§ Order of the Day for the consideration of the Lords' Amendments read.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, that in moving that the Lords' Amendments be now considered, it would be satisfactory to the House if he stated, in a very few words, the course which the Government meant to pursue with reference to the Amendments. He hoped he should be able to do so in such a manner as neither to provoke nor invite any preliminary discussion. The first Amendment of the Lords was upon the Preamble, and introduced a certain narrative with respect to instruction in religion. That Amendment he should propose to amend, so as to make it more strictly accurate in point of fact, and then, subject to the Amendment which he should propose, he should ask the House to agree to the Lords' Amendment. The second Amendment related to the Scotch Education Board. The view of the Lords in reference to this matte differed, in some, but not many, essential respects from the proposal contained in the 3rd clause of the Bill as it left the Commons. The chief of the distinctions was, that the Lords proposed to call that a Board which the Commons called an organizing Commission; and, of course, he should not for a moment think of asking the House to disagree 161 with their Lordships upon a mere name. But there was no provision in the clause introduced by the House of Lords for the cessation of the Board after the expiry of such a period as should be thought sufficient for them to discharge the whole of the duties by the Act imposed upon them. He should therefore propose to amend the Lords' Amendment to the extent of making the Board a temporary Board, the period of its endurance being substantially the same as the Government proposed for the organizing Commission. With respect to the duties of the Board, they did not propose to interfere with the views of the Lords, but those were duties to be performed during the period of their existence as defined upon the clause sent down by the House of Lords. But there was one matter upon which they thought it proper to make the provisions of the Bill quite clear—namely, the preparation of the Minutes upon which the Parliamentary grant was to be distributed. He did not think there was any substantial difference between Her Majesty's Government and the House of Lords upon this matter; but they thought it fitting to make the language such that there should be no doubt upon two points—in the first place, that it should be the duty of the Scotch Board to offer their suggestions on this subject to the Government—that was, to the Education Department; and, in the second place, that it should be the duty and the responsibility of the Department to prepare the Minutes containing the rates and conditions according to which the Parliamentary grants were to be distributed. With those Amendments he substantially assented to the Amendments of the Lords upon that head; but he thought it proper to explain the facts, in order that the House might quite understand the Amendments he had to propose upon the Lords' Amendments. In order to make the Board temporary in its duration; in order to make the matters clear to which he had adverted; and also to correct what appeared to him to be a certain inconvenience, if not an absolute inaccuracy in point of drafting, they proposed to substitute other clauses for those which the Lords had introduced into the Bill. The only other Amendments of any materiality proposed by the Lords were upon the Conscience Clause, and upon the clause of the Bill 162 which related to parents of poor children refusing or having the choice of the school to which their children should be sent. To these Amendments he should ask the House to assent. He moved that the Amendments be now considered.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Lords' Amendments considered.
Page 1, line 20, after ("Scotland") insert—
And whereas it has been the usage in Scotland, sanctioned by legislation, to make provision for religious instruction in public schools as an essential part of education, and it is desirable in extending the system of education to afford means for continuing such religious instruction to all children whose parents do not decline it on conscientious grounds,
—the first Amendment, read a second time.
To leave out from the first word "the" to the end of the Amendment, in order to add the words "custom in the public schools of Scotland to give instruction in religion to children whose parents did not object to the instruction so given, but with liberty to parents, without forfeiting any of the other advantages of the schools, to elect that their children should not receive such instruction, and it is expedient that the managers of public schools shall be at liberty to continue the said custom, "—(The Lord Advocate,)
§ MR. GORDON
protested against the inconvenience of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate coming down to the House, and making proposals which hon. Members first heard as they were just put from the Chair, and had not therefore the opportunity of considering. The general rule of occasions of this kind was either to accept or reject the Amendments of the Lords, and not propose, as was now done, to amend them. He invited the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate to state clearly the nature of his objection to the form of the Amendments proposed by the Lords. For his own part, he saw no difference, and therefore he could not admit the necessity for the alteration proposed.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, his reason was generally that the form he proposed was more accurate in point of fact than the statement in the Preamble proposed by the House of Lords. The House would be in a position to judge between them, whether the words they had just heard as put from the Chair 163 were accurate in point of fact, and in conformity with the provisions of the Bill.
§ MR. GORDON
said, he did not think the proposal of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate differed in any material respect from the Amendment of the House of Lords, with the exception that the words "sanctioned by legislation" wore omitted. That was a matter upon which there was an undoubted difference of opinion in the House. The House of Lords were perfectly justified in coming to the conclusion that religious education was sanctioned by legislation, because in 1861 an Act was passed which declared that the schoolmaster should give instruction in accordance with the Scriptures, and in accordance with the Shorter Catechism. That did not stand upon his mere opinion, but was that of the Lord Advocate of the day, who, in introducing the Bill, said, according to the report contained in The Scotsman—If we are to adopt any test in the Bill, these words are right. Such schoolmaster is to declare what he will do, and as part of his duty is to give religious instruction to the children under his care, I think he has only the right to say that his teaching shall be in conformity with the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures, and with the Church of Scotland. This, in short, is only the declaration made by a man of that which he is bound to do, and the schoolmaster is bound—and I trust will always be bound—to teach the doctrines of Scripture in the school, and I know very few persons indeed who object to the schoolmaster doing this. The manner of religious teaching is found in the Holy Scriptures and the Shorter Catechism as agreed upon at Westminster, and approved by the whole Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and therefore there can be no harm in a man simply declaring what he is bound to do.That opinion was shared by the ex-Lord Advocate of the day—the present Lord Mure—who had at that time a seat in Parliament, and was one of the Members of a Commission which inquired into the question of the schools in Scotland. In answer to a question of this gentleman, one of the witnesses examined by the Commission expressed his strong conviction that the declaration of the Act of 1861 bound the schoolmasters to teach the Bible and the Shorter Catechism. He was aware that he was addressing the House under unfavourable circumstances. This Bill, seeing it was said to be the second of the Session, had been delayed for a longer time than it should have been delayed for a Bill of 164 so much importance. The Ballot Bill was brought before this House—["Order, order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he must remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that he had no right to enter upon matters connected with the Ballot Bill, and that without the indulgence of the House he could not go beyond explanation.
§ MR. GORDON
went on to say that the course pursued was very different from that of other measures which had come down from the House of Lords. It was now 11 days since the measure came from the Lords ["Order, order!"] If the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for England would allow him to proceed till the Speaker called him to Order—
§ MR. CANDLISH
I rise to Order. I have understood from you, Sir, that any hon. Member rising a second time can only rise to explain. The hon. and learned Member is entering into arguments.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
, speaking to the point of Order, said, it was quite impossible that the House could know the views of the Government on the course they proposed to take, unless the hon. and learned Member were allowed to proceed.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The rule is clear. The hon. and learned Gentleman is not entitled to make a speech; but under the circumstances, and by the indulgence of the House, he can ask for explanation on the point raised by the Lord Advocate. If he travels beyond that, he will be exceeding the rules of the debate.
§ MR. GORDON
said, he was placed in a peculiar position, because no Amendment had been moved from the other side on the Lords' Amendments, and the first notice the House had was an Amendment as put from the Chair. He had, therefore, been obliged to address himself to an incomplete state of the question; and while doing so by the indulgence of that House, must maintain that an irregularity had been committed. Eleven days had elapsed since the matter had been decided by the House of Lords, and it was now brought forward at an hour of the evening when they were not always sure to find a full attendance. If, therefore, he acceded to the Amendments of the other side, it was not because he acquiesced in the 165 view which had been taken either as to the law as stated in the Preamble, or as to the propriety of inserting this Amendment, but simply that, under the circumstances, he was satisfied that there could not be any satisfactory opinion elicited of the views of the House as to the question at issue.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
regretted the course pursued in the proposal that the Amendment should be disagreed to, more especially as they were all in favour of the principle of the Bill, and sensible of the very moderate way in which it had been dealt with "elsewhere." There was some inconvenience in the course pursued, inasmuch as it was not always easy to understand the effect of words when read from the Chair, but his hon. and learned Friend would agree with him that it was essential to carry out the recitals of the Preamble of the Act, whatever those recitals were. He believed, however, that this Amendment would be utterly ineffectual, and that it was unnecessary and at variance with the recitals.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he trusted the House would accept the proposed Amendment. It seemed to him that the words now introduced, so far as he could catch them, proposed that instead of the affirmative assertion in the Lords' Amendment that it was the desire of the people of Scotland that their children should have religious instruction, the Amendment now proposed contained a negative assertion that there were persons in Scotland who disliked religious instruction. But it came to the same thing, as religious education was acknowledged in the Preamble, and he was very glad to have it even in the form in which the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate now proposed to amend the Lords' Amendment.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he did not quite understand why Preambles had fallen into such contempt. He remembered that there was a very animated discussion on the 6th of May, on the Resolution moved by the hon. and learned Member for the University of Glasgow, which was the same in purport as the Lords' Amendment then before the House. It did not seem to be a matter of indifference to the Lord Advocate or to Her Majesty's Government, when the House, on the 6th May, decided by Resolution to continue the use and wont of 166 Scotland in regard to the religious education which was the foundation of the Scotch parochial school system. They appeared anxious to oppose that Resolution, and divided the House against it, and were in a minority after a debate that extended over some hours; how was it, then, that they were told, when the substance of that Resolution had been inserted in the Preamble of the Bill by the House of Lords, that it was a matter of indifference? As a layman he had always understood that the Courts interpreted an Act of Parliament in accordance with its Preamble, if there were any doubtful point in the working of the Act. He saw the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General in his place. He was an authority in equity, and he (Mr. Newdegate) supposed in law, and he therefore believed that he should not appeal to him in vain, in confirmation of what he had said—that if there were doubtful terms in the clauses of a statute, the Courts in administering that statute would turn to the Preamble in order to ascertain the exact purport of the whole statute. That was what he, as an unlearned person, had always been instructed to believe. It did not appear to him that there was anything negative in these words—And whereas it has been the usage in Scotland, sanctioned by legislation, to make provision for religious instruction in public schools as an essential part of education, and it is desirable in extending the system of education to afford means for continuing such religious instruction to all childrenand here came in the only negative part of the paragraph—"whose parents do not decline it on conscientious grounds." It seemed to him, therefore, that the Lords had adopted the whole of the substance of the Resolution, which a majority of that House affirmed on the 6th of May, with a salvo in the concluding words equivalent to a Conscience Clause. He did not think, then, that that was a matter of indifference at all, although, of course, he would willingly bow to the high authority of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen University. True, that was a Scotch Bill; but, if he were in charge of the Lords' Amendments, he should be inclined to insist upon that which seemed intended to express the design of and to be the Interpretation Clause of the whole statute, since it was intended to preserve 167 that religious education in Scotland for which the Scotch people had always so earnestly and so honourably contended.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he should have voted more sincerely for Her Majesty's Government, if he had more clearly understood what the proposal was. So much turned upon forms and expressions that before the House came to a decision they ought clearly to understand what was the general meaning. The position they occupied was a delicate one—not merely with regard to the other branch of the Legislature, but in the face of the people of Scotland and England, and they ought therefore to agree to something which carried with it the majority of the opinions of that House. He should not think there could be any objection to the introduction of words in the Preamble recognizing the last practice of the Church of Scotland. The proposal which had come up from the other branch of the Legislature was one which they might fairly accept, with the exception of the words "sanctioned by legislation." It was one which had been long since pointed out as a course which the Legislature might take in dealing with Scotland, and it had the sanction of Dr. Chalmers, who had pointed out the extreme difficulty in the present state of Scotland, of the nation setting for itself to define what should be or should not be the exact measure of religious education. In the sight of that difficulty, Dr. Chalmers thought that the State should confine itself to secular education. At the same time, he was in favour of the recognition of religious education in the Preamble. There could be no doubt that their forefathers had as keen a view for religious instruction as they had themselves, but they never did it by direct injunction. It was the alliance of Church and State which gave large powers of authority and discipline—not merely in regard to schools, but to the Universities throughout the country. The only question was, whether, by the introduction of the words proposed as an Amendment, they would be following the spirit of the education which had gone before the words seemed long and diffuse, but if they could be made clearly to express the past practice and the future intention of Parliament, he should be disposed to agree with them.
§ LORD GARLIES
said, that, as far as he could understand, there was no other 168 Amendment before the House than to consider that made by the Lords. ["Yes, yes!"] In saying that he was only following what had been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House, who had said they did not know what the proposition was. He confessed he came in a few minutes late. He could only say that every hon. Member who had spoken said he did not understand what the proposition was. He should like to ask what was the proposition before the House?
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, that so far as he could gather from the words which the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had laid before the House, these were less controvertible than those of the Lords' Amendment, and therefore he approved of them. He could not understand why the right hon. and learned Lord did not put his Amendment on the Notice Paper. It might not be usual to do so in small cases; but in a case like this, it would have added greatly to the convenience of the House to have had that done. If hon. Members had before them in plain print the Amendments proposed by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, and if they were able to compare them with the Amendments proposed by the Lords, they might form a correct judgment between the one and the other; but they could not do so if they only heard the Lord Advocate's Amendments read over once. The course adopted must give rise to a good deal of irrelevant discussion, which might otherwise have been avoided.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the said Amendment," put, and negatived.
§ Question put, "That those words be added, instead thereof."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 113; Noes 5: Majority 108.
§ Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
§ The next Amendment amended, and agreed to.
§ Page 3, leave out Clause 3, and insert Clauses (A), (B), (D), (E), (F), (G), and (H), the next Amendment, read a second time.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
then rose to propose the omission of the first six clauses, in order to insert three new 169 clauses. He said it would be necessary for him to offer a short explanation of the Amendment he was about to propose to the Lords' Amendment; but what he had to say would, as far as he could make it so, be an explanation only, and without argument. An explanation was the more necessary, because of the observations made on both sides of the House as to the inconvenience which sometimes arose from the practice of the House, to speak negatively, not to put upon the Paper Amendments proposed on Amendments by the Lords. There was undoubtedly an inconvenience arising from this practice. As far as he was able, therefore, he would endeavour, by a distinct explanation, to obviate the inconvenience with respect to the Amendments he was now about to propose. The purport of the Lords' Amendment the House was now dealing with was to establish a Board of Education for Scotland, and as he had intimated in the few sentences which he addressed to the House at the commencement of the evening, the Government were prepared to assent to the establishment of such a Board. But he stated at the same time the modifications on the proposal of the Lords with which the Government intended to accompany that assent. These were, in the first place, and chiefly, that the Board should be made of temporary duration. In the second place, the Government thought it should be made to appear from the language used, that while it should be the duty of the Board to offer its opinion to the Education Department respecting conditions according to which Parliamentary grants might with the greatest advantage be distributed in Scotland, nevertheless, the duty and responsibility of distributing the grants, and consequently of framing the Minutes specifying the rates and conditions according to which the distribution was to take place, should be with the Education Department. These were the two great, and, he might say, the only material modifications of the proposal of the Lords which the Government had to make in agreeing to their Amendment. He ought to explain, however, that the Government proposed to differ from the Lords to a certain extent as to the constitution of the proposed Scotch Board. The proposal of the Lords was that the two Law Officers for Scotland—namely, 170 the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General—should be by the statute members of the Board, and that in addition to those officers of the Government three members of the Board should be appointed by the Queen, the members of the Board being thus five in number. It appeared, however, to the Government that it was objectionable to make two Law Officers members of the Board by statute. He would not enter on the reasons for that. No doubt the reasons stated when the subject was mooted on a former occasion would be in the recollection of hon. Members, and it was not his purpose to argue the matter now. What the Government proposed was, that there should be five members of the Board appointed by the Crown—three of them only to be paid. If it should appear to the Government advantageous to nominate either the Lord Advocate or the Solicitor General, or both of them, to be members of the Board, it would be in the power of the Government to do so, but with this advantage—and the very obvious and considerable one over nominating them by the statute—that their nominations might be recalled, and other persons nominated in their stead, should such a course be found expedient. What the Government proposed, therefore, with regard to the constituent members of the Board was, that instead of the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General being members, along with three to be nominated by the Crown, five should be nominated by the Crown, the Government concurring with the Lords in this—that three of these five should be paid. It would, perhaps, be satisfactory to the House that he should read a part of the first of the three clauses by which the Government proposed to supersede the first six clauses proposed by the Lords. In order to define the duties of the Board of Education and the Department with regard to the preparation of the Code, the Government proposed that the creation of the Board should be in the following words:—With a view to greater efficiency and convenience in the institution and organization of schools and school boards under the provisions of this Act, a Board of Education for Scotland shall be and is hereby established, to endure for the term of two years from and after the passing of this Act, with power to Her Majesty, by Order in Council made before the expiration of that term, to extend the same for a further period of 171 not more than three years, provided that such Order shall not have effect until it shall have lain for forty days on the Table of both Houses of Parliament.With reference to the period of endurance, instead of making three years imperative by statute, with power to extend the term by adding two years to it, the Government have proposed that the statutory endurance—which of course could not be interfered with, should be only two years, and that the power of extending it should be within the limit of three years. As far as he could judge at present, two years would suffice for the discharge of all the duties of the Board in the way of instituting and organizing schools and school boards under the Act; and if that expectation were realized, it would certainly be unfortunate if the Board were continued by enactment for an unnecessary year. On the other hand, if the continuance of the Board should appear to be proper, it would be competent for the Government and Parliament to extend the duration of it for a further period not exceeding three years. It would also be convenient, or at least satisfactory to the House, if he read the provision which the Government proposed to substitute for that of the Lords, prescribing the duty of the Board and the Department respectively as to the preparation of the Code, the Government proposed the following clause:—The Board of Education may submit for the consideration of the Scotch Education Department the conditions according to which, in their opinion, Parliamentary grants may be most advantageously distributed in Scotland: Provided always, That the duty of determining from time to time the rates and conditions according to which the said grants may be given under the provisions of this Act, and of framing and from time to time revising the minutes containing the same shall be on the Scotch Education Department.He would not add to his explanation anything in the way of argument, but would call to the recollection of the House the views which had always been urged on that bench—the expediency of leaving the education and responsibility of administration of the public money with the Government—and he hoped the House would be good enough to take his assurance that the preparation of the Code would be distinctly left with the Board. He trusted the explanation would remedy any inconvenience which might have resulted from not putting the Amendment on the Paper. The right hon. and learned Lord concluded 172 by moving a series of provisions necessary to carry the views of the Government into effect.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "Clauses (A), (B), (D), (E), (F), (G)," in order to insert the words,—
3. With a view to greater efficiency and convenience in the institution and organisation of schools and school boards under the provisions of this Act, a Board of Education for Scotland shall be and is hereby established, to endure for the term of two years from and after the passing of this Act, with power to Her Majesty, by Order in Council made before the expiration of that term, to extend the same for a further period of not more than three years, provided that such Order shall not have effect until it shall have lain for forty days on the Table of both Houses of Parliament; and with respect to the constitution of the said board the following provisions shall have effect:—
4. The first meeting of the Board of Education shall be held in Edinburgh on the second Friday of October, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two, or on such other day thereafter as shall be appointed by the Scotch Education Department, and at such place in Edinburgh as the said department shall appoint. Subsequent meetings shall be held at such times and places as the board shall direct. Ordinary meetings shall be held in the office of the board (except during the months of August and September) at intervals which shall not without reasonable cause exceed one month, and special meetings may be held at any time according to the pleasure of the board. Any meeting may be adjourned.
5. The Board of Education may submit for the consideration of the Scotch Education Department the conditions according to which, in their opinion, parliamentary grants may be most advantageously distributed in Scotland: Provided always, That the duty of determining from time to time the rates and conditions according to which the said grants may be given under the provisions of this Act, and of framing and from time to time revising the minutes containing the same shall be upon the Scotch Education Department,"—(The Lord Advocate,)
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he was fully sensible of the inconvenience of the present mode of proceeding, because the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate moved Amendments of which he had not given Notice according to the almost universal custom of the House. The right hon. and learned Lord had also been careful to state to the House that he did not intend to explain his Amendments. In the first place, the House had not, according to the usual custom, the Amendments printed before it; and in the next place, the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate declares that he does not intend to explain them.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
reminded the hon. Member that he had stated it was not the custom to put Amendments to the Lords' Amendments on the Paper, and that, so far from saying that he did not intend to explain them, he had explained them.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, the hon. Member had misunderstood him. What he said was, that he would not enter into arguments, but would confine himself to explanations.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
The right hon. and learned Lord's definition between explanation and argument was somewhat abstruse. His explanation, if such it was intended to be, was the civilest and narrowest he ever remembered. He put it to the House if ever there was a narrower. Still, he thought he had been able to gather the intention of the right hon. and learned Lord, and he would thank the right hon. and learned Lord to correct him if he was mistaken. The original frame of the Bill, as it went to the Lords, rendered that education Board, then called a Commission, totally subordinate to the Scotch Department of the Privy Council for Education. The Lords had differed as to the propriety of that subordination; but the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate and Her Majesty's Government were determined that they would make this Board subordinate, and the step they took was to remove from the Board the two officers of the Crown, whom the Lords had proposed should form part of it. They then took the Amendments of the Lords down to Clause G. Now, Clause G was a clause which gave a separate and an independent constitution to the Board, inasmuch as it enabled the Board, as the Lords proposed, to frame the Code; and not only to frame the Code, but, independently of the Department of Privy Council, to submit that Code to Parliament. Now all that the right hon. and learned Lord proposed to eliminate. The whole purpose, therefore, of the right hon. and learned Lord's Amendments to the Lords' Amendments, including the rendering the duration of this Board temporary, was to make the Scotch Education Board as completely subordinate to the Department of the Privy Council as in fact were the Inspectors. The Board would, if the Government Amendments were adopted, be able only to suggest, and they could suggest only to the Department of the Privy Council. They could not, as the Lords proposed, suggest and propose anything to Parliament, with respect to the form of the Code or with respect to the appropriation of the grant. A strong objection was taken in Scotland and in this House to rendering the whole of the whole of the Scotch elementary education subordinate to the Privy Council. The House of Lords entertained that objection, and had 175 framed clauses whereby Scotland would have an. Education Board of its own, consisting of the two Law Officers of the Crown, and three other persons to be nominated by Her Majesty. The right hon. and learned Lord proposed that the duration of the Board should be temporary; and, in fact, in a rather roundabout manner, he was going to take the first clause of the Lords' Amendments and to convert them to the purpose of the Bill as it left this House, thereby completely reversing the intention of the House of Lords which was to frame a quasi-independent Scotch Educational Board, for the purpose of substituting an educational machinery which would be as completely subordinate to the Privy Council as were the Inspectors. That, at all events, was his understanding of the proposal of the right hon. and learned Lord. In a very civil way, and with a very narrow explanation, the right hon. and learned Lord would, if he could, just reverse the whole purport of the Lords' Amendments.
§ MR. MACFIE
said, he agreed that the intention of the new clauses submitted to the House was to deprive Scotland of what it wanted—a native Scotch Board, independent of everything except the distribution of money. The great controversy in the Established Church of Scotland was whether there should be religious teaching in Scotland independent of the State, and the great majority of the people said that they were willing that the Government should collect the money and manage its distribution; but with regard to the character of the education to be given, the Scotch people, almost to a man, said that having for three centuries and upwards managed their own education efficiently and with satisfaction to themselves, they objected to the proposal of the Lord Advocate, and wished still to regulate their own educational affairs; and the House of Lords, rightly interpreting their views, had introduced these clauses, which he was astonished that a Liberal Government should object to, with a view to have the education of the people of Scotland subjected to the control of Downing Street. He boldly said it in the presence of Scotchmen—and he knew there were Scotchmen in the gallery. ["Order!"] He begged to withdraw the expression, as he found it was not permitted by the Rules of the 176 House. However excellent and efficient the chief of the Privy Council Department might be, the work which fell upon him in connection with the cattle plague and English education was more than he ought reasonably to be expected to perform, and it was inconceivable that anyone could undertake the superintendence of English education, and at the same time devote his attention to the subject of Scotch education, which would occupy more time than what was called the Scotch Board would be able to give.
§ MR. COLLINS
remarked on the serious disadvantage the House was placed in on such occasions as the present, owing to the practice of not giving Notice of the Amendments which were to be proposed. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to omit six clauses and to combine their substance into three new ones, the full meaning of which it was almost impossible to catch as they were read from the Chair. He thought the practice of the House in this respect ought to be re-considered.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
, while admitting the force of the observations of the hon. and learned Member who had just spoken, did not think that at this period of the Session they could with advantage enter upon the question of changing the custom and practice of the House; neither did he think his right hon. and learned Friend had departed from precedent in the course he had taken. He did not believe there was much difference between the two Houses in the matter of the Board. The management of the schools was to be left to Scotchmen, and also the putting of the Act into operation. This House sent up to the House of Lords a Commission, and the House of Lords turned it into a Scotch Board. [Mr. KINNAIRD: For two years only.] His hon. Friend the Member for Perth said "for two years." Well, he (Mr. Forster) had no doubt that the Board could accomplish their work in two years; and, indeed, he might say that his knowledge of the facilities already existing in Scotland led him to believe that they would do it in less time. The Board, however, might be found useful, and, therefore, the Government had taken powers to continue it. With regard to the Code there was a slight misconception. There seemed to exist an impression that by this Bill the Government 177 were introducing a new principle, and taking power over the disposal of Parliamentary grants for Scotland which did not exist before. But they were doing no such thing. Every time that money had been granted for Scotland it had been disposed of in the same way as in England. Instead of taking more power, the Government were actually taking less. In giving Imperial money to Scotland, they must give it on the same principle on which it was given to England, making the Government of the day responsible for its distribution. However, the Government were quite willing that this Board of eminent Scotchmen should offer suggestions which they thought suitable for Scotland, for he thought the Board would give valuable hints with regard to education, not only in Scotland, but in England.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
complained of the unfairness of the Government in proposing Amendments of that kind without giving due Notice of them. When Amendments were proposed to the Lords' Amendments, they were generally put in a succinct form, stating those to which the House proposed to agree, and those from which it was intended to dissent, so that the House might be able to arrive at a definite conclusion; but on the present occasion the House did not possess that advantage. Until the right hon. and learned Lord rose there was not any hon. Member of the House who was aware of the course which the Government intended to pursue. With respect to the three new clauses which the right hon. and learned Lord proposed to substitute for the six old ones, he had not been able to follow their meaning sufficiently to comprehend them. He gathered that in two particulars there was an important difference between the two sets of clauses. The right hon. and learned Lord proposed that the Board should exist for two years. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER: With power to renew.] It was a complicated system, and the renewal was to be by Order in Council laid before Parliament. Now, two years was a very short time, and considering that the Act came into operation in October, the two years nominally might not exceed a year and a-half. It would be far better to give a longer period to the Scotch Board to deal with educational business. Then, again, he gathered from the statement of the 178 right hon. and learned Lord that whereas the House of Lords had decided upon a Scotch Education Board, and imposed upon it the duty of appointing a Secretary, the right hon. and learned Lord would take the power from the Board and confer it upon the Secretary of State or the Treasury. No reason whatever had been assigned for such a change. The right hon. and learned Lord had proposed a distinct scheme without giving the House the slightest notice of his intention, and the only intimation of the intention of the Government was that given by the Prime Minister, who stated that there was every reason to hope that there would be no difference of opinion respecting the Amendments.
§ DR. LYON PLAYFAIR
regretted that the Vice President of the Council had spoken so early in the debate on these Amendments, because he had hoped to have obtained from him some assurances as to the constitution of the Scotch Education Department. That was the supreme ruling power which would regulate education in Scotland, and would govern the Education Board, the Members of which would be merely Privy Council Commissioners for the specific performance of the duty of organizing schools under the Act. But the Scotch Education Department was the Government concession to the prayer of almost every Petition from Scotch constituencies—that the national characteristics of Scotch education should be preserved. He had never yet had any satisfactory explanation as to the constitution of that Department; and on this subject considerable anxiety prevailed. Was it to consist of men devoted to education, or was it to be made up of a few ornamental Privy Councillors, who, like the Committee of Council, existed rather in name than in reality? He did not wish to lessen Ministerial responsibility; but the Scotch people would recollect that the "Scotch Department" was the answer to their Petitions, and they would expect it to be a working reality, and not a mere name.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he did not think the change proposed by the Government one of so sweeping a character as it had been represented. The House of Lords recognized the proper subordination of a Board sitting in Edinburgh to a Department responsible to Parliament, and to vest the responsi- 179 bility in the Education Department would best secure Scotch interests and wishes. He considered that course of conduct consistent with the tentative character of the present legislation upon the subject. There was already a tendency to bring all the scholars to a dead level, and he feared that unless the Revised Code were modified, the higher education given in Scotch schools would be discouraged. Care should be taken to show equal justice to elementary and higher education, and the Inspectors would be able to give advice to the Department in this matter.
§ MR. C. DALRYMPLE
maintained that there was a material difference between the proposal of the Lords and that of the Government. While the former contemplated a permanent Board, the latter sought to limit its duration to two years, instead of three years, as the Bill originally proposed, there being little likelihood of an extension of the term hereafter. It would, moreover, apparently be the creation of the Scotch Education Department—a body the constitution of which he had vainly endeavoured to ascertain. He regretted that the Government proposed to exclude the Law Officers of the Crown from the Board, and he looked forward with little confidence to the way in which its members would be nominated.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
condemned the course which had been taken by the Government in not placing their voluminous and intricate Amendments upon the Paper. The fact was, that they were living under a despotic Government. Within the last 10 days he had had communications from his constituents, praying him to give them some information as to what was the nature of the Amendments to be proposed by the Government in contradistinction to the Lords' Amendments; but that information, in consequence of the reticence of the Government, he had been unable to give them. He felt bound to enter his protest against the course which had been taken by the Government in reference to this question.
§ MR. GORDON
said, that, seeing that the House of Lords had sacrificed so many of their predilections, he thought their Lordships should have been met in a fairer spirit. The concession as to the Scotch Education Department was merely nominal. He should have infinitely pre- 180 ferred a Board popularly elected. In fact, the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, when Solicitor General in 1869, stated his approval of the Law Officers of the Crown having seats at the Board. There could be no doubt in what they had proposed that the House of Lords had put themselves in harmony with the general feelings of Scotchmen. The three great Presbyterian Bodies in Scotland, the Convention of the Royal burghs, and the schoolmasters, had all expressed themselves in favour of a Scottish Board. No more numerously signed Petitions had ever been presented to that House on any subject, and the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) had given the authority of Government to the wish of Scotland that there should be a national Board. The Bill, moreover, interfered not only with elementary education, but with the secondary schools, over which the Privy Council would take no charge whatever. There was the example of Ireland, where there had been a Commission of Inquiry, which had reported in favour of the continuance of the Board, and for Ireland there was a Supplementary Vote of £80,000 to be moved this Session to improve the position of Irish schoolmasters. Scotland acknowledged that the Privy Council should have a right finally to adjust the Board, and the Lords' Amendment expressly recognized that right, and he believed that the proper course would be to follow the Lords' Amendments. If they did not do that, they would be landed at once in the midst of considerable difficulties.
§ LORD GARLIES
said, he trusted the Government would prolong the duration of the Board to three years. Two years were not sufficient to enable the Board to complete the work of organization; and with a longer term of office a higher type of men would be secured.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the said Amendment."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 72; Noes 128: Majority 56.
§ Words inserted.
§ Another Amendment made to the said Amendment.
§ Amendment, as amended, agreed to.181
§ Amendments, as far as the Amendment in page 7, line 35, inclusive, read a second time; several agreed to; one amended, and agreed to; and several disagreed to.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
proposed to disagree with the Lords' Amendments to Clauses 9 and 10, and to omit the clauses in question from the Bill in order to insert a new clause, leaving it to the Education Board, or, if it should cease to exist, to the Education Department, to fix the period of school-board elections, having regard to the peculiarities and convenience of the various localities in which the elections occur.
Consequential Amendment proposed to the Bill in lieu of Clauses 9 and 10, to insert the words,—Each school board elected under the provisions of this Act shall remain in office until a new election shall take place as hereinafter provided, and the time for every election subsequent to the first shall be appointed by the Scotch Education Department, having regard to the circumstances and convenience of the locality in which the election is to take place, and so that so far as practicable and convenient there shall be an election in each parish and burgh for which a separate school board is appointed to be elected once, and not oftener, in every period of three years, and that each school board shall remain in office for three years, and no longer; and it shall be lawful for the said department to appoint the time or times for the elections subsequent to the first in each parish and burgh by general order, which shall subsist until a new order shall be made; and the school board in office shall, a convenient time before the time so appointed for the next election, take such steps as they shall deem necessary, or as shall be directed by the said department, for the election of a new school board accordingly; and should any election not take place as required by this Act, and at the times hereinbefore specified, the Scotch Education Department may issue an order for an election at such time and place as the said department shall determine, or may allow the existing school board to continue in office, or may nominate a school board for the parish or burgh in which the failure has occurred, in the manner hereinafter provided with respect to any parish or burgh which on the expiration of twelve months from the passing of this Act shall be without a school board, and any board so nominated shall continue in office for the same period as a board elected under this Act at the time when the failure occurred, and shall have all the powers and be required to perform all the duties of a board so elected; and should a vacancy occur in any board during the currency of its period of office, such vacancy shall be supplied by the board itself nominating a person to supply such vacancy, and every person so nominated shall go out of office at the same date as the school board."—(The Lord Advocate.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."182
§ Amendment proposed to the proposed Consequential Amendment, to insert, in line 4, after the word "by," the words "the Board of Education or by."—(Lord John Manners.)
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.
§ Consequential Amendment made.
§ Subsequent Amendments read a second time; several agreed to; several amended and agreed to.
§ Committee appointed, "to draw up Reasons to be assigned to The Lords for disagreeing to the Amendments to which this House hath disagreed:"—The LORD ADVOCATE, Mr. WILLIAM EDWARD FORSTER, Mr. Secretary CARDWELL, Mr. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE, Mr. BAXTER, Mr. CAMPBELL, Mr. WINTERBOTHAM, Mr. HIBBERT, Mr. GLYN, and Mr. ADAM:—To withdraw immediately; Three to be the quorum.