HC Deb 06 August 1869 vol 198 cc1442-50

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clauses 49 to 58 inclusive, as amended, agreed to, with Amendments.

Clause 59 (CLAUSE E—School committees to impose assessment upon lands and heritages to maintain new national schools).


said, he should at the proper time, move that this clause be omitted. He was aware that the principle of an educational rate had to a certain extent been recognized in Scotland for many years; he would not, therefore, weary the Committee with attempting to describe that which was much more familiar to many hon. Gentlemen than to himself — namely, the educational rating system of Scotland. But he should not be open to contradiction if he said that this clause amplified that principle to a considerable extent. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had remarked that morning, upon the Motion that the Chairman do leave the Chair, that English Members had a perfect right to take exception to the introduction of principles which might be held to be precedents for legislation in regard to other parts of the United Kingdom. Now, he thought that neither the right hon. Gentleman nor any other hon. Member would feel disposed to contradict him when he said that the principle involved in this clause was likely to be made a precedent for legislation to be proposed next year. He believed that the Vice President of the Committee of Council looked upon this clause as affording a valuable groundwork for his English measure of next year. He thought the House should not allow itself to be hastily led to accept a principle so important as that which was involved in this clause. It was a principle to which he entertained an un-mistakeable aversion—namely, that of a local educational rate — and he should feel it his duty to afford the Committee an opportunity of expressing an opinion in regard to it.


said, the clause proposed to take away the rating power from those who at present possessed it, and to vest it in an entirely new body. In burghs, the Town Council was the body which alone had the power of making a rate; but the proposal here was to deprive the Town Council of all control over these particular rates, and to hand it over to a School Committee, upon which only three members of the Town Council at the outside could sit. He trusted that the power of levying rates would be allowed to remain with the Town Council, and with that object he moved, after the word "or" in the first line, to insert "Town Council in any burgh."


said, he did not quite appreciate the objection of the hon. Gentleman to the clause, as the Town Council was to have the appointment of the School Committee. There was nothing unconstitutional in allowing the School Committee, appointed by the Town Council, to make the assessment.

MR. M'LAREN, in reply to the remarks of the hon. Member for York (Mr. J. Lowther), said, that if there was to be no extension of assessment, there would be no extension of education, and the 90,000 children, of whom they had heard so much, must still go without school instruction; because if there was to be no assessment, where were they to get the money to educate those children? To take it out of the Consolidated Fund would be unjust to the people of England and the people of Ireland, who would be paying £90,000 out of the £100,000 required, while Scotland herself would be paying only £10,000.


concurred with his hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lowther). He did not think there would be any use in his hon. Friend pressing his proposed Amendment, because the House was at this period composed principally of supporters of the Government. The national schools in Ireland were maintained out of the Consolidated Fund, to which Scotland contributed. His own opinion was that in the three countries national education should be paid for partly by local rates and partly by grants out of the Consolidated Fund. The first object was to induce parents to fulfil the obligations they were under to educate their children, and it should be only a last resort to provide for the interference of the State on the disregard of parental responsibility. This first object could best be attained by an extension of the voluntary system, assisted by children's pence on the one hand and State grants on the other. He protested against the system which was being adopted in this Bill being hereafter quoted as a precedent for adoption in England. It was impossible to divide against it, because the measure came before them so late in the Session. They had reached the 7th of August, for the clock pointed to a quarter to one, and many hon. Members had left town.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


added his protest against the adoption of the system; and if, any time in the future, he heard this Bill quoted as a precedent for England, he would repudiate it.


said, he also desired to protest against the principle of the clause, and would divide against it if the hon. Member for York led the way. He had a very strong objection to an educational rate upon visible property only.


(Mr. YOUNG) said, the rate was not laid upon the owners exclusively. It was laid upon the owners and occupiers of visible property, and, like the poor rate, was laid upon the owners and occupiers of all lands and hereditaments, and in their lands and hereditaments were included all houses down to a rental of £4. This rate was laid upon the owners and occupiers of all property, and therefore it was a mistake to say that it was laid upon the owners of visible property only. [Mr. SCLATER BOOTH: The real point is that personal property is not levied upon.] Under the Poor Law Act of Scotland, passed in 1845, an option was given to lay the assessment upon the inhabitants of parishes according to "means and substance," but that was so universally distasteful that he believed it was repudiated, and the present mode of testing the ability of persons to pay was adopted.


desired to remind the Committee that in England rates were now devoted to education, as in the case of pauper children.


hoped his hon. Friend would not press his Motion to a division, because, if he were to succeed in striking out this clause, there would be no means of carrying out education in Scotland. The question was a very simple one. The Solicitor General had given the explanation—for which the Committee was greatly indebted to him—that occupiers would be rated as well as owners. Even taking him upon his own ground, everyone knew that the rating occupiers meant that the burden that was paid by the occupier ultimately fell on the owner. They were about to extend a principle which he believed to be sound—the principle of rating for schools. But was it right that this burden should be borne alone by property of one description? If a school, for instance, was necessary in Edinburgh, and if a rate should happen to be levied for the purpose, the question is whether the hon. Member (Mr. M'Laren) ought to pay upon the actual value of the premises and land on which his warehouses stand, or on the income which he derived from the warehouses? It was much more equitable and much more just that taxation should extend to other descriptions of property and not to real property only. His opinion was they would have to come back to "means and substance" after all. He ventured to say to his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council (Mr. W. E. Forster) that if he wished to have an Education Bill next year for England he had better get the Prime Minister to bring in a Bill rating personal property.


remarked on the ominous silence of Her Majesty's Government. Question after question had been put them, but the Vice President of the Committee of Council had very wisely abstained from entering into the subject. He would withdraw his Motion, because he should not be justified in asking the House to divide.

Clause agreed, to.

Clauses 60 to 64, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 65 (CLAUSE L—One third the sum required to enlarge, rebuild, or erect any national school shall be paid by the Committee of Council out of parliamentary grant.


moved, after "any," to insert the word "national."

Amendment proposed, in page 26, line 4, after the word "any" to insert the word "national."—(Mr. Miller.)


said, he could not understand the meaning of the proposition. The clause included any school open to inspection, and allowed the Privy Council to deal with any such schools.


asked if parish schools were included in this clause?


Yes; and schools of all denominations.


said, that in that case he would withdraw his Amendment.


objected to the Amendment being withdrawn.


said, that as the Bill now stood parochial schools were not to be liable to be converted, and it would not be right to limit it as proposed in the Amendment.

Question put, "That the word 'national ' be there inserted."

The Committee divided: — Ayes 3; Noes 79; Majority 76.

Amendment negatived.

Clause amended, and agreed to.

Clause 66 (Grant for maintenance).


said, that this clause should be restored to the form in which it stood in the original Bill, and by which the Committee of Council were only allowed to make grants to schools where the same were national schools. In order to raise the question, he moved the insertion of the word "national" in line 5.


suggested that it was unnecessary again to divide on precisely the same point, and that the important question could be raised on the whole clause.


said, that there were many hon. Gentlemen who voted against him on the previous occasion who would probably give a reverse vote upon this Amendment. He did not want to give up the important point whether this was to be a national or denominational system. What he wanted was to strike out the special power to be left in the hands of the Council to say whether denominational grants were to be made or not. It would be unfair to place on this Board the enormous demand which would be made upon its discretion in this question of giving grants to denominational schools. Let them lay down a broad principle by Act of Parliament, and let the Board carry that out. As the clause now stood they were going to delegate to another body the power of disposing of this Parliamentary-grant, and putting its hands into the public Exchequer upon a basis utterly contrary to the whole scope and intention of this Bill. He would move the omission of the words at the end of the clause, in order to insert the words— It shall not be lawful for the said Committee to make any such grant aforesaid to any school not being a national school within the meaning of this Act. Amendment proposed, in page 26, line 22, to leave out from the words "national school," to the end of the Clause."—(Mr. Craufurd.)


said, he did not object to the maintenance of any such denominational schools as now existed, but he distinctly objected to introduce a wedge which might split up Scotland into sects, and encourage Episcopal or Popish proselytism in every parish in Scotland. To concede that the Roman Catholics and Episcopalians might have separate schools supported by State grants was to admit that the system about to be established was national in nothing except in name.


protested against the intolerant language which they had just heard from the hon. Member, that Roman Catholic and Episcopalian children were not to be educated. He should like to know upon what principle of toleration and justice Roman Catholics and Episcopalians, who paid their share of taxation, should be refused education?


appealed to his hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. Macfie). It was impossible that in a case like the present one everyone could exactly have his own will. The Government had endeavoured to do the best they could; the House had shown a great disposition to meet the Government in arranging this Bill, and he hoped that his hon. Friend, with that good sense which he generally showed, would not think it necessary to take exception to an arrangement which seemed to be absolutely necessary.


explained that he did not object to the maintenance of the present schools, but to the introduction of a system which would bring a system of proselytizing into every parish.


said, that the Government had forced through the Bill in such manner that they had not been able to discuss the one clause of vital importance in the Bill. The Lord Advocate had told them that this was to be an undenominational Bill; but he (Mr. Aytoun) said that with this clause it would be a denominational Bill. It gave unlimited power to the Board to report to the Privy Council whether there should or should not be denominational schools; and looking at the conduct of the Government it was perfectly clear that this system would be entirely denominational. This question was not understood in Scotland, as the Lord Advocate had admitted; but at this period of the morning he must content himself with protesting against that clause, unless it was amended as proposed by the hon. Member for Ayr.


said, he desired, before the division was taken, to explain in a sentence or two the nature of this clause. His hon. Friend (Mr. Aytoun) had said that he had admitted that in Scotland this Bill was not understood. Now, what he (the Lord Advocate) said was this—that by the course taken the Amendments which the Lords had made had in some of the remoter parts of the country been taken to be the propositions of the Government. It certainly had never occurred to him that there were two hon. Members who had so little apprehension of the real nature of this Bill as the hon. Members for Ayr and Kirkcaldy as to say that this was a denominational Bill. This was the only attempt that had been made not to limit, but rather to destroy, the denominational system. He would first explain what it was that the Bill did. The parish schools wore not denominational schools, although the management was more restricted than could be wished. The other denominational schools receiving grants were by this Bill to continue to be put under undenominational inspection, and subjected to a Conscience Clause; and a machinery was provided for grafting them on to the national system. Undenominational inspection itself was a great advantage. The next question was what was to be the constitution of these national schools? These schools were to be founded by the Council, and were to be paid from the rates. Now, who could say that is the denominational system? Where was it proposed that the denominational schools were to be paid out of the rates? The provision was that these schools were to be put down, by the Board, and were to be managed by an undenominational committee chosen by the rate-payers of all denominations. It was a grievous misrepresentation to say that this was a denominational system. There was nothing denominational about it. It was as purely a national system as it could be. Then came the question what was to be done with the fragmentary but important portion of the population that did not belong to the Presbyterian Church—those belonging to the Roman Catholic persuasion. It was true the Scotch schools—strict and austere as the people were in their religious opinions— had always been conducted as though under a stringent Conscience Clause, and children of all persuasions could sit upon the same bench. But that was not enough. They knew, as a matter of fact, that Roman Catholic children would not attend Protestant schools. While in this clause, therefore, they prohibited denominational grants, or rather grants in addition to voluntary effort, they left it open to the Board, where they find a population suited to that special exception, where they are satisfied that the children will not otherwise be educated, to certify that such is the ease to the Privy Council, in order that the voluntary effort may be supplemented. But that did not give a denominational aspect to the fabric they were erecting.


said, the learned Lord Advocate had not explained why the Government had changed their opinion on this matter. He denounced the clause, for it tended to the establishment of denominationalism, and that in its very worst form.

Question put, "That the words 'erected or established more than two years,' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: — Ayes 74; Noes 4: Majority 70.

Clause amended, and agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Postponed clauses 23 to 47 agreed to.

New Clause— (Vote for schoolmasters in old National Schools.) Section twenty-two of the Act of the forty-third year of George III., chapter 54, is hereby repealed, and all owners of land in the parish whose rental appears in the Land tax valuation books, and who are liable to be assessed on their valued rent for payment of schoolmasters' salary, shall be entitled to vote in the appointment of schoolmasters in old National Schools.''—(The Lord Advocate.)

Clause added.

Other new clauses added; others moved and negatived.

Now Clause— (Certain occupiers of land to act with heritors in the matters of Parochial Schools, and disqualifying ministers from so acting.) It shall be lawful for all occupiers of land who are liable to be assessed for payment of parochial schoolmasters' salary under the Acts 43rd of the reign of His Majesty King George III., chapter 54, and the 24th and 25th of the reign of Her present Majesty, chapter 107, to attend and vote at all meetings for the election of a parochial schoolmaster, and for any other matter held by the herfitors pursuant to the two Acts here recited and this Act. It shall not be lawful for any parish minister ex officio to vote at any such meetings." —(Mr. Miller.)

Clause brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The Committee divided:— Ayes 9; Noes 51: Majority 42.

House resumed.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.

House adjourned at a quarter before Four o'clock.