§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. MCKENNA,) Monmouthshire, N.
I rise to move the Second 1677 Reading of this Bill. When introducing it last February, I endeavoured to give a full explanation of its provisions, and though it might be expected that the subject would be received with varying degrees of warmth, I cannot complain that its terms were misunderstood, nor, in the circumstances, did I think that it would have been necessary for me to trouble the House with a second speech, at any rate, at this stage of the debate. But it so happens that there has been a change which gives occasion for some preliminary statement, and by the wish of my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Education, the duty of making that statement falls to me. I am not referring to the change that has taken place in the office of the Presidency of the Board of Education. That is a matter of merely personal interest, and indicates no change whatever in the policy of the Government. But what I have in mind is what I think the House would like to have introduced into the debate in its earliest stage, and that is the consideration of the introduction in another place of the much discussed Bill of the Bishop of St. Asaph. The Bill introduced by the Bishop of St. Asaph cannot be treated as an ordinary Bill introuduced by an unofficial Member. If I were to criticize it on the ground of its incompleteness, of its technical defects, or of the impossibility of its application in its present form, I should be misunderstanding its purpose, and I should be failing to appreciate its importance in the present discussion. The Bishop of St. Asaph had a proposal to make, and he adopted the form of Parliamentary Bill in which to put it forward. His proposal related particularly to the schools connected with the Church of England. He introduced it in another place in a very clear and comprehensive speech—in a very remarkable, weighty, and if I may say so, most courageous speech. The Arch-bishop of Canterbury lent his countenance to the Bishop's Bill. That such a proposal was made and supported must be taken into the gravest consideration by the Government, and its relation to their own proposal fairly estimated. The essential matters in which the Bishop of St. Asaph's Bill follows that of the Government have to be taken into account. Their di- 1678 vergencies have to be examined and their importance weighed. It will be found, I think, that, in essentials, the Bishop's Bill follows very closely the lines of the Government measure, and, in consequence the very fact of the introduction of this Bill gives great encouragement to those who support the Government in their earnest desire to obtain a lasting settlement of this controversy.
The Bill of which I now move the Second Reading embodies the Government plan in carrying out two cardinal principles in our educational system—the first that the public elementary schools of the country are to be placed under public control, and the second that there is to be no religious test on the appointment of the teachers. These are principles on which the Government insist, and they can admit of no modification of the Bill which would destroy those principles or which, by whittling them away, would turn fundamental principles into mere false pretences. The method adopted by the Government for establishing those principles is a simple one. It is proposed that only one type of public elementary school shall be recognized in the future. Such a school will receive both State aid and rate aid. It will be placed entirely under the control and management of the local representative authority. The teachers in these schools will be appointed without religious tests, and no child not otherwise being educated will be compelled to attend any school except a public elementary school of the kind I have described. The religious instruction given in such schools will be of the kind to which we have been accustomed in this country ever since Mr. Forster's Act was passed in 1870. Such are the fundamental provisions of the Government Bill, and so far the Bill of the Bishop of St. Asaph has been textually copied from the Government measure. It is obvious, therefore, that, if the Bishop's Bill can receive the same amount of support on that side of the House as the Government measure has received upon this, there is every ground for hopping that a satisfactory settlement may be attained on lines agreeable to all sections of the House. I have stated the first and cardinal 1679 provisions of the Government Bill. I pass to the later clauses, in which an endeavour is made to provide for those classes of the community to whom a short and simple settlement of the kind I have indicated would prove unsatisfactory. I hope the House will pardon me taking a somewhat unusual course. I am not attempting at the moment to defend the details of the Government Bill. There will be a further opportunity of doing so should it be considered necessary in the course of this debate. What I am endeavouring to do is to state in the shortest and simplest form the actual provisions of the Bill, and in particular to show the relation between these provisions and the provisions of the Bill introduced by a bishop of the Church of England; and I ask the House to go with me so far as to say that if either of these two Bills is acceptable, and if I show that the differences between them are so slight or at any rate are of such a kind as ought not to be incapable of adjustment, then the House may be fairly asked to give a Second Reading to the Government measure with the hope and anticipation that such an adjustment may be found before the Committee Stage is reached. Now it is in dealing with the existing denominational schools that the Bill of the Bishop of St. Asaph diverges from that of the Government, though here again the divergence is less serious than may appear at first sight. The Government have proposed to deal with denominational schools in three different ways. In the first place, in single-school areas it is proposed that the managers of existing denominational schools may make it a condition of transfer of their buildings to the local authority that Cowper-Temple instruction of a certain definite kind shall always be given in their schools and that facilities for giving denominational instruction shall be allowed. The second method adopted for dealing with denominational schools is to provide that Parliamentary grants, though not rate aid, may be given to schools not in single-school areas which conform to all the requirements of the Board of Education as regards educational efficiency, but the managers of which do not desire to bring their schools under the conditions governing public elementary schools. The third 1680 provision is applicable to schools in other than single-school areas, according to which the managers of denominational schools may make it a condition of the transfer of their schools that Cowper-Temple instruction of a definite kind shall continue to be given in the school. Under the Bishop of St. Asaph's Bill no distinction is made between single-school areas and other areas. Facilities for giving denominational instruction on a more extended scale are proposed for all schools, and there is no provision for allowing any school to receive the Parliamentary grant but without rate aid. The only schools recognised in the Bishop's Bill are the public elementary schools, thus cutting out from public assistance of every kind those schools in which the maintenance of a religious atmosphere is regarded as essential to their existence. I understand, however, that in introducing his Bill the Bishop of St. Asaph admitted its incompleteness in this respect, and was prepared to make provision for schools of a homogeneous religious type, such as those connected with the Roman Catholic faith and the Jewish faith. It may, therefore, be said, using the current jargon on this subject, that in the Government measure and in the Bill of the Bishop of St. Asaph it is proposed alike to use facilities and contracting-out as the means for dealing with the existing denominational schools. In the Government Bill facilities are confined to the single-school areas, and contracting-out is allowed in all areas other than single-school areas. Under the Bishop's Bill, not as introduced but as explained by him, facilities are to be made universal, and some provision is offered for the contracting-out. Thus it will be seen that the only point of difference between the two measures is this—How much facilities are to be allowed in the public elementary schools and how much contracting-out is to be allowed, the extent and the kind of facilities, the conditions and the grant on contracting-out? Thus in fundamentals, in essentials—that is to say, in the constitution of one type of public elementary school—the two Bills are identical. They differ only on the question of the degree in which facilities and contracting-out will hereafter be allowed. 1681 Now, I cannot help thinking that, the conditions being such as I have stated, if the spirit of partisan controversy can be allayed and a single eye be kept on the efficiency of education in this country, it ought not to be impossible for this House to come to an agreement to procure a lasting settlement. The chief criticism directed against she Government Bill has turned upon contracting-out. I may say at once that on educational grounds the Government have no partiality for that expedient. It was included in the Bill as a concession to denominationalist feeling, and I am bound to say that I see no other practicable method of dealing with those schools in which it is proposed to submit the teachers to a religious test upon their appointment. It is not open to the Government, however, in putting forward their proposals, to deal with the various denominations in this country otherwise than upon a footing of exact equality; but when a proposal is made by a distinguished member of the Church of England of episcopal rank, and that proposal receives encouragement and support from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the way is made easier for the Government, at any rate in dealing with schools connected with the Church of England, and they feel themselves more at liberty to consider proposals under which schools of a distinct homogeneous religious type of the kind to which I have already referred are proposed to be dealt with on a footing distinct from the conditions applicable to the denominational schools through the country as a whole. On educational grounds, as I have said, the method of facilities adopted by the Government in single-school areas is undeniably preferable to the method of contracting-out, and the Government would rather deal with the denominational claims by way of facilities, as proposed by the Bishop of St. Asaph, than by way of contracting-out, provided—and this is very material—that such procedure is acceptable to the denominations, that the facilities are of a kind which are administratively practicable, and, further, that they could not be so used as to constitute a religious test on the appointment of the teacher. It is notorious that a settlement on the basis of religious facilities 1682 is repugnant to certain religious communities in our midst, for whom alone under the suggested arrangement the alternative method of contracting-out would have to be maintained. Rate aid, which is a principle of the Government Bill and of the Bill of the Bishop of St. Asaph alike, cannot be given except under conditions of public control; but in the schools connected with the religious bodies to which I have referred public control is impossible so long as the appointment of the teachers is to be limited to those persons who are connected with the religious faith of the trustees or founders of the schools. It has been claimed on behalf of the parents of the children attending the strictly denominational schools that they are alike taxpayers and ratepayers, and that they are, therefore, entitled to a full share of the expenditure of their schools out of taxes as well as rates. Without touching upon the religious side of the argument, a moment's consideration of the question will show the unfairness of this claim. It would amount to this—that teachers who professed themselves to be of a particular faith were to be entitled to exclusive appointment in schools connected with that faith, while they were to have equal liberty with all other teachers as regards appointments in all the public schools of the country. It is obvious that to grant such a claim would be giving a very unfair advantage to those persons who profess themselves as of a particular faith. It would, moreover, be educationally harmful, inasmuch as the teachers in the schools would be appointed, not necessarily on the ground of their efficiency in teaching, but because of their religious professions. I am unable to see how equal justice can be done to the teachers and to the public unless we follow the plan adopted in 1870, and continued by the right hon. Gentleman opposite in his Act of 1902, so far as the provision of the building is concerned, whereby the supporters of denominational schools are bound to contribute some special part of the cost of the maintenance of those schools, while the Parliamentary grant is confined to meeting so much of the cost of maintenance as may be directly 1683 due to the giving of the secular instruction in the schools. In the Bill of the Bishop of St. Asaph the difficult is got over by ignoring it. The Government can see no way out of the difficulty except by following the plan of the Act of 1870, though with a very heavily increased grant, which would at once secure greater efficiency in the contracting-out schools and be a guarantee that no undue burden was thrown upon their supporters. For those who desire a settlement I believe all the elements of a possible arrangement are to be found in the present Bill. I am convinced that the great body of the public, and the large majority of the Members of this House, are anxious for peace, and that if a spirit of practicability and common sense is allowed to have its way, a satisfactory settlement can be obtained. I cannot hope for agreement with those, if there be any, who choose to regard the education question merely as a factor in some fine-spun scheme of political strategy, who wish to keep the question alive in order to promote party interests or the interests of a particular section of their party. If there be any such views held by any responsible persons in either House, I can only say that with them agreement is impossible. The Government do not propose to proceed in any such way. Every suggestion will be fairly considered on its merits, and such proposals as are generally acceptable will be grafted on the framework of the Government Bill, if evidence is forth-coming that the acceptance of such suggestions will lead to lasting peace. I recognise that those who have a paper plan of their own, or others who may desire to exercise their dialectial skill in finding objections to every definite proposal which does not conform to some plausible but wholly impracticable theory, will have no difficulty in keeping the controversy alive. I observe on the Order Paper a number of Amendments proposing to reject this Bill because, as is alleged, not sufficient recognition is given to the rights of parents. The argument in support of parent's rights has a beautiful and seductive simplicity. It is said that if the State takes upon itself to give religious instruction to children, it should only give such instruction as may be acceptable to the parents. 1684 But how in practice can that theory have practical effect given to it? I submit to the judgment of this House that that theory has been best adapted and put into the only possible practical use by the method adopted by Mr. Forster in 1870. It is not within the practical possibilities of school life that every parent can have such religious instruction as he likes given to his own child. If that is once granted, it is obvious that the only method of procedure must be to find, if you can, some form of religious instruction which, though not giving all that everyone might choose, is nevertheless of a kind which is generally acceptable to the great bulk of the people of this country. After thirty-eight years of experience we have found that Cowper-Temple instruction is of that kind; and though I readily admit that a great many parents would wish to have more religious instruction given, and that there is a minority of parents who would wish this instruction not to be given at all, it is a fact that this particular kind of instruction does satisfy or is acceptable to the great majority of the parents. Then the only other liberty you can give to the parent is that of withdrawing his child from such instruction if he does not wish him to receive it. I think that the great bulk of the parents wish to see their children receive religious instruction based upon the reading of the Scriptures and the moral instruction which can be derived from their exposition. But I certainly fear that if the people of this country found themselves unable to get peace in the schools upon the basis of the religious instruction which I have described, they would rather remove religious instruction altogether from State responsibility. [OPPOSITION cries of "No."] If peace can be obtained, I believe that religious instruction in our schools will be secured. Failing such peace, I fear that this House will be driving our nation directly on to the end of purely secular instruction in public elementary schools. [OPPOSITION cries of "No."] I have avoided as far as possible any reference to Nonconformist grievances or denominational claims I have not sought to go over old ground, though I recognise that the old ground will have to be discussed in the course of this debate. I have only sought to 1685 make some few preliminary observations, summarising as far as I could the situation which has been created by the introduction of a Bill in another place almost immediately upon the top of the Bill introduced by the Government. My sole endeavour has been to use only such language and to refer only to such matters as might tend to the promotion of peace. Those who wish to find fault with me—and I have no doubt there will be a great many—will complain that I have not made a full and elaborate defence of the precise terms of the Government Bill; they will say also that I have not made any clear and definite statement as to the Government policy. With regard to the first objection, I can only say that it is not always necessary, particularly when a Bill has been fully explained on its first introduction, to give a second elaborate explanation on introducing the Second Reading. I go further and say that such an explanation would have been out of place at this moment, when it is my obvious duty to say nothing which would obscure the statement of the Government's general desire for a settlement. But with regard to the second point which I know will be alleged against me, that I have not given any clear and precise outline of the Government policy, I can at once say that the Government propose to ask the House to give a Second Reading to this Bill. If, after the Second Reading, an agreement can be come to satisfactory to the House in general, and that agreement can be incorporated in Amendments to the Government Bill, these Amendments will be most carefully considered, and, as far as possible, they will be grafted upon the framework of the Government measure. Surely there are grounds for hoping that an agreement or adjustment of our difficulties is not impossible; but failing such an agreement the Government propose to proceed with their existing Bill as it stands. That I trust is a sufficiently clear and definite statement of our policy. I hope the House will be able to come to such an arrangement as will make the future stages of this matter a matter of agreement and not of controversy. It is, I repeat, the most earnest desire of the Government that a settlement should be arranged. It is the one condition on which the educational 1686 policy of the country can go forward with the hope of securing educational efficiency. It is not, I hope, too sanguine to believe that since the First Reading of this Bill the atmosphere has grown favourable to peace. Authoritative voices have been heard in both camps expressing an earnest desire that an end should be made of this quarrel. There are other counsellors, I know, who say that Parliaments are fleeting things, that the time can be tided over, that they have only to present a stubborn front to keep all that they have in perpetuity, but that is a political speculation which, even if well-founded, entirely underrates the objections taken to the present law. It matters not what Government is in power: great interests at stake in this country, religious as well as political, must steadily lose if by resisting a settlement we prolong strife. It cannot be a gain to the Church of England that she should successfully assert a privilege which inflicts a rankling sense of injustice on those who are not of her communion. On this line she stakes not only her own interest but the whole cause of religious education and resists the forces and tendencies which must more and more prevail as time goes on. If I may give the House a text for discussion on this subject, it would be in the words of Burke: "I will not" said he "enter into the question how much truth is preferable to peace. Perhaps truth may be far better, but, as we can scarcely have the same certainty in the one as we have in the other, I would, unless the truth be evident indeed, hold fast to peace which has in her company charity—the highest of the virtues."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. McKenna.)
§ LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)
moved that the Bill be read upon this day six months. He said the right hon. Gentleman had not attempted to defend the Bill before the House. They had been told that there was no change whatever in the policy of the Government, and the main portion of the right, hon. Gentleman's speech had been devoted to a series of nebulous discussions about Amendments which might or might not 1687 be moved, and which might or might not be accepted in the Bill introduced in another place—a Bill which had not received a Second Reading there. They ought to limit themselves at this stage, at any rate, to the general discussion of the Bill before the House. The right hon. Gentleman had assured the House that the policy and principles of the Bill remained unchanged. He was glad of that, because, he presumed, it involved the withdrawal on the part of the right hon. Gentleman of a rather daring phrase he used a few months ago about a sword. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that he had absolutely ignored front beginning to end the fact that this Bill, quite apart from any religious difficulties, had raised a storm of indignation from the purely educational point of view. They were told by the Prime Minister that this Bill was to be brief, simple, and drastic. Drastic was a word well chosen, but brevity was not inherent in a Bill which was going to arouse and exacerbate religious strife, and simplicity would certainly not be found in the Bill which was going to strike a blow at the very heart of educational efficiency. He would ask the House to allow him to deal with the Bi.1 before the House. He had not a copy of the Bishop of St. Asaph's Bill. The truth was that they could not discuss the two Bills concurrently, because they were far more divergent than the right hon. Gentleman would wish them to suppose. The Bill before the House was the only thing which on this occasion they had a right to discuss. The Bill was dual in its aspect. In the first place there was its effect upon secular education, which could not be other than widespread. It introduced, for no special reason which he could detect, a wholly new financial system foreign to the structure of the Bill, which must require and receive elaborate discussion by itself. Of course, the animating motive of the measure was no doubt the religious difficulty so-called. He was ready to admit that this difficulty existed in single-school areas whether that area was in a country village or in the town, but when all was said and done, every practical man knew that this difficulty existed more on the platform than in the school itself. It was prac- 1688 tically unknown in the vast majority of the schools. He admitted, however, that to measure the grievance was not easy. He thought that the history of the grant of £100,000 made last year gave a rough and ready system upon which they could test the prevalence of the difficulty. The House would remember that in February last year the £100,000 grant was announced. By the end of March—that was the end of the past financial year—in England, only thirteen counties out of forty-one made application to receive a grant of this money to solve the single-school area difficulty, and not 2 per cent. of the parishes in England and Wales had proved their appreciation of this difficulty by asking the Exchequer for a free grant of money to set it right. In England up to 31st March last, all the applications had been refused except nine, while in Wales more than half of the applications made had already been refused. Devonshire with 300 single school areas, Lincolnshire with 380 single-school areas, and Norfolk with 460 tingle-school areas, up to 31st March had made no application for a share of the fund. Of course, he knew that applications would come in. In these parishes new schools were being erected next door to them out of Government money, and it might be readily understood that they would desire to share in the bounty of the Exchequer. He had himself thought that £100,000 was insufficient, but the result had shown that the Board of Education made a good forecast and had analysed the difficulty successfully, and to that extent he was wrong. This Bill was not going to solve the single-school area difficulty, especially when it was concurrent with a tax upon the training colleges and the harsh administrative measures of the Board. If they wanted to solve the single-school parish difficulty they would have to analyse, or rather revise the analysis of the agreements. He would take an illustration in connection with the £100,000. It was meant purely for the single-school area and was limited to them. In the county of Norfolk, the number of single school parishes was almost identical with the number in the whole of Wales. Wales had sent in over sixty applications, while 1689 Norfolk had sent in none. Historical and political causes accounted largely for the disparity, but there was another cause which they were all too apt to overlook. That was the cause involved in the parish itself. The Non-conformists living in a single-school area where there was a church school had no grievance whatever if an alternative school for the child of the Nonconformist existed within a reasonable distance. Mileage was the test, and that had nothing to do with the area. The single-school child was the difficulty, and not, as indicated in this Bill, the single-school parish. While people for one cause or another magnified the single-school parish aspect of the difficulty, they overlooked the fact that the multiplication of the schools in the proximity of any residence was in itself solving thousands of those individual cases. As it had been unified, nationalised, they had got a wider outlook on education. Its efficiency had been increased enormously, and the whole tendency had been to minimise these small parochial responsibilities, and to make an educational rather than a parochial area. The parochial area was not the boundary of the parish, which was determined by old dynastic, historical, geographical, and geological considerations or by a watershed. It was an area which was irrelevant to the question of education altogether, and, as such, ought to be abandoned. What did the Bill do? Its first weak point, from an educational point of view, was that it was based upon the parish as such; on a small and irrelevant unit. The parish became the unit again under conditions of special hardship and cruelty. He would refer to the transfer of the school in the single school parish. The average rural school was to be transferred bodily to the local education authority. If that was compared with Clause 3 of the Bill of 1906, it was obvious that the stringency and severity of the present Bill far exceeded anything proposed two years ago. If that clause were insisted upon the Board of Education would make a grant of property which did not belong to it. It made itself judge, jury, and beneficiary as well. Property worth millions of money would be confiscated. The Board of Education would determine 1690 the nature of a trust without the possibility of appeal. The Board of Education in the last eighteen months had no longer been quite impartial in the interpretation either of its administrative or of its judicial duties. The facilities offered were wholly illusory. After school hours the teacher was not allowed to give the scholars religious instruction. In fact religious instruction was treated like an extra and pushed outside like music or calisthenics or any other extra. Finally the managers were excluded from the schools during the week day evenings. They had no right to go into them, although everybody knew that clubs, concerts, lectures, and all kinds of classes went on in those schools night after night throughout the year. In future the managers were not to have the right to use the schools on the first five days of the week; but not only that, the local education authority would be entitled to charge rent for confirmation classes on Monday and Tuesday evenings. That was absurd; it was needlessly harsh; so much so that he assumed that this had been merely thrown into the Bill at the last moment in order to provide an opportunity of making a graceful concession later on. Of course, it was said that on Saturdays and Sundays the managers might have, as a favour, the use of the buildings when the local education authority did not want them. Well, that was a fictitious consideration for the immense benefits which the Board of Education and the local education authority were going to secure. Grave injustice would be done under this system of transfer. There was a school in Surrey just built at a cost of £2,500—a Church school. He believed there was scarcely a Nonconformist child of school age in the parish. That Church school was going to be handed over on the appointed day to the local education authority. There was a similar case in his own constituency. It was difficult to justify such a course as that. Even if the religious difficulty were settled, it was impossible to justify such a course of procedure. They knew perfectly well not only that they were not going to settle the religious difficulty, but that they would produce all other kinds of difficulties as well. Then as to the financial aspect of the 1691 question, there were hardships and great anomalies under this Bill. A wholly new system was being devised. As he had said before, it was alien to the Primary object of the Bill, and ought to be separately discussed. If the House would allow him he would quote a phrase from the speech from the First Lord of the Admiralty on the new system of the distribution of the grant. The right hon. Gentleman said that—After prolonged examination he had come to the conclusion that the only certain factor which he could find at the present time for the new grant was the expenditure for buildings.Now, that factor, as he called it, was absolutely honeycombed by anomalies. Let the House consider the disparities that already existed. In Hornsey the annual charge per child for maintenance, sinking fund, and interest on buildings was 30s. a year. In Durham it was 1s. 3d. That showed that the building grant was not a certain factor; and if the new system of grants was based on so uncertain a factor as that, it was inevitable that inequality of payments would be produced. The new statement just issued reflected that unequal incidence; and he had no doubt that many local authorities, certainly many in the North, would receive it with dismay, because it showed how badly they would be used under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. West Ham, which he thought was the kind of place that ought to have a grant under any revised system, would receive only one-third of a penny in the £. Tottenham would get only one-tenth of a penny in the £. But Ebbvale, an urban district in Wales, instead of receiving one-tenth of a penny, would receive eighty times as much, or 8½d. in the £. The right hon. Gentleman said that the scheme was temporary, but with absurdities of that kind it could be nothing else. But a far more serious question was that of contracting out. It was a tax on efficiency, co-ordination, inspection, and organisation, of which the First Lord of the Admiralty seemed to be utterly unconscious. It was perfectly fatal to all the good work which had been built up since 1902. Again, public control, the right hon. Gentleman had told them, was one of the principles of the Government to which 1692 they wanted to adhere. Did the House realize that the more successful contracting out was under this Bill the greater would be the reduction of public control under the Act of 1902? Everybody remembered the justification given for it by the Chief Secretary for Ireland and that all the objections to it were fudge, fustian, and so forth. The Secretary to the Local Government Board was equally emphatic. But now, hon. and right hon. Gentleman opposite said that the public control established under the Act of 1902 was only inadequate in amount. He would not argue that now. But what had it done in the past five years? It had formed public opinion: it had enlisted and trained all over the country a great number of zealous, hard-working people in the cause of education; it had created enthusiasm where apathy had existed before. In short, it had raised the standard of elementary education. So far as the contracted-out schools were concerned they would sweep all that away and destroy it entirely. The second principle to which the right hon. Gentleman proclaimed his adherence was that there must be no tests for teachers. In the first place, as regarded the actual teaching and the facilities to be given in the transferred schools, he did not understand why the teacher was not allowed to teach on the ordinary week-day while he was allowed to volunteer to teach on Saturday. Why not allow him to volunteer on Monday and Tuesday as well? As regarded the status of the teacher as an official, the Government saw the danger which threatened them. They had, therefore, inserted Clause 4, subsection (1) which took over the teacher on the transfer of the school. That was right. But subsection (2) said that if a man lost his place he was to be entitled to contribute for twelve months to the Annuity Fund. That, again was like the clause about the user of the schools in the evening: it was harsh, absurd, and in equitable. That clause must go or be modified later on. But what about the teacher in the contracted-out school? On that point the National Union of Teachers objected very strongly from the point of view of the teacher. An hon. Member of the House, now a Member of 1693 the Government, speaking two years ago said—The proposal now brought forward by a Liberal Government was to push them (that was the State-aided schools) outside, and the parson was once more to become the one-man manager, and the teacher was to be appointed under religious tests. He was elected to see that religious tests were abolished in the case of teachers; and he was going to get them abolished.Another hon. Member opposite, also a Member of the Government, speaking on this Bill said—Unless we can have clearly placed before us in the provisions of the Bill a definite assertion that these provided schools should spend a similar amount per child and pay their teachers at a similar rate to the provided schools, I shall oppose this contracting out.Since those speeches both these hon. Gentlemen had become Members of the Government. The teachers could not be assured that they would receive the same salaries, unless, of course, the charge of 47s. per child was included. Under the Bill as it stood, and the way the grant was determined, no guarantee could be given to the teacher that if he lost his place he would get an alternative place, nothing could prevent managers reducing his salary, his expenses, varying his duties or terminating his engagement. He was sorry for the teachers. He regarded them as the most efficient instrument of education, and thought they deserved better things. The whole difficulty was caused by this madcap scheme of universal contracting out. In 1902 there were three schemes of contracting-out, which were all limited, all wholly exceptional. The hon. Member for the Glasgow University proposed the first of these, and its object was good. It was educational diversity, elasticity of system, variety of schools. It was not an alternative to Clauses 3 and 4, but concurrent with them. It was exceptional. His hon. friend denied that he wanted a general dispensation, and they all knew cases where special local circumstances would make such a scheme useful. One hon. Member who put it very happily, although he opposed the Amendment, said—That which might be a positive tonic and a necessity in a small degree or on rare occasions might become something like an educational poison if it were used in all parts of the country.1694 Then there was the proposal of the hon. Member for Preston, who suggested that if the managers found they were rich enough to do without State aid, they should be able to contract-out. That scheme was also exceptional, and also largely limited, but it was condemned as absurd and preposterous by the hon. Member for North Camberwell, the present Secretary to the Admiralty. The present Chief Secretary also made some rather illuminating remarks on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman said—He could not regard without dismay anything approaching a general adoption in this country, as an alternative to our State and rate-aided schools, a kind of school which must be inferior, and his hon. friend would not, he suspected, be much surprised that he could not accept the Amendment.But the right hon. Gentleman himself made a contracting-out proposal. That proposal was also very limited and compulsory on Clause 4. It first gave certain circumstances to justly it, and no case was to be permitted without the sanction of his Department. The Government was not enamoured of its scheme, and the right hon. Gentleman called it a melancholy necessity. But the objections to his own scheme were fairly obvious to the right hon. Gentleman. Again, the hon. Member for Camberwell was amazed that the Government should bring forward such a proposal, whilst the right hon. Gentleman himself said—He quite understood the objection on principle, which every educationist must entertain to schools standing out of the national system, but this was an exception grafted on an exception.The new proposal was not exceptional. It was a proposal that where people in single school areas desired to maintain religious instruction, they were to be able to do so. It was inextricably mixed up with every kind of question of use, of teachers, public control, and so on. This was a portion of the scheme which had not found a single defender either in the House or outside; a scheme which at least they expected the Board of Education was going to explain and defend. The National Union of Teachers expressed fifty things against this scheme before expressing a favourable opinion on the other features of the Education 1695 Bill. Contracting-out was the mainspring of the measure. It was put into satisfy a certain class of the community. It dodged the difficulty, and was a reactionary proposal. Nobody had a right to contract out under the repealed clause. The Board of Education reserved to itself the right to impose any kind of condition before the school was allowed to contract-out. One difficulty of contracting-out was the paucity of the money to be allowed. What was the average cost now per child in the non-provided schools? One Member of the Treasury Bench, on the introduction of the Bill, said 50s., but that figure was much too low. The Secretary to the Admiralty in 1906 had taken out the figures very carefully. The hon. Gentleman then said—He would give figures to show how absurd the proposal was. The proposal had evidently been made in the interests of Catholic schools, therefore he would take the figures of the Catholic schools in three districts. In Manchester the children at such schools cost £4 4s. each, and of that only £1 19s. 7½d. came from the Government grant. Was it conceivable that the poor Roman Catholics of Manchester could raise voluntarily the sum of £2 4s. 4½d. per child, which with the Government grant would be the sum necessary to maintain these schools at their present level of efficiency. Similarly in Southampton each child cost £4 6s. 11d., and only £1 19s. 9d. was contributed by the Government; and in Bristol each child cost £3 12s. 1d., of which only £2 0s.6½d. came from the grant. The House would thus see how much the supporters of these schools would have to raise from voluntary contributions. It would be absolutely impossible for people interested to maintain their schools efficiently with the present Government grants. The proposal was perfectly preposterous, and its solo effect would be the shutting of the schools.That was to say, in 1906 the hon. Gentleman estimated the cost of efficiency of each child in the Roman Catholic schools to the Roman Catholics as 44s.; in Southampton, 46s.; and in Bristol, 32s. a year. The figures of the London County Council, as issued in their Paper on 28th March last, were these—The average cost of non-provided schools is £3 16s. 8d. per child, or 29s. 8d. above the 47s., the possible grant under the Bill. The figure £3 16s. 8d. per child is for London only, and is the gross expenditure other than administrative and general charges to the Council. This figure, however, does not include manager's charges, and it has no regard to the fact that teachers' salaries are on a rising scale.1696 In London 30s. was the average. In Lancashire it was rather less, but the average cost throughout the country was 61s. a year. There was a Church school in South London, called St. John's, in the parish of Camberwell. To maintain that school in its present state of efficiency the managers would have to make an addition to the grant of 40s. per child of no less than £1,350 a year, which would amount to probably 37s. per child. He also found, from a calculation made for Lancashire by the Manchester Guardian, that it was estimated that the Roman Catholics would have to raise £10,000; the Roman Catholics of Liverpool would have to raise rather more, and those of Southwark £50,000 a year. What was there to meet that? There was 47s. per child. But that 47s. was the maximum. No minimum was fixed in the Bill. There was no guarantee that every school will get 47s. The President of the Board of Education might make it 40s. or 30s., or he would be entitled to refuse it altogether. But fees up to 9d. a week might be charged, whilst concurrently rates would have to be paid, of which the man who paid fees ex hypothesi disapproved. That was the actual cost, but what about the prospective cost? Mr. Forster said a three penny rate would be enough. The cost had increased largely. The strain in and about the year 1902 was not more than 10s. or 12s. a child, but since then it had increased enormously, and it was going further to increase at once. The tendency of the Board of Education to enlarge accommodation from 8 to 10 feet per child would raise the cost enormously. Then the endowments and so on which might have met this cost were already very largely pledged. The county council said that many of these voluntary schools had already drawn upon their endowments in order to bring their buildings up to the standard required by the council. These schools had raised mortgages upon their buildings, incurring an annual charge, not only for sinking fund, but for interest for the same purpose, the enlarged buildings of course involving increased cost. Then the House must not forget that before the appointed day under this Bill hundreds and probably thousands of voluntary schools would have to surrender to the 1697 local education authority all the plant, furniture, and equipment which had been raised since 1902 at a cost of thousands of pounds, and the managers would be left with empty schools. Salaries were higher. They were still rising. Classes, for a very good reason, were being reduced in size; consequently, a bigger staff was required. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends were asking them to go back to the 'nineties when education was starved and inefficient. He would quote a member of the Government on that very point—Where is the money to come from? It means in quite small schools £400 or £500 a year. It goes back to the system we have heard denounced again and again in the House, of supporting national education by the old-fashioned system of bazaars and jumble sales, the unclean combination of jugglery and charity.He implored the House to remember that this was not merely a question of finance. The unity of our system, the homogeneity of our schools, inspection, organisation, everything which could be brought within the purview of the word "inefficiency" was involved in this system of contracting-out. Let the House take the inspection of schools. Was there a single Member familiar with educational questions, personally and practically, who could say that the inspection of the contracted-out school would be the same as the inspection of a county school? Of course not. It was impossible, and was put in a very terse way by the President of the National Union of Teachers when he said the other day that the hope that the inspection would remain at its present standard was illusory. The experience of the past was that this was not likely to be the case. "You cannot attain equal educational efficiency without equal funds." What was the effect going to be upon organisation? There were two kinds of coordination between various grades of schools and between various schools on the same grade. He did not mean to refer to the former, but Lord Stanley of Alderley had written an article recently in the Fortnightly Review, in which he said that under the Bill hopeless, 1698 inextricable confusion would be caused in the present system of dealing with scholarships, with pupil teachers, with examinations, with reports, with inspection, and with teachers salaries. The Government was spoiling the ladder which had been laboriously erected since 1902. The individual school was too small for all the purposes of education. The people who were working education in the country—the educationists he meant, and not the politicians—had long ago realised that the single school was too small an entity, and therefore they had co-ordination between these individual schools. The whole system of that co-ordination was at stake. What about the supply teacher under the contracted-out school system? What about the peripatetic teacher, the man who taught a special subject—physical drill, cookery, hygiene—what was to happen to him? And the correlative, the centre, the collective institutes, for grouped or joint teaching—what was to happen to them? These buildings could not be multiplied. Costly and very special plant for carpentry, swimming, gymnasia and play centres—all this was threatened under the Bill. All these advantages were to be denied to the children in contracted-out schools, and moreover, he begged the House to remember that the movement was only five years old. It was in its infancy. It was treated with grave suspicion at first. The cost was grudged. But people understood it now, and because they understood it they appreciated it. This was not merely threatened. It would be absolutely stopped under the scheme of the Government. Contracted-out schools could not afford these luxuries. Children in contracted-out schools could not use the play centres or the gymnasium or the peripatetic teacher belonging to the local authority, because that would involve assistance from the sacrosanct rates. That was what they stood to lose. The whole thing was pitched upon the Table of the House in a light-hearted, almost in a wanton manner. They had got a unified and a national system. They were offered a dualised system. The present system might have shortcomings The new system was going to have undeniable 1699 and unquestionable shortcomings. The London County Council Report said—The whole tendency in the future will be to gravitate towards the minimum standard of efficiency. We are abandoning our efforts.The hon. Member for West Ham wished him to quote him. He said—It 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.He did not mind who got the credit of destroying this scheme. If the Prime Minister would withdraw it he would promise not to make too close inquiries into a much more pertinent, point viz., who was responsible for its conception. The Bill ought to be withdrawn, as the colleague of the Prime Minister had stated, and it ought to be frankly withdrawn. It could not be amended. It had been drawn so as to preclude the possibility of amendment. It was a repealing Act. It was negative in its scope. Every operative clause in the Bill began with the word "unless." Payment covered everything, and everything, vice versa, was governed by payment. The title of the Bill was to regulate the conditions upon which public money could be applied. It was purely a conditional Bill. It was impossible to graft a constructive educational scheme upon a purely conditional measure. Moreover, they could not omit the contracting-out clauses. If they did there was nothing left but the supplementary provisions and the repeal of the Defaulting Authorities Act which, under the right hon. Gentleman, was in operation to-day. Contracting-out was the essence of the Bill, and he hoped the Government would withdraw it as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board had suggested. He found it difficult to believe that the scheme was seriously put before the House. It could not solve the religious difficulty where it now existed, and it was bound to create religious difficulty where none existed to-day. The solution was never going to be found in making the Cowper-Temple system of teaching the sole permanent element, rate-aided, State-aided, preponderant, established, and endowed. Neither would they find the solution of this difficulty in any Bill which had running through every line the fault that it denied equal opportunities for 1700 secular instruction. Such a Bill as that could not pass. It had no driving power. It excited no enthusiasm. There were not fifty men on that side of the House who were convinced supporters of the scheme. He was sure of that, and he was perfectly certain that outside the House there were not twenty. They all knew that the worst enemies of the Bill sat upon the Treasury Bench. The Government seemed to him to be living in a world of unrealities. They had to justify their position. They had to explain the Bill if they seriously meant the House of Commons to give a Second Reading to it. In order to raise a clear and concrete issue upon a point of this vital importance he begged to move that the Bill he read a second time that day six months.
To leave out the word 'now' and at the end of the question to add the words this day six months.'"—(Lord Balcarres).
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Quetion.'"
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
I do not know whether the Members of the Government will regard the tone of the speech of the hon. Member as indicating any approach towards that concordat of which we have heard so much.
§ LORD BALCARRES
May I explain? I do not understand what the concordat is; it was not indicated by anything that came from Government Benches. I limited myself purely to the discussion of the Bill before the House.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
The conclusion at which I will arrive will, I am afraid, be practically the same as that of the noble Lord, but I hope I may be able to address myself to the matter in a somewhat more conciliatory tone. My colleagues upon these benches and I have been looking forward with the greatest possible interest to this debate. We have all along been anxious for conciliation and for settlement. I may say there were none of us who did not deeply regret the final disappearance of the Bill of 1906. And although in that Bill all those interests we represent did not obtain everything they were entitled to 1701 still, on the ground of compromise, of what was likely to bring about a national settlement and keep our schools in the national system, we came to an agreement as to the Bill, and we deeply regretted that the settlement broke down. And to-day, we are as anxious as any men in or out of the House, whatever may be their party or creed, that a settlement should be arrived at which would give us some certainty for the future, and keep our schools inside the national system. That position is perfectly natural in our part, because the interests we represent in this matter are the interests of the smallest, the poorest, and the most defenceless section of all the population of this country, and we practically stand alone. We know it, and we deeply regret it. We know that our view upon the question of religious instruction in our schools is quite abhorrent to the views of a large number of hon. Members opposite, and we know also that there is an impassable gulf between our position and the position of the Church of England upon this matter. That is the view we take so far as the Church of England is concerned. We say there is an impassable gulf between us and them, because what is to them a matter of degree is to us a matter of principle. With that section of the Church of England which objects to Cowper-Templeism it is a question of degree. Over and over again it has been said in this House by representatives of the Church that Cowper-Templeism is in their opinion better than nothing, but that it is totally inadequate. Our position is entirely different from that. We consider it, rightly or wrongly, inimical to our religion. I am not arguing whether it is right or wrong—because it teaches a different religion from ours. Therefore we stand alone and we are the smallest, poorest, and most defenceless of all sections of the population, and consequently we have most to gain by arriving at some settlement which we can regard as a permanent settlement. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman on the Government Bench that we will take up no attitude of irreconcilability so long as some settlement is proposed which has the one saving condition—that it will preserve our schools from destruction. A great deal has been said and written 1702 lately upon this idea of compromise—compromise between the Church of England forces and the forces of the Nonconformists. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, made it plain that he was under no misapprehension whatever as to our attitude towards this suggested concordat. He knows perfectly well that so far as we are concerned all these questions of right of entry and so forth are of no use whatever. As I have pointed out, we object to the Cowper-Temple foundation, and it does not help us in the least for the Government or for anybody else to come along and say that they are willing to super-impose upon the foundation of Cowper-Templeism the teaching of our own particular religion now and again. A concordat upon these lines has nothing whatever to offer to us, and therefore, speaking for the particular interests we represent, I did not hear one word from the right hon. Gentleman that conveyed any hope whatever that we were to gain anything out of this proposed concordat which he thinks is coming up. Now, we have looked forward to this debate with the greatest possible anxiety. I hoped myself that we would get some further information from the Government, and that we would have been told something more about their proposals for the future. But we learned nothing, and for my part I find it utterly impossible—I here approximate to the position of the noble Lord—to discuss anything else except this Bill. So far as our position towards this Bill as it stands is concerned, I can very briefly explain it. We, as I have said, represent in this House—I will not say the Catholic body in England, because there is a certain section of the Catholic party in England for which we have no right to speak at all; we do not attempt to speak for them, and I am not sure that we desire to speak for them—but we can speak for the overwhelming majority of the Catholics of this country who are either Irish people born, or the children of Irish parents, and whose interests in these schools are at stake, and whom we feel we represent upon this question. Speaking for them we object to this Bill, and our objection is two-fold. In the first instance we object to the principle of contracting-out. 1703 Disguise it as you may the system of contracting-out means the creation of two different classes of schools—one inferior to the other. Our claim has always been a claim for equality. That is the position we have always maintained. We say it is a monstrous injustice that the Catholics, who have to pay the school rates the same as everybody else, should not be entitled to their share of those rates. The answer given is that we are not entitled to a share of those school rates unless there is to be public control. I make this rejoinder; who objects to public control? Public control in what? No man on these benches would object to whatever control is necessary to prove that you are getting value for your money and that the teaching in our schools is efficient. That public control we have never objected to, and we say we are entitled to our share of the rates which we pay. We go further and have authority for the statement I made in 1906, which was regarded with some suspicion at the time, but which has been confirmed by further investigation and figures—I made the claim that the school rates paid by the Catholics of Great Britain if pooled together would be sufficient to pay for all the Catholic schools in the country, and that therefore, under the present system, no Protestant is asked to pay one farthing towards the Catholic schools, because the amount of rates paid to those schools are contributed by the Catholics themselves; and we say it is unjust that the rates of the Catholics of Great Britain, so contributed, should be diverted altogether from the Catholic schools and given over to the sole use of the schools of other denominations, while Catholic schools are obliged for the future to rely entirely upon voluntary aid for the increasing and growing expenditure which is not covered by the proposed Imperial grant. We believe that the establishment of this system of contracting-out must inevitably lower the status of the schools and the standard of the teaching. It means, undoubtedly, going back to cheaper teachers and reducing the number of teachers. I listened with interest to the quotations of the noble Lord from members of the Government and others. Of course, if he had liked he could have 1704 multiplied these upon this question of contracting-out. I will only make one citation from the Chief Secretary. When discussing this question in 1906, he met the argument that contracting-out would not mean deterioration of the schools and of the teaching in the schools, because the inspectors would go there from the Government Board, and that no school would continue to get any grant unless efficiency was maintained, by saying—It is all very well to say inspectors will keep up the schools. It is impossible. The inspectors of the Board of Education undoubtedly have two standards, although I do not suppose anyone authorised them, but we know, as a matter of fact, that the inspectors do not press so heavily on voluntary schools as they do on board schools, because they know that the latter, if pressure were put upon them, could effect the necessary alterations, whereas the former would have to close their doors.That is our point. If these schools are put into an inferior class and there is not sufficient means to maintain them at the present standard, then no amount of Government inspection will keep them efficient. You will have brought into existence and stereotyped two classes of schools—one of them professional, well-taught, well-managed, and a credit to the country, and the other starved and inefficient. Therefore, on these broad grounds we enter our protest against this system of contracting-out; and we say that our demand is a demand for equality of treatment. If we are driven, not by argument, because I do not think we can be driven by argument; not by justice, because I do not think that justice would drive us in that direction—if we are driven by force, as being a small minority in this country, and having to bear that suffering which we were told in 1906 was the fate of all minorities, to consider the possibility of this system of contracting-out, then what I have to say is this: that this Bill (and, of course, I am only dealing with this Bill; there is nothing else before us) does not provide an adequate Imperial grant to enable these schools to continue in existence. The grant of 47s. per child in Catholic schools will mean their starvation and, finally, their destruction. There are one or two preliminary considerations, it may be said, that ought to be borne in mind. It is hopeless to expect any large increase of 1705 voluntary help for the Catholic schools. It is not necessary for me to emphasise the poverty of the Catholics of this country. They have out of their poverty contributed in proportion far more to education than, I think I may safely say, any other section of the community of Great Britain. They have contributed vast sums in the past and it is impossible for them to-day to provide the money that will be required if the standard of 47s. is stereotyped in this Bill. Our schools, further, are mostly in large towns, where, of course, the cost of education is far more than in the country parts. In places like London, Liverpool, Manchester, and so forth, the cost falls necessarily upon us, because that is where our children are congregated, and it ought to be remembered that out of the voluntary contributions of the Catholics within the last few years enormous sums had to be spent. Will not the House he astonished and to some extent edified when I say that since 1902 out of the voluntary contributions of the Catholic people of London about £130,000 has been spent in the improvement of the schools, and bringing them up to the standing of the County Council without weakening the efficiency of the teaching? More than half of that was raised on loan, and the interest is a permanent charge on the schools. I point out this to show that it is useless to say that the difference between the 47s. and the cost can be met by the voluntary contributions of the Catholics. There is a provision that fees may be charged. I do not know how that will work with the Church schools. [OPPOSITION cries of "It will not work."] I do not know whether it is a valuable provision or not. I take it from hon. Members that it is not, but so far as our schools are concerned, it is an absolute delusion to think that that stun of money could be raised by imposing fees. The cost of education has increased very much since 1902, and must go on increasing. How is the increase to be met? In the council schools by increasing the school rate. But in the voluntary schools the Imperial grant is stereotyped. They are cut off from the school rate; they cannot rely upon voluntary contributions. The only hope that they have of meeting this 1706 increase would be by effecting some sort of economies in the internal working of their schools. What does that mean? It means inevitably a worse body of teachers and fewer of them. The classes which since 1902 have been broken up, so as to afford them more efficient teaching requiring more teachers, will have again to be amalgamated. It is only in the teachers that economies can be made. The increase in the cost of upkeep, light and fuel, cleaning, equipment, books, etc., since 1902 has not been large, and in any case economies cannot be made in that direction. The only possible economies are in the number and salaries of the teachers, and I think it is a monstrous injustice, where Catholics are called upon to pay the full school-rate for the council schools where a system of religion is being taught which they rightly or wrongly regard as being abhorrent to their faith, that their schools should be condemned to starvation and inefficiency. If the 47s. per child is not sufficient to enable them to carry on their work efficiently this Bill would mean starvation and destruction. Let me consider whether the 47s. per child is sufficient or not. I received to-day from a well-known educationist in London a short memorandum from which I will read a paragraph. After considering how the cost of education has risen since 1902, and explaining that it was due to better salaries, smaller classes, more teachers, and better equipment, he says—But all this has meant expenditure, and while the Government grants have not increased much the income derived from rates in the voluntary schools has risen steadily since 1902. This increased cost has been almost entirely due to improvement in the teaching staff. There are more teachers to each school than before and they are more highly qualified and better paid. Obviously this is the quarter in which the money has been spent for the most part.He gives the figures of one school as an example, and says—The following figures taken from the official returns of St. Anne's Catholic School, Vauxhall, London, are very striking, and show at a glance how great the expenditure in salaries has been. Cost per head for salaries 1896, £1 11s. 4d.; 1901, £1 14s.; 1903. £1 17s. 2d.; 1908, £3 6s. 3d; average salary for all teachers, including pupil teachers for 1903, £42 7s. 2d.; average salary for all teachers, including pupil teachers for 1908, £82 13s. The above figures 1707 show that the effect of the Act of 1897 which gave the aid grant was to increase the salaries steadily until they reached the figure of 1903, the year before the school passed under the control of the London County Council. Since then it will be seen that the average salary per teacher has been more than doubled, having risen by £42 6s. 2d.Then he goes on to say—It will be readily seen that the effect of limiting the income of the school to 47s. must at once be felt by the teaching staff, and a school could only be carried on at that figure of income by reducing the number of teachers, increasing the size of the classes, and lowering the salaries of such teachers as were retained upon the staff.Now, there is a concrete case and does any educationist (let us put aside the question of religion and look at it from the educational point of view) is there any educationist in this House who will advocate a system whereby a school like that will go back to the position before 1902, with a small number of badly paid teachers and the expenses diminished by half? That is only an isolated case. I have here some figures not official in the sense of being Government figures, but they are compiled by the authorities of the Catholic Church in this country with great pains and trouble, and as I am in a position to use them on their authority I think I may almost be permitted to use the word official in relation to them. Here are the figures from the various dioceses and the working out of the 47s. per child—The immediate loss of income to Catholic schools which would be caused by Mr. McKenna's 47s. limit of grant would be as follows:—In the dioceses of Westminster and Southwark (which include London and six home counties) the loss of income would be, £52,392; in Liverpool, £28,872; Salford, £29,735; Leeds, £10,550; Hexham, £9,432; Portsmouth, £3,062; Northampton, £2,508; Nottingham, £1,784; Middlesborough, £4,714; Clifton, £1,668; and Birmingham, £9,507.That made a total loss of income immediately consequent upon the adoption of this 47s. limit in all these various dioceses of £154,244. If these figures are correct then this Bill means undoubtedly starvation and destruction to a large number of those schools. Even if these figures are exaggerated—and no hon. Member will be quick to say that figures of this kind would be deliberately magnified—even if it is necessary to make an allowance, even if you diminish them by one-half, what a monstrous injustice this 1708 Bill would inflict upon the whole Catholic body, and how impossible it would make the situation from the point of view of maintaining the efficiency of the Catholic schools and teachers. I object to this Bill on the two grounds of principle: I object to contracting-out, because it means putting Catholic schools into an inferior class, and it means the degradation and deterioration of the education given in those schools. But if I were driven by the force of circumstances to consider contracting-out at all, then I say that 47s. per child is a ridiculously in-adequate limit, and it would be necessary very largely to increase it before there was any possibility of the schools, even under contracting-out, being able to continue in existence at all. Those being our views we must, of course, vote against the Second Reading of the Bill. I do not know why the Government have brought on this Bill at this stage, but I gather that they are engaged in a great effort to provide a compromise. I wish them God-speed with it, and I will say nothing that will put any difficulty in the way of effecting a compromise so long as our schools can live under it, We shall, however, fight the suggested compromise as bitterly as we shall fight this Bill if we see in it the destruction of our schools. I do not know why, when this great effort at compromise was on foot, it was thought advisable to go forward with this Bill. That, however, is a matter for which the Government are responsible, and of which they are the best judges, but our position no man can misunderstand or complain of. We cannot discuss this possible compromise now, but as far as we know it is one to leave us out altogether, and leave us on the broad of our backs. Even if there was a hint that we were to come in under this compromise we could not discuss it; the only thing we can discuss is the Bill before the House. If the Government brought forward this Bill to elicit views and explain how far they were willing to go no one would complain, but I am face to face with a division on the Second Reading of a particular Bill, and I cannot vote for that Bill anxious as I am for a settlement and a compromise. I must vote against the Second Reading, and when the division is called I shall walk into the lobby in support of the noble Lord's Amendment.
§ MR. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
said the hon. and learned Member for Waterford had said that Catholic schools would lose £150,000 a year if this Bill were passed on the 47s. basis, and he had also stated that in the country at large the Catholic schools were almost entirely in the urban districts. So that practically the portion of the Bill dealing with contracting-out—which was the principle to which he especially objected—in no way whatever affected the single school areas, which was the system in the villages of the country. The Roman Catholic Church was a very rich church in many parts of the country. In the rural districts especially some of the little Catholic schools were supported very generously, even lavishly by the landed proprietors. But he was sorry to say that they had very little sympathy with Nonconformists on that side of the House. He was sorry indeed that the Roman Catholic Church in this country did not see its way to come into line with its fellow countrymen in adopting a system of national education, because he felt sure that there was no local education authority, municipal or otherwise, that would ever dream of appointing a Protestant teacher to a Catholic school.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
How is the local authority to know that the teacher is a Protestant?
§ MR. PERKS
said he had not overlooked that point; he was coming to it. He was against any inquiries of that nature himself, but, as they were well aware, there were methods of ascertaining. Unfortunately, in the rural districts they had only too great reason to know that there were methods of ascertaining, apart from any statutory enactment to the contrary, what the religious persuasion of the teacher was, if he were a member of the Church of England. Knowing the enormous power of their training institutions, and how they turned out from those institutions an overwhelming proportion of the teachers in the elementary schools, he would be the last to fear any inequality to the Established Church in the schools of this country because there was no permission to inquire into the religious opinions of 1710 the teachers. He had listened with the greatest possible disappointment to the speech of the nobleLord who had moved the rejection of the Bill. They had had, it was true, no explicit statement at the moment as to how the Government might deal with the various suggestions which would be put forward with the view of harmonising their difficulties on this particular issue, but surely when they had had recently not merely an important Bill, but a much more important speech in the House of Lords from the head of the Anglican Church in this country, and when more recently still clearly defined propositions had been put forward by the leaders of that Church supported by a large proportion of the bishops—personally he was no very strong believer in bishops, but the right hon. Gentleman could not be iii that position, for did they not know how in 1902 the Leader of the Opposition almost took his marching orders, or was reported to have taken them, from the Episcopal Bench—he certainly hoped that the noble Lord who moved the rejection of the Bill would have explicitly stated what were the distinct proposals of the Opposition with the view of adjusting this Bill and possibly securing sonic lasting settlement of this controversy. He had never been a very strong believer in the principle of contracting-out. He took the opportunity, like his friend on the Treasury Bench, to put in, possibly in milder language and in less carefully chosen phraseology, a small protest against contracting-out when this Bill was originally introduced, and he had never varied the view which he then held. The noble Lord had admitted that there was a grievance to be dealt with in the rural districts. He had expected the noble Lord to tell the House how he meant to deal with that difficulty, but he passed the matter airily by and made no suggestions in any form whatever. In all public gatherings—municipalities, teachers' meetings, governing bodies of the many religious denominations in this country, Convocation the other day, and the Representative Church Council, which spoke, he supposed, with some authority—there were two general propositions apparently admitted by everybody. First of all they said: "Popular control is what we are yearning for; give us a unified system 1711 throughout the country; it is what we wants" Furthermore, the majority of the speakers seemed to admit, although lie knew that the noble Lord, the Member for Marylebone, did not take this view—
§ MR. PERKS
begged pardon; he was speaking of the noble Lord's accomplished brother. The majority seemed to admit that there should be no test imposed on the teacher. He wished to limit his remarks to the single school districts and to the question of the right of entry. Might he say in passing that the Methodist Church, to which he personally belonged, which was a far more powerful Church than the Catholic Church in this country, had never asked for preferential treatment; they were perfectly willing to come into a general national system. Their policy of late years, a policy which he hoped would go on, had been to abandon their sectarian schools and put them under the control of the public authority. That policy had conduced to the educational efficiency of those schools, and it had also tended to relieve the financial burdens imposed on many of the members of their Church. With all respect he commended that policy to the Anglican Church if they wished their schools to grow in efficiency, to be more popular, better managed, and to have a higher type of teacher. If they also wished to relieve their own pecuniary burdens, let them turn over their schools to the public authorities, freely and frankly come into line with their fellow citizens, and not claim exclusive privileges either in town or village. It appeared to him that there were two distinct portions of this Bill. There was the portion which dealt with the single school areas, and the portion which dealt with those districts, chiefly urban, where there was a choice of schools, and where there would be a contracting-out policy or principle applicable. The single school area must be 1712 regarded as a separate question. There were over 6,000 elementary schools in villages where there was only one school. In Lincolnshire there were about 380 schools in villages where there was no choice of school.
§ MR. PERKS
said his hon. friend must have forgotten his old Liberal days. He would give the hon. Member a grievance from his own district, near the hall in which he lived. In the village school of Binbrooke in the wilds of Lincolnshire there were 166 children on the register, and of these 46 were children of Church of England parents, and 120 were children of Nonconformists. In that school the Church of England catechism was taught, and the clergyman went in twice a week to give special religious instruction. There was not a single teacher in the school who was a Nonconformist.
§ SIR GEORGE DOUGHTY
I was there only a few weeks ago, and I could find no person who found fault with the present system.
§ MR. PERKS
said he could give another instance, namely, the village school of North Summerscolt. There were 144 children on the register, and of these 120 were children of Nonconformists. Seventeen were children of Church of England parents. The Church of England catechism was taught in that school also. In that school there was only one pupil teacher who was a Nonconformist. It was perfectly idle for his hon. friend to say that Nonconformists had no grievance because they did not pour their troubles into his ear. The problem of single-school areas was different from that of urban areas. The contracting-out question did not arise. It did not affect Roman Catholics or Jews. In these villages there also appeared to be a greater disposition among the laity to take a rational view of this question than in some of the towns. He thought objections to portions of the scheme of contracting-out might be met if the Bill were limited in the first instance 1713 to the single-school areas. He came now to another very important question, and he might mention that it was coupled with a very material point, namely, the creation of smaller governing bodies for schools in the rural districts. He did not know whether the machinery of the Bill provided scope for such a reform. Certainly the schools in the great counties of the country could not be efficiently administered from a distant county town, and the co-operation, the length of experience, and the deep interest which ought to be enlisted in the cause of education would be wanting if small governing bodies in the districts were not appointed for the control of education in the single areas. As to the right of entry, he observed that most of the speakers in the various gatherings held recently in the Church of England claimed the right of entry in school hours for their clergy to give distinctive and dogmatic instruction. It seemed to him impossible to reconcile that claim with the theory that no test should be imposed on the teacher, because it must be assumed that the teacher was capable of giving in the school board schools the ordinary Biblical instruction outlined in the curriculum of the London School Board. That did not necessarily or primarily require, in his judgment, any religious test.
§ MR. PERKS
said he was only speaking of what had been the practical experience of the last thirty-eight years during which no religious test was required from the teacher. But if the teacher was to be entrusted or authorised to give special sectarian instruction in the dogmas of the Anglican Church or any other religious community, it would almost necessarily entail an inquiry into the religious opinions of that teacher; and consequently he thought the Government had been remarkably well advised in providing not merely that there should be no religious test for the teachers, but that the teachers should be absolutely prohibited from giving anything beyond the ordinary Bible instruction which could be imparted without any such test. With regard to the question of reconciling in a conference conflicting opinions upon 1714 this long-fought out struggle, he had little doubt that when the time came for the Methodist Churches to consider these questions in a few weeks' time in their Church assemblies, they would do their very best to arrive at some conciliatory basis of arrangement with the dignitaries of the Church of England who had held out the olive branch, and that they would endeavour to remember that a permanent peace would have to be secured to some considerable extent by compromise and concession which, in the first instance, perhaps they, the Nonconformists, would not have proposed.
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS (Manchester, N.W.)
said he wished to congratulate the hon. Member for Louth on the speech he had just delivered; but he happened to have an extract from a speech made by the hon. Gentleman within the last six weeks in which he said—That there are a multitude of Nonconformists in England to-day who feel not only that the Bill of 1906 but that of this year are not what we might reasonably have expected. They feel that they have been sold.What had happened in the meantime to enable the hon. Member, notwithstanding the fact that he had been sold, to support the Second Reaching of this Bill?
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS
said that he assumed then that they would have the hon. Member's support in the lobby against the Second Reading of the Bill. He had ventured to intervene in the debate because the education question played a very prominent part in the recent election in North-West Manchester. He little thought that in his first speech in the House of Commons he would find himself in accord with the hon. Member for Waterford. That hon. Member opposed his election, but he had entirely expressed the views which the Church of England in Lancashire took with regard to the monstrous injustice of this Bill. Speaking for 1715 Lancashire, he declared that they would have nothing whatever to do with this Bill. They declined to accept contracting-out as a substitute for the rights they now had. They considered that they paid their rates exactly in the same manner as the Nonconformists, and they demanded, therefore, a share of the rates they themselves had to pay. It was not so long ago since the Government, through the Chief Secretary for Ireland, was not indisposed to grant them such a right in regard to the religious teaching of their children. The Chief Secretary said at Lowestoft in January, 1906—He hoped it would be possible to have in the public elementary schools of the country simple religious teaching for those who were content with it, and also to give facilities that those people who wanted more definite dogmatic instructions should have it so that their children might enjoy the benefits of it. Therefore as far as possible he would give free scope to parental wishes and desires.Why had the Government never tried that policy? They had now been responsible for three Education Bills, all different from one another, but in none of these Bills had they given "free scope to parental wishes and desires."
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS
said that, if he remembered rightly, Clause 4 of the Bill of 1906 gave the four-fifths majority, and that was put into the Bill with the express purpose of meeting the views of a certain section of the House below the gangway; but it gave very little free scope to the Church of England schools. The more one thought of it, the more was one astonished at the confusion of hon. Members as to what really was the mandate they had in 1906. Was it the Bill of 1906, the Bill of 1907, or the Bill of 1908—three totally different Bills, setting up three totally distinct methods of education and educational organisation? At all events, the present Prime Minister had no doubt whatever as to what "the will of the people" was in 1906. On the Second Reading of that Bill the Prime Minister said—As regards the education question, I venture to say there is no one that followed the course of the election who will dispute that 1716 the remedy for the grievances was to be found, in the opinion of the majority of the electors, in the adoption of the two principles which are called popular control and the abolition of tests.The Prime Minister went further by saying—If there is to be popular control in an effective sense that clearly involves the management and direction of every elementary school which depends on the State for its support, from a private to a public authority.Now they were entitled to ask why that definition of popular control had been abandoned in the present Bill. He would be willing, as a representative of Lancashire, to stand under complete popular control if they might have it, but the popular control proposed by the party opposite was popular control in the direction of their own educational ideas, but no popular control in the direction of the ideas held by the Opposition.Complete popular control,said the Secretary for Ireland on the Second Reading of his Bill in 1906—Was the inevitable outcome of the result of the general election.The meaning of the words "popular control" he took to be that the authority elected by the ratepayers should have the right to say what kind of education should be given to their children in secular and religious matters. There were many educational authorities who were very largely composed of representatives of the Church of England, believers in Church of England principles, and why might they not, being the direct representatives of the people, in the sacred name of popular control, establish schools of a Church of England character? If 99 per cent. of the representatives and 99 per cent. of the ratepayers should chance to be Roman Catholics, then popular control, according to the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, consisted in compelling the 99 per cent. of the ratepayers to establish schools with practically Nonconformist teaching. One might use a homely illustration. A friend of his was recently tried for not having his motor car under proper control, and with running into a lamppost. He pleaded as an excuse that he had the car under perfect control, but that there was a slight defect in the steering gear. 1717 The machine was under perfect control so long as he did not turn to the left. So popular control in the eyes of the Treasury Bench would allow the representatives of the ratepayers to turn in the direction of Nonconformity, but not in the direction of the Church of England. Contracting-out in this Bill was the essence of this popular scheme. In 1906 it was clear that control meant control as it affected tax as well as rate money. He wondered what the feeling of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite must be when they realised that their own Government was endeavouring to put through the House and force on the Nonconformist portions of the country, a scheme which cut directly across popular control. Of course popular control formed no portion of the Bill of 1906, or the Bill of 1907. There could be no contracting-out with popular control and all that popular control meant. It was only an after-thought and was only to be used in exceptional cases. But so far as this Bill related to the towns it was the substance of the scheme; it must be the general rule and not the exception. He would say little of the pledges of the Government and their followers that "where public money is taken public control must of necessity follow." That was a question for them and their supporters to settle. They might be able to distinguish now between "rate-aid" and "State-aid": they might be able to quiet their supporters by some subtle reason why schools, both rate-aided and State-aided, must be under popular control and State-aided schools need not. But these stern Cromwellians chopped no logic in 1906. Let them recall the questions put to candidates at the general election by the Free Church Council. They were asked—Are you in favour of immediate legislation in order to secure: (1) Complete popular control for the elected representatives of the people over all schools maintained by the State.Did this Bill profess to give "complete popular control for the elected representatives of the people over all schools maintained by the State"? Could any Member on the benches opposite who favourably answered this question go back to his Free Church constituents after voting for this Bill and say: "I 1718 have been steadfast to the pledge I gave"? That was the first question. The second was—Are you in favour of the abolition of sectarian tests for all teachers employed in schools maintained by the State?Did this Bill carry out that pledge? The third question was—Are you in favour of the omission of sectarian teaching from the curriculum of State-supported schools?Why this Bill perpetuated "sectarian teaching in State-supported schools" in every city and town in the land. He was informed that some 330 Liberal candidates returned satisfactory answers to the Free Church Council on these three questions. They knew too well how strenuously and fiercely the Free Churches had for some six years fought for the establishment of the principles laid down in their questions. They had had experience of their determination not to budge from this position, and he invited them into the lobby with the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. From the political aspect the Bill violated the principles of the supporters of the Government; from the aspect of religious education it failed absolutely to meet the desires of those who wished for definite religious teaching in the schools. From an educational aspect, the Bill could not be regarded as other than wholly unsatisfactory. The Act of 1902 so far as efficiency of education went was a great step forward. That was generally recognised. The Bill of 1906 left undisturbed the education system inaugurated by that Act and dealt wholly with the religious question. But this Bill upset that system and carried them back again to the "intolerable strain" of the ante-1902 days, so far as the urban and many rural schools were concerned. That was felt to be a false step by all educationists. And if the Government persisted in this measure they would be putting back the education clock to a serious extent. They read that at the Annual Conference of the National Union of Teachers at Hastings this year the President, himself a teacher in a council school, said—This provision for 'contracting out' is about the worst possible solution that could have been found.… It is dead against the best educational interests of the children who will be taught in 'contracted-out' schools. 1719 If such a provision should ever become law it would deal the severest blow to the progress of popular education which it is possible to conceive, and it is diametrically opposed to our fundamental proposition that every child of the State has a claim to the provision by the State of equal opportunities for secular education.This was not the opinion of a partisan: it was the opinion of one whose first and only concern was the progress of education. He did not stand alone. They might ask the Government whether they were prepared at a time when all persons acknowledged the need for increased efficiency in education, to proceed with this Bill, which was universally condemned as retarding educational progress? He would just show the House how the Bill would affect Lancashire. In that county 77 per cent of the schools were voluntary and 66 per cent. of the scholars were educated in them. There were only 100 of the single school areas to which the hon. Member for Louth had referred. In Lancashire there were 1,415 voluntary schools and 410 council schools, showing a majority of 1,005 voluntary schools. [An HON. MEMBER: How many scholars?] There were 461,000 scholars in the voluntary schools and 230,000 in the council schools. There were eight large boroughs in Lancashire, and there were no council schools in Ashton, Chorley, Bury, or Wigan. In Leigh there was 1 council school with 163 children, and 19 voluntary schools with 6,884 children. Preston had I council school with 467 children, and 37 voluntary schools with 18,000 children. Warrington had 3 council schools with 581 children, and 19 voluntary schools with 11,500 children. Where was the money coming from at £1 per head? The cost to Lancashire churchmen would be nearly £500,000 a year. They declined to ask the parents to pay fees, for it was sufficient for Church of England parents to pay the same rates as the Nonconformists. They were told that there was to be special facilities granted for the Roman Catholic and the Jewish communities. The President of the Board of Trade was not in the House, but he would remind the House that the right hon. Gentleman pledged himself that special facilities should given to the Roman Catholics and the Jews. 1720 He would like to know in what way. Were they to have special rate-aid in addition to 47s. grant? Were Churchmen the only ratepayers of the country who were to be penalised? He would like an answer to that question. In Lancashire they intended to have exactly the same facilities and rights as were accorded to the Roman Catholics and the Jewish community. He did not often find himself in agreement with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman when he said in Manchester last month—If it were right to say that we as Liberals are offering some special terms to either Nonconformists or Jews or Roman Catholics which we are prepared to deny to the Church of England, I say it would be unfair.The Opposition agreed that any terms offered to Nonconformists, Roman Catholics or Jews which did not apply to the Church of England would be unjust and monstrously unfair. He trusted they would be told what those special facilities were. Compromise was in the air, but he did not know that it was to be found within the four corners of this Bill. He did not propose to say a word against Cowper-Temple teaching, but he would like to know how the right hon. Gentleman was going, even if they were willing to hand their schools over, to enforce the giving of Cowper-Temple teaching in them. He did not need to give a list of towns where the Bible was taught without note or comment, and where instruction was given in morality, manners, and customs, which was not Cowper-Temple teaching. How were they going to deal with those large educational authorities in Devonshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and various Welsh counties where no religious instruction whatever was given? Was his right hon. friend going to mandamus all those local authorities? He said he should make a bargain to insist upon Cowper-Temple teaching being carried out there, but how was he going to do it? The right hon. Gentleman had made a friendly speech in the way of compromise, but it was a compromise in favour of one particular idea, and he had ended up by threatening them that unless they were prepared to compromise, unless they were prepared to give away their schools and see the many sacrifices they had 1721 made in the past swept away, they were to be led direct to secularism. All he could say was that in England they were not going to be led to secularism. If the right hon. Gentleman thought that the voters were going to vote in favour of secularism, he asked him to go to the country and say: "We have failed to effect a compromise because the members of the Church of England stick to their schools and we could not get them to give way; so they have forced us into the only alternative, secularism," and he wondered how many of the Party in power would come back. The hon. Member for Louth had asked them what their views were with regard to compromise. Their views were perfectly well-known. Let the right, hon. Gentleman withdraw this Bill and have a round-table conference. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the views of some of the bishops, especially the Bishop of St. Asaph and also the Archbishop of Canterbury. He had the greatest respect for the dignitaries of his own Church, but he begged leave to say on behalf of the people of Lancashire, at all events, that they on that side of the House were not an episcopally ridden body, but were elected by the parents of the children, and to them they would go to find out the kind of compromise that was most desired. It might be possible for the other side to force a short Bill through the House, or through the country, largely owing to the votes of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who were elected by a portion of Great Britain which was not affected by this Bill. At all events they refused it on that side of the House. Whatever might be their position in the House, outside they were supported by an increasing body of opinion. While they were willing, absolutely willing, to consider a scheme of conciliation or compromise which would preserve the rights of Churchmen, as were preserved the rights of Roman Catholics, they would not compromise in any shape or form as to any proposal which gave one iota less to the Church of England than was given to Roman Catholics, or Jews, or Nonconformists. The Government might force the Bill through the House if they liked, but he would tell them that if the Opposition had 1722 not a majority outside to-day they very nearly had it, and it was not for them to suggest terms of compromise. They would wait until the time came when they could dictate terms to the other side, and they would not accept any compromise which did not meet all forms of rights, or, as it had been shortly put, which did not provide that every man should have his child educated in his own religion out of the rates he himself paid.
§ *MR. WALTERS (Sheffield, Brightside)
said that any Member corning into the House for the first time would have come to the conclusion that this was a measure for the purpose of contracting-out all the schools of the country, and that the aim and object of the Government was that everybody who had a denominational school should adopt the practice of contracting-out; whereas the object of the Bill, if he understood it rightly, was to establish universally, if possible, council schools throughout the length and breadth of the land. The contracting-out clauses were placed in the Bill simply for the purpose of preventing injustice to the managers of such schools as refused to come into the general system of council schools of the country at large. That seemed to him a much fairer description of the Bill than the idea of universal contracting-out. It was very difficult to discover what really would satisfy hon. Gentlemen opposite. In the Bill of 1906 they were offered facilities, and at that time they considered that they made hon. Gentlemen opposite a very generous offer, but when they offered facilities they were asked for contracting-out. When to-day they made them an offer of contracting-out they asked for facilities. The fact of the matter was that whatever proposals they made they always happened to be the proposals which hon. Gentlemen opposite did not want. Perhaps the responsibility for that was not entirely that of the supporters of the Government; it might be that there was a disposition among hon. Gentlemen opposite to find fault with whatever the Government offered. To be quite frank, as far as his own opinion was concerned he really detested the proposal for contracting-out, and he did not think that they would find 1723 half a dozen men on the Ministerial side of the House who were really in favour of any considerable measure of contracting-out. It was said: "Why make this a provision of the Bill?" But this provision in the Bill for contracting-out was not made in the interests of Nonconformists. It was introduced into the Bill entirely for the purpose of satisfying members of the Church of England and members of the Roman Catholic Church. He had always been in favour of the maintenance of religious education in schools; but when he followed the course of education debates in that House, when he remembered the concessions they made in 1906 with a great strain on their own convictions, when he saw the Bill of that year rejected, and when, now, he saw their efforts to meet them in regard to contracting-out and witnessed the difficulties and objections raised, he had come reluctantly to the conclusion that they should have at last to take the advice of hon. Gentlemen below the gangway, and offer to the House and the country the secular solution. If hon. Members opposite would not take facilities, if they would not take contracting-out, then what would they take? ["Parents' rights."] He had never heard yet any clear exposition of what the rights of parents involved. As far as he could understand, if they were really consistent and logical in their opposition, then if they had parents with hundreds of different theories of religious questions, they would have to provide hundreds of different methods and curricula for instruction in them. The matter could only be dealt with on some basis of compromise. He had hoped that after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman in introducing this Bill, made in a spirit full of compromise and conciliation, they would have had something in the nature of a reciprocal disposition on the other side. When lie listened to the truculent speech of the noble Lord who proposed the Amendment, and to the excellent maiden speech of the Member for North-West Manchester breathing threatenings and slaughter against them, he had not at all the feeling that they were in an atmosphere of compromise. The fact of the matter was, the more they suggested compromise the 1724 more hon. Gentlemen opposite suggested strife. The more ready they were to make concessions the less willing were hon. Gentlemen opposite to receive them. If supporters of the Government insisted on what they considered would satisfy their friends, if they asked for what they considered a national system of education and then offered concessions, they were told that they were afraid of their own Bill and afraid to face the country. They must, then, frame their measure as they thought best, and carry it through the House with the help of their majority; and if the Bill was carried through that House and rejected by the other House, the responsibility rested upon the other side and not upon the supporters of the Government. A word or two about the contracting-out clauses. He hoped he had made it clear that, as far as contracting-out went, in his humble judgment the case for it was not favoured by the Ministerial side of the House. He did not believe that contracting-out was in the interests of education; on the contrary, he believed that it was contrary to the best interests of education. Though he opposed the Act of 1902 he could not help recognising that it had led to the unification of education, and he would be extremely sorry to see any considerable system of contracting-out adopted. It would mean that a large number of schools would be governed by narrow sectarianism or by a board of education faddists; he did not know which was the more objectionable dilemma to be placed in. As a Nonconformist he was surprised that his co-religionists had looked with any kind of favour on contracting-out. Under contracting-out, a school which was unable to keep up its efficiency under the Board of Education would find it difficult to raise money from the denomination. It was difficult before 1902; it was impossible now. What happened in a case like that? All extra subjects, all special subjects, would form the ground of an appeal to the Board of Education for a grant, and they would find the contracted-out school receiving special extra grants for medical inspection, for training colleges, for agricultural education, and for all sorts of things of that kind, so that imperceptibly they would find that instead of a 47s. grant 1725 it would steadily creep up by extra grants for special subjects. That would go on even under the present Government, and it would all be outside of popular control and the healthful stimulating opinion of the local public. A continual demand would be made on the national exchequer from time to time without any kind of popular control. Then after the next general election, if hon. Gentlemen opposite came back into power, at a stroke they would add to the grants from the national exchequer a sufficient sum for maintenance, and the net result would be that they would have these denominational schools entirely maintained out of the national exchequer without any kind of public control in their administration. That he maintained would be a new endowment of the Church of England and of the Roman Catholic schools. The National Union of Teachers, and the Education Association, consisting of 163 borough and county borough committees, had unanimously condemned contracting-out, and he had not come across any body of educationists in favour of it. He had not come across a practical educationist in favour of it, and he therefore suggested to the Government that they should drop the contracting-out clauses altogether. Let them put this plain issue before the House. They asked for a national system of education entirely controlled by the local education authorities. They did not want any contracting-out at all. If those who were not satisfied with that wanted facilities let them propose them as Amendments in Committee. They would be in a much stronger position if the Minister of Education would take up a firm position. It was impossible to conciliate their enemies whatever they did, but that would at any rate rally their friends. Let those who objected to their proposal put down their counter proposal. They were making a great mistake in offering a proposal for contracting-out. The Opposition had fastened upon that at once. They had good educational arguments against it. They despised it on financial grounds, and they distrusted it on religious grounds. If they put themselves in a strong position of advocating a universal council school only, they would have 1726 had much more chance of carrying the country with them, and he believed they would prepare the way for conciliation, concession, and compromise. If he was negotiating with a man he would rather that he plainly put down on the Table what it was he wanted, and he would rather himself suggest what he wanted as a concession than that the other man should offer him something which he did not want, and which was no use to him. He hoped they would stand firmly on their position, which they had consistently put before the country, which they had advocated at their elections, and on which many of them had been returned to the House, that they would have a universal council school entirely controlled by the local education authority.
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH (Birmingham, S.)
said the First Lord of the Admiralty had made a speech which he believed he sincerely intended to be one of compromise, but he was not very explicit. He accompanied his suggestion of compromise, however, with a menace which was perfectly explicit. He was one of those who had not been indisposed to welcome a compromise, but he had not been much encouraged by this extraordinary Bill or by its even more extraordinary history. The right hon. Gentleman in days of greater courage had told them that the Bill was a sword. His predecessor had always been careful to say that his endeavour was to meet the case of the denominationalists. They understood that the olive branch was to be substituted for the sword. There were various signs of that, but they were only able to draw inferences. The right hon. Gentleman was promoted, and they understood that a conference was to be called. Nor could they be very certain of the causes, but it might be assumed that bye-elections had something to do with it, and they were told that the bishops were to be rewarded for the support they had given to the Government on another measure. It might be conceivable that it struck even the Government as not very consistent that they should attempt in the same session to run through a denominational University for the Irish and to deny the same privileges to the humbler 1727 classes of people in Great Britain. Whatever the reason might have been, it was not very important now, because apparently the policy was reversed again and the sword was introduced once more, with this exception—that the right hon. Gentleman told them that the sword was an olive branch, and that this Bill, if they looked at it carefully, was really exactly the same for all practical purposes as the Bishop of St. Asaph's. Anxious as he was for a settlement of this question, he was somewhat mistrustful of the right hon. Gentleman. If they came to the Bill itself he did not think any speaker contended that it was an Education Bill. Nobody had pretended to discuss it in that aspect. It was purely a Bill to settle the religious controversy. That was very well worth doing, and if the Bill would settle the controversy they would welcome it on that ground, even if it did not deal with the question of education; but no person who was not either very optimistic or very intolerant would imagine for a single moment that this Bill was going to end the long chapter of controversy that began even before 1870. The Government said that they based their proposals on three main grounds—first of all, that as the teachers are practically a branch of the Civil Service, there must be no tests for teachers; secondly, that as public money was involved there must be public control; and, in the third place, that as all ratepayers paid there must be undenominational teaching. With regard to tests, he thought a great many persons had rather hastily assumed that there should be no tests whatever with regard to the teaching profession. He was quite aware that it was a very difficult matter, but he thought a good many members did not quite understand what was meant by no tests. Two years ago the then Under-Secretary at the Education Office made a very illuminating speech with regard to the appointment of teachers, and how tests might be evaded, and how for all practical purposes they could test a teacher without putting the explicit words before him. The hon. Member for Louth had now done the same, but he thought he must have confused between tests in regard to the denomination of the teacher and tests with regard to whether he could 1728 give religious education at all. It was suggested that, if a teacher was unwilling to give religious education, the local authority could appoint what was called in the language of some educationists an ad hoc teacher for that purpose. But was it likely that the education authorities were going to pay extra money in order to pay supernumerary men to give for three-quarters of an hour teaching that the ordinary teacher declined to give? As a private person who was employing a teacher for his own children was entitled to inquire what the teacher's religious opinions were, so the community, which in this case was in loco parentis, if they desired their children to have a specific and definite religious teaching, were entirely within their rights if they inquired whether the teacher was able and willing to give it. To set up an extreme doctrine of no tests was to put the interests of the teachers before the interests of the whole community, which were more important, and if the community desired religious teaching they were absolutely justified in the so-called tests for teachers. He would not deal with the question of control, because he believed that most persons conversant with the administration of education would admit that over four-fifths of the field there was absolute control already under the Act of 1902. With regard to the third principle on which the right hon. Gentleman based his Bill, that teaching must be undenominational, that was an exceedingly double-edged weapon. The difficulty which the party opposite had never succeeded in surmounting was that it was obviously, in the minds of the people of the country, unfair that people should pay twice over, and that Roman Catholic and Anglican and Jew should be called on to pay for the teaching of their own religion while at the same time they were rated to pay for the teaching of another denomination. That was a difficulty which had been a stumbling-block ever since 1870, and none of the ingenuity and none of the arguments and none of the sophistry that had been expended in trying to demolish it had ever succeeded in disestablishing that idea from the minds of the people. The First Lord of the Admiralty had endeavoured to carry out his principles by 1729 making all schools council schools, to which he, for one, would not dissent. But he had proceeded to say that the council schools should give no teaching but Cowper-Temple teaching—where he must dissent, and where the right hon. Gentleman began to raise up difficulties for himself, because he was forced by that position to allow contracting-out. It would be impossible to throw it over altogether, because he had to meet the case of the Catholics. He put contracting-out in the Bill although it was denounced by every single Member who spoke on either side. There was no Member who sat on the Front Bench with him who did not denounce it. Everyone knew the reason why the right hon. Gentleman had changed. It was not at all dishonourable to him, but rather honourable, but there was no reason why they should not remember that when he spoke with full liberty as a lover of education rather than as a servant of the Government he denounced this proposal, which was the main essence of the Government Bill. Contracting-out then stood condemned without need of any further words from him, because there had been no person yet found hold enough to deny it. With regard to the concessions which were put in the schedule, he was no opponent of the London County Council syllabus, which, to a certain extent, represented the wishes, roughly got at, of the majority of the parents. He supposed, looked at ecclesiastically, it was roughly Congregationalism. But in the past the syllabus could be modified. It was open to the parents either to increase the amount of dogmatic teaching given under the syllabus, or to lessen it. But the right hon. Gentleman took a certain part of the syllabus issued by the London, County Council and set it up as an immutable, hard-and-fast creed which could neither be altered, lessened nor increased in the future. That was a very different matter from allowing the local authority to make its own syllabus of religious and Bible-teaching for the children in its own schools, and it was certainly going a very long way in setting up an establishment side by side with the establishment that they had already. One could only regret that the Free Churches who for many generations 1730 waged war against establishment, had been seduced by the loaves and. fishes of, at any rate, seeming establishment, if not full establishment, into an endeavour to set up a system so unjust to Catholics and the Church of England as the present one. The right hon. Gentleman, in his endeavour to gain some support for the Bill on grounds other than religious, offered them an increased grant. He knew that throughout the country there were many authorities who cared far more for the rates than for creeds and syllabuses. He thought if he could secure the support of the great army of economists, he might hope to enlist the assistance of the educational authorities. He remodelled the system of grants and told the House that by his system large help would be given out of the rates. What had happened? So far from relieving the burden on the rates the right hon. Gentleman would throw a serious extra burden on the counties. Inquiries had shown that the terms laid down by the right hon. Gentleman with respect to his grants would cause an extra burden of 2½d in the case of Derbyshire, graduating down to 1d. in other places. It was true the right hon. Gentleman had given a large sum in relief of rates, but that sum, owing to the way it was given, was absorbed by the boroughs and the counties, instead of getting any advantage, had a very serious burden thrown upon them. He did not think the right hon. Gentlemen's bait was likely to be very attractive or that he would gain very much support to the other parts of his Bill by his financial proposals.
§ MR. McKENNA
asked whether the noble Lord had included the transfer from the parish rate to the county rate in his figures.
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH
Yes. It was true that by the re-shifting of the burden it would be made to spread all over the county. But quite apart from that the right hon. Gentleman would see that his proposal did not relieve the counties.
§ MR. McKENNA
Has the noble Lord overlooked the fact that under the proposal for the counties there is to be 1731 paid out of the Exchequer a minimum of 4s. per child more than is paid now?
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH
said he had not overlooked that fact. The figures he was using were not his own. They had been got out by the clerks to the education authorities throughout the counties of England. The right hon. Gentleman would have a great work to perform if he was going to ingratiate himself by these means with the education authorities of this country. In conclusion he would say the Opposition had been challenged again and again to put forward their own scheme. Their solution had been repeated again and again in the House. The solution they advocated was one under which all churches, where there were a sufficient number of persons in the parish or in the schools, should have the teaching of their own particular doctrines. They were told that that was impossible, but it was nothing of the kind. It was done every day, both abroad and in this country—in our Army schools, our industrial schools, and in some cases our day schools. It was not an impossible solution, but one hon. Gentlemen opposite did not desire. If it was desired it would be the easiest possible thing to put it into practice, and he believed it was only in some such way as that, where equal justice was done to all, and no attempt was made to proselytise, that we should obtain a settlement and religious peace.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
said in the course of these debates he had been struck by the absence of any consistent attempt on the part of the Opposition to appeal to the right of the parent. They had now fastened on contracting-out, which was not of the essence of the measure, but a concession to the laudable desire of those who sought the full treatment of their own particular denominational opinions in the schools of the country. But he would have thought, after the speeches delivered up and down the country upon the sacred right of the parent to determine the religious education to be given to his own children, that the one standard that would have been brought to the judgment of this Bill was the right of the parent, and nothing else. It 1732 was true that the Member for North-West Manchester did allude to it. He had only one criticism to pass on that gentleman's maiden speech, and that was in regard to his statement that he spoke authoritatively on behalf of Lancashire. The Member for the Walton Division had forestalled the hon. Gentleman as speaking on behalf of Lancashire, and it was somewhat puzzling to another Lancashire member to know to which of these two authorities he was to appeal. One thing was certain: they could not continue to build up an educational system for this country upon the sole basis of the right of the parent. Examine it as they might, they were forced to the conclusion that that was too unstable a foundation. For the State to content itself with merely purveying to every sect the particular dogma which it desired, would end in confusion and the destruction of such religious teaching as they had. If they were to make any progress in elevating the moral and spiritual atmosphere of the schools, it must be done by the State and on behalf of the community. He intended to give the Second Reading of the Bill, with certain reserves, his most hearty support. He would consider that the Government were guilty of almost dishonour if they went out of power without dealing with the education problem. He held most emphatically that the Government was the trustee of a legacy of a most unfortunate character from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. It was perfectly true that in 1902 the right hon. Gentleman co-ordinated education, but he only coquetted with popular control, and he left a large number of parents and teachers with a deep and abiding sense of grievance. Hon. Gentlemen opposite in an earlier stage of this Bill had agitated themselves to discover what was called its spinal cord. That might be a congenial study to hon. Gentlemen who desired to sever that cord and see how much vitality rested on that part of the measure. But the supporters of the measure would rather adopt the language of the Spiritualists if they might and say they wished to see such portions of the Bill materialise as were most capable of being materialised, if it was impossible to get the whole Bill, and in proceeding on these lines the Government would 1733 be well advised to trust rather to the enthusiasm of their friends than to the forbearance of their enemies. In an earlier portion of the debate the hon. Member for Leicester had described the clause dealing with single-school areas as a proposal amounting to the secular solution.
§ MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD
said his point was that if parents desired to accept special facilities, which were provided for outside school hours, and did not accept Cowper-Templeism, that to all intents and purposes would satisfy those who advocated the secular solution.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
said he was surprised that any form of settlement could be regarded as paving the way to the secular solution which provided for the establishment of Cowper-Temple teaching by statutory bargain on behalf of the trustees when they transferred the schools to the local authority. If a local authority took over a school in a single-school area on the basis that they would give Cowper-Temple teaching, that was a statutory bargain, and he did not see how any compulsion should be required for such a transfer. The only comment he wished to make on that was that it was a violation of the discretion of the local authority. It was only an approximation to the right of the parent which they were giving under the present system of education, because in the single school parishes which had been transferred they had Cowper-Temple teaching compulsorily established, whereas in the other schools, which were not in single-school areas, they had such teaching merely at the option of the local authority. He had no doubt that that point had received the attention of his right hon. friend, and that he was satisfied it could be adjusted. He had been struck with the speech of the gentleman who moved the Resolution condemning this Bill at the Representative Church Council. He was much impressed with the statement made in that speech in favour of separate types of schools. That gentleman seemed to be of opinion that the best solution of the education question was that every sect should be housed in its own special building. That was an ideal which would 1734 not be acceptable to the majority of Liberals. It was true that some of them voted in favour of the Irish Universities Bill, which embodied the principle, but no doubt they did so in the belief that the principle could hardly be translated across the water. Certainly in England the true ideal of elementary education was not the separating of children into different schools according to their denominational differences, but rather, as far as possible, bringing them together in one school, and accommodating, on the best terms possible, their religious differences. The two problems of the town and the country were distinct. The Bill itself was a proof of how entirely different, both historically and actually, the question of the single-school parish was from the question of the school of the urban area. The question of the teacher, for example, was much more easy of solution where they had one school in which all the denominations were accommodated than where they had separate types of schools, with teachers attached to each denomination, and whose pay and prospects it was extremely difficult to reduce to a single common denominator. Therefore he urged that the Government should consider whether it would not be desirable, whatever became of the rest of the Bill, to proceed with the clauses affecting single school areas. His right hon. friend the First Lord of the Admiralty said on the First Reading of the Bill that he was ambitious. Ambition was the leading vice of politicians, but he thought that the field for its display ought to be carefully chosen. The Liberal Party had to deal not with a social evil, but with a social inequality, and it could not, as in the case of the licensing question, summon the assistance of the great moral and spiritual agencies which had sustained it in many a stormy battle in the cause of social reform. The question was urgent, and he was keenly anxious that the Government should not go out of office without having done something to redress the grievance in the single-school areas. The present Opposition, if they came into power, would do nothing to deal with the question, or to vindicate the right of the parent, which was violated in these single school parishes, and which 1735 in 1902 they absolutely refused to touch with the tips of their fingers. He suggested that the Government should if necessary divide the Bill into two, and, at all costs, proceed with that portion which dealt with the single-school parish school. The practical advantages of so doing were extremely great. Might he say without cynicism that practical advantages were not to be despised in politics? There would be this advantage, that by dealing separately with the single-school areas, the Government would gain the support of the Irish Party, who would have no cause for intervention. That would be a distinct gain to them. It would also be a gain to the Opposition, who, while they had not scrupled to receive the votes of Irish Roman Catholics, were extremely loth to endure too close an embrace from their representatives in the division lobbies. It would probably be a gain to the Irish Party themselves, who on this question were at issue with some, at least, of the priests of their own religion in this country. He believed that on educational grounds there was amongst the great body of men and women of the country a sincere desire for a settlement. By pressing forward the question of the single-school areas they would not prejudice the settlement in the urban areas. No doubt there was some idea of compensation as between town and country, but if a settlement could be achieved of the difficulty between the Church and Nonconformity in the single school areas, then he believed they would have settled the major portion of the controversy, and would have done something to get rid of the spectre of religious difficulty in the schools, in which the education of the children shrank and was stunted. He hoped the Government would not go out of office leaving, at any rate, one of their pledges dishonoured, and that the one which affected most vitally the future of the children of the country.
§ *SIR JOHN RANDLES (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
said that from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading down to that of the last speaker it did not seem to him that any strong argument in favour of the Bill had been advanced. The speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty himself 1736 was directed chiefly to the question of compromise, peace and conciliation, or, in the alternative, threats. It was assumed that Nonconformity was hostile to the Church. There was Nonconformity and Nonconformity. He himself was a Nonconformist, but he was in no sense desirous of settling the controversy in a spirit in any way antagonistic to the Church to which he did not belong. He was satisfied with Cowper-Temple teaching but at the same time he saw no reason why ratepayers or taxpayers belonging to other Churches should not have every facility he would desire for himself. The hon. Member for the Louth Division of Lincolnshire had illustrated the attitude of mind of many Nonconformists when he referred to the fact that no Protestant teacher would be appointed to the school of the Roman Catholic. Such a thing was not at all likely, and yet the very essence of the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty in moving the Second Reading was that there would be no test for teachers. He himself was quite convinced that no body of men associated with the Wesleyans would ever tolerate the presence of a Roman Catholic teacher in their school. The matter would, therefore, work both ways. They might make a great virtue by saying that there should be no tests for teachers, yet underlying it all was the fact that in some form or other the teacher would be stamped with the creed of the school to which he was appointed. The difficulty of the question centred round the single school area. In the urban districts and large towns the difficulty was non-existent. The Bill of 1902 was a great advance. It removed grievances, but not every grievance. It did much for education; but the legislation which was to follow did not deal so much with education as with the religious aspect of the question. He was not at all unfriendly in his attitude to the £100,000 grant to the necessitous districts. If there was a grievance there let it be remedied; but the grievance was greatly exaggerated. After the Act of 1902 it was thought by the authorities of the Church referred to by the hon. Member for Louth that grievances would arise, and they issued a circular to every superintendent minister throughout the country asking that they should draw 1737 attention to any grievance that arose either to parent or child in consequence of that Act. A report was made to the Conference, at which he himself was present, which stated that no case that constituted a grievance had arisen in the Church. That showed him that the grievance which was alleged to be so acute by some hon. Members was, to a large extent, a grievance of political Nonconformists rather than of religious Nonconformists. He did not say that there was no ground of complaint, but it was exaggerated, not in the interests of education, but in the interests of political Nonconformity, and he did not think that that was helpful to the settlement of the controversy in which they were engaged. The great object he had, as a Nonconformist and as a citizen, was that whatever the Bill, if carried through the House, did or did not do, it should not put a single child outside the scope of a national system of education. No matter how small a number of children were put outside the scope of a national system, they would create a grievance which could not be easily met, a grievance which would grow, which would strike at the children of any section of the community, whether Roman Catholic or Anglican, and which they could not tolerate as a nation for any length of time. Contracting-out or any device designed to get round a particular corner or difficulty would fail and have to be undone, because it would strike a blow at the children of the land and be injurious to the best interests of the nation.
*MR. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS (Carmarthen District)
said that no one could have listened to the course of the debate and contrasted it in his mind with the tone and temper of the debate two years ago without feeling that here at last they were within approximate distance of arriving at some basis of settlement. They were discussing that night not so much the Second Reading of the Bill before the House, but as to whether its provisions afforded a basis for the negotiations which they understood were about to take place for a peaceful settlement of a controversy that ought to have been settled long ago. The time was opportune. The passions which flared up five years ago had gone down. The 1738 firebrands had become olive branches. Dr. Clifford and the Archbishop of Canterbury vied with each other as to how they could attain some effective way out of the difficulty; and he thought it would be a reproach and even a tragedy if under these circumstances they in the House of Commons, when everything seemed to point to a peaceful solution, failed to find some effective way towards a settlement of this much-vexed question. He thought the first thing to do was to understand and appreciate as far as they could the standpoint of the other side. He did not think a single Member on the opposite side of the House would deny that there was a real and genuine Nonconformist grievance in the single-school areas. That opinion had been admitted by none more heartily and sincerely than by Lord Hugh Cecil. The noble Lord had said that there was a grievance and it ought to be removed at the first possible opportunity. In so far as this grievance was concerned did this Bill provide an effective remedy? The Bill, in his view, would leave no trace behind it of this grievance to the Nonconformists. But was it quite certain that in removing the Nonconformist grievance in the single-school districts they might not be creating another form of grievance, though not so heavy or quite so objectionable, as the grievance they sought to remove? They on that side of the House had in moments of heated controversy said, and said quite truly, that the Church schools in the rural districts had been too often established and maintained, not so much for educational or for sectarian purposes and for the purpose of evading a school board rate. That was true. But there could be no doubt in the mind of any candid man that at all events a large number of these Church schools in rural districts had been built in the first instance, and maintained subsequently at great sacrifices, by men whose only object was to secure Church of England teaching for the children of Church of England parents; and unless they accepted that he did not see how they could come to any permanent or speedy settlement of the matter. What did this Bill offer to the Church of England owners of Church of England schools? It gave them no return for 1739 the surrender of their schools to the State. This was one defect in the Bill which should be remedied in the negotiations outside. Something ought and must be given as an equivalent or compensation to the Church of England people who were asked to consent to the alteration of the whole character of the schools by their being changed into State schools. What was the Nonconformist grievance in the urban areas? The reality of that grievance was sometimes disputed, but in his opinion it was none the less there. The cardinal tenet of Nonconformity—the cardinal principle of its existence—was that the State had no right to interfere with any man's religion at all; that no State, no matter how high-minded its individual members might be, could be trusted to teach religion in the schools or anywhere else; that religion was beyond the scope of the State itself. That was the view taken by Mr. Richard and Mr. E. Miall, and that was why they fought for the secular solution in 1870. And few Nonconformists looking back on the past thirty-eight years would deny that had Mr. Richard and Mr. Miall had their way a great deal of this unhappy controversy would have been eliminated from the social life of the country. It had been said that they could not understand or appreciate the conscience which, while it could tolerate the support of denominationalism out of the taxes, revolted actively against the endowment of that denominationalism out of the rates. He thought that that was a very unfair criticism of the Nonconformist position. Those who knew the history of this question knew that the Nonconformists from the start refused to accept the compromise of 1870 and that one of the things which led to the defeat of the Gladstone Government in 1874 was the defection of the Nonconformists. The compromise of 1870 was entered into without their consent and against their protests. Whereas in 1870 for every penny the voluntary schools received out of public funds another penny was contributed by the denominationalists, by 1902 the compromise was so whittled down that the proportion of voluntary contributions to State aid stood at 2d. to every shilling. Noncon- 1740 formists had no opportunity of making their protest except at the polls, and immediately the Act of 1902 gave an opportunity they did protest more than vocally and in such a way that they refused the payment of the rates until the leaders of the Opposition were at last convinced that there was a strong Nonconformist opposition to the Act of 1902. Neither was it fair to say that Cowper-Temple teaching meant Nonconformity. He should have thought that anyone that knew anything about Nonconformity knew that Nonconformist doctrine transcended the syllabus of the London School Board. He instanced the case of the Baptist denomination. The one point of doctrine of that denomination which differentiated it from others was the doctrine of adult baptism by immersion. But that was a doctrine that could not be taught under the Cowper-Temple Clause. It was absurd and unjust to say that all that Nonconformists wanted was provided for them in the Cowper-Temple Clause. He admitted that during the last thirty-eight years since the great debates in 1870 the position of the Nonconformists had greatly changed, and that their attitude towards State teaching of religion had undergone a revolutionary and disastrous alteration. In those days the cardinal principle of Nonconformists was that no religious teaching should be paid for out of public money or be recognised by the State. Such teaching had to be by voluntary effort alone. From that position they had been lured or driven, step by step, for the sake of peace, until they accepted, at first reluctantly, but with increasing conviction as time went on, that what was called simple Bible teaching should be given in the State schools by State paid teachers. Nonconformists must bitterly regret that now, because ever since they departed from the standpoint of their predecessors they had never ceased to be taunted with having sold their principles. The consequence was that the solution of this difficulty became much more difficult and complicated than it otherwise would have been. What was the grievance left to the Nonconformists in urban areas where there was a choice of schools? So far as he could see the only grievance that now existed was that denominational teaching was paid 1741 for out of public money and taught by State-paid teachers who had to submit to tests. It was almost impossible to reconcile the position of the Nonconformists who believed in and advocated Cowper-Temple instruction in schools by State-paid teachers to children compelled by the State to attend, with their being opposed to denominational teaching in an Anglican school. So long as Nonconformists agreed with Cowper-Temple teaching in the schools of this country they could not refuse to the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches the right that their religion should be taught at public expense by State-paid teachers. They objected to dogmatic teaching, but every article in the Christian faith was a dogma. The first words of the Lord's Prayer were a dogma which could not be accepted by those who did not believe in the Christian faith. The answer to the statement that the Cowper-Temple syllabus provided the fundamental teaching of Christianity was that that was not the case, as the hon. and learned Member for Waterford had said. Cowper-Temple teaching was something quite inconsistent with the religion of the Roman Catholics, and was repugnant to that religion; it was a new religion quite distinct from that taught in the Roman Catholic schools. The attitude of the Nonconformists in this matter was not a reasonable attitude. So long as there were members of great religious communities in this country who said they could not accept Cowper-Temple teaching as an essential part of their religious teaching, by endowing Cowper-Temple teaching the State was endowing a religion with which these people were at variance, and they had a right to say: "You have endowed a religion which is not Nonconformist, but which is not consistent with that religion, and therefore you must endow our form of religion in the same way." The conclusion he would like the House to arrive at was that come to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, whose absence from the House they deplored. The conclusion come to by the right hon. Gentleman, and that which he now respectfully urged on the House as the only way out of the difficulty, was that they should recognise that the State had nothing to do with religious teaching, 1742 and that State-paid teachers as such should not be required to teach religion of any kind, but that there should be a universal right of entry to the schools for all denominations. On those lines alone would it be found possible to arrive at anything like a permanent settlement of this question. There should only be one system of education, so far as secular education was concerned, and no religious tests for teachers, and, whatever religious teaching was to be given in the future should be given at the expense of the denomination who desired that teaching, but there should be universal right of entry into the schools for all denominations. He knew there were difficulties in the way of this, and whether the right of entry should be inside or outside school hours and whether a State-paid teacher appointed without religious tests was to be allowed to volunteer to impart religious instruction constituted the two great difficulties that had to be met. He differed from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham on both those points; he was of opinion that religious teaching should not be given in school hours. But if that were conceded, he did not see any great danger in allowing the teachers to volunteer to impart the instruction, because he could quite understand that by so doing, they would fasten themselves on the minds of the children far more than in any other way. If there were this overmastering desire on the part of the teachers to take part in the religious instruction of the children, then it was not too much to ask them to come half-an-hour before the school commenced in order to do so. There was an attempt in Wales a few years back to come to an agreement on this education question, and the Bishop of St. Asaph and the Chancellor of the Exchequer met and formed a real concordat, which was accepted by every one of the Welsh County Councils, which were composed of a vast majority of Nonconformists, and the most influential laymen throughout Wales. The religious teaching was given at nine o'clock in the morning, whereas the school hour commenced at 9.45. The teacher during the three quarters of an hour was allowed to volunteer to give religious teaching. That, of course, 1743 meant that there would be the right of entry for every denominationalist, not only to Church but also to board schools. There was that concession made to the Church in return for the concession they made. It was a real concordat. He was sorry, therefore, that through circumstances which he need not relate to the House that concordat was not put into operation. The fault was neither that of the Eishop of St. Asaph nor that of his right hon. friend. If it had been put into operation, they would have had a very valuable object-lesson in the ease and facility with which the question, which had been unnecessarily invested with difficulties, could be solved by the exercise of a little commonsense and a sense of fair play.
§ LORD EDMUND TALBOT (Sussex, Chichester)
If the hon. Member who has just sat down will allow me, I should like at once to recognise the very liberal tone of his speech, and to thank him—firstly as a Catholic—for the very kind words he used in reference to my own persuasion. I cannot agree with the suggestion he made that this controversy should be settled by religious instruction being given outside school hours, but I none the less appreciate the kind tone of his remarks. But it is remarkable that every speaker who has yet spoken from the Government side of the House, with the exception of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, while expressing willingness to vote for the Second Reading, has remonstrated, and remonstrated strongly, about the terms of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down—I think I am not unfairly criticising the whole of his speech—spoke not on the merits of the Bill before us at all. I should like to call attention to one point which I do not think has yet received much attention, and that is that this Bill entirely repeals the Free Education Act of 1891, and I think it is somewhat startling that the Government—the Liberal Government of to-day—should destroy that great charter of free education to the poorer classes of the country. It is, of course, true that under this Bill free education can still be obtained for those—but for those only—whose parents are content with the establishment in 1744 this country of one religious form of education. I speak with some feeling on this point, because, when the Free Education Act of 1891 was passing through this House, it was argued in favour of its passage, and from both sides of the House, that those who would benefit most by its, becoming law were my own co-religionists, the Catholics of this country. Now in this Bill that grant of free education is repealed, and my co-religionists in place of it are told that they may pay fees, while at the same time they have to pay their share of the rates for schools to which they cannot send their children. Whether that was intentional or unintentional, I do not know, but I must, on behalf of my co-religionists, say that in my humble opinion that is nothing less than an insult to the poorest of the Catholics in this country. It is not necessary for me to go into the question of the insufficiency of the 47s. grant, in reference to the contracting-out scheme. That has been dealt with by the hon. Member for Waterford, and I hope by this time it is conclusive to the Government, and to hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, that this scheme, whether or not it was intended especially and alone for my co-religionists, is absolutely impossible, and one which under no circumstances whatever can we possibly accept. I do not really understand—considering the speeches we have heard, and what we know to be the feeling outside in reference to this question—from what motives the Government have brought forward the Second Reading. It is palpable and evident that this Bill cannot pass even if forced through this House. And even if it became law, it could no be worked and would not be worked. Certainly, so far as children of my co-religionists are concerned, their parents will not pay the rates for schools to which they cannot send their children, and at the same time pay fees to the schools to which they can send them. To prophesy, I know, is dangerous, but I think on this occasion it is safe to prophesy that this Bill will certainly not become the law of the land.
§ *MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
said the Bill might be regarded 1745 from two points of view. It might be regarded, as the hon. Member for Louth a little while ago regarded it, from the point of view of the single school districts, or it might be regarded from the point of view of the urban areas. As a London Member, he desired to regard it from the latter point of view. He did not propose, therefore, to traverse the whole field of the Bill, but to limit his remarks to one portion of it, viz., the provisions regarding contracting-out. From the point of view of educationists, contracting-out was absolutely bad and reactionary. He never thought that the Liberal Party, when the community had once acquired control over the schools, although it was true that that control was partial and incomplete, would go back upon that principle. It always seemed to him that the natural and almost inevitable course of development would be in the direction of complete control of the schools. It was that belief which reconciled him in some degree to the Act of 1902, because it seemed to him to be a kind of halfway house. He was sorry, therefore, that now, instead of going forward to get a complete and absolute control—popular control—this Bill contained provisions for exempting an indefinite number of schools from the control which they already possessed. Let them consider what contracting-out meant from the practical and administrative point of view. It was becoming more and more the tendency not to treat a school as a separate and independent unit, but to group schools together for various purposes. It was becoming quite common, for instance, to send a teacher round to a group of schools to give special instruction. It was obvious that under these circumstances the contracted-out schools would be deprived of that advantage. Again, there were laundry and domestic training centres, manual training schools, and similar institutions under common management; and there were the questions of the feeding of school children and medical inspection. In all these respects the contracted-out schools would be at a very serious disadvantage. Then, from the financial point of view, if these proposals were to take effect, the ante-1902 position would be repeated. The strain would again become intolerable. It was 1746 true they were proposing to increase the Government grant by some 5s. or 6s., but having regard to the increased cost of all the old services of the schools which were in existence before 1902, and having regard also to the fact that they had imposed upon the schools new services, the deficiency to be supplied from voluntary sources would certainly not be less than it was before 1902 if the contracted-out schools were to be kept up to the level of the public elementary schools. It was now suggested that they were providing safeguards in this Bill for maintaining the efficiency of the contracted-out schools, but those safeguards would prove absolutely illusory. Everyone who was acquainted with the history of the subject knew that in practice before 1902 there were two standards, one applied to the rate-aided schools and another and lower standard applied to the voluntary schools. Under a contracting-out system, they would inevitably revive those two standards. London had always been unjustly treated in regard to the amount of Imperial grants which it had obtained. At present the Government grants which London received were only 29 per cent. of the total expenditure whereas the Government grants which the county boroughs received to aid the education rate were over 53 per cent., and under the proposed redistribution of grants London would only receive 36 per cent. of its total expenditure. In fact, London was harder hit by the imposition of the 6s. limit than any other part of the country, and he strongly pressed upon the Government that in justice to London that 6s. limit ought not to be applied to the case of the Metropolis. But his more immediate purpose was to point out the effect of the proposed redistribution of the grant upon voluntary schools in London. It would be absolutely impossible to maintain the contracted-out schools in London on a level of efficiency with the public elementary schools. The London County Council spent on voluntary schools £3 16s. 8d. per child, and that was entirely independent of administration expenses. If they added, say, 5s. a child, which was a very moderate estimate, for the upkeep of the buildings, they arrived at a sum of at least £4 per child for the maintenance of the voluntary schools.
1747 At most the Government grant would be 47s. per child, and there was no security that it would be at that level. Thus a sum of about 34s. per child would have to be supplied from voluntary sources to maintain the schools even at their present rate of expenditure. But the present rate was considerably less than the expenditure upon the provided school. The staffing and the salaries of the non-provided schools were being gradually raised to the level of the provided schools, and therefore, the present expenditure upon the voluntary schools would have to be considerably increased if their efficiency in respect of staff, both as regarded quality and number, were to be kept upon the same level with the provided schools. He deprecated contracting-out altogether, but if they were to have contracting-out he put in a claim on behalf of London, and having regard to its particular circumstances it would be only fair that London should have special treatment.
§ MR. LANE-FOX (Yorkshire, W.R., Barkston Ash)
said the main feeling that a very large number of Members must have had on hearing the First Lord of the Admiralty was one of profound disappointment, because whatever their ideas on the subject of the Bill might be, at any rate they had come to the House with full impression that they were going to learn something they did not know before. They thought they were going to realise what the proposals of the Government were to be after the curious oscillations of policy of the past month, but the speech told them absolutely nothing. To allude to an extremely old story, the speech of the First Lord reminded him of the famous American politician, who said: "These are my principles. If you don't like them I will change them." What he actually said was that he would not recommend the Bill on its merits, but mainly on the ground that it would be of an absolutely different character, that safeguards would be introduced; he recommended it, not because of what it was, but because of what he hoped to make it. Under the circumstances it would have been fairer to the House and certainly more satisfactory to his own 1748 party, and more likely to conduce to the success of the Bill if he had given some indication of what the Bill was going to be, instead of this apparently rather disreputable shadow which he declined to bless even in the most modified form. It was to his mind typical of a sort of funeral oration on a rather disreputable relative in which the orator wished to make the most of the best points he could find, but could find very few. The impression left on his mind was that the right hon. Gentleman, fully conscious, as indeed he might well be, owing to the criticisms which had come from his own side, of the defects of the Bill, was only anxious to try and gloss them over in the hope that during the course of the next few weeks some bit of good luck might so transform the Bill that it might pass the House in a different form. It was absolutely useless to wave the secular bogey. The people of this country would never tolerate the secular solution, and the argument was absolutely futile. That was the strength of their position. If the solution of the Government failed, as it was inevitably bound to fail—as it was admitted it would—they would have to come back to their standard, which was to provide fair play for all denominations, and equal and fair treatment without unduly favouring one or the other. The characteristics of the people of this country had always been their strong feeling of justice and desire for fair play, especially to minorities—an almost sentimental desire which had often led them into making great mistakes. It would eventually secure the solution that they all desired, and the absolute failure of the Government proposals. It was perfectly impossible that any Bill conceived in the spirit in which this had been could ever hope to pass through the House of Commons, and if it did it was impossible that it could ever be worked in the country. The right hon. Gentleman made a most amazing statement when he said the Bill introduced by the Bishop of St. Asaph's was to all intents and purposes the same as the Bill of the Government. He had deliberately left out two or three of the most important differences. He had made no allusion to teachers being allowed to give religious instruction, or to the right of entry into council schools, or 1749 to the giving of denominational teaching in schools hours. These were three points of essential difference, and there were many others. The argument that, because a certain but very much misguided favour was accorded to the Bishop of St. Asaph's Bill, the whole of the party which opposed the Government were committed to the Government Bill was absolutely absurd and was not likely to commend itself to anyone who had studied the question. The right hon. Gentleman had given a caricature of the Bishop of St. Asaph's Bill, and when the Bishop read it he would begin to see ever more than he did now what a great mistake he had made in delivering himself into the hands of the enemy, and proposing a compromise of which he could not have thought out the full purport and meaning. They were in a great difficulty, he admitted, owing to the absolute impossibility of discussing, not the Bill as they had it, but the Bill with the shadowy gloss which the First Lord had endeavoured to place upon it. It seemed to him that he had put his successor in an extremely difficult position by the speech he had made. He would be extremely sorry if he were the President of the Board of Education to have to carry out legislation on the lines which had been laid down. He believed that, particularly in rural districts, there were two main points on which the last general election turned. They were the questions of whether the education rate was to be maintained, and there was a strong grievance against it as being a new payment which they had not had to make before, and among a certain section there was a feeling of grievance. The Liberal Party denounced the education rate on the ground of its being sectarian and unfair. A large portion of the rural ratepayers took that to mean that the Liberal Government would reduce or abolish it. In the same way a certain number voted on the question of the religious grievance and religious freedom as they called it. But the Government in the two main Bills which they had brought forward had deliberately broken both these implied pledges. They had largely increased the possibility of the education rates going up and had made the religious question infinitely more difficult. In rural districts where there was a 1750 large urban population they were suffering under a very great grievance. In the village where he lived they were paying over £100 a year over and above what the school cost to maintain, and in excess of the benefit they actually got for elementary education. That was due to the fact that the school board debts which were almost entirely incurred by urban districts had been put on the country rate instead of on the district rate, and also owing to the extravagant administration in urban districts. It was obvious that in rural districts where they were not so much needed as in urban districts the rates would be very much higher. In the West Riding of Yorkshire there was 85,000 surplus places in the elementary schools over and above the number of children on the register. It was said that this was due to the shifting of the population, but even if that were so it would be in the urban districts where the increase was likely to take place, and they would suffer from an increase of rates in the rural districts. Therefore he was justified in saying that, despite the larger grants to education, as far as the rates were concerned, the rural districts would be in an infinitely worse position than in former years. As regarded the religious grievance, that was patent to everybody, and the Bill which the Chief Secretary for Ireland introduced was very much fairer than the present measure. In the West Riding of Yorkshire it was said there were 1,100 children who required accommodation on account of this religious grievance, but even that number was arrived at by exaggeration. In one village the parents of eighty children asked for a provided school where there was only a Church of England school, but those eighty children were put down as 150; and if that proportion had been observed all through it was obvious that the total would be less than 1,100. That proved how shadowy this alleged grievance was. In his own district there had been no serious religious difficulty, and he did not think it was ever likely to arise. In the Bill of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, although he took away their schools to be maintained during school hours they had the full right of using the schools out of 1751 school hours, but that was now to be taken away from them. In this Bill the Agnostic, the Liberationist, and anyone who objected to the doctrines of the Church of England were all treated on the same lines. The clergyman would have to pay a rent in order to hold a meeting in a voluntary school, and that was not the case under the previous Bill. The Chief Secretary also gave facilities for religious teaching out of the regular hours of school teaching. He thought, at any rate, that he was on firm ground in saying that under this Bill they had very much worse terms than under the Bill of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. A great deal had been said about compromise. If they had been told the basis of the compromise it would have been easier to arrive at a decision before the debate came to a conclusion. The cry for peace and compromise was a dangerous one in many ways. It was at such a time very often that the most vital principles were given away, and the greatest mistakes made. He did not believe that any solution arrived at by such means would be satisfactory or permanent. He did not believe in peace at any price, nor in terms in which one side gave everything and the other side took all. He thought it was extraordinarily bad tactics on the part of his own side to begin to offer terms now, the Government having got themselves into an impasse, and being able only to threaten them with the secular solution. The President of the Board of Education seemed to treat that statement as a joke. The Government had introduced this Bill and they had not even told the House what the nature of the compromise was to be. The people of this country would never accept the secular solution, and the Government could not go any further without penalising the Catholic schools. Consequently, they were bound to come back to the position of giving fair play to all denominations. The policy of bullying was never likely to succeed, and it was less likely to succeed now than ever it was. The strength of the Opposition had considerably increased in the constituencies, largely owing to the Government's education proposals. Every day there was a feeling growing that this question must be settled, not on a secular basis, 1752 but on the basis of fair play, compromise, and justice to all concerned. He did not believe that this measure was ever intended to pass; it was more or less of a sham adopted to get the opinions of the various sections of the House in order to steer a middle and safer course. Whatever decision the House came to in regard to this measure the only basis upon which the question could be finally and firmly settled was one of fair play and justice to all parties. They had had a great trust handed down to them and they should not throw it away lightly or without due consideration. The Government should recognise that conscience was not all on one side, and they could not expect them to rest content under an even greater grievance by giving up their principles and betraying the trust which had been handed down to them.
§ *MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD (Leicester)
said that the Labour Party was going to support the Second Reading of the Bill. The two points which commended themselves most of all to the party were the increased Government grant of 47s. to the local education authorities and the clause dealing with the single school areas. Under this clause parents might say: "We do not desire Cowper-Temple teaching," for the assumption was made by the Government that Cowper-Temple teaching was regarded as being denominationalism by a considerable section of the parents. In the transference of the schools, therefore, they might make provision for denominational instruction outside school hours. The parent who viewed Cowper-Temple teaching as denominationalism sent his child to receive secular education at a public school which might be used for the purpose of denominational education to be given by other than school teachers out of school hours. If that was a satisfactory compromise, it was based on a secular solution, and he was prepared to accept it. Right of entry outside school hours with the whole of the national system based on secular instruction, would be perfectly satisfactory. He would also vote for the Bill for a general reason. The Unionist Party when they were in a majority in the House did not show that love of justice and fair play so much spoken about in the debate. 1753 They made a mistake in 1902 when they were in a position to show that they did love justice and fair play as far as the Nonconformists were concerned. Every one admitted that the conditions created by the Act of 1902 needed to be readjusted. It did not matter whether they agreed with passive resisters or not, but they must admit that there was such a thing as passive resistance. The position of the passive resister was, from his own point of view, at any rate, a very reasonable one, and it was the duty of this House to make such an alteration in the educational law of the land as would make passive resistance, if it was to be carried on at all, absolutely irrational. But he could only describe the present debate as one of confusion. What were they really discussing? Nominally the House was discussing that evening the Second Reading of the Bill, but the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty was, in effect, a throwing-over of the measure. The right hon. Gentleman had nothing to say for his Bill. He was not at all surprised at the adverse criticism which had been so plentiful during the afternoon from the other side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman himself had begun it. All he said was—I produce this Bill; whether I stick to it or not is another matter; if I can come to an arrangement on this Bill with the Bishop of St. Asaph or the Archbishop of Canterbury, within certain wide limits, then I am prepared to produce a Bill new in lock, stock, and barrel.Personally he was not opposed to that method of procedure; indeed he thought that the Government would have been wise had they adopted it in 1906. He was surprised to find that the Unionists thought the Bill of 1906 such a blessed measure. He never knew that they loved the Bill so much until he heard them professing a posthumous affection for it that afternoon. That, at any rate, was a cue to the Government. If the Government were to enter into a conference—which he hoped might be successful—would they revive the Bill of 1906 and propose to come to an arrangement with the other side by reintroducing the four-fifths clause? Would they consult the hon. Member for the Barkston Ash division as to the parts of the Bill of 1906 which he had been blessing in such unmeasured terms this evening?
§ *MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD
did not think it would be profitable to discusgss the actual words employed by the hon. Gentleman. He was bound to say the expressions used by the hon. Gentleman in his speech seemed to him to be infinitely more lavish in praise of the Bill of 1906 than the words he now used. Was the conference into which the Government was about to enter to be a religious or a political one? Was it going to be a conference, the result of which the Government would accept as satisfactory if it came to an arrangement merely with the Archbishop and the Bishop of St. Asaph, or would the success of the conference be measured by how far the Government was able to secure the assent of the Opposition to the new form of the Bill? He thought the House ought to have some information as to what the scope of the conference would be. Who was going to be at the conference? Were the representatives of the Government and of the Established Church alone to be at the conference, or was it going to be also attended by the hon. Member for the Louth Division? Was it going to be attended by political representatives? Was the Front Opposition Bench to nominate a representative, or was the House itself to be at the conference at all? It was true the Government could come to an arrangement with the Archbishop and then put on their Whips to carry the arrangement through the House by a majority. But he would point out that the Trade Union Congress, the Labour Party Conferences, and Labour organisations of all kinds had shown a burning desire to settle this question and had instructed every Labour Member to adopt a certain policy. If the conference was going to result in something that would be carried by the House practically by consent, surely the opinions of the great organised labour movement of the country must be consulted and allowed to voice themselves at the conference just as much as the representatives of the Church of England. They were particularly interested in the controversy as their people were vitally interested in the 1755 educational efficiency of the public elementary schools. They were specially interested because if the Bill emerged from the conference in a new form they would have less power than they usually had in Committee to make changes in the Bill, since it would then be no longer the proposal of the Government subject to modifications, but it would be a Bill which was the subject of previous agreement, and no alteration could be accepted by the Government outside the scope of that agreement. Therefore, it was necessary that all parties should be represented at the conference. The religious difficulty, unfortunately, was the main cause of trouble in this matter. They might talk about education, but they knew that, at the back of their minds, was sectarian strife. It was a historical inheritance, and they had to make the best of it. He begged the Government not to talk of Cowper-Templeism as a weapon against denominationalism He himself might be prepared to accept it as undenominational, but then he must not be asked to send his child to be taught in school the spiritual grace and beauty of the Gospel of St. John by a man who had not passed a religious test. If they were going to teach the most fundamental rudiments of religious ethics, provided that they went beyond the ethical border into the domain of religion, the man who taught them ought to be just as subject to a religious test as the man who taught the dogmas and tenets of Roman Catholicism. He thought the Government would have been wise to have faced an educational propaganda in the country for a unified national system upon secular lines, allowing denominationalists to come in before or after school hours. This Bill did not affect Roman Catholic schools; they would have to be dealt with separately. He would suggest that a solution or a semi-solution might have been grafted on to the four-fifths clause. They had sacrificed the denominational claim, but only by a method of jumping out of the frying-pan of 1902 into the fire of 1870. He supposed the day would come—he hoped it was far off—when hon. Gentlemen sitting above the gangway would be able to get a majority from the country, and the 1756 educational history of 1902 might be repeated. They were only playing a game of battledore and shuttlecock, and not presenting a solution of the religious difficulty. The Labour Party were strongly, definitely, and decisively committed against the contracting-out system. They did not believe in it, and they would not accept it. They would divide the House, in and out of Committee, every possible time against contracting-out, because they did not believe that any contracting-out system would be effective; but, as compromise was in the air, if contracting-out was to be forced upon them against their hopes, might he suggest that the Government should protect them against its worst evils? Everybody who had been a member or a manager of a school board, or education authority, knew the truth of the admission made by the Minister of Education himself which had been read by the hon. Member for Waterford, that they could not keep up the efficiency of the contracted-out schools merely by sending to them Whitehall inspectors. These could not bring the same pressure to bear on contracted-out schools as on ordinary public schools. That being so, and one of the causes of the inefficiency of the contracted-out schools being the low salaries paid to the teachers, would not the Government insist on adequate salaries being paid to them? Would they not rigidly insist upon a standard of efficiency for all teachers in recognised schools, and upon efficient apparatus being used in those schools? The result would be that instead of a grant of 47s. it would become more like 57s. Forty-seven shillings was a purely hypothetical figure, and had no relation to the needs of the school. It would not keep them up to their present standard, for, as soon as they were contracted-out, down would go the standard, and the gain in improvement made in the last ten years would be lost. He, therefore, begged the Government, if they did not stand out against contracting-out, to protect the children by seeing that the contracted-out schools were kept up to the efficient standard by giving them out of the national purse a sufficient sum to enable them to keep up to the standard. Another point which had been brought home to him very forcibly by a deputation 1757 from certain denominational teachers the other day. They said that they were prepared to accept lower salaries, to teach larger classes, to sacrifice flesh and blood to carry out their principles; but that the greatest grievance they would have to suffer if the Bill passed in its present form would be that they would have to go back under clerical domination. Therefore, would the right hon. Gentleman give security to those teachers and put them on a minimum wage, and supplement that by granting them absolute security of tenure even if contracted-out? If the right hon. Gentleman would thus temper the wind to the shorn lamb, the lamb would still object to being shorn, but would be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman all the same if he accepted the suggestion now made. The point the Labour Party felt most upon was contracting-out. They were going to hold to the secular solution. The right hon. Gentleman might say it was impracticable and would not be accepted by the people. He was not quite so sure of that. The country was much more intelligent than a great many imagined it was, and he was certain that it was thoroughly sick of the un-Christian and disgraceful squabble which had so retarded our educational progress during the last century. Some people talked about tariff reform to protect us against the Germans, but there would be more sound reason in the argument that a settlement of the religious difficulties and the securing of real educational progress would do more to protect us against the Germans. His party were not going to accept contracting-out, but if it was going to be forced upon them he asked the Government to realise that it would settle nothing at all, unless at the same time they secured efficiency in the contracted-out schools, so that their children should not suffer and the denominationalist might not feel so aggrieved as he was bound to feel in its present form.
§ *MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)
congratulated the hon. Gentleman on his very interesting speech. They always listened to him with pleasure. Of course the hon. Gentleman would not expect him to agree with his solution, though he did agree with many things he had said. He did not agree that the solution 1758 of this matter would be the secular solution, because he thought that the intelligence of the country was rising, and that the people were more sensible and took a wider view of these things than they used to do. It could not be denied by anyone who watched the present condition of things that the secular solution would never commend itself to the bulk of the people of this country. [An HON MEMBER below the gangway: No.] The hon. Gentleman said "No"; he represented a large number of the working classes of the highest intelligence in this country, but there were a large number of the working-classes whose sentiments were not those of the Labour Members, and he thought that the hon. Member would find when there came to be a real conflict over this question between the religious and secular solution, that it would not be the secular solution that would prevail. However, he might be wrong, and the hon. Gentleman might be right. He cordially agreed with the hon. Gentleman in his repudiation of contracting-out. Of all the miserable expedients which had been suggested for the settlement of the education question, that of putting a certain number of schools, whose managers and supporters happened to differ from other people in the country in their religious views, on a lower educational basis was the most miserable. Therefore, if the hon. Gentleman would accept his support, he would be very glad to go into the lobby with him on any Amendment which would destroy the contracting-out clause. As to the Bill itself, he had had the honour of a seat in the House for a very great number of years, and had heard a large number of Bills of various kinds introduced and speeches delivered in their favour, but he had never heard so unsatisfactory a statement on behalf of a Government Bill from the representative of any Government as he had heard that day. The right hon. Gentleman was a very able man and could speak very well, but he had unfortunately had a task put before him which it was absolutely impossible to fulfil, for he was moving the Second Reading of a Bill which was not intended to pass. Whoever heard of that before? There was a Government, with the greatest majority 1759 ever known, proposing a Bill on a cardinal matter of policy which was to be sent to the other side of the House and they were to propose the Amendments. This was a Government with an enormous majority, and when it came to one of their great Bills, one of the great planks in their platform, they proposed the Second Reading of a Bill which the Opposition was to amend for them. If that was all the strongest Liberal Government could do all he could say was: "Save us from a strong Liberal Government." It was said by the right hon. Gentleman that there was no change in the policy of the Government, whilst at the same time they were told that they were in accord with another Bill of a different character. The right hon. Gentleman said, as he understood, that he was delighted with a Bill brought in by a Bishop in another place; that the Government Bill was the same as that of the Bishop; that the Bishop's Bill followed that of the Government; that its first clause was copied from that of the Government. So that what the House was really asked to do was not to support a Bill brought in by the Government, but one that had been introduced by a Bishop in another place, which the Government were going to take up, and which the right hon. Gentleman said contained the two great principles of public control and no religious tests for teachers. Public control they had always had. Public control meant that the State took care that the schools were administered in the way the State laid down as the proper means of educating the children of the country. That was already done by the attendance of His Majesty's inspectors, but what he supposed hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite meant was that the managers ought to be elected by some local body. Whether that would contribute to educational efficiency he took leave to doubt. With regard to religious tests for teachers, the hon. Member for Leicester had said that if religious instruction was given at all in a school outside school hours it ought to be given by a person who was convinced of its truth. He was very much struck with that remark. He could not understand this phrase, "No religious tests for teachers" so often repeated by hon. Gentlemen opposite 1760 that they had almost come to believe in it themselves. Before teachers taught, surely they should be tested as to whether they believed that which they were teaching. Hon. Members were led astray by this phrase. Everybody who undertook a public or private duty had to be tested. It could be no hardship to a cook that she should be tested as to whether she could cook, and therefore a teacher must be tested as to what he could teach. That was admitted so far as secular education was concerned, because the teachers were compelled to pass several examinations. But for the highest teaching, religious teaching, for that and that only, they were not to be allowed to have any tests. Who could possibly object to a person called upon to give religious teaching being a religious person, being tested as to whether he believed the teaching which he was called upon to give? That was all that was asked for. He objected quite as strongly as did the hon. Member for Leicester to contracting-out. We were acting under a law, which, though not perfect, with certain modifications worked extremely well. He was one of those who cordially supported the plan of giving facilities for Nonconformist teaching in single school areas or wherever Nonconformity pressed for them. That plan was not accepted at the time it was suggested, although it was possible of course that an arrangement of that kind might be made now. All he desired to say upon that question was that as a Member of the Opposition he declined to take the work of the Government into his hands. The position of himself and those who were acting with him was that they had one Act of Parliament which had worked for six years, and with which they were satisfied; the Government were not satisfied with it, and it was for the Government to show how they wished it to be amended. Then the Opposition would meet them and assist them, if possible, to settle these points. They had heard of a conference. If such a thing were to take place all parties alike would have to be represented. He was not sanguine that such a conference would take place before these debates closed, but, whether it met or not, of one thing he was certain, and that was that this educational difficulty would never be settled until 1761 it was recognised by those who attempted to settle it that the claims of conscience must be dealt with equally by all who had religious convictions. They had been accused of not having recognised sufficiently the Nonconformist grievance of former days, and of having trampled on Nonconformist consciences. Even supposing that that were true, and he would be sorry to have any share in such an offence, surely it was a wrong way to remedy a grievance which was acknowledged by imposing another grievance on another set of people. That was the cardinal vice of all these educational propositions of the present Government. They had ignored the fact brought home by the hon. Gentleman who had delighted the House by his maiden speech, and had forgotten that the Church of England had as deep religious convictions as the Roman Catholics, the Jews, the Nonconformists, and other religious-bodies. Until that was recognised this controversy would never be settled. In order to meet the demands of the Board of Education, large sums of money had been contributed by members of the Church of England for the repair, renovation, and in some cases, the rebuilding of schools, on the faith that when those schools were put in order they would be maintained in the same way as other schools. The proposition now was to take them away from the denomination which built them, in order that they might be made the property of the county councils and used as provided schools. Was it possible to settle the difficulty in this way? He had racked his brain to find out how it was that men who were moral, honest, and just could have come to this conclusion. Some of them, like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, took the extreme Nonconformist view and thought they could advance their cause in this way. It was a measure which absolutely ignored the elementary rights of at any rate one of the most important denominations of the country. He did not know whether it was a fortune or a misfortune; but, because the Church of England was an Established Church, was it to have no rights at all? If their consciences were not to be respected more than those of any other people, they ought to be respected as much. It should be 1762 remembered that it was the Church in the past which only provided for the elementary education of the people; and the reward Parliament was now asked to give to that body was to take away the schools she had built and maintained for all those years. Was that treatment which any fair body of men would mete out to those who had served the State as he claimed the Church had served it? He could assure the House and right hon. Gentleman opposite that if they wanted to settle this question, they must in the first place and from every point of view regard the religious convictions even of those most opposed to them as of equal value with their own. Whether they were to have a rearrangement or not, nothing could be a suitable or permanent settlement of the question which did not take that into account.
§ *MR. NAPIER (Kent, Faversham)
said he rose to support the Bill, not because he felt any great affection for it, and not because he liked it as well as the Bill of 1906, but because he believed it would create some improvement upon the existing condition of things. It seemed to be rather a severe attempt to translate into law principles which he believed the country decided at the general election of 1906, and to which he believed the country still adhered. He was greatly pleased to find that the First Lord of the Admiralty delivered a most conciliatory speech in moving the Second Reading. He was induced by that speech to hope that the severity of the letter of the Bill would give place to a spirit of sweet reasonableness on the part of the Government in dealing with it, and that that spirit would spread across the floor of the House so that they might be able in Committee to elaborate a compromise which, if not satisfactory to everybody, would at all events meet with the general approval of reasonable men on both sides of the House. Did the elements of a compromise exist? It was useless to talk about compromise unless the elements did exist. The principles embodied in the Chief Secretary's Bill of 1906 had often been referred to. They were: Complete public control, abolition of tests for teachers, and 1763 he thought he might also say, the establishment of the rule that public money should not be devoted to denominational teaching. Those were also, he thought, the principles decided upon by the country at the general election. He asked himself whether those principles, which were accepted by all Members on that side of the House, were not accepted to a great extent by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. They might not be accepted precisely in the same manner as they on that side accepted them, and, if hon. Gentlemen opposite had to draw up a Bill, it would probably not be the Bill as drawn by the Liberal Government; but still he ventured to submit that as a matter of fact a substantial agreement existed between the two sides of the House upon the principles to which he had referred. One need not go into the history of the question of complete public control. The fact that the Act of 1902 was believed by many hon. Members on the Conservative side of the House to embody, though not properly or fully, the principle of public control, that the Bishop of St. Asaph's Bill had a very large backing by the Church of England and was supported to some considerable extent on the opposite side of the House, and the declarations of the Archbishop of Canterbury that he was willing to acknowledge the system of public control—all pointed to, the fact that hon. Members on the opposite side of the House would accept the principle provided only they could obtain securities that it should not be used to the detriment of the denominational teaching to which they attached themselves. He did not gather that the principle that there should be no tests for teachers was repudiated by hon. Members on the opposite side of the House. He thought they with them believed that the teaching profession was after all a branch of the Civil Service, and that the members of it should be entitled to the benefit of the same rule as other members of the Civil Service. They said, however, that they were entitled to have some security that the teachers should be able to teach that which they professed to be able to teach. No one, he believed, had ever disputed that proposition. They believed, as hon. Gentlemen opposite 1764 believed, that they had no right to set a teacher to give either Cowper-Temple or denominational instruction unless they had security that he knew his subject and was able to impart it to his pupils. That, however, was a vastly different thing from inquiry into the personal belief of the teacher. They must trust the elementary teachers of the country, just as they trusted the masters of the great public schools of the country, not to play the hypocrite in relation to the religious teaching. They had no right to test a man's personal belief. It was a thing of the spirit and conscience and could not be satisfactorily subjected to any such tests. The Church of England said that they did not object to their money being devoted to the teaching of Wesleyan, Congregational, or Primitive Methodist forms of Christianity, but if those denominations felt that they could not conscientiously vote public money for the purpose of teaching the form of religious belief held by the Church of England, then he believd the Church of England were willing to consent to a rule that no public money should be given for the purpose of denominational teaching. If Church people could not make a sacrifice for peace by consenting to pay for the teaching of their own religion, he thought they did not rightly interpret the meaning of their religion. If these three points were conceded, points which formed, he thought, the verdict of the general election, then they had made some progress toward a settlement. All three points were comprised in the Bill. But there were two other principles on which, unless they could come to some agreement, they would not arrive at a settlement, and to which the people of the country attached very considerable importance. One was that they wished in any national settlement that there should be adequate security against secularism. He did not believe for a moment, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Leicester, that within any measurable Period this country would decide in favour of a secular system. In that House they might be wearied of the discussion of the religious question in relation to education. People who attended Church congresses and Nonconformist conferences and gatherings of that kind were no 1765 doubt weary of the subject by this time, and perhaps if left to themselves would turn to the secular solution. But the great mass of the people of the country were not sickened with education debates as they were. In his view, if any responsible statesman were to propose a secular solution, the country would give the unmistakeable answer that it would have none of it. The second thing which they would have to provide in any settlement which they might hope would be adopted, was that there should be proper facilities for denominational teaching. He had often wondered whether the demand for denominational teaching was as great as was represented, and he doubted if it was. He doubted whether there was any very large number of people who really did want it. He thought the Bishop of Birmingham was probably correct when he said that his view of the general establishment of Cowper-Temple teaching was that people would not avail themselves of facilities for denominational teaching for their children. But they had not exhausted the matter when they came to that conclusion. The point to which they should pay attention was that there was a very large number of people who did not themselves want denominational teaching for their own children, but who were strongly of opinion that for those who did want it there should be ample facilities. They were constantly told that Cowper-Temple teaching would satisfy members of the Church of England to a very great extent, and so he believed it would, but they were leaving out of consideration the important point that it would not satisfy those members of the Church of England who thought that those people who required denominational teaching should be able to have it. He felt he was very presumptuous, after so many persons of authority had spoken, in suggesting that the elements of a settlement existed, but he would not be doing his duty to the great cause of peace which he had much at heart unless he were to suggest what he thought were the outlines of a possible settlement. Assuming they had got these five things which it was necessary to satisfy in order to bring about educational peace—the three requisites upon which the general election was fought— 1766 public control, the abolition of tests for teachers, the establishment of the principle that public money should not be applied to denominational teaching; assuming also that the secular system was out of the question and that they had to satisfy this demand for denominational teaching—in what way was it possible to combine all these requisites in one system? They could not possibly establish a system of local option. He doubted whether the House would desire to do it. He thought they would all shrink very much indeed from the constant local conflicts about religion in connection with education which would follow upon the adoption of anything like a local option system. In his opinion the only way in which they could reconcile these five requisites, which in certain respects conflicted, was by establishing a national system of undenominational or fundamental Christianity which would be taught in completely publicly controlled schools at the expense of the State, supplemented by reasonable facilities for denominational teaching at the expense of the denominations in school hours. That was a logical system, complete undenominationalism as a State religion in education, complete and universal facilities for all denominations at the expense of the denomination and in school hours. Why national undenominationalism, he would be asked. Because it was necessary to guard the State against sectarianism. If they left religious teaching to be done only by the denominations there was very grave risk that in many parts of the country at various times they might be unable to get that religious teaching done. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham once pointed out how that system had failed in Birmingham. He believed that if they wished to ensure that there should be a religious system in the schools they would be bound to provide that it should be carried on at the expense of the State. He thought undenominationalism was not only necessary but advisable. In many parts of the country people would be perfectly willing to agree upon an undenominational syllabus, and if at the same time they gave facilities to the denominations, they would bring an additional lever or 1767 motive for driving the denominations to agree upon an undenominational syllabus which would be satisfactory to all of them. Probably on both sides of the House they were agreed that if they could get a common agreement upon religious subjects—if they could get the denominations to agree on a common order of teaching—it would be infinitely better for young children than to pen them in different rooms and to give different children different instruction in the various forms of Christianity for the different denominations. Then he would be asked, was it fair to pay for undenominational Christianity when they declined to pay for denominational Christianity? He thought it was fair. In the first place, they were admittedly adopting it as a security against secularism. It would be adopted by the nation as a whole, as the only possible form of Christianity which it was possible for the nation as a nation to teach in the schools. Therefore, he thought it would be fair that the nation should pay for it. In those cases where there was an agreement on a common syllabus, where the only form of religion taught was undenominational, it was clearly fair that it should be paid for by the State. He did not, however, for a moment admit, as had so often been stated, that undenominationalism was the religion of Nonconformity. All Nonconformists held specific doctrines which could not be taught under the ordinary Cowper-Temple teaching. It might be said with justice that Cowper-Temple religion was more agreeable to Nonconformists than to the majority of Churchmen, but even to that he could only give a very qualified assent. Cowper-Temple religion was the teaching of those root notions which lay at the root of all Nonconformity as well as Church doctrine. If he were asked whether simple Bible teaching led to dissent or not, he should say that it did not. They would probably be told that the local authorities would never consent to the right of entry being given into all the provided schools of the country. He would rather the right of entry were not given, but he did not believe that the local authorities would set themselves against anything which might possibly prove to be a settlement of this question. If this House should agree to a system 1768 under which there should be a general right of entry into provided schools he had little doubt that local authorities would approach it from the same point of view. He believed that, although this arrangement might interfere with administrative efficiency, the local authorities would agree to it because it was the only solution at the present moment that had any chance of being accepted. What could be more proper than that in the towns the Church of England should have the right of entry into all the schools, and in the country Nonconformists should be able to obtain the education that was acceptable to them? If by an alteration of the Cowper-Temple Clause they could provide that the Christian religion from the Bible should be taught in the provided schools, the Church of England would feel that there was much greater security that the doctrines of Christianity to which they attached importance would be taught, and in every part of the country the parents would have the choice between Cowper-Temple teaching and denominational instruction. He knew there were administrative difficulties in the way, but he thought the local authorities would be able to solve them. There were village schools in which there was only one schoolroom, but at the present time there were more classes in that schoolroom than one. Either by a shifting of the hours, by taking a room in some adjoining house, or by some other device the local authorities, when they were told that they had to solve the administrative difficulties would find some way of doing it. There was one question which he thought would be difficult of solution, and that was whether they would allow the teachers to give special denominational instruction in denominational schools. He would allow the teachers, other than the head teachers in village schools to give denominational instruction. Where it was impracticable for other persons to give the religious instruction he would consider its being given by the head teacher. If this solution were adopted the Nonconformists would obtain complete public control, all tests for teachers would be abolished, no public money would be given for denominational purposes, and the Nonconformist grievance would be redressed.
1769 Churchmen would get the right of entry into all the schools of the country, and there would be practical equality as between Nonconformity and the Church of England. He hoped that the issue of this debate might be that some practical arrangement would be entered into whereby this dispute which was doing so much injury to both religion and education might be brought to an end.
§ *MR. JAMES HOPE (Sheffield, Central)
said he did not dispute the seriousness of the proposals of the hon. Member for Faversham in reference to compromise on this question, but they were somewhat lacking in actuality unless they heard the opinion of the Government in regard to them. If they were acepted, they would be worthy of serious consideration, but at present they had nothing but the Bill, and such light as they might derive from the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty. He did not think there ever was a Bill the substance of which afforded a greater contrast to the title. Its two great predecessors in 1870 and 1902, whatever their controversial provisions, were large constructive efforts. In the first case the need was to get children into school; and in the second case to co-ordinate and unify education, and to prevent the waste and overlapping that existed before 1902. There was no secular reason at all for this Bill. Indeed, there was a strong argument against it from the financial point of view. With the financial liabilities which the country had incurred for next year, the prospect of the Bill was alarming. In connection with old-age pensions they had to provide an extra £5,000,000; the Post Office service would require an addition of £250,000; the automatic increase in the Navy would take £750,000; and at the very least £3,000,000 more would be wanted for construction—and then on the top of all this £1,500,000 was to be the cost of this Bill. He presumed the object of the measure was to compose religious difficulties, for he could not suppose that any Government would foment them. But they deiberately gave a preference to undenominationalism, as to which he would only put one point. He instanced a village in 1770 which there could only be one school, and where one half of the children were Christian, and the other half Hebrew and in which they offered to teach both the Old Testament alone. What an absurdity that would be. Yet what was true in that case was equally true of schools where the children were of different denominations of Christians. The teacher would have to do one of two things. He would either have to teach some of the children doctrines which their parents did not want to be taught, or he would have to omit the teaching of doctrines which other parents considered essential parts of religious education. He objected entirely to the contracting-out proposals. He protested against the name contracting-out as a misnomer. There was no contract about it at all; there was a compulsory alternative. A contract was a free bargain. Not only was it no contract, but those who refused to take the maintenance offered in the Bill were to be put upon an inferior status. But what was more serious than the question of expense was that the schools were robbed of their statutory position and rights. At present schools which supplied the wants of the population had a right to maintenance by the local authority, but this Bill sought to strike that away. Even if they did not expect to vote the money, they would attach impossible conditions to the grant. For instance, the Board of Education might say that the teachers must be trained at a particular kind of college or the school would not be recognised, or they might say that no teacher should belong to a religious Order, or they might force religious instruction to be given in impossible hours. In fact instead of being an integral part of the great educational system of the country, the schools would drag on a precarious and starved existence by the grace and favour of the Minister in Whitehall. It must be obvious that if this Bill passed there would be nothing but war. He was not at all sure that passive resistance as it now existed might not be ended by putting in a clause that anyone who objected should be allowed to ear-mark their rates for the council schools alone. That was an administrative matter. But if this Bill passed, all sorts of methods of resistance 1771 in all probability would come into existence. The example had been set, and it was a game which two or more could play at. He was sure, however, that his friends would not be driven to any such method except in the last resort. He shared the sentiments which had been uttered in favour of peace, if possible, but it must be peace with honour. He had never heard of a court-martial which decided that fatigue was an excuse for surrender. They, too, must keep their powder dry, and forget neither their principles nor their friends. There was, no doubt, fatigue, but a good deal of it was the fatigue experienced by unhappy writers of leading articles on the subject who had nothing fresh to say. After all, the work of education was going on in the country very efficiently, and when they heard of a breach Of Christian charity, he believed the disputants were very good friends, as witness the sinister conjunction of certain ecclesiastics in favour of another confiscatory measure which it was charitable to suppose they did not properly understand. They were told that there was no other alternative than that proposed by the Government, but even that had not been put before them except in the most shadowy way. The First Lord of the Admiralty had told them that there was not much difference between the present Bill and that of the Bishop of St. Asaph. He said there would be some difficulty as to facilities, and that that Bill provided that the facilities should be universal. If the Government meant that these facilities should be given in school hours, and that the teachers should give, the instruction, then the question entered upon a new phase. He observed that there was au ominous silence on the benches opposite in regard to that point. Or again, could it be supposed that a secularist solution would solve the question? It would simply lead to just as much agitation as now and to a universal demand for the right of entry in school hours. Rather than have this Bill he would infinitely prefer the plan for the separation of secular and religious instruction as proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 1772 Birmingham. There was a danger when it was suggested to them on that side of the House that they should make a proposal, for the Government would take it as a maximum and proceed at once to whittle it down. If hon. Gentlemen desired a settlement they must do more than say so. It was not for those who were satisfied with the existing system to formulate proposals to change it. If the Government was serious in desiring peace the first thing to do was to withdraw the Training College and Secondary School Regulations. Assuming a conference and a settlement to be in sight, what principles should be acted upon? He would say: "Beware of logic, or any hard-and-fast system, but recognise existing facts." After all they must recognise that schools had associations and traditions. It was not a question of mere bricks and mortar, of codes and syllabus, of class-rooms and cubic feet. That was a very narrow view to take. And so it was also with higher education. He had seen it in his own experience at the Oratory School, where the buildings and surroundings were of little account, and he would not change the lessons he had learned there for all the glorious traditions of Eton or Winchester. There were elementary schools which were animated by the like patriotism; it would be cruelty and folly to extinguish such places, for the spirit they had bred was an asset of the nation. The whole question lay in alternative accommodation. In those towns where alternative schools were doing their work with no harm to others, why, in God's name, could they not let them alone? He thought the grievance in single-school areas was greatly exaggerated, and he did not believe the clergyman who abused his position in one of these village schools was one in 100; but there was a theoretical grievance, Which in rare cases might amount to an actual grievance, and there the just solution was to be found not in destroying the rights of one set of people, but in separate religious instruction and united secular instruction. The strength of the nation lay in the diversity of the elements which could be called into being for the purposes of national life. But, although, diversity was of the essence of a settlement, 1773 they could rear their educational structure on a basis of true equality as well—equality of treatment for the teacher; equality of choice for the parent, equality of opportunity for the child—and, above all, the dominating principle—to "render to Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and to God the things which are God's."
*SIR J. COMPTON RICKETT (Yorkshire, W.R., Osgoldcross)
said that if there was really such a desire for a settlement as the hon. Member for Barkstone Ash had suggested there ought to be no danger in assuming that it could be complied with. Party lines were blurred by differences on religious subjects, but he did not think that those supporting the Government had much to fear from a party point of view, even if this question were left open until the next election. Both sides appeared to use the general terms, public control and no tests for teachers, but public control as it now existed was half-hearted and even Anglicans hardly objected to see it made real. With regard to tests for teachers, at this time of day it must be very difficult to imagine that they could secure the right kind of teacher by means of a test. The value of tests had been proved to be of little account, even in securing the purity of the doctrine of a Church, and at a time when opinion was fluid on religious subjects the attempt to obtain declaration of conscience could not be accomplished by legislation. To import a test was even beyond the power of that House. There could, in no real 1774 sense of the term, be a test for teachers. In these circumstances they could only ask that the man who taught should know something of that which he taught. Some knowledge of the Bible ought to be required. All they asked and expected from Bible instruction, so called, of a simple character, was to lay the foundation for the subsequent teaching of the Churches through the Sunday school and the home.
§ And, it being Eleven of the Clock, the, Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow.