§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. William Edward Forster.)
§ MR. DILLWYN,
in moving, as an Amendment, That the Bill be read a second time that day three months, said, that for very many years the endowed schools of the country, which were very numerous, had, in consequence of what he contended was a false construction of the law, been to a great extent monopolized by the Church of England. The Courts had decided that vague and general words, such as that trustees or managers of schools should be honest men, or that the children should be taught godly learning, meant that the trustees should be members of the Church of England, and that the children should receive their education in conformity with the doctrines of that Church. No doubt, many of them were expressly founded for the purpose of bringing up and educating the scholars in the doctrines of the Church, in addition to the classical and secular education given. He himself brought in a Bill the object of which was to endeavour to break down the objectionable state of the law relating to those endowed schools, for the reason that the system of management of those schools gave great offence to Dissenters and the country at large; and it was not only the intolerant course of conduct 719 pursued by the Church of England trustees, but the way in which those schools were mismanaged by the party that was objectionable, and those two clauses led to an alteration of the Act, and to the passing of the Act of 1869. That Act had met with such general approval that had the present measure been a mere Continuance Bill it would have received his cordial support; but he objected to several of its provisions, especially the 5th clause. In placing the schools under the Commissioners the House had determined that they should be governed by a body responsible to Parliament and the country. Sectarian teaching and sectarian teachers therefore ought to be excluded, in accordance with the principle thus established; and, in fact, he did not see any reason why any good practical working man should not be on the trusts. He altogether objected to officials of the Church of England being trustees by virtue of their office. They might be altogether unfitted for such a position—indolent, quarrelsome, or litigious—and yet they could not be removed. Worse still, they might in the present exceptional position of the Church be opposed in doctrine and practice to a great body of their parishioners, and yet they must remain ex officio trustees. That provision was the more unjust when it was considered that members of other religious bodies were practically excluded from acting in the trusts; and if ever they did get upon them, might be easily removed, if incompetent. He did not thus speak of the objection reasonably urged by Dissenters where they were in a majority, as they were in Wales, but of that of Churchmen themselves. Very recently the Archbishops of the Church had stated that a very large section of the clergy of the Church of England was making innovations and using practices which they characterized as being highly dangerous to the interests of the Church, but under the Bill those men, by virtue of their position, would be and remain trustees of the schools. He also altogether objected to the exclusion, by the 6th clause, of some of the schools from the operation and, consequently, from the benefits of the Act, and could not see on what principles such a provision had been adopted. The recommendation of the Select Committee did not at all justify such an alteration in the law, and 720 for his part, he would rather see the Bill lost than that such a provision should be sanctioned by the House. It would upset a principle which they had fought hard to establish, and he could not be a party to any retrograde movement on the subject, and for that reason he felt bound to move the rejection of the Bill.
MR. LEATIUM *
Mr. Speaker, in rising, Sir, to second the Motion of my hon. Friend, I think it fortunate that he placed this Notice upon the Paper, because it would have been highly inconvenient if a measure of this importance had passed through the principal stage without debate. My hon. Friend has stated his objections to the Bill, and, at this hour, I do not propose to follow him over the same ground. But the Bill is objectionable not only on account of what it contains, but on account of what it does not contain. I object to it because it makes no provision whatever for the regulation of the constitution of the Governing Bodies. Now, when my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council was moving the second reading of the Endowed Schools Bill, in 1869, he made use of words which it is scarcely an exaggeration to say were calculated to raise the hopes of half the nation. He reminded us that new ideas have power to-day, as in the time when England was waking up to take the foremost place in the march of Christian civilization.This new central idea," he said, "bringing with it many others—that no special class is to guide the destinies of England." "That England, for the future, is to be self-governed; all her citizens taking their share, not 1,v class distinction, but by social worth."—[3 Hansard, cxciv. 1382.]And, in taking his stand upon those principles, my right hon. Friend was simply enforcing the spirit of that document which he held in his hand—for every word of which he considered himself responsible, and upon which, by the terms of the Preamble, his Bill was based—the unanimous Report of the Schools Inquiry Commission. Let hon. Gentlemen turn to the Report, and see how from one end to the other, it is pervaded by those new and generous ideas to which my right hon. Friend appealed.No skill in organization," say the Commissioners, (p. 640) "no careful adaptation of the means in hand to the best ends, can do as much 721 for education as the earnest co-operation of the people. The American schools appear to have no great excellence of method, nor a very well selected system of studies, nor any thorough inspection, nor any skilful gradation of the schools in relation to each other. But the schools are in the hands of the people, and from this fact they derive a force which seems to make up for all their deficiencies. The Scotch schools owe their success, in a great measure, to the same cause. And in Zurich the schools are absolutely in the hands of the people, and the complete success of the system must be largely ascribed to this cause. It is impossible to doubt that, in England also, superior management, if it were backed up by very hearty sympathy from the mass of the people, would often succeed better than much greater skill without such support.And, as though they thought that they had not laid sufficient stress upon this principle in the course of their recommendations, they return to it, evidently with the view of giving to it the utmost emphasis at the close.But the real force," say they, "by which the work is to be done must come from the people, and every arrangement which fosters the interest of the people in the schools, which teaches the people to look on the schools as their own, which encourages them to take a share in the management, will do at least as much service as the wisest advice and the most skilful administration.It was from a profound conviction of the truth of these principles that the Commission desired to liberalize to the utmost the constitution of the provincial Boards, to which they proposed to entrust the duty of preparing schemes for the management of all the schools in their districts; and it was in the same spirit of fairness to all, and with the same determination of securing the cooperation of all, that they proceeded to lay down the rules by which, in their opinion, the constitution of Boards of Governors should be determined.It seems to us," they say, "that in a good school trust three elements should, if possible, be combined—the representation of the interests of the parents, of the interests of education, and of the past management of the school. The parents are most concerned in the welfare of the school, and in the success of all the arrangements: and, besides this, their lively interest is of great value, and ought to be encouraged in every way. But whilst they are the most deeply interested, and it is best that they should be encouraged to feel that interest, they are not always the best informed, and there should be some trustees appointed on the ground of their larger knowledge to represent education generally. Lastly, it is not good that the management of a school should be liable to sudden and great changes. There should be a continuity in its life, and this should be secured by admitting the method of co-öptation, but only to a limited 722 extent." And in the next paragraph they add, "No trustees should be appointed for a longer period than five years.I am aware that when the Government came to deal with the whole question by legislation they abandoned the provincial Boards altogether, and conferred upon others the powers which the Schools Inquiry Commission recommended should have been vested in them, thus sacrificing the first great guarantee for liberality in the schemes themselves; but, surely, they did not mean to sacrifice the free principles upon which that proposal was founded, surely they did not mean to abandon the idea that the real force by which the work of education was to be done must come from the people. On the contrary, it was with the view of giving free scope to those principles, and teaching the people, in the words of the Commission, to look upon the schools as their own, that this Act was framed. For what was its great leading reforming clause? Was it not this—(Clause 17) that in every scheme relating to any educational endowment, the Commissioners shall provide that the religious opinions of any person, or his attendance or non-attendance at any particular form of religious worship shall not in any way affect his qualification for being one of the governing body of such endowment.This clause is the keystone of the whole arch. It enunciates a principle which, until this Act was passed, the Law Courts refused to recognize. The decisions of the Court of Chancery were all the other way. They absolutely excluded the whole population which did not belong to one particular creed from the management of public schools. This Act reversed that policy. It declared that henceforth there should be absolutely fair play for all, and favour for none. And if it can be shown that Governing Bodies, under this Act, are so constructed that they must bear a distinctly party complexion, or if they are so constructed as to give to one denomination an overwhelming preponderance of representation; still more, if they are so constructed as to render that party complexion and that denominational preponderance perpetual, one great object of the Act is defeated—one great principle of the Act violated, and that new central idea of my right hon. Friend ignored, upon which, unless he meant his peroration to be a masterpiece of 723 rhetorical flummery, his whole system of secondary education was to be based. No one knows better than my right hon. Friend the circumstances under which it was proposed to win back for these schools the confidence and co-operation of the entire community. Owing to a long train of events which the Founders could never have contemplated, a large portion of the population had become as completely estranged from these schools as if they spoke another language or belonged to another race. That was no fault of theirs. No one who believes in the principle of religious freedom, and who recalls the history of legislation in relation to Dissent, will dare to say so. "It is the pride and glory of these schools," says my right hon. Friend, "that they are public;" but the word is a misnomer, if it does not mean that the public, whatever may be their religious persuasion, are equally welcome and equally to be considered, and unless you can get over the jealousy and distrust with which Nonconformists have been too surely taught by the past to regard them as places of education for Nonconformist children. Let us see, then, how far the constitution of the new Governing, Bodies is such as to remove this jealousy and distrust, how far it is such as to inspire a public belief in the absolute impartiality of the management in matters relating to religion. Sir, one of the witnesses examined by the Committee (Mr. Schnadhorst) had taken infinite pains to procure an exact analysis of the co-optative element in every published scheme. Eliminating all schemes in which the Governing Body was not dealt with, or under Section 19, or in which the Governing Body was elected directly the old trustees, he was able to obtain particulars of 85. He laid the results of his investigation before the Committee in a tabular form, and with a minuteness of detail which challenged, in every case, the most complete verification upon the spot. He found that out of 433 co-optative Governors 137 belonged to the party which sits on this side of the House, and 296 to that which sits upon the other, and that of these 433 co-optatives, 392 were Churchmen and 41 Dissenters. He found, further, that 81 clergymen had been appointed against 5 Dissenting ministers, that in 50 out of the 85 schemes, not a single Nonconformist was ap- 724 ointed a co-optative Governor, and that those 50 schemes embraced Wolverhampton, Halifax, Wigan, Walsall, Stafford, and Stourbridge, towns in which it is notorious to every one that Nonconformists of influence abound. Again, as regards the proportion which the co-optative element bears to the ex officio or representative elements in these schemes, this witness found that, according to the published official Return made by the Commissioners to the Committee (marked No. 1 in the Appendix), in 28 schemes the co-optatives are permanently a majority of the whole, and in 85 they permanently exceed one-third. But if we analyze the schemes as they stand at present, and will for several years to come, this proportion will be largely exceeded, and this, notwithstanding the warning recommendation of the Schools Inquiry Commission, that the co-optative principle should be adopted only to a limited extent. But, Sir, this is not all. The other two elements, the ex officio and the representative, have been so handled by the Commissioners as to reflect the complexion of the co-optative element. Take, for example, the attempt of the Commissioners to make ecclesiastics ex officio members of these Governing Bodies, in the very teeth of the statute under which they sat, and of the indignant remonstrances of Dissenters. Sir, we had hoped that that question had been authoritatively sot at rest, but, to our dismay, we find that my right hon. Friend has abandoned the position which he had taken up, and proposes, under this Bill, to make that lawful which the Act of 1869 disallowed. But even the representative element would seem to be insecure, for it was stated by one of the witnesses that—In very many instances every possible existing organized body has been used in order to vest the appointment of representative Governors in it, rather than let them be appointed strictly by the people. Many Governors are elected by Members of Parliament for the county, by Bishops, by the vicar and churchwardens, by deans and chapters, by Boards of Guardians, by-local Boards, and even by burial Boards.Now, Sir, do not let it be said that in making these remarks I am taking sectarian ground. I am doing nothing of the kind; I ant taking public ground. For, Sir, I contend that it is a preposterous thing, when we are dealing with schools which are not denominational, but public in the widest sense of the 725 term, that every denomination but one should be heavily handicapped in the legitimate competition for representation by the nomination of nine-tenths of the co-optative element from the Church, by the extension of the co-optative element so constituted to the utmost possible limit, by the introduction of clerical ex officio Governors, and by the substitution, wherever possible, of some more or less exclusive body for the popular constituency, even when you are pretending to represent the popular choice. Sir, I maintain that all that is at variance with the recommendations of the Schools Inquiry Commission, with the speech of my right hon. Friend, and with the spirit of the Act itself. What, then, is the defence of the Commissioners? In the Report presented to Parliament, they say—We have been told that in some of our schemes a preponderance has been given to one party, both in civil politics and in ecclesiastical politics. We do not know, and we do not propose to inquire.We do not know." Is this quite candid? Who are these co-optatives? With few exceptions, the old trustees. And who are the old trustees? With still fewer exceptions, members of the Church of England. Therefore, so far as the co-optative element went, the Commissioners did know, and there was no occasion for them to enquire—Our answer is," they proceed, "that each group of trustees has been chosen for the good of its own endowment, and with reference solely to the legal and educational considerations affecting that endowment, because they were in possession, because they previously had some patronage, because they were versed in scholastic affairs, because they are men of business, because their neighbours confide in them and wish to have their services.But, Sir, in dealing with questions like public education, with reference to which every Churchman and every Dissenter is on the alert, you cannot afford to proceed upon the assumption that men are neither religionists nor politicians—you cannot afford to shut your eyes to the fact that English society, of every class, is penetrated through and through by antagonistic ideas in politics and religion, that the bias of that antagonism insensibly warps the judgment and impairs the impartiality of every one, that the belief in that bias and partiality is universal, and that your only safety, I might say, if we are to have justice—it 726 is enough for my purpose to say if we are to have a public belief in justice—is in absolute fair play, and I have shown that there is no fair play here. But the Commissioners themselves betray an immediate misgiving that their position in ignoring the religious and political sides of this question is unsound. The words are hardly out of their mouths when, with the strangest inconsistency they add—We do not pretend that political considerations can be excluded any more than any other parts of men's characters can be wholly excluded.Then, why, in the name of justice, have they excluded them? "What we do contend is, that such considerations are minor and secondary ones." Sir, we do not live in a time when it is possible to treat these considerations as minor and secondary. I wish we did. The time may come when we shall, but not so long as in every parish in the kingdom we see, side by side, two distinct religious castes, one only of which has been to fortunate as to secure the smiles of the State. And do not let my right hon. Friend take refuge in the idea that, because these schools are undenominational, therefore you can have no regard to a man's religious belief when you appoint him either as a Commissioner, as an Assistant Commissioner, or as a co-optative Governor. People take their religious beliefs with them wherever they go, and with the best and purest intentions these beliefs determine their course of' action, and the questions which come before the Governing Bodies of these schools are precisely those which excite to the utmost the irritability of people's beliefs—the whole religious teaching of the school, the appointment of masters, the election of scholars, the distribution of everything which the schools have to bestow. My right hon. Friend has brought into one focus everything which can excite religious jealousy to the utmost, and then, with a solemn face, he says—"I should be sorry to ask the religious belief of any man to whom I entrust the solution of questions like these." I cannot conceive a better illustration of the mischief which arises from this know-nothing policy titan what has actually occurred. Here are three gentlemen of the highest possible character, but all Churchmen, some of them distinguished members, vice-presidents of the Church 727 Defence Association. This is accident No. 1. They are assisted by eight gentlemen, all of whom are members of the Church of England. This is accident No. 2. These Assistant Commissioners, the eyes and ears of the Commission, are instructed to place themselves in direct and intimate communication with the old trustees—that is, to derive their first impressions through the medium of their prejudices—and this at a moment when prejudice is most on the alert, when its privileges are threatened. The old trustees are almost all members of the Church of England. This is accident No. 3. And the natural and necessary consequence of this three-fold combination of Churchmen upon the back of Churchmen is accident No. 4—namely, that so far as the re-construction of our secondary schools has proceeded, that whole system has received a permanent Church twist, and almost every undenominational school a Church launch. But do not let me be misunderstood. I do not state that the Commissioners, the Assistant Commissioners, and the old trustees have wilfully conspired to defeat the intentions of the Legislature, and to bolster up a monopoly which this measure was intended to break through. What I do say is that, with the view of conciliating the old trustees, the Commissioners have made them virtually masters of the situation, and have left the party—in ecclesiastical and civil politics—to which they belong, as absolutely supreme over the teaching and control of these schools as ever it was, and this in districts which positively teem with Dissenters, where a Churchman is the exception, and where the children using the schools would naturally, in overwhelming majorities, be the children of Nonconformists. Have hon. Gentlemen taken the pains to run their eyes over the evidence from Wales, or the West Riding? Mr. Jones, Principal of the Independent College at Bala, a district in which he said that it would be a moderate statement to assert that Nonconformists were to Churchmen in the proportion of five to one, stated that in the Bala scheme there were to be 11 co-optatives at first, all holding office for life, nine of whom were Churchmen, against six representative Governors. Mr. Craven of Thornton, near Bradford, gave evidence that he was the only Nonconformist nominated by the Commis- 728 sion, in a district in which Nonconformists numbered three-fourths of the population. Mr. Waddington, of Mir-field, also in the West Riding, said that the Mirfield Grammar School was a Nonconformist foundation, and that out of eight co-optatives only two are Nonconformists; but to show the feeling of the district, when a contest took place for the six representative seats, only one Churchman was returned as against five Nonconformists. And the evidence of this witness is peculiarly instructive, because he stated that if this injustice had not been done to the Nonconformists in placing so few of them upon the Governing Body by co-optation, this contest—which was of extreme severity—would probably not have arisen at all. The fact is, that by excluding a fair proportion of Nonconformists from the co-optative portion of the Governing Body in districts in which Nonconformists of influence abound, the Commissioners are raising, in the most objectionable form, and with every circumstance of acerbity, the very question which they profess to deprecate. And so at the very outset this blind, know-nothing policy of the Commissioners defeats itself, and the schools begin their new career in the midst of passion and discord, and with every element of failure implanted in their constitution. I call this policy a blind policy, for so it is; and it has been so blindly pursued that the Commissioners themselves are staggered when they are confronted with its results—for example, when Lord Lyttelton had stated that the co-optative element was always in a minority, and when, by a multitude of instances, I showed him that this was not so, he replied—"All I can say is, that I think any such case in my present view is a miscarriage (1466); I do not think that it is right." Yes, but the table of schemes is full of such miscarriages. And when I plied his Lordship with the Yorkshire schemes—districts which I need not remind the House are full of Dissenters—his reply always was—"Those are all Mr. Robinson's districts;" or, "That is in Yorkshire;" as though the fact of its being in Yorkshire, or under the eye of Canon Robinson, was enough to account for any enormity. But, Sir, perhaps I may be told that Nonconformists are themselves in some measure to blame for this state of things. Why did they meekly 729 acquiesce? Why did they not memorialize the Commissioners? Why did they not memorialize the Committee of Council? Why did they not move this House to reject these schemes, one by one? What chance had we, at the fag end of the Session, with the Paper crowded with Business, of getting that calm and dispassionate consideration of details without which such a discussion would have been a farce? How can the House determine whether or not justice has been done, with nothing but ex parte evidence before it, with no power of cross-examination, and no local knowledge whatever? But why not memorialize the Committee of Council? Let the House consider what we must have asked the Committee of Council to have clone. Under the Endowed Schools Act the Department has no power to modify schemes. It must accept the scheme in a lump, or reject it in a lump. We must, therefore, have asked it to pull up the wheat with the tares; to postpone all reform, perhaps for years and years, in schools, many of which were a reproach and a scandal to everyone who had anything to do with them. But why not appeal to the Commissioners? I reply-that we did. [Mr. FORSTER said, that they did not.] My right hon. Friend says that we did not. Then, if we did not, it was because we knew that we had to deal with a body of men who, in all that relates to religion were in a hostile camp, and we declined to sue for common justice in the abject attitude of petitioning remonstrants. Sir, I will say no more. I thank the House for the patience with which, at this hour, they have listened to me. I had hoped that the deliberations of the Committee upstairs might have resulted in some attempt, if not to redress, at least to abate, a great and manifest injustice. With this view I prepared a paragraph, studiously so worded as to avoid anything which could be considered offensive, either to the Church or the Commissioners. The object of that paragraph, if it had been embodied in the Report of the Committee, was to caution the Commissioners against an excessive use of the co-optative principle. It was so fortunate as to obtain the assent of my right hon. Friend, and of every Liberal member of the Committee, except one, and that hon. Gentleman enjoys the distinction of being an Eccle- 730 siastical Commissioner. By his casting vote, I may say, my paragraph was rejected. But, surely, when it received the almost unanimous support of his party, my right hon. Friend might have taken some notice of it in his Bill. He does nothing of the kind. On the contrary, all the changes which the Bill makes are in a direction which is the opposite of that in which we look; and yet, upon the recognition of the principles for which I contend, the success of your whole system of secondary education depends. For without it, that system can never take deep root in the confidence and support of the entire community. I have all along proceeded upon the assumption that these principles were intended to underlie the whole plan of the Government. If I am wrong, it is time that I should be undeceived. If, from the first, it was the intention of the Government to hand over the whole secondary education of the people in perpetuity to Church of England management, let them say so. Say at once that it was no part of your plan to give Nonconformists their fair place in the Governing Bodies of these schools. Say at once that you were never converts to the maxims and the central ideas of my right hon. Friend; but that, with the words of freedom and equality upon your lips, you were secretly resolved in this new and final re-construction to stereotype class distinction in its worst and most odious shape—the supremacy of a religious caste. But, if this was not the intention of my right hon. Friend, let him make such changes in this Bill as shall secure the practical adoption, not the virtual renunciation of the principles upon which the Act itself was based, so that if we vote with him to-night, we may have some assurance that we are indeed "making our past minister to our future"—our future strength, not our future strife.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Dillwyn.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
was sorry that the measure had come forward so late in the Session that it was impossible to do justice to it Looking at the history of these endowments, he held that injustice 731 would have been done by ousting the Church of England from a principal share in their control and management, for he must remind the hon. Member for Swansea that nine-tenths of the endowed schools had been founded by its members, and the Act of 1869 was never intended to convey schools so founded away from the Church. The present Bill—small as was the modicum of justice which it gave to the Church—did, at all events, propose to remove some injustice, and therefore he could not support the Amendment which had been moved by the hon. Member. At the same time, unless some Amendments were introduced to make it more just to the Church, he should oppose it on the third reading.
§ MR. F. S. POWELL
regretted that the discussion of that measure had taken a sectarian turn, in face of the fact that their simple object ought to be a reform in the educational system of this country. As a Member of the Select Committee which sat upon this subject, he believed that the intention of the Act passed some years ago was not to transfer the endowments of certain schools which had belonged to the Church of England, to other denominations, but rather to throw them open to all—a fact which would, he hoped, be kept well in view when discussing the question. He could not imagine a harder case than that of excluding the trustees who were members of the Church of England, who had done so much for the cause of education, and had in many cases framed schemes of a most liberal character. In Wigan they prepared a scheme which was universally approved of; but while the scheme itself was sanctioned, would it have been a just act if the trustees who framed it had been turned out of the Governing Body? It would be an evil day for these schools if trustees were chosen, not because they knew anything about education, but because they entertained particular political or religious views. He considered that it was necessary for the welfare of these schools that the Governing Bodies should not be obtained entirely by popular election; but that there should continue upon these Bodies a certain number of gentlemen elected by representation and by co-optation. The cases which the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Leatham) had cited from America did not apply to the 732 schools now under review, because they were not of the same class. The American schools which had been spoken of were elementary schools. In America the higher schools were in the hands of the people, and by no means in a good condition. There was an unfortunate downward tendency in America which he hoped would never be found in England. He had trusted that in England the best men would have been chosen, irrespective of religious opinions or political creeds. He doubted whether in any country, schools of a high class were under the control of a popular vote. The Commissioners had, no doubt, committed many mistakes; but he represented a district wherein, more than in any other, they had wherein, schemes which were in operation. In that district they had brought many schools from a state of decay and utter uselessness to entire prosperity. He hoped, however, the Commissioners would have a greater regard for the old traditions and past history of schools, and concur more with the Governing Bodies. He admitted that some reform of the grammar schools was necessary, and believed the wisest course for the House to adopt was to continue the Commission, though under more restricted conditions.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, he was glad to hear what had fallen from the last speaker, for great dissatisfaction had been caused by the manner in which the Commissioners had removed Governing Bodies and replaced them by others selected at haphazard. There were schools that had been endowed by persons, who were anxious that they should operate to the public benefit, and those schools had been carried out according to the rules which had been laid down by the Pounders; and he thought that while the Commissioners endeavoured to improve them where the Governing Body had acted properly with regard to schools which had existed for centuries, there ought not to be a hard-and-fast line laid down under which they must be removed, but if alteration were made by the Commissioners, that was no reason why the scheme adopted by them should not he carried out by the Governors who had hitherto done their duty, and therefore should continue to be appointed and the schools continued under the existing manage- 733 ment. He would like to know whether his right hon. Friend had introduced a clause into the Bill to remedy such conduct on the part of the Commissioners and to prevent the repetition of it in future. He should prefer that the Commissioners should never be heard of again; but, at all events, if the House was not prepared to do that, he hoped that a clause would be introduced into the Bill which would tie the hands of the Commissioners, so as to prevent them from doing any further mischief.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, that a provision which would, to a certain extent, meet the objection of the last speaker was already contained in the Bill. The scheme of the Bill was not obtaining the attention it deserved in the present discussion, the object of which, on each side, was apparently to grasp at the controlling powers of the schools. The most opposite views had been expressed as to the merits or the demerits of the Commissioners. What he wanted chiefly to point out was, that the larger endowments had suffered greatly from delay, and he thought that the Governing Bodies ought to be able to propound schemes before the Commissioners could bring their plans into operation. At the same time, the intention of the Founders, particularly in recent cases ought to be properly respected. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be doing all in his power for carrying out the objects proposed by the Act of 1869, but still something was needed to put an end to the delay and uncertainty which now existed, and which in the ease of Christ's Hospital, whose endowments were open to the whole kingdom, represented about a third of the whole educational endowments of the country. He now desired to intimate that, unless the scheme prepared by the Committee of the Governors, four years ago, could be brought into speedy operation, he should endeavour to have a clause inserted to enable the Government to go for a private Bill.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
complained of the vagueness of the present Act. The Preamble of the Act stated that it was framed for the purpose of extending the benefit of the endowed schools to all classes of the community, and he thought it would only have been ordinary precaution on the part of the Vice President of the Council to have seen that 734 the Commissioners were not all identified with one religious body. At least, one or other of them should have been a Dissenter. There had been a corresponding partiality in the nomination of the co-optative Governors, and the Act had been administered most unequally and unjustly. The scheme applied to the Bradford Grammar School was one of the most successful, because it was one of the most just—one of the few just schemes which the Commissioners had created. The Bill did nothing to mitigate the injustice complained of on the part of the Dissenters, and he preferred that the Commission should be suspended for a time, rather than it should be continued in its present mutilated form.
§ SIR CHARLES ADDERLEY
said, he should like to know from the hon. Member for Knaresborough what Dissenter he contemplated when he said that one of the three Commissioners should be a Dissenter. Did he contemplate a Roman Catholic?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
admitted that Christ's Hospital was by far one of the largest and most important endowments with which that Bill dealt, and he was in hopes that by means of negotiations between the Commissioners and the Governors of Christ's Hospital, they would arrive within a year at a scheme which might be presented to Parliament with the assent of both parties. As regarded the Amendment, the Endowed Schools Commissioners had been appointed by the Government because they believed that they were the best men that could be selected, and that they were well acquainted with the work upon which they were going to enter. As to the Governing Bodies, the Commissioners had appointed the co-optative Governors simply and solely from a belief that they would be the most likely men to carry on the government of the trust with satisfaction to those around them. He thought that had been proved from the fact that no objection had been offered to them in the districts where they were appointed to act. He expressed his regret that the hon. Member for Knaresborough should have accused the Commissioners of gross partiality, and maintained that though they might have committed a few mistakes, they had discharged their duties with strict impartiality. With regard to the Motion before the House, he confidently hoped, 735 having regard to the past labours in the cause of educational progress of his hon. Friend who brought it forward, that he would not now seek to check that progress by endeavouring to carry it. The measure which the Government desired to enact involved the slightest changes possible, and altered in a very small degree the powers of the Commissioners. He also believed that if the reform of these endowments were to continue, the proposed concession of ex officio Governors must be granted, as the House of Lords had taken a strong stand upon the point. Nor did he believe that the body of Nonconformists, and especially those who had had anything to do with the schemes brought into operation, would rejoice at the stoppage of the reform of these endowments on account of the concessions which the Government had found it necessary to make, and without which they should not have the slightest hope of continuing the reform.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he had to complain that a Bill of such importance should have been brought on for discussion at so late an hour. He should vote in favour of the Amendment, and would give Notice that he would oppose the Bill at its next stage.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 84; Noes 70: Majority 14.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ House adjourned at a quarter after Two. o'clock.