§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [13th March], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months "—[Mr. Peto.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I feel that it would be improper, and for me impossible, to enter on the resumed discussion of this Bill to-day without saying how much I regret, and I believe the whole House will regret, that we have been deprived of the presence of one whose participation in this Debate would have been particularly welcome. I think hon. Members in all parts of the House will share my regret that we cannot have the advantage in the remainder of these Debates of the shrewdness, the sagacity, the experience, and the profound zeal for education, especially on its technical side, of the late Member for the Keighley Division of Yorkshire (Sir Swire Smith).
There is one feature of this Bill which to my mind is of the very highest significance and in regard to which little or nothing has been said in the course of the Debate. I refer to that feature of the Bill which is tucked or hidden away, if one may use the expression, in Clause 7. Before dealing with that point I hope I may be allowed to add just one more to the felicitations which have poured down upon my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education for the great courage which he has displayed in grappling with the conception of this Bill, and also for the great skill he has shown in the exposition of its details. I am certain, however, that my right hon. Friend would be the first to admit that his main task has been to reduce, to bring into symmetrical form, and to give coherence to the ideas and principles which have for a longtime past been common to all in the country who are really interested in education. It seems to me to be the really significant feature of the situation that there is an increasing number of people who are agreed upon the principles which the right hon. Gentleman has embodied in this Bill. I think most hon. Members will agree that hitherto the 675 people of this country who have been interested in education are a mere handful of our population. The English people have never been as a whole really interested in the problem of education. I use the word "English" in its narrower sense. They have been nothing like so interested as, for example, the Scottish people, nothing like so much interested as the Welsh people, and, above all, nothing like so much interested as the German people. Germany has shown itself for the last hundred years at least in deadly earnest in regard to the problem of education. I regard the production of this Bill as very conclusive testimony to the fact that we English people are beginning to be in earnest about education. I am disposed to think that not even the courage of my right hon. Friend would have sufficed to bring forward this Bill if he had not felt behind him an immense national impulse, and a newly awakened, and very generally awakened, zeal for education.
I would like to say one passing word which may possibly account to some extent for this awakening. The first reason I believe is that in this, as in so many other respects, the War has been a tremendous educator of public opinion. It has revealed the weak joints in the armour of our national equipment. That is the first reason. In consequence of that revelation the country as a whole is looking forward to a period of reconstruction, both economic, social, and constitutional, and more and more the conviction is forcing itself upon the minds of most thoughtful people that at the root of this problem of reconstruction—and I speak of it as a single problem—in its manifold manifestations there lies this problem of national education. Further than that, it is with the solution of this problem that the whole scheme of reconsruction will have to begin. My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) has moved the rejection or postponement of this Bill in a speech which commanded the attention of the whole House, and he moved it primarily on the ground that this House has no mandate to deal with the problem of education. I was rather surprised to hear such an ultra-democratic sentiment proceeding from the mouth of the hon. Member for Devizes. For my own part, I confess that I am still a strong believer in the root principle of representative government, which I take to 676 be that the Members of this House are not mere delegates, here to do the direct bidding of their constituents, but that they are representatives entitled—indeed, required—to act for their constituents to the best of their ability and discretion. Apart from that, the hon. Member cannot, I think, deny that this Bill has behind it an immense and very rapidly growing amount of public opinion; opinion not in favour, as I think the right hon. Gentleman will discover when he gets into Committee, of all the details of this Bill, but which is certainly in favour of its basic principles and of a more conspicuous and outstanding application of those principles.
What is the basic principle of this Bill? I believe it is that we have for weal or woe committed the Government of this country to a democracy, and we believe that, having done that, it is of absolute and paramount importance that that democracy should be an educated democracy, a democracy educated to discharge the vast and ever-increasing burdens which are cast upon the citizen rulers of this Empire. Therefore, for my own part, I cannot be a party to any proposal that is intended to defeat or even to delay the passing into law of the main proposals contained in this Bill. Those proposals are very comprehensive, and very complex. They concern not only elementary education, but also secondary and technical education, and they concern, as, I think, has been very imperfectly realised in this House, and very intimately concern, the higher education system of this country. And in all those three new Departments it is not too much to say that the Bill really foreshadows a revolution.
So far as I have been able to discern there is not, with one or two exceptions, a great deal of controversy in reference to the proposals in regard to elementary education. Most people who have thought about the matter are absolutely agreed upon the restriction on industrial employment. I was very glad indeed to hear my right hon. Friend, the other night, laying so much stress on that point. I think that most people are agreed again as to the raising of the leaving age for elementary scholars. They are agreed again, in very large part, as to the abolition of what is called half-time. I am certain that they are no less agreed as to the conspicuous place which the right hon. Gentleman's Bill is giving to the 677 physical training of our children. I am; delighted to recognise the stress which he lays upon this point. I would venture to suggest that gymnastic in the German, or indeed in the Greek sense, is not enough for physical training. Besides. gymnastic you want games. Gymnastic may generate muscle, but you want games to develop morale and character. The mere provision of physical exercises, such as those which have been introduced into many of our elementary schools, is, in my opinion, not enough without the moral incentive of games. To the general agreement on those points, I believe, that there will be one or two rather important exceptions. The first was indicated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen University (Sir H. Craik). I am cordially in agreement with him on the point on which he laid so much stress, that there is a very dangerous innovation contained in the Third Sub-section of the Eighth Clause of the Bill. That is the Sub-section which deprives the parent of the right of appeal to a Court of law. The education authority, whether local or central authority, should not be the judge in its own case. The parent ought to have an ultimate appeal to a Court of law. I find in this Sub-section of the Bill one of those multiplying symptoms of bureaucratic autocracy which it is one of the many functions of this House most vigilantly to guard against and to combat. On that ground the right hon. Gentleman, unless he is prepared to make concessions, may, I think, anticipate some considerable opposition when we get to close grips with the Bill.
There is one other point on which I would like to say just one passing word at this stage. If I may say so with very great respect, I think that there are in this Bill several traces of a somewhat pedantic adherence to the formulae of the doctrinaire. Of these by far the most important to my mind is contained in the twenty-second Clause of the Bill. That Clause deals with the abolition of fees in elementary schools. I can perfectly well understand my right hon. Friend saying, "I am determined to make the best education available to the children of the poorest as well as to the children of the richest," but what I cannot understand is his refusal to accept fees from those who are willing to pay them. I shall be told, I suppose, that it is really a democratic proposal. Is it democratic that to the 678 wealthy man he says, "I am not going to touch your expenditure on private and on secondary schools; I am not going to touch the schools to which you send your boys and girls, paying fees of from £100 to £150 and £200 a year for their education," while the pence of the poor man are tainted, are taboo; and to the poor man he says, "We will not permit you to pay your pence for such additions as you may desire, though we gladly allow the rich man to pay his £100 or £200 a year for what he regards as the educational luxuries of his class." I suggest that the proposal contained in the twenty-second Clause of the Bill is almost purely pedantic. I respectfully warn the right hon. Gentleman that if he proves obdurate on this point—I am perfectly sure that he will not—he may expect very determined opposition on the Committee stage of the Bill. Already there have come to me, as I have no doubt they have come to other Members of this House, representations from all sides in regard to this particular Clause, and with all possible friendliness, I desire to warn the President of the Board of Education that already there is much hostility to this Clause outside the House, and that that hostility will find an echo inside this House when we come to close quarters with the Bill.
I now come to very much more debate-able and controversial matter—that is the portion of the Bill that deals with continuation schools. In regard to these schools there seem to be three alternatives. First, the alternative of part-time education for all young persons above elementary school age between fourteen and eighteen. That is the scheme, as everybody knows, which is embodied in the Bill. But as alternatives to those there have been suggested, on the one side by the hon. Member for Devizes, and on the other by the hon. Member for Chorley, two alternatives. Either a whole-time education for selected pupils or a half-time education for pupils between the ages of fourteen and sixteen. If education consists, as I cannot help thinking that the hon. Member for Chorley has some impression that it does consist, in pumping a certain number of facts into a boy's or girl's head, then I think that there would be a great deal to be said for the alternative which he puts forward. Surely we have got beyond that point of view in regard to education. We now regard education as the drawing out of 679 the pupil of all that is best in the pupil himself, and from that point of view it is infinitely better, as I hope the House will ultimately agree, to have your four years of part-time education for all pupils than to have either your two years of education of half-time, or to have your selected pupils. But those are three arguable alternatives in regard to which I expect we shall hear a great deal more when we come to close grips. Personally, I am inclined to agree with the solution of the question which is proposed in the Bill itself, and for this reason: that if you do not keep all your children under some sort of educational control, and not merely selected numbers of them, you run the very grave risk of wasting some very valuable brains, and of all forms of national waste that is the most uneconomical.
Just let the House consider what might possibly have been lost to the country if, instead of going on from their private preparatory schools to Eton or Winchester at the age of fourteen, Members of this House had been forced prematurely into an industrial career. I can quite imagine that at the age of fourteen even Members of this House might not have developed those shining abilities which they have displayed to so much advantage in this House and in the country at large. I confess that even the possibility of such a disaster as that would compel me to pause before accepting the suggestion of the hon. Member for Devizes. But I have another reason for my hesitation, and it is this: I have had a great deal to do during the last seven years with the education of the adult citizens of this country—people of university age, and, above all, people of university age who have not had the opportunity of going to a university. What has been the gravest impediment which we have found in the way of the extension of higher citizen education? Unquestionably by far the greatest difficulty has been the gap which has hitherto existed between the elementary school and the extra mural courses to which these men and women have been accustomed to come. It has been the gap between the elementary school and the point at which they take up the renewed education at the age of eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-five, very often fifty-five—all sorts of ages. These people come into our classes and our lectures, many of them having 680 had no opportunity at all of former education, since the age of twelve, thirteen, or in many cases even younger. Their very desire to profit by the courses of instruction offered by the universities-has not enabled them to do so by reason of the lack of intermediate training. I am glad to see in his place the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, because, in this respect, Wales has been very much better off than this country; and one of the reasons of the great success of higher education in Wales, I am confident, has been that they have developed a most admirable scheme of intermediate education. It is some of the advantages of this scheme which Wales has long enjoyed that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education is proposing to extend to the people of this country.
The gap, as I say, has been one of the difficulties we have had to encounter in this adult education. Another difficulty, of course, has been the very grave lack of funds. I am glad, therefore, to observe, that my right hon. Friend has made provision, though rather cryptically, for the removal of the difficulty in one obscure Clause of this Bill—I refer to Clause 7, which removes the limit imposed upon local authorities with respect to secondary and higher education. In this respect I think that the Bill aims at doing the right thing, though I am inclined to think that it is rather disposed to do good by stealth. I can very well understand the reason of the stealthy approach of the right hon. Gentleman to this question. I have no doubt he has in mind the great cost which will inevitably be imposed by the passing of this Bill. If the House will permit me I would like to say only one or two passing words on that portion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which dealt. with the probable cost of this Bill. He distinguished, and I think he very rightly distinguished between what I may call the indirect taxation, the taxation which this Bill might impose upon industry, and the direct or money cost of the Bill to the ratepayer and taxpayer of this country. I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that the indirect tax imposed upon industry is not likely to be a permanent tax. It is one which may very soon be recovered. But I do not think it would be candid not to admit that, even in that respect, there may be some tax upon the industry of 681 the country, and I would appeal to the light hon. Gentleman, for that reason, to deal gently with those industries which would be most affected by the passing of this Bill. But it is the money cost of the Bill with which I want particularly to deal. The right hon. Gentleman distinguished between the price of those portions of the Bill which he described as essential and the price of those portions which 'he described as not essential but desirable. He told us that the cost of raising the leaving age to fourteen may be computed at about £1,000,000 per annum. He computed the cost of his continuation proposals at something nearly approaching £9,000,000 a year, making an expenditure on essentials of nearly £10,000,000 a year. I am disposed to think that this is rather a serious under-estimate of the probable cost of the Bill. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to the cost of the desirable portions of the Bill, and I was very much surprised, I confess, to hear him enumerate only the cost of the proposed nursery schools, which he put at £900,000 a year. The financial position was the only portion of the right hon. Gentleman's statement which left me in some doubt as to his meaning. I should be very much obliged if he would take the opportunity, later on, to indicate whether in his estimate he included not only the cost of continuation schools, but many other forms of secondary education, such as the junior technical schools, the junior commercial schools, and a number of schools other than the continuation proposals. What I want to know is whether his rough financial estimate, which he gave us the other night, includes those proposals of the Bill? If the right hon. Gentleman includes all the experiments to which I have drawn attention I can only think that his estimate is still more of an understatement.
Then he appeared to allow nothing—I am quite open to correction on this point—for the proposals which are embodied, or rather I should say embedded, in the seventh Clause of the Bill. Was there any estimate for the price of the removal of the 2d. limit. I think not. I am not certain on that point, but I hope before this Debate closes we may be enlightened on that point from the Front Bench. I hope the right hon. Gentleman and the House will understand that I am not complaining in the least of the financial 682 aspects of the Bill, but I do venture to ask the House whether the way in which the finance of the Bill has been presented to the House, so far, does not strengthen, enormously strengthen, the case for the suggestion which I made in the course of last Session? The House may possibly remember—I think it was in the Debate on the setting up of a Select Committee on national expenditure—that I gave expression to the hope that in regard to all the important legislative proposals brought before this House we might have set up, if the forms of the House allowed, a a special Committee charged with the duty of examining the financial aspects of every Bill under consideration. I know there existed, in times past, what was called the Estimates Committee, a Committee of the House for the examination of Estimates as a whole; but the point I urge upon the right hon. Gentleman's attention is that, not in connection with the Estimates as a whole, but in connection with each specific legislative proposal which is likely to involve the House and the country in large expenditure, there should be: et up a special Committee which shall have imposed upon it the duty of reporting to the House upon the financial aspects of the legislative proposals under consideration by the House. I venture to make a very strong appeal, if the procedure of the House will allow it, that in connection with this Bill there should be set up an Estimates Committee. Already I am afraid I have detained the House long enough, perhaps at excessive length. I can only plead that the Question under discussion is one to which I have personally devoted the whole of my adult life as a teacher and an organiser of education. It is on that ground, and on that ground alone, that I am, perhaps, entitled to ask the House to listen to me this afternoon. We are, as I think the whole House will agree, embarking, in the Second Reading of this Bill, on a work of really national importance. The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) pointed out on Wednesday, and—though I may say that I agree with him as a general rule—I was very sorry to hear what he said, thatThe scheme of the Bill is obviously framed by educationists.I do not know whether he meant that as a matter of reproach or not. He went on,But I think that it misses the real aim of education.What follows?—The acquisition of knowledge is no end in itself.683 To that proposition I think we shall all assent. The hon. Member continued,It is only of value when it can be made of real use to the individual.What does he mean by "real use"? I understood him to mean—I apologise if I misunderstood him—the real use in an industrial and in a directly economic sense. That is how I understood his speech. I would point out, with the greatest possible earnestness and sincerity, that there is another end of education than that. That is exceedingly important, but that is not the whole end of education. We want to turn out, not only efficient manual workers, not only efficient men of business, but we want to turn out by means of this Bill—which is not a measure merely for the manufacture of workmen, but one for the manufacture of citizens—those who will play their part in the administration and government of the State. It is from that point of view I regard this Bill. I have seen this Bill described as the "Children's Charter." I am not without hope that it will come to deserve a still more generous appellation; I believe in time to come it may be described, not as the children's charter, but as the nation's charter. I believe that, for the first time, we have in this Bill a real attempt, the first that has ever been made for this country, to lay, broad and deep, the foundations of a scheme of education which shall be truly national in its comprehensiveness and in its conception. The very wisest of all the wise men of old once laid it down that of those things which go to maintain the stability of the State and the continuance of a constitution, by far the most important is that the educational system of the country should be devised in the spirit of the polity, and that it should be relevant to the Constitution. That very wise saying contains, as it seems to me, both an encouragement and a warning. It forbids anything in the nature of slavish imitation of other peoples.
We are sometimes bidden to admire, and not only to admire, but to imitate, the educational systems of our neighbours. One hon. Member, the other night, held up to emulation the system of education in the United States of America. I know something of the American system and of its fruits, and I believe that that system is well devised and well conceived to serve the needs of 684 the American polity, but their polity is not to ours. Much more frequently, at any rate until four years ago, we were exhorted to copy this or that feature of the German. system of education. I know a little about German education too, and it is my belief that never, in the history of the world, has any State or any people devised an educational system more complete, more coherent, more admirably and skilfully calculated to preserve the spirit of the polity than has Germany. Yes, but what is the spirit of their polity? The spirit of the Prussian polity is and always has been the spirit of war. Prussia was, and Germany is, the Kriegstat. From the cradle to the grave the German citizen has been regarded primarily as a soldier. Every man child is taught that he has come into the world with the primary duty of fighting for the Fatherland; every German girl has been taught that it is her duty, her primary duty, to be the mother of sons who will fight for the Fatherland. That is the spirit of the German polity, and its fruits are to-day manifest throughout the world. The spirit of our polity is wholly different, and we have got to work out a system of education not less complete than theirs, not less coherent than theirs, and equally designed to preserve the spirit of a wholly different polity. I sometimes wonder whether we realise and whether the people of this country realise that they have entered, half blindly, half unconsciously, upon an experiment which is literally unique, without precedent, and without parallel in the history of the world! What is the nature of that experiment? There have been great Empires in the world before ours: there have been democracies in the world before ours. But there has never before been in the history of the world an attempt to-rule a world Empire through the medium and by the machinery of a real democracy. We have got, therefore, to devise an educational system unlike any other system which the world has known before, because adapted to a polity which has never existed in the world before. As a nation we have, I think, been curiously slow to undertake this task, or even to apprehend this task. We have been slow to understand the things that really belong unto our peace. But the terrible experience of the last four years has burned into us an understanding which was not there before, and has led to an awakening of the national mind and of the national con- 685 science in this matter. In that awakening we have, I think, a splendid and possibly unique opportunity, and it is because I believe that my right hon. Friend has realised that opportunity and shown himself resolved to redeem it, that I, for one, shall give to this Bill, in its broad outlines, the most hearty and continuous support.
§ Sir PHILIP MAGNUS
I am sure we have all listened with pleasure to the interesting speech just delivered by one who has a wide experience and deep knowledge of the subject which is now under consideration. My hon. Friend has enunciated a large number of general principles with which, I suppose, all Members of the House are in agreement. He has suggested certain alterations in the Bill now before us, but I must own that with some of those propositions I do not find myself entirely in agreement. He has told us that the English people take very little interest in education. I do not think that is the case. In fact, I think I may say that there is no subject on which everyone feels that he is more capable of speaking with dogmatic authority than on the subject of education. I would not for one moment suggest that my hon. Friend so speaks, but I must own that we do find a large number of speeches delivered on this subject from persons without very much knowledge of the subject. I do not propose to detain the House long. Many of the subjects referred to in the speech of my hon. Friend can be well debated in Committee. We are now on the Second Reading of the Bill, and we ought to confine ourselves to the general principles underlying it. I am not disposed to admit with him that there is great hostility to the abolition of fees in the elementary schools. I have received numbers of letters on the subject of this Bill, but in no one of them has any hostility to that Clause been suggested. I do agree with him entirely in his statement as regards the importance of filling up the gap in our educational system between the age when children leave elementary schools and desire to enter our universities or technical institutions. But looking at this Bill as a whole, I have no hesitation in saying that no one of the several Education Bills which have been introduced into this House during the last half-century has met with such general approval as the Bill that we are now 686 considering. May I say that it is a very great improvement on the first draft that was submitted last year. Thanks, I understand very largely, to the representations of my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Sir H. Hibbert), some of the administrative Clauses which promised to confer large additional powers upon the Board of Education have been modified, or removed, leaving a very necessary and much appreciated measure of influence and control to our local education authorities.
Another matter to which reference has not been made has been introduced into Clause 10, Sub-section 6, which gives relief to members of all religious denominations from obligatory attendance at continuation schools on days set apart for religious services. The skill displayed by the framers of this Bill in avoiding the many thorny subjects which arise out of what is known as the religious question, it I think deserving of high praise, and will, I am quite certain, facilitate the passage of the Bill through the House. There are other difficulties connected with these religious questions which cannot be altogether removed in the Bill itself, but I hope they will be satisfactorily adjusted in the regulations, which I suppose will be issued later on, laying down quite definitely the conditions under which State aid will be given to our secondary schools. I agree with my right hon. Friend (Sir H. Craik) when he said in his interesting speech on Wednesday last:Ninety-nine out of every hundred men in this country are convinced that a great element in the shaping of character must be derived from the religious motive."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th March, 1918, col. 363.]That conviction, I am sure, has been strengthened in all our minds by our unexpected and painful experience of the barbarous and immoral acts perpetrated by our German enemies, who have been reared in schools which possess all the advantages ascribed to them by my hon. Friend opposite, but which have been bereft of the higher sanction which religion gives to conduct. I have said that this Bill No. 2 has met with an unprecedented measure of general approval, and it is so. Closely connected as I am with a very large number of educational bodies and educational associations, I think it is only due to the President of the Board and to this House that I should state that I have received and have been a party to the adoption of numerous 687 resolutions expressing the earnest desire that the Bill, modified as we hope it may be in some particulars, shall become law during the present Session. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board will recognise that any suggestions which I may think it my duty to offer will be of a friendly and helpful character, and are not intended to retard in any way the progress of this Bill.
Let me at once say that this Bill is regarded, and I so regard it, as a great democratic measure of educational reform, a fitting sequel to the legislation of 1870 and 1902, and a measure which, if thoughtfully and considerately administered, is well calculated, in my opinion, to advance the knowledge, stimulate the intelligence, elevate the character, and improve the physical condition of the great majority of the children and young people of this country. If it breaks down any remaining barriers that may stand in the way of the wage-earning class receiving advanced education and proceeding to our universities, it will be all to the good. I am old enough to remember that after the passing of the Reform Act of 1867 the first occupant of the seat in this House which I have now the honour to hold said, I believe, from these benches, "we must now educate our masters." During the past fifty years we have been trying, with more or less success, to do that—less success, I fear, to some extent, owing to the educational policy we have pursued. But now that the Representation of the People Bill of last year has become law, I venture say, with more reason and with greater hope of success, "We must further educate our masters and our mistresses," because, by that Act, the men and women of this country, without distinction of class or occupation, or financial position, will be required to exercise far greater control over our legislation than was possible before. To my mind one of the saddest, I might almost say the most tragic, features of the so called German kultur is that the German people, as a whole, highly instructed as I admit they are, although most imperfectly educated, have been debarred from taking any active part in the government of their country and exercising any influence upon its policy. Happily, it is not so with us, and I feel convinced that should this Bill pass into law it will have the effect of 688 better educationally equipping our men and women for the discharge of the full and responsible duties of citizenship.
I stated that the Bill, revolutionary as are some of its provisions, has been widely approved as a great measure of educational reform. The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto), who moved its rejection, thinks it is too great a step to be carried at once, and that the time is not opportune for considering so far-reaching a measure. I am convinced that few will agree with him—indeed, there are some who think that the Bill does not go far enough—and I am quite, certain that if my hon. Friend decides, as I hope he may not, to go to a Division on the Second Reading, he will find that very few Members of this House, however much they may differ as regards certain Clauses, will follow him into the Lobby. But be that as it may, the President, I am certain, will give due considerations to all proposals that are put forward, and particularly those which have emanated from so ardent an advocate of advanced education as the hon. Member for Chorley (Sir H. Hibbert). The most important Amendments to this Bill refer to Clause 10. The necessity for further education after the age of fourteen is generally admitted, and the criticisms of the general principles of this Bill are almost wholly directed to the question of what further education may be best provided. There are many who hold, and I agree with them, that children of all classes should receive a better literary and scientific education than they do at present. It is only right to say that the majority of the teachers whom I have consulted with regard to this Clause 10 prefer the Clause as it stands rather than accept any Amendments. I fool very strongly that we must not entirely disregard the views of those who are associated with trade and commerce in this country and who are qualified to speak as to the effect of Clause 10 on the industrial and social condition of large sections of the population. I am by no means certain that the education of young people who are to receive part-time instruction in these continuation schools might not be more efficiently advanced by proposals somewhat different from those contained in the Bill.
The hon. Member for the City of Oxford (Mr. Marriott) stated that one great advantage of Clause 10 as it stands is that you obtain control over your children for another three or four years. 689 But that is not the ideal towards which we aim. The ideal at which we aim is that the children shall receive secondary education, full-time education up to the age of sixteen, and it is only those who fail to reach that standard who will be compulsorily received into these continuation classes. The President of the Board declared that there was nothing sacrosanct itself about industry and that the real interest of the State did not consist in the maintainence of this or that industry, but in the maintenance of the we fare of all its citizens. That is true. No one can, deny it. But the welfare of the citizens does directly depend on the adaptation of the education of large sections of the people to the industrial needs of the nation, and that fact is the very raison d'etre of what we understand by technical education. I was glad to notice that the President recognised its importance by stating that he is proposing under the Bill to stimulate the provision of junior technical and commercial schools. But more than that is needed if the welfare of all citizens is to be safeguarded.
We shall have an opportunity in Committee of considering very carefully the proposals with regard to these continuation schools, but in connection with them I venture now to suggest two important matters to which scant reference is made in the Clauses of the Bill. These are (1) the subjects to be taught in these continuation classes;(2) the provision of suitable teachers, and the arrangements to be made for the training of teachers. It is not enough to lay down the general principle that all young persons, unless specially exempted, shall, between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, receive, during 240 hours in the year, further instruction, as so much will depend on the answers to the questions—what is to be taught, and by whom it is to be I may mention in passing that the number of hours proposed seems to be utterly insufficient to give the results expected. As regards the subjects of instruction, I do not suggest for one moment that the Bill should indicate in detail what those subjects shall be. That must be left to the local education authorities. But it is important that the parents of the young people, who are to be heavily fined should they not encourage their children to attend these continuation classes, should have a right to be consulted and to know whether the instruction is to be strictly technical and 690 vocational, or whether, on the other hand, it shall be liberal and general and a real continuation of the teaching in the elementary schools, such as is provided now in our best secondary schools. This distinction is fundamental, and has direct reference to another matter—the relation of these new schools to our existing well-equipped and ably-staffed technical institutions. Much depends on the character of the teaching given in the continuation schools. Will it be overlapping or preparatory? I consider it should be preparatory. I hold that those who, during their working hours, are compelled to attend these classes should have some of the real and helpful advantages of secondary education. Then as regards teachers, the distinction is equally important, and possibly more so. The training suitable for a technical teacher is altogether different from that of a master in a secondary school. The subjects to be taught are different, and even the methods of instruction are not the same. Moreover, the buildings in which the instruction is to be given and the equipment to be provided must be specially adapted to that teaching, if it is to be efficient.
These are matters which must be carefully considered before the Bill is brought into operation, and I hope we may be informed as to the decision of the Government on some of these questions when this Clause 10 is considered in Committee. There is only one other matter to which I desire to refer. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill (Mr. Peto) has referred to Clauses 18 and 19 which deal with medical inspection and the treatment of the pupils and students in attendance at the several schools and institutions in which instruction under the Bill may be provided. It will be seen that Clause 18 gives a very wide meaning to the word "institutions." It includes secondary schools, continuation schools, and such other schools or educational institutions not being elementary schools, provided by the local educational authorities, "as the Board may direct." There can be little doubt whatever as to the advantage to the country of young people during their period of adolescence receiving such careful medical inspection and treatment as is proposed under this Clause of the Bill, but the question does arise, with which our medical Members of this House who are more numerous 691 than they were, are well qualified to deal, whether the arrangements suggested in the Bill are best calculated to secure the physical development of the young, or their careful and sympathetic treatment during sickness. Possibly such arrangements as are now suggested in this Bill should be regarded as provisional only, until a Ministry of Health is appointed.
I have referred briefly to some few points in this Bill which I venture to think require further consideration. I have done so because, as I have already stated, I am genuinely desirous that the Bill embodying these reforms, so long promised and too long delayed, shall be passed during the present Session, and because I believe that the passage of this Bill through this House will be accelerated if the President, on whose judgment and conciliatory spirit I thoroughly rely, will between now and the Committee stage of the Bill carefully weigh the suggestions that have been offered. I hope, further, that if he finds he is unable without undue loss of time to secure the whole Bill as it stands, he will accept such amendments of some of its Clauses as do not affect those essential principles of educational reform on which the Bill is based, and which I am thoroughly convinced the country as a whole is now prepared to accept.
§ Mr. LOUGH
The hon. Member who has just sat down, in an interesting speech, gave us a short catalogue of some of the great nations of the world as regards their devotion to educational ideas. He said the English occupied the lowest position in the scale, that the Scotch occupied a slightly higher position, the Welsh a position higher still than that, and at the top of all he placed the Germans. I, as an Irishman, should like to begin by saying that I think as regards intelligence and broad national merits of all kinds that order might be absolutely reversed. Since I have made a quotation from the hon. Member who has just sat down I think I would best introduce the few remarks I desire to make on this Bill by making another quotation from the right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of the Bill. In his excellent speech the other night he uttered one sentence which has not been specially noticed, but which gives the key to the Bill. These were his words:It is not my intention to disturb the denominational balance, if I may use that phrase, or to revolutionise our local system of educational administration.692 That was the sentence that gives the character of these provisions. The right hon. Gentleman deprives his Bill of the character of the heroic legislation which we have had in past years in connection with this subject. It is not like the Bill of 1870, the Bill of 1902, or the Bill of 1906, which did not get through It is really a great Bill of administrative provisions, and these administrative provisions are not only of a character which the House ought on their merits readily to accept, but are of a character to widen its assent has already been given. If anyone will look at the catalogue of the Bills repealed in the Schedule of this Act he. will see about twenty Education Acts wholly or partly repealed, and amongst them two Acts regarding administrative provisions. In these various Acts we find the principles laid down which the right hon. Gentleman, with a recklessness which we all approve, carries a great deal farther than the modest authors of those Acts dared to go, the principle of raising the age to which the children must attend school, the principle of continuation classes, of restriction on the employment of children, of physical training, of medical inspection, and all the other excellent provisions of the Bill have been laid down by right hon. friends of mine who have had to struggle with this question. Let me say that no one more generously admits that than the right hon. Gentleman himself. Unfortunately, in the days when my right hon. Friends were labouring they could not get rid in the ready and pleasant way in which the right hon. Gentleman has done of the great constitutional question which this subject appears to raise, so they took a very modest view of their reference, and so those right hon. Gentlemen who sit on this bench, or in other parts of the House, or in another place, who were Presidents of the Board of Education, all left the Board with a feeling of disappointment they felt that they had not accomplished any great work; they had only passed these little Bills. Perhaps they did not realise the position in which Mr. Disraeli once described some gentlemen to be who-had laboured in the same way with difficult subjects, namely, that they were a row of extinct volcanoes. My right hon. Friends may not be like that, but undoubtedly they left the Board with a great feeling of disappointment. This Bill should come to them as a great relief.
The right hon. Gentleman has brought forward a Bill which everyone welcomes, 693 and which only carries a little further the excellent principles my right hon. Friends laid down. In saying that I do not suggest that the Bill is not a very great Bill. On the contrary, it is just the great sort of work that requires to be done in regard to a national system. I was myself associated with one small Bill, and I need hardly tell the House that that Bill is not repealed in the long list of measures repealed in the Schedule. It was so excellent and perfect that even the critics there now could not find fault with it. I mean the Provision of Meals Bill, which has done excellent work during the past ten or leven years. I think that sentence I have quoted, with some comment, really gives the key to the position we are in. The Bill does not lend itself to much, rhetoric. The provisions are very simple, and although there are one or two main features to which I would direct attention in Committee it should have a ready passage through the House. The distinction of the measure compared with others is its great cost. The President of the Board of Education differs from us old, weary, he does not care a fig about millions. He performed something last Session which I believe is unique in the history of education Ministers. He brought in an estimate, which he got through in a broken-off Debate on one day, which flung—it was said in this House last Wednesday evening—a burden of three millions on this country. That is incorrect. The figure is 4.7 millions, nearly four millions and three-quarters, when we take the allowance made to Scotland and Ireland, as well as the case of Great Britain. He tossed that little trifle at the House. We had a Debate which was adjourned, we never reached the Report stage, it was closured in Committee, and that great charge of nearly five millions was thrown upon the country. That proposal, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will admit, is an essential part of this Bill. We got rid of it last Session, but it is still an essential and necessary part of it, and now he tells us the cost of the other provisions is to be about £10,000,000 Again he forgets Ireland and Scotland. Does he imagine that the intelligent Gentlemen from Ireland, who are not here just now, or that the Scotsmen will forget to come in for their share? No. You will have to add at least 20 per cent. to that figure, and so the whole of these useful administrative provisions will ultimately cost an expense of something like 694 fourteen or fifteen—and, including last year, perhaps sixteen or seventeen—millions on the country.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I am sure the President of the Board of Education would not make such an interruption as that. To say that we must accept this throwing away of millions in this way because it is only two-or three days' cost of the War—which I think is what the hon. Gentleman said—is an argument which we ought to drop. The War is an unpleasant necessity, and should be no reason for breaking out into extravagance in other directions. On the contrary, we ought to examine every million that is spent in any other direction. This great cost will be an indication to the House that the proposals are very wide, and that they are carried very far. All these excellent principles, which the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and which I myself admire so much and of which the foundation was laid in past days, are carried almost to their full development in this Bill, and there is only one question the House has to ask, and to-which I will call attention for a few minutes—Is the educational machinery of the country as it now exists fitted to realise the great national hopes which we are raising? That is the question. I looked roughly at the Estimates for this Bill, and the expenditure of the Treasury on education this year is to be twenty-five and a-half millions. The rates may be—do not know—much more, and when the vast sum I have already mentioned is added to this, we get to an expenditure of £60,000,000 or £70,000,000 a year. It is not too much if we are fighting the great foe of ignorance and vice intelligently and with good instruments, but if, instead of that, we are fighting with defective instruments and our national machinery is not right, then a heavy responsibility rests on the right hon. Gentleman and on the Board of Education for bringing forward such a vast structure of reforms which, owing to defective machinery, may not attain their full fruition.
I will, therefore, glance for a moment at a system which the right hon. Gentleman did not mention in the sentence of his speech I have quoted. He said he was not going to raise the denominational question or the question of local authority. He might have considered whether the Central Authority, the Board itself, is not 695 capable of some reforms of a valuable character, and whether the Board has really been brought into shape for discharging effectively the great work now thrown on it. If I examine that for a moment or two, I do not make any reflection whatever on the most able assistants the right hon Gentleman has at the Board, especially in that most distinguished Civil servant who is now the Permanent Secretary. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree that that Gentleman is fully worthy of the high rank he occupies amongst the great Civil servants of the country. But these gentlemen would be just as capable as any others of carrying out the wise direction of this House if it could be given to them with regard to a reform of the Board of Education to bring it more into accord with the requirements of the country at the present time. I think the great fault of the Board is that it does not realise the revolution that was effected in education by the Act of 1902. It still interferes too readily and too constantly in the individual schools of the country. It goes back to the old grandmotherly days, and it forgets that Parliament in its wisdom departmentalised this great work, and set up about 320 great authorities—authorities worthy of the respect of this House and everybody in the country—to take charge of the schools in each area, and that all questions of detail ought to be left to them. The work of the Board really is—rightly using the term—that of supervising the authorities more than the schools, and the Board should be able to rest easy in its mind if it is confident that the authorities in every case are capable and are doing their duty. But I feel that it is an ideal very far away from the Board of Education at the present time, and last year the Bill was so full of interferences with the local authorities that it met with a great deal of disfavour in the House, and I believe that is one reason why my right hon. Friend did not proceed with it.
Let me give a concrete example of the sort of thing I struggled with when at the Board of Education. When I went there I found hundreds of clerks engaged in counting the average daily attendance. It struck me as absurd that this should not be left to the local education authority and I then got to this crucial position. I found that a separate cheque was being sent to each school four times a year, and that 90,000 cheques a year were issued, 696 whereas 300, or at most 1,200, cheques were enough if sent, as they ought to be, to the local authority. I could not then get a reform of that kind carried, but I am glad to see in this Bill that a change is going to be made in that respect, and I understand the payments are about to be made to the local education authority.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Herbert Lewis)
It has been the case for years.
§ Mr. LOUGH
No, Sir; my right hon. Friend is mistaken; it was many years after. The payments were made direct to the schools, I am sure, for many years afterwards; but I am very glad the change was made, because it was obviously a change that should have been carried out almost immediately after the 1902 Act was passed. However, since that has been put right, I do not press it any further. If the House will look at the Bill, I will give a concrete illustration, in Clause 8, of the way in which the authorities are still interfered with by my right hon. Friend. If a question is raised as to a child not being efficiently educated, the decision of the local authority will not be accepted on that question, and one parent in any local area may appeal to the Board of Education about one child. I think that is ridiculous. Surely, if these authorities are capable of taking charge of the whole question of education, they can decide a little question like that. In the same Clause, Sub-section (4), if parents are dissatisfied with the provision as regards nursery schools they can appeal to the Board of Education, and a special inquiry will be held. I do not suggest that the Board should not pay attention as to how those matters are dealt with by the local education authority, but I do say that you ought to do it by supervising the authority, and not by recklessly interfering with details of that kind. And so I think that the Board of Education ought to reconsider its position with regard to its relations to the educational system of the country.
I can see one difficulty. It may be said that, while there are many great authori- 697 ties which are splendidly organised bodies, there are other authorities so small, so unsatisfactory, that they cannot be left entirely alone to discharge their important duties. Then we should get in the Bill some provisions for reforming those authorities and for reducing their number, if necessary. But the great principle of delegation to great authorities in the areas was the principle of the Act of 1902, and I think the time has come now when the Board of Education ought to accept it willingly, and not grudgingly, and do everything it can to make those authorities effective. There is a vast amount of overlapping. There is inspection carried on by the Board of Education and also by the local authorities. I believe that ought to cease, and that proper inspectors ought to be maintained by every authority; in short, the Board should see that every branch of the work is effectively carried out, but it should bow to the will of Parliament, and carry it out through the authority, and not independently of it, and by overlapping methods. So much for the central authority.
I should like to make an observation about the local authorities themselves. I do think that their position also will have to be considered, and I would like to ask one question with regard to it. The local authority is supposed to be the county council; indeed, it is mentioned as the local authority in the first Clause. But really the function of these great councils is to appoint a committee which has statutory powers, and the county council itself, which is directly elected, has to hand over to this committee all the functions with regard to education.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Herbert Fisher)
There are many other local authorities besides county councils—much smaller.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I quite agree. I think I have dealt with that point. If they are too small to discharge those great functions, they ought to be united or done away with, and put under a greater authority. I am sure my right hon. Friend will admit that in many of the counties there are many splendid education authorities. We have one in London. The ideal of Parliament was to delegate this work to people on the spot who know the difficulty, and I do think the Board of Education might respond by constructing effective bodies to carry the work out. I think the matter will have to be con- 698 sidered of the county council, which is the elected body, having immediately to hand over all its functions to a committee, which may be largely composed of its own members. I believe that is setting; up the principle of secondary election, which does not work very satisfactorily. We have a case in London at the present time. The education authority agreed to a series of salaries for women teachers, which the women teachers rejected ignominiously, and a petition, I believe, was signed by 10,000 of them. They came to the county council, and the county council unanimously passed a resolution disapproving of the settlement which its own committee had made in the matter.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I do not want to go into that at any length. My point is that the council passed a resolution rejecting the decision of its education committee. That is an unsatisfactory state of things. If the county council is responsible, then the county council ought to have more control than it has under the existing system. I want to ask a direct question. Why is it that the county council alone is referred to in Clause 1 and the local education authority in Clause 2? There is a subtle distinction which I cannot understand. It is to be the duty of the council of every county and county borough to prepare schemes.
§ Mr. FISHER
Because they are authorities for the purpose of Part II. of the Act of 1902 for higher education.
§ Mr. LOUGH
I quite see. I am glad to have that point cleared up. That function of theirs is going to be greatly developed, probably, under this Act. The whole council will really become the educational authority as regards Part II., whereas the committee of the council will still be the local authority for the elementary education. Perhaps the thing will be made clearer to us. I come now to a very thorny subject, and I wish to-say, in the same friendly spirit, if I may say so, that we ought not pass a great measure of this sort without considering the anomalous position in which the non-provided schools continue to exist. I looked through the Debate, and I saw that the hon. Member for Berwick (Sir F. Blake) said on Wednesday night that in a Church of England school he visited' every scholar except three did not belong; 699 to the Church of England. There is an example of the difficulty that exists here. My right hon. Friend, in a sentence, said that they would not disturb the denominational balance. There is not much balance in that school. There is not much balance at all in this question. It is the one privileged denomination which has created what has been the Nonconformist difficulty in connection with this great matter, by the exercise of authority—which I only desire to look at from one point of view—which is fatal to realising any great ideal of educational reform. Consider one aspect of it—the small class. We have 2,000 schools—certainly quite 1,000 schools—where the average attendance is not more than thirty. Realise what that school is like as an educational centre. Thirty children for one distracted teacher, even if he has an assistant—fifteen boys and fifteen girls from five to fourteen! These difficulties of the small schools are very real difficulties, where you have the teacher not appointed by the local authority, and the local authority having no power over the teacher, and very restricted powers even over the building. It is all very well for us here to build these castles in the air about this educational system, but we ought to remember that more than half the schools of the country belong to denominations, and that the work of education will be carried on in buildings and by individuals, it may be, quite unfitted for the great duties which this House is putting upon them. I say that without at all desiring to raise the religious difficulty. I am one of those who never saw any difficulty in settling the religious difficulty without dispute. I do not believe there is any strong sentiment in this country against children receiving facilities to obtain the teaching of religious questions that their parents may desire in connection with the school.
§ Mr. LOUGH
Certainly not. It is now at the expense of the denomination. Provided that facilities might be given for that sort of thing, it is not necessary to say anything against it, but to claim in the name of religion that you must have smaller schools preserved eternally, which cannot be good educational establishments, that you must carry on the work in buildings which are not satis- 700 factory, is a different matter. I think that all the evils might be guarded against, and that facilities might be given which would satisfy the great majority, if not all, of the parents; and, indeed, if the whole scheme were worked out in the Bill of 1906, you could have secured a broad national system of education, instead of the faulty structure which exists at the present time. Let me state the only caveat I have against the Bill. Magnificent ideals are raised once more before us. These administrative provisions are of the highest value, but I do think it rests with the Board of Education especially, and with my right hon. Friend, to consider whether the machinery which is to carry out the provisions of Parliament is really fitted to do it, whether it is really in its power to do it, or whether such vast and important reforms should be brought into activity until an intelligible structure is built up which will give this House some assurance that the work will be carried on.
§ Sir WILLIAM COLLINS
I can recall many Second Reading Debates on Education Bills, some of which have been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. I cannot recall any Second Reading of any Education Bill hitherto which received such a general chorus of approval as has thus far accompanied the measure which the right hon. Gentleman has introduced. I gather from the three interesting addresses which he delivered to this House that he considered the War has exhibited the full range of our educational deficiency, and the measure he introduces is prompted by the deficiences revealed by the War. As we should expect from a largo-minded educationist, as the right hon. Gentleman is, he has envisaged the whole problem before him from a broad standpoint. He has, however, reminded us that our national system of education may neither be described as national nor as a system, and he told us he "sees his way to a really systematic and many-sided development of the organism of public education." He does not profess to cover the whole field. He does not touch the, question of university government—a problem which, I venture to say, he may find a rather difficult and thorny one when he comes to approach it. But he properly described the Bill as "a measure of far-reaching social reform." He lays down the principle that "education should be education of the whole man—spiritual, intellectual, physical—so that mind and body and character 701 may be harmoniously developed," and, as the right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House has said, the President does not propose to touch the machinery of 1902. He says he" assumes the administrative structure of the Act of 1902," and that no radical alteration of that machinery is suggested to supersede "the education settlement of 1902." The right hon. Gentleman is, no doubt, aware that there were many in 1902 who did not regard that as a settlement at all, and there are some who still regard it in that light.
Although I do not for one moment want to fan the embers of an old controversy, I have very little doubt that when conditions are more normal we may hear something again as to denominational teachers being paid out of public funds, and the grievances of the single-school areas. Nothing, after all, is settled unless it is settled right, and there are some of us who think that there are blots on the so-called settlement of 1902 which cannot remain permanent. I came into considerable contact with the Education Act of 1902, and the Act applying it to London of 1903, because I happened to be the first chairman of the first education committee of the London County Council, which on the appointed day, 1st May, 1904, was con-fronted with the gigantic operation of swallowing the London School Board. On that day we came into possession of 1,000 schools; we became responsible for the education of 800,000 children, for the payment of 25,000 teachers, and for an expenditure of £5,0000,000 a year That was a difficult task, and one that taxed the committee of the London County Council to the uttermost. Moreover, we were accused by some of our friends of having been guilty of the destruction of the London School Board, which I need hardly say was not the case, but we were very conscious at the time of the acute controversy between those in favour of an ad hoc authority for education and those in favour of the municipal body.
I believe a similar controversy is raging in Scotland at present, and it is possible that that controversy may have some reflex in this country in connection with this subject. Personally, I was always favourable to the municipal authority being the education authority. I agree with John Stuart Mill when he said that there should be "one elective body for all local business, not different bodies 702 for different parts of it," providing that it is an elective authority that does the work of education. That was the view of Mr. Forster in 1870, and it was only subsequently his Bill was altered in favour of ad hoc authorities. I remember the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, when he introduced the Bill in 1902, saying that "it would induce some persons to seek civichonours who had never thought of doing so before," and that "no central Department could so well judge as those whom the parents of the children elect." That would be all very well if the education committees were composed only of elected persons, and the first London County Council Education Committee was so composed, except that women who were then ineligible for the council were co-opted. Under a later dispensation that has been altered. But it is no use arguing that you can induce people of educational character to enter if you open a back door to co-opted members to take their seats on these education committees, and who may themselves initiate expenditure, and yet be in no way responsible to the ratepayer. That, at any rate, is not a step in the direction of democratic control. But that is by the way.
In regard to the Bill, I should only like to express my entire approval of the proposal to abolish the half-timer. In the constituency I have the honour to represent, the borough of Derby, I believe there are no half-timers, and the Chamber of Commerce of that borough is entirely favourable to the educational and industrial proposals in the. Bill. I approve of the further limitation of child labour, provided that the restrictions do not cause undue resentment or hardship. The extension of the school age must also universally commend itself: and as to the institution of nursery schools in. place of the infant department, I think that a change entirely in the right direction. The right hon. Gentleman is probably aware that there is a good deal of lack of discrimination between the work of the nursery school, the creche, and infant welfare centres at the present time, which will need clearing up in any future administrative action, and I believe in this as in other matters the reconstructional reformer will have to endeavour to see how he can perform these duties without overriding parental rights or lessening parental responsibility.
As regards the encouragement or establishment of continuation schools for chil- 703 dren between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, I confess I felt it a reproach that, after sixty years of public elementary education, we seem to have failed to make national education so attractive to young persons and so obviously advantageous to the parent that it is deemed necessary to exercise compulsion and to apply the policeman in order to secure attendance at continuation schools. As regards the physical welfare portion of the Bill, I should like to give my support to most of the modifications it contains. The institution of camps, gymnasia, and swimming baths are all to the good. The right hon. Gentleman said that" one of the great dates in our social history was the establishment of the school medical service in 1907." I remember very well the Debates, in which I took part, on the institution of those important provisions. Inasmuch as the State has said that for nine years children of the age of five to fourteen, for 200 days in the year, and for five hours a day, are to be in a certain place for the benefit of their mental welfare, the State cannot divorce itself of part responsibility at any rate for the child's physical welfare.
I remember the Debates in 1906 and 1907, when some people were anxious that we should have what they called an anthropometric survey by way of medical inspection. I pointed out at the time that the inspection might take the humbler but perhaps more useful form of discovering the existence of verminous heads and visual and other defects. I remember horrifying the House by the statement that out of 119,000 children inspected no fewer than 44,000 had verminous heads, or about one out of every four. The amount of good work done in this respect since that time is beyond all praise. I remember it was said that the medical officer had stated that out of 6,000,000 children in public elementary schools probably 1,000,000 present some kind of defect or other. I remember that the hon. Member for North Bristol (Mr. Birrell),and the hon. Member for Berwickshire (Mr. Tennant) said they were in favour of medical inspection, but not in favour of medical treatment. There was an Act passed in 1909 giving the power to recover the cost of medical treatment from the parent, but I believe that has been largely a dead letter, although I believe some prosecu- 704 tions have been carried out under the Children Act for failure to call in medical attendance. The Education (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1907, to which the right hon. Gentleman who last spoke referred, made it the duty of the local authority to provide medical inspection, and gave "power to make arrangement for attending to the health and physical condition of the children," and it was stated that if they exercised this power the local authorities would "encourage and assist the establishment and continuation of voluntary agencies." I venture to think there has been some variation in regard to the use of voluntary agencies on behalf of the Board. The notion now is that a school clinic is the important institution, and the voluntary agency subsidiary.
As the hon. Member for London University (Sir P. Magnus) indicated, medical inspection and treatment are being spread over a much larger area now, as it is being applied to secondary schools, and very large considerations will come under review. I notice that the British Medical Association is already in revolt, and no doubt some consideration will have to be paid to their representations. As the hon. Member indicated, the whole question comes very close to the proposal for the establishment of a Ministry of Health, about which we have had many answers in this House from the Front Bench which have left a doubt as to whether the Government have or have not decided in favour of a Ministry of Health. All these questions of medical inspection and treatment will certainly have to be reconsidered in the light of any such proposal if it is introduced and carried through this House. Now I agree entirely with those hon. Members who have urged that the great centre of our educational system is the teacher, and that anything that can be done to raise the status, improve the character and widen the outlook of our teachers would be entirely to the good. I have had the pleasure of knowing, personally, many of the teachers in the London service, and I know that many of the best of them deplore that their opportunities did not offer more width for culture and a broader outlook, they regret that their opportunities in this respect have been so limited, and that they have not been able to apply greater power to the; great and noble calling to which they have set their hands. Apart from the 705 mere physical aspects of education, there are the moral aspects. I cannot help thinking from such experience as I had as Chairman of the Education Committee of the London County Council, that between the rather meagre spirituality of Cowper-Templeism on the one hand and the strong doctrinal flavour of denominationalism on the other hand, scant attention has been paid to personal, social and civic duties and virtues, and to that moral instruction which ought to be common to all religions.
The President of the Board of Education says that he does not raise the denominational question, but he says he is not afraid of it. I am not so sure that it will not be raised in the Committee stage of this Bill. After all, after fifty-eight years of a national system of elementary education, and forty-two years of compulsory elementary education, when you are endeavouring to extend the period and influence of State education, and raising the age at which it should be applied, we are entitled to reflect and to consider what are the models and methods which we desire to follow and imitate, and what we ought to avoid. Reference has repeatedly been made in the Debates to the wonderful system of Prussia, from Matthew Arnold to Lord Haldane, educational reformers have looked towards the Prussian model for imitation. There, at any rate, those three words which are ever on the lips of educational reformers, efficiency, organisation and co-ordination, have received their fullest development and their amplest recognition. It is a curious thing that William von Humboldt, who was responsible for the Prussian system, and laid it down that''Education lies quite outside the limits within which Government should confine its operations,should himself falsify his own doctrine by becoming the Director of State Education in Prussia. A century of Prussian education has shown a departure from the earlier philosophy of Humboldt, Kant, Fichte, and Goethe, and this has been replaced by the ethics of Nietzsche and the historical philosophy of Treitschke. I think we may well ask whether we are satisfied with the result of the hundred years of State education in Prussia. We find in it a soulless realism and State idolatry which we desire to avoid in any educational reform in this country, and I cannot help thinking that it is by further regard for moral instruction and the incul- 706 cation of will-power and social and civil duties that we should look for a better state of things. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman spoke of a "moral purpose contained in the Bill." In the code of 1904, which is still in operation, it states:The purpose of the public elementary school is to form and strengthen the character and develop the intelligence of the children entrusted to it.In the Code of 1905 there are some "Suggestions for the consideration of teachers," and they include'The good moral training which a school should give cannot be left to chance."I remember going with a deputation in 1906 to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol (Mr. Birrell) and also to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Runciman) urging that greater importance should be given to instruction of that kind, tending to improve character and conduct. I believe it was through the action of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol that moral instruction was introduced into the Code, but it has not received that systematic and careful consideration which is necessary to make it form a regular part of the curriculum which is really desirable. I know the great difficulties. The moment you touch moral instruction the religious question comes in. I should be the last to deny that religion gives force and colour and sanction and sanctity to all moral instruction, but there is a large gap which is not filled up at the present time. With hygiene on the one hand and religion on the other there is a largo intermediate realm occupied by such instruction as cleanliness of body and mind, orderliness, punctuality in the performance of duties, good manners, fortitude, kindness, self-respect and self-sacrifice. These form an ascending series. If on the one hand you assert that moral instruction has its base in the physical and physiological, one must also admit that on the other hand it has its crown in religion. I think it was Plutarch who wrote:Men learn to play on the harp, to dance and to read, to farm and to ride on horseback, and all these things cannot be properly performed without being taught. The art of good living alone—though all those things T have mentioned exist on its account—is untaught, unmethodical, inartistic and supposed to come by the light, of nature.By giving too much attention to physical education one perhaps may produce a good animal, but not a good man; by overmuch attention to intellectual education you may produce a prig, but if you leave out the 707 moral instruction, under the high sanction of religion if you will, unless you give greater attention to these considerations, no educational reform or Education Bill will be of much avail and we shall be liable to suffer from the reproach, "These things ye ought to have done, and not to have left the others undone."
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I do not propose to follow my hon. Friend in his very eloquent speech dealing with the formation of character. I have had the honour of being present at some of the meetings when the President of the Board of Education addressed working men upon this particular Bill, and let me at once say that I wish the course the right hon. Gentleman has pursued in this matter had been followed by previous Presidents of the Board. The right hon. Gentleman has gone down among our own people where the need for education is great, and he has talked to them about this Bill, and what he intends to do for them in the Bill itself, and he has suggested to them that if they have any Amendments or suggestions to make in the Bill that he would be very glad to receive them. At every great demonstration of organised workmen which he has addressed it has been made clear that this Bill is unanimously endorsed and approved. It is quite true that hon. Members have been inundated with resolutions in favour of this measure. That has been my experience and I say that because I understand there may be some employers who do not look with favour on the Bill itself. I am not going to take strong exception to their opinions except to say I think they are wrong. It has always seemed to me that one of the reasons for the failure of some of our industries in the markets of the world has been due to the fact that we have not made provision for seeing that those engaged in those particular trades understand the principles underlying their craft or industry, and they have been taught largely by rule of thumb.
Recently, I have taken an opportunity of reading the old English indentures of my apprenticeship, and I rejoice in its terminology. I was legally bound to an employer to learn the art and craft of cabinet making, and that involved the best he could do. We had no technical schools in those days, and it has always been a very astounding thing to me that with those circumstances of limitation British manufacturers have been able to stand the 708 test of time. I hope that as a result of a Bill of this character our own people will have opportunities, which they have never had before,' of learning their industries and crafts on those scientific principles, which govern the ordinary practice in the workshop and on the bench. I rejoice that this Bill has fixed the age at which children can leave school, and I am glad that it will not now be compulsory for them to leave at fourteen years of age.
I beg hon. Members to appreciate the fact that although the stumbling block in this reform ten years ago would have been opposition from the parents of the children, that opposition has now gone completely by the board. During this War, or since the War commenced and up to now, I venture to say that if you were to test any of the still lowly paid artisan fathers or mothers upon this question they would now agree that whatever their loss of income might be that their children should have a better chance of being educated by being kept longer at school than they were. I compliment the President of the Board of Education on the courage he has shown in entirely abolishing the half-timer. In 1898, I happened to-be President of the Trade Union Congress at Bristol, and I said some very severe things about the cotton operatives in their persistence in regard to the half-time system. I am glad to say that the cotton operatives have had this matter under consideration many times since then, and I understand that a vote is now being taken upon this question. I do not want to-prophesy, but I feel very sure that that ballot will be in favour of the Clauses contained in this Bill on this subject, and' then the half-timer will be gone for ever. My hon. Friend the Member for Hull the other day said that he thought this Bill' did not encourage parental responsibility in the matter of education. What I think he meant was, seeing that continuation schools are to be set up and that provision is being made for co-operation and federation to come into this matter, it would be a good thing if by any manner of means the parents could be brought into some form of federation of association. Frankly, I do not know how it could be done, but I hope it will be possible for the very able officials under the Board itself to so frame Regulations or even amend the Clause, if need be, so that the parents should be brought in.
Let me put a case. T can quite imagine-a continuation school being set up with a 709 whole list of subjects in the curriculum of that school, many of them dealing with industries. I should object very strongly to any particular body of people having the right to say that a boy of my own must become a house painter when the boy himself wanted to become a cabinetmaker, or that a girl of mine must become a domestic help when she wanted to go in for dressmaking. If the parent could be brought into co-operation with a committee of that character, it would afford a very valuable aid to the continuation schools. The President laid great stress on the fact that in a sense parents now were brought in. That is true with regard to the elementary schools, but I should like to sec thorn more closely associated in the work of the committee we are about to create—they could be brought in with regard to continuation schools and instruction it: technical subjects. I would draw the President's attention to Clause 3, Subsection (2). That Sub-section, and, indeed, the whole Clause, provides that schemes in the matter of continuation schools shall be submitted to the local authority. I do not want to introduce the denominational controversy at all—am simply putting a case—but I can imagine that the Roman Catholic community, for instance, might have buildings which they were prepared to place at the disposal of the local authority for continuation schools, and I suggest that they ought not to be turned down by the local education authority without the right of appeal to the Board. I agree that the Board should have absolute control in these matters and that there should be no controversy when the Board has given its final decision, but many sections of the community have opportunities in this direction, and, if they offer their buildings for the establishment of these schools, they ought to have the right of appeal in the event of the local authority turning them down.
We have raised the age for the elementary schools from twelve, and we have raised the age for compulsory attendance at continuation schools to eighteen. I do not object, but there is just a little unfairness in the matter. You have three ages instead of two. You have fourteen for the elementary schools, and you have eighteen for the continuation schools, but if a boy has been to a secondary school up to the age of sixteen he can claim exemption from attendance at the continuation schools till he is eighteen.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
As my hon. Friend says, he has exemption. That means that boys of parents whose incomes are just above the average of working-class incomes, and who therefore are able to send them to secondary schools, may go into the world and into business at sixteen years of age, whereas boys whose parents are not so well off will have to continue attendance at the continuation schools until eighteen years of age. The President, in reply to my hon. And gallant Friend the Member for Hull (Colonel Sir M. Sykes), made a declaration in reference to Clause 38. My hon. and gallant Friend pointed out that the Clause was vague. I am very glad that the declaration of the President's has removed from my mind, and I understand from the mind of my hon. and gallant Friend, the uneasiness that we had before that declaration was made, but I still think that the Clause might be made more definite and more clear, and as you are setting out to educate you ought to set a good example by putting into the Bill something like phraseology that can be understood by the ordinary average man. It is a Clause of tremendous length, and there is not one full-stop in it. I was going to suggest that it would puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer to understand it. That being so, I still plead with the President that the Clause should be made clear and should be compressed, so that the people who will have to administer the Bill when it becomes an Act, will understand where they are. Like the great majority of the Members—in fact, I believe all the Members of this House—want to thank the President for having brought forward this Bill. As far as I am personally concerned, and as far as those with whom I am associated, both politically and from a religious point of view are concerned, we shall be glad if certain small Amendments, which I believe are non-controversial, can be made. We all bless the Bill, and hope that it will soon become an Act of Parliament.
I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of this Bill would not have been surprised if from certain quarters of the House some objections had been raised to this measure being introduced in this Parliament and in these times. It must be admitted that the anxieties with which we are all faced at this moment are large enough, and it may be considered that 711 every effort and every thought should be concentrated upon the War—indeed, that it should almost be education for war rather than education for peace. This can be the sole ground for objection to the measure now before the House, and, although I sympathise to a very large extent with those who take that ground, I do not rise to-night for the purpose of supporting them if they oppose the Second Reading of this Bill. As a matter of fact, there is every justification for introducing such a measure. If, as I believe it is generally admitted, that reconstruction after the War is of paramount importance, and that steps for that purpose should be introduced now, it does appear to me that not the least important part of the structure which should be overhauled and strengthened is the foundation upon which we are to build. It is because I look upon education as the foundation of the whole of our social fabric that I think there is every justification for this Bill being introduced at the present time. The objects of the Bill, as I read them, are to improve elementary education and to extend the opportunities for higher and advanced instruction to all those who are able and willing to take advantage of them. I do not think anyone could possibly dissent from such proposals and such provisions. These opportunities, as the hon. Member who has just spoken has said, are demanded in the country, and I firmly believe that they are expected.
I fear that I do not find myself in total agreement with many of the proposals in the Bill, especially as regards compulsory attendance at continuation schools till the age of eighteen years. I do not believe that the proposal for compulsion to seventeen and even after eighteen will really be appreciated by the parents or by the young persons themselves, and I feel quite sure, on the whole, that it will not be appreciated by the business community of this country. If I might put myself in the position of a parent of children of sixteen or seventeen or eighteen, I would say that I should resent any State interference with what I should consider was my parental privilege and responsibility of judging what was best for my children after they had reached the age of sixteen years. By compulsion and by attaching penalties to the provision, the State in my belief—perhaps I go a little bit too far—almost 712 suggests that it cannot trust people to realise their responsibilities as regards their children. The State should certainly offer every possible opportunity, and, above all, they should show the advantages that may be gained by people accepting those opportunities; but when the children arrive at a certain age the parental judgment should be allowed 1o act absolutely unfettered. I believe, if the opportunities were made entirely voluntary, that they would be taken advantage of to the very utmost.
The right hon. Gentleman the other day made the assertion, no doubt quite correctly, that the State must consider the general welfare of the citizens and not merely the particular interests of this or that industry. I agree. Undoubtedly the object of education really is the production of the best possible citizen, but if I am right—am not sure about, it—a huge percentage of the children of this country who are educated in the elementary schools find their way into one business or another, and, if the business of the country depends to a very large extent for its efficiency and its prosperity upon the results of education, then the interests of the State can best be served by education being so regulated and so ordered, both in its objects and in its extent, that there is kept always in view the ultimate and most useful purposes to which it is likely to be put. I am old-fashioned enough—I am afraid I cannot claim to be anything of a modern educationist—to believe, provided children have a really sound full-time education—am glad to see it extended to the age of fourteen, and I should like to see them have every assistance that can possibly be given for instruction up to the age of sixteen—that in a great business community the benefit to the individual and to the State would probably be greatest if those children then came and learned by practical experience the trades from which they have to make, their livelihood.
I am glad to see there is a general desire in this House and in the country, and that provisions are to be made, I hope at once, for improving the position and remuneration of the teachers in these schools. It is generally admitted now that in the past the treatment and pay of those who have to carry the enormous responsibility of the education of the generations of this country upon their shoulders have been not only a disastrous 713 mistake, but have been bad business and a national folly. The underpaying of teachers is not confined merely to the elementary schools. I believe it is a fact that the junior masters in our great public schools are most fearfully underpaid. This is a matter which, if it is going to be dealt with in the elementary schools, might reach up to the higher schools. The teaching profession should have an acknowledged social position and remuneration which are likely to attract to it, because it is a noble profession, the very best possible available material. The interests of the State demand that not only should the teachers be possessed of considerable intellectual power, but also that they should be of high character and uncompromisingly independent.
There is one Clause in. the Bill upon which I beg to be allowed to offer the right hon. Gentleman my congratulations and my gratitude. Those of us who have had the privilege of an education in well-ordered schools can realise the enormous advantages we received from well-ordered games and well-ordered physical exercises. To many of us that side of school life was, on the whole, the most attractive i have often expressed my personal belief and hope that those advantages, which we all realise we got when we were at school, should be extended to the elementary school of this country. I am delighted to think that under Clause 17 of this Bill there is likely to be a genuine effort made in that direction. A school which is only a school is not a very attractive place for healthy and vigorous boys and girls, but a school which has attached to it opportunities for healthy pleasure and where healthy pleasure can be enjoyed is attractive, and these things will be considered by those who go to such a school as well worth going to that school to obtain. The more attractive you can make these schools the better the results you will get from them. I confess I have always believed most strongly in the efficacy of applying education to children from the human point of view. First of all, I should like to see the education go to the heart of the child. I want to see the children possessed of courage, kindness, chivalry, loyalty and pride of country. If you have the heart sound you have made a very good beginning. Then I should like to see the body gone for and physical fitness secured. Physical fitness in any child will breed happiness and contentment. I believe that with a physically fit body a child is most 714 likely to be morally sound. If you only have the heart sound and the body fit the mind more readily responds to everything of the best that is offered to it and takes it in well. Then you will have every opportunity of producing men and women who will be able to hold their own in the country and prove a credit to it.
§ Major E. WOOD
I am sure the House has listened with much pleasure to the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down. There is nobody better qualified than he to urge upon the right hon. Gentleman the advantages of what he calls physical education in addition to the education that is more clearly intellectual I confess that while he blessed the Bill I was in some doubt whether in the act of blessing it he was not making reservations that would lead him at a later stage into an attitude of some opposition. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said broadly—I do not wish to go into details for the moment—that he doubted very much whether the parents in the country, on the whole, would be prepared to support these proposals, which would place them under the compulsory necessity of having their children educated up to the age of eighteen. I imagine he would hold the view that these parents would grudge the withdrawal of their children from the opportunities of earning money. I confess that I am much more disposed to believe—having no special knowledge—the view of the hon. Member for East Leeds (Mr. O'Grady) who just now said that he had no doubt that parents preferred the education of their children to their financial earnings. I do not say that there will not be a good many hard cases. I do not say there may not be a good many cases in which the opposite view will be held, but I agree with the hon. Member for East Leeds particularly for the reason that the feeling for education in the country at the present moment is one echo of what I conceive to be the general feeling of the country that has been evoked by the War, in the sense that the whole body of political aspirations in the country is, when analysed, the race instinct which strives and will strive more and more in the years that are coming to repair and recreate the waste of war by such things as health, housing, and tremendously by education. I cannot think it accidental that a number of poor parents whom I have bad the opportunity of meeting and whom other hon. Members will have had many opportunities of meeting, were prepared to 715 do anything if only they could secure a better education for their children than they have had themselves. It is as one of the links in what I call that chain of political aspiration that education ought to be placed. All that is part of the common war mind of the country, which is that the War is not worth going on with unless you can protect the children from the perils through which this generation has had to go. Therefore I judge, and I believe the country judges, of education as one of the avenues to what they hope it will be a better life through which this recreation can be made. On that ground I agree, without any hesitation, that the Government's recognition of the national mentality is justified purely as a war measure.
I also agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Jackson) that the Government was right to introduce such a measure, because if education is necessary at any time it is essential now. Our political institutions and the achievements of the country are the least common multiple of national thought. We therefore have to get our national thought as good as we can. The movement of thought in the next generation is going to be rapid beyond anything we have known, and the boundaries of criticism are going to be more widely drawn. It is most essential, as one of my friends said to me only the other day, that when your system of education has had the effect of teaching people to be able (o follow a syllogism, it should also go a stage further and teach them to detect a fallacy, which hitherto has not been done. The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) urged arguments which I really think were conclusive against any system of education at all. According to those arguments, we have been on the wrong track for the last half-century. I do not think ho has many supporters. There will not be many hon. Members who will shrink from these proposals on the ground of expense. I have no hesitation in meeting any arguments of those who fear the strain on an already over-strained Exchequer, because I ask them to distinguish in their national finance exactly as the humblest man of business distinguishes in his own personal business finance, namely, between expenditure that is in fact investment and expenditure from which you look for no returns. I would ask anybody who is disposed to hesitate at the expenditure to look at 716 these proposals as an investment which is designed to pay interest in the shape of greater opportunity, of progress, of contentment, and of the development of a free nation. Let us, however, on that point be under no misapprehension, because—as hon. Members have well said, and I make no apology for repeating it; it is the bedrock of the question—it is idle to look for any result from the best devised system, and from the most carefully constructed curricula, without the living influence of the teacher. The best system without that will fail. It is for this reason that we look with especial hope to the right hon. Gentleman's proposals with regard to the position of the teacher—for his status, and for his pension. It is a recognised rule of public administration that if you want good work from public servants you must pay them well, and I would ask my hon. Friends what public servant there is who is doing greater and more valuable public work to-day than the teachers in your public elementary schools, and yet we, as a nation, cannot hold our consciences clear of the reproach of having attempted to get work from these public servants at salaries which were not adequate to the work we were asking them to do? I should like everyone to consider the teacher in everytown, village, and hamlet throughout the length and breadth of the country as a missionary of the gospel of citizenship, exactly as the minister, of whatever religion or denomination, ought to be the missionary of the gospel of religion. The State and the Churches have their twin influences, if they use them rightly, with which to build up the best form of citizenship
I should like to say one word as a plea for country schools and country teachers. The right hon. Gentleman knows better than I do how different the conditions prevailing in the country districts are. He knows, also, very well what need there will be for elasticity in the administration of this Bill, if it becomes an Act, with regard to the country districts. Those of us who represent agricultural constituencies will wish to examine some of the points in which the agricultural interest is affected in Committee, but I would not have it thought, as might have been thought from one or two remarks which were made earlier in the Debate, that the agricultural interest, as an interest, has any intention of standing out, even if it were allowed to stand out, of a national 717 system or of national progress in education. Only let us recognise that the task of teaching children in the country is difficult, if not more difficult, than the task of teaching them in the town. At least the qualities which make for a successful country teacher are, unless my experience has been singularly unfortunate, almost more rare than are the qualities which make for a successful town teacher. I have no doubt it is largely the result of the effect of demand and supply. The effect of high salaries creates the drift into the town, which operates to the disadvantage of the country, 'and I want to plead with the right hon. Gentleman—I know the difficulties—that, if possible, it should be recognised by him and by those who work under him that the country is, after all, the breeding-ground from which the best of the nation's stock is drawn, and it pays you, and will pay you, to treat this problem of the country teacher on lines as generous as you can reasonably concede, because the children who are running about the villages to-day are the parents of tomorrow, and it will be their children who will be drifting into your towns and providing your town stock in the next generation.
I think all of us in this House who care for these things, and there are few who do not, cannot fail to be gratified, and I think the right hon. Gentleman cannot fail to be gratified, with the reception which has been given to this Bill. I would say one word to Churchmen, of whom I am one, and members of any other Churches than my own. In the past Education Bills, un fortunately, have been identified with more or less acute religious controversy. No doubt those people who felt that principles which they valued were in danger were right to defend them, but the effect on the public mind has been little short of disastrous. The public has asked whether the Churches really care for education as they have seen every Education Bill become the subject of bitter controversy in which education was swamped by religious feeling, and we are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for having given an opportunity to all those people who have differed in the past on this acute subject of being able now to put their forces together and give him the warmest measure of support they can and vindicate the reality of their sympathy and their desire to assist him in promoting what I believe will be a most valuable reform.
§ General HICKMAN
I think the right hon. Gentleman must be getting almost tired of the eulogies which he is receiving from all quarters of the House, and it might, perhaps, be a little diversion to experience some opposition. I am rather inclined to agree with my hon. Friend (Mr. Peto). Coming along in the train to-day I read a leading article in the "Times" which, in my opinion, gave quite a wrong impression of what occurred in this Debate last Wednesday. It said the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Harmood-Banner) had said that the report of the special committee of the Federation of British Industries on the Education Bill was not accepted by the council of the federation, and therefore any opposition which my hon. Friend (Mr. Peto) had put forth in his speech was quite wiped out by the speech of the hon. Baronet. These are not really the facts. I have seen some of the people of the federation since, and, though they are not generally in opposition to the Bill in principle, they do not think the proposals are the best means to the end. They object that if you are a sailor and are moving with a convoy of ships the pace of the convoy is that of the slowest ship. To carry it a little further, you have to keep back a brilliant boy so as to bring up a slow one. That is the evident outcome of this proposition of the continuation schools. They think, on the contrary, that when you have got to the age of fourteen the teacher and the parent and the boy will be sufficiently acquainted with his intellectual prospects to decide whether he is fitted for further education or not, and whether it is not losing time to teach him stuff which will be of no use in the future and keep him from learning practically a technical trade which will do good to himself, to his family, and to his country. The federation also think there is not sufficient machinery at present to turn out the teachers necessary for this great measure. To push a grout measure like this on to the general public when the teachers are not ready seems to me a little hurried. I am told that even at present there are over 20,000 teachers away at the War; and how are you going to start during the War?
§ General HICKMAN
I am glad to hear it, but I had not noticed it before. All I could find out from the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and from the Bill, was that there was to be a day, which might be 719 to-morrow or in ten years' time. I hope it will be in ten years' time. I am not in opposition to the principle of the Bill, Dm I think it is not opportune. In the first place, during the War and directly after the War we want to get the best possible output from all our manufactures. If you are going to keep the boys between sixteen and eighteen away from the workshops in the cotton spinning trade, and if you are going to keep them away from the coal mines, those two trades are of such enormous importance that you will diminish the power of the country generally; and it is vital not only to get the proper turn-out for munitions during the War, but to get the largest possible production of manufactured articles directly after the War, so that we can make money in order to pay for the War.
Further, I do not believe it is good or even proper for what we might call almost a moribund Parliament to legislate on such enormous lines as this in the eighth year of its life without consulting the people who are actually affected by it. I can only judge from my own Constituency, but I am perfectly certain if I were to take a plebiscite of the working men there they would all be against it. I heard a gentleman in Lancashire who will be affected by it talking the other day, and when he heard what it was, and that boys were going to be taken between sixteen and eighteen, he said, "All I can say is that we will get no more of them." The right hon. Gentleman made a most delightful speech, but I did not see any sympathy in it towards the workmen of the trades which are going to suffer. He seemed to me to say, "It is for the good of the country, and you have got to take it and make the best of it." That did not confirm me much in support of the Bill. Under the circumstances, and knowing pretty well the opinion of my own Constituency, if my hon. Friend (Mr. Pet) takes his Motion into the Division Lobby, I shall follow him.
§ Mr. HERBERT LEWIS
The Debate to which we have listened to-day and on Wednesday last has ranged over a large variety of topics as might be expected. I think it will be agreed that, with very few exceptions, there is a general consensus of opinion in the House, as I believe there is a general consensus of opinion in the country, that the time has come for a great advance in education. I think hon. Members will agree with me 720 that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education has every reason to congratulate himself and the cause of education upon the reception of his Bill in the House and the country. Perhaps, before I proceed to deal with some of the broader issues of the Bill, I might refer to some specific questions asked in the course of the Debate. The hon. Member for East Leeds (Mr. O'Grady) and the hon. and gallant Member for the Central Division of Hull (Colonel Sir Mark Sykes) have found some obscurity in Clause 38.and have asked for some explanation. That Clause does two things. In the first place, it abolishes all Grants for elementary education which rest on Statutes, and in the second place it gives to the local education authorities a new statutory security that; the Government contributions to education, whether they be contributions for elementary or higher education, shall not be less than-50 per cent. of the not expenditure upon education. The reason for the abolition of the statutory Grants is this. The system of Grants grew up as a system of Grants to individual schools. That was before the local education, authorities came into existence. Many of the Grants rested on regulations, but there were some, as, for example, the Grant for the freeing of education, which rested on Statute, and some of the Grants were later on referred to in Statutes. It was assumed that the Grants would be paid by the Board to the managers of a particular school.
The right hon. Member for Islington (Mr. Lough) this evening was under the impression that the Board of Education was still continuing the. old system of paying separate Grants to each separate school. He was under the impression that 9000,000 cheques were being sent to 90,000 schools in the course of the year. That system came to an end after the passing of the Education Act of 1902, and the last of the 90,000 cheques was paid finally in 1905. The old system is now entirely out of date. The Board deal with the local authorities. They pay Grants for all the schools to the local authority. At the same time there is a considerable amount of labour involved in calculating the Grants school by school. So far as it can be done by regulation alone, the Board at the present time, and I believe with the entire assent of the local education authorities, base any new Grants they may make for 721 elementary education on the area and not on the individual school. But there is an impediment to the complete carrying out of this principle, namely, that some Grants are, by existing Statutes, tied down to the obsolete basis of being calculated and paid for each school separately. What we propose to do is to repeal those parts of the Statutes which set up Grants for elementary education. In the case of higher education, I ought to explain that there have been no statutory Grants, and therefore there is no reason for repealing any Statutes.
In regard to the second point, namely, the statutory guarantee of the 50 per cent. minimum, that is a new feature in our Grant system. The Grants for elementary education have been to some extent consolidated, and brought into relation with expenditure, and they now range from about 40 per cent. of the expenditure in the richest areas, to very much higher proportions in the poorer areas. We shall by this Clause bring this minimum up so that it will stand at 50 per cent. instead of 40 per cent. In the field of higher education the Grants have not been consolidated to anything like the same extent. The ratio which they happen to bear to the expenditure of the local education authorities varies from area to area over a considerable range. it is desirable, especially in view of the increase we shall have to make in our expenditure on higher education, that our Grants for higher education should be consolidated to a greater extent than they are at the present time, and that they should be brought into closer relation with the finance of the local authority. Clause 38, establishing a minimum of 50 per cent. of the expenditure, will be the first step towards that desirable end. Nobody will be hurt by it, and those authorities which at the present time receive from the State less than 50 per cent. will benefit by having their Grants brought up to that standard, and all will have for the future the security and protection, which they have never had before, of that statutory guarantee.
We estimate that, on the present figures, it will cost the Exchequer about£850,000 to bring the Grants for elementary education up to 50 per cent. of the expenditure in those areas where at present they fall below that standard. In the case of higher education, on the present figures it will cost about£65,000 to bring the Grants up to 50 per cent. I ought to ex- 722 plain that in higher education we include as a State contribution not only the Board of Education Grants, but also the whisky money. It is the Grants plus the whisky money that must be 50 per cent. of the expenditure. The hon. Member for East Leeds, and I think one or two other hon. Members, complain of the manner in which this particular Clause is expressed. Perhaps to the uninitiated eye it does look a little obscure, but we have been obliged to put it in this particular form, because other Departments than the Board of Education are concerned in this matter. We have been obliged to draft the Clause in this way so as to make it cover the whole 50 per cent in every instance. If there is any suggestion for a better drafting of the Clause in the Committee stage, I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend will give every possible attention and consideration to any suggestion of the kind.
I come now to some questions asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras (Sir Willoughby Dickinson) on the same Clause. The Clause empowers the Board to make Regulations for the purpose of calculating the Grants payable under that section, and it makes that Grant applicable to the net expenditure recognised by the Board as expenditure in aid of which Parliamentary Grants should be made by the authority. My right hon. Friend asked me to say that those powers would not be used in any unfair or niggardly way. I have not the least hesitation in giving him that assurance. That has not been the policy of the Board of Education in the past, and it is not going to be the policy of the Board of Education in the future. On the other hand, I do not think it desirable that I should whittle away the Section by putting any gloss upon the language of it. I recognise the admirable work that the London education authority has done, particularly within the last few years, for education. The standard of the school leaving age is now fourteen, and it is the very last thing that the Board of Education would desire to do to treat the London education authority in any unfair or niggardly way. I could assure my right hon. Friend if he were here that he need have no apprehension whatever upon that subject. My right hon. Friend also complained that the authorities in some cases have to wait a considerable time for their money, and he asks whether Grants would, as far as possible, 723 be made up to half of the expenditure within the year in which the expenditure took place. The reply to that question is that the final adjustment will necessarily be deferred until the accounts of the local education authority have been audited, but that instalments will be paid during the year. I regret to say that some local education authorities are very late in sending in their accounts. In one instance we did not receive them until eighteen months after the close of the financial year. Every possible effort will be made to pay the instalment at the earliest possible date, but of course it will be obviously impossible for us to close the accounts finally until these accounts have been finally audited.
§ Mr. LEWIS
I am not prepared at the moment to give the hon. Member an assurance upon that point. We shall go into this matter carefully and act as promptly as we possibly can. The instalments will be based upon the best and the most recent data that will be available, and they will be designed so as to pay during the year as nearly as may be up to the amounts which the accounts justify. We shall attempt to do that within the course of the year, but obviously we cannot make our final payments until the accounts have been finally audited.
Another question was put by the hon. Member for East Leeds in relation to Clause 3. He was anxious that parents should, as far as possible, be consulted when schemes for continuation schools were being prepared. As a matter of fact, the consultation of persons interested is provided by Clause 3, and the Board of Education have always contemplated that persons interested must necessarily, I might almost say primarily, include the parents of the young people concerned.
A question was asked by the hon. Member for Oxford City (Mr. Marriott), and I believe a similar question was asked by the right hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen University (Sir H. Craik), with respect to Clause 8. Sub-section (3). They claim that Clause 8, Sub-section (3), does not give the parent an appeal to a Court of law. They are under a misapprehension in that respect. A parent cannot be punished for not causing a child to attend school unless 724 he is actually summoned before a Court of law, and it rests with the Court to decide whether there has been a breach of the law and whether there is a reasonable excuse for non-attendance. But obviously the Court of law cannot decide—it has not the machinery for doing so—whether a school has reached the necessary standard of efficiency. That is obviously a matter for the local education authority or the Board of Education. When they have decided that question the parent has an appeal to a Court of law. The same hon. Member rather reproached my right hon. Friend with having removed what is known as the twopenny limit in a stealthy manner. I quite fail to understand the hon. Gentleman's point of view. It appears to me that the object of the Clause is absolutely plain on the face of the Bill, and anybody who runs may read. I can assure him that neither in this Clause nor in any other, so far as the Board of Education is concerned, has there been any attempt whatever to camouflage any particular object of the Bill, but he asked a question which I find it quite impossible to answer—What would be the probable cost of the removal of the twopenny limit? My hon. Friend suggested the appointment of a Committee to go into the finances of the Bill, but no Committee, however painstaking, would be able to make an estimate of the cost of the removal of the twopenny limit. That is a matter which will rest very largely with the discretion of the local education authorities.
I now come to the objection raised by the right hon. Baronet, whom I am glad to see in his place. He objected that Clause 13 was outside the scope of an Education Bill. That Clause deals with child employment. Education Acts have always recognised ever since 1876 that the education of a child is a matter that is closely connected with his employment. The prohibitions of employment contained in Clause 13 are prohibitions designed to secure that a child shall be in a fit state to profit by the education given. The right hon. Baronet criticised Subsection (2) of Clause 13, but that is merely consequential on Sub-section (1) of the Clause. Clause 13 has not been inserted without excellent reason. It is useless to spend large sums on elementary schools if the children attending them are prevented by external causes from receiving the full benefit from the education. Yet what is the present 725 position? My right hon. Friend received a report a short time ago from one of his inspectors, from one particular area which is not a specially bad area in this respect. The inspector said that he found that a very large proportion of the children in attendance at the elementary schools were employed before and during and after school hours. The teachers, he says, were convinced that this employment in the early morning has a serious effect on the children, many of whom come to school too tired to benefit by the lessons. And he said that there were several cases which had been observed of physical retardation concurrently with employment and moral deterioration as a result of association with undesirable companions. Of course, as a rule, the older children are employed, but, at the same time, it happens frequently that younger children are also employed for a very long time.
He gave us a case of a boy in the infants' department who was only eight and a half years of age who was employed in delivering milk every morning, from a quarter to five until eight o'clock, and he was also employed for a second delivery on Saturday. For doing that he received the munificent sum of 3s. 6d. There was another case of a boy who sold papers for thirty hours a week, and, in some oases, boys are employed for sixty hours a week. One boy was employed for sixty hours for the munificent sum of Is. As I have said, this is not in a specially bad area. It is a state of things that exists to a greater or less extent all over the country, and that is the reason why we have inserted Clause 13 in the Bill, and propose that the employment of children of school age shall be very largely restricted.
§ Mr. LEWIS
I am not going into that point. At any rate, it shows the extent to which the employment of very young children is carried on all over the country.
I now come to one of the most important features of the Bill, which, I am glad to say, is received with general approval in every part of the House. The whole country at the present time is covered with a patchwork of by-laws, the object of which is to get little children out of 726 school into industry at various ages between twelve and fourteen, and we believe that every child, wherever he lives, ought to have the right of a full time education in the elementary schools up to the age of fourteen. I doubt whether there is a single Member who does not agree with that. I am not sure that even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London objects to that Clause. I may take it that the whole House agrees—
§ Mr. LEWIS
I note the right hon. Gentleman's silence, and I receive even that with gratitude. But there is one criticism which has not found voice in the course of to-day's Debate which was referred to and received a certain measure of approval in the Debate on Wednesday last—and I am not sure that there is not a certain amount of foundation for it, although I must say that it has been very greatly exaggerated. It is that while there is an almost universal desire for the leaving age to be raised to fourteen, that is qualified by the reflection that the education given in the upper standards of elementary schools is not in all cases quite satisfactory. In this respect we must be very careful to do no injustice to the teachers. We have to remember that under our existing system children are constantly dropping out of the upper standards of the elementary schools. They are leaving at all kinds of odd times. It is very difficult to carry on the proper organization of these upper standards, and the fact that a large number of children leave before the age of fourteen depletes the upper classes of some schools to such an extent that it is really not worth while making proper provision for teaching. But there is some ground perhaps for the criticism that the teaching in the upper classes is not sufficiently practical, that more manual instruction is needed, that in many rural schools the teaching staff is weak and the difficulties of classification are considerable. The Departmental Committee on Education after the War have considered these difficulties, and they say that no time should be lost in taking steps to bring about the better organisation of the upper classes of all schools such as would ensure the maximum benefit for the additional period of school life. The Board of Education are fully alive to the 727 difficulties of which I have spoken, and they are endeavouring with the local education authorities to meet them in different ways, which I will summarise in three sentences—by encouraging all kinds of practical instruction, by the establishment of central schools for the older children, and by the improvement of the staffing of the schools. But it would be quite useless to wait until all schools are in perfect condition before you make attendance up to fourteen compulsory. In the first place, in a very large proportion of the schools, and especially in the larger schools, which after all contain the bulk of the children, excellent provision is already made on practical lines for the instruction of the older children, and even in the not altogether satisfactory residue the children are at any rate gaining in physique and moral discipline by remaining at the school until the age of fourteen.
I come now to one of the most important features of the Bill—namely, the provision of instruction in continuation schools for young people from fourteen to eighteen years of age. The hon. Member for Devizes, who is, I believe, in a very small minority in this matter, is opposed to this Clause. But after the admirable answer which was given to him by the hon. and gallant Member for Ripon, it is unnecessary for me to add anything. My right hon. Friend in the course of his speeches in the country and in this House has made what I cannot help regarding as an overwhelming case for continuation schools, but I cannot resist the temptation of giving two quotations, as to the necessity for continuation schools both in the rural districts and in towns, from evidence which was given before the Departmental Committee of which I was the Chairman. Sir Herbert Matthews, who is well-known to a great many Members of this House as a very distinguished agriculturist, and who is secretary of the Central Chamber of Agriculture, London, impressed upon us the fact that the land of the United Kingdom must in future produce more of the necessaries of life, and that one factor necessary to bring about this increased form of production is the revision and development of our system of education. He considers it essential not only that there should be more men engaged in cultivating the soil, but that these men should be of a higher order of intelligence than the average labourer of 728 the past, and he quoted the success. notwithstanding the poorness of the soil, of the development of agriculture in Denmark, which is due largely to the efficient means of agriculture in rural areas. He added that with the growing use of all kinds of machinery it is unquestionable that higher intelligence is necessary, and he mentioned the need for a much more highly educated race of farmers as well as labourers if agriculture is to be raised from being a mere bucolic pursuit to that of the highly organised scientific industry of food production, that is necessary for the preservation of the United Kingdom. Then in respect to the needs of continuation education in towns, I might quote the evidence of Mr. Percy Abbott, President of the Association of Teachers of Technical Institutes, but before leaving the question of education in the country I must make one remark upon the arguments of my right hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury). I think he is the only Member of the House who so far has opposed education pure and simple. He told us that he had an "incomparable cowman" who could neither read nor write, and he gave other instances of those who had succeeded, even with a small amount of education.
§ Mr. LEWIS
Geniuses are to be found in every walk of life, and may even be found in the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman himself is a genius at criticism. I have watched him at it for over twenty years now, and he has an instinct and genius for that particular kind of work. I would ask the right hon. Member for the City to stand upon what my right hon. Friend beside me would probably call the table-land of impartiality, and, viewing mankind in the mass, he would find that the most prosperous, progressive and powerful nations of the world are the educated nations. The right hon. Member for the City must take mankind as a whole, and although he may have an "incomparable cowman" in his employment, I ask him to refrain from arguing from the particular to the general, and try to take the large view. I wish to read an extract from the evidence of Mr. Percy Abbott, as showing the necessity for continued education in towns. He is a man of very wide experience. He said:In all areas a considerable number of students aged seventeen and upwards present 729 themselves at technical institutes who have received no education since leaving the elementary school. The mental equipment of such students is deplorable. In many cases nearly all their elementary education has vanished. They can read and write a little, but cannot express themselves coherently; they cannot spell correctly, while arithmetic is almost entirely forgotten beyond simple calculations. The development of their intellectual faculties seems to have ceased, and they are usually unable to start on technical studies. The effect of all this is that even among those in the skilled trades who do present themselves for further education, there is a serious leakage due to the lack of continuity. Many have to be rejected at the outset; others, starting imperfectly equipped, soon fall behind, and it is only a matter of time before they disappear.Several Members, in the course of this Debate, have referred to the waste which takes place, at the present time, of the education that has been given in elementary schools. We spend about £ 30,000,000 a year upon that education, and it is my belief that, so far as a considerable portion of it is concerned, it might as well be thrown into the River Thames, because it is lost in later life. The object of the President of the Board of Education is to continue that education, so as to enable the child to retain it and to improve upon it. The most important criticism against the continuation proposals is that it will cause inconvenience and loss to certain industries. My right, hon. Friend has never attempted to deny that the withdrawal of young people between the ages of fourteen and eighteen from employment for a few hours for the purpose of education will cause a certain amount of inconvenience and loss, but I cannot help thinking that the effects which it is said these continuation schools will cause by the withdrawal of young people for a few hours have been greatly exaggerated. On every occasion when the labour of children has been curtailed m the past, for their own good and for the good of the State, predictions of financial loss and even ruin have been made, and yet in the past the result has been not less production, but more. The problem is especially difficult in the case of the textile industry, and I do not in the slightest degree wish to depreciate the arguments which have been urged in this House. But I do not think that this problem is by any means insoluble. Its solution will require careful investigation and friendly co-operation between local education authorities and employers and workers, but I believe if they all cooperate heartily together, and make up their minds that the thing has got to be 730 done, it will be done, and, whatever the settlement may be, I believe that neither employers nor parents of the children will in reality be losers, if we look beyond the immediate monetary side of the transaction. An hon. Gentleman opposite, in an eloquent speech, referred to expenditure upon education as an investment which would produce a rich return. I hope that those who are specially affected by this Bill will look at it from the same point of view. There is one observation I should like to make upon the objections that have been urged as to the working of the continuation classes in relation to particular industries, and it is that, however great and however weighty they may be, they are, after all, absolutely trivial compared with the difficulties that British employers and British operatives have met with, and, to their honour, have successfully faced and overcome, in the course of the War. Many appeals have been made to the patriotism of the employers and of the workers, and they have not failed to respond to those appeals. A great appeal is being made to them now—and it is made on the ground of patriotism—to allow us to establish a system of education which we believe will be a rich endowment to our country, and a rich heritage to its children, and we trust that no unreasonable obstacle on the other side will be interposed to the achievement of this great and much desired consummation.
One suggestion has been made for overcoming this difficulty. The hon. Member for Chorley (Sir H. Hibbert), a man who deserves to be listened to with the utmost respect on account of his knowledge of education and of business, has put forward a proposal, and I am not quite pure what backing he really has for that proposal, but, with the great authority of his position, he has put forward a proposal to substitute half-time education from fourteen to sixteen years of age for part-time attendance between fourteen and eighteen years. I appreciate the difficulty which he mentioned. I would, however, ask those who agree with him to give some attention to the reasons why we have made this proposal in this particular form as well as to the difficulties of administration. I would point out that the number of teachers required for the continuation schools will be very large. We shall require probably about 32,000 teachers, and these must necessarily be of a superior type. Under the 731 fourteen to eighteen plan, we can see our way to provide the teachers because, when the appointed day has been fixed, and when the necessary preparations have been made, we propose to take the children from the elementary schools in four successive crops. First of all, we take the children of one year as they arrive at the age of fourteen, and then we shall have three successive crops afterwards. That will give us a considerable amount of time to provide the necessary teachers. If the proposals of the hon. Member were adopted we should have to provide the whole number of teachers within the two years, instead of the provision being spread over a period of four years. The maximum requirements for buildings would also be reached in the period of two years, and it would mean, in all probability, the postponement, and considerable postponement, of the initial stages of the scheme coming into existence. I agree that the amount of education given in the first two years would, under the hon. Member's plan, be greater, but the education would stop short at a very critical time. If we continue compulsory education up to the age of eighteen, we reach a point where the young persons, in most cases, can carry on the education for themselves, because they have begun to realise the importance of education. If we stopped at the age of sixteen, that would not hold good, because at that age they would not realise for themselves the enormous importance of education, besides which, we would give up, at the earlier age of sixteen, the physical, social and moral control, and disinterested supervision which otherwise would be brought to bear on the young persons during the most critical period of their adolescence. With reference to technical training, we should lose, the opportunity of providing such instruction in continuation schools unless the ago were extended to eighteen. Further. I should like to repeat the question of my right, lion. Friend, Are poor parents likely to be content with half wages for their children between the ages of fourteen and sixteen? We shall have further opportunities of discussing this question, and I hope that the reasons I have mentioned will be borne in mind. I do not believe that English industrial life is so poor or so unprosperous that it cannot be maintained if the labours of children under eighteen are diminished by little more than one-seventh of their present normal working hours
732 There are one or two other considerations which were brought forward with reference to the proposal to establish continuation classes. One of them was to the effect that eight hours per week is an insufficient time to give for teaching between the ages of fourteen and eighteen The experts who were consulted by the Departmental Committee did not agree with that view, and I think that those who have most experience in connection with part-time education systems are those who are most convinced of their educational value. I do not pretend that it system we are putting forward is an idea! system, but I do believe that a great deal can be accomplished by continuous instruction of eight hours per week and that it is quite enough to keep your people in touch with their school lives and to enable them to retain and to develop the know ledge they have gained in the elementary schools. It is the complete break from the school life which so often occurs on leaving the elementary school which is so disastrous to the child. The hon. Member for Chorley referred to this merely as a homoeopathic dose. As a matter of fact, I believe, if the proposals of this Bill are established, we shall place this country in regard to continuation teaching ahead of the whole of the civilised world. There are some people who are under the impression that a great deal more than this is being done in other countries. In Germany there is no universal provision of compulsory continuation teaching; in many of the States the number of hours of teaching given is only from two to six, and in no case do they give it for more than from nine to nine and a half hours. In America, again, in regard to continuation teaching, the number of hours—at least, that is my information—provided by this Bill is not exceeded, nor is that number exceeded in Switzerland.
§ Mr. LEWIS
I agree that more is done in the way of secondary schools in America, but I was referring to the teaching which is given to the general body of children who leave elementary schools and if we adopt the eight hours proposal in this country, we shall lead, as we ought to lead, the civilised world in this matter. It is, I think, unnecessary and undesirable that at the present time we should go beyond that period.
733 There are some hon. Members who think that we should only deal with the bright boys or the bright girls, and that we should leave the average boy and the average girl content with the education that he or she has received up to the age of fourteen. My right hon. Friend has given some admirable reasons why we should make an attempt to continue the education of our population as a whole. After all, the average boy—at the dull boy, it you will—at and the average girl are the average of the people who live in this country, and they are to be the average citizens of the future, and if we are to see that our citizens have a complete conception of citizenship we must take care that the average boy and the average girl receive a decent continuation education. I was very glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for the Everton Division of Liverpool (Sir J. Harmood-Banner) say that he believed that any selection of the kind suggested would give rise to jealousies. That hon. Member felt that it would be a dangerous thing and an unwise thing to attempt to discriminate between different classes of young people, and I feel sure that the House, as a whole, will agree with him in that respect.
Some of the hon. Gentlemen who have addressed the House to-night have dwelt upon the cost of the Bill. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City said that we could not afford the cost of it. My reply is that we cannot afford to do without a better and more developed system of education. My right hon. Friend the President has given us an estimate of the cost of providing buildings and equipment. He has been able to give us one side of the balance-sheet, but when he comes to the credit side of the balance sheet he has no figures or statistics as to what the money returns will be. But that there will be a material gain is certain. I believe that there will be an adequate material gain and that that is proved by the history of every modern civilised country. The prosperity of America is founded upon it, Scotland has done well out of it, Switzerland has made great sacrifices for it, and has reaped a rich reward; and the readiness of Japan at this moment to enter the arena fully equipped bears witness to the enthusiastic adoption by that country of our Western system of education. The disorganisation of Russia to-day bears witness to the want of education. I would ask hon. Gentlemen to conceive what would 734 have happened if we had an uneducated Germany opposed to us. By this time the War which costs—at 7,000,000 a day would have been over, and would have been. decided in our favour long ago.
§ Sir J. D. REES
May I ask, Is it not the-educated people in Russia who have-disorganised Russia and those people only?
§ Mr. LEWIS
On the contrary, it is the masses of uneducated peasants in Russia who have been so easily misled. As my hon. Friend has referred to the matter, may I say that when I was in St. Petersburg in the old regime I called at the Board of Education and made some inquiries into the state of education in that country, and after the information that I then received I am not in the least surprised at the state of disorganisation into which Russia has fallen. I observed that the President of the Board of Education in Russia was a general in the Army, and was put there, I suppose, to keep' education in its place. Whatever the international position of the future may be, we shall need all the help we can get through a wisely planned and liberally endowed system of education. We shall need not merely a few educated people, but people better educated in the mass and educated with some attention to physical as well as mental development. The two hon. Gentlemen who have distinguished themselves by opposition to this Bill have told us that we ought not to bring forward this Bill during the War. My reply to that is that if we wait until after the War-it will be too late. A number of necessary preparations will have to be made both as regards the provision of buildings and the training of teachers and in other ways. and if we are to take this matter in hand at all we must take it in hand in time. There is one risk that will appeal to every Member of Parliament, and it is this: After the War this House will be crowded with a mass of problems of reconstruction. They will be jostling each other and impeding each other. There is only one portal through which all legislation must pass, and that portal is this Chamber. T hope, at any rate, that we shall not think of relegating education to the scramble for precedence which will take place after the War, but that we shall take this golden opportunity of passing this Bill into law.
The two hon. Gentlemen to whom I refer complained that this Parliament had" no right to pass this Bill. The Bill has 735 been before the country for seven months, and this is the first occasion upon which I have heard any objection of the kind. There is every indication that the country is at the back of the Bill. The County Councils Association, representing the county districts, unanimously support the Bill. The Municipal Corporations Association, representing the great towns, also unanimously support the Bill, with, of course, reservations as to amendments in Committee. My right hon. Friend the President has visited many parts of the country, and wherever he has gone he has received support for this Bill, and the most enthusiastic support which I think has been accorded in recent years to any Minister who has brought forward a subject of domestic legislation. One hon. Member says that we ought not to pass the Bill in the absence of the men who are at present on active service. My own conviction is this, that the men who are now serving the country in the Army are even keener upon this particular Bill than the civilian population of this country. I have had many indications of it during the last few months. A few days ago I received a letter from a distinguished educationist who visited the front and intended to deliver a series of lectures on various subjects to both officers and privates. He had a number of subjects, and one of them was education after the War, but he found that this particular subject was received with such enthusiastic approval that he dropped all the other subjects and lectured simply upon education after the War, with these results, as he writes:In the Army schools my audience consisted entirely of officers and non-commissioned officers' but in the lectures given at the Divisional Camps, just behind the lines, 90 per cent. of my hearers were ordinary soldiers. I have never lectured to such appreciative audiences. Officers and men followed every detail of the Fisher Bill with absorbing interest, and they marked their warm approval of the more important Clauses. This was especially the case in reference to the scheme for continuation classes from fourteen to eighteen years of age.My belief is that the men who are now on active service would not forgive us if we were to lose this opportunity of securing for their children a better system of education than that which now exists. I have heard the Bill referred to in the course of this Debate, and I have seen it referred to many times outside this House, as the "Charter of the Worker's Child," and I believe that it merits that title. It will 736 give to the children of the working classes opportunities such as they have never before enjoyed for intellectual and physical development. This is not only a question of industry, although the changes must be carried out in such a way as to interfere as little as possible with industry, and to secure for our juvenile workers the improved technical training which is so necessary in the interests of the country. But it is something more than that. It means that the children of the working classes are to have a share in that broader life to which a liberal education gives access. The great treasures of literature, the power to appreciate poetry and art, the wonderland of science, must not be the preserve of the fortunate few. The delight in these things must be a common bond uniting rich and poor, employer and employed; it must be a refuge for the worker's child from the routine of his daily task, a world outside the sordidness of his surroundings, an inspiration to lift him above the petty grievances and annoyances of his daily life. I claim for our educational proposals that they will give us better citizens, a race of men and women better equipped, mentally and physically, to play their part in the battle of life, with a wider outlook and more varied interests, more reliable, more resourceful, with higher ideals of life and a, deeper understanding of the things which make life worth living. If this claim is a sound one—and I firmly believe that it is—then surely I have a right to appeal to the House to give its assent to the main principles of this Bill. I ask it for the sake of the future of our children and young people, the sons and daughters of those who have served their country in the War. War memorials will be erected all over the country to those who have sacrificed their lives for its sake. I believe the best way to honour the dead is by serving the living, and the worthiest memorial we can raise to those who have fallen in the War will be the endowment of their children with the fuller opportunities that a better system of education will confer. I cannot think of any higher service that we can render to our country when the conflict that is devastating Europe is at an end than the progressive development of the minds and bodies of those who are to carry on the banner of ordered freedom and civilisation in the better time for whose advent we all long.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I think the concluding words of the last speaker will find an echo in the hearts of all of us, and the claim which he made that this Bill will go far to reach those ideals he foreshadowed will, I trust, be reflected in the action of this House, in passing the Second Reading of this Bill. If we do that we shall be voicing the views of those whom we represent here. In the very few words I propose to address to the House I desire to call attention to a question which is very vital to this Bill, and that is the position of the teachers. If we want to improve education, and upon that point I think we are all agreed, we must have improved teachers, and if we want improved teachers we shall do well to see that their status is better and their remuneration higher than it has been in the past. I was glad to hear the support which was given to this question by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Howdenshire (Colonel Jackson) in his interesting and extremely practical speech. Eloquent expression was also given to this aspect of the educational problem in the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Central Division of Hull (Sir Mark Sykes). I think all of us who heard that speech were touched by his references to two instances within his own knowledge—the case of two teachers in the country, teachers of elementary schools—who towards the close of their lives, after long and splendid service found themselves living on a mere pittance in small agricultural labourers' cottages. That is a condition of things which cannot go on, and in the desire to put a stop to it I am sure we shall have the whole-hearted co-operation of the President of the Board of Education. I know that to him nothing is dearer or more important than the question of the teachers, and that he is determined to raise the whole status and position of teachers, in order to give effect to this Bill. For my part, I believe, if we want this Bill when it is turned into an Act, to have a completely successful operation, we must improve the salaries of the teachers, we must secure pensions for them, and, I think it is not unreasonable to add, we must open for them new roads for promotion by which they can go forward into the higher grades of intellectual activity. That is a legitimate aspiration for them; it would improve their work; and I am satisfied it would be for the advantage of those whom they teach, and of the country at large.
738 I am glad my right hon. Friend the President is here, because there is one matter in connection with teachers to which I desire to draw his special attention, and that is the position of the teacher in a non-provided school, and the question how far is it possible for the management to dismiss him without the consent of the local education authority. I remember very well, when the Act of 1902 was going through this House, we were all under the distinct impression that no teacher in a non-provided school could be effectively dismissed by the managers without the consent of the local education authority, except in one special case, where the dismissal was on the ground of religious instruction. The words of the Act of 1902, Section 7, one would have thought were clear enough, for they laid it down that in a non-provided school the consent of the local education authority shall be required for the dismissal of the teacher, unless the dismissal be connected with the giving of religious instruction in the school. That would seem, on the face of it, enough for an ordinary person, but unfortunately the matter has come before the Law Courts, and there have been conflicting decisions. It first came before the Courts in 1906, and the Court then decided that the managers of a non-provided school could in all cases dismiss a teacher without any consent whatever from the local education authority. In 1912 the matter came before the Courts again, and it so happens that a precisely contrary decision was arrived at. Sometimes accidents of that kind do happen in our Courts. Another case came before the Courts only the other day—I think it was on Tuesday in last week—and then the learned judge followed the opinion of the judge who decided the case in 1906, and rejected the opinion of the judge who decided it in 1912. On this occasion the learned judge came to the conclusion that the dismissal of the teacher in a non-provided school is effective, although the consent of the local education authority is not obtained.
The ground given for that decision seems somewhat singular. The learned judge said that the Clause in the Act of 1902 is only operative as between the managers and the local education authority, and gives no right of any kind to the unfortunate teacher. Therefore, if dismissal takes place without the consent of the education authority, the only result is that the local authority can refuse to main- 739 tain the school and the school is shut up. In other words, this action on the part of the managers is to impose a heavy burden on the locality, on the parents of the children, and on the children themselves when that consent is not obtained. I venture to think that that is an absurd and most unreasonable result, and if that be the true result of this legislation, I beg the right hon. Gentleman to consider the matter, and, if possible, to introduce a few words into this Bill to rectify it. It could be done in a dozen words, and I ask him not to wait until this case has possibly gone to another Court, and even up to the House of Lords, at enormous expense and great delay before it can be decided, when possibly in the end it may become necessary to introduce legislation to remedy the defect. That is why I ask him before this Bill passes to see that words are embodied in it remedying the defect.
As has been said already in this Debate, there has been in the last two or three years a very great change in public opinion on the subject of education. The country to-day is interested in education in a way in which, as far as my memory serves me, it never was before, and that change has largely been brought about by the right hon. Gentleman himself, by his introduction of this Bill, and, perhaps even far more, by the speeches he has made in every part of the country to stimulate, opinion on this subject. The change is not, perhaps, entirely due to these causes; I think it is in part, at any rate, due to the great subversion of opinion in every branch of life caused by this War. We have been led to revise our intellectual outlook, and both parents and employers have widened their outlook in the matter of education. I can only say I have got almost unanimous expressions of opinion in favour of the Bill from organised Labour in the country—Ihave received a vast number of letters from persons and institutions in favour of it, and I think I have only had one representation against it. That I received this morning and, as it appears to be of a private character, I do not propose to read it. I trust that this Bill may go through this House successfully and speedily. I shall give it my hearty support, but I hope that adequate time may be given in Committee for the discussion of some of those points which have been referred to in Debate, and which undoubtedly require consideration. I can only hope that my right hon. Friend will 740 have the great satisfaction of seeing this Bill safely pass into law before the end of this Session.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Sir J. D. REES
Nottingham alone displays such interest in education that all its three Members, scorning their diminished dinners, remain for this fuller intellectual feast. If a dozen years—more or less speechless years—on the Back Bench convey any title to compliment a colleague, I would like the permission of the House to congratulate my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Howdenshire (Colonel Jackson) on the admirable speech he has made. Members all know of his eminence in the physical field of education, but those who heard him have now learned that he has attained a not lower level in the intellectual sphere. Now I come to the Bill. The leading journal this morning in its leading article bestowed a further blessing on this thrice-blessed and largely lauded—I do not say over-lauded—Bill, and it describes education as the keystone of the arch of State. If I were allowed to draw my inspiration from the same source as the "Times," belonging as I do, though not a contemporary of Ovid, to the same educational school in which it was held enough linguas edidicisse duas—there being no need to say what the two languages are—if I might draw my inspiration from the same source, I should like to refer to what one of the greatest writers and politicians in antiquity said upon this subject: He said that far more important than pedagogy was to set good public examples to the youth. I submit that this House at the present time is not setting a good example to the youth. It is setting an example of want of concentration upon the chief subject which at present should be before it My right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, who is a born educationist and expresses the spirit of Wales in all he says, stated that the Bill was considered universally to be of a timely character, because nowhere in seven months had any objections been taken to its introduction and to its being rushed through at the present time. The reason for that, I submit, is that the public outside the House is so occupied with the War and so has that gift of concentration which is the greater part of education, as Æschmes said, that they 741 have not thought it necessary to make the protest. They are not interested in what goes on here that does not refer to the War, and that is the reason of their not having made any protest not against the Bill, which is a good Bill, but against its being rushed through at the present time. I do submit that it is a very extraordinary thing that at a time when millions of our best men are away fighting for their country a Bill is to be rushed through vitally affecting their position in regard to their children, and that in the absence of so many artisans, tradesmen, merchants, and of them all a Bill is to be passed through which vitally affects their industries when they have no opportunity of voting or expressing their opinion upon it. Can it be that the right hon. Gentleman here, who has expressed such admirable democratic principles, is really afraid of the new democracy? Is it the new women or the new men he is afraid of when he cannot wait for his good Bill until there is a good time for passing it into law? I sometimes think there is some fear displayed here of the new democracy, of the six million women and the two million men, otherwise why not let them have a chance of expressing their opinion as to the timeliness of this matter?
It is not as if we were an ignorant nation, and our education had broken down. I suggested a little time ago in this House that there were some rather serious flaws in it, and I was rebuked by my hon. Friend the Member for West Nottingham (Sir J. Yoxall)—a very high authority on education—to whose rebuke I do not object, becauseThe words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies "—who asked, How can you say there are flaws in our education when it has produced these men who have flocked to the Colours, who have fought for their country, and distinguished themselves for bravery in every action? My hon. Friend cannot have it both ways. If this education has produced such admirable spirit, such brave soldiers, and such good citizens it cannot have been so very bad, and if that is so it might have waited the short time required to face the electors and take what is their real opinion on this matter. It is not a war measure. What measure of reconstruction demands a new education Act at the present time? I am not speaking against the Bill—it would require very great courage to do so—but I submit it is not a timely measure, and that, 742 having waited so long, it can wait until the next election, which is absolutely in sight. I submit, with the hon. Member for Hull, that it is a serious blot on the Bill that it does indeed impair the already impaired parental authority and responsibility over children. There again, if I were to follow the example of the "Times," I could produce yards of Plato to show that the methods of this Bill are those founded upon the assertion which Plato frankly makes that children do not belong to their parents, but that they belong to the State, a principle against which I would fight and vote to the very best of my ability on every occasion on which I might have the opportunity of doing so. I believe that the more the children belong to their parents and the less they are treated as belonging to the State the better it will be for the children, for the parents, and for all concerned.
There was one ground upon which this Bill might have been held to be a necessary and urgent matter, and that was if it had dealt with the pay of the teachers, which has not advanced by those leaps and bounds by which the pay of everybody else has advanced, a fact which has left them in a somewhat invidious position. The Bill does not deal with the pay of the teachers, and any improvement in their pay will not be the outcome of this Bill but the outcome of the general raising of standards as a result of war, to which it should not be—and I would not urge that it should be—any exception. My right hon. Friend, in his eloquent and admirable speech, said that this Bill is so good for the State and is of such an urgent character that it cannot wait. That is the tyrant's plea—the thing is so good for you that you must take it without being asked yourself whether you want it. It is the argument of the Russian autocrat, or of the Indian bureaucrat, people who should apologise in this House for their very existence. Yet the right hon. Gentleman actually founds his speech on that very principle, unless I am very much mistaken. As I have mentioned the Russianautocrat, let me refer to what my right hon. Friend has said. Carried away by his educational fervour which does him so much credit, he said that the Russian Revolution was the outcome of the ignorance of the Russian peasants. Everyone knows that no Russian peasant wanted a revolution. They did not dream of it; they could not have made it if they had wanted it. Either it was the result of the debauching of a few regiments 743 in Petrograd with German gold, or, if my right hon. Friend will not accept that, it was the result of the agitation of the Intelligentsia. My right hon. Friend may say that it was because they were not educated that they did it. But they were a very educated class. I have seen a great deal of them, and of the Mujiks, I have talked their language, and I know a great deal more about Russia than some of those who talk about Russia. It was the Intelligentsia, the educated people, who brought that about, and I protest that my right hon. Friend was totally wrong in what he said in that connection.
Then, take the cost of this measure. At the present time that is a point on which, above all others, all the electors of this country, men and women, should have an opportunity of speaking. I do not know what the total figure will be, but it must lead to a very large increase of cost. As I understand the custom and procedure of this House, it is not usual on this occasion to go into details about Clauses, or even to total up the figures of the cost and make them balance. I content myself with saying that it is admitted that this will lead to a very greatly increased cost at a time when the State is already committed to charges which, I do not like to say it cannot meet, but to meet which will strain every nerve, empty every pocket, and lead to the production of Budgets which will be absolutely appalling to contemplate. I am not saying that is a ground for doing no more in the educational line, but I do say it is a very strong ground for: waiting until those concerned out of whose pockets, in the form of rates and taxes, this money is to come can express an opinion. It is not enough to say that this is a good measure, and therefore you must have it. Let them say whether it is a good measure, and at what cost they will have it. The hon. Member for West Nottingham, who, as I said, is a great expert on education, made an admission which I remember when the former Education Bill was before the House. He said never have the children attending the elementary schools of this country been so well-fed, well-dressed, and well-found as they are at the present time. I submit that that is a rather fictitious prosperity. It is not altogether satisfactory that the idea should be encouraged that during war-time people can be better fed, better dressed, and more favourably circumstanced than at any other time. 744 There is such a thing as public economy, and I submit that if a large departure is to be made, at least those who are concerned, those who are to pay the piper, should be allowed to call the tune. I take up the Bill, and at almost every turn any limitation on cost is swept away. Away goes the 2d. limit, and yet it allowed for an excess where there was sufficiently good reason, and it was agreed by the Board of Education—
§ Sir J. D. REES
There was a provision; then for exceeding that limit for good and sufficient reason. But now it is swept, away. If that is not an encouragement to excess expenditure, I do not know what, is. Public funds are to be spent upon youths and girls until they reach the age of eighteen. Really, at this rate, the State-will soon be doing something or other for them in the interval between that age and the receipt of an old age pension. There is no limit, apparently, to what it is contemplated the State should do in this way,. and I do hear the argument openly used in the House of Commons that expenditure has grown to such a vast figure that what do a few millions more or less matter upon so important an object as education. Will money not be wanted in the interests of democracy? I am suggesting that this action is thoroughly undemocratic, and it offends against my democratic instincts that this should be rushed through without allowing the democracy to vote upon it As soon as the War is over there will be many things calling for vast expenditure. Raw materials feed the mills which employ the mill hands, and provide pay for the men and women, to whose co-operation we look for our citizens in the future. To keep the road open to the great reservoir of our raw materials, India, we must have immense expenditure in the future, if a peace anything like that in sight is carried through and finally approved. Where is all the money for all these things to come from? I confess I cannot tell, and I do regard with great misgivings any measure which will lead to great expenditure. At any rate, I protest that those concerned should have an opportunity themselves of voting and saying "Aye" or "No" to every large increase.
As regards the half-timers, that point was so fully dealt with by an hon. Gentleman possessing very high claims, educa- 745 tionally and industrially, to deal with it that it would be impertinence for me to say very much on the subject, but I cannot help remarking that the case has not been entirely met of the interference with industry that will result from the measures taken in this Bill. While my right hon. Friend is satisfied that he allayed the doubts and suspicions of those interested, why not, like a good democrat, let them have an opportunity of saying so at the next election? Can it be again that there is fear of the lower stratum of elector coming in at the next election? I say, whether he is going to vote for education or whether he is not, he ought to have the opportunity of voting upon this Bill, and I am good enough democrat to be willing to trust to his vote, provided we put off the passing of the Bill until he can vote. At what do we aim—I really do not know—as an ultimate object? Are we to look forward to a time when there will be put over the doors of the houses in London what is said to have been put over the doors of the houses in Athens? "Let no one enter who is not acquainted with mathematics." To what heights is this to reach? At any rate, before we have these higher flights, should not those who have to pay be consulted? I do urge that the considerations I am putting before the House do not proceed from any dislike of education, of which I only wish I had myself more. But they do proceed from a strong desire that those concerned, and particularly the soldiers and sailors, should be able to give their vote. Even the employer is believed to be, I will not say squared, or suggest anything that is not absolutely upright and honourable in all these negotiations, but he is supposed to have had his objections lessened or dissolved. Again, I say, let him have the opportunity of saying so at the poll. There are various provisions in the Bill relating to Wales that I think will disappoint our friends in Wales. I dare say some other Member from Wales will be here by-and-by, and deal with that, and therefore I will not go into it.
My right hon. Friend in his speech just now said there was an overwhelming opinion all over the country in favour of the immediate passing of this Bill. I submit that the opinion which my right hon. Friend hears, welcomes, and regards as universal, is the opinion that he wants to hear. His ears are attuned to that particular note, and it is not surprising 746 that he hears it. I would not have spoken at all had there been a chance of obtaining this vote before dinner, and even now I am very unwilling to prolong the time that must elapse before the vote is taken. Any speech which deals with the necessity for economy, and with the necessity for taking a vote upon this Bill, is liable to be construed as something hostile to education. I have endeavoured to show that no harm will be done by waiting—that ex hypothesi our education is already good. My right hon. Friend said it ought to be the best in Europe. I believe it is already the most costly. It is going to be made more costly still. Surely we can wait three or four months till the election. It is in that belief that I have spoken. I should find it very difficult to vote against the Second Reading, I confess, because if the Government, who have so many wise-heads, make up their mind that it is necessary, I must believe that I must be mistaken. But I wish my right hon. Friend, who is going to be so famous in the annals of education, as I am sure he will be in this country, as the Minister who brings in and passes the latest and best of the many Education Bills—for it is an admirable Bill in avoiding so many difficulties and pitfalls—I could wish, I say, he could possess his, soul with the very little patience required, and have his Bill with the full assent of all the democratic feeling in the country, with which, no matter how we are divided in other respects, we are all in such intimate association, and for which we all agree in entertaining the fullest and completest respect.
§ Sir EDWARD PARROTT
I can assure the House that I do not rise from the mere impulsion of an itch for speaking. All my life I have been intimately associated with elementary schools in this country, and have been permitted to furnish it with some of its tools of instruction. I, therefore, feel that I can offer to the House the fruits of experience, if not the wisdom of deduction. We had, opening the Debate this afternoon, a very weighty and authoritative address from a distinguished representative of the oldest and greatest of our universities. I approach the discussion of this Bill from the exactly opposite pole, as a humble educationist whose experience has been gained in the elementary schools of the people. I want to make one observation with regard to, this Bill 747 in which I think it is absolutely unique. It is the first Bill in the history of British education which embodies a distinct aim, which is in entire conformity with the conclusions of all competent educational thinkers. That has never happened before, as a very slight retrospect will clearly show. The founders of the school in which I learned to identify the alphabet and to trace pothooks and hangers, laid very great stress on that rule of life embodied in the Catechism, viz., "to order myself lowly and reverently toward my betters, and to do my duty in the state of life to which it shall please God to call me." I do not quote the passage in derision—far from it. A man who recognises his betters in the truest sense, and respects them accordingly, and makes duty the watchword of his life, is surely a worthy citizen and a desirable member of society; but the educational conception underlying that statement seems to me very thinly to conceal a strange concern for the maintenance of a social system assumed to be laid down by Divine authority, with all the finality and rigidity of geological strata.
The establishment of the School Board system brought with it from the first a freer and ampler air, but, as everybody knows, it had to fight hard for its life against voluntaryism. It was continually straining at the leash, held in by those who feared that but for their restraint it would prove the death of the Church school. Was it not the late Lord Salisbury who declared that in front of every board school there should be inscribed in letters 6 ft. high, this inspiring and encouraging legend,—"Threepence in the £." Unhappily the revised code of 1861—Robert Lowe's much execrated contribution to national education had already introduced a materialistic ideal into the schools which mechanicalised the whole system for thirty years. He introduced the principle of payment by results, a principle under which I myself have worked for many years. The schools had to produce verifiable and tangible results or, as far as the Government was concerned, go under. A certain very narrow and rigid curriculum was ordained, and every child, like a shell in a munition shop, had to be passed through a gauge; and the money was only paid if it satisfied the test. In those days 1d. per cent. for all passes in reading, writing, and arithmetic, together with certain odd 748 shillings for extra subjects and 6d. for discipline, which the teachers called "sitting still," comprised the whole subsidy of the State to the school.
Finance, of course, dictated policy, and a low commercial ideal prevailed; but, nevertheless, the system had its merits,, although it was unyielding and hard and narrow, cramping, and even degrading, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities described it. Nevertheless, it almost abolished the cruder illiteracy from the land; but it was entirely a system without wings and without vision. It made the attainment of a minimum level of accomplishment in reading, writing, and arithmetic the be-all and: the end-all of the elementary school. It served its day and, happily, in 1890, it ceased to be. In the meanwhile, educational thought was very greatly influenced by Herbert Spencer, whose aim was to prepare the pupil for "complete living," and that new ideal in education won its first victory when it swept away the old rigid modes of assessment and made the teacher, for the first time, an educator and not an examination coach. By slow degrees this "complete living" became the accepted creed, of every educational reformer. Progress in, this direction has been specially rapid during the last ten years, and what a Kekewich could only regard as the Holy-Grail a Fisher can now make the daily cup of national communion. The Spencerian ideal is embodied in this Bill not by implication but by direct statement. The opening words of Clause 3 contain, I think, its crowning principle and its inspiration, in the following words: "To prepare for the freedom and responsibilities of adult life." The Bill by no means despises utile, but it mingles dulce with it in a manner never before contemplated by the earlier reformers.
Almost every man who advocates extended education at the present time adopts one or other of two standpoints. If he belongs to the manufacturing or official or what I may call the established classes-he usually regards this extended education as the handmaid either of industry or national defence. He desires a better educational system because he wishes to-see the nation a more efficient wealth-producer, more physically and mentally capable of industry, and of standing to arms in case of necessity. Those who adopt this attitude very clearly perceive that with a dead weight of unparalleled 749 National Debt and the vastly heavier burdens which the State must assume hereafter, national solvency can only be guaranteed by immensely increased production. If the present constitution of society is to continue, there must be a greater production of wealth in future; and so, if extended education can produce improved craftsmanship, higher intelligence in industry, increased alertness in discovering and exploiting new modes, processes and markets, why then, according to the point of view which I am describing, it is amply justified. But, on the other hand, there is a large and increasing class of thinkers who are by no means so much concerned about increased productivity as about the uplifting of humanity at large and the establishment of a new and higher texture of life for the masses.
It is very remarkable that the exponents of this creed do not belong to those who are overburdened with this world's goods, but who have to labour in the sweat of their brow. I think the reason is not far to seek. Millions of men and women who, but for this War, would have lived out their lives in the old monotonous channels have been forced by the exigencies of the times to embark upon careers which they never envisaged in their wildest dreams. New occupations, new scenes, new nodes of life have acted upon them as the Socratic gad-fly. Those who have joined the Army find themselves, for the first time, objects of intense national concern and of national solicitude; those who have remained at home are spectators of marvellous social experiments. And so it comes about that both soldiers and civilians are led to regard the constituted State not as a heaven-born immutable thing delivered amidst the thunders of Sinai, but as complex of conditions which they can fashion as they chose; and they have chosen that the new Britain which shall rise upon the ruins of the old shall furnish a better, higher, and more generally satisfying life for the many. To me it is a source of the deepest satisfaction that the accredited representatives of Labour recognise that this higher life can only be made possible by a better and more widely diffused education.
The great problem of every educational reformer is how to reconcile and harmonise these two ends and aims—the technical aim and the general cultural ideal. There is, of course, no real conflict between them. It is a matter of universal 750 agreement that there can be no technical progress worthy of the name unless founded upon a good general education. The Bill provides both. The adolescent works in the factory, but for eight hours a week his general and physical education are cared for, and he is initiated into the principles underlying the craft in which he is engaged. I hope that no specific vocational training will be allowed in the continuation school at all, because my belief is that our first and greatest care should be to teach the youth how to live and not merely how to earn. "The life is more than meat and the body than raiment." My right hon. Friend the author of this measure has received unwonted yet very fully deserved eulogies from many quarters. The experiment of confiding certain Departments of the Government to so-called business men has not been an unqualified success, but I am certain that the installation at the Board of Education of a scholar of rare ability, enthusiasm, and zeal, but, at the same time, innocent of that dogmatism which too often accompanies those virtues, has worked a revolution in the high command of our education. I am certain of this, that never again will it be possible to appoint as President of the Board of Education a hack politician of the familiar Ministerial type. My right hon. Friend has not only framed his Bill, but has gone forth in the best crusading spirit to muster the armies of educational progress and lead them against the infidel. I do not propose to range at large over this epoch-making Bill. But I should like to say a word or two about the compulsory day continuation schools, because I know that in certain industrial quarters there is a very definite opposition to these proposals. May I say how fully I adopt the attitude of the Member for Oxford University this afternoon in insisting upon the exact form of continuation education laid down in the Bill? The Member for the Chorley Division (Sir H. Hibbert) desired to have half-time between fourteen and sixteen, but, I think, he misapprehends entirely the intention of this extended education. If I interpret it aright, the great aim of this scheme is to make education run through the workaday life like a silver thread, and not to have it concentrated at all into a definite particular period and then have done with it, but to diffuse it through life, and especially to continue it as long as possible, even in a less concentrated form, 751 while the young person is coming into contact every day with the industrial world and its materialising influences. I think we want to form the intellectual habit in our people, and I believe we can do this better by mingling education as long as possible with the daily occupation.
I desire to present one general argument for these day continuation classes which ought to have weight with the men of property and substance. Owing to the calling up of teachers during the War and the general dislocation of affairs, there is no doubt that the children now passing through the schools are receiving a poorer education than their predecessors. In ten or eleven years' time these imperfectly educated children will be adults armed with the vote. Few of us doubt that after the War a wave of unrest will now over the country, and there will be appeals made to the passions and prejudices of our people. If these continuation class proposals are not carried into effect such appeals will be addressed to those in a large measure who are less fitted to examine them in the light of reason than their fellows of an earlier generation. I urge upon those who oppose these proposals, in the name of industry, to consider what will be the condition of industry and, indeed, of property in general, if these very imperfectly educated children are allowed to grow up and become a power by their votes to direct the future of the country at a time when the nation is in flux and revolutionary theories are in the air. I am certain that we may regard these continuation proposals as a very strong guarantee against violent change.
Let me approach the problem for a moment from the point of view of national economy. I can assert, from a long experience that at the present time we are spoiling the educational ship for a ha'porth of tar. I am sure that every earnest teacher deplores the colossal waste of time and money involved in letting the children leave the school just when the tools of education are in their hands, and a sphere of real education is opening up before them. We send a child to work before he has realised what education really means to him, and we thrust him out into the industrial arena before he knows the inestimable pleasures which are to be found within the covers of a book, and before he has learned to seek therein for that wit and wisdom 752 and human knowledge which might make this dull world a business of delight. We close the school door behind him before he has apprehended that he lives in a wonderful world, before his intellectual curiosity has been whetted, and before personal desires for culture have been aroused.
The waste of time and money involved in bringing up a child to a certain standard and then abandoning him to the workaday world, with its obliterating influences, is simply appalling. A very familiar figure of speech is "Ploughing the sands." I am sorry that our national education at the present time is very largely engaged in that useless process. This cramped and stunted school life which now obtains can only produce a cramped and stunted intelligence. In my scholastic days I begged the parents to give their children one or two or more years of education, but too often I was met with this reply: "I can get the boy a job now as an apprentice, and a couple of years later it will be too late." The proposals of this Bill meet exactly such cases as that. They continue the education of the child during the apprenticeship period, or whatever is equivalent, and they at least ensure that the foundation shall carry a superstructure, or, if I may be allowed to change my figure, they provide that the photograph that has been so laboriously taken and developed and printed shall be fixed, and shall not become a smeared blur when it is exposed to the outer air.
It may be urged that we have now an evening continuation school system. That is quite true, but it has hopelessly failed because it is founded upon an inadequate appreciation of the psychology of adolescence. Only boys and girls of exceptional character and determination can be got to persevere in their attendance at the evening schools. I believe the House recognises to-day that in Scotland we have a higher appreciation of the benefits of education than here in England, and yet in Scotland only two out of five persons can be persuaded to attend continuation classes in the evening. Do you wonder that, after a long and monotonous day's toil, the young person does not crave for change and exercise and amusement? By the day's work they have earned their right to it, and I am certain that in the national interest every young person ought to be advised and encouraged to relax, after his labour, in every legitimate way. 753 Further, what real progress can be hoped for when tired bodies and jaded minds are goaded into those intellectual pursuits which demand freshness and alertness. If real educational progress is to be made boys and girls must pursue their studies in the daytime, and in the only condition of mind and body which is conducive to success. I have mat manufacturers who have told me that they have no particular desire for intelligence on the part of their workers. They say, "In my business we merely require a human adjunct to a machine." I suppose it is absolutely true that under the modern factory system there are tens of thousands condemned to a soulless servitude as the minders and feeders of machines, or as the repeaters of a single process ad infinitum. In certain works very well known to me I constantly see girls whose only occupation is to lift a sheet of paper from a stand and place it on the flying arm of a machine. Day in and day out, week in and week out, from youth to age, or, at least, to the haven of matrimony, these girls continue at this work. It requires no special knowledge and no special skill. It makes no appeal to mind or heart. I believe Lord Haldane tells us that the tendency in the future will be for such tasks to be performed by the stupid. We are only at the beginning of machinery, and, if only the stupid are to undertake machine-minding in the future, then I fervently hope and pray that the supply will never equal the demand. I am quite aware that you cannot in this imperfect world give everybody a soul-satisfying occupation. There are certain dull, monotonous, necessary tasks which must be performed. But have we not a duty to those who thus serve us? Assuredly our duty is to give them more leisure and to teach them how to employ that leisure pleasantly and profitably.
The right hon. Gentleman, the author of this Bill, has expounded this duty in words of penetration and conviction that only audacity would seek to better. Leisure is the tribute which we must exact from the Moloch of machinery, and we can best teach our young people how to use their leisure rightly and well by the day continuation classes which are to be set up by this Bill. I conceive that these classes will be so small that every individual in them will be a definite personality to the teacher. The teacher will be able to know their capacities and instincts and desires just as well as though they were members of his own family. He will 754 seek to discover and to foster their special gifts, capacities, aptitudes or bents, and thus make those schools what Huxley so well calls "capacity-catching machines" for those whose development is late, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that they are very large in number. It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of the directive and selective work which can be done by teachers in classes such as are to be set up by the Bill. We have never yet fully explored or exploited the rich field of working-class ability, but even if by means of these classes we are not able to discover many of those who but for them would have gone down to the grave quite unconscious of the genius with which they were endowed, we can at least ascertain along what paths of leisure pleasing and profitable interests may be found. I think we can by means of these classes incite our young people to devote their spare time to the cultivation of a worthy hobby, which will give them absorbing recreation and at the same time act as a charm against personal degradation. According to one of the legends Ulysses, when sailing up the Isles of the Sirens, bade Orpheus tune his lute and fill the ears of the sailors with even more seductive melodies than the false fair maiden could make, and thus he carried them safely past temptation. The intelligent pursuit of a worthy hobby has a precisely similar effect. It fills the mind with interesting thoughts to the exclusion of those base and noxious suggestions which are ever seeking admission. From this point of view, a hobby may be described as a social prophylactic. What joy a worthy hobby affords ! To concentrate upon a piece of congenial work, to see it growing under your hands day by day, to modify, to experiment, to refine, aiming all the time at perfection, and finally to see a piece of completed work the embodiment of your own thought—what joy in life is equal to that? The world does not hold its like. For these and for many other reasons, I greet these continuation class proposals with positive enthusiasm. If the Bill did not contain any other reforms but these, it would stand out as the greatest and most important piece of reconstructive statesmanship that we are likely to see.
My right hon. Friend knows as well, or even better than I do, that the whole success of his Bill depends on an adequate supply of earnest, capable, enthusiastic, and trained teachers. The War has grievously depleted the man-teaching 755 power of the nation. If many of those in khaki return, as we sincerely hope that they will, they will still be all too few to energise the developments which are contemplated by this Bill. My right hon. Friend may set up the organisations all over the land, but until he can install the teachers, the prime movers, he has but set up a Cenotaph in place of a, house of life, a dead city of the Belgian plain instead of a bustling hive of intellectual activity. No forward step is possible until the new stream of teachers emerges from the training colleges. How are you going to get them to enter the training colleges? Only by making the career more attractive. Only by improving the remuneration, prospects, and status. I know that already you have published a minimum scale of salaries, and that your best thought and heartiest good will are engaged in the project. I know also, if education is to regenerate the land, that you will have to enlist the best brains, character, skill, and energy in the service, and until teaching is a recognised profession adequately remunerated, honourably esteemed, safeguarded from petty tyranny, and endowed with large freedom you will never be able to fill up the depleted ranks or to secure, either in numbers or in quality, those who are to energise and inspire your beneficent schemes. I heartily support this Bill in its main features, and I sincerely hope that as it passes across the sea of discussion no deadly submarine may appear and no torpedo of selfishness or ignorance may be discharged against it. I sincerely trust that it may be safely piloted to the desired haven without adventure and with its priceless cargo intact.
Sir HERBERT ROBERTS
I am sure the House will agree that we have listened to the speech of my hon. Friend who has just addressed us with much pleasure and interest. There are few men in this House more qualified deliver a speech of that kind than my hon. Friend. I wish to associate myself with the references that have already been made to the speech delivered this afternoon by my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education. All those who heard it will agree with me that it was a speech which from beginning to end was one of sustained interest, information, and inspiration, and I desire very sincerely to congratulate my right hon. Friend upon 756 its delivery. I only desire to-night to say a word with regard to my attitude towards this Bill from the standpoint of Wales. In the first place, I cannot help feeling thankful that at last an Education Bill has been introduced into Parliament in the atmosphere of to-day. Many hon. Members here now can remember other Education Bills which have been brought forward in this House, and they will realise the extraordinary contrast there is between the atmosphere in the House-to-night in the Debate upon this Bill and the atmosphere which existed in connection with the discussion of previous-education measures. I rejoice that it should be so. There is no one who has-even the slightest knowledge of Wales who will not recognise the special interest of Wales in education; indeed, not only her special interest, but the sacrifices-and work of the Welsh people for education in the past. Another thing which anybody who knows anything about the life of Wales will not have failed to realise is that in Wales, as in other parts of the United Kingdom, there is a strong, tide flowing towards further powers of self-government. Undoubtedly there is a considerable sentiment in Wales in favour of further powers in the sphere of education.
With regard to secondary education, we have in Wales, as the House will remember, already received recognition of our right to separate treatment. We have our own separate system of secondary education. Everybody who has studied the question will admit that the only way to get the best fruits from any educational system is by making it certain that the system rests upon the heart and will of the people. I desire to recognise in regard to this Bill that its essential purpose is not to alter the structure of our educational system, but, by enlarging the powers of the education authorities, by extending the range of education and by providing additional funds, to improve and make more efficient our present educational system. I would, however, point out that the acceptance of this Bill by-Wales—and Wales does most cordially accept it—will not only not prejudice the right of Wales to a further measure of educational autonomy at a later stage, but will pave the way to the realisation of that ideal. When the previous Education Bill was introduced into this House last summer I noticed the special interest we 757 in Wales took in the provincial associations which were created by that Bill. Those provincial associations have gone, owing to opposition, the strength of which I fully recognise, and in their place we have now, in Clause 6 of this Bill, powers of co-operation and combination which may be worked effectively in the direction of increasing the area, so to speak, of specialisation in education. When we come to the Committee stage there will be an opportunity for us to define what we desire in the way of Amendments in order to make this Bill, so far as it is practicable to do so, carry out our ideals in this respect. There is one further point of detail to which I should like to allude. During all my life in Parliament I have been connected with an agricultural district, and I know very well that in rural districts there must be difficulties in connection with carrying out the provisions of this Bill with reference to continuation teaching. But I am glad to note that every provision seems to have been made in order to allow for the fullest possible consultation between all the sections and interests affected, in carrying out this Clause, with the local education authority and the Board of Education in London. Also the appointed day may be postponed in any area and for any class of persons and for any particular purpose. Summing up what I have to say on that point, it seems to me there is every possibility, through the provisions of this Bill, of securing the fullest possible inquiry and investigation into special local conditions, especially those in rural districts, with a view to ensuring that the decisions which are come to eventually with reference to the system to be adopted for carrying out this continuation teaching will cause as little hardship and inconvenience as is possible in the circumstances.
I am more and more convinced that the real good of any Education Bill of this kind depends upon the attitude of the people to the cause which the Bill is designed to promote, and their determination to avail themselves to the utmost of the new and larger facilities it provides for the education of the community. The benefits from this measure will really depend upon the attitude of the people towards it. There is no part of the United Kingdom which is more determined to accept this Bill in the right spirit and to demonstrate, by the way in which it makes 758 use of its provisions, its right to a further measure of educational autonomy than is the Principality of Wales.
§ Mr. GEORGE THORNE
I am glad to have an opportunity of saying a word in this Debate, and especially for the reason that my hon. and gallant colleague (General Hickman) spoke exactly in the opposite direction to that in which I desire to speak myself. He expressed himself as one of the few opponents of the measure. I come here as one of its strongest supporters. My hon. and gallant Friend expressed himself as representing the view held in the district from which he and I come. I do not know where he has gained that information from. The only communications! I have received in reference to the Bill have been heartily in its support and urging me to take my part here in support of it. I trust, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman will not be unduly depressed because my hon. and gallant colleague bore the testimony he did. I think I have as full opportunity for ascertaining the views of the neighbourhood from which he comes as he has, and the right hon. Gentleman may be sure that the Bill is supported there as heartily as it is in various other parts of the country. I should like to join in congratulating the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lewis) on his speech. We were all deeply interested, and I was especially interested' in his two arguments, in which he combated two opposition arguments earlier in the Debate. One was that this came at the wrong time. I entirely agree with him that we could not have a more proper time for introducing and passing this Bill than the present moment. If we delayed it, it would be disastrous. There are many reconstruction proposes about which I, for one, am bound to hold my hand. They are manifestly dependent upon the terms of peace. But whatever the terms of peace may be, it seems to me that there ought to be no doubt about the reconstruction proposals which come in this Bill, and that under any circumstances we are only-wise in promoting it so far as we possibly can. The other objection, which the right hon. Gentleman answered most effectively, was in regard to the cost, the question having been asked whether we can afford to pay this extra money in the interest of extra education. I agree with him that we cannot afford not to pay it. Is is only by paying this extra money that we can make useful and effective the-money we are already paying, because the 759 money, paid as it is, is so largely wasted, and it is only by the further measures proposed by this Bill that it can be made truly effective.
There is one aspect of the matter which, to my mind, has hardly been sufficiently dwelt upon. Notwithstanding the one or two adverse speeches which have been made, there is a general consensus of opinion in the House and outside in favour of this measure which calls for its speedy passing into law. I recognise that the object of the Bill, an object with which I am so absolutely in accord, was eloquently expressed by the right hon. Gentleman when he said that his aim was to strengthen the physique, to shape the character, and to enlarge the intelligence of the community. That is the end and aim and purpose of this Bill, and I, for one, and, I believe, all hon. Members here, earnestly desire that end to be accomplished. But, while I think we should pass the Bill, the mere passing of it will not effect that end. Whether that end is to be achieved will depend upon the working of the Bill, and while we are here providing the machinery, what I feel most anxious about is the motive power which is going to put it into motion. In very many parts of the country our educational machinery is put largely on the loose pulley—it has too little association with the main power—and what we need to do more than all, if the Bill is to be really effective and useful, is to so organise the power of the country that it shall use it effectively and enthusiastically when it is passed. I would refer to three aspects which we are bound to look to in this connection. The first is the support which is going to be obtained in the home of the child. It is only going to be effective when in the homes throughout our country there is a real earnest desire for education, and a stimulus given to the children who are to enjoy it. In that direction I was specially interested in the words of the right hon. Gentleman last week thatWe have many pieces of welcome evidence flowing into the Board to the effect that, as one of the results of the better education of the younger parents of the present day, parents are taking an ever greater interest in the school work of their children.I am glad to hear that testimony borne from such a source, and I trust it may be extended in the time to come. The hon. Member for Oldham last week used an expression in regard to education which seemed to me a most appropriate one. He 760 said that in the North there was a passion for education. I was delighted to hear it. I wish there might be a passion for education right through the country and in every home, for happy is the child who is born into a home where the passion for education provides the atmosphere in which he has to live. There he gets the stimulus, so often lacking, to enable him to use the opportunities which are furnished. I recognise with great pleasure the way in which the right hon. Gentleman has gone up and down the country to infuse this enthusiasm and passion for education. I should like to see it further extended. I wish it was possible that in published form his speech might get into every home in the land, in order that on every hand it might be discovered what our aims are and what possibilities there are in the future.
The next point has been already referred to, but it is so important that I trust I need make no apology for referring to it again, and that is the question of the teachers. We all know, peculiarly so in the present case, that the President of the Board of Education desires to improve to the fullest extent the position of the teachers. Upon them absolutely more than all else depends the success or failure of this measure. If we fail to get teachers, if we fail to get teachers of the right class, we may pass all the Bills in the world, but we can never make education what we desire it to be. Consequently, the supreme thing is to get a due supply of teachers, men and women, who are best qualified to undertake this responsible task, and to that end I believe two conditions are vitally necessary. The first is the status, the second is the emolument. The teaching profession has never yet attained to the status in the country, and has never yet received the emoluments which the men and women engaged in it so richly deserve. We make too much of the material side of life and too little of the spiritual side, and while I, for one, would not for a moment belittle the industry of money-making, I think the industry of man-making is infinitely more important, and those who are engaged in it ought to receive infinitely greater support than they do at the present time. I would like to see the teaching profession so raised in the estimation of the people that to join in it would be regarded as one of the highest privileges that any man or woman could enjoy. We have used the words so often in regard to children—the 761 educational ladder. I would like to see that ladder also applied to the teacher. We shall never get the best out of the child unless we can get the best out of the teacher, and we shall never get the best out of the teacher unless we give him due inducements to join the scholastic profession, and then stimulate him to bring forth his best endeavours once he has joined it. So many men and women work out long years of toil and weariness, doing their utmost loyally and faithfully, only to end their days with a little pittance. If this Bill will only be the means of developing, as I trust it may, especially under the kindly auspices of the present President of the Board of Education, the position and status of the teacher, it will do more than all else to bring about the end we desire.
I have only one further point which I desire to urge, and it is one with which I am more intimately associated. We not only want motive power from the home and from the teacher, but also from the education authorities, who are the means whereby the work is put into operation; and I am glad to say that the course taken by the President of the Board of Education has helped most enormously in this direction. As one associated with the municipalities I would like to acknowledge on their behalf the debt we owe to him for the care he has taken and the courtesy he has shown in meeting them in regard to the administrative proposals of this measure. By so doing a large amount of opposition has been entirely removed, and, I believe, it will be found in due course that that will be very helpful in the passing of this Bill. Still further, the method of the Bill is such that it has appealed very largely to education authorities. In the opening words of the speech of the President last week he referred to what he called the cardinal principle of the measure, and I recognise the point. This is not a bureaucratic measure. [An HON. MEMBER dissented.] I submit that it is not a bureaucratic measure; it is not intended to be a bureaucratic measure, and I believe those who are going to work the measure are recognising that. The Chairman of the Education Committee of the Association of Municipal Corporations, with which I have the honour to be associated, recognises that it is particularly a measure which gives greater opportunity to local authorities than ever before, and that it gives greater initiative to enable them, by means of schemes, to 762 adapt the system of education to their own localities than they have previously had. The President of the Board of Education emphasised that very strongly in the early part of his speech last week.
On these and other grounds the present proposal recommends itself very strongly to the Association of Municipal Corporations, who represent so very many of the local authorities which will work this Bill. Last week at the Education Committee of that association a resolution was passed which, on Thursday last, was unanimously confirmed by a very large meeting of the association itself, representative of all the large as well as many of the small municipalities in the country. In that resolution, while, of course, claiming the right to urge certain modifications when the Bill comes into Committee, they say that they will give cordial support to the measure and will co-operate with the Board in making its provisions thoroughly effective. I feel, therefore, that this Bill will come into being under the best possible auspices. We have learned already from the President that the homes of our country are influenced as never before in this direction, and we trust they will be influenced still more. The President by this Bill desires to improve the status and position of the teachers, and lie will be more helped than ever before, because the education authorities of the country, who will be the means of carrying this Bill into operation, are hearty in its support. I not only by my voice, but by my vote, earnestly support the passage of this Bill, and I feel that there are grounds that we may all expect that this Bill, once it is passed into law, will be so used as to be beneficent to the children of the whole country.
§ Mr. HIGHAM
I give the Bill my whole-hearted support. All my life I have been against half-time workers. I have always been in favour of raising the age, and I advocated it, although I had practically the whole of the workpeople against me, twelve or fifteen years ago. My suggestion was that we should raise the age half a year every two years until it got to sixteen years. I am glad this Bill goes up to fourteen anyhow. I want to make a suggestion here, because it is evident from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman last week that he did not quite grasp the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Chorley (Sir H. Hibbert), nor did he quite grasp the difficulties of the eight-hours-per-week course of educa- 763 tion in the continuation schools for children between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. I suggest that before we get to that Clause in Committee he should call a meeting of the trade union representatives of the textile trades and the employers, and that they should try to work out a scheme for providing the eight hours' education, or for finding out, if it is practicable, a means of dividing the eight hours. I confess that I have tried to work out a scheme myself, but I have failed, because I do not see that it is possible by taking eight hours away from work to give eight hours for education. We have in the factories fifty-five hours' weekly working, whereas in the schools you have only twenty-five, or, including playtime, twenty-seven and a half hours' education per week. If young persons between fourteen and eighteen years of age wish to attend the continuation classes in the forenoon in order to get three hours' teaching, they must lose four hours' work. If they have it in the afternoon, they will get two and a half hours' teaching and must lose four hours' work. If they have it for a whole day they will get five and a-half hours' teaching and must lose ten hours of work. That is a problem which I think my right hon. Friend will find he has to solve, and I am sure he will best work it out by taking into consultation the two sections I have named, namely, the trade union representatives, who know the textile trade through and through, and the employers. My hon. Friend (Mr. G. Thorne) has referred to the teachers. I am with him there. It is necessary to make the teacher's avocation more attractive. The question arises whether that can be done solely by approaching it from one point of view. Out of every four teachers three are women. I have always found in the days when I was on education committees in my own county that a stumbling-block was the question of the number of year which a woman teacher would devote to her avocation. The question of marriage was always coming up, and we always felt that we had to weigh carefully in our minds what should the nation spend on preparing a girl to be a teacher, with the knowledge that perhaps in two or three years that money may be lost, so far as the teaching profession is concerned, and the girl will retire from the ranks of teachers. With men the problem is easy. If they enter the teaching profession they 764 are there for life, and I do think that, for men especially, the chances in the future should be made far better than they have been in the past. They might start perhaps not higher, but they should have an opportunity of rising to far higher salaries than they have risen in the past. There should be a more gradual scale, rising continuously to higher levels, and if that were adopted women who left the profession earlier would naturally never reach the higher scale.
There is another suggestion which I would like my right hon. Friend to consider and which the House may say is a peculiar one. I 'have heard my Friends and colleagues on the Labour Benches saying that the children in elementary schools have not one chance in fifty of rising compared with the children of the middle classes. I do not think that many of my Friends have realised that in education for the purposes of life there is no royal road to success. In elementary schools the instruction is given in twenty-seven and a half hours during the week: that is, twenty-five hours of teaching and two and a half hours in the playground. As compared with that, I might instance the case of a secondary school where they were under the influence of a teacher not for twenty-seven and a half hours, but for sixty-three hours per week. I do not know any reason why the elementary schools should not meet on Saturdays as well as the other five days of the week. It may sound a revolutionary proposal.
§ Mr. HIGHAM
I will take up that point a little later. This Bill proposes quite properly to add to the curriculum, handicrafts, and carpentry for boys and laundry work for girls. I do not know how these extra classes could be fitted in at the present time. Even now we recognise that there are several subjects which ought to be taught in our elementary schools that are not taught. I do not think that geography is taught in one school in fifty. English grammar is seldom taught. History is never taught. Yet we all feel that these subjects should be dealt with as well as those which are usually taught. If Saturdays were given as well it would not mean necessarily that the hours of instruction would be lengthened. Children could have more time in the playground. Teachers would have influence for a longer time over the children. I think that it would be found advantageous to 765 the children and the teachers. In the higher grade and secondary schools, where the teachers all join in the play as well as in the work of the children, where the moral influence of the teacher is exercised over a larger number of hours and to a greater extent than it is in elementary schools, it is all for the good of the children. I have heard expert after expert in address after address deal with the children in elementary schools, and I never heard a single expert say that it was for the good of the children to have them playing out in the streets after school hours. They learn nothing good in the streets. They are perhaps with older boys and girls and people whose influence generally is often of the wrong sort. I have heard hon. Members say that parental control should be exercised after school hours, but when the father comes home from the factory or the foundry he is too tired to begin to look after the children and to teach them or spend his time with them. The mother has her household duties to perform, and it is generally found when the children come home from school that the mother is only too glad to say, "Run away and play," and they go into the streets with their companions and learn nothing good there.
If the teachers had a longer time in which to exercise their influence, part of the instruction might be given in domestic economy in the afternoon. There might be even tea in the school, and there would be the preparing of the tea, and the teachers would be a longer time with the children. My hon. Friend says that the teachers would object. I think they might in the beginning, but they would recognise what the best of the teachers even now recognise. These teachers give a good many hours of their time outside of school hours for the benefit of the children. They take charge of boy scout movements, or honorary classes, or girls' friendly societies, or various organisations in which the children gather together in the evenings, and that which is done by the best of the teachers cannot be injurious to the remainder of the teachers, and there would be in this extension of hours of work greater claim for higher salary which they would get for the number of hours work that are now devoted to unofficial duties, because the authorities do not recognise and cannot be induced to recognise the unofficial duties. The avocation which our young 766 men and women adopt at present is one involving 27½hours work per week for forty-one or forty-two weeks in the year. Some of the teachers give more time to the work, but the authorities will only recognise the official time, and that is why, I think, that the teaching profession would do well to consider a method of raising the standard of their profession, improving their position, and increasing their salaries by giving longer official hours to the children, by mixing themselves up more with the daily life of the children and by exercising a general influence over those children's lives throughout the whole of the years in which the children go to school. This Bill raises the school age from thirteen to fourteen. That is, it adds two years, or, if the children are half-timers, it adds one year to their time in school; but the addition of Saturday to the school attendance would really add two years to every child's school life before the child comes to fourteen years of age. From that point of view it would revolutionise education in our country. It may turn out not to be practicable, that the objection of the teachers would be so strong that it could not be done, but I do feel that it would be worth consideration and discussion, and if the idea were carried into effect that it would be of considerable benefit to the children and make them more fit for the life to come after they leave school. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, I have always been against half-time work. When I have gone back to Lancashire I have always regretted seeing so many little boys working in the spinning rooms, and I believe that labour at that early age tends to stunt the growth of the child, and continues in the second and third generation. It is regrettable to find such conditions of work in regard to children in our factories. For that reason alone, I think it is a splendid thing that this Bill should seek to raise the age of child labour. But I would once more impress upon the President of the Board of Education that he should consult with the representatives of trade unions and employers with a view to coming to some practical proposal, though I do not think the number of hours proposed by the Bill is a practical proposal. In regard to half-time between fourteen and sixteen, the right hon. Gentleman objected that it would lead to blind alley occupations, but I would point out to him that in the textile trade, in 767 the weaving branch, 80 per cent. of the employés are women, and a substantial number of them go on weaving until they marry, when they cease doing that work, so that, as they are displaced, boys and girls can step forward. A child of thirteen, fourteen or fifteen years of age could learn weaving in three or four months, and would earn 26s. to 30s. a week. The right hon. Gentleman will see that there is an outflow from the work, which leaves room for the inflow, and that there could not possibly be, therefore, a blocking of the channel, or a blind alley occupation. I hope he will consider the suggestions I have made.
Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS
I simply intervene for a few moments to make a few remarks upon the child-labour Side of the Bill. I wish to recall a certain experience of mine in regard to this problem. It will be within the remembrance of the Labour Members of the House. that as far back as 1899 the "Daily News" made a very special investigation into the problem of child labour, in conjunction with the National Union of Teachers and the Half-Time Council, and that agitation culminated in the Solictor-General (Mr. W. S. Robson) bringing in a Bill for raising the age. At that time I was responsible for an investigation as special commissioner of the "Daily News," and I made a very great many inquiries as to the effects of half-time work from the physiological, economic, and educational point of view. I was able to bring together a certain mass of material which certainly very considerably affected the judgment of this House. The Robson Bill became law and the age at which children could go to work at half-time was raised from eleven years to twelve years. Some eight or nine years subsequent to that I prepared for the Half-Time Council a most comprehensive test of results of the Act in the case of the whole half-time population, in both the cotton and woollen textile industries. I again applied the test upon which we had proceeded in 1899. All I desire on this occasion to do is, without attempting to make an elaborate speech, to put before hon. Members certain results of the investigations I made. In the eight years of the operation of the Act, which raised the age from eleven to twelve years, the result was, in the case of the whole of 768 the half-time population in the woollen and cotton trades of Lancashire and West Yorkshire, that, whereas in. 1899, which was the year before the Robson Act came into operation, and, therefore, at the age of thirteen the half-timer would have had two years of half-time work, the average height of the hall-time child at the age of thirteen was 53 inches and seven-tenths; in 1907, after eight years of the operation of the Rob-son Act, that is to say, where the child of thirteen would only have had a year of work in the mill instead of two years, the height had jumped to just a fraction over 55 inches. Taking the weight in the same way, we made our investigations before the Robson Bill was introduced, and the average weight, at thirteen, of the half-time child, after two years in the mill, was 69¼ lbs.; but, in 1907, or after eight years' experience of the Robson Act, the weight of the child had gone up to a little over 76 lbs. I am not going to attempt to go exhaustively into details, but these are the two broad physiological facts.
I can give the hon. Member the figures for the half-timers in Lancashire and West Yorkshire, and also the comparative figures as between the half-timer and the full-day schoolboy, and also the public schoolboy. If the House will forgive me, I shall be very glad to give the comparative figures. The height for the full-day scholar in 1907 was 55.9 ins. as compared with the 55 ins. of the half-timer at the age of thirteen. The weight of the full-day scholar in the same school as the half-timer in Lancashire and West Yorkshire was 77.4 lbs. as compared with the half-timer's weight of 75 lbs. Taking the average schoolboy, his weight at the age of thirteen was 32 lbs. and height 56.9 ins. The public schoolboy at the age of thirteen weighed 92 lbs., with a height of 59½ins. Those are figures based on heights taken at all the great public schools, and, as to the average English boy, taken from something like 150 schools distributed over the country, apart from what I may call the half-time districts. So much for what I may call the physiological side of the problem. There is the economic side, and in proportion to what I may call the supposed economic advantage from the point of view of family income, the employing of 769 the half-timer has not varied even with all the great variations which have taken place in the wage conditions of the country. It is true that actual figures will have varied very much, but at the time the investigations were made, and I spent some six months upon them in 1899 with the help of the Half-time Council, to whom I feel personally very grateful, and to whom I venture to say the country is deeply indebted, the proportion of half-timers' earnings to the total family income was as 2s. 6d. is to £3 10s.
We have heard, of course, for a, very considerable period, the argument that the half-timer ought to be allowed to continue because he so very often is the child of the poor widow. One was able to trace, both in 1898 and again in 1906–7, the case of every half-timer's family in Lancashire, and also in 1898–9, and the House will be interested to note that the number of half-timers who were the children of widows only amounted to something like 3½ per cent. of the total. In 1906–7 the percentage was only something like 2¼ of the total. As a matter of fact, one has found over and over again that the widow has made sacrifices to enable her child to take full and complete advantage of the educational opportunities. That leads me to the next point, although at this hour, as I know, hon. Members are so anxious for the Second Beading of the Bill, I cannot trouble them with all the details. One of the most painful things to find is how extraordinarily the young half-timer has been made to suffer on the educational side with regard to scholarships. From 1897 to 1908 the proportion of scholarships which were opened to children in the Lancashire and West Yorkshire schools, regardless of whether they were half-timers or full-day scholars, taken by the half-timers, was only 4½ per cent. I could give the House, if there were time, exhaustive tests for every school, board school and national school, in every half-time town and village in Lancashire and Yorkshire as to the results of educational tests applied in history, in geography, and in arithmetic to the half-time scholars and to the full-day scholars in those places. The result is absolutely to explode beyond the possibility of revival the suggestion that the half-time system is good to quicken the wits and sharpen the intellects of the little half-timer. There never was any argument advocated or urged in connection with any problem with which we are faced so lacking in foundation and so absolutely contrary, to 770 the whole truth. If any hon. Members have any doubt on the matter, I shall be glad to supply them with the complete results of the tests which have been taken in every school in the half-time areas. The result of the passing of the Robson Bill into law, taken over a. period of eight or nine years, is that the number of scholars who got to the sixth standard in 1907 compared with the number who got there in half-time schools in 1898 had increased 67 per cent., and the scholars who had got to the seventh standard, eight years after that Act came into operation, had increased by no less than 86 per cent.
I have only one other observation to make, and that is in relation to what was said by the last speaker as to youngsters going into the weaving sheds at thirteen or fourteen years of age. For thirty years, whenever there has been a proposal to raise the age of the half-timer in Lancashire, the argument has been advanced that it is necessary that the age should be kept down, because the earlier the age the greater the manual dexterity of the little one. We were told over and over again, when the age was attempted to be raised, that if you raised it from nine to ten then that lithesomeness, that special finger looseness, that manual dexterity of the little one would be lost. I felt, when I was making these inquiries, that this was one of those technical arguments bearing so essentially on the trade for which it was advanced that we ought to have exhaustive tests made, and, in conjunction with the late lamented Member for Bolton and with the then Member for Bury (Mr. Kenyon) we carried out a whole series of tests in. Bury, Bolton, and a number of other places, and we found that a child going in at the age of thirteen acquired the necessary dexterity for piecing in something like a fourth of the time required by a child of eleven. We also found, incidentally, that children who had been taught to play the piano acquired extra special dexterity as compared with children who had not been so taught. I said I was not going to trespass long on the time of the House, and I will, therefore, simply ask the House, on the physiological grounds and all they may imply in the direction of humane consideration, on educational grounds, on economic grounds, and on what I may call the purely trade ground of manual dexterity to pass this Bill. unanimously.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. KING
We have listened to an extremely interesting and valuable speech 771 from the hon. Member for Glamorganshire East (Mr. Clement Edwards)—a speech which I shall not attempt to follow, but I wish to say I think we are all greatly indebted to the hon. Member for the long service, now extending over nearly twenty years, he has given on behalf of those who wish to see child labour limited. I cannot begin my remarks to-night without reference to the loss which this House has sustained since we met last week, by the death of Sir Swire Smith, the Member for Keighley. I think the hon. Gentleman was not well known—not intimately known—to many Members, but, at any rate, he was to me. I was acquainted with his lifelong work for education. The book which he recently published on education has a singular significance for child life at the present time, and that impels me to express the deep regret I entertain that the House has lost that hon. Member at this moment, and the sense I feel that a really great educationist has passed away. I must congratulate the President of the Board of Education on the wonderful amount of praise and admiration bestowed upon him. I have no doubt both the praise and the admiration are well deserved, but I seem to remember a warning in regard to those men of whom everybody speaks well, and I am going to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman ought to beware, in the first instance, because he is a member of a Government which, I believe, is neither strong nor well supported. I have been spending a long week-end in my Constituency, and I found the Government to be unpopular everywhere with every party. Then, also, the right hon. Gentleman is a representative of the Board of Education, and, while I trust him, I do not trust the Board of Education. That body began a very bad career when, in 1902, it was really under the domination of Sir Robert Morant, who was a Prussian of the most Prussian dye, and who was a bureaucrat, who governed not only his office, but the Ministers over him. That spirit of Prussianism and bureaucracy is maintained still in the Board of Education; indeed, I am not quite sure "whether it has not imposed its influence upon the right hon. Gentleman. At any rate, I feel this, that the record of the Board of Education during the last three years has been so. discreditable that I doubt sometimes even the sincerity of the 772 right hon. Gentleman himself. I could pile up, if necessary, a long list of indictments against the Board of Education which make me think that they are not quite sincere. I believe the right hon. Gentleman is sincere, but his Board is not. During my visit to my Constituency I have seen many school teachers. I would like to tell the right hon. Gentleman that the feeling among school teachers at the present time is not one of happiness and buoyancy, and this feeling has found expression at various meetings of the teachers in the county of Somerset, at which they have protested against the fact that they do not get even a living wage. The conditions of life of school teachers and their emoluments are inadequate. I see my right hon. Friend agrees, but what is the minimum scale he has accepted? It is inadequate still, and moreover, the conditions under which these teachers work are inadequate. I put an Amendment on the Paper, but, of course, I cannot move it under the conditions under which we are now debating, but in it I indicated clearly enough that the conditions under which the teachers are now working are inadequate, unfair, and unjust Since I put that down I have had letters from teachers in different parts of the country wishing me success, and hoping that I will press this point forward, namely, that at the present time teachers everywhere are under conditions of life and emolument that are not satisfactory. I do not see in this Bill any assurance to them that they will be better off.
Of course, I know it is the intention of the right hon. Gentleman himself that teachers shall in future be under better conditions, but one of the letters I have received is from a head teacher under one of the very best authorities in the Kingdom, the West Riding County Council and the West Riding Education Committee. He complained that whereas he is a widower with two daughters who are employed in the neighbouring city of Bradford, he is compelled by the conditions under which he lives to live in the town some way out of Bradford, in which his school is situated, and though there is a perfectly satisfactory train service and other conditions which would enable him to carry out to the very fullest extent his duties there, by the rules of the West Riding County Council he is prevented from living where his own family ties and conditions of life make it desirable he 773 should live. In fact, the conditions under which this very superior head teacher—a teacher in a very large school—exists are that he must not only teach every hour that is due to his employers at the school, but he must live the whole of his life there too. That is the sort of condition prevailing, even under a very first-class authority, against which teachers revolt, and naturally revolt. One of the things that I object to in this Bill is that the conditions of life of teachers are not assured to them, and that they are still going to be under the power of the bureaucracy either of the county education committee, the county council, or the Board of Education. This is, I believe, very largely, as has been said already by one speaker, a bureaucratic Bill. It is not a democratic Bill. I have said I have my suspicions of the Board of Education; I have even my suspicions of the President of the Board, because I am not quite sure that he is a true democrat. I do not think he is a democrat in the sense that I am, but comparisons are odious between the right hon. Gentleman and myself, and let me explain what I mean. I want to see education built up upon the desire, and control, and impulse of the people. I do not want to see education pressed down upon them by a bureaucracy from above. I am very much afraid that the whole scheme of this Bill is bureaucratic. What does it start out with at the beginning? That the superior persons in the Board of Education and in the county council are to make the scheme for all the inferior people beneath them. No idea of consulting the parents. No; if you consult the county council that is enough. No opportunities, except in case of difference, for a local inquiry, or for getting the opinions of representative bodies of the workers. Not at all. The scheme is to be imposed upon them by two superior bodies, the Board of Education and the county council, and the democracy is to take what is kindly imposed upon them. That is the Prussian system. It may give a very good educational system; it may give a very balanced and well-adapted system of schools and educational bodies, but it is not democratic education. It does not spring from the opinions, the wishes, and the impulses of the people themselves.
The fault I find with this Bill, which I shall do my best to support as far as I can, and to improve too, when it comes into Committee, is that in the whole 774 scheme of it it is not really democratic. It is Prussian, or rather let me say—as I do not want to use epithets that are unfair, because, after all, as a friend of education, I am at one with the right hon. Gentleman—the system he has here is not democratic, but bureaucratic. I shall venture to take one or two instances from the Bill itself which will show what I mean. I have already cited the way in which these schemes are to be developed and imposed upon the ratepayers, parents, teachers, and others by the separate authorities. I will take another Clause which has not been much discussed, I think, on Second Heading, but which is a very important one. I mean Clause 19, which deals with nursery schools. Nursery schools are to be established under this Bill. As a matter of fact, there are a few nursery schools already established, and they are getting Grants, but this system of nursery schools is to be established. Very well. It sounds quite right, and to a certain extent I approve of it, but what are the conditions under which these nursery schools are to be established? They are not to be established as a right of the people—that is to say, all authorities are not to establish nursery schools, but, where the housing conditions suggest, nursery schools are to be introduced. I believe in a system of education which will give the whole nation, at any rate, fair opportunities, but the right hon. Gentleman is bringing in a Bill which, as I read Clause 19, means that where the housing is bad we are going to give a make-weight for bad housing by establishing nursery schools. I say that is an encouragement for the continuation of bad housing. The words are quite clear, and the right hon. Gentleman knows the Clause, of course. Nursery schools are not going to be for all young children from two to five, but only for those whose attendance at such: school is necessary or desirable for their healthy physical or mental development.
In other words, the right to education in a publicly managed school is to depend not on the rights of citizenship, and is not to be free and open to all, but to those who can show that they live in slums—putting a premium on slums. I object to the whole idea of the Clause on the ground that it is offering a certain class of education to those who live in slums, and sayings to those who live in decent houses, "No, these schools are not for you." That is a bureaucratic method of 775 dealing with a social evil, because it is not a democratic method. It is giving a privilege to those who are oppressed and poorest which you do not give to all. I want equal privileges and opportunities for all, whether they are poor or not. The point here is a very important one, and I think it is a touchstone of the real sincerity so far as democratic education goes in this Bill. If in any area there are a large number of nursery schools, taking children from two to five, then there is a power given under a previous Clause to put up the age of attendance at elementary schools from five to six. What does that mean? It means that in those areas where nursery schools are going to be largely developed the well-brought-up, well-housed child is not to be allowed to attend school till six. As the Education Acts from 1870 onwards have established the right of the children, independently of wealth or anything else, to go to a public elementary school from five years onwards, I say that is an interference with, and robbing of, the rights of the people, and it is doing so in order to favour those who live in slums. You cannot tell me after this that this is a democratic Bill. It is not. It is a bureaucratic Bill for dealing with social evils; but for putting education on a really democratic basis. it is nothing of the sort.
I will just touch on one other point in connection with these nursery schools, which I shall have the opportunity, I hope, of enlarging upon in Committee; but I may as well give a warning to my right hon. Friend. Are these nursery schools going to be under the local education authority or not? It is not clear from the. Bill. As nursery schools are at present established, they are established by religious organisations or voluntary associations. Quite a number of them—I believe almost the majority—have been established by Roman Catholic fraternities and sisterhoods. It is very good work, no doubt, but why should this sort of institution get large grants and help from the rates, and be allowed to take the children away, and so develop that the children, instead of going in at five, are to go in at six years of age? I object to the popular rights of education being taken away and handed over to voluntary associations like those that are carrying on these nursery schools, which are to receive much larger Grants from, public 776 funds and public rates. And then, I suppose, the right hon. Gentleman led us to believe that this is democratic legislation. There are, of course, quite a number of points to which I should like to refer in connection with this Bill, and if it is on the floor of the House, or whether it is in Committee, if I am on the Committee I shall have the opportunity of doing so.
I shall only refer to one more point to-night, and that is the position with regard to free education. I very much welcome the Clause, although it is not quite on the lines which I should have drawn, which is going to make all schools free schools. There are some people who have felt, as I have felt, certain suspicions as to the real democratic tendencies of the Board of Education and file President, who would not have supported this Bill but they see that in future the elementary education of this country is really to be free in every school. I have repeatedly in this House, on the Education Estimates, called attention to the absurdity, nothing less than the absurdity, of schools receiving the fee Grant and yet charging fees. The fee Grant, which was given by Act of Parliament to schools which would remit all fees, is still by a subterfuge paid to schools which demand fees from their scholars, and in increasing numbers in the last few years. In certain parts of the country you can hardly find a school that is not a fee school. I have again and again called attention to this scandal, and I have demanded returns from the Board of Education, which I am glad to think have been granted. If to-day this Bill has a Clause which is going to make all schools free, I can congratulate myself—rightly or wrongly I do not know—that I have had some effect in bringing about that change. Whether that be so or not, there are few consolations one finds in this House, and even if these consolations are slightly founded, permit me to have them on this occasion. I am led to make a few remarks on this subject because the hon. Member for Oxford spoke earlier in the Debate on this subject, and intimated that he thought it a bad thing that if there were people ready to pay fees for schools they should not be allowed to do so. That is an undemocratic sentiment. If there are superior people who can show their superiority by being above taking free education for their children, let them be superior. I am a democrat, and I am democratic in education, and I say one of 777 the necessities of education is to make it a right, and an equal right, which can be exercised without fear and without any sense of preference or superiority by one class or another, and I strongly take exception to the remarks of the hon. Member for Oxford. Though he threatened opposition in Committee, yet I venture to think we shall have the position that has been taken up in the Bill carried through, and that there will be no giving away of the principle of elementary education from this time forward being free once and for all, and completely free,
I do not intend to say anything more now, accept to appeal most earnestly to the President of the Board of Education to show a popular and democratic spirit. I think he has one, and I want him to have an authority over his Board and the influences of the Government, or the Treasury, or whatever it is behind him. I want him to have that influence over them which he has over this House, and to exert it in a really popular manner. He has been about the country, and he has achieved a great and notable success in speaking to large and enthusiastic audiences everywhere. I hope he has learned a real democratic feeling and sympathy from that campaign which he has undertaken. I believe he has, and I appeal to him to-night in connection with this Bill, which I shall certainly support but certainly try to amend when it comes into Committee in a great many ways, to make the scheme and the details of it as largely as possible based, not on the theory and aims of his office, or of the higher local authorities, but on the wishes and the demands and the impulses of the people at large.
§ Major DAVID DAVIES
I wish to draw the attention of the President of the Board of Education to one omission from the Bill, and it is that there are no special Clauses dealing with the educational system and organisation which we desire in the Principality. We find that both Scotland and Ireland are excluded from the provisions of this measure. Several hon. Members have expressed their opinion as to the interest which Wales has always taken in educational matters. Hon. Members know perfectly well that in Wales we have not only a complete system of elementary education, but we also have an intermediate system closely linked up with our national university. The people of Wales desire a unified organisation which will link up our university and our elementary education. 778 In Clause 23 I find that the draftsmen appear to have had some difficulty in making this Clause apply to the institutions of England and Wales, and they have had to skate round this difficulty.
That is only a small example of the difficulty of combining the English and the Welsh system to meet all the problems that arise. No attempt has been made to create or initiate the National Council of Education, which has been demanded by many of the leading educationists of Wales for a great number of years. I ask my right hon. Friend whether he could not at a later date give us some promise that he will introduce another measure which shall be applied exclusively to Wales? We all know perfectly well that the reason why Ireland and Scotland secured this preferential treatment is because they have the good fortune to have in this House Ministers who represent them on the Treasury Bench in the Secretary for Scotland and the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Personally, I believe we shall never get the institutions we require in Wales until we secure a Welsh office and a complete system of Welsh administration. It is quite true that there is at the Board of Education a Welsh Department, but I do not believe it has brought about the results which were anticipated when it was created. We have also at the Board of Education my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary (Mr. J. H. Lewis), and I do implore him to give sympathetic consideration to the proposals which have come up and which are constantly coming up from Wales with regard to local autonomy for our educational requirements. After all, we find, as my hon. Friend told us a few moments ago, that the real success of any educational policy depends upon the attitude of the people and upon trusting the people to work out these problems on their own account. We can never get that co-operation and that interest and enthusiasm for education unless these matters are left to the localities concerned. In Wales we have already a system which is unique and of which we are extremely proud. There is one other point to which I should like to draw attention. Under Clause 39 it is proposed to appoint trustees to safeguard educational endowments. I should like to suggest to my right hon. Friend that he should amend this Clause in order that there may be a special trustee appointed to deal with Welsh educational endowments, so that 779 for the future all Welsh endowments may be separated from those applying to England. I would like to press on the Government, in these days when we hear so much about the rights of small nationalities, that they should, in spite of the bureaucracy of which my hon. Friend (Mr. King) has spoken, make some effort to give to Wales autonomy in this matter, and so pave the way for a greater reform at a later stage which will satisfy the aspirations of the Welsh people.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Thursday.—[Mr. J. Hope.]