HC Deb 21 June 1858 vol 151 cc135-53

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.


in the Chair.

Motion made and Question proposed,— That a sum, not exceeding £563,435, 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, 1859.


said, he supposed the Committee would naturally expect that before they assented to the Vote, he should furnish them with some information as to the present position and future prospects of the important question in connection with which so large a sum of money was required at their hands. He should endeavour to do so as shortly as was consistent with his duty. He had, since his accession to the office which he had the honour to hold, endeavoured to render the code of by-legislation which bore upon the question as distinct as possible, and he was happy to be able to state that, owing to the very valuable assistance which he had received in carrying out that object from Mr. Lingen, the successor to Sir Kaye Shuttleworth in the office of Secretary to the Council of Education, not only the Minutes of the Council from the day upon which it had first been called into active existence were chronologically arranged, but that a classification of the several subjects which came under the particular superintendence of that department had been completed. He might further observe, that all the additional Minutes would be from time to time codified, in accordance with the principle upon which he had proceeded in the case of those which had already been arranged. Having said thus much with respect to the form in which the information in reference to the question might be placed in a clear and concise manner before Parliament, he should, with the permission of hon. Members, direct their attention to the Vote to which they were asked to assent, and which he would beg them to regard under three distinct heads. The whole amount of the Vote for public education in Great Britain for the current year was, in round numbers, £663,000, of which sum £157,000 might be considered as being expended under the head of building and furnishing schools; £400,000 in training various classes of schoolmasters; and £57,000 in defraying the expenses connected with the management of those schools and in the payment of the salaries of inspectors. The £157,000 might again be subdivided into the two sums of £150,000 for building and £7,000 for the purchase of maps, diagrams, and scientific apparatus; while the £400,000 might be looked upon as having for its principal items £230,000 for the payment of the annual stipends of pupil teachers and gratuities to the schoolmasters and schoolmistresses instructing them, £45,000 for capitation grants in England and Wales, and the remainder in different sums in augmentation of salaries of schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, grants to assistant teachers, and grants to training, reformatory, and industrial schools. £16,000 of the remaining sum of £57,000 to which he had alluded, being expended upon the maintenance of the establishment in London, and £40,000 in defraying the cost of inspection. The increase in the present as compared with the Vote for last year amounted to £83,000, and that sum, he might add, might be spread over the whole of the items of the Vote with the exception of two — namely, the Vote for building, which was the same as that of last year, and the grant for assistant teachers. Now, the increase of £83,000, which he had just mentioned, must, he thought, be a circumstance of unmixed satisfactions to the Committee. There were, indeed, only two suppositions upon which the contrary could fairly be anticipated to be the case; the one being that the present system of national education was one of which the Committee did not approve, and therefore desired to have changed; the other, that the money laid out upon the promotion of that system was improperly and wastefully expended. If the system was a good one, the growth of the grant must be a source of satisfaction. If the organization under which the Vote was expended was a healthy one, its income must be a matter of congratulation. With regard to the system—namely, the subsidizing out of the Treasury the local efforts of all recognized religious denominations—that was the object for which the Vote was asked, and which the House had adopted. He would not enter now into a discussion of other systems of educa- tion; he would not say whether a wholly voluntary system would be efficacious; but he would only say, in passing, that no one entirely depended on that system, except in theory. With regard to a system founded on local rating, whether rightly or wrongly, the House had always resolved to understand by it, either the domination of one religion or the elimination of all religion in the system of education, and neither of these systems would the House accept. It might then be assumed that the existing system was the system adopted by the country. He did not take the same gloomy view as some persons did of the capability of the system to supply the educational wants of the country for a long time to come. With regard to the probable extension of the system, and the limits which might be set to the expense which it entailed, he might he permitted to state very briefly the calculation which he had made. We had laid out upon buildings for educational purposes, in the purchuse of furniture, &c., about £1,000,000 from the period when the first grant had been made. That sum might be looked upon as permanent capital, which, at the rate of 6 per cent, would constitute an annual charge on the Treasury of £60,000. Now, the current expenses for public education was, deducting the cost of building and furniture, £500,000, which, added to the £60,000 which he had just mentioned, made the entire annual charge upon the Treasury in connection with the subject £560,000. With that amount of expenditure it was sought to provide for the education of 800,000 children. Now, taking the population of England, Scotland, and Wales at 24,000,000, one-eighth of that number, or 3,000,000 would come within the range of persons requiring education, from which number, if one-third were deducted to make allowance for those who would receive their education at private schools, 2,000,000 of children would still be left dependent for the means of instruction upon the national grant. The present rate of expenditure contemplated, as he had said before, the education of 800,000 children; and, starting from that fact as a basis of calculation, it was easy to show by computation for how much the education of 2,000,000 children could be dealt with, namely, about £1,400,000. That sum might be greatly economised in its extension. The building grants had naturally decreased; the grants to normal and training schools were almost complete; and he, therefore, hoped that £1,000,000 a year would be sufficient at the present rate of population to meet the educational demands of all the children who might be expected to be brought into schools aided by Treasury grants. Now, if he were right in that view, he did not think the Committee ought to object very strongly to intrusting the expenditure of so large a sum to such a department as the Council of Education, especially if the minutes of departments were regularly kept and produced for the inspection of the House of Commons, and were classified and codified as was at present the case. Every hon. Member of that house was equally anxious to carry out the end aimed at, and the only difference was as to the means. Now, it might be a source of satisfaction to the Committee, and perhaps might tend to abridge any proposed debate that evening, if he informed them that the Commission which the house had agreed to address Her Majesty for some months ago on the Motion of the First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir J. Packington) was formed and would be gazetted, he believed, to-morrow. He had certainly opposed that Commission, but now that it was formed it would be his wish, as it was his duty, to do all in his power to render their labours efficient and useful, and he thought it possible that they might throw some light on this great subject. It was not for him to say that the existing system of education was the only one possible in this country. In such a centralized system what was gained in strength and efficiency was certainly lost in want of proper control over local expenditure, and of that active interest which everybody took in works which were immediately and solely the result of local efforts. But could this more efficient and economical system be obtained? Was it possible to avoid that duplication of grants and of machinery, and that perhaps rather wasteful application of public money, which resulted from the use of religious denominational agency? Other nations might get rid of the difficulty by recognizing but one form of religion, and America by recognizing none, but in this country he did not see how they could dispense with the religious machinery now made available. With regard to the present expenditure, he had heard it said that the terms of the minute of Council in distributing the education grants led to the neglect of the poor districts throughout the country, while the rich obtained an undue proportion of aid. He thought the alarm prevailing on this point, however, was a good deal exaggerated. For his part he did not willingly recognize the plea of poverty in any district. There were always landlords somewhere, and if the mere fact of their being absentees or unwilling to contribute their fair share were once admitted, the effect would be to create the pauperism which was assumed to exist. A practical example of this kind was afforded in a metropolitan district, St. George's in the East, which was called poor, and which was said to be unable to provide education for its inhabitants. An active incumbent, however, found that, though a great part of the inhabitants of the district were in a wretched condition, the landlords were living in luxury; he appealed to their honour and self-interest, and, through their help, the district, poor as it was said to be, was supplied with perhaps better schools than existed in any other part of London. The plea of poverty, therefore, was one which ought not to be too readily admitted, for he believed that every district of England had, if properly appealed to, sufficient means of its own, subsidized, of course, by the State as other districts were, to provide for its own educational wants. He believed a more just complaint was that these grants did not meet the wants of the remote agricultural districts; but he believed they must be content to put up with that smaller success which was so unsatisfactory to those who were sanguine in their views upon national education. They must be content with a low age and short attendance from the pupils in the country schools. It was certainly lamentable to hear as they did from Mr. Moncrieff the School Inspector of the Northern Counties, that seven-tenths of the grants in his district went to the education of children under ten years of age; but any attempt to keep the children of the labouring classes under intellectual culture after the very earliest age at which they could earn their living would be as arbitrary and improper as it would be to keep the boys of Eton and Harrow at spade labour. There must be labourers, and there must be scholars, and no Act of Parliament could make these convertible terms. All that could be done was, to make the most of the time during which the children remained at school, and to supplement the day instruction by evening schools. With regard to the education in the remote agricultural districts, he confessed he thought it was of rather too ambitious a kind. From the reports recently issued, it was clear that this grant was mainly expended in towns, and that the agricultural villages did not share in it to the extent they ought to obtain. They were coming more and more within the scope of the grant, but not so rapidly as could be wished, and he believed the fact to be, that when a Government department undertook the education of the poor, the tendency was to make the standard of instruction too high and raise it above the level of those who were to be benefited. If time had allowed, he would have been glad to have made some remarks on industrial schools which came within the Vote, and which he considered of primary importance in the distribution of the money, because in them you had a class of children who were clearly altogether dependent for their education on the charity of individuals and the patronage of the State. With regard to middle-class schools, which, of course, required no such assistance, he was happy to say that this was the first day on which the University of Oxford was conducting its middle-class examinations throughout the kingdom. This movement afforded a most significant and satisfactory evidence of the increased appreciation of education which now prevailed among the middle classes. He believed this to be owing in no small degree to the immense pressure put by the State on the education of the labouring classes, which had thus extended its influence to the upper ranks of society. He was convinced that if employers only pressed forward vigorously, as Englishmen always did everything they took in hand, the intellectual training of their children, the chief difficulties of national education would be solved, for, when employers had once been highly instructed and sought for skilled labourers, there was no fear but that the class below would answer this demand, and readily and eagerly seek for the advantages of a good education.


said, he was glad that we now had a real educational Estimate, and that all the items which naturally came under that head were associated together. Still, however, he must express his regret that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) had not taken a larger view of time subject. His speech fell very short of the various details in the Estimate and he had made no reference in his statement to schools of design, to schools for art education, to museums of practical geology, or to institutions of a similar character. He thought the Minister whose duty it was to propose these Estimates to the Committee ought to furnish them with a general statement, not only with regard to schools, but with respect to the manner, and habits, and effects of school education on the people. He (Mr. Ewart) hoped that, with regard to the poorer classes, endeavours would be made to afford them a really useful education, for he found it was stated by the School Inspectors that, in consequence of the adoption of a practical education for their children, the labouring classes were beginning to appreciate the means of instruction provided for them. In Scotland hereditary teaching had shown the people the value of education. It was now a part of their nature and habits, and he trusted that, it would soon produce the same effect in this country. He believed that the existing system of education, with its complications of masters, pupil teachers, Queen's scholars, and inspectors, was very good as far as it went, but he regarded it merely as a temporary system, which must be replaced by one more extensive and efficient.


said, that while he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) that this was not, and ought not to be, made a party question, he entirely differed from that right hon. Gentleman in his statement, that no man now depended upon the Voluntary system. He had felt seine hesitation in expressing his opinions upon this occasion, for he knew that it was commonly supposed that those who in any way doubted the propriety or the application of the continually increasing Parliamentary grants to this object, were opposed to the great cause of popular education. For himself, he yielded to no man in his interest in that cause. In his youth he had been a Sunday-school teacher, and up to the present time he had aided educational efforts to the extent of his power. But he looked upon it as a most important question—a question which called for the earnest consideration of the house, how far the Parliamentary grants, commencing at £20,000 — already increased to £1,000,000, and going on at a rate which, on the authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would, are long, amount to three or four millions—answered the purpose for which they were made. Of course this vast expenditure involved a large amount of patronage, extending over the country, and centring in the educational department. By a Return he had recently moved for of the means and salaries of those inspectors and sub inspectors appointed by the Board, who received upwards of £100 per annum, he found that about £40,000 per annum was spent in those salaries, and out of fifty-six inspectors and sub-inspectors, thirty-two were clergymen and ministers, having, he concluded, other sources of income than their school inspectorships, though whan he found that some received £600 per annum, as well as £250 per annum for travelling expenses, he confessed he thought the Council might fairly require the whole of the time of these gentlemen. He was not about to detain the Committee with going into the various arguments for the Voluntary system; but let them recollect, that sonic of the clearest and closest reasoners who had written on the subject, still doubted the efficiency and efficacy of the present system. He would quote a few lines from an able writer on this subject:— We have abundant evidence, if we will but look around us, how, under the pretence of educating the people, they may be trained almost to anything; and it appears to me quite possible by this insidious system to undermine the liberties of a people, and rob them, by slow degrees, of their most cherished rights, when all other more direct means of attack would fail in accomplishing the purpose. It is the moral result of education that should be kept in view, and we should remember that by the means we adopt to promote education, we are teaching a lesson, and more certainly educating the people, than by the books we place before them. If the channel through which education is conveyed to the people lead them to undervalue independence and self-reliance; if it lead them to a craving for help from Government to do that which is essentially the duty of the individual; then I say the lesson so taught is bad, pernicious, and enervating. So far was he (Mr. Gilpin) from agreeing with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) that no man now had faith in the Voluntary principle, that lie believed that that principle had been the mainspring of educational effort, long before many of the present advocates of education were alive. Let it he remembered (for after the statement of the President of the Education Board it was only fair that the other side of the question should be shown) that there were those who believed that Government aid was not necessary, and that ample means for the education of the people would be provided by voluntary agency, as fast as and faster than the people were prepared to desire it, and avail themselves of it. On this point he would read an extract:— Government has contributed the soon of £654,851 during the last eighteen years towards increasing school accommodation. In the same period there was subscribed, towards the same schools, by the voluntary benevolence of the promoters, the sum of £1,637,534 5s. 6d. Of the total sum there has, therefore, been contributed:—

By voluntary benevolence 72 per cent.
By Government ditto 28 per cent.
Was the proportion contributed by Government actually needed or not? We are happy to say that we can answer this question with all the formal exactness required by the official mind. The total number of children for whom accommodation has been created by this great expenditure is £529,410. The total number of buildings erected or enlarged, 4,247. Keeping these figures before us, we will go on to another table. We find in the general summary of results of inspection for the year 1855–6, that the school inspectors visited during that year 5,179 schools, in which the average attendance of children was 571,239; the attendance on examination day, 645,905; but the accommodation at eight square feet of superficial area per child, 877,762. The accommodation, therefore, exceeds the largest attendance by exactly 231,857. But Government has only provided accommodation for 28 per cent of 529,014 or 148,124. There would, therefore, have been an excess of accommodation over attendance in the inspected schools alone, without the aid of a single penny from the State, from the time the first grant was voted until now, for no fewer than 83,733 children. This result will be seen more clearly by the following statement:—
Actual accommodation 877,762
Accommodation required 645,905
Surplus 231,857
Deduct accommodation provided by Government aid in inspected schools from the commencement of grants (namely, 28 per cent of 529,014) 148,124
Surplus without Government aid. 83,733'
It would be, he thought, worthy of the right hon. Gentleman's inquiring, what proportion of those whom we educated as pupil teachers with the hope that they would continue to devote themselves to the work of education, did continue so to devote themselves. He thought it would be found that a large proportion became clerks, mechanics, and labourers, and however much it might be desired to have able clerks, he submitted that this was not the purpose of these Educational Grants. Again, we had the Capitation. "One of the items in the expenditure which is most rapidly increasing is the Capitation Grant." This was originally confined to rural districts—it is now extended to large towns. Of this grant, the Rev. F. Temple, late Principal Inspector, has thus written in the "Oxford Essays:"— The Capitation Grant has had a slight effect in improving the regularity of attendance. It has compelled a few more schools than before to employ certificated teachers; it has induced a few other less important improvements. But the probability is, that two-thirds of it has been spent on schools which were doing quite as well without it; and that two-thirds, therefore, has not been spent in promoting education, but in relieving others of the burden of doing so. Now the duty and the privilege of the working man, as, indeed, of all men, was to provide for the education of his children,—physically, intellectually, morally, religiously,—and he who will teach the working classes of this country the importance of education, and induce them, themselves to provide for the education of their little ones, would do more for the success of real practical education than all your Government grants. On this point he agreed with the following passage, extracted from The Times of April 21:— But, though we might not be able to hit a blot in the Budget, there is a blot in modern finance which shows itself in this Budget, and this is the true mark of most of the criticisms made upon it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself has pointed it out in the continual and still increasing additions to the national burdens, in the shape of miscellaneous, civil service, and extraordinary expenses of all kinds. The Education grant within a very few years has reached a million; and, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer says, if it goes on at its present rate, will soon be three or four millions a year. Yet there is scarcely a shadow of Parliamentary interference. Any subject whatever, anybody's petty quarrel with anybody will get a night or two; but the working of a system which is fast absorbing the whole education of the country, and moulding the future mind of England, does not get an hour in the Session. In a country like ours, where people are really able to govern themselves, and rich enough to find the money, the less done from Downing Street, and even Parliament itself, the better for the work, and the better for the people. The House would do well to consider the question:—Are these grants, large already, and continually increasing, really serving the cause of free, sound, and unsectarian education, or are they paralyzing the arm of voluntary effort, which cannot be prized too highly, and subversive of that voluntary principle which, in his opinion, formed no small part of individual success and of national greatness? He trusted that he should obtain from the House a response to his sincere, though he was well aware, imperfect advocacy, of a principle which lay, in his opinion, near the very root of national morality and independence.


said, that he was sure the hon. Gentleman did not attempt to mislead the House, but he felt that his statements were calculated to have that effect. Who would understand from his praises of the voluntary system that so far from the great advance lately made in education being owing entirely to voluntary efforts, it was notorious that those voluntary efforts had in a great measure been called into existence by Government aid? If the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down would refer to the state of education twenty-five years ago, before these grants were commenced, and when the schools were pray entrusted to broken-down shopkeepers and discarded serving-maids, he would very soon see that the voluntary system by itself was not to be depended on for meeting the wants of the country. That system was now discarded in the United States, in Germany, in France, indeed in every country which had made any advances towards civilization, and to say that it could have produced the effects in England which had been produced by our present system was really to throw aside all the evidence furnished by the facts of the case. The hon. Gentleman's argument as to the pupil teachers was scarcely fair. He had complained that the pupil teachers did not in many cases follow out the profession of a teacher; but he would remind the Committee that the pupil teachers gave full value in their services as pupil teachers for all the payment they received. It would not be fair that a boy apprenticed at the age of thirteen should be held to be bound for life to the work of a schoolmaster; and in these days, when there was such a great demand for skilled labour, the country was almost as much benefited by some of these young men finding employment as engineers or clerks as if they had remained schoolmasters. For his own part he rejoiced at the extension of this system, knowing, as he did, that every £1 advanced by Government, called out £2 from the voluntary subscriptions of the people.


said, he wished to direct attention to the reduction of the capitation grant to those very useful institutions, the ragged schools. By a minute of Council of June 2nd, 1856, a grant of 50s. per head per annum was made to them, to enable them to feed those who resorted thither, it being considered impossible to induce the lowest portion of the juvenile population to attend those schools unless they were provided with food. The effect of that minute was to give a great impulse to ragged schools, and the success of their efforts had been very considerable. By the minute of the 2d of December last, however, the allowance had been reduced to 5s. a year, which was totally inadequate for the purpose. He hoped that the Government would restore these schools to the position in which they were placed by the minute of June, 1856; for unless they did so, there was great danger that they might cease to exist. The sum required for this purpose was so trifling, compared with the object to be accomplished, that he thought the most parsimonious Government could not object to it. He observed, also, that the allowance to industrial schools was so niggardly as to baffle all the attempts of those who were interested in them. It was only £5 a year each, while the reformatory schools, which were institutions of a kindred nature, received £18 or £19 a year each. He suggested that all these schools should be placed under the management of that large and well-organized department, the convict department, and that the question of the aid to be afforded to them should be withdrawn altogether from the Committee of Education.


said, he agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, that the class of children to whom he referred stood most in need of the fostering hand of those who had the disposal of the public money. He was glad to hear that a Commission would shortly commence its labours on this subject, and he thought that the proper time for a complete revision of the plans which had hitherto been pursued in the matter of education would be when the Commissioners should have collected all their evidence, and have presented their Report upon the subject. Then, too, would be the time to inquire whether that combination of the voluntary principle with Government interference, whether that delegation of instruction altogether to the religious bodies scattered throughout the country, whether that heterogeneous and mongrel plan, in short, which was now in vogue was the most efficacious one for the country to pursue. He suspected at they would find that it was not, and certainly the Report which had just been made tended to confirm him in that impression. It was by no means an encouraging Report. They were told that the same amount was to be asked for this year as last for the erection of school buildings, when the fact was that they had already done a great deal too much in that direction. School building had been carried on throughout the country until it was stated, on good authority, that there was now accommodation for twenty or thirty per cent more pupils than were ever gathered together. The impulse to erect a school was generally strong. It appealed to one's liberality which poured out with a gush, but did not continue to flow permanently so as to support the school. They were not told in the Report that there was any improvement in the ages of the children who attended the schools or in the length of their attendance. So far from this being the case, the children presented a younger appearance every year, and the schools were degenerating into a better kind of infant schools, by no means answering the purposes for which they were intended. Until they could devise some mode for insuring the continued attendance of children for a greater length of time all their efforts to promote general education would be vain. They were not told so much either of the moral effect of the education imparted as he would fain have heard. They still found from the gaol returns that by far the larger proportion of prisoners consisted of those who were not entirely ignorant, but who had been at some school or other, such as now existed—a class of schools of which one of the inspectors himself said that it would be by no means a gratifying thing to the lovers of education if every child in the country were in one of them. They were too often only the portals of the gaol or the ginshop. This too must be attributed to the system which had been established. On those instructed for the office of schoolmaster there had been a great waste of the public money. They had trained people for an office which offered no encouragement, no ambition, nothing but solitary starvation, and which, consequently, many abandoned to enter upon more profitable paths of life. He doubted whether there was any ground for the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that education covered a greater area than heretofore. If they took the number of children of the school age in the last census and compared it with the number in former years, they would find that the number of children of that age who were neither at school nor at work was continually on the increase. Their exertions did not keep pace with the population. There was still an increasing mass of ignorance, and consequently of vice, which required very different and much more energetic modes of struggling with than any yet adopted. He believed the voluntary system had egregiously failed. The mixed system had also failed; and it was only to be hoped the Report of the Royal Commission would put them in the right way. He believed the Government could do more indirectly than directly for the encouragement of education; on that account he had been glad to hear the discussion which preceded their going into Committee; the repeal of all taxes which interfered with the diffusion of knowledge would tend much to the spread of education. He had also heard with satisfaction the announcement that the University of Oxford had their examinations under the new system; he believed those examinations would tend to create an honest and honourable ambition in the minds of young men connected with mechanics' institutions and other associations for self-culture, and eventually create a public opinion in favour of good education, not only amongst them, but in the class below them. If they examined the returns they would find the schools remarkable for giving good instruction were more frequented than the others, thus showing that even the poor were able to appreciate a good education. He trusted the new University movement would create a public opinion in favour of good education amongst the lower classes; if that were done they would require neither the help of Government nor the charity of congregations


said, he hoped that the Government would not break faith with the ragged schools the patrons of which had incurred considerable expense on the faith that Government help would be continued to them. He protested against the transfer of ragged schools to the superintendence of those who were intrusted with the administration of the criminal law, and urged the Government to persevere in the present educational system.


said, it seemed to be generally assumed that all which could be done was effected if they provided the poor with the means of education; if they did not choose to avail themselves of these means the State could do nothing more. He, however, was rather disposed to agree with the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fox) a very high authority on these subjects, that the Government could, perhaps, do more indirectly than directly for the encouragement of education. Their great object should be to have a voluntary system. He used the word in its natural not the controversial sense. He did not mean what was generally called a voluntary system, the upper classes making a voluntary contribution for the education of the poor—that was not a real voluntary system. The sense of the benefits of education was now sufficiently diffused amongst the higher and middle classes and the problem which they had now to solve was by what means they could make a sense of the benefits of education penetrate the lower classes, for whom this educational system was intended. They ought to hold out some prospect to the poor of their children obtaining a direct advantage from the education which they so earnestly pressed those poor parents to allow their children to receive. His experience of the University system and the direct pecuniary advantages which it held out induced him to believe that without such a prospect they would find great difficulty in impressing upon the minds of the poor a sense of the benefits of education. Prizes innumerable and valuable in the eyes of those who competed for them ought to be offered to the children of the poor, just as prizes were offered to students at the Universities. The Government had a great deal in its power in that respect. He did not allude to clerkships in the public offices, but to the office of messenger in the Post-office, of letter-carrier, and situations of that kind, which ought to be thrown open to the competition of such as could best pass an examination at the public schools. That competition would benefit not only those who were successful, but also those who were not, inasmuch as it would give a stimulus to their education, and ultimately the people at large would feel the beneficial effects of that competition. The poor would then attend to the education of their children, not to please the squire or the clergyman, but for their own benefit. Public companies also and persons in the different walks of business might, by offering employment to be competed for in this way, do much to promote the general education of the country, without the expenditure of a single shilling of the public money. If such a plan were adopted by the Government and by public companies the people at large would have a relish for education. The people unfortunately had a very strong taste for fermented liquors. The demand created the supply, and at every corner there was a gin palace to minister to their wants. If there were the same taste for education there would be no need of any Government machinery to supply it. It might be Utopian to suppose that there ever would be such a taste, but was it not right to do all they could to stimulate the desire for education, that when once created they might dispense with the necessity of any Government aid. If they were to provide every possible means of education it would still still be distasteful, because they would be enforcing on the people as a boon and a favour to their superiors that which ought to be desired for its own sake.


said, he objected to the sectarian system upon which they were proceeding in respect to education, and which he regarded as essentially wrong. He thought a system ought to be introduced under which children of different persuasions would be taught to sit on the same forms, and not regard each other in the light of heretics; this, he contended, the House of Commons could accomplish if it seriously took the matter in hand, and earnestly applied itself to the task. He had no objection to the Vote for Ireland, for he thought the plan pursued in that portion of the kingdom much to be preferred to the system which prevailed in England and in Scotland. It was not his intention to remark upon the Vote for England—of the working of the educational system here he knew comparatively little, but he was well acquainted with its effects in Scotland, and he regarded them as tending to propagate sectarian differences. If the Established Church opened a school in a parish the Free Church opened another immediately. Both received grants, and the consequence was, that the parish had two bad schools instead of one good one. The Vote in aid of Scotland for the present year showed an increase of £14,751; this he regarded as a proposal to make the differences already existing more widely felt, and, such being the case, as calculated still further to remove the prospect of a better system, free from the sectarian influences to which he had adverted, and under that conviction he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by that sum—namely, £14,751.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £548,684, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge for Public Educa-cation in Great Britain, to the 31st day of March 1850.


said, that liberal as was the educational Vote for the present year, he, for one, thought that it fell short of what was so urgently required for bettering the condition of the people, and believing that to be the general opinion of the House, he felt sure that the Amendment just moved had little chance of success. He rose, however, for the purpose of expressing his dissent from the statements made by more than one hon. Member as to the light in which the people regarded the efforts of the Government for the extension of education amongst them. Now so far as his own experience went he felt persuaded that there was not any general unwillingness on the part of the people to avail themselves of the advantages afforded them, although, no doubt, hon. Members might have met with individual instances of apathy which justified their statements. But as a general rule he thought that the working men of England were not insenible to the value of educational opportunities, and he knew of cases where they had in more than one northern county invited taxation themselves in order to extend more widely the cause of education.


said, the Motion made by the hon. Member (Mr. Black) was one he should hardly have expected from a Scotch Member, and he was quite sure that it had not been made in concert with other Scotch Members, for the effect of it would be to deprive Scotland of advantages which that country would otherwise acquire. For his own part, he was very anxious that these grants should be applied to tuition exclusively and not to food, except in the case of abandoned children, for whom the Minute of 1857 made provision. It had been said that children could not be attracted to these schools except by feeding them. That had been the course in the schools of Aberdeen, but it had not hitherto been the case in England, and he thought that the expense of feeding the children might be left to the benevolent persons who had charge of the schools. For children in the lower classes, education was a necessary, and when hon. Gentlemen talked of leaving such education to the parents, they should remember that in no country of Europe had parents been enabled to raise the necessary amount, and if it were left to parents there would be no education at all. They might be left to pay a portion of the expense, but to suppose that they could pay it all was entirely. out of the question, The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Gilpin) had spoken as though State provision was opposed to the voluntary principle, but that was a great fallacy, for in England, he thought, the balance had been most successfully kept between the two systems. The combination of the two was the principle for which he thought, experience showed them they ought to contend. He doubted whether the education of these classes should be stimulated by prizes. In the Universities men strove for honours because they might be useful to them in after life, but amongst children who would have to gain their living by labour, he thought this artificial stimulus should be avoided, and that all that should be attempted should be to give them practical instruction which would be useful to them in their future career.


said, the Motion of the hon. Member for Edinburgh applied to the whole Vote quite as much as to the increase, but he did not think any one would for a moment contemplate moving such an Amendment.


said, the hon. Gentleman was under a mistake, as there was no such Vote as that which he wished to reduce. The hon. Gentleman referred to an item of expenditure in the Vote of last year.


said, he presumed he could reduce the Vote from £563,435 to £548,684—namely, make a reduction of £14,751.


said, he could add his testimony to that already borne as to the value of ragged schools. By encouraging the education of the poorest classes a stimulus would be given to parents immediately above them in social position to send their children to good schools at their own expense.


said, he would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


suggested that at the school examinations the cleverest and most intelligent pupils ought not alone to be rewarded. Prizes should also be given with a view to draw out the quieter and less obtrusive virtues, on which the future happiness of the children so much depended.


adduced figures to show that Scotland, in proportion to her population, did not receive an equal share with England of the educational Votes. Moreover, Scotland was taxed in a way from which England was exempt. She paid about £40,000 a year for her parochial schools, and England ought to be similarly assessed. Many persons in Scotland thought the system upon which these grants were distributed was radically defective. The parochial schools of Scotland were too sectarian in their character.

Vote agreed to.

House resumed; Resolution to be reported To-morrow.