HC Deb 03 May 1870 vol 201 cc176-93

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [5th April], That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her to be pleased to order that in the five Statutes for determining and establishing the constitution of the new governing bodies of Shrewsbury, Winchester, Harrow, Charterhouse, and Rugby Schools, the words requiring membership of the Church of England as a qualification in the case of persons elected or nominated members of the governing bodies may be omitted."—(Mr. Thomas Hughes.)

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.


said, that he should be obliged if the House would allow him, as one of the Commissioners appointed under this Act of Parliament, to state shortly the views entertained by himself and several others of the Commissioners as to the duties that the Bill cast upon them, and the reasons for the course that they took in opposing this provision in the statutes of the schools. The Public Schools Act was passed in 1868, and under it an Executive Commission was appointed by Parliament to carry it into effect. It would be seen that by the Act those who had to carry it into effect had no choice but to proceed in the way in which they had proceeded, and that this provision was one that, under the circumstances, it was not open to them to depart from. He regretted that the discussion had been raised, because, after all, the provision would have very little effect, except in one or two instances, and in those few instances would affect to but a limited extent the constitution of the Governing Bodies. The provision, too, did not in any way touch the management or go- vernment of the schools themselves, but provided solely that every member of the Governing Bodies of the schools to which it referred should be members of the Church of England. Now, inasmuch as the constituent bodies by whom the members were nominated or elected were themselves exclusively or to, at all events, a very large extent composed of members of the Church of England, it was evident that only in very rare and exceptional cases it could happen that this question would arise at all. The two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, in some cases the Fellows of Colleges, and in others persons always practically members of the Church of England, were the people who had to send the various elements of which these Governing Bodies were composed, and it was only when the University of London was made a constituent body and in some other partial and exceptional case that the question could arise, though he was willing to admit that here and there it would have the effect of excluding some one whom it might be desirable to see on the Governing Body. He did not believe that the presence of one or two members on the Governing Bodies not belonging to the Church of England would have much practical effect; but there could be no doubt that this provision tended to make the Governing Bodies more exclusively Church of England than they otherwise would be. It was important that the House should understand the law under which the Public School Commissioners found themselves acting in this case; and it should also be borne in mind that there were seven public schools, of which two—Eton and Westminster—formed their own statutes; these were approved by the Executive Commission of which he had the honour of being a member; the same statutes passed that House without objection; and it was only in regard to the remaining five schools the present question arose. By the statute, a provision of which it was now proposed to repeal, it appeared that an Inquiry Commission in 1861 made a Report recommending various changes in the government, management, and studies connected with the schools named, with a view to promote efficiently the main objects of the founder. Unless there was very good reason for departing from either the spirit or letter of the recom- mendations of those Commissioners, it would be proper to proceed in the spirit and letter of the Act itself, and to do those things which, upon the fairest and most candid consideration of the provision of the Act, might appear to be right. Those with whom he acted knew well what his individual convictions were upon this subject; but, whatever might be his personal opinions or the convictions of the Commissioners individually, having accepted office they were bound in honour and candour to carry into effect the Act of Parliament to the best of their judgment irrespective of those convictions. In the Act there was a provision showing that the Governing Bodies would have to deal with ecclesiastical patronage. Then, in another part of the Act, the Governing Bodies had to make certain regulations respecting the attendance at divine service; and where the school had a chapel of its own, regulations had to be made as to chapel services and the appointment of preachers. This indicated strongly that the schools were Church of England schools. Regulations had also to be made which should give facilities for the education of boys whose parents or guardians desired to withdraw them from the religious instruction afforded in the schools; and to meet this, a distinct order in the Act directed the Governing Body of each school, or the Commissioners in the absence of that body, to insert in any statutes that might be framed for the government of the school a Conscience Clause. Again, this enactment directly indicated the mind of Parliament that these schools were to be maintained on their original footing of Church of England schools, but giving liberty to persons other than members of the Church to send their children to the school, and respecting their religious views. By the 31st clause of the Act he found that the chapel attached to every school should be doomed to be a chapel allowed by the ecclesiastical law of this land for the purpose of public worship, and for the administration of sacraments according to the Liturgy of the Church of England, and free from the control and jurisdiction of the incumbent of the parish in which the chapel might be situate. It must be remembered that all those seven schools had been, up to the time of the passing of the Act, distinguished as Church of England schools. The Com- missioners then being in the position to make arrangements for the studies and management of the institutions, found them to be Church of England institutions exclusively. There was not a word from the beginning to the end of the Act authorizing the Commissioners to alter their character, and therefore they deemed it their duty to proceed in the spirit of the law, and, until Parliament should alter the law, to maintain the character of those institutions which they found to exist. The Commission consisted of a number of gentlemen, some of whom certainly would not have accepted the office which they undertook, and could not have been asked by the Government to do so, if the object had not been to continue the character which at that time was impressed on the schools. The Chairman was the Archbishop of York. Lord Salisbury was a member of the Commission, and so were the hon. Members for Southampton, Maidstone, and Perth, Sir John Shaw Lefevre, and himself. He would put it to the House whether it was likely that either the Archbishop of York or his noble Friend Lord Salisbury would have been asked by the late Lord Derby to take part in operations to be carried out under this Act unless the general purport of it had been such as he had described? That being the state of the case, and such the provisions of the Act of Parliament, it was the duty of the Commissioners, of whom he was one, to ascertain what the Commission of 1861 had recommended with respect to the seven schools which were confided to their care. With respect to Winchester, which was one of the five schools comprehended in the proposed Address, the Commission of 1861 recommended that the Governing Body should consist of a warden and 11 fellows, who should be all members of the Established Church. The Commission of which he was a member had only endeavoured to carry that recommendation into effect. With respect to Rugby, the existing Governing Body consisted of 12 trustees, who had in fact legislative powers almost unlimited for the government of the school; and the trusts were not subject to any religious disqualification, either by the will of the founder or the Act of George III., being the fundamental law of the school. They had, however, before them a letter from the clerk to the trustees, stating that the practice had always been to appoint persons who were members of the Church of England, and no instance had occurred from the time of the founder up to the present time of the appointment of any one who was not a member of the Church of England. They found that the chapel of Rugby School was by Parliamentary enactment to be a chapel of the Church of England, and, under these circumstances, the Commissioners thought it their duty to place the provision which they had done on the statute. He did not wish to take a party course in this matter, and it was for the House to say whether the Commissioners had done rightly or not. They did not set up to be wiser than the rest of mankind; but it was only right that the House should understand the materials on which the judgment of the Commissioners was founded, and the principles by which they felt themselves bound. In regard to Shrewsbury the trustees were 12 besides the mayor, and by the Act of 1798 it was declared that they should be all members of the Church of England except the mayor. The Inquiry Commission recommended that the Governing Body should be subject to the same qualification—namely, members of the Church of England. In regard to the Charterhouse, the Governing Body was 16 in number, and was regulated by the statute of 1627. The governors were bound to take the oath of supremacy, but were not subject to any other religious disqualification. The Inquiry Commission recommended that one-fourth should be chosen for their eminence in literature and science, but made no specific mention of any religious disqualification. But finding no indication whatever in the statutes or practice that that exclusive character should be changed, it appeared to the Commission that it was their duty to maintain that restriction for the future. In respect to Harrow, the Governing Body was six keepers and governors; but though there was nothing in the statutes requiring them to be of the Church of England, the Inquiry Commission found that it had been the invariable practice to appoint only such. The Commission of 1864 recommended that the Governing Body should be 12 in number, and that they should be all members of the Church of England. The Commissioners of 1861 recommended that the Governing Bodies of Winchester and Shrewsbury should be members of the Church of England; but with regard to Rugby and the Charterhouse they made no such specific recommendation. They, however, found that the practice was that the Governing Bodies were of the Church of England, and that they were Church of England schools—they had chapels which were, by Act of Parliament, to be chapels consecrated for the celebration of the services of that Church, and the Commission felt they were bound in all those cases to put in, or see that the Governing Bodies put in, a Conscience Clause, which would have been unmeaning unless there was a definite system of religious teaching to which that clause might attach, and the enactment of such a clause was conclusive that that teaching was to be maintained. But there were two other schools. One of them was Eton, with regard to which the recommendation had been that the Governing Body should remain the Provost and Fellows, who must of necessity be in Holy Orders, and therefore members of the Church of England; the other was Westminster, almost essentially a cathedral school, and which, being attached to the Abbey, had acquired a celebrity in the country to which no other cathedral school approached. In its origin it was the creation of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, and it had impressed on it from the earliest times a distinctive Church of England character. The character of those two schools must not be left out of sight; neither must it be forgotten that their Governing Bodies had themselves made their statutes, and had insisted on putting into them the provision now complained of; while, moreover, that House had sanctioned those statutes in that shape without any objection; and all the arguments that would apply to the remaining five schools would undoubtedly apply to Eton and Westminster. Those were the circumstances under which they proceeded to act; and, in the result, they thought it their duty to place that restriction in the statutes affecting the Governing Bodies of five of I those schools. He regretted the question had been raised, because he thought it was a bad thing for the Church of England that matters which, in his opinion, were prejudicial and exceedingly unimportant if they were to be given against the Church of England, should be given as it were after a vote of victory, or as something extorted from the Church. The question having been raised before the Commission, they thought it their duty to decide the question, and it would be a strong step on the part of the Crown and the House, if, without any change in the law, the Government of the country proceeded to decide that which had been left by the statute an open question. It might be said that since the Public Schools Act the Endowed Schools Act had been passed, and that they ought to read the former Act by the latter. He would not give a legal opinion on the point; it was no part of his duty to do so. He was not prepared to say that, according to the construction of that Act, it would be an illegal thing to have framed the provision differently, nor that the passing of the Endowed Schools Act might not be a good reason for altering the law as to the public schools left out of that Act; but he did say that, in construing the Act under which they were created to deal with the government, discipline, and management of public schools in 1868, it would be contrary to his notions of law to bring into the construction of that Act an Act passed afterwards, which could have nothing whatever to do with the construction of the Act under which they were acting, and to which alone they were to look for the guiding principles of their conduct in the execution of their functions. Having stated to the House the grounds on which they had arrived at their conclusion, he most un-feignedly said he left it to the House to consider what it might be right to do in the matter, only trusting that if the House should conceive that they had been wrong, it would allow that the reasons on which they had acted as they had done were at least entitled to a good deal of weight and consideration.


said, he was anxious immediately to follow his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General, inasmuch as it should be clearly understood that his hon. and learned Friend had spoken as a Commissioner under the Public Schools Act, and not as a member of the Government. All who had heard him must admit that there were strong and stringent reasons why the view that he had stated should have been taken by the Commissioners. At the same time, his hon. and learned Friend fairly ad- mitted that there was nothing in the Act itself which would have prevented the Commissioners from adopting the view set forth in the Motion of the hon. Member for Frome (Mr. Hughes). His hon. and learned Friend had given several reasons why, in his opinion, the distinctive character of the Church of England was so impressed on those schools that, although in every instance the Royal Commission on Public Schools had not suggested that the Governing Body should be members of that Church, yet, in the opinion of the Commissioners, it was impossible to arrive at any other conclusion. Upon that let him say that this question as to the constitution of the schools, in respect of the religious character of the Governing Bodies, was not entered into at all in the Report of the Public School Commissioners, while it was fully discussed in the Report of Endowed School Commissioners; and that in the discussions, extending over more than one Session in that House, on the Bill introduced for giving effect to the Report of those Commissioners, that subject was never discussed. When, however, the larger question as to schools of an identical character with the public schools was discussed, upon the introduction of the Endowed Schools Bill, the matter was maturely considered by Parliament, when the Bill was referred to a Select Committee, which came unanimously to the opinion that a distinction ought to be drawn with respect to endowed schools, and that where the denominational character of those schools was clearly impressed on them their denominational character should be retained, and that where it was not so impressed no restriction whatever should be placed on the Governing Bodies in regard to their religious opinions. He thought his hon. and learned Friend would agree with him when he said there would be nothing illegal nor extra vires in the House or in the Commission acting, if it thought proper to do so, in the spirit of the Endowed Schools Bill, which he took to be the latest and fullest expression of the opinion of Parliament on this subject. The Government were, therefore, of opinion that it was unnecessary and would be inconvenient to have two different systems of dealing with schools which were admitted to be identical in character, and, therefore, it was their intention to support the Address brought forward by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Frome. The statutes would, if that Motion were adopted, be considered by the Queen in Council with the knowledge of this Address of the House of Commons, and it was possible that the statutes would be referred back to the Commissioners for revision. It was hardly necessary to speak of the advantages of such a principle as that laid down by the Endowed Schools Bill. It was one which he thought must recommend itself to Parliament as it did last Session, because if it were adopted no restrictions would be imposed, except in cases where the denominational character of the school was clearly marked, in respect of the religious opinions of the Governing Body, which would be selected for their personal character and general fitness. His hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General admitted that there was nothing in the original statutes which would have prevented the late Mr. Faraday from being appointed a governor of Harrow or Rugby. Why should any restriction now be imposed which would in future prevent the selection of such a man? At the Charterhouse the practice had been in accordance with the statutes, and Lord Dal-housie, who was a member of the Free Church of Scotland, was one of the Governing Body of that school. For the reasons he had shortly stated, he thought the Government were adopting the wisest course in supporting the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Frome.


said, he thought the Government were adopting a strong course in supporting the Motion. They were carrying out to much greater lengths the principle laid down by the Endowed Schools Act of 1869. In that Act the five schools now threatened were not recognized; but it was equally true that the Act did recognize the denominational character of schools which they dealt with in a much more scrupulous manner than this Motion proposed to deal with these five great schools. The question now was, whether the House should call on the Crown to reverse the provisions of a statute drawn by Commissioners, in pursuance of power given them by Parliament, upon a point on which those Commissioners say they felt absolutely bound in conscience. In his speech introducing the Motion, the hon. and learned Member for Frome (Mr. Hughes) gave as his first reason for it, that a feeling of jealousy and distrust existed on the part of the Nonconformists of this country towards the Church, which could be removed only by the Church resigning all exclusive claims to property however specifically given to her. It appeared to him that was a strong proposition. If there had been once intolerance on the side of the Church, he must say that it had now moved over to the side of those religious bodies which specially prided themselves on their liberality. It was not alleged that the Governing Bodies of these schools had misconducted themselves, or that there was any reformation required in their mode of government. Nor had it been shown that the Church was not able to continue to supply governors. Neither had it been shown that an infusion of Dissenters was in any way likely to make a better Governing Body. The hon. and learned Member was himself a proof that Rugby, of which he was one of the most creditable productions, although it was expressly founded as a Church school, did not produce exclusively Church scholars. The second argument for the Motion was, that if Parliament did not enforce in these public schools the principle laid clown in the Endowed Schools Act of last Session it would stultify itself. Undoubtedly, that Act had enlarged the licence adopted with respect to foundations. Formerly, if by inference a school appeared to be of any particular denomination, Parliament recognized its denominational character. Afterwards Parliament required that such intention must be expressed in order to be recognized. The Act of last Session enforced a Conscience Clause; but if there was positive proof of the intention of the founder that the school should be exclusively denominational, such as its connection with collegiate or cathedral institutions, or being bound to teach particular formularies, that Act recognized such intention. He maintained that this was the case with respect to Rugby. It was a condition in the founder's will that the master should be a Churchman, besides which a special Act that regulated Rugby School further required that the children should be taught the formularies of the Church of England; another Rugby Act pro- vided for a chapel, chaplain, organist, and other Church requirements; he therefore contended that Rugby was distinctly a Church foundation. The principle of the Endowed Schools Act, that wherever there was an express intention that children should be taught the formularies of any faith, Parliament should recognize an exclusive foundation proved, upon his own showing, the Home Secretary was not justified in committing the Government to take that step which the Solicitor General, as one of the Commissioners who drew the statute they were now asked to alter, thought was a violation of the very principles they were called upon to embody in the statute. The other Act regulating Rugby which provided for a chapel, a chaplain, and other Church requirements made the intention still more distinct, if it had not already been made clear that the founder left his property for the special purpose of maintaining a fixed religious standard in the education of the country. If the Government so interfered by un-Churching the Governing Body of so expressly Church an endowment as Rugby no property nor trust could be safe. The proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Frome was simply that the House should suggest to the Queen a direct violation of the Rugby founder's will, yet that proposition was eagerly and precipitately welcomed by the Government. He recollected that when certain Minutes of Council on Education were under discussion, which treated endowments as public property, so strongly did it shake the faith of men in the safety of endowments that the present Lord Chancellor tore up a deed which he was preparing for a school foundation. He asked the House to consider whether asking the Queen to veto the safeguards which special Commissioners had felt conscientiously bound to introduce into a statute relating to express trusts would not prevent the making of any endowments whatever in the future, and whether testators would not feel that whatever the subject of their wills, or the solemnity of their injunctions, some future Member for Frome might quote the argument of the Home Secretary to treat them with contempt. This Motion avowedly arose from jealousy and distrust of the Church on the part of Nonconformists, who did not like any fixed standard of religion, and thought it better that schools should be thrown open to teach any or no religion, while they shut their eyes to the danger of violating the most sacred devotion of property in the contrary view, for the maintenance of a standard of faith. Another argument was, that public schools were public property, that being the line taken also by those who proposed to throw open other large religious foundations. Such was the ground on which it was sought to abolish religious tests at the Universities. But even if that doctrine could anywhere be maintained it did not apply to Rugby, which was as distinctly a provincial, as it was a Church foundation. On all these grounds the proposition to un-Church the government of five out of seven of our principal public schools, as regarded Rugby was a violent one, and he was astonished that the Home Secretary should, when a mere adjournment of debate was moved on a former occasion, have gone out of his way to precipitate an Official assurance that he would support the Motion, committing the Government, without having heard any discussion, in support of a proposition which it now appeared even their own Law Officer had shrunk from in the Commission for drafting the now threatened statute. For these reasons he opposed the Motion.


said, he wished to correct a misapprehension on the part of his right hon. Friend (Sir Charles Adderley) with regard to the Endowed Schools Act, which expressly limited the making of the instrument of foundation to the lifetime of the founder, or to within 50 years after his death, as otherwise the school could not be considered denominational. The original requirement as to Rugby School was, that the master should be a Master of Arts, and he (Mr. Forster) should be very much surprised if that could be interpreted to be an express direction as to the education of the children.


explained that he did not mean to convey that notion. He relied on the Act of George III., which provided that the children should be taught the formularies of the Church of England.


said, that when the Endowed Schools Act was passed, it was clearly understood that an Act obtained so long after a testator's death as that which had been mentioned was not to be considered as one which ought to make a school denominational. He was convinced that the schools which they were considering when they framed the Act, and as to which they decided almost unanimously that they should not have a denominational character, and there should be no restriction on the Governing Body, were schools entirely similar to Rugby, Charterhouse, and Harrow. That being so, the House would see there would be great inconvenience in having one rule for one sort of public schools and one for another. He did not find fault with the Public Schools Commissioners; he thought if he had been appointed to interpret the Act, he might very possibly have taken the view of the hon. and learned Gentleman by his side; but the matter had excited public attention, and no one could doubt that if the Public Schools Act had been passed in 1868, and these schools had been left in the same position as other schools, they would have come under the Act in the same way, and we should have found the schools in question would not have had these restrictions attached to them. His right hon. Friend opposite had been scarcely fair to the hon. Member who moved this Motion. It was not an attempt on the part of the Nonconformists to get possession of the schools; but it had been forced on the House by the actual circumstances of the restrictions, which involved a practical inconvenience that had been pointed out with reference to the University of London. They were, therefore, forced to consider whether they should get rid of this exceptional restriction with regard to these schools; and considering the discussion that took place upstairs on the framing of the Endowed Schools Act, the strong expressions used about the will of the founder were scarcely applicable. It was a case in which it might be fairly said it was best for these schools that they should not be put in a position different from that of many other schools of the same kind. They had never had an opportunity of expressing an opinion about Eton and Westminster, because the Public Schools Act did not provide that where a Governing Body took advantage of their power of framing statutes they should be laid on the Table, consequently the House would not be acting inconsistently in taking action with respect to these five schools, as it had no opportunity of taking action with regard to the two schools. At the same time it was true that Winchester was differently situated from the others.


said, it came to this, that the uniformity which it was so much desired to introduce was impossible of attainment without taking a much stronger step than was proposed, because Eton and Westminster had contracted themselves out of the operation of the Bill by taking advantage of the opportunity given them of framing their own statutes. A scheme was prepared for Winchester; but for some reason it was not adopted, and the consequence was that Winchester was in the position of the other four schools embraced by the Motion. He put it to the Home Secretary whether the same rule would apply to Winchester which would apply to Rugby and the Charterhouse?


said, that if it were a cathedral school it would be exempt.


said, that cathedral schools were but one description of those upon which a denominational character was impressed, but Winchester was in every respect essentially a Church school, and he wished to know whether its character was to be changed by a Motion of this haphazard and casual character. If the Public Schools Commissioners had thought it consistent with their duty to make any requirement of this kind, that membership of the Church of England should not be required of a member of the Governing Body, he should have thought that no great harm would have been done; but it was a different thing when Parliament went out of its way to interfere with the discretion of Royal Commissioners, entrusted with almost legislative functions. That the hon. and learned Member for Frome should take the matter up and the Government hang on his skirts was most extraordinary; for surely if the Royal Commissioners had fallen short of their duty the Government might have come forward on their own responsibility. Instead of that, the hon. and learned Member for Frome proposed the Motion, and the Home Secretary said it should have his hearty support. He thought it a very hard measure to be dealt out to these schools, and though he did not say that the Church character of Winchester School would be affected, he thought it was a serious thing for Parliament to interfere with the discretion of Royal Commissioners, and a step which would be likely to mislead public opinion.


moved the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the debate be now adjourned."—(Major Walker.)


My hon. and learned Friend, as a Commissioner, thinks that an adjournment would be exceedingly inconvenient if we can arrive at a conclusion ["No, no!"], and the hon. Member who says "No, no!" is not a Commissioner, and has not the same means of forming a judgment. How stands the matter, and what is the point in difference? We do not differ about everything; and, as I understand, it is not contended that we ought now, in our legislative capacity, to consider whether or not members of the Governing Body should be members of the Church of England; that is not the question before us. The state of the case is this—Under the Act passed two years ago we made provision that in case trustees of public schools should, under certain circumstances, draw up statutes for the regulation of these schools, they should be laid before Parliament before receiving the sanction of the Crown; but there was no provision requiring members of the Governing Bodies to be members of the Church of England, nor was the principle laid down that religious opinion should not be a disqualification for being a member; but in the Act since passed the principle is laid down that, save in certain excepted cases, religious opinion shall not be a disqualification; and my hon. Friend contends, and I think he is right in contending, that inasmuch as Parliament has given to each branch of the Legislature the power of expressing its opinion upon these statutes before they can receive the assent of the Crown, it will be perfectly consistent for this House, in its legislative capacity, and in the exorcise of the special function committed to it by this Act, to assert this principle—that the proceedings under the Public Schools Act of 1868 ought to be made conformable to the rules under the Endowed Schools Act of 1869. I do not speak of Eton and Westminster, because they are not before us. The contention of my hon. Friend seems to me to be fair. The subject being brought before the House in this particular manner, it is perfectly fair for the House, if it thinks fit, to express its opinion that the rule, deliberately adopted, and with general sanction on all sides, ought to be impressed upon the proceedings under the former Act. As to the question of fact which is involved, my right hon. Friend (Sir Charles Adderley) alleges that the provisions of the statutes of Rugby are such as will bring it within the 19th clause of the Endowed Schools Act as a denominational school. The House will remember that Section 17 provides that religious opinion shall be no disqualification for membership of a Governing Body, and Section 19 provides that in the case of two classes of schools the foregoing provision respecting membership shall not be applicable. What are these two classes of schools? The first is— Any school which is maintained out of the endowment of any cathedral or collegiate church, or forms part of the foundation of any cathedral or collegiate church, or any educational endowment, the scholars educated by which are, in the opinion of the Commissioners (subject to appeal to Her Majesty in Council, as mentioned in this Act), required by the express terms of the original instrument of foundation, or of the statutes or regulations made by the founder or under his authority, in his lifetime or within 50 years after his death (which terms have been observed down to the commencement of this Act), to learn or to be instructed according to the doctrines or formularies of any particular Church, sect, or denomination. Now, I understand my right hon. Friend to state that any school coming within those words should be excepted. [Sir CHARLES ADDERLEY: Or coming within that principle.] Well, it is difficult to know how far we are at liberty to travel beyond the letter. We could not consent to adopt any other rule than that in the Act. There seems to be a difference of opinion as to the matter of fact, and I suggest that the objection of my hon. Friend (Mr. Hughes) might be gained and the challenge fairly given to hon. Gentlemen opposite if, instead of passing the Motion in the precise terms in which it now stands, we should pass it in a form which would refer it to the discretion of the Government, acting on their responsibility, to examine the matter of fact, and say whether in each of these five cases the schools did or did not come within the exceptions in the Endowed Schools Act. That, I think, is not an unfair offer to make, and it would bring to an issue the question raised by my hon. Friend in a manner conformable with his views. The form of the Motion would be for an Address to the Crown humbly to express the desire of the House that, in the exercise of the power conferred upon Her Majesty by the Public Schools Act, with respect to the five statutes for determining and establishing the constitution of the new Governing Bodies of Shrewsbury, Winchester, Harrow, Charterhouse, and Rugby Schools, Her Majesty would be pleased to see that such statutes correspond with Sections 17 and 19 in the Endowed Schools Act of 1869, and, if they do not correspond with the said sections, to disapprove of them, or so much of them, accordingly. I agree that, when such powers are given as were conferred in this instance, they ought not to be used for indirect or collateral purposes. But I think it is fair, as my hon. Friend says, to ask that the principle adopted in the later and more matured decision of Parliament shall be applied to the regulation of these statutes, and that is the basis upon which I should propose to found the Motion. It will be expedient to place the precise terms of it upon the Notice Paper; but I hope it will be admitted that there is nothing unfair in the assertion of such a principle.


said, he was not sorry that the Home Secretary could offer no argument against his hon. and learned Friend except that supplied by the Endowed Schools Act. He did not suppose the Government would be so unjust as to insist on applying the principles of that Act in this particular case against the Church, and not act upon it when they came to the Elementary Education Bill in favour of the Church. The principle cut both ways, and he did not know how the Government could act on it, upon the one hand to destroy if, on the other hand, they did not also act upon it to save. The question now before the House was the adjournment of the debate, but the Prime Minister had suggested an Amendment which was apparently to establish a kind of universal principle on the data laid down in the Endowed Schools Act. He would not now offer any comment upon that principle; but if it was to be maintained in the one case, he hoped the Government would have the justice to maintain it equally in the other.


protested against proceeding with the Motion until the other schools had had an opportunity of being heard.


protested against throwing over the solemn decision of a Committee the year after it had been arrived at. The Public Schools Bill had been discussed at great length, and he did not believe that this point was raised. As, therefore, a new doctrine had now been started, further opportunities were required for discussing the question whether faith was not to be kept by the Government in this matter.


said, that the very important proposal of the Prime Minister ought not to be entered upon in a thin House, and in the absence of the four Members for the Universities.


said, he was quite ready to withdraw his Motion, and substitute that suggested by the Prime Minister, which would then be placed on the Paper before the discussion was resumed.


, as a trustee of Rugby School, hoped the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would not be proceeded with to-night.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, humbly to express the desire of this House that in the exercise of the power conferred upon Her Majesty by the 9th, 10th, and 19th sections of the Act 31 and 32 Vic. c. 118, with respect to the five Statutes for determining and establishing the constitution of the new governing bodies of Shrewsbury, Winchester, Harrow, Charterhouse, and Rugby Schools, Her Majesty will be pleased to ascertain whether the said Statutes correspond with the provisions of the 17th and 19th sections of the Endowed Schools Act of 1869, and, if they do not correspond with the said sections, to disapprove of them, or of so much of them, accordingly."—(Mr. Thomas Hughes.)

Debate arising.

Debate adjourned till Friday.