§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(The Lord Advocate.)
§ MR. GORDON
rose to state that there were several provisions of the Bill in which he did not acquiesce, and, therefore, he hoped he should not be understood as concurring in them, although he did not take the sense of the House on the third reading of the Bill.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
considered it his duty to protest against the third reading of this Bill for the following reasons:—because the Bill abandons the position hitherto occupied by the Legislature, which was solemnly adopted at the Reformation—that the Word of God should be incorporated with the education of Scotland; because the education of the people of Scotland is to be taken out of their own hands and governed by a Board in London, whose decisions will regulate and override the temporary phantom Board which it is proposed to establish in Edinburgh; because the appointment of school boards in every parish is calculated to create difficulties rather than to improve the education imparted at the parish schools; because it will be difficult to avoid applying the same regulation to Ireland, the result of which will be to throw the whole education of that country into the hands of the priesthood; because the Bill will tend to impair the independence of the masters by making them the servants of—it may be—illiterate and penurious boards; because it introduces a new 304 burden on occupiers of land from which they have hitherto been practically exempt; and, finally, because there is every reason to believe that the principle of the Bill is opposed to the feelings and wishes of the vast majority of the people of Scotland. In support of the last objection he referred to the contest for the city of Aberdeen. There were three candidates before the constituency, and not one of them dared to approach it without in the first place supporting the Resolution of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gordon) that the Scriptures should be read in the schools, expressing agreement with the principles on which Scotch education had hitherto been conducted, and to that extent expressing disapproval of a portion of this Bill. He would further adduce the result of the divisions in the Established and Free Church Assemblies on the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Gordon) and on the Bill itself. The Amendment of the hon. Member was supported in the Established Assembly by the majority, which consisted of 247, and in the Free Church Assembly by the minority, which consisted of 156, making a total for the Amendment of 403. The Lord Advocate's Bill received in the Free Church Assembly the support of the majority of 325, and in the Established Assembly the support of a minority of 43, making a total of 368. Taking the two Assemblies together, the totals were—for the hon. and learned Member's Amendment, 403; for the Lord Advocate's Bill, 368; showing a majority of 35 against the Lord Advocate. These facts were, he thought, a sufficient justification for the course he had taken in opposing the Bill.
§ MR. M'LAREN
believed, from all the information he had been able to obtain, that no measure had ever passed the House of Commons which would meet with more general acceptance in Scotland than this Bill. With one exception, relating to the enlarged charge to be made upon the heritors, the great mass of the people looked upon the Bill as an admirable one, and one which would work wonders.
§ MR. R. W. DUFF
wished to state, in reply to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir James Elphinstone), that one of the candidates for Aberdeen had distinctly stated that he entirely approved this Bill, 305 and especially the provisions with regard to religious instruction.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed.