HC Deb 11 June 1863 vol 171 cc717-33

said, he wished to ask the Vice President of the Council of Education, Upon what conditions be in- tends to allow the publication of the Reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools for the information of the House. As far as he could gather from the reply given to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwitch (Sir John Pakington) in the early part of the Session, the plan his right hon. Friend intended to act upon was to suppress everything in the Reports which did not coincide with his own views, and to publish only what he himself approved. Many Members held that, to save expense, as few Reports as possible should be published; but the present question was not at all one of expense. The printing of the Inspectors' Reports in a complete form would add only in an inappreciable degree to the expense of the blue-book. It had been deemed desirable by the House and the Government that the results of the experience of the Inspectors should not be confined to the Education Office, but should be communicated to Parliament. That had been the usual practice, until the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley), when Vice President, formed the opinion that the Reports were rather redundant, and contained irrelevant matter. He accordingly issued instructions to the Inspectors to divide their Reports into different heads, selections from which were to be given in the blue-book. At that time, the right hon. Gentlemen who now sat on the Government side of the House sat on the benches opposite, and thought it very important that the House should receive the information furnished by the Inspectors exactly as they gave it to the office. His right hon. Friend the Chief Commissioner of Works moved that the Reports should be laid on the table of the House unaltered and unabridged. There was a debate on the subject, in which the noble Viscount, the President of the Board of Trade, and other Members of the present Government supported the Motion, and the result was that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Adderley) gave way, and issued a circular in which he expressly requested the Inspectors, after giving a statement of the condition of their schools, to add any practical suggestions which their experience furnished. Last year, however, his right hon. Friend effected a great change, not only in the conditions of the grant, but in the mode in which the Inspectors conducted their examination of the schools. That was just one of those measures on which the House would desire to have practical information; but, at the very same time, the right hon. Gentleman issued a Minute which had never been published, but the sense of which, as he gathered from the reply to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich, was, that if a Report contained anything of which the Vice President disapproved, it was to be sent back to the author for revision; and if after that it still contained matter which was objected to, it was not to be published. Now, in Yorkshire they had one of the ablest and most experienced of the Inspectors—Mr. Watkins—of whom a very high opinion was entertained in that part of the country, and whose Reports, he was sure, were all very valuable. Last year Mr. Watkins sent in a Report, which was returned to him to be altered; and as he declined to do so, the Report was not published. The Reports of two other Inspectors for last year were also suppressed; and he had heard that this year the Reports of Mr. Watkins and of two other gentlemen were to share a similar fate. In his opinion the House had also a right to complain that the blue-book had not been presented before they were called on to vote the money. There was no reason whatever for any delay, because the Inspectors were instructed to make up their accounts, and send in their Reports in January. If the blue-book was to be of any use to Members, it ought to be delivered before they passed the Estimates. He doubted, however, whether, under the peculiar management of his right hon. Friend the Vice President, the Reports would be of much value to the House, because they would either contain no opinions at all, or opinions all on one side of the case. He should, however, like to see the Report of the Committee of Council, and the Minute containing instructions to the Inspectors, the existence of which he should have hesitated to believe but for the right hon. Gentleman's statement to the right hon. Member for Droitwich. The right hon. Gentleman's reason why Mr. Watkins's Report was not printed was because it contained "controversial matter." He supposed that the House was not to infer that that meant polemical matter. He had never seen the Report, but he could not suppose that Mr. Watkins would do last year what he had never done before. No, Mr. Watkins's crime was that he had been so irreverent and blasphemous as to controvert opinions of the Vice President. What he wanted, then, was—first, the information, unaltered and abridged, which Mr. Watkins had communicated; and second, an interpretation of what his right hon. Friend meant by "controversial matter." This was really a much more serious question than it at first appeared. It was not a question between the Council and the Inspectors, but between the Council and the House. The Reports were worth nothing unless they contained a full and complete expression of the opinions and experience of the Inspectors for the information of the House, and he held that they ought to be produced in that form. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would now consent to publish the unabridged Reports. The House ought to be allowed to judge for itself. If the Reports were not such as should be placed before the public, the right hon. Gentleman would stand acquitted; but if they were practical suggestions by able and experienced men, the House would derive considerable advantage from them in discussing the Education Estimates.


Sir, I agree with the hon. Gentleman in thinking that this is a matter of considerable importance. It amounts to this—whether in the Education Department there shall or shall not be that discipline which exists, and is found necessary, in every other Department of the State. The facts may be briefly stated—The Inspectors of Schools report to the Council Office, and the Council Office, having received their Reports, is to judge whether or not it is expedient to lay them before Parliament, printed as an appendix to its own Report. The hon. Gentleman asked me on what conditions I propose to exercise that discretion, and he said, that according to the present mode of dealing with them, the Reports of the Inspectors are "cooked." Now the fact is, as appears from his own statement, that they are not "cooked," but are sent back to the Inspectors for alteration and correction. The Council Office declines to interfere with them.


explained that he did not mean to convey the impression that the Reports were "cooked." What he intended to say was, that the blue-book was "cooked"—as containing nothing but one-sided statements.


The blue-book contains the Reports, and the Reports, says the hon. Gentleman, are not "cooked." How does the cookery get into the book? Of course, I may not be able to give a very definite or satisfactory answer to the hon. Gentleman, but I shall give the best I can. It was in my time that the Minute was made to which he has alluded, and which declares that the Reports of the Inspectors ought to be confined to the state of the schools examined by them, and to practical suggestions for their improvement. That was no new doctrine, but was the result we drew from an examination of a great number of instructions issued by our predecessors. We accompanied that Minute with a statement to the effect, that if it appeared to us that a Report did not conform to the prescribed conditions, we should send it back to the Inspector, requesting him to make the necessary alterations. The hon. Gentleman will doubtless say, "Why not point out to the Inspector the parts to which you object?" That is an open question; but the reason why we have not acted thus is because we found, when we did point out the objectionable parts of the Reports, that we got into controversy with the Inspectors, who naturally defended what they had written, and refused to make the requisite corrections. They said that what we required was garbling, or, as the hon. Gentleman calls it, "cooking" their Reports. We therefore thought it best to send the Reports back without remark, leaving the Inspectors, who are gentlemen of great intelligence, and who know perfectly well what we mean, to make the necessary alterations themselves; but intimating that if the Reports were not made to conform to our Minute, we should not lay them before Parliament. That is the practice which has prevailed for the last two years. The hon. Gentleman represents me as saying in effect, that if the Inspectors agree with me, I will print their Reports, but not otherwise. I need hardly say that there is nothing of the kind in our Minute. I am afraid I cannot lay down any exact conditions under which we may think it proper to print the Reports; but I can tell the hon. Gentleman some cases in which we do not think it right that the Reports should be laid before the public. We do not think it proper to print and lay before the public a Report in which the writer states that the rural population of England are in the lowest state of vice and depravity, and that this is owing to their being of the Protestant religion. Nor do we think it proper to publish the Report of an Inspector who says, "I am not allowed to go into the discussion of matters on which your Lordships have made Minutes, but I may tell you what I constantly hear in my district; they say—" and then follows everything that could he advanced injurious to the policy of the Department. I do not say that these matters are not open to controversy, but I hold it to be almost impossible to work any Department of State unless those gentlemen who fill subordinate offices in it, and on whose assistance the chiefs must rely, are loyal to the Department. They are not to surrender their opinions, to which they have as much right as any other persons in the world; and, indeed, their opinions may be more valuable than those of the men whom accident may have made their superiors in office—but, at any rate, they should maintain silence if they cannot agree with the heads of their Department. No person will say that subordinates ought to be allowed to write controversial letters in the newspaper disputing the policy of their superiors. So with respect to official Reports laid before this House. I hold that it is the clear duty of every Department to prevent the writers of Reports from entering into controversy as to matters decided upon by the chiefs of the Office—in other words, as to the policy of the Department. It is also the duty of every Department to prevent these gentlemen from entering into arguments in support of its policy. If the one is to be excluded, the other should be excluded also. Such Reports—Reports, for example, in which you find something like this—"I know I ought not to go into these questions; but if I had been permitted to do so, I should have said" so and so, giving along string of objections to the existing system—are not fit to be laid before the public. That is the view upon which we have acted with respect to the Reports made to us. If the House chooses to say that the Inspectors are to report directly to it, of course we shall instruct them to obey the order; but if the Reports are to pass through our hands, I hold it to be the first principle of official duty to enforce that sort of reticence and reserve which all official men are bound to practise. Men do not necessarily agree in opinion because they act together. They reserve those opinions on which they do not agree; and no public Department, but particularly one which has a most difficult and even invidious duty to perform, can be expected to carry on its operations with success, if it is to be obliged to print controversies maintained against itself by the very persons whom it employs to carry out the objects intrusted to its charge.

I come now to the Question of the hon. Member for Elgin (Mr. Grant Duff). I have no doubt the case he has stated is true in all its outlines, and rests upon evidence that cannot be refuted; but I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman when he says he thinks that the proposal of the Commissioners on Education, with respect to the mode of dealing with charities, ought to be adopted. That proposal is, that charities ought to be handed over to the Committee of Council for Education, who should decide on all matters connected with them, subject to an appeal to another Committee of Council. I will not insist on the great anomaly of an appeal from one Committee of the Privy Council to another, but it appears to me that the Commissioners concluded rather hastily that a necessity existed for disturbing the present arrangement. I am one of the Charity Commissioners, and I have no hesitation in saying that a more excellent or a more efficient tribunal does not exist. I can make that assertion without any breach of good taste, because I have no part in their decisions, being merely the medium of communication between them and the House of Commons. They have effected, and are effecting, immense improvements, and I cannot understand, no case being made against them, why those powers which they are using with so much discretion should be taken out of their hands. I think, further, that it would be most objectionable to arm any political Department with such powers. That would be placing in its hands an immense amount of local influence, and it would be quite impossible to escape the suspicion of partiality and corruption. When trustees have to be elected for a charity, there is sure to be a contest between the Whig and Tory parties, and how could a Department composed of gentlemen belonging to one or other of these great parties give anything like satisfaction? It appears to me, with every respect to the Commissioners, that their recommendation was ill-considered. The hon. Gentleman asked me whether I could throw out any suggestions on this subject. Let me offer some suggestions in the direction of improving and strengthening the machinery we already possess. In 1860 a Bill was passed for extending the jurisdiction of the Charity Commissioners. It has been attended with beneficial results; but I was obliged to omit a few things which would enormously increase their power of doing good. One is that the Commissioners should be allowed to intervene in the affairs of a charity, even though no inhabitant of the parish calls upon them to do so. The very cases which require interference most are in parishes where the people are so debauched, and so mixed up with the plunder of the charity, that not one of them will come forward and demand the assistance of the Commissioners. Let me suggest another improvement. It is now the law that the Commissioners can only intervene in the affair of a charity above £50 when they are applied to by a majority of the trustees. It is often very difficult to get a majority of trustees. I think that in such cases they should be permitted to act, unless expressly forbidden by a majority of the trustees. Again, the 14th section of the Act of 1860 allows a majority of the trustees to dismiss the schoolmaster, except in the case of a grammar school. If that exception were done away with, much litigation would be prevented. As to the charities themselves, it appears to me, upon the principles which regulate all kinds of property in this country, that it would be desirable to allow greater liberty to the Court of Chancery, after a certain period, to take cognizance of these matters. It seems to me desirable that not only the Charity Commissioners, but also the Court of Chancery, should have greater liberty in dealing with public bequests after a certain period had elapsed, and that in this respect charitable bequests should be put upon the same footing as private bequests, There should also be a larger power of dealing, with charities for which no one has a word to say. If anything is done, it should be in the direction of strengthening the existing machinery. With regard to educational charities, with which I feel more particularly concerned, I cannot wish very much that the number of endowed charities for the education of the poor were increased; for they seem to me very inefficient for their object, and to be likely to continue so It appears to me that the State has undertaken, by founding an Educational Department, to endow poor schools in the best way in which that can be done, if it is done at all—namely, by giving money only in exchange for efficiency as tested by examination and other means. It is precisely in that point that all endowed charities are deficient. Whether they are well or ill-conducted, they receive their money just the same. I may here mention that an alteration has been lately made by the Committee of Council in this respect. Heretofore it has been the practice in making grants to schools to take no notice at all of their endowments, and to apportion them their share of the grant wholly irrespective of their endowments. That has very often led to great mischief and waste, because grants were given to schools which were already possessed of abundant resources. A new regulation has therefore been adopted, by which, wherever a school has an endowment, the amount of such endowment is subtracted from the amount of the grant. By that means endowments will be applied in aid of the educational grant; and that is the utmost we can accomplish with our present powers.


I confess, Sir, that I am more struck with the courage than with the discretion of my right hon. Friend in vindicating the course which the Committee of Privy Council on Education has thought proper to adopt in regard to the Inspectors of Schools. I think that that course is an extremely invidious one, and that it must necessarily detract largely from the weight due to the Reports made to this House. Indeed, I cannot see the use of those Reports unless they afford us information on which we can rely, bearing upon a difficult question which from time to time comes under our discussion. The Department of Education has thought proper to adopt certain arrangements for carrying on the educational system of the country. Some of those arrangements I hold to be extremely impolitic and unjust. I wish to know how they work; and where are we to look for information on that point, except in the Reports of the Inspectors? I happen to know that some of the Inspectors agree with me, and do not agree with my right hon. Friend. I want to ascertain, for example, how the pupil teacher system works. My right hon. Friend says that the Department has determined on certain principles, and that the Inspectors have no right to inquire into them or call them in question. But I am anxious to know from gentlemen of experience, who have the best opportunity of seeing and judging of the practical operation of those principles, how they actually do work; for it is by that means only that we can get at the truth. I happen to know that the Reports of several of the Inspectors have been so garbled by the Education Office that when presented to this House, if they are to be presented, and I believe they will not, they would be quite worthless. But where, I repeat, are we to look for information to guide us, if not to the Resorts of these experienced gentlemen? Certainly, if my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) moves on a future occasion for the production of the Inspectors' Reports as sent in to the Committee of Privy Council, I shall give him my hearty support, and I trust the House will agree to that Motion. If any body will compare the Reports of the Inspectors as now laid before the House with those of the gentlemen on whose Reports he Report of the Royal Commissioners was winded, they will perceive a marked difference between the two. The Inspectors sent out by the Royal Commissioners, at all events, spoke the truth as it presented itself to their own minds. They complained of many things in the system of the Privy Council; Mr. Frazer, in particular, pointed out the preposterous length to which some of the Privy Council regulations were pushed. He showed that no school was allowed to receive the grant in which the desks were not of a particular pattern—namely, parallel desks—a restriction altogether absurd and ridiculous. That was the opinion formed by Mr. Frazer, after much experience. He also arrived at the conclusion that the masters' certificate was not necessary to be enforced. There are many points of that kind which these gentlemen, in making their Reports, lay before the Royal Commissioners; and those Reports are valuable precisely because the men who drew them up were perfectly free to express their own opinions. But if the Reports of School Inspectors are to be suppressed whenever they happen to be distasteful to the feelings or unfavourable to the policy of the Privy Council Office, they will not be worth a farthing; and it is mere playing with this House, and presuming upon its ignorance, to lay them before it. I trust, therefore, that the House will express itself so strongly on this matter that these Reports will not in future be kept back or tampered with, but that we shall be permitted to know, upon the authority of gentlemen most competent to judge, how the present system is really working.


presumed that the object of having Reports from the Inspectors of Schools year by year was that they might know the condition of the schools for which they voted public money. He must confess, that for years before he had the honour of holding office in the Education Department he thought the School Inspectors had made Reports full of most irrelevant matter, often almost degenerating into abstract disquisitions on the theory of Education, instead of giving an account of the condition of the schools to which public money was applied. He had therefore attempted to correct the character of the Reports by laying down a rule that they should be arranged under different heads, about five in number—such as the state of the school buildings, the state of education in the schools, the school apparatus; and the last head was a general one—namely, any suggestions which the Inspector wished to make. That proposal of his was brought under discussion in that House, when the House evidently thought it would be better not to lay down rules for shaping Reports in the office; and therefore he abandoned his proposition for reducing them under specific heads; but he distinctly retained for the Department the power—which he felt it not only his right, but his duty to do—of striking out of the Reports, notwithstanding that expression of the House's opinion, what appeared to be irrelevant matter, and such contents as were clearly not of the nature of a Report. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) sought to make the Inspectors the censors of their own Reports. Whether that plan was better than his he would not undertake to say; but the two plans had the same object—namely, to confine the Inspectors to a statement of the condition of the schools, and relevant suggestions about them. The House now seemed to take exception to the right hon. Gentleman's speech, having apparently understood his remark, that the Inspectors had no business to enter into controversy with the office, to imply that he meant they had no right to impugn his policy. For himself, he still was of opinion that it was not the province of the Inspectors to enter into controversy on the theory of education or on the policy of the Government. The Minister who had the conduct of the Department was responsible to that House, which had laid down the general rules for his guidance, and intrusted the Department with by-legislation subject to their sanction. The School Inspectors were not responsible to that House, and their office was simply to inform the Department how their grants were being applied. It was natural, perhaps, that gentlemen of such high mental calibre and attainments as those Inspectors should travel a little beyond the sphere of the humble duty assigned them by the Department, and when they had the opportunity should indulge in the display of their powers to deal with the philosophy of education; but it was distinctly incumbent on the Minister to prevent the abuse of that opportunity. Would the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) say, that if an Inspector sent in, under the disguise of a Report, what was really a pamphlet on Education, it was the duty of the Vice President of the Committee of Privy Council to publish that pamphlet at the public expense and lay it on the table? [Mr. W. E. FORSTER expressed dissent.] If, then, the hon. Gentleman would not lay down broadly the proposition that these Reports should not be revised by the Office in order that irrelevant matter might be expunged, the simple question remaining was, whether in any specific case the right hon. Gentleman had not gone beyond that length, and struck out of any Report sent to him what he ought not to have struck out. It was a specific and not a general question that was before the House. Instead, therefore, of laying down a general proposition which would be disadvantageous to the public service, let the hon. Member move for the particular Report in regard to which he maintained that a too strigent censorship had been exercised. That was the legitimate way for the hon. Member to proceed, and he concluded that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) would not resist the Motion, and then the House would be able to judge whether or not the right hon. Gentleman had exercised a wise discretion.


said, that unfortunately there appeared to be a natural antipathy between the Vice President and Inspectors. He thought the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had given the weight of his authority to mislead the House as to the question before it. Nobody had said that Inspectors were to be allowed to put in their Reports just what they liked. All they objected to was that the Vice President should constitute himself, or force the Inspectors to constitute themselves, censors of their Reports, for the purpose of keeping out, not philosophical disquisitions, not matters which were totally irrelevant, but matters which were disagreeable to the Minister of the day. The Vice President had talked about the necessity of loyalty to the Department, and about not allowing subordinates to enter into discussion with the Department on delicate subjects; but there was one thing more important than loyalty to a Department, and that was loyalty to the House of Commons. This arrangement, by which the Inspectors were bound in every case to back up the Vice President, by which they were forbidden to say anything to which he might object, or in any way to condemn the policy to which he had pledged himself, seemed to him to be nothing less than a conspiracy for keeping truth from the House of Commons. The Vice President had no independent interest in the matter; he held his office merely to carry out the principles of which the House approved; and he came forward and said that he had a right to intercept, in its way to the House, the evidence on which they were to judge of his policy. A more—courageous it had been said, but he must say outrageous—proposition had never been submitted to them. It was perfectly right that discipline should be maintained in the Education Office as in other public offices, but it should be maintained in the same way He did not object to discipline, but he objected to the instrument by which discipline was to be carried out in this case. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to imagine that the Inspectors wrote their Reports, not for the instruction of the House, but for their own personal pleasure; and that if an Inspector did wrong, the way to punish him was to keep his Report from the eyes of Members. But conceive; the application of such a rule to the other Departments of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman had challenged a comparison. Well, take the Foreign Office. Suppose a Consul at Aleppo, Belgrade, or Constantinople had done anything to displease the noble Lord at the head of the Government, would it not be thought an extraordinary answer, if, when the Consul's despatches were moved for, they should be told that the Consul had been a naughty boy, and that it was impossible to lay his despatches before the House. Papers were written for the instruction of hon. Members, and not for the amusement of the persons who wrote them; and if the right hon. Gentleman was anxious to practice severe discipline with those under his charge, he must find some way of doing it other than that of keeping from the House information which the House required. It was worthy of remark that this difficulty had not arisen before. They had had two or three Vice Presidents, and the system of Inspectors had been in existence twenty years, but never before bad there been any necessity to suppress the opinions of Inspectors. [Mr. LOWE: The necessity has arisen very often.] At all events, it has not been acted upon. [Mr. LOWE: Yes it has.] Then the right hon. Gentleman would have an opportunity, through one of his Colleagues, of stating the facts to which his interruption referred; but he doubted very much whether any previous Vice President had ever dared to mutilate a Report presented to the House, because it contained expressions hostile to his own policy, He could only remember one analogous case—that of the noble Viscount mutilating or suppressing despatches relating to Affghanistan; and he doubted whether among the noble Viscount's titles to fame that would take a very prominent place. He wanted the House to bear in mind bow the conflict had arisen. The right hon. Gentleman was an eccentric theorist; the Inspectors, being practical men, were obliged, in the execution of their duty, to report facts at variance with the right hon. Gentleman's theories. That was the reason why the difficulty had arisen. Previous Vice Presidents had not been theorists, and they had not quarrelled with their Inspectors. If they found the head of an Office, not brought up in it, systematically quarrelling with those in it, they might safely conclude that there was something wrong; and when practice and theory were so openly at variance, it was most probable that the theory was to be condemned. The right hon. Gentleman had not alluded to a missive recently directed against the Inspectors. The Inspectors were men of education and high standing, and they were paid high salaries. This made them inconveniently independent men, who would not report what the Vice President desired. They would hold opinions of their own, and these opinions were disagreeable to the Vice President. It was therefore deemed desirable, if possible, to substitute for them a more dependent class of men. The right hon. Gentleman, fully alive to the necessities of his own position, had issued a Minute to constitute a set of assistant Inspectors—of men who had been pupil-teachers, who were to be paid only £100 a year, and who were to be intrusted with the power of sitting in judgment upon the managers of schools in the country, and of deciding whether they had conducted the schools in such a way as to deserve the continuation of the grant from the Treasury. These assistant Inspectors, however efficient they might be, he need not tell the House, would be more humble slaves to the Vice President than the Inspectors. He did not know whether these assistant Inspectors were to send in Reports, but the decision whether the schools should receive the Parliamentary grants or not was to be committed to men who were to receive £100 a year, and who themselves had been pupil-teachers in the schools which they were called upon to examine. It was a serious degradation of the office of Inspector, and a still more serious degradation to which the conductors of schools would have to submit. It was all a part of the bureaucratic plan of the Vice President, by which he hoped to master his own office, so that when he appeared before Parliament there should be no one to bear testimony against him, and all the information for the guidance of the House should be percolated through himself, to the exclusion of all that was disagreeable or discordant to his views. He trusted the hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) would take an early opportunity of moving for the Reports, so that they might have a definite issue before them.


said, it would be much to be regretted if the statements made that evening should lead to a recurrence of what was a great evil some years ago—namely, the inordinate length of the reports of the Inspectors of Schools. Having, for several years, carefully looked at these Reports, he knew that as far as the convenience of Members was concerned, a great improvement had been effected, and, instead of a large mass of verbiage, Members had the views of the Inspectors submitted to their consideration in a clear and concise form. He had the highest opinion of Mr. Watkins, and he believed Mr. Watkins had done much for the cause of education, but he was a special offender in this respect. He found that in three years taken at random, the length of his Reports was respectively 78 pages, 84 pages, and 92 pages; while the average length of the reports of the other Inspectors in the same period was only 50 pages, and one most valuable Report did not exceed 40 pages. On the other hand, however, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman (the Vice President) would not persevere in his intention to refuse the House an opportunity of seeing what the views of the Inspectors were on the controverted questions which it had to decide. If he did, the Reports would be looked upon as garbled, and the very object he had in view would not be accomplished. He would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should say to the Inspectors, not "I will refuse to print your reports," but "I object to your going into long arguments and disquisitions upon matters about which the House does not want you to report." What the House wanted to know was the results of their experience as to the working of the present law, the requirements of the particular districts visited, and the recommendations which they deemed necessary to make for improvements in the system.


understood the right hon. Gentleman (the Vice President) to say that the Charity Commissioners possessed the confidence of the people, and that they should have larger powers on account of the power generally brought to bear in the election of trustees. In his own town he could answer for it that they had appointed trustees of a charity without any political bias. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Charity Commissioners should have more power in consequence of the political bias which existed throughout the country; but, in truth, it was the political bias of the Charity Commissioners themselves which had given such offence to the country. He had always looked upon the Charity Commission as a gross Whig job, and he believed that there was not a single Commissioner, assistant Commissioner, or other official connected with it who was not a Whig; while the vacancies which had taken place during the tenure of office of the present Government had invariably been filled up by the appointment of members of the Liberal party. That being the case, he should like to know from the Vice President of the Committee of Council how he could suppose, that if further powers were placed in the hands of the Commission, their duties could be likely to be discharged in a manner satisfactory to the country?


said, he had often looked into the Reports formerly published by Inspectors of Schools, and that he had been struck by the fact, that whenever an article appeared in any of the Quarterly Reviews on the subject of popular education, he was sure to find a reprint of the article in those Reports, and that the same statements and arguments were repeated in them year after year almost ad nauseam. For his part, therefore, he thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the course which he had adopted.


observed, that the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy) seemed always to rejoice in the suppression of these Reports. At the close of the Session of 1861 he (Mr. Newdegate) complained to the House that out of three Inspectors of Roman Catholic schools the Reports of two of them were (suppressed, and one only was given to the House, which one was not of a satisfactory tenour. The hon. Member (Mr. Hennessy) on that occasion declared that nothing could be more satisfactory to him than that the Vice President should keep the House in the dark on this subject. It now appeared that the same practice had been extended to the Reports of Inspectors of Schools other than Roman Catholic schools; and he really thought that the House was not justified in voting the public money upon the understanding that they were to be informed by Reports of the Inspectors, unless they had those Reports fully before them. If they were only to have one side of the question, and that the sunny side of this educational organization, presented to them, he thought that they would be better without any Reports at all, for such as were furnished would simply mislead them. It would be far better that the Vice President should give them his own account of what had been done, for then, at all events, the statement would be made on his own responsibility. He hoped that the House would represent to the right hon. Gentleman that they should find it their duty to express their opinion by a Motion and a division unless he corrected a practice which amounted to something like systematic delusion of the House. The right hon. Gentleman shielded and propped up his opinion by furnishing partial information—information that might assist his own views—whilst he suppressed those Reports which were adverse to his own opinion. This was a serious matter, considering the large sum which the House voted for education, and also considering that it was proposed to have an enlarged system of inspection; so that they would spend still more money on account of Reports which were furnished in so imperfect a manner.