§ Order of the Day read for resuming the Debate upon the Motion for the Second Reading.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
My Lords, I should like to ask the present Leader of the House, the Lord Privy Seal, whether he proposes to take this Bill at this hour. It is very unusual to take a Bill of this magnitude as the 8th Order of the Day and after four hours of debate on some very interesting Questions have preceded it. I think your Lordships will see that the House is not in a condition for effective debate, and to bring on in such conditions a debate on a Bill of this magnitude at the dinner hour does seem a very unusual occurrence. If the noble Earl insists upon carrying it on now, I think he must understand that we shall seek an opportunity on going into Committee. There are many Peers who desire to take part in the debate when it is possible to obtain some audience and also some public notice of whatever arguments may be used.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
My Lords, I wish to express my entire agreement with what the noble Viscount has said. Here is, perhaps, the most important Bill that has been brought in this session, and one of the most important Bills that have been brought in for a long time. Is it to the credit of this House that it should go forth to the public that we scamped the discussion and did not adequately consider the Bill? Would it not be better to put down a notice of Motion for to-morrow, giving this Bill precedence over the other Orders and devoting to morrow to a proper discussion? Unless we can have an adequate attendance during the dinner hour and then time tomorrow, I do not see how we can possibly give the Bill the proper consideration that it deserves.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
My Lords, I very much regret that it should be necessary to resume the discussion of the Bill at an hour which is apparently inconvenient, but I must remind your Lordships that ten days ago my noble friend Lord Curzon warned the House that your Lordships would be invited to sit on Tuesday and Wednesday evening to deal with this Bill—public warning given to your Lordships on July 17. Yesterday certain very important speeches were delivered, and I have every reason to hope that we may get the Second Reading today. Lord Sheffield is prepared at once to resume the discussion of the measure, and Lord Haldane was prepared, if necessary, to resume the discussion after the dinner interval; and I have to inform you that, assuming that the debate will go on after dinner into the evening sitting, dinner has been ordered for your Lordships tonight.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
There are other Peers. Will the noble Earl understand me? It is a complete misunderstanding if the noble Earl thinks we propose that there should be no discussion after dinner. What we suggest is that a Bill of this kind is too important to be scamped. It needs another day.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
I really demur to the view that because the House is small the debate is therefore scamped.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
The House is small, and will be small, no doubt, for the rest of the evening, but Lord Sheffield's remarks will be very direct and to the point, even if there is a small audience to hear him. That equally applies to the noble and learned Viscount opposite (Lord Haldane) and to the most rev. Prelate the Archbishop of York.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
Will it not be better to proceed and allow those Peers who are prepared to make their speeches, which may not receive much note in the Press, but of which due note will be taken by the Official Reporters of this House. Nothing we can do to-night can prejudge the right of any Peer on the Motion for going into Committee to reopen what are commonly called Second Reading questions, but I really submit that we ought to get the Second Reading to-night, especially in view of the fact that more than adequate notice was given that we should have to sit late. I think it would be very unfortunate to carry over the discussion from this moment till to-morrow, and so put off whatever measures are on the Paper for to-morrow, some of which have been down for some time.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I think it is rather unfortunate that the Government have taken this view of things. This discussion on the Second Reading is a purely friendly discussion; it is not as if it were a Bill which is going to be savagely contested, or anything of that kind; and if I might conceive myself to be—which I never shall be—in the position to guide the deliberations of your Lordships' House, and I found the House in that condition, I should have studied the convenience of the House in every way I could, and I should not have said that the House had been warned of this or that or the other; because it is for the House to decide, and not for the Government to do so. That is the proper attitude which Ministers ought to adopt in addressing your Lordship's House. It is not a question of warning the House as if we were common soldiers to be 1117 warned for duty. The proper phrase is, whatever is convenient to your Lordships in the conduct of the business of the House.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
May I ask my noble friend whether he is blaming me for saving that ten days ago it was foreseen that it might be necessary to sit after dinner? Surely I did no act of disrespect to your Lordships in saying that this was foreseen ten days ago and was announced to your Lordships.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am not going to resist the wish of the House. If the House wants to sit after dinner it is proper that it should do so, of course; but I did not think that, considering the importance of the Bill, the deliberations of your Lordships' House would have been such as would have been worthy of the importance of the occasion. My noble friend says that after dinner the audience will be select. I think that is true; it will be very select. The debate will not be reported. It will be in Hansard, an important consideration, no doubt. But I confess that, considering the great distinction of the noble Lords who desire to address your Lordships—I know several who have been mentioned already—I must say that I think it would have been far more suitable if this debate had been allowed to take place upon a day when it would have been really unhampered by other very important Orders. Nobody can complain of what has happened this evening, because the debates which have taken place have been very important; we could not have been any shorter in dealing with the other Orders of the Day. However, as the matter has been so decided, there is no more to be said; but I do not think that the result will be to redound to the credit of your Lordships' House.
My Lords, I will now proceed, although the House is not a very full one, to address my remarks to your Lordships upon the Second Reading of this Bill. I may say that I do not think the House is much emptier than it was towards the latter part of the debate last night; but, whether the House is full or empty, I think that those who take an interest in this question will attend and will take part either to-night, or, if they think it necessary, on some later occasion.
1118 I do not propose to detain the House at any great length. I do not intend to pay any more of those well merited compliments to the mover which he received last night; he may take those for granted. Nor do I propose to pass any elaborate eulogium on the Bill, because the best eulogium one can pay is a determination to support it; and I am here with the intention of supporting this Bill most heartily, which course indicates a general approbation of its aims. The noble Earl who introduced the Bill, and others, will not expect me to say that I accept it as a matter of verbal inspiration; and I recognise, as other speakers have done, that there are many important aspects of the education question which had to be left out of this Bill if, at a time of great national stress, an important step towards the establishment of a proper system of national education were to be taken with the consent of all parties, and without raising those elements of controversy which have so often delayed the progress of education.
Further, I hope the noble Earl in charge of the Bill will not think that it detracts from my approbation of the Bill if the whole of my speech is directed rather to criticism of points in it; the more so as I can assure the noble Earl that I do not intend to give him any trouble in Committee. I might put down an Amendment or two in Committee in order to define my position, but I have no intention of doing anything to delay the progress of the Bill; because I agree with the Leader of the House, and with all who have spoken, in the extreme importance of getting through a measure which the whole country expects and looks for; and it will be a bitter disappointment to the people of this country if the Bill is delayed or shipwrecked. Therefore my observations will be directed to calling the attention of the noble Earl in charge of the Bill and of His Majesty's Government to points which I think will have to come up later, possibly in some amending Bill or in administration, rather than to any alteration of the text of the Bill at present.
May I refer briefly now to one or two of the points made by the speakers last night? The first point of regret I have as to this Bill is regret for an absence of proposals which was unavoidable. The noble Earl in talking about education, and of his activities on the Hertfordshire Education Committee, regretted that the debates were so dull and the topics so uninteresting; 1119 and that he never had an opportunity of giving scope to his enthusiasm in education and to his interest in the more intellectual and interesting parts of it. But may I point out that this dulness connected with the administration of education is the dulness which is coupled with all administration. If you care for education itself, however, behind the dulness of daily administration you will find the interest of the cause you are a promoting; and if the noble Earl had had the benefit of serving on a body elected ad hoc and not on a body which is a mere adjunct to a body elected for purely local affairs he would have found persons coming on it more interested in education than those who give but a fragment of their time to it as well as to county roads, to county police, and to sewers and sanitation. I mention that because I recognise that it would have been idle to raise the question of ad hoc bodies in this Bill. But the noble Earl will allow me to record my permanent and persistent adhesion to the belief that, until you have a body specifically elected for the purposes of education, you will never get that wide interest in education which we had under the old School Board. What I say is not in any way obstructive to the Bill but merely a record of opinion.
The noble Earl referred last night to the Statement of the Medical Officer of Health of the Education Department that there were 1,000,000 children who, through lack of stamina or want of health, did not profit by education. I have seen that statement before, but in my opinion it is a grossly exaggerated one. Anybody who takes the trouble to read these Reports will find that, interesting as they are, they have a great bias. I have not the slightest doubt that amongst the 7,000,000 children in our schools there may be 1,000,000 who are below the average standard in stamina, in health, in eyesight, in physique, and all the rest of it. Of course, in so far as the child falls short of a proper, healthy, vigorous development he is likely not to get the full profit of the system of education. But it is an enormous stride from that to terrify the public with the suggestion that we are having a very costly system of education and that the children will get no profit from it. The cause of education is endangered by exaggerated statements, and I wish to put in that caveat. We all wish every child to profit as much as possible, but do not let us, because some children fail to get the full benefit, speak 1120 as though those children got no benefit at all. There were some other points which I might have mentioned in the noble Earls' speech, but they will rather arise when I come to one or two Clauses in the Bill, such as the nursery schools, continuation schools and other things.
There was another remark of the noble Earl which I should welcome very much if I thought the Bill was doing much for it. He hoped the Bill would bring our Universities within the reach of a far larger number of persons than at present. I am sure we all desire that, and that education should spread to the very highest ranges of systematic teaching as well as the lowest, but I cannot see anything in this Bill which deals with the Universities at all or in any way brings a larger number of persons within their range. If there were any chance of it, I should be glad, but I do not see that there is. I pass on. The noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, in speaking in defence of retaining the principle of free schools throughout, made, I thought, too large a concession to the critics of the universal free schools when he spoke of the verminous child, or the slum child, and of the dislike of the clean child to coming into contact with him. In the first place, no person has the right to send a verminous child to school. He can be summoned for cruelty to the child, and the child can be excluded from the school. But does anyone suppose that the existence of free schools brings the respectable child into contact with the child of the slums? In the whole of London there is not a single fee-paying school nor in the whole of Wales. The fact is that these schools are to be found in isolated spots, and have no relation to the general education scheme. If there is an Amendment to be moved as to the free schools as to fees, I shall reserve my remarks until we come into Committee.
The most rev. Primate treated us to a brief sketch of two centuries of the Church in its relation to popular education, and he spoke with the greatest confidence when he said that he was perfectly certain he could defy contradiction. I do not want to do anything so abrupt in this House as to contradict the most rev. Primate, but I would say that if there were a proper amount of time I would not allow his statements to pass unchallenged. But as they seem to me to be a little outside the scope of this Bill, I will take no further notice of 1121 them. The noble Lord below me (Lord Gainford) who was for some time the head of the Board of Education, spoke on several questions with an authority which he had the right to assume as having been the head of that Department. He laid special stress on the health question, on juvenile employment and the falling off in attendance. I agree, and we all agree with the noble Lord about the question of health. Every one is agreed that the health of the children, which will include the sanitation of the premises, good lighting and air, adequate playgrounds, and all the other things, and what has been put in by the House of Commons—namely, continuous medical attendance as well as medical inspection—are of the greatest importance. The only point on which I join issue is when he intimated that the Bill might be strengthened in Committee. I wish to say that I am opposed to anything which will endanger the rapid progress of this Bill.
While questions might be raised which, if there were a sympathetic indication of approval of the principles, might be taken as memoranda and noted with a view to future legislation, we ought not, as the French say, to make that which is better the enemy of that which is good by putting proposals into this Bill which would delay its passage into law and its coming into operation. But I do agree with the noble Lord in reference to school attendance and child labour. He pointed out that a child or a young person between twelve and sixteen might be at school twenty-seven hours in the week and thus might be at work for nearly sixty hours in the week. Every one will agree that that is an unreasonable tax to put on the body and brain of a young, growing child, and we hope, in factory legislation, and in other legislation on child labour, to see some material limit put on the employment of children and young people. With reference to those who have left the elementary school, the children who, as a rule, will be between fourteen and eighteen years and the bulk of whom go into the continuation classes, I think there should be a reasonable interval of time between the hours of school and the hours of work, in case the child becomes fagged. That should be an indication for future legislation, and there is not the slightest doubt there will be an effort to limit the hours of work for young people between the age of fourteen and eighteen. If the working man now 1122 agitates for eight hours of labour, and we are told in the colliery for six hours, then young people under eighteen, who are under the obligation to study, ought to have some maximum time allotted to them such as is not provided for in the Bill. Here again, that is a matter I desire, but I do not wish to force it into the Bill, as we want to get the measure through.
If Lord Gainford will allow me to put it so, I should like to make a correction in one thing which he said. He talked of the falling off in the attendance of the children, but he must know quite well that substantially the whole of the falling off is in regard to children under five years, where the local authorities, for the sake of economy and to avoid building schools—and the Board of Education have encouraged them—have been able to exclude by resolution all under five years from the schools. That has nothing to do with a want of interest in education, but with the action of those who administer education. That is a thing which I very much regret. To come at once to the children under five and the nursery schools, I consider that the enactment about nursery schools is a serious blot in the Bill. Not that I object to a more intelligent, free and happy system for young children under five in our schools, I have some doubt myself with regard to children from two to thee years, even if you called it a nursery school and made it more like a crèche than a school. What I feel is this, that if you are going to put upon the local authority the power to establish these schools, such schools ought to be within the purview of the Education Acts Public Elementary Schools. What are the notes of a public elementary school? There must be public management, there must be a conscience clause, there roust be no fees. I agree with the President of the Board of Education that there is not much importance in a conscience clause for children from three to five years, though I remember a very strongly ecclesiastical colleague of mine on the School Board for London who, when fighting for more definite instruction, said it was a great mistake to think that children could not appreciate dogma, but that you could teach an infant dogma long before you could teach him anything else. You may teach there to repeat words. You may teach a child words involving the most mysterious doctrines of the Christian faith, but thereby you do not make him a dogmatist any more than 1123 you make him a conjuror by teaching him to say abracadabra.
I object very strongly to allowing the local authority to subsidise with money or otherwise the school which they do not manage. That is a blot on the Bill. I only record my sense of the blot and I pass on. I was very glad to hear the noble Earl in charge of the Bill speak highly of the need of the suitable training and bringing up of these young children, because we know that some of the opponents of infant schools wanted to leave the children out altogether; until they were five years old. I should like to see as many infant schools as possible.
The Board of Education consider that a smaller amount of superficial feet or cubic space is needed for an infant than is needed for an older child. I say that he should have more space, and I hope that if nursery schools are established by the Board of Education they will insist upon ample space, light rooms, plenty of floor space where the children can have their action songs and games, and cots where they can go to sleep in the afternoon, and roomy playgrounds, and that that will be the ideal. If you cannot have comfortable homes with roomy nurseries these nursery schools will afford the best opportunity for these young children to grow up like flowers in the sunlight. That should be done also in the infant schools. There is no reason why the Board of Education should invent new schools under private management and which will not be subject to control, when they can do the same thing in their own infant schools.
There is another thing, and here again I do not think it will be very important in practice, although it is a blot in principle. These nursery schools not being public elementary schools will be free to charge a fee. It is clearly contemplated that these nursery schools should be established in the crowded and poorer parts of large towns, and the children from such districts will not be the children for whom such nursery schools will be prepared to charge a fee. Therefore these schools will practically be free, although no doubt there may be a small charge made to go towards the cost of providing milk and similar food. I expect that these schools when started will be started by benevolent people who will first of all take an interest in schools for mothers and then crèches and so develop a desire to give as bright and happy a life as possible 1124 to these infants until they are able to pass into the ordinary elementary schools. Therefor my expectation is that these nursery schools will be very little used. I doubt whether it will be possible to run them at a less cost than £5 per child, and therefore I fear that they will be too costly for any general adoption.
I come now to one or two points on which I hope the noble Earl will be able to give some fuller explanation on the committee stage. The first is as to the definition clause (47) which says that a child is a person who is under an obligation to attend school and who has a right to attend school up to the age of sixteen. I think the Government and the noble Earl in his speech has made it quite clear now that there is every intention not only to empower but to encourage children to stop on until they are sixteen years of age in the elementary school, and practically under Clause 2 it has become the duty of the local authority under Part III to provide adequate instruction where these children over fourteen stop on. My point is that in the Bill a child is defined as a person under a legal obligation to attend school. Hardly any local authority, I think, will adopt a by-law raising the age to fifteen. The great majority therefore of children will remain under compulsion to attend school only up to the age of fourteen. Now under this Bill a child will be a person under a legal obligation to attend school, and therefore it might be contended that the right to continue at school up to the age of sixteen disappeared because that right only extended to children and a child was defined as a person who was under a legal obligation to attend. I think that could be amended by saying, "a child is a person who is attending a public elementary school," and then when you come to the definition of young person you can say he is a young person over fourteen who is not attending a public elementary school. It is rather a question for the draftsmen and the legal officers of the Board of Education, and if on the Committee stage the noble Earl assures me that I have found a mare's nest, or that I am hypercritical, and that the right to attend school survives at the age of sixteen, I shall have nothing more to say.
The next point is as to the compulsory continuation schools. Until the Cockerton judgment and the Act of 1902 evening schools were under the control of the 1125 people who had, charge of the elementary schools. They were held in the same buildings, taught by the same teachers, and the children were canvassed to go on. Now that these schools are made compulsory and part of the compulsory system I think it is still more important that they should be managed by those who have charge of the elementary system of the district. That will not interfere at all with what I call advanced continuation education for adults, which I hope will not be extinguished by this compulsory continuation. I hope that by the compulsory continuation up to eighteen you will develop such a desire for learning that you will increase the demand for adult schools, hut I very much regret that these compulsory continuation schools are not part of the system administered by those who have charge of the elementary schools. These compulsory continuation schools are going to cost a great deal. I believe that Mr. Fisher estimated it at £10,000,000 a year, but I am quite sure that it is going to cost a great deal more than that. It is going to be very costly, but I am not going to elaborate criticism on these continuation schools. I think it is one of the most difficult parts of the Bill, that it will be the most difficult to introduce and administer, and that it will cause the greatest amount of friction hereafter socially, and I regret that they will not be part of the elementary school system but part of the system administered by the Higher Authorities. Under the Act of 1902, which is not repealed, the Higher Authority has power if it pleases to inflict the whole charge for the cost of the building and education of these continuation schools upon the minor locality, and yet the minor locality will have practically no effective power in determining the structure and cost or staff of the schools. It is true there is provision in the Bill that the minor authorities—the urban authorities—are entitled to put some managers on, but we know what a manager is. A manager is a man who does the drudgery work for the authority and has no power at all, and even if they appoint the manager there is nothing in the Bill as to the proportion of the managers or as to the substantial authority. Here, again, I do not propose to move any Amendment. In fact, I think I should be out of order if I did, because any proposal to deal with finance—and to say that if the central or county authorities decide to give the direct management to a subordinate authority 1126 they should bear, as a county, at the very least one-half of the cost would be a financial amendment—would be out of order.
It would be a breach of privilege. The noble Marquess is right. We can move anything we please, but the mischief arises when we get our snub down below. Still, practically, it is one of those things which are thought to be outside our province to shift the burden and incidence of taxation or the rate of payment. As I plead for ad hoc so I plead very strongly in this matter. I quite agree that, the larger area must have a controlling voice in the higher education and secondary education. If we retain those urban districts or boroughs with populations of ten or twelve or fifteen thousand, they are good for local interest in elementary education, but their interest is not sufficiently wide for advanced education. Therefore, I agree that the county should have a voice, though I do not think that these continuation schools for young people step so completely into the region of secondary education but what they will fall more naturally to the local minor authority. There, again, I hope the counties will very largely see the wisdom of consulting and co-operating with the minor authorities. They can if they please. In my own county of Cheshire, so long as the local authorities would raise the penny rate which they were entitled to raise, the county gave them an equal amount and encouraged them very largely to organise their own affairs. In Lancashire, I am quite sure, with big towns like Ashton-under-Lyme, Leigh, and other places with between 40,000 and 50,000 inhabitants, the county would have plenty of trouble if they did not try to co-operate with the local authority, and I think it would be an undesirable thing if in the county of Cambridge the county authorities treated the borough of Cambridge as of no account and did not give it a large voice.
Therefore, I hope that in future legislation—I do not ask for it now—we shall deal with subordinate authorities in their relation to the county and in relation to the burden of expense which it is in the power of the county to throw upon them. 1127 There is another thing I regret very much—again it is a thing upon which I record my regret and do not go further—and it is that in all the Bills which the Government have introduced, including the Bill of 1906, there has been a proposal, in regard to the charge for buildings of elementary schools in a county, that there should not be the obligation to put a substantial part upon the parish, but the obligation it proposed should be in every case on the county as a whole. That charge is most burdensome and oppressive upon a small parish. You have a parish of about 600 people which has to put up a school and the county cannot pay more than one half. It may be, I think, only one third or one quarter—I am not sure which. It would be quite inappreciable to the county as a whole to merge that into the general county rate, which would save much trouble. There is a greatdeal of complicated calculation when you levy a rate and make demands for the outstanding loans upon the various parishes, and I think it is a great pity that the Government have shrunk from their own policy of several years running and have turned this into an option and permission, whereas before it was an obligation.
The result will be that the churlish county will let the parish pay, but I think the liberal counties with a go-ahead policy will take the burden. It is a bad thing, and it is a very bad thing in this way—it gives the strongest inducement to a rural parish with an atrociously bad school, which ought to be closed, to fight tooth and nail against the action of the Board of Education and the authorities which demand that a new school should be built. These people will say "Why, if we submit to this we shall very likely have a rate of 1s. in the £ for forty years before the debt is paid off. That is too oppressive. We cannot afford it." And they will bring pressure to bear on the county. Many atrociously bad schools exist in the rural districts because of that obligation on the minor authorities to pay at least one half, and even three-quarters of the cost. Once more I regret it, but I utter my word of protest, and pass on.
There is one small point now which I really think the Government might deal with in Committee. It is very small as respecting the number of people it affects and it is small also as regards the charge it involves. It has to do with the instruction of the deaf The noble Earl will know that in the Acts relating to the instruction of the 1128 blind the obligation of the local authority to provide education begins at the age of five. In the case of the instruction of the deaf it begins at seven. Of course, a great many deaf children have become deaf in infancy through scarlet fever or other disease. Those who are connected with the teaching of the deaf regard it as vital that all, except those who are backward and cannot be so taught, should be taught on the oral system. We know that a child of five is much more susceptible to this teaching than the older children. Every year that goes by it is more difficult to educate the voice and the palate and the brain by this oral system. If the noble Earl in charge of the Bill could see his way in Committee to place the obligation upon local authorities to provide for the education of the deaf on the same footing as they have to provide for the education of the blind at five years instead of seven, it would do a great deal for the advancement of the education and future welfare of these unfortunate children.
May I say that in some ways the deaf are more hopeful objects for the State's interference than the blind, because, while we never can expect to make the blind self-supporting citizens, in the case of the deaf we can train them to take up trades and professions and earn as high wages, as any hearing person—in fact, sometimes higher wages, because they are less likely to gossip in the workshop? There fore, I would urge this matter upon the Government. It is so small, and so free from controversy, that if the noble Earl can see his way in Committee to make that little Amendment—I would rather he put it down himself—I think he would get the gratitude of those interested in the education of the deaf, and he would get also that of the deaf themselves when they grew up and were old enough to appreciate the advantage they had gained. These are the principal points to which I wish to call your Lordships' attention. I have tried to make my remarks as practical as possible and to keep clear from all controversy. I will end my speech by heartily congratulating the noble Earl on having been put in charge of such a benevolent, beneficient and progressive Bill, and by expressing the hope that he may see it accomplish its success in a very short time.
§ [The sitting was suspended shortly before eight o'clock, and resumed at nine o'clock.]1129
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
My Lords, I cannot but think that it was with some satisfaction that the Government listened to the speech of my noble friend who preceded me. Lord Sheffield is a strong swimmer in the waters of education, and if any one could make headway against the current it is he. My noble friend has blessed the Bill, and I think that was a strong testimony to the foundation on which the Bill has been erected, for that foundation is nothing less than the Act of 1902. My noble friend rendered distinguished service on the London School Board, which was one of the most brilliant illustrations of what could be done with the principle of the Education Act of 1870 which set up ad hoc authorities. It was a magnificent body. It contained the talent of the metropolis, and it did great work, but, as happens constantly, what is true for one generation ceases to be true for the generation which follows it, not because the truth was not truth at the time, but because it has been absorbed and taken up to a higher level. The Act of 1902 swept away the basis of ad hoc authorities. For myself, I had long before that Act was pasted come to regard the Liberal tradition of the Victorian epoch about ad hoc authorities as having become a superstition. A new notion was making itself apparent—the notion that the business of Government was to devolve from Parliament to local authorities, which should be recognised as having attained a very great and important stature.
It is quite a mistake, I think, to draw a sharp line of demarcation between Parliament and what is called local government. The very doctrine of to-day, a doctrine becoming more and more apparent every month, is that we must devolve much of what Parliament does to the local authorities. We had a discussion the other day about public health, which showed the way in which the Poor Law may be broken up, and in which many other things may be broken up by devolution to county boroughs and county councils, which are recognised as having the status of something more than concerns dealing with merely local interests, and as being more in the nature of local parliaments which would deal with matters of local policy that are appropriate to local parliaments. And so it came that in the year 1902 the country passed away from the notion of ad hoc bodies and accepted the principle of devolution to local parliaments. I only wish it had done it more 1130 thoroughly. There were compromises in the Act of 1902, upon which this Bill does not go back, but compromises which I think marred the effect of the principle. The great local authorities, the county borough councils and the county councils, were well adapted for the functions which were entrusted to them in connection with education, and they are well adapted to-day for having entrusted to them functions connected with public health and with a variety of other forms of public assistance with which we have not dealt. But I repeat that the opposition to the policy of the Bill of 1902 seems to me to have been a Victorian superstition of the Liberal Party, and I look back with some satisfaction to the fact that I myself dissociated myself from that superstition at the time that it came before the other House, of which I was then a Member.
My noble friend Lord Sheffield took yet another point. He expressed the view that the continuation schools should have been administered by authorities which were more strictly concerned with elementary education. He desired to see the continuation schools kept upon the same footing as the line of elementary education which was being pursued by those authorities. Later on I shall have a word to say upon that, but there again, upon that point, I do not think that I wholly agree with my noble friend. But I repeat that it must be a satisfaction to the Government to feel that that strong swimmer in the waters of education, Lord Sheffield, has gone with me in yielding himself to the current of this Bill and striking out in its direction.
It has been said in the course of these debates that things in the Bill are not new, that the details are details which are to be found in clauses and fragments of clauses which belong to earlier Bills. I think that is the case. I myself have been much concerned in educational questions for twenty years, and I recognise many old notions in this Bill, but the mere fact that draftsmen have accumulated clauses of that kind matters very little. The whole point is, how has the author of the Bill, the man who conceived it, got it together and welded the matter into an organic whole? The distinction of this Bill and its distinct quality is that it has been obviously fashioned by one who is himself a master of education from the highest point of view, and who has approached it not from the point of view of elementary education but 1131 from the University standpoint of which he is a distinguished representative. It is the largeness of spirit of the Bill and the way in which it is welded into an organic whole in a new spirit that distinguishes it from previous attempts in education.
One has only to bake one or two concrete illustrations to see how that is so. Continuation schools are nothing new. The name most prominently associated with them is the name of one who is to-day an alien enemy, but who has expressed himself in the past in terms which we should all approve, and who was the author, I may say the first and true inventor of the continuation school system. Dr. Kerchensteiner, of Munich, not only conceived the idea of putting continuation education on a higher footing than it had ever been before and weaving it into the education system of Germany, but succeeded in carrying it into effect in a fashion which caused some of us who were watching and who were very much concerned for the future of our own country a good deal of uneasiness as to the competition to which we should be exposed from a very highly trained kind of workman. But Dr. Kerchensteiner's policy was infected by that which is the characteristic, failure in the German conception. In Germany the system of class prevails; the workman is not encouraged to proceed to higher education. He is marked off strictly as belonging to an inferior class to that above him; and continuation education was marked out and designed as something for artificers who might get certificates, first as journeymen and then as master-workmen.
Now, Mr. Fisher's Bill takes continuation education in a very different spirit. He could not have done otherwise. When first it was proposed to introduce continuation schools into this country, criticism was passed upon the project by a very remarkable body, which has done good work, the Workers' Educational Association, which is closely associated with the idealism of the Labour Party. The Workers' Education Association said, "What we want is that every boy and girl should have a chance of higher education, and we welcome continuation education if and only in so far as it makes provision for proceeding to higher education." When I read the clauses of Mr. Fisher's Bill concerned with continuation education I found all the difference in the world between them and Dr. Kerchensteiner's idea. Mr. Fisher's 1132 idea is to give as much secondary education as he can in connection with the development of elementary education for the poorest as well as for the richest; and I think it is because. Mr. Fisher's Bill recognises continuation education as really of a secondary character that he has not taken the line which my noble friend would have approved, of keeping the continuation schools in the hands of the elementary schoolmaster. It is an alternative fashion in which the poor may climb up to the advantages which are open to the rich. Not only so, but the whole spirit of this Bill is a spirit which aims at obliterating any artificial distinction between elementary and secondary education.
The doctrine which Mr. Cockerton (peace be to his spirit!) succeeded in getting the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice to lay down has been repealed; there is no distinction any more between elementary and secondary education. Education is to be looked upon as one organic whole. That has important consequences when you come to consider the Bill as a whole, and brings out in relief certain defects in it, for which I do not reproach Mr. Fisher but on which I shall be bound to touch in a few moments. But the real foundation of this Bill is to treat education as a whole, and to deny that there is any distinction between elementary and secondary education. They are not of different, kinds; the one is a development of the other; and continuation education is a form of secondary education which is appropriate to the working classes. I am glad to think that thereby the principle contended for by the Workers' Education Association has been vindicated. I think there will be a great deal of the most valuable technical education given in the continuation schools; but, still, what is aimed at is, what is the true foundation of all technical education, the general knowledge. That is the basis on which it must rest if the edifice is to be securely erected.
Then, not only has the Cockerton doctrine gone, but one of the most prominent features of the Bill is that in the higher reaches of the elementary school, when you come to what is called in educational slang "tops," those responsible for the schools are encouraged to develop the teaching in the school into a region which brings it into the secondary sphere. The facilities which are given to enable men and boys to remain up to sixteen if they desire to do so is a change which cannot, if it is followed 1133 out, be without an immense influence upon the elementary schools of this country. They cease to be merely elementary schools, and that must re-act to the advantage of the teachers.
I have instanced these as two great features in this Bill, and I now come to another topic touched on by my noble friend, and which was suggested yesterday by a part of the speech of the most rev. Primate. The most rev. Primate claimed for the Church that it had exercised a vital influence in the development of the education system of this country. So far as my researches have gone I agree with him, but what he said was true not only of this country but of a good many other countries. For a long time the Church was the only body which took any considerable interest in education, and we owe a great deal to the Church. I do think that, in regard to the days that are gone, the most rev. Primate was right in saying that the nation owed obligations to the Church which it should not forget. When I had the honour of occupying the Woolsack for nearly three years, it was my duty to present to a large number of small livings, and what impressed me was that in the remote country districts, so far as I could discover, the parish clergyman was the one figure to whom you could look for something like continuity in keeping up interest in the higher things of the spirit. 1fe did not always do it, I am afraid in many cases he did not do it, but in a great many other eases he did it splendidly, and he was there, a centre from which radiated interest in the schools, and in other things. I was much impressed, and no doubt my noble friend who outlines the Woolsack has been much impressed, with the value of the service which a really good parish clergyman could render as a centre of light and leading in his parish. I would it were always so, and it is certainly often so.
That is just an illustration of what happens when you do not have any proper provision made by the State for the radiation of these subjects. You must fall back on somebody. In the past we have fallen back on the Church, and in the present, I suspect, to some extent we fall back on the Church, as well, and we shall continue to do so. But that, I think, was no reason for raising what was called the religious question in this Bill. I think it was a new reason for silence on the religious question. The religious question was a question which 1134 was of vast importance, and bulked hugely in the Victorian period of which I have already spoken. But that period is passing away, and we are passing into a new period. We are passing into the period of democracy, which is not concerned with controversies which often weighed most keenly among the middle classes, but is concerned in the first case with efficiency in administration. If you get efficiency in administration in the Church schools as well as in the private schools then you will find the controversy becoming very much less acute. The modern view, and it is certainly my own view, is that the parent is entitled to say in what religion the child is to be brought up. If that were to mean that he was entitled to interfere with the good administration of the school, as sometimes happened in the past, then I could well understand an acute feeling arising, but if you have already good system of administration, under which the Church schools, as well as other schools are properly administered, then you will find the controversy dying down, and you will have—I do not like the phrase of "right of entry"—but something like the provision of the religious education which the child's parent desires, and you will find the controversy becoming very much less acute.
As I understand the underlying principle of Mr. Fisher's Bill, it is this, that he has recognised that, and seeing that with the administration of the school system raised to a higher level this question will tend more and more to become less acute, he has left the thing to work itself out. Therefore, if I were asked to advise the Church, which I certainly have not been, I should say let things alone and you will find all you want gradually realising itself in the course of time. Everything depends upon the level of administration being high, and once granted that I think the controversies of the Victorian period which occupied so important a place when the level of administration was low will be found to be controversies that have come to occupy only a second place. Therefore I am entirely in favour of the policy of the Government, as embodied in this Bill, of leaving the religious question severely alone.
My Lords, it is not only in England that that policy has been successful. In Scotland in the education system, which I know fairly well at first hand, the same things has happened We are a very 1135 practical people in Scotland. Two years after the Education Act of 1870 was passed in this country, and fully aware of these controversies we had to pass an Education Act for Scotland, and the Scotsman in that day, and I dare say the Scotsman of to-day would do the same thing, pursued a policy which was characteristic of the nation. They set out in a pompous preamble that whereas it is the right of the people to have their children given such efficient education as they desired, and whereas it had been the custom in the public schools to give instruction in religion to children whose parents did not object, it is important that the education authorities be enabled by this Act to continue the practice. Then you turn to the conclusion of the Act to see what it is that they put in in order to vindicate the rights of the churches and you may search that Act from beginning to end without finding anything which gives any right to anybody. Having put in the preamble the Act remains in silence. There was a conscience clause which did nobody any harm and nobody any good. The result is that we have been able to work out our educational system with practically no religious controversy. It is true there are some things which would sound very odd to people here, where the School Boards have a Roman Catholic majority and the oppressed Protestant has to sit down under it. But we do not worry ourselves about these things. It is a simple illustration that when people do care about education and the level of administration gets up pretty high such controversies become of secondary importance.
I have spoken about what I think are the main features of the Bill, and I want to speak of one or two gaps in the scheme, and when I speak of gaps I do not wish it to be understood that. I speak with the slightest reproach to the authors of this Bill or the Government. They could not do more than lay the foundations, and I think that in this Bill they have laid the foundations as deeply as they could, but still it is only the foundations that are laid in this Bill. For example there are secondary schools. My noble friend Lord Muir Mackenzie, who has taken an immense interest in the public schools of this country, has spoken to your Lordships on other occasions about their value, and I agree with him. The leadership and development in character which our great public schools give has been the envy of Continental nations. True it is 1136 that in many respects our public schools are rather deficient in the mere matter of learning, but they are improving in that. In the training of leadership and character they have a very strong basis in their system. But then these great public schools touch only the merest fraction of the population. What we really lack badly in England—and I emphasise the word "England"—are secondary schools.
Wales has set up its Intermediate Education Board, but then Wales has a magnificent educational spirit. It has been my privilege for the last two years to be the chairman of the Royal Commission on University Education in Wales which has recently reported. The Commission went down to Wales more than once, sojourned with the people there, and imbibed something of their spirit. We became very much moved by what we found there. We found that part of the country—the Principality—moved and permeated by the spirit of education, and I have not the slightest doubt that Wales, given the opportunity, will work out all that is requisite for itself. It has the advantage of a democracy permeated by ideas. When you go to Scotland the case is even more striking. Scotland has now a really admirable system of secondary schools. I am informed by the highest authorities that you cannot put those schools into the places suitable for them too quickly. If you erect a new school it is full at once, and you have to provide another. The working class and the other classes are everywhere taking advantage of the system of secondary education. That is what happens when you have a democracy which has ideas.
I have been reproached—very unjustly I think, but one is not a good judge in one's own cause—for not insisting upon leadership and ideas but in looking to the democracy for inspiration. That is quite untrue. I have all my life believed in putting before the democracy, and pressing upon it, new conceptions, and in no department has that been more strikingly necessary than in the case of education. For the past twenty years some of us have been working at the new Universities. Well, the new Universities have been at last established pretty well throughout this country. There has been an enormous increase of them in the past twenty years, and it has been very marked the way in which, when those ideas were definitely put before places like Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and 1137 Bristol, these people have risen to the conceptions and what advantage has been taken of them. But still an enormous deal remains to be clone there, and what hurts the efficiency of the new University system in this country is the absence of a sufficient supply of secondary schools.
Contrast that with what you find north of the Border. I am speaking of what I know. In Edinburgh, Glasgow, in almost every centre, accessible even to the country districts, are excellent secondary schools. You can go there. Scholarships and facilities are provided. The result has been an enormous development in the last few years. It is quite true we have no Etons, or Harrows, or Westminsters, but what we do have is a set of perfectly admirable secondary schools, some of a less distinguished social character, others of a very good social character, but every class provided for. Such has been their permeating influence that almost everybody who desires to go on with education goes there. Quite lately I was chairman of the Committee of the Privy Council on Scottish Universities and it fell to us to consider an Ordinance for making a new matriculation examination for the Scottish University. As we, were a Committee of Scotsmen we held up our hands and said to our countrymen—" We are shocked. Examinationsa Have Scotsmen not got beyond the stage of external examinations? Do you wish us in the year of grace 1918 to set our hands and seals to a proposition for setting up some more external examinations in Scotland, even if they are handed over to the Scottish Education Department to conduct them on behalf of the secondary schools? "We suggested to them that it might be a better way if, instead of matriculation examinations, they would get rid of them altogether, and look on" record "in the admirable secondary school system in Scotland as the qualification for entering the Universities. It fell to my lot to go down to Scotland and preside over a series of conferences between the heads of the Courts of the Universities on the subject. They jumped at it, and the result is that an ordinance has been passed under which the entrance to the Universities is not to be by matriculation examinations but by the record of attendance in a Scotch secondary school. We have extended that so that pupils from public schools like Eton, Harrow, and Winchester, if they have a good report from the teacher on the way they have profited by their three years there, 1138 will be able to walk through the portals of the Universities, and attain the intellectual standard their abilities entitle them to.
We are growing into a new set of ideas, in which the external examination is being abolished, but it is painful to see how the external examination is being clung to in this Bill. To a Scotsman it is a shock to see that the matriculation examination of various Universities, and examination by other bodies, is to exempt from attendance at the continuation school. It may be necessary to have something of that kind. It may be necessary to make provision for our weak brethren, but it must be remembered it is a provision for our weak brethren, and that the real principle which ought to be followed is "record"; the record of opportunities profited by in the place of education from which you come. Until that is done you will never have a really national system of education in this country.
The difficulties caused by the absence of a good system of secondary schools is apparent in this Bill. Far from reproaching those who drew the Bill for ignoring these difficulties, I am glad they have made them apparent, but I am certain this Bill will be foundational in another sense. It is not merely a Bill for improving elementary education; it is a Bill for bringing out the absolute necessity for a great advance in the provision of Secondary schools. The reproach has been made, I think it was most effectively dealt with by the noble Earl who introduced this Bill, that it ought not to have been introduced in war time. It is a great revolution, and a costly one, but the money is "salvage money," and it is money which we could not afford not to spend. The Bill is really a war Bill. Some of us who have been watching for twenty years considered that there was a much more certain danger from Germany than the danger of the outbreak of war. That might, or might not, have been averted. It depended on circumstances which do not enter into consideration now. But there was one thing that was certain and quite clear, and that is, that Germany, realising clearly her object, had set to work by superior organisation to beat this country- out of the field; and what is more, I believe she would have done it. I am not sure there is anything that could have saved us except the convulsion of this war.
1139 Those of your Lordships who have the leisure to do so will do well to look in the Library at the Quarterly Review for October, at an article on the Baghdad Railway. It is obviously written by an extremely competent writer. At the end of it he quotes a conversation before the war with a distinguished German statesman. The German statesman said to him, "Wara We do not want war. It is quite unnecessary. The peach, when it ripens, will fall into our mouths as we stand below the tree." I think that that was strictly true. I used to watch these things with concern and pain. If we did anything here—and we did some really remarkable things in education here—they were at once repeated and trebled in Germany Money was always found, and, what was more to the point, energy and organisation were found and with our democracy without ideas, and with the painful lack of interest among our governing classes in the great cause of education, they would not listen to those who were deeply conscious of the danger that was growing up.
I am glad to say that we have now got a new chance. It will take Germany a long time before she can get to the level of where she was before the war, and we have been pushed on to a further level. I am quite certain that on the men in the Army the effect of this war—and no one could tell us better than my noble friend who sits opposite and who has been among them—has been to make the men feel that they require new knowledge and a new level if they are to save their country in peace as I believe that they will have saved it in war. If ever there was a measure which was a war measure—a measure necessitated by the war, a measure but for which no victory in this war could have profited us ultimately—it is this Bill, and I congratulate the Government for that reason on having made it a permanent part of their programme, and on having done all in their power to pass it through.
I come to another point, and that is the secondary schools on which I must say a word, because I think that that is a defect in the Bill, so far as it goes. I think that the Bill will have to go further. The principle of the Bill of course is devolution to the local authorities of the service for education. The Education Office simply superintends the process. But, my lords, there is a great deal more which I think will have to be devolved than is devolved 1140 by this Bill. It is not possible for the 319 local education authorities to cope with all the problems of higher education which are devolving upon them in an increasing volume under the change which it is proposed to make in our educational system. There are other questions—questions connected with secondary education, questions connected with the training of teachers, questions connected with scholarships, questions connected with transfers from school to school in the various parts of the country—of a character for local authorities to deal with, for they are too remote for the Board of Education to be capable of effectively grappling with from Whitehall.
In Clause 6 there is recognition of this necessity, and provision has been made for the local authorities working together. But when I look at Clause 6 I find that it is not in as good a form as the original clause in the original Bill as it was introduced into the other House. I know the difficulties that the Government had. I know how they were attacked upon this. I know how the ridiculous and absurd apprehensions of the local authorities came to be awakened, as if they were going to be interfered with, but I am sure none the less that before long you will have to go beyond what you have done in Clause 6.
It is all very well to enable these education authorities to federate. But federate for what? For their own purposes, for the objects to which they are limited. I want to see these local education authorities federating and taking into counsel the teachers of the universities in their localities for much larger educational purposes. I look forward to the day when the Board of Education will devolve the higher concerns of education as well as the concerns of elementary education, even as expanded in this Bill, and continuation education. I think that until you do that you will not have the educational commonwealth in a healthy condition. Still the Government has great difficulties to contend with, and it has gone probably as far as it felt it could do, and I am in the same frame of mind as my noble friend Lord Sheffield. I certainly shall not move any Amendment in committee on this subject but shall be thankful for what I have got.
The physical side of education is recognised in this Bill, and that is quite right; and there are the annual camps. Nobody 1141 realises more than myself the enormous value of these annual camps. We introduced them for the purpose of the Territorial Force, and we still have them in connection with the Cadet Force; but I frankly say I should have liked to have left the education authorities free to introduce the foundations of military forms and military training into these annual camps. I think it is another Victorian superstition that you encourage militarism by doing these things. Do what you like, you will never prevent boys from following military forms, and I suspect girls also after this war is over, and if you shut these things out you lose one of the greatest forms of stimulus to interesting the children in their own education. Therefore I hope that the spirit of the Boy Scouts and the. Cadet Force will be let loose as freely as the limits of this Bill, which are somewhat exiguous, permit in the development of that side of things.
Then there is another point. The continuation school system is admirable. It is really a form of secondary education, which no doubt will be given in connection with technical matters, technical matters being taken as significant of the higher principles which underlie them, and thereby the mind of the apprentices being stimulated. But still continuation schools are, under this Bill, more what the Workers' Educational Association desire and what Dr. Kerchensteiner has set up in Germany. Consequently they ought to afford a means of picking out of the vast reserve of talent, untapped talent, which we have in the children of our working classes, those who are specially deserving of being brought on to the higher line of education, whereby they may go through the secondary schools to the University. The continuation school gives an opportunity of picking out and bringing them across, but the Bill does not in terms establish the ladder by which the selected geniuses may pass from the one category into the other, and I think that before long it will be essential if we are to get the full good of this Bill that that should be developed, either administratively or in the form of another Education Act, recognising the enormous importance of taking the very best of the latent talent which there is among the boys and the girls who are the children of the working classes, and giving it that same development which it would have had had they belonged to a richer class.
1142 Finally, in the Bill itself there is, of course, very little about teachers, and, particularly, very little about women teachers. I have felt for long that the Board of Education may plant, and the Government may water, but it is the spirit of the teacher that will give the increase in this matter, and the spirit of the teacher is a spirit which requires to be encouraged. I gratefully acknowledge that the grants for teachers have been very much increased lately, but still more has to be done and the unrest which is to be witnessed among the teachers of every kind just now is a very significant unrest. I do not think we can over-estimate the importance of getting a well-appointed and well-contented corps of teachers to work the new system. I am certain that it lies at the root of the success of the whole matter. I know again how difficult it is to secure money for these things, and. I am far from reproaching people who have done as much as the authors of this Bill have done.
But yet I would have them do more, because I feel that more is required if this new system is to be made a real success. So far as the system as a whole is concerned I need not say, after what I have already remarked, that the Bill will have my warmest support. It is a great step on. It is characterised by a large spirit, and if it is a Bill which lays foundations, rather than completes the edifice, that is a necessary stage in a process which I am certain will not have ceased to become operative after the reception by this measure of the Royal Assent.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
My Lords, in the journey through the spacious fields of education which the noble and learned Viscount has just conducted with so much sureness of knowledge and skill, he praised the Bill before us because of the spirit in which it was conceived. But there were no words more true in the speech of the noble. Earl who introduced the Bill—a speech which has received so much general and deserved praise—than those in which he said that, after all, the Bill was only a framework, and that its success would depend upon the spirit not so much in which it had been conceived as the spirit in which it would be administered.
There is no doubt as to what that spirit should be. It is the spirit which recognises as the paramount and governing consideration, not the interests of the Board of 1143 Education, or of the local education authorities, or of the teachers as a profession, or of industries in need of labour, but of the actual child—the boy and the girl. The spirit in which we want to administer this Bill is the spirit which is determined to secure for every boy and every girl in the land the fullest possible opportunity for the development of the whole personality—body, brain, and spirit. What we want is that this spirit should prevade the whole community; therefore it is of the utmost importance to interest and to enlist in the cause of national education the largest possible number of our citizens. There has been, I think, in some places and at some times a tendency among local education authorities and even in the great teaching profession to say "hands off" to those who were not actually engaged in the work of teaching or in the administration of educational business. It is obvious that no mistake could be greater. What we want, if this Bill is to be the success we hope it will be, is to interest in the Bill and in its operation the largest possible number of the men and women throughout the land who really care at all for education.
I was rather sorry that the noble and learned Viscount spoke of still being possibly compelled to "fall back" upon the Church. I am sure that he meant only that he and others interested in education would be still most ready to co-operate with the Church. I hope—and the spirit of what he said strengthens the hope—that the day is past when there will be this suspicion and misunderstanding between those who have resolutely contended for the essential value of religious teaching and those who are in the forefront of educational reform. I feel quite certain that what is wanted is that educational reformers should realise that what the Church has stood for is simply that religion is as entitled as any other subject, nay, more entitled because of its intrinsic importance, to the best possible teaching, and above all, by teachers themselves trained and qualified to give it. If there is a recognition of that ideal in all the schools of the country I, for one, share the hopes that have been so frequently expressed in this debate, that the rancours and quarrels and misunderstandings of the Victorian period may be forgotten.
I do not think I wholly agree with the noble and learned Viscount that it is the 1144 success of educational machinery and administration which will dissipate these mists of controversy. It is only what I spoke of just now, the recognition of the intrinsic importance of religion as a subject of teaching in all classes of schools. Then he spoke of Scotland. I do not think what has protected Scotland from some of the evils of controversy in this country was the efficient administration of the Scottish schools. It was rather the general recognition among all classes in Scotland that, keen as they are to get on themselves, they do still recognise, as part of the use and wont of their nature, that man's chief end is to glorify God, and they are really keen upon the religious teaching in their schools.
But that is by way of digression. What I want to emphasise is the great importance, if this Bill is to succeed, of enlisting the largest possible number of men and women in its actual operation, and in carrying out all the varied field of activity which it opens up. I notice with great satisfaction the second section of Clause 4 which provides that the authorities who are responsible for promoting schemes under the Act "shall consider any representations made to them by parents or other persons or bodies of persons interested, and shall adopt such measures to ascertain their views as they consider desirable."
What I hope very much is that during the time in which these schemes are being considered and drawn up the local education authorities will invite the freest possible conference with all who are in any way concerned with the welfare of children, and of boys and girls. If they do, I venture to say just this, that I am sure they will find that what might roughly be called the Church of England, though it is really the managers of the schools and buildings belonging to our different parishes, will be the most ready to meet the authorities with the offer of buildings both for central classes and for continuation schools. Obviously, at the present time, it is not desirable to increase the building operations which this scheme will largely involve, and I am quite certain that there will be a most ready disposition on the part of the Church to offer to the local education authorities in framing their schemes, buildings, which though not perhaps always suitable for public elementary schools, will be entirely suitable for continuation schools or central 1145 classes. What we want is that the local education authorities should everywhere act on behalf of the educational life of the district, not only formally by way of election, but really by way of being a centre of co-operation among all who are concerned in any way with the education of the young.
Again, my Lords, the spirit which will make the Bill a success is one which suspects any rigid bureaucratic uniformity, whether central or local; and encourages freedom, elasticity, and variety of subjects, methods, and schools. Of course, there must be control. It is needless to take up your Lordships' time by dwelling upon that, both because public money has to be properly expended, and because the business of the State centrally and locally is to see that education everywhere is both sufficient and efficient.
But, subject to this, what one welcomes in the Bill is its recognition of the importance of making the system of education flexible and varied. It does so first of all in regard to the public elementary schools themselves. I do not mean merely in the provision made for practical instruction, as it is called, or for advanced instruction, but in the fact that it extends the time during which every boy and girl in the country will be under educational influences. Hitherto the teacher, we know, has been cramped unfairly by the narrow limits of the educational life of the child. He had to assume that its education would come to an end just when it ought to be almost beginning. The result was that in all our schools the tendency was to encourage instruction rather than education, and I need not take up your Lordships' time by pointing out that the two things are very different. Instruction appeals to the memory of the child and is necessarily a diminishing quantity. Education appeals to the intelligence of the child and is necessarily a progressive quantity; but it has been extraordinarily difficult for our teachers because of the cramped limits of the educational life of the children really to take time to educate the children, to get hold of their own intelligences, and make them their own teachers.
I have sometimes been inclined to say in a quasi paradox that the ideal would seem to be for our elementary schools to have the best possible teacher, receiving the highest possible salary, teaching the fewest possible subjects, to the smallest possible class. That would seem more possible 1146 under this Bill than ever before, because the Bill not only raises the status and stipends of the teachers, but makes the elementary school only one stage in a progressive education. I believe that under this Bill it will be more possible for our children to pass out of the elementary schools in what we should all recognise to be a much more satisfactory condition—able, I mean, not so much to answer questions as eager everywhere to ask them; and my hope is that the main functions of the continuation schools will be to continue and develop the sense of curiosity and general interest which the elementary schools, have aroused.
With regard, in the next place, to the new classes of schools established under the Bill, there is also this welcome recognition of elasticity and variety. First with regard to the nursery schools which it is proposed to establish. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Sheffield, to whom many of us have for many years looked for guidance in educational administration, I welcome and do not regret the permission given in Clause 19 to the local education authority to aid the supply of, as well as to supply these nursery schools, and I also welcome the permission given to the Board by grants in aid under proper conditions to help such schools when they are established. I feel that it is of the greatest possible importance that nursery schools, under the management of women who are closely connected with the homes and the mothers of the children, should be encouraged.
Allusion has been made to the nurseries already in existence in connection with schools for mothers and other agencies of the same kind. I think it is a great advantage that these should have an educational character given to them. One shrinks from the thought of elaborating the instruction of infants of two and three, and yet I know what was said by a great leader in educational methods to a mother who complained of the slow advance of her boy, though, she said, she had begun teaching him when he was six years old. The educational expert replied, "Then I am afraid you began four years too late." I think it would be a great assistance to those nurseries that are already in existence if they were compelled to think not only of feeding the children but of actually, from the first, shaping and fashioning the working of their minds. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Sheffield, will see—at least I hope he will—in the working of this clause 1147 that it is of the greatest possible advantage to interest, in the actual teaching of the children, from the first, those who are in daily contact with their mothers and their homes.
Still more in connection with the continuation schools is there scope for variety and for experiment. I agree with what the noble and learned Viscount said. I am quite sure it is best that these continuation schools should be under Part II authorities in the technical terms rather than under Part III, because I think it is of great importance that these continuation schools should in every way mark a new departure, that they should be taken out of any of the ruts into which educational life and administration may have run. Especially I think it is of great importance that the area from which the teachers in these continuation schools are drawn should be enlarged. That is, partly, a practical necessity. It would be extraordinarily difficult to get teachers for these continuation schools, but, more than that, it will, I believe, be of the utmost advantage to the schools themselves that the teachers should be of every kind and class of educational experience. I am quite sure that there is a large number of men and women, themselves well educated and competent to teach, who would be most willing to throw themselves into the work with the opportunities these continuation schools will give.
We all know how many highly educated women during this war have found how much their lives are enriched by being devoted to one branch of service or another. When the war is over they will be eager to find opportunities in which the life of service which they have begun can be continued and fulfilled. I am certain there are many of them—I am speaking especially of women now—who are interested, and capable of spreading interest, in branches of science, history, literature and ethics, who would be very glad to be employed, if only as assistants, in these continuation schools. I am quite satisfied that the intention of this Bill is to open the door of teaching in these schools in the widest possible way. I think it was the Archbishop of Canterbury who said in our discussion yesterday that it would be an extraordinarily difficult thing to secure discipline in these schools, where boys and girls between fourteen and sixteen will be compulsorily brought together; and it will be more 1148 than ever necessary to supplement discipline by developing in every possible way variety in the subjects, variety in the teachers—anything that will stimulate and quicken the interest of the boys and girls.
I notice with particular gratification Clause 3, subsection (2) and I am very glad to notice the provision that, "The local education authority shall have regard to the desirability of including therein arrangements for co-operation with Universities in the provision of lectures and classes for scholars for whom instruction by such means is suitable." I most earnestly hope that, while in every continuation school there must necessarily be at least one highly trained permanent teacher, and in the larger schools a staff, there will be places given by means of these lectures, or otherwise, for the supplementing of the teaching of the school by men and women, of every rank and class, who have special experience, special knowledge, and who are specially competent to teach and interest boys and girls.
Here, also, may I say that I think it would be of great interest if many of these schemes that are presented for continuation schools—I am sure I shall have the sympathy of the noble Earl in charge of the Bill—include experiments in what is called co-education. I think it might be of the greatest possible value to try in these continuation schools to bring the boys and girls together in a sort of natural comradeship of thought and work, which I believe more than anything else may abolish that sex consciousness out of which, at that time of their lives, so much evil is likely to come.
It is in regard to the country continuation schools that I think there is the greatest difficulty, and the greatest need of variety of experiment. I think it was the noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, who pointed out what a difficult administrative problem these country continuation schools will present. In some parts of Yorkshire at any rate I do not see how these continuation schools can be managed unless the boys and girls, living at great distances, are brought together for a certain time in the winter months in some central town at a concentrated continuation school, and, if so, it seems to me that in some places arrangements will have to be made for their board during the time of their instruction. I venture to hope that possibly Clause 21 in the Bill, which provides for the boarding of children at elementary schools, may be 1149 extended to those who are attending continuation schools. That is a detail which I dare say the noble Earl may notice. The point is, that there is no class in the community for whom these continuation schools may do more than the farm boy and the farm girl. The children of the farmer are safe enough. They will probably go to the nearest secondary school, as they do now, but it is the boy and girl in the farm, and on the land, on whom so much of the future depends, that these continuation schools can do so much to help. I think it was the noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, who said that it would be undesirable, even in these continuation schools, to devote too much attention to agriculture, but I venture to think there is a great difference between agriculture as an instrument of education and most other crafts and trades.
After all, agriculture means the production of wealth from the soil. It is the basis upon which all other production rests, and it ought to have a unique educational advantage of its own. I think it was Swift was it not who said—though I do not suppose his words would be echoed by many of your Lordships—that any man who will raise two ears of grain instead of one is doing more permanent good to his country than all the politicians put together. After the discussion earlier this afternoon it is unnecessary to labour the point. It is of extraordinary importance that we should make these farm boys become really skilled workmen upon the land, and men who have a real interest in country life, and a pride in it, and who will feel that to them has been given a place in the community of real value if they are citizens interested in agriculture, and believing that it is the basis of national prosperity. I earnestly hope that there will be such freedom and variety and constancy of experiment in these country continuation schools that they may he a source of supply of those citizens upon the land whom the country so greatly needs.
There are other ways in which this Bill allows great variety of experiment. I would particularly call attention once again—though I think both the noble Lords who preceded me called attention to it—to Clause 17 which permits the local educational authorities both under Part III and Part II, to make grants to supply or maintain or aid the supply or maintenance of holiday or school camps, and to provide facilities for social and physical training in the day or in the evening. I 1150 note particularly the use of the word school camps for young persons attending continuation schools, and I seem to see there a very happy picture rising before me. I see the continuation schools, especially in the country, being taken right out into a camp, and many of the hours that are obligatory being spent in teaching in the open air.
But the value of this clause is, of course, that it recognises the place of leisure in any reasonable system of education. I think that it was said by the late Bishop Creighton that the great object of education was not only to enable a man to get on, but to enable him to use the time in which he was not engaged in getting on. I believe that is profoundly true. This clause opens out a large field of co-operation with the managers of our cadets, brigades, scouts, guides and clubs in our towns and cities. I am sure that it would be an excellent thing for the authorities who manage these continuation schools to be in constant intercourse and co-operation with the managers of these institutions, men and women who are familiar with the homes, the life and the employment of the boys and girls, and who are striving day by day to build up their characters on a basis of self-respect, discipline and of religion. My Lords, I am sorry to have taken up so much of your time. I only desire to emphasise two directions of educational activity to which this Bill gives scope, the one the encouragement of variety in types of syllabus, teachers, and schools, and the other the endeavour to increase the number of citizens actually and personally concerned in educational work, and so to put education in its proper place as an essential part of the life of the whole community.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
My Lords, I do not propose to follow the most rev. Prelate in the careful examination which he has made of the Bill to-night. I have risen merely to indicate certain points on which when we come to the debate before going into Committee we shall ask the Government for further information. I cannot help thinking that the present state of the House is in itself an indication of the disadvantage of the procedure against which we protested two or three hours ago, by which the Government, after asking us to discuss seven other Orders of the Day, two or three of them of great importance, have asked us after many hours of debate to 1151 begin upon the examination of this most intricate and most extensive and, as I think, very little understood measure.
Though I was not able to be present last night owing to another engagement, I have had the advantage of reading the speech made by the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, who introduced the Bill, and I thought the one mistake of that speech was that he endeavoured to show what was done by the Bill. Now, if he had only addressed your Lordships on what was not done by the Bill he would have had a very easy task. There is practically nothing which, by the utmost stretch of the imagination, could be dragged in as part of education (with one exception which I will give your Lordships directly) which has not been placed within the purview of the Board of Education with regard to this measure. But, on the other hand, although I think the noble Earl gave himself unnecessary trouble in his exposition of the Bill his speech, admirable as it was, was singularly deficient in one particular. In a Bill which involves a larger expenditure of money than any Act of Parliament which is remembered by the oldest member of this House, there is not one single figure indicating what the expense will be to the country of this vast revolution.
The utter inadequacy of this debate may be shown by the fact that there has not been any attempt at determination of the enormous charge which is to be laid on the taxpayer and on the ratepayer by the Bill. I know your Lordships are not justified in making proposals for expenditure, but certainly it has not yet been held that we are not justified in criticising expenditure, and I could not help feeling in regard to Clause 17, to which the most rev. Prelate alluded a few minutes ago, that if you take that clause alone—quite apart from the refusal to allow fees to be levied for anything which may be in the minds of a municipal authority or the Board of Education—if you take that clause alone it is so expansive that there is the means for the most profligate expenditure on the part of the municipal authorities in every direction—camps, physical training, equipment, public buildings for school baths, and in general other facilities for social and physical training in the day or evening, involving every kind of institute, everykind of large building, without any further authority by Parliament of any description. I do not think there is any parallel to this 1152 extensive demand on the public purse, to this complete faith in a Public Department. And this at a moment when it is well known that the public expenditure—which I see Lord Inchcape proposes to indicate next week—is likely to be the most serious consideration with which we shall have to deal after the war.
There is only one remark which I would make on that clause. While every other kind of business which is not national is included in the clause the elementary principles of drill which, by every consideration and by all the experience of the past four years, is one of the most necessary things to enable individuals to fulfil a duty which may be laid upon them, is one of the points which is not included in the clause, but which I shall invite your Lordships in the most definite terms to include. I think in this connection I shall have the measure introduced by the noble and learned Viscount in 1907 to support me.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
I thought I had the noble Viscount's pledge almost in writing, but we can examine that when the time comes. There are many points in the Bill which all of us welcome, amongst them being the amendment as to the employment of children and others. But I want to point out two things. In the first place I want to call attention to the unlimited powers which are given with regard to 5,500,000 children and a very large unspecified number of young persons in the continuation schools. If you are dealing with so vast a number you have the right to know the sort of limits within which your liabilities are going to be kept. At present those limits are undefined. Wherever lax language could be used it has been used in this Bill; and to ask your Lordships on July 24 to attempt to introduce order into this Bill which was introduced into the House of Commons on February 25, involves us in the dilemna in which the noble Lord, Lord Sheffield, placed us just before the dinner adjournment, when he told the House that he hoped that any criticism in the way of provisions which would alter the Bill would be taken merely as memoranda for future guidance, but that they were not to be so pressed as to delay the progress of the Bill.
1153 I entirely dissent from that view. I think that if we are to be told that in a few days we are to go through the farce, before an audience of a dozen members out of 650, of registering a few speeches which cannot be listened to by the mass of the House, and which are certain not to be reported in the Press, and that when we get into Committee we are to follow the noble Lord's advice and make a few memoranda for future guidance twenty years hence—I am afraid, with all respect to the noble Lord, that he takes a different view of the duties of the Houses of Parliament from that to which I was brought up when I was a colleague of his in the house of Commons.
There is one remark which I should like to challenge in the speech delivered by the most rev. Primate last night. He said that there was no danger of this Bill being a rigid or a bureaucratic measure. I dare say he may be wise in the use of the word "rigid," but is he sure that the word "bureaucratic" was a felicitous one in the circumstances? I believe that this Bill gives the greatest power to the most gigantic bureaucracy which has ever existed in this country, and which will be housed in the Education Department—a power which enables them to take land for a dozen different purposes; which takes away every financial restriction which Parliament has hitherto imposed; which places in its power and in its ken the whole of the children of this country, almost from the day they were born, from two years old to eighteen; which enables them to set up creches for those who cannot look after themselves and cannot walk, and amusement centres in the holidays for all those who do not want to go home; to provide education for those who require it, further education for those who want to avoid it, and, by a wave of the hand, further education which is not to be restricted if any person does not happen to have the cash with which to pay for it, and which may go on to the age of seventy, as far as I can see, if the Board of Education thinks it is right.
The Bill has, we all know, great merits. The conception is magnificent. But the operation of it is likely, I think, to be one which will cause this debate, which would otherwise I fear go down unsung, to have some record in a suffering country which will wonder why, when some £40,000,000 to £50,000,000 were already being spent on education, a further sum—which is not to be specified, for purposes which it is taken 1154 care should not be defined—was placed upon Parliament at a time when Parliament was moribund, brought to this House at the end of the session, forced through by the action of the Government, after a warning, at the end of an evening which had been devoted to other and most interesting topics, and which is to be disposed of, if the Government can obtain the support and assent of your Lordships to it, in a very few hours of discussion next week.
I am not unfriendly from any point of view to the progress of education. I served for six years on the London County Council, and of all the defects of the bureaucratic and chaotic relations between authorities which I have ever seen, in the course of nearly forty years of public life, those between the Education Department and the local education authorities were, I venture to say—and I could prove it to your Lordships—the greatest. There was nothing in the way of conflict of ideas and of aims which, within the limits of education—which is a very large subject—was not to be found between these authorities. And to increase them tenfold, by a number of provisions which are specific or precise, seems to me to be one of those things with regard to which we ought to have been allowed longer time, in order to bring before those who are concerned the necessity of shaping this measure, in several of its more important provisions, more aptly for the service for which it is intended. My Lords, I have said more than I intended when I rose, but I feel very deeply on this subject, because I believe that the enthusiasm which we all have for a better system of education is likely to lead us into a very serious morass of difficulties as soon as this Bill comes to be put into operation.
My Lords, I will not detain you for more than a few minutes. I cannot claim to speak with the great authority or long experience, or to go into any of the detail which has characterised the speeches to which you have just listened. But I may perhaps helpfully say one or two sentences from a slightly different point of view. The noble Earl who introduced the Bill half apologised to your Lordships' House for the Government at this time bringing in a Bill which was not concerned with the direct prosecution of the war. I cannot be sure that that is not a recommendation. There is a great danger that, with the mass of necessary war legislation and with the eyes of all inevitably strained upon 1155 the present, the claims of the future may be, to some extent, overlooked; and while it is perfectly true that the future depends upon the present to a rather unusual degree, the present is to a certain extent limited and the future is infinite.
The noble and learned Viscount referred to the Army and to the way in which minds had been wakened up by the war. That is perfectly just and perfectly true. Men's minds in the Army have been awakened to a feeling for and a desire for education which is very remarkable and which one cannot but feel is one of the most hopeful signs for the future. Because they have been kept away from the things of the mind and the spirit they do realise their importance more than it was possible for them to do before. My Lords, I cannot in any way claim to speak on behalf of the Army, but I have been, as the noble Viscount said, among the soldiers, and I do know many people, officers and men, who are watching the progress of this Bill through your Lordships' House with interest and sympathy and appreciation, for after all though they can take but little part, they are very vitally concerned, because it is a Bill for their England, for the England of the future for which they are fighting now and to which they will return. There are many people in the Army who view this Bill as the first broad measure of reconstruction—of the reconstruction which will face us all and of the work which will be before the men in the Army to-day when they come back to civil employ. Therefore I wish most heartily and in every way possible to support this Bill.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, before the Motion is put, I would like to be allowed to express in two words my very sincere appreciation of the spirit in which your Lordships have accepted this Bill. We have had an extremely interesting debate, with speeches from those who are perhaps more qualified than any to speak on educational subjects in this country; and there has been in those speeches a remarkable unanimity of appreciation of the principles of this Bill—a unanimity which, I think, must rouse the envy of those who in the past have been responsible for passing Educational Bills through Parliament. We used to regard education as an extremely controversial subject, and I think it is a great tribute to the President of the Board of Education that he should have introduced an Education Bill which has 1156 received so universal a tribute of appreciation.
There was, perhaps, a slight departure from this general chorus of praise in the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Midleton. I make no complaint—a little controversy is always enlivening—and even in his speech I think the criticism was directed as much to the manner in which the procedure of discussion had been arranged as to the Bill itself. I regret very much that the extremely eloquent and interesting speeches made to night should have been delivered in a House with so small an attendance, but I really think that the charge that we have endeavoured to rush the Bill through with undue haste can hardly be supported. We have allowed two days for the Second Reading of the Bill, and I do not see any evidence of such a desire on the part of many noble lords to take part in the debate as would have justified us in giving it another day. It is the desire of the Government to give sufficient time for the consideration of the measure, but having regard to the speeches made I think the time which it is proposed to give for the Committee stage is amply sufficient for the proper consideration of the Bill.
There have been some questions of detail raised in this debate, and I do not for a moment suppose that the absence of criticism means that there will be no difference of opinion about the details of the Bill. I am quite prepared for criticisms to be made on various points as we go through the Bill in Committee. I think in the main, however, that those questions may be left to be dealt with when we get into Committee. I think the noble Viscount, Lord Midleton, if I may say so, attributed rather more to the Board of Education under this Bill than he was quite justified in doing. He seemed to imagine that the Board of Education was going to exercise enormously wide and arbitrary powers over the children of this country from an age before they could walk until they had almost one foot in the grave. But the powers given under this Bill are powers which are going to be exercised in the future, as they have been exercised in the past, by popularly elected bodies, to whom powers in respect of education have been delegated by Parliament. It is quite true that the powers will be carried out under the supervision of the Board of Education, but, in so far as there is a large power of super- 1157 vision over the children of this country those powers will be exercised by the local education authority.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
I do not quite clearly understand. Will there be any control by the Treasury, or is it merely a question between the Board of Education and local bodies?
THE EARL OF LYTTON
I think the question of expenditure will be entirely in the hands of the local education authorities. The noble Lord said that opportunity for profligacy was provided by this Bill. I really do not think the word "profligacy" is justified in this connection. It is true that local education authorities will have large powers of spending money, but we must remember they are responsible to the persons who elect them, and the money they will be spending will be the money of those persons who elect them. I think it is rather late in the day to say we must not give power of spending money to popularly elected bodies for fear that the consequences may be that large sums of money will be spent.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
I do not like to interrupt the noble Earl, but he will surely recollect that in all previous Bills a limit bas been placed upon the amount which can be charged on the rates in a number of instances. All these limits are stow struck away. What I wanted to know is this—Supposing the local authority and the Board of Education agree to spend £10,000,000 on buildings in one year, has the Treasury, which has to provide the money, any power to restrain them? Perhaps the noble Earl would rather answer in Committee. It is an important point.
TEE EARL OF LYTTON
I would rather not go into technical matters, and I speak subject to correction, but is not the noble Lord thinking of a rate limit imposed on educational authorities with regard to their expenditure in respect to higher I education? That certainly has been removed under this Bill. The amounts of the grants made by the Board of Education have been under the control of the Board of Education and under the control of Parliament. I do not, however, think the noble Lord is justified in saying that all previous Education Bills have placed limits on the amount that local education authorities may spend in respect of elementary 1158 education. If I am wrong in that connection I shall be corrected, but I believe that is right.
I quite admit that there was a serious omission from my speech on Second Reading. I did not give to your Lordships any estimate of the expenditure which was likely to be incurred under this Bill. I had to leave out a large number of subjects as it was impossible to deal with everything, and I did feel that it would be extremely difficult to give anything like definite figures as to what this Bill may cost. The cost of the Bill will depend very largely on the extent to which its powers are used. That, again, must depend upon the authority to spend money which the bodies will receive from those who elect them. Figures have been given by the President of the Board of Education in another place indicating, I think, that the raising of the school age and the continuation schools taken together would involve au additional expenditure of something approaching £10,000,000, but that has already been questioned, I think, by Lord Sheffield, who thought the expenditure was likely to be a great deal more. At any rate, it is not an expenditure which can be accurately estimated at the present time.
I should be quite prepared to answer any question as regards that, or any other point, when we are in Committee, but I quite think the noble lord is justified in say in g that this was an omission in my statement on the Second Reading. With that exception I think most of the points raised by noble lords were points which can best be dealt with in Committee. I should like to express my thanks to Lord Sheffield and Viscount Haldane, speaking with such great educational authority, for the approval they have given to the Bill. The criticisms they have made were very helpful and suggestive, and personally I am extremely grateful to them, and to other noble lords who have spoken, for the general tone of approval given to this measure.
Will the noble Earl allow me to make an explanation. What I said was that Lord Crewe, when he was at the Board of Education, estimated the cost of bringing about such changes as are contemplated in this Bill at £10,000,000. I said I thought the President of the Board of Education had estimated that the continuation section 1159 alone would cost £10,000,000, and that I considered the whole cost would be a great deal more than £10,000,000.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
May I ask the noble Earl on what day he proposes to put the Bill down for Committee?