Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [25th March],
That this House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee to consider the best mode of distributing the Parliamentary Grants for Education now administered by the Privy Council.
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
The question under discussion is one of national importance, because it relates to national education. A question of national education, however, is fortunately one in dealing with which men holding different opinions may meet on common ground; inasmuch as it is the province of the true statesman, to whatever political party he may belong, to teach the humblest of his fellow-countrymen his duty towards himself, as well as that which he owes to his neighbour, his Sovereign, and his God, and therefore he is bound to promote whatever in his opinion might be the best system of education The present great system of national education has existed for some time in this country, fostered by the liberality of Parliament. The advantages which that system confers are now called in question. The good which it has done is in a measure denied. We are asked to reconsider the course which we have pursued with respect to it—it may be, to retrace our steps. To enable us to do so, Her Majesty's Ministers have laid on the table a new scheme of education, slowly elaborated, and suddenly propounded: they have revised that scheme, with the view to make it more perfect, and then intrusted to a skilful and eloquent advocate the task of recommending it to the House. That advocate—the Vice President of the Committee of Council—has told us, that whereas our system of education has been heretofore experimental, it is now to become permanent: that whereas it was temporary, it is now to be made final. He has told us on behalf of the Government, which he is so well able 138 to represent, that he deemed it to be his duty to take a comprehensive view of the whole of this great subject, and, to use his own words, "to recommend to the notice of Parliament a scheme of education on which he and his colleagues were prepared to take their stand." That manly avowal was in exact conformity with the course which the right hon. Gentleman had previously pursued; because, as the House will perhaps recollect, the Revised Code, when it was first published, appeared from its language to be intended as a settlement of this question. On the 12th of August last, papers were issued, explaining to the managers and officials connected with the schools the scope and purposes of the new Code. "My Lords" informed the public that they had come to the resolution to carry into effect its provisions. They told the public, through the right hon. Gentleman, that apprentices would henceforth be taken only on the terms which the Code laid down; while, with respect to the all-important subject of money, they stated to the officials under them and the public, that "My Lords" had considered carefully the objections which were made to the system of giving large sums in a lump to fluctuating and irresponsible managers; that they had determined to overrule all objections, to establish their plan, and to maintain it until convinced by long experience that it was erroneous. The Government, I think, have thus fairly put the House in possession of their scheme, and we have ample means afforded us for the purpose of considering the magnitude, the importance, and the wisdom of the plan they have proposed.
That being so, let me ask under whose management has this business of education been heretofore conducted? It has, I believe, been committed to the hands of able, competent, and energetic men, who failed to discover those great abuses which the right hon. Gentleman tells us prevail in the department over which ho presides, or who, if they did discover those abuses, lacked the courage with which he is gifted to proclaim their existence to this House and to the country. Under what auspices, let me ask. Has the great system which it is now sought to disturb, sprung up? It owes its origin, we are informed, to a happy union between the Government and many of the best men in the kingdom—the Government not interfering with necessary freedom of action or opinion, but encouraging and stimulating the exertions of be- 139 nevolent individuals. Now, if it would not alarm hon. Members, I would wish to make a supposition. Let me suppose that the old Code and the Revised and the Revision of the Revised Code were burnt—that no Copy of these valuable or invaluable documents remained on the face of the earth, and that, while we were awaiting the arrival of some modern Justinian who instead of perplexity should give us clearness, instead of doubt certainty, instead of injustice equity, we put the question to each Other assembled round this table, "What does common sense suggest in a matter of this kind—what ought we, as interested in the welfare of a Christian country, to resolve upon in the absence of those documents?" In supplying an answer to that question, I do not seek to justify the old Code, or the Revised or the Re-revised Code. I am content on that point to set one against another the able men who have Written pamphlets and made speeches on this subject. I am satisfied with setting a Shuttleworth against a Foster, and a statistical Chadwick against a visionary Vice President. Having thus cleared the ground, I may venture to reply to the question which I have put; and that I may the better do so I would ask whether there is no precedent in this matter of education worthy of being followed by a Christian nation—whether there is no principle by which We might be guided in the line of conduct which, under the circumstances I have supposed, we ought to pursue? A brilliant light which once shone on those benches has been extinguished. Lord Macaulay is no more, but he has left behind him a History of England, and in the course of that History he found it necessary to consider and explain the causes of the greatness of the kingdom of Scotland. In doing so he does not speak of the genius of her poets or the chivalry of her Warriors. He makes no mention of the high courage which never deserted her sons when danger was to be faced or honour won. No; but he records it as his opinion that the greatness of that country is to be ascribed to the system of national education which, in the Scotch phrase, was about 1690 statuted or enacted in a Very short Act of Parliament in a very short Session. By that law, he says, it was provided that in every parish there should be established, at the expense of the people, a competent master and a commodious school-house. He says that at first the value of that great enactment was not 140 felt; but that before one generation had passed away it was found that the humble Scotchman was superior—at least, in the author's opinion—to any man of the same class to be discovered in Europe. He states, that whether in India or in America, in trade or in war, the training he had received in the parish school established his superiority. He does not say, "reading, writing, and arithmetic," but "the training" he had received in the parish school. If he was hired as a porter in a warehouse, he speedily became foreman; if he enlisted in the army, he quickly became a sergeant. Then, rising from the state of men of that condition, the distinguished historian asserts, that owing to the system of education established in Scotland, a sterile country became a fruitful land; that in letters, in arts, in commerce, in agriculture—in everything that constitutes civilization—the parochial system of Scotland enabled that country to roach a pitch of prosperity which in ancient times had never been seen, and in modern times has scarcely ever been surpassed. Such is the account given by the historian—and I believe truly—of Scotland. The Vice President of the Education Committee has, of course, a minute acquaintance with Scotland, with England, and with the world, and being of a benevolent disposition, he naturally, when he framed his Revised Code, included Scotland within the scope of his measure. I rather startled the Lord Advocate the other night from his ordinary composure by putting the question—I knew very well how the matter stood, but still I asked him—whether or not morality and religion were the basis of education in Scotland—of that education which is provided at the expense of the State. He answered me at one o'clock in the morning, with more liveliness and vigour than I ever remember to have been displayed by my learned Friend, that he was surprised at my putting such a question, for I ought to have known that no system would be tolerated in Scotland which was designed merely to teach the elements of knowledge, but that it must rest upon and have for its primary object the instruction of the youth of Scotland in morality and religion. Such was the reply of the Lord Advocate. When the Vice President announced his intention to include Scotland in a measure which, according to his representation of it, is eminently favourable to the inculcation of morality and religion, all Scotland took the alarm. 141 The Scotchmen of the present day seem to me to be pretty much made of the same stuff as they were when they drew the broad claymore and struck for Charlie I have got two specimens of their views on this subject which I received to day, and for which I feel greatly indebted to the gentleman who furnished me with them. In these documents or pamphlets—one emanating from the Established Church and the other from the Free Church-—they pronounce upon the Vice President such a condemnation of the impracticability of his plan of attack upon their own parochial system, of the absurdity of the new Code, and of the insult offered to the Scottish nation, that I do not wonder the right hon. Gentleman was frightened in a moment out of his benevolent intention to inflict his scheme upon Scotland, and forthwith produced that revision of the Revised Code from which Scotland is omitted. I have here a passage from his speech explaining that omission. He says he has just discovered that there has been for two centuries a system of national education in Scotland, He found that out from the Lord Advocate, and he says the learned Lord had informed him that he had a measure in contemplation which would smooth down the asperity of the Scotch representatives on the eve of a Parliamentary division, enabling them to give their votes with impartiality, judgment, and serenity of mind. The Lord Advocate, no doubt, told the Vice President that it would not do to push his scheme upon Scotland; that he might make experiments in legislation upon England, but he must not meddle with Scotland, for he had received, I have no doubt, the valuable documents which have been sent to me, and which contain resolutions condemnatory of the whole Revised Code, calling upon the Scotch People to unite against the Vice President, and warning the Lord Advocate of what he might expect if he were not prompt in his measures. Accordingly, as the result of that sincere conviction which sometimes reaches the official mind, the Revision of the Revised Code was published, and the Lord Advocate gave notice of a separate scheme for Scotland. Is the Scotch Bill drawn? Has it been seen by the eyes of the Vice President? The Lord Advocate gave notice of it, made a speech explanatory of its provisions, and stated that it is not to interfere with the parochial system of Scotland, sacred in the eyes of all true 142 Scotchmen; but from that hour to the present we have never seen the measure, which, for aught I know, may not exist even in manuscript, and which very probably has yet to be composed by the combined talents of the Lord Advocate and; the Vice President. I would ask the Scotch representatives whether, because they have saved their own country from the infliction of the Revised Code, it is fair or kindly in them to bestow upon England a blessing which Scotland would not have? I would appeal to them not to act in a provincial spirit in reference to this question; but, as they have rejected—wisely and manfully rejected.—the Revised Code for themselves, to give us through their votes the benefit of their conscientious judgment. I will refer to a precedent which I think ought to guide us. I do not believe that in the magnificent literature of the Church of England we have a greater divine than Bishop Butler. About 1740 he published a profound discourse upon the subject of education How does he reason the matter? Not certainly in the spirit of the Vice President. He states, as the result to which his thoughtful mind had come, that the principle of equality is more expressed in our whole civil and ecclesiastical system than in the Government of any other country in Europe, He says that each subject of the realm is born to freedom; and that, consequently, he may, if he errs, be more extravagant or reckless than if he had been born in a country where he would have been a slave of superstition or a slave of power. Therefore, he reasons, it is peculiarly incumbent upon the rich and great in England to bestow upon their humbler fellow countrymen a blessing which they required more than any other people of the world. What is that blessing? In what did his idea of education consist? In giving the people, as he says, "an inward principle" which will govern their actions und guide their conduct through life. I therefore submit to the judgment of the House that, if we had no Code of Education at all, the principle of the parochial system of Scotland might well be adopted in England. But since we cannot adopt the Scotch system, then, I say, the discourse of the profound Butler furnishes us with a principle which we might wisely carry out in our legislation.
In an assembly which rightly busies itself with results, the question is at once asked, and ought to be answered satis- 143 factorily—what are the results of the established system of education? Our expenditure has been large, you have been generous, but in my opinion you have been wise; you have been munificent in your grants, but in my opinion you have been sagacious. Still you have a right to ask, what are the results of the system? I mean results founded upon the principles to which I have already adverted—results consistent with, and naturally flowing from, a system of education which has for its highest and greatest object the promotion of the morality, the happiness, the training, the discipline, and the religion of the people. Of the ponderous Report which has been laid on our table the pith and marrow are to be found in those three pages which treat of the moral influence of the system of education established in England. In dealing with that subject the Commissioners, in order to give to the public all the confidence which the public ought to feel in their opinion, first furnish us with a sketch of the managers, whom they describe as among the most excellent and useful members of society in this country. They next say of the masters, and of the pupil-teachers taught by the masters, and heretofore apprenticed to them, that they have been selected for their moral character and their intellectual fitness for the work to which they have been and are to be devoted; and they add, speaking of the pupil-teachers, that they have received a better religious education than any other persons of the same class in England. Next they proceed to state the results of their teaching. We have heard a great deal about results since this debate began. They consider the results under a threefold aspect; first, as to the individual pupils; next as to the locality; and next as to the moral influence of the system in general. They say that the system you have so wisely established, and so liberally endowed, has converted the young persons educated by it into useful and happy members of society. There is on this point a. touch of feeling in the blue-book which is very rare. They say that among the successes of the system none are more remarkable than those in which the destitute and the orphan, comparatively the most helpless class of children, have been relieved and taught, and made useful members of society. They then proceed to state that in many places which they name in the appendix there have been found 144 disorderly characters, drunken women, persons inattentive to their duties in many relations of life; but that wherever a school has been established the effect on the locality is remarkable. The impressions made on the young are immediately communicated to the old; in a great degree drunkenness ceases, crime disappears; and these results the reports of policemen and others verify. Lastly, they say, to quote their own words in their summary of moral results—The religious and moral influence of the public schools appears to be very great—to be greater than even their intellectual influence; a set of good schools civlizes a whole neighbourhood. The most important function of the schools is that which they best perform.This we have from the Commissioners, who have been so much appealed to. The Commissioners deliberately put forward what is the most important function of these schools, and they report that their most important function is that which is best performed. Now, in speaking of results we must not forget a matter which has been brought to my attention since this discussion commenced, by a minister of the Church, who was fortunate enough to hear the debate. It relates to averages, and the point is one which might have escaped the attention of hon. Members. He said that girls are included in the average; and every parochial minister who has lived in the country knows, that in regard to young females, they are sometimes, from the necessities of a family, from sickness, the illness of a mother, detained from school for a month or six weeks at a time; and furthermore, he added, while attending school one-half of the girls' time is abstracted from studying reading, writing, and ciphering, and devoted to the learning of sewing and other industrial occupations. Now, with respect to the female schools and the schoolmistresses, of whom nothing has been said, I find a judgment pronounced in three lines, with which I am much pleased. It is in the report of Mr. Brook-field. Speaking of results, he says—The moral rectitude by which they are characterized gives evidence of their being placed under an habitual influence incalculably more important than any intellectual qualifications, and entitles our schoolmistresses to be pronounced one of the most praiseworthy and valuable classes of the community.So much for the girls' schools and the mistresses by whom they are taught. Another circumstance in relation to this question of results has been brought for- 145 ward—I was going to say, since we last met; but I am not sure whether Mr. Martin's paper was not published before. He shows that the migratory habits of the poor make it impossible to apply the test of the right hon. Gentleman, and therefore we are driven, according to the statements and words of the right hon. Gentleman, to reject them altogether, I have been requested by the rector of a parish not far from where we are now sitting—the parish of St. Ann's, Soho, Westminster, to state that the migratory character of the children attending the London schools—and probably the same may be the case in other large towns—is such that no reliance can be placed on the numbers attending on any particular day of the year. According to the statistics of this parochial school, there are 420 children on the books, of whom 390 were fresh additions during the year; 415 left school in the same period, owing, in a great extent, to the migratory habits of their parents, moving about from one part of London to another, according to the necessities of their occupation, in search of work. How can it be possible to judge fairly of results under such circumstances in individual cases? Then he proceeds to say, what we are all aware of, that under the proposed system these schools must be destroyed. The right hon. Gentleman said he cannot help schools composed of migratory persons—for what reason he kept in his own mind; they are to receive no help at all. The rector furnished the account he had received from the master of the schools; which showed that from March, 1861, to March, 1862, the number of boys who had left was 122. Of this number 24 were of the first class, 23 of the second. Of the 24, 22 went to situations, and two to other schools; of the 23, 11 went to situations, and 12 to other schools. Of the entire 122, 56 had been to other schools, and 16 never had been at school before. The number admitted during the year was 113. Of this number there had been at no school before, 18; at one school, 33; at two schools, 44; at three schools, 14; at four schools, 4. In reference to the girls, the number who left during the year was 88; out of 14 of the first class 11 went to situations. The number admitted during the year was 91. In the infant school the number admitted during the year was 186, and the number that left 206. Now, Sir, with that statement of the migratory character of 146 the schools—and it is no use multiplying evidence to the same effect, because the subject was touched on by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W E. Forster) in his able and conclusive speech—the application of the right hon. Gentleman's test is a simple absurdity. He must not be offended, then, if those who understand this subject say that he does not understand it; he must not complain when they tell him that his system is impracticable as regards the great majority of the labouring poor of this kingdom, and when they appeal from the impracticable Vice President of the Education Committee to the reasoning and reasonable House of Commons. Mr. Martin has given us a number of cases of the very same class. We are told it is easy to make a speech, but to provide a remedy is not so easy. The right hon. Gentleman says it is easy to object, and I am going to object to his proposals. He says there is no remedy for migratory schools. But surely wherever children are they may be taught something; and if the children in those schools cannot learn anything more than "Thou shalt not steal," with all deference, that is quite as useful instruction as if without any moral principle they had been taught to read and write, for they might still nick your pocket as you go home, or rob the till. Well, then, these "Arabs of the streets," as they are called, leave one school and go perhaps to another. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded on the supposition that when a child left a school he ceased to attend school altogether; but if he had investigated the matter, he would have found that, in a vast number of cases, children went to one, two, or three schools in succession. But the right hon. Gentleman says he is distressed on account of the poor and miserably educated parts of this country to which the present system has failed to give assistance. We naturally turn to his proposition to discover what remedy is provided for this particular evil. Where subscriptions exist Government aid is to be applied; but where there is real destitution the right hon. Gentleman says "can do nothing for you but this—I will enable you to get a worse master than can now be found. I will give you an inferior master"—I do not know whether he called him a certificated or uncertificated master—"but he shall be as bad a description of master as you could desire." But they say, "We have no funds." He says, "I am sorry to hear it." "We have no school." His answer 147 is, "Why don't you build one? I can do nothing for you. When you have got a school and all the appliances of a school, when you have results, when you can read, write, and cipher, come to me; but until you can read, write, and cipher, I can do nothing in your behalf." Touching this matter of the inferior master, we are indebted to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) for a lively essay by Mr. Chadwick. That essay my lion, and learned Friend has kindly had printed, and from it I find that that very competent man differs in every respect—as might have been expected, he being a very clever and sensible man—from the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Education Board. There is nothing, however, upon which he differs so decidedly from the right hon. Gentleman as upon this project of employing inferior masters. His conviction, after long experience and investigation, is that the better the master the better is the school; that to have an inferior roaster, is bad economy, and, he adds—that which I am sure will make an impression on the tender heart of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—that the best expenditure of public money is that which is made for the promotion of public education. He quotes evidence to show that as the Inspector goes from school to school he perceives that the children in each of them bear a distinctive impress derived from the character of their master, whose idiosyncrasies, indeed, seem to be reflected in their minds, "as in so many fragments of a broken mirror."
If the Commissioners have given the testimony which I have described as to the results in morals, habits, discipline, and the general efficiency of the schools, we naturally pass on to ask ourselves, what have they recommended? That is a natural question. The Commissioners do not contradict themselves by suggesting the absurd scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. On the contrary, their proposals are consistent with the whole scope and tenour of their report. What they counsel Parliament to do is to apply the national funds to the promotion of the greater and higher purposes of education, and to securing the advantages now conferred by the existing machinery in regard to training, discipline, morality, and religion. Lastly, they recommend, in addition to the grant from the public purse for the above objects, that a prize fund should be raised from local resources through the medium of a county 148 rate, to be distributed in premiums for superior proficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic, by inspectors appointed by the ratepayers. But what has the right hon. Gentleman done? First he rejects all the reports of the Inspectors, and next he rejects, or rather—with all deference to him—perverts the specific recommendations of the Commissioners; for, whereas their main find chief recommendation is that the State grants should be continued to maintain the schools on the existing principle, because they have been found so beneficial to the whole country, he takes the least important and merely supplementary part of their proposal, and makes it the sole foundation of his entire scheme. In other words, the right hon. Gentleman discards everything that is recommended by the Commissioners equally with the Inspectors, everything that is earnestly called for by the clergy and the Christian people of every denomination. The House of Commons is asked to show its respect for the Commissioners by setting aside, or turning upside down, their Report; it is asked to put foremost the prize fund for superior proficiency in elementary knowledge, which the Commissioners put last, and to transfer the funds supplied by the State for a different and higher purpose to a purpose which the Commissioners did not recommend, and which, I am informed, they never would have recommended, should be paid for out of the national Exchequer.
And this brings me to another interesting point—namely, why this is done? In the chapter in which the Commissioners speak of the reports of the Inspectors they say the public may depend implicitly upon those reports as far as the discipline, moral teaching, and general efficiency of the schools are concerned; but that the Inspectors may have been misled as to the quantum of elementary instruction given. On that rather nice distinction as to how far the Inspectors are to be relied upon, and how far they are to be discredited, the whole of this question turns. Unless the Commissioners are right in drawing that distinction, there is not the shadow of a foundation for the right hon. Gentleman's project. I shall deal with this part of the subject as if I were addressing a judicial assembly, with minds perfectly open to conviction by argument. We have three different bodies before us; first, the Educational Committee of Privy Council, represented by its Vice President; next, the Education Commissioners; and then the 149 Inspectors. When the right hon. Gentleman comes to speak on this matter he Speaks as a critic; and the House will notice that there is a very great difference between a critic and a witness. The business of a critic is to display his genius and ability, perhaps to support his own theories and crotchets. The business of a witness is faithfully to describe what he has seen and observed. The tests we apply to every man, official or unofficial, making a statement are these: Has he had an opportunity of personally observing, or acquiring a competent knowledge of, the facts which he records; and has he the inclination or the morality to record the truth? If these qualifications are united in the same person, it is very rarely indeed that you accept one part of his testimony and reject the other. Now, that upon which the House is asked to legislate is the difference between the universal testimony of the Inspectors and the Report of the Commissioners, and the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman on that evidence and that Report. The right hon. Gentleman says he cannot reconcile the opinion of the Commissioners with the reports of the Inspectors as to the quantum of elementary instruction given, so contradictory are the two. The Educational Committee of the Privy Council have clearly had this discrepancy before them; and the House will naturally ask what they have done to test who has stated the truth, and who put forward inventions or fictions? The right hon. Gentleman told us that if the opinions of the Commissioners were contained in the reports of the Inspectors, the Educational Committee of the Privy Council would have struck off the list of schools in connection with the department three-fourths of all the schools throughout England. [No, no !"] I have the passage of the right hon. Gentleman's speech here; it is very remarkable. He says—Had it been reported to us by the Inspectors as it has been by the Commissioners, that in many schools three-fourths of the children were not instructed, we should have withdrawn the grant from those schools altogether.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
Three-fourths of the children. I give the right hon. Gentleman the benefit of the distinction. He only means to restore to ignorance three-fourths of the children, and to preserve three-fourths of the schools. But the point is this—having before him the reports of 150 the Inspectors and the criticisms of the Commissioners upon them, what does the right hon. Gentleman do? He adopts and gives credit to the Inspectors' reports, bestows the grant, and keeps the schools in connection with the Privy Council, and then turns round and calls on Parliament to legislate permanently and decisively on a ground in which he does not himself believe, and on which he shrank from advising the Privy Council to act. That seems to me to he clear. If he disbelieves the facts stated in the reports of the Inspectors, he should have struck these schools off from all connection with the Privy Council; but he maintains that connection, and pays the grant to these schools to secure the quantum of education. They report that there is that quantum, which is opposed to the Report of the Commissioners; and I wish to know from the right hon. Gentleman upon what principle a body of intelligent men are to be called upon to legislate decisively in favour of the criticism of the Commissioners, upon which the Privy Council have not ventured to act? So the mutter stands now Hut it does not rest there. The whole question turns upon this—the right hon. Gentleman wants not quality in education, but quantity. Now, have we a fair quantity? He says that only 25 per cent of the boys are educated well. Is that statement accurate? What is the percentage he allows for migratory children, which the best-informed authorities put at 40 per cent Is the House satisfied that only 25 per cent of the boys are properly taught? I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary that the statement of Mr. Norris is important. The Commissioners use his words; but he claims the right of every witness to explain his meaning, and I believe that what He meant was not what the Commissioners have stated. We find that it is a fallacy to suppose that he intended to convey to the public the impression that only 25 per cent were getting education in the schools, and that he rather meant to imply that 45 or 50 per cent was the true amount. I think, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman does not satisfy us upon the question of the quantum of education given in these schools, which is the ground upon which he calls upon us to change the system now existing. The only evidence as to quantity which we possess is the reports of the Inspectors, and notwithstanding the slur cast upon them by the right hon. Gentlemen, I think the House will be 151 slow to reject their testimony, unless the Commissioners or the right hon. Gentleman can show us decisive and unimpeachable facts to controvert them. But he has no facts; He has the opinion of the Commissioners, and no more. I wish to call attention to a document which I dare say has been seen by most Members. The schoolmasters have taken up their own case, and have appointed a committee to collect facts. The right hon. Gentleman says the schoolmasters do not like him, and probably he does not like them. The committee have endeavoured to test the value of the reports of the assistant commissioners, which have been used to overthrow the reports of the Inspectors as to the quantum of education. They have published the results of their examination, as far as they have had time to collect them, and we find in them the danger of lightly casting aside the testimony of competent and trustworthy men. After referring to the extraordinary discrepancy between the statements of the Commissioners and the Inspectors—the former putting the proportion of schools where the children were well taught in elementary knowledge at 25 per cent, while the Inspectors stated it at 80 or 90 per cent—the committee say that they sent out circulars to various schools, and from 220 returns they found that 87 schools were not visited at all by the assistant commissioners, and of those visited no less than 162 were never examined. The schoolmasters add that the examination of the assistant commissioners will bear no comparison with that of the Inspectors in respect of thoroughness and reliability; and secondly, that if the conclusions of the Commissioners be worth anything, they do not derive their value from the reports of the assistant commissioners. Now, as the characters of these gentlemen are at stake—if this document be genuine, as I believe it to be—I would like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman upon what grounds of facts—as contradistinguished from subtle criticism—he impeaches the reports of the Inspectors, denies the quantum of education which they state, and calls upon us to disbelieve it, with no evidence to disbelieve it, with no evidence to support his statement. But suppose he carries out the plan he now submits, who are to work it? The Inspectors? But the Inspectors, he says, are not to be trusted by Parliament or the country. If their reports under the old system were not reliable, will their reports under the new system be more trustworthy? If we yield to the crotchets of the right hon. 152 Gentleman, shall we find that we hare a greater hold upon the Inspectors when they are infallible and omnipotent upon the question of the quantum of education than now, when they are guided by certain rules and directions; and if we cannot depend upon their reports now, shall we be able to do so then? Mr. Fraser, who is a Scotchman, and therefore, as he says, more slow to come to a decision than most Englishmen, and more precise in his inquiries into matters of fact, takes up the question of the conduct of the Commissioners, sums up the evidence upon this point of the quantum of education, and he says that it must be clear to every impartial stranger that the weight of evidence is in favour of the Inspectors. The right hon. Gentleman has told us why he throws over the reports of the Inspectors, and he does it in this way—he says the Inspectors did not mean what they said. Thus the critic explains what the witness stated. When they say the pupils have been taught well, they meant that the masters were capable of teaching well, but the pupils learnt nothing. I remember to have heard the right hon. Gentleman say once that he was a tutor at Oxford University; we know that he is a ripe and good scholar. Supposing that a parent or guardian had called upon him to inquire after the progress of a pupil, and the right hon. Gentleman had said, Remarkably well j I have taught him Horace excellently; would the right hon. Gentleman have allowed the parent or guardian to go away satisfied that the pupil was making satisfactory progress, when the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman's words was only this—" I have taught him well, but he has learnt nothing"? Thus the right hon. Gentleman paraphrases the language and meaning of gentlemen of honour, ability, and education.
Then, again, how does he deal with the objection urged by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W.E. Forster) and others—" Why do you not act upon the Commissioners Reports—why do you not do what they recommend, instead of setting aside the Report altogether? The right hon. Gentleman anticipated that question, for he had told the House that his object was to increase, not the quality, but the quantity of the education—to have not better schools, but to make them work harder and to hold out an incentive to have the largest percentage of children properly taught. The meaning of the right hon. Gentleman, as I would put it, is this:—"What is the use of 153 stipulating that the Inspectors shall see that education and moral teaching are imparted when we know that, whatever the facts may be, these incorrigible men will give the money contrary to their duty? "After such an opinion of the Inspectors the House will judge whether, upon the right hon. Gentleman's own showing, it is desirable to adopt the new scheme on the ground that the Inspectors will carry out a new system better than they have carried out the old one.
There were four or five points in the right hon. Gentleman's speech of less consequence—one of these is the complication of accounts. But, surely of all absurd things, the most absurd is the notion of confounding the simplification of the accounts with the instruction of the children ! There is no objection to such a simplification; the public money ought, no doubt, to be economized; but is the right hon. Gentleman really serious when he tells the House to be on its guard "against an army of stipendiaries who may overawe the Parliament and the Crown." All I can say is, that if the stipendiaries should take hostile measures against the House, the House must call upon the volunteers for assistance. But I do not think that such an argument will make a very deep impression upon the House. The right hon. Gentleman seems to be quite happy in office. Is he really embarrassed by the difficulty of his position? I venture to say that so great is his sense of duty that ho would rather continue to serve his country in office than be driven from it by any such difficulty. Let him then, take counsel of the easy good natured Gentlemen who sit beside him on the Treasury Bench. They have no difficulty in accommodating themselves to circumstances. They move from war to peace from the Exchequer to the Admiralty, from the Admiralty to India, without apparently experiencing any trouble or difficulty. If he was embarrassed with difficulties, why did he not apply to them? They apparently understood all kinds of accounts. however various and dissimilar. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is such a master of figures, would soon systematize the right hon. Gentleman's accounts, and relieve him and the House from the difficulties engendered from having too many clerks—or too few, as the case might be. I do not object to economy. Let him, if he likes, reform by economizing the public money: all I say is, do not disturb and destroy the education 154 of the children of the country. Then there has been an interesting conflict between the right hon. Gentleman and Sir James Kay Shuttleworth. I am not going to defend Sir James Kay Shuttleworth; but, as that gentleman is an absent person, he ought to he quoted fairly, The right hon. Gentleman said that Sir James Kay Shuttleworth's theory was that a knowledge of morals and religion ought to precede instruction in other branches of knowledge; and then be said that that was a very absurd opinion; that the Privy Council had nothing to do with morals and religion; that schools established to teach morals and religion were not within his system, that those things must be taught by the missionaries and not by the State. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman ridiculed the notion of teaching morality and religion throughout his speech, and in dealing with the arguments of Sir James Kay Shuttleworth asserted that that gentleman "had invented a physical theory of stupidity," to show why it would be impossible for the childen to pass his examination. Whether that is a fair description of what Sir James Key Shuttleworth really said I will leave the House to determine. The passage to which the right hon. Gentleman referred is as follows:—National education does not depend simply on the school training of one generation; the first generation of children in schools inherit some physical incapacity; they have no help at home from their parents; they are, on the contrary, much hindered from the bad example of rude household management, and the incapacity of parents to understand school training. The influence of the school is not felt until the parents themselves have been trained and instructed, or civilized by other influences.Such is the passage to which the right hon. Gentleman referred when he said that those who argued that morals and some portion of religious teaching should precede reading, writing, and arithmetic, argued an absurdity. The right hon. Gentleman then went off to Diogenes, and his search for an honest man. Why, if Diogenes were to come now, and renew his search, he would soon know where to find an honest man at the Privy Council of Education. But why quote Diogenes, who, I think, was a man of very questionable practices and doubtful opinions? If the right hon. Gentleman chooses to transform himself into a modern cynic, he ought not to ask us to adopt his dogmas. All he can ask us to do is to stand out of his sunshine. The right hon. Gentleman has disposed of the school Inspectors; 155 but something remained behind—the masters and the clergy. It would not answer for the Vice President of the Council to leave undemolished each branch of the service with which he is connected, and therefore the masters are next dealt with. As to the alleged conceit of the masters, it all amounts to this—and has not the right hon. Gentleman known the same thing to have occurred in higher positions of life?—that when a man gets one place, he grumbles till he gets a better. Why, it is an Englishman's right to grumble, and that surely does not affect his moral character? The Commissioners in their Report alluded to this question thus—"Upon the whole, the charges brought against the masters are not sufficient to justify a censure upon the class;" and further say that the qualities of the masters ore good, and their intellectuality is of a high order. Now, I asked the House to consider what the right hon. Gentleman has done. He Bays that a party in the House is in favour of what he has chosen to name the "vested interests" of these masters. But that party—and I am one of them—are only in favour of seeing justice done to the masters, precisely as we wish to see justice done to the Inspectors. We have no unworthy object to carry in reference to the masters; but we think that the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, as his been proved already by preceding speakers, will operate most unjustly upon the masters, and will be utterly subversive of the pupil-teacher system. The right hon. Gentleman says that the masters have no favourable opinion of him, and he has himself shown that he has no favourable opinion of them, for he referred to them in his speech in the following terms—and I have never read a passage which gave me greater pain:—For some time past the masters have been in the receipt of large incomes; and considering what they are and the circumstances of their education, they have enjoyed a vast amount of prosperity. Some people might be disposed to think that the schoolmasters ought, therefore, to be very contented; but I will take the opportunity of reading a few lines from the report of one of the assistant commissioners.Now, the opinion of this gentleman is in itself of little consequence, but the manner in which it was quoted by the right hon. Gentleman makes it of the greatest consequence. The quotation runs thus—Masters of National Schools are generally dissatisfied; their salary is far beneath that which an equal amount of skill and labour would command elsewhere; their position in society is lower than it ought to be, which is the fault of the 156 clergy, who spoil the work by foolishly interfering. If it succeeds, they take the credit, and therefore the cleverest men leave their schools directly they can find a more genial employment.The right hon. Gentleman, having read this extract, proceeded in his speech to quote the happy condition of the British schoolmaster.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
I understand that perfectly, as the House will shortly find. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to describe the condition of the British schoolmaster, and continued his quotation thus—The British schoolmasters share the feelings of the National schoolmasters as to insufficient salaries, but fortunately they are free from priestly tyranny.Now it is evident that the right hon. Gentleman had two objects in view in this part of his speech. He says that what he quoted was a "summary of the evidence;" but, with great deference to the right hon. Gentleman, I must be allowed to say that it is not a summary of the evidence. That is a matter of fact. But I repeat that the right hon. Gentleman had two objects in quoting that passage—first, to insult the clergy; and, secondly, to cast an imputation upon the whole body of the masters connected with the Department to which he belongs, and upon whose fidelity, conduct, and morality, the whole system of national education depends. What is the meaning else of "priestly tyranny"? What did the right hon. Gentleman mean by quoting that expression? The "summary of evidence" in itself is of small consequence; but when an eminent person, sitting on the Ministerial benches, where, it is supposed, are to be found the best friends of the Church, in constructing an elaborate oration, fixes upon such a passage, culls it out from the whole summary of evidence, and gives it to the House for the purpose of showing how true is the whole idea that pervades his discourse, I will appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is regarded as a great friend of the Church—who admires the clergy, and who is admired by them—and I will ask the right hon. Gentleman to say whether he thinks it was wise or expedient to select the members of that Church, who, in the majority of instances, are the managers of these schools throughout the country, and hold them up to public contempt as persons capable of inflicting "priestly tyranny"?
§ MR. WHITESIDE
What, then, did the right hon. Gentleman mean? Probably he will explain when he again addresses the House. I repeat that in constructing his elaborate speech the right him. Gentleman designedly culled the only offensive passage in the evidence collected by Mr. Wilkinson, the assistant commissioner, to adorn his speech, and point it as a barbed arrow against the body he thought fit to censure. But, further. What is the fact with regard to this quotation? The right hon. Gentleman corrected me rightly when ho said he had not quoted from Mr. Wilkinson's "report." I had the curiosity to turn to the appendix to the Report of the Commissioners, and I was surprised to find that the passage was a condensation of answers of witnesses to a number of questions propounded to them. But Mr. Wilkinson in his report, not only disclaims the calumnious statement, but reports exactly the other way, and in a manner highly favourable to the clergy, the masters, and the existing establishment. The right him. Gentleman would have done well it' he had quoted from the report, instead of from a summary of evidence of an entirely opposite character, for the purpose of picking out from the evidence of a single witness a passage showing that the masters were a grumbling, dissatisfied, discontented set of men, who, so far from being of advantage to the country, were overpaid and treated too indulgently. There were twenty seven witnesses referred to by the Commissioner; of these twenty-six were members of the Church of England. The twenty-seventh witness was a Mr.R—: who he may be, I do not want more particularly to know; but he is described as "a schoolmaster in a poor neighbourhood in St. Paneras." The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) passed over the twenty-six witnesses entirely, and fixed upon this twenty seventh witness for the purpose of finding in his evidence the passage he quoted. This Mr. R.—says he is a dissenter. That is no reason why he should not be allowed to express his opinion whichever way it may be; but there is no reason why he should claim the right to speak for the general body of National schoolmasters; and I dispute the fairness of the right hon. Gentleman in picking out the quotation in order to announce to the English nation that the National schoolmasters are suffering from 158 "the foolish interference of the clergy," and that the British schoolmasters are subjected to "priestly tyranny." If the light hon. Gentleman will turn to the end of Mr. Wilkinson's report, he will see that he says—I have a high admiration for the ability, zeal, and high tone of feeling, prevailing among the general body of masters and mistresses with whom I have been brought into contact in the progress of this inquiry.The Commissioners Say, too, in their Report—It is sometimes alleged that they are conceited, that their behaviour to managers and persons connected with the school is not satisfactory, and that they are dissatisfied with their position. We have inquired into these assertions, and we do not think they are well founded. Cases of bad manners have appeared, but not enough to form a ground for any serious charge against the toasters as a class.Such is the acquittal of the whole body of the masters by the Commissioners. Mr.; Wilkinson, again, is of opinion that education has made rapid progress, from the poorest districts in the east to the richest districts in the west, and himself testifies to the universal admission of its necessity, and the equally prevalent feeling that religion should form an ingredient in it. Mr. Wilkinson also approves of the principle of the present Government system of ! promoting local individual exertion, and; recommends that the national grant should ! he largely increased. I therefore submit that the sentence pronounced by the right hon. Gentleman upon the musters and upon the clergy is entirely without justification, and also that it was as impolitic as it was unnecessary to quote such a passage—one which would have but small weight coming from "a poor schoolmaster of St. Pancras," but which comes with very different weight when it falls from the lips of a Gentleman of great eminence, a Member of the Government, to whom is committed, in deference to his talents and high position, the important duty of conducting the education of the country.
It has been said that the manner in which this scheme has been introduced is a matter of very small importance; but I am of opinion that the two last Resolutions which my right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole) has proposed are among the most important of any which he has framed. They raise a constitutional question of great importance, on which this House ought not to hesitate to give an opi- 159 nion. It may be in the recollection of the House that after the Report of the Commissioners had been laid on the table, and after the reports of the Inspectors had been received and examined, my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) asked the Vice President what course the Government intended to take in the matter. In reply to that question, on the 11th of July the right hon. Gentleman said—The question as to what system of education is to prevail will be regulated by the opinion of those whose hands maintain it.And further on he said—So long as it is the opinion of those who contribute to the maintenance of the schools that the present system is the right and the best one, so long will the present system continue.And yet a few days after—on the 12th of August-the paper announcing the new Code is published by the Privy Council; and now, after the important speeches of the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) and the hon. Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. B. Stanhope), both managers of schools, after the almost unanimous rejection of his proposals throughout England and the entirely unanimous rejection of them in Scotland, does be mean to say that this scheme is sanctioned by all those persons who carry on the work of education in the country? The statement is contradicted by the facts, and I hope the House will pause before they allow it to be carried into operation, considering the time, manner, and mode in which it has been introduced by the Government. I have heard of the Russian Government being arbitrary, of the Austrian Government being despotic; but what more despotic act could either Government have done than to announce its will, and say that they had determined that the matter should be done so and so, and that they would not be overruled by discussions that might arise upon the subject? Can a system carried out without the sanction of Parliament be binding on Parliament? It seems at first to have been decided to say nothing until the public money was about to be voted, except to make a declaration that no change to the system should be effected save in conformity with the opinions of those by whom the work of education is carried out. And, indeed, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to say, "Let us do this thing rightly, properly, and exactly in the spirit of the Constitution;" and he appeared to think that you ought to resist the Resolutions of my right hon. Friend. 160 But I have no doubt that when the House goes into Committee it will take care to confirm those Resolutions in such a manner as to coerce the Government to pay that respect to Parliament to which Parliament is entitled, and that no change will be tolerated by this House until it has first been fairly proposed and maturely considered. The right hon. Gentleman says that one great argument why you should overthrow the system is that it is expensive. I shall not enter into the question of expense, further than to say that I admit the cost is considerable, but you ought to rejoice that the results have been so valuable. I quite admit that half a million is a considerable sum; but the same argument, I would urge most respectfully upon the House, would apply if the Vote were a million and a half as will apply now. You neglected too long the education of the humbler classes. You have endowments for the middle classes and the rich; you have colleges and universities which hold out to the wealthy inducements to pursue knowledge and become distinguished in the noblest paths of intellect. All that you have done, but for a long series of years you did nothing for the education of the poor. The Scotch Parliament did something, and we see the results in the improved moral condition of the Scotch people. You have now begun the great work; and have you not been successful? Are you not satisfied in mind with the results, and are you not anxious to persevere in the good work that you have commenced? And observe, your whole course of legislation of late years has been on the side of mercy. Last year you repealed by wholesale statutes that imposed capital punishment. Nobody rejoiced more than I did. What would Romilly have said had he lived to see the day when you abolished the punishment of death in nine cases? And why are you so legislating? Because you are educating the people on the one hand, while you are legislating in a spirit of humanity on the other, and I have little doubt that your final success will be glorious. Why speak night after night of the cost of iron ships, of armaments, of your expensive wars that filled the world with widows and orphans? What is this small grant compared with the cost of those things—what is it compared with the wealth and the greatness of this nation? Is it not one of the best purposes to which the money could be put? Economize the system if you please 161 —but do not imperil the education of the humbler classes of your country. In former days this country indulged in the pride of conquest, in the splendour of victory. You are now more usefully employed; easier battles are to be fought, a victory is to be won over ignorance, misery, vice, and crime. I have no doubt you will be successful in the conflict, and the results will add to the peaceful glories of Victoria's reign.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
I cannot help suspecting from the tone of several passages in the able speech which has been made by the right hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat, that lie is rather inclined to dissent from the first position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole)—to dissent from it so far that he is disposed to infuse into this debate somewhat of a party spirit. Sir, I shall endeavour to steer clear of anything of the sort. I think that the discussion of all question, the solution of which is, of all others, so great a social problem, ought not to be dragged down to the narrow level of a party conflict. Now, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has given us his ideas of the difference between a critic and a witness; but I must say, after having attentively listened to every word of his speech, he has displayed in reviewing this question more of the ingenuity of the critic than the fairness of the judge. The right hon. Gentleman, leaving Ireland aside, has taken up for the occasion, as regards education especially, the question of justice to Scotland. But when he speaks of the profound principle which the great Butler inculcates, and however he may have read Lord Macaulay, the right hon. Gentleman does not appear to have paid very close attention to the evidence which was given last year before the Select Committee on the Relief of the Poor in Ireland as to the morals of Scot land; because if he had read the testimony of Mr. Briscoe, he would have found that the morals of the ladies of that country are not altogether of the most brilliant description, and that the Scottish system of education has not promoted that particular virtue of which he is so great an admirer. So much for the Scotch portion of the subject, which has been somewhat unwisely, I think, introduced into this subject.
Now, Sir, I cannot see why so much odium has been attempted to be thrown 162 upon the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education. I, for one, think that great credit is due to him for the moral courage and ability which he has displayed in grappling with the costly, cumbrous, and complicated details of this system, which by successive minutes and diverse Orders of Council, under different Ministries, has been made unintelligible to the many and a puzzle to the few. The right hon. Gentleman, in that speech which has been so severely criticised this evening, showed himself equal to the task which he has undertaken, He not only unravelled all the details of this complicated system, but laid them bare before us; and we are hero nut to catch at petty details, but to look at the workings of the whole machine. I am not at all surprised that the right hon. Gentleman has been met with violent controversy and loud outcries. It is in the natural course of things that whenever Government seeks to control and check a large public outlay, which by means of bounties and protection has been fostered into a purely artificial system, they should be met with a most vehement opposition from those who have been nurtured and kept by that system. And when we are told that those excellent men of all religious denominations—"hating each other for the love of God" in other things—all agree in opposing this Code, we know that, however Gentlemen may differ in doctrinal points, they will all unite in going to the public Exchequer for their support. Therefore, I am not at all surprised that the right hon. Gentleman has been met with such vehement opposition from all classes of the clergy. There is a remarkable unanimity of opinion displayed that those grants should go on unchecked I and uncontrolled. I must say, when those clergymen do agree their unanimity is wonderful. All reforms must necessarily cause individual hardship; but it is not for Parliament to consider that, but how far this Revised Code may be advantageous to the public in general. Let us look at it in that light, and discuss it without throwing taunts on the right hon. Gentleman—taunts which I think were unworthy of the high position of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. Let us discuss the question, not as a matter personal to the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, but as to whether it may be advantageous or otherwise to the country.
163 Now, divested of all tedious and difficult technicalities, I think the question is in itself a very simple one. Here we have a scheme which has been above twenty-two years in being—a scheme which always, until to night, has been admitted to be provisional and experimental. That is of some importance for the House to consider. Well, what has been the cost of this scheme during those twenty-two years? I find it has been £ 4,500,000. Having commenced in the year 1839 with a draught for £ 32,000, it has slowly, unchecked by Parliament, mounted up now, in 1862, to £ 825,000. Hitherto we have been content to look upon this system as a mere experiment. Let the House always bear that in mind. Now, what is the wisdom brought forward before the Royal Commission as to the ultimate consolidation of this expenditure? We have the evidence of one rev. gentleman who knows as much of this system as any man, and he stated before the Commissioners, that if the existing scheme were carried out to its full extent, it would cost £ 5,000,000. This is the evidence of Dr. Temple. The most sanguine supporters of the system admit that it cannot be worked to its full extent for less than £ 2,100,000. This is an enormous sum. And is Parliament to go on sanctioning these costly grants, made and spent without sufficient inquiry, and exercise no check or control over this wasteful system? What were the circumstances under which this Royal Commission was appointed? It was appointed at the instigation of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), to whose exertions in the cause of Education I render my sincere tribute of respect. The Commissioners sat, I believe, for two years and a half. Their labour was very great; and what has been their report? I do not think sufficient stress has been laid on what the Commissioners say; it has been rather too much assumed that their Report is favourable to the system. I will endeavour to prove that their report is condemnatory of the whole system as it at present exists. The Commissioners, after commending the system of pupil-teachers and trained masters as superior to untrained teachers, add, They are in every respect but one positively good." But what is that respect? It is this, "that the junior classes, comprehending the majority of children, do not learn, or learn imperfectly, the most necessary part of what they come to learn—I reading, writing, and arithmetic !" This, 164 in my opinion, gives up the whole case. In the name of common sense, what are children sent to school for but to acquire the rudiments of education—to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic? The right hon. Gentleman talks of discipline. Is not learning to read and write in itself a moral discipline, and discipline of the most wholesome kind? There are hon. Gentlemen in this House and noble Lords in another place who seem to think with Dogberry, that "to read and write comes by nature," and that it is not necessary to take any pains about it. They say we should look mainly at moral results. But how can you possibly attain much moral result if reading, writing, and arithmetic, the three first elements of education, are neglected? Now, what have we done under this system, that may cost us between four and five millions? We have created a central office, so unwieldy that it has broken down, as I will presently show. I will quote nothing from anonymous pamphlets; I shall not even mention Mr. Chad-wick's; I attempted to read it, but, like the great central office itself, I broke down. I will only quote from the Report of the Commissioners, to show that we have created an army of schoolmasters, teachers, and inspectors—an enormous stipendiary army, all looking to the State for assistance, and some of whom are ready to threaten the Executive if the grants are not continued in their present shape. But is the House of Commons prepared to allow this army of teachers to play the tyrant? Have we not had something like a political blunderbuss presented at our heads, with threats, that if we do not vote these grants, we shall be turned out at the next election? Has representative Government come to this? It seems nearly to have come to this; and in consequence of the mistake of making these costly grants, by which we have created an army of stipendiaries. Now, though I am not prepared to say I entirely approve this Revised Code, I do agree with the right hon. Gentleman that a revision of the present system is most necessary. The revision is a step in the right direction. The fault I find with the revision is that it does not go far enough. The right hon. Gentleman merely sets up a finger-post to point out the way the House of Commons ought to go. I accept his direction, but I think the Revised Code falls far short of the occasion. We have heard a great deal to-night—more to-night than in the former debate—of the religious view of this ques- 165 tion. The religious element has been more largely introduced. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) is particularly the representative of the clergy; he says my right hon. Friend (Mr. Lowe) is not the friend of the clergy. But I utterly deny the success of this scheme of education as a system of religious teaching. I am prepared to show that it has as much failed in religious teaching as in teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. What is the opinion of Dr. Hook (the Dean of Chichester) on this subject? He says it is a mockery to tell the people that this system of education teaches the children religion, because they are permitted to dog's ear their Bibles in school. And what is the evidence as to the efficacy of the system on this point of another rev. gentleman, whose testimony is entitled to great respect? Mr. Brookfield says he in 1859 examined 1,344 children in the first classes of 53 schools, containing 6,890 scholars. One question he put to them all was this—"What do you mean by 'the state of life into which it shall please God to call you'?" He says, of the whole 1,344 children, only 142 were able to answer this question from the Catechism, and he reports accordingly. The evidence shows that the religious teaching is something merely learned by rote. What is Mr. Fraser's testimony, and Mr. Forster's? It is that religious principles are taught only by rote and most defectively. Mr. Jellinger Symons says—In Scripture I find nothing commoner than a knowledge of such facts as the weight of Goliath's spear, the length of Noah's ark, or the dimensions of Solomon's Temple, by children who cannot ex plain the Atonement, the Sacraments, or the Parables with moderate intelligence, or tell the practical teaching of the Saviour's life.And in the Report of the Royal Commissioners they themselves say—The religious instruction of the children is unintelligent, and, to a great degree, confined to exercises of merely verbal memory.It is a vain attempt to make this a religious question; it is not a religious question. It is really a breeches-pocket question, and whether the country is to continue to pay, and the managers and schoolmasters to receive. And let us look a little at this point. All have agreed that something must be done, with one remarkable exception. The right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole) says that something must be done. [Mr. WALPOLE: I am not going to propose anything.] 166 Well, he made an able speech, in a spirit becoming the subject; but he ended by moving a series of negative Resolutions; and finally he tells us, in a stage whisper, that he will propose nothing. Is the House satisfied with that? There is only one hon. Gentleman who has spoken on this subject who says nothing ought to be done—the hon. Member for Hertfordshire. [Mr. PULLER: I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I did not say that nothing ought to be done.] At any rate, the hon. Gentleman gave us no inkling of a scheme. He condemned the new scheme, root and branch; he said it was an immoral act; and I am surprised to see him now in conversation with the author of that immoral act. It has been asked where are the petitions in favour of the scheme, and great ridicule was thrown on my right hon. Friend when he presented a petition from one solitary I schoolmaster in favour of the Revised Code. All of us have witnessed the proceedings in regard to petitions, and we all know that this is a great manufacturing country, and it is possible to manufacture any number of petitions if you have a good organization. We have heard something in the course of this debate of a very excellent man, the Rev. Mr. Scott. I do not often read sermons, but I have read one of I his to the working classes, and I never read a better one in my life. Mr. Scott has taken a prominent part among his; Wesleyan brethren in the education of the people. But Mr. Scott is not quite insensible to the way petitions are manufactured, and here is an extract from a: letter of Mr. Scott, in which he details; the plan by which Members are to be ! be be worked. It is addressed to the ministers of that most excellent persuasion, the Wesleyan—and we know how they ramify throughout the country—and is dated from ! Westminster, March 12. The Wesleyans: have received £ 300,000 for their schools, ! and, naturally, have a great interest in receiving £ 300,000 more. "All legitimate influences," says Mr. Scott, "should be used with our representatives in Parliament." This is very curious. "Few of them understand the subject of the Revised Code so well as to have any opinion of their own." I do not know whether this is Parliamentary language. "They are, therefore, the more likely to act for their constituents if they plainly and strongly express to their Members their convictions." We know what that means. It means an opposition "looming in the 167 future." "Will you carefully see that a petition is immediately forwarded from the managers of every school in your circuit?" That is the way petitions are manufactured. It is asked, why are there no petitions for the Revised Code? Who is to petition, I ask, for the poor? Any man who attempts to make a reform, or to throw himself in the gap to do an unpopular thing cannot command an organization. Nothing is so unpopular as to stop money which has been going on for years—nothing; and I say, instead of taunting the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe), the right hon. Gentleman is one of the hest friends which this country has had, not only in showing upon merely economical, but upon higher grounds, that the Government ought to see that proper education is given, and that the country has some return for the money which is so lavishly expended. It is said that there are no such things as vested interests. In the teeth of all these schoolmasters meeting together and holding pocket-pistols—moral pocket-pistols—to our heads in the lobby, we are told they are not the representatives of vested interests; and the hon. Member for Hertfordshire went so far the other night as to say that the faith of the country was pledged to the certificated teachers. The hon. Gentleman's doctrine seems to be that all these sums which the House has so lavishly granted are given not so much primarily for the education of the poor, as for the benefit of this army of schoolmasters, who are first to receive their education at the public expense, and then turn round and threaten the Government and Members in general unless the grants from the public purse are continued. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Puller), with his Chancery experience, should have said, in the teeth of the Report of the Commissioners, that the faith of the country was pledged to the certificated teachers. What do the Commissioners say? [Mr. PULLER: Hear, hear.] Would the hon. Gentleman like to hear?It may be said that the State has excited expectations in the minds of the teachers by the system of augmentation grants, which give them a moral right to their continuance. We do not think this really to be the case. The fact that under the present system the sums are voted annually, and not by a permanent charge upon the Consolidated Fund, shows that the State is not pledged to its permanence. Indeed, it is notorious that it has grown up by degrees, and that ever since its origin the propriety of replacing or altering it has been under discussion.I cannot understand how, after such a 168 statement by the Commissioners, a gentleman with a luminous mind like the hon. Member can reconcile his Chancery experience and his knowledge as a lawyer with the assertion that the faith of the country is pledged to a continuation of the grant for certificated teachers. My hon. Friend—if he will permit me to call him so, and every one who heard his speech must wish to call him his Friend—my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) made one of the most powerful speeches which have been made upon this subject, displaying great reasoning powers, and discussing the principles in such a way that I confess I felt disinclined to rise immediately after him. At the end of his speech my hon. Friend, carried away, no doubt, by his enthusiasm in the cause of education, termed this a pedantic and bureaucratic scheme. I think that at any rate the scheme does not deserve to be called bureaucratic; because if it does any one thing more than another, it decentralizes and cuts away the patronage of bureaucratic administration. One of its great recommendations, to my mind, is that it simplifies administration. What business has the Government, I ask, to interfere or meddle with education? It was not originally contemplated that they should do so. It was never contemplated that this office of the Privy Council should interfere and meddle with education. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole) very artfully endeavoured to enlist the sympathies of the old Whigs—the Gentlemen who sit on the back bench and who go to sleep at eleven o'clock. The old Whigs are fast fading away from recollection, but the right hon. Gentleman endeavoured very artfully to enlist them against the innovations of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) by insinuating that this was the scheme of Lord Lansdowne and of the late noble Lord who has gone to another and a happier place—Lord John Russell. He said they had initiated this scheme. This is more material for the old Whigs than for the rest of the House. But I deny that they ever contemplated a continuance of the scheme under the Board of the Committee of Council on Education. What said Lord Lansdowne in July, 1839?—A permanent settlement [of education] was at present quite out of the question; the arrangement contemplated was of a temporary nature, liable to be modified at pleasure, and revised at any moment, or enlarged if found to work well for the country.169 Lord John Russell said—Those who in 1839 commenced the system did not intend its plan should be such as to pervade the whole country.What has grown up under this system? Why, we have an office the magnitude of which is so great that the staff exceeds the; entire staff of the Secretary of State for the Home Department; and, in spite of this enormous staff, it is at the present moment unequal to the duties which have been thrown upon it. We have some extraordinary evidence on this point. There is the evidence of a gentleman probably better able to give evidence on this particular point than my man in the country Mr Lingen, the Secretary of the Education Committee for fourteen years, who has seen the Votes grow from thousands to hundreds of thousands, and who knows intimately the working of the system. What does Mr. Lingen say?—It you follow out the present system it will break down at its centre, without a much larger establishment than either Parliament or the country would be willing to grant.He is asked by Mr. Lake, one of the Commissioners—Do you think it would be possible or desirable materially to reduce the existing amount of Government assistance?He says—My own opinion is, that if the whole were withdrawn to-morrow, things would not fall back to what they were before by a very great deal.What is the evidence of another gentleman, who has retired in consequence of ill health (Mr. Chester), and who was in the Committee of Privy Council on Education from 1839, and lately Assistant Secretary? He is of opinion—and I wish the House were generally of opinion—that—The Committee of Privy Council is so overwhelmed with details it has not time to direct its attention to general measures. The system of placing the education of the country under the control of a department of the political Government appears vicious in the extreme.These are the opinions of Mr. Lingen and Mr. Chester, two gentlemen who have worked in this office and who know its working thoroughly. They are of opinion that we have created an office which is totally unequal to grapple with the mass of details thrown upon it by Minutes and Votes of this House. It is a very material thing for the House to consider how far the Revised Code deals with this state of things. I think it deals with it in a most sensible manner. It is the best thing it does. No one will question that to simplify the business the great thing is to 170 reduce all these various grants to one payment. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman has reduced them to one capitation payment, which is the great virtue of the Code, leaving the managers to appropriate the money, and taking away from the masters and pupil-teachers the idea that they are stipendiaries of the State. For my own part, I look with much suspicion, and not a little horror, on the creation of a host of State-paid men, whose claims may reach no one can tell how far. They have threatened Parliament—take care they do not go even beyond that.
And, now let me ask, how far is this really a system of national and popular education? I find that the assisted schools number 8,697, while of unassisted schools, which receive no Government pay, there are 15,925, or about twice as many. How, under such circumstances, can you say that you have a truly national system of education? It never reaches the social depths. It educates those who ought to educate themselves, but it leaves untouched the very class you wish to get at. Take the county in which I have the honour to represent a borough. In Cornwall there are 71 parishes with a population under 600, and I believe out of that number there is only one school which receives a Government grant, and that is in Liskeard. Of course that borough is very unwilling to part with the grant; but I have a sense of public duty, and I feel, that although I have presented a petition against the Revised Code, I cannot consistently vote against the revision and support my very excellent friends who form the body of schoolmasters in Liskeard.
I come now to a very material point, which I think has been least thought of in this discussion—namely, the nature of the teaching under this system and its consequences. What is its nature? Can any hon. Gentleman who has looked into the whole system—who has gone through one of those labours of Hercules, wading through the report with its five volumes of evidence—which has given me a most terrible vertigo—can any one doubt this, that the whole of the system is pitched too high, that the system is too ambitious, and that we have been occupied too much in cramming head hoys to send out by way of show, instead of instilling the rudiments of education into the great mass of children. We have heard a great deal to-night about the influence of the clergy. To my mind, they deserve immortal honour for the 171 pains they have taken with the system, and I think my right hon. Friend the Vice President has been unjustly treated in this respect, when he was taunted with having used the phrase "priestly tyranny," because he gave full credit to the clergy for their great efforts in the cause of national education. But how has this ambitious system acted on the clergy? Mr. Fraser, speaking of the failure of local aid, describes the effect of the present system in that class. "The ambitiousness," he says, "of the present teaching has tended more than anything else to alienate the lately from the work of elementary education, and to throw it entirely on the clergy." Is that right or just? On the same point the Commissioners say in their Report, "We have come to the conclusion that the instruction given is commonly both too ambitious and too superficial in its character." In the teeth of such evidence it is ridiculous to speak of our having a perfect system of education, and that it is an immoral act to attempt to revise it. Mr. Fraser gives a curious instance of the tendency of the present pretentious standard of education. He found in one school a poor young mistress, evidently earnest in her work, carrying her class through a sum in long division with eight figures in the quotient, which but one child in the class could read. Will the House believe it possible that under this system which is so highly prized, which we are deluged with pamphlets and letters to sustain, such a thing could occur? He mentions also that the certificated schoolmistresses of Kirkdale apologized for devoting their time to teaching history and geography by saying, that if their salaries did not depend on their children answering the Inspector of Schools in history, &c, they could spend the time much more profitably. That was to Bay, that if these schoolmistresses were not engaged in teaching the children what could be of no earthly use to them, they might teach them reading, writing, and arithmetic, which would be of the utmost value. The whole evidence on the subject leads us to the conclusion that unless the children are taught the primary elements of education, all higher knowledge is utterly useless; for the children will not be educated, and the money of the country will be spent to no purpose. We heard something from the hon. Member for Bradford and other hon. Gentlemen about the co-partnership of the Government in the training colleges. I could not help thinking 172 that if my hon. Friend had that sort of partner in his manufactory he would very speedily make him a sleeping partner. For what is this partnership of the Government with respect to the training colleges—which I am sorry to say the Revised Code does not touch or interfere with in any way? This omission is a blot on the whole scheme. I find that the cost of these training colleges has amounted in building grants to £ 2,544,000, and there are thirty-four training colleges I believe in England and Wales, having in them 2,065 students, male and female. These training colleges were originally founded upon self-supporting principles. How are they self supporting now? We find that in one instance—the Cheltenham College—99 per cent, and in all others 90 per cent is paid from the public taxes to the support of these training colleges. And that is what is called a partnership between the Government and the colleges. If it continues, it will be a partnership on the principle of unlimited liability. I find also, from the evidence, that these colleges do not appear to be in a proper state at all. There are hints in the Report of tendencies to immorality, and other faults, which it would be well to inquire into. I will not go into those matters now. There is, however, one great objection to the system to which I would direct attention. The supply is greater than the demand. We are educating a great many men at the national expense for whom there are no places in the schools, and who are thus enabled to compete with the public at large for situations in Government offices. The evidence of the Reverend Samuel Clarke, Principal of the Battersea Training College, bears very strongly on this phase of the question—You mean, that taking the training schools, generally speaking, through the country, the supply is now greater than the demand?—I believe it will be so next year, if it is not this year .If the Government turns out such a large supply, and pays for their support, does not it virtually discourage any other class of men from coming into the market?—I believe so.And at the same time it is impossible that its own class of men should be paid for, because they ask such high salaries?—Yes.The total expenditure for the training colleges might be diminished, and diminished with advantage?—I must confess that I think so; but, of course, it must be considered how far it would be keeping faith with those who have built and founded those colleges.In point of fact, have the subscriptions fallen off since the Government have paid so much?—Yes, our subscriptions have fallen off from £ 1,500 to £ 300.173 Yet there abundant proof that these schoolmasters are not grateful for the education afforded to them at the public cost, and are generally discontented men. I hope my right hon. Friend the Vice President will not omit to deal with the training colleges in a more serious spirit, and will have a Committee to inquire into their present condition, and into the expediency of continuing the grants.
It seems to me that the principle of a national system of education has been lost sight of in this discussion. What has been the effect of Government interference in the education of the country? There can be no doubt that its effect has been to cripple voluntary effort; and if the speech of the Vice President of the Board of Trade—[An hon. MEMBER: Vice President of the Committee of Council for Education.] Well, education i3 now hut another trade—if the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was worth anything, it went to show that the system of Government grants had crippled, if not extinguished, voluntary energy. Here is the most conclusive evidence on this point from two men who, from their knowledge as masters of public schools, are peculiarly qualified to speak on this point. The Reverend Doctor Temple, the Head Master of Rugby, late President of Kneller Hall, and at one time an Inspector of training schools, says—The system has done the great good of improving education, it has also done the great harm of accustoming the educators to loan upon the Government; the more they are accustomed to lean on Government the less they are willing to stand on their own strength. I think the good is increasing, but that the evil is increasing much faster.He objects to the enormous expense of the system, to its rigidity and want of local interest, and adds that he has no doubt, that if Parliament goes on upon the present system, the grant will eventually reach five millions. Dr. Vaughan. the Head Master of Harrow, says—" Nothing, not even the do-fence of our shores"—I am sure that the Bishop of Oxford took that idea fromhim—Can be more important than the education of our people; but is there no risk of injury to the cause itself by these lavish and wasteful subsidies—no risk of paralysing energies which we seek to stimulate, and of inducing, in place of vigorous individual effort, a most un-English reliance upon Government aid? I can have no hesitation in believing that that has already been in some cases the result of the present wasteful profusion.And yet, in the teeth of this evidence, from great and remarkable men, we are about to consolidate and extend this sys- 174 tem, without first inquiring what is the real principle on which Government interference with education ought to proceed. I believe that we never had but one debate upon the subject in this House—that which was brought on by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington)—to whatever falls from whom upon this subject, although I differ from him in opinion, I pay the greatest attention. I cannot conceive why, at this period, which is particularly favourable for settling this question at least, we should not come to some decision upon it. Here we are; no party spirit; a little infusion to-night, but very slight—a tincture of the University of Dublin. Here we are—Reform at a discount:Its name is never heard;Our lips are now forbid to speakThat once familiar word.Why, even the invasion panic is gone by. There is a political millennium. The Conservative lion is lying down by the Liberal lamb; and if the noble Lord at the head of the Government could only get an Irish Lord of the Treasury, everything would be smooth. The calm almost approaches stagnation, duckweed is on the face of our debates. Why, then, cannot the Government—I will not ask the right hon. Gentleman, because I know he has already raised a storm which will probably serve him till the end of his life—hut why cannot the Government come down boldly and propose—I will not say some comprehensive plan, because when that is done by a Government it means profusion and waste—but why should they not endeavour to unfetter the popular education of this country from the trammels and ties of Government assistance? I do not ask you at once to stop all votes, but gradually to accustom the country to run alone in this great matter. Since I have looked into this subject—and I have looked into it very deeply and attentively—1 have come to the conclusion, that if you wish the country to be educated on right principles, that if you wish the healthful spirit of the community to be restored, you must not continue this lavish system of Government grants and put the matter of the education of the country under a Government office. The political departments of this country ought to hare nothing to do with the education of the people. And when I am told of the unanimity of this Report, I say that the Royal Commissioners were not unanimous upon this point. No attention has been drawn to the 175 report of the minority, but among that minority was not only the respected name of Mr. Miall, to whom objection may be taken by some because he is pledged to the voluntary system, but also that of Mr. Goldwin Smith, whom I take to be one of the rising men of this generation. And what did that minority say? Why, they disagreed altogether from the Report of the majority, and they say that they desire that—A good type of school-teachers having now-been extensively introduced, the benefits of popular education having been manifested, and public interest in the subject having been thoroughly awakened, the Government should gradually abstain from making further grants, except grants for the building of schools, to which the public assistance was originally confined, and the discontinuance of which would be unfair towards the parishes which have hitherto received no assistance. The annual grants which are now made should be gradually withdrawn, and Government should confine its efforts to the improvement of union schools, reformatories, and schools connected with public establishments.They add—At least, they do not feel confident that the Government will ever be able to control the growing expenditure and multiplying appointments of a department the operations of which are regulated by the unceasing and varying demands of philanthropists rather than by the requirements of the public service.I cannot help thinking that the Report of this minority is well worthy of the attention of the House. We have never yet discussed what are the true principles of popular education. So long as we are content to lavish these sums without inquiry, I feel confident that this Revised Code will not be sufficient to deal with this extravagant outlay, and that we shall eventually be compelled once for all to put a stop to this lavish expenditure from the public Exchequer.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, that he could not agree with the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. B. Osborne) that this was a question simply of economy. It appeared to him to be a question whether the present system of expenditure on National Education was beneficial or injurious to that education. This at least seemed clear, that the opinions of all Members, on both sides of the House, were thus far agreed, that some revision was necessary in the present Education Code. The only question was as to the kind and mode of the revision. The Code itself was scarcely two years old, and it seemed rather young perhaps, for revision; but it must be borne in mind that the law on this subject had 176 long required it, but was not capable of revision until the consolidation of the Minutes of Council, which, at the time he (Mr. Adderley) was at the Education Board, were scattered through the Reports of twenty years. They were indebted to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, for the steps he had afterwards taken in codifying the consolidated Minutes; and he thought that all who were interested in the subject of education were indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for having made this Code which he now proposed to revise. He did not know that in any instance by-legislation by a Department could be more justifiable than in connection with a system based on the support of various religious denominations and which could not come under discussion in the House without raising a certain degree of religious animosity. But though he thought that by-legislation by a Department was wise on the subject of education, yet it was quite clear that it must not be allowed unlimited scope or permanence in its action, without being brought from time to time under the revision of the House. No sooner was the Code established by the Vice President of the Board of Education than the whole subject of National Education came under the consideration of a Royal Commission; and therefore no step could be taken by him in the way of its revision pending their inquiry: but no sooner did that Royal Commission report than the right hon. Gentlemen proceeded to revise the Code which he himself had drawn up, and his proposed revision was the present subject of discussion. The revision proposed applied mainly to the second chapter of the Code; and it certainly had been misrepresented, and its character greatly exaggerated, when it had been called a proposition for revolutionizing the existing system of national education. At the same time, he did not in the least undervalue its importance, for it referred to the most material part of the system—namely, the nature and mode by which the Treasury grants in aid of education should be made to schools. It was now proposed that the aid from the State, instead of being made in appropriated grants to the teachers themselves, should be given in annual sums in aid of the funds of the managers. That, he allowed, was a very important alteration but it certainly did not go to the extent of revolutionizing the whole system of na- 177 tional education. The apparent object of the change was to do that which was suggested in Mr. Lingen's circular to the schools at the time the revision was first proposed—namely, to limit the interference of Government and to revive the ! action of voluntary management. So far; as that object went, they would concur he believed, in approving it. The present; system had very much overlaid the spirit of voluntary action by Government interference. No one, who had watched the course of events for the last twenty years would doubt that such was the case. He I would, for a moment, draw the attention of hon. Members to the circumstances under which this system arose; with what difficulty the Government induced the: managers of schools to accept Government aid; how they had to coquette with school managers and with the two educational societies then in existence to induce them to come in to any relations, and how they had to bind themselves not to interfere further than to see after the expenditure of their own grants; and the House was so averse to interference that, if he mistook not, the proposition was only carried by a majority; of one. But what was the case now? So far from the great educational societies being averse to Government aid, they were hugging the Government, and crying for; more and more. This was a distinct proof; that Government aid had overlaid the voluntary spirit. No one who had taken part in the management of schools could doubt ! that such had been the result. For himself, he could say that he had felt the influence of Government aid. As the Government increased their grants he gave less, and directed those funds into other channels. When he found that the Government was ready to do what he was doing before himself, ho abstained from doing it, thinking that he might as well have his share in the public purse as any one else He thought it would be allowed that this was the inevitable tendency of Government aid in all cases. Had it not been the case with regard to every other institution which Government had assisted? It had ! been so with reformatories and industrial schools; and it was probable that few hon. Members recollected that Houses of Correction were at first charitable institutions to give work instead of severe punishment to slight offenders, and were supported by voluntary contributions. But when Government aid was given to these institutions, they gradually became Government 178 Establishments. This being the natural tendency of all Government interference, he thought that those who believed that voluntary support ought to be the basis of national education, and thought that alone was a guarantee of the religious character of the education, had better look carefully to this, and recollect that they had no time to lose if they desired to check this tendency of Government aid to overlay voluntary efforts. The Government, in the first instance, for a great national object, pressed their aid on voluntary bodies labouring in the cause of education; but now they found these bodies leaning upon them to such an extent that they necessarily remonstrated. If the managers gave up the management of schools entirely to the Government, it would conduct them on a simpler and cheaper plan than the managers did. It was in consequence of the voluntary nature of the undertaking that a complicated system was necessary. Inspectors of various religious denominations had to be provided, and it was not uncommon for two three Inspectors to arrive in a small town in one day to examine different schools, all aided by the Treasury; and this was the more absurd in Scotland, where the religious sects were very numerous, but the differences between them were not differences of creed, but matters of patronage only. If the managers were so very anxious to rest on Government aid, then the Government must, at least adopt some check on its application. If the management was left to the Government, it would do the whole thing in its own way at half the expense; if not, the Government aid should only come in the shape of aggregate annual sums to the managers of the schools, and the masters must be the servants of the managers, not of the Government. So far he thought the proposition a wise one. He now came to the question as to the mode of carrying out this object. He must say there was some difficulty about the present proposition. They were all agreed that they should revive the voluntary system, but it was difficult to say how that was to be carried out. The proposition before the House was, to carry this out by paying the grants of the State no longer as heretofore in augmentation of salaries, but as an aggregate annual sum added to the incomes of the managers; and the proportions of these grants were to be regulated by an individual examination test. Now, it was said that this gave a precarious 179 nature to the aid—this was the principal objection to the mode proposed. But those who thus objected ought at the same time to consider whether it was possible that Government aid could be given without any test, and a test must be precarious in result or nugatory. He did not see that the managers' incomes under the test proposed would be precarious. The aid to schools must be more or less precarious if dependent on a test; but the managers would not be subject to that risk, but the teachers. He supposed that the managers would pay the teachers as they had hitherto done, and would add to those payments a certain proportion of whatever they might get from the Government. The proportion for teaching was generally one-third. The risk, therefore, to the managers would be nothing, and whatever it might be to the teachers depended upon themselves. It seemed to him that, so far as regarded the receipt of Government aid, there was more precariousness in the existing system than there would be under the proposed scheme, because under the existing system aid depended on the amount subscribed, but in the new scheme the amount which the master would receive would depend much more on his own success as a teacher. But then, came the question, how was the test of an examination to be applied under the Revised Code? The proposition was an examination of the scholars according to a certain minimum standard of instruction; for it was clearly not meant that the proposed standard was to he regarded as the maximum amount of education which was to be supplied; it was merely to be held to be the minimum amount below which it was supposed no instruction was given at all. It was evident that the test proposed was not intended in any way to limit or to characterize the nature of the instruction given; and it would be as unreasonable to suppose that by such a proposal any discouragement would be offered to a higher class of teaching, or to religious teaching, as it would be to say, that the Government by promising a certain sum for every Volunteer who could show he had passed the first drill, would be holding out to drill-serjeants an inducement to confine their instructions to the goose-step. He must say he thought the arguments which he had heard in more than one instance used with reference to the minimum standard of which he was speaking were not only nonsense, but nonsense put in a 180 form insulting to the managers of schools, who were represented as not likely to attend to anything beyond what was required for a grant in aid. He must at the same time observe, that although he considered it most desirable that the object which it was sought to accomplish by means of the Revised Code should be attained, he could not help entertaining the opinion which he had expressed when it first made its appearance, with reference to the practicability of the mode in which it was proposed to carry it into effect. It was proposed, for instance, that there should be an individual examination of every scholar in every school connected with the Committee of Council above the age of six. No description, however, had been given of the machinery by which the examination was to be secured. It was not stated whether or not there was to be an increase made in the number of Inspectors for the purpose, or whether the end in view was to be arrived at through the medium of an inferior body of agents called Examiners. He agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord R. Cecil), that although that latter expedient would be the most natural one, it would be liable to this very great objection—that it would leave the granting public aid to a school to be decided by a class insufficiently independent and fearless for such a task. There was another difficulty in the way of making all points depend on a single day's examination, such as sickness and bad weather, which might prevent the attendance of children at the schools on the day of examination. This difficulty was, nevertheless, one which could be removed only by a relaxation of that rigidity which constituted the chief merit of the system; for if certificated excuses for absence were allowed, a looseness would be re-introduced which it was the main object of the revision to remove. Under these circumstances he should refrain from expressing any more decided opinion on the point until he heard some explanation as to the machinery proposed for conducting the examination. If, on the other hand, the grant was to be made dependent on the result of a general inspection of each school, he could state, from his own experience in the office, that such a test would be wholly valueless. Not only did a great difference exist in the minds of different Inspectors as to what constituted a good or a bad school, but he had never known 181 an instance in which an Inspector had reported that the general character of a school was so bad that it ought to receive no assistance from the State; and under our denominational system no other result could have been expected, for it would be unreasonable to expect an Inspector to give a general account of schools of his own denomination which would contrast unfavourably with the state of schools managed probably no better by some other denomination by its side. He had never found a Roman Catholic Inspector, for instance, stating that a Roman Catholic school was in such a state as not to deserve the aid which others were getting; and he was not at all surprised to find that in the returns of the Diocesan Inspectors of the National Society, which had recently been laid before the House, not one of those Inspectors had reported that any of the schools he had visited was in a bad condition—of most of the schools in England they reported that they were "very good" or "tolerable," or fair, but in no one case that he could recollect that it was actually "bad." This he said without impugning the honour or veracity of the Inspectors. The fact was, that if the grant was not to be made to depend on the result of some special inquiry, it would be better to do away with the Inspectors altogether, save the amount of salary they received, and shovel out the money per head or upon any still readier method that might be possible. For the purposes of curtailing the expenditure, the system of u general inspection would prove a complete failure. Then they had to consider the tempting proposal of his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole)—a compromise, that they should grant a portion of the money in consideration of the general character of the school, and the rest on an examination test. When he (Mr. Adderley) was in office, there was a constant pressure put upon the Education Committee to do away with all special tests, in the case, at all events, of the smaller schools, and to make grants of public money in every case in which an Inspector reported that the general condition of a school was good. That was the proposal made the other day by the Bishop of Oxford in another place; and there were many other persons who took the same view of the subject. The argument of the Bishop was, "What has the House of Commons to do with the fact whether or not John Tomkins can 182 read? All that they have to do is to ascertain whether or not John Tomkins is at a school in which he can be taught to read." But if that principle was sound, Parliament should abandon the idea of any inquiry, and should merely consider what sum it would grant from motives of pure benevolence to any particular school. For his part, he should be very glad to find that his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge was able to suggest a mode of ascertaining by specific tests the general efficiency of a school in ensuring good discipline, a fair attendance of pupils, and proper religious instructions, while he hoped they might at the same time find some mode of applying the more rigid and more certain test of individual examination in regard to the ordinary branches of elementary education. If he could do so, he (Mr. Adderley) should certainly go with him. He took it for granted that one object of the framers of the Revised Code was to spread the system of Government aid for educational purposes more generally over the country. It appeared that one-half of the schools at present in existence received no portion of the public aid; and it was generally the schools in the poorer districts that were subject to that disadvantage. How had that occurred? It was shown by Mr. Senior that in those districts the poverty of the schools did not consist in the poverty of the poor themselves; for his evidence showed that in the very poorest districts the poor contributed more to the education of their children than the same class of persons in the more prosperous portions of the country. The cause, therefore, of the failure of the voluntary principle in the districts to which he was referring was not the poverty of the humbler classes, but the poorness of spirit of the rich, and their neglect—in fact, the breaking-down of the voluntary principle. The rich allowed the burden of education to fall upon the clergy; and yet these involuntary agents were the persons who now asked that the voluntary system, as represented in their persons, should be aided by public taxation, and that their own neglect should be the measure of the grants from the Treasury. But it was evident that the general adoption of such a course would altogether destroy the voluntary system in the whole country. He considered that the Revised Code met their case in the only way in which it could be met—namely, by offering to those poorer districts a cheaper class of teachers, 183 and enabling them by every means, regular and irregular, to make up for the small amount of their funds. It would be a great advantage to the schools in those districts that a certain minimum standard of education should be established as the basis of public aid; for by only attaining that low standard they would receive as large an allowance from the State as the schools in the wealthier portions of the country, where a much higher standard would in many cases be reached. During his tenure of office on the Committee of Education a great boon was conferred on those poorer districts by the Minute of Council, which enabled them to obtain probationary masters from the Training Colleges at a cheaper rate. That Minute had been productive of great advantage, and it had brought, within the reach of the Government grants a large number of rural schools which did not receive public aid before. After all, however, he believed that what kept the school-managers of poor districts aloof from the Privy Council was an intense dislike among famous statesmen to the interference of the Government. He only wished that feeling were more general. But here, again, the Revised Code, by throwing the management more into the hands of local committees, would in a great measure, do away with the repugnance which was felt in poor districts to the receipt of Government aid. Something had been said about the too pretentious character of that system, and he believed that it was very desirable to check the growth of such an evil. They should all remember that the Government only undertook to aid in the education of the labouring classes. But by establishing training schools and employing a high class of Inspectors, they had given an artificial stimulus to the whole system, and had raised it above its natural demand. Such a state of things ought not to be allowed without check, for the use of those schools ought to be restricted, and the grant of public money for purposes of general education was opposed to the spirit of the people of this country. He believed the Revised Code would tend to correct this evil also, not only by the limitation of the test to the elements of instruction, but by putting a check and limit altogether upon Government interference. Much had been said about the claims and interests of existing certificated masters and pupil-teachers. In whatever revision of the system we might adopt we 184 ought undoubtedly to be careful to deal fairly with existing rights; but our first duty was to amend the system of education where it required amendment, and, when that was done, then would be the time to give a careful and favourable consideration to the interests which might be affected by the change. The first consideration was the interest of the labouring classes in national education, and how Government aid could be given to these schools so as not to suppress and overlay the voluntary management on the vigour of which their character and permanence depended. One schoolmaster in his neighbourhood wrote to him to say that his position would be damaged by this change, but he thought that school masters as a class had injured themselves by acting too much as if that were the primary consideration to be discussed. Another schoolmaster had discussed at great length the effect of the Revised Code on the schools of the poor, and had only added in a brief postscript his hope that the interests of the schoolmasters would also be considered. This feeling was most honourable to the schoolmasters, who acknowledged that they were instituted for the schools, not the schools for them; and if the House only discussed the matter in the same spirit, and with the same view, they might hope to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. If the House thought that the voluntary system had broken down, or had fallen too heavily on the clergy, which was the same thing, let the fact, however painful be recognised, and let the Government take the management of education into its own hands. One thing was clear, that it was impossible to carry on the two systems together. The French and English systems, the State and voluntary undertakings cannot exist together. One must be the basis, and the other a merely subsidiary part of the system. If the House should decide that the voluntary system had failed, no doubt the Government would be able to conduct the education of the poor more cheaply and more simply. But if they were of opinion that the voluntary system was alive, or could be revived, let the House pause in time and take at once means to prevent it from imminent danger of being overlaid and dwarfed by Government interference.
§ MR. LEVESON GOWER
said, he could assure the House that it was not because he was somewhat peculiarly situated in regard to the Revised Code that he wished it 185 to succeed, but because he believed it to be a wise measure. The only effect of his near connection with the noble Earl who was President of the Committee of Council was that he had been induced to give this subject more attention than he should otherwise have done, and he had come to the conclusion of supporting the revision proposed, because he thought the change was required. Nothing had surprised him more than the erroneous views entertained with regard to the plan of the Government by many of its opponents; both in the House and by the school-managers. Some objected to the principle of grouping, on the ground that the Government proposed to insist that the children should all be arranged and educated in classes according to age: whereas the Government had never entertained any such preposterous idea, and merely meant that individual examinations should take place according to age. Another prevalent misconception was, that the Government reward was to be given merely with reference to the acquirement of the elementary arts of reading, writing, and arithmetic: whereas the fact was that the Government, annexed two conditions to the grant, one being that the Inspector should report favourably upon the discipline, health, and religious teaching of the schools; and if they failed in these respects, the whole grant was to be withheld. Even although every scholar should pass an examination in reading, writing, and arithmetic, still, if the other condition was not complied with, the school would not receive one farthing of public money. This misconception had pervaded the arguments of many of the writers and speakers against the Revised Code. It was to be found in a pamphlet which had been placed in his hands that morning, and was repeated in a memorial from the clergy and managers of parish schools in the borough of Birmingham. It even appeared to be shared by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole), who had quoted with approval a passage in the letter of the Rev. Mr. Scott to this effect. The right hon. Gentleman also expressed his apprehension lest the effect of the Revised Code should be to deteriorate the discipline of the schools. But, as he had shown, if the discipline were unsatisfactory, the school would receive the grant no longer. The hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) misconceived the scheme in another respect. He admitted that other 186 requirements were made by the Revised Code besides the teaching of reading, writing, and arithmetic. The hon. Member, however, complained that the Government would not pay for these additional matters, and contended that if they were necessary, they ought to be paid for. What the Government, however, proposed to pay for was the education of the people as a whole, in which these two conditions were included The Government had revised their scheme, and had stipulated for certain things; and if they did not pay enough, the fault was in the scale they had adopted, and not in the scheme. "With respect to elementary education, he did not think that any one could read the interesting Report of the Commissioners without being convinced that there was great foundation for what they said on that subject. He would go further, and say, that even if there was no evidence of the fact in the official documents connected with the National Schools, it was not in human nature that a schoolmaster should devote as much attention to the less competent as he did to the more competent boys. Hon. Gentlemen must know, from the experience of their own school-days, that the schoolmaster took more pains with the industrious and clever than he did with the idle and less intelligent boy; but in the case of the higher classes there was a check to that practice being carried to a very injurious extent, because the educated parent was able to judge of the progress made by his child, and could remove him from the school if his education was not attended to by the master. The poor man had not the same facilities for transferring his child from one school to another. He could not but think that personal examination would be a very useful test. By such a system of examination they would be able to ascertain the exact number of pupils that had passed in those elementary schools, and the proportion it bore to the total number in the school; and from those data they would be afforded a test as to the comparative merits of the various schools. The system of individual examination would, therefore, be a powerful inducement to the master not to neglect the school generally for the purpose of getting forward individual pupils, and would even stimulate a certain rivalry among the schools, and in this way contribute to stimulate the education of the country. Much had been said as to the injury which it was asserted would be done by the Revised Code to the 187 managers of schools. He believed that those gentlemen were entitled to great credit for their sacrifice of time and money in the cause of education, and they deserved the sympathy and respect of the whole country. But, he could not shut his eyes to the fact, that they might consider themselves personally interested in this question, and that therefore they did not view it with that calmness and impartiality which were so desirable in considering a subject of this nature. If managers of schools were not economical, they must not come to Parliament to be indemnified for losses which they might have avoided. They had assumed a responsibility, and of that responsibility they could not divest themselves. He had no doubt that the effects of the Revised Code in respect of the finances of schools were much exaggerated by the opponents of the new scheme. Managers looking at the present condition of their schools, and finding that there was a great number of the children who could not read, and that the majority could neither write nor cipher, asked themselves, "What amount of money shall we receive for the minority? If we compare it with what we receive now, it will be a small one." But they left out of consideration the enormous stimulus which the Revised Code would give to masters to bring their schools up to the mark. He believed that already the announcement of the change had had its effects in that way. A clergyman had written to him a few days before, stating that, though opposed to the new scheme, he had observed that since its promulgation great progress had been made. Several managers of schools had told him that they were surprised at the liberality of the Privy Council; and one had informed him, that if he had not had repairs to make last year, he would not have been able to lay out the money he had received. There was another point which was worthy the attention of the House. Under the old system pupil-teachers were paid the same salaries throughout the country. The necessary result of the bargains being made by a central office was, that teachers were paid the same salaries in districts where wages were highest as they were in those where wages were lowest. It followed that there must be a most extravagant waste in the payment of many of these pupil-teachers, and he thought that much advantage would result from the revised scheme, in consequence of the increased liberty of action it would give to the managers in reference to 188 the employment of pupil-teachers, for they would now be enabled to employ pupil-teachers where masters were formerly required. In the richer districts, where the masters were employed, the managers would be able to compensate themselves for the high salaries which they paid by imposing a great amount of school-pence on the children. There was only one other topic on which he wished to touch, and that was payment by the parents of children. He did not think that the man who had the means of paying for the education of his child had any right to call on the State to provide that education gratuitously, any more than he had to ask it to clothe or feed his child. That being his opinion, he had read with very great pleasure the remarks of the Commissioners as to the growing appreciation among the people of this country of the advantages of education for their children, and as to the great willingness displayed by many of them to pay for that education to the extent of their means. Parliament ought to take care not to destroy the latter feeling, and one of the merits of the Revised Code was that it not only did not discourage, but positively encouraged it. He entreated the House to inquire into the real facts of the case. This was a most important question. He hoped they would not be misled by erroneous statements; above all, he trusted they would not allow anything in the nature of an electioneering pressure to prevent them from fairly recognising the merits of a scheme which he firmly believed would be conducive to the prosperity and welfare of the community.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he would admit that his hon. Friend who had just sat down was as good an authority as any man in the House or out of it to give an explanation of the meaning of the Revised Code, having had the very best opportunity of studying and understanding it; yet he thought the House would hesitate before accepting his explanation of the Code, because, as he understood him, his hon. Friend said it was a mere fancy that Government was only going to pay for results of individual examination, whereas they were going to pay for attendance. Now he should like to have that part of the Revised Code pointed out which gave any authority for such a statement. It had been said that the Revised Code would produce a complete revolution in the schools. If by revolution was meant confusion and disorder, the usual concomitants, he quite agreed 189 that such would be the result of its adoption. The arguments of the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Osborne) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) would justify the refusal of Government aid altogether. If that view were largely entertained, why not try the question fairly, and renew the old battle between Government aid and the voluntary system? The hon. Member for Liskeard exposed a prominent defect in the present arrangement when he spoke of the burdens which country clergymen, who managed seven-tenths of the schools of the country, were called on to bear; but the Revised Code, instead of bettering their condition, would aggravate the charges upon them, by calling on the managers of schools to advance the whole of the salaries of masters, pupil-teachers, and other outlay. The hon. Member for Liskeard also talked of the religious teaching of the schools as a delusion, and attributed to a high dignitary of the Church an observation of a very singular character about "dogs-earing the leaves of a Bible." But he wished that hon. Gentlemen who shared that opinion would follow those children to their homes and see the effects which were produced on dissipated parents, in disorderly districts and villages, by the beneficial influences carried away by children from the religious teaching in school. An instance of this nature had come under his personal observation, where a most demoralized community, in the midst of which a school had been established, had since exhibited marked symptoms of reformation; crime became unknown or nearly so, drunkenness was comparatively rare, and parents commenced to attend church regularly. Ho was not opposed heart and soul, or anything approaching to it, to the proposed scheme, and still less to any real improvement of the existing system. He admitted that the old system of education had been rightly described as expensive, cumbrous, and complex; but who made it so? The Privy Council, by the mass of details and the number of costly conditions with which they encircled the grants. Popular education, apart from the Privy Council, was neither expensive, cumbrous, nor difficult to manage. In bringing forward this new Code the Privy Council were actuated by two strong motives, one being to save themselves trouble, and the other to save the Exchequer expense. He regarded the measure as the first in a series of financial reforms which he hoped 190 might be effected; but it was certainly remarkable that the first of the long list doubtless occupying the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that of which the people complained least and from which they derived the greatest benefit. If there was any expenditure of public money that was made willingly, and was attended with perceptible beneficial results, it was the money expended on education. There was a right and a wrong way of doing everything, and in his opinion most of the details of this attempt at improving national education had been erroneously conceived. The proposal was to make the grant depend on the test of the results of teaching. Part of the grant should undoubtedly be made upon ascertained results; but other portions of it ought to depend on the character and condition of the school; and he felt very little doubt that before the measure left the House it would be altered in accordance with that view. If the whole aid from Government were made to depend on the result of a single examination, of two consequences one would necessarily follow. Either the teachers would learn to look on the child merely according to its money value, calculating that a certain amount of tuition expended upon it would win so much money; or else, where there were conscientious managers, who insisted upon equal pains being taken with all the children, those who came up to a certain standard would gain for the school the Government scale of remuneration, and upon all who fell below it the whole of the labour and trouble would have been completely thrown away in a pecuniary sense, a result necessarily most discouraging to the managers and teachers. Moreover, in its results the proposed scheme would not deal fairly as between schools in rich and populous districts, and schools in poor and remote districts. By drawing a hard unbending line round all schools, whether they were in wealthy settled neighbourhoods, or in wild, thinly-peopled parts of the country, great injustice was done, and great advantages were given to the richer communities. To correct this evil, and to extend the benefits of the system to schools hitherto excluded from it, were: said to be among the great objects of the Revised Code. The only clause of this nature which he had been able to find in the Code, on searching it carefully through, was one by which it was pro- 191 posed to create a class of cheap teachers, who were to take charge of poor schools, and the words "rural districts" were specially mentioned. These new teachers were to be boys and girls of eighteen or nineteen, fresh from their apprenticeship in some village school, and having: had none, of the advantages derivable from passing through a training college. He could not but think the boon one of a very doubtful character, he did not think that persons of that age had the experience or moral influence necessary for such a charge; and, certainly, such teachers could not have had that intercourse with cultivated minds which was calculated to fit them for the proper discharge of their duties. As the efficiency of the school depended so much upon the teacher, a prudent manager would be reluctant to engage such inexperienced and imperfectly qualified persons. It was most important that the minimum of fitness for the office of teacher should not be fixed too low, as there was always a natural tendency in the general standard to sink to that level. Instead of being a boon, then, this change was likely to prove a serious mischief—it would at once damage the training colleges and give a supply of very indifferent teachers. The great blot in the new Code, however, was that no allowance was made by it for the varying circumstances of the labouring classes in different parts of the country. The task of education was carried on under the most unfavourable conditions amid a fluctuating and migratory population, where, owing to the necessities or the poverty of their parents, or their frequent changes of residence, occasioned by the search for work, the children's school attendance was often interrupted, and their elementary instruction had to be begun over and over again. That was the state of things in the mining districts in particular, therefore to exact the same amount of proficiency from the scholars of that class, as from children of the; same age, but who were more favourably placed in respect to the circumstances of t their parents and the greater regularity of their school attendance, would be as unreasonable and unfair by such children as it would be discouraging to the cause of education. Therefore, in his opinion, this grouping by age was a great blot upon the Revised Code; and he trusted that the House, if it persisted in retaining the system of grouping by age, would, at all events, raise the ages of the pupils in 192 each class one year at least in the mining and similar districts. About 40 per cent was the average proportion over the entire country of the scholars who remained less than one year in the same school. In the mining districts the proportion must necessarily be far below the general average. He now came to another important point. It was very easy to talk about teaching a child to read, write, and cipher: but what was the real meaning of teaching the child to read? Was it merely to enable him to repeat like a parrot, though it might be with a distinct articulation and with attention to his stops, a passage in the Bible or any other book? Or did it imply that the child should understand what he was reading, and should properly appreciate it, as a rule, intended, perhaps, to guide his conduct in life? That acceptation of reading—the true one he believed—required much time and training to realize. Would any noble Lord on the Treasury bench undertake to teach his own child—brought up in luxury, and amid all the associations of an elevated society—to read in that sense of the word in one year, or even in two? If not, how could they expect the child of the miner or the mechanic, reared in a cabin, of an attic, and who had lived far remote from influences: calculated to sharpen the faculties or to develop the intelligence, to acquire the same capacity in the same, or in anything like the same time? If the Inspector did his duty and insisted on each child being able to understand what it read, a much; longer time must be allowed to the teacher than was allotted by the Revised Code. He wished to advert for a moment to certain passages in the Report of the Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Foster, who was sent down by the Royal Commission to inquire into the educational condition of the mining districts of Durham—with which county he (Mr. Liddell) was more particularly connected—embracing about five: unions. In his Report Mr. Foster stated that the class of coal-miners were the lowest in the social scale—that they were a heterogeneous, fluctuating, and rapidly-increasing population, earning high wages, which they had no way of spending but in the gratification of their animal appetites; that adultery among them was a matter of mere jest, and incest frightfully common, seeming to excite no disgust. These were very sweeping and also very alarming statements, which it hardly came within that Gentleman's province to make. But 193 if he did make them, he ought to have inquired into their truth before launching them wholesale against a large and industrious population. Those statements naturally caused great indignation; they were repudiated by the Archdeacon of Durham, and he (Mr. Liddell) was in a position to declare that they were without foundation. He did not mean to say that single frightful instances might not be found in the towns and population of almost any crowded districts; but because the Assistant Commissioner happened to hear of such an instance, he was not justified in making such wholesale and malignant accusations against an industrious hardworking class. He had the results of a careful house-to-house visitation; he had the report of a committee of schoolmasters—for that body, knowing the intimate connection that should exist between their labours and the homes of their pupils, naturally felt that they were indirectly attacked by the assertions of the Assistant Commissioner. That committee went through the district, examined managers, schoolmasters, employers of labour, and workmen, and in their report they declared the assertions to be wholly without foundation. But Mr. Foster also spoke of the truck system being revived in that district. The same report stated that the committee could not discover a single instance where the truck system prevailed. Mr. Foster went yet further, and attributed the cause of non-attendance at schools mainly to the inefficiency and repulsive appearance of the schools and the restlessness and dissatisfaction of the schoolmasters. Mr. Foster also criticised the Inspectors, and in his Report it was stated that in many cases the Inspectors were neither morally nor mentally qualified for their offices. Now he (Mr. Liddell) knew the present Inspector of the district very well. He was a gentleman who had received a University education, and was a near relative of a distinguished Member of the Ministerial Bench. The only other Inspectors who had ever been within the district were Mr. Watkins and Mr. Stewart. Both these gentlemen were still retained by the Government in the office of Inspectors; but if Mr. Foster's statement was correct, and these gentlemen were neither morally nor mentally qualified, the sooner they were dismissed the better. If one part of the report of this Assistant Commissioner was proved to be incorrect or exaggerated, what confidence could the House place in any part of 194 it? The reports of the Assistant Commissioners were the foundation of the new scheme; and if the foundation was unsound, what would become of the superstructure? Surely, before destroying a system which was in existence upon the authority of the Assistant Commissioners' reports, they ought to be sure that the reports themselves were capable of proof, those Reports being directly at variance with the annual statements of the Inspectors themselves. He could have wished that Mr. Foster had paid a visit upon a recent melancholy occasion to the Hartley Colliery. If he had visited that desolate village, if he had penetrated into those caverns of death, he might have learnt a lesson, and have seen proofs, living and dead, of manly heroism, of Christian fortitude, and of pious resignation, which might have had a salutary effect even upon the cultivated mind of an Assistant Commissioner. Upon the subject immediately before the House he would only add that twice within his recollection had the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council been the official instrument for carrying out the recommendations of Royal Commissions. It was singular that on each occasion the right hon. Gentleman had had to deal with the delicate subject of vested interests. In the one case the vested interests were the growth of ages, while in the other they were the productions of his own office. Upon the first occasion the right hon. Gentleman brought in a Bill to sweep away those vested interests, and frightened Parliament and all owners of property by declaring that charters were good for nothing, and all must go. The House was alarmed, and refused to pass the Bill as it stood; and it was sent to a Select Committee, whence it never returned. That question had since been settled by amicable arrangement, and with the general concurrence of those interested. The Bill he referred to was that for sweeping away the rights of corporations to levy dues upon shipping, and goods carried in ships. In the present case he thought the right hon. Gentleman would have effected his object more easily if he had not alarmed the country so much. The very alarm and uncertainty which had been caused by the proposition of the new scheme had done unspeakable harm to the cause of education. He hoped and believed, however, that in this instance an amicable arrangement and just compromise would be effected, but he believed that the 195 House would not consent to make all the grants of public money for the purposes of education dependent solely upon a rigid examination of children grouped as was now proposed.
§ MR. BAINES
said, that it was not his intention to engage in the battle of the Codes; but as the right hon. Gentleman invited the House of Commons to enter upon a general discussion with respect to the principles of both the past and the proposed system, he would call attention to an evil common to both. He felt that the public money was wasted on schools which needed least, or did not need at all, public assistance; while it was withheld from parts of the country where it was needed most. That fault had been admitted by all who had written and spoken during the present controversy, and the last speaker had pointed out the great difference which existed between the circumstances of different parts of the country, to which the same rigid rule was applied. It would be remembered that the vice President of the Committee of Council had told them on a recent occasion that the education grants were intended to aid in the education of the very poorest children. The President of the Committee of Council—speaking in another place—said the taxpayers of the country should not be called upon to contribute towards the education of those who were competent to pay for themselves. But he (Mr. Baines) believed that, to a very large extent, the enormous grant of £800,000 was at present lavished upon schools where the parents were perfectly able to pay for the education of their children; or where in other cases they were surrounded by a population so rich and liberal, and so perfectly appreciating the value of education, that there was not the slightest pretence of necessity for given the public money in aid of the schools in those districts. It seemed to him that the existing system was operating in a direction the very opposite almost of that which was intended—neglecting those in circumstances of great destitution, while squandering the public money to an enormous extent upon those who had not the smallest need for it. The Vice President of the Council, in his speech on the 13th of February, admitted that the foundation of a school was regulated rather by the wealth and the public spirit of the inhabitants than by the absolute wants of the locality. The richer the district the more money it got from the public—the poorer the district the less 196 money it got. That was perfectly preposterous, and he asked the House would they be doing their duty as guardians of the public purse, if they allowed an evil of this kind to continue to exist? The evil he pointed out would apply to the new Code as well as to the old. It was to be a capitation grant, and would be generally distributed on the same principle as the present grants. The most populous, the richest, and the most settled districts would receive the largest amount of the grant, while such poor districts as he had described, with a scattered population, would receive scarcely any amount of the public money. He had been delighted to hear the discriminating, impartial, and manly speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley), who had himself been Vice President of the Council, and he hoped it would have upon the House the effect which it deserved. To show the abuses which existed in the distribution of the grant, he would remind the House that on a previous evening he had presented a petition from the town of Glossop, in the county of Derby, in which reference was made to a school called the "Duke of Norfolk's Grammar School," established by the Premier Peer of England, amidst a manufacturing population, where good wages were received. That school was endowed with the sum of £4,000, and yet at the present time received, and for years had been receiving, £177 from the public purse. A school in the town of Faversham, in Kent, was supported in the following manner:—from Charities, £604 7s. 6d.; school pence of children, £125 13s. 4d.; subscriptions, the paltry amount of £37 18s. 6d.; from the public purse £368 16s. Thus, while the sum of £368 16s. was lavished upon this school out of the public purse, only £37 was raised by the subscriptions of the inhabitants of the locality. There had been issued, on the Motion of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire, a return, which he held in his hand, showing the grants made to schools by the Committee of Council. He found there schools belonging to the estates of noblemen, who possess something like half a county, receiving public money to a large amount. He found schools belonging to the richest coal and iron masters in the country receiving money to a large amount. He found that schools belonging to rich millowners, whom he knew to be millionaires, or half-millionaires, capable of supporting any 197 institution connected with those who laboured in their employment, were receiving grants. He found schools in great commercial towns and cities in this country, more wealthy than Tyre or Carthage, Venice or Amsterdam, on which money was lavished from the public purse. He found schools receiving the largest sums of money in the very parts of the country in which the highest wages were paid to the working classes, where the grant only produced the effect of demoralizing the public and preventing parents from doing their duty. He found schools in receipt of the giant that had rich endowments—some of modern and some of ancient date—and others in which the working classes were not chiefly taught, but in which the middle classes were taught—children of farmers in the country and of shopkeepers in the towns. He found that large grants were made to schools which were flourishing and effective before any public grants were made, and which would he flourishing and effective if all grants were withdrawn. He found schools in receipt of the grant that were connected with rich congregations, which raised thousands a year to send the gospel to the heathen and diffuse blessings around them. He found schools receiving so much money from the public that they did not know what to do with the capitation grants, but where the money was given away in costly treats and prizes. Was it for such schools as he had described that the public charity was intended? He maintained that it was not so intended—that it was a great abuse of the public charity—and that it was a most improper expenditure of the money voted by the House. He saw by the return that there were schools in receipt of the grant belonging to many Gentlemen in that House, and he did not know where he would tread upon some persons' toes if he made any remarks upon a system of this description. He feared he might create an explosion that would destroy him upon one side or the other. In the debate, on this subject last year, two hon. Gentlemen said they could not agree in the views entertained on this subject by the Member for Leeds, but he found the gentlemen entertaining those opinions represented constituencies in the richest mining districts—districts that were coining coal and iron into gold faster than the gold could be got in California or Australia—districts in which the labourers received the highest wages, amounting to £2, £3 and £4 a week, and where, nevertheless, the 198 schools were receiving public grants. His hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, who had spoken with so much ability the other night, was a most enlightened friend of education and a most liberal man, who employed workmen that were well paid, but he received public money for his school under circumstances in which he (Mr. Baines) did not think it was justifiable to receive such money. He (Mr. Baines) was quite certain, that if not a farthing were got from the public purse, the hon. Member for Bradford's schools would be conducted with the same liberality and effectiveness as at the present time. He trusted the House would consider how many of those gentlemen who now belonged to them would have an interest in the decision they should come to. He did not suppose that mercenary interests would influence them, but an immense number of gentlemen whose schools were receiving public money might have a prejudice on the subject. He thought that many injurious effects arose from this system of bestowing the grants. One was the waste of public money, which added to taxation, and surely that was a consideration that should have some weight in the House of Commons. Then it kept down the school fees paid by parents—the legitimate source for defraying the expenses of education throughout the country. It aided the middle classes to a greater extent than the working classes, and tended to demoralize the manager, teacher, pupil-teacher, and even the parent of the children. He did not use the term "demoralize" in an offensive sense; but it made all of those parties dependent upon the public purse instead of having that self-reliant feeling so honourable in the English population. The system also stunted benevolence; and finally he must say that it tended to demoralize and fetter the Legislature itself. He would cite authorities to the House who were entitled to the utmost weight. The first whom he would quote was the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council of Education, who had told them that—The present capitation grant is often absolutely wasted. People do not know what to do with it when they get it; it is absolutely surplus, and in some cases part of it has been given to the children who have earned it for the schools by their attendance.Mr. Foster, one of the Assistant Commissioners in the mining districts of Durham, in his report stated— 199I was not prepared to find so general a disapproval of the capitation grants as a waste of public money. Several of the wealthy coal-owners, who had placed their schools under the Privy Council, chiefly with a view to the supervision and encouragement of the schoolmasters, remarked that these grants were but saving the pockets of themselves and others who were well able to support their own schools. Of the twenty-seven schools in my district receiving capitation money, I cannot say that one has need of it. Several of them have ample endowments, and all are supported by individuals or committees well able to meet the expenses.The Rev. Mr. Watkin, inspector of Church schools in Yorkshire, in his report for 1860 stated—A working man does not often spend more than one-twelfth of his income in the education of his children, a professional man, not unfrequently, one-fourth or one-filth." "Taking the Church schools in Yorkshire, we find the case thus: In above 70 per cent of them the school fees are under 3d. per week; less than 3 per cent of the whole number pay more than 4d. Probably in many cases the school fees are not allowed to exceed this rate, as no capitation grant is allowed by your Lordships for any child paying a higher fee. There can, I think, be little doubt that your capitation grant has had the effect of diminishing the school fee in some places and of keeping it down in others.He then asks, "Is this, on the whole, a satisfactory result?" and he added—The low fee never makes a good school, nor does it even make a school popular. And as it does not succeed with the school, so it also mischievously affects the home. It tends to demoralize the parent, to teach him a bad thrift, to be grudging when he ought to be liberal in the education of his own child, to think little of and neglect his first duty to him, to leave it either undone at all or for others to do it for him." "I cannot now recall a case where a school has suffered permanently by its rate of payment being raised. I know several places where the school languishes, and is doing little good, with a fee of 1d. per week.He (Mr. Baines) could not conceive stronger testimony than that of the mischievousness of the present system of education grants. Mr. Winder, Assistant Commissioner for the manufacturing districts of Rochdale and Bradford, stated—The school fee is usually paid without reluctance—indeed, with cheerfulness—if the return is supposed to be adequate. Over and over again have I heard of persons offering to schoolmasters to pay more than the sum demanded, if additional attention could be thereby secured for the child's progress. Nothing is more common than to find parents removing their children from cheap schools to others whose charge is 6d. or 8d. a week, in the hope—often the vain hope—that they will be' got on' with proportionate speed.Then again Mr. Cumin, Assistant Commissioner for the maritime districts of Bristol and Plymouth, said— 200Several remarkable instances were related to me of the beneficial effect of raising the fees. The British school in Redcross Street, of which Mr. Turner is the master, is one of the largest and best in Bristol. Some years ago the committee collected large sums of money, and made considerable improvements in the school. But funds were still wanting. They determined upon an appeal to the parents of the children, consisting of the working classes. They assembled them one evening, explained the reason why they had been invited, told them the improvements in the school and the money that had been subscribed, but declared that, notwithstanding, there was still a want of funds. If they would add 1d. a week for each child, that would be sufficient. The appeal was quite successful. The assembly unanimously agreed to pay the extra penny. Nor did the numbers in the school diminish by this addition to the school pence. Thirteen years ago the fee was 1d. per week, and the attendance was barely 100, though the master at that time was excellent. Since then the 1d. was raised to 2d. This produced an increase of scholars. Finally it was raised to 3d., and the numbers are now 400.He added—The workpeople thoroughly understand the distinction between a good and a bad school. I went into a ragged school one evening, and found some boys who were in the habit of paying for their day's schooling. I asked them whether they would be willing to pay the same fees in the evening school. They said 'Yes, provided the teaching was good.'In short the unanimous opinion expressed to me was that gratuitous education is a mistake; it demoralizes the parent by relieving him from the obligation of educating his child, and by destroying his sense of independence; but, besides this, the system is impracticable; for, without the cooperation of the parent, it is impossible to get the children to attend school regularly, and that cooperation can only be secured by compelling the parent to pay something for his child's education.Again, he had the testimony of Mr. Wilkinson, the assistant commissioner for the metropolitan district of St. Pancras, who stated—I have satisfied myself entirely that the payment of school fees is not only beneficial to the schools, but popular with parents, and that the usual commercial test of the price of the article as evidence of its value is applied in full force to education. I met several instances in private schools of children removed from schools at 2d a week to those at 4d.; and the parents could give me no better reason for the change than that the school must be better, as they charged more.The last quotation with which he should trouble the House was from Dr. Hodgson, the Assistant Commissioner for the metropolitan district of Southwark, and he said—This fact strengthens the conviction pressed on me from many quarters, that the fees in public schools might advantageously be raised: in several instances I found that fees had been raised, and the uniform statement was that no diminution of attendance of any importance or continuance had ensued. When we consider that even at 2d. 201 a child's schooling for a whole week costs just the price of one glass of ale, it is surely not unreasonable to think that the school fee might hear to be somewhat raised.He hoped the House would consider that he had adduced sufficient evidence to prove; that the people of England were not in a position to come to that House in formâ pauperis and ask for grants in aid of the education of their children. Did the House consider what the circumstances of the working classes of this country were? He believed the wages of the working classes of England might fairly be taken at upwards of 200 millions sterling a year. One pound a week might be taken as the average wages of working men in England and Wales (meaning not of the men alone, but of their families); and as the number of working men might be taken at four millions, their aggregate wages would be £208,000,000 per annum. Therefore, if they were to expend £2,000,000 in education, that would be one per cent of the wages of the working classes, and which would, he conceived, be amply sufficient to educate them, and which might be raised by themselves alone. If the cost were £3,000,000, that would only be one and a half per cent. Take it in another point of view. It was generally supposed that a working man could have five or six children at school at the same time; but that was a great mistake; the average number of children at school age was not more than two or three. Take it at an average of two and a half, which he believed to be about correct, and that the man was getting £52 a year, and supposing they were at school forty weeks a year, and he paid a penny a week for each, that would be 8s. 4d. a year, or less than one per cent of his wages; if he paid 2d. per week each, it would be only 1⅔ per cent; and if 4d. per week for each child, it would be 3⅓ per cent, which was not a large sum to ask the parent to pay for the education of his children. He admitted that there were cases in which the wages were lower, and others in which they were higher; but, of course, he could only deal with averages. It was perfectly evident, therefore, that they had a large fund untouched, provided they called upon the parents to pay for the education of their children. He might mention also in connection with this subject that Mr. Porter, the late Secretary to the Board of Trade, had calculated that no less than £50,000,000 a year was expended, 202 chiefly by the working classes, on mere indulgence in liquor and tobacco. Of the resource presented by Christian benevolence he need not speak, as it was notorious that whenever a fair case was presented to the people of this country for the exercise of benevolence it was met with a surplus. That benevolence did not exist where the necessity did not exist; it was proportioned to the necessity, and it ceased as soon as the necessity passed away. But that was not the case with Government grants. The demand and the necessity were frequently in an inverse ratio, and the grant was often continued long after the necessity had ceased. It had been frequently stated that an immense improvement had taken place in education, but that it was all to be ascribed to the aid which Government had rendered. He had the utmost possible confidence in stating that a greater progress was made in popular education before Government gave a sixpence to the schools than had been made since. It was well known that in 1818 the number of day scholars in this country was only 674.000; in 1833 the number was 1.276,000; in 1851 it had risen to 2,144,000, and in 1858 to 2,555,000. Now, the proportionate increase in the latter periods was not equal to that in the former. He knew it was said that they could not expect to see so large a proportionate increase as education extended, and there was truth in that; but, on the other hand, it should be borne in mind that the difficulties in the earlier stages of popular education were infinitely greater than those in the later stages. Now the whole population was convinced of the necessity of education, but then the public mind required enlightening, and a taste for education had to be created both in the higher and lower classes. The evidence then, he contended, was sufficient to prove that as great, if not greater, progress was made in popular education before the Government began its grants than since. His confident belief was, that although in some districts the expenditure of large sums might have produced certain results of a beneficial character, yet that if the people were left to conduct their own education, they would find the means of doing it, and that the education so provided would have an infinitely higher moral effect than could be produced by any amount of public grants. It had been supposed that public schools were the mere produce of the public grants, 203 and that the private schools only represented the operation of the self-sustaining principle. So far from that being the case, the public schools were growing in number from the earliest period. He would adduce a remarkable proof of the manner in which public schools of a superior kind had been substituted for private schools of an inferior kind before the Government grants were made to any considerable extent. He alluded to the city of Manchester. A Select Committee of that House sat upon the state of education in Manchester in 1852. Before that Committee a clergyman (Canon Richson) gave evidence, who compared the schools then existing with those which were in existence in 1833, at which time an educational census was taken. In 1852 the number of day scholars in Manchester was 34,354; but the amount of school accommodation in the public schools at that time was for no less than 74,886. Thus there was an immense surplus of accommodation in public schools, without reckoning private schools. How much of that had been provided in the eighteen years from 1833 to 1852? Public schools had been provided calculated to accommodate 43,146 scholars—a considerably larger number than the whole number of scholars in Manchester in 1852. It might be said that they were created by public Government grants. But it was not so. The number of public schools in Manchester was 172, and of those only nineteen had received building grants—the aggregate amount of the building grants being only £8,283. But at the same time a remarkable change went on from the poor and inferior private schools to the better-conducted public schools. In 1833 the number of scholars at the private schools in Manchester was 14,869. In 1851 they had dwindled to 5,551. During the same time the public schools, which in 1833 contained 5,384 scholars, had come in 1851 to contain 19,516. Now, unless the House was prepared to say that there was a much higher degree of virtue in Manchester than in any other part of the country, he maintained that this was an extraordinary proof of the willingness, and ability of the people to provide their own education. Then as to the Training Colleges, it was supposed that they could not exist without public grants. The fact was, the number in England and Wales was very nearly as great in 1846 as it was at present. He did not say that they were so good, or that they educated so many 204 students; but in 1846 the number of Training Colleges in England and Wales was twenty-eight, while now the number was thirty-four; so that the increase was very slight. In the former period they were entirely supported by voluntary contributions, while now, as had been stated over and over again, ninety per cent of their cost was drawn from the public funds. There were many other educational agencies in the country to which he might allude to illustrate the ability and willingness of the people to attend to their own education. To one only would he refer. In 1830 the number of members of Mechanics' Institutes was only 7,000. In the last year, according to a return which he had received from a gentleman who was as well qualified as any one in the country to judge, the number of students in those institutions was no less than 200,000. He need not remind the House that they had had assurances from hon. Gentlemen possessing official experience, that in their opinion it would be better to return to the system of the self-sustaining power in schools, Mr. Harry Chester, Mr. Tremenheere, and others, had said they looked forward to this as likely to come to pass at no very remote period; and even Sir James Kay Shuttleworth himself regarded this as ultimately desirable. He, therefore, did hope, that a case had been made out which would convince the House that a large amount of public money was lavished on schools which had no title to receive it. He hoped the House would also be of opinion that it was not for the real benefit of the people that the House should relieve them from the discharge of their duties. And he believed the House would do infinitely better for the people if it taxed them less and trusted them more.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, I wish to state to the House the reasons why I feel obliged to give my vote in support of the Resolutions of my Friend the right hon. Member for Cambridge University, and against the scheme laid before the House by the Government. I have, on many occasions, stated the views I entertain on this question. I have found no reason to change them, and I think they are confirmed by the Report of the Royal Commissioners and by the speeches of the Vice President of the Committee of Council. Whatever may be our opinions of this Revised Code, there can be no doubt of the great ability and the praiseworthy labour and attention the right hon. Gentle- 205 man has bestowed on this subject. My great objection to the system of the Privy Council has always been, that it is too costly and too centralized, and that it failed to reach the poorer districts of the country. I believe it is too costly because it is too centralized, and because it is both centralized and costly it failed to reach the districts where assistance is most required. These are my views, and they are precisely the views stated in the Report of the Royal Commission, and in the last speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He said that the existing system failed to permeate the country, and that the establishment of schools depended, not on their necessity in a district, but on its wealth; and I find that both the Commissioners and the right hon. Gentleman have stated—what is also my strong conviction—that the present system has, notwithstanding its defects, been of great benefit to the country. What is now our position? I find one most satisfactory fact. The increase in the proportion of the population now attending school is very much augmented. It was small at the commencement of the century; it rapidly increased; it has made rapid progress since the Census of 1851, and is now in the proportion of 1 to 7½, or 13 per cent. At the same time I must caution the House that it must not trust too much to this fact, because the mere number of children attending school is comparatively immaterial, unless the quality of the instruction is good. There is another satisfactory indication of this statistical nature, and one that has no drawback to the favourable inference we may derive from it. It is the fact that while in 1845, of every 100 person married, 41 signed the register with a mark, that number has gradually diminished from year to year; and in 1860 it was reduced to 30 in every 100, without having receded in any one year. That is a fact which proves that education is satisfactorily advancing. But now I turn to a point on which I think further information is desirable—the number of children attending the schools. The Report of the Commissioners states that the number of scholars who in 1860 were on the books of schools in the receipt of the annual grant from the Committee of Council was 917,225; that the number of scholars in public schools of the class for which the grants were intended, but which derive no annual advantage from them, was 675,155. A favourable inference has been drawn from this fact; but those who draw this 206 inference fail to bear in mind the important fact that the number of the children in private schools is 860,304. These private schools include every description of educational establishment, from the schools to which we send our children to the little dame schools of the rural districts, which, we were told in 1851, were kept in 700 instances by schoolmasters or mistresses who were unable to write their own names. Now, in what proportion are these schools attended by the children of the gentry and middle class and the children of the working class? The Commissioners tell us that from the whole number of 860,000; scholars in private schools we must deduct; 286,000 as of the upper and middle class, and that the remainder, or 574,000, will be the children of the working class—of the class for which the annual grants are intended, and who derive no benefit from them. And I think I may say that in the majority of instances these children attend the worst and most worthless schools in the whole country. Putting together the 675,000 children in the unassisted schools, and the 574,000 children of the class for which the annual grants were intended, but who derive no benefit from them, it is inferred that, in round numbers, there are 1,250,000 children to whose education the annual grants do not contribute. Therefore the system which is said to be too costly is, in fact, educating only three-sevenths of the children of the working classes. I object, to the plan of the right hon. Gentleman because it does nothing to moot this difficulty, and to extend the means of education where assistance is wanted. The right hon. Gentleman also complains of the great complication of this plan, and refers to the great amount of correspondence to which the system gives rise, and alludes to the remark of Mr. Lingen, that so great is the correspondence, that the system will break down in the centre if there is not a change. Will the Government get rid of this amount of correspondence by transferring it to the managers? I fear that will not be the case. You will not get rid of centralization by transferring it from the Council Office. In my opinion, there is only one mode of correcting the evil of centralization, and that is by establishing Rome local agency and control in aid of the existing system. The right hon. Gentleman complains, too, of the great expense of this system, and instances the great amount of payment to particular 207 schools, observing that in some cases as much as £4 per head is paid for poor children, sometimes £1 9s., sometimes £1 7s., down to a minimum of 19.s., while the theory of the educational system put the minimum at only 10s. per head. Again, I say the only way to check that improper and undue expenditure is by the employment of a local agency to aid and advise the Privy Council in the administration of the grants. Had such machinery been already in force, it would have prevented the excessive rates which the right hon. Gentleman condemns. I quite agree with the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines), that there can be little doubt that, generally speaking, the schools which receive an undue amount of assistance are those which are situated in wealthy localities, and of which a doubt may be entertained whether they stand in need of any help at all, while those in remote and poor districts require aid which they do not receive. The great evil of managing the education of the 0country through one central office is that you are eventually led into habits of extravagance which it is impossible to check. Under the system of regulating the grants according to results, I believe that the very same schools which are now receiving such very high payments will suffer no diminution, while schools in remote parts of the country, which are most in want of assistance, will, in many instances, have to be abandoned from sheer want of support. I am anxious to know whether it is the desire of the Government to continue the present amount of grants, spreading them over a larger area and turning them to more satisfactory account, or merely to reduce the sum of money voted by this House for Education. I cannot resist a suspicion that the Revised Code is intended not only to promote the welfare of the children of the working classes, but to ease the mind and facilitate the task of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman may remember a speech he made in 1857. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: I have forgotten it.] That speech then made a greater impression upon the House than the right hon. Gentleman intended. I quite remember that the right hon. Gentleman in that speech said that he viewed with great jealousy the increase in the Miscellaneous Votes; he said that a spirit of extravagance was manifested in many of the departments, and that there was an idea 208 abroad that it was popular to propose an increase in the education Votes; and he charged the Gentlemen of the Privy Council office with deluding the public as to the nature and extent of their operations. Does he make that assertion now? The right hon. Gentleman might certainly have been justified in describing the speech of his colleague, the Vice President in July last, as tending to foster a delusion. I do not believe that the latter had any intention to deceive Parliament or the country on the subject, but practically his language produced that effect. I allude to the right hon. Gentleman's statement that the changes which he was about to propose would leave the whole system of the Privy Council intact, and would merely substitute one kind of payment for another. I cannot tell whether he had not then made up his mind as to the nature of the plan; but his words certainly conveyed no idea of the scheme now before us. From what he said, no one could have conceived that the new Code would, on the average, deprive schools of 40 per cent of the assistance which they are now receiving. I am not the advocate of any extravagance, but extravagance consists not so much in the amount of money paid as in the mode in which it is distributed, and the manner in which it is spent. If, under either the old or the new system, assistance is bestowed on schools which want it not, and withheld from those which require it, then we are committing not only extravagance but injustice. I see no hope of obviating those evils except in the manner recommended by the Commissioners—by means of local agency. In their Report the Commissioners say—We have dwelt fully both on the merits and defects of the present system. We have found it stimulating voluntary subscriptions, offering many excellent models of teaching, and adapting itself to the character of the people by leaving both the general management of the schools and their religious teaching free. On the other hand, we have exposed great and growing defects in its tendency to indefinite expense, in its inability to assist the poorer districts, in the partial inadequacy of its teaching, and in the complicated business which encumbers the central office of the Committee of Council; and these defects have led us to believe that any attempt to extend it unaltered into a national system would fail. We have therefore proposed, while retaining the leading principles of the present system, and simplifying its working, to combine with it a supplementary and local system which may diffuse a wider interest in education, may distribute its burdens more equally, and may enable every school in the country to participate in its benefits.209 I deeply regret to learn, from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman last year, that the Government entirely ignored and repudiated that part of the recommendation of the Commissioners. I am also unable to concur in the justice of the reason which the right hon. Gentleman gave for the decision of the Government. He said that anything like a system of rates would be unfair, because it would throw the burden upon a smaller fund; but, at least, the limited portion of the burden which I have asked and the Commissioners have recommended to be thrown upon the rates would be paid by those who derived benefit from it. And is there no injustice under the present system? In the three counties Herefordshire, Devonshire, and Somersetshire, there are 655 parishes having less than 600 inhabitants, the schools in only eight of which are in connection with the Committee of Council. Yet all these parishes contribute to the public revenue out of which the grants for education are made. There is another most important recommendation of the Commissioners, which the Government have passed over in entire silence. I mean the recommendation that a portion of the charitable endowments of the country, which were originally intended to be devoted to purposes of education, but which have now become obsolete, in many cases useless, and in some even mischievous, should be placed under the control of the Privy Council, and that thus a revenue of upwards of £100,000, which might be derived from these small and useless charities, should be applied, in connection with the funds at the disposal of the Council Office, to the useful education of the poor in the districts in which they are situated. It is stated in a pamphlet which I received this morning, and which contains a table of the amount and number of these endowments in different parts of the country, that there are in England no less than 547 endowed grammar schools, and 2,419 other endowed schools. The greater portion of these are now doing no good whatever, but might by judicious administration be made a most important element in the education of the country. In the county of Worcester there are 70 of these small endowments. I am personally acquainted with three or four of them, and they are the worst schools that I know of, though if the advice of the Commissioners had been followed they might be made a useful part of an educational system. I therefore complain of the Government 210 scheme, that, instead of carrying out the recommendation of the Commissioners with reference to such schools, the right hon. Gentleman has neglected and ignored it. I think the right hon. Gentleman has had offered to him one of the finest opportunities of conferring a signal benefit upon this country which any man ever had; for if he had introduced a statesmanlike measure, combining the recommendations of the Commissioners with the best parts of the Privy Council system, he might have settled this question, if not for ever, at least for a long period to come. The right hon. Gentleman and the Government, however, have not had the courage to grapple with the question in a bold and statesmanlike spirit, and the result has been that they have proposed a course which involves all the evils of change without giving us the advantage of improvement. I cannot agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge that it is right to adopt the principle of the Government plan, although we may object to the details, for I cannot admit that in the Government plan there is any principle at stake.
§ SIR JOHN PAK1NGT0N
I am glad to hear that important correction from my right hon. Friend, but I think I have heard other hon. Gentlemen say that they were willing to adopt the principle of the Revised Code. I am prepared to contend that the Revised Code raises no principle. There is a great principle now under discussion, that of assisting the education of the working classes of this country by grants voted by this House, to be distributed among the schools which should prove themselves worthy of assistance; and that principle has been in action from the moment at which the Privy Council system came into operation. I contend that the question before us is not one of principle, but is essentially one of detail—namely, what is the best mode of carrying out that intention of the House of Commons? Perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman will tell me that the principle at stake is the principle of paying by results; but, I contend that that principle, also, has been in operation ever since the commencement of the system, and that the only question is how you are to ascertain those results. We have never paid money to any schools except upon the assurance of the Inspectors that the results were satisfactory. The details 211 of the Revised Code are most objectionable. My reason for dissenting from the conclusions of the right hon. Gentleman, while I do not dissent from his premises, is that, although I am sensible of the defects of the existing system, I am not prepared to abandon or impair that system until I see another in its place which shall be equally effective and equally good. At this late hour I will not enter into the various questions involved in the Revised Code. I will refer only to that portion which relates to the payment on the examination of the children. My view of that important provision is that it will destroy many of our schools, will endanger the beneficial results which we have been obtaining from the Privy Council system, and will aggravate rather than diminish its principle defect, that it does not reach the poor and neglected districts. Archdeacon Hone, of Worcester, than whose views upon this subject no man's were more sound or more matured, and than whom no one was more likely to come to a just conclusion, had published a letter in which he said—In the first place, all who are acquainted with the Revised Code are aware that school managers will now be required to incur additional pecuniary responsibility. In the case of the schools of Hales Owen (his own parish), the sums to be provided will be in 1862, £125; in 1868, £142, and in 1861, £155. To these sums must be added for certificated teachers £45, making the total liability for each of the three years, £170, £187, and £190. Is it wonderful that we should object to find ourselves in so hazardous a predicament?He also speaks at length of the effects of the system of payments upon examination, and the causes that might interfere with it, and sums up its results by stating that it would produce such uncertainty that in the morning the managers might expect a grant of £100, and in the evening it might be uncertain whether it would be £50, or £100. It is impossible for me to state objections of this nature from a person more enlightened, and I want to know what reply the right hon. Gentleman has to give to them. My hon. Friend the Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Banks Stanhope) stated the other night that in his school there were not more than 50 per cent of the children of the labouring classes who gave one hundred attendances in the year. If that be the case in a school situated like that of my hon. Friend, with the residence of a large landholder near, what would it be in a remote rural district, or in crowded suburbs of our towns, where there may be no proprietor who takes an 212 interest in the education of the poor? How, let me ask, will you persuade the managers of those schools to undertake the risk which the Archdeacon shows that the Revised Code involves? And who are those managers? Why, Sir, in the immense majority of cases they are the clergy of this country. Their conduct has been beyond all praise in this matter; and I think it a most unwise and ungenerous return now to tell them—as you are practically telling them—that they must either lose their schools or incur risks which we know it will be impossible for them to avoid. The report of Mr. Fraser has been referred to to-night. The substance of that report is that in a large district which was inquired into by the Assistant Commissioners the average subscriptions of the clergy to the schools are at the rate of 10 guineas per annum, while those of the landowners are at the rate of 5 guineas, and those of the occupiers of land much lower. The burden, in short, fell upon the clergy. There is a report of another Assistant Commissioner which is still stronger, because in that report the payment of the different classes is tabulated, and in one case the clergyman pays £100 a year, whereas the owners and occupiers of land pay not one shilling; and, indeed, in every case the burden of the clergy is greater than that which is borne by any other class. Is it fair, then, or wise to expose those admirable men to the choice of incurring unknown risks? But you do more; you expose them to the certainty of increased payments—how much increased we cannot say, but we know that the average reduction of the grants to those schools will not be less than two-fifths. There is no doubt that the schools in many of the most favoured districts, where no help is really required, will be very well off—they who have much will get much. But in the same ratio the poorer districts will get less. I utterly protest against a plan the result of which will be to undermine the best portion of the present system, and to close the schools in those districts where the clergymen feel that in justice to themselves and their families they cannot undertake additional risks. The right hon. Gentleman quoted a passage from the report on this subject, in which Mr. Watkins, speaking of his whole district, says, "Not one half the children have been at school for a year." How are such children to come up to the requirements of the Revised Code? It is impossible. 213 Then take the case of a child perfectly able to earn the grant. That child may be at the school for the first eight or nine months of the year, he may then go away, and may not be present on the day of examination. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me how the managers are to be reimbursed for the teaching of that child? Take the case of a child who comes into the school shortly before the examination: how are the managers to receive payment in respect of him? Is not this plan a direct inducement to the managers of our poorest and humbler schools to neglect the education of the very children that require the most care? I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to disprove this view of the case. I say the dullest children require the most care, and they are those who will fail on the day of examination. I have already stated my opinion that this plan, if persevered in, will have the effect of increasing the evil, which is now felt under the Privy Council system, of not reaching the poor and destitute. And what is the right hon. Gentleman's answer to that? It is that he is going to propose a lower class of teachers. I have no doubt his intention is to reach the humbler classes; but I maintain that the fourth-class certificate will not meet the case of our low-class schools and those in remote parts of the country. And here f cannot altogether agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Whiteside) as to this portion of the plan. I quite approve it. But will it meet the case? I maintain that it will not. I will take the case of a school in a very remote district, and I want to know how it is to commence its career if it is to be tried by the examination of the children? I maintain that there is no chance for such a school, and that therefore the right hon. Gentleman's plan, notwithstanding the proposal of fourth-class certificates, will aggravate the existing evils instead of remedying them. It is now too late an hour to touch on the other portions of the subject to which I should, at an earlier period, have liked to have alluded; but there is one point on which I cannot refrain from expressing my deep regret. I allude to the withdrawal of all assistance from one class of schools, and that class the one which most required it, the most pitiable and destitute of all—I mean the withdrawal of assistance from the ragged and industrial schools. That subject was inquired into by a Committee last year, and 214 I suppose the right hon. Gentleman will vindicate his plan by reference to the Report of that Committee. I will only pause to say I dissent entirely from that withdrawal. I had hoped the State would not withhold the help from these schools, which needed it more than any others; and I can only add, I regarded that part of the Government plan with the deepest feeling of regret. I did hope, now that an opportunity of revising their system was presented, they would not have neglected those schools. I cannot help expressing my surprise that the noble Duke who was at the head of the Commission, and who so ably discharged the duties which devolved upon him, should as a Member of the Cabinet have consented, as I presume he has, to the introduction of a system which really and practically ignores and repudiates the laborious results of that Commission of which he was the Chairman. I had hoped, from the extraordinary advantages which the Government possessed—having the report of the Commission in their hands, and the Chairman one of their own body—for very different results. We have heard of the unwillingness of hon. Gentlemen to give any party character to these deliberations. If there be any man in this House who has a right to say that he is free from party bias on this subject, I think I am that man. I have on more than one occasion risked my connection with the party with which I act, and with which I have acted during my whole public life, because I refuse to abandon my convictions on this subject. When the Resolutions of Lord John Russell were before the House in 1846, I stood almost alone in giving him my support. I did give him my support, because I believed the principles on which his Resolutions were based were sound. I retain the same opinion still. In the same spirit, had I been able now to concur in the Revised Code, no party consideration should have deterred me from giving it my support; but I am unable to do so, for I regard it us unworthy of the abilities of the right; hon. Gentleman and of the character of the Government. I regard it, too, in reference to the report of the Royal Commissioners, as altogether absurd; and I feel it my duty, as the proposal stands before us, to meet it with my decided opposition.
§ MR. LOWE
The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken (Sir J. Pakington) undertook to show two things—First, why he could not support the proposition 215 of the Government, and second, why he would support the proposition of the right hon. Member for Cambridge University. How, I appeal to the judgment of the House, whether the right hon. Gentleman has redeemed the principal part of that promise. He has shown the House abundant reasons indeed, in his own view, why he could not support the plan of the Government. He accuses me of a want of courage; and, to say the truth, I have heard so much in the contrary sense that I feel quite relieved by the charge. But I must say, that had I taken the advice of the right hon. Gentleman, I should indeed have been courageous. For what does he advise me to do? He says, in the first place, that Government ought to override and entirely disregard the opinion of the able Committee that sat last Session, and which was presided over by the hon. Baronet the Member for Stamford, (Sir S. Northcote) which reported against Government aid to industrial schools. That was the first step, for not taking which, contrary to my own opinion, I am accused of a want of courage. There is another matter, which the right hon. Gentleman deeply regrets. He wishes we had taken the great opportunity afforded by the Report of the Royal Commissioners, and had come down with two twin measures to the House—one, to throw the great weight and burden of national education on the county rates; and the other to confiscate some thousands, of local charities and apply their revenues to the purpose of education. That is the great opportunity which the right hon. Gentleman thinks I have lost, and no doubt, with his views on politics, he regrets that the Government did not embarrass themselves by taking the course he points out. The right hon. Gentleman, however, omitted to show that the right hon. Member for Cambridge University was less guilty in these matters than we are. I have not observed that that right hon. Member has displayed, in addition to discretion, that eminent courage in which the right hon. Baronet thinks the Government deficient. I see nothing in the Resolutions proposed by the right hon. Member for Cambridge University about education being put on the county rates; or about decentralizing education, or about seizing charities; nor one single word about industrial schools. Therefore, why the right hon. Gentleman, in distributing his favours, should have entirely neglected me for the right hon. Member for Cam- 216 bridge University, I am at a loss to understand. I appeal to the fairness and candour of the House to judge whether I have not a right to complain of the right hon. Gentleman's disregard of the spretæ injuria formæ. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will excuse me if I do not follow him in detail into the questions he has raised. At this time of night I could not think of troubling the House with anything which will more legitimately arise when we go into Committee. About the 27th or 28th of February we came to an agreement to resolve into Committee without opposition; and it seems to me, as there is no disputed Motion now before the House, that I should not be justified in taking up time in going over matters which we may have to discuss in Committee, and so doing what briefless barristers are sometimes accused of—Arguing with forceA motion of course,which they might have handed in without comment.
The right hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley), to the excellence of whose speech I beg to bear my testimony, started two difficulties with respect to the plan of the Government. The first was with respect to procuring the attendance of the children for the purpose of examination. I cannot go into details, but will state one fact for the right hon. Member's consideration. A return shows that the number of children present at inspection was 7 per cent above the average attendance, and therefore, in spite of bad weather and illness, I do not think it will be difficult to obtain the attendance of the children at examinations. As to the second difficulty—that of conducting the examinations—I may state that it is the conviction of everybody of experience in my own office that there will be no practical difficulty in examining the children. Mr. Cook, the oldest, most experienced, and ablest of our Inspectors, has been represented as saying that he could examine a school of 150 scholars in an hour and a half; but what he says is, that it would take him four hours to examine a school, two hours and a half being devoted to inspection, and one hour and a half to the examination of the children. This space of time, however, would not enable him to take down the results of the examination; but give him six hours and he would examine a school on the Government plan. No doubt Mr. Cook is a man 217 of great ability, and it would not be fair to take him as a sample of the average of men; but still that is a sound practical opinion, showing the feasibility of the Government plan. I may say the same thing of Mr. Norris, who states that there is no practical difficulty in the task. I have letters by the dozen—not like those of the right hon. Member for Cambridge University, all on one side, but many on both sides—from people who have tried the experiment with the assistance of Inspectors, and they have never stated that any practical difficulty was found in the examination. That is the answer I have to give to the two questions raised by the right hon. Member for North Staffordshire There were many most interesting topics in his speech, which I earnestly recommend to the perusal of those hon. Members who were not so fortunate as to hear it.
I now come to a less agreeable subject—the personal charges made against myself by the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Whiteside) The first charge was that, in the speech I made last year, I appealed to a tribunal which I am not ready to submit to. I said in the speech I made in July last—In fact, the question as to what system of education is to prevail will be regulated by the opinion of those whose hands maintain it. So long as it is the opinion of those who contribute to the maintenance of the schools that the present system is the right and the best one, so long will the present system continue.So much the right hon. and learned Gentleman read, and asked how could I, in the face of that, destroy the present system of the Privy Council? But why did he not read a little further? He would then have read these words—As I am anxious, in addressing the House, to economize time, I will merely now say that it is not the intention of the Government to infringe on the organic principles of the present system—namely, its denominational character, its foundation on a broad religious basis, its teaching religion, and the practice of giving grants from the Central Office in aid of local subscriptions, the propriety of those grants to be ascertained by inspection. I do not require to wait until next Session to make this declaration."[3 Hansard, clxiv., 725.]If the right hon. and learned Gentleman had read that passage, it would have been seen that the system of the Privy Council, of which I spoke as one to be kept up as long as the subscribers to the schools wished it to be kept up, was the system I described in the latter words—the system which is the assumed basis of the change we propose. There is not one of those 218 circumstances which the Revised Code seeks to alter, and the unfairness of the manner in which the passage was quoted from my speech is manifest from the fact that the same speech contains twice over a statement of the very change we propose. The right hon. and learned Gentleman also quoted from a speech I made on the 13th of February last The passage quoted was this—Supposing that we gave half the grant upon the report of the Inspector (which would be the same as giving it absolutely, because they would be sure to get that), &c."[3 Hansard, clxv. 215.]The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that in those words I cast a wilful imputation on the character of the Inspectors. I will quote the authority of a gentleman, equal, in my opinion, to the authority of the right hon. and learned Gentleman—I allude to the right hon. Member for North Staffordshire. He says that any such test as a general inspection of schools is invalid, and that he knows of no instance in which an. Inspector reported completely against a school. I am offering no opinion on the point at this moment myself; but I cannot help thinking that the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire is a full answer to the charge of disrespect of the Inspectors which has been brought against me. Nobody supposes that that right hon. Gentleman would say anything unfair, and I should like to know why a contrary interpretation should be put on the words to a similar effect which have fallen from me. In speaking as I did I had in my mind the practical experience of my own office, and meant no disrespect whatever to the gentleman to whom I referred.
Again, I am told that one great objection to the Revised Code is that it will make the grants uncertain, that it will render it impossible for the managers of schools to know what sums they are to receive from the Government. On what, I should like to know, is that statement founded? On the fact, it would seem, that under the Revised Code they will depend upon examination, whereas now they depend upon inspection. But how can the uncertainty arise unless the present system of inspection led to one uniform result, while examination will be a discriminating process? But am I the only man in this House who holds the opinion on this point which I have already expressed, and am I, because I hold that opinion, to be regarded as being chargeable, not only with intellectual 219 blindness, but also with, moral obliquity?
I now come to the last charge which has been made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman against me. He read a passage from my speech in reference to the prosperity which I said was enjoyed by the schoolmasters, and to my statement that it might therefore be imagined they would be contented. He then quoted these words—"British schoolmasters share the grievance of insufficient salary, but they are free from priestly tyranny." Why, I quoted that improper and insolent statement solely for the purpose of showing that discontent prevailed among the schoolmasters; yet the right hon. Gentleman uses the passage to found on it a charge that I had myself applied that language to the conduct of the clergy of the established Church in their capacity of managers of schools. I trust, however, that even if I were more obtuse than the right hon. Gentleman seems to think, the House would give me credit for being cognizant of the heavy sacrifices which the clergy have made with respect to these schools, and for not being so absurd as to state that, because they exercised a proper and necessary surveillance over them, they were guilty of "priestly tyranny." But the right hon. Gentleman, not satisfied with seeking to identify me with this passage, which I quoted from another, turns round, and assuming that I differ from that passage, charges me with making an unjustifiable attack upon the schoolmasters. Now, I really should have thought that the right hon. and learned Gentleman, coming into this House to make a speech on a subject of so much importance, and having read so many books with respect to it, could have found among the diversified and interesting topics with which it abounds, something better to urge than those comments to which I have alluded, and which have the ring of some miserable squabble in Ireland rather than of anything connected with the great question of English education. I should have thought he might have dwelt on that great question in its financial aspect, and as it bore upon the interests of the poor, without treating us to this wretched harangue about "priestly tyranny." I fear, however, the right hon. Gentleman has taken more pains to make himself acquainted with the "elegant extracts" which he has made from my speech than with the details of the measure under discussion. He talks of the Commissioners instituting a prize scheme; 220 but if he will not take the trouble to inform himself of the details of the question, it is impossible for me to meet arguments arising from information so inaccurate. The essence of the whole plan of the Commission is a scheme founded on examination; and I beg to refer to a passage which will, I think, convince him on that point, in which the Commissioners say they think inspection and instruction as at present carried on must tend to aggravate each other, until the difficulty of the case is removed by means of examination. Yet the right hon. and learned gentleman so put the matter for the purposes of his fluctuating argument as to make it appear they were against examination.
Passing, however, from his speech—which I do with the greatest pleasure—I have to express my acknowledgments for the considerate manner, so far as I personally am concerned, with which this subject has been, generally speaking, discussed within these walls. It contrasts favourably with the language which has been used elsewhere, and I can assure the House I am not going again to trespass upon its indulgence by arguments with, respect to the question of efficiency as involved in the subject under our notice. I think it, however, right to apologize to the House for having on a former occasion been led into error in stating that three-fourths of the children attending the schools were not properly educated. The argument I advanced was based on a conclusion drawn in the first instance by Mr. Norris, one of the Inspectors, from a passage in the Report of the Commissioners, in which they state that three-fourths of the children are withdrawn from the schools before they reach the first class. That argument, it was shown perfectly clearly by a gentleman named Birks, was founded on insufficient information, inasmuch as there is no means of determining the number. Now, I have a word more to say about Mr. Birks's pamphlet. I turned to the summary of its contents, not wishing to wade through all the arguments which he advanced. But instead of a summary I found something like a parabola. I was immediately reminded of Armstrong guns and other deadly weapons of the same character, of which I had enough about my own head without going in search of them. The question at issue was introduced in a parabolic curve, but that curve turned out 221 to be hyperbolic. The Commissioners stated that they found three-fourths of the children left school without going into the first class, that they considered those who did not enter the first class were not properly educated, and therefore inferred that three-fourths were not so educated. Mr. Birks points out that it is erroneous to suppose that all the removals from school were final, and that those children who once left went away from it altogether. In that Mr. Birks was right. But then he proceeds to prove by a system of mathematics and metaphysics blended together in very uncertain quantities that at least half the children pass through the first class. I am not going to trouble the House by entering at length into his demonstration of this proposition. I may, however, observe that he assumes two things, the one being that all removals from the first class were final; the second that, with some few exceptions, no removal from a lower class was final. Now, it may happen that a child is removed from the first class because his parents think that he has got all the benefit of that class and may go to another. Mr. Birks, therefore, notwithstanding his cabalistic ingenuity, has not arrived at correct conclusions, unless these two propositions of his may be said to be so constructed that they neutralize one another. I will now venture to cite a passage from the Report of the Commissioners, because the question is important and the authority high. Mr. Cook was asked this question—You speak of reading, writing, and a certain portion of arithmetic as the essential things, combined with a good knowledge of Scripture; and: you consider that in those essential points the schools in your district are very good?His answer is—The good schools; many are very bad; a great number fall very short of a satisfactory standard, as is shown by our reports. I should also say that I scarcely should visit a school without pointing out that some one of those three subjects requires greater attention. In some schools the reading is bad comparatively; in some the penmanship is indifferent, and the I spelling not so good; and in others the arithmetic; but those three points in reality I consider the tests of a good school, and I attach more value to them because they are points which really can be ascertained positively.The conclusions of the Commissioners are, first, that the existing system of education is too ambitious and requires to be lowered; and, secondly, that it is above the capacity of the schools as at present organized to meet. I have the greatest; respect for the honesty, impartiality, and 222 ability of the Commissioners. Moreover, they had ample means of knowledge, and their statements are confirmed by those who, like the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Foster), admit that the state of education is unsatisfactory, though they differ in some respects from the views I have advocated. We are in the habit of saying that education in England is very good. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University told us that we have one in seven receiving instruction, and that we stand highest in all Europe, Prussia excepted, with respect to attendance. That is a fine thing, no doubt, but education does not consist in children attending school. It consists, rather, in what they learn at school. Upon that point, unfortunately, until we have got some system of examination, we can obtain no precise information; but whatever evidence we have is directly in the teeth of the prevailing impression. In the Staffordshire Militia, consisting of 846 rank and file, only 316 could read well, 281 very imperfectly, and 250 not at all. Compare that with the state of a regiment in South Holland, which is considered the worst-educated of the Dutch provinces, and where the attendance at school is inferior to ours. In a regiment in South Holland, consisting of 7,000 conscripts. 6,000 could read and write perfectly. Let us take another test. In the Birmingham House of Correction it was found that out of 407 persons attending day schools from a minimum of two to a maximum of five years of age 70 were unable to read correctly, 178 were unable to write, and 352 were ignorant of the compound rules of arithmetic, 25 could read well, 12 could write, and 9 knew the compound rules of arithmetic. Of 288 who attended day schools from a minimum of five to a maximum of ten years of age, 28 were unable to read, G6 to write, and 179 were ignorant of the compound rules of arithmetic; 151 could read well, 35 could write well, and 14 knew the compound rules. These figures are not satisfactory. They show that we must not measure our progress in, education by the number of children attending school, but should pay more attention than we have hitherto done to the results actually attained in our schools.
A few words as to the question of expense. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich admits that the schools are. Costly, though he strenuously resists 223 all our attempts to cut off superfluities. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University also says it is time we should look into the expense of our schools. Let the House remember what our system is. We do not educate the children. We merely aid voluntary efforts. We do not pay half the expense of the education, if you include the fees paid by charitable persons as well as the school pence. But what are the results? Why, we educate somewhere about 1,000,000 children, and the Estimate which it will be my duty to submit to the House amounts to £825,000, the number of schools being 9,000. In France they educate the children altogether. They have 50,000 schools, attended by 3,500,000 children, and the amount expended upon education is £1,700,000, the Government defraying the whole expense. We cannot expect to have things so cheap in England as they are in France, but I am instituting a comparison, not between two' perfect systems of education, but between, a system which does not pay half the expense of the education and a system which pays the whole. Take Ireland. Ill that country we pay £285,000 to educate twice as many children, or 10s. a head. The sum is less than we pay in aid of education here, for we give 11s, 6d. ahead. Take Scotland. In that country, as the Lord Advocate told us the other night, we are able to make a munificent offer, giving £1 a head for every £1 raised by local taxation, and yet we save money by the process. I therefore think I have a right to say that our system is at present neither efficient nor cheap. I am challenged to state what the amount of the Estimate will be. How can I possibly tell what trouble will be given in preparing the children for examination? The thing will depend not as now upon inspection, but upon the results of examination. It will depend upon the amount of diligence which may be brought to bear upon the education of the children. How can I measure that diligence? I can only repeat what I have said before, that if the system will not be cheap, it will be efficient; and if it will not be efficient, it will be cheap. But the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Cambridge University says I appear to be doubtful whether it will be either one or the other. If we adopt his system, I have no doubt at all. Every one of his Resolutions proposes a relaxation of rules which are meant to secure efficiency, and every one of them would lead to an 224 increase of expense. The relaxation would destroy efficiency, and the increase of expense would do away with cheapness.
One word as to why I have pressed the question of examination upon the House. I am afraid that many hon. Gentlemen do not sufficiently consider what is the real nature of a school. A school is not a thing which has one definite, ascertainable object. The work of a school is never done. It is infinite. A school aims at a maximum. The problem is apt to educate so many children, but to educate the greatest number possible. A school, like a church, is militant, continually fighting with innumerable foes—ignorance, vice, and crime—which encompass it on every side. It may be compared to a luminous circle surrounded by a black belt. The light spot represents the children who are receiving instruction; the; dark belt the children who learn nothing. The effort of the school is always to enlarge that luminous circle, but its energies, though strained to the utmost, are often unable to make any impression upon the black mass around. Its work is never done; it is always beginning, never ending. Every child born into the world recruits the powers of ignorance, and you require all the inducements and stimulants that can possibly be applied in order to continue, with any hope of even partial success, what must be called a perpetual warfare. That is why I want an examination. I want an examination because I wish to bring to bear upon the managers, to whom we desire to give complete power over the schools, all the pressure I can.
We have been told of cases of hardship. The right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Whiteside) has spoken of St. Ann's, Soho, which he seems to think is in immediate proximity to this House. Our neighbours in Soho are in a bad way; they are migratory and poor, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman asks me what I will do with such a locality as that. What would he have me to do? Does he wish that I should have ten or twenty rules applicable to different parishes? Does he want the time of the Education Department to be spent in adjudicating as to which parish or which group of parishes should be placed under one rule, and which under another? Is he anxious that I should be empowered to say, perhaps to a particular friend, a relation, or an acquaintance, "I shall put you into a 225 group where you will get a large grant?" Does he wish to make the whole education grant so much private patronage in the hands of an irresponsible Minister? If he does not wish that, what does he want? What I say is, that if we are to administer the education fund honestly and fairly, we must have one rule applicable to the whole country. That, no doubt, implies much occasional hardship. It implies much money given to rich places which do not want it, and less to poor districts which do want it., But do not lay that fault at my door. It is the fault of the system—a system which refuses to the State the initiative, in which case we could apportion our grants to the necessities of the country, parcelling it out into districts, or we could establish a rate and frame a local machinery to administer it. Either of these plans might be adopted under a different system; but it is vain to hope that cases of hardship here and there can be prevented by a central office, which, unless it is to be a den of corruption and iniquity, must adhere unswervingly to one fixed rule, applicable to the whole of England. The fault is not in the Revised Code. It lies deeper. It is inherent in the system which Parliament and the Commissioners have deliberately adopted, which I have not felt at liberty to call in question, but which I have believed it to be my duty to carry out loyally and honestly. I go further. I say you must have some test or standard. Well, if so, what standard shall I adopt? Shall I have two standards, admitting of all sorts of jobbery, and dishonesty of administration, and which would soon shatter the whole system to pieces; or shall I have one standard, and make that a loose one, leaving everything to the discretion of the Inspectors? If we adopted such a standard, the result would be that we should drag down every school to the condition of the lowest. What then remains except to adopt a plan which is described as narrow, pedantic, visionary, but which has, at any rate, these advantages, that it is clear, definite, decisive, capable of being realized and judged of by men of ordinary capacity and no great skill. I deplore the cases of hardship which are brought forward; for them there is no remedy. It is in vain to complain of me, in regard to these cases of hardship, and you must go deeper and further.
There is another point which I am 226 anxious to point out to the House, and which has never been brought clearly before it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University has said that we do not test the most important results of a good system of education—meaning religion and morality. I wish the House to understand the precise importance of the Code in this respect. We make our grant upon every attendance above 100, the notion being that the child who attends gets the benefits of the school, whatever they may be, whereas the child who does not attend fails to obtain them. Well, what conditions do we annex to the grant? All the old conditions that are in force now, and we add to it that of examination. The conditions already existing are—that there should be suitable school buildings, that the discipline should be good, that there should be an absence of gross faults, that the master should be a certificated teacher, that the religious teaching shall be certified, either by the Inspector or the managers, as the case may be, to be satisfactory; and we now propose to add that the children shall pass an examination in reading, writing, and arithmetic. How do we enforce these conditions? In three ways. Some are conditions precedent, others are enforced by the total withdrawal of the grant if they are not complied with. Unless an Inspector is satisfied that the more important conditions are observed, the school is not even examined in respect of reading, writing, or arithmetic. Above all things religion is absolutely essential, and not a penny will be granted for any proficiency, in other respects unless the Inspectors or managers are satisfied with the religious teaching of the school. This is a rule that is inflexibly insisted on. The condition of the premises, the discipline of the school, all the things that the Inspector's eye judges of, are required to be certified by him; and if he is not satisfied, we either withdraw the grant altogether, or, if the offence is a minor one, we have the power of withholding a part of the grant. As the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) puts it, the grants now approach very nearly to certainty, because the Inspector shrinks from enforcing the punishment. We hope to make the punishment more efficient by making it milder, but we leave severe penalties in force for minor breaches of the conditions, ranging from one-tenth to one-half of the grant. And vet, with 227 this penalty of withdrawing the grant altogether where religious teaching is not given, we are told that in this Revised Code we neglect religion altogether, that we abolish inspection, and substitute a catechetical examination. [Mr. HENLEY: Hear, hear.] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire appears to be of this opinion; but will he not measure the relative importance attached to these conditions by the amount of penalty assigned for the breach of them? The heaviest penalty imposed is for the want of relilious teaching, and the lightest for the neglect to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. What perversity it is, then, to represent us as sacrificing religion and. morality for the sake of teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord R. Cecil) is haunted by terrors of an inferior class of Inspectors. He need have no fear in this respect. We propose to retain all the duties they now discharge, and we arm them with additional powers. It is necessary for the due performance of the duties of Inspectors that they should be men of the same rank and station as the managers with whom they will have to associate. What the noble Lord has got in his mind, probably, is that an inferior class of men may be necessary to assist the Inspectors. That is, I think, very possible. While we shall still require the practised eye and the accomplished mind of the Inspector, the duty of examining the children in the elementary branches of learning may be delegated to another class of persons. In the smaller schools the Inspectors may be able to perform this duty; but where the schools are very large some additional assistance will probably be wanted. Dr. Temple, in his excellent letter which has been published during the last few days, says it may be desirable to associate with the Inspectors persons to undertake the labour of examination who are less expensive to the public, but there is no intention of altering the position of the Inspectors. In regard to cases of hardship, I will only say that it is no good for the House to spend its time in the attempt to set right individual cases of this kind. You must first settle the basis on which you will proceed. Will you attempt to relieve indigence, poverty, and want with the grant, or will you pay for efficiency? Is the grant to be eleemosynary in its character, or a payment for services faithfully rendered? 228 Let hon. Gentlemen only tell us how we can unite the two, and. I for one shall be grateful for the suggestion. If you cannot unite the two, and if you make your election, I cannot doubt that you will give your money for efficiency, and. not for want. The true way to educate the people is to bring them up to your standard, and not to lower your standard to them. If you attempt to blend the two, you will have an image the feet of which are of iron and clay, and which will be rolled in the dust and the head damaged. Some hon. Members are alarmed at the imminent danger of the destruction of the pupil-teacher system. The pupil-teacher is something more than a paid monitor. He is bound for five years, and therefore the master gets the benefit of an apprenticeship. But what is the tenure by which the pupil-teacher holds his engagement? I am sorry to say that this tenure is utterly precarious. The pupil-teacher executes an indenture with the master of the school; but that document is of no legal validity although the Government has to pay the money, and the pupil-teacher is sometimes visited by the managers with arbitrary dismissal. Only this week a schoolmaster applied to the Committee of Privy Council for permission to take work in the evening. The application was refused, on the ground of his duty to his pupil-teachers. The managers thereupon dismissed their pupil-teachers in order to leave the master free to do what he had desired. They will not do it again, I hope, after the notice that I took of it, but I mention this instance to show how precarious is the condition of the pupil-teachers under the present system. We propose that in future the pupil-teachers shall not be engaged by the master, because, he having ceased to be the servant of the Privy Council, we have no power to interfere. We propose that the pupil-teachers' engagements shall be for five years, with power on one side or the other to terminate it on six months' notice, on a certain payment. The position of the pupil-teacher will then be very much improved. Instead of being turned away at the arbitrary will of the managers we give the pupil-teacher a legal agreement—that is, something on which he may rely. The noble Lord the Member for Stamford made an attack on me the other night for interfering with the pupil-teacher's position by making it more precarious. In answer to a statement as to the position of these teachers, I observed 229 that their indentures were not stamped; but in making that remark I did not for a moment mean to imply that the Government or any gentleman placed in authority would for a moment be guilty of the baseness of taking an advantage of a legal quibble of that kind. I dare say I explained myself imperfectly; but, so far from endeavouring to take any advantage of such a circumstance, in order to render the position of the pupil-teachers less secure, one part of our proposition is, that after this Revised Code comes into operation the Government will see them paid if the managers do not pay them. That being the case, I should have thought my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge would have refrained the other night from making that remark which he addressed to the House in so theatrical a manner, when he exclaimed, "We are told that their indentures are not stamped," and then turned round to receive that cheer which, of course, was given to him. I think that, knowing as he did, what our propositions are in respect of those pupil-teachers, it was hardly worthy of the right hon. Gentleman's high position for him to gain a cheer by such an accusation as that. We all agree that the pupil-teacher system is an excellent one; but some of those Gentlemen who speak so highly of it say, that if the Government cease to pay the whole of the pupil-teachers' salaries, it will cease to live. "It is a good system; it is living and flourishing, but without Government support it will immediately perish." That is what these Gentlemen say; and the dilemma in which they have placed themselves is irresistible. If the system be good, it would continue to live, even if the Government did not support it. If it is bad, it is not worth supporting.
I am aware that there are many other points that are well worthy of notice, and if I do not refer to them more particularly, I hope hon. Gentlemen will attribute my not doing so to the lateness of the hour, and not suppose that I had not considered and prepared myself to meet all the various objections which have been urged in the course of this debate. In conclusion, I shall merely say that this debate has been to me, on the whole, exceedingly gratifying. I have heard, certainly, a general expression to this effect—that the present system cannot go on. There are some exceptions to the general agreement in another proposition. I might, perhaps, 230 name my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire (Mr. Puller), and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), as exceptions; but, with these distinguished exceptions, I am happy to believe that every hon. Gentleman has expressed his concurrence, I suppose I must not say in "the principle" of the Revised Code, but in these two propositions—namely, the simplification of all the grants into one grant, and an examination of the children in reading, writing, and arithmetic. I think it has been conceded that these measures would be desirable. There is a point on which there has been a remarkable coincidence among several of the hon. Members who have spoken in the debate, and I shall refer to it, though it tells somewhat against me. A wish seems to have come from all quarters that something should be done to introduce into the grant a greater security than exists at present. The Government felt that the existing system of national education required some alteration, and it appeared to them that in the simplification of the grants and the introduction of personal examination the remedies lay; but we are quite ready to have these propositions discussed in Committee. And I would ask the House not to suppose that we are not prepared to enter in a conciliatory spirit into a discussion of any propositions that may be put forward when we come to deal with the subject in detail. Our desire is to make the system a satisfactory one so far as it is in our power to do so, and I hope that hon. Gentlemen of all parties will give us their assistance in carrying out that object. What we have to consider is not the interests of schools, or managers, or masters, or teachers, but the education of the working poor of this country.
§ MR. WALPOLE
In the very clever reply which my right hon. Friend has addressed to the House he has been conclusive on some points; but he has not been conclusive on three which I consider most important, and which I shall press when we go into Committee. First, the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the Revised Code will make no difference in the religious and moral training given in the schools. Under the present system a good moral and religious influence and discipline is brought to bear in those schools. I consider that a most important function of those schools. There is a positive reward now given for moral and religious pro- 231 ficiency; but this reward cannot be given under the Revised Code. The second point is with regard to the test of the knowledge acquired in the three elementary subjects. I pressed strongly on the House that the teat is not, in fact, a test of the knowledge that has been acquired by the children attending the school, but a test of the acquisition of knowledge by children found in the school on a certain day. With respect to the third point, I do not think that I acted in the theatrical manner attributed to me by my right hon. Friend when I alluded to his observation on the indentures of the pupil-teachers not being stamped. My right hon. Friend is generally very guarded, but that observation, which my right hon. Friend may have made inadvertently, created a painful impression in the mind of the country. My right hon. Friend has alluded this evening to a case in which a pupil-teacher had been dismissed, as he thought, not very properly. [Mr. LOWE: Most improperly.] Well, ought not the Government to have seen that the indentures of those pupil-teachers were such as to give them security? These three points have not been answered, and I shall certainly press them in Committee.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Matter considered in Committee.
§ House resumed. Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.
§ House adjourned at half after One o'clock.