§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 24 (Act not to affect certain bequests).
§ MR. ELLICE
said, he wished to make a few observations on this subject, and, in order to put himself in Order, he would conclude by moving that the Chairman leave the Chair. The very sudden metamorphosis that had taken place on the Bill last night had placed him and many other Members of the House in the position that they really had not time to consider the course they should take with regard to the small remainder left of the original Bill, which was called, and was now miscalled, the Parochial Schools Bill. It was, therefore, perfectly fair, in the circumstances, that he should take that opportunity, once for all, of expressing his opinion upon the Bill as it now stood, and stating the course which he would take. This question of education had been for many years occupying the thoughts and attention of the people of Scotland. There had been the greatest possible anxiety to have a complete and perfect measure of education, which would not only overtake all that class of the population that had been stated by competent authority to be without the necessary means of education, but which would also improve and strengthen the existing parochial system of Scotland. The points upon which 1230 it appeared to him that the minds of the people of Scotland were set were these—that the parochial system should be liberalized, and that in any extension of it they should, as far as possible, get rid of its sectarian character. The Bill, as first introduced by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, went far to satisfy the reasonable desires of the people of Scotland, and he had hoped to give it support upon all its material points. Minor amendments were desirable, but upon the main points the Bill was satisfactory, and he had a strong hope that they would be able to pass it into law. The Bill, after it was introduced into the House of Lords, was largely amended on many important points. They were points to which, no doubt, objections would have been taken here; but at the same time it was a Bill which was open to discussion and improvement, and it might possibly, with one indispensable alteration with respect to the denominational principle, have been passed in despair of getting a better. But since the Bill came from the House of Lords into that House it had been wholly and entirely altered. Two-thirds of the Bill were excluded from it last night, by knocking out the whole parochial system. The title of the Bill could no longer be called the Parochial Schools (Scotland) Bill—it ought rather to be entitled a Bill for encouraging a new system of sectarian schools in Scotland. What was the effect of knocking the parochial schools out of the Bill? It left those schools under the restricted and limited management which had been so long complained of. It was all very well to say that the Government had agreed to extend the qualification of heritors, by reducing it to all heritors who held under the old valuation roll, and who were liable to assessment for the maintenance of the parochial schools. The answer to that was, that the heritors were not the only parties interested in the question. It was those people whose children were educated at these schools who were most interested in the matter, and the complaint had always been that those who had the greatest interest in having the schools properly maintained and properly conducted had no share whatever in the management. What had been done, therefore, by shutting the parochial schools out of the Bill, was to leave 1231 the whole system under the old restricted form of being managed exclusively by the heritors and the minister of the parish, without any reference to the great bulk of the parents and guardians of the children who were educated in the schools. The management remained the same; the clerical element remained the same. He could not conceive that anything could possibly give greater dissatisfaction than a Bill which left a state of things which it was the greatest object of a reform in the educational system to remove. What was done by the Bill with regard to denominational education? The measure, as originally introduced, did away in some measure with the denominational system of education. It liberalized the parochial schools, and enacted that the new schools should be national schools. In what manner had the Bill been altered? It had been altered so as to allow of the continuance of a system under which denominational grants might be made. If the Bill passed in its present shape, the denominational system, which it had been one of their great objects to get rid of, in order to prepare the way for a system of compulsory education in Scotland, would be strengthened. With regard to the Central Board, he had no objection to it as it was now proposed to be constituted. He thought it far preferable to the constitution of the Board originally proposed, and he did not believe that it would be possible to invent a much better constituted central authority. He entirely differed from his hon. Friends who desired to see that central authority brought to London. He thought that in Scotland they were perfectly capable of managing their own affairs. They had always been able to manage their own affairs well, and he did not see why any fear should be entertained that they would not be able to do so for the future. But he wanted to know what the proposed Board under the Bill as it now stood would have to do. Under the old Bill the Board proposed was not too large. Three members were nominated with large salaries to do a great duty; but by striking the parochial schools out of the Bill, they had entirely removed them from under the control of the Central Board, whose duties had been reduced to something like one-third of what they would have been under the original Bill. He asked, 1232 then, whether they were going to maintain this Board upon precisely the same footing as if it had—as it was intended it should have—control over the whole educational system of Scotland? He thought he misunderstood the learned Lord the other night when he stated that the meetings of the Board were to be open to the public; and he must say now that the more he considered this matter, the more fatal he thought it was to the transaction of any business. Would they think of proposing that the Committee of Education in London should transact all their business in public? He thought that in any Bill they must place some restriction on the operation of the clause which was passed last night, and which enacted that all the ordinary meetings of this Board should be in public. He thought that on every ground the Bill ought to be postponed. He could not conceive that, even if the Bill were in a reasonable shape, and not in the confused and shattered form in which it was now before them, it would be fair to ask them at the eleventh hour to proceed with it. Thursday now was taken up, and if this Bill was to be proceeded with at all it must be proceeded with that very morning. He thought the discussion which had taken place on the Bill this year would have cleared the way very much for future legislation, and that any delay which might be suffered now would be fully compensated for by being enabled next year to consider a mature and thoroughly satisfactory measure, which should be based upon the principle of liberalizing the present management of our parochial schools, and, as far as possible, getting rid of the denominational character in their educational system. He would only add that, if the Bill was persevered in, the Government would take that course on their own responsibility. He entirely washed his hands of having anything whatever to do with it. He had no hesitation in saying that, if the Bill were to pass in its present shape, it would not be at all satisfactory to the people of Scotland, and he for one threw the whole responsibility of it upon the Government.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Ellice.)
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
also urged the Government to postpone le- 1233 gislation on the subject till next Session. He felt it was impossible to legislate effectually at this late period of the Session, and no Member of Her Majesty's Government could foresee what course the House of Lords might take with regard to the Bill. In point of fact, the Government was in such a position that they wore obliged to yield this way or that. He would not anticipate what course the other House might adopt, but it was unreasonable to suppose that they would accept it at once; and the result would probably be that the House of Commons, during the very last hours of the Session, would be called upon to decide a most important question, affecting not only Scotland, but the whole Empire—because the measure involved principles which, if earned for Scotland, must almost of necessity be subsequently applied to the whole kingdom. On the whole, he thought the Government would act most prudently if they postponed legislation on this difficult subject until next Session.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, the time had now arrived when they should have some explicit declaration from the Government as to their real intentions with regard to the Bill. It was clear from the speeches just addressed to the Committee that the Bill could not pass into law this Session. Last night he had stated that the measure had passed through four phases; but the Committee were now actually about to consider a fifth edition of it, as he understood the right hon. Gentleman intended to accept in bulk the Amendments of which notice had been given. He might take this opportunity of remarking that there was a practice very much in vogue just at present with respect to Scotch legislation, and one which, if extended, might be productive of great inconvenience. It was what the Americans called the "Caucus" system. He admitted that, in regard to questions on which the great majority of Members had not the opportunity of informing themselves, legislation might be advantageously expedited by the Members specially acquainted with those questions meeting together and agreeing upon a combined course of action. But, in his judgment, the practice ought not to be extended to important public questions, which might serve as precedents for the whole of the United Kingdom. He had 1234 reason to believe that the attitude assumed by Her Majesty's Government on the various occasions when the Scotch Members had this subject under consideration in another part of that House underwent a considerable change. There would, he trusted, be no more of these attempts to expedite legislation. In conclusion, he expressed a hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would not allow this measure to occupy any longer the time of the Committee, as it was evident that it could have no practical effect.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
did not think this was a question that could be considered as a party question by Members on either side of the House; and he hoped both Liberals and Conservatives would look at it merely with regard to education. He should not endeavour to anticipate the decision of the Committee as to whether the Bill should be proceeded with or not. That must depend on the feelings of the Committee; but especially on the feelings of that portion of the Committee comprising the Scotch Members. But if it was the feeling of the Scotch Members that this most important Bill should be proceeded with at this time, Her Majesty's Government were prepared to proceed with it, whatever inconvenience they might suffer. It was, however, essential that they should proceed upon a correct state of facts. No one would say that his hon. Friend the hon. Member for St. Andrew's (Mr. Ellice) had not given a clear statement in regard to the facts. But it was his (Mr. Forster's) business to look into the figures, and he could not help thinking that his hon. Friend had very much overrated the importance of parochial schools in this whole matter of school education. The parochial schools in the eyes of Scotland were naturally most important; because they were the representatives of the old system which gave the country education, but which no longer gave it. Therefore, he was not surprised that it occupied a most important place in the minds of the Scotch Members. But what were the facts of the case? There were 312,000 scholars on the rolls of schools, and there were 510,000 children that ought to be at school, and there were 418,000 who were at some sort of school. Well, how many were at the parochial schools, after giving them the side schools and the Par- 1235 liamentary schools? There were 88,000 children at the parochial schools. His hon. Friend (Mr. Ellice) said that what affected the parochial schools affected the education of Scotland. But the parochial schools only affected less than a quarter that of those who were on the rolls. Besides, it only affected the mode in which these schools were made over. The Bill still remained a Bill that would give a complete education to all the children in Scotland, and would restore that state of things of which Scotland was in former days so proud, and would make the professions of Scotland accord with the actual facts. Scotland professed to have a national system, but she had it not. This Bill would give it; and this great feature of the Bill had not been altered by any change that the Bill had undergone. If the Scotch Members were still of opinion that the Bill should be given up, then, he thought, the Government and the Committee would feel bound to yield. But if they wished, notwithstanding the late period of the Session, to take the opportunity of this year to secure that there should be a national system for Scotland, all the Members that care for education will suffer any inconvenience to enable the Bill to pass.
§ DR. LYON PLAYFAIR
Sir, if we are to abandon this Bill, as proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Andrews, we must have better reasons than those given by him. He argues that the national schools are removed from the educational system. This is a mistake. They will be under inspection, and will be as efficient and unsectarian as they have always been. All that will happen is that the £48,000 per annum now devoted to education will be continued to it, and that a liberalized management will be extended to them. The denominational compromises in this Bill have created keen opposition in the minds of many Liberal Members, who view it as a sort of contradiction to the effort for nationalizing our schools. The Bill, no doubt, abounds in compromises to the Churches and to their schools, and naturally disappoints the expectations of those who hoped to see Scotland adopt a truly national system, in which the ground, should be open and common to the children of all classes and all religions. I find this feeling so prevalent among English educationalists in this 1236 House, that if you will bear with me for a few minutes, I should like to explain to them the object and nature of these compromises. They must remember that the Bill does not deal with a new country, but with one whose educational history begins in the first half of the 12th century. Her educational traditions, though progressive, are blended by time into the characteristics and habits of the people. Without dwelling on details, let me remark that there are three notable periods in Scottish education. The first period was purely ecclesiastical, and began as early as the reign of David I., continuing even a century after the Reformation. During this period the Church did everything and the State nothing for the education of the people. The second period of Scotch education began in 1646, when a short-lived Act of Parliament founded the present parochial school system, and was followed by the great Act of 1696. This national period lasted till 1843. Though it was essentially national, the schools being supported by a tax upon land and managed by lay heritors, still the Church continued its visitations through the Presbyteries. The minister of the parish also, by custom if not by right, took an active part in superintending the parochial school. Finally comes the third or denominational period of education, beginning with the disruption of the Church in 1843, and continuing to the present time. The Free Church has, during this quarter of a century, made immense efforts in the cause of education. In all three periods — the ecclesiastical, national, and denominational —there has been a strong Church influence bearing upon and pervading the education of the Scottish people. When the Royal Commissioners found this to be the case, could we have expected such a body of men, versed as they were in public affairs, to have framed a scheme of education from which all consideration for the religious bodies of the country had been carefully eliminated? Such a scheme might indeed have been prepared, more logical and coherent than that in the present Bill, but it would have been totally unfitted to receive support from the various interests represented in Parliament. The most satisfactory feature of all the periods to which I have referred is that the national character of the people has dominated them 1237 all, and modified the ecclesiastical pretensions of the Churches. On this account, the denominational peculiarities of schools in Scotland have never become marked, not because the Churches did not encourage them but because the people took possession of the schools in their determination to use them for their primary educational purpose, and not with a view to their secondary object, of upholding the influence and powers of the Churches. So markedly has this been the case, that the Church of Scotland schools contain 40 per cent of Dissenting children, and the Free Church schools 39½ per cent of those of other denominations. Hence, though there has been denominational management, there has been no sectarian teaching in any of them. The freest conscience right prevails by custom in all of them—so much so, that upwards of 7,300 Roman Catholics and 2,600 Episcopalians enjoy their toleration. All this proves beyond doubt that Scotland is ripe for a national system of education, and the Bill skillfully provides for this in a way that does violence to none of the many interests affected by it. There was a necessity to reconcile these interests, for their power is nearly balanced. The old national schools, including in these the side and Parliamentary schools, notwithstanding their excellent service to the nation, educate only 28 per cent of the school children, while schools actually supported by grants from the different Churches have 31 per cent; and schools which are either undenominational or connected only by friendly alliance with the different Churches educate the remainder, or 41 per cent. A compromise between such little preponderating claims was absolutely indispensable. You could not pick out denominationalism, the growth of a quarter of a century, and prefer it to the national system, which had the traditions of 250 years in its favour, simply because the former had 3 per cent more of scholars; neither could you ignore the existence of the undenominational and allied schools, which had aided so largely the deficiencies of the national system. Hence have arisen the adopted schools of the Bill, with the facilities for absorbing them into the national system, when they desire absorption. But let me remind those who, like myself, are anxious for a more thorough national system, what a large 1238 concession the Churches in Scotland have made to promote it. They have accepted without resistance, and in a spirit of perfect conciliation, the scheme of undenominational inspection. This is an immense gain to the nation, both as regards economy and efficiency, and gives an example to the Churches of England, which I hope the Vice President of the Council will bear in mind in his Education Bill of next Session. So far as one vote can influence the result, I, for one, shall not be responsible for the rejection of this Bill. Out of a population little exceeding 3,000,000, 92,000 children are growing up without any education, and a greater number with a very indifferent one. This Bill gives to us organization, efficient undenominational inspection, and a graduated scheme of adoption, which must before long end in a thorough national system. But above all, it gives us means, by local rates and Imperial subsidies, which will enable us to offer education to every child in Scotland. With this in our view, and almost within our grasp, it would be a heavy responsibility for any man to sacrifice the education of a people.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
hoped the Government would persevere with the Bill, and throw upon those Scotch Members who were opposed to it the responsibility of stopping it. If they allowed this opportunity to pass, they would not have a similar opportunity next Session, because the English Education Bill and the Irish Land question would absorb the whole time of Parliament. They had now devoted night after night to this measure; and if they were now to give it up, let the whole responsibility rest upon those Members who had opposed their proceeding with it.
§ SIR GRAHAM MONTGOMERY
said, that as the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on Education had invited the Scotch Members to express their opinion on this subject, he had no hesitation in saying that, in his opinion, they ought not to proceed further with the Bill this Session. His reason for doing so was that the course which the Government had taken with regard to the parish schools was one of which they had great reason to complain. Originally it was arranged to leave the management of the parish schools as they were, in accordance with the recom- 1239 mendations of the Royal Commission. That was the position of matters when the Bill came into this House. Now it was totally altered, and they were told that the management was to be changed and handed over to different parties altogether. Another objection was the introduction of the provision making the proceedings of the Board public. Further, he thought it a very bad precedent that a Bill of this importance should be discussed in the dying and expiring days of the Session. It did not seem to him that there was any great haste in this matter. They had had many Education Bills before, and he did not think that they would be doing their duty to their constituents if they proceeded to pass rapidly a Bill of this description. This Bill would have paved the way for a settlement of this question in a future Session; and he appealed earnestly to Her Majesty's Government whether it would not be consistent with their duty to withdraw this Bill and bring it in at an early period next Session.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, he thought the Government were getting a very hard measure of justice. When the Bill was before the Committee on Tuesday last, the Government refused to make any concessions in regard to opening up the management of the parish schools. On that occasion a vote was taken, and the unexampled fact was manifested that thirty-three Scotch Members voted against the Government and in favour of opening up the parish schools. The Government thereon resolved to retrace their steps and to open up the management of the parish schools; and, having done that, the two hon. Members who had made the most vigorous speeches against the Government came forward and found fault with this very thing, and urged it as a reason for not going on with the Bill. He entreated the Committee to go on with the Bill, for when it was carried through he was sure they would receive the gratitude of a large proportion of the people of Scotland.
§ MAJOR WALKER
said, the measure as it now stood was an entirely new one, and he declined to enter into its merits when there was not time to deliberate upon them. He also repudiated most emphatically the insinuation that those who opposed the progress of the Bill would be morally responsible for the non-education of some 90,000 children 1240 in Scotland. He wished that Gentlemen who said so had taken, the subject more to heart at an earlier period of the Session; if they had, there would have been a good chance of carrying a measure of Scotch Education successfully through Parliament this Session.
THE MARQUESS OF LORNE
said, the hon. and gallant Member for Dumfriesshire (Major Walker) had stated that this was entirely a novel measure; but he was puzzled to understand which part of the Bill the hon. and gallant Gentleman considered the most important. For his own part, he thought the importantce of the Bill lay in this—that it was an endowment Bill for the education of Scotland. If it were not an endowment Bill for this purpose, it was nothing; and regarding the measure as one of national importance, he hoped the Government would press it forward.
§ MR. SINCLAIR AYTOUN
said, that if the Motion that the Chairman do leave the Chair were pressed he should vote for it, as it would be impossible that any good could be done under the circumstances. Whether a denominational Bill were better or worse than an undenominational Bill he would not stop to discuss; but he thought it impossible to have a more denominational Bill than the present.
§ MR. GRAHAM
urged the Government to persevere with the Bill. He did so on behalf of his own constituents, among whom, there were 25,000 children in the neglected condition described, of whom 3,000 would be dead before another Session. Now, this Bill gave an opportunity of obtaining additional schools, and he thought that whatever objections hon. Members might have to some of the minor features of the Bill, they would in the main be found to assent to the principal project, which was that of providing the new schools which were so much required.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, that whether this Bill were or were not intended to promote denominational schools, the subject was so vast, indirectly affecting, as it did, both England and Ireland, that it would be utterly impossible on the 4th of August, at ten minutes past one in the morning, to discuss it. They would probably have one division, and then the Government would say that they very much regretted the divided state of opinion of the Scotch Members 1241 on the subject, and therefore felt compelled to abandon the Bill.
THE LORD ADYOCATE
said, that the question of whether they were to go on with the Bill or not depended very much on what they really wished to do. There were two things which the Bill professed to do, but they were two things of very different relative importance. The one was to provide the means of education for those who were now uneducated, and the other was to improve the existing means of education. The first was certainly the matter of most importance; and, if it were not for that, he doubted whether it would have been worth while to have spent all the time they had already devoted to legislating upon this question at all. The existing means of education in Scotland might not be the very best, but the main reason why this Bill, was required was that there were, as had been stated by the hon. Member for Glasgow, a large number of children who from year to year are without education. The question, therefore, was, whether it was not a duty to provide the education which was required, and whether or not they should perform this duty now. As regarded this portion of the Bill, there was no real difference of opinion in the House. With regard to the question of central management, all were agreed upon that point. They were also agreed that the Board should ascertain what schools were required; that they should make, as it were, a map of the educational destitution of the country, and that having done that they should provide the means for alleviating that destitution. He utterly denied that this was in any respect a denominational Bill in any sense of the word. He knew indeed he had many antagonists to contend against, but the most formidable was the period of the Session. The Government had done their best to struggle against that enemy, and he now appealed to the House to assist them.
§ MR. ORR EWING
said, that there were so many good points in the Bill that he would rather see it carried than not. But he rose principally for the purpose of correcting the exaggerated statement which had been made as to the deficiency of education in Scotland, especially in his own native city of Glasgow. The Commissioners who reported that there was this vast number of 60,000 1242 children going about without education, and that the school accommodation was deficient to the extent of 23,000, came to that conclusion upon the estimate of the umber of children between three years and fifteen years who were not at school. But was that a fair basis for calculation to go upon? Where was it the practice to send a child of three years of age to school? Six years was the earliest period at which a child ought to go to school. Therefore he said that the datum upon which the calculation was made was perfectly erroneous, and he had not the slightest hesitation in saying that instead of 60,000 children being without education in Glasgow at that moment, there was not one-third of that number.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that if the hon. Gentleman would refer to page 174 of the Report, he would find that the estimate was made of children not between three and fifteen, but between four and thirteen years of age.
§ MR. MACFIE
contended that the Bill was denominational in character; but, if the Government would leave out the second part of Clause 66, with a view to that section being brought up in the measure for dealing with parish schools, he would support it.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
asked whether there was any reasonable chance of the Bill passing this Session, when there were no less than 258 notices of Amendment to it upon the Paper.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
said, his opinion was very well known already. He was ready to share with others the responsibility of urging upon the Government to withdraw this Bill; and he did so on the ground that he did not think the Bill would do any of the good pointed out by the Vice President of the Council of Education and the learned Lord Advocate. It had been said that the new schools which were to be planted will not be denominational; but no proof of that had been shown, and he; ventured to deny the correctness of that statement. Was there not a clause in the Bill enabling denominational schools to be planted in those places where the Board may deem it proper that they should be be established? Was that an undenominational system? Then they were appealed to to let the Bill proceed, on the ground of the number of children who were without any education at all; 1243 and the hon. Member for Glasgow had informed them that the want of education had led to the starvation of 3,000 children.
§ MR. GRAHAM
said, that what he said was that 3,000 children in Glasgow wanted the bread of intellectual life. He protested against his expressions being thus misrepresented.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
said, hitherto he had always believed that people died of starvation for the want of bread, and not for the want of education. The changes which had been introduced into the Bill were such that it was utterly impossible to understand what its effect would be. He was satisfied that the people of Scotland were in utter ignorance of what they were doing. They believed that the Bill which they were now discussing was the same that came down from the House of Lords, and under all the circumstances he hoped the Government would not press the Bill.
§ MR. C. S. PARKER
said, that Her Majesty's Government had appealed to the Scotch Members to know whether or not they should go on with the Bill. He thought the majority of those who had spoken on his side of the House had urged upon them that they should go on with it. He begged to add his voice to theirs. He thought they would have much cause to complain if the Government should now fail to press the Bill forward.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he must refer the Government to the clock, which now pointed to half-past one, and remind the Committee of what had been done during the day, how long the House had sat, and that they would meet again at noon to consider a most important measure, the Habitual Criminals Bill. He trusted, therefore, the Government would not compel them to proceed with the discussion of this Bill in Committee. The Lord Advocate had referred to the large number of Amendments that were to be proposed; and he had heard so many different opinions expressed by Scotch Members that he was driven to the conclusion that there must be considerable discussion on every portion of this Bill. One hon. Gentleman pledged his support if half a clause were dropped; another laid stress on undenominational education, which he held to consist in a certain kind of school; another considered that this was 1244 not a denominational school—all these things showed that the Bill would give rise to numerous controversies; and was it reasonable of the Government to press the Bill, under these circumstances, when the time had arrived that hon. Members were entitled to know when Parliament would rise? The Bill had been discussed two or three nights, yet the Committee had reached only the 24th clause— and that in spite of meetings upstairs to arrange matters. On the Opposition side of the House there had been unusual silence, and no attempt to interfere with the progress of the Bill in an irregular manner. Influential Scotch Members on both sides of the House were dissatisfied with the Bill. They said it was in a state of confusion, and that the House could not deal with the question without a much longer discussion than there was now time for; there were on the Order Book a number of important Orders which must be disposed of; and he would, therefore, ask the Government whether they must not feel it was impossible to carry the Bill. They had made great efforts to pass the Bill; but, under present circumstances, they were only wasting time and energy in the attempt.
admitted the great difficulties under which the Government laboured. At the same time they felt the very great importance of the Bill; they were quite uncertain as to what would be the fate of any measure to be introduced next Session; they felt that if there were any earnest, honest determination to pass the Bill it could be carried this Session; and as long as a sufficient number of Members would assist the Government they would press the Bill forward.
§ Question put,
§ The Committee divided:— Ayes 35; Noes 98: Majority 63.
§ LORD ELCHO
moved that the Chain-man report Progress. He said the question of Scotch education was a serious one, and there was a danger of it becoming ridiculous. It was desirable the curtain should fall before the question degenerated into a Parliamentary farce; and it became a farce when a Government, however strong, backed by a majority, however willing, at twenty minutes to two o'clock, endeavoured to force them to 1245 sit on, discussing a Bill on which there was the greatest diversity of opinion, to which there were 200 Amendments, and on which they had got only to the 24th of its 69 clauses. A broader and deeper principle than education was at stake, and that was the mode of conducting not only Scotch business, but all Public Business. He would not shirk responsibility; but if he stood, alone he would resist such attempts to force important measures through Parliament by the mere influence of a strong Government. That was a principle he would resist.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Lord Elcho.)
§ The Committee divided:— Ayes 24; Noes 102: Majority 78.
§ MR. KNIGHT
moved that the Chairman do leave the Chair. It was not reasonable, the House having sat, with a short interval, since two o'clock yesterday, to call on hon. Members to continue the discussion of such an important question at so late an hour—especially as the House was to meet again at twelve o'clock this day.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, that the Home Secretary seemed about to treat the House after the fashion of "habitual criminals," by asking them to meet this morning again at twelve o'clock to consider that Bill as the first Order.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, that it was clear Progress must now be reported—it was impossible that they could do anything at two o'clock in the morning—and the Government would do well to consider in the interval whether what the Lord Advocate had described as the greatest enemy to the Bill was not absolutely invincible. If they thought the Bill might yet pass he was prepared to stay in town to assist in passing it; but if, looking at all the circumstances of the case and the other business still to be got through, the Government made up their minds to withdraw the Bill, he should recognize the necessity under which they acted. Anything would be better than bandying accusations at that hour of the morning from one side to the other as to the responsibility of abandoning this measure.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair." —(Mr. Knight.)1246
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 24 ' Noes 100: Majority 76.
MR. E. N. FOWLER
said, it was now twenty minutes past two, and moved that the Chairman do report Progress.
said, it was of course impossible to resist reiterated Motions of this sort. He could assure the House that the reason the Government had been so anxious in pressing this Bill was that they really believed it in all its main principles acceptable to both sides. The Government would consider what course they should take. It would be with the greatest mortification and regret if they found themselves compelled to abandon the Bill.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, that the pressure for time arose partly from the difference of opinion on the Ministerial side and the long speeches made by its Members. It was stated in one of the journals that four Members had in one afternoon spoken twenty-five times.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.