HC Deb 30 April 1839 vol 47 cc680-2
Lord Stanley

had, he said, to ask a question of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department. He had in his hand an extract of the proceedings of the committee of the Privy Council, for superintending the application of sums of money granted by Parliament for the purpose of promoting education. This purported to be an extract, from the minutes of the Council. He presumed that the noble Lord would have no objection to lay before the House a copy of the Order in Council by which the committee was constituted. He wished to ask the noble Lord a series of questions:—First, was it intended that the committee of the Privy Council should have the disposal of sums to be applied for hereafter to Parliament, or of sums appropriated by Parliament before the scheme of the noble Lord was adopted? Next, when it would be necessary for the noble Lord—and he concluded it would be so necessary—to ask, in the course of the present Session, for a vote of Parliament to carry the scheme into operation? But, as in the third case the estimate would be brought forward among the mis- cellaneous estimates at a late period of the Session, when no opportunity would be afforded for discussion, and when the subject would be taken up as a mere money question, he wished to ask the noble Lord, whether it were the intention of her Majesty's Government, at an earlier period, and in a more formal manner, to invite the attention of the Legislature to the merits of the scheme? If the answer was in the affirmative, it would be saving him any further trouble; but if the answer was in the negative, then he should give notice that it was his intention to bring forward a motion upon the proposed plan of education, so as to elicit the opinion of the House, either in its favour or against it.

Lord J. Russell,

in reply to the noble Lord, said, first, that there was no objection to the production of the Order in Council appointing the committee. It went no further than to declare certain officers of State as a committee of the Privy Council for the purposes of education. With respect to the question as to the funds hitherto voted, his answer would be, that there was to be no disposal of the funds at the discretion of the committee except in the manner in which those votes were applied; namely, that a certain portion should be given to the National Society, and a certain portion to the Foreign Schools, for the purpose of building and establishing normal schools. With respect to the disposition of any other sums of money, a vote would be required from Parliament before the committee would feel themselves at liberty to proceed with any further arrangement. As to the last question which had been asked by the noble Lord, he must say, that it was decidedly the intention of the Government to propose a separate estimate, containing no other item, except that which was to refer to sums to be granted for the purposes of education. On a future day notice would be given, that the House should resolve itself into a committee on that estimate alone, taking that sum, and no other, as a part of the miscellaneous estimates, or at all events taking that as the first question.

Lord Stanley

felt no difficulty as to the first portion of what the noble Lord had just stated; but as to the last part of his explanation, he wished to know at what period of the Session the noble Lord meant to bring forward the estimate on education. He wished to take the liberty of stating, that the time the last sum on education was voted was on the 5th of August, and it was not to be supposed they would have the entire and deliberate opinion of the House upon a plan which made such a momentous change in the system of education in this country. He, therefore, had to express a hope that the noble Lord would at an early period take the opinion of the House upon a resolution embodying his plan.

Lord John Russell

replied, that he certainly did not mean to postpone his resolution to the end of the Session. He hoped to be able to bring it forward in the course of six weeks.