HC Deb 06 March 1856 vol 140 cc1955-2015

* Sir, I never rose to address the House with greater anxiety than I feel upon the present occasion. The important subject I have to bring under its consideration but no attempt to carry a general measure has hitherto been successful, The task was attempted by Mr. Whitbread and Lord Brougham, and last year by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), who brought forward, with great research and great ability, a proposition for a Bill upon the subject. I am, therefore, about to embark upon a sea not only noted for dangerous shoals hidden rocks, but covered with the wrecks of the noble vessels that have preceded me. I trust, however, that the time is becoming more propitious to the adoption of a system of education which shall place this country on a more equal footing with the other enlightened nations of the world. We must indeed, on this occasion, waive the proud ambition which Milton claimed for his country when he said that England must not "forget her precedence in teaching the nations how to live;" but, on the other hand, we have before us an encouragement—the success of other nations in the adoption of schemes of national education, which have elevated the character of those nations. When, a little while ago, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department was asked a question with respect to the enact- ment of a general code of laws, and was reminded of the examples of Justinian and Napoleon, he replied very justly and reasonably that it was easier to frame and enact such a code by the will of an absolute Sovereign than to carry it through the Legislature of a free country. Such an observation would not apply to the present question. For not only wherever order is valued, in all those countries in which authority is most cared for, such as Austria and Prussia, have general systems of schools been framed and established; but where liberty is most revered, as in Switzerland and in the New England States of America, there also schemes of education have been devised and have been sanctioned by the law. In this country, in which liberty and order have existed together, and in which they are justly prized, we surely ought not be behind other nations in framing a system which shall be consonant with the genius of our institutions. In one of the answers given to Mr. Twisleton, when he was inquiring into the American system of education, there is a sentence which, as it came from the lips of a man who cannot be suspected of a want of love of liberty, and who certainly cannot be thought to have been deficient in attainments or in sagacity—I mean the late Daniel Webster—must, I think, command the attention of the House. After speaking with respect to that particular plan, Mr. Webster says— Although a little beside the immediate object of these inquiries, I may be permitted to add that, in my judgment, as the present tendency of things almost everywhere is to extend popular power, the peace and well-being of society require at the same time a corresponding extension of popular knowledge. I cannot but think that that sentence is characterised by great wisdom, and is one which the Legislature of this country will do well to ponder. As we see, I may say, every year an extension of popular power, and as only last year we took means to diffuse more generally and more cheaply the means of political information, so we ought to take care that popular knowledge should keep pace with the political information which we are extending and the political power which we are increasing.

The first question to which I shall address myself is the present state of education in this country. In doing so I think it due to the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J, Pakington) to say that, in following him, I have carefully examined the various authorities which he cited, and I must say that his research has been most accurate, and that his statements are most deserving of the attention and consideration of the House. I will not say that the inferences which he made and the conclusions at which he arrived in all instances meet my assent, but the general picture of the state of education which he drew was truly drawn from the facts which were before him, and which were obtained from the most trustworthy sources of information. Therefore, Sir, taking it for granted that the House hears in mind the statements which he made, and which were published not only in the ordinary manner, but in a corrected form by himself, I shall not think it necessary to repeat those particular statements. The Census of 1851 shows that there were then, speaking generally, about 4,000,000 children and young persons between the ages of five and fifteen. The returns and observations of Mr. Horace Mann show that 2,000,000 of these were entered upon the books of schools, and that about 1,750,000 were in attendance. When, however, these numbers are further examined, it will be seen that they give a very fallacious representation of the present state of popular education. The number of those who are educated in schools which have been inspected by the inspectors appointed by the Committee of Council is little more than 500,000; or only one-eighth of the number who are between the ages of five and fifteen. With regard to the rest, the numbers who are in attendance at dame schools of the lowest description, where they are receiving a nominal education, but are really not instructed, comprise a very considerable proportion of those for whom credit is taken in the educational statistics. I believe that there are at the head of schools 8,000 Church of England teachers who do not receive more than £28 a year; that there is a great number of other persons, women keeping dame schools, who do not receive more than £21 a year; and that there are, therefore, both schoolmasters and schoolmistresses in England, and these not a few, some of whom receive 11s. and others not more than 8s. a week. That such persons should be capable of imparting genuine and useful instruction is hardly to be expected. Indeed, the very reverse is the truth; and it is probably within the recollection of the House that the right hon. Baronet called attention last Session to the fact that no fewer than 700 of those who professed to be teachers of schools did not sign their names, but merely affixed their marks. Mr. Horner, alluding in one of his most recent Reports to the operation of the education clauses of the Factory Act, mentions that, having been struck with the ignorance of one of those so called "schoolmasters," he ventured to ask him whether he could read, and the reply was, "Yes, I can summat;" but it evidently did not appear to Mr. Horner that he had acquired the accomplishment in such perfection as to be able to read fluently. Thus it seems that a great deal of what appears upon the surface to be education is not genuine instruction, such as can be useful to those who receive it. I come, however, to the education given under the superintendence of the Committee of the Privy Council; and, in dealing with this subject, I think that we should do well to consider, first, what advantages are conferred under the Government system, and then the defects and imperfection with which that system is fairly chargeable. I think we shall be warranted in asserting that the grants which, since the year 1839, have been distributed under the superintendence of the President and Committee of the Privy Council have been the cause of great improvements in our national education. In the first place, there were, previously to that year, no normal schools in this country—no institutions for the special instruction of teachers. Since that time there have been, I think, fourteen normal schools for male teachers of the Church of England, eleven for mistresses of the same denomination, and about eight others, making in all some thirty-five or thirty-six training schools, in England and Wales, established at an expense of from £350,000 to £400,000, and all of them fully adequate, at the present moment, for the efficient discharge of the duties assigned to them. The standard of acquirement, and the method of instruction in the elementary schools, have also undergone material improvement. In a Report furnished by the Rev. Mr. Cook, one of the Government inspectors, there is an account of what he thinks a boy of twelve years old, at a good school in England, knows and is able to answer; and I find that the examination does not fall short of the requirements made in those continental schools which have been the subject of such high encomiums in this House and elsewhere.

I have somewhat abridged Mr. Cook's statements, but the following is the substance:— A boy of fair average attainments, at the age of twelve, in a good school, has learnt:—1. To read fluently, and with intelligence. 2. To write very neatly and correctly, from dictation and from memory. 3. To work all elementary rules of arithmetic with accuracy and rapidity. 4. To parse sentences (but progress in English grammar not satisfactory). 5. To know the elements of English history. 6. In geography the progress is generally satisfactory. 7. The elements of physical science. 8. The principles of political economy, with especial reference to the employment and remuneration of labour. 9. Drawing is taught with great care and skill in the several schools. That is certainly a very favourable account of the state of our elementary schools, where the boys have had the advantage of good masters, and have been well taught. It may be said'—and if I mistake not it was so stated last year—that it is a disadvantage attending these establishments and the system generally, that those who are the most promising boys at these schools—the pupil teachers—do not, as it was intended that they should, afterwards become schoolmasters, but that a large proportion of them embrace other occupations. Some of them may undertake the superintendence of schools, without going to a training school, but the number of these is not considerable. Mr. Moseley states, that in a particular year, of more than 800 pupil teachers, little more than 300 continued their career in training institutions. At the same time I am bound to add that, as far as my own judgment is concerned, I cannot regard this as a very serious disadvantage. For be it remembered that these boys have passed their time most usefully in instructing others; that they have been very well instructed themselves; and that, whereas many of them have been drawn from the poorest classes of society, they are now competent to rise by industry and by the exercise of the virtues instilled into them at school to stations not only respectable, but of high importance. We pride ourselves in this country, that persons in a humble station may attain to the most eminent positions; but unless they have obtained a good education, it is impossible for them to do so. It is not only chill penury, but dark ignorance, that prevents them from emerging from their lowly condition; but those boys who have acted as pupil teachers, whether on leaving school they take to commercial pursuits, or fill confidential situations, or whatever course of life they follow, have received a sound education, have before them a career of usefulness, and, it may be, of distinction. Assuredly it is no inconsiderable advantage that they should be thus circumstanced. I am decidedly of opinion, therefore, that with regard to the number of teachers who are educated, and in respect of the education of the children who, to the amount of 500,000, are brought up in these schools, the sums laid out by votes of this House, and granted to the various training and elementary schools throughout the country, have been well expended, and have produced an excellent return. But it is impossible not to admit that, while such have been the advantages, there have also been great deficiencies. Before proceeding, however, to consider these deficiencies, allow me to say that I do not think it was intended by those who, in 1839, commenced this system, that its plan should be such as to pervade the whole country. On the contrary, the object was rather to create models of teaching, and to exhibit such improvements in the mode of education, that the obstacles which stood in the way of a national system might, in the progress of time, be removed, and a scheme propounded for which experience might be said to presage success. In looking over the Reports of the inspectors of schools—themselves men of high attainments—for the year 1854, I am sorry to find that a tone of discouragement pervades many of them. They complain not only of an inadequate attendance at school, but that the boys leave school at too early an age. Mr. Moseley is a gentleman who, having had extensive experience in education, and having discharged in a most satisfactory manner the duties assigned to him by the Committee of the Privy Council, is a high authority on such subjects, and to the following passages in his Report I would earnestly direct the attention of the House. He says:— By the Census of 1851, it appears that, of the boys in England and Wales of all classes between the ages of 10 and 15 years, only 36 per cent are at school. The following are the numbers:—

"Boys between 10 and 15 years of age—

At school 348,438
At work 356,872
Neither at school nor at work 258,685
Total 963,995"

It therefore appears that there are only 36 per cent at school. Mr. Moseley continues:— This proportion includes the boys of the middle and upper classes, all of whom are at school between these ages; the proportion of the lower classes who are in the hands of the teacher after ten years of age is greatly less.

He then proceeds:— All your Lordships' efforts have hitherto had for their object the perfecting of the elementary school. You have entertained a hope, common to the friends of education in this country, 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, the parents would desire to send them longer; and that thus, by degrees, might he created among them a public opinion so far favourable to the school, as to induce them to make the sacrifice (for a time at least) of the wages which their children might earn by going to work. 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 school being now so good, the children (can get all the learning that they consider necessary for them earlier than they have heretofore done, and therefore they take them away sooner.

These conclusions of Mr. Moseley are supported by the testimony of the other inspectors. The inspector for the eastern counties states, that in certain schools which he examined, containing 2,606 boys, only 232 of that number were twelve years old; and only forty-eight of the 232 were the sons of labourers. In Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, and other counties, there were, in 1850, above twelve years of age, 9 per cent; above nine years of age 33 per cent; making together only 42 per cent. That was no very encouraging proportion; but, in 1853, above twelve years of age, there was a diminution to 8 per cent; and above nine years, to 31 per cent; making together only 39 per cent. Mr. Moseley asks whether the higher classes would be content to allow the education of their sons to cease when they reached the tender age of nine or ten years? A clergyman, writing to one of the inspectors from the parish of Ipstone, and comparing the present state of things with what previously prevailed, declares that there are now fewer children in his district who can really read and write than there used to be. Mr. Norris in his report of an examination made by him last year of the boys employed in the mines of Staffordshire, says that he found those boys, six of whom had been at school, in a state of the grossest ignorance. Those who had attended school had done so only till they were nine years old; and when he examined them they were between fourteen and fifteen. They were unable to tell how much 3s. a day would amount to in a week; and as to their religious knowledge, they did not know the names of the four Evangelists. To the question, "Which of the disciples betrayed Jesus?" they answered "Peter," or "Abraham." This was the educational state of those of the boys who had enjoyed the advantage of attending school. Such, then, being samples of the defects which prevail under the existing system, by which boys and girls above ten years of age in many instances hardly receive the benefit of any education, and the evil being one that is fast gaining ground, instead of undergoing mitigation from the improvements effected in the quality of the instruction given, I think it becomes the bounden duty of this House to consider what remedy should be applied. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Pakington) last year mentioned another obvious deficiency in the scheme of the Committee of Privy Council, which belonged, indeed, to the original conception of that scheme, but which, in any inquiry as to how a comprehensive system of national education may be devised, demands the utmost attention from Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman truly described the existing plan as one designed to give assistance to those who are able of themselves to provide, whether by subscriptions, by school pence, or from other sources, the needful funds for maintaining teachers and schools. The consequence of this, of course, is, that in those districts which, being poor, have not the requisite means, and in those others which, being rich, have not the inclination, to aid the cause of education, that cause does not prosper, and the population is allowed to remain in its original darkness. Having thus pointed out, but only very generally, the defects of the existing machinery, I will next explain what I conceive ought to be the course taken by the Legislature on this great subject. And, first, I think we should lay down two principles, from neither of which we ought, unless under circumstances of absolute necessity, to swerve. The one is to make the education of the country complete; and the other, to maintain and encourage, and, as far as possible, to improve what is good in the existing agencies. The first of these objects cannot be attained unless we bring the education of our people—of a rich, an intelligent, and a free country—to the high standard which has been reached by other nations which have adopted national systems. In Berne, for example, and in the more advanced cantons of Switzerland, nearly one out of every four of the population receives instruction in the public schools. In New England, again, the proportion is one in five. Now, estimating the population of our own country in 1851 at 18,000,000—and its amount must have considerably increased since that date—before we can have one out of every five of our people receiving education, no fewer than 3,600,000 out of the 4,000,000 persons returned in the Census as being between five and fifteen years of age must regularly attend public schools. I do not think that this is too high a point of excellence at which to aim—it has already been attained by other States not subject to arbitrary or absolute government, but as free and as jealous of the liberty and independence of their people as ourselves. We can undoubtedly vie with Switzerland in wealth; I trust we can also vie with New England in liberty; and I do not think we ought to be content with anything short of what these States have deemed necessary for their citizens. There is also one other country situated far nearer to ourselves, which, however much its educational pre-eminence may be matter of controversy in the present day, yet for a long and very remarkable period of history has been famous for its system of national education. I allude to Scotland. The admirable system established in that country soon after the Reformation was confirmed and strengthened at an early period subsequent to the Revolution of 1688. Every statesman who has spoken, every historian or philosopher who has written upon the subject, has regarded the Scottish system of education not only as a ground of just pride to that country, but as one main source of her greatness, and the spring of the superior moral and intellectual development of her people. In a parish of Scotland in which I happened to be residing during the Administration of Lord Derby, I inquired of a minister of religion there how many of the children belonging to his district were not receiving education. The answer I received was, that there was not a single child in the parish above seven years old who could not read. In regard, therefore, to the extensive prevalence of education among the population, the examples of Scotland, of Switzerland, and of the most enlightened portion of the United States of America offer an incentive to England to strive to attain a higher pitch of educational eminence. Let us next consider that other important element in this discussion—the instructional machinery at present in vigour and the schools already established. I have stated that those institutions now receive upwards of 500,000 scholars, but they are founded on this principle—that applications for assistance are usually made either to the inspectors or to the Committee of Privy Council by those who wish to establish schools; while no inquiry whatever is set on foot, and no obligation imposed, with respect to those localities which are wholly destitute of the means of instruction.

Before I explain the nature of the Resolutions I intend to submit to the House, I may perhaps be allowed to make a few observations with regard to the plan which the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Pakington) proposed last year. That right hon. Gentleman proposed a system of rating, and suggested the adoption of various regulations; but I think his plan was open to objection on the ground that it was permissive—an objection which equally applied to a Bill which I had the honour to introduce—and also on the ground that the education to be given in the schools which he proposed to establish was to be free. Now, I think it is clear that you can hardly maintain the present system of schools receiving grants from the Privy Council, and which are supported in a great measure by subscriptions, if you establish a system of free schools. I think it is obvious that, in places where free schools are established, persons who wish to obtain education for their sons and daughters will resort to those schools; and consequently the schools which have hitherto been maintained by the subscriptions of individuals who have worked zealously and earnestly to promote their success will be entirely superseded by the free schools which the right hon. Baronet desires to establish. In proposing, as I do, to adopt the existing system as the foundation of any new plan of education, it is necessary that we should consider how far that system can be improved. I do not wish to enter into detail upon this subject, because there is fortunately a measure now before the House which may afford the means of improving the existing system. I allude to the Bill which gives the Crown the power of appointing a Vice President of the Committee of Council for Education. The present system of education is, I think, susceptible of improvement in many respects, and if we have in this House a Vice President of the Committee of Council, who will be able to discuss with us the various points which may be raised when the grants are moved, I have no doubt we shall be enabled to introduce many improvements and materially to extend the existing system. I wish to mention one mode in which the system of grants may be enlarged. Various restrictions are now imposed which may have been necessary or expedient when the Minutes of Council were first promulgated, but which I think it is unnecessary to continue. For instance, it is now provided that, when a school is connected with a church or chapel, it shall not receive any assistance from the Committee of Council on Education. I think that if you established a good system of inspection, if you took care that the schools were efficient, and if your inspection extended, as it does now—with the exception of Church schools—only to secular instruction, it ought to be no objection that a school is connected either with a church or a dissenting chapel. I do not wish to fatigue the House by going into details; but there are various other restrictions established by the Minutes and correspondence of the Committee of Council which I think may be usefully reconsidered. These Minutes of Council having been adopted at various times, and as new questions arose, it is in my opinion very important that they should be revised and consolidated, that they should be made more clear and intelligible, that they should assume the form of a systematic plan, and that they should not be, as they are, scattered through numerous volumes, rendering it a work of difficulty to ascertain what is the rule of the Committee upon any particular question which may arise. I shall therefore propose as a first Resolution:— 1. 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.

Another defect in the existing system is, I think, that where there is light you add to that light, but where there is darkness you afford no light whatever. It is necessary, in my opinion, for the purpose of carrying the plan already adopted further, that you should institute inquiries with respect to the state of education in every part of England and Wales. I do not propose for this purpose to increase the number of inspectors; but I propose to add to them a very numerous class of sub-inspectors, to whom it will not be necessary to give any very high rate of payment, and to whom may be committed the inspection of comparatively small districts of the country. There are in England and Wales fifty-two counties, and twenty-six of those counties are divided under the Reform Act. There is, besides, the Isle of Wight, which forms a separate district. I do not say that these divisions should be maintained exactly, but I think the area of a county, or the area of a division of one of the larger counties, would be a sufficiently large district for the care and attention of a sub-inspector. Thus there would be seventy-nine divisions for the purpose of public education, or, dividing the West Riding of Yorkshire, we may say eighty. The sub-inspectors to be appointed for these divisions would act under the present inspectors, of whom there are twenty-four for Church schools, and sixteen for other schools. I propose, therefore, as a second Resolution:— 2. 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. 3. That it is expedient to appoint sub-inspectors of British, Wesleyan, and other Protestant schools not connected with the Church, and also of Roman Catholic schools, according to the present proportions of inspectors of such schools to the inspectors of church schools. 4. 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.

It is obvious that the present divisions into parishes are not in all cases the most convenient divisions for educational purposes The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) urged that point upon the attention of the House last year. I then differed from him in opinion, but, I must own, I am now satisfied that his views were perfectly correct. I think that in many cases two or three of the small parishes may be united into a school district; but, on the other hand, there are immense and populous parishes which are far too extensive to be governed as single school districts, and which it would therefore be convenient to divide. What I propose, therefore, is, that the sub-inspectors should submit their views to the inspectors, and that the President of the Committee of Council, and the Committee itself, having the whole case before them, should by their own authority divide the whole of England and Wales into school districts. Of course it will be matter of consideration whether these arrangements, when made, should not be confirmed by the authority of an Order in Council. It appears to me that, having twenty-four inspectors find eighty sub-inspectors, they would be able to recommend in what manner the divisions might be most conveniently formed. The consequence of this system would be, that the sub-inspectors would be able to ascertain and to report in what particular places the means of education were deficient. I propose, therefore, in another Resolution— 5. 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.

It may be that in many of these parishes and districts there will be a willingness on the part of the owners of land and the inhabitants generally to build schools and to introduce the present system of education. But we must see what aid is available for this end. There is one kind of assistance which is now scantily received, but which, I think, might be considerably enlarged. I mean the aid to be obtained from the endowed charities of this country. I have the honour of being one of the Commissioners of Charities—not certainly a very active one; but I have seen enough in that Commission to be convinced that, while the Commissioners are most zealous and laborious in performing the work assigned to them, their powers are not sufficient, and that Parliament ought to be asked to extend those powers. The defects are of several kinds. One is, that there are few cases in which the Commissioners have power to do more than give advice. If that advice is taken, the trustees of the charity are, I believe, saved from any penal consequences; but, if the trustees do not take the advice, there are no means of enforcing it. The Commissioners have pointed out several of these defects in a Report which, I understand, has just been laid on the table of the House. In other instances, where the trustees are quite willing to act on the advice of the Commissioners, it is necessary, according to the present state of the law, that the Commissioners should send them before some Court in order to obtain that which they desire. Thus very large expenses, compared with the means of the charities, are incurred. There were upwards of 28,000 charities reported upon by the Commissioners. Of these there are about 21,000 the income of which is under £20 a-year. Many, of course, have incomes under £5, and a considerable number even of the larger ones cannot bear the expense, which is seldom less than £30, of going into the Court of Chancery in order to obtain a decree of that Court. One or two instances came before me in which, I think, a remedy is required, and in which the present law acts as a grievance to the public. There was a case in which the trustees, very laudably as I believe—at all events from the best of motives—wished to remove a schoolmaster whom they deemed inefficient. The schoolmaster resisted them before the Court of Chancery, and put them to the expense of £200 without costs. There was some technical defect in the mode of dismissing the schoolmaster, and the decision was against them. They amended that defect, and went again to the Court. This time they were successful, and the schoolmaster was removed. But the expense of the second application to the Court was £1,200 to be added to the £200 before incurred, making the total cost £1,400—a large sum to be paid by the trustees for wishing to carry into effect an object useful to the charity, and conformable to the purposes for which it was founded. I was told, when I was struck with the enormity of the case, that there was a remedy; but what do you think was the remedy? Why, that these trustees, who had spent £1,400 in going before the Court of Chancery, had the power of again applying to the same Court to have that £1,400 paid to them out of the funds of the charity? And what were the funds of the charity? They were £70 a-year for the purposes of education; and out of that small sum they were to ask for £1,400 as a fine for having attempted to place the charity upon a sound footing! There was another case in which there was some difference as to which parish should be the recipient of the charity. The money was left to a certain parish along with some adjoining parishes; but the sum was not large, and its possession was disputed. The Commissioners had no other course to pursue than to send the parties before the Court of Chancery. I asked, sitting there at the Board, what would be the result of the permission which we were giving these parties to go before the Court, and the reply I immediately received was, that the whole of the funds of the charity would be dissipated, and no part of them would remain. Such is the only remedy allowed by the law as it stands at present. Now, it appears to me, with respect to many of these cases, that great improvements might be made. I had placed in my hands yesterday by that excellent friend of education, the Dean of Hereford, a sermon on the subject of the misapplication of charity, and he places in the first line the funds that have been left for charities, doles of bread and other eleemosynary gifts, which are, in fact, not only not useful, but positively injurious to the recipients and to the parishes in which they are distributed. Well, if the Commissioners had the power in such cases as I have mentioned of applying these funds to the foundation or enlargement of good schools—if, where there are apprenticeships, they had the power of making those apprenticeships prizes for the boys who have distinguished themselves at such schools, and who wish to have the means of getting on in the world—a great public benefit would be secured. I know no reason against it, except that both in this and the other House of Parliament there is such influence possessed by lawyers belonging, or who have belonged, to the Chancery bar that there is very little chance of any remedy being applied unless the Government act with determination. A great Chancellor of France —Chancellor d' Agueseau—was asked one day whether he was not struck by the abuses existing in the courts that were subject to him, and whether he had never thought of reforming them? He replied, "I have very often thought of it, but when I reflected on the number of barristers, of proctors, and of solicitors who would be ruined by a reform, I have refrained from attempting it." I believe that many of the reforms I have mentioned might be usefully made, and that, so far from the apprehension of Chancellor d'Agueseau being realised, they would have the effect of increasing the legal as well as all the other business of the country; so that we should probably find the Chancery barristers more flourishing than before. I therefore propose, in the 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 use- less or injurious to the public be applied to the education of the middle and poorer class of the community.

A clause to that effect was recently submitted to the House of Lords, but it was not adopted, and it was thought dangerous to entrust such powers to any body out of the courts of equity. Having applied all the means which are at present within our reach, or may be within our reach, I now come to consider whether it would be sufficient to have an account of the state of every parish and district in town and country, and to apply existing means, aided by increased grants, to make up the immense deficiency which now exists. I am bound to say that I think in many cases the existing means would be found inadequate. I am bound to say, likewise, that I think the remedy proposed equally by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich and myself, giving permissive powers to parishes and districts, would not be found sufficient for the purposes in view. It is but too likely that in places where the greatest want existed the most influence would be employed to prevent the establishment of schools, the permissive power would not be exercised, and the same ignorance would continue. I come, therefore, to the conclusion that not only should a rate in such cases be allowed, but there should be a power existing somewhere of compelling those parishes and districts which had been marked out by the inspectors, and which had been declared by the Committee of Privy Council to be adequately supplied with the means of education, to levy a rate. The mode in which I would propose to do this is to empower any persons, whether inspectors or ratepayers, to apply to the quarter sessions of the county, city, or borough, as the case may be, and to complain, in the same way as in the case of an impassable highway through the parish which required repair, of the want or in-sufficiency of the means of education. Thereupon an order should be made upon the parish or district to levy a rate for the purposes of education. I do not state the amount of the rate. Of course that would have to be done in the Bill. and when the details of the measure were considered would be the time to fix the amount of the rate. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich proposes that it should not exceed 6d. perhaps it would not be necessary to go so far as that; but that there should be a rate adequate for the purpose is, I think, absolutely essential. The seventh, eighth, and ninth Resolutions which I shall propose are as follows:— 7. 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. 8. That after the 1st of Junuary, 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. 9. That where a school rate is imposed, a school committee elected by the ratepayers should appoint the school masters and mistresses, and make regulations for the management of the schools.

Having arrived, therefore, at the power to impose a school rate, whether by the rate-payers themselves, or, in their default, by some superior authority, I come to consider one of the most difficult parts of this question. As long as you have subscribers who take the management of schools, you may rely on them—you have relied on them—for the general principles upon which they should conduct their schools. The Committee of Council of Education have, from the first, adopted that mode, of entrusting either great societies, or persons well known for their views and character, with the task of giving education to the poor of their districts. In the case of the Church schools, after a very considerable time spent in discussion and negotiation, it was agreed upon by Lord Lansdowne and others, of whom I was one, on the part of the Committee of Council; and by the late Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and the late Bishop of Salisbury on the other part, that the Church schools should be open to inspection, but that the inspectors should in every case be appointed with the consent of the Archbishop, I think, and the Bishop of the diocese in which the inspectors were to exercise their duty. Be it observed with respect to the inspectors of Church schools, that they, being thus appointed, and the Church being connected with the State, received accounts concerning these schools, and inspected the religious as well as the secular education given. With regard to other schools, the British and Foreign School Society, the Conference of the Wesleyans, and afterwards the Roman Catholics, asked for a similar arrangement—namely, that, while they admitted the inspection of their schools, no inspectors should be appointed who were repugnant to them, and to whose appointment they were not parties. With respect to these bodies—namely, the Established Church, the British and Foreign School Society, the Wesleyans, and Roman Catholics—their principles are all well known. It is perfectly well known that they will give religious instruction according to the tenets they hold sacred; and therefore the Committee of Privy Council, in handing over to them the grants, and in inspecting their schools, with respect to secular education, have a full security that religious instruction would be secured. There has been a dispute—and it is worth the while of the House to attend to it for a moment, because it shows in what manner this instruction is carried into effect—there has been a dispute between the British and Foreign School Society and the body of Unitarians, as to their mode of teaching. The British and Foreign School Society declared from the commencement that their schools were schools for all; that they would have the Bible read and taught in their schools, but that they would not adopt any formula either of the Church or any particular denomination. The Unitarian body then said, "It is true that is your rule, but the oral instruction you give touches certain doctrines of Christianity from which we dissent, and therefore you do not carry those views of perfect equality which you profess into effect." The British and Foreign School Society replied, that they had only taught that which they thought the plain meaning of the Bible in the lessons they read; but they do not deny that they do teach those distinctive doctrines which separate the Church, and all those bodies of Dissenters called Orthodox Dissenters, from the Unitarians. Therefore, in this case, that Society seems to give the utmost latitude by only reading the Scriptures; but with respect to certain doctrines, their oral instruction is uniform and defined. With regard to the Church, the Roman Catholic, and Wesleyan schools, a definite and known religious Christian instruction is given. Such, then, is the present state of the case. I am not now arguing whether that is wisely done, but the House should be informed of the security they have, and what is the plan on which these grants are given. Now, when we ask that a rate should be levied, the case is altered. You have no longer a security in the religious character of the body to whom the grant is made. I think it is quite impossible to bind the ratepayers to give the money which they so raise either exclusively to Church schools, or exclusively to schools of any religious denomination. They must have a great latitude and liberty left them with respect to the education they give; but then the question arises, whether any condition whatever should be imposed on them, and, if any, what that condition should be?

This is a question of the utmost gravity and importance, one which the House may have frequently to consider, and it is one on which I am far from saying that I have arrived at a conclusion which may not be overturned by the decision of this House. But such as that conclusion is, I will state it to the House. In the two instances I have mentioned of two free States having established schools—namely, Switzerland and the United States of America—a very different course has been pursued. As far as I understand it, the State of Berne gives a Protestant instruction, and the canton of Friburg a Roman Catholic instruction; but in each case those who are not willing to receive the religious instruction are at liberty to abstain from it, and in that way the principle of religious liberty is respected. In the United States, and more especially in the instance I am going to quote—that of Massachusetts—a different course is taken, and I think it is desirable that the House should know what that course is, and what are the various proceedings on this point; so that when the House ultimately comes to a decision on this great question, it should have the whole matter under its consideration. The State of Massachusetts has an enactment on this subject to the following effect— It shall be the duty of the president, professors, and tutors of the University at Cambridge, and of the several colleges, and of all preceptors and teachers of academies and all other instructors of youth, to exert their best endeavours to impress on the minds of children and youth committed to their care and instruction the principles of piety and justice, and a sacred regard to truth, love to their country, humanity, and universal benevolence, sobriety, industry and frugality, chastity, moderation and temperance, and those other virtues which are the ornament of human society, and the basis upon which a Republican constitution is founded," &c.

Now, it is obvious that, so far as these words are concerned, they might have been enacted by the Senate of Rome before the introduction of Christianity; for there is nothing in these words which bears the mark of any distinct Christian character. It is, however, quite certain that many eminent men—the late Mr. Webster, whom I have already quoted, Mr. Everett, Mr. Winthrop, Mr. Prescott, and many others, distinguished in literature and in political affairs—have given their opinions in favour of this system. They have stated that, receiving instruction at the public schools during the week, and afterwards on Sunday receiving distinct religious instruction either at Sunday schools or at home, the children of the State of Massachusetts are brought up as good Christians, and that the religious character of the State is preserved. Bishop Eastburn says, "It is a fact that no person suspected of entertaining irreligious sentiments would be employed as a teacher in any of the schools." That is a remarkable testimony; and if it be the case that no person who is known to hold, or who is suspected of holding, irreligious opinions is employed as a teacher, and if the ministers of religion are zealous and active, if there prevails, as there always has prevailed, in New England from the time of the departure of the first emigrants from this country, a strong Christian and religious sentiment, then it may be perfectly true that these schools are favourable to the Christian character of the country. On the other hand, Mr. Tremenhere speaks of several persons who were suspicious of such schools, and who thought they perceived a difference in the people with regard to the knowledge of Christian doctrines. All that I can say is, that I should be very loath to give any opinion which was opposed to that of the eminent men whom I have quoted, and, above all, to give an opinion with respect to a particular scheme of education which had been adopted by wise statesmen in a foreign country; and if it he the case that the Christian character of the community is preserved, if brotherly love and Christian charity are promoted by this scheme, I can only rejoice in its success. But with regard to our own country, I feel that, not only are there great authorities against it, but that there is a strong public sentiment which would not approve the enactment of such a law as I have just described. In the first place, I will ask leave of the House to read the opinion of a man whose opinion, whenever it is quoted, is always quoted with respect—the opinion of one of the most virtuous and religious of men—I mean Dr. Arnold. He says— On the whole I am quite clear as to my original position, namely, that if you once get off from the purely natural ground of physical science, philology, and pure logic—the moment, in short, on which you enter on any moral subjects, whether moral philosophy or history—you must either be Christian or anti-Christian; for you touch upon the ground of Christianity, and you must either take it as your standard of moral judgment or you must renounce it, and either follow another standard or have no standard at all. In other words, again, the moment you touch on what alone is education—the forming of the moral principles and habits of man—neutrality is impossible; it would be very possible if Christianity consisted really in a set of theoretical truths, as many seem to fancy; but it is not possible, inasmuch as it claims to be the paramount arbiter of all our moral judgments; and he who judges of good and evil, right and wrong, without reference to its authority, virtually denies it.

That was the opinion of Dr. Arnold, and I will add to it the opinion of one of the present inspectors, a man of great intelligence, whose experience, at least, is worth consulting with respect to our national schools— I mean the Rev. Mr. Cook. I have quoted from him already, when speaking of the secular studies of the schools and the proficiency of the scholars in geography, arithmetic, and various other subjects. Immediately in continuation of that passage, he says— I have confined my observations hitherto to the secular aspect of school studies, because objections are generally made by persons who believe that the time of children in national schools is absorbed by the Church Catechism and unintelligent reading of the Old Testament. But I do feel bound once more to record an opinion, deliberately formed and confirmed by a long and minute acquaintance with the working of elementary schools, that the one great influence which has elevated and developed the intelligence of these children, which has given clearness and accuracy to their perceptions, which has moulded their judgment, exercised their reason, and expanded their imagination, has been the careful, daily, and uninterrupted study of the Word of God. The religious instruction of our best schools is of an excellence which has never been rivalled in any system of national education, and which can be appreciated only by those who have had opportunities both of constantly examining the children under instruction, and of watching the effects of that teaching upon their conduct in after life. I know many young men and women who are now doing their duty humbly and faithfully in their appointed sphere of action, who gratefully attribute the measure of success that has rewarded their exertions to the impressions, instruction, and habits acquired in national schools.

The opinion of Dr. Arnold, supported as it is by the experience of so intelligent an officer of the Committee of Council on Education, must have great weight in determining this question. I can but think myself that there is, in fact, only one question to be considered—namely, whether you will have schools confined to those secular objects to which I have just adverted, or whether you will introduce into them moral instruction? If you confine them to arithmetic, geography, and the like studies, it certainly is not necessary that you should have any religious teaching at all; but when you require more than this—and I think almost everybody does require more—when you lay it down that your object in educating the young is to give them a moral training, favourable to the good order of society, favourable to the performance of their duties, and likely to be of use to them here and to tend to their welfare hereafter, then I think you cannot do this separate from the Christian religion.

But when we come to consider how such a plan is to be carried into practice, we undoubtedly meet with very great difficulties. If we pass the point over altogether—if we merely say, as I have already said in the preceding Resolution, that schools shall be established and schoolmasters appointed—we may seem to neglect the very greatest subject of all. If, on the other hand, we attempt to prescribe too much, if we give an advantage to the Established Church or to any other denomination, then the great principle of religious liberty is infringed. The only conclusion to which I can arrive is that, as the authority of the Scriptures is generally acknowledged in this country, Parliament may justly say that in all schools established by the State, the Holy Scriptures shall be daily read, but that at the same time every parent or guardian who wishes his child not to receive that religious instruction shall be at liberty to withdraw it. I do not think you can pass the subject over altogether, and I do not think you can venture to go further than that which I propose in this Resolution. The Resolution is as follows:— 10. That in every school supported in whole or in part by rates, a portion of the Holy Scriptures should be read daily in the school, and such other provision should be made for religious instruction as the school committee may think fit, but that no child should be compelled to receive any religious instruction or attend any religious worship to which his or her parents or guardians shall on conscientious grounds object.

This provision, of course, will be fully discussed in any Bill which may be intro- duced for the purpose of giving powers to raise a rate for school purposes. The House may arrive at a different conclusion from that to which I have come, but, while I agree that the grants should be given, as they always have been, to the various denominations, I do not think you could tax the ratepayers of the community without, on the one hand, requiring daily reading of the Scriptures, and, on the other, giving complete freedom to the parents to withdraw their children from all religious instruction.

Sir, after this comes a difficulty to which I have already adverted, and which is one of the greatest in this subject—namely, the attendance of children after they are ten or eleven years of age. I think we must all agree that an education which is to end at nine or ten years of age is not likely duly to impress the minds and hearts of children, and that it is desirable by all means to obtain the attendance at school of those who are between the ages of ten and fourteen.

With regard to one portion of the community, we have enactments to which Mr. Horner has pointed in one of his late Reports as having been completely and entirely successful. I mean those enactments which require the attendance of factory children at school during a portion of the day. Not only does Mr. Horner say that the system has been successful, but he also says that which I have heard confirmed from various quarters by men who are conversant with these schools and with others, that the children who have attended only half the day, sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, at school, have by the earnest attention which they gave to their lessons, become qualified to compete, and have competed with others who have attended the whole day, for the offices of pupil teachers. If that be so, although we could not in the case of all occupations enact that a child should be one-half the day at school and the other at work, I think we might enact that the employer should give either the half days or a certain number of days in the year for the purpose of attendance at school. I find it is stated by more than one inspector that not only do many employers give no facilities for education, but that they make it a condition, with the boys and girls whom they employ that they shall not attend at school, and thereby debar them from receiving its benefits. Difficult as it may be to carry such an enactment into effect, and partial as may be its operation at the present time. I should propose:— 11. That employers of children and young persons between nine and fifteen years of age should be required to furnish certificates half-yearly of the attendance of such children and young persons at school, and to pay for such instruction.

With regard to the last part of this Resolution, I find that a noble Lord, who is a great employer of labour, and at the same time a most enlightened man, and who has shown great regard for the welfare of those in his employment—I mean the Earl of Ellesmere—has provided that all persons under a certain age who are engaged at his collieries shall contribute 2d. per week to the support of the schools which they are required to attend. I do not see that it would be unadvisable or impossible that that which Lord Ellesmere does of his own free will for the benefit of those in his employment should be done generally by authority of Parliament.

There remain, finally, a very large class with whom it is still more difficult to deal—the class of children and persons between the ages of ten and fifteen years of age, who are neither at school nor at any sort of work, but are, in fact, idle in the streets and fields. Now, I do not think it would be possible—I should be glad if it were—to compel the parents of these children to send them to school. I do not think that you could, by any enactment, reach the parents in such places as Birmingham, Sheffield, and others, in which, however, we have to lament the greatest evils arising from a neglect of attendance at school; but it may be observed, that so far as it can be ascertained, the reason why many of the parents of those boys who are earning nothing do not send them to school is, that they are unable to bear the cost of doing so. They, therefore, after having them at school for a year or two, say, from the age of eight to ten, take them away. I know, however, by the experience of schools in our immediate neighbourhood—the Borough Road school for instance—that parents, so long as they can afford it, are very glad that while they are at work their children should be at school, and should thus be kept out of harm's way, and be prevented from being led by idle boys in the streets into the commission of offences. I, therefore, believe that if it could be made possible, parents would generally desire that their children of from ten to fourteen years of age should, when not in employment, receive education. One scheme for effecting this, which has been proposed in Staffordshire by Mr. Tremenhere, is that called the prize scheme, according to which prizes are given to those who remain at school after a certain age. Another plan which might be adopted would be, that after children had been at school for two or three years, if they remained after eleven or twelve years of age, the school fee paid by them should be considerably diminished. A third plan, which has in many cases been successful, would be the establishment of evening schools. Another mode, of which I am sure that my hon. Friend near me (Mr. Ewart) will approve, would be to invite young men to attend libraries, which should be adapted to their capacity, and the books in which should be calculated to amuse as well as to instruct them, thus inducing them to keep up the knowledge of the arts of reading and writing which they have acquired at an early age, and which they might otherwise lose by want of employing it. Not very long ago I was with a clergyman in Oxfordshire who has adopted this scheme. He has set up a village library—I believe others have done the same—and he told me that he had found it very successful. He has a large room, which is lighted up in the evenings. It is supported by those who can afford it, and is frequented even by the sons of labourers. I believe that by efforts of this kind, made perhaps in the first instance by the Committee of Council on Education, and afterwards, if necessary, encouraged by the enactment of law, we might remedy a great part of the evils which I have pointed out. I, therefore, by my last Resolution, propose— 12. That it is expedient that every encouragement should be given by prizes, by diminution of school fees, by libraries, by evening schools, and other methods, to the instruction of young persons between twelve and fifteen years of age.

These, Sir, are the Resolutions which I have framed for the purpose of bringing this great subject under the consideration of the House. I am of opinion that they are calculated to reach the whole extent of the evil. I think we ought to attempt no less. If we can do it better, let us; but I believe that in the present state of the world and of this country you ought not to do less than to attempt the complete education of the people. I have heard much of "the dangerous classes," and I believe there could be no class more dangerous than one which, acquiring a little knowledge of reading, perhaps a little learning, would become discontented with the religion and with the political institutions of their country. If Parliament enacts wise laws on this subject, I believe that the young who are educated under them may become the support of all these institutions, of course amending them where they are defective—examining, perhaps, with a jealous and suspicious eye, the abuses which are alleged to exist, but not falling off in loyalty, or despising the laws and customs of their forefathers. I should perhaps, say, that no plan such as that which I have explained to the House could he carried into effect without a very considerable increase of expenditure. Looking at the returns, and at the work of Sir J. K. Shuttleworth—he and his brother have been most valuable contributors to our knowledge of this subject—I find that the expense per annum for each child's attendance at school may be calculated at about 18s. I think Sir J. K. Shuttleworth says, that the cost, exclusive of the expense of the schoolmaster's house, would be 16s. per child per annum. Taking the expense at 18s. per head, the cost of educating the 3,600,000 persons whom I have mentioned would be about £3,240,000 a year. That sum would be raised in various ways, partly by subscriptions, partly by school pence, partly by grants, partly by charitable endowments, and partly by rates. It is not a very great expense when compared either with the sums which are granted for this purpose in foreign countries, or with the magnitude of the object which we have in view. I have proposed that which I believe to be the best plan for providing for the education of the people. If a better plan is proposed, let it be adopted; but I do hope that before long the Legislature of this country will deal with this subject—that it will not allow either religious differences or financial obstacles to be placed in the way of raising the religious, moral, and political character of this country, and that some plan of national education will be adopted and carried into effect.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That in the opinion of this House it is expedient to extend, revise, and consolidate the Minutes of the Committee of the Privy Council of Education.


said, he felt that the House would agree with him in the sense he entertained of the full, clear, and lucid manner in which the noble Lord had brought the subject under consideration. The noble Lord had gone through it in a way that was most interesting to those who had paid attention to the subject of general education; and in very many of his propositions he (Mr. Henley) concurred. He understood, however, that it was not the intention of the noble Lord to ask the House to any immediate discussion of the Resolutions. [Lord J. RUSSELL: Not till after Easter.] He would not, therefore, then offer any criticisms on them, and he would confine himself to such observations as were necessary to obtain information upon some points which had struck him as the noble Lord went on, and which he had not sufficiently explained. In the first place, as regarded the financial part of the question, which the noble Lord touched on the last. The noble Lord did not indicate what, in the event of the rates coming into use, was to become of the voluntary contributions. He should wish the noble Lord to make that clear, as it did not seem so to him (Mr. Henley) at present. It was, however, a matter of detail, and it might be that the noble Lord had designedly reserved it for future consideration. Then, again, there was another branch of the subject as to which he could not but regret that the noble Lord had not been more explicit—namely, how be proposed to deal with that large portion of the juvenile community who at present did not go to any school whatever. It was, no doubt, a misfortune that children should be removed from school at too early a period; but it was a still greater calamity that they should not go to school at all. Unhappily, there were thousands so circumstanced, and the noble Lord would appear to have totally overlooked their case. All that could he gathered from the noble Lord's speech was, that he did not think it could be made compulsory on parents to send their children to school. His Resolutions, therefore, whatever their merit in other respects, did not offer a solution of one of the great problems involved in the education question. There was another part of the subject which required explanation also—that of inducing masters and the employers of labour to give greater aid to the establishment of schools than they now did. The noble Lord seemed to say that he would make it imperative on masters to allow children in their employment to attend school for a certain period every day; but, as he did not propose to couple that obligation with any enactment making it compulsory on masters to employ the labour of children, it was difficult to understand how his system would promote what appeared to be the great desideratum—the necessary education of the people. There were one or two points of the noble Lord's plan which he had heard with great satisfaction, because they demonstrated the noble Lord's concurrence with that which, in his (Mr. Henley's) opinion, was one of particular importance—namely, the necessity of a religious basis for a national education. The noble Lord had laid it down as his opinion—an opinion which he fortified by the high authority of Dr. Arnold—that it was quite impossible to teach any system of morality unless it were founded on Christianity. [Lord J. RUSSELL assented.] In that sentiment he (Mr. Henley) entirely concurred. He firmly believed that those who thought they could teach children not to lie, or swear, or steal, without founding their teaching on the highest obligations—those of religion—would be wholly deceived. But the noble Lord did not pause there. He went a step further—and it was a point of the greatest importance—he said that, with the views of religious freedom prevalent in this country it was not possible for the State to impose a particular system of religious teaching upon any person. In the first instance, the noble Lord admitted that for moral teaching there must be a religious foundation; and he then illustrated his position by a reference to the schools of the British and Foreign Society, where, although no formulary was used, there was orally a distinctive religious teaching. But, with the noble Lord's views of religious freedom, how was that precedent to be made available for national purposes?—how was it to be interwoven in a grand scheme of national instruction? The noble Lord said that if a parent objected to religious teaching, the child should be exempt from religious instruction. There was something of inconsistency in the arguments of the noble Lord, for, while he admitted what he (Mr. Henley) was delighted to hear from such high authority, that there was no sure foundation for morality except in religious teaching, but that, in this country, it was out of the question to impose a system of religious teaching on any one, did it not strike the noble Lord that, on his own showing, it would be impossible that the child should have moral teaching if he was not to have religious teaching? He entirely agreed with the noble Lord as to what ought to be the object of the Legislature in the matter of national education; and in respect to the noble Lord's calculation of the number of children that ought to be brought within the operation of a general system of education in this country, he did not think it excessive; neither did he think that he had placed at too high a standard the quality of the education which they might hope would be eventually imparted; but he thought the noble Lord had fallen into an error habitual to the advocates of popular education in this country, that of endeavouring to get too much at once. Some years ago expectations had been raised too high on that point, and they naturally produced disappointment as the result. What Mr. Moseley said was right—namely, that parties who would have a voice in the matter, the parents of the children, when they thought their children had got education enough took them away from school. The Privy Council saw this; for it now gave assistance, at least within the last year, to the humbler classes of schools, which it had always refused before. He (Mr. Henley) could not tell how the experiment would work; but he believed that one of the causes which had led to the disappointment he mentioned, was the attempt to take too many steps at once. In educating a nation, the progress should be gradual, if it was desired to be certain and effective. He (Mr. Henley) would ask any man who knew the habits of the people of this country thirty years ago, whether there was not now a much greater desire to read books, and a much greater willingness to go to school, than there was at that period? That arose from the circumstance that a certain amount of education had been disseminated among the lower classes which was leavening the mass, and every day gained something for them step by step. He thought the people would be more willing to send their children to school, if they sought to teach them that which they think they can best understand themselves. The noble Lord had gone through a sort of caricature of study, founded on the opinions of the inspectors, for children up to twelve. There was a considerable population in this country not tainted by crime, who were not disposed to give any education to their children which they could not themselves understand. If the children of these people were taught to read and write, and to know the elementary rules of arithmetic, there would be no objection on their parts, for few, high or low, but would admit that they were desirable for children. Of course he (Mr. Henley) coupled with it the proper amount of moral and religious teaching. But when the elements of certain sciences came to be added, and a competent knowledge of political economy to boot, the parents of these children might be talked to for a week before they could be made to comprehend their utility; and as to persuading a man to keep his child at school from ten to twelve, for the purpose of learning these things, while he could get 3s. or 4s. a week for the child's labour, during that time, it would be a fruitless task. Such a person might reply, and not altogether without truth, "Political economy may be a good thing or a bad, but I do not understand it; but I do understand the necessity of filling my boy's belly; and I therefore prefer that he should go to work and help to maintain himself." The noble Lord had not overstated, in his opinion, the number of children who did not go to school at all; on the contrary, he (Mr. Henley) was inclined to think the noble Lord had under-estimated them. He (Mr. Henley) had given some attention to the subject, and he believed that the conclusions of the Census were not overstated in that respect. There was one point, however, in which the Census was in error, because many infant schools, in which babies under five years old were merely taken care of and taught nothing, were made to swell the proportion of children receiving education. The fact, indeed, cut both ways, for it also showed the low standard of acquirements in those to whose custody large numbers of young children were entrusted. He (Mr. Henley) should be very glad to give the noble Lord's Resolutions all the consideration which their intrinsic importance demanded, and which was demanded also by the character of the noble Lord and by the ability with which he had brought the subject forward. One point more, however, he felt bound to refer to. The noble Lord had gone, perhaps unnecessarily, out of the beaten track of his subject to deal with the collateral question of the charities of England. Various Acts of Parliament had been passed for the purpose of regulating and administering these charities; what the noble Lord, however, proposed to do would lay the door open so widely to innovation on this point as would no doubt have the effect of leaving on the minds of many persons an impression that his plan amounted to their confiscation. He (Mr. Henley) thought the noble Lord had been rather hard upon the hon. and learned Members of that House, from whom the House had always received the greatest aid and assistance. He had chosen to say, that in consequence of the large infusion of the Chancery element into this and the other House of Parliament, he almost despaired of obtaining a settlement of this matter at all satisfactory to his mind; and not only this, but he also threw out the insinuation that these hon. and learned Gentlemen would probably be influenced by sordid motives arising from the probable loss of business owing to the cessation of litigation respecting charities. The noble Lord would forgive him for saying, that he thought the remarks he made in reference to these hon. and learned Members were not worthy of the subject, of the manner in which it was treated by him, or of the noble Lord himself, and were certainly unjust towards those against whom they were directed. No doubt the principles which governed Chancery law were capable of occasional perversion; but there could be as little question that they were based on the highest species of human justice; and it was because of the firm expression that had been given to that sacred principle by the "Chancery element," unmixed by the base motives which the noble Lord had been pleased to impute, that Parliament had been prevailed upon in many instances to withhold its sanction from meditated acts of spoliation. The noble Lord's Resolutions had given the House a thesis for consideration much larger than the ensuing recess would afford them an opportunity for mastering; but, at all events, when the House reassembled, hon. Members would come to the discussion in a spirit that the subject was one on which they could have but one interest, and that in all they could do for the benefit of the humbler classes and the due development of their moral and intellectual faculties, so as to cause them faithfully to discharge their duties in the situation in life in which God had placed them, they were consulting not alone the welfare of these classes, but were also consulting their own best interests.


thought the noble Lord entitled to the best thanks of the House for the manner in which he had brought forward this question. So far from the noble Lord having, as the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Henley) supposed, attempted too much, any less comprehensive treatment of the subject than he had given to it would have incapacitated the House from approaching its future discussion with the requisite preparation. He (Lord R. Grosvenor) wished, however, to call the attention of the House to one important point, which the noble Lord had omitted to touch, namely, the division of labour in the educational system. No doubt, as the right hon. Gentleman opposite observed, the humblest labourer who could readily appreciate the value of reading, writing, and arithmetic, could not possibly be made to comprehend the value of a knowledge of science and of political economy to his children. Indeed, one great fault of the present system was, that it sought to combine in the same school tuition in the higher as well as in the lower branches of education. The course pursued by foreign countries was far wiser, because they kept their elementary schools quite distinct from the establishments to which the more advanced class of pupils were sent. This offered an inducement to the scholars to remain longer under instruction in the hope of attaining, in virtue of their superior qualifications, to the higher grades of society. Unfortunately, however, in this country a clever boy attending a public school, unless he wished to be trained for the office of an educator, could find no place in which he could afterwards, at a reasonable cost, perfect his talents and previous acquirements, and thereby fit himself for a sphere in which to exercise them. The consequence was, that the country could not avail itself of the abilities of the children of the poorer classes of this country. In France, and in other countries, a boy of great capacity might pass from a lower to a higher school, and, if a clever boy seemed likely to become a clever man, his talents could be rendered available for the public service. He hoped that this subject of adding to elementary schools—schools of a high class—would not be lost sight of. One of the great difficulties in the way of education was the supineness of parents of the lower classes. He had, himself, had unfortunate experience on that point. He had occasionally offered to provide clothes for a child, in order that its parents might send it to school, but had been unable to persuade the father and mother to send him to school. He could not, therefore, help hoping that some compulsory system might be resorted to. "A Manchester Manufacturer" had written a letter to the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, ably advocating something of this kind; for instance, if people were not allowed to employ labourers, unless the labourer himself could produce some kind of certificate of education, he thought that was not a kind of compulsion which could be complained of, even in this free country. A great deal might be done for the cause of instruction by evening schools, not only by schoolmasters, but by the higher classes teaching in evening schools, whereby the young of both sexes could keep up their knowledge until a practical use could be made of it.


believed the noble Lord consulted the general feeling of the House in not asking hon. Members to commit themselves upon Resolutions of so grave and important a character without full consideration. He felt much indebted to the noble Lord for devoting his unusual leisure to considering and maturing his views on this subject, and he had certainly introduced them to the House in a most lucid manner. The propositions were not, however, new; and the only question was, whether they should give up all their formed speculations and hopes, and retrograde to the position which they had occupied years ago? The noble Lord had led the House through every species of debates, Committees, Resolutions, and Bills; inquiries by Select Committees, and the introduction of private and public Bills; and the noble Lord now asked the House to fall back upon its first action, and to resolve the problem into the elementary form of Resolutions. The noble Lord brought back the House to the Privy Council. He had hoped when, eight years ago, Manchester petitioned to be allowed to rate itself for education, that Parliament would have seen the wisdom of trying a great national question by a local experiment, the readiness for which was so honourable to that city. He had himself introduced a measure two years ago for public education, based on the plan of subsidising the voluntary schools of each denomination by local rates, but it failed; and if it were really necessary to abandon that plan, the noble Lord could not do better than take up the scheme which had now been tried for seventeen years, of grants from the Consolidated Fund, and develope and encourage the system of Treasury aid for the support of national education. For himself, he admitted that he preferred a system of local rates, as being more consonant with the spirit of a free nation; but if they were compelled to abandon all plans for local rates as involving insuperable difficulty from religious differences, then it would be desirable to encourage, by whatever other means were available, voluntary contributions all over the country. The Bill of his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) was almost identical in principle with the Manchester and Salford Bill, which he (Mr. Adderley) had introduced—not the "secular" Bill—with the exception of the additional rate clauses for new schools, which, as he had truly warned his right hon. Friend, would endanger its success. The noble Lord now imitated those provisions, and would similarly endanger any measure based on his Resolutions by the introduction of those religious differences which had been fatal to so many propositions on this subject. The noble Lord's first Resolution indicated the carrying out and completion of the existing system of national education upon the basis of religous instruction, aided by the State. He was quite willing to give his adhesion to this first portion of the noble Lord's propositions, and if that noble Lord would only disembarrass the question of the last portion of his Resolutions, he would then have a fair chance of performing a service entitling him to the gratitude of the country. If, however, the system of local rates was to be abandoned and recourse had only to the Imperial Treasury, it was essential that the same principle should extend to all schools depending upon national aid. If schools for the children of labourers were to be maintained out of the public purse, pauper schools should not be dependent upon local rates, but they, together with reformatory schools, should be alike supported by the same funds. The only objection he could see to such a system was, that it would place almost the whole primary education of the people in the hands of the Government; and that would be a legitimate objection to urge, especially when the Government would necessarily be obliged to employ a large staff of officials in carrying out the system. However, he hoped the danger likely to arise from that source was to be diminished by the immense advantage of a Minister of Education, who was to have a seat in that House, for the promise of which the country was very much indebted to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) as well as to Her Majesty's Government. At the same time he would wish to remark that, if they were to deal only with the Committee of the Privy Council in this matter, the educational system of that body must be very much altered and improved to adapt it to the feelings, the wishes, and the spirit of the country, and to fit it for the work which was to be done. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had very justly remarked that the standard of education at present required was ridiculously unfit for many of the schools to which it was applied; but that was a danger always probable while the system was administered under the control of the Government, as a man of great eminence and ability would always be placed at the head of the department, who would hardly be content with the apparent meanness of the task imposed upon him, but would seek to carry out schemes, theories, and fancies of his own. Such an officer would probably be always aiming at the higher sciences rather than promoting industrial pursuits among a class to whom the latter were of vital importance; and thus the primary purpose of public grants for education would be defeated. The absence of industrial education was one principal reason of the difficulty so often lamented of getting parents to send their children to school, or keep them there. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord R. Grosvenor) had informed the House how presents of clothing had failed to induce parents to send their children to his school; and compulsion would be equally ineffectual. The only mode by which those children could be got to school, was to make the parents sensible that the education given there would tend to their advantage; and this could only be done by making the education useful. With respect to the several propositions of the noble Lord, he (Mr. Adderley) concurred in many of them. He believed that the suggestion for the codification of the rules of the Committee of the Privy Council was a most valuable one. The noble Lord, in proposing to collect them all into one volume, seemed not to be aware that that had been done at his suggestion last Session; but they further required revision and classification. The second proposition, to add eighty sub-inspectors to the existing thirty or forty inspectors, was perhaps necessary to carry out the system. At present the inspec- tors hurried from school to school, made their inspections watch in hand, and were not sufficient for the work they had to perform. He, however, hoped that an equal increase of such inspectors was not necessary for Church schools, for Wesleyan schools, for Roman Catholic schools, and for every denomination. The appointment of particular inspectors to the schools of each religious sect created great jealousy and inconvenience, to say nothing of the great expense. In addition to the large additional staff thus to be created, other inspectors would still be required for pauper schools and reformatories. With the noble Lord's proposition for the creation of school districts he (Mr. Adderley) fully agreed, as he understood it to mean the union of small parishes whenever expedient. He thought it most desirable that many charitable funds of small amount, which were at present distributed in such a manner as to demoralise the recipients, should be applied to educational purposes. He again, however, urged the noble Lord to abandon that portion of his scheme which proposed the imposition of rates, for if he persisted in pressing it he would embarrass, by religious difficulties, the whole discussion. He regarded the proposition of the noble Lord, that employers of children between the ages of nine and fifteen should be required to furnish certificates of a certain amount of attendance at school, as one of great value, but it might not perhaps be a very easy matter to carry it out practically, especially in the agricultural districts. He would recommend the noble Lord not to complicate his subject by suggestions relative to the establishment of libraries and evening schools, for, although those proposals well deserved consideration, he thought the noble Lord would find difficulty enough in carrying the first portion of his Resolutions—if he carried out the first part of his scheme for school grants effectually, library grants would speedily follow. To that portion of the scheme which was embraced in the first part of the Resolutions he (Mr. Adderley) gave his full assent, and he hoped the noble Lord would press it exclusively, for the present, upon the attention of the House.


said, he must thank the noble Lord for the completeness of the scheme which he had laid before the House; hon. Members had had the great advantage of hearing the noble Lord's statement of the ground he now occupied, and they would all of them start with the noble Lord, and, if they did not complete the journey with him, they would, at least, perform the common journey with complete satisfaction. He would, to some extent, adopt the course which had been already taken, and commence, as the noble Lord had commenced, with an examination of the Minutes of the Privy Council. He had advised that there should be a revision and consolidation of these Minutes, which ran over a period of sixteen years, and contained seventy-one full quarto pages. The noble Lord stated that he would not then enter into an examination of those Minutes, because there would be other and more favourable opportunities of doing so. But he (Mr. Denison) thought it would be fair to communicate to the Committee of Education of the Privy Council the objections which he felt, and the points where he thought it might be materially improved. The very object of a public grant of money in aid was, that men might be able, by acting in concert, to assist each other and to assist the State. But, according to the rules of the Committee of the Privy Council, those parishes which were too poor to help themselves could not receive any help from the State. If some poor parish or district should not be able of itself to contribute a sum equal to the amount required by the Board, but nevertheless received a sum from some benevolent friend to education, and were thus enabled to complete the sum required, it ought to receive assistance from the Board of Education. But the Privy Council said, "No; that won't do for us. You have come with £200, but you have not raised £50 of it yourselves in your own parish." Now he (Mr. Denison) thought that if a parish came forward with the requisite amount, it was not necessary to scrutinise with minuteness where the resources came from. Then, again, no aid could be given to a school that was not presided over by a certificated schoolmaster; but the fact of a man's holding a certificate was no test of his being the best man to instruct the children in a parish school. There were some men, who had reached, say, the middle term of life, who were unwilling to submit to the ordeal of the examination, who were yet very excellent schoolmasters; and the schools would be better managed by such men than even by certificated schoolmasters. He (Mr. Denison) agreed in the extreme advantages attending the system of night schools, where farm servants and apprentices could continue after they had entered service. The only difficulty was, that the schoolmasters might object to this additional labour. The way in which the Committee met this difficulty was, by offering the sum of £10 to schoolmasters to assist in establishing such schools. But here again the same restriction interfered—no assistance would be given to the evening schools if the master of the day schools did not hold a certificate. Here, he thought, a relaxation might be made with advantage. The noble Lord had stated the benefits which arose from children working half time. These advantages were stated to apply to the manufacturing districts; but he (Mr. Denison) thought they would equally apply to an agricultural one, for in a case that had come under his own observation, although the children had only half time at school, they had made nearly as much progress as those who had attended continuously. The further Resolutions, he thought, were each worthy of the attention which had been bestowed upon them; and he thought that, when a greater period of time had elapsed, the House might gain a system, if not national, at least of general education.


said, he had only one remark to make on the Resolutions of the noble Lord with respect to charities. The existing law with respect to charities was unquestionably fraught with, evils which deserved the serious consideration of the House. In many cases, when endeavours were made to enforce the proper application of charities of small amount, the result was that the charities themselves were destroyed in the attempt. The noble Lord, in moving his Resolutions, had referred to the difficulties which the lawyers might throw in his way in dealing with small charities. He could assure the noble Lord, on the part of his profession, that they would be glad to give him every assistance in their power in order to effectuate so good an object. The Commissioners of Charitable Trusts were quite competent to decide, without an appeal to a higher court, such cases as those which the noble Lord had mentioned; and if the noble Lord were to introduce a few clauses after Easter giving the Commissioners such a judicial power, he would save many charities from being consumed in worthless litigation, and confer a great benefit upon the whole community.


said, it was his fate twenty-three years ago to propound a scheme of national education. He was then very young in public life, and, buoyed up with the sanguine spirit of youth, he regarded all obstacles as things easily to be vanquished. Experience had taught him what a great mistake he then made in supposing that success must necessarily attend his efforts. The noble Lord, however, with greater political experience and greater intellectual powers, was now addressing himself to the same task. He hoped that the noble Lord might meet with greater success than he had; still, he had doubts about it, for he found that he was opposed by the same difficulties which had stood and would continue to stand in the way of every educational reform in England. The noble Lord had adverted to those difficulties at the end of his speech. He there stated that he was unable to separate religious education from national education; and, addressing himself to those who were called secular educationists, he said, that any attempt to teach morals unless based upon Christianity was totally impossible; forgetting that nations existed at the present moment which were not Christian, that vast communities flourished before Christianity was known, and that the great men of ancient times knew not the religion of Christ, though they were moral. The truth was, that what we called secular education was, in fact, religious education, and that it employed religion in the education of the people in the only way in which it could be beneficially employed. Let the House consider, in the first place, what was the end or object of education. He took it to be so to fashion the intellectual and moral man as to make him, in his condition, a good father, a good son, a good husband, and a good citizen. If education did not accomplish that end, it accomplished no good purpose. To make a man merely intellectual, and not to make him morally good, was to give him the power of doing wrong with greater facility than he otherwise could—was, in short, to make him a fit instrument for evil. What, then, were the means to the true end of education, as he had stated it? First, intellectual education; secondly, moral education; thirdly, religious education. About intellectual education there was little dispute, and, therefore, he would not dwell upon it. To strengthen the intellectual part of man, to teach him the best means of comprehending his nature, to teach him the best means of working out his own happiness, was a thing about which there was and could be little dispute. With respect to moral education, it was a remarkable fact that the moral code of every sect in England was pretty nearly the same. The moral code of a country depended upon the state of civilisation within it. As we advanced in civilisation we improved our moral code; and the moral code of the Christians of the present day was as different from the moral code of the Christians of the eleventh century as the moral code of England was from that of Hindostan. That something which was required to make a moral code, beyond a mere intellectual education, might be termed civilisation; as a nation became civilised its moral code improved. Now, he would suppose at the same school the child of a Jew, the child of a Unitarian, the child of a Catholic, and the child of a Member of the Church of England. Now, he wanted to know whether, as these were all English children, though of different sects, they would not all receive the same training? If so, the moral code of England was settled: and the moral code was that which fashioned the moral man. What next did religion do? It had done much, no doubt, to form the moral code; but how could we employ it in teaching? Why, we might employ it exactly in the same way for all the children he had mentioned belonging to different sects. One and all now admitted religion as a sanction, and it was only as such that we could employ it beneficially in education, so as to make a moral man. The sanction was this, that in proportion as a man was good or bad, he was looked upon with favour or disfavour by the great God of humanity. Such was the religious sanction which alone influenced the conduct of man; all else was comparatively unimportant. A Jew fancied it a crime not to keep holy the Sabbath, which was our Saturday. The Christian, in fact, felt the same with respect to Sunday. The Catholic thought it a mortal sin to eat meat on a Friday. All these were things which distinguished one sect from the other, but they had no bearing on religious sanction. Therefore he said they could make all men religious in spirit without making them either Protestant or Catholic, Jew or Unitarian—they could introduce religious teaching without introducing religious differences. He acknowledged that to teach that to Englishmen was a most difficult task, and be warned the noble Lord, when he said he meant to introduce the reading of the Bible in schools, that he would thereby shut out every Catholic and render education anything but national. Supposing a child heard a verse from a chapter of St. John, he would say to his master, "I do not understand that verse—explain it." How was it to be explained—in a Protestant, a Catholic, or a Unitarian sense? Could it be explained without introducing doctrinal points? He said it was totally impossible, and the moment they introduced anything like doctrinal points they introduced those things which put the hostile sects asunder. That being his view, he was for secular education. He was for teaching mankind all the great moral doctrines, and he was for teaching them to act under social, religious, and moral sanction. They might impress upon a child's mind that if he did certain acts he would have a moral sanction. It was more difficult to prove that he would have a religious sanction. Children could not understand it. According to the doctrine of religion nowadays, they were told that in this life they could not judge of religious sanction. Moses taught a different doctrine. All they could do was to fashion men's minds by degrees for a religious sanction, and they could do that without creating any sectarian difference in a manner which would make men brothers by religion instead of enemies. He believed that for the whole of mankind some education was necessary, and as he believed that in England a system which tended to anything like sectarian differences was objectionable, he was in favour of secular education.


I quite agree that it is not desirable on this occasion to enter into any lengthened discussion of the proposals brought forward by the noble Lord; but I cannot allow the discussion to close without expressing to him my heartfelt thanks for the able, temperate, and impressive manner in which he has addressed the House upon a subject of such vital importance to the interest and character of this country. I wish also to say that the noble Lord has, in my opinion, exercised a wise discretion in submitting his propositions to the House in the shape of Resolutions. I experienced myself last year the difficulty—indeed, I may say, the impossibility—of an independent Member, without official influence or power, carrying through Parliament a comprehensive and complicated measure upon a subject of such great difficulty as that of education; I had, indeed, not the presumption to suppose that in the first Session of submitting a plan I should succeed in carrying it into actual legislation. My object was, rather to lay down some broad principles of action, and to invite the attention of the House and the country to those principles. And perhaps I may be allowed to say I shall be more than rewarded for any labour I underwent if I may entertain the hope that I have been in any degree instrumental in the establishment of what I consider to be so great an object as a recognised and responsible department of education. I am quite aware that I was not the first to suggest that course; but while I recognise the frank and courteous spirit in which Her Majesty's Government, especially the noble Earl the President of the Council, made that suggestion, I do hope I may have been instrumental in accelerating its adoption. I venture to hope, also, that I have been in some degree instrumental in separating this great subject from the category of party questions, and I trust we are now arrived at the time when those who think alike may act together, without considering whether in general politics they are usually opposed to one another. I am less disposed to dwell at any great length upon the subject which the noble Lord has introduced because, on the whole, he has stated opinions similar to those which last year I expressed. I wish, however, to thank him—if I may be permitted to allude to so unimportant a matter—for the great courtesy with which he has referred to my humble exertions, and still more for his frank and candid acknowledgment of the accuracy of my statements with reference both to the actual condition of education in England and to the extent to which we have already lagged behind foreign countries in that respect. There was one point in the noble Lord's speech which I was half inclined to doubt. It puts us with regard to education in rather a better light than I expected. If I understood the noble Lord rightly, there are as many as 500,000 scholars at schools which receive grants from the Council of Education. I was surprised to hear that the proportion is so large. Putting it in another way, in round numbers there are 49,000 schools, and I do not think above 5,000 are under inspection. The schools under inspection are, no doubt, by far the best, and probably that accounts for so large a proportion out of the whole number of children at school attending them. In the two objects which the noble Lord says we should endeavour to accomplish—namely, to make education more complete, and to support and maintain what is good in existing institutions, he will find no warmer supporter than myself; for those were precisely the objects which, however imperfectly, I sought to obtain by enactment last year. With regard to the question whether education should be free, I have already expressed my opinion. I hare always admitted that much may be said on both sides. I do not think, however, that the establishment of free schools is essential either to the plan I myself proposed, or to any other plan suggested in these Resolutions; and in the views of the noble Lord, that we ought to go as far as we can with the present system, I entirely concur. If any one objects to the number of these Resolutions, it will be my noble Friend the President of the Council, and the Gentleman, whoever he may be, who will represent the department in the House of Commons—because the noble Lord has sketched in detail the arrangements which it would otherwise be the duty of that department to devise; but, perhaps they will be much obliged to him for his assistance. I can only say myself, with regard to these Resolutions, that they in every respect deserve the most serious consideration. If there were any Resolution which I should be disposed at the present moment to comment upon, it would be that which relates to religious education. I am aware there is a party in this House who prefer secular to religious education in these schools; but we are bound to take into consideration, not so much what is the individual preference of this or that friend of education, as what is the prevailing feeling of the people on this subject. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck) has said that as a country advances in civilisation it improves in morals; but that is a proposition which, if we reject religion, it would be difficult to establish, and which experience would not confirm. But all that part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech was far apart from the main object involved in the question of national education. What we have to consider is, the elementary instruction of the humblest classes of the community. I know there are exceptions in the case of men of great talent and zeal, and who are entitled to the greatest consideration; but I believe the feeling of the vast majority of the people of this country is that, looking to the class with which we have to deal, whose welfare we have to consider, and looking to the means of religious instruction which they possess irrespective of the education they receive, any system of education would be imperfect which did not teach their children their duty to God as well as their duty to man. It would be a most unworthy and imprudent course on the part of any statesman or Government to run counter to that feeling by endeavouring to establish a secular system as contradistinguished from a religious system. The noble Lord has referred to the system of national education adopted in the cantons of Switzerland, where education is given alike to Protestant and Catholic, and, although the religion of the State is taught, yet full liberty of dissent is allowed. In the United States, on the contrary, a complete secular system is adopted. Last year I ventured to recommend the system of Switzerland;—that system has been tried in other countries in Europe, and even in this country, and always with success. The noble Lord prefers the system of Switzerland to that of the United States, and in one of his Resolutions directs that a portion of the Holy Scriptures should be read; but he does not seen to make any provision for the religious instruction of the children.


The Resolution goes on to say that such other provision should be made for religious instruction as the school committee may think fit.


That explanation of the noble Lord has in a great degree removed any doubts I may have entertained respecting that part of the plan. I cannot agree with the recommendation of my hon. Friend (Mr. Adderley), that the noble Lord should abandon that part of his scheme which refers to districts where no schools now exist. Last year I maintained that any system of national education which did not include those districts would be imperfect; I therefore rejoice at this part of the plan of the noble Lord, to which I feel I shall be able to give my cordial support. The Resolution which refers to the compulsory attendance of children at the schools appears to me perfectly sound and free from objection. Sooner or later the compulsory principle must be recognised, otherwise it will be impossible to carry out any plan for the general education of the people o this country. In conclusion I beg to express my thanks to the noble Lord for the great pains he has taken upon this subject, and to assure him that I shall give his Resolutions the fullest consideration, and, if possible, my best support.


said, he should have been happy to commence the journey with the noble Lord, the Member for the City of London, if he were not afraid that, in consequence of certain principles contained in the Resolutions, he should be compelled to part company with him on the way. He quite admitted that the noble Lord had introduced the subject in a manner deserving of its vast importance, and it would not be respectful either to the noble Lord or to the House if he were to deliver hastily any opinion on the details of the scheme which had been submitted to them. He would, however, refer to one or two observations that had fallen from the noble Lord, and from the right hon. Member for Droitwich, with reference to one or two points of the plan that had been submitted to them. It seemed to be a common practice to assume that certain things we did not like were not popular, and we were apt to say that the public sentiment was against such things. Nothing was so easy as to make that assertion. But he would ask, what was the evidence of the public sentiment being against that secular scheme which all seemed so ready to condemn? What proof had they? There were men of experience who would readily meet the advocates of a system of national religious education, and, in opposition to it, support the secular system, in any public assembly, with full confidence of obtaining a majority in favour of that secular system if it were to be supported by public rates. The notion of a rate was only made popular—or was made somewhat acceptable—by the knowledge that it was to support a system of education in which all could participate. The right hon. Gentleman assumed that popular sentiment discarded the secular system; but he (Mr. Gibson) could tell him that there had been 170 public meetings in twenty-eight counties of England, at every one of which a resolution was carried that no system of public education should be supported by parochial rates except the secular system. All the systems supported by rates which included religious education, in the opinion of the people, savoured of church rates, and it was only on the distinct understanding that the rate was not to support any system of denominational education that it was listened to. He was not surprised, after the course taken by the noble Lord yesterday on the subject of church rates, that he should propose a scheme of national education to be supported by rates which embraced religious instruction. If the advocates of the secular system were unpopular, he thought he might with truth state that those who would support all religions by public rates were not less unpopular. The right hon. Baronet proposed to put the Trinitarians, Unitarians, Roman Catholics, and Jews, upon the same footing, and support the religious tenets of these various bodies out of the public funds. Why, such a proposal was looked upon by the religious world as far more fatal to the interests of true religion than the secular system, which meant nothing more than this—that, inasmuch as all were agreed upon a certain portion of education, that only should be imparted by public rates; religious education, upon which men were not agreed, being left to be supplemented by voluntary efforts, and to be supplied at other times and in other places. When the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) and the right hon. Baronet took such pains to impress upon the House the necessity that these public schools should be religious schools, and should afford a sound religious instruction, he confessed his surprise that they should afterwards seem willing to fritter down this religious education into the merest skeleton which it was possible to conceive. They were willing to reduce it to the mere reading of the Scriptures without note or comment, and from this reading anybody might withdraw who chose. In practice, therefore, the noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet approached very nearly to the secular system. They seemed to be afraid of the word "secular," seemed to fancy it implied hostility to religion, and yet consented to reduce the religious instruction imparted under their system to something which he ventured to say religious men would not call religious instruction at all. The noble Lord complained that the Bills of last Session were permissive, and he (Mr. Gibson) had certainly felt that the question was not sufficiently ripe to allow of their making a local educational rate compulsory; but the noble Lord now proposed that, if localities would not support a public school rate, the quarter sessions should compel them to do so. Now, he wanted to ask, who was to compel the quarter sessions? Looking to the general body of country justices (of whom, however, he wished to speak with every respect), he very much doubted whether any excessive zeal would be found among them for compelling persons to vote an educational rate; and therefore it appeared to him that the permissive principle existed in the noble Lord's plan, as well as in others that had been brought forward. He could only say for himself that he should be glad to support any scheme which appeared founded on sound principles, but he would not be a party to a plan which would fasten denominational schools upon the rates of this country, because he believed it would be unjust, and because he believed it would be the means of turning every parish in the country into a hot-bed of sectarian animosity and discord. He knew what he should feel if he, a Protestant, happened to live in a parish where the majority were Roman Catholics, and were obliged to pay the rate in support of a school for the Catholic majority; he should say, if I am to pay my money let my child have instruction, and he shall not be dictated to in religious instruction by the Catholic majority. He should be no doubt told that in such a case he could find a Protestant school at some little distance off to which he might send his child; but it seemed to him that it would be a much better plan to entirely separate the religious from the secular teaching. Let the religious teaching be given in the Sunday school and in the home, and so allow children of all denominations to meet and receive secular instruction in the day school. Such a system was at the present moment working in Manchester with signal success. A model secular school was founded there, attended by 542 boys. If the funds permitted they could take in a very much larger number, but as it was they constantly had to refuse applications for admission. Out of these 542 boys, picked up in the streets of Manchester, and of the very lowest and most destitute class, how many did the House suppose there were who did not receive religious instruction somewhere? Only sixty-one of them did not also go to a Sunday school. In fact, bringing these boys into a secular school placed them within reach, as it were, of religious bodies, who would otherwise, perhaps, have been unable to lay hold of them and induce them to attend and receive religious instruction elsewhere. He believed, also, it could be proved that in Massachusetts the scholars attending the secular schools, with very few exceptions, always attended the Sunday schools, and did, in point of fact, receive a good religious as well as secular education, although the two were separated. Such a system accorded, in fact, with common sense. Everybody knew that arithmetic, geography, and other elementary branches of knowledge could not be taught at the same moment as revealed religion; and, as the teaching of the two things was separated in point of time, why should they not be separated in point of place also? But if religion were tied inseparably with secular education in our public schools, as they could not agree in supporting religious teaching by public rates, he believed they would end by supporting neither.


said, that he, in common with the other Members of the House, had listened to the speech of the noble Lord with the utmost interest; and although he objected to the very principle upon which these Resolutions were founded, he must at the same time admit that the noble Lord was entitled to the utmost credit from this House and from the country for the care and caution with which he had approached this very difficult and complicated subject. The noble Lord in his introductory remarks appeared to him to show a tendency to underrate the quality of the education communicated by the existing machinery, and, at the same time, to form rather an extravagant estimate as to the quantity of education which was really required. It would, no doubt, be extremely desirable that one in four of the children between seven and fifteen years of age should be receiving instruction as it might be in Prussia or New England; but the competition of business in this country, and the consequent necessity of the parent availing himself of the services of his children as soon as such service could be of any advantage, rendered it almost impossible to hope for such a state of things. There was one element in the proposal of the noble Lord which he viewed with great satisfaction, and that was, that the noble Lord did not propose to adopt any uniform system as applicable to all portions of the community, but would rather leave the course to be adopted to the influence of circumstances. Of the secular system of education many severe things had been said—and he did not altogether approve of that system—but he concurred with the hon. Members for Sheffield and Manchester in the opinion that, if a system of public education were established at all, the only way to render that system just would be to exclude religious instruction from the teaching given in the schools established. As regarded the present system, it must be confessed that the religious teaching in schools was not of the highest character; and yet he could readily perceive the importance of the schoolmaster being able, without feeling himself restrained within limits prescribed by law, to radiate round him religious influences, partly by example, partly by explanation of passages of Scripture, so as to lead the scholars to reverence the great truths of religion. The right hon. Member for Manchester had referred to the number of public meetings at which resolutions in favour of a system of secular education had been agreed to; but that was no criterion of public feeling, because persons who attended public meetings were generally those who were in favour of the object for which the meeting was called.


wished to explain that what he had said was, that resolutions had been passed at numerous public meetings to the effect that, if there were to be any rate or public tax for educational purposes, that education should be of a secular character.


regretted having misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, and he could only say that he felt persuaded that if any Government proposed a plan founded upon the exclusion of religious teaching, all those classes which went to form public opinion, and which constituted the moral power of the country, would sink their minor differences and unite in combating such a scheme. There was one point which had not been touched upon, and that was the consideration of what was the real cause of the present deficiency of education. Was it that the people were unable to pay the fees? or that they objected to a national system of education? It appeared to him that the real cause was, that the people of the country were not sufficiently alive to the value of education. People sent their children to school, and then, when they found that they were not taught what they conceived would benefit them in the calling for which they intended them, they formed a low estimate of the value of the education which was given. The children were to be taught political economy at the schools; but what did such people care about political economy? If there were to be a Minister of Education who was to be changed with every Ministry, how would the House know that the political economy to be taught would not be in perfect consistency with the political principles of the party in power? In the matter of education there was great danger of going too far into the region of that which was uncertain, and too far from that which closely interested the people. Let them be taught common things, which would be useful to them in after life, and they would gladly avail themselves of the means of instruction which might be placed within their reach. Looking at the state of religious feeling in this country, and at the practical difficulties which stood in the way of education by the State, he suspected that the noble Lord's plan, however maturely considered and cautiously and carefully framed, would most likely share the fate of previous Bills upon the same subject, and that while they were debating how the people should be educated, the people would take the matter into their own hands and educate themselves.


said, that although the noble Lord had, in the latter of his Resolutions, most laudably provided for the compulsory attendance of children at schools through the means of their employers, yet he had entirely omitted from consideration the case of those children who were neither working for wages nor yet criminals. For the benefit of these last there at present was a considerable movement going on—namely, in favour of reformatory schools. But the class to which he referred, lying between the criminal children who were sent to school by their protectors and the children of those who were thrifty enough to send them out to service and were put to school by their employers, formed a sort of debatable ground or No Man's Land; and the advocates of the reformatory schools felt that, until some steps had been taken with regard to it, their labours would be very like pumping out of the hold of a ship before the leak had been stopped. He was afraid that the way in which the noble Lord proposed to deal with these children would not induce them to come arid avail themselves of the education he would offer them, even though the temptation were prizes, fees, and free libraries. There would no doubt, be great difficulty in dealing with those little "city Arabs," but they had a precedent in the Act which had been introduced by Mr. Dunlop two Sessions since, with regard to Scotland, and to amend which a Bill was now before the House. The main principle of that measure was, that the parents or friends of vagrant children might be called upon to give security that they should be sent to school—failing which, the magistrates had power to commit such children to some school of a reformatory, or, rather, a preventive character. In those schools, industrial instruction might be given, which would be of much importance to children of this class. For it should be remembered that children who wore in the employment of masters were, in reality, receiving an education; and if the means proposed by the noble Lord for the purpose of adding to that education literary instruction proved successful, they would be tolerably well cared for. But even if the noble Lord could persuade the class to whom he had been alluding to accept the literary instruction he provided—which he (Sir S. Northcote) very much doubted—their education would still be incomplete, unless they also received industrial training. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Lord would likewise frame a Resolution upon this subject.


did not think that the noble Lord the Member for London had shown that there was such need for the interference of the State in the matter of education as many people seemed to suppose. It was undeniable that great progress had been made of late years in the education of the people; and be believed that the efforts in that direction would have been quite as strenuous and quite as effective if there had been no grants of public money. In 1818, there were 861 unendowed schools, while in 1851 there were upwards of 11,600; in 1818 there were about 678,000 children who attended these schools, while in 1851 there were no less than 2,144,000. This progress was chiefly without the aid of grants of public funds, for before 1837 no grant for the purpose was made, and since that period, though the grants had been increased, they did not now amount to anything considerable. He thought the circumstances of that country were very different in one important particular—that there was less room for interference by the State now than formerly. He never heard Scotland mentioned in connection with education without envy. The fact was, that Scotland had long possessed a great advantage in the zeal of her clergy, who, from the time of John Knox to the present, had been impressed with a high sense of the importance of education, and had endeavoured to enforce it upon the people. In England, down to a recent period, that had not been the case; but it was so now. The clergy now were zealous and energetic in the cause of education; and he believed that voluntary efforts would be so universal that, if the House were to refuse all grants for the future, education would go on advancing as rapidly as the circumstances of the people would allow. He regretted that the noble Lord had omitted to notice in his Resolutions one very important matter—the primary duty of parents to educate their children. He did not think that so much had been done in this respect as might have been done. If the House were to legislate on the subject, he did not see why it should not act in this matter of education on the same principle as it acted in reference to the Poor Law. Parents who neglected to support their children were punished, and in like manner the House might enact, if it legislated at all, that parents were bound by the law to educate their children, and if this were neglected, let the magistrate have power to inflict punishment. He feared that the Resolutions of the noble Lord, if passed, would practically have the defect of all previous schemes, and that they would do no more than educate at the public expense those who were now going to school, but would not touch those who, like the "city Arabs," were not going to school. He was disappointed on hearing the Resolutions read, for he regarded them as only providing for an extension of the present system, instead of modifying it, as he had hoped they would, to a considerable extent. It was evident, from the Reports of the inspectors, that the system as at present constituted was an entire failure, both as regarded the pupil teachers and the classes for whom education was originally intended by the State. When the grants were first made, it was unquestionably intended that they should be for the benefit of the poor; but very few, if any, of the poor send their children over nine years of age to school, and it is the children of persons in a better condition, who ought to pay the full cost of instruction for their young, who chiefly benefit by State grants. The Reports of the inspectors also stated that the teachers were over-educated, so as to be, many of them, above their work, and they deemed it a degradation to teach those little matters which children going to school for the first time required to be taught. If the Resolutions should be agreed to, he hoped that any enactment founded upon them would provide for a considerable modification of the present system, so as to provide a system more adapted to meet the wants of those classes most requiring State aid.


considered that the education of the working classes in this country was a national disgrace. We pretended to stand at the head of the world in civilisation, and yet in the point of education we stood at most sixth among the civilised nations of the world. In this respect, Prussia, Bavaria, the United States, and several other countries, were before us. It was notorious that in England, one-half the working population could not write, and one-third could not read; while in Prussia and the United States every man could read. He asked them whether such a condition of things was either creditable or safe. Could not they sink all sectional differences and unite for the purpose of securing that every child in Great Britain and Ireland should have the common elements of education? He, for one, felt infinitely obliged to the noble Lord for introducing these Resolutions, and he hoped the noble Lord would crown a long life of usefulness by passing a measure of education which would cause his memory to be blessed by future generations. The most opposite statements were made as to the numbers under education; but in Leicester he found that out of the population between five and fifteen, only one-third were at day schools. It was said by some that it was sufficient if one in 8½ of the population were at school; but in Prussia and the New England States the proportion was about one in 4½. Much had been said in favour of Sunday-school education; but that was very limited in tone, and imperfect; in some schools not even writing was taught. The inspectors reported that the children of the poor only received, on the average, two-and-a-half years of education. Every one must admit that that was insufficient. He was an advocate for a national secular system, to be supported by local rates; and he was convinced that to that complexion they must come at last. In Leicester it was found that only four-ninths of the population could write; and out of forty-eight young women who applied for orders of affiliation, thirty-four could not write. In a publication of the Manchester School Society it was stated that there were 19,000 children there totally uneducated, wandering about the streets; and that in that town in 1834, only one in 10½ was at school, and in 1835 that proportion had fallen to one in thirteen. In London it was stated that 150,000 children were growing up without any instruction whatever. The late Serjeant Adams had stated that at one Middlesex Sessions no less than 500 children between seven and twelve years old were convicted as reputed thieves; all the magistrates could do was to commit them for short periods, to return again to their career of vice and crime. Lord Shaftesbury had estimated that there were not less than 60,000 regular thieves in London; and, looking at the number of juvenile criminals brought annually before our courts, the greater proportion of whom were entirely uneducated. The question became serious even as a matter of police. We might found reformatories and try all possible palliatives, but we could never reach the source of the evil until some system were established under which every child in the country should receive a certain amount of education as a right and as a matter of course. In some of the agricultural districts in the north of England the children went out as early as six years of age to attend sheep and cattle. He would commend that fact to Gentlemen on the opposite side who were so anxious about factory inspection. The education of Scotland had been greatly overrated; it was once the best-educated country in Europe; it was so no longer. It was to be regretted that the length of attendance at school was diminishing of late years. Some such system as that which prevailed in America ought to be adopted here, if we wished the children of the poor to have an education worth the name. He was prepared to support any good measure which should be brought in on this subject. The question gained ground every time it was argued; and the noble Lord might confidently rely on the good sense of the country, whatever sectarian differences might exist. To carry such a measure would be a greater honour to the noble Lord than all the other measures with which his name was connected.


thought that much more might be done, even under the present system, if the conditions insisted on by the Committee of Privy Council were in some degree relaxed. The six schools which received the largest amount of capitation money only received from £30 to £40 each, while the six lowest had but from 10s. to 15s. each. This capitation money, amounting to 5s. for every scholar, was only given to schools presided over by certified masters in parishes where the population was under 5,000; and the effect of this restriction was, that of the £30,000 voted by Parliament, only £10,000 was spent. The result of this was, that the Jews' School, in Whitechapel, which was the largest school in England, and was attended by 1,600 scholars, received from the State only the paltry sum of £20 a year for fees to the master for pupil teachers. The allowance to the certificated masters for these teachers was also much too small. That allowance was only £5 for the first teacher, £4 for the second, and £3 for the third. It ought to be doubled. The schoolmaster was required to give up to such a teacher an hour and a half on each school day, and nearly the whole of Saturday. His time on the Saturday was worth more than he received for the whole week for these fees for pupil teachers. If the capitation money were increased, as it ought to be, from 5s. to 10s. a head, and its payment extended to all parishes, of whatever population, it would not, he was assured, cost the State more than £80,000 a year. As a question of finance, that sum was small, and the course which he recommended was urgently demanded by the justice of the case.


I am sure the House must have been much gratified by the speech of my noble Friend behind me (Lord J. Russell), a speech which did great credit to the views which he has so long entertained and so ably advocated upon this important subject. There is no one in this House who, by high position, great attainments, and the attention which he has paid to the subject, is more competent to submit to Parliament propositions upon this matter which are worthy of its most serious consideration than is my noble Friend. I am of opinion that the course which he has adopted—that of submitting Resolutions, and abstaining from calling upon the House to express any opinion upon them at present—is the best which he could have adopted on this occasion. I think I may, on the part of the House, assure him that his proposition will receive the most attentive consideration of all those who have paid attention to this subject, and on a future day we shall, no doubt, be prepared to come to some decision upon the subject. It is an old saying that "those who will an end must also will the means;" but that saying is not applicable to this subject. I believe there is no man in this House—there can hardly be any man in the country—who does not will the end which these Resolutions have in view. The importance of the subject, and the great advantage which will attend the diffusion of education among the lower classes of the community, everyone must admit; but unfortunately, from various circumstances, into which it is needless now to enter, the means of accomplishing that end is the rock upon which all who have undertaken this subject have hitherto split. I should hope that the attempt of my noble Friend may be attended with better success; and, although there have been expressed in the course of this debate many various opinions, some more and some less in accordance with those of my noble Friend, I should hope that in the end we may come to an understanding upon some method of at least advancing the great cause in which we all take so deep and so just an interest. It has been said that the lower classes of this country do not sufficiently value the importance of education to their children. To a certain extent that may be true; but, on the other hand, I think that some observations which have been made in the course of this debate sufficiently explain that indifference without imputing to the lower classes any want of perception of the benefits that education would confer upon their offspring. Unfortunately, the education which has hitherto been given has not generally been such as would be of much use to the recipient in after life. In some cases it is too little; it only teaches them by rote a few things which are totally inapplicable to the pursuits in which they are afterwards to be engaged. In other cases attempts have been made to teach them some things, such as the science of political economy, which are matters, no doubt, of great importance to those who may be called upon to apply such knowledge, but which to the labouring classes are far be- yond the reach and scope of their future occupations. The great object ought to be to teach useful things—things applicable to the occupations in which the scholars may in future be engaged. We have heard many opinions as to the extent to which to intellectual culture there should be added moral and religious instruction. Now, Sir, I think that no reasonable man can doubt that unless you do add to intellectual culture moral and religious instruction, you do not accomplish all the purposes of education. Unfortunately, that question of religious instruction is the difficulty which has hitherto impeded the efforts of those who have been most eager to accomplish this great purpose. One would hope that there may be found a mode of overcoming or avoiding that great difficulty; and I think that the scheme of my noble Friend, though it may not be founded upon the large views which some hon. Gentlemen have taken of the subject, does seem, so far as one can judge from the cursory manner in which the Resolutions have been explained, to open a road which may at least lead us far towards the object we have in view. I shall only, in conclusion, repeat that the House must feel deeeply indebted to my noble Friend, not only for the manner in which he has this evening expressed his opinions, but also for the long course of laborious attention which he has given to this important subject. If it should be his lot to accomplish that to which he has for so many years devoted his attention, I hardly know which will be greater—the satisfaction he will derive from the success of his efforts, or the advantage which he will confer on the country.


said, that in his opinion the present Resolutions would turn out nothing more than another of the million of castles in the air which had so often amused the country and come to nothing. He was entirely opposed to the interference of the State in matters connected with the education of the people, and he regarded the scheme of the noble Lord, as founded on the principle of encouraging such interference, as pernicious as any that had ever been proposed. He believed, indeed, that State interference had done more to retard than to advance popular education; for it stopped those voluntary efforts which had produced such mighty effects when left alone. He did not agree with those who were continually denying the education of the English people—he thought they were as well instructed as the people of any other country. There were 450,000,000 of letters sent through the Post Office annually; and who wrote them? Not the upper or middle classes, but clerks and persons in subordinate situations. They sprang chiefly from the class this education was intended for. In 1818 there were 477,299 children attending day schools, and in 1851, four years ago, there were 2,407,416, of whom 2,100,000 attended Sunday schools. The children readily attended Sunday schools, and there was the greatest confidence in the teachers, who received not a farthing of remuneration—in fact, no class of persons was more respected by the working classes. How was it the children did not go to the day schools more? There was no lack of schools or school room; in fact, there was an excess; but these pretended Government arrangements did all the evil, and prevented private efforts. The day schools would be as well attended when they were regarded with the same confidence as the Sunday schools. One gentleman in Scotland, Mr. Fergusson, has left £400,000 for the education of children in Scotland, and many more would follow his example if they were left alone.


wished to make one remark upon a subject alluded to by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck). It was impossible, he thought, to have attended to the debates upon this question, or to have read the works written upon it, without feeling that in all the educational statistics there was one fallacy of a grave and important character. They heard of a certain percentage of children educated, and of a certain amount of public money expended upon them. It was true that in the division of the county which he represented, for example, they were told by those statistics that the amount of education given to children was very small, and that the money contributed for that purpose was very limited; but he put it to any person acquainted with the rural districts whether those statistics were not considerably below the real facts? They must know that a large amount of money was subscribed, and great attention was given to the education of children in the principles of the Established Church by persons whose efforts never appeared in print. Those were facts that were only known to those who gave their money for such purposes, and to those who received the benefit of such kindness. He felt that they had now arrived at a time when the laudable modesty of such persons who thus subscribed should be overcome, and as far as he was concerned he would endeavour to obtain more accurate statistics as to his own locality, and he hoped other hon. Gentlemen would make similar efforts in the districts with, which they were best acquainted. When in possession of the real facts of the case they would be better able to approach the consideration of this great subject with more satisfaction and effect. With their present imperfect knowledge of those facts, a certain amount of injustice was done to the landed proprietors and to the clergy. He thanked the noble Lord for his exertions in this cause, and would reserve his opinions as to the details of his plan, until after he had been able to give them fuller consideration. As far as he could understand the noble Lord's plan, if the plan broke down at all, he believed it would break down upon the point regarding the rates.


I am deeply thankful to the House for the attention and consideration which it has given to the Resolutions which I have proposed this evening. I did not, of course, expect that those hon. Members who are in favour of secular education, or those who are opposed to any interference by the State in matters of education, would give their approval of these Resolutions. With respect to secular education, I may say that I do not think that any Bill founded on a system of secular education throughout the country would have any chance of success. The hon. Gentleman who preceded me (Mr. Hadfield) has eulogised the voluntary system, and has eulogised the effect of Sunday-school education. I highly approve of Sunday schools; but, with respect to the instruction in day schools, I must remind him that those who are in favour of that voluntary system have had 150 years to make trial of it, and it has been found not to succeed; neither has the contrary system established in Scotland. It is, in fact, only within the last fifty years that there has been any real education for the poorer classes at all. With regard to the observations that have been made by the hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) as to the system of education pursued in some of the schools, he appeared to labour under a false notion when he complained of the people being taught political economy. "Political economy" is certainly rather an alarming expression; but if it is put into another shape, neither the hon. Member or any one else can object to it; no one, for instance, can object to the people being taught that the high price of bread arises, not from the extortions of the bakers, who then would deserve punishment, but from the scarcity of corn, because what is scarce must be dear; yet this knowledge is a part of political economy; it is a very useful lesson, and one that it would be very well to teach to those who were rioting and committing outrages in Middlesex not fifty years ago. Neither can it be objected that the evils of combinations and strikes—and that they are a loss, not only to the employers, but to themselves—should be pointed out to the operatives; and yet such information can only be obtained from a knowledge of political economy. Knowledge such as this, it must be admitted, is quite as useful to the people as a knowledge of geography can be. The hon. Baronet upon the other side of the House (Sir S. Northcote) said, that I had omitted to deal with a very important question relating to a numerous class of individuals who are to be found in all large towns, and who have not the means of subsistence, and receive little or no education—those who have received the name of "the city Arabs." The question to which the hon. Baronet referred is well worthy of consideration; but it is not simply a question of education—it is a question which the President of the Pool Law Board and others must consider very seriously if the House is inclined to entertain a measure upon the subject. For it must be remembered there are a great many of these children, some orphans without any support, and others having parents who cannot or will not support them; and if you send them to school, you must not only teach them, but support them whilst they are being taught. The voluntary supporters of ragged and industrial schools are very humane and benevolent men, and the schools are extremely useful and beneficial; but it is one thing for private persons to take up such matters, and another for the State. If the State was to take the subject in hand, it would have to support a numerous class of children, and would have to deal with a question which more properly belongs to the operations of the Poor Law. Of course I do not say that it is impossible that Parliament should deal with it. I can only say it is not a question solely of education. It has been suggested to me that the Resolutions I have proposed would be best discussed in a Committee of the Whole House. As such is the opinion of the House, I shall propose the day which I had originally fixed upon—the 10th of April—for such consideration; and shall also propose to withdraw the Resolutions, and move that upon that day the House should resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House to consider the best course to be pursued with regard to education in England and Wales. When the House is in Committee on that day, I shall again bring forward my Resolutions. I will also take this opportunity to give notice that I shall, to-morrow, move that, on Thursday, the 10th of April, Orders of the Day shall have precedence of the Notices of Motion; and as this subject is of great importance, I hope the House will allow it to be brought forward early in the evening.

ResolvedThat this House will, upon Thursday the 10th day of April next, resolve itself into a Committee, to consider the present state of Public Education in England and Wales.