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now there are only three possible courses: a maximum grant (22s.), a minimum of only a shilling a head less (21s.), or a withdrawal of the grant. Legislation increasing the grantsin-aid to voluntary schools and also to small necessitous Board Schools has been superseded by section 10 of the Education Act 1902
In lieu of the grants under the Voluntary Schools Act 1897, and under section 97 of the Elementary Education Act 1870, as amended by the Elementary Education Act 1897, there shall be annually paid to every local education authority, out of moneys provided by Parliament— (a) A sum equal to four shillings per scholar; and
(b) An additional sum of three halfpence per scholar for every complete twopence per scholar by which the amount which would be produced by a penny rate on the area of the authority falls short of ten shillings a scholar.
The objects of these provisions are-First, to give further relief to the ratepayers in view of the additional burden now thrown upon them of maintaining the voluntary, or nonprovided, schools. It is calculated that the total addition thus made in the contribution of taxes to rates for elementary education will amount to £1,300,000 a year. In 1901-1902 the charge on the Exchequer for this purpose amounted to £9,753,000. The second object of section 10 is the equalisation of burdens by the allocation of money to necessitous
The position of "board” (now “provided") and "voluntary" (or "not provided") schools has been described with sufficient detail in a previous chapter. The work of secondary and higher education is still private or local; but general powers of central inspection were extended for the first time by the Act of 1899 to the intermediate schools of secondary and technical education. The extension, however, was very cautiously made, in pursuance of the principle, which underlies the history of English education, that the
activity of the State should only be introduced and secondary for the purpose of fortifying and completing voluntary effort. Section 3 of the Board of Education Act provides as follows:
The Board of Education may, by their officers, or, after taking the advice of the consultative committee hereinafter mentioned, by any university or other organisation, inspect any school supplying secondary
education, and desiring to be so inspected, for the purpose of ascertaining the character of the teaching in the school and the nature of the provisions made for the teaching and health of the scholars, and may so inspect the school on such terms as may be fixed by the Board of Education with the consent of the Treasury.
Secondary schools in Wales were already subject to inspection by the "Central Welsh Board" under the Welsh Intermediate Education Act 1889 (52 and 53 Vict. c. 40). The Act has worked well in Wales.
Section 4 of the Board of Education Act enables the King in Council, by Order, to establish a consultative committee, two-thirds of which is to consist of persons qualified " to represent the views of Universities and other bodies interested in education," for the purpose of advising the Board of Education and of passing regulations for a register of teachers. Here, then, is the first tentative effort to extend central supervision over secondary schools. A strong impulse has been given of late to the development of all forms of higher education in England, and particularly of technical education, owing to a growing belief that the industrial and commercial interests of the nation and the increasing severity of competition require a better system of industrial and commercial instruction. Until 1899 the only connection of the central government with this movement was financial, Parliament having assigned certain sums of money as well as certain administrative powers to the councils of counties and towns for purposes of secondary education. Much had been done when the statute of 1899 was passed; but there was still waste and overlapping. Accordingly the object of the new Act was, by giving a moderate amount of control to the new Central Board, to introduce a certain measure of uniformity into the province of secondary education, and to guide the local authorities to the acceptance of leading principles and methods in this branch of their work. Accordingly the Act of 1902 was intended, as we have seen, to co-ordinate elementary and higher education by merging the local authorities. But as yet no sort of finality has been reached. There is no agreement as to what is the best form of organisation for secondary schools: the question is still open and is being eagerly discussed. Complaints used to be made that the higher grade schools of some School Boards overlapped with
the secondary schools of some county borough councils. The Education Act of 1902 gets rid of this. But it can hardly be said to concentrate or unify authority even in regard to education other than elementary. From the point of view of central administration, the most interesting feature of the Education Act of 1902 is that it abolishes the power of the Board to replace a defaulting School Board by nominees of its Such a provision, it was doubtless felt, would be inapplicable to any but an ad hoc authority, though that consideration (as we have seen) did not prevent the Legislature from assigning the power to the Board of Agriculture in relation to the very same authorities as those to which the work of education has been entrusted. The power of the Board of Education to interfere with the local education authority in the constitution of an education committee is of little importance, since the executive functions of the education committees depend entirely upon the local education authority.
V. Special Central Authorities of a temporary character— Royal Commissions of Inquiry1
In passing to this last form of departmental activity—a form peculiarly characteristic of the English constitution—we are confronted by the paradox that a temporary commission has in many cases proved to be the precursor of a permanent office and the creator of a new department of English govern
Originally these Commissions rested on the old right of the Crown to hold "inquests" in any part of the land for the better preservation of law and order, and a further right to delegate its executive and judicial powers for this purpose. The misuse by Tudor and Stuart kings of the royal power of delegation led, as we have seen, to the creation of the Star Chamber and other Commissions, and eventually to the general acceptance of the constitutional principle that the Crown may not clothe any new authorities with prerogative power.
But this has not deprived the Crown of its right of inquiry, and indeed that right has received a great accession of importance in an age which has seen the royal prerogative
1 Cf. Gneist, Englisches Verwaltungrecht, edition of 1867, vol. ii. p. 740 sqq.; edition of 1883, vol. i. p. 195 sqq.; Toulmin Smith, Government by Commission Illegal and Pernicious: London, 1849.
transformed under a system of complete Parliamentary government into the administrative weapon of a Parliamentary Cabinet. Since the beginning of the nineteenth century it has become the practice to submit pressing problems of social life and administration to the deliberate investigaCommissions of tion of a Royal Commission of Inquiry. It is Inquiry. customary to appoint a number of public men and experts as colleagues on these Commissions. Until their labours are complete, they possess the full powers necessary to carry out the purposes of their appointment. They are Courts of Record, and have the power to compel the attendance of witnesses and to examine them on oath. The organisation and procedure of these Royal Commissions, whose investigations often extended over the whole country, very soon crystallised. A Commission will divide the country into suitable districts, and assign a certain number of its members and assistants to investigate the problems referred to it in each. Then separate reports are submitted to the whole body, and on the basis of these a final report with recommendations is drawn up. If the Commissioners differ, the final report consists of a majority report and one or more minority reports. In these Commissions nearly all the great English reforms of the nineteenth century originated. The Royal Commission is also the peculiar form of central activity in which Bentham's demand for the application of scientific principles to legislation and government was first realised. Not less than 150 Royal Commissions of Inquiry were set on foot between 1832 and 1844, and there is hardly a single important administrative problem from that time to the present day which has not been submitted at least once to this kind of investigation. In addition to or in substitution for Royal Commissions, Parliament has appointed out of its own members many Select Committees of Inquiry. These, in the opinion of some of the older jurists, with the learned Toulmin Smith at their head, are the only true legal forms of State inquisition. The High Court of Parliament is, in the language of this conservative jurisprudence, the Grand Inquest of the nation; whereas Royal Commissions, on the other hand, are, as Coke declared in the days of the Star Chamber, utterly illegal and unconstitutional. But the opposition of these earnest pedants, as we have seen, has been of no avail to prevent the
Royal Commission from coming into full use as one of the most important and wieldy instruments of government and legislation. The practical instincts of English politicians have thrust aside theoretical doubts and difficulties,and with good reason, for, after all, "Royal" Commissions are only another means of Parliamentary government. Appointed by Order in Council they are really appointed by a Parliamentary Cabinet.
For the study of the history of central government in England, the reports of these Commissions and Committees are invaluable. Moreover, most of the new government departments are the direct descendants of one Commission or another, as witness the Commissioners of Poor Law, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the Commissioners of Public Health, and so on. In quite recent times there has occurred a further development of these Commissions into government departments, presided over by a responsible minister. And, again, central organs of a temporary character have been established for investigating administrative and social conditions of long standing. The celebrated Labour Commission, the two Royal Commissions on the reform of the Poor Law by old age pensions, and the important Commission on local taxation which recently completed its lengthy labours are examples. The whole series of documents and reports issued by Royal Commissions comprises an inexhaustible supply of material for the legislator, the administrator, and the student of English government in all its branches. Thus the lesson so earnestly taught by Bentham and Mill-that knowledge of the conditions of government should be centralised -has been learned and translated into practice without resort to any cut-and-dried scheme. And the reports of these Commissions are not only records of grievance and deficiencies, but expressions of the far-reaching reformation which, in the course of the nineteenth century, has come over the method and spirit, the organisation and objects, of internal administration, and prove, if proof were necessary, that the aim of reform has been to adapt the forms and functions of every organ of the State to the endless complications and countless demands of modern society,-at the same time preserving in undiminished force that grand principle of representative democracy—the supremacy of Parliament over the whole province of public administration.