§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
(2.35.) MR. JAMES LOWTHER () Kent, Thanet
In moving the recommittal of this Bill in respect of its financial Clauses I do not think I need offer any apology to the House for intervening in this dabate. The financial policy of this Bill has never been adequately discussed. I need only point out that the amount of money already levied on various forms in the United Kingdom for the purpose of upholding our present system of education is simply colossal, and yet this Bill will considerably increase demands made upon the various contributors to the national funds, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to be bound to provide money for the education authority. The expenditure under the various headings of the Bill is of necessity automatic and progressive in its character, and it is not merely the present Chancellor of the Exchequer but his successors who will have to obey the behests of a third party. Though the expenditure on the Army and the Navy is rigidly scrutinised by the Treasury it is remarkable that there has been practically no discussion whatever with regard to the huge sum allocated for education. I venture to say, without going into the merits or demerits of our education policy, that grave doubts 927 are widely entertained as to whether a great deal of this money is to be wisely and prudently expended. There are those who agree with me in thinking that with reference to the position of life and the future prospects of scholars the subjects which are selected are ill-assorted and are calculated to discourage them in after-life, instead of redounding to their personal or pecuniary advantage. I have often been asked "How can you expect these youths and girls to perform the ordinary calls of honest toil if they are to be allowed to think that they are above their position through receiving education in a half-smattering manner on subjects they will never have an opportunity of following to their logical conclusion?" I am one of those who think that the definitions applied the other day by the Prime Minister to the objects which should be included in primary education is the utmost limit to which Parliament has any right to proceed. That, of course, is a moot point. I do not wish to be dogmatic, or to raise a question which is outside the immediate scope of my Amendment. But I must remind the House that in this policy it is forestalling future Budgets and committing the country to a great increase in its expenditure, the utility of which many persons venture gravely to doubt.
What is the amount of money which the taxpayers alone, apart from the ratepayers, are now called upon to provide? I find that in the three kingdoms the amount provided in the current year for education is upwards of twelve and a half millions, and in many cases it is handed over to the tender mercies of enthusiasts who spend it right, left, and centre, without any regard to the interests of the taxpayers or the children. But that is not all. There is the Local Taxation (Customs and Excess) contribution, miscalled the "whisky money," half of which was specifically allocated by Parliament to the relief of the rates, but the whole of it is now left at the disposal of the County Councils. This sum amounts nearly to a million, bringing the total expenditure for which the Treasury is responsible to more than thirteen and a half millions. In addition, £1,400,000 is being provided by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to arrest the outcry of the ratepayers under this Bill. That surely is a huge addition to our national obligations which deserves consideration. That brings up the total 928 to £15,000,000 sterling. But even that is not all. The burden on the ratepayers is extremely heavy at present, and I venture to think it will become still more so in the near future. It has been admitted that there is a further sum of £5,500,000 expended in the shape of rates at the present time and that brings the total expenditure to more than £20,000,000. I maintain that Parliament has failed to discharge its prime obligation of scrutinising and controlling such a huge item of national expenditure. I have heard paltry suggestions from time to time for dismissing a few hundreds or thousands of His Majesty's troops, and I have heard cheeseparing and somewhat mean, if not contemptible, proposals for disposing of the naval stores and cutting down the naval resources of the country, but I have not heard a word of protest against the acceptance of this huge national burden which Parliament is precluding itself by this bill from in any way effectually controlling. It is almost unheard of that a great public expenditure like this should be treated in the haphazard way in which Parliament of late years has treated educational finance. The right hon. Gentleman the Mamber for West Monmouth is a staunch economist, and although he is prepared to spend national funds when occasion demands it, he neverthelese closely scrutinses all items of expenditure submitted to the House of Commons. But even he has not raised his powerful voice against this educational expenditure uncontrolled by Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman actually made a suggestion that if there were a few children in a remote part of the country special arrangements should be made to bring the mountain to Mahomet. I hope that those who have championed the cause of economy, not always too wisely, will have a few words to say on this absolutely uncontrolled expenditure which is being riveted on the neck of the nation for all time. I do not hesitate to say that a vast part of this money has been very unwisely expended. Nothing is more fatal to economy than to give one set of persons other persons' money to spend. I have always protested that, and many years ago I raised my voice here against the doctrine of subventions, which meant giving the taxpayers' money to the 929 representatives of the ratepayers, who are tempted to say: "It is not our money, so we had better spend as much as we can locally." That has been the argument of many county financiers. The only true solution for these educational difficulties is that, inasmuch as the money is found from the pockets of the taxpayers, the representatives of the taxpayers ought to supersede the local authorities in the expenditure of the money. I recognise that this would involve the recasting of the whole Bill, which I would not venture to propose at this late stage. But the House has still in its hands the control of the financiers, which is its special prerogative, and one which we have no right to abrogate at the dictation of Ministers, however powerful, or public opinion so-called, however highly wrought or ill-informed. I hope we shall have from some authoritative exponent of the Government a statement clear and precise as to the estimated cost to the national taxpayer and the ratepayer of the educational system. I think we have a right to ask that, and I hold that it will not be to our credit if we do not address ourselves in earnest to the great and legitimate duty of the House of Commons, viz., the control of the national finance.
To leave out all the words after the word 'be,' and add the words ' re-committed in respect of Clauses 19 and 20 (Expenses and Borrowing).' "—(Mr. James Lowther.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
My right hon. friend in his speech tried to induce the House to accept two propositions, which I am perfectly convinced will find favour neither on that side nor upon this. The first of these was that out of public funds no education should be supported which went beyond the three R's, and the second was that, inasmuch 930 as the contribution from the Imperial Exchequer to education was so large, the control of that expenditure should rest entirely with the central authority, and that the local authority, neiither in the shape of City or County Councils, nor in the shape of School Boards, should have anything to say in the matter.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
Of course the local authority would spend its own rates. I was dealing with the money provided from Imperial funds.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I will come to that in a moment. As regards the first point, I am not concerned to deny, nor is any serious advocate of education concerned to deny, that there may be, and there have been, cases in which people are, what is called, over-educated—that is to say, they have not received the kind of education which is of any use to them either in their private or public capacity, either as individuals or citizens. I would even go further, and say that I could conceive of a system of education so ill-managed that the multiplication of classes incapable of earning their living in what is called the learned occupations, and unfitted to earn their living in the unlearned occupations, might be a serious public inconvenience. That is perfectly true, and it is mere pedantry to deny it; but I do not believe that will be the result of this Bill, or that any such state of things is likely to follow from any educational efforts this House is likely to indulge in, and is far less likely to happen under a sound system of educational evolution, such as the Bill proposes, than under any centralised system. My hope and belief is that education will be managed on commonsense principles by the great local authorities, and by commonsense principles, I mean principles suited to the real genuine needs of their locality. What are my right hon. friend's financial proposals? He admits that education ought to be largely supported by the State; but what is the only possible conclusion from his arguments? Either that the State should contribute nothing or manage everything. Both dilemmas are equally impracticable and impossible. It would be quite impossible to ask the localities to bear the whole 931 cost of education, primary, secondary, and technical; and I am sure it would be disastrous to take the other alternative and say that the State, inasmuch as it contributes so much, must manage everything. There is a third possibility—namely, that the State should manage the expenditure of all the money it contributes, and the locality all the money it contributes. That would be even more impossible than either of the other two, because it would mean that you are to have two sets of schools, one entirely managed by the State and the other by the locality. If my right hon. friend will consider all the possible alternatives, he will see that the alternative proposed in this Bill is the only one which will find general and practical acceptance. I would remind my right hon. friend that the expenditure by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not the limitless sum which he seems to suppose. It does not rest with the local authority to determine how much is to be spent by the State. That is laid down with precision by the Bill. It is capable, no doubt, of automatic increase as the number of children increase, but no mere reckless expenditure on the part of the local authority will extract another shilling from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. No doubt his successors may be called upon to pay an increased grant, but that will depend solely on the number of children. I hope I have adequately answered the arguments of my right hon. friend, and that he will not think it necessary to press his Motion, but allow us at one to pass to the discussion of the more general issues raised by the Motion for the Third Reading of the Bill.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT () Monmouthshire, W.
My right hon. friend reproached me for certain proposals I made in reference to this Bill, and as to that I shall be perfectly prepared to justify my action at the proper time. Acting on the suggestion of the Leader of the House I will attempt to confine my remarks now to the question of the cost thrown upon this country by its educational policy. But I think this House has not done its duty in examining as it ought to be examined the expenditure involved in this 932 Bill. We are the tribunal, and I venture to say the only tribunal, which has a right to interfere with the expenditure under the Bill; and, therefore, it was our duty to have informed Parliament in both its branches as to what was our view as to the extent of the expenditure involved. That we have not done. The Closure has prevented that examination which ought to have been given as to the effect of this Bill on expenditure, whether Imperial or local. We have got this complicated arrangement in respect to Imperial taxation, which, I confess, I am totally unable to understand myself.
Order, order! I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the debate at present is confined to Sections 19 and 20, which raise the question not of the amount of expenditure but of its apportionment and the method of raising it by loan or otherwise. The observations of the right hon. Gentleman would of course be quite in order on the main Question, but are not in order on the Question before the House.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said he would not discuss the matter further; but would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that before the Bill left the House or immediately afterwards information should be given by the Government as to what was likely to be the amount of expenditure under it, both Imperial and local.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
There ought to be some material for obtaining information on the subject. For instance, it would be perfectly possible to give the amount of money received from endowments and fees; but as you, Mr. Speaker, have laid down that that is a question rather in connection with the general aspect of the Bill, I will reserve it.
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)
said that there was a question with reference to the apportionment of expenditure which it would be for the enlightenment of the House and the country if the President of the Board 933 of Trade explained. In Clause 19 there were certain provisions for the treatment of School Board areas and non-School Board areas. These provisions had not been fully discussed, but it seemed to him that, taking the School Board districts generally, the rates would probably be reduced; whereas they would certainly be raised in the voluntary school district. A certain proportion, varying from a quarter to one half, would be spread over the county at large; but he should like to ask the Government how they justified that arrangement. If a parish found its own buildings, it would be unfair to charge it for the buildings in another parish. There was another question on which he did not appear clear, and that was with regard to current liabilities. He believed that there was something in the long and complicated schedules of the Bill which made the question clear to the initiated; but he thought it would be to the advantage of the uninitiated if the President of the Local Government Board could give an assurance that where a School Board had incurred liabilities other than in respect of buildings, such liabilities should be charged on the former School Board area, and not spread over the county at large. He hoped his right hon. friend would be able to give that assurance, and thereby allay the rather natural apprehension felt in some of the voluntary school districts. He would also wish to know whether, in future, the county authorities would get the amount payable under the Agricultural Rating Act to the School Boards in respect of School Board districts which in future would be under the county authority.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. WALTER LONG,) Bristol, S.
said his right hon. friend had correctly anticipated the effect of the Bill on the rates, as between board school and voluntary school districts. But he had overlooked the fact that the special relief which was given to the poor School Board districts at the time the grant-in-aid was voted for the voluntary schools would end under the Bill, because these poorer School Board districts would no longer be separately rated areas for the purposes 934 of education. It was felt by the Government that something should be done to meet the case of these poorer districts in the future, and with that object in view they inserted the provision in the Bill that one-fourth of the local indebtendness of these poorer districts should be taken over by the local education authority and placed upon the county at large. The grants under the Agricultural Rating Act would in future be paid to the local education authority and not to the particular School Board districts, but those districts would benefit by the distribution of the whole cost of education over the county at large.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
said he had not received notice of the question, and, therefore, he could only reply in a guarded form. All the capital expenditure would be pooled, and all other expenditure, for which the local education authority would be responsible, would fall on the general rate, and not on the local rate.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
said that as the question he desired to raise could be discussed on the Third Reading, he wished to withdraw his Amendment
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ question again proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
(3.10.) SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNER-MAN (Stirling Burghs)
The House will recognise, with a considerable feeling of relief, that the long-protracted examination and discussion of this most important, and—as I am sure it will be regarded in the future—this most memorable measure is approaching the end, The general subject is, as we all know, of the most intense interest to the country. And well it might be, because upon the trained 935 intelligence and equipment of our people the national future depends. It must be admitted that the subject in its details, the system in its machinery, are of the most complicated and technical character, and I think I shall find myself in the same lobby, mentally, with almost every Member of the House when I say that the discussion of those details was necessarily monotonous, dull, and uninspiring. What conclusion do I draw from this? It is that we should pay all honour to those among us who have devoted so much time and labour to the study and examination of this Bill, whether it be in defence of its provisions or in frustrating, exposing, and correcting its faults; and I am sure I speak for the House when I say that, while we have a sense of relief in anticipation of the end of these discussions, we are grateful to those of our colleagues who have devoted themselves in so earnest and systematic and praiseworthy a way to the examination and improvement of the Bill, and we are grateful to them for the spirit they have shown in devoting themselves to this work. No one, I think, can say that more time has been given to this measure than it required or deserved. As I have said, it is exceedingly complex and technical, and it had to pass through the ordeal of examination by men—and they abound among us—who are intimately acquainted with the details of the machinery of education, either from their own personal share in its administration or from their study of or the interest they have taken in the subject. But, besides that, this subject is intimately concerned with the daily domestic life of the people, and appeals in the strongest possible way to every father and mother who care for the welfare and the careers of their children. Again, every provision in a measure such as this is minutely examined, because it touches sincere and strong religious feelings and susceptibilities on either side of the House. I have observed with some astonishment that some hon. Members, mostly outside the walls of this House, have spoken lightly of these susceptibilities, and, if I may say so, prejudices, pronouncing them unreal and almost squalid, and thanking Heaven, apparently, that they themselves have no share in them. I cannot 936 rise to that superior point of view, because, in my opinion, there are few aspects of the question which more thoroughly deserve the most careful treatment by Parliament. But for myself I would say frankly that from the first I have entertained strong objections to the whole scheme of the Bill; and I would say for myself, and those who think with me, that, while we have been honestly trying to amend the Bill, we have naturally and of course tried to amend it in the direction of our particular views.
Will the House allow me to state broadly the reasons of my objections to the Bill? My first broad ground of objection is this—that the Bill appears to endeavour to reconcile two things which are in compatible with each other, namely the national system of education and the denominational system. The one is the antithesis of the other. The only permanent system must be the national system. Of course denominational schools may be and would, almost under any system, continue to be recognised under certain conditions, and within certain limits. But as you develop your system the national must increase and the denominational decrease. Education is the affair of the State and not of the Church; the affair of laymen and not of the clergy. I know there are some of my friends who hold this view who say, "What does it matter, seeing that it is inevitable that you must glide sooner or later into a more purely national system—why raise such a particular dust about a particular form of control under this Bill? Make your schools efficient and you will call off the clerical element. "I prefer to adopt a national system as the ideal, instead of ineffectually struggling against it, as you are doing in this Bill. My second ground of objection is based on this, that where there is public duty to be performed, and public money to be spent, the more direct and complete your public control the better. Now, I have found some words here—I am not quoting them as a tu quoque, but they are so characteristic and so true that I think it is worth while to quote them. They are the words of the present Duke of Devonshire spoken in the House of 937 Commons, probably from the place in which I now stand, in 1876—There are many of us," he says, "and I do not scruple to say I am one of them, who believe that the principle of the School Boards is the right and true principle in this matter.We believe that that, being the true and right principle, it will in the end prevail. We believe that when once the time has arrived, when Parliament has declared that education is the business of the State itself, it becomes inevitable that sooner or later State education must be in the hands not of individuals but of representatives of the people. That appears to me to be a very fair statement of the view I take.
What do we find under this Bill? That such public control as there is, is partial, remote, indirect, anddiluted. The County Council, itself a body elected for quite other purposes and upon other issues, is to appoint the local committee. That, local committee need have no elected member upon it. If that is the solution, you have at once a divorce between your controlling body and the public interest. But if there are County Councillors on this local committee, they ae accompanied by members nominated by outside private and sectarian bodies. To a large extent, therefore, the responsibility to the public, originally weak, has already become diluted. Then the local committee appoints a sub-committee, and I would remind the House that this provision for the appointment of the sub-committee was passed sub silentio on one of those fatal nights when the closure fell upon the Schedules. How are these sub-committees to be constituted? They are to consist either all or partly of members of the committee. Here again outsiders are introduced on to the sub-committees, and that which has been already diluted is diluted again. But let us look at it a little more closely. Popular control was much insisted upon by the right hon. Gentleman when he introduced the Bill. He said there would be complete popular control over the whole educational system. When a statement like that is made, what does the plain man understand by it? He thinks the work of School Boards is only to be transferred to some other more convenient body; that is practically what it comes to. Again, it has been urged by 938 many persons—I think the Colonial Secretary made a point of it during that celebrated colloquy at Birmingham—that there would be publicity. The right hon. Gentleman congratulated them the publicity the new system would introduce into the management of Church schools. The local authority might be in a minortiy in the management, but they would be able to make themselves heard. Publicity, undoubtedly, is an all-important element of popular government; but where is the publicty in the Bill? Does the education committee, which is merely a critical body, make for publicity? The probability is that it will not. This is the body most corresponding to the school Board, and what small part of its proceedings will ever come before or be debated by the County Council, which is the only popular body to which the public can elect? How then will the minority on the committee of managers in denominational schools make themselves heard? When the point of contact is reached between the controlling authority and the school, how much of the representative element remains? Instead of ad hoc election we have ad hoc nomination and selection. What would a School Board be if it were without the knowledge that suspension of its functions would follow neglect of duty? These considerations constitute the second reason why I object to this scheme in toto.
My next objection has rather to do with education itself. It seems to me that this system fails to produce and supply the very thing that is wanted. The thing that is wanted is the ladder of learning for the boy of average brains and energy. The right hon. Gentleman, replying with some sympathy to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet just now, admitted that there were many cases in which the boy, or young man, or young woman, might be over-educated, and might be unfitted to take part in any of the learned professions, and yet be too learned for any other occupation. I believe that to be a great fallacy. If the training in our schools is of the right kind, the more learning a man has, whether he sweeps a crossing or controls a diocese, the better he will do his work. It is not only the most backward 939 and retrograde, but also the most mischievous and dangerous doctrine, which says that learning in itself does any harm to the man who possesses it. "A little learning is a dangerous thing." But that is when a little learning is mistaken for a great deal of learning; and the man who possesses it does not know his position. I could speak of a country—
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I am arguing at large. It seems to fit what the right hon. Gentleman said, if it does not express his real view. Of course, it is a view commonly and widely held on certain questions, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet will not deny that there is a country where you may see the shepherds and under-game-keepers walking about with a Horace in thier pocket. I myself have known a railway porter in that country who was the most accomplished astronomer in that part of the world, but who nevertheless was one of the best of railway porters. A ladder ought to be provided for every boy who is able to take advantage of it to enable him to reach the step he is capable of reaching. It seems to me that in this Bill you have been so much occupied with your schools and thier fees and their funds, and your appointed trust managers of them and your nominated committee men, and with keeping a check on popular interference, that you have forgotten, to some extent unconsciously forgotten, education—the very thing for which the Bill exists. What was without doubt the best, the most efficient, the most successful part of the previously existing educational machinery? The continuation schools and the higher grade schools, and the higher schools conducted by the great School Boards. They were far more efficient than your Universities, which, with all their enormous funds and traditional advantages, educate only a fraction of the community, or than your public schools, of which we are so proud, where also learning is the last thing that is considered to be of much importance. It was these humble but earnest men in the board schools who were doing the very best work for you, and it is because they did it that you have destroyed them. You 940 make it your excuse that you are overlapping, which you have been trained by your inspirers to thihk of as something terrible. Is our educational covering so full and ample that we can be so fastidious as to whether it is overlapping or not? What a crime for a public education authority to commit! Trop de zele. It is actually destroyed because it has done too much. It was against the law, so we are told. Then the law ought to have been amended. That was the easy and plain way of getting over the difficulty.
Then, there is in this Bill and in the whole theory of your scheme a line drawn between primary and secondary education, and that is called unification and co-ordination. I think I have listened to a homily from the last Vice President of the Council in which he has declaimed against the vice of drawing a hard and fast line; and here is a fixed line. You have different authorities and different rating. You have the town schools and the village schools. Which are, with their Church atmosphere, to be confined religiously and solemnly to primary education. Consider the result of that arrangement. A boy arrives at the critical period of his early life. He has finished his primary education. He has got all the advantage he can get out of your teaching in elementary subjects. What are we to do with such a boy? We ought to induce him, to tempt him, to use the opportunity of prosecuting the march up the ladder, and to do it in the most convenient and effectual way. Why should he not do it? What should prevent him doing it in the same school? At this critical age—critical because he has the opening of possible careers before him, or because his parents may see their way to his earning a little money for their assistance—you stop him and say, "Now you must go no longer to this school, but to a secondary school at the other end of the town, or to a secondary school five or ten miles away, in the county town." The boy therefore has to make a fresh start, to begin a new life, with fresh associates, away from all the old influences. In how many cases will he not subside into a contented ignorance from which it is our highest duty to save him? He is not to be allowed any longer to go to the 941 primary school; what is then to take its place? He is to go to a secondary school. What are the circumstances of these schools? They are to be supported by limited funds—strictly limited funds—and those funds are to have permissive operation. Then your limited funds are to be largely mortgaged by the necessity of undertaking this very intermediate duty between primary and secondary education which the School Boards have so well discharged hitherto. Of the rate, of which we hear so much, how much will be absorbed by the various duties to be transferred? What was demanded, and rightly demanded, by the country, was a good continuous system of intermediate and higher education founded on a vigorous and complete primary system. What you have here is a permissive, limited, undefined secondary provison. You may spend twopence, if you can get it with the goodwill of your ratepayers. This is the outcome of fifty years of agitation for secondary education.
And in the primary schools, this Bill at least gives no guarantee whatever of efficiency. The primary schools—what are we to say of them? One thing is certain of them—they are to remain primary. No tentacles are to be put forward towards the higher learning. There is no educational fulcrum for the levelling up of education. Direct election, with its influence of enlightened public opinion, is gone. The power of declaring a School Board in default gives place to a mandamus. What is a mandamus? It is a terrible word. I am not lawyer enough to know what it precisely means, but I have no doubt it means that somebody is to be called upon to do something, and the result is that if he does not do what the Court calls upon him to do he goes to prison like other wicked people. Fancy a chairman of a County Council—there are two or three of them opposite—marched off to prison because some sub-committee has not done its duty! I suppose that is the meaning of this proceeding by mandamus.
Above all, and this is a most important point, the pressure of the rates will probably be such as may suggest to the new authority the most obviously economical expedient of levelling down the provided schools to the admittedly low level of the Church schools. ("Oh, oh!") I did not say that evey Church 942 school was bad, but it is notorious—that was the reason of the Bill—that they could not keep up to the mark, they could not keep pace with the board schools in the encouragement of education. If they are improved, that is what I call "levelling up," but a much more likely result will be levelling down. The threepenny rate will be dangled before the ratepayers' eyes. Lord Salisbury's suggestion of 1895 will probably be adopted. and "threepence" will be written in letters two feet long over every school. That is the greatest and the tremendous dead weight in this Bill against progress and efficiency in primary education, and, if anything was wanted to make its influence more complete, you have it in the actual instruction to committees to have regard to the economy of the rates—as if they were not likely to do that without being specially instructed.
Now, when the right hon. Gentleman introduced the Bill he made many representations and promises, the most prominent of which was the creation of one uniform authority. Especially there was much shaking of the head over the two rating authorities in the same area. I have taken the trouble to analyse geographically the different counties of England and Wales, and I come to a somewhat strange conclusion—that this ideal of the right hon. Gentleman is very limited in its operation. If I were to give a new title to the Bill and describe in one sentence the only effect of it which will be absolutely certain, I would call it a Bill for creating one education authority in the counties of Rutland and Huntingdon and in the Scilly Isles. There may be the same result attained in some of the smaller counties in Wales, but the result as far as England is concerned is literally what I have said. The population of England Wales is 321/2millions. Deducting London's 41/2 millions you have 28 millions. Of these, 9 millions are in the county boroughs, 6 millions in the municipal boroughs and urban districts over the limit prescribed in the Bill, 71/2 millions in the rural districts, and 51/2 millions in the smaller boroughs and smaller rural districts, making in the country parts 13 millions. Now let us consider the effect on these successively. First of all, county boroughs. There is one authority in the county boroughs, and one rating power 943 is established. Therefore the county boroughs are the most happy from the Government point of view; but their happiness is qualified by the fact that there is no duty put upon them to supply higher education; they are only permitted to do so. There are two rates instead of one after all, the one for elementary and the other for secondary education. And then they are hampered, as I think, by what is called the Cockerton law. Then when we come to the smaller boroughs—six millions—the education is under two authorities; the primary is under the municipality, which has rating power, the secondary is under the County Council, which has rating power, and the urban authority may raise indipendently a penny rate for secondary education. So you have three systems and two rates. Therefore here the pretext for the abolition of the School Boards fails. Here you have multiplied control and possible overlapping, and no consecutive ladder such as we all profess to desire is provided, because the lower steps are under the control of one authority and the higher steps are controlled by another authority. Then you have the rural districts, the residue of the counties, the patchwork areas after others have been taken out, 13,000,000. Why, I believe that in the West Riding the time to go over these disconnected areas by inspectors will be measured by years. Nominally there is one supreme authority, but without the means for competent higher authority, for, as I have said the rate will be mopped up by the transfer of duties from the School Boards and the training colleges—which is a new burden to be put upon them. This sum of two pence may enable the authority to make grants in aid of existing schools, but who in the world believes it sufficient for equipping new schools? Again, there is no duty imposed to do anything at all.
Here then is your one authority! It consists of (1), the Board of Education; (2) the various Councils, with thier differemt powers; (3) the committee or committees of these Councils, including outsiders—whom I almost ought to include in a separate category; (4) the sub-Committee with thier outsiders; (5) the provided schools managers; and (6) the denominational schools managers, some of whom are to superintend, more or less, religious instruction—although as 944 to that we are left in great doubt—and some of whom are to be appointed members.
But we have not yet explored exhaustively this starry firmament. We discover by its disturbing influence rather than by actual vision, another mighty element. So did the acute, learned, and watchful astronomer recognise the existence of the planet Neptune by its influence on other heavenly bodies before it came within range of his telescope; he calculated its size, although he had never seen it, and the only thing he did not discover, to the surprise of the American humorist, was the name of the planet; that followed the actual vision. We, however, know our planet, his size, his name, and everything about him; he is the Bishop. I should be disposed, if I might without disrespect, and I believe I should express the sentiment of many others in doing so, to meet the discovery with the expression, Que diable allait-il fair dans cette galere?" He is established under the mantle of the hon. and gallant Member for the Newport Division of Shropshire; he shoves his nominees on the committees and sub-committees, he directs and guides the teaching in denominational schools, he keeps up the calorifere, he pumps in the proper atmosphere, he sees that the inner door has its hinges well oiled. An ingenious friend of mine has furnished me with a little diagram showing the effect of all these different authorities. It looks like a family tree, or perhaps it more resembles in some respects those wax models of the human frame, with the skin removed, the veins shown in one colour, the arteries in another, the nerves in a third, and so on. Here are the ecclesiastical ramifications coloured red, and the civil control in black, and they run through each other from the beginning to the end of the whole business; and this ecclesiastical tree sends out its branches into the entire system.
Here is your unification and co-ordination; here is your public control and all the other advantages you have promised; here is your provision for infusing fresh vitality into this old nation to enable it to set up successful rivalry with its competitors. Why, Sir, I 945 could go on at length pointing out in consistencies and injustices, but I have said enough for my purpose. The crowning defect of this Bill is that is fails to create—nay, it does its best to smother and alienate—that popular interest in education, that appreciation of it, and that desire for it, without which the best system the ingenuity of man could devise would fail. On that ground, if on no other, I hold it to be unworthy of the support of the House, and therefore beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day three months,'"—(Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. WALTER LONG
Anybody who today had strayed into the House for the first time to listen to our debates, would have found it hard to believe that we were commencing the last stage of the discussions on a Bill which we have been assured is one of the worst measures ever brought into the House of Commons, and one which has shaken the heart of the nation to is foundation. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition must, I think have forced many of us, on this side at all events, to the conclusion that he had failed to do two things which he should have done before proposing the rejection of the Bill—first, seriously to address himself to the consideration of the practical problem with which the Government were faced and had to deal when they approached this question, and secondly, carefully to study the Bill itself. Throughout the greater part of his speech the right hon. Gentleman failed altogether to realise the practical difficulties with which the Government were confronted when they came to the consideration of the education problem. The right hon. Gentleman said a great deal in criticism of our proposals, but it would be difficult to discover from his criticism what policy he would recommend the country to adopt if he were sitting on this instead of on that side of the House.
So far as I was able to follow his criticism, his suggestion is that instead of 946 the proposals of the Government a universal system of School Boards ought to be established. I do not know whether I am right or wrong. If I am right, I say that the right hon. Gentleman has failed to appreciate one of the elementary facts of this education problem with which every student has been face to face for many years. The right hon. Gentleman talks of the position of the School Boards solely from the point of view of the School Boards in the towns, and he ignores the difficulties in all the rest of the schools of the country. He talks only of the School Boards in the large towns, where, it is true, they have done some excellant work for elementary education, and where they have made excellent efforts in connection with secondary eudcation. When he says that these School Boards have done this good work, and we are displacing them because they have done it, he talks as if School Boards generally had done this and made this provision; but he fails altogether to recognise that outside the large School Board areas it has in the past been impossible to make any efforts at all in the direction of secondary education.
The right hon. Gentleman found some fault with out Bill for reasons which I will refer to very briefly. His first cirticism was that we were trying to do the impossible, and that we were trying to reconcile a national system with a denominational system. He also said that the denominational system must come to an end and the national system must prevail. In regard to the great Act of 1870 which passed through Parliament, precisely the reverse has followed to that which has been prophesied by the right hon. Gentleman. What is the position of the Voluntary schools today? Have we been driven into a national system by the Act of 1870? The right hon. Gentleman, like other critics of the Government, seems to me to have fallen into the error, both in this House and in the country, of determining to ignore altogether all that has been done by the denominational system, and while he is full of praise for the School Boards, he had not one word to say for the great work of education 947 done by the various hurches, a great deal of which was done at a time when no national system of education was provided.
I will say a word presently about the right hon. Gentleman's comments upon public control. As to his general criticism on the Bill, I maintain that whether his criticism is upon the way in which we deal with School Boards, or upon the attempts at unification, it is a humorous description of the new education authority brought into existence under this Bill, and his criticisms are made because he fails to realise what are the essential difficulties with which we have to deal in this country. The right hon. Gentleman found fault because we have the County Council as the education authority and also the Council of the smaller boroughs. If the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had been sitting on the Treasury Bench and responsible for the Government, does believe, either in regard to education or any other from of local government, he would be able to propose to this House a measure which ignored the position of the existing boroughs and the larger urban districts in regard to their powers of administration and rating? If he does believe that, then it is not fair to say that we are doing nothing. He says that all we do is to abolish the School Boards; but is that nothing? You must select one authority, and we have gone as far as we can in the direction of unification—as far as it is practical. When the right hon. Gentleman says we have abolished School Boards, no doubt he is right, but does he propose to transfer the powers of the Municipal Councils to the School Boards, or leave the two bodies to work in the same area?
We must come, after all these vague criticisms, to the consideration of the practical question. Have we approached this problem with a due regard to the practical difficulties which exist, or have we done—as I submit we have—the best that was possible under the circumstances? I do not deny that the right hon. Gentleman might be able to propose a general remedy if you had no municipal districts and no powers and statutes already in existence, but that is not the case here. This is the main difficulty we have always to contend with when we deal with 948 local government. You are compelled to have regard to the existing authorities and their powers, and it is impossible to override their powers wholesale or to ignore the position which these local authorities have occupied. We have done this, and I venture to repeat that the right hon. Gentleman is not justified in criticising us unless he is prepared to tell us that, if he had been in our place, he would have been more courageous.
What, after all, are the main criticisms? The right hon. Gentleman has repeated them. I do not wonder that he has not repeated all the criticisms that have been made, because of the length of time and the number of speeches which they have occupied. The length to which many of these speeches ran naturally led to this result, that there is very little left to be said on either side in regard to this question; and the right hon. Gentleman has practically repeated criticisms which we have already met many times, and they come to this: That the proposal of the Government is unjust, because it does too much for the denominational system, because it is a departure from the recognised principles of local government, and that it is so unjust and so bad that it will not be workable, and the local authorities will decline to carry it out. Is there any foundation for these very serious charges? The right hon. Gentleman, as I have already said, does not seem to me to have attempted to grapple with the real difficulties of this question. He says we were forced to deal with it because of the Cockerton judgment. I submit that that is only a very partial statement of the case.
The right hon. Gentleman himself, in the speeches he made in the country at the time of the General Election, declared that education and the completion of the education system was one of the first questions to which any Government ought to address itself. In all parts of the country speeches were made declaring that national education should be dealt with by the Government, and therefore to suggest that we dealt with it in order to get rid of the School Boards is to make a statement which cannot possibly be maintained. We were face to face with the educational difficulty as it existed. You had a large number 949 of local authorities. You had 2,500 School Boards with 5,800 board schools under their control, and 14,000 voluntary schools which gave you over 15,000 independent education authorities with no co-ordination and no connection whatever between them, and no means whatever by which the Country Council, charged as it is with secondary education, could connect secondary education with elementary education. There was no inducement given to the minor local authorities to unite their system with the system of the superior authority.
That was the practical problem which we had to face. We faced it, as the House knows, by, so far as we could, limiting the number of authorities responsible for education. We have given the County Council wide powers. We have given the boroughs with a population of 10,000, and urban districts with 20,000 inhabitants, control over their own elementary education. In place of these 15,000 local authorities charged with the duties of education and with the task of providing funds for education, this Bill will provide a very greatly reduced number of athorities, and will enable the main local authority to control the education of the country in a way that was impossible before.
The right hon. Gentleman says that we have done all this to preserve the denominational system. Whether you have regard to the historical aspect of the question or the work that this denominational system has done, or from the practical point of view of pounds, shillings, and pence, no other course was possible than the one the Government has adopted. I will not take up the time of the House by going into the historical question. Everybody knows what has been done to provide educational facilities. Let the House look at the question from a pounds, shillings, and pence point of view. The House is familiar with the various estimates which have been made, but a very moderate estimate puts the providing of additional school places, if all the voluntary schools were got rid of at twenty-five millions sterling. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh, oh!" and an HON. MEMBER: "About £15,000,000!"] In order to save time, I will take it at 950 £15,000,000 for the purposes of argument. That is a very serious sum. We are told that we ought to have bought out all have these voluntary schools. If it had been just and right to do this in the interests of education, would it have been a sensible policy to suggest? These schools are already in existence, and many of them, I say, are very excellent schools, not withstanding what the right hon. Gentleman has said for the work done in them. The right hon. Gentleman, I think, unfairly and unduly stated the case against the voluntary schools when he appeared to imply that a very large number of them are unsuitable for educational purposes. It is quite true that here and there there are voluntary schools of an unsatisfactory kind—[An HON. MEMBER: "There are also bad board schools!"]—but there are a great many very excellent voluntary schools.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
The right hon. Gentleman says the origin of this Bill was the cry of the supporters of voluntary schools that they could not provide for their schools, but that was not their cry. What was said, and said with great truth and force, was that it was not just that they should have to provide for voluntary schools on the one hand, and on the other hand, and on the other hand be rated for the maintenance of board schools. They also said that the competition between the schools provided out of the rates by an elceted body who thought of nothing but what they had to do as the education authority, and a school which had no rates to fall back upon, was very severe and unfair. But nevertheless they struggled on with great self-denial and difficulty, and found large sums of money in order to maintain and improve these voluntary schools. It would have been a gross injustice to them to have ignored all the work they had done, and from a business point of view it would have been an act of folly to have turned over these 15,000 schools from those who now owned them to new body; and for what reason? For no reason on earth except that hon. Gentlemen opposite believe and try to prove that the control over these schools is not sufficient. The control which the local 951 authority will have is full and complete, and I can show to the House that these educational proposals of the Government follow strictly and completely all precedents in regard to the past history of local government. What has been the form which local government has taken in regard to the poor law and in regard to highways? They were maintained by the parishes and by highway districts, and Parliament made what had been a charge upon a district a charge upon the whole parish or county. The same cry was raised then as now. It is obvious that whatever portion of this expenditure is to be borne out of the local rates, if you are going to transfer the burden and spread it over a wider area or over the county, there must be an imposition of a fresh burden upon some of the ratepayers, although there is a real relief given to the other ratepayers. The system may not be the best that could be adopted, but the Prime Minister in the Bill which he has now very nearly carried through this House has followed strictly and accurately the precedents in regard to local government.
I maintain that there is only one other course if the House rejects these proposals, and that is to adopt what apparently finds favour with the right hon. Gentleman opposite, namely, what is known as the ad hoc system. Does anybody seriously suppose now, in 1902, that in any proposals for education or any similar purpose we are to revert again to an ad hoc election of a separate body for this particular work? [An HON. MEMBER: Yes.] Then all I can say is that Gentlemen who make that proposal fly absolutely in the face of the experience of the last twenty years with respect to local government. If there is one truth that is more persistently borne in upon anybody who has studied local government than another, it has been that by the multiplication of local authorities, the multiplication of elections, and the confusion of responsibilities and duties, you have sickened the people regarding these popular and local bodies, and if you are going to revive interest, if you are going to whip the people up to take an interest in elections, and if you are going to bring in the right sort of people to serve on local bodies, it will only be by reducing th number of local elected bodies, and by concentrationg the work in the hands of one or more of them, and so 952 far as possible, making it perfectly clear that the local authority for a particular area, and not a local authority for this, that, or the other, is the local authority responsible to that locality for all that most affects the comfort, the happiness, and the whole well-being of the people. Therefore to suggest that our system is wrong because we have not adopted the ad hoc system in out proposals, is to fly in the very teeth of the experience of anybody who has taken the trouble to study the question.
What is the nature of the charge that is made against the local authority? It is—and the right hon. Gentleman repeated this—that the control of the local authority is not a real one. We are asked to believe that the local authority has no control. The right hon. Gentleman told us that the control of the local authority is remote and indirect, and he had a great deal to say about committees and sub-committees. I have made it my business to examine and to put down very briefly here what is exactly the position of the local authority, which the right hon. Gentleman said is so remote and indirect that its authority is practically nil. In the first place, the local authority publicly elected is responsible for and has full control over all secular education in its area. In the second place, it appoints one-third of the managers in the non-provided schools. It has the right to inspect all the schools within its area. In the next place, the managers are compelled under this Bill when it becomes law to carry out all the instructions with regard to secular education which the local authority sees fit to give them. They also exercise powers as to the qualifications of the teachers employed in the schools. The managers have the power of dismissal of teachers on educational grounds. The consent of the local authority is required to the appointment and dismissal of teachers upon educational grounds, the managers are compelled to provide the schools and maintain them; and the local authority has power to provide a new school with the consent of the Education Department. I submit that that is a list of powers—powers given for the first time—to these popularly elected education authorities, which if it is accurate, and I maintain it is accurate, entirely disposes of 953 the argument on which the right hon. Gentleman based his contention that the position of the local authority is a sham, and that it has no reality. Their control is full and complete.
The local authority, the right hon. Gentleman tells us, acts through committees, and its powers is therefore diluted. To listen to these attacks upon the Bill one would think that the Gentlemen who make them had never studied or taken any interest in the local government of our country. What after all is our system of local government? It is a system of local government where the local authority is supreme, but where the whole work is done through committees of various kinds. We have been told all through these debates that is no precedent for the devolution of work from the County Councils to the committees. Has the right hon. Gentleman never heard of the Standing Joint Committee? Does he pretend that that is an unpopular body, or that it does its work badly, or that it has not been loyally accepted by the people of our various counties? There are several other committees of the local authorities which stand in the same position. But the local education committee is not independent of the County Council. It is not in the position of the Standing Joint Committee. It has not got the right to issue its precept for expenditure; it has to come back to the County Council for every penny that it spends, and it has to receive the assent and the approval of the County Council for the expenditure. It has no right to expend money without the knowledge and approval of the County Council. If that be the case, and it is the case, how can it be maintained that the position of the local authority with regard to education is a sham, and that it has not got full and complete control? The right hon. Gentleman tells us that the County Councils that are suddenly to be made the education authorities are not elected for this purpose at all. I have listened to that statement, made repeatedly in the course of these debates, and for the life of me I cannot see what force it has. If there is anything in it at all it would follow that you are never to pass measures through the House conferring fresh powers on the local authorities of the country until you have first consulted them as to what view they would take of the proposal.
954 What is the history of local Government? Is it not the case that local authorities have been created and their duties have been added to from time to time, and is there any reason why we should not entrust them with this educational work? The right hon. Gentleman said that they had not had educational work to perform hitherto. A great many of them have done excellent work with funds provided, not out of the rates, but in connection with what was called the "whisky money," which was given for that purpose. I maintain that there is no justification whatever for the argument of the Leader of the Opposition and his friends that the County Councils are not bodies created for this purpose, and that therefore they ought not to be entrusted with the work which they will have to do. I submit that I have shown that this Bill follows, and follows closely, the precedents to be found in previous history in regard to local govenment, and that the control of the local authority is full and complete in every way.
We have heard something said, not by the right hon. Gentleman, but by other crities, many on our own side of the House, in regard to the question of finance. My right hon. friend the Member for Thanet spoke strongly upon that in the earlier part of our proceedings this afternoon. I have already said that the new local authority has full control with regard to expenditure. They alone can authorise expenditure, they alone can levy the rates necessary. But my right hon. friend asked that the Government should state more clearly what was their estimate of the expenditure which will be incurred under this Bill. It is quite impossible for anybody to say what will be the amount of that portion of the expenditure which is dependent upon the decision of the local authorities, and which they will provide for themselves. The local authority is given a very wide discretion. It is given the power to decided what shall be the standard, and what shall be done with regard to education in its own area. It is impossible for us to lay down what will be the view taken by each local authority of the work necessary in its own area. We know what are the grants in aid that are being made under these new proposals, and I venture to say, with great respect to hon. Members on both 955 sides of the House, that the contribution made out of the Exchequer is more liberal than, as a rule, has been made in Bills of this kind. What is it, after all, that the Government provide? The new grant under the Bill is estimated to run to £2,100,000. The grants as they stand now are £625,000 for voluntary schools, £217,000 for School Boards, a total of £842,000. Deducting that from the £2,100,000, we have an additional grant fo £1,257,500. The present voluntary subscriptions in 1901 amounted to £834,000. It is said that these will disappear, but I hope not. But assuming that the sum remains, and is passed over to repairs, there still remains £466,000 additional grant in aid of rates. I should be the last person in the world to suggest that this should be regarded as a final settlement, but I do say that at this stage it is as much as could be asked from the Government. The whole question of taxation, the distribution of the burden between the Imperial and the local exchequers, is one which must be approached by Parliament, and I hope satisfactorily settled, before long. But I submit that in connection with this expenditure on education it would be unreasonable to ask that more should be done at the present moment.
I want to deal with one question which must remain for the present a matter of opinion. We have been told repeatedly during these debates that the County Councils and others are not going to give effect to this Bill if it passes. I may be more sanguine than hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I confess that I do not share that opinion. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may criticise this Bill adversely, but I do not think any of them will deny that there is in it a great deal that must be useful, that there is an abundant opportunity for good educational work for a steady advance of education, if it is taken full advantage of. The Leader of the Opposition, if there was to be a change of Government, would, no doubt, speak with greater authority from this side of the House than from that, but we have not heard one word from him which would justify us in believing that some more generous or satisfactory proposal would come from them. What is it that these local authorities will have to face? First, that this Bill undoubtedly gives them opportunities which will enable them to 956 do great good in educational work; that the present education system is incomplete; that there are gaps to be filled up, and a great deal of work to be done. Are they going to decline to complete this chain so far as this Bill will enable them to do it? Are they going to say, "No, we admit there is work to be done, but we will not do it because this Bill does not meet our wishes?" The main criticism of the Bill is not that it falls short of what it should be in its practical proposals. It is that it does too much for denominational schools. The children of the country are asking for bread in the form of education; are you going to give them, in answer, the stone of religious controversy? Are you going to say to them, "We admit that there is good in this Bill, that it gives us great opportunities for educational reform and advancement, but because we say that we object to your system that of maintaining existence the denominational schools, therefore for that reason alone we will turn our backs on all the opportunities with which you have presented us, and we will do nothing for the people of our district, whatever they may be doing in others?" I do not believe that to be a true forecast of what the local authorities will do. I believe that they will realise their responsibility, and appreciate their opportunities. I believe they will do under this Bill what they have done under previous Acts of Parliament—they will realise what is possible, they will approach their work with a single-minded desire to do their best for those among whom they live. I believe they will find in this Bill the machinery necessary for the purpose, and I believe that they will give effect to it, and thereby do great and lasting good to the nation.
*(4.30.) SIR CHARLES DILKE () Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean
The greater portion of the religious controversy on which we have been engaged in considering this Bill has proceeded not from this side but from the other side of the House; and, while we on this side have said singularly little on any form of religious controversy, we have been auditors of very long debates on religious subjects, which have proceeded from the other side. The right hon. Gentleman said that my right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition 957 failed to realise the difficulties of the Government, and that that was why my right hon. friend was unable to properly criticise the scheme of the Bill. It is our view that these difficulties are mainly of their own creation, and that it is the plan on which they have chosen to deal with the subject that is responsible for the difficulties in which they find themselves, and the difficulties into which they have plunged the country. The right hon. Gentleman said that in abolishing the School Boards of the country it was impossible for the Government to ignore the Town Councils; but he spoke of them as though they were hostile representatives of local feeling to the School Boards.
*SIR CHARLES DILKE
The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government could not ignore the Town Councils.
*SIR CHARLES DILKE
The right hon. Gentleman said that in abolishing the School Boards they could not ignore the Town Councils, and that seemed to the right hon. Gentleman to be a ground for handing over these duties to the Councils, very largely against their own wishes. The right hon. Gentleman ignored the fact that there are hon. Members present who represent constituencies in which the Town Councils and the School Boards take precisely the same view of this Bill, and where the School Board, which it is proposed to abolish, and the Town Council, to whom it is proposed to hand over these duties, equally condemn the Bill. Indeed, in many cases, the Bill is more strongly condemned by the Town Council than by the School Board. The right hon. Gentleman made his main appeal to the House by saying that no other course was possible. No other course possible than one which two years ago no one in the country foresaw, than one which three years ago the Government themselves did not foresee, than one which the Archbishop until Convocation passed Resolutions in favour 958 of it! The right hon. Gentleman told the House that the control to be given by the Bill to a popularly elective authority would be full and complete in every way; and as an example of the extreme popularity of these elective bodies to whom the work was to be given, he instanced the Standing Joint Committee of the rural County Councils. A body less popular, less really representative of the ratepayers is hardly known; and the right hon. Gentleman must have a curious notion of what is a popularly elective body for functions of this kind if he thinks—
§ MR. WALTER LONG
The right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I did not say it was a popularly elective body.
*SIR CHARLES DILKE
The word popular occurred just before and just after the right hon. Gentleman's reference; but, at all events, he compared the Standing Committee with popularly elected School Boards in direct touch with the ratepayers. Now I take issue with the whole principle of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. In the division on leave to bring in the Bill only about twenty-five of us voted No! Most of those who have lately taken the strongest course against the Bill were opposed to our action at the time. We divided because we thought the Bill hopelessly bad. They did not, but have now for the most part come over to our view. The one Liberal Member representing a Scottish constituency not directly affected, who still holds out, and two or three advanced men outside the House, for whose opinions also those who care for education have a high respect, have continued to be favourable to the Bill because they think it creates in each district a single educational authority. We need not inquire if that is so. It is enough that, as regards the rural counties, the single authority is a bad one, because the area is far too large. In the rural areas themselves this opinion is generally entertained. Tories and Liberal Unionists hold it as strongly as we do; and on this main point all reasonable people are agreed. The opposition is reinforced in the rural areas of the West of England by the strong feeling which exists among Churchmen as to the jobbery by which the 959 public money, specially granted a few years ago to voluntary schools, has been wasted by Diocesan Boards. The special representation of the Diocesan Boards on the County Education Committee is a portion of the Government plan.
*MR. TALBOT () Oxford University
Does the right hon. Gentleman refer to Diocesan Boards? What does he mean by jobbery? It is not a word that should be lightly used.
*SIR CHARLES DILKE
I do not mean that the members of those Boards stole the money; but I mean that money has been given to the schools which had the strongest representation on the Boards, and was not given to the poor schools for which the House intended it.
*SIR CHARLES DILKE
It is substantiated by many votes at elections in the West of England. The facts as regards Gloucestershire have been published; and the authorities of Church schools have themselves published the definite figures for the West of England in the local press. Those of us who opposed the Bill of 1870 as unduly favourable to voluntary schools,—my right hon. friend the Member for Monmouth shire, my noble friend the Member for Wiltshire, with myself—had come to hope that a School Board system based on popular election in convenient areas, would, in the long run, give us a national system. School Boards were not originally in the Bill of 1870. They were put in by the House, unanimously as regards London, although the London School Board is now also to be destroyed in 1903. As regards the rest of the country, my suggestion of 1870, to have School Boards elected by the ratepayers, carried half the House of Commons against the Government of the day, with the effect that the Government yielded to our view. We believed that the School Boards would gradually supersede the temporary system, as we thought it, of State-aided voluntary schools. It was not so. Still we have accepted, in practice, the compromise of 1870, as modified by subsequent legislation. It was, on the whole, working well. It 960 was working in the rural counties far better than this Bill will work for elementary education. The large School Board districts are excellent; educationally much better than will be the rural county. In the rest of the rural districts the system is not bad for its cost, although it is run very cheaply in many cases. This Bill destroys School Boards, which are doing the best work, and, outside the School Board areas, offers no certainty of improvement, but only an assured additional charge. In the towns it will uproot what exists, substitute chaos for a time, and, in the long run, a system no better than the present, which is good.
The right hon. Gentleman claimed credit for the higher education portion of the Bill, and referred to the necessity of dealing with the difficulties which had arisen. But these difficulties were brought on the Government by the Cocker ton judgment, the result of which they controlled. We have never opposed the part of the Bill dealing with higher education, and our Amendments were not wrecking Amendments, but were designed to strengthen the Bill. As regards higher education, the School Boards had, rightly we think, done much, and might have done more had they not been interfered with. But we have offered no opposition to the proposals for higher education. We admit that the country was ready for a measure of higher education which might have been carried easily, and might have been a stronger and better measure than the higher education portion of this Bill. The School Board system has been abolished by the House of Commons against, I am convinced, the opinion of the majority of the people, in the districts in which and for which School Boards exist. We regret the destruction of a directly-elective education system, the loss from the School Boards of the workmen, and of others who as representatives of the localities really within the knowledge of the electorate, have learned the work and done the work admirably in the past. If there were to be a new departure, if the risk of creating an entirely new authority was to be run, then, surely, it should have been in connection with the creation of a really national system, 961 by the purchase or renting of the voluntary schools and their government by the people in districts of moderate size, not in unmanageable areas such as Lancashire or the West Riding. Even in counties of middling size, the county town is often difficult of access.
As regards the details of the Government plan, they have been carried by the Closure without adequate discussion. The financial proposals which were discussed were so new at the moment of the debate that it was impossible to bring home to the House the injustice which is done by the extraordinary variation of the rate between parish and parish in one county, under one authority—variation of the rate, without any variation of what is obtained in exchange for it. The strongest case of all is perhaps that of areas which formed a group of united parishes in a School Board district. Some of them not benefited in any way, must find three quarters, or less, probably a half, of the capital expenditure, including that on the school master's house, in a distant parish, and get no consideration for it from the county, while a voluntary school obtains a rent from the county in such cases. Yet the property in the case of the dissolved School Board district is at the absolute command of the County Council, though the district pays and receives nothing. In the other case, where the County Council pays a rent, the schoolmaster's house is not at the command of the county except during elementary school secular hours. As regards the financial considerations, a curious matter arises, that will have to be considered when the time comes, but it is the fact that there are two Amendments which are required to make the Government scheme complete. Those Amendments have not been carried, and if the Government scheme is to work, it was the duty of the Government to have re-committed this Bill today in order to incorporate those Amendments. The Closure which brought about this result has caused very considerable ambiguity in other matters besides the financial propositions of the Bill. It will be responsible for complexities in its provisions which will make it very difficult indeed for willing authorities to carry out the Bill.
962 Owing to the mode in which we have been forced to legislate, the obscurity of the Bill is not confined to the Kenyon-Slaney incomprehensible Amendment, which ought to be made a 40th Article of the Church of England, for it has a similar Parliamentary sanction. Among the new principles rammed in on Thursday night by Closure, without the opportunity of discussion, is an episcopal veto on orders as to the management of voluntary schools, in the form of an opportunity of dissent on the part of either House of Parliament.
But it is with principle that on this occastion we can best deal. It is our view that to throw the so-called voluntary schools almost entirely on to rates and taxes cuts us off from the movement of the world in education, and constitutes the first thoroughly reactionary piece of legislation in English-speaking countries in our time. The result of what has been done must be that those who desired to keep rural local government away from Party, and to elect to the County Councils all those who, while out of political sympathy with the districts which they represent, are gratefully admired for the work which, in the past, they have well done, will have to join in fighting all the County Council seats upon this Bill. The schemes are to be passed by the existing County Councils, elected without the slightest suspicion that they would have to deal with primary education. The spirit in which the existing authorities are likely to treat the question may be seen from the action which many of them have already taken. Some indeed, however, have declared against the Bill; Wiltshire, for example, by two to one, although there is a Unionist majority upon the Council. A dozen Unionists walked out of the room in order not to have to vote, and others of them voted against the Bill. In Gloucester the same thing happened; and a minority of only eight, deserted by their Unionist friends who walked out, ventured to pronounce themselves favourable to the Bill. In some areas the Councils have not been allowed to express a free opinion In Gloucestershire the right hon. Baronet the Chairman of the County Council treated his Council as the Archbishop of York is said to have treated the House 963 of Laymen. The Member for the Tewkesbury Division ruled a Motion out of order on the ground that it was not the custom of the Council to discuss Bills before Parliament. When it was shown that there was a precedent of his own making, he held that the gentleman who wished to move a resolution against the Bill could only read his notice and ask the Council to place it on the agenda for next Christmas. This notice the Chairman at once called on the Council to reject without debate, saying that the Council could not allow discussion in advance. Before the train containing the representatives of the western portion of the county reached the county capital he threw out the motion by a majority.
After the old County Councils have prepared the scheme for the constitution of the Committee and the working of the Bill, behind the back of their electors, the new County Councils, to be elected in the spring of 1904, will be elected on this question and will have to reverse the scheme, or even block the scheme until they get their way — the way of the majority. The electors have been challenged by the statement that the County Council is a democratically - elected authority, and we must accept the challenge. It is the only way of making the new system national, but it means carrying the struggle in which we have been here engaged into every parish in the country. We shall do so under some disadvantage. We have allowed the rural magnates to be elected without opposition. Moreover, the franchise and the distribution of seats are far from democratic. The electoral districts are not based on population, but on rateable value, area, and population; and area means the exact opposite of population. To the Gloucestershire County Council nearly 12,000 people in an urban district return one Member, an opponent of this Bill: and three Conservative seats, held by supporters of the Bill, have between 2,000 and 3,000 electors each, or. all three together, far fewer than are represented by one opponent and the same number as are represented by another opponent of the Bill. The existence of county aldermen still further removes the majority from the democratic control of the electorate. That electorate itself is far from being 964 popular or democratic, for, while in hardly any case are two miners or two labourers to be found on the county register for a single house, I have named a case where eight supporters of the Bill, six brothers and two sisters, have recently been placed upon the county register in respect of a single country house. The First Lord spoke on Friday of the School Board system as "the only popular system which at present exists." He preaches excellent funeral sermons. But he was the murderer. There is no resurgam on the School Board tombstone; but we shall fight to make the county a great School Board, animated by our spirit and converted to our views. It is not on Nonconformist but on national lines that we shall fight, aided no doubt by that warfare between two clerical factions whose internecine hatreds are far stronger than is the hostility of Protestant dissenters to the Church.
Some have advised the refusal of the rate. There are those whose conscience is so touched that they will refuse to pay and will endure whatever consequences are imposed. If the policy should be recommended to others whose consciences are not affected, it becomes an alternative policy: an alternative to the necessary policy of fighting every County Council seat. None of us would attempt to argue with those to whom it is a case of conscience. Most of us here feel that it is as objectionable to have to pay taxes permanently towards a non-national system as to pay rates. When it comes to advising those whose consciences are not touched, I do not think we can advise them to refuse the rate. We shall advise them to fight every County Council seat, and then, after the unnecessary conflict forced upon us is conlcuded, we may hope that the rural county will become one great, though cumbersome, School Board, capable of discharging, less well, the function which School Boards for districts of moderate size performed so admirably under the system which you have destroyed. There is no third policy. Some call on us to declare that we shall repeal the act when we come into power. It will never be repealed, though it must be amended. Humpty-Dumpty cannot be set up again. The School Boards once destroyed are destroyed for ever. But the rural county can be cut up into 965 districts under the Bill and each of these made into a great popular School Board.
There are some of us who deeply regret that the time of the Prime Minister in his first session as Prime Minister should have been spent upon this unhappy Bill. His high and deserved personal reputation has gained by his tactical conduct of the Bill. But some of us had hoped to be able to work with him, though from opposite sides of the House, towards national ends. Now he has turned every parish into a cockpit. It is with sorrow that we find ourselves called upon to consume for a year and a quarter all our energies in a fight of half the nation against the other half;but in that struggle we do not expect to prove inferior to our traditions.
§ (5.6) MR. CRIPPS () Lancashire, Stretford
I should not have taken part in this debate at its present stage but for an expression used by the right hon. Baronet opposite, which I think ought to be challenged at the earliest possible moment. The right hon. Baronet brought a charge of jobbery against the Diocesan Boards. I challenge him, either inside or outside the House, now or hereafter, to bring forward a single fact which can really justify such an allegation.
*SIR CHARLES DILKE
I will supply the hon. and learned Member with the facts as soon as I can get them;they were published about a year and a half ago.
§ MR. CRIPPS
I have seen the accounts, but the fact that accounts are published is no justification of a charge of this kind. It is natural enough that where you have limited funds at your disposal, the people who do not get so large a portion of those funds as they had hoped for should be discontented. We all admit that, but I say that this charge against the Diocesan Boards of what is really wholesale jobbery in connection with public funds committed to their care, is a monstrous allegation, which should be followed up by specific data. It is not a charge to be lightly made, and I hope the right hon. Baronet will either follow up his allegation with specific 966 instances, or withdraw a charge which ought never to have been made, particularly in this House, against a body of men who have fulfilled a great public duty, merely on published accounts—
*SIR CHARLES DILKE
The hon. and learned Member says, "particulary in this House." If the implication is that the charge has not been made in the locality, I may say that I made it in the locality a year and a half ago.
§ MR. CRIPPS
If the right hon. Baronet did so make it, he ought to be the more prepared with specific data. The right hon. Baronet not only charged the Diocesan Boards with jobbery, but he charged corruption of the worst kind, in my opinion, against the Government. He stated that the Government had controlled the decision in the Cockerton case;in other words, that the Government had intervened, as a Government, and interfered with the decision of the Court.
*SIR CHARLES DILKE
I did not use that phrase, and if the hon. and learned Member is about to found an argument upon it, he had better take the phrase I did use. What I said was that the result of that judgment was under their control.
§ MR. CRIPPS
I took down the words of the right hon. Baronet. If he withdraws them, well and good, but they were that the Government "controlled" the Cockerton judgment.
§ MR. CRIPPS
If the right hon. Baronet says that that is what he meant I need not go further into the matter. But I do not wish to bandy words on a point of this kind. I took down that the judgment—that is, the opinion of the Court—had been influenced or controlled by the Executive Government.
§ MR. CRIPPS
Then what does the right hon. Baronet mean when he talks 967 about the control of the Cockerton judgment by the Government? What is done after a judgment of that kind is a matter of policy, and men may agree or disagree with it. If that is what the right hon. Baronet means, I have no fault to find with what he said, but his words conveyed not only to me, but to others, an entirely different meaning. If that is withdrawn—
*SIR CHARLES DILKE
I do not withdraw anything. I adhere to what I said, but I certainly did not mean that, and I am under a strong impression that I did not say it.
§ MR. CRIPPS
Any way, I took down the words at the time. Then there was a statement with regard to the teachers house which I did not follow. Does the right hon. Baronet imply that those houses, or any of them, have been constructed as charge on the rates, or that since 1870 they have been constructed out of any charge on or loan from the National Exchequer?
*SIR CHARLES DILKE
I referred to an extinguished School Board district, into which parishes had been brought to make a sufficiently large area for rating purposes. Some of those parishes have never derived any benefit from the school, the school being in a distant parish, but they will have to bear a liability for building the house.
§ MR. CRIPPS
I will deal with that, but it is an entirely different point. That is a question which may be argued as to the adjustment of rating liability between different parishes or districts. But I understood the right hon. Baronet to say that the exception of teachers' houses was peculiarly inadvisable, because, in many cases, those houses had been built out of a charge upon the rates.
*SIR CHARLES DILKE
The case I was putting was of exactly the nature I have just described, viz., a couple of rural parishes in a School Board;they have to bear a liability, from which they have never derived any benefit, and they will have to pay not only for the building but also for the school-house. I said that the hardness of the case was there 968 shown by the fact that although they gave the buildings to the country they got no rent for them, whereas the voluntary school managers would get a rent for the schoolmasters' houses.
§ MR. CRIPPS
Then I quite misunderstood the right hon. Baronet's statement and argument. As regards the distribution between the county area and the minor area, that, of course, is a matter upon which we may have differences of opinion. But that is quite a different question from the allegation which has been more than once made in this House, viz., that these teacher's houses for which a rent will in future have to be paid, if they belong to denominational bodies, have been constructed out of a charge on the ratepayers. I absolutely deny that that is a fact. Since 1870 there has not been a farthing of charge on the taxpayers in connection with teachers' houses.
Now, Sir, I will say a word or two in reference to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman, in his amiable way, summed up the views of the Opposition against the proposals of the Government. His first allegation was that there was a necessary antithesis between what he called a national and a denominational system. Apart from the play upon words, I might appeal on this point to what has been said several times from the Benches opposite. There is no antithesis. Here, however, we come to the question we have discussed, viz., whether the particular proposal of the Government for the incorporation of the denominational into the national system is in itself a wise and good measure, but that is an entirely different matter. It is a misapprehension, at the very outset, to treat these two points as necessarily inconsistent. They were made consistent in 1870 by the Liberal Government of the day, they have been carried on as consistent ever since, and I thought it was more or less common ground that any national system must comprehend the denominational system, having regard to the history of education in this country.
The next statement of the right hon. Gentleman was, I thought, rather one of prejudice, viz., that questions had 969 arisen as to the respective parts laymen and clerics should play in national education, and that he was wholly for the laymen. That was a very bold way of describing what the point of discussion has been. I think that almost every one who has followed the arguments has come to the conclusion that you must have both the lay and the clerical element in education, and that the question is simply as to the relative share that each should take. I have always been opposed to "one-man management," and I welcome this Bill because it introduces into what are really private schools a local representative element. It has been supposed that some Members on this side want to destroy or diminish the element of lay management. That is not the case except within the region of doctrine, which has been especially preserved to one class under the trust deeds. I do not believe there is a single Member who desires to turn the lay element out of the managing body as regards public elementary education. They simply desire that questions of doctrine should not be at the will of—not a representative body in the true sense of the term, but of a body of casually appointed laymen.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition then referred to what is sometimes called the constitutional question—that where you have public expenditure you ought to have public control. There, again, I do not believe a single Member on this side of the House disagrees with that general proposition. The question is whether the Bill gives a fair measure of public control as regards public expenditure. On that point there has been a great deal of misapprehension, and I should like to say a few words on what I consider to be the true basis and theory by which to test whether or not you have a proper control in relation to the public expenditure. To begin with, it seems to be forgotten that, whatever the proportions may be, you get your funds partly from the National Exchequer and partly from rates. The funds which come from the National Exchequer are safeguarded from this House through the Education Department, who, through their inspectors, see that the requirements of the Code, for which this House is responsible, are carried out. It 970 is just the same as regards every grant made by this House for the purposes of local expenditure. Our one and only security is the control we have over the spending Department, whether it is the Board of Education, the Home Office, or any other, who act through their various inspectors. The portion of the expenditure which in future will be provided for the denominational schools, in reference to which the question of public control arises, is therefore that which comes from the rates. What are the conditions as regards the rates? I admit that it is impossible to make a very accurate estimate as regards the future, but the best estimate of the charge upon the rates is that it will not exceed one-sixth or one-seventh of the whole expenditure on voluntary schools under the Bill. In respect of that expenditure, you not only get the entire local control, as regards secular education, but even as regards education which is not secular—that is, in the general management —you get one-third representation. The challenge I make is this. It is no good talking about the control of the representation. If I am right in my contention that only one-sixth or one-third of the expenditure of denominational schools be thrown upon the rates, and if in respect of that you give the ratepayers one-third of the management as regards religious education. I want to know have I established my proposition that under this Bill you give a complete and a more than complete element of public control as regards any question of expenditure? [OPPOSITION laughter.] It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to laugh, but I challenge them as regards the argument. I challenge them to say what principle they suggest to give a larger element of public control as regards expenditure. I know that hon. Members opposite would like to do away with denominational bodies altogether. I will not go back upon this argument, for it has been argued again and again, and if those in favour of denominational education have not made their position absolutely certain up to this point, it is no good arguing the matter any further. Assuming that you maintain denominational education, and assuming that the question is whether you give a sufficient measure of representative control to the 971 ratepayers, there is no answer to what I say—that you give a far larger measure of representation than ought to be given as regards any possible expenditure that will occur under this Bill.
There is one other matter with which the right hon. Gentleman dealt, and upon which I should like to say one or two words before I sit down. Apart from this control of expenditure. I want to deal with what has been said as regards public control from the point of view of public representation on the management only. I must say that I think the right hon. Gentleman cannot have appreciated in what he said how matters of local government are managed, not only in our counties but in county boroughs. I will not go into what was said by the right hon. Gentleman who represents the Local Government Board. It is notorious that the whole tendency of local self-government in this country has been towards concentration and uniformity, whether you take the parish constable or the parish road or the poor law. In every direction you have had this same system of concentration upon particular bodies, and therefore these bodies must act through committees. What does the right hon. Gentleman mean as regards the absence of representative control because you act through committees or sub-committees?
§ MR. CRIPPS
Let me deal with the right hon. Gentleman's two points. As regards their not being a committee of elected members, that is nothing more than a question of administration. As a matter of fact, under this Bill as it stands every single member of the local education authority might be a member of the representative body. I do not know how far this tendency will be carried out, but we have the analogy of the committees under the Technical Instruction Acts. This only means that you reinforce your representative element by an expert element;and what has been found as a matter of practical administration is that you get better results if you have an elected element and an expert element as well. I go further, and say that if you are to take most of the views expressed by progressive Members on the other side of the House as regards municipal 972 government, they all agree upon this, because they have expressed the opinion more than once that the best way of ensuring efficient municipal representative government is not merely by trusting to the representative element alone, but also by including the expert or special representative. In this particular case you may introduce it or not, and I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman opposite might have trusted local representative bodies on this point to carry out their duties in the best possible administrative manner. I am one of those who always very much regretted that the general principle of uniformity has been impaired by the special treatment of urban and borough councils, for I have always looked upon that as a limitation which interferes to that extent with the main principle of the Bill. I regret it enormously, but what I want to put is that there is still an enormous advance under this Bill upon the conditions which exist at the present moment. What can be better than to take the parish as the basis of the area for educational purposes, and although under this Bill a borough of a particular size and an urban district of a particular size have been maintained, there is an enormous advance in spreading the local interests as regards education over a far wider area than before. Although I will not use the word "contempt" I do say that I think the right hon. Gentleman used somewhat contemptuous language in regard to this principle in the Bill.
I speak from the experience I have had upon this educational question, and from the knowledge I have of the propularity of this Bill in the great industrial centres of the North. [OPPOSITION laughter]. There is no county in which this Bill is so popular as in the great manufacturing county of Lancashire. There is no county and no County Council which has received this Bill in the same spirit as Lancashire, although the County Council in Lancashire is under the leadership of a gentleman who does not agree with the Government in political matters, but who at the same time is one of the greatest educational experts—I allude to Sir John Hibbert. This Bill has been received in this way in Lancashire because it has co-ordinated education, and it is an extraordinary argument to put forward at this stage of the Bill, as has been put forward by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that this measure 973 in any way interferes with what everyone who is in favour of this Bill had looked upon as the element which they cared most about, namely, that it will enable the poor child to start at the bottom of the education ladder, and, if his abilities justify it, he will be provided with secondary edcuation right up to the univerisity. Upon this point I do repudiate most strongly the suggestions made from the opposite side that there is something of the obscurantist element in this Bill. If I thought it was not for the advantage of education—and the main point is after all whether it is a good educational meausre or not—If I did not believe that from an edcuational point of view this is a great and a most beneficial edcuational reform, I should not have supported it so cordially as I admit I have always done both in this House and outside.
It is on that ground that our great industrial centres of the North are in favour of this Bill, and it is on that ground that the isolated country districts are in favour of it. [OPPOSITION cries of "Leeds."] I am talking about the great industrial centres of Lancashire. [OPPOSITION cries of "Bury."] I will give hon. Gentlemen opposite what they can make out of matters of that kind. I understand their opposition to be not on the main lines of the Bill, but on incidental matters which are not educational matters, which have been introduced into the discussion of a great educational question. In undertaking any great and statesmanlike reform in matters upon which the people feel deeply, I willingly admit that a Government must risk popularity. I honour the Government because they have done this. Apart from matters of improtant details, upon which I have expressed my difference of opinion with the Government. I have cordially supported this meausre. But although I feel strongly upon some of these incidental matters, which are of great importance, yet I do feel much more strongly that in its main lines this is a great edcuational reform which will carry out the purpose for which it has been introduced, and from that point of view this Bill will certainly have my most hearty support on the Third Reading.
*(5.35.)MR. HERBERT SAMUEL () Yorkshire, Cleveland
I must beg the forgiveness of the House if I rise so early to ask its attention. I know that it is 974 somewhat unusual for a Member so newborn as myself to utter anything more articulate than a cheer;but I have been sent to this House with a message on the Education Bill, so special and direct—from a great industrial centre—that I should not be doing my duty if I did not voice in this House the opposition to this measure which my constituents feel so strongly, and which they have expressed so decisively. The objections which we entertain to this Bill are not, as the hon. Member for Stretford appears to think, merely on incidental matters, but they are objections which go to the very root and centre of the matter. We object to this Bill because it destroys the direct popular control of the people over the people's schools. We object to the Bill because it throws the entire cost of education in the voluntary schools of the country on to public funds while it establishes no complete system of popular control. The hon. Member opposite threw down a challenge to the Opposition. He said that it is clear that the control over these schools is ample in proportion to the payment made from the public funds, but when the teachers are paid entirely out of the rates and taxes how can it be said that the public control is ample when the appointment of those teachers in over 12,000 schools is left to a committee of which two-thirds is in no way representative of the people. You cannot allocate one particular branch of revenues to the teachers, and in future the whole income of the schools, apart from the maintenance of the buildings, will come from public funds, and consequently the teachers will be paid entirely out of public funds in a way in which they have never been paid before. Under these circumstances it is not complete public control to leave the appointment of the teachers in the hands of committees which, by a majority of two-thirds, are wholly unrepresentative.
We object to this Bill because it does not remedy the grievances of Nonconformists in single school areas, and because it imposes sectarian tests upon teachers in 12,000 schools in this country, in which practically no Nonconformist will ever be able to obtain a post as a schoolmaster or schoolmistress. What is the defence offered for these restrictions?
975 It is that the voluntaryists provide the school buildings, and in cases where there are no fees, no endowments, and no teachers' houses, they will also have to pay the cost of repairs. Let me put an illustration. Suppose, for the sake of argument that the Roman Catholic community in this country was a very wealthy community, and suppose they had offered to build national schools for elementary education throughout the country, but on the condition that all the teachers should be Roman Catholics, and that no religious instruction should be given in these schools except Roman Catholic instruction. Would hon. Members opposite have been prepared to accept such an offer as that? I think they would realise at once that the terms were preposterous;and yet when they propose precisely the same terms themselves, in regard to 12,000 schools, for the Nonconformists of England, they are surprised and astonished that the Nonconformists rise in revolt against such terms.
Would it have been impossible, after all, to have arrived at some new and larger compromise on this question which would have ended once and for all this long wrangle, this lamentable quarrel, which for sixty years has kept the Churches apart, and has so often prevented this House from doing its full duty to the children of the nation? What is it that hon. Members opposite specially desire? It is that the children should have the right to be instructed in the religious doctrines of their parents. Would it have been impossible for us to have conceded that claim? What do we desire on our side? That there should be a national system of education under complete popular control, that there should be equal rights for all sects and no religious tests for the teachers. Would it have been impossible for hon. Members opposite in return to have conceded this to us? Why would it have been so difficult to have introduced a measure transferring, on equitable terms, these voluntary schools to popular control and placing them on the footing of provided schools;giving in them the fullest possible liberty for religious instruction;allowing the teachers themselves to impart non-sectarian religious teaching; allowing ministers of religion, or others nominated 976 by them, to enter the schools and give at the cost of the denominations the definite religious instruction the parents of the children specially desire, and at the same time allowing those parents who did not wish to have any religious instruction given to their children the opportunity of withdrawing them under the Conscience Clause. It would not pass the wit of man, or that highest form of the wit of man, the ingenuity of Cabinet Ministers, to elaborate a scheme of this character. It is no new scheme. It has been said that the system of education in our colonies is entirely secular and undenominational. I find, however, that not only are ordinary Scripture lessons given, but facilities are afforded for special religious teachers to enter the schools to give such denominational instruction as the partents desire their children to receive. In New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick, the State gives undenominational religious instruction while allowing these facilities to each denomination;in Queensland and New Zealand the State limits itself to secular teaching, but allows the same facilities. There is a similar system in some of the German States, in Hungary, and in Ireland.
It is said that the cost of purchasing the voluntary schools would make the scheme impossible, but that cost at the outside would not entail a loan that would bring an interest charge of more than half a million a year. It has been urged from this side of the House that it would be impossible to secure teachers to come in from the outside to give adequate religious instruction, but this proposal would supply an automatic test as to how far definite dogmatic instruction was really desired. If the denominations were not willing to pay capable teachers to come in and give the instruction, it would prove that that instruction was not desired. It has been urged, also, with great force, that the children would be divided into various denominational camps, and penned up in various theological folds. But is it seriously imagined that every Nonconformist child, who goes to a Nonconformist Sunday school, is not aware that he is a Nonconformist? Every Roman Catholic child knows from its earliest years that it belongs to the Catholic body and not to the Protestant 977 body, and similarly with other denominations. My right hon. friend the Member for South Aberdeen urged that, after all, this dogmatic teaching was unnecessary, and that the virtues could be inculcated without specific denominational instruction. That is also my own view, but I do not think the State is entitled to say that. The State has no right to declare how much or how little dogmatic teaching is necessary for the formation of character. This House is not a synod, and those who hold Disestablishment views should be the first to proclaim that Parliament is incompetent to say exactly what particular religious principles persons should hold and should be taught. As a Liberal, I wish to see the greatest possible liberty given for all sorts of religious beliefs to be taught, even in the schools paid for by the State. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Berwick, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon have declared themselves in favour of this, and even the General Committee of the Free Church Council has declared that it would be willing to accept this scheme as a compromise.
I am profoundly convinced that it is only upon those lines that a settlement of this question will ultimately come. You cannot abolish tests for teachers; you cannot abolish sectarian management; you cannot abolish the denominational system of training colleges, unless you undenominationalise the voluntary schools, and I believe that in practice it will be found impossible to throw the voluntary schools into the general national system unless you at the same time give the right of entry to other religious bodies. But this is not the scheme of this Bill. This is a Bill saturated through and through, from beginning to end, with the very essence of the spirit of sectarianism. And it is a Bill which has been introduced in response to no public demand. I know that some discredit has been cast on the doctrine of the mandate. It is indeed impossible to say that a Government shall never introduce a measure which has not been formally before the country at a General Election; but, on the other hand, a Government has no right to introduce a measure which deeply divides the nation after a General Election 978 which had been specifically limited to another issue. If a Liberal Government had been elected on some question of foreign policy and had used its power to force through a measure, let us say, for the disestablishment of the Church, would not hon. Members on the other side have been the first to cry out and to say that it was a gross abuse of Constitutional usage? The speeches of the Colonial Secretary have been quoted to prove how closely the issue of the last general election was limited to the question of the South African War. But, after all, his speeches can always be quoted on either said in any controversy. The same has been said of Holy Scripture. There, however, the resemblance ends. I go to the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury himself. Again and again he told the country that on the South African War alone was the judgment of the nation to be given. In his election address he declared—Every citizen is bound to dismiss all smaller issues.In one of his first speeches in Manchester he said—He was anxious that on his first appearance before his constituents not a word should escape him on any collateral subject which should suggest the possibility that there was any other and smaller issue before them than the great question on which the country was required to express its verdict.Again he said in Manchester—This is the solitary issue of importance before the constituencies.And in his last speech he declared—The poll to-morrow did not turn on any of the old questions which had previously divided the electors. It was a new issue, to be governed by new considerations.I have read through with some industry all his speeches during the general election as reported in The Times, but I cannot find one single speech, nor one paragraph in his election address, in which the smallest reference is made to the giving of rate aid, or to giving aid of any sort, to the voluntary schools of this country.
The hon. Member for the Stretford Division, who spoke last, said that this Bill is very popular in the great centres of industry, although, almost in the same breath, he declared that the Government had risked their popularity in introducing it. There is only one way in 979 which the popularity or unpopularity of a measure can be shown, and that is by the votes of the people themselves. There have been since this Bill was introduced six elections in various parts of the country, from the extreme south up to those islands in the north where sea-sick candidates wander disconsolately from rock to rock. [An HON. MEMBER: Devonport.] I am including Devonport, where the circumstances, however, were exceptional and peculiar, and where questions of Imperial politics are sometimes subordinated to somewhat sordid interests. In those six constituencies the Conservative poll has been decreased by 10 per cent., and the Liberal poll, on the other hand, has been increased by 40 per cent. The total Conservative poll was reduced from 31,400 to 27,800, while the total Liberal poll was increased from 22,800 to 31,500. If that shows that this Bill has been popular in the country I am at a loss to know how unpopularity can be shown.
This is a Bill, also, which has been forced through this House by the exceptional use of the Closure. I have been carefully through the Bill, and I find that it contains, to be precise, just 637 lines, of which no fewer than 184, or not far short of a third, have been passed through the House without a single minute's debate, without the slightest opportunity for discussion or for one solitary Amendment to be moved. Not only that, but the nine pages of Schedules, which contain a large number of improtant provisions which have attracted a great deal of attention throughout the country, have been passed also without being at all before the attention of this House. If it is said that the debates have been protracted, let it be remembered that, though in form one Bill, it is not in reality one Bill at all. It is three Bills merged and amalgamated into one. It is a Bill to revolutionise the system of primary education and to abolish the School Boards; it is a Bill to establish a system of secondary education, or rather to allow others to establish a system of secondary education; and, in the third place, it is a Bill to give rate aid on certain terms to the voluntary schools. All these proposals are more or less distinct from one another, and each needed, and should have had, considerable debate.
This measure is introduced in response to no public demand; it is resisted with 980 great intensity by a large section of the nation; and it has been forced through this House by the use of the Closure. It presents as clear a case as could be presented for action by the Second Chamber. If ever there was a case in which the Second Chamber was justified in rejecting a Bill passed through this House I venture to say this is the occasion. But when Conservatives are in office we have no Second Chamber. For all practical purposes the House of Lords disappears; the Constitution is a single-chamber Constitution; the House of Lords hibernates, and though it may growl in its sleep when stirred by the bishops, it does not awake to resume its destructive activities until a Liberal Ministry is once more in power. This Bill, of course, will pass through the other House with practically no difficulty. The provisions it contains for secondary education will stand. But I am profoundly convinced that the time is not distant when the work with regard to voluntary schools will have to be undone, and that a new settlement on other lines will have to be undertaken. Hon. Members opposite as well as ourselves, I feel sure, must deplore the fact that after these prolonged debates this question of denominational edcuation still remains as one of the unsolved questions before the country. All who realise—as I, for one, fully realise—how much vice, how much crime, how much immorality there are in this country of ours, how potent and how active are the forces that make for evil, who also realise the need for genuine unity and harmony among the various Churches of the country in combating those evils, must all the more deplore that this Bill does nothing to remove, but rather accentuates, the antagonism on this question that has so long existed between the Churches. There can be no cordial harmony, no true unity between the Churches, so long as one is given privileges at the expense of the rest, and so long as education, which should be a national concern, is left to be a battlefield between contending sects.
§ (5.58.) MR. WANKLYN () Bradford, Central
May I be permitted to offer my congratulations to the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, on the ability he has shown in his speech? I can say for myself that I have derived great pleasure 981 from the perusal of his book on "Liberalism." I have never found my own grievance in regard to the existing order of things better put than in the book of which the hon. Gentleman is the author. He says—In two-thirds of the country Board schools and voluntary schools exist side by side, and those who wish their children to be given denominational teaching have not only to pay the School Board rates, but to subscribe to the schools of their own sect as well. Their position is much the same as that of the Dissenters in the days of Church rates, whom conscience compelled to give to the chapel, and law compelled also to give to the Church.I read the book with much interest when it was published, and also the preface written by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife. I am glad to be able to state that I find myself in agreement with much that the hon. Member has said in his speech, but on the particular question of rate aid I join absolute issue with him.
The main prejudice has arisen against this Bill, I think, in connection with authorship. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Forest of Dean, in opening his speech, ascribed the authorship of the Bill to Convocation, and generally the authorship has been ascribed to the bishops. The Prime Minister has said more than once that there is no bargain between him and the bishops. Canon MacColl, a life-long friend of Mr. Gladstone, has informed us in a pamphlet he has just published that Convocation was not the author of the Bill. The hon. Member for the Carnarvon Boroughs has done me the honour to suggest that I am the author of the Bill. I may ballowed on the Third Reading to congratulate the hon. Member for Carnarvon on the manner in which he has led the opposition to the Bill, but I cannot claim to be myself the author of it But while I cannot claim the authorship of it, I can let in a little light on that subject. I was asked by one of the authors of the Bill last year—"What would Bradford think, and what woluld Bradford like?" And my answer was that Bradford would like a Bill based on the Memorandum of Mr. Forster to the Cabinet, dated 21st October, 1869. That Memorandum opened with the statement—We must supplement and not supplant,982 and went on—Our object, then, is to supplement the present voluntary system—that is, to fill up its gaps at least cost of public money, with least loss of voluntary co-operation. I, therefore, now look with most hope. to compulsory school provision, if and where necessary, but not otherwise;. but it seems to me impossible. unless we divide the country into districts.In his speech in the following year in this House, Mr. Forster said—Well, the electoral body we have chosen for the towns is the Town Council. In the Country we have taken the best body we could find—the vestry.At that time, of course, of course, the County Councils were not in existence. The Vice President of the Council has told us that he feared the idea of putting the supreme control of secondary education into the hands of the County Councils was not an original idea of any member of the Government, but it was based on Mr. Forster's proposal, which I have just read to the House. The Bill supplements and does not supplant. Next, it places the supreme control of sceular education in the hands of the City Councils and the County Councils, and it follows Mr. Forster's views in another step. Mr. Forster had absolute confidence in the City Councils, and he said he would leave the nomination of the sub-committee to them, with full power of cooptation. "You cannot," said Mr. Forster, "if you put power into the hands of these local bodies, trust them too much." Now I come to the crucial point of rates, and when I am taunted with being singular, it is singular to me how few Members on either side of the House recollect that Mr. Forster always advocated rate-aid to volumtary schools. I am sure that will not be questioned by the Member for North Camberwell, because he knows the education question so thoroughly, and he will recollect, probably, that Mr. Forster, in 1868, introduced himself, with Mr. Bruce, a Bill into this House giving full rate-aid to voluntary schools. Mr. Forster's argument was given in these words—It is not unfair to levy a rate on a Roman Catholic for the secular education of a Methodist. But if the ratepayers give aid to schools they should do so impartially—it to any, then to all efficient schools, whether denominational or secular.983 And in a letter to Mr. John Bright of October, 1871, he wrote as follows—The power to assist the voluntary schools out of the rates, greatly objected to by the Nonconformists, was omitted.But Mr. Forster himself, I have reason to think, never saw onjections to rate-aid to voluntary schools. His original proposal was set out in the words I have read to the House, but it was watered down subsequently. Finally, Mr. Gladstone dealt with the difficulty by giving an extra grant from the Exchequer in lieu of rate-aid, but that grant from the Exchequer, of course, in a very short time became of no more value than the threepenny rate of Mr. Forster. With the growth of demands in the increasing standard in which we all rejoice, that grant in aid became of no more value than the threepenny rate, and so we had the measure of 1897 giving the voluntary schools more assistance. And now what has the Government done? Ministers have reverted to this Memorandum of Mr. Forster of October, 1869, and they have boldly put all schools, as he suggested, on the rates also with regard to secular education. It has always seemed to me unfair to penalise the majority for the prejudices of the minority. If we tax and rate a Jew for the teaching of the New Testament, are we to deprive the Jews of the right to teach the tenets of their own faith? If we tax and rate a Roman Catholic for what most of them regard as a moral monster, undenominational teaching, are we to deprive the Roman Catholic of his right to teach his faith in schools? I made a speech in this House in 1897, in which I said, and I was only echoing the words of Mr. Forster, that every school must comply with the requirements of the Education Department, and, subject to the Conscience Clause, had the right of demanding full aid from the taxes, the rates, or the public. This measure is Mr. Forster's Memorandum brought up to date, with the grievances of Gentlemen opposite removed to the best of our ability. We must all agree that one-man control has gone for ever, and I for one am not sorry.
There is a curious historical parallel, which I might touch upon before I sit down, between this Bill and the Bill of 984 1870. The same arguments, the same literature, the same meetings, the same banners, the same leagues, and the same men, have opposed this measure, as opposed Mr. Forster's Bill. In my own constituency Mr. Alfred Illingworth was one of the first men in Bradford who opposed the Bill of Mr. Forster. Mr. Alfred Illingworth has been the chief opponent of this Bill today. Mr. Alfred Illingworth founded in 1896 the Northern Counties Education League, which has taken the place of the well known Birmingham League of 1870, and he invited Mr. Hirst Hollowell to take the place of Mr. Miall. When the Bill of 1870 was made and Act, Mr. Forster was treated by his constituents to a vote of censure, and he told them they would live to thank him for his Act. North Leeds has passed a vote of censure on the Government, and on that analogy North Leeds will live to thank the Government. If that is considered doubtful in my own constituency—I do not speak for Bradford as a whole—in the recent municipal elections three seats out of four were won by supporters of this measure. One seat was lost by a reduced majority. The next seat was fought by a Wesleyan supporter of the Bill. That was won against a loss last year. We won another seat lost last year, and we won a third which we had not won before in my time. Mr. Forster, in his wisdom and in his courage, brought into existence the Bill of 1870. In their courage and wisdom, the Prime Minister and the Duke of Devonshire have brought in this Bill, and we thank them for it. Mr. Forster went through a fire of affiction which shortened his days. He was subjected to a most relentless opposition amounting to persecution. The Prime Minister and the Duke of Devonshire knew what they have to face, and I say they deliberately faced that opposition which they knew would arise in connection with these proposals. They were wise and courageous, and we thank them for carrying Mr. Forster's system into a great scheme of national education. One section of Gentlemen opposite advocate a purely secular system of education, another section advocate an undenominational form in national schools, and all sections are agreed that they would do their best to repeal this Bill. We on the Government side claim that we have been 985 the pioneers in the cause of education, and we have always been in the past. Will hon. Gentlemen opposite question the fact that the Church of England rejected anything that might be called a national system, or deny that the great Liberal Unionist, Mr. Forster, took the great step, or that we on the Government side have been pioneers in the cause of education? We believe with the late Dr. Dale that undenominational teaching is positively dangerous. We believe that education, unless based on definite religions teaching, to use Dr. Dale's words, is dangerous and mischievous. We hold that belief, and no these issues we are prepared to join and to fight to the last.
§ (6.15.) SIR THOMAS ESMONDE () Wexford. N.
I am asked by some of my old constituents to vote for this Bill, and therefore I may perhaps be excused if I say a few words upon it. I approach this matter from a different standpoint from those who have addressed themselves to the debate, in so far that I approach it from the point of view of the way in which it concerns the Roman Catholics of this country. I do not pretend to be an authority upon English educational matters, but it does seem to me that this Bill does not confer upon the Roman Catholic schools of this country benefits which it might confer without in any way trenching on the principle of the Bill or interfering with the advantages which the Opposition have galned in the course of these debates. Having said so much, the House, I am sure, will allow me to deal with one or two points that occur to me in connection with this Bill, in so far as it relates to the Roman Catholic schools in this country. Under the Bill as it now stands I take objection to the circumstance that the power of appeal by the managers of Roman Catholic schools from the decisions of the local authority to the Board of Education is very seriously diminished, if not taken away altogether. That may or may not be an important matter, but it is conceivable that it may be a very important matter, and injustice may be done to these schools. I hope, therefore, in another place to which this Bill will shortly go, it may be possible to widen the operation of the power of the managers of those Roman Catholic Schools. I think it is 986 Clause 5 which provides for the management of the schools. Under that Clause Roman Catholic schools may be compelled to use text books opposed, or at least, hostile to their religion, and in view of that the House will realise that there is something in my contention that Roman Catholic managers should have some wider power with regard to the books to be used in the schools. I do not ask that they should be allowed in any way to use inferior books, or that a lower grade of education should be admitted in those schools than is permitted in others, but I ask that they should not be compelled to use text books to which they conscientiously object. In this matter of the selection of text books the Roman Catholic managers ought to have an appeal to the Board of Education. At all events I, think the Government should not allow the existing text books to be taken away unless some very serious reason in shown for it.
I think also that under this Bill the financial position of the Roman Catholic schools generally is not so good as it might have been made. This Bill imposes upon the Roman Catholic managing body the whole cost of school repairs. In former years the Roman Catholic bodies were enabled to charge the cost to the school account, and to make a charge for rent in respect of their schools, and they were reimbursed that expense out of the grant by the Government. Under this Bill as it now stands these schools are no longer in a position to do this, and I hope the Government will reconsider their financial position. The Roman Catholics represent the poorest part of the community, and the voluntary tax upon them for the support of their schools has been far more heavy upon them than upon any other section, and in view of the fact that they are a poor and small section of the community, I hope the House will deal with this question in a large-minded and generous manner, and show more consideration than has been accorded to them. They have, I think, a good claim, because they have made enormous sacrifices to teach their religion in their own way. With regard to Section 3 of Clause 7, I think that may prove extremely dangerous, so far as 987 Roman Catholics are concerned, as it might be used to make the position of these schools intolerable by the placing of a Protestant pupil teacher in a Roman Catholic school. In such schools there would be strong objection to the appointment of a pupil teacher who was not a member of the Roman Catholic religion: and, in my opinion, this Section might lead to considerable inconvenience, which I should be desirous myself to obviate.
Sub-Section 4 — the Kenyon-Slaney Clause—which raised so much discussion, requires a certain amount of explanation, and we Roman Catholics can only appreciate what it means when we see that we shall managers in our schools who do not belong to the Roman Catholic community. We should much object to anything of that kind, and protest in the strongest possible manner; and, inasmuch as the managers would control religious education in the schools, it would be a most extraordinary position to have a Protestant manager in a Roman Catholic school. I do not know whether this can be remedied, but it is a very serious matter. I do not think you would ever get Roman Catholics to agree to a thing of this kind. What I would suggest to the Government is that another Section should be added to this Clause, to the effect that Sections 3 and 4, Clause 7, should not apply to the Roman Catholic rellgion. That would be the best way out of the difficulty, so far as the Roman Catholic schools are concerned. I press this upon the Government because of the extremely important matters which these Sections raise. There are other matters in this Bill which are not satisfactory, which will no doubt be opposed by the Roman Catholics of Great Britain, but I hope these points to which I have called attention, when they do come before the Government in another place, will receive favourable consideration. The two points I have raised seem to me to be points of very great importance, and I venture to press them on the Government. In conclusion, I can only say I was asked to support this Bill, and I do so, because it was conceived to be to the benefit of the Roman Catholics in this country.
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY (Devonshire,) Honiton
I do not know what to 988 admire most—the courage of the Government in admitting their misfortune in having to deal with it, or the way in which they have dealt with this question of education, which has absorbed so much of their time. It is a question which arouses such very strong feeling and contains so much contentious matter that I should not have been surprised if the Government had left it alone. I remember the contest waged in 1870, and the way in which Mr. Forster promoted the interests of the children and secured for them the benefits of education. I remember also the Bill of 1896, and the number of Amendments which were put down at the time the Government decided to withdraw it. I remember the vehement opposition offered in 1897 to the attempt to do some justice to the voluntary schools, to enable them to hold their own against the fierce competition which they had to face. And remembering all these things, I doubted whether the Government would have undertaken this Bill. I felt it needed a Forster's courage to face the question, but I confess I did not know the Prime Minister then as I Know him now. By his grasp and knowledge of the question, and his readiness to consider all points urged upon him, from whatever side they came, and his determination also to carry the measure upon the lines upon which he first introduced it, the Prime Minister has merited the thanks of all.
The right hon. Gentleman has kept to the front three points which were the main features of the Bill when it went into Committee, and which are its main features now—namely, the harmonising and improving of education by bringing schools hitherto deficient up to the requisite standard of efficiency; the placing of secular education throughout the country under popular control; and the preservation of the denominational character of schools hitherto called voluntary. As to the first two points I need not say much; they have been urged with great ability on either side, but I think the combining of the spending authority with the rating authority and centralising in that body all the best functions of muncipal life is an ideal worthy of being aimed at, and one that will not prove itself impossible of accomplishment, especially when there is to be 989 called to the aid of these educational committees experts from outside, who will add great strength to these counties. Dignity and independence ought to be added to municipal life by the new duties cast upon the municipal bodies. No doubt the question of whether the areas are too large will have to be considered, and there are many things that remain doubtful; but the scheme of the Bill is an ideal worthy of begin aimed at. As to the question of putting the schools largely under popular control, there has been expressed tonight the greatest difference of opinion as to the efficacy of that. It is admitted that in regard to the teachers the educational authority can veto an unsatisfactory appointment, secure the dismissal of a teacher who is not up to the mark in educational matters, and have the power of the purse to withhold all grants of money, and the power to compel by mandamus, and by appointing two of their own body on the management, to see that their orders are effectually carried out.
It is upon the third point, the reserving of the denominational character of the schools, that the chief controversy has centred. Other points of difference might have been agreed upon, but the differences here appear to me to be irreconcilable. The Prime Minister in introducing the Bill was not prepared, as some on the other side of the House would have liked to see him, to confiscate the schools or to buy them—in fact they have never been for sale. The right hon. Gentleman recognised that in any scheme these schools must be placed in a position worthily to play a necessary and inevitable part in the scheme of national education. This came as a most bitter surprise to hon. Gentlemen opposite, who had begun to hope for the extinction of the voluntary schools. Immense surprise has been felt at the way in which those schools have multiplied since the board schools were established. Some paralled in the matter is to be found in what happended in Egypt a few years ago. Egypt had been in a state of anarchy and bankruptcy, and no one would put it to rights jointly with England. England, therefore, had to step in and do the thing herself. No sooner was England securely established there, than the greatest jealousy was excited; those who had refused to under- 990 take the responsibility now wanted to share it with England, and asked to be admitted to partnership, and it seemed for a time that we should be obliged to give way in that direction. This appears to be very analogous to what happened when the Church stepped in and created the voluntary schools, doing what no one else would do—with the exception of the British schools and a few Roman Catholic schools. The Church stepped in; practically covering the land with voluntary schools, and thereby brought upon herself a reward of honour which had and always would inure to her. Those who might have done the same have been ever since anxious to get rid of or to supplant the denominational system by schools provided out of the rates. But we hope that by this Bill the position which the voluntary schools rightly hold will be maintained.
The tremendous opposition against the Bill has, I am afraid, been stimulated by statements of the wildest character, and some of absolute inaccuracy. The fears of Nonconformists have been appealed to. A letter in The Times newspaper to-day quotes from the quarterly paper of the Primitive Methodists, in which their people are advised "to do your best to kill the Bill, for the Bill is meant to kill us." To think that anyone would be insane enough to introduce a Bill intended to kill Nonconformity! Nonconformity has stood for a great many years, and I hope it will continue to stand and bring out its sturdy Protestant qualities for a great many years more. But for governing bodies to appeal in this way to the fears of their people seems unworthy of the great traditions of Nonconformity. Appeals have also been made to cupidity. The most barefaced statements have been made that the Bill is to endow the Church and put large sums of money into her pocket. I believe the Church will have a very hard bargain, and that nothing but the greatest sacrifice on the part of her supporters and adherents will suffice to enable the voluntary schools to be carried on in view of the demands likely to be made upon them by the local authority. Then appeals have been made to Protestantism. In the same manifesto to which I have already alluded, the Bill is spoken of as "a determined attempt to capture the children for the priests." The hon. Member 991 for the South Division of Lincolnshire has put his name to a letter, in which, after quoting manuals which are practically Romish and go against the sentiments of every true Member of the Church of England, he says that—At least three-fourths of the clergy profess the doctrines and practise the ritual enjoined in these repulsive priestly manuals.On behalf of the Church of England, I heartily contradict any such statement. There are a few, I am sorry to say, who so disgrace their cloth; but to say that three-fourths of the clergy profess these doctrines and practise this ritual is a gross exaggeration.
Again, it was said, even by the hon. Member for the Launceston Division, that the children of Nonconformists were being handed over to new ecclesiastical rulers It seems to me that the man who made such a statement must have been in a balloon. The children have been under these rulers and under one-man management for a great many years, and yet how very few instances of hardship and objectionable practices have been brought to light! There have been one or two cases, and they have been made to do duty again and again, but under these new local managers such cases will be impossible in the future. It has been a bitter experience to me to find myself, on this occasion, opposed to men with whom on so many points I am in full sympathy. We have many evils outside to fight, and great enemies to resist; in this battle I should like to join my hon. friends opposite, and it is therefore most painful to find myself now in direct conflict with them. But when we are asked to come to terms, as we were by the hon. Member for the Cleveland Division, it seems to me that we are invited to give up everything for which we have hitherto contended. We are to be allowed to retain our schools on condition that they become undenominational, and we are asked to assent to a national undenominational system. An undenominational system in which all Christians agree is in theory most delightful, and in practice it might be often excellent. It may be said that stubborn vitality of the Church of England schools has had great effect on the advance and maintenance of a high standard of religious teaching in Board Schools; why can we not accept this undenominational teaching? Secular teaching has been carried 992 on in Board Schools, and we have had to pay for it. But when it was a question of the Church of England teaching her form of religion, it has been forbidden. The reason we cannot accept undenominational teaching is that there is about it an uncertainty and a tendency towards indifferentism. We did accept it when introduced as a supplement to another system, but when it is to be made universal and imposed without limitation, carrying with it the prohibition of distinctive teaching, we say once and for all that we cannot for a moment accept an undenominational system. Its teaching is positive; it says things are to be omitted; creeds, sacraments, and catechisms are to be of no account. We beleve that undenominational teaching means purely secular teaching, and, therefore, we must resist it. We sometimes hear views of undenominational teaching which sound as though we might almost accept it, but we are indebted to the Leader of the Opposistion for a description which shows the real attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and which I will venture to read. Speaking at the Alexandra Palace recently, the right hon. Gentleman said:—We would confine ourselves, as nine-tenths of the Liberals would confine themselves, to secular education. plus such moral teaching as would be common to all, and not obnoxious to people who do not come within the rauge of Christianity.That is to say, teaching that might be taught to Brahmans, Mohammedans, and I suppose, even in the Gordon College at Khartoum. That is what we say undenominational teaching is bound to come to, and that is why we resist it. We believe that secular teaching to which undenominational teaching would come would be a disaster to this country more serious than a defeat of our fleets and armies, and would degrade this country from its high position as a Christian State. Therefore we stand to our guns and support this Bill, because it gives denominational teaching a place in the national system which we hope it will long retain.
This Bill has received practically the unanimous support of the Teachers' Convention at Bristol, and therefore it cannot be so absolutely unworkable as has been made out in certain quarters. This Bill offers to the working classes advantages under the co-ordinated 993 system which they have never enjoyed before, and it gives the greatest liberty to Municipal and County Councils to spend what they like on either elementary education, evening classes, or technical education. Therefore this Act constitutes a boon to the working classes which they have never yet had the chance of before, and that, when they realise and appreciate, they will cease to be opponents of this Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition secures the rejection of this Bill, what does he offer us in its place? Suppose this Bill is thrown out, will you get an Education Bill with like advantages introduced within the next twenty years? We have no guidance whatever as to the character that such a Bill would assume, and therefore it is either this Bill or nothing. There is no alternative to this Bill offered by the Opposition, and I trust that now that we are bringing these discussions to a close we shall forget the hard words said about it, and do our best to make it a boon and a blessing to the country.
*(6.50.) MR. EMMOTT () Oldham
We have come almost to the end of a long and memorable Parliamentary struggle, and before proceeding to speak of the reasons which induce me to support the Amendment so ably moved by my right hon. friend, perhaps I may be allowed to say one or two words, which shall not be words of provocation, on the prolonged debates of which the Committee stage of this Bill has been the scene. In the first place I should like to be allowed as a political opponent to congratulate the Prime Minister on the extraordinary patience which marked his conduct of the earlier stages of the Bill, and the skill, ability, and resource which has marked his share all through the discussions in Committee. Without him this Bill would have had no chance. The Bill itself added to his difficulties enormously. The Bill was a bad Bill, as a Bill. apart from the intrinsic merits, or demerits, of its main provisions. It did not enact what the Government though it enacted; it was not clear in its provisions. Some of its financial and other provisions were so unfair that the Government altered them as soon as they were pointed out. To complain of waste of time. or, of what 994 The Times, with its usual good taste to wards political opponents, calls anarchical chatter, and to speak of the time occupied as showing a break-down of the Parliamentary system is mere nonsense.
The Bill was said to be drawn by experts. Where are the experts now? If I were asked for a single proof of Parliamentary efficency, I should find it in the fact that a few Government supporters, some thirty or forty Liberal Members, were sufficient to absolutely transform and remodel all the most important Clauses, except Closure ones, and finally make a possible final Bill out of an utterly impossible orginal. The right hon. Gentleman has failed to meet our main objections, and therefore we must oppose the Bill in the final stage; but in regard to those alterations of the machinery of this originally imperfect and defective Bill, he has shown a quickness of perception and a comprehensive grasp of detail which has distinctly raised even the high opinion which Members on both sides already held of his great Parliamentary abilities.
I wish the patience had held out to the end. I wish we could have exhaustively discussed the later as we discussed the earlier Clauses of this Bill. It would have been better for the Bill. And that brings me to my second point, and it is this. This Bill has aroused strong antagonism here. If the Opposition had wanted to make sure of the failure of this Bill, they would have confined themselves to wrecking Amendments. They have done nothing of the kind. Where they could not get concessions on the points to which they most object, they have devoted themselves with perfect bound fides, and in an eminently businesslike spirit to improving the machinery of the Bill, to many of whose provisions they are strongly opposed. So eager have they been in this unwelcome task, that I have sometimes wondered whether such hon friends of mine as the Members for Carnarvon Boroughs and MidGlamorganshire have not begun to develop a sneaking and surreptitious regard for a bantling which was none of thier producing. yet which they have borne a conspicuous part in knocking into shape. At any rate, no personal ill-feeling 995 has been produced in this House. I would even go further, and venture to express a hope that some of the threats of permanent ill-feeling and of reprisals in the country made by strong partisans on both sides may be exaggerated. Churchmen objecting to the Kenyon-Slaney sub-Section have threatened to give up their schools. It must be obvious they only play the game of their opponents if they do such a thing. On the other hand, Nonconformists may refuse to payrates. I desire to compel the individual conscience of no man. But as a matter of tactics, surely if this great Parliamentary struggle means anything, it means that the Liberal Party will amend this Bill when they get a chance. What possible good can it do them if those most in favour of its amendment have sacrificed their rights of citizenship in the meantime by refusing to pay rates?
Now let me turn to the Bill. I am going to say all I can in favour of the Bill because I am not one of those who believe the Bill was "conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity." I am quite willing to believe, and have always believed, it was an honest attempt, so far as the Government was concerned, to make a national system of education. I think it fails; but of that more anon. I am only dealing with the intention. This Bill does at a bound what ought to be done by degrees. It destroys excellent and successful institutions with thirty years experience and thirty years record of useful work, and it puts in their place new and comparatively untried bodies. It is a revolution without any excuse for revolution, and it is an example rather of irresponsible Radicalism than of Conservative statesmanship. But when all that is said, if you grant we must have one authority for education (I do not grant it as a present necessity), but probably a majority do, I prefer the municipal authority. So, on the main principle of municipalisation, I am not opposed to the Bill. I admit to the full the necessity of dealing woth secondary education. I am not opposed to the plan of the Bill. It is true the plan has been improved. The meagre skelton of that part of the Bill dealing with secondary education has been clothed with flesh and blood, and galvanished into life. It is still inadequate. But I have no quarrel with the principle of dealing with secondary education in the Bill; here it is constructive, and I should be 996 very soory if any delay occurred in setting up a local authority to deal with it Finnaly, I must admit that the Bill has been enormously improved in Committee. I do not forget certain new alterations put in, after Clousre by compartments, was carried, which are a very sad example of the narrow and huckerstering spirit which certain so-called friends of the church bring into their considerations of questions of national education. I wonder who these faithful but mistaken friends are? Whoever they are, they are the sorriest friends the Church has had for many a long day. But this is by way of parenthesis. My main point is that in spite of these Clauses, clandestinely smuggled into the Bill at the end, the Bill has been greatly improved in Committee. And so we have the Bill enormously altered, and on the whole altered for the better.
I may be asked, why do we now oppose the Bill. My answer, shortly, is this . I would vote for the Third Reading if School Boards were retained in large towns, if the provisions as regards management were fair to the public, if Nonconformists were fairly treated as regards teachers, and the Bill were made workable. The Bill destroys what is good, viz., School Boards in large towns. It is needlessly destructive, for they might have been preserved; but they could not have been usefully maintained under the ridiculous Option Clause of the orginal Bill. That Clause, the offspring of some tortuous mind, made it possible to maintain School Boards, but enacated that if they were maintained no aid from the rates could be given to voluntary schools. I voted against, and would again vote against, so cruel an option as that. But the Government could, if it had desired, have retained the School Boards. This Bill puts on the new local authority the duty of at once taking over the control of both elementary and secondary educaion. Now, it is our secondary and higher technical education in which we compare so unfavourably with other countries. Our elementary education could have waited. You have gone far to prevent due attention being paid to the more important secondary education by coupling with it elementary education in our larger counties and boroughs. And all this is being handed over to new and comparatively untried bodies. We are told 997 that the Technical Instruction Committees have done good work. I gladly acknowledge it; but do let us be frank. It is the fashion to say that these Committees have done everything well. They have had little to do and no enemies, for the whisky money they spent came from the taxes. They now will have to deal with secondary education in a comprehensive spirit and at the same time perform the multifarious duties of School Boards and control the secular education of voluntary schools.
I know the official excuse, You must have one authority in order to have co-ordination and correlation. The Cockerton judgment made it necessary. To that I reply that the Cockerton judgment drew a line between elementary and secondary education for the first time and in itself made separate working possible. Further, the cry of "one authority" is a new cry. You did not bring in such a Bill last year, and we never heard a word of "one authority" at the General Election. True statesmanship would have gone slowly—step by step—making sure of the ground—as you proposed last year. I cannot believe that this revolutionary educational leap in the dark is a safe solution of this question.
I shall not discuss at length with, though I must mention, the chief reasons of our opposing the absolute unfairness of the proportion of management given to denominational schools and the consequent unfairness of the position in which Nonconformists who wish to become teachers are placed. The Church gets three-quarters or four-fifths of the head-teachers. It is apologised for in this way. It is said to be the only plan to keep denominational teaching. Well, I dispute that. There are other ways. I content myself by remarking that as one purpose of denominational religious teaching as of undenominational religious teaching, is to inculcate principles of justice and rignt and fair-play, it is a wrong thing, and an unwise thing, to attempt to preserve denominational teaching by methods which are obviously and admittedly unfair to half the people of England.
One thing these debates have done. They have helped us to clarify our minds, and they have knocked some 998 venerable fictions on the head. The whole claim for denominational education rested in the past on the in-alienable right of the parent. Who hears of the inalienable right of the parent now? We implored you to give the parent a deciding voice in the choice of managers. You refused, so that venerable fiction is at last exploded. What then is this inalienable right now? It turns out to be the inalienable right of the Church to educate in denominational doctrine on week days, and at the public expense, the children of parents too lazy to teach religion themselves, or too indifferent to send them to church and Sunday school. In order to do this effectually it is to provide one-twelfth or less of money and to have two-thirds of management. I am willing to leave the fairness of that arrangement to the decision of the English people. They respect the parent, and they respect the Church when she confines herself to her proper sphere; but when they find the claim of the Church extending, as it does in single-school districts, to the inalienable right to teach Nonconformist and Roman Catholics Church doctrine at the public expense, and the inalienable right to have denominational headteachers in two-thirds of the schools of the country, they cannot fail to see that the position is fundamentally unfair, and what is fundamentally unfair cannot last in this country.
I come now to the last objection I wish to offer. Granted that the Government are right and that we are wrong in regard to this question of denominational schools, will the Bill which we have elaborated so carefully in the Committee stage probably work smoothly, as the Government say, or will it break down in working, as many of us on this side believe? I heard the Parliamentary Secretary the other day use phrase with regard to the new provisions in relation to these schools. He spoke of "dual ownership." Well, that is to me an ominous phrase. I cannot remember any dual ownership that has been successful. It has been tried with regard to land in Ireland, and both landlords and tenants are heartily sick of the plan. Remember the Bill starts badly. Many Councils have declared their intention of refusing to carry out the Bill. I 999 hope they will not do anything of the kind. Other Councils have objected to a majority of the voluntary school managers being of a denominational character. Some Nonconformists have threatended not to pay their rates. Remember that these local authorities you are appointing are, as County Councils and Town Councils, accustomed to have absolute control of those matters of local Government placed under their charge. They have not been accustomed to be tied by red tape—well, I will not use that phrase which may be regarded as objectionable—but they have not been accustomed to the Education Department in connection with the matters with which they have to deal, nor have they been like Guardians of the Poor, subject to the superintedence of the Local Government Board. They have hitherto been accustomed, in dealing with thier own affairs, to absolute control, but they will now find themselves in a new posistion, with any number of possible causes of friction arising between them and the managers of voluantary schools. I will only enumerate some of these cases. In regard to economy, the local authority in counties will have one representative on boards of management in favour of economy, against five whose interest it will be to get all they can. In most schools no trouble will arise with respect to teachers, but it will be inevitable in some. There are questions of alterations and improvements; damage to furniture out of school hours; the share of fees and endowments; the different views on new schools, and the delimitation of religious and secular education. In all these matters there will be appeals to the Board of Education, and consequent delay, irritation, and ill-feeling. In the end, I believe the meantime you run risk of denominational teaching perishing altogether in the conflicts that must arise. Time only can show, and at any rate we are free from responsibility.
The noble Lord the Member for Greenwhich, in his speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, made a powerful and elequenttions, whether Churchmen, Roman Catholics, or Nonconformists, to unite 1000 in one supreme effort to stem the tide of materialism which was sweeping over the land. I cannot but sympathise with that appeal. I feel as strongly as the noble Lord does that there are many tendencies of the present age which are not only mundane and secular, but entirely forgetful of the higher and nobler ideals of existence. One sees it in the race for wealth, in the pursuit of pleasure as the main end of life, and in the recklessness and frivolity of some classes of society. Whence come these tendencies? Do they come from a proletariat fed on Cowper-Temple teaching, and would they have been restrained by denominational Christianity? No. They come from the higher classes, and they are only gradually permeating the lower. They arise from the fact that money today, mere money, can buy place and power and title, the favour of the great and the friendship of the powerful, to an extent that it never could before. They arise from the false conception that happiness in this world can only be obtained by an endless round of gaiety and excitement. This is a movement which, beginning in the higher classes, is permeating the middle classes, and going down to the lower classes. One conspicious fruit is seen in the secularisation of the Sabbath, and in the fact not that our poor children do not repeat the Creed on week days, but that the upper classes have almost ceased on even one day out of seven to turn their thoughts to higher and holier things. When I am asked to believe that this tendency, which I deplore and for which the upper classes of society are responsible, is going to be stopped by teaching the children of the lower classes creeds and catechisms instead of the simpler hymns and prayers and Bible teaching of the Cowper-Temple Clause, I must veil the rudeness of my reply by cloaking it in an ancient language, and answer,Credat Judceus Apella. That is my frank opinion on the deeper aspects of this question. But though I prefer good. Cowper-Temple teaching myself , I desire to preserve denominational teaching myself, I desire to preserve denominational teaching on lines which are fair to all. This Bill, while it mitigates one-man rule in our public elementary schools retains denominational management and favours denominational teachers by methods 1001 which are unfair and therefore cannot and must not last. I do not say there is no good in this Bill. On the contrary there is much that is useful. But I do say that in these vital matters on which I have touched it violtaes the eternal principles of justice, and therefore, I for one must vote aganist the Third Reading.
§ (7.20) MR. ABEL SMITH () Hertfordshire, Hertford
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman opposite cannot see his way to support the Bill. The hon. Member said that he and other members of the Opposition did not wish to wreck the Bill or to make the working of it impossible. With respect to those who have expressed other views, I am sure we all hope that when the Bill comes into operation good counsels will prevail throughout the country. As one who has not always found himself able to agree with the Government as to some of the details of the Bill, I cordially support the Third Reading, because I am throughly in favour of the principle of the Bill. The Bill proposes to place the educational system in each district under the control of one authority. The county and borough councils which will in future have charge of our education are popularly elected bodies, and therefore the control of the people or the therefore the control of the people or the ratepayers over education will be theoretically complete. But it may be said that these bodies have not been elected for the particilar purpose of education. Are we, I should like to ask, to have a seperate local authority for every public function? It appears to me to be contrary to all our ideas or representative Governement. It is not necessary to have one House of Commons for the consideration of financial questions, another for the consideration of Imperial questions, and another for the consideration of our home or social questions, but we have one body of Members sent here by the constituencies throughout the country to deal with all those questions, and in the same way our local authoroties have many important functions to perform. I do not see on what may be called constitutional grounds why the question of educationa should not be entrusted to them. I think that in entrusting education to the local authorities there is one great advantage. The members of the new bodies will 1002 know the educational needs of the different districts. They will know what the local industries are and what the requirements of the children are in each separate locality. That is the main principle of the Bill on account of which I feel that I can give it my cordial support.
If I may say so, I think my right hon. friend the President of the Local Government Board dealt in a peculiarly happy way with the speech made this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition. In dealing with this question the Prime Minister had to deal with the existing circumstances which he finds with regard to education. A large majority of the children throughout the country are being educated at the present moment in voluntary schools belonging to trustees, on behalf of some religious denomination or other, or else in schools which are the private property of landowners, or, in some cases. large employers of labour. The Act of 1870 allowed those voluntary schools to remain, and I venture to say that the Government have adopted a wise policy in allowing them to remain under this Bill. There is only one alternative, and I listened with great attention to the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposistion to hear what alternative policy he was going to put before the country. I noticed that his expressions with regard to this matter were of extremely mild and moderate terms. He spoke in a comprative sense. He said more popular control ought to be given over the voluntary schools, and that this Bill did not give sufficient control. Either you must adopt some such scheme as that contained in this Bill, or sweep away all the voluntary schools belonging to the different denominations throughout the country. There is no middle course to pursue, and I am anxious to hear whether the Leader of the Opposition and his friends in this House are prepared to adopt that policy. I should have vey little anxiety or doubt as to what the answer of the electors throughout the country would br if these two alternatives were placed clearly before them. Under this Bill the control of the local authority over secular education will be absolute. The managers are to carry out the instructions of the local authority and they will, as regards secular education, be their agents, and therefore, in my opinion, there is no possible objection to the aid to be given from the rates for 1003 the voluntary schools. I must say for myself that, as a Churchman, I should not have been afraid to give greater public representation on the boards of managers, and especially to give representation to the parents, but I do recognise that if the denominational character of the school is to be maintained it may be necessary that the number of foundation managers should be as proposed. I would point out that it will be open to the trustees to elect a representative of the parents to be a foundation trustee if they think fit. I regret, I need hardly say, that greater burdens are to be put upon the shoulders of the ratepayers, but I would remind those who are specially careful about the intrests of the ratepayers that the Government have given a very generous grant for their relief. I hope the time is not far distant when education will be regarded still more as a national service paid for out of national funds. Of course, it was utterly impossible for the Government to deal with all those great and important questions at the same time, but I hope the time is not far distant when they will see their way to deal with the whole question of local taxation of which this will be an important part.
It being half-past Seven of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned until this evening.