§ House in Committee.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding 263,000l., be granted to Her Majesty, for Public Education in Great Britain, to the 31st day of March, 1855.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
In rising, Sir, to move the educational Votes for Great Britain, I shall have a short explanation to give to the Committee, but I shall not think it necessary to make many remarks on these Estimates, for the principle upon which these Votes are founded is well known, and no change has taken place in the character of the Estimates. The whole amount proposed to be voted for public education in Great Britain for the present year is 263,000l., but there is a balance from former Votes of 80,873l., so that the sum proposed to be expended up to the 31st of March next is 343,873l. The Committee are well aware that the principle on which these Estimates have been founded for many years, is not the principle of providing generally for the education of the people at large, but rather a system of assisting the volunary efforts that may be made by the various religious denominations for that purpose. In adopting that principle, we are, of course, obliged to adopt the plan which those persons may choose for themselves in forming their schools. We do not pretend to furnish the whole of the funds, and we cannot, therefore, dictate the terms and conditions upon which the education is given. The question was how, by extending this Vote, we could confer the blessings of education in the best manner? Now, it appeared to the Government, some years 960 ago, that a much greater advantage would be derived by improving the character of the education given than by effecting a very great increase in its amount. A few years ago the education given in the schools of the poor was of a very low, insufficient, and unsatisfactory kind. In 1839, and still more by a Minute of Council in 1846, various plans were suggested and have been adopted for the improvement of the quality of the education given. I stated on one of these occasions, in 1839, that the great point we had to look to was an improvement in the education and in the character of the schoolmaster—that as was the schoolmaster so would be the school, and we have, therefore, since that period directed our efforts to that end. Great labour has consequently been bestowed with the view of giving efficient instead of inefficient assistance. Instead of monitors, who were part of the system both of Bell and Lancaster, we have adopted the better system of having assistant pupil teachers, which has answered extremely well, and has greatly improved the quality of the education given. Of late years these pupil teachers have greatly increased in numbers. In 1850 there were 1,717 schools, with 4,600 pupil teachers; in 1851, 2,066 schools, and 5,607 pupil teachers; in 1852, 2,277 schools, and 6,180 pupil teachers; and in 1853, 2,546 schools, and 6,912 pupil teachers—these pupil teachers representing 280,000 children taught in these schools. But the benefit derived from these pupil teachers has not been confined solely to the improvement of the character of the schools and the quality of the education given in them. The poorer classes have derived great benefit from their sons receiving incomes averaging about 18l. per annum for their merit and talents, and time parents have considered themselves raised in the social scale from these advantages and have derived a great deal of satisfaction in seeing their children distinguish themselves in these schools, and making a progress in the world that was creditable to themselves. This is a Vote, therefore, which may be given with very great satisfaction by the Committee. The Vote under this head of grants, to pay the annual stipends of pupil teachers and gratuities to the schoolmasters and schoolmistresses instructing them, this year amounts to 130,000l. It is not necessary that I should say much upon the sums of money proposed to be granted under the heads which have formerly ap- 961 peared in the Estimates. There is at the beginning of the Estimate a Vote for assisting the building of schools, elementary and normal, and it was determined by the minute of last year that a larger proportion of assistance should be given for this purpose in places where the poverty of the district was such that the inhabitants were unable to collect a sum sufficient for this purpose. There is also an increase of 500l. in the Vote for the articles of books and maps. Another item in the Estimate is the support of training schools. A few years ago there was but the one training school at Battersea, and that was very incomplete; but both the Church of England and the other religious denominations have very much exerted themselves in promoting the establishment of training schools. An increased number, both of young men and young women, who have been educated for schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, have received in these training schools a much higher education than they could otherwise have obtained. The average cost of the education given in these training schools is about 40l., the young men costing about 50l. each per annum, and the young women something under 30l. The Government contribute about 20,000l. to these training schools. They are now twenty-nine in number, and the annual expenditure of these training schools altogether may be reckoned at about 60,000l. a year, so that the sum contributed by the public is about one-third of the whole. I have a few words to add as to the establishment at Kneller Hall, for which a sum is proposed to be voted. The original intention was to have a training school there, and a model school for the education and reformation of convicts. It appears that there are difficulties in the way of the establishment of a model school for the education of convicts; but I have been communicating lately with my noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department as to his opinion upon what had best be done for the future with regard to a convict school. My noble Friend is of opinion that a penal school would be desirable, and, if desirable, the best mode of effecting it will be by attaching a school to Keller Hall; so that those who are trained in that school may have the advantage of a training specially adapted to the education and reformation of convicts. No Vote, however, will be taken for this specific object, and no plan has yet been proposed. Upon the general question of education, it is not 962 proposed to alter, in any way, the system which has been approved by this House. I will not enter upon those questions which have been matters of controversy, but I hope before any long time elapses that there will be a greater concurrence of opinion than there is now with respect to the important subject of education. For, although it is shown by the Census of education which has lately appeared, as far as statistical tables went, that there has been very great progress made in the quantity of education given in the country, and that whilst in the year 1818 there was but one in seventeen of the population receiving instruction, the proportion has now increased to one in eight, or one in eight or nine; yet our general knowledge and experience of particular localities, and especially of those districts which were most populous, only too clearly proves that a less favourable state of thing exists in many places than the statistical returns, giving general averages, would lead us to infer. Whether we take the case of London, or any of the large and populous towns throughout the country, or whether, again, we take the rural parishes, we shall find that there are a very great number of young children who are not receiving instruction, and also a great number of persons who have grown up to be adults without possessing the commonest elements of education. This can only be regarded as a very unsatisfactory state of this question. The evil is one which is no doubt diminished by the great amount of voluntary contributions and voluntary efforts that have been made; yet I fear it presents a state of things which cannot be wholly reached by voluntary exertions unsupported by assistance from the State. At the same time I must confess that unless there is a prospect of a greater concurrence of opinion on the subject of education, and more especially on those religious points which creates very warm differences, I think it will be useless attempting to bring forward in this House any general plan of national education. If the Government were prematurely to introduce a proposal for establishing such a general system of education, and they failed in carrying it, such a result would only be calculated to exasperate the differences to which I have alluded, and probably defer to a later period the adoption of any comprehensive scheme on the subject. Therefore I will not now enter into the discussion of any plan of general education, 963 but simply content myself with saying that the Government are, I believe, now doing a considerable amount of good, although I admit that they do not accomplish so much as could be desired. They have endeavoured, where persons voluntarily united to establish schools and gave education, to assist their efforts by contributing a sum to reduce the amount of subscriptions they were called upon to make, but to a far greater extent, by means of the inspectors and the system of pupil teachers, to improve the quality of the education imparted. Without the aid afforded in this way by the Government, the conductors of these schools would be ignorant of the improvements made in other places, and the general tone of education would not be so high as in all the better free schools I am happy to say that it is.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he had listened to the observations of the noble Lord with feelings of disappointment which were very much akin to those with which he had observed the conduct generally of the noble Lord upon this most interesting and important subject from the first moment at which the present Government was formed. The noble Lord at the outset of his Administration, upon this subject, alluded to it most justly and truly as one of the greatest and most pressing questions of the day. He proceeded in the course of the last Session to carry out those views upon the subject, and he laid on the table a Bill which proposed some very important alterations in the system of education in this country. The noble Lord, however, now told the Committee that he despaired of adopting any general system of education on account of the religious difficulties, and of the impossibility of inducing Parliament and the country to concur in any general measure. But the fact was this—the noble Lord had never given the House of Commons an opportunity of stating their views upon the subject. If the noble Lord were as anxious as he was willing to believe he was to meet the views of the country upon this subject, the noble Lord ought to recollect that there was no social subject of the present day upon which the public mind was more intent than upon this question of education. With those professions of the noble Lord—and he (Sir J. Pakington) did not doubt their sincerity—how was it that the noble Lord did not bring the measure of last Session to a second reading; and that he had never given the House an oppor- 964 tunity of stating the opinions they entertained on this question? What had happened in the present Session? The noble Lord had not again brought forward his Bill of last Session, nor had he proposed any legislation upon the subject. The noble Lord had maintained a complete silence upon the subject until now, when at the end of the Session the noble Lord comes down, and to his (Sir J. Pakington's) surprise and disappointment, in moving the Estimates, he had first told the Committee that the Government considered the quality of education to be of more interest and importance than the amount and extent of education, and that the religious difficulties were so great that he abandoned the attempt in despair, and had no intention of submitting to Parliament a proposition for any general or more extended system.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I did not say I despaired of any measure being assented to by Parliament. I said that I should postpone such a measure for the present.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
But the noble Lord said that he considered the quality of education of greater importance than the extension of it. Now he was about to remark that there was some inconsistency in that observation with the statistical argument adduced by the noble Lord to show the increase of education in the country. The noble Lord said that the returns showed that there was one out of every eight only of the population now receiving an education. He (Sir J. Pakington), however, believed that if they went into the most populous districts in England they would not find that statistical statement borne out. On the contrary, they would find that the number of persons receiving education in those places was considerably smaller than one in eight of the population. In the United States he believed the proportion was one in six. He believed that that was the proportion that ought to be receiving education in a country that was well governed in this respect. The Government should not relax their endeavours to extend education to all classes. Although the noble Lord shrunk from this subject with a degree of apprehension, he would find himself scarcely borne out by the feeling of Parliament. There had been a movement made upon the subject this year which he considered to be of great importance. He was sorry that the noble Lord did not treat that movement with more attention. He al- 965 luded to the Manchester scheme of education, which had been brought before the House for several Sessions. They had had a discussion upon the second reading of that Bill. He believed, if the House would address itself to this question with firmness, determination, and moderation—if they approached this question in the same fair spirit as to religious differences as had marked the Manchester measure—if they adopted the principle of that measure mainly and essentially—that they would arrive at a satisfactory solution of the general question of education. It was well known that the Manchester scheme had attracted great attention for some time past. And whatever might be the opinions of men upon the general subject, and the nature of the arguments urged by persons of different religious denominations—whatever might be their differences of opinion as to details—his belief was that if a general measure were founded upon the same principle, it would be acceptable to the country, and would relieve this nation from the stain which would rest upon it so long as it permitted the humbler portion of the population to remain in the state of ignorance which unfortunately at present prevailed to a great extent. He deeply regretted that the Manchester measure was not successful. He hoped that the Government would face the general question in a bolder spirit than they had hitherto shown; and he thought that they would be neglecting their duty if they allowed another Session of Parliament to pass with that apparent indifference to this important question that had marked their conduct in the present Session. He trusted that they would bring in a measure founded essentially upon the principle of that Manchester Bill. He would support any Minister who dealt with this question in a bold and generous spirit, and he believed that by adopting such a course they would confer a great boon upon the country.
§ MR. MIALL
said, he must congratulate the Committee that the Lord President of the Council had given them the benefit of his able assistance on the present occasion. Last year, it would be recollected, the education Vote for England and Wales, which exceeded the Estimates of the previous year by 100,000l., was put from the Chair without any Ministerial statement whatever, and actually passed without a single remark, not because the Committee were agreed, either upon the principle of 966 national education or upon the mode of carrying that principle into effect, but because the educational question had hitherto been brought under the notice of the House in a most inconvenient shape; and, in point of fact, the whole of the affairs connected with the education of the country, might be regulated each year in a particular manner, simply from the accidental absence of a Member of the Government from illness or otherwise. He must say they had reason to complain that the education question came before the House of Commons in such a manner as to preclude anything like full and fair deliberation, either of its principles or the mode in which it was worked. Last year a new principle had been introduced with regard to the expenditure of the money granted by Parliament for educational purposes under the direction of the Committee of Privy Council; and though he did not for a moment offer an opinion as to whether such a change was a good one or not, still he thought it ought to have attracted some attention; but the fact was, the Education Estimates were brought in on the first day after the Easter recess, and had been passed without sufficient deliberation. He was glad to see such a state of things put an end to, and that the noble Lord the President of the Council had made a statement which, as far as the Committee of Privy Council were concerned, would give the Committee an opportunity of discussing the Vote. He did not think the noble Lord had given a sufficient reason to warrant any increase of public money for the purposes of education this year, beyond the sum devoted to that purpose last year. It was true he had stated it was not so much to provide for a greater extension of education as to improve the quality of the education parted, and that it was rather an aid to the voluntary principle; but he had said nothing that would justify the Committee in coming to the conclusion that whereas 260,000l., the Estimate of last year, was found more than sufficient for the wants of the Committee of Council on Education, there should now be demanded a sum which, with the balance, would amount to no less than 343,873l.; and he could not but regret that the noble Lord had not seen the propriety of explaining clearly to the Committee the necessity that had arisen to call for so vast an augmentation in this Vote. He (Mr. Miall) hoped that the popularity and abstract merits of the cause 967 of education would not so dazzle the eyes of hon. Members as to prevent their watching with jealousy the application of these steadily increasing funds, and taking care that their control and management were not committed to despotic and irresponsible hands. The present First Lord of the Admiralty, and also the late Sir Robert Peel, some years ago, had described the Educational Committee of the Privy Council, to whom these functions were confided, as a body clothed with arbitrary and uncontrolled power; and the latter great statesman especially had thrown ridicule on the idea of those who supposed the Committee of the Privy Council to be responsible to Parliament when the measures they devised for carrying on education were prepared and executed without the consent of Parliament. He (Mr. Miall) considered that there was much force and truth in this representation of the matter, and could not but object to the unconstitutional character of the State machinery by which education in this country was conducted. He did not wish to enter into the question of national education, but he asked the Committee whether it was quite safe to go on expanding the present educational machinery, unless it was first ascertained that such machinery was actually producing those results which it was intended to produce? Almost every Bill that had been introduced on the question of education, including those of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) and of the Lord Advocate, had involved the necessity of centralisation; there appeared to be no objection to allow the ratepayers the liberty of taxing themselves, but they had never been allowed to control the expenditure of their own money. The Committee ought to entertain great jealousy of the extension of such a principle, and he could not help thinking that too much attention had been paid to what might be called the executive part of this question, as compared with the legislative. The Committee must recollect that when the Committee of Privy Council were first appointed, a long and solemn discussion took place in the House of Lords, and a series of Resolutions were passed against which some Protests were made. One of those Resolutions was as follows—That it appears to this House that the powers thus intrusted to the Committee of Council are so important in their bearing upon the moral and religious education of the people of this country 968 and upon the proper duties and functions of the Established Church, and at the same time so capable of progressive and indefinite extension, that they ought not to be committed to any public authority without the consent of Parliament.That was the opinion of the House of Lords on the constitution of the Committee of Council on Education, and that opinion was in accordance with that of various authorities on the question, who had also pointed out the entire irresponsibility of the Committee of Council. He thought, therefore, that when they were asked to devote 343,873l. for the purpose of education, they should take care that the machinery used to effect the objects of the grant was of a safe and constitutional description, which he did not think could be said of the Committee of Privy Council. At the same time he wished to be distinctly understood as not casting the slightest imputation upon the honour and integrity of those who administered the educational grants. His strictures were applicable to the system itself. He thought they were expounding a system unsound in itself, and he wished to have some inquiry into the educational results that had been produced. He had looked over the Reports of various inspectors that had been laid upon the table, and had compared them one with another. He could not for a moment pretend that these Reports were unfavourable to the system; on the contrary, he thought it might be fairly expected that these gentlemen would give direct testimony in favour of a system in which they felt they were directly interested; but if they gleaned these Reports, and went over them with a jealous eye, they would be able to pick out passages which throw more light incidentally on the subject of education both in populous places and in rural parishes, than they could gather from any of the direct testimony which they contained. There were two or three results which he inferred from the facts that were stated in these Reports. He inferred, first of all, that the system must fail in this respect, that it had given money largely where money was not wanting, and it had not given money for the promotion of education where money was really required. He could also refer to the Reports to show that the utmost restlessness of spirit had been produced amongst the pupil teachers; that expectations had been raised in their minds by the promises of the Government, which were never likely to be fulfilled; and that results were there- 969 by produced which were exciting the utmost alarm in the minds of the inspectors. The inducement to scholars to remain longer at school than they had previously done was another of the objects which were contemplated at the time of the institution of the Committee of Privy Council; but he gathered from the Reports that that object likewise bad not been accomplished, that the scholars do not now remain longer in the schools than they had been accustomed to remain, and that no improvement had taken place in that respect. It appeared that, as regarded the teachers, they had not raised the status, or increased the average of salaries; and with regard to the pupils, they had not afforded sufficient inducements to keep them together in large numbers for a greater number of years. These were the inferences which he drew from the Reports of the inspectors, but his conclusions might be unwarranted by the real state of the facts if they were impartially examined. He did not propose to stop the action of the machinery now employed, but he proposed that they should not further expand it until they ascertained, by the inquiry of a Committee, the results that had been actually produced. He proposed, therefore, that the Vote should lie limited this year to what it was last year, 160,000l., including the balance of 80,873l. now stated to be in hand.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding 160,000l. be granted to Her Majesty, for Public Education in Great Britain, to the 31st day of March, 1855."
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he could not agree with the hon. Gentleman opposite, when he said that no improvement had taken place in the educational condition of the people of this country. He admitted that, as respected keeping children at school as long as might be wished, there was a great difficulty; but he did not believe that it was to be attributed to any defect in the system pursued, but only to the pressure which existed upon the means of subsistence among the population. When parents found they could get 2s. or 3s., or even more, a week by the labour of their children, they were loth to keep them at school, and so deprive the family of their earnings. HE (Mr. Henley) believed that to be the great reason why the children of the poor remained for so short a period at school. In the rural districts, with which he was best acquainted, children went out to work at ten or eleven years of age; and in the manufac- 970 turing districts, he believed, not less early. With regard to the question of pupil teachers, he must confess that he could not himself share in the apprehension that had been expressed on the subject by the hon, Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall). He could not understand why young men with a good education were not as likely to make their way in the world as young men with little or none. If that proposition were adopted, education should be given up altogether as an advantage. At present there was a considerable demand for persons trained to the teaching of others; he did not find any redundancy of such teachers; on the contrary, he believed the void was not as yet tilled up; and when a young man following that occupation was of competent character he found no difficulty in procuring a situation, and that remuneration for his services which his position in life entitled him to expect. With regard to the large money grants for the purpose of education, he agreed with the hon. Gentleman opposite that accounts in detail ought to be rendered of the expenditure. He had never seen one that was satisfactory on that point. He did not understand why there should not be a statement showing what was spent every year upon the Estimate. The Estimate showed that 343,873l. had been granted, but be did not believe all that sum had been spent; he believed that the Government had armed itself with the balance remaining over, and that there was a gradually accumulating amount in the hands of the Government. He thought, therefore, this Vote should be put on the same footing as the civil contingencies, and that there should be an Estimate on a separate paper of the amounts spent and received. He believed that, by searching through the Reports of the Committee of the Privy Council, much information on the matter would be found; but that was not in so convenient a shape as if it was presented separately. With regard to the large amount of the grant, he did not, he confessed, regret it, although he should have been better content if the conditions imposed upon the members of the Church of England had been the same as those imposed on the members of other religious bodies. He could not say that he thought the Church of England had quite fair play; in fact, it had not the same facilities as were accorded to Roman Catholics, but still he would not lessen the grant for that reason. He was not sanguine on the subject of any general system of education; 971 but he should be glad to give such a system his best consideration when it came before Parliament. In the present divided state of religious opinion, however, he doubted much if such a system was possible. As regarded the Manchester scheme, he was not surprised that the Government did not bring forward any general measure founded upon it, seeing the ill-success which it had met with in that House, and also considering the little hope of success for a general scheme in case of the failure of the local one. He confessed he was not enamoured of that scheme, and he believed that education would be better promoted and assisted by the present plan than by any other. When the physical condition of the people was mended, and their pecuniary means increased, there would be plenty of children sent to school. With respect to the Kneller Hall establishment, he believed it to be a failure, and that the cause of the failure was, that schoolmasters were wanted to be trained after a particular fashion which was not fancied by a large portion of the people of this country, and because they were paid less than they could get elsewhere. They were, as he understood, to have 60l. a year in workhouses as an inducement; whereas they might get 70l., 80l., or even 100l., for their services in other places, according to their qualifications for teaching. He likewise understood that another condition was that they should go into the workhouse for some time. That was not likely to attract young men, with plenty of other training-schools, when they could get equal education, with better chances. Unless, therefore, the Kneller Hall School was put to more useful purposes, it would be better to sell the premises and get rid of it altogether. He thought it would not be unreasonable in another Session of Parliament to look into the working of the system more closely than had yet been done, as the information now attainable, being had from the officers of the Committee of Privy Council, was necessarily somewhat one-sided, men being never apt to colour their own acts on the wrong side. In conclusion, he desired to express his belief that popular education was increasing steadily, even in a greater ratio than the increase of the population; and he believed, also, that it was increasing in quality as well as in extent. He should, therefore, support the grant, and he hoped the next Session that a Parliamentary Committee would be named to inquire into the subject.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, be wished to make one remark upon the financial part of the question, in answer to an observation that had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the Government in previous years had taken a greater amount than was spent in the year, and he inferred from that circumstance that the sum proposed to be taken now was estimated upon the calculation that there might be an excess in the Vote over the amount actually required. The fact was, that his right hon. Friend (Sir C. Wood), when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, pointed out when the excess became considerable, and the amounts voted had not been all spent, and recommended that in future the Vote should be reduced until that excess should have become absorbed. This had been done, and year by year less had been voted than was actually required for the expenditure of the year, the deficiency being made up out of the surplus remaining over from previous years. So far from the Vote now asked for being less than the sum required for the year, he had received a letter the other day from the managing committee, stating that the whole of the grant now proposed, including the 80,000l. balance, would be expended by the 31st of March next. He had forwarded that letter to his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, however, agreed with him that it was not necessary to make any alteration in the Estimate. At the same time it was clear that the whole amount, together with the balance, would be expended, and that on the 31st March there would be none of the money remaining in hand. That being the case, he wished the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Miall) to consider whether he thought it advisable to propose to diminish the Vote, and make it 80,000l. less than that of last year, the consequence of which must be that many persons who received yearly payments out of this fund could not be paid, and good faith would not be kept with them. He should not object to the appointment of a Committee next year as suggested, and if they should think it necessary that the system ought to be amended, he should be prepared to consider such recommendation, but under the circumstances he trusted the hon. Gentleman would not persist in his Amendment.
§ MR. W. J. FOX
said, he agreed with the noble Lord the President of the Council 973 that it was more important they should attend to the quality, rather than to the quantity of the education bestowed. He considered that the education of the country possessed two very different aspects according to the points from which it was viewed. When they saw a number of pupils on paper, and looked to the Report of the Inspectors of Schools, there would appear to be strong reasons for gratulation; but when they looked to those same pupils as they advanced in life, and gave their attention, not to returns from schools, but to returns from gaols, and when they looked to the number of those who, when they came to be married, could not read or write, they were astonished at the very narrow limits within which this selfsame education was confined, which, on the other view, appeared to be so extensive. It was well worth while to inquire into the reasons of this strange contrast and seeming contradiction. They found that out of 5,677 men composing the Militia of the counties of Cambridge, Essex, Huntingdon, Norfolk, and Suffolk, there were 2,051 of them who could write their names, and there were 3,626 who were unable to write their names. Then let them look to the gaols. Amongst the 21,000 criminals reported to have been committed in Scotland last year, they found that, except about 4,000, all had been at school for some time or other. There were only 300 or 400 of those prisoners who had received a higher education than mere reading and writing, which showed the importance of education when really extended beyond the narrow boundary to which it was usually confined. To estimate the value of education, they must look at its permanent effects on the minds of the people, and to what extent it was a barrier against criminality and vice, and upon this point the state of our gaols afforded the most reliable information. The flaw in the system appeared to him to be in leaving education to the efforts and direction of religious bodies, instead of intrusting it to the parishes, townships, and other local divisions of the country. He thought that so long as education was made contingent upon the voluntary efforts of religious bodies, it was impossible they could have an extensive national education; and for this reason, that religious bodies had another object in view besides giving that instruction which would merely make good citizens; they had another and a higher object, an object infinitely higher 974 he fully admitted, but it was because it was infinitely higher that it excluded from view that which was the proper business of schools. The schoolmaster became, under the circumstances, rather a missionary than a schoolmaster. The school became a juvenile church or chapel; but, though it was very important to have such institutions and missionaries, let them not elbow the schoolmaster out of his work, and deprive the world of that sort of utility which it was in the power of society to confer on the poorer classes. He believed that religion was a most vital part of education, but he thought that a school established by the State, or by the wealthier classes for the benefit of the poorer, was not the machinery for giving education in its entirety. It was only capable of being made a medium of instruction to a limited extent and on certain subjects. The State had established schools of design under the Board of Trade, without insisting on their being placed under ecclesiastical superintendence. Why, then, should they not do the same with regard to schools for teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic? He believed that the denominational and sectarian teaching had a tendency to deteriorate the quality of schools. As an instance of what the schools connected with religious bodies were worth in comparison with those of a purely secular character, he might mention that an analysis he had made of the Educational Report which had been delivered respecting Scotland, told very much against them. The schools in Scotland were divided into four classes, namely, the old baronial schools, the schools which have endowments, the schools which were supported by religious bodies, and other public schools, by which was meant those founded on the general philanthropic principle; and to these schools he had applied four tests, with the view of ascertaining their respective merits. First, he had tried them by ascertaining the number of children that regularly attended the schools; secondly, by the cost of the education; thirdly, by the salaries paid to the masters; and, lastly, by the amount of the voluntary contributions of the children. The result was that while in the religious schools the attendance on the census day was 81 per cent, in the other schools it was 85 and 6–10ths per cent; the cost of the school in the religious schools was 11s. 9d. per head, in the other schools it was 20s. per head; the salary of the master in the religious schools was 39l, 975 a year, in the others it was 46l. 6s. 8d. a year. The contribution of the pupils in the schools connected with religious bodies was 2s. 3½d. in the other schools it was 4s., giving the master in the religious schools 20l. 5s. a year, and the masters of the other schools 25l. 16s. 6d. a year. Now, that was a tolerably correct illustration of the state of things in this country also, and the test fully established that so long as schools were connected with religious bodies, they kept down the standard of education. To show the error of an educational system based upon religious connection, he would state the case of a girl who, upon being examined before a Committee, and when asked what religion she was, replied, "Nothing." "Are you a Christian?" she was asked. "She did not know," was her reply. "Are you a Protestant then?" "Not that I am aware of," was the reply. "Then do you know what von are? "Yes, when I was at school I was told I was a Baptist, and so I am now, I suppose." All this showed that the sectarian principle of education was not applicable to the people of this country. True, there were well-organised sects in the country, but the mass of the people were not sectarian, and the introduction of sectarianism in matters of education rendered our public schools unpopular with the working classes, and the less the working classes bad reason to suspect its presence in the arrangements for teaching their children, the more popular would be the schools to which they were invited to send them. He did not think there was much force in the objection which was urged to the action of the Committee of Privy Council on the ground of centralisation. For, in fact, in this case that merely amounted to there being a point to which information might converge, and from which it might be again disseminated to the various localities. They did not seem to have exercised any other influence over the various schools, except by disseminating information with respect to the various modes of teaching; and the utility of this no one could doubt. He had no sympathy with the objections that were urged to this Vote, and indeed would gladly see it enlarged, although at the same time he thought it should be more impartially expended than at present, and that Government should keep in view, as their primary object, the raising of the quality of education, an end which might be attained by graduating the schools, and 976 by giving more decided attention to the dissemination of secular and useful knowledge. Instead of that, however, the Committee of the Privy Council set its face against schools of a non-sectarian character, and refused them the assistance to which they would otherwise be entitled; and yet there were such schools, in which thousands of children were being taught, both in this metropolis and in Edinburgh and in Glasgow, and the inspectors who had visited them acknowledged that they stood in the highest rank amongst the schools for the instruction of the children of the poor. He must, however, acknowledge the great services which the Committee of the Privy Council had rendered to the cause of education. He believed that, without them, we should neither have had the quantity, limited as that might be, nor the quality, undesirable as that might be, of education which we had at present. What was called the voluntary system had put forth its greatest powers and done its greatest good, only under the conviction, the stimulus, and the impulse, if not by the help, of that body. It was when it was first instituted that people began to stir themselves in different parts of the country, and that the rapid increase of schools and pupils commenced. Earnestly wishing to see the instruction rendered more solid, enduring, and useful, he would support the Vote, trusting that if the time were not yet come to introduce a broad and general measure of education, much might, nevertheless, be done by the efforts of the Committee of Privy Council to correct the failings and errors which were inherent in our present system of instruction.
said, he had heard with great satisfaction the speech of the noble Lord the President of the Council, and he thought if anything could tend to confirm the noble Lord in his opinion that at present no great or comprehensive system of national education could be established, it was the speeches they had just heard from different Members, of whom no two were agreed as to the system that should be adopted. He thought, therefore, that Government had acted prudently in continuing the existing system, though at the same time he could not conceal from himself that there was great room for improvement in it. The Reports of the Inspectors of Schools showed the very early age at which, in the majority of cases, the children left the schools, and therefore it was most desirable that some 977 portion of this grant should be directed to the encouragement of adult schools, which had proved most successful wherever they had been established. More was accomplished in this way by the voluntary efforts of the people while thirsting for education, than by the reluctant labours of children; and, looking at the success which had attended the evening lectures at the Museum of Practical Geology, where the working classes listened with so much eagerness and attention to what was addressed to them, he thought the system of adult schools might be judiciously extended. Under the existing system children were taught to write as children, but they never had an opportunity of writing again; that could only be corrected by establishing an adult system, because, if they made the adults to know the value of education, the adults themselves would insist upon their children going to school, and afterwards practising what they learnt there. Thus, under an adult system, they would be working two ways for the instruction of the people. He saw a very large sum in the Vote for pupil teachers. Now, it seemed to him we were raising up a large class of pupil teachers, and he did not see how hereafter they were to find employment. You gave them an education above their class, and they were then of course unwilling to go back to labour, looking for some better position. It seemed to him that, unless you could give them that position, you were raising up what would be a discontented class of persons throughout the country, and he wished therefore to ask his noble Friend the President of the Council whether there was any future scheme for the employment of pupil teachers which would avoid the evil he had pointed out?
§ MR. E. BALL
said, if there were so many persons uneducated as asserted, the course to adopt, in his opinion, was to augment the grant for educational purposes. It was asserted that out of a population of 5,000 persons in a district, 3,000 could not read and write. Now, as these persons were mostly grown up, it was not fair to quote the circumstance as an argument to prove that the educational system had failed. These uneducated persons had grown up before the present system came into operation. He had attended examinations of children in his parish and in adjacent parishes; he had invited ministers of all denominations to be present, and not one had ever left the schools after ex- 978 amination of the children without expressing their astonishment and entire satisfaction at the amount of information—not prepared for the occasion—which was displayed by all the children. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham (Mr. W. J. Fox) said that gaols were full. Now, admitting this to be so, so far from objecting to education as founded on sectarianism, the fact ought to operate the other way, and they ought to endeavour to get more of the religious element into education. His opinion was that education was not too sectarian and too religious, but that there was too little of religion in the education of the present day. He collected one curious fact from the progress of Mormonism—that two-thirds of those who went over to that imposture were able to read and write; and the inference he drew from this was, that the religious element was not in sufficient abundance in the education given to them; for those persons might be considered as educated, and yet were melancholy examples of want of instruction in religious truth. Another instance might be drawn from the reformatory institutions. He found that 86 out of every 100 of the inmates could read and write. He thought, therefore, that so far from discountenancing religion in education, they ought to do all in their power to extend it. For his own part, he would never give his support to any Vote which merely gave secular education uncombined with religious instruction to the people.
§ MR. JOHN MACGREGOR
said, considering the amount of ignorance that prevailed in this country, he greatly regretted the small amount of public money devoted to education. He had no faith in the voluntary principle; and he did not think that principle could supply the place of an efficient general system of education. America was an instance of the value of a system of education; and in Austria there was not a soldier who could not read and write. He was as much opposed to the system of centralisation as any man, and he was as willing to leave education free to local authority wherever it could be managed fairly. But When he found that the local authorities could not, or would not, do what was requisite, then it was, he said, that it was proper to resort to another system, and this induced him to acquiesce in the principle of Government supervision and Privy Council support. The noble Lord the Lord President of the Council had been blamed for not bringing forward 979 a Bill on the subject of a national system of education. But, after the fate of the Bill brought in for Scotland by his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, he could well understand that a general measure would have little chance of being accepted by that House. He was for a general plan of education, founded on unsectarian principles. Looking at the state of education in Prussia, Belgium, and Austria, he could not but think that the state of education in this country was disgraceful to the nation. He trusted the noble Lord would give a fair distribution of the funds to schools in Scotland without reference to sectarian feelings and principles.
§ MR. BIGGS
said, he was so thoroughly a friend of education, and he was so sensible of its beneficial results, that he would have voted for 2,600,000l. instead of 260,000l., if that sum had been proposed by the noble Lord. He knew that in the manufacturing town of which he was a native, in Manchester, London, and other towns where children were little educated, destitution largely abounded. This country paid 2,000,000l. a year for correcting vice, and between 5,000,000l. and 6,000,000l. for maintaining paupers. How could they dare, then, to admit to a foreigner that, for the education of the people, they paid annually only the magnificent sum of 260,000l.? He felt certain, that, if a fair, open, public meeting were called anywhere in this country, an immense majority would be in favour of a system of national education. That 260,000l. was in his belief the best spent money in the kingdom, though perhaps it might net be spent in the best possible way. What class was most interested in educating the people? Why, the wealthy class; for how could capital, how could religion, how could free institutions, be safe, with an ignorant population? Early next Session, for the purpose of testing this Legislature, and seeing whether the House of Commons was really friendly to a national system, he should move a Resolution to this effect:—"That, in the opinion of this House, a system of national education is desirable." That would commit no Gentleman to any peculiar views on the subject at all—and the question would then come to be one only of mode—not as to the result, but only as to the means of carrying out the Resolution, upon which measure he trusted they should agree. Further, in the event of the Government 980 not proceeding with a measure or any Member older and better qualified than himself, he should bring in a Bill for extending education to the people of England and Wales framed on principles similar to those adopted in the United States. In Scotland it had been stated, on the best authority, that one-third of the children were wholly uneducated; and of the remaining two-thirds, one-half were so ill educated as to be none the better for what they had learned. Under such circumstances he must think that Sunday School teachers were the purest patriots that ever existed. What was it that prevented the establishment of a system of national education? Religious bigotry. But for that they should next Session have a national system that would include every child born in England, Ireland, and Scotland. He was surprised at the conduct of lion. Members sitting on the Government side of the House. How could Gentlemen professing civil and religious liberty oppose a Vote for the education of the people? Let them remember that they had annually 17,000 juvenile criminals on their hands, and whom they must meet in after life, and for punishing whom they must pay a sum ten times as large as that for which they might now educate them. Nothing would give him greater pleasure than to send to gaol every parent who would not educate his child. He hoped the noble Lord would think better of the matter, and reintroduce an Education Bill such as the country required. That would send his name down to posterity as the most successful statesman of this or any other age—and after that, if he wished to quit the political arena, they could spare him.
said, he thanked the hon. Member for a large portion of his speech, but he could not help thinking that for a Liberal Member the hon. Gentleman was somewhat illiberal, when he said that he would send to gaol the parent who would not educate his children. He rather thought that that was a system of education upon which they were not yet prepared to act. With respect to the Resolution which the hon. Member had declared his intention to bring forward next Session, he believed the hon. Member might save himself the trouble of doing so, for he believed it would be generally consented to by the House. They were all aware of the difficulties that existed to the establishing of any national system of education. The noble Lord the President 981 of the Council had given great attention to the subject, and knew that on this question of education three distinct systems—the sectional, the denominational, and the voluntary—had been adopted, and that if be delayed dealing with the question he would still have the same opposition to meet, and the same arguments to contend against, that he now had. The noble Lord had uniformly, during his Parliamentary career, supported the denominational system, which had now received such a development that 86 per cent of the juvenile population were being instructed under it. Why not, then, make such grants to the schools already established in connection with different communities as would enable them to receive into the bosoms of their schools the outcasts of society, who were neglected under the present system? In spite of all the efforts already made, there was still a vast deficiency to be made up. He found by a return moved for by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright) that in ten of the largest manufacturing towns, including Manchester, Oldham, Stockport, and Coventry, containing a population of 931,217, there was one in 11.85 persons at school; and that in ten others, each with a population of above 20,000, or 530,072 in all, including York and Portsmouth, there was one in 6.95 persons at school, showing a great disproportion in the opportunities of education. He could not understand why they should hesitate to carry out a system which had already worked so well. Voluntary exertions, he feared, would never overtake the rapid increase that was going on in the population. According to the Census Report of Mr. Horace Mann, no fewer than 965,000 children in a population of between 17,000,000 and 18,000,000 in England and Wales were uncared for and untaught. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. W. J. Fox), who was a supporter of the secular system, had alluded to the uneducated state of the militia volunteers in the eastern counties. He was astonished to hear the hon. Member say that he looked more to the quality than to the quantity of the education, for in his opinion both quantity and quality should be regarded. He did not believe that the secular system could be carried out, because even the humblest classes demand to have religious blended with secular education. Even at Manchester, the headquarters of that party, he believed that the attendance at their two national schools was 982 not above one-half of the accommodation which they had provided. Except those schools—the William's School at Edinburgh, and ten or a dozen others—he did not believe that purely secular schools existed at all throughout the country. He had to thank the noble Lord the President of the Council for the letter which the Secretary to the Privy Council had written to the master of William's School, in answer to his demand for a grant of money; for it showed that the noble Lord still adhered to the principle that religion should be the basis of any system of national education. He hoped the noble Lord would turn his attention to one part of the question—ragged schools—because in a few years there would be a great increase of the number of convicts throughout the country, and an endeavour ought to be made to prevent juvenile offenders from becoming inveterate and hardened criminals. He should certainly not support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Arian).
§ MR. COBDEN
said, though he hoped he was the most tolerant of men on the subject of education, and though he was one of the foremost to appreciate the difficulties under which any Government laboured with regard to a question so vast, yet he must say, that the noble Lord the President of the Council had put his charity during the last two or three years to a great trial, for he could not help thinking that not only was the noble Lord letting down this question, but that the House of Commons was going backward with respect to it. The course which the noble Lord had pursued for the last year or two, had greatly surprised him. Last year he brought forward a measure, in which he fully recognised the necessity for a total change in the present system of administering the funds devoted to the purposes of education. He brought forward his measure, preceded by a recommendation from the Crown, and he made a speech, in which he told them, not as he had done to-night, that this was not a matter which could be done by the Government, and that they must attend to the improvement of the quality, rather than the quantity, of education, but on the contrary that education was the all-important question, and that it must be taken up by the Government even as a preliminary to the extension of the political rights of the community. He declared, if there was any one in the House unkind and ill-natured enough 983 to produce the speech of the noble Lord last year, and to read it to the House, after the difference of tone to-night, he thought it would be exceedingly difficult for the noble Lord to recognise his own sentiments. [Lord J. RUSSELL: They are the same.] Yes, the sentiments might be the same, but they were not brought into action in the same way; they were not such as to induce them to think that the noble Lord was prepared to deal with this question as its magnitude demanded. They were now assuredly going back on this question. They had now, for the first time, a Motion made against this Vote by an hon. Member who was opposed to all systems of national education; and very recently the Bill for a system of Scotch national education was defeated by a combination of nine Gentlemen who had taken up the plan of opposing all national education. [Lord J. RUSSELL: Hear, hear.] The noble Lord said "Hear, hear;" but how had that arisen? He must say he could not altogether acquit the noble Lord himself of being in some degree responsible for this adverse state of things, because one circumstance which greatly encouraged the voluntary party, who were opposed to all national systems, was this:—They found in the present system much that was indefensible in principle—much that nobody could justify—much that would warrant hon. Members to take up with the voluntary system, in order to escape the injustice of the present system. Now, one of the ways in which they might hope to recover their lost ground was to do that which had been done by the noble Lord to-night—to introduce the subject with a view to its being freely and fairly discussed. If they had but this question discussed night after night, and Session after Session, as was done with other great questions, it was his belief that they would soon be in a better position with regard to it than they were now. He was willing to admit that the Government, sixteen or eighteen years ago, had done a considerable amount of good by their mode of administering this fund through the agency of the Privy Council; that they had improved the character of education; that they had raised the quality of tuition; that they had elevated the status of the teacher. But still, all that had been done was done, if he might so express it, clandestinely. It had been smuggled, if he might so say, by the Committee of Privy Council, because there was a constant apprehension of 984 bringing the subject forward in that House, as it was thought that discussion on the subject would be fatal to the cause of education. For sonic years after the system was begun, perhaps that might have been the case. But still, if they had had discussions upon the question—if it had been brought before that House Session after Session, giving rise to debates in which principles would have been advocated and the truth developed—it would have ended, after a few years, as other great questions have ended—one party or the other in the controversy would have given way, and they would have allowed the right principle to be carried out into practice. He was, therefore, glad that the noble Lord who was at the head of the department most interested in the progress of education had now introduced the system of prefacing the Educational Vote by a general statement of the policy of the Government upon the subject. He was of opinion that they would have to make up their minds that there must be a local rate for educational purposes, and that they could not otherwise carry out any system of national education that would be worthy of the name. After fifteen or sixteen years of very minute—he might almost say of trifling—dealing with this question, he thought it must be admitted that the time had come when they must do something decisive. As was said by a great warrior on another subject, this country could not afford to have a little national education. They had a population of 28,000,000 of people, and it was shown by the Census that there was at least 1,000,000 of children who ought to be at school, but who did not go to school. If they were to establish a system of education in this country that would compare with what was done in America, they must raise at least 3,500,000l. a year. And England was rich enough to do that. It would be a much better investment than to spend 5,000,000l. upon poor rates; and they must make up their minds that this great and momentous question could not be dealt with by the inadequate sum of 350,000l. from the national Exchequer. They could not obtain an adequate sum from the Government, because the disbursement of it would involve an amount of centralisation which would be repugnant to the feelings of the people of this country. Would anybody deny that the present system placed this country in an invidious—he might say a disgraceful —plight before the eyes of the civilised 985 world? An American tourist of some eminence, who was lately in this country, said that England was the only country in Europe that had not made some provision for education that deserved the name of national. This was a disparagement of them in the face of Europe, unless they could show to the world that they were arriving at better things. He hoped that that was really the case. He was gratified to find the good feeling that was now prevailing on both sides of the House, and the degree of progress they were making—in spite of all that might be said of the little that was actually accomplished—still it was gratifying to look at the progress that had been made on the University question, on the limited liability question, on every question, in fact, that came before them respecting the social improvement or the education of the people. Why, the hon. Member for East Somersetshire (Mr. Miles) spoke on the question of education with as much unction and good-will as could be done by any Member on that side of the House. So that he thought no one could doubt, if they addressed themselves in earnest to the discussion of this question, that they would speedily arrive at a solution, as they had done in so many parts of Europe, and in America, where they had the same difficulties to contend with. In the Colonies also the same conflicts had been gone through, but all had come to some solution or other of the difficulty. That solution, he believed, would be found here through the medium of a local rate, without clogging that rate with the conditions that were sought to be attached to it either by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. W. J. Fox) on the one hand, or the hon. Member for East Somersetshire on the other. He did not think that either of these hon. Gentlemen had a right to dictate to the other. His own opinion was that they must not impose a restriction of any sort, but leave it to the people of the locality to decide for themselves. He would suggest to the noble Lord, whether it would not be worth his while to address himself to the question in this spirit; to see if he could not devise a permissive Bill, giving power to the different localities; let him begin with corporate bodies if he liked, giving power to the corporations to levy rates for the purposes of education. They had already taken the initiative in this matter, by allowing corporations to raise funds for 986 reading-rooms and museums. But let this be done in a liberal spirit, as if it was intended to carry it out; let it not be clogged and guarded with such jealous provisos as to make it necessary that a corporation which had the power to raise as large a sum as 100,000l. for waterworks, gasworks, or similar purposes, by a simple majority, required a vote of two-thirds of its members, or a reference of the question to a primary assembly, to make a rate for the purposes of education. Let the corporations have the power to establish a plan of education which should be supplementary, if it was thought necessary, to the existing schools, as was proposed at Manchester; he would not throw out of use any existing school whatever; there would be room for them all. With regard to the Manchester and Salford system of education, he agreed with the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), that there was everything to commend and to admire in the spirit of the gentlemen who worked in that cause. There were many private meetings among the advocates of the secular and the denominational system, and there was every tendency to toleration and to compromise among them, and to this day he could hardly tell what it was they differed about at last. The difference between them was reduced to an infinitesimal quantity. In such a crisis a Minister of the Crown might be useful to the cause, but at that very time the noble Lord was throwing out sentiments which struck with despair many of the friends of education, by defining, in a more arbitrary sense than ever, what he understood by the religious education to be given in those schools. There was no occasion whatever to be afraid that the people of England wanted to do anything irreligious; there could not be got together a hundred decent and respectable men in any part of the country to discuss the subject of education into whose heads it would ever enter to do anything inimical to the cause of religion; and yet no sooner was the subject of secular education mentioned in that House than some hon. Member or other jumped up as if a plot was laid to undermine Christianity. For himself, he would candidly confess, so anxious was he for the spread of instruction, so little was he jealous of efforts of proselytism, and so anxious was he for education either on sectarian principles or without them, that he was perfectly willing to join at once either with the hon. Mem- 987 ber for East Somersetshire in his efforts for denominational education, or with the hon. Member for Oldham in his efforts for secular education, meaning separate education, as he would prefer to call it, because no one thought of excluding religion from education. He would join with either on this simple condition, that they should show him it was practicable to include the whole community in the provisions of their measure. Had they not had, he would ask, experience of the failure of the denominational system? Had they not had sufficient proof that a large portion of the religious bodies would neither accept of the funds, nor pay them if they could avoid it? They had proof in the fact of nine hon. Gentlemen in that House, who were opposed to all national education, though, to his own knowledge, there were no Gentlemen in the House, or in the country, more anxious for the spread of education than these hon. Gentlemen were; but their objection to the present was, that it violated religious principle, for the House coupled religion with education, and they were voluntaries on the subject of religion. But the hon. Member for East Somersetshire maintained, as a condition of his granting assistance, that religion of some kind should be taught in the schools. [Mr. MILES, Hear, hear!] Now, had the hon. Gentleman ever carried out this principle to its strict logical conclusion? He insisted that religion should be taught. What religion? He would not answer, the Church of England, for the House and the country were now both got beyond that; and the Church of England was no longer the religion of the whole people. He must, therefore, have paid teachers of the Church of England, Baptists, Independents, Unitarians, Roman Catholics, and Jews. Would the hon. Gentleman agree to that? [Mr. MILES: Certainly]. Well, then, he hoped the hon. Gentleman would settle that question with his neighbour on his right hand, Mr. Spooner. Did the hon. Member for North Warwickshire agree with the hon. Member for East Somersetshire in voting money to teach all religions? He had heard a great deal to the contrary of that from more than one of the hon. Members for Warwickshire. Well, again, there was the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. E. Ball), whose speech had concluded with the sentiment that the Word of God must be taught—would he be willing to make an exception 988 in favour of Jews and Roman Catholics? He should be glad to hear the hon. Gentleman's views on that point, for it was most desirable that the subject should be fairly discussed. The question must be solved in one of two ways—either they must teach all religions or they must teach none at all. They could not stop between these two points. But it was just between these two points that they were stopping, because the present system was one by which voluntaries were altogether excluded; they were neither willing to pay nor to receive rates, and it was just because the present system involved over again all the difficulties of the church rates that it was impossible to rest content with it. He did not think that the question would be solved by insisting that nobody receiving rates should give religious instruction. Probably, then, some decision of this sort would be come to—to allow the different localities to choose for themselves the religion which should be taught in their schools. There was a large proportion of the thinly populated rural parishes in which all the inhabitants belonged to the Church of England, and he would never consent to be a party to passing a Bill which should prohibit the Catechism of the Church of England, and the religion of the Church from being taught in the schools of such parishes. But, then, in the large parishes where there was a mixed population, it would be impossible to insist upon the teaching of any one particular religion. If they did, those differing from that religion would not send their children, and other schools would have to be built for their accommodation. So that for the convenience of all parties, and in order to make the best use of existing school accommodation, they would have to resort to the plan of setting aside a particular time when the sectarian catechisms could be taught. It was not the Bible that was the difficulty. The reading of the standard edition of the Bible without comment would not stand in the way anywhere, perhaps, but in parishes where there was a large mixture of the Roman Catholic population. Now, if such a permissive measure as this were passed, he had sufficient faith in the good sense of the country that in all localities where it was adopted it would work well. He believed that this religious question was a mighty bugbear—a bubble which would burst the moment they touched it with their finger. He remembered speak- 989 ing on this subject with Mr. Henry Dunn, the highly respected secretary of the British and Foreign School Society, and he said—I hear a great deal of talk about the religious difficulty, but in the whole course of my long experience I never met with it in practice.And so he was convinced it would be found everywhere if they would allow the country to try the experiments that best suited the different localities. He did not say that they would not have a great deal of strife in different places before parties accommodated themselves to this new policy. But they would soon find that the example of one town would stimulate another—that the people of one town would be ashamed a not being as tolerant and sensible as another, and the most suitable system for each locality would soon be adopted all over the country. He would remind the noble Lord that, instead of the languid tone and feeble hand with which he had been sorry to see the noble Lord the Lord President handle this question of late, he wanted to see him come down and declare boldly to the country that things could not go on as they were; that all parties were now agreed the present system was unworthy of the nation; and that, instead of flinching from the question because there were difficulties in the way, they must have the subject brought before them continually, and held up constantly before their eyes till it was settled one way or another; that we must cease to be the only nation in Europe which had not toleration enough to adopt a national system, and yet had the vanity to put ourselves forward as having adopted one. Let them consider what an advantage giving were giving by the present system to the friends of voluntary education, who were a rising power in that House, and whose power was still greater among his own constituents in Yorkshire, which, he believed, was the head-quarters of voluntaryism. He had read with astonishment, in the Report of the Committee of Privy Council, that a Resolution was agreed to in April, 1853, giving a capitation fee of 5s. or 6s. for each child attending school in districts where there were not more than 5,000 inhabitants. Now, he had no objection personally to that system, but he thought it gave great cause to the advocates of the voluntary system to complain. Here was the Committee of Privy Council, of its own accord, without consulting Par- 990 liament, granting public money, to which the voluntaries had contributed, for purposes in which they could not partake, for it must be borne in mind that the voluntaries were excluded altogether from these schools. It was impossible not to admit that this was unjust to the voluntaries, and contrary, too, to constitutional principles, for he really must say that it was going a little too far for the Privy Council to dispose of the public money in this manner. He did not wish to see anything undone that was now being done. He had no objection to the appointment of inspectors. On the contrary, he thought that very valuable information was derived from their labours. He was sorry, however, to see from the returns presented by these gentlemen that the working people seemed to have a great disinclination to send their children to school. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) said that the working people had not the means of sending their children to school, that they were required to gain their own subsistence at a very early age, but he (Mr. Cobden) had been struck with the repeated observations of these inspectors, that it was not in bad times that children were withdrawn from school, but in times of prosperity, and at the present time, when the parents were earning high wages, the children of the working classes were undergoing that disadvantage to a great extent. The inspectors said, that children of only six and seven years of age were sent to earn their own living. Such a state of things was disgraceful to the working-classes—disgraceful to those parents who sent their children to work at that early age, instead of allowing them to attend school. But there was another party to such a practice, whose conduct was equally disgraceful, and that was the employers. Those who sanctioned such a proceeding ought to reflect that they were lending themselves to what was unnatural; they were taxing children's muscles and brains at an age when they could not be so taxed without injury to their health, and they were doing that which they would not do in the case of their own horses or dogs, for them they always allowed to grow up to maturity before setting them to work. Both parties ought to be put to shame, and the best way to place the working man in a proper position was to provide such a system of education that none could have an excuse for not sending his children to school. When he was engaged in business, 991 soon after he had built a school and provided a suitable teacher, he affixed a notice on his premises intimating that nobody would be employed who had not acquired a moderate degree of education, and the plan worked exceedingly well. If they did that throughout the country, the evil would soon cure itself, and they would have many magistrates of the turn of mind of the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Biggs), who declared he would be really glad to send the vagabonds who neglected their children's education to prison. He feared that, for the present, our systems of education were not reaching the masses of the people at all; and this was the great difficulty of the question, which too frequently was overlooked. He believed, too, that there was great delusion in the public mind as to the extent to which our unskilled labourers were identified with any religious sect whatever. He had read the Reports of town missionaries, and he had consulted men who went round the country upon errands of temperance, and all their statements confirmed him in this conviction. Dr. Hook might also be cited in proof of what he was going to say, namely, that a very large majority of the working classes did not belong to any sect whatever, and that they were, habitually, connected with no religion whatever. The Census Returns established the same fact. The Report on Religious Worship proved that one-third of the population were not habitual frequenters of any place of worship whatever. All this proved that, whatever might have been done so far, education had not reached the mass of the people. On this subject he was greatly struck with a remark of Mr. Arnold's, the Inspector of the British and Wesleyan, and other denominational schools in the midland district of England and Wales. Mr. Arnold said—I remain in the opinion which I last year expressed, that in the schools which I visit, and, above all, in the Wesleyan schools which I visit, the children of the actually lowest, poorest classes in this country—of what are called the masses—are not, to speak generally, educated; that the children who are educated in them belong to a different class from these; and that, consequently, of the education of the masses, I, in the course of my official duty, see, strictly speaking, little or nothing.Take the statistics of our mechanics' institutions—they proved precisely the same thing. Instead of serving mechanics, as their name expressed, they were serving warehousemen, clerks, shopkeepers; here 992 and there were a few foremen, and now and then might be seen a highly skilled mechanic, but of the mass and body of the people there were none. He ventured to say, therefore, that the unskilled labour of the country had not been sufficiently provided with the means of education; and he would venture to assert, further, that there was not one agricultural labourer in all England and Wales—and there were upwards of 1,000,000 of them—that subscribed to a mechanics' institution. We deceived ourselves on these subjects. It was the same with every other attempt hitherto made to educate the people. With regard to the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, Lord Brougham, he believed, would be the first to admit that its efforts had not succeeded in reaching the parties who were first in his mind, and whom he was most anxious to serve. Let any hon. Member ask where the Penny Magazine, Chambers's Journal, and the other cheap literature of that useful class, most circulated; it was not among the people for whom it was primarily designed; it stopped short of the working classes, and was found only op drawing-room tables and shopkeepers' desks; it was not found in the cabins and cottages of our unskilled labourers. He contended, therefore, that it was not merely the quality of the education imparted that was most wanted, but the quantity of it; we wanted, in fact, the great mass and body of the people reached by the schoolmaster, for it was precisely those who had not been touched by any previous effort. This great work could not be accomplished through the religious denominations, because it was proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the mass of the people did not belong to any; and he agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. W. J. Fox), with respect to the class who did not belong to any sect, that if they were not inspired with faith in the disinterestedness of the education offered to them, if they were driven to the school underneath the chapel, or at the gable end of the church, the result would be a failure. They must be taught that the school was open from a sincere desire to educate their children, and from no desire whatever to proselytise. What, he asked, had been the experience of such a system in America? Were we afraid of improving the intellect of the people of this country, to say nothing of their morals? Could it be supposed that, by 993 raising the intellectual standard, by accustoming the people to habits of thought and mental discipline, the interests of religion were not likely to be promoted? Let the experience of America be consulted; ask the people of the New England States. Had the progress of education there, where creeds and catechisms were banished, been found inimical to the extension of religion and Christianity? On the contrary, all the outward and visible signs of a religious temper prevailed. Judge of the people there by the number of their places of worship, by the observance of the Sabbath. How many Sunday newspapers had they? How many persons travelled on the railways on Sundays? In fact, test them by all the usual outward and visible signs of religious observance, and he was sure there would be found in all the free States of America and everywhere except in the Southern States, where there was an admixture of Spanish and French habits—more religious sentiment than in England. What, then, were we afraid of? We could not cure the evil by the present plan. Then let some other be adopted. At all events, let the question be discussed; let it not be kept back in the recesses of the Privy Council Office. He had seen questions almost as knotty as this unravelled and untied, and, in the end, very much to the satisfaction of all parties, who had been for years quarrelling with each other upon them, by virtue of discussion. The present debate, therefore, would be useful in that respect; and as it would be a fatal error to refuse a comparatively small sum of money for the purpose of educating the people while we were spending 10,000,000l. on war, he hoped the Amendment would be withdrawn.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I can hardly hesitate, after the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has last addressed us, to endeavour to set the Committee right with regard to what I really said in proposing this measure. The hon. Gentleman says that, although his charity is very large, he cannot carry it quite so far as to be at all satisfied with the representation I made to the House and the language I held. But then I must say he did not carry his charity very far, because he did not carry it so far as to state what I really said, and he was obliged to state something very different from what I said, in order to find fault with it. I said, that in my opinion, it was desirable in the present state of education to improve the quality of educa- 994 tion; I said the plan of distributing grants by the Privy Council was not equivalent to a system of education—that it was not a system—and that therefore I thought the good that could be effected was not so much by the extension of the quantity as by an improvement of the quality. I said, in a subsequent part of my speech, that I thought there was not at present that concurrence of opinion, especially with regard to the religious part of the question, which would authorise and justify the Government in bringing a plan forward this Session; but I never said—I never dreamt of saying—that the quality of education was the only thing to be looked to, or that any measure on the subject of education was not to be hoped for until a greater concurrence of opinion prevailed. Now, although the hon. Gentleman has pointed out, as he conceives, that this is a question not surrounded with so many difficulties as others suppose, yet in every step he has taken, he shows how great those difficulties are. He partly made a proposition, and then in a few minutes afterwards he showed how many obstacles that very proposition would encounter. The hon. Gentleman says—"Let there be continued reading of the Bible, and let there be the learning of the Catechism in those parishes where every inhabitant is of the Church of England." He went on to say, some time afterwards, that the voluntaries object to any teaching of religion by the State, and yet you are to possess an Act of Parliament which would authorise those parishes to which he refers to teach the Bible and the Catechism. But let me remark that there are not so many parishes as the hon. Gentleman supposes which are composed entirely of Churchmen, and that, at all events, there are a considerable number of parishes where, although Churchmen may be in a great majority, there are some five or ten (Efferent Dissenting families, who, when the parish was authorised to levy a local rate, and when they were told by a great majority that that local rate would be applied to a parish school where the Bible and Catechism would be taught, would, if they were voluntaries, of course protest against such a rate. In fact, there would be some danger of the objection made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole) in 1852, that if we had schools established in such a manner, it might be raising a new church-rate difficulty and a new church-rate question. 995 The hon. Gentleman who proposed this scheme must see that this is only one of the difficulties to which it is liable. But these questions are not new either to Parliament or to the country, and it is a navigation somewhat like that of the Danube, described by a right hon. Friend of mine a short time ago—a navigation which is impeded by the wrecks which are on each side of the channel. The late Mr. Whitbread attempted to introduce a system of national education, and he failed. Mr. Brougham many years afterwards brought forward, with his usual ability, a great scheme of national education, and he was defeated, principally by the Protestant Dissenters. In the year 1839 I proposed, not a system of national education, but a normal school, which was thought to be so objectionable by many members of the Established Church, that I was obliged to withdraw it without even taking a vote upon it. My right hon. Friend who sits near me (Sir J. Graham) brought forward a plan of education some years afterwards with regard to factories. I gave him what support I could, but the Dissenting body raised such an opposition that my right hon. Friend was obliged to withdraw the scheme he had produced with so much care. And what has happened of late years? A noble Lord, a friend of mine, Lord Melbourne, brought forward a measure for Scotland which was exactly what the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Cobden) proposes, and I thought it was a very good Bill. He proposed that every parish in Scotland should have the power of levying rates and settling all the terms and conditions on which those rates were to be applied to a school. He said, and I think truly—The people of Scotland are a religious people. You must have rules for the maintenance of religious teaching in these schools, and you ought to leave it entirely to those disagreeing in what manner they will make these provisions, or whether they will make them at all.I voted for that Bill, but it was defeated. And what have we seen this very Session? My right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate brought forward a Bill, and enforced it with great eloquence and ability. It appeared to me to be a most excellent Bill, and I think to this day it was a great misfortune that it was lost. It was lost, however, on account of the opposition of religious bodies of various kinds. It was in favour of religious teaching, and it did not admit that which many voluntaries, of 996 Scotland especially, required—namely, that if there was any religious teaching, it should be paid for by separate payments from the children taught. It did not contain that provision, but it enacted broadly and strongly that there should be religious teaching in the various schools. It was opposed by the voluntaries and by the Established Church also, and it was defeated. It is after all those attempts and those many failures, a few only of which I have recounted, that the hon. Gentleman conies forwards and represents me as the only obstacle to the establishment of a general system of national education, and attacks me for what I have done on the subject. And what has been done on the subject? In 1832 there was a grant proposed for education. In 1839 the Government to which I belonged—that of Lord Melbourne—made a proposition to Lord Lansdowne, who then held the office I have now the honour to hold, for the formation of a Committee of the Privy Council, which was to regulate the distribution of the grants, and to endeavour to improve the education of the country. The Vote on that subject was carried, in a very full House, by a majority of two, and, at all events, it showed that there was some difficulty in the subject. A year or two afterwards—I believe the following year—the heads of the Church, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, meeting Lord Lansdowne and myself, agreed to the terms upon which we should act, in concurrence with the National School Society, and one difficulty was thus got over. In 1846 we proposed by a further minute to extend and increase the grants for education, by which, I believe, a great deal of good has been done. I believe that if we had attempted in 1839 or in 1847 a great national system of education, we should have failed; but I believe that, proceeding in the way we have done, we have, to a certain degree, cleared the ground for the adoption of a system which could be accepted by the nation at large. But my belief is, that with regard to any general or national system that may be adopted, you must not omit a considerate and a careful regard to those denominational societies which, whether the National Society, or the British and Foreign Society, or the Wesleyan Society, have connected education with religion. I remember seeing a pamphlet—though I do not know whether it was written by a working man or not—which was addressed to the hon. 997 Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), and purported to be written by a working man, upon the subject of education. I don't think the question was treated very fairly in that letter; but the mode in which it was stated was this—We are in the enjoyment of a system of religious education; we, by our own efforts, are in possession of that system. Notwithstanding what is said of Prussia—notwithstanding what is said of America—we, the working men of England, are in possession of a regular system of education, and a system which has been productive of more thought and of more co-operation and independence than all those systems which are so highly vaunted. Will you, then, the Members for Yorkshire, interfere with this system, and, by the introduction of a secular system of education, overthrow that which is established?The argument was very ably put; but I don't think it was just as applied to the hon. Member (Mr. Cobden). At all events, I think any fears of that kind ought to be allayed, and I think you cannot establish a system of national education wisely or effectively in which you do not take into account the immense good which has been done and the immense good now doing by these various societies. I should be very glad if in a parish meeting, or if in a meeting of a town council, it could be agreed that a particular kind of school should be established, that such school should be resorted to by the inhabitants of the parish or town generally, and that it should work in harmony. But at the same time we must recollect that, in order to make any scheme work well, we must have the active zeal, not only of the schoolmaster, but of persons visiting and superintending the school. I am sorry to say that there is an immense mass of the population beyond all the efforts which have hitherto been used. What the hon. Member for East Somersetshire (Mr. Miles) said on this subject is quite true. There is in our large towns, and in a great part of the country, a mass of people who have not been educated at any school, whose children have not been educated at any school, and who are beyond the efforts of any of the Parliamentary Votes which have been given. These are the population to which I think any measure of education ought particularly to be directed. I believe that a measure which left, as much as possible, to the present existing schools of the several denominations the carrying on of education in the manner which the consciences of the parties concerned would direct would be the best, and, at the same 998 time, to provide for that great mass which is outside those efforts. I think that would be the only practical foundation for any future scheme of national education. The hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire has represented—following rather too much in this respect the representations of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall)—that this is an irresponsible power, and that the Houses of Parliament are not informed of the measures adopted. I think what I have stated is a testament to the contrary, and shows, at least, that I was willing, and that I intended, to have had a full discussion upon the subject. The hon. Gentleman says there was a plan adopted last year somewhat secretly—a capitation rate for certain parishes—and that the House was some time before it discovered it. Last year—on the 4th of April—I stated at great length the views of Government with regard to education, and I mentioned the measures proposed to be introduced into Parliament as well as those laid before the Committee of the Privy Council. I said then that—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 suns 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."—[3 Hansard, cxxv. 538.]I produced soon afterwards that minute, and if any hon. Gentleman desired to make any observations upon it, it was fully open to him to do so. I cannot but think, therefore, whatever may be the defects of the system, that it was merely done in order to supply all that could be supplied without calling it a plan of education. The proceedings of the Committee of Council, like any other department of the State, is under the observation of Parliament. When these Estimates are framed, the rules on which the grants are given are laid before Parliament, and Parliament has an opportunity, on every occasion, of either objecting to the money proposed or to the mode of its appropriation. Under these circumstances, therefore, I cannot agree to the Amendment of the hon. Gen- 999 tleman (Mr. Miall), nor do I think it requisite to raise the difficult and perilous questions which would meet us were we to propose any general and national scheme at the present time. I should be glad if, by means of discussion, we could be enabled to arrive at anything like an agreement upon this subject. The hon. Member for the West Riding has used most laudable efforts himself to improve and extend the education of the country, but I do not believe, if we were to bring in a plan which took no notice of religion in the subject of education, we should be likely to succeed. I am supposing now a plan in conformity with the proposition of the hon. Gentleman, and to such a plan I do not think we should obtain the assent of this House or of the country. I believe a plan of that kind would be liable to all that feeling of opposition which was raised many years ago to the various plans I have referred to. But in any plan brought forward we must preserve that which has already been done. I do not believe, after all—though there is a great deal of ignorance in this country—I do not believe there is a country in which education has made such rapid progress as in this within the last five years. I trust that the result of that progress will be, that we shall come to a more general conviction that what remains to be done ought to be effected. I quite agree that there could be no work more worthy of Parliament than a national system of education —the extension of education to every poor child throughout the country. But I trust that whenever such a plan is brought forward it will be maturely considered, for after the failures that have taken place—after the failure this year of the Scotch Education Bill—the bringing forward of an immature general plan for England and Wales would very much tend to postpone the adoption of any plan for many years. I have endeavoured from 1839 to the present time to promote education. I was in hopes that, though not able to carry any system of national education, I had yet done something towards this object; and I can only say I am sorry to find, from what has fallen from the hon. Member for the West Riding, that he thinks I have been a great obstacle in the way of education.
§ MR. EWART
said, he thought the speech of the hon. Member for the West Riding hardly called for the concluding observations of the noble Lord. The noble Lord had certainly done much for the pro- 1000 motion of popular education, and he also considered that great good had been done by the Committee of Council on Education, but he did not believe that the Committee of Council could be the means of affording a thorough system of education to the people of this country. He was of opinion that nothing less than a system of general rating would suffice for that object, and he thought that general rating ought to be carried out on the principle of self-government, which might be said to be indigenous to this country. In connection with this question, he wished to ask whether any reform was to take place in our public schools? It would be of little use reforming the Universities, unless there was also a complete reformation of our intermediate schools. Though he did not think a thorough national system of education could be carried out soon, or that immediate harmony on the subject was to be expected, yet he saw that there was an approximation to that end, and he hoped that from that evening they would be able to see their way to a complete national system of education.
§ MR. HEYWORTH
said, it was the voluntary principle that had accomplished the great object of which they heard so much in that House, and he was astonished that the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) should have any distrust and want of confidence in that principle. The hon. Member for the West Riding had himself been a great voluntary teacher when he instructed the country from one end to the other in the principles of free trade, and he, of all others, ought to put implicit confidence in the voluntary principle. Improve the position of the people, and they would soon everywhere establish schools for themselves; and the only way to improve the position of the people was to follow up the course they had been pure suing, to open up to the utmost the channels of trade and commerce, and remove I taxation from every article of commerce, and from everything that could promote the comfort and well-being of the people. Of all the systems of education that had been in operation that of Sunday Schools had been the most effective, and they were entirely upheld by voluntary effort. The proof of a people being well educated was the moral propriety of their conduct, and he asked if in any country on the Continent they could find a people who conducted themselves, on the whole, better than those of England? The system of 1001 ragged schools also was supported on the voluntary principle, for here, as in many other respects, the interference of the Government would be found impossible.
§ MR. MIALL
said, if he understood the noble Lord as consenting to the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the results of the system of education adopted under the Minutes of Privy Council, he had no objection to withdraw his Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
(2.) 193,040l., Public Education, Ireland.
§ MR. KENNEDY
said, he rose to call the attention of the Committee to the necessity for rendering national education in Ireland more comprehensive and complete —first, by means of industrial instruction adapted to the wants and circumstances of the several districts of Ireland; and, secondly, by securing the most efficient teachers by an adequate scale of salaries commensurate with their important and engrossing duties. The returns showed how highly the privilege of attending an industrial school was estimated in Ireland. The average attendance of scholars in the Irish national schools was 111, but the average attendance at the industrial schools was 433. If the House would promote industrial instruction in schools, it was certain that the children would largely avail themselves of it. The Commissioners of National Education in Ireland had upon their rolls about 544,000 children, but if the proportion were what it ought to be, there would be 1,285,000 children receiving instruction in Ireland, and, if a system of education adapted to the wants and circumstances of Ireland were introduced, there would be that number of children on the rolls of the schools. In England every tall chimney they saw was all index that an industrial school was in operation beneath it; but there was no industrial training for the children of the poor in the greater parts of Ireland. If their object was to educate, instruct, and to elevate the condition of the people, then every national school ought also to be an industrial one in some branch or the other. They had an ignorant population in Ireland, but an industrious one, if an opportunity were allowed them to exercise their powers. He was not begging money for this object, he only asked the Government that the sum devoted to Ireland should be distributed wisely and according to the wants of the country. In order that the 1002 instruction given might be of a good and sound character, they must have suitable teachers reasonably remunerated, but in many parts of Ireland there were great complaints as to the rate of remuneration. The rate of payment varied, he believed, from 18l. to 36l. per annum, though on averaging the sum in the Estimate devoted to teachers he could only make the average a little more than 15l. each per annum. [The hon. Member then read a letter from a teacher, in which the writer said that he was starving, that his salary and income from all sources was only 22l., and he entreated the hon. Member to call attention to the small salaries received by teachers in comparison even with the sums received by policemen and labourers.] He did not on the present occasion intend to move any Amendment, yet he still trusted that the Government would take the matter into consideration; if they did not, he would next Session move an Address for a Commission of Inquiry on this subject.
§ SIR JOHN YOUNG
said, that no subject could be of more importance to all classes of society than that of a judicious union, within certain limits, of an industrious and literary education. The industrial education had been introduced into the national schools of Ireland to such an extent that many well-informed persons thought that they had better for the present not proceed further until they had ascertained how far they could safely carry on this without interfering with a literary education. Industrial education was encouraged in Ireland by the National Board more, he believed, than in any other country in the world, and those who had visited the model schools in various parts of Ireland had hail the satisfaction of seeing the number of pauper children who had, through the means of these schools, been enabled to gain a honest livelihood. They had in Ireland thirty-two model schools, in which both not only the practice but the theory also of agriculture were taught. There were also fifty-six agricultural schools connected with the Poor Law Union, in which the same system as in the model schools was carried on. He considered that the hon. Member (Mr. Kennedy) had understated the salaries of the teachers, as lately there had been a great demand for them, and he believed that the salaries varied from 30l. to 40l. No person certainly was better entitled to bring forward this question that the hon. Member who last addressed the Committee, 1003 for he had, in a remote district of Ireland, established schools which had conferred a great benefit on a neighbourhood which, from its unfortunate situation, could not through other means have received it. He thought, however, that the hon. Member would allow that a system which in the hands of an individual was successful might not be equally so in the hands of the State. It was very doubtful whether the attempt to engraft the industrial system as a general rule upon the educational would be successful; but, however that might be, the Board of National Education and the Government were fully impressed with the advantages of spreading among the poorer classes in Ireland an education in industry as well as in literature. Both in the gaols and the workhouses the plan had been carried out to a very great extent, and much had been done under the national system. In addition to this, a plan for the management of local institutions for practical science and the fine arts was about to be extended to Ireland, and the Government were pushing it forward as much as they possibly could. He gave the hon. Gentleman great credit for his zeal and earnestness upon the subject, but he thought that all that could be desired was now being done. The Government fully appreciated its importance, and they were endeavouring to carry it out as far as practicable.
§ MR. J. BALL
said, he agreed with the right hon. Baronet that it might not be practical for the Government or State to undertake, in that complete sense which some persons had desired, a perfect and organised system for industrial employment of the poor of Ireland. He believed that the system which had been commenced in Ireland had not reached the point it might attain. He would beg to suggest to the right hon. Secretary for Ireland a point for consideration, namely, whether the teachers were properly qualified for giving instruction in industrial pursuits. It appeared to him (Mr. Ball) that the defects of an early education prevented them from being so useful as they might be to the youthful poor of Ireland. There were some branches of industry which were connected with the fine arts which were especially congenial to the minds of the Irish poor, and in which the boys attained rapidly a great success. One branch he would mention was carving in wood and stone. He hoped the Government would exert themselves to encourage these branches of industrial education.
§ MR. M'MAHON
said, he must express a hope that the Commissioners of Education would encourage the instruction of children in the making of fishing-nets. The fisheries of Ireland were formerly carried on with great vigour and success. The county which he represented (Wexford) was particularly remarkable for the great fishery trade which it carried on. Lord Morpeth, in 1826, had obtained a Committee of Inquiry into the fisheries of Ireland, which had been nearly destroyed by the legislation of the British Parliament; and that Committee expressed a desire that attention should be paid to the necessity of instructing the children in the schools in the art of making nets.
Vote agreed to.
(3.) 79,845l., Departments of Science and Art, &c.
§ MR. ALEXANDER HASTIE
said, he wished to urge the claims of Glasgow to have an industrial museum established there, regard being had to its connection with the commercial, manufacturing, and mining enterprise of Scotland. He had no objection to the proposed establishment of such an institution at Edinburgh, but he hoped that Glasgow would not be forgotten, for the strongest possible testimony had been given that a museum there would be productive of great public advantage.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, the claims of Glasgow, as the centre of industrial enterprise in Scotland, could never be overlooked by the Legislature, but it must be borne in mind that the establishment of museums involved considerable expense. At present there were none of the kind except in London, Dublin, and Edinburgh, and it must be borne in mind that there was a broad distinction between these and all other towns. What Parliament might do hereafter it was of course impossible to say.
said, he thought they should have more experience of these museums before they extended them to the, other towns of the country. He wished to call the attention of the Committee to some of the items of the Vote, and particularly to the fact of there being two secretaries at Marlborough House, each at 1,000l. a year. He also wished for some explanation to be given with regard to the Vote of 8,500l., for the Industrial Museum, Scotland.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, he was very much inclined to think that at a future time, when the institution at Marlborough 1005 House should have become consolidated, in the event of one of the secretaryships becoming vacant, it would be worth while to consider whether it would be necessary to fill it up. But it was quite a different thing when the department was first established. With respect to the Vote of 8,500l. for the Industrial Museum in Edinburgh, it would be seen that by far the greater part of it (7,000l.) was for the purchase of a site.
§ MR. JOHN MACGREGOR
said, he also must urge the claims of Glasgow; he trusted that the privilege would be extended before long to other large towns, both in England and Ireland.
§ MR. HUTCHINS
said, that the Committee upon Accidents in Coal Mines, of which he was the Chairman, found that many of those accidents arose from a want of scientific knowledge among the people, and he therefore recommended that mining schools, supported by grants from Government, should be established throughout the country. He would also suggest that persons should be placed in the different museums to give explanations of their contents to the visitors.
§ COLONEL BLAIR
said, that the observations of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Macgregor) appeared to be that of a conscience-stricken man; for it was only two nights ago when that hon. Gentleman was the only Scotch Member that was found voting in favour of a proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take away the Snell exhibition from the Scotch University. He (Colonel Blair) would, however, admit that when a museum was to be established for the first time, it should be established in the capital of the country.
§ MR. JOHN MACGREGOR
said, that the hon. and gallant Member had made a charge against him of an extraordinary character. He was prepared to defend the vote he gave the other night with regard to the Snell exhibition, in connection with the other proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In giving that vote he felt that he was doing the best for the University of Glasgow.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he willingly admitted the utility of this department, but he must call attention to the large amount which was expended on salaries, and particularly to the employment of two secretaries, one of whom he hoped, after the observations made by the noble Lord 1006 (Lord Seymour) would be dispensed with when an opportunity occurred.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, the duties of the two secretaries were at the time extremely different, and the establishment had been carefully considered by the recent Treasury Commission.
§ MR. HEYWOOD
begged to express his satisfaction at the Vote of 3,200l. for meteorological observations at sea. The American Government had for many years had a department at Washington for carrying on those observations, which had led to the shortening of several voyages, that from New York to South America having been shortened, he believed, by a fortnight.
§ MR. J. BALL
said, he trusted that the Vote would be increased in future years, as no branch of science had of late years, progressed so rapidly as that of meteorology. He hoped that the observations made by different persons upon land as well as at sea would be collected, as, if that were done, he anticipated that in a few years, notwithstanding the variable climate of this country, we might know in this metropolis the condition of the weather twenty-four hours beforehand. [Laughter.] Science had in modern times achieved even more astonishing things than this, and therefore his anticipation was not so ridiculous as some hon. Gentlemen appeared to suppose. He hoped the right hon. President of the Board of Trade would not allow any trifling economical considerations to stand in the way of making a collection of all the valuable observations that were now being accumulated.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, he hoped the hon. Gentleman's prediction regarding the progress of meteorological science would prove true, as it would be exceedingly useful for the farmer to know when he would be able to begin cutting his hay. Hon. Gentlemen spoke as if art and science were one and the same thing, but he certainly could see no connection whatever between them. He had not the least doubt that science was making rapid advances in this country; but as to the progress of art, he begged leave to question that extremely. In the first place, not knowing for themselves very much about the matter, people took hold of a French expression which they were unable to translate. They saw the phrase "école de dessein," and they translated it "a school of design." Now, école de dessein meant a drawing school, 1007 and not a school of design; but what was worse, these people limited this French word dessein to mere pattern drawing in artificial flowers and muslins, and this was what they called their école de dessein. Well, then, but they bought a picture, and when they had given an enormous price for it they set to work upon it with a piece of pumice-stone, and spoilt it by rubbing the best touches of the painter all out. It was not so much this that he thought remarkable, but what most surprised him was that it should be seriously debated among people who professed themselves connoisseurs of the fine arts whether a painting was or was not really improved by this pumice-stone vandalism. It showed an intense amount of narrow ignorance on all such subjects that deluded the people with the idea that they could have any real taste for the highest art. Why, they might just as well try to force the Italians to like beef-steaks and porter, instead of light wine and maccaroni. The thing was perfectly absurd. He would not divide the Committee on this Vote, but it was a piece of rank imposture; and he thought very little better of the previous grant for education, which was, like this senseless rage about art, a mere monomania of the day—but vogue la galère.
§ Vote agreed to.
(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding 2,006l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of Salaries and Allowances to certain Professors in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, to the 31st day of March, 1855.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, though he objected to many Votes, he had never offered any opposition to those for the promotion of science and the arts except this, which he certainly objected to in the strongest manner, on the ground of the vast revenues of the Universities, amounting, he believed, to upwards of 300,000l. a year. He thought it was too bad for them to come to the House of Commons for a Vote of 2,006l. for lecturers in the University, and he should divide the Committee on it.
§ MR. J. WILSON
said, this charge was originally on the civil list, but was removed, in 1831, to the Estimates. There was a clause in the Bill recently passed in that House which induced him to hope that the University of Oxford would take these charges on itself in future, in return 1008 for Parliament undertaking to repeal certain stamp duties in such a case.
§ MR. HEYWOOD
said, he objected to the Vote, even although it had been a charge that formerly appeared in the civil list; but he would recommend the hon. Member (Mr. Williams) not go to a division now, as he (Mr. Heywood) hoped that the whole subject of the University revenues would be made the matter of an inquiry before a Select Committee next year.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he should be glad to see the Universities take this charge. upon themselves at once. He should, however, persist in his intention of dividing the Committee.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
said, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that much dissatisfaction had been felt and expressed at the charge for the professor of civil law, which was only 100l. a year, being put upon the Estimates. Moreover, he understood that the Chair had been vacant for the last twelve months.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided. The numbers reported by the Tellers were:—Ayes 154; Noes 25: Majority 129.
§ MR. J. WILSON
said, he wished to state, in consequence of the observations of the hon. and learned Member for Ayr, that the professor of civil law held his office against his own inclination, but at the particular desire of the University, and that his deputy, who discharged all the duties, received all the emoluments of the office.
Notice taken, that the Honourable Member for Ayr had given his voice with the Noes, and had voted with the Ayes:—Whereupon the Chairman directed his vote to be reckoned with the Noes:—Ayes 153; Noes 26: Majority 127.
§ House resumed.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Two o'clock till Monday next.