§ Clause 5 (Area of a parish and a burgh).
§ MR. GORDON
asked, what would be the duties of the Commissioners which the Lord Advocate had inserted in his own clause in reference to the fixing of the areas referred to in this clause which was placed under the Scotch Education Department. He also doubted whether the understanding which had been come to the other night had been carried out by the Government.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, that the statement which had been made the other night was quite distinct, and in the clause itself he had endeavoured to express the duties of the Commissioners in conformity with the statement which he then made to the House. The duties of the Scotch Commissioners would be to aid in the establishment of schools under the Bill and in starting the new scheme. He thought it would be found by the clause, of which he had given Notice, that the duties put on them under the Department of the Government were those expressed in the clauses of the Bill, to which he had formerly referred. In regard to the fixing of the areas, it was very well known that questions about boundaries frequently gave rise to acrimonious and expensive litigation; and the decision had been left to the Education Department as a means of avoiding expense in determining matters of small importance in themselves; and the Commissioners referred to were to be appointed to assist the Education Department in the execution of its duties.
§ MR. GORDON
said, that the settlement of the area of parishes and burghs in reference to the formation of school boards was so essentially a local question that he would move to omit the words "Scotch Education Department," with a view to insert "the Board of Commissioners."
§ MR. ELLICE
said, he thought the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend to substitute a Board of Commissioners for the Scotch Education Department 1285 in reference to this matter, which was of a purely local character, was right. For his own part, he should be satisfied if the matter were left to the sheriff; but a Board of Commissioners being evidently a better body to deal with such questions than the Scotch Education Department, he should vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. C. DALRYMPLE
entirely agreed with the hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Andrews (Mr. Ellice). In the new clause there was an allusion to the Scotch Education Department. It might save time if the learned Lord Advocate would inform the House what the Scotch Education Department really was—it having been alluded to so frequently.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he could best answer the question by referring the hon. Member to the Interpretation Clause. The Committee had resolved that the definition of the Scotch Education Department should mean the Lords of any Committee of the Privy Council appointed by Her Majesty on education in Scotland. In the course of the discussion, he (the Lord Advocate) stated that the principle to which the Government was prepared to adhere was, that upon the Government the responsibility of seeing that the Act was properly executed would rest, subject to direct Parliamentary control. He stated that upon the people of the various districts, through school boards of their own election, would be cast the duty in the first instance of providing sufficient accommodation in public schools in their districts; but the Government would not attempt to put a statutory Board or any other body over them, and throw upon it the responsibility which should rest upon the Government alone, both in reference to the proper expenditure of local rates and the Imperial money voted by Parliament, and which was only voted on the understanding that it would be expended in a manner calculated to produce the best effects in the shape of extended and improved education in Scotland. For that reason he declined to put forward any statutory Board, whether temporary or permanent. The Board he proposed was a Board to aid the Government, and to be responsible to the Government—the Government being responsible to Parliament. Their duty, therefore, was to aid in starting the Act, and in forming local school 1286 boards. The Scotch Education Department was simply the name given to the Department entrusted with the carrying out of the Act, just as in England it was entrusted to a Committee of the Privy Council, nominated for the express purpose, and called the Education Department—not only of England, but England and Scotland. It appeared to him that it would be more right and proper that instead of retaining that machinery, there should be a Scotch Committee appointed, which would have the charge of Scotch education; and it was to some extent proposed to establish a new department of the Privy Council, which would be nominated by Her Majesty in Council, and not by Parliament, and which could not be nominated by Act of Parliament. But although Parliament could not nominate the Committee of Council on Scotch Education, it could provide that there should be a Member of the Government in this House responsible to Parliament connected with it. Then the Government would, through that Committee, nominate the Commissioners for Scotland, who would be responsible to the Committee. He therefore could not consent to give to the Commissioners any powers by force of statutory enactment, or indeed any powers which were not derived through Government, for that would be creating a statutory commission, which he had already said would be extremely objectionable.
§ MR. ORR EWING
said, that certainly the whole views of the Members for Scotland were against what the Lord Advocate proposed in the 3rd clause, and the majority of them were only prevented from voting against him by his promising to bring in a clause in accordance with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Linlithgowshire (Mr. M'Lagan). What was the use of this new clause? Clause 3, to which hon. Members objected, would have answered the purpose quite as well as this. It was simply a sham, and it would be incumbent upon hon. Members opposite to declare whether they were satisfied with it or not. This clause would not at all satisfy the people of Scotland. What was understood was, that although there was not to be a Board administrating education in Scotland, there would be a Board charged with carrying out the local wants of Scotland, but be placed 1287 under the Privy Council directly. He must say this clause was not satisfactory.
§ MR. M'LAGAN
objected to this clause because it was almost entirely permissive. It was of no greater use than the 3rd clause was, and it was not what he expected. The powers given to the Board in Scotland were too limited, and the clause would not give satisfaction in Scotland. He should support the hon. Member for St. Andrews (Mr. Ellice).
§ SIR GRAHAM MONTGOMERY
said, having listened attentively to the Lord Advocate, he must say that it might fairly be inferred that the Scotch Board would only be a sham board. The Lord Advocate had completely disappointed the expectations of the Scotch Members.
§ MR. MACFIE
said, that the people of Scotland had no objection to the administration of the funds being entirely under the control of Parliament; but they did not wish the management of the education itself to be under that control. What they desired to avoid was, the Education Department in Scotland being part of the Government. The Articles of the Union distinctly recognised that the Scotch educational system was to be independent of control in London, and he regretted that more respect had not been shown by the Government for the immemorial habits and feelings and wishes of the people of Scotland.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, that having read the new clause, he thought it did not do what Scotch Members were led to expect when the learned Lord Advocate told them that he would substantially accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Linlithgowshire (Mr. M'Lagan). It now appeared that what was proposed was to be of a permissive character, and nothing was said as to what the duties of the Commissioners were to be. It might be that there would be no Board in Scotland to carry out the powers of the Act.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, it was unfortunate that such an important question should be raised on a question of area or boundary. It would be better to defer the discussion on the new clause until it was formally before the Committee.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he regarded the appointment of the Commissioners under the words before the House as imperative. Although the word "shall" was not used, practically it would be imperative, for it would be 1288 quite impossible for any Government, after the House had required the Government to appoint Commissioners, to say that it would not confer the necessary powers.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
suggested that it would be better, as the clause had been postponed in regard to the appointment of a Commission, to let the words stand as they were, because the Committee would always have the power when they came to the enacting clause to say what powers should be given to those Commissioners, and under what conditions they should be conferred. He thought, too, that if the Government were to make some such declaration to the Committee as that which they made in 1869 as to the character of the persons they intended to appoint, much of the alarm which seemed to pervade the minds of hon. Members would disappear.
§ MR. M'LAREN
believed the best plan to adopt with reference to the areas would be to adopt the Parliamentary boundaries as fixed after the Reform Act of 1832. With regard to the powers of the Commissioners, seeing there was an appeal to the Privy Council, it would be better to commit to the Commissioners the whole of the administrative duties.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
deprecated the further discussion of the question of the Commission until it came fairly before the Committee, and suggested that it should be postponed without prejudice.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
said, the new clause of the Lord Advocate was nothing more than carrying out the machinery of Clause 3, and it was most unsatisfactory to be discussing a clause which was not before the Committee. In fact, it was difficult to ascertain what was the question before the Committee.
§ MR. ELLICE
understood that the Lord Advocate was willing to leave out the words objected to by the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. Gordon). It was clear that the Commissioners ought to be the persons to deal with the subject of boundaries. He should prefer to substitute in the latter part of the clause "the Commissioners in Scotland" for "the Scotch Education Department," always understanding that their proceedings as Scotch Commissioners should be subject to appeal to the Privy Council.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, that to avoid the possibility of misunderstanding with regard to the language of the new clause, he regarded it as practically inoperative, and no Government could decline to grant to the Commissioners all the powers necessary to enable them to perform their complicated duties; but, as he had said before, when they came to consider the words of the clause, he would see if the language might not be altered, as had been suggested.
§ Amendment (Mr. Gordon) withdrawn.
On Motion of the LORD ADVOCATE, the words—
unless the Scotch Education Department shall, by order issued by them, have otherwise, for the said purposes, determined the area thereof,
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 6 (United parishes) agreed to.
§ Clause 7 (Burghs may be united with parishes in certain cases).
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 8 (First election of school boards).
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
moved, in page 3, after line 40, insert sub-section—In every parish the School Board shall consist of the owners of lands and heritages of the yearly value of one hundred pounds and upwards, and of such number of elected members as may be determined by the Scotch Education Department.The qualification he proposed was well known in Scotch local administration, and he believed the addition of such members would give great confidence in the Board, and in especial would encourage teachers to come forward. This proposition was not a new one. It had been before the country for some years, for the Commission on Education proposed that one-half of the Board should consist of proprietors, and the proposal was embodied in the Bill of three years ago. He believed his proposal would give more satisfaction than the proposition of the Government made at that time. It was useless to deny that there was great alarm throughout the country 1290 as to the proposed constitution of these boards.
§ MR. M'COMBIE
said, he would give his most unhesitating and firmest support to the Amendment. He had no very great confidence in the Scotch Education Department, and believed that the proposal would have the effect of excluding all the tenant farmers of Scotland.
§ MR. MILLER
opposed the Amendment; but at the same time he thought that members of the school board should have some connection with the parish.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he hoped the hon. Baronet would take the sense of the Committee upon his Amendment. In some parishes there were so many electors that the choice of a school board would virtually amount to a contested election.
§ MR. MAXWELL
knew that in some parishes there would be a difficulty in getting properly qualified persons elected, and that the schoolmasters felt great anxiety at the prospect of inferior men finding their way on to the board. The limit of £100, perhaps, was too high, and he would suggest that it should be put at £50.
§ MR. GRAHAM
believed the disposition of the people of Scotland invariably would be to elect persons of wealth and position, where those were found willing to serve; and, accordingly, he thought it better to trust the people of Scotland than to establish any principle of selection.
§ MR. CANDLISH
said, there was no such restriction in the English Act, and wondered how the new plan would work across the Tweed.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
said, the Amendment simply provided that a certain number of the present managing bodies should be connected with the managing bodies of the future. A similar proposition was made by the Government in 1869, and the Lord Advocate himself said that the heritors had been an excellent managing body. There was another reason for their connection with the managing body in future—namely, that many schools were largely dependent upon their voluntary contributions. He agreed that a £50 qualification would be better than a £100 qualification, 1291 and this was one of the points on which concession by the Government might be reasonably expected. He thought the Amendment a reasonable one, and would vote for it.
§ SIR ROBERT ANSTRUTHER
said, he hoped the Committee would not be divided on the Amendment, or that the Amendment would be decisively rejected. It was entirely reactionary, and opposed to the spirit of the Bill, and also that of the English Bill. The English people were allowed to elect their own school boards freely, and why should there be an ex officio element on the Scotch boards? The Scotch people elected their own religious ministers, and were they any less fit to elect the managers of their schools? It would be infinitely more satisfactory to the heritors themselves to be placed on the school boards by the free votes of the people than in virtue of the value of their property; and there was no fear but that the heritors would be elected. Any fear that the electors would elect bad managers was absurd.
§ MR. ELLICE
said, he thought there was much to be said on both sides of the question. No doubt, in one half of Scotland boards would be easily composed of a superior class of people, who would undertake the management with alacrity; but in the other half of Scotland there would be difficulty in obtaining good members. The Poor Law machinery of one half of Scotland was conducted by heritors or their agents. The distinction proposed was an invidious one, and it was an unanswerable argument against it that there was no such distinction in England. If heritors accepted it they must also consent to a continuance of their exceptional assessment. On the whole, he would recommend the withdrawal of the Amendment.
§ MR. M'LAREN
concurred in the recommendation to withdraw the Amendment, but not in one of the reasons assigned for it, because the question of the payment of the heritors had still to be discussed, and he regarded those payments as national property. The remark that had been made by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish) as to the absence of any distinction in the English Act ought to be conclusive.
§ SIR GRAHAM MONTGOMERY
said, he thought school boards quite unnecessary in small parishes, except when there 1292 was a deficiency of educational means, and then he would approve of them. He would cordially support the Amendment.
§ MR. M'COMBIE
maintained that, as the tenant farmers paid half of the salaries of the schoolmasters, it would be unfair not to give them a voice in the election of the schoolmasters.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, he had lived in the county of Aberdeen for very nearly as long as his hon. Friend (Mr. M'Combie), yet he had never heard of a tenant farmer paying a shilling of the schoolmaster's salary. There was one point which ought not to be lost sight of—more especially as the heritors had been attacked in the manner they had been. In his own recollection, there was not a school or a school-house in that county which had not been rebuilt at the expense of the heritors, and increased accommodation given. He wished to say a word on behalf of the schoolmasters, who were in a state of terror on acccount of this Bill, because they believed they would be subject to the domination of an illiterate body, who were perfectly and utterly incompetent to control them. The schoolmasters were at present a most respectable body of men, many of them Masters of Arts, and many also preachers of the Gospel. If, however, the Committee gave power to every collier who paid £4 rent to control the election of the schoolmaster, he pitied the poor schoolmaster. He would support the Amendment, believing that the clause as it stood would cause a serious deterioration of the education in Scotland.
§ MR. MACFIE
suggested that the hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Colebrooke) should amend his Amendment by adding after "owner" the words "and occupier" so as to meet the view of the hon. Member for Aberbeenshire (Mr. M'Combie). If that alteration were made, he should support the hon. Baronet's proposal.
§ MR. GORDON
said, that undoubtedly there was a very great anxiety throughout Scotland with reference to the constitution of school boards under this Bill, and also with reference to the position which schoolmasters would hold. If the hon. Baronet went to a division, he would certainly go into the Lobby with him. It had been asked why they should make a rule for Scotland which did not exist in England. The reason 1293 was that in Scotland the parochial schools possessed a higher style of education than in England. He was of opinion that for the sake of the future prosperity of the country that higher style of education should be maintained, and if possible extended. What they were apprehensive of—and the apprehension was not confined to parish teachers alone, but was maintained by many connected with the Universities—was that the Bill would have the effect of deteriorating education. The electors, they feared, would be satisfied with what was commonly and popularly known as "the three R's." He did not think the hon. Baronet ought to be exposed to taunts with respect to the exclusion of the tenants, because he had stated his willingness to add to the body of electors tenants who paid a certain rent.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, it was impossible for him to consider an Amendment proceeding from the hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Colebrooke) otherwise than with sincere respect, but he must oppose the present one. He had listened with some surprise to the reasons advanced by the hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth (Sir James Elphinstone), and by his hon. and learned Friend opposite (Mr. Gordon) for supporting the Amendment. In both cases their reasons seemed to be something like a distrust of the people of Scotland, and yet within the last few days they had both lauded those very people. The hon. and gallant Member said two days ago that the people of Scotland might well be trusted with the administration of the paltry sum of £250,000 a-year. In that case, the people were not to have the administration of the fund in their own hands; but in this case the question was as to trusting the people themselves. Could they not trust them with the management of their own schools—that was to say, with the election of boards qualified to manage the schools in which their children were to be educated? The people of England could be trusted to do that; but it was now said that the people of Scotland could not be so trusted, because they had no desire for the education of their children except in "the three R's." The hon. and gallant Gentleman said they would look to cheapness, and not to education. Was that a true account of the people of 1294 Scotland? He denied that it was. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke so often in this discussion did not represent any Scotch constituency, and whether he spoke in praise or dispraise of the Bill, was not an authorized exponent of the views of his countrymen. His own belief was that the people of Scotland did care for the education of their children, and that they would elect the best men to manage their schools, and would not be satisfied with "the three R's." One objection to the Amendment was that in some parishes the school boards would be so large as to be unmanageable; in others, the board would consist of the proprietor and an elected member only.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, that the learned Lord had alluded to him in complimentary terms, and informed the Committee that he was not a Scotch Member. He begged leave to tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he had addressed Scotch constituencies, but was found deficient in some of the qualities which were necessary to suit them. He was found deficient in that hypocrisy which it was necessary to possess in approaching a Scotch Liberal constituency. However, having been rejected, he had found an honest constituency, with whom he intended to remain as long as they thought fit to return him. He believed that what lay at the root of the clause was kept carefully out of view. When he looked at the benches opposite, the thing was perfectly explained. There was not one hon. Member from Ireland to be seen. They were absent from the debate, but present at the division, simply because if they forced these boards upon the people of Scotland, they intended to do so with the people of Ireland also, and the consequence would be that they would place the education of the people of Ireland in the hands of the parish priests. Who would be accountable for this but the Members from Scotch constituencies, who, he believed, were in league with the Roman Catholic Church.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he had hoped that the Amendment would have been discussed in a different spirit, and could not see why he should have been attacked as he had been. The English system had been alluded to; but that system was the result of a compromise. 1295 He failed to see why a system which worked admirably in Poor Law administration should not be applied to education. He would not give the Committee the trouble of dividing.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. ANDERSON
moved, in page 4, line 2, after "burgh," to insert—But having regard in the case of a burgh, as far as possible, to the number of wards into which such burgh may be divided for municipal purposes, and, if the number of wards shall exceed fifteen, then the number of members shall be increased so that there shall be one member for each ward.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, there would be no connection whatever between the wards and the boards, which would be elected by the whole constituency. He hoped the Amendment would not be pressed.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. ORR EWING
moved, in page 4, line 8, to leave out the words "or occupiers," and to insert, in line 9, after "pounds," "and occupiers of lands and heritages of the value of not less than ten pounds." In the first place, he wanted to have a more intelligent and a smaller constituency, which did not require an "illiterate clause" similar to that which had been introduced into the Ballot Bill. The next—and in his eyes the most important—reason for proposing the Amendment was, that families who lived in houses below £10 ought to be relieved from this new burden. In his opinion, they did their duty sufficiently at present both to their families and to the commonwealth if they paid for the education of their own children. The Lord Advocate might say that he wished to interest these parties in the education of the children; but the elections for the school boards in the London district afforded an illustration that the poorer classes did not take much interest in them. Again, he objected to the clause in its present shape, because it did not prevent persons from voting who did not pay their rates. Besides, if the rate were likely—as the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) had said—to be as high as 1s. in the pound, it would be one of the heaviest rates in any city or town. As the people of Scotland had always had education provided for them hitherto without a rate, he was sure this proposal would not be at all 1296 acceptable to them. In England, moreover, they had only elected about 400 school boards, while in Scotland there would at once be found 1,200 of them, which would cause additional expense, so that Scotland would be more heavily taxed than in England, as there would be a local board everywhere. It might be said, however, that this system was already adopted in England, and that there was no reason why it should not be extended to Scotland; but it should be borne in mind that there were considerable differences between the two countries. In England, for example, there was no provision for endowing schoolmasters similar to that which in Scotland tended to sustain the status of the teachers. He believed we should get such inferior teachers in a short time we should be obliged to endow them in the same manner as was now done in Scotland.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, he was afraid his hon. Friend had misunderstood his remarks about the amount of the education rate. He did not mean them to apply generally to large towns; but said that, according to the best calculation he could make, 6d. in the pound would produce £50,000 in Glasgow, which sum, he imagined, would be much more than would be required to carry out the Act.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he could not accept the Amendment of the hon. Member, because there was no principle in it. He could not consent to give votes to owners of houses under £10 a-year, and refuse to give them to the occupiers. The principle of the Bill was to give to the parents of the children attending the schools a voice in the management of the schools—not directly, but by making them influential parts of the constituencies by which the managing boards would be elected. The hon. Member had alleged that many of the poorer classes would find it very burdensome to pay the school rate. Now, suppose it was as high as 6d. in the pound—one moiety to be paid by the proprietor and the other by the tenant—the occupier of a £4 house would have to pay 1s. a-year, for which sum he might have a number of children attending the schools. If he had a £10 house he would have to pay just 2s. 6d. a-year for education. He did not think the people of Scotland would exclaim 1297 against that as being burdensome. It should be remembered that they would get full value for their money, and in a manner, perhaps, which they could appreciate better than any other people. The proprietors of lands and heritages would, on the whole, pay not only as much as heretofore, but more, as they would have to contribute a full half of the whole school rate. Again, the contributions out of the Imperial funds would be much larger than hitherto. His hon. Friend apprehended that the schoolmasters would, not be paid as well as they were at present; but where, then, was the money to go to? The matter would be under the Government to a certain extent, and under the school boards elected by the people to a certain extent, and he supposed they would pay what was needed in order to secure such education as the people desired; while, at the same time, they would not be extravagant, and pay more than was required. The poor people to whom his hon. Friend had referred would get for the tax an immediate return which they highly valued, for the additional money must lead to a great increase both in the quantity and the quality of education in Scotland, unless the money were absolutely squandered away.
§ MR. CAMERON
opposed the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. Orr Ewing), inasmuch as its result would be to deprive the poor tenants of any power of management which they might be able to exercise in educational matters through the elections for school boards.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. MILLER
moved, in page 4, line 10, after "burgh," to insert—And who are not in arrear of any assessment for poor's rate or school rate which may have become due and payable prior to the date on which the electors exercise their votes.He had put that Amendment on the Paper because similar words were in the Poor Law Act of 1845, which was the general rule of the mode in which business was transacted in parishes. In his opinion, people who were not able to support what was wanted in the parish ought not to have a voice in the direction of it.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
opposed the Amendment, saying that he, too, was following a precedent, for there was no 1298 such provision in the English Act as that proposed by his hon. Friend. It was difficult to see, moreover, why the fact of a man getting into arrears for a poor rate should be a disqualification, any more than his getting into arrears for any other debt.
§ MR. ORR EWING
said, he thought it would be more satisfactory if the Lord Advocate had argued on the merits of the proposal than say that he followed the example of the English Act. He did not think it right that anyone who did not pay his rates should be allowed to exercise the franchise. He trusted his hon. Friend would go to a division.
§ MR. M'LAREN
, while agreeing that the Amendment was quite right in principle, doubted very much whether it was expedient to enact it now.
§ MR. ORR EWING
pointed out that the effect of the Amendment would be to make the constituencies for school board elections the same as those for the election of Members of Parliament.
§ MR. GORDON
remarked that the difficulty of the compound householder did not exist in Scotland, and it would be judicious to avoid having amongst these electors a number of persons who would not only be unable to pay the rates, but would have to apply to the school boards for the fees to give their children gratuitous education.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Amendment, as he might re-consider it before reaching the clause providing for the future elections.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. M'LAREN
moved, in line 13, at end of sub-section, add—Provided, that any person who by any law or custom has been or is now exempted from payment of poor's rate, by virtue of any office he may hold, may, on payment of the said rate for the preceding year and of the school rate levied therewith, and on his declaring that he is willing to continue to be charged with and pay the same annually, be entitled to vote in the election of the school board, and be eligible to be elected a member thereof.He said his proposal went entirely in an opposite direction to that of his hon. Friend, inasmuch as its object was to 1299 make the rule in Scotland and England uniform, instead of varying it. In Scotland the clergyman of the parish paid no poor rate either on his residence, or his salary, or his glebe; and while the Bill proposed that the school rate and the poor rate should be levied together, no provision whatever was made in it for this exemption. It was contrary to principle that a gentleman should be elected to the school board who was not liable for the school rate or the poor rate.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
sympathized with the opinion of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, that Established ministers ought to pay local and other taxes; but he was under a misapprehension in supposing that they were not liable to pay in respect of incomes. The Act of 1845 provided for liability to taxes on the part of the parish ministers in Scotland, and consequently there was no necessity for introducing a clause in the Education Bill to abolish the exemption. It might be desirable to deal with that matter at a more convenient opportunity, and in a Bill directly bearing upon it. Moreover, this franchise did not depend upon taxation, but on ownership and occupancy.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
, in moving that the cumulative vote should be applied to elections under the school board in Scotland, said, he did not regard this as merely a religious question. The principle of the Amendment was as applicable to Scotland as to England, and, in his judgment, its adoption was essential to the sound and satisfactory working of a united system of education. The majority of to-day might become the minority of to-morrow, and the majority in England might become the minority of Scotland or Ireland. The question was whether functions such as were entrusted to these boards could be given to a tyrant majority, which would be empowered to walk into the schools of their adversaries. The religious question—the most tender of all—was involved between the Protestants and Roman Catholics of Scotland, and unless some such provision was engrafted in the Bill one denomination would be predominant. It would be impossible to 1300 carry out this Bill unless fair play was allowed for difference of religious opinion, so that the boards might represent the relative and various shades of belief. The principle of cumulative voting had been tried in England. Its working had been impugned; but when an attempt was made to repeal it, an amount of testimony had been brought forward in favour of the satisfactory working of the clause in England, which ought to weigh in passing a Scotch Bill. In the interest of education, and with the view of cultivating good feeling among members of different denominations, and leading them to unite heartily in the cause of education, he cordially recommended that clause to the Committee.
At the end of the Clause, to add the words "At every election every voter shall be entitled to a number of votes equal to the number of the members of the School Board to be elected, and may give all such votes to one candidate, or may distribute them among the candidates as he sees fit."—(Sir Edward Colebrooke.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. SINCLAIR AYTOUN
supported the Amendment. On a question of representation he could see no ground for applying one rule to England and another to Scotland. Having supported the principle of the Amendment in the case of the English Education Bill, he could not consistently abstain from voting in favour of the present proposal. The minority ought not to rule, but, on the other hand, it should be heard; and the system which the Goverment had proposed with regard to the election of school boards in Scotland, while it would secure that the majority should govern, would also prevent the minority from obtaining a hearing. He believed that the hon. Baronet's clause would be very beneficial in promoting harmony.
§ MR. DIXON
said, he was very glad to find that the Scotch Education Bill did not contain a provision for establishing cumulative voting, and hoped the Government would resist the Amendment. He agreed with the hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Colebrooke) that it was desirable that Roman Catholics should be represented; but the only qualification which ought to be admitted for a seat on a school board was an educational one, and if a Roman Catholic possessed 1301 that, there was no reason why he should not be elected. He believed that would be the result where there were a large number of Roman Catholics, and men among them who were qualified for the post. A great number of Unitarians had been elected, although their religion was distinctly opposed to that of the majority of those among whom they lived. His objection to the cumulative vote was that it would introduce wrong considerations into the elections, and men would be elected for reasons which would unfit them for being useful members of a school board; and he hoped that disturbing element would not be introduced in Scotland, where education seemed more likely to be carried on harmoniously than it was in England.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he thought the great difficulty would be, in the country parishes of Scotland, to find persons who would be willing to take the trouble of serving on the school board. In the parishes generally there were three congregations besides the Roman Catholics. It appeared to him that the cumulative vote would go far to enable those congregations to return each a representative to the school board, and thereby it would remove the difficulty that would otherwise exist in getting members to serve.
§ MR. STAPLETON
saw no reason for making a distinction between England and Scotland in this respect, and therefore, unless the Committee was prepared to make a distinction, they ought to assent to the Amendment.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, it should be borne in mind that there was a novel system in England, and he believed that instead of having produced harmony, it had had the opposite effect. It had caused great distrust and much hostility in some of the districts in England in which it had been in operation, and with that experience before them, it was rather too much to ask that the principle should be applied to Scotland. The only argument of any force which he had heard urged in favour of the proposal had reference to the Roman Catholics. But as regarded the rural districts of Scotland, there were hardly any Roman Catholics to be found in them. ["Oh, oh!"] Roman Catholics were chiefly to be found in the larger towns and populous places, and he saw nothing in the present system of voting to prevent 1302 Roman Catholics from being returned in proportion to their numbers and influence in the different towns and districts in Scotland. He thought that, upon the whole, it was much better not to change the mode of voting proposed in the Bill.
§ MR. R. W. DUFF
said, he supported the Amendment. The Committee should remember that a very fair proportion of the proprietors in Scotland were Episcopalians, and it was admitted that they had voluntarily contributed very largely to the cause of education in that country. It would not, therefore, be good policy to exclude them from all chance of being represented on the school boards of Scotland.
§ MR. F. S. POWELL
said, he believed that the adoption of the cumulative vote in England had avoided much inconvenience and discontent that would have arisen under any other mode of voting. It was clear that only through the minority vote could the Roman Catholics be elected to the boards. He hoped that the cumulative principle, which had worked so well in England, would be also established in Scotland.
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
said, he thought that both in political and educational matters the principle of cumulative voting was a good one. His own defeat at the election for the London School Board was a proof that the cumulative vote did not confer an undue share of power on minorities. In many of the country districts it would be long before the party which was fonder of the rates than of education would be vanquished by the party which was fonder of education than of the rates. We were not legislating merely for the present, when there were religious difficulties, but also for the future, when there would be more important educational difficulties. It was a great mistake to suppose, as had been stated by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, that the Roman Catholic population of Scotland was almost exclusively confined to the large towns and the populous districts, for in the North there were many districts which the Reformation never penetrated, and where the name of John Knox had never been heard of until long after he was dead and buried. He had recently spent some time in the district of Braemar, in a village nearly half the population of which were Roman Catholics, and hereditary Roman Catholics. 1303 He was told by the Free Kirk minister that there were many other villages in which the same condition of things existed. Seeing that this Bill had a bearing on the question of Irish education, which was to be discussed next year, he was glad to note that there were present many Irish Members who supported the principle of cumulative voting. If it were not in the Irish Bill, Irish education would be handed over to the priesthood, who would levy rates on the Presbyterian and Protestant minority. He was therefore glad to see Irish Members supporting this principle to save their co-religionists from the domination of a Presbyterian majority, because he inferred that next year they would be equally ready to prevent a Presbyterian minority being taxed by a Roman Catholic majority.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, it had been erroneously assumed that the Bill excluded cumulative voting. It simply provided that the Scotch Education Department should frame rules for the conduct of elections, and that gave the Department power to issue rules based on cumulative voting; but he should not like the Bill to leave the Legislature without more precise direction. The question was far too important a one to be left to the discretion of a Government Department. The principle of cumulative voting was not originally in the English Bill; it was proposed in Committee, and was unanimously adopted; and though the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) proposed a Resolution adverse to it last year, such was the feeling of the House that he did not press the Motion to a division. On the whole, be thought the operation of the principle had been to diminish rather than to increase difficulties, and that many who opposed it owed their election to it. This Bill did not contain more distinct provisions, because the Government had wished to see whether there was a strong preponderance of feeling in Scotland against the principle or whether there was any strong reason why it should not be applied in Scotland. The Amendment having been proposed, it was found to be supported by Scotch Members representing influential constituencies. He should be sorry to see religious questions imported into the matter; and minorities might be worthy of representation on educational grounds. For instance, it 1304 was of importance to maintain the high standard of education in Scotland. This was a question upon which the Government did not wish in the slightest degree to dictate to the Committee. Being connected with the Department, he should prefer to be guided by a positive instruction from the Committee, but he saw no reason why there should be a law for Scotland different from that of England; and therefore, if there were a division, he should support the Amendment.
§ MR. GRAHAM
could not but admit that the principle of representation of minorities was in some respects a just principle, if equally and justly applied. If the proposition of his hon. Friend (Sir Edward Colebrooke) was adopted, it was proposed to apply it equally to the whole area of Scotland, and upon that ground the objections which he felt to it fell to the ground. He deplored as much as anyone the habit which had grown up of introducing religious questions into politics and the commonest affairs of life, and said the true radical cure was for Christian people to see that no child was left uninstructed in the matter of religious belief; and until that was done he sympathized with those who objected to the exclusion of the religious element from the schools of the country. As long as religious education was permitted to continue in schools, in fairness and common honesty the majority were bound to extend to those who differed from them in opinion the protection of the cumulative vote. Looking to future legislation as well, it was impossible not to see that Irish Protestants would desire to have a voice in the constitution of the school boards in that country. Desiring, therefore, to do what was right to others, he should vote for the proposed addition to the clause.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
, in spite of the eloquent sermon to which the Committee had just listened, expressed what he believed to be the universal objections of his constituents to the cumulative vote. He also complained of the course taken by the Vice President of the Council, in perfect consistency with his previous course upon the Ballot Bill. The right hon. Gentleman told the House in the early part of the evening—and had repeated the declaration in private conversation—that he should be guided by the opinions expressed by the Scotch Members. Having 1305 heard but a few of these, however, the right hon. Gentleman rose and prejudged the question by declaring his own opinion in favour of the cumulative vote. It was unfair to Scotch Members that they should thus be precluded from expressing their opinions, for, though they might express them verbally, if they attempted to give effect to them by a vote they all knew what their fate would be after such a declaration on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. With very few exceptions, the Scotch Members, he ventured to say, were opposed to the cumulative vote; and, though he belonged to the Episcopalian Church, he should scorn—as he believed Episcopalians generally would scorn—to, ask for any such protection. [Mr. R. W. DUFF said, the Episcopalians had universally petitioned in favour of it.] If that were so, he (Mr. Craufurd) was ashamed of them. He preferred to give freely to the people of Scotland the control of their education, because he had faith in the interest Scotch people took in the subject of education. The speech of the hon. Member for Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke) was a slur on the Scotch people. He denied the accuracy of the suggestion which had been made that the department had the power of giving a cumulative vote. It would be absurd to say that general powers of regulating an election carried with them the power of conferring a particular franchise.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
complained that the hon. Member should have taken the very unusual course of referring to private conversations; but he assured him that he had said nothing more in private than what he had openly stated in the House. Of course, it was a matter on which the Government desired to know the opinions of Scotch Members; but the Bill would make very little progress if the Government waited until every Scotch Member had expressed his opinion.
§ MR. ANDERSON
did not agree with the views of his hon. Colleague (Mr. Graham), who did not, he thought, represent the opinions of the constituency of Glasgow on this matter. He (Mr. Anderson) regarded the cumulative vote as a clumsy experiment, which ought not to be extended to Scotland until time had proved whether it was a good thing or a bad thing in England.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 162; Noes 36: Majority 126.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 9 to 18, inclusive, agreed to.
§ Clause 19 (School board declared to be a body corporate. Managers.)
§ MR. GORDON
moved, in page 8, line 39, after "fit" to insert—To fix the subjects of instruction to be taught in the school or schools Under their management: Provided always, That in all such schools there shall be afforded instruction in the Holy Scriptures, and.The hon. and learned Gentleman observed that the insertion of those words would carry out the spirit of the Resolution which upon his Motion the House adopted some time ago. If this question was important before Monday last, it became of greater importance in consequence of a clause being then passed which destroyed entirely the constitution and government of the parochial schools in Scotland. If those schools had been left to the people of Scotland they would have been models, after which other schools might have been formed. Under the parish schools as existing at present, the law and practice was that instruction should be given to the children in the Holy Scriptures; but on Monday last the Committee did all in their power to abolish the system of definite religious instruction, which had existed for 300 years. The English Bill of 1870 left religious teaching in denominational schools untouched, subject to a Conscience Clause; but the constitution of the parish schools in Scotland having been destroyed by a recent vote of the Committee, they were bound to make some provision for religious teaching. He trusted that his Resolution of the 7th of May would be adhered to. He would not repeat the arguments he then used, for they were never answered, being met by silence on the other side of the House. The representatives of the different churches had since met. 1307 The assembly of the Established Church consisted not merely of clergymen, but of laymen representing the various burghs, and a resolution approving his Resolutions was adopted by it, with the concurrence of the Provosts of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and of men of all political opinions. One of the speakers—a gentleman who proposed the Home Secretary at his last election—expressed a hope that instruction in the Scriptures should be made statutory by the Government. The Free Church, or at least two-thirds of their Assembly, declined to offer an opinion on his Resolution, because it might not be approved by the Government—not a very high principle on which to act; but they still said—as they had always done—that they would welcome any such provision as he advocated. It had been stated that he would force on all schools not only the Bible, but the Shorter Catechism—an admirable epitome, identical in doctrine with the Thirty-Nine Articles. This, however, was incorrect, for his Resolution left denominational schools untouched as regarded religion, and applied only to rate-supported schools, which were said to be the same as the old parish schools, and in which, therefore, the long-established practice ought to be continued. As to the United Presbyterians, they had not hitherto shown a very active interest in education, having largely sent their children to the parish schools without any objection to the religious teaching, and having only established 49 schools of their own, accommodating 4,500 scholars. They were opposed to the recognition even of the Scriptures as part of the instruction to be given by the master, contending that religious teaching should be given at a different hour by a different agent. It was stated at their synod by Dr. Taylor and others, that, according to the Bill, whatever money was voted for schools would be exclusively for secular instruction, and that the Lord Advocate, on being asked whether the object of the measure was not to prevent the application of public money to anything but secular instruction, had replied that that was certainly its intention. The synod, accordingly, approved the Bill as a secular one, under which no rates could be applied to the teaching of religion. The Lord Advocate had twitted him with advocating a denominational system; but he was in 1308 favour of a national system on sound principles, and he objected to the exclusion of any reference to the Bible or religious instruction, for the people of Scotland, being attached to the present system, which had worked so beneficially, would reject one which gave no recognition to religion. The children of different bodies had hitherto attended the parish schools, no religious difficulty having existed, but since the introduction of this Bill societies had for the first time been established for the exclusion of religious teaching from schools. One of these was styled a Society for the Promotion of Religious Education, an object which, strangely enough, it proposed to effect by excluding such education from the schools. Another society maintained that religious instruction should not be given during the ordinary school hours, nor by the master. The formation of these societies rendered it desirable that Parliament should settle the question of religious teaching, for otherwise warm contests were likely to ensue. The learned Lord Advocate the other night made some remarks about Petitions, and adopted a tone which, on reflection, he would hardly think was justifiable. He had spoken of servant girls being induced to put down their names to Petitions which they did not understand. Well, singular enough, later that very night he himself received a letter telling him of a Petition that was transmitted to him from Stranraer, the largest burgh connected with the district which the Lord Advocate represented. There must be intellectual electors in Stranraer, seeing that they returned so able a Representative; and, moreover, they had had the advantage of being well drilled on that subject by their Member. What, then, was his astonishment to find that, there being 650 electors available at Stranraer, 451 of them had signed the Petition in favour of his Resolution. Would the learned Lord say that was not a Petition entitled to consideration? In conclusion, if they were sweeping away the present system, they ought to take care to found their new system to some extent on that religious instruction which had existed so long in accordance with the feelings of the people of Scotland. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.
In page 8, line 39, after the word "fit," to insert the words "to fix the subjects of instruction to be taught in the school or schools under their management: Provided always, That in all such schools there shall be afforded instruction in the Holy Scriptures, and."—(Mr. Gordon.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ DR. LYON PLAYFAIR
The Amendment proposed by my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gordon) is very simple, and is confined to Bible teaching only; but he has honestly told us that we must assume it is the first effort to carry into practical effect the Resolution which he recently persuaded this House to accept, and which reappears as an Amendment to Clause 50, and more definitely as one to the Preamble, for that explains the whole principle for which he contends. In fact, then, we must take the Resolution as a whole in our discussion, and assume that all schools shall have instruction in the Holy Scriptures according to the existing law and practice. There is no doubt as to what the practice is, though there seems to be opposite interpretations of the law. The practice—or, as it is termed, "the use and wont"—is to give instruction in the Bible, subject to the dogmas of the Shorter Catechism. This practice is not universal, but it exists in about 86 per cent of the schools in Scotland. The law on which my hon. and learned Friend chiefly relies is that of 1861, which made it imperative on teachers of parochial schools to make a declaration, not only that they would teach nothing opposed to Holy Scriptures and the Shorter Catechism, but that they would faithfully conform thereto in their teaching. My hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate contends, as I understand him, that this is a negative and not a positive law, and that it does not enjoin of necessity the teaching of the Holy Scriptures either at all or in conjunction with the Shorter Catechism. He views it very much like the declaration which the Act of 1853 required from University Professors, and which clearly was negative, because it would be absurd to speak of Latin, Greek, mathematics, and the sciences being taught in conformity with the Shorter Catechism. When two distinguished Scotch lawyers, such as the present and the past Lord Advocate, give such different interpretations of the law, an outsider like myself is driven to 1310 consider the purposes for which the Act of 1861 was passed. I have, therefore, carefully read over the debates in both Houses of Parliament when that law was made, and I find the clearest evidence, that only one idea then prevailed, and that was to make it compulsory on parochial teachers not only to give instruction in the Holy Scriptures, but to give that in conformity with the interpretation of the Shorter Catechism. Lord Advocate Moncreiff introduced the Bill of 1861, with an apology that in abrogating the Confession of Faith and submission to the Church of Scotland as a schoolmaster's test, he was at the same time actually proposing another test. He said—The Bill provides that they should teach the Holy Scriptures and the Shorter Catechism as set forth by the Westminster Confession of Faith."—[3 Hansard, clxiii. 1544.]Mr. Adam Black, in opposing the test, remarked—At present all that was necessary was a Confession of Faith; and the teacher was not bound to teach any theological doctrines, but this Bill proposed to lay down that he should teach doctrines in accordance with the Short Catechism."—[Ibid., 1545.]Neither at the second reading nor in Committee was there the slightest departure from the view that this double object was the positive purpose of the Bill. When the Bill passed into the Upper House, the Duke of Argyll, who introduced it, said—What was now proposed was merely that the schoolmaster should sign a declaration that he was willing to give moral and religious education in conformity with the Shorter Catechism.Read them by the spirit in which the Act of 1861 was passed, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Mr. G. Hardy) that it is quite clear the purpose of the Act of 1861, and its common sense reading, is to impose religious teaching, subject to the Shorter Catechism in all parochial schools. So far, then, the law and practice of Scotch schools are concordant in purpose, but they are not so in extent; for while the practice extends to 86 per cent of the schools in Scotland, the law only reaches 24 per cent. The law, in fact, is strictly limited to 1,200 parochial teachers, out of 5,000 teachers of elementary schools; but my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities asks to take this law of very partial 1311 operations not applicable to one-fourth of the schools of Scotland, and make it of universal application to all the schools in Scotland. If I have made myself clear, the House will understand that the question before them is not whether they will introduce the Bible into schools, but whether the Bible shall be taught as explained in the Shorter Catechism—for that is the practice—and, as I have shown, it was undoubtedly intended to be the law in regard to parochial schools, whether the words of the Act bear out that interpretation or not. The House, then, in passing a Resolution some weeks ago to the effect that this law and practice should form the basis of this Bill, did in reality resolve that, in all State aid to schools in Scotland, the condition must be made that religious instruction should be given according to the most rigid forms of Presbyterian Calvinism. Are the Episcopalians and Roman Catholics in this House prepared to accept this condition for aid as applied to schools of their persuasion in Scotland? For the bare Resolution would destroy separate denominational education as a system, and would establish a State education on the basis of the dominant denomination. Are the Presbyterian Members for Scotland prepared to extend this principle to Ireland, for they must inevitably do so if they pass it for Scotland? Do not let us be in any deception about the effects of the Resolution. The law, so far as it exists, and the practice of Scotland, which you now propose to convert into law, are perfectly in accord, and both demand religion as interpreted by the Shorter Catechism, with its well-pronounced views as to predestination and election. If we incorporate the words proposed as a condition of State aid to schools, all Episcopalian schools must either accept the Shorter Catechism in lieu of that of the English Church or be refused Government grants, and Roman Catholics must be content to have their Douay version of the Bible interpreted by the light of the Scotch Churches. Now, let me tell my dissenting friends on this side of the House what follows of necessity. If these words govern the Act, then the Act would enjoin a particular form of dogmatical religion, and thus make that the condition for State aid to schools; but when State aid is thus given, State inspection follows as a necessity, so that in Scotland 1312 State aid to dogmatic religion and dogmatic religious inspection by the State would be enacted, while both are expressly prohibited in regard to schools in England. These would be the consequences of introducing the words that religious instruction should be given according to the "existing law and practice of Scotland;" but observe how the case stands if you make no such enactment. Then, the use and wont or custom of the country still prevails as of old. Under it 86 per cent of the schools teach the Bible and the Catechism; but they do so under the liberty of withdrawal to those who dissent from the teaching. This custom does not interfere with Episcopalians and Roman Catholics teaching what they please, though they receive aid from the State. As long as you leave religious instruction to be regulated by custom you are reposing with security on the religious sense of a whole people; but as soon as law enforces what custom produced without law, then you distrust that religious sense. Which do you think is the best security for religion? Do you believe that religion, which for past centuries has wholly sprung up from the hearts of a people, is likely to well up more freely in the future from the arid clauses of a compulsory law? How strange a thing it seems to enact a love for the Bible by statute! Has the love for the Bible in Scotland become so weak that you must come between the source of that love and the people by a legislative enactment? And yet the strange reason urged for this legislation is that it would merely represent in law the universal use and wont of the country without law. Religious instruction is given in every school in Scotland with one solitary exception, and you are asked to enforce it by statute. It has so prevailed for centuries—ever since the time of John Knox, and most certainly cannot have its origin in the partial declaratory law of 1861, which is only applicable to 24 per cent of the schools. Its origin must be far deeper than that, and is to be found in the habits, convictions, and religious sense of a whole people—and yet this Parliament, having the most solid grounds for trust and confidence that any Legislature can have in a people which it helps to rule, is asked to distrust my countrymen, to coerce them into religion, and to control their ideas 1313 of eternity by an Act of Parliament. The very universality of a voluntary custom is surely a strange occasion for a compulsory law. A habit may be universal, and even most desirable; but that forms no reason why it should be made obligatory by statute. Thus, it is the universal custom of Scotch mothers to give milk to their newborn babes, and it is a most proper and desirable habit that they should continue to do so; but would we not be considered legislative idiots if we passed a statute to that effect? It is quite as universal to teach the Bible in Scotch schools, and it seems an equal waste of the force of law to compel it. I rarely like to refer to my personal convictions; but will hon. Gentlemen opposite pardon me if I remind them that I have not unfrequently cooperated with them in resisting attacks made upon religious instruction in schools in England. In opposing the efforts of my hon. and learned Friend, it is not likely that I could be influenced by feelings of hostility to religion, for then I would be a traitor to the highest interests of my country. I oppose the practical operation of the Resolution which was passed, because I am firmly convinced it will seriously damage religion in Scotland, for its effect would be not to enforce religious instruction, on which all are agreed, but to regulate that by certain forms of Presbyterian Calvinism on which there is no common agreement. Even where the dogmas are accepted, the State interference with them will stir up bitter hostilities. There are three Churches with common Articles of Faith which divide between them 86 per cent of the population of Scotland; but one of these, the United Presbyterian Church, contends that the State and the schoolmasters should have nothing to do with religious teaching in schools, and claims that as the function of the parents and of the Churches. Is it not clear that you will throw this important body in antagonism to your school system if you enact by law that both the State and the schoolmasters shall be compelled to do that which is in direct violation of its principles as a Church? But it is not the only body which you stir into active opposition by such a proceeding. There are two Education Leagues in Scotland. One has its head-quarters in Edinburgh, and advocates united secular teaching under the schoolmasters, and 1314 separate religious teaching by ministers of religion; the other has its headquarters in Glasgow, and advocates instruction in the Bible without any creeds and dogmas; for they contend, and I think with great truth, that no book in existence is less sectarian and less dogmatic than the Bible, and that the creeds and dogmas thrown over it like a pauper's pall by the various Churches arise from the poverty of men's conceptions. Is it not obvious that these three important bodies will oppose a school system based on the Resolution which we have passed? One thing unites these three bodies in common with all the people of Scotland, and that is, that religious instruction should be given in schools. All of them are tending to this one end. But you come between them and their conscience, and say that a particular way of imparting religious instruction, by the aid of the Shorter Catechism, shall be the only way for the future. You little know the spirit of the Scotch people, if you think they will quietly submit to this insult to their religious convictions when they realize what it means. It will give the greatest stimulus to the action of those different bodies, and instead of preserving the use and wont, it will greatly tend to produce variety in the custom of the country. In England, the Education Act gave the greatest freedom to religious and even to secular teaching; but now, if the words of the Resolution mean anything, Scotland cannot have secular schools aided by the State, nor, unless you provide specially to prevent the limiting effects of the "existing law and practice," can there be any denominational teaching when it is not in accord with the Shorter Catechism? The few Secularists will be made martyrs, and martyrdom is a soil which is wonderfully productive. The 14 per cent of Episcopalians and Roman Catholics will be left out in the cold, or must be brought in, contrary to the true meaning of the words which we are called upon to make law. I am sorry that I have spoken at such length in Committee; but the terms of the Resolution which we are called upon to give practical effect to, or substantially to reverse, are fraught with important consequences to Scotland. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gordon) would not have proposed it if he had not thought he was doing good service to religion. I, on the other hand, think 1315 it will rapidly deteriorate religious instruction in our schools; that it will evoke a spirit of hostility to that instruction; and that it seriously interferes with the liberty of conscience. As a security for religion, it appears to me to be infinitely less potent than the religious sense of the people which produced the use and wont. Religious instruction ceases to have its strength in national custom the moment you make that statutory, and your distrust and rejection of the religious sense of an entire people will have little compensation in the verbal interpretations which lawyers may extract from the dry clauses of an Act of Parliament.
§ MR. PERCY WYNDHAM
said, he thought that the most important object that the Committee should have in view was to carry out the wishes of the people of Scotland, who he was afraid in the present case were not fully represented by the Scotch Members. It must always be a misfortune for a locality to have all its representatives on one side of the House on particular occasions. This was a Bill brought in by the Government, and it was universally supported by the Scotch Members, who regarded themselves as bound to give their allegiance to the Government rather than to carry out the wishes of their constituents. This Bill went far beyond the English Education Act. The only effect of leaving the Bill as it now stood would be to give facilities to a small section of secularists to raise up acrimonious religious disputes.
remarked that when the English Education Act was under discussion the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) had proposed an Amendment precisely similar to that now under discussion; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. G. Hardy) had spoken against it, and it had been rejected by a majority of 250 to 81. He hoped the Committee would not adopt the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gordon). Surely there was no need whatever for Parliament to make that which was the universal practice in the Scotch schools compulsory.
§ DR. BALL
took quite a different view of this Amendment from that taken by the hon. Gentleman the Member for 1316 the University of Edinburgh (Dr. Lyon Playfair). So far from this Amendment enforcing dogmatic teaching, it excluded dogmatic teaching. ["Oh!"] It appeared to him that what the hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh advocated was this—that it should not be in the power of those who governed these schools to enforce dogmatic teaching. He (Dr. Ball) supported the Amendment because instead of increasing that system, it tended to mitigate it. All it proposed was that the sacred Scriptures should be taught in the schools, not dogmatically, but simply. He voted for this Amendment because he believed the Scotch people desired it, viewing what it enjoined as a homage to the Scriptures. He was surprised to hear hon. Gentlemen opposite object to this Amendment, because one of their greatest authorities—namely, Earl Russell—had expressed himself to the effect that the course proposed by this Amendment was the proper mode of dealing with the Education question. The people of Scotland were anxious to have some recognition of religion in their education, and he (Dr. Ball) believed that it could not be done more fairly, or with more justice to the various forms of religion in Scotland, than by this Amendment. He did not pretend to say that only one uniform system of education was to be adopted, or that if this were not a Bill relating to education in Scotland the course proposed by his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gordon) was in every case to be followed; but if they were to have regard to the feeling of the people of Scotland, he believed they should adopt the Amendment.
said, the clause with which the Committee were dealing was not a clause that related to the subject-matter of instruction at all. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Gordon) had taken the opportunity of thrusting his scheme for religious instruction into a clause on the constitution of the school boards. But the Committee were not to be put from their purpose by a stratagem of that kind. During the progress of the Education Bill for England in 1870, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) for the first time, and the noble Lord (Lord Augustus Hervey) subsequently, moved that the reading of the Holy Scriptures should be compulsory in schools; but 1317 the House by very large majorities, and without distinction of party, determined not to introduce that compulsory clause. They had heard something about a corpus vile in reference to this question, and it appeared that Scotland was to be selected for the purpose. It must be remembered that it was not the law of that country at this moment that religion should be taught in school. The hon. and learned Gentleman invited the Committee to adopt an innovation. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had quoted an authority which he said ought to be one of the highest authorities of the Liberal party. He (Mr. Gladstone) would quote a gentleman who ought to be of very high authority with the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Dr. Cooke said the religious spirit and system of the schools of Scotland were secured not by religious teaching, but by placing the schools under the jurisdiction of the Presbytery. That was the ancient law of Scotland, which was relaxed in 1861, and what was now proposed by the Amendment was a complete innovation? Why? Because it was said that it was the wish of the Scotch people to have the Scriptures read in their schools. As well might it be said that it was the wish of England that there should be compulsory reading of the Scriptures, because in point of fact they were so read in all schools, with a few exceptions. The House had refused the proposal to pass a compulsory clause on the subject; yet it was urged to do so now in the case of Scotland.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, the right hon. Gentleman would allow him to observe that the Amendment proposed in the case of the English Education Act was that—The Holy Scriptures shall form part of the daily reading and teaching in such school, but no religious catechism or religious formulary which is distinctive of any particular denomination shall be taught therein,
said, that he was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had read the whole of the Amendment; but he was entitled to refer to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, because the reasoning of it was based upon grounds which formed the conclusive argument for rejecting this Amendment. With regard to the language that had been held in reference to the feelings of the 1318 Scotch people, he was bound to observe that all the lessons he had received on the theory and practice of the Constitution taught him that the wishes of a country were to be learnt from its representatives, and he must say it was little less than ludicrous when a variety of Gentlemen sitting opposite—most respectable Gentlemen all, aye, and Scotchmen by blood, habit, and character, some of whom had not been able to become representatives of Scotland, and had been rejected by constituencies in Scotland, came forward night after night to deplore the condition of the people of Scotland on this subject in the very teeth of the representatives of Scotland, who declared—and he presumed they were better judges—that this Bill was suitable to the case of their constituents. There were two principles which regulated the conduct of Government and Parliament with respect to this great subject of the education of the people. The first was, that they should respect, as far as possible, the local system of instruction. It was on that account, in a principal degree, that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. G. Hardy) declined to support the Motion of his right hon. Friend near him (Sir John Pakington). The right hon. Gentleman said that—Having voted for freedom of religious teaching when the Committee divided on the Amendment of his right hon. Friend the Member for North Devonshire (Sir Stafford Northcote). He would feel great difficulty in supporting the proposition now before the Committee, because the same freedom that he asked for members of the Church of England he was willing to extend to Dissenters and Roman Catholics."—[3 Hansard, ccii. 1268.]There was no doubt that the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Gordon) was a restriction of the freedom of religious teaching. The other principle which guided Parliament in the English Bill was equally infringed by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and that principle was the clear separation of the State from direct responsibility for religious education. That was a principle which lay at the root of the whole of their proceedings, and he wanted to know whether they were to depart from it now or not? It was idle to suppose that they could allow themselves to be bewitched or fascinated by the hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. and learned Gentleman required that there should be daily readings of the Scriptures 1319 in the schools of Scotland. But if they had the reading of the Scriptures, instruction in them must follow; and now it was proposed for the first time that religious instruction should be made compulsory. The hon. and learned Gentleman proposed it because it was very much the custom in the schools; but as it was the custom of the people to attend church on the Sunday, would the hon. and learned Gentleman propose that they should be compelled to go to church? The words which the hon. and learned Gentleman now invited the Committee to vote were but the thin end of his wedge. Having ordered the people of Scotland to have daily religious instruction in the schools, the hon. and learned Gentleman proceeded, in consistency, to provide that there should be State Inspectors to look after the instruction. But when Parliament passed the English Education Act two years ago, one of the changes which was felt to be a real and great advantage was the separation of the State from the responsibilities for religious instruction. In Scotland they had got four different sets of Inspectors, belonging to different denominations, all crossing one another in their paths and orbits, to inspect the different schools. And that was the system which the hon. and learned Gentleman invited Parliament to maintain. That was the first consequence. The next was, that the State grants should be given for religious instruction. But they had always contended—and Parliament had so understood in the English Act—that the grants made by public authority, whether from the Exchequer direct or from the rate, should be given in respect of secular, and not of religious instruction. But that was not all. In the 65th clause the hon. and learned Gentleman invited the Committee to leave out the Time-Table, which was one of the great securities for religious liberty. He did not think that either the hon. and learned Gentleman himself, or most of those who voted with him on the former occasion, had considered how far such a course would lead them. One other development was so extraordinary that he was almost unwilling to mention it. The hon. and learned Gentleman said no child was to be compelled to receive instruction in the Scriptures. If not, he (Mr. Gladstone) did not understand why it was that school boards 1320 and masters were to be compelled to give it. They might have in a district exclusively Roman Catholic children, the whole of whose parents objected to their receiving religious instruction; and yet the teachers under the provisions of the hon. and learned Gentleman were compelled to give it. The hon. and learned Gentleman said he would not compel the children to receive religious instruction, but he would compel the teachers to give it. But the hon. and learned Gentleman did not stop even there, because he proposed to amend the 73rd clause by striking out the word "secular." In the 68th clause it was provided that the parents should be compelled to cause their children to attend school the whole time the school was open. By striking out the word "secular," therefore, the children would be compelled to attend the whole time that instruction, including religious instruction, was given, though many of them might be unwilling to receive it. Now in objecting to that course, he hoped it would not be supposed that they were indifferent to religious instruction. No such feeling was imputable to them. They stood on the great principles as guides and securities in the English Act—namely, a respect for religious freedom, and their resolute determination to keep the State aloof from all matters of religious controversy, which, if mixed up with their educational system, they believed would poison that system, and convert to mischief and discord that which they hoped would result in the spread of intelligence and peace.
said, the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) which he quoted a short while ago was "the Holy Scriptures shall form part of the daily reading and teaching in such schools; but." The words which followed the Amendment were—no religious catechism or religious formulary which is distinctive of any particular denomination shall be taught therein.These were words contained in the Bill and now formed part of the Education Act, although the Amendment of the right hon. Baronet had been rejected.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that if the hon. Gentleman turned back to page 1,265 of the book which he had got, he would find this— 1321Sir JOHN PAKINGTON said he rose to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice, to leave out sub-section 2, and insert 'the Holy Scriptures shall form part of the daily reading and teaching in such school, but no religious catechism or religious formulary which is distinctive of any particular denomination shall be taught therein—"'but according to the practice of the House, what was put from the Chair on that occasion was only the first part of the Amendment, because the remainder was already expressed in the clause. It was true that in speaking on the English Bill he argued the case differently; but he did so because the circumstances of England differed from those of Scotland. In England the denominational system was carried out by means of schools supported by voluntary contributions; but in Scotland the schools were maintained by contributions from the heritors, obtained in such a form as practically to amount to rates. These parochial schools in Scotland, however, were denominational schools inasmuch that they taught the Scriptures and the Shorter Catechism. The hon. and learned Member for the University of Edinburgh (Dr. Lyon Playfair) asked what was the use of making any change by law upon this subject; but he (Mr. G. Hardy), for one, could not admit that the Amendment would, if passed, have the effect of making any such change. The only change that could be made would be to render less stringent the rule which existed at present, by enabling the different religious bodies in Scotland to read the Holy Scriptures according to their own tenets. In arguing this question in the progress of the English Bill he expressed his opinion that it would in any district, where a large body of the population belonged to a particular religion, be expedient to allow them to found schools for the teaching of their own religion rather than to force schools of a different character upon them. In Scotland the mass of the people, though they differed somewhat in matters not connected with religious teaching, were Presbyterian, and, therefore, the same provision that was required in England was not necessary there. With respect to the speech he made on a former occasion, he could only say that it was made upon a Motion of a different character from that now under discussion, a Motion which struck at the very root of the first principle of teaching in England— 1322 namely, that the teaching should be according to the formularies and tenets of the people taught. It was utterly impossible to have such a system as had been called "evangelical unsectarian" education. Religious education, in the true sense of the word, was impossible unless it was based upon some definite set of tenets.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government denied that religious instruction was laid down in the earlier period of the parochial system; but he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that in the Act of 1567 it was distinctly laid down that—The youth of the country shall be brought up and instructed in the fear of God and in good manners. And it is good both for their bodies and souls that God's word should be rooted in them.How, he would ask, was "God's word to be rooted in them," except by means of the Bible? That declaration was repeated in the Acts of 1613, 1663, 1693, and 1803. The Bill now before the House would, if passed as drawn, destroy the system which had existed and had worked well in Scotland for centuries.
denied that he had quoted from the Act of 1567. What he quoted was Dr. Cooke's description—which he believed to be accurate—of the Act in question, which did not propose religious teaching as the Committee were now asked to prescribe it by passing the Amendment under consideration.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
denied that the Amendment would have the effect of compelling dogmatic religious teaching in schools. He was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had thought it necessary to cast a sneer upon the Scotch Gentlemen in that House who represented English constituencies. Although he (Lord Henry Scott) represented an English constituency, it was not because he was rejected by a Scotch constituency. He wished that the right hon. Gentleman could console himself in the same way. The taunt came with a very bad grace from one who had taken refuge in one constituency because he was rejected by those whom he eagerly sought to represent, and who presided over a Cabinet two Members of which—the Home Secretary and the Chief Secretary for Ireland—had been compelled to run away from the constituencies they represented 1323 a short time ago, one of them to find a refuge in Scotland.
§ MR. GRAHAM
said, that the Petitions presented in favour of this Motion were the result of an organized movement in Scotland, which misrepresented the real character of the Bill as one for the exclusion of the Bible from the schools. The people did not want the Bible excluded from their schools, and they did not think a falsehood was being told to them in the name of religion, and they therefore signed those Petitions. But their opinions on the religious question in connection with the Bill might be well learnt from the three great religious Assemblies that represented the country. Since the Resolution of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Gordon) was carried those Assemblies had met in Scotland. In the Established Church Assembly Principal Tulloch, a clergyman of great distinction, stated that the Bill of the Lord Advocate offered adequate security for religious teaching in the national schools. The Rev. Dr. Elder, in the Free Church Assembly, stated that the Bill offered every existing guarantee for religious education in the national schools, and a resolution in that sense was passed by a majority of two to one. And in the United Presbyterian Assembly a resolution was unanimously passed condemning the Resolution of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite. A movement like this, founded on a desire to obstruct, deserved no respect, and he hoped it would meet with the condemnation of the Committee.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
wished the Committee to know that in the General Assembly of the Established Church a resolution approving the Resolution of May 7 was carried by 247 to 42, the minority being Principal Tulloch's party. With regard to the other Assemblies of Scotland, the principle of their action appeared to be a deadly hatred of the Established Church, and therefore their resolutions were not much to be regarded. Both the Prime Minister and the Lord Advocate had taunted those who were Scotchmen by blood and lineage with being aliens. Had the Prime Minister never stood for a constituency which had rejected him? When the right hon. Gentleman was rejected by Lancashire—the bone and sinew of England—he took refuge in 1324 Greenwich, and even there, when he had let go his last anchor, he could not find it again without offering a bribe to his constituents. They were told they were to fall back on the three R's. But in teaching reading to a child, what was that child to read? Was he to read the right hon. Gentleman's speeches delivered in Lancashire or in Stranraer? The child must be taught to read from the Scriptures, from which every Scotchman was taught to read; but the 65th clause of this Bill proscribed religious instruction during every hour of the day, except at the beginning and at the end of the teaching.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
It appears from the observations made by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, with respect to education in this country, that the right hon. Gentleman has advanced considerably upon the principle of 1870 towards the secular system. What are we dealing with? We are dealing with Scotch education, and I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman, if his mind was the same in 1870 upon the subject, why he did not include Scotland in the measure of that year? Now, it is perfectly well known that he did not make that attempt, because he had reason to believe that if those Members who were distinctly in favour of religious education being considered as an essential portion of the conditions for the reception of a grant or of rates in the case of English schools, had had the aid which they had a right to expect from Scotland, that the Elementary Education Act of 1870 would have been modified in the sense of the Scotch system. In the course of this discussion a good deal has been said about the views of the Scotch people, and as to what is termed "the use and wont" of Scotland in the matter of education. Those terms "use and wont" describe the common law of Scotland in the matter of education. The common law of Scotland has, in the words of John Knox, been steadily directed to the "godly upbringing of youth." The Scotch people perfectly understand what they mean by religious education. They mean instruction in the Bible. In 1870, when speaking on the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord (Lord Augustus Hervey), I remember asking this question—"You say you are in favour of religious education; what religion do you mean?" But 1325 I received no answer. The Scotch people however, have answered that question for generations for themselves, and they claim in this matter to be treated as a nation—that, as long as you leave them with a separate Code and separate administration of justice, and recognize the difference between Scotch and English education in other respects, you shall respect also their religious feelings in the matter of education according to the use and wont of the common law of their country. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of freedom, and of endangering religious freedom. I ask what greater invasion of religious freedom there can be than that—because in England we have a different law—this House should declare that the peculiar freedom of Scotland shall be sacrificed in this matter of religious education? Why, the argument runs all the other way. Whither may not his desire for uniformity carry the right hon. Gentleman? It will, I suppose, next induce him to say, because in Ireland the Church has been disestablished, and because, unfortunately for Ireland, we have been obliged to pass Coercion Acts, therefore England shall have her Church disestablished also, and England, like Ireland, shall submit to Coercion Acts. Then, by-and-by, he will extend the same thing to Scotland. Why, there never was an argument more misplaced than when the right hon. Gentleman appealed to freedom. In what does freedom consist but in respect for the national will? You cannot legislate for a nation by sections so small that each community shall have its peculiar fancy enacted by law; but you can do this in dealing with nations. This you can do. When you have entered into co-partnership, as England has done with Scotland by the Act of Union, you can respect the conditions of your bargain; you can respect the freedom which the Scottish people stipulated should be reserved to them, and especially in the matters of education and of religion. Why, the next thing the Scottish people may expect may reasonably be this, from the right hon. Gentleman's state of mind—that he will argue, if he does not disestablish the Church of England that, because an Episcopacy exists in England, therefore it should be enforced in Scotland. Sir, this blind adherence to uniformity is, in fact, a disguise for tyranny. Now, whence did this system 1326 come from, which is becoming so popular in this House, that education should be compulsory? Where did it originate? It originated during the first French Revolution with Danton, who proclaimed from the tribune that every child is—first, the child of the State, and then, the child of its parents; and acting upon that principle he and Robespierre attempted to grasp the guidance of the education of every child in France, but they failed. And if you adopt this principle, the difficulties which surround you in meeting the great variety of opinion which prevails, divided as it is between Scotch opinion, English opinion, and Irish opinion, will lead you, not to the establishment of freedom everywhere, but to despotism throughout. Therefore, Sir, being thoroughly and sincerely anxious to maintain the freedom of education for which Scotland stipulated for at the Union, I give my hearty support to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Glasgow (Mr. Gordon).
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 160; Noes 204: Majority 44.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
§ House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock.