§ *LORD BARNARD rose to call attention to the policy of the Board of Education with regard to the allocation of the £100,000 voted by Parliament last session for building new schools, and with regard to other matters connected with recent educational administration; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I trust your Lordships will not think I am trespassing unduly upon your time by asking you to consider this afternoon some very important questions affecting the Board of Education. As your Lordships will have observed from the Notice Paper, I desire particularly to draw the attention of the House to a sum of £100,000 which was appropriated last year for the purpose of grants for building schools.
The circumstances of the allocation of that money were discussed on several occasions, both in the other House of Parliament and in your Lordships' House. I do not know how other Members of this House may look at the question, but I confess that, in spite of the elaborate arguments which were made use of by those who defended the arrangement, I for one am at the present moment no more convinced of the propriety of such a proceeding than I was when the subject was first brought forward. Whether that be so or not, it is not necessary now to go into the Constitutional question; but I think it is very desirable that this House and the country at large should take stock of the position, if I may so put it, having regard to the possible adoption of a similar proceeding in the course of the financial year which will very shortly begin, I am led to entertain that idea by the words in the Regulations issued by the Board of Education. Regulation No. 8 concludes as follows—
No grant will be paid under these Regulations after 31st March, 1908, unless a similar grant
is sanctioned by Parliament in respect of the financial year ending 31st March, 1009.
That appears to contemplate a renewal of this grant. I also saw reported in the Press a statement made by the Chairman of the Finance Committee of one of the Welsh County Councils—I think it was Glamorganshire—that they had better not apply for grants for too many schools in this year, but limit their demands to a certain number with a view to renewing the applications in respect of other Schools in following years. I think, therefore, we may take it for granted that there is, at any rate, very considerable probability of some proposal of this kind being again brought before Parliament in the coming financial year. I ask, therefore, that His Majesty's Government should produce papers showing in full detail the principles upon which the present grant has been expended and the schools to which it has been allocated. I ask this because the proceedings in Parliament last year partook of a somewhat mysterious nature. We never could ascertain definitely what the object of this grant was; all that could be ascertained was that the grant was intended to meet certain cases of tyranny—some such word as that was used by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Education—in certain single school areas by enabling a council school to be set up where a certain number of parents either had, or pretended they had, a religious grievance
I should like, if I may digress for a moment, to refer to the religious grievance. I admit, and I think all your Lordships will admit, that the question of single school areas does present difficulties, but many advocates of Church schools as well as opponents have expressed their willingness to consider, and, if possible, devise, some means by which those difficulties may be removed. The difficulty is, I understand, that parents object to their children receiving religious instruction of a certain character. I need hardly remark that in almost all cases that I have heard of it is the Nonconformist who objects to his child receiving Church instruction. I argue, as has been argued again and again, that the law has provided a 1007 remedy for that in the Conscience Clause. I know the answer that is always given to that argument. It it is this—Can you expect a poor child to have the stigma attached to it of not doing the same as the other children in the school? There might be something in that in some cases, but in the cases for which I gather this grant was intended the circumstances are entirely different. If, as we are led to believe, Nonconformity is in the majority in most districts in Wales, and if the majority of the children in the school take advantage of the Conscience Clause, the stigma, if any, will be on the child that remains for religious instruction. Therefore in cases where the parents of the majority of the children desire that their children should he withdrawn, no stigma can attach. If, however, they are in a small minority, I think I may fairly use the argument which has been put forward on recent occasions by His Majesty's Government to the effect that "minorities must suffer," not that I suggest that such an argument as that is defensible, but at the same time the difficulty that has to be met. If, however, the political Party now in power are determined that no one should suffer for conscience sake, I trust they will see fit to recognise that amongst their opponents there is equally strong conscientious belief, and will do their utmost, in any legislation they bring forward for the reorganisation, particularly of elementary education, to respect the consciences of those who are opposed to them equally with those of their supporters.
Pardon me if for one moment I ask your attention to the history of this matter. Prior to the Act of 1870, there was, as your Lordships know, no organised State-administered system of elementary education in this country. At the same time it had for many years been recognised that education was, in the interest of the State, most desirable, and consequently Governments were in the habit, prior to 1870, of giving grants to encourage and stimulate the erection of elementary schools in localities where they did not exist but where there was a tendency to provide them. After the Act of 1870 it was obvious that no more grants could be given to particular localities, because if 1008 that were done it would be assisting one locality at the expense of the taxpayers at large, whilst another locality would not have similar assistance, and would, therefore, be at a disadvantage. I think that history of the case, though it was brought out very fairly in the course of the discussion in the House of Commons, is not sufficiently recognised by those who consider this question.
Now I come to the present day. The theory that it is not desirable to give public money to one school area in preference to another has held good since 1870. It has only been broken through by the present Minister for Education, and broken through for the reasons I have already stated. The Education Acts provide very elaborate guarantees and safeguards to protect the ratepayers from any undue waste of their money by the erection of unnecessary schools; and, although the Regulations to which I have already referred provide that any building grants made under this Appropriation Act shall be governed by Sections 8 and 9 of the Education Act, 1902, the information at my disposal goes to show that the safeguards contained in that Act in regard to petitions from parents and ratepayers are not paid very much attention to, for there is considerable complaint in many parishes in Wales that petitions have received no consideration whatever. There has been complaint on the part of some of the managers of Church schools in Wales that officials of the local education authorities have been to London and have had private interviews with the Minister for Education. Personally I cannot see that there is any great harm in that, provided that the same facilities are afforded to those who hold opposite views and that the Minister holds the balance fair between both opposing factions.
I do not know whether your Lordships will agree with the conclusion at which I have arrived, but it seems to me that this grant of £100,000 is nothing more nor less than placing at the disposal of a Party political leader a sum of public money to be used by him at his absolute discretion for purely Party political purposes. If that view is right, or anything approaching right, it 1009 means that in the present day of enlightened thought on matters of public policy there is a grievous return to the corrupt and unpatriotic system of former times. The object is quite obviously to avoid by indirect means the innumerable restrictions contained in Acts of Parliament, which would have prevented the Minister for Education from granting these sums. He evidently recognised that there was no possibility of getting round the Acts, and he therefore resorted to this extremely ingenious expedient. I cannot refrain from expressing my admiration—though at the same time my condemnation—of the ingenuity of the scheme which has been devised. The way in which the grant is allocated is one of the things nobody has ever been able to find out. It would be of very great interest, and perhaps the noble Earl, in the course of his reply, may be able to give us the information, to know if any applications have been received from any other part of England and Wales except the Principality and Monmouthshire for grants out of this fund; and still more interesting would it be to know if any applications have been received from Church parents where they have only a board school education provided by the State for their children.
However that may be, there is one point to which I am going to refer with some diffidence, because I have not been able to satisfy myself as to the exact position. I refer to the question of the provisions of Section 18, Sub-section (1), Paragraph (c), of the Act of 1902. Mr. McKenna, in an answer he gave in another place, said that, in making any grants for the purpose of new schools out of this particular grant, that section would be complied with. I would ask your Lordships to allow me to quote that section. It provides that—
The local education authority shall charge such portion as they think fit, not being less than one-half or more than three-fourths, of any expenses for a new school on the locality.
The regulations show that the local education authority is the party to apply for the grant, not the parish desiring the school. I presume that a grant of, say, £5,000 for a school would go into the county fund. If that is so I cannot understand how, as has been argued, the locality is
going to be relieved of any expenditure at all. Say a comity has resolved that one-fourth of the expense of a new school should be charged to the county, and three-fourths to the parish; if the one-fourth come out of the county fund, which has had the subvention of £5,000, three-fourths still remain to be charged on the parish. We want more enlightenment as to whether these grants do go into the comity fund, or whether they are earmarked for any particular schools. Without such information as that it is impossible to judge of the fairness or the justice with which the grants are allocated.
I have in my hand the names of a large number of cases of schools in Wales in which more or less of a grievance is felt in consequence of the proceedings which have been taken with regard to this grant. Whether this feeling is always justified it is impossible to say, probably in some cases it is not, but it is a hardship that these parishes should not know the circumstances more fully. One of the clearer cases is at a place in the county of Denbigh, where there is to be a school for 500 children; the Government grant is something over £2,000, and in addition £1,900 has to be provided from the rates. So although this grant is only to be made to meet cases of special tyranny, your Lordships will see that the ratepayers who are satisfied with the existing school are also to be asked to pay for the school which is to remove the special tyranny. As the existing schools are very much overcrowded, new schools would in any case be necessary. If so, the very thing is being done which the Act of 1870, and which Mr. McKenna in another place, said should not be done, namely, to supply the deficiency of school accommodation out of this special grant. In these cases the ratepayers have sent up petitions and are very much aggrieved because they hear nothing as to what happens to those petitions. They naturally imagine that they are ignored and that the question is decided without any consideration whatever of their representations in opposition. They are aware that Sections 8 and 9 of the Act of 1902 provide that, if necessary, local inquiries must be held; all they know is that no local inquiry is held, and that their 1011 representations, so far as they can see, receive no consideration. As a rule these ratepayers represent a large majority. In four or five or these cases in Denbighshire there have been very serious differences for some time past between the managers and the local education authority, and in one case a Mr. Davies, a solicitor, who took a very active part against the Church people——
§ *THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (The Earl of CREWE)
Which parish is the noble Lord referring to?
§ *LORD BARNARD
To the parish of Bylchau. All the letters which this parish now receives from the Board of Education are signed by this very gentleman. Naturally some soreness has arisen, because it is felt that it is possible that Mr. Davies, who was formerly a party to these disputes, is now the judge in regard to them. I merely refer to that as one of those administrative points which I think are worthy of the consideration of the Board of Education. I will take another case. In the county of Flint, in July, the local education authority gave notice to provide additional school accommodation on the ground of overcrowding. The notices were published, when suddenly they were withdrawn, the whole procedure altered, and a grant made, as far as is known, out of this £100,000. That looks like another case of going round the provisions of the Act of 1870. In another Flintshire parish there were two schools, one an undenominational school. In May, 1906, the local education authority decided to build a new school to take the place of the undenominational one, but, in spite of that, a grant of £1,000 has been made. Moreover, the original estimate for that school was only £940; therefore they are going to give them, apparently, more money than is actually required.
I will not weary your Lordships by going through any more of these cases. Let me refer to another point to which I wish to call attention—the frequency with which of late the Department has suddenly and unexpectedly and for no reason that can be seen, altered its decision. My noble friend Lord Dartmouth 1012 brought one case of this description—the case of Royston School in the West Riding of Yorkshire—to the attention of your Lordships last summer, where up to a certain point it was quite obvious that the Board of Education were opposed to the views taken by the local education authority, but suddenly and unexpectedly an entire change took place, it being imagined that the local education authority brought influence to bear on the Minister for Education. There was another exactly similar case in a district in Halifax; but the most notorious case of all is the case of Swansea, a case which has occupied the attention for a long time past of all those interested in elementary education. I do not propose to ask your Lordships to consider the facts of that case at present, but it is another instance of the Board of Education suddenly and unexpectedly altering its decision.
A more recent case is that of another West Riding school, at Garforth, which has also become a notorious case. The Board of Education wrote in April, 1907, stating that they saw no adequate reason for doing what the local education authority suggested in face of the opposition of the managers. Further correspondence took place, and in June the Board wrote again that they were not prepared to alter their decision; but four weeks after that came a further letter in which the Board stated that they had reconsidered the case and reversed their decision. The learned Judge who tried that case could not help remarking upon this very extraordinary change, and he drew attention to the fact that the first two decisions were obviously those of the permanent officials and the last that of the President of the Board overruling them. I speak on a matter of this kind with some personal feeling. For ten years I was myself engaged in a Government Department and during part of that time I was private secretary to the chief. Consequently I was brought into contact with the officials of a great number of other Departments, and I am prepared to say that the Civil servants of the Crown can be excelled by no body of men in this country for their devotion to duty and for the impartiality with which they carry out their work. I have never heard of a case in which a 1013 permanent Civil servant of the Crown was accused of having improperly taken sides for political or other reasons; and if their reputation and character are to be maintained, the present practice which appears to have crept in at the Board of Education ought to be checked at all hazards. Its continuance will be most disastrous from the public point of view. Before I leave the Garforth case there is one other matter to which I should like to allude. The learned Judge who tried that case said that neither the Board of Education nor the local education authority are entitled to say that because they do not like the law as it stands they will give directions which will frustrate the objects of the law. That is a principle to which, I hope, we shall all adhere. The Judge doubted if a Court of Law could interfere, but he added that if the Board of Education were prepared to disregard the law the responsibility would rest upon them.
Then there is the administration of the Charitable Trusts Acts. What are known as charitable endowments have always been peculiarly favoured by law. The Court of Chancery has always taken them under its jurisdiction and assisted them in every conceivable way. But owing to the fact that an enormous number of these charities are of very small annual value, it became obvious many years ago that proceedings in Chancery were costly and likely to eat up the income of a charitiy for many years to come. Lord Brougham, about a century ago, was so convinced of the necessity of reorganising charitable trusts and preserving them for the benefit of the public that he secured the appointment of a Commission, the final outcome of whose labours was the Charitable Trusts Act of 1853. That Act conferred upon the body of Commissioners appointed under it very considerable powers of administration, but not the power of removing trustees and certainly not of making schemes. But they were authorised to inquire into charities and to give certificates enabling trustees to go to the Court in various cases. That body was to consist under the Act of four Commissioners, two of them to be barristers of twelve years' standing, the object, of course, being to 1014 ensure that the Commissioners should be conversant with the law. The third need not have been a barrister. They held office during good behaviour. The fourth was a sort of Parliamentary Commissioner, and he was the only representative the Commissioners had in Parliament, and he held office during His Majesty's pleasure. He did not attend at the office regularly, the other three to all intents and purposes constituting the Board. Two of the first three Commissioners were eminent Chancery practising barristers. Those provisions remained in force until the time when the powers under the Charitable Trusts Acts were conferred upon the Board of Education.
The President of the Board of Education is now called upon to exercise powers which, until recently, were exercised by a body consisting principally of expert lawyers, and which, up to half a century ago, had only been exercised by the Court of Equity. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have made himself familiar with those facts and would have considered himself bound to continue to act in accordance with the doctrines of Courts of Equity, but there are cases which show that he is not bound by anything of the kind. I have in my hand an extraordinary case in connection with which, as far as I can judge from the official correspondence, the only motive that he appears to have had in his mind was one of political expediency. There is a small charity at Narberth in the county of Pembroke. It was founded as recently as 1832 by a Mr. Devonald, and the trustees, finding it necessary to alter the trust, applied to the Board. A new scheme was prepared, and, in sending it down, the Board expressed the opinion that they had no option but to maintain it as a denominational charity. So that two years ago the Board of Education, as advised, were quite sure as to its being a Church charity. I imagine that representations were privately made to the Board of Education, with the result that, in November last, an astounding letter was received by the trustees intimating that the Board had had this matter "under careful consideration in connection with objections they had received under the Charitable Trusts Act and with 1015 certain matters of general principle by which the case is affected," and that "they are not now prepared to establish the scheme." The letter did not vouchsafe to say what these matters of general principle were, and it would be very interesting to know what the circumstances were that led to the change of view on the part of the Board of Education.
I desire to say just one word on the subject of training colleges. The President of the Board has informed those connected with training colleges, in reply to their statements that they were absolutely debarred by their trusts from carrying out his scheme, that he has power under the Charitable Trusts Act to alter their trusts, and that they have only to come to him and he will alter their trusts in any way. I venture to say, without fear of contradiction, that the right hon. Gentleman has no powers of that kind whatever. The right hon. Gentleman has only those powers, conferred upon him in succession to the Charity Commissioners, which were formerly exercised by the Court of Chancery, and those powers are governed by the doctrine of cy-pres. I trust that the Government will either give a full and clear statement with regard to the £100,000, or agree to my Motion to lay Papers on the Table of the House.
§ Moved, "That there be laid before the House, Papers with regard to the allocation of the £100,000, voted by Parliament last session for building new schools, and with regard to other matters connected with recent educational administration."—(The Lord Barnard).
THE LORD BISHOP OF ST. DAVID'S
My Lords, I must first of all thank the noble Lord for drawing attention to the case of the charity in the County of Pembroke. I understand that the Board of Education were acting in that case in a judicial capacity, and it seems to me very astonishing how Mr. Birrell could give one judicial decision on a matter of principle one year, and Mr. McKenna could give a totally opposite decision the following year. I hope the noble Earl the Lord President 1016 of the Council, when he replies, will bear in mind that the particular point in that case is that the Board of Education under Mr. Birrell and the Board under Mr. McKenna took a different view as to the denominational character of this charity.
I pass on to the case of the Oxford-street Church School, Swansea. I have ventured to give the noble Earl who so ably represents the Board of Education in your Lordships' House, private notice of my intention to call attention to the inaccuracy of certain statements concerning this school which were made by the Minister for Education in another place last month. The four foundation managers of this Swansea school, who did their utmost to endeavour to obtain a friendly understanding with the local education authority, are gentlemen of high character and good social position; two of them have brothers who are Members of your Lordships' House, and two of them are leading solicitors in Swansea. The school is especially fortunate in having as its correspondent a gentleman of ability, who has shown by great sacrifices the sincerity of his devotion to high ideals of education.
The managers were very much surprised at the statements made concerning their school by Mr. McKenna in the House of Commons last month, and when they wrote to the right hon. Gentleman pointing out his errors as to the facts he failed to withdraw them. The managers accordingly felt that, in the very unusual circumstances of the case, they had no alternative but to print the correspondence and circulate it to the Members of both Houses of Parliament. I shall endeavour to prove two points—first, that the President of the Board of Education failed to inform himself accurately about the affairs of his own Department before speaking in another place; and, secondly, that when those who had reason to complain of his errors wrote to him to point them out he failed to withdraw them.
Happily there is general agreement about the importance of impartial administration. The noble Lord opposite quoted the learned Judge who tried the 1017 Garforth case, and made certain remarks which are very rarely heard in this country from the Bench concerning a Government Department. I am going to quote another authority. On the morning after the Minister for Education made his statement in another place, the London Daily News, the official organ of Liberal opinion, said—Whatever the views of a Liberal Minister may be regarding the wisdom of according facilities for denominational teaching at the expense of the State, his duty is to administer the law as it stands, to hold the balance even and to repress intolerance if it makes its appearance in local authorities. It would be an evil day for Liberalism in this country if it were to descend to petty administratvie persecution against religious teaching.The Daily News proceeded to say that any suggestion of this kind had been explained away by the satisfactory speech of Mr. McKenna. Let us see how far that speech was satisfactory. I concur in the just tribute which Lord Barnard paid to the distinguished impartiality of the permanent Civil servants of the Crown. We in Wales, in the matter of education, stand in a somewhat peculiar position. As one interested in Welsh education I am indebted to the President of the Board for having set up the Welsh Department, inasmuch as it has given Wales the advantage of the brilliant abilities and noble educational ideals possessed by the Chief Inspector, Mr. Owen Edwards. But the appointment of Mr. Davies, the gentleman referred to by Lord Barnard, as Secretary of the Welsh Department was received on all hands in Wales with amazement. Whatever merits Mr. Davies may possess, he has had only a few months' experience of the noble traditions and the trained discipline of the Civil Service.
The Swansea case is not really complicated. It resolves itself into two questions—the remodelling of the school buildings and the teachers' salaries. The substance of the former issue is what accommodation the school when remodelled is to have. The noble Lord described the policy of the Board of Education as extremely ingenious. The local education authority of Swansea may lay some claim to this distinction; 1018 but, like many extremely ingenious persons, it has been too clever by half. Their policy has been to make the managers burn their candles at both ends. They have insisted on a higher standard in relation to buildings and a lower standard in relation to salaries. When Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. Lyttelton charged Mr. McKenna in another place with having departed in this case from the established conditions of fair administration, Mr. McKenna's line of defence was broadly this, that he had adhered exactly to the administrative principles of his predecessors.
But what are the facts? The appointed day in Swansea was the last day of September, 1904. Six months after that date the managers submitted to the Board of Education plans drawn up by a well-known London architect for the remodelling of the school buildings at a cost of £6,000. After modification in response to the requirements of the Board of Education, the plans were provisionally approved, but the managers were instructed to re-submit them to the Board for final approval in the usual way through the local education authority. My first point is that the Board presided over by the noble Marquess opposite passed the plans in regard to the accommodation. The following January the matter came before Mr. Birrell, and his Board wrote to the local education authority enclosing a report from the Board's architect passing the plans in regard to accommodation as they stood. The managers heard no more for a year; and at last, after the plans had been travelling to and fro between the Swansea authority and the Board of Education for two years, the managers began to grow weary of this extraordinary delay, and in the spring of last year they appealed to Mr. McKenna for final approval of the plans, which, by the way, had been already twice practically and once definitely approved by the Board.
Mr. McKenna took two days to make up his mind, and replied in a short note to the effect that the accommodation of the school would have to be so cut down that it would be reduced to a second-rate school. The managers protested; but the Board of Education 1019 said they must adhere to their decision—though that decision had never before been given—to require a space of twenty square feet per child playground. That was the first word the managers had heard about the playground. These plans had been definitely passed by the Board of the noble Marquess and Sir William Anson, and also by the Board of Mr. Birrell; yet not one syllable had been uttered about the playground accommodation until Mr. McKenna, in May last year, sprung this drastic demand suddenly upon the managers. It so happened that generous friends of the school beyond any expectation which the managers could reasonably have entertained, were so stirred by Mr. McKenna's action that they found £2,800 to enlarge the playground. I deny that Mr. McKenna's action on this question was in exact continuance of the action of Sir William Anson and Mr. Birrell. I am not arguing that Mr. McKenna may not have been right. Mr. McKenna may have acted rightly, but whether his action was right or wrong the right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to say that his action accorded with that of his predecessor in office.
I pass to the subject of salaries, which is also a very important question to the Swansea schools. The Minister for Education was even more emphatic as to his loyalty to the administrative principles of his predecessor in regard to the question of the payment of equal salaries in council and voluntary schools. His words were—Here again I have only done exactly what my predecessor did. There has been no change in the practice of the Board of Education.That is a very broad affirmation to make. The facts are these. It so happens that the appeal on the question of salaries was only sent up to the Board of Education a fortnight before the Unionist Government left office. The reason for that was that the managers, to my great satisfaction, thought they ought to give all reasonable time to the local education authority to look at the matter all round; and when they began to despair of fair handling they took the line of informing the Board of Education what was going on, without appealing to them, I think 1020 Staffing was the chief question in that year, but salaries came before the Board by way of a formal appeal as far back as 24th November, 1905, and the matter has been there till now. Though Sir William Anson did not deal with this question in Swansea, the general administrative principle upon which the Board at that time acted is laid down very clearly in an answer given in another place in July, 1903, in respect of the question whether the action of the local education authority in refusing rate aid to the voluntary schools was legal or not. It was then declared by the Board that—It is the duty of every county council to maintain and keep efficient all public elementary schools within its area; the rate and the Government grant together constitute the fund at the disposal of the local authority for the purpose. The standard of efficiency in both classes of schools must be alike, unless special educational reasons can be shown for the distinction.May I paraphrase that answer? It says; I think, two things—that the question of salaries is a question of efficiency, and that there must not be two standards of efficiency but one. Observe the words: "Unless special educational reasons can be shown." It may be asked: May not this case come under that head? A good authority on that subject is the town council of Swansea, who act as the local education authority. The town Council of Swansea were asked by the Board of Education on the 18th of last month what they had to say to the charge brought against them by the managers that they were failing to keep the school efficient, and last week a very interesting discussion took place on the subject. A resolution was proposed, as to which I shall not trouble your Lordships, but an amendment in the following terms was declared carried by the mayor—That the Board of Education be informed that the explanation of the Swansea local education authority differentiating between the teachers of the pro ided and the non-provided schools is that the majority of the members being out of sympathy with the voluntary schools desire to make the maintenance of the latter as difficult as possible.Therefore it cannot be attempted to be argued that there were any special educational reasons at Swansea for differentiation, neither is Mr. McKenna 1021 entitled to say that he has acted exactly as the noble Marquess opposite or Sir William Anson acted.
The question of salaries also came before Mr. Birrell, who was Mr. McKenna's immediate predecessor in office, and was, moreover, a Liberal Minister. The teachers in Swansea declined absolutely to sign any agreement in respect of any salaries below the scale in force in the Swansea Council Schools. When the Board of Education pressed the managers in July, 1906, to draw up an agreement with their teachers, the managers did so, and the agreements were signed by the teachers. In those agreements an exact sum corresponding to the scale in force in the Swansea Council Schools for that grade of teacher was entered, and the managers sent the agreements thus signed to the Board of Education and asked what they were to do. The local education authority had declined from the beginning to fix the teachers' salaries on the council scale. Mr. Birrell replied enclosing a letter he had addresed to the local education authority. The letter was couched in that picturesque style of which Mr. Birrell is so great a master and it was also most straightforward Mr. Birrell said—
The Board of Education are not aware of any circumstances which would justify a differentiation in the salaries paid to teachers in council and voluntary schools. They feel that the present uncertainty is unjust to the teachers and gravely imperils the efficiency of the school. They trust, therefore, to hear at an early date that the local authority will give their assent to the agreements prepared.
§ That is perfectly clear English; it is a perfectly clear decision of the Board of Education that there must not be two standards of efficiency.
§ I now come to the present Minister for Education. I think three times, certainly twice, the managers sent the names of the teachers and the amounts of the salaries to the Board of Education. Yet it was said in another place that no applications from the teachers had been received. I cannot make out how that statement came to be made. Not only was a Memorandum and all particulars forwarded to the Board, but a letter 1022 was sent by each of the teachers in this school. I do not know what further formality the Board of Education expect. In April of last year the Swansea authority raised the scale of salaries of the teachers in the council schools. Therefore, nobody can say that the scale previously paid was excessive. But, when the managers wrote asking what salaries they proposed putting into the teachers' agreements, the local education authority replied that they were prepared to consent to pay the salaries the teachers had been receiving before. These salaries the teachers absolutely declined to accept. The National Union of Teachers is a very patient body, but this was too much even for them. They called the teachers out and black-listed the school, and the managers were face to face with the alternative of the ruin of the school or of meeting the reasonable and just demands of the teachers.
§ The managers decided themselves to enter into agreements with the teachers and to undertake to pay them the scale of salaries in force in the council schools in the area. Your Lordships know that the view of the Board of Education is that if the managers of a non-provided school pay the teachers' salaries necessary to maintain the school efficient, or part of the salaries, then the question comes within the purview of the Default Act. I was amazed to read the statement subsequently made by the Minister for Education, in which he said: "They do not do it." When pressed on this question in the House of Commons it was very difficult to get an answer from the right hon. Gentleman. At last he gave an answer which was by no means satisfactory. He said that: "In some cases they were paid." I thought it my duty to write to The Times and correct that statement. As a matter of fact, in all cases the teachers in this Church school are paid to the penny. The whole facts reflect severely upon the administration of the Minister for Education and upon the intelligence side of the Welsh Department. If an atmosphere of goodwill is to be created, the Government will have to see to it that the Minister for Education does his duty, which is to administer the law as it stands.1023
§ THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH
My Lords, as reference has been made by Lord Barnard in his very interesting speech to the case of the Royston school, and as I had the privilege of introducing that question in your Lordships' House last year, I should like to say a word or two on the present occasion. In the first place, I would remind your Lordships of the position with regard to the Royston school as raised in the debate last year. In August, 1906, the headmastership of this school became vacant. There were some sixty-seven candidates; three were selected, and finally Mr. Milnes was elected. The local education authority, the West Biding County Council, refused to confirm the appointment of Mr. Milnes, and in that refusal the Board of Education concurred. The debate that took place in your Lordships' House last year brought one or two matters to light, which, I think, are worth referring to on the present occasion.
In that debate we elicited that, in the opinion of the Board of Education, where a difference occurred between the local education authority and the managers, the sole duty of the Board of Education was to settle whether the refusal had been based on educational grounds or not, and that, having so satisfied themselves, it was not necessary for them to inquire as to whether the reasons alleged were adequate. It would be very easy to prove that in this particular case the local education authority claimed full discretion in the appointment of the teachers. The chairman of the Education Committee of the West Biding, in a letter to the Yorkshire Post, definitely stated that he had heard no single word from any member of the education committee to the effect that Mr. Milnes was unfit for the post, and that his competence had not been questioned. Therefore the refusal on the part of the local education authority to confirm the appointment of this candidate was, by their own showing, not an educational one.
In another place the Minister for Education rather complicated matters by his answer. He said that, in the interests of the teacher, it was undesir- 1024 able to state publicly the precise educational reasons on which the local education authority founded their decision that Mr. Milnes was unsuited for the post. What has subsequently taken place has proved conclusively that the publicity to be avoided was not in the interests of the teacher, but in the interests of the Board of Education. Now what was the test of educational fitness? I maintain that the examiners on this occasion were not expert examiners. The examination, which took place actually in the presence of the children, lasted a quarter of an hour. The visit was a surprise one. I believe my noble friend opposite holds the view that the examiners were competent, and that the examination took at least three-quarters of an hour. I do not care myself whether it took ten minutes or ten hours. I maintain that an examination of that kind and held under those conditions is not sufficient to blast the career of a struggling teacher.
Whether or not it is the duty of the Board to inquire into the adequacy of the reasons given, I would point out that it is admitted that the Board did make an inquiry as to the fitness of the candidate and received an excellent report. I should like to be informed why, if it is not their duty to inquire into the adequacy of the reasons given, it was necessary to send down an inspector to make inquiry. I am sure it will give satisfaction to your Lordships to know that, in consequence of the debate that was raised last year in this House, Mr. Milnes has been appointed to a larger school, in which he has to deal with a larger staff and more children. The appointment, moreover, carries with it a higher salary than he would have received at the Royston school. The Board of Education satisfied themselves that Mr. Milnes was fully competent on educational grounds, but apparently yielded to the pressure of the local education authority. By so doing they gave the local education authority complete control over the election.
We have been told that the refusal of the authority appeared to be based on educational grounds. If it can only be said that the refusal "appeared" to be 1025 based on educational grounds, I do not think it carries them very far. Last year I asked for Papers, but the really important Paper—the Report of the Inspector of the Board of Education—was not given. It has been stated that it is the practice to refrain from publishing such Reports, and that, if whenever any person considers himself aggrieved, a debate could be raised in Parliament, with full publication of Papers following, Reports would be framed with a view to that contingency. I should have thought Parliament the proper place to raise the question when a person considers himself aggrieved. If the Report in question had been published in full, I believe it would have shown that in the first case the objection to Mr. Milnes's appointment was entirely political, Mr. Milnes being a Conservative and a good Churchman.
§ EARL CAWDOR
My Lords, I will undertake not to stand for more than a few moments between your Lordships and the noble Earl who is to reply on the important issues that have been raised this afternoon. But I wish to say one or two words, and to confine what I have to say solely to the case of Swansea. The case of Swansea consists really of three parts in so far as I wish to touch upon it—first, the question of buildings and the demands made by the Board of Education in that matter; secondly, the question of salaries, and the action taken in differentiating between provided and non-provided schools; and, thirdly, the refusal on the part of the local education authority for many months to maintain a school which was recognised by the Board of Education as an efficient public elementary school.
Two of these questions have now, indeed, been settled and are beyond controversy, but what we are drawing attention to is the unfair administration in our view of the Board of Education with respect to these points. The school is a school providing accommodation for 1,300 children, and is, I believe, one of the most efficient in South Wales. It was acknowledged that 1,300 children might be too many, and the provision that had been practically approved before the advent of the present Government was 1026 for between 900 and 1,000 children. Then negotiations proceeded until the amount of the accommodation was brought down to a little over 900. A series of curious episodes followed, and the Board of Education, under its present chief, proposed to cut down the accommodation to 500. First of all, I suggest to the noble Earl that the Board of Education has no power to make such a reduction except upon educational grounds. I suggest to the noble Earl that that proceeding was, of itself, irregular.
Apart from that, let us see for a moment what it was that was required by the Board of Education with regard to this school. First of all, after a great deal of consideration they approved of certain playground accommodation being provided partly on the roof and partly on the flat, and the managers of the school at great expense provided a suitable amount of accommodation for a playground on the flat as well as on the roof. Then came a curious turn, and the Board of Education refused to sanction the playground except for the reduced number of 500 children. That is a pettifogging way of dealing with the matter and really unworthy of the head of a great Department. It was stated by Lord Robert Cecil that the whole of the tactics during these operations were unworthy even of the pettifogging operations of a County Court. At all events, I suggest to the noble Earl that it was a very unworthy way of dealing with this important question. After all, what has occurred? In the end the managers persuaded the Board of Education to submit to the local education authority the question whether it was not better, in the educational interests of the district, that the school should be maintained at some such figure as 850. The local education authority said that it was so, and the Board of Education, after all this correspondence and all this waste of time, finally approved of the plans, including the playground on the roof and the flat, for 850 children. Now, have we not a little right to complain that all this trouble should have been occasioned and that this correspondence should have gone on for months and months, when, after all, the thing aimed at by the 1027 managers was proved absolutely the right thing to do?
Then, with regard to the teachers' salaries, the matter really came before Mr. Birrell when he was head of the Education Department, towards the close of 1905, and in July, 1906, I think Mr. Birrell laid down perfectly clearly that, so far as the Board of Education were concerned, there was no reason why there should be any differentiation between the salaries of these teachers and those of teachers in other schools under the local education authority of Swansea, and he pressed on the local authority that the proper salaries should be paid at once. The managers of the school also took the opinion not long ago of Sir Robert Finlay, who, I am informed, advised them that any differentiation in salaries was illegal. First I shelter myself behind Mr. Birrell, and secondly, behind Sir Robert Finlay, in suggesting to the noble Earl that a differentiation such as that suggested by the local education authority, and so far not prevented by the Board of Education, is absolutely illegal.
§ EARL CAWDOR
Under Section 7 of the Act of 1902. In spite of all that has happened, your Lordships will hardly believe that at the present moment the salaries of these teachers are not being paid at the proper rate, and they are still protesting. It is nothing less than a scandal that the Board of Education should have allowed this interminable friction and delay to go on ever since 1905. For no less a time than six months from the end of July last year until January of this year, the local education authority, in defiance of the Board of Education, refused to pay the salaries at all, even at the lower rate, and during August, September, and October the salaries were paid by the managers out of their own pocket. At the end of October, however, they told the Board of Education that they could not continue to do so unless the Board gave them an undertaking that they would be repaid. The Board of Education, for some reason 1028 I cannot explain, declined to give any security whatever, and during November and December the teachers were not paid at all. They went without their salaries for two whole months, and throughout that time the school was recognised by the Board of Education as an efficient public elementary school. Yet during all these months the Board allowed the education authority to laugh in their faces. Could there be anything more degrading to a great public Department than to be treated like that?
It cannot be said that the Board of Education had no power. They had power under the Default Act. We know perfectly well that the noble Earl himself and his colleagues dissented from the passing of that Act. But I put it to the noble Earl that anyone who takes up the headship of a great Department of the State is bound to administer the law as it stands. In this case the Department have declared the school efficient, and that the local authority ought to maintain it and pay the salaries of the teachers. They had put into their hands a very simple power—the Default Act—by which they could have secured the maintenance of the school; but it was only just before the meeting of Parliament that the local authority agreed to maintain the school. I do not believe for a moment that if the noble Earl opposite had had the handling of this matter it would have been handled as it has been, and I appeal to the noble Earl to use his influence to secure that such a scandalous state of things should come to an end, and to give your Lordships this evening an assurance that, in so far as he is concerned, he will do his best to see that the law is carried out, and that, if the local authority fails to carry it out, we may look to the Government to do so to the best of their ability.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
My Lords, I first have to thank Lord Barnard for having been kind enough to postpone this discussion. I also have to thank him and the right rev. prelate and my noble friend opposite for having given me some information as to the particular schools and special matters with which they desired to deal. At the same time, I am afraid I must still appeal to your 1029 Lordships' indulgence, as I am not quite in such a good state as I should wish to be for making a speech. This discussion has covered an exceedingly wide field. It sometimes happens to my noble friend Lord Portsmouth that he is called upon to discuss practically the whole administration of His Majesty's land forces, both at home and abroad. The field which I am asked to deal with to-day is almost as wide, and I am at this disadvantage compared with my noble friend, that he, at any rate, is not attacked in flank from the right rev. Bench.
I will deal first with the subject-matter of Lord Barnard's Question as it appears on the Paper—namely, the building grant. The constitutional aspect of that grant of £100,000 was very fully discussed last year, and there are so many other matters to deal with that perhaps I may be excused if I do not touch upon this at all. It is a point on which I do not think we are likely to agree. As regards the administration of this grant Lord Barnard spoke with some severity. He referred to it as having been used for Party purposes and as involving acts of tyranny.
§ *LORD BARNARD
I quoted the word "tyranny" as having been used by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board, who said the grant was to meet certain cases of tyranny.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
The noble Lord quoted certain cases in Wales. It is perfectly true that a considerable number of cases under which this grant has been applied are in Wales, but by no means all. My noble friend asked me if there were any cases in England. I have not got the figures by me, but my impression is that something like one-half are in different parts of England. Then the noble Lord asked if we had any applications for grants for Church schools. I am not able to answer that. I think it is unlikely. It is also perfectly clear that the money would not be applied to any school which did not come under Section 14 of the Education Act of 1870. With regard to some of the special cases referred to, it is perfectly true that there 1030 has been no departure from the ordinary practice of the Board in dealing with disputed cases under Section 8 of the Education Act of 1902, but the cases in which these grants have been applied have been the outcome, as a rule, of applications made by Nonconformist parents.
Here is a Denbighshire case with a very long name. It is a small remote village in the mountainous part of the county. There is a Church school there, but all the children of school age, with one exception, were Nonconformists. There were thirty-four children on the books. Only two were Church children, one of whom was under school age. That is clearly one of the cases where the wishes of the parents, of which we hear so much in different connections, would point to the school not being entirely suited to the desires of the neighbourhood. Then my noble friend, Lord Barnard, asks why in that case do they not apply the Conscience Clause, because the objection which has so often been stated, that it is difficult for a small minority in a Church school to get up and say they desire to be excused religious instruction, would not apply where the great majority desire to escape it. But the noble Lord forgets that the parents of the children, although they might not wish them to receive catechism teaching, would be extremely loth to withdraw them from religious instruction altogether; and unless the noble Lord can go further and say that the authorities of the school would be willing to substitute undenominational for denominational teaching it seems to me the point of the Conscience Clause in no way applies. In this case all the parents of the children who attended the school applied for a council school; a certain number of ratepayers signed a petition against it, but the Board decided that a school for seventy was necessary. When I say necessary, the noble Lord and the House must remember that all these schools are technically unnecessary. If they were necessary schools in the technical sense, the local authority would have to pay for them. I can assure the noble Lord opposite that there has been no departure from practice in this respect, and that it is only where the school is technically of an unnecessary 1031 kind that these grants have been forthcoming.
The noble Lord mentioned one or two other Denbighshire cases in which opposition was offered by the ratepayers. He also referred to a case in Flint borough, where there was no council school, and the parents of 250 children presented a petition in favour of such a school. Forty ratepayers objected on the ground that the school was unnecessary and also on the score of expense, but afterwards all opposition was, I am informed, withdrawn, and the case became an unopposed one. I do not, therefore, understand why that particular case was quoted by the noble Lord. I will not go into any other Welsh cases at this hour, but I will say, with regard to the position of the ratepayers, that the ratepayers are concerned to only a trifling degree with the expenditure. It is estimated that in no case in which one of these schools has been built does the cost to the parish, as distinct from the county, amount to quite a farthing rate, and therefore the ratepayers do not appear to have any very great moral locus standi in the matter. As to the general principle, one can merely say that the money has been applied in those cases where, apparently, it was thought to be most needed. It by no means follows that it has been applied in every case where a demand has been made. On the contrary, there have been a number of cases in which, in the opinion of the Board of Education, the circumstances did not seem to warrant the grant.
The total amount expended, or promised, has been, I think, about £70,000, but in all those cases it has been shown that there is a very distinct demand for a school of a different character from that existing at the moment. The whole proceeding is one which, we have always frankly admitted, is in a sense of a makeshift character. It has arisen out of the unlucky religious disputes that have taken place in various districts, and the impossibility of arriving so far at a Parliamentary solution of these disputes. I sincerely hope that the time will come when grants of this kind will be made altogether unnecessary as the result of legislation. Perhaps the noble Lord will excuse me if I do not repeat what I 1032 said last year on the Salterhebble school, on which there is nothing new to be said; but the Garforth case is one which demands somewhat closer investigation. The Garforth case is the one in which Mr. Justice Channell gave a decision adverse to the view of the Board of Education, and in the course of which, as the noble Lord said, he made certain observations to which I do not propose further to allude.
At Garforth there was a council school and a Church school. The council school was built after the Church school, and the idea was to set it apart for the senior children, both boys and girls. In 1907 the accommodation of the Church school, which had been rather crowded, was reduced, with the agreement of the managers, and thereby a certain number of children were excluded for whom there was room in the council school. From the purely educational point of view, from which alone the Board of Education desired to look at it, it certainly was obviously preferable that the division should be of a horizontal rather than of a vertical character, that certain standards should be taught in the one school and certain standards in the other. The local authority asked to have the three senior standards excluded, and in fact claimed the right to do so. On the other hand the managers demanded the right to turn any children they liked out of the school, and held that the local authority were compelled to find places for them in the council school. The local authority said that, from an educational point of view, their school had been intended for senior children, and that the organisation of the education of the district would be far better carried out it their plan were adopted.
The noble Lord pointed out that the President of the Board of Education reversed his decision on this point last year. That is perfectly true, and he did so owing to the fact, as he said in reply, that in the earlier decision of 3rd June, consideration was not given to the fact that the size of the premises necessitated that a certain number of children must in any case be excluded. But his attention having been drawn to this aspect of the case, he had no hesitation in giving the decision of 12th July. The ultimate 1033 result was that in a very close legal argument Mr. Justice Channell decided that the local authority were wrong and that the managers were right, and as long as that decision remains unchallenged and unreversed it is, of course, the law of the land, and there is nothing more to be said. If it is the law, then I am bound to say that, in my opinion, and in that of the Board of Education, it is a bad law from the educational point of view. It certainly does not tend to educational efficiency to the same extent that the other plan would have done. All we can say is that we are brought into these difficulties by Section 7 of the Act of 1902, which attempts to define the utterly unsatisfactory dual control which exists between the local authority and the managers of voluntary schools.
The other principal case, of Narberth in the county of Pembroke, referred to by Lord Barnard, is one of a very singular and interesting character. The charity is one of £30 a year; therefore the amount is not important, though the principle involved is. The trust lapsed, and it lapsed in rather a peculiar way, because for some time there was a desire to apply this money to the National Society's school; yet it was decided that the existing National School could not be described as the school of the foundation for the purposes of Section 13 of the Act of 1902. That decision was arrived at, I think, during the time that the noble Marquess opposite was President of the Board of Education. At any rate, it was before we came into office. Then various schemes were framed, and it is not necessary, I think, to go into the particulars of them. The important point is that my right hon. friend, the President of the Board of Education, attempted to apply in this instance the principle, which has been previously applied by agreement, but not otherwise, of splitting up a trust into two parts, and providing that part of the amount should be applied to purely educational purposes and part to purely religious purposes. That, no doubt, is a matter on which a great deal may be said from a legal point of view, and it is one which, I quite think, ought to be most fully argued.
1034 In our view it is consonant with the general trend of educational matters, and we do believe that the tendency will be to deal ultimately, by Act of Parliament or otherwise, with trusts in that manner. But we quite agree that the question is disputable, and so far as this particular charity is concerned the scheme is still, so to speak, hung up. No decision has been come to in regard to it. The scheme was published originally so long ago as 1905, and the Board propose now to republish it, as was stated in the official letter to the trustees of 11th February last, including various provisions, one of which is in favour of the ecclesiastical side of the trust—that is to say, the handing over of the accumulated funds for purely religious purposes. But what I particularly want to state is this. If desired, the Board will be willing to hold a public inquiry for the purpose of enabling the trustees and all the parties interested to state their views fully, and incidentally such an inquiry would give an opportunity for some general argument on the somewhat novel principle of splitting these trusts into two rather than attempting to deal with them as one.
On the general question of trusts, I should like to say this, that we fully admit that the functions of the Board of Education in this matter are in one sense judicial. But it is important, at the same time, to inquire why Parliament handed over this particular jurisdiction to an administrative Department. There must have been some reason for doing it, and, as we know, it was not done by a Radical Government. The answer, I take it, is that although the jurisdiction is of a judicial character, it was obviously intended that the discretion of the Board should be exercised with regard to novel conditions, new needs of education, and matters of that kind. To put the same thing in a different way, from the purely judicial point of view the object would be to get as near as possible to the terms of the trust cy-près. On the other hand, from the administrative point of view the object is to decide how the money, if it were free, could best be applied to educational purposes. Not being able, probably, to use it in that way, one more or 1035 less reverses for the moment the cy-près doctrine, and gets as near as possible, within the terms of the trust, to the most useful and valuable educational application. That, to my mind, is just the difference between the jurisdiction as exercised by the Board and as it would be exercised by a Court.
The next case on which I would say a word is the Royston case. My noble friend Lord Dartmouth will not, I am sure, expect me to go into the whole matter again. I am as glad as he is, that Mr. Milnes has obtained what seems to be an excellent appointment under the West Riding County Council. I do not pretend to know, and it is not the concern of the Board of Education to inquire, why the council refused one post to Mr. Milnes and gave him another. We believe we were perfectly right—and I have no doubt my right hon. friend would do the same thing again—in deciding that the council's refusal to appoint Mr. Milne was given on educational grounds. But nothing will persuade us that it is the duty of the Board of Education to inquire whether those educational grounds were adequate. Under the Act of 1902 the managers may dismiss a master on religious grounds. If it is the duty of the Board of Education to inquire into the adequacy of the educational grounds in the one case, it must also be their duty to inquire into the adequacy of the religious grounds in the other.
§ THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH
The Board of Education sent down an inspector to inquire as to the fitness of the man.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
But surely that does not cover the point. The point is whether the refusal to appoint this gentleman to the particular school was on educational grounds or not? That is a question of fact. If we had been obliged to believe that the inquiry was a purely bogus one, we should have said that the decision was not given on educational grounds. But there was a perfectly distinct examination, and the Board of Education could not get out of admitting that the grounds were educational. The noble Earl asks why we did 1036 not publish the report of the inspector. I think that to have done so would have been a most mischievous precedent. The inspectors of the Board of Education write with the fullest confidence, and in the course of their reports make observations about persons and institutions which it would be most unfair to make public. In the opinion of the Board it would be quite destructive of the confidence which their excellent inspectors exercise in sending reports to them if it were understood that those reports could be published on the application of someone in Parliament. I hope the noble Earl did not think that I objected to his raising the question in Parliament. That is quite another matter. What I objected to was the publication of the confidential reports of inspectors, and I am afraid that in this case we can publish no more than has been published already.
Now I come to the Swansea case, which is the last with which I need trouble the House. As to this case, a rather singular theory of administrative continuity seems to obtain in some parts of the House—a theory which, carried to the extent to which some noble Lords would desire to carry it, would make the political chief of a Department useless except for the purpose of occasionally introducing Bills. It is true that there is a certain degree of administrative continuity in all Departments, but that horse must not be ridden too hard. It is undoubtedly the case that when a Minister undertakes a particular Department he does sometimes think it necessary to administer the law as it stands in a somewhat different manner from that of his predecessor. I cannot pretend for a moment that the administration of the Board of Education, so far as I am acquainted with it—and I am rather an outsider in this matter—is identical with that which obtained when the noble Marquess was there. I think he would be very much surprised if it were. Therefore, the charge of changed administration is not one which I think ought to weigh very heavily upon my right hon. friend.
As regards the Swansea case, at this late hour perhaps I may be excused if I say very little on the building side of the question. We had, I think, two 1037 debates on it last year, certainly one long one, at which unfortunately the right rev. Prelate was not present. I look at this matter, as I say, as an outsider. I am not concerned with the administration of the Department. From my view of it the whole matter has been a very unfortunate squabble between the managers on the one side and the local education authority on the other, with occasional references, of course, from both to the Board of Education, conducted with extreme ingenuity and skill on both sides. But the skill has not always, I think, been employed to serve the best interests of education, and there has been an occasional loss of temper on both sides which did not reflect entire credit upon either party. That is the view which I take from a purely impartial standpoint.
Fortunately, the building difficulty is solved. But I think the noble Earl, Lord Cawdor, was not entirely fair to my right hon. friend on one or two points. Why, he said, did he cut the school down to 500, and object to the roof playground; or, rather, first allow the roof playground to diminished numbers, and then afterwards say he disapproved of the roof playground. The roof playground, which is considered an objectionable thing in itself and is only allowed under very special circumstances, was only permitted at all on the direct statement of the managers, fortified by the utmost detail as to the character of the neighbouring land, that it was impossible to get any more land for a proper playground. The roof playground was only permitted at all on consideration of that fact. A few weeks afterwards, fortunately, the managers found they were able to buy the land that was required to give twenty feet per child play-ground, which is not, as the noble Marquess knows, an enormous proportion per child. My right hon. friend pointed out that the roof playground, if the other could be got, was in itself an objectionable thing, and ought not to be allowed. Then, after further representation, a certain amount of roof playground was allowed, and, consequently, the larger number of children; but I do not see why the noble Earl should take that last fact as anything but an evidence of the desire of my right hon. friend to meet in 1038 every way, and even to strain a point to meet, the wishes of the managers in this matter. I do not propose to say anything more about the building, because the question of salaries is more important and also more difficult. It had been dragging on since 1904.
§ *THE EARL OF CREWE
And is still dragging on. There is no change whatever in the view of the Board that, speaking generally, it is a desirable thing that the same salaries should be paid in the voluntary schools as are paid in the council schools. The right rev. Prelate quoted a letter written in July, 1906, when Mr. Birrell was at the Board of Education, in which it was stated that the Board are not aware of any circumstances which would justify a differentiation in the salaries paid to teachers in voluntary and council schools. So far, then, that is common ground. Now the local authority, first of all, objected to being made parties to the agreements with the teachers. This, they contended, was solely the function of the managers who employed them. The Board of Education were applied to as to this, and in February, 1907, they wrote that they were taking legal opinion on the point, and added—It is the duty of the managers to complete the agreements, and the managers are not relieved from this obligation by any failure of the local education authority to fix the salaries. The managers should, therefore, proceed to complete the agreements, inserting such salaries as may appear to them reasonable, failing guidance from the local authority. Should any question hereafter arise as to the salaries thus fixed the question will be determined by the Board under Section 7 of the Act of 1902.Then the managers wrote to the local authority for guidance, and received a, reply stating that the local authority sanctioned the salaries at the rate hitherto paid—that is to say, on the lower scale. The managers did not regard this as guidance; they inserted the higher scale in their agreements, and wrote to the Board of Education stating that, in the absence of guidance from the local authority, they had inserted a scale of salaries which appeared to them reasonable, and appealing to the Board to determine the question under Section 7 of the Act.
1039 we are very simple people at the Board of Education, and we took the complaint of the managers that they had not received any guidance to mean that the local education authority had not replied to their letter. I remember the matter was debated here, and I commented, I think rather severely, on the neglect of the local authority to give any guidance. I do not know what "guidance" exactly may be taken to mean, but I should certainly have thought that, though it was not the guidance required, yet a reply stating a particular scale of salaries as the one they expected to see put into the agreements, was guidance of a kind; and I am afraid I cannot recognise the point of view of the managers so far as their interpretation of the word "guidance" is concerned. Then the Board replied that they did not understand that the authority had refused to pay the amount of the salary in the agreements, and that no question had arisen for determination. On 2nd July the managers wrote that the local authority had refused to pay it, and the Board accordingly asked the local authority, on 16th July, for their observations upon this statement. The local authority did not reply in detail to this letter until the other day, but they pointed out, in August, that they had placed the lower figure in their reply to the managers.
Then there comes a question which I can assure the noble Earl who has just sat down is not so easy of decision as he thinks, viz.: what is the meaning of the words "keep efficient." The noble Earl has told me what I did not know before, that Sir Robert Finlay thinks there is no question that to keep efficient means to pay the same salary. That is one legal opinion, but it is not a legal decision, and it, at any rate, is disputed by that highly ingenious body, the local authority of Swansea, because they have written to the Board this letter, which I think I must trouble the House with in full—