§ Clause 4 (Election of school boards).
§ MR. GORDON
said, the Amendment he was about to move was one of an important character. His proposal was, that in page 3, line 10, the words "parish and" should be omitted, the result of which omission would be that the establishing of the school boards would be confined to burghs. He admitted the propriety of establishing local boards in the burghs, because, while in the parishes there was provision made by statute for the existence of a school or schools—and in some parishes there were three—there was no such statutory provision made for schools in the burghs. Now, the purpose of his Amendment was to exclude the parish schools from the operation of the Bill. At present, there was at least one school in every parish—while in some parishes there were one or two additional schools provided by the heritors, and the management was vested in those who had property substantially to the value of £100 Scots a-year, and the parish minister. There were also schools voluntarily established and supported by the proprietors, who took a deep interest in the educational requirements of the people. These schools were also supported by the different churches. The Church of Scotland had about 1,200 such schools, the Free Church about 600, and the United Presbyterian Church about 45. These were further supplemented by adventure schools, which would scarcely be affected by the operation of the measure now under consideration. In the course of the discussion last night the principle of the Education Act of 1870 1199 was stated to be that existing schools should not be destroyed, but that they should be supplemented by new schools to be established by school boards wherever there was a deficiency of educational means. This was stated in the most distinct manner by the Vice President of the Council. There could, in fact, be no doubt about that principle, and it was said that it was the only safe and proper principle upon which to proceed. His Amendment was calculated to bring this Bill within the lines of the English Act, and to preserve the parish schools, with certain alterations to which he would afterwards refer. These parish schools had done good service towards education in Scotland; but this Bill would abolish them, and destroy their character in every respect. The parish schools were not only sufficient for the educational wants of many of the parishes in Scotland; but they were also distinguished for their efficiency. Of all others, they were the institutions of which Scotchmen might well be proud, and they had afforded the best education for the humbler classes of people. They had been held up as an example to England and other countries, and distinguished foreigners had stated that such admirable institutions did not exist in any other country in the world. Having such valuable schools, therefore, why should they be destroyed, as he maintained they would be, by this Bill? The proposal was not in accordance with the principle of the English Education Act; but even if it were, he would maintain that they had not had sufficient experience of the working of that Act to justify them in altering it. He appealed to Scotch Members to say whether there was not a strong feeling in Scotland in favour of the parish schools? Why should they not be maintained as they were? Therefore—at least, in the first instance—let them have the two systems working concurrently, so that they might see which worked best, and they would then be able to say whether they would be prepared to bring these schools under the cognizance and management of the local Boards, or whether they would leave them under the management of those who had hitherto proved so efficient in conducting education in Scotland? This was a question involving finance as well as matters of policy. With reference to the management of schools, it was 1200 proposed to give to the proprietors—who were at present liable under assessment established in 1696, and which had continued increasing with the requirements of the times down to the present day—a sum of nearly £50,000, which was at present available for educational purposes. That was a kind of bribe offered to the managers of these schools in order to obtain their assent to the sacrifice of the parochial schools; but he ventured to say that the heritors who were liable to this assessment were most willing to continue the present system, and they did not want the gift of this money. They desired that the management should be continued, subject to some enlargement, to which he should hereafter refer. The effect of the Lord Advocate's proposal would be to impose a very heavy burden upon the ratepayers, varying from 1½ d. to 8d. in the pound. In return for these burdens to be borne by them, the ratepayers would acquire the privilege of sharing to a very infinitesimal degree in the nomination of the schoolmaster when the office became vacant. He (Mr. Gordon) had recently received a letter from one of the constituents of the hon. Member for Fife (Sir Robert Anstruther) to the effect that whereas he was able to secure education for his three children under the existing system for £4 a-year, including the cost of books, and for this had them instructed in the three Rs', in geography, Latin, and mathematics, he would, under this Bill, have to send them to a burgh school at a cost of £20 or £30, and pay rates in addition. [Sir ROBERT ANSTRUTHER asked the name of the correspondent.] He had not the letter with him, but believed he could put his hand on it, and would ask for permission to communicate the name of the writer to the hon. Baronet. [The LORD ADVOCATE asked whether he was a tenant farmer?] He (Mr. Gordon) said he was. The recommendations of the Education Commissioners in Scotland seemed to have been utterly set aside by the Government. The Commissioners resolved that no alteration should be made in the existing management of parochial schools, and that they should, as far as possible, be carried on as they stood, subject, of course, to inspection and examination. Now, what were the provisions made by the Bills introduced into that House by the 1201 Liberal Government? The Bill of 1869 approved by the House of Commons fresh from the hustings, had acted on this recommendation, except in one particular—namely, that the electors of the controlling body should not be confined to heriots paying £100 Scots, but should include all who paid stipend There was a general cry in Scotland of "Save us from the local Boards." It was universally felt that it was dangerous to trust the ratepayers with the management of the schools, and that to do so would imperil the interests of higher education. It was well known that one-half of the students of the University of Scotland were educated in the parish schools, and it was feared this fortunate state of things would not be maintained if the local Boards assumed the control. Under these circumstances, he proposed that the present board of heritors should be continued, but that there should be an addition made to their number. It would be said the Bill did not destroy the parish schools, because there would be a school in every parish. This was so, but they would not be the same schools. The controlling body would be elected by £4 householders; the funds at present at command would no longer exist; the teachers would no longer have a life interest in their apappointments, and the advantages resulting from the fact that the teacher held a freehold in his office would not continue; the teachers would not act subject to any regulations such as those made by the heritors; the highest branches of education would not be taught; and he feared religious disputes would be frequent in school boards. These were the objections to the Bill; and he asked that, to prevent the evil consequences which he had described, school boards should be established in those places only where they were proved to be necessary. If his Amendment did not express that, he would gladly assent to its being amended.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 10, to leave out the words "parish and."—(Mr. Gordon.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he hoped, in considering this question, the 1202 Committee would not forget what the parish schools had done for Scotland. They had proved eminently successful, and had raised the character of Scotch education, and made it known throughout the world. What were they now asked to do? Nothing short of this—to destroy an old and successful system. He could speak from experience, that the parish schools of Scotland had solved the religious difficulty. They would find within the walls of those schools Roman Catholics, members of the Free Church, and the United Presbyterians. They were now, in effect, asked to sow religious difficulties in the schools of Scotland, in which it did not now exist. Under the Act there must be in twelve months a school board elected for every parish in Scotland. Why, the fact was they had already school boards in most of the parishes; they had the heritors and the minister as a board—["Hear, hear!"]—and under their management an admirable school in each parish. But the proposal in the Bill was to overthrow that which had admittedly worked well. He did not look so much to the higher kind of education; but he held that they ought to give every child an opportunity of obtaining moral and religious instruction. That the existing system had hitherto done, and he trusted nothing would be done to disturb it. If they did, he feared they would create discontent in the minds of the people of Scotland.
§ MR. M'LAREN
was strongly of opinion that the adoption of the Amendment of the hon. And learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Glasgow (Mr. Gordon) would inflict a great blow upon the Bill. The Amendment was, in fact, a new Bill, and a new Bill of a most objectionable character. It was quite true, as had been said by his hon. Friend who had just sat down (Mr. Baillie Cochrane), that there was at this moment a school board in every parish in Scotland. That very fact struck at the argument of the hon. And learned Gentleman, whose objection was that under the Bill a school board would be established in every parish. There was a school board now; but the question was, whether that school board should not be enlarged and liberalized, or whether it should be confined to the heritors and ministers. Why should not an enlarged constituency provide a better 1203 board? For his part, he could not see why the schools could not be in all cases as well, and in many cases better, managed under the boards provided by the Bill than under the existing system; and therefore the words "destroy the parish schools" and "sacrifice the parochial system," which had been so freely used, were altogether inapplicable. He thought the actual result would be analogous to what had taken place under the Scotch Reform Act of 1832. Before that measure, 2,800 freeholders returned 30 Members of Parliament. There were now 70,000 electors—but had the character of the representation deteriorated? He thought just the contrary. The original law of Scotland was that every heritor, great and small, was a manager of his school, and it was not until 1803 that the number was restricted by a fictitious valuation of £100 Scots, and thus the small heritors were deprived of their hereditary right. What it was now asked to do was to reverse that process to give to the small as well as to the great the right of becoming electors and managers. Moreover, they should remember that the great owner, although he might pay the assessment in the first instance, deducted one-half of it from the tenant, and therefore the tenant, paying virtually one-half of the assessment, had an equal right to become an elector as the landlord. Was it, he asked, consistent with the ends of justice that those who paid one-half should have no voice in the election of the board of management of the schools? And when they were going to lay on an additional charge on every kind of property in a parish, surely they had a right to liberalize the board, and by so doing to satisfy the demands of the people of Scotland. The hon. And learned Gentleman (Mr. Gordon) had offered some calculations as to the expenses that would be imposed for working the Bill. But he (Mr. M'Laren) said that the question of assessment was very little understood. He believed it would be very small in amount, and would nevertheless secure an excellent system of education throughout the country. As to the £50,000 now raised under the assessment of 1696 from the heritors, he thought that should be allowed to stand until the rate came to more than that amount. He believed that the average sum to be provided by the rates would not be more than 8s. or 1204 10s. a-head. That, he believed, would be a fair average sum, although in some cases the rate would amount to 1s. in the pound instead of 2½ d.; but whatever the cost might be, of this he was sure—that the people of Scotland had made up their minds in favour of the Bill, and especially of this—that the parish schools should not be disunited from the board schools.
§ MR. C. DALRYMPLE
said, he thought that, as a rule, in the country districts of Scotland there was no deficiency of schools, and all that was wanted was a compulsory clause, which should not be a "sham," but a reality. For the burghs, school boards might be admirable; but in the rural districts there was little or no demand for them, and he even doubted whether the materials for electing them existed in many such places. There was great danger in intrusting the interests of education to the control of local Boards of imperfectly educated people. Whatever might be said as to the deficiency of schools in some parts of Scotland, unquestionably there was no such deficiency in country districts—all that was really required in such places was a compulsory clause. He was anxious to point out to the English Members that in the event of local Boards being appointed under this Bill for every parish in Scotland, the same principle would be subsequently applied to England, and thus the most valuable principle in the English Act of 1870—that of letting well alone—would be set aside. The great evil from which Scotland was likely to suffer under this Bill was the sacrifice of everything to symmetrical arrangement. It might save trouble to have a local Board in each district; but he was strongly of opinion that in so important a matter as the present, unless they wished for change merely for the sake of change, some regard should be had to the wants and circumstances and condition of each parish. As he had said, the proposed arrangement would answer for burghs, and he hoped to see it carried out there; but he thought that the Scotch Education Department, or the Commissioners who might be appointed, might look into the condition of the parishes with a view to supplying any deficiency that might be found to exist. By some such means it would be practicable to do all that was required to meet existing necessities, and the establish- 1205 ment of the universal system of school boards need not be enforced.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
observed that there was one point on which he was disposed to agree with his hon. And learned Friend opposite (Mr. Gordon), and that was as to the anxiety which existed on the subject of the constitution of the future Board throughout Scotland. That feeling prevailed, too, in that House; and it was not confined to hon. Gentlemen who held Conservative opinions. He admitted that the proposal of the Government to place the management of the parochial school in the hands of an elective board would place the schoolmaster in an uncertain position; and in some places, no doubt, local and religious feeling would be mixed up in their elections. These and other difficulties had to be contended with, and the question was how far the Bill provided a remedy. He was not behind any Member of the House in his desire to reform the present school system, and, in proof, he placed Notices of several Amendments on the Paper which he trusted would have the effect of putting both the managers and schoolmasters on a more satisfactory footing. Other points required attention—such as the arrangement of the religious difficulty, and a more efficient system of instruction. Again, the pecuniary demands upon the people would be heavy, and it was necessary that the assessment should be made upon the present value of property, and not according to the inadequate valuation made more than a century ago; and this was a further reason for improved administration, and for giving the taxpayers a voice in the management of that for which they paid. It was, he thought, imperative upon the Government and the House that they should take these matters into their serious consideration. The only question in his mind was whether they should be dealt with in the manner suggested three years ago, or in the way proposed by the Bill before the Committee. Whilst doing full justice to the active part which the ministers of the Church of Scotland had taken in the management of the schools, it was impossible to deny that they had acted with a natural bias; and, as he considered that the Government had treated this question not only in conformity with the desires of the people of the country, 1206 but in the only way in which it could be dealt with, he cheerfully gave his support to this provision of the Bill.
§ MR. ORR-EWING
said, that after the speech of the hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Colebrooke) one would have thought that he would have supported the Amendment. Certainly, he (Mr. Orr-Ewing) coincided in everything he said in behalf of the parochial schools, and acknowledged that the great majority of them were well worked, though he himself had had experience of most inefficient teachers, of whom it was impossible to get rid. Most Members of the House—especially those of the Opposition—would willingly join in any effort to reform the existing system of parochial schools; but the arguments adduced went rather in favour of the present system. The hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) had truly said that there was already a school board in every parish in Scotland. It was true that it was not elected; but still it had worked satisfactorily. It was in accordance with the spirit of the age that those who bore the burden of taxation for the support of the schools should have a share in the management, and he (Mr. Orr-Ewing) contended that it was far more reasonable to liberalize and open up the existing system than to seek its complete overthrow. But the hon. Member for Edinburgh said—"No; we prefer to have an elected board, because it will do its duties much better than the present close board." But the Report of the Assistant Commissioners on Education afforded the strongest evidence to the contrary, and showed that the system of management by a board of heritors was efficient, while such a system as that proposed under the Bill would prove inefficient. Whether the Lord Advocate really believed that by this Bill a more efficient board of management would be established, for his (Mr. Orr-Ewing's) part he believed that the working classes of Scotland were not aware that the Bill proposed to tax them at all. He had talked to many workmen on the subject, and he found that they were surprised to be told that they would have to pay 6d. in the pound; yet the hon. Member for Edinburgh, who was a great authority on figures, stated that the rate would not be 6d. but 1s. in the pound. Now, was it right and proper that they should tax a poor man, who was 1207 heavily enough burdened already to educate his own children, in order that he might contribute towards the education of the children of others? When the working classes of Scotland discovered that they would be assessed to the extent of 1s. in the pound, they would not thank the Government for this Bill. He hoped the Lord Advocate would agree to the Amendment of his hon. And learned Friend (Mr. Gordon).
§ MR. R. W. DUFF
said, no one who had lived so long in the rural districts of Scotland as he had would attempt to deny the benefit the parochial schools had been to Scotland, and he quite agreed with the hon. And learned Member for Glasgow University (Mr. Gordon) in the approval he had expressed of them, but the hon. And learned Gentleman ignored the fact that Scotland was not satisfied with the parochial system. He also ignored the fact that the Bill proposed to establish a system of rate-aided schools—the parochial schools were to be handed over to the school boards. Now, it was impossible to maintain a denominational system when the school became the property of the ratepayers of all denominations. They had been told that there were schools in England left out of the Bill, and hon. Gentlemen opposite had invited them to follow the example of that Bill; but if they were so fond of the English Bill, why did they take a course diametrically opposed to it on the subject of religion, as shadowed forth in the Amendment carried by the hon. And learned Gentleman? They opposed our assistance to remove this ecclesiastical barrier in the way of English education, and they had forthwith proceeded to erect that barrier again in their Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Mr. G. Hardy) who voted against the proposal that the reading of the Bible in schools should be made compulsory, yet voted that religion should be enforced by law in Scotch schools. How they were to teach religion and exclude the Bible he (Mr. Duff) failed to understand. These were the right hon. Gentleman's words—There are three parties to be considered—There is the Parent, the State, and the Church. I think the first duty of the State is to instruct in religion as well as in secular knowledge. But having to address a House composed of men of every religious faith, and no longer of that unity which once existed within it, it would be useless 1208 to insist that they should as a State teach religion, for if they decided to teach such a religion as they could agree to impose, nothing would be more hostile to my view."—[3 Hansard, ccii. 519.]He (Mr. Duff) thought that was a very sensible view, and regretted that the right hon. Member had not adhered to it. He looked on the Amendment as fatal to the Bill, as it re-imposed a denominational system, and hoped the Committee would at once reject it.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, that he had ventured last night to represent to the Committee that one of the great features of the Bill was that there should be one uniform system of management, applicable without distinction to all public rate-supported schools—to those existing before the Act as well as to those established under the Act. His hon. And learned Friend (Mr. Gordon) had, he hoped, exhausted his vocabulary of phrases in lauding the parish schools of Scotland, for these encomiums had become somewhat wearisome. It was undeniable that amongst the parochial schools there were good, bad, and in-indifferent. Those which were good were represented by the Royal Commissioners as amounting to about 75 per cent of the whole; but that included all varieties of goodness. Those on the other hand which were bad, were not less than 25 per cent, including all degrees of badness. That, he confessed, was not a state of matters of which to boast. Some of the schools were very excellent, but some of them were discreditably and scandalously bad. With reference to the subject immediately before the House, there were no doubt public rate-supported schools already existing, and the question they had to consider was, whether the management under which they were placed ought to be interfered with. His hon. And learned Friend, in the most argumentative part of his speech, contended that the existing schools should not be disturbed. The Bill certainly proposed to interfere with these schools so far as the management was concerned, and he did not think that the House would agree with his hon. And learned Friend that a body of heritors, with the parish minister, constituted the best board of management for public rate-supported schools. The purpose of the Amendment was two-fold—namely, to exclude the parish schools from the operation of this Bill, and to 1209 provide for the deficiency in the other schools being supplied by denominational effort, and the schools themselves placed under denominational management. According to the conscientious conviction of his hon. And learned Friend, that was the best system of national education which could be established. That, however, was not the view of the Government in presenting this Bill to Parliament. The Government were of opinion that the existing management of the parish schools was unsatisfactory, and they were of opinion that it ought to be reformed by placing them under the same system of management which they proposed for all public rate-supported schools which it should be necessary to establish in order to provide sufficient education in Scotland. In order to provide a sufficient supply of schools for Scotland, it would certainly be necessary to raise the local rates. The Government proceeded upon the view that the people of Scotland were resolved to have a sufficient number of efficient schools for the education of their children. These schools must be maintained from three sources—from money granted by Parliament for national education in Great Britain; from the fees paid by the pupils; and from the produce of local rates. The amount which the local rates would have to contribute must be determined by the amount of money necessary to meet the expenses in excess of what was met by the Parliamentary money and the fees. The people of Scotland were so resolved to have a sufficient number of good, well-taught schools, that they would, he believed, gladly bear the burden of the expenses which were necessary for that purpose. Now, what was the natural system of management for such schools as existed and were to be created? Why, certainly the management of those who contributed to the expenses. The ratepayers would be too large a body to be managers themselves, and therefore they must resort to the expedient of making the ratepayers the constituency to appoint from their own number, or, without limiting them to their own number, to appoint those in whom they had most confidence to make efficient provision for the respective parishes and burghs. His hon. And learned Friend referred to the English Education Act of 1870, and complained that they were departing from 1210 the lines of that Act. Well, then, who were the constituents who elected the managers of the rate-supported schools in England? Why, the ratepayers. The constituents were not confined to landed proprietors who were rated upon a certain rental—generally speaking, a very high rental. Why, he asked, in the language of his hon. And learned Friend, were the people of Scotland not to be trusted to elect good school managers as well as the people of England? Why were they to say to the parents of Scotland—to the parents who had to send their children to the public rate-supported schools of Scotland—"You are not fit to elect school managers. The people of England are, and Parliament has committed to them that duty; but in Scotland we must only look to the heritors—the landed proprietors?" But his hon. And learned Friend said that the principle of the English Bill was not to disturb existing schools, and it was in that particular that he complained that the Government in this Bill had departed from the lines of the English measure. Why—were there any existing public rate-supported schools to disturb? Not one. The English measure proceeded upon the principle of not disturbing schools established and maintained by voluntary effort, and the principle enunciated by the hon. Gentleman to whose speeches his hon. And learned Friend referred about not disturbing existing schools, referred not to existing public rate-supporting schools, for there were none such, but to schools established and maintained by voluntary effort. They had followed the lines of the English Bill in that respect. They did not meddle with any school of the class of which alone there were schools in England at the passing of the Act of 1870. But with respect to existing public rate-supported schools, why was not the Legislature to deal with them as well as with the public rate-supported schools for which it made provision? They were in search of the best system of management. They had existing public rate-supported schools which were not under the best system of management. If they determined that, with respect to the schools to be established under the Act, a popular elected school board was the best system of management, he wanted to know why that principle was not to be applied to the existing schools also, 1211 Why were they to have a dual system of management? Nothing possibly could be more unreasonable or inconvenient, and the Government must therefore adhere to the proposal of the Bill, and reform the management of existing schools in such a way that under the same management they could be able to place all the schools that were to be established under the Bill. It was conceded—indeed, it could not be disputed—that the multitude of schools to be established under the Bill could not be put under the charge of heritors and the parish minister. The management of the heritors and the parish minister, so as to keep the schools still attached to the parish church, could only be maintained by creating a dual system of management—one applicable to the old, and the other to the new schools. The Government knew of no reason for taking such a course except to exempt the existing schools from the operation of the present Act. This was what was called destroying these schools. Why was it destroying them? The Government said that these schools should be maintained as at present, except in so far as they would be improved. They did not think that all the wisdom in a parish in Scotland was in the heritors rated above £100. There were intelligent tenants whether they paid school rates or not. His hon. And learned Friend said that the Government were throwing away the heritors' money which they were paying ungrudgingly and without any grumbling. Well, he (the Lord Advocate) did not know that the heritors of Scotland ever paid any rates ungrudgingly. But in that respect, if they did grudge and grumble a little, they were only like other ratepayers, for one unpleasant circumstance connected with all rates was—that they had to be paid. The Government did not in the least propose to relieve the heritors of the rates which it would be necessary to impose. He thought the heritors contributed to the cause of education in Scotland between £40,000 and £50,000. He did not speak of their voluntary contributions; but they contributed in rates between £40,000 and £50,000 a-year, and half of that sum was payable by their tenants. His own opinion was that it was paid by the tenants—because, whether they paid it directly or not, they were legally liable. Prom the accidental 1212 circumstance that the valued rent—which was a valuation made some centuries ago—was adopted as the scale of assessment, these rates fell very unequally. The incidence was entirely objectionable, and men, whether proprietors or tenants, did not pay in proportion to the extent and value of their possessions. Now, they should require a much larger rate. £40,000 or £50,000 a-year would not nearly meet the requirements of the Bill, and they could not impose the additional burden upon the valued rent heritors with the present inequality of incidence. But they were not going to make two rates. They were going to make one rate for all the money required for the purposes of the Bill—that was, one rate in each district for so much as was necessary to supply the deficiency arising after the Imperial grant and the fees were applied, and it was proposed to raise that rate by a tax equally imposed upon all landlords and all tenants according to the real value of their possessions. With reference to existing public rate-supported schools, as well as with respect to those which should become so, they proposed that there should be a school board elected in each parish by the inhabitants—namely, by those who were chiefly interested in the matter of education, and they entirely repudiated the object which was proposed to be attained by the Amendment.
§ LORD GARLIES
said, he would not follow the learned Lord in the special pleading of which he had shown himself such a master. He wished simply to remind the Committee that they had been informed by the learned Lord that 75 per cent of the parish schools in Scotland had been reported by the Inspector as good. That being so, he agreed with the hon. Member for Buteshire (Mr. C. Dalrymple) that it would be much better to leave well alone. He believed that the proposal of the Government would only tend to sow discord throughout the greater part of Scotland, as there was no wish there for anything of the kind, since there was a sufficiency of education which would render the new system unnecessary. He trusted that the House would not vote for the proposition of the Government, and that they would consent to leave out the few words proposed by his hon. And learned Friend, believing that the adoption of such a Mo- 1213 tion would be more beneficial to Scotland than if they were allowed to remain in the Bill.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
said, he could not accept the statement of the learned Lord Advocate that the parish schools in Scotland were rate-supported schools. In England, wherever you had a rate-founded school, you naturally gave representation to the ratepayers. But the landward schools in Scotland were supported out of the rent-charge upon property of very ancient date, and the burden rested on the owners alone. The heritors had not only assessed themselves, but had also given voluntary subscriptions towards the schools; and therefore to describe those schools as rate-supported schools, as that term was generally understood, was calculated to mislead. The greatest proportion of the money which had made the schools such as they were now, and such as would bear favourable comparison with kindred institutions in any other portion of the United Kingdom, had been contributed by the heritors. If these gentlemen had stuck to the mere duty of providing schools only in so far as they were actually compulsorily demanded to do, would they have been in the satisfactory condition in which they were now, or would the schoolmasters' houses have been as they were? If they had had to be furnished out of absolute necessity, both would have been of a wholly different character. He claimed for the heritors of Scotland, in their position as managers of voluntary schools, as well as of those provided by legal compulsion, the most honourable title. Therefore, to shut them out altogether from the advantages of management would be obviously unfair. It was otherwise in England, where rate-supported schools were to be established only wherever the necessity for them existed. If that principle had been carried out by the learned Lord Advocate, he would not have objected. In the landward parishes in Scotland, the learned Lord Advocate could not say so,—it was contrary to the opinion of the Commissioners—that the schools were not adequate to the wants of the district. The real object of this Bill should be to create better schools in burghs. He (Lord Henry Scott) sympathized with him in that object, and should support him in successfully accomplishing it; but the 1214 learned Lord Advocate had completely shut his eyes to the fact that in the counties the ground was already covered, and the complaint was, that being so, this Bill stepped in and forced on the people a state of things which was not in the slightest degree required. The change proposed by his hon. And learned Friend the Member for the University of Glasgow (Mr. Gordon) was in the right direction, by giving increased representation to those who now contributed to the schools. For that the greatest possible credit was due. It did not differ from the proposal of the Government in 1869; and, besides, it went a good deal farther. They had a right to ask the Government why they had changed their opinion in three years, making compulsory school boards and altering the whole system of rating for schools. His learned Friend conceded what was required in burghs. There was no difference between him and the Lord Advocate on that point. All the difference was, that the landward schools should be supported in the same manner and enlarged in the sphere of representation of the heritors. After all, those on that side of the House had conceded that one-half of the board should be elected by the heritors and the other half by the ratepayers. What could be fairer than that? But the Lord Advocate said—"No; we must sweep away the heritors altogether." Now, was that fair to use them so, after the admirable way in which they had discharged their duties? Were they going to set, up side by side with a school which might be voluntarily supported by the heritors, another that was founded and maintained out of the rates? Was that likely to promote harmony? School boards were not to be compulsorily established in England where they were not required. Why, then, were they to be forced upon Scotland, where there existed a very superior managing body? Were they to treat Scotland on the principle of Fiat experimentum in corpore vili? Would the Government like to establish school boards all over Ireland? This was an Imperial question, and not one for Scotland only. Let them not overlook the probable effect of the precedent they proposed to set in the case of Scotland. The opponents of the Bill having met the Government half-way, the latter ought to be prepared to make some concession.
§ MR. C. S. PARKER
said, it was only due to the heritors to take the opportunity of acknowledging the services which they had rendered to the cause of education. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Henry Scott) had stated truly that the heritors not only paid the money they had inherited as a burden on their property, but supplemented it in such a way as to arouse the gratitude of all interested in this important subject. But he laid too much stress on the fact. The noble Lord was justified in declining to regard the parochial schools of Scotland entirely as rate-supported schools, because part of their funds came from this voluntary source. But some £40,000 or £50,000 of the money contributed by the heritors was public money, and was, in fact, reported by the Commissioners as one of the largest items of assets available for education in Scotland. That fact placed the parochial schools in a different position from any of the schools in England, because there were none there so supported. If this arrangement was to be continued, the noble Lord had not gone beyond what was fair when he asked that there should be some kind of recognition on the part of the Government towards the heritors. What he (Mr. Parker) wished to point out was that there were two totally different ways, in which some concession might be made. The one was that proposed by the right hon. And learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gordon), to distinguish between the mode of treating those parish schools and the other public schools throughout the country; the other way would be to include in one system the burgh and parish schools, but to provide that where the funds came from the heritors there should be some recognition of it in the management. There was a growing feeling in Scotland that the money derived from the heritors should not be sacrificed, and that feeling was shared in by both political parties, neither of whom were averse to the heritors being represented in respect of their special contributions. If the ratepayers elected a majority of the managers they would have no objection to let the heritors retain their seats on the board. But the issue placed before the Committee by the present Amendment was whether they should set up a duplicate system—namely, one for the burghs, and another 1216 for the parish schools. While the Conservatives would leave the schools in the hands of the parish ministers and the heritors, the progressive party would not allow any minister to be a manager simply ex officio, but would liberalize and enlarge the management.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that English Members had a deep interest in the decision of the Committee on this question, because it interfered with the parochial school system of Scotland, which had been avowedly successful. The Lord Advocate pointed to the schools throughout England, and said—"See, we have left you these schools supported by voluntary contributions." But they knew those schools had not been so successful as the Scottish parochial schools. They knew, also, that the system of education in Scotland brought to the schools a larger proportion of children than were brought to the schools in England. He (Mr. Newdegate) remembered that the new President of the Board of Trade had several times intimated that the retention of voluntary schools in England was only a question of time, and that he looked forward to a period when there should be a system of school boards throughout the whole of England. If the Scottish parochial schools were not to be supported—if the system of school boards was to override them—what prospect had they of the continuance of the voluntary system in England? None whatever. And therefore, as an English Member, he deprecated the stern adherence to uniformity which, notwithstanding the acknowledged merits of the Scottish schools—notwithstanding the acknowledgment of the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker) of the good conduct of the heritors, was intended to sweep away the system on which the parochial schools were built, although the evidence before the House showed it to be one which the people of Scotland clung to and admired. He (Mr. Newdegate) put this to English Members. The Vice President of the Council had taken to himself immense credit for not having swept away the voluntary system. If they passed that clause striking down the Scottish parochial system, did they think that the system in England would remain? It certainly would not. It appeared to him that they were about to break up the best system of education which existed in Great Britain—which 1217 existed in the United Kingdom. And for what reason? To gratify a feeling of small jealousy which wished to establish equality. The Government say—We will have a ratepaying system of school boards. But had they not a rate-paying system in England? Had they not church rates? Was not every ratepayer represented in the vestry? And yet what had been the end of that system? Why, the same jealousy crept up; that system had been swept away, and no provision had been made for the maintenance of the Church. It was simply sacrificed to that small jealousy which would establish equality, and which ended in spoliation. There was another thing to be considered. The heritors of Scotland were men of many different religious persuasions—but they had always maintained a religious education. They knew from the experience of England that religious education was very much put aside in the rate-paying schools—it was not enjoined, it was only permitted; and they knew that there was a constant study in the school boards to get rid of religious teaching altogether. They had that experience before them. He (Mr. Newdegate) rejoiced the House had decided that religion should still form an essential part of the education of Scotland, and in doing so it had represented and reflected the feelings of the Scottish people. But if they swept away from these heritors the control which they had maintained over religious education, and adopted their uniform system of rate-paying schools, they would introduce into the Scottish school system the struggles that were going on in the English boards, and would lay the foundation of disturbing, and, he believed, of destroying that religious education which they had decided ought to be maintained in Scotland.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
also supported the Amendment. He considered that it was a scandalous imputation upon the people of Scotland to say that an Educational Board in that country could not be entrusted with the expenditure of £250,000 a-year, and that it was necessary to delegate the duty to the Privy Council. He should do all in his power to oppose the clause in the Bill and render it nugatory.
§ MR. GORDON
, in replying, said, he objected to the payment made to the 1218 parochial schools under the present system being called a rate, because a rate was a payment made by all classes upon an assessment. It was not a charge upon the proprietors of the land; whereas at present there was always a special charge upon the land for the parochial school whenever it changed hands. The Lord Advocate said that he was sick and tired of hearing so much about the parochial schools. No doubt, when he proposed to destroy them, it was very disagreeable to him to hear so much said in their praise from all sides of the House. Some stress had been laid upon the deficiency in the education in burgh schools; but even in respect to them, although 20 were reported indifferent, only seven were reported bad; while in the country districts the parochial schools were admitted on all hands to be excellent. And those were the schools which were to be destroyed! He recollected that last year two Professors of English Universities and one from a Scotch University urged upon the Vice President of the Council and the Lord Advocate the necessity of proceeding with the greatest caution in reference to these parish schools, and expressed great doubts as to whether the schools which would be established under the new system would equal them, because, as they said, they had never seen them excelled. That was not the opinion of Scotchmen only, but of English Professors, who had no prejudice on the subject. The Lord Advocate was a great master of the use of adjectives, and he said that the system proposed in opposition to the Government scheme was utterly unreasonable and incorrect. If so, his (Mr. Gordon's) excuse was that his Amendment was in the terms of the recommendation of the Commissioners who reported on Scottish Education. But he had a still higher authority under which he could shield himself—namely, the authority of the present Ministry; for in 1869 they produced a Bill which contained provisions with reference to the parish schools, which were almost identical with those he proposed, because they proposed a scheme under which there would be a dual management. [The LORD ADVOCATE said, that they were exempted under that Bill.] He (Mr. Gordon) was under the impression that the dual system was proposed under it, and therefore he considered that he was only following in the footsteps of the 1219 present Ministry when he moved the present Amendment, which he trusted would be accepted by the House.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 222; Noes 177: Majority 45.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.