§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (Mr. RUNCIMAN,) Dewsbury
The Prime Minister has already stated that the Bill, the Second Reading of which I am now about to move, is an unprecedented measure. Its genesis is peculiar to itself, and I freely admit that it is open to hon. Gentlemen opposite and to others in the country to say that it is not our first attempt to deal with the education problem. Education Bills in the past have been introduced, and have not gone through. We are not peculiar in being open to the charge that our proposals have not been carried into effect. But my predecessors who have had charge of previous Bills lived in much stormier times than these; and I am glad to think that the difficulties which faced my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland and my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Admiralty have not surrounded me. When I came into office I already found that the atmosphere was considerably altered. Not that both sides did not cling just as tenaciously as before to their principles, but there appeared to me to be a greater readiness on the part of both sides to understand, or to attempt to understand, the principles of their opponents, and greater eagerness to find methods upon which to base compromise without sacrifice of principle. It was only possible by the exercise of 418 mutual forbearance and respect to reach the present stage in this controversy, and now I hope we have arrived at the stage when we can secure a settlement by mutual concessions. I admit that much was to be conceded on both sides, and in order to ascertain with clearness the course which I should pursue I indulged in pourparlers which were quite informal, and I had conferences which lasted over many months. After ell, the culpability of a navigator is not in foundering on rocks which he does not see, but in going to sea without a chart. I endeavoured to find out where most of the rocks lay. In the course of these proceedings I found myself easily in touch with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and also, for a short time, with the Archbishop of Westminster as the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England. I did not need to inquire what was the Nonconformist view, for that came naturally to me, but I have not acted without Nonconformist support, and I am very glad to think that in the very long list of those who are informing Professor Sadler that they favour a settlement of this controversy by agreement nearly all the principal leaders of Nonconformity have sent in their names. Throughout these controversies I have endeavoured to put myself in the position partly of an arbitrator, and partly of an honest broker. The House will find in this Bill the result of our labours. It was quite clear from the first that the Church of England regarded herself—and the Roman Catholic Church as well—as the trustee of a particular ideal of religious education. They felt it was their duty to instil denominational doctrine into their children in the day schools, and they were well entrenched in something like 11,000 schools. They were, on the other hand, unable to get access to their own children in the council schools. On the other side, the Nonconformists held strongly that rates could only be applied to educational, as distinct from sectarian, objects. They thought that the attachment of the child to any particular denomination was outside the proper sphere of State action, and therefore it followed that they objected to rate aid for denominational teaching, and to the system by which, though the whole salary of the teacher was provided out of public funds, special opportunities and posts in denominational schools were 419 reserved for teachers of two or three denominations. They felt that the rate-aided denominational schools ought to be under public control, but they rejoiced at the same time that about 9,000 council schools were absolutely free from all denominational influence. And these, happily, were steadily increasing in number. To many people it seemed that the future was in their hands, and we were urged on many sides to leave things as they are. Well, I do not like trusting to a remote and uncertain future. At the best we have not many years during which we could sit in this House and be responsible for the elementary education of this country. For how long were we to wait? After all, during the time that we were waiting, the attention of the public was diverted from the real educational needs of the country. Administrators' time and attention was wasted. Educational reforms were delayed, and the children in our schools consequently suffered, and there was everywhere an increasing sense of shame among religious men that the cause of religion should be the severest handicap which English education had to face. Forty years, it is said, would themselves solve these problems, but we had in the meantime a miserable prospect before us. There would be perennial campaigning, a never-ending war, and the swashbucklers on both sides would be those who enjoyed themselves most. But, to tell the truth, the British people were thoroughly sick of this unending strife. Fortunately we found that there were some underlying points on which both sides were agreed. I think there was a fairly general agreement that we ought, if we could, to avoid purely secular education. I know there was a very strong feeling in favour of it, but the feeling against it was so overwhelming and prompted by such deep feeling that I think that the secular solution could not be generally acceptable, and certainly could not provide a permanent settlement. And I think there was a more general recognition of the value of simple teaching from the Bible, and there was also a feeling that if our principles could be safeguarded, our differences might be adjusted. During the last few months I, of course, have received much advice. Every post brings at least half a dozen absolutely water-tight solutions of the education problem, and now every post brings me objections to larger or 420 smaller details of the present proposal. Well, I think we must say frankly that the proposals now before the House are not the Government's ideal terms, they are not the Nonconformists' ideal terms, and they are not the Church and Roman Catholic ideal terms, but if they were the ideal terms of any one party, they would not then embody a settlement. These terms have been arrived at slowly by eliminating as many points of difference as possible, rather after the fashion as they say in Scotland of making married life comfortable by "makin' soople i' things immaterial." Well, I think we have safeguarded the main principles of both sides, and the leading men of both sides are prepared to acquiesce in the agreement. The settlement embodies not the claims either side thinks itself entitled to make, but the sacrifices which each side is prepared to assent to in the interests of educational and religious peace. As a Government we could not be parties to any settlement which would have involved the infringement of the three pledges everyone on this side of the House, and everyone below the gangway on the other side of the House, I believe, gave to his constituents. In the first place, it was necessary we should secure full public control over all rate aided schools; secondly, that denominational teaching should be taken off the rates; and thirdly, that the teaching profession in rate-aided schools should be open to men and women of all denominations provided they were capable of occupying the posts. We think that we have succeeded in arriving at terms which embody every one of those three pledges. They have been well canvassed in the Press and in papers circulated during the past week, and I do not think it is necessary to run through them in detail. But I would say this, that the Bill is an honest endeavour to embody accurately and with due regard to administrative necessities and possibilities the agreed terms. We have done what we could to safeguard the principles of all parties concerned, and to carry out the proposals in a bona fide manner. We have succeeded in getting a number of purely national conditions, and I think we make a considerable gain in arriving for the first time at something in the nature of a really national system. Privately owned schools in the future will be the 421 exception and not the rule. All rate-aided schools will be under the control of the local education authority. Denominational teaching is only to be allowed if paid for by the denomination itself. There is to be no test for any teacher in the schools under the national system, and we have preserved throughout the first three-quarters of an hour of the morning meeting that Cowper-Temple teaching which the experience of forty years justifies. There need be no misapprehension on this point; simple Bible instruction remains the normal religious instruction in the rate-aided schools. We have also provided that there shall be universal facilities for children whose parents express a desire for them to have denominational teaching on two mornings a week. In single-school parishes the school must come under the national system, and the education authority must provide accommodation for every child who desires it—that is, no child shall be forced into a denominational school. Lastly, in all provided schools there will be free education a little in advance of the old Free Education Act. I will now proceed to deal with the conditions in the Bill covering the transfer of schools. The Bill provides for a payment in every case, and in the case of a compulsory transfer gives the measure of that payment. All privately owned schools shall be passed or transferred by agreement, and charitable trust schools may be transferred either absolutely or they may be transferred with the user remaining with the trustees, or they may pass with the user to the local education authority. In other areas all schools must be either State-aided schools or schools transferred by agreement, or, if no agreement is arrived at, then there must be adopted one of the three alternatives I have just described, namely, transferred absolutely, or with user to owners, or user to the local education authority. I have been asked why we attach a scale to the Bill. The scale provides a uniform rate, except in a number of combinations which can be found from the scale. It is said we do not differentiate enough, and that some schools cost more, some less. We must take the country as a whole. If the Church gets too little in some places she will get more in others. A case is put to me to-day in the Press of a school which cost £18,000, which under this Bill will be transferred for £2,000. 422 But that is leaving out of account one of the most important considerations. We must remember that a very large part of the purposes of the trust will have to be carried out by the local education authority, and that the purchase money therefore represents the "other purposes" of the trust. We have to provide for the payment of rent in single-school parishes in small boroughs, and in large urban areas on a basis which will give a substantial sum to the trustees of those schools. Where you have a country school, say, for 100 children, transferred only with the user to the local education authority, the trustees will continue to repair and alter that school, and the rent will be £7 10s. per annum. But if the education authority takes over the liability to repair and alter, then the rent will be reduced to £3 15s. If there is an absolute transfer the rent paid will be £15 a year, and the sale value of £300. In a county borough, a school for 300 children, if the user only is transferred to the local education authority, the rent paid will be £30; if the trustees have user and education authority do repairing, the rent would be £15; but if an absolute transfer the rent will be £56 5s., or on a sale the price £1,125. A large London school for, say, 800 children, if the user is transferred to the local education authority and the trustees do repairing, the rent will be £100; if trustees have user and education authority repair, £50; if transfer absolute, rent £180, or sale value £3,600. If the trustees think the sale value too low they could resort to one of the alternatives, and transfer either with the user to the local education authority or transfer with the user to themselves. But all schools are to come into the national system except schools which are to be provided for under Clause 3. I now pass to another and the most contentious part of the Bill, which is that relating to contracting-out. I admit that contracting out is most objectionable from an educational point of view. We intend to make it the exception and not the rule, and I believe that is the intention of the other parties to this agreement. There was no possibility of arriving at an agreement with the trustees of the Roman Catholic schools and some of the extreme Church of England schools except by contracting-out, and I, for one, was 423 not prepared to say to them, "You must either come into the national system or be destroyed." But we think it is a great pity that they will not come in without this provision. Objectionable as it is, I think that many trustees, both Churchmen and Roman Catholics, for the sake of their convictions, are prepared to take upon themselves the necessary financial burden in order to retain what they conceive their greatest privilege. But the following conditions will attach to these State-aided schools:—There must be none in single-school parishes; they must have, at least, thirty children; they must attain equal efficiency with the council schools in staff, premises, and in secular instruction; they may be made homogeneous; they must belong to an association of a denomination for England and Wales, only one association for each denomination; the grant to be calculated on the basis of scale; all grants to be paid to the association, which will allocate the grants according to the needs of the school and must spend all grants on maintenance; and they must remain technically public elementary schools. The children in these contracting-out schools shall retain the advantage of such civic services as medical inspection, and may be admitted to cookery centres, handicrafts, and be fed under the Feeding of Children Act. The contracting-out schools will have an opportunity of adding to their income—by pooling the grants or by charging fees—a right which they will retain, but which will, I believe, not be exercised in many cases. But where advantage is taken of the right to charge fees, an income of 30s per annum per child can be raised, which together with the grant of £2 10s. will give an income of £4 per child per year. I come now to the Roman Catholic case. The statement has been made that under this Bill the Catholic schools in London will cost the denomination £35,000 extra in London. I venture to challenge that figure, because it altogether leaves out of the case the pooling arrangements which are made in the Bill. The claim is also made that there are in the Catholic schools something like 300,000 children; there are 284,000 in average attendance, and the whole of these children are not all Roman Catholics It is only fair to assume, therefore, that if this Bill becomes law a certain number of children now in the Roman Catholic schools will pass out 424 into the local authorities schools. Many of those who are Protestant children would be relieved of attendance at Catholic schools, and will be provided with places elsewhere. In that case we thought it only right, in revising the scale of grants per head which now appears in the schedule, that we should not make it harder owing to the reduction of the number of children in those schools. That is the reason why we have provided a scale giving a higher grant to a small school where the education is dearer, and a smaller grant to a larger school, where the education is cheaper. If we compare the position in England with the position in Scotland, so far as Roman Catholics are concerned, I would observe that the claim put forward by the hon. Member for South Kerry in this House during the last few days, with regard to Catholic schools in Scotland, was that there should be an additional grant of 10s. per child over and above the 38s. 6d. to 40s. which now goes to the contracted-out schools in Scotland. That would bring the figure up to about the same as we propose in this Bill. I observed that the hon. Member who proposed an Amendment to the Scottish Bill a few days ago stated that he would be satisfied with an extra 10s., in other words he would be satisfied with 50s. in Scotland, where education is more expensive than in England. Therefore, I hope they will see their way to be satisfied with 50s. more or less, as we provide in the Bill. The Church of England case is even stronger. If we take it for granted that donors in respect of Church of England education in the future will be no less generous than they had been in the past, the Church of England schools would be provided for by voluntary donations on the same scale varying from 18s. to 20s. according to the extent to which contracting out is taken advantage of. Therefore, I see no reason to suppose that the generous financial arrangements provided for in this Bill will have the effect of closing or hampering the Church of England schools. We wish to restrict contracting out to the smallest limit by reducing the desire to remain outside the national system. That can be done by still allowing the denomination to leave a portion of the burden which I understand it is willing to bear if it wishes to retain its own peculiar privileges, and also by 425 making the rent a substantial one. When I turn to the financial proposals of the Bill, in so far as they concern the local education authority, they are very much the same as they were under the proposals of my right hon. friend now the First Lord of the Admiralty. The present system of grants is unduly complicated. The schools are drawing income from no less than seven separate sources. My right hon. friend suggested that there should be only three elements—the standard grant, the grant in aid of buildings, and the grant to certain areas. To provide for these grants working within certain limits, he suggested that in some cases such as the deaf and epileptic schools there should be a limit on the amount provided by the State. These proposals I take almost as they stand. But we cannot say that the result of these proposals as he prophesied they would work out, will be exactly the same under this Bill, for the simple reason that we do not know how far contracting out will be taken advantage of, and until we know how far it will be taken advantage of we can make no definite prophecy as to the charge which will fall on the Exchequer a few years hence. There is only one other subject which I wish to mention at this stage, and that is the clause which deals with the religious instruction committee. The religious instruction committee provided for in this Bill is exactly similar to the old religious instruction committee of the London School Board and of nearly every big school board throughout the country, and certainly it is the best testimonial to the national commonsense that these old committees worked perfectly well, although there were sitting upon them very often at one and the same time strong Nonconformists, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Socialists. I believe that the religious syllabus found in nearly every county borough in England, was drawn up by bodies exactly of that nature. I hope they will do their work equally well in the future as in the past. I have described one part of the process passed through in framing this Bill. The concessions made on one side amount to this: single-school parish schools become local education authority schools. Rent, but only a small rent, is paid to the trustees in return for the transfer. Teacherships are thrown open, and teachers are under the local education authority alone. The non-elective 426 manager disappears. So far as the rate-aided schools are concerned they have given up rate-aid for denominational leaching. But this is a give-and-take Bill, and like every other compromise we have had to give something in return for what is taken. On our part we have been asked to agree to facilities being allowed everywhere. In the past we have fought the right of entry vigorously; but under the old conditions we were fighting what was then a mere act of grace. When my right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, prior to the last General Election, made a speech with his usual vigour, against the right of entry, he made it against what was an act of grace for which absolutely nothing was given on the other side. The whole position has changed now. We are actually getting something on the other side. The thing was regarded with suspicion and disliked as upsetting the compromise of 1870. It was denounced because it was one-sided, and because it was in contravention of that compromise. We have now initiated a new compromise. For the first time right of entry is presented as part of a balanced agreement. The Church asks for facilities and gives up her peculiar monopoly of country schools. She says that she surrenders her special opportunity for instilling her own doctrines not only in children of Church parents but also in children of other denominations attending those schools. This, in our opinion, she rightly surrenders, and in return she gains for the first time the opportunity of securing to Church children whose parents desire it, in all schools, dogmatic teaching of her own faith by persons in whom she has confidence. That is a substantial gain, and I do not wonder that churchmen all over the country welcome this Bill as a great advance on anything they have obtained previously. It was only possible for us to give way on this because it did not involve any breach of principle, and because we have attached to it conditions which safeguard it from grave risks. We opposed it in the past because it was associated with very many risks of administrative confusion, which no one will better appreciate than the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. We also objected to it because it would preserve under the old system some form of tests for teachers. We now hope to avoid both those risks. Regulations will be made by the Board under Clause 2 427 They will be in the simplest form, designed to enable parents who desire special religious instruction for their children, to obtain it with the minimum of formality and delay. If the parent desires the child to receive special religious instruction not already provided by the authorities, the form of application will probably consist of a simple statement to be signed by him to the effect that he wishes that special religious instruction shall be given to his child in the doctrines of a certain church. The next question is during what hours are these facilities to be given. The main objection that has been taken is that the religious instruction comes within the school hours. I do not know whether that can be got rid of or not; I only know that the simplest way to proceed is to state definitely the time at which the religious teaching tikes place. There cannot be facilities for all hours of the day; that would make mince-meat of the time-table. But no one objects to facilities being given between 9 and 9.45 every forenoon, or two forenoons a week. With reference to the problem whether it comes within the school hours, that will remain with the local authorities to say under what is now known by the phrase the "Anson bye-law." Then comes the question, To what children may denominational teaching be given under these facilities? Only to the children of those parents who express a desire for it. It would be preposterous for a parent to demand facilities for children with whom he had no concern. By whom is this religious instruction to be given? By volunteers, by outsiders if possible, and if by teachers, then by such teachers as are now in voluntary schools which will be transferred with them, or by existing assistant teachers in council schools. We have made one exception in the case of the head master, the head teacher, or the head mistress for this reason—that the duty of the head in all schools is impartially to arrange the religious as well as the other instruction. The denomination of the head is very apt to stamp the school with the character of that denomination as well as the teaching practised within that building. We therefore regarded that as a dangerous step. We have stood out against the heads of council schools being allowed to volunteer. The solitary exception to this relates to the head of a 428 voluntary school who is transferred to another voluntary school, for a period of five years after the passing of the Bill. Subject to the permission of the local authority, he may volunteer to give religious instruction. There must be no test of the teacher on or after his appointment, nor inquiry about his volunteering. Payment for his services must be made not by the local education authority but direct to him. To avoid outside influence, we provide that the teacher's selection, appointment or promotion shall be effected not by local managers or outside persons, but by the local authorities. Public opinion may be unjust at particular times and on particular subjects, but on the whole, like the ventilation of a house, it keeps the air pure. I have no doubt that there will be many cases of oppression which might be sought out and publicly proclaimed by the National Union of Teachers. Of course, all facilities must be subject to administrative practicability. We cannot allow pandemonium in the schools, and discipline must be maintained. That it is possible within these limits to give bona fide facilities of wide and very great value to churchmen and others who care to take advantage of them, is the deliberate opinion of the Government. The obligation of the authorities to allow religious instruction to be given must of course be limited by the possibility of room being found for the purpose, and of the possibility of the teacher's being spared from his other duties. That can be arranged if the local authorities are reasonable beings, and we are to take for granted they are reasonable beings, or local government would break down. We have every hope that the local authorities will cooperate with the rest of us in avoiding denominational and religious friction. These proposals are of course opposed by the extremists. I do not for a single moment wish to say anything uncomplmentary about the extremists. Those on both sides who are quarrelling most fiercely about this settlement are the men who have taken a deep and keen interest in all educational administration during the last thirty years. But I must confess to drawing some crumb of comfort from the reading of my newspaper when I find in one and the same column that this settlement is denounced by Mr. Hirst Hollowell and Lord Halifax, 429 and when I find that the Bishop of Manchester says that this is the Peace of Death, I would remind him of the motto above one of the doors of this building, denique cœlum, which some folks say means "Heaven at last." If our proposals do not find favour with the extremists, I hope they appeal to the common man in the street. It is the ordinary John Bull to whom we appeal. It is being said we are in a position of great power and we ought to have made no concession. Why not? Concession after all comes with a better grace and with a more salutary effect from superior power, and it establishes confidence on a solid foundation. Concessions which are made by both sides are those which compos this compromise; and indeed like all healthy compromises it can be very easily attacked. A man could pick twenty holes in the Bill in half an hour and the only thing that will make it work will be the good feeling of those who administer it. When I am told the scheme is not logical, I can reply that the House of Commons has always claimed the privilege of acting merely on the facts before it on the evident principles of compromise. And, as a matter of fact, much in this world must be taken for granted. We cannot always be arguing about first principles. If the scheme is not logical, my only reply is that men who would carry everything to its logical conclusion are very dangerous guides. The world is, after all saved by bad logic and good feeling. This is a balanced settlement, and I hope there will be no attempt made to disturb its equilibrium. The settlement, after all brings very great advantages to education. During the short time I have been at the Board of Education I have discovered that certainly half the time of the most capable officials—in all but the technical branch which, fortunately, is free from any religious strife—is devoted to difficulties great and small which are constantly raised by religious controversy, and the Minister himself cannot give proper time and the best of his attention to the improvement of the educational system. He has to spend hours every day over the solution of religious squabbles and over problems which are not educational but merely sectarian, while local education authori- 430 ties are in no better case. The attention of their members and of those who send them there is centred almost entirely on religious quarrels. That is the experience of those administrators with whom I have come in contact, and I am perfectly sure that those who compose the members of the local education authorities now will regard this settlement with gratitude, even if it throws considerable inconvenience upon them. I hope that, if this settlement goes through, one great advantage will accrue, and that is that the authorities will be able to arrange classes and schools of different types and curricula untrammelled by denominational considerations, which have often in the past interfered with the spontaneous action of the local authority. It is a remarkable fact that the three countries in the world which have the best educational systems—which we might well envy—Germany, America, and Scotland, have not one of them this religious strife. In America, which I am sorry to say in many respects is still far ahead of us in education, they have adopted a solution which would have satisfied everybody in this House, without any compromise whatever. I know we are bound to meet many different views. I can only present this compromise to the House in the hope that it will be considered in as generous a spirit as that in which it has been framed. I do so with no note of triumph. No one has been victorious. Nonconformists cannot and do not wish to trample on the Church. The Church, on the other hand, cannot crush the spirit of Nonconformity. We cherish hostility to no Church. The settlement is prompted far more by tolerance than by despair. It is marked by neither bigotry nor party spirit. It is an agreement in the truth sense of the word, and by no means a victory. If it is affirmed by Parliament, I am sure of this, Parliament will have earned the gratitude of the villager, of the villager's child, of the child in the town, and of the administrators and of the teachers. On our side we may rest content that we have fulfilled our pledges to our constituents, while the Church, submitting to no confiscation of property, retains influence over her children in her own schools, and secures access to her children in council 431 schools. Each side has made generous advances, each has given up some powers of exclusion, and each will be richer and stronger for the sacrifice.
§ Mo ion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Runciman.)
§ MR. HUTTON (Yorkshire, W.R., Morley)
offered his congratulations on the personal success of the Minister for Education. They were very close political neighbours and had many constituents in common, and he shared their very deep and sincere admiration for his right hon. friend's ability and tact. He congratulated him that he had succeeded in gathering together so large a share of public opinion, and that he had been able to bring under his big umbrella so many men representing so many different types of thought. But he was inclined to think that this great manifestation towards peace which they were witnessing on all hands at the present time was rather an indication of the weariness of the flesh than of a sudden access of Christian charity. He should be very glad to take a part in securing peace, but he did not agree with much of the concluding portion of his right hon. friend's speech. He did not think education was absolutely at a standstill because different sects were warring. On the contrary, they had seen evidences that education had made many strides, because public opinion had been awakened and new interest had been aroused on account of recent controversy. His mind went back to the evening eighteen months ago when the Chief Secretary for Ireland introduced his Bill, and he was led to ask himself what kind of a reception he would have got had he made the same proposals then that were made now. Of course, he was told politically they had travelled a long way since that time. That might be perfectly true, but he had not travelled an inch of the way towards the conclusions which had been reached by his right hon. friend. They had been told as a result of the failure of the first Bill of the Government that a way would be found for the Commons' will to prevail, and he was led to ask whether this was the way which had been found. He supposed most of the suggestions which were 432 made in another place in regard to that Bill had been adapted for this measure, and if this measure represented anybody's way it was not the way of the Commons, but a way expressed by the Lords some two years ago. He would suggest that this way of meeting the situation was an invitation to the Lords to go on treating the proposals of a Liberal Government with the same scant courtesy with which they treated the proposals of his right hon. friend a couple of years ago. He opposed the Education Bill in 1896, and other Bills in 1897, and he opposed the Act of 1902. He might have been right or wrong—only the future could tell—but he was quite sure that if he was right in opposing those Bills he was equally right in opposing this. The right hon. Gentleman told them that this was not the Bill of the Government, and that they themselves would not have made these proposals. But they must take the responsibility for them. If this great peace was to be secured and the Bill was a great success, they would, during the Christmas recess, have his hon. friends claiming every credit to the Government, because of the success they had achieved in bringing this matter to a compromise. He saw no objection to that, but if they were going to claim the credit they must take the responsibility. That was admitted. It was not that he wanted to seem in opposition to the Government, but he must be able to address his arguments as to a Bill for which they had made themselves responsible. His right hon. friend had spoken as one desiring to secure the interests of education, and to get rid of all extraneous difficulties. So far as he could see, the proposals of this Bill committed every sin that was possible in regard to the canons of good education, of good administration, of good local government, of unity in the school, and, as they used to hear, of co-ordination in regard to education. If he came to the conclusion that education itself was not going to be advanced, he did not see why they should be called upon to make great sacrifices of principle. The Bill must be taken as a whole. It was a compromise, and it would not be open to his hon. friends to secure any concessions of a serious nature. The answer 433 they would always get would be that they had only made this concession because they had something in return from the other side, and they were bound honourably to carry out the bargain. His hon. friends could not vote for the Second Reading with mental reservations that they were not supporting certain provisions in it. Although they might make this compromise to-day there was no guarantee for the future. But how long would it be a settlement? There was a compromise in 1870, and he did not know how many Acts were passed between that year and the next Education Bill. An agitation was started in the interests of voluntary schools, and time after time they got safeguards removed. His opinion was that a compromise might be good to-day and for a year or two, but they would very soon find elements at work—in fact, they were already at work—to secure that the compromise should be extended, and should not be maintained intact. He would offer to this measure two tests. First of all, there was the old religious equality test. Would the effect of this Bill be to bring religious education, undenominational or denominational, in our schools more directly under the authority of the State or less? The second test he would apply was in regard to the measure of public control secured by the Bill. In regard to the first test this measure proposed, for the first time in their history, that religious instruction should be given by law in all the schools of the land. Religious education in the schools had been permissive since 1870 and now for the first time they had abandoned that position and were making religious instruction compulsory in the schools. That was a very serious departure.
§ MR. HUTTON
said of course there would be a conscience clause. The right hon. Gentleman was going to vote next session in favour of the disestablishment of the Church in Wales, but he was not obliged to attend that Church, and he was opposed to the establishment on grounds of religious equality. Now the Government were asking their 434 supporters to vote for the same measure of establishment in regard to religious instruction in the schools of this country. The Government were indirectly if not directly responsible for the provision of denominational instruction as well as undenominational instruction. That was a serious departure from the principle of non-interference and neutrality they had so long respected. They were told that this provision would not be used, but he did not think that was a very honest argument. The right hon. Gentleman was making that concession to hon. Gentlemen opposite representing the Church of England, and it would certainly be made use of. There was no need for anybody to be deceived by the idea that this right of entry would not be made vigorous use of in all parts of the country. The Bishop of London, had done his best to remove any doubt upon that point. In yesterday's Times there was a letter from the Bishop of London to the rural dean, and there was also a report of a speech made by the Bishop. In his letter to the rural dean the Bishop said—It must be remembered that the number of Church children in council schools is probably greater by at least three to one than the children in the Church schools, who, after all our efforts, only number 102,000, and it is of great importance to be able to teach the whole Christian faith to so many more children.That meant that it was of great importance to him to have the right of entry into the council schools, where there were three times as many children as in the voluntary schools—They would have (he said) to study its pros and cons very carefully, but one thing about it was like water to a thirsty man to his clergy in the suburbs. In some of those suburbs they had not got a single Church school, and the faithful clergy were like hounds in leash, straining to seize the chance that had come to them at last of reaching the Church children in the schools, and teaching them the Christian faith.They had arrived at this position—that they were making proposals which were "like water to a thirsty man to his clergy," and were enabling these gentlemen, who were like hounds in leash straining to use this right of entry to teach their own children in council schools. Therefore, anyone who thought this right of entry was not going to be used extensively would be deluded, and he beseeched them to come to a different 435 opinion. The Government had taken a very serious step in throwing open 9,000 board schools in the country to denominational teaching of all kinds. He regarded that as a disaster. Those 9,000 schools were the citadels of the State in regard to education, and they were now proposing to create a breach which would never be repaired, and they would not have the old state of things restored. For thirty years the Liberal Party had been striving to build up this national system and extend those schools, and they had been led to believe that here, at any rate, there was at least one set of schools where denominationalism had no place. The Government very rashly and disastrously were allowing in school hours the teaching of denominational creeds and catechism not altogether at the expense of the denominations. He had heard a great deal about mandates, but he might be allowed to state that he had never mentioned them throughout his political life. Much had been said about the right hon. Gentlemen in 1902, and there had also been a great deal said about the mandate of the Liberal Party with regard to tests and public control and the like. But after all, what had this talk come to? Simply a right of entry into council schools. He asked those Gentlemen who talked so much about mandates where was their mandate for passing this proposal? Let them go back to the year 1906 and see how many of his hon. friends, who were so glib about the pledges given at that time, would have been able to get comfortably through their public meetings without being severely heckled if they had declared that they had a mandate for opening 9,000 schools in the country to all the different denominations in the land.
MR. HERBERT (Buckinghamshire, Wycombe)
At every one of my meetings I put that before my constituents.
§ MR. HUTTON
said that no doubt his hon. friend filly explained that the facilities would be inside school house. Up to the present in the council schools there had been no ancient privileges, no vested interest, and no sanctified traditions. All those things were at ached to the 436 old denominational schools, but the council schools were kept clear of them. Now they were going to let in those very interests and privileges which they had gloried in keeping out so long, and when once they had a footing it would take a very long time indeed to clear the schools of that kind of denominational atmosphere. And this was being done not after a defeat at the poll but after a great party victory, and there was absolutely no demand for making such a tremendous concession as was proposed. Some of his hon. friends said that this provision would not be very diligently carried out. That was most important for two reasons. In the first place, the clergy to-day were a very active and keen race of men. They were much more active than they were thirty, forty, or fifty years ago and they were not likely to miss any opportunity that came their way. Beyond that the Government had taken this additional safeguard that the right of entry should be made use of. They had provided that the assistant teachers might volunteer and when the Government expressly said in an Act of Parliament that teachers "may" do something they would be expected 1o volunteer. The Bill provided that only the assistant teacher might volunteer, but why should the head teacher not be allowed also to volunteer? Why was he debarred from that privilege? Hon. Members opposite would be able to say that the Government having conceded this right to the assistant teachers they could not resist conceding it to the head teachers. There was no principle upon which they could differentiate in this matter, and he was sure they would have hon. Gentlemen opposite demanding that no difference should be made between one and the other. us right hon. friend said there were to be no denominational tests. He would put this case. There was a school where there were two or three teachers of which the head teacher would be debarred from giving denominational instruction, and there was a vacancy for an assistant teacher. Everybody knew that whoever was appointed, master or mistress, to that post he or she would be invited to volunteer to give religious instruction. Did not the right hon. Gentleman think that great pressure would be brought to 437 bear upon them? Did his right hon. friend think that it was quite fair of a great Government to throw the obligation on those, many of them, young teachers to refuse the invitation which would be given to them by many of their own friends. Many of those teachers had been through the denominational training colleges, and there was not a single teacher who had been through those institutions who would not have been taught and trained to volunteer. Seventy-five per cent. of the teachers were ladies, and he should be very much surprised if a considerable section of them did not yield to the persuasive arguments which the clerical party would be able to bring upon them. He thought that after all that had been said on the matter it was a little too late to bring this pressure to bear on young teachers appointed, not only in Church of England schools, but in council schools as well. What kind of instruction was to be given? Who was going to say whether it was satisfactory or not? Was there going to be the right of inspection? Would they have the diocesan inspector going about the council schools to see whether the volunteer was teaching the catechism or the creed satisfactorily? He did not see how they could manage without it. After the teacher, came the inspector, and they were in for all the paraphernalia of denominational teaching in all the schools of the land, and all that was to be provided by Act of Parliament. The machinery of the State was to be used for all those opportunities which were to be provided. So much for the proposal in regard to the provision of religious instruction. It was a serious violation of his idea of the neutrality of the State in the matter of religious instruction. As to the matter of public control his right hon. friend told the House that he was going to eliminate all the things that were immaterial. One of the things he was going to eliminate was the school which was going to contract out. All these schools were supposed to be immaterial. Did not that reduce the question of public control to a farce. Under the Act of 1902 the Leader of the Opposition professed to give public control. It was only a skeleton and a pretence, but still there was something in it. It could have 438 been vivified at any rate. But they were going to abandon the skeleton of control which they got under the Act of 1902. They were going back to the pre-1902 position in these denominational schools. Indeed, the position would be worse than before 1902. It was to be subject to a very large number of considerations. For instance there was a conscience clause which operated for the voluntary schools, but there was no conscience clause for the new contracted-out schools. They were to give the right of entry to county council schools, but there was to be no right of entry for anybody into the contracted-out schools. There would be no Kenyon Slaney clause for the new contracted-out schools. They would appoint their own teachers and managers, and they would administer their own funds; they would have absolutely no check left upon them. He thought that was a very serious state of affairs. He believed that a large number of schools would contract-out. Not only were they to be far more free than under the 1902 Act, but they were to have, roughly speaking, 50 per cent. more money per child. When the denominational schools came into the State system they received 35s. 6d., and to-day they were to receive 50s. While increasing the grant to that extent, they were abandoning all the rights they had to-day, and they were not resuming the rights which they had before 1902. That was a serious state of things educationally. His right hon. friend had said that any child could claim that a school should be provided. The obligation should not be put on the chill to claim a provided school. They all knew that parents sent young children to the nearest school. Would a mother send her young children to a distant school when there was one close at hand? That being so, they would not get parents to set up an agitation for new schools. The schools to which they would send their children would be in many cases contracted-out schools without even the safeguards whish existed before 1902. Educationally that was an exceedingly dangerous position. But they were not going to remain there. They were threatened already with an agitation for more money and more concessions. The 50s. was 439 not going to be sufficient. It would not be long before they had another "intolerable strain." The Leader of the Opposition was eagerly watching the swing of the pendulum and he was quite ready to resume office at the first opportunity. The right hon. Gentleman would not be unwilling to give one or two sessions to discussing the relative me its of Nonconformists and Churchmen. The right hon. Gentleman would rather do that than discuss the merits of Colonial preference and free trade. Then they would have all this old battle cheerfully brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman opposite on the first possible opportunity. Contracting-out was not only educationally unsound, but by providing for that they were seeking the same old trouble which they had gone through and inviting the old contests in an almost more furious form in the future than in the past. But he might be told that he had not taken into consideration the great advantages this Bill would bring. It was said they were going to have public control not only in the towns but in the village districts. In the first place, as there might not be much chance of amending the Bill in Committee, he wished to say that the definition of the single school district seemed to him to be a most unsatisfactory one. They were told that in all these schools they were to get public control. Was that an accurate statement? He thought things were going on for a considerable time pretty much as they stood at present. The existing headmaster was to continue in the same position as that in which he stood; he was to have the same rights, privileges, and duties, and he would go on teaching as he was doing for the rest of his tenure of office. What was his right hon. friend's estimate of the length of the average tenure of the present headmasters? He would say that it would extend to ten or fifteen years, that was to say, that in all those schools which they were going to capture the present state of things was to continue for ten or fifteen years in the villages. If that was the case, he did not see that they had got any advantages compared with the concessions which they had made. In the Church of England single school area schools there were 450,000 children, and in the council 440 schools there were about 3,000,000 children. They were going to give to denominations the right to give religious instruction in the schools which had 3,000,000 children, and all that they were going to get by-and-bye was the right to appoint the headmasters in the schools which had 450,000 children. It seemed to him that was hardly worth speaking of as a bargain. They were simply perpetuating the state of things which existed at the present time. His objection to the Bill was not that he and his friends did not get all they wanted, but because it seemed to him that they positively lost ground. So far from making progress he thought they were going back. Even in the face of the great display of support which his right hon. friend had for this Bill he asked the House to hesitate to pass the Second Reading. He viewed the proposals of the Bill with alarm, but he viewed the tendency of the measure with infinitely more alarm. It delivered the council schools up to denominational faction; it exposed teachers to all kinds of pressure; it provided a new opening for denominational schools to exist outside of the State system, and it again restored the old dual system. He deplored these proposals. He believed they would have a disastrous effect, and therefore he asked the House to reject the Bill. He begged to move.
MR. CLEMENT EDWARDS (Denbigh District)
in seconding the Amendment, expressed regret that he found himself in opposition to the Government on this question. The Bill had been commended to the House in such a way as to suggest that this was the only possible way out of the educational difficulty for the Government. He for one had not taken the view from the beginning that the Government had dealt with the education question in anything like the way, in view of its importance and gravity, which they had a right to expect after what was said at the last election. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on his dialectical skill and on the manner in which he had dealt with the mandate of last election. As he understood the demand for a mandate at the last election—a demand which was approved of and supported by the leading Members of the Government—it was this: 441 That no Education Bill would be satisfactory which would not do away with test for teachers, which did not give complete public control over all schools receiving public money, and which did not prohibit not denominational teaching at the expense of the rates but denominational teaching at the expense of public money. That, as he understood it, was the mandate of the country, and there Were many passages in the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman and other Members of the Government which most conclusively showed that that was the case. But what had been the whole attitude of the Government on this question of education? Had there been, from the beginning, the slightest indication on their part that this difficulty Was to be solved by them? They had played with the Education Department. One would have thought that in dealing with a great complex problem like education there would have been appointed at the head of that Department some one of great previous experience, and that the Government would have availed themselves of the services of Mr. Acland, who had had experience as a Minister of Education, or Lord Stanley of Alderley; or failing these two that they would have utilised the services of a person of great experience in education like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. But two gentlemen had been appointed to that Department who had had no previous experience. One made an effort to grapple with the problem by an Education Bill which failed to pass, and he was then sent to Ireland. And the right hon. Member for Islington, having had a special experience in the Education Department, was removed. Then they had substituted as Chief Minister for Education the right hon. Gentleman who was now First Lord of the Admiralty, who had absolutely no previous experience in education, and whose qualification apparently was only a readiness in debate and the fact that on a certain occasion he was able to vanquish a stupid mind on so remote a question as the difference between leaf and stripped tobacco. Then that right hon. Gentleman was given as assistant; whom? The hon. Member who had now gone to the Foreign Office, but who had had experience in education. That hon. Gentle man was the Progressive leader 442 in London at the moment when the whole Progressive cause in education was betrayed to the other side. He was followed by a gentleman who had had a few years experience on the Newcastle School Board, and he was accompanied by a gentleman who had shown great enthusiasm for education by advocating in certain literature the raising of the school age, but who had promptly repudiated it when he became a candidate for the Elland Division of Yorkshire. That was the way in which the Government had dealt with the education question; and now, when they found that, as they put it, the country was sick and tired of the controversy, they came forward with a proposal which meant the abandonment of every principle and the complete betrayal of everything which the Liberals had stood for on this question—the most cynical and flagrant betrayal of political principle which the House had witnessed in the annals of modern politics, and that was saying a good deal. But what relevancy had the fact that people were tired and weary of the question to this hurry-scurry attempt to scuttle in the direction of a scuttling settlement? The people of the country were sick and weary of Home Rule being discussed, but by the same token were the Liberal Party going to abandon Ireland? The people of the country were sick and weary of the controversy between tariff reform and free trade, but were the Government going to abandon free trade because of that? There were many other illustrations which might be used. He suggested that the people of the country were not so tired and weary, and not so sick of this controversy as they were that they had a Government of "Weary Willies and Tired Tims," who were anxious to get out of a difficulty by making the proposals they had done in this Bill. And what were these proposals? It had been somewhat maladroitly suggested—and he said this advisedly—by the right hon. Gentleman that this must be a good settlement, because the extremists on both sides were against it. Personally he had been represented as standing for the extreme Nonconformist view. He stood for no such view. He left that view to be represented by those lay leaders of Nonconformity in this House 443 who were plain "Misters" a few months ago but now revelled in the title of 'Sir." He stood for the plain man in the street, for keeping the peoples' schools clear from all the influences of the parsons and priests of any denomination—either Anglican, Roman Catholic, or Nonconformist. He had not been against compromise. He believed he was the only Welsh candidate at the last general election who advocated compromise and that generous treatment should be extended to the denominational schools. But it was never contemplated then, nor was it row, that in any scheme of compromise there should come into the area of these negotiations anything with regard to council schools. It was suggested that this was a compromise that was fair to all parties; but what did they get with regard to the denominational schools? They got not public control in every single school area, but merely public control in every rural school area. But there were a large number of urban single school areas. Take the case of Radnorshire, where he himself went to school. There was only a single school there and that was an urban school. It might not be transferred and it might be one of the contracting-out schools. Take the place where they had had many of their Welsh Conventions with regard to this education question—Llandrindod Wells. There was only one school there and it was an urban district, and the school might not be transferred and might be contracted-out. Where, then, did they get public control in all single school areas? His second point was this: it was said that denominational teaching was taken off the rates, and his third was, that it was alleged that there were no tests for teachers. Now, first of all, denominational teaching was not by this Bill to be taken off the rates. What was taken off the rates was the cost of the salary of the teacher who might give the denominational teaching. As a matter of fact—some hon. Members might never have heard of it—the Birmingham School Board had for years given a right of entry to the denominations outside school hours, and the Board had a scale by which they charged 5s. per room per 444 day in every school to the denomination using it for denominational teaching. But in this Bill it was clearly stated that the denominationalists were to have the use of the school buildings and denominational teaching in school hours free of rent, heated, cleansed and lighted, all at the expense of the rates. Then, it was said that they were abolishing tests for teachers. A more absurd, a more futile suggestion in the face of the actual provisions of the Bill could not have proceeded from those benches. They had one of the strongest and most conspicuous cases in this country on the matter of tests for teachers and that was the case of the greatest of all the school boards—the School Board of London—a publicly-elected body limited for religious teaching to Cowper-Templeism. One of the greatest educational election contests ever seen in this country took place in 1894 for the London School Board, and with what object? For the purpose of getting rid of religious tests for teachers. And what did the test for teachers consist of? It merely consisted of a circular which was issued to the teachers in this form—If there are those among you who cannot conscientiously impart Bible instruction in this spirit, means will be taken, without prejudice to their position under the Board, to release them from the duty of giving the Bible lesson. The religious opinion of candidates will not, in any sense, influence their appointment or promotion, nor are they to be subjected to any questions with reference to their religious belief.On paper, could there be more conclusive proof than that against the idea that there was any religious test involved? But in practice what happened? Out of hundreds of teachers with full qualifications, who declined 'o give religious teaching there was only one single case of a teacher being promoted to a headmastership, and not a single case of promotion to a head-mistress-ship; but in the case of those teachers who volunteered to give the religious teaching in accordance with the terms of the circular, promotion followed, although their qualifications were less than those who refused to give the religious teaching. That was the beginning of the whole of this trouble. When they defeated the particular section known as the Rileyite section on the London School Board, what did they say? 445 They said they would transfer their activities to a wider sphere, and from that day to this they had been working through the Education Department and Parliament, to get carried into effect throughout the country those particular things for which they had worked on the London School Board. He said, without hesitation, that if they were going to put this position to the Council teachers, that some might volunteer and that some might not, and that they were to put up for election in the event of a vacancy, they had an actual test. Everyone knew perfectly well what would happen. Take a case which might happen even in so great a place as London. What would be likely to happen here? Under the present scheme of the London County Council they had for every group of schools in London what was called a board of managers. These boards of managers made a selection of three teachers for every vacancy, and these three names were sent up to the London Education Authority, who selected one to come before them. What was the fact? As a result of the last county council election, wherever Progressive, or Radical, or Nonconformist members of these boards of managers could be removed by the London Education Authority they were in fact removed, and at this moment they had not a single board of managers under the London education authority which did not consist of a majority of members of the Church of England or Roman Catholics. He had heard that the leopard had changed its spots, and that clericalism was not going to work in the future as it had done in the past, but there were some of the boards of managers at this moment consisting of an actual majority of ordained priests. This being so, say a person applied and got the position of assistant teacher in one of the London boroughs. There were say, two teachers; one declined to volunteer to give religious instruction, and the other offered to give it according to the Catechism of the Church of England. It was not in human nature that it would not follow automatically as a matter of course, that the members of the Church of England upon the 446 nominating and appointing committee would work for all they were worth to secure the appointment of that person who belonged to their denomination, and who had volunteered. Lest he should be understood as speaking with some bias as against either Roman Catholics or members of the Church of England, he would go frankly to the position as it now obtained in Wales. There they had their educational authorities overwhelmingly Nonconformist, in some cases overwhelmingly consisting of a particular denomination of Nonconformity. Did anybody suggest that in the ordinary course of things precisely the same thing was not going to happen there? He simply said that for Parliament, by imposing upon these bodies possibilities of this kind of temptation, to let teachers run the risk was not what Parliament ought to do. Then it was suggested, and it was a most cowardly suggestion, but the Press of the country had been primed with it, that if in fact this victimising of the teacher did take place, and if in fact there was this favouritism, there was no suggestion that the Board of Education should come down and exercise disciplinary powers and stop it, but that the teacher must join his or her trade union of the National Union of Teachers in order to get redress. That had never been suggested in the case of Post Office or dockyard officials, and why it was suggested in the case of what was now going to be a body of Civil servants, he did not know. Besides, the National Union of Teachers had its membership among teachers who were fully certificated, and there were 100,000 teachers in the country who were not certificated, and, of course, for the most part those embraced the very assistant teachers, the very young teachers, upon whom this test might be put, and who might be open to the temptation that he had suggested. If this unfortunate Bill should ever get beyond this House he hoped that steps would be taken to see that that possibility at all events was avoided. Those were the things which they were supposed to have obtained, but what had they given in return? They had abandoned the whole position of the Liberal Party argumentatively 447 against the establishment of a State Church. They had at one swoop by this proposal wiped out the whole of the traditions of the Liberationists from 1840 down to now. He endorsed everything that had been said by the hon. Member who moved this Amendment. Only yesterday he went to a meeting of the Welsh Parliamentary Party and implored them, in the face of what was likely to happen next year by the introduction of a Disestablishment Bill, that they would give pause before they lent support to this Bill which cut from under their feet absolutely every argument in principle with which they would have to come to the House and ask for disestablishment next year. For the first time in the history of this country it was proposed to make religious instruction in the schools compulsory. This was a Bill for the establishment and endowment of denominational religion in the council schools and to the extent of contracting-out for the establishment and endowment of denominational religion in the contracting-out schools. The position upon which they of the Liberal and Nonconformist Party had hitherto stood—the position which was reiterated again and again against the compromise in 1870 was this, that it was not within the proper function of the State to teach religion to adults in the Church and that it was not within the proper function of the State to teach religion to the infants in the schools. The right of entry by which they were to get this denominationalism in council schools was a right of entry during school hours. That was not a new proposal, although it was new from a Liberal Government. It was a proposal which was denounced by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in terms which justified his asking him to come out—to leave the Government and to fight with them against this monstrous Bill. The language that he had used was perhaps so strong that by Members who were not familiar with the particular words of the right hon. Gentleman, his attitude might perhaps be misunderstood, so he would read the actual words addressed to his constituents. This was what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, and he regretted that 448 he was not in his place to deal with the point—They, the Church party, were asking for a right of entry within school hours. He wished to say Nonconformists and Liberals were not going to grant it. If this were proposed, whether by a Conservative or Liberal Government, he desired it to be distinctly understood that he would be in opposition. They might wake up any day and find that they had been given away, and he wished it to be clearly recognised that the party or party leader who would give away the Nonconformists on this question would have to count on their most strenuous opposition in the carrying out of such policy.As the right hon. Gentleman said, they had been given away, and those who had given them away would have to count on their most strenuous opposition. This right of entry was not a new proposal in itself. Fourteen years ago it was known as the Orpington plan. It was suggested by the then Vicar of Orpington, and well he recollected how vehemently the papers denounced the proposal. He recollected how adroitly "F. C. G." drew cartoons showing the effect of a large number of different denominations making applications for denominational teaching in one of the council schools. They had pictures drawn, which it did not require a great stretch of imagination to realise to-day, of a large number of denominational pens in the main hall of one of the large board schools. One of these pens was labelled "Wesleyan," another "Roman Catholic," and another "Church of England," etc., and then in the midst was a picture of a child that was being claimed by the Baptists, Roman Catholics, Church of England and by representatives of other bodies as belonging to their particular faith. That was a condition of things which, metaphorically speaking, if not physically, would constantly happen under the new regime which would demoralise the whole discipline of school and do much to destroy that delightful esprit de corps, which was the well-spring and life of the school, and to antagonise childhood at a time when it ought not to be antagonised. But it was not merely that the right of entry was given. To his mind the most fraudulent part of this Bill was the line as between contracting-out on the one side and alleged public control on the other. 449 What was the position? The only schools which must contract out were those in single school rural parishes. All the other denominational schools might or might not contract out just as they liked. The question as to whether the Liberals and Nonconformists got much under this Bill, in the way of extended public control, depended entirely upon the extent to which contracting out would be resorted to. What was the position? The contracting out schools were being given 50 per cent. more by way of grant than hitherto. It was notorious that before the Bill of 1902, introduced by the Leader of the Opposition, the cost per scholar of the different voluntary schools was as follows:—Church schools, £2 4s. 11d.; Wesleyan schools, £2 3s. 4d.; Roman Catholic, £2 3s. 1d.; British and other undenominational schools, £2 8s. 11d. That was the cost per child in those schools upon the rates prior to the Act of the right hon. Gentleman passed in 1902. That was taking the whole country, taking the rural with the urban, and what he contended was that with £2 10s. coming in the denomination would be able, if he might say so, to scheme a surplus and use it elsewhere. There seemed to have been such an alacrity on the part of the Liberal Members to get rid of this question that there were some aspects of the Bill which had not yet been frankly put before the country. The right hon. Gentleman, in 1897, introduced a Bill for which he was roundly denounced by Members on that side of the House, and that was the Voluntary Schools Aid Act. No language was strong enough to denounce the proposal that there should be a 5s. dole per child in the voluntary schools, but the right hon. Gentleman safeguarded the giving of that dole by saying that while it was to go to the Associations of Voluntary Schools, it was in fact to be allocated and distributed by the Board of Education in consultation with those associations. Further than that, the right hon. Gentleman was indifferent as to whether it went to a denominational association like the National Schools Society, or to an undenominational association like the British Schools Association. But what did this Bill propose? It proposed that no money at all should go to an association of voluntary schools that did not belong to a denomination, so 450 that the British Schools Association was left outside. It then proposed that £2 10s. or thereabouts per child was to go by way of grant to toe contracted out schools; but what was to happen? There was to be one single association for each denomination over thy whole of England and Wales. In other words, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster's committee would have handed over to them by the Liberal Government a sum of £700,000 of the taxpayers' money each year to be applied and distributed in the unfettered discretion of that body so long as it went to elementary education. It was an abrogation of the financial powers and privileges of this House. There would be a sum, roughly speaking, of £3,500,000 handed over by the Government to the Archbishop of Canterbury's committee, to be applied and distributed in whatever way they liked, subject only to the condition that it must go to elementary education. One knew perfectly well what would happen. That money would be collected and pooled and used for the purpose of opening new schools as against the council schools. This proposal to give, unfettered and unshackled, in a lump sum, to a single denomination, these vast sums was as a knife held to the throat of the council schools, and would render futile the suggestion that they were securing educational peace. It was said that religious teaching was to be made compulsory, that they were to have a new sort of Council of Trent in every district. They would have a Council of Burton-on-Trent in all probability to settle what should be the particular form of religion. Here was a Liberal Government proposing a piece of machinery, claiming to be democratic, suggesting that the persons who might do the mischief should electively be two removes away from the electors. In other words, the whole thing with regard to religion was to be settled by non-elective committees, appointed by, but not necessarily of, the education authority. The education authority, as they all knew, was nominated by the county council, partially consisting of county councillors and town councillors, and partially of outsiders, so that if they got any mischief done, or any feelings outraged, by this religious committee, they must go to the county council, with a view to changing the education authority, 451 with a view to changing the religious committee. The whole thing was fantastic, absurd, and undemocratic to a degree. They were told that this was a compromise, and that it made for a settlement. They were told that something must be done to save the educational reputation of the Government. He thought they had been excessively unwise in proposing this particular something. The difficulties which would be created by this Bill if it became law would be a hundredfold greater than the difficulty which existed at present. There was a great deal of thunder and lightning in the discussions, and there had been for the last few years on this religious wrangle, but after all, what had happened? The Liberals had fired at the Tories, the Baptists had fired at the Roman Catholics, the Church of England parson had fired at the Wesleyan, pulpits had been fired against pulpits, platforms had been fired against platforms, while inside the school there had been not a single sign or semblance of any real religious difficulty. If they passed this Bill into law, what were they going to do? They were going to send the fighting sects, the local leaders of denominations, the warriors of theology, into the very midst of the schools. They were therefore going to bring the religious difficulty inside the schools, and not merely the denominational schools but the council schools also. He. said that that was a crime against the democracy of this country. It was the most wicked thing that had been attempted by any Government against the peoples' schools, and if he had to cut the whole of his political connection, if the Liberal Government had to be sacrificed, then ten thousand times better that they should be sacrificed rather than that the people's schools should be handed over to the proselytising priests of all denominations.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day three months.'"—(Mr. Hutton.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON (Oxford University)
I do not approach this Bill from the point of view of either of the two last speakers. I am in favour of a 452 settlement, but a settlement honourable to both parties. They had another anxiety. They were anxious lest in the settlement arrived at, one of the parties should really get all that he thinks he is getting under the arrangement. I have a similar anxiety. I am not sure that under this arrangement the schools in which I am interested—the Church in which I am interested—will get all the Bill professes to give. I am bound to admit that this Bill is conceived in a very different spirit to its predecessors. As to the demerits of those predecessors I will say nothing. They lie like autumn leaves around the feet of the Government, and, like autumn leaves, I must sweep them away. But this Bill does contain a compromise. It contains a genuine compromise in so far as each party gives up something which he values. I do not think that either side should minimise the sacrifices which the other is called upon to make, and is indeed making. The sacrifice that we are asked for is undoubted and serious. We are asked to surrender the Church schools, the Church schools which at one time were the sole provision for elementary education in the country, the Church schools which in the course of their career have saved hundreds of thousands of pounds to the taxpayers and the ratepayers, schools which have been built, improved, and enlarged on a Parliamentary guarantee that they would always be used for the purposes for which they were built. We are asked to sacrifice these schools in order to meet a grievance which the hon. Member who has just sat down assures us is absolutely unreal, a grievance confined to the platform and to the pulpit, and non-existent in the schools. I did not agree with much of his speech, but I do cordially agree with that particular portion of it. There is no doubt as to the reality of this portion of the Bill. The local authority is no longer to maintain a school which is not provided by itself. The terms are as explicit in the clause as they can be made. I do not propose to touch upon the conditions of transfer now; there is something to be said about them in the Committee stage. I am quite ready to admit that the concessions on the other side are in point of principle considerable. The right of entry involves an invasion of the Cowper-Temple clause which I know is very near to the heart 453 of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the importance of which I recognise as making for peace. The use of the teacher, limited and guarded as it is, is a matter to which I know hon. Gentlemen opposite attach much importance, and in regard to their admission of the contracting-out principle they appear to throw aside, for the benefit of the settlement, almost every educational principle that they have ever laid down. But there is this curious feature about this proposed settlement. We have been privileged from the letters which appeared in yesterday's papers to see not only the result of the negotiations, but the progress of the negotiations themselves. We have read the letters which passed between the Archbishop and the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education. What I am concerned to inquire is, whether the letter of the Bill carries out the spirit of the negotiations. I must touch on some matters in which I think the Bill falls short in this respect. The hon. Member for Morley dwelt at some length on the immense concessions involved in the right of entry. He described how the ministers of denominational religion would have access to the schools, the influence that they would there exercise, and the disaster to un-denominationalism which would everywhere result. I am not quite so sure that the Bill as it stands has the effect which the hon. Member fears. The Archbishop stipulated for "full and effective opportunity in all schools during school hours for giving denominational religious teaching." Have we got it? I notice for one thing that whereas the desire of the parent for undenominational religious teaching may be expressed in any way the parent chooses, as regards denominational teaching his desire must be expressed under conditions and in the form provided and regulated by the Board of Education. I do not quite understand why this difference should exist. Some parents have a conscientious objection to undenominational religious teaching, and why should there not be just as serious provision to meet this objection as there is in regard to denominational teaching? And then I am compelled to ask—Can we trust the Board of Education? I am bound to confess that we have had indications during the last eighteen months that the Board of Education, although 454 entrusted with judicial functions, does not always discharge those functions in a judicial spirit, and we cannot repose that confidence in the Board of Education which we ought to be able to repose in a Government Department. There is another matter which the right hon. Gentleman touched upon. The Archbishop stipulates that religious instruction should be given during school hours. I notice, however, that whereas the undenominational instruction is to be given in the first three-quarters of an hour of the school's meeting, the denominational teaching is to be given between 9 and 9.45 a.m. If this means that it may be pushed out of school hours by some arrangement about the marking of registers, it is worthless. Everybody knows that in dealing with the matter the local authority could so alter the time table as practically to exclude denominational religious teaching from the school hours. We know that proposals have been made in former times by way of adjustment to give religious instruction at times which were not within the school hours, and if the difference between the two sections in phraseology is a real difference, and the intention is to exclude denominational religious teaching from school hours, then I say that the Archbishop's stipulations are not observed, and for my own part I will not accept religious teaching given under those conditions as any satisfaction of the promise made. Then the local authority has to decide whether any and what accommodation is available in the school house for religious teaching. Everyone knows that hostile local authorities can make things uncomfortable for voluntary schools and "schoolhouse" is a term of wide meaning. I have some anxiety lest in some parts of the country no accommodation should be found available in the school building, and lest the teaching may be relegated to some spare bedroom in the teacher's house or to some shed in the playground. That might be a way of meeting the requirements of the clause, but I do not think that it would be a fair way of meeting the spirit of the undertaking which has been given. Then, again, the local education authority have to decide whether they can spare the teacher consistently with the conduct and discipline of the school. I 455 find that there are many ways in which the local authorities may put difficulties in the way of this religious teaching. I gather that one of the difficulties which occurred in the course of the negotiations, and which was only got over after they had continued for some time, was as to the question of local option in. regard to the right of entry—whether they were to allow the local authority to determine if there was to be the right of entry or not, and the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Education, I understand, gave way on that point. I think the drafting of the Bill, and the hurry with which it has necessarily been prepared, may have something to do with it, but I should hardly think that the right hon. Gentleman means that local option over areas, which was withdrawn from local authorities, is to be revived in respect of each individual school. Taking the individual school, they might say that they could not find room, or could not find a teacher to give religious teaching here and there, and in that way the giving of denominational religious teaching might be rendered practically inoperative. I do not accuse the right hon. Gentleman of bad faith in this matter, but I do point out to him the result of the phraseology of the clause, and that it does not to my mind carry out the terms of the negotiations.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fifeshire, E.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what language he has in his mind?
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
Clause 3, which says that the local authority shall provide any accommodation which in the "school-house" can be easily made available for denominational instruction, As the Government knows, the term "school-house" is very wide; it means a great deal more than the actual school buildings, and the question whether a place can be easily made available rests with the local authority. In the same way as regards the teacher, in the next subsection, the service of the teacher shall not be withheld by the local authority—Unless the local authority has satisfied the Board of Education that the services of the 456 teacher are required for the general conduct of the school.
§ MR. ASQUITH
The point I am asking about is with regard to the particular school when the right of entry might be refused.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
My point is this. Although local option was annulled in regard to the area, it might as the Bill is worded, be revived in respect of each individual school, and so we should get back to the original condition of things. Unless the right of entry is genuine there is no consideration for that great surrender which we are to make. Then there follows the contracting-out, which I should have thought was equally unacceptable to both sides of the House. Contracting out violates the principle of popular control. Contracting out admits tests of any severity to be imposed on the; teacher. Contracting out practically is a frank endowment of denominational education as plain and obvious as the endowment of the Roman Catholic University, without all the silly make-believe with which we amused ourselves of forbidding tests, chapels, and other things wholly immaterial in respect to the practical result of the measure. As a matter of principle, I should have thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite would have strongly objected to contracting-out. Educationally, I regard contracting-out as retrograde, partly because it defeats the aims which we put before us—co-ordination in local areas—by the withdrawal of the contracting-out school from the authority of the local education committee, and because financially it will be difficult to keep these schools, on the terms given in the Bill, even as they now stand, up to the average and capacity for progress of the other school. I note that these terms are final, and that, although the education may become more costly and other schools may be more largely assisted out of the rates, no provision is made by way of a sliding scale for an increase of the grants to these schools. Consequently, these schools, disadvantageous as would be their present position under the Bill compared with other schools, five years 457 hence may be in a state so backward and exhausted that the whole situation will have to be revised. If I thought that this was the last word of the Government on these provisions I should oppose the Bill at this stage. But the Prime Minister the other day said to my noble friend the Member for the Chichester division, in answer to a question, that this matter might be reconsidered in Committee, and I do earnestly hope that during the Committee stage, short as will be the time allowed for the consideration of the measure, some better mode may be found of dealing with what I may call homogeneous schools in which the entire child population is of one religion, and no danger or inconvenience would be caused to anybody by recognition of that fact. Now I come to the points in the Bill which appeal to me. I feel strongly that a great deal is gained by the provision of religious instruction within these schools by the necessary setting apart of three-quarters of an hour of the school day for religious instruction for all those whose parents desire it. I also attach a great deal of importance to the introduction of this committee of religious instruction whose duties I should like to see extended not merely to the preparation of a syllabus but to the control and management of the mode in which the teaching is given. But as the Bill stands I feel that this provision raises this sort of teaching above the level of what the Leader of the Opposition, has very aptly described as municipal Christianity. It takes this syllabus outside purely local control and entrusts it to bodies of various religious denominations who will enter seriously upon their inquiries, I hope with excellent results. Then the introduction of the right of entry does to my mind import this on the part of the leaders of my Church that they recognise a responsibility for the children in the council schools as they have recognised responsibility in the past for the children in the Church schools. I was glad to hear the hon. Member for the Morley division expatiate on the energy and success with which denominational religious teaching would be given under the right of entry. Many doubts and anxieties have been expressed as to 458 whether the right of entry is worth anything. From my point of view the right of entry will be worth whatever the Church chooses to make of it. I have that confidence in the members of the Church to which I belong to believe that they will not allow this opportunity to pass by them of securing that the Church children in the Council schools should have that teaching which will make them understand that they are members of a community up to whose standard of religious life they must endeavour to live. I should like to press upon those who think this right of entry is worth little, this consideration, that the voluntary schools are diminishing in number, that the council schools now provide accommodation for the greater number of the children in school attendance, that new schools are relatively few in number. If you look at the yearly statistics of the Board of Education you see some Church schools closed, some transferred, and comparatively few new schools built. I should not like to lose the opportunity of getting access to the Church children in the Council schools which is offered by this Bill. My own desire as regards this religious question has always been that Christain teaching should be available for every child and special religious teaching for every child whose parents desire it, and the Bill with its many defects moves in this direction. So far as my own attitude to the Bill is concerned, much must depend on what happens during the next few days. I speak only for myself I will be no party to an unreal settlement nor to a settlement which leaves any large section of the community in a position financially and educationally deplorable. But I see a hope, however faint, I see a chance, though it may be remote, of an honourable settlement of this question which has for so many years hampered our educational system and embittered our religious and political divisions. I know it is impossible to go any way in this matter without differing from friends whose opinion one regards, and yet that hope, however faint, I will not relinquish, and that chance, however remote, I will not forego, and with this hope in my heart I propose with all reservations to vote for the Second Reading.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said he rose thus early in the debate because he had been asked by his colleagues to state the Catholic view. He recognised at a very early date that this was a measure which would have behind it an amount of strength which was not at the disposal of any previous Minister for Education. Indeed, if he were disposed to comment upon the ironies of politics he would certainly have abundant opportunity in some incidents even of this debate, apart altogether from the provisions of the Bill. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the Success which he had attained, a success largely due to his own skill, and at the same time he felt inclined to contrast his position and his fortunes with those of, the Chief Secretary for Ireland when endeavouring to make a settlement of this education question. He could not help making the comment that if the same consideration had been given to the Chief Secretary's Bill as was properly given to this the former Bill might now have been on the Statute-book, and in his opinion that Bill was from every point of view, from the point of view of religious liberty and still more from the point of view of educational efficiency, a far better settlement, at least from the Catholic point of view, than this. He knew the Bill would have a great deal of force behind it, partly because of the stage of exhaustion which this controversy had reached, but still more because when they came to the compromise in English politics they came on a racial instinct against which it was almost impossible for any man—especially a man of a. logical mind—to make any successful attack. So far as the settlement between the contending creeds and parties of this country was concerned he had nothing to say. He would welcome any peace among them which was accepted by all or most sections of opinion. His business was with this Bill as it affected the particular communion which he represented. From that point of view the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman was a slight improvement on the Bill of the First Lord of the Admiralty, but except for that it was as bad a settlement from their point of view as any that could be proposed. The settlement was bad for these reasons. He was not a Member of the Liberal Party, but 460 there was no man in that House who held more strongly what he regarded as the essential principles of Liberalism, and he was entitled to test the Bill from that point of view. Secondly, he had always approached the question as one which ought to be regarded largely, if not supremely, from the educational point of view, and the demand from that point of view was even stricter in the case of a. man in his position for the reason that he represented a particular class of the community which was least able to pay for education and at the same time was most in need of it. He did not claim to speak to any degree for English Catholics. The noble Lord on the front Opposition bench was in a much better position to do that. He dared say the noble Lord would make some ironical reflections also on the finance of the Bill as compared with the Bill of the Chief Secretary. But if the noble Lord and his friends could have induced themselves to support the Bill of the Chief Secretary in its ultimate shape they would not be face to face now with an inferior settlement of the question. He personally examined the Bill from the point of view of Liberal principles. The hon. Member for Morley represented views with which he found it far more difficult to quarrel than with the right hon. Gentleman's statement. The hon. Member was frankly in favour of the secular solution. He (Mr. O'Connor) did not think the secular solution was one which any Government could propose in the present state of opinion in this country. He did not know that the state of opinion would ever come when the secular solution would be accepted, and certainly any Minister who would propose any such solution at that moment would wreck both himself and his proposals. At the same time the secular solution had one great thing to be said in its favour. He would not say it was logical, because that apparently was rather a term of opprobrium to apply to any proposal in the House. He said it was good because it was consistent and it was fair all round. It established no form of religious teaching of one communion over another, it excluded with equal justice and with absolute equality every form whatever of religious instruction, and if Protestants were willing to accept that exclusion 461 Catholics could make no particular complaint: they got no worse treatment than any other body. But was that the description of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman? What was the proposal with regard to religious instruction? Religious instruction was now made practically universal, practically compulsory, and practically of one type. He knew, of course, there was a conscience clause and certain forms of local option committees that might frame one kind of syllabus or another, but these were minor distinctions. The broad fact was that in every public elementary school in this country supported out of taxes and rates there would be practically the same form of religious instruction. Some people had gone the length already of describing this as a new form of religious establishment. The seconder of the Amendment asked with some force and logic how could he be asked next year to vote for disestablishment in Wales when his own friends were establishing a new form of religious creed in the schools of the country. The President of the Board of Education would be entitled to reply that this was not sectarianism because it did not answer to what he and his friends regarded as sectarian. He had tried to find a definition of sectarianism as understood by the right hon. Gentleman and those with whom he acted. He found that it did not exclude all forms of religious teaching. According to the Nonconformist definition religious teaching should cover all the common principles of all Protestant communions. That was a fair definition. Furthermore, sectarianism was objected to by the party opposite when the doctrines of any particular religion were taught by the ministers of that communion to the children of that body and other communions as well. Let him apply that fair definition to this Bill. Could the Catholic schools be brought under the definition of sectarian? A Catholic school was homogeneous and it was not Protestant. It did not teach its Catholic doctrines to other children than Catholic. There were some Protestant children in Catholic schools, but by this Bill Catholic schools were almost invited to exclude Protestant children from their teaching. Although there were Protestant children in Catholic schools there had never been one authenticated case of a Protestant child 462 being proselytised in a Catholic school. For a moment he would apply the definition he had given of sectarianism to the teaching which the right hon. Gentleman's Bill would make the universal practice. It might be unsectarian between Protestant and Nonconformist, but he declined to regard it as unsectarian as between Protestant and Catholic. In introducing a previous Bill the right hon. Gentleman said that what the country wanted was a Protestant settlement in a Protestant land. When the right hon. Gentleman established in those schools what he described as unsectarian Christianity he was bound to admit in candour that it was sectarian from the Catholic point of view. What position did they come to? That what a Catholic regarded as sectarian teaching was being established in all the public schools of the country, and those schools were being supported out of the rates and taxes. The Protestant Nonconformist passive resister preferred to go to jail rather than to pay 1d. towards what he regarded as sectarian teaching, and if there was one form of that teaching which he declined to support it was the sectarian teaching in the Catholic schools. That point of view had been summed up in a not very happy or courteous phrase, "Rome on the rates." Unfortunately Rome was on the rates, for he had never found that his rates were not demanded, and the same applied to the other members of the communion to which he belonged. He was bound to pay his rates, including the school rate, for the teaching of that form of Protestant doctrine which was as much proselytism to him as the most prominent doctrine of any single one of the Protestant communities. He could if he wished make quotation after quotation containing strong statements made by Welsh Nonconformists in favour of this view. There was a notable speech made by one of the hon. Members from Wales at a previous stage of this educational controversy. It was made by the hon. Member for Carmarthen, who said that if the Nonconformists once gave up the doctrine that the State should have nothing to do with religion whatever or any form of religious teaching; if it gave up that doctrine and accepted Cowper-Templeism, or any other form of doctrine like that, they had no logical 463 answer to the Catholic that his religious teaching had the same right to use the rates and taxes. That was the result of his examination of the question from the point of view of what he conceived to be Liberal principles. He would approach the question now from what, after all, was the strongest ground, and that was the educational point of view. Was there a single man in any part of the House who would say that the contracted-out school could ever be in a position of equality with a public school? Was there a single hon. Member opposite who would make that proposition? Could a school with a grant minus the use of the rates ever approach to the same educational level as a school which had the grant plus the rates? When he came to educational efficiency, that covered a large field. He would begin with the teachers. It was a remarkable fact in regard to contracting-out that not a single teacher or teachers' organisation in the world had ever said a word in favour of it. He could quote speech after speech on this matter, and he was not going to quote the speech of the Secretary to the Admiralty although it was a very powerful one, and perhaps the hon. Member would repeat it himself.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Dr. MACNAMARA,) Camberwell, N.
said perhaps the hon. Member would forgive him when he said that notwithstanding those views the hon. Member voted for contracting-out when it was moved by the hon. Member for Preston.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said he would answer that by an observation once made by the Leader of the Opposition who, on being asked whether he preferred to be hanged or drowned, said he preferred to be drowned, although he had no great desire to be drowned. He would like to make a quotation from a speech made by the President of the Annual Conference of the National Union of Teachers, held at Hastings, in which he said—This provision for contracting-out is about the worst possible solution that could been have found. It is dead against the best educational interests of the children who will be taught in contracted-out schools; if such a provision should ever become law it would deal the 464 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.What would happen? This was educational retrogression, and that retrogression was made more intolerable because it followed a period of educational progress. Before the Act of 1902 Catholic schoolmasters were wretchedly paid, and were in a vastly inferior position to the teachers all over the country. They had got out of that land of bondage, and the Government were now proposing to put them back again. In obedience to pressure from the Education Department nearly all the fabrics of the Catholic schools had been revolutionised. He remembered very well the state of these schools before the Act of 1902. There were several Catholic schools in the Scotland division of Liverpool, and he was constantly being appealed to in regard to the decisions of Mr. Acland, who was then Minister of Education. One of the complaints which he used to bring before Mr. Acland was in regard to alterations in the size of the schools. The school inspector had pointed out that there were seventy or eighty children cooped up in a small hall and taught by one teacher. The demand of the education authority was that there should be more than one teacher, and that there should be two or three halls instead of one. Mr. Acland used to say: "How can you honestly ask me not to insist on these reforms in schools in the Scotland division?" He had no answer but that the people in his division were dockers, and others with precarious occupations and small wages, and that they had to equip these schools out of their small resources. There were many parts of the Act of 1902 which he condemned at the time and still condemned, but he asked the House to note the dilemma in which these schools were to be placed six years after the passing of the measure. The fabrics of the schools had been got out of their inefficient conditions, and now they were to be put back—
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said the hon. Member might allow him to make his speech. There was no power on earth by which a school with a grant but minus rate aid could be put in a position other than one of educational inferiority. If they had in London a few years ago a Catholic school with, say, eighty children and one teacher in one room, they had now two or three teachers, and three or four rooms. That school would be put back under the proposals in this Bill. The Catholic school was to be no longer a part of the national system of the country. Catholics, who always demanded to be put on the national system, were to be excluded from it. He thought they were perfectly entitled to ask that their religious convictions should be respected and that their schools should be admitted to the national system. They did not want the schools, because they were Catholic, to be removed from the atmosphere sentiment. It was possible for one to be strongly denominational without being a bigot, and if Catholics were excluded from the national sentiment, they were excluded from one of the most beneficent influences in the system of education. This was not the time to go into details in regard to the increase of the grant; they would do so on the Committee stage. If the calculations given to him were sound, they proved that Catholics would lose £35,000 a year in London and £130,000 a year in the country. He knew the right hon. Gentleman disputed that, but it was a matter which would be discussed at a later stage. But if that was true, was not that an answer to the hon. Member for Salford, who asked if he had forgotten the grants? What was the use of an increased grant, if it left them in a position of inferiority or did not remove the inferiority? As had been stated, the whole tendency in connection with education had been to increase expenditure. He did not find fault with that; he admired and approved of it. He thought the more money they spent on education the better it would he for the nation. Therefore, the tendency in the public schools would be to increase expenditure, and as the expenditure increased the wider would be the chasm between them and the contracted-out schools. The whole tendency of 466 the Bill, therefore, if it became law in its present form, would be to make the inferiority of the Catholic schools more marked. On what class of the community was this badge of inferiority to come? It was to come on the class which could least afford to be so treated. The Irish Catholic people in this country were engaged in the most drudgery, ill-paid, and unhealthy occupations, but they were to get less for education, he supposed, than the people of other races and creeds. That was not the whole grievance. These people who would not get a penny of rate aid from their schools because of their sectarian Catholic teaching, would be compelled to contribute to the rate-aided schools which were Protestant. He spoke with some feeling on this question. It was among the Irish of England, Scotland and Wales that his political life had been spent. It was on their behalf that he made an appeal to this House—the tragic figures of Irishmen cast without trained minds and hands on the shores of this country, condemned to live in slums and alleys, and to work in chemical works, at gas retorts, and at docks. He was glad that the Government had declared that this Bill was not their last word on the question. He hoped, to use the language of the Chief Secretary for Ireland that the means of goodwill and toleration all round would yet be found by which the Catholic school could form part of the national settlement, and that it would be put in a position of educational equality instead of inferiority. The right hon. Gentleman described his Bill a few months ago as a Protestant settlement demanded by a Protestant nation. It was a Protestant settlement mainly asked by a Protestant land, but in describing it as a Protestant settlement he gave it, from the Catholic point of view, both its epitome and its condemnation.
§ SIR GEORGE WHITE (Norfolk, N.W.)
said the hon. Member for the Scotland division always presented his case in the most able and most liberal way in which it could be presented—perhaps more liberally than some of the other representatives of his Church might present it. He had always felt that in this Protestant country the Catholic 467 case was an extremely difficult one to deal with if justice was to be done all round. The demand was made that they should have Catholic schools for Catholic children, taught by Catholic teachers, at the public expense. He submitted that that demand could not in that form be met by a community such as that for which an Education Bill like this provided. Therefore he was not disposed to follow his hon. friend in the pathetic appeal he made with so much power. At the same time he was bound to point out that when he claimed that his Church had been worse used in connection with the principle of contracting out than other Churches, he had enunciated a statement for which there was no ground. It seemed to him that when the principle of contracting out was adopted by either the Anglican or the Catholic Church, both Churches would be treated on an equal basis. It was a question of finance which could be better debated in Committee, and, therefore, he did not propose to follow the argument which the hon. Member had put before the House. Whatever the opinions they might hold in regard to this Bill, he thought the House was to be congratulated upon the able manner in which the opposition to it had been presented by his hon. friend the Member for the Morley division. The House had the advantage of hearing from him the best that could be said on behalf of those who opposed the measure. He wished he could compliment the seconder in the same way, but the gross extravagances in which he indulged, and the innuendoes he threw out, really vitiated the good points in his argument. The hon. Member said he had the greatest pain in opposing the Government, but it seemed to him as the hon. Member progressed that he was in a state of great happiness and delight in being able to oppose the Bill. He himself had to ask the indulgence of the House, because he had to occupy a position somewhat foreign to that which he usually occupied on this question. It had not been natural to him to be a party to, or to help forward, compromises. He confessed that it would be at this moment more congenial to his natural man to stand side by side with his hon. friend the Member for the Morley division and those who were 468 vigorously attacking the Bill. It would not only be more congenial, but it would be a great deal easier for him to take that position. [OPPOSITION cheers]. Yea, for the simple reason that it was always very much easier to pull down than to build. But, after thirty-five years of public educational work he had reached certain conclusions, and one of these was that he should never get his ideal except by instalments. He accepted this Bill because it brought him nearer, though only to a small degree, to his ideal as to education, but as a citizen he could not find in it the basis of a final settlement. It was evident from what was said by the mover and seconder of the Amendment that they had made great concessions. As he listened to those speeches he thought that they would do a great deal to convert Members opposite to support the Government on this occasion, for he ventured to say that no stronger speeches against the Bill would be made than those. They had to make concessions in the interests of education. He differed very seriously from the statement that no advance had been made in favour of education in this Bill. But in. the interests of peace in the country and in this House they tried to agree to some settlement which did not vitiate the principles to which he, and those who agreed with him, had a life-long attachment. To whatever charge of inconsistency which might be levelled against him his answer was that in supporting this Bill he would be serving the interests of the children, and through the children the nation at large. As he had said, it was much more easy to break down than to build up; and if by any combination of votes in this House the Amendment could be carried, and his hon. friend the Member for Morley were placed in the position of Minister for Education which his great talents fitted him to occupy, and if he were to bring in a Bill based on his ideal of education, he appealed to him with his experience of the House whether he could pass such a Bill even here, to say nothing of the reception it would meet with in another place. Even the withdrawn Bill might be opposed on much the same grounds as this Bill was opposed by the hon. Gentleman. 469 But in that event, not an inch would be moved as a result of the attitude which his hon. friends had taken. That was the situation in which they were placed; and which they had to face. Did his hon. friends think that he liked the situation? Far from it, he did not like to stand where he did. [OPPOSITION cries of "Hear, hear."] He must be frank with the House. He did not like to stand in that place and advocate the passing of a measure which contained some things with the principle of which he totally disagreed. He was not there to defend the Bill per se, but he was prepared to defend it, or most of it, as what he might call an emergency proposal for securing what he thought were the immediate demands for a settlement of the education question. He had friends who were quite willing to admit the principle of compromise, but the moment they were asked what they were willing to concede, it was found that they would concede nothing whatever that was of any value to the other side. Holding that principle one should not enter into a compromise at all; but when once he admitted that the situation was such as demanded an earnest consideration for a compromise he must admit that he must concede something which he was unwilling to give up, but which he gave up only because he considered the interests at stake were greater than the things which he was willing to concede. He was not sacrificing any fundamental principle. He was not a peace-at-any-price man. There were unfortunately many in the House, and thousands outside it, who were willing to settle this question on any terms in order to get rid of it; but he affirmed what had often been affirmed before, that there were some defeats more honourable than victories. He had been in a minority before, and therefore if he felt that the proposals in this Bill were as disastrous as had been described by his hon. friends, he would be compelled to vote against the Government, much as he respected their action in this matter. But he examined the position from a totally different standpoint from that taken by the mover and seconder of the Amendment. He started with the belief that an agreement was possible, and that if it were possible, 470 then it was wise under the circumstance to make that agreement. His hon. friends started with an ideal Bill in their minds, which would contain all that they believed was necessary for a national system of education, and they demanded that such a Bill should be presented by the Government to which they were attached. Having that ideal Bill in their minds they contrasted it with that of the Government, and found in the latter may defects and grievous errors. That was the ground of their opposition to it; they must have their own Bill or nothing. His hon. friend the Member for Morley had spoken of the old Nonconformist position on this matter. What was it? Up to 1870, the Nonconformists took the position that education should not be undertaken by the State; because religion was an essential part of education, and as the State could not, in their judgment, lawfully give religious instruction, therefore the State could not give education at all. That was the principle firmly held by the old Nonconformists. But circumstances were too strong for the principle. They found that by adhering to that principle thousands and tens of thousands of children were growing up in the grossest ignorance, and therefore, they had to forego their choicest and dearest principle in order to save the State from the enormous amount of ignorance that was growing up in and around it. He asked his friends who took the position which they did to-day to consider that the circumstances now were somewhat analogous to those in 1870. They might and could demonstrate that their position was logical, but he contended that as before 1870 the circumstances were too strong for the logical position of the old Nonconformist?, so the circumstances of to-day were too strong for the logical position of his hon. friends. They ignored the existence of a large number of Church schools, and they also ignored the influence of the power in another place to prevent any real system of national education becoming law. He did not say that an idealist was always inadmissable. As an irresponsible citizen it was delightful to hear what he said. He influenced the public mind, and to a certain extent 471 the mind of the Government. Therefore he rejoiced that there were idealists amongst them. He found no fault with the idealist at all; he had occupied that position himself many a time; hut he was not a statesman, or expected to be called one. However, they could not have legislation such as his hon. friends desired, and, therefore, they must take the nearest obtainable approach to it as they could get, by accepting an agreed scheme such as was now before them. They must regard the interests of the children of the nation as paramount in this matter; and if they could get this religious question, as he believed they could largely, out of the way by this compromise they should all rejoice. It was only because of their pessimistic views that his hon. friends were led to take up the position they had done that day. What would they get under this arrangement? They got all the schools transferred to the various local authorities. His hon. friends had often discoursed about the value of free rural schools; he regarded the freeing of the rural schools as one of the greatest and most essential features of this Bill, as it was one of the features of the withdrawn Bill. The clergy had to a large extent regarded these rural schools as part of their Church work, and therefore they had taken control in their administration. That had often grated on the consciences and the happiness of those who lived in rural districts. He was not throwing a stone at the clergy for that, because from their point of view they were justified. But now that the nation paid the expenses of the schools, these schools could not exist any longer in their old condition. The late Archbishop of Canterbury saw further on this question than any of his colleagues when he declared that rate aid for these schools would ultimately bring them under public control. Therefore, while it might be said, on the one hand, that they were falling in with Lord Salisbury's dictum, and allowing the schools to be captured by the Church, there was another side to the question, and that was that they were now under this Bill evolving the prophecy of the late Archbishop of Canterbury when he said that to transfer the payments for 472 these schools so that they came out of the rates must ultimately result in complete local control. He would remind those who were deeply interested in the rural districts of one or two consequences that followed these schools coming under local control. They had objected to Nonconformists being kept off the teaching staff of the schools, but now all teachers were to be appointed by the local authority, and consequently the Nonconformists would stand, for the first time in those districts, on the same footing as the Anglican or the members of any other Church. Village shopkeepers, and others, therefore, who looked to school teaching as one of the avenues for their children would, without any difficulty, be able to have that avenue opened. The county council would have complete control of these schools, and there would be in all of them, as he understood it, simple Bible-teaching on all days of the week, with denominational teaching for those children whose parents required it. They would therefore have, for the first time, the whole of the elementary schools in this nation, except the contracted-out schools, placed upon one footing, and that, he believed, was one of the conditions that the Leader of the Opposition said he was always anxious to see secured. Then there was the appointment of all the teachers, which, surely, was a great advantage. They had argued again and again that for any denominational body of people to appoint teachers, for which the people of the country had to pay, was an anomaly which ought to be abolished. It was abolished from this time, and after this Bill passed they would have no rates for denominational teaching. This was one of the recommendations, he said most unhesitatingly, which induced him to support this Bill. He knew the passive resister had been laughed at, and he would be laughed at again, but he also knew that there were thousands of poor ministers in this country who had been passive resisters from the first, and had paid their last shilling to discharge the claim which was made upon them through a Police Court, who would not receive financial assistance in their troubles and would go on passively resisting while the 473 present Act remained in force. Whatever might be their principles, he said that these men deserved consideration at the hands of legislators, because, while perhaps 100,000 had been passive resisters, there were many more thousands of men who had believed in the same principle, if they had not seen their way to defend it on the same lines. His hon. friends had not attempted to show how the pledges for which they voted at the general election were violated by this Bill. He contended that when he claimed to be a supporter of popular control, of the abolition of tests, and the prevention of denominational teaching being paid out of the rates—he contended that they had secured those three things by this Bill, and if they had, surely something had been gained. He knew his hon. friends had laboured to show that a great deal more had been given than had been gained, but when both sides were charged with having sold the pass, as, in fact, they were charged in connection with this measure, there must be some confusion somewhere, and he would leave those who charged both sides with having sold the pass to settle it between themselves. It had been attempted to be shown that they had given everything, and got nothing. That depended upon which side of the shield they cared to look at. He could understand a state submitting the adjustment of its frontiers to arbitration, and on one side of the country they relinquished their hold upon thirty square miles of territory, and on the other side they got sixty square miles. Of course, if they only looked at what was going on the one side they might say that a great tactical stretch of country had been abandoned, and great advantages given away. That was because they simply looked at the one side and not the other, and when his hon. friends replied that that was nothing at all, the rights belonged to them before the arbitration began, he submitted that when one went to arbitration, they had to consider things as they stood at the moment, and could not put in any predetermined rights in order to establish their claim to a greater share of the spoil. What he felt was that if they argued as might be argued that they had gained everything and given up nothing, then they set an example of 474 cupidity to the other side. Each side in the interests of peace had conceded what was necessary and nothing more than was necessary to get this compromise through, and he thought it could be shown that the party for which he stood had given some things which were a very great advantage to the other side, but still they were things about which no great principle was concerned. He thought they had done what was right and just, and he was sure that those who had carried on the negotiations for the other side had acted in the same spirit. It was regarded as a very serious question that the right of entry had been conceded, but that depended very largely upon the way in which it was conceded, and the spirit in which it was used. He thought the spirit in which this concession was going to be used very largely depended upon whether it was going to be a permanent part of the settlement. Of course, there were some things in the Bill which he had not seen or known, and for which perhaps the draftsman might be responsible. There were one or two things which he did not fully understand, but he was content to wait until they got closer in discussion of the details of this Bill in Committee. They included the way in which the Cowper-Temple teaching was arranged, which he thought was likely to be misunderstood, as he understood it, that teaching was to go on practically as it did in all the schools at the present moment. Then the question of regulations as to parents might well have a little more elucidation, and the question of fees was another matter, though it was not a matter of principle, upon which he should like to have some fresh light. Something ought also to be said on the power to apply the new contracting-out clause. Following the example of the right hon. Gentleman opposite the late President of the Board of Education, might he give a final word of caution to his friends. He hoped that they would all feel that the principles of this agreement must be adhered to, and that no attempts must be made, either here or elsewhere, to enlarge those principles upon any points which they might relatively consider essential to the settlement. Some of them had it on their consciences— 475 he used the expression cautiously, because he knew what the Nonconformist conscience was considered to be by some hon. Gentlemen—but they had had their consciences considerably on the rack, in regard to some of the proposals which had been conceded to the other side, and, therefore, when he said that the utmost limits of concession had been conceded by those for whom he had the honour to speak, he was sure the right hon. Gentleman would understand him. If they were to have war at any time, he would rather have war with a foreign Power than he would have a civil war in his own community, and he spoke with all seriousness when he said it would be a great misfortune if any attempt were made to enlarge this settlement on any essential principles. He would point out, in conclusion, that those who were opposing this Bill did so because they desired a secular solution. [Cries of "No."] He was speaking for his own side of this House, and he also thought that members of the Labour Party believed that the secular solution was the only one in regard to this question. He noticed that the very loud cheers which his right hon. friend the Member for Islington gave during the speeches of the mover and seconder showed that he concurred in all that they expressed.
§ SIR GEORGE WHITE
said he did not mean in favour of secularism, but in regard to other matters, but he could not forget the great assiduity with which his right hon. friend tried to convert him and others to the views which were expressed in another place in regard to the Bill of the Chief Secretary, and although he could get up and charge him with inconsistency, he could remind him that that was a game that they could both play at, for if he was seduced from the paths of virtue on that occasion, the right hon. Gentleman was one of the chief agents in bringing that about. He had received the testimony of men largely engaged in the administration of education, and they had given a large amount of encouragement, and that had 476 more than counterbalanced the letters of other kinds that he had received from some of his closest friends. But, whatever the result of this controversy, he should feel that he had taken his present position in what he regarded as the interests of peace and for the dismissal of strife. Remembering that the Bill was opposed by those who believed in secular education, he wanted to ask those Gentlemen to define what they meant by secular education, because he had no doubt he would agree with a great many of them. He desired no religious teaching in the school but such as was got from the simple reading of the Bible, which he believed to be a Book of Divine origin, and he thought it should be its own witness in the schools. Therefore, he had no doubt that with a large number of so-called secularists he was at one, but he felt that the position was one that now merited a reasonable conference to see whether there were not some terms of agreement. He believed those terms had been found on a fair basis. He had had many more congenial tasks in his lifetime, but never one which he was more satisfied that a sense of duty called him to fulfil. He should make no complaint of those friends of his who had taken an antagonistic view to his own, but he appealed to them not to aggravate the situation by exaggeration such as was indulged in by the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment. He need only refer to one remark, when he said that the Archbishop of Canterbury would have £3,500,000 to distribute if the Bill became law. Nothing could be further from the truth. That was not the way in which to arrive at a conclusion. If hon. Members desired to prevent the Bill passing, he did not think that that was the way either, for a well-reasoned speech like that of the hon. Member for Morley carried much more conviction.
§ LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
said he was reminded by the debate of an old legal story. A certain judge was sitting with two learned brethren who differed from one another and he contented himself by saying that he agreed with his learned brother on the right for the reasons given by his learned brother on the left. He 477 found himself inclined to follow the conclusions of the hon. Member for Morley, being largely moved thereto by the arguments of the hon. Member for Norfolk, who took, much more nearly than the hon. Member for Morley, the view of the effect of the Bill which seemed to him to be accurate. The Bill had been recommended to them as a treaty of peace, and hon. Members who had spoken all professed to be in favour of peace. Certainly he was. There was no one in the House who, for personal as well as political grounds, was more in favour of peace than he was. But when he was asked to support the Bill on the ground that it was to be a treaty of peace, he found it rather difficult to accept that contorting belief when he reflected that it was violently opposed by the National Union of Teachers, by a large section of the Nonconformists, he believed by the Jewish community, and chiefly and particularly by his Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. That fact alone would make it impossible for him to support this measure. He did not think he would be justified as a Member of Parliament in voting for any measure which the Roman Catholic community said, with every appearance of reason, offended their conscientious convictions. He did not assent to one observation of the hon. Member for the Scotland division, viz., that the failure of the 1906 Bill was due to the action of the English Roman Catholics. That appeared to him to be a travesty of history.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said the real and immediate cause was the action of the Liberal Government in declining to consider the Amendments of the House of Lords. This Bill had many aspects, but he did not propose to say anything, for instance, about the money provisions, the provisions for the rent of schools. They were, of course, quite inadequate from his point of view, and he admitted that he looked with some anxiety to the position in which he and others would be placed, who had recommended people to spend in the last two or three years large sums of money in order to meet the requirements of the Education Depart- 478 ment, and who would now have to tell them that, by the action of Parliament, they would get about a fifth or a sixth of the money they had expended. He understood that that did not trouble the episcopal conscience, but the working of the episcopal mind he confessed he had some difficulty in following. Nor did he propose to say anything about the curious provisions in one of the clauses of the Bill establishing a religious instruction committee. He understood that that was a thing which could be done at present, and as far as he could see it was either absolutely superfluous or, if it was going to force a committee upon a local authority and compel them to send to a committee, it might be of contending divines, all their proposals for religious instruction, then he thought it was not only superfluous but pernicious. He desired to come to what seemed to him to be the real question to consider, and that was: what security was there that denominational teaching would continue to be an integral part of the education of this country? He knew that hon. Members opposite regarded that as a merely sectarian question. They were entitled to their opinion; but it was not his. He did not regard the maintenance of denominational teaching as important in any degree because it would favour this or that Church. He did not believe that it did so, and he did not care about it if it did. That was not his object. In his judgment, it was futile to expect that they could have any real chance of preserving Christian teaching—real, effective Christian teaching—except through the medium of a denomination. He asked the House to consider whether it had ever been done in the whole eighteen or nineteen centuries of Christianity. Was there any instance that had ever occurred of effective Christian teaching that had not been connected with some religious body? It was quite clear that in dealing with the schools there must be some. What chance was there that a boy would continue to be a definite and sincere and active Christian, unless he had become allied to some religious body or another? It seemed to him to be a question whether they wished to make Christian teaching a part of their education or not. If so, surely they must 479 teach Christianity effectively. Therefore, he denied that this was in any important sense a sectarian question. It was a religious question. They constantly heard it said that they should get rid of this question and go back to the true interests of education. That was an antithesis which he rejected with all the emphasis that he could. It was an absurdity to put the religious and educational questions as in opposition to one another. Their education was absolutely valueless, from the point of view, he believed, of the enormous majority of the people of this country, unless it was founded upon religion, and to say that they could get rid of the religious question and go back to the true interests of education, was to misunderstand the issue before them. Holding those views, he had to consider what was the theory on which this Bill was based. It had been stated with great frankness by the Minister for Education, who said that the normal religious teaching was to be undenominational, that denominational teaching was intended to be exceptional, and be was not sure that he might not add, although the right hon. Gentleman did not say so, temporary. He thought that according to the scheme of the Bill, it was also to be temporary.
§ MR. RUNCIMAN
There is no intention of that kind in the Bill at all. The bargain is to be a permanent bargain.
§ LORD R. CECIL
said he did not mean to say that the right hon. Gentleman contemplated an amending Act, but when he considered all the provisions which applied only to existing voluntary schools, for instance, and when he took the single instance which only allowed the existing voluntary school head teacher to give religious teaching and put a limit of five years even to that permission, then he thought the idea of the Bill seemed to be that the denominational teaching was to be an excrescence which was gradually to diminish and eventually to disappear. When they came to look at the machinery by which it was proposed to be kept alive, they had first of all the contracting-out. He was quite content to take the view of the Minister for Education, who said that they had got to provide for those 480 who conscientiously desired a denominational school. Therefore, though they were not entitled to kill them altogether, they seemed to think there was nothing wrong in slowly starving them. This attitude reminded him a good deal of the old view that the Ecclesiastical Courts were not entitled to execute because they were not allowed to shed blood, though they could order persons to be burned to death. He thought they were entitled to ask what kind of equality was provided for the denominational as compared with the undenominational teaching. There was no equality of payment; there was not to be equality of choice; the children were to get undenominational teaching unless they specially demanded denominational. Therefore, it was clear that all the children were to have undenominational teaching. It was only if their parents were sufficiently conversant with the terms of the Act to know the steps to be taken, and if they took those steps, that the children would get denominational teaching. That was really the vital part of the whole Bill. It was useless to make provisions of this kind unless they also made provisions for the schools having adequate staffs. They did not get any head teachers in the denominational council schools and only got them temporarily in the voluntary schools. He would be very much surprised if that was regarded as a satisfactory arrangement. What did that mean? It meant that the head teacher was debarred from giving that instruction which the assistant teachers would be allowed to impart. Was it in accordance with human nature to suppose that the head teacher would be in favour of any form of teaching being given which he was unable to give? Of course, he would not. He would discourage it in every way he could. Nor had they any right to any assistant teachers. It depended on whether they volunteered. They had no means of securing their appointment; nor had they any security that there would be any teachers who were qualified to give the teaching. It was one of the chief claims of the promoters of the Bill that there was to be no test of the qualifications of teachers who were to give this denominational teaching. He did not see how it was possible for them to imagine or 481 hope that denominational teaching on those terms was going to be effective, or such as would really give the children the teaching to which they were entitled. One aspect of the Bill to which he wished to call attention was what, but for the speech of the Minister, he would call the studied ambiguity of its terms. It was very difficult to say what it was that was granted and what it was that was withheld. One could not help feeling that, as the hon. Member for Morley had said, the supporters of the Government justified the Bill to the Nonconformists by saying that it was true that there was right of entry, but they need not bother about it, because the conditions were such that it would never be exercised. And then they went to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other excellent prelates who had been in negotiation about this matter, and said: "The whole of the principles you contend for are in the Bill, but we must impose some conditions in the interests of administrative efficiency." In other words, the principles had been granted to the Church, but conditions had been put upon them which Nonconformists were asked to believe would render those principles ineffective. That appeared to him, he did not wish to exaggerate, to be the effect of the provisions of this Bill. How could a Bill of that description possibly make for peace? The hon. Member for Morley had remarked, quite correctly, that if the Bill became law, the Church of England would make a great effort. She would be bound conscientiously to make a great effort in order that the facilities might be made effective to secure denominational teaching. She would make an enormous effort in that direction. What a commentary on that they had from the hon. Member for Norfolk, who said it was absurd that Nonconformists should expect to get all they wished for at a step, but that this at any rate was an instalment of what they wanted. And Dr. Clifford had put the matter even more clearly. He said the question was: "Did this measure, taken as a whole, carry them really nearer to a system of education generally national"; and "that that idea could not be reached at a bound; nobody could expect it." That was the prospect of peace which 482 lay before them. The militant Nonconformists regarded this as merely a step forward in the direction they desired to go; and it was these very gentlemen who said at the same time, and with great truth that it would be the duty of the Church to press such privileges as were left to her to the utmost, if they were possibly to be made effective. They had only to look at the Bill to see that so far from being a means of bringing about peace, it would introduce religious strife, not only into Parliamentary elections but into every election throughout the country. The education authorities were given administrative control, and they were to allow the services of the assistant teachers if they could be spared from their other duties. The obvious course of those who desired these facilities was to fight every local election in the country on strictly sectarian grounds. He did not understand why this Bill was supposed to make for peace. They asked for nothing except equality; they asked for no privilege. They felt that the settlement of 1870 had broken down, and they felt that their demand must be met on a basis of logic and justice. He believed there was no practical difficulty in carrying out such a settlement. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty was fond of saying that to give free play to the principle that each parent might demand for his child teaching in the religion he chose would produce pandemonium in the schools. The hon. Gentleman could not say that any more, because the principle had been conceded in the present Bill. He had been at some trouble in the course of the last few months to investigate the working out of the day industrial school system in regard to the rights of parents to require that their children should be taught in their faith. No difficulty had been experienced. There was an industrial school in Drury Lane where some sixty Church of England, some thirty Roman Catholics, and a comparatively small number of children of other denomnations were provided with religious instruction according to their wants. This was done without difficulty. That was the experience, not of a single school, but of some fifteen other schools in the country dealing 483 with 1,500 children. It was one of the arguments on the other side that this system split the children up into groups, and they would not associate with one another. He had inquired of the master of the school in Drury Lane whether this was the fact, and he declared that there was no truth whatever in the statement, but that, on the contrary, the boys made friendships which endured through the whole of their lives, while the esprit de corps of the school was complete. They asked for religious equality; they asked the Government to carry out that principle which the hon. Member for North West Ham, at that time in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility, said to the House he was obliged to support. This was what he said—As I understand the local authority in Scotland can decide to give religious teaching in conformity with the desires of the people of the locality. That is not offered by this Bill. The people are allowed to choose religion if they like, but only one form of religion. If they wish to choose another they must pay for it. That is playing with loaded dice. It is only the religion endowed by the State that is to be free. I do not know, but I do not think that the majority of the Members of this House went to their constituents and asked them to record their votes in favour of this particular religion being taught universally in the schools. I admit that in my innocence I exhibited 'religious equality' in my posters. I shall have hereafter to explain that that was a terminological inexactitude,He did not quote these words of the hon. Gentleman with any desire to attack him. He was sure the hon. Member was perfectly sincere when he made those observations, and if he was able to support this Bill it was because he was convinced in some mysterious way that it did confer religious equality. Why should the House not grant this religious equality? What possible ground of Liberalism was there which could justify the House in elevating one particular form of religious instruction above another, and making that form the established and endowed religion in the State schools?
§ MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
said that whatever might be the case in the industrial schools, he would do his best to prevent any such departure in the case of the council schools. 484 On the general question of the Bill he had to say that this was not the Bill which his constituency sent him to support, and he had not the least hesitation in condemning it and refusing to support it. He objected entirely to the conditions of some parts of it, and he objected to it as a whole. It was not a Liberal Bill; it was not a measure calculated to carry out the principle which Nonconformists held dear. It was not for him to be more Royalist than the King, and if the Liberal Government and the Member for Norfolk could give this measure their support on what were supposed to be Liberal and Nonconformist grounds, he must leave them to settle that for themselves. He preferred to go on and deal with the matter on other grounds entirely. He had heard with great interest the speech of the Minister for Education. He complimented him upon it. It was clear, fair, and conspicuously sincere, though mistaken as he thought. There were perhaps two statements in it to which he should take exception on points of fact. He heard the right hon. Gentleman say that most of the time of the officers in the Board of Education was occupied with difficulties arising out of these theological disputes. That might be so in the case of the political heads of the Departments, but so far as he knew, and he had known the Department for many years, it was not the case with regard to the permanent staff.
§ MR. RUNCIMAN
The hon. Member will allow me to express some view about my own staff. I assure him that half the time of the capable heads of the Department, with the exception of the technical branch, is taken up with matters which arise out of the religious question.
§ MR. YOXALL
said he was surprised to hear it. He had not been in the Department in the capacity of his right hon. friend, but he had known it for many years, and he should have thought it an error to state that anything like half the time of the heads of the Department was taken up with difficulties arising out of theological disputes. The fact did not coincide with the other statement to which he took exception, 485 and that was that the members of education committees and local administrative bodies all over the country found themselves hampered to the extent mentioned by this religious difficulty. In the councils everywhere there was no religious difficulty. He believed it was the case in, he might almost say all the education committees under county and county councils, that peace now existed. Why were they going to have the opposite of peace introduced into the work of the council schools and education committees? He wished he could transport the House to what would be the state of a council school if this Bill became law. There was to be a right of entry between nine o'clock and quarter to ten on two mornings per week. At nine o'clock, as a rule, school assembled, and the register was marked for the first time. Then came the hymn, and then the prayer. About a quarter past nine the Bible lesson began. That was the state of things now. It appeared, however, that not only were they to have in the council schools a right of entry, different lessons on religion by different teachers, but different hymns, and different prayers in different class-rooms. That was in the name of peace. If peace did not now exist he would consent to a great deal to bring about peace. But peace did exist there, and this Bill was not going to bring peace but a sword. This was no olive branch. This was no method of improving the condition of the school. That right of entry would be carried out, he did not doubt in the least. The churches would take care of that, and they would destroy what peace now existed. They would bring enmity and discord where there was now peace, and for what gain? There would be no educational gain resulting from this change. What political gain would there be? Would Ministers satisfy their friends in the country by this Bill? When the general election came round their case would be far worse if this Bill became law than if they had introduced no Bill at all. His feeling was that it sacrificed to political expediency and Parliamentary emergency the present peace and the present rate of progress of the schools. Eight of entry was not compatible with administrative convenience and with peace in the schools. It involved separa- 486 tion of children who were not separated now. It set up at the youngest age—it might be three years of age in the infant classes—distinctions and differences which the children did not, and could not, understand. They would not know why they were classified here and there, and taught different doctrines and formulæ and catechisms by different teachers. They would know that in this class-room the crucifix was hung on the wall while the lesson was being given, and the symbol of the bleeding heart could be worshipped during the lesson, while in the next room instruction that that was blasphemy would be given by the representative of some ultra-Protestant organisation. This in the council school which had represented hitherto what Liberalism and Nonconformity held dear, brought about as a result of the Bill of a Liberal Government! Had that Government which sat on those benches three years ago dared to bring forward a Bill of this kind there would not only have been passive resistance but there would have been a revolution in the land. For ten years they had had the demand for the right of entry. It had always been opposed until recently by those with whom he associated politically. He had never before known the principle conceded. To this was now added as a further concession, amplifying it and rendering it real and vital and permanent, the permission given to paid teachers in the council schools to volunteer to give the kind of teaching which was provided for under the right of entry. The head teacher was not allowed to volunteer, but it was not so much a matter of the head teacher. He was in this particular nothing like so important as the assistant. The head teachers were much fewer than the assistants, and administrative difficulties entirely apart from theological opinion would in the case of nearly every school make it impracticable for the head teacher to volunteer, no matter how much he might wish, even if he were permitted to do so. He supposed it would be most unfair of anybody to object to an assistant teacher volunteering to give this instruction if the volunteer were motived by a sincere desire to teach the religion. 487 But they mixed in all sorts of incentives and invitations and indirect bribes of a mercenary kind. The noble Lord said the Church of England would make a great effort to make the right of entry a real thing. He supposed that effort would consist largely of an endeavour to obtain the entrance of the clergy—the superior clergy, the vicar or rector, the curate, a lay reader or some worthy earnest layman—to go into the schools. That was tried in Birmingham for many years. It did not fail all at once. It went on for a very long period—for nearly thirty years. Some of his hon. friends consoled themselves with the idea that it would break down and that the teachers would help it to break down. It went on under special difficulties in Birmingham. They had to pay 5s. per week per room rent. The Bill proposed no such rent to be paid by the denomination. It came to an end because the present Bishop of Manchester, then the leader of the Church in Birmingham, preferred that there should be in all the council schools in Birmingham religious education given under the Cowper-Temple clause by the stipendiary teachers of the school, and that had gone on with the greatest satisfaction for several years now. It might be that all over the country the clergy and their lay helpers would show the same energy and the same continuous zeal and industry in this matter and use that right of entry to the same extent and for as many years, as was the case in Birmingham. But if they did not, it required very little power of prophecy to see what would happen. He did not know what the Socialist Labour Churches would have to say to this. They would be perfectly right in claiming the same entry, and it would be quite within the province of the law. Various churches would be able to do all sorts of indirect and improper things, and this was just the kind of provision which often made members of a church do things in their corporate capacity which they would not think of doing in private life. Under this Bill dishonourable incentives would be held out to teachers. At the present moment there were many assistant teachers and a few head teachers un-employed. There was a glut of teachers, and there were over 1,000 more certificated teachers more than 488 work could be found for in the schools. That state of things would be probably worse next year and the year after, so wise had been the policy of the Board of Education. Just when this glut of teachers was at its worst the Government proposed to allow assistant teachers to give sectarian teaching. There would be many schools managed by a nominated committee upon which there was a majority of persons belonging to one particular church, and in all those schools the assistant teachers would by this Bill be placed under an indirect compulsion to volunteer to give the sectarian teaching which the majority of the committee would like to see taught. He agreed with those hon. Members who said it was cowardly to cast upon the Organisation of the teachers the responsibility of protecting the teachers. They were imposing this task upon persons who were in all respects public servants, almost on the same footing as those in the Civil Service. They were placing upon the teachers the onus of refusing these invitations to give sectarian teaching, coupled with the danger of offending the committee. As a teacher for many years his objection to this Bill was very great, and from the administrative point of view his objections were tremendous. They were greater still from the point of view of a Liberal and a Nonconformist. Those three points of view taken together made him feel so strongly against this Bill that he could hardly find words forcible enough to express his feeling on this question. It was difficult to realise that such a measure could come from a Liberal Government. The noble Lord opposite appeared to be exceedingly doubtful whether this Bill was a good bargain from his point of view, and he gathered from hon. Members opposite that they thought they were giving a great deal away. He wished to assure them that they were not. Let them take, for example, a village school managed by six persons, four appointed as foundation managers by the trust upon which the school was held, one by the parish council, and another by the local education authority. Under this Bill the vicar and his churchwarden, and some good laywoman, would probably be managers of the school, and there might be two or three 489 persons of another complexion and another school of religious thought. They would not appoint the teacher or dismiss the head teacher, but with that exception they would have under this Bill as much power as they had at present. Under the present law in that school, upon four days out of five religious instruction of the Cowper-Temple order was taught, and on not more than one morning per week was Church of England instruction given as a rule. Now it was proposed to allow two mornings per week expressly for that purpose, and on three mornings of the week only would the children receive Cowper-Temple instruction from the paid teachers. The proposal under this Bill was that if the parents wished it on two mornings in the week their children could have religious instruction from those other teachers in those very forms which had hitherto been tolerated only on one day per week. He could assure the noble Lord opposite that he was losing so little that he ought to close with this bargain while he might. Another characteristic of this Bill was that it included the odious name of "contracting-out." The whole of the secular instruction was directly under the control of the local education authority, and very little real power rested in the hands of the voluntary schools committee. Every month the education committees were absorbing into their hands more power, and every month more voluntary schools were being closed. Nearly 1,000 Church of England schools had been closed or transferred since 1902. In the last year reported upon Church of England schools were being closed at the rate of three per week and the rate would soon be four per week. That process would go on in an increasing ratio if this Bill did not interfere with the process. This was inevitable because the managers could not find the money to keep up the fabric and the repairs of the schools for which the managers were responsible. In this Bill they said to managers of those schools: "You need not do that; you can contract-out and come out of the control of the local education authority and then you need not rebuild your school or go to the expense of getting better lighting, ventilation, or warming." Under those 490 circumstances, having contracted-out, the local authority could not make them put their schools in a proper condition, and of course they would contract out. As a matter of fact, they were getting a bribe to induce them to take that course by the higher grant which would be given them. From every point of view, whether Liberal, Nonconformist, or educational, this was a bad Bill. It was a Bill that would damage principles which on the Ministerial side of the House they held very dear. It was a Bill which would damage what every hon. Member of this House ought to protect, namely, educational efficiency. It was a Bill to divide, not to unite; to bring a sword, not an olive-branch. Any Liberal Member who supported this Bill would regret it in days to come.
§ MR. MASSIE (Wiltshire, Cricklade)
said the primary attitude which he, for one, adopted towards this Bill was not one of the negative criticism of which they had heard so much that night, and which, when combined, with dismal prophecy and an entire absence of constructiveness, was so remarkably easy to give utterance to, but an earnest desire to see whether the Bill could not be made to do. He thought that was a reasonable attitude. He certainly did not accept at all the view that the educational system of this country was a matter to be decided between Nonconformists and Churchmen or any other religious bodies. But it seemed that nothing practical could just now be achieved without such a conference as that which had taken place. Now they had an honest Minister mediating between two mutually suspicious, yet equally honest parties, and like an honest broker, as he had described himself, he was endeavouring to help two delicately situated clients to drive a bargain. There were things, he assumed, in the Bill which were not fundamentally connected with the compromise, and he therefore assumed that in Committee criticisms and suggestions would be welcomed by the Minister for Education, provided they did not fundamentally subvert the agreement which had been arrived at. If they could not turn a blind eye to the defects of the Bill, they could, and he thought 491 they ought to, turn a favourable eye towards those elements in it which were open to favourable construction. Their aim was peace, if not entirely with honour, with as much honour as the circumstances permitted. They were not to be drawn aside in order to balance too finely the two sides of the treaty, the give and take. When they were offered an extension of public control and public appointment of teachers they were not disposed to carp at it because it was not more complete. Nor did they feel inclined to refuse abolition of direct tests because some intriguers here and there might scheme to get behind the protecting statute and induce the assistant teacher to promise, before his appointment, to give denominational instruction. It had been suggested by the National Union of Teachers that those assistant teachers who so volunteered would afterwards be picked out for promotion, and that others who did not volunteer would proportionately suffer; but it occurred to him that it was not likely that the Church party would take away from his post an assistant teacher who was there serving them well in order to promote him to a head teachership where he could not serve them at all in the same capacity. Further, when they got rid of public payment for denominational teaching they were not going to treat it as a fatal flaw because the occasional use of class rooms might be permitted which were kept in order, with the rest of the school house, from public money. So much for what they received, and they did not wish to exaggerate its importance. Now as to what they gave. He would say that it was more substantial than some of its recipients acknowledged it to be. The right of entry stuck in the throat not only of Nonconformists but of a vast number who stood aloof from churches and clergy of all kinds, and who had always been satisfied and proud, like the railway men of Swindon, because of the harmonious working of their schools, which they had attributed, perhaps disproportionately, to their freedom from the clerical presence. To them the right of entry—even if it was not the right of the parson to put his thumb on the latch and walk in at pleasure and count his flock and summon 492 them to follow him, but only access under strict regulations to a class room for the teaching of the children whom the parents expressly and individually consigned to him—nevertheless this right of entry would be a bitter pill. Would the clergy just consider, if the patients were reversed, if they had to swallow it themselves, what gall and wormwood it would be! But he drew comfort for himself from two reflections: first, that it was in a sense just; for if the contentious subject of religion was taught in the schools at all, then, besides the religion, broadly speaking, common to all, it was just to give facilities to special consciences when they were in evidence, so long as the unity and discipline of the school and administrative practicabilities admitted it. This was the plan in some parts of Australia, and it worked well, but he must remember that in Australia there was no Established Church. If this plan did not work, then the only alternative for the State was to confine itself to the provision of secular education. He himself held the opinion that the secular function was the only function of a secular State. If he disbelieved in the State establishment of religion in the country he could not believe at the same time in the State establishment of religion in the schools. Such an arrangement, therefore, would be contrary to his own strong conviction; but he hoped he was not only a man of conviction, but a man of practicability, and he felt assured that England was not yet ripe for the secular solution, though he could not help thinking that, owing partly to the bitterness of recent religious or anti-religious discussion, England was ripening fast for it. If England was still far off from it, she was nearer than once she was to a general acknowledgment of the truth of Guizot's saying, that the State had no function either to teach religion or to have religion taught in its name. He admitted that, especially to the adherents of a State secular system, right of entry was a step backwards, but that step backward must not lead them to overlook the step forward. There were those whose dislike would be palliated if option were left to the local authorities. He could not, however, exalt into a principle the 493 difference between a statute of a representative Parliament and a statute of the representative local authority, provided the local authority was left free to consider local possibilities. It was mainly a question of expediency, and many local authorities for reasons of expediency preferred the statute by the State. He knew that these facilities, however carefully regulated, would be—or were at present—obnoxious to the teachers themselves. He had shown they were not alone, and they had, like others, good reasons on their side. They, and others with them, found the plan of contrasting-out obnoxious too. But schools demanding a peculiar atmosphere from the first moment to the last, from the opening of the door to the closing of it, and limited by tests in the choice of teachers, while one of the fundamental tenets there taught was that their Church was right and all other Churches wrong, could not be national schools and should not be part of a national system. That did seem to him a question of principle, and it was not sacrificed in the Bill. Expediencies, as in the Bill, could be sacrificed on the shrine of an expediency which was greater. But, in that case, every one must give something. Even religion could not have all it wanted, neither could administration, nor teachership, nor even education. All things, even good things, must contribute their item to the sacrifice; only by that means, it appeared, could what was on the whole a great step forward be taken and a long postponed boon to the country be at last attained.
§ LORD EDMUND TALBOT (Sussex, Chichester)
The hon. Member opposite very good-naturedly rather chaffed me for being responsible for breaking down the Bill of the present Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1906. Well, Sir, if I could take credit for the loss of that I should be extremely proud, but I do not regret it in the least. I think that the hon. Member's affection, at the present time, at any rate, for the Chief Secretary rather leads him to forget what the final outcome of that Bill was as regards the Catholics. He had in his mind what was known as Clause 4, but that proposal in its latest form, so far as the Catholics are 494 concerned, was liable to break down distinctly, from either of two causes. First, there were conditions of getting four-fifths or three-quarters—I forget which—but at any rate of getting that proportion of all the parents whether voting or not, and, secondly, there was the fact that the whole scheme would collapse if an infinitesimal number of children who could not be turned out of the school demanded Cowper-Temple teaching, and alternative accommodation could not be found for them. That, from the Catholic point of view, as we were advised by our experts, rendered it absolutely unsafe for us to accept the Bill. But in addition to that the whole thing might have been set aside by a recalcitrant local authority who could have compelled the schools to have recourse to an even worse form of contracting-out than that proposed in the present Bill. If the Bill had become law that would have been the Catholic situation, and we should have been deprived of some of our schools. I have no hesitation in repeating that I, for one, am truly thankful that that Bill never became law. Now, as regards the present Bill, like the hon. Member for the Scotland division of Liverpool, I venture to say in the name of the Catholics, it is quite impossible for us to accept this Bill. From start to finish of the measure there is only one point which to my mind is in any degree acceptable. I allude to Clause 3, which lays down the condition regarding new schools. I quite admit that that admission of new schools—of future voluntary schools—is an enormous surrender by the party opposite. My special gratitude, however, speaking as a Catholic, is to the Archbishop of Canterbury for having insisted that that clause should be put in this Bill. It is clear from the correspondence that not only is the insertion of this clause in the Bill entirely due to him, and although of course I am sure it will be taken full advantage of by the Church of England, none the less I recognise gratefully and as publicly as I can, that the Archbishop in asking for that clause knew that it would be of special advantage to my co-religionists. At the same time I do not think it would be fair of me if I did not also thank the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill for having persuaded the Nonconformists to accept this condition. I appreciate 495 the fact that it lays down as a principle of the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman hopes is going to become an Act that definite denominational schools will be able to be established in the future in this country where they do not now exist. However impossible it may be to maintain these schools when we get them, still I admit and repeat that that is an enormous surrender on the part of the Government on this particular point. I regret that that is the only point in the whole Bill which, speaking as a Catholic, I can possibly find for which to say a good word. As regards the right of entry, I can quite understand the views of the Church of England. I recognise that they feel that there are in the council schools a large number of children belonging to their faith. They want to get into these schools and to teach these children the religion of the Church of England, but I do not see that in this Bill what they ask for is obtained. As the conditions appeal to me, the right of entry seems to be purely illusory. That may be a strong thing to say, but I believe it. I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon, I quite recognise that he does not mean that they should be illusory. I did see, however, a report of a speech of a colleague of his, the Financial Secretary to the War Office, and I certainly took it for granted that that hon. Gentleman was speaking the views of the Government. I distinctly understood his speech to mean that, whatever sacrifice the Nonconformists were making in theory by giving way to this right of entry, in practice it would prove quite nugatory and that they need not trouble about it. If I have misinterpreted the hon. Gentleman's remarks, of course I will at once recall what I have stated, but that is my recollection of how I read his speech, and I have no doubt that there are other hon. Members who have seen it and may have a copy of it. Though I am a Catholic, and in the division which I have the honour to represent in this House there are only six Catholic schools, still, there are an enormous number of Church of England schools, and if the Church of England will allow me to speak for these schools, I would say that I think this Bill, as far as they are concerned, well, is not dishonest, but is 496 absolutely illusory for the purposes of a definite right of entry. As far as we Catholics are concerned it practically amounts to this: we are told that if we have a conscience we have got to suffer for it; we have got to pay our rates for other schools to which we cannot send our children. You give us grants for our own schools which you know places us outside the national system of education and will compel us to underpay our teachers. It will place us absolutely at the mercy of the local authority for all extras, scholarships, etc. That is as I understand; and all the time the Board of Education will insist on our keeping up the same measure of efficiency as the other schools in the country. They will be the judges of whether we do so or not, and when they consider that we are not doing so—and it will be impossible for us to do so—then they will come down upon us and deprive us of the grant given under this Bill and gradually attempt to crush us out of existence. That is the treatment we get from the great Liberal party; the party of freedom, of equality, and of toleration! And to whom do you give this freedom? To that one community, that one religious body in this country, which admittedly has the largest percentage of the very poor. Now what are these grants? The late Bill of the Government gave us 47s. I understand that an Answer was given at Question time to-day to the effect that the new arrangement of the grants as calculated by the Board of Education would give to the Catholics an average of 48s. 9d. Well, it is quite impossible in the time that the Government have allowed us in their hurry to press on with this Bill to obtain and work out our own figures with any sufficient accuracy. But I will tell the right hon. Gentleman that we give them credit for having given us 1s. more, and I am quite willing to think that that 1s. is coming, because we have always been told that the 47s. would become 50s. I am afraid that will not by any means meet the situation. We worked out this Bill, not at 48s. 9d., but 49s. 9d., let us call it 50s. I have got here a return of a Catholic school in Clerkenwell. The average attendance last year was 787; the present salaries of the 497 teachers amount to £2,407 and the present cost of maintenance to £495, making a total of £2,902. Assuming that this school got its allowance under the schedule of this Bill it would receive £1,869, which would leave a balance to be found annually of £1,033 for this one school. A school in a poor part of London—and all our schools are in poor parts of London—one school alone will have from voluntary sources to obtain over a thousand pounds to keep it up to its present state of efficiency. That is not all. The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon in his speech said that he had specially adopted this scheme in the Schedule raising the proportion, in order to meet the Catholic case.
§ MR. RUNCIMAN
No. I did not say that. I did not do it specially to meet the Catholic case, but what I did say was that at that scale and upwards there would be more money for the smaller schools, because it was anticipated that in many cases, many non-Catholic children would come out of the schools and make the cost correspondingly higher.
§ LORD EDMUND TALBOT
That is my point. I should like to say about the school I was mentioning just now that in that school there were five non-Catholic children. The right hon. Gentleman admits that this 55s. is specially put in the Bill for the benefit of the Catholics.
§ LORD EDMUND TALBOT
Will, it will be an advantage to us, but will the House believe that the number of schools we have got in this country which will draw the 55s. is only sixty-four, and that the number of Catholic children that will be entitled to earn that higher grant is only about 3,000? The right hon. Gentleman comes down here and advocates his putting in this 55s. because it is going to benefit the Catholics. I am not suggesting for a moment that he was aware of the conditions of the figures I have quoted, but if my figures are right I think the Catholics of this country are entitled to an apology from the right 498 hon. Gentleman for that part of his speech. The right hon. Gentleman said with reference to our figure of £35,000 being required in London alone under this Bill, that our figures were wrong and that we did not know how many non-Catholic children may go out of our schools. Well, the right hon. Gentleman does not know either, and if he disputes our figures I will undertake to get our financial experts from Liverpool and London and let them meet him and his round a table and see who has got them right. Under this Bill, we maintain that in London we shall have to find £35,000 a year. I cannot speak with any definite accuracy as to the amount we shall have to find in the country, but taking the country as a whole, I understand that the Catholic body will have to find no less than about £214,500. Let me tell the House that in London alone since the 1902 Act, in order to comply with its demands—its legitimate demands—that our schools should be brought up to date and put into a proper state of efficiency, we, the Catholics in London, have spent no less than £200,000, and now we are to be further fined by an annual sum of about £35,000. Of course, it is absolutely impossible for the Catholics to accept this Bill. I think the right hon. Gentleman suggested that the pooling system would be of benefit to us, but I must remind the House that whereas pooling may very likely be advantageous to the Church of England, it is of no use to us. Our schools are practically all on the same level of poverty, and it is quite useless to think that pooling will be any advantage whatever to the Catholic schools of this country. When. I came down here this afternoon I received a copy of a statement drawn up by the Roman Catholic bishops of this country, which will be published in the newspapers to-morrow, and the unanimous opinion of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales absolutely condemns this Bill. We have heard also to-day that this Bill has been unanimously condemned by the Education Committee of the London County Council, and I can well imagine that other county councils will also condemn it. We know it is condemned by all the associations of teachers throughout the country. It can be no settlement. From the Catholic point of view the Government ought to remember this. What our bishops have 499 said to-day every Catholic man and woman in the country will say to-morrow, every Catholic father and every Catholic mother. They will not accept this Bill. It not only will be no settlement, but what is far more serious, it certainly will not bring peace.
§ MR. HELME (Lancashire, Lancaster)
said that in considering this question of education, which was of such intense interest to the country, he asked the House to look at the situation as it had developed in the past since 1870, when for the first time a national system under which the children were compulsorily trained was instituted. They had had the advantage of something like forty years experience, and during that time the nation had risen to an appreciation of the advantages and the absolute necessity of developing that system throughout the country. In order to make the system more complete it was felt that public funds must be available for higher education, and so technical instruction had been recognised as an important element, on the extension of which the commercial interests of the country depended. In 1902 the late Government brought in a Bill to make further financial provision for elementary schools, and also to co-ordinate the higher branches of education. At that time it was found that the civic idea under which the board schools were being developed was challenged by the denominational interest that had been included in the national settlement of 1870, upon terms that were well understood and at the time accepted. If he mistook not, by the arrangements that were then made, it was agreed that in return for the privilege of teaching the denominational catechisms and special aspects of religious truth in the interest of the various churches, they, enjoying these privileges, were willing to subscribe a certain amount of money over and above the ordinary Parliamentary grants, and thus with the help of the pence of the school children the cost of the maintenance of denominational schools was met by them, whilst the Government and Parliament at that time in developing the school board system recognised that as municipal institutions having the Parliamentary grants and also the rates, they must of necessity be kept apart from the conflicting interests into which they as individuals divided themselves in regard 500 to religious matters. So the dual system was continued, but at that time, although they were then sitting on the other side of the House, they endeavoured as far as it was possible with their limited opportunities to influence the Government, although they failed, to insist that where public money was paid public control must follow. At that time he remembered well that a very large number of Unionist Members, recognising the danger to which the policy of the Government would lead, endeavoured to induce the Prime Minister, now the Leader of the Opposition, to alter the basis upon which the management in future would be conducted in the voluntary schools, which then carried with it the selection of the head teacher by the vote of a committee the majority of which was appointed by the vicar, in the interest of the church. The result of this had been that the nation had divided itself into two hostile camps, and they found themselves to-day in an unfortunate position, which he would not dwell upon. In the interest of education they were all agreed that an end should be put. to this strife. How could it be done? It had been urged that in a secular system there was the easiest and most logical method. To many of them such a proposal was highly dangerous and unsatisfactory. At the present moment many of them believed that it was far better to meet those from whom they differed in religious matters in order that they might secure a continuance of the Bible as the basis of religious instruction in the schools, and so they were striving to arrive at a settlement by consent. Material interests were important, but in the large mass of the people of this country there was a deep conviction that the highest welfare of the State could only be secured by an educated race of citizens who recognised the claims of religion and high character. In looking at this question they were face to face with the fact that there were vested interests. Prior to 1870 the Church of England backed by the resources entrusted to it as the established church of the nation by Parliament did its best to fulfil its duties in regard to the education of the young, and, therefore, it was right that the interests of its schools should 501 be carefully considered. In the measure now before the House a continuance of Parliamentary grants at least equal to, and he would venture to say far beyond, the figures on which these schools were originally established, was now offered to them by the Government. A scheme of contracting out was proposed, and, notwithstanding the objections which could easily be urged against it, it was a scheme which ought to meet the views of those earnest religionists who, for the sake of conscience, could not accept the control of the State. Under these circumstances the scheme was worthy of the careful consideration of everyone affected. The teachers strongly objected to the contracting out clause; they did not like serving under clerical influences, and they feared that these would be promoted in contracted-out schools. At the present time these must be recognised and fairly dealt with. The right of entry given by the Bill was a concession to the religious feelings of those whose case the Government were anxious to meet, while endeavouring to secure a national system which should be open to as little criticism as possible. The Minister for Education had admitted that this was in no sense an ideal system, but at the same time he was bringing it forward in the interest of peace. Members for the House were there to deal with public questions in the public interest, and not to bring about the Immediate gain of the Churches with which they might be connected. At the same time there were matters in which interests were so conflicting that it was desirable to move by way of compromise. That was the only plan which would prevent a continuance of the fighting between the voluntary system and what was known as the board school or public school system. In the interest of religious peace and educational efficiency the sooner they got rid of the present difficulty the better. Under this scheme Churchmen on the one hand, and Nonconformists on the other, might feel that, without sacrifice of principle, a via media had been found. The right of entry was seriously objected to by many, and on the other hand it was urged that it would not be largely used. Experience alone would show which was right, both 502 sides might however be content in not legislating in advance of public opinion. If both would give up some of the things they had been contending for, surely there might be evolved a scheme which would settle the question for many years to come. If it was not a permanent settlement, it would be because the nation did not support it, and those who came after the present representatives would have to deal with fresh legislative proposals to meet the feelings of the day. The Minister for Education and the Prime Minister, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, had striven to secure a compromise in the interest of peace and educational progress, and the House might congratulate them on the spirit in which they had conducted the negotiations. When the question appeared to be nearing a settlement, it was deemed necessary that the various sections of Nonconformists should meet and consider what course should be pursued with reference to the action of the Government in the matter. A meeting was held upstairs at which he moved a Resolution which assured the Government of their support, and that Resolution was carried by an overwhelming majority. It was premature yet to speak in regard to the volume of opinion in the country in favour of this measure, but there was evidence which was accumulating day by day that the great bulk of the people of England were anxious to have the difficulty settled in a fair and reasonable spirit. As to the Wesleyan Methodist Church, with which he was connected, he had to say that a large and important committee called from all parts of the country would meet on Friday to consider the question. In the meantime the President of the Wesleyan Conference had in the Press expressed a personal opinion which led them to recognise that his great influence would be decidedly on the side of those who were endeavouring to settle this question. He believed that his own church and the great mass of moderate opinion throughout the country was on the side of those who desired, if possible, to bring to an end the disastrous conflicts of the past. He heartily supported the scheme now put before the House 503 by the Government, believing that in doing so he was serving the best interests of the children and of education.
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS (Manchester, N.W.)
said he did not think he had ever addressed a meeting with a greater sense of responsibility than he felt in addressing the House on the question of this Bill. During the last few days he had received many communications from the county of Lancashire asking him to express, and express strongly, the voice and feeling of the people of Lancashire on the Bill, and their entire disapproval of the compromise embodied in it. He was glad the Minister for Education gave those who were opposed to the Bill credit for conscientious motives. He could not help feeling that the extremists on both sides—those who like the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill were extreme Nonconformists and those who opposed the Bill and were of the Church of England or the Church of Rome—might really be considered most conscientious in the matter; and that if the Bill was to be carried at all it would be carried through by pressure of a large mass of public opinion which was tired of the question and wanted to get it out of the way. A very large number of people went about and said they did not care a button about the question if they could only get it out of the way. He was not troubled by any of those conscientious scruples which some of the supporters of the Government seemed to have. There never was a better example of a good man struggling with adversity than the hon. Member for Norfolk. He did his very utmost to square his conscience with his previous speeches, and with the compromise embodied in the Bill. Whilst he endeavoured to persuade the House that the Bill was one which Nonconformists of his type could conscientiously recommend and support, he gave them a warning—a warning which he thought those bishops and others who were supporting the compromise might well take to heart—that this by no means ensured finality. He described them as emergency proposals, as the immediate demands of Nonconformists, and as instalments. 504 He wanted to know when the other instalments were going to be asked for. How long was this educational truce going to last? When was the hon. Member's conscience going to get the better of his compromising spirit, and when was he going to come down to the House and ask for further instalments, and to have the Church and denominational schools handed over entirely to the Cowper-Temple system? The hon. Member was good enough to tell them that he could not get the legislation he wanted. He agreed. The Government had brought in three Bills all more or less pleasing to the hon. Member opposite, and they had been unable to carry any of them, because they knew the feeling of the country was diametrically opposed to them. They had, therefore, been bound to bring in some Bill which they thought might effect a compromise. He was wondering when the argument of the mandate was going to be trotted out. The last speaker referred to it. He was going to ask whether this Bill represented the mandate and whether indeed that mandate was really in existence to-day. He denied that the 1906 election gave any mandate for the suppresson of the Church of England, Roman Catholic, or other denominational schools. He was prepared to admit there was a mandate, considerably overlaid by Chinese labour and other subjects, to remove the legitimate grievances of Nonconformists in single school areas, and they would be perfectly prepared, as he had said on many platforms in Lancashire, to sup-part a compromise which would remove those grievances without imposing tenfold grievances in the Church of England, Roman Catholics, and Jews in the multiple school areas. This Bill, while removing the Nonconformist grievances in single school areas, did impose tenfold grievances on Churchmen in multiple school areas. It was on behalf of the great county of Lancashire that he desired to put some views before the House with regard to the multiple school areas. They had perhaps in Lancashire more than in other parts of the country adhered to their Church schools. They had heard of the devotion of the Roman Catholics to their schools, but the Church—he did not mean the 505 clergy, but the people like the working men of the great towns of Lancashire—were just as devoted to their Church schools, and just as determined to secure their continuance as their Roman Catholic friends on the other side of St. George's Channel were determined to secure the continuance of their schools. They made sacrifices prior and subsequent to the Act of 1870, and even after the Act of 1902, to keep their schools going, and he wanted the House to realise that a large number of children were still being educated in their schools. Roughly speaking, there were 2,500,000 children being educated to-day in the voluntary schools, despite the efforts to hinder their continuance and the difficulties they had in keeping their funds going. There were nearly as many children being educated in voluntary as in provided schools. They asked for no privileges, and they had had no privileges. The Nonconformists could have built schools. He saw opposite one of the most prominent members of the Wesleyan community. They had built schools. There was a considerable number of Wesleyan schools in existence, and they had exactly the same share under the Act of 1902 in the rates, which were provided not merely by Wesleyans, but also by Churchmen and Roman Catholics. He had been wondering how the hon. Baronet the Member for Louth felt with, regard to the provisions of the Bill. He remembered that on the Second Reading of the Bill of the present First Lord of the Admiralty the hon. Member made an eloquent speech in which he said that the Nonconformist party felt that they had been sold. If that was so with regard to that Bill, he must feel to-day that he had not been sold, but given away. That was the feeling of a vast body of Church people, not merely in the country districts, where their schools were to be swept away, but in the large towns of Lancashire. In Lancashire they had a very large majority of voluntary schools. There were eight large boroughs with no provided schools at all, the whole of the schools were denominational. The people of Lancashire desired a system of concurrent endowments which would be perfectly fair and which could be perfectly easily granted. The Minister 506 for Education had referred to the system of education in Germany. They would like that system. They had there a system of concurrently endowed Roman and Lutheran and other forms of Protestant schools. Let them have the same in this country—Roman, Jewish, Church, and Nonconformist schools. He did not believe there was so much difference amongst Nonconformists as to make it a real necessity—
§ MR. RUNCIMAN
If the hon. Member says there is no difference between the different Nonconformist bodies, he certainly does not know much about them.
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS
said he thought there was not so much difference in the doctrines of the various Nonconformist bodies as would make it difficult for them to unite in a school on Cowper-Temple teaching. They were apparently all satisfied to-day with Cowper-Temple teaching.
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS
said he had sufficient faith in the honesty and conscientious motive of the great Nonconformist bodies to assume that if they were not satisfied with Cowper-Temple teaching they would make the same disturbance they did when they were not satisfied. In 1870 there were two or three courses open to the Government. He could hardly venture to imagine' what the view of Mr. Gladstone would have been if anyone had proposed the secular solution. They could have abolished the denominational school and have given Cowper-Temple religion. That was not the policy of the Liberal Party, or of Mr. Gladstone, or of Mr. Forster. Their policy was to allow two systems 507 of schools to run side by side with equal contributions from the State, and it was only because of the extreme pressure of denominational needs in the latter years of the last century that denominationalists were compelled to come to Parliament in 1902 and ask, not for any favour or privilege, but merely for a share of those rates they themselves paid in order that their schools could be kept up and have a chance of coming up to the standard of efficiency of the schools in which Cowper-Temple religion was taught. To-day, after all their sacrifices, they were to be asked by the Government—and he said very bitterly by their Archbishop—to surrender. The Licensing Bill and this Bill afforded the only instances of modern times of the Liberal Party being supported by the bishops, and of the Liberal Party supporting the bishops in the way they were doing to-day. They did not intend to be ridden down even by the opinion of so eminent a man as the Archbishop. This was a layman's question. When the right hon. Gentleman wanted the opinion of the Nonconformists he did not go to Dr. Clifford.
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS
did not understand that the right hon. Gentleman went exclusively to Dr. Clifford or the Nonconformist divines. He took a hundred representatives of Nonconformist lay opinion into his confidence and asked them their opinion; but when he wanted to know the opinion and the needs of the Church of England so far as he could see he went to the Archbishop and did not consult a single Member in the House, or one single representative of the parents in that body. They were being asked to surrender their schools which they had kept up for so many years past at great personal sacrifice. Those who knew anything of Lancashire knew what sacrifices the working-men had made to keep their schools, their bazaars, their sales, their collections, and their individual contributions. It was those men, and not the Bishops, for whom he was pleading. They were asked to surrender the right of appointing their 508 teachers, to surrender what they considered their right to an equal share in the rates which they themselves paid. They were asked to tear up the trust-deeds of those who gave money or land for the building of schools in bygone years, and to hand the whole of their buildings, with a very inadequate recompense, over to the public authority. Someone had suggested that if he had to choose between hanging and drowning he did not very much mind which it was. The choice here lay between joining in the scheme of education and handing their schools over to the public authority, and contracting-out. The choice was between sudden death and death by slow process of starvation. It was perfectly clear that if they contracted-out it could only result in slow process of starvation. What did they receive for all those surrenders which, they were asked by the Government and by their own Archbishop to make? They received the right of entry into the council schools. Some of them thought that the right of entry belonged to them to-day, and that they had been kept out of it by the action of the opposite party. Some of them believed that the council schools belonged to them as much as to others, because they paid rates for their maintenance just as much as the Nonconformists did. But he went farther. The right of entry he believed to be entirely insufficient. They wanted more than the right of entry. They wanted schools of their own. That was the demand of Lancashire. They wanted religious education to be given to their children because they felt that religion was a necessary part of education. Education was made compulsory and free, and they had no right to compel them to send their children to a school where the fundamental teaching—that of religion—was not that which they approved. That, he understood from the Member for North-West Norfolk, was the old Nonconformist position. "You may not take my child under the provision of compulsory education and bring him up as an atheist. That is diametrically opposed to the inherent rights of manhood and of parenthood. You may not take a Nonconformist child and bring him up as a Churchman or a Roman Catholic, and you have no right to take the child 509 of a Churchman and bring him up as a Cowper-Templer." That was the view which had been sanctioned at bye-election after bye-election during the past few months; and that was the view which was sanctioned all over Lancashire last month in the unprecedented number of gains at the municipal elections. Throughout the whole of the large towns of Lancashire where denominational schools predominated there was an overwhelming majority in favour of the maintenance of denominational schools. They were asked to accept the right of entry for two days a week, and on the other days they were to have Cowper-Temple teaching. One of the great reasons why they had been asked to support this Bill was that it ensured throughout the land simple Christian teaching in every school. That, however, was not provided for under the Bill. He did not represent the extreme wing of the English Church. He happened to be a decided Low Churchman, and simple Bible teaching was absolutely sufficient for his child. But when they asked him, or any one of the parents in his constituency, why he was not satisfied with simple Bible teaching the reply was: "What right have you to discuss the question of the kind, of religious education with which I am satisfied. Go and deal with your child and leave me to deal with the religious education of mine." The Bill did not provide for simple Christian teaching. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the bench of bishops had been misled on that point. What the Bill provided for was Cowper-Templeism, which was very different from simple Christian teaching. It simply meant the teaching of religion which did not touch any creeds or formularies.
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS
asked if the Apostles Creed was a compulsory part of Cowper-Temple teaching. [Cries of "No."] That was his point, that the local education authorities throughout the country could and did give teaching under the provisions of the Cowper-Temple clause, which was, undoubtedly, not simple Bible teaching, not even Christian teaching. They gave moral 510 teaching, and one knew there was a certain number of schools and of school boards which gave no Christian teaching at all, particularly in the Nonconformist centres of Wales. He should like an explanation how the right hon. Gentleman was going to enforce simple Bible teaching throughout the schools of the land. How was he going to deal with those school areas which did not even have a prayer or a hymn, which did not read the Bible at all, and those which read it without explanation? Were they going to mandamus half the education authorities in Wales, and some of the large borough authorities, to make them give the simple Bible teaching which the Archbishop thought he had secured by the provisions of this Bill? Even if Cowper-Temple teaching was a reality, and was going to be made a reality by the right hon. Gentleman, what were they who believed in denominational teaching to have? The right two days in the week to go into the schools, subject to the consent of the local education authority, and either by themselves, by the clergy or anybody nominated by them, or by the existing teachers, if the local education authorities permitted, to give denominational education. Existing head teachers were allowed to give it for life. Were they to speculate on the life of the headmaster? If he lived twenty years a transferred school might remain with some guarantee of denominational education. But he might die to-morrow, and then denominational teaching in that school would quickly go by the board. Though they might insure his life they could not insure his denominational teaching. A new headmaster might be brought in without any test, without any question being asked whether he believed the religious education he was prepared to give. He understood there were few teachers in the transferred schools who could be the donors of denominational teaching, because in poor districts it would be impossible to get voluntary teachers to come day by day. They could not afford it. The only available teachers would be those who might be prepared to volunteer. They were not to have the right to ask them when they were being appointed whether they believed, not merely in the denominational teaching they professed to give, 511 but in the simple Bible teaching which they were also to give. If the local education authority did not mean to deal fairly by the Act there would be very little denominational teaching. What would be the condition in the West Riding of Yorkshire? Were the local education authorities there likely to find it scholastically convenient to set aside rooms for denominational teaching? Were they likely to find it convenient to allow the teachers to give it? If they got denominational teaching they had to pay a portion of the teachers' salaries in addition to rent. They were to pay a certain sum of money towards the cost of denominational teaching in order that Cowper-Temple teaching might be made cheaper for their Nonconformist friends. From the educational standpoint the position was absolute folly. Any parent could nominate someone to give the denominational instruction to his child, and 100 parents might send 100 different teachers. In one part of the country a plan of campaign on those lines was being drawn up by people who wished to wreck the Bill. There would be no discipline in the denominational classes, no organisation provided for them if the headmaster was against it, and there would be no compulsion to attend denominational teaching. There might be ten religions at once being taught in any school. The Secretary to the Admiralty described the right of entry two years ago as pandemonium.
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS
said that it was on an Amendment moved by the hon. Member for East Marylebone that the hon. Member had said that. There was one council school in North-West Manchester where there were ten different religions represented, but there were not ten class rooms. How was right of entry going to be carried out there? The Liberal Party justified the right of entry concession by the fact that it had got something in return. He had always thought the Liberals' objection to it was a matter of conscience. If it was, it did not matter one iota what they got in return. With regard to the transfer of the schools they were being asked, in single-school areas, to transfer schools 512 which were the property of the denomination, of the trustees and of the parents, and they were given the option in the multiple-school area of transferring them or contracting-out. There was to be no appeal to the Law Courts, for the Minister for Education did not care to face twelve men in a jury box, but preferred to be both prosecutor and Judge. If the schools of the Church had been for sale they might have been prepared to bargain, but they were not erected for the purpose of being sold, and he objected most strongly to their being taken at any price. In the case of the Swansea School £18,000 had been spent upon it, and the price they would get for that school would be £3,225. There was a case in London where £24,000 had been spent on new schools, all of which had been raised by voluntary contributions, and they would receive for that £3,942. At St. Peter's School, Walworth, £8,000 had been spent and they would get £1,350; and St. Saviour's, Southwark, had spent £13,000 on schools and they would receive £1,600. He could go through Lancashire, Surrey, and other places where all they would get would be about one-fifth of the money they had spent on them, not in bygone days, but in the last year or two. If they availed themselves of the privilege of contracting-out it meant death by starvation. From the point of view of the parents who desired to retain their schools the Bill was absolutely impossible. In his constituency there was a Jewish school of 2,000 children, which last year cost £6,122 to carry on. Under the new Bill it would get £4,650, leaving £1,742 to be found annually by the Jewish community, to say nothing of the cost of repairs and upkeep of the building. How was that money to be obtained, and, if it was obtained, was it fair that the Jewish community should, at the same time, be paying rates towards other schools? There was a Roman Catholic school in his constituency where the grants under the Bill would not cover the cost of the teachers' salaries.
§ MR. JOYNSON-HICKS
said pooling would be no remedy. All the small 513 schools in Lancashire were in the single school areas, and so far as Lancashire schools were concerned the grant under that Bill would be sixpence less per child than under the Bill of the First Lord of the Admiralty. In the big towns in Lancashire nearly all the schools had over 1,300 pupils. By this Bill a large number of small schools would be swept out of existence. In Lancashire there were 100 single-school areas and all the rest were large schools and had nearly 1,000 pupils in each of them. In the case of schools in the East End of London and in Manchester pooling would not give them the 47s. per head because they were under the limit of 1,300. Were the to go back to the bad old days prior to the year 1902? They would be bound in Lancashire to oppose this Bill. With regard to the correspondence which had been published, he could not help feeling as he read it through, that the right hon. Gentleman had got the better of the Archbishop. He did not wish to use hard words, but he certainly thought the Archbishop had been "jockeyed" over these negotiations. The Archbishop imposed the condition that the arrangement should not cause an intolerable strain upon the subscribers, but it was impossible to get more subscriptions in the large areas. Year after year they would have to provide in Lancashire, even with this pooling arrangement, 25s. per head to keep their schools efficient, although they contained over 1,000 children. That meant that £1,250 a year would have to be found in a poor parish, where there was not a single person living who was rich enough to keep a servant, in order to maintain their schools. How was it possible to get the money? There must have been a smile on the right hon. Gentleman's face when he made that bargain. That was the whole position. He agreed that contracting out was entirely undesirable, but the terms of the compromise depended upon whether the Church schools could be successfully continued without an intolerable strain upon the subscribers. In the unfortunate parishes of Lancashire they had no subscribers. The friends of denominational schools did not rest their claim to the continuance 514 of those schools in a state of efficiency upon subscriptions, but upon a right to share in the rates which they paid for educational purposes. Speaking on behalf of all the Conservative Party in Lancashire, he could assure the Prime Minister that there would not be peace until they secured justice and equal rights for their voluntary schools.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
I hope the House will permit me to say a word or two on this very familiar, though rather threadbare, topic. I am no longer directly responsible in any way for the educational administration of the country. I am now at the Admiralty, but I may be excused if, like the sailor, I decline to be off with the old love though I am on with the new. Now, I may remind the House that this dangerous and disastrous educational civil war has raged intermittently in this country for exactly 100 years. The moment the State looked like taking up some responsibility in regard to the education of the people, or advancing on responsibility already entered into, then the common school became the cockpit of contending theologians, and so it has been, more or less, ever since. The last speech to which we have listened does not give a very happy augury for anything different in the future. Meanwhile other nations have been feverishly active sharpening their brains for the international competition in which all are plunged, and meanwhile, too, the governing forces of the civilised nations of the world are being rapidly revolutionised. No longer is the race to the swift and the battle to the strong; more and more must victory fall to the most highly equipped intellectually. The directors general of to-day's campaign are the electrician, the chemist, the inventor, and the scientist; and the school teacher is their agent in advance. While we have been squabbling all these years, a disparity, always deepening and widening, has been growing up between the education given to our children and that given by other great countries to theirs. It is no good for the British people to delude themselves with the characteristic complacent view that they have been divinely endowed with a monopoly of supremacy. They have not. It is perfectly true that we are a strong, 515 enduring, and enterprising people, and we are above all a people with a unique genius for local self-government. Therefore, with these qualifications, if you will make our equipment as good as that of other people's, we are bound to come to the top; but if you leave joints in the educational armour, there is no power on earth, no rearrangement of your fiscal system, which can ultimately save us in the relentless campaign from becoming mere hewers of wood and drawers of water to the more highly equipped people of the world. Therefore, it is urgent and it is vital, that we should clear the way for educational progress; and certainly any man, in my opinion, who vexatiously persists in blocking the way, whether Liberal or Tory, Churchman or Chapelgoer, layman or cleric, has in the interests of national self-defence to be taken very firmly and very respectfully and put on one side. I think all parties in this House must be very glad to know that for a long time past there has been a growing spirit of accommodation in regard to this educational problem, and particularly among contending factions. That spirit of accommodation, though belated, is nevertheless welcome; I rejoice to see it, and I have done all I can in my small way to endeavour to foster it. This Bill—our fourth attempt in three years—is an endeavour to take advantage of that spirit. Under the Bill each party gives up cherished and long defended territory. The noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone told us to-day that this is very far indeed from being the denominational idea of a settlement. That is true. We have heard also very frequently during the day from this side of the House that it is very far indeed from being the Radical idea of a settlement. It contains features extremely distasteful to both. I am personally not in love with two or three of its features. Let me try if I can quite dispassionately, and I hope in a non-controversial spirit, to examine what each of the main belligerents gains. In the first place, the denominationalist gets the right to give denominational teaching twice a week in Council schools. If I have understood him a rightly that alone is an enormous gain, for him. Secondly, he gets the right 516 to ask council school assistant teachers to give that denominational teaching; thirdly, in his own schools (which he now transfers to the local education authority) he gets the right to continue denominational teaching twice a week; fourthly, in these transferred schools he may ask the existing head teacher to be the denominational volunteer so long as he remains in his present post; and if that head teacher removes to another transferred school he may be invited to become the denominational volunteer any time up to five years after passing this Act; and fifthly, for all time the assistant teacher in the transferred school—as in the council school—may be invited to become the denominational volunteer. But let me add in. passing about this volunteering that the teacher may refuse without prejudice; that the local education committee must give its sanction in every case, or rather show cause if it refuses; and that the denominationalist may pay the local education committee for the value of the teacher's services as a denominational volunteer; finally, the denominationalist, except in the single-school area, gets the right to take his school entirely outside the national system and carry with it, subject to inspection of the Board of Education, large and augmented sums of public money from the central Exchequer. Certainly, if I remember correctly the debates in 1906 both in the House of Commons and in another place, denominationalists themselves laid great stress upon the necessity for such a provision as this. They were prepared to accept it even at the then existing scale of grants. I do not wish to rake amongst the embers of the old controversies to which constant references have been made to-day as to the question of contracting-out, but those who complain of contracting-out must remember that that came first of all from the hon. Member for Glasgow University. He was the first person to move for a system of contracting-out. It was afterwards moved by the hon. Member for Preston, and it was finally suggested by the Archbishop of Canterbury in another place. The hon. Member for Oxford University and the hon. Member for the Scotland division were critical to-day in their comments on 517 contracting-out. Really, I must ask them in fairness to remember that on 24th July, 1906, the hon. Member for Preston moved a contracting-out scheme which, like this scheme, was not to apply to single-school areas. It was based on the then existing grants. My hon. friend made no provision for additional grants. The Leader of the Opposition on that occasion said—A peaceful settlement of the question was to be found in the direction of accepting rather than rejecting the Amendment.He voted for it, and the whole of his party voted for it except the Member for South Birmingham. The whole of the Irish Party voted for it. The grants were then about 40s., and they are now round about 50s. I do not like contracting-out; but it is really a little hard that hon. Members should now be so severe on a 50s. scheme having voted themselves for a 40s. scheme. The hon. Member for the Denbigh Boroughs said that this Bill involved the violation of every Radical principle. Let us see. Let us see what the Radical gains. The Bill secures, first of all, the abolition of the dual system—an enormously important reform of a far-reaching character if I understand anything about the education of this country; secondly, except for contracted-out schools, the area of which I hope and believe will be strictly limited as a result of conceding the right of entry, he secures for the local education authority full control of all the schools in the country; thirdly, all the managers (not two out of six only), and all the teachers fall completely under the control and direction of the local education authority, except so far as the contracted out schools are concerned. It would be difficult for me as a Radical to overstate the significance of this reform. Fourthly, the Radical secures that wherever denominational teaching is given, it must be paid for by the denominationalist himself, and not out of the public fund; and finally, and of enormous importance, he secures for every parent who wants it a free and Undenominational school place for his child. I do not know how many times when Chairman of the School Accommodation Committee of the London School Board, I had to take part in compelling parents, who resided in areas where there was no board school 518 to satisfy the law and send their children to Roman Catholic and Church of England schools. Such compulsion will exist no longer. So much for the gains of either side. Now, what does each party lose? First, the denominationalist gives up his schools, or if he continues to hold them he gets no rate-aid; secondly, in every case he pays for denominational teaching, and if he still continues to get rate-aid he can only get denominational teaching for only two days a week; thirdly, he is shut out, unless he be a member of the local education authority or its education committee, from any further voice in the selection, appointment, or promotion of the teacher; and finally, except in contracted-out schools, undenominational teaching becomes the recognised State provision for religious teaching. Denominational teaching becomes, throughout, what I may perhaps call an ancillary feature paid for by the denominationalists themselves. Then what does the Radical lose? First, he is asked to concede the right of entry into the council school, and that is a very considerable sacrifice. Consider the case of the village board school. For years the people could not get that school; territorial and ecclesiastical influences checked them at every stage. At last they surmounted all, and taxed themselves up to 1s., 2s., and even 2s. 6d. in the £, to get their little school. From that day, the children have met every morning in family unity, for religious worship and instruction. I have heard them praying together, singing their hymns together, and listening to Bible stories together. Now, the little family may be broken up, by right of entry. Sociologically I think it is a great pity, and I very much sympathise with the comment of my hon. friend, the Member for West Nottingham, that this is a very big sacrifice indeed. But, more than that, the Radical has, in the second place, to contemplate the prospect of council teachers giving denominational religious teaching; and in the third place he has to contemplate the prospect of a number of schools going right out from local control, and taking with them large grants of public money. That, in short, is a profit and loss account for each of the main parties to this dispute. I suggest that what each 519 party has to ask itself is this: "Considering the vital national necessity to call a 'Truce of God' on this unhappy and dangerous feud, ought I to make the sacrifices involved, and if made, will they lead to a cessation of hostilities?" There is a further question which every friend of the continuance of religious education, in any form must put to himself. And that is this: "If this fails, what is the only outstanding alternative?" How long do the friends of religious education think that the mass of the people of this country are going to tolerate this unseemly and dangerous wrangle? I come now to the case of the teachers. All will acknowledge the greet power, circumspection, and intimate knowledge with which the hon. Member for West Nottingham has put that case. The teacher's criticisms are obviously sincere; they are not selfish; there was not a single word of selfishness in the speech of the hon. Member for West Nottingham. The teachers, I know, are inspired soleiy by a desire to promote and to secure educational progress so far as they understand it. That has always been their aim; and I am confident that every section, of this House, recognising, as it must do, the enormous service rendered to the State by the teachers, will be ready to consider the practicability in the present situation of any representation made on behalf of men and women upon whom, in the main, the whole fabric of public elementary education rests. The teachers fear that if the council school teacher be allowed to volunteer you will have in effect a creed test imposed upon those who, since 1870, have been entirely immune from any question respecting their religious beliefs. That is a legitimate fear, as was so 520 forcibly and eloquently stated by the hon. Member for West Nottingham. But I am entitled to point out to those who have that fear, as was stated by the Member for Denbigh very vigorously that we have sought to meet it in the Bill by sharply divorcing those who will select, appoint, and promote the teacher from those who may ask him hereafter to volunteer. Besides, I am entitled to point out that, for the first time in the educational history of this country, if this Bill passes, we leave the council school teacher free to refuse to give even Cowper-Temple teaching. Again, teachers strongly dislike contracting-out; so do I, and so does the President of the Board of Education who told the House to-night that it was educationally objectionable, but it seems inevitable to this compromise, and as my right hon. friend said, the right of entry ought to reduce its proportions. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition voted for it, and the hon. Member for Preston in the interests of peace in 1906.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
At any rate, it was not better financially than this Bill, because the grant in 1906 was round about 40s.; and under this Bill it is round about 50s.
§ SIR HENRY CRAIK (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)
The grants were not fixed by the Bill of 1906. You fix them here.
§ DR. MACNAMARA
All I can say is that if the Bill of 1906 had passed 521 you would have left the grant round about 40s., whereas now by this scheme of compromise you will get roughly 10s. per child more than under the scheme of 1906. As I have already said, the right of entry which is conceded ought substantially, in my opinion, if it is of any value at all, to reduce and restrict the area of contracted-out schools. We have hedged contracting-out with all sort of precautions, and all sorts of assurances for continued educational efficiency, and I hope that I shall have the support of the right hon. Gentleman opposite when we do that. Further, we have augmented the grants to contracted-out schools; we have specially designed a scheme of pooling grants which will, I hope, enable the richer districts to help the poorer, and thus to mitigate the loss which will inevitably be sustained by their coming off the rates. There remains an entirely negligible factor so far as most of our past educational debates, as I remember them, are concerned; and that is, the parent of the child who uses the school. The hon. Member for North-West Manchester says that this is a parent's question. So it is. What does this Bill do for the parent? The hon. Member for North-West Manchester says: "Nothing." Well, in the first place, this Bill retains all the old protection of a conscience clause, except, of course, in the contracted-out schools; but the parent cannot be compelled to send his child to a contracted-out school. In the second place, everywhere the parent may now claim a free unsectarian school place for his child, if he does not believe in the denominational system taught in the contracted-out schools. That is a general right for the first time conceded. Thirdly, if a child attends a council school, and Bible-teaching is not 522 enough, he may have something more on two days a week. Fourthly, on the other hand, you can no longer compel him to send his child to a denominational school. Fifthly, you set aside more money for education; and finally, you set free the Board of Education, with all its garnered experience, and high technical knowledge, to devote itself much more uninterruptedly than hitherto to the development of educational progress. Thus, you open the way to a due consideration of the real educational problems of the moment. I would go almost any distance in the direction of securing that. We must have the way open to the adequate treatment of real educational problems. And what are they? The health of the children; the warming, lighting, and ventilating of schools; the size of the classes; the qualifications of the teachers; the length of school life; the half-time system; the range and suitability of the curriculum—a matter of urgent importance—and the endeavour to arrive at a scientific discrimination between children who are fitted by capacity to profit by scholarships, and those who are not, a matter of even more urgent importance. Finally, the endeavour to secure the scientific treatment of the relationship which should subsist between the amount to be charged against the State for education, and the amount to be charged against the locality—also a matter of great and urgent importance, and one which, if left untreated, will lead to educational re-action, and heavily rated areas. These are the real problems, as I see them, and while the theologian blocks the way you cannot effectively get at them. But we cannot let the matter rest where it is. This Bill is an attempt to find a modus vivendi, and it does 523 not please either party who have an ideal settlement in their pockets. I believe it to be an honest and sincere attempt to set our hands free, and I do appeal to the men of all parties for nothing more than this, that they should bring to the discussion of this measure the spirit in which it is conceived. Then, perchance, we may get on quietly with the educational problem and with the task of so equipping our children that they may adequately steward the great heritage which, in due course, will fall into their safe keeping.
§ MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD (Leicester)
said he voted for the Second Reading of the Education Bills which the Government previously introduced into this House, and he desired to explain why he should certainly not vote for the Second Reading of this particular measure. He felt perfectly certain that if hon. Members opposite on the Ministerial benches had been asked by a Government composed of a majority of hon. Members above the gangway on the Opposition side of the House, to accept a measure containing the provisions of this Bill, they would have received it by a most militant challenge. The Liberal majority of the House approaching this Bill produced by a Conservative Government would have declared that it was obnoxious to their consciences and that it was a bad educational proposal. It was all very well for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to say that those who criticised this Bill were rejecting peace. He was bound to confess that if they could only convince him on that point he would go into the lobby against the Second Reading of this Bill with a great deal more reluctance than he was going to feel 524 on that occasion. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had told them that certain extremists must be firmly and boldly set aside. He quite agreed that was a very good course to take with extremists, but as a moderate middle course sort of man, he would also remind the hon. Gentleman that those who cried "Peace, peace" when there was no peace ought also quietly and firmly to be set aside. Did any hon. Member who listened to the two speeches before the dinner-hour, one by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University, and the other by the hon. Member for he Scotland division—one representing the Conservative and Church of England policy, in so far as it had been expressed from the front Opposition bench and the other representing the Catholic sentiment and the Catholic spirit of education—did any hon. Member really mean to say, after those two speeches, that the Bill was a proclamation of peace? Was it not really apparent that at the very best it created only a breathing space? The sections which had been responsible for war up to now were prepared perhaps to accept for the time being the proposals of this Bill. But every one of them—the Nonconformist, with the idea that the right of entry was going to be pared away either by non-practice or administrative obstruction—the Catholics, the High Church, the representatives of the Jews, each with ultimate intentions in mind—accepted it with the idea that as time went on some "intolerable strain" would make itself apparent and they were going to have a situation created precisely the same as before the Act of 1902. From the administrative and educational point of view there was nothing in this settlement fundamentally and essentially different from the state 525 of things existing before 1902, and five or six years hence claims for special consideration would be made on behalf of the contracted-out schools similar to those which were successfully advanced on behalf of voluntary schools six years ago. He admitted what the hon. Gentleman said about educational progress in other countries, but he was not so sure that he was right about the relative position of this country. The more one understood and saw with his own eyes on the spot the reality of the well-advertised progress in Germany and America, the more one was thankful that he belonged to England and had the benefit of the English educational system in spite of its many drawbacks. He quite admitted that in some respects they might do very much better, but really after all, the religious difficulty was standing less in their educational way to-day than it had ever done before It was real; it ought to be removed; it would be wise to remove it; but it must be done away with on some sort of a plan which would prevent contracting-out. Any system of dualism in education with one section contracted-out could not be a satisfactory or peaceful settlement. That was the fundamental principle which every Minister for Education must grasp before he proceeded to construct a policy which was to be a declaration of peace. He should like to summarise what, to his mind, were the chief points of this Bill, raising particular issues that ought to be discussed now, though there were many other points which would be debated during the Committee stage. For the first time Cowper-Templeism became statutory. It was not to be an act of grace by the education authority; 526 up to now it had been that. And the curious thing was that a Liberal Government recognised parental right in this respect. Cowper-Templeism now was to be a recognition of the right of the parent to have his child educated in a particular creed at the expense of the State. That was a new proposition. It was a new proposition for the Liberal Party in particular, and it was condemned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer speaking for the Liberal Party in 1906 in a passage of such remarkable force that he was sure it remained clear in the mind of everyone who heard him. The right hon. Gentleman denied absolutely and specifically the right of the parent to have his child educated at the expense of the State. He said it was not in the book of nature and was not recognised by the law of the land, but it was so recognised in this Bill. His second point was as to the right of entry to all schools. This was really a surrender of all the classical principles of Liberalism, and his third had reference to the provision that the assistants might teach if they cared. They were told that teachers were protected against tests. Every Member who had sat upon an education committee knew that in the appointment of teachers there were always some members of the committee who knew what denomination the teachers belonged to and what position they occupied with regard to the various conflicting denominations represented upon the body, and he ventured to say they could put down as many paper safeguards to the rights and liberties of the teachers as they liked, and as they had done in this Bill, and they would all be dead letters in six or seven years, provided teachers were allowed to give denominational instruction. This simple proposal that 527 assistants in schools might be asked to volunteer was the beginning of a new inquisition in a very subtle form. He objected to the new religious education committee provided for in Clause 7, and did not know why the clause was there at all. He did not think it was necessary to put such a provision in to enable the clergymen of various denominations to assist in drawing up a syllabus.
§ MR. RUNCIMAN
was understood to say that if the work was to be carried on it was necessary to put this clause in.
§ MR. RAMSAY MACDONALD
said that with all due deference to the right hon. Gentleman he thought he was mistaken, but they would see about it when the Committee stage was reached, if the Government would be good enough to construct their guillotine in such a way that they could deal with it. His next point was that the contracting-out system destroyed all idea of unity. The hon. Gentleman who had just addressed this House had said that it would be used to an exceedingly limited extent, but he thought it would be used to the maximum extent. He was told that the right of entry would not meet the desire of people who otherwise might wish to contract out. That missed the whole point. Those who would ant to contract out were those who wanted an atmosphere in their schools; and three quarters of an hour every morning was absolutely valueless from the point of view of religious instructors and people who wanted the religious atmosphere. If it was meant that religious instruction was a knowledge of the procession of the Kings of Judah that was a different thing, but if he sent his children 528 to school for the purpose of being religiously taught and trained, three-quarters of an hour reading from the Bible would not fulfil that desire. Therefore, the right of entry did not meet the desire to contract out. What did meet the desire to contract out were the financial facilities. These the Government proposed to give in a substantially increased grant with the liberty to impose fees, and by so doing they imposed a premium on contracting-out which would be very largely taken advantage of. The one virtue of the Bill from his point of view was the single school area alteration, but that could have been secured in other ways. The core of the whole Bill—that part of it around which everything else was built up—was the right to enter. Take that away, and the whole Bill fell. That was why he was going to vote against the Second Reading. All the Members of the Government had said the right to enter now proposed was radically different from the right of entry proposed in 1906, and his hon. friend in referring to that very delightful expression that the right of entry would create pandemonium, tried to put some sort of meaning on it which he thought he would find he had not in his mind at the time. The extract was this—He was violently against the segregation of children of tender age.Were not children of a tender age going to be segregated by the right of entry as proposed in this Bill? If not, what was the use of entry? His hon. friend proceeded to say—They would have them set aside in sections, and there would be pandemonium.That was the position now. He cheered the hon. Gentleman when he 529 made that statement in 1906, and he was appalled and amazed that he now tried to get out of it and delivered a speech in defence of a Bill which flew violently in the teeth of the position which he took up when he sat below the gangway. Every Minister, with one exception, had declared against the right of entry. There was one proudly consistent Member of the Treasury Bench who could indulge in an amplitude of self-satisfaction which was unusual in hon. Members who crossed from below the Gangway to take up responsible positions. The hon. Member for West Ham had always declared in favour of this and supported an Amendment in that direction in 1906. The party who were going to follow in his footsteps to-morrow night and declare that, after all, he saw more clearly and more accurately than their own leader did two years ago, only gave him three supporters on that occasion. Now they were told that they were all converted, and that for the sake of a peace that was no peace they were going to vote against their principles, against educational efficiency, and against proposals that two years ago they regarded as educational anathema. Why did they oppose the right of entry, and why did he oppose it now? They only required to quote Ministers' speeches. The first point was that it would create administrative chaos. They believed it would do it in 1906, and they believed it now. Their next point was that it was detrimental to the children. They believed it then, and they believed it now. Their next point was that it would militate against general peace. Two years ago hon. Members were cheering that very sentiment. The fourth point that they 530 made use of in 1906 was that it would impose disabilities on those creeds which did not believe in accepting the facilities provided by it. That was to say the right of entry simply allowed creeds that believed in the right of entry to take advantage of it, and those creeds, like, for instance, certain sections of the Baptists and the old-fashioned Nonconformists who held firmly to their old notions of the relations of Church and State, would refuse to accept those facilities, and the right of entry was thus merely a selective process by which certain particular sects took advantage of the sects that held other views. That view was put forcibly and ably by hon. Members opposite two years ago. All these arguments had now gone. The Government were going to create what they imagined to be peace at the price of destroying administrative order, sacrificing the interests of the children, militating against the best religious spirit of the country, and imposing disabilities on those sects which did not believe it was in accord with their principles to take advantage of the right of entry. They did not oppose the right of entry as sectarians two years ago, but on educational grounds, and nothing that had happened since had changed that position. Every argument that they used then could be used now against it, and therefore the House was entitled to ask Ministers to reply to-morrow a little more accurately, and more in detail, not to the criticism that they might pass upon the Bill, but to their speeches which were only two years old. The position he took up was perfectly clear. He did not do this in a lightsome partisan frame of mind. He regretted exceedingly that he could not support the Government 531 in the Second Reading of this Bill. He had always done it in the previous Bills, but this contained so much that was objectionable to him from the religious and educational points of view that he must vote against it. His final point, and he put it with all sincerity was this. He was deeply and sincerely interested in the religious life of this country. He believed that unless there was a better spiritual life among the people, they could educate them as much as they liked and make them as magnificent productive machines as they liked, but the country was not thus going to remain great and maintain its leading position in the world. He opposed all this make-believe of religious instruction, because it was destroying at the very root the best sentiment of their religious life. Over and over again they had challenged those who were in favour of denominational instruction to produce their results in the form of statistics. Let them examine the figures of crime. Had the scholars educated in the dead, immobile, uninspired, and uninspiring skeleton of their faith been better citizens? Had they had better manners? Had they done more than the board school children? Had they done more for upright, noble citizenship than these? No, they had not. Let them examine the statistics of juvenile offenders and they found that a mere drop in the bucket of the forces of civilisation was this miserable fraud which was imposed on the people in the name of religious instruction, the mere reading of the Bible and answering questions from the Bible for half-an-hour or three-quarters every morning. It was because he was so deeply sensible of the absolute failure of the present form of religious 532 instruction that he begged and prayed the House to face the question of substituting something which was, perhaps, a little more heroic, although it might be a little more difficult. When hon. Members told them the secular solution was no good, and was impossible, he would remind them that every argument which was common to the right of entry and the secular solution was used by them two years ago against the right of entry. He wanted to lay the very greatest emphasis on the fact that this really was not religious instruction at all. The Archbishop of Canterbury and everyone else in this curious joint committee which was being formed, told them it was a guarantee that the Christian education of England was being looked after. God help Christian education in England if all they could do was to teach the children from the Bible for half-an-hour or three-quarters—a mere intellectual exercise. Because the Bill was opposed to education and religion, he should not vote in favour of its Second Reading.
§ Motion made and Question, "That the debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour)—
§ Put, and agreed to.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, in pursuance of the Order of the House of 31st July, adjourned the House without Question put.
§ Adjourned at one minute before Eleven o'clock.