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[143 state of things in Ireland. Among the resolutions passed at Middlesbrough was one urging the Government to legislate in the current session for the prevention of corruption in trade, and in particular emphasising the importance of attaching legal penalties to the offering or giving, as well as to the soliciting or receiving, of bribes. It was evident, from a circular which shortly afterwards found its way into the Press, and which had been issued some months previously from the co-operative headquarters to branches in the country, that the unanimity with which the resolution just referred to was adopted at Middlesbrough was prompted in no small measure by a laudable desire to purge the co-operative move. ment from a malady, the spread of which would be fatal to its highest objects. Resolutions were also passed favouring the formation of a strong international alliance of co-operative societies, and on a variety of other subjects, not infrequently, as it appeared, under political inspiration.
During the last week of May the International Miners' Conference sat in London, attended by fifty-four British delegates, representing 689,000_miners; seven Belgians, representing 120,000, and four French, representing 160,000. The representatives of 115,000 Durham miners, and in particular Mr. John Wilson, M.P., and Mr. Johnson, of Durham, opposed several of the resolutions which secured the support of almost, if not quite, all the other delegates. This was the case with resolutions for a legal eight hours' day, for a minimum wage, and for the nationalisation of mines. In a discussion, however, on the attitude of the Congress towards a nation in which a general strike had been declared, the Durham miners did not stand alone. In that connection Mr. S. Woods was constrained, under pressure from the foreign delegates, to explain on behalf of the British miners generally that they were not in a position to pledge themselves to join in such a movement, but that if a general mining strike took place in a foreign country they would do what they could to check the exportation of British coal to that country.
Special interest was lent to the meeting of the Annual Movable Committee of the National Independent Order of Oddfellows at Birmingham by the attendance of Mr. Chamberlain, who delivered an address (May 29) on old-age pensions. He began by referring to the facts that a number of their lodges were financially unsound and that a large number of the younger members were seceding. That deficiency in and defection from the society were due, he thought, to the excessive and unexpected burden of old-age sickness. This question, which he preferred to call “proposals to assist men to make provision for old age," had been before the country for a number of years, but officials of the great societies had, generally speaking, turned the cold shoulder, and the matter had unfortunately become—what it ought never to have been—a subject of party controversy. The
result was that we had been bidding one against the other, making lavish promises which would never be fulfilled, and which raised impossible expectations. He wanted to see, if possible, a new start taken, and to try to put this question once more upon its merits. But that could only be done with the frank and hearty co-operation of the great friendly societies. His chief objection to a universal old-age pension was not so much that it would cost thirty to forty millions a year, which no Chancellor of the Exchequer could contemplate, but it would do a great deal to discourage thrift, and a great injury would be done to friendly societies. But that was no reason why his original proposal should not be worthy of consideration. That proposal was to assist those who were already making provision to enable them to make greater provision, and to tempt those who were making no provision at all to make some provision. If the officials of the societies which had with great skill and capacity worked out the great problems of sickness and death would set their heads to work out some system of old-age pensions, in which assistance by the State at a fixed age might be secured to those who had contributed towards it, he believed they would do a great deal to relieve them from the danger, and to solve the question of old-age sickness. Thereby they would secure the solvency of the societies, and establish a hold upon their younger members, which would induce them to continue their subscriptions until the time when they required to claim the benefit from them. In replying to a vote of thanks, Mr. Chamberlain assured his hearers that friendly societies need have no fear of any undue interference by the State. He wanted to get rid altogether of the political character of this movement. He had no vanity as an author, and he did not wish any scheme to be connected with his name.
Much interest, and in England possibly a little envy, was caused during the Whitsuntide recess by the publication of information as to the scheme of the magnificent benefaction of two millions sterling in aid of Scottish university education, first announced on May 22, on the part of Mr. Andrew Carnegie. Further reference to this pleasing topic, however, must be reserved for the Scottish chapter.
Meantime a good deal was being said as to the Government Education Bill from opposite points of view. The Committee of the Deputies of Protestant Dissenters passed and published a resolution, about the end of May, expressing their disappointment and dissatisfaction with the Government bill. They objected to it as limiting and crippling the valuable work which School Boards in London and other large towns had hitherto carried on, and also as containing nothing to prevent, if indeed it did not turn out to be intended to secure, the provision of doles to denominational colleges and schools; and, on the whole, they urged their friends in Parliament to work for the rejection of the measure. On the other hand, at a conference at Ashford
1901.] Defence and Criticism of the Education Bill. [145 (May 29) of masters and mistresses of private and public secondary schools, at which he presided, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that he thought that the local authority, which was proposed in the Government bill, would be a very good body for secondary education. It was necessary, he beld, to mix the knowledge of experts with the common sense of others. He further advocated the placing of elementary education also under this authority, because one of the difficulties of the present state of things was that those who had charge of elementary education showed a tendency to encroach upon the province of those who had charge of secondary. A resolution was unanimously passed welcoming the Government bill, while some supplementary provisions in connection with secondary schools were suggested.
Speaking at Staveley, Derbyshire (May 31), the Duke of Devonshire replied to some of the criticisms which had been passed upon the bill. It was, he said, a complete misapprehension to say that the new bill took away part of the work of School Boards. Some of the work now carried on by School Boards certainly could not any longer be carried on by them, but that was not on account of anything contained in the bill. It was on account of the existing law. Nobody denied the good work done in past times, and which was now being done, by many of the School Boards; but he thought very few people who had studied the question were of opinion that the School Boards, except in a few large towns, were bodies exercising powers over a sufficient area, or bodies of a character fitted to superintend and control secondary as well as elementary education. Some said they ought to have specially elected bodies, but the Government thought it better to place greater additional responsibilities upon those who possessed already considerable powers, and who possessed the confidence of the country-to make them a foundation on which the new authority rested—rather than to seek to create a new authority by a new election, and to add one more to our existing local authorities.
Unmoved by this vindication, Mr. Arthur Acland, formerly Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education, wrote a letter of severe criticism in the Times (June 5). He maintained that the Government bill was so inadequate, in several respects, in the provision it made for its apparent object — the reorganisation and supplementing, where deficient, of the supply of secondary education in the country - that it would be better to pass
short temporary measure dealing with the Cockerton difficulty, and bring in a more complete bill another year, than to pass so imperfect a piece of legislation. The General Committee of the National Liberal Federation passed resolutions (June 5) condemning the Government bill as inadequate in its scope and also as not sufficiently democratic in the character of the local authority it proposed to set up, and as offering encouragement
from the rates to sectarian institutions. Similar complaints were embodied in resolutions passed at a “National Conference of Progressive Educationists " held at the Holborn Restaurant (June 6) under the presidency of Lord Spencer, where also, as at the meeting referred to in the previous sentence, the principle was laid down that the supervision of education of all grades, and the making good of deficiencies in educational supply, should be entrusted in every local area to some one responsible and popularly elected body. It was thus increasingly evident that the Government bill would have to encounter a good deal of opposition in Nonconformist and Liberal quarters. On the other hand, there was no doubt that persons with knowledge and experience of secondary education generally agreed with the Primate that the authority proposed by the bill was in the main a good body for that purpose, while those specially interested in voluntary schools also looked on the bill with favour. Thus the Standing Committee of the National Society, meeting with delegates elected by the Houses of Convocation and Laymen, and by diocesan boards of education, conferences, and associations, passed resolutions cordially welcoming the bill, and only urging that in the current session, or in the next one at the latest, the Government should legislate both for the placing of all educational matters in local areas under the supervision of the same kind of body as that proposed for secondary education, and for the provision of "equitable relief” to voluntary elementary schools.
On the day (June 6) on which Parliament reassembled there was issued the report of the committee appointed by Mr. Brodrick in December, 1900, to inquire into War Office organisation. This committee was a strong body, consisting of Mr. Clinton E. Dawkins (chairman), Mr. E. W. Beckett, M.P.; Colonel Sir George Clarke, K.C.M.G., F.R.S.; Mr. G. S. Gibbs, Mr. W. Mather, M.P.; Colonel H. S. G. Miles, C.B., M.V.O., and Sir Charles Welby, Bart, C.B., M.P., with Mr. H. J. Gibson as secretary, and their report was of a very searching character. They pointed out that their inquiry was subject to the general distribution of responsibility laid down by the Order in Council of March 7, 1899; and said that this limitation precluded the consideration of any organic changes in the constitution of the War Office, which had been built up piecemeal, as the result of constant modifications and compromises. “ Thus," they proceeded, "in place of becoming a compact machine, working smoothly upon lines well conceived and thoroughly understood, the constitution of the War Office has been subjected to so many modifications, large and small, that the relations of the various parts have been shifting and indeterminate. ... Definitions of the duties of departments have, therefore, been wavering and uncertain. ... There is a disposition on the part of energetic heads of departments to draw power to themselves, and to enlarge the area of their activities beyond
(147 all reason and expediency. Great confusion is thereby introduced, and individual responsibility cannot be assigned. These evils are enormously augmented owing to the government of the Army by the War Office being mainly carried on by a vast system of minute regulations, which tend to destroy the responsibility of general officers, and to suppress individuality and initiative in all ranks. The complexity of regulations is now so great that their interpretation alone leads to a mass of useless correspondence. This state of affairs constitutes a grave detriment to the public service. The practice of making endless references to obtain authority, and reluctance to take direct action, are inevitable consequences. It was stated in confidence to the committee by witnesses accustomed to deal with both offices that, whereas in the Admiralty it is possible to know where to go for a decision, and subordinate officials there promptly assume the responsibilities delegated to them, the task of obtaining a decision at the War Office is often, on the other hand, difficult and protracted. It follows that the mass of unnecessary routine work within the War Office is so great as to absorb the energies of the staff, which is generally overworked, and that high officials engrossed in routine have not sufficient time to devote to questions of real importance. Matters of policy are, therefore, not adequately considered. The necessary sense of proportion is lost, and the training and preparation of the Army for war must inevitably suffer."
The committee then referred to the waste of time of War Office officials caused by the abuse of the Parliamentary privilege of asking questions and moving for returns. For that, of course, the War Office is not responsible. But proceeding to lay down seven well-defined common-sense principles,—such, for example, as the “distinct definition of duties and responsibilities of individuals, accompanied by an adequate delegation of powers ”; an “effective system of inspection” instead of
elaborate returns and minute regulations,” and so forthwhich mark the management of all well-conducted business corporations, the committee found all those principles conspicuously absent" from the working of the War Office. With their seven general principles in mind, the committee had proceeded to examine War Office administration, under the headings of Internal Organisation, Financial Control and Audit, Contracts, Clerical Establishment, Decentralisation and General Control and Direction, and to frame recommendations for improvement by the application of these principles. It must suffice here to say that they laid very special stress (1) on the necessity for decentralisation-to be secured by charging the general officer commanding each district with “ administrative responsibility and control to the full extent of his powers,” the aim being to make him “responsible for the general efficiency of his command," that efficiency to be “ watched and tested from the War Office by thorough and