HC Deb 02 June 1864 vol 175 cc1065-84

I rise, Sir, to move that this House, having considered the Minute of the Council of March 11, 1864, on Endowed Schools, is of opinion that it does not meet the objections made to the Minute of the 19th day of May, 1863. The House will remember that, about three months ago, I brought forward a Resolution condemnatory of the Minute of May, 1863, which proposed on the part of the Treasury to appropriate to its own credit every single endowment belonging to all the schools in England and Scotland which receive aid from the Government, whether those endowments were the gifts of living donors or vested in charitable trustees for educational objects, or whether they were the actual concession of living claimants amongst the poor for the benefit of the education of their children, or whether they were endowments expressly left for the payment of school fees. That Minute proposed to sweep into the Treasury indiscriminately, and treat as public money, all the endowments belonging to all the aided schools in England and Scotland; and it was not surprising that the House so strongly supported my condemnatory Resolution—indeed, with the exception of the hon. Members for Leeds and Sheffield, I was unanimously supported in the proposition which I made. The noble Lord at the head of the Government found himself obliged to intimate to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne, the then Vice President of the Committee of Council, when in the middle of his defence, that he must instantly put about and beat a rapid and immediate retreat, which difficult operation the right hon. Gentleman executed in a manner worthy of his well-known ability.


I beg to say the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken.


The right hon. Gentleman says I am mistaken, but I must repeat my proposition, and I do not think he will again contradict it, namely, that he came down to the House to oppose my Mo- tion, and the commencement of his speech was apparently in opposition to it, but an intimation being made to him—[Mr. LOWE: No, that is not so.] Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman denies that an intimation was given him, but at all events the right hon. Gentleman in the middle of that speech found the House was unanimously in favour of my Motion, and he was obliged to change his tactics—if he likes the expression better—and beat a rapid and immediate retreat. The Minute which I am now bringing under the notice of the House, and which I hope the House will condemn as heartily as they did the other, was issued a few days after. The new Minute so produced offers to exempt from a general and indiscriminate appropriation of their endowments the small rural schools of the country, which are defined by the document as schools of 1,200 square feet area, as if poverty was to be measured by the square foot, and injustice by the capacity of endurance. Absurd as this mode of meeting the Resolution of the House is, it does not represent to the full extent the right hon. Gentleman's mode of evasion; for there is a proviso in the middle of the Minute, from which he would seem half-way to have repented of what he was about to do—that the endowments of those small rural schools should, if not wholly, be at last so far appropriated by the Treasury, that the endowments and the grant together should not exceed 15s, a head. Now I appeal to the House whether this is not a proposition for stultifying its former resolution, and whether it is not a cool proposition on the part of a Minister to set at naught the authority and rescind the decision of this House. Those who three months ago opposed the Minute of the 19th May of last year so unanimously cannot consistently accede to the Minute of March 11th. The host of petitions that was presented against the first Minute applies equally to the present one, and the patrons of schools throughout the country who asked their representatives to rally round their interests and defend them from the spoliation proposed in the first Minute can equally call upon them to defend them from the operations of the second. If there are any hon. Members who have schools near their own residences or amongst their constituencies which might escape the entire spoliation of their endowments under the new Minute, and are therefore content to allow the injustice which they hare averted from themselves to fall upon the rest of the kingdom, I tell them to their faces that they do not know their duty or the constitutional principle of their functions in this House. [A laugh.] No hon. Member is sent here to represent his own private interests. I see a noble Lord opposite (Lord Henley) laughs at the proposition; but I hope he is not of those who, having protested against the first Minute, is ready to put up with the last Minute because his local school might come within it. No one, I say, is sent here to represent his private interests, or exclusively his own constituents, but to represent the interests of the kingdom at large, and therefore we are bound to discuss the Minutes by what their effect will be generally on the interests of the schools throughout the country. I was asked by the Government to delay taking the sense of the House on this Minute on the plea that a Return, moved for by the hon. Member for Berkshire, and likely to have a material effect in regard to it, was about to be presented; and I was thought by many to have acquiesced in that request too readily and almost too simply. I did, however, accede to the request, not on account of the alleged plea, but merely because I knew that the present Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education had barely entered into that office, and I therefore conceived that it would be only fair that that right hon. Gentleman, if he should be called on by his leaders to make his first essay in his new office by a Quixotic charge against all the endowments connected with the schools under his control, with a view to sweep them into the Treasury, should have time allowed him to get firmly seated in his saddle. That time has been allowed, and the Return I have adverted to is now before the House; and I confess I cannot conjecture what inference is intended to be drawn from it in favour of the new Minute. In the first place, the Return is most imperfect and most incorrect, and it is wholly inapplicable to the question before the House. It professes in three parallel columns to show the condition of the endowed schools receiving grants in 1862, as compared with 1863; that is to say, to give a comparative statement of their condition under the old and the revised codes. But, as the hon. Member for Berkshire must be aware, the revised code was not in full operation in 1863, and therefore the Return does not accurately represent the condition of the schools under that portion of the revised code in operation. In many particulars it will not come into operation for some years, as, for instance, in the payment of pupil-teachers, and, putting these special points out of the question, it will take some years for the revised code to get on a complete footing. It is well known that no schools received grants throughout the whole of 1863 upon the conditions of the revised code, and therefore the comparison is imperfect. If any information can be obtained from the Return, it is simply this—that even before the revised code came into operation a large reduction had already been made in 1863 in the income of the schools which relied upon grants from the Treasury. I do not condemn that reduction, but I say that schools that were suffering so great and sudden a reduction of income in the way of assistance from the State were unable to stand the second blow involved in the absolute confiscation of the whole of their endowments. The Return moved for by the hon. Member for Berkshire is also incomplete in this way, that grants before the revised code were calculated on the income of the schools, and in a great number of instances that income is not given, it being stated in a note that there was no Return of it. How could the office have calculated the grant without knowing the income which measured it? 1 also have to complain of the Return because it affords no test to judge, in any case, of the grant or endowment. I have heard some people say, what a large endowment such and such a school has; but large is a relative term, and unless the number of children in the school be stated, it cannot be said whether any endowment or grant is large. There is another feature of inaccuracy about the Return, inasmuch as in a great number of instances the endowment of the schools is stated at different amounts for 1862 and for 1863. The fluctuations in the statements go to the extent of 100 per cent. Now, if these endowments are fluctuating quantities they are not such endowments as are properly contemplated in the Minute, and they do not justify this strong and violent proceeding on the ground that they are fixed and not precarious incomes. A further feature of inaccuracy is, that several of the largest endowments stated in the Return are endowments, within my own knowledge, not simply for education, but also for the clothing, food, and maintenance of the children. One of that kind is St. Clement's Dane's Schools, which is mentioned in the Report as an endowment for education solely. I think I have shown that the Return, for which my Motion was postponed, is valueless for its purpose. Supposing, however, the Return correct, and as complete in every respect as no doubt the hon. Member for Berkshire wished it to be, I still am at a loss to conjecture what inference he or the Government sought to draw from it in favour of the second Minute. I can judge of the question just as well from any one case as from all, and accumulating cases in an aggregate form did not affect the matter. The question is one of right, and can be illustrated as well from one instance as from a thousand. But, perhaps, the hon. Member for Berkshire, or the Government, thought that they would be able to fish out of the Return certain cases, one or two, justifying the Minute. It is difficult to draw up any scheme of public grants which will not be liable to some cases of abuse, and I will suppose the kind of abuse the hon. Gentleman was searching for—the case of a school possessed of an endowment almost equal to its expenditure; or up to the extreme limit which an endowment could reach, and yet not disentitle the school to a grant, there being certain subscriptions entitling it to some payment of money from the Treasury. I admit that that would be abuse, because it would put the school in possession of an income beyond its requirements; but that case might be met by laying down a rule that in no instance should a grant be given to a greater amount than would make the aggregate sum formed of fees, subscriptions, endowment, and grant, more than 30s. per head in any school, which is the average expenditure. Such an arrangement would get rid of the abuse I have referred to, without any violent injustice, or the sweeping of endowments from schools into the Treasury; and the remedy I propose I feel confident would be agreed to by the House. This is not a matter of individual cases, for if the hon. Member for Berkshire can produce a few cases of abuse under the existing system, I can for every one he produces bring forward ten where much greater abuse would be certain to spring up under such violence and injustice as the Minute proposes. I will not repeat what I said on a former occasion, but I must remind the House that it is not a question of cases but of principle which is at issue. I and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne are at issue on principle, and I confess I was for some time utterly at a loss to conceive on what possible principle the right hon. Gentleman could have based these Minutes of which he was the author; but in his recent speech he for the first time gave a distinct enunciation of the principle upon which he based them, and upon which he based generally his conduct and by-legislation in his office. The right hon. Gentleman told us in his speech that he considered himself in his office as the trustee of an eleemosynary fund, in the distribution of which lie was bound to consider the means of the recipients. He said he had to perform the duties of a relieving officer. Now, I ask the House to-day, as I asked them in March last, to take issue with the right hon. Gentleman on that principle; for I conceive that the right principle on which he ought to act is very nearly the reverse of that which the right hon. Gentleman says he has acted upon. It is true that in the distribution of the public funds for the relief of poverty and destitution you ought to consider the means of the recipient. Whether his means of relief arise from endowments, from subscriptions, from donations, or from charities of any sort or kind, you have no business to distribute a public fund for the relief of destitution, to give out of such fund on the score of destitution, when you know the recipient is in possession of other means of any kind to live upon. But when you are distributing a public fund given in aid of voluntary efforts for the education of the poor, instead of reducing the amount of your assistance by the amount of aid coming from another quarter, you ought rather to increase the assistance in proportion to the voluntary exertion. Your action in the two cases is precisely the reverse. The right hon. Gentleman, in the capacity of a relieving officer, was relieving the Treasury out of the funds of the poor, and not relieving the poor out of the coffers of the Treasury. But let me point out to him that though the parallel of the poor law is false, yet that even supposing there was an analogy between poor relief and a subsidy for voluntary education, the analogy would not bear him out in the defence of this Minute; for in the distribution of poor relief, although you take into consideration the means and the conditions of the recipient, I ask whether any parish would be justified in taking the endowments of the parish in reduction of the poor rates? As a Charity Commissioner I recollect a case very much in point of a parish in Herefordshire, where the guardians of the poor happened to be trustees of an endowment for the relief of the poor. The parish being in debt the guar- dians and trustees took upon themselves to pay off the parish debt by means of the charity property, and for that purpose they cut down the timber on the estate from which the endowment was made. And what ensued? The Charity Commissioners proceeded against them, and the case was decided against them as a fraudulent transaction; and the thing was stopped. Exactly in the same way I ask the House to stop the Treasury from relieving its own disbursements by the appropriation of the endowments of private benevolence. One word more as to the avowed principle of the Minute. I say if you allow the education minister to assume the position of a relieving officer, and to treat the fund at his disposal as an eleemosynary fund, you will be most utterly disappointed. You will find that instead of tending to economy that it would tend to the grossest waste and the most profuse expenditure of the public money. It was against that very pauper system of dealing out as doles from the education fund that I struggled most when I was in that office. I find that the right hon. Member for Calne thinks it has already pauperized the country. He says it was once regarded as an honourable act to undertake the endowment of a school, but not so now. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman, but I am firmly of opinion that if we were to allow the Education Minister to take the post of relieving officer and treat the grant as an eleemosynary fund, we should find that the spirit of the country would be pauperized, and its voluntary zeal for the promotion of education would become gradually paralyzed. We see a tendency to this already. We find large districts in London calling themselves poor districts merely because the owners of property will not come forward and take their part in aid of the voluntary system. We find landlords in rural parishes trying to give a stigma of poverty to parishes, which poverty amounts only to poverty in their own zeal, or indicates a want of interest in parishes in which they possess much, but do not reside. But if the property of each parish is to maintain the education of the poor—and no doubt it is sufficient in every case to do so, with the aid of a subsidy from this House—let us not break down that system by turning the subsidy into a dole for destitution, or comparing the minister to a relieving officer. I have done with the principle of the right hon. Gentleman. But there are some who say, "Though it is true that these endowments should not be allowed to relieve the Treasury, yet neither should they be allowed to relieve your voluntary efforts." I think that was the main argument of the hon. Member for Leeds the other day; I think it is likely to be the argument of the hon. Member for Berkshire. The hon. Member for Leeds said, Even allowing that these endowments ought not to be taken to relieve the Treasury, still, on the other hand, they should not be allowed to relieve voluntary efforts. The right hon. Member for Calne has never attempted to deny that an endowment during the life of the donor is a voluntary effort. The hon. Member for Berkshire will allow that endowments in the life of the donor have altogether the characteristics which the right hon. Member for Calne declared to be a test of voluntary effort, namely, that they are under the living superintendence of the donor, and are a proof of the stimulus which the education grant was intended to bring forth. But there is nothing that makes an endowment less a voluntary effort in the deed by which the donor binds his successor. He makes the donation during life. This shows that the stimulus has acted upon him in drawing out his money; and I suppose that the hon. Member for Leeds will not say that when a gentleman has made an endowment of £50 a year for a school in his parish that it would stimulate him to greater zeal if the Treasury pocketed the money, and asked him for another £50, in the form of subscription also; because it seems to be contemplated by the right hon. Member for Calne and others, that when the Treasury pockets a vested subsidy you will get the same amount repeated in donations and subscriptions. At all events, I have the admission of the right hon. Gentleman, that endowments in the life of the donor are equivalent to voluntary efforts. That is a very great admission. There is, therefore, a large class of endowments dealt with by these Minutes, who, according to their own showing, Ministers propose to treat with simple robbery, without any excuse or advantage whatever. Let me now proceed to endowments of another kind. The right hon. Gentleman will wish to get away from the consideration of living donors as soon as he can. He will get away from those living squires as he calls them, and from local endowments, and will ask us to consider his Minute with reference to dead squires, and old and not local endowments. He argued as if there was nothing really local in an endowment; and certainly a man in Australia may, from affection for his native county, endow a school in Staffordshire. This, however, is not generally the case. I admit at once that an old endowment, even of three generations, is not entitled to be treated in the same way by the Treasury as recent ones. I say they have not a similar claim, or a claim to the same amount. But at the same time I say the claim, whatever it may be, is on the credit side of the account, and that you cannot on the score of antiquity, or of the endowment being made at a distance, justify the Treasury in depriving the particular locality of all advantage from its endowment. The endowment is the property of the place. It is not public property. Will any one stand up and say that an endowment to a particular place is to be of no advantage to the locality above others? There may be different modes of treating different cases; but nobody will be bold enough to say that an endowment is simply public money, in which its specified object has no particular interest. Still less will any one say that it is just for the debtors of any place to seize on its endowments as a public property and then discharge with it their public debts. I wish to draw the attention of the House for one moment to a suggestion made to me by the hon. Member for Oxford yesterday. I will not appropriate the suggestion, because I hope the hon. Member will introduce it himself. I would deal with old endowments by taking them in account of contributions duly having claims for subsidy at a depreciated rate. The hon. Member for Oxford threw out this fresh suggestion. He said, "Why should not a public body, say the Charity Commissioners, appropriate such endowments to special extra prizes to the school endowed or for the masters, and then let the school receive grants on the same terms with other schools irrespectively of its endowments?" I think it well worthy of consideration whether by that means the locality might not have the advantage of its endowment, and yet all schools start fair for grants. And there would be this additional advantage—that there would be certain places possessing endowments whose schools would be looked to as prizes by the masters throughout the kingdom who would thus gain the stimulus of promotion. Well, now, I have completed my arguments. I will only ask the House to recollect how completely we made out in our last debate the entire failure of the advocates of the Minutes proposed, even to show their possible ap- plication throughout this country. We found that, even if we consented to the violation of justice that seems to pervade them, they could riot be carried out without great exceptions, great anomalies, and injurious consequences. As to the great exceptions, the greatest of all included the whole kingdom of Scotland, when the heritors' tax in every rural parish would have to be left out of the category of endowments; and that I consider to be a considerable deduction from any provision relating to school endowments which is meant to be impartial. As to the anomalies, we find them in the case of endowments for the payment of fees in schools—which the Minutes exclude as endowments, but recognize as school fees. As to the consequences, I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman whether he would not acknowledge this consequence to be injurious, that it would put a stop at once and for ever to the process by which the Charity Commissioners are turning many doles from charities notoriously abused, to the purpose of education? Would it not still further be an evil that this Minute would at once put a stop to all future school endowments? It is no use appealing to the Government in favour of any endowments. I am afraid they are prepared to see the extinction of endowments without regret; but at all events I have made out that the relative claims of schools, endowed and unendowed, may be reconciled to each other without any injustice to either, or the appropriation of the property of the one to assist the other. There is a Minute I would propose to substitute. When the right hon. Gentleman gave me a draft of this new Minute I ventured to give him also a counter draft of my own, which I thought would be preferable. He knows it, and I need not trouble the House by explaining it. I think I see my way of limiting the whole expenditure for education in this country in a satisfactory manner, without any such violent appropriation of the property of endowed schools. It is with no special views—not in the special interests of the Church, nor in the interests particularly of the poor, but merely because I think it is most desirable that the distribution of the education grant should be on fixed and fair conditions, that I propose to the House to cancel those two Minutes, and to substitute the one that I have prepared. I think we should pay most dearly for any little temporary relief the Treasury would gain by a plan for the appropriation in aid of public grants of the private endowments of schools.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House, having considered the Minute of Council of the 11th day of March, 1864, on Endowed Schools, is of opinion that it does not meet the objections made to the Minute of the 19th day of May, 1863."—(Mr. Adderley.)


said, he should occupy the attention of the House but for a very few minutes, for the principle at issue between his right hon. Friend and himself was of so limited and narrow a character that it required only to be clearly stated to be understood, and hardly demanded so lengthy an explanation as that of his right hon. Friend. The question he took to be simply this, Were endowments to be considered in the nature of public property appropriated to certain purposes, and placed in the hands of trustees to see that it was so applied; or were they to be regarded as special subscriptions, and to be treated as such, and taken into account among the sources of income from which a school derived its funds? His right hon. Friend had held him responsible to a greater extent than was right for the accuracy or inaccuracy of the Return which had been laid on the table on his Motion. At all events, his right hon. Friend had no right to complain that he had been obliged to postpone his Motion until that Return was produced, inasmuch as a considerable part of his speech was devoted to an exposure of its inaccuracies. Certainly there was another Return which would have rendered that one far more complete, and without which it was scarcely possible to do full justice to the subject. That was the Return moved for by the hon. Member for Newark, which would furnish the House with most valuable information, and would show the origin, history, and character of every school endowment, whence derived, the date, and how applied. That Return, with the Return already produced, would furnish the House with very valuable information. It really, however, was of very little consequence, as his right hon. Friend had truly said, whether the Return was strictly accurate or not. He did not rest his argument at all on the accuracy of the Return. He agreed entirely with his right hon. Friend that it was a question of principle, that it mattered little whether the endowment were £5 or £500, and many endowments, as they knew, went beyond even that large amount. When his right hon. Friend the late Vice President, at the conclusion of his speech, made that concession to the opposite party, waiving a large portion of his case and making an exception in favour of small schools, he felt then that the ground was so far cut from under his feet, for he admitted that if an exception were made in favour of small rural schools there was no logical ground for making a deduction from the larger schools. The real question they had to determine was, What was an endowment? He took the history of most of these school endowments to be this:—They were left by benevolent persons, not to go into the pockets of the parishioners, as they would do if the present system were carried out, but for the support of schools in particular places where otherwise these schools never would have existed. They were left at a time when the duty of supporting education was generally ignored. They were left by benevolent donors with the full conviction that if the money was not left in that form for the performance of the duty it would be altogether neglected. Circumstances, however, had completely altered since that time. The support of schools was becoming recognized as a general duty, and it was very liberally performed. When the Government offered its support to schools on the condition of the parishioners in particular places evincing their willingness to perform the duty, the grant ought to be measured by the display of that willingness on the part of the parishioners, and not by the possession of certain public property which they held as trustees, and from which they themselves ought to derive no benefit whatever. To use an illustration which would make his case clear. Suppose the State out of the public revenues were to undertake to do completely and entirely what it did partially, and were to support wholly and entirely all the schools throughout the country. Take then the case of half-a-dozen parishes which required each £100 a year to pay their expenses. Suppose one of these schools had an endowment of £50, another of £40, and another of £30, and so on, and that a certain proportion of them had no endowment at all—would his right hon. Friend contend that that £100 should be paid to every one of these schools, irrespective of their endowments? Of course not. It would be putting the endowments into the pockets of the parishioners. If that were so, what was it they were doing with regard to the present system? The State contributed a portion towards the expenses of these schools, and in proportion as the endowments were taken into account as a portion of the ordinary revenue of a school the pockets of the parishioners were relieved of a portion of the expenses. That principle was fully illustrated by the facts of the case. When the hon. Member for Leeds the other night read a long list showing the small proportion which subscription school fees bore to endowments, and the consequent benefit which parishioners derived from these endowments, the immediate answer was, "that was in 1860; things have been altered since then." The Return, however, showed what was the case in 1863, and he would cite one or two cases. There was no need to select any, for all over the country were scattered about schools with small endowments and large Government grants, and large endowments with small Government grants. He would take the case of Arundel. Arundel in 1862 had an endowment of £120 19s. 2d.; the total income derived from other sources, including schools fees, was £35 2s. 8d., the amount of the grant £162 16s.—making a total for that school of £318 17s. 10d. Now would any one tell him that that sum of £120 19s. 2d. did not go into the pockets of the parishioners of Arundel? Again, Barnstaple Bluecoat School had in the same year, in the shape of endowment, £98 12s, 5d.; from other sources, £29 3s. 11d.; while the Government grant was £45 15s.—making a total of £173 11s. 4d. There was also the case of Accrington, in Lancashire, which, according to the Return, had in 1863 an endowment of £50, the entire amount derived from other sources being £192 4s. 6d.; the amount of the grant, I £194 14s.; total, £336 18s. 6d. In I Bridgenorth Bluecoat Schools the endowment was £251 7s. 4d., the funds from other sources, £49 3s. 1d.; the grant, £49 16s. 6d.; total, £350 6s. 11d. In the case of the Episcopal Charity School, Exeter, the endowment was £547 5s.; other funds, £230 6s.; grant£175 1s. 4d.; total, £952 12s. 4d. The endowment in the case of Brereton, Staffordshire, was; £86 2s. 2d.; the receipts from other; sources, £43 1s. 2d.; amount of the grant, £19 3s. 4d.—not a very large grant, but what he should like to know was, why that amount of endowment should not be deducted. He should like also to call the attention of his right hon. Friend to another argument derived from those endowments. He held in his hand the petition of the managers of the Shirley Church of England Endowed School, and what was the argument used by those gentlemen in favour of those endowments being respected in the way which his right hon. Friend proposed? One great object was, they said, "to enable the managers, especially in rural districts, to rise to the pecuniary requirements of the Committee of Council and to obtain a portion of the educational grant and secure the services of a certificated and more efficient teacher than they could otherwise have engaged." That was to say, that those endowments were to be made a lever in the hands of those managers for extracting money out of the pockets of the public, which they must pay in the shape of grant, while managers who had no endowments and, therefore, not the same means of paying certificated teachers, enjoyed no such advantage. Was that, he would ask, fair? What right had the House to turn those endowments into an engine of that kind? The argument of those gentlemen was—"We will tax you by means of our endowments. We will compel the Government to respect those endowments, and we will put our hands into your pockets." Another argument urged by the managers in question was, that "to make an abatement of grant in proportion to endowment is in effect to deprive a school of any benefit from the liberality of its benefactors, and to confiscate the endowment to the public revenue." What was the meaning of that word "confiscate?" If the principle contended for were admitted, it was clear those endowments would not go for the support of the school but into the pockets of the parishioners. He recollected the case of a school in which the endowment was £130, the amount of the subscriptions £33, and the Government grant £120 or £130, Could there be any doubt as to where that endowment went? He could not understand how, if the argument of his right hon. Friend were admitted in the case of small endowments, it should not also be admitted in the case of large, which would be a reductio ad absurdum of the whole thing. He should not trouble the House further on the subject, because when the matter was once clearly stated he did not see how it could be misunderstood. A certain degree of courtesy might be required to be extended in the case of endowments for a man's life, but he did not think there was any necessity for carrying it beyond. The whole theory of the mortmain laws showed that we were not disposed to respect the endowments with which they dealt; and he saw no reason why precisely the same principle should not be applied to the endowments for schools. He regretted the Government had gone so far as they had in protecting those small endowments; and feeling as he did, that the question was one of principle, not of detail, he should oppose the whole principle of endowments being respected in the distribution of Government grants, whether their amount was large or small.


said, that the distinction between endowments and local contributions was broad and intelligible. A local contribution implied personal sacrifice and a continuing interest in the welfare of the school on the part of the giver. If a school were ill-conducted the contributor would evince his dissatisfaction by withdrawing his subscription; whereas the endowment remained the same under every possible circumstance. The course which the Privy Council had taken up to that time with respect to endowments was, he must admit, somewhat inconsistent. Formerly grants in aid of schools were made under various heads—augmentation of masters, capitation grants, and payments to pupil-teachers. The augmentation to masters was never paid unless a certain sum was provided by the school, out of the fees or local contributions, and the endowment was left out of consideration. In the case of the capitation grant there was no such provision. It was made in every case where the funds of the school, created out of fees, local contributions, and endowments, reached the sum of 14s. per head; and so with respect to the pupil-teachers, their grant was made quite irrespective of the sources from which the income of the school was drawn. At that moment they were under the compromise entered into between the Government and the House, paying to schools where pupil-teachers were maintained considerable sums of money, while those schools were receiving by way of endowment, £2, £3, and even £5 per head upon each child. The revised code dealt with the subject of endowments, but dealt with it but imperfectly. The attention of the Department did not seem to have been specially directed to that part of the question. It was occupied by topics of greater consequence. The regulations made on this subject in that code were that no grant should be given in any case where the endowment amounted to more than 30s. per head, on the average attendance of children. What was the result? That where a school in which the attendance averaged 200 had an endowment of £300, and that 10s. was raised by means of local contributions, and 10s., therefore, given in the shape of a grant, the school would actually be in the receipt of 50s. per head. There was no reason to doubt that many schools were receiving more than they required; and, in some cases, considerable sums had been, by way of bonus, presented to masters, in others reserve funds had been created to extend the school buildings at a future time. The Privy Council having to deal with this state of things considered it thoroughly, and it was their opinion that the payment authorized by the House and made by the State was sufficient, with that amount of local aid which might fairly be expected, to give a proper education to the children of the poor. That calculation was founded on the assumption that all schools started on an equality, with no funds but those raised by means of local contributions. It was obvious that if the assessment committee for any union possessed the power of assisting out of the rates of the union the different parishes composing it, the assistance given would be proportionate to the actual means of the parish receiving aid. They would not give to a parish which had an endowment of £100 a year as much as to a parish which had none; and the same principle ought to guide the State in the distribution of its annual grants. The right hon. Gentleman had used hard words, and talked about "spoliation" and "confiscation," but he would ask him whether the contribution of the State was not given simply to supply a need. Where that need existed and the conditions imposed by the Privy Council and sanctioned by that House were complied with, the grant was made; but where the need did not exist there ought not to be any grant. Such, however, did not appear to be the opinion of the House when the subject was last before them, and his right hon. Friend and predecessor undertook to frame a Minute which should be in accordance with the Resolution moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Staffordshire, and with the understanding which was then come to. That Resolution was vaguely worded, that no one could deny that it was satisfied by the Minute of March, 1864; hut the question between them really was, What was the fair interpretation of the understanding under which the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman had been withdrawn? Several hon. Members, among them the noble Lord the Member for Northampton (Lord Henley), the hon. Member for Midhurst (Mr. Mitford), and the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil), drew on that occasion a broad distinction between endowments in rural places and endowments in towns. The noble Lord the Member for Stamford pointed out that while in rural parishes the contributions would depend mainly upon the disposition of the principal proprietors, upon their liberality or niggardliness, in towns and populous districts, the average of numbers tended to remove their inequality. The distinction between populous and small rural parishes had already been recognized in the orders of the Privy Council, under which rural parishes were treated in certain cases more favourably than urban ones. The Minute of March, 1864, was in effect this. Any school the; average attendance of which did not exceed 100 children—and the House must remember that an average attendance of 100 implied that there were usually 150 names on the books—might enjoy an endowment to the extent of 6s. for each scholar, without any deduction being made from the grant. That in the case of a school having 100 children, amounted to an endowment of £30 a year. This exception met the case of some of the Scotch endowments, such as those of Mill and Dick, which were among the most useful that existed. Mill's bequest produced about £1,400 a year, which was divided in the proportion of £20 a piece among 70 out of 144 schools in the county of Aberdeen, Dick's bequest, which produced £4,000 a year, was distributed between Aberdeenshire and two neighbouring counties. He did not say that there would be no changes in the application of those bequests, but with the necessary alterations the whole of the funds of these two great endowments might be applied under the Minute in furtherance of popular education. Such being the effect of the Minute, he wished to call attention to the Return obtained by the hon. Member for Berkshire. He fully admitted that it was not a complete document, and that in order to guide the House it should have shown the average amount of the endowments over a series of years, because they were subject to great fluctuations. It appeared, however, by the Return, that out of 7,739 schools assisted by the State 1,631 were endowed schools. The average attendance in these 1,631 schools was 213,000 scholars, and the total value of their endowments was £52,495 a year. That sum divided among 213,000 scholars would give exactly 4s. 11d. a head; so that if these endowments were equally distributed — which, however, was not the case — every rural school would obtain the full benefit of its endowment. It was impossible to draw in all cases an exact distinction between the rural and town schools, but he believed it could be done with sufficient accuracy for the information of the House. The number of schools which would be wholly relieved by the Minute would be 450, and the number partially relieved 674; the remainder were town schools, the endowments of which would in all cases be deducted from the grants. By far the greater number of endowments in the rural parishes were small, and the large towns which had sprung up in modern times rarely had any endowments. They were generally to be found in places of respectable antiquity, such as Shrewsbury, Hereford, Worcester, Bridgenorth, and towns of that character. That such schools could dispense with any exception being made in their favour could be shown by a recent example. At Hereford there were two schools, each having an endowment of about £120 a year. When the Minute was published, the trustees of one of them were about to protest and petition against it, but they thought better of the matter; they exerted themselves to supply the place of the grant which was to be withdrawn, and, after providing for the education of fifty children gratuitously, they had by a system of fees raised £130 more than the amount of that grant; and the Dean of Hereford said, that he had no doubt whatever that the managers of the other school, too, would be able to raise more than they formerly received from the Government. These schools had for a considerable time been, and under the revised code would have remained, in receipt of £250 a year, which was worse than wasted. He believed that in most other towns a similar result would follow the publication of the Minute. As a question of economy that was of but trifling consequence. The saving would be only about £30,000 a year, but it was of infinitely greater importance that the public money should not be uselessly squandered. Over and over again economies had been introduced which had at first excited objection and hostility, but the soundness of which had ultimately been universally admitted. The right hon. Gentleman himself caused some dissatisfaction among the managers of schools by reducing the amount of the building grant, yet the propriety of that reduction was not now disputed. He believed that the same would be the case with regard to this Minute, which he was confident would inflict no permanent injury upon the education of the country. Believing that the system adopted for the encouragement of popular education had conferred inestimable benefits on the country, and so far from dulling the edge of voluntary effort, as had been apprehended, had greatly stimulated it, he would not willingly be a party to any act which would impair its efficacy. He held that the interference of the Government with the education of the country had been fraught with the greatest blessings.

The advice and assistance of the Inspectors had been of the greatest value in organizing the schools; and everyone who had lived in a populous district, as he had done, must have felt that, while the advantage of the Government aid to the present generation was very great, its benefit to the next generation would be incalculable. He believed that no money had been better expended than the £8,000,000 expended in education. Still, it was the bounden duty of the House to hold its hand whenever an injudicious outlay was pointed out, because a reckless expenditure brought discredit on those who administered the fund, and demoralized those who received it. For these reasons, he would ask the House not to assent to the Motion of his right hon. Friend.


said, he wished to know whether the Revised Minute would permit the revenue arising from the Mill bequests in Aberdeenshire to be distributed without deductions from the Government grant?


observed, that in that case as well as in those of all rural schools where the average of attendance was less than 100, no deduction would be made within the limits indicated by the Minute.

Question put, That this House having considered the Minute of Council of the 11th day of March, 1864, on Endowed Schools, is of opinion that it does not meet the objections made to the Minute of the 19th day of May, 1863."—(Mr. Adderley.)

The House divided:—Ayes 111; Noes 119: Majority 8.