HC Deb 21 June 1867 vol 188 cc303-49

The labours of the Commission, to which I wish to call attention this evening, have been watched with very great interest in Scotland; a fact which need not surprise us, if we remember that that country has owed to the comparatively wide diffusion of education amongst its people, very much of the prosperity which it has enjoyed. Many Scotchmen believe—and I confess to be one of the number—that if our educational system, higher, secondary, and elementary, could be put on a thoroughly satisfactory footing, it would do more to increase that prosperity than any other change which is in the power of Parliament. Hon. Members cannot too constantly bear in mind that the whole feeling about education is quite different in Scotland from what it is in England. Here, the strong movement in favour of the education of the whole people dates, certainly, not further back than the earlier part of this century. In Scotland it is, at least, as old as the Reformation. Here, the education of the people is chiefly looked after by benevolent persons and societies. In Scotland it is a matter of legal right and legal obligation. Here, the idea of an education rate is new and strange. With us, it is as familiar as any other form of tax, infinitely more familiar than the poor's rate, which is in the north quite of recent introduction. Denominational education on a large scale is in Scotland hardly thirty years old, and since 1861 we have no tests in our parochial schools any more than in our Universities. There is another thing which should be borne in mind, and that is that this question of Scotch education is to the last degree urgent. Ever since the introduction of the Revised Code in England, and its partial introduction in Scotland, so great an expectation of change has been excited, that everything has been in confusion, and this state of things will continue until Parliament gives us to understand, once for all, how far the ardent aspirations of the country for a national system of education are to be gratified. As it is, the Revised Code will, as a temporary measure, have immediately to be suspended in Scotland for another year, and if we have not legislation next Session it will be a great disappointment and misfortune. This Commission was appointed in 1864, and its instructions empowered it to inquire into the whole field of education below the universities. It covered, accordingly, the same ground as the English Commissions which reported in 1861 and 1864, as well as that presided over by Lord Taunton, the report of which, surely too long delayed, so many are awaiting with impatience. Inasmuch, however, as the number of schools which correspond to the middle class schools of England is, on the other side of the Tweed, not very numerous, and a class of schools corresponding to the nine public schools which were investigated by Lord Clarendon'a Commission does not exist, the greatest amount of public interest gathers round the Report of the Commission on the elementary schools; and all that they have to say upon this subject is already in our hands. The Commission was very numerous, consisting of no less than eighteen persons, selected by my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh with much judgment, including a distinguished Member of the present Government, two Conservative ex-Lord-Advocates, and a well-known Conservative peer. The Commissioners got to work in November 1864, and their first proceeding was to examine a large number of witnesses, so as to collect the general views prevailing in the Scotch public mind as to the state of the schools, and the best means of increasing their efficiency. They also obtained answers to written questions. The report of the oral evidence was laid before us in March 1865; the answers to the written questions were put on the table this Session. This preliminary examination satisfied the Commission that there was in Scotland a very general feeling in favour of a National system, but much difference of opinion, and, indeed, much absence of accurate information with respect to the actual state of the schools. They accordingly directed that schedules should be prepared and addressed to the registrars of births, deaths, and marriages, throughout Scotland, who were directed to call with their schedules filled up upon the ministers of the denominations most nearly connected with the various schools, and to request them to sign the schedules if they agreed with the statements made. Copies of the schedules were also sent to the ministers of the various leading denominations to be returned by them filled up according to their own views in case they did not agree with the registrars. In this way, most accurate statistics have been obtained with regard to the number of children attending school in the rural parishes and the smaller towns; for the registrars of the large towns, such as Glasgow and Edinburgh, declined to undertake the task of having the schedules filled up. This omission was supplied by a special inquiry as to Glasgow. All the statistics collected are now before Parliament, and I will, with the permission of the House, read a portion of the passage in which the Commissioners sum up the results— According to the Census of 1861, the population of Scotland was 3,062,294. The returns which we obtained from the registrars, in the manner just described, embrace a population of 2,050,024, which may be taken to comprehend the whole of the rural population; while the remaining 1,012,270 comprehend the whole of the burghal population. Provision, however, was afterwards made for a complete investigation of the schools in Glasgow, with a population of 395,503; so that the only part of the population from which no returns were received is 616,767. The result is that, either through the registrars or the Glasgow Assistant Commissioners, information has been obtained as to the educational condition of four-fifths of the people of Scotland. The returns thus obtained by the registrars will be found full of the most important and interesting information. The general result of the state of education in Scotland is that a proportion of 1 in 6.5 of the whole; population is upon the roll of scholars, and 1 in 7.9 in attendance, a ratio which, if; taken by itself, is not unsatisfactory. But when we come to the detail of the different counties, which will be found in the appendix, it will be seen that the ratio in individual parishes is much more unsatisfactory, varying from 1 in 4 to 1 in 15, 20, 25, and even 30. In short, it does not appear that the percentage overhead gives anything like a satisfactory indication of the real state of education in particular localities. In regard to the religious, or rather the denominational question, the returns present a remarkable and very satisfactory result. They show that the distinction of denominations in Scotland has a very limited effect indeed in determining the attendance of children upon particular schools. Thus, out of 87,000 scholars in the parochial or national schools, which are of course connected with the Established Church of Scotland, only 53,000 belong to that Church; out of 33,000 scholars in denominational schools in connection with the Established Church, the so called General Assembly schools, only 18,000 belong to that Church; out of 48,000 scholars in Free Church schools, only 28,000 are Free Church children; out of 6,200 scholars in Episcopalian schools, only 1,929 are Episcoplian, The vast majority are Presbyterians. It is a remarkable fact that out of 12,000 Roman Catholic children at school in the rural districts of Scotland, a majority are in Presbyterian schools, and I am proud to say that their conscientious scruples are protected by the direct and positive injunctions of the Presbyterian Churches. Details as to this, on which a Scotchman has a right, I think, to claim some credit for his country, will be found by Roman Catholic Members of this House at page 30 of the Report. At this stage of their inquiry, the Commissioners seem to have thought themselves justified in coming to the conclusion that things were, as we say in the north, "nae that ill," more especially as they had now sufficient information before them to be persuaded that the situation of the school and the merits of the teacher weigh much more with parents in Scotland than mere religious differences. Much, however, had to be done before they could make a satisfactory report. They knew all about the number of the schools and the scholars, little about the character of either. They had full information about quantities, they had now to ascertain qualities. They appointed accordingly five assistant Commissioners to examine into the education actually given in the three great divisions of the population, which had to be dealt with as entirely distinct, and they seem in the choice of these gentlemen to have been almost as fortunate as in their secretary. They sent Mr. Sellar and Colonel Maxwell to examine the Lowland parishes; Mr. Harvey and Mr. Greig to analyze the educational state of Glasgow; and Mr. Nicolson to examine the Highlands and Islands. Further, they obtained the assistance of Mr. Fraser, who was directed to report upon the state of education in the United States and Canada, as well to their as to Lord Taunton's Commission. All the reports of these assistant Commissioners can now be had on application by Members. They are all characterized by great ability, and there is none of them from which those who are interested in education can possibly fail to learn a great deal. I suppose that, to Englishmen, the most directly interesting will be the one on Glasgow, and Mr. Fraser's American report, bearing, as they do, so much upon problems which are of such vast importance in the most populous part of the island. The report of Mr. Sellar and his Colleague will be most widely read in Scotland, because it applies to so wide a portion of the surface of the country; and the report of Mr. Nicolson, although it describes a state of society and conditions of life widely different from those with which persons who study educational questions have generally to deal, brings to light so much that is curious, and is so racy, that it cannot fail to obtain many readers. Some hon. Members might even do worse than to take it with them when the 12th of August summons them from discussing Reform to more agreeable occupations. The general result of the qualitative analysis, so to speak, made by the assistant Commissioners is much less satisfactory than the quantitative analysis of the registrar's returns. The number of children attending some schools is about as large as we could wish; the number of children attending efficient schools is quite another thing. We have in Scotland, as in most other countries, a class of persons who are very fond of beating the patriotic big drum, and who believe that all is as it ought to be in that portion of the earth's surface which happens to have been blessed by their nativity. Some of such have, I see, been rejoicing greatly over the number who attend our schools. It would be better to postpone that kind of thing, which is foolishness at the best, till we have found efficient schooling for the children who are not yet provided for as they ought to be. There are 92,000 children of the school age who are not on the roll of any school. There are very many more who are not on attendance on any efficient school. As to the wonderful dens that are reckoned as schools side by side with first-rate institutions, Mr. Harvey and Mr. Nicolson give abundant, and often very amusing, illustrations. Now then, Sir, for the general result of the qualitative analysis of the three great divisions I have mentioned. Mr. Sellar and his Colleague sum up their interesting and elaborate report in the following words:— The defects in the present system are, want of organization, want of supervision by some competent central authority powerful enough to make its influence felt by every Individual connected with it, and want of thoroughness in the matter of teaching. Those defects can only be cured by wide, vigorous, and careful legislation. The re-organization of the schools in Scotland, and the erection of new schools wherever they are wanted, is not a task to be undertaken unadvisedly. But the task must be undertaken and carried through, if the machinery is ever to be effective. At present, there is no competent authority to initiate, to administer, or to superintend. Schools spring up where they are not required, and there are no schools where they are required. The school apparatus may be adequate, or there may not be a bench to write at, or a black board, or map, throughout the length and breadth of a whole district. The teachers may be good, or they may be utterly incompetent; they may be wealthy men, or they may be starving. They may be under official supervision, or the entire management of the schools may devolve upon themselves, and they may be responsible to no one. The children may attend school or they may not attend, but grow up in absolute ignorance. All these evils are due to want of organization, and suggest the necessity of some central authority to regulate the education of the country. Centralization implies a national system, and when a central board, with the supreme control of education, is established, there is an end of all denominational and miscellaneous systems. And is there any reason why the education of a great country should be kept in an unsatisfactory state, because the clergy and the people are split up into religious sects, who, though they differ in some respects, are at one upon the necessity of education? The country, so far as we could learn from the counties and parishes visited, is all but unanimous in answering that there is no reason. People of every class, and of every religious de nomination, are agreed that Scotland is fully ripe for a national system. Parents of all denominations send their children indiscriminately to schools belonging to different denominations than their own, knowing well that, in doctrine and system, the religious instruction in schools of one denomination does not differ from that given in schools of another, the Roman Catholic schools alone excepted. There is no reason, on religious grounds, why there should not be a national system, and there can be no reason upon any other ground. The small minority who might oppose it consists of a fraction of the present local managers of some of the schools. But the interest of those attending school is of more importance than the wishes or tears of the managers, and nothing thorough can be accomplished except upon some universal plan, which must go beyond the present state of things. Quite similar is the result of the Glasgow investigation: much is being done. Great sacrifices are made, but the outcome of the whole is unsatisfactory. The want of organization is everywhere visible. There is no directing hand, no means of wielding educational appliances for the best interests of education. There is also urgent need for greatly increased school accommodation. At page 130 of Mr. Harvey's report, we read— In a sentence, while the accommodation exceeds by a trifling surplusage the number of children at school, yet were the number of children attending school who ought to be there, the supply would fall short of the demand by 61,973 sittings, or about two-thirds of the whole. Just the same complaints come from the Hebrides—want of organization and uniformity, want of control and supervision, complicated of course by all the evils of extreme poverty, a rude climate, vast distances, stormy seas, and a foreign language. Mr. Sellar's report contains a succinct but extremely clear account of the Scotch Parochial Schools, which, as being unlike anything in England, have often excited the attention of educational reformers in this country, and which, before the Privy Council system was started, gave the poorer classes in Scotland so great an advantage in the race of life over their equals in other parts of the United Kingdom. It will be in the recollection of the House that these schools are supported by an assessment on the land, which is paid by the landlord, who has the right of being relieved by his tenant to the extent of one-half, and are quite independent of voluntary contributions. Their action is supplemented by side schools, as they are called, which are schools of an inferior kind, maintained by the landowners in extensive parishes, where more than one school is required, under an Act of 1803. The Parliamentary Schools, as they are named, which form the third portion of our old national system, as I may call it by distinction from the denominational system which has grown up beside it, were established under an Act of the 1st and 2d of the Queen, c. 87, and are found in the Highlands and Islands. There are only seven-and-twenty in all, so they are not very important. Mr. Sellar found the Parochial Schools in the Lowlands good on the whole, especially in those districts which enjoy the advantages of the Dick Bequest, one of the most happily imagined and best administered charities which could be mentioned. The goodness, however, was rather unequally distributed over the country; and, above all, the number of; their Parochial Schools is altogether too small for the wants of the country. The chief supplemental agencies in the Lowlands are the General Assembly's schools in connection with the Established Church, educating fairly some 33,000 children, and the Free Church schools, educating nearly 49,000 children about as well as the Parochial Schools — in some reports a little better, in some a little worse—but doing this at the cost of a very serious dram on the resources of its adherents, whose pecuniary sacrifices in other ways have been, as all men know, so remarkable. A third supplementary agency is found in the schools of the Christian Knowledge Society, which are connected with the Established Church, but are fewer and less important. The Episcopalian and Roman Catholic schools are few, comparatively, in number—seventy-four of the first in the rural districts throughout Scotland, and sixty-one of the latter. There are also certain not very numerous subscription schools, amongst which the ironwork and colliery schools would seem to be good, as also the schools supported by the ministers and proprietors in different districts. The adventure schools are usually good for nothing, and would seem, as a rule, to do more harm than good. In the large towns we have no parochial schools. Sessional schools, as they are called, supply their place, and it is generally in the towns that the various denominations put forth their strength. It is in the towns that they do most good, and it is in the towns that the spectator is most struck with the frightful waste of power which the denominational system involves. I will not go into a description of the various educational agencies, either in Glasgow and the other towns or in the Hebrides, because, although there are wide differences between them and the educational agencies in the rural parishes of the Lowlands, yet there is a sufficient amount of parallelism between the three to make what I am about to say intelligible, without going into details, and the mass of information put before us by this Commission is so great, that any one who attempts to give the House anything like a sketch of it ought to retrench, as I shall try to do, every superfluous word. The general outcome of a survey of Scotch elementary education is then this:—We have a system which was meant by its founders to be a national one, but which, partly the changes of a religious opinion in Scotland, but above all, the growth of the population, have rubbed off its national character. This system works pretty well so far as it extends, but it does not nearly suffice for the wants of the country. Side by side with it has grown up a denominational system, which does much to supplement its action, but does not do anything like all that is wanted, and, from the very fact of being denominational, cannot do what it does in the best way. How, then, are we to make these two systems co-extensive with the wants of the country? Are we to let things remain as they are? Public opinion would not permit us to do so, even if we would. The necessity to act is great and pressing. We must have a national system before very long. Now, what is a national system? I answer in the words of the Commission—

  1. "1. A national system implies that there shall be some recognised body invested with legal power to establish as many national schools as may be required, and to prevent the establishment of more.
  2. "2. A national system implies that the law should enable the inhabitants of a district to raise by taxation such funds as may be necessary to erect and maintain schools, instead of leaving them to be erected and maintained by voluntary efforts.
  3. "3. A national system implies that the schools shall be public and national; or, in other words, that every parent shall be entitled to claim admittance for his child into any such school, but that, if he objects on religious grounds to any part of the instruction, his objection shall be respected."
Are we, then, by Act of Parliament forthwith to introduce a perfect national system? Are we to buy up the denominational schools, and put them, the Parliamentary and side schools, with all the rest, upon the rates, have them managed by local Committees under the direction of a central board, and take for our motto, 'United secular, separate religious education?' I confess that my own mind very much inclines to the energetic simplicity of that plan. In theory, I hold with the system of the American common schools, or with the nearly related system of Holland, as laid down in the School Law of 1857, the work of great men whose small reputation beyond the limits of their own country shows how much more important in attracting the attention of mankind the pedestal often is, than the statue which stands upon it. It is not, however, a question of decreeing, by the waving of a magic wand, the best imaginable system. The question before us is, what is to be done in the present state of the public mind? I look, however, to the last page of the Report of this Scotch Commission, and there I find attached to proposals, which are far indeed from meeting my views as to what would be abstractedly best, but which would, if carried into effect, produce, not, I think, so great, but still a very great, nay, an enormous improvement upon the present state of things, the names of no less than eighteen persons, all more or less representative men, and belonging to the most diverse sections of opinion. Their agreement leads one to hope that they have really hit upon a plan which will be generally accepted, at all events, by the vast majority of the laity, by large sections of the clergy, and, above all, by those who, having children of the school age, are most directly interested in the matter. What a reasonable man should fight for is to get the people educated somehow—not to obtain a triumph for his own pet theory. The plan of the Commissioners is, not to create a national system out of hand, but to set on foot a process of change which, in not very many years, will give us a national system, and this is the way in which they mean to set about it. First, they propose to leave the parochial, Parliamentary, and side schools pretty much as they are, changing their name, however, and calling them "Old National Schools." Next, they propose to create a Board of Education, which is to have the power of establishing new schools in all localities where they are wanted, to be called "New National Schools," and to be managed by local school Committees; and thirdly, they propose that all the existing denominational schools, not found to be superfluous for their district, which wish to continue to have a share in the Privy Council grants, shall be obliged, within a certain time, to connect themselves with the Board of Education, which will have the power to see that the master is efficient, and that the school buildings are kept in proper repair, retaining their old denominational management for other purposes, as long as the denomination with which they are connected chooses to supply all the funds necessary, except those which are supplied by the Privy Council grant. These will be called "Adopted National Schools." The House will see that the type to which it is proposed to assimilate all the Scotch elementary schools is that of the "New National Schools," and a machinery is provided by which the first and the third, the "Old National Schools" and the "Adopted National Schools" can be turned into "New National Schools," if the heritors in the one case, and the managers in the other, think it expedient. The proposed Board of Education, it should be carefully observed, is to have purely local powers. Its duties will be confined to seeing that every district is properly sup plied with schools, that these schools are maintained as they ought to be, and that the teacher does his duty. The Committee of Council will continue to administer the Parliamentary grant, and to inspect the schools. The privilege of adoption is not to be given to any denominational school which shall not be in existence within two years after the passing of the Act, by which, it is hoped, the new scheme may be carried out, so that it may well be hoped that, within a decade or two, the number of denominational schools may bear quite an insignificant proportion to the national ones. From the very first, these features will be found in every "Old National School," "New National School," or "Adopted National School"—that is, in all schools aided by the Parliamentary grant administered by the Privy Council:—1. They will be visited by an inspector once every year. 2. The inspector may enter and inspect any school to which he may be sent, whatever may be his religious denomination, but he may not examine in religious knowledge unless requested to do so by a majority of the managers. That will be a very great saving of expense to the public, a matter with regard to which some most curious evidence was given by Mr. Lingen. 3. Every National school shall be open to scholars of all denominations, but it shall be declared by statute that any scholars may be withdrawn from any instruction to which his parents may, on religious grounds, object. That will consecrate a great principle, more familiar to the clergy of Scotland, to their honour be it spoken, than to some of those of England. To us in Scotland the idea of there being anything to stumble at in a conscience clause is simply incomprehensible. 4. All National schools will be subject to the Revised Code modified in the manner to which I shall presently refer. That will secure efficiency in the teaching of those humbler departments of knowledge which the State is first of all bound to see to, and, when these are secured, I am sure that means will be found to keep up the honourable ambition of teaching the higher branches which has long distinguished some of the Scotch country schools, I see some of the critics of the report say that this plan of theirs is a compromise which will satisfy nobody. Well, I ask, when did a compromise on any great subject ever satisfy anybody who really cared much about the matters in dispute? Such a compromise, Sir, never satisfies anybody except the great unconcerned careless mass. But in politics that great unconcerned careless mass is simply omnipotent. It lazily inclines to one side or the other, and so, as has been truly said, finally settles all questions. The one reason that makes in favour of adopting the denominational schools which we require, instead of buying them out and out, is the great expense that we should be involved in by this latter operation. There are nearly 1,500 of these schools which derive aid from the Parliamentary grant, and the sum annually contributed towards their maintenance by voluntary subscribers is £42,000. These 1,500 schools form, be it observed, merely a portion of the whole mass of denominational schools. There are 2,408 schools in the rural districts alone, supported by denominational or individual effort, so that the public, if it is first to acquire these schools, and then to keep them up, is entering upon a very large operation indeed. If the country is prepared for this, by nil means let us do it—it would be a far simpler and better plan than the one which the Commissioners propose; but is the country prepared for it? To elicit a reply to that question is one of my motives for bringing forward this subject to-night. The question now arises, would the amount of rate required to supply elementary education to all that portion of the population which needs it be anything very enormous? The Commissioners, after entering into a very careful calculation of the existing educational resources, and of what would be wanted, come to the conclusion that, even if the voluntary subscriptions were quite to cease, which they will not do, the required number of efficient schools and teachers may be provided by levying a maximum rate of 2d. in the pound in rural districts and in most of the towns, and of 2½d. in Glasgow, the Western Isles, and some of the largest towns. That is, of course, in addition to the sum now raised by assessment on the heritors, which amount at present to nearly £48,000 a year. For a nation which owes so much to education as Scotland, the additional effort required to bear a rate of 2d. or 2½d. in the pound would not appear to be one of a very deadly character. The Commissioners, it must be remembered, have not merely drawn up resolutions, but have proposed a draft bill, which seems to me quite sufficient for its purpose, and which I and, I think, other Scotch Members, whose views, be it observed, are not by any means fully carried out by the Bill, would, nevertheless, most cordially support, if brought in as it stands. Amendments in detail could easily be made. I have now, Sir, tried to make as clear as I could to the House the broad general results of the Commissioners' investigations, and the outlines of the plan by which they propose to remedy the existing evils and imperfections. There are, however, certain other matters which create great interest in Scotland, as to which they have made recommendations, and of them I wish to say something, chiefly with a view to call out the opinions of other Members, for which I know the Government is very anxious. First, there is the tenure by which the parochial schoolmasters now hold their offices—ad vitam aut culpam. The effect of this tenure is that it is the most difficult thing in the world to get rid of an inefficient schoolmaster. The Commissioners propose that this tenure should be abolished in all future appointments, and that, subject to the approval of the Board of Education, facilities should be afforded for getting rid of inefficient schoolmasters now in office, great care of course being taken to do nothing harsh or capricious. This proposal will naturally cause some dissatisfaction amongst the persons likely to be affected by it, but no good schoolmaster can possibly be injured, and there is no reason why the advantage of the rising generation should be sacrificed to the comfort of bad schoolmasters. Care and central authority are the necessary safeguards. Secondly, there is the question of the Revised Code. All Members connected with Scotland, and some who are not, must be aware of the fact that the Revised Code has been only partially introduced into Scotland. The Commissioners had to consider whether it was to be introduced in its entirety, and if not, how it should be modified. Into these questions they go at great length, and arrive at the conclusion that the leading principle of the Revised Code, payment by results, as ascertained by individual examination, has, so far as it has been tried, worked well in Scotland, and ought to be finally adopted, with certain modifications. The chief of these is the omission of Article 4, which excludes children who belong to a class above that which supports itself by manual labour, from earning any of the Parliamentary grant for their school. I think all who are acquainted with Scotland will agree that here the Commissioners are right. In that country, as in America, the idea of a common school struck deep root generations ago, and it must not be forgotten that, for now nearly 200 years, the proprietors in Scotland, in the rural districts, have been taxed for the support of the elementary schools. No peculiar privilege is claimed for Scotland; it is only the essential difference between the system of the South and the North which is recognised. Here, the Privy Council aids voluntary efforts; beyond the border it aids a compulsory local taxation, which the Commissioners propose largely to increase. One of the complaints commonly made against the Revised Code is that its tendency is to discourage the teaching of the higher branches. I am happy to say that we have in this Report some important evidence the other way. "Of the higher branches, as they are styled, of middle class education," says Mr. Scougall, "it may be stated as a general rule that they are found in the best condition in those schools that, all circumstances considered, pass the individual examination most creditably." Mr. Sellar's 6th chapter is full of intelligent observation on the effect of the Revised Code on the higher studies, and he mentions a suggestion which seems to me extremely worthy of being followed up—namely, to re-organize the schools in such a manner that, in every district, there should be one school of a superior kind established, which should be intermediate between the National schools and the Universities. I would add that deserving teachers might be promoted to be teachers in these schools, and a system of exhibitions might be created, which might help the more deserving children to continue at these schools till they could compete for bursaries at the Universities, I hope the Commons will consider this subject when they are dealing, as they must immediately deal, with the middle or secondary schools, which are, as I have said, also included in their Commission. Of course the higher you can make the education in your elementary schools, consistently with securing its universality, so much the better; but it is obvious that the necessity of the parochial schools giving a high education is, in these days of easy communication, far smaller than it was. Thirdly, there is the retention of the whole management of the parochial or "Old National Schools" in the hands of the minister and heritors. I confess that a somewhat more popular system of election, say Mr. A. Black's, or something of that sort, letting in the tenants and small proprietors, would seem to me better; but, if this is an essential part of the compromise, I would not wish to interfere with it. Fourthly, there is the change in the law which is proposed to enable the Board to make heritors maintain school buildings in proper repair. That is reasonable, and the largely representative character of the Board will prevent the power being abused. Fifthly, there is the constitution of the central Board. Is it to be, as proposed, largely representative, or is it to be entirely nominated? I incline decidedly to the former opinion; but the matter is, of course, worth discussion. Sixthly, should the schoolmasters be examined as the parochial schoolmasters now are, by the University examiners, after appointment; or, as the Commissioners recommend, before appointment? I have received from a very distinguished Scotch professor a letter pointing out some objections to the latter plan, and should like to Lear it discussed. It seems to me the change proposed would lead eventually to the system which, I think, prevails in Holland — the appointment of teachers by competitive examinations. I do not see any harm in that; but probably it was not intended. Much valuable evidence has been collected as to the period at which children should begin to attend school, and as to the earliest age at which they can with propriety leave it. The importance of this subject is, as the Commissioners observe, very great, because any attempt at school legislation must fail, if legislators do not take into account the period of life which can be spared for educational purposes without requiring too great sacrifices. It is found that education begins later in Scotland than in England, although somewhat earlier than it used to do, and the tendency to begin betimes is increasing. It is found, likewise, that, as children go sooner to school, so also they leave it sooner; and the more the schools are improved — the quicker, that is, that the children acquire the rudiments of knowledge — the sooner are they taken away. If our system is to be universal, we must not aim at too much, and it will be well, perhaps, to contemplate the removal of the children of the labouring class from school between ten and twelve years of age. It seems to be pretty well ascertained that, at ten years old, an ordinary child will be able to spell common words correctly, be able to write an intelligible letter, to read the newspapers, and to make out or test a shop bill. In connection with this subject the Commissioners express their opinion that we ought to have more infant schools in Scotland, where such institutions are rarer than in England. They think also that night schools should be encouraged, and that the rule of the Committee of Council which obliges night schools, if they would be assisted, to be in connection with day schools, ought to be relaxed. Supposing, however, additional facilities for educating the poorest class are given, will parents avail themselves of them? The Commissioners say "Yes;" and they point out that there is not now sufficient accommodation in efficient schools for all the children who are in attendance at establishments, all of which are called by courtesy, schools. Mr. Mitchell, a very experienced inspector, observed some years ago with reference to the complaint of the indifference of parents to the education of their children— When I look at the actual instruction too frequently offered in the schools for the working classes, I can only rejoice that parents are so sensible, for more complete waste of time than one too frequently grieves over in these schools it is hardly possible to imagine. It is very gratifying to observe that the more efficient a school is, the more do the parents at least generally show themselves inclined to avail themselves of it. Of course, however, there is a large residuum, with which it is very difficult to deal, and this leads the Commissioners to discuss the question of compulsory education. They do not, nevertheless, make any definite recommendation upon that subject, thinking that it would be premature to do so until a sufficient number of efficient schools is in operation. They collect, however, a good deal of information with regard to the necessity of extending the application of the educational clauses of the Factory Acts, and show, amongst other things, the scandalous manner in which the Printworks Act and the Mines' Inspection Act are evaded. It would be well if the attention of the Lord Advocate were directed to the last few pages of the fifth chapter of this Report, and means taken to bring to justice some of the fraudulent persons therein alluded to. It is evident from many passages in Mr. Harvey's report on Glasgow, that the application of a very stringent educational test to children seeking employment would be warmly supported in many quarters. It would be felt as a severe provision only by a class on which the Legislature need not look too leniently—the class which habitually neglects its own children. The Privy Council system fails, it is often remarked, in reaching the most destitute districts. Of course, in a country whose wealth is so unequally distributed over the soil, as in Scotland, this comes out very prominently. Thus in the rural districts of Edinburgh, where the valuation is about £8 per head, nearly half the children at school are in schools aided by the Privy Council, while in Shetland, where the valuation is about £1 per head, the number of children in aided schools is only 10 per cent. Again, in Glasgow, and the other great towns, this discrepancy is very striking comparatively. Out of 300,000 population on the north side of Glasgow, 25 per cent are on the roll of aided schools; while out of 82,000 on the poorer south side, there are only 10 per cent in aided schools. The notion of extending the Privy Council system so as to make it commensurate with the wants of the country, was abandoned by the Commissioners as utterly hopeless and impracticable; and it must be remembered that in the destitute districts of Scotland, especially in the Hebrides, the subscriptions are very exceptionably large and liberal. If, Sir, we can arrive at some agreement about a national system for Scotland, either by adopting the plan of the Commissioners, or any more liberal modification of it, this Parliament will deserve long to be remembered in the northern part of this kingdom. Next year, I presume, our burgh schools, and, perhaps, the great endowments like Heriot's and Donaldson's Hospitals, will be reported on, and I trust some plan may be arrived at, which, while it will have no tendency to raise mere average ability out of the sphere in which it is born, may give every boy of really superior ability, even if born in the depths of poverty, in every National school in Scotland, an opportunity of pushing his way from one grade of education to another, aided by the State, so that the country may not lose the chance of the services, in some form or other, of whatever talent is produced within her borders. Depend upon it, that, in the increasingly close competition between civilized nations, we shall need it all. In connection with our burgh schools, very important questions will arise as to modifications of the system of studies pursued in them. I venture to prophesy that many of these schools will be found doing the work which they profess to do very effectively indeed; but I venture also to express an opinion, which I have often expressed before, that the whole scope of our secondary teaching, both Scotch and English, requires to be re-considered. When Parliament has put our elementary and our burgh schools on a proper footing, it will be time to call its attention to the position of our Universities, which was recently laid before the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government, by the Duke of Buccleuch, my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, and a very large number of persons of all shades of politics, who, while they pointed out to him that much was being done for our Universities by private efforts, and much more was likely to be done in the same way, also showed very clearly that justice and policy alike required that a further contribution should be made by the State to the endowments of our professorships. At present, however, Sir, we are asking for no assistance, except assistance in the task of enabling us largely to tax our selves. I trust that, before this discussion closes, hon. Members from Scotland will show that they are perfectly prepared to do this, and I will only say, in conclusion, that I hope Her Majesty's Government will tell us that it fully recognizes the great importance, and, above all, the urgency of this matter. I beg to ask the noble Lord opposite the question of which I have given him notice.


was sorry he was unable to give a very precise answer to that question. The Report of the Scotch Education Commissioners had not been upon the table of the House a month; it consisted of eight octavo volumes, besides a volume of statistics. Considering the extreme importance of the question, involving, as it did, not only the destinies of Scotland, but probably those of England also (for the Report of the Commissioners was intimately connected with the Education Bill for England, now before the House);—considering the voluminous nature of the Report, the numerous subjects engaging the attention of the Government during the turmoil of the Session, and the difficulties of the Reform Bill—it was too much to expect that the Government could in one month maturely weigh that important and intricate question of Scotch Education. It would be treating the momentous subject too lightly, it would be villipending the talent shown in the Report, and esteeming too little the character and weight of the Commissioners who made it if the Government presumed to form an opinion upon the matter as early as this. It would be better if the hon. Member would let the matter rest at present instead of pressing for immediate legislation, and remain content with the promise that during the comparative quiet of the winter months the Government would most earnestly consider the whole subject, and endeavour as far as possible to meet the views of the Scotch Members and Scotch people. The Government, however, was naturally anxious to ascertain the opinion of Scotch Members upon the subject, which they could learn only by discussion in the House; and by that means also the opinion of the country would be ascertained. People did not study blue books; but they read the debates in Parliament, and a debate on the subject might lead to discussion and the formation of a definite opinion out of doors. He prefaced his consideration of the observations of the hon. Member by saying that it was in no captious spirit that he endeavoured to expose the weak points of the scheme; he did not desire to carp at the Report, although he would mention a few primâ facie objections which a cursory perusal of it had raised in his mind. He did so in order that the friends of the hon. Member might seek to remove the objections and correct any misapprehensions which might exist; thus would the Government be assisted and guided in arriving at sound conclusions on the subject. The scheme of the Commissioners was doubtless very captivating on account of its beautiful symmetry and rigid uniformity. "Organization" and "Energetic simplicity" seemed to have a charm for the hon. Member's mind. Education in Scotland on the other hand was most heterogeneous; elementary and advanced teaching were carried on in the same school; primary and secondary schools were jumbled together; spelling and pothooks were being studied at the same desk with the poets Horace and Homer. It was no wonder if the Commissioners, carried away by a desire for symmetry, should have been led to sacrifice at the shrine of that sentiment some real and substantial good which now existed. There was, he confessed, a difference between the circumstances of England and Scotland. In England education generally proceeded from the clergy; in Scotland the initiative was taken by the people. The clergy were the high pressure steam in the former; in the latter, education depended more upon the desire of the people. The scheme supported by the hon. Member would increase the differences which existed. It would do so, first, from its antagonism to the principle of the Revised Code, The principle of the Revised Code was that voluntary action should precede State aid. It was local desire now which evoked the assistance of the Government. The locality had to initiate: the people must first appreciate the value of education before the State would extend the hand to give the proffered boon. But according to the Commissioners' scheme a Central Board was to take the initiative, to issue its decrees for the building of schools, and for levying a rate to pay for the maintenance of them. Secondly, the difference between the two countries would be made far wider, in that in Scotland, rating was to be substituted for the funds which now supported education in that country. The hon. Member might perhaps answer that, in the rural districts, the schools had for 200 years been supported by a rate. That was not the case. Let not the House be misled by a word; let them rather consider the reality. Every kind of impost was pro ratô. Taxes were pro ratô; rates were pro ratô; and tithes and dues were pro ratô. Wherein lay the differences between these species of impost? Let the hon. Member consider that question, and then he could point out the one which supplied the funds for the support of the schools he had mentioned. Taxes were imposed year by year, and the imposition of them always caused much discussion and dispute; they varied in quantity year by year, as circumstances might require; they were imposed by the representatives of the people who paid them, and were administered by a power foreign to the people—namely, the Crown or Executive. Rates were also levied year by year, caused much wrangling and bitterness when imposed, and were of variable amount as circumstances required; they were imposed by the representatives of those who paid, and were also administered by the representatives of the people who paid them. This "popular management," as it was called, constituted the essential difference between rates and taxes (for both had originally been locally imposed). Tithes and dues, on the other, were imposed once for all, either by Act of Parliament or by the Crown, or by gift and immemorial custom. Consequently, there was no wrangling and bickering and dispute concerning them every year, and the amount of them was constant. They were not imposed by the persons who paid them; and they were administered by those who received them. Now, let the hon. Member say by which of these species of imposts education in Scotland has hitherto been supported? By dues. Till this time education in Scotland has been established just as the Church is established; and it has been maintained as the Church is maintained. But the Commissioners would substitute rates for dues, the second species for the third, with all the yearly wrangling and disputing, with the variations and diminutions in amount, with the popular management or mismanagement which is inherent to rates. Education in Scotland has been supported by a sort of tithes which were imposed by an Order in Council of Charles I., in 1616; and the system then established had continued ever since. [Mr. GRANT DUFF: NO, no!] The Act of 1861 had left the system essentially the same, and he contended that education in Scotland was supported by funds raised in exactly the same way as the funds which maintained the Established Church. The third point of difference which would be created was the following:—Up to this time the schools of Scotland had always been connected with a religious body, and were purely denominational; but it was proposed to sweep away the denominational system altogether. The hon. Member had said that the "denominational character was accidental, and of late date." But what did he find at p. 108 of the Report? It is notorious that in most cases the management rests practically with the minister of the parish. If so, no system could be more denominational. Yet the Commissioners openly and avowedly laboured to put an end to the denominational character. As he had already said, the system was established by King Charles I., in 1616. By that Order in Council it became incumbent on the heritors to maintain one school and one schoolmaster in every parish. After the dynasty of the Stuarts had been subverted, in 1696, the Order in Council was embodied in an Act of Parliament, and thus placed on a firmer basis. But from that day the schools had virtually remained under the superintendence of the Established Church and the management of the clergy of the parish, and they were visited by the local presbytery. When the Free Church schism took place the members of the Free Church built their own schools, and these schools were placed under the superintendence of the Free Church, and were managed by the Free Church clergy and visited by the Free Church presbytery. No similar enactment, however, was properly extended to Glasgow and the large towns. Now, what was the result of that system? In Glasgow the number of children of the school age was 98,767, and the daily attendance was 35,565, leaving 63,202 who did not attend school. In Glasgow 1 in 9.6 of the population were on the school books. The difference between Glasgow and the rural districts was very marked, for in the latter 1 in 6.5 were on the books and the attendance was 1 in 7.9—a higher state of education than in any other part of the habitable globe. In the insular districts, while 1 in 7.5 was on the books, the attendance was 1 in 9.7. In Selkirkshire the proportion was wonderfully high—1 in 5.4; while in Shetland it was correspondingly low—1 in 14.2. According to the Report of the Duke of Newcastle's Commission it was considered the perfection of education if 1 in 6 of the population were undergoing education. Yet Selkirkshire went far beyond even this; while the average of all the rural districts in Scotland was very near to perfection. The Commissioners asserted that Scotland was separated into three divisions which were so entirely distinct in their character that they must be dealt with quite differently. It followed that a scheme which might suit one of them would not be adapted to the remaining two. But if, as they themselves assert, we must be careful to provide for the peculiarities of each district, how can any plan be invented which would be suitable for all? The first of those divisions included the large towns, the second the Lowlands, and the third the Highlands and islands. With the difference between these divisions fully acknowledged, the Commissioners were so led away by their love of symmetry as to force a uniform system on the whole of the country. This infinite variety which must, in the nature of things, exist throughout every country, was the reason why, in accordance with the Revised Code, we always waited upon the manifestation of local effort, in order that we might adapt our gift to the local character. Not only, however, did this variety exist in the country as a whole, but the same was to be remarked in the case of the towns themselves. Each town and each portion of a town had its peculiarities and different requirements. Blythswood was a district of Glasgow, which was described by the Commissioners as "the richest and most fashionable quarter" of Glasgow. "Only on the outskirts does it come in contact with comparative poverty." In that district every school was classed as good. There was efficient school accommodation for 6,243 scholars, which exceeds the total number of children between three and fifteen in the district. And 1 in 6.6 of the population were on the roll of some school— It follows, of course (the Commissioners continue) that the state of education in this district of the city is perfectly satisfactory, and requires no improvement. In the remaining districts of the town, however, where the population was poorer, out of a population of 366,806, there was sufficient school accommodation for only 30,551, no less than 61,973 children being without any educational provision. Blythswood was rich in value, and scant in poor population. Those districts which suffer educational destitution were poor in value, with a numerous population. It was impossible by Act of Parliament to redress the inequalities of nature and civilization. The same thing might be observed in the counties. Where the value was high and the population somewhat concentrated the education was good. But where the locality was poor it could not afford to build many schools, And if the poor lived far apart, they could not all reach the school, and therefore the education was necessarily deficient. Nor was the case altered where the poor were congregated together in large masses, as was the fact in the manufacturing districts, unless the locality could afford to build and maintain many schools. Thus we see that in Shetland, where the population was scattered, and which was poor in value, the state of education was very low. In Sutherlandshire there were large sheep walks, while the people were gathered in fishing villages. There the education was good. In the rich agricultural counties of Selkirkshire and Peebles it was excellent. It appeared that the number and attendance of scholars varied conjointly with the value per head, and the moderate concentration of the population. Now, with regard to the parochial system, the Commissioners themselves allowed that it had succeeded in the rural districts. The Commissioners said— It appears that the mass of the Scottish population in the rural districts have received the elements of education. This is precisely the result which ought to be obtained by any efficient system of national education; and it is the result which has been obtained in Scotland where the parochial system has been tested."—[p. cvii.] And they made the following "recommendation:"— The most desirable and, in point of principle, the simplest course would be the extension of the parochial system, on its original model, and on a scale proportioned to the whole population. Where the system had not been extended, the hon. Member himself confessed, and the Commissioners confessed, that its defects had been supplied by the voluntary or the denominational system. With that system the Commissioners hesitated to recommend any interference, because the result would be to impose taxation for a new school upon a district which was already adequately supplied with efficient school accommodation. It would be interfering with a property which persons had created, and which Parliament had endowed. And as the avowed object of every denominational school was to spread the religious views of the promoters, it would be most intolerant to forbid the denominational system, and forcibly to prevent any sect from attempting to spread their own opinions. The Commissioners, however, proposed that no school which was under the denominational or voluntary system should be competent to receive money from the rates, nor even from Parliamentary grants, unless it became adopted into their scheme; while the parochial schools were, by the Act, to be forced under the regulations of the Central Board, which might at any moment compel the inhabitants to discharge their schoolmaster, or even to pull down their school and erect another in its stead; and then the parochial schools might continue to receive the Privy Council grants, but no aid from the rates, until they were starved into an adherence with the scheme. The complaint urged against the Scottish system was that it was unequal and unevenly distributed and wanting in symmetry and uniformity. The hon. Member evidently desired the establishment of an "energetic simplicity" and arbitrary "centralization," such as that referred to in the following extract from the Report (p. xciv.):— 1. A national system implies that there shall be some recognized body invested with legal power to establish as many national schools as may be required, and to prevent the establishment of more. 2. A national system implies that the law shall enable the inhabitants of a district to raise by taxation such funds as may be necessary to erect and maintain schools, instead of leaving them to be erected and maintained by voluntary efforts. He was willing to admit that the complaint held good in the towns; he allowed that the parochial system had failed in towns. There, it was true, more schools were wanting. Why was that? Precisely because the parochial system had not been extended to the towns. And why had it not? Because the towns and the country were essentially distinct, and that which suited the one would not be adapted to the other. No symmetrical and uniform plan would suit the whole of any country. Yet even in the towns the fault did not lie in want of accommodation for the children; but in the non-attendance of the children at the schools. Thus, in Glasgow, which was taken as the sample of all Scotch towns, the Commissioners said— The schools of all descriptions supply accommodation for less than one-half the children of school age, but for more than the number who attend school."—[p. lv.] With regard to the Lowlands, also, they said, "The accommodation is greater than the demand."—[p. xxv.] There is— An average accommodation provided in each school for seventy-four; there are sixty-nine children on the roll, and fifty-six in attendance. It must, however, be recollected that the fact of there being so large an average of non-attendance on the part of the children on the school-roll did not mean that certain children on the roll never attended, but merely that every day a fluctuating number were absent. If the daily average were four-fifths; this would mean that, of every 100, twenty children were absent today, and twenty absent to-morrow; yet the same twenty need not be absent every day. What, then, was the cause of the non-attendance of children? In the first place, there were certain children for whom no system could be answerable; and therefore for whom no system could be blamed. The young "Arabs" of our streets could not be caught and kept in school unless they were fed there and clothed, because they had to pick up their living by selling lucifer matches, running errands, or doing other odd jobs. If such children were compelled to attend school they must be fed as well as taught. Another cause was called "the claims of labour," or "the selfishness of parents." In rural districts, as soon as a child could scream loud enough to frighten the crows, he could earn 6d. a day. This would suffice to relieve his parents from the biting rigour of poverty, and the sharp tooth of hunger. It was especially the case in the poor districts which suffered educational destitution. It was as true of the towns as of the rural districts. The Report said— Another cause [of the deficient school attendance] is the great demand in Glasgow for the labour of children within the school age, combined with the undue eagerness of parents to use the labour of their children as a means of gain, and their indifference and apathy as regards education."—[p. lix.] With regard to the rural districts, this ability of the children to earn wages was designated as— Unquestionably the most powerful motive which induces parents to withdraw their children from school. This was assigned as the cause of deficient attendance. Was that cause removable by any system whatever?— It seems vain to contend against the demands of labour and the necessities of existence."—[p. cxix.] The real causes which produce this effect may be thus explained:—Considering that the children earn from 1s. 6d. to 2s. a week, it is evident that this must be so great a relief to the parents as to render it almost hopeless that they can with stand it, &c."—[p. clx.] The greatest cause, however, of the non-attendance was to be found in the apathy and indifference of the parents. We gave the machine; but we expected the poor to find the power to work it. This apathy arose from a want of education in the parents, which caused them not to appreciate the value of it; they did not see the necessity for the education of their children, And how could this evil be removed? only by patiently educating as far as we are able; until in the lapse of years a new generation shall have become parents, the majority of whom will be educated. The Commissioners state that— The apathy and carelessness of the less educated parents is a cause of deficient attendance."—[p. xxv.] And— The demand for the education of their children corresponds to the state of the education of the parents."—[p. xxiv.] The fact seems to be that parents really desirous of having their children educated will send them to any school rather than to none. Parents, on the other hand, of the class described in the extract from the Report on the Clyde district, will send their children to no school; and it is with the children of parents of this latter description that the great difficulty lies."—[p. lx.] In rural parishes we find the same cause at work. There also we have to contend against the apathy and selfishness of parents. This evil is universal. It is independent of system or place; it is to be found everywhere, under every system; for it is inherent in human nature. Let it be concluded, therefore, that educational destitution arises from causes which the Commissioners do not and cannot touch; because they are beyond the reach of any system of education. Now let us consider the remedies which they have proposed. Let it be borne in mind that the accommodation is greater than the demand; and that all which is required is that the children should attend school. The remedy which the Commissioners propose, is to supply a greater accommodation. By what means would they effect this purpose? First, by compulsion end a powerful central authority which should crush all opposition. They say— The defects in the present system are want of organization, want of supervision by some competent central authority, powerful enough to make its influence felt by every individual connected with it. … At present there is no competent authority to initiate, to administer, or to superintend. … The children may attend school or they may not attend, but grow up in absolute ignorance. All these evils are due to want of organization, and suggest the necessity of some central authority to regulate the education of the country. Centralization implies a national system, and when a Central Board with the supreme control of education is established, there is an end of all denominational and miscellaneous systems."—[p. xliv.] Authority should be deposited somewhere, by which the inhabitants of a district shall be compelled to build and maintain efficient schools."—[p. exxxviii.] It is proposed to constitute a Board, with power to establish as many schools as may be required. These schools are to be supported by taxes levied upon the property of the districts."—[p. cviii.] Until the present time we had been taught to rely on voluntary efforts and not upon compulsion. Even the Commissioners themselves pointed out the real want and the proper remedy. They said— After all, the real point to be arrived at is, that each parent should co-operate with the philanthropist in sending his child regularly to school; in other words, the ignorant parent, who knows not the value of education, must be instructed; the apathetic parent, who may know his duty in this respect but neglects to perform it, must be awakened. The only agents who can accomplish this work are the schoolmasters, the clergy, the landlords, and the great employers of labour."—[p. cxxxviii.] Again— The clergy are the only class of persons who take a systematic and practical interest in the schools. The second means which the Commissioners propose is the rating system. Let the House bear in mind the distinction between school dues and school rates. It is by the former that education in Scotland has as yet been supported. Let the House also remember that the chief cause of educational destitution is apathy or indifference. Will this be removed by a rating system? or by the common school system of America, which seems to be the idol of the hon. Member? As Lord Brougham once remarked, it would render education hateful to the people. As the schoolmaster walked up and down, he would be marked as the man who had brought into the parish the yearly imposition of a rate, with all its attendant wrangling, bitterness, and animosity. In England we had but a slight taste of it in the acrimony of church rate contests. In America (according to Mr. Fraser) the Northern portion of a district hated the South, while the middle differed from both; so that the schoolmaster had to struggle on in poverty, until the misery of his life drove him away from the place. This naturally produced indifference towards education. The same effect followed on the rating system in Germany. Mr. Pattison reported— It must also be stated that the attitude of large parts of the population towards the school is one of apathy and indifference."—[Report, p. 201.] In Ohio the school law enacts that the Board of Education for each township shall impose a rate to maintain the schools, yet "in several townships no local tax whatever is assessed for tuition purposes." (Ohio, 11th Report, 1865.) The number of such delinquent districts is 2,040, or 20 per cent of the whole. Again— The great want of the schools is interest on the part of the community, particularly the more influential part. … The teachers struggle on alone, cut off from external aid and sympathy."—[Connecticut Report, 1865.] The Pennsylvania Report speaks of "the withdrawal of children from the public schools," consequent on their general indifference. The following was an extract from Mr. Eraser's report relating to Upper Canada, where the rating system had also been tried:— Were trustees, in general, men who took an interest in schools, and men who were really competent to discharge their duties, there would be no room for complaint. As it is, however, (and more especially in rural districts) we not unfrequently find men holding the office who do not enter the school more than once a year, and whose limited education unfits them for taking any part in its public examinations, and consequently for forming any correct opinion either as to the competence of the teacher or the progress of the school."—[Report p. 220, Canada School Report for 1863.] The hon. Member had said, that voluntary efforts would not cease when rating commenced; and the Commissioners themselves said they would cease as soon as any general system were introduced. It was natural that this should be so. For if rates were levied, the man who subscribed would be paying twice over. Thus rating would be very deleterious. For voluntary effort was far more valuable than the money obtained by rates; because voluntary effort created a local interest in the schools. In Scotland voluntary effort had raised denominational schools, and supplied the defects due to local causes. If you have a general system and the dead weight of a rating law, you will have a dull uniformity, unfitted to local variety and wanting in local interest. The rate hitherto had been paid half by the heritor and half by the occupier. This it was proposed to continue; but the whole rate would now, ultimately, come out of the pocket of the landowner; for it would go in diminution of the rent. Do you suppose that the rate goes to increase the price of the produce, so that it comes eventually out of the pocket of the consumer? Until lately this might have been so. But now a severe competition with foreign markets prevents prices from rising, and therefore it must take effect at the other end, and go in diminution of rent. Thus for the sake of a national advantage you propose to tax one class. And yet the management was to be enjoyed equally by the landowner and the occupier. Then, again, it must be remembered that more than half our supplies were the produce of other countries. If therefore you tax only real property and not personal property, you let all the richest persons escape. Mr. Nassau Senior saw this, and said that rating must be imposed not on real property alone, but on personal property also. So also said Sir J. Kay-Shuttleworth. The Scotch Commissioners themselves allowed as much, for they said— But if every local ratepayer is bound to contribute towards the erection and maintenance of schools which shall be open to all, is there any reason why the general taxpayer should not contribute upon the same principle."—[p. cviii.] Mr. Fraser in his Report said, that the school rate or tax was imposed on real as well as on personal property; and in Canada the rate was levied off all property, real and personal, and not on any one or more kinds of property in any different proportion from the rest. The hon. Member, however, had urged that large towns and places which were poor and populous were ill supplied with schools. In those places the poor rate was very heavy. What was the remedy proposed? Why to put on another rate, and thereby to increase the poverty. He now came to one of the modern notions connected with ratepaying; he meant that of popular management. It was supposed to be a necessity that those who paid should also have the administration of the funds or management of the expenditure. The maxim was thus stated—"He who pays the piper may choose the tune." For the present he would not stop to inquire whether popular management were a good thing. The hon. Member would reply, that according to modern notions of legislation, this was a necessity. Was it so? Take the Navy Vote. Did the Mayor and Corporation of Portsmouth administer the vote? Did even the representatives of the people who paid the money administer that vote? "No," he would say "but the people elect representatives who determine what the amount of the expenditure shall be." Precisely. But the Commissioners in this case proposed the very contrary; the ratepayers were not to elect the Board which was to determine how many schools should be built and maintained, and how great the expenditure was to be; yet the ratepayers were to administer the funds which were obtained. Therefore this scheme was directly opposed to the maxims of modern legislation. Until now, the ministry of the parishes had virtually had the whole management of the schools. They were to be ousted from the management for no fault of their own, but merely in order to square with an inordinate love of symmetry. What did the Commissioners say upon the point of popular management?— If it be granted that local supervision of some sort is necessary, it cannot be in better hands than those of the minister. … He is superior in position to the teacher, and in education to the parents; and is likely to be above the reach of local prejudices—a very important point in country communities — and is likely to deal equitably and impartially with all parties."—[p. xxxii.] In whom did local prejudices exist, then, except in the ratepayers? Local prejudices were assumed to prevail; for the Commissioners spoke so deprecatingly concerning them. What were those local prejudices, but the opinions of the ratepayers? Then again— The heritors for the most part desire honestly to get the best man they can [as a teacher] for their own school; and by their position and education they are removed above the influence of local prejudices and village politics and animosities."—[p. xxxi.] Those local prejudices were spoken of as so baneful to the cause of education. Let us therefore consider for a moment some of the evils which arise where local prejudices have sway. Mr. Fraser, after speaking of the extreme lowness of teachers' salaries in America, so that the best of them with draw, and the schools are crippled, quoted the Connecticut Report of 1865, as follows:— The employment of new, and especially inexperienced, teachers, and of constantly changing them from term to term, which is caused in part by a desire to get teachers that are cheap, is operating very much to the disadvantage of our schools. … Not a single district has retained its teachers for two successive terms. In German schools it was found that the salaries of teachers were cut down beyond measure; hence the Rescript of March 6, 1852, which caused a minimum salary to be fixed for each commune. And afterwards, by the regulations of October 15, 1858, the powers of the local Boards were virtually superseded altogether. From these Rescripts we might gather the judgment of Prussia on the effects of local management of the school rates. Then as to the building of schools under this system: one would suppose that by parity of reasoning those who paid the rates should determine the number of schools to be built. The Commissioners even asserted (p. cviii.) that the ratepayers must be the best judges of what schools would be required. Yet they proposed that the Central Board should decide what schools were to be built if one-third of the ratepayers did not dissent. If more than two-thirds did dissent, yet the Board might renew its decree the following year, and the building of those schools would then be taken altogether out of the hands of the ratepayers, who would have no further to do in the matter than to pay the expenses. Surely this was not local government; this was not self-government, but a central despotism and arbitrary confiscation of property. Then as to the maintenance of schools when built, the object of the ratepayers would be to cut down expense. The teacher therefore would suffer, in that his salary would be exposed to frequent reductions. According to the New York Report for 1865, teachers were paid wages as low as 7s. a week during the session of the school, which was only twenty-four weeks in the year. By such a system, therefore, we should be substituting an inferior article under the same name of "Education." Ratepayers used to manage the highways; they did it so badly that Lord Palmerston's Government took the matter out of their hands. "Bumbledom" managed the poor so badly, that last year there was a loud outcry against vestries. Why should we hand over education to "Bumbledom" to be destroyed? "But (you say), if we trust to subscriptions, the burden falls so unequally." Well, but rates will not equalize the burden. In a place which is poor but populous, that is where the value per head is small, and the educational destitution great, there the rate must be large. In a place which is rich in value and sparse in population, the rate would be small. So that the poor place would be heavily rated, while the rich place would not feel the burden. The incidence, therefore, would be very unfair. Again, rating is but a step to compulsory education. If a school were built by all, it must be large enough for all. The next thing would be, that all must be forced to go to it, or else there would be a needless waste. A person without any children might have to pay the education rate. He would ask why he should have to do so? "Because it was necessary for the welfare of the State and the interests of society that all should be educated, and that none should run wild in the streets." Then he would say—"I demand that, in the name of those same interests of society and welfare of the State, all should be educated, and that none should run wild in the streets." That which justified the tax, justified compulsion. Schools were a means to an end. Each person paid for the end, and therefore that end must be secured to him. The State had no right to take A's money to educate B's children, unless the end were guaranteed to him. Compulsory support was compulsory attendance. What were the consequences of this theory? Compulsory education was either right or wrong in principle. If right, it must be compulsory on all, the rich as well as the poor; and therefore the Commissioners very logically said that a rate must be raised for the education, not only of the poor, but of the rich also. Did it not seem monstrous that money should be raised by a local rate to pay for the education of the rich who could pay for themselves? The other necessary consequence was the establishment of a Central Board. If Government had to force schools to be built, then it must see that they were efficiently maintained; and thus we were at once plunged into centralization. To that point the Commissioners had arrived. In the United States the same theory had brought them to the same goal. Mr. Fraser quoted from the New York Report of 1865, as follows:— Would it not be better for the State to take the matter of educating its children in hand, district the territory, build the school houses, employ and pay the teachers, and then compel the attendance of the children as they do in Germany? Would it not be economy? Could not the monies now received … be more judiciously expended, and furnish much better teachers and schools than we now have? I am inclined to believe that with the same expenditure, in the hands of a competent educational bureau, our common schools could be improved 100 per cent."—[Fraser's Report, p. 29.] And yet be it remembered that the compulsory education law of America had signally failed. Mr. Fraser said—"The Compulsory Law stands almost as a dead letter on the statute book." The people will not stand it, unless they fully appreciate the value of education, and if they do appreciate the value of education, such a law can never be required. The object was to remove educational destitution. Rates would never effect this purpose. A priori you might expect that they would do so; experience had shown that they would not. Felix quem faciunt aliena pericula cautum. Happy he whom another's blunders renders wise. On this point he would refer to a statement of Mr. Fraser in reference to New York. Mr. Fraser, quoting the New York Report of 1865, said— The whole number of children, between the ages of five and twenty-one, residing in the city is estimated at 250,000. This estimate is believed to be much under the number. The average number of such children in regular attendance upon our public schools, including the free academy, evening schools, and corporate charitable institutions of the city participating in the school fund, does not exceed, upon the most liberal estimate, 90,000. We cannot, therefore, escape the conviction that there are not far from 10,000 children within the city who either attend no school, or whose means of instructions are restricted to the very briefest period. Similar statements were made in the Reports of Ohio and of Connecticut. The percentage of attendance on enrolment was in England, 76 per cent; in six States of America, 70; in eight cities of America, 58; in Ohio, 57; in New York City, 40; and in Canada, 38 per cent. Therefore, it was evident that England was far above those places in respect to the attendance. Moreover, in England, one-fourth of the children who attended, attended for 150 to 200 days; while in New York State only 7 per cent did so, and in New York City only 11 per cent attended for 150 days in the year. The next point to consider was whether more funds would be obtained for the support of schools than were obtained at present. Mr. Fraser stated that in America the sums locally raised by the rate on real and personal property— Are not more, nor in many cases so much, as many a clergyman among ourselves has to pay out of his income for the support of his village school. In Massachusetts, in 1864, they raised only 23.4 cents, or less than 1s. per child of the ages between five and fifteen; and, as might be expected, the schools were "little better than our dame schools." In the United States they found that they could no longer depend upon the rates. From the beginning of the century whenever a new State was formed, one-sixteenth of the land was set apart for the support of education. This was called "the school section," and was a species of endowment. Again, in every State there was the "United States Deposit Fund," which was expended partly in the support of education; in New York this produced 260,000 dollars annually. Besides this there was "the State School Fund;" and it was mentioned by Mr. Fraser that in Massachusetts— The establishment of the school fund was the most important educational measure ever adopted by the Government of this Commonwealth. In 1832, when an effort was made to obtain trustworthy returns from the different townships, it appeared that the ninety-nine townships which responded were expending only 1.98 dollars each for the education of their children. … The faith of the people in a system of public schools was seriously undermined. The public schools were fast becoming pauper establishments, into which only the poor and neglected went. …. The Act establishing the fund passed in 1834. … The progress that had been made since 1834 is unquestionably due to the establishment, of the school fund. Mr. Fraser added— I have found that a rate-supported system of schools, whatever may be its apparent superficial uniformity, really exhibits all the inequalities of a voluntary system, and labours besides under certain special difficulties of its own. … If people suppose that every American rate-supported school is in a condition of efficiency, they are simply labouring under an entire misconception. In conclusion, he would observe that the great cause of the deficiency of the attendance of children at schools was the apathy of the parents in reference to education. The effects of apathy were deplored in every country and under all systems. It was impossible to make men angels by Act of Parliament. Indifference was caused by a want of education, by a deficiency of an appreciation of the great value of education; and that cause could only be removed by patient labour, and not by any sudden action of an Act of Parliament. It was idle to endeavour to remove an effect by Act of Parliament, while the cause still remained. It would be as wise to pass an Act that fire should not burn. During the last three years (the Commissioners reported) the state of education had improved greatly in Scotland. In the rate-supported schools of the United States, on the other hand, there were continual complaints of "a great mass of apathy and unconcern, of truancy and absenteeism." He trusted that Parliament would not give up the system under which that improvement had taken place in Scotland, for the system under which education in the United States had gone back. It was not his desire, however, to criticize the Report of the Commissioners in any carping spirit, but he had stated certain objections which appeared to lie on the surface, with the view of eliciting the views of other hon. Members and of the people for the future guidance of the Government.


said, that he had listened with astonishment and pain to the speech of the noble Lord. Though the noble Lord disclaimed being actuated by any carping spirit in reference to the Report of the Commissioners, he must say that during the twelve years he had been in Parliament he had never before heard any Report of Commissioners appointed by the Crown, and possessing the entire confidence of the country, criticized in such a way by a Member sitting on the Treasury bench. He had visited the common schools in America, and he could give the House some information on that subject; but he came down to the House, not to discuss the scholastic institutions of the United States or of Prussia, but to suggest that the Government should bring in a Bill to settle this long pending question in Scotland. The noble Lord had spoken for an hour and a quarter, and had scarcely uttered a dozen sentences having reference to the educational system of Scotland. He trusted that the noble Lord had not expressed the sentiments of the Government, whom he entreated to consider the question in a fair and impartial spirit. He desired to express his deep sense of the diligence, prudence, and ability displayed by the Commissioners, who had been so much maligned by the noble Lord. When it was the fact that the Commissioners had arrived at a conclusion in favour of a national system of education, it did not become the noble Lord to use the expressions he had done to-night. The fact, that such a Report had been made by a Commission so composed, proved that a national system would be welcomed with the liveliest satisfaction throughout Scotland; and scarcely a single witness doubted that such a system might be established. The differences of opinion that prevailed were in regard to the quality, quantity, and distribution of the education at present given. One would suppose from the language of the noble Lord that the Royal Commissioners had propounded some great theories; but their Report was a matter-of-fact and business-like document. They took the prudent and sensible course of instituting a full and searching investigation. The result was to show, that, while the proportion of scholars to the population was tolerably satisfactory, the quality and the nature of the instruction given, especially in private and venture schools, the unequal distribution of educational advantages, and the character of the school buildings, imperatively called for an alteration of the present system. The noble Lord had contrasted the statistics of Prussia with those, not of Scotland, but of Selkirkshire, and, omitting the large and the manufacturing towns, he thought to hoodwink the House. He rejoiced to find, from the Report of the Commissioners, that while a few clergymen in Scotland holding extreme opinions attached great importance to these religious denominational schools, which had been eulogized by the noble Lord, the great body of the people, the parents of the children, cared not one straw about these religious distinctions; all they looked to was the merit of the schools. The statistics were as unanswerable as they were remarkable, and they completely dispelled any delusion with regard to religious differences in Scotland standing in the way of a system of enlightened national education. The Royal Commissioners brought out these remarkable facts—Free Church parents sent their children to Established Church Schools, Catholic parents sent their children to Free Church schools, and Episcopalian parents sent their children to United Presbyterian schools; and, indeed, it appeared that parents seldom asked with what denomination a school was connected. The Report clearly demonstrated that the Privy Council system in Scotland had proved totally inadequate and inefficient. It laboured under a defect which was not only inevitable, but incurable. Where the denominational system failed, was not in the inefficiency of the schools established, but in its uncertainty. It offered no security for an equally diffused education. There was too much in one place and too little in another. He believed that you could not have a system which should be at once voluntary, efficient, and universal. The noble Lord spoke of Scotland as having been under the parochial system until now, and he was evidently unacquainted with the religious and educational institutions of Scotland. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, however much they were attached to the English Church schools, would admit that the parochial system had not kept pace with the wants and requirements of the people. It was not in the nature of things it should be so. The voluntary system had failed; the Privy Council system, from its nature, not from any defect in management, had failed in the islands, the Highlands, and the large towns of Scotland. What were the Commissioners to do? They found no sectarian or denominational differences impeding education. They found that efficient schools and teachers could be provided for an average rate of 2½d. in the pound on the annual value of property. As sensible men they were driven to the conclusion to recommend an entire change of system; and they had done so with singular unanimity. They had come to the conclusion that a national system was possible and practicable. The keystone of their recommendation was the declaration that the denominational system in Scotland was unnecessary, and that, although it may not be possible to throw aside existing denominational schools, still it is essential that no denominational schools shall for the future be erected by the aid of the Treasury, or, after a fixed time, adopted into the national system. Like the hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs, he was prepared to advocate changes more sweeping than those recommended by the Government, Perhaps he knew more of the schools of America and of Prussia than did the noble Lord; but he did not advocate the adoption of the American system, for, as sensible men they must consider what was practicable under existing circumstances. Looking at the recommendations of the Report as a whole, believing that the effect of their adoption would be to arrest, and finally to abolish the denominational system, and to transfer the management of schools from the denominations to the ratepayers, he for one was prepared to pass the Bill appended to the Report without the alteration of a single line. He must express his great disappointment that the noble Lord, instead of listening in a becoming spirit to the opinions of Scotch Members and of other Gentlemen interested in the question on both sides of the House, and giving them an opportunity to express their sentiments, should have arisen immediately after his hon. Friend, not to express natural hesitation to legislate this Session, for that might be difficult, but to denounce, in the most unmeasured terms, the Report of the Royal Commissioners appointed by Her Majesty. He, himself, had come down to the House intending to express an earnest hope that the Government would be prepared to introduce the very Bill of the Royal Commissioners, and he should have been glad if the hon. Member for Ayrshire (Sir James Fergusson), the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Moncreiff), and the hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. Dunlop), three of the Royal Commissioners so attacked by the noble Lord, had introduced the Bill this Session. He had the fervent conviction that it would have been passed by the House sub silentio, with the view of amending any defects that might be found in it in a subsequent Session. After the tremendous speech to which they had just listened, they need not expect such a consummation now, but he hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Cabinet would give their earnest attention to the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners, which were extremely impartial and liberal, and showed a thorough acquaintance with the subject, and that, at the earliest opportunity, they would bring in a Bill to settle the question of education in Scotland, and at the same time give a great impetus to the settlement of the educational question in England and Wales.


said, he too had been astonished at the long rambling speech of the noble Lord, from which the one idea to be gathered was that he was a most determined opponent of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Commissioners. If that speech really represented the opinions of the Government, there was little use in his addressing the House; but he hoped that some member of the Government would yet rise and promise to give their attention to a subject to which at this moment the public mind in Scotland was earnestly directed. Although he agreed generally with the opinions of the Commissioners, he was not prepared to adopt all those opinions, nor to swallow in its entirety the Bill which had been submitted for the consideration of the Government and the country. Scotland was said to be ripe for a national system of education, but it already had one which was capable of a large extension, and ought not, he thought, to be altogether superseded. The Commissioners had hardly done bare justice to the important advantages which Scotland had derived from the grants of the Privy Council. He fully admitted the defects of the system, but these grants had largely contributed to raise the standard of education, and had called forth a large amount of voluntary exertion which it would be unwise to check, particularly the inducements which had thus been given to large proprietors of works for the establishment of schools. The defects pointed out in Glasgow and elsewhere did not prove the failure of denominational efforts, in connection with which the greatest zeal and energy had been displayed in meeting existing wants, as well as could be done in rapidly growing communities. He agreed with the hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs in his desire that Her Majesty's Government should take this question into their serious consideration, with a view to carry out in the main the recommendations of the Commissioners, but it would be well to consider the scheme maturely before committing themselves to every part of it. For example, he doubted whether the establishment of a Central Board in Edinburgh would be desirable. He had far rather trust to the Executive Government, and the inspection which they carried out than to a local Board; nor would such a Board command the same confidence in the country.


I shall not go at any length into this most important question at this hour of the night; but, having been a member of the Royal Commission, whose report is now under consideration, and having for several years taken an interest in this subject, I feel that I ought to say a few words before the debate is brought to a close. In the first place, then, let me thank my hon. Friend the Member for the Elgin burghs for the clear and very able manner in which he presented this question to the House, and it must be gratifying to us to know that the result of this Report has produced on the part of the Scotch Members so general an interest, and such a large amount of approbation. I listened to the speech of the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council—as, I believe, every Scotch Member did, indeed, I think I may say almost every Member of the House—with feelings of great astonishment and surprise. Sir, this question of education in Scotland is as large a question, and is as imperial a question, as even that which has consumed so many days and nights of this Session. In fact it contemplates one of those ends which Parliamentary Reform itself is intended to attain, and at last we have a Report which has been prepared after considerable trouble and care, which embraces a variety of things; and we find Gentlemen of various political opinions agreeing in that Report, some of those Gentlemen having sat upon the same Treasury Bench—three of them at least—as the noble Lord now does. Why, the noble Lord himself confessed that he had not had time to master his Report, and he said he could express no opinion on the subject. [Lord ROBERT MONTAGU expressed dissent.] At all events, the noble Lord professed not to be ready to pronounce an opinion on the subject, and that he should require the leisure of the winter in order to come to a conclusion upon it. Yet, after a confession of this character, he made a speech in which every sentence he used pledged the Government and himself, as far as he could pledge them, to a view directly the reverse of that recommended by the Commissioners. [Lord ROBERT MONTAGU: I beg to say that I never said anything of the kind.] Well, the noble Lord may not have said so in so many words, but there was not one single sentence of his speech which did not bear out this interpretation; and unless the noble Lord and the Government come, as I hope they will come, to a very different result, I am afraid the chances of Scotch education, as far as they lie with the Government, are not so bright as we had confidently hoped they had been. I looked for better things, and I do not think that the opinions of the noble Lord are the result of deliberation. When he comes to give this question more consideration, and comes to look into it more closely, I think we shall have conclusions different to those which have been presented to our notice to-night. I will now say a few words with regard to education in Scotland. The Commissioners have been able to present a statistical picture of education in Scotland as complete as was ever presented in any country. As regards education in that country, whatever are the remedies to be applied, we see the evils without the slightest doubt, and we see where they have been exaggerated and where they were overlooked, and I do not think there will be any difficulty in the future, either with respect to figures or numbers, for we must now come to the question of principle. There are some encouraging figures in the statistics of the Commission, one of which is that we find the general ratio of education in Scotland has not degenerated. Why is it that we find comparatively a high rate of education in Scotland? I should say that it is because we have a national system. Do we find it adequate to the existing wants of the country? The population has outgrown it, and the moss and rust of years have encumbered it, but the fact remains that in that country, where there is a national system, we have the highest rate of education. You may say that is cause and effect. But still it is the fact, and anyone that looks into the circumstances of the case will find that the effect has been produced by the cause to which I refer. It is said that the national system is likely to cramp voluntary efforts; but, granting that it does, voluntary effort is not the object we have in view. Our object is the education of the people. People speak and argue about the voluntary system as if there were some great merit it. If the voluntary effort promotes education it does great good, and Scotland is to some extent an example of that, for I believe there is no country in which there is so large a voluntary effort. Although in Scotland there are 4,000 and odd schools, every one of which is required for the education of the people, not above 1,300 belong to the national system. All the rest are denominational—the result of voluntary effort. Then the national system has not checked the voluntary effort, but, on the contrary, the voluntary effort has come to the aid of the national system. The noble Lord has pointed to the high average of attendance in some districts, as if that would compensate for the low average in others. What good is there in an average in such a matter as this? What if we have of all the people in certain districts in Glasgow an average of one in thirteen? What good is it to say that we have in Selkirkshire an average of one in four? What does that average take from the scandal of such a state of things? As a justification for the backwardness of education such an argument is entirely worthless. On the contrary, if good for anything, it is good for this—if you can make the rate one in four in certain districts, you can make it this in all. It is all a delusion to say that the poverty of the people is the thing which prevents education. In Scotland, at all events, it is not found so. Where the parents have schools, they send their children to them; and the real deficiency is not on the part of the parents, but is the want of schools. These statistics prove that there are not schools enough; and when there are schools enough, then you may blame the parents if they do not send their children to them. These statistics teach some important lessons, and show there is a large and primary deficiency. I hope one result of the labours of this Session will be to bring, this great question of education out of the mist and dust with which it is surrounded—to bring it to its real standard — the good of the people—and that we shall no longer have it made the shuttlecock for contending parties. The fact is, we must now address ourselves to the task of education — of raising its standard, and bring it within the reach of all. My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire greatly misapprehended, as I think, the Report of the Commissioners. They intended to keep things as they are as regards existing schools, because it was found they are all wanted. All that is proposed in the first instance is, that the superintending body shall see the schools efficiently conducted and open to inspection. The management is not to be altered, nor are the Privy Council Grants to be withdrawn; quite the reverse: the Commissioners proposed that they shall continue to be paid on the footing of the Revised Code, with the exception that the 4th clause shall not apply, and the superintending body is to have the control of the schools. The noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) thought there was something shocking in the idea that the parishes should be made to supply funds for the schools. But that is the point at which we want to arrive. We see that the voluntary efforts have not accomplished what we could wish, and we want to see whether the compulsory system will do it. With regard to the 4th clause of the Revised Code, the noble Lord said the Scotch system was a heterogeneous system; but there is no reason why it should be so. Now, it is an old tradition in Scotland that all ranks came to the same school, sat on the same stools, and learned the same lessons; and although that system is, to a considerable extent, done away with of late years, I believe Scotland has derived great advantage from the system; therefore it would cramp the beneficial operation of the system if the 4th clause were applied. As to the superintendence, some objection has been taken to the Board fitting in Edinburgh. That is a matter of detail. It is really immaterial whether the Board sits in Edinburgh or in London. It is immaterial whether there is a separate branch in Scotland or a superintending body at the Privy Council. It is a matter perfectly open for consideration. Then, lastly, the Commissioners proposed that when the managers of the denominational schools choose to throw their schools upon the national system, they may apply to the board or governing body, and then, if it be a proper school, it may be put upon the rates; so that gradually these denominational schools will be absorbed in the national system, and after some years will arrive at the point at which it is desirable they should arrive—namely, the parochial system, which it was designed by the Commissioners should embrace the schools of the whole community. I do hope Her Majesty's Government will treat this matter with the anxiety and attention it deserves. I might have had some misgivings on this matter, and might have wished that it was reserved for a Liberal Government to deal with this question; but it is too large a question for considerations of that nature. If Her Majesty's Government will treat the question fairly and considerately, I can promise them they will have all the support of this Bench.


said, he was well aware that he was incompetent to speak with authority upon the subject of education in Scotland, and he felt considerable diffidence in addressing the House upon that occasion. His attention had been directed hitherto to the system of education in England, and he had not hesitated to express his opinions on that subject. His noble Friend commenced his speech by stating the opinions and intentions of Her Majesty's Government, and had said that the Report had not been long enough in their hands to enable them to form a judgment upon it. For himself, he could say that he had not had time to do more than look at the recommendations of the Commissioners, and he should feel entirely disqualified for the discussion of a question of such magnitude by merely taking the statistics without reading the other parts of the Report. It had been shown even by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side that the suggestion of the hon. Member for Montrose, to pass the Bill recommended by the Commissioners, nemine dissentiente, could not be adopted. He was not prepared to take what the right hon. and learned Gentleman had called the Imperial view of the subject, for the circumstances of Scotland were totally different from those of either England or Ireland. There existed in Scotland a system of parochial education, the schools being practically supported by rates derived from the land, which had never been the case in the sister countries. Now, it was only reasonable, in considering how to legislate for Scotland, to see whether the existing system might be modified and adapted to the requirements of the present time. He was, prepared, therefore, being better acquainted with education in England, to deal with the two countries on their separate merits. His right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Bruce) would, no doubt, wish to put education both in England and Scotland on the same footing, and the hon. Members for Elgin and Montrose appeared to desire the adoption of the American system of common schools. He confessed that the effect of the argument used by the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, with respect to adopting the denominational system in a national system for Scotland, must inevitably be to destroy the voluntary system in that part of the kingdom. Indeed, the object of the Commissioners was by degrees to bring education under one system, subject to some central supervision, and supported by rates throughout the country, and they regarded the present system of payment by the heritors as tantamount to a ratepaying system. He would not enter into the large question embraced in the Report, but would only repeat what had been said, that the Government, out of respect to the eminent and remarkable men who had composed the Commission, would do their best to investigate the question. They would approach it in no hostile spirit, but with the single desire to deal with it fairly and candidly. At the same time however they themselves must have the opinions they had expressed respected. For himself he would not recant the opinions he had given with respect to English education; but the fact of Scotland being placed under a different system would enable him to approach the question in a different manner than he had done in dealing with the one affecting England.


said, he was sure the House must have heard with great satisfaction the reassuring speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He had feared that the policy of education in Scotland might be prejudiced by the Bill relative to English education, which he laid on the table a few weeks ago; and the speech of the noble Lord seemed intended to kill two birds with one stone, and to extinguish all hope of extending education by means of rating alike in Scotland and England. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that such a system might be adopted in Scotland with less deviation from ancient practice than in England, and he hoped that no fear of creating an awkward precedent with regard to England would deter the Government from adopting it in the case of Scotland. The needs of both countries, however, were the same, the circumstances of the large towns in the two countries being very similar. It had been supposed, indeed, that the existing system in England had failed most signally in the rural districts, where 11,000 parishes received no grants; but he was prepared to show that the failure in the large towns was still more conspicuous. This was seen especially in that portion of Glasgow which the Government proposed to erect into a borough. Unless the principle of State assistance were changed the masses in the large towns would not be reached. He rejoiced to think that this discussion, notwithstanding its unfortunate beginning, had terminated so favourably, and, after the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman, he was satisfied that the Government would give the question a candid consideration, and that there was every prospect of its resulting in the adoption of the recommendations of the Commissioners.