Some of those who sat on the Government side of the House, although sympathising with the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean in the Amendment he had moved, could not support it for obvious reasons. An Amendment in this direction must be either precise in its terms, or there should be some sanction which could enforce the general intention of the Amendment. There was no sanction under the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, and the terms were as vague as possible. It was, therefore, quite impossible for some hon. Members to support it as it stood, but anybody who looked at the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cambridge University would see that with the addition of certain words it could be made to entirely achieve, the end they had in view, and if the Government could assure the Committee that they would be prepared to favourably consider such addition to his hon. Friend's Amendment, the present discussion might be abbreviated. ["Hear, hear!"]


supported the appeal of the noble Lord. He himself was interested in this discussion, because he feared that under the administration of the new education, authorities, the affairs of labour would be entirely unrepresented unless some such instruction as that proposed by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean were adopted. In elementary education it was highly important and desirable that some of the parents of the children attending these schools should be on the education boards. He had, in previous discussions, already shown it was next to impossible for a working man to be a County Councillor in their great agricultural counties, because of the loss of time consequent on attending the meetings and the expenses of travelling and being from home. Unless some means were provided for their representation, there would be scarcely any workmen on any of the education authorities, appointed by the County Councils, in the whole country. The Vice President would see that his first objection fell to the ground in consequence of his accepting the Amendment of his colleague in the representation of Cambridge University. If it was unwise to give an instruction in the one case, it was unwise to give it in the other, but if it was wise to give it in the one case, then it was also wise to give it in the other. Some hon. Members were alarmed at the effect of the cumulative vote; but it was not necessary to be an advocate of the cumulative vote to support this Amendment. He did not share in the objection to the cumulative vote, as it was only by that system that in a large number of cases working men had been able to secure a voice in local bodies. He would urge the right hon. Gentleman to accept the advice of the noble Lord, and see whether he could not, at some subsequent stage, introduce words that should prevent the representatives of labour being excluded. He spoke specially for labour, but shared equally in the desire that Roman Catholics or Nonconformists or members of any religious community should have that share of representation to which they were entitled.


said he had hitherto understood that the recognised doctrine of hon. Gentlemen opposite was that the minority vote in all its forms, and especially on School Boards, ought to be swept away. With regard to the appeals of the right hon. Member for Sheffield, and his noble Friend the Member for Rochester, words might be introduced, if the scheme under Clause 1 were carried, to provide that the interests of existing minorities should be considered. If the right hon. Baronet were satisfied with this, perhaps he would withdraw his Amendment.

MR. C. P. SCOTT (Lancashire, Leigh)

reminded the Committee that the proposed Educational Committee was not an elective but a nominative body, and what they wanted was to secure that on the elective body due regard should be had to the representation of minorities. He did not share the objection of some of his hon. Friends to the working of the cumulative vote. His own experience, which had extended over the whole period of the working of School Boards, had been favourable to it. In Manchester, from the first time the School Board was elected, they had invariably had upon that School Board a majority of the representatives of the Church and Roman Catholics, but by the operation of the cumulative vote there had always been a substantial Progressive minority. Without the safeguard of the cumulative vote, the latter would have had practically no representation at all, but the Progressive minority, combined with the more moderate demands on the other side, had secured a moderate progressive policy, which had been the policy of the Manchester School Board from the time it was first elected until now. By the Bill these safeguards were absolutely taken away. Not only would a majority of one on the municipal authority be able to elect the educational authority, but a minority of the elected members of the municipal authority might elect the whole of the members of the educational authority. It was scandalous. It happened not unfrequently that, where parties were fairly equally divided upon a municipal authority, it was in the power of the non-elected members to turn the scale, and then by the votes of the aldermen, the party actually in the minority, as far as the elected representatives were concerned, might control the whole policy of the authority. This was the clearest possible reason for demanding that minorities should be efficiently represented on this new educational authority. It was not only to religious denominations that justice should be done. They claimed it also for the working man and those who believed that women should be directly represented on the educational authority. He believed the proposed alteration of the clause by the First Lord of the Treasury was not adequate to meet the justice of the case, and he should vote for the Amendment of the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean. ["Hear, hear!"]

* MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)

agreed that it was not desirable to spend much time over this discussion, which had degenerated into a post mortem examination of the Bill. [Opposition cheers.] There was only one way of dealing with minorities, and that was by turning them into majorities. [Laughter.] There were all sorts of minorities. There was the religious minority, the sectarian minority, and there was, as had been pointed out, the minority of labour. There might be a personal minority or a local minority, and the boroughs, like that he represented, which were excluded by the Bill, would be in a permanent minority. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to give representation to each of these minorities? If so, he would positively end by creating a majority composed entirely of minorities. The Amendment was stamped with the sin of vagueness, which was the worst of all Parliamentary sins. He did not think that the proposal the right hon. Baronet made could be made up by any alteration in the subsequent Amendment which had been referred to. At any rate, permanently interested as he was in the representation of a minority, he could not accept the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, which to his mind was subversive of all propriety.


said that the object in view was to secure that there should be true protection against the County Council in dealing with the new educational authority; that some indication should be given of the will of Parliament that the rights of minorities should be considered. To his mind the proposal of the First Lord of the Treasury that some words should be put in providing that the scheme for the constitution of the Educational Committee should be submitted to the Education Department, and also providing for the rights of minorities—that, to his mind, would be a perfectly satisfactory way—in fact, the best way of dealing with the matter. With regard to the cumulative vote, he did not believe in it at all in political matters; but his desire was to see the administration of the education of the country divorced altogether from politics. Educational administration ought to be framed not with a view to its effect on Party struggles, but in such a way as to make the machinery run smoothly and give every class in the community a fair opportunity of expressing their views. He entirely accepted the view of the hon. Member for Leicester. They desired to secure a voice, not only for Catholics, but for Methodists and other denominations, and if there should be any part of England where the Church Party was in a minority, that they also should have an opportunity of expressing their views. It was with a view to preventing the Educational Committees from being worked on Party lines, and to securing that under the direction of the Education Department they might be taken out of the sphere of Party politics, that he heartily approved this proposal.


said the point urged with so much fairness by the hon. Members for Leicester and the Leigh Division of Lancashire, could not be obtained by an amendment of the present scheme of the Government. Although he had mentioned labour as having been provided for to some extent by the cumulative vote, by no amendment of the scheme would it be possible to give labour the same position on the new authority that it occupied at present on the School Boards. With regard to the cumulative vote, Mr. Gladstone, on a former occasion, most powerfully expressed his views. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he was absolutely opposed to the cumulative vote in connection with political elections, but that the objections which applied to political elections did not apply to educational elections, and he did not believe the right hon. Gentleman had ever changed his views. However, these were matters that could only be raised on the question that Clause 1 stand part of the Bill. He would only ask the Government to consider themselves whether they could put down the necessary Amendment, and would ask leave of the Committee to withdraw his own Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. ATHERLEY JONES(Durham, N. W.) moved to leave out the words ''appoint an'' and to insert instead thereof the words ''be the'' with the object of substituting the County Council and the Municipal Council for the Committee to be appointed by those bodies under the Bill. He assured the Vice President that the Amendment did not aim at the subversion of the principles of the Bill. Indeed, he regarded it as strengthening the leading principle, because he believed in the County Council as the education authority. He was persuaded that if they gave the County Council the control of education, the result would be to bring upon these bodies interests and sections, not merely of religion, but of social thought far in excess of those at present represented upon them. The County Council did not at present fully or satisfactorily represent the various interests in the county which it was assumed to represent. That being so, he invited attention to the many reasons why he thought that the County Council was preferable as an education authority to the Committee of the County Council which it was proposed by the Bill to establish. He wished, in the first place, to point out that the Committee must bear in mind that this new educational Committee is to supplement and not supplant the existing organisation for education. That very wise and proper provision was contained in the Bill. Secondly, that the powers of the new educational Committee as they were defined by the Bill were, in respect of existing educational organisations only, those enjoyed at present by the Education Department. He recognised that the principal objection to his Amendment would be that it did away with delegation, and that under it that body of experts, to which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President had said he attached the greatest importance, would not be available in the new educational authority. But the statement which had just been made by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury showed that the delegation was not to be a delegation of experts, but a delegation of representatives of various religious beliefs. There were to be representatives of every possible religious thought, prejudice, and passion on this so-called Education Committee. But his contention was that this delegated body could not be effectively secured either to represent religion or education. It would be nothing more than the representation of the prevailing political or religious opinion of the majority of the county. The result would be that in every county where the predominant feeling was Conservative or Church, there would be a Conservative and Church Educational Committee; and in Radical counties, such as Durham, there would be a Radical Committee. The system of delegation would be a phantom and shadow, and could not possibly be realised. He laid down in his Amendment a principle which was a democratic principle. The object they should aim at ought to be to secure that the educational body should be representative of the people of the county. He attached more importance to its being a representative body of the people and of the ratepayers than of schools of thought. But at the same time he thought they would be perfectly sure of securing that all interests would be more or less adequately represented on the education body. He meant by that that there was no County Council in which they would not get representatives of all important lines of thought, and he believed the effect of giving the control of education to the County Council would be that there would be a greater tendency to return on the County Councils men interested in education than was the case at present. There was another difficulty in the scheme of the Bill which his Amendment met. The new educational Committee was proposed to be partly nominated and partly co-opted. Assuming that the members of the Committee were 25 in number, there would be on it only 13 or 14 members of the County Council, who (as a County Council consisted on an average of 60 members would represent only a small fraction of the county. Would that be a desirable state of things? He thought it would be a most desirable thing that they should bring into touch with this education body every school district area; that every school district area should have on the education body a member to whom they could appeal and whose interest they could excite in the particular educational requirements of the district. Then the residue of the educational Committee proposed by the Bill would be under no control whatever. They would be nominated persons. It was, he thought, subversive of popular control that the whole representation of the county, which returned on an average 60 members to the County Council, should be some 14 members for educational purposes. There ought to be effective control by the ratepayers over the new education body, and that could not be attained by the system of the Bill, but it was secured by his Amendment. It might be said that the County Council was too large a body for the purpose of effectively dealing with education. But it must be borne in mind that under the Local Government Act County Councils had large powers of delegation. The delegation would, of course, be exercised in the same way as it was exercised by the County Council of London in respect to the control of highways, the fire brigade, and other departments of work, and would be generally representative of the County Council. For administrative purposes such delegation was desirable; but he secured by his Amendment the ultimate control of the education of the county to the County Councils. He believed that County Councils would grow in power and strength, and would have more of the attributes of a democratic character than they at present enjoyed in many counties by the extension of their authority in the direction he proposed.


said it must be apparent to the Committee that this was not an Amendment to the Government scheme, but was practically a new scheme. As far as he had been able to understand it, the main object of the Amendment was to do away with the outside experts who would be appointed by the County Council to aid them in the supervision of education. To these experts the Government attached a good deal of importance. They were strongly recommended by the Secondary Education Commission, who laid very great stress on the necessity of carrying out general education, which the County Council would have to do under this Bill, with the assistance of persons of knowledge and experience. Following the Report of the Secondary Education Commission, and entirely convinced by it, the Government had made provision in this Bill for the appointment of persons not members of the County Council, and, as had been indicated in the discussion on a former Amendment, they were prepared at the proper time to entertain an Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge that provision should be made for putting such persons upon the Committee. The effect of the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member would be to deprive the education authority of the assistance of such persons. There was a great deal to be said in favour of making Municipal Councils and County Councils the education authority. He quite admitted that, but the Government had deliberately adopted the other plan of not trusting the matter entirely to the Councils themselves, and giving them the opportunity, or rather directing them to avail themselves of experts to help them in their task. They would be appointed purely from an educational and not a partisan point of view; they would not be persons sitting in the interests of faction, but they would try and do their best in the interests of the county to which they belonged. He hoped the Committee would support the Government in giving effect to the views of the Royal Commission on Secondary Education, and would also support its own opinions, for in the discussion which they had just had there had been a very strong expression of opinion from all sides of the House that the Government should make provision for the representation of minorities. [An HON. MEMBER: "Religious."] It was not at all religious minorities; an hon. Member had mentioned labour, and there was a general desire on the part of the Committee that other interests connected with education should be represented on these Committees. Of course it would be quite impossible for the Government to undertake to consider the possibility of introducing the Amendment of the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge if this Amendment were carried. On those grounds he hoped the Committee would reject the Amendment.


pointed out that the effect of the Amendment would be to prevent any co-optative members sitting on the Committee of the educational authority. It was a matter of considerable importance that they should have provision made in this Bill for the admission of women upon the educational authority. It had been found in the experience of the larger School Boards that the women members had done certain work which it would be impossible to do otherwise, particularly in the case of Industrial Schools, and girls who were delegated to Industrial Schools. Although the unfortunate Amendment which was accepted by the Leader of the House had to a considerable extent altered the Bill in this respect, yet the education authority would rule over an area which would be on the whole rather a large area as compared with those governed by existing School Boards, and it was precisely in those largo areas where the work of women on School Boards had been found most valuable.

MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

thought the objection raised by his hon. Friend was a very grave one. He fancied that most Members of the House were becoming convinced that the time had come when the unintentional mistake of excluding women should be repaired. They had been most reluctantly driven, to recognise the County Council as the educational authority; they did not believe in it, but they had to make the best of a bad job. But there were grave dangers; if a County Council were elected with a small majority, but owing to the number of aldermen who might continue members of the Council the minority might be turned into a majority. It would, in such a case as ho had supposed, rest with the elected minority to appoint the Committee which would exercise the duties of education authority. He believed one of the great difficulties to which they were exposed arose from the optimism of the Vice President of the Council, who always assumed that the best thing would take place. It would, he thought, be better to make some allowance for human nature, and provide in the Bill a cure for anything that might be done wrong. As far as he knew, County Councils never knew whom to elect as aldermen, and he suggested as a way out of the difficulty that educational experts should be elected as aldermen to the County Council.

* MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)

said that by a ruling of the Chairman, which he did not desire to controvert, it was now not open to hon. Members to raise the question of the election of the educational authority. All that could be said in favour of the Amendment was that it was a better plan than that proposed by the Government. It appeared to him that under the scheme of the Bill there could be no direct communication between the managers of the schools and the ratepayer and the parent. Where the ratepayer or the parent had a ground of complaint against the management of a school, it would be impossible for them to ascertain where the responsibility for the management lay, and they would not be able to get rid of any manager by their votes or influence. The managers of the school would not be responsible to the ratepayer or to the parent, because they were placed in their position by the education authority, and these in their turn would not be responsible because they were appointed by the County Council and not elected. Then, again, the County Council would not be responsible because they were not elected as a whole as the educational authority, but were elected in wards and districts. He granted that the objection of the hon. Member for Devonport was a serious one. On the whole he should be inclined to support the Amendment. It was, however, very difficult to support this or any other Amendment unless they had the direct responsibility of a publicly elected body, otherwise they would never get any direct control over the school management.

SIR JOSEPH LEESE (Lancashire, Accrington)

said that by the decision of the Committee, the borough he represented had been placed in the position of being its own educational authority. If this Amendment were agreed to that borough would be deprived of the very valuable power of calling in the aid of experts to assist them in managing their schools. He was most unwilling that the borough should be deprived of that power; and, therefore, he found himself compelled to vote against the Amendment.

MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)

said that he also objected to the Amendment which would prevent County Councils from availing themselves of the assistance of experts in carrying into effect the provisions of this Bill. In his opinion the Committee would make a great mistake if they were to accept a provision of this kind that would exclude all non-elected experts from advising those councils and would prevent the councils from going outside their own bodies for assistance. In the case of Welsh education great advantage had resulted from the assistance which had been given to the Welsh educational authority by a gentleman who was outside of that body. What had happened in one case would happen in other cases and the brilliant results of the adoption of that method of proceeding would not be forgotten by the Welsh people. If this Amendment were carried it would be impossible for the example he had referred to to be followed. He thought that County Councils ought to be allowed to have the assistance of experts for the sake of education and in the true interests of the people.


supported the Amendment. He was wholly against the principle of co-optation. What was wanted was to secure that the people should be properly represented upon the body that was to form the educational authority. They ought to go upon the principle that in the matter of elementary education the people of a locality were perfectly able to select their representatives for themselves and to place upon the body that was to act as such educational body those who had special knowledge of and sympathy with the work of education. He objected to the principle of co-optation being adopted as far as elementary education was concerned. The position of the County Councils was perfectly intelligible. As regarded secondary education, it might perhaps be desirable to place experts upon the body constituting the educational authority. What they wanted to do was to secure the education of the children. The Vice-President was perfectly right in wanting experts for the purposes of secondary and of primary education. Women sat on boards of guardians and School Boards; why on earth, instead of having this fantastic system of co-optation, which would exclude women, should not the Government introduce a Bill for the extension of the School Board system, for proper areas, without cumulative voting, bringing in women, providing the best machinery for obtaining experts, and thus securing the educational results which they all cared for. These discussions had illustrated the impracticability of dealing with the question from every point of view but that of education. If they dealt with it from that point of view, cast aside all fanciful divisions according to sects and crochets, and devoted themselves to devising the best machinery to secure the best men and women, they might easily produce a satisfactory scheme. As far as the Amendment went in getting rid of co-optation it had his support.

MR. E. STRACHEY (Somerset, S.)

hoped that his hon. Friend would press his Amendment to a division. He could not understand the grounds on which his hon. Friend the Member for the Flint Boroughs refused to give his support to the Amendment. The hon. Member spoke of the principle of narrow Party considerations, but it seemed to him that narrow Party considerations might equally well come into play on the question of co-optation as on the question of County Councils alone. He thought that something might be urged from the point of view of leaving the question optional to the County Council, that was to say whether they might be left to co-optation or not. The Leader of the House had told the Committee that the Government intended to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cambridge University. In Sub-section 3 of that Amendment, line 10, it was provided that the Education Department were to be satisfied that the scheme made one provision for the inclusion of Members not being Members of the County Council, so that, the Amendment being accepted by the Government the optional power given to the County Council by the Bill as it stood was destroyed. He thought that the Committee would see hon. Members were in a different position in discussing this Amendment now from what they would have been if the Government had stuck to their Bill. It was proposed in the Bill to give the County Councils very large powers indeed of spending the money which was supplied to them from the Imperial Exchequer. It was difficult enough in the present condition of things to get the ratepayers and their representatives to spend these subventions with economy, and if the Committee removed practically all check by handing these great subventions over to a body not wholly composed of elected representatives of the ratepayers' extravagance, difficulty and great dissatisfaction would result. It was rather remarkable that not one hon. Member representing a County division on the Government side had intervened in the Debate, and he should be surprised if any County Member would say that from past experience obtained on the County Council the principle of co-optation was either liked or considered to be desirable. Upon the ground that the proposal now before the Committee might very likely lead to extravagance, and almost certainly lead to further increase in local rates, already too high, he hoped the Amendment would be pressed to a division in the interests of the overburdened ratepayer.

MR. B. L. COHEN (Islington E.)

said that as a London member he ought to support the Amendment because no argument more irresistible for special treatment to London could be advanced than the passing of such an Amendment. If one could conceive the London County Council being the Education Committee the First Lord of the Treasury would at once see the paramount necessity of according special treatment to London in order to avoid such a grotesque absurdity. Inasmuch, however, as they had not at present got exceptional treatment for London it was impossible to accept an Amendment which would cast upon County Councils generally, duties which, as at present constituted, they were not capable adequately of discharging.

MR. R. W. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)

was of opinion that the Amendment, if adopted, would conduce to the efficiency of education in the rural dis- tricts. The adoption of the Amendment would prevent a very nice little party arrangement in many County Councils. Under the scheme of the Bill, the Education Committee would in many cases be little bodies packed by parsons, who would be put there for the purpose of bolstering up the Voluntary Schools in the rural districts. It was better the electors should choose their representatives directly, and that they should shut the door against the entrance of the clerical element to the new bodies.

MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton),

as bearing on the Amendment, asked the meaning of the words in the clause, "the County Council acting by the Committee" (the Education Committee) "shall be and is in this Act referred to as the Education Authority for the County." What would be the exact relation of the Committee to the County Councils? He imagined that the County Council would be supreme, just as the Technical Education Board of the London County Council was subject to the Council. While the Technical Education Board was left pretty well alone, yet the Council held the whip-hand and there was no action of the board which would not come within the purview of the Council. If his interpretation of the relation of the Committee was correct, then it was merely a Committee of the County Council with co-opted members for a certain purpose, and that was a different situation, because the control of the ratepayers' money for instance, would be in the hands of the County Council and not of this body. That women should be admitted as County Councillors was a proposition he had always favoured, but it was highly contentious and could not be introduced just now. Women, however, could get in as co-opted members, and he should be sorry to see that door shut against them, particularly if, as he understood, the meaning of the clause was what he had attempted to describe. This difficulty of getting education experts and women on the education authority, was one of the Government's own creation. On the existing School Boards and Technical Instruction Boards there were both the education experts and women; and the whole difficulty was caused by the Government throwing over these bodies.


said that in respect of finance the Education Committee would be entirely under the County Council itself. It would have no financial power of any kind, except as to the spending of such sums as might be provided by the County Council. As to the general position of the Committee, he could best illustrate it by saying that it was intended to have the same position with regard to the County Council as the Watch Committee in a municipal borough had with regard to the Town Council. The Watch Committee was a statutory committee, which had existed ever since the Municipal Corporations Act was passed, and it had worked extremely well. The position of the Education Committee would thus be quite different from that of the Technical Instruction Boards which the County Councils had established. They had no statutory existence, but were the mere creatures of the County Councils, to whom they reported all their proceedings. It was through the Education Committee only that the County Council was to act in the discharge of the functions conferred upon it by the Bill in respect to education.

MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)

said that the Watch Committee of a borough council was elected out of the members of the council. There was no co-optation or bringing in of outsiders. That arrangement had the effect of still subjecting the Watch Committee in a large measure to the control of the Council itself, although it was a statutory committee, and its decisions did not require the ratification of the Council. One of the chief arguments against the Amendment was that, without some system of co-optation, it would be impossible to secure the assistance of women on the Education Committees. But if women were to be admitted to the County Councils, it was better to deal with the question on a general footing and not in relation to this particular Committee only. Further, he saw no reason for asking for the assistance of women on the Education Committees. The Education Department did its work very well without such assistance. As to necessity for adding outside experts, surely if the County Council were fit to appoint, they were fit to act. No doubt, members of the present County Councils had not been elected with reference to educational matters; but it was obvious that as soon as the Bill was passed, one the most important functions of the County Council would be the care of education, and members would be elected for their qualification in that respect. There might be great force in the argument that the County Council was too large a body to act itself in these matters, if the Council had not the power to appoint any members of committees out of its own body. The Glamorgan County Council had 88 members, but in all important matters committees for special purposes were appointed. To such committee a Council could give complete control where they thought it advisable, or they could withhold it. The Local Government Act provided that every committee appointed by a County Council should report its proceedings to the Council, Of course, the one great principle which underlaid the Amendment was that in these matters they ought to intrust the power to the people's representatives. The Government did that in name, but whenever they could they curtailed the powers of the people by allowing the County Councils to co-opt members. If the County Council became the education authority they would be bound to appoint inspectors. What further experts could they require? He submitted that the Amendment was perfectly sound in principle, and that the Bill would be much improved by its adoption.

MR. H. H. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)

confessed that when the Amendment was moved, he had considerable doubt as to whether the adoption of it would materially improve the provisions of the Bill. It did not appear to him as he then understood the construction of the Bill it would make a very substantial difference whether the County Council were declared to be the authority or whether the County Council acting by a committee were to be the education authority, nor did he think if they were to adopt the Amendment it would preclude the addition of words to the clause which would enable the County Council, although itself the supreme and ultimate authority, to delegate to some committee its powers, or to act in some other manner which would involve the admission of women and outsiders. But since the statement which had been elicited from the Vice President the whole situation had completely changed. ["Hear, hear!"] They now learned for the first time that the committee which was to be appointed under the clause, instead of being a committee of the County Council, subject and subordinate to that body, was to be a sovereign authority, that it was to stand in the same position as, and to exercise analogous functions to those of, the Watch Committee under the Municipal Corporations Act. He had read the Bill carefully, and up to this moment he had failed to discover a single provision to suggest that the Education Committee was to be like a Watch Committee. If it had been intended to place this committee in the sovereign and independent position the hon. Gentleman suggested it was to have, if it was to be, as regarded education, an imperium in imperio, the words should be, "The committee shall be the education authority." He unhesitatingly asserted that this committee was, so far as the language of the Bill provided, in exactly the same position as every other committee appointed by the County Council. In view of the extraordinary revelation of the unexpressed purposes of the Government in relation to this clause he should find himself compelled to vote with his hon. Friend.

CAPTAIN BETHELL (Yorkshire, E.R, Holderness)

pointed out that owing to the ambiguity of the Local Government Act of 1888 great difficulty had arisen as to the powers of Standing Joint Committees and Asylum Visiting Committees. As regarded the Education Committee, however, he drew the exactly opposite conclusion from the speech of his right hon. Friend to that drawn by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He understood his right hon. Friend to say that the new Committee would be like a Watch Committee, which could not be dissolved by the Council, but which, nevertheless, would be subordinate to the Council, in the sense that it would have to report its proceedings to the Council. He believed every Committee which reported its proceedings to a Council had to have those proceedings confirmed by a Council.


remarked that that was perfectly true as regarded the proceedings of all other Committees except those of a Watch Committee. The proceedings of a Watch Committee did not require confirmation.


said he was thinking of a Standing Joint Committee which, of course, was entirely independent. The Education Committee was to be a Statutory Committee, but its proceedings were, he understood his right hon. Friend to say, to be approved by the Council from which it derived its existence. [Cries of "No, no!"] Then it was well the point should be cleared up.

SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)

This is one of the most vital questions that can be raised. You are going to create a new authority which, in certain cases, is to have absolute power over the Board Schools and other schools of the country. A short time ago the right hon. Gentleman was asked what would be the character of this Committee, and I have a perfect recollection that the answer was that the Committee would be like other Committees of the Council. I said at the time— That is a very important matter, because, of course, if that is so, they will have to report all their transactions to the County Council That has been the impression in the country. ["Hear, hear!"] I observe that the Executive Council of the County Councils Association are to come to a determination in reference to this Bill on Friday next. Let us and the County Councils know what the position really is in reference to this matter. If the Committee is to be independent of the County Council, if it is not to report to the Council, if the Council is not to have any authority over it, it is well the County Councils should know it, for it may be a very important element in the determination at which they will arrive. I venture to say there is not a County Council in the country that is not under a totally different impression. I venture to say, too that every Member of the House was under the same impression as the County Councils until the statement of the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon. The Bill is like the chameleon—it assumes new aspects every moment. [Laughter.]The statement of the Vice President certainly comes to us as a surprise and as a most overwhelming additional argument against the constitution of this authority. It has been put forward that this authority is to be the authority of the elect of the ratepayers. One-half of this body minus one not to be elected by the ratepayers at all, a body which is not responsible to the ratepayers, and which gives no account of its transactions to the popular body—the County Council. That is a very serious matter, and therefore I hope the right hon. Gentleman will make it perfectly clear what is to be the exact position of this body in relation to the Council. It has been understood that the County Council is the education authority. (Sir J. GORST: "Acting through a Committee?") Yes, acting through a Committee. County Councils act through a great many Committees. If you had used apt words you would have said, "Every County Council shall appoint an Education Committee, and when appointed that Committee shall be the education authority." That is not what you have said. You have said the County Council shall appoint an Education Committee, but the County Council, acting through that Committee, shall be the education authority. You must forgive us and the County Councils if our reading of the Bill has led us to look upon the County Council as the supreme authority. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us a statement which will leave no doubt whatever as to the real relation of the Committee to the County Council.


said the question of the relation of the County Council to this particular Committee does not really arise on this Amendment, except incidentally.


What we want is a statement that the County Council and not its agent is the supreme authority. As to what the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite said in respect to the Standing Joint Committee, I would suggest to him [Cries of "Order!"]—

VISCOUNT CRANBORNE rose to a point of order. He understood the Chairman had ruled that this discussion was not in order. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"]


said he did not rule that the Debate was entirely out of order. What he intended to say was that it might be referred to incidentally, but that, properly speaking, questions upon the relation between the County Council and the Committee, if appointed, arose at a later stage upon the words "acting by that Committee." The Amendment, if adopted, would preclude the County Council from appointing a committee at all.


May I make a personal explanation? I did not think that it was relevant to discuss this matter except incidentally. I was asked a question, and I answered it as briefly and as clearly as I could by saying that the position, of this Committee would be analogous to that of a Watch Committee. The right hon. Gentleman has asked me a further question, which I understand I should not be in order in now answering. ["Oh, oh!"] I shall obey the Chairman, and not hon. Gentlemen opposite. When we come to the next words I shall be prepared to make the matter as clear as I can.


pointed out that his Amendment would make the County Council the education authority, and he certainly would not have moved it had he not taken the view of the effect of the section which the right hon. Gentleman opposite took.


said he now understood that this Committee was to be as independent of the County Council as the Watch Committee of a borough was of the Town Council, and therefore he would be obliged to vote for the Amendment, although by so doing he would exclude experts. He apologised if his question had caused any digression, but he thought it had been useful in clearing up the point.

SIR J. T. WOODHOUSE (Huddersfield)

said the Vice President had stated that the reports of the Education Committee of the County Council would be governed by Clause 82, Sub-section 2 of the Local Government Act of 1888. In reply to another question, the right hon. Gentleman evasively replied that the proceedings of the committee would be governed by the general law. It was quite clear the right hon. Gentleman did not appreciate what the provisions of the general law were. Those provisions were that a County Council might, or might not, delegate to any of its Committees full and plenary powers. The right hon. Gentleman maintains that the Committee to be appointed by the County Council is to have absolutely plenary and independent powers, and it was not to be within the discretion of the County Council as to whether the proceedings of the Committee were to be submitted to the Council or not. Again, the right hon. Gentleman failed to appreciate that there was a very important difference between the proceedings of County Councils under the Local Government Act of 1888 and of a Committee of a Municipal Town Council. The Municipal Corporations Act of 1882 gave no power to a Corporation to delegate to one of its Councils plenary powers.


said his first intention was to vote against the Amendment, because he was under the impression that the Councils would have the same control over the Education Committees as over any other Committee appointed by them. But the explana- tion of the Vice President to the effect that the Educational Committees would be independent of the Councils that elected them, had led him to change his views in regard to the Amendment, and he should now vote for it. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. JOSEPH A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)

said he objected to the power of control being taken away to any extent from the ratepayers. In his own county the Technical Education Committee had declined to co-opt any members, and the result had been eminently satisfactory. Experience had shown that on most County Councils there were a sufficient number of men competent to administer the work of technical education at any rate, and co-optation was, therefore, unnecessary. In cases where the advice of experts on educational matters had been needed it had been easily obtained, and he believed the advice of those experts had been, rendered all the stronger by the fact that they were not members of the Committee. The County Councils, he contended, would be unable to fully and satisfactorily fulfil the duties in relation to primary education which it was intended to impose upon them. The result would be that in many cases the powers would be delegated, and in that case they should be delegated, if delegated at all, to bodies directly representative of the people, and not to a Committee independent of the Council that appointed it. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (York, W. R., Rotherham)

said that apparently some surprise was felt by the Vice President that hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House did not understand clearly the arrangement as to the powers of the County Councils under the Bill. He should like to quote a few words from a letter which had been written by a Member of the Government, for that letter would show that they were perfectly right in understanding the Bill as they had understood it up to the last hour or two. The Secretary of the Colonies wrote a letter to a Mr. Ansell on the subject, in which he said:— Coming now to the special objections taken by you I find myself unable to agree with your first point in regard to the constitution of the new educational authority. This authority will be a Statutory Committee elected by the Town or County Council, which are at present the most representative and popular local bodies in the boroughs and counties. The majority of the new committee will be members of the Council directly elected by the people, and the minority will be selected as in the case of the Free Libraries Committee. —a very different body from the Watch Committee. ["Hear, hear!"]— for special reasons and because they are exceptionally qualified to deal with educational matters. They will be subject to the general instruction of the Council. [Cheers.] [Are any Watch Committees subject to the general instruction of the Councils?]— and they will no doubt report to it like other committees, so that their proceedings will be public and subject to popular criticism and control. [Cheers.] He would go a little further to see how the proposals in the Bill carried out the proposals of the Birmingham League of 1870— This provision," said the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Colonies, "of the Bill is in accordance with the principles advocated by the Birmingham League of 1870. We then contended strenuously that the Town Council should be the controlling authority in regard to primary education, and we protested against the creation of a new local authority [That was the School Board]— elected under the exceptional provision of the cumulative vote, and therefore not likely to be in any true sense of the word representative of the ratepayers. The right hon. Gentleman finished up in order to show how this Bill was going to put power into the hands of the County Councils. He added:— As a Liberal, therefore—(ironical cheers)— I hold now, as I did in 1870, that the Town Council and County Council in agricultural districts are much better qualified to represent public opinion than the present School Board authority. On that particular point they did not agree with the Secretary of the Colonies, but as Liberals they said that if it was intended, as they had only just learned was to be the case, to place the powers referred to in the hands of an independent Committee, on the analogy of the Watch Committee, they agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that the Town Councils and the County Councils would be better for the purpose than any proposition of that kind. [Cheers.]


The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has gathered from a letter from the Secretary of the Colonies, written two months ago, that, in the opinion of the Government, the Town Council will be the controlling authority in the matter of education, I think it will be. I entirely agree with the views of my right hon. Friend the Vice President, and I cannot see any inconsistency between what he has now stated and what he said on the occasion of the First Heading of the Bill. I now learn for the first time that hon. Gentlemen opposite are of opinion that the Borough Councils in the country have not the control of their police. I have always thought that with regard to police matters these bodies were autonomous. [''Hear, hear!"] It is shown by the Debates that took place on the Act of 1888 that the boroughs were not to be deprived of the control of their police through the medium of the Watch Committee. Precisely in the same way as it has always been admitted that boroughs have control of their police, the County Councils will have control over the educational system and the Committees under this Bill. The hon. Member for Mayo and other hon. Members have made an appeal in favour of the protection of minorities under the operation of the Bill, and satisfaction was expressed at the suggestion we made with a view of providing that protection; but the protection would be absolutely swept away and would become worthless if hon. Gentlemen opposite insist on modifying the Bill in the manner proposed by the mover of the Amendment. [''Hear, hear!"] On the question of procedure I think the Committee may now be permitted to deal with the Amendment, and if hon. Members desire or think it necessary at a later stage to introduce terms to the effect that the Education Committee should report to the County Council it will be open for them to do so. In the meantime let us adhere to the Amendment before us and take a decision upon it. [Cheers.]


I hope the right hon. Gentleman will tell the Committee whether he is going to decide in favour of the Vice President of the Council or of the Secretary of the Colonies, because anything more absolutely antagonistic than their statements on this question it is impossible to conceive. [Cheers.] As to postponing the question, it is certainly one that ought not to be postponed. [Cheers.] Are the County Councils of England to wait until January next before they have any definite information as to how they are to stand with respect to this educational authority? [Cheers.] We have a right to know this afternoon what the position of the Councils is to be. [Cheers.] We have a right to claim that the Government should make—what they have not made—a clear declaration on the subject. Nothing could be more distinct than the statement quoted by my hon. Friend behind me some weeks ago on this subject. He referred to the Act of Parliament and to the general law with reference to Committees of County Councils, and said that that was the position of this Committee which was to be the educational authority. That is absolutely inconsistent with the statement that it was to resemble a Watch Committee. I do not criticise the fact; it is natural enough that the Leader of the House should not be quite familiar with the constitution of a Watch Committee. But then my right hon. Friend behind me and I myself, who have occupied the position of Home Secretary, know very well what a Watch Committee is and how absolutely it differs in its character from any other Committee of a borough or County Council. The essence of a Watch Committee is that it is independent of a Borough Council in its action in dealing with the police, and when it was proposed to give to the County Councils power over the police I remember that difficulties were raised and the expedient of a Joint Committee of two independent authorities was hit upon. There is all the difference in the world between an ordinary Committee of a County or Borough Council and the Watch Committee. The Colonial Secretary left no doubt as to what he meant. He said:— The new committee will be members of the Council directly elected by the people. He did not contemplate at that time the introduction of any members not popularly elected. [Cries of ''Yes."] I am wrong there. [Ministerial cheers.] He goes on to say— The minority will be selected, as in the case of the Free Libraries Committee, for special reasons and because they are exceptionally qualified to deal with educational matters. They will be subject to the general instructions of the Council and will, no doubt, report to it like other Committees. What we want to know is, whether that is going to be the case with this Committee. Is this Committee, or is it not, to be subject to the instructions of the County or Borough Council and is it to report to them? Really the Government must want to let the country know how this authority is going to stand. That is what we have asked, and I am bound to say that we have not received certainly a definite answer from the Leader of the House.


I thought I was clear enough. [Cheers.]


I dare say it is my obtuseness. [Ministerial Cheers.] Perhaps the noble Lord the Member for Rochester can give me the answer. [Cheers.] He is a guiding authority, I know, on this Bill. [Laughter.] I ask the right hon. Gentleman to answer me in a simple and plain form whether this Committee will be subject to the general instructions of the Council and will report to it like other Committees.


I thought I had already given the right hon. Gentleman the answer he asks for. [Cheers.] Both in and out of this House we habitually talk about the boroughs having control of their police. In that sense the Borough Councils will have the control of education. And I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that a precisely similar provision to the one presented in this Bill occurs in the Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889, in which he will find in Section 6, Sub-section 1, the words— the acts and proceedings of the Committee shall not be required to be submitted to the Town Council for their approval.


said that as reference had been made to the provisions affecting Watch Committees, he would like to point out that the words of the Act of Parliament—the Municipal Corporations Act—appointing that Committee, were totally different to the words of this Bill. In this Bill it said that the County Council should appoint an Education Committee, but all the powers given under the Bill were given to the education authority, and what the Bill went on to say was that— the County Council acting by that Committee shall be and is referred to in this Act as the educational authority. In Clause 13, where they had the words education authority used, practically it meant, according to these words, the County Council acting by the Committee, no doubt. It was very different in the Municipal Corporations Act with reference to the police. It did not say that the Borough Council should have the control of the police acting through its Watch Committee, but it compelled the Borough Council to appoint the Watch Committee, and it laid down that the Watch Committee, and the Watch Committee alone, could deal with the police.


They are removable at any moment.


said that constituted the difference between the Watch Committee and the Committee under this Bill. He should like to ask the Solicitor General whether, according to his view, the legal construction of the words would be that this Committee would be independent of the County Council. The Education Committee, they knew by this Measure, was proposed to be elected not for such time as the Council might think fit, but for a period of three years. He would like to know from the hon. and learned Gentleman whether this Bill, as drafted, making the County Council the authority, although, no doubt, acting through a Committee— whether, after all, the County Council was not the authority. A fair test of that would be that if the Bill passed in its present form, assume an inspector to have been appointed to carry out the duties of an inspector under Clause 3. By whom could the inspector be dismissed? Could the inspector be dismissed I by this Committee of the County Council, or would it have the power of the County Council to dismiss the inspector? If by the Committee and not the Council, then in that important matter the Committee was not under the control of the Council, but was entirely independent.


I will answer the question which has been addressed to me by my hon. and learned Friend, though I do not think I can add anything to the clearness of the explanation given by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. The Committees appointed under such an Act as the Municipal Corporations Act are of two classes. One set of Committees report to the Council, and their acts require confirmation by the Council. The other Committee, the Watch Committee, acts independently—[Opposition cheers]—but it is the case of the Borough Council acting through the Watch Committee. [Cries of "No!"] My hon. and learned Friend may be aware that at one time it was not uncommon for a considerable number of, sometimes all, the members of the Council to serve on the Watch Committee. Now the number is restricted, but the Council acts through the Watch Committee. With reference to the construction of the Bill, I can only refer to two or three sections to show that the view put forward by my right hon. Friend the Vice President is correct. The first section says that the County Council— acting by that Committee shall be and is in this Act referred to as the education authority for the county. The second section provides that— the powers of a County Council as a local authority under the Technical Instruction Act, 1896, shall, except as to raising money, be exercised through the education committee. and, further, that the disposition of the residue under the Local Taxation Act, 1896, is to be through the Education Committee of the county. The 16th Section was referred to by my right hon. Friend opposite, and he quoted the fourth sub-section of it as showing that— the enactments relating to the committees of a County Council shall apply to the education committee. But then that is safeguarded by the words, ''save as otherwise provided by this Act," and subsequently it goes on— the Local Government Board may make regulations for adopting the provisions with respect to expenditure and audit to the expenditure of a joint committee of two or more county councils. I answer, therefore, that the County Council in this matter, under the Bill as drafted, would act through this Education Committee, and that the analogy of the Watch Committee is strictly accurate. [Cheers.]


Would it have any voice in the appointment or dismissal of an inspector?


The acts must be done by the Council through the Committee. If the County Council must act through the Committee, it is perfectly obvious that they cannot take any action except through the machinery of the Act.


The hon. and learned Solicitor General has dealt with the question with the candour which we are accustomed to expect from him, but I am bound to say, with all possible deference, that his premisses do not appear in the least degree to support the conclusions he has drawn. The provisions of the Bill he has referred to as exempting this Committee from the responsibility of ordinary Committees to report to the Council are simply provisions which require or provide that the Council should act through the Committee. In other words, this Committee is to be the executive organ of the Council in relation to education, but when a large deliberative body of this kind has power under an Act of Parliament to appoint an executive organ it loses all control over its proceedings. That is the sum and substance of my hon. and learned Friend's contention. I do not wish unnecessarily to prolong this discussion, but I must briefly allude to two points made by the First Lord of the Treasury, who, I think, did not answer, and has not yet answered, the very plain question put to him by the Leader of the Opposition. We want to know whether the Committee will or will not be liable to report to the Council, and whether its proceedings will or will not be subject to its approval. [Cheers.] The First Lord of the Treasury has not answered that question, but he has referred us to the analogy of the Watch Committee, and to that extent nobody will be surprised that the boroughs of this country do govern their own police. But how and through what agency do they govern them? They govern them through a Committee, an absolutely independent authority, the Watch Committee appointed from the Town Council and from among the elected representatives of the ratepayers. [Cheers.] But here in this Bill you are going to call into existence a Committee a large proportion of which, at any rate, will not be elected by the ratepayers at all. [Cheers.] They will be co-opted members only, selected by an indirect process of election, and, therefore, although it is true that a borough—not through the Town Council, but through a body chosen from among the Town Council— governs its own police, it will not be true that the ratepayers of the county boroughs will govern their own educational affairs if this Joint Committee is to be constituted the sovereign authority. ["Hear, hear!"] The only other point the right hon. Gentleman made was one derived from the Welsh Intermediate Education Act. He called attention to the fact that under that Act there is a Joint Committee appointed partly by the County Council and partly nominated by the Lord President, which is not required to report to the County Councils by whom it is partly appointed. But what are the functions of this Committee? It was appointed for three years to deal with a transitory state of things, to frame schemes to be submitted for the ultimate regulation of the intermediate education system of the Principality, but this Act gave no authority whatever for bringing into existence for all time and handing over the educational interests of the country to any such body as is proposed in this Bill. [''Hear, hear!"] I hope I have sufficiently disposed of these misleading analogies, and I do trust before we go to a Division some Member of the Treasury Bench will tell us whether or not he and they agree with the Secretary of State for the Colonies that these Committees are to be subject to the control of and report to the County Council. ["Hear, hear!"]

* SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)

said this was undoubtedly a most important practical question, and he should like to say a word upon it. He thought the Bill was right and also the interpretation, of the Bill as given from the Government Bench. With regard to the question of interpretation, in the wording there might be some doubt, which was increased by the fact that in the Municipal Corporations Act, in determining the duties of Watch Committees, there were express words saying its proceedings should not be liable to confirmation. But there was a great distinction between confirmation and reporting, and though the minutes of the Watch Committees were not to be confirmed according to the statute, they were in many cases habitually reported for the opinion of the Council, so that during the term that such Committees might hold office the whole of their proceedings would come before the Council, although they might not have to be confirmed. The Council, therefore, would have full knowledge of the course of conduct of the Committee, and might take it into account when electing or re-electing that body. In reply to what had been said as to this provision not being understood by the Corporations, he had to say that the Bill had been considered and fully discussed by the Municipal Corporations Association at their recent meeting, and so thoroughly was it understood, that the argument was used that the term of the Committee was too long, and would prevent any speedy change being made if their policy should be at variance with that of the Council. To remedy this he had, on the recommendation of the Association, placed an Amendment on the Paper limiting that term to one year. He hoped that Amendment would be entertained, and that there would thus be provided a rapid means of checking any divergence of policy or action between the Council on the one hand, and the Committee on the other. Something had been said about the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, that the Committee would have its instructions and have to report. Those were very general words, and he did not think they were strictly applicable to the case in view. He did not think they absolutely correctly expressed what the effect of the provision was, but if they limited the term to one year they had practically general control, and if, upon the appointment of the Committee the views and instructions of the Council were not followed, that Committee could be changed, and thus they had the control desired by hon. Members opposite. He passed from the municipal to the educational point of view, and he was going to ask the Committee whether it thought that educational control by the whole Council would have the effect of benefitting education? He took the opposite view. He thought they would agree that wherever a body had the control it also ought to have adequate knowledge of the facts, circumstances and responsibility, and one of the strongest points which had been raised by the Opposition with regard to the question of County Councils acting in this matter at all, was that the Council might not be possessed fully with knowledge and have also a sense of responsibility. He agreed to a large extent. What would happen if they had a Committee part of which only was composed of members of the Council and the other part of external experts not belonging to the Council at all? They would have an Educational Committee with full knowledge, after full discussion, and with the guidance of experts submitted to—to be over-ruled possibly by—a Council which did not possess experts and would not have the same knowledge, from an educational point of view, for dealing with the subject. One point in which he differed from many hon. Members was his strong objection to any checking of educational progress. If he believed the effect of this Bill would be to check education, he would not give it the support he was doing. He believed, on the contrary, that municipal action would vastly improve education, and by this means also improve their Councils by attracting better men. But he contended that if they gave this power of supervision and control to a Council not possessed of the information, not taking part in periodical discussions, and deprived of external expert assistance, they would damage the cause of education. In addition, experts chosen for the sake of their educational knowledge, would not join a Committee which was liable to be overruled without any opportunity of being heard, for there would be no independence at all in such a case. Therefore he submitted that the interpretation of the Bill was right, and in giving statutory independence to the Committee, and in acting municipally through a Committee, they would achieve the best benefits for education.


remarked that it did not appear to him that there was much difference between the hon. and learned Gentleman who had last spoken and the Opposition. What the hon. Gentleman wanted, as he understood, was to keep in the hands of the Council the control of this Committee, and the way he desired to do that was by having the power to turn them out once a year. [Laughter.] That was one way of doing it. On the other hand, the hon. Gentleman had announced with confidence that the Bill stated that the Committee was, in a statutory sense, independent of the Council. But where in the Bill did it say so? [Cheers.] That was just what they wanted to know. The Solicitor General had referred to certain sections as justifying him in that opinion, but he agreed with the late Home Secretary that the instances given by the hon. and learned Gentleman in no way appeared to support his opinion. There had been no answer given to the question put by three of his right hon. Friends in the course of this Debate, as to whether this Committee would have to report to the Council. [Cheers.] They ought to have an answer to that question. They understood precisely what position a Watch Committee was in in that respect, and they were not to be put off by being told that this Committee was in the position of a Watch Committee. They desired to know would this Committee have to report to the Council or not? ["Hear, hear!]


pointed out that, while the Watch Committee appointed and dismissed constables and did not report to the Council in such cases, it did so in regard to the pay of the constables or the provision of necessary buildings for their accommodation, so that the Council had pecuniary control over the action of the Watch Committee.

MR. T. BAYLEY (Derbyshire, Chesterfield)

could not see how this Committee could be turned out in a year if it had never reported to the Council. It could be only on a Report that the Council could know what had been the policy of the Committee, and it could only act on such Report. They were asking that the Committee should report yearly or periodically.


That is not the question before the Committee at all. There is no such Amendment, and the sole question is whether the County Council shall or shall not appoint the Committee for the purpose of this Act.


observed that the idea of the Government seemed to be that they should appoint an Educational Committee which should meet in secret, report to nobody, and yet have power to incur expenditure which the rates of the local authorities would have to pay. He supported the Amendment.


submitted that, it having been established beyond a shadow of doubt that the Education Committee was a permanent authority which would only include a fraction of the County Council, the rest of its members having no connection with the County Council, hon. Members opposite should share his view that the County Council should be the educational authority. The library committee of any local body had already the power of co-optation, and a clause or sub-clause might be introduced into the Bill by which the Education Committee, being a subordinate committee of the County Council, might have the power to introduce into its number education experts. With regard to the non-inclusion of women, he believed that, if the Bill passed with his Amendment, it would lead to the introduction by the Leader of the House, who was such a devoted champion of women's suffrage, of a Measure to provide for the casus omissus of the Local Government Act of 1888 and allow women to sit on County Councils. He believed he spoke the feelings of every Member on that side when he said that they rested their belief in the advantages of local government, not upon co-optative bodies, but on popular representation. ["Hear, hear!"]


said that his opinion, like that of the Members for East Fife and Hoxton, had been changed by the speech of the Vice President of the Council; and he would support the Amendment. The Leader of the House appealed to the hon. Member for East Mayo to vote against the Amendment, saying that Roman Catholics would be more benefited by leaving the Bill as it stood. That was precisely the reverse of the fact. The greatest safeguard they could have would be to get a stray Member or two elected by some ward of small area where Catholics were in a majority. If the educational authority was appointed by the Town Council as a whole Catholics would have no safeguard whatever.

Question put, "That the words 'appoint an' stand part of the clause."—

The Committee divided:—Ayes 293, Noes 118.—(Division List, No. 247.)


said the next Amendment in order was that of the hon. Member for Hoxton.


moved in Sub-section (17) to leave out the words "this Act" and to insert instead thereof "education other than elementary," so that the clause should provide that each Council should appoint an Education Committee "for the purpose of education other than elementary." He said this Amendment opened up a large and serious subject and it was rendered more important than before by the intimation they had received from the Government. As it was now too late to state the arguments for the Amendment, he would move to report Progress, but he understood it was considered convenient that the Amendment should first be moved. He therefore formally moved the Amendment.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.