§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to be made to Question [10th May], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," and which Amendment was to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it be an Instruction to the Committee to divide the Bill into two Bills."
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."791
THE EARL OF DALKEITH
said, he should support the Amendment, for the Bill was strongly objected to by the landed proprietors of Scotland, chiefly on the ground that it would destroy a system which had proved itself highly beneficial during a period of centuries. He opposed the measure, not from any party or political motives, but because he was convinced that it would not be for the advantage of the country, and that it would not promote the cause of education so much as its friends believed it would. The landed proprietors of Scotland were not opposed to education, but on the contrary would give their best support to any scheme that would in a proper way effect that object. They objected, however, to the overthrow of the present well-tried system, and they were opposed to a plan which excluded religious teaching from the schools. He thought that the present was a good system, though he considered that it might be rendered more efficient; but if they separated these schools from the Church, it could not be expected that the ministers of religion would give up their time, and pay the same attention as heretofore to the course of instruction. He thought that if the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate were disposed to make some concessions, he would find hon. Members, now opposed to this Bill, ready to go hand and hand with him in his endeavours to extend the system of education.
§ MR. COWAN
said, that the objection to this Bill was based upon religious grounds; but the school system which at present existed in the large towns of Scotland, and which it was proposed to extend to the rural districts, did not reject the elements of religious instruction. He thought Scotch Members had most reason to lament the effects of the present system in the rural districts of Scotland. He wished the system of education pursued throughout the country was as efficient as it was in the city which he had the honour to represent. Some hon. Gentleman had alluded to the way in which the educational system now in Scotland worked in the rural districts, and spoke in high terms of its success. He would make a proposal to those hon. Gentlemen. He believed the noble Lord at the head of the Government was about to give them a week's holiday. Now he (Mr. Cowan) for one, had no objection to spend that week (if some of those hon. Gentlemen who thought 792 so highly of the present system would join him) to go into a Select Committee, with fourteen others, and examine into and report upon the actual position of the educational system in the rural parts of Scotland. He fully admitted the importance of having some guarantee for the religious and moral character of school teachers; but he doubted very much whether the test now in operation in Scotland afforded that test. A Return made twenty years ago showed that out of sixty-five schoolmasters who had been deprived of their office, the great proportion of their deprivations were made in consequence of habitual drunkenness or gross immorality, and he was very much afraid matters in that respect had mended but little in modern times. How, then, could it be said that the existing test was sufficiently effective or the best calculated to accomplish the purpose for which it was intended. He was anxious to see a searching system of inspection established over the schools of Scotland, which should not only ensure learning in the teacher, and ability to impart that learning to others, but also some guarantee for his moral and religious character. That system of inspection, he believed, would be created by this Bill. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for Elginshire (Mr. C. Bruce) in the vast benefits which had been conferred, on that part of Scotland with which the hon. Gentleman was connected, by the Dick bequest, and it showed in the strongest light the good which might be effected throughout the country by a similar general system of inspection, carried out under the auspices of the Government. He believed that such a system would give a great stimulus to education. In 1847, the teachers who obtained those certificates in connection with the Established Church numbered thirty-one—in the Free Church, 182. The number of female teachers in. connection with the Established Church who obtained these certificates was thirty-five, while the number in the Free Church was eighty-four. There was nearly a similar proportion in the year which had last closed, but he would not trouble the House with details. When it was remembered that the Free Church had reared more than 500 schools, he thought hon. Members would agree that justice should be done. Instead of wishing to divide parties, he and those with whom he acted desired to bind up all parties and to heal all the differences that existed. He thought 793 there was nothing that might be more safely left to the decision of the people of Scotland than this question of education. He believed that this measure was likely to raise the status of the great mass of the people of Scotland, and he trusted that during its discussion such a spirit of conciliation and concession would be manifested; as would render it a blessing to the country.
§ SIR GRAHAM MONTGOMERY
said, he wished to explain the grounds upon which he was opposed to this Bill. The professed object of the Bill was to take advantage of the great preponderance of Presbyterianism in Scotland, to establish an extended system of national, religious, and unsectarian education. Considering, however, that there was in Scotland already a very perfect system, so far as it went, before assenting to subvert the present parochial schools, and to accept of this new scheme, they should be satisfied that the measure before the House was what it professed to be, and would effect what it proposed to do. No doubt the withdrawal, in the Bill of this year, of the denominational clause gave the measure a greater claim to be considered a national system—at least its principle was more intelligible—though at the same time it was imperfect in its comprehensiveness, as regarded the non-Presbyterian portion of the community. He could not see how Episcopalians and Roman Catholics, who would be taxed as well as their Presbyterian neighbours by this Bill, were to be convinced of its unsectarian and universal character. Then, as to whether the Bill was a religious Bill or not, the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, with a view, it appeared to him, of propitiating that portion of the Presbyterian body who held voluntary principles, and were opposed to all application of the revenues of the State for providing religious instruction, left that question in the same state of uncertainty and ambiguity as last year. If his system was to be Presbyterian, why did he not acknowledge the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Shorter Catechism, and the Holy Scriptures, to be the foundation of the religious instruction to be given in the schools, and make subscription to these standards of Presbyterianism an ostensible guarantee for the religious character of the teacher? Instead of doing this, however, the right hon. and learned Lord contented himself with placing in the preamble of his Bill, an abstract assertion, that the religious instruction 794 hitherto in use in the parochial and other schools of Scotland was consonant to the opinions and the religious profession of the great body of the people. But, supposing this to be a sufficiently accurate indication of the nature of the religious instruction to be given, until some trial was made of the working of the machinery of a Board of Education and the proposed school committees, on this very point of religious instruction—and for such a trial there was a wide and unoccupied field in the towns and other populous districts of Scotland—he was not prepared to give up the security at present afforded by the superintendence of the Established Church for the maintenance not only of Presbyterian teaching itself, but also of the religious character of the teachers of those schools. Was it, he would ask, politic, therefore, for the sake of so imperfect and unsatisfactory a measure to destroy a system which had worked satisfactorily for nearly 300 years, and to which a charge of sectarian teaching could not with fairness be imputed? There were some provisions in the Bill, such as those for increasing the salaries of the schoolmasters, facilitating their removal when proved to be incompetent, and the appointment of Government inspectors, which must meet every one's approval; but that, he considered, was not the fitting occasion for entering upon those details, The mode in which the question of religious instruction was dealt with, the want of adequate security for the religious character of the teacher, and the proposed severance of the connection at present subsisting between the Established Church and the parish shools, were sufficient of themselves to induce him to oppose the measure, and he, for one, could be no party to the overthrow of institutions which had done so much for the cause of education in Scotland, and to the value of which the heritors of Scotland last year so readily bore their testimony. Believing the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Elgin (Mr. C. Bruce) to divide this measure into two parts, quite as well calculated to provide for that extension and improvement of education in Scotland, which was the avowed object of this Bill, he should support his Amendment.
§ MR. MACKIE
said, he was of opinion that this Bill should be divided into two parts, by which means power could be given to assess houses in towns for educational purposes, in the same manner as property in the rural districts. He certain- 795 ly was astonished at the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate bringing forward a measure which would make a direct breach in the security which was now existing. If a candidate for the position of schoolmaster objected to any particular Confession of Faith, he would not object to having the test altered; but it was most essential that the persons who were employed to educate the youth of Scotland should declare themselves to be Christians. He had been much astonished to hear it stated that the majority of the people of Scotland were in favour of the Bill. Why, there had been no less than 28,000 persons who petitioned against the Bill, and 17,000 had petitioned for alterations in it, and only about 1,800 or 1,900 persons had petitioned in favour of it. As regarded what had been said about the immorality of the teachers, and the number that had been dismissed, he considered that that very circumstance afforded a strong proof of the careful supervision of the Presbyteries, and was a strong argument against separating the schools from the Established Church.
said, it was quite clear that the object of the hon. Member for Elginshire, in proposing to divide the Bill into two parts, was to defeat it.
§ MR. CUMMING BRUCE
said, he must beg to explain that his intention was to preserve the existing system in parochial schools in one Bill, and in the other to facilitate the formation of additional schools on a principle more adapted to the peculiar circumstances of the towns and rural districts.
said, he was glad to have the admission of the hon. Gentleman that some change was necessary, but could not understand how, after that admission, he should have taken such a prominent part in opposing the second reading of the Bill. An attempt was made to draw a line of distinction between education in towns and education in the rural districts. Now, he trusted his right hon. and learned Friend who had introduced the measure would not consent to any such separation, but would make the Bill a general one. It was said the people of Scotland were generally well educated. But that was by no means the case. In the last Report of the inspectors of prisons in Scotland, published in the present year, he found that, in the much-praised county of Elgin, the number of male prisoners who could not read was thirty, and of females thirteen. There were seventy-five 796 male and twenty-five female prisoners who could read with difficulty; thirty-two persons who could merely sign their names, and fifty-two who could write with difficulty. The total number of prisoners in Scotland was 21,238, of whom 4,474 could not read, and 11,328 could read only imperfectly and 9,259 who could not write. The Rev. Mr. Brown, the chaplain of the prison at Perth, stated that prisoners in general evince lamentable ignorance and apathy on the subject of religion, and that the chief cause of their ignorance is the want of parental example and Christian training. The state of education could not be satisfactory when such Reports were laid on the table of that House. Now, with respect to the proposed Board. The object of introducing a Board was to counteract party feeling and influence; and he believed it would effectually prevent the exclusive predominance of any one religious sect whatever. It was well known that mere secular education would be unpalatable to the people of Scotland, and religious teaching was the actual occasion of the introduction of the present Bill. It would be impossible, at the present day, to allow the clergy of the Established Church the whole care of the religious education of the people of Scotland, when one-half, if not two-thirds, of the people were opposed to it. It certainly was not the duty of the schoolmaster to make proselytes. It was his duty to teach the children to read, so that when they arrived at years of discretion they might form such opinions as would ultimately lead to their salvation. He cordially approved of the 15th clause of the Bill, to which such strong objections have been made. That clause proved that it should not be necessary for the parochial schoolmaster to subscribe to any test, confession of faith, or formulary. That was one of the most valuable provisions ever introduced into any measure, and he trusted it would be retained. They all knew that all the Free Church Presbyterians insisted on the right of the people to elect their own pastors. They knew also that in the year 1690 that question had been settled by a compromise by which the patronage was taken from the patrons and transferred to the people. When, in 1707, the Act of Union was passed, the Act of 1690 was still enforced, and patronage had at that time been abolished; but, unfortunately, an Act was passed in 1712, which again restored the patronage to the original patrons, 797 and had been since the source of incalculable mischief to the Church; for that Act gave rise to the secession from the Scotch Church in 1730, to the establishment of the Relief Synod of 1753, and to the last great secession of the Free Church in 1843. When they talked of establishing a Church, they must recollect that the whole nation of Scotland, almost, were Presbyterians; that they were all ready to subscribe the Westminster confession of faith, and that they differed only on doctrinal matters of minor importance. But, notwithstanding that, as many as sixty unfortunate schoolmasters and upwards were deprived of their office, because they insisted on the original confession of faith which John Knox had subscribed, and were opposed to a system of patronage. Was it worth while to keep up a test in the rural districts, and by such means to impede the progress of education? Many of the burghs had done much to promote the cause of education. In Dundee, public seminaries had been established, in which no religious test was required. There were eight teachers, five of whom belonged to the Established Church, two to the Free Church, and one to the Episcopalian Church, and all these gentlemen worked harmoniously together. His right hon. and Learned Friend had been most careful to provide for the religious instruction of the people. It was not conceivable that the ratepayers, the inspectors, and the Board of Education should concur in appointing as a teacher a man who was not of known religious habits. He thanked God that he lived in a country in which it was impossible that such a case could occur. He did not believe that there was a more religious people in the world than the people of Scotland; and it was his opinion that, if any man, whose opinions on religious subjects were open to objection, should offer himself as a schoolmaster, he would be scouted by the whole district. One great feature of the measure of his right hon. and learned Friend was, that it would bring children of all denominations together. Another feature was, that it would tend to do away with many of those rival schools in thinly populated districts where only one was required; and another was, that it would, as far as possible, leave the rural schools upon their present footing. The measure of his right hon. and learned Friend would give no predominance to any religious sect in Scotland. Whilst, on the 798 one hand, it would interfere as little as possible with the rural schools, on the other, it would confer that boon of national education upon the towns of which they had so long been deprived. He had now merely to thank the House for the attention with which it had listened to him.
§ SIR ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL
said, he questioned the accuracy of the noble Lord's statement, that sixty of the parochial masters had been ousted from their livings at the secession of 1843, for he believed that the number was only twenty-eight. The question for the consideration of the House was, not whether they should sanction the system of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, but whether the present system should be abolished, in order that his plan might be adopted in the parish schools; and therefore the supporters of the Bill were bound to prove that the present system was faulty. He did not understand how the parochial system could be accused of being the cause of the large consumption of ardent spirits in Scotland. In his opinion, the question whether the schoolmaster should be of the Established Church or not, taken in connection with this Bill, was one of secondary importance, for the object they had in view was the efficient education of the people; and unless it could be shown that the kind of education given by the schoolmasters of one denomination was inferior to that given by those of another, he saw little objection to them on that ground. He believed, too, that that was the view taken by the people of Scotland, who would naturally be desirous to send their children to the best school. By the Bill of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) the denomination of the school was to be settled by the Committee of Council, and the schoolmaster would be appointed accordingly; but by the right hon. and learned Lord's measure the selection of the schoolmaster would be vested in the ratepayers, who, to avoid creating sectarian dissension, might select men of no particular denomination. They would have to recur to general Christianity, which very often meant no Christianity at all. He drew a broad distinction between the two Bills on Scotch education now before the House. One was a constructive, and the other, the right hon. and learned Lord's, a destructive measure, and one which would destroy that system which had tended to make the middle classes of Scotland more intelligent than those of 799 almost any other country. He wished, in conclusion, to inquire what was the intention of the right hon. and learned Lord with regard to the denominational schools.
§ MR. POLLARD-URQUHART
said, he quite agreed with the last speaker as to the excellent results which had flowed from the old system of Scottish education; but what had been the reason why that system had produced such desirable effects? It was because it had been connected with the Church of the people of Scotland, to whom it was endeared by tradition and by old associations. But when that Church had ceased to be connected with the people, as it formerly was, it could not be expected that the same results would follow from it. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate proposed to adapt the system to the altered feelings of the Scotch people, and he (Mr. Urquhart) could only say he had received many communications from Scotland in favour of the measure. Sheriff Watson, of Aberdeen, whose infant schools had attracted so much praise, regarded the Bill of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate as a great step in advance, and, on the contrary, greatly disapproved the Bill of the hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling). Another gentleman, a Conservative, expressed his approval of the Bill now that the objectionable power of summary dismissal of schoolmasters without hearing was removed. He (Mr. Urquhart) should only call the attention of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate to the 17th clause, which might require some alteration; but, as a whole, the measure would have his support.
§ MR. SMOLLETT
said, he must complain of the motives imputed to the opponents of the Bill by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate and his supporters. They had represented them as indifferent to education, and only desirous to uphold the Church of Scotland. He was not averse to such parts of the Bill as would extend education, but he objected to other parts of it which took away the securities for the religious character of the teachers and the taught. It was on this ground that he objected to the Bill, and the Committee of the Free Church of Scotland had declared this to be a vital question—the religious element of the existing system of education being all important. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, last Session, admitted that securities for religious instruction were important and requisite, and stated that he intended to 800 introduce into the Educational Board professors of divinity, and to take care that there should be at least six ecclesiastics on the Board. But, in the present Bill, no such securities were provided. Neither in the composition of the Board nor otherwise were such securities taken, nor was it provided that religious instruction should pervade the whole character of the education afforded. If the Bill were amended in this respect he should not object to it on the third reading; but, meanwhile, he must vote against it.
§ MR. BOWYER
said he wished to say a few words with regard to the operation of this Bill, as it would affect Roman Catholics and others who were not members of the Established Church of Scotland. The only difference between this and the former Bill was the omission of the denominational clause. It was difficult to understand the principle or the logic with which the people of Scotland regarded that clause. He understood the objection to it to be, that the people of Scotland, condemning that system of religion which they believed to be false were willing only to contribute to that religion which they believed to be true. But they did not see that the very same objection might be urged by Catholics, Episcopalians, and Dissenters against the very principle of this Bill? Having regard to the prejudices of the people of Scotland, no Government would appoint a Roman Catholic on the Board of Education; and he did not think Roman Catholics or Episcopalians, or anybody who dissented from Presbyterianism, could look with any hope to that portion of clause one which gave Her Majesty power to appoint five members of the Board. The system of government under this Bill would be very strongly and decidedly Presbyterian. The schoolmasters, with whom would rest the duty of affording religious instruction, would all be Presbyterians; and, although by the 27th clause the children would not be bound to attend if their parents or guardians objected, Roman Catholics could not admit that it was possible to separate secular and religious instruction, if that instruction went at all beyond reading and writing. He said, therefore, that the teaching given, as it would be by persons closely identified with the Presbyterian Church, could not be satisfactory either to the Roman Catholics or the Episcopalians of Scotland, and that in all probability neither Roman Catholics nor Episcopalians— 801 certainly no Roman Catholics—would participate in the advantages of the measure. He entertained no feelings of hostility to the Bill; but, on the contrary, he thought it reflected great credit on the right hon. and learned lord who had introduced it. Its provisions were drawn with great judgment and skill, and were fully adequate to the establishing a very efficient and very useful Presbyterian system of education for Scotland; but what he felt most interested in, and what he wanted to know was, how were the Roman Catholics to stand with reference to this measure? They did not ask for any extraordinary or unreasonable privilege, but merely to be left as they were at present. They participated in the Privy Council grants, and were perfectly satisfied with their position. Perhaps he should be told the Bill left them as they were. He should be very glad to hear the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate say so in a clear and specific manner, that there might be no misunderstanding upon the subject, but he feared that as the forty-fifth clause gave power to the Committee of Council to alter existing Privy Council Minutes, it was intended this general plan should supersede such an exceptional system as that which Roman Catholics and Episcopalians now enjoyed. He should greatly regret to see either the Roman Catholics of Scotland or the Roman Catholic members of that House opposing a measure which he believed was satisfactory to a majority of the people of Scotland; but Roman Catholics must consider their own interests, which in their eyes were of vital importance, and he thought umbrage could not be taken to their asking the Government for an assurance that they should not be altogether swamped in this great Presbyterian measure. He hoped the Lord-Advocate would afford the House such an explanation of his views and those of the Government with respect to the education of the Roman Catholics of Scotland as would satisfy the members of that creed, not that they would obtain any great privileges or advantages, but that their fair claims would be treated with just consideration. Unless the right hon. and learned Lord was able to give a satisfactory explanation on this subject, he (Mr. Bowyer) would feel it his duty to oppose the Bill.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
said, the hon. Member fur Dundalk, who had just sat down, requested, on behalf of his co-religionists, that they might be left alone; and what 802 he justly asked was, with still more justice, demanded on behalf of the parish schools, inasmuch as the parish schools had existed beneficially for more than two hundred years, and never were in a more efficient condition than at the present moment. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of this Bill as an ably-framed measure, and no one could doubt the ability and ingenuity of the Lord Advocate; but, while paying this tribute to his acknowledged ability, he must deny, on the same grounds, the claim which was made for this Bill as a popular measure. If it were both popular and ably drawn, how did it happen that there was found a larger list of Amendments for the Bill in Committee than to any other measure before Parliament in this Session; and, if it were so popular and so acceptable to hon. Gentlemen opposite who voted for the second reading, how did it happen that almost all the Amendments of which notice had been given proceeded from that side of the House—forty-one notices of Amendments, chiefly from the learned Lord's own supporters, appeared on the paper. Surely that would go far to acquit hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House from the charge which the Lord Advocate had brought against them of opposing the Bill merely for the purpose of obstruction. The Lord Advocate and the noble Lord the Member for Haddington (Lord Elcho) had, on more than one occasion, accused the opponents of being actuated solely by blind sectarian zeal, by a desire for the exclusive domination of the Church in matters of education, and by a wish to obstruct public business. He would warn the learned Lord that such charges should not be lightly made; and considering the Lord Advocate's position, and the fact that the opponents in Parliament were united, not only with the body of heritors, but with an immense majority of the petitioners, and the question being the education of the people, he should have thought the Lord Advocate would have better consulted his own dignity if he had assigned more worthy and more just reasons for their opposition. He had no right to call on the opponents for their reasons; it was for him, in the first place, to show—which he had not condescended yet to do—any sufficient reason for disturbing the parish schools. The Lord Advocate said he must include the parish schools in his scheme for the sake of economy, and in order to make it complete. He could show that his plan would still remain incomplete, for he had made 803 no provision for small village schools; and, as regards economy, the disturbing, as he proposed, was a wanton and useless waste of public money, throwing on the country the burden which the heritors were perfectly willing to bear, and drying up the sources of private charity which had flowed so freely, by depriving local authorities of the interest they felt or the influence they possessed. The learned Lord had given another reason why opposition should cease; he had hinted that if the Church sought to hold her schools, it might be necessary to consider what further steps should be taken with her. The threat was very significant—if she persisted in keeping her schools, they might next rob her of her churches—if she stuck to her pupils, they would, perhaps, attack her pulpits; and the inference is logical enough, that if you may take the parish schools, you may likewise occupy the parish church. The Lord Advocate had addressed an argument to English Members, that they should not oppose this measure, because a majority of Scotch Members supported it. He would ask whether the Lord Advocate acted uniformly on that principle? and when the Government brought forward measures distasteful to a body of the Irish Members, did he, and the noble Lord the Member for Haddington, then tell the noble Viscount they must vote against him and the Government, of which they were, or had been, members, on the grounds upon which he now objected to the votes of English Members? The Lord Advocate boasts of his majority of Scotch Members. When is the Government without a majority of Members from Scotland? He doubted whether that were a true test of the popularity of this measure in Scotland. We had heard of a circular going the round of English Members, with the names appended thereto of the Scotch Members who supported the Bill, in order to frighten English Members to support it. He could take another circular, not with thirty Members of Parliament, but with the signatures of 27,000 petitioners, that the Bill might not pass, and 16,000 more praying that it might be altered. The majority of petitions last year—before the Bill was known—were favourable to the measure. Now, when it was understood, they were fourteen to one against the Bill. That showed very conclusively that the Bill was sinking, not rising, in estimation. He would call the earnest attention of English Members to the very different manner in which 804 the Lord Advocate treated Scotland to what the Government ventured to act towards England in the matter of education. In England they had had numerous discussions in the House, Committees sitting for several Sessions on the Manchester and Salford Education Schemes, voluminous reports and evidence, containing the most accurate and detailed information on all parts of the subjects. In addition to these documents, there were the Census Reports on religious worship and on education, containing 230 pages, most ably written by the best statist of the time—Mr. Horace Mann. The House being in possession of these data, the Government did then, and not till then, bring forward a proposition for education. But what did the Lord Advocate do? Before a single paper containing information of any sort was on the table, the Lord Advocate introduced his Bill. Certainly, he promised information. He said you shall, in 1856, have the evidence that will show that I was right in 1854. We were much obliged by the promise, but we much prefer hearing the evidence before we decide the question. The Lord Advocate disdainfully exclaimed— "Are we, at this time of day, to stop to inquire into the want of education?" and said, "it was no assumption, but the fact, that there is at the very basis of society a deep, an unfathomable, stagnant, and pestilental pit of ignorance." Now, without denying the existence both of intemperance and ignorance, yet, he must say, that to take this description as a true picture generally, was not the fact, but an unproved assumption, and to attribute its existence to the want of a good system of moral and religious education throughout the country generally, was a most unwarrantable inference. Now, what was his data for Scotland—data to which he referred and relied on, though produced after his Bill?—the "Report on Religious Worship and Education for Scotland, by Mr. Horace Mann," dated 15th April, 1854. The Report consists of three brief, meagre pages, and the author himself says "the statistics are not complete, and he has no means of making them so. The inquiry being purely voluntary, enumerators were less careful, and parties less willing to give information." The want of education, it is alleged, and perhaps truly, is felt most severely in the towns and burghs to which the parochial system did not extend, and, therefore, though no particulars were given in more minute subdivisions 805 than counties, yet, as regards places where masses were collected, there, no doubt, the Lord Advocate had taken means of ascertaining accurately all the necessary information. Mr. Mann says, as to burghs, "no facilities existed for ascertaining what schools in any parish were within the burghs, and what were outside," so no satisfactory tables could be constructed. He gives a statement of the places of worship in the whole of the parishes containing burghs, to supply an approximate view, but could give no such result as to schools. The learned Lord thought fit to accuse the opponents of sectarian blindness, and the Government have already shown their activity in taking one formidable leap in the dark, which has plunged the country into inextricable difficulties and dangers. The Lord Advocate must excuse them from following him in this fresh leap in the dark, with fresh dangers, into this unfathomable pit which he pretends to have found—they would rather either wait till daylight, or till the Lord Advocate had supplied better lights and guides to lead them. The learned Lord had now had a year to establish his case; how had he employed it? He had not furnished one single particle of evidence to substantiate the assumption which he called a fact, and which I believe to be a most calumnious description of the Scotch people. Under these circumstances, he had a strong claim for the support of the English lovers of education. They had in England popular schemes which contributed much to education. In Scotland we possessed a system established for nearly 300 years, coeval with our pure Protestant faith, anterior to the laws which now supported it, and which, he trusted, would survive the laws which attempted to subvert it. In 1567, it was provided that schools should be established in every parish for the "godly upbringing of youth," and let them mark the force of the expression. It is "tinsel," it says, not "tinsel," meaning worthless show, but tinsel, or destruction and perdition," both of their bodies and souls, if God's Word be not rooted in them." Such was the origin of the parish schools; and so well did they do their duty, that Kirkton, in a well-known passage, nearly a century later, says, "Every village had a school, every family always a Bible; yea, in most of the country all the children of age could read the Scriptures, and were provided with Bibles." That system had continued, down to our own day, to ele- 806 vate the Scottish character, and to render them, as they were justly described to be, a thinking, a moral, and a religious people; and whatever divisions existed in the Church, it had helped to keep nine-tenths of the population attached to the same creed, taught, as the learned Lord admitted, from the same books, and in the same way. That system was connected with the laity, who supported it—with the clergy, who controlled it—and with the Government, which inspected it; and he denied either that the system had failed, or that any proof had been adduced against it. There existed, no doubt, exceptional defects and exceptional deficiency—these we are willing to inquire into, to supply, and to amend. The General Assembly had long since pointed out many of them, and sought the aid of the State to correct them. Hon. Members, in looking at the state of the education, must not omit to bear in mind the condition also of the country. If England had made great strides lately in education, they must consider the obstacles and hindrances which presented themselves to a like educational career in Scotland. Those obstacles existed in the unequal distribution of the people, scantily dispersed in some parts, thickly and rapidly overcrowded in others —circumstances, and diversity of race and character, disposing to undue indolence and to undue industry in worldly matters —the poverty of the Church, the comparatively small supplies of Privy Council grants, and the incentives to intemperance which a low rate of duties on spirits presented. All these causes operated against Scotland, and it was necessary to bear them in mind in deciding on the failure of a system for education. They complained of the want of education in the northern counties of Scotland. Now, no counties in England were to be compared to those counties in the scantiness of population, and this is a material element in a criterion of education to be tested by school attendance. How could they collect children to a school, when an adult population could scarcely be assembled to church? Sutherland had but fourteen persons to the square mile; Ross and Cromarty, twenty-six; Inverness, twenty-three; Argyle, twenty-seven; and Orkney and Shetland, forty inhabitants to the square mile. The scantiest counties of England were Westmoreland, Cumberland, North Riding of York, and Here ford, but they were not to be mentioned 807 against the Scotch counties he had named. Moreover, the latter were divided by lofty and impassable mountains, intersected by ravines and arms of the sea, and contained a few poor shepherds, or poorer fishermen, dwelling on their cliffs or islands. They should not forget that these counties contained nearly 150 islands, whereof 120 contained fewer than 1,000 inhabitants a piece. Of these nearly fifty have less than twenty, and twenty-five have not ten human beings on them—some seventy, some above 100 miles from the mainland. How, then, can you expect a school to be assembled? And yet, these remote regions, ranking from 300 to 600 per cent below the average rate of population, went to swell the learned Lord's reckoning against Scotland's school attendance; and yet, how did they stand? The school attendance in Ross was one in 8.2; in Inverness, one in 8.9; in Argyle, one in 7.5; and in Orkney, one 9.6. The average for Scotland is one in seven, and though these counties depress it, the only marvel is that they stand so wonderfully high—a fact which does infinite credit to the system you seek to demolish and disturb. Other counties, on the other hand, are as excessive in density as the above in spareness of population, and present comparatively greater obstacles than any existing in England. Then, excepting Middlesex, there are but two counties which are more than 200 per cent above the average, namely, Surrey, 300 per cent; and Lancashire, 200 per cent. Now, in Scotland, with fewer counties, there are no less than eight counties in that position; and look at the rate of excess—Renfrew and Midlothian, above 700 per cent; Lanark, nearly 600 per cent; Clackmannan, 500 per cent; and Fyfe, Ayr, Forfar, and Linlithgow, varying from 200 to 300 per cent above the average population of Scotland. Now, when you find such unequal distribution of inhabitants, surely some excuse may be found for inadequate education, and the system can hardly be condemned which struggles hard to meet its difficulties. What, then, do we perceive? Why, that in Renfrew and Lanark the proportion of school attendants are below one in nine, in all the other populous counties they are above it. In England, take Worcester, Stafford, Warwick, Lancaster, Monmouth, and you see the averages running up from one in nine to one in ten, and one in eleven. It is, therefore, hardly fair to upset a system which thus encounters great difficulties. Nor is that all. It is the ra- 808 pidity of the rate of increase which augments the difficulty in education keeping pace with or overtaking it. The average increase of England exceeds that of Scotland; but take the local increase of particular places. In England, Lancaster has increased, in twenty years, 47 per cent; in Scotland, Lanark has increased, in the same period, 58 per cent, and Clackmannan 50 per cent; and yet the school going population of Clackmannan is no less than one in 6.5. The most experienced statists have calculated, that, after deducting all who are necessarily detained by sickness or other causes, one in six of the whole population is the utmost school attendance that can be looked for in the most highly-educated country under the most favourable circumstances; and here we find that, under the least favourable, a proportion of one in 6.5 has been attained locally, and one in seven generally, over the whole of Scotland, while that of England is one in 8.3. In Nairn, in Inverness, and in other Highland counties, the prevalence of the Celtic race, and the mixture of the Gaelic tongue, is an element which ought not to be forgotten among the difficulties which a system of education has to overcome. It should be mentioned that the data I have used are not generally in the hands of Members, and that, after working them out myself, I got them verified at the Census Office, in a paper to which the following note was appended—That in consequence of the returns being defective, the proportions for Scotland, as well as those for the counties, must be received as understatements.Well, but if the difficulties of Scotland are greater than those of England, the aid she has received from the State is less; and though her educational condition is higher, do you propose to condemn her educational system? I do not question the rules framed by the Privy Council, but I name it as a fact, that those rules, while they admit all other schools to a participation in their grants, exclude, except from a fractional benefit, the parish schools of Scotland; the Privy Council has excluded them because they are supported, not by subscription, but by charges on the land; and having thus deprived them of aid, you now propose to attack them for wanting the means yourselves denied them. Scotland has not received her fair proportion of the educational grants. Her population is one-sixth that of England, 809 but not so the money you have given her. The total amount since 1839 has been, for education, 1,633,384l., whereof Scotland should have had 272,230l.; she has only had two-thirds of that sum, or 182,230l. But if the State withheld her aid from Scotland, certainly the Church of Scotland, though poor, indeed, as compared with that of England, has not been backward in her efforts. The Church of England did much for England, but her revenues amount to 5,000,000l. per annum, as stated in the Census Report. That of the Church of Scotland does not amount to one-twentieth of that sum, but she has added, of late years, nearly 1,000 schools to supply education, has subscribed largely and liberally for their building and support, and has often and loudly called on the State for the aid she niggardly bestowed. The Lord Advocate asserts, that at the basis of society there is a pestilential pit of ignorance, and that vice and ignorance hold their revels hard by the palaces of our merchant princes, and, therefore, he must destroy our educational system. Now, if Government has refused supplies to education, it has not refused them to intemperance, which is the cause of ignorance. There may be fiscal causes for the reduction of duties on Scotch spirits, but there can be no doubt that the reduction of duty on Scotch and Irish whisky has led mainly to the fearful consumption of spirits, and has conduced greatly to vice, irregularity, and disregard of education. In 1823 you reduced the duties on Scotch spirits from 6s. 2d. to 2s. 4d. per gallon, and it remained at that, or at 3s. 8d. per gallon, until 1853, while those on English spirits were far higher. The Treasury may have gained, but morality has lost by this fiscal regulation; and if, in consequence, you find that Scotland consumed 6,500,000, while England consumed only 10,350,000 gallons—that there is one drunken man to twenty-two in Glasgow, one to fifty-seven in Edinburgh, and only one to fifty in London city—the Lord Advocate had no right to charge to the parochial schools of Scotland the pit of ignorance and vice which is due to the action of the Government. No thanks are due to Government for any efforts to correct the evil—private individuals took up the duty which Government neglected. Lord Kinnaird and Mr. Forbes Mackenzie have the merit of introducing a Bill to improve the morals which Government had sacrificed to the Treasury; and when a Lord of the Treasury (Lord Duncan), the Member for 810 Forfar, alludes to 1,200,000l. per annum being spent on whisky, he should remember that the fault lies with himself and others. But, after all, how stands Scotland as to the means for education? Schools are not wanting generally in Scotland. The hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. Dunlop) spoke once of 3,500 schools being wanted. Well, there is a school for each 600 of the population, and if one in six bring the school-going number required, that is a school for every 100 children. The actual attendance averages ninety-two to each parish school, and I am inclined to think the hon. Member's statement generally requires verification as much as the Lord Advocate's pestilential pit. But, as compared with England, Scotland has one scholar, we know, to seven; England one to eight and one-third. Compare the nature of the schools. The best system is that which is sustained by permanent, local, or general support. In Scotland one in five, in England one in seventy-five, are so supported. If you were to establish a system, that is what you would adopt; but the very schools which you are about to disturb, if not destroy, are those precisely which are so maintained. In Scotland 1,039 schools thus educate 89,000 scholars. In England 610 maintain only 48,000 scholars. Nor is this all; in England, of 4,021 endowed schools, three-fourths have not an endowment of 50l. per annum, one-half have not 20l. per annum, and one-fourth has not 10l. per annum. Compare this with the endowed schools of Scotland, and you will find that the system you seek to subvert is far better, and far better maintained, than any known to those by whose aid you seek to subvert them. Again, in deciding on the maintenance or subversion of a system, there can be fewer elements more deserving of consideration than the quality of the schools, and few will doubt that a public is preferable to a private school. In Scotland two-thirds of the whole number are public, and one-third are private schools. In England the proportions are reversed; one-third are public and two-thirds are private, and yet the English Members are called upon to destroy the Scotch schools. In England there is one point to which Scotland can offer no parallel. I find among the teachers in England 740—chiefly teachers of private schools—who can only sign their names with a "mark." Imagine what a boast of it the Lord Advocate would make if he could find in Scotland, not 740, but one man designated as a teacher who could 811 not write his own name; and yet the English are called upon to aid the Lord Advocate in upsetting the Scottish schools. The efforts made recently in England to supply education have been very great—so great that the English are apt to say that "the education in Scotland was better; but we have latterly done so much more than they, that now they cease to be superior." That was not astonishing, since England had much to do, when she was aroused to the need of education, and since the Church was more wealthy, and the Privy Council grants more lavish; and yet, in the last twenty years, the number of schools added in Scotland bears within a fraction the same ratio to the whole number that those added in England bear to the whole, namely, about two-thirds of the whole number. In every point of view, then, the educational system of Scotland will bear a comparison with that of England, or of any country in the world. And, in respect of cheapness, the cost of 10s. to 12s. or 12s. 6d. per annum to each child is no extravagant amount. In the three counties of Moray, Aberdeen, and Banff, owing to the "Dick Bequest," the charge does not exceed 7s. per annum. The noble Lord (Lord Elcho) the Member for Haddington, and the right hon. and learned Lord, may say once more, this may all be very true, but it does not meet the intolerable grievance of the Church assuming the exclusive supremacy and domination when she has not a majority. Now, in the first place, they misstate the case. The Church neither asks, nor ever has asked, for any exclusive domination in education. What she does demand, and what she has a right to demand, is, that she should not be robbed of her own; that what belongs to her—what has been hers for two or three hundred years—what she has held with unparalleled benefit to the people, should not, without cause assigned, be taken from her. The schools of Scotland are 5,000, the parish schools are 1,000, well conducted; and the Church says, deal with the other four-fifths if you will, but leave to me that which is my own, and which I have not abused. "What," says the learned Lord, "leave to the Church the schools of Caithness, or those of Sutherland, where the Church has not one-tenth—scarcely one-twentieth—of the population!" The Lord Advocate's argument, if it proves anything, proves too much. The object of the schools is to promote education—the test of education in school attendance. Now, what do I 812 find? The average of Scotland is one in seven; that of Caithness is at the very top of the list, namely, one child out of six; and Sutherland is next, namely, one in 6.1. This fact seems to me to cut the whole of that argument of the Lord Advocate from under his feet, and I am not surprised that when he had persuaded his hearers that there was a pit of ignorance, he should be unwilling to enter into any further inquiry as to the fact, or to afford any of the detail which I have searched out. Berwickshire, where secession is far less, stands at one in 6.2, or third in the list. The assertions which have been made to-night about children of different denominations not attending the parish schools, may be useful declamation, and I regretted to hear the noble Lord (Lord Duncan) allude to them. The Roman Catholics attended schools freely; and I know in my own county the Free Church children attend the parish schools quite as readily as those who belong to the Established Church; and so they do wherever they are left alone, for the teaching in these schools is free from any sectarian character, and religious influence pervades the whole teaching. I have heard, indeed, of Christian ministers denying the comforts of the Christian religion to those parents who allowed their children to receive instruction in the parish school. I heard lately of another Christian minister, who, in like manner, refused the Holy Communion to an unhappy man who was condemned to death. He had been guilty of two crimes; for the one—murder—the priest did not deny him absolution; but he had been guilty of a more heinous offence—he had promised to his wife that his only child should be brought up a Protestant. The priest who would grant absolution for the murder denied it to this graver offence. I will do neither the Free Churchmen nor the Roman Catholics the injustice to suppose that they would not equally with me condemn the conduct of the minister and the priest, whose conduct was alike; but what I do say is, that in the course the Lord Advocate is taking, and the arguments used in its support, you are legislating not against, but in favour of such miscreants. The noble Lord (Lord Duncan) alluded to the ignorance of certain prisoners, extracted from prison returns, to prove that Scotland is ill-educated. Now, I can assure the noble Lord that nothing is more deceptive than the tables on which he has relied; and, so far from making out his case, they prove 813 absolutely nothing. The hon. Member for Oxfordshire referred to Austria; he had referred to certain interesting statistics in counties of England, which showed how completely one table upset the other. These were found in the Minutes of the Council of Education for 1848, 1849, and 1850, and were taken from the years 1842 to 1847. They exhibit the education and crime in several counties, and show that Middlesex, which stands first in our test of education, is nearly lowest in respect of crime; whereas Wales, which stands about the top in respect of crime, is near the bottom in respect of education; while others, again, stand high in education, in morality, and freedom from crime; others, again, stand as low in all three. These data are not to be depended upon. Let the noble Lord merely look to the tables of convictions in 1853, in the two most populous counties of Scotland, one of which, Edinburgh, stands high, namely, one in 6.9 in point of education; and the other, Lanark, stands equally low, namely, one in 9.9, by the same test. Lanark has a population of 530,000, but only 510 convictions; while Edinburgh, with half the population, or 260,000, has a larger number of convictions, namely, 539, against 510 of Lanark. This would show the House the risk of resting on such calculations. Indeed, some education, by creating tastes and appetites unknown to unlearned persons, may expose to fresh crimes and fresh temptations. Of this there can be little doubt, that a knowledge of the Bible, its doctrines, and its precepts, with the inculcation of sound moral and religious principles, will tend more than anything else to the happiness of the people and the tranquillity of the State. Those means and those blessings we have hitherto enjoyed, to an extraordinary degree, in Scotland. There is no country in the civilised world governed at less cost for police or military to restrain them than Scotland; there are few countries which have sent forth a larger number of men eminent in all walks of life from its parish schools— in history, in philosophy, in mathematics, in medicine, in poetry, in all the branches of science and literature, as well as in the more active paths of danger and of glory. There is, however, one evidence to which he would call attention, because, though simple, it was significant. A few years ago, prizes, open to Great Britain, were offered for the best essays on the advantages of the Sabbath to the working man. 814 Two out of three prizes were gained by the country which had but one-sixth of the population. One by an old shoemaker in the village near him—St. Boswells. The preface remarked, that Scotland should gain two out of these prizes was not remarkable, since by far the larger number of the essays were written by Scotchmen. That simple circumstance seemed to show that Scotchmen of the lower orders had not fallen behind their neighbours in intellectual or religious education. He had detained the House too long, perhaps, with these details, but he preferred rather to rest his case upon facts, however dry, than leave the question to the assumptions of an imagination, however brilliant, or of an eloquence, however powerful. Before he concluded, he was anxious to adduce the testimony, in favour of the schools of Scotland, which fell from one to whom the House ever listened with attention. The right hon. Member for Oxford University said, in 1853—That Scotland was inferior to most parts of Europe in fertility of its soil, or in the aid which a genial climate gave for bringing the kindly productions of the earth to maturity; but that country, poor as it is, has taken a place among the nations second to no other, and even among Englishmen, Scotchmen are not found to fall behind in any gift, in the capacity for any walk and any function of life. It was not so in former times. If we go back three or four hundred years, they were then a nation in the rear of all Europe. They are now in front, and in the van. If it is asked, what is the reason for this great, this astonishing change in their relative position?—I believe the reason is one great advantage which they have now enjoyed for more than two centuries, in a degree far beyond any other country, far beyond England—the advantage which consists in every labouring man in Scotland having had the means of sending his children to a school where they would receive the benefits and the blessings of education. And the consequence of that has been, that there is an appreciation of those blessings among the people of Scotland, continually growing with the enjoyment of them.This admirable description, no less true than beautiful, while it does honour to the distinguished man who expressed it—himself a Scotchman by descent, if not by birth—pays a just tribute to the system of education which the Lord Advocate would uproot; but there is other evidence, the more remarkable as coming from a foreigner, which he could not refrain from reading to the House. It is that of a gentleman most competent to judge, as he had deeply studied the subject of education in his own and foreign countries, and had stated his opinion on 815 the American, the Scotch, and the German, and other continental schools of Europe. The Hon. Horace Mann, Secretary to the Massachusetts Education Board, United States, in his Seventh Annual Report, bears testimony to "the efficiency of the intellectual training in the schools in Scotland," and expresses "his astonishment at the familiarity of the pupils with the writings of the New Testament;" and he says—There are some points in which the schools of Scotland are very remarkable. In the thoroughness with which they teach the intellectual part of reading, they furnish a model worthy of being copied by the world.Where, then, appears the insufficiency of these schools? Generally, nowhere, save in the imagination of the learned Lord. Special cases there may and must be, and these might better be corrected by an extension than a destruction of the parish schools, instructed by teachers, than whom it would be difficult anywhere to find a more meritorious or ill-requited class. The burden of proving the parish schools defective rests on the learned Lord, and those who act with him. Against these schools, I find that Lord Panmure said, two years since, that they were "obsolete and effete, and worse than useless, as they had become fortresses in the hands of the enemy." I will not stay to ask why schools teaching learning, religion, and morality are fortresses of the enemy to the noble Lord; but it is some consolation to have to place against the evidence of Lord Panmure that of Mr. Fox Maule. In 1836, Mr. Fox Maule was Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, and therefore knew, if he did not write, the Treasury Minute which described the parish schools of "Scotland as having been the source of much good, and as having laid down a mode of education worthy of imitation elsewhere." Here, then, we have evidence, both from Mr. Fox Maule in Scotland, and from the Secretary to the Education Board of Massachusetts, that those schools which Lord Panmure and the Lord Advocate would now destroy, are a model worthy of imitation. The time which the Lord Advocate selects for undermining the parish schools of Scotland is, when, according to his own admission, they are in a more efficient condition than they ever were before. He says they are in a most efficient condition, and that they were evoked out of lethargy by the competition between the Established and Free 816 Church; and yet the avowed object of his Bill is not to preserve schools that are efficient, and rivalry which has had so excellent an effect, but to upset the efficient schools, and to put an end to the competition. What, then, is to prevent the relapse into lethargy, which the Lord Advocate affects to dread? Not local influence, for he proposes to put a stop to that—not local charity, for his proposal will stop the current and dry up the sources. You might have adopted a method which, in lieu of destroying, might, at comparatively little cost, have enlarged and extended the blessings of religious and moral education over the whole of Scotland. The annual sum of 4,500l. judiciously administered, had called forth so large an amount of voluntary aid in addition to the statutory charge, as to secure the best possible education to the three counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Morayshire, containing 250,000 inhabitants. Apply the same plan, and on the same rule, the sum of 50,000l. or 52,000l. per annum would have afforded a sound education to all Scotland. The best education is almost cheap at any price, the worst is dear at any; and here you subvert a good and cheap to make way for an inferior, which will cost twenty times as much as the State has yet given, and four times as much as you need have given. Your plan, upon the lowest calculation, will cost 200,000l. a year. It will put a stop to influence, interest, and outlay of charity in the country; and, in like manner, you will disgust the authorities in burghs by depriving them of interest and control. In Dundee 20,000l. has been recently expended in building and maintaining schools. Glasgow, in like manner, has shown charitable liberality. When the Government inspector shall have taken all out of their hands except the obligation to pay what he imposes, it is not difficult to foresee how soon the inability to control or manage will be followed by an unwillingness to contribute; and thus, under pretence of building up a complete State method of centralised education, you will speedily destroy a system under which the people of Scotland have longer than any other country enjoyed a larger amount of sound; moral, and religious education, than any other nation in Europe.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that, notwithstanding what had been alleged to the contrary, he must maintain that an educational measure was requisite for Scotland, and would be content to rest the proof of that propo- 817 sition upon the Bill of the hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling), who acknowledged the necessity for extending the means of instruction in that country. In order to show that the Scotch Members were anxious to go into Committee on this question, he need only refer to the division on the adjournment, in which twenty-eight of them voted against the adjournment, to four in favour of it. The Amendment before the House was an attempt, by a side wind, to get rid of the principle of the Lord Advocate's Bill, which had already been affirmed by the second reading. It had been admitted by the opponents of the measure that it contained two principles— namely, a combination of religious and secular instruction, and an extension of the means of education; but the Bill had likewise another object, and one of wider scope —namely, the establishment of a system of united education, in lieu of the existing denominational schools. The parish schools of Scotland were originally intended to embrace within their fold all the Presbyterians of that country; but, in consequence of the recent disruption in the Established Church, they had since become denominational; and while the test requiring the schoolmasters to belong to that Church and the exclusive superintendence of the Presbytery were maintained, the present system must remain sectarian. Nobody could contend that in theory a denominational system of education was advisable; and seeing that in Scotland nine-tenths of the people professed the same creed as far as regarded all the essentials of Christianity, and were not divided into so many different sects as existed in England, the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had taken advantage of this unanimity of religious belief in Scotland, and made the establishment of a united system of education in that country a fundamental principle of his Bill. He (Lord Elcho) was most sanguine of the results which such a measure would produce upon, not merely the education of Scotland, but upon the tone, temper, and feelings of its people. At present denominational schools existed in places where they were not wanted, simply because on the opposite side of the road there was a parish school, whose scholars it was desired to draw away and bring into the rival institution. Thus a waste of educational power was created, and the number of children under instruction was not bonâ fide increased. A united system, on the other hand, by associating the mi- 818 nisters of the different Churches in the holy work of education, would have their prejudices softened and their differences mitigated; while the children who were taught in the same parish school the essentials of their common Christianity would be led to ask why they should not also worship their Maker together in the same Church. These views were not so Utopian as some might suppose. They found expression at a meeting held in Scotland last year in support of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate's measure, when Dr. Guthrie, a distinguished minister of the Free Church, gave his adhesion to a national instead of a denominational system, on the ground of its healing tendency and its probable effect in promoting mutual love and brotherly union between rival Churches. The present Bill, however, would not establish a united system by rudely overthrowing the existing parish schools; it merely sought to bring them more into harmony with the altered circumstances of Scotland by doing away with the exclusive test restricting the schoolmasters to members of the Established Church, and also with the exclusive superintendence of the Presbytery. It, however, retained the direction of the minister of the parish in the management of the schools. The effect of the Amendment moved by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. C. Bruce) would be fatal to the principle of the Bill, for he proposed to maintain the parish schools under the exclusive control of the Established Church of Scotland, and to destroy the principle of united education which was so valuable a portion of the measure. He (Lord Elcho) wholly disclaimed any desire to injure the Established Church of Scotland, and he was confident no one in that House would say that the right hon. and learned Lord by whom this Bill had been introduced, although, it was true, he was not a member of the Church Establishment, had the slightest wish to promote the interests of the sect to which he belonged at the expense of the Establishment. But, it was objected that there was no security in this Bill for religious teaching. Now, one would suppose, to hear the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite, that Members on his (the Ministerial) side of the House cared nothing for religion or morality, and that the only persons in the House who regarded those objects were the hon. Gentlemen who voted against the Bill. He was not, however, prepared to admit that those who 819 thought with him were indifferent to the nature of the religious education which was to be given under this Bill. The preamble itself showed what was the object in view—Whereas," it said, "instruction in the principles of religious knowledge and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, as heretofore in use in the parochial and other schools in Scotland, is consonant to the opinions and religious profession of the great body of the people.And they bad confidence in that deep-seated religious feeling which existed in Scotland, and which would, without any express legislative provision, insure that the teaching should be in accordance with what was stated in this preamble. As to the proposed abolition of tests, hon. Gentlemen opposite did not seem able to agree in suggesting any Amendment upon this portion of the Bill. Now, he did not look upon a test as any security, but he thought it might be desirable, and he could see no objection to introduce a clause somewhat in accordance with that proposed by the hon. Member for Selkirkshire (Mr. A. E. Lockhart)—namely, that a parochial schoolmaster should be required to produce a certificate of attendance at a place of worship belonging to some Christian community. He hoped the House of Commons would not be led astray by the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Elgin, and that they would not so stultify themselves as to support that Motion, diametrically opposed as it was to the principle of the Bill. He believed that this measure was conceived in a liberal and enlightened spirit; and that, not only—to use the eloquent language of the right hon. and learned Lord—was it calculated to be a cheap defence of nations, and to roll back the tide of ignorance and vice, but that it would give peace and harmony to Scotland, where religious discord had unhappily hitherto prevailed. Once more he entreated the House to support this measure, and not to give their votes in favour of a Motion which, without wishing to speak offensively, he must characterise as being conceived not in a liberal or unsectarian spirit, and as wholly unsuited both to the wants and the wishes of the people of Scotland.
§ MR. BLACKBURN
said, he must deny that hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House, wished to destroy public education in Scotland. The measure now before them involved two objects, one to provide education for places where it was now deficient; and the other, as the right 820 hon. and learned Lord said, to amend, but as those who thought with him (Mr. Blackburn) considered, to overturn, the existing system of education in Scotland. Now, he could not but regard it as much more beneficial if the measure were divided into two parts, so as to carry out those objects separately. The Bill, in his opinion, brought the whole power of education within a central board, so constructed that the people of the country could have no confidence in it; it did away with the religious securities now in existence, and proposed to teach religion without the intervention of any church, and without the security of any creed. How such a proposal could succeed he could not understand, nor did he see why such a scheme should be forced upon the people of Scotland. The success of the principle upon which the parochial schools had been conducted was not denied by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, and in addition to the testimony of the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Cowan), the Marquess of Lansdowne, and the Duke of Argyll, to which he had referred on a previous occasion, he could now adduce the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone). It was that system, supported by such high authority, that he and those hon. Gentlemen who supported the Motion of the hon. Member for Elginshire wished to retain, and which should not, he thought, be done away with. It was said that the majority of the people of Scotland were in favour of the Bill. Now, it was no doubt true that a majority of Scotch Members had voted for the second reading of the Bill, but all that that vote implied was that they wished for an extension of education; and without doubt the majority of the representatives of the country district were opposed to the Bill. He would not dwell upon the question of the petitions which had been presented with regard to this measure, because an hon. Member had already shown that the majority of those persons who had petitioned were opposed to the Bill; and, indeed, he believed that there was no party unanimous in its favour. One of the articles of the Treaty of Union provided that no master of a parochial school should be inducted until he had subscribed the Westminster Confession of Faith; and it was surely matter for grave consideration whether an article of that treaty should be disregarded. With regard to the argument that Free Church 821 children would not attend schools, he attached no weight to that argument; and all that he now asked for was, that a system which had been attended with such beneficial results, as far as regarded the rural districts of Scotland, should not be rashly swept away.
§ MR. LAING
said, he thought that it was important to recall to the consideration of the House the Motion before them, by which it was proposed to withdraw the operation of the Bill from that portion of the people of Scotland who lived in the country, and to limit its operation to those who resided in towns. To show that there were no just grounds for this, it would be only necessary to state the principle upon which this Bill was founded, and that was to sever the intimate connection that existed between the Established Church and the parochial schools. As long as the Established Church was the Church of the nation, nothing was more natural than that there should be such a connection; but changes had taken place, and the Established Church was no longer the Church of the majority of the people of Scotland. They must regard Scotland for all practical purposes as divided into three denominations—the Established Church, the Free Church, and the United Presbyterians, Independents, and other Presbyterian Dissenters, and he would challenge any one to show that either as regarded number, respectability, or influence there was so marked a superiority of one of these parties over the others as to induce them to submit to its superiority and supremacy over the education of the mass of the educational establishments of the country. A practical necessity of dealing with this question had arisen from the fact that the educational establishments of the country had become manifestly insufficient to meet the requirements of the people; and this necessity had been urged on by the miserable salaries of the parochial schoolmasters, as it was obviously impossible to obtain for such small salaries an adequate supply of competent men to fill such important situations. The right hon. and learned Lord, with a view of extending education, had removed the test which made it necessary that every parochial schoolmaster should be a member of the Established Church, abolished the control of the Presbytery, and had introduced into the Bill principles to which the people of Scotland could not generally agree. The opponents of this Bill admitted its 822 operation as to the boroughs, but would not extend it to the counties, though he could not see how they could, if they admitted the principle in one case, refuse its application in the other. He begged to remind the English Members, by whose votes alone this measure might be decided against, that the measure was essentially founded on compromise, and that great concessions had been made; and that if it were found impossible to come to a practical settlement on the basis of compromise, and they were obliged to commence again an agitation of the subject on a question of principle, then the Established Church might be placed in a much worse position than it would be by the present measure.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said that, as this subject had been so completely exhausted, he should content himself with a few observations on the question raised by the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. C. Bruce). He (the Lord Advocate) trusted that they were now fast approaching the conclusion of sectarian strife, and that, after the division of to-night, they would throw away the polemical weapons which had been used, and address themselves solely to the means of affording an extended system of education to the people of Scotland. When he first addressed himself to the subject, it was not with the slightest regard to the domination of one Church or another. In his connection with the criminal judicature of the country, he had daily forced upon him the fearful amount of ignorance which prevailed in that country, and its necessary connection with crime. His hon. Friend the Member for Elginshire proposed to cut the Bill in two; but if that were done the results which would follow would be shortly these:—In the first place, they would have to maintain the Free Church schools throughout the country, because it was plain that it would be highly unjust to leave the parish schools with the denominational character which they had, and to withdraw the Privy Council grant from the Free Church schools. In the next place, if the control of the Church were continued, two sets of schools would be kept up where one was sufficient; and, in the last place, the state of the parish schools with regard to superintendence could not be maintained. Hon. Gentlemen talked continually of "our schools;" but the schools were not theirs. They were the schools of the nation, and the Established Church never had had the right of property in them. He denied that 823 these schools belonged to the heritors. They were nothing but trustees, and the power which had placed them there to administer that trust was competent to take it from them. No doubt the schools were supported by an assessment upon the land, but they were established for the education of the great body of the people. Upon these grounds he entreated the House not to mutilate or reject this proposition, which was that in the only part of the United Kingdom where the people were perfectly ripe for a common system of education, they should fill up the void which existed upon the principle of a common faith, and that they should altogether abolish sectarian differences, which were bad enough where they were inevitable, and which it must be the wish of every one to dispense with where possible. Scotland was perfectly ready for this important work, and he was satisfied if it were not marred by such propositions as that of the hon. Member for Elginshire, that it would be a good day for that country when the Bill passed. Many philanthropic people thought that they might build up a system of secular education which should embrace all classes of religionists, but it was clear from the speech of the hon. Member below the gangway (Mr. Bowyer) that that would not suit the Roman Catholics. As Roman Catholics would be required to pay under this Bill for the Presbyterian system, it would be the height of injustice to withdraw their present Privy Council grants. Seeing the great masses of Roman Catholics that inhabited the large towns—those hotbeds of crime—he thought that the grants ought to be continued; and looking to the poverty of the Roman Catholics in Scotland, his own individual opinion was, that it was a fair subject for consideration whether they might not be administered even upon a more liberal scale than hitherto.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, that he could not agree with the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, that it would be a good day for Scotland when this Bill passed. Letters, which he received every day from that country, informed him that there were very many dissentients to the proposed measure, and that the people were becoming more and more convinced of its impolicy. He denied that the majority of the people of Scotland were in favour of this Bill; there was a large body in Scotland opposed to it. [Oh, oh!] He would be heard for the short time that he was anxious to address the House. [Cries of "Di- 824 vide, divide."] Well, if they would not hear him, he would move that the House do now adjourn. The hon. Member's voice being drowned by Cries of "Divide," he concluded abruptly by moving" That the House adjourn."
§ MR. SERJEANT SHEE
said he had voted for the second reading of the Bill because he was desirous of giving to the people of Scotland a system of sound moral and religious education; but it was the duty of those hon. Gentlemen who, like himself, were returned by Roman Catholic constituencies, to take care of the interests of the Queen's Roman Catholic subjects in every part of Great Britain. The right hon. and learned Lord had stated that he expressed only his own individual opinion with regard to the Catholic population of Scotland—
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he must beg to explain that he had said, on the part of the Government that it was not intended by this Bill to effect any change in the position of the Catholic population of Scotland as regarded the Privy Council grants, and he had added that, in his own opinion, the case of the Roman Catholics in the large towns for more favourable terms was very deserving of consideration.
§ MR. SERJEANT SHEE
said, he was aware that this Bill did nothing which would prejudice the interests of the Catholics of Scotland, and if the right hon. and learned Lord had spoken with the authority of the Government he should feel quite justified in voting with the Government to-night; but if there were any doubt upon that point, it must be cleared up. The Government would not have the benefit of the votes of the representatives of Ireland, unless they distinctly stated their concurrence in the sentiments and opinions of the right hon. and learned Lord. He, therefore, called upon the right hon. and learned Lord to give a distinct assurance that the Queen's Catholic subjects in Scotland should be fairly treated, and he would then again vote for the moral and religious education of the Presbyterian people of Scotland according to their own religious opinions.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he would appeal to the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) to continue his remarks, and to withdraw his Motion for the adjournment of the House.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he had only to say, in reply to the hon. and learned Serjeant's appeal to him as to 825 whether the Lord Advocate had expressed the opinion of the Government, that that which his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate had stated with regard to this Bill was perfectly true; it made no change in the condition either of the Catholics or of the Episcopalians of Scotland. The hon. and learned Serjeant then wanted to know something altogether independent of the Bill. He asked, as he (Lord Palmerston) understood, whether it was the intention of the Privy Council to alter the present system of administering grants to the Roman Catholic schools in Scotland. That was a question which the Committee of the Privy Council would have to consider, but it formed no part of the matter now before the House, and it must, therefore, be left open for the consideration of the Government and of the Privy Council, which would act according to the circumstances of the case. But, as far as the question now before the House was concerned, it was manifest that the hon. and learned Serjeant ought to vote in support of the Bill.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he called upon the hon. and learned Serjeant not to support the Bill, as the noble Lord had given no information as to the intentions of the Government with regard to the Privy Council grants. He had received letters from gentlemen in Scotland, who assured him that a feeling of opposition to the measure was growing up, which would prevent its being carried into operation. The United Presbyterians had met in synod, when forty-three out of 113 who were present voted against the Bill, and even the seventy who approved it objected to the 27th clause. The course they were now taking would, in his opinion, check the progress of education in Scotland, and throw into the hands of Government a power which they would not be able to exercise. He opposed both the present Bill and that of the hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling), as he thought it impossible to take State pay for education of the people without committing moral injustice. He would not press his Motion for adjournment.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 149; Noes 142: Majority 7.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ House in Committee.826
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
said, he had no serious intention of proceeding at that time with the Committee, and should therefore move that the Chairman do report progress.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he hoped the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would consider in the meantime whether, after the division just taken, he would proceed with the Bill at all. He felt confident that the people of Scotland would, if time allowed, express such an opinion as would render it impossible to go on with the measure.
§ The House resumed.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he had moved the adjournment of the Committee for different reasons to that suggested by the hon. Member for Sheffield; but first, because of the lateness of the hour (half-past twelve), and next, because the settlement of the main question by the division just taken would allow many hon. Members who had opposed it to assist the Govern-in concerting any improvements which might be desirable.
§ The House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock till Monday next.