HC Deb 07 August 1869 vol 198 cc1452-66

Bill, as amended, considered.


moved to insert, after Clause 5, the following clause:— The Board shall hold their meetings in public on the following occasions:—The half-yearly meetings; meetings for the cognizance of offences under this Act; meetings for the purpose of considering orders relative to the establishment of new national schools; orders relative to the building and enlargement of school buildings or schoolmasters' houses; meetings for considering certificates to the Committee of Council for special grants from the same.

Motion agreed to.

Clause addedto the Bill.

On the Motion of Mr. C. DALRYMPLE, Clauses (Regulations as to examination, for certificates of competency) addedto the Bill.


asked the hon. and learned Lord Advocate for a statement of the gross expense that would be entailed by carrying out the provisions of the Bill.


desired some explanation with regard to the 5th clause. Considerable anxiety was felt in Scotland with regard to the effect of the Schedule on the action of the Bill. He need not say how important it was to have some understanding on the subject of the financial effect of the Bill, because if it should happen that a rate of 3d. in the pound should be exacted, the whole thing might break down, and they would have to fall back upon the voluntary system after all. Moreover, it would raise some of those difficulties about the incidence of taxation which were touched upon last night. He thought, therefore, that with regard to the financial action of the Bill they should have a clear understanding on the points to which he had alluded. As to the burden of taxation, the Government had made a proposition in the Bill which was a very liberal one with regard to Scotland, and in respect to which he did not wish to offer any opposition: but, at the same time, he thought it important that they should know clearly how it would act. He should regret above all things if the tendency should be to supersede that large amount of private and individual agency by which the education of the country was to so great an extent carried on. He knew that in regard to his own county a large portion of the schools were supported by voluntary agency, by means of a system under which those who were engaged in public works were required by the owners of those works to make a certain payment. The result was to lead to the compulsory attendance of the children, which was the dream of many hon. Members. He thought it was highly to be deprecated if this Bill were to have the effect of inducing any persons to cease their efforts, and throw the schools upon the rates. In one of the populous districts of Lanarkshire the means of education were supplied by the parochial schools, which educated a large number, and further provision was made by private means for 4,800 more. If the action of the Bill should be to throw these private subscriptions on the rates the whole arrangement must break down. Unless a satisfactory explanation could be given he thought it would be improper that the Schedule should be passed in the form in which it was proposed.


said, the speech of his hon. Friend, he rather thought, went against the whole principle of the work that they had been doing in Committee for the last two or three days. His hon. Friend's view was, that it was better to have the denominational than the national system. That was really what it came to. He said he was afraid of the Bill interfering with voluntary exertion, and that it was better, in the first instance, to trust to the voluntary exertions of the people than to trust to a national system. He (the Lord Advocate) entirely and absolutely differed from him, and he was perfectly certain that the whole feeling of Scotland was wholly the other way. If the principles contended for by his hon. Friend were to be acted upon, the whole principle of the parochial schools would be upset, and they would only introduce a national system to supple- ment the deficiencies of voluntary contributions. His hon. Friend resided in a county of great wealth, and he formed judgment upon what he saw being done there; but he would find that in other places voluntary exertions had not done the work fully. There was, on the other hand, not the least fear that the work would ever be so done as to render voluntary efforts useless. He trusted that his hon. Friend would not insist on any change being introduced at this the last stage of the Bill.


fully believed, as far as he was able to form a judgment from the figures and facts on which the Commissioners based their Report, that, supposing the rate system succeeded to the fullest expectation of those who were in favour of it, a rate of 2d. in the pound would be abundantly sufficient. With regard to the cost of the new system, the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire would not probably expect at the present moment a definite estimate. He could now only give a general idea of what was likely to be the result. It was hoped that all the children in Scotland not at present at school would gradually be drawn into them, and in that case the aid given by the State would be increased in the aggregate amount, but to an expenditure so produced he imagined nobody would object. Supposing the most Utopian result to follow, and that the 510,000 children who ought to be on the rolls of the schools—not deducting the children of the upper classes and those who went to private schools — received per head the same amount of grant as that given in England—namely, 10s. per head, the expenditure on that score would be £250,000, or £260,000 at the very utmost. But that was a result not to be expected for many years to come. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman might be under the impression that the Scotch Members desired more money per child than was given in England, but he believed that what the Scotch Members wanted from alterations in the Revised Code was not more money per child for Scotland, as against England, but that the money should be distributed according to Scotch views in reference to education, rather than according to English views. At the present moment, however, England was getting more per child than Scotland. The children were divided into three classes—agricultural, non-agricultural, and mixed.; and in the year ending on August 31, 1868, the average was 9s. 2d. in the agricultural division for England, and 8s. 8d. for Scotland. In the non-agricultural division the average was 9s.d. for England, 7s.d. for Scotland. In the mixed division the average was 9s.d. in England and 8s. 6d. in Scotland. The result was very much owing to the Minute of his right hon. predecessor in Office (Mr. Corry) being in operation in England and not in Scotland, and he was glad of this opportunity to correct a mistake he made on a previous occasion in not giving so much credit as he intended to the action of that Minute. The proposition contained in the Schedule of the Bill would practically give to Scotland what was given to England. Another thing which caused increased expense was that it was deemed inconsistent with the principle of a rate that Article 4 of the Revised Code, relating to aid given to any child engaged in manual labour, should be insisted on. He did not think, however, that that would make much practical difference. The only other point on which there could be more expense had reference to special grants to special districts. He would not go into a detail of the reasons for the special grants, but would content himself with remarking that it would be quite vain to hope to extend education to the Hebrides and to remote districts in the Highlands without the aid of these grants. As far as he was able to make out, the amount which the Treasury might be called on to supply for this increase in the annual grants would be from £6,000 to £7,000, and he should be putting it down at the very utmost if he said £10,000. There was a small item under the head of building grants, but it must be remembered that the total of the building grants in the Hebrides from 1844 to 1864 had amounted only to £1,753. The only other point he had to notice was the provision to re-place the present mode of examination by examiners appointed by the University. He stated yesterday that there would be no loss on that head, and, in fact, he believed that there would be a considerable saving. His right hon. Friend thought it safe to put down the expense of this examination at £600; but as there would be a large number of young men to be examined under the present Bill, two or three additional Inspectors would be required if they were to trust only to the present system of inspection: and the cost of an Inspector's remuneration for the first year of service might be reckoned at £600. Independently, however, of the economical advantages of having the examination conducted by the University, it was not desirable for the central department to have a great amount of detailed work.


said, he had to move an Amendment, to insert after "parish" the words "or in any burgh." He thought there might be cases of burghs in which the 3d. rate would not give 16s. per head, and the object of his Amendment was to enable burghs in that position to have their 3d. rate supplemented out of the grants of the Privy Council in the same way as was proposed in respect to landward parishes.


said, as he had read the Bill, whatever money was raised by rate must be met with an equal amount by the Treasury.


said, he was afraid it would be impossible for the Government to accede to the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Ayr, that the burghs should be put in the same position as landward parishes. The ground for the exception made in the case of landward parishes was the peculiar circumstances of these parishes, and not merely the comparative poverty of the district — though that was a strong reason. Generally speaking, the population was so sparse that even with the same amount of property per head it was more difficult to found a school. Taking these two things into consideration, the Government had thought it right to give this exceptional favour to these special districts. But it would be impossible for the Government to make that a ground for increasing the rate throughout the country.


said, there was a general impression that the 16s. which was given in the Highland districts was a very large amount as compared with what would be won in England by a child under the most favourable circumstances. But this was not the case. Under the Revised Code at present 15s. might be won, whereas, in these exceptional Highland districts, where there was a great difficulty of obtaining education, 16s. was the utmost, and the amount would be quite inappreciable as a charge upon the Exchequer. They had taken advantage of all denominational efforts in Scotland, and all the denominational schools would continue under the Bill as at present. In the burghs, where they were rich, a large amount of denominational zeal was in operation, and a considerable number of schools had been formed. The 3d. rate was in addition to all that, and in all probability would be quite sufficient. It would certainly be ample when they considered that the 66th clause applied to those large burghs where there were numbers of Roman Catholics and Episcopalians who did not go to the general schools. Those burghs were amply provided with denominational schools by the 66th clause, and under those circumstances he did not see any ground for the exception. The denominational schools were only of use where there was a rich population to support them.


said, he thought the hon. Gentleman had misunderstood the points he had wished to make. He feared that the bonus of Government would tend to withdraw subscriptions, and to throw so many of these schools on the public rates that the system would break down. He therefore put it distinctly to the Government as to the possibility of making a distinction between town and country. It was important that in working this Bill out Government should not destroy this voluntary agency.


said, the Bill permitted denominationalism, but did not require it; and he did not think it even encouraged it. As to the comparative smallness of the amount with which the burghs were to be remunerated, he had no fear of that, for the reason that it would encourage the burghs to unite their schools, and they would thus get rid of the last vestiges of denominationalism.

Amendment negatived.


moved the insertion of the words "or when the same has not been levied, but would if levied yield." That would enable grants to be made in those parishes where the 3d. rate had not been levied.


opposed the Amendment, which, if adopted, would do away with the provision of the Schedule altogether.

Amendment negatived.


moved to leave out the words "beyond the sum fixed by," in order to insert "under" in line 37 of the Schedule, the effect of the Amendment being to make all sums derived from the legal assessment of the heritors of any parish under the minimum sum fixed by the Parochial and Burghs Schoolmasters' Scotland Act, 1861, available as local contribution for the purpose of the Act. In 1863, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was then Vice President of the Council, expressed an opinion to the effect that the amount which the heritors were bound to pay could not be considered in the light of an endowment, but was more in the nature of a charitable contribution. But as the Bill stood, a new and unfair principle had been introduced, the Privy Council giving 'nothing to any parochial schools which had local contributions up to £35, and giving grants to the other schools whether they raised £1, £35, or £100.

Amendment proposed, in Schedule (A), page 28, lines 37 and 38, to leave out the words "beyond the minimum sum fixed by," in order to insert the word "under," — (Lord Elcho,) — instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."


said, the Government must object to the Amendment, because it would lead to a new demand upon the Imperial purse, and it would alter all the arrangements with regard to the conditions on which aid should be given in Scotland. It would be unreasonable to do that at the last moment—especially as the question had been very carefully considered as to what change should be made, and in what respects more money should be given. There was another ground on which he objected to the Amendment, and that was, that no interference whatever had been made with the mode in which parochial schools were paid for; and he did not think it would be wise now to make any change with regard to it. As to the schoolmasters, he was glad to find, whatever might be said against the old parochial schools system of Scotland, that the result of the system had been to produce, upon the whole, a better paid body of schoolmasters than in any other part of the three Kingdoms. The Schedule was the result of an arrangement which was considered satisfactory by those who took an interest in the matter. He thought the question was one that ought to be considered by the Government, but he could not mislead the House by holding out the hope that an arrangement which had been carefully considered would be annulled.


said, he would withdraw the proposition for the present; but he gave notice that he would bring it forward on the third reading, as everyone who had spoken upon it had thought it an equitable proposition.

Amendment withdrawn.


moved the insertion of the following words, after the word "Scotland" in line 17 of the Preamble "including religious education according to use and wont."

Amendment proposed, in the Preamble, page 1, line 17, after the word "Scotland," to insert the words "including religious education according to use and wont."—(Sir Graham Montgomery.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


remarked that the Bill in its present state reminded him of what Sir Robert Inglis had said of an Irish Education Bill—namely, that it was" a gigantic scheme of godless education." He believed that religion was only twice referred to in the Bill, and then only in a negative form, once in a clause which said that the Inspector should not make inquiry into religious matters, and again in the Conscience Clause. These were the only two places in which there was any allusion to the existence of such a thing as religion or religious feeling, and he thought it unfortunate that it should be so.


said, there was a large number of persons in Scotland— he was one of them — who objected to any legislation which would make the teaching of religion compulsory. The religious element in Scotch education must be a matter of conviction and not of compulsion.


I hope that the hon. Member for Peebles and Selkirk will not press his Amendment. I agree with him, and with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire, that the Scotch people have no desire for mere secular education in their schools. From the time that the Church of Scotland became the successor of Papacy and Episcopacy, as a Church of the State, she has been ardent in the cause of education, and has infused into it religious teaching. This was so thoroughly understood that there is nothing provided to that effect in the Act of 1696, when the management of the schools passed over from the Church to the lay heritors. The Church will not forget her old traditions now, though the area of taxation is enlarged and rate-payers are substituted for heritors. The Free Church, which, since its formation in 1843, has spent £600,000 on schools, is not likely to be less zealous in the cause of religion, although, confiding in a national system, she may no longer continue to create new schools. The large body of United Presbyterians have always taken a distinctive and enlightened view of the duties of a Church in the religious education of the people. The great bulk of the Scottish people have one Bible, one Catechism, one Confession of Faith. It is no doubt the earnest desire of the Scottish people to use these in what their old divines called "the godly upbringing of their youth." All the Churches will join in this pious act with fervid zeal, provided you entrust to them the duties of a common Christianity which they all profess, and do not raise up denominational jealousies to keep them asunder. I object to the insertion of these words, not because they introduce religion into Scotch schools, for that is desired by the people, but because they are unnecessary, and tend to perpetuate sectarian bitterness, which it is the object of this measure to allay. The "use and wont" for which the hon. Members contend is objected to on very different grounds by three Churches in Scotland. The United Presbyterians object to it on the principle that the Church and the parents should deal with religion, and the school with secular education. Episcopalians dislike it, because "use and wont" mean the Catechism of the Church of Scotland and the Westminster Confession of Faith. Roman Catholics cannot consent to it, for the tenets of the Presbyterian Church are essentially different from their own. The terms "use and wont" introduced into the Bill necessarily limit its nationality, and restrict its application. Besides, no security for the future religious character of a nation can be given by the insertion of a few words in an Act of Parliament. A far more lasting security subsists in the past and present religious character of the people. Scotland rested on that security, when, in 1696, it established the national system, without any statutory provisions of a religious kind. Let us rest on it now in the assured conviction that the religion, morality, and knowledge of the community will be best promoted by the confidence which we repose in the religious sense of the people.


wished to say a word in reference to what had fallen from the hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh. The hon. Gentleman had stated in substance that the Church of Scotland always took care of the religious teaching of the schools. This was an error. The Act of George III. which regulated the schools provided that the heritors should decide upon those branches of education which were to be taught; and, having done this, they were to appoint the teacher, and send him to the presbytery to be examined respecting his ability to teach these branches; but beyond this the Church had nothing to do with the matter. The feeling of the people was that religion should be taught, and, as far as he knew, very few persons objected to this; but very many would object to anything like a provision to compel that to be done which had always been done by tacit assent. With regard to what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire as to there being nothing in the Bill about religion, and as to its being "a gigantic scheme of godless education," he could only say that it was the same scheme that had existed for centuries in Scotland, and he had never before heard it termed a scheme of godless education. On the contrary, this Bill did more than any Act that had ever been passed to recognize religion, because it said there should be a Conscience Clause. Now, did not this imply that religion was expected to be taught; otherwise, why should a Conscience Clause be needed? Another provision in the Bill said that the Inspector should not inquire respecting the religious teaching. Did not this also imply that there was to be religious teaching? If not, why should they prohibit the Inspector from inquiring into it? Therefore, in place of the Bill being one for reducing the system of education in Scotland to what the right hon. Gentleman called a godless system, he held that there was a stronger recognition of religious teaching in the Bill than in any of the Acts which had yet been passed respecting parish. schools in Scotland.


said, he was of opinion that it was the duty of the Legislature to provide for the religious education of the people, but he concurred with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh in thinking that in this Bill the Legislature had provided for the religious education of the people by placing the responsibility in such hands as would secure a good religious education. He hoped, therefore, that this would not be called a godless Bill. The particular question was whether they should put a recognition of religious teaching in the front of the Bill by inserting the words suggested in the Preamble of the Bill. As a matter of choice he would prefer that it should be so; but if the Amendment were pressed to a division; he should vote for it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be read the third time upon Monday."


moved that the Bill be re-committed, in order to raise the question as to the appointment of the Secretary to the Board. Whether the Bill was a godless Bill or not, it was boasted to be an undenominational Bill. What was proposed to be done was to stamp it as a Bill of an unsectarian character. Now, he desired to see this principle carried out in the appointment of the Secretary to the Board; indeed, he would go still further, and say that, in his opinion, not only ought the Secretary to be a layman, but the members of the Board ought to be laymen also. He would not, however, propose this now. He hoped the Government would see that it would not be fitting to propose any minister of religion as Secretary, and he trusted also that if any minister of religion was placed upon the Board, he would be selected only on the ground of his services to the cause of education, and that he would not be associated in the minds of the people with distinct sectarian opinions.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the words "Bill be" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "re-committed to a Committee of the whole House,"—(Mr. Charles Dalrymple,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


thought it would be in the highest degree unwise to appoint a clerical Secretary. In saying this he did not in the faintest degree imply a slur on any minister. It was simply urged in deference to the fact that, unfortunately, Scotland was broken into sects and parties of Churchmen, and to appoint any clergyman, however distinguished, would, he thought, be very unwise.


said, he could not part with the Bill without expressing a hope that this was the last time important social questions affecting Scotland would be settled by a Scotch Parliament, sitting in a committee room upstairs. When he first came into the House, then a long time ago, he was told that this was done to save time. It did not save time now. There had been no Bill before the House that Session— whether from England or from Ireland —on which more time had been wasted than on that Bill. Though the Bill had never been properly discussed on its principles, the time of the House had been wasted in unprofitable wrangles on almost every occasion on which the Bill had to make a step in its progress through that House. There were questions coming on in Scotland of great social importance. The question of hypothec—by which the rights of landlord and tenant not only in this Empire, but through all Europe might be affected —those of the Game Laws and the Poor Laws; and, lastly, that of education itself, which was sure to be raised again, were all of the deepest social importance. They could not be settled by Scotchmen for Scotland alone. The whole Empire would be affected by what happened in Scotland. He, for one, would not consent that, whilst a social revolution was brewing in Scotland, English Members should sit still, without taking any part in the discussion, without attempting to check or to control it, until it overflowed the Border and they were submerged.


said, he could not concur in several portions of the Bill, particularly that portion which related to the establishment of the Board. He objected to the Board on the grounds that it would increase patronage, that it would increase expense, and diminish efficiency. If the Vice President of the Council of Education could manage a Department relating to a population several times more numerous than that of Scotland, he thought a single Commissioner would be sufficient for Scotland. With regard to the question whether the Secretary should or should not be a clergyman, he thought the Government would exercise a sound discretion in the matter, and that to prescribe a certain line for the Government to follow would not only be invidious, but very unwise.


protested against Members of the House taking possession of the appointment of Secretary, and saying who was or was not to be appointed. The Bill proposed to place the responsibility of the selection upon the Government. If the House thought the Government unfit to be entrusted with this responsibility, they were also unfit to sit on the Treasury Bench.


said, he thought it was not too much to ask the Government for a pledge that the Secretary should be a layman.


said, that the Government had listened with great respect to all the suggestions that had been made, both in public and private, with regard to the appointment of Secretary to the Board; but in their opinion they would not be justified in pledging themselves to exclude any class of persons from a title to the appointment. At the same time, they would give the most careful consideration to any suggestion that might be made; and of course they were most anxious to make such an appointment as would be likely to command general support. The hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen (Colonel Sykes) had said that if the Vice President of the Committee of Council could administer the Office intrusted to him, why could they not trust one man in the case of Scotland. He (Mr. Bruce) would not say that one man could not do it, but there were other considerations to be regarded. It was essential that the Board should be a representative body, and that persons representing various opinions should be upon it. He could not sit down without thanking the House for the patience with which they had conducted the protracted discussion on this Bill, and he must give his tribute to the perfect fairness with which the hon. Gentlemen opposite had conducted those discussions under circumstances which he quite admitted were open to expostulation. He hoped on Monday to be able to state the names of the Commissioners and of the Secretary.


said, that if it was proper that the Secretary should be a clergyman, the members of the Board should be clergymen also. There was no doubt that the Government would see that the Board should be so constituted as to be an impartial one. There were many clerically-minded persons among the laity, and the question was not so much one of the profession of those who might be appointed as of the liberality of their views.


said, he had yesterday mentioned that there was a rumour afloat, that a certain minister in Scotland who had taken a very active part for the Government in the elections had been promised the appointment of Secretary. The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock had taken to task those who endeavoured to get the Government to give a pledge on this subject. He (Lord Elcho) agreed with his hon. Friend near him, that, in the case of a Bill the object of which to be undenominational, one of the worst things that they could do would be to give a denominational character to the measure by appointing a clerical gentlemen to the office of Secretary. The majority on that (the Opposition) side of the House were perfectly agreed that the office should not be filled by a clergyman.


thought it a pity that the noble Lord should have mingled with a question, what it was quite fair to consider, observations or allusions to an individual. The Government would endeavour to make appointments which would fairly represent the feelings of the people of Scotland, and they would not be led into a discussion upon an individual question which his noble Friend had, he thought, with questionable taste, introduced. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill to be read the third time upon Monday, and to be printed. [Bill 265.]