( Mr. William Edward Foster, Mr. Secretary Bruce.)
Committee Progress 4Th July
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Clause 29 (Election of school Board).
said, with reference to the decision at which the House had arrived the previous evening—to have but one school Board for the whole of the metropolis—the words had by mistake been read out as "school Boards," and the error would, of course, be rectified upon the Report. But the conclusion itself which had been arrived at was a most important one. The original proposition made by the Government had seemed, under the circumstances, the most suitable. He did not deny that there were many objections to it, though still stronger objections apparently existed to almost any other alternative. The change that had now been resolved upon was so important that he did not think the Government would have ventured upon it unless they felt that it was supported by the metropolitan Members generally. It had been rather hard upon the Government in carrying an important measure of education that they had been compelled to entertain one or two side questions of almost greater importance, such, for instance, as election by ballot and the government of London. If necessary, he was quite convinced that he could show the House that the course now proposed was the best way of meeting the difficulty in London, but he did not wish to anticipate the discussion which must arise. He had now an appeal to make to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens), for whose assistance in this matter the Government felt much obliged, and that was that he would withdraw the clause on this subject which stood in his name upon the Paper, and allow a clause to be substituted by the Government. The matter was one involving so much grave responsibility that the Committee would naturally expect the details to be worked out by the Government. In the meantime he would move, in page 11, line 1, after the word "Board," to insert the words "except in the metropolis."
said, that as the Committee had been induced to adopt the principle for which his hon. Colleagues and himself contended, of having one school Board substituted for several in the metropolis, he thought it only fitting that it should be left to the Executive Government to work out the details of the plan. It was quite by accident, as his right hon. Friend had stated, that the word "Boards" had been substituted for "Board," and he appealed on this point for confirmation to the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith), whose services in connection with this Bill he could not too strongly acknowledge. He would withdraw his clause, upon the distinct understanding that the election of the school Board should be by the burgesses and ratepayers at large, and not by municipal bodies or vestries.
said, there could be no difficulty in adopting the Amendment proposed by the Vice President of the Council; but, with reference to the Motion which had been adopted on the previous evening, he felt it right to say that he had distinctly reserved his right to discuss the question whether there should be one school Board or more than one school Board for the metropolis. The question was one of such magnitude, difficulty, and delicacy that he should be extremely sorry that the Committee felt themselves precluded from again considering it by a discussion which had not lasted five minutes.
said, he felt it would be unreasonable to expect that all the Members of the Committee should consider themselves pledged to this particular decision. He had merely thought it right to state the view which was taken by the Government.
said, he wished to know what arrangements would be made for polling a constituency so gigantic as the Parliamentary constituency of the metropolis, which was all, it seemed, to take part in the election of the new school Board?
said, that all the arrangements with regard, to the poll would be duly set forth in clauses and schedules to be introduced by the Government.
said, he had to thank the Government for the manner in which they had dealt with this particular question, which was of vital importance to the metropolis. There would be a disadvantage in leaving the management of the schools to 23 separate bodies, and if there were only one school Board a degree of responsibility would be secured which, if there were a great many it would be impossible to attain.
Amendment agreed to.
said, he wished to move an Amendment to the effect that the numbers of which the new Boards were to consist should not be less than six or more than 15. There was a very general expression of opinion that three was too small a number. He would first move in page 11, sub-section 1, line 38, after "shall" to insert "not."
said, he should not object to the number being fixed at not less than five or more than 15.
said, he would point out that as it was provided that one third of the Board should retire every year the number decided upon must be a multiple of three. Otherwise the result would be that the whole of the Board would have to retire, and then there would be an interruption of continuity, which would operate very disadvantageously to the interest of the school.
said, he ought to have called the attention of the Committee to the fact that another consequence of the alteration which had been made on the previous evening would be that the principle of rotation must be given up. The question, under these circumstances, arose whether there should be an annual or a triennial election of the Boards, and in his opinion a triennial election would be better. In making, however, a proposal to that effect the Government must ask the Committee to give them additional powers; for it was possible those Boards might in some districts be disposed to baulk the operation of the Bill, and then the power of dissolution would be one which it might be found expedient to exercise.
said, while approving the suggestion of triennial election, he thought it would not be well to give the Privy Council the power mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman without further consideration. In the event, he might add, of the proposal now made on the part of the Government being adopted, it would be unnecessary that the number of the Board should be a multiple of three.
said, he wished to know how a vacancy was to be filled up in the event of a member of the Board resigning or dying? Was the matter to be left in the hands of the Board, or in that of the ratepayers?
had no idea of leaving such a power in the hands of the Board.
said, he was disposed to regard the term of three years as the best time to fix upon; but he strongly objected to such a power as that of dissolution being placed in the hands of the Privy Council.
said, he was of opinion that it was impossible the body who elected the school Boards should determine what their number should be, and that the matter was one which it would be better to leave to be decided by the Education Department.
said, he did not think there would be any difficulty in the country parishes in convening meetings of the ratepayers for the purpose, while it would be perfectly easy for Town Councils in boroughs to settle the matter.
said, he must suggest that there were towns with as many as 20,000 or 30,000 inhabitants which had no Town Council.
said, he thought the difficulty might be obviated by the insertion of the words—
"As may be determined in the first instance by the Education Department, and afterwards from time to time by a resolution of the school Board to be approved by the Education Department."
said, this would meet his own view as expressed in the two Amendments of which he had given Notice.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (Mr. W. E. Forster) agreed to.
said, with reference to the officers directed to summon the elective body, he would beg to move in page 12, line 11, to leave out the word "churchwardens" in order to insert the word "overseers." In many townships, he might remark, there were no churchwardens.
said, he would suggest that it would be better to insert "or other officers" after the word "mayor." He thought that "churchwardens" should stand.
said, he thought this question of education ought to be quite distinct from Church matters.
said, he thought it would be better for the overseers to act wherever they could do so. It was certainly not desirable to produce the false impression that the matter was connected with the Church.
said, he would point out that churchwardens were ex officio overseers. He believed that overseers as such scarcely ever summoned meetings.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 30 agreed to.
Clause 31 (Disqualification of member of Board).
said, he proposed to make the clause more stringent. He moved, in line 24, after "them" to insert "and no partner of any member or manager, nor any person on the behalf of either of them."
intimated that he would alter the latter part of the clause to meet the views of the hon. Member.
said, he would beg to move after the word "mayor," to insert the words "or town clerk," so as to make the town clerk, as well as the mayor, eligible to sit on the school Board.
said, he thought it was undesirable to adopt the Amendment. The town clerk would be the most likely person to be elected secretary to the Board.
said, he knew a borough where the town cleric would be the most fitting man to be on the school Board.
said, he thought it would be better to leave the matter open, and omit the words "or the body electing them."
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment proposed, in line 24, to leave out the words "other than that of mayor."—( Mr. W. E. Forster.)
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment proposed, in line 26, to leave out the words "or the body electing them."
Amendment agreed, to.
said, he would accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Brogden), and move in page 12, after line 33, to insert the following sub-section:—
"The insertion of any advertisement relating to the affairs of any such school Board in any newspaper in which such member has a share or interest."
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 32 (Disqualification of member of Board).
Amendment proposed, in page 13, after line 8, to insert—
"The school Board shall not, upon making such appointment of any officer or teacher, apply to him or her any test as to any particular religious doctrine or denominational tenet distinctive of any religious body or sect."—(Mr. Haviland-Burke.)
said, he appreciated the object of the hon. Member, but thought that nothing would really be gained by the insertion of the words. He thought the Amendment, if inserted, would remind the Board of those differences which he should like to see cease.
said, he believed the Amendment would do mischief, and give no real protection. It might just as well be expected that the school Board would require the schoolmaster or schoolmistress to dance a hornpipe.
said, he conceived that some little protection was afforded by the Amendment.
said, he trusted school Boards would ask no such questions. If the Amendment was agreed to it could easily be evaded by a member of the Board getting a friend to put the required questions to the teachers in the streets.
said, there was nothing in the Bill to prevent the school Board putting such a test as the Amendment referred to, and he, therefore, regarded the proposed provision as important.
said, that these matters must be left to the good fueling of the Board. Such an enactment was sure to be inoperative, for he thought that if the Amendment were inserted in the Bill, it was quite possible that its terms might suggest to school Boards the possibility of evading the enactment by imposing a test before taking into consideration the appointment of the schoolmaster.
said, after the discussion on the 14th clause, he had come to the conclusion that tests were worse than useless. They must trust somebody, and they could not do better than trust the schoolmaster, who had the greatest interest in maintaining the character of his school.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 33 (Formation by Education Department of united districts).
Amendment proposed, in line 11, after "larger" to insert "or smaller."—( Mr. Holt.)
said, he had an Amendment on the Paper which would enable the Education Department to unite "parts of school districts" as well as whole school districts, and would thus solve the difficulty. Such a provision would be absolutely necessary to make the Bill work in South Wales. His own parish consisted of a considerable agricultural district, and, on the other side, of a vast tract of mountain land, a small strip of a mineral district, and it would be as impossible to work these two divisions as it would be to work a parish, part of which was in Calais and the other part in Dover.
said, he had an Amendment on the Paper which he thought would meet the case—his pro- posal being that the Education. Department might divide any parish or borough which, either because of its size or situation, could not be managed by one school Board, into two or more small districts. There were several parishes either so large or so divided that he was quite satisfied it would be impossible to work them under the Bill as it stood.
said, there were several reasons why the Government could not accept the Amendment. No doubt in some cases the clause as it stood would create some inconvenience, but they must consider the position in which they found existing divisions. They might originally have taken the Union instead of the parish as the unit; but there were such difficulties in the way that the idea was abandoned, and it was then found that small parishes also presented some obstacles to a smoothly and efficiently working measure. Therefore, they took power to unite parishes to any extent which might seem necessary. If the Amendment was acceded to, from every district they would have applications to divide, for almost everywhere they would find clusters of individuals who would say they had provided schools for their part of the parish, and would ask not to have the responsibility of the schools of other parts thrust upon them. Thus in not a few instances they would find the portion of the district which, being well able, had naturally supplied the want of educational machinery, demanded to be separated from those quarters of the district which, being poor, were unable to relieve its educational destitution, and they would have to try the dispute between those conflicting interests. He feared they must adhere to the responsibility which was acknowledged as a whole to belong to a parish for rating purposes. There was doubtless a degree of injustice involved in all those instances in which people were taxed for their neighbours, as, for instance, in any kind of poor rate. Yet nobody complained of the injustice of being taxed for the poor. He did not think they could undertake the responsibility of dividing the districts upon the principle of relieving those who had performed their duty, and of leaving all the responsibility on those who were practically unable to perform it. However, in another part of the Bill they exempted parishes which had provided for themselves beforehand. If they were to divide the country into small districts they would be obliged to go on dividing it into still smaller. The case in Wales of large parishes with great natural divisions was peculiar, and he would be glad if some plan could be devised of meeting such special circumstances. It was suggested by his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Melly) that they should take the ecclesiastical division, but that was deficient in not being available for purposes of rating, and was further objectionable, because it would allow the Church to take the whole of a certain portion and leave the rest, which might be inhabited by the very poorest, to bear the whole burden. In conclusion, he was afraid they could not get rid of the fact acknowledged and the law of the country—that a parish was a unit having certain responsibilities from which it could not be relieved. Wherever there was a separate township assessed for the purposes of rating, advantage would be taken of it.
said, he would put the case of ecclesiastical parishes, many of which he knew in the South of England, which had been cut out of two or three large civil parishes. There was a church and a school, with adequate accommodation, provided by the subscriptions and exertions of the clergyman and inhabitants; but they were now told they would have to be rated for the adjacent civil parishes, and their school would have to be under the school Board, perhaps of a neighbouring town. He thought that was a case of great hardship. There was, he was aware, the rating difficulty, but it was not insuperable. In the analogous case of drainage being required in one portion only of a parish, a separate drainage district was formed, the rate was apportioned and the difficulty got over. This was really a parallel case, and the rate might be apportioned also. It was not there, as had been said, that these ecclesiastical parishes were usually the richest parts of the civil parishes, on the contrary, they were often formed of the most remote, poor, and neglected portions, for the express purpose of bringing amongst the people, a church, a school, and the conditions of civilization. This would strike a blow at the voluntary system, as subscriptions and rates could not exist together.
said, Clause 41, providing that the Education Department might direct one school district to contribute to the maintenance of the schools of another district would to a very great extent, do away with the difficulty.
said, that the formation of a drainage district could not be made except with the consent of the entire parish, and the two objects were wholly dissimilar. No doubt the difficulty was to a certain extent met by the Contributory Clauses, and the Department in forming the school Boards would bear in mind the peculiar circumstances of each case.
said, he thought that the successful working of the Bill would depend a good deal on the nature of the district, and his fear was that in many cases these would be too small, though he quite agreed that the parish was better than the Union for the purposes of rating. The cases would prove very rare in which it would be desirable to divide a parish, but cases would be endless in which a small parish would be too small. He thought his right hon. Friend must have some scheme in his mind by which the difficulty might be met and this portion of the Bill made to work.
said, it was absolutely impossible to lay down any strict rule, as the different districts must depend greatly upon extent and population. Reference had been made to some extensive parishes in Wales, and he himself was likely to feel that difficulty keenly. He lived at the extremity of two parishes, each about eight miles in length; he had done his best to supply the ends of those parishes nearest him with schools; but now, under the Government Bill, he would be taxed for the support of schools at both their further extremities. It was impossible to make a rule for every case, but as regarded parishes passing over a range of mountain, and having at one end a population which belonged, geographically speaking, to the neighbouring district, they would naturally avail themselves of Clause 41, and contribute funds for the education of their children in the parish adjoining their own.
said, that if his right hon. Friend would only consult his draftsman he might find some way out of these difficulties and inconveni- ences, which were likely to be numerous. Take, for instance, the case of a town spreading into a rural parish, the bulk of the population of the rural parish living at the further extremity. Convenience would be all in favour of treating the suburb as part of the town, if the Bill enabled this to be done.
said, he had spent many hours in consultation with the draftsman on this very point, but he did not see what more could be done than the Bill already attempted. Hon. Members would not forget that the definition of parish, including what in England was understood by a township, would meet many of these cases, though in the more mountainous regions of Wales he admitted that the definition would not equally apply. No doubt, in suburbs of large towns there would be a certain hardship and inequality, but not as great as that already felt with regard to the poor rate. A man might eventually escape a heavy poor rate by having to pay a large education rate.
said, he was of opinion that the unit of rating area might sometimes be too large, and it was essential in such a case that a special school area should be formed out of it. He did not think sufficient weight had been attached to the precedent afforded by the drainage districts.
said, he came from a district which was situated very much like South Wales, and he hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman would maintain the clause as it stood. He felt sure it would be better to make children go some distance to a good school than to create a number of inferior schools. In Cumberland and Westmoreland there had been an increase in the number of small schools to the detriment of education.
said, there were many cases in the North of England where parts of parishes were separated miles from each other. He thought the necessities of a detached portion of a parish would be more readily met by the Contributory Clauses than by the Amendment now proposed.
said, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) had not answered the questions put by his right hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Mr. S. Cave). In cases where an outlying part of a parish happened to belong to a town, though geographically separated from it, and where proper schools had been established in that part of the parish, the managers desired to know—first, whether they would be obliged to contribute towards supplying the wants of the neighbouring town, for which they were in no way responsible; and, secondly, whether their school was to be under the control of the school Board of the neighbouring town?
said, it was a principle of the Bill that voluntary schools should not come under the operation of the School Board Clauses. Moreover, no parish could be fastened on to a town without being afforded an opportunity of having its objections fully considered by the Education Department. With reference to what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shoreham (Mr. S. Cave) he begged to remind the right hon. Gentleman that there was a great difference between a drainage rate and an educational rate. A drainage rate was only sanctioned by Parliament upon a requisition being made to that effect by a resolution of the whole parish. In case of an education rate, however, it was not likely that they would get a resolution of the whole parish, because part of a parish might wish to escape its liability to meet the necessities of the other part of the parish, and it would be unlikely that this would be assented to by the other part of the parish. Although it had been the object of the Government to prevent the idea going abroad that pauperism was connected with the education question generally, yet they deemed it advisable to connect the education rate with the poor rate, because they hoped and believed that the poor rate would diminish in proportion as education was extended. He really thought there was a principle involved in the proposal of the Government.
said, this was not a mere question of rating, but of working the Boards for educational purposes; and as the Bill at present stood, it would altogether fail to meet a number of cases. He might refer to the town of Heywood, in Lancashire, which contained about 200,000 inhabitants. It was situated at the junction of three parishes—one of which included a portion of the borough of Rochdale; the second pariah, passed on to the borough of Bury, and the third adjoined Middleton. Surely the school Board appointed to deal with the educational requirements of that town ought to be a unit.
said, the Bill provided that where a parish was partly within and partly without a borough the part situate outside the borough might be treated as a separate parish.
said, he rose to move an Amendment which, in his opinion, would tend to secure the independence both of the ratepayers and of the school Boards in small districts. He begged to move, in page 13, line 15, after "district," to insert—
"And the Education Department shall (except in the case of populous parishes containing not less than 7,000 inhabitants) cause a united school district to be formed by the grouping of parishes, such school district to contain in the aggregate not less than 7,000 inhabitants, and upon such union shall cause a school Board to be formed for such united school district."
said, he objected to the clause on the ground that it would unduly fetter the discretion of the Education Department, which was sure to be desirous of making the districts as large as possible.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he wished to ask whether any union of parishes could take place without notice being given and a local inquiry held?
said, that the union of districts under the operation of the clause would not be carried into effect without due notice, or without the power of protest being conceded.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 34 to 39, inclusive, agreed to.
Clause 40 (Small parish).
asked whether, in the case of a small parish where there were no children, it would be united with an adjoining parish for the purposes of a school district, and so would be rated for an object from which it would derive no benefit?
said, that if a parish were in that blessed state of being without children—and he had now almost got to consider children as his natural enemies—that parish would be left alone.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 41 to 44, inclusive, agreed to.
Clause 45 (School fund of school Board).
LORD ROBERT MONTAGU moved to define the grants by inserting the words "granted by the Education Department." The clause would then run thus—
"All moneys received as fees from scholars, or granted by the Education Department out of moneys provided by Parliament."
said, the grants were not made by the Education Department, but by Parliament. He promised to consider the words proposed.
reminded the Vice President that the money was not granted by Parliament to each school. A large sum was voted by Parliament, out of which grants were made to each school by the Education Department according to the discretion of the Minister.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
SIR HENRY HOARE moved to report Progress. ["Oh, oh!"] He made the Motion after consulting the hon. Members around him. There were some very important Amendments to be moved in this clause, which involved the whole question of rating, and he asked whether it was reasonable to proceed with the discussion at that hour. ["Go on!"]
said, he would appeal to the hon. Member to withdraw the Motion. The discussion on the clause might not be finished, but at all events they could go on with it for half-an-hour.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he would propose in page 16, line 24, to leave out "any deficiency shall be raised by the school Board as provided by this Act," and insert—
He said that while he concurred in the principle of the Bill, he did not agree with the mode or means by which the object was sought to be attained. On looking at the Bill, he found it was a Bill for the public elementary education of the people; the obvious inference would be that the public would pay for it. He contended that education was a national duty and responsibility, and therefore a national obligation. The requisite expenditure should be wholly defrayed from contributions levied from the community at large, all classes were equally interested. Every man should therefore pay according to his means, and every description of property should pay its fair quota. When the Bill was introduced it contained a clause (84) which professed to limit the rate, and the Vice President had said that it would not exceed 3d. in the pound, but the Committee had no guarantee for that assertion. In the Bill, as amended, they had no security for that. They were told it would not exceed 3d., but that was no security. He contended that the principle on which Government Grants were to be made should be incorporated in the Bill, so that the Committee might know whether the payment was to be for results or by capitation grant. They ought to have something stable and statutory, and not to depend on the whim and caprices of every successive Educational Department. The Revised Code was the master-key of their position; without it they were sailing without a mast, they were a ship without a rudder. No Bill was ever presented to Parliament so lax, so loose in its provisions—Parliament was never before asked to place such implicit faith, hope, and confidence in any Department of Government. The right hon. Gentleman asked the Committee to give him a blank cheque, which was treating hon. Members like the children whom they were seeking to educate; they were told to shut their eyes, open their mouths, and be thankful for anything the Educational Department would give them; and the powers in this Bill were monstrous. They were absolute, arbitrary, unparliamentary, and unconstitutional. Talk of local administration and local control, it was a delusion and a myth. Local Boards would be mere machines and instruments to find the sinews of war and carry out the instructions of the Educational Department. He used to think that the President of the Poor Law Board was the greatest autocrat in the House, and the only man who could make an Act of Parliament without the permission of the House of Commons, but the President of the Poor Law Board when first created, was only a bashaw With one tail, though other appendages had since been added, compared with the Great Mogul who would be created by this Bill, and who ought to be much more infallible than the Pope. The Vice President had said that the rate would not exceed 3d. in the pound; but he would be glad to have some proof that it would not exceed this amount. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider what would be the effect of this Bill on a parish with 300 inhabitants, 50 children who would go to school, and a rateable value of £2,000. The cost of the school and the schoolmaster's house and the site would be £500, which he supposed might be borrowed for 30 years at 6 per cent. The expenses would be these—the annual payment of principal and interest, £30; 50 children at 30s. each, £75; repairs, furniture, books, apparatus, &c., £10; total, £115. The receipts would be—from Government 50 per cent, of the expenses of the children, £37 10s.; from 50 children, 2d. each for 40 weeks, £17; rate at 3d. in the pound on £2,000, £25; total, £79 10s., which would leave a deficiency of £35 10s. Another rate of 4½d. in the pound must be levied in order to make up the deficiency. Take a larger parish with a rateable value of £4,000, a population of 600, and 100 children; the cost of a building could not be less than £750, the expenses would be as follows:—Annual payment on building account, £45; 100 children at 30s. each, £150; repairs, furniture, and apparatus, £20; making a total of £215. The receipts would be—the Government Grant, equal to half the cost of education, £75; the children's pence, £34; and a 3d. rate on £4,000, £50; making a total of £159. This left a deficiency of £56, or more than the amount of another 3d. rate. Thus in one case a rate of 7½d. was required, and in the other of 6d. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would notice these figures, which were substantiated by his own (Sir Massey Lopes') experience, and he was connected with several schools, and had himself built two or three. He based his chief objection to the rating principle of this Bill on this fact—that it imposed a fresh impost, a novel rate exceptionally upon one description of property alone. He asked, was education for the benefit of the nation at large, or only for the advantage of one interest or class—one small section of the community? What had lately added so much impetus, and given such stimulus to the almost universal desire for the extension of education, made this want absolutely and imperatively necessary? They had handed over—not only entrusted—political power to the masses of the people, and had given them a preponderating influence in public affairs; they felt that their possession of that power would be a danger to the State unless they enabled them to use it beneficially for the common weal; if that power was abused, or not rightly directed, the stability, security of all property would be weakened, the prosperity and safety of all classes would be endangered; and as it was an axiom that the man who reaped a benefit should bear the burden, why was the burden in this instance to be borne by one description of property alone? Both sides of the House had great ground of complaint against the Government, who, last year, promised to bring in a Bill to deal with local taxation, and refused a Royal Commission because it wanted to deal with the question speedily, and who had appointed a Committee, the scope of whose inquiry was so restricted that it did not at all touch the vital principle. The Government did not appear to have been in earnest, or acting in good faith; they had added injury to injustice; when asked for bread, they had given a stone; when asked for a remission of taxation, they had imposed new taxation; when asked to loosen fetters, they had exercised ingenuity in riveting them more securely. How had local burdens of late years become so oppressive? By their pursuing precisely the same course as they were about to take now. It is not only by the augmentation of old charges, but by the imposition of new ones totally unconnected with the poor rate. If there was to be a compulsory rate, every description of property ought to contribute to it, and there ought to be no unjust exemptions and no impolitic privileges. Admitting the object to be good, he would cheerfully pay any amount of rate, provided it was spread fairly over the whole community, and each man paid according to his means. If religion were not ignored in this scheme of national education, he believed nothing would more tend to improve the morals of the poorer classes, and diminish pauperism as well as crime. The right hon. Gentleman said that one of his reasons for imposing the rate upon one description of property alone was that it would decrease pauperism. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he was of opinion that pauperism would, by these means, be decreased in the same proportion as it had increased during the last three years—namely, by about £1,250,000. He sympathized with those who had hitherto been contending for religious equality under the operation of this Bill, and he called upon them to assist him in trying to get rating equality. His contention was that national education was a national responsibility, and that being a national responsibility, it ought to involve universal liability. In conclusion he moved his Amendment."Any further requisite amount, whether for satisfying past or future liabilities, shall be paid as provided by this Act by rating authority out of the local rate: Provided always, that the sum so paid for this object shall not exceed in any one year the amount of one penny in the pound on the rateable value of the area included in the school districts."
said, what they wanted to know was the maximum of the educational rate that would be asked for. One ground on which they ought to know it was that building grants were to be abolished, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council would use his newly-acquired influence in the Cabinet to obtain some security in this respect. In the Bill, as originally printed, there was a clause which provided that an additional Parliamentary Grant should be given in certain cases where the rate did not come up to 10s. per child; but he failed to find any such provision in the Bill as reprinted. He represented a large agricultural county (Suffolk), in which there was a strong feeling on the subject of local taxation, which increased year by year, which, in 10 years, had increased by nearly £3,000,000, and which, between 1868–9, had increased by about £175,000. On these grounds, he should support the Amendment.
said, local rates were greater burdens in towns than in counties, and he should vote for fixing a maximum on the broad principle involved in the remark of Mr. Cobden, that—
This was the principle he (Mr. Liddell) would apply to school Boards, for if they had unlimited power of levying rates, there would be no security for their economy. It was desirable either to fix a maximum or to separate this particular rate from other rates, and call it the education rate. Then the ratepayers would know what they paid for the purposes of the present Bill, and at the election of school Boards special attention would be paid to the rate and means taken to limit it. The limit proposed by his hon. Friend (Sir Massey Lopes) might probably be shown in subsequent discussions to be too low; but he should like to nail the Government to their proposition that the rate should not exceed 3d. in the pound."All Governments are profuse in their expenditure; I have faith in no Government on that point, and, if you want to make Government economical, you can always do it by stopping the supplies."
said, that this important question would be raised afterwards on an Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt), and he thought it had better be discussed then, and that the present clause should now be passed. He should, at the proper time, feel bound to show that it was not probable that any charge for the purposes of the Bill would exceed 3d. in the pound. With regard to the figures of the hon. Baronet (Sir Massey Lopes), he must, at the first blush, dispute most of the items; but he would look into the matter with the view of ascertaining whether or not it would be necessary to bring back into the Bill a maximum clause. But he would remind hon. Members that a rate lay at the very foundation of the measure, and if they did not get a rate, they could not have compulsory provisions in respect to schools, unless at the expense of the central funds of the State. He was aware that objections were taken to the incidence of rates; but that matter was being inquired into by a Committee, and he did not understand that it was desired on any side that the question of education should be postponed until a decision was come to on the subject of rating.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.