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to remove the authority from a single centre and distribute it over the area interested : the objective is summed up in the word "decentralisation ".
The "cons" are the loss in effective touch with the Treasury, the separation from related Government offices and members of Parliament, if not from Parliament itself, the provincialisation, as many1 hold it, of Scotch Education, and after all the problematical nature of the gain. Decentralisation is highly necessary if it is thought that the central authority engrosses too much of the power. But surely this is better accomplished by strengthening the localities, full provision for which we have made, than by strangling the central body. The central body must be an efficient body, and have at its command all the appliances for making it so. Transplanting would be a dangerous experiment, and a strong case must be made out to justify it. The centre of the national life, the heart of things, is in the metropolis, and we cannot alter the fact. It is as true for Scotland as for England. By removing the 1 This is not a personal view.
central department from it we should be thought to lower its status. The more equal distribution of power in educational administration can be secured without it, and, that being secured, the chief argument falls to the ground. On many grounds one would welcome the change; but I for one am unable to see that the sacrifice would 'be justified by any countervailing advantage. What we do require is a Scotch office of the Government Department, which might well be in Edinburgh, or as well in Glasgow; or, if mere convenience of locality is concerned, better still in Perth, at which a responsible official of the Department could be found at certain stated periods, say two or three days every month, for consultation with local authorities and others concerned with educational matters. To this might be added a sort of itinerant circuit, by which a stated official visit should be paid, say once a year, to the chief centres of educational activity—the University towns, together with Dumfries, Inverness and Perth—and opportunity afforded of bringing together the various branches of the administration, and of supplying first-hand evidence, advice and direction on topics of current interest. This would enable the Department to maintain closer touch with Scotch opinion. It would, at the same time, not be in any way an infringement of the influential position which we desire it to enjoy. but, on the contrary, would greatly enhance its authority and extend its influence.
ANALOGIES BETWEEN SCOTLAND AND ENGLAND.
A Question frequently put is—Is the principle of the English Education Act of 1902 to be applied to Scotland? 1 The question lends itself to misunderstanding, or even to misrepresentation. It is not one that can be answered by a simple affirmative or negative : the answer is, indeed, both yes and no. For there is no one principle that covers all the enactments of the Act in question. Further, behind the question is another and a deeper one—Can we with advantage or with safety adopt, wholesale, methods foreign to our genius and history, however admirable they may be in themselves, and however well adapted for-the purposes they serve in other countries where circumstances are greatly different? The remark applies all round, to industry as to Education, in Education »o curriculum and methods of organisation, as well as to systems of government and local administration: we should be ready to welcome improvements whatever their origin—England, France, Germany, America. But we must be extremely careful lest we mistake the form for the substance, the husk for the kernel. The principle which a foreign usage embodies, if a good one, should be apprehended as such, separated from forms which are not essential to it, and wrought into the forms which we have by laborious process ourselves evolved as those best suited to our own conditions.
11 have no intention of discussing the policy of the English Act as a whole, which is a matter altogether apart from ray purpose. I refer to it only by way of illustration, and to prevent misunderstanding.
On these lines should be our answer to the inquiry regarding the system of the English Act. We have wrought out our own scheme quite independently : if our principles are sound it matters little whether they are in the English Act or not. On the other hand, if the Act for England contains other principles which we have overlooked, and which seem to be in themselves commendable, we shall have no scruple in availing ourselves of them. In other words,