HC Deb 28 July 1871 vol 208 cc416-24

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

(1.) £1,103,402, to complete the sum for Public Education in Great Britain.


said, he did not know whether the Committee expected him to make a long speech. There was no reason why the fullest details should not be given, but as all matters connected with Public Education were in a transitional state, it was difficult to draw any useful comparison between this and past years, and equally difficult to compare this year with the probable results of any future year. He would therefore, without further preface, briefly explain the cause of the increase upon last year's grant. That increase, no doubt, was very considerable, but not more than hon. Members would probably anticipate—namely, £543,681; the total Vote being £1,458,402. The increase was partly occasioned by the change from the old to a national system of education, and partly by the exceptional expenses of carrying into execution the Act of 1870, but it was chiefly owing to a permanent increase in the number of schools and scholars. The salaries for the London staff, the number of examiners and clerks on which had been added to on account of the enormous increase of business in the Department consequent upon putting the Elementary Education Act in force, were estimated at £32,420, an increase of £8,063 on the grant for 1870. There was also a charge of £5,000 on account of copying clerks, instead of £400 last year, owing to the number of Returns that had been called for. He hoped that increase of charge would not last long. There was a large increase on account of inspection and travelling expenses, owing to the increase in the duties of the inspectors; and, independently of the Act, these duties had been considerably augmented in consequence of the number of new schools applying for inspection. In Scotland they had last year asked for a Vote of £86,000, but it had been found that the sum requisite had been considerably underrated, for, though the Scotch Education Bill had not been passed, Scotland had shared in the educational activity of the year, and the number of fresh schools and of additional scholars was above the average. Instead of £86,000 it was found that £94,000 would have to be spent during the financial year, and the Estimate of last year having been deficient by £8,000, they proposed to ask for £106,000, an increase of £20,000. He did not believe that would be any too much. The chief item of increase, however, in the whole Vote was to be found in the grants to English schools. The day schools and evening schools, it was thought, would this year earn £355,000 more than they did last year, partly because of the increased grant claimable under the Act of last year, and partly because of the larger number of scholars under instruction. The day scholars would, it was thought, increase from 1,196,257 to 1,500,000, and the evening scholars from 79,857 to 91,924. He should explain that 1,500,000 was the estimate made at the beginning of the year, and the experience of the earlier months had borne it out. It was based on the presumption that the attendance would increase 20 per cent instead of 8 per cent as heretofore, and although it was not probable the estimate would be exceeded, it would most likely be reached. The sum paid per head was estimated at 12s. 6d. instead of the 9s. 10d. of last year. He now came to the building grants, where they asked for £80,000 as against £35,000, an increase that represented the probable erection of about 450 additional schools. Out of about 3,000 applications sent in for building grants before the end of last year, 1,958 had been approved, 187 had been rejected, and 71 withdrawn; but it should be understood that all those that had been approved would not necessarily come into the Estimates. Of course no money would be paid till the building was completed, so that the majority of the grants would fall on future years, and a difficulty might happen in obtaining the four-fifths of the amount which had to be raised by the promoters of the schools before the Department contributed its one-fifth. If that expectation should be fulfilled, it would not be an occasion for rejoicing, however, because it was a great thing that schools should be built, of which only one-fifth of the cost fell upon the State. The awards since the 1st of January had numbered 418, and involved an expenditure of £75,206, so that the average amount of each award had been about £180. Upon that basis between £500,000 and £600,000 would be ultimately required for the whole of the building grants; but he did not expect that anything like half that amount would be called for in the course of the next year. The estimate for training schools had increased from £87,000 to £107,000, and the Committee would be glad to learn that there had been a steady increase in the number of scholars. In 1869 the number was 2,286; in 1870, 2,600; in 1871, 2,933. The girls' training schools were quite full, and the boys' nearly so. The estimate for "organization" was £70,000—no doubt a large item—but he could assure the Committee that the utmost care and economy had been exercised in preparing it. The organization could not, of course, be begun until the Returns from all the local authorities had been made and recorded. These Returns had been called for from all the boroughs, and nearly 15,000 parishes, in England and Wales last August and September, and, with a few exceptions, they were sent in with a promptitude for which he desired officially to express his thanks. The few, however, who had not made the Returns at the close of the year, the appointed time, had delayed the arrangement of the districts which was still further prevented by the fact that denominational inspection was not abolished till the 1st of May. By the 1st of May they were in a position to send Inspectors though out all England. They had divided England into 64 districts; in each of them there was a permanent Inspector and an Inspector's assistant, and a temporary Inspector of Returns. These gentlemen had been and were now engaged in parcelling out the country into school districts, and in finding out where there was any educational deficiency. He was glad of that opportunity of thanking those gentlemen for the able manner in which they were discharging that task, and that the Department was receiving their Reports quite as rapidly as could have been hoped. Out of the nine districts in London the Inspectors' Reports in three were completed, and they were near completion in the others. He was pleased to be able to say that almost all the large towns in the country had anticipated the Act, by forming themselves into school boards, and they had thus most materially assisted the Department. In many of them the inquiry into the state of the education in the towns had been carried on by these boards, and most excellent and curtailed Reports had in many instances, been sent into the Department, which were now in the hands of the Inspectors for verification. He might mention that he believed the two towns which would have the honour of first receiving the full requisition for supplying the deficiency were Gateshead—for 9,000 children—and Stockton. In five other cases, where there was reason to believe that there would be a considerable deficiency, although all the details had not yet been received, the Department had considered it right to sanction at once the commencement of school buildings. These were Birmingham, for 5,000 children; London, for 20 schools; educational energy and activity through- and Portsmouth, for three schools; and in cases where there was no doubt further school accommodation was needed that sanction had been given. Sanction would be given to an application from the Liverpool Board as soon as it had stated the amount of accommodation it proposed to supply; and it was believed similar applications would come from other boards shortly. The Committee would be interested to know that out of 220 boroughs, having a population in 1861 of 5,511,653, 96, with a population of 4,379,487, had formed school boards. That, added to London, which numbered more than 3,000,000, formed a very large portion of the town population now under the operation of the Act. In addition to this, there were 188 civil parishes, parishes and towns without Corporations, representing a population of 896,257, where school boards had been formed, and he was happy to say that the number of those boards was constantly increasing. Applications for boards were daily being made; he had that very day signed 24 more orders for the purpose, embracing a population of 271,223. This brought the population under the Act to 8,111,971 out of the 20,000,000 by the Census of 1861. It was only fair to add that in the country parishes also, where school boards had not been formed, great educational activity prevailed. These formed the whole of the statistics he could lay before the Committee respecting the working of the last year. It had been usual, in making the statement in this Vote, to institute a comparative view of the number of attendances of the children, and their degrees of proficiency, as shown by the examinations; but in the present instance he should not attempt to do any such thing, because in consequence of the passing of the Act, and of the alteration in the code in the middle of the year, any such comparative view would be fallacious; but he might state to the Committee that the increase in the points he had mentioned was above the average—a fact highly satisfactory in itself—but not such, as to make them in the least degree regret the passing last year of a national measure of education. He believed that the experience of the past few months might lead them to look forward hopefully to the future. Quite independently of the compulsory powers of the Act, it had occasioned a general out the country—a determination that we should no longer lie under the scandal of being so uneducated a people as we had been. This was evidenced in the many applications for new schools and in the increased attendance in the existing ones, even though compulsion had not been enforced. Several of the large towns were grappling with the problem in a very able manner, and he believed that in Liverpool and some other of the principal towns compulsion was enforced. He hoped that London would soon follow the example. Moreover, the idea had gone forth all over England that the State intended henceforth to interfere, and to make it rather awkward for the parents of children who were uneducated; and that feeling was beginning to make itself felt. He knew, of course, that a great deal would remain to be done in carrying out the provisions of the Act; but, from what school managers told him, he believed that within a year or two, and perhaps before the end of next year, they would see an enormous majority of the children of the really working classes going to school. There would then be the exceptional cases to be dealt with—the outcast children, and those whose parents were not workers; and in such cases the compulsory clauses of the Act would have to be relied upon. The first thing he considered was to get the children to attend school at all; next, to attend it regularly; and, thirdly, to give them the best education they could receive during the time they were there. He did not think that a great increase of cost to the country was implied in these propositions. The principle they had laid down—that half the fees were to be paid by the State—ought, he considered, to be maintained, and they would find that as more educational activity prevailed the extent of useful knowledge brought within the range of the children would be proportionately increased, and they would be taught geography and history as well as reading, writing, and arithmetic. He hoped a result would be arrived at which would show that the working of the Act had been beneficial, and that the whole population of the kingdom would receive that sound and reasonable teaching which would render them good and useful citizens.


said, he wished to draw the attention of the Vice Presi- dent of the Council to the Reports of the Inspectors of training schools. The recent alteration which had been made by the Department was not a good one. The Report of a Church of England Inspector said that all the reading of a certain school he visited in Battersea was of a mechanical character that had no reference whatever to intellectual training. In this respect normal schools required great attention. The same Inspector said that at half-past 10 in the morning the boys were all running about the playground, and appeared to remain there during the rest of the morning. The Report of an Inspector who visited the Borough Schools showed that it was a mere waste of money to send out some of the students to be teachers of others. Would it not be better to abstain from paying for these training schools unless there were more efficient results? The present Vote was wanted no doubt; but he was sorry that, being driven into a corner, the Committee could not thoroughly discuss it. All he could do, therefore, was to call his right hon. Friend's attention to the subject of the training schools, which were the keystone of the country's education.


expressed his opinion that the Minister, so far from asking for too much for Scotland, had not asked for its fair proportion. He expressed his gratitude to the right hon. Gentleman for having admitted that Scotland had shared in the educational activity which had followed throughout England the passing of the Education Bill of last year; but that activity would probably have been greater in Scotland if the fair share of the educational grant had been allotted to her. In order to prove this, he would call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the proportions in which this grant was allotted to the three different portions of the United Kingdom. Of the total grant, he found £1,400,000 allotted to England and Wales, £400,000 to Ireland, and only £106,000 to Scotland. Now, surely that was out of all proportion to the amount of revenue contributed to the Imperial Exchequer by Ireland and Scotland. Scotland contributed one-ninth part of the whole revenue, so that, taking the total grant at £1,800,000 only, she ought, on all principles of fairness and equality, to get at least £200,000, instead of £106,000. But the matter was much worse when they came to look at Ireland, and to see the proportion she received. Ireland contributed one-sixth to the Imperial revenue, in return for which she received as her share of the educational grant £400,000, which was as much above her legitimate proportion as the amount allotted to Scotland was below it. He was quite aware that in Scotland the departmental expenses were charged to the Imperial Government, but that did not make a difference of £94,000. Nobody could deny that the progress of education in Scotland had been remarkable, and therefore, judging by results, the money had been well earned. The object of the provision was to extend education, therefore they might reasonably expect that education would be considerably further extended in that country if she had had her fair share of the grant. As it appeared to him, Parliament would neither give to Scotland the grant in the same proportion as it gave it to Ireland, nor would it, through the instrumentality of the Home Secretary, allow it to spend its own money in its own way and for its own purposes; for although about two years ago Parliament, to save expense, passed an Act providing for the issue of Provisional Orders for the purpose of enabling towns to provide for the maintenance of health and cleanliness, yet it would not allow those Provisional Orders to be extended to the promotion of education. He could not allow these Estimates to pass the House without entering his protest against the gross injustice which was being done to Scotland. There was a general feeling arising there that there was a great deal of unfairness in the manner in which that country was being treated, and he warned the right hon. Gentleman that the feeling was increasing, would increase, and probably would bear fruits that would a little surprise him one of these days.

Vote agreed to.

(2.) £176,179, to complete the sum for the Department of Science and Art.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next;

Committee to sit again this day.

It being now Twenty-five minutes past Six of the clock, House suspended its sitting.

House resumed its sitting at Nine of the clock.

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