HC Deb 15 June 1863 vol 171 cc947-58

brought up the Report of Supply.

Resolutions (June 11) reported.

First Seven Resolutions agreed to.


said, he was sorry he was not in his place the other night when the Education Vote was discussed, because there was a point of considerable importance to managers of schools on which he should have wished to make a few remarks. Perhaps the House would permit him to do so at that time. As that was the first year in which the Revised Code had been in operation, his object was to ascertain exactly how the managers of schools stood under that Code. Under the former arrangements the Government gave comparatively little directly to managers of schools, but they assisted education in this way:—they examined a certain number of teachers, granted them certificates according to their proficiency, and allowed them an augmentation grant proportioned to the character of their certificates. The effect of that augmentation grant was, that the managers of schools were able to obtain the services of certificated masters on more reasonable terms than they could otherwise have done. At the same time, the Government were in the habit of paying the salaries of the pupil teachers employed in the different schools under the Privy Council system. In those two ways the managers of schools received substantial assistance from the Government. The year before the last the Government proposed to alter entirely the plan by which aid was given to education. They proposed, in lieu of the grants to masters and teachers, to give a single capitation grant to managers of schools, and out of that grant the managers were to pay the masters and pupil teachers for themselves. They stipulated that the managers of schools should be bound, if they wished to get any aid from the Government, to undertake to provide for the existing pupil teachers during the time their apprenticeships had to run. In order to; make the existing pupil teachers quite safe, they undertook to pay them if the managers of schools failed to do so, but in that case they took away the grant to managers altogether. Afterwards the Government consented to modify their scheme, agreeing in all cases to see that the pupil teachers were borne harmless, and if any of the capitation grant were left, the surplus was to go to the managers. In few words, they constituted a charge upon the capitation grant for the benefit of the pupil teachers. The question to which he wished to call attention was, how that affected the masters. At first the masters were alarmed by the Revised Code, because they said they should no longer get what they had been in the habit of receiving from the Government, but should have to look entirely to the managers of schools; in other words, they would be exchanging a certainty for an uncertainty. That point was pressed on the Government at the time, and the Government said they would provide that the managers of schools should be obliged to employ certificated masters, and that unless there were a special agreement to the contrary, they should pay them what they had been in the habit of paying them before. The Government consented, in fact, that the masters should have a lien upon the capitation grant, and that that lien should be a first charge upon the capitation grant to the extent of the former augmentation grant. According to the previous arrangement, a master who obtained a certificate was entitled to a certain augmentation grant. Suppose the case of a master who was entitled to £20. He was not only entitled to receive £20 in the form of an augmentation grant from the Government, but the Government stipulated on his behalf with the managers that the latter should pay him as salary at least twice as much as the amount of his augmentation grant, so that such a master would have been entitled to £60. It was distinctly understood by those who took part in the discussions of last year that the compromise effected between the Government and the opponents of the Revised Code amounted to this, that the masters should still continue to be entitled to advantages equal to the minimum of those which they enjoyed before—in other words, that such a master as the one supposed should be entitled to his £60, £20 out of the capitation grant and £40 from the managers. Because, however, of the altered system, it was not possible that the charge could be divided as before, and the managers were told that they must provide the master with three times the amount of his capitation grant. The Government proposed a Resolution to the effect that the first charge on the capitation grant was to be the master's lien for the amount of his augmentation, and that the next charge was to be the payment to the pupil teachers. It was also distinctly understood, that if the whole amount of the capitation grant were insufficient to pay the charge for pupil teachers, the Government should make up the deficiency, and therefore the managers anticipated, that if they got a capitation grant large enough to pay the whole of the master's augmentation grant and half of the pupil teachers' salaries, they should be quite safe, inasmuch as the other half of the salaries would be paid by the Government. But by a new code of instruction since issued by the Education Committee to their Inspectors, a wholly different sense had been given to that arrangement. The point was one of great importance, because the matter was settled last year by a kind of compromise; and he believed, indeed, that if the Government had taken a division on the Revised Code as originally framed, they would have been defeated by a considerable majority. The Government, however, did not wish to come to that point; they made concessions, and eventually the matter was arranged on the terms he had already stated. A very slight change made by the Privy Council without the knowledge of Parliament would alter the whole effect of the compromise, and therefore it was important, when the matter was coming into working order, that they, who were in a certain sense the guardians of the interests of the managers and promoters of schools, should ascertain how the Government were carrying out the arrangements, and whether they were keeping faith with the managers. They knew that there must continually be small modifications and changes, but they denied that the Privy Council had a right, without taking the opinion of Parliament, to make changes materially altering the effect of the code as understood to be settled last year. It was almost impossible to explain to the House the minute and technical arrangements which were so important in their bearing, but he had endeavoured to explain what was understood by the managers to be their position under the arrangement of last year. They considered, that if they, the managers of schools, were prepared to provide two-thirds of the master's salary, they might count for certain upon having a lien for the remaining one-third upon the capitation grant, and they considered that there was no impropriety in their agreeing with a master, when engaging at a salary of say £60, to pay him £40, and to give him a first lien upon the capitation grant for the balance. That was understood to be the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman's words last year, and in one case, to his knowledge, the manager of a school acted upon that understanding. In the case to which he referred the manager asked the Privy Council whether it would be necessary to make a new arrangement with their master, the old arrangement being that he was to have £40 a year, and £20 from the augmentation grant. The Privy Council answered that there must be a new arrangement, and a new agreement was come to that the master should receive three times the amount of his certificated money. The reply of the Privy Council was to the effect that the object of the Revised Code was to guard against certain teachers being unduly paid and to secure them against their agreement being broken; but the same teachers could not agree that their agree- ments should be broken, and that they should be unduly paid. The existence of such a clause virtually put the school beyond the limits of the code, as it tended to divert the first charge upon the grant from an accident into a certainty. The gravaman of the complaint which he made was that the lien upon the grant was meant to be a certainty and not an accident, and the right hon. Gentleman was striving to evade the pledge that had been given. The reason appeared to be to prevent the Government being called upon to meet the charge for pupil teachers. If the right hon. Gentleman could force the managers of schools to make new arrangements to deprive the masters of their first lien upon the capitation grant, of course the pupil teachers would then have the first lien. But it had always been urged, that if only results were to be paid for, let it be so, but allow the managers to use whatever machinery they pleased to obtain the results. That had been the line of argument adopted by the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) and other gentlemen, but the Government had always said, "You shall use our machinery." The Government then seemed to take charge of the pupil-teachers, but now they were compelling the managers to make new agreements with the masters, throwing additional burdens upon the friends and promoters of education. Under these circumstances, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Committee of Council, whether, supposing in any school the augmentation grant was £20, supposing that the managers agreed that the master should have a salary of £60 a year provided the capitation grant reached the sum of £20—and that he considered a fair and proper arrangement for the master and managers to make—and supposing the capitation grant exactly covered the augmentation grant, and that there were also pupil teachers, would the Government feel bound to make up the salaries of these pupil teachers, and would that school be allowed to go on in union with the Privy Council, and to receive a grant as hereto fore?


said, he also wished to put two questions to the right hon. Gentleman, both of which involved the good faith of the Government in carrying out the arrangement which had been made in the previous year. It was true that it was difficult to make intelligible to the House the particular points and details involved in the subject, but it was upon small details that the successful working of the system depended. The question was really one of good faith, and the Revised Code had not been in existence for one year. The 136th article said that no grant should be made to an endowed school if the endowment was more than 30s. per scholar per annum. That was an intelligible rule, and in his own neighbourhood an arrangement had been made to establish a district school for four small parishes and a small endowment was used as a nucleus; but on the 19th of May an order was issued by the Privy Council completely annulling the arrangement, by declaring that all grants should be lowered by the amount of any annual endowment. That was a grave matter of complaint. He did not intend to enter upon the question whether it was right to make grants to endowed schools or not; but as a year previously it had been declared that such schools should receive grants, the right hon. Gentleman could not be surprised that there were complaints of the changes, as managers had no right to expect such a Sudden reversal of understood arrangements: He wished to put to the right hon. Gentleman another question. Great complaints were last year made in consequence of the frequency with which changes were introduced into the scheme of education, and in order to protect the country against those sudden changes the 150th article of the Revised Code laid down that in January of each year, if the Code should be modified or any material alterations in its provisions effected, it should be done in such a form as to show clearly which were the articles cancelled or modified, and all the new articles. Now, to bring down to the House of Commons in the month of May a Minute directly reversing a very important article in the Code was not, in his opinion, to act in accordance with the regulation to which he adverted.


said, he desired to call the attention of the House to the remarkable manner in which information was furnished by the Committee of Council with respect to the Vote under discussion. It was the duty of that Committee to make a Report independent of the Reports of the Inspectors, and the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President had been repeatedly asked when the blue-book on the subject would be presented. Hon. Members were told it would be presented when it was ready; but last Thursday the right hon. Gentleman had carried the Education Vote through Committee, while it was not until Saturday morning that the blue-book made its appearance. Information given in that way was almost useless; but if the blue-book had been laid on the table sooner, he (Mr. W. E. Forster) thought he should have been able to adduce additional evidence to show that the Report, to use a term to which the right hon. Gentleman took exception, was "cooked." The right hon. Gentleman told them that the Inspectors were not to express opinions, but merely to state facts; yet he found, from the very cursory examination which he had been able to give the volume, that opinions were stated, only they happened to be all on one side. He found, for instance, that there was in the present volume a very clever Report in answer to his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire, while he did not perceive that there was anything on the other side.


said, he wished to draw the attention of the House to the case of Wales. The managers of schools there found no fault with the present system, but some difficulties arose out of the operation of the Welsh and English languages. He did not desire to break into the present system, but it would at the game time, he thought, be an advantage if it were made an instruction to the Inspectors, when called upon to allow the grant, to admit of the standard being lowered to some extent in the Welsh schools.


said, he could not consent to the lowering of the standard as the hon. Gentleman suggested, nor, he was happy to say, did he think it necessary to take that course. There were, no doubt, some difficulties to be contended with in Wales owing to the cause to which the hon. Gentleman referred, but then they were not of so serious a nature as to render it impossible that they should be overcome. With respect to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), he might observe that it was quite natural he should complain of the Report not having been laid on the table when the Education Vote came on for discussion. Neither the time when the Report should be ready nor that on which the Vote should come on was, however, a matter over which he had any positive control. The Vote was seldom brought under the notice of the House before the middle of July, while the Report had that year been presented as early as usual. The hon. Gentleman would therefore see that there was no good ground for assuming that the Report had been intentionally withheld until after the Vote had been passed.

He should next advert to the remarks which had fallen from the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich, who had used somewhat hard language, inasmuch as he had stated that the Committee of Council had last year entered into an engagement through which they had broken. The ground on which he made that charge was that in the 136th Article of the Revised Code it was laid down that no grant should be made to endowed schools whose endowment yielded more than 30s. per annum on the average attendance of scholars, and that it was now sought to depart from that arrangement, which he said was part of the compact entered into last year. There was, however, he contended, no breach of agreement in altering the article alluded to. These were the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University, embodied in articles 150–1 of the Code— In January of each year, if the Code be revised, or any material alteration in it be necessary, it shall be printed in such a form as to show separately all articles cancelled or modified, and all new articles. In the event of such revision or material alteration as mentioned in the last foregoing article, it shall not be lawful to take any action thereon until the same shall have been submitted to Parliament, and laid on the table of both Houses at least one calendar month. The Code was to be printed in January. In that Code were to be shown all the articles that were modified or changed. Now, that, said the right hon. Gentleman, had been violated, because on the 19th of May a fresh Minute was made, and they had not, he said, printed it last January. But it would be printed next January. The two articles last quoted amounted to this, that where a new Minute was made, it should be laid before the House of Commons for one month before it became law; and in addition to that security the Code was to be printed with the new Minutes made once a year, so that the House should have the opportunity not only of seeing a Minute at the time it was passed, but have a collective view each year of all the Minutes and changes made. Now, if it were meant by the right hon. Gentleman that they had come under an engagement to make no Minutes except in January each year, he must ask him where it was said so; and if it was not said so, why were they charged with a breach of faith? The Minutes had been literally and studiously adhered to.

Having disposed of that point, he would turn to the hon. Baronet the Member for Stamford. In order, as far as they could under the Revised Code, to meet the wishes of the schoolmaster, they undertook to give him as much security as was in their power that he should be properly paid by the managers. Perhaps it was superfluous to undertake to protect the schoolmaster against the managers, because seldom or ever had the managers taken advantage of the schoolmaster; but purely for the purpose of protecting the schoolmaster a lien or charge was given him on the grant to the extent of one-third of his salary, as defined by his certificate; and if the managers did not pay him twice as much, their grant would be withheld altogether. That agreement was made voluntarily by the Government, under no pressure whatever, on the 13th of February in last year. Two months afterwards, on the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University, a further concession was made in behalf of the pupil teachers, who were to have a second lien or charge on the grant for their salary; and if that was not enough, the Government would make it good. Then the first Minute became of great importance, because, although it was originally intended to protect the schoolmaster against the manager, certain managers fancied they saw a way in which, by colluding with the schoolmaster, they might obtain the means of extracting more money from the Privy Council than they would be entitled to receive on the examination of their children. That was never the intention of the Minute; and he did not intend, if he could help it, that such an effort should be successful. The hon. Gentleman said he had now altered the construction of the Minute—that he had given one interpretation at one time, and another at another. Where was the evidence on which he rested such a charge?


explained, that he had only said the Minute had been understood differently by others.


It was true he had said that the masters should have a lien or charge on the grant, but a lien on a man's coat was one thing, and the coat itself was another. The hon. Baronet had put four questions to him in writing, which he had answered to the best of his power, and he was sorry to find his replies had not been satisfactory. The hon. Baronet now put further questions to him, but he could not pretend to answer these hypothetical questions. He was not there to give, without notice, hypothetical interpretations on points of great nicety and difficulty in the Minutes of Council. He might be misreported, or what he said might be used as a means of charging: him with a breach of faith. That was the answer he had to make, and he thought it much more prudent to make no further answer till the cases on which questions were put were before them. The best mode of raising questions was to move for the correspondence which might have taken place.


observed, that many questions not hypothetical had been put to the right hon. Gentleman, and his answers had not always been satisfactory. It was not very agreeable to find that the Revised Code was little better than waste paper. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would treat this matter liberally, and not by any lawyer-like quibbles seek to deprive any class of schools of that which, according to the spirit of the Minutes, was promised them.


said, he had heard, and he thought the country would also hear, with the greatest possible alarm, the statements which the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Education had made. The Revised Code was a measure undertaken by the Government entirely of their own accord, and without any pressure being put upon them. That Code was placed before the country, and to parts of it exception was taken. After being amended it was passed by the House; and now the right hon. Gentleman stood up and coolly said, "Oh, you don't suppose there is any force in it!"


explained, that what he said was that they did not bind themselves not to alter it if they saw fit.


Nobody supposed it was unalterable like the laws of the Medes and Persians; but the right hon. Gentleman charged school managers in the country, who put the best construction they could on parts of the Code which had not been altered, with "colluding" to get money from the Privy Council to which they were not entitled. It would be better to make such a charge, if it were made at all, against those who had an opportunity of answering it. It could not, however, be answered, because nobody knew against whom it was made, There Was enough mistrust already as to the mode in which the right hon. Gentleman was administering the Privy Council grants; but if he was to play fast and loose with his new Code or Minutes as he chose, the present distrust would greatly increase. They all knew that the phraseology in which these things were drawn up was so highly technical, and was prepared by such a master of language as the right hon. Gentleman who presided over the Department, that nobody could tell exactly what was meant; but if, in addition to all that, they were to have from the right hon. Gentleman the statements they had heard that night, the relations of school managers with the Committee of Privy Council would become very uncomfortable indeed.

Resolution agreed to.

Eighth Resolution read 2o.


said, he wished to have some explanation as to the item taken for permanent buildings at South Kensington. A Committee had originally recommended an expenditure of £27,000 for permanent buildings, in lieu of certain sheds, which were said to have been in a very dangerous state in case of fire; but he found that they had been laying out money for permanent residences. That expenditure went on increasing year by year without any satisfactory explanation being given, and in order to check that increase he begged to move that the Vote be reduced by £10,000.

Amendment proposed, to leave out "£82,883," and insert "£72,883,"—(M Augustus Smith,)—instead thereof.


said, that when it was agreed that residences should be erected for certain officials at Kensington, it was understood that their salaries would be reduced in consequence of those residences being provided for them. He wished to know if such reduction had taken place?


explained, that what he had said on a former occasion was, that when the persons entered into possession of their residences, there would be a deduction from the salaries corresponding with the rent. The residences were not complete, and they had not entered them, and consequently the reduction was not yet made It would be settled by the Treasury; and as soon as it was fixed, he would give the hon. Gentleman the information he required.


said, that as his Amendment did not refer to the deductions, but to the Vote generally, he should take the sense of the House upon it.

Question put, "That '£82,883' stand part of the Resolution."

The House divided:—Ayes 147; Noes 19: Majority 128.

Resolution agreed to.