HC Deb 17 August 1833 vol 20 cc732-6

The Order of the Day for receiving the Report of the Committee of Supply was read, and

Mr. Sinclair

expressed his surprise and regret that Ministers should have deferred the Estimates until such a late period of the Session, when so few Members were in town.

Mr. Hume

also protested against such a practice, as also against the late hours at which the Estimates were moved, and expressed his determination not to let one shilling be voted, during the next Session, after twelve o'clock at night.

The Report brought up.

On the vote of 20,000l. for the purposes of education,

Mr. Hume

said, he should certainly object to this vote, and should take the sense of the House upon it. If it was meant that a system of national education should be established, this sum was too small, and without such a system no grant at all ought to be made. Besides, the Report of the Commissioners on Charities showed that a sum of 500,000l. was applicable to these purposes, and while that was so he saw no reason for coming to that House. If that large sum could not be applied generally, at least, the House ought to see that it was applied in the districts intended by the men who had bequeathed it. This miserable pittance would only dry up the sources of private bounty—it would paralyze and prevent the good done by individuals.

Lord Althorp

had as great a wish to forward a system of national education as the hon. Gentleman, and, therefore, the question between them was simply this—which was the best mode of attaining the common object? In his opinion the grant now proposed would have none of the effects attributed to it by the hon. Gentleman. There were many cases in which local efforts at education were prevented from the want of means to make a beginning. Several parishes would maintain schools if, in the first instance, they could be assisted with money to build the school-house. It was to meet such cases that this vote was applied for. None of this money would be granted for the purposes of building schools until it had been ascertained that, in the places for which it was required, there would be the means of carrying them on. The vote now proposed was in accordance with the recommendations of the Commissioners in 1818.

Mr. Warburton

said, that whatever might have been the recommendations of the Committee in 1818, a different system from what they advised must be pursued now. The circumstances of the times had completely altered, and whenever the Ministers chose to take the subject in hand, and bring forward a matured plan of national education, they would have the support of that House to enable them to carry it into effect. He agreed with his hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, that, without such a plan, the grant of this money would certainly be useless, and might be attended with the bad effect of preventing the efforts of well-disposed individuals.

Mr. Shaw

could not give his support to any advance of money for the purposes of education till he knew the precise plan on which the Government meant to proceed; for he asserted, that their system of education in Ireland had already been productive of very prejudicial effects.

Sir Robert Inglis

could not support any plan of education that was not based on the principles of the English Established Church.

Lord Morpeth

thought it a recommendation of the plan, that the money was to be advanced to assist both systems of education; one exclusively on the principles of the Established Church, and the other admitting children of all creeds and of all nations.

Mr. Estcourt

thought that this was an experiment, and that the noble Lord had shown no ground for making it. There was no proof of any applications having been made for this money.

Lord John Russell

answered, that, in the Report of the Commissioners in 1818, there were statements of instances in which, if parishes could have been assisted in the first outlay, they would afterwards have supported schools with their own funds. That had been the case from the time of making that Report to the present period.

Mr. Aglionby

did not anticipate such a result, or else he should support the grant. His opinion was, that a distinct plan ought to be proposed before the House proceeded to vote any money for this purpose.

Mr. Cobbett

could not consent to take from the people one single farthing in the way of taxes, directly or indirectly, in order to teach the working classes reading and writing. He was sure he should not be accused of a wish to degrade them, or to deprive them of any advantages, but he thought the word education was much mistaken. Education was the knowledge necessary for the situation of life in which a man was placed. Take two men for instance—suppose one of them to be able to plough, and the other able to plough and make hurdles and be a good shepherd. If the first man knew how to read as well as to plough, and the other man did not know how to read, even then he should say, that the latter was the better man. Let hon. Members go into the agricultural districts and take father and son, what would they find? Why, that in almost every instance the father was the better man—he was the better labourer—he knew better how to do his work, and he was more able and more willing to do it. The Reports that were from time to time laid on the Table of that House, said that men became more and more immoral every year: those Reports must be taken to be true. Then what became of the benefits of education? for education had been more and more spread, but what did it all tend to? Nothing but to increase the number of schoolmasters and school-mistresses—that new race of idlers. Crime, too, went on increasing. If so, what reason was there to tax the people for the increase of education? It was nothing but an attempt to force education—it was a French—it was a Doctrinaire—plan, and he should always be opposed to it.

Mr. Murray

said, that if this grant were, as some thought, unnecessary, he should be the last to assist in making it; but he believed it to be just the reverse. He was pleased, too, with the way in which the noble Lord proposed to apply it, and was almost inclined to vote for it, on the sole ground that it was to be applied as well in aid of education among the Dissenters, as among those of the Church Establishment. He denied in the most distinct manner the statements made by the hon. member for Oldham, as to the increase of crime being, as that hon. Member had represented it, the consequence of the increase of education. That opinion had once been entertained in Edinburgh, but there the experiment had been fairly tried, and that opinion no longer existed. In Edinburgh lists had been kept of the workmen, and columns marked so as to give a full account of their conduct during the year, and the masters had invariably found that those men who had received the benefits of education, and employed themselves as often as they could in reading and writing, were the most sober, the most industrious, the most regular at their work, and the best conducted in their families. So that the obstinate and the prejudiced masters—he did not of course mean to say that the hon. member for Oldham was prejudiced —had been obliged to confess that the result was decidedly in favour of education. He agreed that the man who could use a plough and make hurdles, and was a good shepherd, was a more useful man than he who could only plough and read; but the fallacy was in assuming that if the man was taught to read and write, he would be taught nothing else.

Colonel Evans

agreed with all that had been said by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Murray) who had just addressed the House, but must vote against him. He thought that the House ought not to be called on to vote money for the purposes of education, while there were such means for those purposes to be found in the funds of private charities. He did not agree with the opinions of the hon. member for Oldham, but those opinions must certainly be disinterested, for if his principle were fully carried out what would become of The Register? Education had considerably improved the people.

Mr. Potter

was unwilling to vote against any scheme for promoting the education of the people, but for the reasons urged by the hon. member for Middlesex, and also on the grounds he mentioned yesterday, he begged the noble Lord to postpone the grant until a general plan of education could be devised, and until the enormous funds which had been bequeathed for the promotion of education were made available. He felt convinced, that the period was not far distant when, by the general voice of the country, those bequests must be appropriated to their original, legitimate, and most beneficial purpose.

The House divided—Ayes 50; Noes 26: Majority 24.

Report agreed to.

List of the AYES.
ENGLAND. Heathcote, J. J.
Althorp, Viscount Littleton, Rt. Hon. E.
Bentinck, Lord G. Macaulay, T. B.
Bernal, R. Marryatt, J.
Blamire, W. Morpeth, Viscount
Briggs, R. North, F.
Campbell, Sir J. Palmer, C. F.
Carter, J. B. Parker, J.
Davenport, J. Peter, W.
Dundas, Hon. Sir R. Pryme, G.
Dykes, F. L. Rice, Right Hon. T. S.
Ellice, Right Hon. E. Russell, Lord J.
Evans, Colonel Scrope, P.
Forster, C. S. Sheppard, T.
Graham, Rt. Hn. Sir J. Skipwith, Sir G.
Grey, Hon. Colonel Smith, V.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Spankie, Sergeant
Stanley, Hon. H. T. Maxwell, J.
Tancred, H. W. IRELAND.
Todd, R. Lynch, A. H.
Tooke, W. Mullins, F. W.
Torrens, Colonel R. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Tower, C. T. O'Reilly, W.
Tracey, C. H. Perrin, L.
Wood, G. W.
Wedgwood, J. TELLERS.
SCOTLAND. Gordon, R.
Macleod, R. Wood, C.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Murray, J. A.
Brocklehurst, J. Sinclair, G.
Brotherton, J. Wallace, R.
Cobbett, W. IRELAND.
Divett, E. Blake, M.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Hayes, Sir E.
Fielden, J. Jones, Captain T.
Humphery, J. Ruthven, E.
Inglis, Sir R. Shaw, F.
Knatchbull, Sir E. Sullivan, R.
Potter, R. Vigors, N. A.
Ryle, J. Wallace, T.
Walsh, Sir J. B. TELLERS.
Williams, Colonel Hume, J.
Willoughby, Sir H. Warburton, H.