§ Lord EDMUND TALBOT
I desire to raise the question of the action of the Board of Education concerning what is known as the "ten-feet basis." My objection to the policy of the President of the Board is that he has made it retrospective. It seems to me to be singularly inconsiderate to apply this principle which is to be retrospective both to council schools and to denominational schools. My interest is chiefly concerned with denominational schools, and the pressure which this policy will bring to bear on these schools of this country. I understand it to be the fact that in Liverpool alone the application of this policy to the existing Catholic schools will mean the abolition of no less than 5,000 school places, and the loss of no less a sum than £100,000 to that one community in that one town, and that the poorest community. I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman, when he embarked upon this retrospective policy, could hardly have been aware of the effects it will have. I understand he has intimated that it can hardly be called 2476 unjust because it is equally applicable to the council schools and to the denominational schools. That is very poor comfort to those of the denomination to which I belong, who find it extremely difficult now, if not impossible, to obtain a sufficient sum of money to keep their own schools going without having drastic administration of this kind brought to bear against them. If it could be shown that this policy was necessary from the sanitary point of view, a great deal might be said for it, but I do not understand that it is contended for a moment that these schools are insanitary. The right hon. Gentleman, I understand, shelters himself behind the statement that this policy is necessary in the interests of the children and the teachers, but after all, these schools were altered in comparatively recent times in accordance with the demand for education. And I repeat that if the right hon. Gentleman could actually prove that in certain instances they were really dangerous to health from their insanitary condition, then, of course, they ought to be altered, but to say that what a few years ago was considered quite sufficient as regards air, and was in accordance with the requirements of the Board of Education. To hold that they are not sufficient now, when a few years ago they met all their requirements, seems to me to be extremely drastic treatment.
It is doubted in certain quarters whether the action of the right hon. Gentleman in this regard is actually legal. It is not for me to express an opinion on that point. The Board of Education has been singularly unfortunate in their action whenever they came into conflict with the law. It was only last night we had our attention directed to the very unfortunate position in which they have been placed by taking the advice of the Attorney-General upon legal points connected with the Board of Education. I confess I doubt that the right hon. Gentleman can have taken legal advice upon this particular matter, because I cannot help thinking from what I remember of his own speech at the time we had a Debate upon the Swansea school question. My recollection was that he himself felt he was not upon safe legal ground, and he had accordingly to shelter himself behind the opinion of the Attorney-General. He has since learned a lesson, and he has seen that, however good the Attorney-General may be in the eyes of the Government, it is quite clear he is a very bad lawyer. I do earnestly appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider 2477 that question in regard to the retrospective character of this matter, both as regards council schools and denominational schools. I doubt whether his action will tend towards the true interests of education in this country. It means prosecution in many denominational schools, and it also means a considerable rise in the rates in many parts of the country as well. I cannot help thinking that there is a great feeling throughout the country that there is a great deal of waste in regard to public money for education. And I doubt very much whether in the true interests of education whether this policy is a right or a just one for the right hon. Gentleman to pursue.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
The Noble Lord referred to the fact that those schools were for many years regarded as up to the requirements of the Board of Education, and thought that was a reason why these very small reforms in the amount of air space per child should not now be brought about. I cannot but think it is very deplorable that there should be at this hour of the day opposition to such moderate requirements for the children of the working classes of this country. We were now discussing certain grants from whisky money and other sources for secondary education. I should be the last person to complain about the additional grants given for education. The more we give to secondary education the better, but we must remember that there is a danger of doing considerable injustice to the children of the workers by giving more and more money to secondary education, on the one hand, and complaining about any additional expenditure for the elementary education on the other hand. Whatever view we may take of our secondary education, this is certainly true, that the child that gets secondary education is the child of parents who could afford, as a rule, to pay almost the whole of the expenses of that secondary education—at any rate, who could afford it very much better than the parents of the child going to the elementary school. What is the real position of this question at the present time? What has happened is this: We have developed and extended our view of educational ideals without having, to the full, appreciated the change in educational methods that the development of our ideals has brought about, and the result is that we are admittedly to-day not getting that value for the money we spend that we used to get. It will be in the memory of many Members present that the original conception of the foundation 2478 of our primary schools, written in the trust deeds of the old charity house schools, and in most of the appeals for subscriptions on behalf of the Lancastrian and National Society, point to what we may offer as a justification of that expenditure for putting a boy into the possession of simple accomplishments of being able to read and write, and the pernicious corollary that followed from that is the idea that a schoolmaster can drill 200 boys in reading, writing, and arithmetic quite as well as twenty boys provided you gave him a sufficient number of monitors. Consequently these schools were built with one long room in order that one responsible teacher could run the whole show with a few monitors to correct the lessons and see that the boy was pointing to the right word at the time. That is how these old school buildings came to be put up. The old system was very cheap, but under it the State was able to make sure that it got a proper return for its money, because it sent an inspector down like a sort of stocktaker on a fixed day, and he took the lessons that were wrong and struck them out as if they were depreciated stock, and the local authorities were paid Grants and the schoolmaster his salary on the number of little human parcels into which the requisite amount of reading, writing, and arithmetic had been successfully rubbed in. If the State bad had a definite educational system it would have got full value for its money. We have now changed our methods and adopted other ideals. We are spending much more money, but not enough. Everyone knows that the new idea of education means a certain amount of individual attention to the child, and we are endeavouring to provide that extra attention. Take the most ideal set of conditions in London or in any great cities where you have an average class of about forty-five scholars—that is the most ideal condition existing where the average lesson takes forty minutes. I will put the average at forty-five, and what does it mean? It means that, as far as individual attention is concerned, the child of the worker can get in an average day only one minute's arithmetic, one minute's reading, one minute's writing, and one minute of scientific teaching. This is not sufficient, and it is not achieving its purpose, with the result that boys of the age of thirteen and fourteen years leave the elementary schools not so well able to perform those functions of reading, writing, and arithmetic as they were under the old 2479 system. The result is that these boys who leave school at the age of twelve or thirteen years drop out altogether of educational work, and never touch it again unless they return to the evening continuation school at eighteen or nineteen years of age, having forgotten a considerable amount of what they learned before. Consequently they have to be put back into the first and second standards, with the result that a considerable amount of the money we are spending to-day is going to waste.
In those classes, in the case of country schools, the President of the Board of Education is endeavouring to bring them up to something like a tolerable standard. Now you have classes of from forty-five to sixty, seventy, eighty, or ninety children under one teacher, and the purpose of this new rule is to endeavour in a general way to make it possible that more class-room accommodation shall be provided in order to bring about more reasonable classes than exist at the present time. Nobody except one who has been actually through it can realise the horror of this system of big classes in our rural and industrial areas. Under our present system we are wasting a good deal of the money we are spending. Many years ago I had about twenty lads brought to my care who were the wastage from schools where they had these big classes with only one long room. They were country schools, such as the President of the Board of Education is endeavouring to deal with. They were boys who had fallen out in the race, and one of them could not write a sentence with any shape of spelling the words correctly. I found, however, with a little bit of individual attention, I was able to discover that he had plenty of natural ability, but he was short-sighted, and had not been able to see the blackboard properly. He had suffered in this way for six years, and he had taken his punishment almost every day. There was another case of a boy who never got any further than about halfway through the twice-times table, and he had failed to make any progress with his arithmetic to enable him to go out into life at fourteen years of age. That boy in a few months' time was able, with a little bit of care and kindly attention, to make up for lost ground; and I discovered the reason for his backwardness was that he was hard of hearing. In the huge battalion of the large class he had had to listen to the 2480 other scholars humming their task without knowing what was going on. That is what has been going on, and what is going on, at the present time owing to this deficiency in class-room accommodation. In this way we are going on wasting our money, and wasting these precious millions upon a most unsatisfactory system. I appeal most heartily to the President of the Board of Education not to be deterred at all in this matter. Talk about the money and the cost of all this—why, do you know what it comes to? Take any three of your great agricultural counties, and see what you are paying in rates and taxes combined for the education of the workhouse child? You will find you are paying 2s. 1d. per hour. That is what we begrudge, although we are perfectly ready to find £5,000,000 a year for extra "Dreadnoughts" to put upon the sea which will be put upon the scrap-heap in ten years' time. If you will spend that extra £5,000,000 a year on these boys you will get them off the industrial scrap-heap, where they are now being placed under our bad system. I could give other examples, such as the town of Preston, in Lancashire, which is one of the counties in which the President of the Board of Education is at the present time taking action. An average hour's instruction for the working boys and girls of Preston is the price of a hot cross bun. That is the sort of thing we are grumbling about. I hope the President of the Board of Education will stick to his purpose of giving the working people a better opportunity of having an education that has some sort of semblance to what we mean by the word.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I have listened with great interest to the speech which has just been delivered, but I cannot help saying that we shall never make any progress in national economy if the line of argument which the hon. Gentleman developed with so much ability is to be accepted as adequate. Economy is praised by everyone in the abstract, and all people are in favour of a reduction of expenditure. Everyone recognises how serious is the present weight of rates and taxes, but they never face the fact that the great mass of that expenditure is not wasted or thrown away if it is spent on what is worth having. The whole question is whether you cannot and ought not to give up something which is in itself a good thing, and which is worth having in order to have a cheaper system.
2481 The case before us is not one of reducing expenditure, but of increasing expenditure, and the question we have to consider is not whether it would be ideally better to have ten-feet by eight-feet air space, but whether the benefit would be so great that we can really afford the additional expenditure. There can be no progress in economy unless people make up their minds to sacrifice what is in itself good for the sake of economy. You will not avoid any additional expense if you are content merely to point out in this and in the other case that economy does not produce the desired result. Of course, additional expenditure produces the result, and, of course, the more expensive system is better than the less expensive system; but the point is, can you afford to go on following that argument and piling up rates and taxes? Must you not say, "This would be a good thing, but I cannot afford it. I should be better off if I could have it, but I cannot afford it." That is the whole secret of economy, as everybody knows, in his private income, but it seems almost impossible to bring people to see that you cannot make for economy in public affairs except by making a sacrifice of efficiency. Economy and efficiency are often linked together, but they are fundamentally antagonistic. You can only have an improvement in economy by a reduction in efficiency. You must face that fact, and if you have not robustness of mind to face it you will never make any progress in economy. In this particular case, ingenious and interesting as the illustrations of the hon. Member who has just sat down were, I cannot see how they boar on the question of a ten-feet by eight-feet air space. I cannot see how either the deaf or the short-sighted child can be any better dealt with by rebuilding the school
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Even retaining a large class, and it will only require a little intelligence on the part of the school teacher to be able to find out which child cannot see and which child cannot hear his words and to bring those children within reasonable distance. You do not need to rebuild the school. You might build twenty new schools, but if the teacher has not the intelligence to find out circumstances of that kind I do not see how your additional expenditure will help you. I think the argument therefore is irrelevant to the point before us. It has never been alleged that the true purpose of this regu- 2482 lation is to multiply classes. If that be, the purpose of it, it would be better to make a regulation directly dealing with that matter. The reason alleged for the regulation is that there is not enough air space for the children. I should be glad if the President of the Board of Education would give me some facts showing whether children are made ill by confined space of this kind.
If you can show the thing is positively insanitary, then the money will be well spent, but, if you can only show it is inconvenient, then the money will be ill-spent.
It is impossible not to sympathise with those who at great personal sacrifice to themselves, in the case of the voluntary non-provided schools, have rebuilt the schools under the directions of the Board of Education to satisfy every requirement made, and who a few years later are told the requirements of the Board of Education have changed, and that what they did at such great personal sacrifice is no longer of any value. Though it is quite true education is a progressive science, and that your standard of educational efficiency necessarily rises, that does not apply to regulations of health. A school once thought healthy by the Board of Education would always be thought healthy. The doctrine that a school necessarily changes in capacity for providing a healthy atmosphere does not seem to me one that requires argument. If the Board of Education are once satisfied on the ground of health, they ought always to be satisfied. Is it suggested that the various Educational Departments which have existed since 1870 have deliberately adopted a system inefficient for the health of the children?
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Yes, but not really insanitary. It can always be contended that ten feet are better than eight, and it might be contended that twelve feet arc better than ten and twenty feet are better than twelve, but the question is whether it is really insanitary, and whether the health of the children really suffers, and in that aspect I think a distinction ought to be drawn between town 2483 and country schools, because fresh air is much more abundant to the ordinary life of the child in the country, and there is, therefore, much less need for a large quantity of it in the schoolroom. When one looks back to the sort of accommodation and conditions in schools that were believed to be perfectly natural and satisfactory, the standard of sanitary requirements in an ordinary elementary school always seems extravagantly great to the person who has been accustomed to a wealthier system of education. I should not be dealing frankly with the Committee if I did not say I was concerned to press the case of the non-provided school. The non-provided schools owe their existence to the unselfish expenditure of people who hold certain religious opinions, and they deserve the consideration of all those who respect unselfishness in a religious cause. Moreover, they do actually satisfy a want which cannot be satisfied under the existing educational system. I know I shall be told that there is a great complaint against the existing settlement of the educational question.
I am not at all indisposed to consider how far that might be changed. Perhaps I might be allowed to say that, in my opinion, the situation at the present time is much more favourable for the settlement of the education question by consent than it was a short time ago. As long as the late Parliament was in existence there was a very natural apprehension that it was so strongly biassed on one side of the question that it could not be trusted to deal fairly with it. Therefore a large number of Churchmen were altogether opposed to any suggestion that the subject should be dealt with by the late Parliament. Circumstances have changed, and they are not likely again to come into existence, and if the President of the Board of Education chooses to address himself to that topic I believe he will have a larger measure of success now or in the near future than he could have had in the past. But I would earnestly say that small persecutions of a particular sort of religious opinion or of a particular group of religious opinion in the administration of the affairs of the Education Department serve no good purpose whatever. It merely embitters people, and it does not destroy a sufficient number of schools to make any sensible difference in the settlement, while it creates irritation and oppressiveness. 2484 which is the very atmosphere that has largely prevented a settlement of this question. I believe if we could get rid of administrative pressure on the one side and of those most unhappy summonses for non-payment of rates on the other— if those two elements of bitterness could be got rid of, a great step would be taken to create an atmosphere favourable to the salutary treatment of this subject, and I should be glad to see some legislative intervention in respect of that take place. As long as you use your administrative powers in such a way as to be reasonably suspected of a design of closing schools on grounds of defective sanitary and educational requirements, so long will you excite hostility between the contending parties and make the settlement of the question very difficult.
Perhaps I may draw the attention of the President of the Board of Education to one case of a slightly different character to which I do not wish him to make a detailed answer, but as to which I should be very much obliged if he will have the courtesy to inquire. It is the case of the Llanfear schools, in Glamorganshire. Broadly speaking, the circumstances are these; Llanfear schools have been condemned for having insufficient accommodation. It is a question of providing new accommodation. It appears, so far as the parish itself is concerned, that the accommodation is sufficient: the insufficiency arises from the circumstance that children from neighbouring districts come into the school. It is suggested it would better meet the views of the parents and the needs of the district if the defective accommodation were differently provided for than in the plan of the local educational authority. It is felt that the design of that authority is unnecessarily hostile to the existing schools, and that a school somewhat differently placed and improved on a somewhat less extensive scale would be sufficient. I do not desire to pronounce an opinion on the subject at all.
I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman it would meet the local view, and would allay a good deal of feeling, if he would order some kind of inquiry to be made on the subject, so that the demands on the parents and the needs of the district could be considered in a workmanlike manner, and the defective accommodation shown to really exist provided. I shall be very glad to furnish the right hon. Gentleman with any further details he may require. T hope the demand for inquiry will not be 2485 deemed unreasonable. I know the right hon. Gentleman looks upon me as a thoroughly irreconcilable person. On this occasion I suggest to him there is taking place a very curious and interesting development of religious opinion, and I think that he or any other person who candidly considers it will admit that whatever may have been the case in the past the theory which underlies the undenominational religious system is now in a way to break down. No one can seriously contend that the development of things taking place on the one side in Nonconformity, and, on the other side, in the Church, in an opposite direction, are no longer consistent with a common system of education. I think it is plain beyond dispute that changes of religious opinion have made that impossible. If the right hon. Gentleman and others are of that opinion, or can adopt it, I am quite sure it will be possible to arrive at a final settlement of the religious education question on the basis of the principles of religious equality, and that thereby this long-vexed question may be definitely settled.
§ Mr. T. E. HARVEY
I did not anticipate taking part in this Debate, but I felt, as the Noble Lord addressed the House, it was necessary that someone should rise in reply. In venturing to criticise what he had to say, I should like to state how gladly I welcome the spirit of his concluding observations, in which he made an appeal for a wider spirit of comprehension on all sides. I do not agree with the Noble Lord's position. I believe there is more in common between us than he is willing to recognise. I wish especially to deal with the earlier part of the Noble Lord's speech, in which, I believe, he set up and worshipped a false god—the miserable god of money economy. We on this side of the House believe that we stand for true economy, which is not the mere saving of money, but the wise spending of money, and, above all, the wise ordering of life. The Noble Lord really failed to understand the position taken up by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, and I venture to raise a protest against the standpoint adopted by the Noble Lord. We want to spend more money, and we want our money spent more wisely than at present. There can be no better object upon which national money and individual's money can be spent than upon the education of the youth of the country. If the Noble Lord will consider that from this standpoint, 2486 then he will be able to realise that the economy for which he pleaded is not the true economy. The economy which we plead for is a wise expenditure of our money. No doubt it will involve a greater expenditure, but then, the money will be expended on the most important of all national objects. The Noble Lord wholly failed to understand one point raised by the bon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, that in connection with large classes. It is not the mere difficulty that can be met by moving a boy from the back bench to the front bench. It is the case that when you have a large class of sixty or seventy scholars it is impossible even for the ablest teacher to give individual attention to pupils, and until we can reduce our classes everywhere to such an extent that individual attention and personal relationship are possible between the teacher and the pupil—until that is a practical thing and not merely a distant ideal, our educational system, with all the money which we spend upon it, must necessarily be to a large extent a failure. I think a great deal of the success of those village schools which are so dear, and rightly so dear, to the Noble Lord is due to the fact that this beautiful personal relationship is made possible, and we wish to make it possible in all our schools in the country.
I would venture, if I may, respectfully to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education that there is a way by means of which he may advance that cause, which, I am sure, is as dear to his heart as it is to those of many Members on both sides of the House, and that is the establishment of an additional Grant, an efficiency Grant, which should be given to schools in which the classes are reduced to proper numbers, and where other satisfactory educational conditions prevail. It is impossible for him always to deal as he wishes with schools under conditions which are not ideal, and very far from ideal, but which are not so bad that the Grant has absolutely to be withheld. But it would be possible if he were to assist the authorities to raise the standdard, and if the Board of Education, in addition to its ordinary Grant, gave an efficiency Grant, which would be an inducement everywhere to local authorities to spend money in improving the condition of their schools, knowing that if they did that properly and wisely the money would be recouped from the National Exchequer; and, in parting from this 2487 point, I would venture to remind the right hon. Gentleman of the discussion we have had this week, in which there was on all sides of the House an agreement that we need to spend more money from the National Exchequer upon this most important national service. We wish to urge that, not from any selfish desire of tie localities to avoid the burden cast upon them, but because of the fact that the money raised by taxes is more easily raised than money raised by rates, and presses less heavily upon the poor. It is also more equally spread if it is raised by taxes than if raised by rates, and if we can increase the proportion of educational expenditure borne by the nation we shall be doing a great service to the whole community. I would venture to say, in conclusion, that immensely as one values the work which has been done by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education, I confess I believe that no Education Minister would do a higher service to his country than the Minister who would be willing to resign his office if he is not able to get from the Treasury the absolutely necessary money which is needed for the efficiency of our schools throughout the country, and which, if spent, will promote the truest and only economy.
I entirely echo what has fallen from the lips of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken and the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Lord Hugh Cecil), and desire to say how much I wish that this educational question could be settled to the advantage of everybody. I think the time has come when we might arrive at some modus vivendi, as on all sides we wish to see the best results got out of the youth of the country. Personally I should like to see those boys or girls who show signs of aptitude for learning, carried on at the expense of the State, to have the very highest means given to them of completing their education, and I should also wish that those children who do not show aptitude should be taken away from the schools at the earliest possible moment. That seems to me to be the most practical system, and under it you would get the best results from the point of view of the State. We also should be very glad to see the State pay more in regard to the expenditure on the educational system and less of that expenditure being put upon the rates of the country. I am told that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 2488 since owing to his bad Budgetting he finds there is a deficiency in the whisky money to pay over to the rates, is going to hand over half of the Land Taxes towards secondary education in this country, instead, as has been stated in this House many times before, of handing it over to the local authorities to relieve the burden of the rates. What I want to know is this. As I judge, and I think the House will agree with me, most of the money which is to come from land taxation in this coming year is to come from minerals and those counties which produce the minerals will have to pay this taxation. Is the taxation which comes from particular counties to be allocated by the Exchequer to those counties to pay for secondary education, because it does not seem to me to be fair if it is not? I live in a county where there are a great many minerals, and a good many people will have to pay these Land Taxes on minerals, and I want to know, and perhaps the President of the Board of Education will tell me, if it is the case that money which is paid in Warwickshire for land taxation upon minerals will be allocated to help us on with our secondary education in the county, or will the money which we pay for minerals go to Wales or Wiltshire, the North of Scotland, or North, South, West, or East London, quite apart from the locality which produces the money? This is a question which I think we ought to have answered, because, after hearing so much last year about the localities benefiting to a certain extent by the land taxation, we ought to know how it would be allocated.
In this instance, what I chiefly wanted to say a few words to this House about was in regard to certain specific complaints which we have in the county which I have, the honour to represent. The right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of the education of this country knows all about them, because he was most kind and courteous to me the other day, and went through the facts privately, but there are certain things which we consider a very great hardship, and one is the immense expenditure which is being placed upon the rates owing to medical inspection. At the present moment I believe not once, but three times, children are to be medically inspected. Surely that is an affair which the State ought to pay for, and not the counties, but as it happened three times an immense expenditure was placed on the county I represent owing to that 2489 medical inspection. That is a thing which we who sit on this side of the House think very unfair, namely, that the rates should have to pay for that expense which ought to fall upon Imperial taxation. Then there is the question of the immense expenditure of the counties concerned in secondary education owing to the new regulations concerning free places. Personally I am all in favour of free places, and the clever children ought, as I have said before, at the commencement of my remarks, to be brought on, but it acts very hardly on counties in the matter of rates. I happen to have in my hands a copy of a letter which was sent by the director of education in the county of Warwick to the right hon. Gentleman's Department on this matter. He says as follows:—This authority [that is the education authority for the county of Warwick] have recently made a careful analysis of the accounts of secondary schools in their area, and they find that, while the Board's Grants amount to £5,204, the cost of free places, exclusive of such free places as are filled by scholars under the local authority from outside endowments is £3,110. leaving £2,094 to go towards the maintenance of the other pupils. As the total annual expenditure of the schools in question amounts to over £24,000. it will be seen that the Board's Grants cover only a very small proportion of this sum.I bring this fact before the Minister in charge of Education because, after all, all these little items which keep going on—medical inspection, free places, and so on— add very much to the rates. There is another subject on which I know the right hon. Gentleman does not agree with me, but about which some people feel rather strongly, and that is that a good many of these choppings and changings about which are made by the Board of Education might be obviated if the localities were rather more taken into the confidence of the Board of Education. Of course, I know it is impossible to consult every educational authority in the country when regulations are made, but at all events, before sending down orders for fresh regulations I think it might be possible for the Board to send down, some time before the regulations are to come into effect, the changes which they propose to make in order that some reply might be sent by the localities as to whether they consider these changes are for the benefit of education or not. I know it is a difficult thing to do, but there certainly is a great feeling in the country that a lot of these instructions which are sent down from headquarters are possibly sent without the knowledge, of the right hon. Gentleman himself. I received a letter two days ago from 2490 the director of education in my own county and he said he was perfectly certain if the right hon. Gentleman himself knew some of these changes which were being sent out from the Board of Education, he would be the last person to wish to send them down. But the fact is that though we talk of decentralising, we are doing nothing of the sort. Instead of allowing the localities to do the best they can for their own education, everything is being settled by the central authority in London, and as little power as possible is placed in the hands of the local authorities. After all, the counties of this country know what is best for the children. They know better than the central authority. I think the various local authorities can be trusted to see that their children are properly educated, and I say with all sincerity that we ought to decentralise more in the matter of education, leave a great deal more power in the hands of educational authorities, and divert a good many of these harassing Orders, which are constantly sent round from headquarters, in order that these things may be done by the counties themselves, and we shall be able to decentralise. I think we can trust the counties to do the best they can for the children, because every public man must know that we are educating people at present who may have it in their hands in the future either to mould the destinies of this country into a high plane or into a low plane; and it is a great responsibility which is placed upon the hands of anyone who has to do with education.
§ 2.0 P.M.
§ Mr. F. W. VERNEY
I differ from the hon. Member completely in the ideal which presents itself to my mind as the right ideal for our system of education. It seems to me that, at all events, the moment you get away from the elementary to the higher system of education it is of the utmost possible importance that we should regard it as a great national service, to be provided for out of national funds which do not in the least depend upon the consumption or the non-consumption of whisky, or any other spirituous liquor.
We all agree that it should be provided out of national funds and not out of the rates.
§ Mr. VERNEY
Then what the hon. Member seems to think is that it should be provided out of national funds, but left entirely to the local authorities to administer the national funds.
§ Mr. VERNEY
That is a system of want of economy which I do not think would commend itself to most of those who have studied the question of finance from the general point of view. What we have to remember is that since 1890, when Mr. Acland managed to get the money for the purpose which he had so near his heart, the whole system of education has very much changed and, we all hope, advanced. It was in those days considered, perhaps, as a local tax for local needs, because I do not think it was then understood, as it is now, that our system of education, to be efficient, must be national in its best sense. The schoolmaster was then too much under the thumb of the local authority and the local manager, and his profession was hardly considered or treated as a profession in the way I hope it is beginning now to be regarded. I listened with immense interest to the eloquent speech of the hon. Member (Mr. E. Jones), an eloquence which evidently was founded on long experience and which dealt with those matters of detail which very few people understand unless they have had personal experience of school life, and of the poorest school life, and I could not help contrasting his intimate knowledge with the academic knowledge of the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil), who seemed to be utterly unconscious of the fact that he was comparing unlike with unlike when he talked of the space for the poor children and the sanitary arrangements for the children of the rich. The child of the poor man, who has to go to the elementary school, has not anything like the sanitary home that the children of the wealthy have who go perhaps to Eton, Harrow, Winchester, or Rugby, and who, no doubt, are not provided for nearly so well in the actual school accommodation in many instances as now, thank goodness, are the poorer children. No one wishes to attack the old class rooms which you will find in the old school with which I was myself associated years ago, which are regarded with the greatest possible love and affection—Harrow. We would not take the fourth form room at Harrow as a model of equipment and sanitary arrangements and compare that with the last school board school, full of light and air, and so on, just as we would not take this chamber and compare it with what it would be if a modern architect had given us all the light and air we wished to have, and had not introduced the foul system of ventilation 2492 which we are satisfied with here, instead of having the windows open.
On these matters we are all advancing, and what was the sanitary maximum of forty or fifty years ago is not up to the sanitary minimum of to-day. In all these matters we want change and progress, and we cannot have that without expenditure, and large expenditure. I most heartily agree with the hon. Member (Mr. T. E. Harvey) when he distinguished between saving and economy. There is no such extravagance as saving, and no such economy as expenditure, and the worst of it is that people so often prefer latent extravagance to latent economy. They would sooner that a sovereign dropped out at the bottom than take a shilling out at she top. I say that expenditure on education, if it is not extravagant, is the best possible investment that we can make.
The complaint continually crops up that the kind of education we give is not the kind which is most economical, considering the life which is to follow the school life of the students; and I should like to put in a word for revising the curriculum of education in such a way that we may give to children the kind of education which will be of practical use during the years that follow school life. I remember reading several years ago a most eloquent and interesting lecture by Professor Max Muller on the absolute waste of time in learning to spell. He pointed out that our rules of spelling are absolutely arbitrary, that they are founded on no real scientific principle, that they appeal to the most degraded form of mere memory, and that they stand in the way of true education. Professor Max Muller was backed up in that opinion by Bishops Thorold and Davidson—two men who had the best right to give an opinion on language and spelling. Professor Max Muller contended that a great many months were absolutely wasted in learning our system of spelling, which might be put to far better use in the school system. That is merely one instance among many others. I venture to suggest that the Board of Education should see whether they cannot so alter the curriculum as not to give the public the impression that time is being wasted. It is of infinite importance that parents should feel when they send their children to school, and particularly the village school, that their children are receiving an education which will equip them for 2493 their work in after life. I am sure that many Members of this House who come in close contact with parents in country villages would say that is a common complaint, and that it is very well founded. When we make the country schools what they ought to be, places of preparation for the life of children who are to be engaged in agriculture, that is one of the chances we will give them for remaining on the land, and doing well in their class of industry, precisely in the same way as we are giving to artisans in towns the chance of rising in their trades by providing polytechnics and institutes for the continuation of exactly the kind of education they want in afterlife. I do most earnestly appeal to the Board of Education on this matter. We who represent agricultural constituencies particularly have this great problem to solve: Are you, or are you not, going to give children in the country the opportunities and the advantages which you are now giving to children of artisans in the towns? If you can only make the ladder of education as complete for them as it has already been made in many provincial towns as well as London, if you can train them up so that they may feel that they are gaining knowledge and that they are making use of the experience which their fathers have bad before them; if you can also implant in them a greater desire for higher scientific training when they are capable of it, and if you can give to country children scholarships in connection with rural occupations, as you do in the towns for commercial and industrial training, and carry on that system, then I think we shall have gone some way, at all events, in the direction of solving the great problem of unemployment which affects so much the country districts throughout England.
May I say a word with regard to large and small classes? Several years ago I had the opportunity of a long conversation with a man who was the best known in this country of all the coaches we have ever had. I mean the late Mr. W. B. Scoones. He told me that if we reduced the size of our public schools' forms and classes and the numbers which masters are really able individually to teach, we would absolutely abolish the necessity for coaches to follow up the public schools. He said:—When we get a bay from a public school we very often put him alone for the first few weeks. We rarely put him in a class of more than three or four, and the success we have pained in making scholars fit for examinations, whether for the Army or the Civil Service, or anywhere else, is almost entirely due to the fact that they have had the opportunity of the individual training 2494 which is so necessary and which is hardly ever given in the great public schools.I believe, myself, that no two children can be taught precisely in the same way. When you put children in classes of sixty, seventy, eighty, or more, as was vividly described by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. E. Jones) you ruin their educational chances to a very great extent. The hon. Member very well said that you are simply wasting enormous sums of public money in that way on results which would be dear if you paid one-tenth of the price for them. Those who remember the speeches made by Mr. Mundella in this House, and out of it, know well how eloquent he was on the necessity of avoiding the waste of public money which occurs when we refuse to give facilities for continuing the education which is merely started in the elementary schools. We require a most careful system of continuation classes in order to prevent the waste of public funds.
In regard to the concluding remarks of the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) upon the religious question, I earnestly hope with him that common ground may be found. I cannot say that I agree with him that as time goes on we are less likely to find common ground for religious teaching. On the contrary, I believe we are more and more likely to understand that there is a vast amount of difference between the uncertainty of dogma and the comparative certainty of religious belief. I am afraid that we should not agree on that proposition, but I still think that as time goes on we shall find some common ground for what everybody acknowledges to be right and necessary for a child to learn, namely, the moral side of religion, and I do not think that that will be done by emphasising too strongly the dogmatic differences which unfortunately divide us.
§ Mr. BOLAND
I have had occasion more than once to bring to the notice of this House the Secondary School Regulations introduced three or four years ago, which are subject to annual revision by the President of the Board of Education. It is because I notice, looking at last year's Regulations, that they were agreed to or issued by the Department on 26th May, that I desire to take this opportunity of putting one or two considerations before the Government, so that they may see their way to modify in some degree at least some of the Secondary School Regulations. I am quite prepared to admit that 2495 out of the total of forty-nine of our Catholic secondary schools in this country a considerable number, something like forty-two, have accepted the Regulations of the Government, subject to the waivers which have been given. I do not wish to go again into the main controversy about these Regulations further than to say that I do not believe that my co-religionists in this country will ever agree in principle that these Regulations in their bald nature are satisfactory, and the fact that they have been willing to accept them subject to the waivers that have been granted is the utmost to which they will be prepared to go. But what I particularly wish to put before the Parliamentary Secretary of the Board of Education to-day is that last year for the first time these Regulations provide that in future no waiver should be granted in the case of a secondary school, and I have therefore reason to doubt whether, in the case of a new secondary school being established, that school would be entitled to receive even the minimum Grant which is given by these Regulations.
It is of course understood by the House that there are four Regulations which can be waived by the Board of Education, namely, Articles 5, 18, 23, and 24; and in the majority of these cases of the Catholic schools, for which I am speaking on this occasion, Articles 23 and 24 have been waived, practically without any difficulty, and the schools are going on satisfactory. But my contention is this, owing to the provision put in last year that on no future occasion could waivers be exercised by the Board of Education, as far as I can see it is impossible in the future for a new Catholic secondary school to be established in this country which is to be able to earn not merely the higher Grant that is being earned at present, but even to obtain the lower Grant, without which, of course, they could not exist. And I venture to put before the Parliamentary Secretary this consideration. If it has been found possible by a Catholic school to accept these Government Regulations in consequence of the waiving of these two clauses to which I have referred, surely means could be found by which, if new Catholic secondary schools are established in the future, as undoubtedly they will be in this country, those new Regulations will at least be of the same degree of equality of treatment as in the case of the existing schools which are now in receipt of public money.
2496 If the Board of Education is not able to see its way to modify these Regulations as they are, I do at least submit to it that the representations which have been made to the Department in the course of the last two or three years, and which have been made with redoubled force during the course of last year, should at least enable the Board of Education to devise some means by which Catholic secondary schools in the future can be established upon the same basis as those Catholic schools which are now drawing Grants from the Treasury. If the Board is able to do that I think it will meet a very substantial grievance which our Catholic people in this country have. After all, the mere fact that forty-two of our secondary schools are now in existence and drawing money from the Treasury, and are giving good educational value for that money, surely is an argument that when the population grows, and when a new Catholic school is necessary in any district, the new Catholic schools should be at least put under the same conditions as the existing secondary schools are to-day. I wish to put it very strongly before the Board of Education that before the new Secondary School Regulations of this year are issued, which I presume will be in the course of another month or six weeks, the Government will take our claim into consideration.
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
There are one or two observations I should like to make in this discussion. First of all, I wish to express the pleasure I feel that the question of education should for the second time this week receive such sympathetic consideration at the hands of all parties in the House, and if the expressions of opinion given here to-day help towards a satisfactory and final solution of this controversy being obtained, I think that these two discussions will have served their purpose. Personally I must confess I am not quite so hopeful as some hon. Members respecting a satisfactory solution of what is called the religious difficulty. I am fearful of the other fact that the respective points of view as represented in this House are well-nigh irreconcilable. When the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) expressed the opinion that more and more people are coming to the view that a national system of education is impossible, I think he emphasised his recognition of the extreme and perhaps almost impossible difficulties of finding any solution to this question. It has been stated, of course, 2497 that this religious controversy is the great stumbling-block in the way of the educational problem, and if it should happen that, with a little more tolerance on all hands, a solution could be obtained, surely we should all be pleased, although personally I am not particularly hopeful that that immediately is practicable. The Noble Lord in his observations made some reference to the desirability of economy. Theoretically we are all in favour of economy being practised in all forms of national service. Nevertheless I join with those who have interpreted economy as being the wisest and most effective form of expenditure that can be devised.
We are constantly speaking of national wealth. Let us view national wealth from that standpoint. When you have the spectacle in our midst of some people being able to spend, say, £1,000 on training a dog for the Waterloo Cup, or thousands of pounds on training a horse for a race, in my opinion the nation is losing sight of the principle of true economy being the wisest expenditure, and I claim that the nation would be better served if that money which, in my opinion, is thus squandered, was directed towards providing every child in the nation with the fullest possible form of education that it could assimilate. I think we would have to recognise that the demand which has been made upon the Central Exchequer for larger Grants is an irresistible one. It is undeniable that Parliament, in its wisdom, has imposed, and is imposing, further obligations upon our local educational authorities. But we have moved in the direction of securing good value even for the money that Parliament is compelling local authorities to expend on these services. We have insisted that children attending our elementary schools shall be suitably and properly fed. Despite the great opposition that was invoked against that measure, there is pretty general agreement to-day that it was a wise enactment on the part of the State and that the money that is expended is calculated to return a good profit to the nation. In the Report presented by the Board of Education within the last few days, most encouraging references are made to the value of that measure. When we have been able to see, as I have during the course of my perambulations in different parts of the country, hundreds of little children being fed in clean, healthy, and elevating surroundings, I feel we are bound to admit that we are doing some- 2498 thing tangible to elevate and ennoble our public character. We have also enacted that medical inspection shall be a part of our school system. It seems to me that the State will very soon have to recognise that the inevitable corollary of medical inspection is also medical treatment. I listened with extreme interest to the observations of the hon. Member for Merthyr, and to his illustration of the children hard of hearing, or of inefficient sight, and the disabilities under which those so afflicted suffer in large classes. I am able to confirm his statements from personal experience. Unfortunately, the conditions and the position in which I was brought up did not enable my parents to place me in a high-class school. I had to attend a non-provided school, and when I had reached the age of eleven the schoolmaster informed me that it was impossible, owing to lack of facilities in that school, to advance me any further. Therefore I was immediately appointed a monitor, and it then became my duty to take charge occasionally of very large classes. I am in a position to know, therefore, how utterly impossible it is, even with the necessary qualifications, to impart any knowledge to the large number of children congregated in those classes. In my case, having charge of eighty or ninety children, I found I was simply compelled to devote the whole of my time to maintaining order; and I suggest that education under those circumstances is little short of a farce in our life. True we have advanced to-day, but I believe that even under the present arrangements the best efforts of some of the most highly qualified teachers are wasted in an ineffectual endeavour to properly teach the children in our public schools. If we are to study and to make proper use of the principles of economy, then I say we must face the necessary expenditure involved in a considerable reduction of the size of our classes in order that the teacher may give greater individual attention to the various qualities of the children under his charge, and turn out the very best material possible, so proving that he has been able to make the very best use of the money that has been placed at his disposal.
The hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Warwickshire asked that the local authorities should be relieved from the close supervision now exercised by the central authority. He made this curious paradoxical demand that the State shall undertake the whole of the expenditure 2499 on forms of national education at the same time that they are to cease to exercise their present supervision over the expenditure of that money, and entrust it uncontrolled to the local authorities to administer those funds. I submit that would make for wasteful expenditure. I recognise the desirability of elasticity in some form, but I submit that it is for Parliament and for the Board of Education, under its instruction and guidance, to set the standard that must almost generally prevail throughout the whole of our national system of education, at the same time, perhaps, allowing some little elasticity in the curriculum to provide for the peculiar characteristics of a district. Personally I do not see the need for greater elasticity in so far as the curriculum in our elementary schools is concerned. I can conceive the need in the secondary or technical school, where it might be desirable to allow some administrative elasticity in order that the peculiar trades or industries of a district may secure greater attention in those training and technical institutions. But I would strongly suggest that nothing should be done to allow local authorities, with a false conception of economy, or a mere desire to reduce the rates, to depreciate the standard, which is slowly, painfully, and with great difficulty being enhanced through Parliamentary pressure, inspired, of course, by educational reformers in all parts of the country. The other night we had an extremely interesting Debate, which travelled over this subject also, and in which it was generally recognised, I believe, that one of the most desirable of educational reforms is the raising of the school age. We have, for various reasons, always recognised this as an essential feature of educational progress, and we are well convinced that, unless we move in that direction, we will not make the best use of the facilities that the State is presently able to provide. I view with some apprehension the suggestion made by, I believe among others, the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench, that an exception should be made in agricultural districts. I feel, having regard to the low school age which now prevails, that exceptions from that standard should be viewed with great apprehension, and should not be lightly regarded or put forward by responsible persons in this House. If it be true, as I have submitted, that the school years are far too restricted at the present time, then I say, on the other 2500 hand, that we are bound to oppose any exceptions made even in the interests of agriculturists or others.
After all, what is claimed is that it is necessary for the children to come into contact with agricultural pursuits very early in life. That is the same argument as we have heard in connection with other industries against an advance of the school age. It is the same argument as was used in the textile industry, where it was thought necessary at one time to send children early into the factory in order that they might acquire the necessary dexterity. But in the conduct of that industry both workers and manufacturers to-day understand that it is not necessary at all, and that, in fact, the mill operative is much better if he has been allowed to remain at school for a reasonable number of years, and that there should also be an extension of the school age in order that children may avail themselves of some form of technical training. I submit that the agricultural labourer's child is just as capable of assimilating education as children in other classes, and can claim just as much right for a share of educational facilities as if it had been born in one of our urban areas. I do not subscribe in the smallest degree to the conceptions of economy that have been put forward by some speakers. In respect of national wealth I prefer that the House should look at it from the national standpoint. I submit that the greatest of all economies will be in investing the children not of one class, but of the nation as a whole, with the highest form of educational facility that can be set up. When we have set up that standard, recognising it to be the inalienable right of every child in the community, irrespective of their property, or otherwise of its parents, to avail themselves of the full form of education, and though some think that equality that we are asking for will tend to equalisation of the conditions of the State, I say, on the other hand, I believe that equality of education will create such a glorious quality of genius and talent in our country as will startle even thinkers and dreamers of the present day.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
I should like to go back to the point from which this Debate started, and that was the universal application, not merely to schools but to all classes now in existence, of the ten-foot rule. Great results have been prophesied from different sides of the House as to 2501 the result of this extension of the space allotted to the children. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Edgar Jones) in a very interesting speech, dwelt upon the difficulties which he had experienced within his own experiences in the case of children who are short-sighted, and who, owing to the size of the class, were not discovered to be short-sighted by the teacher, and who got into constant trouble. I am fully alive to the disadvantage to the children of infirmities of that sort, but I fail to see that the ten-foot rule meets that, nor would it diminish the number of children in one class. The ten-foot rule would simply make the classroom larger. It would not make the class smaller. I hope that that difficulty will be cured by medical inspection, and that the child, when it enters the school, will be noted as a child whose vision or hearing is defective, and that the attention of the teacher will be directed to this, and that so far as is possible those defects will be remedied. The teacher will take care that the child suffers no disadvantage owing to defective sight or hearing. That will not be effected by the ten-foot rule, but by the introduction of medical inspection.
§ Mr. E. JONES
The ten-foot rule applies to the whole school, and by so applying it you will make it possible to have separate classes.
§ Sir W. ANSON
I fail to see how it multiples particular class-rooms, although I quite understand it increases each individual class-room. What is really, I think, the serious feature in the Report of the Board of Education, and in their action at the present time, is that they are making a general effort to extend the buildings and to increase the expenditure on building on all schools in the Kingdom. There is a very long and interesting introduction to the Report of the Board of Education on this very point. The Board state that they hope to standardise their requirements in respect of building. If there has been one thing which more than another, I think, has been the curse of our educational system, it has been that the uniformity of requirements in curriculum, buildings, appliances, etc., prevents elasticity, which bears very hardly on some authorities and in some localities, and lets off others easily. The essence, it seems to me, of educational reform must lie in elasticity, in adapting, not merely the building, but the whole of our educational appliances to the particular needs of particular 2502 localities. If the Board of Education is going to make requirements uniform all over the Kingdom, and that is what I understand by standardising, then I think it is taking a backward step, and not a forward step. I notice many other things in this Report on the interesting nature of which I venture to congratulate the President of the Board of Education. The Board dwell upon the tendency to apathy on the part of local authorities in this particular matter of building, and that the local authorities are not as ready to build or enlarge schools as they were in the first years of enthusiasm after 1902, while on the other hand the voluntary schools showed an admitted improvement on the part of the managers and those interested in voluntary schools in their readiness to build schools or to improve existing ones. The Board point out that there has been delay in this matter with regard to voluntary schools owing to the uncertainties of legislation. I am not at all surprised. During the whole continuance of the last Parliament the voluntary schools lived under constant dread of one form of modified or complete confiscation or another. It was quite impossible in the last Parliament for the voluntary schools to get any approach to fair treatment, although, I admit, the right hon. Gentleman, in the last Education Bill, approached nearer to that point than any of his predecessors. I concur in what I understand fell from my Noble Friend and colleague in the University of Oxford (Lord Hugh Cecil) in the hope that in this Parliament, at any rate, there is a better chance of a kindlier feeling towards all classes of religious beliefs in every variety of school. I am quite satisfied that until we can rid ourselves of that sense of religion in politics so as to realise that one sort of religious teaching is as essential to those who desire it as is another sort to those who profess it that we shall never solve our educational difficulty.
There was another difficulty which stood in the way of the voluntary schools. A voluntary school might satisfy every requirement of the local authority and Board of Education, and if the local authority was unwilling to treat it on a level with its own school, too often the Board of Education did not interfere. I hope that that is over. I read in to-day's newspapers the judgment in the Swansea case, which contained a more scathing and more unqualified condemnation of the 2503 action of the Board of Education in that matter than I should think any Government Department has sustained in our departmental history. I hope that that lesson may be taken into account, and that the voluntary schools will be treated, where the Board of Education has to exercise administrative and judicial power, with administrative fairness and with judicial impartiality.
As regards this extension of building requirements, there are some results which I think the Board cannot afford to ignore. According to the "Tablet"—a paper which I take to be well informed on the subject—in Liverpool in Roman Catholic schools alone the closing of schools will amount to the loss of no less than 5,000 school places. How is that to be met? These requirements will so diminish the accommodation in the schools that there will be 5,000 children turned loose for whom school places will have to be supplied. It may be acceptable to the Board of Education to think that the denomination will be unequal to the demand, and that the children will be driven to the council schools; but, even then, council schools will have to be supplied. Somebody must supply these 5,000 places. It will be a great hardship on the denomination which has satisfied the requirements of the Board of Education in the past, if it is now told that the accommodation is insufficient, and that these children are to be turned on to the streets until the denomination can build new schools. If the denomination is not able to provide these places, it will then be extremely hard on the local authorities. The constantly increasing burdens thrown on local authorities have an immense effect on the educational system of the country.
I turn now to the White Paper dealing with Lancashire. The Paper deals with over 100 schools, some of which are to be entirely closed, and to every one of which the serious and early attention of the local authority and the managers is demanded. In one Schedule the particular deficiencies are mentioned. I venture to think that they are deficiencies which might, at any rate for the time being, be remedied without calling upon the local authority or the denomination to provide a new school. The list does not include only council schools; there are some Wesleyan, some Church of England, and some Roman Catholic. The deficiencies include "unsatisfactory accommodation," "incon- 2504 venient buildings," "insufficient ventilation." An inconvenient building is no doubt an inconvenience, but there are many inconveniences in this life with which we have to put up because we cannot afford to remedy them. Ventilation, I admit, is a serious matter; but surely the resources of civilisation are not exhausted with the existing system of ventilation. It is very easy to ventilate a building without pulling it down. We have all had experience of rooms in which the ventilation has been remedied by a comparatively simple and inexpensive process. "Heating insufficient." If the heating is insufficient you can increase the heating apparatus. "Buildings generally unsatisfactory." That seems very vague. "Inconvenient gallery." If the gallery is inconvenient it might be altered. "Floor needs renewal." You can renew a floor without pulling down the school. Many of these deficiencies are remediable, and many of these inconveniences are inconveniences which must be borne. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie) spoke of the children of the working classes. I am certain that the class-rooms in which I myself was taught when a boy would not have been passed by any Government inspector.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
No; but a boy of thirteen or fourteen needs some attention in the matter.of ventilation, heating, and the rest of it. My contention is that local authorities are being asked to incur vast and immediate expenditure on matters which no doubt could be remedied, many of which are remediable, some of which can wait for a remedy until more money is forthcoming. There are some defects in school buildings which will not wait. If a building is insanitary, if the water supply is bad, if the access to the school is dangerous, the matter must be attended to at once. We have all seen school buildings in which, if there was a panic or a fire there would be risk to I fe and limb. There is also the question of light. If the children cannot see to read without danger to their eyesight, the matter should be remedied at once. But what I wish to point out is that these inconveniences, these things which are unsatisfactory, these matters which are remediable do not justify the Board in putting into effect the new policy, or in making what is called a sustained and resolute effort to 2505 compel denominations or local authorities to pull down and rebuild a vast number of schools all over the country. That is a waste of money. It is even worse. An hon. Member opposite referred to the fact that we had already had two Education Debates, and he seemed to think that there was a growing enthusiasm for education, not only in the House but in the country. I think he is wrong. We here are very much interested in the matter. Many of us would make great sacrifices and expend time, money, and trouble to advance"the education of the children. But my experience is that that enthusiasm for education is not very widespread. The great difficulty which I have always experienced in dealing with the matter has been to make people care about it. You have already, by these constant demands, to some extent checked the enthusiasm of local authorities, which certainly was considerable after the Act of 1902 came into force, and the Board now complains that an apathy is coming over them. I venture to warn the Board of Education that by pressing these heavy demands at the same moment or hurriedly upon the local authorities, in addition to the other burdens thrown upon them—the increase of teachers' salaries, the cost of medical inspection, the provision of further appliances for greater variety of teaching —by piling up these things one after another on the back of the local authorities it will not merely bear very hardly on the ratepayer, but it will bring about a reaction of disgust and a disinclination to provide for the further needs of our educational system, which I for one should be the first to regret.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
In the right hon. Gentleman's speech I think there are two points which particularly call for reply. The right hon. Gentleman made a strong point of the comparative inefficiency of the schools for the well-to-do when he was at Eton, and the care that is taken to see that the children of the working classes have better conditions at the present day. The same point, indeed, was made by the Noble Lord the Member for the Oxford University. I demur entirely from the view that the children of the well-to-do, in their public schools, have inferior accommodation, at any rate now, to that provided for the working classes. I do not know what was the case at Eton, but certainly the public school at which I had the honour to be educated—Clifton College—was 2506 vastly superior in its accommodation to anything I have ever found in the elementary board schools. Even if that were not the case, and the education of the well-to-do at our public schools was carried on in insanitary and overcrowded surroundings, I still maintain that it would not be fair to argue from these conditions the conditions which we ought to apply to the children of the working classes. For this reason: the children of the well-to-do are not compelled to go to any school. The parents go to these schools and see them before they send their children there. They can decide whether or not they want to send them to the Eton dormitories, where the boys sleep in the same room as they study. They select from among fifteen or twenty public schools that to which they will send their children. But directly you take up a different line of argument, and say that children must go to this particular school directly you compel children to be educated in a certain school, then an entirely different set of arguments must supervene, and you must consider your duty to the children, because you are compelling them to go to school. I do not think there is any comparison between the conditions that prevail in certain schools and the conditions that prevail in compulsory schools in the State system of education.
§ Sir W. ANSON
I never suggested that the public elementary schools should be on a lower level. What I desired to point out was that in connection with these conveniences that we must bear in mind the cost.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
That is a different point. What I want to deprecate is any comparison drawn from the voluntary schools, to which we can send our children, and the compulsory schools, to which we must send them. There is the further point requiring reply. All these Regulations of the Board of Education, this ten-feet cubic space and other Regulations, are not new. They have been before the country for many years. The local authorities have been requested for many years to live up to these conditions. They are not new, and all that is being done now is to gradually compel the local authorities who have not adopted these Regulations to live up to the standard of the best schools in the country and to live up to the standard which has been laid down, not by this Government alone, but by previous Governments. I must say that I think the Board of Education are rather slow in 2507 compelling authorities to comply with their requirements, and that they are rather to be chid for being too slow than for being too fast and dogmatic.
Then I wish to raise two or three other points of educational policy. First, there is the question of the whisky money and secondary education. I must say I am extremely obliged to both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and to the President of Education for their prompt attention to the urgent cry of the county councils throughout the country to replace the deficiency in the whisky money. Speaking as a county councillor for Staffordshire, I know that the shortage in the money this year would have meant an additional halfpenny rate over the whole county. It is one of the most satisfactory of things to find that one's representations to the Board of Education are met so promptly and so satisfactorily as they have been on this occasion by the President of the Board of Education. To take the money from the Land Taxes and apply it to making good this deficiency in the whisky money seems to be not only satisfactory from the point of view of the councils and the ratepayers generally, but also satisfactory from the point of view of pure economics. It has always been rather open to the sticklers for economic exactitude to say the local rates were being reduced at the expense of the Imperial Exchequer. The only sound way has long been recognised to be by imposing some taxation on land values, and so allowing a reduction in the local rates. If the House will permit me for a moment, I would like to quote the conclusion of the Minority Report on Local Taxation as to this very question. The Minority Report was signed by Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Sir George Murray, the permanent Secretary of the Treasury, Sir Edward Hamilton, the late permanent Secretary to the Treasury, and other distinguished persons. This is what they say:—But there is a special circumstance, it appears to us. to make the present moment—That was in 1900—especially fitted for the imposition of a proposed rate on land values, and which now makes the imposition of such a rate indispensable to avoid injustice. Under the proposals which we have severally made, the burden upon the ratepayers in connection with the increase of expenditure on national services will be permanently lightened—The suggestions that were made for the relief of certain services was to take them 2508 off the rates, and impose them upon the Imperial Exchequer.Now we admit, and indeed contend, that a large part of the present rates fall on the owners of Kite values, but the more the burden of rates actually falls upon them now the greater will he the ultimate relief which will accrue to them from the increase in State aid. Accordingly, unless the owners of urban ground values are to be relieved at the expense of the taxpayer, a course which probably no one would advocate, it seems most necessary to accompany the increase of subventions by the imposition of a site value rateThat is exactly what the Government is doing. I can only trust that in future years, when they come to make permanent arrangements, they will so readjust the burdens of Imperial and local taxation on these lines as to relieve the local ratepayers; that they will, as a substitute for the present method, adopt what, in the words of that Commission, is the only just and fair substitute—a rate or tax upon land values. Of course, I entirely agree with what the hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Gibson Bowles) said as to the misfortune of having taxes of any sort allocated to particular forms of expenditure. We must have a common purse, and we must provide out of that common purse the funds for the needs of the community. Any system of allocation means an uncertain supply of money for important and necessary purposes. It means unnecessary and complicated bookkeeping, and it complicates the whole subject of finance. We would want to substitute for the present system some sound system for relieving the ratepayers from a burden which is the proper work of the Government.
I want to say a word or two on the question of more assistance from the State for the education of blind and deaf children. Some fifteen years ago, a Royal Commission reported in favour of assistance from national funds in the education of the blind and the deaf. They recommended that £10 per child should be paid to the assistance of the local authorities who were educating blind and deaf children. Under the Act of 1871 no provision was made for the education of blind and deaf children, and no compulsion was placed upon them to attend school. That was rectified in 1890, and as a consequence, blind and deaf children have to be educated by the ratepayers. The Government Grant towards that end at present is really ridiculously insufficient. The Royal Commission recommended £10 per child; the Government Grant is only £5, so that that Grant, compared with the Grant of £3 towards the education of healthy, able-bodied children is entirely inadequate. The cost of educating these blind and deaf 2509 children is something about £40 per year per child. Of that, £5 is found by the State. Considering that very nearly two-thirds is found by the State in the case of ordinary able-bodied children, only 13 per cent, is contributed by the State towards the education of those children. In the case of children in reformatory or industrial schools, nearly 70 per cent, of the cost is found by the State. I say that £5, or 13 per cent., provided by the State of the whole amount of the cost of the education of blind children is wholly inadequate. In recent years the Board of Education very rightly have made more and more stringent the rules for the education of these blind and deaf children. They have reduced the classes. Only ten children now may be educated by any one teacher in any one class. Anyone who understands this subject knows that ten children are more than can be properly educated by one teacher. They have raised the education in the school, and the conditions of teaching. In many cases, in counties such as my own, they have started a sort of residential school, where blind and deaf children are educated not only in school hours, but throughout the year. The children remain there, and are looked after in school hours and out of school hours. This extra expenditure in many cases is due to the action of the Board of Education, still all that the local authorities receive is £5 per year per child. There are 5,000 blind and deaf children being educated, and if the increased Grant from £5 to £10 were made it would only amount to £25,000 a year.
Minister after Minister at the Board of Education—the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the present First Lord of the Admiralty, and the right hon. Gentleman who now occupies the position—have agreed that the case for the extra subvention is unanswerable. The position taken up by the authorities who want this increased Grant has been admitted to be absolutely unanswerable. I do urge upon His Majesty's Government that while they are finding these sums to replace the whisky money and others less questionable to find this £25,000 a year also, which will be used to put the education of the deaf and blind children of this country upon a sound and satisfactory footing. After all, this is a business proposition. Every hon. Member will agree that the education of blind and deaf children is a matter which should appeal, not only to our sympathy, to which it appeals 2510 strongly enough, but also to our pockets, because the blind and the deaf child that grows up unable to make any use of any of its faculties is a deadweight upon the community, and is a perpetual charge upon the community for the rest of its life, whereas those children that have been properly educated—such, for instance, as in the schools of the Potteries— go out afterwards as painters in the Potteries, and take up even more responsible positions, and are no burden to the community. Many of them are not only able to support themselves, but often a widowed mother as well. Where you turned out a man or woman like that you turn out one who is an addition to the community instead of being a drag upon it. I have some hopes of securing this additional Grant to the blind and the deaf, and I hope that the President to the Board of Education when he comes to reply will give us some favourable answer.
I am not so hopeful as to my next demand, but I think it is a question which should be ventilated and seriously considered. We have had in operation now for three years the medical inspection of children in this country. Children have been medically inspected, and the doctors have found out what diseases exist, but they have no means whatever of dealing with these diseases or remedying them. I have seen recently in an East End school in London, attached to one of the schools, what is known as a medical clinic. It is run at a cost of £100 a year. The doctor comes there a few times a week, and the children who are suffering from diseases of the eyes, ear, or heart, or whatever else it may be, come before the doctor, and are not only examined, but are treated. At present the system of medical inspection generally is simply futile. The diseases are reported, but the hospitals simply refuse to treat these children. The work is simply enormous, and to go to the expense of medically inspecting children, and at the same time to take no steps to see that that results in any improvement of the children's condition, is a waste of public money and a system that cannot be endured for very long. I hope that hon. Members interested in this matter will consult with the medical officer of health in their counties and their towns, and find out what the opinion of those authorities is as to the necessity of some form of treatment in addition to that medical inspection. As public opinion solidifies we shall be able, 2511 maybe in the next Parliament, to raise this question, with a strong democratic mandate behind us, and get someone to carry on medical inspection to a satisfactory conclusion.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Runciman)
The subjects which have been raised this afternoon traverse a considerable area. My hon. Friend has dealt with matters of money. May I add that I think our educational finance as a whole is not on a satisfactory footing, and if I remain President of the Board of Education it will certainly be one of my first duties to endeavour, with the assistance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to devise a better Grant system than we have at the present time. Our present system is complicated and unsatisfactory; it sometimes gives a smaller degree of assistance to poor localities than it does to rich localities; and it means very often that the energetic and progressive authorities receive less assistance from the State than the dilatory and less progressive authorities. One of the difficulties of the Board of Education centres round our secondary school system. By a mere fluke (it cannot be called anything but a fluke) a part of the whisky money is earmarked for the purpose of higher education. For many years this arrangement worked for the benefit of our secondary schools, but the fund has now proved to be inadequate to the calls made upon it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated this afternoon that he is prepared to put our higher education Grants on a more suitable basis, and I think that will be all to the good of higher education in this country. I think the local authorities ought to know how they stand. They must of necessity make their plans for years ahead, and unless they have a fixed and regular income upon which they can count, it will be impossible for them to make proper provision for secondary, technical, and trade schools and those institutes for instruction in the evenings which are likely to be used more largely than ever as time goes on. I cannot give any definite reply as regards deaf and dumb children, but I hope we may be able to give assistance which will satisfy them, at all events, up to the time when we reach that millenium when all our rates will be on a new basis entirely satisfactory to the hon. Member (Mr. Wedgwood).
I will say nothing upon medical inspection this afternoon, because that has been 2512 debated before, and other occasions may arise for dealing with the subject. I would like, however, to refer at some length to the two subjects which have lain at the basis of this discussion to-day. Just as the lack of money has embarrassed the local authorities in the provision of higher education, so we are now told that the lack of money is to justify some local authorities—and only some—to put up with a lower standard of school accommodation than is requisite for the children and teachers of our schools. I have been attacked outside, but not inside, this House with some acerbity because I thought it to be my duty to carry out a reform—not merely to adumbrate—but to carry out a reform—which for years has been an urgent necessity. I take, first of all, the subject of reassessment. The Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) referred to the subject, but he did not tell us how old the movement was. I think it was as long ago as 1888 that a Royal Commission was appointed which had upon it the head of the English Church, representatives of the Roman Catholic community, some Wesleyans, and other denominationalists, and a number of education experts, all of whom agreed that the eight square feet basis did not provide adequate accommodation. Consequently the movement in favour of increased accommodation has gone on for many years. Here was a Royal Commission, representing every creed, agreeing that eight square feet were inadequate. I would like to make a quotation from the Majority Report, which not only stated that they were agreed that a ten square feet basis was the proper standard in new schools, but said that all schools in the future should be on that basis. The Report says:—We are of opinion that existing schools should gradually, within reasonable limits of time, be brought up to the standard of space required for school accommodation.I admit there is a qualifying sentence "within reasonable limits of time," but I ask if eight square feet were inadequate in 1888 and they believed that ten square feet should be the standard then, surely twenty-two years may be regarded as a reasonable limit of time.
But the Minority Report went further. It set forth that not only should you have ten square feet, but that this basis should apply to infant schools as well as to the senior department. We do not ask for that. All we ask is that the ten square feet standard adopted by local authorities 2513 nearly all over the country should be adopted in Liverpool and Lancashire as well as elsewhere. The Board of Education, or rather the Committee of the Privy Council, in the Code of 1889, attempted to adopt the higher standard on the strength of the Report of the Commission, and they laid down that in every case the Department should endeavour to secure 100 cubic feet of internal space and ten square feet of internal air for each unit of average attendance. That was in 1889. Lord Cranbrook and Sir William Hart-Dyke, both of them good educationalists, were at the head of the Department, but so great was the pressure from those responsible for denominational schools—not from the school boards—that Lord Cranbrook and Sir William Hart-Dyke were compelled to withdraw their regulations. Since then we have travelled a considerable distance, and now every urban authority has been assessed on the ten square feet basis except three, and those will be so assessed shortly.
The complaints made now are on behalf of Liverpool. The educational problem in Liverpool is a difficult one. I quite agree with that contention. Liverpool has a very large and growing population, and the denominational spirit is developed there to a high degree. There are large numbers of Catholics in Liverpool who are poor, and they have to put their hands very deeply into their pockets for their own schools. They have done their work at considerable self-sacrifice, but when I read in some of the partisan prints that owing to the change which I have now proposed at Liverpool I have made it necessary for the Roman Catholic community to expend no less than £100,000 on new places, I open my eyes with wonder. I know what the accommodation in Liverpool is, and all these partisan prints do not know that. They may think that I am going to turn some 5,000 Catholic children out of doors, but nothing could be more absurd than that. I believe that the local education authority in Liverpool has now realised that this is a gross exaggeration, and I gather from one of their reports that as a result of the application of a recommendation which they have made in the matter of the provision of new schools and so forth now in course of construction, it would appear that the net deficiency in respect of school accommodation, following the reassessment on the ten square feet basis, is limited to 960 places. Now 960 is not a very large amount for such a large and populous area as Liverpool. [An 2514 HON. MEMBER: "For all denominations?"] Yes, that covers everything. Therefore the complaint in regard to the reassessment from Liverpool is really both belated and exceptional. The present position is that other authorities have adopted the standard, or, where they have not adopted it, they are taking the means to adopt it, and from Liverpool alone has this complaint reached the Board of Education. I know the Catholics in Liverpool will find that their present school accommodation will not provide for the whole of the Catholic children, but by a redistribution they can do much to relieve the pressure on their schools, and, indeed, they have anticipated that, under the Act of 1902, and with a growing population, they must of necessity provide increased accommodation in Liverpool. I think it was when the Act of 1902 was under discussion that the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) made a very important speech on what was then known as the Wear and Tear Amendment sent down from the other place. He stated then it was quite obvious that, accepting this Amendment, the denominational authorities must anticipate a large expenditure on their structures in the future. He was a good prophet. The denominations had to do it in every other part of the country. Speaking in my private capacity I can say that we Wesleyans are ashamed of the condition of many of our schools, and we have made up our minds that, if we are to maintain them as denominational schools, or if they are to be handed over to the local authorities in a proper condition, there must be some expenditure on their structure. I regret to find heresy preached by the hon. Baronet opposite who preceded me at the Board of Education (Sir. W. Anson). He says, "Why should you reassess these schools? Is there any educational necessity for it?" I can only tell him that the information I get from inspectors all over the country shows quite clearly that there is the necessity, and I think I might say there are good sanitary reasons for it as well.
Let me remind him of two or three points which certainly will bring home to his memory the condition of our elementary schools as he himself used to know them. There are some conditions which all elementary schools should provide. There ought to be blackboard room for the teacher to move in front of the children, but in some of the schools in the Northwest of England, I find that if the teacher has to move about in front of the black- 2515 board he has to move it. It is impossible for it to stand and for him to have sufficient room to move about between it and the children. Then every child must be accessible to the teacher without displacing other children. Those two conditions mean that there must be more elbow-room in the school. All children must hear the teacher without the teacher having to shout. Anyone who knows the work of conducting an elementary school class will know the strain there is on the voice of the elementary school teacher. Further, the teacher must hear what the children say in reply, not collectively, but individually, and the children must also hear each other's answers. That means the desks must not be too deep or too long. Again, no child must be roasted or frozen, or sit in a gale of wind. That means that they must have some chance of getting away from the open or the blazing fire, as the case may be. Every child must be able to see what it does and what the teacher is doing. Those conditions cannot be fulfilled if you keep up the crowded condition of some of the schools on our "black list." These are good educational reasons of which I am sure the hon. Baronet must approve, and which in these schools can only be obtained provided the assessment is put on a more generous basis. What actually happens? I take a sample of some of these cases in the Liverpool area:—In the main room there are five groups of desks each six deep. In many canes eight children are seated in one of these desks which should accommodate six. In this manner some 218 children are crowded in a room twenty-four feet by sixty feet. It is obvious that the teachers cannot do their work under such conditions.I take another school:—The premises are unsavoury. The offices are on the first floor along with the class-rooms. Last Monday one class-room had to be closed during the exhumation of a dead rat from under the floor. Its presence had first made itself felt in the preceding Monday, but the diagnosis was not complete until the Friday, probably owing to the number of competing odours. As there is no playing ground, physical exercises take place in the school-room. About half the children stand on the forms, and about twenty in what purports to be the free space.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Every one of these schools is in the Schedule to which the hon. Baronet referred; not in the Lancashire Schedule, but in the Liverpool area.With care, the children can turn to the right or the left. When they bend forward they bump their heads against each other's backs.With that information placed before me by my official representatives in the 2516 country, how could I refrain from saying these schools ought to be placed on a more generous basis? I was surprised to hear the hon. Baronet, I scarcely like to say sneer, but deprecate our efforts to obtain better conditions in some of these voluntary schools, and that on financial grounds. I now come to the Lancashire schools. I am not avoiding instances in that particular area. I observe the hon. Baronet only referred to Schedule 3. Let me take a case from Schedule 1, because there I have condemned the schools altogether. After I have read the account of one school, a sample, I will ask him to say whether he is prepared to say those schools ought to be occupied by school children.The school consists of one large main room and two small class-rooms, the latter approached by a narrow wooden staircase, noisy and congested at all times— a veritable death-trap in case of fire.Then the Report goes on:—The floor is hollow and the ceiling lofty. Four large skylights give what light there is, supplemented on dark days by gas jets. Dark days in Lancashire are not infrequent, and as of ventilation there is practically none, the atmosphere, close and unhealthy on most days, becomes on the slightest provocation almost unbearable. Four classes and sometimes five are taught in this undivided room, and the competing effort of teachers and scholars echoing and re-echoing from the hollow floor to the lofty ceiling cause a confused din from which the shrill cry of a teacher or the combined shout of a class occasionally emerges. The dim light, the close air, the babel of voices not only place an intolerable physical and nervous strain upon both teachers and pupils, but they preclude intelligent mental effort.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The hon. Gentleman must know perfectly well there is no comparison between a school of this kind and any public building in the world. I commend to him the necessity that he should treat the subject of the sanitary condition of schools seriously.In this and many other schools there is no playground; girls, boys, and infants play in the streets. To reach their exit, the girls must pass through the infants' class-room. To reach the offices they hare to go across the main room and wait in tine for their turn. The cloak-room is small, and the clothes are piled one on the top of another, with results in wet weather or in time of epidemic which may easily he imagined.When I got that I said to the inspector, "Surely you are putting this rather highly." He said, "I am not exaggerating the condition of that school, and there are worse schools. A third of the schools are like this," and he gave roe a sample. I have examined the report since, and I find that his statement is verified. In face of this I cannot understand why the hon. Baronet should wish to deprecate the action we have taken.
§ Sir W. ANSON
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I call attention to the fact I was dealing with Schedules 3, 4, and 5 in the Lancashire White Paper. I have not a word to say as to the schools he describes.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Well, I have here a sample of a school in Schedule 3. It is a two-storey building. The older children are taught in an upper floor, the younger children in the lower. We are told that ''should a fire break out it is doubtful whether a single child would escape. Their studies are pursued in a large room in which three and sometimes four classes are gathered. There are also two small classrooms. The ventilation is bad. The floor is noisy and unfirm. Semi-opaque windows do their best to cut up the not excessive brilliance of a Lancashire day. The infants carry on a still more obscure existence in the ground floor…These little children are being admirably trained to accept their lot in life with a patience almost Oriental. There is no playground, but a very small yard gives a crowded and very precarious approach to the offices which are within a yard of the school windows." Schedule 3 contains a class of school not that we want to destroy, but which we think might, and believe ought to, be put in proper order. And it was with the object of having them put in such proper order that the Schedule was issued for the information of the local education authorities in Lancashire.
§ Sir W. ANSON
May I call attention to the words of the White Paper? Schedule 3 contains eighteen cases in regard to which it is suggested that any considerable expenditure on the premises would be thrown away. Surely that points to the demolition of the schools.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
That is in the circular, but we have carefully kept these schools out of the Schedule of schools which we have condemned on the ground that the necessary improvements were absolutely impossible. We contemplate that, if the local education committee or managers concerned are prepared to spend the requisite money on these schools, they may be able, though only at the cost of practical reconstruction, to put them in working order. I could mention one school after another, and I would like to point out that since the issue of the circular we have received no protests or suggestion that the improvement is not required. On the contrary, we have 2518 received numerous proposals for improvements.
It may be asked why should we try to live up to this ideal standard. My reply is it is now many years since that standard was set up. Not only under the previous Administration, but for twenty years efforts have been made to improve the condition of these schools. Time after time those who have been in authority have put forward excuses for delay, and the result has been that cases have dragged on for eight or nine years. I will take some of the schools which appear in the Schedule. I find that in the case of the Denton (Hyde Road) Council School, attention was called to the position of this school in 1904. Nothing has yet been done. Then there is the Eccleston (Prescot), Christchurch, Church of England School, attention to which was drawn in 1907. Nothing has been done there since so far as we can gather. Then there is the Failsworth Cldham Road Council School; it was practically condemned in September, 1904; apparently nothing has been done since. And so one might run down the list and find that periods of four, six and eight years have elapsed and nothing has been done. It is no excuse to plead the uncertainties of the political situation as regards the Education Bill; that is no justification for allowing the schools to remain in their present condition. So far as the children and teachers are concerned, it is no reason why they should not be allowed to lead healthy lives. I recently had the pleasure of looking into a book, "H.M.I.—Passages in the Life of an Inspector of Schools," written by one of His Majesty's late inspectors, who is the chairman of the Chester Education Committee. If hon. Members care to look up the chapter which deals with the position of schools in Lancashire they will find that much of the difficulty of the work of the Department was due to the amount of pressure brought to bear on Ministers themselves. That does not come only from one direction. The author of this book at one time was working under a board who knew something of the work. He says:—But the managers were very powerful, and the school farmers (lineal descendants of the Syrianpublicani) commanded many votes. Lancashire and Cheshire M.P.'s wrote private letters to the vice-president denouncing the misplaced zeal of the inspector; or they called at the office and talked to the secretary. All the powers of obstruction were used. The Roman Catholics kept an archbishop, a duke, and an earl in readiness—' With belted sword and spur on heel, They quitted not their harness bright, Neither by day nor yet by night.' 2519 And the Wesleyans hart their doughty champion at the Westminster Training College, who—'Carv'd at the mealWith gloves of steel,And he drank the red wine thro'The helmet barred.'These conditions, to a large extent, exist to-day, but I appeal to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House not to allow the condition of our schools to play any part in our political controversies. I am not animated in the very least by any denominational passion or political object. My sole desire is to obtain for the children good and well-equipped schools, small classes, and highly-trained teachers. I do not know that I need point out the extent to which in years past the attitude which I have now taken up was accepted by those who held this office before me. But I am sure of this, that if the Noble Lord is still in the mind for peace he ought not to ask for it at the price of the health of the children. And this action on our part, this procedure, is good for the children, and ought to go forward whatever may be our feelings with regard to either the political controversies or religious rivalries of our time. I am still in the same mind as the Noble Lord thought I was two years ago in regard to religious controversy. I still wish for peace. He comes now and says he desires the same object. I wonder why he was not in that frame of mind two years ago 1 He, as much as anybody, made peace impossible at that time. Perhaps he will pardon me if I say I feel a little suspicious about gifts that come from the Greeks. If he wishes to see an end put to political controversy he must not do so on the basis of the supremacy of his own denomination. Peace in Lancashire will only be possible if it is realised by all concerned that there can be no predominance of denominational or Anglican opinion, and that the only peace which can be maintained in the future must be on the basis of religious equality, with no special privileges to denominations either in respect of money or structure, or qualification. All schools must be treated and managed alike. Where public money is given, public control should go with it. The principle which we have enunciated a dozen times from this bench still holds good. If you are to have public support for our elementary schools it is perfectly clear that you must have public control in those schools. On that basis we are prepared, as we were three years ago, to sign a lasting peace.