HC Deb 07 August 1866 vol 184 cc2149-51


Order for Second Reading read.


said, it was with very considerable regret that he moved that the order for the second reading of this Bill be discharged. Considerable difference of opinion with regard to the Bill had been expressed in the other House, and it would be impossible in the brief remainder of the Session to pass it through that House. It would be recollected that a Commission which had been appointed to consider the question of the condition of Public Schools had made their Report in 1864—and that a Select Committee of the House of Lords had discussed the matter in the course of last year. The present Bill had then been introduced. With the exception of one Amendment proposed in the House of Lords, curtailing the powers given to the Executive Commission for reforming the Governing Bodies of schools, the Bill had been well received by all parties. Had the second reading of the Bill, however, been proceeded with, he should have moved in Committee the omission of the clause to which he had just referred, because he believed the clause would seriously injure the working of the Bill. The Bill dealt with many important matters, such as the foundations and endowments of public schools, the regulation of the studies and the appointment of the head masters, and every other subject of importance connected with the seven public schools which the Bill would have affected—namely, Eton, Winchester, Harrow, Rugby, Charterhouse, Westminster, and Shrewsbury. Some objection was urged against the Bill in the interests of each of these schools, and it would therefore have been unfair to have attempted, in the face of objections entitled to consideration, to hurry the Bill through Parliament at so late a period of the Session. In Eton, for example, there was a question as to interference with the Governing Body; in Harrow and Rugby the foundations feared that their privileges would be interfered with, and would most seriously have opposed the clauses which in their opinion effected that object. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets objected to Westminster and the Charterhouse being included in the Bill; and with respect to Shrewsbury, the question of patronage as regarded St. John's College would have been raised. Under these circumstances he withdrew the Bill, but the subject was one the importance of which could not be exaggerated, and he trusted it would receive the attention of Her Majesty's Government during the recess.


had serious objections to the Bill, the further progress of which he should have opposed, because he believed it would have tended to deprive the middle classes of the few advantages which they were entitled to receive from the public schools of the country, instead of tending, as it ought to have done, to bring the schools more within the reach of those classes. He thought also, however he might shock some nerves by the avowal, that the time had at last come when they should consider whether Greek and Latin were indispensable elements of a useful education. He was of opinion that this subject should be considered in connection with the Report that might be soon expected to make its appearance upon middle class schools, and also in reference to the question of the administration of the Universities, and how far, generally speaking, our present system of education fulfils the purpose of the founders, and what was of greater importance, the wants of the present age.


had not objected to the insertion of Westminster and the Charter-house down in the Bill, his objection had been that no inquiry bad been made as to the connection which existed between those schools and the education of the metropolis. The go-by had been given completely to that subject, and so strongly had he felt the omission that he had communicated with a Member of the late Government, who had consented to the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into this omitted topic in the Commissioners' Report. He objected to the whole system of the metropolitan schools, and he quite agreed with the hon. Member for Oxford that the time had come when they ought to consider whether the whole educational resources of the country were to be wasted in endeavouring to teach boys Greek and Latin—he said endeavouring, for as a matter of fact, we did not succeed in that object, whilst we neglected that technical education which was attended with such surprising results on the Continent. They saw what technical education had done for the Prussian army, and knew that it would be impossible for us to put an army in the field with similar advantages. He hoped that larger views of the question would be taken in the next attempt at legislation.

Order discharged.