§ House in Committee of Supply; Mr. FITZROY in the Chair.
§ The following Votes were agreed to.
- (1.) £426,670, Government Prisons and Convict Establishments at Home.
- (2.) £183,523, Maintenance of Prisoners in County Gaols, &c.
- (3.) £43,815, Transportation of Convicts, &c.
- (4.) £259,405, Convict Establishments (Colonies).
- (5.) £11,504, Inspection and General Superintendence over Prisons.
- (6.) Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £361,233, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge for Public Education in Great Britain, to the 31st day of March, 1858."
§ MR. HADFIELD
rose to call attention to the great increase which had taken place in this Vote within the last few years. So recently as 1852 it was only £150,000, whereas for the last year it was £451,000, and for the present year £541,233, being an increase of £90,000 as compared with last year. The annual increase was now about £100,000, and Sir John Kay Shuttle worth had predicted that in a few years the rate would amount to £1,000,000, estimating the capitation fund for the rural districts alone at £800,000. According to the present rate of progression the Government would soon be in possession of the education of the entire people, and voluntary effort, which had accomplished such wonders in past times, would have no chance against the national Exchequer. It certainly was not fitting that the Committee should vote such a sum as half a million of money to be placed at the disposal of an irresponsible body. He complained that the duties of the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education were not so well defined as they ought to be. The whole system, in fact, appeared to him to be going wrong, and he thought it exceedingly desirable that before agreeing to the Vote the House should discuss fully and deliberately the question of national grants for education—grants voted without consideration, and distributed without responsibility—which they could 383 not do at such a late hour of the night as half-past nine o'clock. He therefore moved,—That the proposed Vote of £361,233 for public education in Great Britain, in addition to £180,000 already voted, and making together £541,233, for the year ending the 31st day of March, 1858, be postponed for consideration, and be the last on the Estimates of Civil Services.
stated, that he could not put the question which the hon. Gentleman had proposed. It was competent to the hon. Member to negative the Vote, but, according to the rules of the House, he could not move its postponement.
said, it appeared as if the appeal of the hon. Gentleman for the postponement of the Vote must have been prepared under the supposition that the Estimates would not be taken so early. It was very unusual to postpone a Vote at half-past nine o'clock, and if the question could not be discussed at that hour, he despaired of securing a more suitable time. The Estimates now in the hands of the Chairman had been prepared upon a calculation of the payments that would become due in the current year, in accordance with the conditional grants made under Minutes of the Committee of Council. The increase over last year, amounting to £129,000, was owing to the increasing outlay on the part of local and voluntary contributors towards the building and management of schools, and was therefore not only a measure of the increased exertions of the benevolent and of those interested in education, but also an indication that the terms on which the votes of Parliament were administered were suited to the wants and acceptable to the feelings of a large portion of the community. The general acceptance of the terms was the best proof that could be got of their propriety. The necessity of this expenditure was tested not only by a careful examination of the circumstances of each case and by official inspection, but still further by the sacrifice of their own money by persons most conversant with the locality and best able to watch constantly over the proceedings of the school. They had also the best security for the economical application of the grant. They had not only the supervision of the Committee of Council but also the personal interest of those who were spending their own money, and who could not spend the public money without spending a proportionate sum of 384 their own, and could not economise their own money without saving the public purse, for the public grants were so made as to be in proportion to the contributions from local and voluntary sources.
The position which the State occupied in relation to education depended not only on a correct view of the duties of the State but also on the position assumed by the instructors. Popular education in many parts of Europe had been directed by the Government. In England the efforts for spreading knowledge among the poorer classes had originated in times of religious zeal. The earliest epoch of our ancient schools dated from a time when the pious zeal of the people led to the foundation of schools in connection with conventional establishments. Many of the endowed schools—in which, however, much improvement was required—dated from the period of the Reformation, when there was a great desire that the new opinion on religious subjects should be widely disseminated, and the poor enabled to read the Scriptures and see for themselves the basis of the Reformation. The third epoch at which efforts were made for the extension of education among the children of the poor with permanent results was the commencement of the present century, when a great revival of religious zeal gave rise to the Evangelical movement. On the Continent popular education had been diffused from a different source. In Prussia, the present admirable system was framed at a time of disaster and discouragement. At a time when the Prussian armies had succumbed before the French invaders and their lands had been spoiled by the conquering foe, the statesmen of Prussia felt the necessity of making some resolute effort to awaken the intelligence, to revive the exhausted vigour, and to rouse the relaxed energies of the people; and in that moment of difficulty and depression they commenced the present system, which had since been extended through the Prussian dominions. In Germany and France state policy dictated schools. In England popular education originated with no statesmen, and was nurtured for no political end. It sprung from the action of the Church and the philanthropy of individuals. They traced it from the school of Mr. Raikes at Gloucester, who at the close of the last century established Sunday schools, and from the untiring exertions of Boll and Lancaster, who devoted their lives to the establishment of the monitorial system. 385 When, therefore, in the year 1833, the governing bodies of this country at last awakened to a sense of the duty of the State with reference to the moral and intellectual state of the people, and perceived that the State was bound to take measures to prevent ignorance and immorality, and to remedy the neglect of the education of the children of the poor—when, for the first time, a grant of public money, though only amounting to £20,000, was voted by this House—it was not possible for any State education to be framed in the way in which it had been established in continental countries. The field, being already occupied by persons associated together by an agreement of religious views, and philanthropic motives, the State naturally turned to directing and improving the schools which already existed; so that the present arrangement, which would not have been adopted as a system, was developed naturally from the circumstances, the march of events, and the state of opinion at the time it was introduced. The method to which Parliament was almost compelled to resort, when first it began to vote money in aid of schools, was the supplementing and completing the imperfect exertions already directed to give adequate education to the labouring classes. That system had developed itself and assumed a great variety of ramifications; but the present mode of administering the grant was exactly the same as was adopted in 1833. Now, the principle of that aid was this—the co-operation of the State with the exertions of individuals, and societies in the promotion of education. In some respects it was defective, but it was an exemplification of the French axiom, Aide toi et le ciel t'aidera. Upon the same principle the world was governed by Divine Providence, for they saw that the prizes of life were not given to those who most needed them, but to those who most exerted themselves to obtain them. It had been admitted that the man who made a gift to another, benefited him less than the man who enabled him to help himself; and he was sure, with regard to schools, the State did more by stimulating managers and teachers to make a good school than they would by merely supplying the funds. The efforts of the Committee of Council on Education had been directed not merely to aid the schools by grants of money, but by giving them information, guidance, and help, and those suggestions which could best be given by a 386 central authority viewing the whole education of the country, and being accurately informed of all that was going on by means of its inspectors. It was not centralization in an improper sense—for he presumed centralization in that sense was an attempt to do something which the locality could do better, while the right centralization was to do that which the central could do better than the local authority. It was local action under central supervision. In all matters of guidance and direction it was acknowledged that the Committee of Council had greatly benefited the local schools.
In considering the Minutes of the Committee of Council on Education he would ask what were the great impediments which prevented the spread of education among the children of the poorer classes? Those impediments were—1. Deficiency of school buildings. 2. Deficiency of funds for the maintenance of schools. 3. Inefficiency of education and imperfect mode of teaching. 4. Irregular attendance of children. 5. Early age at which children leave school. 6. Total absence of many children from the schools.
With regard to the deficiency of school buildings, the grants of the Committee of Council had done much to supply it. In the last year the sum spent on building and enlarging elementary schools was £74,000: 242 schools had been built and 262 enlarged during the year; 127 teachers' residences had been built, and an increase of accommodation had been provided for 34,000 children; From the year 1839 to the present year the sum of £580,000 had been spent in building, enlarging, and improving schools, and accommodation had been provided for 495,000 children. These grants had been made on conditions, under which they had been met by an expenditure of £1,512,000 in voluntary contributions; so that, on an average, the Parliamentary grant was met by three times the amount of the public contribution. If the Committee looked to the amounts awarded for building schools, there would be seen to be a rapid increase in the applications for aid which were entertained. In 1852 awards were made for building 285 schools; in 1853, 318; in 1854, 450; in 1855, 470; and in 1856, 575. At present there were liable to inspection 7,588 schools considered as institutions, not as school-rooms, many of them containing boys, and girls, and infants, in the same building. These having 387 been partly built by public money, were liable, by their trust deeds, to inspection; though the actual inspection was usually restricted to those in the receipt of annual grants. Out of 7,588 separate institutions, 4,120 were last year in the receipt of annual grants and were actually inspected. In 1854, the number of school institutions liable to inspection was 4,788, of which 3,825 were actually inspected, and in two years the increase of schools liable to inspection had risen from 4,788 to 7,580 in the present year. These, it would be observed, were school-houses, not school-rooms. It thus appeared that under the present system the erection of schools was proceeding at a very rapid rate. It was true that this increase would be much more rapid if the public money were given on easier terms. Applications were constantly made to the Privy Council to make grants without exacting the usual proportion of local contributions, and in peculiar cases, where poor and populous communities were concerned, exceptions were made to the rule, and the Committee did not tie down the applicants too rigorously to the letter of the rule. He now came to the second point—the want of funds for the ordinary maintenance of the schools. This expenditure was met from the other grants of the Privy Council. It was found, from the average expenditure of elementary schools, that the annual cost of a child was estimated at 30s., and that the amount contributed by the public was 11s. 4d. The public funds, therefore, speaking generally, provided more than one-third of the ordinary expenditure of those schools receiving annual grants, and which came up to the requirements of the Committee of Privy Council. The third point—the inefficiency of the education given in the schools, had long been a great source of complaint, and a great impediment in the way of education. Many of the Minutes of the Privy Council dealt with this evil, but mainly those of 1846, which provided for the establishment of normal schools, the augmentation of teachers' salaries, and the adoption of the system of pupil teachers. The rapidity and extent to which normal schools had increased was most remarkable. Foreign educationists have great difficulty in believing that within ten years thirty-two normal training institutions had been established in this country, mainly by voluntary contributions, for such an achievement could only have occurred in this country. These normal schools were 388 not only well provided with suitable houses and good teachers, but great care was being taken to adapt them to their proper object. They were becoming more practical, and were now producing the proper class of teachers that were required. Mr. Temple, one of Her Majesty's inspectors of schools, said, in his last Report:—The work done in the training colleges appears to me, with one exception, to be improving as steadily and as rapidly as could be desired. The definiteness given to the examinations by Mr. Moseley's programme has had the best effect both on the students and the lecturers. There is always a tendency in the infancy of such institutions to attempt more than can be accomplished, and the training colleges have not been free from this mistake. Year by year, however, they seem to see more clearly what they ought to do, what they can do, and how they can do it best, and the more definite character of the annual examinations contributes much to this result. The answers of the students are less superficial and less inaccurate than they used to be.The attention of the inspectors and of the Committee of Privy Council had been specially directed to secure that the education given in these establishments should suit the young men who were trained to be the teachers in these schools, and should avoid the charge of "flying too high." It was, no doubt, extremely difficult to provide a master who would patiently and willingly teach children of from seven to ten years of age, and who was at the same time competent to instruct a pupil-teacher in those matters which would fit him in his turn to be a master. If, therefore, hon. Members were sometimes disposed to complain that too highly qualified a master was sent to a village school, it must be remembered that, besides the instruction of the class, the master must be capable of teaching a teacher. To reach the minds, sustain the attention, and influence the hearts of very young children was as difficult, perhaps, as teaching older pupils, and required a degree of skill and patience which could not easily be found. Some of the faults laid to the charge of the school-masters were to be traced only to the youthful age at which they had to take charge of the schools. This disadvantage, however, was in process of correction; and the average age of the trained masters was gradually rising. The training schools, also, could not give experience which must be acquired in after life, and experience was as necessary in teaching as in any other profession. The augmentation of the salaries of masters 389 had been successful. Before the Minutes of 1846, it used to be remarked, that the schoolmasters of villages and country towns were generally men who had failed in some other occupation—that keeping a school was the resource of those who did not succeed in other pursuits—and that teaching was supposed to be so easy a matter that any one could undertake it without previous training or experience. They were often the discarded ushers of middle schools, incapable of exercising the lowest strata of the reasoning faculty. But this class of persons had disappeared from the inspected schools. The position of master had been invested with a respect more commensurate with its real importance, and was a coveted object of rustic ambition. There was no deficiency of candidates for masterships in schools where the payment was adequate and the opportunity of exercising their vocation was satisfactory. But the institution of pupil-teachers had most conduced to the efficiency of the schools. The monitorial system, which it superseded, had been bringing elementary education into disrepute, particularly with the parents who were dissatisfied that their children should learn of, or teach other children. The pupil-teachers were found to be really valuable as aids to the masters; and they offered this great advantage, that we had preparing for the normal schools young men who had a taste for educating, and who voluntarily entered into it, and were prepared during a five years' apprenticeship for that which would be their profession in after life. It was objected that the smallness of the remuneration produced some difficulty in obtaining pupil-teachers, and that a considerable proportion of their number did not afterwards become masters. But as to the allegation that the pupil-teachers were not adequately paid, it was doubtful whether any strong pecuniary inducement ought to be held out to tempt young men into the field of education. It was much better that lads should be left to embrace this profession from a peculiar aptitude and natural bent for it, than that they should be drawn away by increased emoluments from other occupations. And by affording to those pupil-teachers who discovered that they had no taste for the work of instruction a ready means of escape into other employments, there was a better chance that those who remained would be adapted for educational pursuits. Experience showed that no man succeeded 390 in this occupation who did not take an interest in it, and had not a warm sympathy with children; and the success of a school-master depended more on the zeal he felt for his profession than on intellectual ability. This explained the success of ragged schools. The Ragged School Union had made no demand for Government aid; probably because the intellectual attainments of their teachers would not enable them to pass the examination for Government certificates. But the deficiency of special learning was compensated by zeal, aptitude, and by that lively sympathy with the children under their care, which was the real source of moral power over the tender mind. The great aim, however, ought to be to combine both of these qualifications in the teacher, and the training institutions to which he had referred afforded facilities for attaining that result. They supplied to the future instructors of the young the requisite intellectual acquirements and practical experience; while for those whose hearts were not in the work an easy outlet was provided to some more congenial occupation, and the training they had received was useful in other walks of life. The pupil teacher system had been commenced at a school at Norwood by Sir James Kay Shuttleworth; it was subsequently tried in the Admiralty School at Greenwich, and was now adopted in all the best schools in England. In the important matter of pupil-teachers we surpassed the nations of the Continent, however efficient their systems of education were in other respects. In France there was nothing that corresponded to this feature of our institutions, and the want of it was felt. Another valuable provision was that the augmentations made to the salaries of schoolmasters and pupil-teachers were made to depend on their passing through examinations before the inspectors, and also on a rigid scrutiny of their paper-work in the Council Office. Every security was thus taken that the sums paid in increasing their remuneration should not be uselessly or carelessly spent. The irregular attendance of the scholars was, perhaps, the greatest impediments to the success of our elementary schools. From a return, including all the schools at present under inspection, it appeared that 42 per cent of the scholars had attended the dayschools for less than one year; that 25 per cent had attended for one year and less than two years; that 13 per cent had attended for two years 391 and less than three; that 8 per cent had attended for three years and less than four; that 5 per cent had attended for four years and less than five; and that 4 per cent had attended for five years and upwards. In many of the schools, especially in Yorkshire, one-half of the children to be found there at one time were not in the habit of attending for more than six months in the year, and in the rural districts generally many of the children were taken away from school during the summer months. This irregular attendance above all other things tended to prevent a good result, for in the case of young children the impressions produced on the mind must he continuous, if they are to have any lasting effect. He had heard schoolmasters say that nothing was more distressing than to see the same boy who bad left them at the age of eleven an intelligent, active lad, with all his wits about him, and able to use all the faculties he then possessed, returning to them at seventeen, after he had been at the plough, a heavy, dull, stupid, loutish sort of fellow, who, so far from being able to describe all those beautiful flourishes of the pen at which he used to be an adept when at school, hardly knew how to write his own name, and had nearly forgotten all that he had learnt. The capitation grant aided the school-fund in the way most calculated to stimulate frequent and regular attendance; and the reports from the schools showed that it had operated beneficially. It induced the managers and masters to exert themselves to get the children to attend regularly; and, it suggested to persons of influence to visit the parents in their respective neighbourhoods and to point out to them the absolute necessity of a continuous and consecutive course of instruction for any really beneficial and enduring result. At present the capitation grant was not paid upon more than 36 per cent of the whole number of scholars in attendance. So that only one-third were attending as they ought. To give the right to a share of the grant the child must have been at school for 176 days during the year preceding the inspection. It acted, therefore, as a direct stimulus to the masters and managers to increase the number of their scholars, and also, when they got them to school to keep them there. The early age at which the school-education ceased, could hardly be prolonged by any operation of a public grant. If a child earned money you could hardly ask his 392 parents to consent to his abandoning work in order to go to school, unless you compensated them for the loss which they would thereby sustain; and of course no one would propose in that House a Vote to compensate parents in such cases. But much was being done to make it worth while for the parents to let their children remain longer at school, and efforts were being made to improve the education given in the primary schools aided by the State. Parents could appreciate that improvement more readily than was generally supposed. In his opinion the indifference shown by many of the working classes with regard to sending their children to school was not so much owing to their prejudice against education itself, as to their low opinion of the character of the education given to their children. They did not see that that education had a very obvious or practical effect upon their children's progress in life. To some extent he thought the parents were wrong, but he did not deny that the schools might and ought to be more efficient and furnish a more practical and special preparation for the future occupations of the children. In the best of schools there were some children who would not learn. He had known boys who exercised their ingenuity and cleverness in getting their lessons without study, and who could pass through even Eton and Westminster without carrying away with them anything that they could remember in after life. The reports of the school inspectors showed the pains they took to make the instruction more thorough, efficient and practical. Where industrial training could be given to advantage it was given; but if children, particularly boys, remained in the schools, on an average, only a year or a year and a half, it was clear that there was not time for them to learn more than the mere elements of intellectual teaching, and the withdrawing of their time to teach handicrafts would not be wise when their age was below ten or eleven. He believed that all the friends of education were now inclined to press upon schoolmasters the importance of making their teaching as special and suited to the children's future position in life as possible. In the girl's schools there was more opportunity of doing so, because girls generally remained longer at school than boys. Any one who read the report of Mr. Cooke, who inspected the female training schools, would see that he was continually repeating his 393 exhortations to the teachers to bestow more pains on teaching the girls needlework and household work, and, where it could be done, household economy. In fact, some of the inspectors had become excellent judges of needlework. They had from the commencement impressed the teachers with the desirableness of making the education given to the girls as practical as possible. He believed that the more the quality of the education was improved, the more visible its results, the more it would be valued, and the more likely was it that the children would remain longer at school. Parents in the long run were not bad judges of what sort of education their children ought to have. He often found that a parent knew much better what progress his child was making in education than the visitors who questioned him and the managers who frequented the school.
With regard to the total absence of children from school, he thought the number of such children not so large as was generally assumed. It appeared, from the returns of the Registrar General, that out of nearly 5,000,000 children about 2,000,000 attended school; but assuming that children between the ages of three and fifteen remained in school on an average not more than five years, it would be quite compatible with those figures that every child in the country should have passed through a school. It was found, however, that children did not remain on an average five years at school. The children of the working classes remained at school, on an average, no longer than from a year to a year and three-quarters. He did not mean to assert that every child in the country had passed through a school, but the returns of the Registrar General were not inconsistent with that assertion. He believed that the number of children who never went to school was comparatively small indeed. Several inquiries had been made on that subject, and the results tended to show, that if you excluded the lowest class of children who swarmed in the courts and alleys of great towns, in which the most demoralized portion of the community dwelt, the number of those children who did not at one time or other attend school was not large. When he had had opportunites of questioning children who were grossly ignorant, he generally found that they had been at school, though they had forgotten what they had learnt. That fact showed, that even among the 394 working classes there was an opinion that their children ought to attend school, although they were very careless about keeping them there. Many children, also, played truant, and disregarded the wishes of their parents that they should attend school. The scanty attendance at several of the schools was owing to the indifference and demoralization of parents, and the extensive employment of young children. Nevertheless, when he regarded what was being done in the primary schools, he found that amid much to distress there was also much to encourage. Those schools which had been brought under the operation of the Minutes of Council were rapidly improving; abler masters were employed, there was greater energy and talent in the management of the schools, and more practical knowledge was imparted. He saw day by day greater numbers of persons devoting their attention to this great cause, and the progress, though slow, was certain. Education was spreading its roots deeper and wider in a prolific soil. Benevolence, compassion, and charity were engaged in this work. They felt that it was not so much upon mere donations, as upon a sense of duty and noble emulation on the part of those engaged in our schools that the advance of education depended. The last objection to which he would advert was one which had been frequently urged against the system. It had been said that the Government withheld their aid from the poor, while they gave it to the rich. But that was not a fair way of stating the matter. They did not give to the rich as rich, nor withhold from the poor as poor— they gave their aid to those districts in which the people interested themselves about education, and were ready to make sacrifices for it, while they withheld it from other districts, not because those districts were poor, but because they were indifferent to the education of their children. Aid was withheld from certain parishes, not because they were poor, but because no persons lived within them who took a sufficient interest in the promotion of education among the inhabitants, or who were willing to make the necessary exertions for that purpose. There was, after all, no security for the proper expenditure of the public money so good as that of the voluntary exertions of self-denying zeal, and he, for one, should he the more satisfied that that money had been advantageously laid out if its expenditure were 395 made dependent on contributions being made for the advancement of education by those who were acquainted with the wants of a particular locality, and who had proved the earnestness of their convictions by carrying out their views with the aid of funds drawn from their own resources. He did not think it was necessary he should enter into any further explanation of the Vote, as hon. Members had a sheet in their hands which fully explained all the details, but he should be ready to answer any question which might be put to him with reference to them.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he had listened with very great pleasure to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just resumed his seat; and although he was unable to concur with him in many of the conclusions at which he seemed to have arrived, the Committee he felt assured could not fail to appreciate the calm and judicious tone by which the statement of the right hon. Gentleman had been pervaded, and he ventured to express a hope that the same tone would be found to animate any discussion which might take place upon the very interesting and important matter to which that statement related. He must also state that he derived great pleasure from the fact that the vote for educational purposes had been submitted to the notice of the Committee by a Minister directly connected with the department of education in this country, and who must be held responsible for the various items which the Vote contained. Having said thus much, he should not trespass upon the time of the Committee by entering into a discussion of the question generally; because it was his intention, after the conferences upon the subject which had just taken place, to take that course when he brought forward his Motion with respect to the general subject of education, for the introduction of which to the notice of the House the noble Lord at the head of the Government had, with his usual courtesy, been good enough to say that he would place a day at his disposal. The only object which he had in view upon the present occasion was to invite the serious attention of the Committee to the financial position of the question under discussion, to the growing amount of the Estimate for educational purposes, and to the manner in which the money voted for those purposes was expended. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman as to the origin of this Vote, and he was very glad to have 396 heard the right hon. Gentleman make the important admission that the present system of education was one which could not be defended if it had originated systematically. Whatever might be its faults or defects, much good had, no doubt, been effected under its auspices; but he (Sir J. Pakington) felt convinced that the time must soon arrive when Parliament would be obliged to direct its attention to the question whether that system was one which ought to be allowed to go on permanently, and whether they were to vote an annually increasing grant for the promotion of education without taking some greater security than now existed for the beneficial expenditure of the money which they so liberally advanced. The right hon. Gentleman had observed that the present system was one under the operation of which the State assisted and co-operated with the efforts of individuals; but he (Sir J. Pakington) should contend that the result was to afford that assistance to the richer which was withheld from the poorer localities. The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, foreseeing that objection, had adverted to it at the close of his speech, and had endeavoured to meet it by saying that aid was not withheld from the poorer localities because they were poor, but because no desire was exhibited upon their parts that assistance should be extended towards them. The practical consequence, however, was that the richer districts, which were in a position to help themselves, got a very large share of the grant, while the poorer, which were unable to do anything for their own advantage, got nothing. Now, that was a great evil lying at the very root of the existing system. There was also another important question connected with the subject—namely, whether the working of the present system was such as to render It certain that the country received a full equivalent for the money which was voted by the Legislature. The right hon. Gentleman deprecated centralization—he said, that centralization in an evil sense was when the State undertook to do what localities could best do for themselves. Now, his (Sir J. Pakington's) objection to the scheme of education as it now stood was that it tended to promote centralization to an undue extent; he was strongly of opinion that, in granting a large sum of money to be administered by a central department located here in London, Parliament was doing that for the country districts which they could more efficiently 397 perform for themselves. It was absolutely impossible, for instance, that any department in the metropolis, however well conducted, could dispense money for the maintenance of schools in Devonshire or Norfolk with a due confidence that the money so expended had been laid out to the best advantage. He was of opinion, indeed, that education throughout the country could not be satisfactorily promoted unless the aid of the respective localities were obtained, and a scheme of local organization established to provide that the public money was laid out only on schools which, owing to the nature of the education which they furnished, were deserving of assistance. Before the dissolution of Parliament the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) complained of the growing amount of this grant. He (Sir John Pakington) did not complain of the amount; but he did think that it had now reached a sum which made it incumbent upon them, not in the capacity alone of friends of education, but as stewards of the public purse, to see that it was properly administered. They must also specially note the annual increase. That increase he was glad to say was mainly caused by an increased attention to the subject of education throughout the country, and mainly by the efficiency of the capitation system. That system had at the outset been limited to the rural districts, but it had by a Minute of last year been extended to the whole of England, and he had no hesitation in saying that the House of Commons would, if the system were permitted to continue, be called upon before long to vote £1,000,000 sterling yearly for the purposes of education. Now, he, for one, had no objection to see a large amount of money expended in connection with that most important subject, and that it should be the subject of an annual Vote. He might add, that certain localities ought, in his opinion, to be aided out of the general funds of the country, but then he must repeat that steps should be taken to secure the beneficial expenditure of the money thus laid out. While dealing with that question he should, with the permission of the House, read a few passages from the Report upon the state of education which had just been issued, in order to show the Government what their own inspectors stated upon the working of the present system. The Rev. Mr. Stewart, who was inspector of schools for Cambridgeshire, 398 Bedfordshire, and Buckinghamshire, in alluding to the working of the present system, said,—The necessary consequence of these features is that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a satisfactory standard of instruction in the schools which are aided by Parliamentary funds.Again, the Rev. Mr. Mitchell, who was inspector of the Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex district, said,—Of the 205 schools inspected (in 1856) 41 may be reported as being really efficient, and many of them excellent, offering not merely an ordinary education, but as good an education as I conceive to be possible, taking all the circumstances into consideration-—i.e., the age and social position of the scholars; but of 35 I am obliged to add an opinion that they are so defective in every respect—teachers, fittings, books, apparatus, and general morale—that it would be better if they were entirely closed, as they only impede progress to a better state of things. On the whole, it is almost better to have no school than a very bad one. The remaining 129 schools are more or less efficient; some are progressing, others remaining stationary, and some, I fear, retrograding.Now, it was worthy of grave consideration, whether Parliament should continue to vote large sums of public money for the support of a system on which the official inspectors pronounced no higher an opinion than this. He now invited the attention of the Committee to a table which appeared in the Report of 1854 and 1855. It was a tabulated statement of the quality of all the inspected schools, and the general result was that of those schools (the best in England, it should be remembered), only 50 per cent were in a satisfactory state. Another table, taken out of the Report for the present year, and to which he had referred yesterday at the Educational Conference, would bring pointedly before the Committee the necessity of some greater return for the expenditure of this public money. The table showed the merits of the schools under some seven or eight different heads of instruction, but he would only refer to one. He found with, reference to the simple rules of arithmetic that 4,698 schools were reported upon, and at 3,085, or two-thirds, these simple rules were described as being well or fairly taught, at 1,202 they were moderately taught, and at 411, or 10 per cent, they were imperfectly or badly taught. There were, therefore, no fewer than 1,600 schools of which the inspectors were unable to say that this essential element of instruction, was even fairly taught. Now, he was not prepared to record his vote in opposition 399 to the present grant; on the contrary, he should be very sorry to take such a course; but he thought he had stated enough to prove that some further consideration was necessary before the House of Commons should go on from year to year making these grants without better security for their employment. Within the last few days there had been an interesting conference on the subject of education, and he could not refrain from expressing his great satisfaction that the Prince Consort should have come forward and exhibited such interest in this subject. That his Royal Highness had displayed his usual ability it was unnecessary for him to say, but it was a great and signal fact that the Prince Consort should have come forward in this way, and it was also most gratifying to see gentlemen assembled from all parts of England to discuss this question. Whether any great or immediate results would ensue from this conference he might be allowed to doubt. He did not wish to be misunderstood. These results would, at all events, he believed, follow from it— namely, an extension of public interest in the question, and a useful extension of information respecting it; and if only these two points were gained there would be much to rejoice at. The main object of the conference was to discuss that unfortunate fact which his right hon. Friend had spoken of as at present the greatest impediment to education—namely, the irregular attendance of children, and the early age at which they left the schools. Now, he had ventured to point out yesterday that one cause of this irregular attendance was the badness of the schools. He was glad to hear this to a great degree admitted by his right hon. Friend; and the fact really was that the schools were to a considerable extent so deficient that the working classes could not be expected to sacrifice the wages of their children for the sake of such imperfect instruction as was imparted there. His right hon. Friend had observed that it was impossible to give the parents any money compensation for the loss of their children's services. This was quite true—they could not give compensation in money; but there was a compensation which they could give and to which the poor man who gave up the wages of his children was entitled—and that was an adequate education. His belief of the working classes was, that if they saw their children properly taught at the schools, and learning there what would 400 be useful to them in after life, they would have no objection to make those sacrifices which otherwise could not be expected from them. In one-third of the best schools of England, as he had shown, the common rules of arithmetic were not adequately taught, if taught at all. Now, those rules entered into nearly all the transactions of life—into the relations of working men with their employers, their landlords, their tradesmen; and how could they be expected to sacrifice those wages which contributed so much to their material comfort, for the sake of sending their children to school where they could not acquire even such elementary though essential knowledge? His object was now answered. He had stated at the outset that it was not his intention to enter generally into the state of education in this country, and that if he felt it necessary he would take another opportunity of doing so. No one would suspect him of being desirous of withholding pecuniary assistance for the advancement of education, but he had thought it his duty to make to the Committee this statement (confined as it had been entirely and completely to the estimate now before them), to show that the time had come for the reconsideration of the present system. As Sir John Kaye Shuttleworth had yesterday remarked at the conference, the people ought to be educated, and they must be educated. We might shirk it as we liked, but the real question at issue before Parliament and the country was, "Will you pay the price?" When, however, the country did pay the price, he thought it was their duty to see that they got the full value for their money.
§ MR. ALCOCK
called the attention of the Committee to the expediency of doubling the present rate of the capitation grant, and of reducing the number of days of attendance from 176 days to 160 days, in order to be entitled to capitation money, and of increasing the grant to masters and mistresses, on account of pupil teachers, from £5 to £10 for the first pupil teachers. The hon. Member said that the number of days at present required for attendance in order to give a claim to the capitation grant was excessive, and ought to be reduced; and the capitation grant itself was too small. With regard to the number of days, when they took off the Christmas week, the Easter week, and the Whit sun week—when they remembered the distance at which children frequently 401 lived in country places from the school, and the consequent difficulty they had in attending in certain states of the weather—when, finally, they recollected how often children were kept at home by the illness of themselves or their parents, he thought that the reduction of the number of days would be no more than reasonable. With regard to the pupil teachers, it was not worth while for any master or mistress to accept the very small pittance of £5, which was now allowed them on account of pupil teachers. It was a miserly and beggarly sum, unworthy of the House, and of the country. For the first pupil teacher, £10 ought to be given, and then, for subsequent ones, even so low as £3 might be given; but, to give but £5 where there was only one pupil teacher was niggardly in the extreme, and did not at all remunerate the master or mistress for his or her trouble and loss of time.
§ MR. W. EWART
said, he hoped the proposal of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Alcock) would be ultimately adopted, but he believed that it could not be brought forward as an Amendment on the present occasion, because the forms of the House prevented any hon. Gentleman from moving an increase of a Vote proposed by Government. He fully concurred with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) in the satisfaction he had expressed with regard to the educational statement which had been laid before the House that night; and also in his approval of that admirable Educational Conference, which bad been so happily inaugurated during the past week, and from which he agreed that much advantage must be derived; but he trusted that the duties of the Vice President of the Educational Board would be extended, and that all the educational institutions in the country — the National Gallery, the British Museum, and everything connected with science and art, or that threw, even indirectly, a light upon the educational progress of the country—would come within his duty, so that he should be able to give to Parliament accurate information of the progress of science and art in this country. As to the present system of education, he was one who thought that it could not last. Undoubtedly it was an excellent substitute for a more permanent system, and had done signal good service to the State; but he could not regard it as anything more than a parenthesis in the history of our national education. He 402 must say, on the part of the people of this country, that eventually they must take the charge of education into their own hands, and that a popular system of rating, after the manner of the Scotch or Americans, was the real basis upon which an English educational system ought to rest. What was wanted in the existing system was, the extension of industrial training in schools. It was the just judgment of the people of this country that, if their children were to have any education at all, it should be that which fitted them best to discharge the duties of their daily life; that it was not enough to give them that "little learning," which was said to be "a dangerous thing," but that it should be brought to their hearths and homes, or as Lord Bacon had said, to their ''business and bosoms;" and, until that was done, be believed they would find their educational system to be practically deficient. One most important point in connection with the subject was, the education which was given to women. He deeply lamented to say that, in the homely arts of life, and in those things which made them good wives and mothers, the women of the poorer classes in this country were wofully deficient. He hoped, therefore, that whilst attending to the general education of the people, this particular branch of it would not be lost sight of; and that means would be taken for imparting an industrial and household education to the women. He hailed the introduction of the subject of education by his right hon. Friend that night, as the Minister of Education, as a happy augury of its progress hereafter, and he trusted to see the example which had been set that evening extended in future years.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he could very cordially agree with the right hon. Baronet and those who had followed him in bearing testimony to the ability with which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cowper) had brought forward his statement that night, and with the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart) that unless the hearts as well as the heads of the people were instructed little real and permanent good would be accomplished. But he could not agree with him that the women in the poorer classes were unable to perform their domestic duties. On the contrary, he believed that it was not that they could not cook, but that very often they had nothing to cook, and taking the length and breadth of the land he believed there 403 would be found in the houses of the poor no deficiency in those comforts which were the result of intelligent management; he believed that there was as much intelligence naturally displayed in the management of the scanty income of a cottager's family as could be taught by any school system. It had been said, and truly said, that the great difficulty which at present existed did not arise from the want of schools, but from the want of scholars, and the statement of the right hon. President of the Board of Education did not, in point of fact, apply to more than one-fourth part of the children who were receiving education from the country; for it had been calculated that of about 2,000,000 children who were receiving instruction in this country, only 500,000 of those children were receiving an education under the control of the Committee of Council. And it was not a little remarkable that the outcry about the difficulty of getting children to attend had proceeded chiefly from those schools—in fact, as he had before stated, the great difficulty to deal with arose, not from the want of schools, but from the want of scholars. He held in his hand a Report from one of the most skilled of our school inspectors, Mr. Canon Moseley. Now, what did that gentleman say? He said that all their efforts had had for their object the perfecting of the elementary school, and that they entertained a hope that when the children derived more good than heretofore from their attendance at school the parents would desire to send them longer, and by degrees public opinion would become so favourable that they would willingly sacrifice for a time the wages which the children could earn; "but," added Mr. Canon Moseley, "I will not conceal from your Lordships that hitherto that hope has been disappointed, because the parents have thought, owing to the schools being now so good, that the children can get all the learning that they consider necessary earlier than they could before, and they therefore take them away sooner." That statement of Mr. Canon Moseley had received a remarkable confirmation in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who stated that the schoolmaster complained that he kept his boys till they were ten or eleven, and that they were excellent boys, wrote a good hand, and so on; and that they then went out to work, and returning again at sixteen, or thereabouts, were no better than clods. 404 The right hon. Gentleman had omitted to tell them what sort of capacity for earning a living these boys had acquired when they left school in the first instance; but that was really at the very root of the question—what sort of instruction had the boy received; was it intellectual only, or had they been trained to do their duty in that state of life in which it had pleased God to call them? He was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman express a hope that the present system would combine the earnest moral training of the ragged school with the more intellectual training of the Privy Council, because he thought that the system hitherto had been rather to exalt intellect at the expense of everything else. He looked upon this as a mistake, and he suggested that they should take care in their examinations that no children took away the prizes of intellect unless they exhibited also a fair knowledge of matters of practical utility. The right hon. Gentleman, speaking of the absence of so many children from the schools, described them in a great measure as the children who swarmed in our courts and alleys. Now, that was just the class that we wanted to get hold of, and however capable the right hon. Gentleman might be of directing science and art and those higher branches of cultivation which grew out of education, he trusted that he would not be led away to neglect those destitute children, who, as the right hon. Gentleman emphatically expressed it, "swarmed in our courts and alleys." It must be remembered that when we spoke of the criminal population as resulting from want of education, it was from that last mentioned class that the criminal population was recruited. He was afraid that we had overlooked that class too long, and that we had been striving too much to improve the quality of the education instead of teaching the people what they wanted to know. The people of this country—in the rural districts, at least—were quite alive to the advantage of education, if the children could be taught what would be useful to them and what would enable them to get through the world better. They always admitted it, and they would tell you that they kept their children at school as long as they could afford it. Another subject for consideration was the state of some of the present Government schools stated to be inefficient. His right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich had read some reports which were not very flattering to the districts 405 to which they related; and he (Mr. Henley) should like to be informed whether the Government withheld the grant from those schools which did not come up to the conditions that were required of them—whether those schools which were reported on as so inefficient got any share of the grant? That was a point which he should like to hear explained. With respect to the grant now proposed he did not at all object to its amount, and he did not see how they could take a better security for the proper application of the money than by allowing those who contributed two-thirds to one-third by the Government to look, after the expenditure. Whatever system they might adopt, there were likely to be some failures, and he certainly preferred this plan of two-thirds' voluntary subscription and one-third contributed by the Government to that which was proposed two years ago by his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich, which would have done away with voluntary subscription, and raised half by local rates, while the Government were to contribute the other half. [Sir J. PAKINGTON denied that this was his plan.] That would certainly have been the result of the proposal of his right hon. Friend two years ago; and he should like to know in what way that offered a better security for the efficient expenditure of the money than the plan at present in use. One reason for the shortcomings of the present schools might be that the master devoted too much time to his pupil teachers and too little to his boys; because the pupil teachers were profitable to him, and it was no doubt, more agreeable to an intellectual man to teach the higher branches of learning than to be instructing those who were less advanced. But this was a question for the vigilance of the Government, and their attention being called to it, he had no doubt that they would guard against any inconvenience in that direction. He was very glad to hear that the inspectors were now supposed to be competent—he was going to say needlewomen, but he supposed needlemen was the proper title—it was a very useful accomplishment. What we had heard of Prussia was not calculated to make us too anxious for the system of education pursued in that country. The right hon. Gentleman had said that it was not until after Prussia was overrun by the French that school teaching was established in that country; but what the Prussians did in 1814, when they rose as one man to 406 drive out the French, did not contrast very unfavourably with their conduct in 1848. For his (Mr. Henley's) part, had he been a Prussian, he would a hundred to one sooner have owned his country in 1814 than in 1848. Chevalier Bunsen had published a work in which he had contrasted the Prussian State education and its effects upon the population, with the voluntary system adopted in this country, and its effects, and his statements were not such as should induce us to abandon our imperfect system, if you were pleased to call it so, for that of Prussia. He (Mr. Henley) gave his cordial support to this Vote. He hoped that the efforts of the Government would be directed to those unfortunate children who swarmed in the courts and lanes of our large towns. By getting them into ragged, and, if need were, subsequently into higher schools, we should do away with the chief nurseries of sin and wickedness and consequent crime. It had at different times been urged, with some truth, that we had not yet reached to the lowest depth, and he thought that those poor districts that bad hitherto received no advantage from the grant, had reason to complain. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would deal specially with those districts in which really special cases existed; but he could not understand the advantage of that remedy which proposed, that because certain districts had hitherto derived no advantage from the funds of the State, the system of aid from the State should be given up altogether, and that these districts should be called upon to tax themselves for their own education. That was a logic he could not comprehend: the country would never grudge the money which might be needed to deal specially with these cases. There was, indeed, no general objection to the amount of this grant. Those who objected to the grant at all, indeed, only did so because they wanted to supply the means of education in some other manner. He was glad to see in the recent Minutes of Council a decreased inclination to interfere, and he hoped that, ultimately, the Government would make the grant so elastic as to include within its four corners all the odds and ends to which he had referred, and thus completely to fill up the ground.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
explained that, in the Bill to which his right hon. Friend had referred, he did not contemplate the abolition of voluntary contributions for educational purposes. On the 407 contrary, he had always dissented from that most erroneous opinion, that the establishment of a sound system of education which would reach all classes, and all parts of the country, would do away with voluntary contributions.
entirely approved the principle on which the Government acted, of helping only those who helped themselves, and thought that, in the ease of neglected districts, it was hotter to wait a few years until the clergyman or some other active person originated a movement for the establishment of schools, than to erect and support them entirely out of State funds.
§ MR. LIDDELL
asked the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire, why, if he attached so much importance to the education of children who swarmed about the lanes and alleys of our large towns, he, on a recent Wednesday, employed his acute intellect, his industry, and his sagacity, to defeat a humble measure which had for its object the training of these very children? It was erroneous to suppose that the establishment of schools and the expenditure of money would educate the people. You never could educate the people until they found out that it was worth their while to be educated. All the changes which were going on around us went to increase the value of skilled labour, and, by consequence, the inducement to parents to send their children to school. So long as a child was learning an industrial employment, however, it was not entirely without education. He contended that, in a great producing country like England, the knowledge of his trade was of the greatest importance to a child. The main point to be ascertained as far as possible, and it was to be hoped that it would be a result attained by that Conference which had just been held under high auspices, was, whether they were receiving that for which they were to pay.
§ MR. PULLER
said, he could not but feel that the speech of the right hon. Member for Droitwich had been, in some degree, an impeachment of the existing system. He did not complain of anything unfair in the extracts read from the Reports of the Government Inspectors, but he thought the right hon. Gentleman should have drawn attention to the fact that, as the present system had been in existence but a few years, it was only during the last two or three years that they had a 408 right to look for any extensive fruits from it. When the Minutes of 1846 were published there were only some three or four training schools for preparing teachers, there were now no less than forty, and, in a short time, they might expect satisfactory results from the teachers who would be sent out from those training schools. It was not by making grants for building schools that they could look for real improvement in education; it was to the master and mistress they must look. The present system was in an advancing state, but the supply of duly qualified teachers was not as yet nearly equal to the demand, and therefore the inspectors, whilst dissatisfied in many cases with the present teachers, did not always think fit at once to displace them, or by withholding their certificate to deprive them of the fruits of their exertions. So also, when the right hon. Gentleman said that the Government helped the rich parishes more than the poor ones, did the right hon. Gentleman wish the Government to begin with the smaller parishes, and advance to the more populous ones? The Government, no doubt, were bound to see whether their rules were not confined within too narrow limits, and if they thought they were, they were bound to consider how they could most wisely relax them. For instance, in ascertaining the amount of the capitation grant to any parish, there was a rule of the Privy Council which excluded all children except those who had attended a full year before the visit of the Inspector. If the child had attended continuously for any number of months and was still attending, those months ought to be included in the computation. Then he objected to the rule of the Privy Council, which did not allow the capitation grant to a mixed school with a certificated mistress, where the population was over 600. That was too low a limit, and prevented the schools in many small parishes from obtaining the benefit of the capitation grant.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he objected to the present system of national education, on the ground that it did not combine religious with secular instruction. The difficulty, he thought, might be thus met. Supposing a general rate for education; the grant voted to each religious denomination might be proportioned to its numbers, which could be readily ascertained from the census. The whole sum allotted to educational purposes might be divided pro 409 ratâ amongst the various denominations, and thus each would educate their children according to their own views, and imbue them with their own principles; and thus they would cheerfully combine religious with secular instruction. No doubt there were difficulties in this plan; because in some parts of the country a particular religious community might be so weak as not to be able to support a school; but all difficulties would be met by persevering energy. Education was not the mere teaching a child to read, write, and cast up accounts; it was the implanting in the mind the powers of comparison and deduction by a careful observation of the affairs of life, with a view to the regulation of self-conduct.
§ MR. HARDY
said, that those who were opposed to the present system were unable to point to any other system which they could substitute for it. The compulsory system which existed in Prussia could not be applied to this country. He would remind the Committee that in a town of Prussia, containing only 14,000 inhabitants, 10,000 were summarily convicted for not sending their children to school. Now, if such a state of things existed in Prussia, what might be expected in this country under a similar system, where there was perfect freedom of religious and political opinions, and where the people would never tolerate any such interference with them? He had no difficulty in supporting the Vote, because, while it acknowledged the supervision of the State, it also acknowledged the voluntary efforts and tended to encourage the moral and religious energy of the people, without which all educational schemes would be nought. Educational machinery might be set up in every part of the country, but inasmuch as men were of a different material from that on which machines were meant to work, and inasmuch as men could not be cut all into exactly the same shape, or drilled to present the same uniform appearance as a Russian regiment, such machinery by itself would be useless. With regard to the schools for the poorer population which had been alluded to, what he should wish would be that the inspectors should look carefully after them to see whether they were conducted by men who gave their whole minds and their moral and religious feelings to the work, and, if they were, that they should then be aided liberally by the State. The hon. Member for Dumfries 410 (Mr. Ewart) seemed to accuse the clergy of slackness in the work of educating the people, but this opinion was very different from that of Mr. Kennedy, who, in his Report said,—That he could not but attribute the main educational work effected in England (since 1843) to their zeal and labour, aided by the more wise and religiously-disposed members of their flock, but still essentially their work—theirs in scheme and design, in the collection of the funds, in careful supervision, and in many cases in actual teaching.''He admitted that the laity had not aided this work by their exertions and their funds so energetically as they ought to have done; for, after all, the great point was to foster this voluntary spirit, which was daily gaining more advocates in that House, and therefore in the country. The great difficulty seemed to be the early age at which the children left the school, but it was quite a mistake to think that difficulty could be got over by an educational rate or by compulsory attendance; so long as children could begin at thirteen years of age to earn as good wages as were given to pupil teachers, it was quite impossible to insure their whole attendance at school. And, after all, the industrial teaching which they got in the work-shops, in the mill, or on the farm, was quite as important a part of their education to them as reading and writing. If this industrial education could be combined with the elementary instruction of reading, writing, and arithmetic, without attempting to carry them to the higher branches, which it was more for themselves to attain, the chief difficulty would be solved, for that difficulty was how to give the child instruction without withdrawing him from profitable employment. Young people were applying their industry to the best possible object when they were applying it to getting their own living, and the point was to add to that moral and religious education. On a future occasion he hoped to be able to explain at length the grounds of his objection to an educational rate, to which he believed the best friends of education would be found uniformly opposed. From what he had read of the Reports of the inspectors, he was convinced that there was a steady uniform educational progress, and he thought that might be best furthered by a system which fostered the voluntary energy of the people under a close and efficient Government supervision.
§ MR. W. EWART
explained that he had not meant in the least to undervalue the labours of the clergy. What he had said was that it would be fortunate if they would attend to the moral instruction of the women, and more particularly the younger class of females, so as to prepare them for other education.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
thought it extremely inconvenient to include the elementary education and the scientific education under one class of Votes. The administration of the elementary educational Votes would soon be as much as the present department could manage, and the Votes for scientific and art education and schools of design would come far more legitimately under a department of public works, fine arts, and science, than it would under the organization of the Committee of Council.
, in reply, acknowledged that the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Alcock) had shown good reason why these capitation grants and payments to pupil teachers might be increased with advantage to the schools. It was not possible for him, however, to adopt the hon. Member's suggestion, as it was contrary to the general principle on which the Committee of Council acted, which was to get the maximum advantage at the minimum expenditure. That seemed to be attained by the present arrangement. The suggestion thrown out by the hon. Member for Herts was well worthy of consideration, but the ground on which the pupil teachers only received payment for twelve months was because the time was arranged from one inspection to another. The right hon. Member for Droitwich had complained that the education afforded in district schools was exceedingly imperfect. He (Mr. Cowper) found, however, in the Report of Mr. Tufnell, a comparison between the acquirements of the children educated in those schools and the acquirements of persons who were candidates for appointments in the civil service. Mr. Tufnell adopted as his test the words that had been misspelt by candidates for Government appointments, and he stated that in two of the district schools, containing seventy children, sixteen spelt the words correctly, nineteen committed one error each, eleven committed two errors each, and only one boy committed nine errors. It appeared therefore, that these children, who were below twelve years of age, were better 412 able to spell than many persons who had been educated in middle or upper class schools, and whose ages ranged between seventeen and forty years. He (Mr. Cowper) must say he believed that much better elementary education in reading, writing, and arithmetic was afforded in the district schools than in many of the middle and upper class schools. It was quite true, is the right hon. Member for Droitwich had stated, that schools of which a favourable report was not given by the inspectors did not receive any grants.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, it was well the Committee should know that the fault lay less with the parents than with the culpable indifference of the class that called itself foremost. Mr. Kennedy, in reporting upon the educational state of Lancashire and the Isle of Man, said that comparatively few persons in Lancashire felt any real concern to see the people at large educated; that a few persons made a good deal of noise on the subject, but a still smaller number carried on the work liberally and zealously; and that the mass of persons were still hostile, or at best indifferent, on the matter. "A public feeling in Lancashire for education," said Mr. Kennedy, ''has yet to be created." He (Mr. Maguire) asked what answer hon. Gentlemen connected with Lancashire could give to this damning indictment against them. It had been stated the other day by Prince Albert that out of 5,000,000 children in this country, between the ages of eight and fifteen, only 2,800,000 in England and Wales received any education whatever. He (Mr. Maguire) thought such a state of things was most disgraceful, and ought to make Englishmen pause before they indulged in taunts with regard to the system of education adopted in other countries. He considered that the statement of Mr. Kennedy as to the state of things in Lancashire was a complete answer to the advocates of the voluntary system of education, and that nothing could be better than the plan now in operation under Government supervision, which afforded ample room for voluntary efforts in particular localities.
§ MR. AKROYD
said, he thought the only portion of the estimate to which any well-founded objection could be made was the capitation allowance. He took deep interest in this subject, and believed that any measures which tended to raise the 413 standard or pupil teachers would be attended with most beneficial results.
§ MR. CHEETHAM
denied the accuracy of the statement quoted by the hon. Member for Dungarvon (Mr. Maguire) from Mr. Kennedy's Report, and observed that there were few places in the kingdom which could boast of more public institutions devoted to educational purposes than Manchester and the other large manufacturing towns of Lancashire. He was convinced that the general establishment of Sunday schools had been attended with the utmost advantage to the mass of the manufacturing population, and if he had to choose between conflicting methods of instruction, he should prefer the method adopted in those schools.
§ MR. GARNETT
also defended Lancashire from the imputation cast upon it in the extract read by the hon. Member (Mr. Maguire). In the county town which he (Mr. Garnett) represented there was a national school which Mr. Kennedy himself said was a model school for England. The extraordinary assemblage of 80,000 children to greet Her Majesty when on a visit to Lancashire testified that the people of that county were not so insensible to the cause of education as had been attempted to be shown.
§ VISCOUNT MELGUND
said, they had heard nothing as to the feeling with respect to this Vote in Scotland. He was convinced that the system now in operation would never have received the sanction of the people of Scotland if it had been introduced by a Bill before that House; and he did not see why this important matter should be provided for by annual Vote when other things of less importance were settled by Act of Parliament. The system was sectarian in its character and productive of many evils in that respect In the county with which he was connected (Roxburgh) the United Presbyterians who were more numerous than the Free Church and the Established Church, did not take advantage of this grant. Believing that the Vote ought not to be increased, he moved as an Amendment that it be reduced by the sum of £90,020, being the increase as compared with 1856.Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £271,213, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for Public Education in Great Britain to the 31st day of March 1858.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
hoped, after the interesting discussion that had taken place, that the hon. Member would not press his Motion, but allow the Committee to come to a conclusion upon the Vote.
§ MR. HADFIELD
hoped his hon. Friend (Mr. Ayrton) would not withdraw his Motion. Those who opposed the Vote had had no opportunity of expressing their opinions. It was impossible to do justice to such a subject after half-past Nine o'clock, the hour at which the discussion began. ["Divide, divide!"]
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and negatived.
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. HADFIELD
repeated that no opportunity had been given to those opposed to the Vote to express their opinions, and moved that the Chairman leave the Chair.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
hoped his hon. Friend would not press that Motion, which, if carried, would close altogether that Committee of Supply.
§ MR. DILLWYN
complained that by the hasty way in which the Chairman had decided the Motion to report progress of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) to have been negatived, the hon. Member, he (Mr. Dillwyn), and others on that side of the House, who would have supported him, had been precluded from going to a division. When the Chairman, after putting the question, said the "Noes had it," he (Mr. Dillwyn) and his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) cried out that the "Ayes had it," but in the confusion of the moment the Chairman did not appear to have beard them, and decided against them.
LORD JOHN MANNERS
was understood to say that he distinctly heard the hon. Member (Mr. Dillwyn) say the "Ayes had it" after the question was put.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair," put, and negatived.
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, he supposed he should be now in order if he moved that the Chairman report progress, and he moved accordingly.
Motion made, and Question, "That the
Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and negatived.
Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £271,213, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge for Public Education in Great Britain, to the 31st day of March 1858.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 7; Noes 163: Majority 156.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ The House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.