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Scottish Education Department

Volume 65: debated on Tuesday 28 July 1914

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37.

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he has recently received any representations from Scotland in favour of enlarged areas for Scottish educational administration; and whether the Scottish Education Department has reached any conclusion on the subject?

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. There is a good deal of difference of opinion on the subject, and I am not at present prepared to make any statement.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman how long it will be before the Scottish Education Department makes up its mind in the matter, more especially as the Department appears to be under the control of bureaucrats?

In this case we cannot be accused of bureaucratic or arbitrary action. The fact is that there is very great difference of opinion among Scottish Members on this subject.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if the question does not refer to the Scottish Education Department's mind and not to the mind of the Scottish Members? Will the right hon. Gentleman give a straight answer for once in a way?

My hon. Friend is a little inconsistent. In one breath he complains of bureaucratic behaviour, and in the next he complains that the Scottish Department is deferring to the wishes of the Scottish Members.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he could not take the initiative of calling a meeting of the Scottish Members to discuss this extremely important question?

Is it not quite possible for local areas to be amalgamated and enlarged under the power conferred by the Act of 1908 in cases where the authorities desire that the areas should be enlarged?

The hon. and learned Member is quite right. There is power, but, unfortunately, the rates are affected dissimilarly in different districts, and the one which is adversely affected generally objects.

38.

asked the Secretary for Scotland what is the final result of the negotiations in Berwickshire for the constitution of the county as a single administrative area for education?

The negotiations in question have broken down and the Committee in intimating this result state that, while they approve of larger areas, they consider that the matter can only be satisfactorily arranged by legislation.

Does not my right hon. Friend think that the answers to the last two questions show quite clearly the desirability that the Scottish Education Department should take some definite forward step now in order to ascertain whether the bulk of Scottish opinion is in favour of this change or not?

The matter cannot be dealt with except by legislation, and it is quite impossible to promise legislation at this moment,

As preparatory to legislation, is it not desirable to undertake further inquiry in the matter?

I am pretty well acquainted with Scottish opinion, but if my hon Friend can suggest some way of ascertaining it more fully I will be very glad to consider it.