HC Deb 10 June 1864 vol 175 cc1591-2

said, that in putting the Question of which he had given Notice relative to Education in Scotland, he wished to give his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee of Council an opportunity of explaining to the House and the country the course which it was the intention of the Government to adopt with reference to a matter which had created the greatest interest in Scotland—theappointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the subject of education in that country. A large body of the Members for Scotland had recently waited on the Lord President of Council, and strongly impressed upon him the anxious desire of the people of Scotland that Her Majesty's Government should issue a Royal Commission to inquire into the state of education in Scotland, not simply in reference to the narrow question of the into Scotland of the Revised Code, but to the subject of education at large, with a view of establishing a basis for restoring and extending the old national system of education in Scotland, and rendering it more efficient. They, at the same time, thought that if any such inquiry should be determined upon, it would only be just and right that the operation of the Revised Code should in the meantime be suspended in Scotland. That Code was adopted after an inquiry relating to England, without any reference whatever to Scotland; and, in many respects, it was not in accordance with the habits of the people. From the reception given to the deputation by the Lord President, they had strong reason to hope that the Government would give a favourable consideration to their application; and he now requested his right hon. Friend to inform the House of the conclusion at which the Government have arrived in the matter. If it be, as he had some reason to expect it would be, in favour of granting their application, he could assure him, on the part of all the gentlemen him, on the part of all the gentlemen who waited upon the Lord President on that occasion, that such an announcement would be received with great satisfaction.


said, in answer to the questions which have been put by my hon. Friend, I beg to inform him that Her Majesty's Government have decided upon issuing a Commission, one of the principal objects of which is, as my hon. Friend has stated, to consider whether it is not possible to erect a national system on the foundation of the old parochial system in Scotland, as amended by the School-masters Act of 1861. In considering the question, whether the Revised Code should be applied to Scotland in the interim until the Commissioners had presented their Report, there certainly did seem to be valid objections to such a course. The Revised Code came into operation on the 31st of March in the present year, and up to this time it has been applied to very few schools. It could hardly be justifiable to insist upon the immediate application of that Code to Scotland, seeing that the inquires of the Commissioners may result in the recommendation of a system of national education in Scotland for the working classes, which will differ not only from the Revised Code, but also from the system which was in operation before the Revised Code was adopted. For these reasons, Her Majesty's Government have consented to suspend the operation of the Revised Code until the Report of the Commissioners shall have been presented, on the understanding, however, that that Report shall be made within twelve months of the issue of the Commission. This suspension, however, will have reference only to the elementary schools, and not to the normal schools. With respect to the normal schools, to which the Minute of March last applies, there does not appear to be any reason why the same course should not be adopted with regard to them which is adopted with regard to the same class of schools in England.

MR. BCUHANAN, Mr. LESLIE, and other Scotch Members said, that the announcement of the right hon. Gentleman would be received with great satisfaction in Scotland.