Committee Progress 5Th July
( Mr. W. E. Forster, Mr. Secretary Bruce)
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Clause 45 (School fund of school Board).
Proceeding resumed on Amendment proposed [5th July], in page 16, line 24, to leave out the words "any deficiency shall be raised by the School Board as provided by this Act," in order to insert the words—
"Any further requisite amount, whether for satisfying past or future liabilities, shall be paid I as provided by this Act by rating authority out of I 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."—(Sir Massey Lopes.)
Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
said, he wished to state the grounds on which it was impossible for him to support the Motion of the hon. Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), and on the other hand to express his dissatisfaction with the withdrawal of the provision limiting the rate to 3d. in the pound. Those who heard the close of the debate on Tuesday last would remember with great satisfaction the able remarks which were made by the hon. Baronet, and the very strong case he made out against an increase in rates, looking to their present most iniquitous incidence. Still, the case of the country was not stronger than that of the towns, and he was exceedingly glad the sting was taken out of what fell from the hon. Baronet by the speech of the hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. Liddell). To some extent, he questioned the figures adduced by the hon. Baronet. They were both school managers—one in the country, and the other in the town, and that was one reason why their experience might differ. The First Lord of the Treasury was rather incorrect in the general statement that the expenditure was 30s. per child, for that figure covered the expenses of the Department and of its inspection, and, deducting these, the cost of education might be set down at 27s. a child. The hon. Baronet spoke of a school for 100 children in a parish, the rateable value of which was £4,000, and the population 600; and he put down the cost at £215 a year. By taking 27s. instead of 30s., he reduced this amount by £15. The Consolidated Fund would pay £75; the school-pence would produce £34; a rate of 3d. would yield £50; and the deficiency would be £66. He agreed with this; but the hon. Baronet proposed that the parish should pay only 1d. in the pound, which on £4,000 would produce £16 13s., and that it should come on the nation for a balance of £165. Thus the ratepayers would guarantee a maximum of 1d. in the pound or £16 13s., and would spend £215; but they would not stop there. The Vice President of the Council had said that the rating principle was at the bottom of the Bill, and it was understood that the 3d. rate was generally accepted; but precaution should be taken to make it certain that the rate would not exceed that amount of 3d. in the pound. As the Government had given up the building grants, through the means of which they exercised some control as to the proper building of the schools, he suggested that they should lend money for the purpose at 3½ or 4 per cent, and then they would be placed in the same controlling position as that they had abandoned by giving up the building grants. Many of these schools, destined for the education of the most wretched and dirtiest class of the community, would prove failures unless they were supplied, especially in large towns, with complete sanitary arrangements. If ever there was a national object for which the national funds might be applied, it was surely the advancement of education. Drainage was not more important than education, and yet loans at 3 per cent, repayable in 30 years, were made by the Government for the purpose of draining. If he were asked from what funds the money which he proposed should be lent for building schools was to be drawn, he would remark that the Savings Banks balances might well be employed for the purpose, and the security would be ample, as the rates and school-pence would, be pledged for the interest, and the sites of land, ever increasing in value, would be security for the capital. At the same time, education would, as they all knew, diminish the police and poor rates, and, consequently increase the power of the ratepayers to pay the education rate. He should support the re-insertion in the Bill of the 3 d. maximum, and he could not imagine why it had ever been knocked out; but he would oppose the proposal for a 1d. rate, as being utterly insufficient. National education was, as the hon. Baronet well said, a national responsibility, and ought to involve universal liability; but the doctrine that taxation and representation went together was a safe doctrine, and, under the limitations he had urged, he thought the Committee would hardly be inclined to leave the management of the schools in the hands of the locality if the liability of the locality was to be limited to £17 out of £165, or only 10 per cent.
said, that what he objected to was not so much the rate itself as the levying it only on one particular kind of property. When it was proposed to levy a special local tax for a new purpose, he could not understand why it should be levied on one class of property alone when it was allowed that all the community would be benefitted by the expenditure. In the United States, the expenditure for the common school system was borne by a percentage levied equally on all kinds of property; and in the State of Virginia, not only was this principle adopted, but a poll-tax of $1 per head was also levied on all the registered voters. In Upper Canada, the Provincial Legislature voted an annual grant for teachers' salaries and school furniture on condition that an equal sum should be supplied from local sources, and the burthen thus locally borne was placed on all kinds of property. Now, why should that system not be applied under this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) might plead that at the present moment a Select Committee was considering the whole question of local taxation; but he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) believed the fact to be that that Committee was not considering what class of property should be liable to local taxation, but whether local rates should be divided between owner and occupier, and in what proportion they should, be borne by them respectively. That inquiry in no way touched the question whether real property should alone bear the burden of local taxation. This was a question which the Government would be compelled to take into their consideration next Session: yet they selected this very time for proposing to levy a new tax entirely on real property—a tax which was quite unknown in any other part of the world. He thought this new rate should have been placed on some more fair and equitable basis—if nothing better could be suggested the basis of the income tax might have been selected; but to propose that it should be levied on real property alone would be felt to be most unfair and unjust by a large class of Her Majesty's subjects.
said, it appeared that they had left the religious difficulty behind only to enter upon a new difficulty quite as great—namely, the pecuniary difficulty of this Bill. The proposal of the Government in Clauses 45 and 46 was to establish a school fund and determine how it was to be raised. In the first place, there was to be paid into that fund a certain amount from school fees; secondly, there was to be paid into that fund a certain amount from Imperial taxation, and the whole residue, whatever it was, was to fall on local taxation. This question seemed to him, more than any other, the mainspring of the whole measure. They might arrange the machine as they pleased, but if the spring would not work the machine would be worthless. He very much questioned whether the pecuniary arrangement of the Bill was such as would prove effective. On whom would the portion of the fund to be derived from local taxation mainly fall? Owing chiefly to the financial genius of the First Minister of the Crown, he believed they were now raising an amount of Imperial taxation from the people of this country with less oppressiveness than ever attended the levying of any similar amount of taxation on any other nation in the world. The policy of Sir Robert Peel was to remove the burden of taxation from articles of necessity, and to relieve more particularly the poorer classes of the population. There was still much to be done in that direction, and he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would before long be able to give the wage-earning class the benefit of a free breakfast table. But local taxation was not administered by Parliament or by Chancellors of the Exchequer, who understood the principles of finance, and he believed; that the present state of our local taxation was a disgrace to the country. It was unequal in its incidence as regarded classes, and unfair in its incidence as regarded property. It was impossible to defend it on any principle of reason or justice. The difference between local and Imperial taxation reminded him of nothing so much as the cleanliness of the Dutch people. They made their rooms extremely clean, and swept all the dirt under the bed. We had carried our system of Imperial taxation to great perfection, and swept the whole of our financial rubbish under the bed of local taxation. We had in the result arrived at a chaos of blundering injustice, which must very soon end in parochial insolvency. Was that the basis on which they should levy a new burden? It was not a question between land and town. It had been thought just and necessary to take the tax off corn; but house rent was an article of first importance to the poor man. It was the first necessity of life. It meant the decent comforts of his family, the health of his sons, and the virtue of his daughters; and it was upon that they were going to place this heavy burden of a new tax. For the increased rate meant nothing but an enhanced house rent. He might be told that in the case of poor people they could remit the rate; but of all forms of almsgiving remission of rates was the most demoralizing; and while remitting the rate to the careless and improvident, they would have to levy it on the thrifty and provident artizan, who was able to pay only because he was more industrious and self-denying than the good-for-nothing, to whom it was remitted. Such was the nature of the tax; and on what districts would it fall? On the poorest districts—on the East of London—on the slums of Liverpool, and places of that kind, which had the fewest schools, because they were the least able to provide them. They were going to levy this new tax principally in the most neglected parts of the country, which were least able to bear the burden. That was not all. In those districts the people would not be able to pay school fees, and the consequence was, the rate would not only have to build the school where there was no school, and to support the schoolmaster, but to pay school fees also. Who were to pay these school fees? The provident artizan, who was to pay the fees of the improvident artizan, who made himself by his own conduct so poor that he could not pay school fees for his own children. The consequence of this state of things would be to make the whole system of the Bill stink in the nostrils of the people, who would reject it with disgust. If they did not limit this rate, and give the people an assurance that the new burden would not be such as they feared it would turn out to be, they would do a most unjust and impolitic thing, which would render the whole measure of national education absolutely unworkable. Nor did he believe, as had been suggested, that the Government could and would step in if the localities failed to do their duty. The same promise was made in the case of the pollution of rivers, but nothing had ever come of it. If they wanted to float this Bill, if they wanted to get the ship over the bar, they must lighten it of the burden of local taxation. It was said, where will you put the burden? He proposed exactly to reverse the operation of the Government plan—to limit the amount which the local rates would contribute, and to mate the Imperial Treasury bear the residuary charge whatever it might be. This was an Imperial necessity, and ought to be an Imperial charge. Money for the support of the Army and Navy was not levied by local rates; and he would ask whether the enemy, against whom by this Bill they were doing battle, was not as real as the enemy contemplated by the Army and Navy Estimates? Millions were being spent to protect the country against an invasion which had never occurred, and which he did not think was likely ever to occur. But here at home, and in every town and hamlet of the country, a hostile force of ignorance and vice was encamped against which they were striving to make head. The hon. Baronet opposite had mentioned the State of Massachusetts. Two or three days ago the Minister of the United States had been good enough to give him a pamphlet showing what was done there in the cause of education. That little State, out of its State funds, expended upon education an amount larger by several thousand pounds than the whole expenditure of the British Empire in the same direction. The House had passed large Votes, of which hon. Members—on the Liberal side, at all events—were now ashamed, for purposes of fortifications, and, probably, they would be asked to make further Votes for the same object this year. One-tenth part of the money thus spent on fortifications would have sufficed, to cover the country with schools from one end to the other. The system of State expenditure thus adopted he could only describe as having been characterized, on the one hand, by foolish extravagance, and, on the other, by foolish parsimony. They were constantly reminded of the enormous assistance which had been derived from voluntary subscriptions in this country. He had looked into the Navy Estimates lately, and found that the last iron-clad which was built cost a sum about equal to the whole of the voluntary subscriptions for the purposes of education. Having arrived at a point in the cost of engines of war when the expense of fitting up a school was about equal to the cost of a cannon, the House might fairly borrow from the First Lord of the Admiralty, and from his right hon. Friend and Colleague the Minister for War, as much money to relieve local taxation as was necessary to make this a workable Bill. He might be told that his proposal was not very consistent with the views expressed by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) and others who represented the League. He had no authority to speak for them, but his proposal was certainly not inconsistent with the original scheme of the League. Their original proposal was that two-thirds of the expenditure for education should come from Imperial taxation; and the proposal either of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Massey Lopes), or his own, was not inconsistent with that. The League, no doubt, had been willing that one-third of the necessary amount should be levied by local rating; but that was upon the assumption that the schools were to be free. It never was intended that one payment should first be made by the parents in the shape of rates, and then that the children should pay the amount over again in the shape of school fees. It had now been decided that one-sixth should be defrayed by the school-pence; and, therefore, he proposed that the local charge should be diminished to that extent, or made another sixth. From the proposition that Imperial taxation should bear the whole expense he would dissent; for, if there was to be local administration to render this efficient, there must exist some local interest which would act as a check upon expenditure. That local interest, however, ought to be kept down to the lowest point that was consistent with effective administration. A fixed rate, say of 1d., would not operate as a check upon expenditure in the particular locality in the same way as if the liability were adjusted to a certain proportion of the expenditure, for thereby a direct interest was created in keeping down the total outlay. The reason he had adopted, in the Amendment which he proposed should be made in the 46th clause, this limit of one-sixth, was because that figure seemed to have emanated originally from the Treasury Bench, the right hon. Gentleman having suggested that a voluntary school, which raised by subscriptions one-sixth of its expenditure should, in virtue of such subscription, be entitled to a grant from the State. If that was good for a voluntary school, why should it not be equally good for a rate-supported school? The question had been asked whether a share in the government of the school ought to be intrusted to persons whose pecuniary contributions were so limited in amount. But an instance was mentioned in a letter which had reached him where contributors of £30 shared in administering the revenues of a school amounting to £600 a year. It was said that the proposal now made would interfere with the system of payment by results; because the Imperial Exchequer would have to pay not only for the excellence of the school, but also a residuary lump sum. But that was also the original plan of the Government as embodied in the 84th clause, which contemplated first the payment by results, then a 3d. rate; and, if that was insufficient, then a further sum to make up the deficiency. Between the proposal of the hon. Baronet opposite and his own there was no difference in principle, and he was quite satisfied either to vote for the Motion of the hon. Baronet or that the hon. Baronet should vote for his. What they both desired was the adoption of some principle that would limit the local rate. The other day the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) had been good enough to refer to the want of experience of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and to say that when they knew a little more about the subject they would feel less confidence in their own recommendations. He might take advantage of the motto which the right hon. Gentleman had rendered familiar—"Nôsse omnia hœc salus est adolescentulis," and reply that the young men below the Gangway were quite willing in this instance to sit at the feet of the Gamaliel of political wisdom, who had told them that "national enthusiasm in favour of education would never be raised by a plan based on the increase of local taxation." He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would remember the principle which he himself thus laid down—that the increased charge ought to come out of Imperial, not local taxation. This question seemed to him to lie at the very root of the Bill, and the Division about to be taken would be a test Division; for, 12 months hence, when they tried to levy the rate, the success or failure of the Bill would be determined by the principle which might be adopted that evening. If failure should then result, through the odium and pressure of local taxation, he would have the satisfaction of feeling that he was not responsible for that failure, and that he had striven to exclude from the Bill a principle which he believed would make it unworkable.
said, that the last time the Bill was under discussion he had offered some explanations on this subject. He fully agreed with his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) that this was a test clause, and, indeed, before he brought in the present Bill he had supposed that this might be the point on which the greatest interest would be excited. Before commencing his reply to the eloquent speech made by the hon. Baronet (Sir Massey Lopes) last Tuesday, and to that just delivered by his hon. and learned Friend, he desired to correct a misrepresentation. He understood his hon. and learned Friend to say that the rate would fall on the East of London and the slums of Liverpool; but surely he could not have intended to convey the impression that the rate would be levied exclusively on the distressed part of Liverpool, and, of course, the House could not have forgotten that they had come to the conclusion that the rate ought to be levied on the whole of the metropolis. With regard to one of the illustrations used by his hon. and learned Friend, he might remark that the Army and Navy were maintained by Imperial taxation because they were administered by Imperial management. They could not be dealt with in any other manner, and if education could be administered in the same way there certainly would be no necessity for troubling the local authorities to raise rates. The speakers in both the discussions on this subject seemed to go upon the supposition that they were now for the first time fastening this charge on the local communities. The fact was that, at the present time, considerably more than one-third of the expenditure for education was paid out of the Imperial Exchequer; but it was notorious that the Government had stated in the course of these discussions that they looked forward to a still larger amount being paid out of the Imperial funds, so that it could not be said that they were now attempting to fasten the charge for the first time or to a greater extent than before upon the local communities. His hon. and learned Friend hoped two-thirds would be paid out of the Exchequer; but he omitted to mention that one-third would even then have to come out of the local rates. [Mr. VERNON HARCOURT said he had alluded to that circumstance.] But his hon. and learned Friend said that as one-sixth of the expense would be paid by the parents in the shape of school fees, and as they ought not to be called upon to pay that sum over again, he would restrict the rate to one-sixth. But his hon. and learned Friend ought to be strictly accurate in his facts, and he must not suppose that the parents of the children who paid the fees would be the same as the ratepayers. The hon. and learned Gentleman was now anxious to keep down the rate. He should have been very glad to have received his hon. and learned Friend's valuable assistance in keeping down the rate at an earlier period of the discussion. In proportion as the voluntary schools were made useful the rates would be saved, much more effectually than they could be either by the clause of the hon. Baronet or that of his hon. and learned Friend. He now came to the instructive speech delivered last Tuesday by the hon. Baronet, and he might, perhaps, be permitted, in the first place, to express his opinion that the two cases adduced by the hon. Baronet were not fair ones. It was presupposed that there would be no voluntary schools whatever in a district, that there would be no available school building, and that every parish, however small, would be obliged to act for itself, whereas it was intended to effect a great saving by uniting parishes for the purposes of the Bill. Again, the hon. Baronet exaggerated the cost—a circumstance not much to be wondered at, because they had usually treated the cost at 30s., divided into rates, school fees, and the Government Grant. When they came to actual practice, however, 30s. was found to be too much. The real cost, he believed, was 25s. 7d. on the average attendance throughout the country. In 1865 the Government Grant was 36·3 per cent, the voluntary contributions 34·3 per cent, and the school fees 29·4 per cent. In following years the proportions were much the same. His hon. and learned Friend seemed to treat it as a light matter whether they retained the voluntary contributions or not, but it was clear that if they got rid of them they would at once have to double either the rate or the grant. If the voluntary subscriptions disappeared the constituencies would have to pay for them either as taxpayers or as ratepayers. The House, therefore, ought not to discourage voluntary contributions. [Mr. VERNON HARCOURT said he had not expressed a wish to discourage them.] His hon. and learned Friend had remarked that a single iron-clad would sweep them all away, and therefore he suggested that they need not consider them when they made their calculations. Without going minutely into the details referred to by the hon. Baronet, he might state his belief that, even supposing there were no voluntary schools and no available buildings, generally speaking a 3d. rate would meet the expense. He acknowledged, however, that there were some exceptional cases in which it was possible, though not probable, that a rate of more than 3d. would be required, and therefore he thought it was incumbent on the Government, especially after the expectations which had been held out, to point out the means of dealing with those cases. The sole reason why they had recourse to local taxation was because they wanted local management, and not because they were particularly in love with the present incidence of the rates. He protested, indeed, against the Bill being further complicated by his being required to decide the difficult question of the incidence of taxation. It must be borne in mind that the charge would be comparatively small, and that, as almost everybody now admitted, education would, in all probability, diminish pauperism. There was, therefore, a certain degree of justice in saying that the education rate should follow the incidence of the rate which it was intended to diminish. While he acknowledged that the incidence of the poor rate ought to be thoroughly examined, he protested against being obliged to solve the difficulty at the present time. To do so they must jump to a premature decision before the Committee now sitting upstairs had presented their Report, or else postpone the education question until that Report was presented. He did not complain, however, of the hon. Baronet making a strong protest against a mode of taxation which he felt to be not entirely just. He would now advert to the principle on which the Government thought these exceptional cases ought to be dealt with. The mode of meeting the difficulty by limiting the local rate to 1d. in the pound was hardly one which the Committee could accept. In the first place, 1d. in the pound would be too small a sum. Indeed, it could hardly be expected that owners of property who were only liable for so small a sum would care much about its expenditure, or take an interest in the management of the schools. Again, whenever the expenses exceeded 1d. in the pound there would be no pecuniary motive to induce the school Board either to be economical or to obtain money by showing efficient results. The principle of the hon. Baronet was, however, he thought, better than that which was advocated by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford. Indeed, he could hardly conceive a worse proposal than that of his hon. and learned Friend. His principle was, that under no circumstances should school Boards be liable to pay more than one-sixth of the expenses. But why, he would ask, were they to have school Boards at all? It was because they wanted managers who it was hoped would combine efficiency with economy. Now, what would be the result if his hon. and learned Friend's proposal were adopted? The first feeling of the school Boards would naturally be to make the expenses as little as possible, and to starve the schools to the utmost extent. Again, it ought to be the aim of Parliament to measure what they gave to these Boards, not so much by the rate of the expenditure, as by the efficiency of that expenditure; but his hon. and learned Friend would entirely s defeat that object; he would be quite reckless of efficiency, and payment by results would, under his plan, vanish altogether. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) looked forward to school Boards with their local influence meeting, to some extent, the difficulties with regard to attendance, acting by the force of moral compulsion. But it would make no difference to them under the proposal of his hon. and learned Friend whether 50 or 150 children attended the school; so that, so far as educational results were concerned, he could not imagine a worse principle to sanction. What was desirable to be done was to fasten upon managers the responsibility of management. If that was not done it would be better not to have managers, but to throw the responsibility at once upon officers appointed for that purpose. And if they fastened on managers that responsibility they ought to make it their in- terest to manage their schools in the most efficient manner. But then the question came, how were exceptional cases to be dealt with? He thought they would be met by a clause which had been originally introduced by the Government, and which they had no objection to restore. It had been omitted because, with the additional grants to be given, they believed it would not be wanted. He was, however, of opinion that there might be one or two exceptional cases in the country in which it would be required. At any rate, as it was thought that they should have that safeguard, the Government had no objection to restore it. To meet, therefore, the expenses or position of specially poor districts they were willing to fix a certain sum per head for the children attending the schools, which, if not produced by a 3d. rate, should be made up out of an extra grant, and then to allow them to go on earning as if there had been no extra grant at all, so that the money which the managers would receive would depend as now on the efficiency of the teaching. The Government would, in other words, in the more distressed districts supplement the rate by making it up to a capitation sum on the average attendance at schools provided by the school Boards. In the original clause the amount of this sum was fixed at 10s. per head on the average attendance, but as it was afterwards proposed that the grants of the State should be not more than one-third, the 10s. were reduced to 5s. But the Government were disposed, if they erred at all in the matter, to err rather on the side of liberality, and therefore they fixed upon 7s. 6d., and he would lay on the Table that evening a clause embodying that proposal, which he should introduce as a Proviso to the 82nd clause. Another reason why he wished to meet the difficulty in this way was because the Government were of opinion that all schools which gave an efficient education should be treated on the same principle—that was to say, that the principle on which schools provided by school Boards and not provided by them should be treated should be in no way different. The fact, therefore, that the Government took that view was a reason why he could not adopt either of the Amendments which had been submitted to the notice of the Committee, because they would give a preference to schools provided by school Boards.
said, he had listened with great attention to the exceedingly able speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt), who had, he thought, touched the right key, and had placed very plainly before the Committee a grievance which those on that (the Opposition) side of the House had long felt, and which was now, he was glad to find, being felt by hon. Gentlemen opposite. There could be no doubt that in the matter to which he was referring town and country suffered alike, and that they would, if the Bill passed, have to bear a very heavy burden, in addition to that which was already imposed upon them. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last had, he thought, made a mistake in mixing up the two kinds of schools, and he would confine his remarks to the rate-founded schools. The poorer districts in towns would feel the rate to be especially heavy, because they would not only be called upon to provide the children's pence but also to pay an amount of rate. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government objected in February last year to a Royal Commission being issued to consider the subject of local taxation, because he said that would postpone legislation on the subject to a day more distant than he wished. Since then nothing had been done with regard to the inquiry. [Mr. GOSCHEN dissented.] The President of the Poor Law Board shook his head; but he appealed to any hon. Member whether the Committee to whom the subject had been referred were making any fair inquiry into the incidence of local taxation—for that was what was needed, and the Government would not be able much longer to delay the investigation of that most important question. With regard to rate-founded schools, objection had been taken to some statements that were made by the hon. Member for South Devonshire (Sir Massey Lopes), and since then he had ascertained what the management of schools cost in a district with which he was acquainted. He took a parish of 6,610 acres, with a rateable value of £9,000, a population of 1,900, and 260 children attending school. In that parish there were three schools, the cost of building which was £2,028; the managers now received from the Government Grant £113, from the school-pence £54, and from other sources £95 19s. 4d. The expenses were—A schoolmaster, £84; two schoolmistresses, £38 and £35; sewing mistress, pupil-teachers, monitors, books, &c, £105 19s. 4d.; total, £262 19s. 4d. If they had to pay 6 per cent on the outlay for school premises, that would be £121 10s., and that parish would have to pay a rate of 5¾d. in the pound. He asked, whether it was right to increase by such an amount the present burdens of the ratepayers in that parish, who now paid two 20d. poor rates, a 10d. highway rate, and a 2d. voluntary church rate; they also paid a sewers rate in a certain portion of the parish, and on one farm, which produced a rental of £200 per annum he paid £16 land tax. The present burdens of local taxation were enormous, and if this Bill added a heavy school rate to them it would create a feeling against the educational movement, and do more mischief than could easily be imagined. Hon. Members should remember the old saying—
"We laugh and revel till the feast is o'er,
The reckoning in this case would come, and while he was as anxious as anyone that education should be placed within the reach of every child, he wished the Committee to be careful not to irritate the feeling of the country. Whatever might pass that House, they could not compel parents to send their children to school, or even to pay the school fees; and he should like to know if they would send the parents to prison for refusing to do so. He trusted the Committee would agree either to the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Devonshire or that of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford. He was quite prepared to support either one or the other. If the Government had said they were willing to propose 2d., splitting the difference between 1d. and 3d., he should not have objected; but he could not give his sanction to placing so heavy a burden as that proposed upon the already overburdened rates.Then comes the reckoning, and we laugh no more,"
said, he found it difficult to follow very precisely the effect of the addition which the Vice President of the Council proposed to make to the 82nd clause, because some attention must be given to its working in connection with the Parliamentary Grant and the Revised Code by which it was administered, the latter being frequently changed. Although the proposal might appear to be a liberal one it scarcely met the point that was raised by his hon. Friend the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), which was not what aid should be given by the State, but on what principle the cost of education should be raised by local taxation. The grievance was not so much that it was proposed to levy a certain amount of local taxation, as that the Government proposed to do so before that taxation was put on a fair footing. To that the Vice President of the Council had answered with great force that the Amendment put the Government in a dilemma by calling upon them either to postpone making an education rate, which involved, in fact, the postponement of the extension of education until the question of local taxation was settled, or to settle that question at the present moment, which it was impossible for them to do. There was great force in that argument, and the right hon. Gentleman was justified in endeavouring to find some way out of the difficulty. Great importance was justly attached to local management, and if there was to be local management such responsibility must be cast on those in authority as should induce them to conduct their schools efficiently and economically. Until, however, the question of local taxation was settled, was it not possible for the Committee to hit upon an expedient by which they might obviate the difficulty which the hon. Member for South Devon had pointed out? The principle on which the clause was framed was, that after a certain fund should have been raised by fees from, scholars, by the means provided by Parliament, and in other ways, the deficiency should be provided by local rate; but his hon. Friend objected to the whole deficiency being thrown upon that rate until local taxation was put on a more satisfactory footing, and had suggested that as a temporary expedient recourse should be had to the Consolidated Fund, which had the merit of being raised in a fair and equitable manner. ["No, no!"] Well, he did not profess to say that even Imperial taxation was perfect; but compared with local taxation it was much fairer. This was a matter of Imperial importance, and he thought it would be fair that for the present the deficiency should be provided partly by the local rate and partly by the Consolidated Fund in such proportions as might be thought most just and equitable, but without any limit being fixed. He had not worked out this question so as to be able to make an absolute proposal; but he ventured to make this suggestion as containing a principle which would properly meet the difficulty. In the event of its being carried out the local Boards which would have the management of schools would have a direct interest in economy and efficiency, while the whole burden would not be thrown on a particular class; nor was it unimportant that the Imperial Revenue should bear some proportion of the deficiency, which might very easily be increased or diminished, according to the action of the Education Department. He did not wish to get rid of the question of local taxation permanently; but as it would be impossible to deal with it this year he had suggested a mode which would settle it for the present, and which, by putting pressure both on the State and on those Gentlemen who were interested in education, would make both anxious to press the subject to a satisfactory conclusion.
said, he regretted that the Army, the Navy, and the iron-clads had been introduced into the debate. We were bound to provide for those services whether we had education or not, because if the army of an enemy landed in this country it would be impossible to arrest its course by calling out the school children and the teachers. It was said to be universally acknowledged that the effect of this Education Bill would be to considerably reduce pauperism. That must be left to the future. It was all very well to prophesy; but if some felt themselves at liberty to prophesy, he felt himself at liberty to doubt and disbelieve their predictions; and he thought that if the spread of education led, as it would be sure to do, to young people seeking employment in avocations in which there were far more candidates for employment than situations to fill, the present proposals would be just as likely to increase pauperism as to diminish it. Perhaps the House was not aware of the extraordinary demand there was at the present time among young men for employ- ment as clerks; but he had been informed that in one large bank there were at least six times as many applicants for vacancies as there were vacancies to fill, and that only the other day a chemist advertised for a clerk at £65 a year, and immediately received 85 applications. With regard to the economical administration of the fund, the history of the past caused the greatest apprehension as to the future. The administration of local taxation was neither one thing nor the other. This new school system would be all administered by Commissioners, who, under the pretence of advising, would really compel; and threats of a mandamus or of the withdrawal of the Government Grant, unless a great deal more was done than was really necessary, would be of frequent occurrence. If the Commissioners had no fault to find, they would be compelled to make suggestions, otherwise they would feel that their own situations were in danger. It was extremely agreeable to recommend other people to spend their money, and that would be the chief duty of the Inspectors and Commissioners. If they were to pay only for results, who was to test the results? Government Inspectors, a class for whom he had no great admiration, and who, if you were in a difficulty, would not assist you, and, when you did good, took the credit of it. Looking to the whole bearing of the question, he preferred the proposition of the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes) to that of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt); but he should infinitely prefer either of the Amendments to the clause.
said, as a member of the Committee on Local Taxation, he had listened with interest to the able speech of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt), and he thought the whole Committee would agree with him in wishing they had had his valuable assistance as a member or a witness. By far the greater part of his speech, however, would have been much more properly addressed to the Committee on a question of local taxation than upon this clause. The question now to be decided was whether, assuming the expenditure on particular schools to amount to a certain annual average sum—that sum being defrayed partly out of school fees, partly out of rates, and partly by a Government Grant—any ex- cess above that sum was to be defrayed out of local rates or Imperial taxation. It was quite clear that the Government Grant might be given on three principles—in the shape of a fixed sum or of a fixed proportion to the sum levied out of rates, or of the whole excess, whatever that might be, above the actual expenditure incurred. Now, looking at the circumstances with which the Legislature had to deal—the great importance of throwing the responsibility of managing these schools upon persons in the locality, and the great local interests concerned, he decidedly preferred that the excess above the certain average expenditure should fall rather upon local rates than upon the Imperial Exchequer. The point raised by the Vice President of the Council—that the same rule must be applied to the voluntary as to the local Board schools—was very cogent; and, not being disposed to concur in the suggestion of a temporary compromise, he must vote against the Amendment of the hon. Baronet (Sir Massey Lopes).
said, he had listened with great admiration to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt); but he must remind the Committee that the speech of the hon. and learned Member must be taken in connection with his antecedents. From the beginning to the end of the discussion the hon. and learned Member had argued in favour of secular education, and he knew well that if he threw the weight of the support of these schools upon the State they would gradually be forced into a system of secular education, whereas the House had decided that the education of the people in the rate-supported schools should be a religious education.
said, the point at issue was one of so serious a nature that he wished to say a few words upon it. It went to the very root of the question as to the quality of the education to be given in this country. The sum to be raised by a penny rate throughout the country was about £420,000; but they must leave out from this account all those places supplied by voluntary denominational schools assisted by the Government. The penny rate would therefore probably amount to something like £200,000, which would leave about the same sum to be provided out of the Consolidated Fund. The proposition was simply that the State should provide whatever was wanting in the rate-supported schools to be provided by the school Boards—the rate-provided schools, as, in ignorance of what was going to happen, they had been called. Now, he wished the Committee to consider what this really meant. He did not put it upon the ground of a drain upon the Exchequer, but with reference to the future scope and quality of education in this country and the efficient working of the system. It amounted to this—that the sum which each school would be called upon to provide was so exceedingly small that it would be a matter of indifference to the managers whether they earned anything under the Revised Code or not; because, if the children were taught well and passed a good examination, the school would get the money, and if they were ill-taught and passed no examination the school would get the money all the same. The Amendment, therefore, tended to destroy the quality of education. It was represented as a great relief to the ratepayers and as remitting a portion of their burden. But the supporters of secular education should remember that, if the Amendment were carried, while the denominational schools would have the strongest inducement to exert themselves and give the best instruction, since the amount of aid given by the State would depend almost entirely upon that instruction, the rate-aided schools—the favourite schools which they wished to be general—would have no inducement at all for exertion, because they would be told—"If you work, or if you do not work, you shall be paid out of the general Revenue." In their favour the machinery of the Revised Code would be repealed—that potent stimulus to exertion on the part of the managers—and the consequence would be that while you were, as you thought, pampering and cockering up this rate-aided system from the national Exchequer, you would really destroy its efficiency and expose it to a competition with the voluntary system, which you disliked, under circumstances most unfavourable to the rate-aided schools. The thing went, in fact, to the root of the whole scheme. Let the Committee consider how and why the present system had been devised. Why was not all the cost of education thrown on the rates? Of course, one reason was because they did not wish to bear heavily upon the ratepayers, as was apparent by the Government taking one-half more of the burden. But it was not entirely on that account, for who did not see that if the rate-aided schools were left to the ratepayers, without State inspection and a Government Grant to make it efficient, the result would be that those schools would be starved by a parsimonious management? The whole thing was a matter of choice between parsimony and economy. Every payment that could be saved would be saved, and the whole system by which it was desired to give education to the country would come to nothing. On the other hand, it might be asked, why did not the Government give the whole grant for education out of the Consolidated Fund? Why, because if they did, they would make education a Government Service, like the Army and the Navy, and there would always be a tendency to go to sleep. Instead of energies being devoted, as now, to picking holes in the system of teaching, to fault-finding, and to testing severely, in order to economize the grant, the whole power and weight of the Government would be enlisted on the other side, in proving that the system of education, however defective, was as good as possible. The one scheme would end in starvation and the other in indolence, and what the Government wanted to do was to devise something better, by regulating the grant according to the efficiency of the system pursued in each school. Hitherto the plan of making grants proportionate to the contributions of managers, regulated by testing the efficiency of schools, had worked very well; and he entreated the Committee, when they were inaugurating a new system, not to deprive themselves of the advantage possessed by the old one—not to send it to sleep by withdrawing from it the stimulus which the Legislature had applied, and not to destroy the very thing they wished to promote by removing the incentive to exertion. It was proposed that the rates should not be called on for more than one-sixth of the outlay; how did the matter stand now? It was calculated that the managers of voluntary schools, or the ratepayers for Board schools, would find one-sixth, that two-sixths would be found by school- pence, and that three-sixths would be earned under the Revised Code; but how would his hon. Friend's (Mr. Vernon Harcourt's) plan work? There would not be the slightest incentive to raise a penny from the parents of the children. Whether it worked or did not, wanted school-pence or did not, a school would be entitled to receive five-sixths; and if that was not a recipe for making a school as useless and as inefficient as possible he did not know what was. He claimed to speak with some knowledge, because all these matters had to be brought under review when the Code was revised; and he did not hesitate to state his opinion that this Amendment or anything like it would, if carried, be fatal to the objects of this Bill, and break up its structure altogether. Under these circumstances, he hoped the Committee would not look on the Amendment, as it had been presented to them, merely as a question of a little more or a little less burden to be imposed upon the rates, but that they would regard it as a question of the future quality of education, and, in fact, as a question affecting the possibility of providing any system of national education at all.
said, he would not detain the Committee, but that he had some practical acquaintance with education, both in the country and in London. They had been told that if the rates were limited to 1d. in the pound, or to one-sixth of the cost, the school Boards must part with the management of the schools; but was it supposed that the school Boards were going to be allowed, under the Bill, to have the management of their schools? They would no more manage the schools than the guardians did the poor. There would be a Department, which would make the school Boards its instruments to carry out its instructions. They were willing to part with the management if, at the same time, they might part with the excessive rate which would, be imposed on real property by the Bill. He joined in the nope that in their easing the ship over the shoals of secularism, she would not go to pieces on the rocks of rating. In the original Bill, Clause 84 imposed a limitation of the rate, and the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had stated his willingness to restore it; but he had told them it extended only to two classes of school dis- tricts—small parishes and those in which there were a vast number of poor and comparatively little property to assess. There would, therefore, be a vast number of schools and districts that would not be touched by it.
The clause would cover every place on which a 3d. rate did not produce 10s. per head for, each child to the number of the average attendance.
said, that statement was not in the clause. It was a very involved clause, and he believed there were not 50 Members of the Committee who understood what was meant. The cost of the St. Paul's schools, in Well close Square, including site and fittings, was £7,600; they were built for 600 children, and the cost of the building was, therefore, at the rate of £12 13s. 4d. per child. When it was considered that the Government had withdrawn the building grant, the Committee might have some conception of the enormous rate which would be required in this instance. With regard to the cost of education, working a school as close as possible, he found it impossible to get more than 8s. per head from the Government, although he believed there were some that could earn the full grant of 15s. What was the nature of the concession the Government was going to make? If 15s. could be earned now, what were they to get that they should give up building grants? Were they to have grants for dunces, or was more money to be voted for the children who passed? This ought to be cleared up before they went to a Division. In the parish of St. George-in-the-East, he believed that a rate of 1s. in the pound would be required, if the Bill passed as it stood. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER said there would be one rate over the whole metropolis.] What advantage would that be to him and others who were educating 600 children by voluntary subscriptions? The liberality of contributions would be checked by an enormous rate, and a ragged school in the district would be closed as a school and turned into a warehouse.
Sir, the Committee finds itself in an embarrassing position, because there are now four propositions before us. There is the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), which is intelligible, and which is made in the interests of the ratepayers who have so long and so justly complained of the incidence of our local taxation. Whatever opinion I may have as to the principle on which the Amendment is founded, with its sentiment I entirely agree, and I think the hon. Baronet was perfectly justified in calling most seriously the attention of the Committee to the proposal of the Government. Then we have the proposition of the hon. and and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt), which appears to be a cognate proposition, but which the Committee will probably consider would lead them in a very different direction. Then, Sir, we have the proposition made by the Government, which is not before us in a formal manner. I have before had occasion to notice—and I think the Committee will feel that the observation is not altogether unfounded—that it is extremely inconvenient that in matters of this importance, when a policy is recommended by the Minister, we should not have it before us in distinct terms, and that, where almost everything depends on language, we should only be guided as to its general import by an address to Mr. Dodson. There is a fourth proposal, which has been thrown out by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote), which I think deserves the consideration of the Committee, though he has not at present had an opportunity of formally eliciting the opinion of the Committee upon it. Now, irrespectively of any objections which may be urged, to the arbitrary amount which is fixed in the Amendment by my hon. Friend the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), there is in my mind this great, and. I would even say fatal, objection to it, that it does not profess to supply the deficiency which must arise. It proposes a limit, respecting the prudence of which it is unnecessary at the present moment to dilate. While acknowledging that there must be a deficiency, my hon. Friend makes no proposal for meeting it; and it is perfectly clear that there must be, in order to settle this question, some ultimate resource to which we can appeal, whether it be the rates or the Imperial Treasury. Sir, I will not dwell upon the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt), because, while it is open to many of the objections to which my hon. Friend's proposal is liable, it has a tendency, which at the present moment I should not wish to encourage in any way, because it appears to me that unless we keep as strictly as we possibly can within the purpose of the proposal before us, which is to ascertain the mode by which these schools are to be maintained and the means by which the necessary resources are to be supplied, we shall make very litttle progress with the Bill. Now, Sir, I did not clearly understand the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council; but, so far as I can understand it, it gives no further security for results than the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for South Devon, because it would be quite possible that the full rate of 3d. might be imposed in a district and yet none of the results which the right hon. Gentleman dwelt on be secured. But the proposal of my right hon. Friend near me (Sir Stafford Northcote) does give a limit to the claim upon the local resources of the country, and, while securing the supply of the deficiency, would give a stimulus to economy and efficiency on the part of the local Boards. Under these circumstances, that is the principle which I could wish to see the Government adopt. No Amendment has yet been made on this clause in the Bill, and if the Government would accept the proposition of my right hon. Friend they might postpone the clause and bring it forward in a new shape. If, however, we are called upon to vote on the present Amendment I would remind the Committee that we are not voting at the present stage whether the rate should be limited to 1d. in the locality. The question as to the amount is not yet before us. I have expressed my reasons for not supporting the Amendment, without going into the question whether the amount, particularly under the circumstances in which the rate would be levied, would ever be a sufficient call upon the local resources of the country, and would secure economy and good management. The very fact that the deficiency is not supplied justifies me in not supporting the Amendment. But, Sir, the proposition of the Government appears to me to be an unsatisfactory one, and I should be glad if they would accept the proposal which has been made by my right hon. Friend near me, and bring up a clause in that spirit at a future stage. I recommended this course with the conviction that, when the question of local taxation has been dealt with by a Bill as efficient as the present one, the circumstances in which the country will find itself will render it perfectly easy to make some change in this proposition if it should be necessary. If the burden of our local taxation is more generally divided, and if those grievances which I think are justly complained of are remedied, I have no doubt that if you find that the clause embodying the suggestion of my right hon. Friend trenches too much on the Imperial Exchequer—I say I think if a system of just local taxation in the interval has been established, that there will be no difficulty in altering an arrangement which then will be generally considered as no longer necessary. The proposition of my right hon. Friend, if adopted by the Government, would meet the difficulty, and would insure economy and efficiency. It would insure the deficiency being supplied, without which no proposition can really be satisfactory to the Committee, and, on the whole, I think it would meet the difficulties of the case much better than the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council.
said, there was one observation made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) towards the close of his speech in which he (Mr. Gladstone) entirely agreed. The difficulty would be very serious if they were to confess that they could not practically deal with the matter until they had settled the question of local rating; but the right hon. Gentleman said truly that whatever was done by the present Bill with respect to burdens on rates would enter into the account which, as one might say, had been opened between local taxation and Imperial taxation. The whole of that matter stood for settlement. Much would be said on it, much repeated, much stated that had not been stated before, and much would be brought home to the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite which, as far as he could judge, had not as yet obtained due weight with them. But considering that they were dealing with the imposition of a rate which would not operate for two years, the question of any supposed grievance could not be so immediate in its importance as some hon. Gentlemen imagined. The hon. and gallant Colonel opposite (Colonel Barttelot) complained that nothing was being done with respect to local taxation, and thought that if a Commission of Inquiry had been appointed, they would be in a more hopeful condition than at present. However, he (Mr. Gladstone) must, on the contrary, affirm that very important results had been attained on the subject of local taxation through the investigations in which the Committee had this year been engaged; and if hon. Gentlemen supposed that a question like that could be settled by summary processes, and without laying a solid foundation for the future building, they made a great mistake. The question, then, of the burden of the rate did not immediately press. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that there were four propositions before the Committee, and said that the Government proposition had not been placed in the hands of Members. He wished to correct that statement. The Government proposition stood precisely as in the printed Bill first presented to the House, with the exception that the sum of 7s. 6d. was substituted for 10s., so that a considerable concession was thereby proposed to be made. When the Bill was originally brought in, it operated, as regards the ratepayer, more severely than now, as by the increase of the grant from the Consolidated Fund both to rate-aided and voluntary schools the burden imposed on the ratepayer was greatly diminished. He must point out that when this subject was originally discussed, they had no reason to suppose that, even as it then stood, the burden proposed to be laid on the rates was regarded as serious. The right hon. Gentleman asked what provision was to be made for the ultimate deficiency. Now, he had two things to say upon that point. It was quite impossible for the Government to accept the Amendment of the hon. Baronet (Sir Massey Lopes). To set up this great machinery of local Boards, local management, local powers, the appointment of schoolmasters, the dismissal of schoolmasters by the school Board, and the whole additional influence possessed by the managers of voluntary schools, and to say, all this being done, the charge by which this immense machinery was to be worked should be limited to the maximum rate of 1d. in the pound, was a proposition which, if not self-condemned, was one to the adoption of which he felt insurmountable objections. The question as to the proper mode of supplying ultimate deficiency might be conveniently raised on the 82nd clause, which his right hon. Friend, in concession to the fears and alarms of certain hon. Gentlemen, proposed to re-introduce. He might state, generally, that the question of deficiency after the rate of 3d. in the pound had been levied would by that clause be reduced within exceedingly narrow limits. That rate would be made up by the Privy Council Grant, according to the proposal of the Government, to 7s. 6d. Then there would be the school fees, said to amount on the average to 6s. 8d.—that was altogether 14s. odd. If the school was a well-conducted school, the Privy Council Grant, dependent on results, would very nearly double that sum. He held it to be impossible to confute that statement. Provided the school were efficient, after the rate of 3d. per pound had been levied there would be a sum of 28s. or 29s. per head available. Even if he were wrong to the extent of a shilling or two there would be 27s. per head, and his right hon. Friend had stated that the education of children in an efficient school cost only 25s. 7d. per head. He did not deny that a deficiency might exist, because the school might be inefficient. [Mr. PELL: What of the building charges?] The building charges Were entirely a separate matter. They need not discuss all subjects at once. He did not speak of that now. It might be dismissed from their view. He only spoke of the limit of the permanent burden. It was reduced, by the proposition of his right hon. Friend, to 3d. in the pound. If it were necessary to provide for the exceptional case of inefficient schools, that might fairly be postponed till they came to the 82nd clause.
said, he would suggest that the Amendment should be withdrawn. If the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Massey Lopes), who had made such a valuable suggestion, would abstain from proposing it on that clause, and afterwards propose it as an addition to Clause 46, it would no doubt meet with considerable support on that (the Ministerial) side of the House. He should certainly support it himself.
said, he must decline to adopt the suggestion. He did not object to the education; but he strongly objected to the means by which it was proposed to raise the necessary funds. He could not see why they were to levy an income tax on one description of property. He would like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the effect of trying to raise a fund from personal property alone. The proposal of the Bill was unreasonable. What would the Vice President of the Council say if a special tax was proposed on the millowners of Bradford? This was a poor man's question, who would have to pay in pence, and rate, and Imperial taxation, while the lodger and the lounger went free.
said, he felt certain that the Bill would prove inoperative, and would soon have to be amended. He meant when the Division was called to walk out of the House. Question put. The Committee divided:—Ayes 273; Noes 88: Majority 185.
said, with reference to the suggestion which he had before made, he thought he should do better to defer any Motion upon the subject till the 82nd clause was reached, in order to take more time to consider the point the suggestion involved; and in the meantime he hoped the Government would see their way to make some provision for what was felt to be a great burden—namely, the building charges.
said, he did not see how it was possible to defer the Motion, as suggested by the right hon. Baronet, as in the meantime a clause would have been passed providing that the whole deficiency should be paid out of the rates. If, therefore, the right hon. Baronet did not himself make the proposal which he had indicated, when they came to Clause 46, he (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) should move this Amendment instead—namely, that after the words "shall be paid" the words "to the extent of one-half" be added.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 46 (Deficiency of school fund raised out of rates).
said, the matter had already been sufficiently discussed. He thought the suggestion made by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Stafford Northcote) was a fair com promise. He regretted that the hon. Baronet (Sir Massey Lopes) should have thought fit, after the discussion which had occurred, to take a Division on the question of a 1d. rate; but he admitted he should have been ready under other circumstances to have defended his own proposal of one-sixth against some of the criticisms which had been directed against it. In the first place, his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster) was mistaken in supposing that in the event of such a proposal being carried the local Boards would have no interest in economizing, for they might reduce the deficiency to so low a point that they would only have to pay one-twelfth instead of one-sixth. He did not, however, insist upon, his own proposal; but would accept, as a compromise, the suggestion which, had been made that the deficiency should be divided between the Consolidated Fund and the local rate. This was the proposal of the right hon. Baronet opposite, and in his opinion it was a very fair one. The deficiency "would, of course, include the interest on the money borrowed for building the schools, which was to be defrayed by a charge of 6 per cent annually. It had been said that they ought not to defer this question till the incidence of local rating was settled; but they ought not to forget the speeches of the First Minister of the Crown, in which he said the income tax was so unfairly levied, that it must always be kept low. The same reason was applicable to local taxation, which, consequently, ought not to be increased. In conclusion, he would beg to move, in page 16, line 27, after the word "paid" to insert the words "to the extent of one-half of such deficiency." Amendment proposed, in page 16, line 27, after the word "paid," to insert the words "to the extent of one-half of such deficiency."—(Mr. Vernon Harcourt.)
said, he could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government that the maintenance of schools was the only question to be settled, for in poor agricultural districts the building of schools was of equal importance. In many such districts the schools, although perfectly efficient at present, would not meet the future requirements of the Government, as in the poorest parishes the ratepayers would be compelled to erect school buildings according to the plans and specifications sent from the central Board in London. Now, in those parishes the rateable value was so small that, if the cost of building were spread over only about 30 years, the charge would most seriously affect that class of men who were now barely able to pay the rates. An additional 3d. in the pound would utterly break down and ruin them. The Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) was a very fair one; and if the Government would accept it, and also continue the building grant, they would be conferring a very great boon. Hitherto building grants had been given to towns which could well afford to tax themselves; whereas such grants had been refused to the parishes which, in consequence of their poverty, were unable to carry out the requirements of the Education Department.
said, he would remind the hon. Baronet (Sir Lawrence Palk) that the question of the building grant would probably come before the Committee when they reached the second part of the Bill, which related to the Parliamentary Grant. When that proposition was first brought forward, hon. Members on both sides of the House strongly urged that the voluntary schools and those provided by the school Boards ought to be treated on equal terms, because if they were not so treated it could not be expected that the voluntary schools would continue. The Amendment suggested by the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devonshire (Sir Stafford Northcote), and which he wished to take time to reflect upon, had been at once adopted by his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Vernon Harcourt), in lieu of his Amendment. This was very natural, for undoubtedly his hon. Friend had not regarded the voluntary schools with much favour in the course of these debates, and the result of the Amendment would be to put the voluntary schools in such a position that they could hardly be expected to go on. The Government would, in fact, say to all voluntary subscribers—"Whatever you get by the school fees and earn by the efficiency of your scholars, you must make up the whole of the remainder of the expense;" whereas to the rate-provided schools the Government would say—"Whatever you may get from the school fees, and from the results you produce, you are not to pay the whole, but only half of the remainder of your expenses." Thus, the voluntary schools would be over-weighted. Again, nothing could be more costly to the rates than to destroy the voluntary system, or to discourage the voluntary subscribers from continuing their contributions. If there were any districts so poor that a 3d. rate would not meet the deficiency, the Government would make an extra grant, and when they had heard an explanation of the mode in which it was proposed to give the extra grant, the Committee would be able to determine whether it was a just scheme or not. If, however, the Committee adopted his hon. and learned Friend's Amendment, instead of meeting exceptional cases of poverty, they would be putting the schools provided by the school Boards throughout the kingdom in a much more advantageous situation than the voluntary schools.
said, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) that the rating question ought not to stand between Parliament and the education of the people; but, in arguing as he did, the right hon. Gentleman condemned the inaction of the present occupants of the Treasury Bench, for if they had acted as they had been repeatedly requested to do, the rating question would not now have been an obstacle to every social improvement.
said, he hoped the Government, before they came to the clauses in the Bill which related to grants, would reconsider their decision with reference to building grants, which would be most needed in the poorer districts, on which the burden imposed by the Bill would fall with the greatest severity. A Government, in bringing forward, an important measure like the present, should not shrink from its legitimate consequences. It was absolutely essential that, in all the rate schools, proper schoolrooms should be provided; and he trusted the Government would see the necessity of giving the Bill every chance of working successfully.
said, he could not Vote for the Amendment; but he will- ingly joined in the appeal of the hon. Baronet (Sir Lawrence Palk) to the Government, as to the expediency of giving grants for building schools provided by the school Boards. The building grants to voluntary schools should, he thought, cease.
said, he must confess his inability to understand the proposal of the Government. Did they propose that everything above the amount produced by a 3d. rate should be paid out of the Consolidated Fund, or that a certain proportion only of the excess should be paid? If only a proportion, the Committee ought to be informed what that proportion was to be.
said, he must protest against the suggestion of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert), that building grants should be given only to rate-supported schools. He would make a suggestion exactly in the opposite direction. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt), he coincided in the views that had been expressed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. E. Forster), and could not vote for the Amendment.
said, in reply to the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon), he had to explain that what the Government proposal meant was, that where a district was so poor that a rate of 3d. in the pound did not produce 7s. 6d. per head for the children on the average attendance in schools provided by school Boards, that sum was to be made up by an extra grant out of the taxes. Suppose the rate produced only 4s., then 3s. 6d. per head would be given in the shape of an extra grant quite independently of results. Then the school would go on earning by results, receiving school fees. It was true that the deficiency might possibly not be made up by that means; but no serious fear need be entertained, on that point. The object of the Government proposition was to give exceptional aid to districts where exceptional poverty prevailed, and he thought, when they came to Clause 82, he would be able to show that it would enable those districts to work their schools.
said, he believed there were many instances in England and Wales which would not be met by the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman. According to Mr. Fearon's Report, 22,000 children in Liverpool were not receiving education, and he did not see that, under the clause, any extra Parliamentary Grant would go to the town of Liverpool.
said, the clause would, of course, not apply, because much less than a 3d. rate would suffice in this case.
said, the question now to be decided was whether or not the local rate should bear the whole of the deficiency in the rate-aided schools. He must say that the right hon. Gentleman had thrown some dust in the eyes of the Committee, and it was necessary to remind them that the clause did not touch the case of voluntary schools, but did state that the whole of the deficiency should be paid out of the rates. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir Stafford Northcote) had suggested a limitation of one-half; but then, with a want of courage which was singular on that side of the House, he had run away from his opinion. He (Mr. Vernon Harcourt) did not intend to run away; but would divide the Committee on his Amendment.
said, he had not run away from his opinion, for he intended to vote with the hon, and learned Member. He had thought it desirable to wait for the Government proposal before mating an Amendment; but as the hon. and learned Member had taken the responsibility of moving such an Amendment, he should support it.
said, the Government not being pledged with regard to the building grant, it might be worth while to consider whether anything could be done to meet a sudden and great demand upon the rates; and a proposal, in the direction suggested by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), might be made hereafter. Question put, "That those words be there inserted." The Committee divided:—Ayes 21; Noes 176: Majority 155.
said, he would beg to move, in page 16, line 28, to leave out "the local rate," and insert—
The proposition of the Government was to take the school rate out of what he might call the Consolidated Fund of the local rates, which would be nearly as dangerous as if they took it out of the Consolidated Fund of the general taxes. He proposed that there should be a distinct and separate demand for the school rate, so that the ratepayers might know exactly what they were charged, and might watch the working of this new experiment."A separate rate to be called a school rate to be levied, except in the cases hereafter provided, in the same manner as the local rate."
said, he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Amendment. In the greater number of cases the school rate would be levied in the same way as the highway rate or the police rate. As his hon. Friend knew, it was under consideration whether there ought not to be one general rate for all local purposes. He was sure this Amendment would defeat the object his hon. Friend had so much at heart—to save the pockets of the ratepayers—by adding the expense of a separate collection.
said, he thought that at least there should be a separate line of charge for the school rate, so that people might know how much it amounted to in the pound.
said, he thought that the rate would be placed in a separate line of charge.
said, there was nothing novel in the proposal contained in the Amendment. The practice, he understood, was adopted in Scotland, and it would satisfy the ratepayers if they saw the amount of the rate set forth on the paper.
said, he could not at once pledge himself to agree even to this Amendment, though he did not object to it. He imagined, indeed, that its principle was already in the clause; but he would consult the draftsman, and see if it could, without inconvenience, be rendered more clear.
said, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not accept the Amendment, the object of which was, by exhibiting the amount of the rate, to make the Act unpopular. ["No, no!"] He would not be deterred from stating his own conclusions. The tendency of all such measures was to add to the expense of the rate and to make it unpopular.
said, it was hardly fair to ascribe such motives to those on his side of the House. Their object was to carry out the best possible measure with as little expense as possible. As to the plan proposed by the hon. Member, they all knew that in London every separate item, such as lighting, paving, police, main drainage, and so forth, with the separate rate of charge for each, was set forth in the notice paper for the local rates.
said, he was afraid he must oppose the plan. Taking this Amendment in conjunction with some others that the hon. Gentleman had on the Paper, he thought it would amount to a revolution in the law of rating.
said, he must deny that he had any such intention. In towns nothing was more common than that the rate for sewers, free libraries, museums, &c, was distinctly charged; and as they were about in some cases to establish free schools, his object was to induce the small ratepayers to watch any increase in the expenditure, and see that the school Board did not pass the scholars in too freely.
said, he knew that in certain districts the county rate and the police rate were often blamed as the cause of an increase for which they were quite innocent, owing to this separation not being made.
said, the system would lead to great trouble and expense. They would have to calculate such fractions as one-tenth or two-twelfths of a penny, and these fractions would add greatly to the expense of making out the notices. Amendment negatived.
said, he rose to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice—namely, in page 16, line 35, at the end, to add—
This Amendment proposed to give to the Education Department, after investigation, power to remit in certain cases a part or the whole of the rates which might fall on any parish. This exemption, he submitted, was in perfect accordance with the spirit and principle of the Bill as introduced by the Government, which he took to be not to provide an entirely new system of education, but to supply the deficiencies of that which now existed. The right hon. Gentleman himself had said that it was neither his duty nor his wish to discourage voluntary efforts. But it was because in many cases this Bill, as it stood, would discourage voluntary contributions and wipe out voluntary schools that he submitted the Amendment. If a hard and fast line were drawn it would certainly entail hardship in many instances, and his object was that there should be authority to alleviate that hardship where justice seemed to demand it. Certain portions of a borough might be already very well supplied with schools, while others would have to meet their deficiencies by rating, and it might be very unjust to exact contributions from the former. In many places where districts had been formed out of parishes, and where schools had been provided at great expense, it would be very hard to call upon those districts to pay a contribution to the rates of the parish. A precedent for the exemption he proposed was to be found in a very important Act—the Public Health Act of 1848—and also in the Local Government Act of 1858, and thus it appeared that Parliament had deliberately adopted the principle, as there was an interval of 10 years between the two Acts. For what he proposed no fresh rating area or fresh rating authority would be required; there would be no new boundaries to be drawn; all that was necessary would be that in boroughs the rate should not be collected, or only partially collected, from certain parishes; and in such districts as he had mentioned there would be no difficulty in withdrawing certain tenements from the rate, as was done with regard to the severs' rate under the Public Health Act. It might be objected that there were many parts of boroughs where the poor were collected in one quarter and the rich in another, and that the latter might say they had built schools of their own, and would not contribute to the schools of the poor. That objection might hold good if a hard and fast line were drawn; but the rich part of a borough would hardly have the face to come to the Education Department and say they declined to bear any portion of the rate for the schools of the poor. The right hon. Gentleman desired to educate the children who were now neglected. He had bestowed much time and attention on the measure, and had overcome great difficulties with regard to it. He hoped he would not hesitate to do this act of justice, otherwise he would inflict a heavy blow and great discouragement on those who had borne the burden and heat of the day. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment. Amendment moved."Provided always, That when a parish as defined under this Act, or under the Act of the thirty-first and thirty-second years of the reign of Her present Majesty, chapter one hundred and nine, possessing a sufficient amount of public school accommodation, is situate within a school district or school districts as formed under this Act, the like persons, being resident in such parish, as are authorized to apply for a public inquiry after the first returns under this Act may, if they feel aggrieved, apply in like manner for public inquiry, and the Education Department shall cause a public inquiry to be held in manner provided by this Act, and shall consider the report made to them upon such inquiry; and if upon such report the Education Department shall be satisfied that a claim has been made out by such parish for exemption, they shall serve their precept on the rating authority of the school district in which such parish is situate, requiring such authority to deduct from the amount of rate otherwise chargeable under this Act in respect of such parish such a sum, and for such a time as the Education Department may under all the circumstances deem to be just."
said, he must congratulate the hon. Gentleman for the very clear way in which he had stated his case; but he was sorry he could not accede to the Amendment. The question that had been discussed on Tuesday was practically the same—namely, whether they could in any case divide the unit of rating; and after full debate the Committee came to the conclusion they could not. He thought they ought to take the same area for the school rate as for the poor rate.
said, he was sorry the right hon. Gentleman could not agree to this Amendment. The precedent of the drainage rate, to which his hon. Friend (Mr. Kennaway) had referred, was one exactly in point; for several Acts of Parliament had enacted that when drainage was required for one district in a parish the inhabitants of that district should be called upon to bear the expense, instead of that expense being defrayed by the whole parish. There would be no risk of separating the rich from the poor, because all that his hon. Friend asked was that the consideration of this matter should be left to the Education Department, and any application on this point should be de- termined by them after due inquiry. The result of drawing this hard and fast line would be to make many who had hitherto subscribed to voluntary schools withdraw their subscriptions; because if they found, in spite of establishing and supporting efficient schools in their own neighbourhood, they were called upon to contribute to the education of another district, they would leave everything to be done out of the rates. In the interests, therefore, of the voluntary schools he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman would not concur in the Amendment moved by his hon. Friend with so much ability.
said, he maintained that the adoption of the Amendment would, especially in many portions of the metropolis, relieve the richer districts from any contribution towards the educational necessities of their poorer neighbours. He hoped the Government would not entertain any such proposition. He did not believe that the enforced contributions towards these schools would lead to the neglect of the voluntary schools, because in the former the discipline would necessarily be more strict than in the latter.
said, that there might be something in the hon. Gentleman's (Dr. Brewer's) argument if the wealthy districts were always well supplied with schools and the poorer districts educationally destitute. This was, however, far from being the fact, and he (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) personally knew of cases where the poorer districts had, by great efforts, done all that was necessary for themselves—there were parts of the metropolis where there was not a £20 house in the whole district, which had supplied themselves, not only with schools of the lowest class, but also of the lower middle class—and these districts would, if the proposal of his hon. Friend (Mr. Kennaway) were not adopted, be called upon to contribute towards the richer districts in which this duty had been neglected. Assuming that in one district there was an ample supply of schools, and in its three neighbours a great deficiency, was it just or reasonable, without a full inquiry by the Educational Department, to call upon those who had performed their duty to make up for the shortcomings of their neighbours? Again, to unite parishes for the purpose of form- ing a school-rating district would operate very unjustly to some parishes. It was to be remembered that all the associations and affections of men were often confined to the parish in which they lived and died, and they would be very unwilling to see the advantages arising out of their benefactions to their parish bestowed on others. The matter had not, it was true, been entirely lost sight of; but the Amendment proposed by his hon. Friend would more effectually secure the object intended. He hoped his right hon. Friend (Mr. Kennaway) would hesitate to mulct those who had done their duty; who had done what was required in their localities by voluntary means, who did not ask for anything more than the ordinary Parliamentary Grant, and who only asked that they might escape the fine inflicted on those who had not done their duty.
said, Clause 34 was designed to enable a parish which was supplied to object to being united with a parish that was not supplied, and on the bringing up of the Report he proposed to insert words which would explain this more clearly. With regard to some parishes, he did not deny that hardship might be inflicted occasionally; but you could not avoid that, unless you drew a cordon around every place that was provided, and, of course, it would be quite impossible to do that. Credit must be given to the Government for having endeavoured to do as much as they could; strong pressure was brought to boar upon them to divide the country once for all into school districts, with school Boards, but they resisted that pressure, because they thought it would be just to enable districts that were well provided to be let alone; but if you went below the parochial unit you would be plunged in difficulties which it would be better to avoid by having school Boards everywhere.
observed, that under the Duke of Marlborough's Act these ecclesiastical districts had become real parishes.
said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) had scarcely been answered. Of course, it was impossible in a Bill of this kind to cover every case; but it ought to confer power upon the Department to deal with exceptional cases as they occurred. He received a letter yesterday morning relating to an ecclesiastical district, fully supplied with schools, cut out of a parish by no means well supplied; and the inhabitants of the district were naturally anxious to know whether they were to be taxed to provide schools for the rest of the extensive parish. Such cases as these ought to receive the attention of the Education Department, which ought to have power to deal with them.
said, he hoped the Vice President of the Council would not entangle himself with subdivisions and would not arm himself with powers which he might depend upon it he would be called upon to exercise from all quarters. As to districts being carved out of municipalities and special rates levied upon them, that was never done to the satisfaction of anyone concerned, for no rate could be levied with a strict regard to all equities. The supposed injustice would be inflicted upon the poor, and even a 4d. rate upon a £6 rental was only 2s., or not a halfpenny a week. If the right hon. Gentleman attempted to administer equity street by street he would be involved in inextricable difficulty.
said, he would remind the Committee of the little progress that had been made that evening. This very question had been previously debated for several hours, when the same arguments were used. He could only repeat what he had said—that the Department could not undertake the responsibility of finding out what persons had done their duty and ought to be relieved from rates. For the reasons he had already stated the Government could not accept the Amendment.
said, he hoped the hon. Member (Mr. Kennaway) would not divide, because there must be some unit, and whichever unit was chosen some hardships must inevitably be inflicted. If a larger unit containing a school were chosen, the whole would be taxed to supply a part where the inhabitants had done nothing for themselves. If a smaller district, or part of a parish were taken, then that part which contained the school buildings would be free from taxation, although the whole parish had contributed to the expense of building them; while the remaining parts of the parish would all be taxed over again. Thus, in either way, a district well supplied with schools would be taxed a second time for the good of an unsupplied district.
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) would not consent to interfere, unless good cause could be shown, with ancient boundaries to which the people were attached.
said, a parish was not so easily and simply dealt with as some imagined. In his own county there were civil parishes of large extent and population; some parishes contained six ecclesiastical districts; and if one of the six had been neglected, and the other five were furnished with schools, was it right or fair that the one should cause the other five to be taxed, and to be brought under a school Board which was required for only a small part of the parish? They did not propose to make new boundaries or landmarks, they only wished for a proper consideration of those already fixed by law.
said, he had been misunderstood as proposing new boundaries, whereas he had chosen those that were clearly defined. Regretting that the Committee would not accept his Amendment, he preferred to have it negatived. Amendment negatived.
said, he would beg to move, in page 17, line 2, at end, to add—
In reference to the statement of the First Minister of the Crown that he was proposing new and revolutionary changes in the system of rating, he desired to point out that the rates with regard to public libraries, museums, and in reference to the public health, levied as they were for the purpose of improving the human mind and body, were collected on the principle he proposed to introduce into the Bill; but under the measure as it now stood a man employing in a factory 20 or 30 persons might only be called on to pay an education rate of £1, while a farmer employing only one or two might have to pay £4."Provided always, That the owner of any tithes or any tithe commutation rent-charge, or the occupier of any land used as arable, meadow, or pasture ground only, or as woodlands, market gardens, or nursery grounds, and the occupier of any land covered with water, or used only as a canal or towing-path for the same, or as a railway constructed under any Act of Parliament for public conveyance, shall pay, in respect of the said property, one-fourth part only of the rate in the pound payable in respect of houses and other property."
thought that the Prime Minister had, though unintentionally, reflected unjustly on his hon. Friend, for the words employed by the hon. Member were extracted from Acts passed by an Administration of which the right hon. Gentleman was a leading Member, and which referred to subjects bearing exact analogy to the matter of the present Bill. They were told that farmers were afraid of a rate, and a 3d. rate might appear a small matter; but he could assure the Committee that it was to the farmer equal to a 6d. income tax. With regard to the rate, he objected not so much to a rate being levied as to the mode in which it was to be levied. Instead of being levied on the rental of an hereditament, it should be levied on the profits produced.
said, he trusted the hon. Member would not press the Proviso, which would in such a district as St. George's-in-the-East throw an additional burden on the poorer inhabitants, while exempting a railway company from three-fourths of the rate. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he would beg to move, in page 17, after line 20, to insert—
His idea was that those who had already voluntarily taxed themselves for the great public object of advancing education should not be taxed twice, while those who would be compulsorily brought in, to carry out what had voluntarily been established, would only be taxed once. The effect of the Amendment upon the latter would be to call upon them to make good their defaulting volunteer in the past, and for the future put all on an equality in the national cause. The object of the Bill should be, with all thanks for service done, to supply what was wanting by rating defaulting contributors—that those who had done nothing hitherto should be made to take their share. The rate was in lieu of subscriptions. If the Bill remained in its present shape three-fourths of the burden, or, he might say, nine-tenths, would rest on the willing men who had been for years engaged in establishing the present system. Take the case of Stoke-upon-Trent. The Church people had there supplied all the existing schools. When a school Board was formed, and a rate had to be levied for new schools, the Church people, who possessed the greater portion of all property in the place, would not only be called upon to maintain all the existing schools, but they would have to bear in addition nine-tenths of the expenses rendered necessary for supplementary schools, in order to complete the system. On grounds of expediency it was not wise to put this premium on the extinction of volunteers. Were they so sure that the tax on the unwilling would supply the discarded benevolences? It was all very well for those whose object it was to destroy the existing national schools—as the hon. and learned Member for Oxford had plainly stated it to be his desire—to support the line taken in the Bill. He had no doubt hon. Members below the Gangway would adopt that view, and boldly confess their jealousy of what had been done, and express their desire to supersede rather than supplement it; but he ventured to say that as soon as the scheme was seen through, the League would run the risk of losing its position before the public. The measure, in their view, should be called a Bill for superseding, and not for providing, national education. Even the Prime Minister had treated the offer of a higher Treasury Grant as a bonus to the volunteers, now it was offered to both alike. He proposed that the doubly weighted should be made equal with the singly weighted in this race of national service. He could hardly conceive that any answer could be made to his proposition, except as to the possibility of carrying it out. But it was not impracticable; it might be effected by adopting the American and Canadian principle—namely, that subject to the approval of the schools by the central authority, everyone might contribute to national education, either voluntarily or by rate; in fact, might have an option in appropriating their contribution to any recognized schools, and if they were to follow that principle it would not be the first lesson they had learnt from the Colonies. He thought his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council would find great difficulty in resisting the proposition on the ground of justice, expediency, or possibility."Ratepayers voluntarily subscribing to public elementary schools approved by the Educational Department within any district shall be entitled to deduct such subscription from any contribution to the local rates made for a school Board to which they would otherwise be liable."
said, that his right hon. Friend (Sir Charles Adderley) had not given the Government the credit of having shown any great desire to consider the case of voluntary schools. But they had been really most desirous to do so, and in that way had raised considerable opposition, and, to some extent, endangered their measure. Their object throughout had not been any great care for one system over the other, but to get the education of the people provided for, and to use all the force which existed in the country for providing it. He believed the overweighting of which the right hon. Gentleman complained would not really be felt. On the one hand, they had given full scope to municipal action; and, on the other, offered no discouragement to that benevolent force that had done so much and would do so much more. The subscribers to those schools to which his right hon. Friend alluded gave the Government credit for that desire, and he did not believe they would support this Amendment. If applied to the poor rate, the proposition would amount to this—that those who did their duty as neighbours, and performed the acts of charity in which he feared most of them were too remiss, should be able to set off their benefactions as against the poor rate. Would they not almost consider it an insult to be exempted from poor rate because they performed their private duty? He did not believe that those benevolent gentlemen who had supported these schools with so much liberality would thank his right hon. Friend for proposing that they should be excluded in the school district from promoting the schools necessary for that district. For what would be the result? They would have nothing to do with their management. The whole management and expenditure of the school fund would be thrown into the hands of those who had not cared to do their duty hitherto in this matter of education. It was not, therefore, solely on the score of practical difficulty, but also on the ground of principle, that he opposed this Amendment.
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 47 (Apportionment of school fund in united and contributory district).
said, the clause enabled contributions to be sent from the school Board of one parish to the school Board in another parish; but he wished to know if that could be done in cases where there was no school Board in the contributing parish? If not, the result might be very unsatisfactory, as there were some parishes which might prefer to have no school Board, and yet might be willing to make a voluntary contribution to a neighbouring parish with a school Board and a rate-aided school, in return for taking their children from an outlying district. The alternative might be an inferior school in that district.
said, the case was met by a previous clause, the 41st. A school district in which there was no school Board might contribute to one in which there was a school Board.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 48 agreed to.
Clause 49 (Expense of providing school may be spread over thirty years).
said, he hoped that in agreeing to that clause the Committee would not be precluded from discussing at a subsequent portion of the Bill the question as to giving building grants.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 50 (Accounts to be made up and examined).
said, he wished to move an Amendment. By the clause as it stood the accounts in different places were to be made up at different times; but it was very desirable that they should all be made up at one date, so that the audit should take place at the same time in every case. The Amendment which he moved would have the effect of making that arrangement.
said, he had no objection to the Amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 51 (Audit in a borough).
said, he would not move any Amendment; but desired to draw the attention of the First Lord of the Treasury to the unsatisfactory mode of auditing provided in this clause. It was proposed that in boroughs the auditing should be done by the auditor of the Town Council. Now, the Town Council, he believed, appointed their own auditor, who was to render his audit to the Town Council. But when persons rendered an account and audited it themselves it could not be said that there was any real auditing. The same objection applied, in some measure, to the auditing in the rural districts, as proposed by the Bill. He trusted, therefore, that some better system would be devised.
said, he would propose to omit the clause, in order that the audit should be made by the Poor Law auditor.
said, the Poor Law auditors had power to disallow all charges which were not properly incurred. They made a searching examination, and a number of items were continually disallowed. He hoped the clause would be omitted.
Clause 52 (Audit in a district not a borough).
Amendment proposed, in page 19, line 1, to leave out from "from" to "department" in line 2, both inclusive, and insert—
"The auditor of accounts relating to the relief of the poor for the audit district in which the school district is situate, or if it is situate in more than one audit district by such of the auditors of the said audit district as the Poor Law Board may direct, and the term audit district in this provision shall be construed to include a parish for which an auditor is separately appointed to audit the accounts for the relief of the poor."—(Mr. W. E. Forster.)
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 53 agreed to.
Clause 54 (Publication of accounts).
said, he wished to move an Amendment providing that the balance-sheets should be published in the local newspaper. The evidence given before the Committee which sat on the subject of County Financial Boards showed that in all cases where the accounts were advertised in the local papers no complaints were made, although the expenditure was greater than in those cases where the accounts were not so published, and respecting which complaints were numerous. Publicity allayed suspicion. Amendment proposed, in page 20, line 17, after the word "Department," to insert the words "and shall publish an abstract of the same in some local newspaper circulating in the district in which the school Board is situate,"—
said, he must object to the Amendment, which would put the school Boards to considerable expense. He would remind the hon. Member that any ratepayer could obtain a balance-sheet for 6d. under the clause.
said, the cost of advertising the accounts in a local newspaper would be about 3s. 6d.
said, he would suggest that the statement of accounts should be furnished to ratepayers for 1d. instead of 6d.
said, he would suggest to the hon. Member for South-west Lancashire (Mr. Cross) to make the publication in newspapers permissive, and not obligatory.
said, it would be very imprudent to give the newspapers of a district a vested right to advertisements.
thought that an abstract might be published.
said, that the school Boards might have the option; but certainly they ought not to be compelled to publish the accounts in the manner proposed.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 89; Noes 217: Majority 128.
Amendment proposed, in page 20, line 17, after "departure," to insert—
"And may if they think fit publish such statement, or an abstract thereof, in any local newspaper or newspapers circulating within the district."—(Mr. W. E. Forster.)
objected to such an unnecessary waste of money.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 55 (Proceedings on default by school Board).
said, he would suggest that as the clause enabled the Committee of Council to nominate persons to act as members of a school Board, in case the selected members did not carry out the provisions of the Bill, it would be well to insert words stating that the Committee acted after "full inquiry "or for "full and sufficient reasons," or some words of a similar effect.
said, he was obliged to the noble Lord. The Committee would be glad to satisfy the public that they did not act without reason, and he would consider whether effect might not be given to the noble Lord's suggestion.
said, he would beg to move, in page 20, line 39, after "Act" to insert—
Rating power had been granted to the school Boards, and the moment a school Board became defaulters the power fell into the hands of the Education Department, whose interference practically did away with local administration. He hoped that very exceptional power would not be granted."Save and except any provision for making or levying a rate, or the appointment of any officer or officers to act as overseers within such place, or any access to any valuation lists or rate books for the said purpose, unless under the sanction of the rating authority for the said district given as by law otherwise prescribed."
said, the Government had every confidence in municipal action; but they must have some security that the work required to be done by the school Boards would be done. The security they took was the power to step in and do the work themselves if it was not otherwise done. The power taken by the clause was intended to be a stringent one; but it would be altogether nugatory if the Amendment of the hon. Member were adopted.
said, he thought that in justice to the Irish Members, and in pursuance of the promise given to them, the Chairman ought now to be directed to report Progress. The noble Lord then moved to report Progress.
said, the Processions (Ireland) Bill had been put down to have the second turn; but he was not aware of any promise, except that the Bill was to have the second turn. A Bill in that order must await the convenience and the disposition of the House with regard to the principal Bill. The University Tests Bill stood in that position some nights ago, but it was not found convenient to take it. He thought it was clearly for the public convenience and the convenience of the House that the Committee should make all possible progress with the education question.
said, he wished to confirm what had been stated by the noble Lord. It had been understood by the Irish Members that the Chief Secretary was anxious to make a statement in regard to the Pro- cessions (Ireland) Bill, and that he would give them an opportunity of discussing that subject at a reasonable hour. If the Education Bill was important to England, so also was it extremely important to Ireland that that question should be discussed, and that the opinions of the Government should be clearly stated upon it. The anniversary to which people in that country were looking forward would occur next week, and if the Bill were not brought on that night there was no other chance of the subject being fairly discussed before that event.
said, he had understood the Chief Secretary to say that he would make a statement in respect to party processions in Ireland that night, and it would be most unreasonable to expect the House to hear such a statement if other hon. Gentlemen were not to have an opportunity of deliberately expressing their opinions also. At the same time, he would suggest that the clause under discussion should be disposed of before Progress was reported.
said, he had never intended or desired to make a statement except at an hour that would give a reasonable opportunity for others to follow him, and he had promised not to bring on the Processions (Ireland) Bill after half-past 12.
said, he felt that the Irish Members had been much trifled with by the Government in respect to the Processions Bill, which had been distinctly understood would be the second Order that night, and would be taken at an hour when there could be a full discussion.
said, the only engagement on the subject was that the Processions Bill would not be brought on after a certain hour, and he must appeal to the feeling of the Committee as to the propriety of continuing the discussion of the first Order.
said, he was afraid the Factories and Workshops Bill, which stood lower on the Paper than the Party Processions Bill, would not be reached, till about three in the morning.
said, the Chief Secretary had promised to make his statement that evening, provided the University Tests Bill had been previously read the third time.
said, in reply to the statement of the First Minister of the Crown, he must say that on Monday week he asked the Chief Secretary to fix a day, previous to the Assizes, for discussing the Processions Bill, when he replied that he would put it on the Paper for Monday, July 4th, and if he could not then bring it on he would name another day for doing so. Last Monday the Chief Secretary accordingly fixed the Bill for that night.
said, he also wished to set the First Minister right. He maintained that a distinct understanding had been come to that the Processions Bill should be brought on at a reasonable hour that evening.
said, he could assure the House that he was really anxious to meet its convenience, and he was authorized to say that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) would enable him to make the statement on the subject on Monday next, not later than 11 o'clock.
said, that, as far as he was personally concerned, Monday would not be a convenient day. In the North of Ireland it would be thought that the Government wanted to get rid of that question.
said, though not satisfied with the promise of the Government, he was willing to withdraw his Motion to allow the Clause then before the Committee to be passed.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause ordered, to stand part of the Bill.
LORD CLAUD JOHN HAMILTON moved that Progress be reported.
said, he believed that, although it was hardly possible for more than one side to be right in a quarrel, it was perfectly possible for both sides to be wrong. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Claud John Hamilton), without being able to show that any engagement had been made, had done what was most unreasonable in endeavouring to interfere with the progress of the Education Bill. From the indications which the noble Lord had given he had no doubt as to what the result would be, and, therefore, as he did not wish to be in the wrong with the noble Lord, he would give way, only asking that the next two clauses, which were of a merely formal character, and which his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster) wished to have taken that night, might be allowed to pass.
said, he was quite content to let others decide who was in the wrong on that occasion. If the Chief Secretary had used ambiguous language, the responsibility for any misunderstanding that had arisen in consequence did not rest with his (the Opposition) side of the House. He was, however, ready to accede to their now disposing of the next two clauses.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Clauses 56 and 57 agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the Clock.