THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (Mr. MOKENNA,) Monmouthshire, N.
, in asking leave to introduce a Bill to regulate the conditions on which public money may be applied in aid of elementary education in England and Wales, and for other purposes incidental thereto, said:—The indulgence of the House may be asked for any Member who is responsible for the introduction of a Bill, 1374 but most of all if its subject relates to education. He cannot flatter himself that he is writing on a clean slate. He has to bear in mind opinions, principles, and even prejudices which he must allow for, and somehow adjust if he hopes to make any advance. Those of us who have been ten years in this House have witnessed victories which have led to further strife and repulses which have left the defeated armies in the field. We have learnt our lesson ill if we still think that a mere victory over opponents is worth having, and that a mere obstruction of changes which are inherent in the policy which Parliament has already approved will check those changes in the long run. I do not propose to enter now into the general aspects of this question. There will be other opportunities in the course of these debates. But I would wish to say one word more by way of preface. We are approaching this subject now for the second time in this Parliament, and I think I am speaking for more than one party when I say that in the interval for reflection since the last effort the desire for a settlement has greatly increased. The public watch with growing indignation and impatience the continuance of these religious dissensions. They feel that the sand is running out in regard to this controversy. If every solution presented to Parliament is to be rejected because it does not give to a church or a denomination all that it wants, the public will feel that the religious controversy is insoluble, and that if we are again to have any hope of peace or of denominational advancement we shall have to remove the religious controversy out of the schools. If we fail once more, if we continue to disagree, we shall have given the most powerful impetus in our generation to the opinion that religion in the schools is a lost cause.
Before I proceed to an outline of the Bill I must say something as to the reason of the Government for departing from the plan proposed two years ago by my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland. In my opinion there could be no better or fairer proposals than he then made, and but for the experience we have had of the reception those proposals received in another place, I do not think the Government could have adopted 1375 now any wiser course than to tread the same path as my right hon. friend. He based his proposals on the two governing principles of public control of public elementary schools and no tests for the teachers in those schools. But so far as was consistent with those principles, and subject to them, he endeavoured to secure the identity and special characteristic of those denominational schools which were proved by the wishes of the parents to have good ground for their continued identity. So long as my right hon. friend had the execution of this plan in his own hands, supported by the majority in this House, he conducted it with an ability which is the despair of one who has to follow him, and with a fairness towards the denominational system which resulted in the largest majority for the Third Reading of so controversial a measure that this House has ever seen. But when that Bill passed from this House to another place his whole plan was turned upside down. Although it was defended there by Lord Crewe with an ability and a fairness which were acknowledged on both sides, the majority in that House overlaid the measure with a series of Amendments which entirely spoilt the original plan. Every security which had been given by my right hon. friend for the protection of denominational teaching was made a jumping-off ground for renewed and fatal attacks upon the governing principles of the Bill. It is true that those principles were accepted in the other place in theory, but in practice it was found that they were utterly incompatible with the Lords' notions of the necessary securities for denominational teaching. Compromise on the basis that was then proposed by my right hon. friend has been shown to be impossible, and the Government, therefore, have not adopted the course of reintroducing a measure with the certain result that it would be smothered under the piled up Amendments made in another place.
Now let me for a moment touch upon the educational position as it now stands. As the House knows, there are two great Acts governing our educational system. If I were to select a cardinal feature from each, I should say that in Mr. Forster's Act it was the 1376 establishment of local representative authorities for the provision of school accommodation and the administration of elementary education. In the Act of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition I should say that the cardinal feature was the co-ordinating of grades of education under a single local authority. Both those Acts effected a. great work in the respects which I have named, and in so far I think they will both be permanent. Under Mr. Forster's Act a type of school was established which experience has proved to be admirably adapted to its purposes. We hear complaints of the council schools, but I think those complaints usually emanate from people who do not use them, and they give satisfaction to the people who do. But under Mr. Forster's Act the council schools, or, as they were then called, the board schools, were only a supplementary part of the national provision. He found and he left a large system of voluntary schools, receiving grants but no rates. These voluntary schools had been founded, in the main, on denominational' principles. But children were obliged, under Mr. Forster's Act, and down even to this moment, to attend those schools, whatever the religion of their parents might be. It may be legitimate that grants should be paid to schools which really respond to the wishes of the parents, but I cannot conceive that it is a sound principle that public money should be employed in the maintenance of schools giving denominational instruction which is repugnant to the parents whose children have to attend those schools. Under Mr. Forster's Act a very great multiplication of voluntary schools took place, not, as I have said, in response to any special desire of the parents, but partly from the benevolent zeal of Churchmen for the propagation of their own doctrines, and partly from the thrift of the ratepayers, who found voluntary subscriptions less expensive than school rates. This multiplication of voluntary schools proved the undoing of the system—subscribers began to complain of the intolerable strain. Such was the condition of affairs when the right hon. Gentleman opposite introduced his-Bill in 1902.
Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman at that time did not ask himself the question whether very large 1377 numbers of those voluntary schools ought ever to have been brought into existence at all, or certainly whether they ought ever to have been allowed to continue to exist. It was notorious at that time that throughout great tracts of the country parents were complaining bitterly that their children were bound to attend these schools. It would have seemed that the proper course in 1902 would have been to find some remedy for that state of things. The right hon. Gentleman provided a remedy for the intolerable strain on the finances of his friends by imposing an intolerable strain on the convictionsof his Opponents. He charged the maintenance of the voluntary schools on the rates, and he thereby for the first time laid upon the public the whole responsibility for maintaining institutions which were under private control and for the first time permitted religious tests on the appointment of teachers, all of whose salary was paid by the public. I claim that the majority of the nation have recognised that the Act of 1902 inflicted a grievance for which Parliament is bound to find a remedy. As to part of that grievance I can quote the right hon. Gentleman himself as my authority. Speaking of the grievance as it affects single school parishes, he said in this House on 23rd July, 1906—The solution both of 1870 and of 1902 had this great disadvantage, that it left certain grievance practical grievances in some cases, theoretical grievances in many cases unredressed. It left the Nonconformist in a single school area, where there was only a Church school, face to face with the necessity of sending his child to that school, or to no school at all.Here was an admission.
§ MR. McKENNA
Certainly, the right hon. Gentleman said there was another grievance on the other side. That was a grievance which it was open to him to remove. The grievance which he admits requires a remedy at this moment. The problem, then, with which we are confronted is how to find, without any revolutionary proceeding, by a measure expressed in clear and unmistakable terms, the acceptance without hesitation or wavering of the principle of public control of our public elementary schools 1378 and of the abolition of tests for teachers in those schools, and at the same time to have regard to the history of existing institutions, and to the varied traditions, habits, and beliefs which exist amongst our people, which to so many are the dearest part of their lives. That is the problem which the Government have to face.
Now let me endeavour to explain to the House very briefly the measure by which the solution of that problem is sought. May I put a question first I What is the characteristic mark of a public elementary school? What is it that distinguishes it from any other kind of elementary school? I take it to be that it is a school which any child who is not otherwise efficiently educated may be compelled to attend. Down to 1902, and at this moment, there are two kinds of public elementary schools, the provided school and the non-provided school. Under this Bill it is proposed that in future there shall be but one type of public elementary school provided by the public, controlled by the public, managed by the public, and that the teachers in them shall be appointed without religious tests. The House is familiar already with the type of public elementary school which is proposed in the Bill. It will be in every particular the old board school or the present council school Such a school may be provided by the local authority for every child whose parent wishes it to have accommodation in such a school, and no child can be compelled to attend any other kind of school. That is the new cardinal principle of this Bill, and I hope that principle will receive the acceptance of this House and of Parliament. The religious instruction in this school will be the same as that which has been given in the council schools under the law for the last thirty-eight years. There will be no change except a clear enunciation of the principle that there must be no test on the appointment of the teachers. Now, I think in this proposal the Government are following the road of experience. I do not think it can be disputed, taking the whole period for which we have known these council schools, that the mass of the nation have been satisfied with the kind of education 1379 given in them. They have been established in every variety of district, urban and rural, and amongst every variety of local habit, tradition, and political feeling, and nowhere do we find that the parents have complained of them. It will be said that objection has not been taken to these schools in the past because there has been an alternative type of education offered to the parents. That alternative has been more apparent than real. Over considerable tracts of the country there has been no alternative to the council schools, and yet we find the council schools, which have been established here, there, and everywhere merely because there was not sufficient existing accommodation, have in fact given satisfaction.
It will be said also, and I know it will be said by a great many of my hon. friends on this side of the House, that this proposal does not offer the only final and acceptable solution of the difficulty, and that the only logical basis upon which our national system of education can be established is the basis of purely secular schools. Well, Sir, I say it, I confess, with as many apologies as may be necessary, that the argument that a particular proposal is the only logical one does not carry great weight to my mind. What we have to inquire into is, what is the system that is practically adapted to the needs of our people? What do we find has been justified by experience, and what has been condemned? If we have a convenient and practicable system which is logical, so much the better; but if it be not logical, nevertheless do not sacrifice your own convenience. Let us make sure beyond everything else that the parents get the kind of education which they need for their children. [OPPOSITION cheers.] I welcome those cheers from hon. Gentlemen opposite, for I can assure them that I am endeavouring now, for the first time, to recognise the wishes of the parents. As I have said, this Bill establishes only one type of school, the council school. From these council schools as many Godfearing children are sent out year by year I as from any other kind of school, and the religious instruction given them does not revolt or shock the consciences of the 1380 parents. We should make a great mistake if we were to leave on one side all the lessons that we have learned during the last thirty-eight years, and for the sake of some ground of logical necessity adopt a system which the great majority of our people do not want.
Having said so much of the schools under what I term the national conditions, I think the House will agree that it is impossible to ignore the fact that large sections of our community desire a type of instruction in which more definite denominational teaching is given than in our existing council schools. I recognise clearly that great sacrifices have been made in the past by devoted men and women in founding and maintaining these voluntary schools, and I am aware that, if the State were to refuse to recognise these schools in any form or shape, it would be regarded by very many people as an act of pitiless injustice. The moment voluntary schools are no longer public elementary—the moment they are no longer schools which any child need attend, then, I think, we may begin to consider that the position has changed and that there is room for generous treatment of them. These voluntary schools, if they are to receive Exchequer grants, will have to satisfy all the requirements of the Board of Education. Their standard of education will have to be precisely the same as in the public elementary schools. They will not be allowed to be too small, because efficiency cannot be secured in too small schools. Therefore they will be limited to schools with an average attendance of at least thirty. [Laughter.] My hon. friends laugh, but in the rural districts it is not always easy to maintain schools even of that size. They will further not be allowed to exist, at any rate, with the support of public money in single-school parishes. They must not be carried on for profit, and they must not have a fee of more than 9d. a week. Those are not very severe restrictions to put upon voluntary schools, but they will have this restriction which they have not-had before, that they will only exist if the parents wish them, for any parent who does not wish his child to attend such a school can call upon the local authority to find accommodation for his child in a local authority school, and as 1381 such schools will not be allowed in single-school parishes there can be no danger of pressure being put upon parents in our rural hamlets to compel them to refrain from asking for a publicly provided school. With regard to single-school parishes, I think it has been generally recognised that those parishes are properly a subject for special treatment. I have already quoted the Leader of the Opposition on that subject. I have not quoted him on the other half of the subject.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
was understood to indicate that what he said on the other subject should also be quoted.
I have not the quotation with me. I was under the impression that the other part dealt with another part of the subject. I am quite aware that individual exceptions can be pointed out, but as a general rule a single-school parish is one in which there are only enough children to justify on educational grounds the existence of one school. In these parishes there must always be a public elementary school, as I have already said, and if in addition to a school of that kind we were to have a multiplication of small rural schools the only object which we should be certain to secure would be the complete destruction of the efficiency of the education. Public money ought not to be spent, whether through rates or through grants, in fostering schools which must be educationally inefficient, and it is, therefore, unnecessary to go beyond the educational argument to justify the proposal in the Bill, that in single-school parishes the State will recognise no other than the public elementary school. From what I have said the House will perceive that the proposal of the Government is that the two kinds of schools shall receive State recognition. One, and that the predominant type, will be the public elementary school publicly supported and publicly controlled, and that alone will receive rate aid. The second, and the exceptional type, will be the voluntary school which will receive grants but no rate aid, and which will be what it has hitherto not been—voluntary in fact as well as in name. It will be supported by volunteers. It will be made grants, but maintained by volunteers, and it will be attended by children whose parents voluntarily wish them to attend.
1382 I have to turn now to a branch of the subject on which I must claim the special indulgence of the House—namely, the financial proposals of the Bill. Of the proposals themselves I shall not attempt more than a brief summary, as I could not hope to make myself intelligible unless hon. Members had in their hands a detailed statement showing precisely what these proposals are. Such a memorandum will be supplied with the Bill, and will give all necessary information. It has been borne in upon me during my short tenure of office how much local administrators are harassed at every point and turn by the unwillingness of the ratepayers in the heavily rated districts to meet the expense of much needed educational improvements. Highly influential deputations representing all the county boroughs, all the counties and boroughs and urban districts, have represented to the Board that the Exchequer must come to the aid of the distressed ratepayers, and that the growth of the education rate must be checked. Medical inspection of school children has added a new charge to the cost of education. It has come on the top of heavy additions to the rates consequent on the Act of 1902. The present Bill does not merely provide means to meet any cost which it may itself entail, but it also gives promise of some relief to the ratepayers, and particularly to the ratepayers in the heavily rated districts. When my right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer—who has ever been indulgent to the claims of education—gave me some assurance of Exchequer assistance for carrying out the proposals of the present Bill, I turned my attention at once to the question of how to find better means of distributing the Exchequer money than we have at present. We see in different areas at the present time most surprising variations of the rates. In one district it runs as high as 3s. Id. in the £ in another it is as low as a penny in the £. These anomalies are very startling and indicate the varying degrees of oppressiveness on the ratepayer, a matter on which the ratepayer is never silent. Now I confess I was ambitious, and I endeavoured if I could to discover a plan more equitable with the view to greater equalisation of the rates. I confess that for a long time I sought for some automatic test of poverty which would be a 1383 guide to the Exchequer in the distribution of the grant. It has been alleged, for instance, that one of the main grounds for the heavy rate in a particular district is because the child population in that district is very large in relation to the general population, and very large in relation to the rateable value of the district per head. I have had innumerable sets of figures made out by the officials of the Board of Education, to whom the House will permit me to take this opportunity of tendering my sincere thanks for the elaborate care with which these have been made out. But, unfortunately, I found that this automatic test was of no value at all. Some districts which at the present moment are lowest rated appear from that test to be the very poorest, and I should have been wasting public money, or, at any rate, giving it where it was least wanted in many cases, if I had distributed the grant on that system. After examination lasting many weeks, the only certain factor which I could find at the present time was the expenditure on buildings, and accordingly I have adopted that factor, at any rate, as one of the features in the new proposals for the distribution of the grant. How much is it which each locality spends on new buildings either by way of loan charge or in any other way? But a final solution, I have had reluctantly to come to the conclusion, is impossible at the present time. We have not, in fact, the means of knowledge. Until the present Bill has been in operation for some time it will be quite impossible to see the precise degree in which it may affect particular districts, and to make a fair calculation of the weight of the burden over the country. We cannot say what the burden will be in a particular district. But there is another and a greater issue. We do not, in fact, at present know what is the true rate-burden in any area, and until we get a reform of the system of valuation all over the country we do not know how much we are paying. All we do know is that a Is. rate in one district is no heavier than a 9d. rate in a second, and no lighter than a Is. 3d. rate in a third. Until we have the reform in the system of valuation which will be brought about under the measure which my right hon. friend the President of the Local Government Board has now in hand it is impossible to get a final solution. I have had, therefore, 1384 to fall back upon the present basis, unsatisfactory as it is, as the basis of future distribution; but with this warning, that the present proposals are only-temporary, and that a distribution on a more rational and equitable basis will be found as soon as once the materials are placed at the disposal of the Board.
The Bill, in the first place, repeals the-Aid and Fee Grants, thus placing at the disposal of the Board of Education the whole of the money voted by Parliament in the same way as is now the case in regard to the annual grant. Insofar as-the buildings are concerned that is all that is done by the Bill. Further explanation will be found in the Memorandum already spoken of and which will be circulated to Members with the Bill. I first compute the actual amount which was received by a local authority in the last year, and I divide that amount by the number of children in average attendance. This will give a certain amount per child in each area. To that amount I add 2s., and the whole of this becomes a new standard or block grant for the area. To the old grant plus 2s. per child I add further one third of the annual cost of the existing loan charges, and one third of the cost of any future loan charge, including in those loan charges any amount which is paid for rent of land or buildings. To this I further add in the case of heavily rated districts which have been receiving a special grant for the last two years, one half of the amount of grant that they have been so receiving. Those three items, taken together, are subject to certain limitations. First, no area is to-receive less per child than 4s. more than it now gets, so that every area, even that which is worst treated under this proposal, will be 4s. per child better off under this Bill than at the present moment. Another limitation is that no area is to-get more than 6s. per child more than now. There is a further restriction that no area is to receive more than 75 per cent. of the whole cost of its elementary education. All these benefices added together will cost to the Exchequer something over £1,400,000 a year. If I add to this amount the sum now distributed in grants and divide the total so obtained by the number of children in average attendance, it works out at an average of 47s. per child, and accordingly 47s. per child is-the amount which it is proposed to give 1385 in grants to voluntary schools. The voluntary and the county council schools will be placed on exactly the same footing; they will receive like grants, and the Board of Education will demand precisely the same standard of secular education from both. We will make sure that with the public money so expended on voluntary schools we meet with a good return in the shape of secular instruction. Let me repeat that I put forward this proposal now only as a temporary scheme of distribution, and it must be reconsidered as soon as a more stable condition of affairs of elementary education is reached and a basis obtained for determining the assessable value, and it is proposed that the scheme will be revised certainly not later than the year 1911. I must apologise for dealing at such a length with a matter which I regret to say is necessarily dry and in many respects tedious.
It remains for me to explain how I propose to deal with the transfer of existing voluntary school buildings which the trustees do not propose to continue as voluntary schools. In the case of all other than single schools in single-school parishes, and even in those parishes in the case of schools with trusts which are not purely educational, the trustees are to be allowed to transfer the buildings to the local education authority if they wish to do so, either absolutely or to such an extent, as may be agreed upon and on such terms as may be arranged This, I admit, will be an interference with trusts; but I have an example for that in previous legislation in 1870 and 1902. Complete freedom will be left to either party. With regard, however, to schools under tight trusts in single-school parishes the case is different. It must be remembered that in those parishes no public money of any kind is to be spent under this Bill upon any other than a public elementary school. Therefore, if the trustees of a tight trust school in a single-school parish wish to carry on that school they will be at liberty to do so, but they will be obliged to do it out of their own resources. In a great majority of cases the trustees will have no sufficient funds to enable them to carry on the school, and therefore the trust must fall for it purpose unless some arrangement is made under this Bill to deal with them. We must not overlook 1386 the fact that these tight trusts are partly educational and partly denominational. How can we now in the best possible way execute the original purpose of these trusts, having regard to the fact that the school can no longer be kept on or continued on its old lines I will explain. The reason of that is educational. We do not wish for a multiplication of small schools. Now it is quite clear, in so far as the trust is educational the local authority will execute that part of it by giving elementary education in the school five days in the week. In so far as the voluntary school is under a denominational trust, it can be carried, and properly carried out, on the remaining two days of the week, viz., Saturday and Sunday, and further by giving denominational instruction out of school hours, of course by some teachers other than the regular teachers in the school, during five days in the denominational tenets of those parents who desire-their children to receive it. This, I say, will be a complete execution of the trust in its principle and purpose—such a complete execution as will be alone possible if the trust cannot execute itself. For if the State is to be asked to pay for the elementary education, it is entitled to take a share in laying down the position. In the case of tight trusts where the trustees cannot themselves carry on the schools, the school buildings shall be transferred to the local education authority, who will undertake to keep them in good repair, furnished, cleaned, lighted, warmed, and placed at the dissposal of the trustees for the giving of denominational instruction five days in the week out of school hours, and entirely at their disposal on Saturday and Sunday for such denominational purposes as the trustees think fit. I further propose that in order to give every security that the buildings will be used for these purposes, including religious teaching, that the trustees may make it a condition of transfer that Cowper-Temple instruction shall be given in such schools. It will be agreed that a-transfer on these terms will be the-nearest execution of the trust that is possible under the circumstances, and that therefore no question of rent can possibly arise. Before I leave this subject, let me say upon the question of facilities that where these are proposed to be 1387 given for special religious instruction in single-school parishes—because in these parishes voluntary schools will not be allowed—it is not proposed under the Bill to allow the facitities to be given for special religious instruction in other than "ingle-school parishes, because in other than single - school parishes special religious instruction may be given in the voluntary schools. The trustees of any existing school buildings who desire to transfer their buildings to the local education authority on such terms and rent as may be agreed upon, may make it a condition that in these schools Cowper-Temple instruction shall always be given.
To return to one aspect of this matter which I cannot help mentioning—cannot help regarding with other than sincere regard—that is, that every change in our educational system must for the time being cause very great anxiety to the teachers employed in the schools. I am glad to say that it has been always a custom whenever voluntary school buildings have been transferred to the local authority, for the local authority to take over the schools as a going concern, and to continue the school teachers and to pay them not less than their former salaries. I cannot conceive that any variation of this custom is likely to take place under the new system; but in order to relieve the teachers of any anxiety it is proposed to embody in this Bill Clause 7, subsection 3, of the Bill of 1906. Provision is also made to continue the payments to the Annuity Fund for one year so as to safeguard the interest of teachers who may find themselves out of employment. The effect of the Bill, as a whole, is to bring a larger number of schools, and consequently of teachers in those schools, directly under the local authority than is now the case. Though I am aware that there must be anxiety among the teachers as to what will happen to them in the voluntary schools, I would remind them that the amplitude of the grant that is now proposed to be given to the schools is a sufficient security for them, and that there will be funds for paying them an adequate salary.
I think that I have now completed such a preliminary account of this Bill as is necessary to explain its terms. 1388 I commend it to the favourable consideration of the House, with the prayer that it may be a settlement of this vexed question. It was with no wish of my own that a year ago I found myself placed at the Board of Education. I was taken from a position, humbler and less conspicuous, but one in which I found myself very happily placed, and in which there was no religious controversy. If I refer to myself now, it is only to say that, coming as I did to the Board of Education with no wish of my own, without any special aptitude for the work, it is impossible for anyone to be there any time without having two great facts borne in his mind. The first and most satisfactory one is that we have in this country a very great number of earnest, zealous men and women, who are giving the best energy of their lives in promoting the cause of education in their own districts. I have met them by scores and hundreds. They have come up to the Board on deputations; and I can assure the House that nothing would please these men and women more than that the path of educational improvement should be made clear before them. I believe that this Bill will help them. The second great fact is that, while the field of possible educational improvement is so unlimited as to offer a boundless prospect of benefit to the nation, we are at every point and at every turn hindered and delayed by this intolerable quarrel over the religious question. I can assure the House, after a year's experience, that I cannot find words that express my sense of the discouraging drag which this long-lasting controversy has plated on educational progress. The Board of Education would ask for nothing better than that their work should be removed from the distorting medium within which a subject of heated political controversy in this House is disposed to centre, and to be allowed to continue their work of educational reform, at any rate, more unobserved than they are at present. They have a great task before them. No office is better equipped with men of ability, energy, and industry. The Board will perform their task, if Parliament will only agree to rescue the question of education from partisan controversy and come to some common agreement for protecting the children. This is the object which the Government have in proposing this Bill; and in the belief 1389 that this will be the effect of this proposal I commend it to the acceptance of Parliament.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That leave be given to introduce a Bill to regulate the conditions on which public money may be applied in aid of elementary education in England and Wales."—(Mr. McKenna.)
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman concluded his speech by bespeaking our sympathy for himself and for his Department. As far as I am concerned, he has that sympathy in the fullest measure. When he goes on to say that the object which he has in view in bringing forward this Bill is to relieve the Department over which he presides of all the difficulties incident to the work of education caused by the bitterness of the religious controversy, then I am bound to say that never, in all my Parliamentary experience, have I known a Bill brought in for a particular object which seemed less qualified to carry it out. This Bill, I understand, is to bring religious peace; it is to free the path of philanthropic educationists from the trammels which beset them. The right hon. Gentleman was much happier in his anticipatory description of this Bill, which he gave us six months ago, when he said that the next education measure of the Government would be to bring, not an olive branch, but a sword. The sword is undoubtedly brought forth, but whether the edge is sharp, whether it is likely to be an efficient instrument in the hands of those who attempt to wield it, I have my doubts. The controversy which begins to-night, but which will not end to-night, can alone settle that question. The right hon. Gentleman began with a sort of historical survey of the course of education up to the epoch-making measure which he introduced, and in the course of it he was good enough to quote me as saying that there was a Nonconformist grievance in certain single school areas. I have always admitted it, and, though the right hon. Gentleman forgot to say so, I did something material in the Act of 1902 to remedy it. I gave to the local authority, whether a school was required from the strictly secular point of view or not, in any district, power to erect another school, if, among other things, they thought that 1390 the wishes of the parents—which the right hon. Gentleman appeals to in this-case—rendered such a course necessary. But the grievance incident to the single-school is not a Nonconformist grievance at all. It often, and mainly, is a Church of England or a Roman Catholic grievance as well. Their view is that if you have a school in which Cowper-Temple teaching is given, you have a grievance precisely on all fours with the grievance alleged on the side of the Nonconformists, who do not approve of the teaching in the single-school areas where the Church of England or Roman Catholics are teaching. What does the right hon. Gentleman do? He not only does not remedy it, but he doubles, quadruples, and multiplies it indefinitely. Has he made any calculation of the number of single-school areas in the country parishes in this country, where at this-moment the population are told to go to the schools, and where they approve the religious teaching given and prefer it to the alternative teaching? I can tell him that it is a very large number, and in every one of these parishes the single-school grievance which he quotes me as dealing with is one which he is going to create for the first time in its most aggravated and most unjust shape. In those areas not only is the right hon. Gentleman doing an injury to the parents who send their children to the schools, if the parents prefer the teaching there, but he is committing an act of the grossest injustice to those who built the schools, who spent their money in building them, and who have done so much to maintain them. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to take these schools, to appropriate them for every school day in the week; and he diverts them wholly from one of the purposes for which they were originally constructed. I should have thought that it would have been the business of a statesman, in attempting to do what the right hon. Gentleman says-that he desires to do—namely, to remove the religious difficulty—to find some means by which both sets of parents among Churchmen and a Nonconformist minority could obtain that kind of teaching for their children which they most desire. No; the right hon. Gentleman, who talks so much about removing the religious difficulty, gratuitously creates it, and with injustice to those who made the schools. There was not a trace in his speech of the 1391 slightest desire to meet the wishes of the parents, of those parents who, rightly or wrongly, prefer the kind of religious instruction now given in these schools, and who would view the change which the right hon. Gentleman is going to force down their throats with the utmost dismay and disapproval. If we turn from the right hon. Gentleman's gross ill-treatment, first, of the owners of the voluntary schools, and secondly, of the parents who approve the teaching in these schools; if we leave for a moment, at all events, the single-school area grievance, which the right hon. Gentleman talks as if he had done something in this proposal to remedy, instead of multiplying and doubling the grievances, and if we turn to the urban areas, what do we find? Apparently, urban districts are not in the right hon. Gentleman's opinion single-school areas at all, and are to have a wholly different method applied to them. There was a great lacuna here in the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He ought to have told us what constitutes a single school area. It is perfectly clear even in rural areas that the parish school or the old voluntary school is in a single-school district, but what constitutes a single-school district in a town? That is all-important. How far has a child to go and yet have it in his power to say he has not an alternative school at his disposal? There is a large thoroughfare between two schools, one voluntary and the other provided—they are separated, it may be, by only one hundred yards. Are these in the same or in different areas?
§ MR. McKENNA
The definition was in the Bill of 1906. A single-school parish is a parish in which on 1st January, 1908, there was only one school within the area of a minor local education authority. That is very technical. It includes rural parishes, parishes in urban districts under 20,000 and rural districts under 10,000 in which there is only one school.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
But that does not include the larger rural parishes. Therefore it is no definition. What is the definition of a single-school area in London?
§ MR. McKENNA
London would not be a single-school area. It would not come under the definition of a minor local 1392 authority. But the definition in the Bill of 1906 does not include towns of any sort.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then it seems that there is something not in the Bill which is of fundamental importance.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
But there is something not in the Bill, and I am going to show what it is. Towns of over 20,000—however distant its two schools may be, and however difficult of access—will not be single-school areas; and every child will be supposed to have full choice of a school.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then the Bill may be lacking in logical completeness, and I think it is, but at all events it is comparatively simple. I understand that every voluntary school in an urban district of over 20,000 inhabitants may contract out of the Act if the parents wish it. That is of considerable importance, I should have thought, from the point of view of those who think that every child ought to have within roach a school in which Cowper-Temple teaching is given. What is the definition of "within reach" in the Bill?
§ MR. McKENNA
The same as under the existing law. The local authority must provide accommodation for all the children within its area, but it does not necessarily build a school next door to each child. According to practice the distance may be from half a mile to two or even three miles in rural districts. Whatever is the law now will be the law under this Bill.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then the local authority is to decide whether the school is near enough for the child to go to. That is of enormous importance, because it depends on that decision how many schools and what kind of schools can contract out of the Act. There is no principle laid down in the Bill, and no appeal to the Education Department. It depends entirely on the local authority to decide whether a Church of England or Roman Catholic school can contract out of the Act. Let the House consider what the injury is that the right hon. Gentleman is 1393 doing to the cause of education. I have indicated the kind of injury to the owners and trustees of voluntary schools, and to the parents who desire to send their children to those schools. Now as to the cause of education in the urban districts. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Act of 1902 had this great merit—that it did co-ordinate education in all its branches. Everyone who has watched the working of that Act will admit that the right hon. Gentleman did it no more than justice and that the cause of education has gained prodigiously in all great urban centres from the fact that education of all kinds, elementary, secondary, and technical, is brought within the circuit of the power of one single authority, which can deal as a whole with all the educational problems presented by the district, whether of the simple educational kind, or such questions as medical examination, scholarships, and the training of teachers, and all the other subsidiary but most important questions which modern education necessarily involves. From that coordination of education the right hon. Gentleman puts it in the power of every voluntary school, if the parents desire, to withdraw. Henceforth, while every child in the country is refused access to denominational education every parent in the urban districts who desires denominational education for his child must send his child to a school withdrawn from the advantages of collective management and support. The right hon. Gentleman says that the choice is given to the parent as to where he shall send his child. Yes, but that is in the urban districts. And what sort of choice is it? The parent will not be able to choose between this and that kind of religious instruction. No, the parent will have to say, Shall I sacrifice the good education of my child in secular matters in order to attain the religious education I desire? You again bring back that bad system of starving every school where the religious education you happen to approve does not prevail. You may be levelling a powerful blow against the Church of England. That is manifestly your object. It is written large in every line of this Bill. But in attempting to strike the Church of England are you not dealing a blow, not only at other denominations, like the Roman Catholics and the Jews, but at the interests of 1394 education itself? The right hon. Gentleman knows that he is, and I will convince the most sceptical amongst those who seem to doubt my assertion. The present system, whatever be its merits in the eyes of the right hon. Gentleman, has undoubtedly this merit—that every school is worked up to the same standard of excellence. The teachers of all schools, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and provided, all get the same rate of pay and are all equally qualified to obtain in equal amount the general advantages arising from the coordination of education. You are by this Bill going to create a new kind of school for the benefit of those who like their children to be brought up in their own religion, and you will fine those parents by destroying the excellence of the secular education given in those schools. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that he is going to add to the grant a sum which varied between a maximum of 6s. and a minimum of 4s. per child in average attendance. Does any one who knows anything of the statistics of education in this country believe that even the maximum grant of 6s. a child is going to enable the voluntary schools, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Wesleyan, to maintain the standard which has been set by the modern requirements of education. Is it not folly? In London I believe at this moment the cost per child is £3 6s. 8d. for maintenance. The cost before the Act of 1902 was £2 1s. 9d., so that the present addition to maintenance per head in the voluntary schools is no less than 14s., if my information is accurate, since the Act came into operation. The right hon. Gentleman is going to throw upon the managers and owners of voluntary schools not merely the provision of that additional 14s., of which he is going to subscribe 6s., but the whole cost of maintaining the edifice. That may be a very agreeable prospect to hon. Gentlemen who cheer; but may I ask how the education in these schools is going to be kept up to the present standard, which costs £3 6s. 8d. for maintenance? Is it not perfectly obvious on the face of the figures I have given, and I am sure they could be multiplied indefinitely, that the 6s. additional grant that they propose to give is utterly inadequate to meet the requirements of the case, and that you will have in the future, as you had before 1902, two classes of schools in all your 1395 big towns in which a large number of parents, nobody can tell how many, will prefer sending their children for religious and perhaps other grounds to the denominational schools, where it is impossible that they should find and where nobody expects they ever can find the same level of secular instruction as is now given in schools of all denominations and of all kinds and characters under the Act of 1902. I do not wish to dwell too much upon the gross injustice you are doing to those who spend vast sums of money in building and improving these voluntary schools. Since the Act of 1902, since the new system, I am informed that in London alone over £400,000 has been spent on the Church schools. I do not profess to be an expert in the matter, and I may be mistaken, but I am informed that that is the figure. You are going to destroy the value of a good deal of that, because you are going again to start these invidious distinctions which will give this choice to parents: "Shall we send our child to the relatively ill-equipped voluntary school or to the school which has the Government grant and the rate aid behind it" I think that is a gross injustice to the subscriber. But I do not wish to make them or their interests or their convictions the main ground of my complaint against this Bill. The main ground of my complaint is that so far as country districts are concerned it is grossly unfair to the parents who send their children to a voluntary and denominational school, and that so far as the urban districts are concerned, you have shattered the great educational work which was by common consent performed in 1902. Every educationist admits that part of the case. You are going to withdraw from the control in secular matters of the central education authority in each district all power of bringing these schools into co-ordination with their general system, all power of aiding the salaries of teachers, all power of seeing that the educational advantages are equal all round, all power of making them share in the general advantages of the district By so doing you are putting before the parents, Roman Catholic and Anglican, the most cruel of all dilemmas, the most unjust of all choices, namely, "Shall we sacrifice our religious beliefs, in which we want our children to be 1396 brought up, in order to give them the worldly advantages which may be obtained from sending them to a well-equipped school; are we to sacrifice things in which we believe and for which we have been ready to sacrifice money, causes in which our whole faith is involved, in order to see that the advantages given to the indifferent parent, it may be, or, at all events, to the Nonconformist parent next door to us, are all given to our children—the advantages which are to be derived from a sound secular education in the schools that have behind them, not merely State aid, but rate aid?" I shall not stop on the present occasion to deal with the extraordinary logic of the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman. I remember that, when his predecessor was introducing his Bill, he explained that the pledges on which the hon. Gentlemen opposite had been returned to Parliament were of a kind which prevented any institution receiving public money, either from rates or from taxes, being outside popular control. What he said was—After the date named, no elementary school shall receive a penny of public money either from rates or from taxes, unless it becomes a provided school within the meaning of the Education Acts. Unless' "—I hope the right hon. Gentleman's successor will mark these words—electoral promises and pledges are fustian and fudge, unless they are mere sound and fury, signifying nothing, no other clause than this is possible.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
But they will get money from the taxes, and, what is more, probably their only source of revenue will come from the taxes. And does the right hon Gentleman say that they are going to be under public control?
§ MR. McKENNA
No, sir. The education given in them must conform to a standard laid down by the Board of Education. In no other respect will they be public elementary schools. In all other respects they will be, as, in my opinion, they are now and they ought to be, private institutions.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My question was this: They are institutions which do get 1397 money from taxes. Are they under public control?
§ MR. BALFOUR
Then the pledges of the right hon. Gentleman are fustian and fudge. I should not really complain of hon. Gentlemen opposite if I knew exactly what their principle was. I sometimes think they adapt their legislation to their electoral pledges, but still more often they adapt their electoral pledges to their legislation. I cannot quite make out whether this Bill is supposed to be in accordance with their electoral pledges or whether their electoral pledges, as interpreted by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, have been modified so as to suit this Bill, though I rather think it is the latter. I do not complain of that, because this servitude to electoral pledges which hon. Gentlemen opposite profess when they have some proposal of more than usual enormity to bring before the country does certainly not make for their legislative independence, but if the Government have, as I gather they have, brought in this proposal with all that freedom which they now claim from their electoral pledges as previously interpreted, they might surely have brought in a measure which was not in such absolute and complete contradiction of every sound canon of religious liberty and of the free choice of parents, and of sound educational methods. Nothing can make this Bill a good educational measure. You sacrifice education absolutely to the violence of your religious prejudice, and to the desire to injure a Church to which you do not belong. In these circumstances it is quite impossible, even at this early stage of our discussions on this Bill, that I can promise the light hon. Gentleman smooth or easy progress in the task which he has undertaken.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fifeshire, E.
I am sure that the last thing which my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Education expected to receive from the Leader of the Opposition was the assurance that this Bill would have either a smooth or an easy passage, in that respect the concluding part of his speech does not in any way disappoint our expectations. But I think the right 1398 hon. Gentleman has been a little lavish, even for him, in the imputation of, I will not say dishonest, but certainly of discreditable, motives to his political opponents. I do not think I am doing an injustice to the right hon. Gentleman's speech when I say that the only two intentions with which he could credit us in introducing this measure are, first, to impair the educational efficiency of our schools, and next to deal, if we can, a side-blow to the Church of England. That was the sense in which the right hon. Gentleman's speech is understood and applauded by some at any rate of those who sit behind him.
It is not so much for the purpose, which I think would hardly be appropriate at this stage, when the Bill has not been printed or circulated, of discussing its details, but rather of dealing with the general propositions of the right hon. Gentleman that I have risen to make, with the indulgence of the House, two or three very brief observations in the way of reply, and I will endeavour to argue the matter with a little less heat than the right hon. Gentleman has imported into the debate. How do we stand in relation to this Bill? Am I not right in saying, and do I really not carry with me the assent of every man in this House who has thought the problem out when I say, that there are only three conceivable solutions of our educational difficulties? The first is the solution which the right hon. Gentleman himself adopted in the Act, 1902—namely, the giving of rate aid all round to every class of school. I confess I was a little amused with the right hon. Gentleman's glowing panegyric this afternoon on the great principle of local control. Rate aid, as we said in 1902, and as we repeated in those electoral pledges to which, I venture to say, we are showing the utmost fidelity to-day, carried with it local control. And what is the local control which the right hon. Gentleman gave? He pays a great deal of lip-service to the principle to-day for political purposes, but what was the actual homage he offered to it when he had to deal with it as an actual matter of legislative enactment? It amounts to a couple of representatives on the local authority and four denominational managers for dealing with those matters which were most vital to the prosperity and efficiency of the schools.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten the Act of 1902. That Act gave absolute control to the local authority in all matters of secular education.
§ MR. ASQUITH
What about the most important matter of all, the appointment of teachers, as to which not only had the local authority not supreme jurisdiction, but as to which these denominational managers were empowered by Act of Parliament to continue to impose denominational tests? It was on that ground that we fought the Tight hon. Gentleman in 1902, and, when we appealed to the country against his Act at the general election in 1906, the country returned an unhesitating verdict in condemnation of it, But when we dealt or attempted to deal with this matter in 1906 we took the Act of 1902 as it stood, and endeavoured to remedy that gross and grievous imperfection in it. And what was the result? The result was that after weeks and months of controversy we arrived at the issue that it was impossible to import into that Act or into any modification of that Act an effective system of local control worthy of the name which would at the same time be acceptable to and accepted by the denominations concerned. It was that that wrecked the Bill of 1906, and we are not going to repeat that experiment and tempt a second time the same disaster. Well, that is one solution—a solution that has been proved in practice to be impossible. What is the next solution? The next solution is the secular, which I admit to be a perfectly logical conception in theory, and to which it may be that in course of time—though I trust not—we in this country may be driven. But what are the reasons why neither this Government, nor, I venture to say, any other Government that held office by the support of the House of Commons, and in accordance with the decision of the electorate, can propose the secular solution? The reasons are two. In the first place, in the existing condition of opinion and sentiment in this country it is an impracticable solution. [Cries of "No."] Well, I venture to say that in the existing condition of opinion and sentiment in this country it is impracticable. And it is impracticable, or it is believed to be impracticable—which comes to the same thing 1400 when you are dealing with a matter of political practicability—for two reasons. In the first place, it is the opinion, I believe, of the great majority of our fellow-countrymen that you cannot segregate or isolate secular from religious teaching. Expellas furca, tarnen usque recurret. Where you are teaching history, where you are teaching literature, and where you are teaching ethics, where you are trying to lay down those rules of Christianity which are to mould the character of your children, the impalpable boundary line which separates secular from religious teaching is constantly crossed. And, further than that, the great majority of English parents do desire that in our public elementary schools the Bible should be taught, and that their children should have the opportunity not only of studying that which is the greatest masterpiece of English literature, to put it on no higher ground, but of learning a lesson which nowhere else can be so fully or so cogently or so impressively taught. You may like it or not. I am not arguing whether the majority of our fellow-countrymen are right or wrong, but I am confident that the great majority of Members on both sides of the House will agree with me that that does approximately represent what is at present—I do not say it will always continue to be—the dominating sentiment. If you put those two solutions on one side, what is left? I venture to say there is no other solution left but that proposed in the Bill of my right hon. friend. ["Oh, oh."] And what is that? It is that you should put within the reach—I will not discuss with the right hon. Gentleman what that expression precisely means, translated into geographical terms of the particular area, we know what it means approximately—that you should put within the reach of every child in this country a public elementary school supported by the taxes and by the rates, and which is to conform to certain conditions; and among those conditions is this, that in that school there is not to be taught the distinctive formulas of any religious denomination, but there may be taught—not must—if the local authority so wishes—the local authority, which is, after all, the best representative of the parents—there may be taught the special form of religious teaching which, as the experience of forty years has shown, is acceptable to so many, indeed the bulk, 1401 of the parents of this country. That is our first principle. The second principle of this Bill is that no rate aid is to be given to any school which does not eon-form to those conditions. I will deal in a moment with what I venture to regard as far the most important of the criticisms which the right hon. Gentleman has made—namely, the effect of this change upon educational efficiency. What are we going to do with that large mass of schools called by a strange misnomer voluntary schools? Well, leaving out of consideration the single-school areas, we provide that wherever there is a real demand from the parents, shown by an average attendance of not less than thirty children, and wherever (and this is most important) the conditions laid down by the Board of Education as to the maintenance of the proper standard of educational efficiency are complied with, these schools may continue to exist, not, indeed, as rate-supported institutions, and not, therefore, subject to the obligation of local control, because rate aid and local control are in our view corollaries one of the other. I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means by public control. They will be under the control of the Board of Education.
§ MR. ASQUITH
Yes, when the ratepayers are contributing their money for the support of their children we have always said that the representatives of the ratepayers ought to be allowed to have a voice in the appointment of the teachers. I am dealing now simply with the conditions under which the Parliamentary grant always has been given before the right hon. Gentleman introduced the rate aid, and I will read the exact words of the Bill—The school is to be open to the inspection of the Board of Education, and all such conditions of efficiency as regards teaching staff, school premises, and secular instruction as are required by the Board of Education in public elementary schools—1402 that is, in the schools of the local authorities, all those conditions are to be complied with. Therefore these schools cannot continue to receive the Parliamentary grant. They cannot continue in existence unless they are maintained at an educational standard as high as that maintained in the public elementary schools. And that is the real answer to the right hon. Gentleman's criticism that we are dealing a blow at the educational efficiency of our schools. Let me add, before I pass from that, that these schools will receive a grant which is not to exceed 47s., and it will be in the vast majority of cases a substantial addition to the Parliamentary grant already enjoyed. They will retain complete autonomy with regard to the management and to the appointment of teachers, and, subject only to those conditions of educational efficiency, they will be, so far as the Parliamentary grant is concerned, in a better pecuniary position than they are to-day.
Now I come to the other class of schools with which the right hon. Gentleman dealt in the earlier part of his speech, I mean those of the single-school areas. My right hon. friend the President of the Board of Education quoted an admission of the right hon. Gentleman, made only last year or the year before, to the effect that the Nonconformist parent in these parishes has a substantial grievance. The right hon. Gentleman said he did something to satisfy or remove that. There may be one or two cases in some parts of the country, but I am not acquainted with a single case in which the remedy kindly provided by the right hon. Gentleman has proved efficacious and for the simple reason—and it is a very good reason—that in most of these cases it would be a ridiculous thing to have two schools. There is not room for two schools, and to throw upon the parish in this comparative small and impoverished area the duty of building a new school is to make a perfectly nugatory offer. I am going to point out to the House in a moment, by way of contrast, the way in which we are making a real, genuine, honest, and sincere attempt to deal with the religious grievances of those who are supporters of voluntary schools. What will be the state of things in those single parishes? First of all, the proposed compulsory transfer only applies to schools 1403 which have what the Bill describes as "limited trusts"—that is to say, educational trusts—trusts of which the primary purpose is education. Where those conditions exist and the local authority moves in the matter and makes an application, the Board of Education may vest the schoolhouse in the local authority without payment, and the local authority may use it without payment during five days of the week for the purpose of giving secular instruction—if it pleases, of giving Cowper-Temple instruction; and if the trustees, through whom the transfer is made, insist, they may compel, as one of the conditions of transfer, the local authority to give Cowper-Temple instruction just the same as it is given in the provided school.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I will read the exact language of the schedule, because I agree that Cowper-Temple instruction is a very elastic phrase. This is an undertaking which the trustees may exact from the local authority as one of the conditions of transfer—an undertaking—To provide such religious instruction as may be specified by the trustees and is in accordance with the London County Council's syllabus, contained in a Return at the order of the House of Lords, ordered to be printed on 19th June, 1906.That is a very familiar document. That is not all, and here I come to what I consider the real contrast between the right hon. Gentleman's method of dealing with this grievance and our method of dealing with it. Not only on the other two days of the week are the denomination to have the use of the building, maintained, repaired, warmed, cleaned, and lighted, for their own denominational purposes, but on the five days on which the school is being used by the local authority for the purpose of a public elementary school the managers and trustees may make it one of the conditions of transfer that another undertaking should be given that—perhaps I had better again read in the words of the Bill—an undertaking—To put the schoolhouse, properly cleaned, warmed, and lighted, at the disposal of the trustees for the purpose of being used by them or under their authority on Saturdays and Sundays, and for the giving of any religious instruction consistent with the trust deeds 1404 affecting the schoolhouses immediately before or after any meeting of the school. No teachers employed by the authority are to be permitted to give that instruction.So that am ole facilities may be required if the trustees desire it for giving religious instruction to the denomination immediately before or immediately after any of the hours of school on any of the five days in the week. Now I say that is. a liberal provision. The right hon. Gentleman tried to represent it as something in the nature of confiscation or high-handedness, but I say it is a liberal and generous provision on the part of the State, which takes over from the trustees, at its own expense, the whole burden of maintaining those buildings, which carries on at its own expense that part of the trust which relates to secular education, and which, so far as the remainder of the trust is concerned, gives the trustees the fullest possible facilities for performing the duties themselves. I am not afraid of the right hon. Gentleman's epithets. I venture to think that in the course of the next week, when the people of the country fairly and deliberately consider the provisions which we have made, they will say in the first place that we have carried out strictly and literally our pledge that where local contribution is made local control shall follow; secondly, that we have properly established one type and one type only of public elementary school, to which, henceforth, every child in the country shall have the right to resort, and except to which no child shall be compelled by law to go; and, finally, that we have recognised the continued existence of these voluntary schools, and that in all matters essential to the performance of their religious trusts we have treated them with consideration and even with generosity.
§ *Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD (Leicester)
In judging of the proposals of the Government much will depend upon the details of the Bill, and I hope that it will be in our hands in the course of a day or two. As to how far the Government proposals will carry out the principles enunciated this afternoon one prefers to wait until the Bill is in one's hands before entering upon criticism in detail. As to the increased financial aid to be given to the local authorities by the Treasury, that is a claim we have been making upon the Treasury for a 1405 good number of years. I am not quite sure whether the remark I heard made by an hon. friend when the right bon. Gentleman was detailing his scheme, that this extra financial aid will be a most admirable coating of sugar to the pill which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to administer by the other parts of his Bill, was right or not, but it will help the opponents of the proposals to swallow them. Nor am I sure whether another remark is true or not, namely, that a large number of parents consider finance of much more importance than religious instruction, but there is no doubt that the financial clauses of the Bill will be universally welcomed, and will be a great grant in aid of the other clauses of the Bill which, if allowed to stand alone, perhaps would not have been quite so acceptable to the people of the country. But on the general principle of the Bill I am not quite sure that I am so hopeful as the right hon. Gentleman. I know that the right hon. Gentleman was somewhat prophetical; he told us with a great deal of optimism, both in phrase and style, that he hoped his Bill was going to settle the religious difficulty. I listened with a great deal of expectation after that statement to find out what the Bill was going to be, and when I discovered that after all it was nothing—always leaving the financial clauses out of account—but an attempt to restore the ante-1902 condiditions, I wondered from what source his optimism came. Surely the right hon. Gentleman must have been aware when he was drafting his Bill that every objection which was taken by the denominationalists to the conditions which existed prior to 1902 will be taken to the conditions which are existing in 1909, if this Bill should become an Act of Parliament. There are two great classes in the community who will object to the Bill. First of all, there are the educationists who do not care very much about denominational instruction, and who say to all religious sects, "A plague on all your houses and your barren controversies about your religious difficulties." They will describe the Bill as a contracting-out Bill; they will regard these voluntary schools as schools to which a number of parents will send their children in spite of the inefficient education supplied by them, and they will, therefore, condemn these schools and they will not accept this Bill as in any way a solution of the educational 1406 problem they are trying so solve. The second section who will object to this Bill are the denominationalists. They are not a small section of the community. The denominationalists were the cause of the Bill of 1902 to which so many of us objected, and what hope is there that the opposition on the part of the parents who desire a voluntary school for their children and on the part of clergymen who desire to keep alive the agitation in favour of voluntary schools, will cease altogether? What hope is there that after 1908 the agitation will cease, and that we shall have heard the last of this abominable and disgraceful religious strife in a field where it ought not to be heard at all? The moment the Bill is passed, all the forces that started in 1873, which gathered in volume up to 1902, and were ultimately; successful for the time being in 1902, will begin to come into operation, and the teachers and managers, the child and the parent, indeed our whole educational system, will be open to the same attacks and to the same feverish excitement, and the same spirit of unsettlement as that which has gone on with such disaster during the past 100 years. There I come back to the position with which my hon. friends here are associated and with which the House is quite familiar. I regret, and a great many Members of this House will regret, that the Government has not boldly faced the secular solution. The right hon. Gentleman has once more replied to the secular position by saying that it is logical. It is very easy to reply when you create your own argument in order to knock it down. We do not stand by the secular solution simply because it is logical. It is logical undoubtedly, but I have yet to learn that it is a mark of inferiority, from the practical point of view, that politicians should occasionally trust to logic in the drafting of their measures and making their proposals. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to tell us that one of the qualifications of his Bill—one of the commendations Of his' Bill—is that it is an irrational and illogical measure; that it has got neither rhyme nor reason in it, and "that it is hot drafted for the purpose of being applied to the practical experience and to the educational difficulties of the country? If not, I wish to know why by simply calling it logical it is relegated to something in the impractical category? We 1407 are in favour of the secular solution because it is practical. There is no stronger evidence of the truth of our position than the admission the right hon. Gentleman's Bill makes regarding the single school districts. In a single school district every parent who desires denominational education is being forced to accept the secular solution. At the present moment in your single school districts you have your voluntary school attached, say, to the Church of England. That school has to be wrenched from the Church of England. The Chancellor of the Exchequer explained that the trustees may impose on the local authority as one of the conditions of the transfer that Cowper-Templeism may be taught at the schools, but many members of the Church of England extend their religious opposition to Cowper-Templeism on the ground that it is denominationalism. I know that the right hon. Gentleman repudiates that and says that is not his view, but he is not the parent of every child who attends all the rural schools. If you are going to take the parents' view of this matter you are going to do it in an objective way. It is not our business to tell the parents what they ought to regard as denominationalism or non-denominationalism. It is our business as the House of Commons to act as judges, to hear the evidence, and to accept the statements made by the parents. The statement made is that Cowper-Templeism is denominationalism. Therefore the transference from Church of England control of those endowed schools in single school areas is nothing but the transference of these schools from one kind of denominationalism to another. If the parents do not agree to that denominationalism they have got to withdraw their children from the religious instruction given in the schools, and are tempted to do so by offers of denominational instruction out of school hours. Therefore my statement is absolutely correct that the Government are offering as a practical solution under such circumstances the secular solution. What is the objection of the Government to applying this admirable solution of the religious difficulty in the single school areas to all other areas and so settling the matter? After the proposal which the Government have made, I hope they will never again say that the country is not ripe for secular education, because, whether 1408 ripe or not, they are imposing it on a large number of very worthy parents and offering them facilities for religious instruction out of school hours. The question is much larger. We are told about practical proposals. Does anyone who is aware of the history of education during the last hundred years, of the interminable squabbles, of the proposals made to establish popular education, and of the counter proposals that have been made, of the trouble between nonconformist and conformist reaching up to the present moment—does anyone who knows all that history mean to say that we have been going on practical lines? During these hundred years so far as the religious controversy is concerned, every proposal made, every experiment started, and every method of construction followed, has had to end as regards too many of them in disgrace, because the statesmen of the day did not face the religious problem in a logical and practical way. Here in the beginning of 1908, with a hundred years experience behind us the Government's practical solution is to establish a state of things which came to an end in 1902, because it was proved that it could not work in practical experience. I would very respectfully suggest to my right hon. friend that he should revise his meaning of the word "practical" in the light of facts and experience in educational matters for the last hundred years. I should also like to know whether we are now going to increase the Exchequer grant for voluntary schools and public schools alike. There is to be more public money spent on voluntary schools than was spent in 1902. I fail absolutely to see the difference between rate aid and Exchequer aid so far as public control is concerned. Let us take a supreme test. Are you going to allow voluntary school managers to appoint teachers on denominational tests? If so what becomes of the pledge given to the country that the teachers in the schools maintained by public money are not to be allowed to be submitted to denominational tests? I think that point is worthy of a fuller answer than that given to it by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I quite see the force of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, so far as the managers are concerned, but I am not prepared to waive the point in regard to the teachers. The 1409 teachers in the voluntary schools ought to be chosen just as they are in other schools—on account of their qualifications as teachers, and on these alone. The matter is left a little bit indefinite in my own mind; but perhaps before the debate closes we will have a further statement from the right hon. Gentleman. Are the teachers going to be appointed as prior to I 902, simply on denominational lines, and with denominational qualifications? If so, I ask, Is this an admission on the part of the Government that the parents have a right to get their children educated in their own denominational creeds-? Sometimes it seems to me as if that is the case, and sometimes that it is not. If it is, then what is the objection to the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone? If we are to have the parents consulted, why not consult them altogether and thoroughly? I am not quite sure whether the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone is going to move his Amendment, but if he is, is he going to accept the position that secularists and positivists are also to be allowed to have their children educated by the local education authority in the tenets of Auguste Comte or Charles Brad-laugh, or any other authorised exponent of secularism or positivism? Parental right carries you much further than you conceive. Surely, so far as Parliament is concerned, what we have got to do is to demand and insist on a higher standard of secular instruction. Is it true, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out, that you cannot dissociste secular education from faith in State education? It is perfectly true that you cannot teach the history of, say, Queen Mary on the same lines to Protestants and Catholics. In the one case that sovereign is called "Bloody Mary," and in the other "Saint Mary." If spiritual life transfuses itself through history, why do you go and cut off three-quarters of an hour in the morning from the regular school work to reading the Scriptures without proper explanation and without religious reverence? I do not propose to say anything about the details of the measure. When the Second Reading comes on, or better still, when the Bill is in Committee, will be time to consider these. At the present moment I desire to enter my protest against the assumption that by talking of this secular solution as being only logical you settle the education question for ever. I say that 1410 Ministers have yielded the main part of the secular solution in their proposals, regarding the single school areas; and if they are wise, before the Bill is printed they should take the opportunity of applying the same idea to districts that are not single-school areas.
§ MR. MASTERMAN (West Ham, N.)
With most of the hon. Members who have sat through the discussion I find myself filled with great admiration from what I have heard, combined with a feeling of disagreement with much that has been said from both sides of the House. I am so worried—most of us are so worried—by this long and squalid controversy; so convinced are we of the evil that it is doing to religious life; and so jealous of the time which is given to it which should be given to carrying out some scheme of social reform, that I for one would be prepared to accept almost any solution offered us so long as that solution followed on certain lines. It must make for educational efficiency, it must be on general terms, it must be liberal, it must have some reasonable chance of passing through both Houses of Parliament and of making some kind of peace in the country. I have been asking myself, as clause after clause has been so ably expounded by the right hon. Gentleman, how far this particular Bill could be said to conform to those particular tenets? I confess to agreement in part with the hon. Member for Leicester. I will say nothing for the moment of its chances of passing through both Houses of Parliament. Let me be quite clear on one point. An Education Bill is absolutely inevitable at this moment. Whether some of the largest changes in the Bill objected to by the Leader of the Opposition be valid or not, I am heart and soul with the Bill—I put aside the question of its drafting now—that the question' of the single-school areas is in a position which we cannot possibly leave in its present state. It must be dealt with as soon as possible. Everyone on this side of the House and a large number on the other side are agreed on that point, and if this Bill merely consisted of a fairly drastic provision for establishing a public elementary school which would be at the service of every child and every parent in England, I should not dream of offering opposition to it. I believe that is a principle which can be defended 1411 before any honest and impartial man, whatever his religious belief may be. It is a principle, however, which cannot prove a final solution of the education question, but it will afford a large interim measure of relief for a situation which at the present time in the villages of England is quite impossible. Let me point out a fallacy in the statement that was made two years ago by the Leader of the Opposition, as to the balance of injustice in the rural districts in regard to Church schools and Cowper-Temple schools. There are no Cowper-Temple schools in any rural district. Every school not under limitations must have six Church managers, and every teacher must be a churchman or churchwoman, and therefore such schools have the full denominational or Church management which is secured to schools privately managed at the present time. It is perfectly true that Cowper-Temple teaching can be given; but it is not the religious teaching in the rural schools that is the vital joint in this grievous controversy. It is the management of the schools. It is the accepting of public aid from all religious denominations combined with limitation of service to members of one denomination only. That is utterly indefensible and ought to be remedied as speedily as possible, and if this Bill set itself to remedy it, it might have been remedied if the Bill had contained nothing else. But the Bill contains another principle—the principle of contracting out. I remember in the long and dreary controversy of two years ago, the sudden appearance, well on in the Committee stage, after sixteen days discussion, of a clause bound round with a very peculiar and complete qualification, but which would have led, under certain difficulties, to a limited number of schools being passed under that system which is now offered. I remember the distrust with which that suggestion was received by the hon. Gentleman who was then my leader to a largo extent in the education controversy—the hon. Member for Camberwell. And that hon. Gentleman enlisted me in a kind of crusade against that particular clause. Although L had no capacity for imitating the violence of his invective, which hon. Members may study for them selves in the volumes of Hansard, I did my humble best to express a similar condemnation, which had nothing to do with 1412 the religious point of view, but entirely from the educational point of view, in regard to contracting out. I remember that the Minister in charge of the Bill, now Chief Secretary for Ireland, expressed himself as utterly ashamed of the clause, and how his contention was that the whole educational opinion of the country would resist the abandonment of perhaps the only good thing in the Act of 1902—that was the unification of the educational system under one education authority, whether elective board or municipal council. But here you have contracting out in its full essence. I shall be corrected by the Parliamentary Secretary if I am wrong, for I do not understand the whole provision of contracting out, but I understand that any manager of a denominational school may contract out so as long as he can get thirty parents to support him in doing so. But apparently there is no kind of poll as there was in the Bill of 1966 With regard to the grant, I do not object to the grant of 47s. a child if the educational efficiency of the school is to be maintained at the standard now prevailing in the non provided schools, which means that if your teachers are to be paid anything but starvation wages, that 47s. has to be supplemented by something between 10s. and 12s. and in some cases 16s. per child extra. What I want to ask is where is that money coming from? It means in quite small schools £400 or £500 a year, and we come back again to the system which we have heard denounced again and again in this House of supporting national education by the old-fashioned system of bazaars and jumble sales, and the unclean combination of jugglery and charity Are we to have any guarantee given to the teachers that this money will be spent? If we are to have no guarantee that the teachers shall be paid at the same rate as in the provided school, or that the same amount shall be paid per child as in the provided school, we go back to the position which, to a certain extent, we had before 1902, but with that position intensified by the educational advance that has been made since 1902, and all these unfortunate teachers will be offered the option of having lower salaries paid them or leaving the school and going elsewhere. That is not a position consistent with 1413 the demand of a Liberal Minister for educational efficiency. It is an abandonment in despair of the ideal of a unified educational system, in face of the rivalry of various religious bodies in this country. Although my words are useless, I do venture to ask very respectfully that, if any largo body of general opinion in this country, representing those men and women to whom the Minister for Education paid such a high tribute, and not too high, those who care for education in this particular province, express some grave disapprobation of these contracting out clauses, the right hon. Gentleman will see fit to withdraw them. There is the religious side of this question also. It has been put by the Leader of the Opposition very definitely. We definitely say to these people, "We provide an efficient state of national teaching and simple Christian teaching in all the schools "—a teaching against which I have never said anything; a teaching which I do not agree with the hon. Member for Leicester in deprecating; I think it is thoroughly admirable and desirable for the children—"but if you do not like that teaching" we say, "if you have even conscientious objections to that teaching, you may have your own teaching in other schools, but in those other schools your secular education shall be starved and impaired, and we will take good care that the utmost pressure is put upon you to squeeze you into our particular scheme of religious teaching." I do not think that that will be an efficient mode, because those particular classes who care, particularly the smaller bodies of Irish Catholics in big cities, are not going to be squeezed into simple Protestant teaching, even if it means the sacrifice of educational efficiency. But I do not want by this protest to lay great stress on that religious side; it is on the educational side I am making my protest to-day. I was told by an hon. Member that it was no use protesting against this, because some particular Church or another had been squared on the question. I do not care if every Church in Christendom has been squared on this question, unless we can have clearly placed before us in the provisions of the Bill a definite assertion that these non provided schools shall spend a similar amount per child and pay their teachers at a similar rate to the provided schools, I shall oppose this contracting out. I need not toll the 1414 Minister for Education, for he knows as well as I do, how much in addition to this 10s. or 12s. we stand to lose. All that we have been doing in the last five or six years stands to be lost by this separating of the schools, because we have been weaving them together so that pupils go to the cookery schools from provided and non-provided schools alike. The whole value of what we have been engaged in doing and have been encouraged to do during this five or six years is the bringing together of the two systems which are absolutely apart, because we believe that so much can be clone if these systems are brought together as far as possible. I notice that the Minister for Education alluded to to the Bill of the Chief Secretary for Ireland with very scanty support or enthusiasm on this side of the House, and said, I have no doubt sincerely, that it was a courageous and in many respects a satisfactory attempt to solve the question, and it was a disaster that it failed. I think it was a disaster that it failed. At the end I was an earnest supporter of it, though I had occasion, through the indulgence of the House, to make some criticisms upon it. It was very far indeed, however, from anything I desired as an ultimate settlement of the education question, but it did give that one point which we are not going to get in this Bill, that you obtained some form of popular control in every school and a similar amount guaranteed by the State, from whatever source, to be spent on every child, poor or rich, Catholic or Anglican or atheist, served by the national system of education. There is one other point which I think is worth considering in connection with this Bill. If it passes, in all our large and populous centres there will be a series of schools which will be protesting themselves to be starved schools, and yet will be guaranteed by the Board of Education as being efficient. The parents will be stirred up into believing that they are suffering from injustice. It is easy to contend that they are not suffering from an injustice if you say that they all ought to be in the popular central schools which you say are neutral in religious matters, and you can squeeze them into those schools; but so long as you are giving the peculiar aroma and flavour of what the Chief Secretary for Ireland called simple Protestant teaching in these schools, I do not see what right you have 1415 to squeeze the poorer Catholics or any other denomination into them. How is that situation to be faced when it passes from the controversy in this House to the country? At every by-election and general election in large towns the parents of the children in these starved schools and their friends will simply put one question, and this is the only question which will arouse their interest: "Will you vote for a fair contribution to our children as compared with the children in the schools for which we are rated outside our own denomination" I should like to ask some of my hon. friends who are not agreed with me, and for whose kindly attention I am grateful on this occasion, how are they prepared to answer that question when it passes from the comparatively calm debates in this House to the depths of political controversy outside? I may be told, and it is an easy retort, that nothing is easier then criticism, and nothing is harder than constructive policy. I have stated what might be regarded as affording a possibility of the only practical policy that I think is open under present conditions, and that is the provision of a public locally managed school within the reach of every parent who desires it in town or in country. I may go further, if I may, and be perfectly candid, and say that I think the proposals which the Minister of Education makes today with regard to the question of religious education in the village schools are the only proposals which are practicable under present conditions. I think that if what is called secular education, but what I call neutrality of the State, is to come, as it will come, the village schools are about the last places where the experiment should be tried. It is perfectly impossible to imagine, at least I have never found any conceivable method of imagining, that in the village schools, often with only one teacher, you can provide various forms of religious teaching, and as, after all, in every village in England the majority of those who object to what is called Cowper-Temple teaching, which is now known as the London County Council teaching, have always some representative who can give the children the religious teaching they desire, in or out of school hours, as the ease may be, I think it is probably only fair that the "residuum or modicum of religious teaching" which is laid down by the 1416 London County Council might justifiably be allowed for the local authority to administer to those who desire it, under a stringent conscience clause in the rural areas. That, I think, as an avowed advocate of secular education, although I desire not to quarrel with the Government more than is possible, is the only thing that can possibly be done under present circumstances. I think part of their proposal is an abandonment of educational efficiency in towns, and is foredoomed to failure; I can only hope that if it is withdrawn it will be withdrawn upon our own initiative, and that other people will not get the credit of destroying such a thing as that. For the rest I think we must wait until there ripens a public opinion, as there is a ripening among hundreds and thousands of people every week, towards an educational settlement which my right hon. friend the Minister of Education apparently regards with alarm, but which I view with the utmost satisfaction, and which every community with similar divisions and sentiments to ourselves throughout the civilised world has been compelled to adopt. The only practical solution is that we should confine ourselves to the administration of an efficient secular system of education, leaving it to the members of the Churches in conjunction with the parents of the children who desire it to say how much more instruction of a religious nature shall be given. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think, with some sympathy towards us, told us that we could have no secular system because religion was interwoven in the ordinary curriculum of every school. We acknowledge that, and I acknowledge it fully, but already the State recognises the distinction in the provision of the conscience clause under which the child of the atheist can withdraw himself from religious instruction, although apparently it may be biassed by passing through the other instruction. We do not want to avoid the influence of that. It will be a long day before the people of this country wish to avoid the religious instruction which children draw during their daily hours of teaching. That will continue in our secular system as it exists to-day in every Anglo-Saxon community in the world (cries of "No.") That is the result of my communications, and I believe it is true. Where the parents are religious and the teachers are religious their religion expresses itself, 1417 and is conveyed to the child even under a system where there are no religious tests. We shall, when the occasion arises, ask that small company which two years ago voted for the secular system, and any recruits who may be obtained, once more to declare themselves in favour of the solution which, I believe, to be comportable with religion, and the only solution which is just and fair.
§ LORD K. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
The House always listens to the speeches of the hon. Member with sympathy and interest, but I confess there are Members here who will, like myself, have some difficulty in appreciating the connection between the earlier parts of his speech with the vehement and eloquent advocacy of that which he calls the neutral solution in the latter part. He is prepared to accept that portion of the Government scheme which deals with the villages. He is prepared to accept the establishment and endowment of a religious teaching according to its acceptability to the London County Council. That seems to me to be an astonishing position for the hon. Gentleman to take up, who concludes by saying he desires to be neutral to all religions. I will not say much about the earlier solution at this moment. I do not believe it is within the sphere of practical politics at the present time, and I have never been able to see why its advocates regard it as more fair and more just than any other solution. It seems to me that in the secular solution you are favouring one portion of the population at the expense of the other. You are favouring a full education at the State expense for all those who do not desire a religious education, and you are not favouring a full education at the State expense for all those who do desire a religious education, and whether you regard this from the point of view of the Church or the point of view of the various sects you are wholly failing to hold the scales of justice even. This Bill, as I understand it, is fundamentally undenominational. All public elementary schools are to be subject to the Cowper-Temple clause. In addition to this there is the further condition that under no circumstances are steps to be taken to test the religious 1418 efficiency of the teacher who is to give the religious teaching of the London County Council. He may be a Mahomedan, or a Jew, or an atheist, yet he is to be entrusted with the London County Council syllabus without any test being applied to his fitness for the duty. The House should bear in mind the recent policy of the Government with regard to training colleges. The tendency of Ministers has been to discourage denominational training in the colleges, and incontestably we have to face a future where the teachers, in place of their being thoroughly well trained in some definite form of religion, will come to their work without having received any training of that kind. This Bill is more undenominational than anything that at present exists. But then the Chancellor of the Exchequer says: "Look at the generous facilities we have given in the single school areas." I venture to say that no one who has any real experience of practical work in education in those areas will dispute the statement that I now make, that those concessions are absolutely illusory. Consider what is being done. Denominational teaching is put into a category by itself, different from all other forms of teaching given in the school. It is not to be given in school hours, and the parents are therefore in a position to prevent their children attending; it is not to be given by the teacher on the staff, and the children are led to believe that it is a secondary and less important part of education. I need not discuss it. A syllabus of that kind will not be worse than useless, but it is really absolutely useless. That is in the rural schools. When we come to the urban schools there is the contracting out, and here I do not quite understand who is to settle whether the school is to be contracted out or not. Is it the managers or the trustees who are to contract out if thirty children attend the school I But there is another provision which appears to me to put the contracting out into a highly dangerous position. There is no security that this extra grant will be made from year to year. It all rests on the absolute ipse dixit of the existing Minister for Education. It is not in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said so himself. If I so 1419 understand him, he said it was not in the Bill, but was to be made by a Parliamentary grant. That being so, a Parliamentary grant may be withdrawn at any moment.
§ MR. McKENNA
I stated that it is not In the Bill as regards the grant for local education. It is in the Bill so far as the voluntary schools are concerned; it is in the usual Parliamentary language and states that the charge is not to exceed 47s. per child.
§ LORD R. CECIL
That makes all the difference because we know the light hon. Gentleman, is not slow to set aside Acts of Parliament, and we should like to see him very closely tied and bound before we trusted him in this matter; this is a purely undenominational Bill and the denominational concessions seem to be utterly futile. Let me say a word or two as to denominational instruction. I wish to ask hon. Members what they really conceive to be the object of religious instruction in the schools? I know it is a question I have no right to ask them, but is it that they wish to teach religion in the schools; and, if so, I venture to ask what they mean by religion? Many undenominationalists advocate other remedies from the point of view of what they conceive to be the real purpose of religious teaching, namely, morality. I do not wish to say a word against moral teaching, but moral teaching is not the same as religious teaching. The right hon. Gentleman received a deputation not very long ago, in reply to which he said he was in favour of simple Bible teaching, and that was his objection to the secular solution. Then he said that the teachers of the country were so familiar with the Bible as a text book for morals that they could not take the Bible from the schools. That was the reason the right hon. Gentleman gave. I believe that is a fundamental idea. I believe you can no more teach Christian morals without the Bible than you can get fruit from a tree without roots. But if you are going to teach religion do not deceive the people by sayirg to them, "We are going to give your children religious teaching" when you really mean to teach, them morals. The 1420 hon. Member for North West Ham spoke of the residuum of common Christianity.
§ LORD R. CECIL
I am sorry I had forgotten it was a quotation, but what is the residuum of common Christianity? Is that the Christianity approved by the London County Council? Common Christianity is a question upon which Christendom has disputed for centuries, and it is reserved for a few gentlemen elected to the London County Council in March last together with a few co-opted members to settle finally. I shall be very curious to hear what the Nonconformists say about that, because they reject a much less important document. The Apostles Creed is rejected by them as a proper statement of undenominational Christianity. [Cheers.] I am delighted to hear those cheers, because the hon. Member has in his mind no doubt what I have in mine. It appears that the Preston Education Authority, which had not had the opportunity of consulting the London County Council on the matter, had put its hand to a syllabus which was very offensive to the Nonconformists of the district, and a deputation waited on the right hon. Gentleman in respect to the matter. What was their objection? They say this: Our objections are not merely confined to the Creed—that is, the Apostles' Creed—but extend to any religious teaching as necessarily sectarian and dogmatic. Are we to believe that any teaching that is allowed by the London County Council is not sectarian or dogmatic, and that all sectarian and dogmatic teaching is confined to the Apostles' Creed? It appears to me that hon. Gentlemen who have expressed strong opinions will have some difficulty in reconciling their views to those of the right hon. Gentleman. The difficulty of finding out what is common Christianity is insuperable, and you do not simplify it by calling it simple Bible teaching. All denominations have consistently desired simple Bible teaching. I have no right to speak for Roman Catholics, but I think even they would say their religion is founded upon the Bible. I think a common saying among 1421 them is, "The Church to teach, the Bible to prove." The Church of England is absolute upon the matter. She says the Bible is the whole thing, the Bible contains all. Simple Bible teaching is what all denominations desire to give their children, but unfortunately for that great desire Christendom has never been agreed as to what simple Bible teaching is, and it is only the London County Council and the Gentlemen on the Ministerial Benches who really know. When we come to Bible criticism the difficulty is intensified. We have the Rationals in Germany and Mr. Campbell at the City Temple. They have found out what is the true essence of the Bible! How can you possibly arrive at an agreement between the German Rationals, who reject all that is miraculous in the Bible and the Roman Catholics who accept it I There is no real common denominator. It is a delusion of politicians to assume that there is a common denominator. Look, they say, at the last thirty-eight years. What is the foundation on which the favourable view of those thirty-eight years rest? The Cowper-Temple Clause. What is the real foundation for the belief that Cowper-Temple teaching has been a success? I am told that the parents have never objected. But they have never objected either to the denominational teaching. Only a very small number of parents of the children in the schools have objected. If you ask the managers you will find that the vast mass of the parents have never withdrawn their children from denominational schools. The truth is that the parents accept what the authority pleases to give them, not because the authority represents the parent; that is the kind of thing which would only deceive the House of Commons. Ask the parents in the villages whether the London County Council education represents any article of their faith. No; the truth is the parents who are not wealthy have no other resource open to them. They must take that or nothing. If they do not like to take the religious education which is given in the schools their only resource is to withdraw their children from religious education altogether. But they would rather have some religion than none. That is true. But to say they have objection to this 1422 particular form of religious teaching is-stating other than the fact. I wish to-call the attention of the House to the actual test in the result. The object of religious teaching is to produce religious men and women. Are the men and women of the present day, who have been exposed to this teaching, religious? Let me remind the House of the very interesting inquiry instituted by Mr. Charles Booth all through London by means of trained investigators as to the religious condition of the people. He found a certain amount of religion in what he calls the wealthy classes, and in what he calls the upper middle-classes. Even in the lower middle class there is some "scattered about." That is Mr. Booth's own phrase. But when he came to the working classes he says that they remain outside all religious. bodies. [An HON. MEMBER: What about the Roman Catholics?] He makes an exception with regard to the Roman Catholics, I admit. Now these are the-people who have been subjected to-Cowper-Temple teaching, so that when it is said that Cowper-Temple teaching has been for thirty-eight years a success it cannot have been tested by that standard. We say that the Cowper-Temple clause has been a success because a vast mass of people can read and write, and have derived a large amount of secular knowledge, but as a religious education it has not been at all a success.
§ LORD R. CECIL
I think it has, and I will tell the hon. Member why. There is a curious passage in Mr. Booth's book—I am sorry I have not the book with me—in which he says that the people who come up from the country are usually more religious than the people whom he finds in the towns. Now from the country they generally come from denominational schools, in the towns they are educated in the Cowper-Temple schools. I do not believe in this attempt to make a compromise between all religions. Whatever may be said as to a minimum wage, I believe the theory of a minimum religion to be thoroughly unsound. The truth is hon. Members are misled by treating religion as if it 1423 was an exact science. It is as though six artists were employed to draw each a picture of their conception of a man. It is quite true that a good deal would be found in the pictures so made that was common, but if any one tried to combine the six and regard the product as a true representation of man the only result would be a blurred and indistinct outline. I agree with the hon. Members for Leicester and North West Ham in so far as I agree that the only remedy is to teach no religion or all religions. In my argument, however, I reject the solution that you should teach no religion. I think you ought to teach the children the religion the parents desire them to be taught. I am not afraid of the dilemma in which the hon. Member for Leicester finds himself. He asks, would you teach Positivism? Certainly I would, if there were a certain number of persons who desired that it should be taught. I would not teach the religion of he Thues, but so long as the religions were moral and in accordance with the law, and I accept this fully, all religions should be taught equally by the State, and there should be no preference, privilege, or advantage given by the State to one religion more than to the others.
§ LORD R. CECIL
Certainly; but I cannot go into the details. The hon. Gentleman must not ask me to draw up an Education Bill at this moment. There is no difficulty in the matter. The hon. Member for Camberwell has used very strong language indeed on the subject. He says the only difficulty which presents itself to him is the practical difficulty. There is no practical difficulty in such a system. It is the system in vogue already in the workhouses and the industrial schools, and in Germany and Switzerland, and a number of other countries, and what is done in other countries and in some of our colonies is not impracticable in England. I have no desire to deal with it in detail, but I do desire to deal with one particular point. It is said that by dividing the children into pens you will create an infinite 1424 number of religious differences. I do not think the cause of religious difficulty is the exposing of our children to education in our particular faith. The causes of religious difficulties are endless. I believe that if all children were brought up to hold deeply the religion which they were taught, to be as good members as possible of the sections to which they belonged, much of the religious difficulty would be lost. I am quite sure that this Bill will never settle the education question. The only sound principle is to allow the parent to choose for his children the religious instruction that he prefers; and the attempt to offer—with an ingenuity not uncharacteristic of the right hon. Gentleman—a bribe to the local authorities to induce the parents to abandon their religious beliefs will certainly fail, and is not altogether creditable. Many Members certainly feel that the only solution is that which was recommended by the present Prime Minister, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the President of the Free Church Council in 1904; a solution which was founded on justice and equality for all religions is the only one which the House ought to consider on this occasion.
§ MR. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
I do not think it is at all necessary to deal with the somewhat controversial subject which the noble Lord has just been handling, because as practical people it must be evident that we cannot possibly provide for the teaching in elementary schools of the numerous diverse religions which are accepted in this country. This Bill, which has been so clearly explained by the Minister for Education, is certainly not a measure, as the noble Lord thinks, framed in the interests of Nonconformity. I remember the late Minister for Education, when he was speaking on the final disappearance of the Education Bill, on 20th December, 1906, told us that that Bill was not the measure which the country wished for, and that if the country had had its own way and the Government had brought in a measure meeting the wishes of the country it would have contained in it nothing of Clause 4 and very little of Clause 3. The Government had therefore been long engaged in passing through this House and endeavouring to get their supporters to accept a measure which 1425 they subsequently very frankly admitted, in two of its most controversial sections and perhaps its two most important sections, the country did not desire. The question we have now to put is this, "Does the present Bill fulfil the demands of the country." I think the Government have exercised an extremely wise discretion in postponing the discussion of this Bill until we have safely carried through this House the Licensing measure to be submitted on Thursday, because that will give the various organisations in the country, educational, religious, and political, an opportunity of carefully considering this Bill, the result of which must depend very much on the details which we have not got before us. We are told that the Government have endeavoured to draft this Bill, bearing constantly in mind two principles, first, the principle of public control of all elementary schools, and secondly, the relief of teachers from sectarian tests. It is extremely doubtful, apart altogether from the provisions of this Bill, whether the Act of 1902 does provide in its local education authority anything which in the rural districts can be styled popular control. We have only to go into the rural districts in such counties as, for example, Oxfordshire or Lincolnshire, and there you will find that the managers of the local council schools formerly board schools are not elected managers, and have not been elected by any sort of local authority. The majority of them are nominated. I had always hoped that the Liberal Government when it came into power would make some resolute and effective effort to repeal what we then stated in opposition we meant to repeal, namely, those unjust provisions sweeping out of existence the school boards which were acknowledged to be unjust by nearly all the leading members of our Party in the discussions on the Act of 1902. Even if this Bill be passed we shall never have really effective local control in either country or town, until we fall back on the constitution of those school boards which were so ruthlessly swept away in 1902. If we cannot accomplish that, then we ought to provide some machinery which will give, more especially in the rural districts, some sort of elected education authority with a local knowledge and complexion who will really be the managers of the schools. 1426 So that even if the provisions of this Bill, after full discussion by all our educational and religious organisations—and no doubt they will be subject to the closest possible scrutiny—be accepted, I do not think we have yet seen the end of some determined efforts which will be made by those organisations to secure real popular control. The hon. Member for North West Ham suggested that certain denominations had been squared by the Minister for Education. All I can say is that the Wesleyan Methodist Church has certainly not been squared. No attempt has been made to square them, and if made, it would never have succeeded. They are not in the market, and I do not believe any other denomination is in the market in the sense in which I am now speaking. Have you got in the provisions of this Bill effective popular control? I will come to that point in a moment. Take, first of all, the case of the village. I think that the provision for securing for the villagers, whether Nonconformist or Church of England, adequate provision for religious instruction on five days of the week, by means of Cowper-Temple religious instruction, is, notwithstanding all the noble Lord and his friends may say, practically accepted by the common sense of the people of the country, as shown by the growth of the school board schools before the Act of 1902. In the village I think the provision is ample. Two days a week, or rather one day a week in addition to Sunday for the dogmatic, ecclesiastical, and special theological training, which is thought to be necessary beyond Bible teaching for these small children, seems to me abundant, and indeed, if you will go into the schools of Lincolnshire, in my division, you will find that while there is a small minority—in many of them only 20 per cent. of the children in those village schools are the children of parents who are members of the Church of England—those parents have been perfectly content to accept the teaching of the Church of England, for the simple reason that that instruction in many of those Lincolnshire village schools has been given by the teacher and is the simple Bible teaching to which the noble Lord so much objects. I pass away now from those village schools and come to a very serious part of the Bill, namely, the course to be pursued in places whore there is more than one school. Out of 2,700,000 1427 places in the 11,000 Anglican schools of this country, probably 500,000 would represent the children in the single school parishes. I doubt whether more than 500,000 or 600,000 represent the schools in the single school areas where Cowper-Temple instruction with the facilities mentioned is proposed to be given. So that practically you have in the 5,000 or 6,000 schools of the Anglican Church in the towns of this country, the overwhelming mass of the children now being instructed in those schools. I do not myself believe that those schools will be closed, and I greatly doubt whether many of them will be materially affected in their finances, because, with all respect to my right hon. friend in front of me, he and his friends will not always be on that bench. The day will come—that is one reason why we should strive to act now with scrupulous fairness—for reprisals. This 47s. we are now giving to the denominational schools, to the Anglican schools, and the Wesleyan and British schools if they accept it, may by a stroke of the pen, by my right hon. friend's successor, be turned into 67s., or even a larger sum, and where are we then? My hon. friends opposite will be in clover, but where we shall be I do not know. It is perfectly clear that such administrative action might be taken by the successor of my right hon. friend. Where is the popular control in the case of these 2,000,000 scholars and these 5,000 or 6,000 schools which are permitted under this Bill to contract out? We are told that the buildings are to be kept up, that the standard of efficiency is to be maintained, and that they are to be allowed to charge 9d. per scholar in fees. There the popular control ends, because the teachers will be strictly sectarian teachers. Is it supposed that any one of those teachers, or even an assistant or pupil teacher in those schools, when they are I left in the undisturbed control of the Church of England, will be a Noncon-formist. Would they think of putting a Nonconformist into such a position [OPPOSITION cries of "Why not?".] I do not know why not, but I know that it is so already. Under the Bill of 1902 the head teacher cannot be a Nonconformist, and we know that in those schools, such posts, as well as all junior posts on the teaching staff, will be reserved 1428 for members of the Anglican Church. In that case what becomes of our profession that this Bill secures the absolute control of public authorities over all schools in the country, and that we are doing our level best to exempt all teachers from sectarian tests at present imposed upon them. Upon this point I am very much of the same opinion as the hon. Member for North West Ham, although I do not agree with him in his secular doubts and fears and prognostications. We are, I believe, a practical people, and I accept absolutely the position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the working classes of this country, and, in fact, a vast majority of all classes, do not wish to and will not have Bible teaching excluded from the ordinary curriculum of the elementary schools. I go further, and say that the populace of our country is satisfied that the teaching should be given by the teacher of the school, whom we trust, and we do not want any minister of religion, the priest, or the Anglican clergy to add in school hours any further doctrinal teaching to that simple Bible instruction which the teacher at present is perfectly qualified and willing to give. On those two grounds thoroughly approve of the provision made in the villages, which I think goes as far as any reasonable people require, and I believe it will be accepted by the village people, with the exception, probably, of the clergyman of the village and one or two of his friends. But I trust the Government will reconsider their Bill in regard to the town schools. Let me take, for example, the present grant of 47s. per head. That means a grant of £5,000,000 per annum to the Church of England. Take the Roman Catholics with 400,000 Church places in 1,100 schools. It means a grant of £940,000 or £900,000 per annum to the Roman Catholic Church for the education of their children subject to no popular control. And so I might go through the different religious denominations. I do not think it is sound policy, as the country is to provide these huge sums for educational work in the denominational schools, to be content with that small modicum of control which has been described in the Bill. We ought to secure some control in the appointment of teachers and their relief from those sectarian tests to which we so very strongly object. This Bill will 1429 doubtless be carefully considered by the great religious organisations and educational institutions of the country, and notably by the teachers. My hon. friend the Member for West Ham generously refrained from recalling the attention of the House to the extremely strong remarks made by the hon. Member for Camberwell in reference to this proposition two years ago. They have lost nothing of their strength by the lapse of time. I feel that the Bill in one of its main features does not meet the reasonable requirement of Nonconformists, and that it does not adequately fulfil, so far as the contracting out provisions are concerned, the two distinct pledges our leaders and our Party gave, namely, to insure popular control and to secure for teachers freedom from tests.
§ *Mr. BUTCHER (Cambridge University)
In the remarks I shall venture to address to the House I shall follow a line rather different from that of any of the hon. Gentlemen who have preceded me. I cannot candidly say that I feel any irreconcilable objection to the principle of the Bill. I remember, indeed, as other hon. Members do, certain speeches made in this House in 1906 by the educational advisers of the Government on the subject of "contracting out." The Member for North Camberwell at that time, speaking on an Amendment embodying the principle of "contracting out," said that it was—The most vicious and reactionary proposal they were likely to hear of in the course of the debates…It was retrograde and pusillanimous to the last degree…They were asked back to the vicious principle of Parliamentary grants and voluntary subscriptions.I do not subscribe entirely to that remark, but I do think that if applied under certain conditions the principle would be reactionary in the educational sense in the very highest degree. But what I am anxious to find out—quite honestly anxious, because as much as anyone I do desire to see an end to this unfortunate controversy—is whether the present Bill contains such objectionable features as would make anybody who cares for education reject it in the sense that the hon. Member for Camberwell rejected that Amendment. If I were of a cynical turn of mind I should probably say that the Government which in 1906 foresaw the ruinous effects of such a proposal 1430 on the education given in the Church schools are now consciously putting this scheme before the country as an attack upon the Church of England. Yet although we have good ground for doubt and mistrust in the previous conduct of the Education Department in its administrative orders, and although political ends rather than educational aims are there apparent, yet I cannot bring myself to believe that when the Government as a whole brings forward an Education Bill, knowing all that hinges on it through the country, they wish to offer us not a settlement, but a mockery.
I will examine the Bill so far as we know it from that point of view. What should like to mike sure of is this. I wish in the first place to know how the voluntary schools are affected on the financial side. Are the terms offered starvation terms? Does it mean that these schools are to drag out a poverty I stricken existence and finally the of inanition? And when I speak of the schools I am thinking not of the schools in the abstract, bur, of the children who in this and the next generation will be educated there. Are these children to receive a wholly inferior education to the other children of the country? Are the teachers to be worse paid? Are those who cling with earnestness to their distinctive religious beliefs to suffer as citizens on that account? If it is true what the Government spokesmen said in 1906, that a return to the condition of things before 1902 would involve all these results, then I should like to ask the Government, do they really believe that the addition of a 4s. or 6s. grant will avert that disaster? We shall hear I much more about this afterwards, but at present I cannot conceive it possible that so small an addition to the grant will make the whole difference between a well-equipped school and one that is educationally retrograde. That, however, is a question of amount, and does not affect the principle of the Bill. I now turn from finance to take another point, I should like to be assured that the voluntary schools under this Bill will not be put outside the whole national system of education; that they will not be cut off from the main stream of educational progress and fall back into some educational backwater. What is in my mind is this; Will the children 1431 who go to these schools be able to make their way on to the secondary schools and higher grade schools? Will they be eligible for the scholarships given by the local authority? Will they receive the benefits of the new medical examination? I now gather from the Minister of Education that that is so; and if so I own it would relieve my mind of some very serious objections. If the children at these schools are not to be debarred access to civic privileges they would otherwise enjoy, I cannot raise an absolute objection on that score to the Bill. I pass to another point. Are the teachers in voluntary schools to be cut off from promotion? Are they to be tabooed and under a ban of exclusion so that they cannot pass on to other schools? Are they to be free to use pupil-teacher centres? If the teachers are placed on a lower professional level than all the other teachers in the country, that must bring down the schools to a similar level. I hope and trust that is not so. There are certain other conditions which might become so onerous that the schools could not maintain a healthy and normal existence; as, for instance, if the standard of equipment—fittings, structural fabric and so forth—were put impossibly high. I am all in favour of putting as high as you like the requirements for health, air, light, and decency. But I am certain that people think far too much of the material fabric and of costly externals as compared with the human instruments who work inside the schools. If you insist on an unreasonable standard in things external, you will so far lower the salaries of the teachers, and the quality of their teaching. I will make only a passing reference to another point, because it was fully dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition, namely, as to what constitutes an alternative school. The power of "contracting out" is to be given where there is a choice of schools. What does a choice of schools mean? Must there be a second school within 200 yards? Clearly that would reduce it to an absurdity. But there is one question which has not yet been touched, and that is how far this principle of "contracting out" will be applicable to new schools. May the denominations build new schools which will be recognised in the same way as existing schools I The Minister of Education seems again to assent to that, and I welcome that assent. 1432 Further I desire to know whether an existing single school area is to be stereotyped for all time.
§ *MR. BUTCHER
I gather it is to be stereotyped; and I regard it as a very important matter when we take into account the shiftings of population,—the increase in some places, and the decrease in others—the growth of a Church of England or of a Roman Catholic population and so on; and it seems to me in the highest degree unstatesman-like to say that we must not provide for the case of rural areas becoming urban by the extension of towns into neighbouring districts. Why should the conditions of today be the standard for all time? Surely we need the power of adapting educational arrangements to new needs as they arise. Well, I have, so far spoken of urban areas and the power of "contractingout," and I am of opinion that the principle if worked the rally along the lines suggested might prove to be not indeed an ideal solution, but a workable solution, the second or third best, which might continue for a considerable number of years. But when we come to the single school areas, the rural parishes, there is to be no "contracting out." Here in my opinion, there is much graver objection to be taken to the proposals. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has indeed mentioned two conditions attached to the transference of voluntary schools which in some degree mitigate the hardships of the plan. First he told us that the managers may make it a condition of transfer that there still be Cowper-Temple teaching in the fullest sense that the Act of 1870 admits of. That is to say, that we may secure in these schools a Cowper-Temple teaching that can with reasonable certainty be called Christian teaching. To me, at least that makes a very great difference. I cannot speak of Cowper-Temple teaching with the contempt I have sometimes heard it spoken of. Cowper - Temple teaching is the vaguest of all phrases. It may mean anything from that historical or ethical teaching which alone some of the churches would admit, up to the highest teaching that can be given to children on such 1433 difficult questions as the cardinal truths of the Christian religion. Cowper-Temple teaching, though it could not be taken as a satisfactory basis for forming a Church, may be, and often is, a satisfactory basis for the teaching of children. That is a concession of some value. The other is that facilities are to be granted in the transferred schools in the country districts for teaching, every day in the week either before or after school hours, the distinctive doctrines of the Church, though that teaching may not be given by the ordinary school teacher. Of course, the proposal to oust the school teacher from this religious teaching, and also the proposal to place it outside school hours, is profoundly unsatisfactory. But I cannot say that I look upon the arrangement for single school areas as being beyond the hope of compromise. I would suggest by way of strengthening Cowper-Temple teaching and making it what it is intended to be, that provision should be made for the inspection of this teaching so ensuring its Christian character. Otherwise it is extremely likely to become a mere form. Now I do not intend to occupy any more of the time of the House, but only to say that I can see no reason why distinctively religious teaching should be forced to mean retrograde education, a lower level of school efficiency. Those who lay most stress upon religion as the basis of character, and therefore the basis of education, are not content to be put off with an inferior type of school. Strong religious convictions on the part of parents ought not to carry with it civic disabilities for the children. Training in religion ought to be compatible with a full training in citizenship. It is a cruel alternative to say to people, that they must either give up their religious principles or sacrifice the secular welfare and improvement of their children. Therefore, I hope that the Government may so modify the Bill as to remove these objections, which I think strike very deeply into the heart of the Bill, and make it a measure which can be accepted by the House and by the country.
§ SIR ALFRED THOMAS (Glamorganshire, E.)
I congratulate my right hon. 1434 friend upon the introduction of a very important measure. It is certainly a bold attempt and very much in advance of anything yet presented to Parliament. I wish the right hon. Gentleman had been more satisfactory in regard to that part of his measure which referred to the country schools. But I confess I do not sea how he could have done more than he has done. His proposal is very generous indeed. Those gentlemen who want the luxury of appointing their own teachers ought to be prepared to make some sacrifice if they wish to carry out their religious convictions and pay for it. I know that Nonconformists are prepared to make sacrifices and pay to carry out their wishes. If Churchmen do not do the same they are not worthy of the professions they make. What has been said with regard to the single school area will give great satisfaction down in the country. I have seen a good deal of proselytising. The Church thinks it is her duty to make as many converts as. possible. I am very glad indeed to think that that grievance of Nonconformists will be removed. Personally, the Bill does not meet my convictions, but it is a good attempt to find some kind of solution. I trust that if it is carried out it will end the religious controversy which has been so inimical to religion than which there is nothing worse. It is an important measure and makes for something like a complete settlement.
§ MR. ACLAND (Yorkshire, Richmond)
I think the attitude of those who disagree with us about this Bill is that they will say: "Why will you try to force another Education Bill through Parliament; why should you stir up religious strife, and throw the whole country into religious animosity in the hope that thereby peace will ultimately emerge?" It is said: "Why are you not content to leave things as they are? Things are fairly peaceful now and there is every chance of some educational arrangement coming to pass. Leave things alone, do not throw us into a turmoil again." The answer I would make to that criticism is, that things are not in a satisfactory position now. There is not in the position now anything of the kind. There is very little chance of educational progress. 1435 There are many hon. Members who are anxious for a large number of reforms of the internal economy and efficiency of the school, methods of teaching, and looking after the children, but my hon. friends who are really concerned in education have no chance all. As long as things go on as they are, we shall continue for year after year to talk about this religious difficulty, and education will be left out in the cold. I think those of us who approved of the Bill of 1906, which was wrecked, are bound to try again in the direction of educational progress. I know that contracting out is not education. I think it is a pity that any school should receive less than any other school from public sources, for fear that by receiving less it may become less efficient than it otherwise would be; but when I hear hon. Gentlemen opposite and particularly the Leader of the Opposition, talk about our having adopted this system of contracting out I am nearly filled with despair. It seems to me that according to hon. Gentlemen opposite we can do nothing right, and that any course we adopt, whatever it may be, is certain to be wrong. Last year saw our failure in the House of Lords to make all schools come under some uniform system, but the right hon. Gentleman would not have that. Then we heard from him and his friends that the important thing in a school was the atmosphere. We heard about the splendid work that could be done, provided there was a religious atmosphere under private management, and a system of appointing teachers under this private management. We constantly heard how much could be done in schools conducted in that way, even if they did not get the same amount of grant, the same amount of public control and looking after, as there were in the case of the other schools. Now that we have been perhaps persuaded of this by means of the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman, now, when we say that any school that does not happen to be the only available, may do as it likes and preserve its atmosphere and will be given a very adequate grant, provided that those who wish to support it have any generosity, when we say in effect that this atmosphere on which 1436 so much stress was laid two years ago shall be preservable, then the right hon. Gentleman turns to the House and says the important thing is not atmosphere but public control. You must, he says, have all the schools under the same system. It therefore does not seem possible to arrive at anything which will please him, and in consequence his criticisms do not seem particularly helpful. Surely the guiding principle in considering this Bill—and I think perhaps the hon. Member for Louth need not be reminded of that—is to realise that we have tried this thing before, and that, whether it be our misfortune or our fault, we have failed to get the solution by which we tried to settle it before. We are bound now, if we want to have any chance of getting on with education, to try some other alternative and surely the only other alternative the hon. Gentleman can accept is that presented to us to-day. I do not think the danger to education of contracting out will be quite as great as is represented. It seems to be thought that every school which is allowed to contract out will do so, but the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill made it clear that these denominational schools which may contract out will have every inducement offered to them not to do so; they will be able to make their own terms; they will be able to ask for rent and facilities, and they may be allowed to ask for a good deal in return for coming into the educational system; and, I cannot help thinking that if this Bill passes and when things settle down, we shall find a very large number of denominational schools will come into the public system and under public control, receiving in exchange such advantages in the matter of rent and facilities as they agree to ask for and as it would be reasonable for us to give them. Another thing that the Leader of the Opposition said which really astounded me was that the Bill showed no desire whatever to meet the case of those parents who wished for denominnational teaching to be given to their children. I think that is a statement worth looking into rather carefully, whether you take the single school areas or the urban school areas. If we take 1437 the single-school areas, what is it we are saying to the trustees of these denominational schools existing in them? In return for the bricks and mortar which they largely provided twenty or thirty or longer years ago, but which in many cases were partly provided out of State grants and not altogether out of subscriptions, we are going to offer to them, as long as there is a teachable population in that place, a room properly furnished, warmed, equipped, lighted and cleaned for their sole use on every Saturday and Sunday, from year's end to year's end, and on week days except between nine o'clock in the morning and half-past three in the afternoon. I think that is a most extravagantly generous offer. We shall not ask from these persons one single farthing, while we give them the use of the building for the remainder of the time, and as long as time continues we shall provide for that denomination a Sunday school, an evening school, and a school for their special teaching without its costing them one single penny out of their pockets. It seems to me, when that is really considered, to be most extraordinary that any man should say that we have shown no desire to meet fully the case of those who wish denominational teaching. Then we may consider the case of the urban area. That is different, but there again there seems to me to be a great deal of generosity. As I have said and as the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill said, there will be every desire to treat fairly the denominational schools which do transfer. They will be able to make their own arrangements with the authority as to facilities; and that being so, there will be plenty of public money coming to them, and opportunities given to them to maintain and to assist them in teaching the doctrines by which they set so much store. But to take the case of schools which prefer to remain outside the system and who contract out: what will their position be? Now, if I did not mishear what was said when the Bill was introduced, these schools will be receiving per child per annum a considerably larger grant than will be spent on the child in the provided school per annum. I will give the short facts which lead me to that conclusion. I think a figure was 1438 taken which was the total cost of education at present, to that was added £1,400,000 as a total of the new grant, that was divided by the number of children in average attendance and the result was 47s., and that is to be the sum to be paid to the contracted out school for the maintenance of the school alone. Now it struck me that this 47s. in the case of the provided school at present includes a considerable number of things which will not have to be included in the 47s. to be given to the children in the contracted out schools. I think so far as I can understand, for instance, that that 47s. would in the provided schools include a share of such things as the cost of attendance officers, even the administration of the schools by the central county office, and so on. If that be so, the cost, which is actually paid out of the taxes towards the education of children in provided schools must be considerably less than 47s., because it needs the administrative expenses and the cost of attendance officers to make up that 47s.; but in the non-provided schools they will have the 47s. to start with and they will not have to bear any share of the cost of attendance officers or administration.
§ MR. MASTERMAN
was understood to ask the President of the Board of Education whether this was the case.
§ MR. McKENNA
It is perfectly true that the voluntary schools will have less to spend their money on. They will not have to pay for the attendance officers, but they will have the same grant as on the average the local authorities receive.
§ MR. ACLAND
That is my point, but the right hon. Gentleman pat it more clearly than I did. The voluntary schools will have less to pay out of their 47s. than the management of the provided 1439 schools. Therefore the money will go further in their case. That is a point which is worth considering, and I think it goes to show that there is no desire to despoil the schools of the money which is considered necessary to enable them to keep up to an efficient standard. The point was made that this Bill is designed as an attack upon the Church of England. I should be surprised if that charge made by the Leader of the Opposition had been repeated by his supporters, because it must be recognised that it is not an artificial rule but a natural rule that is now being made, that there must be an elementary school within the reach of even' parent if the parent desires to have it for his child. It is an accident, an unfortunate accident for the Church perhaps, and not an act of deliberate malice, that the Church schools are in districts with regard to which we are obliged to make this arbitrary rule. We have no desire to cut out the Church schools, but we say there must be publicly controlled schools in reach of all the parents. That is the result of the necessities of the case. One must admit, although I think these schools, both in the towns and in the country will be found to be dealt with in a fair and generous way, that the offer made now is less good from the point of view of the Church than the offer which was made two years ago. It is the case of the Sibylline Books. We came two years ago offering a great many things. That offer was refused, and we are now offering something less. What we offered then was the cheque of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Now we offer full facilities for denominational teaching. We say that the school shall be available after the ordinary school hours every day and on Saturday and Sunday, and that is considered sufficient to carry out the denominational side of the trust. I have one or two questions which I will venture to put to the right hon. Gentleman which he will cause to be answered to-night if he thinks proper. It is not quite clear to my mind whether matters have been so arranged in the Bill as to avoid controversy upon "may" and "shall." I was not sure from the right hon. Gentleman's speech whether local authorities are to be compelled, or permitted, to give these 1440 facilities. I do not know how far the right hon. Gentleman thinks he can go in requiring these facilities, to guarantee that Bible-teaching shall be given. If it is simply the case that the local authority "may" in exchange for the transfer of the school grant these things it is only fair that it shot Id be strengthened in that respect. It is only fair that every school which is compelled to be transferred, as is the case in every single school area, should be guaranteed the continuation of the Cowper - Temple Clause.
§ MR. ACLAND
I am very glad to hear that answer from the right hon. Gentleman, and I am sure it will be considered by the vast majority of the people as very satisfactory. That is a thing that will be properly appreciated. Another question which will be familiar to the right hon. Gentleman is what will happen in the case of the non-trust schools in single school areas. I speak with some diffidence on this point, but I believe I am right in saying that of the present voluntary schools some 9,000 are under what the right hon. Gentleman calls tight trusts, namely, strictly educational trusts; but at the other end of the table there are some 2,700, which are definitely declared to be private schools, but which are not under any trust. May I assume that in the case of those schools the Bill will also require those to be transferred, and if so, may I conclude that it will be left to the private owners to make what arrangements they can, as to facilities, between themselves and the local authorities; because they will be in rather a stronger position. The managers are not compelled to keep on the school, as is the case with the trust schools, and they will be able to say: "If you do not treat us properly we will close our schools, and you will have to build another." The local authority will not be able to say "We will build our school," because no money is provided for that purpose by this Bill, no provision is made for the building of schools in single-school areas. With regard to the general question of building new schools, I trust when we see the Bill we shall 1441 find that the cost is to be spread over the whole county and is not to be allowed to remain an almost intolerable burden on the particular parish in which a school is built. Another matter to which I wish to allude is the difficult question of endowments. That was not mentioned in the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I hope in this Bill it will be possible to avoid dealing with this vexed and complicated question. But there is one side of it that must give a good deal of hope to the supporters of "voluntary schools. In many cases there are endowments for voluntary schools, and one of the first things which have to be provided for is the upkeep of the fabric. Clearly, if these schools are taken over, the money which is put aside for the proper upkeep of the fabric will not be needed for the purpose. All the repairs, external and internal, all the improvements or additions to the fabric, will be paid for out of public funds; and therefore the endowment money which has had to be accumulated for repairs of the fabric and for playgrounds, and so on, since 1902, should now be diverted to strictly denominational purposes instead of bricks and mortar. If the Board of Education deal with this matter in that way, as I think ought to be the case, a good deal more money will be available for denominational teaching. Then there is the case of definite religious instruction. In the Bill of 1906 all religious instruction was to be out of school hours. That question was hardly debated. I believe the opposite idea is the better. I believe that such religious instruction as is provided by the authority under the Cowper-Temple Clause should be compulsory and should be in school time, subject, of course, to a conscience clause. I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman can tell me how that will be.
§ MR. ACLAND
Then do I understand that what we call the Anson Bye-law is to be in force—and that children should be allowed to stay away altogether if it is understood that they are receiving religious instruction at some other place.
§ MR. McKENNA
There is no change in the existing law. Whatever the existing law is it is still maintained.
§ MR. ACLAND
That again is good news. My concluding remark is as to the secular system. People talk of the secular system as if it were a thing that required a great mass of fresh legislation. I have heard Members in this House speak of it as if local education authorities could not adopt a secular system without fresh legislation. Surely it cannot be too clearly understood that every local authority in this country can establish a secular school system in all its schools to morrow by the vote of a mere majority of the council. But they do not do it. With some exceptions it is not considered a matter of importance, and it is not a question upon which the local authorities are elected. But the moment a majority of a local authority want it altered they can alter that system at once. Surely, therefore, the argument of those who urge that there is further necessity for reversing the present system cannot carry much weight. The people now have the power to do it if they wish, and surely we ought to trust them to make the alteration if they so desire or to keep the present system if they prefer to do so. I have great pleasure in giving my support to this Bill because I believe it is the only alternative left to us when the Bill of 1906 was destroyed.
§ MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
When the right hon. Gentleman introduced this Bill this afternoon some of us thought he was going to bring forward a conciliatory measure, but very early in his speech it became apparent that the scheme he was bringing forward was much more drastic than that of two years ago. This scheme is much less favourable to the voluntary schools than the Bill of 1906. Perhaps I may be allowed to draw attention to the speech the right hon. Gentleman made last summer on 1st July, and reported in the Western Mail—He would not tell them what his Bill would be, but it would be one which would make the Lords regret that they did not accept Mr. Birrell's measure. The Government went to the Lords with a peace offering in their hands, but the next time they went it would be with a sword.The right hon. Gentleman compares the Bill of two years ago with this one as a peace offering compared with, a sword. We thought the Bill two years 1443 ago was drastic enough, but this one is far more drastic and, in my opinion, practically means the extinction of the voluntary schools of this country. May I for one moment remind the House of the history of this question? Up to 1870 the children of this country were educated entirely by these voluntary schools, built up with private funds for the benefit of the children's religion and their secular education as well. The population of the country went on increasing to such an extent, owing to the increase of trade, that in 1870 the Government of the day had to bring forward a measure to provide extra accommodation for the education of the children, and also to make education compulsory; but what was their scheme? Their scheme was not to extinguish the voluntary schools, but utilise and develop that system of voluntary education, and of only supplanting it where it was not sufficiently wide-spread. Even in the Act itself this is given as the reason. In Section 7 it says—Where there is an insufficient amount of accommodation the deficiency shall be supplied.And Mr. Forster said in his speech at the time—There must be the utmost endeavour not to injure existing and efficient schools. Our object is to complete the voluntary system.On the faith of these representations, one of them in the Statute itself, one of them from the words of the Minister who brought forward the Bill, the voluntary schools have increased from 1870 to 1906, from 8,281 to 14,294. Is it fair to bring forward a Bill, which, after those promises have been made, will practically close the doors of those schools? It is unfair both to the people who built those schools and subscribed to them, and to the parents who are sending their children to be educated in them. As I say, this Bill is more drastic than the one of two years ago. That Bill was one which still gave certain facilities for religious education. We thought them illusory, but still there they were. Another place amended that Bill with the object of making those facilities real and workable. What did the Government do? They did not even consider those Amendments, but took them en bloc, and sent them 1444 back to the other House. We thought we knew the reason for their action at the time. It was because that Bill did not really give satisfaction to any section of the people or of their own followers. But what does this Bill do in single school areas? It compulsorily takes the village schools without payment, without any payment of rent even. True, they say they will maintain them and keep them efficient, and they will give the trustees leave to have distinctive religious teaching on five days in the week when the school is open, but that lesson must not be given by the teachers and it must be out of school hours. We know what that means, and the right hon. Gentleman knows what it means. It means that it is a sham, and that there will be no distinctive religious teaching at all in those schools. Then he goes on to say that he will give them Saturday and Sunday. We all know what Saturday means. It is a holiday. Children will not go to school on Saturday, though on Sunday they have Sunday school. Therefore, as far as these single-school area schools go, it is practically taking them away from their present managers and owners, and the children who use them and their parents, and handing them over to the local authority without the payment of a penny. Now I come to the urban districts. The right hon. Gentleman says they may contract out and go back to the status quo ante 1902, but he volunteers to give them some extra provision from the Government grant, varying from 4s. to 6s. That is not adequate. As the Leader of the Opposition said, it means starvation. It means going back to that period before 1902 when these schools were struggling, and when their struggles were the reason why the right hon. Gentleman brought forward his Bill. That was the bottom of the Bill of 1902, to try to rescue these schools which were educating 3,500,000 out of the 5,000,000 children of the country and to save them for education and religion. The right hon. Gentleman wants to go back to that time, to continue the starvation process, and to let these schools gradually go bankrupt one by one. I hope it is not his reason, but it is apparently his reason, and we beseech him to reconsider his decision before it is too late. Why cannot you leave things 1445 as they are? Where the Act of 1902 has had fair play and a fair chance, it has acted extremely well. It is acting extremely well in Sheffield. The right hon. Gentleman knows that Sheffield was one of the first cities to take up the machinery offered by the Act of 1902, and the result has been most beneficial. The education of the city has been coordinated in a marvellous way. We have now a very excellent high grammar school, a secondary school, and a training college for teachers, and the whole system has been coordinated by the co-operation of both political parties. Both parties in the city made up their minds that they would use the Act as far as possible for the benefit of education, leaving the religious question to take care of itself. That is the position. The Report of the Education Committee for 1906 stated that—Cordial relations have been maintained between the Committee and the managers of the non-provided schools, and the result of hearty co-operation has been decidedly beneficial to the general interests of education. Various and somewhat difficult matters of administration had to be dealt with, but a spirit of conciliation has done much to smooth the way to a satisfactory settlement.I am very thankful that that state of things exists, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to allow it to go on; but I am afraid, if this Bill should pass into law, as I have not much fear that it will after what another place did with regard to a less drastic measure, that the result will be to disturb the satisfactory state of things which exist at the present time. When I ask what is the so-called Nonconformist grievance, the two reasons given by the right hon. Gentleman are that there must be full public control and no tests for teachers. May I for a moment test these two things? Under the Act of 1902 have not we full public control? The managers of the voluntary schools cannot spend a penny without the sanction of the local authority. They cannot fix what the teachers should receive as salary without the consent of the local authority. If they spend any extra money they have to provide it out of their own pockets. The only thing over which the local authority have not public control is the appointment of teachers. I quite admit that. But that is part of the, machinery 1446 of the Act of 1902 in order to continue these schools as religious schools. The local authority has a veto on educational grounds, and that is perfectly right, but only on educational grounds. Our Leader, then Prime Minister, said that, if any other machinery could be suggested by which teachers could be provided competent to give the instruction of the religious persuasion for which the school was founded, he was quite ready and willing to accept it. But this was part of the machinery and was only made for that object. The other thing is that Nonconformists say that they are at the present moment subscribing money to pay for the teaching of religion in which they do not believe. Is that so? They have the whole of these voluntary schools provided for them at the present moment without paying a penny of rent or having to maintain the schools in efficient repair. The calculation is that the annual value which the State gets in that way is something like £750,000. The proportion of the teacher's salary which he receives for the small part of his time which he devotes to distinctive religious teaching does not come to anything like £750,000. I believe it is well under £200,000. If that is so, voluntary schools at the present moment are making a present to the State of over half a million a year. And under this Bill the right hon. Gentleman is to put upon the taxpayers of the country a burden of at least £1,400,000 in order to carry out the machinery. I cannot think the right hon. Gentleman expects this Bill to be passed. We are going to be occupied I am afraid, many days and perhaps many nights under the guillotine this session, but what one feels is that it is all sham and all for nothing, because we know, and the right, hon. Gentleman knows, that the Bill cannot become law. Our point is this, that under the present law of 1902, where that Act has had fair play, it has had in the city that I have mentioned, it has succeeded and is succeeding in carrying out the objects which the Government had in view.
§ *MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
There are in the Bill several points which command the approval of the House and of educationists throughout the country. So far as the Bill proposes to 1447 extend the area and degree of local public control over public elementary schools it is commendable, and so far as it frees schools from sectarian tests it deserves the approval of the House and the country as a whole. There is also a very considerable Exchequer grant. It is a great thing to find the Government proposing to spend from central sources and not from local rates, a sum of £1,400,000 at a time when owing to the unsatisfactory incidence of taxation the burden of local rates is very heavy indeed. No doubt this additional grant-in-aid will relieve that burden in places where relief is deserved. The additional grant-in-aid is not to exceed 75 per cent. of the expenditure upon the school, and that is a condition which will encourage a proper local expenditure. On all those points, in my opinion, the Bill will receive general approval throughout the land. In regard to the part of the Bill which deals with rural parochial areas in which there is only one school, I think the Bill sets up in those areas public elementary schools in the place of the denominational schools on very fair terms indeed. It allows in those schools either before or after school hours specific religious instruction which the parents of some of the children require, in return for the use of the building for five days a week as a public elementary school. It places also the use of the building at the disposal of the denomination for parochial purposes on the Saturday and the Sunday. That seems a very fair bargain, and my great regret is that the Government have not proposed to carry that system over the whole of the country. I cannot, however, give my support to that part of the Bill which deals with contracting out. I object to a proposal which makes it possible for several thousands of the schools to slip back, go back, be pushed back, into the condition of things which existed, educationally, before the operation of the Act of 1902. I know that my right hon. friend proposes to set up safeguards which he thinks will diminish this tendency, but he did not tell us the exact machinery whereby the wishes of the parents were to be ascertained on this question. The right hon. Gentleman said that one condition to be applied to a school being contracted out of 1448 this Bill by the trustees who own the school buildings was the assent of the majority of the parents of the children attending that school. I know that he proposes to use powers by means of codes and other regulations and by means of the inspectors of the Board of Education in order to secure that in those schools the level of efficiency and provision of educational means shall be as high as those which are to obtain elsewhere. But I would warn him that his safeguards ar bound to prove illusory. You cannot secure that the level of education established under the local authority by means of this Bill may not in a few years be set back to what it was before the year 1902. It is well known to everybody who has studied this question that there were two levels and two gauges of efficiency set up for schools before 1902 by the Board of Education. It is idle to suppose that the Board of Education inspectors going into certain voluntary schools and finding there an indifferent staff, too small in number, too poor in efficiency, with books, desks, maps, and stationery, all supplied upon the most parsimonious scale, will not adopt an attitude of charitableness and show some kind of mercy to that school, and thus the standard will be lowered. The result will be that the children attending the contracted out school will not receive the standard of education received by the children of the council schools in the same neighbourhood. What will the working classes of this country think of a system which will inevitably produce in those schools which are contracted out an inferior level of education for their children? There is a danger that in populous areas where the rates are high there will be a tendency to make a portion of the schools contracting out schools, and thus inefficient schools will still continue to form a proportion of the school accommodation of such areas. I do appeal to hon. Members of this House to pause before they approve of that bad part of this Bill which will permit and almost promote inefficiency in many schools. What effect will these proposals have on the progress of education? I appeal to hon. Gentlemen to consider carefully before the Second Reading of the Bill whether the state of things should be re-imposed which passed 1449 away in 1902—a state of things which exists in no other country in Europe, and so far as I know in the world. I hope the House will impress on my right hon. friend and the Government that some other method of dealing with this difficulty should be found, and of removing that black speck, that "rift in the lute" which will spoil the Bill and prevent what is intended to be a final settlement. I know that the Government are giving careful attention to the various methods of dealing with this matter; I know very well that the Government to which my right hon. friend belongs cannot without great reluctance have come to regard this as the only plan whereby the present problem can be solved. I doubt whether this will be a solution of the problem. The moment this passes into law you will have the old problem arising out of the claim for civil and religious liberty, and you will have the successors of the present ministry bringing in a Bill to increase the grant to denominational schools, and multiplying these schools. What has been done since 1902 has acted practically towards the creation of a national system of education in this country, and the bringing of all schools, more or less, under popular control. All that will be departed from and cast to the winds. In the interests of children, parents, teachers, and the nation as a whole, I hope the Government will reconsider this provision in an otherwise admirable Bill.
§ *Mr. CAVE
Like other speakers I have endeavoured to realise exactly what will be the effect of the Bill on the existing public schools, and I to approach the discussion of the proposals with a desire to think that the Bill is framed with no intention to bear hardly on any particular denomination. Taking it from that point of view, let me first deal with the single school areas. Now it is a fact that the great majority of the non-provided schools in these areas are Church schools, and I hope that Members of the House who are supporters of the Bill will consider how they would feel if they were in the position of those who support the Church schools. In the single school areas there will be for the voluntary schools no option at all. There is no contracting 1450 out, but there is practically no option. The right hon. Gentleman distinguishes between trust schools and other schools. Let me take, first, the other schools. I want to know exactly what is to become of them. Take the school belonging to the private owner. There are many such schools which are well carried on and are well found in every respect. These schools will in future be wholly outside the benefits of the Education Acts. There will be no grant made to them unless they are given up to the local authority. Unless the owners are prepared to find the whole of the expenses of the schools, without any assistance from the rates or taxes these schools must come to an end, and I suppose that a new school would be built at the cost of the locality. Unless, therefore, the owner consen's to make over the school to the local authority at the cost of giving up what may be his religious convictions, it will be practically impossible for him to secure the continuance of the school. Take the trust schools which are not of the type referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. There it may be that the trustees will have no power to make over the schools to the local authority, and these schools which depend upon grants and rates must drop. In these districts a new school will be a necessity. In the case of the third class of schools, those held under 'tight' trusts, I understand that all these schools will drop, unless the trustees feel able to transfer the school without any consideration to the local education authority. The only compensation they get is what an hon. Member called a generous return. It is that for giving up the school on five days a week they are to be allowed to use it on the remaining two days, one being Sunday. I do not call that very generous compensation. It is only a limitation of a proceeding under which practically the whole of their property is taken away from them. This is in substance what happens. When a school is a denominational school it is blotted out, and all the years of effort and expense—which is a minor matter—given by the Church people in the locality to the conduct of their school go for nothing. The school passes out of their hands and becomes a purely undenominational 1451 school. That is the position in all these single school areas, and I think hon. Members will find that they are very much more numerous than they imagine. What is to become of the trust funds which have been set aside by the testator and others for the maintenance of these schools? Are these trust funds also to be taken over with the school and applied, not according to the trust, but to other purposes, or are they to be liberated? If they are, how are they to be dealt with in future? Will a scheme be made dealing with the funds, or will they be available to the trustees of the school for other purposes? So far I am dealing entirely with the single school areas, and I am bound to say that dealing with these alone, it seems to me extremely unfair treatment of the voluntary schools. No doubt hon. Members will remember what was said in 1870. It was said that the voluntary school owners were looked upon as the pioneers of national education in the country. It was said that the people owed a debt of gratitude to them for what they had done and Mr. Lowe said in effect that, so far from desiring to injure the voluntary schools, he desired to co-operate with them and give them every possible consideration. That is one branch of the Bill, and one which I think will receive careful consideration in the future. There is another point in relation to the teachers. A village school teacher is not to be allowed to teach in the Sunday school, although he may be the fittest man in the parish for the purpose, and the one whom the children know and have confidence in. [Cries of "No."] Is he to be allowed to teach on Saturday and Sunday?
§ *Mr. CAVE
I only want to get it clear. Now let me deal with the other areas, and the effect there of the Bill on the existing schools. There, of course, there is an option. I am not sure whether 1452 the option is given to the managers or to the parents in those cases. If to the parents of the children, will there be a vote or ballot on their part?
§ MR. McKENNA
There will not be a vote by the parents. A parent is not bound to send his child to that school. Another public elementary school must be provided for him.
§ *Mr. CAVE
I was not the only one who was in doubt on that paint. The hon. Member for Richmond asked the same question. Well, the managers have an option. But what an option it is! It comes to this, that either they may give up the whole of their efforts for educational purposes, and give up the school which they have carried on for years, and in which they have taken an interest, perhaps, throughout their lives, and that on terms which will prevent the religion which they profess being afterwards taught in the school, or they must contract out of the Act, and then see at what cost. I do not refer only to the money cost. Of course, the financial cost to these managers must be very great, because the only assistance they will get after contracting out is the sum of 47s. per child. I do not want to dwell much on this, but everyone familiar with the conduct of a school knows that that will leave a large amount to be found by the supporters of the school. The fees will not be sufficient. Let me point out that it is not fair to say that you are putting the managers back into the position they were in before 1902. Since 1902 the cost of education in all these schools has greatly increased. Salaries are higher and expenses are higher in every way, and the managers, if they contract out now, will have to find a very much larger sum than they would have had to find earlier. But that is only part of the question to be considered. What will be the educational cost to the children attending the schools? I think it will be very great. To begin with, the want of funds may prevent the managers from giving the children just the education they would like to give. Then, these schools will no longer be public elementary schools. The children attending the schools will not benefit from scholarships which, in many cases, are reserved for 1453 children attending public elementary schools. Therefore, unless there is some special provision in the Bill altering all these schemes the effect of it will be to deprive children of the chance of continuing their education if they are successful scholars. Then these schools will not have the support of the local education authority; they will probably not be schools in which continuation classes are carried on. Then how about medical inspection? Is that to be extended to the contracting out schools, and, if so, at whose cost? Will it be at the cost of the managers, or out of the public funds? That is a matter of great importance and must be taken into account at the present time. How about the teachers? Will the teachers be on the list of the local education authority so as to have a chance of promotion from school to school, and will they have the advantage of any pension schemes? Will their position in all respects be really the same as that of teachers in the provided schools? If these questions are answered against the contracted-out schools the effect will be either that they must be given up or else carried on under conditions grossly unfair both to scholars and teachers, and you will put the managers to the detestable choice of either causing injury to the children under their care or giving up the schools of which they are so fond. If the result is as I have indicated, I do not think that the voluntary school managers will be fairly treated. There is one other matter. The subscribers to the contracted-out schools will be in the position of paying twice over; they will pay the subscriptions to their own schools and pay the rates for the support of the other schools. For all these reasons, I think that the proposals in the Bill are very unfair and that the result will be very injurious to the cause of education. As to the cost to the public, to begin with, there is to be £1,400,000 of additional grant; but apart from that the cost will be very great. In many cases it will be found that the alternative of contracting-out will be taken. In most of these cases new schools will have to be built, and the cost of so doing will be very heavy, involving a large addition to the rates. I know that in regard to single-school areas the schools will be taken 1454 over at the cost of the owners and not of the public; but in other cases new schools will have to be built, and a very considerable burden will be thrown on the rates. No provision is made for that, so far as I understand, in the Bill. I do not want to pronounce a final judgment on the Bill, because we have not yet seen its provisionsor had them fully explained to us. But, if I understand the Bill rightly, I think it will be grossly unfair to those interested in voluntary schools and will be deeply resented by them, and I do not think that the country will approve or sanction such a Bill.
§ *Mr. MONTAGU (Cambridgeshire, Chesterton)
I desire to express my very sincere regret at the tone and temper of the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition, and to express my personal denial of the accusation of the right hon. Gentleman that this Bill is aimed at the Church of England. I speak as a sincere admirer of that Church, which I regard as always potentially and often actually the greatest influence for good in this country. I submit that to be identified with a speech such as that just delivered by the right hon. Gentleman injures the Established Church far more than anything its enemies could say or do. It is almost impossible to put up with such accusations without being tempted to make counter accusations which have more foundation in feet than any he has brought forward. When I read in the Conservative newspapers this morning that protest meetings against this Bill had been already arranged, it became obvious to me that, before knowing anything of its provisions, the Conservative leaders were perfectly determined on their opposition to it. I warmly support the Bill chiefly because it is calculated to prevent what is called the "secular solution," which I for one find abhorrent. There is growing up, not only in the Party to which I belong, but in the Party opposite, a desire for secularism, in the belief that it affords the only tolerable relief from the quarrel between sect and sect. It seems to me that in the face of such a situation those who desire to retain some form of religious teaching in the schools ought to make a desperate effort to end the controversy 1455 which has raged ever since the compromise of 1870, and see whether this Bill does not contain a better chance of a compromise which will be successful than any contained in any measure yet proposed to Parliament. At any rate, the compromise is so satisfactory that the Leader of the Opposition has not found any imitator in his denunciations in any subsequent speaker in the debate. The hon. Member for Marylebone talks of Cowper-Temple teaching as a residuum of Christianity. [An HON. MEMBER: That is a quotation.] You can make almost anything sound objectionable by giving it an objectionable name. One is familiar with specimens in museums covered with labels with long grotesque Latin names, which conceal the beauty of the objects themselves and make them unseemly, if not hideous. That is the typical position of Cowper-Templerism. Little children are, after all, of too tender years to appreciate the differences between sects and creeds, and if we regard Cowper-Temple teaching as the maximum which all sects can combine, subject to a conscience clause, to teach through the agency of the State, it seems to me that all the objections raised to it by the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone disappear. However, I rose to speak of the single school areas which I know most about, and to consider how this Bill will affect the non-provided schools after it becomes law. What are the objects and desires of those who wish the continuance of and those who founded the voluntary schools with tight trusts? Their object and desire is that denominational teaching shall be continued and that secular teaching shall be carried on as well. The State is under the Bill to carry out the secular part of the trust, and the trustees will be able to provide at their own expense and with their endowments in buildings maintained and equipped by the State the sectarian part of the trust 5. We deny the existence of the new-found right of the parent to have his children taught at the expense of the State the tenets of his particular denomination. But we do not deny for the parent the right, at his own expense, 1456 to provide the teaching for his children which he desires.
It is said that Cowper-Temple education is objected to by many people in the country: but there is a conscience clause attached to it. Those who do not approve of Cowper-Temple teaching do rot conscientiously object to helping to pay for it, and they cannot understand the Free Church objection to being asked to pay for denominational education of which they do not approve. You may say that you have an objection to pay rates for other people's religious teaching, when they object to pay rates for yours, but that, after all, is not a conscientious objection it is only to what may be termed an imperfect bargain. It is objected that the facilities in these single school areas are not sufficient. But the facilities are not limited to two days a week but are afforded on seven days a. week, and the building for Sunday school is to be kept in repair, warmed and lighted. Then it is objected that the facilities are given out of school hours. What does that mean? It simply means that the State is not to be liable to provide machinery for bringing children to denominational teaching and this will enhance the dignity of the religious teaching. Take the ease in which the teacher is a clergyman of the Church of England. I am, quite sure that it will not be difficult to bring those children whose parents consent to receive denominational teaching from the appointed teacher of the sect which desires the religious teaching itself. Then we are told that the very fact that the teachers are prevented from giving this teaching will put it upon a lower level than other teaching; but it would seem to me that the distinction which is made will put it upon a higher level because it will rest on voluntary effort, and compulsory efforts are of very little use in religious matters. Of course the trustees will lose the management of such denominational schools, but it seems to me that when the Act of 1902 was passed, this claim to manage their own schools disappeared for ever, and under that Act they have to reconcile themselves to the fact that a compromise is suggested to them 1457 which, will enable them to carry out the intention of the denominational school with public managers so far as secular subjects are concerned. The hon. Member for Leicester has advocated once again, as he so often has in this House, the so-called secular solution and has told us that this single-school area proposal is, in fact, the secular solution. I do not think it has been denied that every parent has the Tight to the secular solution for his own child or that the local authority has the right to it within its sphere of influence. What we object to is the secular solution so far as the State is concerned. What I hope we shall never see in this country is the State saying: Although it is possible to teach everything, else, owing to differences of sect it is impossible to teach that which is the best worth teaching of anything, namely, religious teaching which is all too often the only religious teaching which the child gets at all. The hon. Member for Leicester could not see the difference between rate aid and tax aid. When you add rate aid to tax aid you have the whole public cost of the school and when you subtract rate aid from tax aid, denominational instruction has to be paid for by private subscription. For all schools it seems to me this Bill is providing some kind of public control; when rate aid is obtained it is providing the control of the people who pay the rates through the county council. When tax aid alone is afforded the control which is to be given is that of the Board of Education, responsible to the public through this House of Parliament. The noble Lord the Member for Marylebone objected that anyone might be called upon to give Cowper-Temple teaching as no questions were to be asked before the appointment of a teacher as to what his creed was, and therefore you might find some one giving Cowper-Temple teaching who did not believe in it. As I understand the Bill, no teacher will be called upon to give 'Cowper-Temple teaching against his will, and if the local authority desires to give that teaching it is perfectly at liberty-to engage for that purpose one educated to give it. [Cries of "Tests."] As I understand it there is to be no test for the teacher who gives secular teaching in the school. As I understand the Bill, and I hope my right 1458 hon. friend the President of the Board of Education will correct me if I am wrong, no teacher is to be compelled to give Cowper-Temple teaching. It is perfectly possible, when a local authority signs an agreement with a teacher who does not wish to give Cowper-Temple teaching, for them to engage one who can. I do not think hon. Members appreciate the difference between a test which is to be a condition of the employment of a teacher to give secular education and that of a man specially entrusted with the responsible task of giving religious teaching to children. I want to say a word as to contracting out. It does seem to me that too much has been made of the possibility of the educational inefficiency which is produced by this, contracting out. Under this Bill there will be always in reach of the children who go to such a school an alternative public elementary school, and the very fact of the existence of this will necessitate the keeping of the voluntary school efficient, or else the parents would remove their children. And, even if we do risk a certain amount of educational inefficiency, it seems to me that very possibly the difference of religious beliefs in this country may prevent a perfect educational system, and that certain sacrifices of educational efficiency may perhaps have to be made in recognition of the conscientious beliefs of the people of this country. I am perfectly certain of this, that ever since the Act of 1902, and even before it, attempts to over - ride conscientious opinions have delayed and retarded educational efficiency, and that you can never obtain such efficiency at the cost of sectarian strife, but only by general cooperation.
§ *Mr. F. B. SMITH (Liverpool, Walton)
Having listened to this debate with very great attention, and having no desire to use language other than the most conciliatory towards the Government's present proposals, I can only hazard the conjecture, speaking as far as the North of England is concerned, that this Bill is not seriously intended to pass into law. Nor do I think an analysis of the beliefs of members of the Government—I do not mean their religious beliefs, but of the educational theories of the 1459 present Government—could have led to the expectation that they would be likely to produce a Bill which would pass into law, either on the lines of the present Bill or the last Bill. We know that the Secretary of State for War, because he has repeatedly told us so was always a convinced believer in the 1902 Bill passed by my right hon. friend. He has said so repeatedly, and called attention to the immense work done for the cause of national education by that Bill. We know the Home Secretary is in favour of a secular solution. We know the late Minister for Education was in favour of parents' rights., and that the Prime Minister is sometimes in favour of parents' rights and sometimes not. We know that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board is at one time in favour of contracting out, and at another time not. In those circumstances it is not very surprising that the Bill which has at last been produced should have been met from all quarters of the House with a chorous of disapproval except from the hon. Gentleman who has just resumed Ms seat. When we are asked to place these educational debates upon a higher level, when we are asked whether we cannot forget the sectarian differences, to think a little more of the interests of the children and a little less of those miserable differences, surely we are entitled, those of us who believe that there is one line and one line only upon which true educational progress can be made to point out that after the 1902 Act was passed—which by the universal admission of every one who has spoken from that side of the House did a great work for education in this country—that was the time when hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite thought fit to excite a Welsh revolt in order that they might show us how desirous they were that progress should be made. What is the nature of the proposal? The circumstance which I think will attract the widest attention in Lancashire is that this Bill is totally distinct from the Bill introduced eighteen months ago. Eighteen months ago we were told that the House of Lords had flouted the will of the people as expressed by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. What was the will of the people eighteen months ago as construed by the 1460 then Member for Education? The right hon. Gentleman said—There will be no contracting out of popular control and all that popular control means.And he continued—No elementary school shall receive a penny of public money either from the rates or taxes unless it becomes a provided school.When hon. Gentlemen get up like the last speaker and enthusiastically support the proposals of the Government to-day, which are the very negation of the extracts I have just read, we may well ask is there anything in the way of inconsistency which hon. Gentlemen opposite are not prepared to swallow? That was the first Bill. The session afterwards an attempt was made to diagnose the will of the people by the introduction of that squalid piece of meanness, the Passive Resisters Relief Bill, and one which had the happy effect of imposing a one-fifteenth educational rate on denominationalists, a totally different Bill from the first Bill, totally different in its details and in its expression of the will of the people. What happened? The second Bill was dropped after a short Parliamentary career, and it was dropped, I deliberately say it, for one reason only, that it would not admit of being jockeyed in the interests of the Roman Catholic community. ["Hear, hear".] I am not impressed by those cheers, because I recollect in my short Parliamentary career the first Bill, which hon. Gentlemen opposite say was rejected by the House of Lords the second Passive Resisters Bill, and now this Bill, and all three there was not one which hon. Gentlemen did not receive with the same indiscriminate and unquestioning enthusiasm. What is involved in that statement of the Minister for Education that he was going to the Church of England with a sword in his hand, as compared with the peace offering of the previous Minister? I do not question the right of the right hon. Gentleman to go to any community with a sword in his hand, if he proposed to do so.
§ MR. F. E. SMITH
Oh, he is going to the House of Lords with a sword in his 1461 hand. Up to the present there had been a singular and inexplicable delay in producing the sword from its scabbard. It is to be the House of Lords, but because the House of Lords threw out a Bill which no longer represents the will of the people—because it cannot be contended that this is the same Bill—we are driven to the conclusion that the present Bill, more drastic than the last, is going to be imposed upon the House of Lords without reference to the merit or demerits of denominationalism, but simply as a piece of petulant spite against the House of Lords. Is it or is it not the will of the people that there should be two systems of State schools, or only one? That is the first point upon which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board has to express his views, if he is going to intervene in this debate as he has done in previous debates on this question. If it is the will of the people that there should be two, why did the late Education Minister scrupulously and with some care arrange for one? If it is the will of the people that there should be one, why is the present Minister arranging with the same scrupulousness and care that there shall be two? Then, how has the change in the will of the people been discovered? Was it by some kind of intuitive divination, or was it by some kind of private information from the people of Devon, Hereford, or Worcester, that the Government have discovered this change? And when we are dealing with the question of the application of these money grants, which are still to preserve denominational schools, I hope the House will not have failed to observe the right hon. Gentleman's remark when he told the House that the pecuniary arrangements that are now being sanctioned must not be assumed to have a permanent character, that they might be altered in one year, or in two years. That is nice information for the people of Lancashire, who in past years have made great sacrifices for' their voluntary schools. We know what we have to expect from the right hon. Gentleman. We know that he deals with all problems of a perplexing character in a method which has the attraction of simplicity. The right hon. Gentleman appeals from his embarrassed political side to his corrupt judicial side— 1462 [Cries of "Withdraw."]—his partial judicial side. [Renewed MINISTERIAL cries of "Withdraw."] I withdraw nothing.
The hon. Member has no right to make a charge of corruption against another hon. Member.
§ *Mr. F. E. SMITH
I at once, and in respectful obedience to your ruling, Sir, substitute for the charge of corruption the charge of partiality. [Cries of "Withdraw."] If I am out of order I shall be told so from the Chair, not from below the gangway. I repeat, an appeal from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde is not one which gives any great encouragement to those who are told that the last chance you have is with administrative arrangements that are going to be made in the future. Let me ask what is this scheme of contracting out? It is this, and I speak in the presence of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board when I say, just as he said that Clause 1. was the spinal cord of the last Bill, so contracting out is the spinal cord of this Bill. Is there one Member of the Government who ever appealed to his constituents on the ground that they were going to settle the question on the principle of contracting out, or an hon. Member opposite who ever said so to his constituents? I recall the words of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, who, in 1906, in describing "contracting out," said it was "an exception grafted on an exception," and that he was "amazed that this proposition for contracting out should come from a Liberal Government." It cut across, he said, the spinal column of the Bill; the voluntary schools could not stand the strain in 1902, after being four years on the rates, and the expenses of maintenance would have increased by 20 per cent., while the teachers would be paid on the School Board standard. "The children of the country," the hon. Member for North Camberwell said, "would be once more sacrificed, and he viewed the whole proposition with the greatest apprehension and with something approaching disgust; the proposal to allow contracting out was thoroughly reactionary, and he regretted that it should 1463 have come from the Liberal Government. I can only say, that a gentleman who is capable of such intellectual acrobatics in the short period of eighteen months deserves something better than an under-secretaryship. He ought to be a law officer. Let us consider for a moment whether the hon. Gentleman was not abundantly justified in the statements he made in 1906. I offer for the consideration of the House some figures that have been supplied to me. The voluntary schools prior to 1902 cost £2 6s. per child, and the grant amounted to £1 15s., a deficiency of 11s., which caused the intolerable strain that was admitted to be utterly irreconcilable with any school efficiency. ["No, no."] Hon. Members say no, but the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, who knows a good deal more about it, says yes. I prefer to take the views of the hon. Gentleman on this matter. Now the expenditure in all schools, including voluntary schools, amounts to £3 2s., and the new grant is announced as £2 7s. That is an increase of 16s. as compared with the cost of the voluntary schools prior to 1902, and an increase of 12s. at most in the grants. What is likely to be the effect of this greater deficiency? It is not pretended that contracting out is in the interests of educational efficiency. It is introduced to get rid of political difficulties. Its first object is to shift the direct incidence of denominational charges from the rates to the taxes, and the second is to lessen the amount which is payable on adjustment to the denominations. Those are the two objects, and I hope we shall hear something of them in this debate. I should like to hear the view of an intelligent foreigner when he was told that in the year 1908 it was proposed to divert the educational charges from the rates to the taxes, and when he asked for an explanation he was told that the answer was neither administrative, political or educational, but that it was merely to relieve a certain type of conscience. Let the House for a moment pause to consider this ever fresh phenomenon of a conscience which can pay a tax but cannot pay a rate. There is some distinction, if anyone is so fortunate as to understand it; but, having considered 1464 it carefully, I confess I have entirely failed to do so. Does it really exist? Is there really in this House a conscience which, when it pays for the denominational education of others, recognises the distinction between a rate and a tax? Is there, away from the public platform and the country, any conscience which feels the conscientious objection to pay a rate for the denominational teaching of other people's children? I do not believe anyone will seriously come forward and say their conscience feels the obligation to pay a rate for the denominational teaching of other people. If there is, will the same person dare to come forward and say that, although he feels this monstrous and intolerant affront to his conscience when asked to pay out of rates for denominational teaching, he does not feel the same affront when the charge is made in taxes? If, indeed, the affront is not felt when the charge takes the form of a tax, how is it that the most simple solution of all has inexplicably escaped the attention of one Government and one Party after another? If that distinction is valid and the Noncomformist conscience can pay taxes and not rates, why not adopt the simple solution and impose the whole educational charges upon the taxes? You can then give the denominationalists all they want and this conscience is at last assuaged without any difficulty. The real truth is that this distinction on which so much stress is laid is not a distinction which has ever been put forward by a leading Member of the Liberal Government. The Secretary of State for War saw with the most complete clearness how hypocritical it was to seek to establish such a difference. The difficulty in which the Government is placed is that they are face to face with the results of an entirely impossible electioneering campaign, an electioneering campaign which has led to one impossible Education Bill after another. It was short, simple, and intelligible, and can be represented in a sentence. The election campaign was "Not one penny of public money without public control." Well, if you are strong-enough to do that, you are in the road which leads equally to logic and success; and, if you are not strong enough to do that—and I do not think there is a single member of the Government who 1465 will contend that you are strong enough—to attempt to establish any distinction between rate and tax is absolutely inconceivable. I said that the second object in contracting out was to lessen the amount given in future to denominations. On the net result they are to receive less. I say that from the first stage of this Bill to the last I shall oppose it, and I believe Lancashire, as a whole, will oppose it. I believe Lancashire Members, wherever they sit, will be driven by the views of their constituencies to oppose the Bill before this debate closes as many of them did the last Bill. I shall oppose it on the broad and simple ground that no Bill can ever succeed in this country which does not treat Nonconformist, Anglican, Jew, and Catholic alike. That is the principle I hope all who oppose this Bill will adopt. No denominationalists ought to be asked to cut their children adrift from public funds to which they are contributors. If it is possible to treat all alike, obviously that is the fair and right solution. How is it possible? There are two ways, and two ways only. The first is the secular solution. Of all the weapons and of all the devices to which this Government when they are in difficulty make resort, the most contemptible and most unconvincing is when, faced with denominational arguments, they say: "If you press it, you will drive us to the secular solution." Let me say that if the Government are to be driven to the secular solution by the arguments I and my hon. friends use, the moment they come into the open and go to the country on the secular solution the better pleased we shall be. The only Party of any strength in this House which has pronounced itself by its leading Members to be strongly in favour of the secular solution is the Labour Party. But I have noticed, not without interest, that, although many of their Members speak with great force and with great eloquence in this House in favour of the secular solution, when an opportunity is given to them of challenging the opinions of the constituencies in three-cornered and other fights, the candidates whom the Labour Party select do not show the same zeal and enthusiasm in the cause of secularism which their leaders show in this House. Quite recently we had an election in the Kirkdale 1466 division of Liverpool. It was an election between a Labour and Socialist candidate and a Conservative candidate. I should have thought in my simplicity that that was an admirable opportunity in a great and industrial centre of population for the Labour Party to nail their colours to the mast, to advance the great and popular cause of secularism and submit it to the suffrages of a democratic constituency. Before the Labour candidate had been in the constituency four days, however, he was strongly in favour of Cowper-Temple teaching, and I have no doubt, if we had kept him there a month, he would have been strongly in favour of denominational teaching. I think I am correct in saying that the same experience happened in Hull; and I also think that in the recent contest at Leeds, when a Labour candidate wished to be returned to the House of Commons, he did not nail to the mast this secularist doctrine which we are told is such a serious menace to us if we press our claim. The only comment I make is that the advocacy of the secular doctrine in this House is likely to be little persuasive when it is combined by the Party which, as a Party,. is the only Party in favour of it, with a shrinking disinclination to challenge the opinion of the country when opportunity is given them to do so. I say deliberately that the Labour Party can no more carry their Roman Catholic operatives with them in their battle for purely secular education than they can carry far wilder and more extreme industrial proposals. Is there one Labour representative of Lancashire who can say that the Roman Catholic members of the trade unions are going to follow them in their secularist campaign? The Member for East Leeds put down at the recent trade union meeting a resolution in favour of denominational education. It was a resolution which I would have accepted myself. It was in favour of the parental right in the most extreme form. The hon. Gentleman was induced to withdraw it, I do not know by what agency or with what object. But so far as Lancashire is concerned I do not believe any Labour Member sitting for a Lancashire constituency—and I ask the House to take this as the criterion of the secular prospect—will come forward and say that he is in favour of the secular solution.
§ *MR. F. E. SMITH
I quite agree. The whole of the supporters of the Government have voted for two different Education Bills in this House. The question is: What is the hon. Gentleman going to vote for in the country, and what are the country going to vote for when they get an opportunity? If the principle of secularism for this reason fails, we are thrown back upon the principle of parental right, which has received a great deal of allegiance in all parts of this House. I understand from the present Minister of Education that he, too, to some extent is in favour of the principle of parental right; but I noticed with surprise that, when speaking in the country the other night, he described it as an "empirical fad." Why the right hon. Gentleman should be in favour of an empirical fad he did not explain. I would like to call attention to the fact that this remedy has been advocated by very large sections of the House. The distinguished brother of the Member for East Marylebone moved an Amendment to the Bill of 1902, which, I believe, would have had the effect of establishing a parents committee. I profoundly regret that that Amendment was not adopted by my right hon. friend who had that Bill in conduct. It was a proposal which, I believe, was supported by the hon. Member for East Mayo.
§ *Mr. F. E. SMITH
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. It was moved by the hon. Member for East Mayo and, I think, supported by the noble Lord who sat for Greenwich. That, of course, was an Amendment which would have had the effect, if not precisely in the way which would probably be adopted to-day, of establishing the principle of parental right. I regret profoundly that the House did not adopt that. Not only was the hon. Member who sat for Greenwich in favour of that view, but the present Prime Minister 1468 also expressed himself strongly in favour of it—We believe the child should be brought up in the faith of its father until it is old enough to choose for itself.That is not only the child of the Nonconformist, but equally the child of the Roman Catholic or Anglican 'father. The late Minister for Education, until he assumed the responsibilities of office, spoke more directly and clearly, though in very homely language. He said—Here the parents really must conquer their shyness and make their choice apparent in this heated controversy and tell us, when they send Tom and Jane to school, if and what religious instruction they desire them to receive. We are not an imaginative people. Jews, Roman Catholics. Anglicans, and Dissenters in a lump will usually exhaust the list. The great body of Dissenters will be found ready to accept the broad, simple Bible teaching which characterises Board School Christianity.And this was the way the right hon. Gentleman got the mandate from the country. He got it by saying to the Catholics below the Gangway that his view was that the only permanent solution was by giving to the parent of every child the right to determine what the religious education of that child should be in the public elementary schools of the country. Then we had the same statement by the Attorney-General for Ireland at Liverpool, and we have had with limitations the same statement made by the hon. Member for the Abercrombie Division, and the hon. Member for East Toxteth. Each and all of these have committed themselves to the principle of the parents' right. This principle is not one which can be determined in reference to any vulgar fraction or to any arrangement or calculation as to the number of parents. The Government have produced a Bill which they and the House know will never become law in its present form. Then consider for a moment the odious position in which they have pat the political Dissenter in the eyes of the country. They have represented the Dissenter as being a parasite upon the scanty pence of the Anglican and the Catholic operatives. You represent the Dissenter as saying: "We will have the religious 1469 education that we desire, and that is sufficient for us. You shall pay for it, and if you want to have the religious education which is sufficient for you, you shall pay for ours, and also pay the additional charge." The answer is: "It is not meanness which makes us take up this position. It is conscience." Fortunate indeed are those whose consciences providentially coincide with the economy of their pockets and the exploitation of their neighbours. The only observation that those of us in the North of England, in Liverpool and Manchester, where, at any rate, we are not enthralled with this doctrine, have to make if this provocative and brutal policy is to be pressed to its conclusion is that history will teach, as it has taught, that, from the days of Praise God Barebones to the heroes of the Welsh revolt, there has never been a Parliament dominated by political Dissent of which England has not grown more and more sick.
§ *THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Dr. MACNAMARA,) Camberwell, N.
I may perhaps be permitted to say a word or two on this very familiar topic. If I do not follow the hon. and learned Member at once it is because I want to come to education and the Education Bill of my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Education. I will at once thank my hon. and learned friend for forecasting me some day to the office of Law Officer of the Crown. I hope he may live to see it. The first broad charge which is always made against us in dealing with the denominational system is that in our proposals we are guilty of something in the nature of breach of faith towards those who left the money to build those schools. That view is taken again tonight. I should like to examine that proposition quite shortly. I wonder whether hon. Members opposite quite realise the conditions under which the people built these denominational voluntary schools and the conditions under which the State undertook to give daily maintenance to them From the very beginning it was the genius of the whole educational system and fifty, sixty, or seventy years ago both Tory and Liberal Governments laid 1470 it down that denominational schools might be built and the State would give maintenance, but the maintenance would take this form, that for every penny that the State gave a penny must be found locally out of private pockets. That has been the genius of the whole system. I will go no earlier than 1868. The Royal Commission over which the Duke of Newcastle presided found at that time that the cost of a child's education was 30s. a year, and recommended that the average grant payable should be about 10s. a child, never exceeding 15s., and under their recommendation Article 47 of the Education Code of 1861, arranged the grant in this way, that it was to be reduced by its excess above the amount of school fees and subscriptions or the rate of 15s. per scholar in average attendance, and the Act of 1870 carried on that general principle. It says to the denominationalists, "Build a school by all means; we will give you a Government grant, but for every penny we give you, you will find a penny yourself." The Act of 1870 carried that out and laid it down in Section 97, dealing with grants that—Such grant shall not for any year exceed the income of the school for that year which was derived from voluntary contributions and school fees and from any source other than the Parliamentary Grant.That principle has been steadily departed from by the Party opposite. In 1876, it was departed from by a Tory Government to this extent, that up to 17s. 6d. grant per child there need be no local contribution at all. Beyond that Government grant, penny by penny they must raise the same amount locally. And throughout all the years special aid grants have been given. The Government grant has increased so that that principle has been entirely violated. The supporters of the voluntary schools have cheerfully acquiesced in the abrogation of the principle under which those schools were built. It seems to me they gladly violate the spirit of their obligation when it comes to a question of more money. But they stick out in the closest possible way for the very letter of the trust deed when it comes to the concomitant of popular control. That is partly why this Bill is necessary. Now down to 1471 1870 the elementary education of this country was entirely under the denominational voluntary system. The schools under private management gave denominational teaching as part of their provision, teachers were appointed subject to religious tests. They got Government grants, but they were compelled to make up their supplemental income from voluntary contributions. But the country found out long before 1870 that that system could not adequately cover the ground, and there were a great many endeavours made, not successful of course, till Mr. Forster's endeavour of 1870 to remedy the state of affairs. His Act said to this system which had held the ground by itself up to that time, The denominational system will go on. You will give denominational teaching. You will be under private management. You will test your teachers. You will have Government grants and you will make up your income from private sources Denominationalists have flourished amazingly under the Act of 1870. They have added to their operations by 100 per cent. They found long before 1870 that the denominational system could not cover the ground and so in the Act of 1870 they created or gave the locality the right to create a local authority directly elected for educational purposes charged with this function, to survey their area and say whether there were educational deficiencies. These were to be supplied by a new type of school—the Board school. That school, too was to get Government grants like the old system, which was to continue. It was to be under public management. It was not to give denominational teaching. Its teachers were to be appointed without reference to their religious beliefs. And in consideration of these facts it was not to make up its lock I income from private voluntary sources. It was to come upon the rates. But by almost common agreement it was resolved in 1870 that if the school came on the rates, precedent to that it must agree to be publicly controlled and not to give denominational teaching. These two systems went on. The denominational system flourished, as I say amazingly. The new system grew up under these new conditions and of course, with the spread of the new system and the growing 1472 universality of the School Board rate and the increase of the rate in many localities there was what the Leader of the Opposition called an intolerable strain upon the supporters of the denominational system. He tried to meet it in 1897 with a special aid-grant, which was, of course, merely a matter of postponing the funeral so far as a great many schools were concerned. When we came to 1902 I should say about half the schools were in extremis, and he had either to let them go under or deliberately put them upon the slippery slope of the rates. He put them on the rates quite deliberately. I have never complained of that. I do not complain of these schools being on the rates. I am tired of the public education of the working man's child being a matter of private charity. That is a dangerous anachronism which this country cannot afford to continue. What I said then and say now, is that he ought not to have violated the principles of the common agreement of 1870. Having put them on the rates deliberately, he ought to have accepted the consequence of his action and agreed that they should be fully under public control, and not give denominational teaching. What did he do? As to denominational teaching he violated that principle entirely. He continued denominational teaching in the row rate-aided schools. As to the matter of public control as the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, he arranged an ingenious scheme under which he he 'ged if I may put it so. The denominational schools were to have six managers, the denomination to appoint four, and the public two. Does anybody think that that system can be maintained? I take the finance of it. At the present time, as we have heard from the hon. Member for the Walton Division, the maintenance of elementary schools council and non-provided is 62s. a year a child. I should think, although the figures are not now given by the Board of Education. that the maintenance of the non-provided school child is at the outside about 50s. on an average. Now, where does that 50s. come from? It is true the denominationalists make cert in provision. They are responsible for the structural upkeep of the fabric. They also give the public the free use of their 1473 premises five days and three nights a week. I have gone into very elaborate calculations which I have, not by me, and without haggling over it at all, and putting the highest possible outside value upon it, the structural upkeep of the fabric and the use of the rooms on five days and three nights in the week free to the public altogether is not more than about 5s. a child a year of the children in voluntary schools. Therefore there is 45s. of the maintenance cost left. Consequently the public is finding nine-tenths of the cost and at the very outside figure the denominationalist finds one-tenth. As against that the public gets two-sixths of the management, which I think I may put roughly at three-tenths. That is intolerable. This is not a Liberal or a Tory question, but a constitutional question. Is it tolerable that the public should find at least nine-tenths of the cost and have not more than three-tenths of the management? No, and it is because we do not think it tolerable—and I should like to hear any Gentleman opposite support the present system—that we brought in this Bill. We have distinguished support for our proposition from the leaders on the other side. Let me take two or three extracts which would appear to have escaped the attention of the hon. Member for the Walton Division. Lord Lansdowne, on 14th October, 1906, at Nottingham, said—It should be clearly understood that the Unionist Party did not object to popular control and that they did not wish to impose religious tests upon teachers.That is the principle of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for West Birmingham, was more explicit in the matter of tests, for on 8th May, 1906, he said—When a teacher comes forward to enter the State service there is no more reason, no more justice in exacting from him a profession of any particular religious opinion than in doing it in the case of the more important servants of the State.We endeavoured to restore rate-aided education in the Bill of 1906, and I think the House will agree that, on the part of the Secretary for Ireland, it was a 1474 splendid endeavour he made in that direction. We spent forty-nine Parliamentary days over that endeavour. We passed the Second Reading by a majority of 206, and the Third Reading by a majority of 192, the largest Parliamentary majorities since the first Reform Bill. We sent the Bill up to another place, but I do not need to discuss what happened there. Curiously enough, the Government has so far been criticised from the other side of the House because, in the interest of educational peace and to meet sincere de nominationalists, we have gone out of our way to make an exception to broad principles. I refer particularly to the attack on contracting out. It was criticised by the Leader of the Opposition, and by the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone; in fact, the noble Lord associated himself with the criticism made by the hon. Member for North West Ham. It is rather curious but it is a fact that contracting out came in the first instance from the other side of the House. The Member for Glasgow University on the first clause of the Bill of 1906 moved to insert words which would have left it open for him afterwards to put in his scheme of contracting out. The proposal was supported by the Member for Cambridge University.
§ *Dr. MACNAMARA
At any rate, then, the Government have one supporter on the other side of the House. The proposal was also supported in 1906 by the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone, but circumstances of course alter cases. The hon. Member for the Glasgow University, who would not be associated with educational inefficiency under any circumstances, brought this proposal forward in the interests of variety in education, and after a discussion he asked leave to withdraw it, having satisfied himself with the expression of views on the subject. His Amendment was 1475 negatived without a division. When we came to Clause 4 of the Bill it was pointed out by denominationalists that the clause was not mandatory upon the local authority, and that there might be cases where the local authority would refuse to grant the extended facilities offered by the Bill, and then the denominationalists would not get what they claimed, namely, the right to have denominational teaching every day. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, who was then President of the Board of Education, added to Clause 4 a new sub-section, providing that where difficulties might arise between the local authority and the denominationalists the school might continue fully denominational, but without access to the rates, and be treated as a State-aided school. That was adopted in this House. I spoke and voted against it on the ground I then indicated, that I gravely feared that this kind of contracting-out system would mean a return to the educationally starved condition in which many of the voluntary schools were prior to 1902. Although I said then that they were starved hon. Gentlemen opposite would not have it. I immediately pressed a number of questions on my right hon. friend the present Chief Secretary, all designed to secure that in regard to the contracting-out of schools, the education given in them, and the teachers, should be maintained at the level of efficiency of the local authority schools of the country. He gave a number of assurances as to educational efficiency, and they were introduced into what became the contracting-out clause when it became Clause 5 in the final form of the Bill. The Bill went to another place, and when it was there Clause 3 in regard to ordinary facilities 1476 to denominational schools twice a week was made to extend the facilities to every day in the week. Clause 4 providing facilities every day for denominational teaching was made mandatory, and its operation was extended not only to urban but to rural districts. On the Report Stage in another place, Clause 3 was restored to its original form giving the ordinary facilities on two mornings of the week. But Clause 4 remained mandatory, and extended to all areas, urban and rural, and that removed any necessity at all for the contracting-out clause. Notwithstanding the fact that Clause 4 was made mandatory, the Archbishop of Canterbury brought up a carefully prepared scheme of contracting out which he placed before the House of Lords and desired to be inserted in the Bill as an additional safeguard. Therefore, the first word in favour of contracting out was spoken from the benches opposite in this House, and the last word was spoken from the ecclesiastical benches in another place. And now it is made a gibe against us, and especially against me, that in the interest of peace and harmony, and to meet the denominationalists, we have put in what if we were beginning de novo and writing on a clean slate we should not be prepared to entertain. My right hon. friend the Chief Secretary told me that he did not like contracting out. I said that I did not like it, though if educational efficiency were secured much of my objection to contracting out would disappear. I was afraid of going back to the starved condition prior to 1902. What was the Government grant to the denominational schools then? As far as I can make out, about 35s. or 36s. per head on an average. If this Bill passes, it will be 47s. per head. 1477 I think those who are opposing contracting out had better look into this a little closely before attacking the proposal with such violence as they have done. Surely 47s. a child would be better than 35s. which marked the days when the Leader of the Opposition supported the proposal. No doubt the cost is much heavier in London and the big towns. But denominationalists must pool their liabilities. Surely rich districts like Belgravia might lend a helping hand to Bermondsey, even in London, and if that is done 47s. per head will go a great deal further than hon. Gentlemen opposite appear to think. I have studied the figures as well as I can, and I think the maintenance charge is not move than somewhere about 50s. per head on an average.
§ *Dr. MACNAMARA
There will be parts where it will be higher, as in London, and I suggest that the rich can pool their obligations. They did so formerly in 1897, and there is no reason why they should not do so again. Educational efficiency is all I care for, and I am convinced that it is safeguarded in the Bill. The terms of the Bill on the point were read out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am sure that if anyone has any doubt about educational efficiency—I do not care from what quarter it comes—he has only to represent his views to the President of the Board of Education and they will be carefully considered. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that we are striking at educational efficiency, but if we did so, we should be aliens to all the traditions 1478 of Liberalism. I venture to think that if supporters of denominational schools look into the figures more closely, and understand what has been offered, they will come to the conclusion that a very stiff price is being paid for freedom from ecclesiastical and territorial influences in the villages. This is the last attempt which anybody can make at a reasonable compromise, and those who, like the hon. Member for the Walton Division, fight it recklessly must know that people are growing tired of this squabble, and that large sections of people in this country—even religiously - minded people—are inclined to give up in despair and to say that they cannot allow it to continue. Therefore, let hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite think twice, think thrice, before they continue opposition to this proposal, which in my opinion will make for educational efficiency, for justice, and for peace, and which is the only scheme that stands between them and what I would deplore, secular schools.
§ *SIR WILLIAM ANSON (Oxford University)
Before dealing with the contracting out proposals of the Bill, I wish to come to closer quarters with what has been called "the squalid controversy" which has led to the introduction of this Bill. It is a squalid controversy, and a provoking controversy; it is provoking because if people would only go into the schools of the country they would see that this religious difficulty practically does not exiet. In fact, the religious difficulty is the creature of the platform and of the Press and of this House. In nearly all the areas which would be affected by this Bill the religious difficulty is practically non-existent. The proof of this may be found in the history 1479 of the past few years. When the Secretary for Ireland introduced his Bill into the House and when it was debated for months, I could detect no enthusiasm for it anywhere, except the enthusiasm of hostility. When it disappeared we were told that terrible things would happen on account of its loss; but nothing has happened; the world has gone on much as before. Last year the President of the Board of Education introduced a transitory figure on to the legislative horizon a passive resister's relief Bill, but that has also disappeared and again nothing happened except some growls from the British Weekly. What is more illustrative of the quiet working of the present Jaw than anything else is this—that there are, and have always been, two districts in the country where, in consequence of political agitation, injustice has been done from time to time to the voluntary schools. We have called attention from time to time to that injustice, but our efforts have been uniformly met by the sympathetic attitudes towards those who disobey the law adopted by the Board of Education as at present constituted; but in spite of this the trouble has never spread beyond those areas, and the Education Act is working quietly and harmoniously all over England, and to the great advantage of education generally. Why, then, are we to have this Bill? We are told that the Government and their supporters received a mandate for this Bill from the constituencies. I suppose that the fulfilment of every promise made by a candidate if he is elected is regarded as a mandate, and in the miscellaneous catalogue of promises made by the supporters of the Government, you may find what is now construed as a man 1480 date in favour of popular control, the abolition of tests for teachers, and I suppose a remedy for the grievances of the single school areas. As regards these points I never suggested that the Act of 1902 was incapable of amendment, and if it can be shewn to me that absolute popular control over secular education was not given in that Act I would amend it in that sense. As regards tests for teachers I do not think there is anyone on this side of the House or in any other part of it who is in favour of tests for teachers, otherwise than as a means for the ascertainment of their educational efficiency for the work which they are engaged to do. Then as to single school areas we have always admitted that we have not dealt successfully with that difficulty, and that it must sooner or later be dealt with. Therefore with reference to these three items, popular control, tests for teachers, and single school areas, what, does this Bill do? Popular control is given away in every contracted out school, for every such school will be governed by its own managers according to their own wishes subject to the standard of efficiency required by the Board of Education. They will do as they like, and the teachers will be liable to any test the managers may think fit to impose. Popular control we are told, however, is to be found in the administration of the Board of Education, but the Board of Education does not appoint teachers, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer informed us that the main evidence of the existence of popular control consisted in the appointment of teachers. The Board of Education will not have anything to do with the test which the managers may see fit to impose. Public control then will be gone, and abolition of tests for teachers will be 1481 gone. What about single school areas? The grievance will remain in an aggravated form. We are told that as far as possible all single school areas will be dealt with alike, and an opportunity given to every child to be taught the religion which his parents desire. But we have single school areas all over the country in which it will be impossible hence forth for any teaching to be given to the child except what is called Cowper-Temple teaching. Upon this point we want to know what is a single school area and who is to determine what it is. Is a single school area 'a rural area, or is it any place in which the child has no access to a council school. If so, would that be an urban area, and would it be for the local authority to determine, because, if so, it puts a great power into the hands of that authority in regard to voluntary schools, for wherever the local authority may decide that a single school area exists the right is given to take over the school and use it for five days a week, without payment of rent by the local authority. I admit the policy of that part of the Bill. It is a very large and attractive bribe to local authorities. Under the Bill of 1906 wherever a voluntary school was transferred or taken over by the local authority it would either have to be bought or hired. The President of the Board of Education now proposes that it shall be neither bought nor hired, he improves upon that proposal and provides that it shall be confiscated. This would be of considerable advantage to the ratepayers and may be possibly an inducement to some sordid persons in the country to support the Bill, but it does not seem to me to be an honest way of dealing with single school areas. As to contracting out the Secretary of the Local 1482 Government Board accuses me of having been a supporter of it in th.3 session of 1906. I opposed it throughout that session, and until I thought it had become a question of choice between educational efficiency and religious liberty. As to the Archbishop's declaration in regard to contracting out it was of the most limited nature, it was so received, and has no application to the present case. As regards contracting out, has the Board of Education seriously considered the cost of education in contracted-out schools? Certainly 47s. per child will not cover the cost of the education now given; it will be quite impossible on that amount, without great demands on the charity of their supporters, for the managers to keep up their schools to the standard of council schools, especially when they take into account that the salaries of the teachers are constantly increasing. Then there is the educational difficulty. By the Bill they will lose all the co-ordination which the present law allows, and questions arise as to the position of the voluntary schools in regard to medical inspection. Are these children to be excluded from this, and from any scheme of scholarships, or from the advantages of teaching in centres for cookery and the like? These are all matters on which we want some information. Then I would call attention to the hardship inflicted on those who have to keep up the contracted-out schools. They will have to pay the difference between 47s. and the cost of the maintenance of the schools which will come to at least 8s. a child, probably a good deal more, they will have to maintain the fabric of their buildings, and they will have to pay the rates for the council schools which will be maintained at a high level. That is to say 1483 they will have to pay very heavily for the religious teaching they desire their children to have and very heavily for giving to other children a religious teaching they do not desire to have for their own children. The Bill proposes to endow undenominationalism at the expense of the community. The taxpayer may pay for Anglican, Roman Catholic, Jewish, or Cowper-Temple teaching, but the ratepayer, whether he supports the denominational school or not, will have to pay for Cowper-Temple teaching. What is Cowper-Temple teaching? It is the teaching of those elements of our common Christianity which are determined to be such by the London County Council. May I ask if this is final, or whether the county council will be permitted from time to time to revise the common elements of our Christianity, and substitute other doctrines at its pleasure, according to the results of the last county council election? Are you quite sure that under the Bill the grievance of the passive resister will not arise in another form, that others may have consciences as well as your Nonconformist friends? The grievance of the passive resister was that possibly an infinitesimal portion of the rate which he paid might go to. pay for teaching the Church catechism to an Anglican child. You are now creating a grievance far more serious than this. I can see no genuine attempt in this Bill to deal with the educational difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman has justly described the Bill as the coming sword. It is a sword.
§ *SIR WILLIAM ANSON
If the right hon. Gentleman has been wrongly reported, I am sorry, but he was reported 1484 to have said so. It is a sword which may possibly turn against himself. Anyway, this Bill is not an educational, but a political Bill. It is designed to promote the interests of a political Party, and the right hon. Gentleman in legislation, I am afraid I must say as in administration, has used his power to do an injury to the religious life and educational efficiency of our country.
§ MR. McKENNA
I will not detain the House more than a few moments while I endeavour to reply to some of the observations which have fallen from the hon. Baronet. Let me, in the first place, express my gratitude to the House for the reception which, on the whole, the Bill has received. Of course, the subject with which it deals is a difficult one. If it were easy, it would have been settled long ago. I naturally expect criticism. It is bound to come from every side of the House, but I hope, during the course of the debates, we shall be able eventually to hit on the solution which will settle this question. The hon. Baronet, if he will allow me to say so, has really taken an entirely erroneous view. It is not proposed to put denominationalism on the taxes and Cowper-Templeism on the rates. What it is proposed to do is this. The voluntary schools will no longer be public elementary schools; they will be schools at which the attendance of children will be purely voluntary. The children will get such religious instruction in those schools as the parents wish for them. But outside the religious instruction there will be the secular instruction in the schools, and that secular instruction will be superintended by the Board of Education. Under the express terms of the Bill that secular instruction has got to be maintained at the same 1485 level as the secular instruction given in the public elementary schools. What the Government grant is to be used for is to pay for this secular instruction. I submit to the House that the grant now proposed is an ample grant for the maintenance of efficiency in these voluntary schools. I have been asked whether there will be any balance of fairness, and what will be the terms on which schools will be contracted out. They will not be contracted out. They will be voluntary schools under private management and control, but under the Bill provided they fulfil the conditions that apply to them, they will be entitled to receive the grant. The hon. Baronet asked about medical inspection. It will be conducted by the local authority. I am thankful to say there is no religious controversy about medical inspection, and there is no difficulty therefore in dealing with it through the local authority. The cost of medical inspection will, like the other cost of administration by the local authority, be borne by the local authority. The same may be said of other matters which were put to me by the hon. Baronet. In regard to scholarships, children coming from the voluntary schools will be as much entitled to obtain scholarships in the secondary schools as children coming from the public elementary schools. For all such purposes these voluntary schools will be treated a certified efficient schools entitled to all the benefits of certified efficient schools. With regard to scholarships, that is a matter which will be dealt with under the secondary school regulation, and I can assure the hon. Baronet that the elementary schools will receive the same treatment as the public elementary schools. Then he spoke about harsh treatment in the single school areas, 1486 and of the proposal to take these schools without payment of rent as confiscation. I can only say if I may use the word that that is a mere abuse of language. These schools are held under trusts, and the purposes of the trust have to be fulfilled. If the purpose of the trust are not fulfilled by the local education authority taking over the school, and giving the elementary education which the trust requires in that school, the trust would fail. Then the only course open to the trustees would be to apply for a new scheme. If the trustees of a trust like this which had failed in its purpose for want of funds were to apply to the Board or even to the Courts for anew scheme for carrying on that trust, the Board or the Courts would in all probability make a scheme exactly upon the lines of this Bill. That is to say, they would regard it as the nearest user of the trust which was obtainable, and offer the building to the local authority for educational purposes on five days of the week, and to reserve it for denominational purposes on the other two days of the week. This building has to be maintained in perpetuity, to be kept furnished, lighted warmed, and cleaned. Under the ordinary purposes of the trust as it is now executed no fuller denominational instruction is given than would be given under this Bill. If it is proposed to pay rent, to whom should it be paid? It is the local authority which is in part carrying on the purposes of the trust. It must be remembered that this scheme is only proposed in respect of what are known as tight trusts, trusts which are tied up for educational purposes, and in which, consequently, the educational purposes cannot be divorced from the general purposes of the trust. Privately 1487 owned schools can be transferred to the ocal authority or not, just as the private owner desires. If the local authority offered the private owner reasonable terms I presume the private owner would take them. If he is in a single-school district he can ask for terms. With regard to facilities in a single-school district, he can also insist on Cowper-Temple instruction always being given in that school. Every security is given to the owners of trusts other than tight trusts that they shall receive full rent such as they can agree on with the local authority for the use of their building. A, private owner can do what he like? with his building; he can sell or let it to the local authority for what rent he can get. There is no proposal to confiscate or appropriate anybody's property. Every private owner and the trustees of every non-tied trust school will be allowed to make such bargain as they think most suitable for themselves. The hon. Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool has stood in conjunction with the Bishop of Manchester in behalf of parental rights. This Bill, for the first time, recognises parental rights. It is to be a condition now, which it has never been before, that a voluntary school shall only be kept in being if the parents of the children wish. No parents hereafter are to be compelled to send their children to schools other than public elementary schools. That is the claim on behalf of the parents put forward now for the first time. I am sure that if that is accepted it will go a great way, if not altogether, to stifle the religious controversy. I cannot help thinking that much of the objection to this Bill arises from the fact, not that we are giving what is called contracting out, not that it is proposed to give generous 1488 terms to the voluntary schools, not that it is proposed to take the schools in the-single school parishes. The real objection I cannot help thinking, is that voluntary schools hereafter will have to be carried on in conformity with the wishes of the parents, and that no Church or Catholic or Jewish or denominational schools-of any kind can hope to continue in existence unless children of the particular-persuasion to which the school belongs-can be found to attend it. I do not wish to labour this point, but I am most anxious, particularly at this stage of the Bill, not to enter into any serious controversial matter, but I have been bound to make these few observations, and I beg now that the House will allow this-Bill to have a first reading.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. McKenna, Sir Henry Campbell-Banner-man, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Attorney-General, and Mr. Lough.