HC Deb 19 July 1869 vol 198 cc152-3

said, he wished to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, What progress has been made in the inquiry into the educational condition of Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester; what are the instructions to the Commissioners conducting it; and how soon the House will be informed of the result: and, whether, considering the statements published by some competent authorities as to the educational condition of the Metropolis, the positive denial of their accuracy by others, and the absence of authentic information on the subject, Her Majesty's Government will extend the inquiry to the Metropolis, in order to guide Parliament in the consideration of the measures affecting Primary Education announced by the Government for next Session?


said, in reply, that he could not give the noble Lord the instructions to the Commissioners— in fact, he did not think it was at all usual for a Department, when engaged in preparing a Return, to give the instructions as to the mode in which that Return was to be obtained. The Department would be glad to have the assistance of the noble Lord, on account of the general interest he took in education, if he would give them any hints or suggestions as to the best mode of making the Return. The Department would make use of the office of Registrar General in obtaining the statistics, which he trusted would be ready some time in September or October. They would send down two of their Inspectors—Mr. Fearon and Mr. Fitch—to obtain information with regard to the schools in November and December, and the two gentlemen selected for that purpose were well known as able Inspectors, and for the skill with which they had conducted many inquiries. It was hoped that the information would be ready for Parliament soon after the opening of next Session. As to the other Question, about extending the inquiry to London, his noble Friend (Earl De Grey and Ripon) felt that he could not so extend it. The inquiry was specially ordered by the House for the three towns, not with the idea that the information was absolutely necessary for legislation, but because it was thought advisable to check the information they had already obtained. Some progress had been made with the matter; but it was almost impossible to get such a Return for London by the next Session of Parliament. If they were to attempt to get such a Return, in all probability legislation on education would be delayed, and besides, the Return would involve an amount of expense which the results would hardly justify.