§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, I rise to move, pursuant to notice, for a Select Committee to inquire into the Constitution of the Committee of Council on Education, and the system under which the business of the office is conducted. I feel bound to renew in the present Session the Motion I made last year, in the shape of an Amendment to a Motion for another Committee, and again to make an appeal to the Government and the House whether the time has not arrived, when they ought to consider the present constitution of the Committee of Council on Education, and whether it is such as to enable it satisfactorily to discharge the important duties devolving upon it. In making this Motion, I think it only respectful to the House to state what are the objects which I have in view, and what objects I have not in view. Neither in the observations I now address to the House, nor in the proceedings before the Committee I propose to appoint, have I any desire to re-open the questions of the Revised Code, or of the Inspectors' Reports, or of the Endowment Minute, or any other of the various matters connected with the education of the people, which have from time to time been the subjects of discussion and debate in this House. I have two objects in view, and two only. The first is such a re-organiza- 848 tion of the Department intrusted with the superintendence of the education of the people, as may make it better adapted than it is now for the important functions it has to perform. My second object is, that this Department, if it is to be re-organized—as I trust it is—will be so constituted as to carry out that which now it does not even attempt—namely, to extend the assistance now given for educational purposes, which goes now only to the more favoured and more wealthy districts which now enjoy the benefits of national aid, to the whole of England. I am not aware that there has ever been, in the whole range of our system of government, any Department of the State at all organized on such principles, and in such a manner as this Committee of Council on Education now is. In my opinion, the organization of that Department is so defective, both in principle and theory, that it is open to very grave objections, and that it cannot possibly act with that degree of efficiency, and, above all, with that sense of responsibility, which we have a right to expect in every Department of the Executive. It is very true that at present we have three Departments governed by what are called "Boards." Wisely, we have lately got rid of a fourth Board, namely, the Board of Control—but we have a Board of Admiralty, a Board of Trade, and a Poor Law Board. Not one, however, of those Boards—whether they are in themselves good or not—not one of them affords any precedent for such an establishment as the Committee of Council on Education. The Board of Admiralty has a responsible Minister at its head, and although the Board acts as a Board, every member of it is charged with some duty immediately connected with the Department to which he belongs; he is not, as we find in the Committee of Council of Education, a Member of the Government, charged with other most important duties of a totally different character. So with regard to the Board of Trade; the constitution of that Board has been frequently objected to, and was considered rather as a warning to be avoided, than an example to be followed. We see in this House, for instance, the President and the Vice President of the Board, sitting side by side, equal in rank, equal in salary; and I am not aware of any difference between them, except that one occasionally speaks and the other never does. But the Board of Trade, although open to great objection in being 849 conducted by two Members of the Government of equal rank, still is not open to those objections which attach to the conduct of a great public Department by means of a Board. I remember that in the Committee which inquired into the constitution of the War Department, the late Sir James Graham said that the only manner in which you could manage a Board successfully, was to make it as unlike a Board as possible; and in the Board of Trade, although I believe there are high officers of State members of that body they never take any part in the conduct of its business. So with regard to the Poor Law Board, we have that Department extremely well conducted. And why? Because the business of that office is intrusted to the sole management of a single Minister, the President of the Board—he is not encumbered by the assistance of a Vice President on an equal footing with himself; and although in that office, as in the Board of Trade, there are certain high officers of State who are theoretically members of the Board, they never interfere with the President, or take any part in Poor Law business. Therefore the Poor Law Board forms no precedent for the manner in which the Education Department is conducted, and it is practically, though not theoretically free from the objections I have stated. In the year 1856 Lord Granville, who was then, as he is now, President of the Council, acceded in a manner which was highly appreciated by myself and others, to a wish repeatedly expressed in this House that the management of the public education should be intrusted to some Minister specially responsible for that Department; and he introduced a Bill to create the Education Department as we now find it. But I beg to state that when Lord Granville, in 1856, created the Education Department in the shape in which it now stands, he by no means met the wishes either of myself or, I believe, of other Gentlemen who urged the appointment of an Education Minister. The object I for one had in view in urging that appointment, and the object also, I believe of others, was that the great duty of superintending the various branches connected with the Department of Education should be intrusted to some one responsible Minister—some Minister who should be regarded as a State officer of high authority, who should have the sole conduct of that Department, and solely responsible, who should devote his 850 time and energy to its duties, and who should himself be a member of the Cabinet. That was the intention, I believe, of all those who at the time advocated the appointment of a Minister of Education, and we did not by any means contemplate that that object would be gained by an arrangement so unsatisfactory as, I venture to think, is the mere addition of another officer of the Privy Council to the Department as it already existed. And here let me remind the House who are the parties that constitute the Committee of Council on Education. They are the Lord President, the Lord Privy Seal, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the First Lord of the Treasury, the Foreign Secretary, the President of the Poor Law Board, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Vice President of the Committee. Now I do not wish to speak with any disrespect of those high functionaries, but it appears to me nothing less than absurd to suppose that statesmen intrusted with these offices can have time and leisure to give assistance—which assistance ought not to be required—to those who fill the office of President and Vice President of the Committee of Council. In this case it is not the fact, as in the Poor Law Board and the Board of Trade, that these statesmen are merely nominally members of the Committee of Council, and that they never attended its sittings. On the contrary, we see from time to time in the newspapers that they do attend, that they do come down to the Education Office to take part in the proceedings; and if my memory does not deceive me, the day is not long past on which, when it was supposed that a very important practical question was at issue, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Lord of the Admiralty did come down to assist in the deliberations of the Committee. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: The First Lord of the Treasury was present.] I mention the name of the First Lord of the Admiralty advisedly, and I do not remember the First Lord of the Treasury being present. Now, I have some experience of the office of First Lord of the Admiralty, and I haw reason to believe that the duties of that office are sufficient to occupy all his time without taking any part in the deliberations of any other Board. Of course, in all Departments of the State there will arise questions of gravity with regard to which the Cabinet will have to give advice and to exercise eontrol; but I cannot think that it is desirable there should be this 851 description of Cabinet within the Cabinet, the only practical result of which, in my opinion, is to remove the responsibility under which that Department of the State ought to be conducted. With these views, it is a satisfaction to me to find that I by no means stand alone in my opinion. When Lord Granville introduced the Bill of 1856 a debate arose on the second reading in the House of Lords, and some of the most eminent statesmen of all parties in that House stated upon that occasion their strong and decided objections to the plan adopted in the Bill. I always thought, and I still think, that the Government of 1856 made a very great mistake in not availing themselves of the opportunity of placing the Department of Education on an entirely new and more appropriate footing. Will the House allow me to repeat the language then used by Lord Derby? The noble Earl said—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 as 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.]Lord Ellenborough spoke exactly in the same sense. He 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 would never be well done until it was confided to one man only."—[3 Hansard, cxl. 819.]Earl Grey expressed a similar opinion. He deprecated the constitution of the Committee of Council; he deprecated the dividing of the responsibility between the President, the Vice President, and a number of other officers of State, who could not be supposed to have leisure to take any active part in the duties of an office which more, almost, than any other was devoted to matters of detail that required constant attention to enable any man to be conversant with them. Lord Monteagle spoke strongly in the same sense. When the Bill came down to this House there was not much discussion; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer took occasion to make a speech in which he expressed similar views to those of Lord Derby and the other Members of the House of Lords 852 to whom I have referred. The purport of his language was that the proposed constitution of the Education Department was, to a certain extent, analogous to that of the Board of Trade; that so far as it resembled that Board it was bad, and was following one of the worst constituted Departments of the State. While these objections were stated by men of eminence on constitutional grounds to the method on which the education was formed, let me call attention to the practical opinion of the man who perhaps more than any other must be regarded as a good judge of the working of the Department—I mean Mr. Lingen, who has for many years been the most active and able Secretary of the Department. He gave his evidence before the Commission of which the late lamented Duke of Newcastle was the head. He said—I think that if you were to follow out the present system, with its local and denominational subdivision, and with its detailed appropriations, it would break down at its centre unless you provided a much greater establishment than either Parliament or the country would be willing in the long run to agree to.Mr. Chester, another high authority, gave evidence to the same effect before the Commission. With this weight of authority against the present constitution of the Board, I know of no authority upon the other side, and I am not aware of any answer that can be made to these objections. The only answer I ever heard was that this Committee of Council was never intended to superintend the whole education of the country. I remember Lord John Russell stating in this House, when the Committee of Council was established in 1839—at a time when the annual Vote for education did not exceed £30,000—I remember Lord John Russell stating upon that occasion that it was not intended the Council should superintend the whole education of the country. But I must decline to accept such a statement as that as an authority at the present moment. It is too late to meet objections to the constitution of the Department by saying it is not intended to educate the whole of the country. I say that it ought to be so intended; and it is now too late to give any such answer. We are now every year voting a very large sum of money—not less than from £700,000 to £800,000—for the education of the people; and I think no one will contend that, raised as that sum is from taxes paid by all parts of 853 the country, it ought to be expended for the benefit of one portion only. I contend that it is the duty of the Education Department to consider that they are acting for the whole country, and that they ought to endeavour to extend education to the whole country. And if Mr. Lingen is right—and I believe him to be right—that the Department, constituted as it now is, must be held to be unequal to that duty, Mr. Lingen furnishes me with the strongest possible argument to prove that the present constitution of the Department is defective and insufficient. But, if the constitution of the Department is theoretically objectionable, do we find that in the practical working of it there is anything to reconcile us to its theoretical defects? On the contrary, without intending in the slightest degree to make any objection to the manner in which different right hon. Gentlemen have fulfilled the duties of the office, I must say I think there has been something in the way in which the business has been conducted that renders it very desirable that some change should be introduced. I think it is impossible to deny that throughout the length and breadth of the country a feeling of great dissatisfaction and distrust has arisen with regard to the mode in which the Department is administered. I remember having said last year, and I now repeat, that those complaints have arisen not so much from any fault on the part of the Ministers who have held office in the Department as from the defective constitution of the Department itself. As one illustration of the unsatisfactory working of the Department, I will refer to what took place in the case of the Revised Code. I do not mean to enter into a discussion of the Revised Code. I believe that like most other Codes it contained a good deal to be approved of and a good deal that was objectionable. But I allude to it now as an illustration of the working of the Department. I believe that a very general suspicion exists in the public mind—and I must confess that I share in that suspicion—that the Revised Code was not framed so much with a view to improve or extend the education of the people as with a view to diminish the amount of the annual grant. And I find that it succeeded in that object. In the year 1862 the grant amounted to £840,000; it was reduced in the following year to £800,000; and last year it was only £705,000; showing a reduction of nearly £140,000 in the 854 course of the three years. I am not an advocate of any lavish expenditure of the money voted by the House for the promotion of education; but I have always felt persuaded that we must have extravagant expenditure more or less so long as the Department is centralized as this is, for the centralization of a Department is sure to lead to more or less of extravagance. I will not enter into an examination of the question whether that £140,000 has been saved judiciously and without injury to the education of the people—if it has been, I admit that it ought to have been saved—but I deny that you ought to have diminished the grant; on the contrary, I maintain that so long as you have a large portion of the people deriving no benefit from the money voted by the House for the promotion of education, your duty was to have expended those £140,000 in the neglected districts of the country. I will give another illustration of the working of the Committee of Council derived from that much disputed subject—the "conscience clause." My opinions upon that subject are well known, and I am. not now about to enter into any discussion as to whether the conscience clause was or was not a good enactment. But every one, whether he approves of the clause or not, will admit that it was founded on a principle of the greatest importance; and I must say that I think the Education Department would have done better if, before they proceeded to enforce that clause on the managers of schools, they had submitted it to Parliament, and taken the opinion of Parliament upon the subject. I do not say there was any intention of doing wrong by the manner in which the clause was adopted and acted upon; but I think that it was a very serious mistake to adopt it without consulting Parliament; and I will go further and say that my firm opinion is that if there had been a real, responsible, sole Minister at the head of the Department, he would never have brought that conscience clause into operation in the manner that has been done. I would say the same thing with regard to the Endowment Minute—also a matter of the first importance. I will not now discuss that subject—my right hon. Friend near me, will, I believe, soon give us an opportunity of considering it. But surely no responsible Minister would ever have introduced so great a change as that in the manner in which, it was done—a change 855 affecting not less than between 28,000 and 29,000 educational endowments, large and small, spread over the country. By a Minute of only seven words, laid in silence upon the table of the House, a change was made in the manner in which education was assisted in connection with that vast number of endowments. It is very true that during one month it was competent to any hon, Member of this House to raise objections to that Minute; but I say that is not the way in which a public Department ought to effect so great a change; and I believe that if there had been a responsible Minister he would have introduced it in a very different and a far more public manner. The last instance I will give of what I regard as the defective working of this most objectionably constituted Department relates to that large portion of the country which is now unassisted by our public grants. And here I beg leave to thank the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Vice President of the Committee of Council for the statement he introduced into the Report of the Committee last year with regard to the number of unassisted parishes. When I say I thank the right hon. Gentleman I am bound to add that, under the present constitution of the Committee of Council, I cannot feel sure whom I ought to thank or whom I ought to blame for anything; and it is only by inference I presume I am to thank the right hon. Gentleman for that very valuable information. I attribute it to him because it appears in the first Report that bears his signature, and because we had not before been furnished with any intelligence of the same description. It is a statement which divides the parishes of England into four groups, the first comprising parishes with a population of above 5,000; the second, parishes with a population between 1,000 and 5,000; the third, parishes with a population between 500 and 1,000; and the fourth, parishes with a population under 500. I find that in the first of these groups there are 53 unassisted parishes; in the second, 1,006; in the third, 1,969; and in the fourth, 7,996; the general result being that out of this whole 15,000 parishes in England there are not less than 11,024 receiving no advantage whatever from the large grants annually made by Parliament for the promotion of education. I cannot ascertain, with equal accuracy, what is the population of this large majority of our parishes. I am ready to admit that that 856 majority of parishes contains a considerable minority of the population. The only way in which I can come to any conclusion in the matter is by dividing the aggregate population of each group by the number of the parishes—of course, I can in that way only arrive at an approximation; but the result is, that there are 6,000,000 of people in these 11,000 parishes who derive no benefit whatever from our annual Votes for education. Surely this shows a state of things which requires some attention from this House, and that the Department is such as gives us no confidence that they can carry out the education of the whole country. I think we have lately had a remarkable proof of this fact, for within the last few days the right hon. Gentleman opposite has laid on the table of the House a new Minute proposing to enable combinations of two and not more than six parishes, having small schools near to each other, to have a certificated teacher between them. But to whom are we indebted for this proposal? Why, we are indebted for it to the public suggestion of a well-known and most benevolent lady, Miss Burdett Coutts. All honour to Miss Burdett Coutts for the suggestion she has made, which only adds another to the long list of her noble deeds. I feel much obliged to her for it; but what are we to say for the Committee of Privy Council? What are we to say for the Education Department, which has been slumbering in inaction for the last twenty-six years, leaving all this large district of England to take care of itself? At last it occurred to them to do something for these neglected districts; but, after all, the scheme was not one of their own discovery—it was suggested to them by this benevolent lady that in this way they might do something to deal with the neglected districts. I think I could not adduce a stronger proof of the necessity of some reform, in order to make the Department effective for the objects for which it was instituted. In the Report to which I have referred, it is stated with something like naive simplicity that they have no power to combine parishes. With regard to the merits of Miss Burdett Coutts's suggestion, I think there are localities in which it may be a very available plan; but I own I think a far more valuable plan, if carried out, would be to group parishes together which had no good, school. It would, no doubt, be a question of the area of these parishes. In 857 some cases, perhaps, Miss Burdett Coutts's plan would be best; in others, combining two or three parishes for one school would, perhaps, be more effective. But the right hon. Gentleman says he has no power to combine these parishes. I am quite aware he has no power to combine parishes; but why has he not? I say if you had a vigorous and effective Minister at the head of the Department, he would have sought and obtained the power to combine these parishes years and years ago; and it ought not to have been left to the right hon. Gentleman to complain that he has not power to combine parishes for this purpose. If you had resorted to local action or done anything in the direction of the Royal Commission, you would not have had to put this paragraph in the Report—that you have no power to combine these parishes. Before sitting down I wish for a moment to allude to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), who intends to move an addition to the Motion with which I shall conclude. I am bound to say I think there are very few, if any, Members of this House who are better entitled to an active part in this interesting subject of education than my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire; and if it had not been that I was aware of his intention this Session to move for a Committee to consider the subject of the proposed Amendment I should myself have included it in my Motion in terms nearly identical with those used by my hon. Friend. But when I found he intended to introduce the subject, and when he intimated to me at the beginning of the Session that he wished to move the words not as a separate Motion but in the shape of an Amendment, I gave my distinct assent to the addition which he proposed to make. But I trust he will understand, and the House will understand, that in assenting to that addition I do so in the full sense of the words, and not with any intention or view of carrying out any one particular plan, but with the desire that the Committee may consider any mode by which that most desirable object of "extending the benefits of Government inspection and the Parliamentary grant to schools at present unassisted by the State" may be carried into effect. I trust the Government will agree to the Motion with which I now conclude, and to the addition proposed by my hon. Friend, earnestly hoping that the result may be to extend 858 the benefits of the system to all portions of the kingdom.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Select Committee be appointed, to inquire into the Constitution of the Committee of Council on Education, and the system under which the business of the office is conducted."—(Sir John Pakington.)
§ MR. WALTER
, who had given notice to move an Amendment to add, "and also into the best mode of extending the benefits of Government Inspection and the Parliamentary Grant to schools at present unassisted by the State," said: I rise, Sir, to move the Amendment which stands in my name to the Motion of my right hon. Friend who has just sat down. It was my original wish, and probably would, in some respects, have been more satisfactory to the House that, instead of a branch of inquiry, my Motion should have formed the substance of a separate reference. But it appeared to me, considering the extraordinary pressure of business at this time of the year, that I should scarcely succeed in inducing the House to grant two separate Committees to be working together at the same time on two branches of the subject of education; and, therefore, seeing the Notice given by the hon. Baronet the Member for Devonshire (Sir Lawrence Palk) for the grouping of small parishes into districts, I thought no time was to be lost, and the best thing I could do was to confer with my right hon. Friend, and see if I could persuade him to adopt my Amendment as an addition to his Motion. He was kind enough to signify his assent, and I have been given to understand, I believe on the best authority, that it is not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to offer any opposition to this branch of the inquiry being undertaken by the Committee. If that be so, I have to thank them by anticipation for this act of courtesy, and I shall endeavour to repay it by abstaining from any lengthened argument or statement of my own views, except so far as to notice some objections which have lately been raised to them. I shall best discharge my duty by stating very shortly the reasons which led me to take the course I now adopt as the most proper for myself to propose, and most deserving the sanction of the House.
I shall begin, if the House will allow me, by recapitulating very briefly the history of the system down to the present time; that will most clearly exhibit the 859 reasons for moving for a Committee to inquire into the best mode of extending it. I ask the House to be so good as to bear in mind one thing—as to the use that may be made in the course of the discussion of the terms "trained teacher," and "certificated teacher." They are not convertible terms, but totally distinct and independent of each other. Some persons are very apt to confound them for the purpose of throwing difficulties in the way of those who entertain views similar to what I hold. But the House will bear in mind that the two things are quite distinct. A "trained master" does not necessarily imply the possession of a certificate; and, on the other hand, a "certificated master" does not necessarily imply that he has been brought up at a training college. I also beg to observe that in conformity with the views which my right hon. Friend has expressed, I have studiously framed my Amendment in terms so extensive as to embrace any proposal which has for its view to extend inspection and grants to unassisted schools; for, though I do not lose sight of the views I have expressed on other occasions, I think any other plan—such as that of the hon. Baronet the Member for Devonshire—should be included, with a view to see which is the most practicable and most likely to meet the object we all have in view.
I may remind the House that during a period of fourteen years, from 1846 to 1859, the efforts of the Education Department—that establishment as it defines itself, which administers the sum annually voted by Parliament towards the education of the country—were chiefly confined to creating and paying for certain teaching machinery. There were no capitation grants, except to a very limited extent, during the whole of that period. During fourteen years a sum of nearly £4,000,000 in round numbers, was distributed by that establishment for educational purposes, and expended in the following manner:—On pupil teachers about £1,400,000; on school buildings, £1,000,000; in the augmentation of salaries of certificated teachers, £400,000; upon training colleges, £400,000; and towards the building of normal colleges, £150,000; making in all £3,350,000, besides the establishment charges. That was the way in which the money was spent during the fourteen years between 1846 and 1860—all on the machinery of teaching. About 860 1860, the House will remember, people began to entertain some misgivings as to the results of all this expensive and laborious machinery, and a Commission was appointed to inquire into the actual condition of the assisted schools. The Commissioners reported, among other things, that they had overwhelming evidence that not more than one-fourth of the children educated at these schools received a good education. They also reported that the time had arrived when an effort should be made to hold out further inducements to masters to educate their scholars to a certain standard. Partly in consequence of that Report, and still more, I believe, in consequence of the overwhelming trouble in which the Department found itself involved through having to look after an army, as these 30,000 to 40,000 schoolmasters and pupil-teachers were termed by my hon. Friend the late Vice President (Mr. Lowe) the Government determined to abandon the principle of providing and paying for the machinery of education, and to concentrate all their assistance under the name of the capitation grant—a grant which was to be made to the managers of schools chiefly on the principle of results. When I say "chiefly," I do so for the purpose of showing that I do not lose sight of the fact that one-third was paid for attendance—a plan which I believe to be unwise, except in the case of children. The remaining two-thirds of the grant, however, were certainly paid on the proof of results in reading, writing, and arithmetic; because if you deduct a certain proportion of the grant when those results are not forthcoming, and give it when they are found, you certainly make that payment for results. That is the system at present in vogue—and I wish the House to bear in mind its practical effect upon a proportion of the schools which receive assistance from the country. The grant is essentially confined to town schools and large parishes; for, whatever the reason may be, it is certain that practically it has been found impossible to bring the grant within the reach of small country schools, and to that fact I would particularly call the attention of the House. In the Report of last year my hon. Friend the present Vice President (Mr. H. A. Bruce) laid before the House, in a tabular form, the results of the administration of the grant as regards four different classes of parishes. From this Return it appeared that there were 861 618 parishes with upwards of 5,000 inhabitants, giving a total population of 10,772,623, and of these parishes 8½ per cent were without an annual grant. The next class of parishes were those whose population number less than 5,000 and more than 1,000. Of these parishes there are 2,624, containing a population of 5,250,000, and of these 38.3 per cent were without the grant. The next table showed that there were 2,874 parishes, containing less than 1,000 and more than 500 inhabitants, giving a total population of 2,017,815, and of these 68½ percent. were without the grant. The fourth class included the parishes with less than 500 inhabitants, and showed that out of 8,761 parishes, containing a total population of nearly 2,000,000, 91.2 per cent were without the grant. I do not know what could be the object of drawing up the table unless it was intended to show how very large a proportion of the population received the annual grant; but if you add together the three last columns—in other words, separate those parishes containing a population of more than 5,000 inhabitants from those which have less—you will find that out of 14,259 parishes, with a population of 9,291,170 inhabitants, 66 per cent are without the grant. This being the case, I think it was not unreasonable if I or any other Member suggested that this state of things ought not to continue, and that some plan should be devised for bringing the rural schools within the reach of the annual grant. As the House will recollect, I proposed in 1862, and in the following year, a Resolution which would have had the effect of extending the Parliamentary grant to all schools which should satisfy the requirements of the Inspector, without enforcing the provision for the employment of certificated masters. My view of the question was not adopted by the House, though the Motion was lost in the former year by only a small majority; and I have thought it better on the present occasion to request the House to empower the Committee moved for by the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) to deal with any scheme which might come before them for their consideration. It has been the practice of the Department to ignore the merits of these unassisted schools, and, with a view to show that they are unworthy of support, instances have been adduced in this House of schools kept in garrets and tumbledown hovels by one-armed or one-legged 862 masters. That species of argument is what I now wish to dispute. As the result of some examination into the question, I believe I am in a position to show that there are a great many schools in this country entitled in every respect to participate in the grant, but which are nevertheless unable to do so, in consequence of not employing certificated teachers. If the House will allow me, I will quote from two or three letters which I have received from diocesan Inspectors whom I have consulted upon this subject, and it will be seen that I have not overstated my case. I will begin with a remarkable instance. I have a letter from the Rev. Robert Hey, incumbent of Belper, and Prebendary of Lichfield. This gentleman has been diocesan Inspector of Schools for ten years, in the rural deanery of Alfreton, Derbyshire, and has annually inspected about twenty - four schools. He has been for the same period general secretary to all the rural deans of Derbyshire, nineteen in number. He states that out of 218 schools fully reported in his last Report to the Bishop, 173 are pronounced to be "very good." Or "good;" thirty "moderate;" fifteen "bad;" the whole of the 173 would, in his opinion, be able to earn grants under the Revised Code, and satisfy its requirements in every respect; but only 107 have certificated teachers—hence nearly seventy schools are deprived of the assistance which they ought to receive. He could name some which are conducted by uncertificated teachers which are better taught than other schools under certificated teachers, and thinks it a great hardship that these should be debarred from a share of the public money. He concludes his letter as follows:—Though I am a strenuous advocate in favour of trained teachers—for I am on the commit-mittee of two training institutions—yet I cannot see the justice of withholding help from those schools which can produce results equal, if not superior, to those produced by certificated teachers.Another diocesan Inspector, the Rev. C. F. E. Baylay, of Kirkby rectory, Horn-castle, says—There are three schools in my district, which would, I think, now satisfy the requirements of the Revised Code with regard to examination. One of them, needing the grant, would, I believe, pass as high a percentage as the best school under certificated masters. Two more schools might, I think, be brought up to the mark, if encouraged by the prospect of receiving a grant. I beg to remark that I have recently attended the inspec- 863 tion of a large and well-conducted school by a Government Inspector. I am, therefore, enabled to speak more confidently than I should otherwise have ventured to do.The Rev. Herbert Bree, diocesan Inspector for Samfbrd Deanery, Norwich, who has twenty-five parishes in his district, twenty-two of which have schools to which he is admitted, says—It is my opinion that a considerable proportion of the unassisted schools in this district might satisfy the requirements of the Revised Code. There are but six parishes which receive Government grants and have certificated teachers, and these have by no means the best schools. In fact, in my last Report, I placed but one in the first, and two more in the lowest of the three classes into which my schools are divided in the Return which I make to the Bishop. By far the best schools in the deanery, with one exception, have no assistance from Government, and are under excellent but uncertificated teachers.That, I think, is certainly a strong case. The Rev. E. P. Vaughan, diocesan Inspector, "Wraxall, near Bristol, says in his Report—I would again express a hope that Government will not continue to insist on the employment of a certificated teacher as a condition for receiving its aid. There are many schools in your lordship's diocess unfairly, I think, shut out from all Government help, because they have not the funds to employ a certificated teacher, and thus they are punished for their poverty. If the principle of the Revised Code be aid according to results, surely Government should leave the managers of schools at liberty as to the means by which they will obtain an efficient school. If certificated teachers generally produce the best results they will generally be employed, and if not they ought not to be employed. The attempt to force managers to employ them is, I think, both unwise and unfair.I have received a curious letter from the Rev. Mr. Stretch, curate of Huish Champ-flower, Somerset, in which the writer says—Our parish is one of many in which the principal inhabitants are tenants of small farms and the whole expense of the school is defrayed by the rector, with the assistance of a few subscriptions from non-resident landowners. A sufficient salary for a certificated master cannot be raised, so we have an uncertificated one, who is content with his cottage, £30 a year, and the children's pence—say, £10 more. Some years ago the rector put himself to some expense to get his schoolmaster 'certificated,' but immediately he heard of a larger salary to be obtained elsewhere he gave the rector notice to leave.This, then, is the encouragement which has attended the efforts of the rector to provide himself with a certificated master. I can produce many letters to the same effect, but it will not be necessary to do so now. This I can promise the House, 864 that when the Committee is granted, very many of a similar nature will be laid before them.
I told the House I should feel bound to notice some objections lately made to the proposal of allowing schools without certificated masters to be assisted, and I see my old antagonist, Mr. Norris, had a fling at me to-day. I will quote to the House some of his objections. He says—The object of the Parliamentary grant is not merely to pay, but to improve the schools of the country.That is one objection. He goes on to say—The chief 'result' which the nation expects from a school is to turn foolish, disorderly children into obedient, sensible children compared with this, those other 'results' of reading, writing, and arithmetic, are of secondary importance.He says thirdly, that if my Motion be carried—Every school in the country, good or bad, will obtain something out of the public purse.He says, further, that—An Inspector's impressions, after spending a few hours in a school once in the year, cannot be a sufficient test of the moral suitableness of the teacher for his office.And, lastly, he adds that—In France, Holland, Switzerland, and Germany, it is thought necessary to make a certificate of this kind a sine qua non condition of the public recognition of a teacher.With regard to the last objection, that certificates are indispensable in Prance, Germany, Holland, and Switzerland, I do not see what that has to do with the subject. I maintain that in this country we are perfectly able to educate children up to ten or eleven years of age without copying the system of foreign countries. We have not yet arrived at the consummation the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) seems to desire; we have not yet a Minister of Public Instruction, and I confess I am not very favourable to such a proposal. We must bear in mind that ours is a voluntary system, and that the Education Department is only a machine for administering a certain grant of public money—the first line of the Revised Code tells us so; and I would rather see the whole thing knocked on the head than see the voluntary system abandoned. Therefore, do not let us point to Prance, Holland, Germany, or Switzerland. What is done there may be right or wrong—I will not argue that point at this moment—but let us determine the matter for our- 865 selves, as we are perfectly competent to do, particularly when a great weight of opinion already exists—I refer now to the diocesan Inspectors—in favour of throwing open the schools to competition. With regard to the objection taken by Mr. Norris to the inadequacy of the impressions formed by the Inspector after a few hours spent in the school, and his assertion that this cannot be a sufficient test of the moral suitableness of the teacher for his office, let me ask how are you to judge? What test is the certificate of the moral suitableness of the master? I have no doubt, from many hints let drop in the course of this controversy, that the master's certificate does very much operate as an inducement to careless inspection. The Inspector feels that a great deal of the work is done for him by having a certificated master, and he does not pay the same attention to the school as if he knew nothing of the master's antecedents, and had to judge for himself. I maintain that no intelligent Inspector can pass three or four hours in a school without acquiring a very good insight into the condition of that school, moral as well as intellectual. In proof of that assertion I have here a Government Inspector's Re-port of a school, unassisted and taught by an uncertificated master:—"The condition of this school is very good, reflecting the highest credit on the master." That Report, according to Mr. Norris, is worth nothing. How did the Inspector ascertain the facts upon which he reported? The master had no certificate, and yet the condition of the school was "very good." This is in clear contradiction of Mr. Morris's theory. We must not lose sight of the further fact that we are dealing with rural parishes, which, the House will recollect, differ totally in their condition from town parishes. In the towns the proportion of the population to the clergy is very large; probably you have 4,000 or 5,000 persons to every clergyman. You must have large schools, therefore, wanting a very superior kind of organization and the highest class of masters that can be got. The clergyman can devote very little time to the schools, so that everything practically is left to the master. But in rural parishes where the population is under 500 or 1,000, what on earth has the clergyman to do? In some cases he takes to hunting if it be winter, and in summer to croquet, in order to kill time. Why should he not pass some portion of 866 his time in the schools, and why should he be bound to employ a certificated master, instead of taking the machinery that he finds readiest to his hand—a clever woman to teach sewing to the girls, and a competent master to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic to the boys—machinery that would be ample for its purpose when watched over by the clergyman himself? At this point Mr. Morris's great argument comes in—The chief result which the nation expects from a school is to turn foolish, disorderly children into obedient, sensible children; compared with this, those other results of reading, writing, and arithmetic are of secondary importance.All this is to be accomplished by a certificated master, who is to go up to be examined, pass a very easy examination in order to get his degree, and then to conduct the school, which is to be twice inspected, with an interval of one year between the inspections, before he gets his certificate. So that, after all, the schoolmaster's own certificate depends much more on the inspection of the school than on the examination. Well, but every one does not agree with the argument that morality, obedience, discipline, order, and all the other good qualities are to be found only in schools conducted by certificated masters. I have a letter here from a clergyman, the Rev. Mr. Goodwin, who sends me a long list of good schools, unassisted in his district. His letter concludes in the following words:—I would add that I believe there to be a growing feeling among the gentry, farmers, and clergy of this deanery, against the new sprung up race of certificated teachers, in that (at all events, in agricultural districts) they unfit the children for their natural position and probable calling in life, without fitting them for any other; and that they make discipline, good conduct, obedience, moral tone and training, second to (what is, after all, among three-fourths) a smattering of many things, a proficiency in none, and even that followed by a speedy forgetfulness of almost all.I quote this gentleman's letter to show that the result of his experience has led him to conclusions very different from those arrived at by Mr. Morris. The case then, of the rural schools is this:—You have the ecclesiastical machinery ready provided, in the shape of the parish clergyman who must have obtained a degree in order to take holy orders. But according to the existing system, his character and position go for nothing, in comparison with the certificate obtained by the schoolmaster—a man, perhaps, twenty years of age, who has just left a training college. Surely 867 it is an insult to tell him that he is not qualified to look after the education of the school children—a matter which he probably regards as of the very highest importance? What is there, I would ask, which ought to prevent any gentleman taking an interest in the poor of his parish, from looking after the parish school, and from making himself personally responsible for its proper conduct? There are instances, we know, of great personages, men filling the highest social position, who have condescended, or been obliged, to undertake the office of schoolmaster. The late King of the French was obliged to earn his living for a time as a schoolmaster in Switzerland. Had he sought to teach the children of some humble school in England, that eminent personage to satisfy the requirements of the Privy Council, must have passed an examination as to his fitness for the duties. If the noble Lord at the head of the Government, through the vicissitudes of life, were ever induced to take up the position of a schoolmaster, all his vast experience would go for nothing; he must be examined in reading, writing, and arithmetic before Mr. Lingen. A very curious instance in point is included in last year's Educational Report, and I was much struck on reading the statement which is contained in Mr. Warburton'S Report as to Boyne Hill, an establishment managed by Mr. Gresly, a gentleman who is very well known by name, I dare say, to many Members. Mr. Warburton says:—At Boyne Hill, the boys' school is still, as hitherto, in good order, and attended by an intelligent class of boys, and I am glad to say that there is every reason to suppose that from this time forth, the girl's school will be regularly inspected, the lady who volunteers as teacher having made up her mind to go through the examination in order to possess herself of a certificate, that the school may enjoy the same advantages with respect to Government, as if it were not so peculiarly circumstanced as it is, under her care.This statement is put forward, the House will observe, with the utmost complacency, as if it were a natural, usual, and proper thing for a lady to go up and be examined in reading, writing, and arithmetic by the Privy Council. I thought it a remarkable instance of humility and condescension. We have heard of cases of ladies in some new-fangled religious establishments, condescending to very singular acts of humility; and the matter having been stated as a fact by Her Majesty's Inspector, it was not till the other day that some correspond- 868 ence with Mr. Gresly raised any doubt about it in my mind. I then wrote to Mr. Gresly, asking whether it was not true, as reported by Mr. Warburton, that this lady went up and submitted to the ordeal of inspection, in order to earn the grant; and Mr. Gresly wrote as follows in reply:—The lady in question did not go up for examination. When the Government grant to the boys' school was reduced by the new regulation, she offered to do so; but I thought she should first ask her relations, and they did not quite approve, so it was not done.I certainly am not surprised that the relations of any lady in such a position should think it unbecoming for her to go up to the Privy Council Office, and be examined as to whether she knew how to read, write, and cipher, and consequently I am not astonished to hear that she declined to do so. I will add a word or two as to the alternative presented. It is admitted that the case of the unassisted schools is a hard one, and that some means should be adopted to meet their wants; and amid the perplexities in which they are involved it is not surprising that the Committee of Council should grasp the first friendly hand held out to asssist them. Accordingly, we have a new Minute, of which we may truly say dux femina facti. We are indebted to the benevolent lady to whom the right hon. Baronet has referred, for the well meant scheme which the Government has adopted with so much alacrity. I confess that I have doubts as to the success of the scheme. I think there are difficulties in the way. In the first place, you must got three, or four, or five, or six squires and parsons in the neighbouring parishes to join together. That is not always to be done. You may get two or three to join; but to get five or six is a consummation not to be expected to occur frequently on this side of the millennium. Even if you do get half a dozen squires and clergymen to agree, they may fall out after a time, and then the whole scheme comes to the ground, and there must be a new master. Then what sort of a master are you to get? Indeed, it appears that he will be more of a sub-inspector than a schoolmaster, as he is only to devote two hours a week to each school, and being a trained master, with a certificate, such a man could not be got for less than £80 or £90 a year. When the expense is divided between three or four poor schools, perhaps only receiving each some £15 of the Government grant, the clergy will 869 hesitate about adopting this scheme, unless they think they can obtain a larger share of assistance. Besides, as I said before, these masters, or sub-inspectors, are only to devote two hours per week to each school, and. therefore, I would ask why the clergyman of the parish could not do the same thing. Why is his supervision not to be respected by the State? Why should not a school under his supervision receive Government aid like a school under a certificated master? I do not object to the scheme—I do not object to any scheme which tends to confer the benefits of the Government grant upon all good schools; but I think it hard that it should at once invest certain schools with privileges which are not to be enjoyed by other schools, perhaps better schools, but which do not think it right to adopt this particular machinery.
I need not further trespass upon the indulgence of the House. I am indebted to the House for the patience with which it has listened to me, and I truly hope the result of this inquiry if granted, as I believe it will be, may lead to a solution of the difficulties which we all know to exist in the present state of our educational arrangements.
Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words—
And also into the best mode of extending the benefits of Government Inspection and the Parliamentary Grant to Schools at present unassisted by the State."—(Mr. Walter.)
§ MR. LOWE
Sir, I know not whether I should not do more wisely, and certainly I should best consult my own inclinations, if I were to allow this question to pass in silence on my part. But I am unwilling altogether to see what I cannot but regard as the commencement of the undoing of the work that has been recently accomplished, and which I regard with great interest, without interposing a few words to point out to the House what I think it could scarcely have gathered from the speech of the right hon. Baronet—the exact proposition that is before us. But before doing so I would first say a few words in answer to the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter). Without following that hon. Member into all the details which he has placed before the House, I will just state over again very briefly what is the principle to which the Committee of Council has hitherto adhered—the principle of extending no assistance except to schools under certificated masters. The 870 first duty of Government in assisting voluntary efforts, which is the essence of our system,[is to see that the school assisted is a good one; and the first element of a good school is a good teacher. The first duty, therefore, in the opinion of the Committee of Council from the time they undertook to assist schools further than by building grants—their most important duty was to be sure that the assistance given by Government was given to schools which had good teachers. That is the foundation of the whole system; it has always been so regarded, and never up to this moment has the Committee of Council swerved from that principle. It is quite a mistake to suppose that the Privy Council ever intended by introducing what is called "payment for results," to waive this primary and all important condition. Let the House remember that schools exist not merely for the benefit of the children who pass the Inspector's examination, but also for those children whose tender age and backward state of instruction preclude their being presented to the Inspector's notice. It is all-important that those children should be placed under the care of persons in whom the Government have confidence, as far as they can possibly judge, as being proper instructors. It is taking a poor and narrow view of education to limit it to reading, writing, and ciphering. There is much to be learnt at school besides those elements, and it is quite as important that children should be trained, civilized, made tractable, and obedient, and even if their education is deficient upon some of those points by which the Government grant is regulated, still much has been gained if these things are secured. I hold that the Government would be utterly inexcusable if it were to give public money to assist what is intended to be a good and sufficient education without taking all the securities within its power to insure that the schools which are assisted were under teachers to whom the care of the rising generation of the poorer classes can be safely intrusted. Another reason equally powerful is that the schoolmaster under the existing system, and as long as it is allowed to continue, will be virtually an agent for the distribution of public money. It is upon the returns he makes, the records that he keeps of the attendance of children, that the amount of grant is calculated, and in that manner large sums of public money are distributed. The proposition which is 871 to be submitted to the Committee by the hon. Member amounts in effect to this—that those duties, upon the performance of which the distribution of large amounts of public money depend, are to be intrusted to persons of whom the Government will know absolutely nothing. If such a principle were tolerated it would amount to a recklessness in the expenditure of the public money which would be discreditable to any Government. Another effect of such an arrangement would be, that the grants would no longer be given on account of the efficiency of schools, but all schools would get a little of the public money. Every school can produce a few children who can read and write tolerably, however defective their general teaching may be. In such cases to make a grant would be to throw away money. These reasons have been frequently stated in this House, but I conceive they are of very great weight, for I believe we shall sacrifice the corner-stone of our system of education if we give way in this matter. The blame, of course, rests with the system which is voluntary, and a voluntary system cannot be universal, or it ceases to be voluntary. There must be a point beyond which the conditions upon which schools may receive Government assistance cannot be relaxed, for if you go beyond that point you abandon the revenue to indiscriminate plunder by anybody who calls himself a schoolmaster, or sets up what he may choose to call a school. It is, of course, a question where the line should be drawn. I say, draw it here—give no assistance to schools of the character and qualifications of whose masters you are absolutely ignorant—whether their moral or their intellectual qualifications. It is not sufficient that a certain number of children should be brought together on one day in the year for examination—children who, as far as the Government could tell, might never have attended the school at all—that is not sufficient to justify the grant of public money. Government are bound in duty to the taxpayers to obtain all the knowledge we can possibly get to regulate the disposal of public money, and there is no excuse for wilful ignorance.
I now turn to the speech of the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) and I do so the more earnestly as I am sure the House is not aware, from the terms of the Motion as it stands upon the paper, and to which it seems the Government are 872 willing to agree—the House is not aware of the real object in view. The right hon. Baronet has given notice of a Motion for an inquiry, in the first place, into the constitution of the Committee of Council, and next an inquiry into the system under which the business of the office is conducted. That part relating to the constitution of the Committee of Council is plain enough; but what would anyone think the right hon. Baronet meant by the other branch of his Motion? Would it not be that he had some observations to make upon the mode of transacting business—that, perhaps, there was too much writing, too many forms, or too great delays? Would any one suppose that under those words the right hon. Baronet meant, as I will show he does mean, to propose to the House to appoint a Committee to consider the propriety of sweeping away the present system of education, and substituting an entirely new system? I would, in the first place, remark that when an hon. Gentleman asks for a Committee upon any serious question, and especially a Committee affecting a department of the Government, it is usual for him to show that there is information to be had which is not already in the possession of the House, and which can be obtained by the inquiries of a Committee. But has the right hon. Baronet done that? Is it possible to imagine a subject upon which more information is accessible to the House than the organization and the mode of transacting business by the Committee of Council on Education? In 1858 there was a Commission, under the presidency of the Duke of Newcastle, which inquired into the whole subject of national education. The inquiry was general in its terms, but the real gist of it was an inquiry into the Committee of Council, the manner of transacting its business, and the conditions upon which it distributed its grants. That inquiry lasted for three years. During that period the Committee c,f Council was perpetually under examination. The Secretary was examined, re-examined, and again examined. Inspectors were examined; the heads of religious denominations in contact with the Committee of Council were examined; many managers of schools were examined; and circulars were sent to a vast number of persons whose replies were duly tabulated. A vast mass of statistics was procured; and the result was, that in 1861 there 873 appeared six octavo volumes, one of which is taken up by the Report, which is chiefly devoted to an analysis of the whole system and working of the Committee of Council. Nor was the Committee of Council itself idle, for under the administration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) the Committee undertook the praiseworthy task of digesting all its contents and bringing them within the compass of a single volume. In 1860 they were again digested and reduced to the form of a Code, and in 1862 they were re-digested and were reduced to 130 short, simple propositions. Besides that, we have had, from the beginning of 1862, continual discussions in Parliament upon every question that could be raised. Hardly a day passed without some question being put to the representatives of the Department; while no less than eighty pamphlets were written upon the Revised Code. The Committee of Privy Council, too, have made annual Reports, each filling a thick octavo, and every spring an immense mass of statistics has been laid before the House. I do think, therefore, that it was incumbent on the right hon. Baronet, before asking the House to grant a Committee which would cause the Department enormous trouble and inconvenience, to point out to us what information he desired to have which was not already accessible to him from all those Reports and statistics.
But passing from these considerations, let me follow the right hon. Baronet in his examination of the constitution of the Department. He takes exception to its constitution, first, on theoretical, and, next, on practical grounds. His theoretical objection seems to be this—that there is not one Minister who is responsible for the administration of these grants. That is his main objection. I can only meet that—as far as I can be deemed to have any information—by a direct contradiction. There is one Minister responsible, and that Minister is the Lord President of the Council. There is no divided responsibility, one Minister is responsible for every administrative act of the Committee of Council. The person who represents the Department in this House is appointed by an Act of Parliament—so plain are all the proceedings connected with it—and that Act says that he is to be under the direction of the Lord President, and to act for him in his absence. 874 As I have always read the Act it sets him in a position neither more nor less than that of an Under Secretary of State. He is a Privy Councillor, because all the proceedings take place in the name of a Committee of Privy Council, and it is therefore necessary that he should be such; but his position is not a bit more than that of an Under Secretary of State. The responsibility is one and undivided, and no new change can make it more so. The Department does not consist wholly of a President and a Vice President; there is also a Committee of the Council. The right hon. Gentleman objects to that, because it does something—it meets, deliberates, and decides, while other Committees, such as the Board of Trade, do nothing. That Committee is a Committee of the Cabinet, with the single addition of the Vice President. So that the constitution of the Privy Council is this:—There is a legislative body which is composed of a Committee of the Cabinet, of which the Lord President and the Vice President are members; and then the administrative power is vested in the Lord President, assisted by the Vice President, who is under his direction. I want to know what fault can be found with such a constitution as this. As far as I know it seems to me a remarkably good one. You have there an advantage which you have not in any other Department, except in the Indian Council—that in the preparation of the regulations and making of Minutes it is clothed, subordinate to the control of Parliament, with a certain kind of legislative power; and that power is not intrusted wholly even to officers of such high dignity as the Lord President, much less to an inferior subordinate like the Vice President, but to a Committee of the Cabinet, who hear the reasons which are adduced, who deliberate, and within my experience exercise great influence on the decisions which are arrived at. I see no objection to placing the office in the hands of the Lord President, because, though at present that office is held in commendam with the leadership of the House of Lords, the other duties connected with it, so far as they are of an official nature, are not very onerous, and the Lord President, therefore, has always full time—has always found time—for the discharge of the duties of the Department. I see no reason why these duties should not be in his hands. He is a Member of 875 the Cabinet, a high officer of State, who can advocate his views with influence among his colleagues, and who can vindicate the Department whenever its measures are questioned. I see also great benefit in there being a subordinate officer to represent the Department in the House of Commons, and it is quite right that the Department should be represented in the House of Lords. Four-fifths, I believe, of the money voted is expended on schools in connection with the Church of England. In that the Bishops undoubtedly feel great interest. They are the natural representatives of the Church in this matter, and it is perfectly right, and only treating the Church with proper respect, that there should be a representative in the House of Lords to answer for that Department, and to explain to the Bishops anything of which they may think they have a right to complain. The misfortune of the Department is this—that it has a lore of its own; and such is the extraordinary difficulty and complexity of its regulations that you cannot expect any statesman who is not practically acquainted and connected with the Department to master them. I cannot see that there is anything bad in having the Department represented here by a person whose business it is to answer for it. It gives the House of Commons the opportunity of getting any explanation it may wish; there is always somebody here to move the Estimates, which could not so well be done by any person who was not practically acquainted with the Department, and the House of Commons thus obtains a valuable and proper control over the management of this large sum of money. I ask the right hon. Baronet to show me when he comes to reply in what respect, in theory at least, he has substantiated any grave objection against the organization of the Department. I know not in what respect you could amend it. I am sure that if you were to have a Minister in this House whose sole business it was to be really responsible for the actions of the Department, you would do the cause of education a great mischief. So long as the educational grants are made on their present basis their object is to assist voluntary effort. The Department has no initiative; it merely follows the lead of voluntary and private enterprise. The person who would hold such a subordinate position as the head of this Department would never be a Member of the Cabinet, his views would 876 not be represented in the Cabinet, he would not have the opportunity of bringing his measures before the Cabinet, and the Cabinet not feeling themselves committed to his measures, they would be liable to be abandoned on the smallest show of opposition. So much for the theoretical objections.
The right hon. Baronet next proceeds to enforce his practical objections, and sets himself to prove—what to my mind would be much more cogent—that the Department, owing to its present organization, has failed in its duty. Indeed, the right hon. Baronet brings against it rather a contradictory charge; for while he reproaches it with having brought forward the Revised Code with a view to reduce the annual grants, in the same breath he says that being a centralized Department it is necessarily guilty of gross extravagance. In the first place he quotes the evidence of Mr. Lingen, who, he says, told the Commission "that if the present system of appropriating grants were allowed to continue the Department must break down at the centre; and then he says that Mr. Lingen disapproves the organization of the Department. Any one who considers the subject will see that Mr. Lingen was speaking of an entirely different state of things from the present." We used to pay every grant separately—not a capitation grant for the whole school, but so much for the pupil teachers, so much for attendances, so much for augmentations to the masters of schools, and so on separately. This necessitated an immense and complicated mass of correspondence and accounts. But that state of things has happily been altered. So long as it lasted Mr. Lingen said truly that if this complicated system were continued it would break down at the centre—not that the President and Vice President would break down, but that as it was necessary that the system should be conducted on one homogeneous plan, and that everything should be done under the eye of a single Secretary, if this complexity and multiplicity of accounts were not removed it would be impossible for a single Secretary to do the work. It was not the Parliamentary centre which would be overworked, but the official and permanent centre. Then the right hon. Baronet says that if the Department had been better organized the whole country would have been brought under its educational system. He says it is the duty of the Department 877 to extend education all over the country; but I could not gather from the right hon. Baronet's speech that he was aware of the fact that the system on which the education grants are administered is a voluntary system, and, being a voluntary system, must, of course, extend just so far as voluntary efforts will lead it. It has no initiative; it can originate nothing—it can only assist by grants of public money those who are willing to found schools. That is a necessary condition of a voluntary system. Is it possible by any, change in the construction of the Department—so long as it is compelled to administer the system which exists—to enable it to create schools where there have been no voluntary efforts, to make public money go into places where the first condition of a grant of public money has not been fulfilled? The right hon. Gentleman may say that the system ought to be changed; but the system is not the creation of the President and Vice President. Therefore, the complaint of the right hon. Gentleman is this—that the organization of the Department is faulty, and ought to be changed, because it does not create that from the creation of which Parliament has expressly withheld it. Of a similar nature is the right hon. Gentleman's next objection. He says that the Department ought to have united two or three parishes together. But what good would it have been to unite two or three parishes if there had been no schools in those parishes? What power has the Department to create schools? The right hon. Gentleman seems to think it is the duty of the Department to create schools. I so far agree with him that I wish it was in the power of the Department to take a wide and statesman-like view of the matter; to inquire not where the best schools are—for those which are the best are generally those which want the assistance least—but where this money is most needed—where it will do most good. But that is not the condition under which Parliament or the Church of England has assented to this system. It is perfectly monstrous to blame the Department for not doing that which it is prevented by its very constitution from doing. Therefore, though the right hon. Gentleman may be quite right in his doctrine with respect to the power which he would wish to see the Department exercise, he is quite wrong when he blames the Department, which takes the system not because it is one of its own choice, but because it is the system 878 which the will and pleasure of Parliamen has determined shall be administered in its present shape.
The right hon. Gentleman says further, that the great mistake made by the Department would not have happened if the Department had been properly organized—namely, that we proceeded to enforce the "conscience clause" without consulting Parliament on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman does not speak without knowledge on the subject; for the other day, much to his honour, he made a motion at Worcester to induce them to accept this clause there. But will the House believe me when I tell them that up to this moment the Council has never enforced this clause? The basis on which the right hon. Gentleman endeavours to make good this charge has no foundation except in his own imagination. I wish the clause had been enforced—I think it would be much wiser to enforce it at once than to keep the matter in a state of uncertainty; but that has never been done, and I think that when the right hon. Baronet comes to make a case against the Department he should inform himself on the simple and familiar matter of fact whether or not we have enforced this conscience clause.
Another great grievance is, that we introduced the Minute which declared that the endowment should be deducted from the amount of the grant. That was bad work; and, worse, we tried to enforce it in seven words; and, worse still, we laid it on the table of the House. Well, Sir, it is the practice to lay our Minutes on the table of the House, and I was not before aware that it was considered any defect in a document that it should be short—that it should consist of as few words as possible. This Minute was laid before the Council, which formerly considered and adopted it; it was agreed to by the Lord President, and having been so considered and adopted, it was laid on the table of the House, in accordance with the invariable practice of the Department. Therefore, what there is to complain of in that I can not conceive. Again, Miss Burdett Coutts makes a suggestion to which the Department gives effect. Seeing that the suggestion did not emanate from any Inspector or any schoolmaster, or any one in connection with the Committee of Council, one would not have been much surprised if the Department had rejected it; but, not looking at it in that 879 spirit, much to his honour, my right hon. Friend (Mr. H. A. Bruce) adopted it and brought it out in a shape in which I think it will do much good. However, because the Department was sensible enough to accept the suggestion of a benevolent lady, this is made a charge against it, and the right hon. Gentleman says, "Why did you not find it out before?" The right hon. Baronet has been inveighing on this subject for many years—why did he not find it out? The fact is, Sir, invention is one of those commodities which are rarely found in public offices and still more rarely in their critics.
Sir, I have gone through the right hon. Baronet's objections, and I think I have shown that, even if he be right in his view, he has the most abundant information in his hand to enable the House to make any change which he may wish to propose in the system. I have shown that the Department is presided over by the Lord President, and I have further shown that Mr. Lingen's remark did not apply to the conduct of the Department; that his observations were directed to what is permanent, and not to what is Parliamentary. I have shown that in the conscience clause the right hon. Baronet attributes to the Department conduct which they have not adopted. There is not one of those allegations against us which has even the colour of foundation, except this one—that we have given rise to a great deal of discontent and dissatisfaction. And now as to this argument. I think it is impossible for me, wishing as I do to deal candidly with the House, to deny this charge. In 1861 the Office found itself placed in a position of unexampled difficulty. A Royal Commission of great weight, after a consideration of the subject of national education, made recommendations which it was impossible to carry out without giving mortal offence to the parties concerned. They reported that education was of the most defective kind; that not one-fourth of the children were properly educated. In consequence of that Report we made a sweeping withdrawal of grants to schoolmasters, and we introduced examinations—changes which were most disagreeable to the parties concerned, parties with whom it was most dangerous for any Department to interfere. Had the Department followed a rule which has been adopted in other and somewhat similar cases it would have disapproved the Report 880 which bore so strongly upon the system it was administering; it would have used the whole of its machinery—and this is not small—to protect the system—to prove that the attacks upon it were exaggerated, and that it was not open to the objections made by the Commisssioners—it would have sheltered itself under a cloud of vested interests. But the Committee of Council, to its honour, or rather the Lord President at the head of it, did nothing of the kind. It applied itself boldly to the difficulties, and most manfully set about making the changes which were required. I am not going into details, but let me say in general terms what it did. It swept away the vested interests of some 10,000 teachers, who had begun to consider themselves as Government employés, having a claim to augmentation grants for the remainder of their life; it altered the relations between the Government and some 7,000 or 8,000 managers, who from that time received in a simple grant payments which had before then been made to them in a complicated form. It made the grants not merely an aid to efficient schools, but a powerful lever to raise the inefficient schools to a position of efficiency. While I was connected with the Department, it introduced into this country, or at least familiarized the country with a doctrine which is now generally known as that of "payment by results." We got rid of the enormous incubus of some 15,000 pupil-teachers who were receiving grants; we reformed the training colleges, putting them on a footing by which those burdens on the State are limited, and arranged so that the money is only paid for work actually performed—and all this while the number of children went on steadily increasing—and is, I believe, but of course I no longer speak with official authority, £200,000 more than it was when the change begun. The Department with which the right hon. Baronet finds so much fault did all these things, and, though I do not say it has not much raised the standard of the highest classes, it has spurred on the lower so that they have reached a point of efficiency which they had never arrived at before. We made the grant what it never was before—not merely an assistance to the teaching of clever children, but an incentive to make the teachers apply themselves to the more backward children. We placed the grant in that position which enables the House 881 to lower it whenever they think proper, and to raise it when they think that they can do so with advantage. We dispelled the obscurity which surrounded the subject, and made comprehensible that which had been incomprehensible before to all but the initiated. This has been done under the faulty constitution and imperfect machinery of which the right hon. Gentleman complains. I want to know if you had a machinery ever so perfect what more could have been done with the system? And I ask the House—I ask any Gentle-man'—in fairness and candour, whether it was possible for any Department to undertake and accomplish such a labour without incurring great discontent and great dissatisfaction. We were in a position different from that of any other Department. In effecting those changes we struck directly at the pockets of hon. Gentlemen in this House, and at the pockets of the whole community, as any retrenchment made in the amount of the public grant would come upon the managers in the shape of an increased subscription; we took from the schoolmasters considerable payments which they had been receiving from the Government, and thus many clever men over-educated, men scattered pretty equally all over the country, were provided with a grievance against the Department. Was not that an element of discontent? Then the clergy, on whom this system must, I think, press with very undue weight, because they have not from their richer lay neighbours that assistance which they ought to receive—they did not attribute the blame to those who ought to bear it, because, I suppose, it was more easy to ascribe it to the Committee of Education. Therefore, I think it is not wonderful that there should be dissatisfaction and discontent with the Department. It could not, under the circumstances, be otherwise. But, considering what this Department has done by force of reason, and not by party majorities, I confess I think it strange the right hon. Gentleman should urge that in doing this enormous public service, the fact of the Department incurring some transitory dissatisfaction from the public is a ground of reproach. I think it is an honour to the Department to have come forward as it has done, and sacrificed itself for the public interest. When I moved the Education Estimates in 1859 the amount of the grant which I proposed was £840,000, and the amount would have gone on increasing up to the 882 present moment at the rate of £100,000 per annum as was predicted by Sir John Kaye Shuttleworth, but for the change which was introduced, so that the Vice President of the Committee of Council would have had to ask this Session for a sum of £1,300,000 instead of £700,000, which was the amount asked for last year. And this saving has been effected, be it borne in mind, although not without great friction and pressure, simultaneously with a great simplification of the machinery and a great improvement in the quantum of instruction communicated to the children. Such has been the career and conduct of this Department, which has always been quite ready to render an account of its proceedings to Parliament when called upon; and I confess I think it hard that, having incurred unpopularity, and raised dissatisfaction by the introduction of reforms which were carried by the force of good sense and reason, it should be abandoned as a victim to the storm which it created in the endeavour to do its duty to the public. The House is probably not aware of the evils which must result from granting the proposed Committee. As regards the Department, it is calculated to produce enormous mischief. The Department is overladen with work. You will throw everything out of gear by this inquiry. The Department has been under an inquisition of one kind or other for the last seven years, and you are now asked to subject it to a fresh ordeal on the strength of the reasons which have been urged by the right hon. Baronet. You should, however, remember that a fly cannot always live under a microscope, nor a toad under a harrow; and unless this Department has some superhuman vitality distinguishing it from other public Departments, it must, I think, ultimately break down under the treatment which it receives out of doors as well as in this House.
There is another consideration, also, to which I should wish briefly to advert, and that is, that there are a great number of interests which we hoped had been adjusted by the Revised Code which will if you proceed as is purposed raise their heads again. People were beginning to settle down under the new system, not because they liked it, but because they deemed it to be inevitable, and no worse service can be done to the cause of education than to hold out a hope that there may be a reversal of policy. Now, the Motion of the right hon. Baronet points directly to the reversal 883 of your present policy, inasmuch as he told us that the second object which he had in view was to consider the means of extending education to the whole of the country. That may be done by the system of which the right hon. Baronet is the professed advocate—the system of maintaining schools by local rates. That may be a much better system than the present; but what I want to point out to the House is that it can only be reared on the ruins of the present system. That is what I complain of as being the scope of a Motion the words of which simply point to an inquiry into the mode of transacting the business of the Office. The right hon. Baronet asks the House to grant a Committee to revolutionize the whole system of education in this country—a system which has been established after so much turmoil—to raise hopes which were beginning to die away, and to destroy as far as possible all that has been effected by the wisdom of Parliament and the labours of the Department within the last four or five years. Another evil result of the course which the right hon. Baronet wishes to see adopted will be that it will lead the schoolmaster class to think that the time has arrived for a fresh struggle. It, under all these circumstances, seems to me that I never since I had the honour of having a seat in this House knew a Motion to be submitted to our consideration so utterly unsupported as this by any valid reasons, or whose tendency is so injurious. What are the advantages which are likely to flow from its adoption I know not. If the right hon. Baronet is prepared to propose a system to carry education through the whole country, let him do so, and take the opinion of the House upon it. But why must the entire question be reopened—happily settled as we all thought it was, at least for some time to come—merely for the purpose of ventilating a theory which we know when it comes to the test of examination will never be received by the House? Education in this country has taken its rise in religious sentiment—it is based on a denominational feeling. But if you have a system of local education by means of rules it would follow that the ratepayers would not tolerate a great number of educational schools, and would insist on the children of the different denominations being taught together. Now, that may be a better system, but it is not, at all events, the present system, upon which large sums of money have been spent. Is 884 it wise, then, I would ask, to shake our confidence in things as they stand, unless you have a reasonable prospect of supplying something more efficient? But, after what has fallen from the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), it would appear that I am arguing upon a matter in respect to which a foregone conclusion has been arrived at. I ought, therefore, perhaps to apologize to hon. Members for having trespassed upon their attention at such length; but no man likes to see the work to which he has devoted so much time and trouble placed in such peril as I conceive our present system of education to be by the Motion under our notice. I do not, however, for a moment believe that he will persuade the country to adopt his system, although he may interfere with voluntary effort, and the conditions on which voluntary effort is aided by Government. Every statement which he made, every pamphlet which has been written on this subject seems to have been directed to one object—to break down the conditions which are the guarantees for the efficiency of the education given, and of the economy of the grant. "More money for schools, less guarantee for efficiency," is the cry. I do not think the right hon. Baronet will succeed in inoculating the Committee with his own views on the subject. He will, no doubt, be backed by a number of persons who will represent to him their grievances, and he possibly may succeed in damaging and breaking down the safeguards which intervene between these grants and the most unbounded extravagance. He may view the result with satisfaction, because it would be a step towards destroying the present system, which must precede the setting up in its stead that of which he is the advocate. I, however, can view it with no satisfaction. Much as the present may fail to meet the requirements of the country, I believe it to be, if not the best law, at all events the best law which the Athenians are capable of receiving. I therefore deeply deplore the agreement which seems to have been arrived at, to hand over this question to a Select Committee, and I have been discharging what I deem to be only my duty towards a Department with which I was so long connected in offering these observations to the House.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, that a construction had been put upon the Motion by the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, which it was not intended to bear, inas- 885 much as it was in no way proposed by it to upset the whole principle upon which the grant for education was now administered. For himself, he might say he would by no means give his assent to the Committee, if its objects were such as they had just heard described. He quite concurred, he might add, with his right hon. Friend near him that the question of improving the constitution of the Education Department was one well worthy of consideration, while his impressions were, as far as they went at present, decidedly adverse to some of the views of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter). It was most desirable that the functions of the Committee should be made clear. It was by no means intended to bring under discussion the whole principle on which the Education Grant was distributed. The constitution of the Committee of Council on Education was by Orders in Council 1856, the President and Vice President in his absence, and assisting him when present; and its functions related to the primary education of the working classes, and to the Department of Science and Art, the Charities, and other matters. The Committee proposed, beyond the constitution, to look into the system so far as the first only of these functions, and into the possible extension of the benefits of inspection and grants to schools at present unassisted. Such terms would make it clear that no Member of the Committee could open up the larger subject alluded to by the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe). The present constitution of the Committee was by no means satisfactory. It was analogous to the constitution of no other Department. Originally, he believed, the Board of Trade was a Committee of Council, but with the usual tendency of things theoretically wrong in this country to work themselves practically right, it had developed into a separate Office. The Committee of Council was anomalous in this respect, that a subaltern was the ordinary administrator, and that the nominal head of it interfered only as much as he was inclined, and was appointed for other purposes, and without reference to his fitness or turn for the' Educational Department. Whenever the President did interpose the effect was to diminish the interest which the Vice President took in his work, and that sense of individual responsibility which was so salutary and necessary a check on the performance of all duties. In his own 886 opinion, it would be much better to make the Vice President the sole, as he was at present, the ordinary administrator, and to make him wholly responsible for the conduct of the Department. That was at least a question which demanded investigation. There was no intention of repeating a Revision of the Code; but he could conceive various minor points in the conduct of the Office which were well worthy of consideration. This was an opportunity which might advantageously be taken for putting an end to a number of questions which were continually being brought forward, but which had never been settled. As to the manner in which Minutes of Council were published, he was satisfied with the clauses on that point in the last edition of the Revised Code. They now understood clearly that when any Minutes of Council were passed by the Committee, they were to be laid for a month on the table of the Blouse before they became law; and the right hon. Gentleman had introduced the useful practice of accompanying the introduction of new Minutes with explanations. Therefore there was now no fear of a Minute coming into operation without the House having its attention called to it, and being made aware of its nature. Another question was whether the number of Inspectors could not be reduced? Under the present system there must always be a great number of Inspectors, because each religious denomination required one. He believed, however, that the number, especially in Scotland, was needlessly large; and as to England there was no necessity for every kind of school in each denomination—and ragged schools, industrial schools, reformatories, and factory schools besides—having each a special Inspector. The House should contribute to no school not within the cognizance of the Education Department, and that one Department should be held responsible for the Estimates of every kind of school and present them together to the House. Another branch of the inquiry was whether the Government inspection and grants might not be extended to many schools which were now "unassisted." By that expression "unassisted" it appeared to be insinuated that these schools, designated as the poorest, were incapable at present of obtaining assistance. Now, he protested against that idea. If they were not assisted it was because they did not choose to take assistance. It was not because they were poor that they did not receive 887 it. The same voluntary action would suffice everywhere, and be sufficient to meet the easy terms of the grants, if they desired it. In the cases cited by the hon. Member for Berkshire, it was found on inquiry that there were rich landowners who gave only a few pounds, and that was the reason why the schools were not receiving more assistance, the grant being always a subsidy to subscription This was the question upon which the fate of the whole system depended. He believed in this, as in all cases where any institution was supported partly by public and partly by private funds, the tendency always would be for the institution to rest ultimately on one or other basis of support. He might instance the old houses of correction, which were established as charities, and had ended by becoming State institutions. A more recent case in point was the reformatories, which had become more and more dependant on public grants, and less on private funds. In the same way these primary schools would, he believed, tend, not to the side of dependence on the Department, but to the side of dependence on voluntary support, partly because the Government would grow impatient of the expenditure, and partly because the system involved the great injustice that the rich towns must always have the lion's share, and the poor villages a very small proportion of the public grants. Whatever the conditions be of any public subsidy, the claimants who most easily fulfil them must get more in the exact proportion of their wanting less, and the inevitable limit must press against the neediest. But if, in order to reach the lowest claimant, we begin tampering with the general system, and allowing a scramble for public money outside the system altogether, we have really arrived at the end of a justification of maintaining any public system of money aid to schools at all. Better keep the annual million in our pockets, and dispense it as we please to our poor schools, than pass it through the waste of a public office only to do the same, with the addition of needless expenditure in rich schools also. He therefore demurred to the last reference to the Committee proposed by the hon. Member for Berkshire.
§ SIR LAWRENCE PALK
said, it appeared to him that no greater or worse abuse in regard to the rural parishes of England had been inflicted for a great number of years than that inflicted by the Committee of Council on Education. The 888 right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne throughout his speech seemed to assume that there could be no schoolmasters but those who were certificated, and no judges of education but those who sat on the Government benches. Against both these propositions he ventured to protest. He believed that in rural parishes if they had local rates, local influence, and local management, they would mete out some measure of justice, some measure of fairness, and education would be further extended. As it was, the principle upon which the incidence of the operation of the Committee of Council turned had been to tax the poorest parishes to enable them to aid the education of the richest. In Lancashire he knew they received more than they contributed; while his own county, Devonshire—a very poor one—contributed much more than it received. So glaring was the injustice that it had attracted the attention of a lady eminent for her munificence and her constant acts of charity, and who, of her own accord, had proposed a plan which, he was glad to say, had met with approbation from the members of the Committee of Council on Education. He was very sorry, however, to say that such alterations had been made by them in the plan as would render what would otherwise have been a boon wholly useless and of no sort of benefit to the county he had the honour to represent. The hon. Baronet proceeded to read a letter from the Rev. Reginald Barnes, of St. Marychurch, Devon, who had been active in grouping the parishes in his neighbourhood together so as to fulfil the requirements of the Privy Council. Mr. Barnes was of opinion that Miss Coutts's scheme would work well, because the management was adapted to local circumstances, but that the proposed Minute would deny assistance to many groups of necessitous parishes. The House had agreed, and wisely agreed, to limit the education of the people, at all events the education which they supplemented by their votes, to elementary instruction; and if it was right, as he assumed it was, that the country should educate its people, he contended they had no right to educate one portion of the community and leave the others in the grossest ignorance. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) evidently indicated throughout the whole of his speech his great fear, not that education should not spread, but that the nature of education itself should deteriorate, 889 Now, he (Sir Lawrence Palk) admitted that it was the duty of the country to teach the elementary knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic; but the moment they stepped beyond that, and educated a portion of the people to a degree which was equivalent to capital and wealth to themselves, to the detriment of those who were left without education, they inflicted a vast injustice: they gave to one portion of their population wealth and capital, and positively consigned another portion to hopeless ignorance and, unaided, educational destitution. Devonshire was a county, as were the western counties generally, containing a poor and sparse population, very much scattered; and he would ask them to compare for a moment the condition of those who had received the benefit which was derived by large communities from Government aid, with the educational destitution which prevailed in the poor and scattered districts to which he referred. If he wanted an illustration of the disparity between the education of the urban population and the want of education in the rural parishes, he had nothing to do but to refer to the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) whose absence at that moment he greatly deplored. That hon. Gentleman, addressing a large body of his sympathisers and admirers the other day, tumbled over an old joke attributed to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), by others to the noble Lord at the head of the Government (Viscount Palmerston), and by some traced as far back as the reign of Queen Flizabeth—namely, that the further he went west the more convinced he was that the wise men came from the east; and he seemed to find in that old joke a subject of amusement and great satisfaction. In his mind it created a different feeling. He felt ashamed that any one holding the high position of the hon. Gentleman, and pretending to have great influence with those whom he represented, should have gloried in that ignorance which the injustice of the law had created; but he could not believe that there was any such difference in bodies of men as to make the population of the north intrinsically more adapted to receive education than the population of the south and west. If they educated the one and failed to educate the other, then, indeed, the joke might be a good one, although it did not carry justice or common sense with it. If the sense did flow 890 from the east, it was to be regretted that justice did not flow along with it. A statement had been put into his hands by the clergyman of St. Stephen's, Devon-port, dated the 2nd of January, 1863, and he thought the House would be of opinion that the country itself was degraded by the possibility of such a state of things. The clergyman asked his support in behalf of some 3,300 of the poorest and most depraved classes who were to be found congregated at the rate of 200,000 the square mile among shopkeepers of a third-rate rate kind, beerhouses innumerable, and worse places still adjoining. They had schools there, in which between 300 and 400 of the children of the soldiers and sailors of Her Majesty's army and navy and of the labourers in Her Majesty's dockyards were being educated; the Church services were maintained by voluntary contributions, they had abundant helpers in the schools, but were sorely in need of pecuniary aid. It might be right, the hon. Baronet continued, to educate the urban population of the north; it might be right to relieve the agricultural parishes of the south in their destitution; but he thought no man in the House or out of it would say that it was right, proper, fair, or just, to leave in the streets of Devon-port and Plymouth the children of soldiers, sailors, and marines, to the charity of ill-paid clergymen for their education, and to the charity of the public for that supervision which could alone preserve them from the temptations which abound in garrison towns. They had many schools in Devonshire; they had diocesan Inspectors and charitable institutions, but he regretted to say there was one establishment which was far below what was required, and would be filled if three times as large—the Devon House of Mercy, which was a refuge for those unfortunates, the daughters of those soldiers, sailors, and marines, who at the age of fifteen, and often younger, had become the prey of ignorance and distress in the streets of their garrison towns. The state of education in his own county, if there were no other reason, was sufficient to induce him to give a cordial support to the Motion of the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) and also to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter). He held in his hand a letter which gave instances of two extensive parishes, containing respectively a population of 460 and 330, in which the tithes belonged to the Dean and 891 Chapter of a populous city at a distance; the officiating clergy had but small salaries, there were no resident gentry, and the nearest town was seven miles distant in the one case and ten in the other, and yet, though they contributed to the fund for education like other parishes, they received neither an annual grant, a grant for repairs or building of schools, nor any grant in aid of education whatever. He had also in his hand a letter from a gentleman who occupied the important post of diocesan Inspector in the county of Devon, and who stated that out of forty-six schools in his district only twenty got Government money, though they all contributed more or less to the promotion of education; they were almost always supported by the personal exertions of the incumbents, and the burden was often very grievous upon persons of small means. In one case Government aid was refused, because there was no playground attached to the school, though it was situated on the verge of a moor, where the children could play and roam about at will; and in another because the master had inverted feet, the excuse in this case being that the children would suffer from looking at this deformity. However, after many excuses, and when at length driven into a corner, the Government admitted that the small places must go to the wall. He very much doubted, however, whether such a policy was founded in justice, or was wise or statesmanlike. While he thanked the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council for the boon which had been afforded to agricultural families, he pointed out that the requisition that each parish should have a school, and that the master should visit each school every week, and the limitation of the operation of the scheme to parishes within a mile-and-a-half of a population of 500 would materially impair its efficiency. The difference between the scheme of Miss Burdett Coutts and that of the Board was that the former made no limit to the duties of the schoolmaster, because confidence was felt in the efforts of earnest-minded men, such as diocesan Inspectors; while what the Government required was that the schools should fulfil the stipulations in order to obtain the small grant in case the results were satisfactory. He did not object to the urban schools having advantages in the form of night and other schools. Large populations had more right to assistance than sparse ones; but the provisions of the 892 Revised Code ought to be extended to poorer parishes, on the principle that one and all severally contributed to the fund. He had given notice of a Motion which he should have made had not the right hon. Baronet have submitted the present Motion. As he (Sir Lawrence Palk) thought the line pursued by the right hon. Baronet better than his he should content himself with supporting the motion, and not persevere in his own Resolution.
§ MR. F. S. POWELL
expressed his great satisfaction that the Government had consented to grant this Committee, and for two reasons. First, because it was of considerable importance for the good working of our institutions that all branches of our executive Government should be subject to the most rigid supervision of the House of Commons. Secondly, because it was feared some years ago that the managers and masters of schools might prove too strong for the central body, it was not less necessary to guard against the central authority proving too strong for Parliament. It was true, as had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), that the subjects to be referred to this Committee were within the scope of the inquiry of the Royal Commission; but it was equally certain that the Report of that Commission gave no complete or satisfactory information as to the respective functions of the President and Vice President of the Committee of Council. The Commission reported that the Lord President was "ex officio the head of all Committees, and of the Committee for Education among others;" while the Vice President was described as "the Parliamentary head of the Department," and one who "assists the Lord President, and acts for him in his absence." The question here arose—was the Vice President superior to the President as his "Parliamentary head?" Was the "Parliamentary head" superior to the high officer whom he "assisted," and for whom he "acted in his absence?" The question as to the superiority of functions in these cases had not been answered. He confessed that he had heard with infinite surprise the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), that the conscience clause had not been enforced in the Church of England schools. The right hon. Gentleman had become facetious, and he talked about the fly and the microscope. The right hon. Gentleman had played the part 893 of philosopher and the microscope, but he could certainly never have played the part of the fly, or he would have been conscious of the torture and wretchedness consequent upon the infliction of the conscience clause on the clergymen of the Church of England. He was strongly reminded of the old school-boy phrase "No compulsion, only you must;" and clergymen of the Church of England had submitted to the lesser of two evils and accepted the conscience clause rather than deny the benefits of education to the people. The hon. Baronet (Sir Lawrence Palk) had said in the North of England there was great assistance given to the schools, whilst in Devonshire and the south there was none. He believed that was not the case, but the truth was the North of England had been accustomed to assist itself—had not waited for others to assist it, but had been foremost in the struggle. Reference had also been made to Devon-port and the other Royal dockyards; and he trusted the children of our soldiers and sailors would receive due attention in the matter of education at the hands of the Government. If, as the hon. Member had said, non-assistance was owing to the deans and chapters, the latter should remember that their functions were intended to be exercised in the interest of the people, and if such dereliction of duty could be pointed out he (Mr. E. S. Powell) hoped such a deep disgrace would be wiped out. The right hon. Baronet who moved the appointment of this Committee had alluded only to the action of the Committee of Council in Downing Street; but another department of the Committee—namely, that of Science and Art, which had its centre at South Kensington, would also come within the terms of the reference. That department was gradually getting a large number of various societies and institutions under its superintendence, and seemed to be casting a wistful eye even at the National Gallery. This tendency to absorb other institutions was one to be watched, and one department ought not to be allowed to absorb them without the full consent of the House. He regretted that Science and Art had not received a larger share of support, and that the British Museum was in the state of confusion which now prevailed there. The proper way to proceed, however, was not by beguiling the country into a high art, but by procuring from this House the cooperation which he was sure they would 894 always be willing to afford in promoting such an object. In his opinion the inquiry now asked for should be granted, if only because of the unsatisfactory relations which now existed between the Committee of Council and those who devoted themselves to the work of education throughout the country. Those relations, although improved of late, were capable of still further improvement. Then the uncertainty which now prevailed so generally among the school managers and the masters would be very much diminished by inquiry. It was difficult to obtain pupil-teachers, of the male class at least, in consequence of the uncertainty which existed, and if the pupil-teachers failed the supply of masters would become defective. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne had said that capital was as a coy maid, which would not easily lend itself to her admirers; but if capital was coy, confidence in a public Department was more so. Now, considerable disappointment had been felt in consequence of the interpretation put on the late night school Minute. If the managers had known that forty meetings of the school instead of thirty-nine were required, such number of meetings would have been held. The interference in the architectural arrangements of the school buildings had also been another source of disappointment. But if this subject were fully investigated, and if it were shown that these discontents arose partly from misapprehension as to what actually was taking place, and partly from doubt as to the remedy, he believed that in the place of apathy and slothful-ness there would be activity and exertion. He did not wish to break down the safeguards of the grant as they now existed. He was anxious to maintain every safeguard calculated to call forth public assistance, but he did not think the safeguards should be all on one side—on the side of a great Department, and not on the side of the friends of education in the towns and counties. He hoped the result of this inquiry would be a more widespread confidence in the Committee of Council, that education would become more extended in England, and, finally, that the difficulties which had been suggested would be removed by a careful, an intelligent, and an impartial inquiry.
MR. H. A. BRUCE
It was not my intention to offer any opposition either to the Motion or the Amendment now before the House. I cannot, indeed, altogether deny 895 the proposition of my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne, that there is no necessity for this inquiry, inasmuch as ample information already exists upon the subject, nor that to some extent it is dangerous; but, on the other hand, I cannot but feel that the very appointment of the Committee may serve the useful purpose of restoring peace, harmony, and good understanding, both in this House and in the country, on the long-contested subject of education. It is admitted on all hands that great dissatisfaction and discontent exists, and my right hon. Friend himself gave good reasons for their existence—reasons alike honourable to himself and the Department with which he was connected; but that they did exist no one can doubt, or that considerable distrust had been expressed from time to time in this House. Therefore, it is of the highest importance in a matter which is no party question, but is one in which we are all interested, and in which the feelings of the country are so strongly bound up, that whatever tends to produce harmonious action should be conceded by Government, even though some little risk should thereby be incurred. I have already said I do not think the whole of the inquiry necessary, and with regard to the constitution of the Department I doubt whether any witnesses can add to the information on the subject contained in the Report of the Commission. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) has succeeded in showing to a certain extent that the constitution of the Department has its anomalies, and that it differs in certain points from all other Departments; but the right hon. Gentleman is too well acquainted with our constitution not to know that it is full of anomalies, and that in various Departments of Government may be found at least half-a-dozen such anomalies. But the question for the House to decide is simply whether the system works well, or whether it is ready with a new one which promises to work better. I, for one, have no faith in the reforms and improvements suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. I doubt whether the influence of the Department would be extended by its headship being vested in a Minister, and that Minister being in this House; neither do I see any reason to believe that he would necessarily be a Member of the Cabinet. On the other hand, there are various reasons why the head of the Department should be in the House of Lords, one sufficient reason being 896 given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne—namely, that the Established Church was represented by the bishops in that House. The speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne, however, showed me that our opinions do not exactly coincide as respects the exact position of the Vice President. I do not know that the measure of our differences is very great, but I myself have never regarded the Vice President as standing in the position of an Under Secretary of State. An Under Secretary of State is not necessarily supposed to take any part in the deliberations of his chief, while the Vice President is a Member of the Committee of Council, in which the policy of the office is decided. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) tells us that he had from the first foreseen the evils of the present arrangement, and he quoted the prophecies of Lord Derby, Lord Ellenborough, Lord Grey, and others, who anticipated failure upon the ground of the authority and responsibility being divided. But when the First Commissioner of Works, who was the first Vice President, brought forward in 1857 the Educational Estimates in this House, the right hon. Gentleman felt none of those apprehensions and doubts. He then stated that he derived great pleasure from the fact that the Vote for educational purposes was brought forward in that House by a Minister of Education, who was responsible for its various estimates. It was only the year after he was appointed, it is true; but I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman, who has given his special attention to the subject of education from that time until the present, both within and without this House, ever, until last year, fixed upon this particular evil as the cause of the shortcomings of the Educational Department. But the right hon. Gentleman has shown that he has confounded the defects of the system with the defects of the organization of the Department, because he has contended that it was owing to that organization that education had not extended into the poorer districts. It is unnecessary to go over the ground that my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne has trod with so much ability and power, but surely the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) must now see that the Department cannot be blamed or held responsible for the defects of the system it has had to administer, and which had been decided upon after repeated discussion in this House. That system is 897 founded upon two principles, that of affording aid to voluntary efforts, and of making effectual provisions for the improvement of education; with what justice then can the Department be reproached for failing to assist districts in which no voluntary efforts have been made, or which have failed to comply with the required conditions of efficiency? We have heard this evening from the hon. Member for Devon that some county and some town districts were unassisted, but he forgets that in this metropolis there are more unassisted districts than in any other part of the country. This is not from want of wealth; the people may be poor, but the property is there, although it is unfortunately in the hands of those who have no zeal for education, or if they have who show it elsewhere. The problem to solve, therefore, is how are we to assist districts of this description, and if my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) will enable us to solve it without destroying the leading principle of the Code I am sure both I and the whole House will be very thankful to him. But I confess, however much I should like to see it solved, whether through the proposed Committee or not, I have but little hope that he will find the solution. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) has clearly indicated what he intends to propose—namely, to intrust to local bodies the duty of extending assistance to places not hitherto reached. But can local bodies be safely trusted with the expenditure of Imperial funds? Can you venture to dissociate expenditure from responsibility? That would be the introduction of a most dangerous principle. The Department has been reproached, especially by the hon. Member for Devonshire, for deficiencies in this respect, but surely the hon. Member must recollect that the subject is not now pressed on the attention of the House for the first time, that these deficiencies in the system were notorious and had been made the subject of repeated inquiry, and that plan after plan has been invented to remove them. We all remember the Manchester and Salford scheme, the nearest approach to a national system ever propounded, and which was discussed at great length, and received with great favour by a certain party, but which fell to the ground before the strong opposition offered to it. Then there came the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir John Pakington), that every parish in the coun- 898 try might, if it chose, levy rates for the support of schools. That experienced opposition in this House on the ground of objections to a system of rating for such a purpose, and also because that system, it was contended, would fail exactly in those districts which it is most difficult for education to reach. Then there was the plan of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the general principle of which was that a parish should be bound to maintain a school just as it was bound to maintain its highways, and should be compellable to do so. This was in fact a compulsory system of education, differing however from the German system in this respect, that it did not compel attendance at school, but only the provision of sufficient schools. Next came the recommendations of the Royal Commission, which were, in effect, that the aid given by the State through the Privy Council should be continued, but be supplemented by further aid given by county boards out of the county rates on conditions less stringent than those imposed by the Committee of Council. The right hon. Gentleman has more than once reproached the Government for not having adopted their recommendations, forgetting that during the long discussions which followed the publication of the Report of the Commission, his was the only voice which advocated that portion of their scheme. The right hon. Member for Cambridge University brought forward certain Resolutions in opposition to the Government, and they formed the basis of the Revised Code. From no side of the House did the recommendations of the Commission receive any support, and the silence with which they were treated was even more significant than the active opposition given to Lord Russell's scheme. The Education Department has been reproached for not anticipating the suggestion of the noble-minded and generous lady to whom allusion has already been made. Now the subject of education was so generally interesting that many active and intelligent minds were constantly occupied in suggesting schemes for its improvement. It was the duty of the Education Department to listen to every useful and practical suggestion, when cesoever it came, and they had done so in the present instance. It was found not to militate against any principle of the Code, for a certain number of schools would be attended by a certificated master, and Government would thus have the means of reaching districts not 899 hitherto accessible. We therefore willingly and gladly adopted the suggestion in question. The right hon. Gentleman said that there are doubts whether this system is likely to be very effective. I will not prophesy, but though there are, indeed, difficulties connected with it, they are not so great as those involved in the scheme which the right hon. Gentleman suggested—the forcible union of a number of parishes into one. He said that we should take power to unite parishes; but the hon. Gentleman had not, at the moment, present to his mind the foundation of our whole scheme of education. We have no power to compel, though we might invite, parishes to combine and then give them assistance. Let me however give the House an example of the obstacles to such a plan. In 1856 we were asked to assist in aiding a common school for two parishes. The Committee of Council on Education made a grant of £600 and the school was opened, but afterwards a difference arose between the clergymen belonging to the two parishes, and one of them prevailed on his parishioners to withdraw their children. Subsequently an application was made to the Education Office for a grant of money to pull down the school, because it was too large for the children who attended. Many instances can be adduced showing how extremely difficult it is to get parishes under the guidance of different clergymen to unite for this purpose, though the object might be effected in a case where a gentleman of great local influence can prevail on different clergymen to concur in the union. The scheme contained in the recent Minutes is not exposed to the same dangers. All that would be necessary under it would be for a certain number of parishes to agree upon having one master. That master would attend the different schools, and at each school he visits he would be under the influence of the clergyman or manager who gave his attention to that particular school. The House is, perhaps, not aware of the immense number of small parishes collected together in different parts of England. I have selected a few of the most striking examples. In Northumberland there are 540 parishes, of which 455 have a population less than 500; Norfolk has 737 parishes, in 498 of which the population is under 500; Lincoln has 749 parishes, out of which 522 have a population less than 500; Somerset has 490 parishes, and 287 of these have a population less than 500; Hants has 345 parishes, of 900 which 187 have a population less than 500; and Yorkshire has 1,628 parishes, 1,121 of which have a population less than 500. The scheme enables not only small parishes to unite, but any number of schools may combine for the same purpose. It may therefore be hoped that this scheme in conjunction with other relaxations introduced from time to time may go far to mitigate the inequalities of the present system. During last year no less than 184 masters and mistresses obtained certificates on examination, without having passed through a training college. As many as 124 pupil-teachers have, under the provisions of the Revised Code, been provisionally certificated as teachers of rural schools. These can be got for an annual salary of about £40. There exists, therefore, no great difficulty in getting certificated masters, considering how much the qualifications have been reduced. Again, I cannot but allude to a passing remark of my hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire for the purpose of protesting against a mode of argument and attack too much resorted to. The right hon. Gentleman gave me credit, which I do not deserve, for inserting certain interesting tables in last year's Report. It is true I signed that Report, but it is, subject only to such alterations as I might suggest, the Report of my predecessor in office. The hon. Member for Berkshire asked what was the secret purpose of introducing those tables, and suggested that it had some disguised and selfish object. I answer that its sole object was the information of the House. The Government are called upon to administer the system fixed upon by the House as the only one possible, and it is their duty to show how far it has succeeded, and where it has failed. I have said that I do not myself see how the labours of the proposed Committee can result in any very considerable improvement of the present system; and in acceding to the wish of the House that the Committee should be appointed, the Government are as much actuated by the desire to restore confidence and peace as by the hope that any useful suggestions may flow from it. And I hope that the Committee which will be selected by the right hon. Gentleman will be so constituted as effectually to guard against the dangers which have been anticipated by the right hon. Member for Calne, as also to weigh the suggestions that will no doubt be liberally offered by the various witnesses who may appear be- 901 fore them. The hon. Member for Cambridge has touched upon the conduct of the Department with respect to the conscience clause, and spoken of that clause as having been forced upon the unhappy clergyman, who has been driven either to accept it or abandon his school. But all the hon. Member's sympathy was shown for the clergyman, and not for the children of Dissenters, who, but for that clause, would be excluded from the school. As the right hon. Member for Calne said, the conscience clause in one sense is not enforced; but, acting upon one of the oldest rules of the Code, the Government have felt themselves bound in the case of a parish which can have only one school, to see that the religious convictions of the Dissenting minority are not violated. The conscience clause is so worded as carefully to avoid any interference with the religious teaching, which goes on as before, power being reserved for the parent, who is the best judge in what creed he will have his child taught, to withdraw his child from the religious teaching. It is quite true that it is only within the last five or six years that the conscience clause has been insisted on. I make that admission; but the fact is that about that time it was found that a second school was frequently called for, on account of religious dissensions, in parishes for which one school was amply sufficient. The Department, being bound to consider the principles on which the grant was made, therefore decided, wisely, I think, never to make a grant for a parish in which there was a certain minority of Dissenters, without proper security been taken against the violation of their religious convictions. I will give an instance which has come within my own knowledge during the last few days of the necessity for such a provision. In a parish in Lincolnshire two children of Baptist parents were sent to a National School, built with money partly granted by the State, but at a time previous to the suggestion of the conscience clause. In a few weeks the clergyman informed the parents that unless their children were baptized they must be withdrawn from the school. The parents hesitated for some time, but, having no other school to send their children to, they were obliged, against their convictions, to have them baptized. A few years afterwards they sent another child to the school, and again the clergyman insisted that it should be baptized. The parents refused to comply, and the 902 child was withdrawn, and at this moment there is a correspondence going on with the clergyman and the trustees in that case. Of course we have no right to interfere. The clergyman is acting in his strict right—he has the power to exclude all those who refuse to learn the catechism or attend the church. But I ask whether this is not the sort of case which amply justifies the conscience clause? Knowing how powerful an instrument the Church is in the education of the rural districts, and that in those districts the cause of education depends almost entirely upon the vigorous and active co-operation of the Church, I have but one feeling, and that is a desire that this question may be settled upon terms honourable to her and honourable to ourselves. But the House will perceive that these grievances having been once found to exist it is impossible that they should remain unattended to. How they should be dealt with may properly be considered in the Committee, for this difficulty has been one of the principal reasons why education has not extended itself as rapidly as it might have done in the rural districts. If this question alone can be satisfactorily settled, I am convinced that the labours of the Committee will not have been in vain.
§ LORD ROBBRT CECIL
Sir, I am not about to enter into any lengthened controversy with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down on the subject of the conscience clause. I do not entirely agree on that point with my right hon. Friend who made this Motion. I am not so satisfied as he is as to the good effects it is calculated to produce, and I do not conceal from myself so much as I think he does the difficulties which accompany it. But I would remind the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of this Department that the existing system derives its whole energy for the spread of education from the co-operation of religous zeal; and that if you choose to accept the co-operation of that zeal you must accept with it all the conditions which it involves. Men do not care to teach a boiled-down, diluted, colourless religion. They care to teach that religion in which they themselves believe. They will not teach a mere system of morality, divested of the cardinal truths upon which they hold that their own salvation depends. This is not the place for me to argue whether such a belief is right or wrong; but I want to point out to the right hon. Gentleman and this 903 House, that, if you choose to accept the powerful aid of this religious zeal, you must not conceal from yourselves that what you call an exclusive religion is one of the conditions of the operation of that zeal. But I should like to reserve till some other time the more extended discussion of the question of the conscience clause, because I am bound to say that my right hon. Friend the Member for Droit-wich did not enter into its merits. He went only upon the constitutional ground common to those who approve the conscience clause and those who regard it with distrust. He advanced the doctrine, which I maintain to be a fundamental doctrine, that any measure so important as the enforcement of the conscience clause ought never to have been undertaken by an executive Department without the deliberate and formal concurrence of the House of Commons. I was pleased to hear the speech of the Vice President of the Committee of Council for one reason, that he begun by entirely endorsing the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne. He said that in one sense—and I was surprised that a right hon. Gentleman with such liberal opinions should have two senses to such words—he said that in one sense it was true that the conscience clause had not been enforced. But as he proceeded his native truthfulness overcame his official discretion, and he went on to say that it had been insisted upon. Now, I want to know what is the precise difference between enforcing it and insisting upon it. The right hon. Member for Calne is undoubtedly distinguished in this House by great abilities and much influence; but it will be allowed that he is rather addicted to a habit of refining upon words; and I think he has given way to this propensity in the present instance. It is well known that the Committee of Council have not enforced—because they have not the power of life and death—but have made it a condition of their grants in certain cases that the conscience clause should be adopted. I do not imagine that hon. gentlemen on the Treasury Bench will deny that. But if that is the case, you cannot say that the conscience clause has not been enforced. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is an orator eminently suited for his position in this respect, that he very rarely says anything which can offend those who disagree with him, and is very careful in stating his own opinions 904 —which he does with all candour and straightforwardness—to employ no phrase to which an opponent can object; and if only that right hon. Gentleman had spoken, this debate could not have been continued much longer. But the right hon. Member for Calne is a Gentleman of a different temperament. The intensity of his convictions and the strength of his impulses prompt him to use language of a more decisive character. The right hon. Member for Calne impugned in the most absolute manner the whole of the argument advanced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich. He denied that there Was any want of fixed responsibility in the present constitution of the Committee of Council; and he went on to illustrate that position by telling us that the whole responsibility for the conduct of the Education Department in this country rests with Lord Granville. Well, Sir, I should be satisfied, without a single argument further, to rest upon that admission the proof that there is no very definite responsibility on the subject of education. But the right hon. Gentleman went on with what I should have thought the hopeless attempt, at all events in this House, to contend that the Minister for Education, being the Lord President of the Council, and being the only man responsible for the conduct of this Department, ought to have a seat, not in the House of Commons, but in the House of Lords. And the proof he advanced for that doctrine was this, that the educational grant was distributed mainly among members of the Church of England, and that the Bishops of that Church have seats in the House of Lords. I was pleased to find in him so enthusiastic an advocate of the rights of the Church of England, and I could not help thinking that his removal from the Treasury Bench had effected a marked change for the better in the right hon. Gentleman. It is a new development of his character. But I confess that this boon would have been of more value if the Bishops had the slightest power of interfering with the grant for education. But it does so happen that the House of Commons, acting on the unquestionable usages of centuries, have always contested with the Lords their right to interfere with grants of public money; and the consequence is that there is no power in either the Bishops or the House of Lords to interfere with or modify-to the extent of a single penny the grants 905 on which the efficiency of the educational system depends. Taking a more constitutional view of the subject, I should say that the Minister who is responsible for the great expenditure of a Department ought rather to have a seat in the House of Commons. From this House all expenditure flows, in this House is determined on what objects the expenditure of the country shall be bestowed; and it seems to me a vital defect in the organization of the Committee of Council that the Minister who is really responsible for that Department is beyond responsibility to the House of Commons. But then the right hon. Gentleman advances an argument which I confess struck me as one of a very cogent character. He told us that if the Minister of Education were in this House he would be liable to be abandoned by his colleagues; that when he brought forward great measures on Education, his colleagues would decline to support him, he would not be backed up by those who sat beside him. I acknowledge the conclusiveness of that argument. It is evident to any one who remembers our recent history how effectively the Minister of Education has been backed up by his colleagues in the House of Commons. We know that on all occasions they have protected him by careful organization against any chance defeats, that they have been careful to push forward his measures at whatever costs to themselves, that they have never stooped to a device in order to cover him with confusion and to save themselves from a Ministerial defeat. In that point of view, the right hon. Gentleman has a great deal to say for his personal experience in favour of keeping the President of Council in the House of Lords. The right hon. Gentleman made a very, earnest impassioned speech, but it was a speech with this peculiarity, that it was filled with admissions that supported to the very utmost all the arguments of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich. For instance, I think the burden of his speech was to tell us that the system of the Education Department was full of complexity, and that it was intensely unpopular with the country. He concluded a very eloquent and animated peroration by lamenting that unpopularity, and drawing a sort of moral on the ingratitude of the people who had been served so well. But I should have thought that a system so intensely unpopular and so complex that no one could understand it was a legitimate subject of 906 inquiry by the House of Commons. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to ano-other admission. He told the House that the Education Department possessed a quasi legislative power. Now, I can hardly conceive that anybody could have expressed more clearly and more aptly the precise nature of the objection that we on this Bench have to the constitution of that Department. We do not like a quasi legislative power—this imperium in imperio. There is one legislative power in the kingdom, and that is the Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland; and any other power which interferes with that is dangerous to the State and perilous to the liberties of the subject. And see how that quasi legislative power works. The right hon. Gentleman has introduced in his time many important changes in the Educational Code. He does not conceal the importance of the changes he has introduced. He tells us he has destroyed the vested interests of 10,000 schoolmasters, and turned adrift 15,000 managers. I cannot recapitulate the enormous changes which he, with feelings of self-complacency, recounts. Is it, then, any presumption in the House of Commons that they should wish to have some share in such changes, and to determine whether they are right or wrong? There is no doubt a form gone through when these changes are made. The Minutes of Council are laid on the table of the House; and if any hon. Member can get a Tuesday within a month, and if he is not "counted out," or beaten by an accidental division, it is possible not to reverse a particular Minute, but that he may induce the Committee of Council to lay upon the table another Minute differing by illusory alteration from that of which he has complained. That is the extent of the power of the House of Commons over the Minutes of the Council. We are well acquainted with the changes introduced in the national system of education by the Revised Code, the extent to which they affected individual interests, the extent to which they affected individual interests, the panic struck into the managers by the alterations in that Code. An hon. Friend of mine, the Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter), proposed to the Committee at the time a measure which he thought, rightly or wrongly, would correct the evil tendency of the Revised Code, by giving effect to it in its ultimate and most logical results; but he was beaten by a majority of seven. We all know how far a majority of seven ex- 907 presses the opinion of the House and how easily it may be reversed on a future occasion. But the rules of the House, provide that a negative having been once given the decision could not be challenged, and the Committee of Council were able to carry the Revised Code into force without the corrective condition, and the hon. Member for Berkshire was left to another year to renew his Motion. Last year we had occasion to object to what we thought a most dangerous innovation of the Committee of Council on the subject of the endowment of schools. It was not merely that they had altered the condition of their grants, but by a careful and most ingenious blow they struck at the very principle of endowments. They tried, and they succeeded for a time, in deciding as a principle of State policy that endowments are not the property of those for whose benefit they are made, but are part of the public property of the State. A principle more fraught with danger it is impossible to conceive. Well, this Minute was laid upon the table; objection was taken to it, a debate resulted, and the opinion of the House was manifested against it. The right hon. Member for Calne, willingly or unwillingly, was compelled to give way, with a promise that he would introduce a new Minute in accordance with the op-pinion of the House. We thought we had obtained a victory, and that the odious Minute would be revised. Not a bit of it. A slice was taken off the corner, and the Minute, so improved, was introduced, and the opinion of the House again challenged on the subject. Owing to the want of speakers or some of those other accidents so common in this House, a snatch division was taken just before dinner. There were Members enough outside the door to carry the division against the revised Minute, but the Government carried it by a majority of eight. By this peculiar arrangement, by which the decisions of the Committee of Council are only submitted to the House in the form of a Minute laid on the table for a month, that "snatch division" could not be reversed. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich, later in the Session, desired to ascertain the opinion of the House on the point; but you, Sir, forbad him to proceed, laying down that the decision of the House once made could not be reversed in the same Session. Supposing that instead of this despotic proceeding on the part of the Committee of Council, they were subject to the same 908 conditions as other departments, and compelled to come to the House for an Act sanctioning what they proposed,—the question affecting public money, religion, education, the vested interests of tens of thousands of men, the good faith of the State, the managers of schools who had made great sacrifices with a patriotic aim—supposing the Government compelled to ask for an Act of Parliament in order to carry out their views, should we have been confined to a single issue? The wisdom of our ancestors for centuries past has provided that important measures shall be submitted again and again to the House of Commons before they become the law of the land. There would be the first reading, the second reading, going into Committee, each stage in Committee, report on Committee, the third reading, the question that the Bill do pass—in all these stages it would have been open, again and again, to test the opinion of the Commons, so that no change affecting the liberty of the subject should have been agreed to till it was ascertained that it was the determined and deliberate will of the House of Commons. These may seem to be mere questions of form. To my mind they are all important questions of substance. If it is right that upon one single vote principles of this importance should be decided, if the education office has a right to carry off as a permanent triumph any "snatched division," then all the principles of the House have been radically wrong. Either we ought to alter the principle on which Acts of Parliament are passed, and allow the Government to pass Acts of Parliament by Minutes of Council, to be laid from time to time on the table of the House, leaving it to hon. Members to challenge them within a month, or else the Minutes of Council ought to be subjected as frequently and as thoroughly to the decision of the House of Commons as any other subject that comes before -it. The so-called quasi legislative power of the Council is nothing more than juggling the House of Commons out of its authority. If the revised code had been submitted genuinely and honestly to the House of Commons the result would have been very different. There is only one other point to which I desire to allude. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. H. A. Bruce) has referred to the wide discontent which exists in the country with respect to the operation of the education law. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) seemed to think it 909 rather a creditable thing than otherwise, and claimed credit for the boldness with which he challenged the ill-will and the discontent of the managers of schools. If that is a virtue there is no more virtuous Member of the House than the right hon. Gentleman. But it is more in accordance with the practice of the House to believe that when any wide-spread discontent exists that that discontent ought to be made the subject of careful and anxious inquiry. My own impression on the matter is this. I do not wish to speak of anyone not present in a tone of censure, but no doubt the managers of schools and the clergy have been annoyed by the manner in which the power vested in the Secretary of the Council has been exercised. I wish to make no charge wounding the feelings of that Gentleman. On the contrary, if I accuse him of anything it is this—that being an able man, and having strong views of what was good for the country, he grasped at the power of carrying those views into effect. But there is no doubt that the feeling exists far and wide that the responsibility of the Education Department to Parliament is a sham—that the practical power is centred in a permanent officer, and that so long as he entertains opinions hostile to the straightforward and proper working of this educational system, and retains the power which he now possesses, the Education Department and the managers of schools throughout the country will never be brought into harmony. Whether that be so I am unable to judge. I merely express the feeling of discontent which I have heard out of doors. But whether this feeling be just or not, it is fair to the managers of schools, and it is no less fair to the Secretary of Council himself, that that should be made the subject of careful inquiry. We ought to ascertain whether any undue power is lodged in men who are not responsible to Parliament. If we are certain that there is not, their guiltlessness ought to be published to the world—we ought to show on whom the responsibility rests, to make it so clear that there can be no doubt, and that thereafter the clergy and managers of schools throughout the country may understand that responsibility, and may fix upon Parliamentary officials such responsibility as is their due. It seems to me that in the present state of opinion out of doors, and considering the discontent and difficulty which has existed for the last six years, there 910 is ample cause and justification for inquiry.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that the remarks made by the noble Lord who had just sat down might induce the House to believe that hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Opposition benches only, were averse to the granting of money for educational purposes, except by Act of Parliament. But in that view of the question he cordially concurred. He had on a former occasion contented himself with entering a protest against the practice of making educational grants, and had patiently awaited the time when a better feeling would take possession of the House, and when that assembly would return to those constitutional powers which had been referred to in the course of his speech by the noble Lord. He did not certainly agree with the references which had been made by the noble Lord to his right hon. Friend the Member for Calne. It appeared to him that the educational grant, which, as they all knew, began with a very small one, had crept—for he would not say grown—up in an unsatisfactory, skulking manner, instead of by bold, healthy, and vigorous strides, and the result was, that they had introduced into this country, by the intense cleverness of a number of persons, an elaborate system of State—or what its promoters were pleased to denominate—national education, while masking and covering their ideas in popular opinions. The grant had increased from £30,000 to a sum bordering upon £1,000,000, and with this increase had crept in numerous abuses, for the subject had been dealt with from the first with studied artifice and concealment of purpose. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Lowe) on accepting office had found these difficulties to deal with, and if any Minister had the power of granting £1,000,000 over the country, it was impossible for him to attempt any correction of abuses without becoming the most unpopular man in the kingdom. If he were told that his right hon. Friend had made himself unpopular, he could not but regard the circumstance as a proof that his right hon. Friend had performed his duty. He thought that his right hon. Friend had been eminently successful in checking the abuses which had crept in, and in laying the foundation of a better system, and he believed that that Gentleman had rendered more service to the country than any Minister who occupied the Treasury Bench 911 during the present Administration. He felt convinced that the Education Department fell when his right hon. Friend resigned his office, for his right hon. Friend had doomed the Department by the vigorous course which he had adopted, and the House had now come to see the necessity of dealing with those questions upon a constitutional basis. The whole matter now seemed to be in the hands of the autocrat of education in another place. The House would have to take the disposal of the money into its own hands, and have a responsible Minister in the House. If the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) had been such a responsible Minister, there was no doubt he would have been able to maintain his own. The efforts of his right hon. Friend, even under the difficulties alluded to by the noble Lord, had, he was satisfied, been attended with a material and beneficial alteration in the mode of education. He was perfectly content that his right hon. Friend should labour under temporary unpopularity, because he felt convinced that the people would ultimately appreciate the sacrifices which he had made in the cause of education.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
It would seem from the speech of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets that the State has been the founder of education in the country, and has been doing something which entitles it to interfere in the management of the education of the country. Now, I entirely repudiate any such notion. The education of the country has been founded mainly on the voluntary efforts of the people. The hon. Member for Sheffield cheered the statement that four-fifths of the grant went to the clergy of the Established Church; but the fact is, that they have been the founders, and supporters, and maintainers of the education of the country. When we are told that 11,000 or 12,000 schools are neglected by the State, and that grants are not given to them, it shows that the system of education is a voluntary one, to be supplemented by the State, and that the State has abstained from exercising any direct control, and is contented that the system shall be voluntary; that the State will aid, but will not take upon itself the control or management of education. Of course, to a certain extent it must interfere. It must see that the school houses are of a proper description, that the schools are under proper discipline, and 912 that sums be raised voluntarily to justify the State in rendering assistance. But it was never intended that the State should interfere with the religious instruction given in the schools. Practically, these schools throughout have been founded upon religion. Those Gentlemen who are in favour of secular education have tried to establish their systems in this country, not with their own money but with that of the public. Every attempt to establish such a system either by grants or rating had entirely failed; but with the religious system it was different. The people interested in religious education have given sums enormously large compared with any State grant, and therefore it is that they feel aggrieved when they are interfered with by a system being forced on them by the Department different from that which they have given their money to support. I will not enter into any discussion on the subject of the conscience clauses. Nothing has surprised me so much as to hear from the right hon. Gentleman opposite that this is to be a subject of inquiry before the Committee. The inquiry of the Committee, as I understand the matter, is to be entirely confined to two questions—the question of the constitution of the Department which is to assist education, and the terms on which it ought to make its grants. The object of the Motion of the hon. Member for Berkshire is to call attention to the want of assistance in the case of small schools which cannot afford a certificated master, without entering into the question of religion at all. I am quite satisfied that if it had been supposed that the right hon. Gentleman was proposing to remit to the Committee the consideration of a question so great as that which has incidentally been introduced into the debate, the discussion would have been one of a very different character. The speech of my right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington) was confined to those points which he considered of importance, and when he referred to the conscience clause he merely said that it was introduced suddenly without having been brought under the consideration of this House. I rise to enter my protest against that question being referred to the Committee. Before referring it in that manner the question ought to be more seriously discussed, and attention ought to be called to the cases in which the conscience clause has been enforced. I trust it will be 913 understood that the inquiry of the Committee is to be confined to the subject to which my right hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Berkshire have addressed themselves, and that we shall leave the conscience clause and the question of deduction for endowments to be considered on their own merits. They do not affect the constitution of the Committee, or the system on which they act, but they affect principles upon which it may be necessary for the House to decide at some time or other. The Committee is to inquire, not into new systems of State or local aid, but the mode of administering the Parliamentary grant. I will now call attention to the limitation of the powers of the Committee contemplated by the terms of my hon. Friend's Motion. It runs as follows:—And also into the best mode of extending the benefits of Government inspection and the Parliamentary grant to schools at present unassisted by the State.Therefore if it is supposed this Motion is to lead the Committee into any wide discussion as to new methods of dealing with religious questions, or as to rates for educational purposes, that is, I say, a great mistake. I think that it is not competent for the Committee to go beyond the terms of the Motion into any subject on which Parliament has already decided. The House has already decided that the denominational system is that which is supported by Parliament, and I hope the House will adhere to that, and not allow the Committee to re-open that subject until at least it has been previously discussed by Parliament.
§ MR. HENRY SEYMOUR
hoped that the terms of the Order of Reference would be sufficiently wide to enable the Committee to decide what the functions of a Minister of Education ought to be. The Privy Council was intrusted not only with the annual grants for educational purposes, but with the sums yearly voted for purposes connected with science and art. He could not understand why a departmental division should any longer exist, and why the duties at present intrusted to the Department of Science and Art should not be confided to the Minister for Education. The Committee might also inquire advantageously whether great educational departments such as those of South Kensington and the British Museum should not be intrusted to the same hands, the House under the present system being obliged to gain its in- 914 formation indirectly—with regard to the British Museum from some one of the trustees who happened to be a Member of the House. In endeavouring to draw out the Education Department from the great body of the Privy Council the House would be following strictly constitutional precedents. The legal tribunals of the country had gradually absorbed among themselves the jurisdiction originally exercised by the Sovereign in Council, and in the last century, when the colonies grew into importance, the Board of Trade and Plantations assumed a separate existence. Only ten years ago the colonies were separated from the Ministry for War, and the President of the Board of Trade was now charged with special functions of such importance that the Chamber of Commerce at Manchester suggested a yet further separation, as one likely to be highly acceptable to the commercial community—namely, that the President of the Privy Council should be separated from the Privy Council, and made a Minister of Commerce. The time was rapidly approaching when the offices of the Government ought to be remodelled. There was this Committee of Privy Council for Education; but education was a growing subject in this country and required a separate department for itself. No doubt the Secretaryship of the Poor Law Board was an office not required; but education was a rising department while that of the poor law was a falling one. In a well established community like ours, with the immense wealth we possessed, there ought to be no pauperism; but as wealth increased so ought education to increase likewise, and there ought to be a Minister of Education separate from the Privy Council; and if they had the Department represented in both Houses of Parliament that would not be too much for its importance. He hoped that the right hon. Baronet in his Order of Reference would take sufficient scope so that the Committee might be enabled to give full and complete recommendations to the House—so that next year, whatever Government might be in power, some perfect organization would be inaugurated. There was one other subject which he hoped would be referred to the Committee. The position of rural parishes required to be re-formed, owing to the imperfections of the Revised Code brought in two years ago. It could not be expected that the rural districts would submit to pay their quota of taxation, receiving no- 915 thing in return. If land in a rural district were charged with the support of a school conducted by a certificated master it diminished its value very materially, and yet the proprietor reaped no corresponding benefit in a pecuniary sense. He should like, therefore, to see some changes as to certificated masters. No doubt the certificated master in a small rural parish would not have enough to do, and the proposition to unite such parishes was a wise one; but he (Mr. Henry Seymour) would have the Committee go much farther, and if it recommended an ecclesiastical as well as a civil union it would confer an immense benefit on the country. Such a measure would not only resolve the educational difficulty, but the clerical difficulty too. The hon. Member for Berkshire had well pointed out that a clergyman in a small rural parish had little to do. In any place with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants there was less than a man of vigour could attend to. It would be a great boon if such parishes were united for every purpose, agricultural, social, educational, and clerical. He wondered the Home Department had not taken up this subject years ago. It was quite unreasonable to expect the landowners to go to the great expenses of school buildings and a certificated schoolmaster; and it was equally unreasonable to expect gentlemen to subscribe £3,000 or £4,000 to increase the clergyman's stipend of £100 to something on which men could live. That was the reason of the failure of so many of these diocesan meetings for the increase of endowments. The Government had good grounds for such a step, for it was recommended fourteen years since by a Committee of which the Earl of Shaftesbury was Chairman. If this system were introduced they would not hear of cases like that mentioned by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, where £500 was given by the Privy Council to some united parish schools, and after they were united they wished to be dissevered. He was astonished that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) should say that this Committee was unnecessary. What subject was less understood? What subject was of greater importance than that of education? The question of night schools was far from being settled; and there were many other subjects which would be inquired into by the Committee. After some allusion to lower middle class education, in respect to which he said we might take pattern by the United States, 916 the hon. Member concluded by moving, as an addition to the Order of Reference, that the Committee should inquire whether some portion of the duties of the Department of Science and Art could not be transferred to the Board of Education.
§ MR. SPEAKER
informed the hon. Member that he could not move the Amendment at present. The state of the question was, that no Amendment having been proposed to the first branch of the original Motion, that part would stand and would have to be submitted to the House in its complete form. But the question now before the House was whether the words proposed by the hon. Member for Berkshire should be added, and if any hon. Member proposed to move an Amendment upon those words it would be open to the consideration of the House.
said, he had not intended to take any part in the discussion, having understood that the Government had consented to the appointment of a Committee and also the Amendment of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter); but the hon. Member who spoke last seemed to desire to make the Order of Referenee very wide and the Committee very strong. Considering the subjects which the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Henry Seymour) wished to be added, it would also be desirable that the duration of this Parliament should be extended for another five or six years, because he wished not only to discuss middle-class education, but to consider the union of parishes, and, of course, the pulling down of churches, which would then, of course, become unnecessary. To consider these subjects the Committee would certainly require a very ample allowance of time. Coming, however, to the subject more immediately before the House, he must remark that during this discussion he had heard one or two very curious statements. They used to be told that certificated masters were necessary in order to impart a higher degree of instruction than the old dames were able to give. But when Canon Moseley parted from the Privy Council he left, as a legacy, his last report, in which he stated that unless they could manage to keep the children at school beyond the age of nine or ten, he was bound to tell them that certificated masters could not give as good an education as the dames, and, therefore, the high training of the masters would be a waste of money. In some years after that, every effort was 917 made to keep children longer at school, so that they might obtain the benefit of those highly-trained master. Then the question assumed another phase. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne had told them that those highly-trained masters were not wanted so much for the high-training of children as for those little ones called "blesseds," those from two to six years of age, who received the name of "blesseds," because money was drawn for them without their having to undergo examination, and he must say they honestly deserved the name. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne now said that highly-trained masters were required for these children. Why? Because, said the right hon. Gentleman, you must have them to secure moral teaching. But the right hon. Gentleman told the House when the Revised Code was under discussion that the State had nothing to do with teaching religion. Did he, then, now want moral teaching without religion? What kind of moral teaching was it that these highly-trained masters were to give? One would have thought that the denominational system, which was supposed to be based upon religious teaching, would have been sufficient, and that the "blesseds" would be as well taught by a good uncertificated schoolmistress as by one of the learned gentlemen who could instruct them in political economy or sanitary science, or other out of the way knowledge as a condition of blessedness. He had been glad to hear the Vice President of the Education Committee say that he would go into the Committee without any bias, and with a full desire to discover what aid could be given to the schools which were at present unassisted. He was glad to hear that declaration, because he had great -reliance upon the right hon. Gentleman's candour, and, therefore, he believed that if anything could be done to give assistance where it was needed, it would be. He regretted, however, to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he regarded the certificated master as a principle of the Education Department. Looking at some of those gentlemen, it seemed that that was a very queer and sandy foundation upon which to base the principle of a great department. The old principles of the Department were laid down, not by Minute, but by Orders in Council in 1839 and 1840. Those principles were that Church of England schools should be in connection with the National Society, and that in all other 918 schools the Scriptures were to be read daily. That was a religious basis. Afterwards the rule was enlarged in favour of Jews and Roman Catholics, and very properly so; but still nothing was to be done without religion. Now they came to the Committee that had been assented to, and it was impossible to see more clearly how much the system wanted examination than from what had taken place with reference to those original Orders in Council—how they had been dealt with by Minutes, how those Minutes had been dealt with by regulations, and how the regulations had been wholly changed by interpretations put upon them within the walls of the Education Office. He had mentioned what the original Orders in Council were, and he was not aware that those Orders had been done away with. Then came the Minutes and what was called the Revised Code, which spoke of "schools in connection with a recognized religious denomination." That was clearly a religious foundation. Then it said "besides secular instruction, the Scriptures are to be read daily from the authorized version." There again, if not definite dogmatic teaching, they had the next best thing—God's Word read in a proper and, he concluded, in a reverential manner. Let the House observe how that had been followed out. The Code said that as one of the conditions of the grant "the religious denomination of the school must be suitable to the families relied upon to supply scholars." That clearly referred to the case of parishes chiefly inhabited by Jews, Roman Catholics, Church of England people, or Nonconformists, as the case might be. But what interpretation had they put on it, and what action had they taken? They had not chosen between Nonconformists, Church of England, Jews, and Roman Catholics, but they said to the Church of England, "We will give you a school, if you will let any number of people in, and don't teach any religion at all." That was their interpretation of "religious denominations suitable to the people." Certainly it was not the province of this Committee to consider whether conscience clauses should be inserted, but it ought to inquire into a system which, as far as the Office could go, could upset the original Order in Council by this kind of hocus pocus, and which might, though he would not say that was the desire, subvert the whole religious teaching of the country. The inquiry might do good both ways. He was not one of those who thought 919 there was any want of responsibility, because he had always held that the Queen's Government in a lump, or, perhaps, he should say in a body, was responsible for the acts of any of its Members or departments; and he never would take any part in throwing the individual responsibility on A or B. The whole Government, collectively and individually, was responsible if anybody in it went wrong. He hoped the country never would lose sight of the fact that its education was in the main voluntary. It was assisted, and assisted only in a limited part, by the State; and while it was voluntary, there must not be too much meddling and tinkering and tailoring by the department. Too plain principles could not be laid down, and the less the Government departed from those principles, the less they tinkered and tailored at them, the less they tried to shove one clause one way, and another clause another, the more money would voluntarily come in, the more people would be educated, and the better they would be educated. That was pretty well seen from the 'report of the Queen's Commissioners. Up to that time they were deluded by the reports of the office, in which they were told that the people were excellently educated. Not having gone through a competitive examination, perhaps hon. Members were easily cheated; but, at any rate they were deluded. They had fine tabulated statements put before them of all the things that were taught in the schools. But when the Commissioners told them that the children could neither read nor write, the office turned round and said "Oh, we did not mean when we said that the children were taught, that they learned. We meant that we had the teaching power." That showed how beautifully they were "done" in this matter. This matter bore closely on the rural parishes. He lived in a county of small parishes, and he had never heard a complaint from any of these parishes, though they had paid their penny income tax for the general Christian education of the country, that they did not receive any assistance until after the Report appeared. Then they said directly, "If this expensive machinery does not succeed, perhaps our plan is as good, why should not we have a share of State aid?" And certainly, if they could not trust their machinery without examination, on what principle was it they did not examine these schools? Many of them would 920 not accept State aid and interference; but there were many others where such assistance would be of great value, and it was a hard case that they had never received it. No doubt the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman opposite might be worked in some few instances, though he was not sanguine about it, as he had turned the same thing over in his mind some ten or a dozen years ago, to see how it would work. The principle seemed a very sound one, and it might work very well if they could get parishes within a reasonable distance to agree to the conditions. Forty children was a large number to get in many parishes, even by taking in the "blesseds." Another difficulty would be, that in many of the smaller parishes the little children—infants as they were called—were kept in a schoolroom separated from the others, and a schoolroom sufficient for twenty or twenty-five children, would not suffice for forty, so that a new building would have to be erected. However, if it succeeded anywhere it would be a gain. He protested against making it always necessary to have a certificated master. Now that there was examination for a test, parties ought to have the benefit of it without a certificated master. He hoped that the Committee would have the effect of thoroughly overhauling the working of the office. If the Department were found defective, it would be amended; and, on the other hand, if it did not appear to be defective, the public would be more satisfied. Not that there would not always be some dissatisfaction, for when the barley was scattered there were always some of the fowls that did not get it. Anyhow the Committee must do good.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
thought that if the limit laid down by the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) were accepted the Committee would be of little use. Not that he wondered at any hon. Member endeavouring to limit the Committee, because, if appointed, it would have a very difficult piece of business before it. It would have to kill two birds with one stone, and he should have been glad if the original idea of his hon. Friend (Mr. Walter) could have been carried out, and the Motions of the right hon. Gentleman opposite and the hon. Member for Berkshire kept separate, and two different Committees appointed. The right hon. Member for Calne seemed to think that there was no great reason for the inquiry of the Member for Droitwich, but 921 even in his eloquent speech there was abundant proof of its necessity. The Royal Commission had given them very little information as to the constitution of the office, but it certainly seemed to make a strong case for inquiry when one of the most active Ministers who had ever filled the office of Vice President was heard to confess that it ought to be a matter of rule that the head of the Department should be in the Upper House. The House of Commons had often complained that they had the estimates moved by a Minister whose chief was in the other House, but he had never heard it urged that it would be an advantage that that system should be the rule. Another matter of importance to be inquired into would be the relations of the office to that House, and the manner in which the education estimate should be moved, whether in separate votes, like the Army and Navy Estimates—giving the House several opportunities of voting on them—or altogether in one Minute, giving only one opportunity of voting. No doubt there would be much to be said on both sides. On the one side it might be said that there was no difference between education and any other estimates; and on the other hand it might be urged that a great deal of discretion ought to be left to the office. The hon. Member for Berkshire came forward with his case, which related to the expenditure of the money; whereupon his hon. Friend the Member for Leominster had stated that the Committee could not consider the question of a rating for the purposes of education. In his opinion, if the Committee were so limited it would be useless for it to undertake the inquiry at all; because he did not see how the Committee was to report on the subject if inquiring into the means of meeting the expenditure was not to be open to it. Then again it was true that his right hon. Friend, the Vice President of Education had proposed a Minute which he thought would meet the case of the hon. Member for Berkshire who might then well have waited till that Minute was in operation. He was inclined to agree with those hon. Members who had expressed their opinion that his right hon. Friend's Minute, though well devised, would not altogether meet the case; but he thought it would have been better if the Committee had been able to examine into the operation of the Minute. He could not, however, forget that the Royal Commissioners had gone into the question, and arrived at 922 the conclusion that the difficulties of the smaller rural schools could only be met by some system of rating; and his hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire made a very strong case. He said the managers of those schools wanted help. They paid their money for help, and yet the House of Commons said they were to have none of their money back again. Then they provided teachers, and were ready to submit to an examination. His right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Committee said that the public money was intrusted to the Department, and it should get security for the character of the instruction given in the schools. His hon. Friend the Member for Berkshire observed, "All you ask by your Revised Code is results." When pressed on this point, the Vice-President of the Committee said, "I won't rely on results. They are very good as against the manager, but not good as against the Department having the disbursement of the grant. I will not depend on a short examination; I must have the guarantee of the appointment of the teachers." Were there many Gentlemen in that House who would feel that £3,000,000 of money could be safely disbursed on no other guarantee than the results of an examination? Well, they had brought the matter to this point—either they must risk the injustice of refusing aid to those schools which most wanted it, or they must devise some other principle on which it could be given to them; and this involved the consideration whether public funds for educational purposes ought not to be provided by some other means than a grant out of the Consolidated Fund. All these considerations seemed to drive the House towards the question of rating, and though it might be somewhat premature, he was not anxious to avoid that question. As Parliament had full power over rates which it authorized to be made, the power of Parliament extends to rates made for educational purposes, and therefore he thought the rating question would fall within the scope of the reference to the Committee. Once rates were raised for education, those who paid them would claim for the education of their children not only a share of the money so raised, but they would also ask for some power of control over these rates. This would raise the question of local management. The subject was a large one, and he hoped the scope of the Committee's inquiry would not be limited unnecessarily.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, that that debate 923 illustrated, in a very striking manner, the different principles on which the Government dealt with Great Britain and with Ireland. Whatever difference there might be as to details, English Members seemed to be unanimously of opinion that the principle of making national education a religious education was a sound one; and yet this was a principle which would not be extended to Ireland, though the Bishops of the Protestant Church as well as the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in that country were favourable to it, and an immense number of petitions asking for its adoption in Ireland had been presented to both Houses. Lord Clancarty, in a pamphlet on the subject, showed that, until a religious system was introduced into Ireland, neither the Protestants nor the Catholics would be satisfied. He pointed out that 45 per cent of the Irish Roman Catholic children between the ages of five and fifteen years were totally illiterate. The Church Education Society, which was exclusively Protestant, received no grant for its schools, because it caused the Bible to be read in them, although its system of education was most efficiently conducted, and although such a man as the late Mr. O'Connell had thought proper to contribute to its funds. The Society of Friends had no grant for a similar reason. In the same way the Roman Catholic Christian Brothers, who educated the children of their own communion most admirably, had no share in the national education grant. They might depend upon it that so long as such a system were pursued discontent would prevail in Ireland.
§ MR. WHALLEY
observed, that a large grant, amounting to some £316,000, had been made last year for the administration of the educational system first proposed by Lord Derby, but he was afraid that a large part of it would go to the convent school teaching. He wished also to observe that he had read in the office of the Educational Board a book purporting to be a history of England, published he believed by Messrs. Burns and Lambert, Roman Catholic publishers, and a more complete travestie and perversion of every important fact in the history of England it was scarcely possible to conceive, and yet thousands of these books were constantly circulated under the sanction of the Education Department. It was, he thought, matter for regret that such books should be so circulated.
said, it seemed to be taken for granted that it would be a 924 great advantage to unite several parishes together for the purpose of securing one large and good school. This sounded very well, but he had known cases where this had been done, and it caused great complaints from the parents of children who had to go a considerable distance to school, though he was ready to admit that in particular cases the plan might answer well. He thought the Committee of Council had, in the past, somewhat mistaken their position, especially in the manner in which they had conducted their correspondence with the supporters of schools whom they had seemed somewhat disposed to worry. In the principality of Wales, with which he was immediately connected, there had been great dissatisfaction with the Committee, and he believed his friends would have been better satisfied with half the money and twice the sympathy. Whether the system wanted mending or not, the Committee might have mended their manners with great advantage.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he should not have risen to reply had it not been for some portions of the speech of the right hon. Member for Calne. As to the powers of the Committee for which he moved—as to what they might do or not do—they had heard more than was necessary. The order of reference was now before the House, and that once settled the Committee would of course be bound by its terms. He wished—before adverting more particularly to the speech of the right hon. Member for Calne—to express his satisfaction at the tone of the Vice President of the Committee of Council, which, if persevered in, might do something to produce a more favourable feeling towards the present system. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, used one expression in reference to himself personally, which he thought somewhat hard. He said he had very carefully avoided the subject of rating; but he was not open to the rebuke, and he had never shirked the question. He had laid his views with respect to it over and over again before the House, and had avowed it to be his belief—even at the risk of painful differences from those with whom he had acted during a long political life—that a system of rating was the best for the country. Whether, however, it was or was not the best system, it did not seem as yet to have found favour with the House of Commons, and being desirous, as he was, to see education extended to all parts of the country, he naturally tried to find some other mode of achieving that 925 object. He must also observe that too much had, in his opinion, been said that evening about acting on the voluntary-system. What he believed the country desired, was a system of education that should pervade all parts of it, and that there should be no favouritism or partiality. But the voluntary system would not enable them to reach the most populous districts. It was a great hardship that there should be 11,000 parishes unable from circumstances to share in the grant. He was not therefore going to maintain that the voluntary system was so desirable that nothing should be done to supplement it, so as to bring the neglected districts under wholesome educational influences. But to turn to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne, he must confess that he had listened to some portions of it with great regret, and particularly so as in one part of his speech he had found the right hon. Gentleman a most powerful ally. The right hon. Gentleman was very angry with him, although he was not conscious of having said anything to provoke attack. The right hon. Gentleman said that one of the main objects of his Motion was to inquire into the constitution of the Education Department, and had dwelt at considerable length and with natural complacency on his own administration of the department. To that he had no objection; but then the right hon. Gentleman had misrepresented him when he said that he had imputed to the Education Department gross extravagance in the administration of the grant. He had done no such thing. His statement was that it was the tendency of a highly centralizing department to be extravagant in administration; nor did he believe that the administration of the grant would ever be satisfactory to the country until the central office was assisted by a local organization. He listened with extreme astonishment to what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite as to the conscience clause. When he spoke of the enforcement of that clause he did not expect to be met by special pleading. What he meant was, that schools had been placed at a disadvantage in regard to building grants, unless they would consent to include the conscience clause in the trust deed. In common parlance that was a fair use of the term "enforcement," and the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman were therefore not justified. He repudiated utterly any desire to revolutionize the system. He never said that he dis- 926 approved of the present constitution of the Privy Council of Education. He did not think it necessary to answer the other allegations made against him by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne, but it appeared to him to be high time to inquire into the subject generally.
§ Question, "That those words be there added," put, and agreed to.
Words added. Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Select Committee appointed "to inquire into the Constitution of the Committee of Council on Education, and the system under which the business of the office is conducted, and also into the best mode of extending the benefits of Government Inspection and the Parliamentary Grant to Schools at present unassisted by the State.
And, on March 14, Committee nominated, as follows:—
Sir JOHN PAKINGTON, Mr. BRUCE, Mr. WALPOLE, Viscount ENFIELD, Lord ROBERT CECIL, Mr. WILLIAM EDWARD FORSTER, Mr. ADDERLEY, Mr. CLAY, Mr. HOWES, Sir COLMAN O'LOGHLEN, Mr. WALTER, Mr. THOMPSON, Mr. STIRLING, Mr. BUXTON, and Mr. LIDDELL:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records:—Five to be the quorum.