HC Deb 04 April 1853 vol 125 cc522-79

I have now, Sir, in pursuance of the notice I have given, to state generally the intentions of the Government with regard to the important subject of education; and in doing so, I certainly shall not think it necessary to ask for the attention of the House, because I am sure, that however inadequately I may perform the duty which I am called on to undertake, the subject is one of so much importance, it affects so deeply the religious and moral, and future well-being of the people, that this House will readily give its attention to any statements that may be made, and to any propositions that may be brought forward on a subject of this nature. Sir, I will begin with stating what has been the course with respect to the education of the poorer classes of this country from the commencement of the establishment of public day schools. I may state that those day schools were generally commenced soon after the beginning of the present century. At that time there were two persons who had both given very great attention to education, and who are deserving of commemoration, as well for their intelligence as for the efforts they have made on this subject—I mean Joseph Lancaster and Dr. Bell, who were instrumental in introducing a large establishment of day schools for the education of the poorer classes in this country. Both of them proceeded upon the system of having monitors in the schools chosen from amongst the boys attending the schools, by whom lessons should be given to the boys who were not sufficiently advanced to obtain the entire attention of the masters. It was believed that by this means a larger number of children would be educated cheaply than would have been attained by the method of having a great number of schools, each with its separate master; but no doubt that system was exceedingly defective, because it only used the instrumentality of persons who themselves were little advanced in learning—who had no peculiar aptitude for teaching, and who could not give, therefore, their instructions in that rapid and effective way which persons devoted to the subject are capable of doing. There was a difference, however, on a topic of most exciting interest, in connexion with the systems which were adopted pursuant to the advice of those two gentlemen. The system of Joseph Lancaster was adopted by the society called the British and Foreign School Society, about the year 1805, and proceeded on the principle of teaching the Bible to all the children of the schools; it was the distinctive feature, I may say, of that system. The King—George III.—gave his immediate and liberal patronage to the plan; and many persons anxious for the education of the people—among others my father, the late Duke of Bedford—combined in placing themselves at the head of institutions of this kind; and Lord Brougham, Sir Samuel Romilly, and several others, aided them with their abilities and support. At the same time while those schools were promoted, there arose an objection on the part of the Established Church, because, although the Bible was taught, there was no instruction given in the formularies of the Church of England; and, accordingly, at a later period, about the year 1811, I think a society, called the National Society, was formed in order to give instruction, not only in the Bible and in the Catechism, but, at the same time, there was a rule that the children attending their schools should attend the Established Church on Sundays. Seeing that those differences existed, there was, of course, immediately a hot controversy with respect to the principles on which those schools should be conducted. I will not enter into the merits of that controversy further than to say that to this day we feel the effects of it, and that while each society has contributed in a very large degree to education, that the evil consequences produced by the contests of those former days have made it difficult, if not impossible, to unite the poorer classes in one general system of education. On the one hand, the National Society, connected with the Established Church, insisted upon the learning of the Catechism and attendance at church, to which the Dissenters conscientiously objected; on the other hand, the Dissenters, forced, as it were, into opposition on this subject, formed a great body for the purpose of education; they formed schools entirely upon their own principles, which were organised in a manner that enabled them to bring a great power to bear against any plan of education of which those societies—chiefly composed of Dissenters—did not approve. The education, however, that was carried on by those two societies produced a great number of schools in the country, and a great increase in the means of education. About the year 1831 or 1832 it was proposed, for the first time, to the House of Commons, by the Government of Lord Grey, that the State should assist in the education of the poorer classes, and that a sum of 10,000l. should be given to each of those two societies, for the purpose of aiding them in their efforts. This plan continued in operation until the year 1839. The Treasury administered the aid which they gave according to the rules which as a Board it was incumbent upon them to adopt—namely, to give grants according to the amount of the sum voluntarily subscribed; and they distributed the grants in proportion to the sums that were so obtained, but they took no note or regard of the kind of education given. In the year 1839 Lord Melbourne's Government proposed that a change should be made, and that a Committee of Council should be formed who would take a more enlarged and more discriminating view of the business of education. Holding the office of Home Secretary at that time, I wrote a letter to the Marquess of Lansdowne, which letter, with the answer, was laid before Parliament as the ground for the proceeding that was then taken by the Government. It was intimated in that letter, with the approbation and by the command of Her Majesty, that it was the wish of the Queen that the youth of England should be religiously brought up, and at the same time that the rights of conscience should be respected. Amongst our proposals for increasing the means of education and furthering this important object, it was proposed to found a normal training school, and that persons of different religious persuasions should be educated in that school, whilst at the same time there should be a chaplain of the Church of England to instruct those who belonged to the communion of the Established Church. This proposal excited great apprehension and alarm, and it was, after much threatened opposition, withdrawn by the Government. But the proposal to obtain a grant to be placed for distribution in the hands of the Committee of Privy Council was persevered in, and was, by a narrow majority, sanctioned by the House of Commons. In the year 1846 a further step was taken of very considerable importance; that step was to endeavour to improve in a very great degree the quality of the education that was given. In stating in 1839 the views which the Government took of education, I declared my opinion, that the main object to be had in view was to improve the character and the condition of the schoolmaster—that as the schoolmaster is, so is the school—and that unless we improved that character and condition, we could hope for no great improvement in the education of the poorer classes. The measures which were agreed to in 1846 were afterwards the foundation for grants proposed to this House. Those grants have been carried into effect; and I do not know that since that time any great change has taken place with reference to this subject. The House will then see that the education of the poorer classes in this country has been conducted, generally speaking, by the voluntary efforts of the great religious communities—that they have had the assistance of the State, partly to increase the quantity, but chiefly and more especially to improve the quality, of that education—but that the State has not interfered, as a recurrence to the history of those particular grants would prove, materially in the nature of the instruction given. Great improvements have been made—I may say a great revolution has taken place—in the instruction given, compared with that which was communicated under the systems of Lancaster and Bell; but those improvements have taken place at the suggestion of the different societies who manage the education of the bodies over which they preside, or at the suggestion of the managers of those schools in which those improvements were introduced. But, Sir, what I wish now to call the attention of the House to, is the point at which we have arrived with respect to the education of the country generally—what it has been in amount, in its character, and in its nature—before I proceed to mention any further steps which it may be desirable to take. I received only yesterday a statement from the Registrar General with respect to the number of schools and the number of persons receiving education in this country. It comprises the public and private day schools, and contains the number of both sexes belonging to the schools, and the number attending on the 31st of March, 1851. The total number of day schools is stated at 44,898. The number of public day schools is 15,473, and that of private day schools 29,425. The total number of both sexes attending the day schools is 2,108,473. Those who attend the public day schools, or were on the school books, were males 791,548, females 616,021, making a total of 407,569, and those who attend the private day schools to 700,904, of which number 347,694 were males and 353,210 females. The number attending the schools on the 31st March, 1851, when the last census was taken, in- cluding both sexes, was 1,754,976; of which there were at the public day schools 635,107 males and 480,130 females, making together 1,115,237, and at the private day schools 317,390 males and 322,349 females, making a total of 639,739. It is stated in this table that the proportion of scholars on the books is 11.76, or one scholar to 8½ persons. The proportion of scholars in attendance to those on the books, is 83 1–5th per cent, or about five-sixths of those on the books were in attendance. Now, it appears from this account that the number of scholars in the private schools does not average more than twenty-seven; but in the public schools, with which we have more immediately to deal, it amounts to ninety-three; therefore we may take ninety-three as the average of persons attending at those public day schools. I will now state from different sources that which I believe is a fair and accurate estimate of the number of schools conducted under the auspices of the different societies, and of the number of persons, including boys and girls, who belong to the schools of each of those societies. The number of schools of the Church of England, as ascertained by the National Society in 1847, was 17,015; of British and Foreign schools, 1,500; of Wesleyan schools, 397; of Congregational schools, 89; of Roman Catholic schools, 585; and of ragged schools, 270; making altogether, 19,856. The number of scholars taught in the Church of England schools was 955,865; in the British and Foreign, 225,000; in the Wesleyan schools, 38,623; in the Congregational schools, 6,839; in the Roman Catholic schools, 34,750; and in the ragged schools, 20,000 odd—making a total of 1,281,077. I will now state, so far as it has been ascertained, the income belonging to those different religious bodies, and applied to the purpose of conducting their respective schools. It appears that in 1847 the sum expended in the maintenance of the Church of England schools was 817,081l; of the British and Foreign schools, 161,250l.; of the Wesleyan schools, 27,347l.; of the Congregational schools, 4,901l.; of the Roman Catholic schools, 16,000l.; and of ragged schools, 20,000l.—making a total income of 1,047,579l. I think I shall be rather under than over the mark if I add 50,000l. for all other schools; and this makes the amount provided for the maintenance of those schools about 1,100,000l. In reckoning the sources of income, it has been calculated that the local endowments are about 69,537l.; the local subscriptions, 366,823l.; the local collections, 114,109l; the school pence 413,044l., and the income from other sources 88,076l.; private supporters, 54,000l. It would appear that in none of the accounts of income, except those relating to Roman Catholic schools, is there any sum placed to the account of private schools which are entirely supported by the contributions of persons maintaining those schools. Now, there is one of those sources of income to which I would wish to call the attention of the House—it is the item of 413,044l. derived from the school pence. I have no doubt that that is an under-estimate; and I think, if we were to say that 500,000l., or half a million, had been contributed from school pence, we should not have an excess in estimating that sum. Now, I think the House will feel that, considering that half a century ago there were none other than Sunday schools which could be called public schools for the poor, the result of these efforts is striking, and likewise satisfactory. That the people of this country—above all, that the working and poorer classes of this country—should contribute 500,000l. a year towards the expense of instructing their children, I think the House must consider a most gratifying circumstance. I confess it induces me to think that the steps which we ought to take should be such as would rather strengthen and improve the system of education which has grown up chiefly by voluntary efforts, than attempt to set up anything in its place, which, while it disturbs the existing system, might fail in supplying its place by anything like an equal sum for the support of the instruction of the poor, At the same time, I think we are bound to consider that a great part of this instruction, although large sums are given for its maintenance, and while there are many persons who receive it, is in great part defective and inadequate, and that, without disturbing the existing system, we may still do much to improve it. I will now state to the House that which has occurred chiefly under the Minutes of 1846, but partly before those Minutes were issued. I have already stated to the House that the plan which was in contemplation by the Government in 1839, of having one training school under State direction and State control, did not meet with public favour, and was not persevered in by the Government; but the consequence instead thereof was, the erection of a great number of training schools in dif- ferent parts of the country—the greater part of them belonging to the Church of England, but others belonging to other denominations—which have proved of the greatest value and utility. Indeed it is impossible to deny what is said by one of the most intelligent of the inspectors appointed by the Government, that in many respects the training and dispersion of pupil teachers and apprentices under the present Minutes, and the present system, has advantages over a system which would combine in one or two training schools all those who are about to be educated at such schools. The plan adopted, and which is now in force, is this: One of the boys or girls, as the case may be, who shows a readiness and a capacity for teaching, is retained as a pupil teacher in the school. The pupil teacher is retained for five years in that capacity, and a sum is paid from the grants made by this House, and by the Committee of Privy Council, beginning at 10l. and rising up to 20l. before the pupil teacher leaves the school. There is, then, an admission into the training colleges, as some of them are called. The pupil teacher is sent to a training college, and becomes a Queen's scholar; and for two years the sum of 20l. in one year, and 25l. in the next, is devoted to the purpose of enabling the Queen's scholar to become a schoolmaster or schoolmistress and teacher. For this purpose not only is the best instruction given by the masters and teachers of those training schools, but opportunity is likewise given for those pupil teachers and Queen's scholars to show, by practical example, their capacity for teaching. In this way large numbers of persons are educated properly, and espepecially for the purpose of filling the office of schoolmaster—an office which long ago I declared in this House was not held in sufficient esteem, which is now rising to the position of a just estimation, and which is certainly one of the most important offices that any person can fill in this country. I should say it is an advantage with regard to those pupil-teachers that they come from families dispersed over the country, some of them of the middle orders, some of them belonging to the working classes, but who have a pride, and a just pride, in seeing that their children, by dint of the intelligence they show, and of their quickness in learning, and also of the religious and moral conduct which they evince, obtain from the masters of the schools, and from the inspectors appointed by the Government, honourable testimony of their fitness for the office of teacher. From 1844 to 1851 it appears that the outlay on training schools amounts to 353,402l.; the grants made by Parliament have amounted to 137,623l.; the income of twenty-one training schools in 1851 was 44,000l., and the annual grant at that time was 4,344l. Up to 1851 there have been forty of those training schools established; but the number of persons who have been educated as pupil teachers has very much increased since that time. In 1852 the total expenditure under the Committee of Council was 188,000l.; of this 16,975l. was expended in augmentation of teachers' salaries; 79,587l. for the stipends of pupil teachers, and gratuities to schoolmasters; 15,996l. towards the building of training schools; and 17,545l. for the support of training schools, making 130,103l., which in that year was applied solely for the improvement of the schools and for gratuities to schoolmasters. It is in this way, I think, that very great good may be achieved; it goes to raise the character and position of the schoolmaster; it goes to educate a number of young men and young women to the office of teacher, and we thus obtain a test of their capacity and fitness for this office. The inspectors appointed under Government bear the strongest testimony to the utility and value of those schools. They say that there are no grants that have been sanctioned by Parliament that have conferred such extensive benefits as these. I will not weary the House with quotations from the Reports of the various inspectors. Mr. Moseley, one of the most distinguished of them, gives his testimony on this subject in the warmest manner, and the Reports of the rest of the inspectors are all to the same effect. I was reading, only to-day, a document from the training school at Cheltenham, in which the principal of that school bears his willing testimony to the great benefits it has conferred during the two years that he has watched its progress. There is likewise the examination, which is carried on under the direction of the Committee of Privy Council, of schoolmasters, both of those who have lately undertaken that office, and of those who have exercised it for some time, in order to obtain certificates of merit. About 1,900 men and 900 women have obtained those certificates of merit, of whom about 2,700 continue to act as schoolmasters and mistresses. I now come, then, to the question—a ques- tion which has been discussed with great ability, and has excited great interest throughout the country—what we shall do with respect to this system. Shall we continue to add to its efficacy by augmenting the amount of aid given by the State, shall we abandon it altogether, or shall we adopt another system in the place of it? Sir, I will take these two last alternatives before I consider the proposition which it will be my duty to lay before the House. It is urged by persons of very considerable talent, and well acquainted with the subject, that it is not the duty of the State to interfere at all in the religious and moral training of the people of this country, that it is a matter which ought to be left entirely to the voluntary efforts of those who choose to undertake the task. I own I never could subscribe to the reasoning by which this view was supported. I never could believe that it would be right in the State to say that there is some principle, some scruple which should interfere with the State assisting in religious and moral training, when it is obvious that it is the great duty of the State to preserve peace and order, and, so far as the rough and coarse methods of State agency can do it, to enforce the observance of the rules of morality. I cannot understand, supposing a young man of seventeen or eighteen to be committed to prison for some act of theft, and that when he is told by the gaoler that he has offended against the law of the country, and by the chaplain of the prison that he has offended against the laws of God, he should ask why was he not instructed before in these matters?—I say I cannot understand that it would be a sufficient answer to say to him, that the State has the power to punish, that the State can give you religious instruction when you are committed to prison, but there is a principle, a scruple, which prevents the State giving you the means of avoiding the commission of the offence for which you are now punished. But, Sir, that question was argued very fully I think in the year 1847. This House decided by a very considerable majority in favour of aid being furnished by the Government for the purpose of promoting education. Since that time it has not appeared to me that the opinion of this House has changed, and certainly it does not appear that the country agrees with those who support what is called the voluntary system. The various religious communions, as the Established Church, the Wesleyans, the Roman Catholics, have received the aid which was given them under the Minutes of the Privy Council, as well as the British and Foreign School Society, comprising the schools in connexion with it, and many of the various denominations of dissenters. There are others, indeed, who belong to some of those denominations, especially the Baptists and Congregationalists, who refuse to receive any aid, and who maintain the voluntary principle in its fullest integrity; but it is evident, as regards the country generally, they form rather a considerable minority, and therefore it cannot be expected that this House should so far change its course as to yield to the arguments which have been used in support of the voluntary system. But there is another system which is proposed for adoption, and which it is said ought to influence the State in its decision upon this subject—I mean that which is proposed for the establishment of what are called secular schools. Now I do not wish in any way to misrepresent the views which are stated on this subject; and I will endeavour to state as far as I can the views that are put forth by those who are the advocates of that system. If I should be so unfortunate as not to have comprehended this system, no doubt there are many who will set me right, and who can place before this House the arguments in favour of the plan they contend for. What I understand to be said is this—the country is divided into various religious communions, differing greatly from one another; it is impossible by any scheme that has been hitherto suggested to bring the children of persons of those different denominations into one school, and to accept of religious instruction there; but it is very possible to give them secular instruction—to give them instruction in reading, writing, geography, and arithmetic, and in science and art—and to leave the question of their religious instruction to the ministers and pastors of their different communions; thereby avoiding the discord, difficulty, and expense which are created by having so many different schools, and by not treating religion as a thing apart from the schools. Now, if that were the proposal, there seem to me to be difficulties in themselves sufficiently great to prevent the adoption of such a system. We must consider, surely, when we are assisting in the education of the people, and especially in the education of the children of the poor in this country, that the school is the place where they are to learn the rules for their conduct in life—those rules of religion and morality by which in future they are to be guided and regulated. It is obvious, if this were the case, that a very incomplete religious instruction would be given, if you said that on but two afternoons in the week the children should go to schools conducted by ministers of religion, and that they should attend their own places of worship on Sundays. In the first place, it is obvious it would be difficult for clergymen of the Established Church and the ministers of any other communion to give time and labour sufficient to instruct the children in religion. In the next place, supposing they did so, a great and important end of education would not be attained, because on the most important subject I should say of all they would not receive sufficient instruction. Well, then, those who are the advocates of the secular system of instruction are liable to that difficulty; and it appears to me, while no doubt many of them differ among themselves, that the most able among them take a mode of obviating that difficulty which deserves the serious consideration of this House before asking if anything of the kind can be adopted. This scheme is developed by many writers on the subject, and among others by Mr. Combe, a gentleman no doubt whose writings are well known to many hon. Members, and whose opinions are of considerable weight. What he holds out is this, that many have held that very imperfect views are taken with regard to religious subjects, and that very often those rules which the Almighty has laid down for our conduct in this life, so far from being followed, are wilfully violated and set at nought. and that it is the business of the schoolmaster to teach those laws of social economy and those laws of physiology by which the youth of this Kingdom may be better instructed, and may so conduct themselves as to avoid that course of vice and misery into which too many of them fall. But I think it will be obvious to the House that this is a proposal differing from the plan apparently proposed by the advocates of the secular system. The proposition as it stood nakedly, on its first appearance, was this: Give secular instruction to the school, confine yourselves to that instruction, and leave religion to be taught by the ministers of the different religious denominations. But there is a second view of the subject, where it is said there is a natural theology which should be taught in the schools, but that Christianity should not be taught there. Now, that appears to be a view not only more extensive, but undoubtedly more dangerous, than that which was first suggested. My belief is, that the people of this country have acted with a right instinct when they have, by their exertions, by their associations, and by the devotion of their money and the time of their children, declared openly that there should be a system of religious training in the schools, and that that religious training should comprise all the great doctrines of Christianity. I therefore, Sir, do not call on the present Government to be a party to any act for the purpose of substituting a secular mode of teaching in the stead of that which is at present in existence. I come, therefore, to the question as to what is to be done under the present system? I do not think, owing to those difficulties which I mentioned at the commencement of what I had to say to the House, that it would be possible to unite persons of different religious communions in all the parishes throughout the country. There is obviously very great difficulty with respect to those requirements that are made by the National Society on the part of the Church, and the requirements which are naturally made by the Dissenters with respect to their own children. The National Society on the part of the Church has made it part of its rules that every child attending their schools should learn the Catechism of the Church, and attend the church on Sundays. It is obvious that this rule must be intended to apply only to the children of parents who are themselves members of the Church, because when you ask the question, in the Catechism of a child who has not been baptised, what his name is, and who gave him that name, it would be an obvious falsehood, and almost blasphemy, for that, child to say that his godfathers and godmothers gave him that name, when actually he had no such godfathers or godmothers. It is perfectly obvious that those rules are intended to apply only to children belonging to the Church; but even if this difficulty were got over—if the National Society, and all schools belonging to the Church, were to say they would dispense with the rule relating to the learning of the Catechism, and that they would not require the attendance of the children at church—I do not think, in the present state and condition of the country, that the great difficulty would be at all removed. If the House will give its attention to the state of this question, hon. Members will see here is a great principle involved, in which Protestant Dissenters of this country naturally take a deep interest. With respect to ecclesiastical affairs, we have the Established Church and its endowments, with the Sovereign of the country belonging to it, with the exercise of Her supremacy over it, and with the various other circumstances which make the distinction between the members of the Established Church and those who belong to other communions; but when we come to the question of civil and political rights, then, on the contrary, we have perfect equality. That equality in civil and political rights has now been established with few exceptions; it has now been the rule for the last twenty years; and there has been no doubt in the minds of the great majority of the Legislature that civil and political equality is the right of every subject of this Realm, whatever the religious denomination to which he may belong. The Church in ancient days used to pretend to have a complete dominion over the education of children in this country. I remember Lord Derby, when in this House, quoting an Act of Henry IV. to that effect; but without going back to a later period than the time of Queen Anne, and the Schism Act, every attempt was made to assert that dominion on the part of the Church. Since that time, however—since the accession of the House of Hanover—education has been perfectly free; and whenever there is a question raised of the establishment by the State of rules for education, and of a system founded and supported by the State, the Protestant Dissenters most naturally, and I may add most justly, would say the rules to be established on this subject are not the rules which you have in your ecclesiastical law, but in your political law, and they must be rules of strict equality, and not of supremacy. If that be the case, it leads to this most serious difficulty with respect to parish schools. Supposing parish schools to be established, whatever indulgence, whatever toleration, you might give to the child of the Dissenter, would not satisfy the dissenting body, because there would still remain this source of grievance and discontent—the want of equality. Accord- ingly, when an attempt was made in that direction not many years since by my right hon. Friend (Sir James Graham), it was found that the petitions to this House, the meetings, and agitation which prevailed among the Dissenters, was sufficient to prevent any hope of success to such a scheme. There is, however, with respect to the general establishment of one scheme—supposing it were to be supported by a rate—this difficulty, namely, that there is a strong repugnance to the imposition of rates for objects in which the whole community cannot concur. There would therefore be, as was very correctly stated by the right hon. Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole) last year, constantly occurring something like that agitation which often prevails on the subject of church rates, if you were to seek to establish a school rate in every parish. There is, however, it appears to us, one sort of community in this country which might obtain the means of supporting schools by means of rates. I allude to those towns which have a corporate organisation, which, under Acts of Parliament, and by ancient charters, have a corporate council, which can manage through municipal institutions the concerns of the town. In towns of this kind no necessity exists for establishing schools of one description only. There are generally in these corporate towns schools of various communities, all of which receive some support under the Minutes of the Committee of Privy Council, or which might receive that support. It appears to us, therefore, that it is possible, at all events, to give the power to the Municipal Councils of such towns to vote a rate for the purpose of improving the education in such towns. But in so doing we should think it necessary to impose certain conditions, in order to prevent the evils to which I have referred. In the first place, we think it would be right that not less than two-thirds of the town council should agree to the imposition of such a rate. If it were carried only by a small majority, it would give rise to incessant attempts to overturn that vote, and probably create great dissensions in the locality. When, however, two-thirds of the representatives of the community would give a vote in favour of the imposition of the rate, their decision would probably be in accordance with the general sense of the town. In the next place, we should also think it necessary to provide that the rate should be applied, not to establish schools in substitution of former schools, but in aid of the voluntary efforts of individuals, and in aid of the school pence given by the parents. We should propose some such scheme as that the rate should be applied to pay 2d. in the week for each scholar, provided 4d. or 5d. were contributed from other sources. We should, perhaps, also insist that the schools which should receive that assistance should be schools which, under the Minutes of Council, might receive assistance. I should be afraid of very great difficulty and dissension occurring if we were to go beyond rules of this kind; and this opinion is founded upon what has occurred at Manchester during the past year. It is well known that a number of gentlemen, most benevolent, and entitled to the highest praise for their exertion, assembled together to establish a rate for the purpose of improving the education of Manchester. When they endeavoured to collect the opinion of that city, a very great number of the ratepayers—there is some dispute as to whether it was a majority, it appeared at least to be a majority—willingly assented to the principle of a rate. When they came to consider what kind of schools should receive assistance from the rate, they had no difficulty, I believe, so long as they confined themselves to the schools which under the Minute of Council might receive assistance. But when they endeavoured to frame a scheme of their own, for new and other schools, they were met by the argument that all should receive the benefit of assistance. Now, the resolution to which the association had come made it an absolute and essential condition that the Scriptures should be read in the authorised version, leaving, however, the Roman Catholics to use the Douay version. But it was to be expected, and it did occur, that the Roman Catholics demurred altogether to the religious instruction to be given in such schools, and they, therefore, formed a minority dissenting from that plan. Now I think the same difficulty would be found in any attempts to frame any other plan, and we should not, therefore, propose that the power of the town councils should go further than the appointment of a committee, which should distribute the sums obtained from the rate according to the Minutes of the Committee of Privy Council. The committee to be appointed by the town councils would be formed partly of members of the council, and partly of other persons resident in the town, who would be able to obtain accurate information with respect to the schools, and see that all the conditions required by the State were complied with in those schools. I propose to ask for leave this evening to bring in a Bill to carry these plans into effect. I may add that we propose also that in these schools a parent should have the power of withdrawing his child from the religious instruction to which he might be subjected. It is obvious, however, on the one hand, that the parents would not send their children to a school where the religious instruction should be repugnant to the parent; and on the other hand a school which had strict rules that every child should receive that religious instruction, would at once refuse to receive the child of a parent objecting. All will be done, therefore, by a clause which will declare the general principle that the parent may have the power of such withdrawal. Seeing that such a plan could not be universally adopted in this country, and for this plain reason, that in many parishes in the country there could only be one school, we propose by a Minute, which has been for some time under consideration, but which is not yet fully matured, to allow in certain instances to places which have not municipal corporations a certain sum per head for each child attending the school. It will be necessary, however, to confine any such grants to those schools where the schoolmaster has obtained a certificate of ability. That Minute, when its provisions shall have been fully matured, will be laid upon the table, and the House, before coming to any vote upon it, will have ample opportunity afforded for duly considering it. The Committee of Council have likewise considered the propriety of making additional grants for buildings in some poor places where great difficulty exists in obtaining a sufficient sum for establishing schools. I should say that the schools generally throughout the country may be divided into three classes. First, those in which the education is already sufficient, and where it is also of a sufficiently good quality; secondly, where the education is deficient both in quantity and quality; and, thirdly, where education has been entirely neglected. The schools of the first class are already considerable in number; those of the third class are rapidly diminishing, and are certainly not very numerous; but it is the second which constitutes the largest class, and which requires the largest amount of aid and assistance. I have now stated what is proposed to be done by the Bill as regards a school-rate, and by the Minutes of Council with respect to building. There is, however, one subject of great importance, and with regard to which several Bills have lately been introduced into this House; and therefore when I state generally the evils and the proposed remedy for them, it will be unnecessary for me to go into any details upon it. I mean the very large amount of property which has been left by charitable bequests, and which now forms the income of public charities. Attention was called to this subject many years ago by Lord Brougham; and among the varied and useful labours which he has performed, and the many splendid efforts which he has made, I know of no object more useful to which he has turned his attention; and I know of no arguments more striking than those which he has used upon the subject of public charities. In 1818 a Commission was appointed upon the subject; several Commissions have been appointed since that period, the last being appointed by the Crown, when I had the honour of holding the office of Secretary in the Home Office, and finally made its Report in 1837. The Reports of these Commissions were combined in thirty-eight folio volumes. They reported that the number of charities amounted to 28,840, and they stated the aggregate income of the charities upon which they reported, to be 1,209,395l. They likewise stated that the annual income of the endowments for the purpose of education was 312,000l. Now, with respect to many of these charities, various evils have been found to exist. With regard to a great number of them, the money has been lent to individuals, the trustees have been careless in recovering it, and it has been lost in the lapse of time from negligence and inattention. With respect to others of them, the money has been dispersed by litigation. One instance is mentioned in the Report of a sum of 3,000l., which, after a lawsuit of a considerable length of time—conducted as lawsuits were conducted in our Court of Chancery—was reduced to a sum of only 15l. a year. There are, unfortunately, too many instances of the same kind. Many of these charities are of exceedingly small amount, and they have been left for purposes which are not now found to be useful. The charities not amounting to 5l. a year are 13,331 in number; and those of 5l., and under 10l., are 4,641 in number; making a total of 17,972 under 10l. per annum. On the other hand, there are several which have increased far beyond the expectation of those who founded them. There are of charities of 2,000l., and under 3,000l., twenty-four; of 3,000l., and under 4,000l., ten; of 4,000l., and under 5,000l., four; of 5,000l., and under 6,000l., two; of 8,000l., and under 9,000l., three; and there are also one each of the different sums of 10,000l., 15,000l., 20,000l., 25,000l., 30,000l., and 35,000l., This is a subject which, having attracted the attention of the public, was sure to be brought under the consideration of Parliament and of those who held office in the High Court of Chancery. Lord Lyndhurst, from 1842 to 1845, introduced, I think, three or four different Bills on the subject, which did not, however, pass through Parliament. Lord Cottenham, in the same way, four times introduced Bills relating to these charities, and last year a Bill was under consideration, proposed by the last Commissioners of Charities appointed in 1849, which contained many useful provisions on the subject. Some of these provisions went to obtain more accurate and complete accounts of the value of those charities and their amount. Others went to the prevention of loss by litigation, by declaring and enacting that, without the authority of the Attorney General, no suits should be instituted. Other parts of that measure went to give the power of exchanging lands, and granting building leases, working mines, and various other powers, which would tend to make property of this kind more valuable. We propose to adopt these provisions, but we propose to vary the power to which this discretion is to be given. It appears to us that there are many matters totally distinct, and which ought to be placed under distinct management. There is first a judicial power, which would be required to declare whether any of these trusts have been abused, and to take methods for remedying obvious abuses against the will of the founder. Secondly, there is a power which is that of administration, or rather of superintending the administration of trusts, which it appears to us should be differently exercised. It was proposed last year that there should be a body of three persons named by the Lord Chancellor, two of whom were to receive salaries, and the third might also receive a salary, if it should be thought necessary to give it. There is no reason to think that persons so appointed, withheld from the superintendence of Parliament, would do otherwise than exercise their power merely so that there should be no abuse of the powers given by the founder of the charities, and in taking care that no unnecessary litigation should take place. Now we think it desirable that there should be an authority which should have the power of proposing and enforcing amended schemes for the disposition of charitable property to such useful purposes as the founder wished it to be appplied. We therefore propose that there should be vested in a Committee of the Privy Council, to be appointed by Her Majesty, with the Lord President at its head, a general power, besides those which I have already mentioned, to propose schemes for varying trusts in respect to those charities. We should propose that with respect to those schemes which should meet the approbation and consent of the trustees, that they should be adopted, and should, after being placed on record, take effect in the same manner as the original trusts. There is, indeed, a clause similar in effect to this in the Bill proposed last year. We propose also to give a power, similar to that which has been conferred by Parliament in one or two instances of late years, that in cases where the trustees do not consent to the scheme, a Bill should be introduced into this House, and the assent of Parliament should be asked to the improved administration of these trusts. It appears to me that great advantages may be gained by the exercise of a power of this kind. With respect to many of those small charities, giving six loaves at Christmas, and different small bequests of that kind, they are generally of no use to the place where they are given, and in many cases they are extremely noxious; they produce, in the majority of cases, merely a day of feasting and of waste; they induce idle and profligate persons to go to some particular parish for the purpose of obtaining the benefits, and the benevolent views of the founder of the charity is utterly frustrated. Of course the House would be very jealous of giving any power upon such a subject, which would seem to interfere unduly with the intentions of the founders of charities. At the same time, here is a great public advantage to be gained, and a body, I think, might be constituted, to which might be entrusted, under as many guards and checks as Parliament should think proper, the power of endeavouring to extract out of these charities the means of obtaining objects of great utility—such, for instance, as that of the improved education of the poor. My noble Friend the Lord President of the Council will ask to introduce a Bill into the other House, containing the views of the Government upon this subject; and I trust that to whomsoever the power may be given, or whatever may be the extent of those powers, that we shall at last be able, after ten years of attempted and frustrated legislation, in the course of the present year to legislate upon a subject of this vast importance in such a manner as to improve the distribution and management of these charitable funds. We propose that charities not having incomes above 30l. a year should be carried to the County Courts, and those above that sum either to the Master of the Rolls or the Vice-Chancellor, who will have special powers entrusted to them on the subject. I have now stated generally what are the views of Her Majesty's Government upon the question of the education of the working and poorer classes of the people of this country. The sum which will be asked appears in the estimates, and before that Vote is taken, we shall be able to explain fully the Minute which we shall have adopted upon the subject to which I have already referred; and it will then be for the House of Commons to consider whether it will grant the sum asked for or not. There are some other topics upon which I wish to touch, because they are akin to these subjects, though I do not propose to enter at any length into them. The first is, that the Speech of Her Majesty, delivered at the commencement of the Session, has occupied the attention of the Government. The earnest deliberation of the House was in that Speech requested to the consideration of the subject of the promotion of science and art. It is proposed by the Board of Trade, that the same authority granted for the department of Schools of Design, and for the purpose of science, should be united under one department, to be called, "The Department of Science and Art," under the Board of Trade. Without any very large expenditure, it will be found that there will be means of opening museums for scientific objects, and also for a museum of art, which for the present will be placed in Marlborough House. There will also be the means provided for giving instruction on technical questions relating to art and manufactures, calculated to improve and cultivate the taste as applicable to manufacturing purposes. Dr. Lyon Play-fair will be the inspector of the scientific, and Mr. Cole of the department of art, and under their care and superintendence it is hoped that great advantage will be obtained. What more immediately concerns that which I have to state to the House this evening is, that it is proposed by the Department of Art, instead of sending to certain schools in this country that aid which has usually been granted, that models and particular forms useful for instruction in drawing should be furnished as parts of the grant in cases where such assistance is required, for the purpose of improving their pupils in drawing and in a knowledge of the principles of art. I said that I would state upon this occasion what were the general views of Her Majesty's Government with respect to the Reports of the Commissions which were appointed by the Crown on the subject of the two Universities. The House is well aware that these Commissions have presented Reports of a most valuable kind, setting forth in great detail the history of those Universities, giving a great deal of evidence of a most instructive and valuable nature, and themselves suggesting various reforms in the Universities. I will not state any particular scheme which it is the intention of the Government to adopt. On the contrary, Her Majesty's Government are of opinion that they would not fulfil their duty in the best manner if they proposed any particular scheme for the adoption of the House until the matter had been much more maturely considered, and until the Universities had had the opportunity of giving their suggestions and their observations, and adopting such measures as they may think it desirable to adopt on the subject of the changes suggested. Speaking, however, of the University of Oxford, there are in the first place some points upon which the Commissioners have touched, with respect to which I think it is but fair that I should state what are the views of Her Majesty's Government. The first subject with reference to Oxford, and which is of the highest importance, is the constitution of the government of the University itself. We are of opinion that very considerable change is required in the constitution of that University, We think it desirable that there should exist a greater power of introducing into the governing body of the University persons who, in the station of professors, are engaged in teaching in the University, and into the several colleges those who are engaged in teaching in those colleges. What should be the particular form of that governing body, is a matter upon which, as I have intimated, we are not yet prepared to decide. What we say is, that it is a subject to which we shall look, to which our attention will be directed, and upon which we shall be ready to receive any suggestion which may come from the University itself. But if these suggestions either do not come, or if they should fail to meet what we think the circumstances of the case require, it will then be necessary to come to Parliament and submit to it proposals of our own on the subject. There is another matter upon which our opinion is no less decided with respect to the principle, and that is, a more full and free admission to the teaching of the University. My belief is that these Universities were intended, and ought to be treated, as great institutions for the benefit of the country, and that their objects ought to be fulfilled more completely than they have been of late years. For this purpose I believe it will be necessary that there should be a power of admission, and of attending the teaching of the University, and of acquiring those privileges by means other than those of belonging to, or residing in, colleges. Whether the recommendations of the Commission on the University of Oxford, or the different recommendations of the Commission on the University of Cambridge, should be taken on the subject, I will not now pretend to decide. Any change which shall effect the object, and effect it without endangering or injuring the discipline of the University—because that point must be kept carefully in mind —will be favourably considered by us, and will be one which we shall be ready to adopt. Another subject in connexion with the present state of the University of Oxford is the amount of restriction which is placed upon the attainment of fellowships and emoluments in the University. Many of those restrictions, it is true, claim for their origin the statutes of the University, or the wills of the founders; but we have to consider that if these statutes and these wills were to be literally obeyed, we should have, not the present state of the Universities, but a state very much different, and one which it would be impossible to main- tain. I will not upon this point express any opinion as to the recommendations of the Commissioners of both Oxford and Cambridge—whether all restrictions as to place of birth, or the county to which the persons belong, should be abolished, or whether persons belonging to certain localities, cœteris paribus, should have the advantage: all I say is that merit, industry, study, and ability ought to have their due reward. I may say further, in respect to another topic of great importance, that a greater part of the incomes and revenues of the colleges should be devoted to purposes of instruction, such as to giving additional incomes to professors, or applied in other modes most conducive to giving instruction in the Universities. No doubt, we must keep in mind on this subject, as in other trusts, the purposes for which they were created. At the same time, I do not think it is possible to lose sight of the times in which many of these foundations were made, and the views entertained by those who founded them—views which were entertained naturally and properly according to the belief of the times, and, perhaps, according to the circumstances of the times, but which no longer apply to the present period. For instance, it was thought at one time that it was most desirable that a number of studious men, perhaps of the ecclesiastical profession, should devote their time to study and to prayer, and that they should remain in seclusion from the rest of the world. Far be it from me to state that those who devoted their means and their estate to that purpose took a mistaken view of the benefits which might thereby be obtained. I believe that at a time when no man's house was safe, when armed knights were infesting the lanes and valleys of the country, and there was no security for life or property, the sacred character given to these institutions enabled the men thus secluded to preserve the works of learning; it enabled them to preserve those great classical works which at the time of the revival of letters were found in the monasteries and convents, and which amid the din of arms, and amid a state of ignorance, might have led to barbarism, yet kept alive that sacred flame from which we have derived our civilisation. Far be it from me, therefore, to say that they were shortsighted, and still less to say they were not benevolent. But the circumstances of the present day, I need not point out to you, are totally altered in these respects; and quite sure am I that those same men, who, animated by the love of learning, established these foundations, would, were they now living, be among the first to apply their noble aid to the promotion of an instruction adapted to the spirit of the age. We may well, on analogous principles, explain the views which induced them, in the circumstances of their period, to impose restrictions on the receipt of their benevolence, based on the birth locality of its recipients. It is perfectly intelligible that a man of property in those days, finding the people of his own county immersed in ignorance, entirely without the light of letters and of science, should have formed the idea, that by founding, in the University of Oxford or Cambridge, a fellowship appropriated to men of his own county, he should encourage the prosecution of knowledge among them, and so promote their general advance in letters and in civilisation. But the localisation of these great benefits, which, for any such reasons as these, may have been natural enough in those days, seems wholly unwise and inexpedient in our own time, when the intercommunication of thought and of knowledge has been rendered as rapid as it is becoming universal throughout the land. I do not say that was not a wise view; but what I say is, that with our present means of communication, and with the present circulation of knowledge through the country, a reservation which might be wise at the commencement would be excedingly unwise at the present moment. These, then, are four of the objects which we shall endeavour to keep in view with regard to the University of Oxford:—Firstly, the improvement of the governing power or body; secondly, a larger admission of students without belonging to any particular college; thirdly, the removal or modification of the restrictions which now exist in regard to the attainment of the rewards and honours of the University to a particular county or locality; and, fourthly, the application of some part of the endowments and property of the colleges to the purpose of instruction in the University, which are now not given for any purposes of instruction whatever. Another object which, I think, we should have in view, is, that when fellowships in the Universities are attained by students, the distinction should not be held for life, but only for a certain period. Thus we shall have a constant stimulus to and a constant system of promotion, and a wider field of reward for merit. Sir, I will not go into the recommendations that have been made by the Commissioners appointed for the University of Cambridge. They recommend, in a similar spirit with the Oxford Commissioners, that those restrictions which I have mentioned should no longer exist, but they state that the University itself is continually, from time to time, adapting its institutions to the present state of knowledge and the present state of the country, and they expect that further improvements will still be made in the same direction. They say that they think it would be a great misfortune if the University of Cambridge should in any respect fall short of that which is required from it by the most enlightened view of the public interests, and the greatest advantage of the people of this country. At the same time, with a natural pride in the University to which they belong, they say they are happy to think such has been the case, and they further think that it will continue to be the case hereafter; at the same time they state their firm belief that the interposition of Parliament will be required in order to enable the University of Cambridge to make all those reforms and improvements which, in their opinion, ought to be effected. Now, Sir, may I venture to say that the persons whom I had the honour of advising the Crown to appoint to the Commissions of Oxford and Cambridge were men of very great distinction; they were men who themselves had attended those Universities—men who had attained to the greatest honours, some of them in science and others in classical learning; and that they approached the subject with that generous love and veneration for those great institutions which such men were sure to feel? When, therefore, such men as these advise such extensive alterations, and accompany them with such observations, I think Parliament, without rashness, without the imputation of indiscretion or recklessness, may, weighing every objection, considering every difficulty, investigate these different proposals, and legislate for the improvement of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. I trust I have made it clear to the House that we do not propose at the present time, or without giving full means to the Universities of considering all that we ought to do, to introduce any Bill to Parliament on these subjects. At the same time we shall keep in view these objects, which we think essential. If the Universities adopt them, and carry them into effect as far as they can, and apply to Parliament for powers to carry them out still further, we shall be happy to see them arrive at that consummation; but if they should not do so, if there should be persons who are still deterred by their prejudices from making any, even the most useful, alterations, it will then be our duty, as the Government, not to hesitate, but to bring in such measures as we may think absolutely necessary for the expediency of the case. Now, Sir, having ventured to trouble the House upon this important subject, I feel that, wide as the field is which I have had to go over, it has been quite impossible for me to give an adequate notion to the House, either of the present state of these questions, or of the measures which Government mean to propose. But I have a firm belief that the people of this country, who themselves have founded these institutions—that the people of this country, who in the course of the last half century have carried day schools and the instruction of the poorer classes to such an extent as I have shown—will supply any inadequacy which I may have shown, and will even supply any defects they may find in our legislation. I feel that, with regard to these great and most important subjects, that that will happen which we have seen happen in the material world and in physical science. We have seen that which beggars have passed unnoticed, and which was disregarded, converted into the means of giving brilliant light in our streets and our houses. We have seen those powers of nature which were usually considered noxious and destructive employed to carry to distant regions in a few minutes intelligence which a century ago would require weeks, and even months, to convey. We have seen other wonders of physical science and physical study astonish, almost every year, the generations in which we have lived. I feel persuaded that, whatever may be the state of society in this country at present, that there is a power at work which will draw up from the dregs and the destructive part of that society the means of new light, new life, new intelligence, and of establishing religion and morality upon a still firmer basis, and which will make religion and morality the crown of our social institutions. I feel, then, that this is even a still nobler task, that it is even a still greater achievement than those wonders which the acquisitions of science have enabled us to effect. Imploring, then, this House to pay the most earnest attention to all these subjects, to take no word of mine as sufficient for the measures that we have to propose, but begging them to keep in view these great objects upon which the future happiness and welfare of this country must depend, I shall conclude by asking for leave to bring in a Bill to improve and extend the education of the people in England and Wales.


said, he was sure that the House and the country would be very deeply indebted to the noble Lord, for the comprehensive views upon the momentous subject of education to which he had given expression; but he was sorry to observe that the noble Lord's speech pointed rather to some great amendment for the future, than to any great improvement at the present day. He (Mr. Ewart) was quite aware of the difficulty, perhaps some would say the impossibility, of promoting education by means of a general rate all over the country; but he did not nevertheless abandon the hope that such a plan, if not at present, would some day be carried into effect. He was exceedingly rejoiced to find that the noble Lord had taken in hand the collegiate foundations, the glory of our ancestors and the disgrace of their descendants; and he trusted that though they might but dimly see the plan laid before the House, both the judicial and administrative improvements which the noble Lord had introduced would be successful. He was sorry that the noble Lord had not taken into consideration the public schools. Was it possible to introduce reformatory measures with respect to the small charitable foundations, and to allow such institutions as the Eton, Westminster, Winchester, and other large public schools to escape supervision? Was it possible to reform the Universities, and not reform the public schools where young men were prepared for those Universities? He had asked the question of the late Government, and he had received from the right hon. Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole) the uncomfortable answer that Her Majesty's Government did not intend to introduce any measure on the subject. He hoped, however, that the present Government would accomplish that which the late Government had refused to do, and remove the anomaly which would exist if the public schools should be left in their present state. He rejoiced to hear from the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) the scheme for establishing a great institution for the diffusion of scientific and artistic education; but he somewhat questioned the policy of placing such institutions under the superintendence of the Board of Trade. He did not understand why a commercial body who had already more to do than they were able to find time to perform, should be charged with the care of such matters, and he hoped that they would be removed to some other department. It was impossible to enter into the details of the measure which had been introduced by the noble Lord that night; but although he was sorry that the hopes of the ardent friends of education might be somewhat disappointed, yet he was quite sure that when the Bill should come before them, the country would feel greatly indebted to the noble Lord for having done so much. He should give the measure his warmest support, and he had no doubt that other hon. Members interested in the cause of education would do the same.


said, that as they had put an end to thet ransportation of convicts, they must provide some means, either of taking care of them in this country or of reducing their number. Now he looked upon a proper plan of really national instruction, as the best and surest means of effecting the latter and more desirable of these objects; and he was therefore very sorry to find that the noble Lord stopped short of the very means by which generality could be given to education. The noble Lord had truly stated that it was very hard to punish men for breaking the law, which they had never taught them to observe; and yet the noble Lord repudiated the only scheme by which education could be universally diffused over the country. The noble Lord had failed to see the distinction between social and moral education. In truth, there were two classes of men in this country, who were charged with the duty of instructing the people—schoolmasters and clergymen; and there was no reason why the principle of the division of labour should not apply in this, as well as in all other matters. It was the business of the schoolmaster to teach men the social and political duties of life, obedience to the laws, and the maintenance of order, the control of their passions, and the regulation of all their acts. When he (Mr. Hume) attended school as a boy, the schoolmaster was everything to them. No religious education was given them, except a little catechising on a Saturday, which no one objected to, and he did not see why any more was required now. The noble Lord had made no advance, and yet he felt obliged to him for the measure, which showed that he had fairly grappled with the question. Still, though their means might be increased, and the supervision of the masters improved, so long as a religious education was insisted upon, they would effect comparatively very little. So long as the religious duties which ought to be taught by the clergy were confounded with those of schoolmaster, which should be directed to fitting the scholars to perform the ordinary business of life, so long would the system of education continue to be imperfect and unsatisfactory. Our criminal statistics exhibited the educational state of the country in a light that was a disgrace to Parliament. For himself, he did not approve of the partial system now proposed. He would rate every parish in the Kingdom, every acre in the country, in order to instruct the people in their moral and social duties, and to render them good citizens; and he would leave it to the various clergy of the different sects to instruct their people in religion. If it were necessary to rate every species of property to support the physical frame, was it not equally important, nay, much more important, to rate property in order to instruct and educate the population at large? That once accomplished, we might look forward with confidence to the diminution of crime, and the question of how to dispose of the convict class would no longer be a problem impossible of solution. He should like to see a return of all the persons who had been summoned to serve upon coroners' inquests who were unable to sign their finding. Why, he had been told by a coroner that he had once presided over a jury not one of whom knew how to read or write. That was in Norfolk, that darkest spot in the country, and the county to which he himself belonged. He should be glad to have any property that he might possess taxed to support schools; and, indeed, he considered that every acre, and all the property of the country, ought to be made to contribute its quota. His objection to the noble Lord's Bill was that it was only a half measure after all, although the subject was one of the most vital importance. Indeed, important as was University reform, he regarded it as a matter of comparatively little moment compared with the education of the people. However, he would not pursue the subject fur- ther until they had the Bill itself before them.


said, it would be premature to offer any opinion upon the plan which had been propounded by the noble Lord until they saw the Bill itself, and had an opportunity of considering its provisions. But, inasmuch as he was engaged with other Members of that House in an inquiry before a Committee into the practicability of supporting schools of a denominational character by means of rates in towns which were governed by municipal corporations—inasmuch as that Committee was engaged in investigating the precise question which the noble Lord had propounded to the House that evening, he would say, with all respect, that he could have wished the Government should have delayed legislating upon that particular branch of the subject until that Committee had presented its Report. He was so anxious that something should be done for education, that he was extremely unwilling to throw obstacles in the way of any plan for promoting it; still he doubted very much whether they should succeed in the attempt to transfer, as it were, the duties of the clergy of various persuasions to the schoolmaster. He very much doubted whether two-thirds of a town-council would be found to agree to teach all forms of religion in their respective towns, and to support such teaching out of the rates. He doubted whether town-councils would consent to train up children in the Jewish religion, the Roman Catholic religion, and the various forms of Christianity, and he agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) that if they entered upon the question of mixing up State support with voluntary education, they embarked in difficulties which it would not be easy to overcome. He would not at that time enter into the general question of education; but as a member of the Church of England, it struck him that there had been one important omission in the noble Lord's speech. The noble Lord had not informed the House what had become of the Minute of Privy Council on the 12th of June, 1852, the principle of which was to transfer from the laymen of the Church the management of Church schools in moral and religious matters to the clergymen and bishop of the diocese. He thought that the Government of which the noble Lord was a Member had distinguished itself greatly in 1836, by enabling the laymen of the Church to manage Church schools in conjunction with the clergy; and he regarded it as a retrograde step on the part of the Government of Lord Derby when it contravened that decision of a former Parliament, and transferred again from the laymen of the Church to the clergy something like an exclusive jurisdiction. He wished, therefore, to ask the noble Lord whether that Minute of Council had been rescinded, which enabled the public money to be given to Church schools in cases where the clergyman had the power of dismissing the schoolmaster on other than religious grounds, in cases in which the clergyman had the power of deciding what books should be used upon other than religious grounds, and in those cases which were provided under the new form of trust-deed that had been allowed to be introduced for the first time by the late Government. He regarded this as a question of vital importance, for, though it might not affect existing schools, it comprehended the great principle of laymen superintending the education of the young, and he never would give his consent to go back one iota in order to transfer from those lay committees of management any power which they had formerly enjoyed to the sole and exclusive will of the clergy. He thought it but a duty which the House had to perform to ask the Government whether the Minute of the 12th of June was to be rescinded. The Earl of Derby had stated that it should not be acted upon until the new Parliament had assented to its principle, so important had he thought it. Now that the question of education was before the House, he thought it a fitting opportunity to ask that question; and he begged to ask, accordingly, what course the Government was prepared to take with regard to it?


I will answer, Sir, at once the question of my right hon. Friend. The Committee of Council have considered the Minute to which my right hon. Friend refers. We do not propose to enforce that Minute. It will be cancelled; and we propose that by another Minute, power shall be given to the clergyman to appeal to the Lord President of the Council and the bishop of the diocese, in cases of a schoolmaster of immoral conduct and immoral habits. It is certainly possible, in some cases, that a schoolmaster of immoral conduct and immoral habits might be screened by the partiality or indulgence of the lay committee. In such a case we propose, not, as under the Minute to which my right hon. Friend refers, an appeal to the bishop, but an appeal to the President of the Council and the bishop of the diocese, who shall appoint an inspector and the incumbent to make an investigation.


said, he wished to say a few words on that part of the interesting speech of the noble Lord which mainly concerned the large mass of the population. He was very glad indeed to find that the noble Lord had recognised the principle of an educational rate; he thought it a most important step in the progress of public instruction. He never could comprehend the objection of the State interfering in order to secure the rights of children, and to secure its own rights; for the State had a right to expect that society should not have turned upon it, from time to time, large bodies of uninstructed, semi-civilised beings, ripe for depravity and crime. On the other hand, the child who was totally neglected by its parents was deprived of that due training of its faculties which human beings might be said to have a natural right to enjoy. But much of the virtue of a rate for education would depend upon its being generally levied, and distributed according to recognised and impartial principles. Unless this were the case, they would but introduce into boroughs the struggle which prevailed amongst religious sects and educational associations, and add another item to that great mass of antagonism which caused so much disturbance and confusion from time to time in our social system. They would be throwing down a prize of public money in a borough, for the different sects and denominations, Churches and religions, and school bodies to contend for, as they assuredly would contend; and that in a manner which would in some sort desecrate education, by mixing it up with the topics of political strife. In another way this partial levying of the rate would be very inexpedient. The noble Lord gave—as one reason amongst others for maintaining this mixed system of payments by the children, of benevolent contributions, and of public support—the fact that nearly 500,000l. was now contributed towards schools by the children's pence. But looking a little closely to this contribution, large as it appeared, some very material deductions must be made from it. It was called "children's pence;" but they, were not to understand from this that only a penny was paid for each child; for many of them, three, four, or six times that sum was paid. In fact, there was such a payment made as would entitle the children to instruction at a private school. Then, it should be remembered that a great portion of this money was not devoted to the extension of education, but simply to the transfer of education. At the time when there was so much enthusiasm about the Bell and Lancasterian systems, private schools, and many of them respectable ones, that had been pursuing their useful career for years, were actually demolished by the zeal with which schools on these then new systems, were raised by public contributions. This was carried to such an extent, that, in some parts of the country, humanity compelled the founders of these new schools actually to pension off for a time the teachers who had before that lived by the exercise of their skill and talents in education. No small portion of this 500,000l. was money that would be paid under any system; it was money which parents willingly paid for the instruction of their children, and which they would pay to private schools if there were no public or denominational schools in existence. How were these parents dealt with by the proposition of the noble Lord? If a borough rate were levied it would fall most heavily on this very class, who were now making sacrifices in order to secure education for their children. Those beyond that circle would be where they were, and those who should be rather relieved and assisted by a school rate than otherwise, would find this rate added to the pence which would be expected of them for their children. He could not but feel disappointed that the noble Lord had not grappled with the great difficulty of this question. He should not have expected that one who had signalised himself so much by his moral courage on great occasions, would have shrunk from meeting a difficulty which must be met, and which must be overcome, before any system of national instruction could be established which would be really worthy of the name. What was that difficulty? The term "secular education" had been made a perfect bugbear in this country. The notion had been run away with that there was a set of persons who wished to exclude religion from the training of the children of this country. Such a notion did not argue so much wrongheadedness as a total deprivation of the moral sense. He believed there were no such persons amongst those who had been most forward in recommending what was called the secular system. These were as thoroughly convinced as others that there was no such thing as education without the religious element; but the question was how that element was best to be infused. That was the question, and no other. They thought—and they were countenanced by his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury in thinking so—that the clergyman was a better trainer in religion than the schoolmaster. And this difficulty had already been surmounted. What did the noble Lord say to the plan which his own Government and other Governments had supported in Ireland? Was not the division of labour there as complete as it could well be made? Had we not there the admixture of children whose parents were of various religions in the same school, harmoniously mingling, and all making progress? Did not many of those who examined the schools, pastors of different sects and religions, render their clearest and strongest testimony to the religious proficiency of those children, as well as their attainments in secular knowledge? The difficulty was not surmounted there only, but in our own colony of Canada. There the school system had sprung up into a rapid and most honourable maturity. In Upper Canada one in six of the entire population was actually at school; these restrictions and struggles were not known; the reading of the Bible at the commencement of the school was made a voluntary action; and the result of rendering it voluntary ought to recommend the principle, for out of 3,000 schools 2,000 had adopted it, and the number was regularly on the increase. The Bible, so used, would show itself a book of much more power over the minds both of children and their parents, than it possibly could if it were enforced by legal enactments and formal instruction. In the United States also there was exhibited the same triumph over this same supposed insuperable difficulty. With regard to all these instances, effectively in Canada, in the United States pre-eminently, and satisfactorily in Ireland, the religious character of the children might not only fairly compete with that of the children in our own Church and denominational schools, but, unless the testimony which was thought most reliable was deceptive, it deserved to be ranked in a very much higher degree. He had felt, too, somewhat disappointed at not perceiving in the noble Lord's scheme a more direct and distinct tendency towards the improvement as well as the extension of education. He had hoped for something more on this point, because the noble Lord, some time ago, in promising the measure he had now introduced, spoke of it, not as a large plan of public instruction, but as tending to the improvement of education—that is, to raise the schools of our country to what they ought to be. Whatever praise might be bestowed upon them, he believed them to be generally in a most unsatisfactory condition. It was nearly, if not quite, the universal testimony of Her Majesty's inspectors, that the schools fell far short of that which they ought to accomplish. He thought it was the Rev. Mr. Moseley who had said that it would really be scarcely a subject of gratification to the earnest friends of education if all the children in the country were in the schools that now existed, supposing those schools not to rise far above their present character. One suggestion of the noble Lord's he thought was connected with a great mistake on this subject. He spoke of applying the proceeds of the rate to rural schools, and in proportion to the attendance of the children. Many schools mustered a large attendance which was a most unprofitable one. The irregularity of that attendance, and the shortness of the time during which the children were at school, rendered it a mere nominal affair; and what little was gained there was forgotten in the first years of youth. To make the application of national grants most conducive to the improvement of education, remuneration should be given, not in reference to the number of children, or the mere amount of attendance, but in reference to the attainment; that it should be the result of something like an inquiry by the inspectors into what was actually taught. Let all the schools retain their present denominational character if they would; but if they were always rewarded in this way, if the amount were proportioned to the amount of education actually realised in the school, that would be a stimulus which would operate very strongly indeed towards raising the character of education. Perhaps, as the noble Lord's plan proceeded, it might be found practicable to apply a stimulus of another description, which he believed would operate very well—if the hope of enjoying the rights of citizenship and attaining to political suffrage were connected with a certain progress in the instruction communicated at our schools. Nor did he observe, except in reference to training institutions, anything which tended to improve education by raising the character and position of the schoolmaster, a measure which was very much wanted indeed in this country. He feared that if this mixed system of children's pence, benevolent contributions, and public rates was to be established, schoolmasters would, as to their remuneration, remain what they were; and their emoluments throughout the country were such that no man of educated mind, and such habits as were desirable to be possessed by those who had really the training of children, could live on the paltry amount. They should be placed in a better position as to their revenues, and also as to their independence; for the schoolmaster was too often subject to the control of those who were by no means able to aid his exertions, or to correct his errors. This was a subject on which a deep interest was felt throughout the country. He could not but hope that, as the discussion upon it proceeded, the scheme would enlarge itself, so as to become more comprehensive, more general, more worthy of the name of national; and certainly, in recognising the principle of a rate, the noble Lord had laid the foundation of an edifice which might do honour to his own name, and redound to the glory and welfare of the country.


said, he could not but consider it as a subject for great gladness and joy on the part of the country that no less a sum than 500,000l. was annually contributed in pence by the poor towards the education of their children. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. W. Fox), however, was mistaken in supposing that the noble Lord the Member for London was in error in conveying the idea to the House that this sum was literally contributed in pence by the poor, for, generally speaking, the fact was as the noble Lord had stated it, and not as the hon. Member had stated it. The subject of the education of the poor was one which had closely engaged his attention for many years past; so much so—and he did not see that he needed to blush for mentioning it in that House—that for the last thirty years there had not been thirty Sabbaths on which he had not been engaged in instructing the poor in Sunday schools. The system which was adopted—at least in the neighbourhood where he resided, was this—that when only one child came from a family, 2d. a week was charged for it; but when there were more than one child, only 1d. was charged. In no case was the charge more than 2d. Consequently the statement of the noble Lord was strictly true, that the vast sum which had been referred to was produced entirely by the poor, in consequence of the interest which they took in the welfare and education of their children. He wished to know what the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) and the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) meant when they talked of excluding religion from the schools? If they meant that they would not permit the Bible to be introduced into the schools, he could only say that he would do every thing he could to oppose their views; for be could not believe that any system of education could be considered a national benefit which excluded the Bible. He had no desire to enforce sectarian religion upon any one, but he must insist upon the reading of the word of God. He wished to know, also, what the hon. Member for Montrose meant when he said that he was opposed to the giving of religious instruction in the schools, but that he would teach the children to control their passions and govern their conduct? He (Mr. Ball) appealed to the House to say whether there was any mode more efficient for controlling their passions and governing their conduct than instructing the children in the precepts and principles of the Bible? He would ask them, also, whether they could name any heathen nation that had ever been distinguished for its morality, or whether they had ever known any moral people who had not drawn their morality from the word of God? He hoped, therefore, that the Government would never give their assent, much less their authority and sanction, to any system of education which excluded the word of God.


said, he must presume, from the state of the benches, that there was a silent contract that there should be no debate on the present occasion; and he did not anticipate anything more than the scattered shots which had been fired from one side of the House to the other, and which led to no general engagement. But as a majority of those discharged bullets or pellets, whichever they might be, were on the whole favourable to the propositions of the noble Lord, and as he was not happy enough to agree even with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the city of Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) except as to the impossibility of uniting secular and religious education, he felt bound to state his own opinion, that no corporate towns whatever would ever support a rate when the separate education was to be given in separate schools by different religious bodies. He was quite sure, also, the experience of every man who had sat in that House for the last fifteen years would satisfy him that there was no hope for any Government which could attempt to introduce a system of secular education as national education, or on that particular point to introduce a school rate. His noble Friend the leader of Her Majesty's Government in that House had given notice that to-day he should call their attention to the state of education in England and Wales; and any one would have thought that the subject was sufficiently large to fill the grasp of any mind; but his noble Friend, whose courage, not only in legislation, but in all political action, was proverbial, had taken the opportunity to introduce the whole question of the charities of England, and the reforms therein which he thought were necessary; and although it could not be denied that the term "education" included the two Universities, no preparatory intimation had been made that the two Universities would form any portion of the discussion to-night, or of the statement of the noble Lord. He would so far act upon his conviction of the tacit understanding that there should be no debate, as not to violate it by any further remarks on the three points to which the noble Lord had called the attention of the House. But as hon. Members had expressed, some a more modified, and some a more general adhesion to the propositions of the noble Lord, he felt bound to state that in all which had reference to the Universities he differed from him; and he gave him warning that in those propositions the noble Lord must not expect any support from him. The noble Lord had given the Universities to understand that he required four different measures; and if the Universities concurred with him and supplied him without any trouble with all the measures so required, he should be content; but he gave them distinctly to understand, under penalty of peine forte et dure, first, that they must change their system of government; next, that they must give a pre-eminence to the professorial over the tutorial system; thirdly, that they must admit to residence and instruction in the Universities those who were not bound to the Universities by the relation to a college or hall; and, fourthly, that whatever wills of particular founders attached particular fellowships to a particular parish, county, or diocese, all was to be swept away, that a different plan might be carried out, and the funds dedicated in a former age to the maintenance of scholars from one county, be transferred to education in another county. With respect to these propositions, the Government must not expect any support from him: and, with regard to the general subject, he thought there were great difficulties and many objections, which, at the proper opportunity, he should take the liberty of submitting to the House. At present, he was only anxious to liberate himself from the suspicion that, if silent, he did not oppose: believing, as he did, that he should have betrayed his duty if at the earliest moment he had not given vent to his feelings and opinions on the propositions which the noble Lord had submitted with respect to the Universities.


begged to express an earnest hope that the scheme of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) might meet all the success which its modest merit seemed to demand. He would not have said a word on the subject, but from some observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson). That right hon. Gentleman had put a question, couched in such language that it induced him (Lord J. Manners) to make a few remarks. The right hon. Gentleman asked the noble Lord a question respecting a Minute of the late Government upon education, and in so doing seemed to labour under a very great misapprehension. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the effect of that Minute was to place the management of all schools in England under the sole control of the clergyman of the parish. Nor did the answer of the noble Lord at all remove this misapprehension; his not doing so gave a sort of currency to the erroneous notion under which the right hon. Gentleman laboured. The right hon. Gentleman was certainly mistaken. The sole object of the Minute was to remove what the late Government believed to be a gross violation of the rights of conscience, and was only actuated by an endeavour to promote sound religious education. It was felt, that by the Minutes affecting the management of schools as they then stood, this was the state of things —that whilst founders of schools belonging to the Church of Rome had full liberty to constitute trusts for educational purposes, in accordance with the views of members of their own faith, the same privilege was not granted to members of the Church of England, who, whether lay or ecclesiastical, could not impose and maintain the control of the clergymen in matters affecting morality as well as religious teaching. He could not see how the Minute to which the right hon. Gentleman referred infringed, in the slightest degree, upon the principles of civil and religious liberty: its object was to carry out the real intention of the founders of the schools, and that aid might be given by the State in due proportion to schools so founded. The noble Lord appeared to take the same view as the right hon. Gentleman. He remembered an occasion upon which the noble Lord expressed great indignation at the Minutes of the late Government having been issued without the sanction of Parliament having been asked. The noble Lord then asked if the Government proposed to issue certain Minutes upon the question of education without consulting Parliament. He (Lord J. Manners) now asked whether it was the intention of the present Government to bring that Minute which was meant to cancel the Minute of the 12th of June, 1852, and the other new Minutes under the attention of Parliament—and whether they were to be put in force before they received that discussion which their great importance seemed so well to merit? He would also ask the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer, not seeing the noble Lord in his place, to explain the nature of the Bill as regarded its extent—whether it was meant in any manner to apply to Scotland; and, if so, whether the ragged schools in the large towns of Scotland would be enabled to participate in the increased grant. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would also state, with respect to that part of the scheme which proposed to give the Committee of Privy Council certain powers with reference to charitable trusts, whether it was intended to bring in a separate Bill for each case in which the Committee of Privy Council might propose to vary a particular trust, or whether, at the end of every Session, it was the intention of Government to bring in a general measure, sanctioning the alterations of the Committee of Council? To these questions he trusted the Government would give a definite answer. He could only say, for his own part, that he was anxious full justice should be done to the course which the late Government adopted last year. When a fitting opportunity offered, he would be ready to vindicate the wisdom of that course, and to refute the imputations of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) or any one else who might question the expediency or propriety of that step.


said, he thought the House could not be too grateful to the noble Lord for introducing this subject at this early period of the Session, and, extensive as were the changes proposed, he believed that, when the measure came to be placed before the public, the people would be found outrunning the Government, and showing that they were far in advance of them on the subject. The question naturally divided itself into two heads—upon one of which alone the noble Lord had touched on that occasion—upon the other, and that the most difficult point, the noble Lord had been entirely silent. With respect to those who were willing to participate in the benefits of education, there could be little difficulty; but there was another class to which he begged to invite the attention of the House and the Government, and that was the class who did not want to participate in those benefits, and with respect to whom it was worthy of consideration whether some compulsory education should not be provided. It must be familiar to all who were engaged in the administration of criminal justice, whether as advocates or Judges, in both of which capacities, however humbly, he was himself engaged, that there was growing up, in the midst of our civilisation, a class of people more like wild beasts than men—a class almost savage in their habits, and he must say, in almost every respect, degraded to the rank of savages by their ignorance of social, religious, and intellectual knowledge; and if the Government were not prepared to apply some strong measure to this state of things, the end would be—though it might not be in our time—that there would be a frightful disorganisation of society. No one, indeed, could advert to the vast number of persons roaming about our streets without any other means of support than that of preying on their fellow-subjects, without seeing that their case presented a frightful question. He, for one, would be the last to propose that the Legislature should meddle unnecessarily with the independence of the subject; but if they had a right to say to the owners of property that they were not entitled to hold that property without maintaining those who were unable to maintain themselves, he held that they had equally a right to say that they were not entitled to hold that property without attempting to bring to the knowledge of the gospel, and of their social and moral relations, those who were not provided for by their parents or friends. He hoped, therefore, that the Government—and if not the Government, some old and experienced Member of the House—would be prepared to invite the attention of the House to this great question; and he felt sure that, however stringent the measure that might be proposed, and whatever expense it might involve, the people generally would approve of it, and be ready to make the greatest sacrifices in its support; for, looking at it in a mere pecuniary point of view, he believed it would be found amply to repay the expenditure. Upon the higher estimate they would reap the greatest and noblest benefit in elevating the social character of the nation, and rescuing their fellow-men from the most abject degradation. He confessed that there was one part of the noble Lord's speech with which he had been exceedingly disappointed. There could be no doubt that, with relation to education, the middle and upper classes had in many instances usurped the rights of the lower. There could be no doubt that those who, in dark and unenlightened times, made provision for the pauperes et indigentes of the realm, meant that that provision should be a support and a prop to the institutions of the country; that it should point out to the lower classes of the community, that by means of these noble educational institutions they might rise to the highest posts in the country, and that it should give them an interest in maintaining the institutions of their country. Those intentions, however, had been frustrated by the introduction into our great schools of persons of a higher rank and ampler means than the founders had intended; and he saw no trace in the noble Lord's speech, from beginning to end, of any remedy for this crying evil and grave injustice. He regretted that the schools of Westminster, Winchester, and Eton were allowed to escape from the cognisance of the Court of Chancery under the Bill of 1818, and that they could not now be brought under the dominion of the law. It was true that there were visitors to those schools; but they thought that they had no original powers, and had consequently been of little use. The schools had gone on from year to year, he would not say without great internal im- provement, but still very imperfectly; and, owing to the improvements which had taken place, not so much to the foundations as to the benevolence of private benefactors. He would appeal to every man in that House who had been educated at Eton whether that institution had not owed more of late years to the piety and munificence of the late Duke of Newcastle than to the founder Henry VI.? When he first had the honour of participating in the advantages of that school, there was no inducement to competition and emulation; but the noble Duke, with a benevolence and far-sightedness which would lead his memory to be held in high regard even by those educated at Eton, who differed from him most widely on political questions, did much to raise Eton in the scale of schools, although ample means were left by the founder, which, if properly applied, would have led to the same result. He would ask, however, whether this was a state in which the great public schools of this country ought to be left? Ought they, with ample revenues, to trust to the benevolence of individuals to do that which might have been done ages ago if the wills of the benefactors had been properly called out? He believed the country would not be satisfied until the managers of such educational institutions were required to exhibit annually to some board a balance-sheet showing how they had applied their funds, and which would afford means of ascertaining whether the intentions of the founders had been fully and fairly carried into effect. He need only remind the House of the great scandal and disgrace reflected upon those who conducted such educational institutions, by the late litigation in which the Dean and Chapter of Rochester were concerned with a person whose public spirit surmounted great obstacles, and at last brought those persons to a sense of the duty they had so long neglected. He did not think the noble Lord had intimated an intention to propose any measures which would prevent such misapplication of funds. In his (Mr. Phinn's) opinion, inspector-ships ought to be provided, not only for schools supported by the bounty of the State, but also for those which owed their means to the bounty of private benefactors. They had had inquiries into the management of the lower classes of schools and charities, as wellas in to the Universities; but the public schools, which were essentially connected with the Universities, had been omitted. Eton was connected with King's College; and Winchester with New College; but were the affairs of Eton and King's College to be investigated, while Winchester and New College escaped? He believed the public owed much to the present Government for the appointment of the Provost of Eton, who, he had no doubt, would carry out as far as he could the improvements required in that college. The Provost would certainly meet with opposition and resistance; but he must be strengthened and supported by the power of Parliament, who should see that the funds were applied in consonance with what it might be supposed would have been the wishes of the founders had they lived in the present age. In many cases the revenues of these colleges had increased ten or twenty fold; but the identical sum mentioned by the founders was all that was applied to the purposes of education, while those who administered the funds swept the increased revenue into their own pockets. Would the noble Lord allow such a state of things to continue? He did not say that such a system prevailed at Eton, or Winchester, but it had clearly existed at Rochester, and no doubt existed in many other instances. He agreed with much that had fallen from the noble Lord with reference to the Universities; but he thought the noble Lord was more timid than his own Commissioners, who were men of great distinction, of cautious spirit, and who entertained the deepest veneration for the Universities. Those Commissioners had, however, exposed abuses which he would not hesitate to say could not be found in any other country of the civilised world. At Oxford the intentions of the pious founders of Magdalen and All Souls were neglected, and the colleges were converted into mere clubs, which, in proportion to their revenues, sent forth no persons of learning or distinction in the State. Those revenues might be most beneficially applied if they were restored to the purposes for which they were originally bestowed; and he considered that a radical and sweeping reform was necessary, which the Universities themselves could not be expected either to originate or to sanction. Parliament ought to follow up the recommendations of the Commissioners, which, if fairly carried out, would place those institutions on their right basis. He conceived that the object of such institutions was not merely to educate the upper classes, but the great mass of the people of the country. If they looked back three or four centuries to Oxford, with 30,000 students, and then looked at the present condition of that University, he thought no one would maintain that the existing state of things could be tolerated. The hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. H. Inglis) had said that the noble Lord was not to expect any assistance from him. That hon. Baronet represented Old Oxford; but he (Mr. Phinn) had no doubt the noble Lord would receive the assistance of Young Oxford, for he believed that many of the fellows and tutors of the various colleges were impressed with the necessity of some more sweeping reform than that indicated by the noble Lord. He claimed for Dissenters the right, not only to education at Oxford, but also to participation in the pecuniary advantages and honours of the University. It was idle to tell him that by doing so the funds of the University would be diverted from the purposes for which they were intended. They were intended for Roman Catholics, and they were now appropriated to Protestant uses. He hoped that, if not this year or the next, at an early period, the noble Lord would be able to present to the country a great, sound, and comprehensive system of national education, which would be the most enduring monument of his name, because exceeding in its ultimate results those political advantages which he had been instrumental in bestowing upon the nation.


said, that the measure of education which the noble Lord had signified his intention to bring forward, was, in his (Mr. Wigram's) opinion, one which deserved the favourable consideration of that House. The purpose of the noble Lord seemed to be to succour a system which had already been tried, and which had produced very admirable results, without disturbing that peace and goodwill which it was so desirable should prevail among all classes of the nation. Such a measure, if it proved to be of that kind, would meet with his (Mr. Wigram's) support. With reference to the statement which had been made by the noble Lord upon the subject of improvements in the constitution of the Universities, he hailed with satisfaction that portion of the statement which intimated that it was the intention of Government to leave the consideration of the improvements suggested to the deliberation of the Universities themselves. But he (Mr. Wigram) deprecated strongly some observations which seemed to imply that if the Universities did not adopt certain measures, the Government were prepared to force those measures upon them. Such observations were at variance with the spirit of the other observations of the noble Lord. The very object of leaving such matters to the consideration of the Universities was, that the House might know the genuine sentiments of those resident in the Universities. If Her Majesty's Ministers meant to intitate that they had already come to definite conclusions upon the subject, that seemed inconsistent with the plan of asking the opinions of members of the Universities upon the matter. Some of the points involved were subjects of very delicate consideration. One was the introduction of students into the Universities unconnected with the colleges. Now that was a question by which the wellbeing of the University might be very materially affected. It was a question upon which very considerable difference of opinion prevailed, and one upon which many persons best acquainted with the Universities dissented from the views which had been put forward by the Government. He thought the University of Cambridge had every claim to have their sentiments consulted upon subjects connected with the welfare of that institution. The report of the Cambridge Commissioners showed that an institution might exist for centuries, and yet be little overrun with the rust which time was apt to accumulate. The Report was a history of a series of improvements made often at great personal sacrifice to those who were interested in the revenues of that University. He trusted that nothing which had fallen from the noble Lord was to be regarded as an intimation that the fullest opportunity would not be afforded to those who were interested in the matter to consider a subject of so much importance, and that the Government did not mean to press a foregone conclusion upon the University of Cambridge.


said, he ventured to address a few words to the House, because some years ago he had the honour to hold a very subordinate situation in the administration of the University of Oxford, as a Tutor of Merton College. He must be allowed to express his regret that the noble Lord had not referred to an educational institution in the district with which he (Mr. Blackett) was connected, and which he believed required reform quite as much as either Oxford or Cambridge—he meant the University of Durham. He was informed, on authority which he believed to be unimpeachable, that that University had succeeded in a comparatively short period in attaining the same perfection of mismanagement which distinguished Oxford and Cambridge. The University of Durham was conducted upon the same exclusively ecclesiastical system; the professorial system, as he was informed, had fallen as completely into abeyance as at Oxford; the collegiate system had superseded that of the University; and the scientific lectures were as scantily attended as at Oxford or Cambridge. The last circumstance was, he thought, most unfortunate, because the University of Durham was regarded at its establishment as likely to supply a want very much felt in the colliery districts with regard to a school for mining and engineering purposes. The reforms pointed out by the Commissioners appeared to him to divide themselves into two heads: first, those which were absolutely impossible without the assistance of Parliament; and, secondly, those which the Universities and colleges themselves had the power to effect, though it might be doubted, as the Commissioners said, whether they had the will. With regard to the first of these points, he understood that the noble Lord, although fully recognising the importance of Parliamentary legislation on the subject, did not state that he intended to bring forward any measure this year. Now, he (Mr. Blackett) recollected that the Queen's Speech at the opening of the Session contained an allusion to the Report of the Commissioners, and, though no Ministerial declaration was made on the part of Lord Derby's Government, there was a general impression that some enabling Bill would have been introduced. He (Mr. Blackett) could not but regret that, in this respect, the cause of University reform was worse off than when the hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition benches were in power. With regard to the second class of reforms, he agreed with the observations of the noble Lord as to admitting independent students to the Universities, the extension of the professorial system, and the removal of restrictions relating to fellowships. He was more especially delighted with the opinions expressed by the noble Lord, as they contrasted emphatically with the opinions expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1850, when that right hon. Gentleman, in reply to the advocates of University reform, asked the House what they would think of appointing a Prime Minister or a Commander-in-Chief by examination? He understood the noble Lord proposed that time should be given to the Universities to see how they intended to act, and that if they did not make satisfactory proposals on certain points, the noble Lord would invoke the aid of Parliament. But time was the very thing which the Oxford Conservatives wanted to gain; but which nothing would induce him to grant, because he was convinced that they would make as bad a use of it as they did before. This demand for time was not new. The hon. Baronet (Sir R. H. Inglis), who was the senior representative of the University of Oxford, expressed great alarm at what the noble Lord had said he would do if the University did not act; but the hon. Baronet's apprehensions were unfounded, for if the noble Lord did not strike while the iron was hot, all internal dissensions would be appeased, and Oxford would again present the same unbroken front to improvement which it had always done. Now, in 1834 or 1835, he believed, the question of University reform was brought before the House of Lords by the Earl of Radnor, who was met by a statement from the late Duke of Wellington that the University body of Oxford had entered on the reconsideration of their statutes, and that the colleges were proposing to do so likewise. From that time, however, until the appearance of the Commissioners' Report, he (Mr. Blackett) did not believe that a single step was taken on the subject by any Oxford college; and he thought, therefore, the experience of the past would justify them in refusing this demand for time. He had not the slightest authority to speak in the name of the Commissioners, and with many of them he had no personal acquaintance; but he would venture to ask the noble Lord whether the Commissioners approved of the delay which lie proposed to grant to the University of Oxford? He (Mr. Blackett) found a passage in the Report of the Commissioners which seemed to show conclusively what their opinion was. They said— In regard to the colleges, we would especially urge the immediate necessity of opening the fellowships and scholarships, of attaching professorships to certain scholarships, of increasing the number and value of scholarships, of granting to the colleges the power of altering their statutes, and, above all, of prohibiting, as unlawful, the oath to observe the statutes. The House was aware that the inquiries of the Commissioners were, on many occasions, met by the reply that the oaths to observe the statutes—oaths most shamefully broken in many cases—prevented the questions proposed in the name of Her Majesty from being answered. There were, he supposed, every year, not less than thirty or forty fellowships and other offices of emolument vacant in the University, on admission to which the oath of perpetual observance of the statutes was regularly taken. Every step taken by the University authorities since the appointment of the Commission ought to be a warning to Parliament not to give them time. No doubt there was an enactment of reforms in the studies, but that was a resolution previous to the issue of the Commission, and therefore was not in point. What was the reception which the University of Oxford afforded to the Royal Commissioners? The Commissioners stated that —"the governing body had withheld from them the information which they sought from the University through the Vice-Chancellor, as its chief resident officer; and this, as was afterwards intimated to them, with the distinct purpose of disputing Her Majesty's Commission; and they had, consequently, to deal with round numbers instead of exact figures. Only three colleges and three halls consented to give information to the Commissioners. All Souls, St. John's, and Merton, gave information; Balliol, University, Brasenose, and Magdalen absolutely declined to give any information; New College and Lincoln referred the Commissioners to the visitors; Oriel, Queen's, Trinity, and Worcester sent a simple civil acknowledgment, without vouchsafing any further answer; the Warden of Wadham did not even lay the inquiries before his college; and the Dean of Christ Church thought it consistent with respect to Her Majesty, and the courtesy due to the Royal Commissioners, to take no notice of the communication. To give the house an idea of the tone in which information was refused, he would read the letter of the Bishop of Exeter, as head of Exeter College—a letter which one would speak of as disrespectful to the Crown, if it were not rather to be characterised as savouring of ridiculous bombast:— I shall enjoin the rector, fellows, and other members of this society, under the sacred obligation of their oaths, to beware how they permit themselves to answer any inquiries or to accept any directions or interference whatsoever, which may trench upon that visitatorial authority which their statutes under the known law of the land have intrusted solely to the bishop of this see. With great personal respect for your Lordship (the Bishop of Norwich), and the most unfeigned grief to be compelled thus to address you,—I have the honour, &c. "H. EXETER. When the Commissioners had made their report, what disposition did the University authorities show to respect it? One recommendation of the Commissioners related to the application of University funds. They said— That the ordinary and unavoidable expenses of the University for its general purposes amounted to more than 7,000l., and would be greater, and its ordinary income at present could not be estimated at much more than 7,500l. a-year; that it had given, on an average of several years, about 1,200l. a year, generally speaking, in cases in which there was a fair claim on it; but in the year 1850 it made further grants amounting to 2,500l. for colonial bishoprics and the university of Toronto. The Commissioners added— We are of opinion that the University ought not to spend on objects not academical. And, after enumerating several desirable modes of applying academic funds, said— Till all these objects are attained, it would seem advisable that the University should not disperse its resources. That was a very moderate recommendation. Yet, when an occasion arose, doubtless having great claims upon the sympathy of all Oxford men—the subscription for a testimonial in honour of the late Duke of Wellington—under the solemn obligation of their trust in regard to academic funds, and with this year's surplus already mortgaged for the diocesan training school, they voted 500l. as their subscription to the memorial. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) very justly regarded as the most valuable of the Commissioners' recommendations that of the extension of the University to students, without exacting the condition of admission to separate colleges. Make what sumptuary laws you pleased, with a young man launched into the society of others of his own age, you could never screw down his expenses to that moderate sum which was within reach of a large class whom one would wish to see admitted to the benefits of the University; whereas if he could hire a garret, and proceed as in Edinburgh or Aberdeen, where a young man might even pursue some handicraft, he could live far more economically. This also would be the only way to make provision for members of the large and increasing class of "pupil-teachers," who, not de- voting themselves to the profession of schoolmasters, or not finding employment, would possess a high standard of intellectual refinement with very small pecuniary resources. The Tutorial Association, which had considered the recommendations of the Commissioners, and put forward a separate scheme, had steadily refused to sanction this most important proposal; and that was a specimen of the way in which Oxford, left to itself, would emasculate any proposals of reform. The only practical effect of the waiting system which the noble Lord proposed, would be to postpone the period when the difference must break out between the large and manly views of the noble Lord, and those which the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had expressed with regard to the Universities. He (Mr. Blackett) must lament what he thought a most unfortunate concession. He must express his serious apprehension that the main obstacle to real university reform would be the existence of a coalition Cabinet.


Sir, I do not mean to follow the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down by adverting to the attacks which he has made upon men of the highest honour, who have long been engaged in considering what steps can be taken for the improvement of the Universities. I wish to give some information to the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Manners) with respect to one or two questions which he put to the Government. The noble Lord asked whether there would be any objection to lay on the table of the House the Minute of Council, which it was intended to substitute for the Minute of June 12th, 1852. In reply, I have to state that there will be no objection whatever to produce it. But the noble Lord has not given an accurate description of the Minute of June 12th, 1852. He said it was a grievance under which the founders of Church of England schools laboured, that they were not allowed to constitute the trusts of those schools in a manner agreeable to their own convictions, while that liberty was given to the founders of Roman Catholic schools. But the Minute of the 12th of June, 1852, did not say that the founders of Church of England schools were at liberty to found them upon any scheme that they might think fit. The object of the Minute of the 12th of June, 1852, if it had an object—and I cannot doubt that it had a very rational object in view—was to prevent local misunderstandings or local intrigues from interfering with the removal of a schoolmaster who might be guilty of immoral conduct. Now when the Minute adopted by the present Government appeared, it would be seen that the same object was fully attained. But I must demur to the doctrine of the noble Lord that the Minute of the 12th of June, 1852, was intended to allow the founders of Church of England schools the liberty of constituting them on any scheme they might choose; for it could never have been intended to allow the founders of these schools such a liberty—a liberty that it would be unreasonable for them to claim, and improper for any Government to grant. The noble Lord has asked, also, whether Scotland was included in this scheme. My answer is, that it is not. The views and intentions of the Government, with regard to Scotland, will be declared on a distinct occasion. The next question of the noble Lord was, whether the Bill regulating charitable trusts would provide that every separate scheme of reform was to be made the subject of a separate Act of Parliament. Now, it is not desirable to go into details on this question; it will be much better to wait for the introduction of the Bill; but I may state that the general intentions of the Government with respect to that Bill are to adopt provisions somewhat similar to those that are introduced into the General Enclosure Act. It will be necessary to come to Parliament with specific schemes of reform in those cases only where the trustees do not grant their consent to the reform. But it will not be necessary to come before Parliament with a separate Bill for every separate scheme; it will be practicable, as we think, to combine a number of separate schemes in one Act of Parliament, in the same way as is now done with separate inclosures which have one general character in common. The hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn) referred to the great schools of the country, and regretted that they were not mentioned in the speech of my noble Friend. Now, I believe I am correct in the statement, that when my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger) introduced his Bill for the settlement of charitable trusts, under that Bill it would have been competent for parties to move for any inquiry into the great schools of the country, and to the manner in which they managed the trusts committed to their charge. I believe I may also say that the great schools are included in the Bill which has been introduced into the House of Lords for the regulation of charitable trusts. It would, of course, be premature to enter into details connected with the management of these schools; but I believe it to be true that these schools do discharge offices preliminary to the functions of the Universities, and it is therefore in the natural order of things that the schemes intended for the improvement of the Universities should not take their ultimate shape before Parliament shall have taken cognisance of the condition of these schools. A great deal has been said to-night on the subject of the Universities, and my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Wigram) the Member for the University of Cambridge has spoken on the subject in that conciliatory tone, and in that tone of readiness to give a fair and candid consideration to every proposition for improvement, which I am satisfied is the best calculated for the adoption of every beneficial change, and for resistance to every dangerous innovation. With respect to the statements of my noble Friend the Member for the City of London, they require no defence and no elucidation from me. Whether they are, as was said by the hon. Gentleman who spoke last (Mr. Blackett) in contrast with what I have said here and elsewhere on the subject of Universities, I leave to him to speculate upon to his own full content and satisfaction. To the principles laid down to-night by my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) I adhere on this occasion, as I have always heretofore adhered. I concur in the view stated by my noble Friend, and I believe entertained by this House, that it ought to be the duty of the Legislature to see that the great endowments and resources with which the Universities are provided, shall be maintained for those ends and purposes for which the Universities themselves subsist, and that if there are portions of those endowments which at present lie dormant and in abeyance, and which are not available for educational purposes, it is not only desirable but it is most essential for the welfare of the Universities, that those endowments shall be dealt with by Parliament in such a manner as shall directly tend to produce the objects they were intended to serve. But if I may refer still further to the speech of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Blackett), I would say, with all deference and submis- sion to him, that his speech tended towards impeding the progress of educational reform. If the hon. Gentleman will take a suggestion from me, which has only the qualification of sincerity to recommend it, I must say that cannot conceive any course more unwise—if he is in earnest, as I have no doubt he is in his desire for change—I can conceive of no course more unwise than that which he has taken. The hon. Gentleman has not stopped short of imputing insincerity to all the resident authorities in the Universities. He said that all of them were asleep up to the time of the presenting of the Report by the University Commissioners—that was his main proposition, and on which he founded the greater portion of his observations: but then he incidentally stated in another portion of his speech, that a great and important change had taken place in the Universities with respect to the mode of examination; and that this had occurred before the Reports of the Commissioners made their appearance. And yet his main proposition is, that the Universities were asleep up to the appearance of these Reports.


But I made a distinction between the University and the colleges.


I certainly did not hear the distinction; but if he meant to take such a distinction, I have no objection to giving him the full benefit of it; only as the members of the University are composed of precisely the same persons with those that compose the colleges, it is scarcely possible that the spirit of reform should be alive in the Universities, and that at the same time the members of the colleges should be open to the severe censure of the hon. Gentleman. Be that, however, as it may, the hon. Gentleman is of opinion—which of course it is quite competent for him to entertain—that it is desirable, not only that there should be changes in the Universities, but that these changes should be introduced by extraneous authority. He says that my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) has committed a fatal error in giving time to the Universities to introduce measures of reform themselves. Sir, the Commissioners, who were not deficient in zeal and diligence, took two years, and I think very wisely, to frame their report: the period was not a bit too long. And does the hon. Gentleman think that these bodies, which I will venture to say are enjoying the respect and eonfidence of the country—for whatever may be the opinion entertained as to the changes that should take place, no one can deny that these bodies do enjoy the respect and confidence of the country. Does the hon. Gentleman think that it would be desirable to override the free and independent action of these bodies? No; that free and independent action is essential for the attainment of the end which the hon. Gentleman has himself in view. If they are to be deprived of it, I don't say that it may not be necessary, but I shall look upon it as a great misfortune. It is not only important that great changes should be introduced, but that they should be introduced with the free choice of these bodies. Nothing could be more judicious than the manner in which my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) handled this question. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Wigram) said, with reference to this point, "I hope the noble Lord is not holding out a threat to the Universities." Sir, I say that nothing could be more unwise than to hold out threats to the Universities on a question of this kind, as it is sure to evoke a spirit of opposition. On the one hand, it is too much to suppose that the Universities, or any other public bodies, can be allowed to remain the sole and absolute masters of funds committed to their control, and that Parliament is to exercise no supervision over them. I hold that Parliament must, in the last resort, interfere to control, to regulate, and to manage the revenues of any public body. But before doing so, you must give them full time to produce these salutary changes themselves. These bodies are not bodies that are asleep, nor have they been asleep. They have done much, though it is true that much remains for them to do. But is there not also much for the House of Commons to do, though many reforms have been accomplished by this House in the course of the present century? Does it follow, therefore, that the House of Commons have done nothing? or would it be just to say that this House has been asleep? It is the same case with regard to these great and ancient foundations of learning. I protest against these imputations of the hon. Gentleman. I warn the House not to act upon his doctrine—that you are not to trust these bodies with the task of reforming themselves. The question must not be dealt with in the rude spirit which the hon. Gentleman evinces. If you are to attain the end for which we all profess to be anxious, you must proceed with regularity and order, and, while vindicating the supremacy of Parliament, and not hesitating to call that supremacy into action if the occasion should arise, you must give these bodies the opportunity of introducing these reforms themselves. The hon. Gentleman says that the University of Oxford ought at once to have acted upon the recommendation of the Commissioners with respect to the administration of their property. But it is a question whether the recommendation is reasonable or not. I protest against the doctrine that because a commission has been appointed, a corporate body is bound upon its recommendation so soon as it is made. I tell the hon. Gentleman that corporate bodies are bound to submit to reasonable suggestions according to their sense and their reason, and not the reason of the hon. Gentleman. They are bound to submit to the law, but they are not bound to submit to the views of the Commissioners as to the interpretation of the law. I hope that the statements of my noble Friend will be taken from his own speech, and not from the construction put upon it by the hon. Gentleman. Reference was made to what was stated by my noble Friend, in connexion with the introduction of students to the Universities that are not members of colleges. But it was forgotten by my hon. Friend and Colleague (Sir R. H. Inglis), and also by the hon. Member who spoke last, that my noble Friend also said that the manner in which these students were to be introduced, must not be such as to weaken or relax the discipline of the Universities. This reservation is one of the most important kind, and it opens up the question whether the view which the hon. Gentleman takes is one that would relax the discipline of the Universities. However that may be, it is far from my intention to follow the hon. Gentlemen in the extreme and unmerited asperity which he displayed against a body of men who are honestly and zealously engaged in the great work of education. I trust the House will steadily adhere to the great object which has been set before it—that it will give the Universities fair and full time for the adoption of measures calculated to attain that end, of course reserving to itself the right and the duty of seeing that all inferior authorities dis- charge the functions with which they are entrusted—if willingly, then without interference; if not, then, and only then, resorting to the necessary steps of compulsion.


said, he must beg to explain that he only said that the Minute of the 12th of June, 1852, gave the same liberty to the founders of English schools as was given to the founders of Roman Catholic schools, with respect to the removal of teachers.


said, he was persuaded that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had no idea of ignoring the class of Sunday-school teachers in the country, though he had not mentioned them in his speech. But the House ought to be aware that there were 2,000,000 children at present under Sunday-school instruction, and that there were 200,000 gratuitous teachers. In Manchester alone, 7,000 teachers and 70,000 scholars had been arrayed before Her Majesty on occasion of her visit to that city. With respect to the measure before the House, he approved of the noble Lord's proposition to transfer the control of the education fund from the Imperial Government into the hands of the municipal bodies. He would also throw out a hint, which was first made by a Derbyshire manufacturer, that before a child was employed at any factory, he should produce a certificate that he had at least mastered the rudiments of education. This, he thought, would stimulate parents to provide for the education of their children.

Leave given.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Lord John Russell, and Mr. Secretary at War.