The Education Bill of 1902 (September 1901–December 1902)
We noted in an earlier chapter that, among the causes of Chamberlain’s abandonment of Old Age Pensions, was the existence of a rival measure of Social Reform. This was an Education Bill sponsored by Balfour himself and enthusiastically supported by a majority of the Tory party. The merits of the educational controversy are now of little interest, but its political implications were momentous; not least for Chamberlain. It would foster the reunion of the Liberal party and would estrange a powerful section of the Unionist following in the constituencies. We must, therefore, devote some little space to the issues involved; and if at times the subject-matter may seem dry, the patient reader will none the less be rewarded by some curious sidelights on the contemporary conduct of our affairs.
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