HC Deb 06 August 1869 vol 198 cc1374-94

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 24 (Act not to affect certain bequests).


moved that the Chairman do now leave the Chair.


I cannot allow this Motion to pass in silence. I think it the duty of every Member of this House at this period of the Session to give every possible support to the Government—consistently of course with their individual opinions — to wind up the business, and carry those measures which are thought, on the whole, necessary for the public good. But I must say that I am surprised at the position in which much of the Public Business is now placed—especially with reference to this particular measure of the Scotch Parochial Schools, which has had a very injurious effect upon the conduct of other Public Business. This is really a matter of importance, because I need not remind the Committee that it has been brought under the consideration of the House by a notice in Her Majesty's gracious Speech from the Throne; and no measure is ever noticed by a Minister in the Speech from the Throne unless it is decided by the Cabinet to be one of importance, and unless it is matured with the utmost study and judgment on the part of the Government. Under these circumstances, it seems to me much to be regretted that we should be called upon to discuss a Bill of considerable complication, on a subject of such importance, and introduced in the Speech from the Throne, at a moment when the Appropriation Bill is on the Table. And I cannot think that we ought to pass over without notice a combination of circumstances so unfortunate. Is it the fault of this House? Is it the fault of those who have felt it their duty to give some opposition to this measure? I cannot find that there is any fault to be fairly imputed to this House for this unfortunate state of affairs, or that it can for one moment be alleged that it arises from any vexatious opposition on on the part of Gentlemen on this side of the House. Some time ago this Bill came from the House of Lords with considerable Amendments, some of those Amendments being moved by one of Her Majesty's Ministers. On that occasion the Lord Advocate took a course which I observed with regret. It is possible it might be technically defensible; but I appeal to the candour of the Committee whether, when a Gentleman moves that we should go into a Committee pro formâ on a Bill in order that it may be re-printed, anyone could suppose that it was the object of the learned Lord to make the enormous changes which he on that occasion so successfully accomplished.


I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I stated the changes I proposed., and gave the reasons for moving to go into Committee on the Bill pro formâ.


That may be so; but is it not a fact that no Gentleman in the House was aware of what was going on? ["No."] Well, I hope for the credit of the House that it is so, because I cannot conceive that a proposition of that kind could be made; and. I should have thought that the hon. Gentlemen opposite me would have thought it decorous, by way of precedent, that notice should have been given by Government of the changes they intended to propose.


I must again rise to explain that I made a statement of considerable length, giving not only the changes we meant to introduce, but the reasons for so doing. I think the right hon. Gentleman, before he makes charges of this kind, should inform himself as to the facts.


It is quite unnecessary for the learned Lord to interrupt me, because I was not going to insist upon the circumstance. It was disapproved by the House and regretted, but it was condoned; and consequently I declined to notice it — and the best defence for it is this—that it was a matter of exigency. The Government believed that this was a measure of primary importance, and that the course they took was the only way in which they could put their complete and matured views before the House and the Committee. And although I regretted that the practice should pass unnoticed, still I thought there was some defence and vindication for the course that had been pursued. But having placed their views before the House, have the Government adhered to them? Having struck out all these Amendments, and having deprived the House of the opportunity of considering the Amendments made in "another place," have the Government adhered to the views which they adopted, and their adherence to which could only have justified this summary proceeding? Nothing of the kind. To say that the conduct of the Government has been inconsistent would be an inadequate phrase. It has been incoherent. It has been not only capricious and vacillating, but diametrically opposed on most important points from night to night. I say, Sir, that this is not a proper way— at least, it is not a desirable way at any time of settling questions of importance; but if the Government change their opinions on matters of importance in the middle of a Session, there is an opportunity of discussing and considering their propositions, and of coming to a mature decision upon them. But it is highly undesirable that such a course should be taken by the Government at the fag-end of the Session. We have five prints of this Bill in our possession, and in many of their provisions they are diametrically opposed. We are now asked, with the Appropriation Bill on the table, to proceed with this legislation. Now, Sir, I will not enter into any of the details of the clauses which have been so changed, and some of which are opposed to each other. The Scotch Members have a particular process of conducting their legislation through this House. They are satisfied with it; and, I think very unwisely on the part of this House, that system has not been challenged. I think it is not a desirable system, because one of the practical results is that the Scotch business is settled in a hole-and-corner, and the Scotch Members degrade themselves to the position of a select vestry. There is thus necessarily a deficiency of knowledge and sympathy with the Scotch Members which is not at all desirable. I know the influence of Scotch Members, and that if they are resolved upon a particular way of conducting their business, it will be impossible for us to resist it. But what I maintain is this— that anything connected with Scotch education is not merely a Scotch question, but one of national interest, and one on which the House ought to be fully acquainted with the proposals of the Government, and the motives which influence them. I heard during the course of these proceedings that when a difficulty arose, a compromise had been arrived at between the Government and the opponents of the Bill. You cannot carry on the affairs of the world without compromise, and I was not sorry to hear that the difficulty had been overcome. I know that Gentlemen who had opposed the Bill ceased to oppose it, and some even ceased to attend the House any longer. I was afterwards surprised when the Government informed us they did not intend to adhere to that compromise, but had made another arrangement contrary to it — an arrangement which was not made in the House, or in consequence of any debate in this House. That is a course of affairs to be deprecated. We must remember the circumstances under which the question was first brought before us. It was noticed by the Government in the Queen's Speech. It engaged the attention of their predecessors. It was a subject of magnitude—a question, in fact, of improved national education for Scotland. Well, Sir, we cannot legislate on a subject of that kind without sanctioning some principles and agreeing to some conditions which hereafter may be appealed to in vindication of a mea- sure of English national education. It is a subject of general and universal interest, and one to which we ought to give our attention, in a manner becoming the question, and without the haste and precipitation which distinguish the present course of proceeding. I know it is said—and indeed it is the only argument in favour of the present course which I have heard—that if we do not pass a measure of this kind, a considerable proportion of the population of Scotland will be deprived of the advantages of education—some 90,000 children, as we were told the other night; but do you mean to say that because 90,000 children may be deprived of the advantages of education you are to pass an improper Bill at an improper time? There are more children proportionately in England who are deprived of these advantages than in Scotland, but no one will pretend that we ought to discuss and pass a Bill for national education in England when the Appropriation Bill is on the table. Now, Sir, I wish to assure the House and the Government that in making these observations I am only speaking what I think is for the interest of the country and of the House, and that I am merely maintaining those views which I have always supported. I will not quote anything that I have myself said, but I will refer to the course recommended by the present Prime Minister in 1856, and in which I supported him. What I am about to read is not a long paragraph, but it is characterized by all that ability and happiness of expression which might be expected from such a quarter. In his unfortunate absence it is a very great advantage that we should be guided by his experience and judgment. The right hon. Gentleman was alluding to the state of Public Business at the end of 1856, and he was also referring to the Bishops of London and Durham Retirement Bill. He said— Now, Sir, as regards this measure, I do not hesitate to say that, quite independently of its particular provisions, I think we ought not, under any circumstances, to be called upon to pass such a measure at such a time. It is impossible at this period of the Session to give to a subject of this grave importance and of this extreme difficulty the consideration which it requires. Why, Sir, it is even impossible at this time fairly to collect the sense of the House upon such a question. It is only a fortnight ago since this House virtually rejected the Appellate Jurisdiction Bill. Within that fortnight the business of the country has been almost entirely wound up. We have passed the Appropriation Bill—that which we look upon as the natural termination of the important business of the Session; our functions in Committee of Supply have ended. It is not merely the date of the 23rd of July which we have to consider, though I must say that if Government continue the practice of introducing these most difficult Bills, these measures of such vast importance, when the Session is expiring, it will be necessary for this House, in self-defence, to resort to a measure which has been adopted in the other House, and to pass rules fixing positive dates after which they will not consent to entertain such measures. I am quite sure that the noble Lord at the head of the Government must feel that in expressing these opinions I am expressing the opinions generally entertained by the Members of this House. We have, in fact, come to a state of things in which some forty or forty-five persons holding Office under the Government virtually decide every question before the House. It is hardly possible that any combination of Members, or the union of any body of persons, whatever their position or views may be, can face so formidable an official phalanx."—[3 Hansard, cxliii. 1327.] The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bright) has asked me for the book, and he will no doubt give us his version of the situation, although I believe he did not speak on that occasion. What I press upon the Committee is that the view which the Leader of the House took in 1856 was a sound and temperate one, and I do not understand why the Government should persist in pressing on this Bill when the Appropriation Bill is on the table, when the Committee of Supply is closed, and when there is no possibility that, either in this House or in "another place," there can be any of that matured discussion by which a right decision can alone be arrived at upon national education—a subject on which, of all subjects in the world, a right decision is surely the most desirable.


Unquestionably I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this matter of Scotch education is a matter of interest, not only to that "select vestry" of Scotch Members which he has been kind enough to allude to, but to the House of Commons generally; and I am sure I only express the views and feelings of the Scotch Members when I say that it is with pleasure we see so distinguished a Member of this House taking an interest in the question, and that we should have been very glad if that interest had been developed a little earlier in the Session. It seems to me that if he had taken that course, he would not have fallen into the multiplicity of mistakes which has characterized the speech he has just made; and I cannot but regret that the right hon. Gentleman's interference in this interesting matter should have been confined to taking up a portion of that short time during which we might have made progress with this Bill. In regard to the history of the Bill, it is needless for me to go back upon it in detail, although the right hon. Gentleman has not heard it. Those hon. Members who have taken an interest in and attended to this matter as to a public duty are familiar with the facts. The Bill was introduced as the fruit of the Report of the Royal Commission, and it was introduced in "another place" early in the Session. That there were conflicting views upon the subject of the Bill we are perfectly well aware. Even before the Bill was introduced into the House of Lords the Commissioners had recommended a compromise. The House of Lords threw over the compromise, at least in one important particular, which is not without analogy or importance in the present discussion. The question in dispute related to the management of the parochial schools and the new schools. The compromise recommended by the Commissioners was to leave the parochial schools under the old management, and to place the new schools under the new Board about to be constituted. The Lords threw over the new management, and adhered to the management of the old parochial schools; and in a great many particulars the Bill was altered in their Lordships' House. When it came down here, the question was how to deal with the Amendments of the Lords, and I endeavoured at once to show to the House and to the country the real propositions of the Government, and the principles upon which they wished to take the opinion of this House. I know that, even as matters stand, in Scotland the real proposition of the Government has hardly yet been understood, not from want of information, but because the print with the Lords' Amendments sent down to Scotland has been up to this time believed in many quarters to be the Bill of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman has accused me of an offence which he says has been condoned. I was not aware that I had committed any offence, or that I stood in need of any pardon. I was at a loss to know how to deal with the Bill as it came from the Lords, and I consulted the best authorities I had access to. I allude to the clerks who sit at this table, and whose advice is generally resorted to; and I was advised, and I believe soundly advised, that there was nothing improper or out of Order—nothing but what was perfectly regular—in committing the Bill pro formâ for the purpose of introducing Amendments. I made a statement on the second reading which the right hon. Gentleman did not do me the honour to attend and listen to, and I then stated fully what the Government intended to take and what they intended to reject, and I terminated my speech purposely by saying that the Government would go into Committee pro formâ, for the purpose of re-printing the Bill with the Amendments the Government proposed. The House were at no loss to understand my statement, and it is unreasonable that I should now be told that I have followed a most unprecedented and improper course. So much for the history of the Bill. Now, it is said that this was a compromise. But there was no compromise in that sense of the word. The real matter is this— It has been a debated question from first to last whether parochial schools should be left under their present exclusive management, or whether the management should be rendered more liberal. That question was discussed in "another place;" and the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Orr Ewing) has had on the Paper in regard to this Bill a Resolution for the purpose of altering the constitution of the parochial schools ever since the Bill first came down here, but in the speech I made I unquestionably stated that, on the whole, the Government thought it better to adhere to the compromises suggested by the Commissioners. But that was a matter entirely open to debate; and, if the Government had been defeated on that point, it would have been quite open to accept the Amendments of the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire. We divided on the question whether the parish schools should remain as they were or not. We resolved to accept the Amendment, and I think my hon. Friends the Members of the "select vestry," who sat upon that side of the House, entirely concurred with me also. They thought it was rather late to call upon them to consider the matter. I am perfectly certain they do not sympathize with the Motion made by my noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho); and now what are we told? We are told that it is outrageous to go into Committee on a large Bill at this time of the Session. Sir, this is not the first time the House has done such a thing. I remember we sat one Session up to the 28th August—the year in which the Divorce Bill was introduced. I say there is no more urgent subject than a subject of this nature, and I trust the right hon. Gentleman, having relieved his own mind by the expression of his opinion, will neither create nor encourage any delay.


said, that anyone who had been unfortunate enough to have been in this House during the last ten days as many hours as he had could not fail to have been struck with two remarkable things. One was that they were now setting an extraordinary precedent for future legislation in the way in which measures had been got through during the last few days. He thought they were going a pretty good pace to bring legislation into contempt, and if legislation was brought into contempt, he did not know that contempt of law would not follow. The other point was this—he gave no opinion as to the changes which were about to take place in the measure which had stopped the way for so many days, but there were 200 Amendments to the Bill, and they were told this morning that the Lord Advocate had assented to seventy of them. That was a pretty good sweep, and he supposed it would make a pretty considerable alteration in the Bill, so that when the measure went back to "another place" it was very likely to give rise to considerable discussion. He gave no opinion on the matter. He did not understand whether the change was right or wrong; but he had a very strong opinion that if the Government thought it right to make such extensive changes, those changes ought to have been made ten days ago, when all the time which had been wasted in fruitless discussion would have been saved, and then it would have been possible for the alterations to have received that amount of consideration when they went back to "another place" which they were entitled to. These were points which had struck him very forcibly. He confessed he should be very sorry to see the course which had been pursued with regard to this Bill set up as a precedent for the future mode of doing business in that House. He thought it inconvenient, and as he said before, he believed it would tend to bring legislation into contempt; and he could not conceive any inconvenience in a measure or two standing over for another year, which would be greater than the giving rise to a belief that at the end of a Session a mass of legislation was got through without receiving the consideration which it deserved, and without giving time to the '' other place'' to which all Bills must go, for dealing properly with them, instead of shuffling them over in the way in which a good many Bills had been shuffled over during the last few days.


said, he must protest against the course which had been adopted with regard to this Bill. This House had never seen the Bill as it left the Lords at all, for it was committed pro formâ, and when it came on for discussion it was virtually a new Bill. The whole explanation made upon it on going in Committee pro formâ did not last three minutes, and it consisted of a sotto voce conversation between the Speaker and the Lord Advocate, and—he did not know whether the reporters had "struck'' at that period or not—not a line of it appeared in the newspapers. The going into Committee on that occasion took place between two and three o'clock in the morning, and the people of Scotland, unable to obtain any information of it through the daily journals must have been in a state of complete mystification about it. He objected to the Bill going forward now, lest it might be made into a precedent for England. The Bill sought to alter the whole taxation of Scotland, and the whole mode of regulating the schools; and they did not even know yet whether the clause for denominational schools might not be struck out by the Liberal Members for Scotland. He trusted the Bill would not be allowed to proceed further this Session.


said, it seemed to him that if hon. Members had only discussed the Bill instead of wasting time over preliminary questions, the measure would have left the House long since; but the policy of the Opposition had been to discuss over and over again whether they should proceed with it or not. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks objected to proceed with the Bill on the ground that at such a time of the year it would be supported by the votes of thirty or forty Members of the Government. But a night or two ago, in a House of something like 150 Members, upwards of 100 voted in favour of proceeding with it. The question was, was Scotland in favour of the measure? Well, interpreting the will of Scotland by the representatives of Scotland in that House, he thought it clear that it was the desire of the people of Scotland that the Bill should pass. The present Session had not been a long one compared with some recent Sessions. In 1867, the House sat until the 23rd of August, and long before the 23rd of August this year this Bill could be fairly considered by both Houses of Parliament.


remarked that a large number of Scotch Members were absent from the House at the present period, and he presumed that it might, therefore, be concluded that they were not very anxious on the score of this Bill. He was supplied by the Lord Advocate with a good argument for voting in favour of the Motion that the Chairman leave the Chair, for the right hon. and learned Lord had made the admission that the Bill was not understood by the people of Scotland. He trusted that the Government would see fit to withdraw the measure.


Sir, I could conceive circumstances in which the objection which has been made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) should be held to be valid; that is, if the question was one of great difficulty, and if its principle was contested. But judging from what has taken place on this side of the House, and from what we have seen on several occasions on the other side, there is really no considerable difference of opinion in regard to the Bill itself. If we were a month earlier in the Session, nearly all the arguments which are now used against the Bill could not be used, and the Bill would stand generally supported by the great majority of Members on both sides of the House. I have heard it said from this Bench that hon. Members opposite have opposed the Bill as if they did not believe that it was a bad Bill, or as if they believed that a Bill of this kind should not be opposed. If we are agreed on that, what reason is there that a Bill of this kind should not be passed now? If you believed that the Bill was bad and embraced principles which, if carried out in Scotland, might be held to be wrong for the rest of the Kingdom, then you might vote against the Bill and decide to reject it. But the fact is quite contrary; and no one can doubt the importance of the Bill itself and the question it is intended to settle. Everyone knows that we have had during the whole Session a succession of deputations from Scotland to represent to the Government the importance of this question. I believe there is no Member of the Government—no Member of the Cabinet, certainly—who has not had interviews with several deputations from Scotland in connection with this Bill; and we have had them constantly in the Lobby. It shows that there is a very great interest in the question, and the object of the Government has been to meet, as far as it was possible in one Bill, the general views of the people of Scotland in regard to this question. Now, the right hon. Gentleman says the Lord Advocate has not adhered to the general principles of this Bill. But he is the last man that should say that, for he, of all Ministers that I have ever seen, was the most pliant in regard to the great measure of which he had the conduct some time ago. And it was only because he was pliant, and because he acted on the theory—which he has promulgated to-day, not for the first time, that compromise was necessary, that he was enabled to pass one of the most important measures that is now on the statute-book of this country. The Government, doing the best they could under the circumstances, have conducted the plan and brought the Bill to its present position. And now, if it was left to the Scotch Members on this side of the House, you might count on the fingers of one hand the number of Scotch Members who would oppose this Scotch Bill. It would be carried all but unanimously by the Scotch Members—and more than that, it would be carried unanimously by the English Members on this side of the House—and if hon. Members opposite would only act on their opinions, they also would pass the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) says we are bringing legislation into contempt. The fact is, that this House is so numerous, that unless three-fourths of the Members went away at the end of the Session we should not pass any measures—because there are so many Members, all representing earnest constituents, and there is so much to be debated, that it is only when the House is thin that measures of this nature and the general run of legislation can pass through. What has taken place this Session is what has happened in previous Sessions. I know it depends very much on the character of the Administration what measures shall pass at this period of the Session; but my own opinion is that this is one of the Bills in passing which at this period of the Session the country will say the Government has done its duty. Look at the difficulty of passing any Bill at all. See what difficulties there have been this Session. See what difficulties there will be next Session, with a number of important Bills, as we hope, coming forward; and would it not be beneficial that the House should clear away, for a time at least, the great question of Scotch education.? The right hon. Gentlemen has referred to the 90,000 children in Scotland, and he says there are many more in England. That may be true. But surely if we delay this Bill now, and it is to come on again next Session, it will block the way of the measure which is to meet the wants and difficulties of the people of this country. I appeal then, to hon. Members to let this Bill pass. The Government is not interested in the Bill any more than other Members. Our object is to make the legislation of this Session as advantageous as possible, and I believe if this Bill were to pass it would make this Session much more valuable. The House of Lords understands this question thoroughly. They will not require to discuss it from beginning to end. There are Lords enough now to discuss it; and there can be no doubt that, seeing they have had it under consideration before, they will not object to the Bill going up now. We have done the best we could during one of the heaviest Sessions the House of Commons ever had, and I do appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite not to give it a vexatious and party opposition. [Lord ELCHO: Not party.] Well, I will withdraw "party," and will say opposition against a measure which, is supported by this side of the House, and which receives all but the unanimous support of the people of Scotland; and I believe, if they look at what the interests of the country require, they will allow the Bill to proceed and the clauses to be got through, which may be done within the next hour or hour and a-half.


said, he was sure that the right hon. Gentleman opposite would acquit him of having shown any hostility to the Bill. There was a great deal of good in it, but, at the same time, the course which had been followed by Government, though technically correct, was not the usual one. The right hon. Gentleman committed the Bill pro formâ, and then reprinted it. But surely it would have been better for him to have placed on the Paper the alterations which he proposed to make. Three or four weeks after the Bill was re-printed, the right hon. Gentleman, in consequence of the remonstrances from all sides of the House, as to the difficulty of understanding the position in which the Bill was, had his Amendments re-printed separately. He ought to have taken that course in the first instance. The result was that the people of Scotland had had no opportunity of seeing the Amendments on the Bill, and did not know in what position it now stood. As to the attempt that had been made to cast the blame of delay on his side of the House, to that he demurred entirely. The opposition to the Bill proceeded from the Government side of the House below the Gangway, and to cast the blame on this side was most unjust. He had listened attentively to this discussion, but he had failed to see that any hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House had taken up the challenge of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, who quoted the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown as to the procedure on the part of the Government in attempting to pass a Bill of this importance after the Appropriation Bill had been laid on the table, and no hon. Member had attempted to reply. If this Bill had been pushed with vigour, he believed it might have been passed through the House; but it could not be expected that they would allow a measure of this importance, affecting the whole of Scotland, to pass in this hurried manner.


said, that the President of the Board of Trade had admitted that if this Bill introduced any principle with respect to education for Scotland which would be objected to for England he should regard the opposition to this measure as entirely justifiable. Now, he (Mr. Lowther) would take his stand on the 59th clause, which authorized school committees to impose assessments upon lands and heritages to maintain new national schools. Now, he (Mr. Lowther) most decidedly and entirely objected to an educational rate for England, and therefore he strongly objected to such a precedent being established in a Bill brought into that House at the very end of the Session. The Prime Minister had pledged the Government not to propose or agree to any increase of local burdens until the entire question of local taxation had been brought before the House, and this was a question of local taxation. Many of the Members for Scotland were favourable to a compulsory rate, which was a first step towards compulsory education. Now, in England, with few exceptions, there was a strong repugnance to compulsory education on the part of the great mass of the people. As the Bill introduced a precedent for Scotland which many hon. Members would oppose for England, a case had been made out, on the right hon. Gentleman's own showing, why the House ought not to pass the Bill this Session.


was sorry to interfere between the Committee and the division, but having moved that the Chairman leave the Chair, he thought it right to explain his reasons. As the learned Lord Advocate well knew, no one had worked more heartily with him in the cause of education than he had done fourteen years ago. The Bill which his hon. and learned Friend attempted to pass in 1854 was a far better measure, much sounder in principle, more liberal and comprehensive, and founded upon a better system than the Bill before the House. The Bill of 1855 was a national measure. It embraced the old parochial schools, and established new schools for all Presbyterians. By the compromise which was made the other night, and which was a compromise between what the supporters of the Government wished and what the Government itself was pledged to, the parochial schools were taken entirely out of the Bill, and new schools were to be maintained out of the rates, practically for those who were not members of the Established Church, but belonged to the Presbyterian faith. They were to remain untouched, except that the management was liberalized to a certain extent. In addition to that, a provision was made, which he admitted was perfectly reasonable, for the education of Roman Catholics and Episcopalians, whose faith and feelings would not allow them to attend the parochial or district schools. He should be most inclined to take his stand on the question of the incidence of taxation proposed in this Bill. Let property be rated to the full amount necessary for the purposes of education, but let the taxation be just. Let it fall on all who were interested in education—and he maintained that the whole population were interested in the question — and not merely those who were the owners of heritable property. Personal property ought to be rated as much as heritable and. landed property for this purpose. This Bill did not do that. It extended the area of taxation, but it left the burden where it originally stood—on the owners of real property. He believed that one of the causes of the anxiety of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to get the measure passed was to get in the thin end of the wedge, and get Parliament to sanction by legislation the principle of rating real property and not personal property for the purpose of education. English Members had better look to this. He (Lord Elcho) had never taken a factious course in that House, and he had only moved to report Progress because he held that there was a large principle at stake in this matter, much more important than even the Education Bill itself. That question was the mode of conducting Public Business in this House. As a Scotch Member, he protested against the mode of conducting Scotch business adopted in this case—namely, that measures of the utmost importance should be chopped and changed about to suit the feelings and views of the thick-and-thin supporters of the Government; and he objected altogether to Scotch measures—measures of vital importance— being brought forward at a period of the Session when they had only a few hours to discuss them. He had simply done what he deemed to be his duty in the Motion he had made, for he did not think it right that measures of this kind, about which they were told the Scotch people knew nothing, should be hurried through the House as was now proposed. He entered his protest against such a course, and should press his Motion to a division.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair." —(Lord Elcho.)

The Committee divided: — Ayes 27; Noes 99: Majority 72.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 25 struck out.

Clauses 26 to 33, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 34 (Ratepayers or town council refusing to elect school committee).

On the Motion of Mr. M'LAREN, clause amended by inserting a provision respecting the election of the school committee by the town councils.


said, that the word "secretary" occurred in line 30, and he wished to remind the Committee that the question arose the other day as to whether the secretary should or should not be a clergyman. Through a misunderstanding on his part, he was then unable to press that question, and the clause which enabled them to put it passed without their being able to elicit a definite answer on the subject. To speak plain upon this matter, he had to state that a rumour was in circulation that a certain rev. gentleman who had been extremely useful to the Government at the last election had a promise of this secretaryship. Considering that the Board was to be undenominational in its character, and that they were about to establish an undenominational system of education for Scotland, he did not think a greater mistake could be made than to appoint to the office of secretary the representative of any sect in Scotland. He hoped therefore that when his right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate came to give a definite answer as to the constitution of the Board, he would be able to give an equally definite answer in regard to the question whether or not the secretary was to be a clergyman.


said, this question had been more than once before the House, and he must enter his protest against the attempt to put in one man by knocking down the reputation and ability of another man. Such a rule laid down in that House would be an implied censure on every clergyman in Scotland; and he altogether objected to the principle of saying that 3,000 or 4,000 ministers should all be held to be disqualified from filling an office of this kind. He held that an office of this kind would be exceedingly well filled by a person who had received the special training of a clergyman. As to the particular minister, he was not aware that he had interfered in any election whatever. He maintained that the Government ought to find the best man they could for the office, irrespective of where he was or what he was.


said, he agreed with the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire. He (Mr. Dalrymple) spoke in the interest of no man; but he distinctly said that it would be a most unfortunate circumstance if any but a layman should be appointed to this office.


said, he could not hear any allusion made implying a stigma on the ministers of Scotland, and remain silent. This was a revival off the cry made the other day casually, and afterwards disowned by the gentleman who made it, that all the ministers were, in fact, firebrands. He trusted the Government would not consent to give any pledge whereby ministers of religion would be shut out from appointments in connection with education.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 35 to 43, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 44 (Examiners to hold the office for two years, but may be re-appointed).


said, that this and the subsequent clause opened up a question which was not confined to Scotland, although it referred to the superior kind of education which was intended to be conferred upon the people of Scotland. It opened up an examination to the nobleman's son if he chose to avail himself of it, as well as to the child of the humblest person. When they came to a later clause he should ask some Member of the Government to explain the estimated cost which the public might be called upon in two or three years to provide, and to tell the Committee what would be the relative cost of these examinations of masters by University Professors, as compared with the examination by the Inspectors of the Privy Council. The further question then arose whether the Government would undertake to hold out the same Liberal hand to the people of England and Ireland which the Bill held out to the people of Scotland. Would the same liberal scale of education paid for at the same rate be secured to the rest of the Kingdom? It would not be right that a very costly system of examination should be established in one part of the country, without a full understanding that the Government, assisted by the Scotch Members, would provide an equally liberal scale of education for the whole of the United Kingdom. It would, he imagined, require a grant of something like £200,000 a year to carry out this system of examination in London alone. He gave great credit to his Scotch friends for their shrewdness in these matters, remembering as he did that they had obtained for themselves, at the public expense, an ordnance map of six or seven inches to the square mile, which we had never yet been able to obtain in England. Before the Bill went out of Committee, some Cabinet Minister would, he hoped, give a public assurance that an equal measure of liberality should be dealt out to England and Ireland, when measures of national education were framed for those countries.


objected to the proposed establishment of four independent Boards of examiners, one for each University of Scotland. He apprehended that the effect of this competition would be to reduce the standard of qualification until it became almost nominal. He regretted that the Bill departed from the system of examination by the Inspectors of the Privy Council, which was almost perfect and cost nothing; whereas the system now proposed was unsatisfactory, and would cost a great deal.

MR. W. E. FORSTER, in reply to the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire, said, it was the duty of his Department to ascertain whether the mode of examination by University Professors would impose a larger charge than that conducted by Inspectors from the Privy Council. There was reason to believe that it would not. The present inspecting staff of the Education Office was fully worked, and as under the Bill there would be at least 400 more persons to be examined every year, an increase in the number of Inspectors would be required fully equal to the cost of the University examiners. When the right hon. Gentleman asked that the same measure of liberality should be extended to England and Ireland that would be carried out by this Bill for Scotland, he must remind him that the present conditions of education in the former countries were different from those established by this Bill for Scotland. In Ireland three-fourths at least of the education expenditure were paid out of the Consolidated Fund. In England a larger proportion was raised by voluntary contribution, but there was no educational rate, such as was proposed to be levied in Scotland under this Bill. Where people rated themselves for an object they usually expected to have their share out of the taxes, and to have a voice in the management. No precedent, therefore, could be drawn from Scotland by England and Ireland under the different conditions of their present educational system.


wished to know whether the Committee were to understand that the right hon. Gentleman, on the part of the Government, stated that in no case should an education rate be adopted in England? He did not grudge the people of Scotland their educational advantages, but he protested against the inference of the right hon. Gentleman that because there was some difference between the education systems of England and Scotland, the people of England were not to have equal help.


said, he had not made any statement or conveyed any impression in regard to the intentions of the Government upon the English Bill, as to whether it would or would not include an education rate. It was equally beyond his power and his province to give any assurance upon the matter one way or the other, or to give ' any idea as to what the intentions of the Government might be when they came to consider the subject.


said, he intended to ask for some information as to the financial working of this Bill. He feared that the right hon. Gentleman's calculations were altogether un- sound, and that the effect of this examination, would be to make a larger demand upon the public purse than the right hon. Gentleman anticipated. The examination by Inspectors of mixed teachers was much superior to that by Professors, especially in the case of women teachers.


reminded the Committee that the training of the teachers in Scotland had hitherto been at the Universities—the training and normal schools being new to them—and expressed his belief that nothing could be more unpopular in Scotland than the taking away of the power which it was proposed to give by this Bill with respect to the examination of the teachers by University Examiners. The whole training of teachers in Scotland had been carried on in the Universities, training schools and normal schools being very modern contrivances; and nothing would be more unpopular in Scotland than to take away the power intended to be given by the Bill. He approved of the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Edinburgh.


suggested that the hon. Member for Edinburgh should bring up his question on the Report, when there would be in the hands of the Government fuller information in regard to the expense.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 45 and 46 agreed to.

Clause 47 postponed.

Clause 48 agreed to.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again this day.