§ MR. MELLY
* I rise, Sir, to call the attention of the House to the numbers of young children in our large towns who are growing up without any education, unaffected either by the educational clauses of the Factories Act, or by voluntary efforts, and to move for a Select Committee to inquire into, and, if possible, suggest a remedy for, this serious state of matters. The great courtesy I received at the hands of the House last Session, on the two or three occasions on which I ventured to address the House on matters nearly touching the welfare of the industrial classes, has emboldened me to ask its attention to this subject, in which, both as a Liverpool magistrate and as a representative of one of our most populous industrial communities, I feel a very deep interest. I am well aware that, as this debate will show, many hon. Members would more ably have commenced this discussion, but I gather courage from the knowledge that this is no party Motion. Every hon. Member in this House has equally at heart the education of every child in this kingdom, and the time has not yet arrived at which any section of this House, pinning its faith to some particular measure, will assert that, by that means alone, can this desirable end be attained. I am met by an Amendment, which will be moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), declaring that it is inexpedient to grant the proposed Committee, because the information necessary for the framing of a comprehensive measure of national education is already in the hands of Her Majesty's Government. I do not know whether Her Majesty's Government will 1190 support the hon. Member for Brighton in that statement; but the information in question is certainly not upon the table of the House, nor do I know where it can be obtained. There have been countless blue books, and two principal inquiries into the state of primary education in this country. The Royal Commission of 1861 inquired into the general state of primary education; and the Select Committee, presided over by Sir Stafford Northcote, which reported in July, 1861, dealt with the condition of destitute and neglected children. But, out of the fourteen largest provincial towns, the educational state of Bradford, Stoke-upon-Trent, and Merthyr Tydvil are the only ones reported upon by the Royal Commission of 1861, and in its Report there are no figures and no information whatever as regards the three great provincial cities to which I propose to call the attention of the House. Again, the Select Committee on Destitute and Neglected Children reported only on the ragged and industrial schools of London and Bristol, and gave no information whatever on the points I desire to raise. The Committee said in their Report—There still remains a residue to be dealt with, though of its numbers the Committee have no evidence.And it is on this question of their numbers I wish for information. Again the Committee reported—For children who have acquired criminal or vagrant habits provision is made by the Industrial Schools Bill. Until that measure has been tried, no other provision, at the expense of the State, should be made for this class.Eight years having passed away since that decision was arrived at, information on that point is now required. What has been the result of the extension of the Factories and Workshops Acts? How has the Industrial Schools Act answered? At what cost are these schools carried on? We have been told that Her Majesty's Government are unable this year to deal with the great question of primary education, and that they will confine themselves to the passing, if it be possible, of the Endowed Schools Bill. That being so, inquiry might be very wisely and legitimately made by this House into the number of children at school in the great provincial cities, the cost of their education, and the kind of education they are receiving, also as to the action of the Industrial Schools Act, the effect of the 1191 extension of the educational clauses of the Factory Act to those large towns, and more especially the operation of the new legislation called the Workshops Act. These are matters on which it would be well that information should be laid on the table of the House. Some years ago, in a speech delivered at Halifax, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Mr. Bruce), whose views we can have no reason to believe have been modified by the high position he now holds, said—Any system worthy of being called national must be one capable, if not immediately, yet sooner or later, of grappling with the whole difficulties of national education—there must be no class un-provided for.I hold—and I am supported by many hon. Members in holding—that, if you will insist upon having—as you must insist upon having—a scheme of national education capable of grappling with every class of children, you will have to adopt a system of compulsory attendance and free municipal schools; but neither the Government nor the House, much less the country, will be prepared to adopt a measure of so drastic and novel a character, unless they are thoroughly convinced that the facts and figures will justify so extreme a course. We may have, in the first instance, to adopt an experimental plan, and we may have to deal in this novel manner with four or six or eight of the largest cities, before such a measure of education for the whole country can be proposed with any prospect of success. I may be asked, "Why have you not included the rural districts in your Motion; because the state of education in the rural districts is as deplorable as it is in the large cities?" It may be so, and it may not be so; but the ignorance in rural districts, serious as it may be, does not bring with it the drunkenness, the pauperism, the misery, the crime, and the excessive rates of which it is at once the cause and the effect in our large cities. I will not take up the time of the House by describing how, in our great cities, 300,000 or 500,000 persons are brought together, within an area of from five to eight square miles, subject to conditions for which our modern legislation has not provided. The parochial system has broken down; ministers of all religious denominations are completely overwhelmed with work and outnum- 1192 bered by the destitution, misery, and irreligion of the thousands which surround them. The relations between employer and employed have become impersonal; we hardly know the numbers of the people we employ, and we deal with them not as units but in hundreds—as hands not men. The ever-widening gulf between rich and poor, who have ceased even to live near one another, so that whole districts exist in each of our great cities in which, if not the most respectable, the wealthiest, ratepayers are the pawnbroker at one corner, who takes the drunkard's clothes in pledge, and the gin-palace keeper at the other, who sells half-penny worths of gin to little children whose heads can hardly reach to his counter—the existence of organized and recognized professors of crime, and the professional mendicancy which is so largely encouraged by the many stupid people who give money indiscriminately in the streets—all these conditions of life in great cities constitute the almost insoluble problem with which we have to deal.
In support of the Motion I shall confine myself to large cities, and in speaking of the educational destitution of large towns I shall select the three principal cities of the Empire—Liverpool, our first seaport—Manchester, the metropolis of the cotton manufacture—and Birmingham, the centre of the hardware trade, which contain an aggregate population of 1,219,807. This is no invidious selection. There are no three cities which by voluntary effort, by sanitary legislation, by municipal action, and by private charity, have so distinguished themselves. The municipality of Liverpool has subscribed no less than £7,500 during the last seven years to the reformatory movement, and gives 1s. a week to the support of each inmate of the local industrial schools. By the liberality of private individuals, Liverpool maintained 626 children in her five reformatories, 950 in her nine certificated industrial schools, and 2,672 in her orphanages. Manchester has ever taken the lead in all educational, as in all political matters; her Education Aid Society has sent thousands of children to school during the last five years, and, had it been left to Manchester by a wise legislature to deal with the educational condition of her people, she would long ago have solved the problem for herself. The municipality of Bir- 1193 mingham stands alone in having established and maintained an industrial school; and her Education Aid Society, presided over by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon), who will second this Motion, has sent many hundreds of children to school during the last three or four years. If the condition of things I am about to show, exists in these cities which have done so much, what must be the condition of those other large towns which are behind-hand in the race of private benevolence, public action, and voluntary effort? It has been humourously said that there is nothing so delusive as statistics, except facts; but, until the statistics asked for are placed on the table of the House, we must take the most reliable figures we can obtain: this at least I can say, I have selected them honestly from the best sources, and I will use them fairly. One word to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary: I hope that when the Census of 1871 is taken we may at last obtain correct educational statistics. They were only partially given by the Registrar General in 1851; they were entirely omitted in 1861; may we not hope that in 1871 an end may be put to the discussions which take place about the correctness of educational statistics, by provision being made for a complete educational survey of the country? I deal with Liverpool first. Some time ago a few gentlemen, of both parties and of different religious denominations, met together with a view of taking measures to inquire into the educational state of the borough. They made a fair selection of three streets in each of the sixteen wards; they visited every house in those forty-eight streets, and they found, excluding infants, 5,890 children at school, and 6,443 not at school and not at work. From the Returns of the Registrar General there are 98,256 children of school age, that is between the age of three and thirteen, in Liverpool. The proportions arrived at by visiting three streets in each ward would, if extended to the whole borough, give 46,925 children at school, and 51,331 not at school. They not only visited the streets, but they visited every school, down to schools containing twenty or thirty children, and they found 45,677 children at school; a result amply confirming the conclusion drawn from their previous calculation. Public spirit in Liverpool is strong enough. There is no want of school 1194 accommodation; the disease lies deeper than this, and some more efficacious remedy must be devised. There are 15,991 vacant places in our existing schools, of which no fewer than 10,000 are in the schools intended for the working classes. Religious differences cannot be pleaded, for there is room for 6,000 in Protestant schools, and for 3,000 young Roman Catholics. Poverty cannot be urged; for without reckoning ragged day and evening schools there are 1,500 vacancies in the free schools. There is no juvenile labour, no employment for children under thirteen, in the town of Liverpool; the Factory Act, therefore, can have no operation; yet there are from 40,000 to 50,000 children of school age who are not at school. As a Liverpool magistrate, I assert that there are from 25,000 to 30,000 children in the streets of Liverpool who are learning nothing, if they be not learning habits of vagrancy, mendicancy, and crime. The chief constable of Liverpool has courteously undertaken to look into the subject a little closely. On a certain day, when the schools of Liverpool were open, and between half-past ten and half-past eleven in the forenoon, police officers were specially told off to count the number of children apparently under fifteen years of age who were "at large" in twelve streets and at twelve junctions, omitting all boys who had the appearance of going about their business, and all girls who had children in their charge. The police counted no fewer than 1,906 little girls and 2,692 little boys. On another day the police counted the children who were—the House will observe the bitter irony of the term—"at large" around the warehouses where sugar and fruit were being taken in, and along the line of docks where ships were being discharged—parts of the town in which such children had no business to be—and the number counted was 713–514 boys and 172 girls. Again the police counted the number of little children who were selling fusees in the streets at night, and there were 288 at six o'clock, and at eleven o'clock 127, of whom forty were little girls. I now come to the case of Manchester. The Manchester Education Aid Society has not confined itself to sending children to school, but it has collected some statistics to which reference may perhaps be made by the hon. Members for Manchester. The results, 1195 arrived at, however, are these—there are in Manchester, as appears from the Returns of the Registrar General, 75,667 children of school age, of whom less than half are at school and less than a quarter at work, and there cannot be less than from 20,000 to 25,000 who are living the life of the streets. In Birmingham a canvass has been made of 52,573 children, of whom 37,112 were found to be of school age. There appeared to be fewer at work in Birmingham than there are in Manchester; and, of the 77,687 children the Registrar General reports existing in Birmingham of school age, no fewer than 18,000 or 20,000 are unaccounted for, and are no doubt receiving their education in the streets. To sum up, then, in the three towns 94,502 children have been visited; 25,002 were found at school, 29,128 were neither at school nor at work, and 12,661 were at work, making 66,791 of the school age accounted for. If calculations be based on these figures, the experience of this actual canvass gives this general result. The Registrar General puts the number of children of school age in these three towns at 251,710. Of these only 56,261 are receiving education in schools recognized by the House of Commons and to which grants are made; not more than 125,000 can be put down as attending any school whatever; not more than 55,000 are at work; and there are no fewer than from 65,000 to 75,000 children in these three towns—and we have no reason to believe that they are, in proportion to their population, any worse than all other large towns—who are growing up unaffected either by the educational clauses of the Factories Act, the Industrial Schools Act, or by voluntary effort. This is the result we have arrived at by our laissez faire policy of leaving everything to be done by voluntary effort, and our want of courage in dealing with the sectarian differences which have so long retarded educational progress. The time has come to put out the strong hand of the law to teach and, thus to, save this vast number of children. There is nothing exceptional in this state of things if we compare it with what exists in other parts of the world. The State of New York subscribes £1,000,000 sterling, or one-fifth of its entire taxation, to educational purposes, to a complete system of State free schools; and yet two years ago the su- 1196 perintendent of the State declared that there were 75,000 children within the city of New York who either attended no school or whose means of instruction were limited to the briefest possible period. Granting their system of enrolment to be perfect, we find that last year 222,526 children enrolled gave an average attendance of only 91,984. The superintendent sums up his Report in these words—"I will not ask, looking to these vast numbers, What shall we do with them? But I will ask, What will they do with us?" I am sorry to take up the time of the House with so many statistics; but I must attempt to answer this question—What are they doing with us? I turn to a table showing the increase of crime and the decrease of education in the three towns I have named. As we have sown so we are reaping. There is no question which is being so much pressed on our attention as that of the excessive increase of local rates. It is pauperism, the child of drunkenness, which again is the child of ignorance, which is causing this vast cry against our heavy local taxation. The Home Secretary, the other day, in answer to a Deputation on the question of the increase of crime, said he did not believe there was any great increase of the blacker descriptions and the darker sorts of crime; but the Home Secretary did not and could not say that there is no increase in the large centres of population of petty larceny, drunkenness, and of those smaller descriptions of crime which bring so many persons for the first time under the supervision of the police. In the year 1861 the apprehensions in the three towns of Liverpool, Birmingham, and Manchester, were 31,193, and in 1868 they were 52,098, and, whereas in 1861 the number of children apprehended was 1,749, in 1868 it was 3,720. A noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury), for whom we all entertain the highest respect, and whose words, when he sat in this House, were listened to with deep attention, stated the other evening that he did not believe there was so close connection as was believed between the increase of crime and the diminution of education; but the figures which I am about to read by no means confirm the theory of the noble Marquess. In 1861, in the three towns, there were apprehended 1,244 persons who could read and write 1197 well, and 11,626 who could not read and write at all; and in 1868 the number who could read and write was diminished to 1,022, and the number who could not was increased to 20,032. The vast increase in the amount of local rates is thus easily accounted for. The total cost of the police force and gaols of Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham, has reached the frightful sum of £215,680, or 1s. 3d. in the pound on the rateable value of the property in the three cities. In the streets of those cities there are 75,000 children—were they in free schools they would cost £70,000 per annum. If these cities spent £50,000 a year out of the rates, supplemented by the ordinary Privy Council Grant, the expenditure would require a rate of only 3½d. or 4d. in the pound. A sacred proverb reads thus: "There is that which scattereth and yet increaseth;" this would be the sort of expenditure which, even whilst it scattered, would first economize and then increase the wealth of the community.
I have done what I promised in bringing under the notice of the House the number of children in our large cities who grow up in the streets, the anterooms of our gaols, and the nurseries which fill our reformatories and industrial schools. Now I come to the more difficult question—"How are we to deal with these children?" I maintain we cannot deal with them through the Factory Act, however widely we may extend its provisions, because they are not at work, and therefore do not come under its action. In Liverpool there are no children under the Factory Act, and but very few under the Workshops Act. In Birmingham, out of 37,000 children, only 6,237 were found at work; and, of the 18,380 children who can neither read nor write, only 2,981 would be affected by the Factory Act, even if it extended to every workshop or every errand-boy. Another visitation showed that, of 14,986 children who were visited, 1,542 were at work as errand-boys and nurse-girls, leaving 13,400 or 90 per cent untouched by the Factory or the Workshops Acts. But the Factory Act was never intended by this House to educate these children. It is a sanatory law, which the good sense and patriotism of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite forced upon us, not as a measure calculated to educate children, but to preserve their health 1198 and strength; to protect them from the grasping parents who might wish to sell their young lives by forcing them to work at an immature age. It was never intended to be the means, and it is quite a new idea to look to these labour Acts as educational agencies; no doubt it is very convenient to convert the great manufacturers and employers of labour into a school police; but it cuts both ways, as in large towns, whore juvenile labour is very plentiful, half-timers are being gradually dismissed from employment to avoid the restrictions and interference of these Acts. According to the latest Returns furnished to me there are only 87,000 at the outside in all England—there were only 67,000 in 1861—who come under the provisions of the Factory and Workshops Acts. Other Members will no doubt state that, under the Factory Act, children are receiving a very insufficient teaching, and that even these children are being neglected in on educational sense. The Factory Acts, looked upon as Acts to promote education, are defective in the extreme, and the House may rest assured it is not through their operation that we shall effect the object. Nor yet by the Industrial Schools Act. There are eighty certified industrial schools in Great Britain, and they contained on the 31st December last 5,465 children. They already cost the Treasury £68,000 a year. They are simply charity boarding schools at £18 a head per annum; and no community can afford by such agencies to educate 10 or 20,000 children. On financial grounds, and on grounds of political economy alike, I maintain that industrial schools must be looked upon simply as temporary and palliative measures, as excellent private charities, but to which a State contribution is hardly to be defended; and at the proper time I shall be ready to argue, that, in contributing such a sum as £68,000 per annum for the education, clothing, and maintenance of 5,465 pauper and neglected children, the State is overstepping the bounds of its duty to the honest and industrious taxpayer. These schools are utterly indefensible as a primary means of education. No town, no nation can afford to place in such schools every child whom they cannot educate by other means. Further, those institutions must have a most immoral effect on the honest and industrious poor, who see the children 1199 of the intemperate and improvident thus handsomely provided for. I have received letters on this point from the stipendiary magistrates of Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham—they are all to the same effect. They say that the Industrial Schools Acts, though absolutely necessary at present, are most extravagant in their operation, and that nominations to these schools are already sought for their children by the poor, as if they were the objects of honourable competition, and not a disgraceful sentence to a pauper prison of children whose parents had failed to do their duty. That is the condition to which we are reducing our people by blinking the great difficulty of dealing with the children in our large cities by legislation of an honest and fearless character. It is to the workhouse and not to the industrial schools that really neglected and destitute children and orphans should be sent. We ought not to have two such systems at work. Education should be kept entirely separate from lodging, maintenance, and clothing. The State can wisely and safely give the one; but to give the other, except through the legal action of the Poor Law, is to pauperize the community. It will be said the industrial schools are necessary because workhouse schools are inefficient, and their inmates imbibe a taint of pauperism from which they never get free. Then let us make our workhouse schools better; but, on any large scale, to extend this new system would be alike extravagant and impolitic. We cannot effect, then, our object by the extension of the Factory or Industrial School Acts, so neither can we attain it by the Bill of the Home Secretary and the Vice President of the Council, compelling the erection of rated schools. That is a great step in the right direction, and I hope that a Bill of that character, based upon those principles, but supplemented by the principle of compulsory attendance, will be introduced, and to such a Bill I will give my most energetic support. But we do not want any more schools. There are 13,182 vacant places in the public Government-supported schools of Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham—what we want is scholars, not schools. The Rev. F. Watkins, National School Inspector, Yorkshire, reports—In ray district, which in this respect is not behind others, school accommodation is much 1200 more, I will not say than is needed, but than is used. In the day schools not 58 per cent of the space provided for children is occupied by them. In other words, the schools are nearly half empty.Mr. J. G. Fitch, British and Foreign School Inspector, Yorkshire, reports—The figures for the year just ended give 24,174 children in space for 30,391, or 79.5 per cent. The number of scholars in average attendance, however, amounts to less than half of the number for whom there is school-room accommodation; a fact well deserving the attention of those who think that the great problem of public education is to be solved by the simple process of providing good schools in sufficient numbers.And I might indefinitely multiply this evidence. Neither can the problem be solved by simply establishing free schools. The experience of the Education Aid Societies of Manchester and Birmingham is conclusive on this point; they have tried the experiment of free schools by giving thousands of free tickets which were never used. The Manchester Society has issued 35,000 tickets for school, and every case has been carefully investigated. It shows the apathy and indifference of many parents to education, that in one year 9,000 of these school orders were not used, although the fees in some cases were partially and in others entirely paid. The first year 74 per cent of the school orders were used; the second year, 54 per cent; the third year, 45 per cent; the fourth year, 37 per cent; and the fifth year, when the operations of the society were restricted for want of funds, 60 per cent. At a cost of £7,500 the society has sent some 4,000 children to school during the last five years, but they have only raised the average attendance at the public schools of Manchester by 2,387, thus showing that in many cases they were paying for those who had previously paid for themselves. The experience of the Birmingham Society is similar. It has not limited its sphere of usefulness to the careful collection of such statistics as those I have placed before the House. Following the example of the Manchester Education Aid Society, the Birmingham Society issued in one year 4,729 free school orders, and of those only 3,097 were used, while 1,178 were never presented. This accounts for the increase in the school attendance in Birmingham of 2,987. What is the verdict at which the Birmingham Society has arrived after an experience of three years, and 1201 a large expenditure of money? The society says—"By paying the full amount of the school fees, and not calling on the parent to pay any part, we have fully tested this matter, and the general conclusion—the result of actual experiment—seems to be that the poor are divided on the matter of education into two classes—one class prevented by poverty from sending their children to school—these are making good use of the society's free school orders, and are sending their children with satisfactory regularity; the other class care nothing about education, and will take no pains to send their children to school, though the fees are paid for them. The Committee, without affirming the principle of compulsion, are therefore forced from these facts to conclude that this class of children can only be brought under instruction by a compulsory law; and that, in the absence of compulsion, they will grow up in ignorance and vice through the apathy resulting, in a great part, from the ignorance of the parents themselves." This appears to be borne out by the statistics. In this town there were found 9,044 children whose parents could not afford to send them to school, and 10,852 whose parents do not assign reasons for keeping them away. In the former class of cases the test of inability was the non-receipt by the parent of 3s. per head per week for each member of the family, exclusive of rent. The Manchester experience is to the same effect: in eighteen districts they found 7,604 children not at school, for whom the parents could have paid in 3,333 cases. By Factory and Industrial School Acts then, and even by free schools supported by local rates, we still fail to meet the difficulty. I believe that the only legislation by which we can deal conclusively with the question is that which will enforce the attendance at school of the children in our great cities. Earl Russell lately moved in the House of Lords a Resolution affirming that every child has a moral right to the blessings of education. Then, if their parents be so ignorant and degraded that they will not claim these blessings when placed within their reach, we, the House of Commons, are responsible to those children for securing to them, at any cost, the privileges of school teaching. It is by that means, and by that means alone, that we can stop drunkenness, and pauperism, 1202 and crime, and thus diminish the taxes of the great cities; and this proposition is made to a Parliament in which all classes are represented. In days gone by, it might have been asserted that the wealthier members of the community were legislating for their own benefit in matters affecting those not able to protect themselves. We, at all events, who represent the large towns have been elected exclusively by the ratepayers, we are responsible to them, and it is in the name of a large majority of those ratepayers we ask you to enforce compulsory attendance at school. The House has precedents enough to act upon in this matter. First, the Vaccination Act, by which you compel every child to be vaccinated, and fine the parent if he neglects to do so. Ignorance is more dangerous than disease, and disease is not more contagious than crime. I would rather see a child of mine with the disorder from which vaccination is supposed to protect it, than allow it to be in the streets, subject to the imminent risk of immorality, and the greater moral disfigurement of crime. In the Factory Acts you have again asserted the principle of compulsory attendance at school. You have already there laid down the rule that the child must go to school, but only if he goes to work. Can a greater anomaly be conceived? If the child is already learning the rules of decency, order, obedience, and industry in a manufactory, it shall be compelled to learn to read and write. But if the child is in the streets gaining habits of vagrancy, intemperance, and felony, then, and then only, shall it he free to learn no other lesson. In the Health of Towns Act you have far more largely invaded the sacred liberty of the subject. There is no measure in any country that is so severe in its provisions. I am told by the medical Officer of Health of the town of Liverpool, that, under the Health of Towns Act, he has, and exercises, the power of visiting, through his subordinates, 6,000 sub-let houses—not registered lodging-houses, but sub-let houses—in which two families of working men may happen to live together—at any hour of the day, or any hour of the night, to count the number of persons in each of the rooms, and to see whether the provisions of the Act are exceeded. A Legislature wise and strong enough to enforce, and a people sensible enough 1203 on sanitary grounds to submit to, such a measure as that, are a Legislature at whose hands we may ask, and a community that will gladly accept, a measure comparatively so mild and harmless as one to compel the attendance of children of school age at school. And, if we have the power, I take it we have also the right. The right hon. Gentleman now at the head of the Poor Law Board (Mr. Goschen) knows that this question is intimately connected with the difficulties which arise from the vast increase of local rates, and he says that to make education compulsory would only be the natural consequence of the law which makes the maintenance of children compulsory on the community. Mr. Lingen, the highest official authority on the subject of education, compendiously exposed the inherent defects of the present system, when he said that a system of education could not be at the same time voluntary, efficient, and universal. There is a unanimous testimony on this point from almost every quarter. A large number of Members during their canvass and in their election speeches have proposed this measure or commended it, and more than one Member on this side of the House has had to promise to support it before he could obtain the honour of a seat in this House. One might suppose that inspectors of schools would be the last to advocate a measure supposed to be so greatly opposed to the system under which they work, yet, in the last Report of the Privy Council, no fewer than eleven out of the twenty-eight inspectors advocate compulsory attendance in one shape or another as a last resort. Mr. Moncrieff, National School Inspector for Kent, says—I have for years held the same language—that all our teaching was powerless for effective good so long as nothing was done to compel the attendance of children up to a reasonable age.Mr. Oakley, British School Inspector of the northern counties, says—Without compulsion in some form or other, whether direct or indirect, a number of children will never be educated at all, and of those actually at school a considerable proportion (those who leave for permanent work before they have come up to the exceedingly moderate degree implied by the second standard) will continue to forget everything they have learnt by the time they are twenty years old.Lastly, I will read the testimony of one whose name will be received with respect and honour in this House. Mr. 1204 Matthew Arnold, the Inspector for Middlesex, says—Throughout my district I find the idea of compulsory education becoming a familiar idea with those who are interested in schools. I imagine that with the newly-awakened sense of our shortcomings in popular education—a sense which is just; the statistics brought forward to dispel it being, as every one acquainted with the subject knows, entirely fallacious—the difficult thing would not be to pass a law making education compulsory; the difficult thing would be to work such a law after we had got it.Then the question I have to answer is—How would you work it out? In the first place, I would build or buy free municipal schools, and plant them like Martello towers against the invading armies of pauperism and intemperance in the poorer districts of all our large towns. They should be supported, two-thirds by municipal rates, and one-third by grants from the Privy Council in case they came up to the Privy Council standard of efficiency; but no grant should be given them unless they came up, in every respect, to State requirements. I would give power to the schoolmaster of each school—whom I would pay by numerical results—by means of a school beadle, appointed by the master, or rather by the Municipal Council of Education, to summon and fine the parents of every child found, after fair notice, in the streets between the hours of nine and twelve in the morning and two and five in the afternoon; and I would do nothing more, because nothing more would be required. Speaking on the authority of the chief constable of Liverpool, and of other men who have studied the subject, I believe that, if you give such simple powers as these to the municipalities of our great cities—if you begin, not with any Permissive Act, but by compelling municipalities to rate themselves, and if you give the power of summoning the parent of any child not at school during school hours—you will soon sweep the streets of the thousands of children now found in them. If you place that power in our hands we shall carry it out and thus fill the schools you have compelled us to erect. With these three agencies, the certified industrial workhouse schools, the free schools, and the present denominational schools, we should approach to a solution of the problem. I may be asked, and I am bound to answer the question, "How would such a proposal touch the existing schools?" For, as the Duke of 1205 Argyll says, in his recent work on Law in Politics—Political error springs from the notion that we can arrive at that which ought to be without taking note of that which is.We have a magnificent system of denominational schools, and by that system we are educating 1,500,000 of our children; and, as has been well said, there can be no doubt that the poorest class have a far better as well as a far cheaper education open to them than the poorer portion of the middle class. This is so; it is offered to them but they do not accept it; and the lower portion of the middle class and the upper section of the artizan class do accept it; and thus the existing schools are largely invaded by a class for whom neither the House of Commons nor private subscribers intended either grants or subscriptions. There is no question on which it would be more difficult to adduce statistics, still less to give names, but every one knows there are a large and increasing number of the well-to-do artizans and the smaller order of shopkeepers whose children attend these schools. As Eton, Harrow, and Rugby, built and endowed for the lower and middle classes, have been invaded by the rich, so the national primary schools have been invaded, and in some instances even monopolized, by classes for whom they were neither intended, nor are they now supported. And the Revised Code, to which I gave my hearty concurrence, has encouraged this state of things, and, by its inevitable working, has rather reduced the numbers of poor and neglected children who attend the national primary schools. The master, paid by results, prefers the well-dressed regularly attending children of a more respectable class, and the cold shoulder is not unfrequently given in the national schools to the very children for whom they are endowed and maintained. On this very ground I am not afraid that these schools will not hold their ground. In the next place the free municipal schools must necessarily be secular schools, because you cannot compel the ratepayers to subscribe for the teaching of a religious faith with which they do not agree. They must be secular, because you cannot compel the attendance of a child at a school where a creed is taught in which its parents do not believe. But this will be at once the very strength and safeguard of the present denominational schools. These 1206 schools, as Mr. Lingen says, are the proprietary schools of the religious denominations. They are in fifteen cases out of sixteen—the figures are as 15.49 to 1.25—connected with, often form a part of, the churches and the chapels of various religious denominations, and those who belong to these chapels and churches, and who are now the managers and committees of these schools, will continue to send their children to them, while others of the same class will do so even in greater numbers than now; for a stigma will naturally attach to the free municipal school, and there will be a disinclination on the part of such parents to allow their children to mix with the class of children attending them. There is no greater mistake than to suppose—no hon. Member does suppose—that the working people are all of one class. There are as many different sections, as many social castes, as many political and religious prejudices, among them as there are among those above them; and the well-to-do Conservative artizan, and the small Radical shopkeeper, will continue to send their children to their Church and Dissenting schools, and will send them even to a larger extent than at present. We have a confirmation of this in the evidence given before the Royal Commission—So far," says Mr. Norris, "from high fees emptying a school, I have found that of the schools in my district—Chester, Stafford, and Shropshire—the most expensive are the most popular.And instances are given, both by Mr. Norris and by Mr. Cumin, in which the raising of the fees was decidedly popular with the parents, and was followed by an increased attendance of children. In a word, then, I believe that a system of free secular municipal schools and compulsory attendance, far from doing any damage to, would give a great impetus in our large towns to the system of denominational schools; I believe that parents who now send their children to paying schools would not only continue to do so, but would send them in larger numbers, and pay higher fees; and thus, without injuring the existing schools, you would have solved the difficulty of insuring the blessings of education to the whole population.
In conclusion, I have endeavoured to show the necessity for inquiry; to prove that the community desires, and that the Legislature has the right, the power, and 1207 the authority of precedent, to compel the education of the children for whose welfare it is responsible. I have endeavoured briefly to allay the fears of those engaged in an excellent but inadequate work. I have now but to thank the House for the courtesy and attention with which they have listened to a dull and dry statement. 3,000 years ago it was written in the Talmud, that—"By the breath of the school-children shall the State be saved." I believe that the converse of the proposition holds good to-day. There is no cloud so dark and dangerous in our political horizon, no blot so foul upon our social system, no stain so deep upon the Christianity which we all profess, as the existence of the 75,000 children of whom I have spoken, and of perhaps 500,000 children of whom these 75,000 are the type, who are growing to man's estate to be a curse instead of a blessing to the community in which they live—to be a cause of poverty, instead of a source of wealth, to the nation that has given them birth. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Amendment.
§ MR. DIXON
, in seconding the Motion, said, that, after the very explicit declaration of the Government that legislation on this question was impossible this year, he felt most anxious that the House should, at any rate, do something towards preparing a basis on which legislation might take place next Session. The statistics which had been so profusely quoted by his hon. Friend (Mr. Melly), although they seemed to be based upon an authority which ought to be sufficient, were in many cases utterly denied. He (Mr. Dixon) proposed to confine his remarks almost exclusively to what had taken place in Birmingham under the auspices of the Education Aid Society, which was established there. Last Session the noble Lord the then Vice President of the Council (Lord Robert Montagu) made some disparaging remarks with reference to that society. He hoped that further reflection and information had induced the noble Lord to regret those aspersions, for the society was composed of all the leading men in the town—men of all sects and parties, who represented the activity and life of the town, and their statements had been before the public for twelve months, and had not, to his (Mr. Dixon's) knowledge, been in a single instance controverted. 1208 Indeed, an able and laborious school inspector, Mr. Capel, whose opinion he had asked in reference to the facts laid before the country by the society, had authorized him to say that, so far from having over-stated, they had understated the facts of the case. There were at present about 83,000 children in Birmingham, and, deducting one-third for those whose parents were able to pay entirely for their education—an ample deduction—there remained 55,000 children of the working classes—that was to say, of the class that might be supposed to frequent, or ought to frequent, the elementary schools of the country. The first effort of the Birmingham Education Aid Society was to ascertain the number of the children at the schools, and from a return furnished by the managers and masters to their visitor, they found that only 19,500 children were present there at one time. The Returns of the Committee of Council gave only 13,000 as the number in the inspected schools, and therefore they had 6,500 that were in schools of a more or less inferior description—some of them so inferior that it was doubtful if any education of value was given in them. If he added to the number he had mentioned the workhouse and charity school children, he should probably get a total of 21,000 in the schools out of 55,000, leaving 34,000 who were not at school at all—so that about 36 per cent, or little more than one-third of the children of the working classes in Birmingham, were ascertained to be in schools at the same time. Further investigation would show that the upper portion of the working class sent their children to school in a much larger proportion than that, but the other part, or the lower stratum of the population in the large towns, scarcely sent their children to schools at all. The houses of the parents of more than 45,000 children were visited, and the visitors of the society ascertained that only 42 per cent of these children between the ages of three and thirteen were acknowledged by their parents to be at school; and, as they had reason to believe that the parents had given a highly-coloured description of the state of things, he was inclined to believe that their statements might be taken as a full corroboration of the returns from the schools. He wished to ask the House whether there was any sort of good rea- 1209 son why boys in large towns between the ages of five and eight should not be at school? If they were not at school they were sure to be in the streets, and yet it was found that, according to the statements of the parents, only about one-half of the children between these ages were at school. He would defy anyone to put forward any excuse which could palliate the grievous wrong thus done to those young children. Not satisfied with those two modes of inquiry, the persons conducting the investigation ascertained from the families of the young people that, out of 7,000 young persons between the ages of fourteen and fifteen who had left school, only 50 per cent could honestly be declared able to read and write. Being desirous of gaining still further particulars respecting the real state of the education of young persons between the ages of thirteen and twenty-one, the Education Aid Society fixed upon Mr. Long, the second master of a training school near Birmingham, to procure the necessary information; and that gentleman went to the factories and selected for examination 529 males and 379 females, who in his opinion might be taken as fair samples of their class. He examined them, and reported that, of reading and writing, nearly one-half of the number knew nothing or next to nothing; that in arithmetic and general knowledge more than three-fourths failed, or nearly so; and only one-twentieth showed anything like a satisfactory degree of attainments. The Government should verify these facts, and give the stamp of official sanction to the society's declaration as to the state of education in Birmingham, and, he might add, in other large towns. The result of the examination of Mr. Long was this—that out of all these young persons examined there were only 4 per cent, or one in twenty-five, that attained the fourth standard and passed in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Was the education of the working class advancing, or was it retrograding? Recently he saw a statement made by a society in Manchester, that after thirty years' voluntary efforts, education in that city had actually gone back as regarded the proportion of children actually at school. He could not say whether that was the case, but he knew that in Birmingham, in 1857, 42 per cent of the children between the ages of 1210 seven and thirteen were at school; in 1867 the number did not exceed 44 per cent. That showed an advance of 2 per cent; but he was inclined to believe that the investigation in 1857 was more searching than the later inquiry, and that consequently the advance of 2 per cent was rather nominal than real. In all towns there appeared to be an increasing mass of children left untaught, and for whom the existing system did absolutely nothing. The principal visitor of the Birmingham Education Aid Society expressed his belief that 6,000 or 7,000 of the 34,000 children not at school in Birmingham belonged to families whose average earnings per week did not exceed 2s. per head. Now the cost per head per week in the workhouse for food only was 3s. per week. How did the families of these 6,000 or 7,000 children live? He had asked that question of a working man, and the answer was, "They don't live, Sir, they starve." It was this class which served to raise the fever-rate and the death-rate. He was told that there were 1,000 of these children unable to go to school for want of clothes. What were the educational agencies at work in these large towns to meet and overcome that horrible state of things? He admitted that the Industrial Schools Act was a beneficial measure, but under it only a small portion of the neglected children could be taught. There was another Act which ought to have effected much, but which had done nothing—he referred to the enactment known as Denison's Act. In 1866 he applied to the Board of Guardians to know the number of children belonging to out-door paupers between the ages of four and ten, who were not attending school; and he found that there were 1,521, the whole of whom ought to have been at school, if the provisions of the Denison Act had been properly carried out. The Birmingham Education Aid Society implored the guardians to put Denison's Act in force, and yet there were at that moment 1,893 such children as he had referred to, between the ages of four and ten, for whose absence from school there was no sort of excuse, and after all the efforts that had been made only 10 per cent of those children attended school. Great hopes had been based on the operation of the Factory Acts, but in many cases the result even of carrying them out most perfectly 1211 would be insufficient; and he thought that those who looked for much from them would be disappointed. It was said—though he did not endorse the calculation—that only 7 per cent of the children in Birmingham could come under the operation of the Acts, if fully carried out. Mr. Baker, one of the inspectors, estimated the number of childdren in factories in Birmingham employing upwards of fifty hands, before the Act came into operation, at 3,000, and there were only now 234 at school. The effect of the Act had been that the manufactories had been emptied of children, but the schools had not been filled. With respect to the work which had been done by Government, there were 13,000 children in the inspected schools—and although he was not satisfied with their education, it was certainly the best they could obtain under the present system. The number of children attending those schools was only progressing at the rate of 1,000 per annum, and the increase in the number attending inspected schools did not necessarily mean an increase in the total number of scholars, because many were merely transferred from uninspected schools; and it would be impossible that we could feel satisfied to wait until the whole of the 34,000 had been gathered in by the existing system. The Education Aid Society had tried to effect that laudable object, and by paying the whole of the school fees they brought in about 5,000. But the society was based on voluntaryism, which was a weak reed to rest upon, and now they sent but little over 2,000 to school. They had implored the town to come to their aid, but there was little hope of their being able to do more than just keep up the present number. He had been asked to beg of a Minister of State to visit Birmingham, and attend the society's annual meeting, in the hope of thereby attracting a large audience and drawing a considerable sum of money out of their pockets. What the society now got came from a hard working and over-taxed few, who were ready to make sacrifices for the benefit of these poor children, but who found their resources insufficient to meet the increasing demands made upon them. Were this Committee granted, he anticipated that the investigation of facts and figures would lead, even in the present Session, to legislative measures of practical and im- 1212 mediate value. The Industrial Schools Act, to which many said they might have recourse, had been carried out in some places, but in most others it remained a a dead letter. There were many who agreed with him in thinking that it, as well as Denison's Act, ought to be made compulsory. Why should they not say that with out-door relief should, go education to the children of the recipients? It would, no doubt, increase the cost and burden upon the ratepayers, but only for a time; and they would speedily obtain a full reward, not only in the blessings that would fall upon the children, but in the saving of charges on the rates. He agreed with the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Melly), that, if we were to have a real and effective effort made for the purpose of grappling with this great mass of ignorance in our large towns, we must no longer rest on the system of voluntaryism or its twin sister denominationalism. That system would not reach the masses in those great and populous districts. It had been proved over and over again in our large towns that it was unequal to the task. If they desired to make education a reality, and to diffuse its blessings generally throughout the country, they must remove its basis from the methods of voluntaryism to the taxation of the country, and he believed that what was required might be provided almost at once. It was not necessary that they should interfere directly with existing schools, but that they should direct their eyes to the destitution which existed, which had not been reached, and could not be reached by any other plan than that of State support. Could the new Parliament, elected largely by working-men, permit the continuance of a state of things dangerous to the prosperity of the nation, which working men regarded with the greatest apprehension, and for the removal of which they were willing and anxious to make any sacrifices which the House could call upon them to make? Of course it would be necessary that the schools to be provided by the ratepayers should be unsectarian, for the time was gone by when the money of the State could be applied, directly or indirectly, to religious education, and what was occurring with regard to Ireland showed that dogmatic and religious teaching was a matter which the State ought not to interfere with. He had never heard a dif- 1213 ficulty started by working men in opposition to compulsory education. During the four months of the great contest at the last election in Birmingham, he never attended any meeting when the question of education was referred to, at which the opinion was not loudly expressed that compulsory attendance at schools was required. As to the hardship of carrying it out, how should the working man feel it, when they submitted voluntarily to hardships that were far greater, obeying their trades union committees, and striving in thousands for weeks and months, upon half rations, to carry out the objects they deemed right? In doing this, they did what was incomparably more difficult than that which would be asked from them under such a plan as was proposed. Had they not submitted to the burdensome operation of the Factory Acts which, by one stroke of the pen, deprived thousands of families who were already on the brink of pauperism of the very means of keeping their heads above it? Could they want more illustrations of how much these men would bear, when they were told that, by the operation of one clause of the Reform Act of 1867, no less than 15,000 summonses and 5,000 distress warrants had been taken out in one town, indicating an amount of suffering which could hardly be conceived? Those who had before them a prospect of the education of thousands of children, now neglected, and growing up in the nurseries of pauperism and crime, would respond with unanimous enthusiasm to the call made upon them, and say—"Give us a measure which may be enforced by the arm of the law, against those who would oppose the rescue, through its salutary operation, of these poor innocents from a life of possible degradation and crime." He had no doubt himself that they would find it was the best and wisest course to make those schools for destitute children free schools. The difficulty would no doubt be great, but the result also must and would be great. All those children who were now in the denominational schools of the country—schools which undoubtedly had done great good—were in reality charity children, for were the assistance at present afforded by the rich withdrawn, the schools would vanish from the face of the land. He had often said himself that, if he were a working 1214 man, he should be ashamed to send his children to a charity school, though he would be glad to do so to an independent school maintained out of the taxation of the country, to which he contributed his fair share, and in the management of which he had some voice. He had been returned to that House to represent there more than one-third of a million of people, and in the course of his canvass he had found three sentiments uppermost in the minds of the working classes—a desire for justice to Ireland in the disestablishment of the Irish Church; justice for themselves in the abolition of the ratepaying clauses; and justice for their children in the extension and improvement of national education. He believed he owed his election to the feeling that, if returned, he would do what he could to place their claims before the House. With that responsibility, he appealed to Ministers to take up this great question without delay, to give it their full and serious consideration, and to let the country, know at as early a period as possible, what were the principles on which their measures would be based, in order that they might receive ample criticism, and, when necessary, modification. He would ask them to be courageous in their measures, and look to their effect upon those whose children would be benefited. When those who had now political power placed in their hands for the first time wished to use it in the greatest and noblest work in which they could be engaged, and when, on the other hand, dangers of the most formidable kind were to be apprehended from neglect of their demands, he hoped Ministers would see that their just and reasonable expectations should be fulfilled.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the state of Education in the great Provincial Towns,"—(Mr. Melly,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, that, in asking the House not to grant this Committee, he hoped it was not necessary for him to assure the hon. Gentleman by whom it had been proposed, that he (Mr. 1215 Fawcett) made the objection in no spirit of hostility. He agreed in the main with the opinions expressed by his hon. Friends who had brought the subject forward; his object was the same as theirs, and the only difference between his hon. Friends and himself was that, they thought that granting the Select Committee would promote the education of the people, whilst he thought that, if it had any effect at all, it would most probably retard legislation on the subject. It had been his duty on more than one occasion to object to the growing frequency with which Committees were granted in that House. Great and often unnecessary expense was thereby incurred, and this was by no means the worst evil. His experience in that House had shown him that a Committee often enabled the Government to shift responsibility with regard to important questions from its own shoulders to those of the House. No Committee could ever do good, unless it took evidence on both sides; and the speeches of the two hon. Gentlemen made it abundantly evident that it would be impossible for a Select Committee to investigate the enormous mass of materials which they had brought forward. He thought the Government had in their hands abundant matter to enable them to frame a comprehensive scheme of national education. They had the Report of the Duke of Newcastle's Commission, which made its inquiry in 1861; and he had no hesitation in saying that a more complete and exhaustive investigation than was made by that Commission had never been carried on by any Commission or any Committee. But, in addition to that Report, they had the annual Reports issued by the Privy Council, the Reports of the inspectors, and also the investigations of two or three Select Committees. He, therefore, hoped that the Government would not grant this Committee. He would ask his hon. Friends to consider for a moment what must be the result, if their Motion were agreed to. The Committee must take evidence in support of the various views put forward on national education; and it would scarcely be possible for them to close their inquiry and make their Report before the close of the present Session. If they did not, and the Government attempted to legislate at the beginning of next Session, it would be said 1216 to them—"You appointed a Committee which has not reported. It is unfair, therefore, of you to talk of legislating on the subject." He hoped, therefore, the Government would say, in reply to the Motion of his hon. Friends—"We have enough of information at hand to enable us to legislate next Session. If we find that any of the facts on which we intend to rely want verification, we shall send down competent officials to the particular locality respecting which inquiry is necessary, and there have an investigation on the spot." He agreed with his hon. Friend in thinking that national education was one of the greatest of all questions that could be considered by Parliament. The Commission of 1861 reported that, under the system of grants from the Privy Council, we never could have an effective plan of national education. One of the great objections to that system was that under its operation the wealthiest parishes sometimes received the largest share of the grants, and that the poorest sometimes received no aid at all. According to the latest Returns, out of 14,800 parishes, 9,700 did not receive one farthing of assistance from the Government. That grave defect of the system arose, he believed, from the rule adopted, and perhaps necessarily adopted, by the Privy Council, that no parish should receive any assistance unless it was already provided with the comparatively expensive luxury of a certificated teacher. Another evil connected with those grants was that in rich parishes, where superior school buildings were erected, and where the schools themselves were munificently maintained, a class of children found their way into the schools for whom national schools were never intended. Since the Commission of 1861 reported the educational problem had become simplified. At that time a powerful party—the voluntary party, led in that House with so much ability by his hon. Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines)—had to be conciliated; but since then that party had found that, in politics, there was no general rule without an exception, and with admirable frankness they now admitted that, by voluntaryism, we could not educate the most neglected class of our children. It had been said that things were improving, and that if we only let our present educational agency go on for a few years longer, the coun- 1217 try would become sufficiently educated. He would only say that, in England, no inconsiderable portion of the population could neither read nor write, while in Prussia, Saxony, and the New England States, it was rare to find a child who had not the rudiments of knowledge. In London, he believed, something like one-half the children who ought to be at school were not at school; and the same thing was said of Manchester and other large towns. It would be said that, in 1867, the compulsory provisions of the Factory Acts were extended to every branch of labour except agriculture. He admitted that this was so; and he was willing to admit also that, after the Reports of the Commissioners, who had inquired into the condition of the children employed in gangs at agriculture, it was in the highest degree probable that those provisions would be extended to agriculture. There would be something in that argument if all the children of the school age, who were not at school, were at work; but on this point there had been some appalling discoveries within the last few years. He was yesterday reading a speech of his hon. Friend the senior Member for Manchester (Mr. Bazley) who stated his belief that in that city more than one-half the children who ought to be at school were neither at school nor at work. That assertion was verified by a house-to-house visitation. Out of 11,000 such children, it was found that 5,200 were either at school or at work, while 5,800 were at neither. It would appear, therefore, that in Manchester—and, no doubt, it was the same in other places—the largest proportion of the children whose education was now neglected could not be got at by even the most rigid application of the Factory Acts. Again, though he was as much in favour of those Acts as anyone could be, they had this disadvantage, that undoubtedly they were an interference with the employer; and it was found in many cases that, rather than put up with this interference, employers tried to get rid of children's labour. Consequently it often happened that a number of children were dismissed from employment by reason of the Factory Acts, while the ignorance or poverty of the parents prevented their being sent to school. But if compulsory attendance at school were enforced in the case of all 1218 children, then those children who were now dismissed from labour would not be driven into the streets, but would be sent to school, and, at any rate, they would derive a great advantage from such a change in the law. Those who subscribed most generously in aid of the voluntary effort were the very men who were now coming forward to say that it was impossible to have a satisfactory system of national education founded on that plan. He had received a letter yesterday from the Secretary of the Manchester and Salford Educational Aid Society, informing him that in consequence of the falling off in the amount of the subscriptions which that Society had lately received, they could afford aid to only 4,000 children at the present time, whereas they formerly assisted 10,000; and that where they formerly gave 4d. they could now only give 3d. or 2d., and where they formerly gave 2d. they now only gave 1d. The letter further stated that the educational efforts of the society were to a great extent frustrated by the indifference of the parents, an assertion that was supported by the significant fact that during the past year they were compelled to dismiss 1,500 children who were receiving aid, in consequence of their irregular attendance at school. What was the remedy for this indifference on the part of the parents to the advantages which were offered to their children by means of education? The House would recollect that in 1867 the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Vice President of the Council introduced a Bill for permissive rating, but the lapse of twelve months showed them that they had not advanced far enough on the right road, and consequently their Bill of 1868 was a measure for compulsory rating. He earnestly hoped that still farther advances would be made, and that when the subject was again dealt with compulsory rating would be supplemented by compulsory attendance. He was certain that a Bill for compulsory rating alone would not meet the educational requirements of the people, and he believed that the country would never accept of a compulsory rating Bill which did not contain a provision for compulsory attendance. No one could say that the popular ignorance was attributable to a deficiency of schools, because the facts that had been brought 1219 forward that evening completely refuted that notion. He, however, by no means wished to be understood as saying that there were no districts where schools were not deficient, or that there were no places where the erection of more schools would not be a boon to the surrounding neighbourhood; but what he meant was that in every town and in every village in the country there was more school accommodation than was made use of by the children residing near it. He could point out village after village with which he was acquainted in which the schools were sufficiently good, but where the education given in them went for nothing, in consequence of the removal at an early age of the children who, when grown up, were unable to read or write with facility. Those children who remained and availed themselves fully of the educational advantages offered to them were the children of small farmers and tradesmen, whose parents could afford to pay for their education. It was the ignorance, the poverty, or the selfishness of parents which was the cause of their indifference to the education of their children. Some were too ignorant to appreciate the blessings of education, others were too poor to deprive themselves of the extra shilling or two that their children could earn for them; while others were so selfish that they would ruin their children and cast upon them the blight of ignorance sooner than surrender the earnings of their children, which they spent upon tobacco or gin. But then, it was asked, would compulsory attendance effect the object they had in view? He believed that no remedy would be found for the defects of the present system until the State recognized the great principle that it was as much the duty of a father to provide education for his children as to provide food and clothing for them. While deprecating as much as anyone Government interference with individual action, he thought that, when a clear and distinct duty which the parent owed the child was neglected, the State became the natural protector of the child, and was bound to interfere in its behalf. It had been objected that such an interference with the rights of the parent would be un-English; but that argument had been set aside twenty years since, when the compulsory education clauses in the Factory Acts were passed. 1220 A short time since the Vice-President of the Council said, at Manchester, that as we had not scrupled to force compulsory education upon children who were at work in the factories, we should still less scruple to force it upon those who were not at work. Those were words of happy omen for the future, because he thought that the right hon. Gentleman was of too robust a nature for his opinions upon the subject to be altered by official life. A few days ago the Sheffield Town Council passed a resolution in favour of compulsory education, and there was no sentiment which was received with half such enthusiasm throughout the country as a firm determination to support compulsory national education. It was then objected that compulsory attendance was all very well in theory, but that it would not do in practice. But who was it that raised that objection? Certainly not those who would be affected by the change; it did not proceed from the working men. Had the system of compulsory attendance been found impracticable in Prussia, in Saxony, or in the New England States? The proposal did not emanate from doctrinaires or from political dreamers, but from the practical hard-headed men of business of the north of England. It was further objected that the adoption of a compulsory system would destroy voluntary zeal, but had the Poor Laws destroyed voluntary zeal for the relief of the poor? On the contrary, it had been recently ascertained that no less a sum than £5,000,000 annually was contributed voluntarily for charitable purposes. One reason why he was anxious to press upon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department and upon the Vice President of the Council the necessity for combining compulsory attendance with compulsory rating was that the rating question in this country was every day assuming greater and a more serious importance, in consequence of the rates in many districts having attained the maximum amount to which they could be raised. Under these circumstances it would be impossible to induce people to assent to an increase in those rates for any purpose, unless it could be proved that such increase would lead almost immediately to their reduction. If a compulsory rate were sanctioned without compulsory attendance being enforced, what security 1221 was there that, when the rate had been levied and schools built and supported by it, neglected children would go into those schools? Judging from the experience of Government Grants to schools, was there not rather reason to suppose that the schools would be to a great extent used by those who ought to pay for their own education? But compulsory attendance once facilitating the education of children now neglected crime and pauperism would infallibly be diminished, in spite of what had been said by certain dignified persons in "another place;" for the country would never listen to the degrading doctrine that there was no connection between crime and ignorance. This argument would not fail to commend itself to the ratepayers, heavily burdened as they might be at this moment—"Bear the educational rate for a short time; it will eventually lead to a diminution of crime and pauperism, and, with the reduction of these, the burden of local taxation will also be sensibly diminished." Hon. Gentlemen opposite might probably contend that there ought to be no fresh additions to local taxation until the system itself, than which, he admitted, nothing could be worse, had been adjusted. If they would accept a suggestion from him, it would be that education and pauperism ought both to be regarded partly as a local and partly as a national charge. This he said, believing that localities were not separately responsible for the poverty and ignorance existing in them, the causes by which these were produced being partly local and partly Imperial in their nature. The religious difficulty he did not regard as insurmountable, for the people of this country were beginning to resolve that sectarian feelings should no longer stand in the way of education. He did not wish to introduce irreligious education, and there was no wish to do anything antagonistic to denominational i schools; but, as practical men, they knew; that schools which were supported by rates must be entirely undenominational. Those who preferred denominational schools would be free to establish and support them, and if any district liked to have denominational schools, it might altogether escape a rate if a Government inspector reported that it was sufficiently provided with schools. As to the advance of education generally, he 1222 would only remark that each year competition with foreign countries was becoming keener and closer, and English industry must succumb in the struggle if other nations had educated labour and we had not. Let the House reflect how ineffectual our vast material gains of late years had been to effect any marked improvement in the moral condition of the people. Free Trade had been established; the Corn Laws had been repealed, there had been an enormous development of our railway system, our exports and imports had trebled, and yet pauperism was ever coming upon us with giant strides. Pæans were sung over our growing trade, and yet, from a Return issued by the Poor Law Board not more than a month ago, he saw that during the last nine years the amount expended upon outdoor relief in the metropolis had increased by 130 per cent. Was not that a portentous fact? The more they spent in the relief of pauperism the more pauperism seemed to increase. Why not try to reverse our policy? Pauperism seemed now to feed upon the bounty of the State. Like unthrifty husbandmen, we permitted weeds to be sown and to grow up with the corn, instead of attempting to destroy the seeds of future evil. Compulsory education, if established, would only be required for a single generation. Let the nation once be really educated, and then they could do without a compulsory system. Mr. Mark Pattison, one of the Commissioners of 1861, who officially visited the Continent, said, speaking of Germany—Schooling there is compulsory only in name. The school has become so deeply rooted in the social habits of the German people that, if the law were repealed to-morrow, the schools would continue to be as full as they are now.That extract was taken from the speech of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who yet declared soon afterwards—"You who wish for compulsory education are striving after that which is Quixotic and impracticable." He could only reply that the political events of the last few years ought not to frighten anyone from striving after that which was Quixotic and impracticable. Household suffrage was once a point of the Charter, but it became a triumphant political cry. Though young in political life, he could remember when the disestablishment of the Irish Church was regarded as a dream, 1223 and its disendowment as a mere piece of visionary enthusiasm. Twelve short months since the Ballot was never mentioned except to be treated with official ridicule. Now, the question had passed below the Gangway to the elevated region of the Treasury Bench. So it would be with education. If its advocates had truth and right on their side, all they need do was to persevere—and some were prepared to do this—to work hard in the House, and harder still out of it. They had everything to encourage them. The growth of public opinion on this question had been so rapid, so extraordinary, that he would venture to predict that before many years were past no Government, whether Radical, Whig, or Conservative, would be able to appeal to the sympathies of enfranchised artizans unless that Government was prepared to exert all its influence in support of compulsory national education. He would move, as an Amendment to the Motion—That, in the opinion of this House, it is inexpedient to grant the proposed Committee, because the Government has at its command the information necessary for the framing of a comprehensive measure of National Education; and this House is further of the opinion that it is most important that such a measure should be introduced with the least possible delay.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, that amongst the educated classes of the country there was no dispute as to the fact that the present state of national education required to be improved. The only dispute was as to the best mode of effecting that object. He, for his part, could not quite agree either with the proposition contained in the Motion before the House, or in the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He could not think that they wanted the Inquiry which was moved for by the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Melly), nor was he so sanguine as to think with the hon. Member for Brighton that they were in the way of immediate legislation. Having had the great advantage of three able and useful speeches, the House might as well pass on to the other Orders of the day. He wished, however, to congratulate the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent on his earnest and eloquent speech, which showed that his heart was thoroughly in his work. He was glad to welcome such a recruit to the ranks of those who were devoting themselves to so important a cause. There could be no doubt as to the 1224 statement of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, that large numbers of children were, in all our great cities and towns, running idle, and that meant really being trained for crime. The hon. Gentleman had admitted, however, that there were a great number of vacancies in the existing schools. This fact showed that many of the children who were idling about the streets were not unprovided for, but were absentees from the existing schools, and only wanted to be made to enter them. In asking for compulsory powers with regard to those children, as he had done, the hon. Gentleman was not asking for that which his Motion asked for, but merely for extended police powers; and his argument rather applied to the Habitual Criminals Bill of the Government than to an extended scheme of education. The police powers he really asked for would be no novelty, but had been granted in the Industrial Schools Act, and he seemed only to wish that children of the class he had described should be similarly compelled to attend the elementary schools of our large towns, just as the children of a very kindred class might now be compelled to attend the industrial schools. What sort of inquiry would the Committee, the hon. Member desired, have to pursue? To him (Mr. Adderley) it seemed that the House had already had an abundant, if not an excessive amount, of inquiry on that subject; and he thought it would be almost an abuse of the system of inquiry to go on year after year investigating the same subject, even precisely the same branch of the subject, and filling their Library with acres of folios containing evidence which had been repeated ten times over. There were several inquiries before the exhaustive inquiry made by the Duke of Newcastle's Commission. There had since been the inquiry by the Committee of his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), which sat for two years, and presented two folio volumes of evidence. Another Committee, moved for by the hon. Baronet the Member for South Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote), had since sat. Besides inquiries by Committees, there had been a number of Bills introduced to deal with this particular subject. There was a volume of unpassed Bills in the Library. There was the Manchester Bill 1225 of 1850, which he had himself introduced as a hybrid Bill, and on which there was the longest debate that ever occurred on a local Bill—lasting from four o'clock until midnight. He had never ceased to regret that this Bill did not pass, for he thought then, as he thought now, that the question could not be more satisfactorily dealt with than by allowing large towns which were willing to try the experiment by taxing themselves, and give the country the benefit of the result of the experience thus gained. Next came the Bill of his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), the Borough Bill of Lord John Russell, and Mr. Cobden's Bill. Besides these Bills various Resolutions had been passed by the House. All this proved that if the House had not made up its mind how to act, it had, at least, before it the materials for so doing. The hon. Gentleman, moreover, was positively asking the Government and the Opposition to stultify themselves, because the present Home Secretary had introduced two Bills, and the Duke of Marlborough had, as President of the Council last year, introduced a measure in the House of Lords, including clauses expressly on the subject of these very children. The hon. Member asked these Ministers and ex-Ministers to affirm by his Motion that these Bills had been introduced without sufficient information or inquiry But while a Committee was inexpedient, some measure was doubtless required. He had himself wished to call the attention of the House to the subject this Session, and to move a Resolution, but the Secretary of State for the Home Department having announced that the Government had their hands full of other subjects, and, besides, were introducing Bills relating to education, had almost precluded themselves or any individual Member from introducing any general measure on the subject this Session with success. The Government had not only other public measures on hand, but they were about to propose two important measures which were distinctly preparatory to a general measure of education. The first was a very wide measure on school endowments, and the country would reasonably say, "Prove that you have made the best use of the funds you possess before you ask for more." The next was the Bill on the subject of Rating, and the House would not be 1226 able to debate the various proposals for aiding national education until they knew on what basis the incidence of the proposed taxation was to fall. For himself, he had come to the conclusion that soon after these preparatory Bills legislation on the general subject was not wanted. The existing system had not yet been carried out to the utmost extent. It would be far better, at least, to try to do so than to have a complication of two systems, one of which would be in the way of the other. The matter might, he thought, be dealt with by further Minutes of Council. He was glad to find that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent in his speech did not contemplate the constitution of anything like a new class of schools, because it was rather the tendency when a want was discovered to provide a new remedy instead of making the most of what existed. Nothing could be worse than the needless multiplication of different kinds of State-aided schools. The number of classes of such schools in this country was, in his opinion, already excessive. There were schools for the poor generally, aided by the State; there were reformatories, industrial schools, and pauper schools, besides art and science schools. He thought they had already made a needless distinction between the reformatory and the industrial schools, which were really intended for the same class of children—the idle and those who had committed a theft were only the bud and the fruit of the same tree. The evils of such a distinction were three-fold. In the first place, by treating the industrial schools as schools for honest children they treated the reformatory schools as penal schools. Now, a reformatory ought never to be considered as a penal institution at all. The child was punished in prison, and then the State undertook to make up for the neglect of the parents by giving the child the education they had neglected to give him. It was monstrous to treat a child penally for six years, or during all his childhood. Another evil of this needless multiplication of schools was that schools became divided among so many different Departments of the administration that the House could not obtain a comprehensive view of what they were voting in the way of education, and never knew what they were undertaking. They looked into the Estimates and saw so 1227 much charged for primary schools and so much for fine art schools; but that was only a small part of the public funds devoted to schools. There were pauper schools under the Poor Law Board; the reformatory schools were placed under the Home Secretary, as if they were an affair of police; while others were under the control of the Committee of Council on Education. He contended that all aided schools ought to be placed under the management of one central educational department. He had long advocated that view, and he was glad to find that the House was beginning to be of the same opinion It would be a most material improvement if all the educational institutions to which the State contributed were brought under that one Department over which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, (Mr. W. E. Foster) presided. That was a very good reason against any new kind of schools. What, then, did the hon. Member for Stoke want?
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, he apprehended these were merely accidental features of the system. What he understood the hon. Gentleman really to want was a larger number of elementary day schools in towns. How they were to be supported, or how administered, was a different question. The subject had been dealt with in every Bill that had been introduced, by every Committee and every Commission, and was to be found in every Report. It might be dealt with by the House in the shape either of a Resolution or a Bill. The question was, should they supplement the present system by local rates? His opinion was, they should try to carry out the Treasury Grant system more efficiently. He was not ready till that had been fairly tried to propose any supplement from the local rates. It was another question—whether the denominational system had failed, and whether a purely secular system should be substituted for it. That question also might be dealt with in a Resolution or a Bill. He confessed he should wish to see the denominational system farther carried 1228 out. It had not been completely successful, but it had done wonders. Its success was increasing, and by the zeal exhibited in its support, he thought it might be carried out so as to complete its work. In his speech, made a few days ago, Earl Russell seemed to think the denominational system must be abandoned; that the voluntary support on which it was based had failed; that it had thrown the work too much on the clergy and the ministers of religion; and that the burden it imposed was a very unequal one. To make the system more efficient he said we must allow the State to take more power, and he referred to the example of Ireland, where the State gave, not as in England 60 per cent, but 93 per cent. The State being so large a contributor could deal more peremptorily with the question. But, after all, in Ireland the system had practically reduced itself to the denominational system. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants had each schools for themselves. Therefore he did not think the argument of the noble Earl was borne out by his illustration. He thought it would be well to try a little longer whether tue Treasury could not supplement the denominational system, at the same time stimulating the private effort which it encouraged throughout the country. With regard to the Motion of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, he thought the hon. Member had made a wise distinction between town and country. He understood the hon. Member's Motion to refer to those large towns where numbers of children were left neglected in the streets. There the hon. Gentleman was right. The hon. Member had given them the statistics of four of the principal towns, and he (Mr. Adderley) thought these towns might advantageously be dealt with in the first instance. The reason why Scotland had gone so long without an Education Bill, or receiving its fair share of the Treasury Grants, was that the proposed Bills attempted too much by embracing the whole country. The old endowment of the heritors' tax provided for the counties, but the towns required a different provision. This was the difficulty, and if a Bill had been introduced for the larger towns, it would long ago have passed. He wished the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) would introduce a hybrid Bill— 1229 it was not yet too late in the Session—for the purpose of enabling those two great towns to show the way, and to rate themselves for elementary day schools. He believed those towns would be ready to avail themselves of such a power, and of the experiment thus made the rest of the country might take advantage. The rest of the proposition was to give the power to the police to take vagrant children from the streets and convey them before a magistrate, and, unless reason were shown to the contrary, to send them to school, charging the parents or guardians for their schooling. That proposition had nothing novel in it, and might be contained in a very short Bill. It would simply apply to elementary day schools a power already given to the police in the Industrial Schools Act. He did not think upon the whole that the House ought to consent to any further inquiry.
§ MR. BUXTON
said, he certainly could not agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) that the country was ripe for the revolutionary change in our educational system which he advocated; but he was not sorry that his hon. Friend had brought before the House that broad question which was agitating the minds of all those who took an interest in the well-being of the people—the question whether they should retain the present educational machinery; whether they should preserve their voluntary system; or whether they should copy that system of the compulsory attendance of children combined with the compulsory maintenance of schools which prevailed elsewhere. Now, while he differed from those who advocated such a sweeping change, he heartily sympathized with them in their disappointment at the shortcomings of our present system. It certainly as yet was very far from accomplishing all that we might have hoped from it. It could not be denied that there were in all our great towns large masses of children who were neither at work nor at school, and that even of those who were nominally receiving education a very large proportion never got beyond the merest rudiments, and derived little if any lasting good from the schooling they received. With these deficiencies, some impatience would naturally be felt at the inadequacy of our educational machinery. The remedy proposed was two-fold. The leading proposal was to 1230 make the attendance of the children compulsory, as in Saxony and Prussia. No feeling of tenderness for the parents would deter him for one from adopting compulsion. Society was suffering grievously from their shameful apathy with regard to the education of their children; and the House had a perfect right to insist upon their doing their duty. The only question was, whether the thing could really be carried out. As the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council most justly said at the Manchester Conference, it was very wrong for Parliament to pass laws without carefully considering whether they could be enforced, because it inevitably weakened the respect of the people for law when they found it shuffled aside. There lay the gist of the question—whether, if such a law were passed, it could be carried out; and he could not see what machinery at present existed for enforcing it. One thing was clear—that the police must not be called into action for the purpose, nor yet the clergy; and it remained to be seen whether any other effective agency could be created. Again, some ridicule had been cast upon the phrase that had been occasionally used about this matter, the phrase that it would be un-English to apply such compulsion to the parents. He was not to be frightened by a phrase of that sort from doing what was necessary. But, after all, they would find themselves powerless if they went against the grain of the national mind; and certainly it was undeniable that our people have not been accustomed to the system of parental government—the meddling superintendence over their private concerns—to which the people in many parts of Europe had been broken in. And it was, in his opinion, a sound practical objection to say that the political habits of our people were out of keeping with the system it was proposed to introduce. At the same time, it was difficult to tell beforehand how far this would really be found a practical impediment. It was very possible that the working classes might hail this system as a real boon to them, or that, at any rate, they would very quickly learn to adapt themselves to it. This, then, was exactly the case in which it would be desirable to go on by way of experiment; and an admirable opportunity of doing so was offered. Why not permit Manchester, Liverpool, and a few other 1231 great towns which appeared to be very anxious to adopt the plan of compulsory attendance to do so? The experiment would furnish them with trustworthy facts by which to decide the question whether the system could be made to work well with the English people, and in what way efficiency could be best insured. The true object of the second proposal was to get rid of the present system of voluntary maintenance, and to establish a system copied from the Continent; by which the schools, instead of emanating from private sources, and trrusting for maintenance to private persons, assisted by the Government, should be public institutions maintained by the locality out of its rates, though, perhaps, still aided from national funds. Admitting that those who took the lead in advocating the change did so from an earnest desire to promote the education of the poor, he must remark that they were supported by others who were extremely jealous of what is called the supremacy of the Church over education. If there were any proof that the influence of the clergy had been used in a mischievous manner; if there were reason to think that it had tended to make the people bigoted, or narrow, or sectarian, or if the people had been imbued by the clergy with ultra-ecclesiastical nonsense, then this objection would be well-founded, and a powerful motive would exist, for taking the education of the working classes out of such hands. But he could not discover any indication of such a pernicious influence. On the contrary, there were a thousand proofs that the children left school without any apparent taint of the kind whatever; and, in his opinion, it would be most ungrateful if they did not allow that this country owed an enormous debt of gratitude to the clergy for their strenuous, self-sacrificing exertions on behalf of the education of the poor. It was not necessary, however, to consider the interest of the clergy in the matter, either on one side or the other. The sole question was how could they best educate their children? Probably, if the whole question of education were before them for the first time, with no system whatever in existence, they would not adopt the denominational voluntary system; but it must not be forgotten that already the country had a gigantic machinery at work, which obtained the full concurrence, the earnest 1232 co-operation of the country, and which, though it did not as yet bear all the fruit expected and desired, yet had already wrought effects of infinite value. Already by means of this agency they had 1 in 7.7 of the whole population on the school books, while the proportion in Prussia—the best educated country in the world—did not exceed 6.25. Nor was it from want of machinery that the proportion was not a great deal larger. Everyone practically familiar with the subject knew that the still existing and lamentable want of education among the working class was only in a very limited degree due to the want of school accomodation; it was almost altogether due to the deplorable apathy of the parents. A very striking proof of this was afforded in Manchester. The Education Aid Society at Manchester—which had been at work for many years, strenuously exerting itself to encourage the attendance of children as well as to provide school accomodation—used to issue tickets to the children of the really poor, which enabled those children to go to school gratis; and yet in December, 1866, out of just 21,000 children who had received such tickets, less than 10,000 were found to be attending school. More than half the number were at home, although there was school accomodation for them, and every difficulty, except that arising from the shameful apathy of the parents, had been removed. No change from a voluntary system to a compulsory rating system would have any marked effect in increasing the number of children under education. And would it not be rash to sweep away a great and solid system, the fruits of the conscientious benevolence of the people, simply because it had not yet reached perfection? No one denied that it had worked marvellously well; and no doubt it was becoming every day more and more efficient. It had been shown the other day by Earl de Grey and Ripon that last year the number of schools inspected had increased by just 1,000; the number of children present at inspection was more than 1,500,000, an increase of 136,000; the average annual number attending was 1,241,000, an increase of little less than 100,000, while the number of certificated teachers, of assistant-teachers, and of pupil-teachers, had all largely increased. The system, then, was neither decaying nor stationary; it was growing vigorously, 1233 and was really adapted to the feelings and wishes of the people, and to the circumstances of the country. Then, again, there was the matter-of-fact difficulty which they were bound to take fully into account—the pressure of the rates. Already they were producing very disastrous effects in many parts of the country. They caused very great suffering, especially to the lower portion of the middle class and to the working classes, and sunk many into pauperism who would else be able to keep themselves afloat. Perhaps the worst effect of the present high local rates was that they so greatly discouraged the building of houses for the poor. It was a serious thing to increase this mischievous burden, and it seemed rather rash to throw the support of our schools upon this precarious and painful source of income, when, in doing so, voluntary contributions amounting to fully £500,000 a year would perforce be extinguished. He would not touch upon the religious difficulties to which the proposal of his hon. Friend would give rise beyond observing that it would never do to stir up against them the conscientious feelings of the people. This religious difficulty did not arise, as many seemed to think, from mere sectarian bigotry; there might be a little of that in it, but the people of this country had a profound conviction that their children should be brought up in the fear of God, and with a knowledge of their Christian duty. That feeling did not deserve contempt, and no system could flourish that did not fully recognize and respect it. Upon the whole he thought they ought to go on feeling their way towards something better, but maintained that the country was not prepared for the radical change which the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett) appeared to indicate.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, as the representative of a large constituency, he begged to offer his warm thanks to the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Melly) for having brought this subject so ably before the House. No one knew better than he how fit the hon. Member was to advise the House on the matter; it had been the study of the hon. Gentleman's life. The right hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) had apparently not fully apprehended the point of the hon. Member's Motion, which was the importance of inquiring 1234 into the actual number of a very special class of children in large towns; he did not desire a general educational inquiry, but very properly wished to sift to the bottom the many startling statements continually circulating of the large number of children in the manufacturing districts totally destitute of education. Hardly any of the Commissions that had sat had reported as to the actual number of children who, from the poverty of their parents, could not attend school. The Factory Acts would, no doubt, very shortly meet the wants of a very large class of children who went to work, and would also be extended to the agricultural population as well, which would be a great benefit, and likely to meet the wants of the great labouring class of the population—namely, of those who were willing to work. Then, there was another class with regard to whom they had statistics—namely, the children of outdoor paupers. With that class, the Duke of Newcastle's Commission very wisely proposed to deal at once by making it compulsory on the guardians to grant relief only on condition that the parents should give the children education—the charge for that education to be thrown on the rates. No less than 288,000 children were proved to be receiving out-door relief. There was also a destitute class of children who were not working, and who were not known as out-door paupers. The House would probably recollect the very startling returns sent from Manchester, the accuracy of which had been denied by the officials of the National Society. With respect to Liverpool, returns had been drawn up by the chief constable, but he did not think that entire reliance could be placed upon their accuracy. The chief constable had put down the number of children who passed through the streets at a particular hour as destitute of education. But many of those children had probably been at school some part of the week, and therefore he doubted very much the complete accuracy of the startling figures with regard to Liverpool. He could speak with some experience with respect to London, as he had long had to do with the East-end. The Board of Education started by the present Archbishop of Canterbury stated that there were from 180,000 to 200,000 children in the metropolis destitute of education, but those figures were torn to pieces. Then, the managers of the 1235 Bishop of London's Fund put the number at 100,000, while the Ragged Schools Union stated that 30,000 children were still as destitute of education as the 30,000 now under instruction in the ragged schools of London. His point was this—that the accounts were so diverse that, before we were led into any great change in our educational system, which it was said would be made next year, it would be well to have accurate Returns of the number and condition of the educationally destitute children in the larger towns. He would, therefore, venture to suggest whether, instead of a Committee of that House, it would not be very much better, if Her Majesty's Government saw their way, to send commissioners to the five great towns of this country to make inquiries as to the special condition of this great class. If the House would allow him, he would, before he sat down, enter his protest against the doctrine laid down by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) as to the great change for which the country was prepared with respect to education. He had had a great deal to do with the artizan class in London, Staffordshire, and Liverpool, and his opinion was that, ardently as they desired education for their children, they would not be satisfied unless it had stamped upon it some distinctive religious character. He did not say that it should be the religious opinion of the Church to which he belonged, but the point was this—that they were determined that their children should be taught a distinctive creed of some sort; and he should be sorry if those who were the warm advocates of education were to mar the progress of the great cause by a vain, futile, and, as he believed, hopeless pursuit of secular education.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he entirely agreed with the noble Viscount (Viscount Sandon) that the thanks of the House were due to his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Melly) for the manner in which he had brought forward this question. His hon. Friend had taken great pains with the subject, not merely with a view to that debate, but practically for years, and they must all see traces of that in the remarkably clear and able statement which he had made to the House. He also agreed with the noble Viscount that the class of children to which he had called attention 1236 was distinct in itself. No doubt the condition of large numbers of children in our large towns, and not least in the largest towns, was one which had serious claims upon their attention. He believed his hon. Friend was correct in the words which he used when he spoke of thenumbers of young children in our large towns who were growing up without any education, unaffected either by the educational clauses of the Factory Acts, or by voluntary efforts.That was a very strong—he must say a fearful statement, but he believed it was strictly true. It was said by the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Buxton) that the system might be worked by the co-operation of the people. But those children got no education, because there was no co-operation on the part of their parents. They escaped the action of the denominational system, because their parents were not of that class that could be attracted by any one religious system. They escaped our Factory Acts—which had done great good—because very many of them were the children of parents who could not find work, or did not care to find it. Consequently, we had this fearful state of things—a large portion of the nation growing up in our large towns without education, and ready to become members of the dangerous classes. It was said by a noble Marquess in "another place" that education did not diminish crime. That was one of those paradoxes which none but great men ventured upon. Probably the noble Marquess intended to say that education did not diminish vice. Was there anyone who had to do with crime in the country that doubted that education diminished crime? This was most certainly the case—that, as civilization increased and wealth accumulated, the temptation to crime also increased; but education, giving men more head-power to resist temptation, tended the reforeto diminish crime. It was because this class of persons destitute of education had been growing up to such an extent that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department felt the extreme difficulty of suppressing the criminal classes, and it was on that account that we found ourselves engaged in the consideration of measures which he believed were necessary, but which our ancestors would have felt repugnant to the principles of English society. He agreed with the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) that the time had gone by for Committees. 1237 The time for Committees had passed, and the time for measures had come, and he believed for comprehensive measures. It might be asked—"Why not bring forward measures, then?" But no one would wonder that the Government had not brought forward a comprehensive measure this year. With what they had to do, it was practically impossible. To attempt to solve this question would require a Session in which it would be, if not the principal work, one of the principal. His right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Adderley) had certainly a plan in his mind by which to meet the difficulty, and that was by altering the present Minutes of the Revised Code. Well, he wished he could agree with his right hon. Friend, because that would certainly be a very summary mode of settling the question; but he believed it to be impossible. He did not imagine for a moment that the House would attempt in that way to make the changes which would be necessary to turn the present system into a national system, which, to use the words of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. G. Hardy), would bring education home to all the children in the kingdom. That was a hard work which was before the Government and the House. It was one of the hardest problems that any Government could have to grapple with. If there were no educational system at all it might be easier to make a national system; but the problem they had to solve was how to change the present partial denominational system into a national system with the least possible injury to that which existed at present. They wanted to touch those large numbers who were growing up out of the reach of voluntary efforts, without taking away from the education of those who were now reached. His noble Friend Earl de Grey, in "another place," the other night gave the statistics of what the present system was doing. The present system was doing a great work. There were last year 15,500 schools under inspection, with an average attendance of 1,240,000 children. But he had lost hope that this system could be expected to do much more than keep pace with the increase of population among the classes which frequented the schools. The hardworking artizan who cared about education took advantage of the present system, as did 1238 also the men who could be persuaded by religious bodies to entrust them with the care of their children. But those with whom it was now necessary to deal belonged to neither of those classes; and the danger arose from that cause. That was one of their greatest difficulties in that work—how they were to meet the wants of those who were uncared for without injuring those who were cared for? Another branch of the subject which had been touched upon that evening, and which must be touched upon whenever they attempted by any measure to solve that problem, was this—that while it was quite clear that neither the country nor the House would consent to one religious denomination being aided more than another, nor to the public money being given to religious teaching—although he believed they would consent to public money being given for secular teaching in schools which also imparted religious teaching—yet he believed that the feeling of the country would be quite as strong, on the other hand, against any check, discouragement, or interference being offered to religious teaching. It might be true, as was sometimes charged against them, that they felt more anxious about the religious instruction of those who were not so well off as themselves than they did about their own, and that remark would apply not merely to themselves but to some classes below them. But however that might be, they would be misleading themselves if they imagined that there was not a large portion of the working class who also cared about religious teaching, and he did not believe it would be popular—even if they were to condescend to consider only what was popular—to have such a system of national education as would really check and discourage religious teaching. Then there were other difficulties; for instance, that of rating, which appeared to be felt by many hon. Members, although he thought, if they looked at the mere pecuniary part of that matter, they would find that a 3d. education rate would soon be more than paid back by the diminished poor rate and prison rate which would result from it. There was also the difficulty as to upon what conditions they should give aid from the Consolidated Fund, and likewies the question of what security they should take that good teaching was imparted. 1239 It had been mooted that evening that some of the securities on which the State now insisted should be relinquished. He expressed no opinion now on that point, but it was a most difficult part of the subject. Then they came to two questions started by the hon. Member for Stoke. The one was whether the schools ought to be free or not, and the other was whether they should look forward to a compulsory attendance. The time had not really come yet for them to express an opinion on either of those points; but he was rather surprised to find that his hon. Friend (Mr. Melly), with all the study he had given to that question—a study scarcely exceeded by that devoted to it by any one among them—should seem to suppose, as he (Mr. W. E. Forster) gathered that he did, that they could establish free schools to any extent in a large town, and that those free schools should not swallow up all the other schools there and make it necessary that they should all be free. Much argument could, perhaps, be used in favour of free schools, even although they might have that consequence; but he was sure they must approach the question whether the schools were to be free or not—and especially if they were to be free schools supported by rates—with the belief that, if they introduced any large number of free schools, the free school system would entirely prevail in the districts which were provided with them. They would not find that the hard working artizan, who with difficulty paid his rate, would allow that the children of people not so hard working or more poor than himself should be admitted to a free education paid out of his pocket, and that his own children's education should not be free also. Then there was the question of compulsory attendance, with respect to which some words of his own spoken at Manchester had been quoted. He thought the argument that it was un-English to compel the father, who was bound and also able to do so, to perform the duty of educating his children was an absurd argument, and it was one from which they had taken all the force by compelling him, if he sent his child to work, to submit to his education. But, while still of that opinion, he was afraid that this much remained un-English; not the mere principle of compelling a father to pay for the education of his child, but here comes the 1240 un-English part of the matter—the difficulty, according to English plans of government and English modes of thought, in putting machinery in operation that would make that compulsion anything more than a mere brutum fulmen and waste of power. The experience of the Continent was often quoted. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) would tell them that they might go from one part of Germany to another and they would scarcely find a single child who was untaught or unable to read and write, and that the principle of compulsion, though universal, was not now necessary, because almost every parent would send his child without its enforcement. But let them not deduce more than they ought to do from that argument; because he doubted whether it was not correct to say that, if compulsion had not existed at one time in those districts, there would not now be no longer any need of compulsion. But such compulsion, interfering with the daily life of her citizens, England never had; and he much doubted whether the English people would assent to it. America was rather more of a case in point, and the experience of New England was really curious in that matter. The School Inquiry Commission (of whom he was one) sent over an Assistant Commissioner to examine into the education of the New England States of America. The gentleman chosen was the Rev. Mr. Fraser, whose writings were well known to hon. Members on both sides of the House. Mr. Fraser made a most able Report, in which he stated that there existed a law of compulsory attendance at school in New England. Mr. Elihu Burrit, a gentleman well-known and much respected in this country, at a meeting in the Midland Counties, quoted that statement, and entirely denied its correctness. He was accordingly requested by some of his Colleagues in the Commission to find out whether it was really correct or not, and he went to Mr. Adams, who, before he came to England as American Minister, had taken a most active part in the working of the system of education in New England. He asked Mr. Adams who was right—Mr. Fraser or Mr. Burrit? Mr. Adams said Mr. Fraser was wrong and Mr. Burrit right, and that he was perfectly sure there was no such Act. The Commissioners then 1241 asked Mr. Fraser how he came to mate that mistake, whereupon Mr. Eraser proved by the most unimpeachable evidence that the Act did exist. But what was the real fact of the matter? The Act existed, but it had been found to be so contrary to American feeling that it was not made use of for so long a time that its existence was entirely forgotten. Now, he had stated that once or twice before, and since he first did so, attempts had been made in New England—and he did not know with what amount of success—to put that Act in operation, arising, perhaps, from the necessity they laboured under, through the large number of emigrant children that went to them from the Old World. It would, he thought, be very instructive for them to see how far these efforts to put the Act in force in New England succeeded. Allusion had been made to the number of Bills which had been brought forward. It was quite true that he and the Secretary of State for the Home Department had tried their hands at a measure both last year and the year before; and their experience showed the difficulty of the question in a way hardly noticed that night. Their measure of the year before last was the result of the practical thought and labour of several gentlemen of different sects and different political views, but who agreed in a common desire to give the best system of education to the town of Manchester. That Bill, if it had been accepted by the House, would, he believed, have at that time met public opinion. Public opinion had progressed between the year before last and last year. He and his right hon. Friend made a change, and whereas their measure of the year before last was only for permissive rating, their measure of last year contained compulsory powers of rating in districts which could be proved beyond dispute to have no other mode of providing schools. He believed that their Bill of last year also would have met public opinion. But they had observed that the converts they obtained to their Bills were obtained a few months too late. Very powerful support was given to their Bill of 1867 when they found it necessary to bring forward their Bill of 1868; and now, when at this time it was quite impossible for them to try legislation again on that subject, he saw that a great organ 1242 of the daily Press, which gave them quite the cold shoulder last year, had come in this year to the principle of their last year's measure. That showed the great difficulties with which the Government had to deal. And then came the precise question which had been brought forward by his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent as to whether a Committee could help the Government in any way. Now, he confessed that when the hon. Gentleman's Motion was placed on the Paper he looked at it with an earnest desire to derive help from it if possible, for the work to be accomplished was so hard and difficult that assistance ought to be sought for in every quarter. But he agreed with the hon. Member for Brighton and the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Adderley) that the proposed Committee was not very likely to be able to help the Government. Such a Committee could do two things. It could make suggestions and it could obtain information. Now, without wishing to undervalue suggestions which might be offered by a Select Committee, he must express his belief that the time for suggestions had gone by. It was, he might say, almost a fearful thing for the Government to deal with so difficult and important a question as that of education; but still it was the business of the Government to do so, and he could not see that any advantage would arise from seeking help from the suggestions of a Committee. Moreover, ho did not think that suggestions relating only to the state of education in three or four large towns would be of much use, as he concurred with the right hon. Gentleman opposite that, althongh in dealing comprehensively with the subject, regard ought to be had to the various conditions of different parts of the country, yet it must be handled in such a way as to embrace the whole of England. Then a Committee might examine witnesses and elicit information, but this would hardly be of any assistance to the Government. He had, however, been seriously considering in company with Earl de Grey and other Members of the Government whether there were any means by which, acting on the hint given by his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, they could put themselves in a better position to deal with the subject. Thus he was led to the anticipation of the noble 1243 Viscount opposite (Viscount Sandon). It would, in his judgment, be advantageous for the Government to obtain a statistical return of the actual amount of elementary education in three or four of our large towns. If, therefore, his hon. Friend should think fit to withdraw his Motion, he should be prepared to place upon the Paper, in the course of a few days, a Notice of Motion for a Return as to the number of schools and scholars in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham. The Government would also endeavour to form an opinion as to what kind of schools they were. The Government would not ask the House to grant them compulsory powers to obtain that information; but he believed they would be able to set at rest the doubt which had been raised as to the authenticity of the statistics of education in those large towns. For his own part, however, he put great faith in the returns which had been obtained by the Manchester Society and the Birmingham Society. With regard to Manchester, he knew the gentlemen who had undertaken to prepare the returns, and he believed that the Birmingham returns had also been prepared with great care. Still, as their correctness had been disputed, it would be an advantage for the Government to endeavour to ascertain how far they were correct. His hon. Friend had not laboured in vain in bringing the matter before the House, and, in conclusion, he would express a hope that his hon. Friend would, under the circumstances, withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he had been induced by the reference made to him by the Vice President of the Council to make a few remarks on the subject before the House. Although Germany might be spoken of as a country which governed its people very much by means of centralization, yet the same could not be said of Switzerland. He was well acquainted with the latter country, and also with Saxony, Prussia, and Würtemberg. Having travelled in every part of Saxony, where he was an employer of labour, he could bear testimony to the fact that there was scarcely a child of ten or twelve years of age in that country, whether in the city, the field, or the mountains, who could not read and write correctly and with ease. When Lord Stanley was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, he made inquiries of our legations 1244 abroad as to the state of education on the Continent. Accordingly, our Secretary of Legation at Berne (Mr. Rumbold), made a Report, in which he stated that the Swiss people, while proud of their free institutions, were wisely convinced that their only sound and lasting basis was to be sought in as comprehensive and as widely spread a scheme of public education as possible. The same gentleman went on to show that, after little more than thirty years, the spread of education had been such that the Swiss could now boast that there was hardly a child within the limits of the Confederation who was incapable of reading or writing, with the exception of those who were physically or mentally incapacitated. This result Mr. Rumbold attributed to the result of compulsory education. The Report further stated that in the Grand Duchy of Baden penalties for the non-attendance of boys at school were almost unknown, and that in the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar no fine for non-attendance had been imposed during the last forty years. He (Mr. Mundella) had himself examined large schools in Saxony, and conversed with the heads of schools, and they had assured him over and over again that the idea we had that it would be necessary to call in the aid of the police was absurd. In Switzerland, in the canton of Zurich, there was an Educational Board; every house was registered; the children were all registered; and all children were required to attend school when six years of age, and continue to do so till twelve years old. Between twelve and fourteen they were allowed to work half time. Of course the schoolmaster looked after them, and not the policeman. If the parent did not send his child to school the master reported him to the Board, who fined him a franc or so. But, in point of fact, compulsion had become almost unnecessary, for it was considered as disgraceful there for a parent to deny his child education as to refuse him necessary food or clothing. In Saxony there were one in six of the population attending the schools, from the sixth to the fourteenth year, and of these 97 per cent were in constant attendance, and it was not only the extent but the quality of the education that was admirable. If poor Saxony and poor Switzerland accomplished this he could never realize to himself that it 1245 could not be accomplished in England, the richest country in the world. He believed that the feeling was growing stronger and stronger in the country in favour of a compulsory system of education. He had no desire to detract from: English institutions, but he wanted his: countrymen to have the same advantages as were possessed by foreigners in respect to education. Our rural districts were even behind the great towns, While acknowledging the great sacrifices which had been made by the clergy of the Church of England in promoting education, he must point out that some great districts were neglected because they did not happen to have clergymen who were awake to the importance of this question. Within four miles of Nottingham, for instance, there was a parish containing 3,880 inhabitants; and a personal visitation made a year and a half ago showed that the number of children between the ages of eight and four and five and twelve was 750. And yet there were less than fifty at school. In consequence, however, of the efforts made by the excellent rector, and the munificence of his Friend the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. Morley) and some of the landed gentry, schools would, in the course of a week or two, be opened in that place. At present there was only school accommodation for 100 children, No one was more ready than he to admit that the English people possessed splendid natural qualities, and if to those were added the blessings of education, he believed the cost of securing those blessings would be more than compensated for by the diminution of crime, pauperism, and that squalor which unhappily prevailed so extensively in our large towns. He had taken pains to inform himself as to the educational status of nearly 12,000 young persons engaged in work, and he found that while 20 per cent of them could not write a letter decently, there were 50 per cent who could not read or write at all. Such a state of things was, he maintained, disgraceful to a Christian country, and he hoped the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks (Mr. Disraeli), who, on the opening night of the Session, spoke of a system of national education as being absolutely necessary, would find an echo in all parts of the House, and that we should soon have every child throughout the king- 1246 dom enjoying the advantage of receiving instruction, as was the case in those countries upon the Continent to which he had referred.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
said, he wished only to state that the inhabitants of Manchester would not have shrunk from the operation of a Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry, if it had been thought necessary to appoint one. They did not feel that they were in a very forward state on the subject of education; but on the other hand, they were not so bad as some places. On the whole, he believed that they were better than the other Lancashire towns. In Manchester thirty-three out of 100 persons could not sign their names on marriage. The worst town in it, in an educational point of view, was Preston, which was represented by two Gentlemen on the other side of the House. In that town there were forty-nine persons in every 100 who did not sign the marriage register. He held in his hand an official Paper, which showed that, in several counties of England, there were districts where more than fifty in 100 made a cross in signing their names, and it was noticeable that those districts had the fewest boroughs where the educational state was lowest. It was a conviction which was very generally entertained, and which he himself shared that, unless we could devise something more efficient than the present system of education, we should have a great amount of ignorance in this country to the end of time. It ought, therefore, in his opinion, to be as soon as possible replaced by some more comprehensive system. There was the theological difficulty which had been referred to by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett). But in his intercourse with working men he (Mr. Jacob Bright) had always found that they cared very little for theological instruction at school. There was nothing he was more convinced of than this, that when a working man sent his children to school, and paid the school-pence, he paid for secular instruction and not theological, and would simply ask where he could obtain the best intellectual results. If he did not do so, he would show very little sense indeed, for he had abundant opportunities of giving his children religious instruction at home, and in the Sunday schools attached to the various churches and chapels which covered the face of the country. There was also the 1247 financial difficulty, and undoubtedly the results in Saxony described by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), and those existing in New England, in Switzerland, and elsewhere, were not to be obtained without considerable expense. He was willing that the country should pay for such results, and he believed it was able to pay for them. He saw the difficulties connected with local taxation, the burden of which was so loudly complained of; but if they could get rid of some of the burdens of Imperial taxation, the local taxation would be more easily borne. Now, we were saving this year between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 and he believed that that saving ought to go on for four or five years to come in the same ratio. The constituencies of England had come to the determination that our expenses should be reduced, and if the reduction should continue in the same proportion, we should soon save a sum equal to one-half our whole local taxation, and we could then afford to be generous so far as the important matter of education was concerned. He had often remarked in that House the jealousy which existed in regard to the efficiency of the public services, and he sometimes thought it was made a cloak to cover great extravagance. He trusted the time would come when the House would be jealous about the efficiency of another service—one not less important than Army or Navy—he alluded to that service in which so many earnest and devoted men were engaged, who were endeavouring to carry instruction to the poor and helpless children of this country. He believed it was necessary to legislate on this subject, and he agreed with the Vice President of the Committee of Council that the Government alone could take it up effectually and successfully. He ventured to think that a Government which had shown so much ability in grappling with that great question of the Irish Church might, when that was removed out of the way, undertake a question so important and extensive as the present.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he thought it was not only natural but very desirable that the subject of education should once more be brought before the House at the opening of a new Parliament, and he for one felt very much indebted to the hon. Member for Stoke- 1248 upon-Trent (Mr. Melly) for the manner in which he had introduced it to their notice. He must, at the same time, express his satisfaction at finding the Vice-President of the Committee of Council was not prepared to accede to the hon. Gentleman's Motion. In his opinion we had had sufficient inquiry on the subject already—[Mr. BRUCE: Hear, hear!]—and he was happy to find that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department seemed to concur in that view, for, as a Member of the Committee of which he himself (Sir John Pakington) was Chairman, and which sat two Sessions, the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that that Committee had exhausted the question. If he had to decide between the Motion of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent and the Amendment of the hon. Member for Brighton, he should feel inclined, he must confess, to vote rather in favour of the latter. The House was amply furnished with facts, and it now only remained for it to grapple with those facts, and to proceed, as soon as it could conveniently do so, to legislate on the subject. He had repeatedly said that we should never solve the great problem of national education until we had arrived at the fulfilment of two conditions—the one the existence of a strong Government, the other the existence of a Government which was not only strong but determined to settle the question. The first of those conditions was realized, and he was well aware that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, as well as the Vice-President of the Committee of Council, had long had the subject sincerely at heart. Under these circumstances they had a right to expect that the question would be settled, and it was time that it should be settled. Further inquiry was not wanted. And on another point he was obliged, though reluctantly, to differ from the opinion expressed in a very sensible speech by his right hon. Friend the Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley). His right hon. Friend argued that inquiry was necessary, but then went on to urge that there should be a further trial of the present school system. Now he (Sir John Pakington) thought that the present system had been tried long enough, and what they wanted was a better one, which he hoped would be framed in a 1249 bold, statesmanlike measure by the present Government. It could not be expected this year. The manner in which the Government had arranged their business, and the late period at which the Session commenced, made it unreasonable to expect that the Government should grapple with the question this Session. But he must, in candour, state that, as they could not be expected to grapple with the question this year, they had taken the next best and most judicious step by bringing forward their Endowed Schools Bill. In saying this he did not mean to commit himself to the details of that measure, which in Committee would require a good deal of consideration, and, perhaps, of alteration. But the Bill dealt with one of the most important questions connected with education—namely, the painful and absurd extent to which a vast amount of endowed property throughout the country, devoted originally to purposes of education, had now become useless. The Government deserved credit for having, as a preliminary step, taken up that question. They were a strong Government; among their Members were men capable of dealing with the question as well as anxious to do so; and he trusted that next Session there would be no more inquiry, but a comprehensive measure upon this subject.
said, he rather regretted that the Government had refused to appoint this Committee, and he could not say that the reasons assigned by the Vice President of the Council appeared to be satisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the subject was full of difficulties, and nobody who had paid attention to it would think of controverting that proposition. But, as nothing was about to be done just yet, he asked whether meanwhile we had as much information as it was possible and desirable to have. One or two things had been said by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) as to which he confessed he should like to have had more information than was forthcoming at present. The hon. Member stated that, in spite of all the changes which had occurred in the Government examinations of the assisted schools, the result of an inquiry to which he was privy showed that, if the children who passed through these schools ever learned anything, they certainly had not done so in 1250 such a way as to retain what they learnt. That statement certainly seemed to be one worthy of consideration, supposing it to be well-founded. The hon. Member also stated in a very emphatic manner, that which at all events, seemed to be his own belief—how far it had spread among others he did not inform the House—that people were likely to feel degraded by having their children educated at schools that were assisted by donations, and to feel that they were being educated at charity schools. Now it might be worth inquiry how far the parents of children educated out of the rates might not feel pauperized. At all events, that was a question raised by the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham. He (Mr. Henley) would express no opinion one way or the other. In these days it would not be right or decent to use "an ignorant impatience" which was employed fifty years ago in reference to taxation, but there certainly was a very intelligent impatience about local taxation; and this, again, was a point on which further information would have been desirable. There was another question on which Parliament might have profited by inquiry—a question which the Vice President of the Council seemed to put entirely aside when he said that any system which was adopted must be a comprehensive one. This was saying, in other words, that special cases in special districts must not be considered, but that there must be one Procrustean rule extending over the whole country. Now, the proposed inquiry was one into the special cases of the great towns, and it might not have been useless or unworthy the attention of the Government to ascertain, by reference to the circumstances of these; great towns, whether it was right to have but one rule applying to the whole country. All that he heard during the debate—and he could not hear very well now—made him regret that the Committee was not granted. If, as the Vice President of the Council had stated, the subject was full of difficulties, the more information they could get the better, even if sometimes they got the same facts twice over. The question was one in which every person in the land—high or low—was interested, and though Parliament, no doubt, had a great deal of information on the subject, that was no reason they should shut out more, and 1251 thus run the risk of coming to an unsound conclusion.
said, that the question which had been suggested—whether rate-supported schools might not pauperize the people, might be answered by another—how far did the higher classes feel pauperized by certain of the higher schools? He was glad that the Government had not acceded to the request of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Melly), because he looked upon the hon. Member's proposition as an attempt to make an invidious distinction between the large towns and the other districts of the country. He agreed with the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) in thinking that the large towns were, to a great extent, mere reservoirs for the ignorance of the country, and that a large proportion of the uneducated belonging to the agricultural and other districts, came to settle in the large towns. As an instance of this, he would cite a few statistics relating to the agricultural district of Stoke-upon-Trent, with which the hon. Gentleman, who had introduced the question, was connected; and these would show that the whole of the ignorance of the country was not concentrated in the large towns. By way of contrast, he would first give some figures with respect to Leeds. That town, in the year 1861, had a population of 207,000. One-sixth of that was 34,500. Now, at the present moment, there were 11,300 children in the Government-assisted Schools in Leeds, leaving 23,200 children to be accounted for. On the other hand, he found it stated in a Report recently issued by the Privy Council that, according to the testimony of the Rev. A. F. Bonar, there was in a certain; district immediately adjoining Stoke-upon-Trent, an agricultural population of 325,564, one-sixth of this number was 54,260; and there were at this moment 12,700 children in the Government-assisted schools in the district, leaving 41,500 children to be accounted for. Thus, in Leeds, one in seventeen attended the Government schools, while only one in twenty-five attended them in the district to which he referred. If, therefore, there was to be any inquiry how far education had progressed, they must not I merely take in the large towns but the agricultural districts, which were in a worse condition. In the same Report, it was stated that education in that dis- 1252 trict had actually deteriorated; that in a parallelogram of 450 square miles there were only three assisted schools; and that there were forty-four villages, each of more than 500 inhabitants, where there was no school whatever assisted by the Government. It stated that at Lockington—one of those villages—the managers intended to discourage the attendance of children after the age of infancy, because learning tended to make labourers dissatisfied with their condition, and less civil and obliging to their employers. In a village immediately adjoining, the inspector stated that the clergyman had used all his powers of persuasion to induce the farmers and respectable inhabitants to support the school, but without effect, and, out of an income of £100 a year, he had to give £20 a year to sustain the school. They had been told that legislation on this subject was unnecessary. Now, within the last six months, he had addressed as large assemblies of working men as any man; and he had no hesitation in saying that in the large towns the people were almost unanimously in favour of a compulsory system of education. We educate our paupers, we educate our criminals, we educate all those who hang themselves on to the sects, but we leave a large class, between the pauper and criminal on the one hand, and the sects on the other hand, totally uneducated. What we require is a system which shall take hold of this class, educate them, and so prevent them from becoming the paupers and criminals of the land.
§ MR. MELLY
said that, after the courteous way in which he had been met by the Government, and after their promise to give him even more than he could expect from the Committee, he was, of course, willing to withdraw his Motion. He thanked the House for the kind manner in which he had been spoken of throughout the debate.
§ MR. HERMON
said, he wished to state that when the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Dixon) branded the borough of Preston as being the worst borough in Lancashire in respect to education, the statistics from which the hon. Member derived the information that out of 100 persons only forty-nine were able to sign their names on marrying must apply to a past generation, and not to the present. He was happy to say that Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools 1253 had reported very favourably of the state of education in that borough. Preston was a large manufacturing town, and if the children there were not properly educated, that circumstance would be an argument against compulsory education, because the children in the factories were obliged to attend school or else quit their employment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.