§ Order for Committee read.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he regretted to learn that the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), who had given notice of an Amendment condemning the application of local rates to the support of schools in which the various forms of doctrinal religion were taught, was unable to attend the House in consequence of a domestic affliction. He had intended, had the hon. Member been in his place, to ask him not to press his Amendment at the present stage, in order that the House might go into Committee on his (Lord J. Russell's) Resolutions, when every hon. Gentleman would have an opportunity of fully canvassing them in detail, as well as of considering the Amendment, which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Henley) meant to propose. He was glad to find that a petition which the right hon. Gentleman had presented a few moments previously, although nominally adverse to his Resolutions, was in fact in their favour, because its prayer begged the House not to countenance any untried schemes while the present system worked beneficially and impartially towards all parties. As the existing plan, commended in these terms, 780 was the one which his Resolutions sought to extend, he was justified in reckoning this petition among the rest on his own side of the question. He would now beg to move that Mr. Speaker leave the Chair.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, after the Motion for his leaving the chair was made, it was too late to present a petition.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he thought that he ought to be allowed to present a petition, as it was one of great importance.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he was ready to withdraw his Motion, if it could be done, for the purpose of allowing the hon. Gentleman to present the petition.
§ Motion by leave withdrawn.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he would now beg to lay on the table the petition of the Chairman and Secretary of a Committee of Friends of Voluntary Education in London, against the proposed measures.
§ Motion made, and Question "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair," put, and agreed to.
§ House in Committee, Mr. FITZROY in the chair,
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that as before the Easter recess he had explained at length the Resolutions which it was his intention to propose, it was unnecessary for him on that occasion to occupy the time of the Committee, and he therefore begged to move the first Resolution.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That in the opinion of tins Committee it is expedient to extend, revise, and consolidate the Minutes of the Committee of Privy Council on Education.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he should now in accordance with the notice he had given, move that the Chairman do now leave the chair. In doing so he had taken that course which he thought, according to the forms of the House, would be for the general convenience of hon. Members, and would be most courteous to the noble Lord. It was a disagreeable duty to discharge, but, thinking and feeling as he did on this highly important subject, he felt bound to make this Motion, because it appeared to him that the scheme of the noble Lord bore a close resemblance to that which was brought forward last year by his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington), and, as he had opposed the proposition of his right hon. Friend, he did not see how he could avoid pursuing the same course now that a similar plan was submitted to the House. 781 It seemed to him that the scheme of the noble Lord not only included all the most objectionable features of the plan of his right hon. Friend, but contained some provisions which were still more objectionable, while it did not provide those safeguards and advantages which would have been secured by the scheme of the right hon. Baronet. In looking through the Resolutions of the noble Lord, he had to consider whether it would be most advisable to deal with those Resolutions in detail or as a whole. His first impression was, that the best course would be to deal with them in detail; but when he came to consider the first Resolution, he found that it would be impossible to do so, because that Resolution asked the House to pledge itself to the opinion that it was expedient to extend, revise, and consolidate the Minutes of the Privy Council. The question naturally arose, in what sense those Minutes were to be extended. If they were to be extended in the sense of the other Resolutions proposed by the noble Lord, it was next to impossible to pursue any other course than that of considering the Resolutions as a whole. If, however, the extension was not to have reference to the scheme of the noble Lord, he thought the proposition was too vague, and that the Committee could hardly request the Privy Council to extend their Minutes without indicating the direction in which such extension should be made. He had, therefore, come to the conclusion that the noble Lord's scheme ought to be considered as a whole; and, as he disapproved of that scheme, he had thought the most safe and courteous course was to submit to the Committee a Resolution which he was told was, in that stage of proceeding, equivalent to the previous question, rather than ask the Committee to give a direct negative to the noble Lord's propositions. It appeared to him that this scheme resolved itself into six heads or branches, relating, first, to inspection; secondly, to the formation of districts; thirdly, to the item of charities, and he could not conceive for what purpose the noble Lord had introduced that subject; fourthly, to rating; fifthly, to religious teaching; and, sixthly, to compel masters and employers of young children to pay for the education of such as were below a certain age. The first of these propositions was not open to serious objection but for its vagueness, and the last recommendation of the noble Lord for the establishment of evening schools was a proposal 782 so evidently beneficial that it was almost like the colour of a grey horse, to which nobody would object. He proposed, then, to consider the noble Lord's scheme under the heads he had mentioned. The Committee were asked, in the first instance, without a tittle of information on the subject, to affirm a proposition that eighty school inspectors should be appointed. Why was the number fixed at eighty? Why should it not be sixty, or seventy, or even ninety? Now, that seemed to him a, matter of pure detail, which ought not to be dealt with by that House, but which should be settled by a department of the Executive Government. He would ask the Committee, also, whether they would pledge themselves, as they were thus asked to do, to a system of general inspection of schools throughout the country? According to the terms of the Resolution, such inspection was not to be confined to public schools. Now, he maintained that it was wholly unfit the Committee should enter on those details and be called on to affirm them by a substantive Resolution. But, getting over that difficulty, was it right the Committee should be called upon to affirm a proposition on the subject of the educational wants of the country, and the means of providing for those wants. The Resolution was not confined to any class of schools; it applied to all schools, as the noble Lord's scheme dealt with the whole mass of the population. If the Committee affirmed the Resolution, the inspectors might knock at the door of every ladies' school in London or in the country, and ask, under its authority, what sort of education was carried on in that establishment. He, for one, at all events, did not think it desirable that any such general power should be given by Resolutions of that House. But that was not all. Out of the 30,000 or 40,000 day schools in this country, he did not believe the Privy Council had a right to go into more than some 4,000 or 5,000 at the most. A very large number of the others would shut their doors in the faces of the Government Inspectors; and he could not conceive anything more unwise than for that House by Resolutions to express any opinion which it had not the power to carry out. To go into private day schools, to which the Government did not contribute one farthing of the public money, would be to place the managers in the invidious position of refusing to admit the officers of the Privy Council, or of conceding 783 the very dangerous principle, that private property was to be inspected without its consent. But were there no other objections to this scheme? Were they sure that to attempt to force such an inspection as that upon the people would not create a strong feeling of hostility against all their educational measures? The people of England might be led, but they would not be driven; and it was not at all clear that to send eighty persons of a calibre inferior, as the noble Lord had said, to the present Inspectors, and not, therefore, likely to possess that tact and delicacy which such an operation would require, to visit all the schools throughout the country, would not excite a storm of opposition to this particular measure and react against the extension of education itself, But if the object was only to obtain information, did the House not think that it would effect its purpose more easily and completely by means of voluntary returns from the parties themselves? He did not believe that the managers of schools would hesitate to return parochially the number of children attending their schools, what they professed to teach, and any other information that might be required. Such a return, moreover, would be obtained in less time from the parties themselves than by means of Inspectors, and it would be much more extensive, because, as no one knew better than the noble Lord, there was no inconsiderable section of schools that would not have Government Inspectors at any price or upon any conditions. So much for the question of inspection. He now came to that part of the scheme which, after inspection, gave power to the Privy Council at their will and discretion, without any communication with local parties, to form districts for education. Now what, he must ask, would be the inevitable result of that portion of the scheme? It must necessarily in all small parishes break up the parochial system, for it was as clear as the sun at noonday, that if the Privy Council formed a district of four or five small parishes, it would completely sever the clergymen of those parishes from the school. They could not have four clergymen perhaps with different views on education, combining in a district Committee for the management of a school. He thought the House would agree with him that the religious element should be well cared for and preserved in the national schools. Upon that point the noble Lord, in his speech a few weeks ago, went much 784 further than he had ever gone before. Mr. Kennedy, one of the school Inspectors, stated in one of his recent Reports, that clergymen were so much occupied with the ordinary duties of their parishes, that we must look very much to schoolmasters and schoolmistresses as the religious teachers of the youthful poor. If that he so at present, would not a clergyman find it more difficult to attend to the matter of education if the school were taken out of his parish; and if he were severed from the school, would not the consequences be very mischievous to the population? Passing, now, to another branch of the subject, the noble Lord stated in his sixth Resolution—That, for the purpose of extending such means, it is expedient that the powers at present possessed by the Commissioners of Charitable Trusts be enlarged, and that the funds now useless or injurious to the community be applied to the education of the middle and poorer classes.That was a most important Resolution, and ought to have been brought in as part of a separate scheme. The diversion of the charities of this country was a matter of such great moment, that if the noble Lord had thought fit to deal with it, he ought to have done so substantively, and should not have mixed it up with a subject difficult enough in itself, without such an element of discord being added to it. The Committee must recollect that the noble Lord was one of the Commissioners of charities; nor should it be forgotten that what was done by those Commissioners might come under the review of that House. Had this Resolution been introduced by any other person than the noble Lord, it was quite possible that the mover might have wished by such means to obtain the quasi sanction of Parliament to some most important measures now under discussion. Let the Committee observe the curious wording of the Resolution. The noble Lord proposed not only to deal with such funds as were "useless or injurious;" but, having diverted them from their original purpose, to apply them, not alone to the education of the poor, but to that of the middle classes also. Not content with giving a now direction to the charities, he extended them to a new class of recipients; in short, he took away the money that was given to the poor and applied it to the uses of the middle classes. There had always been a class of politicians who thought that the end justified the means, but hitherto no person had been 785 disposed to rank the noble Lord among that class. The Committee, however, had now an opportunity of seeing what the views of the noble Lord were as to those funds which might be termed "useless or injurious," and the noble Lord could not deny that it was perfectly legitimate to inquire what his opinions were on such a subject. There were some persons who appeared at times to be gifted with a prophetic spirit, and such seemed to be the case with Mr. Fearon, the officer of the Charity Commissioners, who, a year or two ago, published a book in which occurred this remarkable passage:—The wide extent over which the benevolence of founders has in times past spread itself, and the varied objects to which their bounty was applied, have not been sufficiently considered. In many instances it is true that the original objects have ceased to exist; in others they have, from changes in the state of society and other circumstances, become no longer the objects of charity at all; but it will be found on examination that, after deducting the obsolete and useless, there is much, even among charities of the oldest foundation, which, with very little adjustment, might be made suitable to modern habits, and valuable in the direction intended by the donors. These are questions which must be treated with tenderness, as they affect the birthright of the poor.Mr. Fearon went on to say—We have seen able men, with a partial acquaintance only with the details of charities, speaking and writing as if they comprised education only; and those have not been wanting who have insisted that the whole of these institutions should be fused down in the Parliamentary crucible, and be thence remodelled and redistributed according to the existing wants of society, and without reference to the sources whence they were derived or the original intentions of the donors. It is to the enunciation of such sweeping propositions as these, and others of a like kind, that much of the resistance to the measures for the improvement of the administration of charities is to be traced. It has been generally apprehended that, if power were given to vary by ready and simple means the trusts on which any donation should be administered, the minor parochial charities, whether useful or not, would one and all be swamped and absorbed in some wide scheme of popular education.It really would seem as if Mr. Fearon had had a kind of prophetic vision that the noble Lord would, at some time or other, propose such a scheme as he had now actually done with regard to charities. But he (Mr. Henley) would now proceed to give some illustrations of what the noble Lord's views were with respect to what was "useless or injurious." A Report of the Charity Commissioners had recently been circulated; and one of the schemes which it contained had reference to the city of 786 Coventry. Among other charities in that city was one of £500 a year, known as Moore's Charity, and another of £900 a year, called White's Charity, which had hitherto been distributed in the shape of doles of money among the poor of Coventry. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) and his colleagues in the Charity Commission, by the scheme which they proposed, mixed up with those two the great bulk of the other charities of the city, and having stirred them altogether in a sort of hotchpotch, and having provided for a high school and for a clenyman's stipend and other matters, it appeared that there was a residue of £2,000 a year from all the charities, which the Commissioners called the "General Charitable Fund." One would naturally suppose that the "General Charitable Fund" would of course be applied to the poor, and somewhat in the manner in which it had been hitherto applied. But no such thing; when a person got an educational hobby, let the Committee see how he rode it. Out of that £2,000 a year the Commissioners assigned £250 to the hospital, £50 to the dispensary, £250 for fuel, clothes, and other necessaries, and £250 in annuities to the poor, making an aggregate of £800 per annum. Those assignments were all very proper, and were applicable to the poor; but now, what became of the remaining £1,200? £250 was appropriated to evening classes for the poor, as it was said; £250 for lectures, not for the poor, but for all the inhabitants; and the residue, some £700, was to form an industrial school for girls. It appeared, therefore, that only £800 a year absolutely went to the poor, while the remainder was all distributed for educational purposes. Now, he considered that that looked like a pretty strong diversion of the charitable funds of that city. There were some persons who thought that £2 or £3 given to a poor man did him more harm than good; but how had the system of doles worked hithero in Coventry? There were 40,000 inhabitants in Coventry, and he was told that the applicants for those funds were so numerous that it had been found necessary to pass a regulation that the same person should not receive any portion of them more than once in ten years. Let the Committee, however, observe the effect which this distribution had had upon the amount of outdoor relief which was given to the poor. It appeared from the Report of the Poor Law Auditor that in Birmingham 787 the amount of outdoor relief per head of the population was about 11¾d.; in Warwick it was 2s.; in Worcester, 1s. 3d.; and in Banbury, 4s. 3d.; while in Coventry it was only 3¼d. He was quite aware that he might be told that this was only a ratepayers' question; but the fact was, that if the poor people of Coventry were compelled to accept parochial relief they would be disfranchised, He was told that those poor people valued the political franchise, and that they desired to keep it; but "No," said the noble Lord, "I'll ride my educational horse; I'll take this money from you and expend it in lectures, and you shall come upon the rates, and shall consequently lose your franchise." He (Mr. Henley) thought, if there were no other reason, that that alone would be sufficient why they should not, without inquiry, agree to a Resolution that would divert those charities from their original purposes, because the noble Lord thought them useless or injurious. Those charities prevented people becoming paupers, and surely that was neither useless nor injurious. There was a strong feeling among the poor of this country against becoming paupers, but they stood in need of help, which fortunately the bounty of our forefathers had provided for them; and he did not think that the noble Lord should be allowed to take it from them. He now came to that portion of the subject which he feared would at all times be the most difficult in the consideration of this question, and which he really thought the noble Lord might have spared them the necessity of entering upon. He meant the mode of settling what was generally called the religious question, and he felt bound to say that he thought that it would be most unwise for that House to pledge itself to any Resolution so vague as the one proposed on the present occasion by the noble Lord. The noble Lord had on a previous occasion, when he addressed the House upon this subject, pointed out with great truth—and he had referred to the authority of Dr. Arnold in support of the position—that it was impossible to teach a child any system of morality without the instruction being founded on some religious basis; and, in his opinion, the noble Lord might have gone further; and might have said that it was impossible to enter upon the slightest question of morality with a child without making religion the basis of such instruction. Now, the Resolution of the noble Lord pointed out that the Scriptures were to be read in the schools, 788 and indicated that the School Committee were to point out what further religious instruction should be given. The words of the Resolution implied that the reading of the Scriptures should form part of the religious instruction in the schools, but if they were to be read with the view of deducing rules of life and of doctrine a serious difficulty at once arose. A member of the Church of England would say that certain rules and certain forms of sound words had been laid down by good men, and that he believed that to prevent persons going astray it was necessary that those rules and that form of words should be made use of. On the other hand, the Nonconformist and the Roman Catholic would take no such view, but would repudiate such teaching altogether, thus, consequently, a vast number of children would be prevented attending the schools. He believed that immediately schools were placed under the direction of a general Committee, difficulties of such an insuperable character would arise that it would be found that the only method of cutting the knot would be to establish a system purely secular, and to do away with all religious instruction in the schools. That would, he believed, be the unavoidable result, and he felt quite sure that the noble Lord would agree with him that such a result would be a great misfortune, and that the noble Lord himself would be the last under such circumstances to desire to see his Resolutions carried. Having found that difficulty with regard to the question of religious teaching, he next came to the objections which existed to the system of rates itself. He would not go into the question as to how far, under other circumstances, a rate might or might not be possible or desirable, because he thought it unnecessary to make any pledge as to the general question, and he thought that it was undesirable that the House of Commons should pledge itself either affirmatively or negatively upon that subject, because circumstances might take place which would change the whole aspect of the case. But what would be the immediate result of proposing a rate? He would not go into the consideration of a voluntary rate, because persons who did not at present subscribe to schools would not be likely to rate themselves, but would confine himself to the question of a compulsory rate, and, as regarded that subject, the machinery proposed by the noble Lord appeared to him to be most imperfect. The 789 necessity for a rate was to be decided by the Privy Council, but there was no indication that any one should be heard by that Council upon the subject. The Privy Council, upon the Report of the Inspector, were to decide upon the necessity of a rate, and then power was to be given to the quarter sessions—the most extraordinary body, he thought, that could be selected for such a duty, to assess and levy the same. He could not conceive how the quarter sessions were to deal with such a subject. Were gentlemen in wigs to appear before them, some on the part of the parish, contending that the rate should be half a farthing, and others on the part of the Government Inspector, contending that it should be 9d.? Why, in that case, the quarter sessions would have to sit for everlasting, and would not arrive at a satisfactory conclusion even then. That House was disturbed every year, and it had been particularly so that year, by the question of church-rates; and did the noble Lord suppose that in parishes consisting of persons of different creeds the question of school-rates and of the election of a school committee would be more manageable? Suppose the case of a parish equally divided, the Church of England portion of the community, when they had the upper hand, would establish the teaching of the Catechism in the schools in addition to the reading of the Scriptures. Next year the Dissenters might get the superiority, and then the Catechism would be bundled out neck and crop, and the schoolmaster, if he insisted upon the necessity of a certain form of words, dismissed. In the next year the party in favour of secular education might get the upper hand, and then religious teaching would be banished altogether from the schools. He did not think that he had brought before the Committee a state of things which was unlikely to happen, and he felt certain that if it did happen no man in that House would regret it more than the noble Lord, than whom no one was more anxious to have not only a system of education, but a system of education combined with religious teaching. Now, who were the persons who at present most exerted themselves to promote education? They were earnest religious-minded men, and what security was there that if the power of establishing schools was thrown into the hands of the ratepayers generally, and questions such as those to which he had alluded raised, those men would continue their exertions? It appeared to him that those persons, who 790 were now doing all the good in their power, would probably be disgusted and withdraw themselves from taking any further part in the matter, and so that which was at present the greatest help and stimulus to all the good teaching which went on in the country would be lost. He would now come to another objection, and not the least important one, upon which he was afraid he should be compelled to address the Committee at some length. The noble Lord had, for the first time, proposed that the employers of labour, who employed children between the ages of nine and fifteen, should compel those children to attend school and also pay towards their schooling. Now, the noble Lord had, he believed, been led to that proposition by what had taken place with regard to the factory schools; but he did not think that the two cases were analogous. The Committee would recollect that, in dealing with the factory question, the House had before it a great deal of evidence as to the injurious results, or supposed injurious results, to children of a tender ago, from, being kept at work for so many hours at a time. He therefore did not think the two cases were strictly analogous. He found that the school Inspectors complained more or less of the age at which the children were taken away from the schools. The Report of the Rev. Mr. Cook bore a good deal upon that subject. He gave a list, from 1851 to 1855, of the proportion of the children above twelve years of ago that attended the schools in his district. In 1851 the percentage of children in the schools above twelve years of age was 11.28 per cent; in 1852 they increased to 13.43 per cent, and in 1853 to 18.85 percent. The Committee would observe that the proportion went up from 11 per cent to 18 per cent in the period between 1851 to 1853, thus showing that there was no indication of any indisposition on the part of the working people to send their children to school. Those were years of comparative plenty among the working classes, but in 1854 came the war, and then the attendance of children above the age of twelve descended from 18 per cent in 1853, to 7 per cent in 1854, and in 1855 the number was only 10 per cent. It thus appeared that while the attendance had gone on steadily increasing up to the time when there was a great and sudden demand for labour, accompanied with a high price of the necessaries of life, it then suddenly decreased, and it was not yet recorded what was the actual amount 791 of attendance at the present time. That was strong evidence that the poor were induced to take their children away from school from the necessity and desire to obtain the wages they could earn. The noble Lord had not indicated what he contemplated doing with regard to the children above twelve years of age; but that was a most important subject. The noble Lord did not even shadow out what were his views on that part of the subject. He read to the House an extract from Mr. Cook's Report, stating what the children might be required to do up to eleven and twelve years of age. Now that was a remarkable document. The Committee must recollect that the school Inspectors, if he might use the phrase, were the cars and eyes of the Privy Council. When it was found that there was an agreement between the schemes which they published, and when the noble Lord refrained from saying one word in repudiation of those schemes, he must be assumed to approve the method of education up to the point that was indicated by those publications. That was no trifling matter. Mr. Cook, after going through the subjects of reading, writing, arithmetic, English history, geography, the elements of physical science, natural philosophy, the principles of political economy, and drawing, said that all those things were to be attained by boys of fair average attainments at eleven years of age. Now what he wanted to know was, how they were to get all that knowledge? If the Committee agreed to a Resolution to require the masters and parents of children to pay for their schooling, the Committee ought to he prepared to say what they were going to teach the children after eleven years of age, especially when the masters and parents were going to be deprived of half the labour of those children. The noble Lord bad thrown no light whatever on that part of the subject. He read that portion of Mr. Cook's Report, but he neither affirmed nor denied it. In that respect, therefore, the Committee was left quite in the dark. It could not be forgotten that the Rev. Canon Moseley, in 1854, when giving up his post of school Inspector, expressed his regret that the system which had been approved of by the Privy Council had not been successful. He said—It would have been enough, and it would have been far more economical to have provided for the establishment of a sufficient number of dame schools throughout the country. All your Lordships' efforts have hitherto had for their object the perfecting the elementary school. You 792 have entertained a hope that when the children of the poor were found by their parents to have derived more good than heretofore from their attendance at the school they would desire to send them longer. I will not conceal from your Lordships that hitherto this hope has been disappointed. In many cases the result has been the very reverse. The parents have reasoned that the schools being now so good their children can get all the learning they consider necessary for them earlier than they have heretofore done, and therefore they lake them away sooner. And your Lordships' efforts for the education of the people are practically defeated, there being probably more people in this country in proportion to the whole population who are growing up unable to read and write than ever.That was Mr. Moseley's statement; but it was right to say that that statement was not concurred in by the other Inspectors. In quoting the opinions of those gentlemen, he could only express his thankfulness to them for having so candidly put their opinions upon record; and in criticising their opinions, he could assure them he did so from the most sincere respect to them, for the able manner in which they had conducted the work intrusted to them. The next matter to which he would call the attention of the Committee was the opinion of the Rev. Mr. Kennedy, differing, as he did, from Mr. Moseley on this subject. He said, speaking of the superior schools—Thus far, certainly, the schools under inspection in Lancashire and the Isle of Man, present a most pleasing contrast to those painful abodes of noise and dirt, and, I might add, of idleness and ignorance, which were called national schools some twenty years ago. We have order instead of disorder, comparative cleanliness and tidiness in place of dirt and slovenliness, classification instead of confusion, and uniform obedience and reverence in the room of quarrelling, and of positive disrespect alternating with sullenness. So much, at least, is certainly gained in a majority of the more important schools. And all this must produce an excellent moral effect on children.He now came to consider the result of that improvement. That was by no means a light question; because when the Committee was asked to sanction an enactment to compel children to learn more than the parents required, they ought to have evidence of what had been the beneficial result of the system which had been already pursued. The Rev. Mr. Kennedy said—There would be one very serious discouragement, however, attendant upon the very success of a school, if the doctrine be true which I have been informed has been put forth by the Rev. Canon Moseley and others—namely, that where a school is well taught and the children are early 793 proficient, they are taken away from school so much earlier in consequence. I totally disbelieve this doctrine. Though the schools under inspection are thus improved in the respects I have named, yet I have several times heard the remark made by persons of judgment and experience, that the youth who have left even the better national schools during the last ten or twelve years do not carry on their studies as they might be expected to do; and it is even asserted that they do not exhibit any greater intellectual power than those young men who were educated in times when our national schools were less well managed.That was an important statement, coming as it did from such a person as Mr. Kennedy. He went on to answer the question—"Did the parties really retrograde?" He said—The question is, do the scholars who are continually leaving the head classes in our improved schools carry on their mental cultivation? or, on the contrary, do they retrograde in attainments and intelligence? If the latter be the case, there is some great defect in some part of our system which requires to be remedied.Well, he did not leave the matter there; he went on to consider the question which, upon a larger scale, a year or two back, was agitated with regard to the effect of the higher schools. Mr. Kennedy spoke with reference to the existing mode of teaching and gave his opinion upon it. He said—I confess I think there is truth in the statement, that those who leave our national schools deteriorate intellectually rather than improve; and I do not think this is satisfactorily accounted for merely by the early age at which they leave.It was clear that the noble Lord the Member for London and Mr. Kennedy were at issue about the effects of the age at which the children of the poor usually left school; so between them he would leave it. Mr. Kennedy then went on to say that, in England we want at least three grades of schools—an infant or first school, a second school, and a third school; and those he would classify thus:—In the first school, till they could read easy narratives and write and cypher a little; that would be till about six or seven years of age. They would then have to attend the second school till they could read and write well, and till they were perfectly conversant with the compound rules in arithmetic, or even till they had gone through vulgar fractions, and till they could write from dictation and parse an English sentence fairly. … They would gain these acquirements by the time they were about nine or ten years of age, according to their capacity. They should then be expected to attend the third school. Here I should be inclined to propose a 794 great innovation. I would have regular lessons on four subjects only. In the morning the boys should learn a language and drawing, in the afternoon arithmetic or mathematics, and music by notes.Such were the ingenious views of Mr. Kennedy, but he (Mr. Henley) confessed that he was not without serious misgivings as to whether the working men of Manchester would view with much favour the proposal that at the very period when there was the greatest pinch upon their families, their children should be incapacitated from earning wages by being kept at school to learn drawing, arithemetic, mathematics, and music. It was only from such suggestions and recommendations as had emanated from the Government Inspectors that it was possible to gather any notion of what the probable proceedings of the Privy Council would be in the event of that body being armed with power to compel the attendance of children at school. The evidence on the part of the Inspectors was conclusive as to the reason why children were not continued longer at school. It arose simply from the necessity of turning their labour to good account. It was not to be traced to any disinclination to send their children to school among the humbler classes. On the contrary, those classes were most anxious that their children should be taught—it was to be attributed exclusively to the poverty of the parents, which was such that they could not afford to lose the wages of their children. The Rev. M. Mitchell, the Inspector who has the eastern districts of England under his superintendence, has published in his Report, page 310, the following opinion on the subject of dame schools:—I conceive that a, dame school, well conducted, would supply the needs of all parishes with a population under 450, and that the elder children would find accommodation in the juvenile schools of larger parishes neighbouring to them. Such dame or small infant schools might be safely left to the care and management of the ladies in the neighbourhoods in which they might be placed, and would demand only the slightest supervision of the Government, were it deemed necessary to apply such stimulus.Further on (p. 317), in the same Report, Mr. Mitchell touches on the question of recreation—a very proper subject, no doubt, for his consideration, since children cannot learn without it. But what is the kind of recreation that Mr. Mitchell suggests? Had he not seen it in print he could scarcely have believed it, he would 795 entreat the attention of the Committee to the following extract from the rev. Gentleman's Report—It seems to me that more might be attempted in the teaching of games and amusements to the children of our schools. It is humiliating to hear that the English soldier, compared with foreigners, is deficient in means of passing his leisure. Taken as a whole, the life of an English labourer is the dullest and most unpleasing that can be imagined. Away from his work he has no employment, either for the head or hand, and this want of the power of amusement often drives him from had to worse. The man that skulks behind a thicket for game, or rouses the parish in a drunken pothouse brawl, would possibly have found a different occupation had there been a room provided for him, well lighted, and furnished, not merely with books, that he cannot read, but with backgammon or chess, or draughts, or even billiards and bagatelle, the mysteries of which would not take long to learn.Such recreations were probably suggested to the rev. Gentleman by what he had himself seen in certain educational institutions in France, but he (Mr. Henley) certainly considered that they were scarcely suited to the habits and feelings of the English people; nor was it likely that their adoption would find much favour with the working classes of this country. Mr. Kennedy's objections to the present system appeared to proceed on the ground that it was too professorial. He seemed to think that it might be compared to a fire-engine, which after being crammed with every kind of information was discharged by a well trained hand with greater or less force at the children congregated in a schoolroom, the effect being that the children in question were wetted indeed, but not so effectively cleaned as they might have been if the operation had been gradual and performed by themselves. If he had read the Inspector's objections aright, they might fairly be illustrated by some such image as that. It being considered that the system required emendation, Mr. Kennedy proposed the introduction of mathematics that he might conciliate Cambridge, and of classics that he might stand well in the graces of Oxford. That was his plan of bracing up the youthful mind and enabling the children of the poor to buckle to their work. It was ingenious, to say the least of it. The statements in the Reports of the Rev. Mr. Cook and the Rev. Mr. Watkins distinctly proved that the real reason why children were not sent to school by their parents was, not that the parents could not pay the penny a week, but that they could not 796 afford to lose the earnings of their children. With respect to the total amount earned in wages, by children between the ages of twelve and fifteen it had been variously estimated. In statistical papers presented to that House it had been calculated at £3,000,000 a year; but, if the calculation of one of the Inspectors with respect to five or six counties were applicable to the whole country, it would be nearer to £5,000,000. Mr. Cook had slated, that it was no uncommon thing for boys in London to receive 6s., 7s., and 8s. a week. The inconvenience of the plan proposed would be enormous to employers, who would be driven to have recourse exclusively to adult labour. Thus the earnings of many humble families would be reduced, and the parents would be unable to pay for the schooling of their younger children, while they would lose the wages of the elder ones. By such a proceeding a reaction against education might be produced which would go far to check the progress of education for some time to come. But it should be remembered that there was a large class of poor children—numbering hundreds of thousands—who were neither at school nor at work. Those neglected children had the strongest claim upon the care of the State, and yet the noble Lord's Resolutions entirely overlooked them. Moreover the cause of education was gradually gaining adherents among those in every grade of life who had previously been unfriendly to it; and we ought to be on our guard lest, by making it the instrument of inflicting an injury on the employers of labour and their workpeople, we might do that which would arrest the beneficial movement in its favour which had been steadily going on. Mr. Horace Mann, in his work on the census, gave it as his conclusion, that the average period during which the children of the upper and middle classes continued at school did not exceed six years, exclusive, of course, of what was called their "professional education," which commenced at a more advanced age. If that were so, what just pretence could the State have for interfering by the strong hand with employers of labour and with the free discretion of parents in order to enforce a longer attendance at school on the children of the poor than was deemed necessary for the offspring of the higherranks? That would, however, be the effect of requiring the children of the working classes to be kept at school from 797 the age of five to fourteen or fifteen years. He had heard nothing to induce him to believe that so inconsistent a principle could be carried out with any hope of success. Reverting once more to the numerous class of children whom the census tables showed to be neither at school nor at work, the plan of his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) and that of the noble Lord alike omitted to deal with their case. Indeed, the unfortunate position of those children could not be properly grappled with by any legislative enactment. The circumstances in which they stood were so infinitely diverse, differing from each other in almost every great town in the kingdom, that a remedy for their mental and moral destitution could only be supplied slowly and step by step, until the entire body was brought under the salutary influences of educational training. It was much to be deplored that the Committee of Privy Council had not turned its attention to that urgent want. With no grudging or niggard hand had Parliament dealt out the public funds to encourage the exertions of that Committee; and if its labours to promote the spread of instruction had ever been called in question, it was certainly not because their grants wore too liberal, but rather because, in some instances, their mode of rendering pecuniary assistance was too cramped and restricted. If, therefore, the Committee of Privy Council only addressed itself to the laudable task of bringing within the pale of secular and religious instruction that large class of helpless children whom Mr. Cook included in the somewhat singular category of "the Arab population," it would not only be certain to receive an extension of the generous confidence of Parliament and the public, but would elicit the warmest commendation and gratitude from the country. Let them, then, begin with Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, or London, and endeavour to reclaim the thousands of forlorn children who roam about the streets in gross ignorance of their duty to God or man, and an easy prey to every temptation. That was the direction in which the Committee of Privy Council would do well to give elasticity to their Minutes. One plan of achieving that good deed might answer in the north, and a different one in the south, in one place more and in another less of the religious element would be applicable. Any ambitions and wholesale scheme would, however, inevitably fail—the work must be 798 done tentatively and bit by bit. If the number of those unhappy outcasts were reduced in that unpretending but practical way, in any one locality before another, Manchester, he was sure, would not be jealous of what was done for London, nor London of what was done for Manchester. If, however, the plan proved unsuccessful after trial, the Government would, at all events, be able to say that it had striven its best to do its duty and meet a pressing State necessity. Surely the obligation to rescue from ignorance and crime children abandoned by their parents, was far higher than the duty to extend up to fifteen years of age the education of those who now, for a certain time at least, enjoyed the benefits of school instruction. It was, moreover, a far more humane as well as more urgent enterprise than a recourse to forcible measures to improve the quality of education in places where its standard was not exactly what it should be. The State, by stepping in to reclaim a portion of those children, might teach them habits and qualify them for positions which would enable them to set an example to the rest of their class, and also make neglectful parents ashamed of their wickedness and folly. In that mode, by snatching the young, now neither at school nor at work, from a fate which exposed them to be half-starved one day and almost driven to thieving the next to maintain life, incalculable benefit might be done to society, and the aggravated evils of a large neglected, if not criminal, population put in a fair train for being materially redressed. By rescuing those poor children from their present dangerous state, he believed that they would get rid of the great nucleus of the criminal population of the country. It should never be forgotten, however, that instruction was not education. If the State thrust itself forward in the manner proposed by the noble Lord's scheme and meddled with every branch of education, it would at once stand in loco parentis to the whole youthful population of the country; and, in that case, how would it be possible to retain the religious element in our public schools? If it were not possible to maintain that element, to what a condition would the people of this country be reduced when they had been deprived of a system which, if it did not effect all the good that might be desired, was at least founded upon sound principles? The result, considering the difference of opinion on the subject, would undoubtedly be the 799 introduction of a secular system of education. He thought the example of America, to which the noble Lord had himself referred, was conclusive upon that point, and it must be remembered that the system in that country was commenced by parties of strong religious feeling, and that at the time home influence prevailed to a great extent. In this country, with respect to a large class of children it was impossible that any home influence could be exerted. Owing to the great demands which were made upon the time and energies of the working classes in the struggle for existence, it could not be expected that their children would receive any religious teaching at home. It was absolutely impossible that the ministers of religion, earnest, active, and zealous though they were—and he spoke of ministers of all persuasions—could supply this want, for in the large towns especially those ministers were found only in the proportion of one to thousands of the population. If the Committee chose to adopt such a sweeping plan as that now proposed, they would abandon a principle which he believed had tended materially to the stability and security of this country—namely, that all education, from that which was imparted at the Universities down to that which was afforded to persons in the lower classes of society, should be based upon sound religious teaching. Full freedom was given to all, and under the denominational system all religious bodies, according to the light which God had given them, were endeavouring to train and to educate their humbler brethren. He hoped that system would never be abandoned, and, as he thought the scheme of the noble Lord had a strong tendency to overturn it, he begged to move that the Chairman do now leave the Chair.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said the right hon. Gentleman who had just resumed his seat had informed him that he had determined to move the Resolution with which he had concluded, because he thought it would be more courteous to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) than the proposal of a direct negative upon his resolution, and because it would also save the time of the Committee. He thought, however, that the right hon. Gentleman, by the course he had pursued, would not attain either of these objects. It did not seem to him (Mr. 800 Adderloy) particularly courteous, at the instant when the chairman had taken the chair, to move that he should leave it, and thus practically to prevent the Committee from considering any of the noble Lord's Resolutions. He rose immediately after the right hon. Gentleman, because he could propose a plan which he believed was more consistent with the gravity of the subject before the Committee than the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet. The noble Lord had prepared twelve Resolutions, which he desired to submit to the Committee, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich asked the Committee to pass by them all. He thought the right hon. Gentleman would have attained the object he had in view more completely if he had adopted the plan which he (Mr. Adderley) had sketched out in an Amendment he had placed upon the paper. The meaning of the Resolution, "that the chairman do leave the chair," might be intelligible to Members of that House as an analogous course to moving the previous question, which implied that they did not think it expedient to consider the subject at present; but that Resolution would produce the impression on the minds of the people at large, that in the opinion of the majority of that House the existing system of education was satisfactory and sufficient. He (Mr. Adderley) certainly was not prepared to say that he thought the existing state of education throughout this country satisfactory and sufficient; and, although he could not assent to all the Resolutions proposed by the noble Lord, he was quite ready to agree to the first Resolution, but he thought it might be amended so as to render unnecessary several of the succeeding Resolutions. He would divide the noble Lord's Resolutions into three classes. The first class of Resolutions proposed the revision and extension of the existing system of education, which was a system of subsidising schools established by voluntary efforts, by Treasury grants, and placing them under the inspection of the Privy Council. The second class of Resolutions proposed compulsory rates, or the subsidising of voluntary efforts by local rates; and in the third class of Resolutions he would place those which related to the extension of the powers of the Charitable Trusts Commissioners, and the establishment and extending of the system of evening schools and libraries, He thought that, with regard to the third class of Resolutions, no hon. Member of that 801 House—not even the noble Lord by whom they were moved—was sanguine enough to suppose that, considering the advanced period of the Session, the House could come to a vote upon them. He might seem to be guilty of some inconsistency in recommending that they should limit their discussion to the extension of the Privy Council system, and that they should exclude from their consideration the Resolutions which proposed a system of rating, for in the case of the Manchester and Salford Bill he had proposed a system of rating, and he had last year supported the proposition of the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), which involved a similar system. He was firmly convinced that a system of education supported by rates would be the best and most effectual scheme that could be adopted in this country, and it would be consonant with the spirit of our institutions, inasmuch as it would be dependent on a system of local support and administration independent of the Treasury or any central authority. He thought the rate system was the best that could be adopted, because it was the least eleemosynary; but he admitted that at the present moment he regarded it as impossible. He grounded that opinion upon his own experience, and upon the state of things which existed in this country. It seemed to him that there were only three cases in which a national rate for education was possible. First, in despotic countries, where the ruling power could impose a religious creed on the people, as in Austria; secondly, in countries where a creed could be formed by the amalgamation of different religions, as in Prussia; and thirdly, in free countries like the United States of America, where, as in New England, the people agreed to eliminate religion from the system of education, or failing that, established a moral code which had as much to do with Christianity as the enlightened paganism of Greece and Rome. A national rate for education was also possible in countries where the religion was œcumenical, as in Switzerland, where, in the Protestant cantons, schools might be founded on a Protestant basis, and in the Roman Catholic cantons a Roman Catholic basis. So, in Scotland, where the vast mass of the people professed the same creed, a national rate could be adopted. But in England there was neither a despot to impose a religious creed, nor precisely that degree of diversity which admitted the formation of an amalgamated 802 creed, nor yet a disposition to eliminate religion from any general system of education. At present, therefore, a national rate for education was impossible; and he would ask the noble Lord whether he was prepared to obstruct, if not defeat the measure he had prepared by importing into it that which he must know to be impracticable, and which was inconsistent even with the two great objects he had in view, namely, to complete the system of education in England, and to do so upon the existing basis. Why should the noble Lord, for the purpose of increasing his difficulties, embark upon that sea which, as he had stated in his opening speech, was full of rocks and shoals, and strewed with the wrecks of former ships that had tried in vain to navigate its dark and stormy waters? Would the noble Lord prefer a complete failure to an incomplete success? If he boldly asserted the superiority of theory over practice, one could at least understand him, however little inclined to adopt his views; but it was impossible to reconcile his expressed desire to extend the means of education with his proposal to establish a compulsory national rate. He (Mr. Adderley) was, as he had previously said, prepared to vote for the first Resolution, and to exclude all the remainder connected with rates. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), who was the great opponent of rates in that House, had admitted, strangely enough, that the time might come when, the voluntary system having failed or flagged, a national rate might be necessary. He would take the liberty to tell the right hon. Gentleman that both flanks of the question of rates had already been turned, and, unless a sharp look-out was kept, there might soon be an attack in the rear. One flank had been turned by the recent Act for supporting the Middlesex Reformatory School by means of a local rate. In that school one-third of the criminal children of the kingdom received their education; and, whatever the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) might say to the contrary, most persons would admit that reformatories were not only national schools, but the most important of all. The other flank of the question of rates had been turned by the Act for the establishment of pauper schools, which were national institutions based upon local taxation, and also by the Bill passed last Session for placing pauper children in national schools. But all those reformatory and pauper schools 803 were more or less despotically governed; they formed a portion of the Governmental departments of the country, and were not analogous to the voluntarily supported national schools. Hence, although it might be possible in their case to adopt the system of rates, it did not follow that the same system could be extended to the other schools of the country. With regard to the question before the House—that the Chairman should now leave the chair—there could be no doubt that to lead the public to suppose that the House of Commons was unwilling even to consider the expediency of extending the present system of education would be dangerous in the highest degree. If the noble Lord had not introduced his Resolutions, it would, perhaps, have been wiser not to raise the question at the present moment; but now that he had submitted his propositions to the House—now that he had asked them to affirm the expediency of revising, extending, and consolidating the Minutes of the Privy Council on Education—were they prepared to pass from the subject and refuse to consider it? It was absolutely necessary that the Minutes of the Privy Council on Education should be revised, extended, and consolidated. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire had complained of the vagueness of the Resolutions. Why, all Resolutions were vague, and the only fault that could be found with those now under consideration was, that they were not vague enough, but entered too minutely into such details as the number of districts and inspectors. But the right hon. Gentleman had asked how the Minutes were to be extended? In the course of the debate the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) would doubtless explain the mode in which he proposed to extend them; and, meanwhile, it was no matter for regret that the Resolutions had not been made more detailed. As to the necessity of revision, there could be no difference of opinion, for, although the Minutes were now all contained in one Blue-book, he defied any one to understand them. Many of the existing Minutes had only been framed for temporary or special purposes, and many others were either obsolete or contradictory. He therefore thought they should eliminate all those and construct a permanent code, consisting of distinct and intelligible rules, which Would be extremely valuable. The great defect of the present system was, that it did not reach the very classes for which 804 it was originally planned—namely, the pauper, vagabond, and criminal children of this country; and therefore, in framing a new plan, they should endeavour to provide for an extension of surface, so as to reach those 400,000 or 1,000,000 of children—the precise number did not matter—who were now left wholly unprovided with education. Besides extension of surface, however, they should also see that there was restriction of object. The object of the present system appeared to be, not to make ploughboys and mechanics, but to make scholars. Parents did not want that; they wanted their children to be fitted for the pursuits they would have to follow in after-life; and, as they found that was not done in the schools carried on under the present system, they either did not send their children at all, or took them away at too early an age. In considering a proposition, therefore, for compelling parents to send their children to national schools, they ought clearly to understand on what plan those schools were to he conducted; for, if they were to pass a law to compel poor parents to send their children to a school to be made scholars of, they might just as well pass another law to compel the noble Lord to send his children to a school where they would be educated for becoming ploughboys or artisans. The one law would be no more absurd or tyrannical than the other. If, on the contrary, they instituted a proper plan of education, he believed they would hear no more complaints of the reluctance of parents to send their children to the national schools, and that in a short time they would find the great mass of schools throughout the country voluntarily bringing themselves into connection with the Government system.
MR. ELLICE (Coventry)
said, after the observations of the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, he should not have thought it necessary to trouble the Committee with any remarks had it not been for the allusions made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) to the bearing which the Resolutions of his noble Friend the Member for the City of London would have upon the charities of this country, especially upon those of the city which he had the honour to represent (Coventry). He did not wish it, however, to be understood in voting for the first Resolution of his noble Friend, on the principle which had been stated by the hon. Gentleman the Member for North 805 Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley), that that conveyed any approbation of the other Resolutions to be submitted to the Committee. Now he might observe that he did not suppose there was an instance in the history of this country in which an attempt so unjustifiable had been made to confiscate property which had been consigned to trustees to be devoted to those purposes for which it had been left by the founders, and in connection with which so little interference was called for by any imputation upon the conduct of those trustees, as that which had been made by the Commissioners in the case of the charities of Coventry. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had not stated the subject to the Committee in its full extent. A great majority of the charities of Coventry had been specifically granted by different founders for specific objects, and the first complaint to which the Commissioners were open was, that, not satisfied with dealing with those trusts which might be legitimately applied to the purposes of education, they had swept away the whole of them into one general fund, which they had disposed of—as appeared from their Report—rather in accordance with their own caprice than upon any sound or intelligible principle. It might be said that bequests were prejudicial to the country, inasmuch as they tended to encourage sloth and idleness, to the exclusion of industrious habits; but if that were so, why should the Commissioners, in one portion of their Report, support that principle of eleemosynary aid which it seemed in the main to be their object to condemn? They had, as he before observed, swept away the whole of the charities of Coventry, and thrown them into one general fund, a portion of which fund they had applied to educational purposes, and a portion to charitable uses. Now the inhabitants of Coventry strongly objected to the circumstance that the charities which had been selected by the Commissioners should have been preferred to those for which the funds had been originally bequeathed; and he quite concurred with the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in thinking that one of the great objections to the Resolutions of his noble Friend below him was, that they proposed to establish, with reference to charities, a principle which had, until very lately, never been heard of in this country. If charities were applied to improper purposes, or had ceased to be applicable to the uses for which they had been specifically bequeathed, 806 the trustees and other persons interested in them had power to go to a Court of Justice and there obtain a new scheme, which should be for the benefit of all parties, in a manner as conformable as possible to the original object of the founders. But by the Resolutions of his noble Friend no discretion whatever was to be left to any parties, and the restriction was imposed that all the funds were to be applied to purposes of education solely and absolutely. If they once admitted such a principle, nobody in that House could predict where it would end. In Coventry the proposal now made had been objected to in the strongest manner, not only by persons interested in the charities either as recipients, trustees, or managers, but by the corporation, the citizens, and the whole community. Besides, as regarded Coventry, it was the more unnecessary to interfere with those charities for purposes of education, as within the last few years that city had built new schools for 4,000 or 5,000 children, and they had taken every measure that appeared necessary to them for promoting the cause of education; and, beyond that, though he himself objected to the principle of rating, if it were necessary to make a rate for educational purposes, the whole community of Coventry would prefer being rated to having the charities of the city forcibly diverted from the purpose to which they were now applied. He trusted, therefore, that in voting for the first Resolution of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), on the principle that had just been laid down by the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley), he should not be supposed to concur in those other Resolutions which gave the Charity Commissioners power to convert the whole of the charities throughout the Kingdom to educational purposes. [Lord J. RUSSELL: I do not propose to do so.] His noble Friend said he did not propose to do so, but he (Mr. Ellice) found in the Resolutions no limit imposed on the very wide discretion left to the Commissioners. It would be infinitely better to pass an Act of Parliament prohibiting charitable persons from bequeathing funds for particular purposes, than to encourage them to leave their money and make it liable to absolute confiscation hereafter. His only motive in voting for the first Resolution was that, being anxious to promote the cause of education by all fair and legitimate means, he thought they ought to give it as much assistance as they Could, 807 and also because he did not wish it to be supposed that that House was adverse to the principle of education. Before he concluded he begged leave to say a few words in reference to the general question of education in this country. He believed they could best maintain the progress that had been made in the work of public education in this country by giving as much assistance to the voluntary efforts of the people in all directions as the liberality of Parliament would afford. He did not believe it would be possible in this country to institute a system of compulsory Government education, but that by the attempts they had been making in that direction they had arrested many efforts of charitable and well-inclined persons who were only too willing and too anxious to go on with them in the cause of education. If they would only consider the various influences which acted on human nature in that as well as in everything else, they would hesitate before they deprived local parties of the merit to which they would entitle themselves by their exertions in this cause. The same vanity, the pride, and the impatience of interference, which at present prompted cities and parishes to make exertions within themselves for the cause of education would, if not deter, at all events discourage them from making those efforts, if all the credit was to be taken from them by Government officials. The cause of education would be best promoted by encouraging the rivalry, if he might so call it, of different communities, and, he might add, of different sects, and not by placing them all under Government control and bringing them under Government management. At the same time, whatever might be the views of each individually as to the propositions of his noble Friend, he could not conclude without expressing his conviction that the House and the country were deeply indebted to him for the zeal and ability with which he had laboured to promote a cause of so much national importance.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he should be glad if Parliament, before it determined on adopting any new educational scheme, were carefully to consider the merits of the existing system. He believed that high authorities in that House were disposed to underrate the advantages of that system, and it was also his opinion that the country was not fully aware of the valuable effects which had resulted from its operation. For his part, however, he 808 could not help thinking that it would be impossible for the ingenuity of man to devise a scheme better calculated, in the present state of religious opinion, to adapt itself to the wants and the wishes of the country. It was a scheme of non-interference on the part of the Government—it was a scheme by which they only sought to stimulate and to aid local efforts. Nobody need avail himself of it who did not desire it, and those who were prepared to conform to its requirements derived from it the greatest advantages. Under those circumstances they ought to hesitate before they ran the risk of prejudicing a system which had already met with so much success. The noble Lord in his introductory speech the other night, had alluded to the desponding tone that pervaded the Reports of the Inspectors of Education throughout the country. But he (Mr. Liddell) would first state upon that point that the Committee ought not to put too literal an interpretation on the statements of men—intelligent and excellent men, no doubt, but naturally disposed to attach the utmost importance to deficiencies which formed the special subject of their attention. Those gentlemen formed a very high standard of what a system of national education ought to be, and if the reality did not quite reach that standard, they were apt to labour under a feeling of that despondency which pervaded their annual Reports. But he had further to observe, that the reports of some of the Inspectors went to indicate a marked improvement of late in the condition of the schools. The Rev. Mr. Kennedy, for instance, spoke favourably of the progress of education during the last year in the manufacturing districts of Lancashire. The Rev. F. C. Cook bore similar testimony to the improved operation of the system in the metropolitan districts; and the Rev. Mr. Norris gave evidence to the same effect with respect to Shropshire, Staffordshire, and Cheshire. The latter gentleman mentioned the satisfactory working of a system of prize-fees which had been offered by some residents in the local districts of Staffordshire, to encourage the attendance of the pupils, and stated that during the last year there had been thirty or forty fresh applications for inspection, with a likelihood of still further advance. He regarded the report of the Staffordshire prize scheme with peculiar interest, for by the exertions mainly of the hon. and Rev. John Grey, a similar scheme had 809 been recently established in the mining districts of Northumberland and Durham, and he hoped to see equally satisfactory results achieved. He believed it was not so much to the want of schools, or even to the indifference of parents to the education of their children, that our present shortcomings were to he traced, as to the high price of juvenile labour in many of the mining and agricultural districts. Many Members would perhaps be surprised to learn that there were districts in his own country, in which a lad of fifteen could earn double the amount which could be earned by an adult labourer in other and poorer districts of the south of England, such as were to be found, for instance, in Dorsetshire. It was a serious question, therefore, for the Committee to consider, whether it would prevent the employment of so large a portion of juvenile labour, as the noble Lord's scheme proposed. But he was far from saying that improvements might not be effected in the present system, and that it might not be extended with great advantage. With the anxiety which he felt for that improvement and that extension, he looked with great satisfaction at the new measure for the appointment of a Minister of Education, who would have to superintend the system throughout the whole country. He hoped that one of the results of that measure would be a relaxation in certain instances of the conditions on which the Committee of Council on Education had hitherto been prepared to sanction grants from the public funds. He thought that those conditions were sometimes unnecessary, and even frivolous. He knew, for instance, cases in which the Committee of Council on Education had insisted on a school having a boarded floor, and not a brick floor. Before he sat down, he wished to make a few remarks on some portions of the speech delivered by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) the other night; but before he proceeded to discharge that duty, he begged to say, that he was anxious to speak of the noble Lord with the greatest deference and respect, and that he believed one of the brightest features in the noble Lord's bright career, was the devotion he had always evinced to the promotion of the great cause of the education of the poor. The noble Lord had, he considered, spoken somewhat harshly of schools of an inferior class known by the name of "dame schools." Now, it was perfectly true that the acquirements of the 810 teachers in those schools were in general of an humble order; but it was also true that those teachers might be more likely than men of high education to instruct young children in those rudiments of knowledge which was all they could be expected to be able to acquire. The ages at which the great majority of the children of the country were at school were six, seven, and eight years. What was the amount of acquirement which would be considered satisfactory at those ages? Surely, if a child could read, write, and know something of arithmetic, it was all which could be fairly expected, and he thought the dame schools were fitted to impart that amount of instruction. He believed much good would result from inducing schools to form groups in rural districts, as one central school of an advanced character might be made to receive the more promising pupils from a large number of the more elementary schools. He repeated that the present system, on the whole, worked well, and he hoped the Committee would pause before they determined on its destruction. They had heard much of the great effects of the compulsory system of education in Prussia, in the United States of America, and other countries. But he very much questioned whether the Prussian system, if tested by the condition of Prussian society which recent events had rendered only too notorious, and that among the highest classes, showed any advantage over the system by which the people of this country were educated. With respect to the United States, he would only observe that Mr. Seymour Tremenheere, who had taken the trouble to go through the leading states of America, to ascertain the state of religious instruction in those States, said—The example of what has occurred and is occurring on that subject in the United States, cannot be referred to as a solution of our own difficulties, or as a safe guide upon a path upon which we have not yet entered.The noble Lord proposed to support the schools by an educational rate to be raised in those districts which, from poverty or want of zeal, did not make sufficient provision for the educational requirements of the people. But it was evident that a poor district was not the fittest field for the imposition of a fresh tax, and it was equally clear that such a measure must be calculated to increase the hostility to an educational provision of a district in which that hostility was already but too strongly 811 developed. That consideration should induce the noble Lord to consider well the step he proposed to take. He (Mr. Liddell) at all events was convinced, that the schools supported by a compulsory rate must necessarily be secular schools, and that no religion could be taught in them, from the impossibility of reconciling persons of different sects and opinions to any one form of religious teaching. The noble Lord endeavoured to frame a Resolution under which employers would be compelled to provide for the education of the children in their employment. But the noble Lord only dealt with that portion of the children of the country who were adding to its productive industry, and who were contributing to the support of their families; and his Resolution for a compulsory education would not extend to those vagrant and unhappy children who stood far more in need of his interference. The noble Lord ought to consider the great injustice he would do to the parents of employed children by his proposal—a proposal which would be equivalent to an enormous tax on many industrious families. What appeared to him (Mr. Liddell) to be most wanting for the education of the poorer class of children, was some enactment that would unite the provisions of the Act known as Mr. Denison's Act, passed in the last Session, and the provisions of the law now in force for the schooling of vagrant and destitute children in Scotland. But if they were not to have a compulsory system of education, and if they were not to support their schools by rates, to what were they to look for the promotion of education in this country? He believed that the poor man kept his children at school so long, and so long only, as he believed was necessary to fit them for the station they had to fill in after life. He believed that in proportion as that station was raised, and in proportion as greater scope was given for merit and intelligence in every branch of industry, in the same proportion would the inducements of the poor man to educate his children be multiplied. Such inducements were held out by the recent adoption of the system of competition, examination for offices in our civil service at home, and in the civil service of the greatest of our foreign dependencies, namely, India. Another great inducement to the poor man to educate his children, was to be found in the increased demand for skilled labour which had arisen of late years in this country. 812 Every railway, every telegraph and factory created a new demand for skilled labour; and even in our agricultural districts, the introduction of a variety of new and ingenious machines called for a higher degree of intelligence on the part of those who were to work them. There could be no doubt, for example, but that steam thrashing machines and saw mills required more skill than the line and the flail which had preceded them for so many ages. The incentives to education were therefore daily increasing; and he could not help thinking that they might look with far greater confidence to the operation of those natural causes than to any compulsory enactment for the extension of that great blessing.
§ MR. WARREN
Sir, I should not have ventured to rise on such an occasion as this, for even the few minutes I intend, had I not felt constrained, and even oppressed, by a sense of public duty. The vast question now before the House, which has occupied my thoughts for years, is, indeed, one of the most difficult that I can imagine proposed for the consideration of a deliberative assembly; and I must beg to express my opinion that the grave and statesmanlike spirit in which the noble Lord the Member for London brought forward his Resolutions the other night, was such as to conciliate the respect of the House, and produce a favourable impression on the country. Sir, any one, independently of the anxiety of addressing this House for the first time, may be forgiven for feeling oppressed at approaching the subject before us; for no Parliamentary question stirred in my time, has appeared to me so beset with deep-seated, widespread, and closely-connected difficulties, as that relating to the expediency of establishing a comprehensive system of national education. If you view those difficulties from a little distance, the more formidable and threatening they appear in disposition and outline; if you come nearer, their ramifications into men's interests, passions, and convictions, seem endless. Sir, those are the best friends of the cause of popular education who are most deeply impressed with a sense of those difficulties, after a patient survey of them; for such persons will be cautious and conciliatory, without faltering in their resolute determination. The worst enemies of that cause, are those who overlook or undervalue those difficulties, on the one hand, or on the other conjure up imaginary ones, or easily listen to those who represent them as insuperable, 813 and quickly give up their harassing efforts—for harassing they are to an honest and energetic spirit—with a sort of willing despair. Other enemies are to he found among those who, though with the best intentions, are superficial and rash in dealing with this truly Imperial question; who expect either too little, or too much, from the Legislature or the people; who are so wedded to their own views that they would prefer seeing the ship founder if they are not allowed to grasp the helm; or who, finally, are influenced by illicit but unavowed motives and objects, or unjustifiably and with levity impute such to their opponents.
Sir, there are so many in this House possessing minute special knowledge on this subject, that I shall not attempt to deal with the details involved in the noble Lord's Resolutions—and indeed I trust I may be pardoned for saying that preceding speakers (this evening) appear to have prematurely superinduced details upon a discussion which ought to be confined solely to one of principle—the great principle which alone is now before the House. I shall, therefore, content myself with two or three remarks of a general nature, such as may appear to come fairly within the scope of the noble Lord's Resolutions. Sir, one or two who have preceded me have almost taunted the noble Lord with making a new adventure on this question, after so many previous failures by himself and others; but, for my part, I think both he and the right hon. Baronet below me, the Member for Droitwich—his friendly and able rival in this cause—are on that very account entitled to be dealt with all the more tenderly and considerately. Though these difficulties may have disheartened men of ardent and sanguine temperaments, I really cannot persuade myself that those difficulties are to be deliberately pronounced by a British Legislature insurmountable; that there is something so prodigiously exceptional in the nature of the English people and their institutions—we are of so very special an idiosyncrasy—that what has been done prosperously elsewhere, in States of opposite political conditions—free States and despotic, republican and monarchial, young and old, great and small—cannot be even attempted here in free, constitutional England! Sir, after the most dispassionate and honest consideration which I have been able to give to ably stated arguments, and especially those contained 814 in certain papers submitted to myself, and, I suppose, all other hon. Members, and in which the noble Mover of these Resolutions is spoken of, I must say, in a tone of acrimonious hostility which might have been spared; and aware that I differ on this subject from many right hon. and hon. Friends around me, some of whom I have known half my life, I feel that I am bound to express in my place what my conscientious opinions are, for which purpose alone I conceive I was sent into this House. Sir, I am thoroughly satisfied that the time has at length arrived for the Legislature to assume a more resolute attitude, a more peremptory and authoritative tone, than it has hitherto ventured to adopt on this subject, though it has several times been on the point of doing so, but been deterred by the same opponents who are now again marshalling their ranks against State education, under the flag of the voluntary system. Sir, no one feels more profoundly grateful than I do for the noble and long-continued exertions, by public bodies and private individuals, in the cause of voluntary education, and of whose services we have heard so much just and fervent eulogy this evening; but I must say, that I am as completely convinced that their self-imposed task is too much for their strength—they have not educated, and cannot educate the nation. Thinking men of all classes, and of every shade of political and religious opinion, are getting disquieted by the lengthening retrospect of our timidity and vacillation. They fully recognise a crying exigency, and the abortive efforts made to meet it; and feel that longer to continue them—to rely on them alone—will argue a sort of legislative imbecility and even cowardice, unworthy of a country making such, pretensions as ours to power and enlightenment. Sir, the voluntary system has done, and is doing, well, and admirably, as far as it can; most ignorant, most presumptuous, and most ungrateful must be he that would attempt to gainsay the fact for a moment. But what I am disposed to say on this matter is—and, as I understood him, with the noble Lord—let the disinterested supporters of the voluntary system continue their Christian efforts, and regard a Christian Legislature in a friendly spirit, as disposed by no means to supersede and extinguish them, but to strengthen their hands by its powerful co-operation, in quarters where, without it, those hands are not able to grapple effectually 815 with popular ignorance. That word "co-operation" contains as I think the pith of the noble Lord's scheme. Neither myself, as a Member of this House, nor the noble Lord opposite, nor the right hon. Baronet below me, nor any one on either side of the House, friendly to the noble Lord's Resolutions, entertains the notion of struggling against the advocates of the voluntary system, but of supplementing their deficiencies—of fighting side by side with them against a potent common enemy. Do not let them for a moment suppose that the State is disposed to discourage them, nor distrust its intentions. Sir, believe me the voluntary and permissive system has failed—is found wanting—is inadequate to the exigencies of the age. Long enough have we invited and besought guests invited to the banquet, but in vain; and at length a voice is heard, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in." Compel? Whom? Why those very classes—those germs, or rather hapless recruits, of our future dangerous classes—at whom the noble Lord's Resolutions are aimed with such a solicitous benevolence. When I talk of compulsion, I do not mean a harsh, legal compulsion, outraging the sanctities of feeling and conscience, but a moral compulsion—an indirect compulsion, coming discreetly in aid of that sort of direct legal compulsion contemplated by the noble Lord's Resolutions, and which I do not think go, in this respect, too far. Sir, I own the noble Lord's statistics the other night, vouching the accuracy of those of the right hon. Baronet below me, startled me, as a Member of the Legislature, and I involuntarily exclaimed within myself, "Something must be done." They disclosed a fearful extent of moral waste, so to speak, in this country; soil totally uncultivated, or cultivated badly, but from which, if only cultivated according to the rules of good moral husbandry, might be obtained such rich, abundant crops of public virtue and happiness. Oh, Sir, let us fix our eyes steadily on this great want of this great age—at this remarkable crisis of national development—and ask, how has this want continued so long, and what will be the consequences of its longer continuance, and even increase? Let us bestir ourselves and look at every individual of these neglected children, with our whole heart's solicitude, as really one of those immortal spirits of which this Christian State is an aggregate, but which it is 816 guiltily deserting; let us realise these considerations, in the depth of our consciences, till they kindle an inextinguishable sense of personal responsibility, impelling to instant and vigorous combined action; and do not let us perch ourselves on points of sectarian difference, and be squabbling about them, while those poor souls are perishing. But, Sir, when the State seems at length roused to something like a sense of its duties—feeling them, indeed, to be correlative with its rights to the services of its members, it is forthwith told, forsooth, that it must not stir a step in that direction—reclaiming this moral waste—because it will overleap or beat down the sacred safeguards of civil and religious liberty. Sir, I do ask the House to look closely at this grand argument, the unsubstantial substratum of so much showy opposition, so perseveringly and vehemently urged, and see what a strange paradox it resolves itself into. Our very strength is the source of our weakness! We are so powerful that we are powerless; so very free, that we fall into slavery—slaves to that most pitiless of tyrants over a nation—ignorance, and her ally vice! And must it really go forth among the nations that England is so free that she cannot educate her sons? That where most power is enjoyed by the people, there the very least can be done to guide its exercise into a safe direction, and prevent its being turned into an engine of destruction? Sir, this is not, and cannot be so. Do not let us, in the middle of the nineteenth century, stultify ourselves, and, indeed, assail the very source of our strength and safety, by converting that noble thing—liberty—into that ignoble and dangerous thing—licence, and under the mask of religious liberty conceal the hideous features of irreligious licence, thus libelling the name of freedom. Sir, civil liberty is, in the language of Bishop Butler, "a severe and a restrained thing," and there is incorporated into its essence a recognition of authority. We are perpetually pruning the excrescences of liberty, and limiting the degree and direction of its exercise and action, whenever we deem the safety of the State to require it, and thus we keep our liberties healthy and blooming. See how boldly—it is quite a feature of modern legislation—we interfere, Session after Session, and Parliament after Parliament, with liberties deemed most delicate and transcendant—the liberty of the person, of labour, of property—subjecting 817 all to restrictions which a low degree of civilisation could not tolerate. What, for instance, was the nature of that marvellously bold statute, the Incumbered Estates Act? I could mention many others of a similar character, even with reference to this very matter of education—in the case of factory children and their employers—in which the Legislature has peremptorily enforced its will; and yet, when the noble Lord invites it to aim at the extirpation of a great moral evil—a cancerous disease of the body politic—he is encountered by a fierce cry that he is rashly interfering with the liberty of the subject, and introducing a principle of compulsion. I must repeat that this charge has been used against him in bitter, uncharitable terms, whereas it seems to me that the tone and temper of the speech in which he brought this vast subject before us, demanded that he should be encountered in a far different spirit—one of great respect. The noble Lord does not, after the best consideration I have been able to give his Resolutions, appear to me to contemplate any violation of the true liberty of the subject. Sir, I shall not presume on the indulgence which the House usually accords to a new Member, to say much of what I had intended on this vitally important subject, but I beg leave to add a word or two for the purpose of saying that the House will do but scant justice, nay, very great injustice, to these Resolutions, if it do not look at them as a whole, and as complementary to what has been done, and is doing, voluntarily, in the matter of education. They indicate distinctly the nature and extent of the existing machinery for the purposes of education, and the alterations necessary to enhance its efficiency. Where it is deficient, add to it—where its action is imperfect, correct it—undoubtedly with the greatest possible circumspection; but do not let the noble Lord be found fault with for so doing, for saying boldly, I see great patches of arid soil, of moral waste, which you have not, with all your efforts, yet been able to reach, therefore consider my scheme, and lend me your co-operation. Sir, I am as zealous a friend of voluntary education as any one in the country; I am heart and soul in the cause, for I deem its success of incalculable moment; but I do not believe that the excellent and pious labourers in this vineyard will give up their efforts from pique, or unworthy motives, on the prospect of State co-operation. Sir, one 818 feature of this debate must be cheering to the nation at large, which has constituted us an exponent of its wishes and will, I mean the conviction expressed on all sides, that without religion education is worse than useless—a mockery, a delusion, and a snare. However great may be the difficulty of dealing with the matter viewed in this aspect, I say, let us do something, let us make a beginning. It is the duty of the State to educate—of a Christian State to give Christian education:—In a Christian commonwealth," says that most illustrious ornament this House ever possessed, Edmund Burke, "the Church and the State are one and the same thing, being different integral parts of the same whole. Religion is so far from being out of the province or duty of a Christian magistrate, that it is, and it ought to be, not only his care, but the principal thing in his care; because it is one of the great bonds of human society, and its object the supreme good, the ultimate end and object of man himself.Well, Sir, if that be so, this Christian State, as it has rights over its subjects, and can command their best services, must also perform its duties; and what so paramount as that of education? And what these Resolutions affirm is, that as no effective system of national education exists, and it is plain none will exist, unless the Legislature interfere, not only has it a right, but it is its bounden duty, to interfere. With reference to the machinery for carrying the proposed Bill into effect, I own I contemplate it with deep anxiety, for many portions of it are open to objection; and as to one in particular, the alienation of the property of charities, I must really appeal to the noble Lord to reconsider it, for I foresee that it will expose him to fierce and implacable resentment and opposition. I do not want to exaggerate or add to the difficulties but too closely environing the noble Lord, of a nature which we all witnessed the other night on the Local Dues Bill; but I beg him to try and discover some other means of effecting his object less sure of kindling intense hostility. I say all this with a full appreciation of the comprehensive caution with which the noble Lord seems to me to have framed his Resolutions. I am very grateful to the House for having listened to me thus far. I can assure it that I feel oppressed, in rising to offer these remarks, after the powerfully argumentative speech of the right hon. Gentleman below me, the Member for Oxfordshire. But I feel compelled to differ from him, and should ill 819 discharge my duty as an honest, independent Member of the Legislature, if I did not act on my convictions, and frankly state the grounds of them. I do hope the noble Lord, with reference to opposition out of doors, will not be alarmed by an ugly array of big words. I hope he will not be fated to realise his own pathetic and picturesque description, in opening his address to us—that he will not dash his hark against those sunken rocks that have wrecked so many noble vessels, whose fragments are floating fearfully around him—but calmly and steadily stand by the helm, and so steer and set his sails as to catch the favourable wind and current of public opinion. Before sitting down, I beseech hon. Members on both sides of the House, however great their admiration of the voluntary system, not to attach an undue significance to the word "compulsion;" that they will consider how anxiously the eye and the heart of England are fixed upon them at this moment, and determine to deal with the great principle now involved, resolutely, and in a high, an Imperial spirit, and recognise in these Resolutions a principle, not of superseding the voluntary system of education, but simply supplementing its deficiencies. The noble task before us is the education of the people of England; and I would conclude in the words with which Lord Coke closes one of the great sections of his Institutes,—"Blessed shall he be that layeth the first stone of this building; more blessed that proceeds in it; most of all, that finisheth it, to the glory of God, and the honour of our King and nation!"
§ MR. W. EWART
said, he was glad to recognise in the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken in such eloquent terms, a friend to education. The hon. and learned Gentleman said he hoped the noble Lord would reconsider that portion of his Resolutions which proposed the application of certain charitable funds to educational purposes. But he (Mr. Ewart) did not consider that the noble Lord's propositions involved any alienation of those funds from the purposes intended by the founders, but rather to restore them to purposes more conformable to the real intentions of the founders, having regard to the altered circumstances of the times in which we lived. He would remind the House of the great benefits that had been derived in that respect from the labours of the Charity Commissioners. This fact was recorded in their Report, just laid before 820 the House, that no less than 836 voluntary applications had been made from charity trustees in different parts of the country, calling upon the Commissioners to interfere, to rescue them from a state of spoliation and to place their foundation on a better footing, in order to carry into effect, according to the notions of modern times, the undoubted intentions of their ancestors. The Commissioners had themselves considered and disposed of 3,000 cases of charities. He thought, that the Resolutions of the noble Lord would afford additional advantages in the same direction. The hon. Member for Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) seemed to think, that in these times our engineers, the labourers in our factories, and similar persons, received from their very occupations and habits of life a kind of passing instruction, which rendered unnecessary a more regular and more intellectual system of instruction. But the hon. Member should recollect, that one of the main features of that system of education was to render the recipients little better than mere practical machines; and that, unless the artizan were educated in the true sense of the word—intellectually and morally—he would become a part of that great system of mechanism in which he constantly moved. The danger of modern times was not that men would become too highly educated, but that they would be mere instruments in working out the great principle of the division of labour. They had arrived at that position in this country in reference to education at which they could not long remain stationary; but at the same time, he thought that if the noble Lord had paused he would have done wisely; he should have waited for public tendencies to develope themselves; before long the people would awake to the necessity of taking the question into consideration. He felt bound to state that as his honest conviction, because, although he might find upon consideration that some, or the majority, of the noble Lord's Resolutions would meet with his hearty concurrence, yet there were others upon which the pulse of the public should have been felt, and there were serious points involved which should not have been ventured upon until they had had a pretty strong indication of public opinion. Notwithstanding that he thought the noble Lord had gone a little too far upon some points, there was little doubt that they must come to an understanding very shortly upon the establishment of an educational rate. He (Mr. Ewart) had, 821 indeed, always been a very strong advocate for establishing a rate for educational purposes. He believed that a rate for education was the real system upon which they ought to base their future operations; that indeed was to some extent a principle in the Resolutions of the noble Lord. Any attempt to suggest a substitution for it, would only amount to an indefinite postponement of a sound national system. He must, however, once more repeat his often-expressed opinion, that an Educational Rate was the grand consummation to which they must come at last. At present they were paying out of the Exchequer enormous sums for the support of education, and the establishment of an educational rate would be a simple mode of transferring the application of these sums from the general system of the country to the local system, whereby it would be rendered responsible to local influences. At present the system by which the public money was expended for the purposes of education was so complex, that the very officers of the Committee of Council of Education did not understand it. It was an involved, intricate, elaborate system, wanting the simplicity of a general principle; reminding him of Milton's description of the celestial system—With centric and eccentric scribbled o'er Cycle on epicycle, orb on orb.With a rating system, he did not despair of uniting a system of centralised control which should not at all interfere with educational liberty; he conceived that it was perfectly possible to combine a rating system with one of administration which should be under the direct control of that House. He had always been an advocate for establishing a Minister of Education, who should make to the House and the country an annual Report on Education. Indeed he had sixteen years ago made a Motion on this subject; and the Ministry had, to a certain extent, adopted the suggestion. Such an addition to our educational system would combine perfect freedom of education with the principle of rating, and responsibility to Parliament—and these be looked upon as the three great desiderata. He observed that a noble Lord in the other House, the Lord President of the Council, had introduced a Bill providing for a system of rating in connection with this subject, which would, no doubt, in due time, come down to that House. It was simply a permissive Bill. 822 It, perhaps, was very right to begin with a permissive measure, but he (Mr. Ewart) believed that they would eventually conclude with a system similar in its character to that of the United States, and which existed, in principle, in Scotland. In both countries that system had been distinguished by marked success. It was the genuine offspring of well-regulated freedom. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had been attacked for his proposal of a division of the country into educational districts, and for the introduction of n system of inspectorship. He (Mr. Ewart) could only say, that he knew of no possible means of reforming the present educational system of the country, unless they did divide it into educational districts. How were they to arrive at the due proportionment of the means of education to the persons to be educated except by such means. Instead, therefore, of blaming the noble Lord for his proposal, he thought he was deserving of praise. The extension of the system of Inspection was proposed to enable them to arrive at a knowledge of the existing Educational wants of the country. Nor could the noble Lord be justly condemned for the introduction, to a certain extent, of a system of compulsion into his scheme. Direct compulsion never could be introduced into this country; but they had already introduced an indirect system of compulsion. Factory owners were obliged to send their children to school, and to produce a certificate of their education. Why should the people employed in factories be subject to this compulsion while the workmen in other departments of human labour were exempt? It appeared, then, to follow as a natural conclusion, that if they adopted this indirect species of compulsion in the one case, they might in the other; and although it might possibly be difficult to apply the principle in the agricultural districts, yet he thought it might be done, not by taking them from their employment at particular hours in the day, but by arranging that children should be sent to school for certain days of the week, and to labour for certain other days. The public exigencies required that some improvement in education should take place. For the sake of the children themselves the Legislature ought to protect them from the cupidity of the employer on the one hand, or of the parent on the other. With reference to the question of religion, it was quite impossible to look at the subject in any other light than 823 one. The object and scope of all education was to make the people more religious, but there were many different opinions as to the best method of doing so. He did not hesitate to say that his opinion was, that, while in school the master was the best teacher of secular matters; the clergy of the various denominations were the best teachers of religious matters, and that to them should be given the direction of the religious instruction in national schools; provision being made that no child should be without ample religious instruction from the spiritual teacher of its own, or of some religious creed. That was a far better and more religious plan than allowing the schoolmaster to make a task of scripture, or to indulge in theological disquisitions which might play around the heads of the children, but which could never touch their hearts. On this important point agreement would finally be attained. Time alone would show their present difficulties. He repeated that he thought it would have been safer if the noble Lord had paid more regard to the influence of time, and had waited. But he cordially supported him in most of his principles. The question could not remain long in inaction and obscurity. The wants of the nation were pressing. Its existing educational state was disgraceful to us all. If a country like this consented to remain as we are, it would deserve (if he might borrow a phrase from the prose works of Milton) to remain "eternally benighted."
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, the main argument of his hon. Friend the Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) on behalf of local rating was, that it called into play that tendency to local self-government which was eminently characteristic of this country; but the object first to be consulted was, how education could be best imparted to the people. If they were bound to regard not only the direct but the subordinate effects which were sure to follow from the imposition of a local rate, not the least important of these was, that it would be pretty certain to dry up the whole current of voluntary contributions. It would be difficult to mention a single institution in all England which, having been once charged upon a local rate, ever afterwards received the slightest assistance from the spontaneous subscriptions of the benevolent. It was not in words to say how much love of country, how much good feeling and practical humanity, would 824 be stifled throughout the country by a local rate. Another argument against it, which ho had never heard answered, was based on the manifest injustice of imposing a local rate for national purposes. It was a favourite saying that education was a national duty. If so, it was a duty that ought to be discharged by the whole nation. But those on whom the proposed rate would fall could not he so regarded. They were but a part of the nation. It had been calculated that the sum of sixpence in the pound on the rateable property of the country would produce £2,000,000, the estimated amount required for the Education rate. A similar impost on the funded property would yield £700,000. But the funded property was to be held exempt—wherefore he had never been able to understand. Our mines, again, were generally supposed to furnish a fair proportion to the ignorance of the nation. Why, then, should mines be exempted from contributing to the education of the people? It was to be feared that with much moral depravity there was also not a little mental darkness in the seaports; yet shipping also was to be excused from the tax. So, too, were the mighty commerce and the prodigious wealth of London. In fact, more than one-half of the property of the nation was to be excused from a tax which had nothing on earth to recommend it except that its purposes were national. Could there be greater inconsistency? If the whole of the nation was to benefit, let the whole of the nation pay; otherwise there would be a fatal taint of injustice on their entire system. Indignantly repudiating the charge of desiring to keep the country in ignorance, he would sanction any assistance that might be found necessary, so that it was given from the Treasury and paid alike by all; but he would never cease to protest against the idea of charging one portion of the national property—and that the smallest—with burdens from which, in common justice, none should be excepted. Another feature in this question which did not appear to have attracted attention was, that the liability of ratepayers to build schools would probably have to be accompanied with a power to compel the attendance of children. The State, having entered into a compact with the rate-payers, would be bound to take care that their money was not wasted, and that could only be effected by obliging the children—at whatever cost to their 825 parents—to frequent the schools. The injustice of such a proceeding was palpable. £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 sterling represented the annual value of the wages earned by the children of the poor, and precisely to that amount did they propose to tax the working men of this country on behalf of education. Suppose a labouring man had 12s. a week, of which two children earned 4s. a week, by sending them to school he would lose one-third of his income. That was a point that had scarcely obtained, either from the newspapers or from Parliament, as much notice as its importance merited. If they were to compel the fund-holders to contribute £9,000,000, which would be only one-third of their income, the subscription would amply satisfy the requirements of national education; but there was no man in that House so insane as to make such a proposal. Yet the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) would not hesitate to inflict an exactly similar burden on the starving operative classes of this country. The time might come when compulsory education would be a necessity of the State, but when that period arrived it would be difficult to evade the claim of poor parents to be compensated for the loss of their children's wages. There was, however, a far more formidable objection to the plan. So soon as a rate was proposed the religious difficulty would have to be encountered. Keeping clear of a rate, we should keep clear of that difficulty. The present system was simple enough. The people had a strong conviction of the importance of religion, and each man wished to educate his children in his own religious belief, and the whole of it. But the moment that simple system was departed from we should get into inextricable difficulties. The solution suggested by the Manchester school was simple enough—secular education. But, then, all classes concurred in denouncing it. Another solution was the suggestion that the children in our schools should be educated in the "grounds of our common Christianity," in those points of belief on which all Christians were agreed. But however plausible that expression might sound, he had never yet heard what were those articles of religion on which all classes of Christians were agreed. He defied any person to name one single article (beyond the existence of God) in which all who called themselves Christians were agreed. Consequently that solution was an absolute delusion. Then others 826 proposed as a solution the reading of the Scriptures. But the answer to that was, that there had been a just complaint that the British and Foreign School Society, which had been instituted for the express purpose of teaching upon the "common, ground" of Scripture without regard to distinctive religious differences, had so selected their Scripture lessons that only Trinitarian doctrines were inculcated. Against their system that was a just objection, for it showed an inconsistency, and it proved this, that the teacher who had the power of reading what portions of Scripture he pleased, would practically have the power of teaching distinctive doctrines, for there would be no difficulty with such a power of selection, to inculcate any doctrine from Scripture. Then there was the solution of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington), which was that a distinctive form of religious belief should be taught in the schools, but that all children whose parents objected might be withdrawn from it and placed under some other religious instruction. Now, his (Lord R. Cecil's) objection to that was, that it would lead, not to error, but to absolute infidelity. If the poor saw different forms of religious belief alike allowed to be taught under the sanction of the State, they would naturally think that all forms of religious belief were really regarded by their rulers with indifference, and that the matter was merely one of policy and expediency; and he could conceive nothing more likely to lead them to infidelity. The Committee had no idea of the extent to which different religious sects were already mixed up in our schools. In the National School at Merthyr Tydvil he found, from the Report of the Inspector, that there was the following variety:—
How was such a system to work, when the poor saw one form of religious belief after another withdrawn because objected to by one parent or another, until none was left at all? The natural conclusion would be that their rulers regarded all forms of religion as equally worthless. He objected to the proposed Resolutions upon those grounds—because they rested on an unjust system 827 of taxation; because they led inevitably to a system of compulsory education; because the result must be to tamper with the very principle of religious belief, and not only to lead the people into error but to render them incapable of any solid or settled belief at all.
Church of England … … … 5 Baptists … … … 29 Independents … … … 37 Methodists … … … 4 Reformers … … … 1 Unitarians … … … 3 Mormonites … … … 13 No religion at all … … … 20
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he thought that the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst (Mr. Warren) had fitly described the difficulties which beset this question in a speech not unworthy of his literary fame. It was much to be desired that hon. Members would approach this subject in a more humble and modest spirit, and with a little less confidence in their own predictions as to the probable effects of this measure, than had been displayed by some who had preceded him. The question before them was one with which they must be satisfied to deal tentatively and experimentally. The peculiar habits of thought and political traditions of other nations—their form of Government and their national character—rendered their educational system very unsafe guides to be followed by this country. The only exception to this was presented by the United States, the people of which, although living under institutions somewhat different from ours, were yet marked by the same independence of spirit, tempered by obedience to authority, which constituted the greatness of the British name. Those who said in an invidious sense that the American system of education was purely secular committed a grave error, because, in truth, the people of the United States had gradually separated the religious element from the secular, mainly in order that the former might receive more careful attention; and certainly no nation in the world was possessed of more profound religious convictions or was more actuated by religious principle than our Transatlantic kinsmen. Yet, though he allowed that the circumstances of the United States were not the same as our own, he thought that here, too, we should take a practical and not a theoretical view of the subject. How we could best educate a people was a very complex problem. No machinery or set of appliances would enable us to calculate on obtaining a definite and fixed result. So manifold were the counteracting causes, baffling the wisdom of man to control them, that we could only hope by dint of all our exertions to realise our expectations of any scheme approximately. Therefore, the Resolutions of the noble Lord (Lord 828 J. Russell) embodied a deep philanthropic truth, seeking as they did to develop and expand, in a cautious and moderate spirit, the germs of the existing system. To listen to the representations of the scope of the plan given in the speeches delivered that night, any one would imagine that it contemplated the most revolutionary, despotic, and fantastical objects that ever entered the brain of the wildest theorist. It was not true that it proposed to establish a compulsory educational assessment; it merely invested in the inhabitants of any district where the means of instruction were reported by a Government Inspector to be notoriously deficient a permissive power to impose a rate on themselves if they saw fit. Surely nothing could be more mild and inoffensive than that. It was greatly to be regretted that the Manchester and Salford project had not been legalised, seeing that such an experiment, even though partial, must have thrown valuable light on the solution of the more general question, and also set an excellent example to the rest of the country. The Committee had been told by the noble Lord who had last addressed them, that it would be impossible to impart religious knowledge to the scholars if dissentient parents had the option of removing their children when such instruction was being communicated to the rest of the pupils. The noble Lord, however, was apparently not aware of the working of existing schools where the experiment had been tried on a large scale, which wholly discountenanced that apprehension; for it was found, that when the religious instruction was short and reasonable—for example, when it consisted of a well-selected part of the simple but sublime formularies of the Church of England—the proportion of children withdrawn while that instruction was going on was quite infinitesimal. That remark particularly applied to the great school at Birmingham, of which the Bishop of Manchester was the head, and in reference to the success of which that right rev. Prelate once exclaimed in his hearing, "Oh, how I wish that the gentlemen who talk of the difficulties of this question could see how those difficulties vanish when once they are fairly and manfully faced!" He could wish that the opponents of these Resolutions were a little more accurate in their calculations. The wild way in which figures were quoted in that House on the subject would prevent a serious man from entering on the question 829 at all. It was preposterous to assert that the proposed rate would lead to a greater burden than the poor rate. If it were so, Parliament would, without doubt, interfere to check it. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) seemed to anticipate great evils from the system of inspection proposed by the first of the noble Lord's Resolutions. That evil had resulted from this system had not been the experience either of himself (Mr. Milnes) or of any person with whom he had conversed upon the subject. The schools of the country had eagerly placed themselves under inspection, and uniformly with good results. With him one consideration superseded all others. The question before the Committee was not whether certain classes should be well or ill educated, but whether a considerable portion of the childhood of this country should be educated at all. The number of children who could neither read nor write was so large as of itself to deserve the attention of that House. In a country where there was no political freedom, as in Russia, there might be large numbers of people who did not care to be able to read or write, but in England such could not be the case. In all social difficulties, the only really formidable danger arose from an organised ignorance. It was the improvement of the education of Europe which led to the difference between the Revolutions of 1848 and those of 1792; and upon the education of the people it depended whether or not the future of this country was to be peaceable and prosperous. If a rate were to be levied, he would limit its application solely to purposes of primary education. He had no desire that some people should be taxed to make others literary or accomplished; but, if there were in any class a large amount of absolute ignorance, it was for the safety of the community that that evil should be removed by the best possible means. He should vote for the Resolutions of his noble Friend, because he thought them honest, just, and moderate; because he did not believe in the extravagant deductions which had been drawn from them, or the frightful consequences to which it was supposed they would lead; and because he believed that hitherto the action of the present system had been beneficial to the country. When hon. Gentlemen or when writers upon this subject asserted that the present state of education in this country was good enough, they ought to look back and see whether, without the action of State 830 interference, and without the measures which had been brought forward by his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell), they would have been justified in making such an assertion, and also whether the present state of education did not prove the wisdom of that moderate interference on the part of the State of which the noble Lord might in some degree be considered the representative?
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
Sir, I am happy to sit at the feet of a political Gamaliel and most willing to take lessons in humility, whether enforced by precept or by example. I shall endeavour to be modest and accurate in any statistics into which I may enter in the course of my observations; and before I sit down it will be my duty to comment upon the suggestion of "short and reasonable religious instruction"—reasonably short was probably meant—as tendered by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes). I shall endeavour to show that this short species of instruction is not consistent with the voluntary teaching of religious sects, now, as I contend, productive of so much advantage to the country; nor will it be permanently consistent with either the political or religious interests of this nation. In the first place, Sir, I may congratulate the Committee that this cannot possibly be regarded as a party question. It is a matter in which, now that peace has happily been restored, the people of this country take a deeper interest than they feel in any other question which can be discussed. It is a question on which a mistake on the part of this House would be most fatal to the interests of the nation, and we shall, therefore, in my opinion, best meet the wishes of our constituents by discussing it with gravity and calmness. I am therefore glad that this question is devoid of party character. I am also glad to address the House before Her Majesty's Government are committed to the line they mean to take with reference to these Resolutions. I hope they will consider attentively the debate which will take place, will ponder well the occasion on which these Resolutions are presented, and will deliberate carefully and seriously before they give to them their official support. There is one point on which I readily agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract. I have not the pleasure of being acquainted with the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst (Mr. Warren); but, with every Gentleman 831 in this House—I had almost said in the country—I had formed a high opinion of his abilities and his genius, and I sincerely congratulate him on the certainty that his first appearance in this House will sustain the reputation which he had previously earned. I cannot agree, however, with all that has fallen from him. I have already expressed my opinion of the vast importance of the voluntary efforts of the Dissenters, and I was somewhat surprised at the conclusion at which the hon. and learned Gentleman arrived, that in supporting these Resolutions he was not about to interfere with these efforts. According to the judgment I have formed, the adoption of these Resolutions will he absolutely and fundamentally fatal to them. The hon. and learned Gentleman also used an expression which showed the extent to which he is prepared to go in the adoption of the whole of these Resolutions. He said he was prepared to compel the children of this Country to attend schools, and that after all it is merely a "moral compulsion" that he would exercise; but the great objection I take to the Resolutions is that they do not contemplate moral suasion or inducement, but legal compulsion directly operating both upon the employers of labour and the employed. The hon. and learned Gentleman also expressed his regret that England, with her free institutions, could not educate her people. I am prepared to show that in consequence of those free institutions England is able to educate her people, and to educate them successfully, and my main objection to the Resolutions is that they are contrary to the principles of liberty, and that they will, in my opinion, most materially impede the progress of education. Again the hon. and learned Gentleman compared the state of things which has induced the noble Lord to propose these Resolutions with the necessity which led to exceptional legislation for Ireland, and he referred to the Incumbered Estates Act as an example to be followed, with reference to education, in this country. Sir, I altogether deny the example, and I am not prepared to believe that we have arrived at such a state of things with reference to education in England as led to the passing of the Incumbered Estates Act for Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman says—and says truty—that these Resolutions must be regarded as a whole, and the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) has talked of the 832 gradual and "tentative" development of the principle of progressive legislation on the subject of education which the Resolutions involve. I contend, on the other hand, that, far from involving a tentative process, the Resolutions contemplate a bold and, as it appears to me, a most headlong step in advance.
I wish to speak, Sir, with respect—with unfeigned respect—of my noble Friend the Member for the City of London. I cannot forget—history will remember—what have been the efforts, the successful efforts, of my noble Friend in the improved legislation of this country, and especially in the cause of civil and religious freedom. It cannot be forgotten that we owe mainly to him the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. I remember, also, his services with reference to the emancipation of the Catholics. I remember the extinction of tithe, both in England and Ireland, by means of compulsory commutation. I remember the prominent share he took in the Amendment of the Poor Law. I remember his introduction of a Poor Law into Ireland. I remember the constant support which he gave to the system of national education in Ireland—a benefit not less than any which the Legislature ever conferred upon that country; and yesterday I saw with pride and satisfaction my noble Friend, though stripped of official authority and power, doing battle in his accustomed place in the foremost rank in defence of the great principle of civil and religious liberty—that no difference of creed should operate as an exclusion from the fullest and freest enjoyments of equal rights and privileges on the part of any citizens of this country so long as liberty remains in this happy land. These are some, but only a few, of the services which have been rendered by my noble Friend. I feel them deeply; I shall never forget them; and yet I must state fearlessly that I differ with him in opinion as to the course he recommends the Committee to adopt on this subject. I will preface what I have to say with the observation, that we are now called upon to discuss the question of education in England. The question we are discussing must be kept entirely distinct from the question of education in Scotland and in Ireland. The circumstances of England differ entirely with respect to this subject from the circumstances either of Scotland or of Ireland. Here, unhappily, 833 we are divided, with reference to religion, into sects almost innumerable. In Scotland nine-tenths of the people are united in their creed; they may differ as to discipline; but the Shorter Catechism of the Presbyterians is adopted by nine-tenths of the population of that country. That single circumstance affords facilities with reference to legislation as bearing upon education in Scotland, which are altogether wanting in England. Then, again, with respect to Ireland, the circumstances there differ altogether from those of England. In three of the provinces of Ireland the Roman Catholics form so great and overwhelming a majority that they may be said to constitute the population of those provinces. In the northern province, Ulster, there is a numerical division between the Presbyterians and the Catholics very nearly approaching to equality, but generally speaking, throughout the four provinces the members of the Established Church constitute the small minority. It would be wrong on my part to carry the discussion of this point further than I have now ventured to do, in glancing at the differences between England, Scotland, and Ireland; but I wish it to be understood that in arguing this question we are dealing only with the case of England. I must also, in the absence of all party considerations, pray from the Committee an indulgence to give my opinion upon this subject with all the freedom with which I should give it were I in a Committee upstairs or at the Council table elsewhere. I think the circumstances of the case are such as to demand that free expression of opinion.
I object, Sir, in the first place, to the form of this proceeding. It is not usual in Parliament, and I think it inexpedient as an example. The course we are invited to take is exactly the reverse of that pursued with reference to a Bill. We begin with various details and we end with principles, and the jumble of details and principles is such as to produce the greatest possible confusion, and to involve the risk of being led into false and dangerous positions. The course pursued in the case of a Bill is exactly opposite. We then begin with principles; the details are accurately arranged, and are not mingled with principles. The first decision is taken upon the second reading of the Bill, when the House determines whether it will or will not adopt the principle, and then in Committee we consider the details. Now, we are to-night invited 834 to begin with a series of Resolutions, commencing with details and ending with principles, the details involving the assertion of the principles with which the Resolutions conclude. I object altogether to that course. Some of the Resolutions I consider are superfluous, because without legislation, and by the authority of the Executive, the object sought might be at once attained, and that very circumstance excites suspicion and gives rise to the question why, being superfluous, we are asked to affirm these Resolutions? Other Resolutions involve principles with respect to which legislation is obviously required, but by the course proposed all the safeguards which ought to attend such legislation are avoided, and if we adopt these Resolutions we shall pronounce an irrevocable opinion upon principles which should be set forth and developed in a Bill, or possibly in more than one Bill. If, then, we follow the course now proposed, we shall lose the advantage of those Parliamentary usages and practices to which I attach the utmost importance. I am far from negativing, or wishing to appear to negative, the necessity of legislation bearing upon education. I am decidedly of opinion with the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) that, with regard to the question of reformatories, as bearing upon prison discipline, and the crimes of that juvenile population which by proper educational treatment is within the reach of early reform, the time has arrived when, at the expense of the State, subject to legislative control, direct aid should be given to such institutions. Neither, Sir, am I at all prepared to say that the Charitable Trusts Commissioners may not, after mature deliberation, produce the draught of a Bill which they may call upon us to sanction with due regard to the rights of property and to the principles of equity, and which would deal with charitable funds that from desuetude are no longer applicable to the purposes for which they were granted, or that are applied to purposes no longer consonant with the habits of the people of this country. The utmost caution is, however, requisite in dealing with such a subject. To attempt to deal with it without legislation would be a course productive of no advantage; and remembering that my noble Friend the Member for London is now, I believe, at the head of that Commission—[Lord J. RUSSELL: I am only a Member of the Commission.] My noble Friend says he is only a Member 835 of the Commission; I shall gladly await any measure they may recommend with the most respectful intention of availing myself of their recommendation, and with the sincere desire that it may be passed into law, even, if it be possible, in the course of the present Session. I had the honour myself some time since of proposing to this House a measure which received their approbation with respect to the education of pauper children confined in workhouses. I was desirous that central schools of a better kind than those which could be provided in the separate Union workhouses should be established. There is, however, an enactment with respect to the limits of approximation between the different Unions that does seriously diminish the utility of the measure, which, I think, would be most salutary and highly conducive to the better education of a most important portion of the younger poor; and I should gladly give my attention to the reconsideration of this subject.
But now, with the permission of the Committee, I should wish very shortly to pass in review these Resolutions. I will do so in the most summary manner, and, before considering them as a whole, will deal with them seriatim, and point out what is the view I take with respect to each. The first is,—That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient to extend, revise, and consolidate the Minutes of the Committee of Privy Council on Education.I cannot deny that it is expedient to "revise" and "consolidate" these Minutes. My belief is, that much of that revision and consolidation has already taken place, for, as has been stated this evening, those Orders in Council which used to be scattered over twenty volumes, are now collected in one. But the important word here is "extend." We have now a Minister of Education, and it is proposed that we should have a second. The Minister of Education is one of the Cabinet and confidential servants of the Crown. If, in the opinion of the confidential servants of the Crown, an extension of the Orders in Council would be salutary and advisable, that extension, even in the Estimates as they now exist, can be effected. Or, if the Executive Government think it desirable, they may bring down a Supplementary Estimate, and, on their responsibility, suggest such an extension as they may deem fit, But I contend that, to dictate 836 to the Executive by a Resolution of this House, what they shall do in that respect, to relieve the confidential advisers of the Crown from that responsibility which fairly attaches to them, would be neither constitutional nor expedient. The next Resolution is—That it is expedient to add to the present Inspectors of Church schools eighty sub-inspectors, and to divide England and Wales into eighty divisions, for the purposes of Education.I shall not dwell upon this Resolution at any length, because, as yet, we have not heard any answer to the comments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) upon it. I know not why eighty is the number selected either for the Inspectors or for the school divisions. Again, that arrangement is quite within the province of the Committee of Education. They can appoint any number of Inspectors which they think fit, and they may call upon this House to furnish the means, in Committee of Supply, of defraying the expenses. The discussion of that Vote would lead the Committee in a legitimate manner to the consideration of details, and would bring its salutary constitutional control into play in a way the most unobjectionable. To forestall such a discussion by a Resolution of this kind is both unusual and inexpedient. The same observation applies in all its force to the third Resolution. Then we come to the fourth Resolution, which states—That, on the Report of the Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors, the Committee of Privy Council should have power to form in each division School Districts, consisting of single or united parishes or parts of parishes.Here is an abolition of the parochial boundaries. There is no recognition even of the Union boundaries, but some new boundary is for the first time to be constituted for the particular purpose of education. No safeguards, no limitations, are brought forward. That is obviously a matter for which legislative interposition is necessary, and, before I pledge myself to the adoption of this Resolution, I claim the advantage of seeing some safeguards and limitations set forth and specified. The next Resolution is—That, the Sub-Inspectors of Schools of each Division should be instructed to report on the available means for the Education of the poor in each School District.Without these new sub-divisions it is the duty of the Inspectors, under the guidance 837 of the Committee on Education, to make such inquiries and to present such reports. [Lord J. RUSSELL dissented.] Well then, if that has not been done let the noble Lord introduce his Bill—let him produce his enactment—let him prove its necessity—and I do not believe this House will allow any difficulty to stand in the way of the passing of such a measure. The sixth Resolution I will pass by; it is that which has given rise to a considerable portion of this debate; it is that which relates to the Commissioners of Charitable Trusts, and deals with funds "now useless or injurious to the community." How it found its way into these Resolutions I cannot imagine. It is not very germane to the matter, though in itself important enough to deserve being embodied in a separate measure. We then come to the seventh Resolution:—That it is expedient that in any School District where the means of Education arising from endowment, subscription, grants and school pence shall be found deficient, and shall be declared to be so by the Committee of Privy Council for Education, the Ratepayers should have the power of taxing themselves for the erection and maintenance of a School or Schools.Now, under the words of this Resolution, if sanctioned by the Committee, the taxing power—or, at all events, the veto upon it—is really vested in a branch of the Executive Government, the Committee of Privy Council for Education. Moreover, a majority of the ratepayers may tax a minority, inferior to them only by one, and thus we are landed by this Resolution, in all the evils which have been said to attach to the present church rate. The eighth Resolution is—That, after the 1st of January, 1858, when any School District shall have been declared to be deficient in adequate means for the Education of the poor, the Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the County, City, or Borough should have power to impose a School Rate.Now, I have read that Resolution over twenty times, and I cannot make up my mind whether it is intended that the quarter sessions should exercise a ministerial authority or a discretionary power; but, whichever it be, I am sure that the power in question, whether ministerial or discretionary, could not be vested in any body less suited for the functions to be performed, or in any body which, as matters now stand, would more strongly excite jealousy in the minds of the people. Even the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) himself, I believe, a chairman 838 of quarter sessions with large experience—objects altogether to the vesting of this power in quarter sessions, and is about to move an Amendment that it should be placed in the hands of the Committee on Education. As the Resolution stands at present, in 1858 we arc asked, not in the tentative mode suggested by the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes), but in, a rash and headlong manner, without experience, without the slightest knowledge of how the optional power of rating will be exercised by the people—to fix definitely that after the 1st of January of that year there shall be a compulsory rate for education, if the Committee of Privy Council shall be so minded, throughout England and Wales. A more rash and ill-considered proposal I never heard. We then come to the ninth Resolution:—That, where a School Rate is imposed, a School Committee, elected by the Ratepayers, should appoint the Schoolmasters and Mistresses, and make regulations for the management of the Schools.Now, all those who have attended to the question of education are, I believe, agreed on this axiom, that the master or mistress of a school is the school Itself. If you give to a bare majority of the ratepayers the power of choosing the schoolmaster or schoolmistress, and also the power of making the regulations, that bare majority, however constituted—with all its differences of religious creed—will choose a master or mistress of its own creed, and make the regulations with respect to instruction in conformity with its own opinions; and, when the master or mistress shall be so appointed and the rules and regulations so prepared, I think that even the short experience which will be acquired between the present time and 1858, when the rats shall be imposed—voluntarily, if you please—by a bare majority of the ratepayers, will teach this House that it came to a rash decision when it decided that throughout England and Wales such powers should be placed in such hands. The tenth Resolution states,That in every School supported in whole or in part by races, a portion of the Holy Scriptures should be read daily in the School" (which I suppose, is the "short and reasonable religious lesson" referred to by the hon. Member for Pontefract) "and such other provision should be made for religions instruction as the school Committee may think fit; but that no child should be compelled to receive any religious instruction, or attead any religious worship to which his or her parents or guardians shall on conscientious grounds object."839 Now, here is enjoined the reading of the Holy Scriptures daily in the schools, that short and reasonable lesson to which my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract attaches so much importance. But the wording of that tenth Resolution is so ambiguous that I cannot ascertain whether the reading daily in the school a portion of the Bible shall be invariably a part of the school lessons, or whether it is to be a part of the religious teaching. If it be a part of the school lessons, why then it is that general religious instruction to which the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord R. Cecil) took so much objection, and, I think, not unreasonably; while, if it be not a part of the school lessons, then, whatever may be said to the contrary, we are landed in secular instruction. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) at a very early period laid down an axiom on this subject which is irresistibly true. I quite agree with him, that if you come to a compulsory rate no other scheme of education except secular instruction is possible in England. The more you argue it, the more clearly that proposition may be demonstrated. Any attempt to teach religion, under a compulsory system, as supplementary to secular instruction—and that is what is proposed in these Resolutions—will assuredly end in disappointment and failure. It will give you the appearance without the reality; it will lead to all the evils of the secular system without any of its advantages; no peace—no contentment—will be produced by it; and I believe that, as regards the religious and moral principles of the people, you had better at once go the length of purely secular instruction than sanction by your adoption any such doubtful dangerous expedient. Next comes the eleventh Resolution—That employers of children and young persons between nine and fifteen years of ago should be required to furnish certificates half-yearly of the attendance of such children and young persona at School, and to pay for such instruction.Now, Sir, I have heard legal arguments as to the effect of the word "may"—I have my own opinion as to the effect of the word "might"—but never did I hear the word "should" used so frequently or so indefinitely as in these Resolutions. Whether it is meant to be imperative or permissive I really have not been able to make up my mind. If it be imperative, then Sir Robert Walpole's proposition to introduce the 840 Excise into private houses is a mere joke to this proposal of the noble Lord. To ascertain whether every ploughboy has been to school, you will have to visit every farmer's house in the country; you will have to call on every farmer to account for the schooling of his ploughboys. The interference will be constant, irritative, and provoking to the last degree, and if you studied to make education odious throughout the laud you could not choose a provision better calculated to have that effect than this. Then, as to the encouragement to be given to the instruction of young persons between twelve and fifteen years of age "by prizes, by diminution of school fees, by libraries, by evening schools, and by other methods"—which last certainly is a most sweeping phrase, and one to which we are asked to assent without having the least idea of what it means—I can only say that to any definite proposal of this kind I can see no possible objection. I conceive it to be the duty of the Council of Education, under the present arrangement, and by means of the Votes which they at present distribute, and which this House would readily increase were it necessary, to favour any such extension of education to the utmost of their power. This last Resolution, therefore, I look upon as being, like the first, entirely superfluous.
But, now, although the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Midhurst (Mr. Warren) begged that we would not come to close quarters with statistics to-night, that we would deal only with principles, and that we would not advert to any statistical information; and though my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) recommended me to be modest and humble, and not too confident in the use of figures; yet still truth is valuable, and truth can only be ascertained by reference to statistics. [Sir J. PAKINGTON: Hear, hear!] My right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich cheers that observation—he will have the opportunity of following me and, of combatting the statistics which I shall quote. To the best of my knowledge I shall be accurate, and I shall give the authorities for my statistics. Those statistics, and many of the arguments which it will be my duty to advance are not my own. Something disparaging has been said with regard to pamphlets. For my own part, I confess that I could not have investigated this subject satisfactorily to my own mind, and I certainly could not have arrived at what are now my strong 841 convictions, without the aid of two pamphlets which have appeared within the last week, and which really appear to me to be so important that I do not think any Member of this House ought to vote upon this subject who has not the advantage of weighing and considering the facts and arguments contained in them. Pamphleteers, indeed! I well remember the honoured father of one of those pamphleteers. He had a seat in this House, having risen to eminence by his honest industry, and represented in this House the important town in which he was born and bred. I allude to Mr. Baines. His son is on the Treasury bench; he is one of the confidential servants of Her Majesty; he has been tried and not found wanting in this Assembly; and he has discharged with ability, and with universal approbation, very arduous and responsible functions. We know his merit, and respect him; and his brother is a man of equal ability and is not less worthy of our attention. The other pamphleteer is Mr. Unwin, and a more able pamphlet than his I will undertake to say never issued from the press. I am sure there could be none more worthy of our consideration. Those two together contain arguments and statements of facts which to my mind, after duly and calmly weighing them, are irresistible, and which have brought me to the conclusion which, with pain and regret, I have adopted in reference to the vote which I shall give on these Resolutions. I, therefore, do not pretend to any novelty in arguments, much less to novelty in facts. They have been brought before the House already—they remain uncontroverted, and I believe them to be incontrovertible. My first objection, Sir, to this proposal is, that it is unnecessary. I contend, in the strongest manner, that there is no country in Europe in which the progress of education, within the last twenty-five years, has been so rapid and so satisfactory as it has in England. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract made an allusion to the year 1848. Austria stands high in education—Prussia stands high in education. What were the scenes in Vienna? What were the scenes in Berlin in 1848? And what was the happy contrast presented to them by uneducated England, or educated if you will, by the voluntary principle only, as I hope she long will continue to be? I have said that the numbers of schools are rapidly and progressively increasing in this country; and let 842 me call your attention now to the facts which have not, as I contend, been answered, which are drawn from sources which I believe to be pure and undoubted, and which it will be for my right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich, if he does me the honour to follow me, to controvert if he can. The day scholars in England, in the year 1818, were 674,000—I pass over the minor number—or 1 in 17 of the population; in 1833 they were 1,276,000, or 1 in 11 of the population; in 1851 they were 2,144,000, or 1 in 8 of the population. The Sunday scholars, in 1818, were 477,000, or 1 in 24 of the population; in 1833 they were 1,548,000, or 1 in 9; in 1851, 2,407,000, or 1 in 7. I will now read to you shortly what is the state of education under the continental system, with the most rigid Government interference. You will recollect that the day scholars, in 1851, were 1 in 8, and the Sunday scholars 1 in 7 of the population; and my belief is, though I have no facts to establish that belief, that in the last four years the advancement has been quite as rapid and progressive as at any other time. In Prussia, where the enforcement is most stringent, the proportion of scholars is 1 in 6 of the population; in Holland 1 in 7, in Bavaria 1 in 8, in Austria 1 in 10, in France 1 in 10, in Belgium 1 in 10, in Sweden 1 in 11, so that this despised and maligned England, with her voluntary principle of education, is equal to all the States where education is undertaken by the Government, with one exception only. The number of teachers in day schools in England, according to the Census of 1851, was 94,878, and of Sunday school teachers 318,155; so that the total number of the teachers of the youth of England in the year was 413,033, being 1 in 43 of the whole population, or one teacher for every ten children of school age in the country. And yet the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich says, in his able speech last Session, "We cannot go on as we are;"—"the voluntary system has broken down;"—"it is harassing and vexatious, as Mr. Kennedy says, and the only legitimate mode in which you can provide education for the people is by calling on the people to provide a rate for it." That is the germ of the compulsory principle proposed to us last year by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich, suggested, as I believe, by the Privy Council Inspectors, and adopted, I should say, somewhat hastily by 843 the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. I entirely concur in what was so well stated by the hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. Liddell), that the direct inducements to the spread of education in this country are strong beyond measure. To repeat his excellent illustration, all the railway companies, all the scientific bodies in this country, are daily more and more anxious to obtain skilled labour, and the premium upon education in the humbler classes is getting higher and higher. The same is the case, to a certain extent, with regard to the middle classes. We have wisely opened to them, by free competition, the valuable appointments in the service of the East India Company, a measure the success of which was so well stated by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control (Mr. V. Smith) towards the close of last Session. However much I may deprecate direct State interference, there are many legitimate inducements which it can hold out to the spread of education without interfering. If you come to throw open to competition the 16,000 or 17,000 places now at the disposal of the Government, many of them of the humblest, character, to those who shall by competition prove themselves best adapted for them, then, without a rate, without compulsion, by the most legitimate means, you would be giving encouragement to the spread of education among the people of this country.
My next objection is, that it is a most expensive plan—prodigally expensive. The effect of the proposition will be, I have no doubt, that all voluntary contributions will cease. Everything will have to be done, and everything will have to be paid for by the Government. The proposal of the right hon. Member for Droitwich is, that the schooling shall be free. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) proposes that the school pence shall be maintained, though much reduced. This really means that school pence shall cease, and that there shall be no contributions from the parents. I can not believe that you can safely estimate the cost of this plan at less than £6,000,000 per annum. Mr. Unwin, in giving has estimate, says—The noble Lord the Member for the City of London, taking the number of children to be educated at 3,600,000, casts his estimates at 18s. per head.That most moderate view would give a cost of £3,240,000 annually; but Mr. 844 Unwin, I think, convict? the noble Lord of a grave error of omission. The noble Lord has omitted the 10s. per head which is now contributed out of the Government grants. If so, that raises the cost per head to 28s. per annum. You must add, therefore, on that account, £1,800,000 to the £3,240,000. You must add, also, for the repair of school buildings £500,000 a year; for the expense of inspection and administration, £740,000; and for training institutions—the present cost —£44,000. Add these sums together, and you have an annual expenditure of £6,324,000. That is Mr. Unwia's estimate. Mr. Baines takes the entire cost at an average of 31s. per head, which for 3,600,000 children, shows an annual expenditure of £5,580,000, or £744,000 loss than the estimate of Mr. Unwin. But, take it as you will, either estimate makes the cost of this operation, which we are now discussing, equal to the poor rate and the county rate of England put together. The right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) some time ago brought forward with great force the case of the local burdens affecting land, in the hope that upon the principle of equity they might be reduced. By the Resolution now before the Committee, in one night, and without further debate, we are asked, by a single stroke of the pen, by one breath of the voice, so far from diminishing the burdens upon land, to double the amount of the poor rate and the county rate, as affecting the land. I beg hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider that proposition. My next objection to this measure is, that it will defeat itself. Without further compulsion, I contend that it will diminish and not increase education. Children under fifteen will no longer be employed. No farmer, if he can get a woman to hoe turnips, will ever think of employing a boy under fifteen years of age, with the odious chance of having school Inspectors visiting his house to know whether the boy has been sent regularly to school. He will say, "away with such interference; I would rather have free labour of any sort, male or female; children under fifteen shall no more be employed by me." I believe it will be found, even among the agricultural population, that the wages of the children of farm servants amount to at least one-fourth of the entire wages of a farm; and here you call upon this class of persons to pay a new rate and to sacrifice one-fourth of their wages. Such 845 a proceeding, I hesitate not to say, will spread confusion and dissatisfaction throughout your whole rural population. That population is well affected now, in times when their loyalty has been highly tried. You have had the advantage of their fidelity and loyalty. I have shown that they are not indifferently educated; but, under the pretext of giving them a more extended education, with a view to some speculative improvement, you are called upon to double the pour rate, to double the county rate, and to expect that the farmers of England will continue to employ ploughboys who are to be highly educated, and who are to be paid and educated at their cost.
My fourth objection to the measure is that it is oppressive to the poor and vexatious to industry. A double compulsion is necessary, for you must not only compel employers to educate, but you will have the far more difficult task of compelling the employed to be educated; and by such means you will make your system odious to the people of this country. Now they are induced by their employers to attend the Sunday school—the honest religious zeal of the employers leads them to interfere, to persuade, to convince, to guide; but, as was well and most truly said by the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), the people of this country are not to be driven. Pains and penalties never will educate the people of England. It is not by such means that you should attempt to educate them; it is not the way, except in an evil hour, in which this House will ever venture to make so perilous an attempt. I say that this measure is unsound in principle—that it is based upon Government monopoly, and that it destroys the free competition of labour. Will the Committee bear with me, and I will illustrate the danger of such a plan by the experience of foreign countries where a Government monopoly prevails? I will also illustrate the effect of the opposite principle in our own country through the medium of voluntary associations. Let me remind the Committee that I claim no merit whatever for the main portion of the arguments and facts which I am using. I have mentioned the sources from which I draw them. I believe them to be pure and undeniable, and until I hear them refuted my conclusion rests upon them. I have told you that I will illustrate the result of Government interference by its effect in 846 foreign countries, where a Government monopoly prevails; and in order to do this I will, with the permission of the Committee, read a passage from Laing on Norway and the Duchies. Mr. Laing says—It is a great truth that in education, as in everything else, supply follows demand, and that a people will always and in all circumstances educate themselves, or find education for themselves, up to the demand and necessity for knowledge and educated Labour among them; and that a forced supply of learning or educated labour beyond what the social state of a country requires and can fairly and naturally use and employ is altogether as opposed to the true principles of social economy as a forced supply of bodily labour by Government encouragement would be in the labour market. The result in Germany of giving a monopoly of the educational means of the country to educational boards, and their primary schools, gymnasia, and universities, and allowing none but licensed teachers to give instruction to the people, has been to raise a power within the State governing the people, as the Roman Catholic clergy did in the middle ages, by the monopoly of education, exempt from all opposition or counteracting influences from other teachers. In 1848 they shook every continental throne by their schemes, their social influence, and the false education they had been giving to the youth of Germany.Let me remind the Committee that we are called upon to discuss this question upon an important day. This is the 10th of April, the anniversary of a day upon which the people of this country stood out in bright contrast to people who live under a system of Governmental education, to people trained under the compulsory system of education of Prussia as well as of Austria. I have told the Committee that I will illustrate my argument by bringing before it some of the consequences which have resulted from our own system of education. Now it appears from a pamphlet of Mr. Baines that—According to the census of 1851, the churches and chapels existing in 1801 contained 5,171,123 sittings; in 1851 they contained 10,212,563 sittings. Of that number only 188,472 sittings were provided with any help from Parliament, so that 4,852,968 sittings were provided by the voluntary zeal of Churchmen and Dissenters (by far the larger number by the poorer of these two bodies). The proportion which the voluntary sittings bore to the Parliamentary was 96 per cent to 4 per cent. The State granted £1,663,429, while voluntary contributors gave £22,423,571.Now, these are facts, and, although the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst (Mr. Warren) has begged me not to overlay my case with statistics, still I must say that these statistics have produced so much effect upon my own mind that I 847 should be failing in my duty were I not to lay them before the Committee for free discussion—for refutation, if they can be refuted, and if not, to let them have the chance of producing on the minds of hon. Members the same impression they have produced upon mine.
My last objection to the proposal was, that it was unsound in principle, and I now proceed to contend that it would be constitutionally dangerous in operation. I feel great difficulty upon a constitutional question in opposing the authority of my noble Friend, but I think that his honest zeal in the cause of education has led him to overlook some of those constitutional principles of which he has always been the strenuous upholder. Now, I ask the Committee to consider this point. It is proposed that we should at once hand over to a body of Inspectors, aided by Sub-Inspectors, the appointment of some 34,000 or 35,000 schoolmasters, and all the influence which such a patronage cannot fail to give. The patronage is enormous; but there is also another objection; there is a French word surveillance which I can hardly translate into English, but which implies an inspection of, a watching of, a prying into private affairs by Government servants, and something very like that system will be created if the present Resolutions are carried out, for it will be necessary to go into every farmhouse and make inquiries with respect to the education of every boy under the age of fifteen. This is the admirable machinery proposed by the noble Lord. My right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hayter) slumbers quietly below me, but, if such a thing as a general election should take place, this machinery of the noble Lord, this appointment of Inspectors, of Sub-Inspectors, and of schoolmasters, all holding their places under the direct control of a Governmental department, will give him more to do than flesh and blood can stand. If we allow the use, or it may be the abuse, of such machinery, he will neither slumber nor sleep. That which is now proposed for the best of purposes may be prostituted to the worst, and we may, if I we agree to these Resolutions, in the endeavour to attain an end perfectly legitimate and proper—narrow or suspend the boasted liberty of the people of this country. As regards the question of rating, I regard it much in the same way as I do the question of church rates. Dr. Candlish said that the excellence of the school consisted 848 in the schoolmaster, and that the rules of instruction were as nothing. The same authority, however, which imposed the school rate, would choose the schoolmaster, and also regulate the teaching of the schools. If the schoolmaster be a member of the Church of England all the members of other creeds in the parish will be up in arms against him, arid will be his sworn enemies; while, if he be a Dissenter, the Churchman will be seriously aggrieved, so that instead of promoting peace by this scheme of education, we shall be lighting a torch of discord in every parish throughout the country. I believe myself that the principle of a compulsory rate and the principle of a system of education purely secular must stand or fall together. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) last year expressed a desire that we should adopt some neutral ground upon which Churchmen and Dissenters might meet, remembering only the points upon which they agree, and forgetting those upon which they differ. Now, that desire appears to me to be most visionary, for, as far as my experience goes, the more minute the difference of opinion upon subjects of that nature the more intense is the hostility engendered. The middle course has been very aptly termed by Mr. Baines the "neutralisation of the Black Sea" of religious teaching, and I am glad to adopt that expression, and I will proceed to lay before the Committee what has been the practical, effect of this middle course in foreign countries. I will ask the Committee to listen to what M. Guizot says upon this subject. M. Guizot says:—It had been sometimes thought that to succeed in securing to families of different creeds the reality and the freedom of religious instruction, it was sufficient to substitute for the special lessons of the several religious denominations some lessons susceptible in appearance of being applied to all religions. This would not answer the wish either of families or of the law. They would tend to banish all positive and effective religious instruction from the schools in order to substitute one that is merely vague and abstract.Another high authority, M. Cousin, says—That children judged of the value of the instruction which they received in schools from the time and attention devoted to it.Now, let me read to the Committee something concerning the practical effect of such a system. I will read to the Committee an extract from the Second Annual Report of the Massachusetts Board of Education, Boston, January, 1839:— 849In my Report of last year I exposed the alarming deficiency of moral and religious instruction then found to exist in our schools. That deficiency in regard to religious instruction could only be explained by supposing that school committees, whose duty it is to find school books, had not found any books at once expository of the doctrines of revealed religion and also free from such advocacy of the tenets of particular sects of Christians as brought them within the scope of the legal prohibition. Hence they felt obliged to exclude books which, but for their denominational views, they would have been glad to introduce.Sir Robert Peel thus comments on this extract from the Report:—This is a system not excluding the Scriptures. Allowing the Scriptures to be read, but not allowing them to be taught on the principles of our Church—permitting them to be used for the purposes of instruction, but leaving it to the ministers of the various religious denominations to teach the children in accordance with their particular religious views.Now, that, I apprehend, is the nature of the present proposal. [Lord J. RUSSELL: Exactly the reverse.] Well, I shall be glad to hear how it is the reverse. Sir Robert Peel goes on:—What says the secretary to whose Report I have referred as to the working of that system? Why he said, 'There is an alarming deficiency of moral and religious instruction.' That is just the result which I anticipate from any such system as applied to the habits and modes of thought of the English people.Here is Mr. Horace Mann's Report respecting the Massachusetts schools, quoted by the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) in his admirable speech last year, and to which, with the permission of the Committee, I will recall its attention:—In the origin of these schools, which was 210 years ago, in 1642, the instruction enjoined by law was distinctly religious instruction, and so it continued for a number of years; 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.I am really ashamed to trouble the Committee at such length; but as a matter of evidence and authority, what I am now about to read appears conclusive. It is a passage from a work by M. Bunsen, who was Minister for Prussia in this country for fourteen years. He had all the advantage of a most intimate knowledge of the compulsory Government system of Prussia, together with the further advantage of knowing well the English people, with whom he was connected by marriage. He was well acquainted with the habits of the English, had watched all their institutions 850 and proceedings, and he has given us in the words I will now read, the result of his experience and judgment. M. Bunsen observes:—I confess, as a German and a Prussian, not without sorrow, that experience and reflection have convinced me of the truth of the political principle, that the system of centralisation is inconsistent with the education of the people to true freedom, and is a system which, in the long run, weakens more than it strengthens that authority of the State in behalf of which it is maintained. By centralisation I mean the common Continental system of examining only by Government officials. The necessary operation of this system is to keep the people in perpetual tutelage, to prevent them from performing the slightest function of public life on their own motion, and specially to repress that independent life which naturally belongs to every healthy Christian congregation. On my return to my own country, after fourteen years' absence in England, I began to compare the impressions with which I had left Germany with the more ripe views which through more extended study and a more large experience I had obtained. The principle of voluntary association has been for a long time active in England, and there is, in and about London, and in Great Britain generally, scarcely any great movement or public work of which the roots are not to be sought in that principle.M. Bunsen then illustrates this proposition by the growth of our Indian Empire within the last century, proceeding from an association of British merchants, by a reference to the Pilgrim Fathers and to the existence of the great Republic of the United States; and also by a reference to the present condition of Upper and Lower Canada. He then goes on to say—What other principle than this has during the last century achieved the erection of more new churches and chapels in the congregations of earnest worshippers than all the Governments of Europe and all the clergy had been able to erect during the last four centuries?Here, then, you have the evidence of M. Guizot, the example of Massachusetts, and the deliberate opinion of M. Bunsen, who, contrasting the principle of Government or State interference with the principle of voluntary association, came to the conclusion, as the result of fourteen years' study and experience, that voluntary association was the only safe and true principle. To-night you are asked, in reference to education, to throw that principle aside. I have another objection to these Resolutions, and that is, that they are neither hot nor cold—neither religious nor secular. Religion, after all, is the mainspring of voluntary education. It is the religious zeal of the different sects which prompts them to bestow expense and labour 851 on the foundation and maintenance of these denominational schools. This is the main principle and lifeblood of all that scheme of education. The feeling of resentment towards the Established Church on the part of some of them may be warmer than I could wish, but I gladly and freely admit that the great body of Dissenters in England arc fellow-Christians, and the religious zeal which prompts them to establish schools intermingles the Christian faith and the Christian principle in the education of the children. You are now asked to tamper with that system, not openly and resolutely, but covertly and partially, and in a way more dangerous than the direct establishment of exclusively secular schools. Let me refer to what I consider the extreme danger of this proposition. Having established a rate, the majority of ratepayers would year by year be fluctuating. The majority of one year might, as I have previously stated, be the members of the Established Church; the majority of the next year might he Wesleyans, and of the third, Roman Catholics; and with each variation of the majority the schoolmaster would be changed and the religious teaching would be changed also. What would be the effect of this? If the education were secular only, the discord, to which I am about to advert, would not arise. The chance majority would fix the religious teaching, and the children of the minority must go to the school where a master is chosen precisely of a creed to which they are opposed. There will then be not only the chance of confusion in the secular education from the peculiar opinions of the master, and the minority will not only have to contribute their money for the salary of that master and for his secular teaching, but also for his religious teaching in a creed to which they most object. Surely this will give rise, on the part of the minority—a minority, it may be, turned only by one—to the most angry and bitter feelings, arising from a sense of injustice in respect to a most sensitive point—religious creed, and that sense of injustice, when combined with a money payment and a compulsory rate, will create a state of anger and discord—I hope not of tumult—which I scarcely venture to describe. Having trespassed already so long on the attention of the Committee, I shall not now venture to deal with any of those general topics which naturally present themselves, but which have so often been discussed in this House, and by no one with 852 greater ability than by the noble Lord the Member for London, such as that secular education, not based on religious knowledge and instruction, is not conducive to sound morals or to the real interests of the pupils themselves. Love to God is our first and greatest duty—love to our neighbours is the next and like unto it. On these two commandments hang "all the law and the prophets,"—our happiness here and our hopes hereafter; and this Committee may well pause before by any hasty decision it violates those great precepts, and deprives the people of the inestimable benefit they now enjoy in having secular teaching universally mingled with religious instruction.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
, in explanation, said he thought the right hon. Baronet could not have heard him say that "the short and reasonable ceremony" which he had mentioned as having been used in the school at Birmingham was the Morning prayer of the Church of England.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, after the able and powerful speech we have just heard from the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, I feel most seriously the difficulty he has imposed on me in following him. Entertaining, however, a clear conviction upon this subject, and differing from the conclusions at which the right hon. Baronet has arrived, I must appeal to the indulgence of the Committee to enable me to perform the difficult task of confuting the statements contained in the able speech we have just heard. I must throw myself on their indulgence while I undertake the arduous task which, under a sense of public duty, I have imposed on myself. I hope I shall not appeal to the Committee in vain for that attention, without which I feel it is impossible to meet and reply to the statements the right hon. Gentleman has just delivered. The right hon. Gentleman appealed in his emphatic speech to the truth. I join issue with him boldly and fearlessly on that appeal. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this is a great and important subject, affecting the dearest interests of the people, and that it must be discussed by the Committee with a strict regard to the merits of the case. On the merits of the case, then, Sir, I venture to join issue with the right hon. Baronet. I accept his challenge, and, though I own myself unequal to the right hon. Baronet in the power of debate, yet I do not fear 853 the issue if I am indulged with that attention which is indispensable for me to meet the statements of the right hon. Gentleman. In one respect I am happy to say I most cordially concur with the right hon. Gentleman. I entirely agree with him that we ought not to approach this subject in any party spirit, but that we ought to approach it with the greatest gravity and anxiety, and in that spirit I shall endeavour to deal with and to approach this important subject. And, Sir, I feel it is all the more incumbent upon us to approach this subject with that gravity the right hon. Gentleman so much desires, when we bear in mind the enormous numerical proportion of the people of this country who are affected by the great question of national education. I shall not overstate the fact when I state that not less than 15,500,000 out of the 18,000,000 of the population of England and Wales are directly and personally interested in the question. In this opinion I have the well-known authority of Mr. Farr, who, in his evidence before the Income Tax Committee relative to the income of the various classes in this kingdom, draws a line of distinction between those who have an income of £75 per annum and those who have not. Judging, then, by this division of the population—those who have and those who have not £75 a year—I am right in the statement I make, and I think the Committee will agree with me when I state that every family who has less than £75 a year is mainly dependent for the education of its children on the national fund, whatever that may be. I am endeavouring to show the Committee the numerical proportion of the people affected by this measure. It affects, according to Mr. Purr's figures, 15,500,000 out of the 18,000,000 of people. I say, then, we are hound to approach this subject with the greatest anxiety, and with a deep sense of the magnitude of the question. With respect to the Resolutions of the noble Lord, I will come at once to the objections made to them. The right hon. Baronet complains, in the first place, of the form in which the Resolutions of the noble Lord are placed before us. Now, I am quite prepared to support the general spirit of these Resolutions, but the Amendment' of which I have given notice is a, proof that I do not entirely agree with the noble Lord as to details. I think with the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) that the first Resolution refers to matters 854 which might well be left to the new department of education. I also object to throwing upon the quarter sessions duties which, I think, they cannot adequately fulfil. I do not understand how the magistrates even of towns, and more especially of counties, can obtain information as to the educational requirements of distant parishes, or how they can decide the amount of rate to be levied from those parishes. I agree, too, with the right hon. Baronet in not being able to find a reason for the introduction of the sixth Resolution. It touches upon a most difficult and delicate subject; it, has naturally created treat alarm; it is calculated to raise questions upon which great differences of opinion must exist; and I hope, considering that it is altogether foreign to the objects the noble Lord has in view, that he will withdraw it. Being, however, convinced of the necessity of some plan such as that proposed by the noble Lord, I was not prepared for the course taken by my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley)—a course to which the right hon. Baronet never even alluded in the course of his long speech. My right hon. Friend asks us to refuse to entertain the question at all; he moves that you, Sir, leave the chair, a proposition by the adoption of which we should evince a disregard to the feelings of the people and an indifference to the public interest that would, I believe, shake the confidence of the country in this House. I will now outer into an examination of the criticisms of the right hon. Baronet upon these Resolutions. He first takes an objection to proceeding by Resolution at all. I admit that there are objections to that mode of proceeding, and early in the Session I reminded the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) that Resolutions had been more than once proposed by Lord Brougham and others, and that Resolutions would not educate the people. But the noble Lord defended the course he had pursued by an argument of which I must admit the force. Experience has proved that an independent Member cannot carry a Bill upon such a complicated and difficult subject as education, and, the Government having refused to undertake it, the noble Lord felt that his most prudent course would be to lay down broad principles, in the shape of Resolutions, for adoption or rejection by the House. The right hon. Baronet then took an objection which had previously been raised by my right hon. 855 Friend (Mr. Henley). He said that the plan of the noble Lord would break up the parochial system, abolish parochial boundaries, and sever the clergymen from the schools. [Mr. HENLEY: Hear, hear!] But my short and simple answer to this objection is, that in educational matters the maintenance of the parochial system is an impossibility. I think the Committee will admit that I am right on this point. I will illustrate this position by mentioning two instances, one of which is on my own estate. A parish in my neighbourhood, a considerable portion of which belongs to me, has within it thirty-six resident inhabitants, and there are five children of the school age. Can either of my right hon. Friends tell me how the parochial system could be made to apply to that parish, or how it is possible to avoid in this case that separation of the clergyman from the superintendence of those children which they deprecate with so much anxiety? In Archdeacon Williams's last charge at Monmouth he alluded to a parish, not with thirty-six inhabitants, but which contained only sixteen inhabitants. I think I need not go further in the argument as to the importance of maintaining the parochial system. The next point is, that the plan of the noble Lord is unnecessary. If the right hon. Baronet is right, certainly nothing can justify the introduction of the plan. But the whole question turns on the assertion that the plan is unnecessary; and here I join issue with the right hon. Gentleman. It is a challenge I will accept. I consider the plan to be imperatively necessary if it is wished that the country should be educated. The next point was as to the actual state of education in this country. On that subject the right hon. Gentleman quoted statistics, showing that in 1851 the rate of education was higher than in any former period; but the right hon. Gentleman did not state that the progress from 1833 to 1851 was less in proportion to the population than from 1818 to 1833; neither did he advert to the centesimal proportion of the attendance at the schools, which would have shown that the attendance was not so great now as formerly. The right hon. Gentleman then made a comparative statement between the state of education in this country and the Continent. I beg to tell him, without any discourtesy, that on that subject, according to the best means of information to which I have had access, he was positively wrong in all he stated. 856 His statement was thoroughly erroneous. I understood him to say that, as compared with foreign countries, England was only exceeded in the centesimal proportion of attendance by one. I believe the right hon. Gentleman is altogether misinformed. In Sweden the centesimal proportion of attendance at schools is 1 in 4; in Russia, 1 in 7; in France, 1 in 6. [Sir J. GRAHAM: Do you speak of France as a whole?] I am aware that France differs very greatly in different parts, but in a considerable portion of France the proportion of attendance is 1 in 6. In Saxony the proportion is 1 in 5; in Denmark, 1 in 7. What it is in Holland I do not know, but I have mentioned four or five countries instead of one, which exceed England in this respect. The right hon. Gentleman must allow me to refer to the United States of America, and to the State of Massachusetts. On this question I think the superiority of the United States in several of the States, especially in New England, is undeniable, the proportion being generally 1 in 5 and 1 in 6. Instead, therefore, of England having only one country better than itself in this important respect, there are not above three or four countries in Europe which are in a worse position than that in which England stands at this moment. The next argument of the right hon. Baronet was, that this plan must be oppressive to the poor. In that respect the right hon. Baronet was dealing not with facts, but opinions. He says it will be oppressive to the poor. I can only join issue and say that I entertain a directly opposite opinion. Nothing can be more oppressive or injurious to the poor than the present impossibility of their obtaining that education for their children which they ought to receive. Instead of being considered oppressive, I believe there is nothing for which the people would be more grateful to the House of Commons than for some measure of this nature. The next argument of the right hon. Baronet was one which I listened to with some surprise. He says that the plan of the noble Lord is unconstitutional. I think it would be presumptuous on my part to undertake to defend the plan of the noble Lord against the charge of its being unconstitutional. I believe there is no man more competent than the noble Lord to defend any question involving the constitutional interests of this country. All I can observe on this point is, that when any man does not like a measure, and, at the same time, does 857 not know how to assail it, he immediately declares that it is unconstitutional. It is a most abused word, and one which is applied on all occasions to all subjects. The right hon. Baronet then said that this plan asked us to throw aside the existing system and to adopt the American system. I think the right hon. Gentleman is wholly inaccurate in that respect, and especially when he compared the proposed system with that which exists in Massachusetts. The noble Lord has distinctly denied any such intention; and certainly I should not be prepared to support a plan on the American system. I am one of those, and I believe the noble Lord to be one of those, who would hold any system of education to be imperfect, unsatisfactory, and unfit for this country and unacceptable to the people, which was not based on religion, and which did not distinctly recognise the necessity of combining education with religion. The right hon. Baronet referred to a speech of mine last year, and endeavoured to show that the plan I ventured to recommend would not meet the case. I dissent from that opinion, and say I am enabled to prove that there is abundant experience, both in England and on the Continent, to show that the religious difficulty can be solved, and that you may have religious teaching with a mixture of religious sects without the sacrifice of the interests of religion. I might refer to the remarkable instance of the grammar school of Birmingham, where doctrinal teaching is carried on, and where the conscience of Dissenters is respected. This I believe to be the true solution of the difficulty—a solution which may be safely adopted by this country, and which will enable us to impose a rate without being open to the objection to which the right hon. Baronet has referred. In France and in Switzerland the religious difficulty is overcome in that way. In the Roman Catholic cantons of Switzerland Protestant children are admitted and, vice versâ, in the Protestant cantons Roman Catholic children are admitted, while the conscientious opinions of their parents are respected. That is, I believe, the true solution of the difficulty, and a conclusive and satisfactory answer to the objections of the right hon. Gentleman. I must also say, that I equally dissent from the objection of my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire and of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle, and which no doubt we shall hear again in the course 858 of these debates, that if you impose a school rate you will be aggravating in another form all the evils of church rates. It appears to me impossible to advance any opinion less capable of being supported in argument. The church rate and the school rate are essentially distinct and different. The objection of the Dissenter to the church rate is, that he is called upon to pay a rate for the support of a church from which he derives no benefit. With a school rate, the Dissenter is called upon to pay a rate, in return for which his children have the benefit of education. The cases appear to me to be exactly opposite. In the one case the Dissenter has no benefit from the rate: in the other case the Dissenter has precisely the same benefit as any other person. I have now gone through the criticisms of the right hon. Gentleman on the noble Lord's Resolutions, and I must say, I think the criticisms on his part and on the part of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Henley) are rather too much in detail. They treat these Resolutions more as if they were clauses of a Bill than as if they were intended to lay down some broad principles of future action. I think, also, the right hon. Baronet has not met the noble Lord in the spirit to which the exertions of the noble Lord entitle him. With the permission of the Committee I will now proceed to deal with the most important statement which the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) has advanced, and in reference to which I must, with great respect, but with great decision, express my opinion that it is unsupported by facts—I allude to the expression that England is educated. I meet it by stating that England is not educated. The state of England in this respect is not satisfactory. Our advance, which I do not deny, does not bear any proportion to the necessities of the case, and, if Parliament does its duty to the country, it cannot leave the matter where it is. It is impossible to grapple with such a statement as that and support the assertion that it is erroneous, without producing some proofs of that assertion. No more important question can be raised. Upon this question a verdict must be given. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Henley) may carry his Resolution, but the future action of Parliament must turn upon the question, whether the right hon. Gentleman is right when he says England is educated, or whether I am right when I say England is not educated. Upon this great question, fairly raised between us, 859 must turn the decision—whether this matter can rest where it is, or whether it will not be the paramount duty of Parliament to establish some auxiliary system. I take exactly the view stated by the hon. and learned Member for Midhurst (Mr. Warren), in that able speech to which in common with others I have listened with sincere pleasure, that we are not about to displace the voluntary system—that we do not, underrate or undervalue the exertions hitherto made—but that that system is insufficient, that it cannot educate the people, and that some auxiliary system must be adopted. The first proof that I will give is one to which I entreat the particular attention of those Gentlemen who are advocates of the voluntary system; for it happens to be one of the most curious illustrations I have ever met with of the warm advocacy of the voluntary system, and, at the same time, of its complete failure. The paper which I hold in my hand is a Report of the Diocesan Society of the diocess of Bath and Wells. I am not familiar with that part of the country, but I have no doubt that society consists, as these societies generally do, of some of the most eminent of the clergy and laity of the county. In October last this society presented their usual Annual Report, and at the end of that Report they extol the voluntary system in the strongest terms. Speaking of the Bill of the noble Lord and the Bill which I had the honour to introduce as—Well meant though comparatively impracticable endeavours to substitute for the present noble voluntary exertions of the people, and especially of the Church of England, in the sacred cause of education, State systems of support having a tendency which are alien to the feelings and principles of the great majority of the Christian population of this country.Here, then, is the broadest possible statement of the merits of this noble voluntary system, and the insufficiency and objectionable nature of other propositions. But, in a preceding sentence the Report of the diocesan Inspector, the Rev. Mr. Vaughan, is recommended to the attention of the public. It appears this gentleman has been round the diocese of Bath and Wells to examine the state of the district in which the effects of the voluntary system are so lauded. Mr. Vaughan says—Your Lordship will perceive how very far this is from being the case at present in your diocess.—There must evidently be thousands growing up in your diocess without the knowledge of the simplest elements of Christian truth, while the 860 very irregular attendance of a large number of these children who do come to school prevents their acquiring any knowledge worth possessing. In many parishes there are still no schools, and I enclose a list of such parishes in each district of inspection. In some parishes the children are still cooped up in miserably insufficient and unhealthy rooms, the very atmosphere of which must destroy ail power of thought, and the crowded state of which readers proper discipline almost impossible.Mr. Vaughan goes on to state, that funds are wanted for building schoolrooms for the support of efficient musters, &c., and at the end, he says—In submitting this Report to your Lordship I cannot conclude without expressing my decided opinion—that the state of elementary education in your Lordship's diocess in very far below what it ought to be. In many parishes excellent and well superintended schools, conducted by earnest efficient Christian teachers, are doing a great, work; but there are many, also, in which there are no schools connected with our church, and many more in which the schools are sadly inefficient—mere schools of idleness and every had habit.I need not dwell upon the authority of this Inspector to show the right hon. Baronet that, at all events, in the diocess of Bath and Wells, he can hardly venture to say the people are educated; but allow me to add a word on the county of Wilts, which will be interesting to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. Herbert). I have received a communication from the resident clergyman of a parish in Wiltshire. I have no personal acquaintance with him, and I do not feel justified in stating his name to the House because the communication is a private one, and I have not his authority for doing so, but I shall be very happy to tell the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wiltshire (Mr. S. Herbert) in private from whom the communication comes. I should like to know his opinion as to the correctness of the statement. This Gentleman says—Look over the length and breadth of this great county, and I declare I do not know a single rural parish, where the social condition of the labourers is satisfactory, or the means for education anything approaching to efficiency. There may be such, but I do not know them. I know many where there is no day school of any description, and one instance where in five parishes the schools are only kept in existence in their present wretched and almost useless condition by the liberality of one single individual.These statements are applicable to Wiltshire. Now, if the right hon. Baronet believes these statements to be true, will he say that England is educated so far as 861 Wiltshire is concerned? I used last year the authority of Mr. Clay, chaplain of Preston Gaol. I need not remind the Committee of the high character of that admirable man. The Reports which he has been for many years past in the habit of presenting are made every alternate year. Since I quoted one of his Reports late in the autumn, another has been brought out in which he alludes to the state of education in the county of Lancaster. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend (Mr. Henley) has received a copy, but Mr. Clay is hurt at the imputations passed upon him by my right hon. Friend of having made exaggerated statements. Mr. Clay quotes my right hon. Friend's speech, and he again goes into some terrible details to prove his assertions. He states the immense number of prisoners who are unable to read and write. He says—That out of the prisoners in Preston Gaol, 36 per cent come into the gaol unable to say the Lord's Prayer, and 72 per cent come in such a state of moral debasement that it is in vain to give them instruction or to teach them their duty, since they cannot understand the meaning of the words used to them.This is an alarming and frightful state of things, and it is more so when we are reminded by Mr. Clay that one in fourteen of the male population of the working classes comes every year within the grasp of the law, so that in the condition of the Lancashire prisons we find proofs of the degrading ignorance in which a large portion of the population stand. And yet in the face of these facts the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) advances the position that England is educated! That is the right hon. Baronet's opinion; but I contravene that opinion, and I meet it with facts which demonstrate that England is not educated, and that a large proportion of her population are in a most alarming state of utter and debasing ignorance. Mr. Clay gives us some new facts, and I hope the Committee will allow me to refer to them. He quotes some Reports from the head constables of Preston, Manchester, and Liverpool, The head constable of Preston says that in the years 1853–4 he had 16,500 males in custody, of whom 9,641, or more than 58 per cent, could neither read nor write. The right hon. Baronet may not like statistics, but we cannot come to a decision on this subject without them. Captain Willis, the head constable of Manchester, reports to the same effect. He had 8,294 males in custody in 1853–4, of whom 2,676, or 32 per cent, could neither read nor write, 862 and 5,303, or nearly 64 per cent, could read only, or read and write imperfectly. The head constable of Liverpool, Captain Greig. said that out of 25,111 prisoners only 570, or 2 per cent, of the whole could read and write well; of those who could read and write imperfectly there were 11,031, or about 43 per cent; there were 1,860 who could read only, or about 7 per cent, while those who could neither read nor write numbered 11,650, or about 48 per cent, of the entire number of apprehensions, thus showing the connection between ignorance and crime. I will not trouble the Committee with any more statistics, but if the Committee will dispassionately consider the statements I have made with regard to the diocess of Bath and Wells, the county of Wilts, and the county of Lancaster, I ask the Committee, and I ask the country, how it is possible in the face of these facts for the right hon. Baronet or any other man gravely to assert that the people of this country are in a satisfactory state with respect to education? The last authorities to which I shall refer are the Inspectors of schools. They are, perhaps, not the most competent judges that I could call, since they are acquainted only with the best portion of the schools in their districts, and do not go into the more remote parishes and see the schools that do not apply for inspection. But these Inspectors substantiate the general allegation that the education of this country is in the most unsatisfactory state. Mr. Mitchell, Inspector of Schools for the Eastern Counties, says—I have inspected no less than forty schools, and my colleague many more schools, the details of whose state will show that education is by no means either universal in its extent or good in its Kind, and that there are even largo districts in which, as regards the poorer class, it is still only a name. In some places, even the education that used to be given is now no longer afforded. The pressure of the times is such, especially upon clergy of limited incomes, who have been the main support of schools by their contributions, as well as by their influence, that, as by the following extracts from their letters you will perceive, they are now unable to continue in some instances their subscriptions, and in others only do so at great and positive inconvenience.I might give extracts from the letters of clergymen who are unable to keep up their schools, and who urge the necessity of some aid being afforded them beyond that which the voluntary system supplies. Mr. Mitchell says:—Nor is this state of things confined to the eastern district, for, having visited officially schools 863 in almost every county of England, I have met everywhere the same defects, everywhere the like complaints—inefficiency of schools, poverty of funds, irregularity of children, indifference of parents, anxiety and discouragement of managers, trustees, and subscribers, together with great indisposition on the part of property holders in general to aid the support of schools to any truly efficient purpose, and the Reports of my colleagues confirm these statements.What does the right hon. Baronet say in answer to this, and will he still maintain that England is educated? He must feel that it is impossible to support the view he has taken. Mr. Kennedy, the Inspector for Lancashire, writes to the same effect. He says:—The main prevailing want, as heretofore, is that of adequate and permanent funds. This is the case with most of the schools which I see, and with nearly all of that large number which I do not see. On this head, I see no reason whatever to retract or modify any one of the ten propositions which I put forth at the end of my general Report for the years 1851–52. And now, as then, I am fully convinced that this want of a sufficient and unfluctuating income can only be supplied by a rate for education.This is the opinion of Mr. Kennedy. I will not detain the Committee further; but if the right hon. Baronet or any other Member will refer to the Blue-books on our table, and the Reports of the Inspectors, he will find that the evidence to which I have alluded is not confined to the extracts I have read from the Reports of Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Kennedy, but that all the Inspectors hold the same language, that there is throughout the country a grievous want of a better education, and that the main cause is the want of funds. The right hon. Baronet maintains that these Resolutions are opposed to the spirit of liberty, but he failed to adduce a single argument in support of that assertion. With all respect for him, I distinctly deny that there is anything in them or in the principles they embrace that can fairly expose them to any such imputation. Is it contrary to the spirit of liberty to take measures to provide for the first and greatest want of a civilised country? Can it be possible that it is a violation of freedom to ask you at this period of the nineteenth century to sanction for education precisely those principles which our Scottish neighbours adopted 200 years ago? Surely that is no startling innovation. The Resolutions of the noble Lord the Member for London proceed upon the proposition that the people require to be educated, and that your machinery to effect that great 864 object should be local taxation under local management. The right hon. Baronet opposite was not quite fair in the quotations which he has made from Mr. Baines's pamphlet, where he talks of the bad effects of centralisation. This will not be a centralising system, but a system of local management and of local control, under central guidance and central assistance. I believe the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) was a Member of the Administration that adopted the present system of poor-law administration. Is that system opposed to the spirit of liberty? Assuredly not. Every intelligent man regards it as one of the most admirable social reforms of modern days; and, be it remembered, it is a local system. Why should we, therefore, be forbidden to adapt it to the purposes of education? What I proposed, and what the noble Lord proposes, is local management with central guidance. The rate is to be raised by the votes of the ratepayers. It is to be managed by committees locally elected. I grant you that, for the sake of uniformity of practice, those committees must be under central guidance like the poor-law. But I defy the right hon. Baronet to prove, that in proposing this scheme we are adopting any plan open to the grave objection of being opposed to the spirit of liberty. I repudiate that charge, and I defy him to prove it. If I feel warmly on this subject, it is not from any feeling of disrespect to the right hon. Baronet, but from the great issue before us. I am only discharging the duty which every Member of this House ought to discharge, in stating boldly the convictions I entertain. At this late hour, I will not enter into the question as to how the funds are to be supplied for meeting the educational wants of the country. When we get into Committee, fitting opportunities will arise for considering the Resolutions on this point. I will only state, on this occasion, that I advocate the rate simply for the reason that no other practical mode has been suggested by which the deficiency can be supplied. My noble Friend—not now in his place—the Member for Stamford (Lord R. Cecil), feeling the pressure of this part of the case as to finding funds, said that we ought to ask Parliament to grant the money; but my noble Friend did not tell us what must be the next step. If Parliament granted the amount required, who is to have the administration of it? I believe the question of rating will turn out to be simply a question of business. 865 Money is wanted. We cannot educate without money. Where is it to come from? At a voluntary meeting the other day, I see it was stated that education in this country was a matter of parental duty. Now, with all respect for those who attended that meeting, I think this further question, whether the industrious classes are in a position to educate themselves without help, might well have been raised. At this moment, under the voluntary system, are the working classes called upon to educate their own children? No. They pay 2d., while the education of the child costs 6d. a week. And the question of rates was really a question as to where the difference was to come from. Show me a more satisfactory mode, and I shall no longer advocate a rate. I believe you cannot point out a more satisfactory mode. To supply the great defects I have pointed out, you will find practically no other mode than that to which I referred. It may not be this year, but my belief is that the day is not far distant when this plan will be adopted by Parliament. I do not deny that the subject is surrounded with difficulties, but I hope Parliament will meet them boldly, and that they will approach the consideration of the noble Lord's Resolutions in a calm, temperate, and forbearing spirit. I believe that in a few years this House and the country will look back with utter astonishment at the phantoms with which we have so long been contending, and with a feeling that this House and the country ought not so long to have postponed the settlement of this great question, so deeply affecting the interests and welfare of the people.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he must beg to explain, that he had not intended to throw the least discredit on Mr. Kay's statement, but merely to say that his calculations were particular, and did not justify general conclusions.
§ MR. BARNES moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he did not feel authorised to oppose the Motion, but at the same time he must express his astonishment that it should have been made before the House and the country had been afforded the means of ascertaining the views of the Government on a question of such importance. The hour was not so late (a quarter past Twelve), nor was the Committee in such an excited state as to prevent an expression of opinion from Her Majesty's Government; and before assenting to the adjournment of the debate they 866 were therefore entitled to hear what were the views entertained by the Ministry as to the policy that ought to be pursued on a subject of such vast importance as this, which now engaged so much public attention.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he hoped, after the statement of the right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) made evidently under a total misapprehension of the scope of his (Lord J. Russell's) Resolutions—that his noble Friend at the head of the Government would change the determination he had expressed early in the evening, and allow the debate to be continued on the following day, in order that the House might be put in possession of the real nature of his scheme, and that the opinions of hon. Gentlemen might be elicited upon it before the Government declared the course they intended to take on the subject.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he had stated early in the evening, in answer to a question, that the Government proposed to go into a Committee of Supply on Friday; but certainly the circumstance to which his noble Friend had alluded—namely, the delivery of the able and powerful address of his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham)—was a sufficient reason why the Government should deviate from its intention, and afford the noble Lord the opportunity he naturally desired to reply to the adverse criticism to which his plan had been subjected. He would therefore consent to postpone going into Supply till Monday, to enable the debate to proceed to-morrow.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that both the noble Lord the Member for the City of London and the First Minister had spoken of an understanding which originated before the opening of that debate; but the latter seemed to forget that at the request of hon. Gentlemen on his (the Opposition) side of the House he (Mr. Disraeli) had inquired on the previous day what course the Government meant to take on Friday in consequence of the important discussion on education then impending. It was obvious when he put that question that the debate would be one of some length; it was equally obvious that speeches, and speeches, too, of considerable power and interest, would be made by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen with conflicting opinions, as well as that the noble Lord the author of the Resolutions would in all probability, feel it due to his own reputation to enter into an elaborate vindication of the scheme he had propounded. Yet, with all these 867 probabilities distinctly before his eyes, the First Minister declared, in answer to the question which he had put to him, at the request of the friends with whom he acted, that the Government had made up their minds to go into Committee of Supply on Friday. He had no objection to the noble Lord proceeding with the public business in the manner most agreeable to the Ministry, but it would be highly inconvenient, when inquiries were made for facilitating the course of their procedure, if the head of the Government were to offer replies with the thoughtlessness and disregard of the feelings of the House which had been manifested in the present instance.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman opposite was really very hard to please. The reply that he had given to the right hon. Gentleman was in no degree thoughtless, but dictated solely by a regard for the interests of the public service. He had yet to learn, however, that the Government were to be precluded from showing the courtesy due to a Member of the House of the eminence of his noble Friend, who, in consequence of the peculiar turn which a debate might take, might be anxious to take the earliest opportunity of replying to statements made against those measures.
§ Motion agreed to; Debate adjourned.
§ House resumed.