HC Deb 29 March 1855 vol 137 cc1370-2

said, that having been Chairman of a Committee of inquiry into the subject of education, which sat the whole of one Session and part of another, he thought it his duty to submit a plan to the House such as, in his view, appeared consistent with the evidence taken before that Committee. If the Committee had reported in favour of any particular scheme he would not have presumed to do so; but, as they made no Report, he thought it right to ask the House to see a plan which was based upon the information there obtained. He did not propose to introduce the measure in any antagonistic spirit to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington.) He felt that their objects were at least the same. He believed that in material points, perhaps the most material, they were agreed. They were agreed that schools should be free and supported by local rates; hut he thought the Bill he now asked leave to introduce would accomplish what the right hon. Baronet professed a wish to accomplish, but failed to effect, by his measure—namely, the establishing of entire local management and control in reference to the rates, and securing liberty of conscience. He was sure it would be to the advantage of the right hon. Gentleman that he should know in what those who promoted the secular scheme differed from those who promoted the plan which he had undertaken to carry through Parliament, and that it would be more convenient to see those differences in the form of a Bill than in amendments proposed on his measure during its passage through Committee. He should therefore move, without further preface, for leave to bring in a Bill to establish free schools in England and Wales.


seconded the motion.


said, he could see no objection whatever to the introduction of this Bill. In common fairness the House ought to hear the opinions and to discuss the plans of every sect of educationists before they decided upon adopting any particular scheme.


said, of course it was very desirable that all the various schemes should be laid before the House, and there could be no objection to the introduction of this Bill.


said, he quite agreed that it was very desirable that the House should be put in possession of the different propositions made for the extension of education. There were now five schemes before them, two for Scotland, and three for this country, namely, the Government measure, the Bill of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington), and that now proposed by the right. hon. Gentleman, (Mr. M. Gibson). Upon the principle of these Bills it was premature as yet to pronounce an opinion; but he wished to ask the Government whether they intended to proceed with the Bill of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London on the day at present fixed for its second reading, and whether, soon after Easter, they would be prepared to state the details of the scheme upon which they thought the education of this country ought in future to be conducted?


said, the principle of the Bill of his noble Friend the Member for London, and of the Bill of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich, was the same. The Bill of his noble Friend would not be proceeded with on the 16th of April, the day fixed, but would be proceeded with shortly after the return of the noble Lord.


said, there was one omission in both of the Bills before the House of which it was proper the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) should be informed. He felt that some of the difficulties which were most in the way of those anxious to promote education might be overcome by the establishment of industrial schools; but he saw no provision either in the noble Lord's Bill or in that of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) for establishing schools of such a character. At present many parents could not be induced to send their children to school while employment could be got for them. Now if you could establish industrial schools where children could be instructed in useful occu- pations, as well as profitably employed, he thought this would overcome objections on the part of the parents, and could not fail to promote largely the cause of education throughout the country.


said, he should be glad of some further explanation of the intentions of the Government. Several of the education Bills would come on before the noble Lord's (Lord J. Russell's) return, and what was to be done with them? The Bill of the hon. Member for Manchester was a secular Bill, and excluded religion; the Bill of the right hon. Member for Droitwich provided for teaching the religion of the majority. He (Mr. Hadfield) disapproved of the caricatures and hideous representations of the ignorance of the people, which had been so industriously depicted. It was not fair or honest that no mention was made of 2,300,000 children being taught religiously in the Sunday schools, by 263,000 teachers who possessed their confidence and affection.


said, he thought the suggestion of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir S. Northcote) as to industrial schools was deserving of attention. It was clear that some compromise must be come to by the advocates of the five Bills before the House, and, for his own part, he should be quite willing to accept of some such moderate plan as that in operation in Ireland, embracing the use of Scripture extracts in the schools.


said, he thought that, with so many schemes before the House, there was danger of something like a triangular dual on the subject of education. He could not say he agreed with the principle either of the noble Lord's (Lord J. Russell's) Bill, or of the measure introduced by his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington), and he should certainly not be sorry to see the scheme of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) in competition with the other plans before the House.


said, that in reference to the remarks of the hon. Member for Dudley (Sir S. Northcote) there was a provision in the Bill for the establishment of industrial schools.

Leave given.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. MILNER GIBSON, Mr. COBDEN, and Mr. HEADLAM.

Bill read 1°.

The House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.