HC Deb 23 March 1855 vol 137 cc989-1015

said, in moving for leave to bring in a Bill to provide for the Education of the People of Scotland, he would beg to remark in the first place that the Bill was the same in substance as the measure he had had the honour of bringing before the House last year. He did not mean to say that some qualifications had not been introduced in the present Bill, but he should deceive the House if he did not state that the measure was substantially the same as the former one. He did not think, however, it was necessary for him to make any apology for again laying on the table of the House a Bill that had been last year rejected. No doubt that rejection was a matter of considerable disappointment, both to himself and all the lovers of education in Scotland; but the disappointment was qualified by the consideration that, at all events, it had not arisen from any fault or indisposition on the part of the Scotch Members. The proposition for its rejection of the Bill was carried by the votes of English Members, and mainly by the votes of hon. Gentlemen opposite; for the Scotch Members divided in the proportion of thirty-six to fourteen in favour of the Bill. It was made to a great extent a party question, and the ground on which the rejection took place was this, and this alone—that, in proposing a measure for the education of the people of Scotland, they did not continue the exclusive superintendence of the Established Church in Scotland, and the exclusive privilege of members of that denomination to teach in the schools. He now brought forward the measure with the expectation, which was not unreasonable, that on this occasion he might perhaps be more successful. Since the commencement of the Session a Bill for the education of the people of England and Wales had been introduced by a right hon. Baronet on the other side (Sir J. Pakington), for which he was entitled to receive the thanks and gratitude of every philanthropic man in the country, and the right hon. Baronet had made it impossible for any man to stand up and maintain that the education of the people was a thing dangerous to the institutions of the country, and that they could not educate the people safely, except through the intervention of an Established Church. He had read with the greatest admiration and respect the statement of the right hon. Baronet, and he rejoiced to find in it the same earnest conviction which he (the Lord Advocate) felt of the absolute necessity there was for Parliament to address itself to this great work. Last year he had endeavoured to bring the House to the same mind, and he had sought to persuade it that this was no question for sectarian controversy. The right hon. Baronet had taken the same course, and he had powerfully shown the dangers which lay at the very base of society, and which, if left unchecked, might peril its very safety. For Incedimus per ignes Suppositos cineri doloso. They must go down to the very root of the mischief, where the evil commenced, was nurtured, and gathered strength. No mere improvement of existing machinery would suffice. In the Bill which he now sought to bring in, he proposed to do what formed no part of the Bill of the right hon. Baronet. They had lately had a discussion upon the scale on which the ordnance survey of Scotland should be published, and he now proposed that there should be an educational survey. He proposed that inspectors should be appointed, who should survey the whole of Scotland as regarded its educational condition; and that they should report to the House within a limited time upon the whole statistics of the education of the country. The surveyors would be directed to state how many schools were in existence, how many schools were wanting; where they were wanting—what families sent their children to school and what families did not, so that they should have on the table a statement which would enable them, without the slightest difficulty, to put their fingers on the districts where the greatest darkness and ignorance prevailed, and to apply a remedy at once. If that were done at once, and kept up from year to year, would they not make a very great stride in advance? They would thus be able to show the country and Europe to what an extent they were fulfilling the duty incumbent upon them of educating the people, and bringing up the rising generation in the way they ought to be reared. The next provision of the Bill related to the details of the educational system proposed by him to be established. It was necessary for hon. Members to bear in mind that there was a considerable difference between the positions of England and Scotland with regard to education. In England there was no educational system that was compulsory at all; in Scotland they had ever since the Reformation a system of education which was compulsory. The first question they had to deal with was this—would hon. Gentlemen opposite this year, as they did last year, refuse to allow this measure to pass even a second reading, unless on the condition that the superintendence of the Established Church should continue and remain over the parochial schools in Scotland? According to the system proposed by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington), it was not necessary to have the schools under the superintendence of the Established Church. The right hon. Baronet proposed that the school was to be in connection with the denomination that formed the majority in the district; but if that plan were adopted in Scotland, what did they think would be the result. In sixteen counties in Scotland the plan proposed by the right hon. Baronet would place the whole education of those counties in the hands of the Free Church alone, and there were only two counties in which the Established Church was in an absolute majority. In Scotland nine-tenths, or, at all events, seven-eighths of the population were agreed in creed, and he asked the right Gentleman whether, as he had proposed such a scheme for England, it was possible to maintain that with seven-eighths of the people of Scotland agreed in creed, they could put the control of the national schools in the hands of a body that formed so small a proportion of the population? As Scotland was agreed upon this matter, and had voted in the proportion of three to one upon it, and as every borough Member in Scotland had supported it, he asked the House now, in common consistency, if they did not think it desirable in England to give a preponderance to a majority, not to saddle the people of Scotland with the preponderance of a minority. It was altogether absurd to go on arguing this question year after year, while the people were starving for lack of education; and he proposed, therefore, to settle it by doing away with the superintendence of the Established Church, and by giving no sectarian advantage to any class. de conceived, however, that it would be found that the heritors would have a very considerable voice in the matter. Then he came to the ques- tion of religious education, and he need scarcely say that he had never been an advocate for secular education, and the last thing he should wish to propose would be the exclusion of religion from their schools. He knew the people of Scotland to be a religious people, and that the thing they had most deeply at heart was the religious education of their children. He fully agreed in the opinion that secular education was a false theory, and was one that could not be applied to Scotland, though, at the same time, he must say that he should rather have secular education than none at all. But it was needless to talk of that, because Scotland would not have secular education; it would only have education with religious instruction at the same time. He proposed to state in the preamble the attachment of the people of Scotland to the use of the Holy Scriptures in the schools, and then to have a provision that certain hours should be set apart for religious instruction in the schools, and that no one should be bound to attend at those hours against his will. He considered that the clause which was known as the denominational clause, which gave power to the Privy Council to contribute towards the maintenance of schools, was very much misunderstood, but he proposed to introduce a provision, that after a particular day the grants from the Privy Council should be altogether discontinued with regard to schools belonging to the classes that ought to join generally in education. As the Roman Catholic schools and the Episcopalian schools formed but a small proportion, he proposed to leave those schools in their present position. By the Bill the salaries of the existing schools would be raised, and the masters would be much raised in position. There would be a power given to the heritors to throw the school upon the assessment if they chose; and until they did so the management would remain in their hands—in other words, in the hands of the ministers and the heritors, but not in those of the presbytery. All experience had shown that the presbyteries, meeting as they did only once a month, did not form an efficient machinery for the management of schools. He would be guilty of an injustice if he did not say that the schools of the Established Church were in a state of great efficiency. The competition which had occurred during the last fifteen years had created a great deal of energy in that quarter, but that did not convince him that a body of clergy that could only visit the schools at intervals was an efficient body for the superintendence of schools of this description. Then, what were they to do with the towns? It was proposed not to leave it at the option of towns to have schools or not as they thought proper, I but to make it compulsory upon them to have schools where schools were required. And in regard to country districts where parochial schools were inefficient, it was proposed to make an assessment for the purpose of supplying such schools. In the public schools the Government and the assessment would each contribute half. In the others, the heritors would pay 34l., and the Government 66l. It appeared that another Bill had been introduced by an hon. Member, but how would that Bill work? It would certainly extend greatly the parochial schools, but would leave the denominational schools just as they were. It would continue an erroneous denominational system, whereby persons professing substantially the same opinion, brought up their children with the belief that those who went to school at one side of the street differed entirely from those who went to school at the other side of it. He wanted to put that down. He wanted to put down sectarianism. Men agreeing substantially in the same doctrines had by unfortunate events been separated, and it was desirable that the next generation should be taught to abate the animosities that prevailed. It was by no means essential, he thought, to keep up these tests in the towns, and as long as they required to have tests which would prevent any persons but members of the Established Church from being masters in the schools, it was utterly vain to pass a measure. They might, perhaps, set an example, showing that, notwithstanding religious differences might arise, still a system of education might be established which should restore Scotland to her good name, and perhaps be an advantage to the sister kingdom.


seconded the Motion.


said, he should, in the first instance, wish to comment upon the concluding observations of his right hon. and learned Friend. The right hon. and learned Lord said that in dealing with this question he had not been influenced by any peculiar leaning towards the Church to which he belonged. Now, he (Mr. Stirling) desired to enter upon the new struggle which he saw impending in reference to education in Scotland by frankly acknowledging that the conduct of the right hon. and learned Lord had fully borne out his professions. He knew the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had been accused of leaning too much towards the Church to which he belonged, but he must say he did not think that was the case. He believed his right hon. and learned Friend, who belonged to the Free Church, desired to legislate for Presbyterian Scotland generally; and that the subject had been treated by him fairly and equitably. His right hon. and learned Friend had alluded to the large number of Scotch Members who last Session supported the Government Bill, and to the small number of Scotch Members who would support the Bill which he (Mr. Stirling) had introduced. He could not deny that such was the case; but he might, perhaps, be permitted to give a short explanation to them how that circumstance arose. He was sorry to say that it was the habit of a large majority of the Members for Scotland to sit on the other (the Ministerial) side of the House. Nobody regretted that more than he did, and he deplored that natural bent which induced Scotch Members to do so. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not mention the fact that there were some Scotch Members who abstained from giving a party vote. Besides this, there was another reason. The House could not be too soon informed of the fact that in Scotland there was a parochial system, which he, for one, would always defend, and that parochial system did not extend to the towns. It was very natural, therefore, that those hon. Gentlemen who represented Scotch burghs should be anxious to give their support to any system of education which would supply the want which they alleged existed. All the Scotch burgh Members voted therefore for the Lord Advocate's Bill, and also the Liberal portion of the Scotch county Members. He, and those who took the same view as he did, were consequently obliged last year to appeal to their English friends, in order to get rid of a Bill which they conscientiously believed would be injurious to Scotland. The right hon. and learned Gentleman next alluded to the Bill of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), who had introduced an educational measure for England. He (Mr. Stirling) concurred with the right hon. and learned Lord Ad- vocate in admiring the speech of the right hon. Baronet, but he must be pardoned for entirely dissenting from the inference which his right hon. and learned Friend drew from that speech. The right hon. and learned Lord had asked them how they, approving of the views put forward by the right hon. Gentleman, and of the principle of the measure which he had propounded, now opposed a Bill which went to deal in a similar manner with Scotland. Now, his reply to that taunt was to be found in the difference existing between the educational position of Scotland and the educational position of England; but still more in the different ground taken up by the Church in Scotland and the Church in England. As a member of the Church of England, it might, perhaps, be admitted that he spoke with no undue bias against her; but he would yet assert that the position in which the Church of England stood as regarded the question of education was greatly inferior to that enjoyed by the Church of Scotland. As a state institution he did not believe that the Church of England possessed any educational establishment or apparatus whatever. There was no parochial educational system; but in Scotland the Church, from the very beginning of her history, took a lively interest in the education of the people. Indeed, long before the Church of Scotland was settled, it began to inquire into the education of the people, and did all that in it lay to promote that education. For more than two centuries and a half had the Church of Scotland struggled in the cause of education, and she no more considered a parish furnished or complete without a school, than without a church. Therefore, he repeated, when the two Churches presented in their history so marked a contrast, it might be reasonably inferred that that which was fit and proper for one country was not fit and proper for the other. Upon this ground the Church of Scotland deserved much more consideration at the hands of the House of Commons than the Church of England. Those parochial schools had been under the authority of the Church since their establishment, and the right hon. and learned Lord omitted to state, though he did not attempt to controvert the fact, that those schools were in a most flourishing condition. His right hon. and learned Friend had attributed the excellent state of the parochial schools to the competition which had arisen during the last fifteen years, and five mi- nutes after the right hon. and learned Lord said the object of the Bill was to put down that very competition. The right hon. and learned Lord said we do not want to go on disputing on doctrines, but we want something to do the work of education well. But he (Mr. Stirling) must reply that Scotland had that already which did the work admirably. Make that better, if possible, but do not rashly meddle with it in the manner proposed by this Bill. With respect to what his right hon. and learned Friend had said about sectarian differences, everybody who knew anything about the parochial schools in Scotland knew they were not sectarian. The children of all sects, Roman Catholics and others, went to those schools, and no instance had been brought under the notice of that House of any hardship or injustice arising under the parochial system. But, said the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, the measure which he (Mr. Stirling) proposed might improve education in the country, but it would not affect education in the towns. Well, but the answer to that was, that the measure did not propose to deal with the towns, and it would be quite as reasonable to find fault with this measure because it would not improve the state of the army before Sebastopol. He did not attempt to grapple with the question of education in the towns, because he considered that, under existing circumstances, the subject could only adequately be handled by the Government, and it would therefore be presumptuous on his part to attempt it. He would now say no more on his own Bill than this, that its object was to amend those defects in the existing parochial system which, in the last debate on Scotch education, had been so unanimously admitted and deplored, and to avoid all disputed points. His measure had, upon the whole, received that amount of approval which had induced him to hope for its ultimate success. The right bon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) said, why not give up sectarian differences, and let them meet on some common ground. He quite approved of that sentiment. There was a common ground, and that was, the education of the Scotch towns. They, on that side of the House, would be happy to go hand in hand with his right hon. and learned Friend in any scheme which he might propose for the better education of the towns. He would like to mention the negotiations which took place between Scotch Members and the Government last year. What was the first thing done by the Scotch Members who sat on that side of the House, and who were opposed to the Government Bill? They held a meeting, and after much anxious deliberation, they waited on the noble Lord then at the head of the Government (the Earl of Aberdeen), and also on the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, now our Envoy at Vienna, and both noble Lords were assured by those Scotch Members that the Government would have their support if they confined the measure to the towns, and they declared that they did not expect the supervision exercised by clergymen over the parochial schools to be extended to the new schools to be erected in the towns. Such had been the language held on both these occasions. As regarded the towns, although there might be a want of education to a considerable extent, he believed that want was grossly exaggerated. Nor did he believe that, in most cases, this arose from the want of schools so much as from the indisposition of parents to avail themselves of them. In Edinburgh there was Heriot's Hospital—a great educational establishment, with a vast revenue, that was every year increasing, and which was under the wise superintendence of the town council of Edinburgh. Those revenues were devoted to educational purposes, without any reference to sect. Now, that was an advantage which, he believed, was possessed by very few of the towns of England. In Glasgow, too, there were abundance of schools, and eminent clergymen of that city declared the great difficulty in the way of education there was, not the want of schools so much as the inability to procure the attendance of the children. Dundee was in the same position. Was there not, he asked—must there not be something to be got at which could not be reached by an Act of Parliament? There had been very great exaggerations in the statements made on this subject. He did not say there did not exist a great necessity fur something to be done, but that that something was something other than the measure now proposed. He would, in concluding these remarks, venture to appeal to his right hon. and learned Friend to meet them on more common ground, which he seemed so much to desiderate. He entreated him to be guided by the opinion expressed by a noble Lord in another place last year—a veteran in the cause of education, and who was its advocate before his right hon. and learned Friend had yet penetrated the mysteries of the alphabet, Lord Brougham last year said, that the question of Scotch education naturally divided itself into two heads—town and country—and that it ought to be treated in two Bills, and not in one. Let the Government meet them on the point on which there was general agreement—let them deal with the question where there would be no chance of defeat; but if they declined so fair an offer, let them not throw on the Scotch Members, who were willing, up to a certain point, to give the Government their conscientious support the blame of failure, or of creating those dissensions with which the discussion of this question had been embittered. The Scotch Members who agreed with him had advanced two-thirds of the way to meet the proposal of the Government, whilst the right him. and learned Lord Advocate had not advanced one inch. The liberality of the right hon. and learned Lord reminded him of the Welsh juryman, who having alone stood out against the verdict which the remainder were willing to pronounce, declared he had never been in all his life shut up with eleven more obstinate Men. If his right hon. and learned Friend persevered in his measure, in its present shape, he (Mr. Stirling) trusted that the verdict of the House might be given, this year as it was last, against him.


said, as the most recently elected Scotch Member, he must beg to claim the indulgence usually extended by the House to new Members. He would shortly state the reason why he troubled the House on the present occasion, which was, that he had always taken a very deep interest in the question now under consideration. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate needed not to make any apology for calling attention to this subject, for if there was one question more than another—apart from the war—in which the people of Scotland took an interest, which almost engrossed their attention, it was this most important one of education for the people. They looked upon it as of the greatest and most vital importance. He believed that throughout Scotland there was an universal wish to have it settled, and he should be greatly disappointed if the proposal which had just been submitted for their consideration would not be hailed with the greatest satisfaction there—a proposal which, notwithstanding what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, he (Mr. Baxter) would characterise as being framed in an enlightened and liberal spirit, and, he would add also, drawn up by no unskilful hand. He did not wish to say a single word disparaging to the present parochial schools, which did so much to promote the greatness and the glory of his native land. But the House must remember that, since those parochial schools were established, the circumstances of Scotland had undergone a mighty change. The majority, the decided majority, of the people of that country no longer attended the Established Church, and it could not, therefore, be reasonably expected that they would give their sympathy and support to such a measure as that introduced by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling), which was a mere extension and perpetuation of the existing system. That hon. Gentleman had stated that those schools were not of a sectarian character. It was certainly true that the teaching might not be sectarian; but as those schools were under the surveillance of the presbytery, was it not reasonable to expect they would be looked upon as sectarian in a country where the odium theologicum prevailed to such an extent as in Scotland? The points of difference between the principal religious denominations in Scotland were comparatively of slight importance; but there was a strong conviction in his mind that if they were to devise a more popular plan they must get rid of sectarian tests and exclusive control. He was not a member of the Free Church, but as a Dissenter he strongly deprecated the course taken by hon. Gentlemen of the same polemics as himself, who united with gentlemen opposite holding opinions diametrically opposed to their own, and, by their opposition to the former Bill of the Government, disappointed the strongest hopes of those who understood the feelings and the wants of Scotland. He earnestly and firmly hoped that hon. Gentlemen opposite would receive this measure in the same liberal and candid spirit which gentlemen sitting at his side of the House had received the proposition of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), and that they would allow this just and necessary measure to pass into law.


said, that as a Scotch Member, he could not help expressing his feelings of gratification at being associated in the representation of Scotland with a gentleman who had evinced so much capacity for usefully attending to the business of their country as the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. However, he was compelled to differ from the views of the hon. Member with regard to the merits of the measure now for the second time introduced by his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate. He could not but deeply regret that the right hon. and learned Lord had re-introduced the very same Bill as that which had last year given rise to so much difference of opinion, thereby creating an antagonism where no antagonism need exist. With respect to its effect upon the towns, hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House did not pretend to offer any opinion adverse to the proposition of the Government. But they maintained that in Scotland they were possessed of a parochial system established for nearly 200 years, which had worked most beneficial effects for the country; and he would therefore say, before you risk the destruction of that system, give them one which would prove a better. Let them introduce their new system in the towns, and if it proved a more efficient means of extending the blessings of education, then by all means let them adopt it for the whole of Scotland. He entirely repudiated the notion that their opposition of last year was grounded upon party or factious considerations. That opposition proceeded upon the principle that the measure of the Government went to separate religious from secular education. His right hon. and learned Friend had admitted that the present schools were justly undeserving of the opprobrious epithet of sectarian schools; on the contrary, they were open to the whole country, and the children of all denominations willingly attended and received instruction at those schools, and he had never heard of a complaint emanating from a single parent. If they thought it their duty as statesmen to maintain an Established Church as an institution of the country, upon what principle could they deal so heavy a blow against the Church of Scotland as to remove from under its control the schools which formed so essential an element of that institution? With regard to the statistical map to which his right hon. and learned Friend had referred, he gave that proposal his most cordial approval, while he believed that the counties with which he was connected would not come out of the suggested inquiry with discredit. It had been reported that in the three northern counties of Scotland the blessings of education had been extended to more than one-sixth of the population; and it had been proved in the same Report that the number of scholars attending them had gone on rapidly increasing, while the improvement in the system of education was still more remarkable. It had been alleged that the salaries of the schoolmasters were inadequate. Now that remark could scarcely have been applied to the northern counties. He could take upon himself to state that in the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray the salaries of some schoolmasters ranged to 100l. a year, while others reached 120l. At the same time, he was by no means disposed to maintain that these salaries might not be reasonably augmented. Unless a measure could be introduced that would give greater satisfaction than the present, do not attempt to deprive the people of Scotland of that admirable system of education which had conferred such great and unquestionable advantages upon the people of Scotland.


said, he had not anticipated that the introduction of this Bill by his right hon. and learned Friend would have led to any discussion. He did not rise for the purpose of prolonging the debate by entering at all into the merits of the Bill or of the question of education in general, but, as his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. C. Bruce) had expressed regret that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should have brought in a Bill similar to that which was introduced last year, he (Lord Elcho), as the representative of a Scotch county which was supposed to feel an interest in the question, felt called upon to express the satisfaction he felt that the Lord Advocate had brought in a Bill which, though it might differ in detail from that introduced last year, was in principle the same. He apprehended that the principle of the Bill was this—that it endeavoured to establish, as far as possible, in Scotland a system of universal education. In saying this he did not wish to be misunderstood. He was not at all prepared to deny the great benefits which Scotland had derived from the established schools of that country. His hon. Friend the Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling) told them that the difference between the Established Church in England and Scotland was this—that, whereas in Scotland there had been a system of schools under the establishment, in England there had been none.

He was not prepared to deny that the Presbyterian body, established upon the ruins of the Roman Catholic Church in that country, had founded schools, but, unfortunately, owing to the odium theologicum which had been alluded to by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baxter) who had spoken with so much ability, Scotland became split up into sects and fragments of sects, and that which was at the time of the establishment of these schools the Church of the whole Presbyterian people of Scotland could not at present, he was afraid, claim the support of more than one-third of the people of Scotland, and the consequence was that the keenest sectarian feeling existed. He felt himself called upon to support the Bill of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate in preference to that of the hon. Member for Perthshire, because the latter would in his opinion have a tendency to perpetuate sectarian differences, which it was most desirable to set at rest. The present measure would establish united education on the ancient Presbyterian basis of the parish schools. It was incorrect to say that the Bill of last year obtained the support only of the representatives of the large towns of Scotland. The fact was, that two-thirds of the Scottish Members voted for the measure proposed by the Lord Advocate, and one-third only for that of his hon. Friend opposite, and that amongst the county Members the latter had but a majority of one in its favour. So that but for the absence of the late lamented Member for Forfarshire (Colonel Mettle), who was detained by his duties in a distant region, the number of county Members on both sides would have been equal. Last year, the Bill of the right hon. and learned Gentleman was unfortunately defeated, owing to a large number of English Members having come down to vote rather than to hear any discussion upon it. He trusted, however, that upon this occasion hon. Gentlemen opposite would follow the liberal example which had been set them by hon. Gentlemen upon that side of the House in regard to the Bill recently laid upon the table by his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington), and that they would not come down to the House prepared to vote upon the measure until they had heard all the arguments which could be brought to bear upon the subject. Last year almost two-thirds of the Scotch Members voted in favour of the Bill of the Lord Advocate, and that proved that the people of Scotland, unless representative government was a farce, were in favour of the Bill of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. When the question came to be discussed and a division taken upon it, he hoped the English Members would bear this fact in mind, and endeavour to pay some respect to the wishes and feelings of the people of Scotland. He wished to guard himself against the supposition that he was in any way hostile to the Established Church in Scotland, but he believed that, by supporting the Bill of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (the Lord Advocate), he would be promoting the welfare of the country at large.


said, he had no hesitation in saying he believed that the great majority of the people of Scotland deplored the loss of the Bill of last Session. He had great confidence in that love of justice which characterised Englishmen, and he was confident that, if they would only attend to the arguments that would be used in reference to the present measure, they would vote in favour of it. The existing system of parochial education was utterly inadequate to the wants of the people of Scotland, and he hoped that the English Members would not again be found to vote against an improved measure of education.


said, he laboured under the disadvantage of not having been a Member of the House when the measure of last year was discussed. If he had been he certainly would have given his cordial support to it. He stood there now in the position of a Member of the Government connected with Scotland, and he knew that every word he said would have its weight with the people of Scotland. He had heard nothing during the discussion to show that an educational measure was not wanted for Scotland; on the contrary, everything combined to point out that such a measure was absolutely required and would confer the most material benefits. He found, according to a carefully-prepared Report of the statistics of crime in Scotland, that in the year 1854, of the prisoners committed there were 9,259 who could not write their names, and 4,474 who could not read. When the hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling) drew a contrast between the Established Church in Scotland and the Established Church in England, he seemed to forget that the Established Church in England was the Church of the majority, whereas the Established Church in Scotland was not the Church of the majority.

As a member of the Episcopal Church, and strongly attached to his religion, he was always willing to give credit to others for that sincerity of belief which he claimed for himself. The Church of Scotland now no longer represented the feelings of the people, as it did when those parochial schools were established. The measure under consideration proposed a comprehensive and truly national system of education which extended its advantages to the rural districts. The Bill proposed by the hon. Member for Perthshire did not extend to the large towns, because the hon. Gentleman was fully aware of the difficulty of doing so, and he shrank from it. The hon. Member knew that if he extended the operation of his measure to large towns he would have been shipwrecked upon the subject of the test. If they were to have any system of education it ought to be uniform. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate being anxious, as far as possible, to meet the objections of hon. Members opposite, had endeavoured to alter and amend some of the details of the Bill of last Session, in order to conciliate support. It was impossible that the right hon. and learned Gentleman could desert the principles upon which the Bill was founded, because he knew that they were popular in Scotland. The hon. Member for Perthshire had asked the reason why so many Scotch Members eternally sat upon the ministerial side of the House. He (Lord Duncan) would tell him the reason. They sat there because they represented the opinions of the people of Scotland, which were in opposition to those entertained by the hon. Member opposite. He must confess that he admired the principles which animated the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) and the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley), when they so ably addressed the House the other night on the subject of English education. They very properly urged the importance of extending the blessings of education amongst all classes in the country, and argued that in proportion as they were advanced, in the same proportion would crime be diminished. Scotland had taken the lead upon this subject of education, and her example was followed by many other countries—Germany and France had imitated them; and tile great continent of America had not only imitated them, but had outstripped them in their course. For about 150 years Parliament had almost slumbered upon the subject. It gave him great satisfaction to add his humble voice in support of the Bill, and he congratulated his right hon. and learned Friend upon the success of his efforts upon the subject.


said, he objected to the measure, because it was one which proposed to establish a system of education in Scotland the very opposite to that which had prevailed up to the present time—namely, a system without any guarantee for religious instruction. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, in his eloquent speech, seemed to convey a belief that the party with whom he (Mr. Scott) had the honour of acting were adverse to the wider extension of education, but this imputation he utterly repudiated. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded to the measure of the hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling) as one that was not calculated to do service in the cause of education; and, like a skilful debater, attempted to show that those on the opposite side of the House were the assailants, and that he was the defendant. But the very opposite was the fact; for the right hon. and learned Gentleman was the assailant in endeavouring to upset that good system of education which at present existed in Scotland, instead of trying to perpetuate and improve it. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate said he deprecated all things partaking of a sectarian spirit, and asked them to take common ground. But why did he not take common ground? Those Members on the opposite side of the House were willing to go into a common field with him. Having disclaimed opposition in an apparent spirit of fairness, the right hon. and learned Gentleman was, however, indisposed to go one inch towards meeting them upon common ground, when they were willing to go hand in hand with him. Why, he asked, needlessly abolish the guarantee for the orthodoxy of religious opinions? When the noble Lord (Viscount Duncan) speaks of the amount of crime which existed, they granted it; but he would ask the noble Lord whether he really meant to say that it was in the agricultural districts that the crime was so excessive? He would venture to say that the noble Lord would not assert anything of the kind. What the noble Lord meant, no doubt, to say was, that in those parts where the Bill did not apply there was a large amount of ignorance and crime; and into those parts they were all willing to enter, with the view of doing all that was possible towards the diminution of such crime. They were willing to carry on a system of education at their own expense; but the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate was desirous, by his measure, of casting a considerable expense upon the Consolidated Fund. Why did the right hon. and learned Gentleman go to that, fund, in order to relieve the heritors of the burden which they were at all times willing to take upon their own shoulders? The heritors were willing to support the parochial schools, a system that would be adverse to none, and beneficial to all. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman was willing to do away with that animosity which they all regretted, why did he not come forward and propose some test as a guarantee of the religious doctrines and opinions of the schoolmasters, which would be acceptable to all? Instead of doing so, the right hon. and learned Gentleman accused those who opposed him of being actuated with a feeling in favour of the domination of the Established Church in Scotland, and, with singular inconsistency, said that there was no diversity of creed amongst the great mass of the people of Scotland. If, then, 95 per cent of the people entertained the same belief, and were attached to their religious opinions, in the name of all that was sacred why did not the right hon. and learned Gentleman require from the instructors those guarantees that they entertained the same pure belief as that which had been entertained by their forefathers? There was no nation in the world that had borne so high a character for religious feelings and moral conduct, in the different services of the country, as Scotland had done. Let them take for example the gardeners throughout England, who were raised from the labouring classes. Why, he asked, was it that the gardeners were chiefly selected from Scotland? Simply because they were blessed with a better education. That fact alone was sufficient to show that in the rural districts of Scotland there was an efficient system of education. If the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate were really anxious that the Presbyterians in Scotland should be well instructed in religious doctrine, let him not propose that religious instruction should be optional, and that no guarantee for the Christian creed should be required in the instructors of youth. He regretted that the measure contained nothing relating to reformatory schools and he consequently feared that it would not be acceptable in its present shape to the people of Scotland. He hoped that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would so modify his measure as to make it acceptable to both sides of the House.


said, that there existed in Edinburgh schools which had been established by funds taken some ten or twelve years ago from Heriot's and other hospitals, in which a most excellent education was given, which he was most anxious to see extended through the length and breadth of Scotland. There no test was required, and the schoolmaster was selected not only for the information he possessed, but for his capacity to impart it. He heard with great pleasure that it was intended to raise the salary of the teachers, because it was, in his opinion, a disgrace to a nation that its instructors should receive barely the remuneration which its common labourers received. Even the rooms of their dwelling-houses had been restricted to two, whilst the maximum salary of the shoolmaster was fixed at 34l. His right hon. and learned Friend's Bill proposed to replace this state of things by a thoroughly equipped and efficient system holding out premiums to individuals to devote themselves to the acquisition of knowledge, and the best methods of communicating it. It was deplorable to see different sects contending for the education of the young in a sectarian spirit. He trusted the Bill would be received with the favour which its great importance in regard to the most vital interests of the country demanded. His right hon. and learned Friend had stated that he was a member of the Free Church, and so was he (Mr. Cowan), and having heard it stated that this Bill was brought in to advocate the educational system of the Free Church, he would state that he firmly believed that in a pecuniary point of view it would have the contrary effect. The Free Church had done a vast deal for education, having built 500 or 600 schools, but if this Bill became law a vast number of those school-houses would become of no use, for they had in many cases been built from the opposition of proprietors in remote districts, and would not be available under the new system. He believed on the whole that the Bill would promote greatly the national good, and he begged to express his most cordial thanks to the right hon. and learned Member for what he had done.


said, he cordially congratulated his right hon. and learned Friend, the Lord Advocate, on having had the courage to grapple with this important and difficult subject, and he entertained a confident hope that the Bill now brought forward by the right hon. and learned Lord would meet with a more favourable reception than the measure he had introduced on the same subject last year. There was a clause in the Bill of last year which provided for the arbitrary dismissal of schoolmasters by the Education Board, and as that provision was considered very objectionable he hoped it had been modified in the present measure. There was no doubt the system of education which had hitherto existed in Scotland could not be extended, and it was therefore desirable to establish a plan upon a new basis, instead of endeavouring to force upon the people a system to which they entertained the strongest objection.


said, that the clause to which the hon. Gentleman had referred had been considerably modified.


said, he did not rise for the purpose of saying anything against the introduction of the Bill, but merely to suggest whether, with the view of avoiding those hostile collisions, especially with regard to religious questions, which had been referred to by Scotch Members, it would not be worth while to draw a distinction that had been recommended by a noble Lord in "another place," who was perfectly well acquainted with the state of Scotland, and was one of the greatest advocates of popular education in either House of Parliament—a distinction between the education required for the more rural parts of Scotland, and the education required for the large towns of that country. Had such a distinction been drawn, instead of meeting with any opposition on the part of his (Mr. Walpole's) Scotch friends, the right hon. and learned Gentleman would have received their cordial support. But if by bringing in this Bill they introduced the discussion of those very religious differences which they desired to see abolished, surely the blame must rest rather with those who caused the discussion upon such religious differences than with hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House, who were as anxious as hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial benches to reconcile those differences as far as they possibly could, and still carry into effect the general object of extending education wherever education was required. He entirely agreed with the observation of the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Cowan), that the salaries to Scotch schoolmasters were miserable pittances; and the Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling) provided for the increase of those salaries, to from 50l. to 60l., with the concurrence of those heritors of Scotland who were to be charged with that increase, in all cases where the stipend was less than 35l. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) had described the principle of the Bill now proposed as establishing a united system of education and doing away with sectarianism. But he (Mr. Walpole) understood that united education went on at this moment in the parochial schools, and he was utterly at a loss to know why it should not continue to go on when they had improved it. Looking, therefore, at the points of difference between the two sides of the House, he thought they might almost all of them be got over by making a distinction between the education to be provided in the rural districts, and that to be provided in the populous towns. Considering that the existing system had prevailed in Scotland for nearly two centuries—that that system had sent into the world many of the best educated men, and men who had risen to the highest station in consequence of that education, and that that education was probably better than any system that had hitherto been established elsewhere—considering these things, was it wise—he asked, to offend a large portion of the people of Scotland upon one point respecting which they were not agreed, and would it not be more advantageous to say,—"Instead of superseding, we will extend the system, where it is deficient we will supply the deficiency, but we will not outrage the feelings of a large portion of the inhabitants of Scotland. We still think there ought to be a religious test applied, that their parochial schools ought to be preserved, and that the control of the presbytery ought to be still maintained in those schools?" Before concluding, he could not help making one or two other remarks with regard to what the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had urged for the foundation of this Bill—namely, the introduction of another Education Bill by his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington), which was to apply to England. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate thought that the principle of that Bill would entirely justify him in pressing upon the House the measure he proposed that evening. But the distinction between the two was plain and obvious. For whilst in Scotland they had this system of education, which had prevailed for so long a period as he had named—a system which had succeeded admirably throughout that country, and which only required extension and improvement—in England they had no such system at all. There, then, was ground for drawing a plain and broad distinction between the measures which should be introduced for the two countries. Further, the discussions which were likely to take place both upon the measure of his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) and that of the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord John Russell) would naturally lead to a full consideration of all the principles which ought hereafter to be adopted upon the great question of education. One point upon which there would be a very general, if not unanimous concurrence in that House was, the wish to diffuse education to the fullest possible extent for the benefit of the people, alike of England and Scotland. But there were other points than that to be considered with reference to those Bills. The question which might be asked, whether these measures would not lead to greater evils than those they were designed to remedy; whether they would not increase the evils of our church-rate system by imposing a rate for educational purposes; and whether, if collision now took place in consequence of the levy of compulsory rates for the repairs of the church, they would not have to resort to the only other alternative before them, that of adopting a purely secular system of education. These matters must be discussed before they could say that the principle of his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington's) Bill, or of that of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), might be taken as a settled point upon which they could build a system of education for the people of Scotland, and he thought that the arguments of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would hardly justify him in using the principle supposed to be contained in those Bills as applicable to the Bill now introduced for Scotland, particularly when the differences between the two countries were so great as they were known to be.


I must congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate and the House, on the tone and temper which has pervaded the discussion that has ensued upon the Motion he has made. I think there ap- pears to be a unanimous agreement upon some particular points of this question, and I trust, when the Bill is laid upon the table, and its details are brought under examination, that there may be a nearer approximation of opinion on this subject than, on the first statement of the objects of the measure, the House might have been disposed to anticipate. Indeed, on some general principles there already seems to be a ready acquiescence. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last has very candidly admitted—what I am sure he would be the last person to deny—the great importance of extending to the whole of Scotland an effective system of education. Scotland has long taken the lead in this movement. She stood pre-eminent ages ago for her excellent general system of national education, adapted as it was to the circumstances in which it originated. Those circumstances have, however, changed—events have occurred which were not anticipated by the founders of the system, and which have so completely altered the condition of things, that what at the outset admirably met the requirements of the nation was now by common consent admitted to be very inadequate to the present exigency. All parties concurred in thinking that some modification, some improvement must be made. The hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling), who has introduced the rival Bill, proceeded on that assumption. When we are told what is the niggardly and scanty salary given to those men to whom you intrust the education of the people, when we hear that schoolmasters—men possessed of certain intellectual attainments, natural capacity, and acquired knowledge—are receiving such paltry pittances as those now given to them, and of which, when last year the matter was brought officially before me, I felt quite ashamed of taking cognisance, it is perfectly clear that an addition ought to be made to their present remuneration. In looking at the present state of Scotland, we cannot help observing the manner in which the people are split up into different religious sects. I respect highly that deep sense of religious obligation which has led to this severance of the religious community; but it is surely very desirable that those differences which divide the people into so many sects should not be studiously inculcated into the minds of children in public schools—that they should not be brought up in religious antagonism to each other. If in after life they should be led by individual conviction, or by deference to the opinions of their parents, to adopt the principles now instilled into them, let them by all means take their places among the different religious denominations of their country; but, at all events, their convictions should result from reflection, thought, and persuasion, and should not be prejudices implanted in their minds at a period of youth when they are incapable of comprehending the grounds of conflicting theological opinions. Well, then, I do say it is important to abolish the sectarian character of the existing schools. These, then, are the points in which my right hon. and learned Friend's plan has the superiority over that proposed on the other side of the House. It is very easy to say that you may extend the present system, and thereby meet the wants of the great towns; but if anybody looks at the manner in which these Scotch schools are distributed, he will see that, in consequence of the religious distinctions among the people, schools are not wanted in some parts of the country, and that, on the other hand, where they are really needed, none exist. My right hon. and learned Friend's plan further proposes to lay the foundation for a better distribution of the schools. It not only seeks to improve the character and constitution of the schools, but to efface those religious divisions which the existing system is calculated to perpetuate, while it will also supply the country more equally and in better proportion with the means of instruction than is the case at present. Therefore, from what has passed to-night, whatever differences may still exist as to the details of my right hon. Friend's measure, I hope that when the second reading is proposed the House will approach the discussion in the same tone and temper which has marked the proceedings on this stage; that both Englishmen and Scotch-men will feel that this is really a subject of great national importance; that we shall lay aside any prejudices that may not be founded upon essential differences and distinctions; and that this House will give to the Bill of my right hon. and learned Friend the best possible consideration, and be disposed to reconcile it, if possible, with their opinions, to support it, and to pass it into law.


said, it had been proposed by the right hen. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Walpole) that the Bill of the Lord Advocate should apply to towns and to thickly populated parts of the country only; but while the religious sects extended all over Scotland, in the highlands the Free Church was predominant. In the whole of the south of Scotland the Free Church and the Dissenters were in a majority over the Established Church, and if they admitted the principle that in the towns the system of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate could be properly applied, the same reasons would lead to the application of it in the country. The parishes were in precisely the same situation as the towns, for there were parochial schools, to which only one-third of the people would go. [Mr. WALPOLE dissented.] His right hon. Friend opposite shook his head, and seemed to say that anybody might go there; but then they would not go there; the members of the Free Church would not, as a general rule, send their children to the parochial schools, and there was scarcely a parochial school which had not got a Free Church school close by it.


said, he understood the present Bill was substantially the same as that which the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had brought in last year. If so, there were two omissions from that Bill to which he desired the right hon. and learned Gentleman's attention. In the first place, whilst it made efficient provision for the education of boys, it seemed to leave out of account altogether the girls, for whose education, however, it was surely important that some special provision should be made; and in the next place, it made no provision for the education of the masters. Now, there could be no doubt that a normal school for the education and training of masters was a most essential thing; and he trusted the right hon. and learned Gentleman would take into consideration this as well as the other point to which he had directed his attention.


said, he hoped that the Bill would be treated with the consideration befitting its importance, and that a more convenient time would be fixed for its discussion than had been the case with regard to the Bill of last year.


said, he was cordially in favour of the Bill, but would suggest that Members opposite might give up the point respecting the power of the presbytery in the management of the schools, and unite with him (Mr. Kinnaird) and his Friends in getting some security for religious teaching in the schools. The Bill might then, he thought, pass harmoniously through the House.


said, he thought that there could be little difficulty in framing a general measure of education for a country in which 95 per cent of the whole population were of one religion. He trusted, however, that the right hon. and learned Lord would so shape his Bill as to secure the support of the remainder—the Roman Catholics, who in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Banffshire, Aberdeenshire, and part of Morayshire, formed a numerous and important minority. The right hon. and learned Lord lost his Bill last year by nine votes, and it would be his own fault if he lost it this year, for he had only, in framing its provisions, to have regard for the 5 per cent, as well as the 95 per cent of the population of Scotland, and the measure would be perfectly safe.


said, besides the Established Church and Free Church there was another important body in Scotland, called the United Presbyterians. They were generally disposed to support the Bill of the right hon. and learned Lord last year, but there were one or two points on which they felt some objection. One was, the constitution of the Educational Board, which they considered to be too largely nominated by the Government, and he trusted the same error would not be imported into the present Bill. He was glad to learn that the denominational plan, which was likewise very much objected to by many religious persons, was not to be introduced into the Bill now proposed. He believed that the Bill would be received with favour by a large body in Scotland.


in reply, said, be thanked the House for their candid and temperate reception of his measure, and he was certain that nothing would give him greater pleasure than to adapt it, so as to obtain the support of the hon. Gentlemen who had spoken, so far as he consistently could. When the Bill was printed it would be seen in what way he proposed to deal with the difficulties which had been suggested, and he should be glad to receive any suggestions or communications on the matter. With regard to normal schools, his notion of the perfection of an educational measure was that it should include some provision for them; but upon consideration of the whole subject, the Government had thought it better to start this educational system by itself, and afterwards to engraft upon it a provision for normal schools. He was sorry the right hon. Member for Midhurst (Mr. Walpole) did not yet see his way to supporting the Bill. With regard to a suggestion made by that right hon. Gentleman, if he (the Lord Advocate) could have seen that there was less difficulty in the proposing a separate measure for the towns than one for the whole country, he might have taken that course.

Leave given; Bill ordered to be brought in by the LORD ADVOCATE, Viscount PALMERSTON, and Sir GEORGE GREY.