§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. RAWLINSON
said he did not oppose the Second Reading of this Bill altogether. He merely desired to draw attention to the provision relating to the time of dismissal of a master as being contrary to the ordinary practice of the common law and as being liable to lead to considerable inconvenience. He also desired to draw attention to Clause 2, which contained a peculiar provision stating that nothing in the Act should prejudice the operation or enforcement of any judgment pronounced or made before 1st April, 1908. Why had that date been chosen for the beginning of the Act? He suggested that it should be altered to the day of the passing of the Act.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (Mr. RUNCIMAN,) (Dewsbury)
said that he agreed with the points which had been put I by the hon. Member; but the Bill had been the result of agreement between the assistant and head masters' associations and others interested in endowed schools. The words mentioned 1363 were pressed for by the assistant schoolmasters, and the date mentioned was about the period when an agreement was fixed. He hoped the hon. Member would not press his objection. An agreement had been arrived at after long and intricate negotiations, and he would be vary sorry if it was disturbed.
§ MR. CAVE (Surrey, Kingston)
said the effect of the Bill was to alter the rights of parties, and it might be that somebody had brought an action on the basis of the existing law and had not got judgment. If that had been the case, he did not think the other party to the action should be prejudiced by legislation. The two associations were no doubt representative bodies; but they did not represent every member of the profession, and they ought to consider everybody when altering an Act of Parliament. He ventured to think that Clause 2 required careful consideration and possibly radical alteration. The Bill ought not to prejudice any judgment pronounced before it was passed, nor ought it to prejudice the rights of any parties who had already commenced proceedings.
§ MR. RUNCIMAN
thought he could reassure the hon. Gentleman. There had been no case in recent years under the existing law except that of the Marquess of Zetland.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON (Oxford University)
hoped the Bill would be allowed to pass before the adjournment. It was the result of the settlement of a long-standing difficulty arising out of the power of a new head master to dismiss without notice upon his appointment the whole of tin staff of a school. If the Bill was not passed, the trouble would be accentuated.
§ LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give careful consideration to the second clause. If the Bill was not 1364 designed to take away the rights of somebody who had already commenced an action at law, why was it not in the ordinary form? Such a clause, if it got into an Act of Parliament, was apt to become a precedent, and might be inserted in another Act where there was no excuse for it. It was not desirable to have this kind of clause unless there was some over-mastering reason.