§ It shall be the duty of a local education authority for the purposes of Part III. of the Education Act, 1902, to make adequate and suitable provision in order that full benefit may be derived from the system of public elementary schools, and for that purpose, amongst other matters—
- (a) to make adequate and suitable provision by means of central schools, central or special classes, or otherwise—
- (i) for including in the curriculum of public elementary schools, at appropriate stages, practical instruction suitable to the ages, abilities, and requirements of the children; and
- (ii) for organising in public elementary schools courses of advanced instruction for the older or more intelligent children in attendance at such schools, including children who stay at such schools beyond the age of fourteen; and so much of the definition of the term "elementary school" in Section three of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, as requires that elementary education shall be the principal part of the education there given, shall not apply to such courses of advanced instruction for older scholars; and
- (b) to make adequate and suitable arrangements for co-operating with local education authorities for the purposes of Part II. of the Education Act. 1902, in matters of common interest, and particularly in respect of—
- (i) the preparation of children for further education in schools other than elementary, and their transference at suitable ages to such schools; and
- (ii) the supply and training of teachers;
I beg to move, in paragraph (a—ii.), to leave out the words, "and so much of the definition of the term 'elementary school' in Section 3 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, as requires that elementary education shall be the principal part of the education there given, shall not apply to such courses of advanced instruction for older scholars; and," in order to insert instead thereof the following new paragraph:(b) To make adequate and suitable arrangements under the provisions of paragraph (b) of 744 Sub-section (1) of Section thirteen of the Education (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1907, for attending to the health and physical condition of children educated in public elementary schools; and.This Amendment is introduced to meet the general sense of the House as expressed in the Committee stage, that it should be compulsory on local education authorities to provide medical treatment in public elementary schools. It is considered best that it should be laid down as part of the duty of the Part III. authority, and the Board of Education can require a scheme to be submitted showing how it is proposed to carry it out. The House will realise that in the existing state of law a local education authority is compelled to provide inspection, and is empowered to provide teachers. Under the Clause as amended the local education authority will be compelled to provide both treatment and inspection. As I pointed out in the Committee stage, a very large number of local education authorities have already availed themselves of their power to provide treatment and, in fact, there are only thirty-nine authorities out of 318 who have not provided treatment in some form or other. The effect, therefore, of this Amendment is more restrictive than might appear to be the case at first sight. No doubt it will have a general effect in stimulating local education authorities to provide more medical treatment than they already have done. And I think it will be generally, agreed that that effect would be beneficial.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
On a point of Order, Sir. The right hon. Gentleman has just told us that this Clause will compel the local education authority to provide medical treatment. If that is so, does not that impose a charge, and is it not, therefore, out of order at this stage?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am afraid my attention was taken away for the moment when the right hon. Gentleman began his speech with regard to this Amendment. Will he deal with the point whether the effect will be to impose a charge? The Government have no privilege in the matter of imposing a charge at this stage.
Or, as my hon. Friend (Mr. King) says, to increase an old one. The local education authorities are at present empowered to provide treatment; 279 authorities out of 318 have availed themselves of that power. Thirty-nine have not availed themselves of it. It is proposed under this Clause to make some form of treatment mandatory on local education authorities. It would, of course, be quite possible for a local education authority to arrange for a system of treatment which would not impose any fresh charge. For instance, a local education authority might invite the medical practitioners of its area to establish a cheap contract practice among the children of the poor, and under the Education (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1907, a parent who can afford to pay for treatment must pay for treatment. It is, therefore, quite possible that this duty might be carried out in any given area, and quite possibly in all areas, without any increase of charge.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think that if there is the possibility of a charge being incurred which would fall upon the rates, it would not be in order to move the Amendment at this stage.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Herbert Lewis)
May I point out that the earlier part of this Clause provides that it shall be the duty of a local education authority to mike adequate and suitable provision in order that full benefit may be derived from the system of public elementary schools. We have now the powers which this will only make explicit.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
If this Amendment, which is practically an agreed Amendment, be inserted in another place, and comes back to this House, would it be possible for this House to waive its privilege?
§ Mr. LEWIS
May I draw attention to the provision of the Education (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1907, which includes among the powers and duties of a local education authority the duty of providing for the medical inspection of children immediately before or as soon as possible after their admission to a public elementary school and the power to provide treatment. The power is now in existence. This only makes it mandatory.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
It is not compulsory. That is the whole point. Some of these authorities have not exercised this power. The object of the Amendment is to make them exercise this power.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think that the better way to proceed would be, before the Third Reading or on the Third Reading, to recommit the Bill in respect of this particular Amendment. There would then be no difficulty in the matter, and no objection could possibly be taken.
Might I draw attention to the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark. Would it be in order if this Amendment were inserted in another place, for this House to waive its privilege and accept the Amendment in that way? I only ask this with the object of saving time. I know that it is rather irregular for this House to give any indication beforehand as to whether it would or would not waive its privilege, and perhaps it would be a rather dangerous thing to do, but I make the suggestion in order to save time.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The question which the right hon. Gentleman has put to me is one which I do not like to answer offhand. The course which he suggests might be adopted, but I think that the plan which I have suggested is a better plan. It would not result in any loss of time, because the Motion to recommit could be made the moment the Bill has gone through the Report stage. It could be recommitted, and reported upon at once, or it could be taken the first thing on the day fixed for Third Reading.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. KING
I beg to move, after the word "fourteen," to insert the words, "and those who stay at such schools till the age of sixteen."
We are met in this Bill with a very important question which, after repeated study of the Bill and of the Education Acts, seems to me to be left still in a state of uncertainty. In the Education Act of 1870 there was practically no limit of age for those who attended a public elementary school. Indeed, night schools at that time were public elementary schools, with the result that you had many students up to the age of eighteen, and even the age of twenty, attending public elementary schools. They were regarded 747 as attending schools for children. The result is that if you look through the Education Acts to find out at what age a boy or girl ceases to be a child you are landed in a hopeless difficulty. I believe that the Act of 1876 does define the age of child as up to fourteen, but that Act is now only necessary and is only enforced in regard to sending children to industrial schools. In all other respects there is uncertainty as to the age at which a boy or girl ceases to be a child. The Government proposes in the Definition Clause at the end of the Bill to provide that a child is a boy or a girl who, under the conditions in which that boy or girl lives, is under obligation to attend school. No age is given. The greatest age might be fourteen in one case and fifteen in another. The age of childhood under this Bill will vary in different localities. This is a very unsatisfactory position. It is especially unsatisfactory in view of the main provision of the Bill, which is that up to sixteen, at any rate, there is to be compulsory education for all children or young persons.
I desire to make public elementary schools available for taking children and young persons up to the age of sixteen. The President of the Board of Education quite realises that there might be many places where it would be the policy of the education authority to put, as it were, a top storey on the present elementary school and to continue the children in those schools up to sixteen. I am not quite sure that the President may not say that this Amendment is not necessary. In many cases in which we have put forward suggestions which we thought desirable in order to make clear the objects of the Bill, we have been met by the statement that they were not necessary. In a long, complicated Bill like this, which has to be read in connection with other Acts of Parliament, and which brings in a new system under which you are driving education along different lines in elementary, continuation, and higher elementary schools, it is obvious that there may be points which are covered more than once in different parts of the Bill and in different Acts, but I desire to introduce these words to make the meaning clear. At present the age of leaving school is almost everywhere fourteen. In the scheme under this Bill we have various ways of treating the educational problem between fourteen 748 and sixteen, and therefore you have in an elementary school only those who are obliged to be there as elementary school scholars, and those who are continuing the necessary education which they must get either there or elsewhere. I hope that I have shown a reason why this Amendment, even if not absolutely necessary, is really desirable, and will add to the clearness and certainty of the Bill.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I desire to second the Amendment, and to ask the President of the Board of Education a question. Whether he accepts the Amendment or not, it is necessary to add words after the word "children," because this Clause gives power to the local education authorities to arrange special courses of instruction for children who stay at school beyond the age of fourteen. But a child ceases to be a child at the age of fourteen unless the local education authority has adopted a by-law making attendance at school compulsory until the age of fifteen, and unless this is done the word "children" in the Clause will not give the local education authority the power to arrange courses of instruction for those children who stay at school beyond the age of fourteen. This is a real difficulty, but it can be got over by inserting the words "or young persons," after the word "children."
The hon. Member for North Somerset, at an earlier stage in our proceedings, drew my attention to what was undoubtedly a lacuna in the Bill. He pointed out that it would be very desirable to make provision in the Bill for the continuance of children at elementary schools in certain cases, and in order to meet him I have put down an Amendment to Clause 8 which. I believe, meets his views in that regard. That being so, I submit that the Amendment which the hon. Member proposes now is unnecessary. What he is contending for is that there should be provision for the continuance of children at elementary schools up to the age of sixteen. This Sub-section alludes to children who stay at such schools beyond the age of fourteen. Obviously, those words would apply to children who stay up to the age of sixteen, and consequently I submit that the words which my hon. Friend desires to insert are really unnecessary to give effect to his wishes.
§ Amendment negatived.749
§ 5.0 P.M.
I beg to move, after the word "fourteen," to leave out the words,and so much of the definition of the term 'elementary school,' in Section 3 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, as requires that elementary education shall be the principal part of the education there given, shall not apply to such courses of advanced instruction for older scholars; and.This is merely a drafting Amendment, but at the point where we inserted the Amendment in the Committee stage it did not read well, and it was thought that it was much better to put it as a separate proviso.
§ Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move, at the end, to insert the words,So much of the definition of the term 'elementary school' in Section 3 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, as requires that elementary education shall be the principal part of the education there given, shall not apply to such courses of advanced instruction as aforesaid.
§ Amendment agreed to.