§ Order for Committee read.
§ House in Committee of Supply.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum not exceeding 296, 921l., be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge for Public Education in Great Britain, to the 31st day of March, 1856, including the sum required for promoting Voluntary Assessments towards the expense of building Schools in Great Britain.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that he would state as briefly as possible, the manner in which the educational Vote of last year had been expended, and how it was proposed to expend that for the present year. The sum required for the present year was 381, 921l., of which 100,000l., had been already voted, in addition to which there was a supplemental estimate of 15,000l., making together the sum of 396, 921l. The sum required last year was 343, 873l., showing an increase of 38, 048l., exclusive of that 15,000l. He thought that some misapprehension existed respecting the difference between the estimate of last year and the present year, as he perceived that a notice of Motion had been given by an hon. Gentleman to reduce the Estimate for the present year to the amount which he conceived had been granted for the last year; but the facts were that the actual Vote of last year was 263,000l., whereas the estimate was 343, 873l., the reason of that difference being that there was a balance of 80,000l., remaining out of the Votes of preceding years, which being added to the Vote of last year made up the sum of 343, 873l. The whole of the Vote of last year had been expended, and, therefore, it was necessary to vote the whole amount of the Estimate for the current year. The Estimate was divided into twelve heads, the principal of which he proposed to explain, showing the results of the appropriation of the Parliamentary grant of last year. The first item was for buildings, 70,000l., while that of last year was only 61,000l. Between 1401 1833 and the end of 1854, 4,514 schools had been erected, enlarged, or improved by the aid of the Parliamentary grant and 700,000 scholars had been provided with additional or improved school accommodation. A number of schools, approaching to one-third of the total number of public schools returned by the Registrar-General in the Census of 1851, had been erected or improved by the aid of this grant in the course of twenty one years. During the past year the number of schools so erected was 262, at a cost of 198, 279l., of which 60, 089l. was provided from the Parliamentary grant, so that the amount voluntarily subscribed was 138, 180l. By part of the Minute, dated 2nd of April, 1853, an increased rate of aid had been allowed for building schools in the rural districts and smaller towns. It was now proposed to extend the same rate to all parts of the country, and the supplementary estimate of 15,000l. was presented to meet the additional outlay. The second item included a grant for the purchase of books and maps of 4,000l., while that of last year was 1,782l. 15s. 4d. Grants for that purpose were first proposed in 1847, and up to the end of 1854 the number of applications complied with were 5,240, and the total expenditure in seven years amounted to 57, 281l., out of which 15,000l. was provided from the Government grant. Several of the next items might be comprised under one general head. First came the grants for stipends of pupil teachers and gratuities to schoolmasters and mistressess instructing them, amounting to 145,000l. There were then the capitation grants, estimated at 12,000l., by which, under another part of the Minute of the 2nd of April, 1853, schools in the rural parts of the country, and in the smaller towns, received special aid on certain conditions, in proportion to the number of scholars attending. The grants in augmentation of certificated schoolmasters and mistresses were 47,000l.; and the grants to assistant teachers, 4,500l. The number of pupil teachers, or apprentices, at the end of 1854 was 7, 596, showing a progressive increase during the last four years. At the end of 1851 the number was only 5, 607; in 1852, 6,180; in 1853, 6,912; and in 1854, 7,596. Each of these pupil teachers was engaged for five years, during which period, while learning his future profession, he superseded the former monitorial agency by the assistance he rendered the schoolmaster. 1402 7,596 pupil teachers thus employed represented about 300,000 scholars under that improved system of instruction, and the testimony of inspectors and school managers was unanimous in acknowledgment of the services and good conduct of that class of persons. A return moved for by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) showed what number of those pupil teachers might be reasonably expected to find their way into schools, and from it there appeared that the total number of pupil teachers who had been entered as apprentices under the Minutes of 1846 up to the 31st of December, 1854, was 12,474, of whom only 694 had quitted the profession of teaching. But the education of these pupil teachers did not end there. One important item in the estimate was for grants to training schools, amounting exclusive of Kneller Hall, to about 50,000l. There were thirty-eight such training schools—twenty-two for schoolmasters, and sixteen for mistresses, erected at a cost of about 300,000l., and maintained at an annual outlay of about 60,000l., with room for 2,000, but actually containing about 1,690 scholars. Of the pupil teachers about 1,500 completed their apprenticeship annually, and they then had the opportunity of obtaining by examination exhibitions in those training schools, which they retained for two years. The present number of such exhibitioners was 929. The training schools were also open to students who, without having been Government apprentices, desired to qualify themselves to become certificated schoolmasters. Great pains had been taken, as would appear from the Reports recently presented to Parliament, to settle a regular course of instruction for those training schools, and to maintain them by annual examinations, according to the results of which grants were made from the Parliamentary fund to each school. All the above system—the apprenticeship, the training and examination for certificates, and the placing out of the certificated students as schoolmasters, who gathered round them and trained fresh apprentices—was in full and successful operation. At the end of 1851 there were 1,173 certificated teachers at work in schools; there were now 2,836. In December last, 2,239 candidates for such certificates were simultaneously examined at thirty-two different places, of whom 1,060 passed successfully. The result of the examination carried with it in grants about 27,827l. 1403 Besides the abovementioned examinations, each training school was minutely inspected and reported on annually by one of the Government Inspectors, and that machinery was calculated to furnish the country with nearly 1,000 well-educated masters per annum, and to assist them with between 7,000 and 8,000 apprentices. That was the great fact of the Minutes of Council, in comparison with which the other parts of the scheme were subordinate. With regard to Kneller Hall, the Minutes on the table fully explained the causes of its failure, and the future course proposed to be taken by the Government in respect to it. He was happy to say that the services of the principal, Mr. Temple, of whose ability it was impossible to speak too highly, would still be secured in connection with the business of the Committee of Council, and that, as soon as Kneller Hall was abandoned, which would probably be the case in the course of a few months, that gentleman would serve as one of the Inspectors. One class of schools not specially named in the Estimates, and to which assistance was given, was ragged or industrial schools. These were aided by a capitation grant of 10s. for every scholar under industrial instruction, and the Committee of Council also allowed one-third of the cost of purchasing tools or putting up workshops, and one-half of the rent of the premises, including land for cultivation. The aid thus afforded was, he believed, productive of great benefit. The establishment expenses formerly charged principally on the Council Office grant were now comprised in the present Vote for education, and amounted to 9,431l. That office establishment had recently been revised by the Commissioners of Inquiry into Public Offices, whose Report was presented to Parliament in February last. One impartant item in the Estimate remained to be noticed—namely, the charge of 31,940l. for inspection. In the course of last year 5,575 schools had been inspected, and the inspection afforded not only a most valuable opportunity for the advice and co-operation of experienced officers in the management of schools, but was also a great and effectual security for the fulfilment of the conditions on which the Parliamentary grant was appropriated. A general review of the results of the Parliamentary grant during the past year showed that 312 elementary schools and eleven normal schools had been erected, enlarged, or improved; that 919 schools 1404 had received grants for the purchase of books and maps; that 539 additional certificated teachers were employed, together with seventy-seven additional assistant teachers, and 684 additional pupil teachers; and that the schools in rural districts, and in smaller towns, aided by grants calculated on the attendance of their scholars, were 667. The number of students under training in normal schools at the end of 1853 occupied only 70 per cent of the accommodation provided. They now occupied 78 per cent of that accommodation, while a school for sixty additional students had been opened in the meantime. At the end of 1853, forty-two industrial schools were receiving assistance; at the end of 1854, sixty-five. In 1853, 4341 schools, under separate teachers, were inspected; in 1854, 5,575, exclusively of thirty-eight normal schools. Such was the general result of the means now in operation for promoting popular education throughout the country. It was not right, perhaps, to speak of what was thus done as a system of education. The principle which had thus been acted upon was that of aiding, extending, and improving the existing educational agencies throughout the country, and its most important effect had, no doubt, been the improvement in the quality of education, by raising the standard, position, and qualifications of the schoolmaster. The facts he had stated showed to what an extent that had been accomplished, and how widely that benefit was being diffused, and, whatever might be the future decision of Parliament with regard to education, it was impossible but that the greatest advantage must be derived from the vast number of well-educated and highly qualified teachers provided under the recent operation of Parliamentary grants.
§ MR. BARNES
said, he was reluctantly compelled to oppose the proposed grant, and should move the reduction of the Vote to 263,000l. He did so because he believed that the grant inflicted great injustice upon a large portion of the inhabitants of the country, and failed to accomplish the object for which it was originally allowed. The taxes of the country were supplied by the whole of the people, but it could not be said that the grants of money for educational purposes were equally distributed among all those who paid taxes. Many persons who endeavoured to obtain an honest livelihood by giving instruction received no portion of the grant, and others equally suffered who refused, upon conscientious 1405 grounds, to receive grants of money for educational purposes. He was satisfied that the House would never have consented to grant a sum of money for the education of the middle classes, and yet, according to the Reports of the inspectors, they were the persons whose children now filled the schools. The proportion of poor children in those schools did not exceed 7 to 9 per cent. There could be little doubt that in many cases the money had been extravagantly and unwisely applied, and, though originally intended solely for the education of the poor, a large portion of it was at present expended in the education and preparation of pupil teachers and certificated teachers. Those persons frequently proved not to be good teachers, or were above their work, and the effect of the present system was to encourage a sort of fraud, for young men obtained an education professedly with the object of becoming teachers, but really with the view of rendering that education a steppingstone to the attainment of ulterior objects. It appeared from Mr. Moseley's Report that 750 pupil teachers finished their apprenticeship in 1853, but it appeared that very few of them ultimately became teachers. Mr. Moseley stated that one-third of the pupil teachers educated in his district did not continue in the scholastic profession. Mr. Stewart said that out of sixty-seven apprentices in his district twenty-one were Queen's scholars, each of whom had cost the public 319l. at the end of two years. After receiving such an expensive education, however, there was no security that the Queen's scholars would devote themselves to that occupation for which they had been prepared at the public charge. The general conclusion at which the inspectors had arrived was that the cost of pupil teachers was excessive; that many of them abandoned the profession of teaching; that, after being educated at the public cost as teachers for public schools, the education they had so received only tended to their own private advancement in other walks of life; and that the system might be regarded, so far, a failure. He (Mr. Barnes) considered therefore that the Reports of the inspectors were strong reasons for reducing the grant. He also objected to the grant, because he regarded it as an insidious mode of setting aside the decisions of that House, which had repeatedly determined that it would not establish any of the systems of national education which had been proposed. The 1406 gradual increase of the grants for educational purposes was, however, establishing a system of education which had not been discussed in Parliament; and he thought the House was bound, by regard for its own dignity, to take care that no such system should be established without full consideration. He also considered that the manner in which the grants were administered involved a flagrant violation of the principle of religious liberty, for it was well known that in many parishes children were required to learn the Church Catechism, or to attend church on Sundays, as the condition on which they were admitted to the schools. Mr. Watkins, one of the inspectors, expressed his disappointment at the working of the system during twelvemonths previous to the time at which his Report was made, observing that the attempt to improve the education of the labouring classes had been attended with little success, and that it appeared from the year's inspection that little, if any, progress had been made by the scholars. Those facts, he thought, would justify the Committee in refusing to increase the grant. Last year, when the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall) brought forward a Motion on the subject, the noble Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) promised that a Committee of inquiry should be appointed, but no inquiry had yet been instituted. He (Mr. Barnes) therefore hoped the Committee would not extend the grant beyond the amount voted last year until such an inquiry had taken place.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum not exceeding 263,000l., be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge for Public Education in Great Britain, to the 31st day of March, 1856, including the sum required for promoting Voluntary Assessments towards the expense of building Schools in Great Britain.
§ MR. W. EWART
said, he must admit that we were not in a satisfactory condition with respect to education. We had no system, but the country voted so much per annum to stimulate voluntary effort. He thought his hon. Friend who had last addressed them had shown, not that too much money was voted for education, but that it was not distributed in the best possible manner. He feared that there were many districts, which the Government grant did not reach, in which, in consequence of the poverty of the inhabitants, there was the greatest want of State assistance. He believed that one great 1407 error of our system was in not adequately providing for a suitable class of teachers. If we could do that we should do a great deal for the improvement of education throughout the country. He thought it would also be of great service to the cause if a statement of the progress of education in the country were laid before the House from time to time. He must at the same time express his opinion that it was desirable to found a national system of education, in which local self-government was combined with an adequate control by Parliament. He believed it was quite possible to frame such a system.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he did not agree with the hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. Barnes), that the system at present in operation was no system at all. On the contrary, he believed that it was the one which was most in accordance with the feelings of the people of the country, and he should regret to see any material alteration made in it. He thought, however, that in future it would be desirable that a statement of the progress and state of education in the country, like that which was appended to the Educational Votes for Ireland, should be laid before the House. He should support the Government against the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. BARROW
eulogised both Churchmen and Dissenters for their voluntary and successful exertions in the spread of education. He believed in the ultimate success of the voluntary system, and he could only regard the present Vote as a return of a portion of the taxes received from all portions of the people for the general education of the people. At the same time, he could not help thinking that the schoolmasters were over educated for their future position. He saw that an acquaintance with the three first books of Euclid was expected from a candidate for a Queen's scholarship upon his admission into the training school for masters; and it was not surprising, that pupils so prepared, and with other qualifications acquired in the training school, should seek higher situations and be unwilling to submit to the drudgery of teaching children of the working classes the rudiments of education. The profound classics conducting our public schools, are not occupied in teaching to the lowest forms the rudiments of Latin grammar. It was to be hoped, therefore, that the Committee of Council would reconsider their system as it related to certificated teachers. A greater proportion of their funds might be 1408 advantageously spent upon village schools; and, moreover, the amounts distributed should be fixed, not according to the sums voluntarily subscribed in particular districts, but rather according to the degree of poverty and the wants of each locality. Again, the restrictions in force respecting sites for schools in very populous neighbourhoods were very onerous, and instances had occurred in which the benefits of the grant had been foregone by the founders of schools rather than comply with them. If some relaxation were made in the conditions, and if the general rules under which the State's aid was dispensed were also made known in a simpler form than through the medium of voluminous Bluebooks, a greater stimulus would no doubt be imparted to the spread of education. He was anxious that children of all descriptions should have a moral and religious education, and he did not therefore object to the practice of any parties taking their children to their own places of worship to learn their peculiar religious tenets. With respect to crime and education, and the proportion of educated men connected with crime, that might be accounted for by the fact that the learning taught was rather the learning of science than of religion and morality. If an equal attention to inculcating religion and morals was displayed as was devoted to acquiring art and science, the anomally referred to would disappear. With respect to the educational wants of criminals, he had examined into the subject, and he had discovered that great errors had been committed by those who drew up the statistics on the subject of crime. He was satisfied that education had made great progress, and he should, therefore, not wish to see the grant for education reduced.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that, having repeatedly had occasion during the Session to trespass on the attention of the House on the subject of education, he would on the present occasion only offer a very few observations. And, first, he must hail with satisfaction the accession produced by that discussion to the number of those who evinced a warm and sincere interest in the great cause of education, which was, beyond all doubt, the most important domestic question of the day, and excited an interest in the public mind second only to the war in which we were unhappily engaged, although unfortunately it did not excite a proportionate degree of interest in that House. While, however, 1409 gladly welcoming a new adherent in the person of the hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. Barnes), it was to be regretted that the hon. Gentleman, who had evidently directed much attention to the subject, should have signalised his first address in relation to it by a proposition to reduce one of the very few supports of national education to which the people could trust. The Government, indeed, deserved the gratitude of the public for having on the present occasion increased the grant—which had been gradually augmented during the last few years—considerably beyond the amount which it had ever before reached. In reality, however, the hon. Gentleman had found fault with the mode in which the grant was expended rather than with its amount. A large portion of the sum was very wisely devoted to the object of providing a good supply of efficient schoolmasters, without which no system of education, however skilfully contrived in other respects, could prove satisfactory in its working. The want of such a body of schoolmasters was one of the worst defects of our present system; and therefore it was gratifying to find that nearly 200,000l. of the entire Vote was intended to be applied to the remedy of that very serious deficiency. Since he had previously addressed the House on the question he had held communication with several gentlemen eminently conversant with it, who had assured him that the pupil teachers conferred so much benefit on the existing schools that, even if they did not afterwards take to the profession of schoolmasters, they fairly earned the whole of the money that had been expended upon them. It had been said that the schoolmasters were over-trained. Now, the true ground of complaint was not so much that the schoolmasters were educated to too high a point as that their training did not reach sufficiently low. It did not comprehend those industrial and other pursuits, a knowledge of which was so essential to those who undertook to teach in country schools. On that point, however, as well as upon others to which objection had been taken, a remedy would be supplied by the establishment of a properly constituted educational department. He was glad to hear from the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell) on a former evening that such a step was contemplated by Her Majesty's Government, and he felt convinced that it would lead to very great benefits. The 1410 fault was not, as the hon. Member for Bolton maintained, that the grant was too large (be wished it were larger), but that there was no Minister there to answer for the spending of it. He trusted that that was the last time he should hear a Secretary of State for the Home Department moving an Educational Vote. He hoped, in future, that the Vote would be moved by the Minister at the head of the proposed Educational Department. He hoped that for the future every facility would be given to the poor rural districts to take advantage of those grants, and that they would not be confined, as they had been, to the richer districts. He should be glad, too, to see it laid down as a rule that the public money should be granted only to those schools into which children of all religious denominations were admitted. He by no means wished to deprive schools of their religious character, quite the contrary; but, if any school connected with a religious denomination received grants from the public funds, it ought to be on the condition that no child should be excluded from it on account of a difference of religious opinions.
§ MR. EVELYN DENISON
said, he could not agree with the mover of the Amendment for the reduction of the Vote, and he could not understand the ground on which the hon. Gentleman rested his argument, for he stated that it was founded on the objection that no assistance was afforded to the poorer districts, whereas he (Mr. Denison) thought he understood his right hon. Friend (Sir G. Grey) to say that the grant was enlarged in order that assistance might be given to the poorer districts. He wished to ask his right hon. Friend to explain more in detail in what manner the assistance was to be extended to the poorer, and especially to the rural poorer districts. With regard to a point which had been referred to, namely, the improvement in the education afforded, causing the scholars to attend for a shorter period than they otherwise would, he had felt so strongly on the subject, that he had given notice of Motion, with a view to establishing a system by which children receiving wages should contribute something towards their education, and he had since been informed that some such system had been adopted, and was found to work satisfactorily. The circumstances which had occurred in connection with the question of education that year had led him to believe that the present system was 1411 the most conducive to education, although he admitted that it was capable of improvement.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he wished to inquire what was the meaning of the term "voluntary assessment," which he observed was used in the Minute connected with the Supplemental Estimate of 15,000l., which had been laid on the table?
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that the term of the Minute had been taken from a Minute of 1853, in which, under the head of capitation grants, certain grants were made to districts where the contributions were not of sufficient amount to meet the rule on which the grants were usually made. It was now proposed to do away with the distinction between rural and urban districts, and a sum of 27,000l. was taken to meet the grants to the rural districts that year. The Minute extended that of 1853 to all districts, whether rural or urban. He did not think the hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. Barnes) had done justice to the system of pupil teachers, for only 694 of the large number trained had failed to continue in that calling, and considering the marriages of some of the females, deaths, and emigration, the number was not in reality more than 500. He (Sir G. Grey) did not believe that they could bring the standard of education in Great Britain, as tested by the number of children who attended schools, to the continental standard unless they adopted the continental system. With respect to pupil teachers, Mr. Moseley was of opinion that there was the greatest advantage from them, and he stated that whatever legislative measure might be adopted it would fail unless there was first provided an efficient body of pupil teachers. With regard to what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) as to the intention of the Government to form a department of education which was to supersede the Committee of Privy Council, he had the satisfaction of stating that the announcement of his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) was a more certain announcement of the intention of the Government than when he (Sir G. Grey) had mentioned such a matter as the result of his individual opinion. It was proposed that the President of the Council, without ceasing to hold that office, should be the Minister solely charged with the distribution of the Parliamentary grant, and to direct all that was committed to the Government under 1412 the present or any future system of education. The department would of course be represented in that House by some Member of the Government in the same manner as was done with regard to the Poor Law and other Boards. He trusted that the change could be effected before the Estimate was again moved; and he fully concurred with his hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. W. Ewart), that if such a department was established it ought to embrace not only the charge of education technically so called, but instruction in science and art.
§ MR. ALCOCK
said, he thought that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) was entitled to the thanks of the House for the excellent measure which he had introduced. He saw no objection to the present Vote, but rather regretted that it was so small.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, that he did not think the present grant was excessive, and, therefore, he could not agree to the Amendment to reduce it. With respect to the teachers, he thought, considering the class of children to be instructed, that the standard of requirements on the part of the instructor was too high, which led to a system of cramming. What was wanted in an elementary school was to give the children that kind of elementary knowledge which would bring their faculties into play, and render them fit to perform the duties appertaining to their station of life. He believed that if the system which the Government had acted upon had been made a little more elastic a much greater amount of good might have been effected, because he was convinced that the House of Commons never would have complained if in districts where contributions were not to be expected from the inhabitants, the Government had acted with liberality, and had established schools wherever they appeared to be necessary. He had never heard any complaints that the Government had given money. The only complaint which he had known urged, on the contrary, was, that they had imposed restrictions upon the mode of obtaining the money which rendered the grant inoperative. He believed it was perfectly notorious that in many places there was school accommodation which was not used, and he would suggest that it would be desirable if in some of the poorer of those neighbourhoods the Government would endeavour 1413 to ascertain the reason why the children did not attend the school. If the Government could obtain any information upon that important subject, it would enable the House, possibly, to deal with it and to apply the proper remedy. He thanked the Government for their proposal to give assistance to a class of schoolmasters who were not quite so highly educated as those who were originally intended. If he properly understood the Minute, the registered schoolmasters were not quite of so high a grade as the others, and he thought it but right that they should have some assistance from the Government in schools which were not able to maintain such highly-trained masters as those to whom the grant was at present confined. He thought that, as far as possible, the grants should be accessible to all classes. He did not wish to see the grant diminished; on the contrary, he was certain that if the Government went on widening the basis, as they now seemed disposed to do, they would lay the foundation for a somewhat extended grant, which would produce corresponding advantages, and would supply the great want which was now felt in the matter of public education. There was no doubt that the great mass of the people were much more alive to the advantages of education than they were forty or fifty years ago. At the same time, when children became old enough to earn money, it was a great temptation to the parents to withdraw them from school, and it was, therefore, important that no opportunity for improving the material condition of the people should be lost sight of. If their physical welfare were promoted, he was satisfied that they would send their children to the schools in greatly increased numbers.
§ MR. MIALL
said, he thought that, in whatever manner the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bolton might be dealt with, the Committee were indebted to that hon. Member for raising the present discussion, and for the manner in which he had brought out many of the facts detailed in the Reports of the inspectors. It was important that the Committee should understand the ground on which the opposition to the Vote was pressed, which was not the same ground as that on which the opposition to a general educational system was urged. The great bulk of the education of the people was carried on by themselves, and whatever was done by that House could only, as it were, touch the 1414 outside of the subject. The only thing the State could do was to supplement the action of what was called the voluntary principle; but the great objection to the present Vote was that it did not answer the purpose for which it was given. The views of the House on the question of education appeared to be gradually changing and shifting. They were no longer told of the dense ignorance and vice of certain neighbourhoods, or had detailed to them the statistics of gaols. He believed that it had been found by experience that the class the House originally intended to reach by educational means—that class which was so dangerous, and out of which criminals emerged—had not been touched. The ragged schools might touch them, but those schools could only be conducted by persons of Christian benevolence, whose sympathies were warm, and who were not easily to be set aside from their purpose by the difficulties they might encounter in their path. Therefore, the object for which the State interfered in the first instance in the matter of education had not been attained, but another object had, and that was the education through the assistance of the State of the children of small tradesmen, yeomen, and tenant farmers, and thus the independence of a class whose independence ought to be carefully cherished was being undermined. And this was done under the plea that it was to rescue from ignorance and vice a class which was becoming dangerous to society, and which the school system actually did not reach! If the grant were increased to any conceivable amount, the dangerous ignorance of the people would be left just where it was. He (Mr. Miall) believed that, as had been observed by the hon. Member for Bolton, the schoolmasters were over-educated, and made teachers of science instead of being teachers to discipline the character. He believed that the object for which Parliament voted the money was rather to train and form the character and make useful citizens, than to pour any quantity of mere instruction into the mind; but the system which was now pursued was calculated only to cultivate the understanding and not to mould the habits and character of the people. Such was likely to be always the effect of State interference with education, because the Government could not rightly appreciate the circumstances and wants of the working classes. Under such circumstances, he and those who thought with him were justified 1415 in demanding, not the immediate withdrawal of the whole grant, but that it should not be extended until further inquiry were made.
§ MR. COBDEN
had always thought that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall), and those who advocated the voluntary principle, objected to votes of money for a system of education in which religion was combined; while, at the same time, they objected to any system of education in which the secular element was separated from religion, taking up thus an immovable position. His hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale appeared now to have lost sight entirely of the religious objection to the grant, and to oppose it because he said it was not calculated to promote education; but the hon. Gentleman did not in any way prove the truth of that allegation. He also stated that the Educational Votes did not in any way benefit the criminal class of the community. Now, the criminal class was the most ignorant and vicious class, but it was begging the question entirely to assert that the existing system of education, unsatisfactory as it was, did not reach that class. As to the statement of his hon. Friend that the schools which were supported by those grants were attended chiefly by the children of small shopkeepers and farmers, who could really afford to pay for the education of their children, he could only say that in all those schools a large number of the children of labourers was to be found. The hon. Member said the parents of the children in our schools were very well able to pay for their education, but if that were the case, then why should he, and those who assumed the name of voluntaries, aid the poor by eleemosynary subscriptions among the richer members of congregations and churches? Voluntaryism, strictly so called, was violated by such aid as well as by Parliamentary grants, and more harm was done by it in pauperising the recipients of such aid, and the rules of political economy were not less infringed by it. But he (Mr. Cobden) confessed that he was not satisfied with the way in which the public money was now voted and applied for education. He saw the difficulty in which the House of Commons was placed by the refusal of the religious voluntaries to receive a share of the grant. They stood aloof, and then complained of it as an injustice; was that fair to Parliament or to themselves? He (Mr. Cobden), with the right hon. Gentleman the Member 1416 for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), was ready to meet their conscientious objections with an offer of secular education, while, on the other hand, the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Pakington) proposed to adapt the religious teaching of children in schools to the scruples of their parents. But the "voluntary" party were taking a position which really was not tenable, because no one could fail to acknowledge that some good had arisen out of those Parliamentary grants. Let the hon. Member for Rochdale and his Friends help to amend the system, and apply it to all classes of the community. He (Mr. Cobden) was glad to say that the hon. Gentlemen opposite were now making great advances towards a more just and equitable view of popular education; and if anybody had told him, five or ten years ago, that he should have heard such a liberal proposal from that quarter—as that of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington)—so well calculated to bridge over that gulf of difference which had hitherto seemed impassable, in the way of settling the question, he (Mr. Cobden) could not have believed it. Where, then, was now the great obstacle to a satisfactory system being adopted? He was bound to say, and with the greatest regret he said it, that it lay amongst his respectable Friends of the voluntary principle, whose individual efforts to promote education deserved so much credit. Could the hon. Member for Rochdale say now that a national system of education, like that of the United States, was destructive of civil and religious freedom? The observation of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had much truth, that children were kept from school because the parents could not dispense with their earnings; but that difficulty was increased by their having to pay 3d. or 6d. a week for each child, and would be lessened if free schools were established. He (Mr. Cobden) did not agree that the education of schoolmasters was carried too far; if it was found that their training was too good for the functions they had afterwards to perform, that was because there was not an adequate notion of what their functions ought to be, and the children were withdrawn from school at too early an age. The remedy for those evils was to be found elsewhere. The profession of the schoolmaster should be better appreciated, and he should not have to find himself in an inferior social position to that of a clerk 1417 in a counting-house or at a railway station. As for the children, he had heard it sale there should be a compulsory law requiring children to be educated. That had been adopted to some extent in the factory districts, where the children employed in factories were required to have a certain degree of education; and, generally, the great manufacturers of the country had lent themselves most cordially to that law, and had arranged that schools should be provided in their vicinities for the reception of the younger persons intended to work in their establishments. He did not think there would be any great difficulty in carrying out a system of compulsory education, but the schools must be provided first. He knew many large manufacturers who required the children employed by them to he educated, but generally these were men who took such interest in education that they had provided schools in the neighbourhood, and then no great hardship was inflicted. But if the State interfered, and required that every child should be educated, under penalties to be imposed on the parent, while it failed to provide schools such as existed in America, that would be beginning at the wrong end. He believed that the difficulty arose in great part from the low material condition of the mass of the people, and he much regretted that the heavy taxation laid on for the purposes of the war would very much tend to impair the resources of the people. However unsatisfactory the state of popular education might have been twelve months ago when the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) took up this matter, that was at the close of a period of great prosperity; and he (Mr. Cobden) very much feared that we were now approaching a time when we should see a great reverse in the fortunes of the country, and when the mass of the people would sink lower and lower in their social condition; he had no doubt we should see an increase of crime and pauperism, arid that the labouring class would have still greater difficulty in sparing the means for their children's education. Something had been said of establishing a department of education; now, that was beginning at the wrong end. The House of Commons was placed in an anomalous position by allowing the Committee of Council, year after year, to increase the taxation of the country by grants for educational purposes, while Parliament had not yet been able to come to a decision as to 1418 the system of education which should be adopted. No doubt we had done much good by allowing the Privy Council, surreptitiously, as it were, to expend a certain amount in the education of the people; whereas, had we waited till the House of Commons came to a decision upon the system of education to be followed, nothing would have been done at all. He would not cavil, therefore, at what had been done; but there must be a limit to the present mode of proceeding, for we could not go on increasing, year by year, the Vote for education without coming to a decision upon the question of education itself. There were unquestionably anomalies in the present system—such, for example, as the proposed new scheme for encouraging local rating, without any reference whatever being made to that House. But, before a Minister of Education was created, it ought unquestionably to be understood what the education was to be; and he hoped the Government would address itself to that point first. As he had previously said, he was not satisfied with the way in which the money was voted; but, looking at the fact that a great deal of good had been done, he would vote for the increase of the grant, and hoped that the Committee would agree to it by an overwhelming majority.
§ MR. PHILIPPS
said, he thought that, whatever might be the merits of the existing plan, it was the only one that at present could be carried on, and it should receive his support. It was of the greatest importance, however, that the State superintendence should be carried on with tact and discretion, and in such a way as to give encouragement to every effort, however humble, for promoting the education of the country.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, nothing was more obvious than that Government were unable to undertake the education of the people, and that the people must educate themselves. His difficulty was a religious as well as a political difficulty. Education, to be properly conducted, should be religious and moral as well as secular, and the State neither could nor ought to undertake it. In the seventeen years during which the educational grants had been made, 1,467,000l. had been voted by Parliament for England and Wales, out of which the Wesleyans had received in round numbers 60,000l., and the Catholics 30,000l., making altogether 95,442l.; while the Church of England had received 1,090,831l., or, 1419 if the British and Foreign School Society (which he maintained was almost entirely a Church institution) were included, the establishment would have received 1,238,000l. He should like very much to know what were the intentions of the Government with respect to Kneller Hall? Unfortunately, hon. Members sitting near him had been unable to hear seven-eighths of the statement of the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, and he was not aware, therefore, what was to be done with respect to that institution, which stood upon the present list for a grant of 4,500l., having already cost the country 62,000l. The object of establishing Kneller Hall was to train teachers for the purpose of giving instruction in workhouses, but he was informed that only forty-nine persons trained there were in service, and it had been calculated that the cost to the country of every one of those workhouse tutors was 1,000l. His conviction was, that no inducement would prevail upon those with whom he was connected to accept money from the State, for they believed religious instruction to be a necessary part of education, and they would not have state endowments wrung from the taxation of the people, for the purpose of conveying religious instruction. He should certainly support the Amendment.
MR. LLOYD DAVIES
said, he lived in a neighbourhood where every species of dissent prevailed, and they all availed themselves of the Educational Grant, and with very beneficial effects. There was, however, difficulty in obtaining the Grant which ought not to exist; but he was of opinion that the grant upon the whole was of the greatest service to the country. They had heard something of the quality of teachers, and as to Sunday schools, he thought that the teachers were too highly educated for the class of children whom they had to instruct. He thought they would ill discharge their duty to the country by placing any obstacle in the way of the grant being voted.
§ MR. THORNELY
said, it was his intention to vote for the grant, for he thought that with both systems—the Government and the voluntary—education was still much behind what it ought to be. He had been for many years a subscriber to the British and Foreign Schools, which institution, he believed, had done a great deal of good in the country, and also in foreign parts, to which their system of education extended. He had, however, heard with 1420 much regret that doctrinal matters were now taught in those schools, and that there had been a departure from the principle on which they had been founded—that of teaching the Scriptures without note or comment. If such were the case, he hoped that the system would be corrected, and that there would be a return to the original principle.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, he quite agreed with the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) that the Government would do well to see if they could not hold out some inducement to get children to attend the schools. He thought that they could not adopt any compulsory system, but they might introduce a system of inducements. For instance, in all the principal towns there might be examinations, and they might offer, he thought, as prizes some of the minor Government situations; such a practice would give the greatest possible inducement to parents to send their children to school, and it would be much better to give such situations as educational rewards than to give them only to Parliamentary influence.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he wished to ask the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department a question in respect to a Bill that had been brought down from the House of Lords, entitled, the Schools Grant Security for Application Bill, and which had reference to the grant in question. When he objected to it at two o'clock in the morning about a fortnight ago, nobody on the Treasury bench knew anything about it. He might state that the Bill proposed to enact that all schools to which any portion of the grant had been given at any time during the seventeen years of its existence, should be brought under the power of the Home Secretary. There was a school to which he subscribed in his own town, to which about fifteen years ago a grant of 250l. was made, and 1,700l. or 1,800l. more was subscribed in the town. There was no condition of the nature of that to which he would refer when that grant was made. That condition was, that no school, to which any grant, however small, had been made, should be sold, exchanged, or mortgaged, or interfered with as a matter of property in any way, without the consent of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. It might be well to have such a condition as to future grants, but it appeared to him that there could be no doubt of the impropriety of affixing such a condition to former 1421 grants. He wished to know whether the Government intended to proceed with the Bill that night or at any future time.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he had found that the Bill referred to by the hon. Member had been brought into the other House of Parliament by the President of the Council, and the object of it was to relieve trustees of schools from personal obligations, they having given bonds which affected them personally, with a view to secure school sites. When the second reading was moved he should be able to state more about the measure, but if it was thought to be unjust to trustees of schools, the Government had no desire to press it, but many trustees were desirous that it should pass, in order that they might be relieved from all personal liability.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman must be talking about some different Bill, or else the clause was not English. It distinctly stated, if he understood it, that if any person had received a grant, and did not choose to repay it, then the school in respect of which the grant had been obtained, should not be sold or exchanged or mortgaged without the consent of the Home Secretary, and the Secretary of State was to endorse on the deed his permission in such a case.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, the Committee must be aware that it was the duty of the Government to see that the grants should not be extended to the erection of new buildings, which might be sold or mortgaged. Personal bonds had been entered into by the trustees not to sell or mortgage, and they now desired to get rid of their personal liability.
§ MR. APSLEY PELLATT
said, that the Bill to which the hon. Member for Manchester had referred, was, in fact, a portion of that centralisation which was so objectionable in matters of education. He could not avoid complaining of the overriding influence of the Church of England in matters of education. The effect of which was, that the children of Dissenters, who were obliged to attend schools in which the clergy had control, were taught one system of religion at school and another at home. The natural result of such a proceeding was most detrimental to religion generally. The system in Ireland was far better than that advocated by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Pakington). There a day was set apart for the clergy of every denomination to attend 1422 and take their several classes. He wished to ask the Government what they proposed to do with Kneller Hall, which had cost so large a sum, and which it now appeared would shortly become useless.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he could not answer the question at present. Kneller Hall might be applied to several objects, and he was now endeavouring to determine to what purpose it could be devoted with the greatest advantage.
§ MR. HEYWOOD
said, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to a grievance to which the Unitarians were subjected with respect to the British and Foreign Schools. Those schools had received many donations from Unitarians, but those who had the direction of them had gradually introduced nothing but Trinitarian doctrines, to the great annoyance of such Unitarians whose children had attended. A case had been submitted to counsel who advised that such conduct was a breach of trust on the part of the directors. Nothing, however, had been done, and he therefore trusted that the Government would use its influence to put an end to so improper a state of things.
§ MR. CHEETHAM
said, he would suggest the withdrawal of the Amendment. Although a friend to the general principle of voluntary education, still he could not, considering the beneficial results which had followed the labours of the Government in promoting the cause of education, join in a vote which would practically put an end to those labours.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, the observations of the hon. Member for North Lancashire (Mr. Heywood) with respect to the British and Foreign School Society, proved the difficulty of establishing schools in which would be taught only those doctrines which all Christians were supposed to hold in common. He hoped that the right hon. and learned Lord-Advocate would, next Session, cause his Scotch Education Bill to be introduced in the other House.
§ MR. BARNES
said, he would withdraw his Amendment after the opinions which had been expressed upon it by the Committee.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
said, he begged to ask whether the Government intended to support the Bill before the House for maintaining the salaries of schoolmasters in Scotland at their present amount?
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that the Bill in question would come on at a later 1423 hour in the evening, when his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord-Advocate would state the course which the Government intended to pursue.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Vote agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding 215,200l., be granted to Her Majesty, for Public Education in Ireland, under the charge of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, to the 31st day of March, 1856.
§ MR. FRENCH
said, he must complain that the item for building, furnishing, and fitting up new schools in Ireland was only 3,500l., while the corresponding item for England was 70,000l. He also found fault with the setting apart of 5,000l. for farm buildings at Limerick and Belfast as unnecessary on account of the wealth of those cities.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he did not object to the Vote, but thought that it might in some respects be more satisfactorily applied than appeared from the estimates to be proposed. He especially objected to the erection of a conservatory in connection with one of the agricultural schools, the payment of a lecturer on physical science, and to the item of 1,000l. for a slaughter-house, as not coming within the fair scope of education.
§ Mr. WILSON
said, he was quite willing to defend the items referred to by the hon. Member on the ground that they had reference to the means by which so many persons obtained their livelihood; and as regarded the utility of the purposes to which the money was generally applied, Ireland had set an example which might well be followed by England. The farm buildings at Limerick and Belfast were designed for the benefit of the districts.
said he agreed with the hon. Gentleman that the system generally was good, but he could not conceive why 1000l. should be appropriated for a slaughter-house.
§ MR. KENNEDY
said, that while expressing his entire satisfaction at the increase of 30 per cent. in the grant of the current year for England, he must complain that the increase for Ireland amounted to only 10 per cent. The ratio of increase for both countries ought to be more equal. 117,000l. a-year of the Irish Vote was expended in salaries fixed on the paltry scale of from 17l. to 20l. for schoolmasters of the 3rd class, whose standard 1424 of qualifications was remarkably high. The national system had worked very successfully in Ireland, in spite of the opposition it had encountered; but the people would avail themselves of its advantages to a much larger extent if the education given included not merely knowledge of a literary character, but instruction calculated to promote the subsequent advancement in life of the scholars.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, he also must complain of the unsatisfactory position which Ireland occupied in regard to education as compared with other portions of the Empire. It was next to impossible that all parties could agree upon a uniform system of national education; but it was at least earnestly to be hoped that in the course of the next Session of Parliament some general plan would be adopted regulating the mode in which the assistance of the State should be given to all classes of religionists. The principles relating to the subject of education which had been enunciated upon the platform of the British and Foreign School Society by the Duke of Argyll, by the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) and also by the present Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, were alike just, sound and liberal; but why should the Protestants of the sister country alone be denied the benefit of their application? It was the intention of his right hon. Friend the Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole), who had given notice of a Motion, but had been compelled by one of the war debates to withdraw it, to bring before the House early next Session the whole question of education in Ireland, and to have the matter fairly and fully discussed.
§ MR. KIRK
said, that one effect of the establishment of the national system of education in Ireland had been to supersede the old schoolmasters there, who were generally men of some classical and scientific knowledge, and, by substituting in their place the national schools, to lower the character of education throughout the country. He was glad to find, therefore, that an increased grant was proposed, because increased salaries might tempt men of superior qualifications to undertake the duties of national schoolmasters. Something certainly ought to be done to provide a better kind of education for the middle classes; otherwise there would be no feeders for the colleges, and the consequence would be that the whole youth of Ireland world be shut out from the competitive 1425 examinations for appointments in the public service which were to be established. A number of children were taken from the schools to be put to industrial employment, and he thought that such children should not be taken from the school until they acquired a certain amount of education. He did not intend to oppose the Vote.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, no sufficient explanation had been given as to the extent to which it was intended to carry the contemplated model agricultural schools. It was going too far, he thought, to call upon the country to furnish funds to educate men for such positions as land stewards, farm bailiffs, and the like.
§ Mr. CHEETHAM
said, he quite concurred with the noble Lord, and he should therefore move to diminish the Vote by 2,000l.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding 213,200l., be granted to Her Majesty, for Public Education in Ireland, under the charge of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, to the 31st day of March, 1856.
§ SIR JOHN WALSH
said, that the public grant was in itself insufficient for the general education of the people, and any portion of it devoted to a limited object was so much abstracted from the general funds to be applied to elementary education. If, therefore, the hon. Member for South Lancashire pressed his Amendment to a division he should vote for it.
§ MR. WILSON
said, that the real object of such grants as the present was to afford to the lower classes of the community that kind of knowledge which would best fit them for the performance of their duty in the station of life in which they moved. It would be recollected that a noble Lord had on one occasion—he believed at a meeting—made use of a remarkable expression, having observed that the knowledge which the people most required was "the knowledge of common things," and it was that description of knowledge which such grants as the one now under the notice of the Committee were calculated to supply. Land stewards and others to whom it applied were, in fact, only superior labourers, and, being spread through remote districts in Ireland, they would set an example to others which could not fail to be beneficial. The result would probably be that, by introducing a better system of cultivation, they would 1426 eventually raise the value of the land. He was surprised, therefore, to find such an Amendment as the present proposed, for he thought that to strike out those items would be exceedingly injurious, and he should, therefore, be much disappointed at their rejection.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Treasury had quoted the well-known maxim of Lord Ashburton about common things, but he had failed to show what possible connection there was between common things and hothouses. The fact was that the present proposal was an attempt to divert an educational Vote to other purposes. He did not deny that these things were very well in themselves, but could the hon. Gentleman justify upon his own principles of political economy the grant of public money for them? He challenged the hon. Gentleman to adduce a single instance in which a similar Vote had been passed before.
§ MR. CONOLLY
hoped that the appearance of the item of a hothouse in the Vote would not induce the Committee to refuse the people of Ireland the means of obtaining a really valuable education in "common things," the importance of which was now so generally recognised.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, that an application had just been made for an increase of 30 per cent upon the English Vote, and that no objection had been raised by any Irish Member; but now that an additional 10 per cent was asked upon the Irish Vote, and a demand was made for a paltry item of 2,000l., an hon. Gentleman thought it worth his while to oppose it, although it was intended to instruct the people of Ireland in the art of agriculture, of which they were stated to be, in many remote parts, lamentably ignorant.
§ MR. APSLEY PELLATT
said, he thought there was much force in the observations of the hon. Member for Dungarvan, and he consequently should support the Vote. After the large amount granted for English education, he could not refuse to grant an increase of 10 per cent for Ireland, especially for agricultural objects.
§ LORD NAAS
said, he should offer no opposition to the Vote, for he believed that no institution was managed better than the one in question. Still he thought there was danger in the course taken by the promoters of the institution, which he thought should be confined to agricultural purposes—to teaching men to be good 1427 farmers and not gardeners; and he thought it would be more advantageous to increase the Vote, not for the purpose of having a conservatory, but having more pupils in farming.
§ MR. F. SCULLY
said, the institution had conferred great benefit upon the country. Its object was not to send out schoolmasters in farming, but good practical farmers, acquainted with the cultivation of fruits and plants, as well as the rearing of stock. He hoped the Vote would be agreed to, and was sorry that the opposition to it had originated with an Irish Member.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he very much regretted that the subject had been so argued as if a difference was to be made between an English and an Irish question. The Vote must be taken as an exceptional one; but, in reference to the education of the poorer classes, he did not see why a conservatory was brought in. He had heard an hon. Member say that that was desirable in consequence of the potato blight, but he was not aware that the culture of potatoes was carried on in conservatories.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Vote agreed to; as were also the two following Votes.
§ (3.) 605l., Expenses of Commissioners of Education in Ireland.
§ (4.) 79,364l., Science and Art, &c.
§ Notice taken, that Forty Members were not present; House counted; and Forty Members not being present, the House was adjourned at half after Two o'clock.