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at the public expense which is not otherwise needed, where parents may have their children taught their religion, and the Church organisation will also have its Sunday school kept in repair at the expense of the locality.
When Lord Crewe placed his amendments on the paper it appeared that he had failed to find a halfway house, and had been forced to travel the whole road to Chatsworth before he could find a resting place.
The operative words of Lord Crewe's amendment provide that under certain conditions the commissioners shall, unless they consider there are further grounds for refusing a transfer, order the local authority to continue the school offered them.
Practically it would be very rare for the school not to be taken over if the prescribed conditions are fulfilled. These are: (1) that the Board of Education must certify the school to be structurally suitable; (2) that the school is or is likely to be required for the purpose of providing a sufficient number of school places.
Now all these schools are at present public elementary schools, and therefore passed by the Board of Education as structurally suitable. Many of them are nevertheless extremely bad, as may be seen by the surveyor's reports made to various local authorities. But is it likely that the Board of Education will pass a vote of censure on itself by declaring that the schools which it is at the time of the Report recognising as structurally suitable are not structurally suitable? Again, Lord Crewe explained that the words 'the school is likely to be required' were inserted for the purpose of treating a possible growth of population hereafter as a reason for compelling a local authority at present to maintain an unnecessary school. The cost to the rates, the injury to education, would be very great if this tenderness to denominational claims were to stand in the way of the effective organisation of the school supply of a district. Far better, if a compromise is needed, to take the one suggested in Committee by Lord St. Aldwyn and provide that where the local authority refuse to take over a Voluntary school otherwise suitable on the ground that it is not needed, the two days' facilities may be granted in some other adjoining Council school, either by the act of the local authority if necessary, by the order of the Board of Education.
As a matter of fact the local authorities, from friendliness to denominational schools and from reluctance to incur expense, will far rather try and take over all the schools offered them than seek to build new ones. The real danger is not persecution of the Voluntary schools, but reluctance to spend money in the improvement of education in opposition to a section powerful if in a minority, and master of the situation if, as in many counties, they are in a majority.
Another point on which the Government was willing to give way was on the right of the parent to send his child to school only during
the period of secular teaching. As a matter of fact, in a small village school a child demanding the benefit of the conscience clause cannot, if present, receive any secular instruction. The staff are all engaged on the Bible teaching. The child cannot even be placed in a separate room. At best he may be set to do sums or to transcribe some passage on the same bench with the others who are receiving their Scripture lesson, and he therefore has all the appearance of a marked child in disgrace doing a punishment. This compulsion to attend school means in practice compulsion to receive the Bible lesson, and is really an indirect attempt to make religious teaching compulsory. Even in town schools it is almost impossible to organise separate secular instruction for scholars withdrawn. I have seen the attempt made in good faith and have seen it break down.
The Bill of 1906 had a proposal for the distribution of 1,000,000l. a year, some of which would have gone in rent, much of it in repairs of dilapidated school buildings. It is to be hoped that this million will go hereafter to what would be really to the advantage of education-the replacing of bad, worn out, obsolete Voluntary schools by new well-planned Council schools.
In 1887, nearly twenty years ago, Viscount Cross's Commission of strongly Conservative character recommended that the time had come when a higher standard should be enforced in regard to school accommodation and planning.
It certainly is high time now that every elementary school should be required to satisfy the rules of planning of the department, and notice should be given as soon as possible that this necessary improvement of existing schools should be a condition of recognition.
At least ten square feet per scholar, proper lighting and ventilation, proper sized class-rooms, proper cloak-rooms, lavatories and offices, proper playground: all these should be demanded, and managers might be required within six months to show that contracts had been signed and the work was in hand. As probably many schools would thereby be discontinued and a heavy strain would be thrown on local authorities, they might well be offered a subsidy of four-fifths of their loan and sinking fund to enable them to meet the charge. The 1,000,000l. offered by the Bill of 1906 would cover an expenditure of 20,000,000l., leaving 5,000,000l. at the charge of the localities; but the substitution of good new schools of reasonable size and with properly arranged class-rooms would probably lead to a saving of yearly cost quite equal to the interest and sinking fund on that 5,000,000l., besides ensuring a great increase in efficiency, and far healthier and pleasanter conditions of work for teachers and scholars. The provision of halls and proper playgrounds in our towns would do much for the physical development of our population.
As to the Voluntary schools which should be found satisfactory and fit to take over, I cannot admit the propriety of paying any
rent for buildings held in trust for education. The managers under the Act of 1870 have power to disregard any provision of their trust which prevents them complying with the code conditions for annual grants. They have also power to transfer their schools, and the Board of Education never allowed a rent to be paid for premises held in trust.
I do not believe there are many parishes where the population would tolerate a Church school standing empty if fit for use while they were rated to pay three-fourths of the cost of a new school. The old managers would get the building kept in repair for them for Sunday school and parochial use. They would also have the right of access twice a week for special teaching, which is oftener than they generally used it formerly. In short, the Board of Education in the Bill of 1906 offered inducements which were contrary to their former practice, and in my opinion quite unnecessary when the transition is being made to a national system.
When we turn from the controversial parts of the Bill, which are connected with ecclesiastical struggles for supremacy, we may ask, Is there anything in the Bill which promotes education?
I would answer, that as the clearing away of the jungle must precede cultivation, so the establishment of a consistent municipal system is a necessary preliminary to effective education. But not till we reach Clause 20 and Part II. of the Bill do we get out of the controversial atmosphere.
Section 20 is a well-meaning attempt to improve on the excessive centralisation over wide rural areas of the Act of 1902. In my opinion it does not do enough, and until we have, at any rate in the large towns, educational authorities separate from and independent of the ordinary municipal authorities, we shall not get an adequate supply of local interest in education. But Section 20 represents a considerable amount of thoughtful agreement, and is worth having as far as it goes, though that is not very far.
Section 21 is good, and so is Section 24, but it is a pity that the unnecessary intrusion of the Local Government Board into the approval of loans for educational purposes has not been repealed, and that the Education Department is not reinstated in its sole action.
Section 31 contains many interesting provisions, and subsection (b), as to medical arrangements, would probably prove of very great advantage; subsection (c) also restores a valuable power of aiding scholars by bursaries in elementary schools, which was, I think, inadvertently repealed in 1902. It is a pity that the right of retaining scholars up to sixteen in the elementary school, without requiring the special consent of the Board of Education, has not been granted. There can be no proper organisation of higher elementary schools without this concession of an extra year.
How the present Government will deal with the education question
is for them to decide. Much may be done. Much should be done by resolute administration, but the forces which carried the Education Bill through the Commons, the unprecedented vote which rejected the Lords' Amendments by nearly four to one, show that within a very short time national education must be taken entirely out of the hands of ecclesiastical bodies and made definitely and completely a part of the lay municipal activities of the nation.
Justice requires that all should have equal treatment. If the denominations protest against the admission of any municipal Bible teaching, they have a right to oppose the principle of a State Church applied to the communal school, and Liberals should be glad to take them at their word and get rid of all State Churches, whether for the whole nation and for all ages or limited to children in the day schools. But if Anglicans really desire Bible teaching to go on, there is no political reason why the State should not continue neutral, as before, and the local authorities have the same discretion that they now have.
In any case the experience of this Session has not been entirely wasted.
The Government may realise how impolitic it is to begin by offering all the concessions and departures from principle which they might perhaps have contemplated as possible while the Bill was going through Parliament. Every party will always try to get more than has been offered to it in the first instance.
Members of the Government may remember another time that it is quite as important in their speeches to conciliate their own side as the other, and that assurances to deputations, inconsistent with the text of the Bill, are not only embarrassing to the speaker, but seriously inconvenient to the loyal supporters of the Bill. It is improbable that we shall see an Education Bill in 1907; but the question cannot go over to another Parliament. Meantime Liberals may fairly expect that those great administrative powers which the department wields shall be so used, that Parliamentary aid, which is exclusively the affair of the Commons, shall be so granted as to give effect to the policy affirmed by an overwhelming majority of that House.
STANLEY OF ALDERLEY.
ENTENTE-ENGLISH OR GERMAN?
ALLIANCES between nations to be durable should be founded on recognised interests and not upon vague sentimentality. It is this conviction which leads me to examine the Anglo-French entente cordiale from the strict point of view of French interests in an English Review. The subject has been fully discussed in French periodicals from the French and in England from the English point of view. But it seems to me that it would be useful to look at the matter from a different angle, and to examine it in France from the English and in England from the French side. I am not qualified to undertake the former task, but with regard to the second I believe that, in a certain degree, I am in a position to submit the question to the readers of this Review.
At the outset, it is important to make clear to the English that it is the aim and intention of the French to strengthen unremittingly and in every way the bonds already existing between the two countries. In this way only will it be possible to create the confidence that a continuance of the present relations rests upon a basis more solid than a sentimental, and therefore only fleeting, enthusiasm. The same result will follow in France, when the English shall have carefully summed up and declared the practical reasons which induce them to draw closer to France. They will in this way convince the French of the reality and stability of their feelings. In a word, from the moment that each nation realises with complete consciousness the urgent motives which are bringing them together, all doubt and doubt-dealing will vanish; the entente will acquire the character of an immovable alliance because, based upon a conformity of aim, and of material interests such as binds together communities and nations-it will have reached its standpoint by natural evolution.
In France at the present time the drift towards Great Britain is real and sincere. It is doubtless more placid and self-restrained than was the outburst of enthusiasm for the Franco-Russian alliance, which lasted from 1892 to 1897 or 1898. It has, moreover, many opponents, whilst, so far as my recollection serves me, the Russian alliance aroused none. Nevertheless, at the present time the FrancoRussian alliance, although like the Triplice still figuring in diplomatic