§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he regretted to inform the House that his noble Friend at the head of the Government was unable to attend that evening to make the Motion of which he had given notice on the subject of the Inspectors' Reports. In his absence he would, with the permission of the House, move that the Orders of the day be postponed till after the notice of Motion relative to the Inspectors' Reports.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Ordered, That the Orders of the Day be postponed till after the Notice of Motion relative to Education (Inspectors' Reports). —(Sir George Grey.)
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
moved that the Resolution passed by the House on the 369 12th of April last, with reference to the Reports of the School Inspectors, should be read at the table.
Resolution [12th April] read—
That, in the opinion of this House, the mutilation of the Reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools, and the exclusion from them of statements and opinions adverse to the educational views entertained by the Committee of Council, while matter favourable to them is admitted, are violations of the understanding under which the appointment of the Inspectors was originally sanctioned by Parliament, and tend entirely to destroy the value of their Reports.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
Sir, I moved that the Resolution of the 12th of April, adopted by this House, be read, in order that it may appear on our records that the Motion which I am now about to make has a direct and an immediate reference to that Resolution. That Resolution asserts, or rather assumes, as a matter of fact, that the Reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools have been mutilated, and that they have been mutilated with the distinct object of withholding from the House the opinions of those Inspectors when they were adverse to the views entertained by the Committee of Council on Education, and of presenting them to the House when they were favourable to those views. A graver charge than that could hardly be made against any Department of a Government. It is true that, at the time, that charge was met by a clear and emphatic denial on the part of my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe); but the House, acting, as we believe, under a misapprehension of the real facts of the case, and influenced to a certain extent by information which was in the possession of some hon. Members of the House, though not in the possession of the House itself, nor in the knowledge of Her Majesty's Government, adopted the condemnatory Resolution. We further believe that if the information to which I allude had been in the hands of my right hon. Friend at the time, it was capable of and would have received a satisfactory explanation that would have deprived it of the weight which, without that explanation, was attached to it. My right hon. Friend subsequently made a statement to this House which I believe was entirely satisfactory. As for his personal honour, no one can doubt that it has been fully vindicated; but the matter rests in this position. There remains on our records, and there will be inserted on the Journals 370 of this House, and remain on those Journals a Resolution, adopted by this House without any qualification — a Resolution conveying a grave and serious censure on a Department of the Government which we hold to be unmerited; while the subsequent statement of my right hon. Friend, and the manner in which it was received by the House, will be only found in. those daily records which have not a permanent existence, and which after a time will be forgotten. My noble Friend the President I of the Council, taking upon himself that full share of the responsibility which belongs to him as head of the Department, the proceedings of which have been impugned by the Resolution, and his Colleagues in the Government, think it due to the Department that those charges which have been brought against it, and which were assumed to have been established, should be subjected to the rigid inquiry of a Committee of this House, in order that it may be ascertained by means of that inquiry whether those charges have any foundation. I am not going to allude to what is the practice of the Department. I am not going to defend it by any considerations of public policy or by reference to the practice of other Departments; these are matters which will be inquired into by the Committee; but I may express my conviction that if the result of the inquiry I ask for should be to show that the practice of the Committee of Council on Education with reference to the Reports of these Inspectors may be justified, and is not in any way open to the construction, put upon it by the Resolution of the House, in such case the House will agree to record the opinion so expressed by its Committee. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pa-kington) has given notice of an Amendment to my Motion, by way of adding to it certain words which would greatly enlarge the scope of the inquiry. If this Amendment be adopted the inquiry, instead of being confined to the topics to which I propose to direct it, would comprise within its range matters altogether foreign to the specific and limited objects I have in view. The right hon. Gentleman proposes an inquiry into the constitution of the Committee of Council, and into the question how far their mode of conducting the business of the Department is consistent with the due control of Parliament over the annual education grants. That is a proposition which might very 371 fairly be submitted to this House, and to which, if brought forward as a substantive Motion, the House might, if it thought fit, very fairly give its sanction. I am far from expressing an opinion on the question whether such a wide inquiry might or might not be made; but this I cannot help feeling—that such an inquiry ought to be proposed by means of a substantive and distinct Motion. The proposal ought to be brought before the House on its own merits, and considered separately and distinctly from the subject of the inquiry which is proposed by the Motion which I am about to submit to the House. Those intrusted with the conduct of the Education Department have a right to the calm and deliberate judgment of the House as to whether these charges can be substantiated or not; and what I ask the House to do is to inquire into that matter without at all prejudging the inquiry proposed to be brought forward by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich. I therefore hope the House will not allow the inquiry I ask for to be swamped and overlaid by this new inquiry, which will prevent an early expression of opinion on the question we propose to have tried— namely, Whether the charges and imputations of the Resolutions of the 12th of April are well founded? I hope the House will limit the present inquiry to that object, and will not allow it to be mixed up with a vague and general inquiry which probably would last through the Session, and render it impossible to obtain an early expression of opinion on the definite issue now in hand.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Select Committee be appointed to in-quire into the practice of the Committee of Council on Education with respect to the Reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools." — (Sir George Grey.)
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, before I proceed to offer an explanation of the reasons which induce me to move for a very considerable extension of the limits of the inquiry which has just been moved for by the right hon. Baronet, there are one or two points to which I am desirous of being allowed to refer, in order to prevent any misunderstanding of my Motion. In the first place, I wish to state that I have no intention in the Motion I am about to make to embarrass or impede the inquiry for which the right hon. Gentleman has moved. There are many Members in this House, and I am one of them, who 372 are desirous for this inquiry, and, as has been justly stated by the right hon. Baronet, the tenour of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe), when he explained the reasons of his resignation, was such as to deserve, as it received, the sympathy and good feeling of the House; and I really do not believe, referring to what has been said by the right hon. Baronet, there was a man in this House— I am quite sure I may say this for my noble Friend the Member for Stamford— who, in supporting the Resolution of the 12th of April, had the slightest idea that he was calling in question the personal honour of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne. I am bound in truth, however, to say that the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, with regard to the interference with Inspectors' Reports in the Education Office, was not satisfactory to my mind, or removed from it the desire for an inquiry, because the right hon. Gentleman in the course of his speech mentioned to the House, for the first time, that which we had no previous knowledge nor idea of—namely, that in the month of January, 1861, a Minute was passed by the Office, in which he was Vice President, restricting in the most material degree the Reports of those Inspectors. If there were no other reason on my part for desiring this inquiry, I should desire that the Minute passed three years ago, but of which this House never heard a word till they were told of it in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and the policy of that Minute, should be the subject of investigation. There are many hon. Gentlemen in this House—hon. Gentlemen who have given great attention to the education of the people—who will agree with me that there is no information on this subject so valuable, none given with so much ability, and for the most part with such impartiality, as the information contained in those Reports of the Inspectors. I should view with extreme disinclination and jealousy any change of policy on the part of the Education Office which would limit, as curtailment would limit, the information which those Inspectors have been accustomed to give the House and the country. And let me say that, should the House think fit to adopt the Amendment which I am about to move, it would be my proposal that the first subject to be considered by the Committee should be that of the Inspectors' Reports, and I would Suggest to the right hon. Gentleman 373 that the difficulty which he suggests may be entirely removed before the Committee proceeds to consider the larger question which I propose for its consideration — it should present its views to this House on the Reports of the Education Inspectors. There is another point on which I wish to avoid any misunderstanding. In bringing' forward this Amendment, I am acting without any discourtesy towards, or any want of confidence in, the right hon. Gentleman who has lately assumed and now fills the office of Vice President. On the contrary, I beg to say, with the utmost sincerity, that within the range of the Gentleman opposite to me I doubt if the noble Viscount the Prime Minister could have made a choice which I could have thought more satisfactory or more hopeful; and if there is a man in the House who, more than another, ought to support me, and who ought to feel grateful for what I suggest, it is the right hon. Gentleman. Neither is it my desire to cast any censure on the late Vice President. If I had brought forward the subject a few weeks ago, there are matters on which I should have questioned his conduct and administration; but the fact is, the explanations and disclosure which have been made in this House within the last few weeks have made me entirely doubtful as to the quarter on which the blame of those transactions rests. There is no doubt that a deep feeling of dissatisfaction and distrust of the administration of the Educational Department prevails throughout the country. Whether the fault be with the President or the Vice President, or with the President and the Vice President together, or with that mysterious body who are spoken of in every letter as "my Lords," or with the Secretary who signs my Lords' letters, or writes their letters for them, I am at a loss to determine; and it is one of those questions as to which I ask the House to institute an inquiry. I approach the subject solely with a view to promote the interests of education in this country. I ask the Government and hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House whether they can say that the present mode of administering the annual grant is exactly what they would wish it to be? Can any reasonable cause be assigned why the Department should be constituted on principles which differ from those of every other Department of the State, and which in every other Department have been long exploded and abandoned. Under our Par- 374 liamentary system, it is the object and desire of the country that at the head of each Department there should be a man whose time, attention, and mind are concentrated on it, and who has full control over it, subject only to the general check of the Cabinet and of the responsibility I which he owes to Parliament. That is the system under which the great Departments of State are administered; but what is the state of affairs in the Education Office? In the Education Department; there are eight or ten Ministers instead of one, and as to responsibility, there is none. The Board is composed of the Lord President, the Lord Privy Seal, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Earl Russell, the Premier, the President of the Poor Law Board, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Vice President. Nothing could illustrate more completely the confusion of management than the fact that the right hon. Member for Calne, in the course of three or four sentences of his speech the other evening, spoke first of Earl Granville as the head of the Office, then of himself, and a little while after he spoke of the Committee of "My Lords," as they are called, as being the heads. The Board is a very hydra, in fact.
Now as to the circumstances under which this body exists. In the year 1855, when the subject of education was very much discussed, I and other Members as well suggested to Earl Russell that there should be a responsible Minister of Education in this House. Earl Russell, in withdrawing his Bill on the subject of education, intimated that the Government were willing to accede to that suggestion. On that occasion he used these words—When that Committee (of Education) was appointed he did not think that any better means could be adopted for managing the Educational Votes than by intrusting the control of them to a council of several Ministers; but circumstances had since changed, and he thought it would be for the benefit of the public service if the President of the Committee of Council were to be acknowledged as the Minister of Education, and that the Department of Education should be represented in that House by a person who might, perhaps, hold the rank of a Privy Councillor, and who might be able to defend any measure that might be adopted." [3 Hansard, cxxxix. 388.]I did not infer from those words that it was the noble Earl's intention that the action of the Committee of Council should be carried on simultaneously with that of the new Minister. At the commencement of 1856 a Bill was introduced by Earl Granville in the House of Lords; and in 375 the debate upon it some of the most distinguished statesmen of the country—the Earl of Derby, Earl Grey, the Earl of Ellenborough, Lord Monteagle, and the Marquess of Lansdowne — took part. They were unanimous in their approval of the appointment of an Education Minister, but the Marquess of Lansdowne was the only one who expressed any approbation—and that very faint—of the mode in which it was proposed to constitute the office. The Earl of Derby said—But if the time had arrived for charging a responsible Minister with the duties of instruction, it appeared to him well worthy of consideration whether it would not be well to supersede the Privy Council altogether in this matter, and to have a Minister at the head of a Department, who should have no other duties to perform, and who should be, in fact, responsible for the education of the people." [3 Hansard, cxl. 815.]Those are the views which I myself entertain. The Earl of Ellenborough said—If they wished to have a department well conducted, they should rather place it in the hands of one than of two Ministers, however able; and he certainly did hope that this Bill was intended to delegate all the duties connected with education substantially to the one officer who was to represent the Board in the House of Commons. It was quite enough work for one man, and that work never would be well done till it was confided to one man only." [Ibid. 819.]Earl Grey said—He concurred in the opinion, that it would be better to dissociate the Presidency of Council from the superintendence of the Educational Department." [Ibid. 821.]And Lord Monteagle said—He rejoiced that Government had at last dealt with this important question; he could not, however, approve of the proposed plan. A Board or Committee of Education, as appointed under the old system, was in principle and constitution one of the worst modes of administration." [Ibid. 816.]After condemning the Board of Trade and Board of Control as precedents, he went on—As far as he could discover, these Boards were liable to be really represented by subordinate persons, all true responsibility being lost; and, however desirous the Board might be of discharging its duty, wrong measures would be adopted and carried into effect, from the nature of which it would be apparent that the Board was not represented by the nominal head of the Department, but by its subordinate officers." [Ibid. 817.]I will call also another witness — the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was not then in office, but who sat on one of those elevated seats which are sometimes resorted to by servants out of place. The 376 right hon. Gentleman, however, at that time felt it his business to criticize somewhat severely all the measures that proceeded from the Government of that day, of which the noble Viscount now at the head of the Administration was also Premier. On the third reading of the Bill the present Chancellor of the Exchequer attacked the measure in its entirety, and took grave objections to the appointment of the Education Minister. I am thankful that the right hon. Gentleman did not then succeed in his objections, but there was one point urged by the right hon. Gentleman in which I entirely concurred. The language of the right hon. Gentleman then was to this effect—They had some analogous institutions to which they might refer. The Board of Trade was one of them. He did not, however, hesitate to say that the constitution of that Department was a bad constitution. Instead of being a Department with a regular organization and one responsible head, and the other members bearing a defined relation in subordination to him, they had two parties, cheek by jowl—a President and a Vice President, of equal official rank, the Vice President being, in fact, the more important man of the two, especially if he happened to sit in that House while the President sat in the House of Lords." [3 Hansard, cxl. 1212.]The authority of the right hon. Gentleman is high, and I think that the objection which he made to the President and Vice President sitting "cheek by jowl," so far as the Board of Trade is concerned, applies exactly, or with still greater force, to the constitution of the Education Department. Having quoted the opinions of the most eminent and distinguished men on the subject, I would further ask the House whether their prophecies have not to a great extent been realized by the result. I now wish to call the attention of hon. Members to the language which was used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne a short time since. In reply to some observations of my noble Friend the Member for Stamford (Lord Eobert Cecil), the right hon. Gentleman said—The noble Lord did me too much honour in attributing to me the undivided management and responsibility of what he calls the Educational revolution that has taken place during the last three years. I am but the humble instrument of much higher authorities, and all these changes have been submitted to the Educational Committee, composed of the highest officers of the State, under whose directions I have to act. I should be tempted to take to myself—if I were worthy of it—all the responsibility and the blame for what has been done…It matters very little to the House what my opinions on this subject may be, but I can assure it that in what I have had to do with regard to education I have 377 looked upon it as a matter of business in a department which I have had to administer under principals. All my efforts have been directed to carrying out the directions I have received from my official superiors in the manner most calculated to attain the end they had in view." [3 Hansard, clxxiii. 1685.]I think the spirit which induced the right hon. Gentleman to take upon his own shoulders blame in the matter is a spirit worthy of a British Minister, and if I find fault with him it is for having condescended to accept—and the same observation applies to his successor — office on conditions so humiliating. But the right hon. Gentleman having expressed these very strong views was shortly after assailed by a Motion questioning the conduct of the Education Department with regard to the Reports of the Inspectors, and the result of such Motion was that he resigned. Now, holding the opinions which he did, and seeing that he was simply acting as a subordinate, I do not think it was he who ought to have resigned, but rather Earl Granville, the head of the Department. This brings me to what occurred on Saturday last, when, as we are informed by the newspapers, there was a gathering of those great officers who compose the Committee of Council. I find there were then in attendance the Lord President, the Lord Privy Seal, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the President of the Poor Law Board, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Vice President of the Department. In addition to all these was the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department. Now the name of the right hon. Baronet had not appeared in the list of the members of the Educational Department which I have read to the House. But in these days of volunteer movement I suppose we must look upon the right hon. Gentleman as a volunteer in aid of the Educational Department of the Government. In my humble judgment, however, the duties of this Department would be far more efficiently discharged by the President and Vice President of the Board of Education than they are at all likely to be under the authority or guidance of so large a number of men, however eminent or distinguished they may be in the government of the country. But, be that as it may, these dignitaries it may be supposed held a sort of coroner's inquest over the dead body of the Endowment Minute, and, if they did, it may very well be imagined that the verdict given by the Vice President would be, "Found drowned." Then comes the 378 question, "What were the circumstances under which these distinguished persons met? Saturday was a day on which a critical meeting of the Conference was approaching. A general belief existed that the question of peace or war was hanging in the balance. We may well imagine that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was considering how the expenses of that war were to be defrayed, and that the First Lord of the Admiralty was counting up his iron ships. ["Question, question!"] I venture to tell those hon. Gentlemen who interrupt me that I am speaking to the question in adverting to the arrangement by which these great officers of State are brought together to attend to the details of the Education Question, and I would confidently ask what business had they, whose minds must be occupied by the gravest subjects, to assemble to decide upon points with regard to an endowment scheme which it is pretty well known the country will not stand? I may add that I am not altogether without personal experience in these matters. I had the honour myself in a former Government of being a member of this Committee of Council, and that Government acted, I think, more wisely and more prudently than the present Government appear to have done. [A laugh,] Hon. Gentlemen will admit that it is only natural I should hold that opinion, and I feel they will concur with me, at all events, so far as relates to the point we are now discussing, when I tell them that I can remember only one occasion on which we met together as members of the Council, and that the impression then, created was that we were interfering with the business of other men who could do it better. The experiment was not accordingly repeated, and it was left to my right hon. Friend near me and the President of the Council to discharge the whole duties of the Office. I would further remind the House that the Board of Trade is far better constituted, in two important respects, than the Education Department, one being that the President of the former can devote the whole of his time to the business of his office, whereas the President of the Committee of Council has other important duties to perform. I concur, I may add, with Earl Grey that, for the most obvious reasons, it is unwise that the Lord President of the Council should, in conjunction with his other offices, hold that of head of the Education Department. What is more important is that, although there is a long 379 list of high officers of State who form what is called the Committee of Council on Trade, they have long ceased to act, and the business of the Board is left entirely in the hands of the President and Vice President. The Board of Control has also been mentioned as a precedent; but I submit that it is no precedent whatever. There were certain high officers who were said to form the Board of Control; the fact, however, is, that they never meet now, nor have they ever met for the last thirty or forty years. Perhaps some hon. Members may quote the Board of Admiralty as an example. The constitution of that Board, though much disapproved of, has this advantage. There is a responsible Minister at the head of it, and the Board does not consist of a number of persons with other avocations or duties to attend to. I think I have now shown the House that there are grave theoretical objections to this Education Department as it stands. Let me now ask whether its working has been such as to reconcile us to the existence of these theoretical objections. I will not enter into any argument upon those questions which have lately been the subject of debate in this House, but will only advert to such points as illustrate the working of the Department. And, first, let me refer to the Revised Code which occupied so much of our attention two years ago. Whatever were the merits or demerits of that Code, the House and the country had a right to regard that Code as expressing the deliberate opinion of the Education Office upon the subjects to which it refers, and as, so far as the Government is concerned, a final settlement of the questions with which it deals. It was so accepted by the House. Under these circumstances it is a remarkable evidence of how this Department works that, within a year from that settlement, a Minute was laid upon the table which entirely departed from the principles on which the Revised Code was founded. That Code proposed to settle the question of endowments; but within twelve months of its adoption a Minute was laid upon the table which reversed all that the Code had said upon the subject, and was of such a character as to agitate the country from one end to the other. If the Education Department had been under the guidance of a single man, acting under a full sense of responsibility, that subject would never have been treated with the carelessness and levity which led to such a result. The next proof of the unsatisfactory working 380 of this Department is the course taken last year as to supplementary rules. In September, 1863, a series of supplementary rules were published, of which this House, in its Parliamentary capacity, knows nothing, but which were entirely at variance not only with the Revised Code, but with the Report of the President and Vice President of the Committee of Council presented to the Queen in 1862. In that Report it was intimated that the children would be presented for examination "according to standards selected for them in the first instance by those interested in their success," while, by the ninth of the supplementary rules, it is announced that "a deduction of at least one-tenth will be made from the grant to a school, unless one class be presented above standard 3." And another rule goes so far as to enact that no grant will be paid unless one class be presented as high as standard 3. I listened with great interest to hear the answer of the right hon. Gentleman to the question this evening of the hon. Member for Bradford, in regard to the statement current throughout the country in reference to the night schools. I was, however, very glad to learn that, although a considerable change has been made with respect to night schools, it is not so extensive and objectionable as the public has been led to suppose. These changes have produced in the country an impression, that the present Administration is indifferent to the promotion of the education of the people. I have no right to make such a charge, but the effect of each of these vexatious charges has been to diminish the amount of the grant, and the impression unhappily does prevail that the present Government care much more about the reduction of the grant than about the promotion of education. The grant this year will be very much less than it was last year; but while the grant has been reduced, and there has been a moderate increase in the number of schools and scholars, the expenses of the office have greatly increased. Since 1860 the schools have advanced from 7,272 to 7,739, and the children from 996,832 to 1,107,354; but in the same time the number of Inspectors has increased from 62 to 84, and their salaries from £24,075 to £32,650. I know no more valuable service that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President could render in the new office which he has undertaken than that of 381 advising the adoption of some mode by which the central action of the Department should be supported by local action in the various provinces of the country. There is only one other subject to which I desire to refer, but it is one to which I wish to draw the serious attention of the House. It is a point in respect to which I think an absolute necessity exists for some alteration. I refer to the system according to which the Education Minutes are now laid upon the table of this House, and the sanction of Parliament is asked to the various changes which take place in this Department. The House will remember the feeling which was excited by the manner in which the Revised Code was laid upon the table, on, I think, the very last day of the Session of 1861. In the following Session that Code was discussed, and certain articles were agreed to, with the sole view of guarding the House against sudden surprise in future. One of those articles is to the effect that, before any change can be acted upon, full particulars respecting it shall be laid before the House at least one month. I must candidly say that, after consulting with several of my friends who are competent to give an opinion upon the construction of Minutes of this kind, there is a difference in their views as to the precise meaning of those two articles, but I think it is a great evil that articles intended for the security of the House should have been worded in such a manner as to create difference of opinion as to their construction. My own view of these articles is, that it was intended that no Minute should be submitted to Parliament during the Session, but at the commencement of each year: whatever change it might have been thought necessary to introduce, should be embodied in the new Code, and be laid upon the table for the sanction of Parliament. Of course it cannot be expected that we are to have an education debate every month, but if the course which it appears to me was intended to be taken is adopted, the House will be made aware of all the changes that have been made, and will be called upon to sanction or reject them after due consideration. I am sorry to have detained the House so long upon what I know must be to many a very dry and unattractive question, but still it is a question of very great importance. I think experience has shown us that the present constitution of that office is at variance with the precedents of 382 other Departments, and is objectionable as raising doubts whether blame should be cast upon this man or upon that man. You cannot expect a Department consisting of eight or ten different statesmen, and so arranged that it is impossible to say to whom responsibility attaches, you cannot expect that such a Department will satisfactorily conduct the affairs of an office having to deal with a subject so complicated. Wherever the fault may lie it cannot be denied that a feeling of irritation and annoyance has been created throughout the country. That is an evil, but by changing the constitution of the office I think much may be done to counteract that evil. I have now to move the addition to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman of the words of which I have given notice, and it is in no spirit of personal attack or censure that I propose this Amendment, but with a view of doing what I have ever desired, contributing to the improvement and extension of education among the people.
At the end of the Question, to add the words "and further to inquire into the constitution of that Committee, and how far their mode of conducting the business of the department is consistent with the due control of Parliament over the annual Education Grants."—(Sir John Pakington.)
MR. H. A. BRUCE
said, that although the right hon. Gentleman had in his remarks disarmed his proposition of its most objectionable feature — that of causing delay in the proposed inquiry, yet he thought he should be able to show sufficient reasons why the Amendment should not be adopted by the House. At the very threshold lay the question of the constitution of the Committee. His right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had moved for a Select Committee to inquire into the practice of the Committee of Council as to Reports. That was a definite subject of inquiry, and in the selection of a Committee to consider it, men conversant with official business would be chosen, with special reference to their capability of giving an opinion on the subject of inquiry. But the subject that would be submitted to the Committee, if the Amendment were adopted, would be much wider and larger than an inquiry into the practice of the Privy Council, with reference to the Reports of Inspectors; and to deal with it properly, men must be selected to represent various 383 opinions and various interests. An inquiry based upon the proposition of the right hon. Baronet would, in fact, be an inquiry into the constitution of the Education Department affecting different religious bodies, and a variety of interests, and would raise questions of great delicacy and difficulty. The Committee, therefore, must be constituted on an entirely different principle. That objection alone proved the extreme inconvenience which would follow the adoption of the Amendment. But, apart from that, he ventured to say that the right hon. Baronet had misapprehended, and therefore had misrepresented the actual state of the case as regarded the Education Department. The right hon. Baronet had stated that the government of that Department rested with the Committee of Council. From that proposition he (Mr. H. A. Bruce) entirely dissented. The Committee of Council was first appointed in 1839, and superintended the application of the insignificant sum then voted by Parliament to promote public education in Great Britain. The members of that Committee were appointed individually, and at every change of Government by Order in Council. From 1839 to 1856 the affairs of the office were administered by the Committee, and then, indeed, the Department was open to the objection urged by the right hon. Baronet against the existing state of things, of a want of distinct responsibility. The dissatisfaction which prevailed led to an alteration, and an Order in Council was made in February, 1856, which was as follows:—The Lords of your Majesty's most Honourable Privy Council beg leave humbly to recommend to your Majesty that the education establishments now attached to different departments be united under one direction, and be represented in both Houses of Parliament; and for this purpose their Lordships beg leave humbly to recommend to your Majesty that, for the future, the establishment to be called the Education Department be placed under the Lord President of the Council, assisted by a member of the Privy Council, who shall be called the Vice President of the Committee of the said Privy Council on Education, and shall act under the direction of the Lord President, and shall act for him in his absence.From that time till the discussion of the Revised Code, a Committee of Council had rarely sat, and none had sat that had not been summoned by the Lord President, and he would undertake to say that there had been no binding necessity for any Committee to be summoned. In 384 1857 the first Vice President was appointed, but the Act did not define his powers, and the question was in what light was that appointment viewed at the time it was first made. The Vice President was intended at that time to be a responsible officer, and the House practically regarded him as such. In moving the Education Estimates for the last time in 1856, the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary said—The responsibility of individual members of the Committee of Privy Council I fully admit; hut then that Committee is only summoned occasionally, and then to discuss questions of principle and not of detail. If, however, there were a department in which responsibility should be concentrated, represented by a Minister in this House, who would necessarily be acquainted with all the details of the subject, I think we should derive the same advantage as followed, in regard to the administration of the Poor Law, by having the President of the Poor Law Board in this House; and I believe that there will be a similar advantage in regard to education by the alteration proposed by the measure I refer to.In consequence of the Act of 1856, the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works was appointed Vice President of the Council, and upon the occasion of the Education Estimates being moved in 1857, the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Pakington) stated that—He must also state that he derived great pleasure from the fact that the Vote for educational purposes had been submitted to the notice of the Committee by a Minister directly connected with the Department of Education in this country, and who must be held responsible for the various items which the Vote contained.No alteration had since that period been made either as regarded the law or the practice, and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) at what period the alteration of which he complained had taken place, and when the Vice President had ceased to be responsible? The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works was succeeded in office by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley), whose energy and ability in the conduct of his office were admitted on all sides. He would ask any hon. Member who remembered the right hon. Gentleman in office, whether the slightest doubt ever presented itself to his mind as to the responsibility incurred by the right hon. Gentleman with reference to the measures which he submitted to the House? He was in turn succeeded in office by his right 385 hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), and it seemed almost absurd for him to ask the House whether or not his right hon. Friend was held responsible during his five years of office for the conduct of his Department. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) had quoted words made use of by his right hon. Friend, and, taken apart from the circumstances under which they were uttered, the inference which he drew from them might be correct. But it should be remembered that the policy which had been pursued by the Education Office had long been attributed to the idiosyneracy and to the political proclivities of his right hon. Friend; and the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) had told them on a recent occasion, that his measures betrayed his adhesion to the principles of the hon. Members for Leeds and Sheffield. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire said, during the same debate, that he perceived in the measures of the late Vice President indications of; a mind dissatisfied with its employment —in fact, the restless turnings of au ambitious and discontented spirit. His right hon. Friend, while admitting that he was responsible for the measures which he submitted, reminded the House that those measures had received the consideration of others besides himself, and that they would not have been submitted to the House if they had not received the approval of experienced statesmen, who were not only Members of the Committee of Council, but were also Members of the Cabinet. The right hon. Gentleman would have an opportunity of speaking for himself; but considering that it was he who practically administered the funds voted by that House for education, and that it was through his hands the whole business of the office passed, he (Mr, Bruce) was sure he need not appeal to him to say whether he did not consider himself responsible.
There was, doubtless, much advantage in bringing under the consideration of statesmen of experience the new and delicate subjects connected with the administration of the Education Department, There was an advantage in consulting many minds, which could be done without eluding, or seeking to elude, the responsibility which attached to the Ministers presiding over the Department. The right hon. Baronet was far too experienced a 386 statesman to object to the constitution of the Board, unless he could point out some practical evil arising from that constitution. Many changes had been effected during the last few years, which had been received with censure or approbation; but who had ever imputed their origin to the want of a responsible Minister? The first great labour was the compilation of the Code which contained the Minutes of previous years, in a short and intelligible form. Soon after the publication of the Government Code, the Commission on Education was appointed. The Report of that Commission pointed out many defects in the existing system, and it became the imperative duty of the Department to consider them. The changes were subsequently brought before the House in the Revised Code, which undoubtedly affected the interests of great numbers, including managers of schools, schoolmasters, &c.; and a great clamour was raised throughout the country. The subject was fully discussed, and the system as now in operation adopted. He would be glad to know what evidence of weakness or defective responsibility was exhibited in carrying these changes into effect? One of the arguments used by the right hon. Baronet was, that there was not sufficient financial control. Had the expenditure been found to increase, and the education given should be of an inferior character, the House might resolve that the Department had been a failure. Considering, however, that during the past five years the average number of scholars attending the national schools had increased from 748,000 to 969,000, and that the expenditure had not only not increased but had decreased by about £100,000, it was fair to assume that the reverse was the fact. The former imperfect and unsatisfactory inspections had been replaced under the present system by examinations, which tested the character of education and apportioned the amount of the grant according to the progress made. He asked again, then, in which of these important respects had the Department failed to discharge the duties imposed upon it? The grant itself was now more immediately under the control of the House than before. It was previously spread over fifteen subjects of a complicated and difficult nature. The number of subjects was now reduced to six, and the House had not the slightest difficulty in rectifying any error. Every year the 387 Estimates were laid before the House by a responsible Minister, and he wanted to know in what respect the financial control was less over that sum than over any other sum voted by the House. The point which the right hon. Gentleman adduced as being the gravest blot in the system of the Educational Department was the conduct of that Department with respect to the Minutes affecting endowments. The right hon. Gentleman said that the proposal to change the practice with, reference to endowment would never have been made if there had been a responsible Minister. He, on the other hand, believed that any responsible Minister, on ascertaining the results of that practice, would have done as the late Vice President had done, and hastened to lay those results before the House, and have asked them to join with him in procuring the alteration of the system. What was the practice with respect to endowments before the introduction of the Revised Code? It was the custom to withhold the grant in all cases where the endowment amounted to 30s. If, however, it fell short of that amount, even by one shilling, and the ordinary conditions of the grant were fulfilled, the grant of 9s. would be paid by the Privy Council Office, making the entire receipts of the school at least 47s. per head—a sum far in excess of the amount required for the purposes of education. Within the last few days a case had been brought to the knowledge of the Government, showing that the late Minute had tended to encourage lavish expenditure. In Hereford there had been two schools, possessing endowments respectively of £120 and £130, which received grants from the State of £102 in one case, and £130 in the other. The first impulse of the managers was to petition against the Minute of May last; but, subsequently, they thought better of it, and applied themselves to make good the requisite amount from fees and subscriptions, and with such success that they absolutely secured more than they previously acquired from the State. Here was an instance in a small cathedral town of two schools upon which there had been a useless waste of nearly £250. Was it possible for any Minister, especially one personally responsible for the administration of funds, to refrain from bringing such facts under the notice of the House? The right hon. Gentleman complained of the mode in which the Minutes and supplementary rules were published. But how did he connect that circumstance with the 388 non-existence of the single responsible Minister whom he desired to, see? The supplementary rules were, in fact, a number of complicated regulations made at the request and for the assistance of managers and schoolmasters throughout the country. If those rules were not in accordance with the language and spirit of the Minute, let it be shown, and let the earliest opportunity be taken of eliciting the sense of the House. But, in his opinion, no instructions to Inspectors or supplemental rules had ever been prepared without an honest desire on the part of the Department to conform in every way to that Minute. It would be highly inconvenient to include in the Code the immense number of administrative rules and instructions necessary to carry on the complicated work intrusted to the Department; at least, if that were done, the Code, instead of being tolerably short and intelligible, would very soon be thrown back into that state of confusion from which it emerged some four or five years ago. He felt bound to deprecate the spirit of suspicion with which every act of the Department was viewed, and he begged the House to believe that the Department was administered by men of honour and integrity, who had no pleasure in annoying managers by petty economies and vexatious regulations, and no desire to break faith with the House by travelling out of the regulations laid down for their guidance. It was sometimes hard to define the exact distinction between a Minute and a regulation; but if it were shown that the Committee of Council had violated the article which proscribed that new Minutes making material alterations in the Code should be laid on the table of the House, care should be taken to rectify an involuntary error. Having thus noticed the principal points brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman, he had only to say that he objected to his Amendment—first, because it implied a censure upon the constitution of the Committee of Council; and next, because the right hon. Gentleman had failed to show any ground for the large inquiry he proposed. He had further failed to show that there was any want of responsibility on the part of the Minister representing the Department in the House, or that any good would arise from the more direct responsibility which he wished to establish. And the House, he was sure, was too practical to direct an inquiry without some evil was first pointed out, and 389 some remedy for that evil suggested. The Department was still carrying out large changes, necessarily exciting uneasiness and jealousy in many quarters; and if at such a time an inquiry were made into the constitution of the Department, expectations as to changes would be excited, which must interfere with the efficient management of schools throughout the country.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, that thinking it exceedingly desirable that the House should dispose of that little matter before dinner, he would not enter into any of the questions connected with the Revised Code or the supplementary rules which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Privy Council had discussed. All he desired to do was to state the reasons why he preferred the words of his right hon, Friend to those of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The Department, in effect, said, "After three or four discussions we have been brought before the House of Commons and condemned. From that condemnation we appeal to the more formal, more exact, and more laborious tribunal of a Committee of the House of Commons." No proposal could be fairer; and so desirous was he to aid their appeal, that he wished the inquiry to be full, free, and untrammelled. But the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down commenced his speech with the startling announcement that the Committee was to be composed of officials. The question being one between the House of Commons and the Department charged with official misconduct in having tried to carry on its functions without giving to the House that information which it had a right to expect, the right hon. Gentleman proposed to try the guilt or innocence of the Department by a Committee of the nature referred to. He could imagine nothing more pleasant than a coterie of officials, assembled for the purpose of inquiring whether officials were to be blamed. The terms of reference, however, were even more important than the constitution of the Committee. If it tinned out that no offence had been committed, the terms the Government proposed were ample. But suppose the Committee found that an offence had been committed, they would want to know, not merely the crime, but the culprit, and thus it would become necessary to inquire into the constitution of the Department. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) gave an explanation of his conduct the other night which, as far as he was 390 personally concerned, in the opinion of every one who heard him, must have entirely cleared his honour. The right hon. Gentleman said that certain marks, on which great stress was laid, and by which t was proved, or thought to be proved, hat the Department ordered the Inspectors to mutilate their own Reports, had been affixed without his knowledge; and, for reasons peculiar to himself, the fact of their having been affixed remained unknown to him. But the Lord President Earl Granville must have read the Reports and seen the marks; and the same observation applied to Mr. Lingen, the permanent secretary. They must both have known perfectly well that the Reports were sent back to Inspectors to expurgate those marked passages to which the Committee of Council objected. If the blame did not fall properly upon the Vice President, he (Lord Robert Cecil) wanted to know whether it fell on the Lord President or the permanent secretary of the Department. The right hon. Gentleman told them that since 1862 Inspectors had never been ordered to expurgate passages which were indicated to them from their Reports. But he held in his hand evidence that exactly the contrary had taken place. As recently as last November a Report was sent back to an Inspector with special passages marked out, and he was ordered to expurgate his Report in that respect. On a former occasion he had been unable to quote the evidence which he relied upon, because he felt afraid of exposing particular Inspectors to the vengeance of the Department; but now he had a pamphlet from an Inspector upon whom the Department had done its worst. Mr. Morell had been dismissed, and had naturally betrayed the secrets of the prison-house. I find that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the other night, although in intention absolutely true, was still in fact absolutely false. Mr. Morell last autumn gave in a Report respecting a school in the country, in which the following passage occurs:—The premises and fittings are good; but an infants' school-room would be a great improvement. The discipline is good, and the instruction, though not very forward, is accurate and appropriate, as tar as it goes, and as advanced as can be expected, considering how recently the present teachers have been in charge.Now, that remark drew attention to the recent appointment of the teacher, which was a sore subject with the Committee of Privy Council, because they had issued 391 supplementary rules by which they confined to a particular branch every school the scholars of which had not reached the third standard of the Revised Code. That rule might be just with regard to the old schools, but to the new schools it was most unjust, and they therefore refused to allow any allusion in the Reports to the circumstances that stamped it as unjust. These words, "considering how recently the present teachers have been in charge'' were struck out by Mr. Lingen, and sent back to Mr. Morrell. That fact was directly and positively at variance with the statement made the other night in that House by the right hon. Gentleman. He repeated that all in that House gave absolute credence to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, but it raised the question how it was that the right hon. Gentleman was in ignorance of what was going on in his own Department. How was it that the permanent secretary of the Department allowed the right hon. Gentleman to make his statement in that House without bringing the facts under his notice? How was it that, whenever there was to be any inquiry, there was always that double shuffle? They never knew who was responsible— whether the Lord President, the Vice President, or the Secretary of Council; and the so-called system of Government became a mere system of scapegoats. They could not get to the bottom of the matter. The House passed a Resolution condemning the Government The Government said, "Oh no! it is the Privy Council." The Privy Council was represented by the Lord President, but the Lord President said it was the Vice President. The Vice President resigned and, proved that he was innocent, and they inquire further, and find out that it was the secretary. They cannot get at the bottom of the matter unless they had full liberty to inquire. Why was it that they were wholly unable to arrive at the real culprit, or to ascertain by whose orders and on whose responsibility these alterations were made? He wished to go into the inquiry untrammelled by the terms of reference, and therefore it was that he should record his Vote for the Amendment of his right hon. Friend.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
There is some danger of our losing sight of the real question before us. However I might be inclined to agree to the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Droitwich—and assuredly a system that in the year 1839 cost £30,000, and in 1864 has 392 mounted up to the enormous expenditure of £705,000, is in itself an argument in favour of inquiry — yet I cannot agree with the right ton. Gentleman that this is either the time or place for proposing the Motion that he has brought forward. If he had proposed it in a substantive form and had given his reasons, I should have felt inclined to support him on the present occasion; but I venture to think that his Motion is at present unnecessary, and if I may take the liberty of saying so, ill-timed, and that mischief may arise from its being added as a rider to the Motion. But if the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman is ill-timed, the course of the Government on this occasion is still more ill-timed and unfortunate. I think so, because, in the face of the explanations which we have heard in this House, it is ill-timed by the Government, unjust to my right hon. Friend the late Vice President, and uncalled for by this House. I was in hopes that when the Clerk at the table read the Resolution — which was carried in a moment of surprise by the noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil), when he was endeavouring to close that little account before dinner on the 13th of April —it would have been read for the purpose of being rescinded; for if ever there was a Resolution which ought to have been taken up by Her Majesty's Government, it was this Resolution, carried by the noble Lord in a moment of surprise. But the course which the Government have pursued is framed on the system of justice that formerly prevailed in the Border counties, where the criminal was hanged first and tried afterwards. This is the system you are pursuing towards my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne. Can anything be more unjust or more unfair than the treatment to which he has been subjected, not only by the House but by Her Majesty's Government? At this present moment there is the fact of the censure directed against the right hon. Gentleman by the noble Lord, who takes pains to tell us that he entirely acquits him of dishonourable conduct—that he gives credence to his word, and has faith in his honour. Yet, in the teeth of those admissions, that Resolution is allowed to remain on the records of this House. He has been censured without inquiry, and sacrificed, as I think, without a cause. On the 13th of April, some four weeks ago, one or more officials under the Privy Council, who, I will take the liberty of 393 saying, in spite of what has been stated both here and elsewhere, were equally discontented and disloyal servants of the Department, took the opportunity of dropping accusations into the lion's mouth, then represented by the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, who appeared to be neither an unwilling nor an unconscious recipient of those false and calumnious charges. [Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
I repeat—false and calumnious charges. The noble Lord has retracted those charges to-night.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
Then you ought to have retracted them. If I have understood the noble Lord, lie has retracted them to-night, for he said he had every confidence in the honour of my right hon. Friend.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
The statement of the hon. Gentleman is so strong that I may be permitted to explain. My Motion was couched against the Committee of Privy Council. As regards the; Committee of Privy Council, I retract not I one syllable, but as regards the right hon. I Gentleman, I believe the account he gives, and therefore the terms of the censure do not apply personally to him.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
O yes, it is all very well for the noble Lord to say that now; but I am sure the House will agree with me that, although his Resolution was pointed against the Committee of Privy Council, the speech was expressly directed against the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. LONGFIELD
I rise to Order. The hon. Gentleman is alluding to a speech made in a former debate, which is highly irregular.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for throwing his shield over the noble Lord; but the House will remember that the attack was made personally against the Vice President of the Committee of Privy Council. What happened? Why, these precious charges by these disloyal servants—and I suppose I cannot be called to order for that—these charges, by disloyal, discontented Inspectors, were embodied in a Resolution, and were carried through this House, and the little account was closed before dinner. The Motion was carried to a division at the unpropitious hour when the propen- 394 sities of the hyena were developed in the representatives of the people—when an attempt was made to suppress all debate by the hungry howls of those who wished to divide in time and close the little account before dinner. There was a majority of 101 to 93, and the right hon. Gentleman was censured, no defence being made for him, and no word having been spoken for him; he was censured, as I think, most unjustly and unfairly. What is the course taken by Her Majesty's Ministers on this occasion? They come down four weeks afterwards to say that their honour is impugned, and they move for a Committee of Inquiry. I must be permitted to say that their honour cannot be very sensitive, when it takes four weeks to look into their wounds and move for a Committee. What followed? On the 19th of April my right hon. Friend came down here, and gave such an explanation that, in the opinion even of the opponents of the right hon. Gentleman, if the First Minister of the Crown had risen in his place, and moved the rescinding of the Resolution, it would have been carried unanimously by this House. Is it not too much at this time of day to come down and ask, after more than four weeks have elapsed, for a Committee to whitewash the Office at the expense of the subordinate? I think that in the history of Parliamentary conflicts such a thing has never occurred as that when a Department is attacked the whole onus should be thrown upon the subordinate, while the President still retains his office. If there is to be an inquiry, let us have an inquiry into the whole Vote for Education. Believing that the Resolution of the noble Lord ought to be rescinded, I cannot give my support to the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington), though I concur in his motive. Nor can I give my support to the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey); but if an opportunity does occur, at the least I will test the sincerity and strength of will of the House by moving that the Resolution passed on the 13th of April last be rescinded by this House.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, he did not understand that the debate in progress had any personal reference, and he thought that if the right hon. Gentleman who represented the Government had only seen the question in its true light, he would not have objected to the Amendment. If the previous debate was a per- 395 sonal one he could understand that the object of the Motion then made would be to cover the reputation of the Minister, and the Government might legitimately oppose any such addition to the reference as would divert the inquiry from that object. As far, however, as the debate was meant to cast no reflection upon the Minister, but referred to the general constitution and conduct of the Office, he would ask the right hon. Baronet whether he would not agree to the Amendment and allow the inquiry to take place into the constitution and general conduct of the Office as connected with the practices which had been complained of. If the late Vice President of the Council was wrongly accused, he had been amply justified by what had passed since. The only thing which surprised him, and which he regretted, was that his resignation was the consequence of the vote come to by the House; but the fact of that resignation was an argument for making the inquiry general into the constitution of the Office. He had taken no part in the debate because he considered it to be a discussion on the practice of the Office in the matter of these Reports, a point on which he had never flinched from expressing his opinion plainly; and he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) to say whether, when the question was raised in the previous year, he did not frankly defend a practice which he had begun in the Office, and which he was always ready to maintain was necessary there. When he went to the Privy Council Office he found that the Inspectors had in more than one instance got into the habit of exceeding their proper and legitimate functions. For example, he found that once a year they met in a sort of Parliament in the Office to discuss not only abstract questions relating to education, but the conduct of the Office specifically; and they adopted Resolutions upon a division which might or might not be consistent with the administration of the Department in pursuance of the Votes of the House. In his opinion the Inspectors not only exceeded their functions in doing so, but they established a dangerous practice. He therefore took upon himself to put a stop to it, stating that though very likely it might be for the public interest that the Inspectors should meet to discuss educational questions, he must demur to their adoption of Resolutions which, as he had said, might be inconsistent with the ad- 396 ministration of the Department, by responsible Ministers, in pursuance of the votes of the House. Again, in some of their Reports he found that the Inspectors went far beyond all reasonable and proper limits, entering into philosophical disquisitions upon educational theories, writing essays rather than Reports, and thereby destroying much of their value as Reports. He was the first to restrain that practice. From time to time he sent back the Reports in draught to the Inspectors, pointing out the passages he objected to, and requesting them to alter their Reports accordingly. It was after a debate in this House upon the subject that he had laid down the rule that the Reports should be made under five different heads; and he took upon himself to say that any Report which travelled beyond these heads—four of which related to schools, teachers, discipline, and so an, the fifth consisting of general practical suggestions—could not be considered in the nature of a Report or be printed by the House as an official Report on schools. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) had modified that practice, and began the system which he had described as making the Inspectors their own censors. For himself, he confessed his fear that the result of the late division would be that no subsequent Vice President would venture to curtail these Reports in any respect, but would be obliged to give an unlimited licence to the Inspectors to write pamphlets, sermons, disquisitions, and reviews, at the public expense. He did not in the slightest degree question the right of the House, if they chose, to order the printing of thirty or forty educational treatises every year. From time to time the House ordered certain sermons which were preached before it to be printed; but he would never omit an opportunity of expressing his opinion against the practice in the case before the House of allowing sermons to be printed as Reports, and would always maintain that every Department should exercise some control over the Reports issued by it and were bound to prevent any such abuse. He did not take part in the late debate, because it did not seem to him that the debate turned upon that point. It rather seemed to involve a specific charge that in certain Reports passages were omitted which the Department wished to be omitted, while other passages which accorded with their policy were retained. That was a charge as to the grounds of 397 which he had no knowledge whatever, I and he therefore took no part in the debate. With regard to the Amendment before the House, he regarded it as most essential. Even if the question were a personal question a preliminary Report might be made on that special point before the Committee dealt with the general question, and the objection on the ground of delay in deciding on a personal charge would be thus met. He was strongly convinced of the necessity of a general investigation into the constitution and conduct of the Department; for he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that an Executive office with two Ministers, a President who had other business, and a Vice President who did the work, but whose responsibility was limited by the existence of a President—this was a constitution unparalleled in any other Department in the State. The system of Minutes of Council was highly unconstitutional, and, if necessary in this particular instance, highly dangerous unless f under the strictest control. By these Minutes the Crown was able to tax the country without due control of Parliament, and possibly even without the cognizance of Parliament. The constitutional theory was that the Crown asked for money, that the House of Commons granted it, and that the Lords assented to the grant. But by those Minutes, the country might be taxed before it had any public requisition, notice, or discussion, and the House might be involved in engagements from which it could not honourably extricate itself, and which added largely to the public expenditure, without the knowledge, and in many cases against the will of the House. The sooner such a system was brought under revision the better. In no other Department was there such discretion vested as that which gave the Committee of Council in possible cases unlimited powers of increasing and appropriating the public expenditure. It was true that at present any Minute of the Committee must lie upon the table for one month before it could have the force of a law;, but that was an insufficient provision. He was for having a better notice given to the House of any new Minute, and an entire stoppage of the practice of altering Minutes by mere circular letters; but he could not agree with his right hon. Friend that Minutes of Council should only come into operation at one period of the year. Such a restriction would interfere with the ordinary admi- 398 nistration of the Office. He would conclude by asking the Home Secretary whether, after what had passed, he still thought it necessary to oppose the Amendment?
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
I still think the subjects of inquiry proposed by the Motion and the Amendment respectively aught to be kept wholly separate and distinct. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich said he was quite ready to agree that the Committee should in the first instance, and before entering on the general inquiry, report on the specific charges, the subject of the inquiry which the Government propose; but the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord R. Cecil) repudiates any such proceeding, and says the specific is mixed up with the general inquiry, and it would be impossible to come to a conclusion on the former without going into the latter. On that point I entirely differ from the noble Lord. I think that the specific is quite distinct from the general inquiry, and that the two ought not to be mixed up together. They ought to be kept altogether distinct, and to be referred—if they are to be made the subjects of inquiry—to distinct Committees. My hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Osborne) seems to think that we are acting unfairly towards my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne. Nothing would grieve me more than to think so. My right hon. Friend thought that the Resolution of the 12th April made personal allusion to him; he has since perfectly exonerated himself from every personal charge; and certainly I was under the impression that in taking the course we have taken we were acting with the consent and approval of my right hon. Friend.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 93; Noes 142: Majority 49.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the practice of the Committee of Council on Education with respect to the Reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools.
And, on Tuesday, June 7, Committee nominated as follows:—
JOHN GEORGE DODSON, esq., Sir PHILIP DEMALPAS GRET EOERTON, bart., Lord HOTHAM, the Hon. CHARLES HOWARD, EDWARD HOWES, esq.;
Also the LORD ADVOCATE, and Lord ROBERT CECIL, but without the power of voting.