HC Deb 31 March 1840 vol 53 cc294-8
Mr. C. Buller

rose lo move for the following papers, without which, he stated that the reports of the Commissioners for Inquiring into Charities would be useless:— An Analytical Digest of the whole body of Reports made by the Commissioners for Inquiring into Charities, upon the plan adopted in a digest relating to certain counties, in pursuance of an order of this House made on the 27th day of March, 1835. Also a more particular digest of all schools and charities for education reported on by the said commissioners, setting forth, as far as appears from the said reports—1. The date and mode of foundation. 2. To what persons the government is intrusted. 3. To whom the patronage belongs. 4. Whether there is any special visitor. 5. The qualifications required in the masters. 6. The instructions prescribed. 7. Who are entitled to the freedom of the school. 8. Whether any exhibitions are attached to it, and whether they are made available. 9. The amount of the income, distinguishing whether it is improvable or not. 10. The state of the school at the time of the inquiry, with the date thereof, as regards the instructions afforded therein, and the number of free and other scholars, with a note of such observations as the Commissioners may have made on the case; and that such Digest may distinguish and classify such schools and charities in the following manner—first, all schools in which Greek or Latin is required to be, or in fact is taught; secondly, all other schools: thirdly all charities for the purposes of education not limited to any particular local establishment. Also, Return of all Charities for the poor of any parish or district, the income whereof is or may be distributed in money, fuel, or other articles, with a note of such observations as the Commissioners may have made, on the case distinguishing and classifying such charities as follows—first, those given for the poor, or the use or benefit of the poor, without any directions or reputed directions by the donor as to the description of poor persons, or the mode of distribution; secondly, those as to which the donor has or is reputed to have limited the application only by describing the objects as poor and receiving parish relief; thirdly, those in which the donor has or is reputed to have given some other directions as to the selection of the objects of the charity, or as to the mode of distribution. Also an alphabetical index to the whole.

Sir R. Peel

had stated last year that he thought it highly desirable that some summary remedy should be adapted for the abuses pointed out by the commissioners. He knew several cases of endowments for the education of the poor in which, owing to the neglect of the trustees the proper number of trustees had not been filled up, and consequently the acts of the present trustees were invalid. Hence they had no control over the education provided in those institutions. In one case with which he was acquainted the original appointment was, that there should be four trustees. There were now only three, owing to neglect of re-election. The master of the school had been appointed by the requisite number, and therefore his appointment being legal his removal by three trustees would be invalid. In these circumstances, no power could be had to review his acts or control the appropriation of the revenue, except by an application to the Court of Chancery. The endowment was 30l. a-year, which, if properly applied, would suffice for the education of the whole parish, and as the application to Chancery would cost 70l., he did not think himself justified in advising them to sacrifice two years' income for the purpose. He thought it of great importance to education, and with reference to the original intentions of the testators, that some simple mode should be devised of application to a proper tribunal to provide that the trustees should be properly appointed. Such a measure might be attended with very valuable results, and he hoped the Attorney-General would turn his attention to the subject.

The Attorney-General

said, that the object was one of great national importance. No doubt, the endowments for education were not of one tenth part the benefit that they might be. He should be glad if a good measure could be framed, but there would often be very great diffi- culty in carrying into effect the wishes of the testator, or in finding what he would wish at present if he were summoned back to this world.

Mr. Hope

said, he had long thought that the best means of settling doubts oil this subject would be through the appointment of a secretary for grammar schools, by whom applications might be made to the Master in Chancery.

Mr. Estcourt

would mention another instance of an endowment, where there was an insufficient number of trustees, and the funds were consequently misapplied. He also knew a case where some of the trustees wished to resign their trusts, owing to infirmity, but though the funds were ample, the invalid trustees were going on in the office, rather than apply the funds to the expenses of an application to Chancery for the power to resign.

Mr. Slaney

said, it was absolutely necessary for the interests of the poor that some cheaper and more effectual mode should be found for securing the appropriation monies which had been left for their education. Some system of inspection over trustees ought to be adopted. A great number of these trustees were persons in the humbler classes, who wished that the education given should be narrowed rather than extended; and he knew one instance where, whenever an examination of the scholars took place, the trustees used to rejoice rather when the children could not spell, because they said that they would make better servants.

Mr. J. Stewart

was satisfied that the Court of Chancery without any new machinery was a proper tribunal for the rectification of these abuses. A great portion of the expense of an application, fees namely, for filing bills and for briefs, would be avoided by authorizing an application to the master without going to the court at all.

Motion agreed to.