Mr. Butler, when he was Foreign Under-Secretary before the war, became famous for his stonewalling. Against every sort of skilful Parliamentary bowling he defended his wicket.
To-day, as President of the Board of Education, he is finding the practice then acquired invaluable
Last Friday he managed to keep his wicket intact against two full elevens," and of the players united in pressing Catholic amendments no less than fourteen were non-Catholic. Only two in the field gave him any support, and one of these, Mr. A. Walkden, who has claimed more than once to speak against the Catholic case on behalf of Labour and the Trade Unions, was unable to obtain support against those who disputed, his claim to do so.
Thc debate was on Catholic amendments designed either to keep down any costs to Catholics due to increase of prices since starch, 1939, or to remove all costs from Catholic schools which concede to the authority the right of appointment of teachers to be selected from a list drawn up by the appropriate denominational body.
A. ruling was given from the Chair that this debate could not cover the question of the proportion of costs to be contributed by the Government to Catholic schools since this would be debated at a later stage on Clause 95.
Edi'torial‘ comment will be found on page 4.
MR. TINKER moved the amendment in the most suave and gentle way by outlining the impossible burden to fall on Catholics, and by appealing to Mr. Butler to stand by his own promise to provide sufficient financial assistance to voluntary schools to enable them to provide healthy and decent school conditions according to the spirit of the Bill. " I do not believe in threats," was the burden of his song.
SIR PATRICK HANNON seconded in the same sweet spirit, including Anglicans and many Nonconformists as needing the same generosity.
" I am of the opposite faith to that held by me hon. Friend the Member of Leigh (Mr. Tinker)," began the next speaker, MR. TOM BROWN, hut proceeded to show that on the basis of his own 25 years experience on an education committee running two Catholic schools, he was in entire agreement with his present plea. " Children pass this way only once," he said, and pointed out how many would still pass unhelped by the Bill if the required money had to be raised from the hardearned wages of the working-class population. MR. LIPSON once again brought the welcome support of e mernhee of the Jewish faith for the sake of the children. Authorities would hc reluctant to close down unsatisfactory schools, and it would be the children who would suffer.
COMMANDER KING-HALL told the House that in watching the blitz he had tried to calculate the cost of what was going up into the air. The inference was obvious.
SIR G. SCHUSTER spoke " according to my Conscience," and deplored the notion that " the mere financial difficulty should be used as a lever for driving certain schools out of existence."
COMMUNIST IN LINE
The Communist member, MR. GALLACHER, was not wholly out of line. He could not see what religion had to do with education and asked for Scriptural authority to the effect that it had. Up jumped Biblical MR. MAGNAY and quoted: " Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it." But Mr. Gallacher pleaded " for the best results for all children through this Bill," and he did not seem to exclude the satisfaction of just Catholic claims from the requisite conditions.
CAPTAIN STRICKLAND, as a Church of England man, wanted to pay his tribute to the great work that had been done by the Catholic community in applying the principle that moral standards far superseded any knowledge that could be given to the children towards the building of the grand new world. Describing how the priests go on round collecting for the schools and how the money is left on the kitchen table ready for them, he gave his " strong support to the appeal that has been made in favour of these schools."
Liberal MR. MANDER fulfilled the promise he had made to his Catholic and Anglican constituents to ask the Minister to do all he could to meet their wishes.
MR. HUBERT BEAUMONT: " I speak not as a Roman Catholic, I am a Nonconformist, but I am standing here to ask the Minister to give the most sympathetic consideration he can to the amendment."
MAJOR PROCTER : " I rise to support the amendment, as a nonRoman Catholic and as one who believes that there is a strong case to be made for those who favour nonprovided schools, not only Catholic and Church of England, but Nonconformist and all denominations."
WITHOUT ANY PREJUDICE
Then came MR. ALEXANDER WALKDEN. He spoke, he said, without any prejudice at all. Once he was a dear little choirboy in an Anglican church. Two of his daughters were educated at a Catholic school so that they could attend the Margaret Morris Academy for dancing. He himself was called in his Surrey village not " the Labour M.P.," but " the British M.P." And so by easy stages to—this amendment "does not represent the opinion of England. England is a Protestant country, overwhelmingly Protestant." It was all a bit too clever. There would be revulsion. Mr. Stokes " always amuses me," but there's too much sharp practice in the Catholic arguments. " This is not an easy job . . . never spoken at this Box previously, but the whole thing seems simple to me.. . Pathetic stories about collecting halfpennies from little school children are too bad." But we must
get down to business (" Roman Catholics are extraordinary good business. men "). A nice little loan here and a nice tittle loan there . . nothing in it really. Dreadful things about young Roman Catholics. . . " Look at Spain. . ."
MR. EVELYN WALK DEN felt apparently that the honour of the Walkdens, not to mention the Labour Party of which he was alset a member, was at stake: " When, my friend, did the T.U.C. and the Labour Party make the decisions for which you claim to be spokesman?"
MR. A. WALKDEN : " I am a little sui prised to hear my namesake object."
MR, E. WALKDEN (a little later): " The Labour Patty has never taken a decision in the sense indicated by the hon. Member for South Bristol (air. A. Walktlen). I speak as a non-Catholic."
And no one was found to support Mr. A.
HE ASKED FOR ASSURANCE
COMMANDER BOWER began by regretting the " unfortunate element of controversy " introduced by Mr. A., and described once again the financial burdens that would fall on the Catholic community, burdens translated into practice in the shape of second collections on Sundays, collection of pennies, whist drives and dances. He asked for some " firm assurance " from Mr. But The fourth Catholic speaker of the day, MR. WALTER EDWARDS, also a labour member, refuted the Walkden claim to speak for Labour and the T.U.C.. and' introduced for the first time the Scottish Act. " If the Scots are in front of us it is about time we caught up with therm" Refreshed by exceptional communications from his constituents and by letters from fighting soldiers, MR. HUTCHINSON said baldly that if Mr. Butler does nothing to meet the Catholic financial claim, now supported by a " universally expressed desire," he would not he " meeting the wishes of the House of Commons or, I believe, of the public outside."
REAR-ADMIRAL BEAMISFI then made up the minority of two by asserting that he had many Catholic friends, but that the country was Protestant, He was distressed at the prospect of the State becoming the parents of innumerable sects, and he quoted from Blackfriars, the organ of " a very highly reputable body of great antiquity and commonsense," on the disadvantages of the 100 per cent.
MR. McENTEE (also Labour) would have nothing to do with Mr. Walkden, and pointed out that there is no generosity in increasing a percentage of payment while also increasing still more the money from which the percentage is calculated. He was called to order for getting on go percentages.
THE ELEVENTH , SUPPORTER
MR. BROOKE wound up the speeches prior to the Minister's reply by briefly emphasising that to leave denominational schools financially incapable of playing their part in the reform would defeat the very purpose of the Bill. He was the eleventh nonCatholic to support the amendment, two other non-Catholics having opposed. and one having taken a rather neutral line, It was MR. BUTLER'S turn to play m the howling. He began by a little negalive poking ahout nothing at all. Then he tried a fairly confident cut, but failed to connect, since in explaining how widely' the amendment would have to apply he failed to mention that in answer to his own offer a very large number of church schools were willing to accept the controlled school status, and these would have to be paid for anyway.
A much weaker slroke followed when he raised the question of religious antagonisms so far practically unmentioned by the many non-Catholic speakers. .Some strong-wristcd playing hack followed as he denied the charge that he wanted to put Catholic schools out of bueiness.and asseited that "great and wonderful benefits" could not he expected. Some wilder and totally irrelevant batting followed on the question of capital or interest charges and the benefits Catholics would receive.
Rather heavily the first amendment (costs to be kept down to 1939 level) was parried. but something seemed to have got under the famous hat when in answer to the second Mr. Butler said:
" That is an offer which, to a certain extent, is worthy of the Committee's consideration and one which the Government have considered more than once and which has been discussed outside as well as inside this House. In my view, however, it does not remove, as an offer, many of those sources of difficulty which our solution of the controlled school problem largely does and, therefore, it cannot rank on exactly the same basis as the Government's solution.
" I will continue to bear that offer in mind as being one made more on the basis of the solution come to in another country, which hon. Members
have sometimes put forward. hut though for reasons which the Government have explained it will be unlikely that We Will be able to attach the same deep significance to this amendment as hon. Members imagine. Therefore. am unable to accept it now." Flustered perhaps by this defensive' weakness, the Minister ended with the wildest stroke of his innings in expressing the great importance he attached to the views of Mr. A. Walkden.
COLONEI, EVANS was at once clown on him for that; down on him for having accepted the old dual system sa all " against tlw wishes of the Roman Catholics . down nn him for