HC Deb 30 November 1837 vol 39 cc381-96
Mr. Slaney

rose to move to a Select Committee to inquire into the condition of the labouring classes, with a view to devising some means of national education. He was sorry to bring forward his motion in the absence of the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department, as that noble Lord was particularly interested in the subject. He had intended to move for leave to bring in a Bill on the subject; but, in deference to one for whose opinions he had great respect, he had abandoned that intention. It would be his duty, in the first place, to bring under the notice of the House the vast increase which had taken place in the more humble portion of the community, especially in large towns; and, in the second place, he would show that their condition had not been improved in the same ratio as that of the other classes, more especially with respect to the education of their children. He would have to trouble the House with some details upon the subject, as there were so many new Members who might be unacquainted with the immense increase which had taken place in the manufacturing population, and the absolute necessity there was for a better system of education for those classes. As compared with the agricultural population, the manufacturing classes were in 1801 as 6 to 5, in 1811 as 9 to 7, in 1821 as 8 to 5, while in 1837 they had increased to more than 2 to 1. In the thirty years the increase in the agricultural population had been 45 per cent. while the manufacturing classes had increased upwards of 100 per cent. He had made an estimate of five of the largest towns in the country. The increase had been during the thirty years as follows:—In Manchester from 1801 to 1811, the increase had been 22 per cent; from 1811 to 1821, 40 percent; and from 1821 to 1831, 47 per cent. In Glasgow the increase during the first period had been 30 per cent; during the second period, 46 per cent; and, in the third period, 38 per cent. In Birmingham during the same periods the increase had been 16, 24, and 33 per cent. In Leeds the increase in the first period had been 18 per cent; in the second period, 30 per cent; and in the third period 47 per cent. In Liverpool the increase had been in the first period 26 per cent., in the second 31, and in the third 44. Thus, in the five largest towns of the United Kingdom, excluding the metropolis, the increase had been, in the first of the three periods at an average of 22 per cent; in the second ten years, 37 per cent; and in the last 42 per cent. In the manufacturing counties the increase had been to that of the agricultural counties in the following ratios:—In Staffordshire 3 to 1; in Warwickshire, 4 to 1; in the West Riding of Yorkshire, 6 to 1; in Lancashire 10 to 1; in Middlesex, 12 to l. He would not take up the time of the House by dwelling upon the importance to the country at large of those articles of import to the working up of which the manufacturing portion of the population owed its prosperity. But he wished especially to call the attention of hon. Members to the great increase which had, in the meantime, taken place in the means of comfort and luxury which were at the command of the rich and middle classes. If, however, for a moment they turned their attention from the lower to the middle class, they would see that during the last 13 or 14 years the command which the latter had acquired over the luxuries, the comforts, and the decencies of life had greatly exceeded the corresponding advantages to the humbler portion of the community. This was most clearly shown by the amount of taxation, for example, on stage-coaches, it had doubled, on one-horse carriages it had increased two-fifths, on male servants one-fourth; on horses, on tea, sugar, and coffee, the increase had been proportion-ably great. Now, if they contrasted this state of things as regarded the middle class with the condition of the lower orders, they must perceive, that however they might see grounds to rejoice at the advantages enjoyed by the one, they could not but deeply lament the condition of the other. Of people dwelling in the large towns there were two classes, the skilled and the unskilled; and while he acknowledged that the skilled had in many instances improved in condition, and had a greater command over the necessaries of life than at any former period, he should be enabled to show to the House that the unskilled had many privations, and even those in the command of higher wages were worse off' than at former periods; or if not worse off, in that low state which called upon them to endeavour to do something for their improvement. Without going into details, he would refer those interested in the condition of the working classes to different reports on their condition—to the report upon education—the Factory Commissioners' Report in 1833—the report upon manufacturing employment, 1830,—and the report upon the handloom weavers, 1834. In the latter report it was stated that there were no less than 800,000 weavers dependent upon this employment, in a most miserable condition. From a return by the Statistical Society of Manchester it appeared, that in the town of Manchester one-tenth of the entire population lived in cellars, and in Liverpool, one-seventh, that was to say, 31,000 lived in cellars, and most of them in courts with only one outlet. From a close examination of 166 houses in Bristol, it appeared one-third were without drains, half of them without water, and 200 children above seven years old were sleeping in the same room with their parents. In a district in Marylebone, that opulent parish, there were 578 families, 380 of whom had only one room. It might be stated that if he turned to the increase of deposits in savings banks, he would find that the humbler classes had improved in their condition; but when the return came to be analysed it would appear that the proportionate number of deposits from the workmen in the staple trades of large towns was very small. At the last meeting of the British Association, in Liverpool, Mr. Felkin had read an analysis of the depositors in the saving-banks at Nottingham, which had been published in the Statistical Journal, and from this it appeared that out of 6,100 only 910 were connected with the staple trade of the place. In respect to those of the humble classes engaged in friendly societies the amount deposited in 1830 was 714,000l.,, and the number of the depositors 4,553; and in 1836 the amount of deposits had only increased to 726,000, the number of depositors to 5,300, an increase very small in six years. He would now call their attention to the number of criminals committed in England and Wales, which in the year 1805 was 4,600; in 1810,5,100; in 1815, 7,800; in 1821, 13,000; in 1828, 16,500; in 1831, 19,600; and in 1832, 20,000, The number had increased in the following years, and had very little diminished down to the present moment. That was to say, that in 20 years (from 1810 to 1832) the committals had increased fourfold, while the population had only increased 32 per cent. If they took the average of seven years, the first at 1819, the second at 1826, and the third at 1833, they would find that in the first period the number of committals had been 72,000; in the second period 95,000; and, in the third period, it had increased to 131,000—so that, while the population had increased in the same period only 18 per cent. the committals for crime had been 90 per cent. Taking the numbers as compared with the population, it would appear that the committals for crime in 1811 had been one in 1,600; in 1821 it had been 1 in 860, and in 1831 it had been 1 in 686. The number had been something smaller in the last year, but it was by no means satisfactory evidence of an improvement in the condition of the people. It varied from 100 per cent. diminution in Northamptonshire to an increase in Staffordshire and Warwickshire of from 10 to 19 per cent. He held in his hand a rather curious return from the metropolitan police offices, from which it appeared that in the year 1831 the number committed was 72,800, and in the year 1832 it was 77,500. The particular class he wished to call the attention to, was those committed for drunkenness, of them it appeared there were, in 1831,23,700, and in 1832, 25,700. There had been since then, he was happy to say, a decrease in the number of committals. This decrease, however, was principally to be accounted for by the improved state and strictness of the police. He next wished to call their attention to the state of Liverpool, and he regretted that he did not see the noble Lord, the Member for that town in his place, as he was sure he would bear him out in the statement he was about to make. By a return laid before the statistical section of Liverpool, it appeared that out of a population of 230,000 the criminal population of that town was 4,500 males and 4,300 females. He wished now to call their attention to the proportion of crime to the population in different parts of the kingdom. In England and Wales it was 1 in 619. In Bristol 1 in 219. In the county of Middlesex, 1 in 336. In the county of Lancaster, 1 in 480. In the county of Chester, 1 in 490. In Hereford, 1 in 508; and in the county of Anglesea, 1 in 8,000. There was now another subject to which, after stating the vat increase of crime, he wished to call their attention. He held in his hand a return of the number of gallons of spirits which had been used in the United Kingdom for the last twenty years. In 1817, there were used 9,200,000 gallons; in 1827, 18,230,000; in 1837, 29,227,000—that was to say, the consumption of spirits had trebled in twenty years, while the population had increased only one-third. The result, therefore, was, that the consumption of spirits had increased in a nine-fold degree with respect to the population. A statement had been made by a Gentleman well-known for his accuracy relative to the consumption of spirits, and according to that calculation the consumption of spirits had increased to such a degree that every person who was more than twelve years of age consumed no less than a gallon and a half of raw spirits per annum. He should feel indebted to hon. Members who would answer that statement satisfactorily. He could not but think that it was necessary to direct the attention of Parliament to this subject, because he was convinced that the statements he was about to make were inconsistent with the welfare and happiness of the people. He had stated, that the amount of the consumption of spirits was no less than a gallon and a half per head. But if the House were to look to the calculation in another point of view, and consider who really were the consumers of spirits, they would find that the amount was increased nearly double. Some persons were willing to cast, great blame upon the humble classes for their indulgence in spirits; but it should be remem- bered that spirits were, in fact, the poor man's opium. It was spirits that gave him some little relaxation from the misery by which he was surrounded. Having adverted to the state of the parents, he would next, with the leave of the House, make a few observations relative to their children. In speaking of the education of the lower classes, he could not but feel the great debt of gratitude that was due to a noble Lord (Lord Brougham) for the great exertions that he had made to improve their education. He could not help also mentioning the name of the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Wyse), to whom great praise was due for his exertions in the cause of the poor. He would not found his data upon those returns alone that had been made relative to Manchester and some of the large towns, as they had been shown to be defective, but would refer to returns which he knew to be accurate, and which he would confidently state, deserved the attention of the House. As there were no general returns upon the subject he was compelled to avail himself of those partial returns which he had been able to procure. He would trouble the House with reading some extracts from a publication issued from the statistical society, relative to the condition of the labouring poor. The hon. Member read a comparative statement of the numbers of the labouring poor in the towns of York, Bury, Manchester, Liverpool, and the township of Ashton and Staley Bridge. For the purpose of showing the state of education in these populations he had taken the proportions of the numbers of those who received instruction in public or private schools. He had divided the instructed part of the labouring people into two classes—those who went to day schools, and those who went to Sunday schools. In the city of York, those who went to day schools were to the rest of the population in the ratio of 17 per cent., whilst those who attended Sunday schools were only 3 per cent., making a total of 20 per cent. In Bury, the attendants of the day schools were 13 per cent., of the Sunday schools 15½ per cent., making the total of those who received instruction of any kind in this large town only 28 and a fraction per cent. In Manchester and Salford, 10½ per cent. went to the day schools, and 11½ per cent. to the Sunday schools, making a total of 22 per cent. In Liverpool, the attendants at the day schools were 12½ per cent., at the Sunday schools only 1½; total, 14 per cent. In Bolton, 6 per cent. went to the day schools, and to Sunday schools 15½ per cent., making a total of 21½ per cent. In the large commercial town of Bristol, but 4½ per cent. of its population received the benefits of instruction in the daily schools; and only 8½ percent, attended the Sunday schools, making a total of 13 per cent. In Ashton and Staley Bridge, the Sunday schools were attended by not quite 3 per cent., but the Sunday schools showed a rate of 23 percent., making a total for this township of not quite 26 per cent. And in the five parishes of Westminster, the proportion of those who attended day schools was, to the whole population of the city, no more than 10 per cent., whilst those who attended Sunday schools were only 3 per cent. It appeared, therefore, from those returns, that the number of those who went to any kind of school was, in York only as 1 in 5 to the population of that city; in Bury, as 1 in 3½; in Manchester, as 1 in 4½; in Liverpool, as 1 in 7; in Bolton, as 1 in 5; in Bristol, as 1 in 7; in Ashton and Staley Bridge, as I in 4; and in Westminster, as 1 in 8; but, however valuable the instruction in Sunday schools might be, no one could think that Sunday instruction alone could be sufficient. It appeared from this report, that in many cases the school-rooms were so small and badly ventilated, that the atmosphere was quite oppressive and dangerous. In one instance forty children were found in a room only ten feet by nine'; and in another a perch was discovered with a cock and two hens upon it in one corner of the room, and a dog kennel in the other. The vast proportion of children who went today schools received no instruction at all worthy of the name, speaking of Manchester, Liverpool, Salford, &c. The greater portion of the teachers were quite incompetent to their task, and in many cases were only induced to undertake it because unable in any other way to support themselves. One master being asked if he used the globes in teaching geography, replied in the affirmative, adding that one globe was for one half of the earth, and the other for the other half. Another was asked did he teach reading, writing, Latin, Greek, &c, answered "Yes," to every query, and the visitor exclaiming "Multum in parvo," he eagerly said, "Yes—you may put that down too." In another instance a mistress said she gave the children instruction both as Protestants and Catholics, for "she let both catechisms go together, so that no harm could come." He asked those who felt an interest on this subject, who were desirous of benefitting the humbler classes, to turn their attention to these documents, and see how melancholy a picture they exhibited. It would appear that in the large manufacturing towns to which he had referred the proportion of children between the ages of five and fifteen years was 25 per cent. or one-fourth of the whole. For these, certainly, instruction ought to be provided; but the daily schools in Bolton furnished instruction only for one in sixteen; Bristol only for one in twenty-four; and in the populous districts of Lancashire only one in forty-six of the population. But numbers were no criterion of improvement, and he had shown the House how grossly ignorant were many of those to whom the instruction of the rising generation in these districts were committed. He did not deny that there were many excellent schools, but he said, there ought to be the means of instruction provided for all, which now were only available to few. By the returns of Mr. Horner, who had made a report on the state of the factories, it appeared from an examination of the children of the ages of thirteen and fourteen, above the operation of the education classes of the Factory Act, that there were of the boys forty-nine and a half per cent. who could not read, and sixty-seven per cent. who could not write their names. Of the girls there were fifty-seven per cent. who could not read, and eighty-eight percent, who could not write their names. As a general result, it appeared that half the children in all the manufacturing towns had no means of obtaining education; and he could with confidence assert that three-fourths of the poorer children throughout the great towns of this country were without any effective education. Let them compare the state of education in England with other countries. He had returns in his hand, which showed how much England was behind other countries. In Nassau, the population were educated in the proportion of one to six; in Saxony, one in six; in Prussia, one to six; in the State of New York, one in four; in Switzerland, one in five; and in England only one in eight, and in some of the large manufacturing towns only one in seventeen. These returns he had obtained with considerable trouble, for owing to the indifference of the Government to the subject, no official returns had been procured in relation to it. He called upon both sides of the House to lay aside their party animosities, and to turn their undivided attention to this important subject. He lamented to think that Gentlemen who represented large communities should be so indifferent on a subject which was so deeply interesting to their well-being and happiness. It was shameful for Gentlemen who were such a short time since before their constituencies, and who pledged themselves to promote their interests in Parliament, to betray such inattention when a subject which so deeply concerned them was under discussion. It was not for himself he claimed their attention. If the subject were disregarded in that House he could tell hon. Gentlemen that they would have to account for it when they presented themselves elsewhere. He called on the noble Lord who sat near him—he called on the Gentlemen who supported him—to give their aid to his plan for it was a Reform measure. He called on the right hon. Baronet opposite to give his assent to it, for it was a Conservative measure, for it was a measure that would uphold the interests and promote the comforts of the humbler classes. It would be presumption in him to hope that his plan would be received by the House more than as a matter of suggestion. He begged, however, before he entered into the details of such a plan to call their attention to some facts. It must be admitted by every one that a separate plan of education must be framed for Churchmen and Dissenters. He would suggest that it should be done by the British and Foreign and the National Schools; and he would further suggest that a rate of not more than sixpence in the pound should be raised in places consisting of not above 5,000 inhabitants, to be voted by the parishioners in vestry; and this being raised, or any less sum, by subscriptions or donations, the Government should add a fourth to it, or any proportion that might be deemed proper, from the Consolidated Fund, and that the whole should then be divided between the British and Foreign and the National Schools, according to their respective number of scholars. He was convinced that if facilities were thus given to persons to exert themselves, they would immediately take advantage of it. There ought, likewise, to be a Board or Minister of Education, and a standing committee appointed, from whom proper returns on the subject might at all times be obtained. There ought also to be schools for teaching school-masters. He did not pretend to say, that this was the plan that ought to be adopted; he merely threw it out as a suggestion, but, having spoken to several persons interested in this subject, he had not found that there was any objection to such a scheme. Where there were many Dissenters the proportion of them would be large, and they would pay largely; where, again, there were many Churchmen, they would have large proportions of land, and they would pay largely also, so that there would be a due apportionment. One individual could not perform anything important by himself in this country; he could only bring the subject before the public and Parliament, and trust to receiving the support of the Government in it. He did not believe that the House was aware of the proportions of the different denominations that existed in the large towns of this country. He had procured a return, to which he would for a moment refer, of the number of Sunday scholars in several towns, stating the Christian denominations to which they belonged. In Liverpool the Established Church had 6,318 Sunday scholars; Catholics, 7,000, and Dissenters, 8,350. In the towns of Manchester and Salford, where the population was 250,000, the number of Sunday scholars belonging to the Established Church was 13,025, to the Catholic was 4,500, and to the Protestant Dissenters was 25,280. In the city of Bristol, where the population was 112,000, taking all the scholars, and not the Sunday scholars only, the number belonging to the Established Church was 4,370, and to the Wesleyan and other Dissenters, 8,860, being twice the number belonging to the Established Church. But he had on this subject a rather curious return, which he thought would be interesting to the House. He had a return of the number of heads of families and lodgers resident in the towns of Manchester and Salford. The number of those who belonged to the Established Church was 26,000, of those who were Protestant Dissenters was 12,090, of those who were Roman Catholics was 7,200, and of those who made no religious profession at all was 4,480. How did the numbers stand in another and a neighbouring district, which he was sorry to denounce as one of the most neglected in the whole country? In Dukenfield, Staley-bridge, and Ashton, the number of heads of families, &c., who belong to the Established Church was 3,100, of those who were Protestant Dissenters was 2,400, of those who were Roman Catholics was 1,600, and of those who made no religious profession at all was 4,500. Was not that a circumstance which proved that not only inquiry, but that improvement also, was wanted in those districts? It was needless, he hoped, for him to enter into further details on this subject: for if those which he had already quoted were not sufficient to obtain an answer from her Majesty's Government, he should despair to obtain one, and should console himself with the reflection that he had discharged a painful duty, and had discharged it to the best of his ability. But he could not believe that either the Government or the House would fail to attend to this subject. Indeed, he called upon them, in the name of humanity, in the name of justice, and in the name of religion, to make exertions to improve and ameliorate the state of education among their poorer fellow-countrymen! Was it just, he would ask, to pass penal enactments to send poor men's children to distant settlements, when they had no means of judging between right and wrong? There were several gentlemen, few he hoped in that House, to whom it would be useless for him to address himself on the score of humanity; but perhaps the ground of economy would awaken them to a consideration of this subject. What had been the result of not extending education? Why, the county rates had increased, and the prisons had been filled with criminals. The expense of prisons, prisoners' maintenance, prosecutors and constabulary, was a million sterling per annum! He was confident that affording a good education would be the greatest economy. Ignorance was the most costly thing the State could possess. In the immediate neighbourhood of the House there was a Penitentiary which had cost the country 350,000l., of which nearly the whole might have been saved by educating the children of the poor. But the Government of the country took those who were hardened in iniquity, and subjected them to a process of penal dis- cipline which was relied upon for effecting a change more miraculous than what was sought for by the alchymists of old. It was impossible to convert the hardened criminal into that innocent state in which he might have been preserved if the Government of the country had done its duty to him. Had the Legislature begun with the best means of preventing crime, namely the education of the helpless youth, ten times as much good would have been done, at ten times less cost. He assured them that he did not believe that the splendid edifices which he saw around him stood upon safe foundations. The great body of the humbler classes in the crowded towns were aggrieved, and what else could they feel when they saw their children exposed to strong temptation, whilst the Government had provided for them only severe and fruitless punishments, but had made no provision for their instruction or support? When he saw her Majesty in her splendid palace, surrounded by the nobility of the land, he wished to God he could present to her some of the children of her poorer subjects, and he was sure she would not turn from them with contempt. He called upon that, her first Parliament, in this the first year of her reign, to do something for them, if it were only for her sake. He hoped her Majesty's Ministers would take the subject up—he hoped that hon. Gentlemen on the other side, who were loud in their advocacy of the poor, would assist him, so that in this matter at least all sides in that House might unite, omitting all party considerations for the good of the community. The hon. Member concluded by moving for a Select Committee.

Sir George Strickland

thought, the House and the country were much obliged to the hon. Member for his assiduity upon such an important subject. His hon. Friend, however, had forgot to mention that the Government and that House had at various times granted a sum of 20,000l. for the purpose of building schools—thus meeting the very difficulty started by his hon. Friend. He could not agree in that proposition of his hon. Friend which went to raise a sixpenny rate upon all property in the country. It would be a most dangerous principle, for it would teach the people to depend for education upon the Government, in place of the parents, upon whom all such responsibility ought to rest. Let them grant money for building schools, and let them promote education in every way that was possible, but let them not teach parents to neglect the education of their offspring. With these few observations, he had much pleasure in seconding the motion.

Mr. Brotherton

said, as the hon. Member for Shrewsbury had alluded to the state of ignorance and degradation in which the humble classes of Manchester and neighbouring towns were placed, he felt called upon to state that he must admit the truth of the statement. He had the honour of presenting lately a petition from the borough of Salford, for a system of education that would give every class of her Majesty's subjects the benefits of education; and he had attended one of the largest and most respectable meetings in the town of Manchester, at which the same object was discussed. He could take upon himself to say there was a strong feeling in that neighbourhood in behalf of a national system of education. No subject could be of higher importance.

Lord John Russell

was sure that the House would be of opinion that his hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury deserved great credit for the intentions with which he had brought forward this subject and for the industry with which he had collected such various and interesting details. His hon. Friend had moved for a Committee of inquiry; and to the appointment of such a Committee he for one had no objection. At the same time he must observe, that he fully agreed with his hon. Friend in thinking that if any large or efficient plan of education were to be introduced into that House, or to be carried through Parliament, it ought either to originate, or at least be supported, by Her Majesty's Government. For his own part he had long; been persuaded that it would be a great benefit to the country, if by any well conceived plan of education they could diffuse education itself more generally through the community. Whatever might be the proportion of scholars of various sects in the different schools, and whatever might be the statistical returns made to the Committee, of which his noble Friend Lord Kerry was chairman, it was an undoubted fact that a lamentable degree of ignorance existed in this country. He wished that there was no more melancholy proof of it than was contained in the report of the Committee for the improvement of prison discipline, and in the testimony of the chaplains of the different gaols, in which they stated that by far the greatest majority of the prisoners under their care had a total ignorance of every truth of religion and morality. When he turned, however, to the consideration of the question whether any plan of general education could be introduced at present, he saw that there were various obstacles which would prevent him from then proposing any such plan. One very obvious reason was, that the attention of the House was likely to be occupied for some time to come with measures which had heretofore been under the consideration of Parliament, and which deserved to be still further considered by it. Another reason was, that it would require the utmost skill and discretion to discover the means whereby the various obstacles in the way of any general plan of education could be surmounted. He was certain that, if any plan were attempted in which the religious feelings of the country were not consulted, it would be a signal failure, and that failure would be an obstacle to the success of any plan which might be tried subsequently. But, admitting that the religious feelings of the country were, as they ought to be, consulted, then came the consideration how they were to reconcile the differences existing between the Established Church and the Dissenters—the Church being anxious that its catechism should be taught in the schools, and the Dissenters being extremely jealous and sensitive as to the introduction of any measure which might trench on their principles and on their right of free opinion. It would shock all these feelings, and it would also shock the civil and political feelings of the country, if we were to introduce into it any plan of education imitated from the model of those foreign countries which his hon. Friend had mentioned—if, in a word, we were to square and regulate, as is clone in Russia and Prussia, the schools and the plan of education adopted in this country. These considerations presented many obstacles to the introduction of any national plan of education by the Government at the present time. He wished, likewise, as another motive for delay, to see the effect of those discussions on the subject which had already taken place in the country, and which, he expected, would soon be renewed in Parliament. He was glad—nay, he was delighted beyond measure— to see the public attention of the country directed to these discussions. He could not but expect that from the various meetings which had already been held, and which he was sure would soon be hold again, some valuable light would be thrown upon the plan hereafter to be adopted, and upon the system to be acted upon for the purpose of reconciling the differences of various sects. He knew, also, that a noble and learned Friend of his, whose name was identified with the subject of education, and who had ever shown the deepest interest for the more general diffusion of it—he meant Lord Brougham—had not only introduced last year a Bill upon a particular portion of this subject, but had also since then turned his attention to forming the details of a plan by which education would be more generally diffused throughout the kingdom. Seeing, then, that attention was thus excited on the subject, and expecting that we should soon have further means of judging what was the best plan to be adopted, he should finish his observations by declaring, that whilst he gave his assent to this motion, he was fully impressed with the belief, that though it would be proper for Parliament to take, ere long, decisive measures for the promotion of education, it was still a matter not to be taken up hastily by any Government, for if they unhappily introduced a plan which excited either resentment or repugnance on account of religious feelings, or which gave additional motives for dissension between the Established Church and the great body of Dissenters, they would not be furthering, they would only be obstructing, the great cause which they had at heart. Therefore, whilst he said that some such plan ought to be adopted, he must particularly desire the House and the country not to consider him as pledged to any plan on the subject. He should be prepared, however, to keep his attention fixed steadily upon the subject as one of the most important, and to the great masses of the people of the country one of the most interesting which could possibly come under the consideration of Parliament.

Viscount Sandon

agreed with the noble Lord who had just sat down, that it was desirable that Government should pause before it took any definitive measures upon such a subject as the present. He thought it better to strengthen the hands of the societies which at present existed than to institute any new scheme.

Mr. Slaney

, in explanation, said he never contemplated a compulsory rate. He wished that rate payers should have the power of assessing themselves for the purposes of education.

Motion agreed to.

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