Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [14th March], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House is of opinion that no measure for the elementary education of the people will afford a satisfactory or permanent settlement which leaves the question of religious instruction in schools supported by public funds and rates to be determined by local authorities,"—(Mr. Dixon,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM
*: Everyday that has passed since the introduction of this measure has increased my regret that the Government has undertaken to deal with the question of popular education this year. The subject is indeed of transcendent importance. And we have never had, and are not likely to have, a Government or an Education Minister better qualified to deal with it. But the satisfactory settlement of this great subject needs more than the capacity of a Minister, however able and devoted, more than the general confidence of the people. It needs the intelligent co-operation of the people themselves. And the mistake I think the Government have committed is, that they have undertaken to deal with it without first ascertaining the wishes of the people on a subject that so deeply concerns them. For this is no question, like the Irish Land, on which the English people were necessarily and profoundly ignorant, and are therefore willing, with their representatives, to follow almost blindly the leadership of a Minister whom we trust. The question of popular education is of a very different character. It is homely in every sense. It touches the home life of every cottage in the land, and that not indirectly and insensibly, but directly and palpably. By this measure the State goes into every family, imposes new duties on the 1964 parent, or declares and enforces duties of which the parent was before unconscious. It interferes with parental rights and responsibilities; it forbids to the parent the earnings of the child; it imposes a tax instead; it organizes society for purposes and in a manner to which we as a people have never been accustomed; finally, it touches, and in some cases grates harshly against, the religious convictions, or, if you will, the prejudices, of large classes of the communily. In saying this I have not condemned the measure. These incidents, except the last, may be inevitable in all legislation on the subject. This measure may be wise and good, and even necessary. But I say it is not a task to be lightly or hastily undertaken; above all, it is not a task to be undertaken without the full and intelligent assent of the people. Have you got this? I think not. It is unreasonable to expect the people to accept your measure in confidence, and wait until experience has proved its beneficial results. The people have a right to be consulted. They must have thought out the subject for themselves by discussion and argument, on the platform and in the Press, and in the workshops, the clubs, and the homes of the poor; the Government might well have been content to take the conclusions thus come to and embody them in appropriate legislation. This might have been a less brilliant course; but it would have been more just, more wise, and more safe. For not only is the question homely in that it touches every home; but it is homely, I say it with confidence, in that it is fairly within the reach of every intelligent man and woman, who will consider it to form an opinion upon it; aye, and a sounder one in some respects than any statesman is likely to form for them; for it rests upon broad and easily intelligible principles. Now, I ask the House—Is the country prepared for this measure? Is it prepared for the taxation it will necessitate, for the institution throughout the country of Boards, with power to compel the attendance of all children at school under penalty of fine and imprisonment—and this, as the Bill oddly provides, only in the most backward districts, where it will most conflict with the habits of the people? Sir, I do not condemn this taxation or this compulsion. I approve both. But, I ask, are the people pre- 1965 pared for them? Twelve months ago—aye, six months ago—the question of popular education was the monopoly of philanthropists, and the eagerness with which their rival schemes were debated among themselves concealed from them, I am satisfied, the apathy of the great, body of the people to the whole question. It would be unprofitable for the present purpose to inquire into the causes of that apathy. It has never been otherwise. The people could not rouse themselves. Ignorance made them indifferent, and indifference left them ignorant. And few cared to stir them. The philanthropists I have referred to, to whose efforts we owe whatever popular education exists, have not succeeded, they will themselves admit, in rousing the people to care for their own education; and what Lord Brougham said in 1825 remains true—The people themselves must be the great agents in accomplishing the work of their own instruction. Unless they deeply feel the usefulness of knowledge and resolve to make some sacrifices for the acquisition of it, there can be no reasonable prospect of this grand object being attained.Perhaps it would not be charitable to inquire too closely into all the motives which may have led the upper and middle classes to interest themselves so suddenly and so largely in the education of the poor. Indeed if the immediate education of our masters is necessary for the safe working of the present Constitution, the present generation of ignorance is quite enough to effect its ruin. But apart from this motive, which would not do much, there is no doubt that the extension of the franchise has quickened our national life, has brought closer together the different classes of the community, has made us see more clearly our mutual dependence, and has led us all to take a deeper interest in the wants and the welfare of the great body of our people. And the high wages, the higher standard of living, and the higher intelligence of the better portion of the working classes have gradually led them to see what a heavy drag upon the resources of the country is popular ignorance. The agitation of the last six months has clearly shown that this portion of the working classes—the artizans—are ready for and earnestly desire a system of national education. They recognize the necessity for the taxation 1966 and for the compulsion, and they will welcome both. No one can doubt this who has taken any part in the campaign of the last six months, or has been an attentive and candid observer of it. In all our large towns, and in all centres of manufacturing industry, in fact, wherever the better class of artizans are found, crowded and unanimous meetings have attested this. And I am perfectly satisfied that in another year, by the time this healthy honest agitation had spread through the land, and the patient teaching of the platform and the Press had brought the question home to all the people, the public mind would have worked itself clear upon the subject, and a large, thorough, and comprehensive measure would have been welcomed where the present Bill—which, for the reasons to which I have alluded, is necessarily tentative and imperfect—will be viewed with jealousy, and may even altogether fail in its work. For these reasons I own I regret that Government have not allowed the question to rest this year. Why they did not, I cannot say. A year is not a long time in a nation's life. It is long enough in the present circumstances for public opinion to be formed; and the nation which has tarried so long might well have endured another year's beneficent delay. It may be that the Government thought themselves pledged to attempt legislation on the subject this year; or my right hon. Friend, flushed with his successes last year, may not unnaturally have been eager to try his hand at the larger task. Perhaps, too, he was not altogether satisfied with the tendency of public opinion on the subject, and was anxious to anticipate or divert it by legislation. Those who are interested in the present school system and desire to maintain and even to extend it are naturally friendly to immediate legislation and to this Bill. For if one thing is more clear than another, it is that the current—the growing current—of public opinion is against that system, and in favour of united national education. But for whatever reasons, and with whatever results, Government has brought in a measure and has forced this subject on our attention, and if opinion out-of-doors is yet only partially formed it behoves us all the more if we have clear convictions to speak out. And, first, how comes it that we want a new law at all? All admit we do want 1967 it, and that we want it not merely to compel attendance at school—for as to this there is difference of opinion, and I lay it aside for the present—but to provide schools to go to. Can the present system, then, be said to have failed to provide schools? I think not. I wish to be just to it. It never was intended to provide them, and it is unreasonable to expect this of it. Indeed, nothing can be properly said to have been intended by the present system, for it is not a system at all. It was not framed for this purpose. Indeed, it never was framed at all. I say, advisedly, the system of grants of public money, which alone connects the State with popular education, has never been adopted by Parliament as the basis of national education. It has grown tip gradually and. if I may so say, unintentionally, receiving the sanction of Parliament only as a temporary makeshift, or at most as an experiment. If anyone doubts this let him read the Report of the Newcastle Commission—From 1839 to the present time the system of annual grants has continued, and their amount has been increased from £30,000 to about £800,000. This arrangement has never been recognized as ultimate or permanent; but has grown up as a sort of compromise between the admitted necessity of promoting popular education and the difficulty of devising any general system for that purpose which would be accepted by the country.One other significant paragraph from this Report I will read—Nor does the comparative attitude of the body of the people materially diminish the practical difficulty of introducing a comprehensive system, since it is not with the body of the people, but with the founders and supporters of schools, that those who might attempt to introduce it, under the present or any probable circumstances, would have to deal.And here is the true reason of its continuance the country was not prepared for—did not demand—perhaps would not have endured—a system of national education. There was no public interest in the question, and therefore the managers of existing schools were the persons to deal with. And we have to deal still with the same persons, and they urge a claim which my right hon. Friend in introducing this Bill seemed to admit, but against which I strongly protest. They say the public faith is pledged to them, that they have been induced to build schools, and partially maintain them by the expectation of public aid, 1968 and that therefore it would be a breach of public faith now to withdraw or withhold it. Now I think this is a most dangerous doctrine, and one which the Government would hesitate to apply to any other case. If the present system of voluntary schools, aided by the State, be a wise one, well, let it be defended on its merits. But if it be not, and if it cannot be shown that it is for the public interest that the system should be continued, I deny altogether that any existing school has any, the smallest claim, upon the public purse. When and by whom was this pledge given? Who had power to give it? You offered help to build schools. Schools were built, and you paid what you offered. You offered aid to qualified teachers. Teachers qualified, and you paid them. You changed your plan, you offered payment for each child educated. Children were educated, and you paid what you offered. But where in all this is there any pledge for the continuance of these payments? You have altered from time to time the conditions and modes of your aid, and this without the consent and againt the protest of those who received it. By this very Bill you are altering entirely the conditions of your aid, by abolishing denominational inspection, and insisting on the uniform observance of a Conscience Clause. The noble Lord the Member for Huntingdon (Lord Robert Montagu) complains of this as a breach of faith, and with justice, upon your principles. For if you are bound at all you are bound altogether, and you have no more right to alter the important terms of the contract than to abolish it altogether. Indeed this theory of the faith of the country being pledged to the maintenance of the existing system, which has been urged so confidently and accepted as readily, will not bear a moment's investigation. How does it differ from the case of Maynooth College, or indeed, of the Irish Church? The Church had not received only annual aid dependent on the annual Vote of Parliament, but held, and had held for centuries, the capital of the public property they enjoyed. And in expectation of its continued enjoyment much more had been done and paid and risked than the managers of aided schools have done or paid. Yet that did not prevent your resuming public property when you thought fit; and is it to be said that all 1969 schools you have aided have a right to continued support from the State for ever—that the public faith is pledged to this? Sir, I protest against this doctrine as dangerous and unconstitutional. Let the system stand or fall by its own merits. If it be the best, by all means continue it and extend it until a better be found. But if it be at once insufficient, wasteful and cryingly unjust, let it stand condemned. But though I condemn, the system, and object to its extension, and though I deny the right of existing schools, on any ground of public faith, to continued support from the State, and would facilitate by all means their absorption into a national system, yet I think on purely utilitarian grounds the continuance of aid to them for the present, and in the meantime, is defensible. I admit, of course, that we have no right to interfere with these schools, or compel them to give up their private and sectarian character and become public elementary schools. And so long as their supporters prefer to keep them on their present footing, I think on the single ground of economy it would be undesirable to abandon or supplant them, provided of course that they are willing so to conduct them as to make them available for the public generally. But I object strongly to any extension of the system. I do not think, indeed, such extension is probable when once the facility of founding public schools out of the rates is understood and felt. But if my condemnation of the system is well founded we ought to give no opportunity for such extension. I object, therefore, to the year's delay which this Bill allows to districts found deficient in school accommodation to supply it on the voluntary system before the provision out of public funds is made obligatory. If, as I expect, nothing is done, then the year is wasted; if under the dread of a school Board and rates a denominational school is forced and struggles into existence, then the year is worse than wasted—it is misused. Now, I will not detain the House with an argument on the faults of the present system. I will barely enumerate its familiar vices. I say it is insufficient; this is admitted, or we should not want this Bill. It is wasteful, for it multiplies schools unnecessarily in the same neighbourhood. It is unequal; it helps those who have wealthy and benevolent neigh- 1970 bours already at hand to help. It neglects those who are in the most need of help. It is unjust as between different religious opinions in the same way; for, while pretending to aid all alike, it really gives its aid almost exclusively to one. I know I shall be told its aid is offered to all on the same conditions, the furnishing voluntary subscriptions. But there is the injustice. You take the sect or Church which already enjoys all the ecclesiastical endowments of the State, which monopolizes all the educational endowments of the country, from the Universities down to the smallest parochial charity school, and which monopolizes besides almost all the other charitable endowments of the country, and which finally includes among its members almost all the wealthiest classes, and to this sect thus favoured you give the whole, or nearly the whole, of the sums voted by Parliament for the aid of education. It is as if the President of the Poor Law Board were to offer relief to every man who could produce a £5 note. You help the wealthiest places and the wealthiest sect. You neglect the poorer places and the less favoured communities. If any one doubts this let him. look at the Return in the Civil Service Estimates of last year. Out of £10,000,000 sterling distributed in Parliamentary grants from 1839 to 1868, much more than £6,000,000 has been paid to the Church schools, while £1,600,000 has been given to all other schools, Protestant and Catholic in the country. Add a proportionate share of the £1,000,000—the cost of central administration—and it will be seen that out of £10,000,000 granted, the Church has received £7,000,000. The system is, therefore, unequal, because it gives most to those who need it least. But I will not pursue this part of the subject further. To the continued aid to existing denominational schools, if they can be rendered available on fair terms to all classes, I consent. To any extension of the system I strongly object. But as I do not think such extension probable, and as my chief objection to the present schools holds still more strongly against the public schools to be founded under this Act, I will pass on to speak of them. This Bill recognizes, as all legislation on the question must recognize, that if the State interfere at all in promoting 1971 the education of the people, it should at any rate interfere where its interference is most needed and will do most good. And if I have to speak severely of some provisions of this measure, let me at the outset bear willing testimony to the genius and the courage which has framed it. And in criticizing important points, let it never be forgotten that the Bill has this great excellence, an excellence for which I would forgive much, though not all, in it of which I cannot approve. If this Bill becomes law there will in a short time be a school, and an efficient school, within the reach of every child in the land. Moreover, the principle is admitted, and before we part with the Bill will, I hope, be extended, that the State has the right to interfere, and is even bound to interfere, to prevent the avarice, the indifference, or even the poverty of the parent from shutting out the child from the education which is absolutely essential for the child's own well-being, and without which it will grow up a burden, or worse than a burden, to itself and to society. These are two great steps in advance. They are, indeed, the only essential ones. I recognize them gratefully. If opposition is made to them by any important section of the people, it will not be to the steps themselves that we object, but that in taking them my right hon. Friend has trodden, may I not say trampled, on some of the most deeply-cherished convictions of half the people in the land. Call them prejudices, what you will, they exist, and my right hon. Friend should have remembered that what a philosopher may, if he please, despise, a statesman cannot safely ignore. Everyone must have been touched with respectful sympathy by that part of the speech of my right hon. Friend last night, in which he spoke of his own inability to decide between the claims of different forms of faith to his allegiance. But he must remember that the indecision of a private man should not control his conduct as a statesman. As much wrong and harm is often done by inaction as by a wrong decision. There is a class of mind one meets which calls itself judicial, and will determine nothing without sufficient evidence to hang a man upon. But instead of keeping themselves meantime in suspense, they feel at liberty to ignore what evidence they have, and act or remain inactive 1972 without any regard to it. When Squire Shandy wrote his famous book for the education of his son, he was so careful and slow that the book was always a year behind the boy, who meanwhile scrambled up without any education at all. So, to bring the matter home, if you let my partner keep all the partnership property because you cannot very exactly ascertain our shares, you do as much wrong as by the most unjust partition. Now the inaction and indecision of my right hon. Friend, which leaves the decision of a most vital question to local bodies, is fraught with more evil and injustice than any decision at which he or Parliament could arrive. Of what, then, do we complain? I speak especially as a Nonconformist, with some knowledge of their feelings, and some right here to represent their opinions. I know I differ somewhat from my hon. Friend below (Mr. Baines); but my honoured Friend will, I am sure, have the candour to admit that on this point he does not represent the opinions of the Nonconformists. [Mr. BAINES: Hear, hear!] We complain, then, first, that by this Bill the school Board in each district is left to determine the kind of religions instruction to be given in the schools founded by them. We say this is shirking the difficulty, not settling it; that the point ought to be determined by Parliament, and not feebly left to be fought over every year in every parish in the land. We say that thus the Bill as it stands, will be a curse rather than a blessing, an ill-omened messenger of strife and bitterness. We say it will revive the old church rate controversy, only in a worse form. It will arise in towns where Dissent being strong church rates had been disused long before they were abolished. Moreover, the old rate was an old and dying grievance. This is a new and vigorous growth capable of infinite extension. But it is not only the miserable strife we deplore. We foresee its inevitable conclusion, and we protest against it. The result will be this—In the towns either the schools will be unsectarian, or existing denominational schools will divide the rate under Clause 22; in the rural parishes the schools will belong exclusively to the Church of England, and the rate will go under Clause 22 in aid of the present National Schools where they exist—that is, the school remaining 1973 as purely a denominational private school as at present, the rates will be in lieu of subscriptions. The provision that if one school in a district is aided, all must be, is a farce; for, in rural parishes, there is only one school, and if there are more there ought not to be. So it comes to this—the denominational system of education which we dislike, and under which we are chafing more and more each year, and which you in vain try to palliate with a Conscience Clause, is to receive an indefinite expansion, all its evils being intensified ten-fold—for the present voluntary school is only aided, and that by the State, but these schools will be supported by public funds; and, instead of a grant, which is distributed—however unjustly—by the Committee of Council, a rate will be levied on every householder and fought over every year, or oftener if need be, in every Vestry. No wonder that this proposal has excited general and growing apprehension and opposition. I implore the Government to consider well before they force such a law through Parliament. I do assure them they could not have devised a surer means for alienating their warmest friends. That the feeling exists, and is growing, they must know, though it may not yet have become articulate. But I am not content merely to state an undeniable fact, that irritation exists, and will grow; that in short the Nonconformists never will submit to this measure. I believe that, sharing the feeling as I do, I can account for and justify it to every candid man who will listen to me. Once for all, I frankly confess—nay, I insist, that it is not merely that we fear the proselytizing teaching of the Church school. This apprehension exists, and is, to a certain extent, well founded, and some think a Conscience Clause is a poor protection against it. Those who offer it do so, I am bound to believe, in good faith, believing and desiring it to be effectual, and I will say at once I believe it can be made so. I think that, except in the case of such a self-convicted fanatic as Archdeacon Denison, a fair Conscience Clause which restricted the religious instruction to a particular time at the commencement and close of the other lessons, and under which attendance on such instruction should be voluntary, would sufficiently protect the children of Dissenters. But why are we not content with this? Well, I will 1974 try to explain why. To understand our strong repugnance to these denominational schools the House must patiently bear with me while I show them shortly what is the attitude of Dissent towards the Church, especially in the rural parishes. And to understand this you must consider what is the attitude of the Church to us. I will not take the case—I am happy to think the exceptional case—of a fanatic like the venerable gentleman I have named. I will take an eminent Prelate recently promoted by a Liberal Minister from Oxford to Winchester. He is able and zealous, and is, at least, in his own opinion, a model Prelate and a model Churchman. Now, the spirit in which Dissenters are treated in his diocese, and in all dioceses and parishes similarly administered, is moderately stated by Dr. Wilberforce, in a Charge delivered by him in 1863, which excited some attention at the time, and is again reiterated in his recent farewell Charge to the diocese of Oxford. In both these Charges, deliberately uttered, repeated, and published, he points to beer-houses, Dissent, and over-crowded cottages as the three chief obstacles to the moral and religious progress of the people. Now, Sir, I am not concerned to question the charity or decency of such language in the mouth of a Christian minister. But I put it to every candid man who hears me, as a question strictly pertaining to the question before us—Is it in human nature not to resent this prelatical insolence? And when Dr. Wilberforce goes on to inculcate as a remedy more distinctive Church teaching in the schools, especially infant schools, however absurd this may seem, is it altogether unreasonable in us to be unwilling to send our children to be educated by men who act on such principles? I hasten gladly to admit that there are many exceptions to this state of things. If all your Bishops were Thirlwalls and Temples, and all your clergy likeminded, I think you would hear little of Conscience Clauses, and sectarian animosity would soon die. We could trust such men. But it is useless to conceal the fact that the attitude of the Church towards Dissent is. speaking generally, one of dislike and contempt, varying only in degree from simply ignoring them to petty social persecution. To borrow an illustration from my right hon. Friend's multifarious duties, Dissent, in many 1975 rural parishes, is treated like the cattle plague—to be stamped out. Now, I do not wish to blame the clergy for this. I suspect any other body of men—say lawyers—in similar circumstances would do the same. This state of feeling is due to two cause. It is due, no doubt, primarily to the mere existence of an Established Church, intensified as its evils are by the parochial system. The law of the Church and of the land recognizes one man, and one man only, as the authorized religious teacher of the parish; all others are interlopers, trespassers, poachers on his spiritual preserve. And this is further increased by new-fangled Romish doctrines, with which we thought England had long since done, of priestly power and the necessity of episcopal ordination. The pride of office thus produced is contagious, and has spread among those who would repudiate the ecclesiastical theory on which it is based. Side by side with this there has grown up among the Dissenters an ever-increasing impatience of religious inequality, and an ever-deepening hatred of priestcraft and episcopal assumption in all their forms. The habits of independence, self-government, and free thought are growing ever stronger among us, and we cannot brook the assumption of superiority, which, whether in the form of tolerance or of intolerance, is all we generally receive from the clergy of the Established Church. Hence alienation, an absence of co-operation in social and philanthropic objects, a habit of watchful jealousy, a readiness—I confess it—to take offence, sometimes irritation, occasionally even open strife—these are the normal relations of Dissent to the Church in many parishes in the land. You are not responsible for this state of things, at least not directly. My right hon. Friend says he cannot change society. No. But you need not make it worse. What should a statesman do in such a case? He should try to limit the operation of this unhappy sectarian strife, and not add fresh fuel. Multiply neutral subjects; accustom the people of all sects to meet and act together on the only possible footing—that of perfect equality; do not extend sectarian privileges to new spheres of national life and duty. Let one Established Church suffice; do not set up an Establish Church in every school. The right hon. Gentleman the 1976 Member for Buckinghamshire tried to persuade us the other night that a relation of dependence was most favourable to the development of kindly feelings. I think Mr. Mill takes a truer view of human nature when he says the society of equals is the best school for moral training. Pity and condescension are welcomed by weakness; yet it remains true that "to be weak is to be miserable;" and that same condescension which is soothing to the weak is an insult to the strong. Sir, the time has come for us when toleration and intolerance are alike intolerable. Let me offer one word of warning—not presumptuously—but let it go for what it is worth. There are many Dissenters—I confess myself one of them—who would see with regret the downfall of the English Church. It is not defensible on grounds of even-handed justice; it has been a cruel stepmother to us in times past. Yet it is venerable in its associations; with all its faults it is doing good work among the people. Do not drive us all to be its foes by showing us how hard it is to limit the operation of a principle of injustice once admitted. Take warning from history. No one will think me guilty of the absurdity of comparing the Established Church as a political institution with slavery. But their fate here and in America may not be unlike. Slavery might have continued to this hour, unjust and evil as it was, had it been content to remain as it was; but when it insisted on disputing with freedom the possession of new lands, and sought to extend its blight, it aroused a resistance which sealed its doom. In your Church—as in all that man has made or marred—there are tares growing with the wheat, and some would rashly pluck them out. Nay; let both grow together till the harvest. But if you insist on scattering the pernicious seed broadcast over this new-turned soil of national education, you leave us no alternative but to seek to destroy it altogether. We object then to denominational schools. We are no separatists, as we are falsely called. We do not ask for separate schools. We want united national education; we want our patriotism and our national sympathies, if not our Christianity, to overflow the narrow limits of sects. What is the logical alternative? I avow it frankly—secular education. A national system of 1977 united education for a people who do not agree, or will not admit they agree, in their religious opinions must be secular. I am not afraid of the word, or of the unjust odium which has been thrown on it. It is not irreligious, as my right hon. Friend said, unless the instruction you offer us under your Concience Clause is irreligious. It is not atheistic, as Dr. Magee dared to call it, unless the instruction you offer us under your Conscience Clause is atheistic. It is hardly fair to call to account a man who is at once a rhetorical Irishman and a Bishop, and enjoys their accumulated license to use strong language, but I may ask by what right he dares to brand as atheists not only those Nonconformists in England who wish for secular schools, but the majority, if not now the whole of the Bishops and clergy of his own Church—I beg pardon, I mean the Church he has left in Ireland. Here is the declaration signed in 1866, before disestablishment was thought of, by the Primate and one-half of the Bishops and clergy of the Irish Church—We, the undersigned, members of the United Church of England and Ireland, desire to express our earnest hope that the principle of united seculiar education, as opposed to the denominational system, may be maintained in Ireland.And now that their circumstances are so altered and they have to support their own ministry and care for small and scattered flocks, will their opinions be changed? No Sir, united secular education is essential to the protection of the rights of the Protestant people in Ireland, and they know it well. Do not let us deceive ourselves in this matter. One great objection to the consideration of the education question this year, is that we are obliged to consider it piece-meal. A Royal Commission on education in Ireland is now sitting, but its Report is not yet before us. We know enough, however, to see that the Ultramontane hierarchy there are making exorbitant demands for the entire and unchecked control of the whole education of the country, the State reserving only the privilege of paying the whole expense. The Secretary for Ireland is supposed, rightly or wrongly, to favour these pretensions. Now, let there be no mistake on this point. I would rather pass that door and never enter it again, than vote for such a scheme. Justice we have done, and are ready to do, to our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects. We will 1978 claim for them the fullest liberty and equality we claim for ourselves; but we will never be a party to handing over the education of the people to the Catholic or any other clergy. If this statement, supported as I know it will be, by the overwhelming weight of public opinion in the country, seem premature, that is not our fault, but the fault of those who have forced the subject on our discussion this year. You cannot separate the two cases. If you recognize and establish a system of sectarian education in England, you cannot refuse it to the Roman Catholic Bishops in Ireland. It is easy to say Ireland must be treated, and is being treated, differently to England, and on principles peculiar to itself. I admit it. But how, if the reasons which you say necessitate denominational education in England exist in ten-fold strength in Ireland? If we Protestants of England cannot agree on a united system, how can we expect the Catholics and Protestants of Ireland to do so? I have spoken of the unhappy differences between Church and Dissent in England, but what are these compared to the long and bitter feuds of Catholics and Protestants in Ireland? You cannot avoid the conclusion. If you will insist on denominational education under the clergy here, you must have denominational education under the priests there. And accordingly the Catholics in England consistently support denominational education. But I appeal to the Protestants of Ireland in this matter. I long for the day which from the moment the Irish Church was disestablished I knew must come, when the alliance between Liberalism and Ultramontanism—seen here alone (save Poland) in the civilized world—shall be dissolved, and the Protestants of Ireland shall be as they ought to be, the van of Liberalism in that country. The noblest system of education ever devised, is the system sketched in Lord Derby's famous letter in 1831, and realized in the model schools and the vested National Schools of Ireland. It was just, it was statesmanlike. In Ireland, therefore, it has of course incurred the hostility of bigots of all sorts. But it has done a great work there, and in spite of the calumnies of foes, and the weakness and treachery of those who should have been its friends, it remains the noblest monument of statemanship in Ireland. It is united secular educa- 1979 tion. It does not disparage or interfere with religious teaching; it leaves that to the pastors of the different Churches, to the home, and to the Sunday school. These can best bring it home to the hearts of the poor. Give us that system here. It will do something to hush the strife of sects. At least it will banish it from the schools; and I never will believe that the honest teaching of sound secular knowledge can be hostile or otherwise than helpful to religion. You do not believe it yourselves, or what means your Conscience Clause? I have tried to be plain with the House. In return, let us have a plain answer to this question—Is it, or is it not, possible to separate the religious from the secular instruction? If it is not, what is your Conscience Clause, but a sham? If it is, that is all I ask in asking for the Irish secular system. But then it is said, even when religious instruction is not given it is desirable to have a religious teacher. The tone of the school is the great thing. I grant it. But why should secular schools have an irreligious teacher? And are all the teachers in your schools religious men? I know well you may have religious instruction without a religious teacher, and you may have a religious teacher without religious instruction. I suppose, other things being equal, a religious man will be a better teacher, as he will be a better shoemaker or legislator, than another man, because he will be more faithful in his work, "as ever in the great Taskmaster's eye." But the motives of a man are not the same thing as his intentions. And a secular education given for its own sake, will be better than if it be given with, an ulterior purpose. There is nothing in a secular school which should render it hostile to religious teaching, and there is no reason in the world why as good men and women should not be found teaching in secular schools as in denominational schools, exercising all the humanizing influence of a wise and kindly Christian character. And to those who fear that the more direct religious instruction of children in these schools would be neglected, I point to the real source of whatever religious knowledge the poor possess—our Sunday schools. Why, even now these Sunday schools attract a vastly greater number of children than all your schools put together; and what 1980 would they not become if, instead of being devoted as now to drumming into stupid heads the veriest elements of knowledge, the children came trained and sharpened by the secular instruction and moral training and habits of the day school? I have thus tried to express to the House what I believe are the feelings of the Protestant Dissenters on this subject. I say their feelings, because I admit at once that they have not yet had time to work out their feeling to its conclusion. I have some grounds for the conviction that they are coming, and will come, to the conclusion at which I have pointed, and which most of their leaders have already fully accepted—I mean the entire separation of religious teaching from the instruction given in public elementary schools. One word in reference to that part of the speech of my right hon. Friend last night in which he referred to the Bible. I cannot bear to discuss these sacred subjects in the House of Commons. But my right hon. Friend, though I am sure he intended to do nothing unfair, yet did try to obtain for his view of the question an advantage to which he is not entitled. It is strange to hear that the Protestant Dissenters are indifferent to the Bible. It is our only Book; no Creed, Catechism, or Liturgy is its rival. It is our only authority; no Pope, Bishops, or Privy Council may interpret or override its dictates. Now I appeal, before sitting down, to my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. The Dissenters are half the people in the land; they are more than half the Liberal party. We have done that party and this Government good yeoman service in the last few years. We have not been cold or grudging in that service. We have asked of my right hon. Friend nothing in return but to be treated as well as his foes. Our differences on this point will not affect our general support of the Government. We think it is the best Government England ever had, and no change is likely to give us a better: our allegiance, then, is secure. You know it. The wrong can be committed with impunity; but not on that account —assuredly, not on that account—will the injustice be less keenly felt, or less bitterly remembered.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, that the speech of the Vice President of the Council was remarkable for its fervour 1981 and sincerity; and although he had confessed that he was not a member of the Church of England, his speech exhibited great fairness towards the Church. But the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had treated this not as a question of education, but as a question between the Church and Dissent. The hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten that they had an Education Bill now before them, and spoke as if they were dealing with a Bill for the disestablishment of the Church of England. If his object really was to extend education, let him consider what the Church, as the means, had accomplished for the country. The late Report on the state of education in four of our great towns had showed that the Church had done nearly everything there. It had established good schools, and carried them on quietly and unostentatiously for years. If anyone desired to know which religious body was the most earnest in the cause of education, let him consult any one of the Reports of the Committee of Council, and he would see how Churchmen had laboured, what large sums they had expended, and how many schools they maintained. If the hon. Gentleman really desired education to spread, he ought, therefore, rather to thank the Church than to attack her by a side blow. But his speech evinced hostility to the Church and not love for education. The hon. Gentleman sought also to create a prejudice in their minds by alluding to Ireland; his argument was that they must not do one thing this year, lest they might, in another year, have to do something else; do not do good this year, lest you be asked to do something next year which may be good or may be bad. That was entirely irrelevant, and no argument at all on the question before them. Last year, those who urged the House not to agree to the Bill for the disestablishment of the Irish Church, lest it might be followed by a Bill to disestablish the Church in England, were told that their reasoning was unsound, and that the two countries were totally different, and that the one Bill was not a necessary effect of the other. For if such an effect had been admitted, the Opposition would at once have urged the maxim—Quicquid facit tale est magis tale. Again, this year, when a similar inference was drawn from the introduction of the Irish Land Bill, the answer was, that the circumstances of 1982 England and Ireland were wholly dissimilar, so that not even an argument from analogy could hold good. What right, then, had the hon. Member to argue that because they had denominational education in England they must, therefore, in another year, establish it also in Ireland? The truth was that the denominational system had existed for many years in this country, while the system established in Ireland, although theoretically undenominational, was, in practice, strictly denominational. The Vice President, in his speech last evening, had said that, besides the mode of dealing with the religious difficulty which was contained in the Bill, there were three possible modes of dealing with it. Religion might, he said, be prescribed by the Government, or be prescribed by Act of Parliament, or else proscribed and forbidden by law. In other words, the Vice President asserted—correctly, he thought—that there were four ways, and only four ways of dealing with the religious part of the question. The Vice President then proceeded by the process of exhaustion; rejecting three modes, he fell back on the mode which was worked out in the Bill. Now, an argument by exhaustion was no proof unless it was really exhaustive; to prove one case, you must fully disprove all other possible cases. It would be well, therefore, to consider his argument a little more closely. He would prefer to state the four possible cases in the following words:—First, they might, by Act of Parliament, enforce the teaching of one religion in all the schools; or, secondly, they might, by Act of Parliament, exclude it from all the schools; thirdly, they might leave the Government of the day to decide what religious instruction should be given in each school; or, fourthly, they might leave it to be decided by the Local Boards, as proposed in the Bill before them. For the sake of convenience, he would group the first pair of alternatives, and distinguish them as belonging to the theory of uniformity; while the latter pair he would treat as belonging to a plan of adaptation. On these two kinds, he would offer the following general remarks:—The theory of uniformity was more illiberal, and more oppressive than the plan of adaptation. The theory of uniformity consisted in enforcing one particular kind of religious instruction, or else in excluding it, by a 1983 ukase of Parliament. This was illiberal; because Parliament would thus step in between man's Maker and his conscience, and attempt to overrule the conscientious objections of the individual; it would ignore, or rather crush down all local varieties and individual determinations. The Greeks had a habit, perhaps, for convenience to the memory, of symbolizing all their maxims of life. The tendency to run after uniformity found a place in their symbolism. This illiberal spirit was portrayed as a giant robber, who seized on the wayfarers in the region of politics or philosophy, and cut or stretched them all to the length of his own bed. Thus, the lovers of uniformity in education, by a Procrustean process, insisted on cutting down or stretching every school to one rigid uniform measure. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) evinced this spirit when he said that to be a Churchman would be a disqualification in the eyes of the Liberal party. The Schools' Inquiry Commission proceeded on the other theory, and took a much more free and liberal view of the question. In their Report, they said—Further it may be observed, the one good thing that results from the present unsystematic state of education in this country is great variety of type. The one thing in which we have an advantage over Prussia, for instance, is that our schools are not moulded into the sort of mechanical uniformity which is, perhaps, the chief defect in the Prussian system. Nor is this by any means a small gain. There is something consonant to our character in allowing all kinds of excellence a fair field to show themselves; and, in this way, much true energy, that would be repressed, and, perhaps, killed in a more uniform system, gets fair play."—[P. 477.]Again, they said—The needs of the different parts of England are so different that a uniform re-organization of all the schools of the country is hardly possible, nor, if possible, does it seem to be expedient."—[P. 579.]Coming to the plan of adaptation, he asserted that, by leaving the decision to the Government of the day, they actually gave more freedom than by leaving it to the local Boards. He would put it as a paradox, and say that it would be more in accordance with the principle of local government to leave to the Government of the day the decision as to what religious instruction should be given in each school, than to leave it to the decision of the local Boards. This would 1984 be plain, when it was remembered that as the area of a government is increased, the government becomes less local, varieties are crushed into uniformity, and therefore there is less freedom. If a municipality may issue a ukase, all varieties in the town must submit. But if 500 sets of managers in the town may each choose their own type of school there would be more freedom. Take, for example, the town of Birmingham, where there was a great variety of different sects. If the municipality determined what or whether any religion should be taught in all the schools, was it not plain that the freedom of individuals would be extinguished? On the other hand, if the matter were determined by the Government of the day, it would be virtually put into the hands of those who built and established the schools—that was to say, the managers. The managers now asked that a school might be established of a particular religion, or, say, a secular school. The Privy Council, in accordance with the Revised Code, considered whether such a school would be suitable for those whom it was intended to benefit. If so, they constituted, by one of the model deeds, a school of that character. If it would not be suitable for the poor who would attend it, they refused, and gave the managers another of the draft deeds; and these draft deeds determined both the management and the religious instruction. By that method more liberty was given to the individual, and more room for varieties of type than if the local Board were empowered to force one particular religious instruction on the people of their town. He passed now to the special consideration of each of the four kinds. First, to enforce any particular religious teaching by Act of Parliament; this was out of date. In the good old days, when there was one Church, and one faith, this was the type of the love of uniformity. As the Vice President had offered no argument either for or against this plan, it might be dismissed from further consideration. Secondly, there was the secular system, or the plan of excluding all religious instruction from every school by Act of Parliament. In these days, when no Church was believed in, and no faith was accepted, that was the way in which persons evinced their desire for uniformity. The hon. Member for Birmingham had said that "in schools aided 1985 by rates the teaching ought to be unsectarian and even secular"; he added that "he did not ask for secular education now." meaning, no doubt, that he would ask for it very soon; he then explained unsectarian teaching as "a teaching which excluded all Christian dogmas and tenets, but not Christian precepts; while secular education excluded all Christian dogmas, tenets and precepts;" whereby the hon. Member thought they would be likely to "secure more Christian harmony." The harmony so produced would be the harmony in a congregation of the dead, where certainly there was a somnolent peace on earth and no ill-will towards men. The hon. Gentlemen told them that "even permission to read the Bible would lead to contests and quarrels between the various sects"; and he illustrated that by saying that some of the boys would be called the Bible boys, and others the non-Bible boys. He then gave a lively description of the manner in which they would issue into the playground to pelt each other with stones; while the ammunition would be gathered and assiduously furnished to each of the contending parties by the Bible girls and the non-Bible girls respectively. He thought he might sum up the hon. Gentleman's speech by saying that he spoke in the character of a non-Bible boy. There were some other points in the same speech, and in the two other speeches from the same side, to which he must allude. It had been said that "rates should not be applied to denominational schools." But was it not exactly the same thing, in this respect, whether denominational schools were supported by rates or out of the Consolidated Fund? What did it matter to him, if he paid the money at all, whether he paid it through the rate collector or; the tax gatherer? The denominational school would be equally supported by his money. To use such an argument was therefore equivalent to an assertion that all public education should be secular. But that was the very point upon which they took issue; it was not an argument in favour of that assertion. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had said—"Let us inculcate the neutral subjects on which we are all agreed; let us teach what belongs to our common Christianity." He, for his part, was unable to conceive a substantial truth—an objective reality which was common to all 1986 opinions about it. Truth is there, and it has to be known; just as there is a right which has to be done. Again, religion does not belong to one day or to one time more than another. "Why then was it not proposed to have this common Christianity taught on Sundays, as well as on week days? If it was possible to explain the tenets of a common Christianity in the schools, why not have a common worship on Sunday in our churches? If the principles of a common Christianity were good for the one they should be good for the other. At all events the State would be unable to define, with the dogmatic infallibility of an Œcumenical Council, what were the tenets of our common Christianity, until some one had written a Theologia, not moralis, but generalis, excluding all special religions, but proclaiming the new Gospel of a Caput mortuum of belief. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had said that his objection to religious teaching was that "it caused strife"; that it did not bring peace, but the sword. He seemed to think that strife was a bad thing, and that unity was a better thing. Strife arose from persons standing up stoutly for their opinions. Was that a bad thing? Political strife arose when persons were stiff in their opinions on political subjects. Yet, in politics, if a Member was wavering, if he was what was called "shaky." if he did not support his party, he gained credit neither with the House nor the country. A "Cavite" is already a term of reproach. So also religious strife arose when persons asserted their own opinions on religious matters. Was that bad? The martyrs had been sanctified or declared to be saints or holy men. The Seven Bishops had been lauded. The Scotch Presbyterians had endured the boot and the thumbscrew, and had gained their meed of applause. Therefore strife was not always a bad thing. Certainly religious education, even with strife, seemed better than the exclusion of religion from the schools in order that there might be that peace which reigns in the Shades of Hades. All these arguments about strife, and about dogmas, were shallow, and did not go below the superficial appearances of things. Every proposition which asserted a general truth, and therefore every proposition which could influence a man's character or determine his conduct, must necessarily be dogmatic. 1987 It must be so, because it must exclude the general contrary preposition and all the particular contradictory propositions. Religious platitudes, on the other hand, and lukewarm-water moralities, could not stir up strife, for they were not worthy of dissent, and must be spued out of the mouth. The exacerbated antagonisms of religious tenets were far preferable to the lukewarm notions of a common Christianity. There was one virus in all those propositions for secular education. They came from a feverish thirst for theory, and not from an endeavour after any good in practice. Those propositions with respect to secular education were based on an abstract view of the condition of the large towns. The large towns contained many sects, and therefore it was contended that religion should be excluded from the schools. That was an abstract theory; for on closer examination it would be seen that it did not apply. In large towns the population was dense; there must therefore be several schools within easy reach of each other; and it was as easy to have one school for each sect as to have several schools for all sects. The hon. Gentleman who had last spoken had said that one of the evils of denominational education was that it caused "a multiplication of schools." But he had not heard in that debate that there were too many schools throughout the kingdom, certainly not in the large towns. There could, moreover, not be too many schools, except in regard to expense; and the objection could be urged only by one who valued money more than a sound education. Neither did the theory apply to the rural parishes; because, as everyone was aware, in them the denominational system was more easily carried out. The Vice President of the Committee of Council, indeed, exclaimed that "if in country parishes we drove out the clergy from the schools, it would be fatal to the education of the country." The Vice President also truly said that there was "nothing real in the religious difficulty; because that the children at the schools were too young to imbibe doctrines." There was therefore no ground for excluding denominational religious teaching from the schools. There was, however, very good ground for including religious teaching in the school instruction. For, let this be considered—How could any moral impression be pro- 1988 duced by teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, or any other secular subject? But a moral impression was produced by the daily lesson on a parable or New Testament story. Though a child could not imbibe dogmas, he could contemplate a Bible event as a picture, and be influenced by corresponding feelings, and accept the words of our Saviour and use them as maxims through life. But the hon. Member for Birmingham and his two supporters had said, "Let us have a separation of religious and secular teaching." The unfortunate phrase of a "pervasive religious teaching," first used he believed by Lord Russell, in 1856—had given rise to the notion that there were two things which could be separated. He would not argue the point; he would ask every father what was his own practice? Did not every intelligent parent watch the first signs of evil tempers in his child? Did he not consider it far more urgent to cure the child of these incipient mental diseases, than to teach him the "three R's," which may, indeed, include rascality? Did he not know that it was no injury to defer the teaching of reading, writing, and arithmetic until the child was seven years old; because he would then learn in six months what he before would have taken three years to compass? And did he not also know that if he deferred the correction of an evil temper, it would become too strong for him to master? And how did every father attempt to cure evil tempers? He knew that a young child was far more open to reason than an older child, if he proceeded on purely religious grounds, which appealed to the feelings and not to the understanding; that he was far more impressible with Bible stories. Was not this a strong reason against banishing religious instruction at any time from schools? But what they had to guard against was proselytizing or disturbing or unsettling religious belief; and why? Because religious belief was so valuable that they must not imperil it; they must not run the risk of exchanging it for unbelief. Well; but this was the contrary to the elimination of religious teaching from the schools for the poor. The hon. Member for Birmingham had said—whether at the end of a quotation or using his own words he did not know—that he would "throw on the parents the religious teaching of their children." But he would ask, on what grounds did 1989 the House deal with this question at all? Was it not because there was a certain residuum in the country who did not send their children to the schools? But the hon. Member had further said at Birmingham, that "the reason why those persons did not send their children to the schools was their hatred of denominational education." But if there was that hatred, was it to be supposed that those people would of themselves give religious education to their children? He need not remind the House that if an education was religious, it must be according to some species or denomination of religion. Now, would those who hated religion give religious instruction to their children? Would not the admitted ignorance of this residuum prevent their doing so? Would they even admit the clergyman into their houses to give that religious education? If not, why forbid the religious education of 2,000,000 children, in order to give a secular education to a few pickpockets and infant burglars? The hon. Gentleman the Seconder of the Amendment, and the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had asked—"Can they not go to the Sunday schools?" Now, in America there were more Sunday schools than in any country in the world, and more persons went to them; and yet in all the reports on those schools, and in the reports on the common schools, were to be seen complaints of the growth of vice and irreligion. Mr. Tremenheere, in his work in 1852, had said—The want of religious teaching in the United States schools on week days is not compensated on Sundays.Mr. Mann, in his Report in the Education Census of 1851, page 71, said—Unquestionably, most of the four or five millions who are constantly away from public worship must have passed through the Sunday school.The Rev. Erskine Clarke, in his paper read at the Manchester Church Congress (Report, p. 287), remarked—If our Sunday schools yielded results adequate to the pains bestowed upon them, our churches (even increased in numbers as they are) would be too strait to hold the young and middle-aged who, having passed through our Sunday schools, would crowd to them for worship.And Mr. Horner, in the Commissioners' Report, v., 262, in order to remedy the evil, proposed to—Do away with the cruel 'penal servitude' of the poor children attending the long Church services twice a day after Sunday school.1990 He thought he might say that Sunday schools did more harm than good. And why? A child had to go to one of them in the morning for an hour, which was a great tax on his attention. Then he had to attend a long religious service, which was a further tax on his attention; and then he was perhaps catechised in church, and afterwards attended the afternoon or evening service. The result was that, as in the Report of the Duke of Newcastle's Commission, attendance at the Sunday school was spoken of as a kind of "penal servitude." And what did the Dean of Carlisle say on this subject? He gave this evidence before the Royal Commission of 1861—I firmly believe that the subsequent irreligion of so many who have been through our schools is to be traced to the injudicious amount and quality of the whole Sabbath Day instruction. Sunday, instead of being a day of rest and relaxation, is the heaviest and dullest day of the seven to the poor children."—[The Dean of Carlisle, Report of Royal Commissioners, 1868," vol. v., p. 124.]Wherever the day school fulfilled its duty, the Sunday school was unnecessary, and the Sunday might be a day of rest; but where the Sunday school turned this day of rest into a day of excessive labour and wearying attention, then the remembrance of this wretchedness made the child afterwards hate religion. The third mode of dealing with the religious difficulty was to leave it to the Government of the day to determine what religious instruction should be given in each school. This was the present system; for the Privy Council now determined the kind of school which would be suitable for the population for whom it was intended. He had a little word of praise to say for the present system, and he hoped it was not a panegyric over the dead. At present, as everyone knew, those who subscribed to establish a school wrote to the Privy Council stating that they proposed to build a school, and that such and such religious institution should be given. The Privy Council thereupon sent down one of the draft deeds of management, which determined, in accordance with the proposal of the subscribers, the management and religious instruction of the school; so that practically it was the will of the locality that decided what the religious instruction of the school should be. He confessed that he thought that this was the best system. Yet he would not oppose the 1991 second reading of the Bill; and why? Because there were a few points of detail in the Bill which might be altered and improved, and then the Bill would become similar to the present system. Even as it stood it was a tribute to the denominationalsystem—an intentional tribute—else the Government would have proceeded to demolish it, instead of fostering and preserving it. The year's grace was given in order that the religious bodies might bestir themselves, and perhaps succeed before the year had elapsed in accomplishing the work which had to be done; in addition to this the existing denominational schools might be preserved as such under the Bill. They had often been asked whether, if there were a tabula rasa, if there were no system of education in existence, they would establish one similar to that which was now in existence? To this question he boldly replied in the affirmative. In 1839 the country was a tabula rasa; no system of education then existed; yet Lord John Russell proposed, and Sir Robert Peel and Lord Lansdowne assisted him, to establish the system that had lasted ever since. Their object was the same as the aim which was now entertained—namely, to make good citizens, to raise the character of the nation. On what principles did they proceed? They said that it was not for the State to pretend to judge between religions; it was not for the State to decide what religion was true; it was not for the State to interfere between a man and his Maker. Yet they knew full well, and boldly proclaimed that good citizens could not be produced, except by a religious education. They said, therefore, to religious men—"Do you educate all the children belonging to your congregations; we know that you will teach them that which we and you consider to be the most valuable part of education; we will, therefore, examine the children in secular subjects only, and pay you accordingly; for their proficiency in these will be a test, and will prove their greater proficiency in that which you regard as a higher learning." That these were the opinions of Sir Robert Peel was shown by his speech in the House on the 12th of February. 1839. He said—I, for one, am deeply convinced of the absolute necessity and of the moral obligation of providing for the education of the people. But I am, at the same time, perfectly convinced that that can only, be effectually done in this country, where so much 1992 religious dissent prevails, and that it is infinitely more likely to be done without disturbing the good understanding and the existing harmony between the professors of different faiths, by leaving it to the voluntary exertions of the parties themselves, and by permitting each to educate his children, as he at present is at liberty to do, in the principles of that faith in which they were born."—[3 Hansard, cxi. 309.]If, then, the House would have established this system when there was a tabula rasa, much more should they maintain it now that it had overspread the whole country, and left, he believed, little educational destitution to be found; now that it was advancing rapidly year by year, adding yearly 1,000 to the number of schools, and 136,000 to the number of scholars receiving instruction therein. Let them shrink, then, from a general cataclysm of the present system, in order to square everything to a theory of uniformity. The hon. Member for Strand had stated that "the present system had not covered the country with schools." Perhaps not entirely, but it had very nearly accomplished this; and it would have done so entirely if a sufficient sum had been voted by Parliament in the year 1840. He did not blame the House of Commons of that day for not doing so; because a sudden expenditure of £10,000,000 would have been an enormous burden to lay upon one generation for the good of another. Moreover, little good was done if education was forced on by compulsion, before it was appreciated by the people. This argument, however, did not touch the principle of the present system of education; it was directed entirely to a question of the rate of progress. If a quicker progress was all that was desired, let them immediately revort to the more liberal grants which were given before the crooked parsimonious policy of 1862 was inaugurated, and not defer the advance of education, nor overturn the present system. The Bill now before the House was proposed in order to accelerate the rate at which education was now progressing in this country, by merely supplementing the existing system. To a great extent he believed that it would leave much of the present system intact; but, wherever the Bill came into operation, it would set up the fourth mode of dealing with the religious difficulty. It would devolve upon local Boards the duty of determining what religious instruction should be given in all the 1993 schools within their district; or of determining whether any religious instruction should be given in the schools. The Vice President had stated that the principle of his measure consisted in "relying on the; radical principle—namely, an implicit belief in municipal government, or a government elected by the ratepayers." He thought very few persons who had any knowledge of the way in which municipal business was conducted, particularly in small towns, or of the class of men returned as representatives by certain sections of the ratepayers, would rely upon municipal government, or believe in the guidance of those who were elected by ratepayers. No qualification, even, was required by the Bill for becoming a member of a school Board. Yet, in 1868, the Home Secretary and the present Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education had introduced a Bill in which they proposed a rating qualification of £10 for members of school Boards; but there was no qualification whatever proposed in the present Bill. The Royal Commissioners, it was well known, proposed, on the contrary, that the justices in quarter Sessions should elect six of their number, and that these should elect six other persons. They added (p. 340)—The areas [counties], and the bodies from which these Boards are to be appointed, appear to us the only ones likely to secure a class of local administrators to whom so delicate a subject as education could be safely entrusted.In addition to this, there were, according to the Bill, to be several different modes of electing the school Boards, varying according to local circumstances. The consideration of these differences might suggest to the Government a means of improving them, or forming a new and better body for the control of education. First: in some rural parishes the school Board was to be elected by the Vestries, or in other words by all who paid rates. The school Board would thus be directly elected. Those who were not considered competent to decide between the two great parties of the State in the election of a Member of Parliament, were considered able to select persons to control such a delicate matter as education. Secondly: in some rural parishes the school Board was to be elected by Select Vestries. In such a parish there would be a double election, or a process of straining; the 1994 ratepayers were to elect the Select Vestry, and the Select Vestry were to elect the school Board. The Select Vestry was, in fact, an electoral college for the election of the school Board. A bare majority in the electoral college would, of course, elect all of their own party on the school Board. Thirdly: in boroughs there was also to be a double election; for the Town Council were to elect the school Board, and were themselves elected by the ratepayers. Town councillors, moreover, were persons with a considerable qualification. Fourthly: in the metropolis, in the twenty-three parishes of Schedule A, the school Boards were to be elected by Vestries, who were themselves elected by the ratepayers; but the vestrymen might be required to have a rating qualification of £40 a year; and, moreover, there was a system of voting by scale, every £50 giving an additional vote to the ratepayer, up to six votes. Fifthly: the parishes of Schedule B of the Act of 1844 were lumped into fourteen districts. In each of these the ratepayers elected the Vestries for each parish, with the same scale and qualifications as before; the Vestries in each parish elected a Board for the district; and the district Board was to elect the school Board. There was here a treble election, or a double process of straining; there were two electoral colleges one above the other. In the last two cases, moreover, the type was much raised by the power given to the Poor Law Board under the 30 & 31 Vict. c. 6, sec. 49, to nominate justices of the peace and other wealthy persons to sit upon the Boards. The process of election in some cases might, it was true, secure the election of gentlemen of very high character and attainments; but let them consider what the bodies which he had described had actually done. For more than twenty-five years the district Boards in the metropolis had power to build schools and charge them upon the rates; yet they had not done so until they were compelled. The Town Councils in the different municipalities might have enforced what was called "Denison's Act," but they had not done so; and the measure remained to this day a most useless piece of machinery. They might also have carried out the Free Libraries Act, but it had hardly ever been enforced. Then, as to Vestries and Boards of 1995 Guardians, he would point out that recent facts had shown them to be unwilling to burden the rates in order to provide the poor with such necessary things as food and medicine. How, then, was it likely they would burden the rates in order to provide education for the children of the poor? They would not now provide what was necessary to enable the poor to live; still less would they burden the rates in order to add to the grace and sweetness of a poor man's life. But he was told that, under the Bill, the Privy Council could compel. It was true that the Privy Council acquired very great powers over the local school Boards. But, he would ask, would the Privy Council be any better off than the Poor Law Board was? The Poor Law Board had to relinquish their constant endeavour to make Boards of Guardians save paupers' lives; would the Privy Council be successful in forcing Boards of Guardians to provide education for pauper children? Or, if the Vice President had found out a more excellent way, then it was criminal not to impart it at once to the President of the Poor Law Board; for every day's delay was death to the paupers. The Guardians would, moreover, have a very good excuse for not establishing schools under the Bill, inasmuch as there was not an adequate supply of masters; and without a master, the school-house would remain idle. Ever since the Revised Code had been passed, there had been an in adequate supply of properly trained masters, even for the ordinary needs of the year; how much more would there be a lack for the extraordinary needs under the Bill? The Rev. W. Gover, Principal of Worcester, Lichfield, and Hereford Training College, in a letter to the Bishop of Oxford, written in 1867, declared that—The supply of masters from the training colleges is now hardly sufficient to make good the natural waste in the ranks; is wholly inadequate to furnish certificated teachers for new schools brought under inspection.If the supply were insufficient now, what must be the result if the number of schools was to be greatly increased? Again, as to the management, the relation between the school Boards and masters of the schools, he feared, would not be altogether satisfactory. For an educated teacher did not like to submit himself in his art, to persons who were less educated 1996 than he was. This was visible in the case of many of the British and Foreign Society's schools, where a master frequently resented the interference and set at defiance the authority of the Dissenting minister; because he regarded him as not so well educated as himself. The provisions as to by-laws he also considered objectionable, inasmuch as they would give power to the school Boards practically to extinguish any school in their district except that which they themselves managed. For the school Board had a power to pass a by-law for compulsory attendance, and another by-law for the remission of fees. Suppose they thus sent 200 poor children, who were to pay no fees, to some Church school in London the school would be starved in a month, for there was no proviso which obliged the school Board to support such a school out of the rates. The remedy was easy, and one to which the Vice President of the Committee of Council ought not, in his opinion, to object—namely, a proviso that, in every case where a school Board passed a by-law for the compulsory education of children, they should be bound to allot to the school an adequate amount out of the rates. Again: a school Board under the Bill might establish and manage a new school; or they might receive and manage an existing school; or they might assist but not manage an existing school. In the last case the school must be denominational; in the two other cases it might be so. It depended on the majority in the Board; or, as the Seconder of the Amendment said, the question was left "to be thrashed out in the Vestries." Now the persons for whom they were providing education were the children of labouring men. It was not from this class that objections to religious education proceeded; the persons who would form the school Boards, persons belonging to the class of small shopkeepers, were those who raised objections of this nature. For such persons were always jealous of any advantage accruing to any sect except that to which they belonged. It was in this spirit that the hon. Member for Stroud objected to the Church—which he called another sect—receiving more money from the Government than all the other sects together; although the Church, it was well known, had expended, from the funds of its 1997 members, twice as much more in order to provide schools for the poor. That was the kind of jealousy which would influence members of these school Boards. The Bill therefore very cleverly put the match right into the national powder magazine. The remedy he proposed was to let the Privy Council decide, once for all, which of the existing model deeds would make the new school suitable to the population for which it was intended. This was the best way to escape from the difficulty; and he could answer for its being practicable, because he had drawn a Bill in that sense just before he left Office in 1868. The evil of the proposed system would be best seen by an example. Take the example which had been cited by the Vice President—Liverpool. Schools were to be built for a low residuum of the population. But that residuum in Liverpool and in other large towns was Irish; it was Roman Catholic. Let the House consider what would happen. At the election of the school Board, what a battle of the kites and crows! The Bishop of Chester would issue pastorals, the lord of the soil would promulgate injunctions, against the new pretender:Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on!would be the battle-cry in Liverpool. At last the school Board would be elected, and would build its Church, or perhaps its secular school. Now, was it in accordance with Liberal principles, or with the respect which was due to freedom of opinion and conscientious convictions, to leave poor children, mostly the children of Roman Catholic parents, to be dealt with as these school Boards might choose? Was it likely that a Board in Liverpool would build a school for the education of Roman Catholic children in the faith and religion which they professed? Was it likely that they would admit Roman Catholic emblems, and invite the priest to exert himself for the spiritual welfare of the children? They might establish a Church school, or a school for secular education—which was even more distasteful to Roman Catholics—but they certainly would never build a purely Roman Catholic school. The same would be the case at Manchester, Leeds, and other large towns. He held it to be an infringement of religious liberty, and contrary to the principles of the Bill, to allow the majority of a school 1998 Board to determine the class of school which was to be built, or to force a secular school on parents who conscientiously objected. The way out of the difficulty was to leave the power in the hands of the Privy Council to determine the character of the school which should be built, having reference always to the requirements of the district. In that way injustice would be avoided, together with all that turmoil and dissension which were to be apprehended if the provisions of the Bill were carried out. He proceeded next to consider the question of rates. He was averse to any recourse to rates, because of the consequences which they were supposed to entail. And yet he knew the difficulty of obtaining subscriptions, and the necessity of some other resource. Of that he was well aware; and it pointed to the necessity of procuring assistance either from rating or from the Consolidated Fund. But he also knew that the moment rating was adopted subscriptions would disappear. The moment a public body stepped in to perform any duty, that moment private persons thought themselves absolved from all trouble, and from more than their fair share of expense. If a school in one parish were supported by rates, the people in the adjoining parish would gradually incline to the adoption of the same system. They would feel that their subscriptions were a disproportionate burden, and would seek to make their neighbours also bear the burden. Or if there was a large parish—for example, Islington—which contained many schools, but which was insufficiently supplied in one small corner; a school Board would be formed, and rates would be imposed upon the whole parish. Those who had subscribed to schools in their own part of the parish, would now find themselves rated also, and would immediately withdraw their subscriptions. The effect would be that subscriptions would everywhere cease, and that rates would become general. This effect was evidently contemplated by Section 46 of the Bill. No one had more clearly foreseen and predicted this result than the present Prime Minister. Speaking in the memorable education debate on the 11th of April, 1856, the right hon. Gentleman said—It appears to me clear that the day you sanction compulsory rating for the purpose of education you sign the death-warrant of voluntary ex- 1999 ertions.… If this be the true tendency of the system which my noble Friend seeks to introduce are we prepared to undergo the risk of extinguishing that vast amount of voluntary effort which now exists throughout the country? Aid it you may; strengthen, and invigorate, and enlarge it you may; you have done so to an extraordinary; degree; you have every encouragement to persevere in the same course; but always recollect that you depend upon influences of which you get the benefit, but which are not at your command—influences which you may, perchance, in an unhappy day, extinguish, but which you can never create.To the change thus predicted it, perhaps, was necessary that the country should make up its mind; but, before they fell back upon rates, it would be well to adjust the incidence of taxation. It was in towns—in the poorest, the most dense and low parts—that education was most wanted. These were the very parts on which the rates would press most heavily. In rural parts, as poverty increased, and work became slack, the labourers would flock to the towns to find work or subsistence; and the towns would have to educate their children. It would be well, therefore, to glanco at the working of a rating system, by reference to some actual examples. He must premise that there was in Clause 84 no limit of the rate to 3d. in the pound; but merely an undertaking to pay out of the Consolidated Fund, the difference between 3d. in the pound and 10s. per scholar; any deficiency beyond that sum must be met by the rates. In 1867–8 the grants were 8s. 6d., the fees 8s. 6d., and the subscriptions 9s. 6d.; to which must be added endowments and money from other sources. It must also not be forgotten that there was at present gratuitous performance of supervision and other duties. At present, the cost and the income were for the best-paying scholars; whereas those that would be added would be from the lowest and most ignorant stratum. The percentage of cost would thus be increased, while the percentage of grant would be decreased. Then, again, a number of children would be sent to school who would be too poor to pay the school pence; their fees would be remitted and cast upon the rates. The expenses of education thrown on the rates would thus again be increased. They would also lose the gratuitous performance of local duties, and have to pay for a substitute for this willing service. If, then, they estimated the grants at 8s., 2000 the fees at 8s., and the rates at 11s., making a total cost of £1 7s. for educating each child, they would be far within the mark. There being 132 pence in 11s., there resulted this simple rule—the rate per pound multiplied by the number of pounds in rental value must equal 132 times the number of children. The children between the ages of five and twelve may be taken at 14 per cent of the gross population, or 1 in 7.3 of the population nearly, or in round numbers 1 in 7. They could easily, then, ascertain the rate per pound to produce 11s. in any locality from the Return of Parishes, No. 114, of 1868. In London, excluding the City, with a population of 3,000,000, and a rental value of £18,000,000, the rate to produce 11s. per child would be 31/6d.; in Liverpool, with a population of 462,000, and a rental value of £2,440,000, the rate would be 3½d.; in Manchester, with 358,000 of population, and £1,642,000 rental value, the rate would be 4⅛d.; in Birmingham, with a population of 320,000, and a rental value of £ 1,314,000, the rate would be 4¾d.; in Leeds, with a population of 207,000, and a rental value of £731,000, the rate would be nearly 5½d.; in Oldham, with a population of 94,000, and £343,000 of rental value, the rate would be 5d.; in Sheffield, with a population of 185,000, and a rental value of £673,000, the rate would be nearly 5½d.; in Plymouth, with 62,000 of population, and £168,000 of rental value, the rate would be 7d.; and in Devonport, with a population of 64,000, and a rental value of £131,000, the rate would be 9¼d.; in Christchurch, Spitalfields, the rate would be 7d., while the poor rate in 1864 was 2s. 2½d.; in Dukinfield the rate would be 6¾d., while the poor rate in 1864 was 4s. 0¼d.; in Nantwich, 8¼d.; in Weymouth, 9¾d., while the poor rate was 2s.; in Grampound, 10d.; in Middleton, Derbyshire, 10½d.; in Stoke Damerell, Devon, 10¾d., while the poor rate was 2s. 6¼d.; in St. Bartholomew-the-Less, London, 10⅓d.; in St. Matthew, Bethnal Green, 9¼d.; in Mile End, New Town, 10⅓d.; in Sedgeley, Staffordshire, 10d.; in Norwich Union, from 10d. to 1s. 1d., the poor rate having been 2s. 9¾d.; in North Shields 1s., the poor rate having been 3s. 11¾d.; in Alfreton, Derbyshire, 1s. 0½d.; in Cheriton, Kent, 1s. 1½d.; in Pilsworth, Lancashire, 1s. 2d.; in 2001 Aldershot, 1s. 3⅔d.; in Farnborough, Hants, 1s. 4¼d.; in Lower Llansamlet, 1s. 9¼d.; and in Lower Baglan, Glamorganshire, 2s. 1½. These examples showed the amount of rate to which persons would be liable. Care ought therefore to be taken to remove the unequal incidence of taxation before the rates were imposed. If not, the rate would be unpopular; the school Board would shrink from doing what the rich were now doing; and there would be no voluntary energy, and no subscriptions to fall back upon. As a remedy for this they should embody in the Bill a clause of 12 Vict. c. 50, s. 18, (which related to Canada), exempting from the rates, to the amount of their subscriptions, those who supported an efficient school. The last point to which he would refer were the Census clauses in the Bill. The operation of the Bill in each locality began with a Census; and the action was to be maintained by an annually recurring Census. The Census was, in fact, "the be-all and the end-all here." With this he had no fault to find, except that he considered that the powers were insufficient, and would therefore either be ineffective or misleading. The Privy Council had now greater power over those schools which were under it, than it would have over the various unaided and private schools throughout the country. Yet what appeared from the Tables of Statistics of Inspection in the Reports of the Committee of Council? He would take the last Report as an example. There were 268 annual grant schools, and 387 building grant schools, in all 655, which, last year, sent in no sufficient Returns of income and expenditure, although required by the Privy Council to do so. Again, out of 689 simple inspection schools, there were no Returns of attendance from 360, and no Returns of accommodation from 149. If these Refused or omitted to send Returns when required by the Department under whom they were, still more would the masters and managers of unaided and of private schools disregard the overseers of the Vestries, who were not even given a power of entry, by the Bill. A master, when asked to fill up a Return, might answer—"I have got on well enough without aid until now, and I will brook no Government interference in the future." What was the only penalty in such a case? His school would not be 2002 noticed. But that was the very thing which he intended; his only desire was to be left alone and not be interfered with. The late Return of education in the four towns bore out what he had said. These Returns had been obtained through the registrar and sub-registrars of each district, and Mr. Fitch said (p. 17)—"No other public officers would, in my opinion, have done the work with nearly the same completeness and case." Yet in thirty-four cases in the four towns alone (p. 2), no Return was given as to the sources whence the funds for the support of the schools were derived. In 108 cases (p. 12), there were no Returns as to the religious body with which the school in each case was connected. In 482 cases (p. 10), no answer was given as to the number of teachers. And in 1,784 cases in those four towns alone, information was refused as to the amount of school fees. What better fate would attend a Census under the Bill? In 1851 the Registrar General had made a voluntary compilation, with the aid of 30,610 competent and practised enumerators, of the amount of education throughout the kingdom. Yet this Return, as it was not based on sufficiently stringent statutory powers, had settled no controversy and determined no doubt. The Commissioners of 1861 had accepted that compilation as their basis; and they also procured Returns through the various Diocesan and Nonconformist Boards. Yet their assertion that there was a school nearly everywhere, and that every child attended school at some time (pp. 85, 86, and 301), had not been believed; and their estimate of educational deficiency in 1861—namely, that only 120,000 children (page 84) were not receiving education, had not been received. In 1861 Parliament (or rather Lord Palmerston—the same thing as far as the other side of the House was concerned) had refused to include education in the Census of that year. This was most unfortunate. The remedy he proposed in this case was to include education in the Census of next year; this would be easier, less expensive, more accurate and more authoritative than any partial Census under the Bill. In order to give time for compilation, he would also suggest that the one year's grace should be extended to two years. While suggesting improvements in the Bill he must not be understood as opposing it; on the contrary, he suggested 2003 improvements because he wished to make it more effective. They had not done much to destroy the existing system or to stop the progress of education; they had acted fairly by the Church and all the religious denominations; and if he could think that the present Bill would be a final settlement of the question he would accept it heartily as a compromise. But one step always brought about another step. Every law and institution changed or educated the people. As soon as it was established the people no longer stood upon the same ground. There might at first be resistance to a law; but they soon quieted down, they accepted it, they became accustomed to it. What they formerly fought against became a habit or a part of their minds. Then the party of change—that is, the revolutionary party—were ready to agitate in favour of a further change; and thus the nation proceeded in its declension. But now the Government had the matter in their own hands. The Revised Code had to be reconsidered. But the New Code must lie upon the table for forty days before it could became law; that was to say, that it could not became the law until April 1871. Let them at once, then, reconsider it, and return to the liberal grants which were given before 1862; let them wait for the Census of 1871, and they would find that, by that time, the work which they all desired to see done would be done, and permanently and well done.
§ MR. H. B. SAMUELSON
said, he intended to vote against the Amendment, and he was therefore anxious to explain the grounds on which he proposed to do so. No one approved more thoroughly almost all the principles advocated by the National Education League than he did; but there was one thing for which he contended still more strongly, and that was the cause of education itself, and he thought that by this Amendment an attempt was being made to stave off the question of education for the moment in order that the promoters of the Amendment might gain the decision of the question exactly in their own way. He should only be too glad if, in Committee, they could get the Bill in such a shape as would fulfil all the conditions demanded by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon); but he was more anxious to get a good and sufficient measure of education, and to give it to 2004 the people of England speedily, than that all the advanced views they held should be at once contained in the Bill before the House. It was his desire that the elements of education should as speedily as possible be placed within the reach of every child in England. It was upon that ground that he had gained his seat, and he felt that this Amendment would in the result stave off that desirable result. The Government were anxious, in order to bring every child within the reach of education as quickly as possible, to use existing appliances, and in their eagerness to attain it they had, to a certain extent, overlooked sectarian differences; but from what he had heard from the Government he saw no reason to doubt that the object of the Amendment might to a certain extent, be attained in Committee. He believed the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster) somewhat misunderstood the ironical cheer last night which followed the statement that the Bill had met with the support of the other side of the House. There had been an uneasy feeling since the Bill was before the House that the Government were content with being supported by the other side, and that the province of the Opposition, according to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman who lately presided at the Board of Trade, was to protect the Government from the too onward advances of their Left. He believed the meaning of the cheer was that they were only sorry that the Bill should have met with more support from Conservatives than Liberals. In criticizing the principles of the Bill he assented to almost everything that had been advanced by the hon. Member for Birmingham and his Friends. He agreed with much of the eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham); but he did not think his argument was altgether in favour of the Amendment. He agreed most cordially that school Boards should be formed in every district, and at once; but he saw no reason to doubt that in Committee the right hon. Gentleman would see it practicable to accede to that demand. He objected to what had been stigmatized as the Conscience Clause, and, in fact, to all such clauses, because he considered them invidious. He did not say that difference of denomination would put the child on a different footing from that of the other children as far as the master was concerned, but it certainly 2005 would have that effect as far as his schoolfellows were concerned; and he had reason to know that these religious differences inflicted great unhappiness upon the children, and he hoped the clause to be proposed in Committee by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright), in relation to it would be adopted. He should also like to know why a parent who objected to his child having certain religious teaching should be forced to send in his objection in writing, while the parent who accepted the peculiar religious teaching of the school was not to be compelled to send in his assent to that form of religious education in writing. He thought such a distinction was invidious and ought not to be agreed to by the House. With regard to the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Birmingham, he could never be brought to believe that the mere reading of the Bible and of Scripture history could possibly be regarded as sectarian education, because that was a class of religious teaching to which no Christian sect in the country could object. He thought that a time-table Conscience Clause would amply carry out the object of the hon. Member in moving the Amendment. If they determined on a Conscience Clause a ratepayer would have a perfect right to refuse to pay rates for denominational teaching different to that to which he belonged, yet he could see no reason why he could not claim as a right to send his child to school as if he had paid the rates. School Boards should be elected directly by the ratepayers and not by Vestries or Town Councils. Those bodies were frequently divided into political parties, and if the proposition in the Bill were agreed to in towns where Conservative opinions prevailed, the religious education in the schools would be in accordance with the principles of the Church of England, while in other towns where different political opinions were entertained the religious teaching would be in accordance with Nonconformist principles. In America school Boards were invariably elected by the ratepayers directly and not through the intervention of any intermediate bodies. In touching upon the 66th clause, now known as the Permissive-Compulsory Clause, he was anxious to express his belief that it was impossible to have any efficient system of education without compulsion. Every 2006 child should be obliged to take advantage of the educational facilities they were about to place within its reach, and this permissive compulsion would not effect. On the other hand if it were left to the school Boards to decide whether compulsion was to be enforced or not, children might be compelled to attend schools to whose religious tenets the parents objected. If children were to be compelled to attend school, a large amount of additional school accommodation would be required, and he could not see why the new schools so to be established should not be of an unsectarian character. By this means the objection that if children were compelled to attend schools they would be forced into those of a different denomination would be completely met. The Educational Union considered it was a blot on this part of the Bill that it did not require the education of children as a condition of their employment to come in under the Factory Act and the Regulation of Labour Act. In Birmingham only 315 such children attended school, and in Leeds 1,212. In Manchester 823 children attended school under the Factory Act, and only eight under the Factories Act Extension Act of 1867, whilst schooling under the Workshops Regulation Act was not enforced in Manchester at all, which showed that the masters preferred to employ children over the school age, whether they were educated or not, rather than employ them as half-timers. The Inspectors reported that not more than 80,000 children throughout England obtained instruction under those Acts; and of those 80,000 a very large proportion of them received, or were receiving, education of so bare and transitory a character, that when they reached sixteen or eighteen years of age they forgot nearly all they had learned. He did not, however, deny that those Acts had in their time been of infinite service. It had been suggested that children should not be allowed to be employed until they had obtained a certain amount of education; but that course had been tried in the Mines Regulation Act, and had proved so great a failure that in the new Mines Regulation Act the present Home Secretary had omitted that provision. In his opinion children ought to be compelled to attend school until they should have passed whatever 2007 should be determined upon as the school age. He opposed the Amendment because he thought there was need of instant means being taken to provide education for the poorer classes. The Chaplain of the Birmingham Borough Gaol reported that out of 3,097 prisoners confined in the gaol during the year ending Michaelmas, 1869, of males, 46.39 per cent were unable to read; 74.60 per cent were unable to write; and 94 per cent were ignorant of arithmetic. Of females, 43.47 per cent were unable to read; 73.28 per cent were unable to write; and 99.44 per cent were ignorant of arithmetic. In Liverpool during that year, out of 30,433 persons taken into custody, 12,241 could neither read nor write; 2,539 could read only; 15,269 could read and write imperfectly; and only 381 could read and write well. Were they, then, to wait until they had settled their sectarian differences before they provided good education for the people? In speaking the other night about sectarian differences, it was said that, if the Bill passed, the first squabble would be with respect to the appointment of masters; but he knew, from his own personal knowledge, that such differences had already arisen. He knew an instance where a master for an elementary art-school would have been elected had it not been discovered that he was a Roman Catholic; but how that could disqualify him for teaching the children drawing he was unable to say. He hoped the supporters of the Amendment had well considered that the effect of the Amendment if carried would be to arouse sectarian differences, and defeat the passing of a good measure. He strongly advised them not to wait till they had settled their sectarian differences before providing for the education of the young. It could not be denied that the criminal classes of this country were very largely recruited from the very children whom this Bill was designed to educate, and he therefore hoped they would accept the measure at once, and not run the risk of getting none at all. Religious thought had led to the formation of a number of different religious creeds. That was advantageous so far as it went; but the heart-burnings and jealousies originating out of these sects were to be deplored, and had caused considerable comment in foreign countries. It would not there- 2008 fore redound to our credit if, owing to antagonisms and animosities, we failed to carry a measure of national education which would prove a boon to the whole kingdom. He sincerely hoped that the hon. Member for Birmingham would withdraw his Amendment and help forward this desirable result. He believed that if the Bill passed it would create greater changes than were contemplated even by the right hon. Gentleman who introduced it. Everyone must admit the services rendered by the hon. Member for Birmingham, and the League of which he was the Chairman, to the cause of education, because they had that means of placing the question directly before the working classes, without which the Vice President of the Privy Council would not have been able to bring forward this advanced measure.
§ MR. CORRANCE
The right hon. Gentleman who introduced this Bill has spoken twice, the first time in explanation of it, and the second time in its defence, equally effectively, as I thought. In the first speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman he thought it necessary to enter into some explanations of the reasons which have induced Her Majesty's Government to introduce this measure. He spoke of the agitation which has taken place, and also of the antagonism which has sprung up between men equally anxious to promote such a cause with, as I thought, becoming regret. I share his feeling in that respect. We profess the same object, the education of the people, and even in our means to obtain it we differ only in degree. But behind this question, as all other questions of great importance, lie some principles which admit of no abandonment, and which in our consideration we dare not and cannot neglect. Now, the right hon. Gentleman, in adverting to such differences, told us that he should propose no compromise in such respects. I recognize in the Bill its truth, and I am glad of it, for a compromise we could not accept. My reading of this Bill is this—it favours neither, at the expense of the other, at all events. It offers a fair field and equal encouragement to increased exertion on either part. It will lead to an extended result, and as that result will be in the proportion of the efforts of each to each, it will apply a test. Now, if this is my reading of the Bill, the 2009 inference is it is a Bill I can accept. The right hon. Gentleman furnished us with statistics of educational destitution, which I think admits of little doubt. We have had many such; but I confess what produced the greatest impression upon me were some contained in the report of the Society of Arts, partly, I confess, from what seemed to me the quaintness of the comparison set up. The first arrondissement examined happened to be a suburban district well known to both—Ealing and Old Brentford, and in Table No. 1 we are given the result of an inquiry between the cost of beer per family and that spent upon education. It is thus set forth—
BEER. Per the whole population. Per family. Per head. £ £ s. d. £ s. d. Old Brentford 21,320 15 3 1 3 0 7 Ealing 8,400 7 0 0 1 8 0
Well, set forth as an equation, it stands thus—Brentford, beer, £21,320—£1,095 = plus beer, £20,230. No doubt a most deplorable result. I will not assume too much nor reduce it to a syllogistic form—that Brentford is uneducated and beery—that Brentford is in England, and that all England is beery and uneducated; but like the right hon. Gentleman, I leave the example and statement for what they are worth. But the hon. and learned Member for Stroud has asked why this Bill is introduced, and he seems to think that there is something premature in its present appearance in this House. It comes upon him, he says, with some suddenness. Surely, it betrays some ignorance on his part. Why, during the whole of his and my Parliamentary life it has been, in one form or another, before the House. Does he forget the Bill brought in by the right hon. Gentleman the present Home Secretary, and his persistent efforts upon 2010 its behalf? Does he ignore the Scotch Bill of last year, and all the efforts made through the Revised Code to meet an increasing want? I think it betrays some forgetfulness upon his part. The hon. Member has spoken with a bitterness upon this question which we must deeply regret—in terms which I trust will find no echo outside this House. He has spoken of an existing system as one which involved no national good faith; as one they could destroy, and ought to put an end to by some obviously arbitrary Act. He has instanced church rates, and he has instanced the Irish Church, and has asked what, after such Acts, is the limit of Parliamentary right? The limit of Parliamentary spoliation is a thing I cannot pretend to fix; but I will at least assume that there still exists within this House a sufficient sense of Parliamentary responsibility to induce it to stop at this point. There is one expression in the hon. Gentleman's speech which explains the nature of his complaint—that large national endowments still remain to the Church. This, then, is the string of his complaint. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will not be deterred from his course by such narrow criticism as this, and will hold; him justified when he makes use of language like this—
PRIMARY EDUCATION. Per the whole population. Per family. Per head. £ s. d. s. d. s. d. Old Brentford 1,095 6 10 15 7 3 1 Ealing 746 5 4 12 5 2 6Hence comes a demand from all part of the country for a complete system of national education, and I think it would be as well for us at once to consider the extent of that demand. I believe that the country demands from us that we should at least try to do two things, and that it shall be no fault of ours if we do not succeed in doing them—namely, to cover the country with good schools, and get the parents to send their children to those schools.And no less so in the principles announced, namely—First of all, we must not forget the duties to the parents. Then we must not forget our duty to our constituencies, our duty to the taxpayers.…. And, thirdly, we must take care not to destroy in building up—not to destroy the existing system in introducing a new one.Upon the provision of this Bill let me offer a few remarks. The first great change which this Bill will introduce into this system is one upon which the right hon. Gentleman says that he expects some opposition. It is the cessation of religious inspection by the State. Objections have been taken to this as a violation of certain contracts with existing schools, a case of malá fides upon the part of the State. Well, the right 2011 hon. Gentleman will, no doubt, be able to answer this. But as a question, freed from such technicalities, I confess it recommends itself to me upon many accounts. I think that the objections taken to it by the right hon. Gentleman are borne out by the Report—it is costly, it is the cause of great inconvenience, and it is unjust. Beyond this, it has, I think, come home to the minds of many that in such matters as religion we must no longer be dependent on nor perhaps seek the co-partnership of the State. It will be an advantage in some respects; we shall develop the resources of an independent class. One thing I think under the circumstances before alluded to we may have a right to expect, that we shall have security under this Bill, for the entry of diocesan Inspectors, at least equal to those conferred upon the Inspector of the State, in all schools upon a Church of England base. The second important provision, as applied to our existing system, is the Conscience Clause, which the right hon. Gentleman will now introduce. No one who deals with it as a practical question will doubt the expediency of this. For of many able speeches which have been made, and many good reasons adduced, one, I think, is conclusive as to this; without it, our system can have no pretension to be a national system; it is the system of a sect. The hon. and learned Member for Stroud speaks disparagingly of this. He calls it a sham. Yet, mark the admission he makes in this case. He says, it is at least sufficient to prevent proselytizing the children. How, then, can it be justly called a sham? Concerning this I am at a loss. I am glad to find that the school fees are to be retained, both from the aid they will afford to the maintenance of schools, and, in some instances, relief to the rates; and also, unless we are to have some of the pet theories of compulsion applied, for the effect upon attendance which they undoubtedly produce. But these are but the modification of an existing system, well known in effect and charted out, and of the scheme before us they only form a part—the voluntary system, whose insufficiency is to be supplemented by the rate. Now, there is no doubt that this brings us face to face with the real difficulties of the case. It may come as a necessity; but it is a necessity I regret. Up to this time it has been presented to us with 2012 such doubtful surroundings, clothed and accompanied by such repulsive belongings, secular instruction, compulsion, and the like, that perhaps it has scarcely had fair play yet. In the Bill of the Government it is divested of such attributes no doubt. It comes as a compliment paid in the case of a deficiency which the voluntary system shall have failed to fill up. Well, my hope must be this, that it will act as a stimulus to voluntary efforts, and thus obviate the want. But it is impossible to touch this question without further inquiry into certain points, and this has been brought before us by the Amendment which now stands before the House. If we have rates we must have school Boards, and these are to be formed out of Vestries, Town Councils, and the like. Now, it has been objected, with some reason, that such bodies are not competent to undertake such a task. Well, I think we must, most of us, entertain a doubt as to this. The right hon. Gentleman has, indeed, expressed a hope that, under certain circumstances, they might not be unequal to the task. He speaks thus—I myself have known case after case in which a Town Council, or even a rural Vestry, has been a scene of squabbles until it had important duties intrusted to it, and then has risen to the level of those duties, even members who had not distinguished themselves before having shown qualities of the existence of which their neighbours were not aware.Well, let me confess I have but little faith in the existence of such unknown attributes, and still less their exhibition under such circumstances as these. Still less from what I have heard tonight. Nevertheless, let me call attention to this, that I cannot consider this question as one we can decide as yet, for it proceeds from the assumption that we shall levy this rate upon the basis of the poor rate. Now, pending the inquiry of a Committee upon the proper classification of these rates—and we may, at least, suspend our judgment at that point—the next objection arises under the terms of this Amendment, and that it has become a formidable one there is no doubt. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman confesses as much. He has counted on forbearance. He has counted on the desire to promote education. He has counted on profession. But it would seem that he has reckoned without his host. It would seem that the spirit of love of power, the spirit of bounded 2013 self-love, or the spirit of religions discord, is even dearer than this. Then I am under apprehensions upon this point—if under this guise, as I am obliged to recognize, from the tone of the speech we have heard tonight, if of malice prepèense, and in pursuance of a determined course, this question is to be raised in every parish and town, then I am afraid we can scarcely look with confidence to the result. I regret that the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman should have met with such a response, and I still trust that of such sentiments we have heard the last in this House, and that this seed may not be sown in soil where such seeds are but too rife. And now upon this point I have another observation to make. There is another class who are, and must be, dependent for their education on these rates, and I cannot say that I am quite satisfied with the provision of the Bill in this respect. Except the permissive power under Clause 24, to pay school fees—and this is confined to places where school Boards exist—I can find no satisfactory arrangement made for the children of parents receiving relief; and in so saving, I include both in-door and out-door relief. Now, considering the numbers, the helpless condition, and the real importance—economically and morally—of the education of this class, I do not think that this question has received sufficient attention; yet from a Report recently made it would seem that we have 54,000 children of this class, for whom most inadequate education is provided as yet, and for whom, as it seems to me, we do not attempt to legislate in this case. Taking the case of the out-door pauper first, it seems to me that upon the provision made we can place but little dependence. In the first place, it is permissive; and in the second place, it is confined to the places which enjoy the doubtful privilege of a school Board. The right hon. Gentleman has mentioned the provisions of 18 & 19 Vict. as applicable to this case; but, unless enforced as a condition, he is well aware that the application of this permissive measure will not take place, and that against its enforcement as such, some considerable arguments may be adduced. Now, without at this stage attempting to suggest Amendments which may be hereafter discussed, I would only say that I think the right hon. Gentleman will recognize the ne 2014 cessity of some further legislation upon this point. I cannot even leave the matter without a further remark—that no attempt is made to deal with the Union schools. Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with them in their present state? Is he not aware that they are held, by the best authorities, to be both expensive and bad? Is it not convenient that they should come under the common control of the Educational Department, rather than that of the Poor Law Board as at present? When this is done, the question of separate district schools will follow as a matter of course. Why, at this time, of the advantages possessed by these, there can be no doubt; and we can appeal to an enlarged experience upon this point. Take the example of the metropolitan schools. Take those recently furnished by the Reports of the Inspector in those Northern counties of Leeds, Swinton, and Wishdale, and the comparative efficiency and cost. Well, upon these points the Bill is defective, I think; and if I have felt it my duty to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to them, I think the importance of the matter will be sufficient excuse. Concerning the question of compulsion, he seems to have arrived at the point, whether its application should be direct or indirect; and, lastly, to what degree we can employ such a force. Concerning indirect compulsion, I think but little disagreement exists. It is a question of degree only in this case; but not so when the compulsion of another class against this great objection must always exist. That it is absolutely impracticable would seem to me the least objection. The right hon. Gentleman says that he has not changed his mind upon that point—There is a point upon which, I confess, I have changed my opinion. I believe that last year I stated in this House that in America, although they had a compulsory provision, it was so rarely put in force as to be of no effect. Further study of the matter has convinced me that, while it is as seldom put in force in America as in the parts of Germany where a similar provision exists, yet it is acknowledged to have had a great effect, since it embodies a moral force which has made education more universal.But as he said that it is useful in some degree to the extent to which it is not put in force, we shall not disagree much as to this point. For my own part, I quite concur with the observations of the Royal Commissioners, who tell us that until public opinion is sufficiently 2015 enlightened to give it effect it will not work, and that so soon as this is so, it will be of no use. By the provision of this Bill, leaving its adoption and application to local bodies, I think the difficulty is well met. The right hon. Gentleman, at the close of his able address, spoke of this question as one which met a material want. He tells that in default of the intelligence which education may be said to create, our productive powers are incomplete. Upon many the force of that appeal will not be lost. But in his second address he says—There is another consideration, and one which I think will appeal with greater force to most Members of this House, namely—the necessity of education as a moral and religious necessity, or a necessity upon which both morals and religion must rest.In a Protestant country it must be so there is no doubt. But what are morals or religion without? The one a slavish fear of consequences, the other a superstitious belief. To a mind untrained and unenlightened, what appeal can we make to fears which degrade, or passion which desolates? Reason is in abeyance. The finest qualities of the mind are not easily called forth. Let me ask what value we can attach to such belief as this? It rises but little above superstition at best. Upon this ground, then, I say educate, and once more upon this ground let education include religious belief. It is no education without. Educate if you will for material objects; but remember this—that education means more than this. It means that you raise the man at least one step above his merely material wants. Surrounded by his sordid attributes, it gives him still something you can expect—something which gives him self-respect. And yet there are those who talk of education stripped of this; education in which religion shall have no part. Its necessity has found champions out of every camp—nay, that of Infidelity itself. What does Dr. Andrew Combe say as to this? Dr. Andrew Combe says—I recognize implicitly the importance of religion to the welfare of society and to that of the individual. Active religious feelings dispose a man to venerate and submit himself to those moral and physical laws instituted by the Creator, on which his own happiness and that of society depends.But a recent writer in the Westminster Review—a periodical not supposed to favour the cause of dogmatic beliefs—in sight 2016 of the great dangers which an unbridled democracy might bring upon a State, speaks thus, and that sentence is my last—But after all it is in the conscious and organized education of the many that we must place our hope. We call lastly on the religious teachers of the people—those to whom the spiritual life of that people should be doubly dear—to merge all their differences in one common aim: that of developing for the whole nation one grand moral life. There are those among them not unworthy of the trust. Away, then, with speculative tortures, proselytism, and jealous inquisition into the souls of men. The national spirit is this day cast into the crucible. It may rest with you whether it comes out a festering mass of corruption, or an eternal jewel fitted for the Master's use.
said, he was reluctant to intrude into a debate of so much importance the remarks of so new and inexperienced a Member as himself; but circumstances which had been brought under his notice by many Friends in the House induced him to think it was his duty to state briefly some conclusions at which he had arrived upon this Bill and the Amendment of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon). He should state these conclusions with great diffidence in his own power to do them justice, but with a strong feeling of confidence in their truth; because they had not been arrived at without consultation with some who had the judgment and knowledge which he lacked, and especially with one to whose labours in the cause of education the House had on many occasions done justice, with a respect and kindness that he desired now to acknowledge. The answer to many of the objections urged against this Bill probably was that they were based on too gloomy a view of the manner in which the Bill would work. That was particularly the case with regard to the Conscience Clause, for the experience of the operation of that provision in schools in the country proved that a Conscience Clause might be made very effectual. But he did not intend to enter upon many of the objections made against the Bill of his right hon. Friend. He would touch only upon three. There was first the objection—which really had much force and ought to be carefully considered by the Government—that it would be in the power of a bare majority of the school Board to impose upon a district a school unsuitable to that district. He was convinced that his right hon. Friend did not intend that such a misfortune should occur in a, single dis- 2017 trict; but the Bill was open to the objection that a tyrannical majority in a school Board might, for instance impose a Church school upon a Dissenting district. Now he doubted very much whether, considering the growing common sense of the country, such an eventuality could possibly arise; but lest it should arise, he suggested to the Government whether it would not be possible to introduce into the Bill a provision empowering the minority in a school Board or district to appeal to the Education Department and enabling that Department after inquiry to declare that a school was unsuitable to the district in which it was placed. That small amendment might probably meet the first objection. The second objection was that the effect of the Bill would be to revive church rate contentions, which had been put an end to by the abolition of compulsory church, rates. It appeared to him that the school districts might be divided into four heads. The first included the districts in which sufficient school accommodation was now provided by voluntary efforts and the grants of the Education Department. The second were districts in which there was no very great deficiency of school accommodation, and where that deficiency might be easily provided in the year of grace contemplated by the Bill. The provision that there should be a year of grace was one of the greatest importance, and he trusted that nothing would induce the Vice President of the Council to withdraw it from the Bill. The third class of cases was where a deficiency of school accommodation, be it great or small, would be found, and where it would not be supplied during the year of grace. But in the great majority of these cases he believed there would be no reasonable doubt how that deficiency could best be met. There would be a great many districts in which it would be so apparent that there was need in one case of a Church school, in another of a Dissenting school, and in another of an unsectarian school, that no contention upon the point would arise. The fourth class was that in which these religious questions would arise and would be debated with great ardour. The elections in Town Councils would sometimes depend upon them, and the difficulty which had been pointed out did undeniably exist, although he believed it had been overrated. He 2018 would venture briefly to remind the House that, after all, there would be no very great hardship in sending children to a denominational school, if there were provisions in the Bill which effectually secured the religious liberty of the parent to withdraw the child from the religious teaching. He thought it possible to introduce such a clause; and if it should be found in Committee that the 7th clause did not meet the difficulty, he believed that the Government would assent to any Amendment which would effectually secure the religious liberty of the parent. He would remind the House that cemeteries were in many towns paid for out of the rates—that one portion was devoted to one religious denomination and another to another; that in many cases denominational chapels were built, and that no contention, or very little, arose in regard to these cemeteries. A third objection to the Bill was this—A friend of his, well acquainted with the circumstances of the great Lancashire towns, had said to him that there would be in many of them none but rate-supported secular schools, while in adjacent school districts there would be only denominational schools voluntarily supported. After consulting the statistics bearing on the subject, he had come to the conclusion that the deficiency of school accommodation in the large towns of Lancashire—he was not now speaking of Manchester and Liverpool—was not very great, and when it was said that the effect of the Bill would be the establishment of a system of rate-supported secular schools, it was apparent that two-thirds or three-fourths of the school accommodation required was already provided by the denominational and other schools, aided by the Privy Council. The conclusion he came to, therefore, was that there would not be in these towns any violent and inconvenient contrast with the state of things in the country districts around. From all he could learn as to other points he thought that the difficulty in the working of the Bill had been greatly overrated even in the rural districts, and in the large cities. He regretted that the hon. and learned Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham) had treated this as a party question. [Mr. WINTERBOTHAM dissented.] He was happy to have a denial from the hon. and learned Member of that statement; 2019 but he (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth) understood him to say that a new Church Establishment would be introduced by this Bill into every school district—a statement calculated to rouse religious animosities; and that was importing matter into the debate which he very much regretted should be brought in. He had also heard it said—and he believed by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon)—that the effect of this Bill would be that Churchmen would in future be regarded with distaste by Liberal constituencies, and that the result of the measure would be to damage the Liberal party at the next General Election. In diseasing this great question such matters, in his opinion, had better be left out. [Mr. GLANDSTONE: Hear. Hear!] So far as party was concerned, he, for one, if he could advance this great cause, was willing to incur any amount of party defeat or unpopularity. He confessed that he would rather lose his own seat, and would rather see the numbers of the Liberal party in that House diminished—though he had the interests of the Liberal party thoroughly at heart—than he would consent to stand still in this matter of education. He did not believe that such would be the effects of the Bill, and he should regret if arguments of this kind had any weight with hon. Members. With regard to the Amendment, he felt that he could assent to its language, nor did he see how the Vice President of the Council himself could withhold his assent from its language. The Amendment simply affirmed that no settlement of the question could be satisfactory or permanent which left the question of religious instruction in public schools to be determined by local authorities. He could scarcely imagine any settlement of this question which could be in all respects wholly satisfactory; but his right hon. Friend had to find out what settlement was least open to objection and was least unsatisfactory. Objection could be urged against any settlement, and none could be permanent. He could not vote for the Amendment, however, and a large majority on that (the Ministerial) side of the House had, he believed, come to the conclusion that, much as they might regret to differ from their hon. Friends who had been doing so good a work in stirring the mind of the country upon the great question of education, it was impossible to vote 2020 for the Amendment. His reasons for opposing it were four-fold. First, in its effect it was hostile to the second reading; secondly, it was advocated on opposite grounds, one portion of its advocates objecting as vehemently to the views of the other as they both objected to the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman; thirdly, it contained no proposal for the solution of the difficulty; and, fourthly, he was unable to discover any solution which was not far less satisfactory than that offered by the Bill. He trusted that the House would go into Committee, having full trust in the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council. There was every ground why they should have confidence in the pledges the right hon. Gentleman had given. He had at heart the principle that no religious teaching should be forced upon the children against the wish of the parents, and all that the House desired was that this principle should be secured by the Bill. If it should happen that after it had passed through Committee this principle appeared to be inadequately secured, then he should consider whether it was not his duty to vote against the third reading. Such a result he could not expect; but he should be disinclined to assent to any measure which neglected to provide that no child should be made to receive any religious teaching to which the parent objected. He hoped the hon. Member for Birmingham, and those who acted with him, would not vote against the second reading of the Bill. There was no fear that they would succeed in throwing it out, yet it would be a very unfortunate thing if it were to go forth to the country that there was a section of the Members, justly occupying a high position from the important action they had taken on the question, who were hostile to the measure, and had attempted to throw it out on the second reading. Although they would be in a minority, they ought to consider what would be the effect of their obtaining a majority; they ought to remember the speeches they had made for years in the country, at the conference held at Manchester two years ago, at the General Election, and during the useful agitation of the Recess; they ought to remember, how in all those speeches they had deprecated delay, and had said that the time for action had come, and that we could no longer go 2021 on without such an educational measure as would bring a school to the door of every poor child in the country. It was acknowledged by the hon. Members for Birmingham and Stroud (Mr. Dixon and Mr. Winterbotham) that this measure contained provisions which, if the Bill passed, would bring a school and sufficient school accommodation within the reach of every child, and on that ground he would vote for the second reading of the Bill, wishing success to the Vice President of the Council in his endeavours to inaugurate such a system of national education as had been the object of the labours of the friends of education for many years, and of which there never was so good a prospect as there was at present.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
I must commence with expressing the pleasure with which I have listened to the able, temperate, and well-delivered speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down. So excellent a maiden speech is especially gratifying and interesting to those who remember the services of that eminent man, the father of the general educational movement in England, whose mantle, while he still lives, has so worthily fallen on his son. I am sorry that I cannot speak in the same terms of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham), which, though sweet and oily to the taste, will leave a bitter flavour behind. It is impossible to conceive a speech worse timed or struck in a more unfortunate key. Until I heard it, I fondly hoped that the present was a time of reconciliation, when earnest men, whether Churchmen, Dissenters, or Secularists, instead of looking out for points of disagreement, were honestly seeking a common ground on which they could most completely solve the pressing practical problem, how to educate the far too many uneducated children of the land. I look upon the Bill of the Vice President as an honest attempt to give effect to this one desire without ulterior object or subterfuge. I hope the great Educational Reform will be carried during the present Session, for if it be not so—if it were now to miscarry—the question will be relegated to many future years of howling agitation, while it will become the battle-field of parties, and the sacred name of education, and still more sacred name of religion, will be 2022 bandied about like a blue or orange flag at a borough election. If we are to avoid this risk, there must be a little moderation in language; a little charity for our neighbours; a little belief that others who do not pronounce the same shibboleth as ourselves, may yet pronounce their own with a like strong and honest conviction that they are speaking the truth from their hearts. Even the most pious Dissenter, in his own estimation, may learn a lesson of toleration from Archdeacon Denison—that man of vehement convictions, but broad forgiveness and chivalrous generosity. If the imputation, which has been scattered broadcast, shall be repeated, that Churchmen and, particularly, the clergy in supporting the Bill are influenced only by a sense of their own dignity, and the hope of ulterior personal advantage, there will be an end to the hopes of peace which are now bright about us. Their support, given to various portions of the measure, is neither indiscriminate nor universal; if it were so, it would have been unreal, and the child of panic, and not of reasonable thought. Indeed, the charge made against Churchmen, that they are looking to their own interests at the present moment, is exceptionally and peculiarly unjust, because the general support they give the Bill is an earnest of their intention not to stand on dignity, but to stand on the higher and unworldly ground of their being messengers of God's truth. If the Church were simply standing on its dignity; if it simply wanted to ride hard that social pride of which it is accused; if it wanted to trample on Dissenters from some assumption of personal superiority, it would not welcome a Bill which will place every denominational school on the same level, no matter what the doctrine of the denomination may be, and no matter how incomplete the theological or classical education of its pastor. Under a secular system the Church would preserve its social prestige and its intellectual vantage-ground; and, if its spirit had been such as the hon. and learned Member for Stroud insinuates, it would have sided with the secular party. The principle of the Bill is to take stock of and to appraise all schools, and to admit those which are not found wanting to be Government schools. In order that we may appreciate how this will really work, I will look at a case which no one here has yet dared to 2023 face, but which I would welcome with gladness, that of an inefficient Church school being floated by a good and efficient Dissenting school, and the rector being saved from the infliction of a school Board by the minister of a Primitive Methodist Chapel over the way. This is a case which may occur; Churchmen face it, accept it, and are prepared to run the risk. The Bill involves the possibility of such an honest levelling of mere social distinction, and it rests upon the acceptance of the true and genuine relations which ought to govern us in the matter, that of proved efficient work in those branches of education of which the State claims cognizance. For many years Churchmen have steadily resisted the principle of an enforced Conscience Clause; and I have no hesitation in saying that up to a late period that resistance was right and justifiable, because it was a resistance offered in the name of doctrinal religion to those who tried to override conscientious convictions by a superior power assumed to be altogether indifferent to the truth; but, in the meantime, I believe that there have been very few Church schools in England in which a Conscience Clause has not bee practically at work with advantage to all engaged. I speak, of course, only of Church schools; while, on the other hand, I should rejoice to hear of any Nonconformist school which had, in the meantime, opened its door to the young Churchman, and scrupulously protected him from the risk of proselytism—of any school in which, when the master began to give instruction in the Westminster, or any other Confession of Faith, he warned all to whom such teaching might not be acceptable to depart, if so commanded by their parents. Still the confession had to be made by Churchmen of a change of policy; and has it not been made with a candour, generosity, and completeness on the part of those whose dignity might be mortified at the avowal, which ought to have secured it a different reception from that accorded by the hon. and learned Member? The form of virtual opposition to the second reading of this Bill is sufficiently alarming to those who wished to see the question well settled; and the speeches of the hon. Members for Birmingham and Stroud are neither of them at all calculated to reassure the timid, for they amount to a simple pro- 2024 clamation of resistance to any system of education, in which any percentage of schools, large or small, founded on religious principle, are to be included. That is the position to which the hon. Members have committed themselves, and they cannot get out of it. Nothing less strong can account for their rejection of the huge existing machinery of denominational schools. Let us put the Church out of the question for a moment, and take the case of a denominational school belonging to some sect. In a Wesleyan school, for instance, where the secular instruction is confessedly good, the children of parents not Wesleyans are not, as the Bill stands, to be detained in the school during the instruction if the parents object, because there must be a religious Conscience Clause; and yet the hon. Members would like, if they could, to exclude that school from national aid. Nothing but opposition to the religious principle in any shape can lead the opponents of the Bill to object in such an instance; and therefore I cannot understand any other reason for the resistance to the Government scheme, which would incorporate and combine the denominational schools with the general system. Is it for the sake of uniformity, however, that the scheme is opposed? I will not waste a word on such an argument, for it would be as childish as it is monstrous to pretend that the great work of Christian charity and energy exhibited for so many years in the erection of and endowment of so many schools should all be sacrificed for a mere Chinese love of uniformity. To what conclusion, then, are we after all driven? To this, that on the part of the opponents of the Bill, nothing but one thing must be borne with, and that one thing is absolute opposition to any system into which the supernatural element enters. The existing schools are too well worked to be abolished for any minor reason, and it is well that the country shonld know the real motives which guide the antagonists of the present measure. Then they try to prop up policy by another argument advanced in connection with that noble-hearted but most unfortunate individual who is trotted up and down the House until it is a wonder that he has a leg to stand on—namely, the British workman. Our ears are deafened with the reiterated assertion that we have emancipated the British workman, and that 2025 he is a being particularly opposed to, and jealous of, priestcraft, and therefore our old schools are to go down. In short, this independent British workman is set up as something between an avenging angel and a noble savage, to hew down the great idol of denominationalism and to build up a magnificent temple of secularism. No doubt there is, and has been, a deficiency of education, which we all lament; and so the British workman, not being so well educated as might be desired, is not at the present moment the best judge of the education he ought to have; therefore, in the interest of truth and justice, I trust that the attempt to make capital out of the British workman, and use him as a leverage to revolutionize the whole religious teaching in England, may meet with the defeat it deserves. The Bill is not perfect, and may be capable of amendment, but the opposition to it in its present stage is the work of a discontented and disappointed faction. I trust the Government will be firm and successful, and in so saying I recognize the fact that success will strengthen their tenure of Office. But in these times it Is the duty of patriotism to support any Government in doing right. The Amendment is dexterously drawn, and may be interpreted in as many ways as a Delphic oracle, while it has reference to one of the most difficult parts of the Bill. On this I may have something to say at the proper time; but the form in which the Amendment is put before the House, and, still more, the speeches by which it is supported, preclude me from entering on it now, for I will not play the game of those who wish to defeat the whole Bill. How the power given to local Boards of settling the religious education to be given in the new schools may work in towns I do not discuss, but its working in rural parishes has been strangely exaggerated. What would be the country parishes affected by the Bill? They would not be those in which parson and squire have been active, and in which there are efficient schools, but parishes in which education is most defective or actually non-existent, where the squire and the parson have been negligent or parsimonious, or where there is no squire at all and a pauperized incumbent—parishes which have been unable to help themselves, even during the year of grace—a provision which I hope the 2026 Government will not abandon under any pressure. Is it likely that places in which heretofore the Church has done so little, would awake to vigour under the pressure of a vestry election? No; I believe that the clause is likely to tend as much to the advantage of Dissent as to that of the Church. But this particular clause is not now under discussion. The battle tonight is whether Parliament will recognize the spontaneous zeal of all the religious bodies; if it will be just to the old Established Church, which within the last thirty or forty years has wakened up to a new life of Christian earnestness; and if it will, on the other hand, as completely and impartially acknowledge and confirm the active efforts during the last generation of Wesleyans, Independent's, Baptists, as well as of the Roman Catholics in the great towns of the North, all of whom have been, with a noble emulation, engaged in educating the children of the poor, with a view no doubt in the first instance to their spiritual welfare, but also with the intention of making them eventually good citizens, good workmen, and good fathers of families. The question is, will the House, in passing its measure of general education, recognize this magnificent monument of voluntary charity and earnestness; or will it, in a vague unreasoning spirit of mere uniformity, or from worse motives—the absolute opposition to the teaching of positive and dogmatic truth—sweep them away, discourage voluntary zeal, and set up instead a State-ridden system of cold and godless secular teaching?
§ MR. MIALL
said, he had listened to the speech of the hon. Member who had just spoken—as he did to all his speeches—with interest, for there was something so kindly in his spirit, so innocent, and, if he might use the expression, something so antique in his Conservatism, that he always instructed those to whom he was opposed. He felt thankful to the hon. Member for having brought out strongly those points of justification in favour of the Bill upon which, no doubt, hon. Members on the other side of the House were agreed. He must correct the hon. Member in one particular. The hon. Gentleman spoke of the sectarian teaching of the Dissenters' schools. Perhaps he supposed that the Westminster Catechism was taught in those schools.
§ MR. MIALL
But the schools under discussion were the schools of England. And he might say that no sectarian doctrine, no distinctive denominational doctrine, was taught in any school of Dissenters of which he had any knowledge. Nothing which was distinctive of Congregationalism, nothing which was distinctive of Baptist views, nothing that he knew distinctive of Methodism was taught in any school, managed by the Nonconformist bodies proper, or by Methodists. They could all meet together, and had done so for he knew not how many years, under the British school system, by which the primary elements of Christian truth were instilled into the minds of the children, without any distinctive tenet or any sectarian bias whatever. Turning to the consideration of the measure now before the House, let him, in the first place, take his share of the responsibility, such as it might be, for the Amendment which had been brought forward to the second reading of the Bill. He was not present, it was true, at the meeting at which that Amendment was decided on, but he concurred in it, and he concurred simply on these grounds—The Bill was a large Bill dealing with the education of the whole country, and it was a Bill that embodied five or six principles of great magnitude, of several of which he heartily approved; but there was one principle, and that a principle of considerable magnitude, which he and all other Dissenters looked upon with disfavour, and about that principle there clustered a great many questions connected with the religious management of the schools to be created under that Bill, with which it would be impossible for them to deal in Committee in a manner which would be satisfactory to themselves or to their constituents. It was necessary to attack that principle, and to urge the grounds of their opposition to what might be called the denominational scheme at a time when their opposition would be available, and when they could make their reasons thoroughly understood. Everyone knew that when they got into Committee, questions of principle were usually frittered away, and they thought, therefore, it was better for them to state fully, fairly, and im 2028 pressively before the House the fault they found in the Bill, and that they could not do, unless they raised the question on the second reading. Let him again take on himself whatever share of responsibility might be necessary in the sentiments which had been so eloquently expressed that evening by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham), who had truly interpreted the feelings and opinions of Dissenters with regard to the Bill. It had been said of him that he had introduced party feeling into the discussion of that question; but he believed that his hon. and learned Friend had done nothing of the kind. He had simply stated to the Government and to the House facts which they all knew to exist, and which it would be far better for the House to understand, than to proceed to legislate on this great question in an unsatisfactory manner—unsatisfactory because the House was not in possession of the real facts of the case. The course of his hon. and learned Friend might be deprecated or might be justified according to the opinion of Gentlemen who sat on that or the other side of the House; but his hon. and learned Friend had put his finger precisely on the very points on which the Dissenters of this kingdom would ground their opposition to the Bill. No doubt they were accused as sectarian, bitterly sectarian. Yes! But why was this question forced upon them at all? They did not ask Parliament to support their sectarian teaching; they asked simply that the education of the children of this country should be governed by large principles of religious equality. They had never requested that they should be put in a position of superiority to Churchmen; but they had hitherto been put in a position of practical inferiority. It was impossible—he did not want to find fault with anyone's motives—but it was impossible, under the present system in which one body of Christians was associated with the State and favoured by the civil power, that they could put this educational question on a basis which would be satisfactory to all, unless they abandoned something of those pretensions which had generally been advanced on this subject. He thought it only fair the House should know that the speech of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stroud precisely stated the case, 2029 although with perfect good temper, and therefore it was impossible to misunderstand the position in which they were placed. He did trust that what he was now saying would be borne in mind with reference to this question hereafter. Now, one word of defence. They had been accused of faction. He thought the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. B. Hope) said that they were a disappointed and discontented faction. He (Mr. Miall) did not plead guilty to the charge of being factious; but he certainly said that they had been miserably disappointed—disappointed because they had expected other and better things. They remembered the legislation of last Session, and the principles which were then established with reference to the Irish Church. They remembered that the extension of the franchise had placed the question of education in a far more advanced position, and they thought they were nearer in view of its satisfactory settlement than ever they had been before. They felt that they had a right to look to the present Government to place this great question of education on a basis which should be completely satisfactory to all parties. Now look at the curious position in which they were placed! The facts of the last few days were really of an instructive kind and character. Yesterday and to-day a host of Petitions had been presented against the religious clauses of the Bill, and coming from where? They all came from the Government side of the House, and represented the feeling which was entertained with regard to the Bill by persons of the Liberal party throughout almost the entire country. They had had Petitions presented also in favour of the Bill, but they did not come from the Government side of the House. Now, if they could settle that question it would be all the more satisfactory a settlement if they could co-operate with Gentlemen on the other side of the House, and there was no desire on the part of anyone on this side of the House to prevent that co-operation. Was it not odd, however, that all the discontent with the Bill should arise amongst the friends of Government throughout England? Was it not odd that the friends of Her Majesty's Government were dismayed, and that their natural adversaries were radiant with joy? Did not his right hon. Colleague (Mr. W. E. Forster) himself feel a little conscious that 2030 the position which he assumed on that question was somewhat an unsound one? Did he not feel that he might perhaps have trampled on feelings which he did not suspect to exist, but which nevertheless had shown, not only that they existed, but that they were in great force? Well, what they wanted was not to cast out the Bill. There was no wish, he was sure, on the Government side of the House in the breast of any hon. Member that the Bill should be rejected, or that it should not be made the basis of a final settlement of the question, so far as a final settlement of it could be made in their time. He believed that if it were possible to select a dozen men, representatives of all parties in that House, and to send them upstairs to consider those clauses of the Bill which affected religious teaching—he believed that in such a case it would be possible to introduce such a machinery as would effect the object they had in view. He saw no reason why they should not come to a conclusion—to such a conclusion, at; all events, as would permit the Bill to be read the second time, and to pass easily through Committee. There must be concessions made somewhere. It was impossible that the Bill could be satisfactory as it stood. He believed that it would defeat its own object, even if it was settled upon the basis laid down by his right hon. Friend. He was sure that it would be a bitter disappointment to his right hon. Friend to find that the Bill did not work as he expected it would; and he (Mr. Miall) implored him—and the Government of which he was a Member, and the right hon. Gentleman at the head of it, to consider whether it would not be possible so to alter that principle of the Bill which had been selected for disapprobation in the present Amendment, as to solve this religious difficulty in the House itself, and not to send it down to be a source of perpetual torment in the social relations of the people, especially in the villages. What were they sent for to that House? This question engaged public attention at the time of the election. He himself was pledged by his constituents to vote for unsectarian and undenominational education. He believed that they could arrive at a conclusion as to unsectarian education, if they were only to come to the consideration of the question with the determination to accomplish such a settle- 2031 ment of it. And if they could do that, if they could arrive at a friendly settlement on a basis which he was firmly persuaded existed, why then the Bill might easily pass through Committee and become law before the end of the Session. He should be extremely sorry if a measure for education should be endangered by the principle—the false principle, as he believed—contained in the Bill. Let them get rid of that principle if they could. At all events, let them consider if they could not get rid of it. And having done so, he thought they should have then done their best towards the accomplishment of the great object they had in view.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
Sir, although the hon. Member who has last spoken expressed his willingness to accept his full share of responsibility for the Amendment, I cannot but think, from the tone of the latter part of his speech, that if it rested with him we should be permitted to read the Bill a second time, and go into Committee upon it. In Committee the hon. Member would be able to make suggestions, probably well deserving our consideration, and by which the difficulty now present to his mind as one of principle might be avoided. It is unfortunate that that course cannot be taken; for in a great measure we are fighting in the dark over this Amendment, not knowing what concessions would meet the difficulty and satisfy those who support the Amendment. Principles have been brought into controversy in this discussion, and as some of them are of great importance, and have been stated with great distinctness, it is right that those who take part in the debate should address themselves to that part of the question, and make their own views in that respect clearly understood. That causes me to recur to a remark in the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham). I have seldom listened to a speech with such mixed feelings as I felt during that address. On the one hand, it was the speech of a personal friend for whom I have a great and sincere regard, and on that account there was much in it to which I listened with interest and pleasure. But in spite of its great power, the beauty of its language, and its tone, which was in many respects worthy of my hon. and learned Friend as an educated man who enter- 2032 tains a due regard for the feelings of others, I do not regard it as a very valuable contribution towards the settlement of this question. If there is anything which is necessary to arrive at that settlement, it is that an endeavour should be made, at all events, to disarm and mitigate the jealousies, the alarms, and the mutual distrusts of differing religious bodies—that we should make the least of these differences as far as we conscientiously and honestly can; and that we should by our influence, and by the language which we use on these public occasions, do all we can to remove such feelings from the minds of others. My hon. and learned Friend, I am sure, did not intend to create difficulties to increase irritation either in this House or outside of it or to postpone the settlement of this question to a remote period; but I must candidly say that many things fell from him in the course of that speech which lead me to fear that such may be its practical tendency. My hon. and learned Friend said that "the intelligent co-operation of the people" was pre-eminently necessary to the settlement of this question. I quite agree with him. But what are the conditions on which we are to secure that intelligent co-operation, and to what quarter must we look for it? Surely, you cannot exclude from your contemplation so great, important, and powerful a body of people as those who are attached to the Established Church. Can you possibly expect to settle this question unless you meet on equal terms, and, so far as you can, on common ground, both those who belong to the Established Church and those who are connected with other religious denominations? If you are willing to do that, you cannot possibly dictate your own terms, which are entirely opposed to the convictions of a large and powerful body of the people. If ever this question is to be settled, you must endeavour to reconcile their convictions with your own; and I cannot but think that the views advocated by my hon. and learned Friend are such as never could be accepted as the basis of a common system, of national education by that portion of the people who belong to the Established Church. Further than that—if you desire the intelligent co-operation of the people—as want it you must—is it possible to refuse to look to those who 2033 have hitherto shown the greatest practical interest in this question?—I am not speaking of the Church only—I am speaking of all those religious bodies who have been concerned in raising the fabric of the existing system of voluntary or denominational schools. Is it possible to talk of the intelligent co-operation of the people without looking, in the first instance, at all events, to that great body of the people who have hitherto done the whole work, and have established all existing schools? Surely, these are the practical friends of education? There may be other friends who have not yet contributed in an equal degree; but yon cannot set these aside as if as they were altogether in the wrong—as if their views and principles were to be left out of view, or ought to be superseded as soon as possible! You cannot expect the intelligent co-operation of the people in a system which leaves out of sight and practically condemns all that has hitherto been done by those who have founded the existing system of voluntary schools, and the principle on which it has been achieved. Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth, in a Memorandum which he published we years ago, estimated the number of children in State-aided and inspected day schools at 1,250,000, and calculated that in unaided schools there were 1,000,000 more. Speaking generally, these are schools, which are not only voluntary, but also denominational. The residue to be provided for was estimated by him, I think, at 1,250,000 more; so that you have got nearly two-thirds of the whole ground already covered by the voluntary operations of those denominational schools. My hon. and learned Friend, although not thinking they have been going on a good system—although practically condemning them and their system—has frankly admitted that there would be such a waste of power and of resources in attempting to set them aside, that he does not propose to do so. But it is evident that if you do not want to set them aside—if you wish to co-operate with them and with that system, you must adopt means which are in their spirit and tendency co-operative with and not antagonistic to them. You must not seek to supplement them by a system intended to sweep them away, or absorb them and swallow them up. For, even if that 2034 were desired to be done, what would be the immediate effect of your attempting to do it? Why, you would throw the whole of that powerful mass of zeal and all the persons interested in those schools into practical antagonism to your system. Instead of getting co-operation and extension, and a truly supplementary system, you would introduce an educational warfare, with results which, I am satisfied, would never accomplish your object nor any other object that is really for the public good. By the way, I should like to ask a question about the meaning of this Amendment, for among the other ambiguities in it one that struck me arises from its peculiar phraseology. It says—That no measure for the elementary education of the people will afford a satisfactory or permanent settlement which leaves the question of religious instruction in schools"—what schools?—"in schools supported by public funds and races to be determined by local authorities.When I first read that I thought it referred only to rate-supported schools under this Bill, and that the local authorities meant were only the school Boards proposed by the Bill; and perhaps that may really be the meaning of the Amendment. But I find "public funds" as well as rates mentioned; and the term "local authorities" appears capable of being extended to the managers of those schools which are aided by public funds as well as those to be constituted out of the local rates, [Mr. DIXON intimated dissent.] I understand from the hon. Member for Birmingham that is not his intention, and I am glad to have that assurance but there again the language of the Amendment, at least, involves a principle which would condemn assistance to existing denominational schools from public funds, if the local authorities who managed them were capable of determining the question of religious instruction. Although not intended to have that effect, the language might be so construed, and the principle, however you may limit the words, goes to that full length. But I will assume it to be the opinion of the House that we ought to co-operate—that is, in good faith, to co-perate—in the spirit of good-will and not in the spirit of antagonism, which is, of course, no co-operation at all—with the existing system of denominational schools. Well, if that is your intention—if your object is to cover the 2035 ground which they do not cover, to reach the children whom they do not reach, to carry home by these combined means the opportunities of education to every child in the kingdom—how will you best proceed to do that? I apprehend that manifestly your supplementary system ought to be local; because in that way it will be elastic, it will adapt itself to the varying wants and circumstances and condition of the different districts to which it is applied. Difficulties may exist in some districts which do not exist in others; there will be wants in some places different from the requirements of others, and your system, therefore, should be local, in order that local wants may be met by those who understand them on the spot, and who have to find the money to supply them. But if that be so, the local authorities must have as much of freedom as you can possibly give them, consistently with such general principles as Parliament may itself see its way to define in the Bill. And if you wish that system to succeed, can that freedom stop short of enabling them to get the kind of education which they really want? I ask the House to notice that this is the very condition of the argument; because what is the meaning of all this discussion unless you believe that the local authorities in many parts of the kingdom would desire to have religious instruction if they were permitted to have it; it is the condition of the argument that in many places that is the thing which they want; and, of course, if it is only a question of the relative majority in a divided community which is to determine this point, that is evidently a matter that may be arranged in Committee. Whether the majority should be a simple majority, or should be fixed at two-thirds or three-fourths, or at whatever other proportion, is a question that may be fairly considered in Committee. But it is, I repeat, the very condition of the argument that you assume that if you give them this power it will be used; in other words, you must assume that the local authorities in many cases do want to have religious education, and will have it if you allow them. Then do you suppose you will have the co-operation of this supplementary local system if you tie their hands behind them upon points to which they attach the greatest importance, and say they shall not sup- 2036 ply their own real wants, such as they know them to be? Of course there might be reasons for doing that; but one thing is quite clear—it must diminish in the greatest degree the efficiency of your system. And the practical effect of such a scheme, on the assumption which I make that in many places the preponderating majority of the local communities, knowing their own wants, would desire to have not a purely secular but a religious system of education, would be that you would paralyze their zeal, destroy their interest, and would not have their really willing co-operation. The local authorities would not be willing to tax themselves, and it would be necessary to call in that interference of the State—of the central governing power, which this Bill provides for in cases of emergency. But that would inevitably break down if you called it in on any large scale. What would become of the scheme of raising local rates all over the country for education if the ratepayers in those places could not have their own way about it—if they were not to have the sort of education they wanted, and if a Department of the Government was to impose local rates upon them? Is it not perfectly plain that the whole country would be thrown into a flame, and that the system would soon break down under its own weight? It is contrary to the principles of our Constitution, and contrary to our system of government, to throw upon any other authority than the local communities the determination of a question of local taxation—if it is to be determined at all. Safeguards to protect the minority no doubt Parliament may and would provide; but if there are to be supplementary schools maintained by local rates, you must give a practical discretion to the local bodies; and if you do not allow them to have such an education as they want, they will not be willing to tax themselves for a different sort of education, and the State would be totally unable to compel them to do it. I may be excused for referring on this subject to an extract which I have made from the same Memorandum which I mentioned before of that eminent man, Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth; for surely no man brings greater experience or judgment, or a more fair and impartial mind to the consideration of this question. He says— 2037A measure for establishing a rate-in-aid of school incomes cannot be successful in opposition to the feelings and opinions of the religious communions; and it would lack both stability and efficiency if it did not obtain the active co-operation of the landed proprietors and of the intelligent and educated portions of the middle classes of rural parishes.Well, these are the conditions which you must observe in your scheme. Anything adopted under the influence of any theory whatever—under the influence of any political organization whatever—which violates those principles and deprives you of that co-operation, would be fatal to the practical working and success of your scheme. You would not and could not get that universal system of national education which you want; and if you superadded the element of compulsion, of which we have heard so much, it would become an intolerable tyranny. I say that without the least hesitation. We do not live, like some Continental nations, under Governments which can do almost what they will in these matters. The Government of this country cannot force upon the people, who are to tax themselves for it, a system of compulsory national education which shall not be in accordance with the national sentiment and feeling. No jealousies or rivalries of Churches or of sects will make such a thing go down in this country. I have said nothing at present about my own views as to this so-called—and, I am afraid, truly called—religious difficulty. We have been in hopes, from a good deal that we have recently heard, that the religious difficulty was diminishing, was disappearing, and approaching its vanishing point. I am afraid that difficulty has expanded again into rather considerable dimensions during this debate. I own—and I say it with great regret—that I cannot think it now comes from those from whom it would formerly have been expected. We have heard much of unsectarian education. If the religious difficulty has been inflamed on this occasion, I think it is on the part of those who talk of unsectarian education. I want fairly to put this question to the House—Is the mind of the country, on the whole, in favour of the principle of religious education or in favour of secular education? Now, I take two tests. One is that which I have already noticed—namely, this Amendment. If the mind of the country were in favour of 2038 secular education, you probably would trust the local authorities. But this Amendment, which refuses to trust the local authorities, I cannot but think proceeds upon the view that, as a general rule, or at least in a large proportion of cases, the majority would be in favour of religious education. And this is not only to be implied from the expressions of the Amendment—the broad facts of the existing schools all show that the people are in favour of religious, and what, on the whole, is called denominational education. There is no doubt about it. The National and aided schools are denominational. The unsupported schools, although they may be very liberal, as the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall) showed, are generally denominational. The British and Foreign schools, though not denominational in the sense of being confined to any particular sect, nevertheless recognize the principle of religious instruction. In fact, throughout the country, wherever the spontaneous will of the people has enabled them to manifest what are the principles of education which they want and prefer, it has been shown in the shape of some form or other of religious education. Therefore. I say you have the important fact that that is the mind of the country, on the whole, at present. I do not say that in a sense exclusive of all secular schools, or condemnatory of them; but I say the plain manifestations of fact are that the general want of the country is an education which is of a religious and not of a purely secular character. There is a remarkable history to which I may refer in connection with that point, and in illustration of it, which perhaps I might not have thought of but for the manner in which the subject was referred to by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham). My hon. and learned Friend seems to think that the Irish national system of education is the undenominational thing he wants. Well, if that be so—if something exactly corresponding to the Irish national system will meet the views of those who support this Amendment—I think our differences will not be so very difficult to reconcile when we get into Committee. Now, what is the history of the Irish national system? If it was originally designed upon the conception of a purely secular system, then I must say it is a 2039 remarkable instance of the truth of the line of Horace—Naturam expellas furcâ; tamen usque recurret;for the minds of the Irish people are such that it is impossible for such a system to work in that country, or I venture to say in any other country where religion has the power which it happily has in this. Now, what is the history of the Irish national system? It was designed to provide for joint literary and separate religious instruction, to which moral instruction was afterwards added, but still in the same schools and by public authority. There was at first only one class of schools, called "vested schools"—that is, schools in which the fabric was vested in the public authorities. But that class did not satisfy the wants of the people, and the Presbyterians in Ireland afterwards suggested the addition of a second class of schools, which are called "the non-vested schools," where private persons supply the building, while the money to pay the schoolmaster and to furnish the books is, as well as in the vested schools, principally found by the State. What is the relative proportion of those two classes of schools now? The non-vested schools are to the vested as 4,000 to 1,000. In both classes practically throughout Ireland—I do not mean in every case—the priest or the clergyman is the patron and manager, and appoints the teacher. Under the rules the religious instruction is given according to a time-table in both classes of schools. Sometimes it is given in the middle of the other lessons, sometimes before or after; but with this distinction, that in the vested schools other religious teachers besides the teacher of the school, or, in other words, besides the schoolmaster nominated by the priest or clergyman, may enter and give instruction—which I believe in practice they never do. So that the religious teaching given under that system is practically given by the schoolmaster, though, according to the time-table, and at different hours from the hours of the other instruction. But the non-vested schools are under this rule which I will read to the House. The 9th rule of the Irish system says—In schools not vested, and which receive no other aid than salary and books, it is for the patrons or managers to determine whether any, and, if any, what religious instruction shall be 2040 given in the school-room; but if they do not permit it to be given in the school-room, the children whose parents or guardians so desire must be allowed to absent themselves from the school at reasonable times for the purpose of receiving such instruction elsewhere.The manager or patron may practically determine what religious instruction is to be given in the school-room. That may be right, or it may be wrong; but the practical operation of it is, that in the greater number of the Slate-supported schools in Ireland the Roman Catholic religion is taught, and in others the Protestant religion, according to the tenets of the different denominations. To talk of that not being in substance and practice very much the same thing as a denominational system does appear to me a very difficult proposition to understand. So much for the result of the attempt that was made to establish a purely secular system in Ireland. I do not know whether anybody thinks there is a purely secular system in America; but I have here a very interesting letter, which appeared as recently as yesterday in The Times, from Mr. Rogers, of Bishopsgate, one of the most liberal and enlightened clergymen in the Church of England, and one who has laboured most effectually in the cause of education. Mr. Rogers says—And here I may remark that I was very much struck with the religious element in the American schools. The opening ceremony is a most edifying scene, well calculated to impress the children. The whole school assembled together in one room, a short psalm, read in the most reverent manner by the principal teacher, the Lord's Prayer repeated, and a cheerful hymn or song sung form an appropriate devotional introduction to the day's work.There is the spirit of religion, at all events, whatever may be the specific instruction. I think, therefore, the practical result is that we must go far and wide among religious nations before we can find that willing and intelligent co-operation of the people in this secular system about which so much has been said. Now, let me ask whether majorities in this matter have not some rights as well as minorities? Suppose a community pretty nearly united in religion—or not much apart—thinking that they can very well reconcile the supply of education for their own wants, upon principles which they hold most important, with a due regard to the consciences of the minority: has the majority no right to have the education it desires— 2041 without having struck out of it what it considers the most important part? It seems most absurd to expect the enlightened co-operation of the people or the success of any system of education if you will not concede that right to such majorities. Now, what is my idea of religious education? I do not mean, on the one hand, that the State is to proscribe a certain set of dogmas, or to prescribe any set of dogmas—nor have[...] in view in my own mind any set of dogmas at all; but what I have in view is this—that where morality is founded upon religious belief the two things are inseparable, and if you wish that which is the rule of life, the principle of conduct, to be taught—which is of much more importance than any secular education—you cannot tie the hands of the teacher behind his back and tell him that he shall not speak of what he really believes, that he shall not refer to the highest sanctions for right and moral conduct, or to those truths and facts of religion which he believes to lie at the foundation of those sanctions. You cannot by any possibility lay down a law by way of exclusion or proscription against religious teaching in any formula whatever. without running the risk of crippling that which is of essential and vital importance—the power of teaching the rule of practice and of life according to the sincere belief of the teacher. Of course, that rule is the foundation of all morality, and although, in a business point of view, sound instruction in every kind of useful knowledge is of the greatest importance, I venture to say that sound morality is the thing of most importance of all, both politically and socially. For my own part, I would rather that my child should be educated after the manner of the ancient Persians, who were only taught to ride, to shoot, and to speak the truth, rather than that he should be taught all the sciences in the world without the inculcation of that moral principle which is involved in "speaking the truth." How can you, in a religious people, among, a people who believe that morality is founded on religion, expect education in morality to prosper if the sources and foundations of morality are not left free in the hands of the teacher? I do not believe it possible. I come now to the examination of that other idea—the secular one. It presents even a greater 2042 difficulty, because I do not really know what it is which, according to that idea, would be allowed or disallowed. In his able and temperate speech the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) said a great deal which looked as if he would be satisfied with separate religious teaching in the school while the secular education was given at another time. Well, that is a question of arrangement not very difficult in a religious school. Of course, in a school in which you have separate religious teaching by a man who believes in religion, it is certain that all the other teaching will be given in a religions spirit; and if that be the only difference between the hon. Gentleman and myself, we ought to be on the same side, and not now discussing this question. I observe that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham), in harmony with the sincere and touching words he uttered as to his own feelings of reverence for the Bible—which words I have no doubt expressed the views not of himself alone, but also of those for whom upon this occasion he has been spokesman—has placed the following Amendment on the Paper:—In any school maintained wholly or in part out of local rates under this Act no religious instruction shall be given or religious observances practised other than the reading of the Scriptures.He would permit the Bible to be read, and, to that extent, he would leave the question of general religious teaching with rate-aided schools to be settled by the local authorities in each case. I should have liked to hear from my hon. and learned Friend a clear statement of his own opinion, whether the Bible should or should not be taught in the schools. That his sentiment would be in favour of it I see as clearly as possible; but, whether his theory would permit him to give effect to that sentiment. I, observing his silence on the subject, entertain a great deal more than doubt. I wish my hon. and learned Friend would trust his heart more than his theories. A theory with which our own feelings and sentiments do not accord is seldom sound or true and will seldom command the co-operation of any unintelligent body of men. I would now, with permission of the House, say what I myself think about this secular instruction. And first, let me remark that there 2043 is all the difference in the world between an armed and a friendly neutrality. I take it that the friendly neutral is the man who will you with you as much as ever he can; the armed neutral is he who is all but an enemy. That applies most truly in this case. Indeed, if the House will excuse me, I will venture—because the subject we are dealing with is a very serious one—to refer to one of those sayings which fell from the lips of Him to whom we all look as the teacher of all truth—"He that is not with us is against us," and "He that is not against us is with us." A secular school, founded by persons who would prefer religious education, in places and under circumstances which will admit of nothing better, is friendly to religion and may be penetrated by the spirit of religion throughout its whole administration. I entirely agree with the eloquent words of Bishop Thirlwall, which are quoted in a recent speech of the Rev. Mr. Caldicott. They are these—I do not think that a school in which education is confined to mere secular subjects, is, therefore, of necessity irreligious. I believe it may be a school of morals, as well as of learning; acting upon the habits and character by discipline, precept, and example, and thus opening the way and disposing the heart for an intelligent reception of religion.I remember many years ago in this House saying that, looking to the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, I could not agree with those who called the Colleges founded by Sir Robert Peel "Godless Colleges." They seemed to me to be as good institutions as the circumstances of Ireland were susceptible of at that time; and if that be so, there is no necessary antagonism, between a secular school and a religious school, between secular knowledge and religion; but I cannot extend the same remark to that phase of the secular idea of education which proscribes and puts itself into opposition to religion. The Amendment before the House, and the party who support it are, as relates to this Bill, in a position of armed and not of friendly neutrality, for the Amendment proposes to cast out of the measure the power of giving religious instruction, in places where it is practicable to give it, and where it would be valued and desired by the people. My hon. and learned Friend has quoted some of the flowers of our literature, and I, following him somewhat, would remind the House of the manner 2044 in which Plato in his Republic treats the poets. They are received with the greatest honours, crowned with flowers, and conducted with music and dancing over the frontier, and put out of the land. That, I confess, appears to me to be the sort of respect which is shown to religion as an element of education by those who say it shall find no place in any school supported out of the public rates. They are an instance of those who, because "they are not with us, are against us." It has been said, however, that we do not by any means cripple the resources of religious instruction by excluding it from the schools, and requiring that all the instruction given there shall be secular. On this point I should like to speak a few words of criticism in reference to a sentence in a speech recently delivered by the Rev. Mr. Caldicott, an able man, master of a school in Bristol, and a clergyman of, I believe, the Church of England. That rev. gentleman said, that religious instruction may be given separately "by the ministers of religion and the parents, whose proper business it is." I agree with him that the parents have a duty in this matter—and if they discharged it better there would be no necessity for our discussing now, how the State shall supply the educational wants of the people—and that it is one of the most sacred duties of ministers of religion to teach religion wherever they have an opportunity; but I protest utterly against the notion that it is the proper business of parents and ministers of religion only. The real truth of the matter was very well expressed some time ago by the Rev. Mr. Caird, a clergyman in Scotland, who, in a well-known sermon on The Religion of Common Life, said, in effect, that in religion is good for anything it is good for everything: it should penetrate every part of life; there is no phase of instruction which the religious spirit will not and ought not to influence and modify and colour. Therefore I say that the idea of telling children to learn something useful in a secular sense at school, and to learn religion elsewhere, is in substance to put religion in a point of view which is false, if there be any truth in religion, and at the same time to teach the young to regard it in that false light. Having said so much about the rights of the majority, I should like to say a very few words about the rights 2045 of a minority. I entirely agree that those rights ought to be protected, and that there are a considerable number of securities for their protection which would still exist, whether the Bill were passed as it now stands, or in a modified form, the result of consistent and reasonable amendment. It is true that we have lately heard that the Conscience Clause is not of any value; and perhaps the hon. and learned Member for Stroud, who still has some faith in it, may soon find himself in a minority. It seems to me, however, that if the parents are satisfied, nobody else has any reason to complain. The children manifestly at that tender age are no judges either one way or the other, and if those who are morally and legally responsible for the children are satisfied I cannot see how anybody is injured. As to what has been said about the inconsistency of giving a Conscience Clause and at the same time objecting to secular education, it is exactly one of those cases where the influence of the religious spirit, in the general conduct of the school, will extend even to those who are unavoidably prevented from receiving the direct religious instruction, The objection is purely theoretical. The Rev. William; Rogers, in his letter to which I have already referred, says—The religious difficulty does not exist in the practical working of the school, and is never raised by the parents, who are perfectly satisfied if the general tone of the school is good and the children make progress in their secular learning;and, then, contemplating the possibility of there being some places in which a spirit of strife might arise, the rev. Gentleman proceeds—Meanwhile, the parents, who are the most interested, will take no part in the fight, and will continue to send their children to the school, if, in their opinion, it is a good one and satisfies their requirements.If that is the state of mind of the parents, there is no very great harm done to them or to their children. I do not, however, myself agree with those who think there would be a practical tendency to perpetual strife in the working of this Bill by the local authorities. I do not think that such experience as we have of the conduct of educational institutions by such agencies justifies that expectation. The City of London School is conducted by the Corporation of London, and is a school where education is given upon religious principles, but in 2046 a manner perfectly inoffensive and unobjectionable to all religious denominations. We are told that the Grammar School of King Edward VI., in Birmingham—an institution of perhaps a still higher grade than the City of London School—is conducted on the same principle, and with precisely similar results. I have had the honour to sit for two English boroughs in this House, and in each of those boroughs I find an instance of what I am urging upon the House. There is in Plymouth a most useful and efficient school—one of the best in the West of England. It is managed by the corporation, but there is no strife, religious partizanship, quarrelling, or attempt to produce discord in the managing body; and the same remark applies to the school in the smaller borough of Richmond which I have now the honour to represent. On the contrary, it is my belief that the tendency of such bodies as vestries and corporations when they are met to discuss questions of common interest to them all will, in the long run, be in the direction of agreement, and, therefore, I look upon the power those bodies will possess as being another safeguard for the consciences of the minority. There is another safeguard not to be lost sight of. I allude to the clergy themselves, who will not wish that in these rate-established schools their office should be discharged for them; they would wish that the schools should be conducted on religious principles; but they would not aim at making them clerical schools, not only because, as a general rule, they could not do it, but because they would desire the authoritative instruction of the children of their congregations in the catechisms and formularies of the Church to be given under their own superintendence and control. But there is something even stronger than all that I have mentioned, something which makes it appear to me that nothing can be more chimerical than the alarms which have been raised or than the suggestions which have been made as to concurrent endowment, or a revival of anti-church rate agitation. The proposal made by this Bill has no more in common with the support of religious worship or the building and repairing of churches than would be the case with any other measure brought before the House in the ordinary course of business. In the nature of 2047 things you can have no reasonable ground for apprehending that any great amount of sectarianism will be infused into the minds of poor children under the age of twelve or fourteen years. You will not muzzle the teacher, you will not prevent him—at least I think you ought not to prevent him—from teaching what he believes to be true, according to the manner in which he himself has received it; but this is certain, that into the minds of these poor children, even if he tries to do it, he cannot convey theological definitions and distinctions, though he may instil some notion of those great facts and truths of religion which are generally agreed upon by all denominations of Christians, and upon which the practical duties of religion rest. I am putting aside, for the present, the question of catechisms and formularies, which is quite a distinct matter, and which you may, if you please, very well consider the propriety of allowing to be used or not. I put that aside. I am not now contending for the teaching in these schools of catechisms and formularies. What I am contending against is the proscription and ostracism of all religion in the teaching of the school. You may depend upon it that no harm can possibly be done. The minister of any persuasion will take care of the child as far as he can; but, whether he does so or not, I am at a loss to see how it is possible for poor children of twelve or fourteen years of age to be injured by any knowledges of religion they may imbibe at school. They cannot be debarred from going to the Sunday school; and if the parents will do their duty they will learn much of practical religion, though perhaps not much dogmatical, divinity or the tenets that separate one denomination of Christianity from another. The children cannot be made controversial divines. It is idle to talk as if they could. I said just now that there was no fear of anything like a revival of the agitation which we remember against church rates if this Bill should pass. But there is a way in which agitation may be created, and it is a very simple one. Proscribe religious teaching, impose your secular dogmas, make it the law that there shall be no religious touching in schools, and depend upon it you will have agitation enough. There is not a man in the kingdom, attached to the principle of religious education who will not oppose your rate system and your 2048 compulsion, who will not resist your dogmas imposed against his will, who will not denounce your scheme of education, coming to him, as it does, in the form of compulsion, as odious and tyrannical. There was a part of my hon. and learned Friend's (Mr. Winterbotham's) speech which was very eloquent, but I do not think it was equally wise. It was that portion in which he referred to the relative attitude of the Church and the Nonconformist bodies. The Church, he said, has the advantage of being established; the Dissenters, as a body, feel themselves either actually or apparently at some social disadvantage in comparison with the Church; and some Churchmen have spoken of Dissent in strong terms of reprobation, coupling it with other evils to which I will not refer. I do not think it was worthy of my hon. and learned Friend, nor do I think it was conducive to the settlement of this great national question, to refer to those circumstances. Of the facts which he mentioned some are inevitable; but as far as they are not inevitable I am afraid they will not be mitigated by such a mode of reference to them, as he has adopted, speaking in this Assembly. They are inevitable to this extent—that they represent and arise out of real differences of religious opinion and real separations of religious communion among different bodies of Christians in this country. In some respects, probably, this separation may not be without its benefits, because each body is thereby stimulated to greater exertion, and a check is imposed upon abuses into which, in the absence of such competition, they might possibly fall. Nevertheless, all good Christians must regret the disunion which thus arises, whether it be the difference of belief, the disunion of feeling, or the impediment to what would otherwise be co-operation in good works. At the same time we must acknowledge the fact that such disunion does exist; and, while that is the case, neither one side nor the other will be the better for mincing matters, or for talking hypocritically as to the relations between them. And, therefore, if I read or hear that any Dissenter has spoken of the Church in a manner not in harmony with my feelings, I remember that he is a Dissenter; I give him credit for being a conscientious Dissenter, and though I may believe him to be mis- 2049 taken—perhaps in some matters painfully mistaken—I recognize that these are subjects upon which men may honestly differ. I see in his mode of expression merely the representation—painful sometimes, but in all cases honost—of his own actual attitude towards those from whom he differs. So long as on important subjects such differences exist—each man sincerely believing himself to be right—so long each must desire to influence those over whom he has influence, in accordance with what he believes to be the truth. But I beg to observe that if the Church were disestablished tomorrow—an end to which some of the observations of my hon. and learned Friend seemed to point—the same practical division of religious opinion would still exist. Churchmen, though no longer enjoying the same temporal advantages, would still hold exactly the same religious belief, would still be a great moral and numerical power in the State, and the difficulty of bringing about union between them and the Nonconformists would remain as great and as pressing as it ever had been. Surely, upon this subject of education one would have thought, for the reasons I have given, that it might be possible for men to come together upon these terms—that where there was a majority, that majority should have its preponderating influence; and where there was a minority, that minority should have its due and sufficient protection; the object being a great, a national, and a common object. I own I should have thought that this was a point on which, by the efforts of good men, some approach to union might have been made—not upon the terms of proscribing that which both sides hold most dear, lest by possibility the scale should incline a little more in one direction than the other—but upon the terms of making the most, of those points on which they all agree, of promoting that education of neglected children which is for the benefit of the whole nation, and possibly finding, in the long run, that there are a greater number of points on which they were agreed, than either of them had supposed. I own that it will be to me a matter of deep and sincere regret if the general influence of the Nonconformist body should be thrown into the scale, for the purpose of excluding from our schools the influence of that religion which, 2050 after all, they hold in common with ourselves, and which is dear to them as it is to us; and if, for the sake of an object so little in accordance with the best sentiments and feelings of their own hearts, they now, at a moment like the present, run the risk of rendering impossible this great work of national education.
§ MR. AUBERON HERBERT
said, that one advantage, at least, had been gained by the recent discussions throughout the country upon the subject of education, and that was that all persons, whatever their previous opinions, had become aware of the failure of the existing system of education, and that a very large gap had been left unfilled. ["No!"] If hon. Gentlemen who disputed the statement would examine the Reports of the Privy Council for 1868–9 they would find data to show that about 1,500,000 children had either been totally neglected or were so unsatisfactorily educated that their education could not be counted at all. But it was unnecessary to slay a slain enemy. The question was, how the system had failed, and what lesson was to be learnt from its failure. It had failed, in his opinion, because it addressed itself to one-half of the people, and only professed to be a partial system; and because the State had transferred to other hands responsibilities which it ought never to have parted with. This great country, with a revenue and expenditure of something like £70,000,000 a year, had chosen, for a paltry sum of £400,000 a year, to accept contributions from private persons, to enter into a sort of partnership with them, and to allow them to take out of its hands the greatest and most important duty which the State could discharge. It was thought by those who defended the system that the State used those people; but he, on the contrary, believed that they used the State. He ventured to put it to the House whether it would not have been simply impossible for this system to have lived a single day after the country had once become aware of its results, if it had not been for those most unfortunate vested interests which had grown up and prevented their forcing upon the State the discharge of its duty to those children who were uneducated. The lesson they ought to learn in future was this, that in creating a new educational system they should avoid the old evils. He had never been 2051 in favour of sweeping away the existing schools. He did not like the denominational system—he did not think that in any sense it had acted well for the nation, but he was perfectly content that the present denominational schools should go on in their present form. What he did ask was, that when at this moment of reconstruction they were going to build by the side of the old system, they should plant schools which would better express the principles that were in the minds of the people—schools that should be truly national, and should rise above all partiality and sectarianism. He now came to consider the Bill which the Government had placed upon the table. And let him, in the first instance, express his sincere thanks for some of the provisions of the Bill. It was with great pleasure that he recognized in the Bill the principle of the school Board, the principle of a rate, and the principle of compulsion. He must also say that the principle of free schools—though they came into the Bill with a sort of apology for their place there—having once been seen on the blue paper of the Government Bill would never be lost sight of again. The English nation in these matters never went backward; what they once gained that they gained for good. But he should be very sorry if they were not able to extend this principle to its proper and legitimate development—the only development by which it could work successfully. He now came to consider the other clauses of the Bill which had given so much offence to those silting on that side of the House—he meant the clauses that allowed a school Board to apply school rates to assist in creating denominational schools. He owned it was to him matter sometimes of amazement, sometimes of incredulity, and sometimes of despair to think of these clauses. He could not believe that it was the hand of the right hon. the Vice President of the Council which had traced these clauses. He was perfectly certain, after his right hon. Friend's declaration of last night, that if he wrote them he did not write them with his eyes looking across to the other side of the House. He rather thought that while his right hon. Friend slept some enemy came and did this—some enemy came and sowed these tares with the wheat; but he hoped his right hon. Friend would join them in trying to 2052 destroy them. What would be the effect of these clauses? What would, first of all, be their effect in the country districts? If they examined the state of the country districts, they would find that even at present the grant system worked very much in favour of the Established Church. They had only to look back at the Returns from 1839 to 1868 to see how much more the Church had profited by the educational grants than any—than all the other religious bodies put together. If they loooked back, they would find that the Church had drawn public money in that time, for educational grants something over £6,000,000, while other bodies had drawn something under £2,000,000. For buildings the Church had drawn about £1,200,000, while the denominations had drawn just over £200,000. And if they examined the Return for 1868 they would find that 87 per cent of the money granted for buildings went to the Church. "Now, if these things were done in the green tree, what would be done in the dry?" What would it be when they applied their rates to the large number of Church schools that were not now assisted by the Government, but which covered the country? The National Society informed them in their report that there were only 330 parishes in England to the inhabitants of which Church schools were not accessible. All these Church schools, therefore, were waiting to be fed by the rate they were going to give them. Let him say, in the most distinct manner, that there was not the smallest cause of quarrel with the Church for making the best use of this system. She had a distinct right to do so. But could they expect the country to look with favour and approval on a system which worked so much to the advantage of the Church? Could it be conceived that they would accept that state of things as readily as she did? Were they not guilty of tin just dealing in establishing and perpetuating a system which worked so much in her favour? For what was the position of affairs as between the Church and Dissent? The Church was powerful, wealthy, with fashion and almost all the land in the country on her side. On the other hand, Dissent was poor, unfashionable, with so little of the land of the country in its hands that often it could not even get enough on which to build a chapel or a school. Was it fair with so great a difference 2053 between the Church and Nonconformists to continue a system which worked so eminently to the advantage of the one and so much to the disadvantage of the other? How would these clauses work in the small towns? Religious results were perfectly uncertain; the only thing certain was strife, jealousy, and confusion. But when they came to consider the case of the large towns, he had very little doubt that, after a little time, they would work through various phases of unsectarianism to secular education; and he believed those hon. Members who at present were most opposed to secular education would most gratefully welcome it when they saw it at last established as the means of peace and co-operation. But he did ask why they were travelling by that road to such an end? If there was anything to be learnt by experience, it was that Government should not throw money down to be scrambled for—especially when it was to be applied to religious purposes. It was temptation enough for a sensible man when money came in his way; but when money was mixed up with religion it was enough to make men mad together. He knew that this proposal had been well received by the other side:—it reminded them of Church rates in other days. It was like a touch of the good old times coming back to them. He had heard both inside and outside the House a great many fears expressed about the consequences of secular education. They had also heard something of the growth of irreligion among the population, and they had even heard some expressions about "educated devils" and "intellectual apes." He regretted the use of such expressions. They were likely to call up among a certain portion of the people a feeling of resentment and bitterness. The working people did not consider that the monopoly of religion was in that House; they could not help seeing that the knowledge which they desired to have themselves was possessed by hon. Members who had used that knowledge for their own advantage, and they saw no reason why they themselves should not also possess it and use it for their advantage. He ventured to say that the effect of this over-anxiety to connect religion with education would call up the most unfortunate suspicions in the minds of the working men that there was some earthly 2054 motive which mingled with their anxiety for the spiritual welfare of the working classes—some idea that they would be made safer members of society—more likely to respect the rights of property, or privilege, or establishments—after they had been subjected to their formularies. In many foreign countries there was on the part of the working classes a fierce and intolerant spirit towards religion, which happily did not exist in this country, and he believed that that feeling on the Continent originated in this State interference. The people had this feeling—hon. Members might not value the instincts of the people very highly; but it had often happened in history, and he ventured to think that it might happen again, that the simplest instincts of the people were proved to be right—at present they had this instinct—that if left alone they would live peaceably together. They recollect the old bad religious laws by which they were almost driven to madness, and they desired that the State should keep back its hand and leave religion to broaden and work its own way among them. The people were not irreligious. They did not, perhaps, indulge in as great a number of formulas as many hon. Members did, but their hearts were open to the best and noblest appeals; there was no class to whom appeals in the name of all great principles could be made with a greater certainty of an answer. But nothing had fixed itself more deeply in his mind than this—that unless religion were founded upon equal and impartial dealing, and upon justice, the line between religion and irreligion would be very narrow. He could not help saying that he not only sympathized with the fear that had been expressed with regard to the possibility of their having to deal with an irreligious difficulty, but he himself shared in that fear. The sources from which that irreligion might spring, however, were, not, in his opinion, those to which allusion had been already made. It seemed to him that every unequal law which was put upon the statute book—every law which expressed intolerance—was a great irreligious lesson which penetrated deeply into the life of the nation, and which poisoned all religion worthy of the name. He ventured to re-echo the words of the hon. and learned Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham), and to ask. with him, for secu- 2055 lar schools, but he should be at the same time content, according to the plan put, forward by the League being adopted, to leave the school Boards to decide whether the Bible should be read in their schools or not at the commencement of the school hours. The proposal in the Bill to leave to the discretion of the school Boards the decision with respect to any particular religions teaching could not be justly compared with the proposal merely to give them power to decide whether or not the Scriptures should be read at the commencement of the school hours. He (Mr. Herbert) proposed to leave as little as possible to the discretion of the school Boards, whereas the Bill, on the contrary, proposed to allow them the widest possible discretion. The principle to be adopted in these matters was clear—namely, that only that which was common to all was to be taught in rate-supported and State schools. There were difficulties to be encountered in altogether excluding the use of the Bible from schools which would at once suggest themselves to the minds of all hon. Members. It was difficult to draw a line against any particular book; and he might state that although a labourer might be exposed to coercion that compelled him to send his children to a school where they received religious teaching, he would find no persons who would care to employ compulsion to make his children attend the reading the Bible in school. He would venture to say one word with reference to the Conscience Clause as the basis of a system of national education. The time was not long past when the Conscience Clause meant tolerance and concession. When it had that value it had been asked for and it had been refused; but now, when the time for it had gone past, and when the value of the clause had sunk in the estimation of the country, and when the country cared no longer for it, it was offered as the basis of the new system of national education. The Conscience Clause was in itself fallacious and illusory, for it was put forward as being the protection of the weak, whereas it was only the strong and independent man who could take advantage of it. In treating of the division of duties rendered necessary by the secular system he must complain of the false issue raised by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond 2056 (Sir Roundell Palmer), who had stated that the question for decision was whether it was desirable or not that a child should be taught religion. Distinctly and emphatically he (Mr. Herbert) declared that that was not the question at issue—the question was simply who was to teach the child religion—whether the various Churches or the State. In looking round the country, and putting aside for the moment the Church of England—with which he should deal in a moment—almost all the Churches had sufficient faith in themselves and sufficient independence and self-reliance; freely and gladly to undertake the work of teaching their children; but to that rule there was one great exception—namely, the case of the Church of England; and when he recollected what was her wealth and her power, and her manifold advantages compared with those of all other religious bodies in this country, he could not help thinking that the air of establishment had proved relaxing, and that she would gain greater vigour if she were to breathe the more bracing air of voluntary work. The question was, who was to teach—not whether the work was to be done or left undone. He had spoken to many hon. Members who had been in America, and who had gone through that country with their eyes open, and they agreed with him in believing the general temper of the people of that country was more religious than that of the people of this country. ["No!"] Well, perhaps that was a matter that could not be determined off-hand; but there was one fact that was unchallenged—that the development of the Sunday-school system in that country was extremely remarkable—it covered the whole country and reached the greater part of the population. There was no fear, therefore, when we asked our Churches to undertake the work of religious education, that they would shrink from the discharge of their duty. It was not merely for the sake of the Churches that he desired that the distribution of the labour should be clearly defined, but for the sake of the State also. There were two maxims which should be laid down if it were desired that work should be well performed, and those were—first, that the work must be done by people who had that single purpose before them; and, secondly, that it must be done by 2057 persons who had single responsibility. Hitherto the State had not had that single responsibility, and those who had laboured at the work had not had that single purpose in view. It must have struck many persons, in the history of this and of other countries, society had always been ready to repress and to punish crime even with savageness, while it had been careless of instructing its citizens as to what crime was. He held it to be one of the first duties of the State to teach its children what were their rights, what were the rights of others, and what were their duties as citizens. This was what the State never had done, but which it ought to do if it took upon itself the responsibility of administering punishment. When the necessity for this division of labour between the State and the Churches had been fully recognized it would be requisite to establish side by side with the old denominational, semi-charitable and semi-ecclesiastical schools, a new class of schools, upon which the nation might look with pride and affection. He believed that the heart of the nation was very much like the heart of the individual man—it required something to love and to admire. At this moment it seemed to him, as regarded the great mass of the people, that there was no part of our institutions which they could look upon as their own. He wished to see growing up in this country an institution which would be worthy of their affection. Feeling strongly that these now schools should be secular or strictly unsectarian it was impossible for him to vote against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Birmingham; but he had used expressions to his constituents on the first introduction of the measure, which, in his opinion, did not leave him free to vote against it. It was with regret he found himself in opposition to so great and important a measure of the Government. He came into the House to give that Government his heartiest support; but he felt he had a higher, allegiance than that which he desired to render to his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government—and that was allegiance to those principles upon which he believed the future happiness and well-being of this country must depend.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, after all I have heard in 2058 this debate, I profess myself unable at this moment to understand the reasons which have induced the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) to raise the question in the shape he has chosen. Generally, when such a Motion is made—and we all remember many instances of it—it is accepted as a mark of the most decided hostility to the measure at which it is aimed; but I cannot impute that motive to the hon. Member for Birmingham, who expresses at this moment the newly-awakened zeal of the nation on behalf of the question of education. I could understand the matter if the hon. Member had detected in that measure some one principle on which it is based and without which it could not exist, which appeared to him so wrong, so unjust, so deleterious, that he found it necessary to pick out that single principle for special reprobation. But the hon. Gentleman himself and I shall be agreed on this, that the principle which he has selected out of the many contained in the Bill is, as compared with the main scope of the measure, rather one of the minor principles. The Bill is spread over a vast space, and embraces a great portion of the subject of education. It contains a great number of principles, which may be affirmed and acted upon quite independently of the single principle with respect to which the hon. Gentleman has raised this issue. Therefore, it is a great pity that our debate on this most interesting subject, on these provisions of so wide and comprehensive a character, should have been, for no good reason that I have been able to divine, limited to the more outside or fringe of the question. Now, Sir, look at the importance of the points upon which I do not think I exaggerate when I say we are almost all of us, on both sides of the House, agreed in principle, and yet we are not permitted to go into them because of a difference upon one single point. This measure, in the first place, does away with denominational inspection, and by that means greatly increases the force at the command of the Government for the purpose of investigating the character of schools, and seeing whether they deserve support. This would be a great economy in point of money, and what is more important I have no doubt would give a larger choice and opportunity of getting more efficient services than we obtain 2059 now. That is a very great point; but that is nothing compared with what follows. At present we really have no public education at all. Our public education, or what is called public education, is merely the humble and ancillary task, which the Government accepts, of following private benevolence and societies which interest themselves to educate the people. Instead, them, of leading boldly, we follow timidly. It is plain that we are not allowed to give our money where it would be most needful; we are not allowed to look at national education as a national question; we are not allowed to look at the wants of one part of the country and to balance them against another. All we can do was to find out who wanted grants. Well, this measure will completely sweep away such a state of things; or, rather, it does better than sweep away, because it shows that tenderness, fairness, and consideration which I, for one, contend is entirely duo to those who, out of their own funds and private liberality, have founded the system of education which the country already possesses. No person could have been a more consistent opponent of the voluntary system than I have been; but I can render justice to those persons who, at great sacrifices, have raised many millions for the purpose of educating their fellow-subjects and have taken upon themselves the duty which I have always thought was incumbent upon the Government. I rejoice that this measure is framed in the spirit of justice, fairness, and gratitude towards such persons; and that instead of committing the unpardonable rashness of sweeping away the present state of things, this Bill accepts all that has been done hitherto, and steps in to supplement the present system and make good its shortcomings. Not only is the measure calculated to be it saving of expense to the public, but it must be deemed wise and prudent; because the present system of education, defective as it is, has been matured by long, careful, and incessant labour, and it would be the wildest rashness if, for the sake of any theoretical perfection or any imaginary necessity for at once emancipating education from the denominational system, we rashly in a few hours destroyed that which it has taken some four-and-twenty years to bring to its present perfection. These are no small merits in 2060 this Bill, and there is a still greater merit in it. The Government is now permitted to look at education as it is—a really national affair; to divide the country into districts, after inquiring into the state of education in every district; to offer facilities to residents in districts to supply their educational wants; and if these educational wants are not supplied, to supplement them by compulsory measures as a last resort. These are the merits of the present Bill, and I am not surprised that all these things have met with so much support on both sides of the House. The Bill is founded not on any abstract dogma, not on any theory which we are anxious to cram down people's throats as to what will be the best system of national education, but it is based on English good sense; it appreciates what exists already, and tries to supplement and to improve instead of to destroy. Well, then, is it not lamentable, is it not melancholy, that when there is so much in the Bill we all agree to; when so much has been got over in this matter; when hon. Gentlemen who complain most of this measure have almost unanimously, as far as I can gather, given in their assent to the continuance of the schools already in existence on the same conditions as heretofore—is it not, I say, most melancholy that we should have passed aside all this, by far the larger part of the measure in which we all agree, and that we should have been, under the leadership of the hon. Member for Birmingham, forced to concentrate; our attention entirely on the very narrow point which he has raised? Is it not a pitiable sight? It reminds me of a fine herd of cattle in a large meadow deserting the grass which is abundant about them, and delighting themselves by fighting over a bed of nettles in one corner of the field. Our agreement goes yet further. I do not apprehend any real difference of opinion amongst us on the point that when the voluntary system fails there is nothing left for us but to eke it out by rates. We go as far as that, and we are agreed also that the rating of schools founded by rates shall be connected with the Government, just in the same way as voluntary denominational schools now exist; that they shall be inspected in the same manner, and receive grants upon the same principle. But now comes the 2061 question. Of course, with any voluntary schools, where the money is collected by private individuals and found on the express ground that they wish to promote secular or religious teaching, we cannot pretend to interfere. As long as we take this money for this quasi public purpose it would be unreasonable to dictate The nature of the teaching to be given in schools these volunteers had founded; it would be more than unreasonable, it would be absurd; because, although you may put pressure on Government institutions, a voluntary institution will submit to only a certain amount of pressure. The only effect of going beyond that would be to make the subscribers retire from a task which proved so very hateful, and the institution would disappear altogether. Therefore, I think we have done wisely to content ourselves with two points, to assist the managers of voluntary schools on condition only that they should submit to undenominational inspection, and that they should submit in all cases to a Conscience Clause. I think we may fairly ask so much. I must confess, although I have not shown too great a leaning to the denominational system, I should nevertheless feel great regret if the House should interfere any further with private liberty in this matter. I should be very sorry to see the proposition carried out to forbid them to choose catechisms or formularies in the schools. These schools have not been prompted in many cases so much from a desire to instruct the people in general topics as from religious zeal. Now, Sir, we come to another point, and I have kept from it as long as I could. As I understand it, the chief objection is that the Bill of the Government has been so framed that where it is found necessary to call into existence a school supported by rates, the body which is appointed to administer the affairs of the school will be allowed to decide what the religious education given in the school shall be. More than that, the administrative body will have the largest powers conferred upon it. It may adopt the denominational system, the secular system, the unsectarian system, or any modification of these systems. Sir, the whole head and front of our offending in this Bill is that and no more. Now, I do not care to deny, in the least, that there are arguments, and arguments of force, 2062 which can be adduced against the measure. It is said—and, indeed, it is impossible to deny—that if you give that power to the administrative body you must expect to see, as a result, that which attends on such a power—namely, considerable heat and contention as regards the kind of religious instruction to be imparted. There cannot be a doubt that that will be the result. But it is quite certain, likewise, that if a majority exercises power in any way the minority will be dissatisfied. This is a thing which is inseparable from free institutions. Indeed, we who are so much wiser than borough councils, vestries, and assemblies of that kind, cannot carry on the business of this House without considerable heat sometimes, and, after a division, the minority does not always go away quite as contented as the majority. This, as I said before, is a result which is inseparable from freedom, and the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dixon), therefore, finds fault with the freedom proposed to be given to these school Boards. I do not complain of that, for I am even willing to admit that there is much to be said against such a system. I should, however, like anybody to say what system human ingenuity can devise for the solution of this knotty educational problem against which there is not much to be said. After what has been said in the course of this debate nobody will maintain that the secular system is not open to objections. Mind, I am not arguing the respective merits of these various systems, but am merely endeavouring to show the impossibility of finding any system against which the most enormous objections may not be raised. For example, there is another system which is free from a good many difficulties—the system of separate religious and secular instruction; but we all know very well that many objections have been urged against it, and that it has given rise to fierce contentions ever since the national system was founded in Ireland. Another system which finds great favour with some hon. Gentlemen, and is also entitled to the consideration of this House, is what is called unsectarian education. But I can well imagine the strongest arguments being adduced against that. Persons may say—"You try to distinguish between dogma and precept, but, after all, what is dogma and what is precept?" Such an objector may say—"I can under- 2063 stand a total abstention from religious teaching, and I can also understand the teaching of the full doctrines of religion, but I cannot understand why a middle course should be adopted. Why you should put the Bible in children's hands and yet abstain from teaching your own tenets is a thing I cannot understand, because under the pretence of making a selection from those parts of Christianity on which Christians nearly all agree you are in fact making a new religion, or kind of deism, which is different from the belief of any sect." Thus he might go on, and I am sure that no scheme has been, or will be, devised in reference to education against which interminable objections cannot be raised. And therefore it is that we ask the House to allow the Bill to be read a second time, in order that we may get over obstacles which present themselves in Committee. We have, I think, reason to complain that the House did not give us credit for more sense than they have done. The House seems to suppose that Her Majesty's Government, having devised this scheme for leaving the religious question to the decision of local Boards—a plan which, at all event, will relieve this House from a great deal of trouble—had nailed their colours to the mast with respect to the most difficult and the most intricate subject in the world—a subject which is rendered a thousand times more difficult to deal with in consequence of the many different points of view from which it is regarded. Some hon. Members appear to imagine that we were so presumptuous as to think that we could lay down exactly what ought to be done, and that no pressure, or reason, or argument from any person, of however great authority in the matter, could influence us in the least, or prevent us, to use an American expression, from "putting our foot down," and insisting on the scheme being adopted in its entirety. Now, I venture to say, on behalf of the Government, that nothing can be further from the fact than such a representation. Most of us, I am sorry to remark, are not quite so young as we have been. We have seen a good many ups and downs in the world, we have experienced many failures and reverses, and we ought to know perfectly well that it is not by displaying a spirit of narrow dogmatism or by persistency in opinions we have once taken up, that this great, this intricate, and 2064 this difficult question is to be settled. Therefore, I say that we have not nailed our colours to the mast in the sense indicated. We have, no doubt, raised a question that may fairly give rise to difference of opinion. That question is before the House for their consideration; but nothing can be farther from the wishes of the Government than that we should be understood as throwing the least obstacle in the way of discussing it in the freest and fullest possible manner, and even of amending it in any way the House may think proper; for, instead of the Government clinging with dogged pertinacity to a particular view, there is not one of us who will not rejoice if any hon. Gentleman should point out a better way of promoting peace and concord, and of carrying out the object which we all have so much at heart. I hope we shall hear no more of any idea being entertained that the Government have nailed their colours to the mast that, as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham) says, no concession will be made, and that we are determined to abide by the Bill to the bitter end. There is no such intention on the part of the Government. Everybody who knows anything whatever about such subjects must be aware that there is nothing in the world so difficult as to provide religious instruction for children which shall meet with a general and ready acceptance. There are so many different opinions on the matter that it is not easy to get anything which shall afford the means of a common settlement. But, Sir, that has been our desire. We have felt that every religious denomination should be consulted in this matter, and that, if possible, the question should be settled upon such a basis that no one sect would have it in its power to go away and say it had gained a victory over its neighbour, or that one denomination could boast of having been placed above the other. That being the case, the only question remaining was, as to how this great end was to be reached. We have suggested one way, and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) has suggested another. What, then, can be fairer than that we should go into Committee and argue out the question as to who is right, and which is the best plan? The hon. Member for Bradford—not the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill—said he thought a 2065 dozen Gentlemen assembled in a Committee-room upstairs could easily settle the matter. I was glad to hear the hon. Gentleman say so, for, knowing his influence and ability, I am sure there is no prophet whose prediction is more likely to be verified. The hon. Gentleman, however, went on to express his belief that the matter could be settled in Committee of this House. If so, why do we not read the Bill a second time and then go into Committee, instead of first going into Committee in order that we may read the Bill a second time? The House will believe that I could well detain them longer on a subject which has occupied so much attention; but at this late hour I will not do so. I will only make this remark, that nothing ran be more admirable than the generosity and benevolence of mankind. We find that men are ready to sacrifice their time, their money, their health, their case, their most favourite occupations and pursuits, for the purpose of benefiting their neighbours. But the melancholy part of the matter is this—although men will do all this and think nothing too much to expend upon the cause they support, yet, when you come to some little matter which has crystallized itself around their minds and has become a fixed dogma or theory, they will give up all that they have sacrificed their lives to attain rather than allow it to be approached or meddled with. Do not let us act in that manner. We do not sit in this House to discuss religious questions, nor to inflame sectarian differences, but to endeavour to meet a pressing want of the people of England. This Bill for the first time—I have long watched for it, and now I see it I am glad—recognizes the undoubted duty of the Government of England to provide for the education of the people. This is a great and noble object, that might stir any man's heart within him and raise him above any smaller considerations which are apt to interfere with the performance of the noblest acts. Do not let us be turned aside from that object by small difficulties and jealousies, which, if we will only meet each other in a spirit of consideration, I am perfectly satisfied will disappear.
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT moved the adjournment of the debate.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
asked to what day the right hon. Gentleman pro- 2066 posed to adjourn the debate. [Cries of "Go on!"]
The sentiment of the House is in favour of continuing it now; but when the Motion for adjournment is finally put, I would express a hope that the debate may be continued on Friday. It cannot be closed tonight; but I think, from the state of the business on Friday, it could be resumed on that evening.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he had abstained from making remarks on the Bill, because he was unwilling to occupy the time of the House in order to play into the hands of the section of the House who were meeting the Bill by a course which, if not irregular, was certainly unusual. He was glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman intended to resume the debate on Friday evening; but he wished to mention that the first Notice on the Paper for that evening was that given by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the county of Longford (Mr. O'Reilly), respecting the dismissal of Colonel Boxer. In connection with that matter imputations had been cast upon him (Sir John Pakington) which, if well founded, would have rendered him unfit to hold Office under the Crown, and therefore he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would allow for his anxiety to have an opportunity for vindicating his character. He need not assure the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government that he was most anxious the present debate should be concluded; but in event of the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Longford being postponed in consequence of the resumption of the debate on Friday, he trusted an early day would be given for proceeding with that Motion.
§ MR. O'REILLY
said, it was due to the right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) that this Motion should be brought on as soon as possible; for though he was prepared to postpone it to avoid interrupting the debate, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury would allow it to be brought on within a reasonable time.
replied, that he sympathized with the feelings of the right hon. Baronet, and he would communicate with the hon. and gallant Member behind him (Mr. O'Reilly) with the view of appointing an early day for 2067 the Motion. It was understood that in arranging for the resumption of this debate, with, the aid of hon. Gentlemen who had Motions on the Paper, there was an expectation that the debate would terminate on Friday.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER,
who also had a Notice of Motion on the Paper for Friday, trusted the right hon. Gentleman would see that he did not suffer by giving way for the continuance of the debate on that day.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he did not understand why the debate should be brought to a close on Friday. Considering how great was the importance of the subject, the right hon. Gentleman might, even at this early period of the Session, appoint a Morning Sitting for its discussion.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, he thought it only fair to say, as the Prime Minister seemed to assume that the debate would conclude on Friday, that he could be no party to such an understanding. The debate on the second reading of the Irish Land Bill had lasted four nights, and the unusual course had been adopted with regard to the Education Bill of moving the second reading of so important a measure late on the evening previous, at the end of a discussion on a local Irish grievance. Now, he and his hon. Friends near him felt it to be their duty to discuss, not only the Amendment which had been proposed by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon), but also several portions of the Bill itself; and while he was anxious to do justice to Ireland, he was not prepared to do injustice to England.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he was desirous of aiding the Government in passing the second reading of the Bill, it having been intimated on the part of the Government that ample opportunity of discussing its provisions would be afforded on the Motion for going into Committee. It seemed to him, however, that there were some hon. Gentlemen, and among them the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), who were not very anxious for the passing of this Bill. 2068 The fact was, that what they wanted, as had been stated by an hon. Gentleman opposite, was delay, and when they imagined that nobody was surrendering anything but themselves, they ought to bear in mind that there were many on the Conservative side of the House who were prepared to give up cherished feelings, which they had long entertained, in their sincere wish to settle the great and important question which was dealt with by the Bill.
§ MR. MORRISON
said, he did not think it was fair to contend that the discussion raised by the Amendment was calculated to retard the progress of the Bill, inasmuch as it would enable the Government to ascertain more fully the feeling of the House and the country on the subject, and pave the way for dealing with questions of detail in Committee. He concurred, he might add, with his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), in disclaiming any pledge or compact that the debate should terminate on Friday. He must remind the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, too, that the longest speech which had been delivered that evening had come from his side of the House—the speech of the noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu).
§ Debate further adjourned till Friday.