§ House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Bernal in the chair.
§ (1.) 46,824l. British Museum.
§ MR. HUME
said, that that was a large sum, but he had no objection to make to it, as it was to be applied to a most valuable national object. He wished to see the whole of that magnificent collection, and more especially the library, more extensively thrown open to the public. The Commissioners who had inquired into the state of the Museum had recommended a 598 change in the system of its management, and that instead of a Committee of thirty individuals, it should be managed by a small Executive Committee, whose members should be paid, and should be individually responsible for the trust committed to their care. He entirely approved of that recommendation, and he hoped it would speedily be carried into effect.
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
said, he believed there was no one institution in which the people of this country took so much interest as in the British Museum, and that there was none which offered such striking marks of increasing popularity. Forty years ago the number of readers amounted to 1,950 only, and last year the number of readers had increased to 72,000. In the year 1835 the number of books in the library was only 235,000, while they were at present, he believed, twice that number, or 470,000. Not less than 1,070,000 persons had entered the Museum as visitors in the course of last year, while the number of visitors five years ago had only been 680,000, and had only been 70,000 in the year 1810. And he could further state, that while the number of visitors had so greatly increased, their conduct had been beyond all praise. He believed the library of the Museum was at present open during a greater number of hours, and was accessible to a greater number of persons, than any similar establishment in the world. He trusted that during the recess the noble Lord at the head of the Government would take into his consideration the increasing wants of the establishment, and would give his attention to the necessity of adding to the buildings.
§ MR. W. J. FOX
would suggest that the reading room should be opened in the evening. There were hundreds and thousands of young men in the metropolis who desired this so earnestly, that if the expense were the only obstacle to the granting of their desire, they would most cheerfully contribute towards defraying the cost. They were persons whose occupations prevented them from attending during the day time; but they were a class really addicted to study, and would not treat it as a mere lounge. Such an alteration in the arrangements of the library was calculated to turn the great literary riches at their disposal to the best account. The only objection he had heard was the risk of fire attendant on the use of the necessary apparatus for lighting; but he 599 thought that very sufficient precautions might be taken against the possibility of accident. They might, for instance, take rooms near the Museum, and, to reduce the danger to its lowest amount, they might only allow the duplicate books to be used. These amounted to 70,000 or 80,000 volumes; but, supposing that there were only 50,000, they would of themselves constitute a very valuable library. This arrangement would be, comparatively speaking, so inexpensive, and the boon would be so great, that he trusted the proposition would receive a favourable consideration. As to the vote itself, he very much regretted that it was not for a much larger amount, inasmuch as greater accommodation had become absolutely necessary. He thought that a few thousands might very reasonably have been added, to enable Mr. Layard to prosecute his interesting and very valuable researches.
§ MR. EWART
greatly approved of the suggestion of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fox), but thought that there should be several libraries formed in London. The proposal of the hon. Gentleman would make, however, an excellent beginning. There had been large public libraries founded in Paris, Rouen, Amiens, and, as they sometimes found a ray of light proceed from a very unexpected quarter, even the Pope sanctioned a public library at Rome.
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
said, the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fox) had stated the principal objection to opening the reading room at night, namely, the danger of fire. But that was by no means the only reason why they should not adopt the proposal. In the first place, there was the expense which would be caused by the larger staff that would be required, and it might be doubted whether the result would repay them for the additional outlay; for the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), who had proposed the extension of the hours at which the Museum might be seen, had admitted that it had not been productive of such benefit as he had expected. He (Sir R. Inglis) should be glad, however, to see two or three large public libraries of a humbler but more practical character established in the metropolis. Still he must object to the removal of the duplicates into a separate library. Some of them were often in use at the same time, and in others they could not be removed without the violation of trusts and bequests. It would, for in- 600 stance, be a breach of the public faith to remove a book from the library of George III., because a copy of it happened to be in Mr. Bentham's collection.
§ MR. STANFORD
willingly bore testimony to the civility of the attendants at the British Museum. He had read at most of the European libraries, and was disposed to agree with the proposal of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fox). He thought the means for readers in this country were far less than in any other. He did not think that there were more than 1,000 regular readers at the British Museum. He must express a decided opinion that further opportunities of reading and of literary improvement ought to be offered by the Government. He hoped the hon. Baronet (Sir R. Inglis) would use his influence with the Government, in placing at the disposal of the public, at other hours than the present ones, the magnificent stores of the British Museum.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, the ventilation of the British Museum was such as to render it almost impossible for many gentlemen to attend there—he trusted some improvement would be made. The catalogue had certainly been improved; but the ventilation, he repeated, was exceedingly bad. He wished to ask the noble Lord at the head of the Government a question upon a very grave subject. A Commission had been appointed—that Commission had sat for a considerable time, and had made a Report; but no proceedings had been taken upon that Report. He now wished to called the attention of the Government to that circumstance. He wanted to know if the Government intended to bring in any measure founded on that Report?
§ MR. SLANEY
wished to press upon the noble Lord at the head of the Government the opinion of his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, namely, that a reading room should be procured elsewhere for the middle classes, where they could study in the evening. An arrangement had been made for the early closing of shops and warehouses; but the young men, who thus had leisure, could not yet avail themselves of their spare hours in literary instruction.
§ MR. CHISHOLM ANSTEY
said, he begged to make a statement, notice of which he had given to the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. Inglis). He wanted to know why it was that the Home Office, or any 601 other department of the Government not immediately connected with the administration of the Museum library, should interfere with it in any way? They had interfered in the map department. He held in his hand a letter from a gentleman who wished to consult a map of the river Med-way in the King's Library, that had been made about the year 1724. The writer complained that some maps to which he desired to refer were sealed up; and the functionary at the Museum, upon inquiry, told him that they were so sealed by order of the Government. Having inquired a little more, he was led to believe that the reason of this sealing was the dread of French invasion, and so as to keep from our Gallic neighbours the knowledge of the topography of these districts, and the nature of our fortifications. This absurd fear had long since passed away, and it seemed foolish that those valuable maps, useful for other purposes, should still remain sealed. As far as the fear of French invasion was concerned, there were some mapsellers in London who could give all the information which a Frenchman could require. He believed the maps were sealed on account of certain fortifications on the river Medway, most of which had long since disappeared, though the bag that contained the map remained sealed. The gentleman who had written to him was no Frenchman, but a most loyal subject of Her Majesty.
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
begged to assure the hon. Gentleman that that was not the case. An action had been brought affecting the rights of the Crown; and, at the suggestion of the Master General of the Ordnance, the maps had been sealed up in order to prevent those rights from being assailed.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, in reply to the question of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes), that several of the recommendations of the Commission had been complied with, but it was not thought advisable to adopt the whole Report at once. Nevertheless, it was a most valuable document, and it would be resorted to from time to time, as occasion seemed to render proper. With respect to the suggestion about the establishment of new libraries, he had himself, when George IV. presented the Royal library, recommended that it should not be added to the Museum, but that it should form a separate institution. It was quite true that, compared with towns on the Conti- 602 nents, we should not make a very good figure as regarded public libraries, but the subject should have his best attention.
§ MR. HUME
said, that if there was to be no change in the governing power, he should no longer agree to the Vote. He considered it necessary to have a small executive body instead of a numerous Commission. A Committee was appointed, twelve years ago, to take the management, but it had never met, and one Member took it one day, and another another. The Master of the Rolls, Mr. Speaker, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were members of the Commission, and they had surely too many engagements to attend to the business properly. What was wanted, was unity of management, instead of which it was left to individual members, and thus the funds were insensibly drawn from their legitimate objects, in order to gratify the peculiar tastes of each.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he felt bound to defend the Commissioners from the charge that no reliance was to be placed upon their attendance. The Commissioners comprised amongst the rest such men as Mr. Hallam, Mr. Macaulay, Sir David Dundas, and Lord Mahon, and in them the public might have the most entire confidence.
§ MR. HUME
disclaimed the intention of casting any reflections upon the Committee; he had only argued that their other occupations rendered it impossible to pay proper attention to the Museum. Lord Seymour, for instance, was a member of eighteen boards. What was wanted was a few persons who should be there from Monday morning to Saturday night.
§ MR. HENLEY
hoped that the trustees would take measures to have such information placed before them as would enable them to judge of the number of individuals that availed themselves of the advantages afforded them in the library of the institution. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) said he thought it desirable that several public libraries should be established throughout the country, but he had not applied himself to the immediate question at issue, having been led away from it by the observations which had fallen from the hon. Gentleman behind him. If the fact were, as the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Stanford) had stated it, he thought it very extraordinary that only 1,000 persons should have availed themselves of the benefits of this library.
§ SIR ROBERT H. INGLIS
said, that 603 such a statement was incorrect. The number of persons that used the library was nearer to 40,000, and the number of visitors exceeded 78,000 within the last year. The least number of volumes furnished in one day was 100, and one-third of the whole number of the books had been consulted or referred to.
§ MR. STANFORD
said, he was in the habit of using the library, and never found more there than 300 persons on an average, who were generally the same that he usually met there. He therefore felt himself justified in saying that he thought there were not more than 1,000 persons who availed themselves of the advantage of the reading room. He believed that the 70,000 visitors alluded to by the hon. Baronet were made up of the same persons that attended there day after day.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also—
§ (2.) 31,221l., New Buildings, British Museum.
§ (3.) 3,500l., British Museum Antiquities.
§ (4.) 150,000l., Public Education, Great Britain.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that in the absence, through indisposition, of his right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department, he wished to make a statement, in explanation of this Vote. The House was aware that this Vote for Education commenced in 1833, when its amount did not exceed 20,000l. In 1838, a great change was made with reference to the mode of distributing the sum thus voted by Parliament, it being arranged that a Committee of the Privy Council should be appointed to make that distribution, from time to time, to make minutes with respect to the mode in which the distribution was effected, and to take into their care various other questions connected with education. Large sums of money had been voted by Parliament for this purpose. Previous to the change in question, these sums amounted in the whole to 120,000l., distributed by the Treasury; and, since that period, up to 1851, the sums granted amounted to 870,000l., of which the Committee of Education had expended 641,540l. up to the end of that year, and a further amount since. At this moment the balance in the hands of the Committee of Education was 99,586l., and the estimate for the present year being 186,381l., and the sum proposed to be taken being 150,000l., this would leave in the hands of the Committee a balance 604 of 63,205l., and it was deemed advisable, to leave in their hands a considerable balance in order to fulfil engagements which they had made, and payment of which might at any time be required. It was to be borne in mind that these sums contributed by Parliament, implied much larger sums contributed by the public out of doors. Of late years, a new principle had been established, which went much beyond the original scheme of simply contributing to the building of schools, a plan based upon the theory that the way in which the public funds could be made most practically available for education would be not so much the increasing the quantity as the improving the quality of education in this country; and, for this purpose, there bad been introduced a system of giving stipends to pupil-teachers, of augmenting the salaries of masters and mistresses, of awarding grants and exhibitions, of furnishing maps and books at a low price, and so on. At present there were 6,700 persons receiving annual payments, in one or other of the capacities he had mentioned, from the Parliamentary Votes. The plan, so far as it had been hitherto tried, had been eminently successful and highly beneficial, more especially in relation to the future teachers. He would beg to read to the House some extracts from the reports of the inspectors on the point. The Rev. H. Moseley, referring to the elementary schools inspected by him in Wiltshire and Berkshire during the months of October, November, and December, 1850, stated as follows:—The number of children who had left them during the twelve months preceding my examination was 1,488, and the number who had been admitted to them 1,853, so that the aggregate number of children attending them had increased by 365, being at the rate of 24 per cent. I attribute this increase to the greater popularity of the schools, growing out of the increased facilities they afford for the education of the children, and chiefly from the labours of the pupil-teachers. In the schools where pupil-teachers are employed, the monitorial system has generally been given up. Many of these pupil-teachers are entitled now to rank as assistant-masters and mistresses, and most effectual assistance is rendered by them in the teaching of the children, particularly of the lower classes, heretofore much neglected. A largo proportion of them manifest an interest in the work of the teacher, and may be considered to be well adapted to it. They have been selected as the promising children of their respective schools, are generally of fair abilities, and have made good progress in their learning, according to the course prescribed in your Lordship's schedule. Having made special inquiries from the clergy, and other friends and supporters of the schools, as to their 605 conduct, I have great satisfaction in reporting the favourable accounts that I have received. I believe that there is no other class of persons of that age whose conduct, subjected to the like careful observation and scrutiny, would be found more entirely free from blame. The schools in which pupil-teachers have been appointed are generally schools fortunate in the supervision of active and zealous clergymen; and I cannot convey in adequate terms the sense I entertain of the importance of this fact. I believe that the success which has, up to this period, characterised the working of the pupil-teacher system is mainly to be attributed to it.The Rev. F. C. Cook, in the metropolitan district, said—I have little to add to the full report which I made upon this most important subject last year. The hopes which I then expressed are much confirmed by what I have since observed.The Rev. F. Watkins, Her Majesty's inspector in the counties of York, Durham, and Northumberland, said—I am able to report very favourably of the progress of the system of pupil-teachers. There are very few of the whole number of schools in which pupil-teachers are apprenticed, which do not bear evidence to the fitness and usefulness of the system, by improvement, both in discipline and progress, correspondent to the time during which it has been at work.The Rev. J. P. Norris, Her Majesty's inspector of schools in Cheshire, Shropshire, and Staffordshire, makes the following observations on the working of the pupil-teacher system:—Perhaps it might not appear at once to a casual observer that the standard of instruction in pupil-teacher schools was much higher than in non-pupil teacher schools, but, on a closer inspection of the tables, it will be seen to be the case, and that in the most satisfactory way possible. It is not in history, geography, grammar, or the higher rules of arithmetic—that is, in the first-class subjects—that the great disparity is shown; but in the lower subjects which still engage the bottom of the school—in the percentage of children still occupied with their alphabet and spelling, or who have not yet begun to write on paper or cast accounts—that the pupil-teacher schools appear so far in advance of non-pupil teacher schools. Thus, in pupil-teacher schools only 17 per cent are left in the alphabet class; in non-pupil teacher schools 48 per cent, or nearly half; in pupil-teacher schools only 5 per cent are writing copies on slates; in non-pupil teacher schools 46 per cent, or nearly half, are still so occupied; in pupil-teacher schools only 3½ per cent appear not to have begun arithmetic; in non-pupil teacher schools 52 per cent, or one quarter.When it was considered for how brief a time the labouring classes were able to send their children to school, it was important to find that the results obtained in that time were so much greater than at former periods. The reports he had quoted were those of inspectors of the National 606 Society's Schools. He would now cite the report of inspectors belonging to other schools. Mr. J. D. Morell, the inspector of British and Protestant Dissenting Schools in the north and east of England, said—The system of pupil-teachers still remains one of the most interesting and important features in your Lordships' Minutes, and none, I believe, has had a greater effect in raising the general tone of primary education through the country. So long as examples of a thoroughly efficient primary school were wanting, there was no wonder at the little zeal exhibited in the progress of education, and in the improvement of the schools already existing. A single effective school, held up as a model to a district, is a realised idea, which places the entire problem of education to the minds of observers in a new light. To bring the mass of our population under such influences is seen at once to be an object worth all the effort and the sacrifice that can be directed towards it. This appears to me to be one of the first and foremost of the advantages which have been secured by the apprenticeship of pupil-teachers. Many other advantages are of course in reserve, but the mere fact of having by this instrumentality planted practically efficient schools here and there throughout the country—schools in which we are not wholly shut up to the formal mechanism of the monitorial system on the one hand, nor to the incessant waste of time consumed in drill, march, bad music, and dull routine on the other—this very fact, I say, renders the return to such methods and organisations a moral impossibility. The people themselves begin now to know what education is, and are not very likely to be again satisfied with an apology for it. With regard to the pupil-teachers themselves there is of course a great variety in their efficiency and progress, as there is in the circumstances under which they are placed. As a whole, however, they have considerably exceeded my expectations.Mr. T. W. M. Marshall, Her Majesty's inspector of Roman Catholic schools, said—I ought not, perhaps, in speaking of matters affecting the welfare of Roman Catholic schools, to omit all allusion to the introduction into them, for the first time, of apprenticed pupil-teachers. The school managers who have availed themselves of their services, and watched the effect of their employment, appear to be unanimous in their sense of the value of this class of assistant teachers; and the improvement visible in the schools where they are found, is, with few exceptions, sufficiently marked and decisive to leave no room for doubt on this subject.There was a similar report from Dr. Woodford, one of the inspectors for Scotland. It was to be observed that the encouragement of these pupil-teachers, and the rewards given for efficient teaching, had not only an immediate effect upon the young men themselves, but interested all their relations and friends in the great work of education, so that quite a novel and most effective impetus was communicated to the 607 labouring classes in the right direction by the opportunities afforded by this plan to the development of superior intellect and application among their relatives. The augmentation of the salaries of the masters and mistresses, and the annual exhibitions and grants, had also been found exceedingly useful. The great point to be aimed at was not so much the number of children going vaguely to school, as the securing a sound quality of education for those who did go there. One defect there was which it would be very difficult, he feared, to remedy, that namely of children being removed from school at a very early age. It appeared that no less than 35 per cent were taken away from school under seven years of age, 62 per cent under ten, while less than 8 per cent were above twelve. It was manifest there was great danger that children taken away so early from instruction would soon forget what they had learned, and the seeds of education be lost for ever, Yet, what remedy could be suggested? To poor people earning their few shillings a week, the temptation of the 1s. 6d. or 2s. which a child, if put to some employment away from school might earn, was very great. Perhaps some plan might be devised of schools at which children of about twelve and upwards might attend for short periods each day, so that what had been learned might be retained, and by the means of small lending libraries of books, a taste for reading be encouraged. One considerable item in the expenditure had been occasioned by the training school for workhouse teachers at Knellerhall; but there was every reason to believe that this institution would be attended with beneficial effects. Parliament and the public could not do too much in the way of raising the condition and honouring the position of the schoolmasters. There was no class of men whose employment was more useful to the community, and it was deeply painful to reflect what small salaries many of these persons received for the constant application of much ability, much learning, and much science, to the laborious work of education, so beneficial to all, yet so little appreciated. Now, he did not wish to enter upon any of the exclusive questions with regard to that education. He would only state that he believed the education given in the training schools in Dublin was of a very superior character, and he had been struck with the general attainments and correctness of memory of 608 those who had been educated there. He believed, likewise, that the small sums which were given to agricultural schools were of very great use, and it would be observed that it was proposed to increase that Vote to 14,000l. more than the Vote of 1849. On the Vote for Schools of Design, his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade would give any explanation that might be required. He would only say that there was a head school in London; but what he thought even of more importance was that there were several branches connected with that head school, which contained no less than 3,000 pupils. There had been considerable progress made by the pupils in these schools, and great anxiety had been evinced to obtain instruction in them. It was desirable that the drawings which were made at the head school of design should be distributed through the schools in the country, which he believed would be a great means of improving its taste, and of giving a correctness to it which was very desirable. Then there was a sum nearly the same as before for the University of London, and a sum of 15,000l, for the Museum of Practical Geology. This building had only been recently opened, but he did not doubt but great practical benefit would be derived from it. Any one who had visited it must have been pleased with its contents. It was calculated to be highly useful to this country; and when he considered how great were the mineral products of this kingdom, and the results of our mining operations—the value of the mineral produce of Great Britain and Ireland in the raw state being about 25,000,000l. annually—he thought that any information and instruction to be obtained from a museum of that description would prove exceedingly beneficial. There was another Vote connected with subjects of the same kind which was not included in the present estimate. It was for the means of publishing the modes of interpreting cuneiform inscriptions. The gentlemen engaged in this work were unable to go on with their publications and to complete them without the aid of Parliament; and he had therefore assured them that any moderate sum which might be necessary for so very important an object, he had no doubt the House of Commons would vote. The whole amount proposed to be voted this year was 435,920l., which, with the additional sums for the purposes he had just referred to, might probably be enhanced to 609 450,000l, He believed that there was no class of Votes which came before Parliament which were more useful to the public than these, and he knew that the Committee would be disposed to deal liberally with them. The Committee would find that the expenditure for Public Education in Great Britain had very much increased within the last twenty years. In 1833 it was only 20,000l. Now, it had got up to 150,000l., and the whole of these estimates had increased very greatly since that period. While it was necessary that they should vote sums of money for the Army and the Navy, yet it was far more gratifying to vote sums of this kind for the purpose of promoting those sciences and fostering those arts which tended to maintain internal and external peace.
§ MR. W. J. FOX
said, it seemed to him, on looking over the items of the Vote, that some further alteration must be made in the mode in which the grant was distributed. He found it was intended to expend 55,000l. this year in school buildings. He thought the time was come when the Committee should check their hands, and be less lavish with this branch of expenditure. School building had gone on much more rapidly than school teaching, and there was more than twice the room required for the number of scholars who attended—a result of the system of rivalry amongst the different sects. In 1849 there were 581 schools, in which stipends were allotted to teachers, and they were capable of accommodating 183,000 pupils, but only 76,000 attended. In the ten years from 1840 to 1850, there had been 2,606 schools assisted with building ground, at a cost of 454,410l. The capacity of these schools was sufficient to the accommodation of 549,493, whilst the average attendance was 196,000 children. That great overbuilding showed that, at least in that department, the liberality of the Committee should be checked, and means taken to fill the schools. There was, he thought, too much exclusiveness in the distribution of the grant, and more good would be done if they threw down some of the barriers which confined the liberality of the Committee of Privy Council. There were several classes of schools which were excluded from all participation in the funds of the State. First, there was growing up in London, as well as in the northern counties, a class of schools called secular schools, the children of which, although 610 only receiving secular instruction in the schools, were quite as religiously taught as those belonging to any other schools by their proper religious teachers at Sunday schools and otherwise. The success of these schools was very remarkable, and they were so popular amongst the operatives that they were self-supporting. The Rev. Mr. Mosely, the Government inspector, reported that these secular schools were superior to many of the schools which received part of the educational grant. Why should that class of schools, then, not participate in the funds of the State, in order to raise yet higher the standard of education which they exhibit, according to the very principle laid down by the noble Lord at the head of the Government that it was necessary to improve the quality rather than to increase the quantity of instruction given? Then, again, there was that other class of schools standing at the other extreme, which were found outside the line prescribed by the Committee on account of the controversy about trust-deeds, or because they were of too exclusively religious a character. He saw no reason why they should be shut out because the founder might lay down stringent rules as to clerical or episcopal authority in the management of the schools, or as to the creed or catechism to be taught in them. Let the founder be as exclusive as he pleased as to the religion of the school: so long as he trained up good citizens and useful and intelligent members of the community, his school, according to the measure in which it rendered service to the cause of education, ought to receive the favour and patronage of the dispensers of the grant. Another class of schools which did not receive any aid from the grant, was the ragged schools, where the element of religious discord did not stand in the way, and with regard to the children connected with which the State stood, in loco parentis. What these children wanted was moral and religious training—their wits were often found to be already well-sharpened, and as to intellect, they were often superior to the children of the labourer. Aiming, as the Ragged Schools did, at mitigating some of the worst and most loathsome evils of society, he thought they might be very fairly brought within the purview of the regulations of the Committee of Privy Council. Another class of schools excluded from the grants were schools connected with mechanics' institutes—school which, he believed, would 611 have a great effect upon the educational statistics of Lancashire, and others of the manufacturing counties. And, lastly, there were the schools belonging to the Jews of Whitechapel and other places, the managers of which actually applied for assistance from the grants, but were refused. These five classes of schools which he had named had all some kind and degree of merit, and ought to receive some share in the education funds voted by the State. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) said, there were already upwards of 6,000 pupil-teachers receiving stated sums annually, and there was also a large outlay on training institutions. He therefore put it to the noble Lord, whether there was not some danger of overstocking the mart of schoolmasters—of educating more young men in these normal institutions, where a large and liberal training was given, than were called for by the number of schools already existing, or likely to exist, under the present system? If, however, he might regard this as only a provisional arrangement, and as preparatory to some large plan of national instruction which was in prospective, he should rejoice at being enabled to view it as the harbinger of so desirable a consummation.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, with regard to the last observation of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, that he certainly, for himself, did look forward with hope to the ultimate establishment of a more extended system of National Education. To promote such a result, the Government had been endeavouring to do as much as lay in their power.
§ MR. EWART
said, that one most unfortunate circumstance connected with the education of the children of the poorer classes, was the early period at which they were withdrawn from school; and it would be well to consider how far they might supply the want of education to those, classes by the establishment of evening schools. As the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had properly alluded to workhouse teachers, he would observe that a most important feature in workhouse schools was the separation of the children from the contamination of the workhouse. He should be glad to find, in some future year, the noble Lord able to expand the system of education; and he expressed his gratification that the Educational Estimates had now assumed their proper position, and would be, he hoped, introduced to the Committee in an annual statement.
§ MR. W. MILES
had not had the good fortune to hear the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government; but, in consequence of the observations since addressed to the Committee, he felt it necessary to say that the question really was, how far preliminary education should go, and how it should be conducted—whether or not on Christian principles? The Government education system, as at present carried on, prevented no persons from taking advantage of it provided they were Christians. The Bible must be the foundation of that education, and yet he had heard from the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fox) that he preferred to give merely mundane erudition. Now, he (Mr. Miles) beseeched the House to insist that Christianity should be the basis of education which the Government might give. He lamented, as much as any man, that the children of the working classes could not be brought to attend school above the age of twelve years. The poverty of the parents, which rendered the earnings of these poor children of, perhaps, 3s. or 4s. a week, necessary to the support of the family, could only be deplored.
§ MR. HUME
was sorry that the hon. Member had interfered with the very harmonious discussion that had been going on. If the hon. Gentleman had considered more, he would have addressed himself to the subject with more calmness and coolness. What would he do in Hindostan with his notions of education? ["Oh!"] Yes; he could tell hon. Members that education was carried on there without the addition which the hon. Gentleman required as the exclusive basis of any system of education. He (Mr. Hume) approved of the increase of expenditure in this Vote, provided it was properly applied, and he thought that during the last few months great improvements had taken place in the application of the money. Nothing had pleased him more than the emulation which the system had produced. He had seen schools in which a miraculous change, he might almost say, had taken place. Great effect had been produced upon the parents. He had known a school of a village in which none of the parents of the children going to the school could read or write. But emulation had greatly extended, and was even reaching into poor villages where there were no wealthy residents to advance money for education. A large number of villages in this country were without the means of procuring those schools to which 613 these grants were made; but unless there was a school in every village, the population could not be brought up creditably. In some places there were more schools than were necessary; but he hoped that eventually all classes would unite in that harmony which he remembered used to exist. The Government must determine that no individual should be employed in the public service unless he could read and write. If that were made a rule, he believed it would excite a desire in the people to see their children educated, and it ought to be a rule in every department, from the labourers in the dockyards. He hoped the noble Lord at the head of the Government would be able to unite all parties in an attempt to provide every man with instruction that would be useful to him. Education was everywhere wanted. Juries, for example, were wanted even in the villages, and he had seen in them with much sorrow instances of ten out of twelve jurymen not being able to read or write.
§ SIR JOHN TYRELL
begged to ask the noble Lord to explain upon what principle it was that so small a sum as 150,000l. was granted for the purposes of education in Great Britain, the population of which was 20,000,000, and so large a sum as 134,560l. was granted for education in Ireland, where the population was only 6,500,000; and when it was known that not above half of that population availed themselves of the education so offered. It would be worth the consideration of the noble Lord whether he could not apportion the grant to the number of persons who were to receive education.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had that night, for the first time, announced that he now hoped to establish a system of national education. That had certainly followed upon a rather extraordinary statement by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fox); because that hon. Gentleman had said he felt great apprehensions concerning the number of pupil-teachers who were likely to be turned out highly educated persons, and who were not likely to be absorbed in the existing means of employment. The hon. Gentleman said he looked forward with much apprehension at the prospect of such a number of highly-educated persons being without adequate employment. After hearing that, and afterwards the statement of the noble Lord, that he was about to introduce a system of national education, 614 the Committee ought to hear upon what foundation of principle those persons thus turned upon the county were to be guarded so as to be safe members of society. For his own part, he (Mr. Henley) could not regard with alarm, provided a proper religious foundation were laid, any amount of education. He had been astonished to hear the hon. Gentleman say that these persons would not be absorbed by the means of employment; for, in that case, he must have a poor opinion of the result of moral and intellectual education alone. He repeated that he, for one, looked with no alarm upon any amount of Christian education; for whatever schemes came from the hands of any persons, he they of the Government or not, he felt assured that the people of this country would not consent to have any system of national education that was not based upon religion. An hon. Gentleman had expressed the hope that so much of the grant as had hitherto been given for school houses would henceforth be restricted. He deemed such a course to be most unfair and unjust on account of that circumstance which was so strongly noticed by the noble Lord when he observed that children in this poor station of life were obliged to be taken out of school at so early an age that they could not receive education of high quality. It was known that that obligation arose from the necessities of the parents; for when men were earning only 7s. or 8s. a week, even the little their children could earn was something towards the aggregate support of the whole family. Under these circumstances, it was certainly not to be expected that a very high quality of education could be obtained by these poor children; but money was not grudged to give another portion of the community as high an education as could be afforded, and the whole of this part of the grants was given for the education of persons who would not be calculated for teachers in poor and remote rural districts, because they could not afford to pay them. From that part of the grant they would derive little benefit, and he, therefore, thought it was unfair and unjust that the other part of the grant should be curtailed, which was the only part the rural districts were able to enjoy. If the Committee wished to increase education, they must not neglect the rural districts, and in the annual accounts they ought to show how the actual sum expended during the preceding year had been disbursed, fie wished every facility to be 615 given to the education of every religious denomination.
§ MR. W. J. FOX
said, the hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had totally misunderstood his apprehension as to the number of persons trained to discharge the duties of schoolmasters. He anticipated none of the evils which the hon. Member seemed to suppose; but he did not think that to give men a very high education, and then place them in a situation in which they were paid lower than the most common menials that were employed in domestic service, was a benevolent act. It was not a benevolent thing to condemn men to a position in which their attainments and their circumstances had not a fair degree of correspondence. In fact, it inflicted an injury upon them, as it served, in the natural course of things, however religious their education might have been, to sour their tempers and disturb the balance of their minds. He did not speak hypothetically, because he had a personal knowledge of the fact, that this was the effect produced on the teachers of the national schools. He repudiated the selfish motives attributed to him by the hon. Member, as to preventing the spread of education amongst the agricultural classes, and obtaining as much money as he could on behalf of the manufacturing towns. He heard the noble Lord's (Lord John Russell's) statement with great pleasure, though he did not interpret it as a promise to adopt the secular system of education.
said, he expected great good to result from the establishment of district schools by the Poor Law Unions; and he wished the noble Lord at the head of the Government to consider whether some aid might not be given to such Unions as were disposed to build these schools.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
concurred in the general views expressed by the hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), and begged to congratulate the Committee, that the educational vote upon English education had always been discussed by all men of all classes in that House with a sincere intention of meeting the difficulties of the case, and extending education as much as possible. With regard to the division between the Committee of Privy Council and the National Society, it did appear to him that, as a matter of individual choice, were he engaged in founding a school, he should not choose that particular form to which the Privy Council objected; but it was more than doubtful whe- 616 ther the constitution of such a school was likely to have so fatal an operation that it ought to be visited with total exclusion from the benefits of the educational grant. Looking to this matter in a practical view, if one-sixth or one-seventh of these schools were excluded because they adhered to these conditions, then, although he regretted their exclusion, he also regretted the rigid adherence to that view of the case which so excluded them. He entertained a sanguine hope that means would be found before the House again met to discuss the subject for the removal of so serious a mischief. This was all he had to say on the general question. He wished, however, to allude to a particular rumour which was abroad, injurious to the Committee of Privy Council, because it imputed to them a course of conduct which, if true, was most unreasonable. He bogged to say, that he, for one, did not believe it; but the statement was made public on an occasion no less serious than the annual meeting of the National Society; and he thought the noble Lord at the head of the Government would be of opinion that he (Mr. Gladstone) was only doing his duty in making the rumour known to the Committee, so that if it had no foundation, a contradiction might at once be given to it by the Government, or an explanation offered that would completely alter its character. The rumour he alluded to was this:—In the case of a particular school, which he had never heard named, the founders proposed to provide by deed (the school being directly connected with the Church of England) that the schoolmaster and schoolmistress should be communicants of the Church of England; and it was said, that upon this account the founders of the school had been excluded by the Committee of Council from participation in the public grant. Now, for his own part, he could not conceive that a more reasonable provision could be inserted in the deed of a Church of England school.
§ MR. SLANEY
said, that a great improvement had taken place in the schools of many rural districts by the introduction of a system of oral instruction by means of pupil-teachers, by which system twice as much real instruction was given in three years as was given in six years by the rote system which formerly prevailed. He begged also to bear testimony to the value of the industrial instruction which was given in the Watt Institution, in the county with which he was connected.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
wished to say a few words in consequence of an observation which had fallen from the hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley). The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fox) having expressed a hope that the Government had not abandoned all idea of a national system of education, he (Lord John Russell) said, in reply, that the Government still kept that object in view; upon which the hon. Member for Oxfordshire concluded that the scheme which he (Lord John Russell) contemplated was the scheme of the hon. Member for Oldham. Now, there was certainly nothing in what he had said that could at all justify such an inference. When the scheme of the hon. Member for Oldham was before the House, he stated his objections to it. His own opinion was, that there were two essential requisites to any plan of national education that was proposed to that House. The one was, that secular instruction should not be separated from religious instruction; and the other was, that no child educated at the public expense should he compelled to attend any religious instruction to which its parents conscientiously objected. He considered that both those conditions were essential requisites; and the difficulty would be, to reconcile them in any plan to be adopted. The hon. Member for Oxfordshire had also made some remarks with respect to the conditions which were laid down by the Committee of Privy Council; and he was followed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone). He (Lord John Russell) did not wish to enter again into that question. He would only say, that the Committee of Education had carried on all their correspondence with the National Society, with the view, if possible, to come to some agreement upon the point at issue between them. The Committee of Privy Council had always insisted that there should be lay members on the committee of management in those schools; and when the National Society said they thought that those lay members ought to be communicants in the Church of England, the Committee of Privy Council readily agreed to that proposal. There did remain one point of difficulty, and one only, and that was with respect to secular education. The Committee of 618 Privy Council were not prepared to afford aid in those cases where secular instruction should be entirely placed at the disposal or under the direction of clerical persons only. They were of opinion that where a clergyman, differing from the lay members of the committee, should appeal to the bishop, and the bishop should go with him against the lay members, that that decision should not be allowed to govern the conduct of the school. It appeared to them to be an unreasonable condition, and one that might lead to injurious consequences if much adopted. He did not deny that it was from a jealousy which the other Members of Council probably did not entertain, but which he himself entertained, of too great an increase of clerical power, whether in their Establishment or among ministers of other denominations, that he, for one, objected to the proposal. But, however, he could not say that the practical effect had been such as either to deprive the Committee of Privy Council of the confidence of the great body of the clergy, or to deprive the schools connected with the National Society of the aid of the public grants, because he found that the schools in connexion with the Church of England had received 78 per cent, almost 79 per cent, of the whole sum granted for education; while the British and Foreign Society's schools received only 9 per cent, the Wesleyan schools 1½ per cent, and the Roman Catholic school ¼ per cent of the whole sum. Now, if that was the case, it was quite evident that the schools connected with the Church of England now, had a large portion of the grant. It had besides appeared lately from some pains which had been taken to ascertain the fact, that great confidence was felt by the general body of the clergy in the Committee of Privy Council, and the application of the grants. Another symptom of the same fact was found in the recent meeting of the National Society, when the proposal to break off altogether from the Committee of Privy Council was evidently rejected by the general sense of the meeting. With respect to the question which had been asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, he begged to say that he was not present at the meeting of the Committee of Privy Council when a decision was come to upon the case to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred; but it did appear that this was a school with respect to which it was proposed that the master and mistress should 619 be communicants in the Church of England. Now, in the terms of union which the National Society had issued for the purpose of being subscribed by parties desirous of uniting the schools with the National Society, it was stated, in the fourth clause, that the masters and mistresses should be members of the Church of England; and when this question came before the Committee of Privy Council, his noble Friend the President of Council said it would be better to keep to the terms which the National Society had themselves laid down, namely, that the master and mistress should be members of the Church of England. There was no other objection to the stipulation of their being communicants except that it differed from the terms which the National Society themselves had laid down.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, that if the case stood as the noble Lord had stated it, he did hope that the Committee of Privy Council would reconsider their decision upon this plain ground, that they had altogether misconceived the terms of union of the National Society. What the National Society said by the fourth clause, to which the noble Lord had referred, was, that they would have nothing to do with a master or mistress unless they were members of the Church of England; but they nowhere said they would have nothing to do with them provided they were communicants. The clause contained merely the minimum of their demand, not the maximum.
§ Vote agreed to; as were also the following Votes:—
§ (5.) 134,560l., Public Education, Ireland.
§ (6.) 15,055l., Schools of Design.
§ (7.) 2,006l., Professors, Oxford and Cambridge.
§ (8.) 3,920l., University of London.
§ (9.) 7,610l., Universities, &c. in Scotland.
§ (10.) 300l., Royal Irish Academy.
§ (11.) 300l., Royal Hibernian Academy.
§ (12.) 6,260l., Royal Dublin Society.
§ (13.) 3,000l., Theological Professors at Belfast, &c.
§ (14.) 1,620l., Queen's University in Ireland.
§ (15.) 1,700l., National Gallery.
§ (16.) 15,623l., Museum of Practical Geology, and Geological Survey.
§ (17.) 2,421l., Scientific Works and Experiments.620
§ (18.) 10,000l., Galleries of Art, Edinburgh.
§ House resumed; Resolutions to be reported on Monday next.
§ The House adjourned at One o'clock.