HC Deb 21 June 1852 vol 122 cc1087-115

On the Motion that the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, as amended, be considered.


said: It has been usual, when the votes before the House in Committee of Supply are taken, for the Government to give explanations with respect to the Vote for Education; and my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart) has more than once called on the Government to explain to the House what has been the progress of education, and the nature of the Votes connected with education. My right hon. Friend the Member for Northumberland (Sir G. Grey), when he held the office of Secretary of State for the Home Department, made that statement to the House; and last year, during his absence in consequence of indisposition, I stated to the House the sum required, the application intended to be made of it, and the general progress of education during the year.

I understand that in the present year the Vote has been taken without any par- ticular explanation having been given; and this circumstance is the more remarkable as a Minute has been issued relative to many very considerable and important alterations on the subject of what are called the management clauses. When I took the opportunity, a few days ago, of calling the attention of the House to the alteration made in those clauses, the Minute had not then been placed upon the table of the House, and I stated that I thought it would have been better, considering the importance of this subject, if the Government had taken further time to deliberate, and had not, after such deliberation, proposed till next year any change. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer then stated that there was no intention on the part of the Government to act otherwise than according to the ordinary course on such occasions; he quoted several precedents to show that Minutes had been agreed upon which were not laid immediately upon the table of the House; and he declared that nothing at all unfair or dishonourable was intended towards the House. Now, Sir, I am quite willing to leave that part of the question as it stands; I don't wish to revive that part of it. The right hon. Gentleman stated what I have said, that I accept his declaration that he did not intend to act with any degree of concealment towards this House in preparing the Minute upon the subject of this change.

But, Sir, the subject is of so much importance that I think it is desirable the attention of the House should be turned to it before the Session ends. In calling the attention of the House to it, it is necessary that I should refer for some time both to the general proceedings which have taken place upon this subject of Votes for Education, and likewise to the particular subject of the management clauses, with regard to which the alteration has been made. The House will recollect that after some 20,000l. or 30,000l. had been voted for several years, from 1832 to 1839, for the purpose of aiding education by giving assistance to the National and the British and Foreign School Societies, it was proposed in 1839 to make the members of the Privy Council a Committee who should undertake the application of any grants which should be made by Parliament, and should divide those grants, under the superintendence and supervision of Parliament, in such a manner as might tend to promote the education of the people generally. The proposal, when made, excited a good deal of jealousy and hostility, both throughout the country and in Parliament, and the present Prime Minister brought forward the subject in this House, not supporting those who then formed the Government, but imputing to them every kind of dishonourable motive for introducing that change with regard to education. The Motion which he proposed, altogether refusing any power to the Crown to appoint a Committee of Council on Education, was rejected only by a majority of five, and the vote afterwards proposed by the Government was carried only by a majority of two. However, the matter was placed in the hands of the Committee of Council, presided over by the Marquess of Lansdowne, and I have the satisfaction of stating that, notwithstanding the jealousy and hostility which were raised to the measure, and notwithstanding the obloquy to which the Government of that day were subjected, not only then but for several years afterwards, as to their propositions, that hostility and that jealousy have been greatly allayed, and by general consent great improvements have been made in popular education in consequence of the appointment of that Committee of Council. That result is, in a great degree, to be attributed to the judgment, to the temper, the discretion, the resolution, and the forbearance which were shown by the Marquess of Lansdowne in all his acts and in all his correspondence with respect to this important subject. He took it up with great zeal, with great determination to further the object contemplated, but at the same time he listened most attentively to all the objections which might be made by the various parties interested, both by the Established Church, by those who represented the British and Foreign School Society, and by various other bodies representing those who dissent from the Established Church. After a very long series of conferences with the late Archbishop of Canterbury, arrangements were made (of which I am not able to state the exact date), by which inspectors should be appointed, and by which those inspectors should visit the schools in connexion with the National Society.

In 1831 Sir Robert Peel succeeded to office, and immediately—although he was one of those who had felt the objections to the original appointment most strongly—yet, seeing by its means the progress of education was in a fair train to be success- ful, he reappointed the Committee of Council on Education, and placed at the head of it the late Lord Wharncliffe. I am sure I can say that no person who has filled the place of the Marquess of Lansdowne did so with greater ability, with greater judgment, or with a greater spirit of fairness to all parties, than did Lord Wharncliffe. Accordingly, the British and Foreign School Society received grants on terms not dissimilar to those which were already settled for the Church of England, and the progress generally made in education throughout the country was still satisfactory. In 1846 other Minutes of the Council were agreed to, by which the plan of education was, as I believe, greatly improved—by which certain gratuities were to be given to the teachers, by which pensions were to be allowed for deserving schoolmasters disabled by age or infirmity from pursuing their avocations, and by which the most meritorious of the scholars might become pupil teachers, and supply in a more beneficial way than had hitherto been the case the place of the monitors employed to assist the schoolmasters.

In 1847 the Marquess of Lansdowne, in a Minute issued in the beginning of the month of February, stated the arrangements which had been made, and called the attention of the House most pointedly to that subject. Like the change made in 1839, however, very great opposition was made to the change which was carried out at that time. That opposition was made, however, principally by the upholders of the system of voluntary education, but it was overcome in this House, and since that time I may say that the progress of education has been undeniable, and even those by whom objections were then raised, have acknowledged that very great advantages have accrued by the course adopted.

With respect to the money grants, they have advanced from 20,000l. a year to 150,000l. a year during that period; and with respect to the arrangements made, I think the Church of England have had no grievance to complain of as to their share in these grants, for 78 per cent of the sum voted was granted to schools in immediate connexion with the National Society, or with the Church of England. Arrangements for inspection were made in such a manner that no inspectors should be appointed to Church schools without the consent of the archbishop, and the inspector might he removed upon the decision of the archbishop of the province. Arrange- ments were also made that the reports of these inspectors should he sent to the bishop of the diocese, and there were likewise arrangements that if on any subject relating to religion there was a difference between the committee that should be appointed to manage the school and the rector or curate, or the clergyman who had the general superintendence of religious education, that that question should he referred to the decision of the bishop, and that the bishop's decision should be final. I think, therefore, that the Church of England has no reason to complain of the arrangement which has been made. On the other hand, it was very satisfactory to find that there was not, on the part of the Dissenting bodies, any complaint that the Church of England had this very large proportion of 78 per cent of the grant.

But, while it was allowed that the inspectors of Church schools should be appointed only with the consent of the archbishop, and while every security was taken that the religious instruction in those schools should be under the direction of the minister of the church, and of the bishop of the diocese, those who in the Committee of Council deliberated on this subject made with respect to one question a condition which they considered essential to the working of the system. A question had arisen at the time when Lord Wharncliffe was President of the Council in various cases with respect to local committees of management. It had been found, according to the former system, when a grant was distributed by the Treasury, that, after the money had been spent, the arrangements were frequently put an end to, and the school discontinued, and so the whole cost incurred was incurred for no purpose. It was suggested by the Committee of Council that permanent arrangements should be made by which the committee of management should be permanently established. This committee was to be duly formed according to the population of the place in which the school is situated—in some places it was to consist of a certain number of laymen, in others of a less number, and in some, where it was impossible to find a committee of laymen sufficient to fulfil the duties, the management was left in the hands of the clergyman of the parish. But it was decided that there should he no absolute power in the hands of the clergyman of the parish; and Mr., now Sir Kay Shuttleworth, in one of his letters, says— On these grounds, their Lordships must finally declare that they cannot consent to permit the permanent constitution of the school, in so important a matter as the establishment of an appeal to the bishop of the diocese in matters not relating to religious instruction, to be determined by the local subscribers to schools, to the establishment and support of which it is now provided that the State should so largely contribute. That was the decision made by the Committee of Privy Council. I do not wish to enter now into any discussion with respect to the wisdom of that decision, but it certainly appeared to us to be founded on fair and impartial principles. There has been, however, from that time a great desire on the part of a certain portion of the clergy to overturn that part of the arrangement, and to obtain complete power over the secular instruction of the schools. That this portion of the clergy was not a very large one, appears, I think, from a statement which was produced, I believe, in consequence of a Motion made by a right hon. Gentleman whom I see opposite, the President of the Board of Trade. By this document it appears that there had been, I think, about 370 schools which had applied for grants in connexion with the National Society, where the grant had not been finally made, and I think upwards of eighty in connexion with the Church of England Schools, and out of the 370 there were but eight to which the grant had been refused, on the ground that they objected to the management clauses; and with regard to the Church of England schools not connected with the National Society, there were but two to which the objection was made. It was obvious, therefore, that it was not a very large proportion of the Church which asked for this power to be given into the hands of the clergy. At the same time, although it was not a very numerous body, the activity shown by them on this subject was exceedingly great.

At one time it was recommended by this party that there should be an agreement between the schoolmaster and the clergyman that upon receiving notice from the clergyman the schoolmaster should, in the course of a week from the period of notice, give up his situation. That would, of course, have placed the whole management in the hands of the clergy; but that course was not, I believe, finally recommended by the National Society itself. At other times various clergymen have proposed alterations in the clauses of management, to some of which there certainly was no conclusive objection, but they were at variance with the general arrangements made with respect to the management of the schools. In this condition the matter remained. Archdeacon Denison had, I believe, proposed some alterations at the meeting of the National Society, but his proposal, whatever it might be, was rejected, and the Committee of Council and the National Society remained on the same amicable terms as before.

Well, Sir, things were in this condition, much good having been effected, and agreements having been made with the various bodies who were conducting education in this country, and who each had separate reasons of distrust, or a wish to carry particular measures of their own; but all these difficulties had been generally overcome when the noble Lord at present at the head of the Government came into office. I own it appears to me that it would have been wise, considering the difficulties there would be in the first introduction of this alteration—considering that, altogether, both the Established Church and the various Dissenting bodies seemed to be satisfied with what had been done—it appears to me that it would have been wise, inasmuch as the Ministry did not profess to bring forward any but measures of urgency, to have left this question so far untouched as only to carry on the ordinary business, to entertain the applications made by the different schools, and not to have altered the general rules.

However, such was not the view taken by the present Government. They appointed a Committee of Education of the Privy Council, who were, I suppose, composed of the responsible Ministers of the Crown. I do not know that there has been any formal document stating the names of that Committee. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: The names were published in the London Gazette.] They were, I suppose, published in the London Gazette, but the Government have not in any document laid before this House given the names of the Committee of Education. But without finding fault with those appointments, and without precisely recollecting who were the members of that Committee, it appears that they came to a very important resolution on the 12th of June. I have stated that up to the present moment, if there is any difference between the local committee conducting the school and the clergyman with respect to religious instruction, there is then an appeal to the bishop of the diocese, and that he has the sole power of determining and deciding that difference, and, if necessary, the schoolmaster must yield to that decision, and abandon his situation. But, if there is a difference between the clergyman and the committee upon any other subject than religion, then in that case it was provided, after a great deal of communication and correspondence with the parties, that the Lord President of the Council should name one of the inspectors of schools, that the bishop of the diocese should name a clergyman, and that, if the two should not agree, then that a magistrate of the county should be chosen by them—[Sir JAMES GRAHAM: Who must be a layman]—and that by these three the question should be decided. Now, seeing that the Lord President was restricted in his choice to an inspector of the Church of England schools, and that those inspectors were in almost every case clergymen, and must be first approved of by the archbishop—that the bishop, in his turn, named a clergyman, and that thus two out of three arbitrators were clergymen of the Established Church, it appeared to us that there was no ground for apprehension that cases of this kind would be decided with any unfair bias as against the Church by the clergymen appointed.

But it appeared to the present Committee of Education that this was not security enough, and they have inserted a clause which enable teachers to be dismissed on other grounds. It was said in a former Minute that in the event of any difference respecting the "dismissal of any teacher on account of his or her defective or unsound instruction of the children in religion," an appeal should lie to the bishop, whose decision should be final. But the Committee of Education, in the altered Minute, have inserted the words, "or on other moral or religious grounds." Now, it is quite clear that this alteration places the schoolmaster in entire dependence upon the bishop. There can be no doubt as to that, because it depends upon the view which the clergyman takes of what may be "moral grounds," whether he may think proper to continue the schoolmaster in the charge of the school. It is impossible not. to see that these words include every possible objection that can he taken against a schoolmaster. It will be impossible for the schoolmaster to satisfy the clergyman who may wish to remove him. There arc different parties in the Church whose views are exceedingly different with respect to the moral conduct of the schoolmaster. One clergyman may object that he is too lax, and that he gives too much recreation to his children, while another may think that he is too puritanical and strict. There is no ground of objection that can be taken to a schoolmaster that may not be said to be a moral ground, and therefore the schoolmaster must at once, under this alteration in the Minute, feel himself dependent on the clergyman.

I have before stated in this House that it is in my opinion most reasonable that the status of the schoolmaster should be raised, that he should have a competent salary, and that his social rank as an instructor of youth should be recognised and elevated in the view of this House and of the country. Now, the consequence of this altered Minute is to degrade and lower the condition of every schoolmaster; and I was not surprised that some gentlemen called upon me this morning to represent the effect of this Minute. They said there had been a meeting of Masters of Charity Schools, that it was not attended by many, for that not more than thirty teachers in these schools had been collected; but that they had no doubt, if a meeting had been advertised, there would have been a large meeting of schoolmasters of Church of England schools, because they all felt that their situation was changed, and that any opinion on the part of the clergyman to his disadvantage would at once deprive the schoolmaster of his situation, and that he would no longer have the opportunity of earning his bread and maintaining his position. There is, it is true, an appeal to the bishop; but there could be no doubt that the bishop would not, in the majority of cases, go through the particulars of the complaint, but that he would be disposed to take it as he heard it from the clergyman, and that in nineteen cases out of every twenty he would decide the complaint in accordance with the previous judgment of the clergyman. That is the first objection I have to this Minute. The next objection is, that its effect is evidently to weaken the influence of the lay members of the local committee. It appears to me to be of the utmost importance to have a body of lay members to manage these schools, and that you should induce them to take a part in their management, to watch the conduct of the schoolmaster, and to promote the well-being of the school. I am fully aware how much attention the parochial clergy- men have devoted to these schools, and that they have, both by giving their money and their time to an inquiry as to the best mode of education in their respective parishes, very much facilitated the cause of education. Yet I think it will be much better for the clergyman himself that the lay members of the school committee should likewise take a very great interest in the school. But if they can be told by the clergyman that upon "moral grounds" the schoolmaster in whom they have confidence, whose conduct of his school they approve of, is to be dismissed, this cannot fail to diminish their motives to exertion, and seriously to weaken their zeal, and the lay members will, in consequence, be disposed to leave the school altogether in the hands of the clergyman. I think, with regard to the clergyman himself, it is of no small importance that the laity of the Church should co-operate with him in works of this kind.

Sir, the Church of England has its elements of strength, and it has also its elements of danger. I am of opinion that its elements of strength are very much greater than its elements of danger. Its elements of strength are, when it carries with it the co-operation, the confidence, and the affection of the lay members of the Church; and its element of danger is, the being separated from the laity of the Church, seeking other means of gaining power and authority, and not resting its power and influence upon that general concurrence of sentiment on the part of the laity that has hitherto proved its best strength. The effect of the alteration in the Minute is, in my opinion, to diminish the strength and increase the danger of the Church. Its effect is to diminish the natural disposition of the clergy and the laity to act together, and to induce the clergyman, by the mere exercise of his authority and will, to direct the education of the people of this country. I think this alteration in the Minute very objectionable on these grounds. But I do not think it will be very pernicious for some time to come. I have heard it said that in six or seven years, by the force of this Minute, the laity will be excluded entirely from the management of these schools. I doubt whether so great an effect will be produced. But it is a beginning on the part of a Government which has newly come to power—which owns itself not strong as regards the present Parliament, who acknowledged that their position die- tated this Session measures which were humble and useful, but who have begun with a measure of education which has neither humility, utility, nor advantage for its characteristic. But if this is the case now, what will the Government do when they have greater confidence and greater power—if the people of this country should give them greater power to proceed further to an alteration of the Minutes of the Privy Council? Why, Sir, the consequence would be nothing less than this, that a series of Minutes will be introduced totally destroying the system of popular education as it now exists, placing it upon another basis, and thereby endangering the whole system of education as it has been approved of by Parliament and by the country. Having been the person who recommended this system to Parliament, and who in office watched the greater part of its operations, I cannot but express my apprehension at this beginning of changes commenced by the Government in the shape of an alteration of the Minutes of the Council of Education.

And, Sir, let me, before I conclude my observations, place before the House what has been the consequence of this step. As I have said, there was no danger to be apprehended, no inconvenience, if the Government had gone on listening to particular applications, but had not during the present year changed the general rules by which these grants were to be applied. But no sooner was it announced, and announced from a most important quarter—announced by the voice of Archdeacon Denison at the National Society—that the Government had given way on this subject, and that the society would have to yield to a greater authority, namely, the authority of the Government, in this particular—no sooner was that stated, and stated by Archbishop Denison, I must say on full and sufficient grounds, than a general alarm took place amongst all who had been the society's supporters. It was stated by some that the Charter of the I National Education Society had been altered; that it did not at present give the subscribers powers enough in the election of its functionaries and its Committee; that the Committee was unfairly constituted, and that there must be some alteration in its elements; that an appeal must be made to the Crown not to issue the Queen's Letter, and that, if it were issued, those who distrusted the present operations of the society must refrain from contributing to its funds. I do not desire to say whether these parties were right, I only say that this distrust and dissension and division, if it were not caused, was aggravated by the appearance of this Minute. It is said on the other hand, in the first place, that after all it is hut an alternative to the local school committees to choose in what form their own subscriptions shall be given, and under what management they wish their schools to be conducted. If so, there would be great force in such an argument; but that is not precisely the case. Take the case of the promoters of a school who, with the assistance of the public funds, intend to maintain it. By means of this permanent trust-deed, or deed of settlement, they have the power I have described as being given by this Minute, and that permanent trust-deed will affect all subscribers to the school hereafter. It may happen that, in the course of five or ten years, the great body of the subscribers to the school may not wish this management clause to be enforced. But this trust becomes a permanent trust, and the subscribers to the school in all time hereafter have no power to alter it. It is not a ease where the local subscribers have year after year the power to alter the arrangements, but the promoters of the school at the present moment will have the power of deciding in what manner the school in all future time shall be carried on.

Another observation has also been made. It has boon said that the late Government, with regard to the Roman Catholic schools, made a similar provision. But with regard to that Minute upon the Roman Catholic schools, what was conceded to the founders of these schools was, that the bishop and priests of the Roman Catholic Church should conduct the religious instruction of these schools, and decide for themselves what it should be. That is a difference between the Roman Catholic schools and those of the Established Church. But the principles of the Roman Catholic Church are very different from those of the Established Church of these realms. Into the nature of the constitution of the Roman Catholic Church I will not now enter; but the Established Church consists, not of the clergy alone, but of the clergy and laity. Now, this is the point which I think it most desirable to keep in view, and which I think the people of this country will keep in view. So long as the Church exists they will think that the Church of England consists of the clergy and laity, and that with regard to all these questions of education the clergy and the laity together should decide.

I have now, Sir, stated my views, hut this is not a question as between one party and another in this House. I believe that many hon. Members who sit upon the opposite benches think with me with regard to the principles which I now support. I believe they think with me, that the strength of the Church of England docs consist in its having the support of the laity as well as of the clergy, and in securing the general affection of the people. But if that is the case, I say that the Government of this country ought to be most careful in making any alteration in the mode in which these grants have been distributed, or in suffering the impression to go forth that hereafter the schoolmaster in all Church of England schools is to depend upon the will of the minister of the parish and the bishop, without any interference on the part of the laity. I understand that the Earl of Derby has given an assurance that the grants shall not be distributed according to this altered Minute until some fresh grant from Parliament shall be made. That, so far, is a security for the present. I hope that in the interval the matter will he considered by the Government and by the people of this country, and that they will see how important it is not to disturb a system which has been working harmoniously, and which is working great good, and that they will rather maintain those principles than seek to overturn them.


Sir, this question is of so much importance that, notwithstanding the close of the Session, and notwithstanding the amount of business that has weighed down hon. Members during the last three weeks, I am glad the noble Lord the Member for the City of London has brought it forward, and given us the opportunity of removing those illusions which have prevailed respecting this Minute. Some of those illusions have even prevailed in the noble Lord's own mind; for I do not think the noble Lord has fully understood the nature and effect of the alterations which have been made. One thing, however, is now clear, and that is, that the noble Lord no longer finds fault with us for not changing this Minute without previously coming to Parliament and stating that it was to be made before the Vote upon Education was taken. Indeed, the last words of the noble Lord acquit the Government of any intention to apply the grant to any other purpose than that for which it was voted by Parliament, for he quoted the statement of my noble Friend at the head of the Government in another place that it was not his intention to apply any portion of the grant under this altered Minute until it was brought under the consideration of Parliament. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) draws attention to the change that has been made in the management clauses, or rather, I should say—for there is a fallacy in the expression—to a relaxation which in particular circumstances is hereafter to be allowed. Before I follow the noble Lord in considering this change in the management clauses, the House will allow me to go back to a more distant period, because the noble Lord has done so himself, and, by going back to that period, I think it will be clear that we are merely restoring the arrangement which Parliament sanctioned, which was always intended, and which, up to 1846, I think the Church, with the approbation of Parliament, had heretofore enjoyed. For several years, that is from 1836 the grant for education was 20,000l., and it was divided among the British and Foreign Schools, as the representatives of the Dissenters, and the National Schools, as the representatives of the Church of England. But this sum was given without any interference or control, except as to the audit of accounts and the number of schools, until 1839. At that time, however, many material alterations were suggested by the Government of which the noble Lord was a most conspicuous Member; one of which made a great stir and storm in Parliament and in the country, since it was ascertained that the Government intended to put the managers of these schools under the control, not of the voluntary societies, but of a Committee of the Privy Council. The storm was so great, that the intention of the Government was soon afterwards abandoned, and actually given up by the noble Lord himself. In consequence thereof an arrangement was made, or an understanding was come to between the Committee of Privy Council and the Church, and that arrangement or understanding was satisfactory to both. In using the word "Church," I, like the noble Lord, intend to include the laity as well as the clergy. But I must, in passing, express my surprise at hearing the noble Lord's declaration, that the Church of England was composed of clergy and laity, while the Church of Rome consisted of clergy alone.


I said I would not enter into the question of the constitution of the Church of Rome.


Then, notwithstanding the noble Lord's former observations, I presume we both agree, that as a matter of fact the English and Roman Churches, or any other Christian Churches, consist of laity as well as clergy. Well, then, the intentions of the Government having made this stir and storm in the Church to which I have adverted, an understanding was come to with the Committee of Privy Council and the then existing Government, that the Church of England schools should be subject to no further control than was necessary for the inspection and examination of the schools in relation to the application of the money granted by Parliament. In the Minutes of Council, and in the correspondence which subsequently took place, it was distinctly stated that no control should be exercised over the internal management or internal discipline of the schools. Thus matters continued from 1840 until 1846; that is to say, as long as the Conservative Government remained in power; and no complaint was urged against the manner in which the funds were applied during the whole of that period. During the whole of that period, too, the promoters of schools had the fullest and freest liberty of action to constitute schools in the way they thought proper. When, however, the noble Lord's Government came into power, in 1846, an entire change was effected. And how was this change brought about? Not openly—not by announcing it to Parliament. The change was intimated in private letters, and the persons thus addressed were told that this most important change had been unostentatiously effected. The change was no other than the introduction of the "management clauses," as they are called; and the adoption of these clauses was urged, nominally by way of recommendation or suggestion, but, in point of fact, they were imposed as an obligation on members of the Church; for the promoters of Church of England schools were plainly told that if they did not accept the clauses they should not obtain a shilling of the Parliamentary grant. Now, the members of the Church justly complained of this proceeding. The National Society, in all their correspondence with the Government, urged that they ought to have the selection of one out of the four clauses, or, at all events, that they were entitled to perfect freedom of action in the constitution of their schools. This is what was denied them by the clauses, contrary, I say, to the understanding come to in 1840, and if we have now restored it to them by this Minute, we have done only an act of justice, which will contribute, not, as the noble Lord supposes, to increase the differences prevailing in the Church, but to restore harmony. I have gone through the history of the management clauses for the purpose of enabling the House to understand the nature of the change, or, more correctly speaking, the relaxation now made in them by the present Government. The noble Lord objects to this relaxation on three grounds. First, because he alleges it degrades every schoolmaster; secondly, because it weakens the power of lay members of the Church; and, thirdly, because it separates the clergy from the laity in carrying on the work of education. It was the recollection of these extraordinary allegations which induced me to say that the noble Lord himself was under an illusion as to the effect of the relaxation made by the Government. We have not substituted now management clauses binding the promoters of Church schools. What we have done is simply this: We have said that promoters of Church schools shall have the option of adopting the relaxed rule if they choose to do so. That is the sum and substance, the beginning and the end, of that which has been clone. Is there anything unreasonable in this? I am at a loss to conceive on what ground even the noble Lord himself can object to it. The noble Lord, I believe, will never support anything inconsistent with the claim of the subjects of this country to enjoy perfect liberty and freedom of action; and surely in the matter of education, above all others, he will not contend that this liberty or freedom ought to be restrained, unless in the event he finds that the funds granted by Parliament have been applied to purposes detrimental to the public good. What, then, is the principle on which we proceed, the policy we propose, and the advantage we contemplate, in the relaxation we have made? The principle is a plain one. It is simply this—that the promoter of a school shall be at liberty to constitute it as he likes, and, having thus constituted it, shall he entitled to receive a portion of the public money in the same way as other persons, who have precisely the same freedom of action as himself. I agree with the noble Lord that schools which derive aid from the State ought to he under the supervision of the State to this extent—that the public money should not be applied to any purpose but that for which it was intended. If my own opinion were to be consulted with respect to these schools, I should wish the lay element to constitute a great part of the controlling power; but because that is my opinion I must not be so unjust as to deprive another person, who thinks he can constitute a school in a better way, from coming to Parliament and saying, "If you grant money for the purpose of carrying on the great work of education I am entitled to some portion of it, although my opinion as to the best mode of managing these schools may differ from yours." Should you not take this course, you would take away from many persons the inducement which exists to found schools. It is impossible to make all persons agree as to the manner in which schools should be conducted. Some may attach no great importance to the moral character of the teacher, provided they be satisfied that his doctrine was good; while others may, not unnaturally, desire that a teacher's conduct should be in harmony with his teaching. I maintain, then, that unless you destroy the freedom of action which every member of the Church is entitled to in the formation and endowment of schools, you cannot complain of our Minute of Council. Now as to the policy intended to be carried out by the relaxation of the clauses. It is that which, above all other considerations induces me to believe that the relaxation will be eminently beneficial to the country. I firmly believe, that instead of increasing the differences in the Church, it will materially diminish them. Why do I believe this? Ever since 1846 the National Society has been torn by dissensions, principally owing to the restrictions imposed on its members by the management clauses. At the meeting of the society in 1848 resolutions against the Government for still adhering to those clauses were carried by a large majority. In 1849 the same thing occurred. In 1850, I think there was a division in the early part of the year; but in the latter part of it the Marquess of Lansdowne announced in the House of Lords, in answer to the Earl of Harrowby, that he would not object to a Committee to inquire into the subject in the following Session. It was in consequence of this announcement that in the year 1851 there first began to be a cessation of agitation, because then, for the first time, the members of the Church, who had long been deprived of participation in the Parliamentary grant, thought it likely that justice would at length be done to them. Mark what happened this year—and in this you will find the reason for the Minute of Council having been issued on the 12th of June. The National Society met, and, for the first time for several years, it separated in perfect harmony. [A cry of "No!"] Well, it separated in considerable, if not in perfect harmony. Archdeacon Denison, representing one portion of the society, and a rev. Gentleman representing the other, united in cordial congratulations to each other on the manner in which the proceedings of the meeting had terminated. If this be so, it is very desirable indeed, as an act of policy, that you should give all the members of the Church the power of endowing their own schools in their own way, according to their own constitution; and it will be an act of gross injustice if you deny any portion of the public grant to such parties, merely because they take views, on some points, different from yours. The Minute of Council will promote peace, for the management clauses have been the watchword for dissension, their retention in a stringent form being hailed as a triumph by one party, and condemned as an injustice by another. I am of opinion with the noble Lord that the Church of England has her elements of weakness as well as of strength. Her weakness has unfortunately appeared too much of late years when "heavy blows and great discouragement" have been inflicted on her by the Government of the day. But the elements of strength will still remain to her as long as her members agree together to allow each other perfect freedom of action to manage the schools they formed in their own way, without any interference on the part of the Government further than that which is necessary to secure the proper distribution of the Government grants. That object will, I believe, be promoted by the Minute as it has been altered. All parties will now find themselves, for the first time, placed on a fair footing of equality, and henceforth we may anticipate that there will be no rivalry among them, except with the desire of excelling in promoting the common cause of education. Believing, therefore, that the relaxation announced by the Minute is wise in itself, that it is founded on principles of just policy, and that it will be attended with most beneficial consequen- ces by closing the differences which have heretofore existed, I feel confident that a greater boon could not have been conferred on the Church and on the country to which it belongs.


said, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the managers of schools only were to be consulted; but they, on that side, considered that it was not only the interests of the managers and founders, but those of the children and of the laity in general, which ought to be chiefly looked to, in order to see whether the schools would deserve the support of the country at large. By the present alteration the jurisdiction of the bishop would be greatly extended, for he was constituted sole judge on questions of 'great difficulty and of the utmost concern to those whose children were to be educated at the schools. The words "moral misconduct" appeared capable of very wide interpretation, so that any difference with regard to the management of the school, noncompliance with the rites of the Church, or holding particular opinions, though they might not interfere with the instruction given to the children, might be made the pretext of interfering with the management. If the clergyman of a parish, differing with the lay committee, appealed to the bishop, he had the power of immediately suspending the schoolmaster. He thought the alteration in the Minute altogether uncalled for, and considered that the faith of Parliament had been pledged to the maintenance of the clauses as they stood before the alteration. He hoped that the Church of England would continue to live in the affections of the people; but it would not do so by giving greater power to its clergy, but rather by enabling them and the laity to work harmoniously together.


Sir, I entirely agree with what has been said by previous speakers as to the immense importance of the subject of education and everything that belongs to it; and if it were not for the immense importance of that subject, I must confess I should be rather surprised at what I cannot but call the somewhat exaggerated terms in which the magnitude and importance of the question immediately before us have been spoken of. I was certainly surprised, after all I had heard of satisfaction on the one hand, and of alarm on the other, to find that the case is not unlike that with which we are all familiar, of the mountain and the mouse, when we come to compare the considerable fears of one side and the sanguine hopes of another, with the very small results as brought before us in the marginal notes of the paper now in our hands. There is, perhaps, a fault in the construction which I have put upon it, but I feel a difficulty with regard to some parts of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department. It appears to me that it is not possible to maintain the doctrine that unlimited freedom is to be given to the founders of schools as to what is to be taught in those schools. I presume it was not the intention of my right hon. Friend to assert that; but, at any rate, I dissent most distinctly and emphatically from the proposition. But what we have now to ask ourselves is not, whether the assertions made on the one hand are right, or whether we are to anticipate that in future a series of important changes are to be either rashly or surreptitiously introduced into these management clauses, hut whether the changes that have already been introduced are in themselves just and reasonable? Now, considering, as I do, their magnitude to he very secondary, I cannot deny that they appear to me to be far from unreasonable. The changes are two. In the first place, the supervision of the clergyman is to be extended to moral as well as religious grounds; and, in the second, the clergyman is to be endowed with a provisional power of suspension, pending the reference to the bishop in those cases in which reference to the bishop is made. Now the first of these changes includes "moral" as well as religious grounds. On this point the noble Lord the Member for the City of London said anything might be called a moral ground, and he adverted to the religious divisions of the Church as a reason to show that it was dangerous to give clergymen a power over the schoolmaster on moral grounds. Now, if the noble Lord had been against granting the clergyman power on religious grounds, I could very well understand why he said that what one clergyman takes to be religion another takes to be superstition, and that you might have persons dismissed on the ground of being superstitious; but I was not aware that the divisions of the Church extended to moral grounds; and then I think the noble Lord will recollect this when he says that anything may be called a moral ground, that the Minute does not give to clergymen the power to determine what is a moral and what is a religious ground. In the beginning of these controversies this question was raised: "You are going to give the power to dismiss on religious grounds, but who is to decide what is religious and what is not?" That question was answered in this way—that it must rest with the Committee of the Privy Council to lay down the limits within which the term was to apply. That applies to moral questions also, and therefore there is no ground to say that the decision of what is moral and what is not will be with the clergyman; for if grounds are held to be moral that are not moral, the remedy will lie with the Committee of the Privy Council. The discretion hitherto exercised as to the teaching of the schoolmaster, and to his teaching only, you have now extended to the moral conduct of the schoolmaster, and I do not think that an unreasonable extension. And I must say I am a good deal alarmed and apprehensive lest cases may occur where the schoolmaster may be perfectly orthodox and correct on the dry abstract matter of his teaching, and yet his life be in scandalous contradiction to that teaching. That is a possible case, and surely it is one over which the clergymen ought to have control. I entirely concur with the noble Lord in his observation, that nothing is so important as to introduce a great deal of lay agency, both as regards schools and ecclesiastical concerns; but in schools it is particularly necessary. This agency it is not difficult to find in large and populous parishes; but you must remember that you have not only to provide for the case of large parishes, where you may have intelligent men, who are thoroughly versed in all these matters, and well able to control the master, but you have to provide for the case of thousands of small and remote country parishes, where there are perhaps, in addition to the clergyman, not more than three or four men above the class of labourers. You cannot compel them to institute a committee in these cases, though I think it is exceedingly desirable, wherever you can, that a committee should be formed. But under the regulations, as they now stand, you will be able to have a committee constituted where, but for those regulations, you could not have had one, and where the practice is likely to work safely. I really must say, that where numbers are limited and information small, it would not always be safe to leave these matters in the hands of a committee. The standard of morality is very various in those clauses, and therefore it would not be safe to make the dismissal of a schoolmaster on grounds of morality depend on the majority of a committee in such places. As to the temporary power of suspension, I am ready to admit that that is a power that may be abused by a clergyman, and I feel the force of what has been said as to the importance of elevating the character of the schoolmaster by giving security to his position. But when you speak of security to the position and elevation of the character of a schoolmaster, you must do a great deal more than you can possibly effect by the Minute3 of the Privy Council. It appears to me that these Minutes can be regarded as only experimental and provisional. I differ from the hon. Gentleman who last spoke in the idea that the honour of Parliament is pledged to these Minutes. To which of them? Why, there has not been a year in which there has not been some alteration of these Minutes. A very wise and judicious alteration was made by the noble Lord's (Lord J. Russell's) own Government when they introduced Clause D, by way of provision for committees of communicants. I think we are by these Minutes feeling our way gradually to the details of our system; and when what is developed and matured, and tested by experience, shall come before Parliament in all their details and particulars, that will be the time when we may hope to give security to the position and elevation to the character of the schoolmaster. If you wish to have a high class of schoolmasters, these men should not he subject to be dismissed at the dictum of any individual. Therefore, I do not think it is enough to say that the situation of the schoolmaster is not sufficiently secure under these Minutes. I agree with the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) that they ought to have security, but they cannot have that so long as they are dependent upon the Minutes of the Privy Council, which are alterable from time to time—which are subject to the discretion of other parties—and which cannot lay down everything that is applicable to all schools. Therefore it is not enough to say that by the operation of these Minutes the position of the schoolmaster is not secure. I grant it; but while we are in this experimental state we must look to the subject as a whole—we cannot provide for every possible case that may arise, but we must look to the question whether on the whole the system is productive of satisfactory re- suits. What is the case with regard to the clergy? There may be differences of opinion—some may think that they are too strict and narrow in their views; but there can be no doubt of this, that the clergy are thoroughly in earnest in the work of religious education. The ease has been put of a school being deprived of its schoolmaster. I grant that that may be an objection in the abstract; but I can easily conceive eases where it would be better that the school should be brought to a standstill than that it should be carried on under the teaching of a man of scandalous conduct. But the proper answer to the objection is this, that there is no set of men so anxious to keep the schools open as the clergymen. Therefore, though this may be a good objection on paper, it would be very feeble in practice, because the clergyman is the man in the parish who has the strongest desire to keep the school open. Therefore, I say, I do not see ground for impeaching these Minutes. It might have been unwise on the part of the Government to express dissatisfaction with the existing system—it might have been unwise in them if they had introduced fundamental changes. But I see nothing in these Minutes that can form a ground for fuundamental changes. I see nothing that indicates the animus for fundamental changes. I can only repeat that I fully subscribe to the doctrine, that it is the duty of the State to take care that the funds which it provides for the promotion of education are properly and efficiently expended; and I demur to the doctrine that the founders of these schools have a right to arrange their management as they please, and free from Government control. But, looking at these Minutes, I confess I do not find in them cause for censure. Whatever differences there may be in matters of detail, I hope that the Government, approving of the principle, will carry it out in a steady, reasonable, and moderate manner, and that all questions of detail will be considered in a kind, liberal, and friendly spirit; and I may add my hope, that whatever Ministry may be in possession of power, they will not increase the difficulties with which this question is surrounded, by attaching an exaggerated importance either to these changes or to any others which may from time to time be effected.


said, he did not object to the introduction of the words "moral and religious" into the Minute, though he would admit that they were somewhat vague; and he wished for more information on the subject of the change thus introduced. But what he did object to was the latter part of the Minute, which related to the suspending power. He found that there was a great disposition in clergymen to Acquire more power than the lay members of the Church were inclined to give them; but the effect of this power was actually to hand over the schools to the clergyman, to do what he pleased with them. The clergyman was to be sole judge, and of his own authority could exclude books from the schools, or suspend teachers. What would be the situation of a school if a clergyman objected to the books or to the master? The committee would have no power, and the clergyman might suspend the master, and put an end to the school; and there was no limitation as to the time in which reference should be made to the bishops. What he was afraid of was, that this would tend to alienate the support of the laity. He knew clergymen were very apt to entertain opinions in opposition to those of the laity, and this was a means of giving them a power to maintain what might be erroneous opinions. The present system was going on well. He would admit with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) that the clergy had of late shown a desire to promote education, and that there had been a great improvement in them in that respect in the last twenty-five years. Nevertheless, there should be some check and control over them, and he regretted that there was to be any interference in the system as it now stood. He was sure that it was laying the seeds of discord by giving to any individual, and that a clergyman, the power of construing as he liked the words "moral and religious," and of deciding what books were to be used, and also giving him the power of suspending a master till a reference was made to the bishop, without stating when such a reference was to be made He wished that the Government, who were, no doubt, desirous of promoting education, had allowed matters to go on without raising this difficulty, which had created an alarm which, although he admitted it to be greater than was necessary, was yet sowing the seed which would grow up into serious differences.


begged to say he was—as he was sure they all were—in favour of extending as far as possible the blessings of education; but it appeared to him that all they had at the present moment to deal with was the question of some alterations which had been made with reference to future schools, in the terms of the management clauses. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) said that he should have been better satisfied if the representations on which these alterations were made had been laid before the House; but all that was required of that kind was published in the annual Report of the Committee of Council. When the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) said, however, that all had been going on well and harmoniously, he must be permitted to state that, instead of cordiality having existed between the National Society and the Committee of Privy Council, the contrary had been the case, and great differences had existed between them since the year 1847. Much had been said about the introduction of the words, "moral and religious" grounds, and something, also, as to what could be defined as "morality" in a schoolmaster. The Bishop of Oxford, however, had some time ago made a speech, in which he had referred to a case, the circumstances of which, he thought, sufficiently showed in which respect this clause as to "moral" grounds might come into operation. The right rev. Prelate, in referring, among other points, to the appointment of schoolmasters under the present system, mentioned a case which had occurred in his own diocese, and in which a master, after having been charged with misconduct, and proved to have appeared in school in a state of intoxication, and to have made use of blasphemous language, had been continued in the school, because when the case was submitted to the committee of the school, who were farmers in the parish, it was found he had nine children, and that if he was removed the expense of their maintenance would fall upon the rates, and they would have to support them. He supposed the hon. Baronet (Sir H. Verney) would admit that that schoolmaster ought to be removed from his situation. The fact was, however, that he could not be removed so long as those farmers dissented; but now the Minute, as amended, would give power for his removal. With reference to the operation of this Minute, it should be recollected that it would not apply to schools that were already formed, but only to future schools. For his own part, he had to thank the Committee of Privy Council for allowing these alterations to be made, because he thought they would have the effect of completely disposing of those jealousies which had shown themselves in the National Society—a body which might, he considered, be taken to represent the Church of England, and in which the management clauses had, as he had shown, been much opposed. The alterations would, in his opinion—and he was only sorry they were not to come sooner into operation—lead to the establishment of a great number of admirable schools, and assist the clergy in forming them, whilst he felt certain they would tend to allay the discord that had prevailed for some time on this subject.


said, it certainly was not his wish to see such a schoolmaster as the hon. Gentleman had referred to kept in his situation, but his object was to have the present tribunal retained.


said, he must expressed his unfeigned satisfaction at the temperate time which had marked the present discussion; if the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) needed a justification for bringing this subject before the House, it was afforded by the speeches of the right hon. Home Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), both of whom had acknowledged the importance of the introduction of the few words in question into the Minute of Committee of the Privy Council. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), with a frankness which did him credit, admitted that the introduction of those words extended the power of the clergyman from religious to moral matters, and that change he (Mr. Smith) agreed with the noble Lord in thinking not only injudicious in the present state of the Church, but one that might be apprehended to produce those effects in reference to the lay members of school committees which the noble Lord had described. The right hon. Home Secretary declared that he expected these changes would produce harmony between the two dissenting or differing bodies in the Church of England; but he (Mr. Smith) was a dissentient in reference to those changes, because he believed that very different results would be produced by them; because he believed they would introduce heartburnings and feelings far from consistent with that harmony which the right hon. Secretary of State anticipated from them. He was surprised, however, that the right hon. Gentleman should have omitted to notice the cause which had induced the Government, so late in the Session and under such peculiar circumstances, to make these alterations, without application for them from any body of clerymen, and in opposition to a memorial numerously signed by laymen and clergymen, for the maintenance of the management clauses in their integrity. The right hon. Secretary of State had also omitted to inform the House that at the annual meeting of the National Society last year a very large majority deliberately expressed an opinion in favour of the maintenance of the management clauses. He (Mr. Smith) had heard with the greatest pain and apprehension the noble Lord at the head of the Government announce elsewhere that he intended to place the education of the people of this country in the hands of the ministers of the Established Church. He was himself a member of that Church from conviction and affection, but he believed no step more injurious to the Church itself could be taken; and, feeling that these changes in the Minute constituted the first step in the direction of that policy, he took the earliest opportunity of protesting against them, because he believed the consequence would be to weaken the real power of the clergy, and widely to extend the seeds of dissension, jealousy, and ill-will. He had already-stated that a very strong feeling had been expressed in favour of the maintainance of the management clauses, for though there had been dissension between the Committee of the Privy Council and the Committee of the National Society on the subject, the National Society itself, by a large majority, had declared their approbation of the management clauses. The great body of the members of the National Society had expressed their approbation of the Minutes as they stood in a Memorial which, for the character and number of its signatures, had never been exceeded. That Memorial was signed by 609 laymen, and 1,892 clergymen, among whom were 4 deans, 11 archdeacons, 32 prebendaries, 29 rural deans, and 1,392 beneficed clergymen. Among those signatures also there were 183 clergymen who had schools built in their parishes, in conformity with the management clauses, since January, 1847, and 296 incumbents who had schools with pupil teachers, and receiving Government aid in their parishes. On these grounds he thought there was no reason for saying that the clauses as they stood were unacceptable to the National Society, and he greatly feared that the alterations which had been introduced would tend rather to excite them to allay discord. He deeply regretted—for he assumed the circumstance stated by a venerable archdeacon must be accurate—that these changes in the Minute had been submitted to him and had received his approval, before they were submitted to that House or made known to the other members of the National Society.


said, he objected to the Minute as vague, uncertain, and unintelligible with regard to the powers it gave to the clergy. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had said that he could understood how uncertainty might have attached to the meaning of the word "religious;" he (Mr. Scrope) thought that term less dubious and more easily defined than "moral." But it was not merely this uncertainty and want of definiteness that he found fault with; a still stronger objection was, the offensive character of the alteration, which went altogether upon the assumption that the laity were not competent to determine upon the moral character of the schoolmaster—whether he was fit to continue in his office or not. For what possible purpose, he asked, could this alteration be made now, on the eve of an election (if, as appeared, it was not to come into operation for twelve months at least), save only to influence the coming elections, and as a sort of trap for those whose votes were likely to be caught by the bait thus offered? He could not understand what other object there could be, and, therefore, must believe their motive to be this.


thought his hon. Friend the Member for East Somersetshire (Mr. Miles) had let fall something rather contrary to his general profession when he talked of "ignorant farmers" as refusing to get rid of an unworthy schoolmaster. He did not know whether the place his hon. Friend spoke of, and where "ignorant farmers" abounded, was Somersetshire or not.


had not spoken of Somersetshire. He had quoted the Bishop of Oxford.


would call the attention of the House, however, to the fact that this alteration applied to the intelligent committees in large towns, where it would be admitted a hardship, even though it were not so, in such small places as had been alluded to. The subject generally he considered one of the deepest interest. The question of education—always one of the very first consequence—would very soon come before Parliament in the shape of a proposition that assistance for this purpose should be given by means of rates; and he trusted that one of the first measures to come before the House, whatever Government might after the dissolution be in power, would be some system for the education of the people. And as hitherto, generally, acts compulsory on the whole country had not succeeded, he asked that an endeavour should be made by an enabling Act to empower the several parishes to rate themselves in aid of education. This would operate well; practically, it was even now the case in Upper Canada.


said, the address presented to the Archbishop of Canterbury represented that the priestly power in the Church ought not to be increased, and that if it were, there would be a great secession from the National Society. He considered the alterations in the Minute extremely important and objectionable.

Subject dropped.