Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Main Question [29th January], "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth—
Most Gracious Sovereign,
§ "We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Lehmann.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. J. M. MACDONALD (Falkirk Burghs)
—in whose name was an Amendment to the Address to add the following: "But while rejoicing that your Majesty's relations with Foreign Powers continue to be friendly, we humbly express our regret that there is no indication of any intention to reduce expenditure on firmaments" said he understood that if 884 he did not move that Amendment the Government would give a day for the discussion of a Resolution in terms similar to those of the Amendment before any Vote was taken. If that was so, he would most gladly accept the offer of the Government. Perhaps the Prime Minister would let them know whether or not the Government did propose to give that day.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN)
I think that the course suggested by my hon. friend is that which would be the most convenient, not only to the Government, but to the House, and to the interest of the cause in which my hon. friend is acting. The House is not at this present moment in possession of information as to the policy of the Government in this matter, and until the Estimates for the year are on the Table it will not possess that information. I undertake that a day will be given for the discussion of this important matter, not only before any Vote is taken, but before the Speaker leaves the Chair on the Army and Navy Estimates. The House will then be in a better position to judge of each Vote, whether the Votes are to be increased or decreased, and what the reasons for those increases and decreases are, and therefore it will be much better qualified to enter on the discussion then.
§ MR. LEVERTON HARRIS (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
asked if the Prime Minister could give a day for the discussion of the Amendment to this Amendment with regard to the immunity of shipping at sea from capture.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
was understood to reply that if that Amendment was in order, no doubt it would be possible to discuss it.
§ MR. J. M. MACDONALD
intimated that he was extremely grateful to the Prime Minister for the offer which he had made, in view of which he would not move his Amendment.
§ LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
said he desired to add at the end of the Address the words: "But humbly 885 expresses their regret that the recent action of the Board of Education has not been in accordance with the traditional principles of administration in this country." He said—I do not desire to conceal from the House or to avoid the responsibility which necessarily attaches to a Motion of this kind, which is unquestionably a Motion of a serious character. It undoubtedly amounts to a charge that the present Chief of the Education Department has not held the scales evenly between those who are dependent upon the administration of the Department over which he rules. Of course, that is a serious charge, to support which the House will naturally expect that I should give some cogent reasons before they accept the Amendment. Our complaint against the administration of the Board of Education undoubtedly embraces several quite separate departments of its activity. We complain of its ordinary administration from day to day, of its dealing with the training colleges and secondary schools, and also of its procedure with regard to the building grant of £100,000. I do not propose, nor do I think it necessary, to weary the House with any large number of cases; I do not think that that will conduce to the understanding of the points that I desire to put before the House; but there are one or two cases under each of those heads to which it will be necessary for me to draw attention. Let me take, first of all, the question of the ordinary administration of the Board of Education. There are two parts of the island in which undoubtedly the administration of the Board of Education is fraught with very considerable difficulty. One is Wales, and the other is the West Riding of Yorkshire. We feel that in both these cases, where we have the local education authority strongly and intolerably hostile to certain types of public elementary schools under their control, it is a matter of the utmost importance and of very I considerable difficulty that the Board of Education should be absolutely impartial between all schools of all kinds, and should not strain and exercise its powers unfairly in favour of or against one particular type of school rather than another. Until the right hon. Gentleman assumed the office which he now holds, 886 I do not think there was any ground for saying that the Parliamentary chiefs of the Department had acted otherwise than fairly as between the different classes of schools, but I will leave the House to judge whether that can now be said, in view of the facts that I am about to put before it. I will first take the case of Swansea. The Swansea schools and the Swansea local education authority have had a stormy history during the last two or three years. Over and over again, I think it amounted to more than a dozen times, the local education authority has made demands upon the managers of those schools or has resisted legitimate demands made by the managers, and the matter has been referred to the Board of Education. I believe I am right in saying that in every case, until the right hon. Gentleman occupied his present position, the Board of Education felt bound to decide against the local education authority. We sometimes hear of the tyranny which is exercised by the Church of England in rural areas over the children, but we may claim that over the greater part of England we have the adherents of the Church of England in a great majority on the local education authorities, and I do not believe we would find a single instance in the whole of England where the local education authority, so composed, has ever even been accused of unjust treatment of a school, undenominational or nonconformist, within its jurisdiction. And when we hear accusations made by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches of the injustice exercised by the Church of England, we are entitled to reply that the local education authorities who have even been accused and convicted of injustice are those in which nonconformists hold a majority. That is the history of the Swansea disputes in outline, until the right hon. Gentleman became President of the Board of Education. After that, at any rate, the managers of the schools felt that a very different spirit pervaded the Education Department. I will give two instances only of the kind of thing of which they, not unjustly, complained. The local education authority have always and consistently declined to pay in the Church of England schools, or in the Roman Catholic schools, salaries 887 equivalent to those paid in the council schools, and as long ago as 31st July, 1906, during the time of the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, this official note was sent to the local education authority—The Board of Education are not aware of any circumstances which would justify a differentiation in the salary paid to the teachers in voluntary and council schools. They feel that the present state of things is unjust to the teacher and is gravely imperilling the efficiency of the school.Yet the salaries are still in the same position as they were when the present Chief Secretary for Ireland described them as unjust to the teacher, and gravely imperilling the efficiency of the school, What has happened since then? It can only be described—and I do not wish to use unnecessarily exaggerated terms—as a history of chicanery of a kind that would be a disgrace to a County Court. Every kind of miserable technicality has been raised by the local education authority, who have not been ashamed to raise pleas which no self-respecting solicitor in a County Court would look at for a moment. First came a statement that they could not pay the salaries unless there was a written agreement; that was used in order to postpone a decision. The matter was referred to the law officers, and for months was considered by the Board of Education, who at last said they thought that technically a written agreement was necessary. Then the managers went to the local education authority and asked what salaries they were to insert in the agreement, but the local authority declined to give any reply at all. On being pressed they said the managers must put in the same salaries as were being paid before. They recommended the managers to do that which the precedessor of the right hon. Gentleman had already described as utterly improper and utterly against the efficiency of the schools. The managers did not do anything of the kind, and thereupon a fresh point was taken up by the board, who said they ought to I have inserted those salaries, because the local authority had given them guidance as to what salaries they were prepared to pay, and that the board could not do anything until that difficulty as to whether there was guidance or not 888 had been disposed of. So it went on—perpetual delays, the flimsiest technicalities raised by the local authority not in opposition to the Board of Education, but, on the contrary, with the support and countenance of the right hon. Gentleman. There is another topic. In August last year this local education authority, admittedly without the slightest legal justification, suddenly passed a resolution that unless certain alterations, not to the building but to the playground, over which they had no kind of control, were carried out they would cease to maintain the school. The resolution was absolutely illegal, and was admitted so to be even by the authority itself. None the less, they acted upon it, and from August onward till quite recently they declined all maintenance. The teachers had to be paid, and the managers had to pay them in August, September, and October, and in October they went to the Education Department and said they could not always go on paying that which it was clearly the duty of the local education authority to pay. "Give us," they said, "some assurance that we shall be repaid by those who are legally bound to pay these debts, and we will go on, otherwise we cannot." The Board of Education utterly declined to give any such declaration, and the result was that in November and December those unhappy teachers did not get any payment at all. But for the fact that Parliament was going to meet, it would have gone on for months and months, but when the coming of Parliament cast its shadow before, a very different spirit seemed to come over the Board of Education and the local education authority, and after these intolerable delays the salaries were paid by the local education authority and, I believe, even the arrears of salaries from August last. But for five months the Board of Education submitted to this gross and palpable infringement of the law, for which there is not a shadow of excuse, because the right hon. Gentleman had ample powers to enforce the law, but it did not suit the present administration to quarrel with a local education authority on which there was a Radical majority. What was the alleged answer to that? I understand the answer was that they could only enforce 889 the clear duty of the authority by recourse to the Defaulting Authorities Act. It may be, for aught one knows, one of the principles of the Liberal Party—and they are a very surprising set of principles—not to enforce the Local Authorities Default Act, just as we were told not very long age that it was one of their principles not to enforce the Crimes Act. What is wrong with the Local Authorities Default Act? I know perfectly well that that Act was opposed keenly by the right hon. Gentleman and his Party when in Opposition. But in itself and in its terms is there anything remarkable or exceptional in its provisions? Similar or even more stringent powers appear in other Acts of Parliament. It simply says that in certain circumstances when the local education authority fails to do its duty the Board of Education may supersede the local education authority and appoint another body to do it. In the Public Health Act there is power given to the central authority to carry out the duty of the local authority when they neglect it. And even as late as 1906 under the present Government an Act was passed affecting labourers in Ireland in which precisely the same power is given to the central authority to discharge the duty if the local authority declines to do it. But it seems that it is in accordance with Liberal principles to apply this power in all other cases, but not to this particular school authority which happens to be in the unfortunate position of not being acceptable to the President of the Board of Education. I pass to the well-known case of the Garforth School in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Let me say what the dispute there was. The local education authority expressed its desire to turn a mixed school, with all the departments in it, into a school which should be an infant school only, dealing with children of the tenderest ages. The matter came before the Board of Education because the managers said, very rightly, that that would, in fact, entirely destroy the character of their schools, and as they desired to have the control of the education of these children up to the end of their school life it was quite plain if they stopped their religious education at nine or ten years of age, 890 they would be shifted over to another kind of religious education to which the managers strongly objected. Accordingly when the local education authority applied in April of last year to the Board of Education they received the reply that no adequate reason appeared for the reorganisation of the school. The West Riding Education Authority holds very strong opinions and is exceedingly persistent, and they made a second application on 15th June, and on the 20th of that month they received a reply similar to the first. It was quite plain that if the local authority merely relied on the justice of their case they had very little hope of persuading the Board of Education to pass from what they had already decided. I do not know what they meant by their second statement, but they took steps to bring this matter before the personal attention of the President of the Board of Education. I do not know what particular form of pressure they brought to bear on the President of the Board of Education.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (Mr. McKENNA,) Monmouthshire, N.
There was none.
§ LORD R. CECIL
The President of the Board of Education says there was none. Then the President of the Board of Education did an injustice without even the excuse of pressure. Accordingly, on 12th July, a letter was sent to the local education authority without any pressure by the President of the Board of Education and of his own accord, stating that the right hon. Gentleman had reconsidered the matter, and that the two previous decisions of the Board were reversed. The local education authority were therefore allowed to have their own way. The managers, however, were not content, and brought the matter before a Court of Law. It would be impertinent in me to make a criticism of the decision of the very learned, judge who tried the case, but this I will say, that he is second to none in his acquaintance with this particular department of law. I observe that the learned Judge quite rightly attributes the letter of 12th July to 891 the President of the Board of Education's own initiative. What does the judgment amount to? It is that the action of the President' of the Board of Education was clearly and obviously illegal, that it was the duty of the local education authority to maintain this scheme as it had always existed, and that that was governed by a decision of the House of Lords. The only doubt the learned Judge had at all was whether he had jurisdiction to compel the Board of Education to observe the law. That is really what the judgment comes to. I am not exaggerating in the slightest degree when I say that it is not a desirable state of things when the chief of a Government Department should make a kind of decision which a Court of law has to upset. That is all I would say as to the Board of Education under its present chief. I come to the question of the training colleges and secondary schools. I do not desire to go back on all that was said last session in regard to this subject, but the broad complaint was made, and quite justly, that the Regulations affecting the training colleges and secondary schools were expressly and designedly framed so as to hinder so far as it was possible the denominational training in these colleges. I ask even the hon. Member for the Louth Division of Lincolnshire—who takes the strongest possible nonconformist view on this question, is it not desirable so long as you have the present system of education—a system in which you have a large proportion (nearly one half) of the children trained in denominational schools—that there should be the fullest possible opportunity for giving religious training to the teachers who are to teach these children? I quite understand the view of those who think that all the schools in the country should be undenominational, although it seems to me to be a bigoted and intolerant view; but until you have all the schools made undenominational, I cannot understand what possible excuse there is for hampering in any way those who want this religious teaching. Is it not your clear duty as long as denominational schools exist to see that the teachers are properly trained and instructed in the religious teaching which they are bound afterwards to impart? 892 I think that those who take this broad view of the case will admit that the regulations issued last year are absolutely indefensible. I do not propose to deal with the details of those regulations, or to point out to the House at length how it is that they must necessarily hamper the training of the teachers in these colleges. But I desire to say one word in regard to an incidental aspect of the question. It has been pointed out that in many of these colleges it would be impossible for the managers or trustees to comply with these regulations under their trust deeds. And what is the reply of the President of the Board of Education? "Oh, it is quite easy. Let them apply to me and I will allow them to dispense with all the obligations under their trust deeds." What does that invitation amount to? I saw one of the trustees of a training college the other day—a distinguished Evangelical clergyman—who informed me that "he valued the religious teaching in these colleges above everything; but he was told by the President of the Board of Education that he was to set aside his highest conscientious feelings and ask to be relieved from the trust which he regarded with the utmost tenderness. Surely no one should ask him to do so base an act as that. He did not see how the President of the Board of Education should ask a mar with strong religious convictions to be relieved from the conscientious discharge of his duties." The President of the Education Department has to act in a two-fold capacity. The President acts in his ordinary administrative capacity, and in the second place he has been entrusted with the discharge of the judicial procedure formerly exercised by the Charity Commissioners; and it is only in the exercise of that latter jurisdiction that he can deal with the trust deeds at all. What is that jurisdiction? It is the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, which passed to the Charity Commissioners when these were originally appointed. It was that jurisdiction and no other which was transferred to the Education Department. What would be thought of a Chancery Judge—and that is the way to test the matter—if he had said: "I understand that your trust deed prevents you from 893 carrying out certain regulations. Come to me and I will relieve you of your obligation without hearing the opponents of that procedure, or their arguments"? What would be thought of a Chancery I Judge who said that? I pass from that question; but there is one other matter which I regard as very important in connection with the recent action of; the Education Department, and that is with reference to the grant of £100,000 for school buildings. Let me remind the House what is the history of that grant. Without any warning, about this time last year the Government came down with a Supplementary Estimate or Vote on Account for a grant of £100,000 for school buildings. It was then pointed out that in Section 96 of the Act of 1870 there was an express provision forbidding the application of Parliamentary grants to the building of schools. They treated that at first with some lightness, but afterwards admitted that it was a serious point, and then their answer was this: "Oh, well, we will put it all right by merely putting in the Appropriation Act a provision to repeal the section, and in that way we shall get rid of the statutory prohibition of Parliamentary grants." The first point I desire to call the attention of the House to is this: That the effect of that was very, very seriously to diminish the Parliamentary control over that £100,000. It is said by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "Oh, no, we made regulations, these regulations were submitted to the House, and the House had complete control over them, so that if they disliked any of the terms and conditions on which this grant was made, they could have expressed that dislike." When were these regulations laid on the Table of the House? They were laid in the middle of August, long after the Estimates had been passed, and there was no opportunity of discussing the details, or the nature of them, except on the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill. They could not be discussed in Committee because that has been held to be out of order, and the only control which this House had over those regulations was to reject the Appropriation Act for that year. The thing is absolutely illusory; there was no control whatever. The matter certainly 894 appears to me to be quite clearly a very objectionable procedure, but unfortunately, I find that this matter has been carefully looked into recently, and it is one which is not destitute of authority in this respect. It seems that early in 1833, or 1882 the Government of the day, also a Liberal Government, proposed to do something of the same kind. There was an Act limiting the amount to be paid to resident magistrates to a certain sum; the Government desired to make some changes in the position of those officials and to pay a larger salary than they were allowed to do by that statute, and then they sought to set it right in exactly the same way by means of the Appropriation Act. The matter was repeatedly considered by the Comptroller and Auditor-General, by the Public Accounts Committee, and by the Treasury, and from the first time that it was brought to their attention, they pressed the Government not to persevere in this course, and, I am bound to say that the successive Governments always recognised that it was an improper course and a Bill was introduced forthwith to set the matter right. Before I come to the action of the Government, I should like to read what the Committee of Public Accounts said. They reported more than once, but I will take the case of 1885 where I find a very strong expression of opinion. This is what they say—Your Committee cannot accept the view in the legal, still less in the financial sense, that the distinct terms of an Act of Parliament may be properly over-ridden by a Supplementary Estimate supported by the Appropriation Act. Your Committee trust that this matter which is one of great importance from a constitutional point of view, will, in the next Parliament, be very carefully examined and re-considered by the Public Accounts Committee.That Report went, as it always does, to the Treasury, who minuted as follows—My Lords concur in the opinion of the Committee as to the danger, both on financial and constitutional grounds of any general adoption of the view that the distinct terms of an Act of Parliament may be over-ridden by a subsequent Vote supported by the Appropriation Act. In the case of the salaries of the resident magistrates, the irregularity has been the result of failure to obtain in time the sanction of Parliament to a Bill, which had been introduced to legalise the increased salaries in question, rather than of a deliberate intention to over-ride a Statute in the manner described.895 And they went further. They directed a communication to be made to the Chief Secretary for Ireland on the subject. It runs—Sir, I am directed to transmit to you herewith copy of Paragraphs 41 and 42 of the Second Report of the Public Accounts Committee of 1885. I am to request that you will call the attention of his Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant to the gravity of the irregularity, both from a financial and a constitutional point of view, which has been allowed to exist for three successive years. My Lords are aware that attempts have been made to legalise the additional salaries of the resident magistrates by a clause inserted in a Bill which, through stress of circumstances, has failed to pass into law. They trust that steps will be taken to remove the irregularity, otherwise my Lords fear that it will be necessary to reduce the salaries within the limits sanctioned by law.Successive Governments did their best over and over again to get a Bill through Parliament legalising the matter. It was brought before Parliament and they, after considering the question, accepted it. It is true that the Bill never actually received the Royal Assent, but Parliament considered the matter and accepted it. Successive Governments have admitted that this was a most improper and most unconstitutional Measure.
§ LORD R. CECIL
They have done so over and over again, both in evidence before the Public Accounts Committee and in debate.
§ LORD R. CECIL
They have done so, but they continued to pay the salaries until the Treasury said they could no longer pay them. They continued to do it until they found another way of doing it without infringing the Act of Parliament. But this great Government which went up and down the country saying that they were coming into power to restore the financial control of Parliament—and no one said that more loudly and aggressively than the Secretary to the Treasury 896 —are going to weaken it. Of course if this procedure is endorsed by us the control of Parliament will become a farce. I do not trouble very much about the practical inconvenience of the course adopted, although it has been inconvenient. The Government have created this fund and have not in fact by legislation dealt with the various legislative difficulties which interfere with proper administration. I need merely refer to Section 18 of the Act of 1902, which requires that a proportionate part of the capital expenditure shall be charged upon the localities themselves—from a half to three-quarters. This sum can only be paid to the local education authority and to nobody else, and therefore you assist by this fund the rich central body—the county body—and you can give no assistance whatever to the poor local body—the parochial authority, which has still to find from one-half to three-quarters of the cost of any school erected in its locality. That is an inconvenience due to the hurry with which this transaction was carried out, and, it shows the extreme undesirability of this course of procedure; but that objection is not of the same weight as that to which I have already alluded. Why do the Government adopt this extraordinary course? There is only one answer. They adopt it in order to avoid discussion. Oh, I know they say—"We are very clever; we are going to get round the House of Lords by this little dodge, and in this way we shall prevent the House of Lords interfering." It is very, very clever indeed, extremely clever, but the real body which is injured is the House of Commons. That is the peculiarity of all the devices of the present Government which are levelled against the House of Lords: they always affect the House of Commons. The real truth is that it is not the House of Lords of whom they are afraid. A Bill to grant £100,000 to school authorities could not have been amended but only rejected by the House of Lords, and I do not think that they would have rejected it, What the Government did fear was that Members of this House would require that this grant should be passed on business lines and not on unfair lines, so chat it might not be used to help one school at the expense of another. As to the actual 897 administration of the grant, I can only say that the information which comes to me shows that it has been deformed by the same animus which we think we perceive in the other administrative acts of the Education Department. I admit—because we have been refused information—that we cannot say how this grant has been administered. We asked on Monday and we asked to-day, and on each occasions the Minister, exercising his undoubted privilege, has declined to give us any information at all. The reason given is such as at least to strengthen our objection. The right hon. Gentleman says that he cannot tell what applications have been granted and what have not, because the matter is perpetually coming before the Board of Education, so that from minute to minute, from hour to hour, and from day to day, he does not know whether he has signed a particular grant. That may be true, but it throws an extraordinary light on the administration of a Department of the Government of this country. We have, however, given to us a long list of schools to which a grant has been made where there has been no real genuine demand for it whatever and no real independent public inquiry. We are also told that grants have been made out of all proportion to the population in the counties of Monmouth and Denbigh. It is a curious thing, and I should think it is capable of some very simple kind of explanation, but this is what is said in Wales: Monmouthshire is represented by the President of the Board of Education, and Denbighshire is where the Welsh Education Secretary had a long public and private career, and it is said that one of the benefactions has been made in the parish in which the Welsh Secretary lived, and for all I know, lives to-day. These are facts in regard to the administration of the Board of Education which seems to me to be of a very unfortunate character, and I do not think the House will wonder that people are beginning to inquire what is the real reason for what they regard as inexplicable except on the ground of prejudice or partisanship on the part of the Board of Education. I should not be doing my duty if I did not say that the feeling in Wales is that it is all due to the Welsh Secretary. It is recalled that 898 he was the election agent of one of the junior members of the present Ministry; that he was a well-known and vigorous opponent of voluntary schools in his own district, and that he actively participated in what is known as the Welsh revolt. All these things are recalled. I desire to make no charge against him—I daresay that Mr. Davies has done his best in difficult circumstances, but I do say that the appointment of Mr. Davies was a grossly improper appointment. I say that to select a man for the administration of Welsh education, whatever his merits may be, who has such a record as that is to put him in a position the duties of which he cannot possibly fulfil satisfactory. I am, however, under no restraint in pointing out that the great difficulty which the President of the Board of Education is in arises from his own previous history. We all know the part the right hon. Gentleman took in what is known as the Welsh revolt. We know that he, in conjunction with the President of the Board of Trade, advocated throughout Wales resistance, evasion, and even breach of the law of this country. There are, no doubt, advantages in making a gamekeeper of a poacher; but there is this disadvantage, that he is under the influence of the blackmail of his former associates. We know something of the way in which this question has been treated by these two right hon. Gentlemen. That was shown the other day when the Government was justified for not proceeding with the Welsh Disestablishment Bill by the fact that the Education Act of 1902 was a great disestablishment Bill for Wales. That measure which was really a great measure for the education of this country was defended in Wales as a measure of disestablishment. I venture to submit that the facts that I have stated to the House are of a very serious character indeed If this spirit is to be imported into the administration of public affairs, if they are not to be administered for the benefit of the whole community but for the advantage of one section and the disadvantage of another, it will destroy the confidence of the people of this country in the administration of public affairs. That would be very serious loss indeed. It means not only a general atmosphere of 899 distrust but also that you will not get people to co-operate in Public Departments—to give their money, their time and their assistance to Public Departments. And not even the right hon. Gentleman doubts that if he loses the co-operation, the money, and the assistance of the people of this country the administration of that Department cannot be a success. I bog to move.
§ SIR PHILIP MAGNUS (London University)
In rising to second the Amendment moved by my noble friend, it is not my intention to traverse the ground which has been so fully covered by him. The recent action of the Board of Education which this Amendment states is contrary to "the traditional principles of administration of this country" refers to several points. Many of those bearing upon internal administration the mover of this Amendment has spoken to. But in addition to those there is the important question which occupied some portion of the speech of the noble Lord as to the grant of £100,000 for the building of new elementary schools and the manner in which the administration of that grant by the right hon. Gentleman compares with traditional practice in this country. Besides that, there are the regulations for training colleges, to which reference will be made by subsequent speakers. Then there is the important question of the regulations for secondary schools, to which I propose to devote the greater part of the few remarks I shall make in seconding this Amendment. Let me recall to the House very briefly the circumstances under which these regulations for secondary schools were brought before the country. It was, if I remember rightly, on the evening of 15th May last year on the Motion of the hon. Member for one of the divisions of Somerset with regard to the further encouragement of secondary education that the President of the Board of Education, taking part unexpectedly in the discussion, referred to some of the regulations under which the new grants for secondary schools were to be given. No opportunity occurred at the time for any full discussion of the subject. I personally said a few Words before the President of the Board of Education 900 spoke and before I had any notion what these regulations were likely to be. The hon. Baronet the Member for the Oxford University who followed the President of the Board had not the details of these regulations before him to enable him to criticise them as he would otherwise have been able to do. Before these regulations were issued no other information as to their contents was given to the people. Towards the end of July they were issued, and became almost immediately operative. The effect of these regulations was very considerable. They altered, and introduced fundamental changes in all our secondary schools, not only in the curricula, but also in the relation of elementary to secondary education, in the constitution of the governing bodies of the schools, and in the conditions under which religious education might be given in those schools. These changes had reference not only to matters of education, but also to important matters of administration. Many of the regulations were wholly inconsistent with the trust deeds under which the schools were administered. They became operative, as I have said, almost immediately after they were published, and the consequence of that action of the Board of Education was that no opportunity was offered to the local authority which administered secondary education, to the governing bodies of the schools which had the education under their immediate control or even to associations of teachers to discuss some of the important questions to which they referred. In fact the regulations were thrust upon us so unexpectedly just before the recess that the governing bodies of the schools knew not how to deal with them. As a fact, the President of the Board came into our schools with a sword in one hand and a bribe in the other, and said the bribe would be given if we accepted the regulations; otherwise, our trust deeds might be destroyed and the school might cease to exist. This is a very serious matter in regard to the administration of education. It is a serious matter that governing bodies have not had an opportunity for expressing either approval or disapproval of these regulations. Many governing bodies who disapprove 901 of them were compelled to accept of them in consequence of what might happen if they did not. I am prepared to admit that in many respects these regulations will prove of great advantage to some of our secondary schools. I am prepared to admit that many schools will receive increased grants under conditions to which they are quite willing to agree. But at the same time there are other schools which these regulations must affect most disadvantageously, schools which will be reduced in status by the necessity of accepting the conditions which are imposed. As to one of these regulations I should like to say a word to show how unfairly it acts and the difficulties in which the managers of schools are placed by having it so unexpectedly cast upon them. I refer to Article 44, which states that no grants hereafter are payable under the provision of Articles 42 and 43 in respect of schools not on the grant list for 1906–07. By this regulation no secondary school that does not happen to be on the grant list for that year, and no new secondary school, will ever be able to obtain the higher grants paid under this regulation, notwithstanding the fact that the school may be educationally efficient, or that the local educational authority may decide under Article 43 that the school is absolutely essential for the educational work of the district. Such schools are once and for ever removed from the possibility of receiving grants of the higher grade. There are other regulations of which we may reasonably complain. What we most complain of, however, is the procedure adopted by the Board of Education and the manner in which the regulations have been carried out. It has been said that no departure has been made from traditional practice in the conditions under which the grants are offered, nor in the fact that changes have been introduced by means of regulations. We shall be told that it is quite in accordance with the uniform practice that a change in the conditions under which grants are made to schools should be by means of regulations rather than by Act of Parliament. To a great extent that is true. I should like to point out, how- 902 ever, some essential differences between the action of the President of the Board of Education in this case and the traditions which have been observed previously by the Board. These differences are very important. In the first place, these regulations refer to secondary and not to elementary schools. It is only within the last few years that secondary education has come under the immediate control of the Board of Education, and we must always remember the fact that head masters and assistant masters, and head mistresses and assistant mistresses, of secondary schools are persons of considerable educational qualifications, who certainly have a right to be consulted before drastic changes are introduced into the conditions under which grants to secondary schools are made. In such cases it is most desirable that the Board should proceed with caution, and should not make any changes until an opportunity has been afforded to educational societies in this country of expressing an opinion upon the character of the changes proposed to be introduced. But even as regards changes of a purely educational character, the Board has departed from its traditional practice, for I think I am right in saying that the Elementary Education Code has always bean laid on the Table of the House one month before it came into operation, whereas these regulations were published and came into force within a few days of their publication. Therefore, the custom that prevailed with respect to educational changes in elementary schools has not been observed on this occasion in regard to the more important regulations which have been issued in connection with secondary schools. There is another point. These regulations refer to highly controversial matters—matters altogether outside ordinary educational questions. They refer to the constitution of the governing body, and to he conditions under which religious teaching may be given in our schools. Such matters, in the case of elementary education, have never been introduced and I think cannot be introduced, without distinct legislative action. During the year 1906 we were occupied for 903 several months in this House discussing changes in connection with our public elementary schools not altogether different in character from those proposed to be introduced into the secondary schools by means of regulations. I cannot see any reason whatever why the President of the Board of Education should even take the trouble to bring in a new Bill dealing with the alterations which he is desirous of introducing into our elementary schools if such amendments can be made by means of administrative regulations only. I think, from the little I have said as regards these regulations, that I have made out a case which justifies the terms of the Amendment with respect to the action of the Board of Education. I venture to think that this protest is necessary, and will be found advantageous even by the Board of Education, for I find that the whole country is becoming more and more alarmed at the growing power of the Board, and the arbitrary and despotic exercise of such power. In all educational circles nothing is more feared and dreaded than a State-directed system of secondary education. If for one moment it is thought that the President of the Board of Education will use the powers which he possesses—powers, I venture to think, greater than are possessed by the head of any other of our administrative offices—if even he is suspected of using his powers for purely political ends and purposes, then a very great blow will be given to the education of this country, and the popularity of the Board of Education will tend to diminish. I think we should all regard this as a matter of great regret, and I venture to hope that in the future every opportunity will be given for full discussion of changes such as those proposed to be introduced in our training colleges and secondary schools. I trust the House will agree with me in thinking that the action of the Board of Education, as indicated by the noble Lord who moved this Amendment, and in connection with the regulations for secondary schools, has been such as to justify our asserting that it is a departure from the traditions of the Board.
To the and of the Question to add the words 'But humbly express our regret that the
recent action of the Board of Education has not been in accordance with the traditional principles of administration in this country.'"—(Lord Robert Cecil.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
said it would have been better if this discussion had been delayed or postponed until the House was in possession o£ fuller and completer information in regard to the many points brought before them. He thought it would have been better if the discussion had taken place on the Education Estimates. He could not help deploring the fact that it was necessary to enter upon a debate of this kind un an Amendment to the Address, thus bringing the question of education and the method of it into the arena of Party politics. Everyone who had the slightest knowledge of the difficulty of carrying on the work of education in this country through the Board of Education, knew the disadvantages connected with a debate of this kind across the floor of the House. Everyone really interested in education did his utmost to bring about an atmosphere in which some practical solution of this great controversy would be possible. It was unfortunate that a sourse of discord should be thrown into the solution by the intervention of a debate of this kind. He could not help regretting, also, some phrases used by the noble Lord opposite. In the early part of his speech he spoke of the bitter hostility of the local education authorities in Wales and in the West Riding of Yorkshire to a particular kind of school. If the noble Lord had had practical experience of the working of those local authorities in England and Wales, he did not think he would have made that statement on the floor of the House. Anyone who had had the privilege, as he had, of being a member of one of those local authorities, knew their earnest desire—he cared nothing about their political complexion—to do their utmost in all circumstances for education. He denied the truth of the statement that local education authorities, about which he knew something, had been actuated throughout by bitter hostility to one particular type of school. He thought 905 that if all the facts and all the conditions surrounding the situation were known to the House, they would not be found to substantiate a statement of that kind. Then the noble Lord had remarked of one local authority in Wales that its conduct was "chicanery unworthy of any county court." Remarks of that kind were not likely to assist the cause of education, and made it very difficult for them to believe that the noble Lord and those who acted with him in this matter were guided by anything beyond sectarian motives. With reference to the allocation of the grant of £100,000 to the various districts, he desired to say that in Denbighshire applications had been made only after the fullest consideration. He was very sorry to hear the noble Lord giving expression to a statement that a discreditable motive had affected the amount of the grant to Denbighshire. He desired most strongly to repudiate the suggestion that it was possible for an official of the Board of Education to have been influenced to the extent of a farthing by such a motive as had been suggested by the noble Lord. He regretted that gentlemen on the other side of the House in these debates on education should impute personal motives to prominent officials of the Board of Education. The sooner the better he thought that kind of argument vanished from the floor of the House of Commons. He had only further to add that with regard to applications made for grants from the £100,000 Parliamentary grant, there had been little, if any, serious opposition to the demands which had been made, and it was also a significant fact that in two instances Churchmen had offered to give the site upon which the new schools were intended to be erected, in one case as a free gift, in the other practically so; while in another case a Churchman had sold the Hand for a nominal sum. Under the circumtances he did not think that the charge that had been suggested as to feeling in Denbighshire with regard to these grants was justified. He did not desire further to take up the time of the House, but he hoped the day was not far distant when a debate of this character would be impossible.
§ MR. BOLAND (Kerry, S.)
said he could quite appreciate the objection taken by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Denbigh to an education debate on an Amendment to the Address, but he thought they must recognise as sensible men that during the last few years Amendments to the Address had been generally on topics which were being discussed in the country, and whether the subject was controversial or not. The debate of the last two days was on one of the most controversial points probably that could be brought forward. It might be more useful that the Chief Secretary should have been attacked actually on his Estimates, and possibly had the President of the Board of Education had his Education Estimates coming on next week the debate might have been referred to them. But when an important subject like education, on which the country felt very much, might be diverted for weeks and weeks, it was only right that the Opposition should take the opportunity afforded by the Address for raising the question. As regarded the actual points of discussion, the President of the Board of Education could be under no misapprehension whatever as to the opinions held by Irish Members, both as regarded the administrative action of the Board of Education and especially as regarded the issue of regulations dealing with training colleges and secondary schools. Their position was put perfectly clearly last July when the regulations were issued, and if there had been any doubt in his mind on the point he was sure that what had happened during the recess in all parts of England where there were great centres of Catholic population left no doubt whatever on his mind as to the position they took up. He merely desired to call attention to an administrative account of the Board of Education dealing with a Catholic secondary school, which emphasised what perhaps no amount of general discussion could emphasise—the unfortunate action taken by the Board. He was sorry that the debate had come on so unexpectedly or he would have sent word to the President of the Board of Education as to the actual school topics he was going to deal with, but doubtless 907 the right hon. Gentleman was quite familiar with them. A secondary school carried on at Southampton very soon after the regulations of the secondary schools had been issued called a meeting of its managers. The school had been recognised for the past three years; there was no question whatever of its being an unrecognised school. The meeting was held by the governors; the local education committee was informed that the school desired to be kept on and to qualify for the grants in the usual way. The local education committee approved of this by a majority of twenty-two to five, and in accordance with precedent sent their resolution to the local education authority, the Borough Council of Southampton, who approved of the action of the local education committee by twenty-seven votes to seven, and in the ordinary way a requisition was sent up to the Board of Education. The Board of Education in its reply wrote that they were not prepared to waive Articles 5, 23 and 24 of the regulations of the secondary schools, on the ground that they were not satisfied that a Roman Catholic school was at present regarded as part of the secondary school provision for the area. He had briefly given the facts to lay the ground for his argument, the main point of which was that since the Liberal Government came into power and since the Education Bills had been introduced, the cry had always been: "Trust the local education authority." Here was a case in which not merely a local education committee, but the local education authority, acting on the suggestion of the local education committee, by the large majority of twenty-seven to seven, affirmed the decision. The Board of Education waived that aside and said it would not comply with the request that the secondary school should be maintained on the full grant list. The important point which he wished to direct the attention of the House to, and it was a matter which was bound to come up again on the Education Estimates, was that these grants were governed by Section 43 of the regulation. Section 43 said that if, as regarded the conditions set up in Clauses 5, 18, 23 and 24, but not with regard to Clause 20 of the regulations, the local educa- 908 tion authority passed a resolution informing the Board of Education that the school was in their view required as part of the secondary school provision for their area, and that one or more of these conditions might be waived with advantage in view of the educational needs of the area, the Board of Education might if they saw fit pay the grants in full under Articles 36 and 41 of that chapter. All the required conditions he submitted were carried out by this particular school when they asked to have three sections waived. Their application was backed up by the local education committee. It was backed up by the local education authority and the necessary conditions had been complied with by the school. Twenty-five per cent. of free places, without tests under Article 20, and a conscience clause for boarders under Article 18—all these conditions had been complied with, and he absolutely failed to see on what ground the Board of Education could now override the decision of the local education authority that this school was required for the district and was entitled to receive the full grant. The Board of Education now simply set aside the wants of the district, and of Catholic secondary school education, upset the local education committee, and the local education authority, and simply by a stroke of the pen decided that this school was not to be entitled to a full grant. He did not wish to go further into the subject. He submitted that a case of this sort must be dealt with fairly; but if the Minister for Education was entitled to override local education authorities he submitted that all the promises of the last two years in which it was said, "Trust the local education authority and you will see justice done," were of no value whatever.
§ MR. McKENNA
The charge brought against me by the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone is that I have not held the scales evenly, and he elaborated this charge under three heads. I shall take the opportunity of replying briefly to each point, but I can assure the House that it will not take me a very long time. The first complaint was of the day to day administration of the Board of 909 Education, and he illustrated this administration by taking two cases, first, the case of Swansea in Wales, and, secondly, the case of Garforth in the West Riding. With regard to the case of Swansea the noble Lord appears to have been completely misinformed. He charges me with not holding the scales evenly, or, to use the exact language of the Amendment—Humbly expresses their regret that the recent action of the Board of Education has not been in accordance with the traditional principles of administration in this country.It so happens that what I have done in Swansea has been in exact continuance of the action of my predecessor in office, the hon. Baronet who sits opposite. The difficulty in regard to the Swansea buildings has been going on since the year 1904. The managers of the school and the local education authority have never been able to agree. That disagreement went on during the whole time my predecessor was in office. I am thankful to say that last December an agreement ultimately was come to between the managers and the local authority as regards the buildings. That agreement was not produced, as the noble Lord seems to think, by the action of the Board of Education in anticipation of the meeting of Parliament. On the contrary, that agreement was produced, not with reference to the meeting of Parliament at all, but as the result of pressure which the Board was able to put partly upon the managers and partly upon the local education authority to obtain the best possible school for the children under the circumstances. Let me quote from a newspaper in South Wales which is not favourable to the present Board. The Western Mail says of the settlement of December—The plans, as now agreed to, form a very satisfactory settlement as far as the managers are concerned.The same newspaper in a note says—Mr. McKenna has actually summed up enough courage to say 'No' to Mr. Richard Martin. Will it last?That was the view of this settlement which was made last December, and it is absurd to suggest that I have not held the scales evenly between the two parties when my opponents congratulate me upon having been firm against my 910 friends. The noble Lord's next point was that I have refused to insist upon equal salaries being paid to teachers in the council schools and in the voluntary schools. There, again, I have only done exactly what my predecessor did, and there has been no change in the practice of the Education Board. The Act has been construed to mean that the Board of Education have no authority to compel equal salaries to be paid in all schools, and acting upon that construction of the law, my predecessor never insisted upon the same salaries being paid in voluntary schools as were paid in council schools. The salaries now being paid are precisely those which were paid under the former administration, and I am only following the precedent which has been set. The noble Lord states that Nonconformist authorities are unjust and put pressure upon voluntary schools in Wales. He was good enough to attribute a good deal of importance to what had been said by the President of the Board of Trade and myself with regard to the action by these local authorities. But the noble Lord misapprehends the situation in Wales. In Wales you have a population overwhelmingly Nonconformist in character. You had an Act of Parliament passed in the year 1902 which insists that the children of Nonconformist parents should be sent to Church schools in which there was a Church atmosphere, and that the parents should be called upon to maintain those denominational schools and the maintenance of the very Church atmosphere to which they objected. The local education authorities in Wales resolved not to contribute to the rates for the maintenance of those schools, and a great many of them have not contributed to those rates up to the present hour. The effect has been not, as the noble Lord suggests, to impose any special injustice upon these schools, for I am bound to say that their efficiency at present is at least as good as it was before the Act of 1902. The local authorities therefore in construing the Act in the light of the practice, not of the present Board of Education, but of the Board of Education of a Conservative Administration, are amply justified in saying that they are carrying out the law in maintaining these schools. 911 I deplore the Act of 1902, and I admit that the efficiency is not as high as I should wish to see it, but I am not responsible for that. That efficiency is, however, at least as high as it was under the hon. Baronet opposite, and to charge me with having changed the policy of the Board and departed from its principle is absolutely without a shadow of foundation. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may not like my policy or my regulations, but they cannot bring any substantial test of administration by the Board in which it can be alleged that the Board have acted in a partisan manner or departed from the settled practice of the Board. So much for the Swansea case. Now with regard to the Garforth case. What ground has the noble Lord for suggesting that there was any pressure in regard to the decision which the Court have now held that the action of the local authority was ultra vires? A judgment on legal technical questions of this sort is a very difficult matter for any Government Department, and all we can do is to get the best legal advice open to us. If we are mistaken upon a matter of law no blame can be attached to the motives of the Government, and all that can be said is that we must take the construction of the law as laid down. Now what was the principle underlying the decision in the Garforth case? The local education authorities are generally responsible for the provision of the educational supply over the whole area. There happens to be in Garforth a council school specially provided and specially built for the other children. A certain number had to be turned out of the Garforth Church of England school because it was overcrowded, and there was in the neighbourhood a school adapted to receive the older children, but not the younger. What more reasonable decision could a local authority come to in the interests of secular education and the ratepayers than that the children to be turned out of the overcrowded schools should be those children for whom provision had already been made in a neighbouring school building? Whatever the law may have been, I submit that it is absolutely unfair to charge me with having given a partisan decision. With regard to training colleges the noble Lord maintains that our 912 regulations are hampering the work of denominational colleges. He did not touch upon the merits of the regulations, and I do not propose to touch upon them either; but what he said was that in telling the trustees of these colleges that they can apply to the Board of Education for leave to vary their trust deeds in order to admit students under a conscience clause, the Board of Education had committed a gross breach of duty. On the moral ground whether trust deeds should or should not be varied the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given a most conclusive answer, in which he showed that they had again and again been varied by the action of Parliament, and even by hon. and right hon. Gentleman opposite; so that on the moral ground it cannot be denied that trust deeds are open to be varied. I have already said that if the trustees wish to get the benefit of public money they must comply with the conditions under which public money can be obtained. I have said to them: "I have statutory powers to come to your help, I am willing to help you to alter your trust deeds so as to admit of your receiving public money under the only condition under which public money can be paid." Wherein have the Board of Education committed a crime in doing that? I have put no duty upon the trustees to have their trust deeds altered. If they do not wish to alter them they can still carry on their colleges, but without the assistance of public money. All I have said is that if they take public money they must conform to public conditions. The noble Lord quoted the case of a churchman who expressed to him his horror at being asked for a variation of his trust. This is a matter upon which the authorities of the training colleges must make up their minds. Let me put the case very simply. If the present trustees of training colleges like to confine themselves to their own trusts and the property they have got under them, they would probably be able to train in denominational training colleges just about one-fifth of the teachers who are now trained. They could have one fifth Church of England students under strict tests of entry and trained in a strictly Church of England atmosphere, but they must cut down their number to one-fifth; if they want the other 913 four-fifths admitted they can only do it with public money and they will have to admit students who may not necessarily be members of the Church of England. The Government are willing to offer large public grants under these regulations. They offer them to training colleges which will still maintain the whole of their present religious character, and the whole of the teaching staff may continue to be Church of England. The ordinary training of the college will be Church of England, and you will be able to carry on these Church of England colleges exactly as you carry them on now, with this difference only, that the large number of additional students who are paid for out of public money may be drawn, not only from members of the Church of England, but also from the members of any other religious community. I would call the attention of hon. Gentlemen to this fact. I know of no denominational institution in this country, entrance into which is only possible by the payment of a fee, in which any person who pays that fee is not allowed to go in under a conscience clause. All our great public schools, all our denominational colleges will admit anybody of any faith provided the parents will pay the fees. They have never found that these schools have had their family life broken into or their religious character disestablished because persons of all creeds have been admitted to their training. In the case of the Universities, where exactly the same quarrel went on for a long period of time, we have never found where the parents have to pay that any harm has in fact occurred to the religious character of of the institution because of the existence of a conscience clause, and I venture to say that when the trustees and managers of these colleges finally realise that these regulations have got to be complied with or else they will not be able to receive public money, when they have made up their minds to accept the necessary changes, they will ultimately find that their fears as to the collapse of the colleges, and as to their failure to achieve their original purpose, are as unfounded as have proved to be the fears in the case of the public universities.
Then the noble Lord went on to deal with the point that the Board of Educa- 914 tion were exercising the jurisdiction of the Charity Commissioners. He said the Charity Commissioners had only the jurisdiction that was handed over to them from the Court of Chancery, and that, therefore, the Board of Education were bound to act as the Court of Chancery. He went on to say that no Court of Chancery would have declared its intention in advance in regard to the altering of trust deeds. We know that the noble Lord's history in this case is entirely at fault. He has been misled by a false analogy. It is quite true that the Board of Education have taken over the functions of the Charity Commissioners; it is quite true that the Charity Commissioners had taken over the functions of the Court of Chancery. But the functions then exercised by the Court of Chancery were administrative functions, and they were handed over just as the administrative functions in lunacy of the Court of Chancery were handed over to the Lunacy Commissioners. That did not constitute those Commissioners a judicial body. Not at all. They are an administrative body. The functions handed over now to the Board of Education are administrative functions which the Board of Education administer, it is true in a judicial spirit, but they are of a kind which have no relation whatever to the duties ordinarily exercised by the Court of Chancery. The last point which the noble Lord made was with regard to the £100,000 building grant. He said that the only control by Parliament over the grant was by the rejection of the Appropriation Act on the Second Reading. When I remember that that building grant was discussed three or four times in this House and that the regulations were issued in ample time to be brought to the notice of the House of Commons—[An HON. MEMBER: "On 13th August."]—before the Second Reading of the Appropriation Act, and certainly before the Third Reading of that Act, and that as a matter of fact these regulations did not give rise to any complaint; when I remember further that what is really at issue between hon. Gentlemen opposite and myself in this matter is not this or that regulation dealing with the distribution of the grant, but the principle of the grant itself, and that that principle was debated and approved by the House 915 of Commons more than once; then I am justified in saying that the charge brought against the Board on this ground fails in the same degree as the other one. We all know that, technically speaking, the only chance the House of Commons has of disapproving of a very large portion of the Estimates is by throwing out the Appropriation Bill on the Second Reading. A very large proportion of the Estimates are voted at the end of the session under the closure and never discussed at all. But there is an obvious answer that can be made. These Estimates are published to the House, and Members of the House by private negotiations between the officials of either Party have an opportunity of raising a particular topic in which they may be interested. It is quite true that the Appropriation Act itself does not give a very free and complete debate, but the Estimates in Committee do give that opportunity and this grant was raised specifically in the debate on the Estimates.
§ MR. BOWLES (Lambeth, Norwood)
The right hon. Gentleman forgets, I think, that the opportunity to which he refers was taken at a time when we had not the regulations before us, and when therefore it was impossible for the House to know what was the real meaning and intention of the grant.
§ MR. McKENNA
I have a copy of the regulations here. It will be observed that the noble Lord in raising the point did not refer to a single regulation to which he objected. There was not a single objection raised to the regulations on the Appropriation Act. The regulations were in the hands of members, and not a single question was raised upon them. It is a mere afterthought at this time of day to raise a debate on the regulations when, as everybody knows, the real issue between us was whether this money should be spent under the authority of the Appropriation Act or could only be spent under the authority of a Bill which would have had to have the consent of the other House of Parliament, and would have been liable to amendment. That is the real reason, and it is mere hair-splitting to get up a case now 916 upon the date on which the regulations were issued. The noble Lord said it was open to the Board to allocate this money as they please, and he was good enough in the course of his speech to refer to Monmouthshire and Denbighshire. I regret to say that I am unable to give the House the facts in regard to these two counties. But I can say in regard to the part of Monmouthshire which I represent that not one half-penny of this money has been allocated or applied for. I anticipate that the northern counties in Wales will receive a far larger proportion of this money than any other county. [Laughter]. The hon. Member opposite laughs. It is for the very purpose of meeting such cases as exist throughout Wales that the grant is made; it was for the purpose of dealing with parishes in which the overwhelming mass of the people are of one faith and the school is of another faith. Therefore, it will necessarily turn out that a larger proportion of the money has been spent in Wales. I am sorry that the noble lord is not in his place now.
§ MR. BRIDGEMAN (Shropshire, Oswestry)
said the noble Lord had been called away on a matter of urgency.
§ MR. McKENNA
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will communicate to him the facts. Then the noble Lord, I think, exceeded perhaps the ordinary courtesy of debate when he used the word "blackmail." I will not refer further to that point. I did not understand the hon. Member for the London University to say that the recent action of the Board of Education has not been in accordance with the traditional principles of administration in this country.
§ SIR PHILIP MAGNUS
said he had distinctly stated that bethought the action of the Board of Education, in the manner in which they issued the regulations to which he had referred, was not in accordance with the traditional principles of the administration of the Board in England.
§ MR. McKENNA
The principles referred to in the Amendment are the principles of fair dealing. It is intended to charge me with unfair dealing. I do not gather that the hon. Member wishes to say that; he only disagrees with the method of dealing with secondary schools 917 by regulation. The answer to that is that secondary schools have never been dealt with otherwise than by regulation, and if I had dealt with them in any other way I would have established a precedent. I have followed absolutely the course which alone has been followed by the Board in past years. I gave ample notice on 15th May of the intentions of the Board, and those intentions were received at the time not with disfavour by the hon. Baronet opposite, who, speaking on the evening of 15th May, on the subject of training colleges, admirably summarised the effect of the change. He said:—The requirements of the proposed con science clause did not scorn to him to amount to more than this, that Nonconformists would he able to go to Church colleges, and that Church of England students would be able to go to Nonconformist colleges, both without any fear of proselytising.Then with regard to the secondary schools, I am much indebted to the hon. Gentleman for his kindly words in reference to these, and for saying that at any rate some of the regulations had improved the standard of education in these schools. No one would suggest that these regulations are issued for all time. There is a tendency in education as well as in other things, and regulations are issued in order to regulate or promote that tendency; but these regulations are subject to alterations from year to year, and it would not be fair to argue that because the regulations of 1907 would have a particular effect if continued for ever, they were therefore bad. It is quite conceivable that in 1909, 1910, or 1912, they may be changed in one direction or another, perhaps more, perhaps less than they had been changed in 1907. The hon. Member for South Kerry raised a question in regard to the refusal of the Board of Education to accept a resolution of the Southampton local education authority for a waiver of the regulations in the case of a particular Catholic school in that town. I am afraid my hon. friend has not read the regulations perfectly accurately. The particular regulation referred to gave power to the Board to accept or refuse any waiver that might be asked for. The principle upon which the Board proceeded is very clear and simple. In the Southampton case it was found on examination that the school was not essentially a Catholic school. In so far as the 918 children attending the school were concerned, it was largely a Protestant school. It also appeared that the local education authority, while they were asking us for the waiving of the regulations, did not themselves contribute to the support of the school. It would certainly have been construed as a very strong evidence that they considered the school necessary to the educational supply of the district if they were themselves willing to contribute something towards its-support, but the local authority were quite willing that Parliament should provide the funds. My hon. friend is always very fair, but he will see that in this case, although there was need for additional secondary school supply in Southampton, it was not for a school of this kind. There was need, not for an additional grant for a Catholic school in which a considerable number of non-Catholic children are being taught, but for an additional supply of secondary school accommodation by the local authority. I think that under these circumstances the Board are justified in refusing to allow the waiver when it is not shown that on the whole the school is a necessary part of the supply of secondary education in Southampton. This case caused me a considerable amount of trouble and anxiety. In every case I do my best to deal with the particular circumstances of the school. Where I am satisfied that the local education authority have acted according to the spirit of the regulations I allow a waiver; but, on the contrary, where I hold that the local authority have not done so, I feel myself bound not to allow the waiver. I have now dealt with all the points which have been raised. It is very difficult for a Minister to answer on the spur of the moment all o£ the very various charges which may be brought against him. I was attacked by the Leader of the Opposition much more strongly outside this House than I have been in it, because I had misused, so it was said, the powers of my office. I think that before any such charge is made against me I ought to be supplied with the particulars. I am entitled to know what is the particular act that I have committed which is contrary to the previous practice of the Board. I should like to be informed of precisely similar cases, and what the previous action of the Board was, and whether I have departed from it. But at the present time 919 I am made a target by hon. Gentlemen opposite for vague charges which they have never attempted to substantiate. They charge me with practices contrary to the duties of my office, but what they really mean is that they dislike my policy. They are at perfect liberty to say that they dislike my policy. I do not complain of that, and I should be surprised if they did not. I am not put here to carry out their policy; but they are not entitled, when all that they mean is that they do not like what I am doing, to charge me personally with unfair dealing; and I ask if they wish to persist in that course that they should give me definite facts so that I can either definitely refute them or definitely admit them. I can assure them that they will never find me unwilling to meet any charges which they have to make against me.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON (Oxford University)
The right hon. Gentleman has to some extent based his defence against one of the charges made by the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone, upon a portion of my policy, when I was at the Board of Education. He maintains that he has not departed from this policy. I do not agree with him. I do not for a moment object to the views of the right hon. Gentleman merely because they are not identical with my own, nor do I expect that he should carry out an educational policy which I am likely to appreciate. What the noble Lord meant, and what I mean in supporting his Amendment, is that the right hon. Gentleman has departed from the traditional principles of administration. The Board of Education has to discharge a number of judicial functions; and we expect that judicial functions should be discharged in a judicial spirit. It has to determine many points of difference between the local educational authorities and the managers. It has to determine, judicially, when the moment has arrived to bring into force the Defaulting Authorities Act. Last session there was in the case of the Merionethshire teachers an acknowledged case of extreme hardship which the right hon. Gentleman might have remedied in a moment. But he simply referred the teachers to a court of law, and it was not until weeks afterwards that tardy justice was done by the local authorities to the teachers. I believe that in the Swansea case, the managers 920 complained, in the spring of 1905, of differential treatment by the local educational authority of Swansea, and when I left office at the close of 1905, the question whether the voluntary school managers had been fairly treated, had come almost to an issue. My successor in office was clearly of opinion that the school was not fairly treated, because in the middle of 1906 he desired the local education authority to take the earliest possible steps to remedy the undoubtedly unfair situation. When the right hon. Gentleman came into office, the local authority raised an entirely different case, and were allowed to start a new demand for a playground. The managers did their utmost to provide a playground and sent in plans to the local authority, but the local authority was allowed to suspend the maintenance of the schools, and the managers had to pay for it out of their own pockets for several months, until at last the Board of Education took the matter up, and the right hon. Gentleman adopted a course which, as he tells us, is approved by the managers if not by the local authority. I do not say that the eventual settlement was not satisfactory, but I do contend that the local authority was allowed quite unnecessarily and unreasonably to prolong the proceedings, and to refuse maintenance, during which time the managers had to pay for the maintenance out of their own pockets.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
The Board of Education had plenty of means at its disposal to prevent hardship to the managers when the local authority refused to pay money which they had to pay, and which they ought to pay. As to the case of the Garforth voluntary school, the right hon. Gentleman states that it merely depended upon a point of law. There was much more in the case than a mere question of law. There was no doubt a lack of accommodation in the voluntary school. The accommodation supplied by the Roman Catholics and the Anglicans between them did not meet the needs of the population, and the local authority proceeded to provide it. This was fair enough. The voluntary school was overcrowded, and it was necessary and 921 reasonable that some children should be transferred from it to the council school. But what the local authority wanted was to turn the voluntary school into an infants' school so that the parents of the children who desired denominational teaching for their children above the age of seven would be compelled to send them to a board school where they would not got it. That was obviously unfair. It was an instance of the fact that there are local authorities who are desirous, so far as they can, to dispense with the existence of voluntary schools. The Board of Education not once only but twice told them that their action in the matter was unjustifiable: and then in the middle of July the Board of Education changed their policy, and allowed the local authority to proceed in the direction they desired. The case then went into Court, and the Judge who tried it, a very careful Judge, said some things which I regret should have to be said about a Government Department. Mr. Justice Channell said in his judgment—The House of Lords held that the liability to maintain is a liability to maintain the school as it was and not as it might be.That is, as a school for children of all ages with no power to turn it into an infant school. The learned Judge also said—The directions given by the defendants were ultra vires and there was no jurisdiction in the Board of Education to make them intra vires and any direction to do so was ultra vires of the Board. In truth and in substance, the course taken in the present case seems to be simply an attempt to get out of the decision of the House of Lords, that voluntary schools must be taken as they are, and it is an unsuccessful attempt.He goes on to say that—One thing neither the Board nor the defendants can do is to say that because they do not like the law as it stands they will give directions which will frustrate its objects.The Judge clearly seems to think that the Board have deliberately attempted to set aside the decision of the House of Lords, for he says later—There are some words in the Act which make it a matter of doubt whether a Court of Law can interfere, if the Board of Education are prepared to take the responsibility of disregarding the law.It is not pleasant to think that a Government Department can be supposed to contemplate such a course. It appears to me the Judge took the view that the 922 I decision of the House of Lords was clear, that it was binding on the Board of Education and that the Board of Education disregarded the decision of the House of Lords, in endeavouring to make the law not what it was but what they wished it to be. Happily the decision of the Lords in the West Riding case made this a point for a Court of Law to decide, as it did, and set matters right, although there are some words in the Act which might make it difficult if the Board of Education was deliberately determined to ignore the law. After I that decision and the facts on which it was based one does lose a certain amount of confidence in the administration of the Department, and although in one case there may be a mistake of fact and another may be a mistake of law, I the steps all point the same way, and there seems to be a determination on the part of the Board to put a construction on the Act which presses hardly upon the voluntary schools. That is all I have to say, as to the judicial action of the Board, in regard to voluntary schools. I now turn to the regulations. Now the regulations may be good or they may be bad. I am not going to discuss that but what I do say is that whether good or bad, there are portions of those regulations which ought not to have been merely administrative acts, but which ought to have been dealt with by legislation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said and said with perfect truth—There is no legislation of any sort dealing with the subsidising of training colleges.And that is equally true with regard to the grants made to the secondary schools. Why is it that Parliament has never imposed any conditions on the treatment by the Board of money given to it for training colleges and secondary schools? What is the explanation? It is because the Board has always been trusted to deal with these matters educationally. You may look at the whole history of these regulations for training colleges and secondary schools, and you may look in vain for any clause or article which imposes any religious restriction of any sort or kind, except the statutory requirement of the conscience clause, upon a grant of money by the Board of Education. There has been no such restriction and 923 now what happens? The Minister by an administrative act imposes as a Condition of a grant to all future training colleges the acceptance of the Cowper-Temple clause, and he makes a regulation in regard to existing denominational training colleges—which are something like four-fifths of the whole number of training colleges—which will practically have the effect of leaving them denominational colleges merely in name and full of undenominational students. That is the effect of these regulations. I will not go into their merits. I entirely endorse my own statement of the 15th May which has been read out with such emphasis and better than I could have done it myself by the President of the Board of Education. I was then glad, and am glad now, that the Nonconformists should be able to go to a Church of England training college, or the Anglican should go to the Nonconformist college, without any fear of their religious opinions being in any way interfered with. But this need not have changed the character of colleges by insistence on rules which may flood them with Nonconformist students and it is a very different thing to impose, by a regulation, on all colleges, whether they are provided out of public or private funds, the acceptance of this Cowper-Temple clause. The same is the case with regard to the secondary school regulations. I hope the House and all interested in secondary schools will bear in mind that the secondary school regulations contain an article in which it is promised that if the local authority by resolution declares to the Board of Education that a school is a necessary part of the accommodation for secondary education in the district, and that they desire that it should go on as it is, the Board will take that into account. I know of several such cases, and I shall be glad to learn whether the President of the Board of Education attaches much importance to the wishes, on this point, of those great popularly elected authorities, which his followers profess to admire and support. But there is another point, and that is the effect of these regulations upon trust deeds. The Board of Education have succeeded to the powers of the Charity Commissioners in regard to endowed schools, and it is idle to tell us as the President has told us, that those powers are not judicial and not to be exercised in a judicial spirit. I recollect very 924 well that at the time of the passing of the Education Act of 1899 there were many Members of this House who expressed fear lest when the powers of dealing with these trusts were handed over from a non-political to a political department, they might be used for political purposes, or at any rate for sectarian purposes. I recollect it very well, because it was the second time that I ventured to address the House, and I hope with becoming modesty I urged that a Government Department such as the Board of Education, might be trusted to administer these judicial powers in a judicial spirit, and I refused to entertain for a moment the idea that the Department would depart from the rules and practice of the Charity Commissioners in regard to trust deeds. I well remember that Lord Hugh Cecil took a different view and made a point of the fact that I had then only just emerged from academic seclusion, and did not know the ways of Government Departments but I went on my way confident that I was right, and I am very sorry to say that I have been proved wrong. But we are told that the Government are doing nothing more than we did when we passed the Kenyon-Slaney clause. What does the Kenyon-Slaney clause do? The trust deeds of certain schools placed the whole control of the religious instruction in the hands of the parson. The Kenyon-Slaney clause provided that the religious instruction, which must be in accordance with the terms of the trust, should not be solely in the hands of the parson, but should be in the hands of the parson and his colleagues the managers of the schools. But does anyone suppose that the character of the schools or of the religious teaching of the schools was altered? As a matter of fact it was not altered in any way.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
When you say that no religious catechism or formulary distinctive of any religious denomination shall be used in the teaching of a secondary school—
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
I am talking at this moment of secondary schools, and I say that you propose to alter and 925 seriously alter those trusts, and after the religious character of the schools. I was dealing with secondary schools at the moment. I spoke of existing training colleges before, and pointed out that they are required to submit to regulations which will alter their character, and which will introduce a Nonconformistelement into their body, on a scale which will entirely defeat the scheme of religious education under which they have hitherto lived. In the case of secondary schools the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the action of the Kenyon-Slaney clause was a hard act of the legislature, whereas here the people concerned were invited "on their own initiative to put into operation the machinery of the Charitable Trusts Acts so that their trusts can be made more elastic and so as to enable them to avail themselves of the aid of public money." What is meant by the trusts being made more elastic? It means, in my opinion, that the character of the whole institution will be altered. What is meant by initiative? There is no initiative. What is said to the Colleges is, "Do it or be starved." I think that if that alternative is put before them the initiative is of a somewhat illusory character. The right hon. Gentleman did not seem to think that it mattered very much Whether these things were done by legislation or adminstration. Surely it does matter very much whether religious disabilities are imposed by Statute or by a Government department which uses money entrusted to it for educational purposes in order to impose sectarian restriction. I think it matters a great deal. We have heard a great deal about the mode in which the £100,000 was smuggled through the House and is now used in a manner which certainly needs to be inquired into. That again was a matter which ought to have come before the House of Commons and which has gone from its purview, and when the right hon. Gentleman maintained that everything was constitutional with regard to the £100,000 he forgot that it is not merely the disposal of the money that can be questioned, but that the Public Accounts Committee emphatically denounced this method of obtaining the money.
§ MR. McKENNA
The Public Ac-counts Committee condemned it on the 926 ground of surprise, that the House might not be a ware of what it was voting. That could be the case and it did not exist in this matter.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that when the Estimates were moved these regulations were not on the table. We knew nothing whatever except the words of the Estimate, namely, that the £100,000 was to be used to assist the local authorities in building schools. There was no explanation as to the conditions under which it was to be used. It was perfectly true that we knew some time before that the Board of Education was going to ask for £100,000. But of the destination of that £100,000 we knew nothing whatever except that it was for the use of the local authorities. The whole thing was so carried on that we on this side of the House really wish to know something more about the employment of the money, although hon. Members opposite may be quite willing to vote as the Ministers decide. By this use of administrative powers there have now been withdrawn from this House matters which were proper for our discussion, and the way in which the Government have withdrawn those matters from the purview of this House is only a part of the general policy of the Government in the matter of procedure. We know how many of the Bills that Government introduce go to another place undiscussed as to large portions of them, and now we are informed that legislation is needless if a Mnister can effect his purpose by regulation or administrative act. No doubt he can do so. The powers of administration are very wide, they were left very wide, because this House and the country always believed they would not be robbed of their proper rights of discussion. In the course of this last year, not merely in the matter of the £100,000, not merely in the cases that we have seen day by day in the administrative and judicial work of the Board, but in the introduction of serious matters into the regulations which ought to have been brought before us in the form of legislation, we have reason to distrust the Department. It is a matter of very great regret that a Department, the greater part of whose work ought to be uncontroversial, should 927 by these new regulations have brought into the region of political and religious controversy matters as to which happily hitherto there had only been differences of opinion on purely educational grounds.
§ MR. ACLAND (Yorkshire, Richmond)
said that one point which struck him in the speech he had just listened to was that in which the hon. Baronet talked about religious disabilities being forced upon schools by these regulations. The hon. Baronet actually quoted the opening words of the Cowper-Temple Clause as to no catechism or formula of any particular denomination being taught in the schools, and said that that had been violently imposed on the voluntary schools. That was an absolute mistake. The Cowper-Temple Clause had not been imposed on the voluntary schools at all. The conscience clause, a totally different thing, had been introduced in the secondary schools and it was a very good thing too. But with regard to the Cowper-Temple Clause that applied to elementary schools only, and there were dozens of those schools under these regulations which were still going on just as before without any interference from the Board of Education.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said there was a distinct regulation that no catechism or formulary distinctive of any particular religious denomination should be used in any schools which were paid the higher grant, nor in any schools which applied for grants for the first time after this year. There was great doubt left in the regulations whether a school which received the lower grant this year, and which continued its denominational teaching, would next year receive any grant at all.
§ MR. ACLAND
thought it would be still found that under these regulations as under the old, there were dozens of schools which still received the lower and higher grants which were going on in the way they always had without interference. To represent the provision contained in this regulation as the violent imposition of the religious disabilities of the Cowper-Temple Clause on the secondary schools was to represent what was not the fact. The charge of unfair dealing as between one side 928 and the other seemed, when it came to the test, to dwindle down to very small proportions. It was admitted that the cases of Merioneth and Swansea had been settled and there was no charge with regard to them, and the only case that remained with regard to the action of the right hon. Gentleman was Garforth. As to that the most that could be said was that there was a mistake as to the proper interpretation of the Act. When the cry of unjust treatment of schools dwindled down to that case he thought the cry which they heard so often through the recess could not have much foundation. It so happened that he for some years was employed as a civil servant in the Secondary Board of Education, and therefore he could give an answer to one or two points which had been raised by the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion as to whether or not there had been a departure from previous custom in the manner in which these regulations had been issued. It was suggested that these regulations should have been laid on the Table for a month; that that was the usual course in these matters; and that in the case of these resolutions that had not been done. He could show that that was not so when regulations, as in this case, were included in the Directory of the Science and Art branch of the Education Department. The Directory had never been laid on the Table of the House. With regard to the charge that the new regulations were suddenly sprung on the House a few weeks before they came into force he could testify, having been concerned in the annual production of the Directory, that these regulations came out rather earlier than was usually the case in the Directory with regard to the secondary schools. The Board of Education had for successive years modified and interfered with the general conditions under which these schools got their grants quite apart from the educational provisions made for particular schools. He remembered a great stir among the secondary schools in receipt of grants when Clause 7 of the Directory said that grants would thereafter only be given to secondary schools acting in unity with the local authority. Things which made a very great stir had 929 been done by the Directory quite oustside the ordinary provisions with regard to the government of the schools. They have been done for years prior to the tenure of the present Government. What did all this come to after all? The atmosphere of the colleges would still be preserved in spite of the regulations, for the teachers in the future as in the past would be members of the denomination, and the governing body would be as purely denominational as before. All that the regulations would do would be to enable a student who professed a different belief, but who yet desired to be admitted to a college, to say that he was of a different denomination rather than that he should do as many hundreds of teachers had been willing to do in the past—be confirmed, for instance, if he desired to enter a Church College, though still retaining his own faith and so acting the hypocrite. The present system was far better. He desired, in conclusion, to comment on another point, namely, the allegation that there had been no discussion of these matters. He had a very painful cognisance of the extent to which opportunity was afforded for discussion. He had stood up last session every time there was a discussion on education, hoping to get called upon, but he had not that privilege. At the end of the session it struck him that it would be worth while to add up the number of hours fruitlessly occupied in rising in his place during the discussions last session. The right hon. Baronet had said that education was never discussed last session. He entirely agreed with him. But these other matters, the question of the £100,000 and the question of training colleges, were actually before the House for eleven hours, and they were vehemently discussed on more than one occasion; therefore, it was rather hard to be told now that these things had been sprung upon them without opportunity for discussion or control.
§ SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
said the right hon. Gentleman would forgive his expression of the very great regret with which he had heard some of the remarks which had fallen from him, one of them being that he was not placed on that bench in order to do 930 their will. He ventured to say that the Minister for Education, whichever side of the House he might sit upon, was bound to have regard to education as a whole. If there was anything which, under our system of Government, ought to be outside party politics, it was education. If they looked at the school, and the child in the school, they would see what an absurdity it was even to think that the educational future of that child should depend on the political ascendancy of one or other political party at the time. He believed that if the truth were told the right hon. Gentleman had some regret that the House had not had an opportunity in the year 1907 of fully considering the Education Code; because in answer to a Question which he had put to him in May he distinctly stated that one of the allotted days would be devoted to the discussion of the Education Estimates. That promise made to the House through him was not fulfilled. He had no doubt that circumstances had proved too strong for the right hon. Gentleman, but he trusted that the disappointment felt on that occasion would form some apology for his taking part in the debate that night. He did not think much had turned on the legality or otherwise of the regulations. No doubt regulations had been made from time to time for many years; and there was one remarkable circumstance about the regulations of this year that several pages of them were occupied by what was termed an extract from, but which he believed was rather a transcript of the regulations of his right hon. friend below him, issued in 1904–5. Regulations had been issued from time to time, but there were several characteristics which marked them all. They had been submitted under such circumstances that they could be thoroughly well considered by those who were brought within the range of their influence. There was an opportunity given for representations being made to the Government of the day. There were means of full discussion, and he believed he was not wrong in his memory when he said that the wholesome fruit of many of the debates was that regulations were modified in important particulars, and all those who cared for 931 education were brought into one line and acted, for the most part, with concord. Last year they had to complain that the regulations were issued too late. One Member who preceded him seemed to hold a different opinion. He was himself the governor of no less than five large schools, and they had never had an opportunity of considering these regulations. The summer holiday had commenced, and their opportunity was not merely limited, but was absolutely non-existent. Not only had they to complain of the late period at which the regulations were issued, but they had also to complain of the character of those regulations. They were regulations which had in the most material manner changed many of the schools. In some cases, it was true, the changes had been such that either they could be accepted at once, or were so slight as to be no change at all. He believed in many cases day schools could be worked under them, but as a governor of large boarding schools he was perfectly certain that the regulations were not consistent with the proper working of many such schools. The provision as to free places was entirely inconsistent with the system and organisation of a great boarding school. And the regulations, as now laid down, would affect religious teaching. These changes were, he did not say of a vital character, but of such a nature that they ought to have been produced in ample time to give those who were parents, and those who were responsible as masters and examiners for the working of the schools, every opportunity of full discussion and ample consideration. As regarded the Church training colleges he was in a position to say that those who had influence in those institutions were prepared to deal with the proposals coming from the Government, he did not say in a sympathetic, but he did say in a liberal spirit. At a meeting held yesterday, under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, a meeting representing, he believed with about two exceptions, all the Church of England training colleges, a resolution was passed that they would accept a conscience clause, provided that the exceptions and the working of that conscience clause did not interfere with the general character of the school and 932 the object and purposes for which it had been founded at an enormous cost, and so continued during many years. He would certainly rejoice if some solution could be found for the difficulty. The work done by the training colleges had been of a most admirable character. It had made a great impression upon the life of successive generations, and those salutary influences by which had been formed the character of those who attended the colleges would be continued in their children. He himself deprecated purely secular education, and if there were any institutions in which a purely secular education would be fatal it would be the training colleges wherein pupil-teachers were taught, and wherein their characters were moulded. He would not enter into details as regarded the regulations. They were perhaps rather too minute in their character to be discussed across the Moor of the House. He sincerely hoped that other opportunities might be given for discussion, in order that some adjustment might be made or some modification effected, so that the operation of the regulations, so modified, might be less harsh than they at present appeared. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the regulations had dropped a hint which he was prepared to welcome, that these regulations were not permanent in their character, and he hoped they never would be. The system of our education was a growing and an expanding system, and except the regulations by which that education was carried on were elastic they would be an incongruity and an impossibility fatal to sound and healthy progress in education. He certainly sincerely hoped that the Government, whichever Government might be in power, would never approach this subject or deal with it in a spirit of conquest. It was essential to the progress of education that there should be a spirit of harmony and con-cord, a spirit of mutual confidence and kindly regard. It was only in the atmosphere created by such a spirit that the minds of the young people could be developed and their characters formed in such a manner that they might become useful members of society and perform in their turn those great duties to their families and to the country which each 933 generation in succession was called upon to discharge. He hoped that in the course of the next few months there would be such modifications made that present difficulties might be removed, and he was sure that the result of such modifications would be greater content with the system under which schools were guided, and therefore a more firm and a more salutary progress in the good work of education.
§ MR. ADKINS (Lancashire, Middleton)
said there were few Members in any part of the House who, if like the hon. Baronet they cared for education, would have cause to regret what had happened in that debate on the noble Lord's Amendment. It was indeed open to comment that on a formal Amendment to the Address they should have had individual cases brought forward in a way which was more appropriate to the Estimates, but he doubted if anyone in the House, even the noble Lord himself, continued to pay much attention to the individual cases which had been so thoroughly disposed of. What had been undoubtedly interesting was to perceive the attempt made by one or two hon. Gentlemen on the other side, not merely to express very different educational views of the regulations, but to suggest that there was something almost unconstitutional or entirely out of tradition in the way in which his right hon. friend had dealt with the matter. He would like to point out that the hon. Baronet opposite who had made the greater part of his speech turn on the iniquity of the new regulations with regard to training colleges, over and over again said that while he was willing to see Nonconformists admitted to Church colleges and Churchmen to Nonconformist colleges, this was going to destroy the character of these training colleges. What did the character of an institution depend on, upon those who were admitted, or rather on those who were governing it? On what did the character of philanthropic societies or any organisation for any good purpose depend? On those who were in control of it. By these regulations the control of training colleges was absolutely left untouched. Under these regulations although four-fifths of the money necessary to maintain them came from public 934 sources to which everyone contributed, they were still to be left exclusively to private management with a special atmosphere and with tests for teachers and officials. If that was to be debated there was far more ground for criticism on that side of the House at the imperfect way in which sound principles had been applied than for ingratitude on the part of Members opposite, who had so much of their traditional privileges left to them even under a Liberal Administration. Then they were told there was something strangely unusual or unconstitutional in suggesting that there should be no additional training colleges of a denominational character in future. His right hon. friend had read a letter the other day in public which perhaps he might be allowed to refer to. This was a letter written by the Board of Education in 1898 in reply to a request for the establishment of an additional denominational college. In it the applicant was informed that the Report of the majority of the Royal Commission on the Elementary Education Act, while recommending that grants to existing denominational colleges should not be disturbed, did not appear to favour the recognition of new colleges of that character. It was further pointed out that if the grant was made to an additional denominational training college its permanence would be extremely doubtful, and the award of such a grant might not improbably raise the religious test question not only with regard to that college but also as regarded existing training colleges, and therefore the Board was of opinion that the proposed college should not be recognised. That was done while the Duke of Devonshire was Minister for Education, and the application was refused. Six years after, when the hon. Baronet was representing the Board of Education, an additional denominational training college was sanctioned. They had these decisions inconsistent with each other done by pure acts of administration, without the House being consulted at all; and then when the problem was dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman issuing regulations which were made public the House was told forsooth that that was not in accordance with tradition. It was not indeed in accordance with the secret tradition of doing these things 935 secretly without letting the House know; but it was in accordance with the better tradition of letting the House of Commons know before the administration took a definite line upon a matter of this kind. He would like to say a word with regard to the regulations affecting the secondary schools. The hon. Baronet had said it was the duty of the Board of Education to deal with these matters publicly and educationally. They might frankly admit that they took different views, not only of educational aims, but of educational methods, and it was inevitable that methods adopted by one President and by that House at one time might not be in accord with the wishes of the minority or with the views they entertained, but he was certain that the great majority of the House held that these regulations which were passed after a debate on 15th May, and which again came up for discussion on the Estimates on 11th July, were intended to deal educationally with educational problems, and they did so deal. One great reason for many of these regulations—that most important regulation which opened wider the door of secondary schools to the children of the poor, the regulation no less important which connected secondary school work with the representative local institutions of the country—was that they were increasingly demanded because they required money and help, not merely from Parliament, but from local authorities, and they would never get it from local authorities unless they had adequate representation and unless the interests of the public generally were aroused. Accordingly these regulations one and all, whether they were agreed to by hon. Members opposite or whether they were disagreed with, were at any rate supported on that side of the House on educational grounds. He was sure no one who had heard the whole of that debate would have any hesitation whatever in coming to the conclusion that there was no ground on which any reasonable man could impugn the right hon. Gentleman personally or the Board of Education generally, of doing anything which was not inspired by a sincere desire to assist secondary education in the country, where it was far from being what it should be.
§ MR. LYTTELTON (St. George's, Hanover Square)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down seemed to imagine that positions generally taken up by my noble friend have been abandoned in the course of the debate. I do not think that is the case. I do-not wish to use harsh language. I quite agree that it would be a deplorable thing for this country if our Government Departments were administered in a spirit of partisanship. But I am sorry to say I think there has been given in this debate ground for believing that there has been partisanship shown in the administration of the Department of Education. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has given an adequate or indeed any reply to many of the charges made against him and his Department, and I think it would be insincere for me if for a moment I pretended I thought he had. Nothing is more desirable to continue in this country than the general respect for the Government. I agree that we have our differences about policy, but there is a wide-spread belief that successive Governments will fairly and impartially administer the laws of the country even when they have the most profound disagreement with them. The right hon. Gentleman thought he had disposed of the specific cases brought forward by my noble friend. But he has entirely failed to do so. It is a scandal that when his right hon. colleague the Chief Secretary so long ago as September, 1906, definitely pronounced the action of the local authority at Swansea unjust and unfair in withholding from the teachers in voluntary schools salaries which he proclaimed himself ought to be paid to them—I say without hesitation it is a scandal that that matter should be hung up for nearly eighteen months before any effect was given to his words. And more than that, there is a second charge. The local authority at Swansea with regard to the buildings set up first the case that there should be a certain play-ground accommodation. The managers professed themselves quite prepared to comply with that, but no sooner had they done that than the request was substantially altered, so that the care they had shown, the trouble they had taken, and the cost 937 they had been put to, were at any rate for a long time thrown away.
§ MR. McKENNA
I am fully familiar with all the facts in both cases, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that he is mistaken in every point. If he will quote the letters and the correspondence I can prove to him that he is absolutely wrong on each point.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I will give the right hon. Gentleman the particulars. First with regard to salaries. I summarise what the Chief Sercetary for Ireland said with regard to this matter. We have heard from the Minister that this matter had been rumbling for some time. The matter came to a head, and the Chief Secretary said on 31st July, 1906—The Board of Education are not aware of any circumstances which would justify a differentiation of the salaries paid to teachers in voluntary and council schools. They feel that the present uncertainty is unjust to the teachers and is gravely imperilling the efficiency of the schools.It is a scandal that after such a declaration from a right hon. Gentleman not passionately addicted to voluntary schools that this rule should not have been put into effect and the salaries of the teachers paid until 18 months after.
§ MR. McKENNA
Really, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is familiar with educational practice. How could I put the declaration of my right hon friend into practice? They were not in default.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I will take which case I think fit. The scandal occurred in Merioneth of a local authority not paying the teachers their salaries which they had earned, and the absence of which caused them to lose their holidays. We pressed the right hon. Gentleman and finally moved the adjournment of the House, and what was the result? That those teachers were paid. Would not a similiar result have followed if pressure had been put on the local 938 authority in Swansea by the right hon. Gentleman and by a debate in this House? Is the right hon. Gentleman so powerless with the Default Act on the Statute Book that he can allow an injustice to take place with reference to the payment of teachers and declare that he is without a remedy? The hon. Baronet sitting near me says that the right hon. Gentleman has power.
§ MR. McKENNA
In the case of Merionethshire the arrangements had been made with the teachers and the amounts specified in the agreements had not been paid. Consequently Merionethshire was in default, and I did exercise my powers and saw that the teachers were paid. In the Swansea case, however, the teachers were paid according to their agreements, and I had no power to go behind those agreements.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
The managers expressed their desire to the right hon. Gentleman to pay the salaries at a higher rate.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
They professed their desire to do so in writing to the right hon. Gentleman, who had the I authority of his right hon. friend that the failure to pay these salaries was an injustice, gravely imperilling the efficiency of the schools, and if the right hon. Gentleman in his quiet moments, when he is not in that state of excitement to which he is subjected at present, will say that in such a situation he is powerless, then somebody will answer him in the course of the debate. I come now to the matter of buildings. There was a school of 900 in which the first demand was that that number should be reduced to 500, and that there should be a certain cubic space of playground provided, and this provision was made. Then the right hon. Gentleman said the managers had totally misunderstood the requisition, and that there was a different amount of playground space requisite for a school of 500 from that of a school for 900. Is that a fair way of treating the managers of the school who had gone to the extent of providing the cubic space they were first invited to do by the local authority? A settlement of this question has I believe been come to and, 939 if the right hon. Gentleman says that the settlement has nothing to do with the meeting of Parliament, I will accept what he says. But the delay is a scandal, and it existed for months and months.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
If the right hon. Gentleman says he has no influence with the local authority, I do not accept that. I am sure he means it honestly, and I do not impugn his veracity. I do not believe, however, that the Minister for Education in a Liberal Administration has no influence with a Radical local authority in Wales.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I now take the case of Garforth. Here is a large mixed school admittedly overcrowded, and the education authority require that the overcrowding should be diminished, and a new school is built. Surely the right thing would have been to have drafted those children who wished to go to the Board school from the voluntary school which was overcrowded. But the action of the local authority in this case simply ruined the voluntary school altogether, because they laid down in effect that after reaching seven years of age every single child should be drafted into the Board school, and should from that time lose its power of attendance at the voluntary school.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I have read Mr. Justice Channeil's judgment with great care, and I say that was the order. This particular school was by the decree of the local authority, and with the support of the Board of Education, practically changed into an infants' school.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
I am afraid I cannot accept the right hon. Gentleman's Statement against that of the Judge who 940 tried the case. Mr. Justice Channell has found that this school was being transformed from a school of children of all ages into an infant school, when the obvious course would have been to draft into the Board school the children whose parents desired it, independently of their age, and not altogether emasculate the teaching in the school by withdrawing all those over seven years of age. This case shows conclusively that a harsh policy was adopted, and it was a capricious and illegal policy with regard to voluntary schools. All those charges are made out by the actual facts of the case, by the decision of the Law Courts, and finally by the honest judgment of the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor. The right hon. Gentleman considers that he has dealt satisfactorily with the training college regulations, and I quite admit that they contain some excellent educational provisions. I will also say that those who are most interested in them are meeting the matter in a spirit of broadness and liberality, but nevertheless I cannot exempt the Minister for Education from a grave misconception of his duty. When those regulations were issued the right hon. Gentleman evidently was not aware of the serious legal difficulties existing. The machinery for passing these regulations without discussion, or at any rate without adequate discussion in this House has brought upon the right hon. Gentleman the fate that such tactics deserve. There is nothing like a discussion in this House for pointing out the infirmities of a scheme. The right hon. Gentleman had to wait until Sir Robert Finlays opinion was published before he was aware that he had issued regulations imposing a fine of £100 upon the doing of that which it would have been illegal to do. If these regulations had been discussed in this House that infirmity would have been brought to the right hon. Gentleman's mind.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
The right hon. Gentleman says he was aware of that fact and yet he resorted to this remarkable method to cure it. He invited the trustees to be partners and principals with him in breaking the most fundamental part of their trusts. He asked them to do that which was illegal by 941 inviting them to make their institutions mixed colleges whereas they were denominational colleges. Surely he could not have expected that any trustees would do such a thing as that. The right hon. Gentleman said he would favourably receive any such application, but I will defy any lawyers from the Ministerial side of the House to get up and say that in administering the Charitable Trusts Act the right hon. Gentleman is not administering with judicial authority. I will defy any lawyer of position to say that the Minister for Education is correct in saying that his duties under the Charitable Trusts Acts are purely administrative or even if they were, that he did not break the elementary duty which belongs to every administrator, and still more to every Judge, to hear the parties interested before he pledged himself to give a decision against them. What did the right hon. Gentleman do? He pledged himself to offer every facility to trustees coming with applications for the alteration and variation of the trusts. That might have involved an entire departure from the wishes of the founders. The founders might be alive or their representatives might be there. The right hon. Gentleman before hearing the founders—[Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman may laugh, but is he really so ignorant of theelementary process of justice, and does he think that it can commend itself to any fair-minded man on his own side of the House that he should openly publish that his mind is predisposed towards an alteration or variation in trusts of which he is made the judge?
§ MR. McKENNA
Under the Charitable Trusts Act application must be made to me by the trustees themselves, and I informed the trustees with such courtesy as I could that that course was always open to them.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
The right bon. Gentleman's memory has again failed him. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will deny that in the letter which he wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury he said that every facility would be given for such applications. If I understand the meaning of the English language he meant that he would facilitate applications made by trustees for the variation of their trusts, although he has 942 never heard the founders of the trusts or their representatives. Now let me say a word as to the merits with respect to the training colleges. I do not think it is strictly accurate to say that a grant of public money is made to the training colleges. Let me explain to the House exactly what occurs. The students obtain scholarships for £50 or £70 a year. This money is got by their own exertions and can be spent in perfecting their education as teachers when they are seventeen or eighteen years of age. The present system enables these embryo teachers to go to whatever training college they think right, whether denominational or undenominational or Roman Catholic, there to use the money earned by their brains. The training college to which they make application is not entitled to a single shilling from them until the close of the two years in which they study, and the receipt of a certificate from the Board of Education that that study has perfected them in the education the Board of Education demand. Therefore, I think nothing could be fairer than that these young people should have the power if they please of selecting any of the training colleges which are open to them. That is the position. I quite admit that there are not sufficient undenominational colleges now in existence, and that is the difficulty which the hon. Member below the gangway pointed out. It is possible when there is no more room in an undenominational college for a student to strain his conscience and to go to a denominational college. How would a fair-minded man meet that difficulty? Surely the conclusion to be drawn from these facts is not that both the denominational and the undenominational colleges should lose their character, but that something should be done to get over the difficulty. How have the training collegesdealt with the matter? They have said—and I cannot imagine anything fairer—"We will build, indeed we have built, hostels, and we will accommodate in them the teachers who do not agree with us, and give them all the secular education they desire in our training colleges. We do not admit them at present as residents, but we do the best we can. We accommodate our own teachers first, and we build hostels for the benefit of those who do not agree with us in religious matters, but who desire secular teaching." I think it is a liberal and a 943 reasonable offer. Is it reasonable for the Minister of Education to seek by these regulations to lay the very people who have done most for training colleges under very serious disabilities and to impair the character of their institutions? [Laughter.] An hon. Gentleman laughs at that, and perhaps I can go so far with him as to say that if I myself were head of a training college I would not think that any blow would be inflicted upon the religious life of that college if a Nonconformist were admitted. Neither have I the least doubt that anything but benefit would result by the meeting in the hostel of Nonconformists and members of the Church of England; but that I only give as a personal opinion. After all, it is the system under which many of us have been brought up at the University. There we had free entrance into a great many colleges of men of all kinds of opinion; but there you also have certain denominational colleges, both Nonconformist and Church of England, where those requiring denominational education can receive and enjoy it. But for the future the growth of training colleges in that way will be arrested by these regulations. Is that liberal? I cannot believe that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite with broad and liberal views, like the Chief Secretary for Ireland, can possibly say that they have a right to tell the managers of training colleges, who have foe years done their duty, that they will be prevented from keeping up their own denominational colleges in their own way, and from building hostels for the accommodation of those who differ from them in religion. Surely the true view is that they should, if possible, maintain the religious character of these schools for the thousands of teacher's who will wish it to be preserved, those of another opinion being perfectly accommodated in hostels or in undenominational colleges. On such lines one sees reasons for hoping that a settlement may be arrived at without violence to institutions which have done admirable work in the past. The right hon. Gentleman has repeatedly said that the receipt of public money must carry with it the necessity of opening the doors of the training colleges to everybody. I venture to differ from that opinion. I agree with Dr. Clifford that the mere fact that an endowment has been made a long time ago 944 does not constitute any absolute assurance that the faiths for which these endowments were given continue in their former vitality; but I think that the Government can satisfy itself that the faiths for which these endowments were primarily made do exist. If in any case this cannot be done, the true corollary is not the destruction of all the denominational colleges. The true corollary is to find out whether the beliefs which caused them to be founded exist still, and to maintain them where they do, but to give the fullest opportunity by building other colleges for those who entertain different views to obtain similar accommodation.
§ MR. CAVE (Surrey, Kingston)
was most distinctly of opinion that the powers of the Board of Education under the Charitable Trusts Act and transferred to it by statute were powers to be exercised judicially. It was quite clear that was so, because the Act specially provided that the power should not be used except after due notice to all interested, and after giving to everybody concerned a chance of being heard in the matter.
§ MR. CAVE
said the Board of Education had issued regulations under which it was impossible for certain colleges to obtain Government grants under the trust deeds as they stood, because the trust deeds gave a preferential position to certain denominations. What did the right hon. Gentleman do? he published a letter in which he said, "You will get over the difficulty if you apply to the Board to exercise its judicial powers, and we will give you facilities for that." The right hon. Gentleman said that all those matters would not only be open to the Court but that the Court would be prejudiced in favour of the action of the trustees. Any ordinary man would read the letter in that sense. It was not accurate to say that the letter stated "You may apply if you please;" it meant, "We invite you to apply; you had better apply, and when you do come to the Court you will find the Court very much in your favour, and when the other party comes he will find the Court prejudiced against him." That was not a power which ought to be used, or under which any Department of the State ought 945 to act. Suppose that an application was made by a body of trustees to obtain, under these conditions, a money grant, and supposing that the decision of the Board, as no doubt it would be, was in favour of the proposal; and suppose the other persons interested had a right of appeal with the Court of Chancery, if the Court of Chancery reversed the decision of the Board of Education the result must be that because the Court thought that the trust ought to stand, a college presumably efficient and well-conducted would be deprived of any grant owing to the Regulation issued by the Board of Education, and great injustice would be done. He protested against the practice of using a power conferred on a body to be used impartially for one purpose, being employed for the purpose of advancing the policy of a Government. He had the keenest remembrance of the debate on the Merionethshire case and on the Swansea case, and when they were proved to be right in the position they then took in regard to those two cases, they were entitled to look very carefully into the action of the Board of Education. He remembered the defence of the right hon. Gentleman last year in regard to Merionethshire; he doubted whether anyone believed the right hon. Gentleman's answer was satisfactory, and he was afraid that the suspicions they then entertained regarding the action of the Board of Education were well founded. As to the training colleges, he understood that there were more places in the undenominational than in the denominational colleges open to intending teachers; and he thought that after the Board had used the denominational colleges for their own educational purposes for years past, and encouraged them to incur a large expenditure of money upon the buildings, it was hardly fair that they should compel the admission into those colleges of students not professing the faith for the teaching of which they were founded. At any rate, priority for places in those colleges ought to be given to students professing that faith. No such provision was, however, made and students of all denominations, irrespective of their faith, would be admitted. He was glad that the debate had taken place and he believed that it would be a benefit.
§ MR. BUTCHER (Cambridge University)
said that he gladly admitted that 946 some of the Regulations marked a real educational advance; but he thought that, if they looked at the Regulations as a whole, and as affecting both the training colleges and the secondary schools, it could not be contended that they had regard to the educational rather than to the religious character of these institutions. They displayed indeed unity of plan, but that plan was to reverse the large and wise tolerance hitherto shown in our legislation on education. It was quite true that the Board of Education had frequently carried out important reforms by means of Regulations, and without legislation; but hitherto such action was within the lines of certain settled principles of policy; the Regulations hitherto had not opened up questions which were highly controversial, which cut deep into the religious life of the country, which touched the consciences of men, and which were contrary to the spirit, if not to the letter, of existing legislation. Surely it was the case that the new Regulations were intended to defeat the intention of an Act of Parliament. The Act of 1902, expressly prohibited local educational authorities to do precisely the things which the Board were now doing by Regulation. Under that Act it was forbidden to discriminate in favour of one denomination against another in making grants of public money; and the only test that the legislature had accepted was the test of educational efficiency, not of religious opinion. That was a point of capital importance, and was a complete reply to the argument used by the Minister for Education, and his friends, that the established practice hitherto had been to settle these matters by way of Regulation. Now the religious restriction introduced by the Regulation into denominational schools, went deeper than the Minister for Education would admit. If he understood the right hon. Gentleman rightly, he contended that the religious character of those schools would not be at all impaired by the new Regulations. The right hon. Gentleman said that the religious teaching could be given just as before in accordance with the trusts, except that there would be a conscience clause He would like to point out as to the nature of the religious teaching henceforth to be permitted, that what was given now was merely precarious facilities instead of the distinctive 947 form of instruction assured under the trust deeds; because the Regulation forbade any catechism or formulary of any particular religious denomination to be taught, except by request of the parents or guardians; and such request "may" be complied with "if the governors think fit." These governors, observe, would not be the governors appointed in accordance with the trusts but the new undenominational governors. That put the denominational teaching entirely at the mercy of a new and perhaps hostile undenominational body; how then could the Minister for Education contend that the religious teaching in the schools would be left as it was before? An hon. Member in the course of his speech asked what it was on which the character of a school depended? and his answer was that it depended upon the control or management. He himself did not entirely agree with that answer, for he thought that the character of he school depended upon the body of the scholars even more than on the management. But accepting that answer, if the character of a school depended on the control, the old character of these schools might be effaced by a new governing body appointed under these Regulations. Unless then a school was prepared to divest itself entirely of the character impressed upon it by its founder, it might be deprived of its full share of the bounty of the State. He would not discuss any technical points in regard to the trust deeds, as they had been dealt with so fully by other hon. Gentlemen. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer declared that hon. Gentlemen on their side of the House seemed to think it a sacrilegious thing to interfere at all with the intention of the pious founders, and he reminded them that the Minister for Education was not the first person who had interfered with trusts. They were none of them so ignorant or obtuse as not to be aware of that fact. They all knew that when trusts were obsolete, or no longer met the requirements of the age, they were liable to be altered and they ought to be altered. There was no one on those Benches who held any such superstitious idea as to the sanctity of trusts. There was therefore nothing new in the idea of modifying trust deeds; but what was a new thing, was this. First of all, that the Board of Education acting in its judicial capacity 948 or exercising quasi-judicial powers should, without even hearing the trustees, resolve not to modify but to destroy the trusts in order to carry out a political end; and secondly, that the Board, which hitherto was reputed to be an impartial body, should by a great bribe seek to induce the trustees to cancel their trust deeds. He said by a great bribe; a bribe which at the same time was a veiled threat. He was aware that the Minister for Education disliked the word "bribe." and he noticed that the right hon. Gentleman the other day protested against the word "bribing" being employed. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that he was only using the word which he selected himself, when he described the process which he proposed to adopt on the 15th of May,—"all that the Board of Education could do was to offer the schools the bribe of the general grant." The right hon. Gentleman blundered with absolute precision upon the word which described his real meaning and intention. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer further said "it is not true that the trusts were interfered with by my right hon. friend"; and his argument proceeded, "if you do not choose to conform to these conditions, well and good; no one will force you." But the money was not to be voted; the schools were to be penalised. Was that the Chancellor's idea of a free act and a voluntary agent? Now turning to the training colleges he desired to mark a distinction which had not hitherto been noted between the Regulations which applied to secondary schools, and the Regulations that applied to the training colleges. The secondary schools forfeited the full grant if they did not accept the new conditions, but they still retained the existing grant; at least for the year 1907–8. Moreover, in the case of secondary schools there were many exceptions and waivers by which the stringency of the rule might be relaxed. In the case of the training colleges, however, there were no waivers or exceptions whatsoever. The training colleges if they refused compliance with these conditions would first of all incur the loss of the grant, and secondly they would be removed from the list of recognised colleges. And yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer said "Nobody forces you." The training colleges stood in a very peculiar position. 949 The State had made an honourable compact with these colleges; it had encouraged them to give money, to build, to expand and improve their buildings, and the Church of England in response to that encouragement had spent in the last twelve years a sum of no less than £200,000. If it was possible by a mere administrative order to reverse a matter of State policy, which like so many of our constitutional arrangements rested upon tacit and honourable understanding, then he said they had embarked upon a most dangerous departmental movement. He wondered if the House realised how different were the methods adopted by the Board of Education in England and by the Scotch Education Department in dealing with this question. In Scotland there had been for some time a desire that the nation should become the owner of the training colleges which had hitherto been owned by the several churches. But how did the Scotch Department go to work? It negotiated with the colleges, and found out their views. There were no trusts broken; no compulsion used; a price was offered, and the consent of the colleges obtained; so that without administrative coercion the colleges became by purchase the colleges of the State. Nothing could to his mind illustrate more forcibly the difference of the animus shown in England and the principle which was at work in other parts of the Kingdom. The treatment both of secondary schools and training colleges was, in his opinion, nothing less than a concerted attack upon one Church, and the whole repressive force of the State was being brought to bear in order to make that attack succesful. He called that not education but politics, and politics of the most illiberal and sectarian kind.
§ MR. BRIDGEMAN (Shropshire, Oswestry)
said that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Education, in reply to the noble Lord the Member for Mary-lebone, tried to defend himself from the charge of having neglected the case of the school teachers in Merionethshire and Swansea by saying that he gave way upon the point in dispute. The gravamen of the noble Lord's charge was, however, that he had been an immense time in giving way and doing his duty. He took great credit to himself for giving way, 950 and he read an extract from the Western Mail applauding the way in which he had acted, but the complaint was that he had left it till the last moment before he carried out that measure of justice. And everyone knew why he left it till the last moment. Because at the end of the correspondence it became known to him that the Merionethshire local authority had no objection to the Default Act being brought into use, and those who lived in the neighbourhood of Wales knew that the action of local authorities in regard to this deserving body of elementary school teachers had brought them very great unpopularity, and could very well understand that they wished to be relieved of that unpopularity. It was very easy to see the reason why the action was taken at the very last moment, but anyone might have known that an action so mean must, in the long run, have become unpopular. In regard to the Garforth School in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the right hon. Gentleman told them that all that he had done there was to commit a mistake in the construction of the law. He supposed they might call it a "legal inexactitude." But could anybody for one moment think that the interpretation of the Act of 1902 was not perfectly clear, at any rate as far as its intention went, to anybody in the position of the right hon. Gentleman? What the right hon. Gentleman sanctioned there was the turning of a Church of England school which comprised all standards into a junior school, which would send those scholars above Standard III. to an undenominational school; and if he meant to tell them that by sanctioning such a thing as that he was carrying out the Act of 1902, he thought he would find it very difficult indeed to find anybody to believe him. The right hon. Gentleman might have made a mistake on some technical legal point and be excused, but he could not deny that he knew perfectly well what the spirit of the Act of 1902 was, and he did not carry it out. Then with regard to the training colleges, the right hon. Gentleman said that if they took public money they must conform to public conditions; but their complaint was that they were not public conditions but private. There never had been any opportunity given to the public to know them, and whether it was right or wrong that the training colleges, should have a 951 conscience clause, and should admit people who wanted undenominational teaching, what they complained of was the way in which this had been carried out. It had been done in a way calculated, and deliberately calculated, to make it almost impossible for the training colleges to carry out what was said to be the right hon. Gentleman's intention in the matter. The regulations were not submitted on the 15th May when the right hon. Gentleman told the House what he intended to do. It was not until very much later when the Estimates were being discussed that the regulations were before the House. His complaint was that the regulations were drawn up in such a way that instead of making it easy for the training colleges to adopt thorn it made it difficult. These regulations might very well have been discussed, and arrangements made by which everybody might have agreed to the principle, if they had been placed before the training colleges at an early date instead of being forced through the House at the end of the session. The right hon. Gentleman, when he spoke of the public contribution to these colleges, entirely omitted to take into consideration the fact that the country got a very great advantage from the money they paid to these colleges. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the public conferred an enormous benefit on these institutions by contributing to their funds and did something towards forwarding the propaganda of the Church of England. But what the public did was to pay for the value they received in return. They paid for the teachers turned out of these colleges so equipped as to be qualified to teach in the public schools; and unless the teacher could satisfy them that he was so qualified they did not pay. They conferred no greater benefit on the training colleges than they could be said to confer on a shipbuilder or ordnance manufacturer when they paid for the goods they got. With regard to the £100,000 provided from the Appropriation Act of last year, he desired to point out that the right hon. Gentleman complained very much of any criticism upon this point, and said that if hon. Members would only put their particular cases before him he would give any information he could on those points. He himself had put down six rather lengthy Questions as to certain schools for 952 to-morrow, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would fulfil his promise. He was not, however, very sanguine of obtaining answers, because when they asked what was to be the allocation of this £100,000, the right hon. Gentleman said he could not possibly say, and that they would only know at some date when it would be impossible to discuss it, because the whole thing would be over. To come and speak in the frank manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had done was simply an insult to the House after the answers he had given to Member's Questions a few days previously. With regard to the discussion in reference to the £100,000, both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister for Education had said the House had had an ample opportunity to discuss the regulations. His recollection was that they had repeatedly asked for the regulations, and that they were eventually produced a few hours before the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill, when it was quite impossible to see exactly what their bearing on the discussion might be, and the House were obliged to go back to the speech they had previously heard from the right hon. Gentleman to see what the spirit of these regulations was intended to be. The right hon. Gentleman's speech showed that the spirit of these regulations was to provide for the case where there was a single school area in which there were children who wished for religious teaching different from that provided by the school in that area. It seemed to him after consideration very doubtful whether the regulations were legal, because after the judgment of Mr. Justice Channell it was clear, and it was admitted in the Code, that the Board's decision was only to be final as to conditions not directly imposed by Act of Parliament. Under these regulations there were one or two conditions actually imposed by statute which the Board of Education proposed to over-rule if it wished to do so. But his complaint, if this information was correct, was that these regulations, whether legal or illegal, were not observed. He found that about £10,000 of the £100,000 was to be paid over to the school authorities of Denbighshire. That information was obtained from a leading lady on the education committee of Denbighshire who observed that Denbighshire was to get one-tenth 953 of the grant. He had no objection to a large portion of this grant going to Wales, but Denbighshire was not one-tenth of the whole of Wales, and he would like to have some information with regard to that. If it was the fact that one-tenth was going to Denbighshire he would like to know what the reason was. He was also informed that in the case of Denbighshire, although objections had been lodged in every case, no inquiries had been held and the objectors had not been heard. He had also been told that the plans for these schools had been actually approved by the Board of Education before any inquiries had been held in the district to which they referred. He had no wish to exaggerate the points, but he put these questions and would like them to be answered. He had further heard that in Flintshire a school had been promised in an area which was not a single school area, and that in Denbighshire a grant had been promised without any contribution at all. He was further informed that in one case this grant had been promised, contrary to the regulations, to a school where the accommodation was deficient, and which, according to regulations, had to be excluded. He had put some Questions down for to-morrow and he asked if the Secretary to the Board of Education was unable, in his reply, to answer the questions he had put to him to-night, the right hon. Gentleman would fulfill his promise by giving detailed answers to the Questions on the Paper to-morrow. This was a most important Amendment, and he hoped his noble friend would press it to a division, because although one naturally expected legislation to have some party bias, the country was entitled to be defended from party bias in administration. It seemed to him that the more unpopular the Government became in the constituencies the more they resorted to these secret methods, and the more the right hon. Gentleman seemed to carry out his policy by administration and prevent the House from discussing his actions. So long as the Government carried this animus not only into their legislation but into administration, so long would they become more and more unpopular.
§ MR. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
said he had noticed that the late Colonial Secretary had made public a suggestion by some of his ecclesiastical friends 954 that the training colleges—four-fifths of the cost of whose maintenance was provided by the State—should be allocated to different sects, and that the Nonconformists who found their way, into sectarian training colleges should be turned into a sort of educational isolated camp called a hostel, and penned up in it because they might find the atmosphere of a sectarian training college not agreeable to them, or because they might have some strange effect upon the morals or religious opinions of the members of the Church. This proposal was suggested as a sort of eirenicon in this educational controversy. All he would say was that it was so ludicrous, so opposed to Liberal opinion in the country, and so intolerant that it was only necessary to state it to find it at once rejected.
§ MR. BOWLES (Lambeth, Norwood)
said the President of the Board of Education had said in the course of his speech that he was prepared to answer any question as to the administration of his office that they in their criticism of that administration might think proper to put to him. He would like to put to him one question with regard to a matter with which he had not dealt in his speech, so far as he heard, and which seemed to him a matter of the greatest significance. He referred to the dealings of him and his office with the local education authority in Swansea, in reference to the differentiation made by that authority between the salaries paid to teachers of council schools and those paid to the teachers of voluntary schools.
§ MR. McKENNA
I said that I followed the same practice as was followed by the hon. Baronet opposite, and by my predecessor.
§ MR. BOWLES
said at any rate he had gathered that the right hon. Gentleman had suggested that he had no power to bring pressure to bear upon the local authority in order to influence them to deal fairly in this respect with the teachers of voluntary schools. When the right hon. Gentleman said he had no power he must have forgotten that it was provided by Section 7 of the Act of 1902 that all matters of dispute between the local education authorities and the managers were matters for him and him 955 alone. He had power to decide, and, this specific dispute having arisen and been specially referred by the managers to the right hon. Gentleman more than twelve months ago, it was his duty to decide it. But, though repeatedly urged to do so, he had refused, or at any rate neglected to decide it, although both the power and the duty to do so were clearly laid upon him by statute.
§ MR. McKENNA
The decision was taken by the hon. Baronet opposite, and I have followed that decision. The principle on which I have gone is the same principle.
§ MR. BOWLES
said he had a letter written upon this very point by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was also following the policy of his predecessor. This was the letter of the right hon. Gentleman who was now Chief Secretary for Ireland—The Board of Education are not aware of any circumstances which would justify a differentiation in the salaries paid to teachers in voluntary and council schools. They feel that the present uncertainty is unjust to the teachers, and is gravely imperilling the efficiency of the schools. They trust therefore, to learn at an early date, that the authority will give their consent to the agreements prepared. In view of the provisions of Article 15 of the Code, the Board do not feel able to sanction payment of the grants for the National and York Place Schools, and they are assured that this matter has been satisfactorily arranged.
§ MR. McKENNA
My right hon. friend could do nothing after six months, and he had to follow, as I have had to follow, the decision of the hon. Baronet opposite.
§ MR. BOWLES
said that might or might not be so; he was given to understand that it was not so. His point was that the right hon. Gentleman had said that he had no power to deal with this matter, whereas as a mutter of fact he had ample power to settle the whole dispute at once not only under the Act of 1902, but also by saying plainly to the local authority, as his predecessor had said, that there was no ground for discrimination, and that if they did not behave fairly the Board would not feel able to pay the grant. The action of the Government in 956 regard to the £100,000 which had been taken had been referred to. Everybody knew what had happened. By Section 96 of the Act of 1870 it was provided in plain terms that no Parliamentary grant should be made in aid of building, enlarging or improving, or fitting up, any public elementary school. That plain, clear, statutory prohibition was in force last year and was still in force. Yet in spite of the prohibition the Government had decided, rightly or wrongly, he dared say rightly—he was not concerned about that—to spend a sum of £100,000 on this very purpose of building new public elementary schools. Now it was quite clear that, whether right or wrong, this was a very great and fundamental change of policy. It was impossible, consistently with any real Parliamentary control either of finance or of administration, to carry out great inherent changes of administration otherwise than by Bills and legislation. Why? He put it simply on the ground of the privileges of the House. Unless changes of administration were embodied in a Bill, the power of the House to discuss the change and to deal with it was really entirely given up and passed into the hands of the Department. What had happened here? The Government for no reason which they had advanced had chosen deliberately to adopt a principle entirely novel and to make, not by any Bill but simply by a new line in the Estimates of the year, considerable changes in administration, refraining from giving any details whatever which would enable anyone to know what the real meaning of the new grant was, how it was to be administered, and upon what principle it was to be allocated, merely saying in a short debate that they proposed to build new schools in the discretion of the right hon. Gentleman, and upon principles which, after he had got the money, he might tell them, but not before. If was not too much to say that not more than an hour and a half or two hours was devoted in the House even to the general point of policy; and all details which alone could make the policy intelligible were rigidly witheld. He wished to know the object of the Government in adopting this extraordinary course. Somebody, he believed below the Gangway, suggested that they were 957 afraid of the House of Lords, that they were afraid if they had brought in a Bill in the ordinary way the House of Lords might have altered it in such a way as to make it unacceptable. It was very doubtful, the Bill being essentially of a financial character, whether the House of Lords would have dealt with it in the way the Government feared. But suppose it were so. Did the mere fact that the Government feared that the House of Lords would disagree with them on a certain policy to justify them in setting aside the Constitution, in abrogating all the constitutional safeguards which ordinarily attach to changes of policy, and in reducing the functions of the House from real debate on the several stages of a Bill to a mere scratch conversation of a few hours on the Estimates? He submitted that it did not in any way. And if they were to understand that it was competent for the Government to make great administrative changes behind the back of, and without the consent of the House of Lords, what was the meaning of all the campaign and talk about the impossibility of doing anything in view of the existence of the House of Lords? The right hon. Gentleman really could not have it both ways. If they relied upon this new invention to carry out great changes without the House of Lords, well and good. He thought it was mischievous, and he did not think they could rely upon it; but if they did, they could not at the same time complain of the existence of the House of Lords making it impossible for them to carry out great administrative changes. But he did not believe that, in this matter, the Government was afraid of the House of Lords; he believed the Government was afraid of full and free discussion in the House of Commons, and he was not alone in that opinion. He wondered whether the right hon. Gentleman had noticed a very remarkable statement upon this very point by a noble Lord in another place, speaking as an old Parliamentarian, not without experience—a noble Lord who agreed 958 with them on most matters, and who would not certainly be regarded as a particular friend of the voluntary school system—he meant Lord Stanley of Alderley. He said—I associate myself with the criticisms of those who do not like this method of amending an Act of Parliament by means of the Appropriation Bill. I put it on the ground of Parliamentary practice. I feel that if we are to amend a clause in a general Act that has gone through Parliament with full discussion, it is only fair that the other House—it does not affect your Lordships' House, which is not concerned with money matters—should have the same full control by the power of debate at all stages. Therefore I, personally, regret the introduction of a practice which may constitute a very evil precedent in future years. In my opinion the course adopted is injurious to the efficiency of Parliamentary debate.And what of the Government's own Law Officers? The late lamented and respected Attorney-General had used language of a very doubtful and hesitating character on this very point; and even the Lord Chancellor, though holding that this practice was not unconstitutional, yet said that he spoke on the subject with some misgiving, and relied, so far as precedent was concerned on the case of the resident magistrates. But that case, so far from confirming the Lord Chancellor's view, was, if words had any meaning, perfectly conclusive against it. Extracts had been read from Treasury Minutes, and from Reports of Public Accounts Committees over a series of years dealing with that case. The President of the Board of Education had suggested that what happened was that the Public Accounts Committee had reported against this practice of assuming to over-ride an Act of Parliament by a mere Vote in Supply and the Appropriation Act on the ground that the House of Commons might be taken by surprise. That was suggested on the first occasion, and very just it was, and if it applied then, it applied with especial force to the action of the Government of which they were now complaining. But after that first year there neither was nor could be any suggestion of objection to this practice on the mere ground of surprise. It was 959 objected to throughout on the ground that it involved great constitutional and financial danger. This was a long story of the resident magistrates. It began in 1883. The Public Accounts Committee reported in that year, and there it was that they mentioned the danger of surprising the House of Commons. But the practice continued, and the Committee went on reporting. In 1885 they said—Your Committee cannot accept the view in a legal, still less in financial, sense that the distinct terms of an Act of Parliament may be properly overridden by a Supplementary Estimate supported by the Appropriation Act. Your Committee trust that this matter, which is one of great importance from a constitutional point of view, will in the next Parliament be carefully examined.Here was a Treasury Minute of 3rd November, 1885—My Lords concur in the opinion of the Committee as to the danger both on financial and constitutional grounds of any general adoption of the view that the distinct terms of an Act of Parliament may be overridden by a subsequent Vote supported by the Appropriation Act.There was nothing about surprise there. That was a solemn statement of the Treasury as to the financial danger and impropriety of this very practice.
§ MR. BOWLES
said that of course anything could be done. He was only questioning whether it could properly be done.
§ MR. BOWLES
begged the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. It was really impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to contend that in 1885, and right down to 1888, complaint of a practice begun in 1882 could be put upon the ground of surprise. There was no suggestion of surprise after the first Report in 1883. The right hon. Gentleman could not point to a single phrase in any one of these Reports or Minutes which would bear out his view. The thing was objected 960 to throughout because it was unconstitutional and improper financially Might he read one sentence from a letter which was addressed by the Treasury on this very point to every accounting officer in the service, in November, 1885?I am desired by the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to acquaint you that the Public Accounts Committees of the past and preceding sessions have upon more than one occasion noticed with disapproval cases where sums in excess of limits imposed by Acts of Parliament have been inserted in the Estimates and have subsequently been voted by Parliament and confirmed by the Appropriation Act. The Report of the Committee expresses disapproval of such a proceeding in distinct terms and recommends the matter to the consideration of the Public Accounts Committee in the next Parliament as one of great importance from a constitutional point of view. My Lords fully share in these views.And, finally, in a letter to the Irish Chief Secretary dated 23rd January 1888, the Treasury declare that—they can no longer defend the recurrence of the irregular charges before the Committee of Public Accounts, unless the requisite statutory authority is in course of being obtained during the coming session.There was no question of surprise-about that. They had it in black and white that in the view of the Public Accounts Committee and the Treasury of that day it was irregular and improper and had to be stopped as a practice to make payments in excess of the limits imposed by an Act of Parliament, even though that excess had been sanctioned by a Vote in Supply supported by the Appropriation Act of the year. He wanted to know whether the view of the Treasury upon that matter had altered. Were they to understand that it was the view of the Treasury now that the distinct terms of an Act of Parliament might properly be overridden by a Vote in Supply supported by the Appropriation Act of the year?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fife, E.
Certainly. There is nothing unconstitutional in that—absolutely nothing. The propriety of it in any case must depend on the circumstances of the case.
§ MR. BOWLES
said the truth was as the Treasury had stated, that it was irregular and open to great financial and constitutional danger upon every ground. 961 The Treasury now did not care. The right hon. Gentleman did not. That, shortly, was what he wished thoroughly to understand. He understood that in the view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this practice of spending money in defiance of the express provisions of existing Acts of Parliament, which were not to be repealed simply by passing a Vote ill Supply and by supporting that Vote in the Appropriation Bill, was not only unconstitutional but he saw really no harm in it. He was prepared to defend it.
§ MR. BOWLES
had no doubt in other cases too—in any case. If they were to understand that it was only in this case he should be glad to have an assurance.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I think I have made my meaning clear. It is not unconstitutional. The word "unconstitutional" does not apply to the situation. It is sanctioned by Act of Parliament, and whether it is politic or expedient is a totally different matter and must depend on the circumstances of the particular case.
§ MR. BOWLES
said it came to this, then: When it was politic or expedient in the view of the Government of the day this course might be adopted.
§ MR. BOWLES
Yes, in spite of what the Treasury said upon the exact point some years ago. He only wished to make that clear. He thought it was a matter of great importance to the House and the country; because if it was once admitted for a moment that the Government of the day could effect in this way great administrative changes prohibited by existing legislation, in nine cases out of ten there was no need in any matter for any legislation at all. Certainly there was no need for a new Education Act. He had looked through the Education Bill brought in by this Government in 1906 with some care, and he believed he was right in saying that every one of the changes in policy—and 962 they were great—which that Bill sought to introduce, could be perfectly well effected under the dictum of the right hon. Gentleman representing the Treasury without any legislation and merely by altering the character of the Votes on the Estimates for the year, and supporting them by an Appropriation Bill. It was a tremendous change and for his part, being convinced that it was altogether a mischievous change, he wished to say no more than that he was obliged to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for having made his view on the matter clear, and that he would be very much surprised if any real or reasoned defence of this new principle of finance would be made in either House by any competent financial authority.
§ LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)
I am rather surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have given us so little information in regard to the expenditure of this money. I think my hon. friend the Member for Norwood has shown conclusively that this expenditure has been in defiance of the rules laid down by the Public Accounts Committee. The voting of this £100,000 may be perfectly constitutional, but it has been voted in the teeth of an Act of Parliament. There are two Acts affecting this queston, one which says by reason of this money being voted it may be spent, and the other says it cannot be voted or cannot be spent. I want to know what is being done at the present moment. The Act of 1870 which permits the expenditure of money on school buildings is disregarded. In the regulations the Act of 1902 is specifically mentioned. The three governing conditions are: (1) That there should be public notice of the intention to erect these schools; (2) that the local managers may appeal; and (3) that a certain number of ratepayers are entitled to submit their views to the Board. Are those conditions being fulfilled now?
§ LORD BALCARRES
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us in how many cases notice has been given? Will he tell us in what form the local managers are entitled to lay their views before 963 the Board of Education? The regulations, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, are to all intents and purposes simply the centralising of all power to deal with these questions, and they say that there must be adequate provision. They declare that the building must be distinct and so on, but they do not lay down any system or method upon which the Board is to act. But Clause 9 of the Act of 1902 does so. It says that in settling these cases the Board has to decide, taking into account the economy of the rates and also the interests of secular instruction and the wishes of the parents. I do not see how the economy of the rates is to apply, because we understand that these schools are going to be erected partly from the rates and partly from the grants, and in some cases entirely from the grants. Consequently there is a certain amount of ambiguity as to the actual effect upon the rates. How is the right hon. Gentleman going to decide these questions taking into account the interests of secular instruction? Section 9 says that the Board of Education has to have regard to the interests of secular instruction, but this money is not granted upon any question arising from secular instruction. These are single school areas, and nobody objects to them on secular grounds, because some of the single school areas are most excellent. The objection in this case is that they are single school areas from a religious point of view. I want to know how he is going to determine this question in the interests of secular instruction, in view of the fact that the interests of secular instruction do not arise. And lastly, how is the third consideration to be arrived at, viz., the wishes of the parents? What is being done by the Board in this respect, because these bald regulations carry one no distance at all. The right hon. Gentleman has been asked this session six or eight Questions on the subject, and he has refused to answer them all with one exception. I am not quite clear what he said in reply to that Question, but I think his statement was that there would be no inquiry.
§ MR. McKENNA
I said there would be no inquiry by the Local Government 964 Board unless a loan was sought to be raised by the local authority.
§ LORD BALCARRES
I understood the reply was that there would be no inquiry by the Board of Education. I want to know if the Board of Education will hold an inquiry before the building of these schools.
§ LORD BALCARRES
How will you ascertain where it is necessary to build schools without a public inquiry? Where questions of this kind are so simple and direct it would be a great convenience if the right hon. Gentleman would in future answer them across the floor of the House.
§ LORD BALCARRES
Then I understand there is to be no inquiry by the Local Government Board, unless some question of loan arises. The holding of a public inquiry with regard to ascertaining the wishes of the parents and the interests of secular education will not be held, unless the Board of Education consider it needful, and that will depend upon the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers. I think such an inquiry is necessary, for I do not think you ought to trust canvassers to give an accurate statement as to the wishes of the parents. The right hon. Gentleman may think that that is an adequate form of making an inquiry, but I think it is much better to be open and above board and have a public inquiry frankly. The local authorities have already received very largely signed memorials from persons who are opposed to these schools, and without a public inquiry they cannot hope their case will receive proper consideration. Unless such an inquiry is held the right hon. Gentleman will be contravening the Statute of 1902. The Chancellor of the Exchequer very boldly stated that no Court could question this. A few months ago the Minister for Education told us he had complete assurance that as far as he 965 knew this Garforth case the local authority had acted correctly, but Mr. Justice Channell's judgment has destroyed that view. The real thing we want to know is what is actually being done now. We are told that land is actually being purchased on the strength of some grant which is being guaranteed from the £100,000 before the requisite three months' notice has been allowed to elapse. It has been said that larger schools are being planned than is necessary. That again seems to me, if true, to be inconsistent with the regulations of the right hon. Gentleman. Regulation No. 9 says that new schools cannot be erected in order to make places where the provision of places would become incumbent upon the local education authority. You cannot have a building grant under this £100,000 to supply places which in the ordinary course of educational development will become necessary. That seems all right, but it is inconsistent with the Act of 1902, which the right hon. Gentleman admits is binding. There again you come back to this conclusion, that the erection of a council school does not justify the removal of children from a neighbouring council school. The right hon. Gentleman is very confident about this scheme, but I think he ought to tell us what is being done. The reply he has given is that he will tell us at the end of the financial year. I would remind him that department after department give information of matters up to date. I know there are dozens of cases where the right hon. Gentleman has given an undertaking that a certain sum of money shall be expended in a particular parish, and why is the House of Commons refused information in regard to those parishes? Several of my hon. friends have put; questions to the Secretary of State for War as to how the numbers in the Army compare with a couple of years ago, and the right hon. Gentleman has given an answer up to date. The right hon. Gentleman could very well give us the figures up to date, but he says he cannot tell us anything think there is no reason for declining the information, but of course we shall have to bow to his answer. He declines to give it for two months after it is required. The right hon. Gentleman has 966 spoken of the legality of his proceedings, but I am bound to say that this system of erecting schools out of money granted by this House is not going to last. It was condemned by all educationists thirty years ago when the great Education Act was passed. I believe it was the unanimous verdict of the House then that the system should cease. Of course, this £100,000 represents but a small fraction of the money the Treasury has to find in this matter. I am perfectly certain that the system cannot last, because it is unjust towards many of the localities themselves. The system is bound to create friction between one parish and another. It is bound to cause jealousy, charges of favouritism, and so on. Apart from these considerations there is the fact that if this system is sincerely, logically, and impartially carried out it will cost the country millions of money. The principle of the Act of 1871 is that which should be followed. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be persuaded, at any rate, to take the public into his confidence so far as to tell us what has been done. He could give such information at Question-time as will guide the public outside as to his intentions with regard to the regulations of the Board of Education.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said there were many points on which he differed from the President of the Board of Education, but he did not think that the speeches delivered by the proposer and the supporters of the Amendment were at all calculated to serve the cause which the hon. Members had at heart. The noble Lord dropped a regretful tear over the administration of the late President of the Board of Education. It was only now that they had discovered that he was disposed to be good to the voluntary schools of England. But when he was in office how were his intentions met? It was true now that Birrellism and Birrelligion had been routed, but he did not know that they were altogether pleased. He could not help thinking that this must have been a pleasant evening for the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The great ambition then of the champions of the voluntary schools of England was to get rid of him. Well, they succeeded in that ambition, and now 967 they found themselves in a worse position. Bitter complaints were made against the present President of the Board of Education. It was declared over and over again that since he came into office a new spirit had been displayed in the administration of the Board of Education. The noble Lord complained bitterly that he sought to achieve his objects by administration and not by legislation. That was made a great grievance of. But why was he seeking to achieve his objects by administration? Did not the Liberal Government attempt legislation in this matter, and was it to be wondered at that when the confederates of the noble Lord in another place defeated the wish of the people as represented in this House, the Minister should seek to achieve his objects by means of administration? He thought it was a naїve accusation on the part of the noble Lord. Would not his Party have made the same attempt, or more, if they had had, like the Party now in power, in the first year of their Parliament a fresh mandate from the people upon this particular subject? And let it be remembered that in their attempt to carry out that mandate they offered concessions and compromises which he only hoped and prayed they might get another opportunity of accepting. He held that for political purposes and not in the interests of the voluntary schools that offer of compromise was rejected. The best hope now, he thought, for these schools was that they might get another similar chance. The House of Lords killed the Bill of 1906, and that was the reason why the present Ministry were endeavouring to achieve their object by administration. If the noble Lord and his friends and allies in another place thought when they succeeded in defeating the will of this House that that defeat would be taken lying down by hon. Members opposite, all he could say was that they made, as they were now finding out, a very great mistake. He thought public opinion would hold that he was a far better friend of the voluntary schools than the noble Lord and his friends. As he said already, they were done with Birrellism and Birrelligion, but now they were in a worse position than ever, and he felt the best service that he could render to the cause of these schools was in a few sentences to 968 I recall the attention of hon. Members to the history of the subject. He had noticed this remarkable fact, that the chief burthen of the speeches of hon. Gentlemen above the gangway to-night was an attack upon the local education authorities. That was their chief complaint. No doubt it was an attack upon the Board of Education for non-coercing them and overruling them but in most of the cases brought forward the grievance was against the local education authority. Who created the local education authorities? The Act of 1902. He as a friend of the voluntary schools took occasion during those debates to warn the Government of the day that in handing over the voluntary schools to the local authorities, as created by that Bill, they were entering upon a very dangerous experiment. The old school boards were denounced by members of the Tory Party in very violent terms. He was doubtful then, and he was still more doubtful now, whether the Catholic schools were not better off under the old school board system, but when he warned the Government then in power of the danger of these new local authorities, what was the answer he received? He was told that was all futile and absurd. The Board of Education, it was said, would overrule the local authorities if they oppresesd the voluntary schools. He then took leave to say that the time might arrive when the Radical Party would get into power, and he was called a Jeremiah, told that he was a prophet of evil, and that that terrible time would never arise. It had arisen, to the great dismay of the Tory Party, and now there was a Government in sympathy with the local authorities. Then these gentlemen appeared to be amazed that the Government were slow to overrule the local authorities. That was exactly what he foresaw, and that was what had happened. They created the local authorities, and they relied on the Board of Education to overrule them. There were many local authorities in the West Riding of Yorkshire and other parts of the country which had as he thought, oppressed the voluntary schools. Now by a turn of fortune's wheel the Tory Party were in a hopeless minority and the Radical Party in a majority, and they thought they were going to remedy 969 this state of things by speeches such as they had listened to to-night. He did not think they were going to remedy it; he thought they were going to make it a great deal worse. Did hon. Members recall to mind, when making these violent attacks upon the present Liberal Party, which he was bound to say had a much larger majority at their back than the Tory Party had in 1902—did they remember the appeals made from these benches for concessions and compromise and how they were met? He remembered in the face of storms of obliquy from those benches, and from the organs in the Press of his own Church, and of denunciation by his own bishops, that he made an appeal that some modest concessions should be made to the Nonconformists of this country? The Leader of the Tory Party denounced him as betraying the interests of the voluntary schools. How wise the champions of those schools would have been to remember when they were in power that a day might come when the other Party would be in power! [OPPOSITION cries of "No."] Yes; did they think of justice when they were in power, and when appeals were made to them by the right hon. Gentleman, now President of the Board of Trade, for some concessions to the Nonconformists of the country? That right hon. Gentleman and his friends were trampled upon and insulted, and told that they would not be listened to. The Tory Party had found out their mistake since. What was the appeal which he had himself made and for which he was denounced, not only by the Tory Party, but by all the authorities of his own Church? That appeal was to the right of the parent, and he was sneered and laughed at. What cared they for the right of the parent compared with the right of the trustees? Now the leaders of the Church of England were grounding their whole case on the right of the parent. Why did they not think of the right of the parent five years ago when they were in power? They could then have made a compromise regarding the voluntary schools which would have lasted for the next thirty years. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury was now enthusiastic for the right of the parent, but when he advocated it, he and the Catholic 970 bishops and the Tablet newspaper in an article four columns long denounced him, although they would now be very glad if the proposal he then made and the terms he suggested could be obtained. Was there no lesson to be learned from that? If there was to be perpetual war and no compromise, did anyone in the House doubt where it would all end? He appealed to those who wished to preserve any form of teaching the Christian religion in schools. He knew that there were many religious men, with as deep religious convictions as his own, who believed that the best thing would be that there should be no religion taught in schools at all. He asked the Liberal Party who now say in power if no lesson was to be learned from the history of the Tory Party, who, having power in their hands in 1902, grossly misused it, and were now suffering the consequences, and were appealing to their opponents for mercy and justice. If this question was to be fought out on lines of mutual recrimination and irreconcilable war, how could it end? It could only end one way, in the elimination of religion from the schools altogether. There was no other issue possible. He wished to say a word of warning to the Liberal Government and the Liberal Party. If now that they were in power they put oppression on the consciences of English Churchmen and Catholics by an Education Bill, or by administrative acts, they might get a temporary triumph but no settlement. On this question of conscience there was no settlement possible, except along the lines of general toleration. They might win now, but the Tory Party would come into power again, and would undo the Liberal settlement; and unless there was some agreement the cause of Liberalism and progress would be wounded and hurt, and in the end there would be no other termination than that religion would be driven from the schools, and they would not get even simple Bible teaching. He had read every line that had been written and spoken on this question and would say that of all the hopeless tasks ever entered upon, or hopeless idea ever aimed at by a political party, the most hopeless was that the schools of the country should 971 be supported by public money, and that only that form of religious teaching approved by the majority of the people should be given, although objected to by those in the minority. They must have a general concordat and agreement to meet the religious feeling and consciences of the minority. Returning to the course of the debate, he did not see that the speeches delivered from the Opposition benches were calculated to forward the cause of any settlement of this great question. They were calculated rather to rouse passions, to irritate feelings, and to promote discord. The noble Lord the Member for Marylebone had a very meek and light way of making charges. His Lordship said that he would make no charges, and then he proceeded to say that the President of the Board of Education was cursed in Wales—a statement of a most disgraceful character. The President of the Board of Education was there to defend himself, but the noble Lord had made a charge against an official of corruption of the grossest character. That official was not present, and such a charge ought not to have been made He did not see that any particular advantage was to be gained by making charges in that way. He would follow the example of the noble Lord. He made no charge, but it was commonly said that the noble Lord and many of his colleagues were playing with this question and were animated by a desire not to protect and save the denominational schools of the country, but to use them as a pawn in the Tory game.
§ LORD EDMUND TALBOT (Sussex, Chichester)
I do not find myself in agreement with some parts of the speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo, but I do most heartily concur in the appeal he made to hon. Gentlemen opposite to treat the question of education in a more conciliatory spirit than they have done recently. [AN HON. MEMBER on the MINISTERIAL BENCHES: "The appeal was made to you, and to your friends."] I rise only to call attention to the regulations with reference to secondary education, and the grants which were given for that purpose. These grants are voted by this House, but the House has very little voice as to 972 how they have to be allocated. The President of the Board of Education takes to himself the power as to how these grants should go. It is true that in a sense he consults the local authority, but by doing so it appears to me that he puts the local authority in a very unpleasant position. First of all, the money is not theirs. It is not rate money, and they have nothing whatever to do with it; but the burden is placed upon them of having to come to a decision as to what school should, in their opinion, be eligible for the higher grant. The right hon. Gentleman reserves to himself the right to refuse to carry out the wishes of the local authority. I speak with some feeling on this point and for the same reason as was advanced by the hon. Member for South Kerry in the case of the Southampton school. Catholic schools have suffered by the decision of the right hon. Gentleman. Another case is that of Bury, in Lancashire, which, however, is not so strong as that of Southampton. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Catholics in this country feel this treatment very seriously and bitterly, and resent it very much. If the burden of passing a Resolution is imposed on the local education authorities it is very hard treatment that that Resolution should be vetoed at the fancy and will of the President of the Board of Education. I wish not to say anything with regard to the training colleges except this. I wish to remind the right hon. Gentleman and the Government of what they know already, because they have been sufficiently informed of it, that if circumstances should occur by which these new regulations should come into collision with the principles on which our Catholic training colleges are conducted, we cannot in conscience accept them.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Surrey, Wimbledon)
I think I owe an apology to the House for intruding for a moment in the debate on a question with which I frankly own I am less familiar than some others. But in the early part of his speech, I heard the President of the Board of Education, while he complained of vague charges being made against him, say he was always glad to give his careful attention 973 and consideration to individual cases, where hardship and suffering had been caused. It is to one of those cases of hardships that I propose to call his attention to-night, and it may afford an illustration of the methods which have been complained of on the part of the Board of Education in the course of this debate. It is the case of the Ursuline Convent School, which is situated in the constituency which I now represent. In the case of that school there was an application so long ago as April, 1906, for recognition under the existing regulations as a secondary school. In response to that application, the Board of Education sent down an inspector during the same month, and that inspector suggested to the authorities of the school, that they should make a formal application to be recognised as a secondary school eligible for a grant, and, meanwhile, I suppose with a view of giving them greater hopes of succeeding in getting that grant, that they should make certain strucutral alterations in their building. They accepted his advice and they applied. In due course a form of application was sent to them, which was filled up and duly returned. No answer of any sort or kind was returned to these people until at least thirteen months afterwards. That is the first cause of their complaint. In the meantime, getting no answer whatever and having waited for a reply until the following Christmas—foolishly perhaps, but not unnaturally, in view of the advice, or suggestion rather, that had been made to them by the inspector, they proceeded to carry out and effect the improvements which had been suggested to them, assuming, I suppose, that in this case silence gave consent. Having done that, they heard nothing further whatever from the Board of Education until 25th April, 1907, more than a year after they had made their application. At that time they received a letter from the Board of Education to this effect: that a definite answer to their application for recognition could not be given until certain matters of principle had been decided, those principles being laid down under Section 1 of the prefatory memorandum of the regulations for secondary schools 974 in the year 1906. No definite answer to their application was received by the 31st July, 1907, that being the date, and this is rather important, at which the existing regulations expired. On 6th August, they were informed that they could not be recognised until they had complied with the new regulations for 1907–8. Further correspondence took place between the Board of Education and the authorities of the school as to the expense to which the latter had been put. The general result of all this correspondence was this: The expense, which they expected to recover by the grant, which they had, more or less, been led to hope they might obtain was objected to, but in spite of all that had passed they were definitely refused recognition. Their complaint is, and I am bound to say there is a great deal of justice and a great deal of hardship connected with it, that their first application in 1906 was held over for no less than thirteen months, until it was no longer of any valid force whatever and until the new regulations had been published, laying down obligations with which it was impossible for any denominational school to agree to, and when, under the suggestion of the Board's own inspector, they had incurred expense in the full belief that they would be recouped by the grant. That is a case which I have felt myself justified in presenting to this House and to the President of the Board of Education for his attentive and careful consideration. I am sorry that the President is absent, but he is admirably represented, and I hope I may have some reply to the complaint which I have made.
§ MR. EVELYN CECIL (Aston Manor)
did not think that the speech which they had heard from the hon. Member for East Mayo ought to go entirely unanswered from those Benches. It was a characteristic speech, imaginative, cynical, sneering, recriminative, and lecturing [An HON. MEMBER: "It was true "] and at any rate there was one hon. Member who was prepared to take it as true. It was quite true that all these epithets applied to it, but beyond that he was not prepared to go. That speech charged them deliberately—he took the words down— 975 with having for their motive in all these educational debates, that they were merely a pawn in the Tory game.
§ MR. DILLON
stated that in what he had said he had followed the words of the noble Lord when he stated that he made no charge but that it was commonly said.
§ MR. EVELYN CECIL
said he was glad to hear that remark and that the hon. Gentleman did not make that formidable indictment, because otherwise he should be tempted to retort that the speech of the hon. Member might have been commonly said to be a pawn in the Home Rule game. To come more directly to the question they were discussing, he did not think the President of the Board of Education was reasoning correctly when he took shelter behind the Appropriation Act of last year, to save himself from the charge that the regulations which had been issued were matters for legislation and not administration. The right hon. Gentleman said in reply that he was whitewashed because the sums to which reference had been made were passed in the Appropriation Act. He submitted however, that the regulations were subjects which were altogether outside the direct control of Parliament, because these regulations could be put into force by the Board of Education whether there was an Appropriation Act or not. Supposing the Board of Education thought fit to issue these or any other regulations or let them say one discharging every official under them who did not happen to be a Nonconformist, that could be done without the authority of Parliament and without any Appropriation Act at all. He contended that the regulations they were now discussing were exactly in the same position. Therefore it was not accurate for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Appropriation Act whitewashed him in regard to his action. Going a stage further the grants of the Board of Education had always been given on the ground of educational efficiency, and the Board had confined itself entirely to the administration of Statute Law. But what was happening now? If the right hon. Gentleman looked at Section 4 of the Act of 1902 he would see that the whole intention of 976 the Act and of that section in particular, was that there should be no special religious requirements by the local education authorities as regarded higher education. It was perfectly plain that the intention of the Act was that the local education authority should not impose religious restrictions. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the local education authority ought to act in the spirit of the regulations of the Board of Education. He ventured to think that the right hon. Gentleman himself ought equally to act in the spirit of the law of the land, and, when it was plain that the law he was administering did not contemplate that any religious restrictions should be imposed, it was not right that those regulations should have been introduced and put into force in the way they had been by the right hon. Gentleman. It was altogether a perversion of his office. He was not there to make fresh laws in his administrative capacity. He was put there to administer the law, and that was what they said he had not done in a proper spirit.
§ MR. EVELYN CECIL
Because the right hon. Gentleman has put these restrictions into force which are not in the spirit of the law of the land he is administering.
§ MR. McKENNA
Section 4 deals with the provision of rate aid to the school. My regulations have nothing whatever to do with rate aid. They deal with grants only.
§ MR. EVELYN CECIL
replied that the spirit was the same, and it was merely, he would not say a quibble, but a side issue to tell him that the Act happened to refer to rate-aid while the new regulations did not. So long as the law remained what it was, the right hon. Gentleman should not have done as he had done. The right hon. Gentleman did it in a somewhat unusual way, because although it was true that there was a debate on the 15th of May when his regulations were foreshadowed by him, it was also true to say that except for himself and his colleagues there was not a man in 977 the House who had then any idea of what the regulations did really foreshadow. It was not until the end of the session.
§ MR. McKENNA.
If the hon. Member will pardon me, the Estimates were discussed on the 11th of July, and the regulations were circulated before that day, that is to say, the regulations referring to the secondary schools and the training colleges.
§ MR. EVELYN CECIL
I of coarse accept the date from the right hon. Gentleman, but my impression certainly was that there had been no debate.
§ MR. EVELYN CECIL
said in that case he withdrew, although he had been under the impression that they were not discussed. He was, however, of opinion that owing to their highly controversial character it would have been right to have given fuller notice than by a short debate in the last few weeks of the session when the scope and far-reaching nature of the proposals had net been adequately garged. The right hon. Gentleman was quite aware that the two Farties were constantly changing sides and their position would not always be as it was now. Others would be called upon to administer these regulations and if highly controversial regulations were made in the way they had been made on this occasion he was quite certain that the next time the elections reversed the majority in this House these regulations would be reversed also. It was a bad precedent to adopt. They preferred from the non-party point 978 of view the continuation of policy. Hitherto, it had always been the desire of the Party in power to go on with the law their predecessors had passed, but from this time that would not be so, and it was on these grounds, quite as much as on the grounds upon which he felt so strongly opposed to the regulations themselves, that he rose to support the Amendment that so well expressed his views.
§ MR. RAWLINSON (Cambridge University)
said the charge against the Government for which the right hon. Gentleman spoke was that they had used the powers given to them for the purposes of administration, for exercising quasi- judicial functions for the purpose of introducing reforms which the political party they represented deemed to be desirable, and which this House might or might not deem desirable. The hon. Member for East Mayo, as the candid friend of the Government, explained that it was their object to achieve by the exercise of their administrative functions what they had failed to gain by legislation. Was that in accordance with the traditional principles of administration in his country? When a change was desired, a change which the Government had failed to carry out by means of legislation, were hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite justified in carrying it out by powers given to them for the purposes of administration and quasi-judicial functions? It must indeed be gratifying to the Government to receive the patronage the hon. Member for East Mayo had given them. It must be gratifying to the Chief Secretary for Ireland to receive the patronage he had received from such allies.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
said he did not think his noble friend's patronage of the two right hon. Gentlemen was so distinguished as that of the hon. Member for East Mayo. Such patronage must present some humour to, the onlooker because when they remembered the feelings that existed on the Benches blow the gangway last year, it said a great 979 deal for the patronage extended by the hon. Member for East Mayo this evening. There was also a certain amount of humour in the fact that the right hon. Gentleman, who had been representing the Nonconformists of Wales and the passive resisters of England, should have this benevolent patronage from the Roman Catholic faction in Ireland.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
thought the hon. Member should see at once that that was a slip. He meant, of course, the adherents of the Roman Catholic religion. The hon. Member had told them that he was an advocate of the parents' rights two years ago. Why had he not advocated them that night?
§ MR. RAWLINSON
said they had seen very little of it. He was grateful, at least, that the hon. Member had not accused them of using the question of these rights as a pawn in the political game. The reason he did not make that charge was because he knew that if he had done so it would have been untrue. He would now deal very briefly with the first case quoted against the right hon. Gentleman the point of which he appeared to have missed—the Garforth case. In Garforth there was an old established voluntary school, complete in all its departments. There was also a temporary school in the village for some time. Eventually the temporary school was superseded by a local education authority school. The right hon. Gentleman had told the House that that school was built specially for the elder children, though why, he (Mr. Rawlinson) could not conceive. The local education authority then brought forward a scheme which would not commend itself to this House, quite apart from any legal technicalities, providing that nobody should attend the church school after grades 1, 2 and 3, but that grades 4, 5 and 6 should go to the education authority school. The effect of that would be to turn the Church 980 school into an infant school. The managers would not consent: to this, and the matter came before the Board of Education. The right hon. Gentleman said quite rightly that all that could be done there was to take the best legal decision possible. That was done, and on 1st June a decision was given to the effect that in the absence of the consent of the managers the Board of Education could not and would not sanction that scheme of reorganisation. After an extra appeal had been made, the Board of Education wrote again, apparently, of course, after having taken the best legal advise, saving that they saw no reason to alter their decision, and that the scheme of reorganisation could not be carried out so long as the managers objected to it at all. The matter ended there so far as the managers were concerned, and on 3rd July, no communication having been made to the managers in the interval, a letter was sent down stating that the President of the Board of Education had come to the conclusion that an order should be made, and a reversal of the decision of 3rd June was made on 12th July. What was the reason which arose between those dates for the change which appeared to the permanent officials of the Board of Education on 3rd and. 20th June impossible and improper to be carried through? What happened to make the Board of Education come to a diametrically opposite conclusion and make an exceedingly unfair order, an order which closed the school as a complete school and left it a truncated and little better than an infant school? That was what needed explanation. What had occurred between those two letters? So far as the public knew, the only thing was some suggestion of a deputation from the local education authority. There was certainly nothing on the part of the managers. There was no communication either to or from the managers. That was the story of the Garforth School; and it was one which he submitted any impartial tribunal would scrutinise very carefully. When they bore in mind that it was the admitted duty of the Board of Education to maintain a school with proper conditions as they found it, whether they liked the religious teaching in it or not, and when 981 they found them passing an order contrary to the opinion of their own permanent officials, expressed twice, and contrary to the justice and the rights of the case and which ruined the school, he ventured to submit that every fair-minded man would say it called for more explanation than the right hon. Gentleman had given. So far as the training colleges were concerned, the right hon. Gentleman said—If you take public money you must take it upon public conditions.He was prepared to agree with that statement, but who were to enforce these conditions? The whole point of the Amendment and gravamen of the charge was that the conditions were to be enforced by Parliament and not merely by the head of an administrative Department. Having failed to get Part II. of the Education Bill of 1906, the Government had got something similar by the pen and judgment of the right hon. Gentleman. He had made the conditions. He (Mr. Rawlinson) would not stop to argue whether those conditions were in his opinion fair or good. What he protested against was that an administration of a public department should have that power and exercise it in the way it had been exercised. He had differed very much from what the hon. Member for East Mayo had said in various matters, but he agreed very strongly with him when he said they must look on the reverse side of these matters. Assuming that the present Government passed out of office and another Government came intopower, what he said would apply equally strongly. Somebody might succeed the right hon. Gentleman with extreme Church of England views. Would it be in accordance with the traditional principles of administration for him, whoever he was, to make conditions which he had failed to carry through the House of Parliament vastly in favour of Church of England schools and vastly detrimental to other schools? The proposition had only to be stated to show how absolutely unjust and unconstitutional such a procedure was. Yet it had been followed in this case. There was one other matter he had to deal with, and that was the question 982 of the grant of £100,000 for building new schools. It was absolutely wrong that any Minister should have in his power without any Parliamentary control at all, the administration of such a large sum of money. He might perfectly well administer it in his own constituency if he chose. The argument would be equally strong if the party to which he belonged were in power. It would be a most improper state of affairs. It had never been done before, and it was an objectionable innovation that the Minister of Education should have in his hands a large sum of money which he could dole out possibly to Church of England schools without reference to Parliament. It was upon this point that the Amendment was moved regretting that the action of the Board of Education recently had not been in accordance with the traditional principles of administration in this country. He would not detain the House with other matters he might wish to deal with. He agreed that certain matters of detail should be dealt with on the Estimates rather than on such an occasion as this. Speaking broadly, he asked the House to say that the Government were using their powers of administration in a quasi- judicial position for the purpose of introducing reforms which might be good or bad but which were not in accordance with the powers given to them, and to say that it did not approve of it.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (Mr. LOUGH,) Islington, W.
There was one remark made by the hon. Member who has just sat down with which I am sure everyone will agree, and that is that many of the details which have been raised to-night might be more appropriately dealt with in the Estimates. I want out of courtesy to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon to endeavour to give him an answer on the precise point he has raised. He is a sufficiently experienced Member of this House to know the difficulty we are in. He has not given us any notice that he would raise this precise point. It is a very detailed and difficult point to deal with, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman we have made a careful 983 note of what he has said about the matter, and at a very early time I will endeavour to satisfy him.
§ MR. LOUGH
I am quite sure the right hon. Gentleman will be satisfied with that. I might now humbly appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite to allow the House to come to a decision on the Motion. I cannot help, as I am on my feet, although I consider it a sin to prolong the debate, making one or two observations. I have been sitting here six hours, and we do not seem to have made much progress. I cannot help saying that I think my right hon. friend has been very unfairly dealt with. My right hon. friend was willing and anxious to answer every charge that might be brought against him. We have had a most languid debate. We have had very few points put, and, if I except the speech of the hon. Member the noble Lord for Marylebone, those points were not put with any particular clearness. Then my right hon. friend, after looking round to see if everybody had said everything they had to say, stood up and made a reply. That was about ten minutes past five. My right hon. friend answered in the most detailed and courteous manner every point raised, and I venture to say the answer he gave appealed to the sense of the majority of the House. Immediately he sat down every point of the most trivial character was mentioned again, and so the debate has dragged on. May I just take an illustration or two? There was the case of Swansea. There could not be a case in which, if my assurance will be accepted—and I give it in perfect good faith—my right hon. friend could have been more unjustly treated with regard to his handling of the matter. What are the facts which have come out? It is an old and troublesome affair.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
The matter was Only raised by the managers about eight months before I went out of office, and I left it in a condition for my successor to take immediate action.
§ MR. LOUGH
Very well. Eight months before the hon. Baronet went out of office. My right hon. friend has assured the House that he dealt with it in exactly the same spirit as the hon. Baronet opposite. My right hon. friend who is now Chief Secretary for Ireland did all he could to settle it. What is the one argument that has been used? My right hon. friend has been told that he coerced the local authorities, especially if they were Radical local authorities. Could anything be more foolish? It is always more difficult to satisfy the claims of your friends than it is to deal with your opponents. Let me put an end to the matter. The matter has been amicably settled some months ago. The managers are thoroughly satisfied, the local authority is satisfied, the onlookers, the public in Swansea, are satisfied, and yet that has been the subject of our debate in this House. The case of Merioneth, another troublesome case in the same troublesome country—I know these things, because I have had experience of them. The case was settled quite six or eight months ago. It was forgotten practically until it was raised again in this debate. I will not go into the third case mentioned, but it is of exactly the same character. What I plead with the House to consider is this. If there was any genuine charge to be made against my right hon. friend, would hon. Members opposite be driven to drag out these three wretched cases? If the whole spirit of the administration is so bad, and that is what the Amendment declares, would it not be possible to bring up other cases than these three which have been referred to ad nauseam? The hon. Member for Aston made quite a long speech on the point that the regulations were not delivered until a few days before Parliament separated. I have made inquiries, and I find that the regulations relating to secondary schools were delivered on 1st July, and the regulations relating to training colleges were delivered on 4th July, and all the matters connected with both were fully discussed in the last session of Parliament. I am forced to the conclusion that these little points which I have been mentioning were only a pretext, and that the real feeling in the minds of hon. 985 Gentlemen opposite, if they would only say it and make their case upon it, is about some other matter with regard to my right hon. friend. That has come out too, but we have had the greatest difficulty really in discovering what it was. What was the real charge? It was just this, that my right hon. friend broke away from the traditional administration of the Board of Education by passing regulations which were aimed at giving an efficient and effective conscience clause to training colleges. That is the whole case, nothing more. All these absurd attacks are based on that single point. Hon. Members opposite cannot forgive him for taking that single step. What has come out with regard to that? He has pursued the exact traditional policy in every step he has taken. The whole matter is confined to the one point. What did the hon. Baronet opposite do? He introduced a conscience clause for day pupils in all secondary schools. What is the offence of my right hon. friend? He applied the same conscience clause of the hon. Baronet opposite to boarders; Where is there any difference in principle between the two things? If it is good for day pupils, it is good for boarders also. It is an evidence of the fact that gentlemen opposite will not accept from my right hon. friend what they would have to put up with from their own leaders if they were in office. The conscience clause of 1903–4 differs in no material respect from that introduced by my right hon. friend. There is one other point in dealing with secondary schools which has come out, and I cannot help bringing a little incident to the notice of the House in connection with it. The second point in the treatment of the secondary schools by my right hon. friend is that he has insisted on a certain amount of local control. He has introduced the local authorities as one of the controlling powers in connection with the schools. This was done because there was a great increase in the amount of public money given. Will any Gentleman on this side of the House, or even Gentlemen opposite, in their cooler moments say that the large additional grants for secondary schools which my right hon. friend obtained from the Chancellor of the Exchequer could be 986 distributed in these days without allowing the local authorities some voice in the matter? That is the second ground of attack, and it is in connection with that that I want to recall to the House a little incident that happened about a week ago There has been another great authority in connection with education, one of the great opponents of my right hon. friend, augmenting certain institutions with increased grants lately. I mean the Archbishop of Canterbury. He has succeeded in giving certain increased grants to certain benefices scattered over England, and as he is so hard on my right hon. friend I looked to see what is the principle on which he was distributing his increased grants, and I find the first principle is that from 1st May all benefices in public patronage are to receive an increase of a certain amount of money, but the Archbishop insists on public control. He says that all benefices which would be entitled to the benefit of this augmentation but for the fact that they are in private patronage will be included if the patronage is made public. What do we see the Archbishop is doing? The good Archbishop who seems, if I may judge, to spend all his leisure in pummelling my right hon. friend—what does he do when he makes regulations? He gets all his ideas from these despised regulations. He insists on public control. This idea of public control is in the mind of the public now, and it would be impossible to make any larger grants of public money without recognising it. There is only one other matter. I have spoken only of the secondary schools. I must say one word about training colleges. For twenty years this threat of a conscience clause has been hanging over the heads of the training colleges. The hon. Member for Cambridge told us in one of the debates in 1906 that he would not object to the introduction of a conscience clause. In their calmer moments gentlemen opposite will not object to anything. All my right hon. friend has done is to introduce a conscience clause and make it effective. The hon. Gentleman says the colleges are destroyed. What harm has been done to them? The denominations have the colleges still. The teachers are there, the atmosphere is there, everything is there. These are the 987 points to which attention has been so strongly drawn. When that matter is considered carefully, too, it will be seen that my right hon. friend has not done the colleges any harm, but rather strengthened their position. The one principle which lies at the root of the thing is whether it is right that these things should be done by administration or not. There was never a grant made to the training colleges nor yet to the secondary schools except in the same way that my right hon. friend has made them. He is willing to admit, if you like, that there are different conditions now. He has stated that in one year there maybe different conditions for the payment of public money to these colleges from the conditions of forty or fifty years ago. Why were the conditions of forty years ago such as they were? Simply for one reason. The House of Commons of that day approved of them. The regulations
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Fletcher, J. S.||Nield, Herbert|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gardner, Ernest||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Percy, Earl|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Guinness, Walter Edward||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Haddock, George B.||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hamilton, Marquess of||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hardy, Laurence (Kent Ashford)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Heaton, John Henniker||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Cave, George||Hills, J. W.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W.||Houston, Robert Paterson||Smith, Abel H.(Hertford, East)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Keswick, William||Starkey, John R.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Worc||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff' sh.)|
|Clark, George Smith (Belfast, N.||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Long, Col. Charles W.(Evesham||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Doughty, Sir George||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Winterton, Earl|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Younger, George|
|Du Cros, Harvey||M' Arthur, Charles|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Magnus, Sir Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES,Viscount Valentia and Mr. Forster.|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Fell, Arthur||Morrison-Bell, Captain|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Bellairs, Carlyon|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Barker, John||Benn, W.(Tw'r Hamlets, S. Geo.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Bennett, E. N.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Berridge, T. H. D.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Barnard, E. B.||Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Barnes, G. N.||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Beauchamp, E.||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Black, Arthur W.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Beck, A. Cecil||Bowerman, C. W.|
§ were in accordance with the House of that day. What sanction have the new regulations got? I hope they will have this sanction to-night. They have had it already and they will have it again to-night. The same sanction that these old regulations of the forties and fifties had—the sanction of this House. If my right hon. friend had tried to continue to distribute money to these colleges and secondary schools in accordance with the old conditions the Hosue of Commons would not have tolerated it for a single moment. Now I may plead with Gentlemen opposite. They have fully discussed the matter. I think I may ask them to allow the House of Commons to decide upon it.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Aves, 79; Noes, 272. (Division list No.4)991
|Brace, William||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Napier, T. B.|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Harmsworth, R. L.(Caithn'ss-sh)||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)|
|Brigg, John||Hart-Davies, T.||Nicholls, George|
|Bright, J. A.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Nicholson, Charles N.(Donc'ter)|
|Brodie, H. C.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Nuttall, Harry|
|Brunner, Rt Hn Sir J. T. (Cheshire||Haworth, Arthur A.||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hedges, A. Paget||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Helme, Norval Watson||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Hemmerde, Edward George||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Perks, Robert William|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Henry, Charles S.||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Higham, John Sharp||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradf'd, E.)|
|Cameron, Robert||Hobart, Sir Robert||Radford, G. H.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hodge, John||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Holden, E. Hopkinson||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Holland, Sir William Henry||Rees, J. D.|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Holt, Richard Durning||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Richards, T. F.(Wolverh'mpt'n)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Horniman, Emslie John||Richardson, A.|
|Clough, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Rickett, Sir J. Compton|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Hudson, Walter||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hutton, Alfred Eddison||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J.(S. Pancras, W.||Idris, T. H. W.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Cooper, G. J.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Robinson, S.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Jackson, R. S.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Corbett, C H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Rose, Charles Day|
|Crombie, John William||Kearley, Hudson E.||Runciman, Walter|
|Crooks, William||Kekewich, Sir George||Russell, T. W.|
|Cross, Alexander||Kelley, George D.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Davies, Timothy (Furham)||Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Lamb, Edmund G.(Leominster)||Scott, A. H.(Ashton under Lyne)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Lambert, George||Sears, J. E.|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Lamont, Norman||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington||Seely, Colonel|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Lehmann, R. C.||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Duckworth, James||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall||Levy, Sir Maurice||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Lewis, John Herbert||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lough, Thomas||Snowden, P.|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lupton, Arnold||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Elibank, Master of||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Erskine, David C.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Essex, R. W.||Lynch, H. B.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Macdonald, J. M.(Falkirk B'ghs)||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||M'Callum, John M.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Findlay, Alexander||M'Crae, George||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Summerbell, T.|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||M'Micking, Major G.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Maddison, Frederick||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Gill, A. H.||Mallet, Charles E.||Thomas, Sir A.(Glamorgan, E.)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Thomasson, Franklin|
|Glen-Coats, Sir T. (Renfrew, W.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Marnham, F. J.||Thorne, William|
|Grant, Corrie||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Grayson, Albert Victor||Massie, J.||Toulmin, George|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Menzies, Walter||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Micklem, Nathaniel||Verney, F. W.|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Mond, A.||Vivian, Henry|
|Gulland, John W.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Wadsworth, J.|
|Gurdon, Rt Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Montagu, E. S.||Walsh, Stephen|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Hall, Frederick||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Walton, Joseph|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Morrell, Philip||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampt'n)|
|Waring, Walter||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Wiles, Thomas||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Wason, Rt. Hn. E.(Clackmannan||Wilkie, Alexander||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Willaims, J. (Glamorgan)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Waterlow, D. S.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarth'n||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Watt, Henry A.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Wedgwood, Josiah C.||Williamson, A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Whitbread, Howard||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|White, Luke (York, E. R.)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Whitehead, Rowland||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ SIR WILLIAM HOLLAND (Yorkshire, W.R., Rotherham) moved as an Amendment to add at the end of the Address the following: "But we humbly beg to represent to Your Majesty that in the interests of the trade and commerce of the United Kingdom it is highly important that the status of the Board of Trade should be raised, and that it should be placed on a par with the office of a Secretary of State." He said: We have been engaged now for a good many hours in the discussion of a question, which, unfortunately, may be decribed as a distinctly party question. Now the Amendment which I have the honour to move possesses nothing of a party character about it, and for the discussion of a non-party question, I humbly submit that there is no fairer tribunal than the British House of Commons. This question is by no means a new one, for it has occupied the attention of the Chambers of Commerce of the country for twenty-five years, and they have passed innumerable resolutions in favour of raising the status of the Board of Trade, and of the creation of a Ministry of Commerce. So strong was the feeling in regard to this matter that a departmental committee was appointed in 1904, which reported in favour of the abolition of what it called the "fictitious" Board of Trade, of the creation of a Minister of Commerce, and of raising the salary from £2,000 to £5,000 a year. The King's Speech of 1905 promised proposals for improving the status of the Local Government Board and the Board of Trade, and for establishing a Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and in July of that year the Prime Minister brought in a Bill to abolish the Board of Trade and the Local Government Board and to create 992 Secretaries of State in their place. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the subject in the Speech this year. Probably the Government are too modest to propose better pay for any of their colleagues, but I have no reason to suppose that they are hostile to the proposal. I think they will prefer to be guided by the feeling of the House of Commons before taking any action in regard to this matter. In other countries the Minister of Commerce takes rank with the other Ministers, and it is left to the United Kingdom, with the greatest commerce of the world, to relegate that Minister to an inferior position. That stigma happily in this country has long been removed so far as public opinion is concerned, and we want it also to be removed from the Ministerial rank of the officer who represents trade and commerce in the Cabinet. I am sure the House will agree with me that any board which includes at this time of day the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons as one of its members carries on the face of it evidence of considerable antiquity. That is what happens in connection with the Board of Trade, and that ought to make us heartily ashamed of it. Happily they are never by any chance called together for consultation. If they were, I am afraid that instead of helping matters forward we should get into a serious mess in regard to trade proposals. The Board of Trade controls a very large number of departments indeed. To give the House an idea of the scope of its operations I may mention that there are departments in connection with the Board of Trade for dealing with legislation as to railways, the mercantile marine, harbours, electric lighting, tramways, patents and designs, joint-stock companies, and bankruptcy. A mere enumeration of the departments will give the House some idea of the vast variety and great responsibility of the duties which they have to discharge, and 993 yet although the list is a long one, it is being constantly added to, while the responsibility of some of the old departments is constantly being enlarged. The Merchant Shipping Act of the year before last, and the Designs and Patents Act of last year, will entail very considerable duties being imposed upon the departments to which I have referred. This constant increase in the responsibilities of the Board makes it all the more urgent that the status of the President should be improved. The Board of Trade also is responsible for the great bulk of our trade and industrial statistics, and nowadays much more detail is demanded by our traders in regard to the preparation of statistics than was formerly the case, and unless these details are supplied traders find themselves at a great disadvantage as compared with their competitors, who trade where such information is forthcoming. The Board of Trade also is responsible for our standard weights and measures. I do not say that they are anything to be proud of, but such as they are, the Board of Trade is responsible for their maintenance. I think that on the ground of the growth of our commerce alone an irresistible case can be made out for the raising of the status of this office, but it is not on the ground of commerce alone that I would base this claim. It is also on the additional ground that the work of the Department is increasing out of all proportion to the increase of the volume of our commerce. The Labour Department created not long ago has added to the responsibilities of the Board of Trade, and it has proved itself to be highly useful. It is responsible for the publication of the Labour Gazette every month. The Conciliation Act of 1896 also has enlarged very considerably the sphere of work of the Board of Trade. The responsibility is now imposed on the Board of using its utmost endeavours to avoid or to settle industrial disputes. We all know with what brilliant success that function has been discharged by the Board of Trade in the last few months. I think it is a feather in the cap of the Board of Trade that, although it is far more active in its operations nowadays than it used to be, it meddles far less with the trade of the 994 country than it formerly did. In that way a good deal of the old irritation has been avoided. We frequently hear arguments urged in favour of a Ministry of Labour. I believe there is an Amendment down to give effect to that idea, and without expressing any opinion in regard to it I should like to say that for the purpose of industrial peace, a purpose so dear to everyone of us, a neutral Minister who is allied with neither capital on the one hand nor labour on the other is likely to be a far more efficient instrument for conciliation than if he should be a strong nominee, supported by either side. I think an illustration of that has been found during the last few months. There was added in 1900 what is called an Advisory Committee on Commercial Intelligence. It places at the disposal of the President of the Board of Trade at first hand information in regard to almost all our leading trades. In this way there is always available advice and support whenever the President of the Board of Trade may demand it. There has also been opened in connection with this commercial intelligence branch an office in the city, which is being largely utilised by traders in quest of special information which the Government can get very much more efficiently than any private individual. Commercial missions have been despatched during the past few years to Persia, Siberia, Australia, South Africa, and Canada, so that we now as the results of these visits know at first hand information which is being largely utilised by some traders in the country. The Board of Trade Journal, which is published every week, is one of the results of the activity of this branch. While we are anxious to make this department more useful and efficient, we are equally anxious that no efforts it may put forth shall diminish by one jot that enterprise and energy and self-reliance which have gone to build up the great trade of our country. But, speaking on behalf of the responsible commercial opinion of the country, I say that in no field is there quite so great a need for maintaining a sense of proportion as in the field of economy. The only safe test is to rely on efficiency. Efficiency 995 in this instance as in others is the highest economy; and a proof of this efficiency the country has received during the last few months from the President of the Board of Trade in the settlement of the railway dispute. Fancy if you can what was saved to the country by the success with which the President of the Board of Trade intervened on that occasion. Millions of money very likely on the one hand, but who shall measure the privation and hardship on the other which was avoided by that timely intervention? Questions of salary are trivial indeed in comparison with a saving of that enormous magnitude. As a proof of efficiency in the matter of legislation, I might mention the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906. A great many shipowners were inclined to look with more or less suspicion on the new President of the Board of Trade. They were doubtful as to whether he would be able to satisfy their requirements. Now I question whether there are any more enthusiastic admirers of the right hon. Gentleman than the shipowners. I am told that the Shipping Federation at the next annual meeting is likely to pass resolutions expressing appreciation of the value of the services of the President of the Board of Trade. In the Designs and Patents Act, passed last year, there is also a proof of efficiency. It came into operation on 1st January this year, and as a result a large number of foreign firms have sent already their representative over to this country to select sites for the establishment of works. Sites have already been selected which will find employment for 2,000 work-people, and before the end of the year it is expected that works will be established here which will find employment for 10,000 people. That is directly the result of the passing of the Designs and Patents Act. I know that hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House are constantly in the habit of saying that there are two Presidents of the Board of Trade—one on the political platform, and one at the Board 996 of Trade offices administering the duties of the department. While they are careful to express dissent from his action as a politician, I am sure that hon. Members on the other side are as enthusiastic as we are on this side to express admiration of the right hon. Gentleman in his capacity as a statesman.
And, it being Eleven of the clock, the debate stood adjourned.
Debate to be resumed To-morrow.