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ANOTHER EDUCATION BILL

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ANOTHER EDUCATION BILL EVIDENCE is accumulating that the Government meditate yetl another attempt to alter Mr. BAL- FOUR'S great Education Act of 1902, which may affect adversely the elementary schools of the Church. It is true that in Lord HALDANB'S speeches on the subject he laid special stress upon "tihe importance of improving the system of secon- dary education, and of so co-ordinating it with ele- mentary schools as to bridge over the gap which at present exists between the two. And he may rely upon the support of the country generally, irrespective of class or creed, for any honest and well considered herno for this purpose. But the organised forces of political Nonconformity are already bringing pressure to bear upon the Govern- ment, and unless the LORD CHANCELLOR and other members of the Administration are prepared to disregard this pressure, a satisfactory result will not be attained. Unfortunately in this, as in other matters of even greater importance, the Government feels itself bound to truckle to the Nonconformist vote. Such, at any rate, is the im- preseion to be gathered from the speech of Lord Crewe last week. from which it may be assumed that the three points which the Nonconformist Parliamentary Committee urged upon the Govern- ment in regard to an Education Bill this Session, will be embodied in the new measure when it appears. The points are as follows:â(1) That there should be a Council school within reasonable reach of every child; (2) that the local authorities should be under compulsion to provide such school; and (3) that there should be a Government grant to the extent of three-fourths of the cost of this provision. It will be seen that the first of these points in practice revives the old demand, that the definite I religious teaching in Church schools should either be abandoned for a nebulous undenominationalism, satisfactory to Nonconformists- alone, or that a separate school should be built for the use of Non- conformists in every parish, even though not a dozen children of Nonconfomist parents could be found in such parish, and these had hitherto been satisfied with the religious teaching in the Church school. The second point roundly requires that the local authorities shall be compelled to provide Council schools however unnecessary in their judg- i ment, thev may bp.- whilst, tihA t'hi..t1 t1oTY"Aa 4-1.04- OJ" "L.t.I/ 11.&.4" most of the cost of providing these unnecessary buildings should bo thrown upon the Imperial Ex- chequer. and not upon the local rates. The object of this manoeuvre is of course obvious. Political Nonconformists realise that ratepayers will con- tinue to oppose as strenuously as they have done in the past the erection of schools merely to gratify sectarian spite. Hence the proposal to throw three-fourths of the cost upon the Imperial Ex- chequer in the belief that the expenditure would not be directly felt by those concerned. The resolutions passed at the meeting of the Free Church Council at Newcastle last month, showed that the political Nonconformists by whom the Council is dominated have learnt nothing and for- gotten nothing. Tne failure of the successive Education Bills introduced by Mr. BIRRELL, Mr. MCKEKNA, and Mr. RUXCIMAX should have taught them that the country as a whole is not prepared to crush out of existence efficient voluntary and denominational schools in favour of an undenomina- tional sysfem satisfactory to Nonconformists alone. Yet we find them urging the relief of the rate- payer from the obligation to contribute funds for denominational teaching and the removal of the present hardship in single school areas." The "Free" Churchmen concluded with some- thing in the nature of a flhreat, for one of the Council declared that "the Free Churches had made the triumph of the Government possible, and that they had been patient to such a degree that their patience had been misinterpreted." Intimations of this character addressed to a Coalition Government like the present justify a word of caution to Church- men in regard to any Education Bill introduced by the existing Ministry. It is evident that the policy of political Nonconformists has undergone no change, and there is little in the past record of the Government to encourage the hope that they would !-f,aTid out for the principles of equal justice to all classes of schools and the recognition of the rights of parents. It is all the more necessary, therefore, carefully to scrutinise their proposals relating to Education in the interests alike of religious equality, parental rights, and economical adminis- tration.

NOTES OF THE WEEK.