§ Order Read, for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [11th February], "That, the Bill be now Read a second time":—
§ And which Amendment was, to leave out from the word 'That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "no Bill will be satisfactory to this House which does not provide for Board Schools as well as Voluntary Schools."—(Mr. McKenna.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question." Debate resumed by—
*MR. F. A. CHANGING (Northampton, E.)
, who had upon the Paper the following Amendment to the proposed Amendment—at end to add the words,and which does not provide for local representative control in the case of all schools receiving the aid grant.416 He said that Education was the one question on which the people held clear and definite convictions, and had a right, to know what was being done, but the Bill of the Government was most obscure and indefinite, and withheld from the public the details with which they had a right to be acquainted. They had a right also to extort from the Government full time for the consideration of the details of this Measure. He thought they were indebted to the noble Lord the Member for Rochester and the hon. Member for Tunbridge for the light which they had thrown upon, the intentions of this Bill. The noble Lord was identified with, the Church House scheme which, though rejected with scorn by the Tory Press last autumn, was at least a complete scheme to secure not denominationalism but the future of the Voluntary Schools. But the present Bill, as a temporary Measure, was wholly inadequate to fulfil the intentions which the noble Lord had at heart. It could only be accepted by him because it gave a fighting fund—a sort of secret service money to be administered at the discretion of irresponsible bodies to further his object. It was accepted, not on its merits, but avowedly as the initial step in legislation designed to attack the principle of the popular control of education. The Bill was meant to mask the main attack. The hon. Member for Tunbridge had tried to identify the friends of the Board Schools with opposition to religious teaching; but let them remember the words of the late Archbishop of Canterbury, who had said that they would get on a great deal faster if people would cease their futile denunciations of Board Schools, in a great number of which, he was persuaded, very good religious teaching was given. What hon. Members opposite wanted was specific denominational, dogmatic teaching. When they looked at the syllabus of the Board Schools in London, or in his own Division, they found that the children were instructed in what was most suited to their tender years, they were taught not any cut-and-dried catechism, but the tender, sympathetic words of the Bible: the Sermon on the Mount, the moral lessons of the Parables, and the pathetic and infinitely eloquent words of our Lord. These were things which appealed directly to the highest instincts of child life. They 417 had a right to challenge the hon. Gentle-man as to what was the scope of the religious teaching which he wanted this Bill to extend. That House was a temple of fairplay. They were reluctant to believe in oppression. But he had a right to ask whether the hon. Gentleman approved of teaching questions and answers such as were inculcated in the notorious catechism of Dr. Gace? Would he approve the words of a Canon in the West of England, who said:—We cannot, we dare not, go to chapel; it is against God's will that the chapel exists." "The place itself exists in defiance of God's design. … Dissent is a state of things which God abhors"?He was sorry to inflict such quotations on the House, and he thought hon. Members opposite would regard them with the same contempt as he did, but he had the right to challenge them to say whether this was the sort of teaching which was to be forced on the simple minds of our English children. In the Church Lad's Brigade, a monthly paper, he found these words:—It is simply sinful for any Churchman to become a Dissenter. God has shown us in His Word that Dissent is no part of His plan, but distinctly against His will.The hon. Member opposite disclosed his view—he wanted to get rid of that bogey of the extreme Church party (but not of the moderate Churchman), the Cowper-Temple Clause. He distrusted the ethics of infallibility. The man, or the Church, who claimed infallibility advanced stage by stage from proselytism to persecution. They were not unfamiliar with this phase even in the Church of England. Only a few days ago three capable women teachers had been dismissed at Willesden because they would not agree to attend the Communion at an Anglican church. They had seen in London the determination of the extreme Church party to force upon teachers in Board Schools as well as in Voluntary Schools the strictest tests as to their religious opinions. They knew the men who were behind this movement. All these things were indica 418 tions of the temper and character of the movement with which they had to deal. The Bishop of Chester and Cardinal Vaughan had shown their policy in arrogant threats towards the Government. The First Lord of the Treasury had treated the Bishop with a certain amount of ironic contempt, but they must remember that Bishops like the Bishop of Chester represented an enormous organisation—an organisation to which this Bill was practically given as a blank cheque and as a charter without conditions. The Bishop of Chester spoke of the combined action of Anglo-Catholics and Roman Catholics for the emancipation of denominational schools from the disabilities under which they had laboured since 1870, and declared that the object of the alliance was to exclude the endowment of what was practically a new creed—undenominational religion. That was the whole secret of the movement. It was to destroy the Cowper-Temple Clause, which excluded denominational formularies from the elementary schools. He looked upon the Cowper-Temple Clause as a truce to sectarian passions, which had rendered immense service to education. Could they never eliminate the paralysing poison of sectarian differences and sectarian animosities, and set education free from proselytism and sectarian tyranny? The Bill was bad educationally, bad politically, bad morally, had economically, and it was worst of all in its dishonest and dissembling draftsmanship, One of the great evils of the Bill was touched upon by the Amendment now before the House, in the preferential grants to one class of schools. A greater evil still was that the Bill would create a revolution in the Government of the schools of the country, for it would hand over the control of the education of three-fifths of the children of the country to an unknown body with an unknown constitution, unknown powers, and unknown policy. The question of association was undoubtedly the most important question raised by the Bill. He agreed very largely with a letter 419 by a well-known London Churchman, Canon Barker. In The Times last November Canon Barker protested against—the proposal that the Government should hand over the proposed new grant in aid to a committee of confederated schools for them to deal with as they think best. This is a most alarming proposition. Imagine the confusion and friction which would be caused by each confederated school having to plead, as it would, before such an unrepresentative and irresponsible body for a portion of the 'new grant in aid,' and for such a body, according to its sweet will, to dole out grants according to its idea of what a school ought to have. It would simply be robbing Peter to pay Paul. No, if there is to be discrimination in the amount granted to schools, let the impartial Education Department be the body to determine. But, if the Government see fit—which I do not think it will—to admit into its new Bill the principle of confederation, I devoutly hope that it will be permissive.But the Bill before them was compulsory. He also asked the House to consider an important expression of opinion by The Birmingham Daily Post, a newspaper which supported the Government:—There is great distrust, as to a scheme so entirely new, so entirely doubtful in its working, and so largely left without explanation in the Bill. As it now stands, all we know is that the distribution of the new grant will be left to some arrangements to be made at some time and in some way undefined, between the Education Department and a large number of denominational councils, which must chiefly consist of ecclesiastics; and in the nature of things it is certain that these councils ultimately if not immediately, must practically got into their own hands the control of the denominational schools generally…Before such an enormous power is conceded we want to know clearly how it is to be exercised, and how the State, as represented by the Education Department, is to check it, and prevent mischief being done.Those were the words of the chief organ of the Colonial Secretary, which represented some of the most influential Liberal-Unionist opinions in the Midland Counties. The Government had not been left without light in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dartford and the Vice President of the Council had given the Government excellent advice. In a letter to The Times in November last, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dartford contemplated as an absolute certainty that if the Government introduced a Bill it 420 would be a Measure dealing with necessitous Board Schools as well as Voluntary Schools. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that the real crux of the question was the distribution of the grant, and he insisted that the distribution should take place upon lines and under conditions clearly laid down by Act of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman evidently never contemplated the extraordinary manœuvre by which the Government were to hand over powers without conditions to the extreme Church party, and they had all heard—not without amusement—the speech in which the right hon. Gentleman had accepted the Bill. The Government were in this matter sending out a fleet with sealed orders. But they had done more. They had also sealed the mouth of the only man who was capable of telling them what the orders were, what the Education Department could do, what lines it would lay down, what powers were to be given, how they were to be exercised, and and what checks were to be placed upon the proposed associated bodies. He referred to the Vice President of the Council. That right hon. Gentleman had also seen that the crux of the difficulty was the discrimination to be used in the distribution of the money between the various schools. "It must be obvious," said the right hon. Gentleman,that a distribution of that kind could only be made by a local authority. The central Government, out of 20,000 schools, could not undertake the task of discriminating which were necessitous and which were not. Therefore they must relegate the distribution to some kind of local authority which knew the circumstances of the schools, or had, at all events, the means of ascertaining easily the circumstances of the schools, and which would be or might be able to give to those that required, and not to squander the money in gifts to those who were already sufficiently well off.The right hon. Gentleman continued:—There was a proposal made in the Bill last Session to create such local authorities, and there was a good deal of discussion and of objection, and ultimately the proposal had to be withdrawn. But he thought they would find, 421 upon reflection, that they had no choice between one of two things—either they must have a grant all round, all round to Voluntary Schools if they pleased, or to Voluntary Schools and Board Schools; but they had no choice between a grant all round, in which the Imperial Government could exercise no discretion, and the creation of some local authority which could receive the grant and undertake to distribute it according to discrimination amongst schools, not because they were Voluntary or Board, but because they were necessitous and wanted further aid from the Imperial Exchequer to enable them to give a satisfactory elementary education.That advice had fallen on deaf ears. The right hon. Gentleman appealed to the House and the country to deal with the question in a candid and philosophic spirit; but this Bill was absolutely silent as to any of his proposals. That is the, answer to his appeal to be candid and philosophic. In the face of these facts, hon. Members had a right to challenge the action of the Government. They had a right to ask why, instead of adopting the right hon. Gentleman's suggestions, the Government had insisted on the principle of compulsory federation, and were handing over the control of the whole denominational system of schools to a secret, self-appointed, unrepresentative, and irresponsible sort of Vehmgericht, to whom was left without restrictions the delicate decision between the claims and wants of various schools. The First Lord of the Treasury in his opening speech confirmed the contention that this was not merely a temporary expedient for the distribution of a few pounds now, but that it would be a system for the distribution of these grants in future, and would tend to consolidate the Voluntary Schools under the rule of these irresponsible bodies. The right hon. Gentleman saidthe Department would have the power to reject or modify the schemes submitted to it; but in all probability he anticipated the schemes would usually guide the Department.What were the checks the Department had at its disposal? The only real power given to the Department was the iniquitous proposal of forcing a Voluntary 422 School to join an association which it did not want to join. Even the audit check was permissive. In the Bill of last year the federations had to satisfy the Education Department, that they represented the managers, and they were not to be scattered all over the country ; they were confined within the area of a single county, and might even be in a smaller area. And, still more important, there was no forcing of all the schools of one denomination into' one association. The present proposal was a monstrous one. It was a question not only for men who felt strongly, as he did; but it must appeal to hon. Members opposite who would not be willing to yield the share they had taken in the provision and management of schools in their neighbourhood, and to hand over their powers thus blindfold to a body as to which they knew nothing. Would they permit him now to say a few words upon the question raised by the Amendment immediately before the House? This Bill, as he had said, proposed one educational revolution in handing over the whole control of the Voluntary Schools of the country to religious and secret organisations. It proposed another revolution in subverting the principle of equality in the Act of 1870. That Act established the right and duty of the people to make provision for education, and at the same time it tolerated the existence of every school on the distinct understanding that the grants to both classes of schools should be on equal and identical principles, and that those who wished to keep up Voluntary Schools should contribute from their own resources in order to maintain them. He attached more importance to the principle involved in this change than he did to the actual amount of the money which was to be handed over. He protested against the State departing from the position of toleration which it took up in 1870 and now, for the first time, giving a preferential grant to the Voluntary Schools—an iniquitous pledge that the 423 Government will find funds to carry on this war, and to enable these schools to struggle against and battle down what was erroneously called the competition of the Board Schools. He protested against that, not only as an injustice, but, still more, because it tended to the waste of national resources. He represented a Division where there was a much larger number of children in Board Schools than in Voluntary Schools, and therefore he felt it his duty to lay one or two points before the House. In one of the towns in his constituency—a town of 3,000 inhabitants—there were a Voluntary School and a Board School. The subscriptions to the Voluntary School amounted to 2s. 3d., and a Board School rate of nearly 6d. in the £ was raised; £60 was to be given to the Voluntary School, and nothing to the Board School, which was, on equal terms, entitled to a grant of £75. In another town of 10,000 inhabitants the subscriptions to a large Voluntary School were 2s. 6d., and that school was to receive nearly £160; whereas four splendid Board Schools, erected at great expense, for which the people rated themselves at 1s. 4d. in the £, were to receive nothing, though they were entitled to £250. In his Division there were 30 Voluntary Schools, some of them old endowed schools, many of them inferior schools, one or two of them only fairly efficient schools; they had an average attendance of 5,240 children, and their subscriptions amounted to £943, or 3s. 7¼d. per child in average attendance. There were 19 Board Schools, and two or three of them were as fine as any Board Schools in the kingdom. They had 7,293 children in average attendance, and the authorities levied, with the constant approval of the people who returned them, in rates £9,310. What was the result? The Voluntary Schools, whose supporters only contributed £943, were to get £1,310 a year in return for that local effort, whereas the Board Schools, for which the local effort was very nearly ten times 424 as great, were to receive absolutely nothing, though they were clearly entitled, on equal terms, to £2,000 a year. The Bill was hopelessly bad in its financial aspect. He intended to strenuously oppose the abolition of the 17s. 6d. limit, because he thought it was absolutely inimical to the economical interests of the country as well as of the educational interests. In conclusion, he asked what was the Liberal policy in regard to the Voluntary Schools? There were now 2½ millions of children in Voluntary Schools. Those schools were, by the introduction of this Bill, admittedly inferior in equipment, teaching power, and the opportunities they gave to the children of the country. ["No, no!"] Was the Liberal policy towards those schools merely a negative policy? It was not. A double duty lay on the Liberal Party to deal broadly and generously and in a statesmanlike spirit with this question, because the position in which they now stood, and the fact that 2½ millions of children were in these inferior schools—["Oh, oh!"]—were largely due to the fact that Liberal statesmen had not risen to the occasion in former years. The Act of 1870 was marred by the timid and hesitating policy in which Mr. Forster refused, not from a Radical like the hon. Member for the Edgbaston Division, but from a Moderate man like Mr. Walter, who was then in the House, proposals which would have introduced in 1870 the principle of universal attendance at school, and also the principle of universal elective school authorities throughout the country, avowedly with the intention, as Mr. Walter said, of the Voluntary Schools being absorbed, and in order to prevent the further development of the dual system, which was felt to be contrary to the interests of education and of the taxpayers. The fact that Liberal statesmanship was so largely responsible for this system having remained so long, threw on them a double obligation to do their duty on this question. He did not think hon. Members 425 had as yet thoroughly realised the effect of subsidising the Voluntary Schools in order to keep up this dual system of schools. He ventured to predict that, before many years were over, the result of this policy of subsidising denominational schools would be that the country would find that they were paying £5 for two or three bad and inferior schools instead of £3 for a consolidated and effective and simple system. This Measure was purely temporary. No Government, whether it was a Tory or a Liberal Government, would ever venture to place the whole educational cost of this country on the taxation of the country. It was an impossible task, and nibbling at it by the abolition of the 17s. 6d. limit was a merely temporary expedient, which could not guide them to a future solution in that direction. The ultimate result must be that these schools must come upon the rates, and the result of that would be the acceptance of the principle of public, local, representative control of all schools receiving Government grant. One of the ablest Unionist papers in the country, The Scotsman, had, a few days before, warned the Government thatthe sooner they recognised that the dual system cannot be a permanent system the better.…one of the two classes of schools must ultimately disappear, and there can be no doubt as to which must succumb in the end.…So long as this system lasts, educational reform in England will be dangerous to the party which attempts it, and peculiarly perilous to those who attempt it in the special interest of the denominational schools.That was wise advice, and if Members would consider the question dispassionately, in the interests of education and of taxation, they would come to the same conclusion he had. He had placed an Amendment to the Amendment on the Paper, but he understood that it was not competent for him to move that Amendment at the present time. He regretted he was unable to do so, but he did not regret that the Amendment appeared on the Paper, because it affirmed in clear and definite words the cardinal principle on which the Liberal 426 Party in the country, whatever their Leader's might say or do, was determined to stand and to fight on this question to the last. The Bill was, in its intention, a mockery on the cause of religion, a wrong to the children of the country, and a wrong to the nation, which they should resent.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
said he thought the House must have listened with some surprise to the quotations from several clergymen with which the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down entertained the House at the commencement of his speech. Did the hon. Gentleman suggest that those extracts fairly represented the teaching in denominational schools. He was sure he could not do so. ["Hear, hear!"] Then why read them? For the purpose of creating a prejudice which he knew to be illegitimate. [Cheers.]
§ MR. CHANNING
I asked the hon. Member for Tunbridge whether that was the sort of religious teaching he was prepared to encourage and wanted this Bill for.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
asked why, if the extracts did not represent the teaching of Voluntary Schools, the hon. Member should have troubled the House with them. ["Hear, hear!"] He thanked the hon. Gentleman for the candour with which, in the latter part of his speech, he declared war against Voluntary Schools. If he would forgive him the expression, he would say that a great part of his speech illustrated what they might call the intolerance of those who preached toleration. ["Hear, hear!"] Not the least interesting feature of this Debate had been the clear recognition it had elicited from the most influential Members that schools in which there was distinctive religious education were an integral and essential part of the educational system of this country. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose Burghs stated this point with his usual complete frankness. He said his views had been and now were that the State 427 should not recognise any educational institutions which to any extent partook of a sectarian character," but," said the right hon. Gentleman," the country had declared against this view," and he must accept the fact. The country had indeed declared against that view. In England the growth of Voluntary Schools was the most emphatic testimony that could be borne to the fact that distinctive religious education was demanded by the people of this country. ["Hear, hear!"] He need not say what were the feelings of the representatives of Ireland, while in Scotland the question of Voluntary Schools had not attained to that importance which it had in, England, simply for the reason that the Board Schools there were denominational. ["Hear, hear!"] In every Board School in Scotland the standards of the Presbyterian Church were taught, and it was only for that reason that the question of Voluntary Schools had not come to the front as it had in, England. The country had indeed declared against the views which the right hon. Gentleman had held and now held. What, under these circumstances should be the attitude of a statesman? The right hon. Gentleman opposite seemed to meet the attitude of the country on this question with what was at least an attitude of sombre acquiescence on his part. He had no policy to propound. He listened to the right hon. Gentleman's speech from beginning to end to find any definite proposal put forward by him for dealing with the situation, but the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be possessed by a spirit of mere negation. He subjected the Bill to a series of minute and detailed criticisms, but one waited in vain for any declaration of positive and practical policy upon this great question. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman referred to the attitude of the Colonial Secretary upon this matter, but surely the attitude of the Colonial Secretary was more worthy of a statesman. He frankly accepted the declaration which the country had made upon this point, and endeavoured to deal 428 with the situation as a statesman should by keeping up the efficiency of the Voluntary Schools, on the maintenance of which the country insisted. [Cheers.] The State at present was not neutral as between Voluntary and Board Schools. The Board Schools had at their back the rates, on, which the State had enabled them to draw as far as they wanted to draw for the, purposes of education. Had the Voluntary Schools such an exchequer at their back? In face of that great fact—he did not stop to refer to other instances of preference—how could anyone assert in his place in that House that the attitude of the State was impartial as between the Board Schools and the Voluntary Schools? ["Hear, hear!"] They were told that the Measure the Government proposed was not final. It would require boldness indeed on the part of the statesman to get up and say he regarded himself as the author of what would be a final settlement of this question. Surely it would be mere pedantry, because it was recognised on all hands that the opinion of the country was not ripe for a final settlement, not to do what was wanted at the present time—["Hear, hear!"]—not to take steps which, as they believed they could show, would solve this difficulty for many years to come. They had listened to a series of elaborated excuses on, the other side for doing nothing at all in aid of the Voluntary Schools. One excuse was certainly somewhat astonishing. It was said that the Voluntary Schools represented the laggards of the educational ranks, and they were told that they should first help, or help at the same time, more forward districts in which there were School Boards. But were the Voluntary Schools laggards in the educational race? Who was it that bore the burden of the education of this country until the Act of 1870? [Cheers.] If any one was a laggard it was not the Voluntary Schools. [Cheers.] It was the Voluntary Schools who did that work which the Act of 1870 was passed to supplement in those districts which were backward and not so forward as those in which 429 Voluntary Schools were at work Then it was said:—The Voluntary Schools are in no danger at all. You may trust to the zeal of Churchmen. They will not only go on paying rates to maintain Board Schools in which their neighbours are given a religious teaching which does not satisfy Churchmen, but they will also pay subscriptions to keep up their own schools.He gladly acknowledged the work that had been done by the friends of denominational schools in furnishing subscriptions to keep them going under stress of severe competition, but Voluntary Schools were in very great danger. The standard of education in this country was rising—he rejoiced in that fact; and it had been raised by the competition of Board Schools having the rates at their back and never being stinted for money—he rejoiced at that. But the consequences to Voluntary Schools must be recognised; they had no such unlimited Exchequer to draw upon while making every effort, to comply with the ever increasing demands of the Department, which had in its eye the completely efficient and thoroughly equipped schools which Boards with unlimited power of drawing on the rates could provide. Was it to come to this, that parents desirous of distinctive religious teaching for their children were to have inferior secular training? Was religious teaching to be penalised in this way? Yet that was the effect of the present state of things. ["Hear, hear!"] Voluntary Schools would suffer from this cause, and a parent would have to ask himself the question, "Am I prepared to sacrifice the best possible secular training in order that my child may get the religious teaching I desire he should have?" ["Hear, hear!"] In a great many cases parents would be attracted from these Voluntary Schools, which, other things being equal, they would prefer, and would send their children to Board Schools. ["Hear!"] Surely this was not a right state of things. The State should hold the balance even between these schools. [Opposition cheers.] Yes, but those hon. Gentlemen who cheered wanted to keep it uneven. ["Hear, hear!"] The State should hold the balance even between those schools which gave a distinctive religious teaching and those which did not. If Voluntary Schools were kept under the strain of this competition they 430 would die; attendance would dwindle, and school after school would close, and the state of things would be such that a parent, however he might desire religious teaching for his child, could not get it. ["Hear, hear!"] It was said this was a skeleton Bill. ["Hear, hear!"] There was not much superfluous fat about it, but he thought it would be apparent that all the bones and sinews were there, and experience would show the Bill to be in thoroughly good fighting trim and that it would give a good account of itself before the round was over. The object of the Bill was to increase the efficiency of Voluntary Schools; it was introduced in the interests of parents who desired such schools for their children. It was not a subscriber's relief Bill, it was a Bill to provide and increase the efficiency of Voluntary Schools, the subscriptions the schools now receive being maintained. This was the object of the Bill, but in effect it did help the ratepayers. ["Hear, hear!"] If Voluntary Schools were to be condemned to a lingering death, as some hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to desire, school rates would be doubled. ["No, no!" and "Hear, hear!"] That was the inevitable conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Morley) took the case of Newcastle, and he said there were 12,000 children in the Board Schools and 12,000 in the Voluntary Schools there. If the Voluntary Schools ceased to exist there the ratepayers of Newcastle would have to support schools for 24,000 children. ["Hear!"] The rate at Newcastle was 7½d. in the pound, and the amount raised £31,000 a year for maintenance, current charges, and interest and sinking fund for money borrowed. Was the right hon. Gentleman prepared to see this amount doubled? Then it was said the relief which was to be given to Voluntary Schools would come from the taxpayers who already paid the school rate. That was true, but the sum required to keep Voluntary Schools in an efficient condition was a very great deal smaller than the sum that would be required to replace them if they disappeared and Board Schools had to be provided. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (York, W. B., Rotherham)
said in some districts there were no Voluntary Schools at all.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said he was dealing with the country as a whole. 431 One must look at the subject broadly and not lose oneself in details. The rates for the ready maintenance of Board Schools, and not including interest and sinking funds for loans, amounted in England and Wales to two millions. If Voluntary Schools disappeared the country would have to face the expenditure of another two and a quarter millions for additional maintenance, and in addition there would have to be provided a large capital expenditure for the purchase of Voluntary School buildings or for new buildings. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite talked about the rights of citizens, but the British citizen must be a very peculiarly constituted being if he preferred paying in his capacity as ratepayer two and a quarter millions a year for the maintenance of additional Board Schools, besides all the cost of providing the buildings, to the expenditure of £616,000 a year for the purpose of keeping alive and efficient those Voluntary Schools which would make that larger expenditure unnecessary. [Cheers.] It was an unjust taunt against the noble Lord (Lord Cran-borne) that he spoke, not with the voice of a citizen, but of a. Churchman, but it was a perfectly fair observation to many hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that their dislike of Voluntary Schools blinded them in this matter to the true interests of citizens. ["Hear, hear!"] What was this cry for equality of treatment and demand for 5s. all round for Board and Voluntary Schools? Take the case of London, where there were a great many Board Schools and not one necessitous, for, however poor the district might be, there were the school rates of the whole Metropolitan School Board area to draw upon. A grant of 5s. a head on account of every child attending a Board School in London would amount to £100,000 a year, and something in the same proportion might be said of every large town. Did hon. Gentlemen propose that £100,000 should be annually paid out of taxation to London in order that it might be wasted on additional expenditure—[cries of "No, not wasted!"]—or take the alternative, applied to the relief of London ratepayers. ["Hear, hear!"] With what accents of scorn would right hon. Gentlemen have spoken if such a dole had been proposed by the Government; what forcibly expressed criticism would not unjustly have been directed 432 against the eleemosynary relief. The Government had brought forward no such proposal, for the Government recognised that the case to be dealt with in reference to poor Board School districts would not be met in such a manner. These poorer Board Schools had lately excited a vast amount of new-born enthusiasm on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but who first proposed to do anything for these schools? The Government, in their Bill of last year. ["Hear, hear!"] It was a little too bad that, having been the first to recognise their need, the Government should now be accused of being blind and deaf to the claims of poorer Board Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] The relief of poorer Board Schools was an object quite distinct from that the present Bill had in view; it was a ratepayers' question, and the machinery required would be wholly different to that contemplated in the Bill. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite were curious in their inquiries about, the Board School Bill, and he appreciated the spirit of their demands. It meant that they found their ammunition in reference to this Bill running short, and they wanted a fresh supply in order that they might keep up the Debate, discussing two Measures instead of one. ["Hear!"] He would not stop to remind the House that a good deal had already been done for poorer Board School districts by the Agricultural Rates Act of last year. This Bill was to promote the efficiency of Volurtary Schools, and right hon. Gentlemen complained that the Government did not define efficiency, and they dropped a pensive tear over the Bill of last year. He said that Bill defined efficiency. It was extraordinary the affection right hon. and hon. Gentlemen had developed for the Bill of last year. [Laughter.] No epithets were too severe for it while it was alive, but now that it was dead the praise of that Bill had served to vilify the Bill of this year, and Gentlemen opposite were warm in their commendation of several of the clauses of the former Bill. What was the use of putting in a clause defining what the efficiency of a school was? Everybody knew. Efficiency meant a good teaching staff and proper equipment for carrying on the business of the school, and to insert a clause such as the right hon. Gentleman had desiderated would only have supplied 433 him and his friends with material for a good many Amendments of a more or less unnecessary character. ["Hear, hear!"] Then they were told that in another respect this Bill compared most unfavourably with the Bill of last year. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Bill of last year at least admitted the principle of local control, but this Bill contained nothing of it. There were in the Bill of last year some expressions which referred to a somewhat attenuated local control, which had now assumed considerable proportions in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. What was the only effective local control? It was the power of appointing and dismissing teachers. ["Hear, hear!"] If they retained that they retained everything; but he ventured to say that no religious body which desired distinctive religious teaching would for one moment dream of accepting any local control of that sort. ["Hear, hear!"] On this point they had been furnished with a most excellent and conclusive authority in a speech made by the right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs. In 1890, in the Debate on the Address, a Motion had been brought forward in favour of free education, and in connection with that Motion the question of local control was started. What did the right hon. Gentleman then say?Our position, I think, is this: that where a school is intended for all it should be managed by representatives of the whole community. When, on the other hand, a school claims to be for a section of the community, as, for example, the Roman Catholics or Jews, it may continue to receive public support as lone; as it is under the management of that sect. That, of course, is the Scottish system. It works well there, and without any friction.With regard to the allusion to the Scottish system, he would only say that the right hon. Gentleman was now a member for a Scottish constituency, and he thought he must recognise by this time the fallacy which lurked in that sentence. [Laughter.] The reason he cited that passage was this. The right hon. Gentleman laid down in the clearest terms that where a school was intended for a section of the community it might receive public help, and that public help while it retained the management of its schools. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman gave the two illustrations of the Roman 434 Catholics and the Jews. Would the right hon. Gentleman extend treatment to these two sects that he would not extend to other religious bodies? He was perfectly certain he would not. [Cheers.] The fact that he mentioned only these two bodies gave rise to a well-founded suspicion—
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
Well, an ill-founded suspicion that those utterances represented a sort of concordat, and that in return for these utterances the right hon. Gentleman's supporters were to have the help of hon. Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway opposite. According to the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, it was perfectly compatible with sound principle that a school should receive public money while it was under the control of those who represented the Church with which that school was identified. ["Hear, hear!"] The control the Government proposed to give was the control of the Department. They were now told by Gentlemen opposite that the Education Department was utterly unfitted for such functions; that it was a centralised body, did not know local wants, and that it was vital to the Measure that they should give control, not to the Department, but to some locally elected body. Last year the proposal made was to set up a local body to deal with these matters, and then right hon. and hon. Gentlemen had nothing that was too strong to say in praise of the Department by way of depreciating the Government proposal to set up local bodies. The right hon. Member for West Monmouth, on the 18th of June of last-year, in Committee on the Education Bill, said:—It is' said you must have this new authority to dispense the 4s. grant, and you assume that the local authority will know better the local conditions. Will it? You create a new authority which, perhaps in 20 years, may know half as much as the authority already existing, and you say it has to discriminate—rather a difficult thing—between schools which are and those which are not to have the grant. But the Education Department knows that already; knows it a great deal better than any new body can know it, and will deal with that question, in the opinion of those communities, with much more impartiality. It is owing to the creation of this unnecessary, inexperienced, and, in my opinion, utterly incompetent authority in the place of the experienced and capable 435 authority which is now dealing with the education of this country, that we mainly resist to the utmost of our ability the provisions of this Bill.[Cheers.] Last year hon. Gentlemen opposite resisted mainly on the ground that the Bill proposed to set up a local authority. This year they were told by the right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs that the absence of local control was the most important feature which disparaged this Bill. [Laughter.] It was really impossible to please the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, and all one could do was to endeavour to find that machinery best adapted to do the work, and he very much preferred the opinion of the right hon. Member for West Mon-mouth as expressed last year with reference to the efficiency of the Education Department to the opinion expressed this year by the right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs. [Cheers.] Discrimination, of course, was necessary, and that discrimination on questions of subscriptions and aid grant could better be exercised by a central authority than by any locally elected body. ["Bear, hear!"] They could not attempt to set up a hard-and-fast line and say, for instance, that the subscriptions were to represent a certain figure, otherwise no help was to be given from the aid grant. Except in the case of a few infant schools, managed under very exceptional circumstances—in many cases the teaching being gratuitous—it was perfectly impossible for any Voluntary School to get on without extraneous help, whether in the form of regular subscriptions, occasional help, endowments, or fees paid by the parents of the children. Those fees were as much subscriptions as the yearly sums paid by richer people. ["Hear, hear!"] It was said that the Department which undertook this task would be overworked. It would, however, get very great help from the associations to be formed tinder the Bill. The right hon. Member for Montrose complained that the associations were introduced by a mere "if," but they were purely Voluntary bodies. They already existed in many places, schools having now the right to combine. It would be a mere platitude to insert a clause in the Bill saying that schools might combine in future as they did now. All the Bill 436 had to do was to encourage the formation of such associations by saying that the schools forming them should have two privileges. First, that there should be allotted to each association which the Department recognised a sum in proportion to the number of children in all the schools forming the association. Secondly, the governing body of the association should have the light to advise the Department as to the distribution of the lump sum among the different schools; and the scheme prepared by the association would be acted upon unless the Department saw that the purposes of the Act were not carried out. The Government hoped that these encouragements would lead to the formation of associations throughout the country. As to their areas, they will not necessarily be the same for all denominations. In the ease of the Church of England schools, the dioceses would form the natural divisions, [Ironical cheers.] But in the case of other denominations, hard-and-fast divisions which might suit one and not another need not be laid down. In ordinary cases, an association would consist of schools of the same denomination; but it would be a great advantage if the schools of denominations nearly approaching one another in teaching and doctrine should combine. The right, hon. Gentleman had asked how the case would be dealt with of a refusal to join an association on the ground that to join would kill local interest in the school. The right hon. Gentleman had overlooked the fact that joining an association did not mean that all the subscriptions would be thrown into a common fund. It merely meant that the group of schools forming the association secured to themselves the allotment of a sum of a money equal in the aggregate to a grant of 5s. per child in all the schools, and each school secured a voice in the division of that total sum according to its necessities. He did not believe that to join such an association would (diminish local interest in the schools, or that that fear would be recognised as an adequate ground for refusing to join. It seemed to be forgotten that no school would have any absolute right to receive a portion of this aid grant. Whether a school got the grant or not depended on a number of circumstances, and the main factor in the case 437 was whether the Education Department considered the school to be necessitous, and one in which the voluntary subscriptions had been adequately maintained. Another misconception was the idea that the proposed distinction between town and country affected the distribution of the grant to unassociated schools. The distinction between town and country had nothing whatever to do with schools which were not in association. In the case of association—and in that case alone—the amount of the allotment depended upon a difference of rate. There was nothing in sub-section 2 about a difference between town and country schools. It was only in dealing with the amount to be allotted to each association that the rate per scholar was to differ if the Department fixed different rates for the town and country schools. It was a case of individual discretion with respect to non-associated schools. The right hon. Gentleman thought it very unreasonable to give the Department power to fix a higher rate for urban than for rural schools. The right hon. Gentleman cited the cases of the counties of Durham and Staffordshire as mainly urban counties, where the expenditure was 34s. and 32s. 6d. per child; and then he took three rural counties—Dorset, Shropshire, and Herefordshire—where the expenditure is from 37s. 6d. to 42s. per child: and said what an extraordinary thing it was that preference should be given to the urban schools, where the education cost less and where the subscriptions were less than in the rural schools. The right hon. Gentleman had not taken the Board Schools into account in those figures. It was obvious that with respect to Voluntary Schools the measure of the expenditure was not at all what was wanted for the efficient conduct of the school. The Voluntary Schools in urban districts were often tied down to a lower scale of expenditure than efficiency demanded, owing to want of subscriptions. Unfortunately, subscriptions were lower in urban communities than in rural. There were, many causes for that fact. In the country there were greater local interests, there were local proprietors; while in the towns there were poor districts with no rich neighbours. And yet the right hon. Gentleman thought that because the subscriptions to urban schools were 438 lower, it was a reason for giving them less help. He should have thought it was a reason for the very opposite course. The thing desired was to give help to those who needed it, and not to those who had enough already from local subscriptions. [Cheers.] This was not a subscribers' relief Bill, but a Bill for promoting the efficiency of the schools. [Cheers.] If the right hon. Gentleman had taken the Board Schools as well as the Voluntary Schools into account he would have arrived at a fair standard of what was wanted in the urban and rural schools respectively. The Board Schools had unlimited resources to draw upon. [Cries of Oh!"] The School Boards had regard to educational efficiency, and they raised the rates adequate for maintaining that efficiency. A second reason for the distinction was that the fee grant, on the whole and speaking roughly, benefited the country schools much more than it benefited the town schools; and for this reason, that the fees in the country were much lower than 10s., and in the town were much higher. For instance, in Herefordshire, where the fees were 6s. 5d. per child, the gain from the fee grant had been £2 17s. 4d.; while in Lancashire, where the fees were 1.3s. 9d., there had been, after all allowances, a loss in one year of £20,000. Surely that was a good reason for giving power to the Department to establish a differential rate between town and country. True, it did not apply to London, which had profited slightly by the fee grant. But there was a third reason for the differentiation which did apply to London most forcibly. In large towns the cost of the schools was much more than in the country. The teachers had to be given a larger salary to pay the higher rent, and, again, there were more children in the higher standards. Very little had been said against the clause which abolished the 17s. 6d. limit; and it really would have been extraordinary if there had, been any objection to a clause which had the effect of removing the restriction by which efficiency, if combined with economy, was penalised. The right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs gave his unqualified approval to the clause for exempting Voluntary Schools from rates. He did not think that one objection had been made in that 439 Debate to that proposal of the Government. But the right hon. Gentleman asked what where they going to do in reference to the Board Schools, and he urged that, if the reason for exempting institutions from rates was that they were of a meritorious character, this applied to Board Schools as well as Voluntary Schools. But that argument certainly did not apply to Board Schools, which had no difficulty whatever in paying their rates. The case of Luton Borough had been referred to, which had a population of 30,000, and the union of which the borough formed a part had a population of 40,000. The right hon. Gentleman said that at Luton the Board Schools would go on paying their rates for the benefit of the 15,000 people who inhabited the other portions of the union in which there were only Voluntary Schools. The right hon. Gentleman was really mistaken in his facts, for as a matter of fact there were a considerable number of Voluntary Schools in the Borough of Luton, whilst in that portion of the union which was outside the borough there were a good many Board Schools.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said it was extremely material, because the right hon. Gentleman said the Board Schools in the Borough of Luton would be paying their rates for the benefit of the 15,000 people outside the borough in the union where there were only Voluntary Schools.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said it mattered very much indeed, because in the non-borough part of the union there were persons who would be paying their rates to the benefit of the whole union. ["Hear, hear!"] He thought if he gave the right hon. Gentleman the figures he would see their bearing. In the Borough of Luton there were 2,163 scholars in Voluntary Schools, as against 3,338 in Board Schools. In the rural part of the union there were 1,337 in Voluntary Schools, as against 931 in Board Schools.
§ MR. J. MORLEY
I am sorry to interrupt, but it is a question of the poor-rate we are considering, not the school rate. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said the rates paid by the Board Schools in the rural part of the union went to the poor rate of the whole union. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman had entirely ignored the fact that the rural part of the union had Board Schools as well as Voluntary Schools. He would not dwell further upon that. [Opposition laughter and Ministerial cheers.] He would ask the right hon. Gentleman seriously to consider what was the effect of his proposal to exempt Board Schools from the rates as well as Voluntary Schools. He would point out what the effect of this would be in London. The total rateable value of London was something like 35 millions; the Voluntary Schools according to their present assessment represented about.31,000, which was a good deal less than one-thousandth part of the rateable value of the whole of London. The effect of the exemption of the Voluntary Schools was really almost inappreciable, and was still further diminished by the fact that the greater part of the rate was distributed over the whole of the metropolitan area. So that the relief of the Voluntary Schools would not bear hardly upon any single parish in London or upon any other part of the country.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said the proposal of last year was not to exempt Board Schools from rates, but that the rates both for Voluntary Schools and Board Schools should be paid out of the school rate, which was a perfectly different proposal. [Cheers.] What would be the effect of exempting Board Schools in London? If the Board Schools were exempted Bethnal Green, for example, would lose annually from the rates about £4,592, whereas by the exemption of Voluntary Schools it would only lose £98; Camberwell would lose £6,533 if Board Schools were exempted, but only £87 if Voluntary Schools were exempted; Shoreditch would lose £3,436 if Board Schools were exempted, but only £145 if Voluntary Schools were exempted. There was one portion of the metropolitan area which would profit enormously if the views of the right hon. Gentleman were carried out—that was the City. The City would gain a very large sum annually, because there were few schools in it, and it contributed to the 441 school rate levied within the metropolitan area. It was rather novel to find that the right hon. Gentleman was a champion of the City, and asked them to relieve the City from that burden by which its poorer neighbours were relieved. [Laughter.] The equalisation of rates used to be a principle of the Liberal Party, and the fact that the Board Schools were rated, coupled with the fact that the rate was paid out of the rate levied over the whole metropolitan area, went far in the direction of equalising the metropolitan rate, and yet the right hon. Gentleman calmly said that the Bill was defective because it did not exempt Board Schools as well as Voluntary Schools. To exempt Board Schools, which did not need exemption, would inflict an intolerable hardship upon many of the poorer parts of the metropolis. The real issue in this matter had now become clear amid all the smoke and dust of conflict, and the question was whether these Voluntary I Schools were to be maintained or not. [Cheers.] They had listened to elaborate objections and excuses for doing nothing, but all this only veiled an hostility to denominational education in these schools. ["Hear, hear!"] The country was now in a position to appreciate at their true worth the professions which were made last Session of readiness to help through any Measure which was confined to the relief of Voluntary Schools—[cheers]—and he did not think the country would be deafened by the high-sounding and hollow phrases which had been used in opposition to this Measure. The enemies of the Voluntary Schools were united in their opposition for various reasons, but the real ground of their opposition was that they desired that the process of what they called the "painless extinction" of these schools should go on. But if the enemies of Voluntary Schools knew what they wanted, so did the supporters of the Voluntary Schools. [Cheers,] They were alive to the fact that, although this Bill could not be considered as final in its character, it; would enable Voluntary Schools to keep up the fight for many years to come, and they meant to carry this Measure through. [Cheers.] In spite of all opposition, the Government hoped before many weeks were past to put this Measure of rebel to religious education on the Statute Book. [Cheers.]
§ MR. W. S. ROBSON (South Shields)
said the hon. and learned Gentleman had said there could be no effective control over schools unless it included the right to dismiss teachers. He gladly accepted that definition. He went on to say that the merit of this Bill was that it gave control to the central Department. Did he mean to say that the Education Department was to have that effective control of which he spoke—the right of dismissing at its own will teachers of whom it did not approve. ["Hear, hear!"] They on the Opposition side demanded that there should be effective local control, and there was absolutely no inconsistency between the position taken up now and on the Bill last year, except in the imagination of the Solicitor General. The hon. and learned Gentleman denied that this was a subscribers' relief Bill, but if it was not why did it abolish the 17s. 6d. limit? ["Hear, hear!"] The Solicitor General had ingeniously and very carefully ignored the definition, which was vital to all discussion of this Bill, certainly with regard to the hardship on those who supported Voluntary Schools. He had entirely ignored the distinction between the case of Voluntary Schools in School Board districts, and the case of Voluntary Schools in non-School Board districts. In the case of Voluntary Schools in School Board districts it might well be that subscribers were able to show a ease of hardship. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that they had a right to take money from the State to teach their specific doctrine.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
No, I do not think they have an abstract right.
§ MR. ROBSON
said the right hon. Gentleman then seemed to regard it as an academic and quixotic question. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention, because he should show that the Bill was one for sectarian endowment, and which, for the first time in our history, put upon the Statute Book that the State was to grant money, not merely for State purposes, but for the teaching of doctrines which were no concern of the State. ["Hear, hear!"] His view was that there was no hardship on a subscriber in a School Board district having to make a 443 double contribution, provided his contribution was not in respect of secular education. He pointed out that districts in which there were no School Boards were specially favoured, having a much lower rate than urban districts, and under the legislation of last year having half the rates on agricultural land paid for them; bat now they were to have another special advantage in respect of the Education rate. Was there any conceivable principle as a question of taxation why the Government, should give relief to those districts and not to others? He declined to treat the question entirely as an educational question; it had to be treated also as a fiscal question, and fiscally there was no reason why parishes that were without School Boards should have their education given them for nothing by the State, while the far more necessitous great towns received no relief whatever. ["Hear, hear!"] The Voluntary Schools paid their teachers less and taught their scholars worse. Hitherto the benefits had been distributed by Parliament on the principle of payment by results, but the new Education Minister was going to alter all that, and to pay indirectly according to bad results. ["Hear, hear!"] The districts which had provided just the meanest minimum of education for the purpose of getting the grant were to be rewarded, while those which had taken the whole burden of efficient education were to be left alone. Nothing could justify such a glaring inequality. [Cheers.] They could not make education a local burden in one place and an Imperial burden in another, and yet that was what they were asked to do. Those who had drafted the Bill must have had their minds fixed solely on the educational controversy, and upon the dispute which had been going on between contending sects, and had forgotten to treat it as a fiscal question at all. There were many persons who cared very little what doctrines were taught, or whether any doctrines were taught or not, but they cared a great deal about the equality of public burdens—["hear, hear!"]—and, although the House might not approve of their indifference to religious questions, they were bound to satisfy them on the question of equality. The points raised by this Bill, which really endowed sectarian education, might be evaded in that House, but they could 444 not be evaded in the country. The ratepayers would understand the question. They who lived in a School Board district would see that they were bound to pay for their education, while those who lived in other districts were not, and the ratepayers would ask "Why?" The only answer that could be given was that the schools in the School Board district were not managed by clergymen. ["Hear, hear!"] He had no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman intended to offer to the ratepayers a bribe to place the schools in future under the management of clergymen, and it was further hoped to put an end to School Boards; he had no doubt that the scheme of the Government would have some such effect. It would not have that effect altogether immediately, because the ratepayer would reflect that he had got School Boards and that he had got to pay for them; and when he found that the only reason he got no relief from the rates was that, his schools were not under the management of a clergyman, the effect—the certain effect, he hoped—would be that an anti-sectarian spirit would be aroused. Then they should have a fresh controversy. That brought him to consider the second great feature of that Bill—the question of sectarian endowments. Hitherto Englishmen had tolerated State grants to denominational schools on the assumption that they went only towards the cost of secular education, while the cost of specific dogmatic teaching was met by subscriptions. That theory would not hold good under this Bill. The Solicitor General had himself reminded us that there were 1,000 Voluntary Schools which had no subscriptions, and he evidently anticipated the objection that, in those cases at all events, the cost of religious teaching was met by the State grant, for he said that the fees paid by scholars were an equivalent to subscriptions, and he implied that they would pay for non-secular instruction. Allowing that the fees might be thus appropriated, which he by no means admitted as fact, how did the figures work? The average subscription per child in attendance in 1894 was 6s. 6¾d.; the average amount per child received from fees was 2s. 0¼d.; that is 8s. 7d. per child from sources other than public moneys. If the 5s. grant be deducted from this, and there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the new grant from being so applied by the 445 federated bodies, there would remain, say, about 3s. 6d. per child available for the cost of religious teaching. If was stated with approval in the recent Church Conference, by two Bishops whose names he had forgotten, that the cost of religious teaching might fairly be put at 1s. 6d. of the total cost per child Now the total cost per child in Voluntary Schools was about 38s., so that under this Bill the amount subscribed and paid in fees towards religious education would, on an average, be little more than one-tenth instead of one-sixth. This showed that in some cases the whole, and in all cases a substantial part, of the cost of religious education would henceforth be paid by the State. ["Hear, hear!"] In this Bill the country would see that it was being called upon to pay, not merely for purely secular education, but for purely sectarian education, and yet the right hon. Gentleman had never taken the trouble to consider the question from that point of view; he regarded it as abstract and immaterial. Would it be so regarded in England? There was nothing which the average Englishman so disliked as concurrent endowment. ["Hear, hear!"] He himself was willing to pay for the teaching of his own creed, but he was not willing to pay for the teaching of other creeds. He would venture to say this, that if there was one doctrine more earnestly taught in a great many denominational schools than another it was that dissent was schism. ["No," and "Hear, hear!"] It was a doctrine preached from the pulpits and taught from the teachers' desks. He asked whether this doctrine was not going to be taught in the schools which were to get public money? They had a right to know what doctrine was to be taught. This was a Bill which conferred purely sectarian endowments; it even went beyond that—the Bill was essentially a scheme for clerical endowment. It was not a general, it was a provincial, endowment. II' it was said that this was not a Bill which was intended to pay for religious teaching, then they were entitled to have guarantees in the Bill. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)
denied that the money would go mainly for the payment of religious teaching. Voluntary subscriptions were duly kept in view in the Bill. If the Bill, when passed, was carried out 446 in the spirit in which it had been introduced by the Government, it would tend to the greater efficiency of education in this country. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had last spoken had ridiculed the words in the Bill "due regard." But those words often occurred in the Endowed Schools Acts. They were Parliamentary words of long standing, and there was nothing in them to excite ridicule. The hon. and learned Gentleman also stated that education was given for nothing in the rural districts. How could education be given for nothing anywhere? It certainly could not be given for nothing in the rural districts. He did not know whether the hon. Gentleman lived in the town or in the country, but if in the town, he should accept an invitation of his friends to spend a few weeks in a rural district, when he would find that, no more in the rural districts than in urban districts, was education given for nothing. It was a serious charge on the incomes of those who lived in the country parishes. It would not be given for nothing even when this Bill was passed. The main object of the Bill was to improve the efficiency of Voluntary Schools. It would lead to an increase of the number of teachers and to the improvement of the position of teachers.
§ *MR. TALBOT
said the Bill provided that a due regard was to be had to Voluntary subscriptions and gave a general control by the Education Department. The right hon. Gentleman shrugged his shoulders. He remembered the right hon. Gentleman said last year that the Education Department was the best authority to whom to refer those questions.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I meant that the Bill gives no security that the money is to be employed in increasing the, salaries of teachers.
§ *MR. TALBOT
said that supporters of the Bill contended that Voluntary Schools should be placed on a thoroughly efficient footing—that they should be good schools in every respect. They further said that the schools had not the money to enable them to do that, and they therefore asked the Government fur assistance. The Bill 447 afforded a good illustration of the difficulty of pleasing both parties to any question. Last year the Government introduced what was called a heroic Measure dealing with many large questions connected with education. They were then told that the Bill was too large, and that if they introduced a small Bill for the relief of necessitous schools 10 would pass quickly. That small Bill was now before the House. But the Government were now told that the Bill was too small, and that it dealt only with a portion of the question. The position of the Government was plain. They said their object was to promote the general education of the country; they said they could only do one thing at a time; that they would first of all assist the Voluntary Schools, and then that they would assist the Board Schools—where assistance was necessary—to carry on the great work they had undertaken. It should be remembered that Board Schools and Voluntary Schools were on a different footing, and that it was difficult, owing to Parliamentary procedure, to introduce a Bill dealing with both schools on the same lines. It could not be said that the Government had violated any of the pledges they had given at the last General Election. The pledges then given only referred to the relief of the Voluntary Schools, for the question of the Board Schools had not then arisen. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire and himself were two of the few Members of the House who remembered the educational controversies of 1870. At that time there was a confident impression that the Voluntary Schools would be painfully or painlessly extinguished—he did not know which was the right word—as time went on. But what happened? In 1870 the accommodation in the Church of England Voluntary Schools was 1,365,000. In 1895 the accomodation was 2,702,000. Therefore instead of being painlessly or painfully extinguished, the Voluntary Schools had not only held their own, but had doubled their accommodation. That showed that the people of England desired those schools. It should also be remembered that this additional accommodation in the Voluntary Schools was provided almost without any State aid, the building grants to Voluntary Schools having ceased in 1870. For some reason or 448 other—to his mind the reason was the strong religious convictions of the people—those schools had a great hold on public affection, and were a necessary part of the educational system of the country. If the Bill did what its supporters hoped it would do, it would promote the efficiency of those schools and enable them to carry on more effectively the great work they had undertaken. The determination to assist the Voluntary Schools was inspired by a desire to maintain religious instruction. They were often asked why they should not trust the Board Schools. No doubt the Board Schools provided religious instruction but not religious instruction on the lines that many people desired. He would point out further that there was no security in the Board School system for religious instruction. It entirely depended on the accidental majority returned after each triennial election. The result of such an election might mean the emphasising of religious instruction in the Board Schools or the annihilation of religious instruction in the Board Schools. There were in Wales 326 School Boards. Of these, 50 gave no religious instruction whatever; 62 others did not read the Bible; and 118 others did not explain it. That was an example to justify the widespread desire in the country to maintain the schools which provided religious instruction. He had no desire to put the matter in an offensive way, or in a way which gave a political aspect to the question, but he would say that, whereas one set of men looked upon religious teaching as a luxury more or less desirable, the other set looked upon religious teaching as the very foundation of their educational system. He appealed to the House to support the Bill as an honest endeavour to promote the cause of education. He maintained that the figures which were before the House showed that the Voluntary Schools formed an integral part of the educational system of the country which must survive, and the only question was in what form they were to survive. He thanked the Government for the help that they were giving to these schools—help which would tend, not only to their permanence, but also to their efficiency and to their improved management. With regard to the question of federa 449 tion, he hoped that the Government would not be induced by threats to drop that part of their scheme, which would tend to liberalise and extend the administration of the Educational grant, because larger bodies were more likely to distribute the grant in a statesmanlike manner than individual schools would. For the reasons he had given, he should heartily support the Second Reading of the Bill. It had been charged against those who promoted this Measure that their object was the relief of the clergy, who largely supported the Voluntary Schools. No doubt the clergy had home a very large share of the cost of education, both before Board Schools were in existence and since; but it was only fair that the State should give reasonable assistance to the Voluntary Schools, which contributed so largely towards the education of the country. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
said that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had attempted to draw a distinction between those who supported Voluntary Schools and those who were in favour of secular education, by saying that until the former believed that religious teaching in schools was absolutely necessary the latter regarded it as a luxury and not as a necessity. He ventured to repudiate that doctrine altogether. The great Nonconformist body had been as solicitous for the religious education of their children as the members of the Church of England were. The difference between the Nonconformists and the supporters of the Voluntary Schools was, that the former believed that that part of a child's education which would fit him to become a useful citizen might be taught him at school was one thing, and that religious education was another, and that the two classes of education ought not to be mixed up together. The Debate had hitherto proceeded upon the assumption put forward by the Government that equal justice was to be done between the Board Schools and the Voluntary Schools. But over and over again had the Front Opposition Benches asked for some assurance from the Government that the same amount of assistance would be given to necessitous Board Schools as would be given to the Voluntary Schools under 450 this Bill. He did not deny that there was some force in that argument, or that it was the duty of the Government to have told the House what amount of assistance they intended to give to necessitous Board Schools. They were asked to give a sum of £600,000 to the Voluntary Schools, and an assurance had been given them that an equal sum would be given to the necessitous Board Schools. [Cries of "No!"] Well, perhaps not. The First Lord of the Treasury, no doubt, desired to do equal justice to both classes of schools, but he was not the master of the situation. No doubt he had a large majority at his back, but he had still behind him a number of hon. Members who were jealous of the Board Schools, and were desirous of impairing their efficiency. In his view the great principle upon which they ought to act was that no assistance should be given to any schools out of the public funds without such schools being subject to public control, and that the State should not subsidise any particular religious sect. In his view this Bill was a renewal of the policy laid down by Mr. Forster in 1870, which involved painless extinction of the Voluntary Schools. [Cries of "No!"] He should like to quote a passage from Mr. Forster's speech when he introduced his Education Bill of 1870. That Gentleman said:—The education of the people's children by the poeple's officers, chosen in the local assemblies, controlled by the people's representatives in Parliament, this is the principle upon which our Bill is based. It is the ultimate force which rests behind every clause.Since that time 1,300 Voluntary Schools of which 938 were Church Schools had become Board Schools, which showed that there was no very strong disposition on the part of the Church of England to resist the absorption of their children into Board Schools if this Measure were not to be final, then the Government must come to the House and ask for more. The total cost per child in Voluntary Schools was agreed at £1 18s. or £1 19s., and of that, 6s. 9d. was derived from voluntary contributions. Therefore, the whole of the expenditure in respect of which the schools were in any true sense of the word voluntary was 6s. 9d. per child per annum. Yet the House was called upon to maintain these 451 schools out of public funds, without any public control. ["Hear, hear!"] Did anyone in the House doubt that this increase in the grant meant a corresponding fall in the subscriptions? There was no question that subscriptions had fallen. In 1876 they amounted to over 8s. per head, but from that time there had been a steady, continuous and uniform decrease. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES
The amount was greater this year by some few pence. [An HON. MEMBER: "The total amount!"] The total amount! Yes, but the amount contributed per child was only 6d. 9d.; whereas, in 1876 it was over 8s. per head. That was a significant fact. That very day a manager of one of the chief Voluntary Schools in his constitutency told him that the subscriptions had decreased because the subscribers thought the State was going to contribute towards them. ["Hear, hear!"] He ventured to point out to those in charge of the Dill that as they had to confront an inferior education for Voluntary School children, they must come down to the House and make a still further demand on the resources of the country. In what sense were these schools Voluntary Schools? He had shown the diminished ratio of subscriptions, and as to fabrics and sites he had no hesitation in saying that to a very large, and he believed preponderating extent these fabrics and sites were contributed for by the parishioners without the smallest relation to the religious creed adopted in the schools; that was to say, the Church Schools had, to a large extent, been the creation of Wesleyans, Methodists, and Baptists. After the National Society was formed, Parliament year after year made large grants of public money for sites. What then remained of the extraordinary contention put forward that the House would not be justified in taking over the Voluntary Schools, unless they took from the ratepayer a sum estimated at £3,000,000 or thereabouts? ["Hear, hear!"] Then came the question of Catholic Schools. The opposition were twitted with drawing a distinction between Catholics and other religious communities. But there was a very wide distinction to be drawn. The parents of children belonging to the Church of England or other Protestant 452 communities were indifferent as to the schools their children went to. ["No, no!"] That was shown by the number of Voluntary Schools that had been allowed to be absorbed into Board Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] The Catholic laity, however, were not indifferent, and they had given practical demonstration of their objection to have their children educated in any but Catholic schools by subscribing far more to the maintenance of their schools than the Protestant laity. ["Hear, hear!"] They paid their teachers higher than many other Voluntary Schools, and there was no doubt of strong feeling on the part of Catholics against their schools being absorbed into Board Schools. His opinion was that the Catholic case might be dealt with separately, because their schools were self-contained. There were no Anglican children, and no children of Nonconformists in their schools. He wished to say one or two words as to why, although he should vote against the Bill, he should not vote for the Amendment. It was because he would have no part in any legislation which gave further financial assistance to Voluntary Schools unless that assistance were accompanied by public control by the ratepayers, or, at least, by the parents. It had been pointed out that education in Voluntary Schools was defective as compared with that in Board Schools. It had been demonstrated by statistics that the standard in Voluntary Schools was inferior to that in Board Schools; but his most potent reason for voting against the Bill was that Parliament had no right to compel the child of a Nonconformist to go to a school where he was placed in a position of inequality as compared with the child of a Churchman. ["Hear, hear!"] The control he advocated was a control by the people to secure that no improper attempts should be made by managers to coerce or influence children in the direction of the Church. Complaints were heard from all sides. Pupil teachers were chosen only from Church people. That was one strong and serious objection; it was impossible for the child of a Dissenter, whatever might be his capacity, to obtain a position as pupil teacher in the school in which he was finally educated, and therefore, it was impossible for him subsequently to become a certificated master. ["Hear, hear!"] 453 Then the schoolmasters were in many eases required to perform functions which were not educational at all. For example, they were called upon to play the organ in church. The children were given to understand that things would be pleasanter for them if they did not avail themselves of the conscience clause. He regretted that they were not fighting this battle on the lines adopted by Nonconformists in past years. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose had said that personally he was opposed to anything except secular education, but that they "must recognise facts," suggesting by that that the people of this country were willing that Voluntary Schools should be supported out of State funds without public control. That view he repudiated altogether. He believed that this movement in support of the Voluntary Schools emanated exclusively from the clergy of this country. [Cries of "No!" and "Hear, hear!"] There was no feeling among Church people, excluding the clergy, against Board School education. He regretted that the Opposition had not taken up once again the old uncompromising attitude of former occasions and had not declared that they would bear no share of the responsibility of subsidising Voluntary Schools out of public funds except on the condition of the exercise of a corresponding amount of public control.
§ *MR. ALFRED LYTTELTON (Warwick and Leamington)
said that the two questions for consideration were, first, whether the Government were justified in dealing with the Voluntary Schools before dealing with the Board Schools; and, secondly, whether the associations for which the Bill provided were expedient and feasible. While be was warmly in favour of subsidising necessitous Board Schools, he was of opinion that the Government were absolutely justified in putting the Voluntary Schools first. These schools deserved a subsidy on many grounds, and the first was the ground of religious equality. Classes of men who had been the pioneers of education in this country and held definite opinions strongly ought not to suffer under distinct financial disability on account of the doctrines to which they adhered. The second ground was that by giving this assistance to the extent of 454 5s. now they would relieve themselves from the necessity of granting a much heavier subsidy later on. The right hon. Member for Montrose said that to argue in this way was to impeach the religious sincerity of the country, and pointed to the Roman Catholics as a body of men who, whether they were assisted or not, would always stand by their schools and would not abate one shilling of their subscriptions. He agreed with the right hon. Member, and recognised that it would not be correct to say that if a subsidy were not granted to Voluntary Schools the Roman Catholics and the supporters of Anglican schools would reduce their subscriptions. But the right hon. Gentleman was surely in a dilemma. Granted that the subscribers did not abate their subscriptions, but maintained them at the present level, he surely would not say, having regard to the expansion of education and the poverty and struggles of the poor who subscribed, that those subscriptions could possibly be increased in the future? Therefore for the right hon. Gentleman to refuse to assist the Voluntary Schools would be equivalent to saying—for these schools must, in any circumstances, continue to exist for a great number of years—that he was willing deliberately to condemn more than half the children in the country to receive an inferior education, merely because their parents had religious convictions. The question of subsidising necessitous Board Schools rested upon a different principle. The basis of the Act of 1870 was that local effort should be the mainspring of national education: it was then admitted that one would best serve the interests of education by giving free play to the enterprise, energy, public spirit, and patriotism of different localities. It was not contemplated that the peasant in Dorset or Devonshire, in a poor rateable area where there was no Voluntary School, should have as good an education as the citizen of Birmingham or London, or that an equally good education should he given in the rural and the urban districts. If that was true, the real ground on which they were asked to support necessitous Board Schools must be that, as they had now made education national and free by the Act of 1891, they must be taken to have intended to obliterate geographical disparities and to 455 give to the peasant, say, in Devonshire or Cumberland, similar educational opportunities as were enjoyed by the inhabitants of prosperous urban communities. That was the only principle upon which they could maintain that necessitous Board Schools ought to be assisted, and it was a very great extension of the Act of 1870. The reasons for asking them to subsidise Voluntary Schools were very different, and it was both logical and expedient to separate the eases of the two classes of schools. It was right now to recognise that education should be national and no longer a matter of purely local concern. That was the ground upon which it could be maintained that necessitous Board Schools should be assisted. He did not think that they need be afraid of that principle, the ground upon which many of them supported the theory that necessitous Board Schools should be aided being this: that it was a moral recognition, at any rate, of the great principle that education was a national affair, and that anybody who provided for the children of the State such secular education as the State approved and certified as good, was entitled to payment for that service from the State. He was surprised to hear the right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs (Mr. J. Morley) say something in regard to the cost of these associations. To a man of business amalgamation was usually deemed to be a measure of economy; the associations were to be voluntary and they at any rate afforded a means of buying material in a larger quantity and getting better discounts. But this proposal was not wholly experimental. The London School Board administered the finances of 488 Board Schools in London. All those Board Schools were managed by local managers, but the School Board of London was the centre to which all contributions flowed. It managed the finances of the schools, and it had been found an admirable method—economical and advantageous to the purposes of management and economy. On a smaller scale that was the proposition under this Bill. ["No, no!"] The schemes would be as good as they could be made; and what was to prevent an area like a county in which there existed a great many schools amalgamating together, and obtaining as the result of amalgamation, 456 both the advantages of economy and administration?
MR. J. M. PAULTUN (Durham, Bishop Auckland)
Are they actually to manage the schools? ["No!"]
§ *MR. LYTTELTON
said that the proposal of the Bill was that a 5s. grant should be distributed by the association. There was nothing to prevent in future, if it was found to be expedient, that the management should by consent be added to these limited powers. Speaking without any knowledge beyond what the Bill contained, he submitted that the associations had such a power, even without the Bill; they had the power to contribute knowledge to the management of each school. Let the House take an instance. In a county they had, as a rule, not many educational experts. Supposing a county to have the privilege of the residence of his right hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Acland). The right hon. Gentleman's services now would be allocated to the village in which he could be claimed as a resident. Under this system his right hon. Friend would of course be a member of the association.
§ *MR. LYTTELTON
thought that tin-public spirit of his right hon. Friend would be equal to that duty; and he would give as a member of the association the great value of his expert knowledge, which would gradually raise the tone both of the management and of educational efficiency. There would thus be a tendency greatly to liberalise and improve the general tone of those bodies. It would, perhaps, be very wrong to pool all the subscriptions in a certain area and expect them to continue at their previous level. That would be a dangerous tiling to do; but in providing in the localities an association with knowledge of the locality greater than the Education Department they would establish an excellent way of satisfying the Department as to whether the true necessity of the country schools existed. No more effective check could be placed on a body of schools, some of which might be desirous to obtain unduly the assistance given by the State, than an association growing up in the locality and representative of each school. He cited, by way of illustration, an association which had been presided over by a relative of his in the Midland 457 Counties, in which a fund, not coming from the Slate had been distributed. In the first place they had called for subscriptions from the schools that could spare them. He did not think the appeal had been very successful, but they had also called for subscriptions from those who looked at the matter as a whole and not through the narrow spectacles of local attachment. A considerable number of subscriptions had been received, and when upon some unfortunate school there had descended a ukase from the Department to spend £1,000 or £2,000 on its fabric the funds received from those who loved their Faith were applied at this apposite moment, and had saved the Voluntary School front destruction. The Bill contained machinery which could undoubtedly be worked by organisations such as the Wesleyans, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Jews, which would secure that the money should not be wasted, but applied where real necessity existed.
On the return of Mr. SPEAKER, after the usual interval,
§ SIR BENJAMIN BAKER (Portsmouth)
said that when the Government introduced their Bill last year he found himself in parallel lines with the hon. Member fur the Edgbaston Division of Birmingham, because the experience of the hon. Member and his in educational matters had been somewhat similar. The hon. Member had been chairman for 17 years of a large School Board at Birmingham, and he had had the honour of being chairman of a large School Board at Portsmouth for 21 years continuously, and their experience and observation agreed to the extent that they thought the Measure of the Government last year was certainly a very bad Measure. He had come to the conclusion that, in the interests of education, the Measure which the Government had introduced, under very bad auspices, this year, was equally bad. He did not join those who charged the Government with sinister motives. He had been a supporter of the Voluntary Schools in Portsmouth, and had had no difficulty in working with the managers of such schools. He should also support any responsible Government in a proposition to give money, either to Voluntary or Board Schools, with due provision for its control and administra 458 tion. But the present Government last year, and again this year, seemed disposed to create a feeling which was adverse to the good and successful management of the Board School system, and to the policy and practice of Boards in the past. He most emphatically denied that the statements which had been received by the First Lord of the Treasury and the Solicitor General had any foundation in fact. His Board had, for 21 years, worked most cordially with the managers of Voluntary Schools, and there had never been between them any differences of the kind which had been suggested. There had been no suspicion or jealousy, but there had always been a desire on the part of the Board to give all the assistance they could to the Voluntary Schools, and he had no recollection of any complaint being made by the Voluntary School managers as to the ail-ministration of the Act of 1870, which was now so much condemned. He believed in other places the same feeling existed; in fact, suspicion and jealousy had no existence either amongst the Boards, the managers, the children, or the teachers, but they were promoted and provoked by religious fanatics, who wished to throw an apple of discord into the schools, not finding a sufficiently large arena outside in which to fight their battles. Let him show how a borough like Portsmouth would be affected if this Bill became law. At the present time there were 23 Board Schools in Portsmouth, 54 departments, 20,971 children in average attendance, and 24,000 on the registers. £33,500 was yearly contributed by the inhabitants to education, and that sum represented a rate of 1s. in the £1. The district of Portsmouth could not be regarded as a necessitous School Board district, and therefore would receive nothing. Other places near at hand,—places with 20,000 inhabitants—which had not moved a finger themselves would receive substantial grants under this Measure. ["Hear, I hear!"] With regard to religious education, he asserted that no difficulty had arisen, or would arise, if the Government maintained, as he, thought they were bound to maintain, that in the case of schools which were practically supported by the State, there should be popular control and popular management. Such difficulty only arose in the mind of one 459 of an ecclesiastical bent, and who, as a rule, had very little to do with popular education. That person was generally the right-hand man of the rector or vicar who managed the Voluntary School. But if this Measure, exciting, as it would excite, popular sympathies and popular passions upon religious questions, was passed, he could not see where that definite doctrinal basis which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House had asserted was the only foundation upon which grants could be made to Voluntary Schools, was to be found. He admitted that as a matter of statesmanship the Catholic Schools should be dealt with independently, but directly they widened the sphere and took, as they did take, the Church of England Schools as comprising nearly three-fourths of the Voluntary Schools, the case was altered. Did anyone assume that the Church of England Schools only contained Church of England children? Nothing of the kind. Church of England children were there, but the majority of them were not Church of England in the sense in which they recognised Churchmanship from Dissenters. They went there cither because the school was very near, or because their parents were totally indifferent to the teaching which was carried on there of a denominational character. If they were going to make these schools departments of the civil service establishment, then, on the principle which governed the nation in all its administration, they necessarily demanded and must have popular representation upon the management of these schools. There was no definite doctrinal basis to be found in the Church of England Schools, and he was speaking with intimate acquaintance as a contributor and supporter of them in co-operation with the School Board system. In Portsmouth, the denominational schools were as broadly different as were the Catholic schools from the Presbyterian schools. What would be the consequence if these questions were to arise? They would be very soon taking sides, and their system would have to be enlarged, so that the management and control of the schools should not be left, as they were now nearly and would ultimately be entirely maintained at the cost of the nation, in the hands of the clerical President of the Board of Management. That they should be so 460 left was an exceedingly dangerous doctrine to maintain, and there was a popular protest and resentment against this retrograde movement on the part of the Government, which they would not hear the last of until they had ceased to be a Government. With regard to the immediate distribution of this fund, he gave some figures which showed the self-sacrifices the population he represented had made because there was a lack of public elementary education. Then the question arose, what was a necessitous Board? A necessitous Board surely was a Board that was relatively overcharged and overtaxed as compared with other Boards. If they took a large working class community, such as Portsmouth, with its 182,000 inhabitants, most of whom were simple working people, and contributed relatively more to the school rate than did the other classes, it became unjust to leave them out of such a Measure as this with the chance of getting something, if time permitted, at the fag end of the Session. Personally, he did not think anything would be done which would be at all commensurate with the claims which such a community had on the generosity of the House. If Portsmouth had its fair share of the Imperial Grant which was proposed by this Bill it would receive, £5,500. Such a Measure as this, coupled with all that was said last year in promoting a Bill, which fell to pieces almost as soon as it was brought into existence, would give a blow to education and educational progress in this country from which it would take years to recover. Look at the people who were encouraged by this Measure. A bonus was given to these people because they had done nothing, while the people who had striven and had given their last penny towards the expenditure for the education of their children, were left out with a promise of a dole. The idea of "necessitous Board Schools" was so impressed on the House that his belief was that they would have, following this Bill, a paltry and insignificant Measure that might give £50,000 or £100,000, but would not touch the question at issue.
§ MR. W. F. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
said the School Board of Portsmouth had pretty nearly swallowed up all the Voluntary Schools in that district, and he thought the House would agree that the "necessity" was not with 461 the Board but with the Voluntary Schools.
§ SIR B. BAKER
said that at the present moment he had no recollection of more than one school being taken over, but certainly not more than two.
§ MR. W. F. LAWRENCE
said the hon. Member had told them that the Board Schools educated 25,000 children, and he had had a paper put into his hand which showed that the Voluntary Schools represented only 3,900 children, and therefore he thought his statement was sufficiently accurate. When the hon. Member said there was no irritation or difficulty between the two systems it was perhaps because there had been what they saw in the Zoological Gardens—an assimilation of one system by the other. The hon. Member, like so many other hon. Members opposite, had based his opposition to this Measure largely on the ground that if did not give adequate control to any local body. He submitted that this was one of the few arguments that could be reduced to an arithmetical ratio. At present the State contributed about 35s. for every child. Under this Bill there would be another 5s. Hitherto, there had never been any complaint that the control at Whitehall was inadequate to see that this 35s. contribution was efficiently expended, and could it be argued that an addition of 5s. to that amount immediately disqualified what had hitherto been an efficient body? He was not prepared to define that night what was necessary for local control, but he submitted that if that was the best argument that the Opposition could bring against this Measure it was wholly inadequate and, in fact, somewhat insignificant. He approached this Bill as the representative of a district in which they educated a larger proportion of the children in Voluntary Schools than in Board Schools. They had 111,000 places and something like 100,000 children in the whole of the schools. Two-thirds of those were educated in the Voluntary Schools, and in view of that fact the House would see that their interest in the Bill was of the most vital character. The Solicitor General told them they ought not to grudge this 5s., because by its means they would promote the thorough efficiency of the Voluntary Schools. He heartily agreed with and endorsed what the hon. and learned 462 Gentleman said when he affirmed that it was not the relief of the subscriber but the benefit of education which by this Bill they intended to keep in view. And if he offered any criticism of the Bill it was not because he grudged the 5s. grant, but because it was inadequate, so far as they were concerned, and did not go far enough to produce that thorough efficiency which they all so much desired. Though he voted with the greatest pleasure for the Bill, it was rather from philanthropic motives, and because he did not wish his constituency, though it would imperfectly benefit, to stand in the way of districts that would distinctly benefit by it. The difference in the cost between the two systems, Board and Voluntary, in Liverpool, was His a head, so that the House would see that the promise of 5s. or 6s. was far from representing the amount of money necessary to bring Voluntary Schools up to the desired point of efficiency. He quite understood the difficulties of the Government were very great, because their followers were not entirely united on this important question, and, considering how short a time the question of rate aid had been before the country, it could hardly be expected that country districts should at once see that the interests of Voluntary Schools should certainly take precedence of their preconceived ideas. But in the north people fully believed there was no system which could adequately meet the pressing need of schools unless it was a system founded on universal subventions by the State or partial subventions from the rates. They were not afraid of that fair amount of local control to show that the ratepayers' money was properly spent. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not blame the Government that, in the present division of thought in their ranks, they should hesitate to adopt a system which he believed was the only logical system. The system foreshadowed by the Bill was rather a hand-to-mouth method, and did not really and adequately meet requirements. It did not thoroughly proceed on any principle that he considered would be likely to be permanent. He had shown how, pecuniarily, it would not meet their needs in Liverpool, and it was also obvious that the Bill would create differences of treatment between localities, and certainly would do so between schools and 463 parishes. In such cases there would no doubt be a certain amount of questioning, and this would probably give rise to further legislation. The Bill would only-be an interval Measure, and when the country came to consider the subject more thoroughly, assuredly there would be a demand for something more final in its method, something more definite in its result. The Church House scheme proceeded on a logical principle. The rate aid would have applied to only a limited section of the country, to some 612 out of 9,300 schools, and in the result, as applied to 20 important towns, 18 of these would have had rates reduced, and only two, of which two Liverpool was one, would have had their rates increased to an extent not exceeding 2d. in the pound. There was not sufficient reason for that scheme being so emphatically condemned as it had been by the country districts, for though it would not have done so much for them, it would have done much for urban districts. There was every reason to show that what was wanted was local option in regard to this question. The differences in districts were so great in different parts of the country that, however much universal handling might be desired, financial and other circumstances differed so much that local option was the only way of solving the question. He highly appreciated what the Bill proposed in the way of association, though there was great opposition to that on the other side of the House, and some opposition on the Government side of the House. But it should be remembered that, whatever the Vice President of the Council in his office might lay down to-day was capable of being altered by a future Vice President. It was really not going to have the force of law, it was a new scheme that would require thinking out. It was not a law of the Modes and Persians; it was merely giving power to the Department to draft a scheme liable to subsequent alteration. If it proved successful it would not be altered, and as experience grew, either party could make more formal what was now proposed in the nature of a rough draft. It was altogether a misnomer to talk of the Act of 1870 as a settlement. It was entirely an experiment. It was thought then, though that idea had disappeared, that it was founded on the principle of "live and let 464 live;" but, in spite of what the hon. Member for Oxford University had said, it was not the case that Church of England Schools were in any sense in that progressive condition he intimated. True, their numbers had increased something like 100 per cent., but the children educated in Board Schools were increasing in a much greater ratio than the children in Voluntary Schools, and it was very clear, when you compared school districts in the north and also in London, that the proportion of children in Voluntary Schools would not increase at the same rate as those in Board Schools. How could it be so when efficiency and success were matters of £ s. d.? You can-no; expect in Voluntary subscriptions that plethora of money to be found in most rated districts. The country had for years demanded relief for Voluntary Schools. The Bill of last year was rejected because it was too big, and it was right that the Government should limit their desire in the first place to Voluntary Schools. But when it was remembered what the Government last year proposed for poorer Board Schools, it was absurd to say the Government were indifferent to the claims of necessitous Board School districts. He approved of the provision for an efficient audit. It was necessary that public money should be carefully looked after, and without doubt serious difficulties had arisen from the neglect of accounts by managers. The late Vice President (Mr. Acland) had taxed the Northern Churchmen with not subscribing sufficiently to the support of their schools, but on that point he read a few figures comparing what was done in Lancashire with what had been done in London. London had 250,000 more inhabitants than Lancashire, but the school attendance was 578,000 in London and 585,000 in Lancashire. The Voluntary School children in London were less than 30 per cent. of the whole, and in Lancashire 80 per cent. of the whole. In London were provided 250,000 free places; in Lancashire 715,000. In London the proportion of subscriptions was as 46s. to 90s. in Lancashire. There was nothing to complain of in the zeal of the northern counties for Voluntary education. He cordially wished the Bill success; it was a Measure of the power of the Government rather than the extent of their goodwill. He 465 hoped the Government would think out the great question of rate aid, for which so much could be said, and spread belief in it among country districts where there was much to be learned as to the needs of Voluntary Schools.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
said the hon. Member who had just spoken had made an important admission that one result of the Bill would be to create a certain amount of inequality between districts, and he gave a remarkable illustration when he said that in Liverpool two-thirds of the children attended Voluntary Schools and in London only a third; and, the payment of the grant being 5s. per child, Liverpool, in spite of the difference in population, would receive twice as much as London in contributions from the Imperial Exchequer. The Solicitor General argued that one effect of the Bill would be that the ratepayers would receive assistance, owing to the fact that, Voluntary Schools being kept in existence, School Board rates would be saved. But this was no answer to the case where you have nothing but Board Schools in a district. Take the case of three parishes, A, B, and C. Parish A was a School Board district, and B and C Voluntary School districts. The Solicitor General said that if parish A did not pay the 5s. grant to parishes B and C there was to be a School Board rate there, consequently parish A, which was already paying the School Board rate, must be taxed in order to save parishes B and C their School Board rate. That was a gross injustice to parish A, and therefore the Solicitor General had made out a case for the inequality the Opposition were attributing to the operation of this Bill. The Solicitor General said that under the Agricultural Rates Bill of last year they had already made contributions towards the School Board rates in several country districts. But that was creating another inequality, because the very districts which would receive one-half of the rates under the Agricultural Rates Bill were districts where the School Board rates were light. In the districts where they were heavy, a small pittance was received under the Agricultural Bates Bill, so that they were simply creating a gross inequality as between the various districts, 466 which would be intensified and exaggerated by the Agricultural Rates Bill rather than improved. There was another inequality, and that was with regard to the payment of rates on Voluntary Schools. In the case of Luton, where they had a School Board district, Luten would have to pay the rates, but the surrounding districts, where they had Voluntary Schools, would be exempted from the rates. Again, take the case of Festiniog, where there was nothing but Board Schools, while in one or two of the surrounding parishes there was nothing but Voluntary Schools. What would be the result of this Bill? The Voluntary School parishes would be exempted from the payment of rates in respect of their Voluntary Schools, but the Board School districts would have to pay rates in respect of their Board Schools. By thus exempting Voluntary Schools from the payment of rates they were penalising the School Board districts in order to pay the rates of the Voluntary Schools, and were doing it entirely at the expense of the Board School districts, which, were making great sacrifices in order to give children an efficient education. The hon. Member for Liverpool said they were not going far enough. He should like to ask hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, How far did they propose to go? What was the proposition of hon. Gentlemen opposite? Did they say that the whole of the burden of the maintenance of the Voluntary Schools ought to be borne by the country? He thought they were entitled to an answer to that question. The hon. Member for Liverpool said it was a question of arithmetic—proportion of control. That being so then he (Mr. Lloyd-George) said that the proportion of their contributions towards the maintenance of the Voluntary Schools was much higher than the proportion of control they got over these schools. The Solicitor General said the State ought to hold the balance evenly between the Voluntary and the Board Schools. Did that mean that the whole burden of the maintenance of these schools was to be borne by the State? If so he thought it was perfectly ridiculous to contend that the two systems were on the same basis. The speech of the Solicitor General, fortified by that of the hon. Member for Liverpool, had simply proved that the 467 systems were not on the same basis. First of all they had got the very material distinction of control between them. The Solicitor General absolutely gave away the case of the Voluntary Schools. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the crux of control was the appointment of teachers, as of course it was. The fact of the matter was that the success of a school depended far more on the teachers they appointed than on the teaching that was conveyed. In this one crux of popular control the State had not got it, but it was in the hands of one or two managers. The Voluntary Schools were in the position of private adventure schools, and they had an entirely free hand. If they did not care to accept money from the State they could refuse, and still carry on the Voluntary Schools absolutely independent of any control. There was another point where there was a considerable difference between the two systems. One system was run absolutely in the interest of one sect. He considered that to be a very material difference, and so did hon. Members opposite. So important was it, that the organ of the Church Party, The Guardian, last week said that if they did not get this five-shilling grant they did not consider they got adequate compensation for the amount of secular instruction they were conveying in their schools, and unless they did get the grant they would run their schools purely and simply as mission schools. The Guardian was the exponent of Church views on political matters. ["Oh!"] Well, he would say of the more important and the more sober-headed of the Church Party, and in the opinion of the more important and influential section of the Church Party, the most important point, after all, in these schools was not the secular instruction that was conveyed to the children, but the definite, dogmatic theological instruction conveyed to them. Here they had one set of schools run entirely in the interest of one sect, and another set of schools where one sect had no advantage over another. How could anyone contend that they were entitled to the same measure of support from the public? The House had simply to look at the way in which teachers were appointed in the different schools. Take two parishes. In one they had a Voluntary School—a Church School in 468 which he himself was for eight years. In that district nine-tenths of the children were Nonconformists, yet not a single teacher had ever been appointed who was not either a Churchman or did not give up Nonconformity for Churchmanship before he was appointed. The enormous preponderance of the Nonconformist population was shown by the fact that in this School Board district the Churchmen had only been able to return one member of the Board. They would have expected the Nonconformists to retaliate this—he would not say narrowness and bigotry that was displayed in the adjoining parish. But after all it was far better to trust to the people for a sense of fair-play rather than to any priesthood or any sect. What happened in that school. With only one Churchman on the School Board, the head master was a Churchman, and so was every one of the assistant masters and mistresses. A short time ago a mistress was appointed. There were several applicants for the post. One of them was a Church-woman; she had no qualification and no certificate, but she was a good teacher, and for that reason alone she was appointed, although there were several Nonconformist competitors. But in the adjoining schools, however bright a lad might be, however excellent a teacher he might make, not a single Nonconformist boy had ever been appointed, though nine-tenths of the children were of that persuasion. He asked whether the school which practically excluded the whole of the nine-tenths of the children in the parish was entitled to the same measure of support as the school which treated every child alike without distinction of creed. This was not the only distinction between Board and Voluntary School teachers. The only service Board Schools were entitled to expect from their teachers was service directly connected with the education of the children, but teachers in Voluntary Schools were expected to play the organ, etc., act as secretary to a Church, and fulfil all kinds of onerous functions which were practically made a condition of appointment in many schools. It was not a question of religious or secular instruction but of religious and sectarian instruction. ["Hear, hear!"] The clergy were given opportunities for 469 proselytising. In many cases the appointment of a young person to the position of teacher was subject to his becoming a renegade to the religion of his fathers. He knew something of Voluntary Schools. He attended one for eight years. ["Hear, hear!"] There was no doubt the clergy used the schools for mission purposes. They made use of opportunities among the two or three million children who attended. Why did the laity support the Voluntary Schools? Not always from religious motives. It was a question of rates. If the Voluntary Schools were closed it was said that the rates would be doubled. Much was said about the "intolerable strain" of the cost of Voluntary Schools. In one of the parishes of Carnarvonshire 30s. per head was paid in voluntary subscriptions, or four times more than the average throughout the country. In 1893 £118 was received in subscriptions. In adjoining parishes there were School Boards and rates of 9d. and 1s. If (hose who kept the Voluntary Schools going in the first parish abated their subscriptions where there was a 9d. rate £183 would have to be paid, and where there was a rate of Is. £245. With the advent of a School Board the number of schools also would be increased. So it was not to promote religious education but to save their own pockets. ["Hear, hear!"] In the district of the Penrhyn quarries there was the largest voluntary subscription in Carnarvonshire. In Lord Penrhyn's own village £440 was subscribed yearly. In the adjoining Festiniog district there was a School Board, and the rate was 1s. 9d. If there had been a School Board in Lord Penrhyn's parish and Lord Penrhyn paid the rate in the same proportion that it was paid at Festiniog he would have to pay £2,188. This was the sacrifice made for religion. In Festiniog there were also higher grade schools where technical instruction was given in quarrying. They earned an average grant of 22s. 6d., and the schools in the Penrhyn district 18s. This was the test of the superiority of a school. These Voluntary Schools gave as meagre an education as the State would allow, and they paid their teachers, on whom the moral and mental welfare of three millions of children of this country depended to a large extent, stipends which their supporters would not dare to offer to the trainers of their racehorses— 470 [cheers]—and said, "Look at the sacrifices we are making for religious education. The strain is 'intolerable,' and we ask you, at the expense of the people to relieve us." A more impudent, hypocritical claim was never put forward. [Cheers.] It was said that religious teaching in Board Schools was not definite. What was definite religious teaching? The advancement, of the character of the child or the interests of a particular sect? If the character of the child was at stake there was no virtue or lesson which would conduce to the building up of sound, honest, manly character which could not be taught in Board Schools. But it was said that dogma must be taught. What was meant by dogma? He had had no definition. [An HON. MEMBER: "The religion of the parents!"] What! When nine-tenths of the children were Nonconformists. [Laughter and cheers.] If the religion of the parent was to settle what should be the definite religious instruction in these schools, the controversy in Wales would soon be put an end to, for there would be no Voluntary Schools or subscriptions, but universal Board Schools down there. But if by definite religious instruction was meant religious dogma, then it was proposed that, in the most subtle science, points which were in dispute with the most powerful intellects in the world were to be submitted to the judgment of an immature child who could not understand the simplest problem in arithmetic. ["Hear, hear!"] If that was going to be the definite religious instruction, let them give it to those who comprehended it. What scientific teaching would they dare to convey in this form? Supposing it were a question of history, what would hon. Members opposite think if the majority of the Voluntary Schools were managed by Liberal Dissenters, who used books which conveyed distorted ideas of the facts of history? Supposing that in reading the history of early Christianity the doctrine that the property given to the Church was national property was inculcated into the children; and supposing the children were taught the doctrine of disestablishment and disendowment, what would be said? Let them suppose a school, the managers of which were Socialists, and that they had a catechism prepared by some Socialist Dr. Gace, who taught the doctrine that all 471 property was simply accumulated robbery; would not they object to the sum of 35s. per child being given at the expense of the State Treasury towards maintaining schools where those revolutionary doctrines were taught? The fact was this was simply an attempt on the part of the priests to obtain their old power over the education of the people—["hear, hear!"]—but that was not the sort of instruction that was wanted in, this country. They should teach the children historical facts, read the Scriptures to them, discipline their intellects, and train their moral perceptions; and then, when the children came to decide these questions for themselves, they would be able honestly to select those dogmas best adapted to the development of their natures. [Cheers.]
§ *COLONEL MILWARD (Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon)
said that in every speech that he had made during the recess he had said that a measure of justice must be given to necessitous Board Schools equally as to necessitous Voluntary Schools. [Opposition cheers.] As a matter of fact, the Board Schools obtained, at all events, some relaxation under the present Bill—that was to say, they obtained help with regard to the 17s. 6d. limit. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not know whether hon. Members were aware of the effect of the working of that limit. In Redditch during the last 18 months, in the very large Voluntary Schools, in each department of boys, girls, and infants, they had been able to earn the highest possible grant in every possible subject. The immediate result of this great success on the part of the teachers was that under the 17s. 6d. limit they lost no less a sum than £108. Was not that a fine which ought not to be imposed upon any school? That was simply an impossible state of things. That was how the question affected Voluntary Schools. It affected Board Schools in another way. The Chairman of the King's Norton School Board had said to him that it was a mistake to think that the 17s. 6d. limit affected Voluntary Schools only, it effected Board Schools also very largely. They were constantly running up their expenditure for the sake of getting out of the 17s. 6d. limit; they painted and repaired their schools, and bought books and materials when it was 472 not necessary for that purpose. So that the removal of the 17s. 6d. limit was really as great a benefit to Board Schools as to Voluntary Schools. [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "Hear, hear!"] The Conference at the Church House upon this subject had been of an historic character. The resolutions adopted by the Church House were (1) that there should be 6s. to all elementary schools alike; (2) that it should be paid to federations only of Voluntary Schools; (3) that there should be aid from the rates; (4) that the administration of the aid grant should be vested in federations; (5) that religious denominations should have the right to increase their school accommodation; (6) the removal of the 17s. 6d. limit; and (7) the removal of the rates. The whole of those points were to be found in the Government Bill with the exception of the fifth resolution. They had been in advance of their time in demanding aid from the rates—rate aid in School Board Districts only, and which should not exceed voluntary contributions—but it would come—["hear, hear!"]—on certain conditions. The Government Measure had the body of the Church behind it, and had, in a large measure, the support of the Roman Catholic body. He wished to speak in terms of the highest respect of that body with regard to education. They had a very difficult task to discharge. It was thought by some that Roman Catholic schools were to be found in the large towns only; but he assured the House that was not the case. There were places where there were exceedingly poor Roman Catholic schools; where the masters and mistresses were sorely underpaid, and where the priest himself had to defray nearly the whole of the cost. This was done on principle; but the Roman Catholics were never ashamed of their religion, either with regard to education or generally. Their whole education system was founded upon religion, and he was greatly pleased to see that they were satisfied with this Bill. Under it they would receive a large instalment. They hoped to receive great benefits from it. The last speaker said that the Church schools were run in the interest of a particular sect. How could that be, when it was well known that many Nonconformist 473 children attended Church schools in districts where there were Nonconformist schools? If that was true, and it was true, how could it be said that the Church schools were run in the interest of a sect? He came now to the question of the country at large. The country believed that the denominational schools needed assistance, and that if that assistance was not given they would be broken up. He quoted figures to show how greatly in arrears some of the schools were, although most economically managed. Reference had been made to the condition of Birmingham Church schools. On this subject he had a letter from the Bishop of Coventry, which stated that the. 5,000 raised in these last two years had saved 14 Church schools in Birmingham from extinction. The Bishop went on to say:—We want the money for the improvement of education, for better salaries to our teachers, on whom has fallen the chief part of the intolerable strain, for saving pupil teachers from excessive drudgery, for better appliances. If the Government will enable us to do these things—and the present Bill will do so—our schools will be on a better and more assured footing, public confidence will be increased, and subscriptions will flow in in larger volume. Should the help he refused we shall be perilously near extinction all round; for our teachers will fall away, pupil teachers will be almost impossible to procure, and public confidence in our permanence as part of the educational system of the country will vanish.They did not want money to pay off their debts, but to improve the position of their teachers, and to improve the appliances of their schools. With regard to audit, he proposed to place on the Paper an Amendment changing the word "may" into "shall." opposition cries of "Hear, hear!"] They had been told that the money would not be devoted to school purposes, and that it would not be given to the schools at all. Those were challenges which they could not possibly allow to pass by; therefore he hoped the Government would make the audit more strict. Then there was the question of representative management. [Opposition cheers.] He admitted there was too much one-man management in the case of Voluntary Schools. [Opposition cheers.] He did not look at the matter from the point of view of hon. Gentlemen opposite. They imagined that in the Voluntary Schools 474 children were crammed, as it were, into a mill and turned out all in the same nice religious pattern. [Laughter.] What he meant was that the management of those schools was thrown too much upon the clergy of both town and country parishes. Clergymen of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church were brought up in the tradition that to teach and train the children was their duty, and they did it, and for doing it the country owed them a deep debt of Gratitude. ["Hear, hear!"] But it was unfair to throw upon the clergy the entire burden of the management of the schools, and if the Government were to introduce a clause to add to the present managers appointed by the trustees of the school one half more to be appointed by the parents or by the subscribers, or, the best of all, by the village or parish or urban council—[Opposition cheers]—that introduction of the nominative and the elective element into the management of the schools would greatly improve the position of those schools. [Opposition cheers.] But he was not giving utterance to any new doctrine. He had heard it over and over again at diocesan and Church meetings. ["Hear, hear!"] They were not in the least frightened by the idea of popular control in the management of their schools. On the contrary, they hailed it. ["Hear, hear!"] He heartily supported the Bill so far as it went, but he hoped it would be supplemented by another Bill extending the benefits of the present Measure to the Board Schools. [Opposition cheers.]
§ SIR FRANK LOCKWOOD (York)
said that in one sense this had been a most extraordinary Debate. The subject had now been discussed for two nights on the Second Reading of the Bill, and it had been discussed at length upon the Resolution preliminary to the introduction of the Measure. And yet during all that time the House had not heard one word from the right hon. Gentleman the head of the Department responsible for education. [Cheers.] That state of things was without precedent, [Cheers.] What would have been said in 1870 if, when a great matter of educational interest was before the House, Mr. Forster had not taken part in the Debate? ["Hear, bear'"] Why, then, did the right hon. Gentleman (the present head of the Education Department) sit dumb in the 475 House? [Cheers.] Was he right in supposing that this most extraordinary position of affairs meant that the Vice President of the Council rather agreed with the criticisms of the Bill than with the arguments in support of it? [Cheers.] He hoped that before the Debate closed the right hon. Gentleman would state his views in order that the House might know how far right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench were in agreement with the heads of the Education Department. This was not a domestic question, but a question upon which the House had a right to have light thrown; and he hoped the information would be forthcoming before the Debate concluded. [Cheers.] In regard to the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had last spoken, there was much in it with, which those who opposed the Bill were in agreement. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. and gallant Gentleman stated that when, the Bill got into Committee he would put down an Amendment to substitute the word "shall" for "may." The hon. and gallant Gentleman had better be quick then, for he would find a great number of Gentlemen on the same errand. [Laughter and cheers.] The hon. and gallant Gentleman further stated that he was in favour of representative control.
§ SIR FRANK LOCKWOOD
said that if the hon. and gallant Gentleman, succeeded in inducing the First Lord of the Treasury, who was in charge of the Bill, to accept his views, it would greatly simplify the duties of the right hon. Gentleman. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. and gallant Gentleman had found fault with a very able speech which had been delivered in the course of the evening in opposition to the Bill. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had rather taken his hon. Friend to task for the strength of the language he had used. But perhaps his hon. Friend had had some provocation for the strength of his language. He was not aware whether or not the hon. and gallant Gentleman had been in his place on Thursday night—if he had been he must have heard the hon. Member for the Tunbridge Division of Kent say that, the position of those who opposed this Bill was animated by hatred of religious education and detestation of religious instruction, and that those who 476 opposed this Bill did so in order to destroy religious education. He did not see the hon. Member for the Tunbridge Division in his place, but he assumed that the hon. Member had had some elementary religious education himself, though it appeared to have done very little towards fostering Christian charity in his heart. ["Hear, hear!"] For his own part, he could not help deprecating the introduction of religious discord into this discussion at all. ["Hear, hear!"] Did hon. Members think that the calm consideration of this question was likely to be forwarded by the introduction of such a topic as that? ["Hear, hear!"] He entirely agreed with an observation that had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies on the subject. In the very early days of the right hon. Gentleman in that House—he believed that he was reading from what was probably the first speech of the right hon. Gentleman in that House—the right hon. Gentleman had said that,his experience bad led him to the conclusion that the religious difficulty was not the difficulty of the parents, and that, in fact, very little would be heard of it if the priests and parsons would stand aside.["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] He did not know whether that was one of the opinions that the right hon. Gentleman had changed with the advance of years. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] At all events, in 1876 those were the views held by the right hon. Gentleman, with which he was glad to say he cordially concurred. ["Hear, hear!"] For his own part he declined to be regarded as an enemy of the Voluntary Schools. He had never taken up that attitude, and he hoped that he should never do so. ["Hear, hear!"] He was one of those who were willing to admit that at a time when, to its shame be it said, the State did nothing for elementary education, the Voluntary Schools did what little was done in that direction, and therefore he was disposed to deal fairly with, them; but at the same time they must not lay themselves open to the reproach that they were dealing unfairly with the other classes of schools. ["Hear, hear!"] His hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General had drawn a very gloomy picture of the probable fate of the Voluntary Schools in the event of this Bill not, being passed. His hon. and 477 learned Friend said that unless the Bill passed the Voluntary Schools would slowly drive to their death. His hon. and learned Friend, however, must have found himself clearly in conflict with the hon. Member for the Oxford University, who asserted that the Voluntary Schools were never in such a flourishing condition, or were doing such good work as they were at present. His hon. and learned Friend had taken upon himself to repudiate the charge that the Voluntary Schools were "laggard," but it had never been urged against the Voluntary Schools that they were laggard in point of time. They had never been reproached because they did not come into existence at an earlier date than they did, but they had been and were reproached with being laggard in efficiency. ["Hear, hear!"] In fact, as regarded the Voluntary Schools, he was firmly convinced that he was more favourably disposed towards them than the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury was towards the Board Schools. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] The Bill proposed to alter the whole of the position as regarded the Voluntary Schools, which by having this grant made to them would be deprived of the sympathy that was at present extended to them in many quarters, and instead of making them more popular would make them most unpopular. Was the attitude taken up by the Government in connection with this matter such as they had any right to expect! How was it to be supposed that the Government were going to bring in a Bill dealing with Voluntary Schools to the ex-elusion of Board Schools. ["Hear, hear!"] The First Lord of the Treasury had spoken of his speeches in the country, and the right hon. Gentleman expressed his sympathy with those who had read them. He was afraid he had not read them all. [Laughter.] That was his misfortune. But he had read a good many of them, and there was only one which appeared to him to convey any inkling of the intention of the Government. It was delivered at either Manchester or Rochdale, and he was sure the Vice President of the Council would remember it. [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman said that he was going to cut up the Vice President's big Bill and bring in a little Bill. That was the only intimation of the kind of Education 478 Bill that was going to be introduced. Who could have thought that in that process of dissection the right hon. Gentleman was going to cut apart that which had been advocated by persons of great responsibility and speakers of great weight as the principle to be followed?
§ SIR FRANK LOCKWOOD
said that was the one which struck him as peculiarly indicating the course the right hon. Gentleman intended to follow. He supposed he was not allowed to refer any longer to that which his right hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham referred—the statutory equality statement of the Duke of Devonshire. The right hon. Gentleman's explanation was that the Duke of Devonshire was opposed to anything like an interference with what he called statutory equality. That was said in answer to the demand of the Bishops for an alteration in the law which would give them a grant in respect of Voluntary Schools. The Duke of Devonshire was under the impression that the Bishops had come to ask for some alteration in the fixed grant, and he explained to the worthy prelates that under the law he could not do what they asked because he would be disturbing the statutory equality. The Duke of Devonshire said that the Bishops did not put their case very clearly. He would like to hear what the Bishops said about the Duke—[laughter]—but they had not taken the public into their confidence in this matter. The Duke of Devonshire explained the law to them, as they perfectly well knew it to be, and if they had not known it to be so they would not have waited on him. But what else was there to give notice of the change of attitude of the Government? It might be said that in last year's Bill there was a departure from this principle of statutory equality. The fourth section provided that certain advantages should be given to Voluntary Schools, and a member of a School Board pointed out to the Secretary for the Colonies to what a serious inequality that provision would give rise, and this was his answer:—As regards the differentiation between Board and Voluntary Schools under the special aid grant, I feel there is prima facie much to be said on the matter, and I have no doubt this 479 clause will receive the fullest consideration in Committee on the Bill.That amounted to this, that that was a matter on which the Government had an open mind, and to which they would give benevolent consideration. The House had not the slightest notion of the attitude now adopted until the First Lord of the Treasury gave notice of his Resolution.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I am most unwilling to interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I must point out that I said specifically on more than one occasion that the question of Voluntary Schools would be the subject, and the only subject, of the Bill we should first introduce. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ SIR FRANK LOCKWOOD
said he of course accepted the right hon. Gentleman's statement. He was only stating what an insignificant member of the public like himself thought. If the right hon. Gentleman stated that he had said he would deal with Voluntary Schools, and not with Board Schools, he accepted his statement, and would look for the speech. They were told that they must wait, and that there was another little Bill in preparation; but the right hon. Gentleman declined to let them know what was in that Bill, and it remained in the box. He thought that everyone would agree with him, however, that a Bill on the Table was worth: any number of Bills in the box. [Laughter.] If the right hon. Gentleman would only tell them that this second Bill would provide for an equivalent grant to Board Schools he would materially assist the progress of the present Measure. They were told that, by discussing the Bill before the House they were delaying the production of the other Bill. If that were an argument of any weight all the Government would have to do would be to put down for consideration a variety of Measures which were most obnoxious to the Opposition, and to answer criticism by saying, "Your opposition is most unreasonable, because by discussing these Measures you are preventing others which will be less objectionable to you from being reached." They would not be debarred from criticising the Bill now under consideration by the Government's statement that the injustice which they were creating by it 480 was an injustice which they hoped to remedy by a subsequent Measure. How apparent were the inequalities which this Bill would cause! In the Yorkshire towns, Hull, Bradford, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Halifax, Sheffield, York, and Huddersfield, there were 79,000 Voluntary School children and 148,000 Board School children. Under this Bill the latter would get nothing, although, if it were extended to Board Schools, they would get £37,000 a year. Lancashire, he knew, would not suffer the same amount of injustice, but he was a Yorkshireman, and as such he protested against this Bill. There never had been a great amount of friendly feeling between Yorkshire and Lancashire since the wars of the Roses. [Laughter.] Take the case of York. There the number of Voluntary School children was 7,621, and the number of Board School children 1,855. The former would get £1,900. He did not grudge them one penny of the money, but it was a great hardship that the Board Schools should not get the £463 to which they were entitled on a fair distribution of the money. The Solicitor General had endeavoured to justify the discrepancies shown to exist. He admired the discretion of the Government in selecting the hon. and learned Member as their apologist. It would never have done to have put up an English Member to defend this Bill. [Laughter and cheers.] But his hon. and learned Friend could go down to the Inverness Burghs without the slightest apprehension, for he would hear nothing about this Education Bill there. He would discuss the mussel beds of the Moray Firth or some other animating subject of that kind—[laughter]—and he would hear no word of reproach in, respect of his action in connection, with (his Bill. How would the proposed grant affect the subscription lists? The Government themselves were evidently apprehensive of the result, because they had introduced the words "due regard to be had to the maintenance of voluntary subscriptions." Of course those were most ineffective and indefinite words. The right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs made an appeal to the Government to say what those words meant; but a discretion had been shown in avoiding an answer to the question. The Opposition knew what they wanted and what they ought to have, and they knew what 481 was the view of the right hon. Member for Dartford as to what ought to be the safeguard. The right hon. Gentleman said:—It should be a sine qua non in all oases in which assistance was to be given to the locality that there should be some guarantee on the part of the locality that the subsisting subscriptions should be maintained.But there was nothing of the kind in the Bill. [Cheers.] There was a benevolent wish that these subscriptions might be continued; due regard was to be had to their maintenance; but beyond this indefinite suggestion there was absolutely nothing in the Bill which guaranteed their maintenance even at the present rate. The Government did more than show that they were indifferent in this matter. His hon. and learned Friend complained that nothing had been said with regard to the 17s. 6d. limit. That 17s. 6d. limit was at any rate in some cases a safeguard for the maintenance of the voluntary subscriptions, and this the Government had given up. What would be the best Amendment which could be made in this Measure? The Government should call it a "Denominational Education Bill," because that title would more fitly represent its aims and objects than if they retained the present title. On the question of control his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington was under the impression that the associations were to manage the schools. His hon. and learned Friend was evidently not aware that their duty was one of distribution, and he spoke of them as "suggested associations." of course his hon. and learned Friend knew nothing about them. [Laughter.] Who did? No one had been told how they were to be created, who were to be eligible for election to them, how long they were to continue, and what was to be their character. The right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs had pressed this question, but had obtained no answer. His right hon. Friend had asked what permission there would be to "pool" the payments under the Bill. Would there be an objection to a rural dean "pooling" with an urban archdeacon? [Laughter.] But there had been no answer to the question. There was one good reason why those explanations could not be given-because there was no one opposite who was in a position to give them. [Laughter 482 and cheers.] It was not a matter on which the Government had as yet apparently made up their minds. There appeared to be two great principles which were outraged by this Bill which the House had a right to see preserved. The Vice President of the Council on May 5, 1896, said:—the principles which ought to regulate the distribution of the separate aid grant are—first, that it should be given to the schools which require aid and not to the schools which do not require aid—[cheers]—secondly, that security should be taken that the money so given should be used for the purpose of improving the educational efficiency.[Cheers and counter-cheers.] Neither of those principles were secured by this Bill. [Cheers.] They were giving aid to Voluntary Schools with a free hand, and denying it to the Board Schools. ["No, no!"] Under this Bill not a halfpenny would be given to the Board Schools which the Government admitted to be necessitous. So far as efficiency was concerned the Government said in the most indefinite language that certain things should be done, but they did not make it imperative that an audit should be held. No precautions were taken to see that the grant of public money should be dispersed in the interest for which it was apparently suggested, and for the objects which ought to be achieved—namely, efficiency in our education. [Cheers.]
§ THE VICE: PKESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir JOHN GORST,) Cambridge University
, who, on rising, was received with ironical Opposition cheers and counter Ministerial cheers, said: The hon. and learned Gentleman began his speech by a personal challenge to me which I feel it would be scarcely respectful to the House if I were not to take up. May I first correct an error into which the hon. and learned Gentleman has fallen? The Education Department of this country is presided over by a. Committee of the Privy Council which has a. President as well as a Vice President. [A laugh] The hon. and learned Gentleman having asked that the views of the Committee of the Privy Council on this Bill should be made known to the House of Commons, I am the person upon whom that duty properly devolves; and if the House has any interest in the views of that Committee I will endeavour in a few words— 483 [loud Opposition laughter]—to make those views known. The Committee of Council are a body of very practical men, and in the discharge of their official duties they do not question whether it is desirable or undesirable that Voluntary Schools should exist. They find that more than half the children of this country are now being educated in Voluntary Schools, and it was therefore their business to do which lies in their power, and to accept with gratitude any legislation which Parliament may pass to make those Voluntary Schools efficient. [Cheers.] Now, some of the Voluntary Schools are, of course, equal to the best Board Schools in the education they give, but average Voluntary Schools are not so efficient as the best Board Schools, and they are inefficient for two reasons. First of all, they lack money, and then they lack organisation, and this Bill supplies both. [Cheers and counter-cheers.] Now, the hon. and learned Member for York was rather pathetic in the doubts he threw upon the question whether, when this money was given to the Voluntary Schools, it would not go in relief of subscriptions, and I think other hon. Members have been equally sceptical as to the ultimate destination of this money. Well, the Committee of Council think—[laughter]—that if the Bill were to pass in its present form they would take special power to insure that the money voted by the benevolence of Parliament would really reach the schools, because they are to have "due regard to maintenance of Voluntary subscriptions." I do not think that the prescription of any definite minimum subscription would be an advisable experiment; first, because the minimum would have a great tendency to become a maximum, and, secondly, because the conditions of districts vary so much one from another that what would be a very proper prescription in one place would be an extremely improper one in another. [Cheers.] Therefore the Department, the Committee of Council, think—[laughter]—that, if they take very good care that the fact of falling off of subscriptions without any good and sufficient reason should never be recognised by them as of itself a ground for making a grant to any school, they would be able then to secure that at all events this special aid grant had not tended to 484 diminish the subscriptions at present given. They would have to take into consideration the possibility in any locality of obtaining adequate subscriptions, and they would take very good care that this special aid grant should supplement and not supplant the subscriptions already given in the district. Therefore I think that the present Bill will secure the object of putting larger sums of money into the hands of the managers of necessitous Board Schools—[ironical cheers]—and if that money is properly spent the schools will become more efficient. [Opposition laughter.] We are getting on step by step. Now how are we to secure, or how is the Department to secure, after this Bill is passed that this money will be applied to the proper parties? I have very often said to the House on occasions when addressing them on this subject, that the Education Department cannot of itself, with nearly 20,000 schools with which it has to correspond, discriminate between school and school, that there must be some local body to assist, and upon their advice it can discriminate between those schools which realty want aid and those which do not. Last year a body was proposed, a public body, an elective body, and hon. Gentlemen opposite would not have it. [Cheers.] This year another body is proposed. It is to be a voluntary associated body. Speakers on the other side have complained that they know nothing of the constitution of this association. Well, the Committee of Council are not, like certain public bodies in this country, a Department which will not carry out the decisions of Parliament—they are bound to carry out the decisions of Parliament. [Laughter.] But until the decisions of Parliament are known, and until they see the exact shape in which this Bill will be ultimately passed, it would be somewhat presumptuous, even in the Vice President of the Committee—[laughter]—to put the Act of Parliament into execution. [Laughter and cheers.] I think I can satisfy hon. Gentlemen opposite that the task is not an impossible one, and if Parliament were to please to intrust to the body of which I am the Vice President the duty of performing that task, they think they would be able to do it to the satisfaction of Parliament and 485 of the country. [Cheers.] The associations would have to be associations of considerable size. They would not be merely small groups of schools, but would represent something like a million of population. Then the governing body of these associations would be a body which would represent the managers of the individual schools. It would prevent that isolation of managers which is often legitimately complained of now, and which occasionally produces such very unfortunate results in our educational history. [Opposition cheers.] With the managers meeting together, bound in one common association, individual eccentricities would at least have a tendency to be suppressed. [Ironical cheers.] There would be no attempt to interfere with the individual management of the schools. Every effort would be made to prevent the loss of what is called local interest—["hear, hear!"]—so that the school would still be the school of the locality and the parish. But the managers of the various parishes would meet together, and so be brought into contact with one another. They would have a representative on the council of the association, and I presume that in a short time a considerable amount of experience and knowledge would be gained by the associated body, which would be of enormous value to the managers of individual schools, and would teach them better methods and encourage them in a very much improved management. The larger the association, the better would be the management, and the less would be the waste. Because it would be impossible for the Committee of the Privy Council, however wise, to discriminate between one association and another. They would have to give the same proportionate amount of special aid grant to one association as to another. They could not discriminate between the richer and the poorer, and therefore the larger you make the association the more likely they are to represent the average of the country, and the less risk of an undue amount of special aid grant going to one.
§ MR. JOHN DILLON (Mayo, E.)
Is there no power in the Bill to discriminate between associations in proportion to the necessities of the schools forming them?
§ SIR J. GORST
No, there is not; and therefore the larger the association the 486 more likely you are to get the average level. ["Hear, hear!"] I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman can suggest any improvement by which such a power of discrimination could be exercised, but I do not see any possibility of it. ["Hear, hear!"] On the other hand, these associations must not be so large that they lose their local character, because the members of the council of the association, must be in a position to estimate the relative condition of the different schools. The schools which would join the association would certainly he all the poorest schools; and I hope that none would stand out. If a great number stood out they would impose upon the Committee of Council, I do not like to say an impossible task, but an extremely difficult task which I doubt their capability of accomplishing. And the Bill is based upon the supposition that practically all schools would go into these associations. Those that stood out would be the exceptional cases; and the power in the Bill to refuse the grant to schools which did not join the association would have to be pretty freely used, so that no school would remain out without a valid excuse. [Opposition cheers.] These associations being so formed they would have the duty of preparing and submitting to the Department a scheme for the distribution of these grants in accordance with the terms of the Bill, so as to insure that the money would go to the schools that want it, and that it would be used by those schools for the purpose of improving education. Remember, this scheme is proposed by the association, but it is to be decided upon and approved by the Committee of Council, which is responsible to this House, and whose acts in approving or disapproving the scheme of any association can be called in question in this House. ["Hear, hear!"] The Department will have the assistance of its inspectors—men of considerable experience, spread over the whole of the country, acquainted to a great extent with the local necessities—who will advise the Department, and who will, I think, put them in a position to know whether any scheme which is sent up from any part of the country is one carrying out the designs of Parliament or not. Well, now, a scheme will not only have to indicate the amount of 487 public money which is to be allotted to each of the constituent schools, but it will also have to prescribe the purposes for which the money so allotted shall be used by the school. [An HON. MEMBER: "Will the schemes be published?"] That is a detail I have not gone into, but I have no doubt the schemes will be published. Now, may I just remind the House—we are talking practically now; we are talking about what we have talked very little about during this Debate—[Opposition cheers]—may I point out to the House what these associations may recommend and what the Education Department may prescribe! They may prescribe, for instance, that schools in the area for which the association is formed shall have a sufficient number of teachers, shall have additional teachers. I am quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rotherham will agree with me when I say it is impossible that there can be efficient education in any school in which the teacher is entirely single-handed—["hear, hear!"]—and yet there are all over the country numbers of small schools in which the teacher is single-handed. I am sure that if hon. Members would visit one of these schools they would be astonished that any person could conduct the school under the circumstances in which he was placed. ["Hear, hear!"] Well, the association may prescribe that in every school there shall be an assistant teacher, or at least one or more pupil teachers. They may prescribe that no school is to be kept on the minimum staff required by the Department. They may raise the level of education; and I should like to say I have often heard in this Debate Members talk about the Education Department having raised the cost of education. It is not the Education Department that has done that; it is the public opinion of the country. [Opposition cheers.] I do not think that even in the enlightened days of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rotherham the Department was ever very much in advance of public opinion. Notwithstanding all the eulogies heaped upon the Education Department in this Debate, I am inclined to think the Education Department have, if anything, rather lagged behind—[Opposition cheers]—and so far from the minimum staff being some tyrannical Measure 488 inflicted on schools by the Education Department, it is that which I remember the late Archbishop of Canterbury, in a speech he made shortly before his death, said it was a standard to which every school ought to come—I do not recollect his exact words—and that most of the Church Schools, he was thankful to say, had arrived at it. Well, you may raise the standard. Then you may raise the salaries. ["Hear, hear!"] There are many schoolmasters and mistresses who are now receiving salaries far below those they ought to receive. ["Hear, hear!"] They are exercising one of the most important functions to society; upon their efforts depend the welfare of the rising generation, and how can poorly-fed and poorly-clad men and women fulfil duties of that kind in a manner in which they ought to discharge them? ["Hear, hear!"] I believe many hon. Members little know the enormous strain which is put upon the teacher, sometimes the solitary, single-handed teacher, especially in small village schools. ["Hear, hear!"] Then there is improved apparatus. There are desks; there are better seats; there are the little museums of objects which go so far to enlighten and enliven children in schools; there is the apparatus now necessary for the manual instruction which is prescribed in all the lower standards and is very much used in the schools; and, finally, there is the apparatus for physical exercise. Now, all those are things which the associations will recommend and which the Education Department will prescribe, and that is how this money is to go. I am quite certain that the Government—I do not know that I have a right to speak for my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury, who is not here at present—[Opposition ironical laughter]—but I can speak as far as the Committee of Council is concerned—any Amendment which really goes to secure that this State aid grant shall be used really for the purpose of promoting and improving the education of the country will be welcomed by the Government. [Opposition cheers.] Lastly, I ask what guarantee have we that the money when given will be so applied? You have got the audit. ["Oh!"] Well, if the Education Department may prescribe an audit, I think I can undertake that they will prescribe an 489 audit, that they will take rare that, in cases where schools receive this State aid grant, the grant is really applied to purposes Parliament intended. I hope I have been short and practical—["hear, hear!"]—and I hope I have not been betrayed into taking any part in the party Debate, in which I would have joined with the very greatest reluctance. I do not shine in these party Debates on education any more than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rotherham shines. [Loud laughter and cheers.] Both he and I have had a great deal too much to do practically with this question to enjoy seeing it made the shuttlecock of Parties on the floor of this House—["Hear, hear!"]—and both he and I know that 30 years hence, when the consistency or inconsistency of the Gentlemen who ornament the two front Benches will be forgotten, those children whom our legislation will affect will be the men and women upon whom will depend the destinies of the Empire. [Cheers.]
§ MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said the Solicitor General had stated that no objection had been taken on this side of the) House to the fact that rates on Voluntary Schools would be paid under the Bill. For his part, he would like to take objection to that clause so long as Board Schools were not equally treated. He saw no reason why there should be any differentiation on that point any more than on others. The Solicitor General also said there was not a single necessitous Board School in London. There were, however, plenty of necessitous ratepayers in London, and if the Government put too heavy a tax on those ratepayers they would wake one morning to find that they had strained the patience of London too far. Personally he thought there was a principle that applied to Roman Catholic Schools that did not apply to schools connected with the Church of England, and he believed the London School Board had, by the provision of two or three Jewish Schools, recognised that the Jews had got a genuine grievance. But speaking generally of the country, the Church of England had got no legitimate reason to differ, so far as he knew, from the system of education that was given in their Board Schools. In the case of the Roman Catholics, however, it was not only the form of religion, so far as religion was 490 taught in the Board Schools, that he objected to. They objected to the history that was taught in the Board Schools, and therefore he thought there was a difference in principle between the treatment of the Roman Catholics and of the Church of England Schools. There was another point, and that was that not one of the Roman Catholic Schools had been abandoned to the School Board, while about 1,200 Church Schools had been given over to the School Board. That showed the Roman Catholics held their schools with a tenacity which did not distinguish the Church of England, and that again entitled them to different treatment. He thought that in the Debate that night and on Friday night the line of cleavage had been too stringently drawn by some speakers on this side of the House. A good deal of time had been occupied by stating what he might call the extreme Radical claim with regard to education. He had got some respect for facts, and among the facts for which he had got respect was the one that the Government were in power and had got a majority of something like 140 at their back. Therefore parties should move as far as possible in the direction of meeting each, other's views in discussion until the point of conflict resolved upon was reached, rather than talk of the extreme views on either side. The supporters of the Government said help was wanted for Voluntary Schools, and the Opposition did not deny that, and on certain terms would agree that help should be given to Voluntary Schools. But the Bill went further, and declared that help should be given to Voluntary Schools but none to Board Schools, and here was the point of conflict with the Government. He had heard every assurance that the First Lord of the Treasury had given; he had heard all about that little Bill yet to be brought forward; and he was not satisfied, nor was he reassured by the remembrance of the clause about Board Schools in the Bill of last year. Necessitous Board Schools were to receive £50,000, but now Voluntary Schools were to receive £620,000. He would assent to nothing except that Board Schools should be treated with absolute equality with Voluntary Schools; whatever grant per head was given to scholars in Voluntary Schools should equally be extended to 491 Board Schools. That was not an unreasonable position to take up. He desired to make this claim in the first place in the interest of subscribers to Voluntary Schools. The Solicitor General and the First Lord had said the Bill was not to give subscribers any relief, and the First Lord said he was not going to give any relief to ratepayers. But the ratepayer should have relief; he was hard pressed, and in this matter of education had made great sacrifices. In any arrangement made the ratepayer should not be left out. The First Lord suggested that landlords would be relieved, but he was not thinking of them. In London the landlords were not ratepayers. The rates were paid by the occupiers, and ground landlords escaped payment. He was thinking of the ratepayers, who had but small purses, from which they drew large contributions for education. He objected to the Bill because ratepayers were treated very unfairly under it. He did not object to assist Voluntary Schools on condition that Board Schools received a grant in assistance to the same proportion. He cast no reproach against Voluntary Schools; they had accomplished a noble work, and 40 or 50 years before Board Schools were in existence they alone held aloft the lamp of education in the country. In 1870, before any Board School was founded, there were 1,200,000 scholars in 8,280 Voluntary Schools in the country. It was a great work for any organisation to carry on, and he did not wish to depreciate it. It must also be remembered that Voluntary Schools received great help from the State. Constant grants were made to them. In 1870 the grant was something like 10s. per head of the children in the schools, and it continually increased until now, not including the fee grant, it was 18s. 5d. per child. There was great assistance given in the noble work Voluntary Schools had done for half a century. Voluntary Schools had great advantages in carrying on the work; the traditions of education were with them; they had as managers gentlemen trained at the Universities, who knew the value of education. No wonder they accomplished great work, and the value of it he did not wish to minimise. Then he turned to the work of the Board Schools to see how 492 it bore upon this Measure. Notwithstanding the great work Voluntary Schools did, there was in 1870 great work to be accomplished by Board Schools. He believed that even then there was something like 1,500,000 children throughout the country for whom no provision existed in any school, and so these Board Schools came into existence. They spent at first 33s. per head per child, but now in London they spent an average of £2 10s. per head. Who was it who undertook this great work for the Board Schools? They saw the most striking contrast between those who had taken up this work for the Board Schools and the managers of Voluntary Schools. In the case of Board Schools they were only simple citizens, men who had to struggle hard for their living from day to day. They got together children and accomplished in London and other great centres noble work in organising these great Boards. He thought gentlemen who were so eloquent in praise of the Voluntary Schools ought to be able in the cause of education to spare a little sympathy for the great work accomplished by the Board Schools. He wanted to ask the House this question, what was the attitude Parliament had adopted towards those two bodies up to the present moment? It had been an entirely impartial attitude, reward being given in accordance with the quality of the work done. What was the result? When the Boards came into existence in 1872 they found that in the first examinations the Voluntary Schools were easily ahead of the Board Schools, and continued so until 1880. When the test of examinations was applied to the schools in the two systems the Voluntary Schools easily led. This was not to be wondered at when they bore in mind the facts. The Voluntary Schools had all the traditions of learning in their favour when the Board Schools were organised by new bodies which did not know much about the matter, so that for the first eight years the grants given according to results went mostly to the Voluntary Schools. At the end of eight years—in 1880—they found a change, and then the Board Schools began to take the highest grants. After they once got the lead the Board Schools never fell behind, and a list of the returns showed that on an 493 average all over the country there was a shilling per child more earned by Board Schools according to the test of efficiency which Parliament had applied than was earned by the scholars in the Voluntary Schools. It proved that, according to the impartial test which Parliament applied, after twenty years existence of the Board Schools, they were able easily to lead the Voluntary Schools in this great race of education. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester said: "I fully admit that the secular education in the Board Schools is better than that in the Voluntary Schools." The noble Lord made several grave admissions to the House which, he thought, would hereafter be found a little disastrous to the Bill, and of all the grave admissions he thought that was the most serious. Why should not the gentlemen who had been trained in the Universities, and who were managers of private schools, still have sustained the position they occupied as the leaders of education? Why should poor citizens be able to out-distance them. The right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs, replying to the noble Lord the Member for Rochester, said the noble Lord was absolutely sincere in everything he said in that House. He readily admitted that. He would observe that the noble Lord was also very astute, and he often made an admission of this kind to prevent it being made with a more damaging effect from the Opposition side of the House. When the word "secular" was used by the noble Lord there was a smell of brimstone about it. He wanted to see whether there was anything which made it creditable to the Voluntary Schools to be behind the Board Schools in the matter of secular education. What was the object of education by both classes of schools? It was to fit children to be good citizens. Take the test, first, of the girls' schools. A special allowance was made by the Education Department for laundry work, yet only 713 were taught it in the Voluntary Schools and 11,000 in the Board Schools. Take cookery; 33,000 were taught it in the Voluntary Schools, but 93,000 in the Board Schools. He submitted that there was a truer instinct for educating the children, and educational work was better accomplished in the Board Schools than in the Voluntary Schools. As regarded the boys, French and German 494 were taught to only 3,000 boys in the Voluntary Schools, but to 10,000 in the Board Schools, and the students of algebra were 13,000 compared with 24,000. These were proofs of fact that there was a keener appreciation of a good education in the Board Schools, and though the traditions were all on the side of Voluntary Schools, yet the Board Schools gave a better and higher education. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester praised the religious education of Voluntary Schools. There was no test, and if there were, he believed that Board Schools, as in secular subjects, would do well, and if a definition of religion was to prepare the child to live a better life, all the subjects taught in the Board Schools eminently fitted a child for discharging his duties in later life socially and to the State. Hon. Members opposite seemed to think rates were more easily paid than subscriptions. The fact that the rate was compulsory made it a far heavier burden on the citizen. 125 Voluntary Schools had been warned for inefficiency, but only 27 Board Schools. London paid £3 8s. in School Board rate, and yet no part of England was so unfairly treated. She would pay £140,000 of the £620,000 to be allocated under the Bill, and yet she received only £40,000 in return. These rates were felt to be very heavy in London. Within the last six months, in the parish he represented a gentleman offered £10,000 to the parish to build free libraries in it if the ratepayers would adopt the Free Libraries Act; but, although this would have involved a rate of not more than a penny, and probably of not more than a half-penny in the pound, the ratepayers refused, by a great majority, to put themselves under this rate. They must agree that the work of the Board Schools was better done than that of the Voluntary Schools. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer could find £600,000 for Voluntary Schools, he could easily find £400,000 for the Board Schools. But he believed that they refused to allot this money in accordance with the excellence of the education that was given because they wished to give it rather to religious denominations. That was a bad system.
Debate further adjourned till Tomorrow.