§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Mr. Speaker, when I applied for leave to introduce this Bill, of which I am now about to move 2113 the second reading, I stated the objects which I had in view, and the nature of the measure, at so much length, that I had not intended to intrude upon the patience of the House to-day in moving the second reading; I intended rather to reserve myself to answer any objections that may be made to the measure in the course of the discussion. I will, Sir, however, venture for a few moments to request the attention of the House, in consequence of having reason to believe that the real objects I have in view, and the nature of the measure itself, have been a good deal misunderstood. I think it is most advisable, as we are to divide to-day upon the principles of the Bill, that hon. Gentlemen should know what those principles really are. While, on the one hand, I have no desire whatever to conciliate support upon false pretences, I should, on the other hand, be sorry if this Bill should be opposed under any mistake or misapprehension as to what are its real scope and intentions. In the first place, although I feel I have no right to claim the attention of the House upon this question, having previously stated my views at some length on the introduction of the measure, I yet hope that in endeavouring to meet a great national evil, I may ask the House to put a favourable construction upon an attempt to remove that evil—an attempt which at first sight may appear presumptuous, but which, at all events, is made with a perfect singleness of purpose. Sir, the object of this Bill is one of immense importance, and of immense difficulty. I seek by this Bill no less an object than this—I seek, at any rate ultimately, to bring a good school within the reach of every door. Now, then, what are the principles by which I seek to accomplish that great object? First of all, this Bill rests upon the principle that we are bound by our duty, with respect to the national character and its preservation, to extend and improve the existing means of education. My second principle is, that in, deference to what I consider to be a Christian duty, and to what I believe to be the feeling of the people, that improved and extended education ought to be religious. My third principle is, that, in seeking to provide all extended and religions education for the population of this country, divided as it is in religious belief, the measure should be founded upon principles of the most perfect toleration. By toleration I mean—to borrow a phrase used in some of the petitions this 2114 day presented to the House—perfect religious liberty and perfect and equal regard to the feelings of all religious denominations, and complete liberty of conscience. These, then, are the three principles upon which this Bill rests. With regard to the machinery by which I propose to carry these out, it rests upon what I may call two principles. The first is, that these great objects shall be mainly effected by means of a public fund, which fund is to be constituted by local contributions, together with grants from this House. The second principle upon which my machinery rests is, that these funds shall be administered by means of local boards, popularly elected, acting upon that principle of self-government which we have so much at heart, embracing within them the most educated and competent classes of the country; but that these local boards, which are to watch over, to guide, and to foster education in the several districts, shall be superintended by a central department, duly representing and responsible to this House, and thus to carry out a principle closely analogous to that great measure by which the relief of the poor of this country is administered. These, Sir, are the principles upon which I, this day, ask the House to pronounce an opinion. I have earnestly to express a hope that your votes will be given upon these principles, and that you will not allow yourselves, in considering these principles, to be embarrassed upon questions of detail which ought properly to be reserved for discussion and examination when we are in Committee. I will now, Sir, briefly allude to certain misapprehensions with which I am told this Bill has been received. I am told that in respect to the third principle upon which the Bill rests, namely, perfect toleration to all religious denominations, that there are some persons who, agreeing with me in my views so far, nevertheless think that I am running the risk of endangering everything like a religious education, that I have taken no security whatever against secular schools being maintained under my Bill; and, above all, that I have said nothing in the Bill as to the necessity of the reading of the Holy Scriptures in the schools. Now if that objection were really well founded, I confess I should consider it a most serious one. Such, however, is not my intention, and such I contend is not the tendency or the real meaning of the clauses referred to. But if any hon. Gentleman considers them open to this objec- 2115 tion, all I can say is this, that, disclaiming any such intention, I shall be prepared to meet them in the same candid spirit, and shall be willing to introduce words when in Committee upon the Bill, to guard against the apprehended danger. The reason why I do not think that I am open to this charge is, that the Bill rests upon what is commonly called the denominational system. I beg hon. Members to recollect, that I have, by the wording of my clauses, divided the schools of England, both present and prospective, into two great classes. The first is all the existing schools, some of which are good and some bad, but still a great number of them are at present in existence. The other great class is the schools to be hereafter provided under the clauses of the Bill. It seems to me that such is the intention of my measure, and in my humble judgment there is really a provision for religious instruction in both of these classes. It seems to me that all the existing schools throughout this country, as far as my knowledge goes, are connected either with the Church of England, or with some one of the great recognised religions denominations of this empire. And here let me speak of the Dissenters with that respect, and I will say with that gratitude, which I feel towards them. I hope, Sir, that in considering the provisions of this Bill, there will be no feeling of bitterness existing between Churchmen and Dissenters. It is, I think, impossible for the most ardent Churchman to deny that in the course of the last half century, while the population was increasing so vastly in numbers, the Church of England has failed to keep pace with the requirements of increasing numbers. On the other hand, it is equally impossible to deny, that in respect to both religious and secular knowledge we see growing up around us in crowded districts a population dangerously and sadly ignorant of the great truths of religion. But, dangerous as that evil is, it would be far greater had not the leading denominations of Dissenters stepped in to the rescue, and trained many thousands of our population to the knowledge of their religious duties, of which the inadequate supply of Church instruction had left them utterly ignorant. With these feelings of respect towards the Dissenters, I have framed my Bill, and with the belief that our great and well-known denominations of Dissenters—for it is to them I now speak—wherever they have their own schools established, will be 2116 as ready as any other religious classes to inculcate the necessity of reading and explaining the Holy Scriptures. It would, therefore, be almost presumptuous on my part, to prescribe to them the necessity of teaching the Scriptures in their schools. Well, what are the other existing denominational schools not in connection with the Dissenters? There is an immense number of them connected with the Church throughout the length and breadth of the land. My belief is, that if I could ward off the objection taken, and prescribe in my Bill the manner in which the clergy of the Church of England should read the Scriptures, and teach religion to the people, I should raise a storm against me of the opposite nature, and I should be asked what business had I to tell them how they are to read the Scriptures and to teach religion in the schools of this country. I only mention this branch of the subject for the purpose of showing that in omitting any direct allusion to the reading or teaching of the Holy Scriptures, I felt that by necessity, by the terms of the Bill itself, it was laid down that in respect to the schools of either class, although there was toleration for all, still that the new schools to be established under my measure must be in connection with some religious denomination. Well, then, another objection has been raised, that in respect to some of those new schools to be established under this Bill, there is nothing to prevent them being as it were Mormonised. I allude to this point now, because I perceive it has been raised in a petition presented this day by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), in which the very word "Mormonist" is mentioned. Well, my answer to this objection is this—I never contemplated, in the establishment of schools under one class or the other, that any other religious denomination should come within the provisions of the Bill, except such as are recognised and are well known; such as have followed the proceedings of the Committee of Council on Education. The provisions of my Bill only apply to the recognised religious denominations. Now, as the clause does require that the religion of those schools should be prescribed by the Committee of Council, it follows as a matter of course that the Committee of Council will not prescribe any religion for them that is not already recognised. Sir, having said so much in justification of this measure, I do not think it necessary to detain the House 2117 by any further explanations. An Amendment, I believe, will be moved to the second reading of this Bill. I shall then have the power of meeting any of the objections that may be urged in the course of this discussion. I have therefore now, Sir, merely to move that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. HENLEY
* Sir, I am sure the House will feel that no apology is required from my right hon. Friend for having brought forward this important subject. It is one in which all parties are deeply interested, and no apology is necessary on the part of any man for bringing forward any propositions which he may think calculated to promote the welfare of his fellow-creatures. Sir, I confess I feel very great difficulty in the course I am about to take, because, in asking the House not to agree to the second reading of a measure which professes to have for its object the promotion of the education of the people of this country, it might be assumed by some persons that I am inclined to oppose any extension of education at all. That, however, is not the case, and the reason why I feel called upon to oppose the Bill of my right hon. Friend is, that I entertain the most deliberate conviction that to affirm its principles will not be to extend education at all—certainly not religious education. Fortunately, I ant relieved from the necessity of replying to any insinuation that, in opposing the Bill, I am actuated by a party feeling, because it is brought forward by a dear and valued friend, with whom I have been associated, and nothing but the conscientious conviction that it will produce the evils I apprehend could have induced me to oppose it. But, having this conviction, I think it is due not only to my right hon. Friend, but to myself and to the country, to state fairly the objections which I entertain to the measure. The new definition given to the principles of the Bill this night by my right hon. Friend does not in the least alter my opinion of the measure. I do not think that any one who has carefully read the Bill can misunderstand the intentions of my right hon. Friend; but whether my right hon. Friend has succeeded in carrying out those intentions in the enactment he has proposed is altogether a different question.
2118 Sir, I am even disposed to look at this question in a somewhat higher point of view than my right hon. Friend has considered it. The professed object of the Bill is to bring a good and extended religious education within the reach of every door; but, instead of extending education, I believe the Bill will have a contrary effect. The real question for the decision of the House at the present moment is, whether it will extend and foster a voluntary self-supporting system of education, or whether it will run the great risk of suspending that system for three or four years, while a new scheme can be got into operation; whether, in point of fact, it will absolutely arrest the vast progress now being made, run the risk of cutting the throat of a system which, if it has not done all the good that can be wished, has unquestionably effected a vast amount of good, and set up a system of local or State education to be supported by an enormous taxation.
Sir, in bringing into operation the vast machinery proposed by the Bill of my right hon. Friend, I do not think the result will be attained which my right hon. Friend seems to expect; and one very serious question for consideration, which I shall have occasion to allude to hereafter, is, whether, in such a measure as this, you will not stamp upon the education of the country the brand of pauperism. That is not a matter to be lost sight of. At the present moment the humbler classes of society arc contributing largely and cheerfully to aid in, and secure the education of their children, and are being gradually drawn more kindly towards their richer neighbours; and each class is endeavouring to contribute in fair proportion to the common good; and I should be most sorry to see anything done to interrupt the process now going on.
And, here, Sir, I will ask, what is meant by the word "education?" If it is meant that a person is merely to be able to read and write, do certain sums in arithmetic, or answer certain claptrap questions about the position of various parts of the world, the reigning sovereigns, and other matters of that kind, then I have no hesitation in saving that I do not very much value such an education. I believe, Sir, that education, to be of value, and especially that which it is the duty of the State to promote, ought to be of that kind which trains the mind upon the solid foundation 2119 of religious teaching, reaches the heart, and elevates the condition of the people, so that they may know what is, and how they are to do, their duty to God and man; and, doing their duty to God and man, may successfully struggle through this life to the life to come. Humble as may have been the means by which we have endeavoured to attain this end, I believe that among the people of England, compared with the population of any other country, a state of things has been brought about, which, if it may not be all that can be desired, shows, at all events in comparison with other places, that the system which has existed cannot have been so very faulty. A very large proportion of the favourable result that has been brought about must necessarily be attributed to the school system. My right hon. Friend may call the present system no school system at all, but an enormous number of schools are scattered over the face of the country, in which, though the education imparted may be deficient in what is commonly called school learning, the effect has been to secure the more important result of educating the minds and hearts of the people. My right hon. Friend has referred to the deficiencies as to numbers of the Church Establishment in affording auxiliary aid to the education of the people. No man can be more sensible of that fact than I am, and every one must admit that, short as has been the means of securing secular education, the means of securing spiritual education among the people, except in the schools, has been still shorter. It must, I think, be admitted, that if religious instruction is not secured in the schools, we shall deceive ourselves if we expect that it will be supplied either by the parents or the ministers of religion, the number of the latter being wholly inadequate for such a purpose. According to the official returns of the last Census, rather more than two-thirds of the number of children which Mr. Horace Mann estimated ought to be at school were at day schools, whereas, in reference to the religious point of the question, the deficiency in the number of those who ought to attend places of worship is much more. My right hon. Friend, in introducing his Bill, stated what he considered to be the requirements of the country, and placed those requirements under four heads. In order that no mistake may be made in the view taken by my right hon. Friend, I will give his statement 2120 from a published report of his speech. My right hon. Friend said—In considering this subject, I shall divide it into four parts—first, the number of those who receive no education at all; secondly, the quality of the education received by those who attend schools; thirdly, our comparative state with regard to the rest of the world; and fourthly, the deplorable results of having neglected this question.Sir, I propose to follow my right hon. Friend into each of these points, and I may remark that the conclusion drawn from them by my right hon. Friend was, that the deplorable results of our neglect had surrounded us with a mass of ignorance and crime which was sapping our prosperity, and deeply affecting our welfare and our institutions. Now, Sir, I believe that there never was a time when the institutions of this country were more secure than they are at present, and when, speaking generally, we could look with greater satisfaction upon the state of the people. I do not wish to be misunderstood in this matter. I do not mean to say that there is not a large amount of crime and ignorance existing, which I should be glad to see removed; but ignorance and crime will always exist to a certain extent, though that is no reason why we should not take every means in our power to abate that ignorance and prevent that crime. Now, I hold a strong opinion that the measure proposed by my right hon. Friend will not remedy the deficiencies of the existing system, that it will neither increase the number of scholars, nor the quality of the education imparted. It must, however, be borne in mind, that when I use the term "quality of education," I mean that sort of education, as contra-distinguished from school learning, which while it instructs the head will reach the heart. My right hon. Friend, in introducing his Bill, drew an elaborate comparison between the state of education in this country and upon the Continent. I shall have occasion hereafter to touch upon that subject more fully, but at present I merely wish to say that, according to the evidence of the amount of crime prevailing in England, it is at all events decreasing, and my right hon. Friend has never attempted to show, in any part of his long and able speech, the connection that may exist between the want of school learning and crime. Sir, let it not be understood for a moment that I stand here 2121 as an advocate for ignorance, but after the observations of my right hon. Friend, it is necessary to see how far his arguments are supported by facts. In the first instance, I differ in some degree from my right hon. Friend as to the number of children at school. The statement of my right hon. Friend was, however, founded upon the Census returns, and, according to those returns, the number attending the clay schools is about 2,140,000, and the number attending the Sunday schools, about 2,400,000. According to the calculations of Mr. Horace Mann, there ought to be something like 3,000,000 children at day schools, instead of 2,140,000; and the first question for the House to consider with regard to this statement is, what is the reason that the whole number of children who ought to be at school are not at school? In point of fact, that is a matter that lies at the root of the whole question; and any person who has gone at all closely into the question will have arrived at the conclusion, that the lack of attendance at school is not altogether owing to the want of school-room. The evidence taken before the Manchester and Salford Education Committee is almost conclusive upon that point; but while in the aggregate there is a sufficient amount of accommodation, there may be many local deficiencies. The provisions of the Bill, however, give no sure remedy for such a state of things. According to the Report of Mr. Watkins, one of the Government inspectors, on this subject, quoted by Mr. Horace Mann in his Report on the Census, it is said that—In 256 inspected schools, having 27,363 children in average attendance, the accommodation, at six square feet for each child, is available for 50,801. In Manchester and Salford it seems, from the evidence before the Parliamentary Committee of 1852, while only 33,663 children were upon the books of all the day schools, there was redundant accommodation for no less than 34,443; so that it may very fairly be concluded that if, in 1851, as many as 2,144,378 scholars were upon the books of day schools, the accommodation could not have been far from adequate for 3,000,000. It is possible, indeed, that the accommodation may not always have been just in the place where it was wanted.Now, the great question for the consideration of the House is, the reason why these children do not avail themselves of the accommodation provided, and, with all due regard to the able mode in which Mr. Horace Mann has treated this question, I think that gentleman has, in dealing with it, omitted one most important element—namely, the 2122 distance at which many of the children live from the schools where education is to be obtained. Now, I am prepared to show that the Bill of my right hon. Friend, and all Bills of a similar character, would fail to bring the schools to the door of the children, and from their very nature would be unable to do so. The indifference of parents is often alleged as one cause of the small attendance at the present schools; but how is the right hon. Gentleman's Bill to remedy that evil? I am afraid that the indifference of the parents arises from a feeling that, it is not surprising to me, should have lingered among our humbler brethren for a much longer time than among the educated classes; for it is not many years ago that even in educated society there was not such universal agreement as to the benefits of education as you find now, and it is almost cruel to reflect, as has been done in many works relating to the subject of education, upon the indifference of the parents to send their children to school, when doubts as to the benefits to be derived from it have so recently existed in the minds of the educated classes themselves. From whatever cause the indifference of the people arises, the Bill provides no mode by which the attendance of the children can be made compulsory; and thus in respect to the indifference of parents, the number of children who will stay away from school will continue the same as at present. The next point is a most important one, namely, whether the want of attendance at school arises from the poverty of the parents. Poverty and indifference are matters entirely distinct from each other, and the argument that the poverty of the parents keeps the children from school divides itself into two distinct considerations—one being the inability of the parents to pay the school pence, and the other the want of thriftiness and careful habits among some of the poorer classes, by which, when they get a little behindhand in the world, though they may be enabled to pay the school pence, they are not able to send their children to school in sufficiently decent apparel to place them upon a footing with their neighbours, and are therefore induced to keep them at home from a feeling of false pride. I believe that that feeling exists to a very considerable extent, and no means are provided in the Bill by which it can be remedied. Certainly, so far as the limited class who are unable to pay the school pence are concerned, the Bill would 2123 afford some remedy, inasmuch as it proposes in certain cases to make the schools free. How far they are to be made free is a question of great importance, because, if the new schools only are to be free, the remedy would be of a very partial character, and to make all the other schools free would be to stamp pauperism upon the whole people, and to produce an evil which would be ten thousand times greater than any advantage to be derived from the possibility of bringing to school the few children whose parents are unable to pay the school pence. My right hon. Friend, in his able speech when introducing this Bill, selected Austria as one of the best educated countries in Europe; but I shall shortly have occasion to show that the compulsory and free-school system of Austria has not succeeded in bringing so large a number of the whole population into elementary schools as the voluntary system adopted in this country. The difficulty of getting the children to the schools lies at the very root of the present question; and a statement of Mr. Horace Mann goes to prove that it is not an inability to pay the school pence that keeps the children from school. Mr. Mann says—The condition of many of the free schools where no payment is demanded of the scholar seems to show that 'poverty' is not an adequate explanation of the children's absence, for in many free schools, though located in the midst of populous neighbourhoods, the attendance of scholars is less numerous and much less constant than in schools which require a fee. The fact that free schools, well conducted, may be found half empty, while a multitude of uninstructed children who might enter them remain outside, seems inconsistent with the theory that the poverty of the parents is the chief impediment to a sufficient school attendance.That is the opinion of Mr. Horace Mann; but Mr. Mann does not stand alone. Mr. Kennedy, who favours a rate, one of the Government inspectors, as quoted by Mr. Baines, in his evidence before the Manchester and Salford Education Committee, says—And without some stimulus I almost fear that no measure, not even a rate providing good instruction for all, will have due effect; for, even when we have got good school-rooms and good teachers, and plenty of them, how are we to get the scholars?Mr. Kennedy offers no solution to this question, nor does the Bill of my right hon. Friend. It is, however, incumbent upon my right hon. Friend, in proposing a complete change of the present system, to show that the change would have the 2124 effect of inducing an increased number of children to attend the schools, though I believe my right hon. Friend must entirely fail to show that such would be the result. On the contrary, I believe, that, instead of the Bill securing the attendance of a larger number of children, there would be a danger of closing many of the smaller schools now existing, and consequently of diminishing the number of scholars, who could not attend the district schools.
I come now to the question of the quality of the education given. My right hon. Friend has made broad assertions, but has given extremely little evidence as to the bad quality of the education at present imparted; and he has been altogether silent as to the quality of the religious teaching given in the various schools. My right hon. Friend admitted the large number of schools now existing, but was not pleased with their locality, size, or the quality of education given in them.. He said, "Your schools are scattered about all over the country, and held in all sorts of places." Now, the reason they are scattered all over the country is, that they have been established as the Church of England has followed the population. It is impossible in every little village of one, two, or three hundred inhabitants, to have fine schools, but those who think with me that it is highly requisite at all events to teach the child his duty to God and man, have been content to supply that education in those humble day schools in those corners, which my right hon. Friend does not approve, and by that means they have diffused throughout the length and breadth of the land such an amount of essential knowledge, which, although it comes short in the article of technical school learning, has been among the causes, under the blessing of God, of the present improved condition of the people. My right hon. Friend has not been quite just upon this point; he has quoted an extract from Mr. Mann's Report, containing a statement of a nature calculated to attract the attention of the House, without having given the whole of the statement made by Mr. Mann in reference to the subject. My right hon. Friend, after describing the manner in which the existing schools are scattered throughout the country, their humble character, and the places in which many of them are held, proceeded to say—Mr. Mann adds these significant words—'In the case of 708 out of these 13,879, the returns were respectively signed by the master or mistress 2125 with a mark. Could anything show more conclusively the miserable inferiority of the system in operation in this country?'[Sir J. PAKINGTON: Hear, hear!] My right hon. Friend cheers, but in common justice to Mr. Mann another passage appended by Mr. Mann, which entirely qualifies the statement quoted by my right hon. Friend, ought to have been given. Mr. Mann said—Of course, in looking at the 13,879 inferior schools, it must not be forgotten what a large proportion of the total number of scholars is composed of children under five years old, for whom a higher class of school would be of little avail.I think my right hon. Friend ought, in common justice, to have quoted that passage, because it completely removes the effect of Mr. Mann's previous statement. It is well known that children are sent to what are called "infant schools" at the age of one or two years; in fact, the labouring classes frequently send their children to such schools that they may be taken care of while the parents are at work, and all that is required on the part of the teacher is, that she shall be a good motherly woman who will keep order among her scholars and teach them their letters. I believe it would be found, on inquiry, that more than 700 out of the number of schools to which Mr. Mann referred were of the class of infant schools. The only other evidence adduced by my right hon. Friend with regard to the quality of the education afforded, was a quotation from some work which mentioned the number of men in a militia regiment who were unable to write their names, and were obliged to make their marks. The House must remember, however, that militiamen generally enter the service at the age of twenty, or even earlier, and, as the children of the poor usually leave school about the age of twelve, the reference of my right hon. Friend carries us back to the state of education as it was eight years ago. The case of these militiamen may afford some proof of the state of education eight years back, but it is no evidence of the state of education at the present time.
Sir, I must express my surprise that my right hon. Friend has omitted, throughout his speech, any notice whatever of Sunday-school education. The instruction afforded in such schools is unquestionably a very valuable element in the educational system of this country, and I believe tends not only to keep up the knowledge which has 2126 been acquired by children in day schools at an earlier age, but also to do much in imparting the most valuable of all knowledge.
My right hon. Friend has compared the systems of education in this and in foreign countries, and appears to rely principally upon the case of Austria. I shall endeavour to show the House what is the real value of that comparison. The right hon. Baronet, in introducing his Bill, said—I find that in 1846, when the population of England was 17,018,600, the number of persons committed thy trial was 25,107, and the number summarily convicted was 35,749, making altogether 60,856 persons convicted of crime. The population of Austria in the year 1838 was 23,652,000, and the detected crimes amounted to 29,492. The result is, therefore, that while the population of Austria was upwards of 6,500,000 more than that of England, the detected crime in England was double that of Austria.My right hon. Friend went on to state, "that in Austria one in 800 of the population was detected in crime, while in England three in 800 are detected, marking a difference of three to one." It is with great regret that I feel compelled to say that my right hon. Friend's comparison is inaccurate in every particular. In the first place, the House will observe that my right hon. Friend's comparison is between persons accused in England and persons detected in Austria. In the next place, the right hon. Gentleman takes from the criminal tables for this country, relating solely to indictable offences, the number of persons as convicted, when, in point of fact, they were only accused, and, adding to them the number summarily convicted, he compares the result with a table of criminals in Austria which relates only to what are in England indictable offences. On referring to Mr. Kay's book, which is the authority upon which my right hon. Friend has relied, I find that the offences included in the Austrian table of criminals are not such as are treated summarily in this country. The list contains high treason, breaches of the peace, rebellion and outrage, public assaults as contradistinguished from common assaults, returning from transportation, ill-treatment of officials—(I do not know whether in this country such an offence is indictable or can be dealt with summarily.) The other offences mentioned are forgery, coining, religious disturbances, violation, murder, manslaughter, procuring abortion, child desertion, wounding, malicious burning, 2127 theft, embezzlement, robbery, fraud, bigamy, defamation, assisting criminals, and non-compliance with the sanitary laws. Surely no one will contend for a moment that the class of offences which come under our summary jurisdiction in this country, can have anything to do with such a table as this. Now, Sir, as the House has been told that Austria possesses one of the best educational systems in Europe—a national system which the people are compelled at the point of the bayonet to adopt—I have endeavoured to ascertain the real condition of that country in an educational point of view, so far as regards the numbers receiving education, and I will undertake to show the House, that, notwithstanding the existence of a national and compulsory system of education, the number of persons receiving education in Austria is below what it is in this country. This is a very material point in considering the comparative results of the voluntary and State systems of education. The difference is materially in favour of this country, and I will show the House that, even with respect to the equality of distribution of education, the Austrian dominions are in a much worse condition than England, and that there is in this country less of crime, and a higher standard of morality, than in Austria. The work of Dr. Kay, Education of the Poor in England and Europe, refers to the years 1837 and 1838, and we have in the library of the House returns of the number of persons educated in the Austrian dominions, following exactly the same divisions as Dr. Kay, for the year 1847; and the proportion of persons educated in 1847 does not appear to have differed materially from the proportions of 1837 and 1838; so that, practically, the thing was pretty well stationary in Austria between these two periods. The whole population of Austria, excluding Hungary, was, in 1838, 23,652,000. The number of persons receiving education in all the primary schools, including what were called the "repetition" schools, at that time, was 2,338,985, the proportion of the whole population educated under the compulsory system being one in ten and a fraction. In this country, however, where it is said that no system of education exists, the proportion of the people receiving education is one in eight and a fraction. With regard to the number of persons convicted of the crimes before mentioned in Austria, I find it is stated by Mr. Kay to be 29,492, or as nearly as possible 1 in 800 of the popula- 2128 tion, in 1838. I shall show presently that in this country it was 1 in 846 in 1851.
I now come, Sir, to the test of morality, which is by no means an unimportant one, as showing how far education has reached the hearts and affected the conduct of the people. I may state that Mr. Kay, in his work, does not enter into this part of the question; and I have obtained the information to which I am about to refer from the Parliamentary papers in the library. The number of births throughout the whole Austrian Empire in 1846 was 976,495; the illegitimate births numbered 100,528; so that the proportion of illegitimate births was one in nine and a fraction. I will now direct the attention of the House to the state of education in the different portions of the Austrian Empire, and I must here observe that the statements of my right hon. Friend may have led the House to infer that the least educated among the population of Austria are the most vicious. I will ask the House to consider the condition of the provinces of Galicia, and of Upper and Lower Austria, which are under the same law with regard to a national system of education; Upper and Lower Austria having the largest number of the population at school, and Galicia the least number, excepting two provinces of small population. The population of Galicia numbers 4,728,000, but only one in forty-eight receives education. It must then be clear that, in Galicia, education, even under a compulsory national system, cannot be brought as it were to every man's door: for if that were so, how is it that so small a proportion of the children attend school? Now, what is the number of criminals in Galicia, in proportion to the population? It is 1 in 1,570. Let the House mark how elements of this kind baffle calculation, and how dangerous it is to be led by such statements as have been made by my right hon. Friend to condemn our own system and our own population. Then, with respect to the question of morality, I find that the number of births in Galicia, in the year 1846 was 200,742, while the number of illegitimate children was 17,271. In Galicia, therefore, where education is compulsory, yet reaches few of the people, there was one illegitimate child in eleven, while on the average population of the Austrian Empire the proportion was one in nine. I will now refer to the most highly educated part of the Austrian Empire—namely, Upper and Lower Austria, which 2129 contain 2,246,000 inhabitants, and where the proportion of the population receiving education is 95 or 96 per cent, or one in six and a fraction—an extraordinarily high proportion. The number of criminals in that portion of the Austrian dominions was 3,418, or 1 in 656 of the population. What, then, is the state of morality in the same districts? The number of births was 82,879, of which 20,000 were illegitimate—a proportion of about 1 in 4¼. So much for the comparative results to be drawn from the effects of a national and compulsory system of education! I do not wish to conceal anything, and I must therefore remind the House, in considering this subject, that the morality of the Austrian people may be affected by the marriage laws of that country, which, I believe, throw difficulties in the way of the marriage of persons who are not educated up to a certain point. It is, however, a very remarkable fact, that in that portion of Austria where education is the most extensively diffused, the moral and criminal condition of the people appears to be the worst. Unquestionably, the number of marriages in the Austrian Empire is less, in proportion to the population, than the number of marriages in this country, and I think that may well be the case when illicit intercourse exists to such an extent as is shown by these returns. I will now show the House what is, in this respect, the condition of our own still happy country, which my right hon. Friend has described as steeped in crime and ignorance. In 1851, the population of this kingdom numbered 17,927,609, of whom 2,144,378 were educated, or a proportion of 1 in 8⅓. The number of criminals—of persons convicted, not accused—was 21,579, in 1851, or 1 in 826. I take the year 1851, as affording a more just and fair average than 1846, when the number of criminals was remarkably low. Then, with regard to the question of morality, I find that, according to the last return of the Registrar General for 1852, the number of births was 622,990; and the number of the illegitimate children was 42,491, or one in fourteen and a fraction. The moral condition of this country, therefore, presents a remarkable contrast to that of the highly educated provinces of Upper and Lower Austria, where one birth in four is illegitimate. I think the facts I have proved—that the proportion of the population receiving education in this country is larger than in Austria, that the amount of criminality is 2130 less, and that the moral condition of the people is better—will show the House that it will not be very wise hastily to adopt a change such as that suggested in our present system of education. I have referred to returns in the library in order to ascertain the moral condition of other States in which a national system of education exists, and I find that in Belgium, Bavaria, and Denmark the state of morality, as tested by the births of illegitimate children, was considerably below that of this country. My hon. Friend has made this comparison an important element in his case, and, as we have been thus invited to go into the subject, I think it right to press it upon the attention of the House.
My right hon. Friend has referred to the case of America, which has also been frequently quoted as affording a strong instance of the advantages of what is called a national system of education. I am sure my right hon. Friend—and I believe the House and the country—would not value any national system of education unless it fully secured the element of religious teaching; and, although my right hon. Friend has only touched in a general passing way upon the excellence of the system of education in America, we are not without evidence which is entitled to considerable weight with regard to the effect of the instruction afforded under the American system, so far as religion is concerned. My right hon. Friend stated, and no doubt firmly believes, that by the measure which he has submitted to the House he will introduce a religious system of education into this country. The opinions of some persons who have paid attention to the state of education in America tend to show that, judging from the result of American experience, my right hon. Friend may probably be mistaken as to the effect of his measure. I am aware that the right hon. Baronet contends for a religious system of education. [Sir J. PAKINGTON made an observation to Mr. Henley which was inaudible in the gallery.] My right hon. Friend says he condemns the religious system of America, and I will show the House that the educational system established in America has sunk down into a purely secular system, and has produced results which, in the opinion of those whose statements I will quote, are not of a very favourable character. I will trouble the House with an extract 2131 from the evidence of Mr. E. Baines before the Manchester and Salford Education Committee, of which I believe the right hon. Member for Droitwich was a Member. Mr. Baines said—I would wish to speak with great respect of the American schools as to their secular character; I would wish also to say that there is something exceedingly peculiar in those schools, as they profess to be what they are not; they pretend to be, as they were originally, schools for teaching religion, and yet the teaching of religion is almost altogether banished from them. It is distinctly so stated by the Hon. Horace Mann, in his tenth report on the schools of Massachusetts. He says, 'The policy of the State promotes not only secular, but religious instruction; yet in such a way as leaves to every individual the right of private judgment and the sacred freedom of conscience.'In the origin of those schools in Massachusetts, which was 210 years ago, namely, in 1642, the instruction enjoined by law was distinctively religious instruction, and so it continued for a great number of years. That was the origin of the school system of New England in the Puritan times, by those called the Pilgrim Fathers; but, at present, while it is nominally religious, I apprehend that there is almost no religious instruction given in the day schools of the United States at all."— [Q. 1928.]Now, Sir, I consider that this statement of Mr. Baines is entitled to very considerable weight. Indeed, I think the name of that gentleman is sufficient to secure attention to any opinion he might express upon a subject with which no man is better acquainted. I fear that if the plan submitted to the House by my right hon. Friend were adopted, there would be a great risk of its slipping down into a purely secular system. My right hon. Friend proposes to promote religious education in such a way as to leave to every person "the right of private judgment and the sacred freedom of conscience;" and we are assured that a system established upon such a basis in America has degenerated into a purely secular system. I find that the opinion of a gentleman named Tremenheere, who is thoroughly acquainted with the educational system adopted in the United States, is also quoted by Mr. Baines. I am not acquainted with the position of Mr. Tremenheere, and therefore I am unable to form any estimate of the value of his evidence; but that gentleman stated that he had consulted a great number of clergymen and others, who considered that the system was loosening the hold of definite Christian principles upon the minds of the people. Dr. Edson expressed a distinct opinion that the American system, which was originally set up as a religious 2132 system, had slipped down into a system of mere secular instruction, and had been attended with results which cannot but be deeply deplored. I fear that, if the plan of my right hon. Friend should be adopted by Parliament, it would also lead to consequences which no one would more sincerely regret than the right hon. Baronet. For my part, I am not prepared to consent to the establishment of a system which I believe must inevitably become merely secular.
My right hon. Friend has referred to what he calls the deplorable consequences which result from the want of an educational system in this country, and the first witness to whose evidence the right hon. Baronet referred, was a gentleman named Ruddock, who was an inspector of workhouse schools. Here, again, my right hon. Friend has not fairly quoted Mr. Ruddock. He quotes him, to show that in a vast number of the schools he has gone into, the children were totally ignorant, not knowing even the name of our Saviour; but it would have been only just if my right hon. Friend had given the accompanying remark of Mr. Ruddock on the subject. The quotation he has given, goes to show the deplorable want of education that exists, and the result of it; but Mr. Ruddock, after referring to the deplorable state of education among these children, added—I do not find that these children are furnished solely by those parishes which are still lacking the means of affording elementary education. All alike, whether possessing very good or inferior schools, equally with those where none exist, send their quota of ignorance to the union workhouse. The most prolific warrens are the outlying portions of large country parishes, and, still more, the suburban quarters of towns."—[Report on Workhouse Schools, 1851.]This remark goes to show that it is not so much the want of schools as the want of getting children to attend those schools that is matter of complaint, and that is a point upon which the Bill of my right hon. Friend would provide no remedy whatever. I hardly know whether my right hon. Friend brought forward Mr. Ruddock's statement as an illustration or as something from which we were to draw an inference. If it was to be used as an induction, then I feel bound to point out to the House the very narrow area which that gentleman's observations embraced. The whole number of children in connection with the workhouses which he had to deal with in one year was 6,750, and therefore the induc- 2133 tion is a very narrow one, if it is worth anything at all. If it is an induction, it is too narrow; and if it is an illustration, it is exaggerated. The only other evidence my right hon. Friend adduced to show the bad results of our present system was some well-known extracts, which are almost stereotyped, from the reports of the Preston House of Correction and the gaol of the county of Worcester. I will not say these reports are exaggerated, for they are no doubt true as far as they go, but they are not to be depended on as representing the average state of instruction even among criminals, because they speak of those who are in utter ignorance as one-half of the prisoners in gaol, while the general returns show the proportion to be one-third, and that this number is decreasing; so that here again, if these instances are quoted for induction, they are not sound—they are narrow in amount; and, if quoted as illustrations, they are exaggerated.
Having now gone through nearly all the evidence which my right hon. Friend has brought forward in support of his case—though I am afraid I have troubled the House at too great length—I will now adduce, in opposition to my right hon. Friend's views, the opinions of a nobleman recently published, as to the actual state of our population with respect to this matter. No doubt it is the firm conviction of my right hon. Friend that we are in a worse state than we have been. That being so, he proposes this vast and sweeping alteration, and therefore it is my duty to meet that conviction by the opinion of a person equally eminent and entitled to weight, though not more so than my right hon. Friend. About a week ago, an address was published in the newspapers, on this subject, to the schoolmasters of a certain district of the country, by my Lord Ashburton, and here is his opinion of the state of the people. He says—We know that education has been spreading day by day; the present generation is better instructed, more civilised, more softened in manners, more amenable to just control, than any preceding generation within the period of our known history.That is Lord Ashburton's deliberate opinion, stated when urging the schoolmasters of a particular district still further to go on with the good work in which they are engaged, and pointing out to them certain modes by which in his judgment they would be better able to reach the hearts of 2134 their scholars. The next matter to which I will refer is the great increase of education that has taken place (for we are not stationary in this respect), and I cannot but regard the increase as very remarkable. In 1818 the number of day scholars amounted to one in 17.25; in 1833, to one in 11.27; and in 1851, to one in 8.36. [Census Report.] There has also been a remarkable addition to the number of Sunday scholars—an addition the value of which cannot be too highly appreciated as a means of arresting the progress of crime. In 1818, the number of Sunday scholars was one in 24.40; in 1833, one in 9.28; and in 1851, one in 7.45. [Society's Reports, 1852, 1853.] This is a remarkable statement, and ought not to be lost sight of in the consideration of this question. I believe that in this country children go to work at an earlier age than in foreign countries with which a comparison as to education has been made, and therefore our Sunday-school education should have greater weight attached to it than is ordinarily the case in making these comparisons. It is, perhaps, not possible to obtain precise information as to the number of children who are day scholars as well as Sunday-scholars; but still it is a vast element in our system, and, in my belief, is producing an enormous amount of benefit, not only by the high morality which it imparts to the scholars, but by bringing in contact with each other the higher and lower ranks of society, knitting them together in the bonds of good-will and mutual esteem, in a manner and to a degree that is not likely to be secured in any other way. Having shown that education has increased and is increasing up to this point, I must observe that we know from the returns of some of the religious societies that its march is not at all likely to be stopped. I have returns from the National Society, showing that there are year by year added schools capable of containing between 20,000 and 30,000 scholars in union with that Society. No doubt the schools in union with this Society form only a portion of the whole number of Church schools, and if the latter are increasing in the same ratio as the schools in union, and if the increase goes on at all in the ratio of the last ten or twelve years, it must soon overtake any deficiency that may now exist; the schools also connected with other religious bodies I have no doubt are also fast increasing, although I have no documents in my possession that so plainly 2135 show it; and I believe that the deficiency, such as it is, will be supplied infinitely quicker than by the substitution of any measure like the present.
If this Bill were passed, the instant effect would be to arrest all voluntary effort. It would be stopped at once, and very likely the support now given to education would be withdrawn. Let the House look well at the condition of our population, to the actual state in which we are as compared with former years. My right hon. Friend has not touched upon that subject. He has drawn an invidious, and, as I have endeavoured to show, an unfounded distinction between this country and Austria, but he has not looked at the existing state of our people. It must not be supposed that I think there is no room for improvement. That is not my opinion. But I am ready to show that our population is in a state of steady improvement. If this is the case, and I believe it is, then it ought to form a very large element in the consideration of the question—aye or no—whether we should disturb a system that is producing such good results. There are three subjects on which we have public returns of a kind to enable us to form an opinion on the past and present condition of our population, namely, crime, drunkenness, and bastardy. I look upon the returns affecting drunkenness as showing, perhaps more than any other, the effect of education upon the people, because education is of no use if it does not produce reformation in this respect, and save men from falling into bad and debasing habits. Self-control is especially looked for as the result of education, and there is nothing in which self-control is more called for than to resist the greatest of all temptations to most men at some period of life—that of stimulating drinks. The social glass presents temptations more or less to most people, and perhaps there are few who have not partaken of it more freely than was desirable. It is a temptation that besets all classes, and therefore we have a right to look to it as a test when judging of the effects of education. Some years ago the late Mr. Hume moved for returns upon this subject from towns in England having above 10,000 inhabitants, thus giving a wide area and a large induction. I find that with a population in 1841 of 15,914,000 for the whole country—I give the population for the whole country, but the comparison would be stronger if the population of the towns was given, as the increase is 2136 greater in towns than in the country—in 104 towns there were apprehended in 1841, 75,268 persons for drunkenness; and in 1851, with a population of 17,927,000, 70,097, being an increase of 13 per cent in the population, and a decrease of six and a fraction per cent in the amount of drunkenness—in other words, if drunkenness and the population had gone on increasing in the same ratio, we should have had 85,052 persons apprehended in 1851 for drunkenness, whereas the result is a considerable gain on the side of sobriety. I will next take the criminal returns, where a similar result is exhibited. In the last criminal returns, which come down to 1853, the inspector commences his Report by stating that the population has increased 27 per cent in twenty years, while crime has only increased 20 per cent; so that if crime had increased in the same ratio with the population, instead of having 27,057 criminals accused in 1853, we should have had 28,505. Another element in the consideration of this question is the amount of bastardy. In 1845, seven years back, the number of illegitimate children amounted to seven and a small fraction per cent, and in 1852 to six and a large fraction per cent. The decrease is not great, but still it is in the right direction. It is proper also to observe under what circumstances these results have taken place. We have had during this time a great mitigation in the severity of our punishments, the criminal law having been very much relaxed. There has also been a very large increase of police force, so that there is every reason to believe that a greater proportion of crime is detected. We have no record of offences committed—the police may prevent some crime, but they probably detect a larger proportion. Then, with regard to bastardy, there is that in operation to which I beg to call the special attention of the President of the Poor Law Board, as it has a great effect in increasing the amount of bastardy that exists—I mean that unfortunate and unjust state of the law which compels a man to maintain children not his own, if he has married their mother. My right hon. Friend knows that this is a provision under the Poor Law; and I know within my own experience, in my own neighbourhood, many cases in which persons live on in sin, though the woman wants to marry, and the man would not be averse, but who nevertheless do not marry, because the man would have to support any children the woman might 2137 have had either by a former husband or by another person. The unhappy woman who has children cannot, in fact, get any man to take her as a wife from that cause alone, and the result is, that the Poor Law produces in this respect as large an amount of wickedness and sin as any other law in the world. There may be economic reasons for such a law, but it operates very unfortunately; it leads to a large amount of sin and wickedness, and is an element to be considered, in viewing the question of bastardy in this country, small in amount as that bastardy is compared with foreign countries, and which but for the state of the law would in my opinion be much less.
Sir, I have now gone over these three points; but there is an important view of this question that I think ought not to be lost sight of. It is not one on which I can give statistical returns, but it immediately concerns the comparison which has been drawn between this and other countries, and is within the knowledge of every one—I mean the effect of our system of education on the people, producing as it does a sense of responsibility, self-government, and social order. I know it may be said that education has nothing to do with this—that it was the nature of our people; what is it that makes the nature of a people but education? Throughout the length and breadth of this land we have never yet set up the Goddess of Reason. In our system of education we have, from the highest to the lowest, laid down the principle that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." That truth has descended to us, and in some shape or other it permeates the whole mass of the people. It is because this truth has been carried out in all our proceedings—though in many cases, perhaps, there has not been added to it much learning—it is because we have carried out this principle in our day as well as in our Sunday schools, repeat that we principally owe that remarkable self-control, social order, and good conduct in trying circumstances, which distinguish our people in so remarkable a manner. I cannot here help reading a passage from the pen of Mr. Kay, only reminding the House that the Opinion of Mr. Kay was published in 1846, and therefore without his having had the advantage of the experience of what has since taken place. Mr. Kay, speaking of Austria, observed—That whatever might be the demands of the middle and higher classes of that country, the poor and working classes had their wants well 2138 supplied; that they sighed not for a state of public liberty of which they had no knowledge; that the Government wisely prevented their minds from being inflamed by those blisters to society that roused the same classes of our countrymen into a fever of discontent and disaffection, the effects of which were now visible in Great Britain, and that beneath the extended rule of Austria were to be found some of the best and most contented peasantry in Europe.But that is not all. He gave also his opinions of our own country, observing, that,While at the General Peace every Protestant State on the Continent set to work to find the means of future advantage, in the development of the moral force of its people, England alone appeared in this respect to have misunderstood the genius of Protestantism; that with the worthiest and most enlightened aristocracy, and the most influential and enterprising middle class, her lower orders were, as a mass, the least instructed, the least civilised, of any other lower class in Europe.This is followed by tables, from which I have already shown that the population in Austria is more criminal and less educated, so far as numbers, than the population of our own country, which is said to be so much neglected. But if Mr. Kay had happened to write after what took place in the streets of Vienna and Berlin, and in the streets of many of the other towns of Germany, in and after 1848, he might have been led, perhaps, to doubt whether our humbler educational system did not lay down as good a foundation of human duty as that of any foreign country, when he compared what had taken place in those countries with what we have had the happiness to witness in our own. We ought not to overlook this as an element in the consideration of a question like the present. Nor is that all. It is vain to suppose that, amid the various circumstances and trials of human life we shall not, as a nation, fall upon times of ferment; and accordingly we have experienced such times. Our people have also been subjected to the most severe trials and privations. What was their conduct in that state of ferment and under those severe trials? In 1840 and 1841, the masses in the manufacturing districts were exposed to the most dreadful privations and sufferings, and those sufferings and privations were endured with a patience that it was impossible not to admire. In 1842, more prosperous times occurred; and serious disturbances took place. In some districts of the country all authority was relaxed. We do not in this country very much employ bayonets; and even at that period they 2139 were hardly required, for, though there was great effervescence among the people, there was hardly anything more. The people were left at that remarkable period almost entirely to themselves, yet there was an almost total absence of anything like violence to persons or property. There was great irritation among large bodies of the working classes, for they conceived that the mode of dealing with their wages had not been just. It might be said that all authority for a time was at an end, and in a great part of Lancashire and Yorkshire there was a general outbreak. I do not mean to say there was no violence, but it was so trifling as to be truly remarkable. Instead of destroying machinery, they contented themselves with taking the plugs out of the steam boilers, and did the least possible injury, having shown throughout the most singular patience under their sufferings, and a remarkable degree of self-control during the outbreak. Then, take another portion of our people—that which composes our army. We have had a portion of that army exposed to very great sufferings—sufferings of a nature that severely try the human mind, and put to the test the power of self-government and the influence of principle more than any other—that of severe sickness combined with severe privations. Yet all has been borne with patience and resignation, and the only feeling expressed has been anxiety to do their duty. I cannot well understand that a system is very bad which has produced such results. It has been condemned by my right hon. Friend, and it has been condemned by Mr. Kay; but I do not think they have shown evidence to bear out their case, while I think they have put in evidence which thoroughly contradicts their assertions. The relation of school education to crime is a subject of great interest; and it is important to trace the connection, if any there be, between them. Heretofore I am convinced the question has been treated in far too general a manner. While engaged in the consideration of the case attempted to be made in favour of this Bill, I stumbled upon some statistics connected with this particular point, which I trust the House will excuse me for now quoting, as I do so merely for the purpose of bringing them under the consideration of hon. Members interested in this question, in order that it may be studied in all its bearings. It appears that in the county of Lancaster, with a population of 2,031,236, the educational 2140 percentage was 10.6, and in the county of Middlesex, including, of course, a portion of the metropolis, with a population of 3,632,177, the educational percentage was exactly the same. In the former county, however, the average of crime was one in 586 of the population, while in Middlesex it was only one in 913. This is certainly a remarkable discrepancy. On the other hand, while in North Wales, where the education was 9 per cent, there was only one criminal in 1,202 of the whole population, in South Wales, where the educational percentage was 8.6, the average of crime was one in 903. In Hertfordshire, which is a highly educated county—14 per cent of the whole population being educated—the average of crime was high also, being one in 620. [Census Report—Criminal Returns, 1852.] These discrepancies are certainly deserving of the serious consideration of all persons interested in the problem of the connection between crime and education.
Sir, I have been compelled, by the evidence my right hon. Friend has brought forward to endeavour to support the case for a vast national scheme of education, to go so much at length into statistics relating to this and other countries. I regret it. I do not attach very much value to this kind of evidence, but I could not avoid doing as I have done, without leaving an advantage, sure to be used, of asserting that the case could not be met.
Having made these observations, I will now address myself to the provisions of the Bill before the House. My first objection to the Bill is, that, professing to be a permissive Bill, it is not so, and that it will impose new taxes upon the people without their consent. Then I object to the apparent connection between the Bill and the Poor Law machinery. However successful in an economical point of view the Poor Law system of relief may have been, no one will say that it is a popular system with the poor; and I believe that to work this measure with boards constructed like boards of guardians would render it unpopular and distasteful to the poor, and that the larger portion of the poor, who are now contributing of their own means for the purpose of educating their children, will feel that they are branded as paupers—a feeling that cannot but stand in the way of its wholesome operation. My next objection is, that assuming a national school system to be necessary, it is wrong to lay so much of 2141 the burden on the real property of the country. My right hon. Friend might say he did not do so; but I will endeavour to show how far this would be the effect of the Bill. The House is no doubt aware that my right hon. Friend proposes to take the power of taxation upon real property to the amount of 2,000,000l. annually. My right hon. Friend looks astonished, but sixpence in the pound on the real property of the country would produce over 2,000,000l. a year. Then, for every shilling expended from this source, he proposes that an equal amount should be contributed by Government. If 2,000,000l. was to be contributed by Government, it must be raised by means of taxes, and, assuming that it was raised by an income tax, at least one-half would come out of real property; so that here was 3,000,000l. a year to be paid by the real property of the country. We have complained lately that the real property of the country is overtaxed, and endeavours have been made to throw some of the local burdens upon the general revenue of the country; but my right hon. Friend proposes to lay a new burden upon them, of which I can see no end. Then my right hon. Friend takes the power of borrowing 40,000,000l. of money. [Laughter.] The right hon. Baronet laughs, probably because he might not think that sum would be necessary; but still we can only deal with the Bill before the House. I believe the whole annual amount would be wanted. This matter has been gone into by educational authorities; and it will be found that the average cost of the education of 3,000,000 children would not he less than 25s. a head; so that nearly 4,000,000l. would be be expended on these schools. I have no doubt that, in many instances, what is proposed would be utterly inefficient. It would act, as the House will see in a moment, most unequally. For instance, in the rich London parishes, sixpence in the pound would produce more than was wanted; but in country parishes having a small acreage of poor land and a considerable population, sixpence in the pound might be insufficient to provide for education. Thus, in consequence of this anomaly, there might be a great deal more money than was wanted in one place for the purpose contemplated by this Bill, and scarcely any in another. I am obliged to argue this question now as if the assessment were to be parochial, because my right hon. Friend has given notice that he in- 2142 tends to do away with union rating in working this Bill, and I have no hesitation in saying, that what I have just stated would be the effect of this measure in many parishes in the country and in the smaller hamlets separately rated. That my opinion may be somewhat fortified in this matter, I will read a passage from Mr. Horace Mann, quoting Sir John Kay-Shuttleworth, as to expense. This is an important matter, because my right hon. Friend proposes to increase the quality of the education, and that cannot be done without increasing the expense. Mr. H. Mann says—It is not my purpose to form any estimate of the amount of work to be accomplished in order to obtain efficient schools for the 3,015,405 children whom I have supposed to be in a position to attend. Sir John Kay-Shuttleworth computes that to provide an education of the character contemplated by the Minutes of 1846 for 1,836,562 scholars in public schools of religious bodies would require a total annual sum of 2,890,845l. (exclusive of the cost of new school buildings), or an increase on the present annual expenditure of 1,844,265l."So that, if it would cost 2,890,845l. to educate 1,836,562 scholars,—to educate 3,000,000 children, at the same rate, would cost upwards of 4,700,000l.; and I do not presume my right hon. Friend proposes to give education of an inferior quality; and he himself has assumed a larger number of children to be educated than Mr. Horace Mann. This is altogether exclusive of the cost of new school buildings; so that I doubt if the taxing power proposed to be taken will prove sufficient.
Another objection which I entertain to this Bill—and it is an objection to the principle—is, that I altogether object to a rate of the sort proposed. I believe that it will just bring into existence a second—I was going to say curse, but I will not use that term—but a second evil of the same nature as that for which we have all for so many years been trying to find a remedy, namely, the evil of church rates. It will indeed be unfortunate if we should create another such element of vexation and heart-burning in every parish. Indeed, I believe that this proposed burden will give rise to an aggravated feeling of dissatisfaction in consequence of its being a new burden. Many persons will bear a burden long established by usage who will nevertheless resist as unjust one newly put on. I think I can show to the House that the working of this measure in places where there are to be found persons of 2143 different religious persuasions must be to affect the conscience of people at least just as much as the question of church rates does at present; and, if that be the case, the Bill will give rise to the same opposition and heart-burning, and even to more, on account of the newness of the imposition. This is another reason why I object to the principle of the Bill, for what I allude to is not a detail, which could be altered in Committee. I believe, also, that the Bill will be either wholly inoperative—and I am inclined to think that that will be the result—or that it will operate unjustly. We have had some experience to guide us on this subject, and I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baines) is in his place, for he will correct me if I am wrong in what I am about to state. My right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) proposes to constitute throughout the length and breadth of the land bodies analogous to the boards of guardians. Until 1846 we had boards of guardians in existence constituted precisely as these boards of guardians are proposed to be constituted, and they had the charge of the education of a large number of children who were in the workhouses. Now, I would ask, whether, while the guardians had to educate those children, and before the time when the State interfered to pay the expense of their education, the condition of the education in those workhouses was satisfactory. I assert, without fear of contradiction, that it was not. I do not express an opinion whether it is satisfactory now, but I believe that the great reason for giving the grant in 1846 for paying the expense of the workhouse schools was, on account of their unsatisfactory condition, and because the guardians did not provide proper education. If that were so, what security will there be that bodies constituted procisely in the same way will execute the duty imposed on them by this Bill better now than formerly? The number of years is not so great since the change was effected, and I do not fancy that the nature of the people is so very much altered.
I shall now proceed to examine the Bill in reference to its justice. My right hon. Friend has used strong terms in regard to what he thinks the unjust distribution of the public grants under the operation of the Committee of Privy Council; and has observed that, in point of fact, the rich parishes had got all the plums out of the pudding, and the poor parishes had got none. Now, I want to know in what 2144 manner the present Bill proposes to remedy that injustice which my right hon. Friend so strongly, and to a certain extent justly, dwelt on. Let it not be supposed, however, that I consider the Government altogether wrong in the principle on which it has administered those grants. The Government has had, among other things, this point to consider—how to distribute the money in the way to do the greatest amount of good; and under these circumstances it may have been considered that by distributing a very large proportion of the money in aid more good had been done than by giving a large grant to a place where no additional sum could be collected. My right hon. Friend complains of this as being a great injustice. No doubt it is an inequality, but whether under the circumstances it was unjust is a matter with respect to which people might differ in opinion. But how does my right hon. Friend propose to remedy the injustice? My right hon. Friend said that Bethnal Green and other places he had referred to had had no share of the funds which they had been taxed to furnish. Well, my right hon. Friend said to these places, "You have had no grant and you have no school, therefore I will not give you any money, but I will give you liberty to tax yourselves." That seems an odd way of curing the injustice, and I should have thought that the best mode of remedying that wrong would have been to give to the Government larger sums to distribute, in order to assist these poorer places. Now, in establishing schools, under the present Bill, in these poor districts, let the House consider how the measure will work. This is an important feature in reference to the justice of the measure. I think I am not wrong in assuming that in these large and poor districts the population is composed of persons of various religious opinions. Probably the large districts alluded to in this City are inhabited by members of the Church of England, by various Protestant Dissenters, by Roman Catholics, and in some neighbourhoods by Jews also. I do not apprehend that in such districts the Church of England people are likely to be found in a majority. Therefore the question will be referred to the Privy Council as to what kind of school should be set up. I do not envy the Privy Council the pleasure of deciding that question. But let us see how the Bill will work, supposing there is a Church of England majority, for that is a possible contingency. My 2145 right hon. Friend said he was for religious education, and that he has founded his Bill on that principle. Now, I hope that those persons who are about to be carried away by a mere name, will consider how this matter will work in a place where there is a naked majority of the Church of England. In that case the school committee, without any reference to the Privy Council, would establish a Church school, so called. To that school, then, the children of members of the Church of England, of Protestant Dissenters, of Roman Catholics, and of Jews will of right equally resort, though half the population may consist of the latter classes. But, resorting to the school, as my right hon. Friend says that there shall be no violation of conscience, they will consequently get no religious education; and yet this is called a system by which religions education is to be furnished, and this would appear to be the only mode of extending education in such places.
I will now put the case the other way, though I confess I do not know rightly how my right hon. Friend proposes to deal with the case of a district where the members of the Church of England might be in a minority compared with the whole of the remaining population, and where the larger number of that remainder was composed say of Roman Catholics. I take it, however, that under these circumstances it would be the duty of the Privy Council to establish a Roman Catholic school; and then I should like to know how that school, which is to be equally open also for the children of members of the Church of England, of Protestant Dissenters, and of Jews, can be said to afford religious education to all those various parties, who might together form, with their families, a majority of the whole population of the parish. I can understand the secular system of the hon. Member opposite; but when it is said that the present Bill will afford religious education to the people, I must say that it may be done so in name, but in name only. My right hon. Friend proposes in this Bill to bring existing schools into union, upon certain conditions, and one of the conditions is, that no religious instruction to which parents object, should be given in the schools so admitted into union. Yet it is said that this Bill is to provide education, and religious education, to those who cannot now get it. I wish to know how any Roman Catholic or Protestant Dissenter, sending his child to a 2146 Church of England school, in union, can procure there religious instruction for that child? Do you think that any one living in a parish where a school under this Bill is set up, wishing as most persons do a religious education for their children, and being taxed for an establishment from which their children derived no benefit of that sort, will pay the tax with pleasure? I repeat that, in my opinion, this will be just as great a source of heartburning as the church-rate now is. Take the above case of a Roman Catholic school being set up, supported by this common rate, in such a contingency is the feeling of the country such as to lead us to suppose that the rate will be pleasantly paid under such circumstances? I think not; and therefore, while the Bill must fail to give religious instruction, it will at the same time create a cause of great irritation and heartburning in this country. Every one will admit that many of the towns in the kingdom, having 4,000 or 5,000 or more inhabitants, enjoy the benefit at present of two schools, one being a national school for children belonging to the Church of England, the other a school of the British and Foreign Society for the children not belonging to the Church of England. How would the Bill work in such a case? The British school has no distinctive religious teaching, and the Church of England school has, and cannot depart from it, in most cases, without a breach of faith. The Bill proposes, if the Church of England school desire to take the benefit of the rate, to give power to the school committee to send into that school any child, at the wish of the parents, and to compel the authorities of the school to receive the child, and at the same time give to him no religious education. Such a provision would most unjustly place the managers of the school in a painful dilemma. They must either violate their consciences by giving up the principle of the teaching in the Church of England schools, or they must consent to be taxed without deriving any benefit from the impost. That is essentially unjust, and I conceive it to be a principle of this Bill, and I do not see how it can possibly be amended.
Moreover, I believe that it is utterly impossible for rate-supported schools and voluntary schools to coexist. On this point I will read the opinion of Sir John Kay-Shuttleworth, a man most capable of forming a judgment with respect to it (1853)— 2147It would be difficult to conceive that any man of Parliamentary experience could gravely propose that local municipal boards should be invested with power to establish rate-supported schools in every parish, with whatever constitution, to the inevitable destruction of the schools of religious communions.I do not mean to say what that statement is worth; but Sir John Kay-Shuttleworth is considered a great authority on this matter, and as that gentleman has made statements with respect to the expenditure required for a certain object, and with respect to the destruction of the schools of religious communions, it is right and fair to make use of them. In America, also, I have understood that the rate-supported schools have nearly extinguished the private schools. Therefore I conceive that one of the first effects of the Bill will be to knock down all existing schools, by drying up the sources of their income. Let the House consider how this will bear upon the small schools in the rural districts, where from twenty to thirty or forty boys and girls receive instruction. Under a great national system, such as the one proposed, these small schools would be swept away, and the new district schools will probably be so inconveniently situated that the children cannot go to them on account of the distance from their homes. Thus a much larger number of children will be left uneducated than at the present moment. My right hon. Friend has assumed that the Church schools, a great number of which are in connection more or less with religious societies, will accept the terms the Bill offers to go into union. In that respect my right hon. Friend is, no doubt, wholly in error; and so strongly does my right hon. Friend appear to feel this difficulty, that he has thought it necessary to introduce a most extraordinary clause into this Bill, which professes to have for its object to increase religion, and consequently morality, among the people. The clause to which I allude is one providing that persons committing breaches of trust shall not be amenable to the Court of Chancery for such conduct. That shows that the persons who framed the Bill found an obstacle in the way of their plan as to Church schools which they thus desired to remove. They tempt the managers of schools to join them by the offer of a large sum of money, and they say to them that, if their consciences were at all tender and shocked at committing a breach of the solemn engagements under which their schools were founded, they should at all events be re- 2148 lieved from all legal consequences by the effect of the clause I have referred to. I confess that it appears to me a very odd mode of increasing the morality of the people to propose a provision to enable persons to commit with impunity an immoral act. With regard to religious instruction, my right hon. Friend said he would introduce a clause, if the House thought fit, to secure the reading of the Bible; but I cannot relieve myself from the apprehension that the Bill is not framed to secure religious teaching, for it only says on that point that nothing must be taught to which any one objects. The provisions of the Bill are wholly negative. The Bill of my right hon. Friend wholly ignores the existence of the clergy, and in respect to the additional school accommodation which the Bill takes power to give, it does not follow the ordinary divisions of our country, namely, those of parishes; for the word parish was not found in the Bill, except where a parish formed a union itself. The additional schools proposed by the Bill are to be in districts. There is a reason, I fear, for that, not in my right hon. Friend's mind, but in the minds of the framers of the Bill. By taking a district, they sever the connection of the child with the minister of the parish; and no one particular minister of religion would have a superintendence or control in respect to the school. This may be an inadvertence, but I am obliged to deal with the Bill as I find it. I may be told that that could be amended in Committee, but I name it as showing how the Bill was expected to be worked. My right hon. Friend does not appear, in considering this subject, to have adverted sufficiently to a very important point—the power of extending evening schools. It is proposed only to aid evening schools if there shall be a surplus revenue; so, at least, I understand the Bill. In the rural districts, the system of evening schools has secured the best results. In the agricultural districts, the children who go to work in the daytime have, during the long dark nights of winter, every opportunity afforded them of obtaining instruction in the evening schools. I know from my own experience that the young lads anxiously avail themselves of the advantage of these schools, and the parents express their gratitude for the means thus afforded for the instruction of their children. Thus the danger of the children wholly forgetting the instruction they have previ- 2149 ously acquired—and this is a great evil to be guarded against—is to a considerable extent obviated. That I believe to be one of the most effectual means, with our Sunday schools, of meeting this difficulty.
My right hon. Friend has touched incidentally upon the subject of training masters, and here I agree with him that we have probably fallen into the error of attempting to train our masters too highly all at once. That has been a capital mistake, in consequence of which the large sums spent on their education have not been so beneficial as they might have been. I do not despair of attaining ultimately a high pitch of training and teaching, but I am afraid that, hitherto, we have attempted to get at it by too sudden a jump. In dealing with this subject, it must not be forgotten that the children to be educated are, generally speaking, the offspring of parents who have had little, if any, education, and it would be a dangerous experiment to attempt suddenly to raise children to a great elevation above their parents in this respect. If this were done by means of young men highly educated, who would not attempt to get at the hearts of their scholars, but whose main object would be to impart secular knowledge, without at the same time securing that sound religious basis which is to give the scholars their future springs of action, there would be great risk of the children being brought to look down upon their parents, and the result of such a state of things upon the morals and conduct of the nation would be far too disastrous to be compensated by the attainment of a little higher quality of school learning. This point is deserving of the most serious consideration. At present, I am informed that some of the highly trained schoolmasters who have been sent into the agricultural districts, complain that, owing to the early age at which their scholars are taken from them, they have no opportunity of bringing into play those branches of learning which they themselves have acquired at the cost of so much time and labour,—in fact, that they are actually rusting for want of employment. Thus they become dissatisfied, and dissatisfied people never can get that hold of the minds and hearts of the children they have to instruct, by which alone a schoolmaster can expect to secure a successful and lasting result to his labours. I am not altogether without hope that, considering the 2150 progress we have made and are now making, we may soon overtake and completely satisfy the educational requirements of the age. I hope, too, that the greater number of training schools now established throughout the country will imperceptibly improve the quality of the education. [Mr. CAYLEY reminded the right hon. Gentleman that he had not fulfilled his promise of commenting on the compulsory character of the Bill.] I am glad my hon. Friend has reminded me of my omission. The Bill, as I understand it, is to be worked by union machinery, each parish electing a guardian. I shall not be far wrong in saying, that there would be, on an average, from twenty to forty guardians in each union, besides a number of official guardians, not spread over the whole union, but coming all, perhaps, from one particular locality. Now, these guardians are not to tax themselves as a body, but each particular parish in the union, where they shall think education deficient; and thus any parish may have the Bill forced upon it by the board, having itself only an infinitesimal voice—the fortieth part of the whole—in the matter. It is in this way that I think the Bill may be described as being compulsory.
Before I conclude, I will, with the permission of the House, read a passage from a Report on Workhouse Schools, by Mr. Browne, which entirely expresses my opinion on the question of education:—In the education, necessarily elementary, of those who have to earn their bread by the labour of their hands, there is some danger that the moral training may give place to the merely useful, that more attention may be paid to that kind of knowledge which is directly convertible into money than to that which fits the individual to do his duty as a man in the future struggle, and, as we hope, the victory of life.I believe the Bill of my right hon. Friend to be dangerous in this particular respect. I implore the House to consider what they are now asked to do. In the matter of education, of course, it is impossible to know the effect of a particular measure until eight, ten, twelve, or even fourteen or more years after; and a false step, therefore, must be of very serious importance. Persons of my age cannot expect to see much of the results of any new experiment, but those who come after may find, from the results, to their dismay, that, instead of having had an educational system based on sound religious principles,—such as that which has raised the character of the people of this country so high, 2151 we have delivered to them a system which, like that of America, though intended to be religious, has become secular. I beg the House seriously to reflect before incurring such a risk. I beg them seriously to reflect before giving their sanction to any system not based on sound religious teaching, and which does not by that means inculcate the great truth, that all our powers, all our energies, and all our talents are given us to be used for the benefit of our fellow-creatures, and to enable us to perform faithfully those duties which God has imposed on us. Such an education is more likely than any other to promote secular knowledge among the people, because it would teach the child the duty founded on the highest obligation to make use of every opportunity of exercising every faculty and improving every talent entrusted to him, and for which he would have to render an account. But if, on the contrary, secular teaching should be made the first or only object of education, or we should be unwise enough to adopt a system, religious in name alone, but sure ere long to become purely secular, we should be venturing on an experiment which has failed wherever it has been tried, and we should be going contrary to the direct command of God, who has pointed out to us in the clearest manner, from Genesis to Revelation, that "Life is not to be obtained through the tree of knowledge."
§ MR. ROBERT PHILLIMORE
said, he rose to second the Amendment of his right hon. Friend who had just sat down. But that, after the admirable and elaborate speech which the House had just heard, he should content himself with a very few observations. He gave the right hon. Member for Droitwich the fullest credit for having been actuated by the purest and highest motives in bringing forward this measure. It appeared, however, to him that the measure before the House was fraught with all the evils so eloquently described by his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), and he could not see how the doctrine of the Church and the teaching of her schools was to be separated, or how the religious education was to be kept apart from the secular. The experiment had been tried in America, and had failed signally, and he trusted that warning would be taken from the result of that experiment. Now in America there was no national Church, but this measure proposed to dethrone the Church of England from her office of teacher of this nation. He 2152 objected also to the whole machinery of this Bill. He objected also to the mode in which the Bill proposed to select the persons who were to discharge the office of instructors. It appeared to him that the Bill provided no other qualification for the choosers of schoolmasters than that of their being ratepayers. There was no function more sacred or more important, and it was not to be disposed of in the same way that a guardian or a constable was chosen. He must also object to the mode in which the election was to be conducted by means of a poll, with an appeal to the Privy Council on certain disputed points. He was one who would promote really sound education to the utmost of his power, but he must take the liberty of opposing the modes now proposed, for he was satisfied that they would not promote either good secular or sound religious education, but a result somewhere described by Lord Burleigh in one of his letters as a "mingle-mangle." It would almost infallibly generate a scepticism on religious matters, which he was sure the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) would be the first to oppose and to condemn. Let the House remember the opinion of an authority second perhaps to none upon questions of this description, of one of the greatest luminaries of his age and country, Lord Bacon. In his masterpiece, On the Advancement of Learning he had quoted the saying—Ingenuas didicesse fidelitor artes Emollit mores nec sinit, esse feros.But he immediately added this pregnant warning "mind you lay the accent on fideliter." He (Mr. Phillimore) opposed this Bill because it did not lay the accent on fideliter. It pretended, indeed, to unite religious and secular teaching, but the union was a wretched concubinage, not an honest marriage, and the offspring would be spurious.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
said, it was with great diffidence that he ventured to express an objection to the able and argumentative speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley). He regretted that his right hon. Friend had thought it necessary to set himself so decidedly in opposition to the principle of 2153 the Bill, more especially as he believed that the deductions which his right hon. Friend had drawn were essentially fallacious. No power on earth could have induced him to support the Bill had he not been of opinion that it was based on a religious principle. It was certainly to be lamented that a private Member should have to undertake the responsibility of bringing in a Bill of this description, but it had been forced upon his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) by the delay of the Government, and that some Bill on the subject was asked for by public opinion was pretty evident, he thought, from the fact that the House had now three Bills—the Government, the Opposition, and the secular Bills—before them. Notwithstanding the great accession made to the educational means of the country by the denominational system, the question to be considered was whether the present means of education furnished by voluntary efforts were sufficient for the educational requirements of the country? If they were, the necessity for any Bill on the subject was entirely done away with; but if they were not, then that House was bound seriously to consider in what manner the additional facilities required could be supplied without trenching on existing schools. This was exactly the principle on which the Bill of his right hon. Friend proceeded. On looking at the state of education in different parts of the country, and on comparing it with the state of education abroad, no one could doubt, he thought, for a moment that something was required to promote the extension of education among our own people, and that the whole subject was deserving of the serious consideration of the House. To begin with foreign countries—in Prussia, Saxony, Switzerland, Baden, Wurtemberg, and Denmark one in six of the population were under education; in Sweden and Norway, in three provinces of Holland, and five departments of France, one in six and a half were under education; in Bavaria, one in seven, in Austria, one in nine, and, in Belgium, one in ten. In most of the northern states of the United States the proportion was one in six, in the rest, one in seven; while, with regard to the southern states, it was one in eight in Maryland, one in eight and a half in Virginia, one in nine in Delaware, and one in ten in North Carolina. Coming home to our own country, it would be found that the want of educational facilities was not so great in the agricultural as in the 2154 manufacturing districts. In what was called the York district the proportion of the population under education was one in six and a half, while in the manufacturing district it was one in eleven and a half. In ten of our largest manufacturing towns, containing a population of 913,217 persons, the proportion was one in eleven and three-quarters, while in ten other smaller towns, it was one in 6.95. How, then, was the existing deficiency to be supplied? There were two modes of doing this—the one by an education rate, and the other by a rate combined with grants from the Privy Council; and this Bill adopted, and wisely so, he considered, the latter alternative. With respect to the deficiency of education, he would refer to the evidence of the Inspectors of Schools, particularly as regarded the western districts. Mr. Kennedy reported—It is almost impossible to speak too strongly of the insufficiency of the majority of those schools. The school-rooms themselves are, for the most part, tolerably good, though possibly larger than is necessary for the daily scholars. But, generally speaking, the teachers, books, apparatus, and income of the school—the root of all the evil—is very insufficient.Mr. Tinling, inspector of schools in Dorsetshire, Somersetshire, Devonshire, and Cornwall, stated—An acquaintance by personal inspection with the smaller schools convinces me that some additional public assistance is required to raise in them the standard of education, if the teaching of the great mass of the population is ever to be effected.Having always supported a system of education based on religion, he felt that the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire had been rather unjust toward those who had always supported such a system, when he said that if they adopted this Bill they must look to see secular schools established in which there would be no religious teaching. Again, what was the evidence adduced before the Committee on Education in Manchester and Salford? It was decisive as to the necessity of providing some other funds besides those obtained by voluntary subscription for educational purposes. The different religious bodies in Manchester appeared to be in the habit of making fitful and spasmodic efforts in the work of education, exerting themselves actively when any Government scheme inconsistent with their own views was mooted, but afterwards relapsing into comparative apathy when the measure they apprehended was abandoned. The Dean of Manchester 2155 in his evidence stated that the falling off in the subscriptions and donations to the Manchester Education Society was as follows:—
The number of schools assisted was forty-five out of ninety-seven, and how, he would ask, was it posible to afford any adequate assistance to forty-five schools with only an income of 210l. The Rev. Mr. M'Kerrow stated that he considered the voluntary system to be inadequate to meet the educational necessities of the community, and that the efforts made by voluntaryism in Manchester and Salford had in a great measure been abortive. He further gave the following evidence—
The two societies connected with this part are the Congregational Board of Education and the Voluntary School Association. It seems to be necessary to have every now and then some party agitation, or kind of public excitement, like that produced by the Factory Bill, or the minutes in Council, to stimulate voluntaryism into some kind of spasmodic action. The Congregational Board of Education, at its annual meeting in May, 1846, reported that the sums ascertained to have been actually paid or pledged, and in the course of payment, by Congregationalists, towards day schools since 1843, amounted to 109,286l., or above 25,000l. a year. But small indeed have been the sums contributed since the excitement to opposition to Government measures has passed away, and I very much fear that, if the prospect of the introduction of a national measure of education, demanded so extensively by the people, were to be removed, the voluntary effort which has again been somewhat stimulated would be still further diminished. From the balance sheet of the Congregational Board of Education, presented on the 10th of May, 1850, we learn that the gross receipts of the Board for the year preceding amounted to 1734l. 14s. 10d., and its disbursements to 1411l. 15s. 7d."
The Congregationalist body in Manchester made similarly fluctuating and inadequate efforts to promote education, and one of the witnesses stated that it was necessary periodically to get up the excitement of opposition to some threatened State educational measure in order to stimulate voluntary subscriptions among them. The Rev. John Kershaw, a Roman Catholic clergyman in Manchester, also stated that the voluntary system had hitherto proved inadequate for the education of the poor children of his denomination, who were often left to grow
up in ignorance; and that gentleman estimated the number in Manchester that required instruction at 18,000, though at the present time there was only school accommodation for 4,000. Such was the evidence adduced before the Manchester and Salford Committee by witnesses belonging to different denominations with respect to the voluntary system, and however much the Members of that Committee differed, and they did differ with respect to the means of education which ought to be employed, every one of them, he believed, with the single exception of Mr. Peto, left the Committee room with the conviction that voluntary efforts had proved inefficient, and that it was necessary to come upon Government with a call for further funds for the promotion of education throughout England. The great cry of all the inspectors, and the burden of all the evidence taken, agreed in saying that the great deficiency was in the funds, and that the voluntary system had failed in supplying that deficiency. He would ask hon. Members whether the denominational bodies in the poorer districts, having prepared and got ready their schools, would not be willing to put them under the Bill of the right hon. Baronet, and the consequence would be that they would each have their own denominational teaching with perfect liberty of conscience; that was to say, if any father, mother, or guardian objected to the doctrines taught in any school, their children would have a right to be absent during the time of that teaching. Without that liberty he felt convinced that they could never form a system of national education which would meet with the concurrence of the people of England. The Bill proposed to make the Bible the essential basis of the education given in the schools, and, with that as the foundation of all their teaching in morals and religion, no doubt the existing machinery would be gradually brought within the scope of the measure; and the House might therefore safely dismiss all those fears about its necessarily leading to an unmixed secular system which the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire had conjured up. That right hon. Gentleman took the total number of children now at school, and, adding 970,000 more, to get one-sixth of the whole population, he made an aggregate of 3,000,000 scholars, whose education, he said, would impose a charge of 3,000,000l. per annum on the real property of the country. Now, if no private
individual would henceforward subscribe a farthing towards the cause of education, and if the National Society, and all the other religious bodies, immediately retired from the field on the passing of this Bill, the right hon. Gentleman's apprehensions and calculations might be well-founded; but it was clear that the Church societies would not suspend their labours; they would still desire to have a school in every parish, and the clergy, who in the poorer districts were now often called upon to contribute more than their means would allow, would gladly hail the assistance they would receive under this Bill, whether in the shape of a rate or a grant. The right hon. Gentleman's notion, that the Bill would entail an annual burden of 3,000,000l. on real property, was therefore a mere fantasy. Allusion had been made to the reading of the Bible in the public schools of the United States of America, but it should be borne in mind that the United States' schools were not, and never had been, denominational, whereas ours always had possessed that character. In America, the Bible was used in schools sometimes to inculcate doctrines, sometimes to teach morals, and at other times merely for reading lessons, or for its sacred history and geography; but in this country the circumstance that the schools were denominational afforded a guarantee that the education they gave would be religious. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire talked of a debtor and creditor account in relation to this question, but did he forget that crime cost the country 2,000,000l. annually, and pauperism another 5,000,000l., or that the result of a better system of education, in checking both of those evils and reducing their expense, must form a very considerable "set off" against the debit side of the account? The religious difficulty incident to all such legislation was, no doubt, great, but it ought to be fairly grappled with; and the country was now ripe for the settlement of this question. There were, at the present time, three Bills before the House relating to it, and it was to be hoped they would all be read a second time and referred to a Committee up-stairs, in order that by some possible amalgamation of their most useful provisions a comprehensive measure might be framed that was likely to become law. In conclusion, he begged to repeat what he had formerly stated, that he never could support any system of national education that was not founded on a religious
basis; and such he believed also to be the strong feeling of the country.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, he believed that if a general system of education could be devised, which was not based upon sectarian principles, it would tend very much to improve the condition of the people. He believed that the great majority of the moneyed classes in that part of the country with which he was connected (South Wales) belonged to the Church of England, and supported the Church schools; but the education given in those schools was not acceptable to the population generally. He could not vote in favour of this Bill, because in his district it would have the effect of converting all those parishes where religious parties were nearly balanced into arenas of political strife; while, on the other hand, it would leave large numbers of children, whether connected with the Church or with the Dissenters, without any education whatever. Indeed, this was to a great extent the case in South Wales at present, not from any indifference to the cause of education on the part of the population, but solely on account of their religious distinctions.
§ MR. BYNG
said, he should support the Bill in no spirit of opposition to the masterly argument of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire, but because he entertained a sincere conviction that it would go far towards promoting the cause of education. It was based upon the principle of imposing local taxation for local educational purposes, and since it placed the management of the schools in the hands of the ratepayers and the local authorities, it also recognised the salutary principle of local self-government. He would candidly admit, that the progress of education owed much to voluntary efforts; but while he granted that any compulsory system in England would be at once dangerous and hostile to the feelings of the great body of the community, he yet could not concede that State interference in the matter of education was either impolitic or uncalled for. The State made laws for punishing crime, and surely it was not beyond its province to vote money for preventing it. The State was bound to govern the people, and it should also be bound to educate them as far as it could. Let him take that opportunity of saying one word as to the nature of the education provided by this Bill. With regard, then, to the secular portion of it, he did not think any exception could be taken to it, 2159 while he thought the clause which rendered it optional for a child to attend the religious teachings of the schools had been framed in a liberal and enlightened spirit. He should rejoice much if a system could be devised so as to unite all religious denominations, and at the same time combine religious with secular education; but, in the absence of such a scheme, it would not only be a waste of time, but excluding very many children from the benefit of secular education, to attempt to enforce any one particular creed. Besides, he could not help feeling that a parent who allowed his child to be educated in secular matters would not be unmindful of the advantages of religious instruction, and therefore, although it might not be obtained in the schools, it would be sought for elsewhere. The clause, then, to which he was more especially adverting, could be safely adopted without in any way proving detrimental to religion; and he should vote for it all the more readily because it recognised the great, the generous principle, of freedom of conscience in religious matters. He could have wished, however, that the Bill had gone a step further, and provided some means of education for adults, for it was just possible that the instruction obtained in early life might be forgotten as the child grew up into manhood; but perhaps the present was not the proper time for discussing that point, and he would not pursue it further. With the exception of some of the details, which he should object to in Committee, he generally approved of the scope and tendency of the Bill, which he believed would prove to be the first important step towards supplying those wants and omissions which were daily becoming more recognised in our system of public education.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, that as there were several Ministers unavoidably absent, who he knew were anxious to give their opinions upon the Bill, he should move that the debate be now adjourned.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that, in the necessary absence of Her Majesty's Ministers at a Cabinet Council, he quite concurred in the opinion that it was advisable the debate should be adjourned. He was anxious, however—considering the deep interest which had been manifested with reference to the settlement of the great question of national education both by that House and the country—that the discussion in which they were engaged should not be adjourned to a more distant 2160 day than was absolutely necessary. It was extremely difficult for an independent Member to fix any day for resuming the discussion, but the course which he thought it would be most convenient to adopt was to adjourn the debate until to-morrow; meantime he might be enabled to make such arrangements with the Government as would place it in his power to name an early day for proceeding with the discussion. He must also be permitted to observe, that, while he was perfectly ready to admit the fairness of the tone and spirit of the very able speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), and that it was to him most painful to differ from his right hon. Friend upon any question of great national interest, he should be prepared, when the debate was resumed, to make to the objections which had been urged by his right hon. Friend against the Bill, what he believed would be a satisfactory and conclusive reply.
said, that, his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies had remained in the House during a considerable part of the debate, and that, having come to the conclusion that it could not terminate before six o'clock, he had had less hesitation in absenting himself than would otherwise have been the case. To-morrow arrangements might be made for fixing a day for the renewal of the discussion.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.