§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ SIR MICHAEL SHAW STEWART
said, that he rose to move that the Bill should be read a third time that day three months. For his part, he could not understand why the parish school should be severed from the parish church. That was a step of which he could not approve unless they obtained some security for the religious character of the schoolmaster—that he did not hold opinions contrary to the Confession of Faith, and that he would not use his office as a means of lessening the influence of the Established Church of Scotland. His reason for moving the Amendment was that the party most anxious for the passing of the Bill—namely, the religious denomination of which the right hon. and learned Lord was a distinguished member—the Free Church party had, in a meeting lately held at Edinburgh, declared that they would take the present Bill as an instalment, as they were for the present satisfied with getting in the narrow end of the wedge. Why was it they wished to have the narrow end in? It was for the overthrow of the Established Church of Scotland. The danger to be apprehended arose not out of anything which it provided, but from those things 373 which it failed to provide, and he would ask the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird) instead of trying to get the present Bill passed, to join the right hon. and learned Lord in preparing a measure suited to the Scotch boroughs, where a change was more required than in the landed districts. A short Bill for that object had been introduced as a sister measure to the present, and he was now anxious to know what had become of it. For the reasons which he had stated, he felt it his duty to move an Amendment of which he had given notice.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now" and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
§ MR. BLACK
said, he thought the objections of the hon. Baronet were untenable. He denied that by this Bill the parish schools would be separated from the Church. Indeed he believed that the superintendence of the Church would be rather fortified than weakened. The minister of the parish would still retain the same power as he had before. The power of the Presbytery, as to removing the schoolmaster, was at present a mere delusion. He (Mr. Black) held that all tests were either delusions or snares and had always failed in their object. A schoolmaster's signature to a test was no indication either of his opinions or his moral character. Hume himself would have signed any test that they could devise. It was a mistake also to suppose that the test had been abolished to favour the Free Church party. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had shown his impartiality by refusing to adopt the test which had been proposed, and which would have been conscientiously taken by members of the body to which the right hon. and learned Lord belonged, but would have excluded other Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and all Dissenters.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he must congratulate the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate on the dexterity with which he had changed his measure. It completely destroyed the jurisdiction of the Church of Scotland over the schools, and in lieu of that jurisdiction, which rendered the schools of Scotland models, in favour of a system of inspectors with no religious qualification whatever. That should warn the people of England how insidious were the attacks upon the Protestants system. The Bill had no recommendation save that it indirectly 374 accomplished those purposes which had been rejected by that House and the House of Lords. He looked upon it as a measure calculated to destroy the Church of Scotland, and give a heavy blow and a great discouragement to the Protestant Church of England. He was surprised that such a measure should be accepted by members for Scotland, but the English members, who had a duty to perform, would record their votes against it.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 149; Noes 79: Majority 70.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 3°, and passed.