§ 15. Mr. KING
asked the President of the Board of Education whether the Chorley local education authority has been during the last three years informed that the school accommodation in Chorley was insufficient; whether the Board of Education threatened a withdrawal of Grant before the Chorley local authority would undertake to supply accommodation; whether in February, 1912, the Chorley local authority undertook to provide a new council school; whether he is aware that the building of this school is not yet commenced; and what steps will be taken to prevent local education authorities like Chorley from flouting the Board of Education and starving education?
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. J. A. Pease)
The local education authority's attention was called in July, 1911, to the necessity for providing additional accommodation to replace the Wesleyan school, and warning was given that if any delay occurred in dealing with the deficiency of accommodation necessitating the continued recognition of the Wesleyan school premises beyond the 30th September, 1912, a substantial reduction would be made from the Grants. The authority issued notices in the early part of 1912 for a new council school for about 500 children, and plans for this school are now before the Board. For the school year ended the 30th September, 1912, the overcrowding in Chorley amounted to nine units only, and occurred in one of the departments of the condemned Wesleyan school.
§ 16. Mr. KING
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he is considering an application for the erection of a fourth Roman Catholic school in Chorley; whether he has been approached by the local education authority to support this application; whether the present Roman Catholic schools in Chorley are already providing in existing or authorised schools 400 more school places than the average attendance in those schools; and whether there will be a public inquiry into the matter?
§ Mr. PEASE
There is a proposal before the Board to provide a new Roman Catholic school in Chorley for 200 places for infants. The authority have notified their support of the proposal. In the three existing Roman Catholic schools for the last school year there were 1,532 places, 1,383 scholars on the register, and 782 1,178 scholars in average attendance. The accommodation in these schools will be increased by eighty-eight places when certain premises which have been condemned by the Board at one of the schools have been replaced. Last week I directed a public inquiry to be held with regard to the proposal.
§ 18. Mr. KING
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that in many schools, and especially in the cities and towns of Lancashire, school pence continue to be charged even in elementary schools enjoying the fee Grant; and whether, in order to acquaint parents, local authorities, and others with the right of all children to free education, he will reissue the Memorandum of the Department on Free Education originally issued in May, 1893?
§ Mr. PEASE
The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The parents' rights to free education for their children are, I think, well known, and in view of the publicity given to the matter by the hon. Member's questions there seems to be no necessity for a circular on the subject.
§ 20. Mr. KING
asked how many scholars in the elementary schools in Liverpool which receive fee Grants are actually paying fees; whether any of these schools are overcrowded; whether any of them have been warned; and whether the Board is taking special precautions to ensure that at least those children who bring school pence shall have healthy conditions and proper instruction at their schools?
§ Mr. PEASE
On the 31st July, 1912, 38,589 out of 118,692 children in public elementary schools in Liverpool were paying fees in schools to which fee Grant is paid. In twenty departments of these schools the average attendance exceeded the recognised accommodation, but the excess amounted to over ten units in only four cases. In all cases where the excess was more than nominal, the Board have warned the local education authority that overcrowding must not be allowed to continue. The Board make no distinction in their requirements as to premises and efficiency between schools in which fees are charged and schools in which fees are not charged.
§ 21. Mr. KING
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that school pence are being charged in elementary schools in Liverpool which receive the fee Grant, and are mostly non-provided schools in the poorer districts, and that the total sum so taken from parents is nearly £13,000 annually; whether he can state how much of the total school pence paid in Liverpool is handed over to the local education authority and how much to the managers of voluntary schools; and whether he will represent to the local education authority the desirability of abolishing or reducing the school pence now payable in Liverpool?
§ Mr. PEASE
Of the schools in Liverpool which receive fee Grant and charge fees, twenty are council schools and thirty-nine are voluntary schools. I am not able to say how many of the fee-charging schools can be regarded as in the poorer districts, but fees are not charged in a large number of schools in such districts. In the year ending 31st December, 1912, school fees amounting to £12,175 5s. 2d. were paid by the parents, and of this sum £2,469 15s. 11d. was paid to the managers of voluntary schools under Section 14 of the Education Act, 1902. The rate of fees in Liverpool schools has recently been reduced, and I see no reason to intervene in the matter. Schools receiving the fee Grant may charge fees under conditions laid down in the Elementary Education Act, 1891.
§ Mr. CROOKS
Is it not a fact that Liverpool is equal to any other education authority in the country?
§ 17. Sir J. D. REES
asked the President of the Board of Education, with reference to his speech at Derby to the effect that forthcoming education proposals will make it necessary that hands must be put more deeply into the pockets and to the Report of the Royal Commission on University Education in London, whether he is aware of the feeling which prevails regarding the present system and cost of education; and what further demands from the ratepayer and the taxpayer the Government contemplates in addition to existing burdens?
§ Sir J. D. REES
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he cannot discourage attacks such as those contained in the last question, and arrange that where there is really absolutely no overcrowding no pressure is put on the authorities to increase the accommodation?
§ 19. Mr. KING
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that the cost of the central and local administration of education as distinct from maintenance and loan charges has increased 120 per cent. since the Education Act of 1902; and whether, having regard to the promise given by the Prime Minister in office in 1902 that the cost of education administration would be reduced, some effort will be made in forthcoming legislation to satisfy an expectation of relief from needless expenditure on mere official routine?
§ Mr. PEASE
The expenditure of school boards on administration in the year 1901–2 was £530,401 and of local education authorities in the year 1910–11 was £1,211,818, but these figures are not comparable as the former figure does not include expenditure on administration in voluntary schools. The expenditure of the Board of Education for the year 1901–2 was £395,696 and for the year 1910–11 was £437,068. With regard to the second part of the question, the hon. Member must wait for the introduction of the Bill.