The Twentieth Century
IN 1902 Lord Salisbury retired from the leadership of the Conservative party. He was succeeded as Conservative chief and Prime Minister by his nephew, the brilliant and fastidious Arthur James Balfour. Balfour carried on until 1906.
Despite the few reform proposals of the Conservatives after 1902 the Balfour government was responsible for the great Education Act of 1902. This act abolished the local school boards. Henceforth local county and borough councils, under the Minister of Education, were to control secular education in all schools, including those established by county councils under the act of 1870 and the voluntary schools founded by religious groups. Thus was taken a long step towards a uniform and compulsory system of education. There nevertheless remained difficult problems of religious education. For example, because the ministers of education appointed only one-third of the managers of voluntary schools, these schools continued to teach religion as they pleased.
The Education Act also contained provisions for secondary and technical education. The new science had increasingly tended to subdue nature and to mould society. Hence men of industry and commerce called for reform of the British educational system. Utilitarian considerations were becoming a national necessity. Technical schools would provide young men with training in useful skills. Highly practical people took the view that students exposed to "utilitarian" training in technical schools would be able to extend and increase their chances of serving themselves and the state successfully.
By the Licensing Act of 1904 the temperance cause was advanced in