§ (Mr. Bruce, Mr. W. E. Forster, Mr. Algernon Egerton.)
§ [BILL 111.] SECOND READING.
§ Order for Second Reading read.
thought it due to the House, on rising to move the second rending of the Bill, to explain why at so late a period of the Session he brought forward a subject likely to lead to protracted discussion. He held, in common, he believed, with the great majority of the people of this country, that there was an urgent necessity for doing something to extend education, and he believed that a discussion of the best manner of effecting that object, although it might not lead to immediate legislation, would be useful for the purpose of bringing out the facts, and eliciting opinion. He felt it less easy to justify himself from the charge of presumption in undertaking a task which had proved too great for men, so far his superiors in ability and authority in that House. When he palled to mind that measures similar to this had been submitted by Lord Russell, Mr. Cobden, Lord Stanley, Sir John Pakington, Mr. Milner Gibson, and Lord Granville, and that they had failed to secure their acceptance by Parliament, he might naturally hesitate to enter upon the same task. Nearly twelve years, however, had elapsed since the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) and the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) brought in their Bill on the subject, which was withdrawn without a division, and eleven years had passed since Lord Russell moved his Resolutions, which were rejected by a considerable majority. Both those proposals were designed to supplement the existing system. In 1858 the present Secretary for War (Sir John Pakington) obtained the appointment of a Commission, well-known as the Duke of Newcastle's Commission, and their Report, presented in 1861, led to 1318 the introduction, of the Revised Code, which, though mainly aiming at the improvement of education and at the prevention of lavish expenditure, also contemplated the extension of education. That Code had been in operation a sufficient length of time to test its operation in both respects. To justify the introduction of the present measure, he was bound to show that the measures hitherto adopted had proved insufficient, and this proof must be based on an estmate of the number of children at school and the number that ought to be there. Accepting the axiom of the Committee of Council that one-sixth of the population ought to be at elementary schools for the labouring classes, and bearing in mind that the average attendance was usually about one-fourth less than the number on the books, there ought (taking the population of England and Wales, to which alone the Bill applied, at 21,000,000) to be 3,500,000 at elementary schools for the labouring classes. A deduction of one-fourth, or say 900,000, would give an average attendance of 2,600,000, Now, the number actually attending schools assisted by the State was 1,200,000, the average attendance in 1866 being 903,561; so that there remained to be accounted for no less than 2,300,000 on the books, and 1,700,000 in average attendance. At the time of the Commission in 1858 there were 2,165,926 children in schools of every description, and the Commissioners found that 1 in 7.7 of the population of England represented the numbers on the books, which would be equivalent to 1 in 10 in average attendance. In Prussia the attendance was 1 in 6.25, and it had been argued by the National Society that our system could not be very defective, since it produced an attendance of 1 in 7¾, as compared with the Prussian compulsory system, which led to an attendance of 1 in 6¼. The true comparison, however, was between 1 in 6¼ in Prussia, and 1 in 10 in England, for, owing less perhaps to compulsion than to the social habits of the people, the average attendance in Prussia was very nearly equivalent to the number on the books. Moreover, the English attendance comprised all sorts of schools, including at the date of the Commission (1858) three divisions which they classified as—
1319 These were the numbers in the books; and while the Commissioners found a majority of the schools in the second division to be indifferent, they represented the third division to be almost wholly bad. Half, therefore, of these English schools were then, and are now, of a far inferior description to the ordinary Prussian schools, which are, on an average, equal to our assisted schools. Thus, not only was the attendance in this country inferior to that of Prussia, but the inferiority in the quality of the schools was still more marked. It was true that since 1858 there had been an increase of 328,730 in the numbers present at inspection in assisted schools, thy figures being 757,082 in 1859 and 1,086,812 in 1866, showing an average annual increase of 47,000, whereas the natural increase of population would have given an increase of only 33,000. It had hence been inferred that the ratio of increase in school children was greater than that in the population; but this was a mistake, for the larger portion of this increase was due to the conversion of unaided into assisted schools. Probably not one-fourth of the increase was an actual increase in the number of school children, for during the last two years, while the number of children in schools brought within inspection, and nearly all within grants, had been 154,313, the building grants had only aided in providing for 35,848. The principal deficiency in school accommodation was popularly supposed to exist in the rural districts, and the Select Committees on Education, which sat in 1865 and 1866, had confined their inquiries to those districts. That deficiency was undoubtedly great. The Report of the Committee of Council for 1863 showed that only 4,000 parishes, including under that term all townships relieving their own poor, received assistance from the Stale, while 11,000 received none; 4,000, however, of the latter had a population of less than 200; and since 1863 probably between 500 and 1,000 parishes had put themselves in a position to receive assistance; but State aid had certainly been slow in reaching the poorer country parishes. He believed, however, that much the greatest deficiency existed in our populous towns, and the Commissioners were of opinion that the bulk of uneducated children were in the towns—
1st. Schools receiving Government Grants 917,255 2nd. Public Schools, unassisted 675,155 3rd. Private Adventure Schools 573,516 Total 2,165,926Sir J. K. Shuttleworth confines his proposal to email agricultural populations and in such parishes it may perhaps sometimes be usefully adopted. 1320 But the children in such parishes form a small portion of the whole body of uneducated children. The bulk of those children are to be found in towns, and in towns the requirements of the Committee of Council cannot safely he diminished. The schools must be large and well ventilated; for the children are numerous, and their lower state of health unfits them to endure a bad atmosphere, Sites are procured with difficulty and at enormous expense. The children are perhaps intellectually superior to the children in the poor agricultural districts, but morally inferior to them; the home influences are generally worse, and the companions with whom they come in contact in the street and in the alley are still worse. It is an axiom, says Mr. Cumin, that a child left in the streets is ruined. Such children require the best school buildings and the best teachers that can be obtained. They cannot be aided therefore by diminishing the expense of education."—[Report of Commission, p. 287.]Education was very unequally distributed in different parts of the rural districts, the voluntary system flourishing or languishing under apparently similar conditions. In Somersetshire not one parish in five received aid, whereas in the diocese of Bangor, 103 out of 110 Church schools, and in Kent 66 per cent of the Church schools, educating 75 per cent of the labouring population, were assisted by the State. In the counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland about two-thirds of the schools were so assisted. In the diocese of Oxford half the schools were receiving assistance from the State; and no distinction can be discovered between the local circumstances of those parishes which did not receive assistance and of those which did. As a general rule, it might be said that the fact did not depend upon local wealth, but upon the greater or less liberality and activity of the gentry. In parishes having a liberal landlord and an active clergyman there was no great difficulty in complying with the conditions of the Committee of Privy Council. In large towns, and more especially in the surburbs of large towns, the requisite elements of such a system were permanently wanting, because vast masses were congregated together without their natural leaders and the necessary admixture of classes. The returns from the large towns would establish this assertion beyond all doubt. He would first take the metropolis. The Bishop of London, in consequence of representations made to him, determined upon ascertaining the real extent of educational destitution in his diocese, and issued a circular to all the incumbents of the parishes and districts in his diocese, asking for returns on the state of education. These returns included as 1321 nearly as could be ascertained the number of children, not only in the Church schools but also in schools not connected with the Church. The total population of the diocese of London (exclusive, of course, of Winchester) was 2,176,240. If his position were correct, that one-sixth of the population ought to be on the books of the schools, there should be 362,000. The returns gave the number at school,—129,332 in Church schools, and 52,693 in non-Church schools. To these might be added 9,122 attending night schools, making a total of 191,147. The accommodation in schools of all kinds was 203,545. It would therefore appear that there were about 170,000 children not at school, but who ought to be there. But as objections might be taken to averages, which, it might be argued, were hypothetical, and would vary with the varying constitution of the population, he would ask their attention to some positive statements of fact, which could not be doubted or controverted. The returns were made by 162 clergymen of the diocese of London. Of these, 17 stated that there was no school in their parish or district; 108 that they were urgently in need of more schools. Of 1,085 Church schools in the diocese, 595 were aided and 490 were unaided. In the poorer districts of Spitalfields, Stepney, &c.—of a population of 424,590, one-sixth or 70,765, ought to be at school. But the total attendance was only 40,423, and there was only accommodation altogether for 44,487. Of 148 Church schools in these hitter districts, only 58 received grants from the State, and 90 were unaided. The following were specimens from the returns of the London parishes in which there were no schools:—St Paul's, Old Brentford.—National schools wanted; none exist. St. Andrew's, Islington.—No national schools; population 15,000; infant day school in debt £50; difficulty in obtaining site for new schools. St. Matthew's.—Population, 7,000; no boys' school; girls' and infant schools for 200; 50 boys obliged to be dismissed to turn a mixed school into a girls' school; new national schools in contemplation; half the funds raised. St. Barnabas.—Population, 7,000; no schools; no advantageous site can now be obtained. St. Philip's, Dalston.—Population, 10,250; no boys' school; infants' and mixed school lately enlarged. Hackney Wick District.—Population between 5,000 and 6,000, and is rapidly increasing; the only school room is a temporary building, which serves the purpose of a day school (for 150 mixed, but chiefly infants), Sunday School and temporary church. St. Paul's, Tottenham. — Population, 2,765; no school buildings; an infant school is held in a hired room; a boys' school and infant 1322 school contemplated. St. Paul's, Stratford,—Population, 7,000, almost exclusively of the working class; no schools; if we had school rooms we should have good schools, but we have no room and no means of procuring one. St. Saviour's, St. Pancras.—Population, 7,000; no schools; immense difficulty in obtaining site, St. Paul's, Buckingham-gate. — Proprietary chapel newly converted into a district church; national schools needed; population, 4,000; many hundred children around go to no school whatever. St. Augustine's, llaggerston.—Population, 8,000; new district church in progress; no schools except for 280 infants; the erection of boys' and girls' schools is desired.He would not weary the House with any more cases, but he held in his hand a list of at least 20 more quite as strong as these. He would, however, cite two cases from the Children's Employment Commission to illustrate the state of education among the young people of the metropolis. Mr. Lord, in his Report on wholesale stationers, said that in an establishment in Bishopsgate, where 38 boys were at work, half were unable to read. At another, in Upper Thames Street, where 40 girls, from 12 to 16 years of age, were working, quite one-half were unable to read. The Report on bootmakers was to the same effect—The boys who assist riveters in London, whether they work in factories or not, are very ignorant and uneducated. The majority cannot read. Even among those who might be supposed to be of a rather higher class, from the fact of their seeking work in the warehouse in preference to the riveting shop, it is difficult to find any who can read and write when they are wanted. The ignorance which prevails in the Hackney Road and Bethnal Green districts among the lads who work for the journeymen, whether in sewn or rivet work or finishing, is spoken of as characteristic rather of the locality than the trade.The unequal distribution of education, so characteristic of our present system, is clearly displayed by the Report of the Registrar General in 1866, showing the number per cent of those who were unable to sign their names in the marriage register. In St. George's, Hanover Square, the number per 100 was three men and three women; in St. George's-in-the East, the general average of men and women was 27½ per cent, and in Bethnal Green it was 34½ per cent. It was to be remembered that to sign their names was an accomplishment possessed by many who could write nothing else, and that a percentage like that of St. George's-in-the-East and Bethnal Green represents at least one-half of the labouring classes. This state of things was not the fault of the London clergy; for he knew no body of 1323 men who were more entirely devoted to their duties. He would now turn to Manchester. Much valuable information had been elicited by the labours of the Manchester and Salford Education Aid Society. The population of Manchester and Salford in 1866 was 493,390. Taking the usual estimate of one-sixth of the population, there ought to be 82,295 on the school books, but there were only 55,000 children on the books of schools of every denomination, and 38,000 in average attendance. Deducting 7,000 of the easier classes, there remained 48,000, which left a total of 34,000 children of the labouring classes who were not at school. One of the subjects of inquiry by the Manchester and Salford Education Aid Society was directed to the incomes of the families. There were 33,000 children found belonging to families whose income, exclusive of rent, in no case exceeded 3s. per head per week, the average being 2s. 0½d. In the year 1865 they canvassed districts containing 7,650 families, having 23,988 children. Of these children, 11,086 were between 3 and 12 years of age, of whom 762 were at work, 4,537 at school, and 5,787 neither at work nor at school. In other words, for every 52 children at work or at school, 58 were neither at work nor at school. Only 1 in 14 absentees was at work, a proportion very different from that estimated by Mr. Fraser, who supposed that two-thirds of the absentees were at work and one-third idle. But it might be said, "Those statistics prove nothing. The school age extends over nine years; all these children may, therefore, either have attended or may hereafter attend school for some portion of that time." But external evidence fully confirmed the accuracy of the statement and its unfavourable character. The Royal Commission presided over by the Duke of Newcastle found that while in England and Wales generally 1 in 7.7 of the population was on the books of schools, in Lancashire there was only 1 in 13.3, and a large number of those who could read and write did so very imperfectly. An examination made last year in Manchester showed that out of 1,660 young persons, indifferently selected, between 12 and 20 years of age, as many as 759 could not read. The Report of the Registrar General returned 20 men and 47 women, being an average of 33½ per cent, who signed the marriage register by marks. The inference is, that about half of the labouring population are unable to 1324 write even their names. In Manchester and Salford all parties of all denominations, with very few exceptions, concurred in asking for power to raise an educational rate, The want of schools was not so great an evil as their unequal distribution throughout those great cities. But funds were needed for providing better schools, and especially for supplying free schools in the poorer districts. He would now turn to Birmingham, where a minute inquiry had been made by a most competent person, Dr. Gover, principal of the Worcester, Lichfield, and Hereford Training College. He affirmed that—Between the ages of five and ten there were only 18,518 scholars, being only 46 per cent of the population between these ages. Between the ages of 10 and 15, out of 34,495, there were 9,926 scholars—that is, 28.78 per cent, or less than 1 in 3.Dr. Gover added—Yet can we rest content, as Members of a great State, as citizens of a great municipality, with the fact staring us in the face that less than half our population of school age are being fitted by education for their future duties?Dr. Gover, speaking of the unequal distribution of schools, gave reasons for its existence in Birmingham applicable to all the populous districts of the country:—At some parts of the borough, schools lie so thickly together that one can thrive only at the expense of some of its neighbours; at other parts, they overflow with scholars, for their utmost accommodation is too little for districts in which year by year dwellings are being erected by hundreds. In central districts, where dwell the most necessitous, and where the residents above the manual labour class are becoming fewer, from want of extraneous help, a small school feebly lingers on in buildings designed for larger numbers; or because the fees must be low in these quarters, reduction of expense is purchased by reduction in the staff and efficiency of the teachers. In outlying districts a class, better off by their readiness to pay higher fees, outbids the poorer for the limited space, so that the latter are left untaught.Dr. Gover also referred to the difficulties attending the voluntary system in large towns, in language which was worthy the attention of the House—Neither, in considering whether we can trust to the power of this system in the borough, for the future must it be overlooked that, on the one hand, the cost of sites and of erection has become greater yearly; while, on the other, all those who possess a moderate competency, or even secure a tolerable income, fly from the town itself to dwell in the purer air of suburbs, or of villages of villas by railway sides. The separation of classes, however unavoidable, keeping pace with advance of wealth, with ideas of health or comfort, becomes a deadlier evil every day. The opulent fashion their own communities outside; the 1325 labouring or the necessitous classes are left to form societies solely by themselves within the town. It is almost in vain that ministers of religion seek to enlist, systematically at least, the sympathies of the richer, who live apart, for plans of social good within their densely crowded courts; vainer far for them to ask the means of providing instruction for every child from the population which throngs around them, living from hand to mouth.He would now ask to be allowed to rend one out of many proofs of widespread ignorance in Birmingham which would be found in the Third Report of the Children's Employment Commission. Mr. White examined 80 young persons of from 7 to 16 years of age at one large factory, and found that 72.5 per cent admitted that they could not road. Referring to the Report of the Registrar General it would be found that 30½ per cent of the entire population of Birmingham were unable to write their names in the marriage register. Yet no town in the kingdom had exerted itself more vigorously in the cause of education than Birmingham. The failure arose not from want of zeal; but because the system was ill adapted to such places, and broke down in providing for large masses of children in populous districts. He would next take Bristol. In the Report of the Factory Inspectors, 1866, it would be seen that Mr. Stansfeld, certifying surgeon of Bristol, found that out of 890 children and young persons examined 425 were totally ignorant. He would now go to North Staffordshire. Dr. Arlidge, of Newcastle-under-Lyne, certifying physician under the Factory Acts, examined 1,000 children and young persons (between the ages of 8 and 18) in 1866, of whom 26 per cent were under 12 years of age. He found that 15 per cent could read common words pretty well, and could write from dictation, and 18 per cent knew their letters and could spell words of one syllable, but could not write; 24 per cent could by spelling make out simple names, and could manage to write their names; 42 per cent did not even know their letters; and only 24 per cent had some knowledge of arithmetic. The evidence of Dr. Arlidge would be found in the Report of Factory Inspectors, 1866. The Inspector of Factories in the same district, and in the same year, made a similar Report. He said—Between the 1st of September and the 31st of December, 1866, 7,948 children and young persons under 18 years of age were educationally tested, vivâ voce, by the certifying surgeons to 19 principal cotton works in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Cheshire, and 2,173 children and young per- 1326 sons were also equally tested in the earthenware colliery, and iron districts of North Staffordshire. Of the former 63 per cent could read, of the latter only 26 per cent.He had been charged lately by Mr. Fraser with exaggeration in stating that 50 per cent of the working population were uneducated. Yet here were figures which went far beyond his statement, and led to the inference that it was very much below the truth. Mr. Longe, in the third Report of the Children's Employment Commission, said—The efforts that have been made to promote elementary education among the populations engaged in the staple trades and manufactures of Staffordshire and the adjoining districts are well known through Mr. Norris's Reports. Nevertheless, in his Report of 1861, he is only able to say that one-third of the children in the 'annual grant' schools of his district are able to 'read fairly well what they are accustomed to read, and that about 1 in 12 can read whatever is put before them.'In South Staffordshire it appeared from Mr. Longe's Report that—Large numbers were found to go to work at many of the occupations of the district under ten years of age, and of those found at work and examined by Mr. Longe, although it included those up to the age of 14, he says that not much more than one-half were able to read.Many boys told him they had been good scholars, but they had quite forgotten all they had learnt; and Mr. Longe's conclusion upon this subject is—That many of the boys now at work have never been to school at all, while a large portion of those who have been to school previously to beginning work lose after a few months almost all the knowledge they have acquired, owing to the absence of any sufficient provision for continuing their education.With reference to this last statement, he would remark that one great object to be aimed at was to improve the quality of the schools by increasing their funds, so that the utmost might be done to secure such an amount of progress as would prevent this early loss of the knowledge acquired at school. In the borough be represented (Merthyr Tydvil) a close examination had been made during the spring of this year before commencing a subscription for a new school. The borough had a population of 57,000, and they divided it into two portions. One of these portions, Dowlais, contained a population of 15,000 persons grouped round some iron works, the proprietors of which, having a strong sense of duty, had established admirable schools. No compulsion was exercised, and the rate of wages was so high 1327 that many of the children were tempted to leave school and go to work at a very early age. Yet Dowlais had schools with 2,600 children on the books, or 1 in 6 of the entire population. The remaining 42,000 had 3,382 children, or one in 12½, on the books instead of 7,000, the number proportionate to that of Dowlais. In his own district, at Mountain Ash (Aberdare), out of a population of 7,000 there were at school 1,023 children; yet the rate of wages was so great that many were at work who ought to be at school. He thought he had sufficiently established his case of the unequal distribution of schools, and he now came to consider the remedy. Among those who had held the office of President or Vice President of the Committee of Education before he had the honour of filling that office there had been no difference of opinion on this subject. Earl Russell, Earl Granville, the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), and the right hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley), had all expressed their conviction that the present system was inadequate, and that it ought to be supplemented by local action in the form of local rates, The Bills introduced into Parliament by the late Mr. W. J. Fox and the right hon. Member for Ashton differed from the measures proposed by Lord Russell, Earl Granville, and Sir John Pakington, in abolishing the Privy Council system and substituting for it local action, yet all pointed in the same direction, to a general system of rating. What was the opinion of the Royal Commission of 1858? They said that the present, system never would become a national system of education, and that the only plan was to localize some portion of the expense—The only way, therefore, in which we think this difficulty can be entirely met is by localizing some portion of the expenditure; and we are prepared to suggest a plan by which, at a very small outlay, parishes now unaided would obtain adequate assistance. Such a plan would obviate the inexpediency of throwing so large a sum on the central revenue. The benefits of education are, to a certain degree, local benefits. There can be no doubt whatever that education diminishes pauperism, and that it tends to improve a population in every point of material well-being. These are advantages which directly touch the proprietors of the neighbourhood, and towards the extension of which they should be willing to contribute. If upon the whole this duty is neglected—and our evidence proves that it is fulfilled very unequally—it is the business of the State to provide that one place shall not, by neglecting to bear its own burdens, increase those of others. Nor is this all. If education is to be paid for 1328 locally, those who pay for it should have a due share in the control of it. At present our evidence goes to prove that it would diffuse both a greater interest and a healthier tone in education, if other persons besides the clergy took an active part in it."—[Report of Commission of 1858, p. 326.]The latest inquiry on this subject was by the Committees of the House in 1865–6, and, although they made no Report, yet the House had the benefit of a draft Report by the Chairman. What was the conclusion to which the Secretary of State for War (Sir John Pakington) came? He said on this question of education rates—In close connection with this question of local agency is the difficult further question, how far it is desirable to aid the promotion of education by local rates? Several of the most important witnesses have accompanied their approval of local agency with a recommendation of a system, more or less modified, of rating. Mr. Lingen thinks there should be the power, though he does not think it would be necessary 'in every case, to levy a rate;' Mr. Lowe approves rates, though he doubts whether we can now adopt them; Earl Granville and Lord Russell both contemplate rating as part of an extended system. Mr. Kennedy, the Inspector, Canon Robinson, and Mr. Bellairs, the Inspector, all concur in these views, and are of opinion that some power to levy a rate should at least be made auxiliary to the extension of popular education. Your Committee cannot refuse their assent to the reasons advanced by these able witnesses, and while they feel on this point, as in recommending local agency, that it is not their province to submit a detailed plan, they are of opinion that an education rate ought to form part of any scheme for extended assistance.This was a gratifying proof that the right hon. Gentleman retained in 1866 the opinions he had embodied in his Bill of 1856. Could there be any persons who still maintained that the present Privy Council system could be made effectual for the purpose of supplying the want of education? Much of the hostility expressed by many persons and especially by clergymen against the present system arose from the erroneous assumption that it was a national system, instead of being a system for drawing out voluntary action and aid. Mr. Lingen had compendiously expressed the inherent defect of the present system when he said that a system of education could not be at the same time voluntary, efficient, and universal. It it were universal and efficient it could not be voluntary. If, on the other hand, it were voluntary, it could not be efficient and universal. If they examined its practical working, they would find that one place was getting too much, that another was getting too little, and that a third, which needed it most, was getting nothing at all. It had been argued 1329 that the amount of assistance given might vary with the wants of the districts; but who was to settle what these were? There might, perhaps, be little difficulty in doing that in the country districts, where the valuation list of a parish might be vouched to prove the plea of poverty; but such districts as those which lay around Manchester, Birmingham, and London were rich districts, and it was not owing to want of wealth that sufficient funds were not raised there. Then, again, it could hardly be said that the prevalence of local apathy was a good reason for giving increased assistance from the State. The necessary and absurd consequence of such a concession would be that in districts where poverty on the part of the landlords could not be pleaded the Government was to step in and supply the place of private zeal and liberality. The arguments of the Commissioners on this important point are conclusive—Another proposal, somewhat of the same kind, but still more objectionable, is that the assistance of the Government be proportioned to the want; that in the apathetic districts—for we have shown that the apathy, not the poverty, of the landowners is the obstacle to subscriptions—the Government should step in to supply the absence of private zeal or of private liberality. This is to ask that the whole system of the Committee of Council be not merely changed, but reversed; that the grant be proportioned not to the amount, but to the deficiency of local effort; that the carelessness or illiberally of the proprietors be encouraged, by the support of their schools being therefore assumed in a larger degree than usual by the State,"—[Report of Commission, p. 289.]And again—Nothing pays better than an acre covered with cottages, or an alley in which each room contains a family. But though there is always a rental amply sufficient to defray, at a trifling expense on the part of its owner, the small annual sum necessary to meet the demands of the Committee of Council, these owners may be careless, illiberal, or indifferent. The districts in the hands of such owners are called the apathetic districts,"—[Report of Commission, p. 279.]It being, then, conceded by the most competent authorities that the present system could not be extended so as to meet the wants of the country, different plans had been suggested with that, object. Having alluded to the various Bills and measures which had been brought before that House, he would briefly refer to the recommendations made by the Commissioners of 1861. The Commissioners not only expressed the opinion that local agency was necessary, but recommended the formation of county boards, with power to provide funds out of the county or out of the borough rate for educational 1330 purposes, with a joint contribution from the State. Their plan, however, made no provision for establishing new schools—a matter which they left entirely to voluntary agency. They proposed a limitation of the joint grants, central and local, so that they should never exceed the fees and subscriptions, or 15s. per child on the average attendance; limitations indispensable in a scheme of central administration, but interfering unnecessarily and mischievously with the requisite elasticity of local action, Such limitations would, in fact, have left the country schools exposed to all the difficulties under which they are now suffering; while they would have deprived the great towns of the power of providing for the wants of the poorest classes by means of free schools. With all deference to those distinguished Commissioners, to whom a large debt of gratitude was owing, he was not surprised that when their plan came to be fully considered by the late Government, and especially by Earl Granville and the right hon. Member for Calne, it was rejected. Another scheme had lately been put forward by Mr. Fraser, who was in favour of an educational rate, and proposed that the union should be the area, twelve of the guardians to form a board, to whom should be committed the duty of paying out of the union rate a certain annual sum towards each registered school, the State also making a contribution. The relations of the local board to the schools would be financial only, and the inspection was to be conducted, not by local, but entirely by central Inspectors. Mr. Fraser contemplated a sort of modified conscience clause; but, instead of giving the parent the power to decide with regard to the religigions instruction of the child, he transferred that power to the board. It did not clearly appear what was to be the religious character of the new schools, but it would seem they were to be constituted in accordance with one or other of the existing models. Church schools with conscience clauses might be suitable for the rural parishes which Mr. Fraser had under his consideration; but in places where there was a large proportion of Dissenters, or in Wales, where the majority were Dissenters, it would be impossible, if they were to have a national system, that the Dissenting bodies could be excluded from a share in the management of the schools. Mr. Fraser's plan was altogether inapplicable to large towns, which, wherever municipal 1331 institutions existed, would object to the management of the educational rate by the guardians. He now came to the scheme which he himself submitted to the House. In the first place, the Bill was a permissive one; and its object was to enable any borough or district to levy a rate for the purpose of maintaining existing schools, or where necessary, of erecting and maintaining new schools. A school committee intrusted with the management of the funds would be chosen in corporate towns from the Town Council, and in other districts from the body of ratepayers; and any school entitled to receive a grant from the Committee of Privy Council might place itself in union with the school committee, and entitle itself on certain conditions to payments on a scale to be fixed by the Bill. The school committee would not be allowed to interfere with the constitution, arrangements, discipline, or instruction, religious or secular, of any united school. The terms of union were first, that the number and qualifications of the teachers should be the same as those prescribed by the Government Code, or by the local regulations of the school committee: the schools should be open to the inspection of the Government and local Inspectors; the discipline and instruction should be in all respects conformable to the rules and conditions for the time being of the Committee of Council, provided always that no child should be required, to learn any religious doctrine, catechism, or formulary which had been objected to by some writing signed by the parent of such child, nor to attend or abstain from attending any Sunday school or place of worship, nor should be refused admission into the school on account of any such objection, or of any such attendance or non-attendance. It was provided that the managers of any united school might on three months' notice withdraw from union. It would be the duty of the school committee to inquire from time to time into the amount of school accommodation in their district, and upon the failure of the inhabitants to provide such accommodation, the committee might, after due delay, proceed to supply the deficiency. These new schools might be either denominational or undenominational, as the committee should judge best, according to the circumstances of the district. Their management would be by the school committee, who, however, might, if they thought proper, delegate it to special managers. All such 1332 new schools should, as under the system administered by the Committee of Council, be either in connection with some religious denomination, or should provide instruction in the Scriptures. The schools might be either free, the scholars being exempt from all payment, or aided where the scholars paid fees. The limitation of the amount of aid to an amount equal to that of the weekly fee having been objected to as interfering with the power of the school committee to adapt their aid to the varying wants of the schools, the promoters of the Bill would readily consent to give the fullest discretion to the committee, and Amendments to that effect would be proposed to Clauses 38 and 44. Any parish might appeal to Her Majesty in Council against being included in a district, and a power might usefully be added enabling parishes, or even a single parish, forming part of a union, to constitute a district for the purposes of the Bill. It might be noticed that the Bill omitted to deal with night schools, and he admitted that a great deal might be said in favour of extending aid to those schools. The measure had been framed with a view to avoid giving offence, even to feelings which its promoters might regard as unreasonable, and also with the wish that wherever the voluntary system was effectual, or was likely within reasonable time to become effectual, it should not be disturbed, and that the powers given by the Bill should be put in action only where they were greatly and urgently needed. The advantages of the measure were, then—that it was permissive, that it did not interfere with the constitution or management of existing schools, or with the voluntary system where it had proved sufficient, that it adhered to the Revised Code as to religious teaching, and that it allowed the rate to be applied to the erection and maintenance of new schools, denominational or otherwise. Speaking for himself and abstractedly, he should wish to see public education to be conducted, as far as possible, in denominational schools; because he held it to be as important that a child should receive a full religious education, as that it should receive a full secular one. But they had to adapt their system to the wants of a population unhappily divided in religious opinions; and, therefore, without destroying the denominational system, or unduly disfavouring it, they had to provide the means by which children of different religious opinions should be educated toge- 1333 ther without any violation of those opinions. Such, then, was an outline of the Bill. It might be objected to it that it would be found inefficacious. Now, he admitted that for a complete national system much more was required; that, instead of the measure being only permissive, every district ought to be obliged to provide full school accommodation, just as it had to provide for its highways or its poor; and, again, that even such provision of schools could not suffice, unless measures were adopted for enforcing the attendance of children at school. It might be asked why he did not give effect to those principles. His answer was because he wished to carry that Bill and to make an experiment. There would be nothing to prevent the Legislature from afterwards changing the measure from a permissive into a compulsory one. He had no abstract objection to compulsory attendance at school, but he thought it would be premature and injurious to the cause of education itself, if they were now to attempt to enforce that principle in this country. When they had provided schools all over the country, and by the Factory Act and other means had improved the education of the working classes, and awakened among them a greater desire for it, then they might, if they thought fit, apply a compulsory system of attendance against a residuum of 10 or 12 per cent of children who might be absent fromschool; but to apply it now against so large a proportion as 50 per cent appeared to him to be Quixotic and impracticable. Another objection to the Bill widely urged was, that an educational rate was unpopular, unworkable, and would either not be tried at all, or, if tried, would make education hateful. The other day the noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu), speaking with reference to the Report of the Commissioners on Scotch Education, strongly denounced the principle of an educational rate. He was reported in The Times to have said—The system of supporting schools by compulsory taxation would render education hateful to the people. The plan had been tried in Germany, and had signally failed, the attitude of large parts of the population towards the schools being one of apathy and indifference.He found, on examination, that the words used by the noble Lord were contained in Mr. Pattison's Report on Elementary Education in Germany. Now, as to torpor in Germany, Mr. Pattison certainly said that— 1334The attitude of a large portion of the population towards the school is one of apathy and indifference.But to what cause did he attribute this feeling? To the extreme centralization and absence of local government. It was to the fact that—The whole school management is conducted by official persons, responsible only to superiors, and, as Government employés, withdrawn from the influence of the public opinion of the locality.Speaking of Würtemberg, he said—It is not so much a general belief in the utility of elementary education which is wanting as an interest, on the part of the inhabitants of each locality in their own school. The school is too merely a teaching machine, too little in contact with the real feeling of the country. They wish the commune to participate more in the management of its own school.So little was the feeling of the people one of indifference that Mr. Pattison, in the page preceding that quoted by the noble Lord, said—The schooling is compulsory only in name; the school has taken so deep a root in the social habit of the German people that were the law repealed to-morrow, no one doubts that the schools would continue as full as they now are.In Prussia, Mr. Pattison stated—That the disposition of the communes to take an active interest in their schools is decidedly on the increase.Mr. Pattison said—While in Dresden the anxiety of the parents is not to evade the obligation of sending their children to school, but to get them in at the earliest admissible age; and, so tar from regarding the half-day school as a boon, they are disposed to complain that they are robbed of half their schooling by it.Again—In Chemnitz, the centre of the cotton manufacture, the Inspector assured me that he could take upon himself to say that there were no children within the school age who were not attending school in some form or other.Mr. Pattison reported that, with few exceptions, all the German population attended school with varying degrees of regularity. He gave the total number of school age as 2,943,251; at school, 2,828,692, leaving 114,559. From that remainder must be deducted those receiving instruction at home, the sickly, deficient, &c., leaving a few migratory children to be accounted for. The estimates made of those who cannot read and write was from 2 to 4 per cent of the entire population. Henri von Sybel, the historian, had recently asserted that out of 600,000 soldiers less than 20,000, or about 3 per cent, 1335 were unable to read and write. But while, according to the noble Lord, the attitude of the German people towards education was that of apathy and indifference, that of the United States, as might be expected from their more impulsive and energetic character, was one of active hostility, of wrangling, bitterness and animosity. Mr. Fraser—a man of remarkable ability and the utmost honesty—had reported on the schools in the United States; but one could not help observing that, while commenting on the stirring and growing population of the United States, his mind turned too often to the pleasant slopes of Berkshire; and that spirit was even found in the letters which he had addressed to The Times since his return to this country, because anyone who read them would see that his recommendations were specially and primarily adapted to a rural population. However, in his general summary of the state of education in America, Mr. Fraser said—The spirit of the work produced under this system, both in teachers and pupils and the discipline of the schools, are both high.He went on to say—I cannot disguise from myself that the average American, and particularly the average American of the mechanic or labouring class, stands on a vantage ground in respect both of knowledge and intelligence, as compared with the average Englishman; and I feel forcibly that we denominationalists and voluntaryists must throw ourselves much more heartily into the work, and make our schools much more thoroughly efficient than we have yet done.Then, did a rating system paralyze voluntary effort in the United States? On that point Mr. Fraser said—What we can borrow from America, remembering the difference of our social circumstances, and the different principles that animate both our ecclesiastical and civil polity, I can hardly say. The thing, however, which I should like to borrow without revolutionizing our institutions is the noble public spirit, almost universally prevalent, which considers that to contribute to the general education of the people is the first duty, as of the commonwealth at large, so of every citizen in particular; and which places religion, morality, and intelligence in the forefront of the elements that constitute the strength and guarantee the prosperity of a nation.But Mr. Fraser did not scruple to condemn where he thought condemnation was deserved. He pointed out four distinct defects in the American system — namely, First, the management of the schools by townships instead of by districts of larger area; secondly, the insufficient training of the teachers; thirdly, the want of inde- 1336 pendent inspection; and fourthly, the want of individual examinations. The present Bill, however, it would be observed, met every one of those objections. But it was said that the Bill would fail on account of the general dislike and opposition to an educational rate. If so, no harm at least would be done, and the voluntary system would be untouched. But what grounds have we for entertaining such an opinion? Let us look to Upper Canada, a colony almost exclusively British, and animated by the same feelings and repugnances as ourselves. There the adoption of the rate, whether by the county or municipality, or by the district, is strictly permissive; yet it has been so generally adopted, that only a very few places adhere to the voluntary system, and in these the inferiority of the schools is marked. The subject is of so much interest and importance, as exhibiting the working of a voluntary rate in a cognate country that he would Ventura to trespass on the patience of the House by reading to them extracts from the Report of Dr. Ryerson, the well known and able Inspector of schools in Upper Canada—The law does not prescribe any particular kind of school in cities and towns, nor any particular mode of supporting them. The electors in each of the municipalities, through their elective boards of trustees, are empowered without any restriction 'to determine the number, kind and description of schools which shall be established or maintained in such city or town.' The board of trustees may establish and maintain Church of England, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Wesleyan, Baptist, or Congregational schools, and appoint a Committee of three from each Church to the immediate care of the school designed for its members. …. Moreover, I may state still further, that the law does not compel any municipality to adopt or maintain the school system at all. Any or every city, town, or incorporated village and township in Upper Canada, may relinquish the public school system, and leave education to the voluntary system.After quoting some instances in which the voluntary system prevailed to the manifest injury of education, Dr. Ryerson proceeds—But if other municipalities have pursued a different course, and erected good school houses, and properly furnished them, and employed good teachers and established good schools, it is because they have chosen, and not because the law has compelled them to do so. …. If the people in their several municipalities have actually increased their self-imposed school taxes, during the last few years, at the rate of nearly 100,000 dollars a year for the payment of teachers alone, and increased their self-imposed taxes for the erection of school houses, the purchase of school apparatus, and libraries in corresponding 1337 ratios, so as to exceed in the amount of their self-imposed rates in proportion to population, the old and great State of New York, where the school tax is imposed by the State Legislature, and collected by the State tax-gatherer; what does he fact prove but the amazing capabilities of our municipal system, and the hold which it has upon the minds and hearts of the people. The school, like the municipal system, has become a part and parcel of the local self-government rights of the people, and he must be a bold man who will attempt the invasion of them.Now what have been the practical results of this system? The estimated population of Upper Canada in 1863 was 1,500,000. The number of children between five and sixteen was 412,367; the number enrolled on the school books was 339,817. To these must be added 20,991 of other ages, making a total on the books of 360,808, and leaving 44,971 of the children unaccounted for. We ought to read with shame and humiliation the passage in which the Report states, "the painful and humiliating fact of 44,971 children not attending any school." True, the average attendance in Canada was only 38 per cent, while in England it was 76 per cent; but in England the great majority of school-children were below twelve years of age, whereas in Canada they ranged between five and sixteen; and, moreover in a country so sparsely peopled as Canada, and where the demand for labour was so great, it was not surprising that the attendance at school should be far less regular than in England. But let us take for the purposes of examination and comparison one Canadian town. Hamilton had in 1861 a population of 19,096. The number of children on the school register was considerably upwards of one-sixth, being 3,549—The common schools (says Dr. Ryerson) are the pride and boast of the city of Hamilton. Hamilton has erected a large central school for the higher classes and larger pupils, and primary school houses in each ward for the smaller children who are drafted and promoted to the central school as they advance in their studies. Hamilton has also adopted the normal and model school system, by employing a head-master and teachers, all of whom have been trained in the model school. Hamilton therefore furnishes an illustration of the provincial system in its perfection.If such are the fruits of the voluntary rate in Canada, why should we accept the dismal and humiliating prophecies of its failure in England? What reason is there in our institutions or our national character why every town of 20,000 inhabitants should not take a pride in possessing educational establishments equal to those of Hamilton? He now came to the 1338 religious objection to the Bill. It was impossible with our mixed religious denominations among the working classes in Birmingham, Manchester, Staffordshire, and other populous places to adhere to the denominational system. In Wales, where probably nine out of ten of the working classes belonged to Nonconformist denominations, the British schools, which were undenominational, widely prevailed. Would anybody venture to say that the Welsh people were irreligious? The fact was that no portion of Her Majesty's subjects were more regular in the performance of all their religious duties, and yet Wales was a country of undenominational schools. Taking Prussia as an illustration of the way in which the system worked, he found that it was laid down by the general code of 1850 in that country, which was really a repetition of the rules framed by Frederick the Great, that—No one may be denied admission to any public school on account of difference of religious opinion. …. Children who are to be educated (in accordance with the laws of the State) in a different confession from that taught in the public school cannot be compelled to attend religious instruction given in the same.Education in Prussia was, no doubt, generally denominational, with a conscience clause in those cases in which the population of a district happened to be wholly Protestant or wholly Roman Catholic; but mixed schools existed there also to a great extent. Admitting that there was a good deal of scepticism in Prussia among the upper classes, he thought the feelings of the lower classes showed a strong religious tendency, as was evidenced by the conduct of the Prussian soldier. Indeed, nothing had struck him more forcibly, in reading the various accounts of the late war between Prussia and Austria, than the statements showing the deep religious convictions with which the Prussian soldiers were imbued. It was said, with respect to one division, that nine-tenths of the soldiers attended at Communion; and it was observed that, since the days of the old Ironsides of Cromwell, no men were probably more, deeply impressed with the religious sentiment. Yet these soldiers were instructed in schools, such as he sought by his Bill to promote. He wished to God that he could believe that the English people were, on the average, as religious and as moral as the population of Prussia. Mr. Fraser, who was a great supporter of the denominational system, dwells forcibly 1339 on the absence or incompleteness of religious teaching in America.; but what was the general result produced, as described by himself?—I am afraid that we in England, in our zeal for 'denominational education,' lay too much stress upon the adjective, too little upon the substantive. We seem to care more for the connection of our schools with particular religious communities than for the fruit they really produce. We are too often content to hear that religious instruction is given, and do not pursue the inquiry far enough to ascertain whether it is given intelligently, by competent teachers. I confess to the conviction growing more and more in my own mind, strengthened, too, by what I have heard and seen in America, that what we need more of in England is intelligent education—a real quickening of the minds of the people. And I say this quite as much in the interests of religion as at the prospect of political, changes.Mr. Fraser repeatedly preached to American congregations, and he took the attention with which he was received very naturally as an indication of the strength and intelligence of the religious feeling of those whom he addressed. On that point he wrote as follows:—During my sojourn in America I was invited half-a-dozen times to preach in the churches. A preacher can tell pretty well when he is holding the attention of his hearers. And it must be a satisfaction to a preacher in America to feel that he can hold his congregation when he has anything worth the listening to. Nowhere is the pulpit—in spite of occasional extravagances—when in able hands a more signal instrument of power, exercising its highest prerogative in convincing the reason, and by manifestation of the truth commending itself to every man's conscience in the sight of God.What stronger evidence, he should like to know, than that could be given of the advancing intelligence of the American people, and of the fact that they were, at the same time, imbued with religious feeling? But, perhaps, the strongest case of all, in support of the views for which he was contending, was to be found nearer home. The national system of education in Ireland was, at its foundation, a system of united secular and separate religious education. This had been gradually and partially superseded by a system which might be fairly called denominational, plus a conscience clause. There was also a large number of mixed schools; so that, with respect to religious teaching, the system was almost precisely that which the Bill would, so far as it operated, establish in this country. That system had been denounced as irreligious and godless; and even in its present modified form, he had heard it taxed by an eminent Roman 1340 Catholic Prelate, as tending to produce religious indifference and scepticism. But there was not wanting conclusive evidence of the injustice of this charge. The House must bear in mind that, while the population of Ireland had decreased by about 2,500,000, the attendance in the national schools had annually and steadily increased. A friend of his had sent him a short time ago an address which had lately been delivered by one of the ablest and most pious Roman Catholic Prelates in Ireland—he meant Dr. Moriarty, the Bishop of Kerry,—on the disendowment of the Established Church, which contained the following passage:—We have no reason to fear the defection of our people. We see them every day growing in faith and in the practice of religion. When our population was nearly double what it is now, we had not half the number of monthly and weekly communicants, nor were our Sunday congregations more numerous than they are at present.The House had listened a few days ago to a very vehement denunciation, he would not say of the Scotch system of education, but of the system of rating, or, at all events, of the extension of that system to the whole area of Scotland. Upon that point he hoped he should be permitted to read an extract showing the opinion entertained by Lord Macaulay of the law, which, if it did not found, greatly extended the system of rating in that country. Lord Macaulay said—But by far the most important event of this short Session (1096) was the passing of the Act for the settling of schools. By this memorable law it was, in the Scotch phrase, statuted and ordained that every parish in the realm should provide a commodious school house, and should pay a moderate stipend to a schoolmaster. The effect could not be immediately felt; but, before one generation had passed away it had begun to be evident that the common people in Scotland were superior in intelligence to the common people of any other country in Europe. To whatever land the Scotchman might wander, to whatever calling he might betake himself, in America or in India, in trade or in war, the advantage which he derived from his early training raised him above his competitors. If he was taken into a warehouse as a porter, he soon became foreman. If he enlisted in the army he soon became sergeant. Scotland meanwhile, in spite of the barrenness of her soil and the severity of her climate, made such progress in agriculture, in manufactures, in commerce, in letters, in science, and in all that constitutes civilization, as the Old World had never seen equalled, and as even the New World has scarcely seen surpassed.Now, it was because he wished to see England rival Scotland in the education of her children that he desired at least to place it 1341 out of the power of the inhabitants of any district in the country to say that they had not the power to educate their population. Having said this much, and he begged to thank the House for the patience with which they had listened to him, he would ask the Government how they meant to deal with his Bill? He was, he thought, entitled to appeal to them either to accept it, or to undertake during the Recess to frame some measure of their own which would produce similar results. If they were prepared to adopt neither alternative — an announcement which he should be very much astonished to hear from any member of an administration of which Sir John Pakington and Lord Stanley formed a part—then he should feel compelled to take the sense of the House upon the present occasion. He was, he might add, sorry that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department should have committed himself in anticipation to opposition to the principle of the Bill. Occupying the high post which he did, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not regard himself simply as a Member for the University which he represented, or as the upholder of the interests of the Church to which he belonged, but as a Minister and a Member of Parliament representing the whole country, who would not be faithful to his duty if he did not postpone all minor interests to those of the community at large. There were, he well knew, honest and rational objections to the system of rating, arising from the narrowness of the basis on which the rate was levied, and the consequent inequality with which owners of different sorts of property was affected. He admitted this inequality, and would be glad to see it removed or reduced. But in the meantime the rate was the only available local resource. He could not, he might add, bring himself to think that the opposition to the Bill was based solely on an objection to the principle of rating. It was rather due, he believed, to a narrow desire to perpetuate Church supremacy—a desire which in times past had proved most injurious to the Church, and the departure from which had invariably resulted in communicating to her additional strength and vigour. He hoped that during the time which had elapsed since his right hon. Friend last addressed the House on the subject he had reconsidered it, and that if he was not prepared to accept the Bill he would, at all events announce to the House 1342 that he would next Session introduce some measure of a similar character. If such an announcement were made on behalf of the Government he should be glad to withdraw the Bill; but if not he must press his Motion for the second reading to a division, in order that the country might know the position, with reference to the House and the Ministry, in which the question really stood.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read the second time." — (Mr. Bruce.)
§ MR. ALGERNON EGERTON
, in seconding the Motion, said, that, after the able speech to which the House had just listened, it would be unnecessary for him to trespass long upon its attention. The question at issue was whether the voluntary system, as it at present existed, supplemented by the Government grants, was sufficient to meet an evil which everybody admitted called for a remedy. In dealing with that question, he could not do better than submit to the notice of the House the case of Manchester, because it was in that city that the Bill, if passed into a law, would in all probability, be first put into operation, inasmuch as a strong feeling prevailed there in favour of the rating principle. In Manchester, for some years past, a society, known as the Education Aid Society, had been at work in the endeavour to provide school accommodation for the destitute children of the place, who wandered in such numbers about the streets. The result of the inquiries made by the Society went to show that the voluntary system had entirely failed to meet the requirements of the case, even where it had been tried to the fullest extent; and they accordingly raised funds by subscription to provide the means of additional education. It appeared from their Report that, during the three years of their existence ending with 1866, they had issued 27,163 grants, the number of grants current or unexpired at the end of December in that year being 20,915, while the number of children attending school was only 9,480, or not more than 35.30 per cent of the number receiving grants, and that not owing simply to the poverty of the parents of those children, but to their apathy and indifference in regard to sending their children to school. In 1866, it was also stated, 39,162 children were visited at their homes, of whom 13,256 were above twelve years of age, 17,520 between three and twelve, and 8,386 under three years. Of the 17,520 1343 it was ascertained that there were 1,414 at work, 7,679 at school, and 8,427 neither at school nor work, running; about the streets utterly neglected. Upon further investigation it was discovered that of these 8,427 children, 4,336 belonged to parents who were able to pay for their education. It was clear, therefore, that the machinery of the Educational Aid Society could not reach these children. He believed the number of children of school age in Manchester and Salford in 1865 was at least 80,000 — some placed the number as 100,000—while the number of scholars on the books as 55,000; the average attendance 38,038—so that the number not attending school amounted to 40,000. These statistics proved that there were in the district to which he was referring an enormous number of children who were completely neglected. The case, however, was even worse in other parts of Lancashire, in which the number of children attending day schools was only 1 in 14, whereas in Manchester it was 1 in 10. The committee of the Education Aid Society further stated in their Report, that it was their deliberate and unanimous conviction that such was the apathy and indifference of a large portion of the parents that nothing but compulsion in one form or other would bring their children within the pale of education. Now, it was impossible, perhaps, to enforce any system of compulsory school attendance; but, if it could be done, a great advantage would be conferred on the country. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bruce) had clearly shown the justice of that view in the reference which he made to Prussia, where the attendance was compulsory. The voluntary system, at all events, had, in his opinion, failed; and how far the present Bill, which was permissive, would provide a remedy for the evils to which he alluded it was difficult to say. It was not to be supposd that its provisions would be largely adopted in the rural districts; but the real want of education was felt not so much there as in the towns in the manufacturing districts. He did not mean, on that occasion, to argue the question of the conscience clause, beyond stating it to be his opinion that it had become absolutely necessary to insert it in any general scheme for education. The Bill, he might add, would, in no degree, disturb the denominational system, and he hoped the House would receive from the Government a favourable assurance as to the course with respect to 1344 it which they meant to pursue. For his own part, he looked upon some such legislation as being imperatively required to meet not only the case of South Lancashire, but that of other districts throughout the country of a similar character.
said, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Bruce) had opened a question which was of the greatest interest and importance, and which demanded the most serious attention of the House. It was quite clear that the concluding observations of the right hon. Gentleman were not accidental; and the observations of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. Egerton) in seconding the Motion, showed that the matter had been well considered. The statements which the right hon. Gentleman had made as to the number of children who were left totally without instruction was not only very unsatisfactory, but very painful — there could be no difference of opinion on that point—he must, however, observe, without following the right hon. Gentleman through the statistics which he had produced, that he had never heard a speech which so singularly failed as his to grapple with the facts to be relied upon in support of the measure which he brought forward, or a speech from a Seconder which so completely disposed of the necessity for the proposal which he advocated. Some general statistics had been entered into bearing upon the country at large, while the cases of London, Manchester, Birmingham, and portions of Staffordshire had been specially referred to, and there had also been a liberal production of figures as to the number of children not attending school, in London in particular; but then there was a great absence of information as to the number of schools in the metropolis which were not filled. Now, inasmuch as the Bill was meant to provide schools, and, of course, schoolmasters, that point was one to which importance attached. It was not dealing fairly by this country to use statistics relating to Prussia, which certainly occupied the foremost place in Europe with regard to education, and by a rhetorical slip to make these statistics represent the position of the whole of the Continent, in that respect drawing a comparison unfavourable to England. No doubt, a great part of the population who ought to be at school were not at school; but it was desirable to know the extent of school accommodation with reference to the number of childen. The 1345 Report of the Duke of Newcastle's Commission showed that, speaking generally, school accommodation was not wanted. Now, it was hardly fair to point out the deficiency in the number of children sent to the schools without referring to the actual extent of school accomodation. No information had been given as to the general school accommodation afforded throughout the country, although the number of children not receiving education had been pointed out. Now, with respect to the state of particular towns. The Council had been urged to make their system more elastic in London—to give it less of the Procrustean character. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the Manchester system; but he did not give a single statistic to prove the want of school accommodation. When that Manchester system was brought before the House of Commons years ago, it was stated that there were plenty of schools, but that the children would not go to them. Was that so now? The hon. Member who seconded the Motion gave an account of a great number of benevolent people in Manchester who subscribed to pay for the schooling of children; but it appeared that only half of those paid for went to school. Now, that showed that the children did not go to school, and did not prove the want of school accommodation. From Birmingham there were no statistics showing want of school accommodation. The right hon. Gentleman said some of the schools were placed in inconvenient positions; but what did the present Bill propose to do? It would break up all the existing systems in the country; and then how could the wants of rural districts, with little knots of population scattered here and there, be met by the establishment of some great central school? In such a case the same inconvenience as was experienced at Birmingham would be felt to a greater degree throughout the rural districts. The Bill, if not so intended, would, nevertheless, most certainly break up all the existing voluntary and denominational systems in the country. If, as was stated in the Report of the Duke of Newcastle's Committee, the children did not go to school because the schools were not "handy," what would be the case in the rural parishes? There was no doubt that a vast number of children did not go to school; there was no doubt that many children who went did not learn; there was no doubt that in many of the schools furnished with all the appliances of the 1346 Privy Council, many of the children could neither read nor write. Canon Moseley told them, as a parting thought, that an educational machine had been started, of such excellence that the people would and did get out of it all they cared for, all they wanted, in a very short time; and if this went on, and the system was not clinched into them, in a short time the children would be less educated than now. The right hon. Gentleman said this was the effect on the annual-grant schools — the schools that they had abused till they were black in the face for not supporting the system which, according to the right hon. Gentleman, was not successful in attaining the end in view. He believed that Canon Moseley's observation was founded on common sense. He believed that the amount of education which the people wanted was easily picked up, although children often forgot very soon what they had learned at school. Therefore, he did not think that the statistics which had been quoted in favour of the Bill were conclusive; but he should want much more information than he at present possessed, to demonstrate that the present system was a failure. The right hon. Gentleman said they had not got all the children to school; but he had not shown that the Bill he proposed to introduce would remove the defect. At the end of his speech the right hon. Gentleman made use of ominous words to the effect that the result of the measure would be to destroy the bigoted and narrow views of the Church of England with respect to education.
explained, that what he said was that he hoped the opposition to the Bill would not proceed from narrow views to perpetuate Church supremacy.
said, he had never heard words used in support of any scheme of education which gave him such pain. At present all religions bodies in this country were going hand in hand together without jealousy, and in honest and honourable rivalry, trying to teach what they believed to be right and proper, and he thought that nothing could be so unfortunate as the language which the right hon. Gentleman had used. The right hon. Gentleman said that what was wanted to be brought in, and what the Bill would bring in, was the Irish system. ["No!"]
said, that the last thing he should desire would be to introduce into this country the Irish system. All that he had said was that, in spite of the diminu- 1347 tion of population, the number of scholars in the National Schools of Ireland had increased, and after quoting a passage in which Bishop Moriarty stated that the number of communicants had increased, he had remarked that the system which had been denounced as "godless" had not led to the evil results which had been apprehended by some.
nevertheless believed that the right hon. Gentleman's argument went to show that the present Bill would bring about something very similar to the Irish system. Well, a large number of the schools were Church schools, and it was impossible not to foresee that, if the Bill passed, every school at present in existence must be knocked up. It was impossible it could be otherwise. Suppose a union to consist of thirty parishes, twenty-five of which had schools, and five had not. The Bill would tax those parishes which maintained their schools equally with those who did not. The school committee under the Bill was to be elected by the town council, which was a body chosen by the burgesses and ratepayers; but in country unions the Bill did not give the power of election to the Board of Guardians — a body equally elected—but to the ratepayers at large. He thought that that distinction could hardly have been drawn without some object in view; and he observed that, by the provisions of the Bill, where a majority of votes was given against the adoption of the Act, an annual attempt to procure its adoption was permitted to be made. This was a very pleasant sort of contest, certainly, for districts to be subjected to—not to say anything of the injustice of taxing all persons in a district, who, at their own expense had been maintaining schools, for the purpose of supplying the deficiency of other places in the district. All those persons now maintaining Church schools would, whenever the Bill should be adopted in their districts, be taxed for the maintenance of other schools, and would not be able to receive a single farthing from the general school fund, unless they gave up a principle which they deemed to be vital. It was unjust enough that at present small schools could not get a grant from the Privy Council because they could not afford to pay a certificated teacher; but it was still worse, if, after inducing persons to lay out their money in establishing a system of religious education, Parliament were to compel them to take a number of children into their schools, and, after teaching them 1348 to read and write, then to turn them loose on the world without having given them any of that instruction necessary for the formation of right principles. We were told—years back, but not many years—that the people were steeped in vice and ignorance. Well, education was resolved on—Parliament insisted that the teaching should be religious, and that the Bible at least should be read daily in the schools. Now, it was proposed that this should no longer be compulsory. [Mr. BRUCE: In schools receiving public grants.] It was a condition precedent that no school should receive a farthing from the State unless its supporters violated their consciences. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted documents to show how soon things passed out of the minds of children; and as for the children who were not to receive a religious education he had little to say, except that, perhaps, they would not be much worse off if they went to no school at all; but he had a great deal to say about the strain put on the consciences of clergy and laity, who, with respect to the children they had under their hands felt that they could not do their duty to God or man without teaching something more than reading and writing. Then he asked the House to note the effect which this plan would have on other children in the schools. Having all been boys once, they all knew how boys canvassed the sincerity of those engaged in teaching them; and if the children in a school saw four or five or more children allowed to quit the school when religious teaching commenced, was it to be supposed that they would believe in the sincerity of their teachers? Or what would they think of the importance of the instruction from which a portion of them were excused? He regarded this as legislation of the most cruel kind; and it seemed to him that the natural effect of this Bill, if passed, would be to unsettle everything and settle nothing. It was quite certain that no persons would spend a single shilling in doing anything for schools should the Bill pass, because they could never be sure that they would not have this Act brought down upon their heads. It was not a supplement to, but the utter destruction of, the voluntary action. He looked at it, of course, more in reference to the country districts, and in those districts it was nearly impossible that such a Bill could work. His great objection to the Bill was the same as that which he had 1349 always felt to all rating schemes, which, if adopter, would in a very short time lead in this country, as they had led in I America, to secular education. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last (Mr. Egerton) told the House that eight or nine years ago a great number of benevolent persons in Lancashire made strenuous efforts to introduce secular education, and that, having failed, they were now cordial supporters of the present Bill. They were doubtless its supporters because they knew that it contained within its four corners the elements which must surely bring about their favourite scheme of purely secular education. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bruce) had said a great deal about Scotland and America, With regard to Scotland, the rating system, when introduced into that country, was not a general system, but a parochial system. It was also a religious system, and that was a matter which lay at the root of all these questions. With regard to America, the early occupiers of the States there were eminently a religious people, and they established rate schools, never dreaming that there would be any difficulty about religious teaching. Subsequently, however, differences crept in, and they were obliged to obliterate from the schools every mark of religious education, and the education in the common schools of America was now purely secular. If that had been the result there of the rating system, why should not a similar result be anticipated in this country? He did not believe that, in a country like this, where differences in religion prevailed, and where the several sects were equally sincere, children could be brought into common schools, unless all religious teaching were eliminated. Therefore, he had always been a friend to the denominational system, and he did not wish to see it broken down. And it must be remembered that, except in those schools, there was no adequate means of teaching religion to the poor; for though he was fully conscious of the value of what was done in the Sunday schools, it was equally certain that these efforts could not be made adequate to the religious education of the poorer classes. He hoped the Bill—which would not, as he believed, commend itself on its general merits to the people of this country—would fail to receive the sanction of a second reading. He thought it would be much wiser to go on in their present course than adopt the scheme of this Bill. If the Privy Council would only 1350 make their system more elastic, although no doubt it would occasion a little more trouble, they might meet many of those exceptional cases which could not be met by adhering to a hard rule. In a matter of this kind, where the whole community was concerned, it would be more just that half should come from the general resources of the State than that the burden should fall on the real property of the country. If this Bill passed, he had no doubt that burden in some few years would amount to 3d. or 4d. in the pound, which he did not think would be just. He did not see why those possessed of money, trading capital, and income, should go scot free, while the whole burden fell on the owners of real property. These were some of the reasons which induced him to think that the House ought not to sanction this measure. He did not know what were the views of the Government upon the subject, but he thought so grave and important a question should not be in the bands of any private Member. If there was any private Member who, from his experience and his previous official connection?, was authorized to deal with the subject, it was, no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bruce); but he did think any possible gain which might arise from the adoption of this measure would be a thousand times counterbalanced by the confusion it certainly would introduce, and the overwhelming influence it would have hostile to existing schools in the country. Nor was there any occasion for a measure of this description, for any one who compared the present position of the country in regard to education with its position twenty or thirty years ago, would be convinced that cur progress was a sound and steady one, that great improvement had already taken place, and that great changes for the better were still going on. He hoped, therefore, the Bill would be withdrawn.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
hoped that as his name was on the back of this Bill, and as he felt deeply interested in its success, the House would allow him very briefly to state the reasons why he supported it. He was not at all alarmed by the objections of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) much as he in common with every other Member in the House, admired his earnestness, his ability and sincerity, The alarms of the right hon. Gentleman were without foundation. For what did the promoters of this Bill mainly seek? The evils of ignorance were so deeply felt in the various localities 1351 which would be most affected by the Bill, that they were admitted on all hands, and all that the promoters of the measure asked of the Legislature was that they would allow them, if the community in which they lived agreed, to undertake to remedy these evils—to allow them, as a community, with the general consent, or the consent of a majority of them, to do their duty. The Bill, therefore, provided that it was only in those cases where a majority of the inhabitant ratepayers were in favour of bringing the Act into operation that it should take effect. He was inclined to believe that national education was much more nearly at a standstill in this country than the right hon. Gentleman imagined. It was quite true that the quality of the education given to those who accepted it was better; but he doubted that there was a proper and legitimate increase, in comparison with the increase of the population, of those who availed themselves of the advantages of the present system. He had thought it possible that Manchester and London statistics were too much picked; and he had therefore requested a very hardworking clergyman at Leeds, whose life had been devoted to education, to make an entirely indifferent visitation. He had accordingly taken ten streets inhabited by the poorer population, but not the special poor, of Leeds, whose rent varied from 2s. to 2s. 6d. in some streets, and from 3s. to 4s. in others. He had every house visited, and out of about 800 houses there were 511 with 1,023 children between three and twelve, of whom 541 only were at school during the week, the others being absent. There were only 62, or about one-eighth absent, because they were at work; 30 absent from sickness; 276 were absent from alleged poverty; and only 232 were said by their parents to read and write. With such facts before them they were right in supposing that they were not making much way. In one respect they were making no way at all. In the large towns the dangerous classes were increasing. That "residuum" as it had been called, was not diminishing; and what the promoters of this Bill wanted was the means of dealing with it. It had lately been stated that England did not hold the position she should have held in the Paris Exhibition. There might or might not be exaggeration in some of the statements on this subject, but there was one extract he should like to quote from the testimony of one of the jurors, Mr. A. J. Mundella, of 1352 Nottingham, who was peculiarly qualified to speak as to the present state of English and Continental education. He said—The branch of industry with which I have been connected for thirty years past is the manufacture of hosiery. I am the managing partner of a firm employing 5,000 working people, with establishments in Nottingham, Derby, and Loughborough, employing more than four-fifths of the number, and with branches at Chemnitz and Pausa, in Saxony, employing about 700 persons, I am of opinion that Englishmen possess more energy, enterprize, and inventiveness than any other European nation. The best machines in my trade now at work in France and Germany are the inventions of Englishmen, and in most cases of uneducated workmen; but these machines of English invention are constructed and improved by men who have had the advantage of a superior industrial education. In Nottingham where the best machinery in the world is required and used in the production of hosiery and lace, there is no such thing as industrial education, and greatly as it is to be desired, I am acquainted with many good mechanics and superior workmen to whom it would be of no service, inasmuch as they can neither read or write. In Saxony, our manager, an Englishman of superior intelligence, and greatly interested in education, during a residence of seven years, has never yet met with a workman who cannot read or write; and not in the limited and imperfect manner in which the majority of English artisans are said to read and write; but with a freedom and familiarity that enable them to enjoy reading, and to conduct their correspondence in a creditable and often superior style.This was a very great evil with regard to the industrial classes, and such was the state of things in Manchester and other large towns, with which the promoters of this Bill, whether as philanthropists, men of business, or citizens caring for the good of the country, had to contend. There was no other mode of dealing with it than by this Bill. They were of opinion that if they were permitted to persuade their fellow-townsmen to make use of this measure, better education would be the result. Who were these men? Not theorists, but hardworking, practical men; not men belonging to any particular party—both Liberals and Conservatives; not men of any peculiar religious views—both Churchmen and Dissenters. They were not men specially favourable to secular education; nothing was more unfair than so to represent them. The fact was the right hon. Gentlemen had a great dislike to that term "secular;" and these men were said to be in favour of secular education. But it was a great mistake. They had only been for the secular system because they saw no other means of attaining their object. But they had given up those particular views, thus showing by the sacri- 1353 fice of opinion how earnest they were in the work they had undertaken. Why did they think they might gain their object in this way? Because they saw that the present system was defective in its nature. They had worked long enough with the; hap-hazard system, It was entirely unqual—it cast the burden on the willing horse; and it was incomplete, for there was no organization, no means of gauging the evils for which a cure was wanted. They never would get the better of these evils till they fastened on the community the duty of looking after the education of the people. The community, they believed, were ready to undertake that duty, and all they wanted was the machinery of this Bill to enable them to accomplish it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) was mistaken in supposing there would be any difference between the voters in the towns and the voters in the counties, because, in both instances, they would be the ratepayers; and he was also equally mistaken as to its application to the country parishes against their inclination, because the 51st clause; would meet such a case. The great objection of the right hon. Gentleman to the Bill appeared to be his fear that it would uproot the existing system; but, so far I from wishing to do that, the great desire of those who were chiefly interested in; promoting this Bill was to make use of the present existing machinery. There was no desire to get rid of denominational eduation—the great want was not schools, but their support, and to free the supporters of those schools from the irksome task of begging for subscriptions by giving aid to these schools on condition that they give good secular education. As to the rating system, it was not, he admitted, very likely that it would take speedy root in country districts; but it would at least draw the attention of the ratepayers to the subject, and it was something to have so important a question fully discussed in the districts where the want was felt; but, so far from uprooting the existing system, it was provided in the Bill that no school should be established in any parish in the vicinity of any denominational school; and that, even where there was such school, twelve months' notice should be given of the intention of the promoters to establish a rating school, in order to give an opportunity to the promoters of denominational schools to take up the matter and establish the school themselves. The pro- 1354 moters of this measure, therefore, clearly had no desire to get rid of the denominational schools, but only to make use of the existing machinery in order to supply districts with schools which were at present wholly without the means of education. Their suggestion was, that where the funds could not be raised for the support of existing schools, the municipality should be empowered to take them up and propose a rate for them, thus incorporating them into the proposed system. At the same time, that could only be done with the consent of the managers, and in such cases the religious teaching would not be destroyed, because the secular committee would have no right whatever to interfere with the denominational teaching, and the school-house and building would still be at the disposal of the clergyman on Saturday and Sunday for the purpose of giving religious instruction. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think the adoption of this Bill would result in the secular system. That, he repeated, was not the object of the promoters, and it did not come within its provisions. It granted to every denomination absolute freedom with regard to religious teaching; but a good secular education was essential to aid being granted to any school, and there was also this condition, that it must have a conscience clause. Now, the withdrawal of children under that clause had been greatly and enormously exaggerated. In Swansea, within a given time, out of 12,000 children, four only had been withdrawn. [Mr. HENLEY: I should have thought none.] Then what was there to be afraid of? The real fact was, that the conscience clause difficulty was a theoretical and not a practical difficulty, and it was more a political difficulty than a religious one. The conscience clause had worked well in Scotland for many years past, because they had managed there to satisfactorily solve the difficulty. It was also an exaggerated notion that the common schools of America had become secularized, nor would it be the case in this country. Many clergymen in England, who entertain strong views upon the question of education, had stated their opinion that the time had come, from their being so overworked, that they could no longer undertake the secular as well as the religious education of the poor; and Dr. Hook had stated the better way would be to give the children secular education for five days in the week, and then devote the 1355 Saturday and Sunday to religious teaching, and that by leaving the secular teaching to the schoolmaster, the clergyman would be put in a better position than he was at present. The conscience clause difficulty was one which was made in that House, rather than by those who were engaged in the practical work of education. If the National School Society would leave the school masters and school managers alone, if the Bishops would leave the hardworking clergy alone, and if politicians and Parliament would leave the friends of education and the people alone, the conscience clause difficulty would soon come to an end. Education, without teaching a man the fear of God and his duty to his neighbour, would be of very little use. To make a man moral, they must reach first his heart by making him religious, and there was no intention on the part of those who brought forward this Bill to discourage religious teaching. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that it had become a question whether in rates generally they should impose their heavy burden on landed property only, as they had been in the habit of doing. If some hon. Member could bring forward a plan by which the rating area could be extended, it would confer a benefit upon the country. It had been said that this Bill was only an experimental one, and he readily admitted that it was quite possible that, when Parliament found that the system worked well in the large towns, they might extend its operations over the whole country—a consummation to which he looked forward. This, however, could only happen in case of success, and success was a fact which Parliament would have the necessity of taking into account. All that the promoters of the Bill asked for was, that the various communities should be permitted to fulfil their local duties, and was this a time when the House should refuse to listen to their wishes? He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman opposite would say what course the Government intended to adopt with reference to this Bill, and whether the Government would undertake to introduce a Bill of a similar character during the next Session. The enormous extension of the Factory Acts that had taken place in late years rendered it essential that some steps should be taken with, regard to this subject. The Factory Act introduced by the late Home Secretary would bring under its operation no less than 2,500,000 persons, of whom 500,000 1356 were children, and employers would soon begin to object to the burden that these Acts cast upon them; and it was impossible that the friends of education could take upon themselves the burden of instructing this mass of children. A great deal had been said in the course of the Session about a "residuum;" but he had no fear of that portion of the community, since the suffrage had been extended by the Bill which had occupied so much of their attention of late; still it was the duty of that House to prevent the children of the class which formed the "residuum" growing up to be no better than their parents.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that a double appeal had been made to him with regard to the course he intended to take in reference to this Bill—one personal, and the other in relation to his official position in this House. Now, with reference to the appeal which had been personally made to him—the right hon. Gentleman opposite had said with justice that he should not be regarded so much as the Member for Oxford and as a Churchman, as a responsible Member of the Government—he begged to state that he had said nothing on the subject of education since he had been one of the Members for the University of Oxford, which he had not previously stated, and when he had no more expectation of representing the University than he had of holding the office which he now filled in Her Majesty's Government. He did not retract anything he had said on former occasions on this subject, however much he might be influenced by circumstances in dealing with it. When the subject of Scotch education was last before the House, he thought it necessary to express, as far as he could—which he did with great diffidence, not having at that period had time to read the Report—that he considered the case of Scotland totally different to that of England; because Scotland having practised a system of rating for education for generations past, it had grown up with it, and the people had been accustomed to it, and that, consequently, as a national question, it must be looked at in a different light from that of England. The system adopted in Scotland was, he believed, one that was in harmony with the wishes of the people in that country—so also the denominational system had a strong hold on the minds of the people of this country; but he did not believe it was possible to introduce into England with advantage a system of rating for educational purposes. 1357 He was sensible, both as an individual and as a Member of the Government, of the defects of the present system in not reaching every portion of the population; but, at the same time, he could not help remarking, when the figures were placed before him, that if it were true that the proportion of children attending school in Manchester, and other large towns, was only one in ten or one in thirteen, as the total proportion attending school throughout the whole country was one in seven, the proportion of the attendance in other places must be comparatively high. He entirely concurred in the opinion expressed by the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) that, taking into consideration the short time that the present system had been in operation, its progress had been unequalled by any other system in the world. The number of schools and the number of scholars was increasing year by year—the latter amounting to 2,000,000, while the schools were increasing at the rate of 700 per annum. It was absurd to suppose that we were not steadily advancing, and that not only in the number of scholars and schools, but also in the quality of the education given. Notwithstanding these favourable circumstances, however, it was impossible for him to shut his eyes to the fact that there were great deficiencies in the accommodation afforded to scholars in some of the large towns, and also in some of the country districts. Under these circumstances, he had to ask himself how it was that some mode had not hitherto been arrived at to meet those deficiencies? And here he asked to be permitted in passing to acknowledge the great service which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bruce) had rendered to the House and to the country by adding so largely as he had done that day to their information upon this subject. Experiments of various kinds had been tried, in order to remedy the deficiencies complained of. Lord Russell, and the present Secretary for War (Sir John Pakington), had introduced Bills for that purpose, founded on the principle of rating; but the House of Commons had hitherto steadfastly refused to adopt that principle, which was objected to, not only upon religious grounds, and by the Church party, but the hon. Member for Leeds, the hon. Member for Sheffield, and those who formed what was called the Voluntary party in that House, upon the double ground that it was opposed to the voluntary principle, and that its adoption would necessarily lead to secular educa- 1358 tion. He recollected Sir James Graham quoting, with great effect, a pamphlet written by the hon. Member for Leeds, in which arguments of that kind were set forth. In the Bill now before the House it was proposed to remedy the evils which existed by recurring again to the system of rating. But the hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. A. Egerton), who sat behind him, had told the House that the evil which existed in Lancashire was not the want of schools, or the want of the means of education, or even the poverty of the parents, but the disinclination of the parents to send their children to the schools; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had put the matter in a still stronger light, for he had shown that even where education had been provided gratuitously, half of those to whom it was offered refused to avail themselves of it. It did not appear to him, therefore, that by merely establishing the principle of rating they would arrive at a solution of the difficulty. By going into the field with more money they were not doing that which would bring the children in greater numbers to the schools; and if they paid for children whose parents ought to pay for them, they were taking away from the parent one of his highest duties—that of educating his children himself, if he had the means to do it. But even if the evil did arise from the poverty of the parent, what were they going to do by this Bill? They had cases instanced to-day where schools had not been built in the midst of large populations. But in those instances which had been referred to, the districts were of the poorest character, and most heavily rated, and this Bill would add to those rates without effecting the object which they had in view. That the rates should only be levied on one description of property seemed to him one of the strongest arguments against the adoption of such a principle. And then the question of conscience had been brought forward, and he thought with perfect justice. It was one of the arguments against church rates that people should not be called upon to pay for that which they did not approve. Yet they proposed to introduce a system of rating. But how was that system to be applied? It was to be left to those who would afterwards have the management of the schools, and it would be in their hands to make these schools either such as they did or such as they did not approve of. 1359 Although the right hon. Gentleman said that there was a careful provision in the Bill which provided against the education given in schools to be supported by the rate being secular, he must confess that he could not find such a clause.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
explained that the provision to which he referred was the one which declared that the conditions to be imposed should be the same as those which were required to be fulfilled before the Government grant could be obtained.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that in that case, of course, the Bible must be read in the school according to the regulations of the Revised Code. He now came to another point of considerable importance. Of course, under a system of rating they would put the management of the schools into the hands of people elected by the ratepayers—either by the Town Council or directly by the ratepayers themselves. Now, had that been a system of management with which this House had been entirely satisfied? They had recently had several cases in which such a system of management had not been considered satisfactory by the House, and it should be remembered that education was one of the most difficult of all subjects to manage properly. One thing was quite clear—that they must have in these boards of management people of all religious denominations, especially in the large towns. Then comes the question as to what schools are to be aided? The right hon. Gentleman says that denominational schools will be aided; but there are 11,000 or 12,000 of those which by their deeds are bound to be denominational schools in the strictest sense of the word. They had no conscience clause; but they were bound by their deeds and by their connection with societies to carry out a particular system of education; and the whole of those schools would be debarred from any claim on the rates by their own deeds, while they would all be rated for an education which they disapproved or might disapprove of, and in which they could have no share whatever. He thought the result must be that the two systems could not survive together. The one supported by rates would put down the other, or place it in some such difficulty as that in which we see the Church educational system of Ireland. With regard to the conscience clause, he wished that the right hon. Gentleman had spoken earlier the words he had used with regard to it to-day. For his own part, he be- 1360 lieved that, had it not been made a Parliamentary and a political question, the conscience clause would never have been heard of in this country at all. The religious difficulty did not arise from below, but had been raised by those who sought to make a political question of it. It should, however, be borne in mind that in less than a year after the conscience clause was introduced into the endowed schools an attempt was made to introduce into the management of those schools a system of mixed religions, on the ground that the children were of mixed religions, and that proposal was strongly supported by those who supported the original change. He thought, therefore, that they should have a very slight guarantee for keeping the management of the denominational schools in the hands of the denominations themselves, if once a separate board of management were admitted to exercise a control over the schools. He had studiously avoided going into any statistics upon the subject; and having expressed what his personal views were upon the question, he was now prepared to state what the views of the Government were with regard to the Bill. He was not prepared himself, nor was he aware that any of his Colleagues were prepared, to support the second reading of the Bill at present. They thought it was premature to come to a conclusion upon a matter of such vast importance to the country after two or three speeches only had been made upon it. He could only repeat what he had said when the question of Scotch education was before the House—that the subject of the education of those whose means did not permit them to provide it for themselves, was one which deserved the most serious attention of any Government, and was one upon which some course must be decided upon before long. He could not help saying, however, that he thought it rather unreasonable that this question should be forced upon a Government which had held office for so short a time, when nothing had been done in the matter by those whom they succeeded during the six or seven years they held office. While assuring the right hon. Gentleman and those who sat near him that the subject of education was one which had always commanded and would always have his most earnest attention, he declined to pledge the Government to bring in a Bill or to deal with the subject in any way next Session. As he did not believe that the Bill would in any way 1361 meet the evil it proposed to remedy, as he was not prepared to accept the rating system, and as he foresaw that the Bill was made permissive only as a step to making the principle compulsory, he should decline to give his assent to the Bill. The hon. Member who last addressed the House (Mr. W. E. Forster) had referred to the Factory Acts, which were about to be sent before the House by the Committee. He could not allow the opportunity to pass without expressing his approval of the legislation upon that subject which had taken place in recent years, and could only hope that the system of education had been as effective in connection with the half-time system as the Legislature meant it to be. He quite agreed that the Legislature were bound to provide the necessary means to meet a want which they themselves had called into existence. They had called into existence an additional want of education, and they were bound in duty to make some provision for it. When Parliament passed a law saying that certain people shall undergo a certain system of education, he quite agreed that it would be a neglect of duty on their part if they did not see that some system of education was provided. He should have liked to have been informed in the course of this debate what were the ages of the children who were absent from the schools; and whether rates were required to obtain increased educational accommodation for teaching, or merely for the purpose of compelling the children to go to schools which were already in existence? In many of the instances which had been quoted to-day he had not been told whether there was any deficiency in the schools themselves, either in accommodation or in the teaching. If there was that deficiency, they were only making a voluntary effort by this Bill to meet it, although it was a voluntary effort whereby a majority can coerce a very large minority if they thought proper to do so. He had gone through the subject in a very imperfect manner, and he could only repeat, on the part of the Government, that he could not assent to the second reading of the Bill.
could not say that the general effect of the right hon. Gentleman's declaration could be regarded as satisfactory—he himself came to the contrary conclusion—not because the right hon. Gentleman deprecated any attempt to extract from the Government any imme- 1362 diate pledge upon a subject so extensive and so difficult as that now before the House, but because he had complained of the inactivity of the late Government with reference to the question of education. The late Government had not neglected the subject at all; they were compelled to wait until they received the Report of the Commission appointed to inquire into the matter, and when that Report was presented they could not bring themselves to sanction, as the basis of legislative enactment, the recommendations it contained. They did, however, introduce a measure of considerable extent under the auspices of the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe); and he (Mr. Gladstone) must say that the reception that measure met with, and the difficulties in the way of bringing it to a tolerable issue, were not at all encouraging as to the manner in which any further efforts they might make would be received by the other side of the House. The matter was now in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman—it is in an entirely different position, and the present Government might feel assured that if they introduced a measure which went in the general direction indicated by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bruce), it would meet with no tenacious opposition, but with the warmest support from those among whom he had the honour to sit. The right hon. Gentleman deprecated assent to the second reading of this Bill; and while he urged that the question had been insufficiently discussed, he accompanied his conclusion with arguments which went right against the whole principle of the Bill. The principle of the Bill is to call upon the local communities, for the purpose of supplying great deficiencies which exist in the quantity and quality of education, and with the view of availing ourselves of all the aid which was to be derived from that source; and the objections of the right hon. Gentleman went against any plan which embodied such a system. They were now in a position in which it was necessary to review the general results of their present system of education, and to ask themselves whether they could entertain the hope that the Amendments and extensions of the present system which had been referred to would enable them to meet the greatly increased and enhanced necessities of the country? The right hon. Gentleman referred triumphantly to the progress which the present system has made. Now he (Mr. Gladstone) had before him some facts of 1363 the simplest character relating to the educational position of certain districts. It was a mild test of education, to say the least, to inquire whether, upon marriage, the persons who were united could perform the operation of writing their names, and what is the percentage of those who could do so. He had before him statistics showing the proportion of persons who on being married could perform the operation of writing their names. He found that in Peebles all could write; and in Dumfries, 3 per cent made their marks. The districts in England, however, did not show so favourably. In Brighton there was a proportion of 14 per cent who could not write their names; in Cheltenham, 13 percent; Southampton, 14 per cent; Portsmouth, 16½ per cent; and in Yorkshire, 16½ per cent. These were proportions taken upon the entire population, including the middle and upper classes, and consequently there must be deduced from every 100 some 20, 25, or 30, as a percentage for the middle and the upper classes, and then the percentages for the labouring classes become very much larger. But these were among the most favourable districts, many of them not being places of which it could be said that the life of the labouring classes was concentrated in the greatest degree, and working men in the greatest intensity. If they took Manchester they would find that one-third of the entire population at the period of marriage were not able to write their own names, and, therefore, somewhere about half, or A little short of half the labouring population were in that position. In Salford, 40 per cent cannot write; in Birmingham, 30½ per cent; in Blackburn, 40 per cent; in Bolton, 44 per cent; in Oldham, 43 per cent; in Preston, 49 per cent; in Stock port 42½ per cent; and in Wolverhampton 47 per cent. These are the very places where the labouring classes will become a majority of the constituents to return Members to this House. With regard to another view of the present system he could not help expressing his great disappointment at its failure, or rather at its insufficiency, considered with regard to its modern extension, in the duration of the education which it communicated. It was far from producing the results they would desire to see in regard to its religious character. He could not but think that they must all feel a sentiment of painful disappointment at the feebleness of the religious impressions which the education in our schools had produced. This 1364 might be seen to some extent in the insensible operation of our schools as a means of proselytism. He did not now enter into the question as to how far they should operate in that manner; but, considering the mode in which, in almost, all the rural districts of the country, the instruction of the lower classes was merely a monopoly of the Church of England, he was astonished to find that the result was what it was. It was conclusively established that what was called religious education did not produce in the scholars those habits of attending the ordinances of religion. Experience showed that the period of liberation from the school was also the period of liberation from attending Church or chapel. He thought his right hon. Friend deserved their gratitude for introducing this Bill, and he said so though he might not agree to all its details. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) had found fault with his right hon. Friend for excluding from the benefits of the measure any schools that had not adopted the conscience clause. Well, he (Mr. Gladstone) confessed that that was a very fair question for consideration in Committee. Personally, he thought that benevolent persons who chose to establish schools for the purpose of teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, and in which no attempts were made to produce irreligious influences, ought not to be excluded from the advantages to be conferred by the measure, and he should therefore feel disposed to urge upon his right hon. Friend a relaxation in this particular. Still, however, his right hon. Friend had had to grapple with great difficulties, and not the least of these was to reconcile denominational education with the application of local rates. Instead of avowing an intention to discourage and put down denominational education, they ought—as he believed the Bill would do — to give that denominational education perfectly fair play. The right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. G. Hardy's) objection on this point, he must confess, appeared to him to be not only not warranted, but to be positively contradicted by the 26th clause. He thought that if the right hon. Gentleman would consider that clause he would see that the danger he feared from the board of management being composed of members of different religious persuasions is not likely to occur. He thought his right hon. Friend had taken perfect security for the religious liberty of those schools in everything that respected their internal ar- 1365 rangements, except in so far as those which might be regulated by Parliament itself. The right hon. Gentleman, too, had, he thought, misinterpreted his right hon. Friend on another point; for as he understood it, his right hon. Friend's meaning was not that the conscience clause was demanded for political motives, but that the opposition that was made to it chiefly arose from those motives. He understood his right hon. Friend, moreover, not to make the charge against those who took objection in the practical work of education as against those who, in higher quarters, were disposed to make the subject one for debate. He could not describe how much he lamented the course that had been pursued by men in authority civil and ecclesiastical, and by the clergy more especially, in the resistance to the conscience clause. It appeared to him that the conscience clause afforded the last chance of a permanent system of denominational education. He believed that the conscience clause afforded, too, the only chance for maintaining harmony between what he might call the old system and the demands of the new system; a harmony which he thought it exceedingly desirable to obtain, because, in his opinion, if the matter came to actual conflict, the new system would prevail. It was this matter, in fact, which lay at the root of the Bill. It was not the question of the Government being a long or a short time in office; but the fact, as he feared, was that the view which the right hon. Gentleman entertained of the conscience clause, and of lawful authority with regard to the superintendence in the school system, afforded his right hon. Friend no choice but to take the opinion of the House on the measure which he had introduced.
§ MR. BAZLEY
said, that the Bill, in his opinion, proposed to assist those who, while exceedingly numerous, were by themselves helpless. He believed that the objection urged against it by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), on the ground that it would necessitate the erection of fresh schools, was unfounded, because he did not think that any schools at all would have to be erected in consequence of the passing of the measure. His right hon. Friend had given the House some startling figures, showing how many were in the present day growing up uncared for and untaught; training, in fact, for vice and prison. He believed that, in fact the greatest difficulty in the question was the mass of ignorance that existed in 1366 the country. He believed that something like a compulsory system would be necessary to get the neglected classes of children to attend schools. The compulsory system had worked beneficially wherever it had been tried, even although it did not provide for the religious instruction of the children. There were thousands of children helpless and uneducated, and this Bill would be not only an individual, but a national benefit. He should therefore give it his support. The question of education was one that must, sooner or later, force itself upon the attention of the House, and they could not, he believed, at present do better than adopt the measure which his right hon. Friend had introduced.
§ MR. HUBBARD
said, he believed this question to be of greater importance than any Reform Bill; because it was more essential that those exercising the privilege of voting should be qualified to fulfil the trust reposed in them than that the number of those enfranchised should be increased. The Bill, however, now before the House was full of inconsistencies. They were told that the measure was intended to supplement the existing system. Being a permissive measure, it might possibly be adopted in places where wealth and energy abounded; but where poverty and ignorance existed, and where, consequently, legislation was required, it would simply be of no service. He could not understand how those who objected to church rates could advocate a measure which would depend for its efficiency solely upon a system of rating. The hon. Gentleman was proceeding, when it being a quarter to Six of the Clock—
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.