HC Deb 04 June 1839 vol 47 cc1377-95
Lord Ashley

rose, pursuant to notice, to move a call of the House for the 14th of June. He apprehended no opposition, as the noble Lord had announced his intention to second the motion.

Lord J. Russell

rose to second the motion, as he had already stated his intention of doing. He would take the same opportunity to state some reasons why he conceived the House should not be influenced by statements in petitions—no doubt honestly intended—but totally at variance with the plan proposed by the committee of the Privy Council. One prevailing error was, to suppose that the plan proposed was intended to apply uniformity to all parishes throughout the kingdom. In the school that was to be established, it was proposed that the persons to be educated in it were not merely to be day scholars, but that they were to live in the house. Therefore it was obvious that neither the system of the National School Society, nor that of the British and Foreign School, would be applicable to it. Under the National Society any child educated must belong to the Established Church, and thus it necessarily became an exclusive school, and those who would send masters for learning to them must be aware that they would be under this exclusive system. If they took the British and Foreign School system, under which the children received instruction in reading the Scriptures, and also religious instruction, either from the Established Church or in conformity with the tenets of the religious societies to which their parents belonged, it was open to other objections. He had always belonged to the British and Foreign School Society, and he was proud and gratified at his connection with it. By the plan of that society, it was provided that Scriptures should be read in the schools belonging to it, and the children should on the Sunday attend divine worship at the church, or attend at the peculiar place of worship of their parents, and also that the children should receive religious instruction, one day in the week, in conformity with the religion of their parents. This system, it was obvious, could not apply to children remaining in the school all the week, and not being under immediate parental superintendence: it was therefore thought necessary, in the plan that was prepared, that they should direct the appointment of a chaplain of the Established Church, and that provision should also be made that the children of Dissenters should be instructed in the peculiar religious doctrines of their parents. It had been assumed that this was the system that was to be established throughout the country. Now, as neither the principle of the National Society nor that of the British and Foreign School Society would apply in the proposed school, neither could the plan that had been alluded to apply all over the country. According to the rule of the National School Society, all the children must attend divine worship with the master of the school at the parish church on Sundays; but he thought that the rule on the same subject that had been adopted by the British and Foreign School Society was more fair and extensive in its operation. But there was another feeling which had got abroad, which was a most mistaken one, which had arisen from an erroneous view that had been taken of a few words in the report of the committee of the Privy Council. It had been said with respect to the children of Roman Catholics, that they would be allowed to use their own version of the Bible. From this it had been assumed that there were to be new versions of the Bible used in their schools, and it was also assumed that they were to be generally used. Now, although there was not such a great difference between these two versions of the Bible as had been described, still he was aware that objections might be urged on the assumption that two versions of the scriptures were to be commonly used. But in the way in which it was proposed in the report of the committee of the Privy Council, it was not open to any such objection. The principle that it was proposed to act upon was by no means a new one, for it had already received the Sanction of that House and the Legislature in an important enactment. It was enacted in the Poor-law Amendment Act, that in the workhouses the pauper children should be assembled in a school and instructed, and that act also provided that each child should receive instruction in the peculiar religion professed by its parents. Now if any of the inmates of the workhouses should happen to be Roman Catholics having children, those children of Roman Catholic patents would require Roman Catholic teachers to attend them, who, of course, would bring with them Roman Catholic books of instruction, and he was not aware that this had been objected to. He therefore thought that the outcry that had been raised on this point had arisen from a completely mistaken view of the subject; and when he said this, he would also observe that there were several other points in which the instructions of the committee of the Privy Council had been completely misunderstood—he would not say misrepresented, but misunderstood so completely as to put an effectual stop to the plan proposed by the committee of the Privy Council. After this misunderstanding, and after the effect which it had produced, he had arrived at the conclusion that it would be unadvisable to pursue the proposed plan further at present. The most excessive eagerness had been manifested in opposition to the system, and the zeal of the opponents of it had been carried to an extent that he could not account for. He had that day received a letter informing him that a clergyman had read a petition against the plan at the conclusion of his sermon, and called upon his congregation to sign it. He had also received the copy of a petition which was described to be against the Government plan, to expel religious instruction from the schools of this country. Now this could only have arisen from a perverse anxiety to exclude the public from forming a correct notion of the plait, for a want of religious instruction could not with any fairness be said to be one of the objections to it. It had also been observed that another objection to it was, that when the children were receiving together general instruction under the same roof, that from the several religious teachers imparting instruction in their peculiar tenets and doctrines to the children belonging to their various sects, it would tend to shake a stedfastness of belief, and render doubtful their convictions in the doctrines of their own peculiar churches. He would not say whether or not this was a valid objection to the plan, or whether it was open to any such objection; but he must say that the zeal that had been manifested on this point was most extraordinary when taken in contrast with the practical infidelity which had prevailed for so long a period on the part of many of those persons on this subject. If reference were made to the reports of the inspectors of prisons, it would be seen that it often happened that forty or fifty persons were found in a gaol who could neither read nor write, and many others who could not repeat the Lord's prayer, or who knowing it could not give any common meaning to it, or give an answer to the most simple questions as to the doctrines of the Christian religion. When be recollected the state of the classes most subject to the criminal law, and who were most severely punished for any offence against society, and when such a large portion of them had net been taught the simple elements of religion and morals, and who, when questioned by the chaplains of the prisons, hardly knew of the existence of a God, or of the doctrine of the death of Jesus Christ, he should not have been surprised if such zeal as had been shown against this plan had been manifested against this lamentable want of instruction. Although the Government might have suffered from the attacks made on it, in consequence of bringing forward this plan, he still should rejoice if it could be turned to a useful purpose, and promote the moral and religious instruction of the people, in connection with the peculiar doctrines of those zealous persons who now appeared so anxious to promote education in that way. He would willingly bear all the odium that had been cast on the plan, if the result was that that extent of ignorance which now unhappily prevailed could be diminished, and that those classes of persons who were now reared in ignorance had an opportunity afforded them of learning their duties to God and man. He repeated that it was not the intention of the Government to persist in the proposal to found the normal school. He should be prepared when the proper time arrived to go into a statement on the report of the committee of the Privy Council, and he should then propose the vote of which he had given notice, and he should also propose that it be divided as at present between the National School Society and the British and Foreign School Society; but in agreeing to this plan for the present he felt bound to observe that he was by no means satisfied in leaving the matter as it was, and giving the control of the education to two voluntary societies which might have very imperfect and defective plans of education, which might be open to the most serious objections. He was glad that increased attention had been devoted to this question since he addressed his constituents on the subject in 1837, and he trusted that all classes would look to a more general diffusion of the blessings of education. In conclusion he would only add that in the first place he was satisfied that it was the duty of the House and the Legislature to promote the instruction of all classes of the community, and secondly that in doing so they should not confine themselves to any exclusive system of instruction. He would only add that he felt great pleasure in seconding the motion of the noble Lord.

Mr. Goulburn

said, that during the whole time he had been in Parliament, he bad never seen so extraordinary a course taken as that which had been adopted by the noble Lord. It was, indeed, most extraordinary that the noble Lord should have taken that opportunity for entering into a discussion of one of the most important subjects that could possibly come under the consideration of the House. The noble Lord had, if he understood him right, told the House, that he had entirely abandoned the plan which no longer ago than last Friday night he appeared so confident in bringing forward, judging by the readiness which the noble Lord had shown in saying that he would second the motion of his noble Friend, the Member for Dorsetshire. The noble Lord had, in seconding the motion for calling the House together, in order that the subject might be fully discussed, taken that opportunity of making an attack on the objections of those who were conscientiously opposed to the Government plan, and of throwing out insinuations, to use no stronger term, with respect to the persons who had petitioned against it. Now, he had been intrusted with a petition from the University which he had the honour to represent, and also petitions from various other places, against the Government scheme of education, as it was understood from the papers which had been laid before the House a few days ago; and although he had not yet found an opportunity of presenting them to the House, yet he could tell the noble Lord that the persons who had signed those petitions, were as capable of understanding the plan as the noble Lord himself. On looking to the number of petitions that had been presented against the resolutions recently laid on the table, he was prepared to say that the persons who had signed them understood those resolutions as he (Mr. Goulburn) understood them, and that they concurred in the objections which had been urged against them in that House. He certainly did not think this was a time to go into a discussion of the subject, and he considered that it would have been more fair of the noble Lord, if he had given some notice of his intention to do so, instead of entering on the discussion so unexpectedly. There was one part of the noble Lord's speech which he felt himself compelled to answer, and that was, with reference to the neglect with which some persons were charged on the subject of education. Now, if he were disposed to impute to one party more than another a want of zeal in bringing forward some plan of education to supply the great defect that at present existed, he did not think that imputation would rest on the party who had opposed the Government plan. Had there not been large public meetings in almost every part of the country for repairing the present defective system, which was the more strongly felt from the great want of religious instruction! And had not those numerous meetings preceded the motion of the noble Lord? He quite agreed with the noble Lord in deploring the evils which arose from defective education; and, in saying that, it was lamentable to see the ignorance of the great truths of religion that was shown by many of the lower classes of society. There were many cases in which the opportunities of instruction that had been afforded were rendered ineffectual, either from the conduct of the parents of those unhappy persons, or from the habitual aversion of youth to receive it; but these were the consequences of ignorance rather than the defect of attention of those religious instructors under whom those persons were placed. As to himself, he certainly must say that he considered all education as good for nothing which did not comprise religious instruction. The plan, however, proposed by the Government—he meant the one now lying on the table of the House—in his opinion tended greatly to the laxity of all religious principles; and entertaining that opinion, he could not possibly approve of it. He would not trouble the House with any further observations on the subject, and had only risen to say that the speech of the noble Lord was entirely unexpected by him, as he believed it to be by many other hon. Members.

Mr. Hume

regretted the noble Lord had been obliged to give up his plan, but after the misrepresentations that had gone forth respecting it he was not unprepared for such a result. The members of the Church of England, instead of supporting this plan had manifested the utmost opposition to it, and stated that they were most anxious for the extension of education in connexion with the Church, but he believed that their conduct was influenced with the design of maintaining the present state of ignorance throughout the country. He recollected that when he was a member of the committee of the Lancasterian Society some years ago, the clergy used every exertion to put it down, and when they found that they could not do so, they started another society, and he was convinced that if at that time the Lancasterian Society had come to Parliament for a grant of money, they would have been met as the present plan had been. The clergy had ample means and sufficient resources to educate all classes, but they had entirely neglected it. The clergy were amply paid for the instruction of the people, and all the evils that had arisen, had resulted from the allowance of pluralities and non-residence. He contended, therefore, that the Church of England was answerable for the prevalence of ignorance and crime that existed in this country to such a frightful extent. After all his experience, however, he had hardly thought that the plan would have been treated in the manner in which it had been. He was sorry that the discussion had not come on respecting the plan, for if it had, an opportunity would have been afforded of exposing and doing away with many of the objections that had been urged against it, and thus the feeling that had been excited throughout the country would have been allayed. Nothing could be more absurd and monstrous than some of the opinions that had been put forward in some of the petitions presented to the House. He had seen, in one petition that had been presented from 439 schoolmasters against the bill, an observation to the effect, that they would rather see the children die in ignorance than have them educated under the proposed plan. What could be expected when they saw such a remark emanate from those who were regarded as instructors? It was entirely owing to the scandalous neglect of the heads of the Church Establishment, which was so richly endowed for the purposes of education, that such ignorance prevailed.

Viscount Morpeth

merely rose to reply to some of the observations of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge, and to say, that in his humble judgment at least, the proceeding of his noble Friend the Secretary for the Home Department was not at all obnoxious to the reproof it had received. On the contrary, his noble Friend was right to take the first opportunity that was offered by any motion to inform Parliament, in due time, of the course he meant to pursue, and to refute and contradict the offensive, mendacious misrepresentations that had been made with respect to the Government plan, through so many different channels. Why, hon. Members could not take up a single daily or weekly newspaper without finding endless misrepresentations made of this plan. His noble Friend was not forestalling any discussion on the subject which was to take place according to previous notice, because he had stated, that in deference to the opinion expressed by the country, he did not intend to press his present plan on the House. He hoped that the country might form a more deliberate opinion upon the subject, and that there might be adopted at some future time a plan of universal education, for he trusted this question was only delayed for the present. His noble Friend, however, he was happy to think, was resolved to obtain as much education for the people as possible, and for that purpose he would still call upon the House for a grant of 30,000l. for the purposes of national education, which should be distributed by the two societies named by his noble Friend; but possibly under some better and different modifications of the manner in which those societies acted at present. When the right hon. Member said, he thought education was good for nothing without religious instruction, and that the present plan tended greatly to produce a laxity of' religious principles, he must have forgotten that both the speech of his noble Friend, and also the plan laid down by the committee of the Privy Council, were most emphatic and expressive in the contradiction of such being intended by the present plan.

Sir E. Knatchbull

observed, that this was the first time that he had ever heard a Minister of the Crown designate petitions as mendacious and offensive. He appealed to the House whether such observations had not been applied by the noble Lord to the petitions sent to the House on the subject of the Government plan of education. If he was wrong, the noble Lord would have an opportunity of setting him right, and of doing away with an impression which the noble Lord's observations had made on his mind, as well as, he believed, on the minds of other Members. He understood the expressions of the noble Lord to be to the effect that he had described. The hon. Member for Kilkenny said, that this was a Church question, and had intimated that the petitions that had been presented, praying the House not to agree to the plan of education proposed by her Majesty's Ministers, had been got up through the agency of the clergy. He would ask whether the Wesleyan Methodists were connected with the Church?—and that most respectable body of dissenters had, unâ voce, declared against the adoption of this plan. The petitions that had been presented expressed the opinions of a large portion of the people of England, and it was in consequence of this, that the noble Lord had not thought proper to submit the plan that had been proposed to the consideration of Parliament. His noble Friend had moved for a call of the House, in expectation of this subject coming on, on Friday, the 14th; and after what had fallen from the noble Lord the other night, it was generally believed that there would be no objection to the motion. It had been thought that the noble Lord would have seconded the motion in the regular and proper manner—aye, in the regular and proper manner, for he contended, that the noble Lord had been most irregular, in proceeding to discuss a motion which, it was understood, was unopposed, and which might have come on in the early part of the evening. This was an unopposed motion, and nobody expected that the noble Lord would have made a speech on the subject of education. He would appeal to the House whether it was not generally understood, that when his noble Friend proposed his motion for the call of the House, and when the noble Lord gave notice of his intention of seconding it, whether it was not generally understood that it was to be unopposed? It might, however, be thought, that the noble Lord had availed himself of the absence of the right hon. Member for Tamworth, who probably would have answered him had he been present, and had taken the opportunity of explaining his reasons for abandoning his proposed plan, in what he must designate as not either a very clear or a very distinct explanation. It would be said, that the noble Lord availed himself of such an opportunity of abandoning the plan which was to give education without religious instruction. He did not believe that this was the intention of the noble Lord, or of those who acted with him, in proposing the plan; but such certainly was the belief of many with regard to the plan, and the course that had been pursued would certainly lead to that opinion in the country. This opinion had been formed by seeing that the whole control of the general education of the country was to be left to a committee of the Privy Council, and not a single ecclesiastic was a member of this body. It might be said, that there were to be chaplains to these schools, who were ministers of the Church; but these were all subordinate officers, under the control of the committee of Privy Council. In a body so constituted, in the present circumstances of the country, there would be little confidence, and above all, when the situation was recollected in which they were placed. He agreed in all that had fallen from his right hon. Friend near him, and only regretted that the present course had been taken. He at present understood, from what had fallen from the noble Lord, that his proposition would be, that the 30,000l. which he intended to propose to vote, should be expended under the superintendence of the two societies to which the pecuniary grants had been made. If this was the case, he believed that there would be no very serious opposition to the plan. He had felt bound to rise, after the observations which had fallen from the noble Lord, and which he had understood in the sense which he had described; but if he was under an erroneous impression, he should feel happy in being corrected.

Viscount Howick

could not help remarking, that the right hon. Baronet had manifested a singular talent for totally misunderstanding the language and observations of his noble Friend, otherwise he would not have so completely misrepresented what had taken place. He was quite satisfied, that no other person who had listened to the speech of his noble Friend, could have supposed that the observations that he had made, applied to those who had signed the petitions against the proposed plan. He thought that the term "mendacious misrepresentation" was most properly applied to those persons who got up the excitement that had prevailed, with the view of deceiving and inducing feelings of opposition to the plan, and with the view of leading persons to sign petitions. With reference also to what had fallen from his other noble Friend, nothing could be less improper or unfair, than for him to explain the nature of the vote he intended to propose, when he seconded the motion for a call of the house, and to say, that he did not intend to press the plan which had been the means of exciting such a feeling as he had described. Could anything be more fair on the part of his noble Friend than that previous to the House coming to a vote, there should be no misapprehension as to the nature of the motion which he intended to make? What had his noble Friend gained by the course that he had pursued? He had merely explained the feelings that had induced him to abandon his plan, and propose a vote somewhat different. So far from this being unfair, it gave an opportunity to Gentlemen opposite to consider what answer they should give to his statement, or to the proposition that would be grounded on it. The right hon. Baronet stated, that this was an unopposed motion, and that it might have been made at the beginning of the evening; and that it was, therefore, irregular for his noble Friend to have made any observations on seconding the motion of the noble Lord. Was the right hon. Baronet aware that it often happened that unopposed motions were discussed for hours? What was more common than to debate the most important questions of foreign policy on motions for papers, to the production of which there was not the slightest objection? The course, therefore, pursued by his noble Friend was entirely in conformity with the proceedings of the House. Considering the manner in which the plan of education had been misrepresented and misstated, the complaint of unfairness made against his noble Friend appeared to him to be most extraordinary and uncalled for, as he had been only anxious to give the most ample notice of what his views and intentions were.

Mr. Litton

felt, that as the country had been alarmed from one end to the other, at the announcement of the proposed plan of education, they were justified in expecting the fullest explanation from the noble Lord. It had been stated, that the feeling that prevailed had been the result of the misstatements and misrepresentations that had been put forward on the subject. If this were the case, why did the noble Lord shrink from a full discussion of the plan, and show that the objections that had been urged against it had been the result of misrepresentations and party feelings? Those who sat on his side of the House had a right to expect that an opportunity of fully discussing the plan would have been afforded to them, and when he stated on Thursday last that he would second the motion of his hon. Friend for a call of the House, he would ask, whether it was not the belief of every man in the House that he was prepared to justify the plan which he had announced, and to take the sense of the House on the subject? There could be no mistake as to this plan. It was a plan for mingling up in one common school the children of the Socinian, the members of the Church of England, and of the Roman Catholics. This mixture of children of all religious persuasions would not fail to destroy every religion whatever. He denied that the representations which had been made by the opponents of the Government scheme, whether in or out of petitions were mendacious. The statements which had been made from that side of the House were strictly true, and expressed the opinions of all who had any religion in their hearts. He challenged discussion on the question, and then let it be judged who was wrong and who was right. The noble Lord had heard some severe remarks on his conduct with regard to this measure; and while he and others pursued Similar plans—while their measures went to destroy all true religion, he would hear observations still more offensive. Of all the bad measures brought forward by her Majesty's Government, he firmly believed this was the worst. It struck at the root of the morals and religion of the country.

Mr. O'Connell

said, the hon. and learned Gentleman entertained very peculiar notions, for he maintained, that if the children of parents holding different opinions in religion were educated together, the result of the entire would be the production of a kind of negative quantity, and end in no religion at all. There was no country in Europe where the children of different persuasions were not educated together. Let them look at the report of Mr. Nicholls on the state of Belgium and Holland, and they would find the followers of Calvin, the Lutheran and Roman Catholic educated together in amity and perfect good faith. That was the spirit which ought to exist between Christians, and formed a cheering contrast to that bigotry which allowed no freedom of thought, and grasped at every thing. The Church of England was the richest national church in Europe, and it was the church which, of all others, had contributed the least to education, and it was a lasting disgrace, that of all countries in Europe, England alone should have no system of national education. The hon. Member for the University of Cambridge maintained, that the Church of England did educate the people, but what did he mean by that? Did the church educate Dissenters or Roman Catholics? No, it did not; neither would he right hon. Gentleman allow that to be done. Yet the 30,000l. proposed to be voted for education was not the money of the Established Church, any more than it was the money of the Independents, Baptists, or of any other religious sect, for it came as much out of their pockets as it did from the pockets of members of the Church of England. It was as much the money of the Dissenters as it was the money of Churchmen. Yet what was the public outcry and clamour which had been raised, except that no part of that public money should be expended towards the support of any system of national education which was not founded on the principles of the Established Church? He declared such a plea to be bigoted and unjust. If they permitted only one version of the Scriptures to be read at the public schools, children, when they were grown up, would find they had been deceived. Besides, he would ask, what harm could the perusal of the different versions produce? All that was formerly insisted on was, that the Roman Catholics should read the Bible. But now that the Roman Catholics were ready to read the Bible by the adoption of the Government plan, their opponents turned round and said they should not be allowed to read their own Bible. He did not wish the Roman Catholic version to be put into the hands of any except Roman Catholic children. To ask for more would certainly be unjust and unfair. All that he asked was perfect equality to all children to be educated as children of that special persuasion which their parents followed—that the children of parents of the Church of England should be educated in the principles of that Church—Dissenters according to their particular tenets, and the Roman Catholics according to theirs. He would ask, which was the most numerous per suasion? The Roman Catholic was the most numerous in the British isles. They had seven millions in Ireland, and two millions in England, and he begged to add, they were not diminishing in numbers. Yet hon. Members opposite wished, that this numerous and increasing class should be shut out from the benefits conferred by their own money. What was the cause of this? Were they afraid to let the Roman Catholics have the benefit of education? Did they wish to keep them in ignorance, that they might be the more easily converted. That was a narrow and most singular course, for in other countries the children of all persuasions were educated together on a footing of equality. The clergy of the Established Church had availed themselves of this opportunity to raise the old no-Popery cry, without any justifiable reason. He was sorry to hear, that the noble Lord intended to abandon his former plan, and that he proposed to give public money to voluntary societies. Those societies would allow none but the legalised versions of the Bible authorised by law to be read at their schools, so that such a scheme would practically exclude the Roman Catholics from all benefit. He protested against the appropriation of the public money to such purposes, and thought, that the public at large ought to have the benefit fairly and freely.

Colonel Sibthorp

said, that there was no trick that falling men would not practise to endeavour to save themselves; but the noble Lord's trick would not do.

Mr. Slaney

considered it unjust to taunt the noble Lord for giving way in regard to the scheme of education proposed by the committee of the Privy Council, because he was only yielding to the loudly expressed opinions of the country. He was sorry, that the question had been met with so much asperity; but he must say, that if on the one hand there had been exaggerations and misrepresentations on the opposite side of the House, he could not acquit some on the Ministerial benches from having made use of wrong expressions; for instance, the hon. Member for Kilkenny charged the clergy of the Establishment with having neglected the education of their flocks, while in point of fact they had been most forward on all such occasions in giving their aid and example.

Mr. Godson

said it was extraordinary, that not only the Members who sat on that side of the House, but almost all who had read the minutes of the committee of the Privy Council, should construe them in a different sense from what was intended. Many of his constituents felt a deep interest in the question, and he trusted, that as the published plan was to be abandoned, the noble Lord would speedily enable the House to judge of what was to be brought forward as a substitute.

Mr. Wyse

said he must protest against the withdrawing of the published plan, and had always expressed his objections to giving the public money to any societies whatever. He protested against every arrangement by which these societies were to be understood as standing in the place of the nation. He trusted the noble Lord would consider whether, by giving money to these societies, he would not be giving a bonus to maintain political and religious ascendancy. The Roman Catholics would be excluded by giving the public money to these societies, and he hoped the noble Lord would still recur to his former plan, from which he had been driven by the mistaken clamour and the unfair means that had been used to get up petitions against it. He had at that moment in his possession a petition in favour of the Government scheme, in which it was stated, that the signature of the petitioner had been extorted to a petition against the measure, as he was coming out of a church, by telling him, that the was petitioning in its favour. He did not believe, that the real sense of the people of England had been ascertained, or that it would prove to be really hostile to a scheme of national education on liberal principles. He had presented petitions from 80,000 persons in the North of England in favour of such a measure a year ago, and he saw no reason to induce him to believe, that these persons had since changed their minds. He regretted, that the noble Lord had not given more time to enable the public mind to be rightly informed as to the principle of the Government scheme, and still further, that the noble Lord had not adopted such a course, when he (Mr. Wyse) brought this subject under the consideration of the House on a former occasion, as would have enabled the Government to bring the scheme forward supported by resolutions of that House. As to any obstacles that might be thrown in the way of a system of national education, based on free and comprehensive principles, he said fearlessly, that it was not in the power of the hon. Members to stop its progress. It was not a question that could be ruled by Wesleyan Methodists, or any other sect. But it was a question whether there should be "knowledge" in the country; and he believed, that there were many persons who, under the cloak of religion, were desirous to stop the advance of instruction altogether. He was gratified, however, to see that there had been what was termed an "awakening" of the Church of England; that that Church, which had remained so long "speechless," had at length roused herself from lethargy. He did not charge the Church of England with negligence on the subject of education upon his own authority alone. He did so upon the statement of learned doctors, who admitted that the Church had not taken sufficient charge of the instruction of the people. Authorities in that Church stated, that they would not attend even once a-week to the religious instruction of their people, if it were not specially enjoined as a part of their duty. In his opinion, a Roman Catholic priest might, perhaps, with propriety, have said something of that sort; but the ground of the Reformation, the great principle inculcated by Luther, was that it was a duty which all ought to discharge—the teaching of the poor and holy. How they had neglected that duty, the history of this country fully demonstrated. But the Church had done well to "awaken;" he was glad of it; he rejoiced at it. He was gladder, perhaps, at that awakening than some Members of the Church of England. He augured much good from that increased activity. He believed it would be productive of much good. If the people of this country were sufficiently instructed, they should not have to witness such deplorable scenes as had taken place lately at Canterbury, and which exhibited, in a strong light, the evil effects of a Church slumbering in its duties of attending to the general education of the people. He did not wish to carry the discussion further at present. But he must again enter his protest against granting the public money to any of the national schools, whether to the British and Foreign, or to the National school, to the exclusion of others. He was anxious that all schools and classes should have the benefit of the public money, without distinction of sect or creed.

Lord Ashley

must say, that when the noble Lord gave notice that he would second his motion, he thought it would have been more courteous to the House if he had stated that he would take that opportunity of withdrawing his former plan, and explaining the nature of that which was to be substituted in its place, as well as to expose the misrepresentations which had been urged against the Government measure. He would only add, that the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, had thought fit to use words throwing into the discussion that gall and bitterness which had not formerly been introduced. He would only say, that he hoped the noble Lord would be prepared to explain what he meant by the terms "offensive" and "mendacious."

Viscount Morpeth

I may state at once that I mean at least three-fourths of all the statements which have appeared in opposition to the plan.

Lord John Russell

stated, that it was his intention, in the course of a few days, to lay upon the Table certain papers relating to the subject of education. It would be for the noble Lord to say whether he would persevere in his motion for the call of the House after those papers had been produced. If the noble Lord insisted on going to a division now, he (Lord John Russell) should certainly consider himself bound to support him.

Lord Ashley

admitted, that nothing could be more fair than the noble Lord's proposition; he understood that it was the noble Lord's intention to lay upon the Table certain papers upon which the House would be enabled to form a better judgment of the whole question. But surely the House would see that, as regarded the division now proposed, the greater part of the Gentlemen who sat upon the Opposition side had gone away, under an impression that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) would not oppose the motion for the call of the House, and consequently that no division would take place. Under such circumstances it was quite possible that the Government might obtain what, in their estimation, would be a victory; but it was a victory which he thought would not redound much to their credit.

Mr. French,

considering that the original motion was to be withdrawn, thought it was too much for the noble Lord (Lord Ashley) to call upon the Ministerial side of the House, which, as far as his experience extended, had always been found to be practically useless.

Sir S. Lushington

said that nothing in the world would induce him to vote against the noble Lord's motion. If he did so, he should conceive that he had been guilty of practising a deception upon the House of Commons, because no one who heard his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) the other night, could entertain a doubt that he had assented to the proposition for the call of the House. The only question was, whether, under the circumstances, the noble Lord (Lord Ashley) would deem it expedient to persevere in his motion.

Mr. Sheil

thought, that the observations just made by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets was quite conclusive of the question. There could be no doubt of the noble Lord's right, if he thought proper to press it, of insisting upon his motion for the call of the House; but he would respectfully submit to the noble Lord, as an intimation had been given to him by the noble Lord, the Home Secretary, that the plan was to be changed, whether he would not consult the convenience of hon. Members by not insisting upon the call of the House? The whole matter rested entirely with the noble Lord himself. If he insisted on going to a division he should certainly consider himself bound to vote with him.

Lord Ashley

should be extremely sorry to do anything that was in the least degree annoying to the House, or that for a moment could be regarded as discourteous; but he had no means of knowing that the call of the House would not be as necessary as applied to the new plan, as it was to the old one. The noble Lord, however, had promised that the new plan should be laid upon the Table to-morrow. Under such circumstances he could only say, that as soon as he had seen it, and had had the opportunity of consulting his friends with respect to it, if it should appear not to require a strict attendance of Members when it came to be discussed, he would immediately move that the order for the call of the House be rescinded.

Motion for the call of the House agreed to.