HC Deb 22 February 1859 vol 152 cc695-714

said, he rose to call attention to the Circular of the Committee of Council on Education, dated the 22nd day of May, 1858, and to make a Motion in connection with this subject. He was sorry to find fault with anything which had been done by the right hon. Gentleman opposite; but the letter in question had given much dissatisfaction among persons interested in education; it had been strongly protested against by the Inspectors of schools, it was so mischievous, and so faulty in principle, that it was his duty to appeal to the House, with a view of obtaining its reconsideration. The inspection of schools was the keystone of the edifice which during many years they had been raising on the foundation of Parliamentary grants, and it afforded to those who looked with anxiety at the largeness of the grants, the best means of ascertaining whether the expenditure secured an adequate return. Of all blue-books, the Reports of the School Inspectors had the most readers. They were full of interest to managers of schools. Schoolmasters were as proud of being honourably mentioned in those documents, as soldiers were of appearing in a general's despatch. They enlightened the public about popular education and contributed to the formation of public opinion on the subject. Instructions had been from time to time given with respect to these Reports—that they should be concise and practical, and that the compilers of them should avoid vague speculations, and find the materials in the circumstances of the schools which they inspected. From 1844 up to the present year the annual Reports of the Inspectors of Schools themselves had been published; but the new circular announced that a general Report to Her Majesty from the Committee of the Privy Council for Education would be substituted for those Reports. Henceforth, the Reports of the Inspectors would not be given to Parliament, but would be made use of as materials for the Reports of the Education Department. This was open to great objection. These Reports should be impartial, and independent, and attractive. The impartiality of extracts would be questioned. People were influenced by their opinions in estimating the relative importance of different parts of a Report. The Vice-President of the Education Department might think it most important to extract what favoured the existing system, while the Member for Droitwich might attach greater value to passages which spoke of its deficiencies; when these Reports had been digested and perhaps assimilated in the Department, they might acquire a meaning different from their original intention. Parliament wanted the genuine expression of experienced and able men in their own words, and not in selected fragments. A selection would want independence. Amongst other things the Inspectors had to state the impressions they found prevailing in their districts as to the minutes of the Committee of Council, and as to the regulations which the Government had made. It might frequently be their duty to report that certain regulations had failed to meet the wants and desires of the persons engaged in education in their district, and had not worked well in practice; or, on the contrary, they might have to report that the measures of the Committee of Council were generally approved of. Such observations came appropriately from the Inspectors as impartial and independent witnesses, but would be ill-placed in a Report composed by the head of the department. One advantage of these Reports had been that they had not combined to promote any one particular plan or method, but they gave the authentic impressions produced on different minds by experience in different parts of the country, and were very practical both in their facts and inferences; but if these Reports were to be superseded by an aggregate Report, this multiform character would be lost in the general impression of the Minister of Education. A condensed summary, moreover, prepared in the office, would not be so interesting or so much read as the personal narratives, The heads of other departments did not profess to assume any such functions. It was true that the Poor-law Board did make a statement of statistical facts and figures, but they did not make an abridgment of the Reports of the Poor-law Inspectors, and it would not be desirable that the Home Secretary should assume an authorship with respect to the Reports of the Inspectors of prisons and factories, instead of presenting them as they were written. If the Committee of Education undertook to select passages from these Reports for publication, they would be regarded as responsible for whatever they inserted, just as in countries where a censorship of the press existed, everything which was allowed to appear was presumed to have the sanction of the Government. It was alleged on the other side, that the Reports of the Inspectors were not in all respects such as ought to be published, but the Committee of Council had it in their power to lay down the strictest rules with regard to the character and nature of the Reports they desired to have sent up to them. By the original agreement between the Committee of Council and the Bishops, with respect to the National Schools, it was agreed that the Report of the Inspectors should be shown to the Bishop of the diocese in which the schools were situated; so that the Bishops must still see the Reports of which Parliament was to be deprived. For these reasons, he urged the expediency of allowing the original Reports to appear unaltered and unabridged. The withdrawal of publicity from the tabulated Reports would be most mischievous. There could hardly be a greater drawback to the progress of education than to discontinue their publication, and if the reason for so doing was to save the expense of printing, then considering that the Reports of these Inspectors were the best guarantee that existed for the proper expenditure of an amount of £620,000, it would be the most absurd penny-wise and-pound-foolish kind of saving that was ever proposed. With regard to the discontinuance of the tabulated return of schools, he was now given to understand that the right hon. Gentleman opposite would abandon that part of the new regulation. From the circular letter of June last, it appeared that the Reports on individual schools would no longer be printed, but communicated in manuscript to the several schools. This was indeed a retrograde step, in the nineteenth century, to give up printing, and return to manuscript. In conclusion, this circular would retard the progress of education, and would establish a bad precedent for other official Departments. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the General Reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors, when prepared in accordance with the instructions of the Committee of Council on Education, should continue to be laid upon the Table of the House unaltered and unabridged; and that the detailed Reports, tabulated according to districts, should be printed and made public as heretofore. Question proposed.


said, he thought he should be able to remove from the mind of the right hon. Gentleman a great deal of misapprehension upon which this Motion was based. The Motion was somewhat different in form to what it was when first entered upon the notice paper. He had told the right hon. Gentleman that his only objection to the Motion in its original form was, that it would call on the House of Commons to affirm that it was right to do that, which, in fact, was actually being done at this time. The right hon. Gentleman, in consequence of that remark, had introduced the words, "unaltered and unabridged;" but he (Mr. Adderley) could not consent to that addition. There were two kinds of Reports referred to in the Motion, and it was necessary to distinguish between them. There were, first, the general Reports of the Inspectors, which were now presented by the Education Department to Parliament; and there were, secondly, the detailed Reports on individual schools, which had never been presented to the house of Commons, but printed by the Department and gratuitously distributed to the schools. With regard to the second kind of Reports, there was no difference between the right hon. Gentleman's views of what ought to be done, and what was done by the office at that moment except that a great deal more was done by the office than he asked. The Reports of the Inspectors on individual schools were not only printed in the manner that was now asked, but a great improvement had been added. Heretofore, it had been the practice to keep the Reports on individual schools in the office until the conclusion of the year, when they were all put together in a summary, printed, and published in one volume, and distributed. The consequence was, that each Report did not reach the School Committee to which it referred in many cases until some twelve months after the inspection. He, himself, as manager of several schools could say from his own experience, that in this way the Reports, whether for praise or blame, were rendered absolutely useless. Who would care whether an Inspector's Report stated that a school had been well or ill managed twelve or fourteen months previously, when, perhaps, the master had since been changed, and the conduct of the school had become materially improved with the lapse of that time? It was essential to the efficacy of these individual school Reports, whether for censure or approval, that they should follow immediately on the inspection of the school; and this was now carried out, so that every school within a short time after the inspection, received the sentence passed on it by the inspector. The tabulated summary of these returns at the end of the year was certainly also useful for the purpose of statistical comparison, and convenient for Members of Parliament and others to refer to as a general statement of the condition of schools throughout the different districts of the kingdom. It had, after securing the more important immediate returns, only been a question of expense, and he was happy to say he had obtained the consent of the Treasury to this tabulated statement being printed, and sold at cost price to anybody who wished to obtain it. It was well known that in May last, a Treasury Minute was issued restricting the number of copies of Parliamentary Reports to be gratuitously distributed; and, indeed, it was found to be absolutely necessary to place a limit on the expenditure for that purpose. It had now been arranged, however, that these tabulated summaries of individual school Reports would be printed and sold at cost price, besides the immediate manuscript communication of each to its own quarter, which he considered a very material improvement. But with regard to the general Reports of the Inspectors, a considerable alteration, which he also regarded as an improvement, had been proposed by the Committee of Council in the mode in which those Reports were to be presented to the House. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to misapprehend the intention of the Circular to which he had referred, if he supposed the Committee of Council undertook to digest and assimilate these different Reports, and make a combined Report, for which they themselves would be responsible. He (Mr. Adderley) agreed that it would be very unwise in any Department to take such a course. What the Committee of Council had undertaken to do was to address the whole of the Report from themselves to Her Majesty in Council, as the Poor Law Reports were addressed, treating as an appendix, but in the same type, a volume of Reports addressed by the Inspectors to the Committee. The individuality of the Inspectors' Reports would not be lost, they would not be digested or assimilated, but at the end of the Report of the Committee of Council would be printed all such extracts from the Reports of the Inspectors as might be considered to come under its proper head. The Inspectors were very able functionaries, and nothing should be done to diminish the value of their Reports; it was therefore important that the Reports of each Inspector should not be published in extenso without extracting all irrelevant matter from it which did not come properly into a Report. The actual facts embodied in each Report would be given ipsissimis verbis, but the Government should not undertake to print any disquisitions upon moral philosophy or other irrelevant writing in which the Inspectors might choose to indulge. In his circular of 1851, the Marquess of Landsowne complained of the extravagant length to which these documents ran, and requested that the Inspectors should be more concise in their observations for the future. The same circular stated that the bulk of the volumes interfered with their usefulness; that they were not convenient media through which to advocate particular theories or schemes of education; that what was wanted was not speculation or inference, but data and facts for the information of Parliament. Similar directions were issued in 1852 by Lord Lonsdale; and their effect had been to confine the Reports within more reasonable limits, and to render them more germane to the subjects they had to treat. The Report which formed the climax of abuse rendering this interference necessary, was a volume of 211 pages, including five maps, and travelling over every possible subject, with disquisitions on the difference between the Celtic and Saxon races. That Report alone cost £100 in printing. There was a Report in the very last volume on the beneficial effects which would be produced by education upon the habits and morals of the people, on the prevalence of a taste for sensual indulgences, and other equally irrelevant matters. Now, it could not be denied that the heads of a Department were responsible for the character of the papers which they presented to Parliament, and the improvement now proposed in the mode of publishing these Reports would render them far more useful and more practically available as Reports. It would be a mischievous principle to lay down, that the heads of each Department of the State should be compelled to print indiscriminately at the public cost everything sent in to them by their subordinate agents. What would be thought if the Inspectors of Prisons included in their Reports to the Secretary of State lengthy dissertations upon moral philosophy; or if the Sanitary Inspectors sent in disquisitions upon homœpathy, hydropathy, and every medical theory extant? The right hon. Gentleman's Motion was based on an erroneous idea of the functions of these educational Inspectors. They were very able men, capable of performing an important duty, but if they were treated as colleagues of the Committee of Council, that body would be regarded as dispersed over the whole country, would become exposed to pressure and solicitation from all quarters, and would be considered as putting out feelers to encourage every nostrum and experiment, and would become pledged or implicated in a most multifold and mischievous manner. The tendency was already dangerously great towards yielding to the pressure from rich and stirring quarters where education would advance of itself, and therefore Government should not undertake the task better done without them. Voluntary action would be superseded and overlaid, while the public grant would be wasted where it was unnecessary, and withheld from places where it was most wanted. There was one point worthy the attention of the noble Lord the Member for London. If the system of national education increased, as it was to be hoped it would, until it attained three times its present dimensions, the number of Inspectors would, of course, have to be proportionately augmented. In that case what would happen if the country was put to the expense of printing everything without distinction which the larger staff, numbering, as the noble Lord had himself proposed, as many as eighty, sent in for publication In regard, then, to the second or tabulated Report, the right hon. Gentleman must acknowledge that all which his Motion sought was already obtained, and a great deal more besides. As to the general Report, a greatly improved form was to be adopted, of which the House would soon have a specimen before it. If it should then be dissatisfied with what the Government had done, the House would have nothing more to do than to agree to a Resolution requiring on its own responsibility that the Reports furnished to the Executive should be published by them in extenso as first sent in.


said, that although there was not so much difference between the two right hon. Gentlemen who had just addressed the House, as at first appeared, they were very far from being agreed. It appeared from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley), that with reference to the Reports of the Inspectors on individual schools considerable improvements had been introduced, inasmuch as the Report on each school was communicated in manuscript to that school almost immediately after the Report was made, so that the promoters and managers had the opportunity of attending to any observations which it might contain. With respect to the tabulated statements it appeared that instead of being given gratuitously they were now sold. He was disposed to advocate economy, but certainly he should not have complained if the Government had continued that gratuitous distribution, and thought it was too much the habit to make a parade of economy in these little matters. The principal question before the House was the manner of dealing with the general Reports of the Inspectors, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hertford contended that they ought to be given entire, and in the language of the Inspectors. Now the Government, as he understood, proposed to make a sort of digest of these reports, and submit them as Reports from the Committee of Council to Her Majesty in Council on the subject of education. Now he infinitely preferred receiving the Reports of the Inspectors in their words and in their own form, without any change on the part of the Government. [Mr. ADDERLEY: The Reports are to be given in the words of the Inspectors.] But the Report was to be given in the shape of extracts, and not entire. He had a great dread of the system of extracts, because passages might be excluded which if inserted, would give a different meaning to the Report on the whole. He was willing to admit the force of the objection that Inspectors were apt to expatiate and speculate on general principles rather than to give the facts that came under their own observation. But the Committee of Council had the remedy for this evil in their own hands, for the Inspector was bound report according to his instructions, and all that was now asked for was, that the Reports made according to these instructions should be submitted in their entirety to the House. The words of the instruction were very precise:— Her Majesty's inspectors shall make their annual Reports with the utmost conciseness which may be sufficient to show the state and progress of education in their several districts, as it may have come under their own observation in the course of their inspection since the period when their last Reports were made. Now, if an Inspector indulged in speculations, all the Committee had to do was to call his attention to his disregard of their instructions, and desire him to amend his Report. But when a Report was accepted by the Committee of Council it ought to be submitted in that form to the House, and to that extent he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hertford (Mr. Cowper). The power of altering the Reports of the Inspectors might be abused, and if the right hon. Gentleman pressed his Motion to a division he would give it his support. The words of the Motion were, that the general Reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors, when prepared according to the instructions of the Committee of Council, should be laid on the table. Surely there could be no objection to that proposition, and he trusted the Govern- ment would not think it necessary to divide the House on the question.


said, he thought that the Government were acting wisely in endeavouring to lessen the expense of printing the Reports. The printing of one Report had cost no less than £5,000. Loads of blue-books were sent into the library every year, but the size of the volumes was alone sufficient to deter any man from opening them. He had had some experience in giving instructions to authors as to the limits within which they should write, and he knew that if he fixed it at ten pages it would probably be fifty. He was certain condensation would raise the value of the Reports, and would give hon. Members some chance of understanding the subject of them.


said, it was impossible not to sympathize with the horror expressed by the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken of those voluminous blue-books with which their shelves were encumbered and the greater part of which it was quite impossible for any one to read, but he could not help expressing his regret that while the Government were loading the table of the House with Report upon Report they should have selected for a special display of their economy those particular Reports which were studied with so much interest and attention by the promoters of schools all over the country, and which had conduced so much to that great improvement which had taken place in our national education during the last ten years. Those Reports were of the highest value. The Inspectors themselves were a body of some forty or fifty men of the highest intellectual attainments, picked men from the universities, men who had already won their spurs in the fields of literature and science, and whose opinions were entitled to respect not merely on that account, but still more fur their practical knowledge of the subject of education, attained by visiting all the best schools in the country. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) asked, "Were they to be put in the place of the Committee of Council?" Most assuredly not. Still there could be no doubt that if upon any particular educational question the united opinion of the Inspectors was opposed to that of the Privy Council, the country would endorse the opinion of the Inspectors in preference to that of the Committee of Council. The House no doubt remembered how last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer had expatiated on the gradual increase of the educational grant, a grant which then amounted to more than £600,000, and would probably this year be larger still. Well, these reports of the Inspectors were the only means which Parliament had of ascertaining how the vast sums of money so granted for education were spent, and whether the nation had money's worth for the expenditure thus incurred. He would ask, therefore, if the House was prepared to allow this information to be previously passed through the mill of the office which distributed the money, and whether instead of having the evidence undiluted and unaltered, it would be content with passages picked out here and there, and dovetailed together by the Secretary to the Privy Council—a man of great ability, but who had not had the same opportunities of personally inspecting schools himself? Would the House be satisfied if that process were to be gone through with any other important question—our foreign relations for instance? He ventured moreover to say that if the new system were continued—if instead of feeling that they were working as it were under the eye of the public, with fair opportunities of obtaining credit and distinction—if their work was well done, the Inspectors were in future to be the mere drudges of the Privy Council Office with no reward for their labours but their pecuniary stipends, it would not be possible to obtain the same class of men to act as Inspectors, and so the country would he deprived of the advantage arising from having its system of education superintended by those who, from their abilities and acquirements, were most competent to perform that duty. This was evident from the able remonstrance which had been drawn up by Mr. Brookfield, and which had been signed by almost all the other Inspectors. He would not detain the House by dwelling at any length on the other subject comprised in the Motion of his right hon. Friend the Member for Hertford, he meant the detailed Report of individual schools, as the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Committee of Council had consented that those Reports should in future be printed as heretofore and sold at cost price. At the same time he must say, that the selling them at cost price would not, in his opinion, be nearly so useful as the gratuitous distribution which had been allowed heretofore. It was not merely the three or four shillings which the manager of a school would have to pay for the book, although, considering the difficulty which existed in many cases of supporting a school, every additional item of expense would be a hardship; but the having to write for the book, and to get a post-office order to pay for it, would be practically so many obstacles to that general circulation of these Reports, which, in his opinion, was most desirable for the progress of education.


said, he hoped that the Vice President of the Education Committee might be disposed to yield to the reasonable appeal which had been made to him. If he understood him correctly, the main difference between him and his right hon. Friend is in this, that the right hon. Gentleman proposed that the Reports of the Inspectors should assume the shape of a Report from the Committee of Council to Her Majesty, embodying under certain heads such passages in the general Reports of the Inspectors as the Committee might think useful for public information; whereas the right hon. Member for Hertford and those who agree with him are of opinion that the whole of the general Reports ought to be presented, either in the shape of an appendix to the Report of the Privy Council, or, as heretofore, as an independent body of Reports to be laid before Parliament. He was sure the sagacious mind of the Vice President must see that there was an important difference between selections made from Reports and the publication of the Reports themselves. With the best intentions different persons took different views of so wide and complicated a question as that of education, and those in the office of the Committee of Council who had the task of selecting passages from the Reports, while meaning to give the best and truest information to the public, might choose their extracts according to their particular opinions, and involuntarily omit passages which many Members of Parliament might deem of great importance. It was much better, therefore, that the Reports should be given in full, than that they should appear in the shape of selected extracts classed under different heads. But the Vice President had given a picture of the helplessness of the office to which he belonged that almost excited compassion. The Inspectors, it seemed, pour down upon the Committee of Council whole volumes upon moral philosophy, the history of races, the question of sensual enjoyments—surely a strange matter to enter into the education of the younger generation—and other subjects entirely unconnected with the duties of their office. The Committee, in the opinion of its Vice President, had no alternative but either to lay that huge mass of matter before Parliament, or to select such passages as they might deem it important for the House and the public to know. It appeared to him, however, that there was another course which might be pursued with advantage. The Committee of Council had the appointment of the Inspectors who were under their control, and might, if they pleased, require them to send in their Reports under separate heads, with such limitations and restrictions as they might choose to impose. If the Inspectors, instead of obeying their instructions, should persist in writing voluminous Reports upon a variety of subjects, why should the Committee not say to them, "Gentlemen, you are too good for us; you are above your work; you may set up as professors in some university, but you are no longer fit to be Inspectors of schools under our directions?" Surely every department conducted with proper vigour and decision should be able to control its own officers, and compel them to furnish the information required without adding to it matter unfit and unnecessary to be laid before Parliament. The reasoning of the Vice President certainly was not calculated to convince anybody that the arrangement he had adopted was either necessary or convenient; and he therefore hoped, as both sides of the House seemed to be agreed upon the other points, the right hon. Gentleman would either acquiesce in the Motion or give an assurance that he would revert to the old system of laying before Parliament the whole of the Reports, taking care, however, that the Inspectors did not wander beyond the limits prescribed to them by the Committee of Council.


said, he wished to say a few words upon the subject before the House, because to a certain extent he represented the department through which a pressure had been put, not only upon the Committee of Council, but upon all the other departments of the Government, to do what they could to diminish the great expense incurred in printing. That expense was really very considerable, amounting to something like £150,000 or £160,000 a year. Of course such an expenditure as that required the most careful control and supervision, in order to prevent its running into an abuse. With reference to the statement of the right hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Cowper), that the Government were attacking a useful branch of expenditure in this case, he might say that the same rule had been applied, as far as possible, to all departments of Government; that was to say, to restrict as much as possible unnecessary printing, and as far as possible gratuitous distribution. And with regard to gratuitous distribution, and to sales where sales could be commanded, he hoped that what had been done was satisfactory. The diminution of unnecessary printing was, of course, a matter of great delicacy to arrange. Everybody felt that it was of the utmost importance that the ungarbled views of the Inspectors should be laid before Parliament. It was, however, one thing to say that that should be done, but it was another thing to give those Gentlemen a roving commission to go about the country and write and print voluminous essays upon all sorts of subjects. If, however, a gentleman of reputation, with the taste and education of these Inspectors, were requested to write a Report generally upon the state of education in his district, he would, no doubt, feel himself bound to write something that was worth reading, and be apt to diverge into questions with respect to which information was not required. His right hon. Friend did not propose to digest the Reports of the Inspectors, but to give those gentlemen such instructions as would induce them to digest their own Reports as they sent them in, and confine those Reports to such matters as it might be desirable to lay before the House and the public. If that were the object of the right hon. Member for Hertford, then the difference between the two sides of the House resolved itself into nothing. His right hon. Friend would find no difficulty in framing instructions that would bring the Reports within the narrowest possible compass, and at the same time furnish all the information that might be required.


said, he did not understand from the hon. Gentleman whether he meant to comply with the wish of his right hon. Friend. But whatever instructions the Committee of Council might think fit to give, some confidence should be reposed in the Inspectors. It would not do to throw a slur upon the Inspectors, as being utterly unfit to have any discretion. If they were told to bring their Reports not within the narrowest possible compass, but within a very moderate compass, and to re- port upon the subjects on which they were wished to report, and not on other subjects, then he thought all that his right hon. Friend desired would be granted. He was rather inclined to think that would be done, but he did not clearly understand. He did not think it desirable that a Resolution should be carried; but he hoped the wish of his right hon. Friend would, with restrictions, be granted.


said, he was clearly of opinion that, as a general rule, that when Inspectors were employed to make Reports those Reports should be published without alteration or omission. But it had been found in practice to lead to abuse, and a number of dissertations and treaties had been furnished to the office quite suitable for the Edinburgh or Quarterly Review, but not exactly of the businesslike character which might be expected in such documents. His right hon. Friend, who was responsible for the conduct of the office, thought it expedient to take some steps in order, not only that the information should be furnished in a more condensed style, but also that economical considerations, though apparently of no great importance to some hon. Gentlemen, might not be entirely disregarded. He thought the Committee of Privy Council quite justified in wishing to accomplish that object, but he also thought the right hon. Gentleman who lately presided over that department right in asking the House whether they would sanction a system which placed on the table, instead of the full Reports, what might be considered, not garbled, but perfect representations of the opinions of the Inspectors. He thought all were agreed that, although it was convenient the Reports should be published in a complete state, it was also equally desirable that they should be confined as much as possible to relevant subjects. He thought that, without asking the House to come to a division, if there were a clear understanding that the Government would take the matter into their consideration, and endeavour to meet the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite, so far as to have the Reports of the Inspectors placed before them in a perfect state, but at the same time to prevent their appearing in a form which had attracted notice and disapprobation, all that was necessary would be obtained by the discussion. He was sure his right hon. Friend understood the feeling of the House, that it was desirable the Reports should be published in a complete form. At the same time, he thought it was the general opinion that some change should take place in the form of these lucubrations. The Inspectors had launched into subjects on which they need not have treated, and treated them with an amplitude which was undesirable. He had no doubt that after this discussion there would be a considerable improvement in the shape and materials of the Reports, and he therefore trusted the right hon. Gentleman would not press his Motion to a division.


said, that a suggestion had been thrown out that the Inspectors should be requested to digest their own Reports. Now he could conceive nothing more absurd than to request an Inspector to digest his own Report. He trusted that the Inspectors would be instructed to prepare these Reports in a practical and business-like manner, and that they would require no subsequent digestion either on their own part, or on the part of the Government, and that they would be presented without any expurgation.


said, he believed that what had been done with respect to the Minute was in exact conformity with the suggestion of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, and the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. Instructions had been given that the Reports were to be prepared under different heads, which were specified, and when sent in they were neither to be digested by the Inspectors nor abridged, nor altered. The only abridgment that would be made would arise from the Inspector deviating from his instructions and reporting on irrelevant matters. As there was no difference of intention on either side of the House, he would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cowper) the propriety of waiting until the Reports should be printed; and then, if he was not satisfied, the Government would be prepared to consider any suggestions which he, or any other hon. Member might think it desirable to offer.


said, that the practice of the Home Office, when Inspectors, as he knew they would do, branched into irrelevant matter, was to refer back the Report to the Inspector, pointing it out, and he had generally found that the Inspector at once expunged it. The Report of the Inspector, revised by himself, was then printed and presented to Parliament.


denied that Inspectors were guilty of the redundancy which had been attributed to them. He thought the Reports would be much more valuable if the Inspectors were allowed the same freedom as they had before the circular was issued. It was treating the Inspectors like children to lay down heads under which they were to make observations, and not to allow them to diverge in the least from a given line. He would submit that it was better to change the Inspectors if no confidence could be placed in them. He spoke, he believed, the unanimous feeling of all the Inspectors when he expressed a hope that the tabulated Reports would be distributed gratis among the schools, as heretofore, or at all events to the extent of so much as related to each district.


said, the difficulty with him was to know exactly what right hon. Gentlemen opposite meant. The right hon. the Vice President of the Council seemed to him to raise an entirely false issue. He seemed to think that the object of this Motion was to insist that everything which the Inspectors chose to write ought to be printed. No such thing. The question he raised was, whether the President of the Council was to be allowed to thrust himself between the Inspectors and the House of Commons, and to keep back the Reports of the Inspectors, but to give the House a mere digest of them. As he read the Minutes of Council upon this subject the Government proposed to use the Reports of all the Inspectors, and to make of them one annual statement. [Mr. ADDERLEY: Look at No. 8.] Well, he found that, according to No. 8 of the Minutes it was proposed to present, either in gremio, or in the appendix, the Reports of the Inspectors, at least in all essential points. That was the very thing he objected to that the Committee of Council should decide what points were essential and what were not. Such a system would be destructive of all confidence in the fidelity of the Reports, and it would disgust the Inspectors themselves, who, as men of education, could not be well pleased to find their Reports cut up by the scissors, and printed under different heads. What he wanted was to see the whole mind of the Inspectors in dealing with their districts during the past year. If the right hon. Gentleman intended to adhere to his circular he must press his Motion, because he thought the doctrines laid down in that circular were opposed to right views in the case. But if the right hon. Gentleman would agree that when the Reports were prepared according to instructions, not otherwise—and remember one of those instructions was that no Report should exceed 20 pages—then they should be printed, he would be satisfied.


said, he understood the Government had agreed that these reports should be printed in extenso; but reserving to the Government the power in certain cases of cutting out extraneous and irrelevant matter. The statements made with regard to the tabulated Reports was to his mind much more important. But even on this point the difference was so minute between the Government proposal of selling those printed reports at cost price and sending them gratis to certain parties, that he thought it was hardly a subject for dispute. With regard to what had been said by the hon. Baronet the Member for Bath (Sir A. Elton) he had not heard one word drop from the Government which could be construed into a slur upon the Inspectors. He had the honour of knowing one or two of those gentlemen, who were most intelligent men, and if he had heard a slur thrown upon them he would have joined the hon. Baronet in resenting it. He certainly understood that Government intended to print the Reports of the Inspectors, though in this department, as in every other, they claimed the right to exercise a control.


said, a few years ago he sat on a Committee on the printing of the House, when it certainly appeared to him that a great deal of money was unnecessarily spent on that head—especially in printing long Reports. He thought, therefore, the thanks of the House were due to the Government for thus endeavouring to save the public money. At the same time, he certainly agreed with the right hon. Member for Hertford, in thinking that the House ought to have the Reports of the Inspectors themselves, and not merely digests of them, and wherever the Reports contained irrelevant matter, he would suggest that the Government officials should run their pen through it and send it back to the Inspectors for alteration, so that it might be presented to the House as the Report of the Inspector, not of the Government. As the matter stood at present, therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman pressed his Motion to a division he must go with the Government.


said, the expense in this case hardly deserved the consideration of the House. They were now spending £600,000 a year in the work of education; £40,000 was spent in the system of inspection, and £2,000 was all that was spent in making the results of this machinery perfect.


said, there seemed to be some doubt as to the extent of the alterations proposed by the Government. He confessed that, if their object was to simply prune the excrescences of the Reports of the Inspectors, he should be much inclined to agree with them; but there was a well-grounded fear among the Inspectors themselves that something more was intended. Nothing could be more opposed to the feelings of the people of England on the subject of education than one Report made up from the Reports of all the Inspectors. Indeed, it was not possible—and if it were, it would be most unadvisable—to give a systematic summary of their Reports. Those gentlemen themselves represented different religious denominations, and their opinions were adapted to the opinions of the different religious bodies; so that, if their Reports were to be of any use at all, they ought to be presented separately. He hoped the Government would agree to the Motion of the right hon. Member for Hertford.


said, he really thought the House was about to divide on an issue which had no existence. His object was exactly what the noble Lords the Member for London and the Member for Tiverton had insisted on; and taking the words of the right hon. Gentleman's Motion as they and the right hon. Member for Ashton had explained them he would have no difficulty in voting for it. The Reports of the Inspectors would be prepared henceforth in accordance with instructions, in which all the information they had to communicate was to be divided into six heads—number of schools inspected—management—finance—premises—scholars—efficiency of masters—methods of instructions, and suggestions either as to abuses that ought to be corrected, or improvements that might be made. If there was anything in the Report which did not fall under one or other of those heads, he would send it back to the inspector for excision. Nobody on the part of the Government had ever conceived such an absurdity as a digest into one Report of the various Reports of Wesleyan, Dissenting, Roman Catholic, and Church of England and of Scotland inspectors. Nobody had ever proposed, nor did he conceive that any one would ever undertake, to make such a digest. He understood that what he meant to do was exactly what the noble Lord proposed.


said, he wished to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman desired to assume the power of altering or abridging the Reports of the Inspectors? [Mr. ADDERLEY: No.] Would he then give the Reports as they were written, or in disjointed fragments?


We shall give each Report as far as it comes under the six heads, prescribed with the names of the Inspectors attached to each, and each Report so limited will be given in the ipsissimis verbis of the inspectors.


Sir, I rise to ask a question. Is it intended that the Report made by the Government shall begin under one head, and give a portion of the Report of each of the Inspectors relating to that head, so that we shall have the Report of each Inspector in disjointed fragments; or do the Government propose, what I think is the far preferable mode, that the Report of each Inspector shall be given whole under different heads, that the others shall follow in order, each repeating his own division of heads, so that the continuity of each Inspector's Report shall not be broken?


The last statement of the noble Lord is exactly what we intend, and, in fact, are now doing.


Then I do not divide.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.