§ Order of the Day for receiving the Report of the Amendments read.
§ Moved, "That the Report be now received."—(The Earl of Crewe.)
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I hope your Lordships will not consider that I am trespassing on your indulgence, or disregarding the usual forms of the House, if I venture to say a very few words to you on the subject of the Amendments on the Paper, and on those which your Lordships have already accepted. Whether your Lordships approve of that course or not, I am sure you will be with me in one observation which I desire to make at the outset, and that is to express my regret that the most rev. Primate should be prevented by indisposition from being here to-night. It is not necessary for me to dwell on the distinguished part he has taken in these debates. Those who had the advantage of listening to his speeches on the Second Reading of the Bill, on going into Committee, and in Committee itself must, I think, have admitted that there have been few occasions on which an individual Member of this House has borne a larger or a more honourable part in the discussion of a great subject. And, if I may be permitted to say so, it seems to me that the speeches which he has delivered are in themselves a sufficient answer to what 187 I must say has always seemed to me to be a most preposterous suggestion— namely, that there is something excessive or improper in the part which has been taken by the Episcopal Bench in this controversy. They can claim, if any Members of this House can claim, to be experts on this subject, and I think we may say without hesitation that their expert knowledge has been imparted to us in a manner which we all appreciate and value.
I observe, my Lords that complaint has been made of the inordinate bulk of the House of Lords' Amendments. To my mind, that is a most inconclusive argument. Surely, in a case of this kind we do not measure the Amendments by the standard of the foot rule. Surely we have a right to consider what backing of common sense and common justice lies behind them, and, if we are to be told that our Amendments bulk too large, I hope noble Lords opposite will remember the great difficulty of the task which they have given to us. Can any of your Lordships recollect a Bill more intricate and perplexing than the Bill on the Table of the House, and although the subject itself is a perplexing one, it has, if I may be pardoned for saying so, been rendered more perplexing by the manner in which it has been presented to us by His Majesty's Government.
For, my Lords, His Majesty's Government did not start, as they might have started, with the frank admission that in this country it was desirable that there should be some variety in our system of national education. They started, on the contrary, with an attempt to establish a hard and fast rule for the whole of our schools, and with one sweep of the net they brought within its compass the whole of the 14,000 voluntary schools of England. Although no doubt their hearts smote them, and although they did make an attempt here and there to enlarge the mesh, so as to allow a certain number of schools to escape, they guarded the exit so closely that even those schools which may be so fortunate as to extricate themselves, find themselves not restored to their former position of freedom, but subject to a most irksome and harrowing tutelage. In the result you have given us a Bill containing concessions, most of which we regard as worthless, and you offer 188 us in substitution for the system which you are abolishing a system under which no local education authority need provide or permit any religious instruction, denominational or undenominational; a system under which no parent need send his child to receive such religious instruction; a system under which no teacher, however willing, could be required to give it. I must say that when you offer us these terms you offer us, not a settlement, but a capitulation.
Another thing which is to be borne in mind is this—that the bulk of the clauses of this Bill were never properly discussed before they came to this House. One House of Parliament owes a great deal to and derives great benefit from the discussions which take place in the other. We had no such assistance in the case of a great number of the most important clauses in this Bill. We all of us on this side acknowledge the unvarying courtesy with which we have been met by the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council, but to that we must, I am afraid, add that under that courteous exterior there lurked an amount of dogged tenacity which we may indeed have admired, but which did not lend itself to an amicable settlement of many of these thorny points. We had to grope our way unassisted amongst the puzzles and pitfalls of this Bill, and I am quite prepared to admit that many of the Amendments which we have inserted in it may be somewhat inartistic in their structure. I am not surprised that that should be so. But if they were inartistic, we were, at any rate, able to support them by weighty arguments, a great many of them supplied by Ministers themselves, those very Ministers who now give us to understand that our Amendments are so excessive that they are not even to be considered or discussed.
I pass for one moment to the clauses of the Bill. I observe that there are one or two Amendments put down to the first clause. As to that, may I say that we deprecate any further alteration of that clause? It is the clause under which public control, which we are told is the principle of the Bill, is asserted. We have inserted in it a single Amendment which we do not regard as inconsistent with that public control, and we should be sorry to see any further 189 attempt made to alter the wording of the clause. With regard to Clause 2, this is certainly a clause in which we have inserted very lengthy Amendments. I am quite ready to admit that, so far as the form of the clause as it now stands is concerned, it may be capable of improvement, but in point of substance we shall certainly adhere to the Amendments which we have inserted. In our view it should not be left open to any local authority to refuse to take over a school which is able to comply with what I may call the statutory conditions merely because that local authority, for reasons of its own, would prefer that the school should not be taken over. That is the substance of our Amendment; the form does not matter very much to us. I dwell on that because I see that the noble Duke below the gangway (the Duke of Devonshire) has put down Amendments with the object of restoring Clause 2 to the shape in which it first reached this House, but he has also put down other Amendments, in the form of a new clause, which have the effect of providing that, if the local authority decline to take over a school, an appeal shall lie to the Commission, which shall make a scheme if what I have called the statutory conditions are complied with. Those Amendments read together seem to give us all that we desire, and if in point of form they appear more satisfactory to His Majesty's Government, we shall be very glad to see them substituted for the provisions of the Bill as they now stand.
I come to Clause 3. My noble friend Lord St. Aldwyn has put down an Amendment which has the effect of removing from the Bill the Amendment which your Lordships accepted at the instance of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford. I believe a considerable number of the noble Lords who voted for the Bishop of Oxford's Amendment had some doubts, on reflection, whether they were wise in supporting it. We, at any rate, regarding the matter as one rather of degree than of principle, concur with, my noble friend behind me in desiring that the clause should be restored to its original shape. Then, my Lords, on Clause 3 there arises an extremely important point in connection with what we usually speak of as the grant of facilities to council schools in single school areas. I have never heard 190 a discussion upon this question in which the grievance of the minority in single school areas was not admitted, and I believe it will be the view of your Lordships generally that this Bill will be incomplete if some attempt is not made to deal with that grievance. I speak of the grievance of the minority in single school areas, no matter what the complexion of the single school is, whether it is a Cowper-Temple school or a denominational school of any kind.
Here your Lordships will recollect that a very important Amendment was moved by my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh, but in the opinion of many of your Lordships that Amendment went too far, and it was not pressed to a division. We do not desire to revive it, and we understand the reluctance which has been expressed in many quarters to anything which could be regarded as a needless interference with the council schools, but we do think that in some cases such interference is necessary. With that object the House accepted an Amendment of the right rev. Prelate who presides over the see of Hereford. But your Lordships will remember that his Amendment provides only for the case of single schools in rural areas. We regard that distinction between rural and urban areas as an arbitrary and unreasonable distinction. Moreover, we have satisfied ourselves on inquiry that the Amendment inserted at the instance of the right rev. Prelate is one which would present almost insuperable difficulties of an administrative kind. We, therefore, think that other words should be inserted in the Bill, and my noble friend, Lord Salisbury, will move to insert words with this object, allowing Section (3) facilities for a reasonable number of children, only if the local authority are satisfied that the children cannot conveniently attend other schools, and "so far as shall be reasonably practicable." I am tempted to hope that as this wording allows considerable discretion to the local authority, His Majesty's Government, whose watchword in these debates has been confidence in the local authority, will not regard the Amendment as open to serious objection.
In Clause 4 our object has been, as we have often told your Lordships, to render these facilities attainable by those whom they are intended to assist. We have 191 made the clause mandatory because we believe that if you lay down, as you do in this section, very stringent conditions, it should follow as a matter of course that those who are able to fulfil those conditions should have the boon promised to them by the clause in question. In the same way we have abolished the distinction between urban and rural areas, because we regard it as an arbitrary and inequitable one. But further on in the clause there arises a point of very serious difficulty. I refer to the provision in which we have laid down that the view of the majority of the parents is to prevail. In my opinion a very strong case was made in favour of the substitution of the bare majority for the original proportion of four-fifths. I have never myself been able to see why in the case of these schools it should be put within the power of a minority of the parents to disturb the well-established condition of things.
But, my Lords, I must add to that that when I supported the proposal that the majority should be allowed to prevail, I did so because I hoped to see words inserted further on in the Bill under which a very liberal and generous provision would be made to meet the requirements of the minority in these extended facilities schools. Your Lordships will recollect that Lord Cadogan moved an Amendment with this object, and that it did not find favour with the House. That having happened, I regard the case in favour of the majority as compared with a fraction as having become much less strong, and therefore I am prepared to support my noble friend Lord Londonderry's proposal that we should substitute for a bare majority the fraction of two-thirds. But I must add that, in my opinion, the two-thirds should be calculated not on the basis of the total number of parents, but on the basis of the number of parents actually taking part in the ballot. I have never been able to see on what reasonable grounds those parents who are so indifferent to these things that they absent themselves altogether from the ballot are to be counted as if they were actual opponents of the desired facilities.
There is one other point in Clause 4 to which I must refer. It is impossible for us to leave that part of the clause which follows exactly as it stands. We have so framed it, owing to the accident 192 of debate, that in its present shape it leaves it open to one dissentient child to stand in the way of the granting of extended facilities to a school, even if that school for all other reasons is fully entitled to such facilities. That was not the intention, I believe, of your Lordships' House, and we must find some means of correcting it. I have ventured to put an Amendment upon the Table with that object, and I shall have the honour of explaining it to the House later in the evening.
With regard to Clause 5. I am glad to see that His Majesty's Government have reconsidered their attitude in regard to appeals, and are bringing up Amendments which, whatever we may say of the details, seem to us to contemplate a more businesslike mode of dealing with the whole question of appeals under this Bill. Of the other clauses I need say but little. With regard to Clause 6, our only desire is that the procedure for obtaining facilities for new schools should not be of an obstructive character, and that it should be founded on the lines on which the earlier clauses are drawn. With regard to Clause 7 we desire to make no change.
With regard to Clause 8, the teacher clause, we are again convinced of the reasonableness of the Amendments which we have inserted. As the clause came up to us it prohibited the teachers under Clause 3 from giving anything but Cowper-Temple teaching. It also left it open to the local authority to refuse permission to teachers in Clause 4 schools to give denominational instruction. These proposals seemed to us an outrage upon the liberty of the teachers, detrimental to the interests of education, and likely to render the facilities offered in these schools of an entirely nugatory character. Therefore, we propose to adhere to the Amendments which we have made. In Clause 15 my noble friend Lord Belper will, I understand, propose an Amendment which will bring the clause more nearly into the shape which His Majesty's Government were prepared to approve the other evening. The only other serious alteration your Lordships made in the Bill is that contained in Clause 26. I see that the noble Lord opposite is going to make an attempt, if I may so describe it, to sweep up and piece together the fragments of the Welsh 193 Council, which my noble friend Lord Cawdor so effectively demolished the other day. I hope the attempt will not be successful.
I have enumerated the Amendments which we have made and desire to make; and I put it to your Lordships whether these demands are really excessive or unreasonable, and whether we are open to the charge of having transformed the Bill, or of having added to it excrescences of such a kind as to make it un-recognisable by its authors. We have admitted to the full the principle of popular control. We have admitted that there shall be no tests for teachers. I do not really believe that on that point we differ in principle from the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council. We have admitted that the denominations must pay for the religious instruction which they require. We may expect, out of doors, that there should be a certain amount of ill-informed criticism of the action of your Lordships' House; but I trust that in this House we shall not hear any language of the kind, and that we may look to the noble Earl opposite and his colleagues to assist us in quelling the flood of misrepresentation by which our action has been obscured.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (The Earl of CREWE)
My Lords, we certainly have no complaint to make on this side of the House of the course which the noble Marquess has thought it right to take on this Motion. On the contrary, I think the House will be disposed to agree that, in making the statement he has, and in going briefly through the various Amendments which appear on the Paper, he has contributed in no small degree to the saving of time at a moment when time is becoming rather valuable.
We also agree very completely with what the noble Marquess has said as to the great loss which our deliberations sustain at this moment by the absence of the most rev. Primate. Needless to say, we deeply regret his illness, which, on personal grounds, I trust is not serious. All on this side of the House recognise the great knowledge of the most rev. Primate on this subject, and his earnest desire to be fair; and although we are not able to agree in all the conclusions which he reaches, yet we frankly admit 194 that he, more than some other Members of your Lordships' House, desires to take a generally moderate view of this question.
The noble Marquess said that complaint had been made of the bulk of the Amendments. That, no doubt, is true to some extent, because, when Amendments have to be considered mere bulk makes that consideration more difficult. But I am bound to say that the general complaint on this side of the House, and of those who support us in the country, has referred less to the bulk of the Amendments than to their quality. The noble Marquess appealed to his supporters to say whether after all the majority here had done anything but carry out the dictates of common justice. That is really to beg the question. We naturally all think that our own views when translated into words exhibit not merely common justice, but even uncommon justice; and therefore I am afraid that the noble Marquess's boast, if I may call it so, does not carry us very much further.
Then the noble Marquess said that we had attempted to bring in a system of schools without variety. We frankly admit that we did aim as far as possible at the establishment of a national system of schools, but we also had from the first equally to admit that it was impossible in this country to have only one type of school. We did desire, however, that there should be a general national system, and that those schools which could not fall into that system should be treated as exceptions. Our system, we again frankly admit, was an undenominational one, and the effect of the Amendments of noble Lords which have been passed, and some of those which no doubt will be passed before very long, is in our opinion to continue a denominational system. It is on that simple ground that we have based the statement made inside and outside the House, and likely to be made again, that your Lordships have altered the essential character of the Bill, and have in so doing made it exceedingly difficult to discuss the question on the lines upon which we should ourselves desire to discuss it.
The noble Marquess also complained that some portions of the Bill had been imperfectly discussed in another place. 195 I am afraid that, as business is now done in Parliament, that is a complaint which is always likely to be made about a Bill of great importance and of great length; but I do not think, so far as the really controversial parts of this Bill were concerned, that that can to any very great extent be said. The controversies which circle round Clauses 3 and 4 did meet with a very adequate degree of discussion in another place; and though the noble Marquess is within his right in saying what he did, I do not think that, as far as regards the special questions in which your Lordships have been so actively concerned, the charge can be said to have any real basis.
I was exceedingly grateful to the noble Marquess for what he was good enough to say about my conduct of the Bill. I have endeavoured to the best of my powers to satisfy what seemed to me at times the almost insatiable curiosity of noble Lords opposite on the questions that have arisen, and if I have succeeded, I am exceedingly happy that it should be so. But the noble Marquess went on very kindly to say that all the same I had been very far from showing anything like a spirit of compromise. I should like to point out that when a Bill comes up from another place to this House and is placed in charge of a Minister, it cannot be considered to be the duty, or even within the province, of that Minister to amend it on Second Reading as he goes along. He is obliged to hear what are the particular points to which the Opposition take exception, and he is obliged to see, in the case of a minority such as we are, what steps the majority take to carry their disapproval of certain provisions into effect. Consequently, my Lords, although it might have been possible for me to say as we went along what were the points which we considered absolutely crucial and those to which we did not attach the same degree of importance, yet I do not see that it would have in any way assisted the deliberations, and I am quite certain it would not have altered in the slightest degree the result we now see in the Bill as it now appears.
The House will not expect me to follow the noble Marquess into the lucid description which he gave of the Amendments as they appear on the Paper. We are most grateful to him for giving us 196 this bird's-eye view, and it will tend to a saving of time if I do not follow the noble Marquess into the merits or the demerits of particular Amendments. That would be better done when we reach them; therefore your Lordships will forgive me it I now ask that we may proceed to the consideration of the Amendments.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ Bill, as amended, considered.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
then moved an Amendment in the first Clause, postponing the date when the provision should take effect from 1st January, 1908, to "July," 1908. The noble Lord said: This is an Amendment to which I am sure the noble Marquess's observations about Clause 1 do not apply, and it is in pursuance of a promise which I gave to postpone the operation of the Bill in its essential features for some little time. I think it was the noble Earl opposite, Lord Camperdown, who had an Amendment on the Paper in the Committee stage and who proposed, as does the noble Viscount opposite, Lord St. Aldwyn, that the operation of the Bill should be postponed for a year. We think that unnecessarily long. We agree that some postponement is quite reasonable, owing to the fact that it certainly was hoped that the Bill might have been passed before the House adjourned for the Autumn; and that the Autumn months, including the time we are now spending here, might have been devoted by authorities and owners of schools to the making of friendly arrangements. These hopes having been baffled, it seems to us reasonable to place the 1st of July in Clause 1 instead of the 1st of January. Perhaps it would save time if I proceed to point out that we propose to make a similar alteration in the dates throughout the Bill, with the exception that we do not put off the work of the Commission for quite so long as six months. We put the Commission down for the 1st of May. That gives four months, supposing the Bill to come into operation on the 1st of January next, for the purpose of bargaining before the Commission would be sitting to undertake the transfer of schools. All the other dates are postponed for six months, and, therefore, when I come to those Amendments, in due course, I shall merely move them as consequential.
In page 1, line 7, to leave out the word 'January,' and to insert the word 'July.'"— (The Earl of Crewe.)
§ * VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN
said the Amendment standing in his name on the Paper, postponing the coming into force of the Act for a year, was put down with the object of calling the attention of their Lordships to the matter and before he knew that the Lord President had also placed an Amendment on the Paper dealing with this point. He had no wish to press his Amendment against that of the noble Earl. The extension which the noble Earl proposed was, of course, nothing more than the extension necessitated by the delay in arriving at the final stage of the Bill. But was the noble Earl quite satisfied that the additional time proposed to be given would suffice in all cases? If he was not, might it not be well to add, after the words "one thousand nine hundred and eight," the words "or such later date as His Majesty in Council may appoint for any district on the application of the local education authority of the district." That would enable any exceptional case to be met."
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
asked the noble Earl in charge of the Bill if, in selecting the 1st of July, he had taken into consideration whether that date was a convenient date with reference to the annual accounts, the payment of grants, and other matters of that kind. If he had not, then no doubt the words which the noble Viscount had just suggested might be of assistance to him.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think there is something in the point which the noble Earl has made, although as the grants are now paid I do not know that one date is very much more convenient than another. We should not, of our own motion, have inserted the words proposed by the noble Viscount; but, if he strongly wishes to see them in, and noble Lords opposite think it would be desirable to insert them, I will not make any further objection.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
In page 1, line 8, after the word 'eight' to insert the following words, 'or such later
date as His Majesty in Council may appoint for any district on the application of the local education authority of the district.'"— (Viscount St. Aldwyn.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
THE EARL OF MEATH,
who had given notice to move the insertion of the following new sub-sections—(2) In all public elementary schools, with the exception of such as shall come within the operation of Clause 4 of this Bill, the parents of the children attending the school shall elect, in accordance with regulations to be made for the purpose by the Board of Education, four persons, some of whom may be women, who, together with two other persons nominated by the local education authority, shall be known as the parents committee. The parents committee shall be responsible for and have the control of the religious instruction given in the school.(3) A ballot for the purposes of this section shall be taken in accordance with regulations made for the purpose by the Board of Education, and those regulations may incorporate any of the provisions of the Ballot Act, 1872 (including the penal provisions thereof).(4) It shall be the duty of every local education authority to test the efficiency of any religious instruction given under the provisions of Section 14 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, in the school or schools under its control by arranging for adequate inspection and examination of the children, which shall take place not less than once a year, and every such authority shall draw up a report as to the results of such inspection and examination, which shall be accessible to the parents of the children attending the school or schools, and to the ratepayers of the respective districts of such authorities—said he regretted that the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition could not see his way to accept this Amendment, and after—
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think that I ought, in the interest of time, to interrupt the noble Earl. It does seem to me that this is a very singular place in which to propose the insertion of the parents' committee. I do not see that it bears any particular relation to Clause 1. It ought, I think, to be a clause by itself. Consequently, so far as regards Sub-sections (2) and (3), I think the noble Earl ought to postpone them. Sub-Section (4) is, of course, another matter; but that, again, does not seem to me particularly relevant to Clause 1.
THE EARL OF MEATH
repeated his regret that the noble Marquess could not see his way to accept the Amendment, 199 and said that in the circumstances he could not hope successfully to press it. He desired, however, to make clear that the object of the Amendment was simply to safeguard the rights of parents in all public elementary schools, to ensure that the simple Bible teaching which was to be given at the expense of the ratepayers should be effective, and that all rate-supported schools should receive equality of treatment in religious teaching. He had hoped that, inasmuch as he was only desiring to see that the religious teaching under the Cowper-Temple Clause should be effective, he would have received the support of His Majesty's Government. In the circumstances, however, he would not move his Amendment.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
rose to move the first of a series of Amendments of which he had given notice. He said: My Lords, the Amendments of which I have given notice would have the effect of restoring Clause 2 to the form in which it orginally came to this House. The first Amendment, as well as the other of which I have given notice in relation to Clause 5, is, however, purely consequential on a third Amendment, of which I have given notice on Clause 9, and of course I should have preferred, if it had been possible, to have postponed what I have to say until we arrived at that clause to which the really essential part of my Amendment relates. But, as the arrangement of the Bill does not admit of that course, I think I had better say what I have to say with regard to Clause 2, postponing a full discussion on my principal Amendment until we arrive at the clause to which it relates.
This Amendment is, as I have said, entirely consequential upon the proposal which I shall later have to make, and which to a very great extent is in the same direction as certain new clauses or sub-sections in Clause 9, of which notice has been given by the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council. I desire, as far as possible, to postpone any discussion upon it until we come to Clause 9, but I think it would not be premature to point out that the general intention of my Amendment, as well as of the noble Earl's Amendment, is to entrust the Commission appointed under 200 this Bill with larger powers and wider discretion in framing schemes for the transfer of voluntary schools to the local authorities than they would possess under the Bill in its present form. If this were done, as I hope the united efforts of my noble friend and myself may enable it to be done, I think we shall find that it will be possible to restore Clause 2 to its original form.
The necessity for introducing the obnoxious word "shall" into this clause, and for the elaborate provisions which we have inserted at the end of the clause, arose from the fact that up to the present time the Government have declined to give us any security whatever that schools which were structurally fit to be transferred to the authority, and schools which were required in order to give to the children attending them that kind of instruction, including religious instruction, which the parents desire, might not be capriciously rejected by the local authority and eliminated altogether from the educational provision of the district. That was a possible grievance and a possible hardship, the existence of which has always been admitted.
It was admitted over and over again in the course of the discussions in the other House that a gap existed in the provisions of this Bill, that the offering of certain facilities for religious instruction to be given in transferred schools was a perfectly illusory proposal if no security existed that those schools would ever be transferred at all; and with the object of remedying this grievance, or preventing the occurrence of this injustice, the President of the Board of Education introduced in the other House what was called a bilateral clause, which would have given to the owners of schools an appeal to the Board of Education in the case where an authority declined to take over the school-house and, on the other hand, would have given an appeal to the local authority against a private owner who was unwilling to part with the school which was his property. Although the bilateral clause was introduced in the other House, the moment the Government found that it was not received with open arms by the Opposition on account of its bilateral character, they not only offered to withdraw it, but actually 201 voted against their own clause. Therefore the Bill has come to us without any security whatever against what has been, throughout these discussions, admitted to be a possible grievance and injustice.
In these circumstances there existed a necessity for us in this House to attempt to find some remedy for the injustice which the Government had admitted, but had altogether failed to provide for, in the other House of Parliament, and that was the ground upon which those elaborate Amendments were introduced into this clause in the course of the discussions in Committee. Although I think this course was forced upon us by the refusal or the failure of the Government to provide any remedy against this injustice themselves, still I am bound to admit that very few can consider that the clause as it now stands is in a perfectly satisfactory state. It is no doubt of a somewhat cumbrous character. It provides, in the first instance, that every school shall be taken over by the local authority. It imposes upon the Commission the necessity of making a scheme for the transfer of every school, and, in the last place, it provides an appeal to the Board of Education by which the local education authority can be relieved of the possession of a school which it does not want. That, I think, is no doubt a somewhat cumbrous and unwieldly proceeding.
It may also be open to some of the objections which were urged against it by the President of the Board of Education in the speech which he recently delivered at Bristol. Your Lordships will remember that perhaps the most bitter of the complaints made by Mr. Birrell in that speech related to the enormous amount of work which would be thrown by this Bill, and especially by this clause, upon the Board of Education, work which, he said, it was quite impossible for his officers or himself to undertake, work—I understood him to say—which, if he or any future President attempted to undertake it, would end in removing him from his office either as a worn-out corpse or as a raving lunatic. I must point out that this clause, of which Mr. Birrell made those piteous and pathetic complaints, was not the invention of this House. It was the invention of Mr. Birrell himself.
202 In July last Mr. Birrell was prepared to undertake that the Board of Education should consider any appeal by the owners against the decision of the local authority not to take over their school. I am not aware that the numbers of appeals which would have come to him under that proposal would have been any fewer than the 7,000 which he anticipates under the present proposal; but he was perfectly ready to undertake this task if, on the other hand, he was allowed to undertake the additional task of deciding on the appeals of the local authority against the refusal of an unwilling owner to transfer the school. Therefore, my Lords, I do not see that if Mr. Birrell has reason, as he thinks, to complain of this scheme as sent to him from this House, he would have had loss reason to complain of the work which would have boon thrown on himself and his Department if the bilateral clause which he introduced in the other House had been accepted. Whatever might have been the limits of that bilateral clause it certainly could not have had the effect of reducing, but rather of increasing, if not of doubling, the work thrown on the Department and its unfortunate President.
But, my Lords, while, in my opinion, our clause is at all events no worse than that which was suggested by Mr. Birrell in the other House, I cannot, as I have already said, believe that either of them is satisfactory, and I think that it is our duty to try to discover some means by which this admitted grievance may be remedied in a more simple and satisfactory manner and in away which will not impose so great a burden on the Education Department. When the Bill has become law the first step to be taken will, I conceive, be for the local education authority to enter into communication with the owners of schools to inform them which, if any, of those schools they propose to take over, and on what terms they are willing to take them over. At the same time, almost simultaneously, the owners of existing voluntary schools will communicate to the respective local authorities which of their schools they desire to hand over, and in making that communication they will also state what demands they make, what sort of facilities they require, and the provisions they want for their own use of the school out of school hours, what provisions they require as to rent, 203 and, in fact, will explain fully the terms upon which they are disposed to transfer their schools.
In many cases, I trust in a great many cases, I think probably in a great many more cases than Mr. Birrell seems to anticipate, there will be voluntary arrangements as to all these matters. In those cases where the parties agree, where the authorities and the owners can agree, subject to the approval of the Board of Education, who, of course, must be satisfied that the terms of agreement are within the limits of the law, the transaction will be complete and need never go before the Commission or any other authority. In other cases no doubt there will be differences. There will be differences as to which schools shall be transferred and which be left out; there will be differences as to the terms on which they are to be transferred; there will be differences as to the facilities asked for, and, for all I know, there may be differences on many points which do not at the present moment occur to me. The suggestion which I have endeavoured to embody in the addition to Clause 9, which I shall subsequently move, is that at this stage of the proceedings, both parties should be afforded equal access to an impartial tribunal such as the Commission appointed by this Bill; that they should have access to this tribunal, not by way of an appeal against something which has been done, or which has been left undone, but as an initial step in the procedure. I suggest that both parties should have an equal right to apply to the Commission to frame a scheme for the transfer of the school which one party wants to acquire and the other party wants to transfer, and to frame a scheme by which both parties would be bound, and give the final decision on all the points involved in the disagreement between the two parties. I conceive that the Commission appointed under this Bill is the right body to undertake this task. Such a transaction as is contemplated by this measure, the transfer of a very large proportion of the exiting 14,000 voluntary schools, is one in which necessarily questions of every kind must arise. They cannot all form the subject of voluntary agreement, and questions of difference, with the best will in the world on both sides, must arise, and all those 204 questions must be decided by someone. It would not be just, in our opinion, and I do not think noble Lords opposite would contend that it would be just, to leave the decision of all the questions which will arise in this great transaction to the sole judgment of the local authority.
It is not to express any distrust of the local authority to say that that authority, no more than any other persons, can be safely trusted to be the judges in their own cause. It therefore cannot be left to the sole judgment of the local authority. It cannot, in my opinion, with advantage be left to the Board of Education. The Board of Education do not want to undertake the solution of all these questions, and if they did I should say again of them that they would be in these circumstances, to a certain extent, the judges in their own cause. Then it seems to me to follow, as the consequence of all these circumstances to which I have referred, that the right and proper body to which these questions of difference ought to be referred is the Commission appointed under this Bill, and that if, as at present constituted, that Commission is not competent to entertain and decide all these questions, the proper remedy would be to enlarge to the necessary extent both the powers and perhaps the constitution of that Commission. This is the proposal which I have endeavoured to embody in the Amendment which I shall propose to Clause 9.
It probably would not be in order, and certainly I do not desire at present, to elaborate that proposal further. I believe, as I have said, that the new clauses proposed by the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council are very much in the same direction as the further clauses of which I have given notice. I hope that by the adoption, either of the President of the Council's clauses, or of my own, we may be able to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion as to the body which should decide upon these questions. I believe there is now, since those clauses were put on the Paper by the Government, so little difference between us that we may assume that when we come to Clause 9 we shall arrive at an agreement on the subject. I think I may safely, under those circumstances, recommend to your Lordships that we should allow this clause to revert to its original, 205 form, in which it dealt only with voluntary arrangements, reserving to ourselves that power which it is possible for us to exercise under the procedure which prevails in this, but not in the other, House— the power on the Third Reading, if we should, unfortunately, as I hope we may not, fail to come to an agreement on the proposals which are made as to Clause 9, of reinstating this clause in the form in which it now stands, believing, as we do, that it is an absolute necessity that some provision should be made against the possible hardship and injustice which might occur if the question remained in the state in which it was sent to us from the other House of Parliament.
In page 1, lines 12 and 13, to leave out the words 'shall if required by the owners continue,' and to insert the words 'for the purpose of continuing.'"—(The, Duke of Devonshire.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
My Lords, the noble Duke in this Amendment, and in the subsequent Amendments which hang together with it, has made a proposal which is no doubt of the first importance, and it is perfectly true that so far as part of his proposal is concerned I have various Amendments on the Paper, dealing with Clauses 5 and 9, which are of a kindred nature to those of my noble friend. There is, however, this one important difference between his suggestions and mine, that my proposals deal only with schools under Clause 4, whereas the noble Duke's deal with all schools. As we understand the Bill, we, as the noble Duke has told us, made it compulsory for no local authority to take over a school in consideration of which only the minor facilities were likely to be demanded. It was only in the case of the demand of the major facilities that a compulsion might, under certain circumstances, be put upon the authority if they went before the Commission.
It is quite true, as the noble Duke says, that there was a certain possibility of what he called hardship arising in the case of these schools if the authority refused to take any over. It might so happen that you would have a large district in which the local authority did not give much religious instruction of its own, and at the same time declined to take over any school, and, therefore, a 206 large district might be left with an important minority of children whose parents desired denominational teaching and were unable to get it. Against that, of course, it was necessary to set the general supposition, which has always seemed to me a strong one, that the local authority would prefer to hire the use of the schools than build now schools of its own. That was the principal safeguard which we offered to the denominational schools; but it was admitted by my right hon. friend, and I have admitted it myself in this House, that it was quite conceivable that, at any rate in theory, cases of hardship might arise. You might meet that hardship in two ways — either by doing what the House has already done, and what the noble Duke proposes to do in another form—make it practically compulsory on the authority to take over these schools; or you might do something in the nature of what is proposed by Viscount St. Aldwyn, in the direction of giving religious facilities in cases where schools were not taken over.
Those are two separate and distinct means of arriving at this object. Noble Lords opposite are now, I see, proposing to do both. It is quite true that either one of these proceedings would have removed what we admitted was the gap in Clause 2. It is also the fact that my right hon. friend in another place offered what is known as the bilateral arrangement. That was to apply to all schools. It was evidently felt by the Opposition, and to a certain extent by everybody, that it was a strong measure to deal with schools of private owners in that way, and that such a dealing could only take place by a very general measure of consent, and when that consent was not forthcoming my right hon. friend withdrew his clause and showed by his vote that he considered that the time for promoting it had passed by. But that offer, it is important for the House to remember, only applied to necessary schools; it was never expected or intended that schools which were only to receive the Clause 3 facilities were to be taken over if they were unnecessary, although it always wa3 and is contemplated that schools which were temporarily unnecessary might be taken over in order to receive the instruction under Clause 4.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
That would be decided by the Commission. The Commission would decide as to whether they were entitled to receive the benefits under Clause 4. My right hon. friend spoke at Bristol of the great burden which would be thrown on the Board of Education by the frequent appeals as provided by the clause as amended. The noble Duke fairly stated that when this bilateral proposal was made my right hon. friend did offer to undertake, not only those appeals, but others; and in view of the fact that at Bristol my right hon. friend spoke of the probable effects upon himself, it only shows how anxious he was to arrive at an arrangement that in July last he was willing to imperil either his life or his reason in order to satisfy honourable Gentleman on the opposite side of the House to himself.
One remark of the noble Duke gave me great satisfaction, namely, that he believed that voluntary arrangements would be very common. I have always had the same hope, and I have never seen any reason, I am happy to think, to believe otherwise; but, if that is so, it is a very distinct testimony to the fact that the ordinary facilities offered under Clause 3 will by a very large number of persons be considered adequate to carry on the religious character of their schools. We have always hoped that that would be so, and I am exceedingly glad to hear from the noble Duke that he is of the same opinion. The noble Duke's proposal is that both parties should have equal access to the Commission in order to take schools over. When the noble Duke talks of equal access he must remember two things — that there are a large number of privately owned schools which the authority may want to get, but by common agreement cannot, and also that there are a very large number of schools of which the trusts are of a character which can be carried out in some other way than by continuing the school as a public elementary school Therefore, when the noble Duke talks of equal access he must remember that all that class of schools apparently are to be allowed to come before the Commission 208 and get a scheme, whereas the local education authority will not be able to drag them in turn before the Commission and get a scheme. They will escape owing to the fact that their trusts allow them to escape, and unless the Commission are authorised to depart from the principles of the Court of Chancery, a considerable body of schools—upwards, I think, of 2,000—would have a chance of evading the scheme-making powers of the Commission. That, however, is in one respect a minor point.
We have to consider the very serious matter as to how far it is possible to bring this question before the Commission at all. The Commission has been appointed, it has been said over and over again, both in the other House and in this, as a judicial body. Its functions are those of a Court or of the Charity Commission, and we have never attempted to impose upon it any of the administrative duties of the Board of Education. If the noble Duke's plan should be carried out, the Commission would have to take into consideration a great number of matters on which it would be very difficult for them to decide judicially, and they would have to decide rather as an administrative body. The noble Duke, with really marvellous skill, was able to avoid any allusion to his later Amendments, but I am obliged to allude to one of mine by way of illustration. Later, on the Paper of Amendments, there is a sub-section (2) —The certificate of the Hoard of Education as to the result of a ballot taken with respect to the wishes of parents, and as to whether a schoolhouse is structurally suitable or not, or whether any condition as to public school accommodation is satisfied, shall be treated as conclusive by the Commission—which deals with various considerations which may arise before a Clause 4 school can be formed. Noble Lords will notice that we have not asked the Commission to decide as to the wishes of the parents as shown by the ballot, or whether a school-house is structurally suitable, or whether any necessary condition as to public school accommodation is satisfied. In our desire to keep the Commission a purely judicial body we have allowed the Commission to take the certificate of the Board of Education on these points as final. But this point, and a number of other kindred points, would have to be inquired into by the Commission if the 209 noble Duke's proposition were adopted. That, of course, is a very serious proposal, because it does involve the complete alteration of the character of the Commission.
How far those very distinguished gentlemen who have kindly consented to act as Commissioners would be prepared, under any circumstances, to undertake these different duties — duties which would come entirely novel certainly to two of them, I am not in a position to say. But I am very doubtful whether they would find it possible to under-take them. In any case, whether they could or could not, or would or would not, I think it certainly would be necessary to have a considerably larger Commission than the one contemplated, and some further provision would have to be made to provide it with a staff, because what you would be doing would not be to provide a judicial body, but you really would be constituting a new department of the Board of Education, which would have to be regularly staffed with experts. I defer until we get further on with the Bill any observations on my own proposals applying to Clauses 4, 5 and 9. Of course, so far as the noble Duke's present Amendment is concerned, it exactly meets our wishes. We are very glad to see the clause put back into its original shape. When we come to the noble Duke's consequential Amendments, which really contain the substance of his proposal, we shall then have to deal with them as they arise.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
supposed it would be more convenient to defer any remarks upon Clause 9 until that clause was reached. In the meantime he would only make one remark with regard to what had fallen from the noble Earl. The noble Earl had stated that to call upon the Commissioners to make these schemes for transfers would be to impose upon a body appointed for judicial purposes, and for judicial purposes only, certain administration duties. Unless he read Clause 9 altogether wrongly, the primary duty for which the Commission was appointed was to make schemes, and the making of schemes implied administrative action of various kinds, which their Lordships would see detailed in Clause 9. Therefore he could not follow the noble Earl's argument on that point.
* LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said it was idle to disregard the effect of the noble Duke's Amendments as a whole, and among the things to be borne in mind was the question of the cost to the rates. He did not admit that the local authority were in any way bound to maintain buildings for the denominational instruction of the various sects of the country. Parliament could, of course, if it desired, compel a large number of authorities at very greatly increased cost and impaired efficiency to take over a number of small schools where larger schools would be more convenient. In connection with the question of surplus places he would say nothing about country districts; the number of villages with dual schools was comparatively small. The question of surplus accommodation and extinguishing a certain number of schools was preeminently an urban question. In the urban districts about 72 per cent. of the accommodation was utilised by the average attendance. That figure he considered indicated a margin of 10 percent. of superfluous school places. It ought to be the right of the local authority to dispense with those places. As to structural suitability, he could not trust anybody but the local authority to be the final judge. The Board of Education had been, and still was, remiss in tolerating schools which were unsuitable. There were in the town of Leamington eleven schools possessing so much surplus accommodation that the children might be accommodated in about six of the schools. Should the local authority be compelled to keep eleven schools going in order to meet the denominational preferences of parents? What the authority had to direct its attention to was educational efficiency. It was not their business to endow denominational-ism out of the rates and taxes. He was opposed to a proposal which would put this cost on the people and was inimical to educational efficiency, from whatever quarter it came.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I only wish to say a word on this Amendment. If we on this Bench accept the proposal that Clause 2 should be restored to the shape in which it came to this House, we do so on the distinct under standing that we may, when we arrive at Clause 9, obtain, at any rate in substance, what is contained in the Amendment 211 placed upon the Paper by the noble Duke. It has been suggested that the difference between the noble Duke's Amendment and the one which stands in the name of the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council, dealing with the same subject, is not a serious difference. That is not our opinion at all. I would point out to your Lordships that if you refer to the noble Duke's Amendment you will find that there are no fewer than five points on which it differs materially from the Amendment of the noble Earl in charge of the Bill. The Lord President's clause applies only to schools under charitable trusts; the noble Duke's clause is not so limited. The noble Duke brings in the owner; the Lord President does not. The noble Duke makes a special reference to the wishes of the parents; the Lord President makes no such reference. The noble Duke's clause contains that magical word "shall;" the Amendment of the Lord President accepts the word "may." Finally, the noble Duke's clause towards the end contains words which are clearly words of direction, words which I cannot find in the Amendment of the noble Earl the Lord President. We intend to obtain in some shape or form the substance of the Amendment of the noble Duke, and should there be any difficulty about it, we wish it to be distinctly understood that we reserve to ourselves the right of again replacing Clause 2 substantially in the position in which it stands with the Amendments which we inserted in Committee.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
said he was certain he could appeal to the sympathy of their Lordships in having to speak from the Episcopal Bench without the assistance of the most rev. Primate, who had helped them so much, and he would like, on behalf of the right rev. Bench, to express their thanks to noble Lords on both sides of the House for the sympathy they had extended to the Archbishop in his illness. He maintained that the figures relating to average attendance given by Lord Stanley of Alderley showed that there had been excessive building of board schools, and he held that the small slum schools of the Church of England in London, upon which great labour and self-sacrifice had been expended, would be swallowed up under the system which the noble Lord had 212 outlined. As to the allegation that the Bill would endow denominationalism, he desired to point out that it would largely endow undenominationalism, and that the endeavour to safeguard denominational interests when denominational schools were swept away was in accord with the principle of common justice. To remove the word "shall" would be to remove something the local authorities would be glad to have. They wore most anxious not to have denominational differences mixed up with the administration of the Act.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Consequential Amendment agreed to.
LORD GRIMTHORPE, who had given notice of an Amendment in Clause 2, after the word "manner" to insert the words—
And the owners of the schoolhouse shall, if required by the local authority, hand over to the local authority any existing voluntary school as a school provided by them, and may make any arrangements they think fit by agreement with the local authority with respect to such use of it as is requited for carrying on a public elementary school, and may as occasion requires renew any such arrangement or make fresh arrangements for the purpose in a similar manner,
said that the acceptance of the noble Duke's Amendment rendered it unnecessary for him to move his. If compulsion was not to be applied on one side, he had not the slightest wish to see it applied on the other. He expressed his satisfaction that the clause had been restored to its original shape, believing, as he did, that compulsion as applied to local authorities was of doubtful expediency. He did not wish to move his Amendment.
§ Consequential Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE moved to omit from sub-section (2) of Clause 2 the words "subject to the approval of the Board of Education." He explained that the words were not consistent with Amendments which were to be moved later. If he found it necessary to insert any qualifying words, he would do so at a subsequent stage.
In page 2, line 34, to leave out the words "subject to the approval of the Board of Education.'"—[Lord Ashbourne.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I offer no objection to the course which the noble and learned Lord proposes to take.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
THE LORD BISHOP OF WAKE-FIELD
rose to move an Amendment standing in the name of the Lord Bishop of Exeter, to sub-section (5) of Clause 2. The sub-section ran—Nothing in this section shall prevent the granting or requiring of facilities for special religious instruction in accordance with this Act, or prevent a local education authority, as a condition of an arrangement made under this section with respect to the use of the school-house of an existing voluntary school, from giving an undertaking to give religions instruction which does not conflict with Section 14 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, in the school.The Amendment was to insert after the words "from giving an undertaking to give religious instruction" the words "of any specified character and amount." The right rev. Prelate explained that the object of this Amendment was to secure that the religious instruction given in transferred schools on non-facilities days should be of a real and definite character. The debate on this clause in Committee showed that His Majesty's Government believed that the clause as it stood already gave this power to the owners, as the bargaining party, in making their agreements with the local education authority. So strongly did they hold this view that the Lord President and Lord Fitzmaurice both went as far as to say that a specified syllabus might be insisted upon by the owners in making the transfer. Whether that was so or not, it was quite clear that it had been, and was, the intention of His Majesty's Government that the parties on handing over their schools should be able to secure that some real and effective Cowper-Temple teaching should be given in the transferred schools. The effect of this Amendment was to make that intention perfectly clear. It was a simple Amendment, but it was one to which they attached a great deal of importance. In the schools in some districts with which he was familiar there was nothing more than the bare reading of a chapter from the Bible, and that was entirely at the discretion of the teacher himself; and in many schools 214 with which he was acquainted there was for months at a time no religious instruction at all. They wished, if possible, in handing over their schools to the local education authority to be able to ensure that religious teaching which was real in its character should be given. They did not go so far as to ask that they should have a definite syllabus. He agreed with Lord Stanley of Alderley that that would be asking too much. What they did ask was that there should be religious education of a specified character and amount, and that it should not be contrary to the teaching given to the children on facilities days. The character of the instruction was, of course, limited by Section 14 of the Act of 1870. This Amendment would go a part of the way towards inducing some of them to acquiesce, at all events for the present, in the restriction of the facilities to two days in the week, because they would feel that they had something substantial on the other days.
In page 3, line 18, after the word 'instruction' to insert the words of any specified character and amount.'"—(The Lord Bishop of Wakefield.)
THE EARL OF MEATH
expressed the hope that the Lord President would carefully consider the right rev. Prelate's Amendment. There was, he said, real need for some such words. Their Lordships might not be aware that there were at this moment 191 education authorities who issued no syllabus whatever, or, if they issued a syllabus, neither examined nor inspected the teaching. He was quite certain that those in the country who had returned the large majority to the other House were men who had a distinct desire that their children should be taught simple Bible teaching.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am exceedingly unwilling to interrupt the noble Earl, but the point before the House is so small a one that in view of the real necessity of saving time as much as possible I hope the noble Earl will not think me discourteous. The right rev. Prelate made a speech of some length on the general subject of facilities, but I desire to call his attention, and that of the House, to the actual point 215 involved in this Amendment. The right rev. Prelate seems to me to have mixed up two entirely distinct things. The words in the clause as it stands gives the most absolute freedom bargaining, and nothing except bargaining is contemplated. It is perfectly true that the right rev. Prelate's words would strengthen the clause considerably if the giving of these facilities was part of the scheme, but it is part of a bargain and you cannot have a freer bargain than is supplied by the words in the clause. It is perfectly obvious that the owners can insist on anything within the limits of the Cowper-Temple clause as part of their bargain, and the right rev. Prelate's words do not, from that point of view, strengthen the clause in the least.
§ * VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN
agreed with the noble Earl the Lord President, and expressed the opinion that the right rev. Prelate's Amendment would seem to limit the powers of the owners.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
My next Amendment is consequential on my Amendments to Clause 9, and is due to the fact that we separate in my Amendments a scheme under this part of the Bill and an order made by the Commission, which is a new provision in Clause 9. I do not know whether your Lordships would consent to adopt this Amendment provisionally until we are able to discuss the whole scheme.
In page 3, line 26, to leave out the words 'scheme under this part of and to insert the words 'order of the Commission under.'"—(The Earl of Crewe)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved to leave out from Clause 3 the words "or if in any parish in a rural area there is only one public elementary school provided for the children of the parish, and the parents of a reasonable number of children attending the school have required such facilities, the local authority," which, he explained, was the Amendment moved by the Bishop of Hereford in Committee and accepted to meet the case of single school areas in rural districts.216
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
There are Amendments standing in the name of Lord Halifax and Lord Lytton raising substantially the same point, and I think it would be for the general convenience of your Lordships that the discussion on what are called outside facilities should proceed on the Amendment of the noble Marquess.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
expressed his agreement with the course suggested, but intimated that he intended to press his Amendment to a division.
THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY, in explaining the grounds on which he proposed to ask the House to strike out of the clause the Bishop of Hereford's Amendment, said the real question for the House was with how little of general facilities would the absolute demands of justice be satisfied? He did not ask the House to go a single step beyond what, in his judgment, was absolutely necessary in the interests of justice. His objection to Lord Lytton's Amendment was that the noble Earl proposed that those facilities should apply to all schools without exception. It was only permissive in its character, and therefore was a very different Amendment from Lord Bal-four's. It applied to all schools of every description, instead of to the limited class of schools to which the Amendment for which he was responsible asked their Lordships to consent. The Bishop of Hereford's Amendment involved the principle that wherever, in a rural district, a child had access to only one school, and the religious teaching given there was not in accordance with the wishes of the child's parents, facilities should be afforded to that child. The limitation to rural districts was indefensible, and in practical working the Amendment would produce absurdities. Let them take the case of a rural district which adjoined an urban district. In the rural district there was a single council school giving nothing but Cowper-Temple teaching, and a certain number of children living on the borders of the rural district but within it were anxious to have facilities. There might be in the urban district a few yards across the boundary a Church of England school quite satisfactory from the point of view of religion, and yet, under the Bishop of Hereford's Amendment, a child might insist upon
facilities in the rural school, although there was no great grievance and no great difficulty in its availing itself of the services of the Church of England school in the urban district hard by. That was a condition of things which was on that side quite as indefensible as on the other side was the denial to the urban child of the right which was given to the rural child. The Bishop of London had proposed an Amendment which attempted to define a single school district; but he himself had drawn his Amendment on a different principle. The new clause on this point which he (Lord Salisbury) proposed subsequently to move, was as follows—
(1) If the parents of a reasonable number of children attending any public elementary school require facilities for their children of the same character as those to be afforded under Section 3 of this Act, and, in the opinion of the local education authority, those children cannot conveniently attend game other public elementary school in which facilities for religious instruction of the special character desired by the parents are afforded, the local education authority, without prejudice to any of their powers or duties under Section 3 of this Act, shall, so far as it is in their opinion reasonably practicable to do so, afford those facilities in the school within school hours accordingly.
(2) No part of the expense of giving religious instruction of a special character under this section shall be paid by the local education authority.
He left the duty of defining what a single school area was to the local authority, which was familiar with all the circumstances in each case. The local authority would decide when there was only one school available for any given child, and if there were a reasonable number of children desiring special religious instruction, then facilities should be given. There were some forms of Cowper-Templeism of which few would approve; and to compel a child to attend such instruction was an exercise of gross religious tyranny. He confidently recommended his Amendment to their Lordships' favourable consideration.
In page 3, line 28, to leave out from the word' school house' to the word 'authority' in line 31, and to insert the word 'that.'— (The Marquess of Salisbury.)
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
said that as the noble Marquess had 218 somewhat pointedly referred to his poor little Amendment he hoped he might be permitted to say one word. His impression was that the noble Marquess supported that Amendment when it was moved in Committee.
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
said that since he moved his Amendment others tying the hands of the local authorities had been piled up to such an extent that the situation was changed from his point of view. Though he had a natural parental affection for his Amendment, he was quite prepared, in the circumstances, to leave its existence or non-existence in the hands of noble Lords opposite.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
said that he was quite prepared to accept the Amendment of the noble Marquess in preference to that which he had put down, and which ran as follows—In page 3, line 29, after the word 'parish' to insert the words 'or in any urban district there is any public elementary school provided for the children of the district which is distant not less than half-a-mile from any public elementary school in which facilities are afforded for the giving of such religious instruction.'They were both aiming at the same point, and he thought the noble Marquess's words were better than his own. It was necessary to have regard, not only to the rural areas, but to those great forlorn districts in the great cities where there was no school but the board schools. The population of his diocese increased by 40,000 every year. It taxed their utmost resources to build churches, parsonages, and Sunday schools, and they could not manage to erect Church schools as well. He would plead for such districts as Tottenham and Edmonton where Church parents had no schools whatever to send their children to except council schools. Since the Committee stage he had examined into the condition of things at Edmonton, the population of which was 60,700, and he found that there were 2,800 children of Church of England parents who had no facilities for learning the religion of their parents. The Amendment would safeguard the denominational principle, and he was sure that it would in practice be easy to work. 219 The noble Earl the Lord President had said that this was an undenominational Bill. That was precisely the reason why they disliked it, and why he and others regarded it as a bad Bill. What they were trying to do was to secure that when the Church schools were swept away some fragments should be saved. As to the practicability of the proposal, he mentioned that he had been himself a manager of three large board schools in Bethnal Green, and the one especially entrusted to his care was a very large school with 1,500 children. There was one Churchman — the headmaster—and eight Nonconformist teachers. Though this would be perhaps one of the worst schools that could be chosen for the experiment, he would have gladly undertaken to carry it out in that school. The headmaster would have been willing to take a class of Church children, and he (the right rev. Prelate) could have managed these facilities in that school without friction. He appealed to their Lordships in this matter on the ground of common fairness.
§ LORD GRIMTHORPE
pointed out that the situation of the Edmonton children was exactly that of the Nonconformist children under the Act of 1902.
*THE EARL OF LYTTON, who had the following new clause on the Paper—
(1) The local authority may, at the request of the parents of children attending any public elementary school, and with the consent of the local school managers, permit religious instruction to be given to such children according to the tenets and faith of their parents in the school building, at hours other than those assigned for secular instruction, without making any charge for the use of such buildings; provided that the instruction be under the direction of a qualified person duly accredited on behalf of the religious community to which the parents concerned belong, and provided also that such person, or the body on whose behalf he or she is accredited, shall defray any cost of such religious instruction, and, if required, extra renumeration of the caretaker of the school buildings, and shall make good any damage that may occur.
(2) This clause shall not apply to any school administered under the provisions of Clause 4—
said his Amendment and that of the noble Marquess differed in two respects. One was a very small matter, but the other was of considerable im-
portance. In the first place, his Amendment was intended to apply to all schools throughout the country, whereas that of the noble Marquess was intended to apply merely to schools in single school areas. That was a small difference, because the object which they both had in view was the same. His object and that of the noble Marquess was that where a child was so situated that he could not receive in the existing school the religious instruction which his parents desired for him he should have the special facilities. The other difference was that whereas his Amendment was permissory, that of the noble Marquess was mandatory. Personally he preferred the permissory form, because it was more in accordance with the principle of the Bill. It even established a greater measure of public control than the Government Bill since it allowed more discretion to the local authority. His chief reason for preferring his own Amendment was that it got rid of all questions as to the practicability of the machinery. How far the system was practicable was at present an open question. Many speeches had been made both inside and outside the House to show that it was unworkable. On the other hand wherever it had been tried it had met with a great measure of success. It was in force at the present moment in industrial schools, in the Duke of York's military school, and in the Colonies, and in all these cases it worked perfectly successfully. Members of the Church of England and Roman Catholics had shown themselves willing to accept this Amendment in 1902, and he had no reason to believe that Nonconformists would be unwilling to accept it so far as religious grounds were concerned. But, if they were unwilling to give the facilities, he could only say that the objection came very ill from people who in the past had championed the cause of religious liberty; and if Nonconformists refused at this moment to concede to others the liberty they claimed for themselves, the whole battle of religious liberty would have to be fought out again, and it would be found that the combatants had changed sides. The situation that the Opposition were seeking to remedy was precisely that which the Nonconformists had protested against for so many years, and from which they had suffered particularly in country districts. The noble Lord who spoke
last had revived a taunt which had been brought against them once or twice before, viz., that their zeal in the cause of minorities and in the cause of parents was of new growth. Where, the noble Lord opposite asked, was their zeal for this cause in 1902? When the Bill of 1902 was under discussion he (Lord Lytton) moved precisely the same Amendment that he now had on the Order Paper, and the Amendment then received the assent of a large number of noble Lords and was only defeated by a very small majority, although it was opposed by both Front Benches. If that Amendment had received the support of noble Lords opposite it would certainly have been carried, and the interests of minorities would have been safeguarded. If the Amendment had then been agreed to the very thing they were now trying to do would have been done in the Act of 1902. Therefore he maintained that this taunt came very ill from the persons on whose shoulders rested the responsibility for the clause not being in the Act of 1902. Hitherto the denominational schools of the country had occupied a privileged position more or less outside the national system. That privileged position was now to come to an end, and the schools were all to be made national schools. However much the supporters of those schools might object to that arrangement they would not, he thought, question the fact that it would be impossible to re-establish them in that privileged position. Therefore, in looking to the future, if they desired that religious education should continue as a vital force in the lives of the children, attending the schools, they must look rather to facilities for such education in all schools alike than to the creation of a special and privileged type of school. It was in the hope that some proposal of this kind would make the Bill more acceptable to all those who cared for the maintenance of religion that he should vote for its insertion.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said it was incorrect to assume that he had suggested that this duty should be imposed on the local education authority even if it was impracticable, for his Amendment contained the words "so far as it is in their opinion reasonably practicable."
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I think the course that has been taken, of considering these various Amendments together, has certainly been a convenient one. We have not, however, heard anything from the noble Viscount Lord Halifax. He, I understand, desires to vote separately on his Amendment.
VISCOUNT HALIFAX, who had on the Paper an Amendment to delete from Sub-section 1, Clause 3, the words—
any parish in any rural area there is only one public elementary school provided for the children of the parish, and the parents of a reasonable number of children attending the school have required such facilities,'
and to insert in their place the words—
the case of any public elementary school in which extended facilities are not offered under this Act, the parents of not less than twenty children have required facilities under this section,
said there was a wide and deep feeling throughout the country as to the withdrawal of the Amendment originally moved by Lord Balfour. Meetings had been held in different parts of the country to discuss it, and the two great principles which had met with universal assent was that there should be absolute justice and equality as between the different denominations, and that parents should be allowed to say what kind of religious teaching should be given to their children. Requests had, therefore, been made that Lord Balfour's Amendment should be brought forward again. He asked the supporters of the Government on what possible principle of justice and fair dealing they would refuse to agree to the Amendment of the noble Marquess? If it was just and fair that there should be facilities for undenominational teaching, on what possible principle could they deny the right of facilities for parents who desired them in the undenominational schools, and who, it must be remembered, asked to be allowed to pay for them themselves? They were told that it was one of the greatest glories of the Bill that it placed undenominational teaching within the reach of every child throughout the country. Why was it not equally important to place denominational teaching within the reach of every child whose parents desired it? How could the support of one form of religion and the rejection of another form
be justified? Had not the parent a right to decide what religion should be taught to his children? He maintained that it was a right which should be acknowledged in the Bill, and that was what the Opposition contended for here. Unless an Amendment of this kind were incorporated in the Bill there could be no hope of a settlement of the education question. He made no concealment of his dislike to the Bill. It was a measure to substitute undenominational teaching for denominational teaching, and without the incorporation of some Amendment like this the strife would simply be transferred from Parliament to the country. Their Lordships might depend upon it that if that strife was engaged in in the country, liberty of conscience and the rights of parents would triumph in the long run. It had been said again that evening by the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council that this was an undenominational Bill. The Prime Minister and Mr. Birrell had said the same thing. He would appeal from the words of the Prime Minister and Mr. Birrell since the election to the words of both before the election. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman said on 26th October, 1904—
We want the child to be brought up in the faith of his father, at least until he comes to such an age as to be able to judge of a faith for himself. I am sure that the Liberal Party throughout the country has but one object, which is to secure perfect freedom of conscience and equal treatment and complete public control for the system.
Mr. Birrell on 12th January, 1905, said—
He was very anxious that facilities should be given whereby all religious denominations should have an opportunity of instructing the children in what they believed to be the true religion. His anxiety was very great on the subject. It was a very difficult thing to be able to do, but at any rate his efforts were all in the direction of throwing open all schools of this country, not only for simple elementary Bible instruction, but also that facilities should be granted to enable parents to have their children instructed in their own religion and in their own particular doctrines.
It was on declarations such as these that the General Election, so far as it turned on the education question, was fought. These words contained all that the noble Marquess asked for, and all that his (Viscount Halifax's) Amendment asked for. The Amendment practically endorsed the principles laid down by the Prime Minister and the President of the
Board of Education. If the Government would agree to do justice to denominational schools and the rights of parents he would be glad to do all that was possible for a settlement of this question. But, if not, they would be obliged to say that this was not a Bill for the furtherance of education, but a Bill for putting undenominational in the place of denominational religion, and this at the instigation not of religious but of political Nonconformists who desired through the schools to strike a blow at the Church of England.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I am grateful to the noble Viscount for having given us his views, because now I think we have the complete views of those who have brought forward these Amendments, or perhaps I ought to say this multiform Amendment. The first Amendment was made by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Hereford, who inserted words providing that these facilities should be given in council schools in single school country parishes. Next in order I think comes the Amendment of the noble Earl (Lord Lytton), who leaves a complete option to the local authority in every case to say whether they will give these facilities or not. Then come the Amendments of the noble Marquess Lord Salisbury and the right rev. Prelate, and I think it is evident that we may take the noble Marquess's as being the authorised version of this Amendment on which the sense of the House is to be taken. The noble Marquess corrected Lord Lytton when he said that there was a certain degree of compulsion on the local authority in his (Lord Salisbury's) Amendment. I confess I had read the clause somewhat in the same sense. The noble Marquess says that they shall—so far as it is in their opinion reasonably practicable to do so, afford those facilities.Perhaps the noble Marquess will tell us before we divide upon this clause, or before we come to a conclusion upon it, whether those words altogether bar an appeal either to the Board of Education or to Courts under this clause. I had certainly taken it that under Clause 16 of the Act of 1902 there would be an appeal to the Board of Education in this matter; but, of course, if the noble Marquess means that the words "in their opinion" should entirely govern the clause 225 I suppose it might be that they would be safe from any appeal. In that case the noble Marquess's Amendment would be the same as Lord Lytton's. The noble Viscount's Amendment is stronger still. It provides that in all schools where the parents of not less than twenty children ask for facilities they shall get them, but I understand the noble Viscount does not mean to press that Amendment, but accepts the Amendment of the noble Marquess. We opposed the Amendment of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Hereford, which was inserted in Committee, because we did not think it possible to arrange for any facilities being given in board schools in the form which the Bill has taken; but, of course, there was this to be said on behalf of the right rev. Prelate's scheme, that a very considerable number of those single council rural schools were transferred Church schools which might not have been transferred if the owners had known what the provisions of this Bill might be, and, therefore there was a certain case for them. Now I turn to the Amendment of the noble Marquess. When the noble Marquess says, "facilities of the same character as those to be afforded," I suppose he means simply facilities for two days.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
Therefore, of course, it is quite possible that applications might in some instances be numerous, in which case all the objections which were so forcibly pressed by the noble Duke, by the noble Viscount (Lord St. Aldwyn), and by noble Lords on this side of the House when we were discussing Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Amendment, would again come into play.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
And in that case the facilities, the noble Marquess means, would not be obtained. I think it is quite clear that a very large number of local authorities would decline to take any steps whatever under the Amendment of the noble Marquess, assuming it to be optional, and for this reason. After all, 226 what the noble Marquess is asking for is a new invasion of districts where there have been no Church schools at all. There are a number of large towns which have gone on since 1870 with nothing but board schools, now council schools, and in those schools hundreds of thousands of Church children have been educated without, as far as we know, active complaint. They have received in many cases, one hopes, very good teaching under the Cowper-Temple Clause, and they have received outside the school and on Sundays the teaching of the Church of England. The noble Lord must see that to ask those local authorities to admit a system of facilities into their schools is to ask a very great deal indeed, and you must remember what it comes on the top of. It is conceivable that they might have been asked to accept it as part of a general settlement under which all schools in England were going to be really of the same type. But that is not so. You are leaving your denominational schools to a very considerable extent denominational. We left them in many cases very largely denominational as the Bill came up to your Lordships' House, and by your Lordships' Amendments they are very much more denominational. The enormous multiplication of schools under Clause 4 cannot be forgotten in this relation, and, on the top of all that, to ask these local authorities, who have run their schools on undenominational lines for thirty years, to admit an unknown number of denominational teachers into the schools, is to put upon them a burden that I am quite sure they would refuse to carry. Therefore, the result of the noble Marquess' Amendment would be that in some places where Church influence was strong these facilities would freely be given, but in such cases as those to which the Bishop of London alluded, namely, large districts where there are no Church schools, and also in a great many towns of varying sizes where there have been nothing but council schools, things would be left as they are, and that in the places where, according to the theory of the noble Marquess and the right rev. Prelate, the facilities are most wanted. In towns where Church influence was strong there might be a board school or two and a friendly authority to whom these provisions would apply; but in those desolate districts of which the 227 right rev. Prelate spoke, the permission would undoubtedly be refused.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
It does not follow that they would be refused there. The districts are desolate, but the Church is strong there.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I have no doubt the Church is strong there, but it would not be for the Church, unfortunately, to say whether the facilities were to be given or not. It would be for the local education authority, and I was assuming for the moment that the local authority was not the sort of one to see its board schools visited by these facilities. I must remind the noble Marquess and the House of another point. Lord Lytton said that, after all, all you want to do is to give minorities a chance, and he hinted that if in 1902 his Amendment had been accepted by the House this difficulty would not have arisen. I am afraid the noble Earl is completely in error there, and for this reason, that by this clause you are giving to one kind of minority, principally the Church of England, something of which they could make most effective use, but you are not giving, certainly to the poorer sects of Nonconformists in the country, a boon of which they would be able to make any use at all. That is the real difficulty, that your facilities are not in pari materia in regard to the different denominations. It was admitted by the Bishop of Manchester, in a speech that he made, I think, at a diocesan conference, that this particular provision must inevitably, owing to the nature of the case, not through any vice on anybody's part, work with a vast preponderance of advantage in favour of the Church of England. I do not know what view the noble Duke and the noble Viscount (Lord St. Aldwyn) opposite may take of this proposal. They did not agree with the larger proposal of Lord Balfour of Burleigh, and whether they will agree with this modified proposal I do not know. As regards the noble Viscount, I always thought, and I still think, that there was a strong case for his proposition, that there should be some means of keeping the facilities alive in districts where a great number of Church schools were extinguished. There always seemed to me to be a rather 228 strong case for them, but as we pointed out at the time, it is an exceedingly difficult matter to provide for in the words of the clause, and we were unable to accept the noble Viscount's Amendment. But that, of course, is a very different matter indeed from this general entry into council schools, not as part of a great national settlement, but coming as an accumulative claim really and mainly on behalf of the Church of England on the top of the assertion of the continuance of the denominational character of a very large number of her schools.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
The noble Earl is correct in his surmise when he suggests that those who sit by me will support the noble Marquess in his Amendment. The noble Earl referred in the concluding passage of his speech to another Amendment which was moved by my noble friend Viscount St. Aldwyn, a very ingenious proposal under which facilities were to be given in cases where a denominational school has been got rid of, and where the children who had attended that school, or might have attended it, would have been specially provided for; but my recollection is that the noble Earl did not give very much encouragement to that proposal, and that, indeed, he discovered a good many administrative objections to it.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
That proposal, I venture to suggest, is not now before the House. The noble Viscount, Lord Halifax, expressed his regret at the abandonment of the Amendment moved by my noble friend, Lord Balfour of Burleigh. He does not stand alone in that. I have received from many sources evidence of the regret with which the withdrawal of that Amendment was regarded. The noble Viscount, Lord Halifax, asked on what conceivable ground could the proposal of Lord Balfour of Burleigh be objected to. It was objected to upon one ground which certainly was entitled to some weight— namely, that where these council schools giving what we call Cowper-Temple teaching were in existence, and where the teaching given in them had been 229 accepted and gladly acquiesced in by the people of the locality in which they were situated, it was very unwise suddenly to disturb the status quo and to bring in teaching other than Cowper-Temple teaching. There is, I feel, some force in that objection. The proposal of the noble Marquess beside me is not, at any rate, open to that objection, because he deals with the case where there is a real grievance and where there are dissatisfied people who cannot be provided for without some such encroachment, if it be an encroachment, upon the arrangements in force in those council schools. I ask your Lordships' attention to the conditions which the noble Marquess attaches to his proposal. They are these. The parents of a reasonable number of children attending the school must make it clear that they desire these facilities to be given. In the next place, it is to be established to the satisfaction of the local education authority that these children cannot conveniently attend another school. In the next place, the local authority is authorised to permit these facilities only so far as it is in their opinion reasonably practicable to do so. Your Lordships will therefore see that a very wide discretion is given to the local authority, a discretion which would leave it quite open to them to refuse facilities if they believed that the granting of them involved a serious disturbance of the conditions prevailing in any particular school. The noble Earl asked whether it was in our contemplation that in a case of this kind there should be an appeal against the decision of the local education authority. The answer to that question is in the negative. The noble Earl also dwelt for a short time upon the administrative difficulties which he anticipated from the adoption of this proposal. It has always seemed to me that noble Lords opposite are much too easily deterred by the anticipation of these administrative difficulties. The right rev. Prelate who presides over the diocese of London, and who has had practical experience of these matters, has told us of cases in which within his own knowledge this experiment has been tried and tried successfully without any inconvenient results.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
I did not say it had been tried, but that I could have carried it out without difficulty.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I beg the right rev. Prelate's pardon. There is, however, a weightier authority, if possible, in favour of the view that these administrative difficulties need not be regarded as insuperable. Here is an extract from a speech delivered by the Minister for Education at Bristol. He said—His efforts were all in the direction of throwing open all schools of this country, not only for simple elementary Bible instruction, but also that facilities should be given to enable parents to have their children instructed by ministers of their own religion in their own particular doctrines.That, to my mind, shows conclusively that one who can speak with authority upon these subjects did not regard it, when he made that speech, as beyond the powers of the education authorities of the country to accommodate themselves to a condition of things under which, in certain circumstances, facilities might be given for denominational teaching in any school no matter of what complexion. I therefore feel that the case made by my noble friend beside me, for the very moderate proposal which he has put upon the Paper is a strong case, and I shall un hesitatingly vote with him if he goes to a Division.
THE LORD BISHOP OF BIRMINGHAM
said there was a very strong feeling, not amongst Churchmen only, but amongst members of local education authorities of all kinds, that precautions should be taken to prevent questions of religious education coming up at local elections. This question of facilities was one upon which a great number of persons felt very warmly, and he was afraid if so much option, as the Amendment of the noble Marquess proposed, was left to the local authority, without appeal, the question would in certain districts enter acutely into municipal elections.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said he felt compelled to adhere to the wording of his Amendment. He thought they might rely with some confidence on the local authority exercising properly the quasi-judicial function which the option entrusted to them.
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
rose to address the House amidst loud cries of "Divide." He 231 said he thought he might claim the attention of their Lordships for a few minutes.
§ THE EARL OF HALSBURY
I am afraid the right rev. Prelate is out of order. He has already spoken on this Amendment.
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
When I spoke earlier I ventured to say then that I reserved anything I had to say on the noble Marquess's Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I might explain that we propose on this side of the House to take only one division on this subject.
§ On Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," resolved in the negative.
§ On Question, "That the word 'that' be there inserted," their Lordships divided:—Contents, 143; Not-Contents, 43.233
|York, L. Abp.||Morley, E.||Biddulph, L.|
|Morton, E.||Blythswood, L.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Braye, L.|
|Bedford, D.||Nelson, E.||Burton, L.|
|Grafton, D.||Northbrook, E.||Calthorpe, L.|
|Newcastle, D.||Onslow, E.||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)|
|Northumberland, D.||Plymouth, E.||Cheylesmore, L.|
|Richmond and Gordon, D.||Powis, E.||Clinton, L.|
|Somerset, D.||Saint Germans, E.||Colchester, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Shaftesbury, E.||Crawshaw, L.|
|Shrewsbury, E.||De L'Isle and Dudley, L.|
|Stamford, E.||de Ros, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry)||Digby, L.|
|Bath, M.||Waldegrave, E. [Teller]||Dunboyne, L.|
|Bristol, M.||Wharncliffe, E.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)|
|Camden, M.||Ebury, L.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Bridport, V.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Landsdowne, M.||Churchill, V.[Teller.]||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)|
|Salisbury, M.||Cross, V.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Zetland, M.||Falkland, V.||Glenesk, L.|
|Goschen, V.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Halifax, V.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)|
|Abingdon, E.||Hill, V.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Amherst, E.||Iveagh, V.||Knaresborough, L.|
|Ashburnham, E.||Knutsford, V.||Lawrence, L.|
|Brownlow, E.||Llandaff, V.||Leith of Fyvie, L.|
|Cairns, E.||St. Aldwyn, V.||Ludlow, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Macnaghten, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Clarendon, E.||Birmingham, L. Bp.||Mostyn, L.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Bristol, L. Bp.||North, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||Chester, L. Bp.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Devon, E.||London L Bp.||Rathmore, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Norwich, L. Bp.||Redesdale, L.|
|Oxford, L. Bp.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Egerton, E.||Peterborough, L. Bp.||Rothschild, L.|
|Eldon, E.||St. Albans, L. Bp.||Sanderson, L.|
|Fevarsham, E.||St. David's, L. Bp.||Sandys, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Salisbury, L. Bp.||Seaton, L.|
|Gainsborough, E.||Wakefield, L. Bp.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Haddington, E.||Sinclair, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Hardwicke, E.||Addington, L.||Southampton, L.|
|Harewood, E.||Allerton, L.||Stalbridge, L.|
|Kilmorey, E.||Ardilaun, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Lindsey, E.||Ashcombe, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Atkinson, L.||Tennyson, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Balfour, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Barrymore, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Mar and Kellie, E.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Colebrooke, L.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Crowe, E. (L. President.)||Coleridge, L.||Lyveden. L.|
|Ripon, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Courteney of Penwith, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Davey, L.||Monson, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Denman, L. [Teller.]||O'Hagan, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)||Pirrie, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Reay, L.|
|Craven, E.||Eversley, L.||Rendal, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Farrer, L.||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Russell, E.||Fitzmaurice, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Granard, L. (E. Granard.) [Teller.]||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Althorp, V. (L.. Chamberlain.)||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Grimthorpe, L.||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Hereford, L. Bp.||Haversham, L.||Wandsworth, L.|
|Headley, L.||Welby, L.|
|Brassey, L.||Hemphill, L.|
|Burghclere, L.||Joicey, L.|
§ *VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN moved an Amendment providing that the facilities for special religious instruction under Clause 3 should be afforded "on two mornings a week in school hours at such times as may be consistent with the proper conduct of the school." He said he had given notice of this Amendment because he thought it right to ask their Lordships to reconsider the Amendment introduced into Clause 3 on the Motion of the Bishop of Oxford. At that time the position of Clause 3 was distinctly different from that which it now occupied. Formerly school teachers were not to be permitted to give denominational religious instruction in schools under the clause, and religious instruction was, moreover, to be given outside school hours. This was no longer the case. Under the eighth clause teachers were now to be permitted to give denominational religions teaching in schools under Clause 3, and in those schools, as elsewhere, the religious teaching was to be in school hours. The net result, so far as facilities for denominational religious instruction was concerned, was practically to place schools under Clause 3 in precisely the same position as schools under Clause 4. So far as he could see, there was only one difference, and that was that in the case, of schools under Clause 4 the parents' committee were to be consulted as to the appointment of the teacher. But given a school under Clause 3 in which —and there would be many such cases, he hoped, for a long time to come— a school teacher existed willing and able to give denominational religious iustrucsion, precisely the same denominational atmosphere would exist as if the school had been under Clause 4, and yet the 234 purely denominational atmosphere would have been arrived at, not, as in the case of Clause 4 schools, owing to the wishes of the parents of a large proportion of the children attending the school, but solely because the owners of the school on its transfer to the local education authority had required that facilities under Clause 3 should be given. No doubt some of their Lordships were desirous that that state of things should exist, but it must be admitted that it was a material interference with the framework of the Bill. The intention clearly was that schools under Clause 3 should be less denominational in character than schools under Clause 4. In the one case there was, and in the other there was not, to be a denominational atmosphere, and in Clause 4 provisions appeared for the purpose of enabling schools to obtain that atmosphere. The effect of the Bishop of Oxford's Amendment, taken together with the changes to which he had referred, was inconsistent with some of the most important principles of the Bill, and if it was so they ought, if they intended to adhere to the Amendment to have rejected the Bill on Second Heading. He had always understood that one of the main points which His Majesty's Government had had in mind with regard to schools under Clause 3 was that the majority, at any rate, of the present denominational schools in country villages would fall under that clause, and that their object in limiting the amount of denominational instruction that could be given in Clause 3 schools as compared with schools under Clause 4 was that these schools should be of a less denominational character, so that the 235 grievance of the Nonconformist parents who had to send their children to such schools should be in some degree met. That grievance had been admitted on both sides of the House, and many felt that it was not sufficiently met under the provisions of the existing law by the conscience clause. It might be said that if it was desirable to restrict the denominational character of the religious instruction in Clause 3 schools to meet the grievance of Nonconformist parents, they ought not, in order to do that, to inflict an injustice on the denominationalist majority, which in these cases would be mainly a Church of England majority. There was no doubt great force in that view, but was it really necessary, to avoid inflicting a grievance on a Church of England majority, that denominational religious teaching should be given in these schools on every day on which the school was open? He asked their Lordships to consider what was possible in these schools under the clause as introtroduced. Denominational teaching could be given on only two days in the week, but on the other three it was perfectly possible for prayers to be offered, for the Bible to be read, and for undenominational religious teaching to be given, which, if given by the same teacher, need not in any way conflict with the denominational teaching given on the other two days in the week. Therefore practically all that could not be given on the three days was teaching of the Church Catechism. Was it really necessary that that particular teaching should be given on every day of the week? What had been their Lordships' own experience at school? For his own part, nothing of the sort ever happened at the schools in which he was educated. He fully admitted there was a difference in the position of many of the children attending elementary schools in the matter of home influences, and it might fairly be argued that more religious teaching should be afforded in the elementary schools on that account than needed to be given in the case of those who had healthy religious influences at home. But he was bound to say that the clause as it now stood went too far in that direction, and he thought it would be perfectly reasonable, so far as the number of days on which denominational religious instruction might be 236 given, if it were restored to the position in which it originally stood, and his Amendment was designed with that object. The only difference between his proposal and the clause as it originally stood was that he had included a proviso that the teaching should be within schools hours—which was practically already in the Bill—and he had inserted words giving greater elasticity to the power of owners and the education authority to decide when and how the denominational teaching should be given. The clause as originally introduced limited that power in a way which in practical administration would have been found extremely inconvenient, and his words pointed to the possibility of an arrangement by which the denominational teaching on the two days should be given in such a way, subject to the general law, as the owners and the education authority found convenient so as not to interfere with the general conduct of the schools.
In page 3, line 34, after the word 'instruction,' to insert the words 'on two mornings a week in school hours at such times as may be consistent with the proper conduct of the school and.'"—(Viscount St. Aldwyn.)
THE LORD BISHOP OF OXFORD
said he found himself, reluctantly, in opposition to Viscount St. Aldwyn. The noble Viscount had described the effect of the clause as it now stood as placing Clause 3 schools in precisely the same position as schools under Clause 4.
THE LORD BISHOP OF OXFORD
said he noticed that after using the word "precisely" the noble Viscount qualified it by saying there was one exception. But the differences between the two classes of schools were really three. The noble Viscount had referred to one—that a voice was given to the parents' committee with regard to the appointment of teachers. The second was that with regard to Clause 4 schools the parents' committee were given the control of the religious instruction, while there was no such committee and therefore no such control in the case of schools under Clause 3. That second function of the parents' committee had an independent importance beyond that which they exercised in 237 regard to the appointment of teachers. The third point of difference—which was still more important—between schools under Clause 3 and those under Clause 4 was that, in the former "the religious instruction," whatever precisely was meant by that, would be undenominational. Facilities would be freely afforded for other instruction: but, so to say, the characteristic religious instruction of those schools would be undenominational. It was quite true that in many cases that might be modified or altered by the denominational instruction given under the facilities, but the fact remained that in Clause 3 schools, and not in schools under Clause 4, the normal religious instruction might be undenominational. These were three important differences of detail between the two classes of schools. But he asked their Lordships to think of the general result. The Government had declared, and it had been generally recognised, that the intention was that schools under Clause 4 should be "frankly denominational." Clause 3 schools, even as the clause now stood, might be, and so far as any charge on the rates or taxes was concerned, must be, solidly undenominational. That could not be disputed, and it constituted a very real line of distinction. Those who thought that the effect of the clause as amended was to make Clause 3 schools identical in character with schools under Clause 4 either over-rated the effect of Clause 3 or greatly under-rated the effect of Clause 4, and thought of it as falling far below its avowed and recognised purpose. They had always spoken of the religious "atmosphere" created in schools coming under Clause 4. He disliked the phrase, and would rather speak of the religious character; but howsoever it was spoken of it was something created under Clause 4 and not under Clause 3. The noble Viscount had asked whether all this was really necessary in order to prevent the infliction of a hardship upon those who would be in many cases the majority in the transferred schools. There were many districts in which the majority of the children would be the children of Church of England parents. They certainly prima facie seemed liable to hardship under Clause 3 as it originally stood, inasmuch as there would be imposed upon them on three days of the week undenominational instruction. Exag- 238 gerated statements had been made in many quarters as to the probable effect of Clause 3 as amended. People had apparently not noticed that where the local authority was willing to provide it, undenominational teaching might be given on every day in the week to the children of those parents who desired it for them, and the whole purpose and effect of his Amendment had been to secure equal opportunities and privileges for those children whose parents desired denominational teaching. He quite recognised that in a great many schools things would probably go on as they had done hitherto, and the religious and thoughtful teacher would give good Bible teaching on three days and definite denominational teaching on the other two. But they had also to consider the schools in which the position would be widely different. In a considerable number of schools the children of Church parents would suffer a real hardship under the clause as the noble Viscount wished to amend it. He would take two instances in which hardship would be sustained. As Lord Clifford of Chudleigh had said on a former occasion, under the clause as it stood in the Government Bill, Roman Catholic children in transferred schools would simply be withdrawn from religious instruction on three days in the week; their opportunity of receiving religious instruction in accordance with their religious convictions would be cut down absolutely to two days in the week. That was a real hardship against which the clause as now amended would protect them. The second case of hardship would be in a transferred school which had been provided by great effort for the maintenance of Church of England teaching, and to which might be appointed, say, a Baptist headmaster. The school might be in a country district where it was practically inevitable that the undenominational teaching on the three days in the week must be in his hands: and it was said that the children of Church of England parents must receive such instruction, given by a convinced Baptist, or none at all, on three days, and the Catechism or other definite denominational teaching on two. Who could regard those two volumes of religious instruction as constituting a single and coherent whole? Who would say that on a basis of Baptist Bible instruction given for three days a superstructure of 239 the Catechism could be added on the other two days, and that there they would have the full body of the Christian faith? It was necessary that provision should be made for such cases as those, where real hardship would otherwise be inflicted upon the children of Church of England parents. As the action of the House in adopting his Amendment had been criticised, he desired briefly to recall the position on the evening on which it was adopted. Lord Balfour of Burleigh had two Amendments on the Paper, independent one of the other, but both resting on the one great principle of affording equal opportunity for all religious convictions and equal advantage for all parents with regard to the education they desired for their children, whether that instruction was demoninational or undenominational. The first Amendment provided that equality of opportunity in regard to all schools; the the second in regard to all days. The former was withdrawn: and he believed that when the history of the debate came to be reviewed it would be found that that withdrawal and the criticisms which led to it would be regarded as one of the great mistakes the House had made. It was now proposed that the second Amendment, which, in the absence of Lord Balfour of Burleigh he had moved and the House had accepted, should also be abandoned. If that were done, he believed the House would have made a second great mistake; for they would have gone back from the principle of religious liberty, set up a position of privilege, given an advantage, and inflicted an injustice. They would have given an advantage to those who preferred or were content with undenominational teaching: because they could have it on every day in the week and at the public expense; they would have inflicted an injustice on those who preferred and required denominational teaching, because they could have it on only two days in the week, and only at their own expense. Moreover, those on whom were inflicted the injustice and the disadvantage were just those for whom the schools to be transferred were built and provided; it was proposed to take those who had already done most, and to say to them that henceforth they should suffer most.
THE LORD BISHOP OF BIRMINGHAM
supposed they were all really anxious so to act as, if possible, to procure the passing of a Bill which, regarded from all points of views as suitable, should secure, at least for some considerable period, a settlement of the religious question which for so long had been obtruding itself in such a way as to hinder the real interests of education in general. But if that end was to be secured they must not in revenge for any injustice of the past create another injustice of grave and even startling magnitude. If they on the Episcopal Benches, representing Churchmen, were to acquiesce in the Amendment of Viscount St. Aldwyn he believed there was behind them such a, body of opinion and feeling as would sweep them, even contemptuously, aside and refuse to consent to any such acquiescence. He doubted whether their Lordships realised what the transference of schools meant to a great number of people who had loved the schools and worked hard for them. He was cordially at one with the two great principles of State control and the abandonment of religious tests for teachers so far as their place in the Civil Service was concerned, but if those principles were to be carried out the State when face to face with various kinds of religious teaching must preserve an attitude of strict impartiality. What would be the state of mind of persons who had supported those schools in the interests of a particular kind of religious teaching which they believed to be true and valued exceedingly? They might, and in many cases would, see appointed a headmaster who was not a member of the Church of England—a Baptist, a Congregationalist, or even a Unitarian— and undenominational teaching given by such a headmaster would be the primary religious teaching in the school. He could not believe that the people of the country would consent to the gross and unbearable injustice of subjecting the children of Church parents, against their will, and quite arbitrarily, for three days a week, to compulsory religious teaching of a kind which they did not like. If such an enactment were made a statute of the realm it would arouse such an opposition as would make the Act absolutely unworkable, because in 241 these days it was impossible to fight against people who had on their side a manifest injustice. To subject children of Church of England parents on three days in the week, arbitrarily and against their will, in schools built for the maintenance of Church teaching, to teaching which they did not like, when there was someone ready to give the instruction they wore anxious to receive, was contrary to the fundamental principles of religious liberty, and would wreck any proposed settlement that Parliament might devise. An analogy might be found by going to a place of academic instruction, and, in the controversy between the old and the modern methods of teaching geometry, suggesting as a compromise that Euclid should be taught on three days a week and modern geometry on two. A settlement could not be arrived at by such a proposal, nor could the new legislation desired by the Government be reconciled with the minds and consciences of the people. He appealed to the great historic Parties in the State to realise that it was a serious matter if at this time of day they were going to set their seal to a deliberate preference of one kind of religious teaching to another, by compelling children to receive religious instruction which they did not want when there was ready for them another kind of teaching which they did want, but which, by the arbitrary fiat of the State, they were prevented from obtaining. It would be a strange thing if the new Labour Party were found to be the only Party really true to the principle that the modern State must maintain an attitude of strict impartiality towards the different kinds of religious teaching. Even if it were provided that the children of Church of England parents might be taught elsewhere than in the school on the three days a week, it would be a great and needless unsettling of the routine of the school. He hoped their Lordships would not, by accepting the proposal of the noble Viscount, sanction an injustice which would be quite capable of upsetting any proposed arrangement which they might have fondly hoped they had arrived at.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
The noble Viscount who moved the Amendment has interpreted so correctly the intention of His Majesty's Government in bring- 242 ing in Clause 3 in the form in which it was introduced that I need say very few words upon this Amendment. I am anxious also on general grounds to make as few Second Reading speeches as possible at this stage, which I regard as a distinctly business stage, and therefore I shall be as brief as I can. The noble Viscount is perfectly correct in saying that in our opinion—and I am glad to know that it is also his opinion—the acceptance of this clause in the form to which it was reduced by the Amendment of the Bishop of Oxford would be destructive of the fabric of the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
At any rate, that the Amendment was entirely alien to the structure of the Bill as introduced. The right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Oxford endeavoured to combat the statement that the acceptance of his Amendment would be to reduce Clause 3 schools very nearly to the condition of schools under Clause 4, and he mentioned three differences between the two classes of schools. One, which was admitted by the noble Viscount opposite, was that in the case of the Clause 4 schools the parents' committee is to be consulted as to the appointment of teachers, and that there was no parents' committee in the case of Clause 3.schools, which, said the right rev. Prelate, constituted an important difference. There is an Amendment on the Paper in the name of Lord Halifax providing for the institution of parents' committees so far as facilities under this clause are concerned, and to that principle we, at any rate, offer no objection; consequently, before the evening is out, that point of difference will probably have disappeared. Then the right rev. Prelate said that in these schools Cowper-Temple teaching would be the rule and facilities teaching the exception. But there is no obligation on the local education authority to have any teaching whatever in the schools under Clause 3, and it would be perfectly possible, under the right rev. Prelate's arrangement, for a local authority with a strong Church of England majority to have five days of Church teaching, and none other Consequently it seems to me that that argument falls to the ground.
THE LORD BISHOP OF OXFORD
That would not be the case if any parents desired undenominational teaching; it would be equally open to them to secure that.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I do not know how. It is entirely in the discretion of the local authority whether it gives any undenominational teaching at all. ["No."] There is a further important difference to which the right rev. Prelate did not allude, namely, that these schools are to receive what in many cases will be a substantial rent, while Clause 4 schools will receive none. If they are to retain so denominational a character as is contemplated by the right rev. Prelate, I imagine a great many people will ask themselves in consideration of what is such a rent to be given. It is all very well to talk of the difference between these two classes of schools, but supposing in a country village where clerical influences are strong you have this five days a week church teaching given by the teacher in the school, in what possible way will that school differ from the Church school that it is at this moment? In no essential respect will it differ at all. It will only be by an exercise of the conscience clause, which we all agree it is hardly to be expected village children will make, that the children of Nonconformists and others who do not care for this special teaching could avoid having to attend it. Everybody knows that where parents are not markedly affected one way or the other, it is to the teaching given by the teacher the children as a body will go.
Two right rev. Prelates have addressed us, but I am disposed to ask them whether they profess to speak the whole mind of the Church of England on this matter. My impression is that there are a very large number of the country clergy who are perfectly content with this provision of two days a week facilities. It is a wing—a very important and active wing—of the Church for which those right rev. Prelates speak so energetically and with so much force, but it is necessary to guard your Lordships against the belief that they are speaking for the Church as a whole, because we know that that is not the case. All I can say is that if this clause remained as it is, there would have been very little 244 object in bringing in the Bill at all, and if the right rev. Prelate imagines that the Bill containing this clause as it stands can pass as a settlement I can only tell him quite frankly that if this provision were to remain in there would be no prospect of the Bill's passing at all.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said that it was with extreme regret that for the first time in his life he found himself opposed to the Episcopal Bench. The two right rev. Prelates who had spoken had put forward their case with force and eloquence, but he could not agree with them, for the simple reason that he believed the Lord President of the Council was right in saying that if the Amendment of the Lord Bishop of Oxford were adhered to it would entirely alter the structure of the Bill. If he had his own way, he would like to see the idea of the right rev. Prelate carried into effect, but, although he had had some considerable experience of denominational schools, he had yet to learn that they devoted five days a week to denominational religious instruction. Two, or at most three, days were the limit of definite denominational instruction, and therefore, opposed though he was to this Bill, he failed to see how they could gain any advantage to the cause of denominational religious instruction by insisting on the Amendment of the right rev. Prelate. The question was a very difficult one, and Church people felt strongly upon it, but he thought the proper line had been taken by Lord St. Aldwyn in declaring that the denominational instruction should be given on two days a week. From his experience he believed it would be found difficult to extend it beyond two days. In his own schools the clergyman and the curate found it extremely difficult to carry out the religious instruction on the two or three days. He was convinced they would find the task impossible if it were extended to five days. Therefore, while he did not swerve in his devotion to the principles of denominational instruction, he sincerely hoped the House would support the Amendment of his noble friend.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
appealed to their Lordships to remember that the schools in question were Church of England schools, provided by Churchmen for the teaching of Church of England 245 children in the Church Catechism. Those schools were now to be transferred to the local authority and to become undenominational schools. It was not a question whether the Catechism was to be taught on two or three days or even on one. The question was on what basis was religious instruction to be given on every day. In the denominational schools where the Catechism was taught the basis of the religious instruction given to the children was that supplied by the answer to the first question in the Catechism—that the children were members of a Church, that they had to live up to the obligations of that membership, and that membership of that Church was a matter of vital importance. The basis of undenominational instruction was that it was a matter of no consequence at all whether they belonged to this or that Church or to any Christian community. How was it possible to reconcile such teaching in the minds of the children? If the Amendment were carried, on three days the children would perhaps be told that our Lord was a great human teacher; they would be asked to commit to memory certain portions of the Bible; they would hear nothing of the Incarnation or of the Atonement; they would only get that teaching which, according to Lord Stanley of Alderley, must not be disagreeable to Unitarians. Then on two days of the week they would be told the exact opposite, that their obligations as baptised members of the Church were of vital importance, and that their duties to our Lord were dependent on the fact that He was God made man for their salvation. How could the faith of the children stand such a contradiction? How could any person in his senses propose a system of religious education open to such vital objections as that embodied in Clause 3 as now proposed to be amended must necessarily be? The Lord President had said the Bill would be wrecked if the clause in its present form were carried. He did not know whether it would be wrecked in Parliament, but it would be in the country if this clause were carried. If the Bill were made decently just, he would transfer the schools belonging to him, but if this clause were insisted upon he would not do so, and he knew that many other owners would take up the same position. He was really unable to 246 understand how His Majesty's Government and his noble friends Viscount St. Aldwyn and Lord Camperdown could sanction what was so radically and inherently unjust. He sincerely hoped the House would not accept the Amendment; even though he stood alone he would divide against it.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
hoped that, in spite of the charm and sincerity which distinguished all his utterances on this Bill, the House would pay no attention to the observations which had just fallen from Viscount Halifax, but would bring their minds back to the case put forward by Lord St. Aldwyn in support of this Amendment. With regard to the remarks of Lord Londonderry, he and the noble Marquess were very cordial on the subject of fox-hunting, but he was sorry to say this was the first occasion on which he had found himself in agreement with the noble Marquess on the Education Bill. He agreed with the noble Marquess that it would be practically impossible to give religious teaching in the schools on five days of the week. The Bishops might be able to do it, but they were picked people. Religious teaching was a bump, and the reception of religious teaching was a bump, and he did not believe that either the teachers or their disciples in the ordinary voluntary schools of the country were capable of getting much advantage out of five days a week teaching of that kind. The Bishop of Birmingham had referred to the "gross and unbearable injustice" that would be inflicted in the ease of voluntary schools built by people who wanted a particular form of religious instruction to be given in them. Lord Halifax had said that he did not exaggerate, but he did. He himself also spoke with experience of voluntary schools, and in his part of Yorkshire the whole question of denominational teaching in the voluntary schools had turned on the question of the cost to the rates, it being rather cheaper to the rates when the landlord stood in the breach and the tenant had not to find the money. He got a little tired of these ad captandum arguments, the spiritual metaphysics, and the sort of prelatic climate with which so much of the discussion of the Bill had been clouded, and he hoped the House would support the Amendment moved by the noble Viscount opposite.
* THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTH-WARK
desired to make an appeal to those about him to reconsider their position. He was in whole-hearted agreement with the general case put forward by the Bishops of Oxford and Birmingham, and he thought their case had been entirely mistaken by some noble Lords. Nobody wanted to cram children with the Catechism for five days in the week; what they wanted was that the instruction given should be of one spirit and character. If they had only to deal with schools in which there was ample accommodation, he would say that what had been put forward was quite incontrovertible, and that it was absolutely essential that those who were being deprived of that which they had hitherto had, and for whom the schools were built, ought to be allowed to retain the opportunity of a complete course of religious instruction according to their own convictions and of avoiding the real and grave danger of the clashing of different elements in the instruction. But in the issue before them they were in grave danger of seeming to do that which was unjust, of seeming to do that which was an aggression on the consciences of others. He did not think it could be denied that in some of the country schools this clause as it stood might be used in such a way as to be oppressive to the consciences of Nonconformists. That might be done in a few cases, and the purple rhetoric of invective with which they were so familiar would seize on such instances and inflate them to such proportions as to make it appear that it was being done throughout the villages of the country. If he interpreted the Bill rightly, that would be possible, because there was no clause giving the minority the right to ask for Cowper-Temple teaching. All that was made compulsory was that there should be some religious instruction given in the school on every day of the week, and that requirement would be satisfied by the giving of Church teaching. But that was not all. As Lord Stanley of Alderley had pointed out, there were many schools in which, owing to the staff and the nature of the accommodation, it would be practically impossible to have two kinds of teaching going on at the same time. Therefore if the Church got in possession, with the teacher 248 on five days a week there would be no room for anyone else. He would be sorry if they went into the lobby against the noble Viscount's Amendment, because it would give the impression—he was sure it was a mistaken one— that that was what they wanted to happen. If indeed it were true that, as Lord Halifax had said, these children would be compelled to go and hear teaching on the three days which in material points contradicted the definite instruction they desired to receive, he agreed that whatever was necessary should be done to avoid it. But that was not the case. There was a power of withdrawal for religious instruction elsewhere. In country districts the Church of England had always another building in which they could give instruction, namely, the parish church. In many cases the teaching given under the Cowper-Temple clause would serve as a foundation on which more could be built. If something of a very different kind were given, recourse could be had to the power of withdrawing children and so save them from the injustice which had been so eloquently set forth. Therefore his appeal was not that they should in any way compromise their principles, but simply that they should avoid dividing against the noble Viscount's Amendment, because opposition to that Amendment would be regarded not as an assertion of what was justice to themselves, but as an act of aggression and oppression towards others.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHESTER
said that he voted against the Bishop of Oxford's Amendment in Committee, and everything that had happened since had confirmed him in the view that the step that he took on that occasion was the right one. He sympathized with much that had been said by the Bishops of Oxford and Birmingham, but could not identify himself with the kind of arguments used by Lord Ribblesdale. He hoped the Government would realise how very much they were asking and even compelling Churchmen to give up. He identified himself very largely with what the Bishop of Southwark had said and with his appeal to his brethren. He would vote as he had voted before, but in so doing he wished again to emphasise what Churchmen were being called upon to surrender.
§ noble friend wishes to make a personal explanation he has no right to speak again.
§ On Question, "That those words be there inserted," their Lordships divided: Contents, 142; Not-Contents, 23.249
|York, L. Abp.||Northbrook, E.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Crewe, E. (L. President.)||Onslow, E.||Eversley, L.|
|Ripon, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Plymouth, E.||Farrer, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Fitzmaurice, L.|
|Bedford, D.||Powis, E.||Glantawe, L.|
|Devonshire, D.||Saint Germans, E.||Glenesk, L.|
|Grafton, D.||Stamford, E.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)|
|Northumberland, D.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Grimthorpe, L.|
|Richmond and Gordon, D.]||Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]||Harris, L.|
|Somerset, D.||Wharncliffe, E.||Haversham, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Hemphill, L.|
|Althorp, V. (L. Chamberlain)||Hothfield, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Bridport, V.||Joicey, L.|
|Bath, M.||Churchill, V. [Teller.]||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)|
|Camden, M.||Cobham, V.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Cholmondeley, M.||Falkland, V.||Kintore, E. (E. Kintore.)|
|Lansdowne, M.||Falmouth, V.||Lawrence, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Hill, V.||Leith of Fyvie, L.|
|Winchester, M.||Iveagh, V.||Ludlow, L.|
|St. Aldwyn, V.||Lyveden, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Methuen, L.|
|Brownlow, E.||Chester, L. Bp.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Cairns, E.||Hereford, L. Bp.||Monkswell, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Monson, L.|
|Carlisle, E.||Addington, L.||Mostyn, L.|
|Carnwath, E.||Allerton, L.||Newton, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Ardilaun, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Atkinson. L.||Pirrie, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Balfour, L.||Rathmore, L.|
|Craven, E.||Barrymore, L.||Reay, L.|
|Darnley, E.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Belper, L.||Rendel, L.|
|Devon, E.||Blythswood, L.||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Burghclere, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Burton, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Cheylesmore, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Gainsborough, E.||Clinton, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Haddington, E.||Colebrooke, L.||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Coleridge, L.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||Courtney of Penwith, L.||Stalbridge, L.|
|Hardwood, E.||Crawshaw, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Jersey, E.||Davey, L.||Tennyson, L.|
|Kilmorey, E.||De L'Isle and Dudley, L.||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||de Ros, L.||Ventry, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Denman, L.||Wandsworth, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Desborough, L.||Weardale, L.|
|Morley, E.||Dunboyne, L.||Welby, L.|
|Morton, E.||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)||Wolverton. L.|
|Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Mar and Kellie, E.||Braye, L.|
|Newcastle, D. [Teller]||Colchester, L.|
|Halifax. V [Teller.]||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Bristol, M.||Llandaff, V.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Abingdon, E.||Birmingham, L. Bp.||Stanmore, L.|
|Ashburnham, E.||London, L. Bp.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Denbigh, E.||Norwich, L. Bp.|
|Feversham, E.||Oxford, L. Bp.||Teynham, L.|
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX moved the insertion of a new sub-section setting up a parents' committee in connection with Clause 3 schools. He expressed the hope that it would be regarded as non-contentious, as it merely provided a machinery applicable to Clause 3 analogous to the parents' committee which had been agreed to in connection with schools under Clause 4.
In page 3, line 35, after the word 'morning' to insert the following new sub-section: (2) In all schools in which facilities are afforded under this section the parents of the children attending the school shall elect in accordance with regulations to be made for the purpose by the Board of Education four persons, some of whom may be women, who, together with one other person nominated by the owners, and one other person nominated by the local education authority, shall be known as the parents' committee. The parents' committee shall be responsible for, and have the control of, the religious instruction afforded under such facilities.—(Viscount Halifax.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
We have no objection to accepting the principle of the parents' committee in connection with the facilities given under Clause 3. There is only one point to which I wish to draw attention. Among those who are to be placed on the parents' committee is one person nominated by the local education authority. I do not exactly see what object there is in placing a representative of the local education authority upon this Committee which has only to settle the facilities teaching, with which the local authority is in no way concerned. I should certainly have imagined that it would be much better to confine the representation to parents and owners of the school.
LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
thought that in drafting this Amendment his noble friend had overlooked the fact that under it facilities could be claimed in purely council schools. He thought the proposal should be limited to Clause 3 schools. His noble friend evidently intended to deal with Clause 3 schools only, but the wording of the Amendment would include council schools as well as transferred schools, and he thought his noble friend should limit his Amendment to transferred schools under Clause 3.
§ VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN
said there was one point he hoped the Government would consider. He was glad the Lord-President of the Council had agreed to the principle of the parents' committee in regard to Clause 3 schools. He asked, however, whether as a result there would not be a sort of double management in a large number of schools. Under the local education authority there would be either a local education committee or a committee of managers for all these schools under Clauses 3 and 4, in addition to the parents' committee, and he suggested that it would be much better to enable the parents under Clause 15 to elect a certain number of the managers in each of these schools. There would then be parents' representation on the regular body of management, and no possible conflict could arise between the two bodies as might now very well happen.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I considered the suggestion which has been made, and it certainly occurred to me that if the body of managers are to have control over the religious education in the school there might be a majority of the managers managing the special education who did not belong to the denomination on whose behalf that instruction was being given. The only way that point could be met would be by having a denominational majority, which might, and in some cases undoubtedly would, remove a great deal of power from the local authority. I am afraid the difficulty seems almost insuperable.
§ LORD BELPER
agreed that considerable confusion would exist if, in addition to the local education authority, and the minor authorities with delegated powers, there were also boards of managers and parents' committees. In regard to Clause 4 schools, if those who spoke for the different denominations whose case that clause was intended to meet, considered that a parents' committee afforded the most convenient way of securing the control and regulation of the religious instruction in those schools, he thought there was not much to be said against it, but personally he had serious doubts whether a parents' committee would be the best body, because it would depend so very much on who the parents happened to be when they were elected 253 In a country school the parents might be the least qualified in a small parish to elect representatives for such a responsible duty as that of dealing with religious instruction. There might be many persons more qualified who were not at that particular moment parents of children in the school. An additional difficulty in regard to Clause 3 schools was that although facilities could be given when a certain number wished for religious instruction of a particular sort, there might be a good many others who desired religious instruction of another sort. Was the parents' committee to represent merely the majority? In that case the religious instruction would not be carried on to the satisfaction of the parents of all the children in the school. It was very difficult to contest the wish of those who asked for a parents' committee in connection with Clause 4 schools, but if they were going to appoint parents' committees for Clause 3 schools, for State-aided schools, and for Clause 5 schools as well, it would give rise to very great difficulty and confusion, and eventually some arrangement would have to be made by which the parents' committee should either form a sub-committee of the managers or in some way be a part of the board of managers.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
recognised that there were considerable difficulties in providing a parents' committee in the case of Clause 3 schools, and he was not quite sure that the noble Viscount had thought out how it would work. There might be a case in which a large majority of the children were of Nonconformist parents, and in which, perhaps, a small minority had obtained Clause 3 facilities. Those facilities would be Church of England facilities, and yet under the Amendment they would be managed by a parents' committee elected by a majority of Nonconformists. He was not sure that the noble Viscount would like his Amendment so much as at first if he looked at it from that point of view.
§ LORD DAVEY
did not know whether noble Lords had any experience of a parents' committee. He had for several years in his village, and he could not say that he ever obtained much assistance from them; they generally agreed with 254 "your Lordship." He looked upon it as a matter for the people who were interested in the giving of religious instruction to settle for themselves.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
The next Amendment is a small one standing in my name for the purpose of making Sub-section (2) of Clause 3 read as follows: "No part of the expense of giving religious instruction of a special character under this section other than expenses involved in making the schoolhouse, so far as necessary, available for the purpose in the same manner as for other school purposes, shall be paid by the local education authority." At an earlier stage of the proceedings I promised to find words which would make it quite clear that the ordinary conduct of the school in the way of lighting, heating, and so on, was included in the charges to be paid by the local authority. Therefore I move to insert the words, "other than expenses involved in making the school-house, so far as necessary, available for the purpose in the same manner as for other school purposes."
In page 3 line 37, after the word "section" to insert the words "other than expenses involved, in making the schoolhouse, so far as necessary, available for the purpose in the game manner as for other school purposes"— (The Earl of Crewe.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE, in moving the substitution of a new sub-section for subsection (3), said it was merely a question of a choice of words. His proposal brought in the element of the owner being satisfied, and the Lord-President of the Council would probably agree that it was a better form of words than that in the Bill and consent to its insertion.
In pages 3 and 4, to leave out sub-section (3) and insert the following new subsection:—'If any question arises under this section between the owners of the schoolhouse and the local education authority, including any question as to the mode in which the facilities should be afforded, that quest ion shall be determined by the Board of Education.'"—(Lord Ashbourne.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said that in moving the insertion of the new clause standing in his name, he would not make another speech, as he had already dealt with the subject.
To insert the following new clause:—(1) If the parents of a reasonable number of children attending any public elementary school require facilities for their children of the same character as those to be afforded under Section 3 of this Act, and, in the opinion of the local education authority, those children cannot conveniently attend some other public elementary school in which facilities for religious instruction of the special character desired by the parents are afforded, the local education authority, without prejudice to any of their powers or duties under Section 3 of this Act, shall, so far as it is in their opinion reasonably practicable to do so, afford those facilities in the school within school hours accordingly. (2) No part of the expense of giving religious instruction of a special character under this section shall be paid by the local education authority."— (The Marquess of Salisbury.)
THE LORD BISHOP OF HEREFORD
, after apologising for intervening at the present state of the debate, said there was a great deal to be said in favour of the Amendment. It left the hands of the local authority quite free, in which respect it compared very favourably with many of the Amendments which their Lordships had inserted. But his experience of schools, both in town and in country, led him to believe that there was much more to be said against the Amendment than for it as a practical working proposal. He was convinced that the administrative difficulties would be very great, and would lead to much confusion. He believed there was a great deal of force in the remarks of the Bishop of Birmingham with regard to the controversy and consequent bitterness which this Amendment, if passed, would introduce into many municipal elections. If for no other reason than that, the House would do well to hesitate before accepting the Amendment. Many of them were utterly weary of the sectarian bitterness which had been in the atmosphere for 256 the last four or five years, and he was afraid that this Amendment would lead to a great deal of that undesirable feeling in many of our large towns, certainly at election times, and possibly at other times also. He opposed the Amendment as well on other grounds. Most of their Lordships would recognise what a feeling would be aroused if the idea got abroad that Church people desired to capture the council schools. That idea had great vogue some years ago, and he feared this Amendment would give it a fresh lease of life. It was easy to argue that there was no such intention, but it was very difficult to persuade people with regard to intentions. He hoped the Amendment would not be accepted.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
I said my say at an earlier hour in the evening on this Amendment, and we took a division which, although technically it only affected the harmless word "that," was really intended to apply to this Amendment. I quite admit, in view of the fact that an Amendment inserted on his Motion was struck out by the operation of the noble Marquess' new clause, the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Hereford had every right to intervene at this stage, but I hope your Lordships will now agree to allow the Question to be put.
§ On Question, "That the proposed new clause be there inserted," resolved in the affirmative.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
, in the absence of Viscount Ridley, moved to insert after the word "application" in Clause 4, the words, "or in case of dispute with the applicants if the Board of Education are satisfied." Their Lordships would remember that in Committee they inserted in sub-section (2) an Amendment very much on the lines of that now proposed. Sub-section (2) dealt with' the case where extended facilities were to be withdrawn, and an appeal was given to the Board of Education, if there was a dispute between the local education authority and the owners as to the propriety of the withdrawal of the permission. At that time it was understood that a similar Amendment would, on Report, be moved in sub-section (1), and the proposal now put forward was to carry out that intention. There were 257 three cases contemplated by the Bill of schools who would be in treaty with the local authority for extended facilities. First, existing schools that were not yet transferred; secondly, transferred schools; and, thirdly, transferred schools which obtained extended facilities but were not satisfied with the extent of those facilities. There was an appeal provided, though perhaps not a very adequate appeal, in the first and third cases, but not in the second case, the case of a transferred school which applied for extended facilities which wore not granted. That was a distinction which could not be defended. It was absolutely essential that there should be some appeal. The Lord President of the Council would probably say that inasmuch as Clause 4 had been made mandatory, no appeal was required. The Opposition did not admit that. No doubt in a case of pure discretion an appeal was even more necessary than in the present case, but there were in Clause 4 many conditions which had to be satisfied, which were more or loss matters of the judgment of the local education authority. That judgment might err, and there ought to be a remedy against the possibility of that error.
In page 4, line 13, after the word 'application,' to insert the words 'or in case of dispute with the applicants if the Commission are satisfied.'"—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
It is quite true, as the noble Marquess has said, that one of my arguments in reference to this Amendment is that by inserting the word "shall" you have made this clause mandatory, and it is clear that where the facilities are demanded the authority is open to a mandamus, if it refuses to give them. But this proposition of the noble Marquess is of rather a different character. All the other appeals are made by the owners, whereas this is made by the parent.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
There is also this possibility to be considered, that an owner might transfer a school on ordinary Clause 3 terms, and get a rent for it. If, however, it is to be turned into a Clause 4 school he will cease to got any rent for 258 it. Therefore you are placing yourself in the possible position of having an owner who is quite content with Clause 3 facilities pulling one way, and a body of parents who want a Clause 4 school pulling another. That seems to mo to suggest a very awkward possibility. I do not know whether the noble Marquess has contemplated it, but it seems to me to be a departure from the principle upon which we have been going, that these matters were the concern of the owner, because the property of the school is transferred.
§ On Question, "That those words be there inserted," resolved in the affirmative.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
said that the Amendment he was about to propose was one upon which he and those with whom he usually acted Laid great stress. Their Lordships would remember that in Committee, on the Motion of Lord Jersey, an Amendment was carried enabling a bare majority instead of a four-fifths majority to decide the future conduct of the schools dealt with in this clause. The acceptance of that Amendment prevented Lord Camperdown from moving an Amendment similar to that he was about to submit to the House, namely, that the majority required before extended facilities were granted should be a two-thirds majority instead of four-fifths. If this Amendment were carried the subsection would read "That as the result of a ballot taken previously to the inquiry as to the wishes of the parents in accordance with this section, it appears that the parents of at least two-thirds of the children attending the school whose parents take part in the ballot desire those facilities." He thought that that was a fair proposal, and struck the happy mean between the four-fifths of the Government Bill and the bare majority of Lord Jersey's Amendment. They on the Opposition side of the House were not inclined to insist on the words of Lord Jersey's Amendment, because they agreed that in these denominational schools there should be a distinct predominance of parents of the children attending the school in favour of a denominational atmosphere. They recognised that, if a bare majority were sufficient, there would be constant fluctuations, and it would be 259 very difficult to decide what was a bare majority. There would be an ebbing and flowing of the tide, at one time above and another time below what might be called the extended facilities high-water mark. Therefore they agreed that the number of parents in favour of the denominational character of the school must be sufficient to be always in a large permanent majority. The Government proposed four-fifths, the Opposition two-thirds. The Opposition held that if the parents of two-thirds of the children wanted extended facilities that fraction was certainly a distinct predominance sufficiently marked to secure to the majority their rights. The fraction of two-thirds was not chosen at haphazard. It was a favourite fraction with trade unions, clubs, and other bodies when some far-reaching decision had to be taken, and he had been informed this evening that such a practical body as the London County Council required two-thirds of its members to be present and vote when a tramway was to be purchased. Noble Lords with whom he acted held that to allow a minority of one-fifth to trample on the consciences of four-fifths was playing fast and loose with the declaration of Mr. Birrell, that—The Government intended, when they caused that clause to be drafted, that it should be a real, and in no sense an illusory clause.Without discussing the clause itself, he felt that unless some Amendment such as this were accepted, the words of Mr. Birrell would not be carried out, and the clause would be nothing less than illusory, he had almost said a sham. How could the Government maintain that it was a real clause when they would deny to the parents of eighty children their right to have their children taught their religion because the parents of twenty other children either objected, or were too lazy or apathetic to say they did not object. They held that two-thirds was sufficiently overwhelming to secure that denominational instruction which was really desired in the school. On the other hand, it did not give a small minority power to wreck the clause. They were anxious to protect the interests of the minority, but not at the expense of the interest of the vast majority. The second part of his Amendment had reference to the fact that in the Bill the parents who did not vote were to be counted as voting against extended facilities. His Amendment 260 simply provided that the majority should be the majority of those who had voted and not the majority of those actually on the register of the school. The novel method of procedure in the Bill would involve the peculiar result that the election would be decided, not by those who took part in the ballot, but by those did not. The Government argued that if the parent was so indifferent to the extended facilities as not to vote that fact ought not to be ignored. But could it be said that it was right that one indifferent parent should be equal to four who were not indifferent? He could not see by what reasoning such a position could be defended. The Government said they were endeavouring to make this clause a real clause, and he thought it might be made a real clause if his Amendments were accepted. But he was bound to say if the clause were allowed to remain in its present shape it would be found to be not only illusory but a sham. On these grounds he begged to move the Amendment standing in his name.
In page 4, lines 16 and 17, to leave out the words 'the majority' and insert the words 'at least two-thirds.' — (The Marquess of Londonderry.)
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
My Lords, I am afraid it is entirely impossible for the Government to accept the Amendment of the noble Marquess. I see that the noble Lord, Earl Jersey, who is responsible for the bare majority proposal, has put down an Amendment to the effect that the majority should be three-fourths, but without the proviso moved by the noble Marquess which confines the majority to those voting. But the noble Earl, for some reason best known to himself, does not proceed with his Amendment, and we have, therefore, to deal with that of the noble Marquess. I have no hesitation in saying that, as this matter stands on the proposition of the noble Marquess, I am not sure that, of the two, it would not be more reasonable to leave the decision to a bare majority. We say that if these schools are to have this particular privilege and atmosphere attaching to them, it must be for the predominance of the denominational character. Whether two-thirds asserts that character, or whether 261 it requires three-fourths, is a matter on which each side has its own opinion. It is no use arguing the matter. "Predominant" is not a technical term, and you cannot say it applies to one more than the other. But we do not consider that a school which has one-third of an entirely different complexion is the kind of school to which we desire these facilities to apply. If the second Amendment is debated, there is nothing to show that the school can hold the children of parents who do not share the denominational view. In a school of 100 children, you may have the parents of seventy not voting at all, and of the remaining thirty, twenty voting for the facilities and ten against. How can it be said that the parents of those twenty children represent the parents of the majority of the children in the school? Greatly as I object to the proposition that the bare majority should have this exceptional power, I should prefer it to the two-thirds proposal, if the proportion is to be of the parents voting. If the noble Marquess' Amendment wore carried it might happen, especially in rural districts, that for some reason or other these schools would obtain facilities, although only a small minority of the parents desired them.
* LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
said the House would have listened, he thought, with some surprise to the speech which the noble Earl had just made. As was frequently the case, this House was now discussing two Amendments at the same time, and it was quite possible that they might wish to accept one and not the other. He would confine himself to the one which had been put from the Chair. He was one of those who voted against the "bare majority" in the Committee, preferring, as he did, the other proportion, but the Amendment to substitute two-thirds for "bare majority" could not be moved, because he was told it was not possible to do it in that way. Notice was at once given that the question would be raised at this stage of the Bill. He thought, therefore, it was not at all unreasonable that this Amendment should be brought to the notice of the House. It seemed to him that it would be going nearer to the wishes of the Government to take a larger proportion, whether it was three-fourths or two-thirds, and had it not been for the 262 speech of the noble Earl he should have suggested that three-fourths was the proper proportion to take. It seemed to him that the Amendment would be reasonable and fair, and it would show a disposition on the part of the House, he would not say altogether to meet the views of the Government, but to have a move adequate proportion. He supported the Amendment of the noble Marquess.
§ THE EARL OF CREWE
It is perfectly clear that though there may be some who would prefer three-fourths to a bare majority, we cannot accept the Amendment.
THE DUKE OF NORFOLK
felt bound to say that he and many others felt that there was the barest element of justice in the Amendment of the noble Marquess on the Front Opposition Bench, but they realised equally with the majority of those voting that it was to a certain extent a fusion of their ideas and that they must accept it. The noble Earl opposite had thrown an entirely false aspect over the matter when he said it was uncertain whether those voting wished for a denominational school. That was the initial injustice of the whole procedure. They were dealing with a school which was a denominational school; built for the children of a particular denomination; supported for years at the cost of great, anxiety and great sacrifice by the denomination; and the children of the denomination were to be driven from it by the parents of a minority of the children of a different denomination which the law had compelled the denomination owning the school to admit into its school. Who would permit such a thing in his club? They were now putting forward a proposition that a minority might insist upon and compel a change in an institution built for one purpose and kept for that purpose for many years. The only thing that could make such a provision tolerable would be the proposition that the people concerned should at least be compelled to vote. It seemed to him that a great revolution was being brought about in the schools. It was the denominational school that was being struck at. The whole character of the schools was to be altered by a minority who did not agree with the denomination 263 for which the schools were built. All he could say was that he and those who agreed with him came with many regrets to the conclusion that they could not but accept the proposition put forward by the noble Marquess and they would be obliged to divide the House upon it if the "two-thirds" proposition could not be accepted. He believed that, that proposition did make it possible for him and those who agreed with him, though with a great strain, to accept this proposition.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
said he entirely concurred with what had fallen from the noble Duke. They thought that here they were holding out an olive branch. With great effort they had brought themselves to agree to a bare majority, and they thought that that was going to be the basis of peace. It was with great disappointment that they had heard the declaration of the noble Earl. They did not intend to press the bare majority. If it was a case of those voting they were prepared to accept the two-thirds majority. Beyond this it was impossible for them to go.
* LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said the House must discuss this question as a whole and not make two bites at a cherry. Clause 4 was to apply to certain schools which were so exceptional in their character that, although they were to be run at the public expense, they were also to have an exclusive and denominational character. He reminded the noble Earl that this would not apply only to schools in populous places, but that it might apply to one single school in a parish. Many Amendments had been placed upon the Paper showing that it was intended to knock out all provision for alternative accommodation, and all he wanted to do before the vote was taken, was to show how illusory this proposition was. Before a school could be taken out of what might be called the common law of schools, it must be shown that a majority of the parents desired it. The fact of people not coming for these facilities showed that they did not desire them. Three-quarters of the people voting would be a very large poll, but two-thirds of that three-fourths would not be a majority of the parents of the children in the school. The noble Mar- 264 quess had pointed out that the rules of the county council required when a tramway was to be purchased that two-thirds of the council must be present and vote. But a majority of two-thirds of two-thirds would be less than a majority, because it would only be four-ninths of the whole. At these polls no one would expect to get a larger number of parents than used to vote at contested school board elections in the past. At contested school board elections as a rule less than half the people entitled went to the poll. It was far better, from his point of view, that there should be a bare majority of the whole than a majority of two-thirds of a flexible number which would be far less than a majority of the whole.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
said that as he had attempted to move this Amendment he might perhaps be allowed to say that he quite agreed with the noble Duke and Lord Stanley that these two Amendments must be taken together. It was suggested by the noble Marquess that the majority should be two-thirds of those who voted. Although he himself was quite prepared to vote for a two-thirds majority, he certainly was not prepared to vote for a two-thirds majority of those who voted. It might happen that only a very small number voted, and then the majority of two-thirds of those who voted would not represent the desires of the parents. Two-thirds of a bare majority appeared to him to be quite an insufficient majority. He did not care whether it was a two-thirds or a three-quarters majority, but it must be of the whole and not of those who voted.
§ LORD DAVEY
said the case was even stronger than his noble friend had put it. It was not two-thirds of the parents, but the parents of two-thirds of the children. Their Lordships were aware that some parents had two children, some three, some four, and it was quite conceivable that in the school two - thirds of the children might be the children of a minority of the parents. It could hardly be suggested that a minority of the parents ought to determine the character of the school. The same objection applied to the original proposal of the Government. He did not think this proposal was satisfactory. He quite agreed that under the original 265 proposal of the Bill it was to be the parents of four-fifths of the children, and this Amendment suggested the parents of two-thirds of the children, but the clause must be looked at as it was proposed to be left. When it was found that it was not to be two-thirds of the parents of the children, but the parents of two-thirds of the children, counting only those parents who voted, he left the matter to a better arithmetician than himself to determine what the result would be.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I quite agree that the size of the fraction is not a matter of great importance, as between two-thirds and three-fourths, it is a question of degree. I prefer two-thirds, and I shall vote for that fraction. But on the other question as to whether it should be two-thirds of those who vote or of the total number of the parents, I am bound to say that, with every desire to understand the arguments by which it is suggested that it should be two-thirds of the total number, I am quite unable to put myself in the mental position of the noble Lords who put that solution to us. What is the case which the Lord President of the Council put just now? The noble Lord said you might have 100 parents of whom seventy were too lazy to vote, and the decision, therefore, would remain with the thirty. The noble Lord thought that was a ridiculous result and one which could not be contemplated. But after
§ all, what is the issue which these people have to determine? The suggestion is that a condition of things which has existed for a long time, encouraged by private benefactors, and recognised by the Government, is to be suddenly and Completely changed. Is it not fair in that case to conclude that if a large number of the parents abstain from voting, their abstention may be regarded as an indication that they are on the whole content with things as they are? I can conceive their being counted as opponents to the change and I can conceive their being counted as neutral, but I cannot conceive how they can be counted as advocates of the change., Therefore, although I regret to find myself differing from the Earl of Camper-down, with whom I generally agree, I am bound to say that in my opinion the balance of the argument is in favour of those who vote, and I shall record my vote in that way.
§ On Question, "That the words 'the majority' stand part of the Bill," resolved in the negative.
§ Words proposed inserted.
In page 4, line 17, after the word 'school' to insert the words 'whose parents take part in the ballot.'"—(The Marquess of Londonderry.)
§ On Question, "That those words be there inserted," their Lordships divided: —Contents, 97; Not-Contents, 47.267
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensbury.)||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)|
|Devonshire, D.||Waldegrave, E. [Teller.]|
|Grafton, D.||Eldon, E.||Wharncliffe, E.|
|Newcastle, D.||Feversham, E.|
|Richmond and Gordon, D.||Fortescue, E.||Bridport, V.|
|Wellington, D.||Gainsborough, E.||Cobham, V.|
|Haddington, E.||Falkland, V.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Halsbury, E.||Goschen, V.|
|Bath, M.||Harewood, E.||Halifax, V.|
|Bristol, M.||Kilmorey, E.||Iveagh, V.|
|Camden, M.||Lauderdale, E.||Llandaff, V.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Salisbury, M.||Mar and Kellie, E.||Birmingham, L. Bp.|
|Winchester, M.||Morley, E.||Bristol, L. Bp.|
|Morton, E.||Chester, L. Bp.|
|Abingdon, E.||Mount Edgcumbe, E.||London, L. Bp.|
|Ashburnham, E.||Nelson, E.||Norwich, L. Bp.|
|Brownlow, E.||Onslow, E.||Oxford, L. Bp.|
|Cairns, E.||Plymouth, E.||Peterborough, L. Bp.|
|Cathcart, E.||Powis, E.||St. Albans, L. Bp.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Saint Germains, E.||Salisbury, L. Bp.|
|Denbigh, E.||Shaftesbury, E.||Southwark, L. Bp.|
|Devon, E.||Stamford, 13.|
|Addington, L.||Digby, L.||Ludlow, L.|
|Ardilaun, L.||Dunboyne, L.||Newton, L.|
|Balfour, L.||Ebury, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Barrymore, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Rathmore, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)||Seaton, L.|
|Belper, L.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)||Stanmore, L.|
|Blythswood, L.||Glenesk, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Braye, L.||Harris, L.|
|Burton, L.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)||Ventry, L.|
|Cheylesmore, L.||Kintore, E. (E. Kintore.)||Wolverton, L.|
|Colchester, L.||Lawrence, L. [Teller.]||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|de Ros, L.||Leith of Pyvie, L.|
|Crewe, E. (L. President.)||Courtney of Penwith, L.||Monson, L.|
|Ripon, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Davey, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Denman, L. [Teller.]||Pirrie, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)||Reay, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Rendel, L.|
|Carlisle, E.||Eversley, L.||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Carrington, E.||Fitzmaurice, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Glantawe, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.) [Teller.]||Sandhurst, L.|
|Northbrook, E.||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Grimthorpe, L.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Haversham, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Althorp, V. (L. Chamberlain.)||Headley, L.||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Joicey, L.||Wandsworth, L.|
|Brassey, L||Kinnaird, L.||Weardale, L.|
|Burghclere, L.||Lyveden, L.||Welby, L.|
|Clinton, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Colebrooke, L.||Monkswell, L.|
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Twelve o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Eleven o'clock.