HC Deb 05 March 1872 vol 209 cc1395-485

rose to move the following Resolutions:— That, in the opinion of this House, the provisions of the Elementary Education Act are defective, and its working unsatisfactory; and particularly that it fails to secure the general election of School Boards in towns and rural districts; that it does not render obligatory the attendance of children at school; that it deals in a partial and irregular manner with the remission and payment of school fees by School Boards; that it allows School Boards to pay fees out of rates levied upon the community, to denominational schools, over which the ratepayers have no control; that it permits School Boards to use the money of the ratepayers for the purpose of imparting dogmatic religious instruction in schools established by School Boards; that by the concession of these permissive powers it provokes religious discord throughout the country; and by the exercise of them it violates the rights of conscience. The hon. Gentleman said, he believed he was right in supposing that it was the wish of the various parties who took an interest in this question that they should come to a division that night, and as the subject embraced almost the whole field of elementary education, he had made an arrangement with the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Richard), who was to second the Motion, that he, as a Nonconformist, should address himself especially to that part of the question which involved what had been termed the religious difficulty. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) would particularly explain the manner in which the 25th clause had been felt to be a grievance, and he himself would apply his attention to the educational side of the question. These arrangements would prevent unnecessary repetition, and save the time of the House. There were at present in the country two systems of education—the national system, which was based upon rates and upon representative management; and the denominational system, which was based upon private subscriptions and what he ventured to call irresponsible management. His object would be to try and persuade the House that the former of these systems was the preferable one, and that the operation of the Act of 1870 had been disadvantageous in developing and strengthening the latter—that was, the denominational system. If he had at various times denounced the large building grants that had arisen out of the period of grace, the increase of nearly 50 per cent in the annual grants to public elementary schools, and the payment of fees to denominational schools, it had not been because he considered that those measures affected the question of religious equality alone, but because, in his opinion, they had materially impeded the progress of education. He was fortified in that opinion by the remarks made in 1870 by the Vice President of the Council, when introducing his measure, for the right hon. Gentleman then said— The education of the people's children by the people's officers in their local assemblies, controlled by the people's representatives in Parliament, was the principle upon which the Bill was based."—[3 Hansard, cxcix. 465.] Again, on the second reading of his Bill, his right hon. Friend said— He was glad to hear the Member for Birmingham express his belief that, under the provisions of the Bill, school boards would quickly become universal and compulsory attendance would be generally insisted upon, because that was the intention of the measure.—[Ibid. 1931.] The Bill, however, was subsequently very materially altered, and the hopes of the right hon. Gentleman had not been fulfilled. The purport of the first two paragraphs in his Resolution was to declare that the working of the Act of 1870 had been unsatisfactory, because these hopes of his right hon. Friend had not been fulfilled; because they had not yet secured school boards and compulsion in all parts of the country. Perhaps it would be too much to say that the right hon. Gentleman had become the Minister of Education of the Conservative party; but it was certainly true that the manner in which he had viewed the operation of his own Act, and the manner in which he had influenced its operation, had boon almost universally the subject of congratulation with hon. Members opposite. Only a few days ago, in reply to a Question from him (Mr. Dixon), the right hon. Gentleman stated that the amount of building grants arising out of the period of grace would, in all probability, reach the large sum of £400,000. Although the Question to which he was replying was then answered, the right hon. Gentleman could not resist the temptation of adding that the meaning of that fact was that there would be £2,000,000 of rates saved to the ratepayers. That was considered a subject of great congraulation; but let him (Mr. Dixon) point out what were the sacrifices involved in that great saving. There would be accommodation provided by the £2,000,000 for 400,000 scholars, and a very large number of the children so provided for would be in school districts where there would be no school boards, for the very fact of those grants having been made by the Government would prevent the formation of school boards in many districts where otherwise there would have been an absolute certainty that school boards would be formed. Those children could not have the inestimable advantage of the system of compulsory attendance, and the parents of every one of them, whether they were in school board districts or not, would be deprived of the opportunity of being able to take a part in the management of schools to which their children went. The fact was that the £2,000,000 alleged to be thus saved went to the formation of vested interests. And these vested interests would rise up to prevent the alteration and modification of the Act of 1870. They would hereafter be told, when they wished to establish school boards, that they had entered into a kind of compromise with the gentlemen who had subscribed their £1,600,000, and that by virtue of the compromise they were debarred from interfering with their rights as managers of denominational schools. He repudiated the word compromise—there had been no such compromise; they had simply been out-voted. They would be out-voted that day, and again to-morrow; but the time would come when victory would be on their side, and then he warned the House that all the cobwebs of compromise would be swept away. The denominational system was inferior to the national system. Under the denominational system there was intrusted to irresponsible managers the spending of large sums of public money. If all the children of the working classes attended the elementary schools they would have 4,000,000 children in the three kingdoms at school, at a cost of 15s. per head, the maximum fixed by the Act. They would have to pay something like £3,000,000 in annual grants for the support of the schools. The fees paid by parents would amount in all probability to £2,000,000, making together £5,000,000 at least that would be spent in the maintenance of our elementary schools—the greater portion of which, so far as they could see at present, would be denominational schools, under irresponsible management. It would be impossible that the system could be continued, because the people would demand that they should have the right of controlling the expenditure of their own money, especially when the money so spent was spent on a matter in which every man had, or ought to have, a special interest—that of the education of his children. They would be told that the present system of payment by results was a sufficient control over that expenditure; but this was an illusion, because a great part of the money paid by the Government was paid for mere attendances, which, in the majority of cases, were without any result at all. It was in order that satisfactory results should be achieved that he asked that the control of this enormous expenditure should be placed, where alone it ought to rest, in the hands of the representatives of the parents and taxpayers. They acknowledged by the Act of 1870 that it was the duty of the Government to see that secular education should be given to the people; but that duty was being evaded by relegating the performance of that which ought to be our highest duty to the irresponsible management of the clergy and the representatives of the various sects; and if that duty were not performed—as he held it was not properly performed—by them, upon Parliament must rest the responsibility when they refused to place it in the hands of those in whom the control ought to rest. Another reason why the denominational system was defective arose from the feeling of great and general dissatisfaction on the part of the school teachers. It was most essential that the instructors of our youth should be satisfied with their position, but it was not the case. They were tongue-tied, and they dare not speak. He had received letters from many of them without signature, the writers stating that if they gave their names they would be subjected to the criticism of the clergy and their patrons, and, it might be, to dismissal. In the large towns they were more independent. A union had been formed by some thousands of them, and a deputation from the central branches waited upon him a few months since, when they told him all that was in their minds. There were two main divisions of complaint—one was that they were not sufficiently well paid; the next being that they were called the servants of the clergy, and, as one of them said, amidst the applause of the 30 or 40 who were present, that they were anything between a grave-digger and a parson. He did not impute to the managers a desire to reduce the moans of the school teachers so long as they had money with which to pay them; but they had not got it, and therefore they could not adequately remunerate the teachers. He now came to the third reason why the denominational system had proved unsatisfactory. They trusted to irresponsible managers too large a sum of public money; but large as it was, it was totally insufficient for the purpose they had in view, and although the national grants had been increased 50 per cent, a small percentage only of that advance went towards making the school system what it ought to be. There was every reason to believe that a great part of the increase of the annual grants would be required to fill up the gap made by the falling off of private subscriptions, whilst a still larger proportion of those increased grants would be absorbed in raising inferior schools to the level of those now aided by the State; very little of these additional subsidies would be expended in raising the standard of education above that now existing in our Government-inspected schools. The school buildings were inadequate for the requirements. There was only one room where there ought to be several, and the buildings themselves were of an inferior character; besides which they were obliged to have recourse to pupil teachers. He had seen in the streets one child carry another bigger than itself, and the practice of pupil teachers was the same thing, for they saw children leave their classes to teach others before they were prepared for the task that was placed upon them. It was a system resorted to, not because pupil teachers were able to perform their work, but because the school funds were inadequate to provide adult teachers. Until they placed the masters in a position of greater honour and independence, and increased their emoluments, it was useless to expect to attract to that profession in sufficient numbers men adequately qualified. The Report of the Committee of Council in 1869 stated that of four-fifths of the scholars about to leave the schools no satisfactory account was given in examinations of a strictly elementary character. That referred to the children in the best schools, and if that were the condition of four-fifths of the children when they loft the Government schools, what was the condition of the remaining one-fifth who had passed the examinations? The highest standard at that time was the sixth, but very few passed it, and it was considered satisfactory if the fourth standard were passed. The sixth standard was merely reading and writing a short paragraph out of a newspaper, and arithmetic up to Practice—a result so slight that in some cases it was altogether effaced in after-life. But assuming it was satisfactory, he would point out that if it were really the case that only one-fifth received the education he had stated, then that education was given at a cost of £7 per head; for it was fair to exclude from the account those children who could not pass so slight an examination. Let them compare our system and its results with that which was so common in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, and other places. They were not content with so low a standard as we were in this country; besides giving the children a more complete knowledge of the three "R's" than was secured here, they instructed them in drill, drawing, grammar, history, geography, mathematics, elementary science, and modern languages; and the instruction was given in such a manner that it was retained in afterlife. Let them compare one of the best schools in Birmingham—one that had been complimented by the Inspectors—a school for well-to-do artizans, with one in Hamburg which was maintained for those who were too poor to pay for their children's education. In Birmingham they had one largo room, where there was always noise, and frequently disorder, going on, and one small classroom. In Hamburg each class had a separate room, and it never contained more than 50 children. In Birmingham there was one certificated master and seven pupil teachers. In Hamburg every class had a highly-trained certificated teacher, who had passed three years in a training college. In the highest class in the Birmingham school, out of 25 hours of secular instruction each week, only 6 hours were given to the higher subjects, 19 being given to the three "R's;" whereas in Hamburg no less than 18 hours were given to the higher subjects and only 7 hours to the three "R's." He would ask the House how England was to maintain her supremacy if she had to come into competition with countries thus educated. In the art of war Prance, the greatest military Power, had had to succumb; and lot us take care lest in the arts of peace England, who had thought herself as superior in them as Prance was supposed to be in war, should not have also to succumb to Germany. As a commercial man, he knew enough to be able to say there were signs of that in the air, and he could give many instances showing that Germany was rapidly gaining ground upon us. The right hon. Gentleman said by his Amendment there was no advantage to be gained in reviewing the Act of 1870—that the time had not yet come for doing so, but that they must wait. But were they to wait until vested interests had been so increased—until denominational schools had been so extended and strengthened as to make opposition to the denominational system more difficult? The greatest merit of the Act of 1870 was that it made provision for the erection of schools everywhere, and where school boards existed, it gave to those boards power to force attendance. All he asked was that that power should be extended to every part of the country. It was feared at the time the Act was passed that compulsory attendance at school would not be accepted by the working classes; but it had been accepted, and in places where it was anticipated that the danger of enforcing it would be greatest. The question was, whether that salutary power should not be extended to the remote agricultural districts? The experience of the Act was in favour of so doing. If not, on what ground had the Government come forward with an Education Bill for Scotland, establishing school boards and compulsory attendance in every part of that country? If it was admitted that it was desirable for Scotland, why should it not be adopted in England? The real answer was, that it was not liked by the Opposition—that they were not prepared for it, and therefore that they would vote against it. It, however, should be known that it was not the National Education League, but the Conservatives and the clergy of the Church of England who stopped the progress of national education. A school Inspector and a clergyman of the Church of England said "that in many agricultural districts they disliked the idea of school boards—that the tenant-farmers objected to the removal of juvenile labourers from their fields, and that the parochial clergy could not bear any interference with their assumed rights." Wherever the Church of England was the strongest—namely, in the agricultural districts and small towns, where it had almost undisputed sway—there were no school boards; but wherever the Church of England was the weakest—namely, in the large towns—school boards were almost universal. He would give some reasons for the resistance to school boards. The first reason was an objection to the increase of rates. He could understand that objection on the part of the farmers, for he believed they were the men who felt the pressure of rates the most. He would only say to them—"If you want to have efficient labour, you must have educated labour." But as regarded the landlords it was a different matter. He assumed that the landlords were the most intelligent and enlightened portion of the community, and most anxious to promote the interests of all around them, especially in the education of the people. Why, then, should they not promote the formation of school boards? He hoped the time was at hand when they would see that it was to their interest to do so; at any rate, he trusted that this question of cost would not be used as an argument, because, surely, the richest aristocracy in the world ought not to object to the greatest good which could be conferred on the people merely on the ground of expense. Many said that they did not object to the cost, but that they objected to the inequality of the rates. That inequality, however, existed more in the towns than in the country. The working classes paid higher rates in proportion to their income, and yet in towns this rating system had been accepted. Why, then, should it be rejected in the country? If it was because the rates were unequal, then remove that inequality, and he would be happy to assist in its removal. But, in the meantime, they ought not to let this temporary injustice stand in the way of a great good to the working classes. Many persons thought it was unadvisable to have school boards and compulsion, because the services of labourers' children were too valuable in contributing towards the maintenance of the family. He did not think that country gentlemen ought to advance such an argument, because they had always advocated the Factory Acts, which also embraced the principle of compulsion. They need not, however, alarm themselves on those grounds, for throughout the country the wages of agricultural labourers were rapidly advancing, and he had no doubt that, in a short time, labourers would be as well able as they were now willing to send their children to school, and to pay for their education there. It was said as a reason why there should not be school boards that the managers would be inferior to the managers of the present denominational schools. That was not the case in towns, where the members of the school boards were the best men the district could afford, and he did not know of any reason why that should not be the case in the country also, nor why the existing managers should not be elected to seats at the school boards. But if there were any difficulty, all they had to do was to increase the areas of the school districts, and give the Department power to make such arrangements as should secure fitting representatives of the people on the school boards. The last reason why boards were objected to in the country was because it was supposed that the necessary result of their formation would be secular teaching. He did not intend to dwell on this part of the subject, because his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil had to deal with it. He would, however, take that opportunity of stating why this objection was not a valid one, and to give—as he believed he was expected to give—the view of the National Education League upon the question of secular and religious teaching. The mission of the League was to promote education, and not to labour for religious equality. They treated the religious question merely so far as it was supposed to be a difficulty in the way of the spread of education. They advocated the removal from the schools of so much religious teaching as would cause wrangling among the sects, and therefore they announced that the teaching should be unsectarian, by which they meant that it should be of such a character as could not give rise to discussions and controversies between the different sects. They had latterly been driven to the conclusion that if they were to diminish the amount to that small minimum, it would be tantamount to taking it away altogether. What they now advocated, therefore, was that there should be a complete separation between the religious and the secular teaching; and if that could be accepted by the Church and by the Conservative party, they would then have the most complete harmony with reference to the schools, both as regarded the secular and the religious teaching; because it was an undoubted fact that the foundation of all these discussions and animosities was the connection which existed between the religious teaching and the State aid or State grants. The Church frequently avowed that, in their opinion, secular education ought to be made subordinate to religious teaching. That was their principle. But that would not satisfy either the State or the tax- payers, whose influence, labour, and money must go solely to secular teaching. Not a few of the clergy said the reason why they wished to have this religious teaching in the schools, and to preserve their complete control over the schools, was that they might become the bulwarks of the Church of England. But that, though it might be satisfactory to the clergy, could not be considered satisfactory to the Nonconformists. The separation of religious from secular teaching was not an idea confined to the members of the National Education League. It was advocated more than a quarter of a century ago by the present Dean of Chichester; and the Bishop of St. David's had said that a school might be secular, and yet that there might be in it a good moral influence. He also read, the other day, two remarkable statements in juxtaposition. One was by Mr. Buckmaster, to the effect that the careers of 129 children, educated at a Church of England school in Wandsworth, had been traced, and it was found that only nine of them continued to attend church regularly, and that 90 never attended church at all except on formal occasions, such as baptisms, marriages, &c. A little farther on, he found a report of a speech made by his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle, who said that in his school—a secular one—it had been found that nearly all the children in after-life attached themselves to either a church, chapel, or Sunday school, and that the proportion so attached was much larger than in denominational schools. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen), speaking on this question, took up an argument which had been used very generally against the League, and he must say that the hon. Gentleman stated the argument with that admirable terseness and force which was usual to the hon. Gentleman. In the course of his remarks the hon. Gentleman said— It hurts my conscience that I should help to educate children without religion as much as it hurts the conscience of a secularist to educate them with religion, and I do not see why his conscience is to be respected more than mine. Such was the statement of his hon. Friend. There was, however, a fallacy in it, which he wished to point out. It was supposed that the League objected to religious teaching being given; whereas it merely objected to the means by which it was proposed to give that teaching. What he would say to his hon. Friend was this—"We both approve of secular teaching, we both approve of religious teaching, and we both approve of the separation of religious from secular teaching by means of a Time Table Conscience Clause, while both of us agree that the religious teaching should not be compulsory; but after having gone so far together, where my conscience leaves you is when you tell me that you will not be satisfied unless I pay for that religious teaching which you approve but which I disapprove." Perhaps his own conscience was sensitive on the point; but that of his hon. Friend was morbid. Before the Education Act passed the Bishop of Winchester said— We know by experience that on the question of religion we are a divided nation, and immediately you levy rates the question will arise, what religion are you going to teach? But we must teach the truth. If you levy rates there must be an end of teaching for the love of Christ. Now, his (Mr. Dixon's) remark on that statement was that there would not then be an end of teaching for the love of Christ, but there would be a beginning of teaching for the love of Christ, because hitherto the teaching had not been for the love of Christ but for State pay. The League had been branded, in some quarters, with many odious names; but, in the consciousness of their strength, they could afford to disregard the puny weapons of the weak. One statement, however, had been made, which he wished now to rebut. It was said that the League was actuated by a feeling of jealousy towards the Church of England. In reply to that allegation, he alluded to a letter which had been published from a rural dean of the Church of England, who maintained that he was right in advocating, in the interests of the Church of England as well as of religious education, the views propounded by the National Education League. There were also a great many other supporters of the League who were Churchmen, and who could, therefore, have no jealousy of the Church of England. He confidently believed that his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil, who was to second the Motion, would fully represent the views of the Nonconformists on this subject, and be able to show that they entertained no feelings of hostility to the Church of England, but were actuated by motives which embraced the interests of all churches. The sole object of the League was to raise the education of the children of the working classes as high as possible, and to make that education universal. Before concluding, he would make an appeal to his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council. It might be that the duration of this Parliament would not be very protracted. It might be that before the termination of that period the term of office of his right hon. Friend would be over. He had done a great work—he had procured the adoption by the House of the principle that it was the duty of the State to see to the education of all classes, and his appeal was, that he would, at least upon one point, give them some satisfactory promises in his speech to-night, and be able to tell them, that, if not this year, at any rate at no distant period—before his term of office expired—he did not want to turn out his right hon. Friend—he would be able to give to the whole country that which he knew better than any other man was the greatest possible boon to every part of it—school boards and compulsion every where. Until he had done that he would not have secured what all wished—that the children of the working classes, to whom supreme political power had been given, should be so educated that the prosperity and dignity of this great country would be safe in their hands. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolutions of which he had given Notice.


, in seconding the Motion, said, he should not dwell on those points upon which his hon. Friend had enlarged, but should restrict himself to what might be called the denominational part of the question, or that part which especially concerned the Nonconformists. He was anxious, however, at the outset to correct a misconception—he might almost call it a misrepresentation—which was utterly at variance with the notorious facts of the case, and to which a good deal of currency had been given during the Recess. It had been said that by the Act of 1870 the Nonconformists entered into a compromise for the settlement of the education question, and that finding, when the Act was brought into operation, that matters were turning to their disadvan- tage, they were now withdrawing from the compromise, and stirring up an agitation against the Act. He entirely denied the correctness of that statement. There had been no compromise. Who negotiated that compromise? Who bound themselves to abide by it? On the contrary, every effort made by the Nonconformists, or on their behalf, in that House, when the Education Bill was under discussion, to amend it in the sense which to them seemed just and liberal, with the view of bringing it more in harmony with their views and wishes, had been defeated by the Government. Amendments were moved by the hon. Members for Birmingham, Manchester, Oxford, Border Boroughs, Lambeth, and Sunderland, and by himself; but they were all refused by the Government, and one of these Amendments, at least, was defeated, not by the Liberal party—for a majority of the Liberal party was in favour of it—but by a combination of Government officials and those faithful Friends of the Administration who thought it almost an unpardonable sin to vote against the Government, with all the force of the enemies of the Government on the other side of the House. He claimed a right to speak on this subject, because on the 11th of July—only a few days before the Bill went through Committee—he took the opportunity of respectfully warning his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council and the Government that they were forcing the Bill through the House and on the country in the teeth of the declared wishes and earnest remonstrances of the whole Nonconformist body, and he supported that allegation by referring to what had occurred a few days previously. He reminded the House that the opinions of the important body of Wesleyans in reference to the Bill were conveyed to the House in a Petition presented by the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. M'Arthur); that the deputies of the three denominations of Presbyterians, Independents, and Baptists had passed a strong resolution condemnatory of the Bill at a meeting under the presidency of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Reed); that he had himself presented a Petition from the Committee of the Congregational Union of England and Wales representing between 2,000 and 3,000 Independent churches; that the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish) had presented a similar Petition from the Baptist Union, representing 2,000 churches; that two special committees of Nonconformists were sitting—one in London and the other in Birmingham—and that both had pronounced against the Bill. So far, therefore, from a compromise having been accepted by the Nonconformists, there was not a single representative body, either in England or Wales, of any importance that did not pronounce against the Bill earnestly and emphatically, and that did not refuse to accept it as a satisfactory settlement of the question. He had then ventured to tell the Vice President of the Council that he might carry his Bill victoriously through Parliament, as a Government might carry any measure by using the votes of its adversaries to defeat the wishes of its friends; but that one or two more such victories would be most disastrous in their influence on the future fate of the Liberal party. His hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Miall) repeated the same protest still later, on the very night when the Bill passed through the Committee, and this so excited the ire of the Prime Minister that he came as near to swearing as a Gentleman could of his decorous character. So far from any compromise being accepted, their complaint was that all the apparent concessions made were either entirely insufficient or absolutely delusive. What were those concessions? First of all, there was the Time Table Conscience Clause. Looking at those who had to avail themselves of that clause—looking at their poor, weak, defenceless condition, no Conscience Clause that the wit of man could devise could be anything else than a mockery, a delusion, and a snare. And the hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Suffolk (Mr. Corrance), had the candour to admit that to talk of the Conscience Clause as a great propitiatory sacrifice was simply ridiculous. Another concession was the adoption of the proposal of the right hon. Member for Hampshire, that in schools established by the local rates no catechism or religious formulary distinctive of any particular denomination should be taught. No doubt that Amendment was presented in a perfectly bonâ fide spirit; but we always said that there was no security whatever in that Amendment against the teaching of the most pronounced denominationalism in any school. And the last concession was the separation of the denominational schools from all connection with the school boards. These were the terms the Prime Minister used when he was introducing his amended version of the Bill,—"We shall sever altogether the tie between the Local Board and the school," and the Vice-President of the Committee of Privy Council for Education used these words— The Government thought it advisable to strike out from the Bill the principle of voluntary schools receiving aid out of the rates. But it was not struck out, or if struck out in one form, it was retained in another and more subtle form in Clause 25. Now, with regard to the Act itself, he continued to feel that it was a pity the right hon. Gentleman did not avail himself of what appeared to him a great and golden opportunity to lay the foundations, at least, for a national system of education. But, instead of that, the present Act, if correctly described, ought to be entitled "An Act for encouraging and extending and consolidating and perpetuating sectarian education throughout England and Wales." It was not necessary for him, he hoped, to disclaim any intention of casting disparagement on denominational schools. He had already in that House paid his humble but cordial tribute of respect to them for the great and valuable services they had rendered to the cause of popular education; nor had he shrunk from acknowledging—and he was willing now to repeat—that the Church of England, and notably the clergy of the Church of England, had done themselves infinite honour by the sacrifices and exertions they had made for the education of the people. No doubt, the movement in favour of popular education, which originated in this country about the close of last century, began with the Dissenters. Joseph Lancaster started his first school in 1796; and the British and Foreign School Society, which sprang out of his labours—first known as the Royal Lancasterian Institution—was in existence several years before the National School Society. But when once the members of the Church of England took the work in hand they soon outstripped all competitors in the number, if not the efficiency of their schools. They had every possible advantage in that work. They numbered the wealthiest part of the community in their ranks. While the Dissenters had to build and repair their own chapels, maintain their own ministers, erect and support their own colleges, and sometimes to subscribe large sums of money to protect or promote their own civil and religious rights, the Church of England had all the Ecclesiastical edifices for their sole and exclusive use; they had large Parliamentary grants for the erection of new churches; they had compulsory church-rates to maintain the Church fabrics, and meet other incidental expenses; they had all the enormous national endowments for the support of their ministers, and they monopolized nearly all educational and charitable endowments from the Universities down to the smallest parochial or charity schools. When Parliament began to make grants for education the clergy were restrained by no conscientious scruples, as many Dissenters were, from taking any amount of public money the State thought fit to place at their disposal for building purposes and teaching their own denominationalism in schools. Such being their resources—with everything in their hands to do the work—he said it with perfect frankness and candour—they did it well. They built thousands of schools over the whole face of this country. No one wished to do any injustice to these schools—no one proposed that the grants they were accustomed to receive should be withdrawn from them. No doubt there were many who felt with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the denominational system was founded on no sound principle, but on mere individual will and caprice—that the Government were content to follow instead of to lead in the matter of education; but it was an error of at least 25 years' standing, and therefore he could well understand the right hon. Gentleman when preparing an Educational Bill saying to himself—"Here is a system of denominational schools that has grown up among us, with which the Government, not seeing to the full extent the consequences of their own act, had entered into a sort of concordat; they must, therefore, be treated with every favour and consideration." But the right hon. Gentleman did much more than that. He set himself to patronise and promote them in every possible way at the expense of every other kind of school. A prodigious stimulus was given to denominational schools by continuing the building grants to the end of 1870. The right hon. Gentleman must have known that that would tell enormously in favour not only of denominational schools, but of denominational schools of one class—those belonging to the Church of England. He had told them what had been the result. There were 3,337 applications for grants in aid for building or enlarging schools. Of these, 2,286 had been approved by the Department; and nearly all these, according to his own acknowledgment, were denominational schools and schools belonging to the Church of England. Compare that with what the right hon. Gentleman stated only last night as to the number of schools called into existence under the other part of the Bill. He told them that 91 new schools had been built by school boards, and 100 had been transferred to them. The conduct of the right hon. Gentleman was somewhat a mystery to him, he confessed. For he professed to be anxious for the extension of school boards all over the country; he said, "he entertained the hope that the effect of the Bill would be to secure that boards should be established throughout the country;" and yet, cherishing this hope, he voluntarily put it in the power of the most strenuous opponents of school boards to defeat his own dearly cherished wish. Why was this done? The only shadow of a reason he had heard assigned was that it relieved the ratepayers. Well, he supposed that voluntary contributions raised in order to obtain grants came also from the pockets of the ratepayers; the only difference was that, under the rate, the assessment would have been more equable and equitable. But, at any rate, it was refreshing to find any tenderness for the ratepayers or taxpayers among the Members of the present Government—a Government who added £3,500,000 to our military expenditure in one year, and came down a few evenings ago to ask for another £3,500,000 for building barracks, which, in all probability, would be doubled before they were done with them. Such a Government surely need not be so very fastidious about £1,500,000 being taken out of the pockets of the taxpayers for building schools. Having swallowed these great camels, they need not have strained at this little gnat. Then there was the addition of 50 per cent to the denominational schools—and on what pretext? That was to be the compensation to them for the entire severance of denominational schools from school boards. But, after all they found that school boards had the power to subsidize denominational schools. They had done the one thing, but not left the other undone. He contended, further, that the administration of the Act showed the same animus—playing into the hands of denominational schools. He might refer in illustration of this to the appointment of Inspectors. There were two classes of Inspectors to be appointed—permanent Inspectors, and Inspectors of Returns. Before the close of last Session, there were 12 new permanent Inspectors appointed; and of these not one was a Nonconformist. He believed there was a Nonconformist added lately—a sort of Inspector "born out of due time." But when his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham asked a Question of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to this matter, he gave him what he must call a clap-trap reply—he said he did not know what the religious profession of these Inspectors was, and it was not his business to inquire—and this was rewarded with a tumultuous cheer from the opposite benches. But if they had found that the Inspectors were all Nonconformists, he wondered whether hon. Gentlemen opposite would have received the right hon. Gentleman's reply with such signs of satisfaction. Then, what was the animus displayed by the Inspectors, or at least by some of them, in discharging their functions? He did not know what their instructions were, and would rather like to see them; but if he was to infer what their instructions were from their conduct, they must have been to this effect—"Do everything in your power to encourage and establish denominational schools, and everything to discourage and prevent the establishment of school boards and of schools under school boards." Towards the close of last Session, they heard that a Mr. Kinnersley was appointed Inspector of Returns for Anglesea, and was to be accompanied by the National School Inspector. Now, Anglesea was about the most Nonconformist county of Nonconformist Wales; and the hon. Member for Anglesea (Mr. Davies) when he heard of that arrangement, went to the Department, and humbly and respectfully —for Nonconformists were obliged to be very humble and respectful—submitted that that was not quite a fair arrangement; that the overwhelming majority of the people in Anglesea being Nonconformists, the British School Inspector should be appointed to accompany Mr. Kinnersley; because, although the British School Inspector was a Churchman, he was at least accustomed to come into contact with the people, and was acquainted with their views. Of course, however, no heed was paid to that remonstrance; and those two gentlemen went about the island discouraging the formation of school boards, by giving absurdly exaggerated representations of the amount of rate that would have to be raised, also depreciating school boards where they had been formed, and trying to persuade them to abandon their functions, and transfer them into the hands of managers whom Mr. Kinnersley was anxious to appoint. The consequence was that a perfect storm arose in the county, and the people met at a central town to protest against the manner in which the officials of the Privy Council were acting towards them. A school board had been formed in a parish called Llanrhyddlad, with which two other parishes were associated, and in that parish there was a National and a British School. A census was taken of the inhabitants, and it was found that in those three parishes there were only 10 children belonging to parents connected with the Church of England. A school board—all of them Nonconformists, as was natural from their overwhelming preponderance in that district—had been elected; and what was the scheme which Mr. Kinnersley suggested for the education of that Nonconformist population? Why, that the board elected by the people should abdicate their functions as a school board, except, he supposed, in a matter of finding the money, and should transfer the management of the school to five managers, whom Mr. Kinnersley was to appoint or recommend, and three of whom were to be the three rectors of those parishes, their successors or their nominees, while the other two should be appointed by the board. Thus, in order to provide for the education of 10 children whose parents belonged to the Church of England, there were three rectors necessary for the management of that school, and of course the Nonconformists were left out in the cold. Now, Nonconformists objected to that unfair way of throwing the education of the people into the hands of denominational schools. He thought it was an advantage for the children to be educated together, without being made aware, while they were so young, of the different sects into which the parents were separated. As a Nonconformist, he also disapproved strongly of much of the religious teaching given in those denominational schools. The Protestant Dissenters of this country were still Protestants. Thousands of the clergy of the Establishment were also faithful to the principle of the Reformation; but it could not be disguised that there was a large and increasing class into whose hands the education of the children would fall more and more, whose Protestantism was becoming "small by degrees and beautifully less." The Protestant Dissenters, therefore, did not want to be taxed to enable these men insidiously to undermine the principles of the Reformation. Burns, in his Standard Heading Book, adapted to the Requirements of the Code of 1871—a publication to which he would recommend the attention of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), said that many heresies had desolated the Church since the age of the Apostles; but none produced more disastrous results than those which arose in the beginning of the 16th century, the followers of which were known by the name of Common Protestants. The author of this religious revolution was Martin Luther, an Augustinian friar, who, in the solitude of his cloister, had embraced several false opinions on matters of faith and the doctrine of indulgences. Step by step, he went on his miserable career, till there was scarcely one doctrine of the Catholic faith that he did not assail.


Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is not aware that that book is published by a Roman Catholic publisher.


At any rate the teaching of the two Churches came so near—["No, no!"]—he would, at any rate, give a specimen of which there could be no doubt, and thus show why it was that the Nonconformists felt a reluctance to have their children educated in the denominational schools. The hon. Gentleman then read the following extract from a catechism by the Rev. Frederic Gace, Vicar of Great Barling, Essex:— There are various sects and denominations, which go by the name of Dissenters. In what light should we consider them?—As heretics; and in our Litany we pray to be delivered from the sins of false doctrine, heresy, and schism. Is their worship laudable?—No; because they worship God according to their own evil and corrupt imaginations, and not according to His will. Is Dissent a great sin?—Yes; it is in direct opposition to our duty towards God. Do we not find many good men among the Dissenters?—Yes; many doubtless of unexceptionable character in a moral point of view, but they are not holy men. Wherein consists the difference between moral men and holy men?—A moral man acts from the influence of education and position in society, and other worldly principles; a holy man does God's will by the Divine aid of the Holy Ghost duly influencing a man's character. Why have not Dissenters been excommunicated?—Because the law of the land does not allow the wholesome law of the Church to be acted upon. This was written by a clergyman of the Church of England for use in one of the denominational schools. He quarrelled with no man for employing strong language to express his sense of the value and importance of religious education; but they had a right to complain when those who contended for imparting the religious instruction in some other way and at some other time than in the day schools, were branded as enemies of religion. The Dissenters of England repelled such an insinuation with scorn. His contention was that the teaching of religion, both to adults and children, had been committed to the Christian Church—understanding by the Church, not the clergy, but the congregation of faithful men. But to his great astonishment this doctrine seemed to be treated with absolute scorn and incredulity, and they were told by the Churches themselves—"We wash our hands of all responsibility for the children." The solemn injunction of their great Master—"Feed my lambs"—they set aside, and said, "No, we must commit the instruction of the children in religion to State-paid schoolmasters, and if they do not care for their religion, they must grow up Pagans." He objected to that doctrine. He contended that religion could be taught only by religious men and women. Well, what security would they have that the young people that would be turned out of the normal schools by the hundred would bear that character? Education would become a profession in this country, like law, medicine, or civil engineering, and what security could they have then that the young men and women who would adopt it as a profession would be persons of earnest religious character? To teach religion by rote, as grammar and geography were taught, would be attended by disastrous results, and would produce, not Christians, but infidels. In Germany, Mr. Horace Mann, of Massachusetts, had been deeply impressed with that fact, and had put on record his opinion that the enforcement of a speculative faith on the children by the paid national teachers was one of the principal reasons of the rapid spread of infidelity in that country, for he found that many of the teachers did not themselves believe what they were obliged to teach, under the pain of losing their situations. In conclusion, he had to say that he gave every credit to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council for his good intentions in this matter. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman was inspired by the honourable ambition of having his name associated with a great system of general education in this country; but, unfortunately, by throwing himself as he had done into the arms of the denominationalists, he (Mr. Richard) was afraid that the right hon. Gentleman's name, instead of being associated with honour with a national system of education, would be associated all over the country with scenes of sectarian strife, bitterness, and animosity. The right hon. Gentleman, besides failing to solve the educational difficulty, would, he thought, dissolve the Liberal party, by alienating and disgusting one of the largest sections of that party, which had been faithful to it through all its changing fortunes; which had never shrunk from bearing its share in the battles in which the Liberal party had been engaged; and unless the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government interposed his authority to prevent that catastrophe, he (Mr. Richard) saw nothing for it but that the Liberal party would be disorganized and broken up in consequence of the Education Act which had been passed. He thanked the House for having listened to him, and expressed his regret that he had been misled by a friend with regard to the origin of the book from which he had first quoted. He could assure the House he had no suspicion that he was misrepresenting its character to the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, in the opinion of this House, the provisions of the Elementary Education Act are defective, and its working unsatisfactory; and particularly that it fails to secure the general election of School Boards in towns and rural districts: That it does not render obligatory the attendance of children at school: That it deals in a partial and irregular manner with the remission and payment of school fees by School Boards: That it allows School Boards to pay fees out of rates levied upon the community, to denominational schools, over which the ratepayers have no control: That it permits School Boards to use the money of the ratepayers for the purpose of imparting dogmatic religious instruction in schools established by School Boards: That by the concession of these permissive powers it provokes religious discord throughout the country; and by the exercise of them it violates the rights of conscience."—(Mr. Dixon.)


Mr. Speaker—My hon. Friend who has just sat down concluded his eloquent speech by some words rather specially addressed to myself, but with which I can assure the House I see no reason to find fault. I do not intend at present to allude specially to these remarks. Anyone who in this free speaking and free thinking country has real work to do must expect his full share of comment and criticism, some of which he may not think to be altogether fair, and before I conclude I may find it necessary to allude, not so much to what has been said by my hon. Friends, as to charges which have been made against me since the passing of the Act. But that is a matter of very little importance compared with the question we have before us. At this time of the evening, with a good House, I am much more anxious to address myself to the Resolution and to my Amendment than to anything so, unimportant as that which affects myself personally. The Resolution of my hon. Friend covers much ground, and a little more than has been covered by the able speeches of either of the hon. Gentlemen who have addressed the House. My first objection to the Resolution is that, if carried by the House, it will imply that the House must pass a new Education Act this year. The House would stultify itself if, after carrying the Resolution— contradicting, as it does, some of the most important provisions of that Act—it allowed any time to elapse without attempting to pass a fresh Act in accordance with this Resolution. Now, the education of this country is a very difficult thing; and I think it is unreasonable in my hon. Friend to ask us to pass a new Act before we have had the opportunity of ascertaining how the one we passed 18 months ago will really work. I think the Resolution of my hon. Friend is also inconvenient, because it would be impossible, if it be accepted, to reconcile it with the work that they were now doing—it would interfere with it, and, in fact, would almost wholly stop it. My hon. Friend did me the honour to quote some remarks I made in introducing the Education Act. He has done so before; and he must allow me to observe that, in quoting my words now, as before, he has forgotten that they were followed by other words, in which I said quite clearly we would make every use—as I thought we were bound to do—of the voluntary agencies engaged in the work of education, and that we would do so to the utmost of our power. Just before the words which my hon. Friend quoted, I said that with the men who were then doing the work of education without State aid we would not interfere; but if they could not do the work, education must not be therefore neglected because of the dislike that might be felt to a rate. I am not calling upon my hon. Friend to agree with me; but I have a right to appeal to this Parliament, which passed this Act only 18 months ago, to consider the principles upon which they passed it. I believe those principles are really contained in another remark which I may be allowed to quote from my speech, and which, I think, involved the understanding of the House at the time the Bill was passed. I stated— Our object is to complete the present voluntary system, to fill up gaps, sparing the public money where it can be done without, procuring as much as we can the assistance of the parents, and welcoming as much as we rightly can the co-operation and aid of those benevolent men who desire to assist their neighbours. There are two main principles that run through all our clauses for securing efficient school provision—legal enactment, that there shall be efficient schools everywhere throughout the kingdom; compulsory provision of such schools if and where needed, but not unless proved to be needed."—[3 Hansard, cxcix, 443–4.] That was the principle upon which the Act was framed; the principle upon which it was accepted by the House, and the principle upon which we have endeavoured honestly and impartially to work it. I can assure my hon. Friend that it has been no slight labour to bring this Act into operation. We have had, in the first place, to find out the educational necessities of the country. That cannot be done throughout the 15,000 parishes of England without time and endeavour. We have had to find out the quantity and the quality of the schools now in existence, and whether they were giving efficient education or not. We have had to find out where rates were required. We are just getting to the end of our task, and we shall have to enforce rates where they are required. It is only 18 months since the Act was passed, and now that we have just come to the time when we can enforce the compulsory powers granted by the Act my hon. Friend comes forward and says—"I do not think your Act of much use; let us have a new Act altogether." If my hon. Friend could say that we had done nothing since the Act was passed, I admit that our plea of time would be of little avail; but I maintain that we have made much progress—very much more than at the time of passing the Act we had any right to expect. I am not now claiming any credit for myself—I do not deserve any—nor am I claiming any credit for the permanent officials of my Department, though I might well do so. Indeed, I must say that never was a Minister, who had hard work to do, better served than I have been by the officials, from the highest to the lowest, in doing a most difficult work with a zeal that was quite indifferent to any demands that might be made on their time and labour. Not only has much been done, but much has also been accomplished in anticipation of the Act, and in reliance upon its provisions; and I say, therefore, that you have no right to toss that action away and make it abortive by passing a new measure which would render useless everything that had been done. We have just about found out the gaps and are about to fill them up, when my hon. Friend now steps forward and demands that we shall provide a totally different machinery. I think my hon. Friend is connected with machinery, as I am. Well, here we have a very large order; we have just got our machinery arranged to get it done; yet my hon. Friend wants to pull it all down again, and substitute fresh machinery in its place. It is upon that ground that I shall presently move, as an Amendment to his Resolution— That, in the opinion of this House, the time which has elapsed since the passing of the Elementary Education Act of 1870, and the progress which has been made in the arrangements under it, are not such as to enable this House to enter with advantage upon a review of its provisions. I appeal to both sides of the House whether that statement is not well founded. I say this—that although our progress has been considerable, it has not been such as to afford any good reason for interfering with the operation of the Act, least of all to alter it in the direction now proposed by my hon. Friend—that very direction in which, 18 months ago, the House, by a large majority, refused to go. I do not, however, think I should be doing justice to my hon. Friend if I did not acknowledge that his Resolution makes the statement that we are in a wrong course, and though I have not found that proof of the statement in the speeches of either of my hon. Friends which I had reason to expect, they undoubtedly did give some ground upon which their belief was founded, and upon which they charged us with doing more harm than good. If they are right in that statement, I acknowledge instantly that time is no plea, and that this Resolution ought to be passed. But let us see whether my hon. Friend is right in his statement. In regard to his first proposition, my answer is, that no doubt the provisions of the Act are not perfect. We have to deal with human society as it is, and we must do the best we can with it. But I am convinced, after the experience of 18 months, that it would have been very difficult to have made any important provisions other than what they are, and to do as much good as has been done under it. As to the working of the Act, to which the next proposition of my hon. Friend refers—well, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are matters of comparison. There is nothing perfect in this world—we have not to deal with perfect instruments. We have to deal with Englishmen and Englishwomen, and better instruments you will not probably find in the world. But still they are not perfect. I believe that though there has been a great deal of talk—and some acrimonious talk—over this Bill, it would have been very difficult to have framed a Bill that would not have produced more talk and more acrimonious talk, and I also say that alongside of the talk there has been a vast amount of work done. We have had to deal with people who cared little or nothing about education; with the people who cared more about their money than about education; with some few who absolutely disliked education; with others who loved their special Churches better than they loved education; and with others again who disliked special Churches better than they liked education; but there was also an immense number of men and women who cared a very great deal for education. I say men and women, because, for the first time in an Act of Parliament, the assistance of women was invited, and it turned out that we acted very wisely in doing so. What has been the result? I think some hon. Members suppose that what we have done was a very easy matter. But it was no easy matter to raise throughout the country a desire to see efficient schools established, and to see them working efficiently and actively. Will the House try for a moment to place itself in the position we occupied two years ago, at the time of passing this Act? At that time we had no national system, but we had a State-assisted system which was doing a great deal of good—a system which, as has been acknowledged by my hon. Friends, had claims to our forbearance, inasmuch as it was 25 years old. That system had especial claims upon the forbearance of my hon. Friend (Mr. Richard), and those who are with him in this matter, because but for them we should have had a national system of education established 20 years ago. ["No, no!"] Well, we had this system at work, doing much but leaving much undone. There were many persons who said—"Rely upon this system and it will do the work you require;" but the Government came to the conclusion—and that conclusion was accepted by the House and endorsed by the country—that we ought not to rely altogether on the voluntary system, but that we ought to utilize, to organize, and to supplement it. That is what we have been doing ever since, and I believe that this work is not only begun and is going on, but that it will soon be actually completed, if my hon. Friend does not succeed in stopping it. My hon. Friend and the hon. Member who seconded his Motion both said that there was no compromise in the Act. I agree that there was none, though in saying that I believe I differ from many Gentlemen who have supported me, and who have defended me from attacks. I never intended the Act to be a compromise. I was never conscious of having made one. But I was conscious of one thing—not of a compromise, or of a balancing of one party against another party—but that the work before us was a very hard one to do, that it required all the forces of the country to co-operate in it, and I considered that the Government was bound to find out what those forces were, in order to bring them to bear. There were three forces—the love of parents for their children; the desire on the part of philanthropists to secure the benefits of education for the children of their poorer neighbours; and that municipal organization the aid of which had never hitherto been invoked. I thought that we were bound to make use of all these forces, and that I should be to blame if I rejected any of them or if I relied exclusively on any one. Many persons would have relied solely on the first two; my hon. Friend would appear now to be in favour of relying solely on the third. I think that would be a great mistake. I think he would be defeated in his own object by such reliance. We might have adopted the principles of that society, active and powerful, of which my hon. Friend is the eloquent exponent. We might have refused assistance to the voluntary schools which did not hand themselves over to the school boards. I do not think my hon. Friend would have advocated that at that time if we had brought forward the Act upon that principle. But anything more unwise, anything more suicidal, could scarcely be conceived than that we should have destroyed a system which had done much good before we had built up another in its place. What did we do instead? We prescribed the conditions on which we should make use of these voluntary schools. We said—"We shall take care that they are so conducted as not to trespass upon the conscience of any child, or of the parent of any child attending the schools," and although my hon. Friend states now that he thinks nothing of a Conscience Clause, I must remind him that both he and his Friends advocated that provision, and called for the alteration in the Bill which resulted in the Time Table Conscience Clause. Well, my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil has quoted some absurd and bigoted catechism that has been published by some clergyman; but I do not know how many tens of thousands of clergymen there are in England, and I am not responsible for all that they may choose to publish. I will, however, defy my hon. Friend to produce one case in which the conscience of a child or of its parents has been violated in these schools since the passing of the Act. No such case has come before the Department. It may be said that the parents dare not bring such a case forward; but that can hardly be the case. My hon. Friends have many persons thinking with them throughout the country, and if parents had cause to complain, depend upon it they would find many people ready to take up their case. I need not say that so long as I am in my present Department every case presented shall be inquired into and sifted to the fullest extent. I thought I had got a case a day or two ago. I saw it in a newspaper, and I got a letter on the subject from a gentleman, active, able, and sincere—Mr. Dale, of Birmingham. I said—"Here is a case against the Conscience Clause, and if I find it to be true I shall make an example." It was the case of a school near Chester, and the statement which got into several of the Northern papers was that no children should be entitled to the benefits of the day school unless they attended a Sunday school connected with it. I wrote to the manager at once, and in no minatory way, as I was anxious to get at the facts, asking him whether there was such a rule as the one I have alluded to. He replied that the rule was one of those in force 30 years before the Education Act was thought of, and it had been dragged from the drawer in which it had long lain simply in order, if possible, to damage the Bill recently passed through Parliament. That really is the nearest approach to a violation of the Conscience Clause which I have been able to discover. We might have said at once that as the Act gave power to levy education rates we should insist upon their being levied accordingly, whether they were required or not. That, I dare say, is what my hon. Friends would now prefer me to do; but I preferred not to make enemies when I might achieve the object I had in view in a more gentle way. If I had taken the course I am now referring to, I dare say I should have had the support of my hon. Friend; but I am not quite sure I should have been backed up by those who support him—persons, many of whom express opinions with a great deal of sincerity, but find the state of things altogether different when they are called upon to pay for what they say. I imagine that if I had set myself to pass a Bill involving the levying of rates, whether they were wanted or not, I should, in the first place, have found great difficulty in passing it; and, in the second, if I had passed it, I could not have carried it out. My hon. Friend says it was worth the risk, because such a provision would have given us better schools; but then I must take the liberty of differing with him, though I hope he will not mistake what I mean. I believe that the rating system will eventually prevail, and that the fact of our having laid it down by law that a locality must be rated if it fails to do its duty, will, in the end, cause the transference of voluntary schools to the rating system. My main reason for believing this is, that the desire to subscribe to voluntary schools will be strained by the knowledge that subscriptions so given will, while relieving the poorer neighbours of the subscribers of a slight burden, release their more wealthy neighbours from a duty which they ought and could be compelled to perform. When my hon. Friends spoke of the enormous advantages—advantages which I, for one, have never been able to discover—which have been conferred on denominational schools by the Education Act, they forgot the tremendous blow that the Act struck against such schools by the very introduction of a rating system. Though, as I have said, I think the ultimate effect of the Act will be the general adoption of this rating system, there are many parts of the country in which I am not sorry to see the education in the hands of the voluntary managers rather than of a board of ratepayers, upon whom the ultimate duty has been imposed by the Act of Parliament. While there may be much said against the duality of the parson and the squire, my hon. Friend must acknowledge that very often among the schools of the country districts there is more liberality and more efficiency to be expected from them than from recalcitrant farmers who may be forced to pay the rate. We wish to do this great work by degrees, and meanwhile to make use of all the forces at our disposal, preferring to deal with friends rather than with foes. I knew very well that there was throughout the country a strong feeling in favour of education, and that if we led the people, instead of attempting to drive them, a response would come. That response has come, and as I stated a few days ago in reply to a Question in this House, from both town and country. My hon. Friend asks how it comes that there are school boards in the towns and not in the country districts, and, answering his own Question, says it arises from the fact that the Church is a power in the country and not in the towns. I must demur to that statement. I believe the reason for this fact is, that in all the localities there has been a desire to carry out the leading principles of the Act—namely, the provision of elementary education for the mass of the people, and that in the towns, owing to their large area, and the extent of the deficiency, it has been found impossible to do the work without a rate, while in the country districts it has been found quite possible to do all that was necessary without a rate. In each case the people have come forward to anticipate the compulsory provisions of the Act—in the towns by voluntarily forming school boards, and in the country by rendering boards unnecessary, by erecting schools and making the necessary provisions for their conduct. Not that the whole country has been completely provided for. I do not know whether it will be easily within the Rules of the House to get another education debate of much importance before the end of the present Session; but if it were I should expect attacks from hon. Gentlemen opposite on account of the thousands, probably, of compulsory notices which we shall be compelled to issue in a very short time. Many hon. Members may think we ought not to issue these notices; but we have these facts before us:—Throughout the country, including London, there are about 10,000,000 of the population subject in the matter of education to school boards, and 6,000,000 of these have been brought in consequence of the general desire of the localities thus to anticipate the compulsory provisions of the Education Act; but, notwithstanding the voluntary provision, much yet remains to be done, and will have to be done, by compulsion, as soon as the voluntary action has ceased to carry forward the work. Allow me to correct a misconception which has arisen in regard to the "year of grace." There is not, and never has been, a year of grace in the Act. As the Bill was originally brought in, it contained what was termed a year of grace—that is, after a notice of deficiency had been issued, a year was to be granted to the district in which to supply the deficiency; but, as the Bill was passed into law, this was altered to a discretionary power conferred upon the Department, to grant periods not exceeding six months of grace in which to supply the deficiency. It must, therefore, be clear that I have not provided this "year of grace" out of some extraordinary desire to aid a certain party in the State. Again, my hon. Friend seems to be under a misapprehension in regard to the building grants. All we did with reference to this question was to give a period after which these grants should cease to be made. It has been said that these grants were sought during the interval fixed by the Act, solely with a view to proselytizing; but to this view I cannot subscribe. I believe that in the majority of cases the actuating motives were an honest educational zeal on the part of the well-to-do inhabitants and districts—a zeal which is appreciated by the poor parents who will benefit thereby—and a desire to do without the rate. Indeed, on behalf of the Government, I claim a little credit for having for the first time enlisted the natural dislike to rating on the side of social progress. Altogether, therefore, I defy my hon. Friend to have introduced a measure which would have done good work quicker than this Act has done it up to the present time, or one which will complete that work more quickly if he and his Friends fail in their effort to upset it. One statement of my hon. Friend is that the Act is essentially defective because it fails to secure the general election of school boards in towns and rural districts—a point upon which I need not dwell long, because I have already stated the grounds upon which the Government has refrained up to now from insisting upon such elections. My hon. Friend alluded to one of my speeches prior to the passing of the Act, in which he says I looked forward with pleasure to the establishment of school boards and the adoption of compulsion everywhere. Taking the points mentioned in their order, I do not think it would be altogether fair to insist on the immediate establishment of school boards in districts where persons of all creeds and every position in society have, with the hope of avoiding the imposition of a rate, saddled themselves with considerable expense in order to erect schools and provide for their maintenance. I do not think there would be any advantage in having elective bodies who are to interfere with the voluntary schools. Indeed, I think it would be far better to adopt what I understand to be the proposal of Birmingham and Manchester—namely, to get rid of the voluntary schools altogether, as I do not believe it would be possible to work them with that kind of interference. Next, we come to the question of compulsory attendance, which is deserving of the most careful consideration. Now, I cannot admit that my hon. Friend is one whit more favourable to the principle of compulsory attendance than I am; and I appeal to the House as to whether I was not at the time of the Act rather in advance of the general opinion of the House in regard to compulsory attendance. I believe I stated that if you gave us the power to make an experiment with reference to such attendance, I felt confident it would be tried in several large towns, and I fancy there was scarcely anybody who so thoroughly believed that statement as I did myself. It turns out, however, that I and my hon. Friend were right in the opinion we then formed, as our expectations have been more than fulfilled. In almost every large town by-laws rendering attendance compulsory have been passed; and even in this enormous city, notwithstanding the great difficulties in the way, the experiment is being tried. If, instead of permitting this tentative method of establishing the principle of compulsion, we had endeavoured to es- tablish it by a general law, I believe we could not have passed our measure, and that even if we had succeeded in passing it there would have been a reaction against it. My hon. Friend spoke of Scotland; but I much doubt whether at that time we could have passed a general law of compulsion even for that country, although, after recent experience, I am of opinion that we shall be able to do so this year. It must not be forgotten, however, that in dealing with Scotland we are dealing with a country which has had a system of national education since the time of John Knox, and which, consequently, has a greater desire for education than exists in England. Perhaps my hon. Friend may say—"You were not ready for general compulsion then, but you are now." Well, I think we shall be ready in a short time; but this year I do not think we are ready for it. I will briefly state the grounds on which I have formed this opinion. We are getting compulsory attendance in all the large towns, and my hon. Friend may say that it is very easy to apply the system to the rural districts. The truth is, it would not be easy to apply it, although sooner or later we shall have to undertake the task. In the rural districts we have to deal with low wages and very great distress. Moreover, we have indirect compulsion to assist us in the towns, but not in the country. Even if we could pass a general law of compulsion this year, I do not think it would be wise, in the interests of compulsory attendance, to attempt to enforce it in the agricultural districts for a few months; because I think there would be a stronger feeling against it in the country than there is in the towns, and I want, in the first place, to compel all the districts to provide schools. That we shall have done before the commencement of next Session, or, at all events, if all the schools are not built by that time the authorities will know what they have to do. In passing the Act, I was principally anxious to provide schools not only for all the children who did attend, but for all who could attend, because I knew that if the ratepayers were compelled to pay for children who did not attend the schools, they would be in a frame of mind to force them to attend. What my hon. Friend would do if he happened to be in office, I do not know, nor can I tell what the Government will be able to undertake; but, speaking for myself, as the Minister responsible for education in this House, I say I think we shall be ready for a general compulsory measure next year. We shall then have to decide whether the establishment of a school board is not the best way of getting it done; but all I can say at present is that my hon. Friend's proposal shall be attentively considered. I now come to the points which were touched upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard). Now, in considering this much-debated 25th clause, and the question of replacing the present system by the secular system, I want my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham not to lose sight of the fact that we are looking forward to a general provision for compulsory attendance. About the 25th clause, which enables school boards to pay the fees for the children of indigent parents, a great deal has been said in the country, but very little in this House. Indeed, I think there was hardly anything said on the subject here; but in some quarters it is believed that I drew that clause in a Macchiavelian way, in order to assist the Established Church. I was not aware of it myself, and nobody—whether friendly or hostile to the Established Church—found it out at the time the Bill was passed. The only Amendment to the clause was proposed by the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke) with the object of extending its operations. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr seems to think that, in passing that clause, we were breaking our resolution to make the voluntary schools independent of the rates; but our real object was two-fold—first, to get children to school who would not otherwise attend; secondly, to make compulsion easier and more just, and to take away from parents all excuse for keeping their children away from school. It is by no means an easy matter to interfere with family affairs, and to say to a man—"You shall be fined in the first instance, and afterwards sent to prison if you do not discharge what we conceive to be your duty towards your child." Even in a matter which seems so plain as vaccination, it is very difficult, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish) well knows, to interfere with a man's family; for that reason we introduced the provision that when a school board had schools of its own it might remit the fees for the children of indigent parents, or pay such fees at any other schools. It has been objected to this provision—first, that it has led to extravagance on the part of the school boards; and, secondly, that we have been creating a new class, as paupers were already dealt with by the Poor Law, and persons who were not paupers ought to pay the school fees for their children. With reference to the latter objection, it ought to be remembered that we were imposing a new duty, and that, therefore, it might be necessary to create a new class. There are many parents, men, and still more widows, who have kept themselves off the poor rate, but who, nevertheless, would find it very difficult to pay school fees for their children. It appeared to us that we should not be justified in saying to such parents—"You must either go on the poor rate or else be fined and imprisoned for not sending your children to school and paying the school fees." No doubt the clause had in some cases been worked in an extravagant manner; but there would be little difficulty in regard to the clause if it was worked generally as it had been at Stockport, where the attendance had been increased 25 per cent without sending a single parent to prison. Certainly there were 400 warnings, and the payment of fees for 47 children involved the terrible expenditure of £2 18s.d. But I candidly acknowledge that in some places—at Manchester, for example—the clause has been worked too extravagantly. No doubt, the gentlemen who compose this board have been actuated by the best motives; but they have stepped into the shoes of a philanthropic society, and it is not always advantageous for a public body to do so. I have the most perfect confidence, however, that the ratepayers will bring the Manchester school board to book, and require them to do no more than is done by the school board at Stockport. The next objection has reference to the conscience of the ratepayers, and I must confess I did not foresee the difficulty. Nobody suggested the objection to me, and if anybody had done so, I should have answered it by pointing out that we already had an Act which was open to the same objection. The Act passed by Mr. Denison took much more money from the ratepayers for denominational education than that of 1870, because it often took entire charge of the children; but, in the working of it, I understand there is no case in which the parent, though an out-door pauper, is not allowed to choose the school, and there has never been a case in which ratepayers on conscientious grounds have objected to the exercise of that choice. Then, it is said, we have violated the principle that no money derived from rates was to be given for the support of religious instruction; to which I reply that no rate money has been given for religious instruction. I will challenge the production of a single case in which the time devoted to secular instruction does not bear a much larger proportion to that devoted to religious instruction than the Government grant, together with the fees paid out of rates for indigent parents, bears to the whole expenditure of the school. There is scarcely a school in which instruction in religious subjects takes up one-sixth of the time; and I am sure there is not a school in which the fees paid for indigent parents, together with the grant, amount to anything like five-sixths of the income. If, however, we had merely to deal with our first object, which was getting the children to school who would otherwise not go, although I think that was a good object, yet wishing to avoid any dispute which can be avoided, I think it may be bought at too dear a price, and if that alone were our object, I should advise getting rid of the clause altogether, and that there should be no connection between the school boards and voluntary schools. But then the hon. Member for Birmingham wishes to have compulsory attendance; and how is he going to carry it out if he strikes out this 25th clause and puts nothing in its place? It is not a question merely of religious difficulty; it is a question of the existence of schools. You have not got board schools, and you cannot have them for some time, because they take time to build, and because you cannot persuade ratepayers to build them where they are not wanted. In London what chance is there of carrying out compulsory by-laws unless use is to be made of other than the few board schools which exist? All friends of education are deeply indebted to Mrs. Anderson and Miss Davies; and let me quote what the former said as a member of the London School Board— If there were to be no cases in which the Board could pay for children in some denominational schools, then compulsion would break down, not only in the cases of real conscientious objections, but in spurious ones. For her own part, she did not believe in the consciences of persons who did not pay the school fees of their children, and, granting that their inability to pay might arise from failure, it was sometimes as well to place a penalty upon failure. But she did not want to see any course adopted which would render compulsion impossible, and they had heard from Professor Huxley the difficulties in the way of compulsion. There must not be too much speaking about difficulties if it was desired to get rid of them. She, who had intimate acquaintance with the habits of the poor, knew what their difficulties were. There were difficulties of distance, difficulties of locality, and difficulties of health; but the best way of dealing with difficulties was not to enlarge on them, but to endeavour to overcome them. Let them proceed with what she would call the energy of will, and the difficulties would gradually disappear. The 8th by-law would have protected the interests of the children, and their interests needed protecting. It must be remembered that the children of some who could not pay might live a long distance from a largo school, and there was a practical difficulty in sending a little child a long way to school. Let the members consider a poor, half-fed, and badly-clothed child tramping a long distance in inclement weather to the school, and what would be the result of its sitting shivering during the school hours in its wet clothes? The illness of a little child from such a cause would set the whole court where it lived against the system. Then the Board had to consider the poor ratepayers also—not those to whom the drawing of a larger or smaller cheque was not a matter of much moment, but the poor ones to whom the matter of a pound would make all the difference between being on and off the rates themselves. Would such persons hesitate for a moment in deciding whether or not new schools should be built before the old schools were filled? She was sure the unanimous answer would be that the old schools should be filled first. I ask you to consider the arguments in that speech. Are those who would sweep away the 25th clause prepared to levy rates in order to build schools for the children of all indigent parents? I do not want to make a bugbear of rates, which will be heavy; but it is impossible for you, under compulsory powers, to say to a parent—a Roman Catholic, for instance—that he shall go to prison, not merely if he does not send his child to school, but if he does not send that child to a board school. Nevertheless, I admit the difficulty this clause has raised, and I think, when we pass our general compulsory law, which may be next year, we may, perhaps, see whether we cannot substitute for this clause something which would meet the objections to it. I am persuaded it is impossible to do anything this year. Nothing will help the question so much as the experiment which is being tried by the London School Board; they have attacked the matter practically, and I think their experience, and that of other boards, will show us how we are to meet the difficulty. Adverting to the Amendment, of which Notice has been given by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), I may say we are perfectly willing to consider a modification of the Education Act; but I believe we should do so far better next year. To be candid, I must add I could never myself assent to any alteration which would break down what I consider to be a principle of justice—namely, that you must give the parent, who is prevented by acknowledged poverty from sending his child to school, the choice of the public elementary school to which you compel him to send his child. If he says that on conscientious grounds he prefers one school to another, it is not our business to deny him this liberty of conscience. I do not deny that he cannot have this choice in country districts, where there is but one school; but that should not interfere with the right of the parent where there are more schools than one. My object is not to give denominational education nor to prevent it; it is to secure secular education, and to give as much freedom as possible with regard to religious education; but my first duty is to secure secular education. Where there are not schools to choose between, I cannot give the power of choice; but wherever there are, the parent has the right to choose. I come now to the last two allegations in the Resolution, and if they be true, if the Act does permit boards to use the money of the ratepayers for the purpose of imparting dogmatic religious instruction; and if, by the concession of these permissive powers, it provokes religious discord throughout the country, and by the exercise of them it violates the rights of conscience, then the plea of time would be of no avail, and the Resolution ought to pass. Let me give one explanation. Some persons suppose that, by the 14th clause, we intended to prohibit dogmatic religious in- struction; but we did not so intend, and there was a division which, proved that the House did not. Several Members on our side of the House voted against us, and it was the only division on the Bill in which we were indebted for the support of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Our object in passing it was that we might restrict the use of distinctive catechisms and formularies; but we never supposed we could prohibit religious instruction; and if there is to be religious instruction, it must be to some extent dogmatic. Though to teach a child dogmatic theology is impossible—if you try to teach it him, he cannot learn it. The hon. Member in his Resolution protests againt the money of the ratepayers being employed in giving dogmatic religious education. But he dropped the word "dogmatic" in his speech, and it was evidently only imported into his Resolution as the last sign of the desperate endeavour on the part of some of the societies to which he belongs, to cling to some kind of religious instruction in spite of the inevitable result which must flow from the principles they put forward. They have, however, now found out their mistake, and boldly avow the end they seek. How is it possible to teach the Old Testament without involving the dogma of the persons of the Deity; or the New Testament without involving the dogma of the existence of Christ? The real question before the House is this—shall we re-open the educational question by passing a Resolution which will compel us to pass an Act which will replace the present system by a purely secular system? I ask the hon. Member whether he really believes that the country is prepared to adopt the programme of the League of Birmingham, or of the Conference of Nonconformists at Manchester, under which no religious education whatever shall be given? In ascertaining this point, I do not appeal merely to the divisions in this House when the subject was under our consideration, but to what has occurred since among the school boards which have been elected throughout the country. The hon. Member will doubtless say that it is the cumulative vote which has prevented his system from being carried into effect; but let me inform him that, with the exception of the Birmingham school board, it is owing to the cumulative vote that those who advocate secular education have obtained seats on the school boards. I have not gathered from either the addresses or the actions of the school boards that they are in favour of a secular system. Having felt it to be my duty to go through the statistics on the subject, I find that eight only, representing a population of less than 200,000, have so far agreed with the hon. Member as to recommend that the Bible shall be read in the schools without note or comment; whereas 38, representing a population of more than 6,000,000, have decided that the Bible shall be read with explanations such as a child can easily understand. But not one of these school boards have adopted the secular system, which they have a perfect right to do under the provisions of the Act, and which they would be obliged to do were an Act passed embodying the principle contained in the Resolution of the hon. Member. While upon this point I must ask to be permitted to remove an unfortunate misapprehension which appears to exist in some quarters with regard to some expressions of mine relating to the importance in which religious education is held by those who advocate secular education. I had no intention whatever of attributing to those gentlemen a want of due regard for religious education. I believe that they are as deeply impressed with its importance as I am myself, and if I ever used any expression which was calculated to convey a different impression I beg most heartily and fully to retract it. What I believe I stated at the time was, that I foresaw that the views then entertained must end in the exclusion of the Bible from the schools, and the correctness of my assertion has now been proved. There are many high authorities which point out the evils likely to arise from this exclusion. If my hon. Friend will allow me, I will read the language of a great statesman, and one whom he himself will admit to be a very high authority indeed. Mr. Cobden said— I never will be a party to any scheme that attempts to lay down in an Act of Parliament this monstrous, arrogant, and dictatorial doctrine—that a parish or community shall not, if it please, introduce the Bible into its schools. I do not think it is necessary that I should trespass further upon the attention of the House beyond appealing to the hon. Member to be content with having made his statement, and to withdraw his Resolution. There are, however, one or two matters personal to myself, which I cannot altogether pass over without comment. The hon. Member for Merthyr charged me with having worked the Act in a partial manner; but I may be allowed to say that nobody could have attempted to work it more impartially than I have done. If the hon. Member believes that there is any foundation for that charge, I must ask him to mention the particular cases to which he refers, because I am quite satisfied that no just ground of complaint exists either against myself or the Office. Allusion has been made to the instructions given to the Inspectors of National Schools, and of voluntary schools which have been transferred to the school board; but I believe I could show the Inspectors have not acted otherwise than impartially under those instructions. If the hon. Member intended to bring forward any case, he should have given me notice of his intention, in order that I might have ascertained the exact facts.


said, he held in his hand a plan and an estimate in the handwriting of an Inspector, which he had sent yesterday to the Department.


I trust the hon. Gentleman will put a Question to me on some future occasion with reference to the document. The instructions given to the Inspectors were that they should lean on neither side. Although I cannot conceal from the House that I have a strong feeling as to the injustice of establishing by law a secular system of education, still I have endeavoured, in carrying out the provisions of the Act, to enable those who advocate this system to avail themselves of the full benefit of those provisions. It matters but little how far I have succeeded in my efforts in the cause of education; but it is of the utmost importance that the machinery of education should be started as quickly as possible, and therefore I again appeal to the hon. Member to be content with having stated his convictions on this question, and not to attempt to throw all our machinery into hopeless confusion by endeavouring to get the country to accept a system for which he knows it is not prepared, and to which I trust it will never submit. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "House" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the time which has elapsed since the passing of the Elementary Education Act of 1870, and the progress which has been made in the arrangements under it, are not such as to enable this House to enter with advantage upon a review of its provisions,"—(Mr. William Edward Forster,) —instead thereof.


said, the admirable and honest speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had not left much for anyone to say upon the question; but as one who had long taken a deep interest in the subject, and as a firm adherent of the Church of England, there were one or two points which had fallen from the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) which he could not allow to pass without comment. The hon. Gentleman had said that he repudiated all compromise in this matter of settling the education question. But there was another party in this House, representing, as he believed, a majority of the people of England, who did make a compromise when the Education Act was passed, and it was a compromise which imposed a great strain upon their consciences. Was it no sacrifice for the members of the Church of England to abdicate once for all the power of teaching the creed, the catechism, and the formularies upon which their faith was based? Was that no compromise? [Mr. DIXON remarked that that only applied to rate-supported schools.] He was aware of that; but without that concession the Act would probably not have passed. The Resolution before the House complained that school boards were not established throughout the country generally, and some hon. Gentlemen seemed to suppose that the payment of the rates by which their schools wore maintained was something particularly agreeable to the country. He himself had only felt surprised that such a number of rate-aided schools had been already sanctioned before any compulsory powers on the subject had been put in force. Hon. Gentlemen must see that the country had quite come up to the expectations that were previously formed. The people who felt the pressure of the rates most were not the wealthy employers of labour, and persons high up in the social scale, but those who were themselves little removed from pauperism, and who felt the double pressure in being deprived of the fruits of the labour of their children, and in being compelled to pay school rates at the same time. When hon. Gentlemen complained that the Act had only set up a very small number of rate-supported schools, they should take into consideration the pressure imposed upon those who had to pay the rates. The hon. Member for Birmingham had said it was the interest of the landowners of the country to set up school boards; but he (Mr. Liddell) hoped those landlords considered their duty rather than their pecuniary interests. The whole gist and object of the Resolution had been plainly set forth by the hon. Gentleman when he said that the passing of the Education Act had alienated different parties in that House and out of it, and he (Mr. Liddell) was afraid there was more of that feeling than of love of education in the agitation which had been got up. When so much was said about the necessity for constructing school boards all over the country, it should not be forgotten that the working of school boards hitherto had not been particularly harmonious, and that in many instances they had been the scenes of a sectarian animosity which was highly detrimental, and which tended much to delay the progress of education. It was for that reason that he hoped the denominational system would continue to be supported by its friends, and sheltered, as it was now sheltered, by the State. They were told a great deal about religious equality, and that the action of the present law was antagonistic to that principle. But religious equality, under the circumstances of this country was simply impossible so long as the Church was connected with the State, and so long as the National Church was possessed of large endowments. But when they were told that religious liberty demanded the passing of this Resolution, he was reminded that the most violent inroads upon the principles of civil liberty and religious liberty made within his experience were being made at this very moment from the benches opposite, for the Permissive Bill was an inroad upon civil liberty, and this Motion was an attempt to violate religious liberty. Because a very small body of people objected to pay rates which might be used, though they were not necessarily so used, for the purpose of teaching religion, it was claimed for the sake of conscience that therefore the children of a poor man should be forced into a school of which the parent did not approve, and that, he maintained, was a violent inroad upon religious liberty brought to bear upon the poor man who was least able to resist it. Hon. Gentlemen protested that they were taking their present course in the interests of the Church and of religious education; but he maintained that they were dealing a deadly blow at that very religion which they professed to respect and wished to see maintained—that being, he believed, the spirit in which the religion of the Church was regarded. In every country that he was acquainted with religious education was furnished in the schools; but now it was sought to introduce into this country a system not followed anywhere else. They knew that those who agitated against the educational settlement of two years ago wished to introduce a purely secular teaching into the schools; but if they were sincere in their belief in the value of secular teaching, why did they not set up purely secular schools of their own, and try the principle by the crucial test of public opinion? They did not do it because they knew perfectly well that any such attempt could only result in failure. The feeling of the country had been unmistakeably expressed upon the question, and it was against the friends of this Resolution. Had not the people of Scotland risen almost as one man to give warning to the Government that they must beware of attempting to pass a Scotch Education Bill which did not provide for the religious education of the people of Scotland? He remembered the time when hon. Gentlemen opposite told the House night after night that they must trust entirely to voluntaryism; but in a remarkably short space of time those hon. Gentlemen had abandoned that doctrine for some unexplained reason. He would give his vote most cordially in favour of the Amendment proposed by his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council, because it involved the great principle of religious education to which he had always been, and would continue to be, deeply attached.


said, the argument of the Mover and Seconder of the Resolution rested on the assumption that a national system should be established, and they wished that the Act of 1870 should be materially altered; but he could not find in the statements they made, any guide as to what the national system which they proposed was to be. The Association, of which the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) was a member, started originally with the principle that the Bible should be read in the schools; but they had now given that up, and advocated purely secular teaching. Such a change in so short a time was a proof that it was necessary for Parliament to be very cautious before they passed such a Resolution as this. It was not possible to draw a line between religious and secular education, for the habits, thoughts, and actions of the people had for so many centuries been interwoven and intertwined with religion and Christianity. The principal objection to the Act was, that it sanctioned the levying of rates for the payment of denominational schools upon persons who refused on conscientious grounds to pay such rates. He was born a member of a society that objected on conscientious grounds to pay church rates, and that he assumed was a valid objection to church rates; but he had never heard that where money was paid from a common fund for different purposes, any fair objection could be made to that payment. A church rate was applied exclusively to purposes of the Church of England; whereas money raised by school rates was applied in giving education to persons of different religions. No doubt there might be a danger, in regard to the 25th clause of the Act, of a too liberal granting of free admission to the rate-aided schools, producing what he might call a system of educational pauperism; but though it might be necessary, in the course of time, to remodel the clause, it surely would not be wise to do so until they had had some experience of the working of the Act. He did not think that school boards ought to be introduced all over the country, whether certain districts required them or not, especially when the question of taxation and the additional burden it imposed upon the poor was considered. He believed that a compromise was necessary in this matter, and that this could only be satisfactorily established by their trying to see how far they could agree, before they endeavoured to find out all the differences which existed between different bodies. He could not for his part support the Resolutions of the hon. Member for Birmingham, because he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, that more time was required to enable them to see what amendments and modifications might be necessary in the Act. He would rather say let us endeavour to work the Act, considering that it was the first attempt to give the right and means of education to everybody, and also to fill up the great educational void which the Church of England schools and all other existing schools had left unfilled.


said, that he would commence his few observations by reviewing the first sentence in this Motion, which affirmed "that, in the opinion of this House, the provisions of the Elementary Education Act are defective, and its working unsatisfactory." It was almost impossible that such should not be the case; but he thought that the hon. Member for Birmingham would find but little sympathy in that part of the House in his wish to upset the operation of the statute. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council hardly did himself justice when he alluded to the efforts that had been made throughout the country to obtain substantial benefit under the Act. The hon. Member for Birmingham disclaimed as his motive to action any advantage to be derived by any particular sect; but the hon. Member who immediately followed (Mr. Richard) hardly agreed with him, because he said that the Act worked contrary to the express wishes of the Dissenters, and inflicted great hardship upon them. He (Mr. Corrance) objected to alter the Act for many reasons, not the least of which was that if the House were to accept the proposal of the hon. Gentleman it would distinctly break Parliamentary faith, and impose needless burdens on those ratepayers in behalf of whom he had often raised his voice. The hon. Gentleman had complained of the 25th clause, to which clause he (Mr. Corrance) had moved an Amendment when the Bill was in Committee. It seemed to him that the clause was objectionable in many respects. It put it in the power of school boards to pay the fees for certain classes who were not paupers, and who were not to be submitted to any pauper test, and he objected to the creation of such a class as that. If such a class were created in reference to education, why should it not be created in reference to medical aid and other things? It would be humanity to the poorer classes that they should keep up the test. The right hon. Gentleman told them he looked forward to the compulsory powers and to the payment of the fees; but he (Mr. Corrance) thought that they should look forward to the time when the poorer classes would have the power and the wish to obtain education at their own cost. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman should have said that he believed the compulsory powers and the payment of the fees would be necessary for a short time to secure the desired result; but that he trusted that within a short time parents would provide education for their children out of their own pockets. If the right hon. Gentleman had said this there would then have been considerable weight in his arguments. The Amendment which he (Mr. Corrance) proposed was that Denison's Act should be incorporated in the Education Act; and the right hon. Gentleman admitted that there was some force in the proposition, but he said that he had not then such relations with the President of the Poor Law Board as would enable him to do full justice in this matter. If a man was so unfortunate as to have recourse to the rates for education, then the guardians should say to what school the child should be sent. It appeared to him that this would be the natural solution of the difficulty. He did not approve of the school boards having power to remit the payment of fees, because they had not the means of making sufficient inquiries into the circumstances upon which they should act. The Board of Guardians had the means of making such inquiries. He looked forward with considerable apprehension to the increase of pauperism from this clause; but he had no wish to raise difficulties, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would at a future time see it was necessary to apply some remedy in reference to this point.


said, that when the Act of 1870 was under discussion, the religious objection was the principal objection raised from the Liberal benches below the gangway, and it was declared that the Bill would produce much discord, and would make it impossible for men of different opinions to unite heartily in carrying it out. His right hon. Friend then made light of these representations, assuring the House that when the machinery of the Act was once set in motion, there would be an end of religious discord. Now, he (Mr. Auberon Herbert) appealed confidently to the result. Instead of wounded feelings being softened and appeased, excitement and bitterness had gone on increasing, until at present there was a strong impression that, unless the Act was largely amended, it must split up the Liberal party. Another cause of complaint was that the leaning of the Department had been rather in favour of the already existing denominational schools, and against the rate-established schools. He did not wish to do his right hon. Friend an injustice; but he would mention the case of Hucknall-Torkard, in Nottinghamshire, in which district a school board was elected on the 20th April, and on the 19th June they adopted the report of a sub-committee, and asked permission to build school accommodation for 610 children. There was a correspondence with the Department; time passed and nothing was done; and it was not until the 4th of December that a letter was received from the Council Office, not quarrelling with the school board's estimate as to the want of school accommodation, but suggesting that the existing denominational accommodation should be increased so as to provide entirely for the boys, while the girls and the infants were to be left to the school board. It was a strange thing to assign the infants and girls to a rate-established school, and the boys to a denominational school, and the correspondence showed, he thought, an animus against the new schools and in favour of the old. The right hon. Gentleman alone had the foresight to perceive the effect of the clause relating to fees. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER: I beg pardon; I did not see it.] Then the House and the right hon. Gentleman were all blind together. When the Nonconformists objected to the rates being applied to denominational purposes, they were told that they ought, in consistency, equally to object to Votes for the same purposes from the Consoli- dated Fund. If, however, a man were troubled with a couple of corns there was no reason why he should not attempt to get rid of one. If a man were too poor to provide education for his children, it either was or was not the duty of the State to add to that education religious instruction. But where would they draw the line? He contended that it was the office of the various religious bodies to meet such cases, and when there was in existence a rich and powerful body like the National Society, it was the office of such a body to undertake the payment of such fees, and not to throw it upon the State. He would admit that the repeal of this clause might for a time have a hurtful effect upon the compulsory principle; but the Legislature was bound to satisfy every just demand on the part of Nonconformists before it proceeded to compulsion. No common funds ought to be applied towards teaching the religion of another persuasion, and if hon. Members on the Opposition benches would put themselves in the position of the Nonconformist Body, they would recognize the reasonableness of their objections. What was the cause of all this delay in the progress of education? As he held it, it was this—the right hon. Gentleman, in his anxiety to forward the interests of education, had tried to take a short cut for the attainment of his object. Looking at the forces as they existed in the country, the right hon. Gentleman had made use of the materials under his hand, without ever stopping to consider whether there was a right or a wrong principle, or, indeed, any principle at all, involved in the matter. The right hon. Gentleman, it appeared, had followed his tradition of practical common sense, and the result would show that such practical common sense was often a great mistake. What was the principle that underlaid those matters? It was a simple one enough—when they came to use the public machinery or the public money for any object, they should not use it upon the mere principle that it was sanctioned by a majority of that House. No doctrine, in his opinion, could be more hurtful or more dangerous, and if hon. Members opposite saw where such a doctrine would lead to, he was sure they would hesitate before they would support such a principle. They should only use that public machinery or public money when they felt satisfied that the object sought for was one not for the benefit of one party or section alone, but for the benefit of the entire community. Now, no man could get up and say that a system of secular education was not one of general interest. On the other hand, no man could assert that a religious education was of general interest. ["Yes, yes!"] Well, if any hon. Members were disposed to insist upon the contrary view, then he would ask them to define what religion really was. As to secular education, there could be no mistake—they knew precisely what it was. ["No, no!"] He believed that if a certain number of Members got up for the purpose of defining what the meaning of religious teaching was, each one would define it differently—and the differences would be not small, but great. They would, however, all concur that reading, writing, and arithmetic ought to be taught. The work of education had been for a certain time delayed from, the want of the necessary machinery for its establishment. He held the opinion that that principle was a wrong one; but he was not disposed to quarrel about that delay. He had seen, within the last few months, a great sign of advance in the intelligence of the country upon this question of education. He had seen a large body of Nonconformists take their stand upon a truly logical and consistent position. A short time ago, he thought it would have been possible to induce them to give their sanction to a system of religious education which would have been in their interests, but which would have excluded the interests of certain bodies which lay outside theirs. He did not think that such a concession was now possible. The words "secular education" were now pronounced in a way they had never been pronounced before. The great body of the Nonconformists now felt that they must not ask simply for a system of education which would meet their own wants, but that they must take their stand on a larger principle, which must be carried out to its fullest extent. As time went on there would be more persons who did not belong to any particular Church, and they required just as much tolerance as was asked by the Nonconformists from the Church. As he had observed some time ago, there might have been a union effected between both parties; but he thought that that time had now passed by. He, for one, had not the slightest hesitation in claiming for those with whom he had the greatest sympathy, who belonged to modern schools of thought, and who united themselves to no Church or sect whatever, that justice which required that the scheme of national education should not be applied to the advantage of one particular sect rather than another. The line could not be fairly drawn at any one point, and the principle of toleration must be extended equally to all. Whatever that House might do, he felt satisfied the time would come when the conscience of the country would recognize that that could only be effected by making the system of national education entirely secular.


said, it was evident that there were three parties, or three classes of opinion, upon the subject of education, within the House, and throughout the country. First, there was the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon), and those who concurred with him; secondly, there were the promoters and supporters of the Act of 1870, who, whether that Act was a compromise or not, at all events stood in the middle between the other parties; and thirdly, there were those of whom he confessed himself to be one, who had accepted that Act, because they failed to obtain anything better. Let the House, then, first take into consideration the class of opinions entertained by the hon. Member for Birmingham and his supporters, as evinced in his speech, and still more in the Resolutions which he had proposed to the House. In his speech he had spoken of compulsion in the most endearing terms, and had called it "a salutary power." In his Resolutions there was nothing but compulsion and tyranny, from beginning to end. His general charge was, that the provisions of the Act were defective, and then he enumerated the particulars in which he thought it ought to be amended. Let the House consider how despotic was their character. He would make the election of school boards compulsory throughout the country; he would make the daily attendance of the children of the poor, compulsory. He would compel all school boards to pay out of the rates, the fees of all the children in the schools, and would forbid for the future any "partial" payments being made. Fourthly, he would compel all school boards to support secular schools, and secular schools only. And fifthly, he would impose a compulsory prohibition against the use of the school buildings, at times when they were unused and empty, for any religious teaching whatever. Lastly, he inveighed against all permissive powers whatever, calling them concessions, and showing by that term, that he thought the normal condition of the country was despotism and oppression; in other words, he would not permit any local authority to judge for itself, or to act in that way which all the persons of that district knew to be the best for themselves. How was it that the ultra-section of the Liberal party had become advocates of despotism? He had always thought that all compulsion was contrary to the traditions and principles of the Liberal party. It was certain that if those Resolutions were put in force, they would do more to injure the cause of education than all the efforts of the last 35 years had succeeded in benefiting it, and would render the very name of education hateful throughout the country. There was also no doubt that such a stockade of compulsions was quite alien to the spirit and tenor of English legislation. We were not accustomed to compel, but rather to lead and guide, and urge on, utilizing all the local forces and dormant energies which existed in the people. As those Resolutions, then, contradicted the traditions of the Liberal party and the spirit of English legislation, and would be utterly destructive of the cause of education, which they had in hand, how did it come to pass that those who called themselves ultra-Liberals could frame or even support such Resolutions? It could only be that they desired to have one uniform, cast-iron system of education established, which should be utterly deprived of all religious influences and religious teaching. This was the end and aim of all the agitation which that party began to stir up, directly the Act of 1870 had come into operation. While the different religious bodies had been subscribing hundreds of thousands of pounds, and building schools and spreading education, those who called themselves secular educationalists had not built a single school, but had collected a hundred thousand pounds to get up an agitation against all religious teaching throughout the country. They had agitated here, they had agitated there; they had agitated everywhere in England and Scotland; they had even sent agitators and demagogues over to Ireland, to embark on the fruitless attempt of influencing the votes of Irish Members against denominational education. On what pretence did they oppose it? The hon. Member for Birmingham had that evening asserted that denominational teaching was an "obstacle to education;" while the Seconder of the Resolutions (Mr. Richard) had described it as "an infinite mischief." Was this true? On the contrary, it had been proved that where education was the most denominational, the results of the secular teaching were the best. In which class of schools was the teaching of the most inveterately denominational character? Everyone, he supposed, would admit, and none more readily than the hon. Member for Birmingham, that the Roman Catholic schools were the most denominational of all; while those which were grouped under the head of Protestant Dissenting schools, which comprised everything that approached to a secular school, all British Schools, and so forth, were the least denominational of all. The Report of the Committee of Council for 1870–1 stated that the average attendance in the Church of England schools was 844,334; in Dissenting schools, 241,989; and in Roman Catholic schools, 66,066. The numbers presented for examination (that was to say, those who had attended more than 400 times in the year, and were prepared to pass in a higher class than the former year) were, in the Church of England schools, 1,040,837; in Dissenting schools, 310,912; and in Roman Catholic schools, 83,017. If the Roman Catholics number one-twentieth of the population, then the average attendance of children was 1 in 16 of the Roman Catholic population; while the whole average in the Protestant schools was 1 in 20 of the population: the number presented for examination in Roman Catholic schools was 1 in 13 of the Roman Catholic population; while in the Church of England and Dissenting schools the number presented for examination was only 1 in 16. Both the attendance and the number presented were lower in the less denominational schools than in the most denominational schools. He would now consider the respective characters of those two classes of schools, and show that those denominational schools were the poorest, and, moreover, that the average age of the children which they contained was the lowest. It might, therefore, naturally be expected that the results would be worse in those schools than in the less denominational schools, and such an inferiority would be very pardonable. The percentage of children who pay less than 3d. per week in the Church of England schools was 75.3; in the Dissenting schools, 54; and in the Roman Catholic, which were, therefore, the poorest, 87.4. Being poorer, they had to be content with a cheaper class of master and mistress. The average salary of masters in the Dissenting schools was £107 per annum, and of the Roman Catholic masters was only £87. That of mistresses was £66 and £54 respectively. It might fairly be supposed that the masters and mistresses in those denominational schools had, therefore, a lower teaching power. Now, as to the ages of the children. The percentage of ages of children between 4 and 5 years in Dissenting schools was 8, and in Roman Catholic schools, 11; from 4 to 7 years old the percentage of age was much larger in the Catholic schools than in the Protestant Dissenting schools. From 7 to 9 years of age all schools were about equal; from 10 to 11 in Dissenting schools the average was 10.5 per cent, and in the Roman Catholic schools 8.9 per cent; and over 13 the average in Dissenting schools was 5.17, and in Roman Catholic schools, 2.8. It was, therefore, apparent that the children in Roman Catholic schools were much younger than those in Protestant Dissenting schools. The secular results were as follows:—Percentage of failures in reading was 8 in Dissenting schools, and 4.6 in Roman Catholic schools; in writing 9.1 per cent in Dissenting schools, and 6 per cent in Roman Catholic schools; and in arithmetic 21 per cent in Dissenting schools, and 12.4 in Roman Catholic schools; and the percentage that passed completely in all the subjects under Standard V. was 62.7 in Dissenting schools, and 74.9 in Roman Catholic schools. It was, therefore, very apparent that the proposition of the hon. Member for Birmingham and of his party was not true; so far from denominational teaching being an obstacle to education, it was found that in the most denominational schools of all, the results of the secular teaching were the best. This, moreover, was in spite of the disparity of years and of teaching power; for if the teaching in the most denominational schools had been least good, little fault could have been found, for the young children which they contained had to compete with older children from Protestant Dissenting schools; and the children of poorer parents with children of richer parents; and the children taught by cheaper masters with the children taught by the best and most expensive masters. Nevertheless, there was a direct gain in the denominational schools which outweighed all these disadvantages. He passed now to the promoters and supporters of the Act of 1870. The hon. Member for Birmingham had called the Vice President the "Minister of Education for the Conservative party." Some of the Conservatives might approve of the Vice President's Education Act of 1870, and others did not; and he (Lord Robert Montagu) was one of those who had never liked it, but had accepted it as a compromise—that was to say, he had taken it as an evil, but as a less evil than what might have been in time imposed, if he had not accepted it. However that might be, it was an Act in entire accordance with the fundamental principles of the Liberal party, and therefore contradictory of the principles of the Conservative party. Let the House consider the three main features of the Act, and they must confess this to be true. First, the election of school boards was permissive; that was to say, the people of each locality were free to govern themselves, and order what they thought best. That carried out the Liberal principle of the sovereignty of the people. The second feature of the Act was, that the people might rate all real property for the purposes of secular or, at least, school board schools. That was in accordance with the Liberal principle that property had no rights except those with which the statute law invested it; and that there was no law except the will of the people, or rather the will of a majority. The third feature of the Bill was also in accordance with a Liberal principle; it was, that as the people of the country were at variance on religious matters, seeing that they were divided among 150 different religions, while it was, on the other hand, necessary that they should be in harmony on educational subjects, as the Liberal party had determined to have one uniform or national system of education; therefore—as the Vice President had said at Bradford on June 6th, 1870—"A main principle of the Bill was, that the State should not in any way interfere with religion." The Chancellor of the Exchequer had, perhaps, put the matter more clearly in his famous speech at Halifax last autumn, when he had said, speaking of the Act of 1870, that by it— They had taken the virus out of denominational schools.…. Now they were made what was called public elementary schools for the first time, and were liable, like any other public bodies, to be dealt with at the pleasure of the Legislature, and if anything more was to be required of them the Legislature could impose it. That implied great progress, and the Vice President had that night said that "the Act of 1870 had struck a great blow at the denominational system." He (Lord Robert Montagu) had often, on former occasions, expressed his opinions on the Act of 1870; and they remained unchanged. He, therefore, considered it unnecessary to repeat them. He would merely remark on an anomaly in the Act. The State had taken upon itself the inalienable duty of the parent, in saying it would educate the children; and yet it refused to put itself in loco parentis, by repudiating the most indubitable and essential part of that duty, which was to give, before all things, a sound religious education. He now passed to the third party in the State—to those who had accepted the Act of 1870, to tell the truth, because they had not been able to prevent it. What they had desired then, however, they desired still. They then preferred, and they still preferred, that every religious body should educate the children of their own congregations, rather than send them to secular schools. They therefore wished Baptists to teach their children the Baptists' view of religion; they desired the Church of England to bring up their children in the principles of the Church of England; and they wished that the Roman Catholics should teach the faith of Christ to all the children of that Church. On what grounds did they desire this, both in 1870 and at the present time? Because they asked, what was the object or aim of a State education? Surely, it was that they might take the new generation before it came on the stage, and form and mould it as they desired the future people of England to be; or, in other words, they desired to get hold of children in order that they might give them those habits of thought and feeling which they wished them to have when they grew up. For, as Bacon said—"Education was nothing but an early custom." What habits did they give the children of England by the Act of 1870? They accustomed them to see religion shunted. All statesmen of old judged every law and every institution by the effects which it would have on the minds of the citizens; that was—they said a law was good if it tended to cultivate good habits of thought and feeling, and bad if it left the door open to the practice of vice. How much more necessary then was it to judge thus of a law of education! What, then, must be their verdict on the Act of 1870. It accustomed children, from their earliest days, to see religion put aside as a matter about which the school could not be troubled, and the State did not care. It gave them the habit of dissociating religion from all their thoughts and studies. What would be the effect of that when those children grew up? How would the House of Commons itself feel it? A great statesman, greater even than his friends supposed, because he always veiled in a garb of fiction the political truths which he desired to assort and by stealth inculcate—that great statesman wrote that Charles I. had come to an untimely end because he had brought himself into contempt; and he added a warning to the House of Commons, lest they should suffer a similar fate. He (Lord Robert Montagu) could not conceive anything more likely to tend to it than the legislation proposed by the hon. Member for Birmingham, and partially carried out in the Act of 1870. The hon. Member for Birmingham had just spoken of the "classes to whom we have given the supreme political power." If they had the supreme power in the constituencies, what prevented them from sending Proletaires, or even Socialists, and Internationalists, as their Representatives to the House of Commons? Nothing but the respect for right which was in the breasts of the working classes—the traces of the religious teaching which they had received in the denominational schools of their youth. But bring up a new generation without religion, give them a habitual disregard and contempt for religion, and what would prevent them from looking merely to their own interests in the election of Members? They would then hurry into the struggle between capital and labour; the name of right would have lost its sense for them; the rights of property would come to mean merely the will of the majority in regard to it; the authority of the Sovereign, the influence of the upper classes, the restraints of the ministers of religion, would be gone. There would then be a Socialist House of Commons, which would speedily fall into contempt, or worse. It would pass away, and none would deplore it.


remarked that he would not follow the noble Lord through his statistics, or his investigations into the causes why Voltaires were not returned to that House. Still less would he follow the course taken by his hon. Friend below him (Mr. Dixon). Much as he admired the ability with which his hon. Friend had addressed himself to his subject, he could not but regret that he had not thought it expedient to limit the controversy to such points as would appear to admit of immediate attention on the part of the Legislature. He thought his hon. Friend's success in the lobby might have been greater if he had only narrowed his battle-field, because there were many Members who, while they hesitated to embrace the whole programme of the League, had no hesitation whatever with respect to the soundness of some of the propositions for which he claimed their approbation. He (Mr. Leatham) was therefore in the position that if his hon. Friend should present his Resolution to the House en bloc, he feared he should be compelled, much against his will, to vote against him, for this reason—that he did not believe that education by direct compulsion, if they excepted the application of the principle to the criminal and the pauper classes, who might be considered to have forfeited for the time their freedom and independence, was in accordance with the feelings, habits, and opinions of the great bulk of the people of this country. It appeared to him that a more urgent question was raised by the attempt to enforce Clause 25 of the Education Act—which his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council had only defended that evening in a half-hearted manner—because nothing could exceed the anger and bitterness, and therefore the danger, to our whole educational system which that attempt had everywhere excited. He could not agree with his right hon. Friend that this controversy had arisen on insufficient grounds. They could not call that grievance sentimental which affronted the sense of public justice, and did so in away which left the person aggrieved face to face with the duty of personal protest. It was precisely this peculiarity which threw all its heat into the Church-rate controversy. A direct contribution to a Church system and doctrines from which he dissented was imposed by a triumphant local majority armed with powers of distraint. Almost the same terms would define the grievance of which he was complaining. His right hon. Friend entered into a somewhat hazy argument, in which he hardly succeeded in getting the House to follow him—and he (Mr. Leatham) was not quite sure that he succeeded in following himself—to show that the rates were not given to religious teaching. But could anyone doubt that the school fees, when charged upon the rates, constituted a substantial contribution towards the maintenance of the schools; and was it possible to draw any logical distinction between the maintenance of the school and the maintenance of the doctrines and Church systems which such a school was founded and carried on to promote? And that these schools were founded and carried on to promote particular Church systems and doctrines they were abundantly in a position to show. In a paper issued by the National Society, that society stated their work to be to teach the facts, the doctrines, and the duties of their religion, in order that the children might become intelligent Christians, and not only Christians, but Churchmen, and not only Churchmen, but communicants. Were, then, the Dissenters to be called upon to contribute to the schools of that society? Another authority he would quote on this subject was that of Mr. Fitch, one of the Inspectors sent down by the right hon. Gentleman to inquire into the educational condition of Birmingham and Leeds in 1869–70. He stated that, with the single exception of the Unitarians, every religious body which maintained a school did so with the obvious purpose of strengthening the sectarian influence—as an instrument for bringing children to the church or chapel. But it was said there was no harm in doing all this, because the object of the State was to aid the parent, not the school. The result, however, of the State's action was enormously to endow a system of denominational education far more than sufficiently endowed already. It had been said by a previous speaker that grants were increased on the direct understanding that the connection between the school board and voluntary schools should cease. He did not blame the Church of England for what she had done; but the result was, over almost all the country, to forestall the introduction of any other system of education, and this was done in such a way as to enable the advocates of denominational education to taunt them with having raised a huge edifice of vested rights which dominated the present and overshadowed the future. His right hon. Friend had spoken at some length upon the success which that edifice represented. He did not seem to see that the higher it rose and the broader it grew, the more surely did it crush out the hope that they would see anything better in this country than a mere system of goody schools devoted to the teaching of catechisms and creeds. The fact was, that these schools were founded not to educate, but to indoctrinate the people, and it would have been better to have postponed this whole question than to have solved it in a way which must leave the real education of the people a permanent impossibility. Now, what were the results of this denominational system? If they referred to the latest Reports of the Committee of Council, they would find that for the year ending August 31st, 1870, there were visited 6,382 schools belonging to the National Society, or Church of England. The number of children present during the examination was 1,040,837; of these, the number who passed in reading, Standard VI.—that was, who were able to read "a short paragraph in a newspaper, or other modern narrative," were 22,316—rather more than one in 50, or an average of 3½ children for each school visited. Now, if such had been the result of schools in Germany or Holland, Switzerland or in the United States of America, the Minister of Instruction would not have found so much cause of jubilee as his right hon. Friend. These grants, in truth, subsidized religion—that was the correct phrase. In some schools the amount raised from school fees was so large that when added to the denominational grants the managers were absolutely obliged to reduce the voluntary subscription for fear they should have a surplus, and so be compelled to forego a portion of the grant. In some cases the school fees with the denominational grant sufficed to discharge the whole expense of the schools. What, then, had we come to? To this—that denominational schools would not only receive a grant from the State in consideration of secular teaching, but they would soon be in a position to teach sectarianism wholly, or almost wholly, at the expense of the State; and this they ventured to call subsidizing religion. What confidence could they have that Clause 25 would not be abused to any extent in the interest of the denominational schools? His hon. Friend had referred to the great extravagance which prevailed at Manchester; but perhaps he was not aware of the fact stated in a letter which had appeared in The Manchester Examiner. The writer said that he had been waited upon by a member of the school board, and asked if he could receive some children into his school. These children turned out to be his own scholars, whose parents hitherto had paid their fees, but since the establishment of the board their parents had hardly paid the fees at all. Again, the ratepayers in the school district of Sal-ford paid for the education of 1,700 children, yet the school attendance in the quarter ending September last, was less by 713 than in that ending in June. The fact was, that they were pauperizing the people by their 25th clause. They would not send their children to school unless their fees were paid. In the face of all this, it was a little hard to find his right hon. Friend invoking on behalf of the clause the very principle for which a few moments ago he (Mr. Leatham) was contending—that of religious liberty. He told them that unless they left to the parent the choice of the school, the child's conscience would be strained. If the child had been left in the gutter his conscience would not have been strained. Pick him out of the gutter and teach him the alphabet, and his conscience was strained. What strained his conscience—picking him out of the gutter, or teaching him the important fact that A was an Archer, and shot at a frog? Speaking of consciences, he had heard that the human conscience when once awakened was apt to play strange tricks. But no stranger tricks were ever played by an awakened conscience than those which were being played by the hereditary consciences of hon. Gentlemen opposite—which slept soundly through two centuries, first of persecution and then of disability, to which they were condemned on account of their religious opinions—slept soundly while Dissenters were forbidden by law from having their children taught their religious opinions at their own expense—to awake with a sudden paroxysm of sensibility, and to demand that every pauper in the kingdom of the 150 denominations to which the noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) had referrred, should have the right of having his children taught his own religious opinions at the cost of everyone except himself. But now that hon. Gentlemen's consciences were awake with regard to religious freedom, he put it to them whether it was just that he should be forced to subscribe to schools where his children were branded as heretics and heathens? And when he said heretics and heathens, he spoke advisedly. He held in his hand a little book, which had been already quoted by his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. Richard), in which he found that the children were asked—"In what light must we view those who have never been baptized?" And the answer was—"As heathens, whether old or young." He appealed to his right hon. Friend, who he had reason to hope had been no more baptized than he had been himself, whether he thought it right that they should be compelled to contribute to schools where doctrines of that character were taught, or were liable to be taught—whether it would not be better even to do as men with nerve and resolution throughout the country were preparing to do, and as his right hon. Friend's ancestors and his own in their day did—namely, to embrace hardship and suffering rather than by any act of their own, or over which they had control, contribute directly to their own dishonour and to the dishonour of what they believed to be the truth? What would happen in those schools? The bell rang; the children of Dissenters were liberated under the Time-table Conscience Clause; and the moment their backs were turned this little manual was put into the hands of the scholars who remained behind, and which taught them that their absent school-fellows were heretics or heathens. The Divine Founder of their religion, laying His hand on the head of a little child said, "Of such is the kingdom of Heaven." But the vicar of Great Barling claimed to possess more recent and more reliable information. The Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen), in a speech, the flavour of which was still so pleasant to his mouth, that he had had it published and circulated as widely as possible, declared that he was on the side of religion, and that his Church taught him to regard lovingly and tenderly the consciences of other men. But that Church appeared to have taught the vicar of Great Barling quite another lesson; and, what was more, she taught, through him, quite another lesson to the children of England. Could it be wondered at, then, if a flame had been kindled in the breast of Nonconformity, which no mere pleas for time, and nothing short of the repeal of that clause, could ever quench? That had been called "the revolt of the Nonconformists." If that revolt was a reality, one thing at least was clear. The Administration which came into office so largely on Nonconformist support had a gloomy prospect before it. But was it a reality? If it were, the hostile Resolution lately brought forward in that House would have afforded an excellent opportunity of giving effect to that revolt. But was there on that occasion a single Nonconformist vote given against the Government? Let them look back to history and say when they had found the Nonconformists to be hasty, passionate, or unreasonable in what they did. Their faults had rather been on the other side; they were patient and long-suffering. Again and again they had seen their vast strength invoked when a political exigency had to be met, that strength being waived on one side the moment the exigency was passed. This was not the first time they had been wounded where they were most sensitive, by those to whose political advancement they had materially contributed. But was it to be supposed that they had abandoned the policy which had by slow degrees led them up to the threshold of their great cardinal question? Should they abandon it now, when the exercise of a little prudence, patience, and courage would carry them over the threshold itself? Gasconading speeches might, if they fell from responsible lips, tend to precipitate a result which they deplored; and if anything could make them forget their party ties, it would be the leaving of grievances such as he had described to rankle in their bosoms unredeemed. But they did not despair yet of receiving justice at the hands of the Government. He could not forget that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had declared, so lately as 1870, his determination "to sever altogether the tie between the school board and the voluntary schools," and more recently, in the speech at Blackheath, had spoken of the operation of the disputed clause of the Bill as constituting a "difficulty and a grievance." Bearing this in mind, bearing in mind the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had the habit of embodying his convictions in his policy and legislation, and bearing in mind also the fact that although the right hon. Gentleman might at times have evinced a certain plasticity of opinion, that plasticity had never yet been shown in the direction of illiberality or intolerance, the Nonconformists, bearing these things in mind, appealed to him, not as revolting allies, but as faithful, firm, hopeful, and even confident supporters, to carry out the principles which he had proclaimed, even although in doing so he should have to override the opinions of Colleagues of whom—and the House could never know the grief and pain with which he said it—better things might have been expected.


said, the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Leatham) had remarked that rather than grapple with the difficulties of the present time, he should prefer to delay education to an indefinite period, until public opinion should come to a point at which his views would be accepted. On the other hand, standing there as representing the opinions of a great number of persons, he could say that they were prepared to make almost any concession which would not compromise the great principle which they held to be essential—namely, the inclusion of religious teaching in the education of those poor children who had hitherto been wholly neglected. In the London School Board, of which he was a member, every shade of opinion existing in the metropolis on that subject was represented by means of the cumulative vote, and he could claim for that Board, that notwithstanding all the differences of view and all the difficulties which undoubtedly presented themselves, it had been animated by one strong and earnest desire—namely, to bring home education to the children of that great city who needed it. Great as had been the difficulty of dealing with the religious question, it was altogether a mistake to assert that there was involved in the 25th clause of the Act any principle of the endowment of different religious sects. It was simply meant that the parent who was compelled to send his child to school should, be at liberty to choose the school to which he sent him; and if the House and the country desired to enforce attendance at school that right of choice must be conceded. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Resolution, (Mr. Dixon) and those who had supported him, desired to land the country in what was termed the secular sytem; but if that system was desired by the country, he ventured to ask them how it happened that there were practically speaking no secular schools in the country at present? If there had been any desire for schools in which purely secular instruction were given, there would have been a considerable number of such schools; but such was not the case. The secular schools, as such, did not exist; and in the London School Board there were very few members indeed who desired to exclude such a measure of religious teaching as that Board had now resolved to adopt in the schools which came under its control. The London Board held that such instruction from the Bible as was suitable to the capacity of children should be given, and was necessary to be given, as the basis of education in all such schools. He thought that only those persons who, without being absolute paupers, stood on the very narrow ground between pauperism and the capacity to pay their way, should upon proof of poverty have their children's school fees remitted or paid for them. If the circumstances of the people to be dealt with were carefully considered, he thought the number of those who were capable of doing without the profit of their children's labour, and of those who, being able to maintain their children and keep them at school, were still unable to pay their school fees, would be found on examination to be exceedingly small. The provisions of the clause might very well be carried out without causing pain to anyone; he did not believe the conscience of the Stockport ratepayer had suffered from it, and he hoped the conscience of the London ratepayer would be satisfied. The system, however, could not yet be judged; it had not yet passed beyond the experimental stage. One fact, however, was very instructive. Out of 15 schools which were placed under the Board before the end of last year, in consequence of the managers having found themselves unable to defray their cost and keep up their machinery, nine were ragged schools, where no fee of any kind was exacted. The impression had been that the ragged schools would be deserted on payment of fees being demanded, the moment they were placed under the Board; but the result had been, on the contrary, that they had been better attended than they had been while they were free schools. The fees were obtained without difficulty, no single case of remission having occurred, proving what had often been alleged, that the poor appreciated what they paid for more highly than what they received as a gift. The difficulty of the 25th clause disappeared immediately the Act was reduced to practice. He had that morning received a most satisfactory letter from the clerk to the Stockport Board, from which he found that out of 64 cases of payment by the board, 24 were the children of paupers, and that the payment had been made at the request of the relieving officer. As a member of the Church of England he knew nothing of the catechism to which reference had been made by the hon. Members for Merthyr, (Mr. Richard) and Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), and he objected as much as anyone to the illiberal sentiments it was represented to contain. As a humble member of the London School Board he desired to express his warmest acknowledgments to the Vice President of the Council for the manner in which he had carried out the Act of 1870, and for the firm stand he had taken upon the principles upon which that Act was based. An earnest desire prevailed among school boards to complete the work which had been so well begun; but if these minor difficulties were exaggerated there would be great danger of their seriously retarding the real work of education. Moreover, the honest labour of the last 18 months would be thrown away, and the Education Act would be absolutely fruitless. As regards compulsion, he desired to see it fully in operation, but it must be put in force cautiously, due regard being had to the circumstances of the parents and the occupations of the children. Otherwise the reaction in the minds of the parents, which he feared must in any case occur to some extent, sooner or later, would be precipitated. A similar result was to be feared if school boards were established and rates levied in places where they were not absolutely needed. In the interests of the children, therefore, he asked the House to support the Amendment of the Vice President of the Council, and allow time for the patient and conscientious completion of work which, though experimental, gave so much promise of good results.


The motive which has prompted the Resolutions of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) commends itself to all those who desire to see a system of national education supported by rates, and managed by ratepayers. In a few days the Government will ask you to give a second reading to a Bill which will carry out that principle for Scotland, and you cannot be surprised that many of us desire to see it adopted for England. In almost all Continental States elementary schools are provided, chiefly at the cost of local rates; for the Government contributions are insignificant in amount, and are devoted to the support of inspection and to the development of the elements into higher forms of instruction, suitable for the useful purposes of life. The day may come, but it is still distant, when England will thus apportion local and State duties in regard to the education of the people. But to expect that at present would be a political aspiration of a vain kind. Even to nationalize education, as my hon. Friend proposes to do, is hopeless at present, unless we are content to arrest the progress of education in England. Thirty years ago a strong Government might have done it, though Lord Melbourne's Administration nearly perished in the attempt. But, then, the public were so apathetic on the subject of education, the Church so hostile, the Nonconformists so unyielding, that the State drifted into the plan of aiding the schools of all denominations alike; for it was thus able to take advantage of the quick action of religious zeal to compensate for the public and political sluggishness which, then prevailed. And what was our position in 1870? We had recently entrusted the primary political power of the State to a large body of the people, many of whom we found to be deplorably ignorant, and it was absolutely necessary that we should extend education as rapidly and as effectively as possible. We took a survey of our position, and saw the whole country dotted over with schools, not one of which was national, and all of which had been raised and supported by large contributions from religious bodies, often with, often without the aid of the State. We could not in equity take them from the religious bodies, and if you left them out in the cold, in order to cover the ground with new national schools, you had to face the difficulty of having to provide 20,000 schools. But already the League has been complaining that, though the Education Department has been occupied for more than a year in forming local boards, and in surveying deficiencies, it could only point to a few rate-supported schools in action. The Rule of Three is not strictly applicable to this case, but it has its approximation. Now, if 12 months under a national system have only produced a few rate schools in action, how many months or years would it require for 20,000? If you had bought up the existing schools an expenditure of £10,000,000 might have sufficed; but would it have been possible to persuade this House to impose such an amount of taxation for one section of the kingdom, and for a purpose which did not commend itself to the universal feeling of the people? There is no one in this House—or, at least, there was none in 1870—who believes it to be possible to allow our population to grow up in intellectual and moral degradation, until such time as political parties have constructed an educational system, which shall be symmetrically national and unsectarian. We did what all business men would do under such circumstances. We found a business forced upon us, with a large stock-in-trade in hand, not exactly of the quality we would have selected, but substantially good; and so we made the best of it. We bore in mind the fact that, after all, schools are schools, and are not Churches, and we agreed that the State should join itself to the secular part of the school, separating itself from the religious instruction. What we did—and, as I contend, wisely did—was to follow the spirit of a recommendation given to us by an eminent Nonconformist divine, whose words with your permission I will read— And as there seems no reason why, because of these unresolved differences, a public measure for the health of all—for the recreation of all—for the advancement of all—should be held in abeyance, there seems as little reason why, because of these differences, a public measure for raising the intelligence of all should be held in abeyance. Let the men, therefore, of all Churches and all denominations alike hail such a measure, whether as carried into effect by a good education in letters, or in any of the sciences; and, meanwhile, in their very seminaries, let that education in religion which the Legislature abstains from providing for, be provided as freely and amply as they will by those who have undertaken the charge of them. These wise and liberal words of Dr. Chalmers, written shortly before his death, well represent the spirit in which this House legislated in 1870. There were then many, as there are now, "unresolved differences," both on this and on the opposite side of the House: but we postponed them in order to secure that which we thought to be of supreme importance—a speedy and effective education of the people. It is wrong to speak, as several hon. Members have done this evening, of our Act as a compromise. It was simply the best practical arrangement possible. Has it failed? On the contrary, it has marvellously succeeded. My right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council has already described the statistical results achieved, and in regard to these I will not again speak; but I ask you is it no sign of success that the attendance of children at schools has so largely augmented? Is it no sign of success that so many people of position, experience, and knowledge have come forward to give their time and labour on school boards without recompense of money or social distinction? Is it no sign of success that nearly five-sixths of burgh populations have been brought under the national operation of school boards? Is it no sign of success that the denominational part of the scheme has been stimulated into such increased activity? Nay, confess it frankly, it is this very denominational success which frightens you who support the Resolutions of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham. I am as anxious as you can be to have a national system; but I am not alarmed at this result, because I fully expected it. I never thought that 15,000 parishes and all our towns would be simultaneously galvanized into a national system. It was inevitable that the denominational section of our scheme should develop itself more quickly than the national section. Its ground was already prepared for the sowing of the seed; while the local boards had to break new ground and wait till it became mellow enough for the growth of crops. Hence it was impossible that the two systems should go on pari passû. There is a confusion of ideas about the action of the Education Department. By our Act, we enjoined it to promote secular instruction in schools through two agencies. Its duty is clear and explicit. It is to take care that children receive secular instruction; but it is no part of its duty to prevent them from receiving religious instruction. But that is what the controversy, in its whole breadth, is tending to impose upon it. The school provides two things, and we authorized the Education Department to buy one; but prohibited it from having any traffic with the other. But you do not like the association of secular and religious instruction in the same school. You are not content to go into a bookseller's shop to buy a copy of Tennyson's poems, but you must make it a condition that he shall not sell a Prayer Book to an- other customer who wants it. I contend that is a fair representation of your discontent with Government. There has been much refinement shown in the proof that part of the taxpayers' money thus goes to the support of religion in an indirect way. Well, I am not going to deny it. If I feed a sheep to get mutton for my dinner-table, I cannot help part of the grass going to the wool upon its back; but that is a contingency, inevitable, no doubt, but not in my contemplation, and altogether subordinate to my main purpose. I admit also that the position of the ratepayer is different from that of the taxpayer. For the 25th clause enables the ratepayer, if he or his elected representative be willing, to go in loco parentis and pay the fees of indigent children, or, in other words, to pay both for religious and secular instruction. I recollect well seeing the significance of that provision when the Bill was in Committee; but I supported it, because it was a permissive, not a compulsory power. Still, it is a power which may be abused in its refusal, and still more in its exercise. For, in the latter case, if exercised indiscriminately, it may lead to educational pauperism. When I hear of Manchester boasting that it has spent some hundreds of pounds under this clause, and of Stockport having spent about £4 or £5, I am inclined to rate the wisdom of Stockport as higher than that of Manchester. But experience will soon rectify such mistakes. The practice is, I see, stigmatized with the term "concurrent endowment," which seems to me to be as irritating to a Dissenter as a red flag is to a bull. I do not quite understand its application. Schools are not Churches, though they may sometimes be their nurseries. If the agitation had not assumed such proportions, I should have thought that the liberty of conscience given to a parent, either to select a school of his own denomination, or to withdraw his child from the religious instruction, would have compensated for any slight pressure on the conscience of the ratepayer—a pressure put upon him only at the desire of his own elected representatives. For the conscience of a ratepayer is a vague generality, difficult of comprehension, and only quickened into activity by political agitation. But the conscience of the parent, which the 25th clause tries to protect, is individual and natural, and is readily roused by any interference with parental responsibility. And here it is that the League, as I think, commits a grave error. A ratepayer is a citizen, but, if he has children, he is also a parent, and he cannot free himself from the latter responsibility. But the League, when they demand free schools because they are rate-supported; when they exalt the tenderness of the ratepayers' conscience; when they deny liberty to the indigent parent to select a school of which his conscience approves, commit the democratic error of looking to men and women as mere citizens, and of thus losing the inestimable advantage of parental and individual responsibility in the education of children. There is one part of the programme of the League which has loomed less largely in its late proceedings than on former occasions. I allude to compulsory education. This Resolution embraces it; but the speeches at its Conferences support it faintly. Why is this? They feel that they practically give up compulsion if they refuse the parents the right of choosing a school of their own denomination. They know perfectly well that no magistrate in this country would punish a man by fine and imprisonment because he pleaded a conscientious objection to the kind of religion, or to the want of religion, of a particular school. It would be quite otherwise, if the magistrate could point to a school of the parent's own denomination, and give him the option of sending his child to it. And this is nearly the universal experience of the operation of the compulsory law. The whole German Empire, with the exception of the Grand Duchy of Baden, effects its compulsion through denominational schools, or by the aid of separate denominational teaching. So does Republican Switzerland, and there the parson is generally the chairman of the school board. On the other hand, you have Holland, with excellent secular schools, not daring to pass a compulsory law; and so it is with the common school system of America, where the compulsory law remains almost a dead letter on the statute book. Then, if the League attach so much importance to compulsion, as they now ask us to believe they do by the terms of the Resolutions before us, do not let them force upon the country conditions which will render it wholly inoperative. I always like to know what is at the back of Resolutions which we are called upon to adopt. We are asked not to allow dogmatic religious instruction in schools under a school board; and I presume that means, when read by the light of a correspondence between the League and Earl Russell, that the Bible may be read in schools without note or comment. Now, if that be the unseen backing which props up these Resolutions, I, for my part, will become an out-and-out denominationalist rather than accept them. Your schools are for the purpose of culturing the intelligence and moral conscience of children, and of making them intelligent and upright men and women, and yet you are to use the greatest and the most sacred of all books with an utter absence of intelligence, and with no power of applying it to the improvement of the moral conscience. You degrade the Bible below the level of every other school book, because you refuse to allow it to have any connection between the teacher and the taught. You deny that, and I suppose, by your denial, mean that it has some inherent virtue which will act on the child's mind without the usual educational explanations; then, I say, you are treating it with a sort of fetish worship, and expect it to work as Pagans do, through the recital of incomprehensible charms. Will you raise the sanctity of that sacred book in the eyes of children, when they feel that it is the only book in the school regarding which their teacher could not, or dare not, give them explanations? Why, you will reduce our school Christianity to the lowest Mahometanism; for, instead of connecting Christian doctrines or Old Testament histories with the child's intelligence, you force him to rely on the superstitious faith of the Arab, when he accepts all things because "Allah is Allah." If this be the school system upon which the Act is to be remodelled, you throw some of us into the arms of the secularists, and others into those of the denominationalists. An excellent feature of this Act is, that it prescribes no educational systems. It allows national schools to compete with denominational schools, and I think that the former will in the end prevail. It allows each of us to try our own pet systems—the secular, the separate, the reading of the Bible without note or comment, the denominational. But let us establish our systems, not by isolated examples, but by large experience, before we upset an Act which is doing what we intended, by spreading education rapidly over the land. I have spoken chiefly of the old Birmingham platform of religious teaching, because I do not believe the Manchester Conference touched the hearts of the people when they pronounced for secular education. If I had ever doubts of their mistake, these would be removed by the growing convictions among Nonconformists, that they had thus alienated themselves from the working classes of the kingdom. I hold in my hand a copy of The English Independent of the 29th of February, and also of The Nonconformist, and I see this opinion very openly expressed at the half-yearly meeting of the Dissenting deputies over which my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. C. Reed) has the honour to preside. I observe on that occasion his vice chairman, Mr. Glover, expressed his regret that Nonconformists had not concentrated their efforts on disestablishment, for he had no doubt that on that subject the working classes would be with them, "but he was not at all sure they would go with them in their particular views as Dissenters, on the subject of education," and he regretted the probability of losing their votes at the next election. Then, again, Mr. Potter, another Dissenting deputy, told the meeting that the Nonconformists were committing the greatest blunder they had ever committed in public matters, and he hoped never to see the day when secular education was introduced into schools. I will not detain you by continuing the confessions of blunders which were made at the meeting of Dissenting deputies, and I refer to them merely for the purpose of showing that there is no unanimity on the subject of education even among the advanced Nonconformists of this country. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham will find he has committed a mistake, when he announced to us to-night that he has deserted the Birmingham for the Manchester programme, and in future will be a secularist; but there was, it is true, a very shadowy difference between them. We have had very tall talk out-of-doors as to the split of the Liberal party, and the determination of the people not to elect Liberals who decline to vote with the platforms of Birmingham and Manchester on this subject. Let two Liberals demand the suffrages of the people—the one an earnest educationalist, desiring, above all things, their advancement by means of the educational appliances within their reach, and the other subordinating that to some political aspiration of Churchism, on the one side, or disestablishment on the other—and see who the people will recognize as their true friend. They will not allow the ignorance of their children to be made the battle-ground of contending ecclesiastical factions. These are cries which may lose seats; but they are not those which will gain seats at coming elections, when the people understand that their education is to be postponed to sectarian differences. There is one common platform on which we can all take our stand, and that platform is this—there is a great and extended ignorance in the country, and we ought to postpone all political and religious difficulties until we can give the country the security and order which can alone arise from enlightenment in things spiritual and temporal. Do not let us pull this platform to pieces without building another, as my hon. Friend would by his Resolution, because we are unable to reconcile our difficulties.


said, he wished to present this question in a light somewhat different from that which had been presented to the House. He would describe the difference between certain persons who were known as Radicals in reference to this subject. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) avowed that he put the religious difficulty first, and the attendance of children at school second; but he (Mr. Fawcett), on the other hand, should put the religious difficulty infinitely lower in importance than the attendance of children at school. With much of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council he entirely agreed; and if the right hon. Gentleman had brought forward a Motion consistent with his speech, he would have given it his hearty support. But the right hon. Gentleman assumed that all who intended to vote against his Motion inquired what had been done by the Education Act, and were anxious to see it altogether repealed. The Motion which he could have supported would have been one which, while acknowledging the signal services which the Education Act had rendered to the country, admitted the necessity for further legislation, and pledged the Government to introduce a supplementary measure at the earliest possible time. He had no wish to revive the controversies of two years ago. He felt, no doubt, that many of them did several things in the course of the controversy which preceded the passing of the Act, which they had since regretted. It was certainly so with himself. He, in common with other hon. Members, attributed far too great importance on that occasion to a religious squabble, and did not direct their attention sufficiently to the security and independence of children at school. Some of the taunts which were directed against the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) were undoubtedly deserved; but the right hon. Gentleman could with equal truth retort upon them that in 1870 they did not tell the Government what it was they wanted, they had not the courage of their opinions, and refused to follow their convictions with logical consistency. They had not the courage to say that their principles led straight to secular education; but they resorted to the subterfuge—which he, for one, deeply regretted having sanctioned—of saying that the Bible should be read in schools without note or comment. He agreed with what had been said by the hon. Member who had just sat down—that no scoffer could have treated the Bible with greater disrespect than did those who said it should be read in schools, but should remain the one book which the instructors could not be allowed to explain. He lent his name to a programme containing this extraordinary proposal, and, having made a mistake, the best thing to be done was frankly to avow it. Strongly as he was in favour of secular education, he was so much more anxious to see the education of all the people secured that he would not oppose any measure which could with certainty attain this object, though it contained other provisions far more objectionable than the payment of fees in denominational schools. He did not wish to enter into the religious difficulty. Too much importance had been attributed to it; but he hoped the House would allow him to point out a far greater objection than the payment of fees to denominational schools, and that was the premium on free education which it offered. This was the great objection to the clause as it stood now. If that clause were permitted to stand, and if the central authority did not exercise upon it a greater controlling force, he believed it would produce one inevitable result, and that was to establish a system of general free education throughout this country. There was nothing he should more regret than such a result. In the first place, it would weaken parental responsibility, the most valuable of all social virtues; secondly, it would extend what had already produced sufficiently baneful effects—namely, the taxing of prudent individuals still more heavily than at present for the sake of the improvident; and, thirdly, it would encourage a tendency which the patriotism of Members on both sides of the House should lead them to resist—a tendency which was growing up at the present time—that people should make others pay for that which they ought to pay for themselves. This tendency he regarded as the prominent characteristic of modern Socialism. It should not be forgotten that free education was the first plank in the programme of the International, and throughout that programme they saw the same principle running. The State was to provide land for the people at a low price; the State was to provide houses for them at a cheap rate; the State was to lend capital to Co-operative Associations, and if this demand for free education were not resisted, encouragement would be given to Socialism in its most baneful form. This danger might come upon us at any time; for the events of last Session, and even a certain speech delivered by a Tory ex-Cabinet Minister in the autumn, showed that politicians who were striving for place and power would not object to make Socialistic bids for the support of the Democracy. The Vice President of the Council had asserted that we could not yet judge of the shortcomings of the Act. He, on the contrary, believed an opinion might be formed both as to its shortcomings and its excellences. The cumulative vote had secured the election, in important centres of the population, of many sincere friends of education, and in the course of a few months the Act would have established throughout the country a supply of efficient schools. While acknowledging, however, that these desirable results had been produced by the Act, he maintained that unless it was supplemented by new legislation it would be absolutely impossible to secure the education of children in the rural districts. If the Act were to continue in operation for ten years, he confidently asserted that it would scarcely produce a ripple on the surface of the profound depths of ignorance in the country districts. The conclusion forced on the minds of those who had studied the agricultural districts was, that the ignorance prevailing there was almost entirely due to the want of power to compel the attendance of children in the schools. He admitted that we owed a heavy debt of gratitude to the clergy of the Church of England, who had, undoubtedly, supplied the country districts with schools. It was impossible to praise too highly, not only their personal labours, but also the personal sacrifices they had made in the cause. He knew country clergymen who, out of very small incomes, had often subscribed to schools amounts representing an income tax of 10, or even, in some cases, 15 per cent. Yet this energy only increased the extraordinary dilemma in which they found themselves under the Act; because the very districts in which most had been done in the way of providing school accommodation were precisely those in which it was utterly hopeless to expect to secure the attendance of the children at school. During the greater part of his life he had resided in Wiltshire, where the clergy were pre-eminently distinguished for their educational zeal; but, in spite of this, the county ranked among the lowest in regard to its educational condition. The Bishop of Salisbury had lately said that in his diocese, which comprised all Dorsetshire and nearly the whole of Wiltshire, there had only been one school board established, and that was in his cathedral city. Consequently, it was impossible to secure a larger attendance of children at school in the rural parishes of the diocese; because, in the absence of school boards, no bylaws could be passed to render attendance compulsory. There was, therefore, sufficient evidence already, not to condemn the Education Act, but to show that it required amendment. He would mention one fact in illustration of the anomalies associated with that measure, A county gentleman in Wiltshire had devoted himself during the last 20 years, with the assistance of his family, to promote education in the village in which he resided, and in which he had established one of the best schools in the kingdom. This gentleman found, however, that he could do scarcely anything for the education of the parishioners unless he had some power to secure children being sent to school at seven or eight years of age. He said—"The only chance of my obtaining this power is to withdraw my subscription from the school, as such a step on my part might lead to the establishment of a school board which might pass by-laws to secure the attendance of the children." In conclusion, the hon. Member warned his friends not to devote too much of their attention to this 25th clause. He objected to it in its social and economic aspects; but he felt that the House had a work of infinitely greater importance to undertake. The Vice President of the Council had admitted that night that we must soon come to a system of general compulsion. He knew far better than he (Mr. Fawcett) could tell him that that would be one of the most difficult problems that statesmanship had to solve. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER: Hear, hear!] The right hon. Gentleman would need to call to his aid the united sagacity and the collective wisdom of the House of Commons to enable him to solve it satisfactorily and successfully. Under these circumstances, he hoped they would all join cordially in working with one common object. Although he held as extreme opinions as most Members on the subject of religious equality, still he felt that the question of securing education for the whole nation was one of such infinitely greater importance than the mere assertion of the abstract principle of religious equality, that he would earnestly appeal to all sections of the House to set to work cordially to solve the great problem of general compulsion, and not let their attention be distracted and their influence weakened by endeavours to gain a miserable sectarian triumph.


* If the discussion in which we have been engaged concerned England alone, I, for one, should not have trespassed upon the attention of the House; but as the Resolutions appear to embody the latest, and probably the ultimate declarations of a large section of the Nonconformists as to the principles which they consider should regulate State Education in all parts of the kingdom, and if they had the power, no doubt in the colonies also, I feel that entire silence would not be pardonable in Members from the other side of the Channel. The Nonconformists are so important a body in the country, and especially they are so important a portion of the Liberal party, that it becomes extremely alarming to find, if we may judge from their declarations respecting Ireland, that they are ready to encounter revolution, and to cut loose all the ties which bind parties together, rather than violate what, with a strange perversion of language, they are pleased to call "the rights of conscience." Sir, upon our wisdom now unquestionably depends our hopes of tranquillity in the future. No representative of Ireland—at least, on this side of the House—will, I am persuaded, be found to speak with sentiments other than those of profound respect and gratitude of the Dissenters of England. It is to their energy and love of justice that Ireland is, in a large measure, indebted for the remedial legislation of the last three years. But what must be our consternation when we find these men now saying to us in accents not to be mistaken—"thus far and no further shalt thou go;" when we find that the point to which they would permit, or even aid us, to advance, is still far distant from the goal to which the consciences of a whole people impel them. The result can only be a disastrous collision, in which complete victory is impossible for them, and partial victory means only the substitution of hatred and contempt for all those kindly feelings which now prevail. If the Nonconformists will not recognize the truth that this is a composite Empire; that we owe our strength in a great degree to the variety of elements of which we are composed—if they close their eyes to the fact that we include different and contradictory nations—having different religions, and different modes of thought—equally earnest—equally seekers after truth, and, above all, equally determined to win Heaven in our own way; then, indeed, the termination can only be disastrous. But surely, Sir, before we yield without a struggle, we are entitled to examine a little carefully the pretensions of a body which in such determined—not to say such arrogant—tones, announces its resolve to guide the educational barque, not only in English but also in Irish and Scotch waters, and to recognize no pilot who does not sail with a Nonconformist certificate. Why, Sir, do we not know that the original position they assumed was this—that the State had nothing whatever to do with education—and taking this declaration to their hearts, they founded that great array of schools, and especially of Sunday schools, in which the Bible and hymn-book served at once for secular and for religious education? Experience has taught them, as it has taught others also, that the private efforts of individuals or of associations are powerless to stem the seething tide of ignorance and crime which threatens to swallow up the State; and no longer fearing the weakened power of the Church of England, they gave in to the idea that, after all, one of the highest and holiest duties of a Government is to provide the elements of knowledge for the young. At this time, too, they believed that religion and secular education must go hand-in-hand—and see how in the National Schools of the North of Ireland the Presbyterians gradually converted the undenominational system into a system for teaching their own religious views. All this was the result of religious fervour, such as has hitherto guided the Nonconformists everywhere; but finding that there is religious zeal in other people also, they turn round and actually propose to divorce religion and education, and to begin and end the school-day without one word of recognition of the very existence of a God. Shade of the Puritans! could you recognize in the Secularists of to-day, in the allies of the indifferent, the scornful, and the avowed Atheist, the descendants of these who fought their battles with a sword in one hand and a Bible in the other! But, Sir, the Roman poet has told us—"Nemo repente fuit turpessimus," and so we find the League of Birmingham for a long time labouring to establish that the Bible should be daily read, and explained?—no, not explained—be read without note or comment in the schools, producing this gratifying result, that if an inquiring scholar asks on a Monday morning what is the meaning of these words, "the Son of God," he is to be told to restrain his curiosity until after the lapse of seven days he may obtain an answer at the Sunday school if he choses to attend it; for, bear in mind, you do not propose to compel children to go to Sunday schools, where they may learn something about religion. It requires no soothsayer to foretel that such a proposal as this could never work in practice, for a Bible education—and they do not tell us whether it is to be the Douai Bible or the Protestant Bible—can never be, and ought never to be, anything else than a strictly denominational education. If the Bible is to be read for moral and not for religious teaching, you may just as well substitute lessons from Epictetus, or the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Mr. Speaker, from all these throes of the Nonconformists struggling between their love of their own religious system and their dislike of any other, I do not wish to draw any scoffing deduction as to their sincerity. To my mind it rather suggests that after all we Episcopalians, Nonconformists, Roman Catholics, are nearer to an agreement than perhaps we suspect. Setting aside a small, and except amongst what are called the philosophical classes—not a very influential body of pure Secularists—I believe that the great mass of the people of England, Ireland, and Scotland are as one in their persuasion that the foundation of all education must be laid in religious truth; and if we can only agree that no one body has the monopoly of religion in such a sense as that it has the right to impose its belief on the rest of the community, we may speedily come to an agreement—I say we may speedily come to an agreement; but it can only be based on a real and not on a sham system of religious equality. A true system requires that the State shall confine its superintendence to the secular part of teaching, and taking care that payment is made only for secular results, shall leave the religious question entirely free to those who successfully train the young in secular learning. A noble Lord, one of the greatest Protestant philanthropists of the age, and one who certainly has no tenderness for the Roman Catholic faith—I mean Lord Shaftesbury—said, in his speech at St. James's Hall the other day, that the Catholic religion was the alpha and omega of their existence, and they would shrink with horror from any system in which their religion was not the prime consideration. This is an incontrovertible truth; but I am sure that there is lamentable ignorance in this country as to what are the demands of the Catholic body. We have found them in England freely elected on the school boards, and cheerfully and heartily co-operating with their colleagues in doing the work of education. In Ireland there are no school boards, and, as far as I know, there is no intention to institute them; but if there were, few persons can doubt that in the South and West even the minority clause would fail to secure a representation of Protestantism upon them. Still, all that the Catholics say to you is this—"You propose to pay for the secular instruction of all classes of the community who are unable to pay for themselves; pay, then, for that instruction as in justice you are bound to do, whether religion be taught in the school or not." Pass, however, the Resolutions of the hon. Member for Birmingham, and you at once close the door upon all hope of reconciliation. Shocking, indeed, it is to think that there are some who profess themselves quite prepared for this, and ready to abide the consequences. Hating the Roman Catholic religion, and believing the faith that sustains millions upon millions of Christians in their passage through life, is a direct emanation from the Spirit of Darkness, they will not even condescend to give a reason for their course—their answer is a simple non possumus. I was speaking the other day to an eminent Nonconformist, who said to me—"You shall never have denominational education in Ireland." "Why not?" I asked. "Because the Dissenters will never allow it." "But," said I, "don't you think the Roman Catholic Irishmen have as good a right to educate their children according to their conscience as you have?—don't you think it very unreasonable of Dissenters?" "Yes," he said, "that is very well; but Nonconformists are unreasonable; they always were unreasonable, and I hope they always will be unreasonable." Sir, I recommend to this House a wiser and nobler policy—a policy having its root in that religion we all profess to love—the policy of doing to others that which we would have them do unto us. By your unseemly bickerings, by your egotism and self-assertion, you may succeed in casting doubts into the popular mind of the value of any religion—you may loosen still more the ties that keep this Empire together—you may destroy man's instinctive reverence for religious truth in whatever form it may present itself, and you may prepare these islands for a war of peoples, that, after vast suffering, may result in the temporary re-establishment of religious ascendancy in its most odious form; but, at the same time, you will be preparing for your own old age the bitter memory of wasted opportunities, and of passions inflamed by the narrowest bigotry. Pursue, however, the opposite course, as I am persuaded in the long run the British nation will pursue it—do practical homage to the real principle of religious equality—by leaving every subject in the Empire, and every community in the land to train up their own children in secular knowledge according to the national standard of efficiency and in religious knowledge according to their consciences, and you will go far to realize even in our own day the splendid vision of the poet— Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant nation rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks! Methinks I see her as an eagle mewing her mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full mid-day beam.


said, the subject was one in which he took a great interest, and although he was about to support the Government—which he seldom did—there was one point in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council on which he differed from him. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that after having cajoled them into subscribing for the building of schools, in about two years' time he would bring in a measure for the establishment of school boards generally. He was astonished to find that the Nonconformists, who professed to desire the religious welfare of the country, should at this early stage of the education scheme come forward and oppose it. He believed they were men who did not desire the real welfare of the State. He had heard that this question was to dissolve the Liberal party. He thought the sooner it was dissolved the better. The Members below the gangway only kept the present Government on by permission. When they on the Opposition side of the House supported the Government they were called an ignorant and stupid lot, opposed to all progress. The fact was that hon. Members below the gangway wanted to govern the country. To that he should say nay, and give the Government his support. If the right hon. Gentleman should carry out his project for the establishment of school boards generally, he should consider the right hon. Gentleman had been obtaining money under false pretences. With respect to the Resolutions of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon), he regarded the extreme party as nothing better than secularists, infidels, and atheists.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 94; Noes 355: Majority 261.

Adair, H. E. Goldsmid, J.
Anderson, G. Gourley, E. T.
Armitstead, G. Hadfield, G.
Baker, R. B. W. Harcourt, W. G. G. V. V.
Beaumont, Capt. F. Harris, J. D.
Beaumont, H. F. Haviland-Burke, E.
Beaumont, W. B. Herbert, hon. A. E. W.
Bentall, E. H. Hoare, Sir H. A.
Bowmont, Marquess of Holland, S.
Brewer, Dr. Horsman, rt. hon. E.
Bright, J. (Manchester) Howard, J.
Brinckman, Captain Illingworth, A.
Brocklehurst, W. C. Kensington, Lord
Brogden, A. Lawrence, Sir J. C.
Brown, A. H. Lawson, Sir W.
Buckley, N. Leeman, G.
Candlish, J. Lewis, J. D.
Carnegie, hon. C. Lush, Dr.
Carter, R. M. Lusk, A.
Cholmeley, Captain Macfie, R. A.
Clay, J. M'Arthur, W.
Clifford, C. C. M'Laren, D.
Colman, J. J. Melly, G.
Cowen, J. Miall, E.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Milbank, F. A.
Dalglish, R. Miller, J.
Dalrymple, D. Morgan, G. Osborne
Davies, R. Morrison, W.
Dickinson, S. S. Muntz, P. H.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Norwood, C. M.
Dillwyn, L. L. Palmer, J. H.
Ewing, H. E. Crum- Parry, L. Jones-
Fawcett, H. Plimsoll, S.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Potter, E.
Fordyce, W. D. Potter, T. B.
Forster, C. Price, W. E
Fothergill, R. Richards, E. M.
Goldsmid, Sir F. Russell, H.
Sartoris, E. J. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Shaw, R. Vivian, H. H.
Sheridan, H. B. Wedderburn, Sir D.
Sherriff, A. C. White, J.
Simon, Mr. Serjeant Williams, W.
Stapleton, J. Wingfield, Sir C.
Stepney, Sir J. Young, A. W.
Stuart, Colonel
Tollemache, hon. F. J. TELLERS.
Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury- Dixon, G.
Richard, H.
Trevelyan, G. O.
Acland, Sir T. D. Cardwell, rt. hon. E.
Adderley, rt. hn. Sir C. Carington, hn. Capt. W.
Akroyd, E. Cartwright, F.
Amcotts, Colonel W. C. Cartwright, W. C.
Amory, J. H. Cavendish, Lord F. C.
Amphlett, R. P. Cavendish, Lord G.
Annesley, hon. Col. H. Cawley, C. E.
Anson, hon. A. H. A. Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.
Anstruther, Sir R. Chambers, T.
Arbuthnot, Major G. Child, Sir S.
Arkwright, A. P. Childers, rt. hn. H. C. E.
Arkwright, R. Cholmeley, Sir M.
Assheton, R. Clive, Col. hon. G. W.
Ayrton, rt. hon. A. S. Cochrane, A. D. W. R. B.
Backhouse, E. Cole, Col. hon. H. A.
Baggallay, Sir R. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Coleridge, Sir J. D.
Barclay, A. C. Collins, T.
Barnett, H. Corbett, Colonel
Barrington, Viscount Corrance, F. S.
Barrow, W. H. Corrigan, Sir D.
Barttelot, Colonel Corry, rt. hon. H. T. L.
Bates, E. Cowper, hon. H. F.
Bateson, Sir T. Cowper-Temple, right hon. W.
Bathurst, A. A.
Baxter, W. E. Crawford, R. W.
Bazley, Sir T. Crichton, Viscount
Beach, Sir M. Hicks- Croft, Sir H. G. D.
Beach, W. W. B. Cross, R. A.
Beaumont, S. A. Cubitt, G.
Bentinck, G. C. Dalrymple, C.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Damer, Capt. Dawson-
Benyon, R. Davenport, W. B.
Beresford, Lt.-Col. M. Denison, C. B.
Biddulph, M. Dent, J. D.
Bingham, Lord Digby, K. T.
Birley, H. Dimsdale, R.
Blennerhassett, Sir R. Disraeli, rt. hon. B.
Bolckow, H. W. F. Dodds, J.
Bonham-Carter, J. Dodson, J. G.
Bourne, Colonel Dowdeswell, W. E.
Bowring, E. A. Downing, M'C.
Brand, H. R. Dowse, rt. hon. R.
Brassey, H. A. Duff, M. E. G.
Bright, R. Duff, R. W.
Brise, Colonel R. Duncombe, hon. Col.
Broadley, W. H. H. Du Pre, C. G.
Browne, G. E. Dyke, W. H.
Bruce, Lord C. Dyott, Colonel R.
Bruce, rt. hon. H. A. Eaton, H. W.
Buller, Sir E. M. Edwards, H.
Burrell, Sir P. Egerton, hon. A. F.
Bury, Viscount Egerton, Capt. hon. F.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Egerton, Sir P. G.
Cadogan, hon. F. W. Egerton, hon. W.
Cameron, D. Elcho, Lord
Campbell, H. Elliott, G.
Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H. Holms, J.
Enfield, Viscount Holmesdale, Viscount
Ennis, J. J. Holt, J. M.
Erskine, Admiral J. E. Hope, A. J. B. B.
Ewing, A. Orr- Hornby, E. K.
Fellowes, E. Hoskyns, C. Wren-
Fielden, J. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Figgins, J. Hughes, T.
Finch, G. H. Hughes, W. B.
FitzGerald, right hon. Lord O. A. Hunt, rt. hon. G. W.
Hurst, R. H.
Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W. Hutt, rt. hon. Sir W.
Fletcher, I. Hutton, J.
Floyer, J. Jackson, R. W.
Foljambe, F. J. S. Jardine, R.
Forester, rt. hon. Gen. Jessel, Sir G.
Forster, rt. hon. W. E. Johnstone, Sir H.
Fortescue, rt. hon. C. P. Jones, J.
Foster, W. H. Kavanagh, A. Mac M.
Fowler, R. N. Kay-Shuttleworth, U. J.
Fowler, W. Kekewich, S. T.
Galway, Viscount Kennaway, J. H.
Gavin, Major Kingscote, Colonel
Gilpin, Colonel Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Knatchbull-Hugessen, E. H.
Gladstone, W. H.
Goldney, G. Knightley, Sir R.
Gooch, Sir D. Lacon, Sir E. H. K
Gordon, E. S. Laird, J.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. Lancaster, J.
Graham, W. Langton, W. G.
Graves, S. R. Laslett, W.
Gray, Lieut.-Colonel Learmonth, A.
Greaves, E. Lefevre, G. J. S.
Greene, E. Legh, W. J.
Gregory, G. B. Lennox, Lord G. G.
Greville-Nugent, hon. G. F. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Leslie, J.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Liddell, hon. H. G.
Grieve, J. J. Lindsay, Colonel R. L.
Grosvenor, hon. N. Locke, J.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Lopes, H. C.
Grove, T. F. Lopes, Sir M.
Hambro, C. Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Hamilton, Lord C. Lowther, J.
Hamilton, Lord C. J. Lyttelton, hon. C. G.
Hamilton, Lord G. Magniac, C.
Hamilton, Marquess of Maguire, J. F.
Hamilton, I. T. Mahon, Viscount
Hamilton, J. G. C. Maitland. Sir A. C. R. G.
Hanmer, Sir J. Malcolm, J. W.
Hardcastle, J. A. Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.
Hardy, rt. hon. G. Manners, Lord G. J.
Hardy, J. March, Earl of
Hardy, J. S. Marling, S. S.
Hay, Sir J. C. D. Matthews, H.
Headlam, rt. hon. T. E. Maxwell, W. H.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Mellor, T. W.
Henley, Lord Merry, J.
Henry, M. Meyrick, T.
Herbert, rt. hon. Gen. Sir P. Milles, hon. G. W.
Mills, C. H.
Hermon, E. Mitford, W. T.
Heygate, W. U. Monckton, F.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Monckton, hon. G.
Hill, A. S. Monk, C. J.
Hoare, P. M. Monsell, rt. hon. W.
Hodgkinson, G. Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R.
Hodgson, K. D. Montgomery, Sir G. G.
Hodgson, W. N. Morgan, C. O.
Hogg, J. M. Morgan, hon. Major
Holford, J. P. G. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Neville-Grenville, R. Scourfield, J. H.
Newdegate, C. N. Seely, C. (Nottingham)
Newport, Viscount Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Newry, Viscount
Nicholson, W. Sherlock, D.
Noel, hon. G. J. Simonds, W. B.
Nolan, J. P. Smith, A.
North, Colonel Smith, F. C.
Northcote, rt. hn. Sir S.H. Smith, R.
O'Conor Don, The Smith, S. G.
O'Donoghue, The Smith, W. H.
Ogilvy, Sir J. Smyth, P. J.
O'Reilly-Dease, M. Somerset, Lord H. R. C.
O'Reilly, M. W. Stanley, hon. F.
Osborne, R. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Paget, R. H. Starkie, J. P. C.
Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J. Steere, L.
Palk, Sir L. Stone, W. H.
Palmer, Sir R. Storks, rt. hn. Sir H. K.
Parker, C. S. Straight, D.
Parker, Lt.-Colonel W. Strutt, hon. H.
Patten, rt. hon. Col. W. Sturt, H. G.
Pease, J. W. Sturt, Lt.-Col. N.
Peek, H. W. Sykes, C.
Peel, A. W. Synan, E. J.
Peel, J. Talbot, J. G.
Pelham, Lord Taylor, rt. hon. Col.
Pell, A. Tollemache, Major W. F.
Pemberton, E. L. Torrens, R. R.
Pender, J. Trelawny, Sir J. S.
Phipps, C. P. Turner, C.
Pim, J. Turner, E.
Playfair, L. Walker, Major G. G.
Powell, F. S. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Powell, W. Walsh, hon. A.
Power, J. T. Walter, J.
Raikes, H. C. Waterhouse, S.
Rathbone, W. Watney, J.
Read, C. S. Welby, W. E.
Ridley, M. W. Wells, W.
Robertson, D. Wethered, T. O.
Rothschild, Brn. M. A. de Wharton, J. L.
Rothschild, N. M. de Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
Round, J. Whitbread, S.
Royston, Viscount Williamson, Sir H.
Russell, A. Winn, R.
Sackville, S. G. Stopford- Woods, H.
St. Aubyn, J. Wynn, C. W. W.
Salt, T. Young, G.
Samuda, J. D'A.
Samuelson, B. TELLERS.
Saunderson, E. Glyn, hon. G. G.
Sclater-Booth, G. Adam, W. P.
Scott, Lord H. J. M. D.

Question put, "That the words 'The time which has elapsed since the passing of the Elementary Education Act of 1870, and the progress which has been made in the arrangements under it, are not such as to enable this House to enter with advantage upon a review of its provisions,' be added, instead thereof."

The House divided:—Ayes 323; Noes 98: Majority 225.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That, in the opinion of this House, the time which has elapsed since the passing of the Elementary Education Act of 1870, and the progress which has been made in the arrangements under it, are not such as to enable this House to enter with advantage upon a review of its provisions.