HC Deb 03 June 1872 vol 211 cc1054-84

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Preamble postponed.

Clause 1 (Interpretation of Act).


said, he would suggest that, as his hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Mr. Grieve) and himself had placed Amendments upon the Paper, involving questions of principle which would arise on the clause, and as the Preamble had been postponed, it would be better to postpone the consideration of those principles until other portions of the Bill had been disposed of.


said, the question was between the scheme of the Bill, part of which was the establishment of a Government Department to be called "The Scotch Education Department," and the scheme of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen (Mr. Gordon), which was the establishment of a statutory Board of Education in Scotland. That was a question which must be discussed at a very early stage, and from the best consideration he was able to give to the subject, he thought that question might be as conveniently discussed now as at a later period of the discussion on the Bill.


, who had an Amendment on the Paper substituting a Board of Education for Scotland instead of the Scotch Education Department, said, the question resolved itself into the simple issue—whether they were to have an Education Board for Scotland, or whether they were to have the educational affairs of that country managed by a Committee of the Privy Council. He believed he expressed the feelings of the people of Scotland generally, when he said that they were greatly in favour of a Board in Scotland. A short time ago, about 35 Scotch Liberal Members had an interview with the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate with regard to the Bill, and the right hon. and learned Lord then said that if his (Mr. Grieve's) Amendment, or that of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gordon) were carried, he should consider it fatal to the Bill; but that, as he was willing to consult the feelings of the people of Scotland, he was disposed to recommend that a Commission should be appointed to sit in Edinburgh, and to continue in existence four or five years, to put the Bill into working shape. If that Commission were properly constituted, it would, to a great extent, satisfy him (Mr. Grieve), for he confessedly would rather have the Bill pretty much as it stood, than no Bill at all. He trusted that the right hon. and learned Lord would be explicit on this point. For these reasons he preferred to withdraw his Amendment, and allow the issue to be taken upon that of the hon. and learned Member for the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen; and the course which he should himself afterwards take would depend upon the explanation which the right hon. and learned Lord would give of the intentions of the Government in the matter.


said, he should, of course, abstain as far as possible from offering the same explanation twice over to the Committee upon a subject so important as that brought under the notice of the Committee by his hon. Friend the Member for Greenock. ["Order!"] He asked the indulgence of the Committee while he expressed his obligation to his hon. Friend for the considerate course he had taken.


rose to Order. He understood the hon. Member for Greenock to withdraw his Amendment. [An hon. MEMBER: He never moved it.] Then, he should like to know what question was before the Committee?


said, he only wished to make a remark in courtesy to his hon. Friend.


in rising to move, as an Amendment, in page 2, to leave out lines 5, 6, and 7, and insert "Board of Education shall mean the Board of Education for Scotland constituted in terms of this Act," said, that he could not understand how the Representatives of Scotland could allow themselves—and he trusted they would not allow themselves—to be influenced in this matter by the consideration that any Amendment for the establishment of a Scotch Board would be regarded as fatal by the Government. It was their duty to make as good a Bill of that as possible, and to make it as palatable to the people of Scotland who were to be placed under its operation as they could, consistently with justice to other parts of the United Kingdom. The question was a very important one, being neither more nor less than this—What was the proper body to superintend education in Scotland? Was it to be a Board in Scotland, or a branch of the Privy Council in England? The people of Scotland were unanimous in the answer they had given to that alternative. The Scotch people required that there should be a Board of Education established in Scotland for the purpose of carrying out the Bill. What was the evidence of that? The fact that the Established Church, the Free Church, the United Presbyterians, however they might differ upon other matters, were all agreed upon that point; so, also, were the Universities of Scotland, and surely they were bodies well qualified to express an opinion on the subject. They thought that if there was not a Board of Education established in Scotland, the system of education which had hitherto existed in their parish schools would become deteriorated to such an extent that the people would no longer derive the blessings from these schools that Scotland had hitherto enjoyed. Then, all the schoolmasters of Scotland were clearly of that opinion. They had Petitions from 220,000 people who required a Scotch Board as one of the essential provisions of the Bill; while they had not 4,000 who approved of the Bill generally without such a provision. In 1854 and. 1855 a Bill was introduced by Her Majesty's then Government, containing a provision for a Board of Education in Scotland very much of the same representative character as that provided for in his Motion. The Scotch Commission was, however, appointed in 1864, who took two or three years to consider this question. They were men of different ecclesiastical bias, and were unanimous in the opinion that there should be a Board of Education for Scotland, and they recommended that it should be of a representative character. Then, again, the Bill of 1869 was introduced by the Duke of Argyll in the House of Lords—and he (Mr. Gordon) ventured to say there was no person better entitled to express an opinion of the feelings of the people of Scotland on the subject of education than that nobleman. Well, the Duke of Argyll's Bill contained a representative Board, and his Grace said he had heard differences of opinion as to whether the Board should be vested in a Department of the Government or in a separate Board, and for his part he could not conceive that any doubt should be entertained on the subject by those who had looked into the matter; and it was for that reason that the Commissioners expressed their opinion that the Board should be a representative one, embracing various great interests, including the county and burgh interests; that of higher education represented by two members chosen by the Universities of Scotland; the schoolmasters themselves by one; and that two should be nominated by the Crown. The question was ultimately settled by admitting the principle that there ought to be a Scotch Board, but that the members should be nominated by the Crown. When the Bill came down to this House, however, there was an enlargement of the members, and it was proposed that some of them should not be paid. [Mr. M'LAREN: The Law Officers of the Crown were added.] He had not the least objection to that; but was of opinion that it would be hopeless to expect that the right hon. and learned Lord would have the time to discharge any of the duties. In the House the principle of a Scotch Board was supported by the Lord Advocate of the day (Lord Moncreiff), though he expressed his regret at the alteration by the present right hon. and learned Lord, and by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Education, who pointed out at the same time that it would be advantageous to have the two matters of the administration of the Parliamentary grant and the money derived from the rates kept perfectly distinct. In England schools were under the administration of the Privy Council, and the reason for that was that the original administration of the National Schools in England was under the Privy Council. One reason why Scotch schools should not be subjected to the management of the Privy Council was, that the system of education in country schools in Scotland differed essentially from the system of education in England, and so difficult had it been for the Privy Council to work the Scotch system that in 1862 it was resolved that the Revised Code should not extend to Scotland. In fact, the feeling in Scotland was strong against the adoption of the Revised Code of 1862, and till the present time the schools in Scotland were under the Code of 1860. Now, some of those who were educated under the Scotch system had distinguished themselves by getting the highest position in the English Universities, and last year a gentleman who had been educated at a parish school, and had become a professor of Hebrew, was selected as one of those who sat on the revision of the Bible. But the Privy Council system, which was a mere elementary system, would, if applied to Scotland, have a most deleterious effect on the education of the schools, and that was the opinion of men of all kinds of politics; and in confirmation of that opinion, he had received representations from Professors and from Universities, who felt satisfied that unless there was a Board in Scotland, the people of that country would be subjected to very prejudicial influences in regard to that education which they had hitherto enjoyed. But what was the case with respect to Ireland? Ireland could make herself heard; her Members always stood up for her rights, and he wished very much that Scotch Members would imitate their example, and give effect to the opinions—the unanimous opinions of the people of Scotland. A Commission was issued three or four years ago to inquire into the state of education in Ireland, and to report whether any improvement could be made in the Board who administered it. That Board consisted of 20 members—10 Protestants and 10 Roman Catholics—and, with respect to it, the Commission reported that they had come to the conclusion that, at present, it was the best plan to preserve the Board as a representative and consultative body. It had been said that there would be a jealousy on the part of other Boards in Scotland, on account of the formation of a new one for this purpose; but the Report of the Committee of the Poor Law of Scotland expressed its highest satisfaction at the existing Board of Supervision, and there was even some notion of extending its powers, if found expedient. He therefore asked why, if the House of Commons trusted Irishmen with more than £400,000 a-year for the purposes of national education, they could not trust Scotchmen as well? They did not want to interfere with the financial affairs of the Privy Council; but what they wanted was that they should have—as they had always hitherto had—a managing body at the head of education in Scotland. It would be an injustice to Scotland if it did not get a Board; and he should like to know what there was to prevent the Government from returning to the principle on which they proposed to legislate in 1869, and their predecessors in 1854? He was asking the Committee now to vote on the question that there should be a Scotch Board, and it would be a subsequent question how that Board should be constituted. He, however, would propose that the Board should be constituted as follows:—Two persons to be chosen by the conveners of counties, as representatives of the country; two persons to be chosen by the Provosts of Royal and Parliamentary burghs; one by each of the four Universities; one by the Educational Institute of Scotland; three by Her Majesty, one of whom should act as Chairman; and he had no objection to add the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General of Scotland as ex officio members. But he was now asking the Committee to vote not upon the constitution of the Board, but upon the question that there should be such a Board in Scotland, leaving its constitution to be afterwards determined by the House, and, in his view, it would be unjust to withhold it. He regretted that he was obliged to bring the Motion on without having had the advantage of hearing the views of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate upon it—the forms of the House not permitting him to give such explanation on the second reading. He could not help thinking that the right hon. and learned Lord would be in favour of adopting a principle which he adopted in 1869, and which was adopted by his predecessor, and adopt his Amendment, which was— That such proposal shall mean a Board of Education in Scotland, constituted in the terms of this Act. Hon. Members, however, would not, by voting for the Amendment, pledge themselves to the approval of the constitution of the Board as he should thereafter propose it; and all he wanted was an affirmation of the principle that the Scotch system of education should be watched over and managed by an Education Board in Scotland. That was a proposal which ought, at least, to receive the sanction of Scotchmen. He had every confidence that the fair play of Englishmen would give effect to it; and as to Irishmen, he should be very much astonished if they did not support a principle which, if they opposed it in the case of Scotland, they could not expect to see applied to their own country. The right hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.

Amendment proposed, In page 2, line 5, to leave out from the words "Scotch Education Department," to the words "in Scotland," in line 7, and insert the words, "Board of Education shall mean the Board of Education for Scotland constituted in terms of this Act."—(Mr. Gordon.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."


said, although the Amendment had reference merely to a definition, he admitted that that was a convenient mode of raising a discussion on the question at issue between the Government and his hon. and learned Friend. He, however, could have wished that his hon. and learned Friend had stated what were the duties which he intended the Board which he contemplated should perform; for he doubted whether his hon. and learned Friend quite appreciated the vastness of the alteration which he proposed. On the other hand, the scheme of the Bill was, he trusted, quite intelligible; for, speaking generally, it established a system of national as distinguished from a denominational system of education. Its great leading features were—First, that the money voted by the Imperial Parliament for national education should, in Scotland as in England, be administered by the Government and not by a statutory Board, irresponsible to the Government, and for whose proceedings therefore the Government could not be responsible to Parliament. Secondly, that a popularly-elected school board should be forthwith established in every parish and burgh, and that the duties of each school board should be to manage all public rate-supported schools within its district, to provide such additional public school accommodation as should be necessary within the district, and to impose and levy such local school rates as were necessary. Thirdly, that there should be one uniform system of management, applicable without distinction to all public rate-supported schools, whether existing before the Act, or established under the Act, to supply ascertained deficiencies. Fourthly, that in the teaching of religion there should be no further interference by legislative enactment than should be necessary to secure that the teaching should be at such hours as should not interrupt or interfere with the secular instruction, and that those who did not desire their children to receive religious teaching should be able to withdraw them without losing any part of the secular teaching in the schools. These were the great features of the Government system, to which generally the House assented by passing the second reading; whereas the Amendment now proposed, viewing it as a key-note to the series of Amendments of his hon. and learned Friend, embodied another system of education, not only not in harmony with the Bill, but altogether inconsistent with at least three of the essential features he had mentioned. His hon. and learned Friend, in fact, proposed that Imperial money, voted for national education, although in England administered by the Government, should in Scotland be administered by a statutory Board, having an independent statutory existence, not responsible to the Government, not controlled by the Government, not represented in Parliament, and not responsible to Parliament. The Bill of 1854, which was lauded by his hon. and learned Friend, contained no provision analogous to that; neither did the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners on Education, or the measure introduced by the Duke of Argyll in 1869 contain anything at all resembling it. In fact, there was no precedent whatever for Parliament committing the administration of something like £250,000 of public money—and the fair share of Scotland in the education grant annually voted could not be far short of that amount—to a statutory Board not responsible to Parliament, and whose duties were defined by the Legislature. The intention of the Government scheme was that the Scotch Education Department should be a Government Department, responsible to Parliament for the manner in which it performed its duties; whereas under his hon. and learned Friend's scheme the Committee of Council would have no right to exercise any judgment in the matter, but would simply have to hand over the £250,000 to a Scotch Office, to be distributed according to the rates, and under the conditions contained in the Minutes of the Scotch Board of Education, and Parliament would, in that case, have no control whatever over the spending of the money. By another Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend it was proposed, in very emphatic terms, that the Board of Education should devise an Educational Code for Scotland, and should from time to time make rules and regulations for the conduct of the business, and so on.


observed, that the rules and regulations would have to lie on the Table of the House for a month.


said, that was true; but he did not see how the House was to give effect to an adverse opinion on the subject. It would have no power over the statutory Board, and if the House of Commons said it did not approve of the rules and regulations, the answer might be—"We don't care about that; the duty of framing rules and regulations has been committed to us." A stranger proposal than that he had never heard of, and he believed that nothing of the kind had ever been submitted to the House before. His hon. and learned Friend said over and over again that it was not fair to Scotland to commit the management of Scotch schools to a department of the Privy Council. Well, there was no such provision in the Bill; for the management of the schools was committed to the school boards in Scotland, and to no one else, and nothing whatever connected with the management of the schools in Scotland was committed to the Privy Council. He rather thought his hon. and learned Friend was endeavouring to establish denominational schools rather than the national system which the Government wished to create, for one part of his scheme was, that there should be no school board established in any parish until the Board of Education had determined that it was necessary; and it was not to determine that it was necessary, until a sufficient time had been given to supply an existing deficiency by denominational efforts; and even although the deficiency had not been supplied, it was not to order a school board to be established, if it thought the people of the district were in course of supplying it. Now, the Government was entirely opposed to that. They thought the proper course—and it was a leading feature of their measure—was to establish immediately a school board not only in every burgh, but in every parish, and to enable the Government to apply a spur to the local bodies if they were negligent in their duties, and dilatory in supplying local deficiencies. The Government always being amenable to the jurisdiction of Parliament, could not at all consent to abandon their scheme in order to allow it to be superseded by one so essentially opposed to it in principle as that of his hon. and learned Friend, although they knew it was consistent with his preference for denominational education.


rose to Order, and observed that the Lord Advocate was discussing 20 clauses all in one. He wished to know what they might expect if other hon. Members of the Committee were allowed to adopt the same course?


said, it was impossible to discuss the Bill satisfactorily, or even intelligibly, without comparing the two schemes. His hon. and learned Friend had referred to what he had termed "the multitude of signatures" to the Petitions against the Bill. He should have thought that his hon. and learned Friend had more knowledge of the real value of signatures of that sort than to refer to them as of significance in the matter now before the Committee. They could all imagine how "multitudes of signatures" had been obtained, and how multitudes of names had been subscribed by the same hand, in many instances on the statement that there was a proposal to drive the Bible from the schools. Let them get a servant-girl to write the names of her brothers and sisters to the statement which his hon. and learned Friend knew to be false, and this was taken as the opinion of the "people of Scotland" in favour of a statutory Board. Indeed, to talk on this matter at length would be simply idle. An overwhelming majority of the towns of Scotland had petitioned in favour of the Bill, and the number of signatures thus appended were many-fold more than those against it. He knew the manner in which the Petitions against the Bill were hawked about the country, and how it was said—"Oh! this is petitioning for the Bible;" but he did not intend to waste time by considering the matter any further. His hon. and learned Friend took the case of Ireland as conclusive in favour of his proposal; but was he aware that the Irish system did not exist by Act of Parliament? There were no school boards in Ireland. There was only one Board, consisting of 20 members, of whom 10 were Protestants and 10 Roman Catholics, each holding office at the will of the Lord Lieutenant. Would his hon. and learned Friend be content with such a system in Scotland? Were they to have a Board nominated by the Government, and con- sisting of Roman Catholics and Protestants, making allowance for the difference in the ratio of the Roman Catholic population. Considered with reference to Scotland, did his hon. and learned Friend think that that was preferable to the proposal in the Bill now before the Committee? He must here express his thanks to the hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. Grieve) for refraining from pressing his own view on this matter; and he could only say that if it was in accordance with the opinions and feelings of the Representatives of Scotland that there should be a Board there, not to administer the public money, but to perform those duties which would be necessary on the first introduction of that new system, to consult with the local boards in regard to the establishment of schools, he should have no difficulty in assenting to such a proposal. But when he spoke of the administration of the public money he did not apprehend that that money would be embezzled or misappropriated by those to whom it was handed over; but he maintained that the money voted by Parliament for a particular purpose should be administered by a body responsible to Parliament and in the manner most calculated to promote the interest of the country. His hon. Friend had said the Privy Council was not to be trusted; and his reason for saying that was, because the Privy Council, in deference to what he represented to be the wishes and opinions of the people of Scotland, had abstained from applying to Scotland the Revised Code which they made applicable to England. He (the Lord Advocate) must say he proposed to make it more Scotch than now, for he proposed to constitute a Scotch Department in the Privy Council, which would act with reference to Scotland particularly, and be guided by the feelings and the reasonable wishes and opinions of the people of that country. For these reasons, he should oppose the Amendment.


said, he must acknowledge that he had all along been one of a small minority who thought that the Privy Council would manage matters better than a Scotch Board of Education would be likely to do; but he now found that at least nine-tenths of the people of Scotland were in favour of the establishment of a Scotch Board at Edinburgh, and, in deference to that opinion, therefore, he should support the Amendment. He was opposed to the 3rd clause of the Bill, which authorized the Privy Council to appoint such officers in Scotland as they might deem necessary to perform the duties connected with the Department which might be deemed proper and convenient to be performed there, subject to the control of the Department. As far as expense was concerned, such officers would cost the public quite as much as a central Scotch Board at Edinburgh, of which only the chairman and the secretary would be paid members, and those gentlemen, whoever they might be, would carry about in their pockets the whole power of the Privy Council, and would do their work quite as efficiently as the mysterious representatives of the Privy Council. He had always stated his belief that a Local Scotch Board would never be intrusted with the expenditure of public money; and, indeed, the example that had been furnished by the administration of a sum of £416,000, which was intrusted last year to an Irish Board, ought to be a warning to that House not to fall into the error again of intrusting large sums of public money to local bodies. He had no desire that the measure should be rejected—on the contrary, he had accepted it in good faith, and all the Amendments that he had placed upon the Paper were such as were calculated not to alter its nature, but merely to improve it in matters of detail. He would remind the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate that he had made a mistake when he stated that the vast majority of the Petitions presented in reference to this measure were in its favour, as the exact contrary was the fact.


said, he must maintain that the proposed Board would be sufficiently responsible to Parliament. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate objected so strongly to a statutory Board administering public funds that one would think no such thing as a statutory Board, having the administration of public funds, existed in Scotland; there were, however, such Boards, one of which—the Board of Supervision for Relief of the Poor—expended £10,000 a-year for the medical relief of the poor; yet that appeared to be the great objection to the Amendment. At that side of the House, he must say that they were not wedded to any particular constitution of a Board, and they would be satisfied with an intermediate Board between the people of Scotland and the Privy Council, or a board analogous to that proposed in the Bill of 1869. Their anxious desire was, that the standard of education in Scotland should not be lowered; and with regard to that, they had not faith in the administration of the Privy Council with respect to Scotch education. It was a subject of great disappointment to him that the Government had met the proposal in so hostile a spirit; for if he could trust the rumours which were heard out-of-doors, the carrying of the Amendments would be held to be fatal to the Bill, and that he regarded as a threat which ought not to have been used.


said, there was an old saying, that "he who paid the piper had a right to call the tune;" and for his part, he did not think they could constitute a Board so entirely above everything else that it could be allowed to spend the public money without the intervention of the Privy Council. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Graham Montgomery) seemed to be in favour of an intermediate Board, while the hon. and learned Member for the University of Glasgow (Mr. Gordon) spoke at one time of a Board which should be independent of the Privy Council, and at another of a Board which should be subject to it—in fact, there seemed to be some confusion in the mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman. For his own part, he thought the proposal that an independent Board should be intrusted with the spending of such large sums of money was one that ought not to be listened to. He thought that such a Board was unnecessary, as the people of Scotland would have their local Boards to come between them and the Privy Council, and they did not want a central Board at Edinburgh to do as all Edinburgh Boards did—try to bring all Scotland to the level of Edinburgh. If they were asked whether they would be ruled from Downing Street or from Princes Street, they would say the former—for they disliked the interference of Edinburgh and the Parliament House party in their local affairs. Moreover, if the proposed Board were appointed what would it do? It would try to make business for itself. And how would it do so? By perpetually quarrelling with the local Boards. At the same time, if there was to be a sort of intermediate Board, as the hon. Baronet opposite called it, he did not think it would be able to do much mischief. He must say it was a matter of some surprise to him to hear so much praise from the other side of the Bill of 1869, considering who the people were who took part in throwing it out. Probably, if the present Bill were defeated, they would hear next year, or the year after, what an excellent Bill that of 1872 was. He hoped the cause of education in Scotland would not be allowed to suffer by reason of a wrangle about a Scotch Education Board.


said, he believed that if there was one thing more than another in which the people of Scotland were agreed it was this—that if they were to have a national system of education for Scotland, it should be managed and administered by a body of men who should be resident in Scotland, and not in London. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had treated very lightly the Petitions which had been presented; but he (Mr. M'Lagan), as a Member of the Committee by which the Petitions were examined, could state that he had gone through the Petitions, and found that they were all but unanimous on the subject of having a Scotch central Board. It was said by his hon. Friend who had just spoken (Mr. Carnegie) that such a Board would create duties for themselves by quarrelling with the local Boards. It would have no need to do so, as his hon. Friend would see if he read the Bill. There was ample work for the board to do, and those duties could be far more efficiently performed by a body resident in Scotland than by a section of the Privy Council. A London Board, moreover, would not for one thing be amenable to the public opinion of Scotland; for a section of the Privy Council would be entirely under the influence of those Members of the Privy Council who had to do with English education. He had himself written letters to the Privy Council, and received replies stating that "My Lords" desired this, and "My Lords" thought that; and he afterwards found out that "My Lords" had never desired or thought either this or that, never having seen the letters at all. He hoped, therefore, they would not have the conduct of Scotch education handed over to some supercilious subordinate or consequential official, and against such a course he, for one, should protest. He was, therefore, prepared to support the Board intimated in the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for the University of Glasgow, if the Government did not give them a distinct promise—far more distinct than the Lord Advocate had given them—as to the nature and character of the Board of which he had spoken; that it would be appointed immediately; and that it would not be a permissive Board, but a Board that should be appointed to carry out the Bill.


said, that the question really lay between the choice of the authority of the Privy Council or the local Board, and he had no hesitation in saying that he should be very much afraid of the infliction of such a body as that proposed by his hon. and learned Friend opposite. What he wanted, however, was that Her Majesty's Government should give to Scotch Members, who were deeply and really interested in this question, a more definite explanation than they had yet had of the proposal they were making—a more exact definition of the functions which it was proposed the ruling body should exercise, and upon that point Government ought certainly to give the Committee satisfaction. Why, if schools were to be established all over the country, should their direction not be subjected to the local authority or the authorities of the place? In the Bill there ought to be more consideration for the great difficulty, and, at the same time, the great importance of managing local affairs; and therefore he should in Committee, when those local authorities came to be constituted, endeavour to make them as efficient as possible, in order to the due discharge of their duties. With respect to the powers proposed to be conferred upon the Privy Council, he looked upon them as most dangerous; and, besides that, there were other provisions in the Bill—especially those as to the size of parishes—which were most absurd. Then there was a most delicate question as to how educational grants were to be given in aid of individual schools. The Scotch Members had a right to look to that, and it was for the Representatives of Scotland to stand between the people and the Government on a great educational question like that. He could not conceal from himself the fact that when this Bill was first introduced into the House there was a great and sensitive feeling of uneasiness that Scotland should suffer in this education scheme. He, however, trusted that Her Majesty's Government were fully alive to the great cause of education which really lay in their hands, and that in anything they might do with respect to the public schools of Scotland they would not lower, but, on the contrary, elevate them. Above all, let them maintain the standard of the schools.


said, the proposal of his hon. Friend, if carried out, would ensure plenty of work for the Board to do, even if it was only in complying with the recommendations of the Commissioners of Education. There was no doubt that the whole people of Scotland desired that there should be a local Board to administer the Act proposed to be passed, and it was not intended that the Board should interfere with the duties of the Privy Council in reference to the Parliamentary grant. He therefore trusted that the House would accede to the wishes of the people of Scotland, and adopt the Amendment proposed.


said, he could not understand what was the difficulty which surrounded the matter. As far as he could understand the point, what they had to decide was not whether there was to be a Scotch Board, composed of different bodies, but whether there was to be a Scotch Department of Education in the Privy Council; for if the Amendment were carried, it would altogether abolish the Scotch Department of the Privy Council, a result he could by no means approve. And however reluctant he might be to oppose the progress of the Bill, yet if the Amendment had simply affirmed the necessity for a Scotch Board he should have voted for it. He believed this Scotch Education Bill was the best Bill ever brought forward by any Government for the improvement of Scotch education, for although nine or ten Bills had been brought into Parliament in the last 20 years, yet no Bill had commanded such universal support as the present one. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had underrated the feeling in Scotland with respect to the local Boards, because the feeling of Scotland was in favour of their maintenance. He should be very sorry to interfere with the Bill, because he believed it was framed with a view to the best interests of Scotland; but still, he thought that there ought to be some central point of communication between the various local Boards and the Privy Council, and therefore he hoped the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would give an assurance that the institution of some central Board of that kind would be conceded.


said, that there was almost a universal feeling in Scotland in favour of a Scotch Board of some kind, and of an efficient character, and the people there would not be satisfied with the Privy Council having the predominant influence in respect to Scotch education. The first objection he had to the appointment of Privy Councillors to administer education in Scotland was that such appointments would virtually be life appointments, because anyone who was made a member of the Privy Council for a particular purpose could not be put aside without casting a stigma on his character. The management of education by means of a Privy Council was totally at variance with the theory on which the Scotch people conducted education, for they held that the proceedings of the managers of education should be in public, and be subject to every sort of investigation. Another serious objection to the administration of education in Scotland by means of Privy Councillors was that, meeting at a distance, it could not be easily consulted, and thus the benefit of a Department within reach of the people and placed in Edinburgh would not be enjoyed. Again, such a Department would naturally acquire narrow London or provincial views, the officials would be supreme, and there would be a predominance of the Episcopalian element. He contended that the 25th clause of the Treaty of Union provided that the body directing education should remain within the kingdom of Scotland; and, therefore, if this change were carried out, by the same justice they ought to transfer the Irish Board to London. This proceeding would cause estrangement between the people of Scotland and the Liberals of the Empire, and end in a result he should deeply regret.


said, he should most certainly vote against the Amendment, and must express a hope that the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would state very clearly what he intended to do with regard to an Education Board for Scotland. He could assure his right hon. and learned Friend that he had no sympathy with the plan proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gordon), or rather with such a Board as he had indicated. Indeed, he (Mr. Crum-Ewing) would rather have no Bill at all than accept such a Board, for he believed it would be most detrimental to Scotland. But he thought that such a Board as the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had indicated would have the approval of Scotland. There could, however, be no doubt that a strong feeling existed in Scotland in favour of a Scotch Board: it had met with the support of most of the Scotch Members, and he himself had received a resolution passed by the corporation of the burgh which he represented, approving generally of the Bill, but strongly praying for a Scotch Board.


said, that in answer to the appeal which had been made to him, he wished to state more explicitly than he had done what he intended with reference to a temporary Board to aid in organizing the new system in Scotland. What he had intended to state was that he should be prepared, if it appeared to be in accordance with the general wish of the Scotch Representatives, to assent—not, however, without qualification—to the proposal which was embodied in the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. M'Lagan). In the Amendment, his hon. Friend had inadvertently put upon the temporary Board all the duties which by the Bill were put upon the Scotch Department of the Privy Council. His hon. Friend stated that his intention was not to interfere with the Government in the administration of the Imperial money, but to leave that duty entirely to the Government, to be performed according to the rules and regulations made by the Government under its ordinary Parliamentary responsibility. With that explanation, and referring to Clause 3 of the Bill upon which the Amendment of his hon. Friend was proposed, he understood that Amendment to be—and it was in this sense that he was prepared to assent to it—that instead of the merely permissive language which was used in the clause— "It shall be lawful for," there should be substituted imperative words— The Scotch Education Department shall, with the consent of the Lords of Her Majesty's Treasury, immediately after the passing of this Act, appoint such officers in Scotland, two at least of whom shall hold or shall have held the office of Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools, to perform the duties connected with the said Department which it shall be deemed proper and convenient to perform there. Then his hon. Friend's Amendment proceeded to state that they should continue in office for at least five years, and for such longer time as may be deemed expedient, and should be called the Board of Education in Scotland. The object of a temporary Board was, of course, to perform those duties which arose at the first starting of the measure. Those duties would be found specified in clauses from 24 to 31 inclusive, and again to a considerable extent in Clause 23. The Government thought that they might all be performed within a period of three years, and he should therefore propose that this temporary Board should be constituted, in the first instance, for a period of three years. With regard to the question upon which they were immediately asked to vote, he wished to say that the Amendment was to prevent the constitution of the temporary Board, and instead thereof to constitute a statutory Board.


said, he must confess that the announcement which had just been made by the Lord Advocate that he would allow a temporary Board to be appointed for three years, after having, in the first instance, altogether declined to have one in Scotland, had taken him by surprise, and thought that tactics of that sort in regard to so important a matter were discreditable to Her Majesty's Government. Hon. Members opposite who represented Scotch constituencies knew that the whole voice of Scotland was against them in the matter, but they were divided between their allegiance to the Ministry and their duty to their constituents. The concession, such as it was, seemed to be both a condemnation of the original scheme of the Government, and a confession that Scotchmen in Scotland were the proper persons to administer the Bill; but if the Privy Council were to be entrusted with it ultimately, it would be better and more consistent that they should undertake it from the beginning. Her Majesty's Government ought not to take an issue like that, and make a compromise, but a distinct issue, upon which they might test their strength, and secure a majority if they could.


said, he did not think that there was anything in the conduct of the Lord Advocate of which there was reason to complain. He did not know what would be the full effect of the concession now made; but, at the same time, he thought it would have been more graceful if it had been made at an earlier period. They were told that if they voted for this Amendment they must do so for all the other Amendments of the hon. and learned Gentleman who moved it, but he did not see how that followed, because he agreed with the hon. and learned Member in this Amendment; but did not in the others. The Lord Advocate appeared to ridicule the Petitions sent to the House from Scotland on this subject. He (Mr. S. Aytoun) did not think the right hon. and learned Lord was justified in doing so, because, unquestionably, the Scotch people felt strongly on this point. They had a firm conviction that, contrary to the practice in England, under their own system it was possible for the poorest boy to rise in life and attain eminence in the learned professions on account of the facilities which existed, allowing him to pass from one school to another of a higher grade, and that those facilities would cease to exist if a Scotch Board were not vested with the control of education in that country. They must be careful how they interfered with that impression. Although he did not coincide with the hon. and learned Member for the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen in respect to his other Amendments, he should vote with him on this.


said, the hon. Member who had just spoken had argued in one sense and intended to vote in the other, thereby imitating the conduct of the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren), who, after having strongly supported the proposal of the Lord Advocate, finished by saying he should vote for the Amendment. There was some comfort in that, however, for if all who spoke against it by the same rule voted for it, the Bill would receive more support than it deserved. The right hon. and learned Lord was very reasonable in granting the concession he had, for he was awkwardly situated, being taunted by hon. Members on his own side for refusing to grant any concession, while if he did, he was immediately set upon by hon. Members opposite for having granted too much. He would remind the noble Lord (Lord Henry Scott) that the right hon. and learned Lord had distinctly stated early in the evening that he would assent to the establishment of a temporary Board in Scotland—though not for the purpose of administering finance—if that were the wish of the Scotch Members generally. He (Sir Robert Anstruther) did not, however, share the feeling of some hon. Members who appeared to think that the Privy Council was some monster which would swallow up the whole educational system of Scotland, and make the Scotch people subject to pains and penalties which for 300 years Scotland had escaped; and if the Privy Council framed rules obnoxious to the Scotch people, it would be easy for their Representatives in Parliament to object to them and insist on their being modified. The Bill, as it stood, would leave the people free to manage their schools as they liked by means of local Boards; whereas the tenor of the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Glasgow University was hostile to the principle of the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that what he wanted was that the people of Scotland should manage their own affairs; but the fact was, that he was afraid to give the Scotch people the management of their own affairs—he wanted to manage their affairs for them by means of a central authority at Edinburgh. Now, he was not very fond of Edinburgh Boards, which often worked unsatisfactorily, and had no one responsible for them in that House, and after the liberal spirit manifested by the Lord Advocate, he hoped the Government would be strongly supported in resisting the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend opposite.


said, he believed nine-tenths of the Scotch people, deeming themselves entitled to credit for the way in which they had managed their educational affairs, objected to the transfer of that management to a central authority in England, a country which had been much less successful educationally. He was glad, therefore, the Lord Advocate had yielded to the preponderance of Scotch opinion, and though, on coming down to the House, he was told the success of the Amendment would be fatal to the Bill, he had had too long a Parliamentary experience to set much value on such threats. The Lord Advocate's concession, for granting which he had been taunted by hon. Members opposite, altered the whole character of the Bill, for, as he understood—though understandings were not much in favour just now—a Board was to be created for three years to put the machinery of the measure into operation. He wished to know, whether in the 32 clauses relative to the chief authority this new body was to be inserted? If so, of what use would the Education Department for Scotland be? Moreover, the new body, he presumed, if it was to be efficient, must be paid. Now, the Bill already provided for salaries for the Education Department, and he should object to the country being saddled with two paid bodies. In financial matters the Privy Council ought to be paramount; and except when it interfered with educational machinery and insisted on unreasonably expensive schools and buildings—matters with which, from its necessary ignorance of the customs and circumstances of localities in Scotland, it was not competent to deal—the existing arrangement worked satisfactorily. He saw no reason, therefore, why any alteration should be made on this financial point. As regarded the new Commission proposed by Government, he gave no opinion as to its constitution; he could not approve the machinery proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gordon); and he presumed the Lord Advocate would intimate at the proper time the manner in which he would carry out the understanding which had been come to. In the meantime, he could not agree to a clause which set up an Education Department which, under the altered circumstances of the case, seemed to be unnecessary. He must, therefore, vote with the hon. and learned Gentleman as regarded the omission of the clause, but against him as regarded the words which he proposed to substitute. He should tell the Government to go on with their Bill—to alter the subsequent clauses in accordance with the new plan of a Commission, and then, upon the Report being brought up to adapt the clause now under discussion to the new machinery.


said, he was not surprised at the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate making the concession he had done after the meeting of Scotch Members that had been held recently to consider this Bill; and he was pleased to find that the right hon. and learned Lord's attempt to pass this measure through the House must have taught him not to be too high-handed, but willing to grant concessions. The right hon. and learned Lord had made a great mistake in departing from the rule of his predecessor, who invariably called together hon. Members from both sides of the House to consult respecting Scotch Business, and the result was that he had succeeded in passing through Parliament many very useful Scotch Bills. The right hon. and learned Lord, moreover, should not ignore the fact that hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House were just as anxious to pass a good Scotch educational measure as were those who sat on the Liberal benches; and although there were differences of opinion as to dealing not only generally with the question itself, but with its branches, yet he should have consulted them on the subject. They must have—and he trusted they would have—a central Board sitting in Scotland, in order that the good old system of education by which the schools in Scotland had been managed successfully for the last 300 years might be preserved, and, if possible, amplified into a national system that would in its turn last a considerable time longer than the old one ever had. If their wishes should be defeated in that House, they must go to "another place," where he trusted there would be found sufficient patriotism to give to Scotland a good sound religious education.


said, that in consequence of the concessions that had been made that night by the Lord Advocate, he intended to vote for the Government on this question. Many hon. Members on both sides of the House must have been perplexed by the term Scotch Education Department which the clause before them was intended to establish. For his own part, he could not say whether that body was to be a reality or a myth. Viewed by the light of the 7th clause, under which they were empowered to merge half the boroughs of Scotland in the parishes, they would certainly appear to be a most formidable body. In other respects in which the action of this body might be looked for it was a myth. He was thoroughly puzzled as to what this Education Department was. Did it mean an ordinary Committee of Council on Education like that applied to England? No doubt it did; and if it did, the Bill ought to have said it. Such a Committee scarcely interfered with the responsibility of the Minister of Education, who was directly responsible to the House. There were 80 distinct parts of the Bill in which this department came in as a buffer between this House and the Minister of Education. There had been in Scotland several centuries of education; traditions, habits, and standards had grown up which were unknown to the Committee of Council; Scotch interests and wants ought therefore to be represented. He saw advantage in a central administration in London directly responsible to the House, if it were regulated by statutory limitations. That there was a necessity for this could be seen from the 253 Amendments put on the Paper by Scotch Members, while, as the result of months of criticism, the Government had put down only three trifling Amendments. This did not satisfy Scotch Members that their local wants would be considered; but to-night the Lord Advocate had shown himself so conciliatory that they were encouraged to hope he would accept other Amendments. What he wished for, and what the Lord Advocate had offered, was a Board or a Commission which would study local wants in Scotland; it was this representation of their wants which the people of Scotland desired. He was satisfied with the promise given, on the condition that the Commission was not to be constituted under the 3rd clause of the Bill, which did not give Parliament any opportunity of considering what was to be the constitution of the Board. He understood the Lord Advocate to promise a new clause, so as to give Parliament an opportunity of considering the constitution of this Commission; and with that understanding he should have great pleasure in recording his vote for the Government.


said, the hon. Member who had just down (Dr. Lyon Playfair) had shadowed out a special Scotch Department to be established in London, a sort of Committee of Council; and he should like, therefore, to know what this special Scotch Department was to be? According to the Interpretation Clause, "Scotch Education Department" meant any Committee of Council appointed by Her Majesty for Scotland. Now, the Committee of Council really consisted of the President and Vice President, except on rare and special occasions, just as the Local Government Board also consisted of its President. Was it supposed, therefore, there was to be created for Scotland something different from that which existed for England? Was there to be another Vice President who was to be responsible for Scotland? If so, what was to be his position with respect to the Board to be established in Scotland? The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. M'Lagan) proposed an Amendment which was practically the same as that proposed by his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gordon)—that "Board of Education" should be substituted for "Department," and the hon. Member further proposed that the Board should comprise persons who had been Inspectors, and that they should be paid; but by this vote they were asked by the Lord Advocate to establish the myth, the unreality, described by the hon. Member for the Edinburgh University, which was to have everything taken from it for at least three years, except the administration of funds. At present, the Committee had nothing before them except the promise of the Lord Advocate that if Scotch Members wished it he would establish a Board. What it was to be might be known to Scotch Members on the other side of the House who had attended a secret conclave to which they were exclusively invited; but it was not known to others, and it was the duty of the Lord Advocate to have put on the Paper Amendments which would show clearly what it was upon which they were about to vote. By that conduct the Government were asking their opponents for a degree of confidence which they had no right to demand even from their supporters. The Department which was to have carried out the machinery of the Bill was abrogated in favour of a Board such as was proposed by the hon. Member for Linlithgow.


said, he adopted the hon. Member's (Mr. M'Lagan's) Amendment with the understanding that a temporary Board should not have the administration of Imperial money.


, in continuation, said, that the Bill would bring Scotland under the Revised Code. ["No, no!"] Then there was to be a separate Code for Scotland? However that might be, it appeared from what he could gather that the machinery of the Bill was to be carried out by a Scotch Education Department sitting in London, and not by a Board in Edinburgh? ["No, no!"] Clearly, unless he were placed in the position of those who attended the conclave, he could not understand what was proposed. The Board was accepted; what on earth was it to do? There was an "understanding" among hon. Members opposite; but understandings were in discredit at present. The right hon. and learned Lord had said he would strike out "Department" and insert "Board."["No, no!"] Then he was at a loss as to what he should say with regard to the right hon. and learned Lord's statement. The right hon. and learned Lord, according to his last interpretation, accepted that Amendment, except with reference to laying down the terms of the Code, and the administration of the money. Therefore, there was nothing left for the Board to do except to establish schools in Scotland, and yet when he said that a few minutes ago he was contradicted. He could not help saying that the right hon. and learned Lord ought to have stated on paper what his intentions were. Now, if the administration of the money and the framing of the Code were to be left to the Committee of Council, what need was there of the 2nd clause, which provided that the persons employed in the Education Department should have salaries? Under the present system the Committee of Council had been responsible for the payment of the money to schools in Scotland and for making a Code for Scotland, because that country was under the old Code, and yet they asked Parliament to appoint a salaried Board at Edinburgh to perform the only other work they had to do. This was an extraordinary and anomalous proposition. In the middle of a debate the Government called on the House to take a new step and to trust to them to do something at a future period; but in voting for his hon. and learned Friend's Amendment he was practically voting for that which the Government themselves required to carry out this scheme.


said, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford would not have been so doubtful as to the scheme which was before them if he had referred to the exact terms of the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gordon). He proposed to substitute for the Committee of Council a Board of Education; and the Committee would have first to consider whether they would like to have established a Scotch Education Department. It was not the fact that the Committee of Council on Education was a myth or sham. No doubt the Lord President and the Vice President were responsible to Parliament for the distribution of the money; but when any very important question had to be considered, they called the Committee together, and took their opinion and acted upon it. Such Committee was a very different one from any Committee of the Local Government Board. They thought that it would be more satisfactory to have a separate Committee of Council for Scotland, and they proposed that the Scotch Education Department should distribute the Imperial fund for Scotland through the Lord President and Vice President. It was also proposed that the work of putting the Act into operation should be done by that Department. The Amendment now before them, however, proposed that all this work should be done by a statutory Board, and that the Board should distribute the Imperial fund. He did not think, however, that it would be for the advantage of education in Scotland that it should be placed under the control of an irresponsible body; and, therefore, the Government had endeavoured to ascertain the feeling of Scotch Members upon the point, and it appeared to them that the majority of them did not wish that Imperial money should be distributed by a Board in Edinburgh; but that there was a feeling that the machinery of putting the Act into operation should be entrusted to a body of Scotchmen sitting in Scotland. He thought that what the Government now proposed to do would be a very reasonable way of meeting the wishes of Scotch Members. They proposed, first, to ask the Committee to assent to the appointment of a Scotch Education Department to assist the Lord President and Vice President in the distribution of the money, and afterwards they would provide that the putting the Act into operation should be delegated to a board of Scotchmen having an office in Scotland.


said, he must express his surprise at the proceeding which had taken place in reference to the Amendment, for when they had become cognizant of the feeling of the people of Scotland in favour of a Scotch Board, the Government should have taken the earliest opportunity of saying that they would make concessions; but now they had been told that the fate of the Bill depended upon this Amendment not being passed, and hon. Members having come down under the influence of that threat, the opportunity was taken of making an apparent concession. He thought, however, that that was a concession to which Scotch Members ought not to assent; and he ventured to say that the Scotch Department of the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman had spoken would be a myth—a phantom Board altogether, and it would have no existence except so far as the Privy Council would exercise some control with reference to Money Votes made by Parliament. Instead of that, however, there should be a Board of Education for Scotland, for that was what was involved in the terms used in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Linlithgow, and what he proposed was, that there should be a Board for Education in Scotland, leaving it to the Committee to determine how that Board should be constituted. In 1855 there was such a Board—a representative Board proposed by the Government—and so also in 1869. The Committee would, therefore, observe the difficulty of ascertaining what were the precise limits of this power that was to be created by some subsequent clause of the Lord Advocate, for it appeared to him that they ought not to commit themselves to any proposition on the subject until they saw what kind of Board the Government intended to create for Scotland. Seeing, therefore, that the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had now come forward with a new proposal, without affording them a definite notion of what it was to be, he (Mr. Gordon) would submit that his Amendment ought to be adopted, unless the Government agreed to report Progress until they were prepared to introduce a distinct clause upon the subject.


said, the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Gordon) seemed now only to awaken to the folly of his proposal. Were they going to give the management of Scotch education to an unknown Board, or to a special Board connected with the Government? He (Mr. Craufurd) urged the principle now recognized by the Government in 1869, and the hon. and learned Gentleman, in supporting that principle, entertained a different opinion upon the matter from that which he had at present. There was no foundation for the assertion that had been made, that the Lord Advocate had endeavoured to dictate to the Scotch Members as to what they ought to do upon this subject, for his conduct in the matter had been the reverse of dictatory. He should have preferred a Commission instead of a Board, for the simple reason that he thought in two years it would have little to do; but he had no hesitation in supporting the proposal of the right hon. and learned Lord, as the first advance made by Government to give to the people of Scotland a really responsible administration of its own affairs.


said, it was now proposed by the Government to have a Minister for Scotland to manage Scotch education, and that was what the Scotch people objected to, for they wanted to manage their own system of education. He should therefore vote for the Amendment, because he thought that it would establish that direct control which was so much desired by the people of Scotland.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 253; Noes 197: Majority 56.


said, he would suggest that the Chairman report Progress.


said, he did not wish to go beyond this clause tonight; but he hoped it would be assented to before that course was taken.


said, he was also in favour of reporting Progress, as it would be desirable to insert some words defining the constitution of the proposed Board in Edinburgh, and the Committee should have an opportunity of seeing that definition on the Notice Paper.


said, the noble Lord was under a misapprehension. The clause under consideration was an interpretation clause, and not an enacting clause, and it would be impossible to constitute a Board in such a clause.


said, he would move that Progress be reported, and wished to point out that the wording of this clause in some respects depended upon the constitution of the Board, and therefore it was necessary before settling it to be in possession of the provisions constituting the Board.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Lord Henry Scott.)

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 168; Noes 233: Majority 65.


said, he thought, as they were to meet again to consider that question at 2 o'clock that day, it was necessary that the Government should embody the decision they had come to in some intelligible form. He did not understand legislation by "understandings," nor did he understand our Government being the political agents of President Grant—["Question!"]—but he did understand common sense embodied in plain language, and that he called upon the Lord Advocate to produce to them at 2 o'clock that day for their consideration.


said, without reference to the somewhat singular reasons assigned by the hon. and gallant Baronet, he felt it impossible to press the matter further that night, and therefore he would move to report Progress. The proposal he had to make, and which he had endeavoured to state quite distinctly, with respect to the managing Board would not interfere with the progress of the measure in the meantime.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.