§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ (2.55.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S)
I rise to discharge an unwelcome task. For many years past all the friends of education have recognised the great need there was of improving the elementary instruction in our schools, and of providing the secondary instruction which is now so largely wanted. On this side, I can say with confidence, there has been, and there is, a universal and hearty wish to re-organise the schools, and to spend more money upon them, if we are sure that that money will be usefully spent. The object is one on which there exists so much agreement that, if the Government had omitted from this measure one element 639 of political, or rather of ecclesiastical, controversy, I believe it might have been attained. But the Bill before us not only introduces that controversial element, but contains so many provisions which are objectionable on other grounds, that I cannot regard it as even an instalment of reform. If the faults of the Bill were confined to one or two points, it might be possible for us to reserve our opposition for the Committee stage, or we might, instead of moving the rejection of the Bill, have moved an Amendment to the Second Reading which would have confined attention and debate to those few points, omitting others as of less consequence. But the faults of the Bill are numerous, they lie in the essence of the Bill, and we have little hope that they are faults which the Government will consent to remove. When we look to the previous Bills which the Government have produced since 1895, I confess this seems to be by far the most re-actionary of them; and when we watch the whole course of their educational policy, as it has been seen in their modifications of the Code, and in their constant efforts to secure preferential benefits for voluntary schools, I can only come to the conclusion that the very features in this Bill which we deem the worst are the features to which the Government attach most importance. Therefore, I can entertain very little hope that the Government will be disposed to alter them.
That being so there is no course open to us except to oppose the Bill as a whole. In doing so I shall for myself endeavour to avoid anything that can introduce elements of irritation, and I shall dwell more largely on the educational than on the ecclesiastical defects of the measure. I must ask the indulgence of the House in respect of the extreme dryness and technicality of this subject, for our legislation has made education, although it is one of the most important, one of the most unattractive subjects which can engage the attention of Parliament. It is possible that I may sometimes mistake the meaning of the Bill, because it is in many places obscure, and in some others even self-contradictory. It was introduced by the First Lord of the 640 Treasury with three recommendations; it was recommended as constituting one authority for all kinds of education, as securing educational improvement, and as effecting a final settlement of a highly controversial question. I propose to examine it in those three aspects.
There is in the expression "one authority" something that is attractive prima facie; a single authority for all kinds of education naturally appears to be a right method. If we were beginning to create a system de novo, we should certainly create a single authority; we have one, and are glad to have one, in Scotland. But this phrase, "one authority," has become a sort of catchword, and it is used in a very different sense by different sets of persons. It has been commonly used, certainly on this side of the House, to describe what is called an ad hoc authority; and, like so many catchwords, it saves people the trouble of thinking and of examining in each case what it actually covers. I want to make a few remarks on this phrase, "one authority." In the first place, you may buy your one authority, as you are going to buy it here, by the extinction of bodies which have been at work for thirty years, and which, by universal agreement and the admission of Ministers themselves, have done admirable work for the education of the country. With the extinction of the School Boards there goes the extinction of the right of women to sit as elected representatives. The School Boards have been the most active and potent force that we have-had in our education since 1870. They are accused of having trespassed on the field of secondary education; but why did they do so? It was because there was a void which no one else appeared to fill. They did it with the approval of successive Education Ministers, and they have done it to the enormous benefit of the masses of the people.
I have a second observation to make on the single authority. You may overload your single authority. School Board work in our large boroughs is work which is fully sufficient to employ all the spare time of the unpaid citizen who gives himself to it. So also is the work of the Borough Councils, and, as anybody knows, it is found already to be so heavy that 641 it is difficult to induce the leading men in many of our towns to undertake the post, important as it is, of a town councillor. Now, what you propose by this Bill is to throw work which is sufficient for two bodies entirely on one body. You propose to ask one man, as a member of a Borough Council, to undertake the work which two men, a member of the Borough Council and a member of the School Board, have not found themselves hitherto more than able to discharge. I personally have no prejudice or predilection whatever either for Borough Councils or School Boards. I put this to the House simply as a matter of the practical result of overloading the authority so that it will not be able to overtake its functions.
Thirdly, elementary education and secondary education raise different problems and require different areas. A large borough or any borough is a very good area for elementary education, and a county is a very good area for secondary education; but a small borough is an area unfit for secondary education. The number of young people is not sufficient to enable secondary education to be adequately organised; and similarly the county council is a bad authority for elementary education, because the schools are too numerous, too scattered, and too distant from the central country seat. What you want for elementary education is an area more nearly resembling that of a rural district. Therefore, this "one authority" for elementary education is an unsatisfactory authority as regards the rural areas; and I cannot look upon this as an adequate proposal, since it breaks down in one of the most critical cases and one in which the need of doing something to improve education in the rural areas is great.
Lastly, the only real and practical evil which now arises from the absence of a single authority for public education is that which arises on what I may call the borderland of public elementary and secondary schools. It arises in regard to the higher grade, the evening and continuation schools, the organised science schools, and all that class of instruction known as technical education. In those schools there is no doubt a need for co-relation 642 of that which is under the elementary and that which is under the secondary authorities. But there was a perfectly simple plan proposed for effecting that co-relation without the revolutionary scheme which is now brought before us by the Government. That plan was proposed in the Report of the Secondary Education Commission seven years ago—a unanimous Report, which was signed by persons so different in their political and educational views as my right hon. friend opposite, the Member for Cambridge University, the Member for East Somerset, and my hon. friends on this side, the Members for Wansbeck and Nottingham. That would have met all the needs of the case, and would not have required the enormous changes which we are now asked to accept.
As I have mentioned the Secondary Education Commission, may I undertake one word of personal explanation? I adhere myself, and I am sure my hon. friends on this side adhere for themselves, to every recommendation contained in the Report of that Commission. But I entirely deny that that Report can in any way be brought to support the Bill of the Government. That Report was addressed solely and entirely to secondary education. Elementary education was not within the reference to the Commission, and whenever they approached this subject of elementary education they declined to express an opinion upon it. Therefore, there is nothing whatever in that Report which is entitled to be quoted in support of any of the proposals which are made in this Bill, so far as they relate to elementary education. For the reasons that I have endeavoured to give to the House, I think that any such benefits as the constitution by this Bill of a single authority purports to give are outweighed, and more than outweighed, by the corresponding disadvantages of the scheme.
Now let me come to close quarters with the provisions of the Bill. Does it give us that single authority which is claimed as its conspicuous merit? I am going to take three cases. The first is that of a county. There, there is one authority—the administrative county. The area is one suitable for secondary education, 643 but unsuitable for elementary education. My second case is the case of a large borough. That, again, is an area which is suitable both for elementary and secondary education. Therefore. I think the arrangement is satisfactory. But what is the third case? It is that of the small boroughs which have a population exceeding 10,000, and the urban districts which have a population exceeding 20,000. Why this difference should be drawn is one of the inscrutable mysteries of the Bill. In these small boroughs and urban districts the local council is the authority for elementary education, but it is not the authority for secondary education. The authority for secondary education is the County Council with its Committee. And I ought to say that these small boroughs and urban districts represent to the best of my recollection a population exceeding 5,000,000—no small part of the whole population of this country. Therefore, in all these small boroughs and urban districts you are so far from having this single authority that you put elementary education under one authority sitting on the spot, and secondary education under another which sits far away in the town where the County Council meets. That is a very serious practical evil, because recent decisions have removed the higher grade schools, evening schools, continuation schools, and all education given to children above the age of fifteen, from the sphere of elementary to the sphere of secondary education.
Just see what that involves. The education which is transferred to the secondary sphere has, to a large extent, been given in the same school premises, on the same school subjects, and by the same teachers as those who teach in the elementary day schools. But now it is to be put under a different authority; and whereas the premises, and the teachers, and the subjects are all matters which are for many purposes—indeed for all day school purposes—under the elementary authority on the spot, these will for other purposes have to be transferred to the secondary authority at a distance; and the confusion, the want of co-ordination, and the want of co-relation will be at least as bad as they have ever been before. Let me illustrate 644 this by three cases. First, I take the case of the County of Essex. In that county the Bill creates two authorities for secondary education—the County Council with its Education Committee, and the County Borough Council of West Ham. There are eleven areas for elementary Education—the County of Essex, the borough of West Ham, and nine small boroughs and urban districts—Barking, Chelmsford, Colchester, East Ham, Harwich, Ilford, Leyton, Southend, and Walthamstow. In every one of these nine areas you will have elementary education under one authority, the local authority, and you will have secondary education, which is now to include much that has hitherto been elementary, under the authority of the County Council at a distance. Secondly, I take the case of the parish of Whalley in Lancashire, one of those great ancient parishes which we still find in Lancashire and Yorkshire. In that parish there is to be one authority for secondary education—viz., the Lancashire County Council. There are to be nine authorities for elementary education, viz., the councils of urban districts and the smaller boroughs. Secondary education will be in the hands of the County Council, and elementary education in the hands of these eight borough and district councils which lie within the parish, and in these eight towns you will have the schools under different authorities, not necessarily managed with any relation to one another. Lastly, I take the West Riding of Yorkshire. That has got besides its county boroughs fifteen non-county boroughs and urban districts with a population of 431,000—nearly one-third of the whole population of the administrative county of West Riding. These fifteen non-county boroughs and urban districts will each have the control of its elementary education, but the County Council will have the control of secondary education, and all the higher grade, evening and continuation schools in these boroughs and urban districts will be under a different authority from the elementary schools carried on in the same premises as the elementary education, and by the same teachers. What, then, becomes of the single authority and the system of co-relation when you look at 645 these facts? Let me add that you are creating a different rate for elementary and for secondary education. You cannot call in the one in aid of the other. You may, under Section 13, have independent committees in different parts of the county quite separate from one another, but with concurrent powers of jurisdiction; and you have made in the Bill no provision whatever for the representation of the elementary authorities upon the secondary education committees.
When I consider all these points on which the Bill fails to give unity of administration, I do not think it too much to say that it utterly fails to perform the promise which the right hon. Gentleman stated to us in introducing the measure. The Government said that their aim was to simplify the system of education, to define the function of the authorities, and to remove occasions of friction between them. But what is their scheme of authority? We have four authorities from the top to the bottom. At the top the Board of Education at Whitehall loses some of its control, but how much the Government either will not or cannot tell us. It does lose some of its control; the right hon. Gentleman told us that when he, introduced the Bill, but we have endeavoured in vain to elicit how much. It is perfectly clear, however, that Whitehall will be far less effective for using its influence for the improvement of schools, that it will no longer be able as in time past to work up inferior schools, because it will no longer be in the same direct contact with the local managers. Below Whitehall, we come to the County Councils and the Borough Councils. They have got no powers except those of raising rates and borrowing money. They will not know anything directly about the condition of the schools. They will not know why the money they are asked to spend is being spent, nor, except from the Education Committee's Report, upon what purposes and from what motives it is to be spent. They will not know whether the money they have voted to the Committee is money which is doing good, because they, as councils, will not be in any contact with the schools. Then we have the Education Committees. They are, we are told, to be supreme in everything except finance. 646 Sir, they will have all the information, they will have powers of framing policy, but without the power of the purse they will be unable to carry out their schemes of policy. They may propose expenditure, but it will not rest with them to vote that expenditure, and if the County Council does not see the necessity for the expenditure which they propose, or if the County Council has other objects in view, some local improvement perhaps, about which it knows more and for which it cares more, and on which, therefore, it wants to spend money, the County Council may refuse the schemes which the Education Committee lays before it, and when the County Council refuses, of course the Education Committee is paralysed. Of what use is it to deal with schools and frame schemes of policy, if you cannot count upon getting the money to carry them out? The scheme of separating the County Council and the Education Committees is a scheme for divorcing financial responsibility from administrative responsibility. The Committee will have the knowledge without the power. The Council will have the power without the knowledge.
At the bottom of the series we come to the local managers. Now the local managers are one of the darkest and most intricate parts of this whole scheme of machinery, because the local managers consist of two different sets of persons. There are the managers of the schools which have hitherto been board schools. The Bill does not tell us—I hope the Government in the course of this debate will tell us—what the position of these managers of the schools heretofore board schools is to be. Are they to be mere local agents, obeying in everything the orders received from the Education Committee, or are they to have a quasi independent position? There are two sections in the Bill which deal with this matter. Section 7 favours one construction, Section 8 favours the other. About the voluntary managers there is very little doubt. The voluntary managers will be virtually independent of the Education Committee. They are not appointed by the Education Committee, and they cannot be removed by the Education Committee. They are, we are told, to "carry out the directions of the Education Committee as regards secular 647 education." But how can they be compelled to carry out these directions? At present, when a board of managers disobeys the instruction which it receives from Whitehall, its grant is stopped. The school suffers, the managers find themselves helpless, and of course they must comply with the demands that Whitehall makes. But in future if they disobey the directions given by the Education Committee, it is the Education Committee that will suffer, because the Education Committee, or rather the County Council, will lose their grant. The grant which a school earns, henceforth, according to the Bill, to be paid to the County Council, will, where the school is inefficient or disobedient, no longer be paid to the County Council, and the County Council will be a sufferer for the default of the local managers. If the local managers persist in disobedience, the only course which the County Council and the Education Committee have, will be to undertake to provide a school themselves—that is to say, to charge the cost of building and maintaining a school upon the rates. They will have to penalise the County Council for the default of the local managers. In those circumstances is it not perfectly clear that the local managers occupy a position of great, I might almost say of impregnable strength? They will prevail, because; the County Council cannot be expected to penalise the ratepayers.
And see how little power the Education Committee has. The local managers may dismiss a good master, perhaps upon purely personal grounds, perhaps upon grounds which would be considered quite insufficient by the Education Committee, but the Education Committee cannot interfere. They may refuse to dismiss an incompetent master, and again the Education Committee cannot interfere. They may sanction religious instruction in a school which may be opposed, I will not say to the wishes of the Nonconformists, but to the wishes of all the Church of England parents in the parish, as is sometimes the case; the Education Committee will be unable to interfere. As long as there are thirty pupils in average attendance at a school, the County Council must continue to suppport the school, even if they think it needless and wish to unite it with some other school in the neighbourhood. How can the right hon. Gentleman say that the Education Committee is the single master of the 648 whole educational machinery in the district, when these things are possible? No, Sir, the Committee is not master of the situation. Its hands are tied. It must suffer several weak schools to go on where reason would suggest that one strong school should be substituted. This is not simplification, this is not concentration of powers. The limits of these several authorities are left by the Bill entirely undefined. No one has got a free hand, even for the work which is specifically committed to him. This is a scheme replete with confusion, a scheme fertile in jarring claims and intermediate controversies.
Before I pass from this, I am afraid, tedious theme of authorities, there are two incidental points on which a word must be said. One is with regard to what is called the optional clause. I mean, of course, the clause under which County and Borough Councils have power to adopt the Act to the extinction of School Boards. That clause has been very much censured. Of course, the objections to it are quite obvious. No one will deny that. But what is the alternative? The alternative is to throw upon these bodies a vast mass of entirely new and extremely difficult powers—a mass of work for which they are unprepared, and which some of them are entirely unwilling to accept. I know of some cases already in which they have declared their unwillingness. Three important County Councils have done so—the County Councils of Durham, Northampton, and the West Riding of Yorkshire. The deliverance of the West Biding County Council last year on the subject, and that of its Technical Instruction Committee this year is one of the clearest and strongest statements we have had of the case against this Bill. I must not detain the House now by reading it. I refer to the County Council of last year; but I think the resolution of last year is very good evidence of what the opinion was. The Council has not yet met, but the House may take it from me that the Technical Instruction Committee have declared themselves in opposition to the Bill and I will read their Resolution when we get into Committee. It is clear that some County Councils are opposed to the Bill, but I have not yet been able to ascertain about the Borough Councils. The County Councils I have referred to are 649 opposed to it because they say that, whilst they feel themselves qualified for secondary education, they do not feel themselves qualified for elementary education, and I cannot believe that the Government will drop this clause, although some of their supporters have urged them to do so, when I remember the words used by the right hon. Gentleman in introducing the Bill. He said—We think it will be most undesirable to drive or to force local authorities without full consideration, and possibly against their will, into accepting our plans.The right hon. Gentleman also said—How much better to attain that result through their free and untrammelled action than to force it upon them prematurely.Although I feel it is not possible to do much good, when I look upon the evils that would be created by the sudden transfer of work to people not prepared for it at short notice, I earnestly hope the House will not consent to omit the optional clause, but that, if this transfer is ultimately to be made, it shall be made after long notice and after due preparation. My other remarks relate to the peculiar case of London. London is not included in this Bill. I do not think that it is from goodwill either to the School Board or to the County Council. The sentiments of the Government towards the County Council were recently sufficiently declared in that Water Bill, which has been so ruthlessly reformed by the Joint Committee. But I do not think that the London friends of education need console themselves over the fact that they are omitted from the Bill. They are spared, but they are spared only for the moment. The only boon that the Government proposes to give to the School Board for London is the boon which the Cyclops gave the too-confiding Ulysses— —I will eat Outis last after his companions. And so the School Board for London will be the last to perish when all the other School Boards have disappeared.
Now I turn from the question of authorities to the question of the educational improvements which the Government say we are to expect from the Bill. First of all there is secondary education. Now secondary education is the greatest and most urgent of all our educational wants. The 650 Bill does little if anything for secondary education. It does not direct any inquiry or any scheme to be made for the reorganisation of secondary education. It does not impose any duty on the new authorities to provide secondary education, however great the local need may be. It is purely permissive. It does not contain any suggestion for dealing with endowments or for the reorganisation of secondary schools; it does not set apart the grant under the Act of 1890 so that it shall be in future applicable solely to secondary and technical education. It gives a rating power up to 2d., with the possibility of increase with the consent of the Local Government Board. Now in 1895 the rate of 2d. would probably have been sufficient in the meantime to provide for secondary education, but the circumstances have completely changed since 1895. They have changed especially in this, that a great deal of education which was then deemed to be elementary, and provided for out of elementary sources, is now declared to be secondary, and must be provided for out of the secondary rate. That applies to the higher grade schools, the continuation schools, and the evening schools, and to all education given to children over the age of fifteen. All that is now secondary, and will have to be paid for out of this 2d. rate, and I think that in many cases it will entirely absorb the 2d. rate, and will leave little or nothing for other kinds of secondary education. There is another point to consider. What will happen when the Borough Councils are to be asked to impose a rate for secondary education? They will have a very heavy burden laid upon them for elementary education, and it is extremely improbable, with the fear of the ratepayers before their eyes, and the large cost of elementary education, they will venture to impose an additional rate for secondary education.
I see very little prospect for secondary education in this Bill. Secondary education ought to have had a Bill to itself, and it ought to have had a start of three or four years before primary education is thrown upon the same authority, if ever it is to be thrown upon it. As things stand now, the 651 probability is, that secondary education will go to the wall. Will elementary education fare any better? There is nothing which is more needed than better provision for the training of the teachers. I believe that three-fourths of the teachers of the elementary schools have received no regular course of training. There is nothing in this Bill to provide for better training for the teachers; nothing about training colleges; about pupil teachers, although it is admitted that the present pupil teacher system wants reform. We have had many edifying discourses from the Vice-President of the Council on this subject, but there is nothing in the Bill to unlock the door which sectarianism has, in so many of the schools of the country, closed against the Nonconformists desiring to become teachers. The Act of 1870 placed a stringent obligation on every locality to provide elementary education; that obligation is relaxed by this Bill, and the means of enforcing it are made far weaker than they were before.
The rural schools, as we have been told, are largely inefficient, and it may be thought that the Bill, by giving a claim upon the rates, provides the means of levelling them up; that is to say, to the board school standard. Now what will the cost of this levelling up process be? It is very difficult to form a positive estimate, but I have found in a journal called the Local Government Chronicle a pretty fair estimate of the figures. The Load Government Chronicle estimates the extra charge on the rates in the counties, assuming that the subscriptions remain as they were in 1900—at £1,068,000. But if the subscriptions disappear or the remains of them are absorbed by the charge for repairs, trifling as that charge is, and I do not think it will be more than one twenty-fifth or one-thirtieth of the annual cost of maintaining a school, the Local Government Chronicle estimates that the total increase of rates will be £1,061,000. Add to this the additional charge in boroughs, and the sum total amounts high above two million pounds. So that hon. Members will see there must be a very heavy increase, because in the first place there will be the gaping void 652 which the cessation of voluntary sub scriptions will cause; the voluntary subscriptions being, according to the right hon. Gentleman, about £830,000 a year. In the future there will be also the difference between the average charge upon the rates of the board school child, which is estimated at 19s. 4d., and the average subscription paid in respect of each child in the voluntary schools, which is estimated at 7s. That difference will represent the sum which will have to be made up for every child in the voluntary schools. Therefore it is plain that if there is to be any improvement, there must be a large rise in the rates. That rise will be from 4d. to 6d. in the counties of England. In Worcestershire it will be 4d.; in the West Riding it will be 5½d.; in Northumberland 5d., as the Duke of Northumberland estimates in a letter to The Times today; and by the Dorsetshire farmers it is estimated that for the County of Dorset it will be 6d. I have been able to get no satisfactory information about the boroughs, but I am told that in Liverpool, where there is an unusually large number of voluntary schools, the rise in the rate is estimated at 6d.
Now what will happen if there comes this rise, or if this rise swims into view before the alarmed eyes of the County Councils? Many Councils will recoil from it. The farmers of Dorsetshire are already terrified at the prospect. We have had several interesting letters from Peers, all of them supporters of the Government, pointing out the fact that the rates must rise, and that the subscriptions will disappear. The Duke of Northumberland, as I understand, goes so far as to say that people will not subscribe a sum even sufficient to provide for the repairs of the schools. Therefore, if we have to level up in some schools in some counties we shall have to level down in others. The County Councils will have no great enjoyment in spending money for purposes which they have not themselves determined, but which they will know only from the reports of their statutory Educational Committees. The problem that will be placed before the counties of England will be this—heavy rates and some possible improvements, light rates and 653 stagnation. Some counties and some boroughs may choose one alternative, and some the other; but, unfortunately, those counties in which improvement is most needed are those where they are likely to care least for improvement. The schools have been inferior in certain districts, because the people of those districts have been backward; and because the people of those districts have been backward they will lot rate themselves for their schools. The importance of the central authority at Whitehall will be reduced, and sixty-one petty educational authorities all over the country will have no such strong hand over the schools as the central authority had. They will not have the accumulated store of experience which the experts of Whitehall possess.
The last of the points the right hon. Gentleman dwelt upon in introducing this Bill was the part it would have in making a final settlement. Now, I have tried to show the House that, so far as our administrative educational system goes, this Bill effects no final settlement, for it leaves very many questions unsettled. But what I think the First Lord of the Treasury really meant was that it would put an end to the political and ecclesiastical controversies; that it will so rivet the denominational schools on the educational system of the country, that it will never be possible in the future to detach them. This is the one thing which this Bill is meant to achieve. It is not an Education Bill. It is a Voluntary Schools Relief Bill. It is designed to make the denominational schools not only the schools of today, but even more the schools of tomorrow, because the Bill is full of provisions, dexterously and ingeniously devised which I must not attempt here, for want of time, to examine, but which, of course, will have to be carefully examined in Committee—it is full of provisions to enable the denominational schools to supplant and to oust the undenominational schools in the future; to provide, in fact, that where new schools have to be created these schools shall, as far as possible, be schools of a sectarian type.
Some one, I think, has called this settlement a compromise. Now, how can there be a compromise where on the 654 part of denominational schools it is all getting and no giving? The Bill is a giving, up to self-elected bodies, deliberating in secret, of the management for the future of the majority of the schools of the country, and requiring the public to pay for those schools. The charge will be with the ratepayers, and the control will be with irresponsible private managers. What justification can be alleged for such a one-sided settlement as that? The justification which we have heard is this—that English parents prefer denominational schools. I really wonder that anybody ventures to make that assertion in this House. Why, Sir, do not we all know perfectly well that the one argument which has invariably been used to draw subscriptions from reluctant parishioners and to avert the creation of School Boards is "unless you subscribe, there will be a School Board and a school rate, so that the voluntary school will be a good deal cheaper for you as ratepayers. "I was delighted to see that in the two letters which appeared today, and to which I have already referred—the letter of the Duke of Northumberland and the letter of Lord Heneage—that was avowed in the frankest and most candid way. Of course, everybody knows it. This settlement is not a compromise; it is an absolute and unconditional surrender to clerical claims. I am very far from wishing to make any reflection whatever on the clergy. I know from personal experience that the clergy of the Church of England take, as a rule, a great deal of interest in education. They have done much excellent work for the schools, and I believe that in many cases they have done that work entirely irrespective of any denominational motives. Sometimes a clergyman is the only person in a parish who has cared for education at all. But let us note the position which a large section of the clergy take up quite conscientiously upon this question—a section which is increasing, and which seems to me at present to have the exclusive ear of the Government. It is a two-fold position. The first part of it is that the Church of England, because it is the Established Church, is primarily responsible for, and primarily entitled to control, the education of the country. And the other part of it is this—that the giving in elementary schools of definite, distinctive, dogmatic 655 instruction is essential to the spiritual and moral welfare of the children who are in those schools. Those are the two doctrines and positions which are held by that section of the clergy, and also, I am afraid, by influential members of the Government. One of them is absolutely opposed to all the principles on which a free country can be governed, and in which the free countries of Europe and North America are governed. Education is the business not of the Church, but of the State. The State is responsible for it, the State is entitled to control it. And the other proposition—about definite dogmatic instruction—is absolutely opposed to experience and to common sense, because experience shows us that there is no difference whatever in after life between children who come from undenominational and those who come from denominational schools.
How can it be said that Church of England parents are so anxious for distinctive dogmatic instruction, when we all of us know that the board schools, and other undenominational schools, are full of Church of England children, where there are other schools equally accessible? I know, myself, in a northern town, a large school with about 900 children. It is an undenominational school—not a hoard school, but a voluntary school—and so far as I know, it gives very little, if any, religious instruction. More than one-third of the children in that school are Church of England children, although the town is full of Church of England schools, easy of access in every part. Every one can parallel from his own experience cases of that kind. I agree with what was said the other day by the President of the National Union of Elementary Teachers, when he stated that he did not believe English parents cared one atom about dogma. This view, however, is not the view of an eminent ecclesiastic who has lately been favouring us with his opinions. The Dean of St. Paul's says——[Laughter.] Do hon. Members think that the Dean of St. Paul's is not to be listened to? The Dean of St. Paul's not only fills a great place, but he was chosen by the Government to be the successor of one of the brightest ornaments of English theology and letters, the late Dean Church. He has been for many years the treasurer of, and a most 656 active spirit in, the National Society He is well entitled to be heard. The Dean of St. Paul's said—I think School Boards have been a great misfortune all over the country; they have lowered the tone of morality, and have increased the amount of crime. I regard the paying of School Board rates as helping the promotion of vice, rather than the increase of virtue.
§ SIR FRANCES POWELL (Wigan)
It must not be supposed that the Dean represents the National Society. Being a member of the Council, I am quite aware that the opinions of the Dean are repudiated by every member of that body. [Opposition cries of "When? "] Whenever the Dean says it, we repudiate it.
§ MR. BRYCE
It is evident that the repudiation of his colleagues does not have much effect on the mind of the Dean. But I am aware that there are many who do not agree with the Dean. One of the most sensible and judicious of the dignitaries of the Church of England. Archdeacon Sandford, in Convocation the other day, expressed his dissent from the words of the Dean. But Convocation as a whole did not do so. And, for the matter of that, I know that many of the Bishops—who are usually much more cautious, much more judicious, and, I think, much more liberal-minded than a good many of their colleagues in the less exalted ranks of the clergy—would not commit themselves to expressions like those used by the Dean of St. Paul's. I know that two of the ablest and wisest among the Prelates—the Bishops of Winchester and Rochester—have repeatedly expressed their high commendation of the religious teaching which is given in the board schools; particularly, at any rate, in the board schools of London. But, all the same, it is perfectly true that the ideas which are somewhat crudely expressed by the Dean of St. Paul's are largely held by the clergy of the Church of England—[Ministerial cries of "No!" and Opposition cries of "A section."]—an important and increasing section. When we find those sentiments expressed, we are obliged to look with some little care and scrutiny upon the Bill in commendation of which they are spoken. I do not see the Home Secretary here. If he had been, I should 657 have asked him whether in future, in presenting to the House the Tables of criminal statistics, he would endeavour to introduce a column showing whether the criminals had been educated in a board school or a voluntary school. If the statistics turn out to be what the Dean of St. Paul's expects, I can assure him that we shall be willing converts to his views.
Now, the right hon. Gentleman described this Bill as being "a radical, a final, a complete cure of educational evils."
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (MR. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
When did I say that?
§ MR. BRYCE
That may not be the right hon. Gentleman's style, but it does not seem to go in boldness much beyond some of the other commendations which he gave to the Bill. Sir, it is nothing of the kind. It will aggravate educational evils. This Parliament, elected under the excitement of a war sentiment, may possibly pass it, but the sober judgment of the country will not acquiesce in this Bill. The sober judgment of the country has, indeed, already condemned this Bill. ["Oh!" I say that for this reason: that when I look to see what are the opinions expressed in different parts of the country upon this Bill, I find that, with scarcely an exception, the only bodies that have blessed the Bill are ecclesiastical organisations connected with the Established Church. How can a system be final which excludes Nonconformists as teachers from more than half the schools of the country? How can a system get rid of "barren controversy"—I think the right hon. Gentleman will admit that he used those words—which multiplies fourfold the occasions upon which sectarian controversy can arise? Hitherto we have had no such controversy in the elections of County and Borough Councils; henceforth we shall have it. It will be renewed in those Councils when they come 658 to appoint their Education Committees. It will be renewed in those Education Committees when they come to appoint their local managers. It will be renewed in the localities whenever the localities have to consider the question of creating extra schools to meet denominational or undenominational demands. How could any system be final which perpetuates two sets of elementary schools, with no power to discontinue schools however superfluous they may be, with no power of co-ordination, with different sets of managers, the one capable of being displaced, the other for ever irremovable because intrenched behind a rampart of sectarian privilege? How can it be final when it contemplates a multiplication of small schools, one of the greatest evils we have had to deal with for many years past. All this complication, all this waste, all these opportunities for further controversy, are created merely in order that the Church Catechism may be taught in one of two sets of schools. ["Oh, oh!"] What else does it come to but this? The difference between denominational schools and Cowper-Temple schools is that in one the Anglican formulary can legally be taught and in the other it cannot, and all this elaborate machinery, all these complicated devices, are introduced to accomplish this small end—to teach the Catechism in one set of schools, since the Act of 1870 forbids it in the other. Would it not have been infinitely simpler to fall back on the other solution, and to make an arrangement by which out of school hours—say, on one day in the week—the Church Catechism might be taught to those children whose parents desired they should learn it? This would be a far less cumbrous way of meeting a wish attributed, though in my belief erroneously attributed, to a portion of the English Protestant laity.
And now, having sought to show practically how far this Bill is from redemption of the promises with which it was introduced, I come to a brief statement of the greatest of all objections to the Bill. It embodies the complete denial of popular control; it ignores all rights of the people. It abolishes them where they exist in the election of School Boards, and makes no provision for 659 them in other parts of the machinery; for I entirely deny that the elections to the County Councils, elections held for other purposes, and giving representatives no power but over the voting of money for purposes fixed by others is a recognition of popular control. This is ignored in the County and Borough Councils because they have nothing to do with the control and management of education. The Education Committee which is to be the controlling body stands apart from the people, is never subject to popular election, is not amenable to the vote of the people, never explains its policy to the people, can never submit its policy to the people or justify it by its speeches, and can never have that stimulus and strength which contact with popular opinion gives to an elective authority. In each parish, schools will be under the management of managers nominated by a distant Committee, to whom alone they will be responsible, and who, if the school is a voluntary one, will be responsible to nobody, or who owe allegiance, not to the people, parents, or ratepayers, or any authority, but their own religious body. It is true that a number not exceeding a third may be added to the local management; but what value will that addition have while the body of local management consists, as it will often, indeed usually, consist, of vicar, his curate, and his churchwardens, not to mention the fact that the County Education Committee in many, if not most, cases will have no direct knowledge of the locality, and will apply to the locality for nominations, and to whom more naturally than to the clergyman or the squire? Even the one motive which local managers have hitherto had to conciliate local opinion and to keep in touch with public opinion will be weakened or withdrawn, because there will be less need for subscriptions.
This has been regarded as merely a religious grievance; it is that, but it is more than that. I do not say it is not a religious grievance; but the parent who pays his rates will see on the demand note a demand for 4d. or 5d. in the pound for an education rate, and he will feel that this rate goes to support a school in his own parish in the management of 660 which he has no voice, and to which, if he sends his children, he is obliged either to withdraw them from all religious instruction whatever, or else to submit them to a religious instruction of which he disapproves. That is a tangible grievance; but not the whole of it. If there were no religious grievance in the matter at all, it would be a violation of the time-honoured incontestable principle of British government that rate aid should be followed by local control; that local taxation involves local representation. I do not know of any other case where we have departed from that principle. I do not know where else we impose taxation on a man and give him no effective voice in determining how those taxes shall be spent. But I would like to put it to the House that over and above the question of civil rights, there is another reason why it is a terrible error to attempt to get rid, as this Bill gets rid, of the element of popular election. There is nothing more valuable to education than the interest and sympathy of the people. School Boards have evoked in large towns this sympathy and interest. Urban School Boards have done so much good work, as it is candidly acknowledged by Ministers they have done, because they have had popular sympathy and interest behind them. No such feeling has generally existed in rural districts, and rural districts have suffered from the want of it, and this Bill perpetuates those very evils of educational languor, slackness and indifference, which are evident in rural districts.
Our rural schools have not been, and under this Bill will not be, the schools of the people as they are in Switzerland and the United States. Instead of their being schools of the people and centres of local intellectual life in which the whole people can join, they will be the property of a few private persons not responsible to the people at all. I would like to quote a few words—they have been used already, though not in this House in these discussions; they are true in themselves, and they come from an authority so high as the Schools Inquiry Commission of 1868, of which, among other distinguished men, the present Archbishop of Canterbury and the late Bishop of Winchester were members:—No skill in organisation, no careful adaptation of the means in hand to the best ends, can do so much for education as the 661 earnest co-operation of the people. The American schools appear to have no great excellence of method. But the schools are in the hands of the people, and from this fact they derive a force that seems to make up for many deficiencies. It is impossible to doubt that, in England inferior management, if lacked up by hearty sympathy from the masses of the people, would succeed better than much greater skill without such support.These words are absolutely true, and, although I have been obliged in some part of my argument to differ from hon. Gentlemen opposite, and to express opinions with which they will not agree, I hope they will support me in pleading for local popular representation as a means of enlisting popular sympathy and support. This ought to be matter of common agreement, and it the Government have unfortunately been compelled, by what they thought a political exigency, to neglect so vital a principle, the House ought to require them to cure at least this defect in their Bill.
The Government have had a great opportunity. They might have organised and developed secondary education: they might have given us better areas for elementary education; they might have co-ordinated all schools into wholesome and harmonious working; they might have given a stimulus to local interest and sympathy: they might have provided for the better training of teachers. But in their Bill they have done none of these things. Their scheme is a confused patchwork, a mass of cumbrous, complicated machinery, throughout which there is no well-ordered system, no real motive power, it cannot be a final scheme, and those who care for education must try, if they cannot secure its amendment, to endeavour to arouse the nation to insist on something better. We are daily told that the strain of commercial competition is becoming more severe throughout the world, and that we need far more efficient training for our youth in order to enable England to hold her ground against the solid, laborious German and the keen-witted, eager American. That is true; but I venture to put the case upon higher ground. What greater interest can a country have than that the teaching throughout all her schools from the top to the bottom should be such as to open a career for talent, enabling talent to rise, 662 and in rising to benefit the whole community, and to turn to the utmost account those intellectual resources with which our people, not less than any other people, are naturally gifted? What nobler aim can there be than that we should impart to our boys and girls as they pass into the world those worthier intellectual and artistic tastes and capacities for pleasure which make so large a part of the happiness of life, which are an antidote to its temptations, and alleviate its hardships and its sorrows? It is on these great interests that the strength and welfare of an Imperial people depend. It is these great interests that make education a matter of supreme concern. And it is because this measure, framed in a narrow spirit, neglects those interests and holds out no hope or promise of making the schools of England fit to render what England asks and needs, that I move the rejection of this Bill.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.'"—(Mr. Bryce.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question. "
§ (4.15.) THE VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF COUNCIL FOR EDUCATION (Sir JOHN GORST, Cambridge University)
I desire to associate myself with the determination with which the right hon. Gentleman began his speech to treat this subject in a spirit of candour and common sense—a determination which, I am bound to say, throughout the greater part of his speech was faithfully carried out. I should also like to associate myself with the intention he expressed of not allowing himself to be drawn into the sectarian controversy, and I hope I shall be more successful in avoiding that precipice than the right hon. Gentleman was at one point of his speech. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by a direct attack upon the very principle of the Bill. He threw doubt upon the desirability of or the necessity for, the establishment of an education authority which should have control over education of every kind. I had thought that that, and perhaps that only, would have 663 been common ground in this contest. I know that a great number of the adherents and supporters of the right hon. Gentleman hold the opinion that there ought to be such an authority, though they differ, no doubt, from the Government as to the constitution of that authority. But, as the right hon. Gentleman has thrown doubt upon the necessity which has given rise to the Government Bill, I must express my very strong opinion, an opinion based on seven years administrative experience in the Education Office, that the present state of things is absolutely intolerable; that, although philosophers in their study may be able to distinguish between primary and secondary education, it is impossible for administrators, either in London or the provinces, to carry out any such distinction; and that, wherever you have in the same place two public authorities, the one charged with the control and administration of secondary education, and the other charged with the control and administration of primary education, in most cases there must be confusion and overlapping. There are some few places, of which perhaps the city of Manchester is the most conspicuous, where the authorities, by a sort of concordat among themselves, have avoided the greater part of this evil. But there are other boroughs of great importance in which the evil is most conspicuous. The result of this overlapping where two schools are established side by side where one would do, each under a local authority and each endeavouring, practically, to give the same kind of instruction, is admittedly a very great evil. The waste of public money is really the smallest part of that evil. If it only resulted in a waste of public money, one might be able to bear it; but the effect of it is to deteriorate the character of the schools and the education given in them. In the first place, the elementary authority which invades the province of secondary education has to carry on its schools with all kinds of restrictions in order to do its best to appear to keep itself within the law, and then the fact of there being a competition between those two authorities for pupils causes the education to be rather that which is most popular and which will attract the greatest number of scholars 664 into the schools than that which is best for the interests of the district and the country. And then, inasmuch as managing and controlling secondary schools appears to be a very much more agreeable occupation than that of managing and controlling elementary education, there is the danger of the elementary education being neglected, and of the real schools of the people being cast on one side in order to provide higher education for a small minority.
But, besides the evils of competition and overlapping, a single authority is wanted, because in every place there ought to be a distinct plan of schools and of education suitable for the particular wants of the district. The Board of Education are of opinion that a plan and arrangement of schools which may suit the town of Bradford will not necessarily suit the county of Wiltshire, and the local people themselves are the only people who can take into consideration the circumstances and wants of their own, neighbourhood, and devise a general plan of education, with proper schools and the proper kinds of classes, to enable their district to be properly supplied with the education they want. There is another reason I can give for having only one authority, and that is that all higher education, if it is to be effective, must be based upon a sound system of elementary schools. It is wasteful to establish technical institutions and technical schools unless you have children in the elementary schools properly prepared to receive higher instruction. Therefore the body which provides and manages higher schools ought to have a voice in the kind of instruction and organisation in the lower schools. It is the commonest complaint of the managers of all technical institutions at the present day that the boys and girls come to them so ill-prepared in the common elements of education that they are not equipped to profit by the instruction they receive. You put a boy to learn engineering who has not mastered the common rules of arithmetic; and they have constantly in these schools to establish elementary classes in order either to teach what the boy or girl 665 has never yet learned, or to teach over again that which they have previously learned in the elementary school at the public expense and have forgotten.
Then there is the subject to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, and on which he laid so much stress—the provision for teachers. The provision for the training and education of the teacher is undoubtedly a work of secondary education, and if the authority which is to train and educate the teacher has no control over the elementary schools, how can they possibly provide the kind of teacher which those elementary schools most require? in every other country in the world that I know of, and even in Scotland, they have one authority for all purposes. It is only in England and Wales and in Ireland that this double authority prevails.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
I say they have one authority. I cannot state the whole thing in a moment. At any rate, they have one authority in Scotland, whether it is ad hoc or not, and it is only in England and Wales that we have the extraordinary phenomenon of two public bodies, one looking after some schools and the other looking after the rest.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
I am not sufficiently acquainted with the state of things in Ireland to venture to differ from the hon. Member. It is only in this country that this prevails, and unless some very strong reason can be shown for such a phenomenon, I think we should be wise to copy the rest of mankind and have one authority for all our schools. The right hon. Gentleman said, and said, I am bound to say, with perfect justice, that the Bill does not absolutely carry out this intention. I should have thought that that was a subject we might have relegated to discussion in Committee; but, as the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned it, I may perhaps say that I know of no example of English legislation in which something 666 illogical and contrary to the general principle of that legislation has not crept in. But in this particular case the large non-county borough or urban district is only potentially a separate authority; and, if good sense prevails, as I hope it may prevail in a good number of them, I anticipate that there will be an agreement made in every case between the county and the borough which has independent elementary powers, so that the secondary education carried on by the county and the elementary education independently carried on by the borough authorities will be made to dovetail into each other, and confusion will not arise. I admit frankly that it is a departure from the principle of the Bill; but it is a departure which previous legislation has rendered it almost impossible at the present moment to mitigate, and we can only hope that this departure from the principle on which the Bill depends will not be attended by any evil consequences. If it is once conceded that there must be a single authority for all kinds of schools, the Government could only choose between two alternatives. It must either take the County Council or it must take a modified and altered School Board. I admit that this is a subject on which a good deal is to be said on both sides. It is a proper subject for the House of Commons to discuss, and the decision of the House upon the Second Reading of this Bill ought to decide—I hope I may say decide once and for all—which of these two authorities ought to be taken.
Now, will the House allow me just to remind them of the way in which this matter presents itself to the Board of Education? I will not go into past history. I will not go into the question of whether certain Acts of Parliament ought or ought not to have been adopted. Just let me ask the House to consider the state of things as it is. You have got, on the one side, the County and County Borough Councils. They cover the whole country. They have legislative authority for their proceedings in secondary education. I say secondary education. In the Act of Parliament it is "technical education," but, practically, technical education is so wide that it may be, for the practical purposes of debate, considered to be equivalent to 667 secondary education. They have funds. Their funds may not be adequate, but they are considerable, and they are not yet entirely exhausted. And they have schools. In the twelve years in which these county authorities have been exercising educational powers they have established 391 new secondary schools, and they have extended and modified and adapted 282 more schools, making a total of schools which they have provided for the country of 673. That is exclusive of the Welsh schools under the Intermediate Education Act. They have besides this established an enormous number—thousands—of evening schools in the counties: and that has been done not only by the advanced county boroughs like Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham, but it has been done even by the agricultural counties. The county of Cambridgeshire, in which I live, has established a county school for boys and girls in the town of Cambridge which is frequented by the sons and daughters of the farmers throughout the county; and they boast, and I believe boast with truth, that there is a technical evening school now within reach of every boy and every girl living in the, county of Cambridgeshire. Well, then this body which possesses these powers, and which has so exercised these powers, is the most popularly elected body in the whole country. It is elected by the people, by a more extended suffrage than that of the electors of Members of this House. So that to adapt this popularly elected local body to the purposes of an educaional authority is a very easy matter, and requires very little legislation.
The Government has been upbraided with having so few clauses in its Bill to constitute this authority. Let me look at the other side. On the other side you have the School Board. I do not wish to say anything disrespectful of the School Boards. Of the School Boards in the large towns I have repeatedly in this House expressed my strong approval and my strong admiration of the work they have done. I cannot be so complimentary to the School Boards in the country districts; they have, perhaps, on the whole, represented the very worst kind of local authority that could be devised, and have 668 in many cases very greatly neglected the duties which Parliament put upon them. [Opposition cries of "No," and Ministerial cheers.] But the School Boards do not cover the whole country like the County Councils; they are partial only, and they do not yet educate half the children in the country. I do not say that they do not cover more than half the area of the country. I have never said that, but what I have said is that they do not educate yet half the children of the country. Then, their statutory authority is now in name confined entirely to elementary education, and they can only teach children under fifteen. There may be some dispute about fifteen, but I think the right hon. Gentleman opposite and the Attorney General are at one that by definition a child can only safely be assumed to be a person under fifteen. They can only teach children under fifteen, and the advanced work which they have been doing in recent years, their higher grade schools, their evening schools, and their pupil teacher centres, are now pronounced to be illegal and ultra vires. The districts of the School Boards are wholly unsuitable areas for secondary education purposes; that, I think, is admitted by everybody. The School Board is not so popularly elected as the County Council; it is elected by a cumulative vote, and not only is it not elected by so popular a vote as the County Council but only about half the voters go to the poll to vote for School Boards that go to the poll to vote for the County Councils. It is a body which is in name popular, but in fact is elected by a very small number of ratepayers.
Now, to make the School Board into an educational authority would require a great deal of very complicated legislation. You would have, first of all, to make School Boards universal. You would have, secondly, to give School Boards authority over secondary education, and for the purpose of doing that you would have to take secondary education out of the hands of the County Councils, who have exercised it so well and who are now carrying on the work so admirably. You would have to alter all the districts, because you could not turn your School Boards in the present School Board districts into 669 authorities; and most likely you would have to reform, at all events you would be strongly pressed to do so, the method of election. Besides this great change, besides having the easy path of the County Councils and the difficult path of the School Boards, the Government, from the very first day they came into office, have been convinced that the County Council and not the School Board is the proper authority. [Hon. Members on the Opposition Benches: Oh!] You talk as if we had suddenly discovered some new policy. Why, this was the policy of the Bill of 1896, it has been the policy of every Bill which the Government has introduced from then down to the present time which has dealt with this question, and it is the policy on which the whole administration of the Board of Education has been carried on, and for which it has been criticised in this House. The Government think that the ad hoc authority is an anachronism; they think that to propose to advert to an ad hoc authority is reactionary. Formerly whenever a local authority was created it was an ad hoc authority, I mean during the last century; but the ad hoc authority has been given up by every supporter of local self-government, and the only ad hoc authorities which survive to the present day are the School Boards and the Board of Guardians. The reason for this is that opinions on local self-government have made great progress; it is recognised that local self-government is absolutely impossible unless you have local control of the finances; and the only way you can have effective local self-government in this or any other country is for the local electors to choose some body which shall have control of the whole local finance and be responsible for all the expenditure of the ratepayers' money. If you have several bodies independent of each other exercising independent rating powers, how is it conceivable or possible there can be efficient control of local finance, and therefore how can there be proper, efficient local self-government? In America they do not tall into this mistake. References have been made by many people—I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman in his speech did not confirm them—as if in America there was an elective School Board which levied independent rates, as 670 in England. There are an enormous number of different systems in America, but I fail to find such a system as that.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
Are there? I know two cases. In the city of Boston there is an elective School Board, but then the City Council of Boston provides the funds; the School Board can only operate with those funds provided by the City Council. And in the great city of Minneapolis there is an elective School Board which does levy rates, but only raises rates up to the amount allowed by the State law. Although the right hon. Gentleman says there is I fail to find any ease in America where a body is elected by the people with unlimited power of rating those people for school purposes. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the election of the School Board at all is rather the exception than the rule in the various cities and States of America.
§ MR. MATHER (Lancashire, Rossendale)
I have an authoritative statement from the Commissoner of Education at Washington, who telegraphed to me two days ago saying that in the majority of the States and cities in America the School Boards are elected by the people, and that the cities settle and supply the amount of money to be spent every year, which is limited by the City Charters.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
That is precisely the point. I am not talking about whether a Board is elected or not elected, but whether it has or has not the control over the rates, which I say is inconsistent with local self-government. What the hon. Member opposite has just quoted confirms what I have said. But if you want to introduce the American system here you would have to have all the elections on the same day. And in America a great many people are elected who are not elected here, a great many of the ordinary administrators are elected, and even the judges in a great many instances. We do not elect them here. As they have all their elections on the same day in America, the elector who goes to the poll can vote at once for all the various people he wants to elect, and they do not expect people, as is the case here, to go to the polls to 671 vote one day for the County Council, the next day for the Board of Guardians, and the third day for the School Board. The repugnance of the people to the system we have tried to force on them is shown by the fact that they stay away from the polls and will not take the trouble to vote. Well, the principle of the Government Bill, as I hope I have shown to the House—I am not now speaking of details with which a great deal of the right hon. Gentleman's speech dealt—is to entrust the education of every county and every county borough to the body which represents the ratepayers of that county and county borough most fully and most exactly.
The right hon. Gentleman spent a great part of his speech in saying that the functions of the Board of Education were applicable to this Bill. The functions of the Board of Education over education will remain after this Bill is passed exactly that which they have been before, except that they will be able to exercise them more easily and, I hope, more effectively. The interference of the Board of Education in the education of the country is in respect of its power to distribute to schools those large and liberal grants which this House makes from time to time to education, both elementary and secondary, and they distribute those grants to schools which are, in their opinion, efficient, and they ascertain the efficiency of those schools by inspection and regulation, and in such way as they think necessary to carry out the intentions of Parliament. I admit that a great deal more depends now on the inspection of schools than has ever depended before. I hope that the inspection of schools will be very greatly improved and reformed. In fact, my noble friend the Lord President of the Council has already taken steps to secure a more efficient class of inspectors, to secure better organisation of inspectors, and therefore to secure more clear information at the Board of Education as to the exact condition of the schools. I do not think there is any danger of any of these schools being inefficient and of there being any levelling down. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman is bound to have that conventional suspicion of those who occupy the position of heads of the Board of Education at the present 672 moment, but we shall not be there always. The time will come when he and some of his colleagues will occupy these positions, and if we have so far neglected our duty as to level down the education of the country, they will have a very happy time in levelling it up again. Then, this Bill enlists popular sympathy in education. The right hon. Gentleman said it did not. I ask the candid consideration of the House whether it does not. In the first place, it invites the people of the place to form their own plan of education. In such places as the city of Manchester the plan of education will be a Manchester plan. They will decide what kind of schools are wanted and in what places they are to be situated. Then the schools will be the schools of the locality. They will be the schools which the people have created and which they watch over. They will feel—if I may use language which the right hon. Gentleman has put into my mouth in an article which he wrote on this subject the other day—they will feel that it is their interest, as parents and citizens, to make their schools worthy of an advancing country.
Now, what are the objections which the right hon. Gentleman has offered to this measure? I should like to treat them fully, seriatim. First of all, the right hon. Gentleman says the Bill does nothing for secondary education. Well, that is a form of speech. First, it creates an authority, or it gives to the authority already existing for technical education full powers for secondary education. Secondly, it provides that authority with funds. The right hon. Gentleman says the funds are not adequate; but if they are not adequate, surely that is not a question for the Second Reading of the Bill: it is a question for which at least we might wait until we get into Committee. I should like to remind the House and the right hon. Gentleman that in the question of adequacy of funds for secondary education you cannot proceed upon the same principles as in the allocation of funds for primary education. The Parliament of this country has determined that primary education shall be universal and free. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to provide the funds which are required to allow every child to receive primary education. But it is not so with secondary education. To a very large extent, 673 secondary education can be made self-supporting, and in many cases it is not so much money as organisation that is required. The actual funds required may be small, but the organisation is most important. It is not the business and it is not the interest of the country to give everybody secondary education, not even everybody who asks for it. It is only the interest of the country to see that everybody who is fit to receive secondary education, and in the secondary education of whom the State has an interest, so that it will get out of it, by the improvement of the child's faculties, a return for the money expended—it is only in these cases that it is the duty of the State to give any secondary education at all; and that duty is best provided by picking out from the elementary schools the most promising boys and girls and inducing their parents to forego the wages, which in many cases are so important to the family, by giving suitable scholarships and so getting the very best cream of the children in the elementary schools carried on to the secondary schools, where they will receive such instruction as will make them really better citizens, and really pay the State in the long run for the money expended. Lastly, even if the County Councils have not enough under the Bill, which increases the amount for the duties cast upon them, they have enough, at all events, to begin with. It has taken them a long while to expend wisely the whole of the local taxation money. In most counties they have only just come to an end of it; so, even if they have not enough in the end, they have enough to start with it this Bill is passed, it will, at all events, make a beginning of secondary education, and when the authorities of counties and county boroughs see what sum of money is really required, I have no doubt the representations made by them to this House will be received with very favourable consideration.
The next thing the right hon. Gentleman objects to is that the Hill does not tie down this new secondary authority with a number of minute regulations. In legislation of this kind, the more you leave it vague and at large, and the less you tie your local authorities down, the better opportunity they have for doing really good educational work. You 674 have two precedents before you—the Technical Instruction Act on the one side, and the Elementary Education Act on the other. In the Technical Instruction Act the counties were left absolutely free. That Act had just the same vice which this Act is alleged to have. It did not tie them down by minute regulations, and look at the excellent work they have done under it. We are far more likely to have an efficient system of education in this country if we leave the great cities and counties to work it out for themselves than if we attempt to put into an Act of Parliament what exactly they are to do, or leave to the Board of Education the duty of advising them, controlling them, and directing them in the way the right hon. Gentleman seems to desire. I have a respect for the Board of Education. I think the officials of that Board are a body of very highly-trained and educated gentlemen who are very fit to give good advice, but I confess that I think the people of Bradford, some of the leading gentlemen on the Town Council of Bradford, sitting round a table in Bradford, will be able to devise a better system and scheme of education for Bradford than those experts in Whitehall.
Then the right hon. Gentleman says we do not improve the quality of secondary education in the Bill. Good heavens! How can you improve the quality of education by Act of Parliament? The quality of education is to be improved in two ways only. The first is by the gradual growth of general knowledge and general experience in education, and the other is by having a sound system of inspection by which the best methods in one district can be conveyed to another and by which all can profit by the experiments which are made in different places. You want an experienced and able body of inspectors, and you must make those inspectors independent, so that they will not be afraid to speak the truth and find fault when fault ought to be found, and instead of confining themselves to general laudatory notices of schools, endeavour, when they see a good system in one place, to introduce it into another. The right hon. Gentleman said we do not deal with the provision of teachers. Why, the provision of teachers 675 will be one of the very first duties which the new educational authorities will have to consider. You cannot make teachers by Act of Parliament, and when you have passed your Bill, whatever Bill you pass, whether you pass any Bill at all, you do not increase the number of teachers thereby. You have only got a certain number of teachers in the country, and you have, at the present moment, to make the best you can of them. The stimulus to the local authority to supply teachers will have to be given not by any Bill, but by a grant out of the Public Exchequer. A very small grant is already given for the provision of teachers, and I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is very desirable, whenever it is possible, that that grant should be increased and improved. What you want is to have established by the new local authorities exhibitions and scholarships which can be held by young teachers at secondary schools and the Universities, by which they will have a good education of their own, and will only practice in schools that teach them to teach, not for the purpose of forming any part of the general part of the general staff of the schools. At present I claim that it is the best plan to leave it to the local authorities themselves to initiate schemes, and only to aid and assist those schemes, and not to endeavour to bind them down to a particular method of providing teachers by a clause in the Bill. I share the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the pupil teacher system is a very bad system, which cannot possibly provide us with a proper service of young teachers, and that one of the most urgent reforms required and one of the subjects to which the new secondary authorities should most early direct their attention, would be the establishment of a scheme for dealing with the better provision of elementary school teachers. The right hon. Gentleman said this Bill did nothing for the improvement of elementary schools.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
What are the causes of the present unsatisfactory position of 676 our elementary schools? In country districts it is want of money; in town districts it is, I think, the neglect of the local educational authority, such as the School Board, to properly supervise its schools, and I think that in their desire to invade the field of secondary education they have been guilty of a considerable amount of neglect of elementary education. I do not share the view which the right hon. Gentleman has expressed that the schools in our great towns are in an entirely satisfactory position. In the first place, they are a great deal too large. I should like to read to the House an extract from a private letter that I received the other day from a person exceptionally well qualified to speak upon the subject. I will only say that it is in a very large and populous neighbourhood—The schools here are appalling. First, because of their size. There are often, as far as my experience goes, usually between 500 and 700 in a department. This means that they are great, inhuman places, and it is impossible to have any feeling for them. It is impossible, so far as I can see, even to know these great schools. No inspector can get round some of their single departments in a day, and the head teachers do not know them.There is frequently no real vital connection between the work of one school and another, for there can be no effective supervision, and little chance for the teachers to know each other's work.What is the effect of these enormous schools? The effect is that the teaching becomes perfectly mechanical, that hardly anything is done to bring out the individual powers of any boy or girl. They learn by rote and mechanically. They cannot find out things for themselves. They have no idea of applying their knowledge, and the consequence is that from those schools we turn out, not intelligent boys and girls who are fitted to go into the technical and higher schools, and to profit by the instruction there given, but children who have been taught tricks like a sort of performing animal, who will go through a certain set of performances, but possesses no active intelligence and no means of making further progress for itself. That is the universal testimony of those who carry on higher schools, whether they are evening schools, technical schools, or whatever they may be. Go and mix with the teachers of these schools as I have done, and you will find 677 that the one complaint is that the children are turned out of them perfectly mechanical things with no power to think for themselves. The right hon. Gentleman forgets that in 1870 Parliament deliberately created a dual system—the board schools and voluntary schools. As regards the voluntary schools, it is perfectly impossible to contemplate their early disappearance. There are upwards of 3,000,000 children in those schools, which number no fewer than 14,329. Are you going to allow those 3,000,000 children to be imperfectly educated for lack of money for an indefinite period until these schools disappear? Therefore, there does not seem very much prospect of their disappearance. The numbers have more than doubled since 1870, and those whose policy it is to wait for the disappearance of those schools will have to wait at least for a generation before the instruction in them can be supplanted. And it is a great mistake to say that the Bill allows the management to fall back on the rates for their maintenance. It does nothing of the kind. Not the managers, but the local authority, becomes responsible for all the secular instruction in those schools. The local authority become-; responsible to Parliament and the Board of Education for all the secular instruction in them. The right hon. Gentleman said that the education of the schools might be levelled down; but, if so it will be owing to gross neglect of duty on the part of the Board of Education; because, inasmuch as these schools derive a large part of their funds from grants made by Parliament, it is for the Board of Education to exercise its power to keep up the level of education in the schools. If that power is not exercised Parliament is the proper body to apply the remedy by passing censure on the administrators of education for the time being.
I will not follow the right hon. Gentleman into the religious controversy. I am afraid that religious animosity cannot be put an end to by any Act of Parliament. I believe that nothing but the spreading of the spirit of common sense and Christian charity can ever put an end to religious animosity. All I can say is that I think it is less likely to be excited in a town council than in a School Board. 678 But I should like to say what I have said before, and what I think is only due to the managers of those religious schools I do not think I can repeat it too often—and that is, that the religious difficulty exists, not in the schools themselves, but on the platform and in Parliament. I had an illustration of it last week, and, as the House rather likes personal anecdotes, I will tell it to the House, as it is a most striking illustration of the absence of all religious difficulties in the schools. I went last week to see a nunnery—a nunnery of teaching sisters. There is established in this nunnery a school of science. The mistress of science was a lady in a nun's dress. The chemistry laboratory had been established and was kept up at the expense of the ratepayers of London. I say the expense of the ratepayers of London because, although the money supplied by the Technical Instruction Committee comes out of the local taxation money, it is money which might be applied, and part is applied, in relief of rates. When I asked the reverend mother about the children in those schools, she told me she had at that moment no less than six Protestant girls boarding in the nunnery, and that of those Protestant girls many had had their mothers, and some their grandmothers, educated in the same convent. I could not but think how much those girls profited by the instruction and care bestowed upon them by those good women, and how little their Protestantism appeared to have suffered in consequence. That is only one illustration. I could give dozens of instances of the same kind, showing that in schools themselves there is never any religious difficulty and never any absence of toleration and care. I have never been able to get a case to the contrary substantiated, though there might be an extreme case. There are eccentric people in every part of the world, and there may be some who do use the school for the purpose of proselytising; but the statement that dissenting parents were prevented from sending their children into the teaching profession is absolutely unfounded. About two or three years ago in this House I challenged anybody to bring me a single case. I think about three cases were brought before me, and upon investigation every one of them disappeared just in the same way as upon investigation alleged appearances of ghosts disappear.
679 Then the right hon. Gentleman said popular interest in education would be lost under the provisions of this Bill. That is a conventional statement which people always do make when they talk about School Boards and popular election, but everybody knows, and nobody better than the right hon. Gentleman himself, that it is very far indeed from the truth. In the first place, the electorate is quite incompetent to choose those who are experts in education. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that when there is an election educational fitness is the very last thing which is thought of, and the candidate is elected because he belongs to a particular party, and not for his educational knowledge. These elections are used by the party organisations as a sort of rehearsal in bringing electors to the poll, and except for that very few would go at all and the result is that the number who go to the poll is infinitesimally small.
In conclusion, may I just object to the picture which the right hon. Gentleman drew of the way in which this scheme will work? He drew a, picture of disaster at every corner. In the first place, the Board of education will not be altered at all. They will go on just as heretofore, and exercise all the powers and influence they tow exercise. The local authority, the County Council, will decide upon all the questions of finance. It will decide particular questions of policy, and it will leave the actual execution of its will to the Statutory Committee, upon which it commands a majority. Why should the right hon. Gentleman think this arrangement will break down; it has not broken down under the Technical instruction Acts. Under the Technical Instruction Acts, I think in every county in England and Wales except two, a Technical Instruction Committee has been appointed. The Technical instruction Committee has acted without a hitch; without any friction or difficulty whatever with the County Councils, and why the right hon. Gentleman presumes that in this particular case there will be all the friction and difficulty which he seems to anticipate between the County Council and the Committee I really fail to understand. There are two kinds 680 of schools. In the old board schools the County Council appoints the managers. It is true that under the Bill it is left entirely to their discretion. I hope they will take representative people—the chairman of the Parish Council or some members of the District Councils, or one of the members residing in the district, or some one, at all events, of public character where they can get them. It is left to their discretion, and wisely left to it. In the case of the voluntary schools two managers will be appointed by the religious body to which the school belongs and one by the County Council. I fail to see how you can preserve the religious character of the school unless you do that: but to say that these three managers can manage the school as they please as far as secular instruction is concerned is an entire misapprehension and mistake. They will have to obey the orders of the County Council in reference to secular instruction and the general secular management of the school exactly in the same way as the managers of the board schools.
Then the right hon. Gentleman wondered what would happen in a quarrel between this body of managers and the County Council; he thought that everything would come to an end. The County Council and the Board of Education have absolute power over the managers by the withdrawal of the grant. The Board of Education now can prevent the managers of any school doing anything outrageous or unreasonable by a threat to withdraw the grant, lint now, if the grant is withdrawn and the school closed in consequence, there is no means of replacing that school. One very often bears with a great deal in a local school because one knows that if it were closed it would be merely jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, as you would have the rural local School Board, which would be very much worse than the existing school as it is managed. But when you have a body like the County Council to deal with, there is no difficulty in making the managers of the school obey the County Council as far as they are bound to do so. Personally, I should like a little more independence if I could have it. I am not enamoured of Government interference in the details of every school. I cannot help remembering that many of the great 681 improvements in elementary education have been made by voluntary schools. For example, the manual training now obligatory in every school was originally established by a voluntary school, and that school suffered a year's diminut on of the grant for its temerity. I hope the County Councils will not exercise too rigid a supervision, and that they will give an opportunity for individuality and experiment in their schools, and will not try to make them all of one uniform pattern. I think I have shown there is no reason to anticipate that the plan proposed by the Government in the Bill will be inoperative. I feel every confidence, notwithstanding the prophecies of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that this Bill, if adopted by the House and passed into law, will make further progress in our national education possible, and will inure to the general advantage and general prosperity of the people of the country.
§ (5.20) SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
The right hon. Gentleman has said that he hopes this Bill will make a beginning of secondary education, but many of us tear that in some districts of the country it will make an end of primary education. Secondary education is a matter of which I have less knowledge than the generality of Members of this House, and the subject was so admirably dealt with by my right hon. friend who opened this debate that it is not necessary that I should attempt to enter upon it. What I want to ask the House to consider is the, absolutely destructive nature of the Bill as it affects primary education in the rural districts. With regard to higher education, it must strike all of us that if the Rural Councils—which, according to the right hon. Gentleman, are not very great friends of education—are to lake up successfully and improve higher education, it will be at the expense of primary, If primary education is forced upon them by this Bill, by the withdrawal of the voluntary clause, it will certainly be secondary education which will suffer. My hon. friend the Member for Essex and those who are afraid of the extension of rates in the counties will see to that. With the farmers, and even with 682 the landowners, it is not the Vice-President of the Council, nor the First Lord of the Treasury, who is the demigod; it is the man who says that the rates will be reduced. The men of whom they stand in terror are the men who will increase the rates, and under this Bill in the rural districts, the control of both primary and secondary education being thrown upon the County Councils, who will be under the fear of the farmers and the increase of the rates, I am convinced that any improvement of the one will be at the expense of the other, and that the result of the Bill will be to cause primary education to decline still further so far as it is under the County Council.
The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the Bill, spoke of our position as compared with that of other countries, and he used these words—From the example of America. …. or any other country which devotes itself to educational problems, I am forced to the conclusion that ours is the most antiquated and the most ineffectual method.Now, my constituents and many people whom I know in the rural districts are convinced that under this Bill we are going off the lines of educational progress in other countries, and that we are going to make our education even more antiquated and out of date than it has been hitherto. I am afraid I should shock the House if I were to tell them what my constituents think of this Bill. My Conservative opponents, as well as my supporters, have joined in the expression of the wish that I should obstruct the Bill even to the extent of being sent to the Clock Tower for my obstruction. Though I do not share in their wish as to the course to be adopted, I share to the full the horror with which they view the effect of this Bill on primary education in rural districts, and it is from that point of view I desire to consider the right hon. Gentleman's words on the introduction of the Bill. He complained of—A vast expenditure in this country which has yet left this country behind all its continental and American rivals in the matter of education.First, as regards America. We have sometimes said that, under God, the power of this country is in the Fleet. In the united States they constantly use a 683 similar expression in regard to their public school system. The foundation of all the prosperity of their country is traced by Americans to its public school system. In every State in the United States—though they differ as to ad hoc authorities—there is a public school system, contrary to that towards which we are turning in this Bill. To Americans it is inconceivable that State money should be given to the support of denominational schools. In the whole history of the United States there has been but one instance in which money was so applied. In that case it was only an isolated gift, not an annual grant; but such a tremendous outcry was raised against the breach of their principle that it led to the insertion in the constitution of every State of words making such a thing impossible in future.
This Bill is entirely off the lines of all modern educational systems, and, taking those of most interest to ourselves, off the lines adopted in the various States of the United States and in the advanced colonies—Victoria, South Australia, Now South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, and New Zealand. I have said that there is a difference with regard to ad hoc authorities, but in the matter of a common public school system there is no difference. The only exception among the chief English-speaking countries is in one province of the Dominion, where a State grant to Roman Catholic schools was a portion of the promises made at Confederation. The States differ, however, as to the local authority. Some cases, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, have the ordinary local authority, but in no case is it a local authority so distant from the people, and therefore so little representative of the local ratepayers, as the English authority which this Bill proposes to set up. In the United States, outside boroughs, where there is not an ad hoc authority, the authority is generally one answering to the Parish or District Council. Therefore, when the Leader of the House appealed to foreign example, he appealed to an authority which is entirely against him. He named the United States, but he neglected our own colonies, which, to use his own words, "have devoted themselves to educational problems." He has himself shown us, I think, that his Bill will take us off the lines of any system such as we can find 684 in our colonies, which have done such great things in advance of us in education, and which we might well imitate. I fully admit that a national system in the sense of the system which exists in the United States or in Australia is past praying for. I admit what the right hon. Gentleman said as to having recognised the system of voluntary schools, but that is no reason why you should destroy what does exist, and destroy those excellent vestiges, of a public system, which is public or national, and which is educationally good, and in the rural districts the best we have. The Leader of the House also complained of our present system as being costly and wasteful. The Bill will only increase the "vast expenditure" of which he complained, because it will add to ail the present expenditure the maintenance of voluntary schools, of Church schools to be built in board school districts where they are not asked for by the population, which is satisfied with the excellent system which exists.
The Bill will undoubtedly increase the cost, but the great question before us is whether it will add to the efficiency of the schools, as the right hon. Gentleman seems to think, in board school districts. The right hon. Gentleman has just said that the present authority in Board School districts is not fitted for its task, and is not at all suited for the work. Those are grave words to use about the existing system. I know that it is now the fashion to abuse the small School Boards in rural districts, but I doubt whether that is justified to the extent to which it has been done. At all events, I shall try to show that this Bill will not cure these evils, and that there is no security given under this Bill to those rural districts. The rural county has got its work to learn. It has taken years to train the rural School Board members now administering the work of the great rural School Boards, many of whom have sat since 1870. They are men who, entirely apart from those sectarian considerations to which the right hon. Gentleman unfortunately alluded, have given their lives to education, have become thorough masters of the subject, and thoroughly competent members of the School Board. They 685 are the best men you have at present in the rural parts of the country as your security for education, and yet the right hon. Gentleman attacks them in this unmerciful way, and tells them that they are not competent for their task.
In the Western counties, the County Education Committee is likely to resemble the Diocesan Boards which have jobbed grants to voluntary schools. Some of these rural counties are not keenly interested in education as compared with the existing School Boards in their districts. The Gloucestershire County Council only give a moiety to technical education of the money which Parliament has allowed them so to devote, and take the rest in relief of rates. Herefordshire takes more than half for the rates. I doubt whether these rural counties are likely to improve education in the abolished School Board districts, while they will destroy the accumulated educational experience of the men and women of whom these School Boards are composed. I expect more cost and less efficiency.
There are some who agree with the Government that the Bill is conceived in the interest of education. I, on the contrary, agree with those who think that it is, with one omission, the Bill of Convocation, conceived by the Archbishops, and, having an ecclesiastical, not an educational origin, calculated to promote clerical ascendancy. I ask, however, the practical question—What will be its effect upon the rural School Board districts? Take real cases, not imaginary. Take a rural parish in a rural county, with a feeble Church school, which, failing to get subscriptions from the landowners, becomes a School Board school. The incumbent becomes the Chairman, with the other four members of the "pentagonal" all Churchmen. It is a Board which consists entirely of Churchmen, and it is a district in which there are no Nonconformists. There can be no doubt that under the Bill the county will allow it to become a Church school again. The local education authority of the county will undoubtedly obtain a two-thirds majority and the consent of the Board of Education to re-transfer the school to voluntary managers. Will education gain by that change? I think not.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
I have read the Bill most carefully, and I am certain, at any rate, that this course is legally possible, and I think it would be followed. The present slight vestige of public control will he got rid of. The letter of the Colonial Secretary says we are introducing some element of popular control. In such a case we are diminishing the popular control which at present exists. The county control, such as it will be, will be less than the existing parochial control. In a second district it may he very different. It is also rural: we may have a great rural Board existing for 25,000 people, and thoroughly efficient. Why should it be destroyed and wiped out by this Bill? In my opinion it will be destroyed by the rural county, and hostile managers introduced, as against the experienced Board. This Board works well, and with popular approval, and why should it be transferred to a new authority with no knowledge whatever of the system? It appears to me that any change such as is likely to be made will be for the worse. Why should we run the risk of this? Why touch it? Why substitute for a real popular control by the directly-elected representatives of 25,000 people, the parents of the children, illusory public control of a county majority?
This second district, no doubt, contains a few struggling voluntary schools; struggling because no one in the district wants them. These will be assisted by the county to introduce a costly competition. With the bribe of the 5s. grant to voluntary schools, all future new schools will be voluntary schools, contrary to the wish of the inhabitants. The district will remain saddled with the enormous debt and the enormous rate which the sudden filling of the deficiency after 1870 occasioned. The ratepayers will not receive the large assistance which they at present receive from the grant to necessitous School Board districts. No one will receive it. It will remain in the Exchequer. West Ham will get it because it is a county borough and necessitous, but no whole rural county will be necessitous within the terms of the Act and the grant will remain in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's pocket. There will, there- 687 fore, be an increase of the rate, and a loss of the locally directed educational efficiency of which the district is proud. In April, 1897, the Leader of the House defended this grant to necessitous School Board districts in these words—This House ought to come to the relief of the necessity of those parts of the system which are really in urgent need. … The poor School Board districts … much need aid.The Duke of Devonshire, defending the Bill in another place, spoke of "the acknowledged grievance" and added—This Bill alleviates the most pressing and the most obvious grievances and inequalities.'The whole of that is swept away by the Bill, except in the case of West Ham and places in the same condition. The money is all lost to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Not a farthing of it will reach those districts in relief of rates.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think I stated in answer to a Question that that was a matter which would have to be dealt with. †
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
That means that the Government will have to propose an Amendment, I suppose, by which that money will go to the county in respect of the necessitous districts. It will not go directly to the districts.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
If it goes to the district my objection will be largely removed, but that is entirely inconsistent with the scheme of the Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: No!] I am glad to hear that one hon. Member appears to think that it is consistent with the scheme of the Bill. But that is not the Bill as it is drawn, and as it now stands for Second Reading at the present time. This is a matter that will interest my right hon. friend the Member for West Monmouthshire. The necessitous grant grew out of debate on the Amendment moved on 7th July, 1870, by the right hon. Gentleman, that half the deficiency in the school rate should be directly contributed by a State grant. This will also interest my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Essex because it concerns the rates. On this proposal Mr. Forster promised "to† See preceding Volume, page 286.688 give exceptional aid to districts where exceptional poverty prevailed." I voted with my right hon. friend. It was a curious division; the Education League and Sir S. Northcote and the farmers, Mr. Pell, and Mr. Clare Sowell Reade, combined forces and only polled twenty-two. If the House really finds a way out of its difficulty by rushing at and plundering the Chancellor of the Exchequer without altering the whole machinery of the Bill so far as local control is concerned, it will only have increased the expenditure and the trouble of our system of education without having found the truly national system of which I speak. The grant of 1897 was a mere necessary extension of Mr. Forster's clause.
There is another matter that I should like to put before the House. In the rural School Board districts there are large classes of workmen deeply interested in education. It is the interest of their children which is at stake. In the case of such admirably efficient rural School Board districts as the last which I have described, the miners of all parts of England and Wales are largely interested. At the present moment they are represented in positions of real power by their labour members on such Boards. Let me take up the amazing statement made by the Vice-President of the Council that infinitely more electors take part in the County Council elections than the School Board elections. I absolutely deny that so far as the southwest districts are concerned. There the County Council elections are uncontested, but the people there take the deepest interest in education, and they return to the School Boards those who represent their views with regard to the education they want for their children. There is not the slightest security that, as regards many of the counties, they will be so represented in the future. In the County of Durham, of course, they will. They have the County Council in their own hands. But who can pretend that this will be so even in Derbyshire, let alone Somersetshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, and many other rural districts which contain coal mines? The same argument is applicable to many rural districts where the population consists largely of miners and persons, engaged in small manufactures, who take 689 the deepest interest in education. The position of manager of one school in the district which you offer as an alternative for the control of education over a great district in which they are interested will be a mockery to them, and yon will lose the services of those men who have done so much to bring the district into touch with the educational system of the country. It may be said that the County Committee will place those men on the managing bodies of the schools. We have just heard from the Vice President of the Council what the functions of those managers will be. The County Committee will be a body like the Joint Standing Committee, which has control of the police—a body out of touch with the people of the district. It is to have absolute control of primary education, and the school managers, who have the confidence of their fellows, will not be able to bring to the educational work of their districts the same amount of useful work which they are at present able to bestow in connection with the School Boards.
The great defence of this Bill has been that education ought to be in the hands of the rating authority. In his introductory speech the Leader of the House throughout spoke of the wisdom of handing over control to the rating authority. The County Council is not "the" rating authority. It is "a "rating authority. But the sanitary authority is more of the rating authority than is the County Council. The County Council is not, as the Leader of the House called it, the rating authority of the district." In some cases, the destruction to which I have alluded—destruction of efficiency—could be avoided by handing over the control to a very large Parish Council, or in others to a District Council, with the result that pretty much the same persons as now would control education. It would be less dangerous than the handing it over to the distant county authority. But the difficulty cannot thus be wholly avoided. Some of the best districts are united districts, where the School Board runs over not only different parishes but different rural districts. One of the most extraordinary assumptions in this connection of the Leader of the House was that the School Board spends without control, and that the 690 county is the rating authority which will spend with control. The exact opposite is the case. The county is virtually out of reach and uncontrollable, as compared with the School Board, which is elected in the district for the district which pays, and the triennial election for which is a real contest, while the overwhelming majority of the county elections are uncontested, distinguished magistrates and landowners being elected as a matter of course, even in districts with which they are not in political or religious sympathy. When the County Councils were brought into existence the process which should have been resorted to was inverted. There was a Bill once prepared which I knew well, though it never saw the light, in which the Parish and District Council proposals of 1893 were united with the county proposals carried in the 1886 Parliament. The carrying of the county proposals first and by themselves threw upon the county much which had better have been thrown upon the parish or the district. The result as applied to this Bill is that the county is not sufficiently in touch with the smaller districts, and when the Leader of the House declares that the authority "responsible for the heavy cost to the ratepayers should be the rating authority of the district," and boasts of the managing committees "that they will not have to go through this elaborate electoral process," he means that control will be taken out of the hands of the real rating authority of the district, and the rates placed at the disposal of little meddling bodies of amateurs. The Leader of the House seemed to think that it is almost an advantage that you should not have what he calls this elaborate electoral process. He claimed it as credit for the Bill that it would put an end to School Board elections. There is no means of bringing home responsibility in these matters except by local elaborate electoral process. It is brought home at the present time by the School Board system, but it is not brought home in the same way where the elections are largely controlled in the way I have described. Popular control means that the voice of the locality should be heard. Under this Bill the 691 voice of the locality will only be heard in protest after every act that has been done in the district against its wish.
My hon. friend the Member for North Camberwell made a speech at Reading the other day. I am glad to hear that, as he was too briefly reported, he did not say that there is "nothing antidemocratic" in the new authority—It was the proposal of Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Forster themselves in their Bill of 1870 as submitted to the House of Commons.
DR. MAGNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)
I said that there was nothing antidemocratic in going to the Rural Council.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
I am not combating what the hon. Member said. I am trying to explain and make clear the views entertained and expressed by him. And then he went on to say that—The idea of creating an education authority was the result of an Amendment in Committee; and, curiously enough, though that idea was warmly championed by Radicals of today, it was hotly opposed in 1870 by such men as Mr. George Dixon, Mr. Mundella, and Mr. W. E. Forster.The Amendment which I moved in 1870 was for direct election by the ratepayers. It was supported by the Radicals of that day as well as of this day; by the Member for West Monmouthshire, by the noble Lord the Member for the Calne Division, and by every member of the Education League in the House except the President, Mr. Dixon. When the Government, after beating me by 150 to 115, gave way and accepted my Amendment, Mr. Dixon again divided against it, and ail the Radicals except Dr. Playfair, who was like my hon. friend the Member for Haddington, an educational expert more than a friend of popular control, again voted with us. The Radicals of 1870 did not support the Education Bill as introduced. We asked then, as we ask now, for a real popular control, instead of an illusory popular control. The Radicals fought a tremendous fight against the Bill, and the result of that fight was the defeat of the Liberal Government in 1874. After the renewal of the struggle, over Lord Sandon's Bill of 1876, the compromise of 1870 was distinctly accepted, and our complaint is that since 1895 it has 692 gradually been broken down in the interest of a non-national system.
As regards the future, I confess that unless the Bill is greatly altered, I have little hope of the improvement of education in the rural districts. The Bill will destroy what exists of efficiency there. I know that there are men in the County Councils who, if the matter were left to them, would have a very high standard both of primary and secondary education, but they will be in the hands of the farmers, who will try to keep down and cut down the rates, and I am more than doubtful whether they will give us the efficiency in rural education which they are taking from us now. The change of system is not one which is introduced for the poor at the wish of the poor, because it is the poor who send their children to these schools. This is a measure introduced by the rich for what they wish for the poor. This is not a national demand. I am convinced that the national demand is for a public system—such as we have in our own colonies. If we resist this Bill here, it is not in the name of sectarianism, as the Vice-President of the Council seeks to make out. So far as the rural districts are concerned—of the feeling of which I have made myself a master more than that of the town districts—we resist it on the ground of educational efficiency. That, we believe, is at stake in the present Bill, and we ask you not to destroy that which is good at the present time, and hand us over, in the majority of the counties, to what we conceive to be a retrograde educational course.
§ (6.4.) SIR RICHARD JEBB (Cambridge University)
In a Second Reading debate it is not unnatural that the opponents of a large measure should insist a good deal upon details or else indulge in generalities, which often enter the region of prophecy. I think I perceived both tendencies tonight, more especially in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen, to whom the House always listens with the attention due to his distinguished ability and achievements. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of His Majesty's Government as a Cyclops, meaning by that, presumably, that whatever may be 693 the position of the Opposition, the Government saw with a single eye. At any rate, we are all agreed that on the Second Reading of a Bill of this kind, it is very important to keep the main aspects of the Bill in view.
What are those main objects? It aims at setting up one local authority for both elementary and secondary education in a manner which will co-ordinate the one with the other. It is true that the elementary part of the Bill is permissive, but in view of the almost universal opinion disclosed in the country during the past month, I suppose it is not too rash to think that before the Bill is passed that part of it will be made compulsory. Then the local authority can supply, or aid in supplying, higher or secondary education in its area. It can also secure the efficiency of all elementary schools—whether denominational or undenominational. As to religious instruction, it is the intention of the Bill that facilities should be given, so that, so far as possible, every parent who desires religious teaching for his children should get the kind of religious teaching he prefers. Now. I would ask leave to consider very briefly some of the objections which have been stated to the Bill. The first is that which concerns the nature and constitution of the local authority. The Vice President of the Council has dealt very fully with the reasons why we should have only one local authority for all kinds of education, and that that should be the County and the Borough Council rather than the School Board. But exception has been taken to the principle of unity in local educational control. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen has argued that the areas for secondary education are too large for elementary education. A county containing a population of half a million might be a suitable area for secondary education, and a town of 10,000 for elementary, but not vice versa. But those who raise that objection have overlooked Clause 12, sub-section 3, under which any Council mayfor all or any purposes of the Act provide for the constitution of a separate Education Committee for any area within a county.That Committee may be given elementary powers only. The words "for all or any purposes" secure that.
§ SIR RICHARD JEBB
It is also said that the problems of elementary and secondary education are different. Of course that is a very wide subject; but under Clause 12, sub-section 2, provision is made for the presence on the Education Committees of persons experienced in education, and acquainted with various kinds of schools within the area. Special knowledge of secondary education, and special knowledge of elementary education, may both he represented on the same Committee. Then, the objection, has been made that since the new local authorities, the County and Borough Councils, are to act, except for financial purposes, through Education Committees, they will thereby lose touch with the people. The educational policy of the Committees, it is argued, will not be subject to review by the whole body of ratepayers. Now, in the first place, one might ask how far docs the general body of the ratepayers possess effective power of reviewing the policy of a School Board which is elected by a cumulative vote, and very often on issues mainly sectarian and economic, or anything rather than purely educational? It is surely clear that a judgment on educational policy is a matter that demands some knowledge, and that the general body of the ratepayers may not be the best judges. On the other hand, it is equally clear that the ratepayers have the undoubted right to control the expenditure of their own money. Now, that right is secured to them under the Bill, which reserves to them the power of the purse and the power of making schemes, through the Councils—bodies elected on a more democratic basis than the School Board, and therefore more representative. It is surely trifling with words to argue that the ratepayers lose local control over education because the County and Borough Councils act for all but financial purposes through Education Committees which are responsible to these Councils, and which an; chosen for that special purpose. I should have thought that that would have been a recommendation to those who attach value to the ad hoc principle. The County and Borough Councils raise money for education from the rates, and entrust 695 the spending of it to the Education Committees. The House of Commons votes money for education from the taxes, and allocates it through the Board of Education. Will it be argued that the taxpayers have no control over that educational expenditure because it does not appoint the Board of Education? Again, the House votes money for the Army and the Navy, but will it be said that the taxpayer has no control over that expenditure because he is not directly consulted in regard to the details of naval and military administration?
Then it is said that women, who have been such invaluable members of the School Boards, will be excluded from the new Education Committees. Why on earth should they be excluded? On the contrary, there is every reason to hope that they will find a place on these Committees. For my part, I hold very strongly that women should have a place on all Education Committees; and I hope that, if there is any doubt as to the word "persons" in clause 12 including women, when we come to Committee that point will be made clear. It is somewhat illogical on the part of the opponents of the Bill to object to the laying of fresh duties on the County and Borough Councils, which, they say, have already too much to do; and, at the same time, to object to these Councils delegating part of their work to Committees.
Again, it is said that the Bill will do nothing for secondary education; that part of the Bill is merely permissive; there is no compulsion. I have seen it argued that the Bill in this respect may be unfavourably compared with the Welsh Intermediate Act of 1889, which lays definite duties on the local authorities, and provides that Treasury grants shall be made to assist local effort. The comparison is irrelevant. There is no similarity between the position in England at the present moment and that in Wales before 1889. The funds in Wales available for secondary education were few and small, and a secondary education system had practically to be created from the beginning. In England the endowments for secondary education are numerous and large; and secondary education, though very far indeed from being properly organised, is, at any rate, more highly developed and more widely 696 diffused than it was in Wales before 1889. In my judgment the Government have been wise in leaving to the new local authorities a perfectly free hand as to the manner in which they will provide for the encouragement of secondary education. I agreed with the Vice-President of the Council when he said that if you tried to lay down hard and fast rules it would be impossible to make them applicable to all places; and then you would have to define what was meant by secondary education. But how is it likely that the Bill will actually work for the purposes of secondary and higher education? The Vice President has told us how active, zealous, and efficient the County and Borough Councils have been in this field since funds were placed at their disposal. They have done a great deal for technical education, and also for secondary education in the larger sense. Is it likely that this zeal and activity shall suddenly cease at the moment when Parliament invites them to continue, to enlarge and to systematise the work which they have so effectively begun and prosecuted? That is an extravagant supposition; and there is a flaw in the reasoning of those who make it. The same pessimists who prophesy that the County and Borough Councils will fold their hands and do nothing more for secondary or higher education tell us that the paramount need of the country is the improvement of secondary and higher education. They tell us, and truly, that the general feeling of the country was never so keenly alive to a necessity of organising our secondary education as it is at the present moment. But the general feeling of the country is that of the ratepayers. The ratepayers elect the Councils. How can it reasonably be assumed that the Councils will not continue to exert themselves for the improvement of secondary education? That argument implies that, although everybody desires the improvement of secondary education, yet no one will use the means when they are placed at his disposal. I venture to think that under this Bill the County and Borough Councils will continue to do good work, and I hope better work, for secondary education.
Now as to the elementary schools, on which I shall be very brief. 697 It has been objected that the Bill gives no pledge for efficiency in elementary education, and that, as regards our rural schools in particular, which are the weakest part of our system, no general improvement can be anticipated. That prophecy ignores, as the Vice-President has said, the power vested in the central authority. Means will be placed by this Bill at the disposal of the local authorities, and the central authority can therefore insist that the work shall be done. I cannot understand why it should be suggested that the central stimulus hitherto provided from Whitehall is likely to be weakened. The powers to be given to the local authorities are not deducted from the powers of the central authority. The central authority retains its powers unimpaired, and could not abnegate them even if it wished to do so. Further, the Councils are responsible to the ratepayers. Let us consider what that implies. Suppose that in one part of a Council's area the elementary schools are satisfactory, and in another part are not satisfactory. Is it not practically certain that the ratepayers in the district where schools are not satisfactory will insist on these schools being made as good as the schools of their neighbours? If it be said that approximate equality of treatment would mean practically levelling down, the answer is twofold: first, that the ratepayers in a district where the schools are satisfactory will not suffer the efficiency of their schools to be reduced to some lower standard in the same administrative area; and secondly, that the central authority—the Board of Education—will not tolerate any such general lowering of efficiency. It is their first duty to see that nothing of the kind occurs.
Now I come to a topic which has been rather avoided tonight, but which I do not mean to avoid: that is, the objection that no rate aid should be given to a denominational school. In touching on this topic I am most anxious to say no word which could possibly offend the feelings or convictions of hon. Gentlemen who differ from us on this question. My one desire is to state the case, as it appears to me, frankly and fairly; and I feel sure that 698 I shall not ask in vain for consideration in the same fair and friendly spirit. We must first recognise the broad facts of the situation. Whatever we may think of denominational schools, they exist, and they will remain. As we have been reminded, there are now about 14,000 of them, as against 8,000 in 1870, and they educate more than half the children of the country who are under elementary instruction. But many of them are inefficient, although great efforts have been made in the way of subscription; and the problem is how to make and keep them efficient. Now the religious instruction given in the board schools is satisfactory to great numbers of people. No one wishes to say that it is not good of its own kind. I certainly do not mean to say so. But it is also true that there are other large numbers of people whom it does not satisfy. Here I wish to point out a fallacy which, as it seems to me, underlies much of the reasoning on this subject. That fallacy consists in arguing as if the reason why denominationalists are not satisfied with the religious instruction in board schools is simply that it does not go far enough. The case is sometimes put in effect thus: all people who are not atheists agree up to a certain point; up to another point there is agreement among all Christians; very well; let all Christians, at any rate, go together as far as they can; if beyond that point they desire, instruction in doctrine wholly or partly distinctive of a particular church, then they must provide it for themselves. The answer which is given by many members of the Church of England and by others also is this; that the reason why religious instruction in board schools is not satisfactory to them is not simply because it does not go far enough. We hold, rightly or wrongly, that religious instruction is not likely to be effectual unless it is definite, and what is called distinctive; it must contain some element of that which was excluded by the Cowper-Temple Clause. The view of those who are satisfied with religious teaching given in board schools is, in our opinion, essentially distinct from ours. It is a difference in kind; not merely a question of more or less. In this sense, 699 therefore, the view which is satisfied by the religious instruction given in Board schools is practically, though not in name, a denominational view.
How stand the facts? For thirty-two years the religious instruction, as well as the secular instruction, in board schools has been defrayed from the rates. Those rates have been paid by Church of England people, Roman Catholics and others, who from conscientious reasons cannot make use of the board schools, and have maintained voluntary schools of their own. The secular system was tried, as we were reminded the other day, in Birmingham nearly thirty years ago. The second Birmingham School Board, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Colonies was Chairman, tried the experiment of purely secular schools, and it was the Nonconformists who would not tolerate them. May not denominationalists fairly say now, "For thirty-two years we have been paying unconditionally for the kind of religious instruction that suits you; why should you protest, if we ask, under reasonable conditions, for some aid towards the system of religious instruction that suits us?" And what are the conditions? The capital value of the voluntary school buildings represents about £26,000,000, and if those voluntary schools perished and had to be replaced, that would cost many millions more. These buildings are placed by the managers at the disposal of the local authority. The managers are also to be responsible for their upkeep and repair, and for modifying or enlarging them, as may be required by the local authority. Critics of the Bill have ignored the capital value of the buildings altogether, and have made light of the condition as to the upkeep, etc., saying that it represents only from one-tenth to one-eighth of the total cost of maintenance. I do not know by what process of arithmetic or imagination it has been found possible to fix a fraction which would be approximately constant in all cases. But will we assume, for the purposes of argument, that one-tenth or one-eighth is correct. That fraction represents more than the proportion of the expenditure from the rates that will go for religious instruction in 700 the schools. As the managers also provide the buildings, the bargain cannot be considered a bad one for the ratepayers. Now as to the managers. The local authorities have power to appoint one-third of the managers. It may be asked, why not more than that—why only one third if you mean to give us local control? The answer is, that if these schools are to remain denominational—and it is assumed that they are to remain so—there must be some guarantee that the teachers appointed shall be such as shall command, the confidence of the denomination. May I quote a few words of an eminent member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the President of the Wesleyan Training College at Westminster, from the Methodist Recorder of April 24th? He says—If the right of appointing teachers is taken away from the Committee of the denominational school, you destroy the denominational character of the school.That is true: and this Bill safeguards the appointment of teachers by giving a veto on educational grounds to the local authority. It also gives power of dismissal under Clause 8. I am told that under that clause the local authority would have power to dismiss a teacher on educational grounds. The real control, however, rests not with the managers but with the local authorities. They have power to fix the curriculum, to arrange the time tables, to determine the salaries of the teachers and the nature of the appliances of every kind to be used in the schools. They can hold an inspection of the schools. Finally, they have the veto on the appointment of teachers, and the power of dismissal, If that is not giving complete control, I do not know what is.
Here I may answer another question which has been raised. What purpose is served by the local authority appointing one-third of the managers? The answer is, that that brings in the element of publicity and criticism. There can no longer be any privately managed school. The local authority, as I have attempted to show, has complete control, both financial and educational.
Now I will touch very shortly on the point raised as to the provision of new schools. It has been alleged that the provisions of the Bill will favour the 701 establishment of denominational schools rather than undenominational. I can see no ground for that prediction unless it be the assumption that the local authority will prefer to set up a denominational school, because it will be built at the cost of the denomination asking for it. But under Clause 10 the local authority has to consider other things besides economy; it has to consider the interests of secular instruction, and the wishes of the parents. But that is not all. The Board of education is the umpire. They have to decide if a school is necessary; and, if it is necessary, what kind of a school it is to be. This clause as to the new schools is intended to meet, and docs to a, certain extent meet, a grievance which has long been felt by Nonconformists and sometimes by others also. It has been welcomed by some of the Wesleyan Methodists.
§ SIR RICHARD JEBB
I only mention the fact that it was received with approval by many influential and representative Wesleyans. I may observe in passing that the remedy suggested by this clause is not the only possible remedy. Clause 27 in the Act of 1896, providing for special religious teaching in a school on the demand of a reasonable number of parents, could be applied. Or we might withdraw the children from the schools during the religious instruction hour, and give them religious instruction somewhere else. But the remedy suggested in the Bill appears to me to be a fair one, and I believe it to be a workable one.
The last point to which I shall refer is the training of the teachers. It is made the subject of a complaint against the Bill that it has made no direct reference to the training of teachers But that is a form of education other than elementary: and therefore under Clause 2 the local authority can provide for it. The reason of the absence of more explicit provision for the training of teachers is, I presume, that the framers of the Bill wish to leave the local authority perfectly free to adopt such methods as they think necessary. The local authority is 702 responsible to Whitehall and to the ratepayers for the efficiency of the elementary schools, and would therefore have the strongest motive for having the teachers properly trained. One method would be to provide maintenance scholarships by which a pupil might pass from an elementary to a secondary school. Nothing is more important than that teachers should receive their training largely in secondary schools. For my part, I welcome such possibilities, because they tend to provide a remedy for a grievance keenly felt by Nonconformists, that in many places Nonconformists cannot be admitted as pupil teachers. That is a real grievance. Personally I should be glad if in Church Elementary Schools some pupil-teacher places could be reserved for Nonconformists under a conscience clause. I should also welcome some further provision of undenominational training colleges.
I thank the House for having allowed me to say thus much. I do not claim perfection for the Bill. I do not doubt that it may be improved in Committee. But it seems to me essentially a good Bill, framed on the right lines, and marking a great advance. I believe that, so far from weakening, it will greatly strengthen the popular interest in education. I do not think that it will promote a strife of creeds; of that there has often been too much in School Board elections. I rather hope that the country will see in this Bill an honest and earnest attempt to provide for a great national need in a way fair and just to all. I hope that the experience gathered by the great School Boards will be brought by many of their able and energetic members to the Education Committees. The best proof that in our day new machinery is needed is the fact that the best School Boards, acting from motives excellent in themselves, have been driven to exceed their legal powers, and to undertake work for which they were not originally constituted. I hope that the debate in all its stages will be conducted, as it has been begun, in a conciliatory spirit, in a spirit of mutual for bearance and generous prudence, in a spirit worthy of the best traditions of the House, worthy of the great interests with which we are 703 dealing, and of the nation on whose destinies our deliberations may exert a lasting and far-reaching influence.
§ (6.41) MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)
On this side of the House we always listen with genuine pleasure to the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. This has not been an exception to the rule. With his eloquent concluding words we all agree, and, if we do not share his sanguine anticipations as to the working out of some parts of the Bill, at least we all recognise the genuineness and earnestness of his desires for educational reform. While I associate myself with many of the powerful criticisms of my right hon. friend the Member for South Aberdeen, which have not, in my opinion, been adequately dealt with, and while I feel with him that this Bill is not all that we might have expected after the interval since 1895, in which a Government with a very powerful majority has been in office, I do not in all respects approach this question from the same point of view. Nor do I share the fears of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean. I think that public opinion has been awakened on this Bill with extraordinary rapidity, and that, imperfect as it is, and bad as in many respects is the machinery it offers, it presents an instrument which that public opinion will show itself capable of wielding, and by means of which a real and substantial advance may be made in the only direction in which education could progress.
Now I may be asked why I should have anything but a feeling of opposition towards a Bill of this kind. Sir, I feel that this question of education cannot be left standing as it is. It is a question which affects the national life, and I, for my part, feel that it is one of great urgency. You cannot keep the question of education standing at this moment. It is a question far beyond sects and priests, whether of conformity or nonconformity; it is a question which affects the national life in a manner which is fraught with urgency. There is nothing more striking than the extent to which people are more and more realising the importance of education, not only in 704 every Department of Government, but in every department of industrial and commercial life. We have a great Empire, a great Navy, and a great position among the nations. That position depends upon the enormous volume of our trade and commerce. That volume of trade and commerce came to us in a time when we had practically no competitors, when the courage and energy of our people were able to make themselves manifest, with splendid results in the way of success, without the competition and hindrance which we now experience. But all that is changed. Nations have come up, furnished in a way that we are not, with education and technical training which we do not possess; and it is vital to our interests, essential to our position as a nation, and necessary for the preservation of our commerce, our Navy, and our Empire, that we should put ourselves on the same footing as those nations are on. But we cannot do it at a stroke. We have that task before us, and the sooner we set about it the better. The educational system of Germany took sixty years to build up, and I feel that we must not lose any opportunity which offers of making some start, at least, of a substantial kind in the right direction.
It is not necessary for me to dwell tonight upon the contrast between our position and that of other countries. In the United States, as has already been said, education is in a very varying condition; in some States it is organised as in this country, in others wholly different. Chaotic as, in many respects, are the educational arrangements of the United States, it is at least apparent that tremendous strides have been made with in the last few years and are being made at the present time. We cannot afford to neglect the example of the United States, with its multiplication of Universities, its splendid high schools organised sometimes by the State and sometimes; by private effort, which are giving to the people of that country education such as they did not possess twenty years ago. We have, too, to contrast our system with that of a small country like Switzerland, where education has been on a scientific basis for a long time 705 past, and with the still more remarkable system prevailing in Germany. The Consular Reports on Education now published are very striking, and in nothing are they more striking than in the evidence they give of the remarkable effect of education on the continent upon industries. We had a remarkable speech in the House the other day from the hon. and learned Member for the Launceston division, showing the enormous difference which technical knowledge had made in the brewing industry. That was a striking example, but you have only to turn to Germany to find half-a-dozen cases in which the training of experts and the turning out of young experts has made a difference of an equally striking character in other industries. Take, for instance, the beet sugar industry. We hear in this country that Protection is assisting Ger many in her great sugar industry. Whether that is so or not, the main element that has helped her has been the enormously increased skill which the experts there employed have been able of late years to bring upon the output, and by so doing enormously to increase that output. Then, again, contrast the condition of the chemical trade in Germany and in this country. The Tyne used to have upon its banks chemical works, full of industry, which now are in a semi-deserted condition; while Germany has forged ahead, because her system of education has been adapted to meet what is essential to that great industry—the training of experts, without whom it is impossible to progress. It is that which takes from us more and more such industries as the colour industries and others that we have seen slipping through our fingers during the last decade. Take Prussia. In the last thirty years that country has increased her expenditure on education in a degree which perhaps is not relatively greater than ours—we have increased ours to an enormous extent—but Prussia has increased her educational expenditure in some branches five-fold, and in others twenty-fold. But it has had this striking feature—that everywhere that increase has taken place on an organised plan. In this country a great sum of money is expended by the State, under some Acts. For whose benefit? For the benefit of 706 the voluntary schools, isolated and taken apart from the rest of the educational system. At another time we tyke up something else, and deal with it in a patch-work fashion. Thus it comes about that our expenditure has been made in the last few years in a fashion—not like that of the Germans, dominated and permeated by the influence of some end to be realised and kept in view right through—but on a piece-meal or patchwork system, with the result that we have not had the advantages we ought to have had for our money, and are far behind the position in which we ought to be.
I want to approach the criticism of this Bill in the light of what it seems to me the Government should have been trying to do for the last seven years, and I shall deal, first, with what would have been the ideal system for this country, and then with that which we actually have. To my mind, the ideal system would be, not one which treats—as some hon. Members on this side think we can treat—secondary education apart from primary. There are those who suggest that only secondary education should have been dealt with in this Bill, and that elementary education should have been left to be dealt with separately. I totally differ from them. Education is an organic whole, you can no more separate secondary from primary education than you can separate the head from the hand. The two belong to the same life. Education ought to be treated as an organic whole, and the parts correlated the one with the other. You want an organic whole, in which you would have primary, secondary and tertiary education—of which we get too little in our system—linked together and permeated from the top with the intention of the university and not the spirit of the church. More than that. Not only would I have the three kinds of education linked, but after a thorough system of elementary education—which, I agree with the Vice-President must be the foundation of everything above it—I should like to see what is so remarkably apparent in Germany and Switzerland, and is becoming apparent in the United States, viz., an opportunity given to would-be students to follow out either of two courses in higher education. There 707 should be the opportunity to choose either culture, for culture's sake, the training for a profession, the general training of learning, or that special kind of training which is necessary for the proper equipment of the captain of industry, and which consists in the application of scientific knowledge to industry. There ought to be that choice, and students should be taken to secondary schools of different kinds according as they chose the one or the other course, which should land them at the end in the tertiary system—something corresponding to the university on the one hand, or those other kinds of universities now so well known on the continent, which are so strikingly equipped by the German Government, and which constitute a distinctive feature of the modern system of education—mean those great technical high schools, which in Germany turn out a stream of experts every year, sending them into the industries, and enabling people to have at their command a constant flow of young trained students who can be set to work in the great factories and processes.
The ideal of treating education as an organic whole involves a single educational authority. I am convinced that you cannot make more progress after the stage we have reached, unless you put primary and secondary education together under one authority. That feature in this Bill I hail. Unless that principle is adopted you will find yourself embarrassed, not only by over lapping, but by contradictions, because your educational system will be ad ministered by two bodies of people in a different spirit, and with different purposes in view, with the result that the one system will not fit in with the other. Then there is another thing about the ideal system. Let me first recapitulate. Primary, secondary, tertiary, all linked together and co-ordinated, with the double aim or choice making itself apparent as soon as the student passes the elementary, under a single authority—that is essential. But here the continental example ceases to be of use to us. You cannot adopt the State the Government—as your authority, as has successfully been done abroad. You must take the splendid foundation of 708 local government—which is one of the greatest successes of this country, and is the genius of our people—and erect your educational structure upon that foundation. I am sure that would be good not only for education but also for local government. Local government begins to show signs of getting uninteresting; I shall not be sorry if there is a little of the new sort of controversy brought into the elections; it will get rid of much of the deadness that has come over local government in some parts of the country. We have heard from my right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean that the County Councils are getting into the hands of the country gentlemen and the farmers. I agree with him, but I would like to see them get more into the hands of the educationists.
Now I come to another point. It is absolutely essential that something should be done to complete the system which we have, and without which completion that System cannot be made really effective. In this country when you pass secondary education you have nothing of which the State takes any account. The Vice-President of the Council spoke as though it were really no duty of the State to provide secondary education in the same sense as primary, and as though everything beyond that were more the concern of private individuals. That has not been the experience abroad. If we are to have a system of education which will save our national life and our commerce, we must go a good deal farther than that. I think the university element—the tertiary element—in our system of education is a vital and essential one. That is a matter upon which we are very backward. We are backward on both sides of the House in this matter. When I remember that Germany, with a population of 55,000,000, has twenty-two universities, and if you count the new technical high school which has been set up at Dantzic, eleven universities of applied science, or altogether at least thirty two institutions of university rank, I grieve to think that England, with a population of 31,000,000, has only seven. I do not wonder our educational system is in so backward a condition. 709 In this matter I think we want awakening on this side of the House quite as much as upon the other side. Those of us who were interested in the Bill creating a teaching university for London will remember that when we were debating this question in the House we had some opposition raised as to such a teaching university being unnecessary and out of place. When I hear speeches like that made and see articles such as I see sometimes in the newspapers, I do think that at this time of day there is plenty of room for waking up. I do not believe that you can do anything with the system unless you deal with tertiary education as well as primary and secondary education. We need a much larger provision of that element to permeate the whole of our educational system. Take for example West and East of England. Bristol and the rest of England has got absolutely no university at all. I know there are colleges which are doing admirable work. The East of England has got nothing at all in this direction. In order to get the kind of education which I feel is a vital necessity at this moment, it seems to me that we require, in each of a number of districts into which the country ought to be divided, some authority of the university type which ought to do three things. In the first place it ought to train teachers. There is no provision to train teachers in this Bill, but I notice that there is a power in a late clause of the Bill which gives the education authority of the county or county borough power to enter into an arrangement with outside bodies for the training of teachers. That is the only provision made for the training of teachers in this Bill.
§ MR. HALDANE
I am aware of these exceptional cases, and I am glad of them, because we are shockingly short at the present time in our teaching supplies. I should like to see every educational district possess a university authority, and I should like to see that authority undertake the 710 training of teachers. I do not mean that there should be such an authority in every educational district under the Bill but I will give an illustration of what I mean. At the present time Birmingham, which has got a new university doing admirable work, is showing signs of a very striking development of this nature. The university authorities in Birmingham have entered into an arrangement with the two adjacent counties of Worcestershire and Staffordshire, as well as with the city of Birmingham itself, and they are training teachers: and there is every indication that before long they will become a real educational authority in that district. In the same way Liverpool might deal with one-half of Lancashire, and Manchester might deal with the other half; and so on through the entire country. In this way you could get the Universities brought into relation with your educational system, and it seems to me that until you do this, and until this question of the training of teachers is taken up in earnest, the proposals made by a Bill of this kind, useful though they may be, must fall short in their operation. There should be no gaps left in this system, and now that we have got an Order in Council which seeks to encourage a start in the training of teachers, and which seeks to register teachers under two denominations, so that the training will be of some importance in determining into which category the teacher gets, you have got at least a foundation upon which some step forward might be made.
And surely the matter is urgent. There are 62,000 elementary teachers. Of these only 36,000 have been through the training colleges. The training colleges are forty-five in number, and all but two are denominational. I cannot but regard this state of things as deplorable. I am not bigoted as to the interference of ministers of religion in education. On the contrary, recognising that they are permeated by a strong sense of duty, I welcome their co-operation in matters of education. But there are some things they do badly, and certainly on them ought not to be left the responsibility of the training of teachers, which is no function of the Church. This question should be looked at from a 711 point of view of educational efficiency in the first place. Besides the forty-five residential training colleges, there are in this country sixteen day colleges of a university type which train some 1,200 teachers per year. In this condition of things what it comes to is that you have half your elementary teachers never having been to a training college at all, and of those who go through the colleges one-third are shut out altogether from the chance of getting that higher training which is so essential in education. Contrast this with the state of things in Germany. Here we do not train our secondary teachers at all, and it is enough if the gentleman who undertakes the duty has good credentials, came from a University, or is a clergyman. In Germany no person can be employed as a teacher who has not a certificate from the State as a trained teacher. That rule applies to every class of school, private as well as public.
What happens in setting up a secondary school in Germany? In the first place, the teachers must be certificated by the State. They must have gone through a course in an elementary school, followed by nine years in a secondary school. After being in the Army they must then be three years at the university, and one year at a seminary, and after that one or two years on probation—with the result that nobody is allowed to teach in a secondary school in Germany until he has been thoroughly trained. That applies to every class of school, both public as well as private. No wonder they get in Germany a degree of efficiency with which we have nothing to compare. I regard the question of the teachers as vital, and it is one of the shortcomings of the Bill that it makes but an inadequate provision for their training. What the schools are depends upon the teachers, and the teachers are what the law makes them. This has had a very bad effect on the elementary schools in particular, for the teachers have been driven to take too narrow a view of their function in education. This narrow view which has been taken of elementary education is one of the things which make me feel that if you are to get efficiency you can only get it under a single authority.
712 In the light of these preliminary observations, which I few have been too long, I should like now to say a few words about the Bill itself. We ought to consider this question from as wide a point of view as possible, and it is for that reason that I have tried to sketch what really appears to me to be the real idea of education, in the light of which I wish to consider what ought to be my attitude towards this Bill. You have this dilemma to start with. I agree-that the voluntary schools cannot be allowed to go on as they are at the present time. Anyone who has read of the condition of these wretched voluntary schools cannot but feel a sense of disgrace when he compares the elementary system of education in this country with what it is abroad, for here the whole system is organised in the interests of small centres instead of in the interests of a great system of education. Therefore, I am prepared to say that the voluntary schools system must be either ended or mended. The ending of them would take a long time and would entail a very great cost, considering that they are 14,000 in number and have 3,000,000 of children, and, therefore, I am in favour of mending them. The voluntary system would require a vast sum of money to replace and would involve much delay. This question, I am firmly convinced, is a national one; and not only this, but it is urgent. Therefore, as you cannot end the voluntary schools, I feel that you must mend them. For my part I think it is extremely desirable that these schools should be dealt with in such a fashion as will not only mark a substantial advance, but make it possible to secure even greater progress in the future. I sympathise slightly with the attitude of those on my own side who are against rate aid to voluntary schools, but I cannot feel a great deal of sympathy with them. Those who take up this attitude are receiving large sums for the maintenance of their own denominational training colleges and voluntary schools, and therefore they do not come to the controversy quite clean-handed. On the other hand, I feel strongly that these schools should be put under such control, if they are to be so mended, as to ensure that you shall get a return for your money.
713 I feel in this matter that we must approach this Bill with large and generous ideas. The first consideration is that you must make a step forward. You must make your elementary system more efficient. The second is that you have a number of difficulties just now which must be got over, and from an educational point of view there is the necessity of our giving primary foundation without making it so extremely difficult as at present to pass from the primary to the secondary. But there is another consideration which weighs with me as against the argument which has been put forward a good deal tonight that the new educational authorities you are proposing to set up will not be in a position to deal with secondary education adequately. Nothing has been more striking—and it has been observed by continental writers as well as our own—than the steps forward, the signs of activity and of an improved public opinion about education, that have been seen in this country in the last few years. Technical education has been taken up by the county authorities in a way that would have surprised people a few years ago, and it has carried with it a good deal of secondary education. I for one do not take a gloomy view of the capacity of the County Councils to deal with other than technical education. I approach this Bill feeling as regards the first part of it, which constitutes the single authority, and imposes the duty on this authority, that that is a good provision. When I come to the second part, I think it is a bad blot that, instead of imposing a duty with regard to secondary and technical education, it should leave things at the discretion of the local education authority. I think that is a blot, and that it is wrong to have a distinct two-penny rate as distinct from the other rate. I should like to have seen the two put together and administered as a single rate by a single authority. I think that is a defect in the Bill which you will consider when you get to the Committee stage. As regards the option to adopt Part III. of the Bill or not, that is bad; but I am not without hope, from what I hear, that there is some intention on the part of the Government to drop that option clause. Well, then, as regards Clause 8, I agree with the hon. Member who spoke last that it gives you a very much more real control than has appeared to some people 714 over the management of voluntary schools, if you get public opinion to put it in force. Everything in this Bill depends upon whether you get public opinion at your back. If you do not, you are no better than you were before, and in some respects you are worse. But if you get public opinion behind you, I feel that in this Bill there is a way forward, and that in Clause 8 there is a way of controlling and making efficient the denominational schools—a way that is worth taking into account, because it puts on the local authority not only the duty of making; education efficient, but of satisfying the people that they are getting an adequate return for their money. I own that I am surprised that the supporters of the voluntary schools should have lent themselves so easily to this control, for if I were to predict what will be the position in twenty years, I would say that there will not be a voluntary school of the old sort left in existence. The ratepayer will see that he gets value for the money spent on those schools, and I think that things will not be left in the lamentable condition some Members have imagined. As to Part IV., with respect to the constitution of the local authority, I am disposed to think it is well that there should have been a considerable degree of elasticity in the selection of members. I do not think it is a good thing to insist that the members should be mainly, or still less altogether, derived out of the County Council or other body from which they derive their finance, and which nominates them. It seems to me that both from the point of view of bringing in the university element, and enabling the local authority to got hold of those who are interested in tertiary education, and the conducting of the education of the district, and the point of view that enables you to get the best men, it is well that the selection should have been left somewhat elastic. There are other provisions in this Bill, some of which seem to me to form very formidable blots. I do not, for instance, like Clause 9. It seems to throw much of what ought to be the duty of the authority to keep education efficient, into confusion, because it puts power into the hands of the Church schools—those interested in the Church schools—which I feel they ought not to possess. I feel, for one, that Clause 9 ought to be resisted with all their strength, on the part of those who 715 desire to see education made thoroughly efficient. But, speaking generally, I feel about this Bill that it is one of which, as I have said, something may be made, if only you have public opinion, anxious and ready to make use of its opportunities. I should adopt for myself the words written the other day in a letter to The Times, by Professor Lawrie, of Edinburgh University. Writing about this Bill, from an outside point of view, and without any twist or bias one way or the other, he says—I believe I look at the whole question from the point of view solely of education, taking account, however, of the conflicting forces which the Government has to bring into cooperation. Although I am in sympathy with the Nonconformist conception of education, which is larger and more liberal than that of the Anglican Church, I cannot share then animosity to their fellow Christians. With an admixture of elected members in the managing bodies, one need not be too much alarmed at the prospect of proseltytising. Even without the amendments I have ventured to suggest, I would, speaking as a Presbyterian and an educationist, accept this Bill, because it is a step forward, not backward. It contains in it much more than appears on the surface. It is a move in the direction of the national control of all schools, and of the organisation of education generally; it tends to liberate the teacher from one-man government, and makes his tenure of office mote secure. It cannot but broaden instruction in the school; it admits of easy development by means of amending Acts; by one stroke of the pen it converts denominational schools into board schools by putting them under a council; and, finally, it is a policy of decentralisation.These views may or may not be too sanguine, but they contain an element of truth. This Bill, whatever its defects, and it has defects, at least establishes the principle of the single authority, and sweeps away certain barriers which exist; and if it docs not open up a high road along which we can advance, it, at least, breaks down some of the hedges which prevent public opinion from taking a step forward. I believe that with this Bill will come that public opinion which we shall have with us in a very short—time that public opinion which will arise from the necessity of our education and our national conditions, that public opinion which will arise from the necessity of better training for those who are engaged in our trades and industries, those who have to take an essential part in our life, and who control the future of the affairs of our people. I believe we shall have a 716 public opinion which will demand steps forward such as have not been seen in the last five and twenty years. The Hill breaks down some of the barriers which prevent that public opinion from operating at the present time. Speaking for myself, I feel that strongly. I feel that for the first time it will be possible to take steps systematically forward towards secondary education. I believe it will be possible to bring into co-operation with the authorities, people outside who are concerned in the tertiary aspects of education, and who so far have been shut out. Therefore, although the blots on the Bill will prevent me from voting for the Second Beading, I for my part cannot vote against it. I feel that this Hill is one that deserves recognition because of the chance it gives of making steps forward, and although there are defects in it—defects which I shall find myself in cordial co-operation with my hon. friends in endeavouring to remove during the Committee stage—I feel that, although I cannot bless the Bill, I can bless the idea that underlies it. If the principle is put into operation with public opinion behind it this instrument may mark a step forward along the highway of education and progress.
§ (7.28.) LORD EDMUND TALBOT (Sussex, Chichester)
I think after the debate which has taken place the country will feel convinced that there is a good deal more to be said for the efficiency of the Bill than some hon. Members opposite would have us suppose. I venture to say that, regarding this measure from the point of view of the extreme denominationalists, it is by no means an ideal Bill. A Bill by which the only people who can have a school built and maintained for them at the public expense are those who are satisfied with a modicum of indefinite religious teaching, or with no religious teaching whatever, cannot be regarded as ideal from a denominationalist point of view. It is remarkable that in a State which officially recognises Christianity, in which a form of Christianity is established and maintained by law, which is part and parcel of the Constitution, that those only of the poorer classes who do not require definite religious education for their children, or who prefer none at all, should alone be those who can obtain elementary 717 education absolutely free at the public expense. But if this Bill does not satisfy the sentiments and aspirations of the denominationalist, and if compromise is to be taken as the text of Statesmanship, then I believe the Government are to be congratulated on having produced a measure which must improve the educational efficiency of the country. It is true we have to pay a heavy fine to ensure our religious teaching. We shall still have to bear the heavy burden in the building of schools and in the acquiring of land on which they are built. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen seems to think this would be a small burden. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can be quite so unfortunate as I have been in hearing some of the piteous appeals which are made for the building of new schools.
§ It being half-past seven of the clock, the debate was suspended until the evening sitting.