HC Deb 21 June 1872 vol 212 cc22-6

(The Lord Advocate, Mr. Secretary Bruce, Mr. William Edward Forster.)

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


said, he wished to call attention to an occurrence which took place on the previous evening. On postponed Clause 2 being put from the Chair, it was declared to be negatived; yet at a later period of the evening the Lord Advocate endeavoured to get the Committee to pass a similar clause, with an alteration of one or two words; acquitting the Lord Advocate of any intention of obtaining an undue advantage, he thought such a course deserve condemnation, as reflecting discredit on the proceedings of the House.


said, he presumed that what the Lord Advocate intended to do last night was to negative the 3rd, and not the 2nd clause; but as the 2nd clause was rejected, he kept the 3rd clause in the Bill, which was not required if the new clause the learned Lord Advocate proposed were inserted. He (Mr. Orr Ewing) wished to know whether he really proposed to keep both clauses in the Bill? If he did so, there would be two sets of officials to do the same work, and he feared that the management of Scotch education, which had hitherto cost nothing, would in the hands of Education Departments, local treasurers, and collectors, and pedagogues to hunt up absentees, prove very expensive.


said, he also felt anxious about the question of expenditure, and he begged to ask the Lord Advocate whether the people of Scotland were to bear the expenditure of establishing the whole of the machinery which would be rendered necessary by the provisions of this Bill, or whether the people of England were to be Called upon to pay a share towards the education of the people of Scotland?


said, the organizing Commissioners appointed by the new clause of which the Committee approved last night, were to hold office temporarily—that was to say, for three years, with power to extend the period of five years if found necessary. While they were in office, they would be substantially the only officers in Scotland, of course, with the exception of their secretary, clerk, office-keeper, or other person who might be required for the proper discharge of their duties. It was not contemplated to have anything of the nature of a permanent establishment in Scotland; but, while there were not to be two establishments, it would be necessary to have officers in Scotland after the temporary Commission had concluded its labours; and that was the reason why both clauses were to be retained. Clause 2 last night was negatived on account of an error of his own; and as it was only discovered on the instant, it could not be remedied, and the most easy course, he was informed, was that the clause should be negatived, and a new one introduced. He hoped that explanation would be satisfactory. As to the question of the hon. Member (Mr. Mellor), regarding the expenses connected with the administration of the Scotch Education Act, all he could say was that we were a united kingdom, and the people of Scotland would be taxed fairly, according to their ability, to contribute to the defraying of the expenses of the United Kingdom. Since the English Act was passed the people of Scotland had paid their share of the expenses of working that Act, and he supposed it would not be deemed any hardship if the people of England were called upon to pay their share of the expenses of working the Scotch Education Act.


was exceedingly happy to find that the Lord Advocate had at last discovered that Scotland was a part of the United Kingdom, and that when expenses were laid upon the taxpayers of this country, those Members who were Scotchmen by birth, though not favoured with the confidence of constituencies of their own, had a perfect right, on behalf of their English constituencies, to raise their voice when such an enormous outlay was proposed as there was under the Bill. He would also remind the Prime Minister that there was a minority in Scotland as well as a majority, and that minority embraced within its ranks the greater part of the property—and certainly the majority of the intelligence of Scotland. As the taxpayers of England, it was now admitted, had a right to a say in this matter, he wanted to know what where to be the expenses of the Commission? Was it to be a Commission stationed in Scotland? Would it embrace within its numbers persons in whom the people of Scotland could have confidence, and not a political Commission? Would it represent the great sections into which the Presbyterian Church was divided, or would it be merely a Commission formed of the "creatures" of the Lord Advocate, who would sit in Edinburgh, draw their salaries, and have very little to do, being, in fact, paid for doing what was formerly done free of expense?


thought the 3rd clause must have been retained by mistake. It was understood to be withdrawn, and a new one substituted for it. The new clause, forming the Commission, was introduced and approved of; but the 3rd clause was still retained in the Bill, and he hoped it would be taken out on the Report.


said, he took the same view as the hon. Member for Edinburgh. He understood that the arrangement which was made was that a new clause was to be substituted for Clause 3, to which objections had been raised. That new clause had been introduced and adopted; yet the objectionable Clause 3 still remained in the Bill. As to the Scotch Education Department, he joined in the expression of opinion by the hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir James Elphinstone) that the Government would give some idea of what that Department was to be. He did not make a request for the publication of the names of the Commission at present, because it would only create jealousy; but it was important that they should know what the constitution of the Scotch Department was to be.


said, he wished to recall the House to the fact that the question before them was not whether Clause 3 was to be retained in the Bill, but whether they were to re-commit the Bill for the purpose of inserting a clause which was accidentally negatived last night. With regard to Clause 3, however, the Lord Advocate, not being able according to the Rules of the House to speak again, desired him to say that between this and the time of the Report he would consider whether the 2nd clause being again inserted in the Bill, it would be necessary to retain Clause 3. The hon. Member for St. Andrews (Mr. Ellice) had asked for further information respecting the Scotch Education Department. It had been said that the Department would have nothing to do while the Commissioners were sitting; but that was not correct, for it would have to see to the distribution in Scotland of that part of the Imperial money to which Scotland was entitled, and to take care that the conditions on which that money was received were fulfilled, and of course it would be paid for doing that work. With regard to the character of the Department, he must refer hon. Gentlemen to the explanations already given in the course of these discussions. The Scotch Department would be similar to the English Education Department, which was constituted in this way—there were the Lord President of the Council and the Vice President, who had to deal with the administrative work, and were responsible to the House of Commons for the management of educational matters; these were assisted, and, in point of fact, would be controlled, by a Committee of the Council for Education, a new Committee being appointed whenever a change of Ministry took place. That Committee would be carefully selected as regarded Scotland, and the belief was that it would be for the advantage of Imperial as well as Scotch interests that the administration of education in Scotland, so far as Parliament had to do with it, should be entrusted to the Lord President and the Vice President, as now the case in England, with the assistance of a Special Committee of Council for Scotland. [Cries of "Names!"] He did not think they ought to be called upon to give the names, and certainly they could not pledge a future Administration in the matter, for the Committee changed from Government to Government. But this he would say, that there ought to be appointed a Committee of Council, which should contain a fair and influential representation of Scotch views and feelings.


thought that the explanations which the right hon. Gentleman had just given would hardly realize the just expectations of the people of the North. He trusted, however, that the Committee would be so constituted in respect of Members with ecclesiastical leanings and persons possessing acquaintance with Scotch educational matters that all the apprehensions hitherto entertained would disappear under its satisfactory working. It was remarked by the Lord Advocate that we were an United Kingdom. So we were, but there were some Scotch matters which Scotland wished to see regulated in accordance with Scotch feeling. There were five important divisions on this Bill, in which a very large numerical majority of the Scotch Members had been out-voted on the most vital points of the measure by the English Members. He was not a Home Ruler, but he must say that such a result could hardly conciliate Scotch feeling.

Motion agreed to.

New Clause agreed to.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Tuesday next, at Two of the clock, and to be printed. [Bill 204.]