§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."— (Mr. W. E. Forster.)
§ MR. DIXON
rose to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice—That, in the opinion of this House, no Amendment of the Education Act will be satisfactory which does not make the attendance of children at school and the formation of School Boards compulsory throughout England and Wales, and which fails to remove the objections entertained to the principles embodied in the twenty-fifth Section of the Act.His desire was not to raise a prolonged debate, for which he thought the present time was not favourable, but to give the House the opportunity of dividing on the question. He had twice during the Session attempted to introduce Resolu- 754 tions on the subject, but he had failed to do so in consequence of the Government standing in the way; and on Thursday last, when his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Privy Council moved the second reading of this Bill, he was precluded from moving this Amendment. It might be said it was inconvenient to bring forward a Resolution containing a series of three propositions, as some hon. Members might be disposed to support one or two, but not the whole three; but he would take care to afford an opportunity for voting upon each one separately in Committee. He was told it was another objection to his Resolution that it would be fatal to a Bill which had been accepted by a large majority of the House. But that need not be the case, although, even if it were considered fatal to the Bill, he could not say that he should, under the circumstances, feel at all dissatisfied; because the meaning of such a vote would be that the House had pledged itself to give effect to the principles contained in his Resolution. On Thursday night the indulgence of the House had enabled him to make some remarks on the great importance of immediately passing a compulsory law, and also to advocate the opinion that school boards were the best machinery for carrying out such compulsion. It was quite true, as stated by the Vice President of the Council, that when there was no national system of education, and no immediate expectation of one being adopted, he had held the opinion that the money of the ratepayers might be advantageously used for the purpose of educating pauper children. But since that time the position of the question had been entirely altered. The country was much more prepared than he had then anticipated for the adoption of a national system of education; and under that system schools were provided which approached much more nearly, if not entirely, to what he considered was the proper type of National Schools. He very naturally, therefore, preferred what he had always advocated—namely, an extension of the national system of education. What he wished to see was all the new forces which had come into existence under the Act of 1870 and the Amendments to that Act brought to bear on the new and improved system of elementary education. There were a large number of persons who 755 attributed to pique the part which he and those who agreed with him took in this matter, and to strictures of that kind they were prepared to submit. But he hoped his right hon. Friend understood that there was no inconsistency in their position. He said on Thursday night that as he could not have his own way, and nevertheless desired to see education extended, the only alternative before him was to cease to oppose this measure of his right hon. Friend for the extension of education. He was therefore prepared to see the plans of his right hon. Friend carried out, without taking upon himself the responsibility of sanctioning them. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Amendment.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, no Amendment of the Education Act will be satisfactory which does not make the attendance of children at school and the formation of School Boards compulsory throughout England and Wales, and which fails to remove the objections entertained to the principles embodied in the twenty-fifth section of the Act,"—(Mr. Dixon,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. STAPLETON
supported the Amendment, remarking that the Bill violated the essential principles of the Poor Law. He would have been very much astonished that it should receive the support of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), only he was prepared to make allowance for the aberrations of a philosopher. It was said that 2½d. a-week was a very small sum to pay for children; but he knew many districts in which children paid only ld. a-week. As the Bill stood, there was no provision made for the children of the poor who were not paupers. He could not but think it most demoralizing that we should say to the poor struggling ratepayer—"You must pay for the education of your own child, and the children of your neighbour, the pauper, who is vicious and idle, will also go to school at your expense."
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
said, he wished to state on what points he differed from the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon), and where he 756 agreed with him. He (Mr. Harcourt) had never been a violent compulsionist. The doctrine of compulsion had not found favour with the people of this country. Even for the greatest public objects, such as that of national defence, the English people had never been willing to accept the doctrine of compulsory service. He would not, therefore, attempt to force compulsion upon the country, seeing it was not ripe for it. He, for one, would be very glad when all the children would be found attending school; but if he might use an Hibernian expression, he would say that compulsion would never succeed in this country until it was voluntarily adopted; or, in other words, you could never enforce compulsion by statute until public opinion was ripe for its enforcement. He wished that the hon. Member for Birmingham had confined his Amendment to the simple repeal of the 25th clause. His desire was that the repeal of that clause should not, as far as argument was concerned, be allowed to sink into the quagmire of sectarian controversy, but should be argued solely upon economical grounds. He was at first very much inclined to the doctrine of absolutely free education; but upon further reflection he had seen the danger of it. However, as between free education and the education to be given to paupers alone, he held that there ought to be no middle term. Provision had been made for the payment of the fees of pauper children, to be attended by the consequences of Poor Law relief. This applied to paupers alone, and so far he agreed with the Bill. There was, however, a provision in the Bill originally that the Guardians should be allowed to pay the fees for persons who were to be semi-paupers and to receive this relief from the poor rate without the consequences of Poor Law relief; but there was so general an expression of opinion against that clause that the right hon. Gentleman was compelled to withdraw it. In his judgment, the proper course for the House now to adopt would be to repeal the 25th and also the 17th section of the Act. The principle upon which these clauses were founded would, if they were brought into considerable use, break down the whole system of our Poor Law. The provision made for the pauper population in the 3rd clause was, he conceived, 757 the only provision that ought to be made in that respect out of the poor rate; and, that being so, both the 17th and the 25th sections of the Act ought to be repealed. Under the Scotch Education Act of last Session the payment of school fees was followed by the consequences of Poor Law relief. It was just as important and as humane to give aid to the sick, to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry as it was to educate the children of the poor; but, nevertheless, we did not give to hospitals and clothing clubs powers analogous to those conferred by the 17th and 25th clauses of the Education Act. Indeed, if we introduced principles of that character there would be no end to the consequences, and the country would be flooded by an irresistible flood of pauperism. He was aware the Birmingham League were anxious to abolish the 25th section; but he had heard of no proposal on their part to repeal the 17th. Though he should be extremely glad himself to see all the children go to the Board schools, he knew that to legislate in such a direction would be idle and nugatory. To repeal the 25th clause of the Act and leave the 17th unrepealed would be to place a high differential duty on the denominational schools as against the Board schools, and would have the effect of driving all the children into the latter at once. To ask the House to accept such a proposal would be useless, for hon. Members must treat these matters like men of the world and persons who understood politics. By repealing both clauses this vexed sectarian question, he believed, might be settled upon grounds on which all parties would be able to agree. He had heard rumours that such a proposal was likely to have proceeded from a quarter which would probably have rendered it more acceptable to the House than it would be if it emanated from the hon. Member for Birmingham; but he had heard an ingenious and Machiavellian suggestion made that the idea was abandoned, for fear it might have the serious effect of establishing a reconciliation in the Liberal party. Such an objection, to his mind, would not be fatal to the proposition if it were otherwise sound. There was, however, something even more important than a reconciliation of the conflicting sections of the Liberal party, and that was the cause of education in this country. It 758 must be admitted on all hands that the unfortunate disagreement with respect to this 25th clause of the Act was a most serious stumbling-block in the way of the progress of education in this country. If, therefore, some common ground could be found on which all parties could agree, and which had nothing to do with sectarian differences at all, it was surely a matter worthy of the House of Commons to see whether they could not so agree to remove the stumbling-block and advance education. Was it worth keeping up either the 17th or the 25th clause, about which there had been so much fighting? He would appeal to the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) whether the results were not infinitesimal in London?—and if that was the case in a place like London, surely that was a strong argument why these vexed clauses should be withdrawn with a view to an amicable settlement of the difficulty. If the Vice President of the Council would consent to this mode of settling the controversy he would remove a great bone of political contention and do much to advance the cause of national education.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
My sole object in rising so early is that it seems to me we are debating upon the original Motion rather than upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon), and it appears to me that we are all of one opinion that we do not wish to have repeated discussions on the same point. The hon. Member for Birmingham has proposed a Resolution combining three objects, and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Harcourt) has argued in a powerful manner—not in favour of the Motion, but of the Amendment of which he has given Notice, and which the House in Committee will have to consider, and it seems to me that it will be better not to enter now upon any debate upon the subject of this Amendment The hon. Member for Birmingham said he invited division, but did not invite debate, and as I shall be very glad on the part of the Government to meet the arguments for Amendments when they are brought forward, I cannot but believe that we had better get as soon as possible into Committee to hear them. My hon. Friend gave as his reason that he never interposed with a Resolution. I remember in his very 759 calm and moderate speech last Thursday evening he said he would not vote against the Bill now under consideration, and therefore went out of the, House. He felt now that by his Motion he would be as much voting against the Bill as by supporting the Previous Question; but he gets out of it by saying that he knows his Motion will not be carried. I do not wish to treat his Motion with anything like indifference, much less with anything like contempt. Nevertheless, the matter has been debated over and over in the House, and I feel we cannot now enter into the question of universal compulsion or universal school rates. I will only just say this—I repeat that I am still as earnest for universal compulsion as ever I have been; but that I do believe that if my hon. Friend insists upon coupling with universal compulsion, the necessity for school boards, and also the repeal of the 25th clause without anything in its place, he will put off for an indefinite time this very system of compulsion. I think we should not meet with the assistance of the country, if in order to get compulsion extended throughout England and Wales, ratepayers are called upon to build schools which would not otherwise have been necessary, or if anything like differential duty were imposed upon them for Board schools as against other schools, compulsion will be impossible. However necessary it may be, it is a difficult and delicate matter, and if we compel more than we can help, we shall certainly fail. My hon. Friend threw out a hint that voluntary schools, so far as secular education is concerned, might be transferred to the school boards. I doubt the willingness of the managers of the voluntary schools, at all events for a long time to come, to agree to such a transfer. It may be said that they would thereby relieve themselves from the cost of secular teaching. Undoubtedly they would; but upon whom would fall the cost of secular teaching?—upon the ratepayers. Does my hon. Friend think the ratepayers would be willing to undertake the task? The burden is already by no means small, and year by year it will continue to increase. My hon. Friend is mistaken in supposing that it is a mere pounds, shillings, and pence question. We must it is true remember we have to pass measures through this House. This House is composed of 760 Representatives of the ratepayers, and I cannot conceive anything more difficult to be obtained than a system of compulsion with the money to be attached to it. I should, however, be hardly honest if I were to sit down without saying that I think there are higher subjects involved. I have often been charged with making a compromise, and with deviating from principle in order to get the House to agree to the Education Act. I can only state that was not the feeling with which I brought the measure forward. There has never to my mind been any compromise. I am aware that in the minds of many Members they thought they were giving up one thing to secure another; but my object in this matter was to make use of all the moral forces of the country, and, having the interests of education at heart, I did not feel at liberty to disregard what has been accomplished by the voluntary system. Quite independently of pounds, shillings, and pence there are many parts of the country where the Squire and the Parson, who have been so often referred to, would be more likely to secure an efficient school than a body of reluctant farmers, upon whom the conduct of a school board might sometimes fall. I hope we may be allowed to divide upon this Amendment, if my hon. Friend thinks it necessary to do so, and then to proceed in Committee, where all the points will be brought forward for positive discussion.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 129; Noes 45: Majority 84.761
|Adderlcy, rt. hn. Sir C.||Cavendish, Lord F. C.|
|Amphlett, R. P.||Charley, W. T.|
|Anstruther, Sir R.||Childers, rt. hon. H.|
|Ayrton, rt. hon. A. S.||Clay, J.|
|Baines, E.||Cobbett, J. M.|
|Barclay, A. C.||Colebrooke, Sir T. E.|
|Barclay, J. W.||Coleridge, Sir J. D.|
|Barttelot, Colonel||Collins, T.|
|Bates, E.||Corrance, F. S.|
|Baxter, rt. hon. W. E.||Corrigan, Sir D.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Cowper-Temple, right|
|Benyon, R.||hon. W.|
|Birley, H.||Cross, R. A.|
|Blennerhassett, Sir R.||Cubitt, G.|
|Bolckow, H. W. F.||Delahunty, J.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Dent, J. D.|
|Bourke, hon. R.||Dickinson, S. S.|
|Bowring, E. A.||Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.|
|Buller, Sir E. M.||Dowdeswell, W. E.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, H.||Duff, M. E. G.|
|Dundas, J. C.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Egerton, hon. A. F.|
|Enfield, Viscount||Miller, J.|
|Ewing, A. Orr-||Monk, C. J.|
|Fawcett, H.||Monsell, rt. hon. W.|
|Figgins, J.||Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.|
|Forster, rt. hon. W. E.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Fowler, R. N.||North, Colonel|
|Garnier, J. C.||Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Peel, A. W.|
|Gordon, E. S.||Pemberton, E. L.|
|Gore, J. R. O.||Phipps, C. P.|
|Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.||Pim, J.|
|Gower, hon. E. F. L.||Playfair, L.|
|Grant. Col. hon. J.||Powell, F. S.|
|Gray, Colonel||Raikes, H. C.|
|Greville, hon. Captain||Rathbone, W.|
|Grey de Wilton, Visc.||Ridley, M. W.|
|Grieve, J. J.||Round, J.|
|Hamilton, Lord G.||Salt, T.|
|Hardy, rt. hon. G.||Samuelson, B.|
|Hardy, rt. hon. G.||Samuelson, B.|
|Hay, Sir J. C. D.||Samuelson, H. B.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Sandon, Viscount|
|Henley, Lord||Scourfield, J. H.|
|Hermon, E.||Seely, C. (Nottingham)|
|Heygate, W. U.||Sherlock, D.|
|Hibbert, J. T.||Smith, W. H.|
|Holt, J. M.||Stanley, hon. F.|
|Hope, A. J. B. B.||Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.|
|Hughes, T.||Storks, rt. hn. Sir H. K.|
|Jessel, Sir G.||Stuart, hon. H. W. V.|
|Johnston, A.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Kavanagh, A. Mac M.||Tipping, W.|
|Knatchbull-Hugessen,||Tollemache, Maj. W. F.|
|right hon. E.||Torr, J.|
|Lacon, Sir E. H. K.||Turner, C.|
|Lancaster, J.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Leatham, E. A.||Wait, W. K.|
|Leeman, G.||Waterhouse, S.|
|Lowe, rt. hon. R.||Welby, W. E.|
|Lubbock, Sir J.||West, H. W.|
|Lyttelton, hon. C. G.||Wheelhouse, W. S. J.|
|Macfie, R. A.||Winn, R.|
|Mackintosh, E. W.||Young, rt. hon. G.|
|Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.||Adam, W. P.|
|Melly, G.||Glyn, hon. G. G.|
|Anderson, G.||Muntz, P. H.|
|Baker, R. B. W.||Onslow, G.|
|Brewer, Dr.||Palmer, J. H.|
|Bright, J.(Manchester)||Potter, E.|
|Brown, A. H.||Potter, T. B.|
|Cowen, Sir J.||Price, W. E.|
|Cunliffe, Sir R. A.||Richard, H.|
|Dilke, Sir C. W.||Roden, W. S.|
|Edwards, H.||Sartoris, E. J.|
|Eykyn, R.||Simon, Mr. Serjeant|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord E.||Stapleton, J.|
|Goldsmid, Sir F.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Gourley, E. T.||Tracy, hon. C. R. D.|
|Herbert, hon. A. E. W.||Hanbury-|
|Hodgson, K. D.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Holland, S.||Wedderburn, Sir D.|
|Illingworth, A.||White, J.|
|Kensington, Lord||Whitwell, J.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Willyams, E. W. B.|
|Lewis, J. D.||Wingfield, Sir C.|
|M'Arthur, W.||Young, A. W.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||TELLERS.|
|Morley, S||Candlish, J.|
|Mundella, A. J||Dixon, G.|
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1 (Short title 33 & 34 Vict. c. 75) agreed to.
§ Clause 2 (Construction of Act) agreed to.
§ Expenses of Education.
§ MR. CANDLISH,
in rising to move an Amendment, the object of which was to repeal the 25th section of the Elementary Education Act of 1870, and so getting rid of the provision which enabled school boards to pay the fees of children in cases where the parents were unable to pay the fees themselves, said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council was wrong in supposing that all those who supported the second reading of the Bill were favourable to the measure in its entirety. The fact was that they approved pretty well everything, except the particular clause now before the Committee, and that their objections were not without foundation was shown by the action of the right hon. Gentleman himself with regard to the question of compulsion. He (Mr. Candlish) maintained that the 25th clause had given rise to so many animosities and differences throughout the country that it would take a long time to put an end to them. He gathered from the silence of the Opposition on Friday evening that they were now favourable to the repeal of the clause. ["No"] It was true that contributions to taxation were formerly made out of Imperial taxation; but now they were asked to pay for secular and sectarian education out of local taxation. He hoped that by adopting his Amendment, and virtually abolishing the 25th clause, they would satisfy the strong growing feeling of the country on this point. The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) had with great effect twitted the Nonconformists with paying taxes for the support of denominational schools, while they objected to pay rates. The Nonconformists were opposed to the payment of taxes as well as of rates for 763 such a purpose; but the distinction in the case of the rate was that it was imposed for the first time in the Education Act. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
In page 1, line 17, to leave out the word "is," in order to insert the words "and section twenty-five of the principal Act are."—(Mr. Candlish.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'is' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. VERNON HARCOURT
moved to amend the hon. Member's (Mr. Candlish's) proposal by inserting words with the view of repealing the 17th as well as the 25th clause, for the reasons which he had stated when the Amendment of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon)) was under consideration.
§ MR. F. S. POWELL
denied that the feeling of the country was in favour of the abolition of the 25th clause. On the contrary, parents throughout the country desired to have the free choice of the school to which their children should be sent. He believed it was a just and wise concession on the part of the Government to remove the elementary education of the working class from all contact with the pauper class. If they were to have compulsion, they should couple it with permission to school boards to pay the fees of poor children. He denied that the action of the 25th clause inflicted any wrong either upon the parents; or upon the conscience of the ratepayer, and as regarded the question of the pocket, he did not think that the ratepayers would grudge the £4,000 or £5,000 a-year that was spent under the clause in order to bring education to a class which it was difficult to reach.
§ DR. LYON PLAYFAIR
said: In order not to interrupt the chances of this Bill, I gave way to my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council, although I was anxious to have spoken on the subject of time resolution of the League. I fear, however, that I may embarrass his position to some extent; because I, an old ally fighting under his flag, am now about to pass over to the enemy. As regards Clause 25, the House will permit me to explain my reasons for this change, because it has arisen by the Government having adopted for England what we have already done for Scotland. The State will, no doubt, be a great 764 gainer by this compulsory education of paupers, which the House, to its great honour, passed with such an overwhelming majority. After all, we are only applying that compulsory education to pauper children which the Act 27 Henry VIII., cap. 25, did to vagrant children; and the object of our doing so cannot be better described than in the words of that old Act—namely—"That they may not be driven by want or incapacity into dishonest courses." The significance of what you have done will soon be apparent; for it has already convinced many Members that the 25th clause is not only unnecessary, but will in future be injurious to the interests of education. I was a strong advocate for that clause; but if you pass this Bill, I join heartily in the desire for its repeal. Let us see how this has arisen. My hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) spoke with great force and truth when he pointed out how the 3rd clause of this Bill as it was introduced, had been weakened, because the Vice President of the Council had thrust aside logic and fact in its construction, and had hugged sentiment. You might remove a political disability by an Act of Parliament; but you could not alter a fact, when you inconsistently declared that aid from the rates in payment of school fees is not parochial relief. In the Scotch Education Act we call a spade a spade, and do not tell the parent when he begs school fees from the ratepayers' pocket that he is not acting as a pauper. He is acting as a pauper, and should be told so. The only justification for compulsory education is that a parent has no more right to starve the mind of his child than he has to starve its body. If he fail by design or by misfortune to fulfil his parental duty, and asks the ratepayer to do it for him, he is essentially a pauper. I have very strong doubts whether any parent, not actually a pauper, was ever deterred from sending children to school by the mere inability to pay the school-pence. I do not believe in twopenny non-paupers. All schools are most liberal in their dealing with cases of real distress, for school managers reduce the payment in such cases to a nominal amount. It is not the ld. or 2d. per week that prevents the child from being sent to school, but it is the loss of the 18d. per week which the child is winning for the parent by its labour 765 or by begging in the streets. This major difficulty is clearly a subject for the Poor Law Guardians. The minor difficulty of providing school-pence to really necessitous parents who are not paupers is so insignificant in its proportions that it may well be left to private philanthropy. Even with the 25th clause in operation, it is only a question of some £5,000 annually for the whole country, or about 10s. for each inspected school. But even this small sum has chiefly been applied to pauper children, who will now be paid for by Guardians. Thus in Rochdale out of 58 children paid for under the 25th clause, 49, or 84 per cent were of the pauper class. Surely Rochdale could not have found it difficult to pay 2d. per week for these nine children, without invoking an Act of Parliament. If we take an example of a town, which already applies Denison's Act for pauper children, the operation of the 25th clause for non-paupers will be clearly shown. Leeds offers a good illustration. The fees now paid by the school board of that town amount to about £8 per quarter. In this huge metropolis, the amount paid last quarter was under £20. Surely those figures reduce the whole case for the clause to an absurdity. A more rigid administration still would lessen those figures to vanishing proportions. The Committee will recollect that there was a Select Committee of the House in 1861, called the "Destitution Education Committee." It was presided over by my right hon. Friend the Member for Devonshire (Sir Stafford North-cote) and contained among its Members Sir James Graham and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That Committee found in ragged schools only two classes of children—real paupers who could not pay, and non-paupers who could pay at ordinary schools but went to ragged schools to shirk the fees. That Committee would support my statement that the twopenny non-pauper is a creation of the 25th clause, and does not exist in fact. These twopenny non-paupers, however, swarm in towns where the clause is loosely administered. I could name four towns, which, with uncalculating philanthropy, have thrown 10,000 children on public charity—for that it is, however you may cloak it under words of an Act of Parliament. This caprice in working the 25th clause has been its deathblow, for it has given to it a strong 766 pauperising character. And when you find large towns and by far the largest number of school boards working without the 25th clause, and when by this Bill we provide for pauper children, I no longer can defend that clause, and shall vote for its abolition. For both sides of the House this would be a benefit. I know that many of my hon. Friends opposite desire to abolish the clause; but they will not help us to do so at the present moment, because they think it a nice bone of contention for the Liberal party. Yet it is a bone which in the hands of a Samson may be used to smite the Philistines. The clause is likely to prove infinitely more injurious to the National Church while it lasts than it is likely to prove beneficial to the Conservative party, by continuous dissension among their opponents.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
felt it rather difficult to see as a matter of Order how this discussion should be taken. The question which the Committee had to decide was, whether the word "is" was to remain or be struck out of the clause. The hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish) would strike out that word and repeal the 25th clause; and if the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Harcourt) were adopted it would repeal the 17th clause. Then came the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Boston (Mr. Collins) to repeal the. 26th clause. Now, he thought it would have been more convenient to raise those questions by omissions in the Schedule. The first question was as to the omission of part of Clause 17. He believed compulsion would be impossible if they said to an indigent as distinguished from a pauper parent—"You shall either be punished if you do not send your child to school, or you shall be made a pauper." If indigent parents were to be treated in that way the result would be that we should excite a very strong feeling throughout the country, and school boards would refuse to carry out compulsion. He did not dispute the logic of the hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh (Dr. Lyon Playfair) or of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett); but he must remind those Gentlemen that Parliament did not undertake to conduct its legislation on strict principles of logic. His hon. Friend (Dr. Lyon Playfair) would rely upon private generosity. Well, pri- 767 vate generosity might come to the rescue; but in passing an Act of Parliament they could not put on the face of the Act that they had this reliance. His hon. Friend said that if the parent obtained this education relief he ought to be considered a pauper. But that argument might be pushed too far. It should not be forgotten that the whole system of State education was based upon assistance given to classes whose children were sent to school, and what right had they to draw a very strict line between the parent who got 4d. out of the 6d. spent on education and another parent who got the entire 6d. That was his reason for objecting to the repeal of the 25th section and of the chief part of the 17th. But he had a further one, relative to the position of the school board managers. If they gave the school boards that hard job, they must leave them some power and some discretion. His hon. Friend said he would leave them the discretion, but take from them the power of paying fees. He could not coincide in the expediency of that view, and upon those grounds he should vote against the proposition; but the chief consideration in his opinion was, what could they place in lieu of Section 17, even if the 25th clause were not in question?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish) had taunted Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side with having changed their opinions on this subject. But the fact was they always maintained the absolute right of the parent to choose the school to which he should send his child. It was true that many of them were not in favour of direct compulsion; but his right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster) had shown such a thorough acquaintance with the subject, and such an earnest desire to pay attention to the claims of all, that they gave way, and most cordially desired that the right hon. Gentleman's experiment should have a full, fair, and complete trial. With respect to the 25th and 17th clauses, there were many practical difficulties connected with the question involved. There was one standard of poverty in Leeds, another in Manchester, another in Liverpool, and so on. Looking at education as a necessary of life, he was inclined to maintain that the assumption by the State of the duty of providing education for all the children was one which lessened the 768 value of education in the eyes of the parent. It was primarily the duty of a parent to find education for his child, and if he could not do so, but had assistance from the State, he ought to be placed in the same position as if he came to the State for food for a starving child, for medicine for a sick child, or for relief for his wife when she was in want of it. From Leeds it was reported that the people on whose behalf school fees had been remitted were substantially of the pauper class. In Manchester an alarming condition of things had been brought about, and the board had to re-issue orders without troubling the parents to apply for them. It was believed that the board was cheated by parents who were able to pay school fees; but it was held that this was better than having the children neglected. This was a question of serious importance, because it involved the degradation of large numbers who were able to pay school fees, and who would pay them if assistance were not so readily afforded them. It was on those grounds he supported in principle the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Harcourt); but, if the 17th clause of the Act were abandoned, the 25th clause must be abandoned too, and all the clauses which gave power to boards to establish free schools. Now, that we had provided for the education of pauper children by making it the duty of Boards of Guardians to see that they were educated, he believed, if education was to be sufficiently valued, that there must be no free education except for those who were in receipt of pauper relief. The time had not come to deal properly and usefully with this part of the question, and if it had it was too late in the Session now; but the truth was the country was not aware of the importance of the question, and it would have to be considered by the country before it could be settled by the House. The time would come when it would be admitted that, except for paupers, free schooling was not beneficial to the cause of education.
§ MR. B. SAMUELSON
said, he had hitherto resisted the repeal of the 25th clause, but he should now vote for that repeal for three reasons. First, the extension of Denison's Act very much diminished the necessity for it; second, the heart burnings that would attend its 769 continued operation would exceed any advantages to be derived from it; third, it was possible to provide a substitute by requiring elementary schools to take, say, 5 per cent of free children; and he did not say 10 per cent, because he believed 1 per cent would meet the necessities of the case. It was not right when we were imposing new duties upon parents, that we should attach to their performance the risk of incurring the stigma of pauperism. We were inaugurating a new state of things; we were in a transition state, and it was our duty to have regard, not only to the consciences, but also to the prejudices of parents. He should support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish).
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
desired to direct attention to the singular turn of the debate and the position in which the House was placed. The representatives of the Birmingham League complained that the consciences of Nonconformists were violated by having to pay fees out of rates for children attending denominational schools, and yet there was no Amendment on the Paper to that part of the original Act which enabled Guardians to require the attendance of children at schools selected by the parents. The right of selection remained for paupers; but it was to be taken away from the indigent. The Amendment was supported by some on conscientious grounds, and by others, who did not care for conscience, on economical grounds. The conscientious ground seemed a strange one, when for years we had been making payment out of State funds to assist education, and when for a part of the time we had insisted that religious instruction must be given in the school receiving assistance. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) stated the other evening that this was only the beginning of the agitation, and that those who acted with him would oppose any grant whatever, whether out of taxes or rates, in support of denominational schools; but then, why should the Committee take a step which implied that the parent was not to select his child's school? School boards had power to lay down a scheme of religious teaching, and in many cases had done so. There were people who thought that a great deal too much, while others had thought it a great deal 770 too little; and just as much respect ought to be paid to the consciences of both those classes of objectors as to the conscience of the ratepayer. For his own part, he believed that the ratepayer did not really entertain the objection attributed to him, but that the idea was put into his head by other persons. On the question of conscience he was unable to see any valid argument which did not equally apply to all grants made for educational purposes, whether they were raised by rates or taxes. His own conscience would not be wounded by being compelled to contribute to the support of schools in Scotland, even though Presbyterianism were taught in them, for he should pay in his capacity as a subject of the State. The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Samuelson) could not at all appreciate the economic question. As for free admission, it tended to cause irregular attendance of the children because the parents thought that what cost them nothing must be of no great importance. [Mr. B. SAMUELSON said, he assumed compulsion.] The hon. Member really proposed to inflict compulsion not on the parents of the children, but on the managers of the voluntary schools. He would compel them to educate gratuitously certain children, with regard to whom they were under not moral, State, or parental obligation. It should be borne in mind that the school fees did not pay for the whole of the education which the children received. Where, he would ask, did the moral obligation of a parent to educate his children end, and where did the immoral obligation of the Guardians begin? Was be under a moral obligation to pay half or a quarter of the fee? [Mr. VERNON HARCOURT: To pay something.] but supposing he could not, was it not plain that he was in precisely the same position with respect to the Guardians as if he could not provide sufficient food or clothing? Could it be contended that he had fulfilled his moral obligation by paying a penny? and, he asked, how could they make attendance compulsory, if they compelled the parent to pay? It was impossible to reason the matter out logically. In country districts he did not believe the section now under consideration would come materially into operation at all; but the case would be different in crowded towns with shifting populations. There a large number 771 of the children were like eels—they either could not be got hold of, or else they soon slipped away. It was a difficulty with respect to a portion of the population that especially required to be paid for. Was it the object of that House to educate the children, or to establish so strict a rule that the parents should never be able to evade the payment? No doubt, if these parents could be made to pay it would be a very good thing; but the experiment had been tried in the reformatories, and how many parents had been got to pay in those cases? It was necessary to give religious instruction, as the only means of reforming those who had fallen into confirmed crime; and those reformatories were almost in every case carried on by religious denominations, while the public had to pay the money for almost all the children. He did hope and trust that hon. Members who had a sincere desire for religious education would put aside sectarian prejudices in regard to this and the 25th clause, and that they would unite in seeing that these children received some religious instruction, which was the only true basis of education.
I wish to say a few words in regard to the Division, in consequence of the form of the Question now about to be put. I wish the Committee clearly to understand the construction which we shall put upon that Motion, and the course that we shall take if that Motion should be carried. There is one observation I may make with satisfaction, and that is—that we have not three courses, but four. There are the opponents of the 25th clause; there are the opponents of the 17th clause; there are those who are opponents of both clauses; and there are those who are the opponents of neither of the clauses. The Question to be put will not allow us directly to distinguish ourselves under our various banners, nor to make any progress towards it, so far as that Question is concerned. The Question to be put is, that "The word 'is' stand part of the Clause." The course we shall adopt in regard to that apparently colourless Motion has been well stated by my right hon. Friend. We shall vote that "is" stand part of the Motion. In that manner we intend to show that it is our wish that both clauses should be maintained. It is our desire to retain 772 both these clauses; but it is possible that the opponents of both—whom I believe to be few—might be largely re-inforced by the opponents of one, so that in one division it might turn out that the opponents of both clauses might have a majority, although the opponents of both clauses might not object to that. After the division the three sections would find themselves in a state of hopeless confusion in the event of our being defeated. In that division we shall vote against both these Amendments. We do not think that one ought to be adopted without the other. I have said all that I have to say on this point, and I hope the attitude of the Government is perfectly intelligible. I shall now venture to make a few remarks on the case itself. With respect to the able speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Dr. Lyon Playfair), he stated that he believed it doubtful whether a person in Scotland—speaking of the tenor of the Scotch Act, which as it was the latest precedent, he took it—he considers it doubtful whether a person receiving the education for his child, and not receiving assistance in any other direction from any person whatever, was thereby constituted a pauper. It appears to me, if any one will take the trouble to read the 69th clause of the Scotch Education Act, he will see that there is no ground for doubt whatever. It is a provision for this description of grant, and entirely apart from the question of pauper relief, and there is no word in the section which can be held to bear upon the question of pauper or no pauper. The other observation I wish to make is this—if we repeal the 25th clause, we shall place the child of the indigent man—whose case was so fully stated by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down—in a worse position than the child of the pauper. Because the child of the indigent man will be subject to compulsion which is absolute; whereas the child of the pauper will be subjected to compulsion limited by the declaration which is contained in that 3rd clause. In that clause there is a distinct reservation in favour of the pauper parent, and in the case of the indigent parent there is no reservation. If, in the division which is about to take place, this state of affairs is brought up, a result will be gained that the House does not contemplate, and 773 with which, I believe, it would be extremely ill-satisfied.
§ MR. BIRLEY
said, that complaints having been made of the lax scale on which the Manchester and Salford School Board had given school relief, he wished to remind the House that this relief was not given merely to the indigent poor, but to paupers. It was given, moreover, with the general approval of the members of the school board, whatever might be their party politics. Lastly, he wished to remind the House that the board had been very successful in carrying out the work intrusted to it, and in a manner satisfactory to the ratepayers. With respect to the amount of school relief given by the board, it did not exceed 10 per cent of the fees paid by the other children attending the elementary schools, and the amount was not increasing.
§ MR. B. SAMUELSON,
with reference to the statement of the Prime Minister that the repeal of the 25th clause would place the indigent parent in a worse position than the pauper, wished to remark that such would not be the case if his Amendment were adopted.
§ SIR DOMINIC CORRIGAN
Mr. Speaker—Sir, I rise to enter my protest very strongly against the doctrine laid down by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh University (Dr. Lyon Playfair), and also by the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. Harcourt), that all society is to be considered as divisible solely into two classes—namely, "paupers" and "non-paupers;" and I am sorry to hear from the hon. Member for Edinburgh University that this is the Scotch law. If it be so, all I will say is, that the sooner it is amended the better. I cannot assent to such a proposition. I think there are three classes in society—namely, the "paupers," the "poor," or distressed industrious, and the "rich," or the ratepayers; and that of the two first classes, the second, or "distressed industrious," is the most deserving of relief, as far as it can be granted without abuse. Some hon. Members of this House, Sir, who have spoken before me, contend that the State should not give any educational aid, except to "paupers"—that all who receive educational aid must accept it as any other "pauper," and having received it must lose their social status, and be subject to all the degradations and dis- 774 qualifications that attach to paupers in the legal sense. I cannot subscribe to such a doctrine, and I can adduce some facts to prove, I hope, to this House that a class of persons who are not "paupers," who are not wealthy, may nevertheless most justly be recognized as fitting to receive aid from public rates, and should not therefore be degraded as paupers. The phrase "poor persons," as distinguished from "paupers," occurs in the Irish Medical Poor Law Act of 1851. In the words of that Act, all "poor persons" are entitled to obtain hospital relief in workhouse hospitals, and in their own homes from dispensaries, when suffering under injury or sickness, and to be vaccinated at the public expense, but are not declared paupers in legal phraseology. They are not subject to any of the disqualifications attached to pauperism, such as being declared ineligible to sit on juries, incompetent to vote at Parliamentary and municipal elections, &c. This system has worked well in Ireland for 21 years to the entire satisfaction of all classes in Ireland. I think it applies in precedent form to the question now before us. It has worked well as to medical relief, and I do not see why it should not work well as to educational relief—namely, that the "poor persons"—that is, the industrious class—should get aid in education as in sickness, and in neither case be degraded into pauperism. If this hard-and-fast line, this rigid principle were to be laid down, that anyone availing himself in any instance or under any circumstances whatever, of parochial or public rates, were, by such act, to be forthwith declared a pauper, with all its disqualifications, I fear that even some hon. Members of this House would not escape "scot free," for in the late epidemic visitation of the small-pox plague some hon. Members of this House, under the very natural terror of .it, had themselves vaccinated at the nearest public vaccine station. Will any one here venture to say that by such act they legally constituted themselves paupers? and yet to this it must come if the principle attempted to be laid down here were to be carried out—namely, that any assistance from a public or poor rate in any and every instance forthwith, constituted the recipient a pauper. It may be said the instance I have adduced is far fetched; but the proper and only way to test a principle 775 is by testing it by an extreme case, and the instance I have adduced I think incontestibly shows that the theory attempted to be defended here is untenable. I now come to another objection to the line taken by the hon. Member for Sunderland and the hon. Member for Birmingham, who would repeal the 25th clause of the Education Act, and would not permit the poor parent to send his children to a denominational school if he received any aid from the State. If those hon. Members were consistent they should bring in a Bill to declare that no rich parents should be permitted to send their children to denominational schools; but they have never attempted and never will attempt that. They allow, for they cannot prevent it, the rich man to educate his child in a denominational school where the child is taught religion and learning together, but if, through reverse of fortune, he becomes poor, they say to him—"We have you down now; as long as you were rich we could not interfere with you; but you are now poor, and we will bring the pressure of poverty to bear on you, and force you to send your children to our secular schools, where they shall get no religious training." This, and such as this, is the principle and action of the Nonconformists, and would be class legislation of the worst kind.
§ MR. CORRANCE
said, they were about to divide on the Question of whether the word "is" was to be included in the Bill; and he wished to know whether, if the word "is" was held to be part of the Bill, it would preclude the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Candlish), or the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford (Mr. Harcourt), from proceeding with their Amendments?
said, it was proposed to omit the word "is" in order to insert the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sunderland. Therefore the question of the maintenance of the word "is" would first be put, and if the Committee should decide to omit it, then the hon. and learned Member for Oxford would move an Amendment upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sunderland, and in case that was carried the Question for the omission of Clause 17 would be put before the Question for the omission of Clause 25.
§ VISCOUNT MAHON
said, be could not give his support to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sunderland.
§ MR. W. FOWLER
said, it had been stated on behalf of the Government that if they were defeated on the word "is," both clauses would be struck out of the Bill.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 200; Noes 98: Majority 102.778
|Adderley, rt. hn. Sir C.||Dowdeswell, W. E.|
|Akroyd, E.||Duff, M. E. G.|
|Amcotts, Col. W. C.||Dundas, J. C.|
|Amphlett, R. P.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Anstruther, Sir R.||Dyke, W. H.|
|Arbuthnot, Major G.||Dyott, Col. R.|
|Arkwright, R.||Edwards, H.|
|Ayrton, rt. hon. A. S.||Egerton, hon. A. F.|
|Barclay, A. C.||Elliot, G.|
|Barttelot, Colonel||Enfield, Viscount|
|Bass, M. T.||Erskine, Admiral J. E.|
|Bates, E.||Ewing, A. Orr-|
|Baxter, rt. hon. W. E.||Feilden, H. M.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Fellowes, E.|
|Bentinck, G. C.||Figgins, J.|
|Benyon, R.||Finch, G. H.|
|Biddulph, M.||Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W.|
|Blennerhassett, Sir R.||Fletcher, I.|
|Bolckow, H. W. F.||Forester, rt. hon. Gen.|
|Bowring, E. A.||Forster, rt. hon. W. E.|
|Brassey, T.||Foster, W. H.|
|Bright, R.||Fortescue, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Bruce, Lord C.||Fortescue, hon. D. F.|
|Bruce, rt. hon. H. A.||Fowler, R. N.|
|Buxton, Sir R. J.||Garnier, J. C.|
|Cameron, D.||Gilpin, Colonel|
|Campbell-Bannerman, H.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Gordon, E. S.|
|Cartwright, W. C.||Gore, J. R. O.|
|Cavendish, Lord F. C.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Cavendish, Lord G.||Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Charley, W. T.||Grant, Colonel hon. J.|
|Clive, Col. hon. G. W.||Gray, Colonel|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Gray, Sir J.|
|Cogan, rt. hon. W. H. F.||Gregory, G. B.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Greville, hon. Captain|
|Coleridge, Sir J. D.||Greville-Nugent, hon. G. F.|
|Corrigan, Sir D.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Cowper-Temple, right||Grey de Wilton, Visc.|
|hon. W.||Grieve, J. J.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Cross, R. A.||Guest, A. E.|
|Cubitt, G.||Guest, M. J.|
|Damer, Capt. Dawson-||Hamilton, Lord G.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Hardy, rt. hon. G.|
|Delahunty, J.||Hartington, Marg. Of|
|Denison, C. B.||Hay, Sir J. C. D.|
|Dimsdale, R.||Henley, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Henley, Lord|
|Hermon, E.||O'Conor, D. M.|
|Heygate, Sir F. W.||Ogilvy, Sir J.|
|Heygate, W. U.||Patten, rt. hon. Col. W.|
|Hick, J.||Peek, H. W.|
|Hidyard, T. B. T.||Peel, A. W.|
|Hogg, J. M.||Phipps, C. P.|
|Holmesdale, Viscount||Pim, J.|
|Holt, J. M.||Plunket, hon. D. R.|
|Hope, A. J. B. B.||Portman, hon. W. H. B.|
|Hoskyns, C. Wren-||Powell, F. S.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Rathbone, W.|
|Hurst, R. H.||Ridley, M. W.|
|Hutton, J.||Round, .J.|
|Jenkinson, Sir G. S.||Russell, Lord A.|
|Jessel, Sir G.||Sackville, S. G. S.|
|Johnstone, Sir H.||Salt, T.|
|Kavanagh, A. MacM.||Sandon, Viscount|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.||Scott, Lord H. J. M. D.|
|Kingscote, Colonel||Scourfield, J. H.|
|Knatchbull-Hugessen,||Seely, C. (Nottingham)|
|right hon. E.||Sherlock, D.|
|Knightley, Sir R.||Simonds, W. B.|
|Lacon, Sir E. H. K.||Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.|
|Laird, J.||Smith, S. G.|
|Lancaster, J.||Stacpoole, W.|
|Langton, W. G.||Stanley, hon. F.|
|Learmonth, A.||Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.|
|Lefevre, G. J. S.||Stone, W. H.|
|Lennox, Lord G. G.||Storks, rt. hon. Sir H. K.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Strutt, hon. H.|
|Liddell, hon. H. G.||Stuart, hon. H. W. V.|
|Lindsay, hon. Col. C.||Sykes, C.|
|Lowe, rt. hon. R.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Lowther, J.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Lowther, hon. W.||Taylor, rt. hon. Col.|
|Lyttelton, hon. C. G.||Tipping, W.|
|Macfie, R. A.||Tollemache, Maj. W. F.|
|Mackintosh, E. W.||Torr, J.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Turner, C.|
|Mahon, Viscount||Verney, Sir H.|
|Matheson, A.||Wait, W. K.|
|Miller, W.||Waterhouse, S.|
|Milles, hon. G. W.||Welby, W. E.|
|Mills, Sir C. H.||Wells, E.|
|Monckton, hon. G.||Wheelhouse, W. S. J.|
|Monk, C. J.||Whitbread, S.|
|Monsell, rt. hon. W.||Winn, R.|
|Morgan, hon. Major||Young, rt. hon. G.|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.|
|Munster, W. F.||TELLERS.|
|Nicholson, W.||Adam, W. P.|
|North, Colonel||Glyn, hon. G. G|
|Anderson, G.||Davies, R.|
|Aytoun, R. S.||Dent, J. D.|
|Baines, E.||Dickinson, S. S.|
|Baker, R. B. W.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Beaumont, H. F.||Dixon, G.|
|Beaumont, Major F.||Eykyn, R.|
|Bentall, E. H.||Fawcett, H.|
|Brewer, Dr.||Finnie, W.|
|Brinckman, Captain||Fitzmaurice, Lord E.|
|Brogden, A.||Fothergill, R.|
|Brown, A. H.||Fowler, W.|
|Carter, R. M.||Gilpin, C.|
|Chadwick, D.||Goldsmid, Sir F.|
|Cowen, Sir J.||Goldsmid, J.|
|Cowper, hon. H. F.||Gourley, E. T.|
|Cunliffc, Sir R. A.||Graham, W.|
|Dalrymple, D.||Harcourt, W. G. G. V. V.|
|Henderson, J.||Norwood, C. M.|
|Herbert, hon. A. E. W.||Onslow, G.|
|Hodgson, K. D.||Otway, A. J.|
|Holland, S.||Palmer, J. H.|
|Holms, J.||Philips, R. N.|
|Illingworth, A.||Playfair, L.|
|James, H.||Potter, E.|
|Johnston, A.||Price, W. E.|
|Kensington, Lord||Reed, C.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Roden, W. S.|
|Lawrence, Sir J. C.||St. Aubyn, Sir J.|
|Lawrence, W.||Samuelson, B.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Samuelson, H. B.|
|Lea, T.||Sartoris, E. J.|
|Leatham, E. A.||Sheridan, H. B.|
|Leeman, G.||Sherriff, A. C.|
|Leith, J. F.||Simon, Mr. Serjeant|
|Lewis, J. D.||Stapleton, J.|
|Locke, J.||Stuart, Colonel|
|Lubbock, Sir J.||Trevelyan, G. O.|
|Lusk, A.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|M'Arthur, W.||Wedderburn, Sir D.|
|M'Clure, T.||Weguelin, T. M.|
|M'Laren, D.||West, H. W.|
|Martin, P. W.||White, J.|
|Melly, G.||Whitwell, J.|
|Miall, E.||Williams, W.|
|Milbank, F. A.||Willyams, E. W. B.|
|Miller, J.||Wingfield, Sir C.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Young, A. W.|
|Morgon, G. O.|
|Morrison, W.||Candlish, J.|
|Mundella, A. J.||Richard, H.|
Bill read the third time, and passed.
§ Mr. J. LOWTHER
gave Notice that at the proper time he should propose an Amendment to repeal the compulsory education section of the Act of 1870.
§ Mr. WELBY
moved in page 1, line 20, after "given," to insert, "by the Guardians by way of weekly or other continuing allowance." As the Bill stood, the giving of out-door relief was coupled with the condition that the child or children of the recipient should be sent to school. There were, however, cases of a temporary character—such as casual medical relief, allowances for funeral expenses, or relief where the head of the family had met with an accident, or was obliged to give up work owing to illness—in which it would work injustice if the parent was obliged for a week or fortnight to take his son from employment in which he might be earning 10s. or 12s. a-week, with the chance at the end of that short time of permanently losing his situation. The Amendment would exempt such cases only from the operation of the Act, and would render it more workable and acceptable throughout the country.
§ MR. CORRANCE
supported the Amendment. The Amendment would remove the absurdity of making the re- 779 lief of a casual pauper dependent upon the education of his child. A certificate from the school ought to be required, and he had given Notice of an Amendment to that effect; but, rather than impede the progress of the Bill, he would accept this Amendment.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he was glad the hon. Member would not press his own Amendment, which would go further than he intended. He (Mr. Forster) had consulted the Poor Law authorities with regard to the proposed words, and they were of opinion that they might be safely introduced into the clause. He agreed that where the parish simply paid funeral expenses, or gave similar relief of that temporary character, that should not necessitate the attendance of the children at school; but whore week after week relief was given to the parents, then the children ought to be sent to school. He suggested that it would be well to introduce after "guardians" the words ''on their order."
§ COLONEL BARTTELOT
said, Guardians would be placed in a difficulty in discriminating as to when children were to be sent to school and when they were not.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he could not see the opening for difficulty, seeing that the clause gave power to Guardians only while parents were in receipt of out-door relief.
§ MR. B. SAMUELSON
said, he thought this was a complete illustration of the evils of sporadic compulsion; the moment relief ceased, the whole thing dropped to the ground.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the clause applied to out-door paupers, and inasmuch as it applied to them, it could not apply to others.
§ Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
§ MR. REED
observed that a very powerful argument had been offered to the Committee that day in favour of infant education. He quite concurred with the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. G. Hardy) as to the value of early training in schools, and the object of the Amendment of which he had given Notice was to secure the attendance of children under five years of age. There was no power to enforce the attendance of children at that early age; but there was this important fact—that at the present time in the metropolis there 780 were 70,440 children between three and five years of age at school. No stronger proof could be offered of the willingness of the parents on the one hand, and the readiness of the children on the other, to attend school even at that early age. The amount of instruction given might not be very great; but the amount of interest shown by the children in the infant-school training was very considerable. There were 139,000 children between the ages he had mentioned in the metropolis, 70,000 of whom attended school, leaving 69,000 who did not. He saw no reason why, when they were removing the obstacles to the education of the children of out-door paupers, they should omit all provision with reference to children between three and five years of age. He would remind the Committee that directly the school board required the attendance of the elder girl of a family she immediately brought the small child, and it was desirable, therefore, that school boards should have power to bring those children into their schools. In London particularly, where the schools were at present practically closed against them, it was most important that they should get these younger children in. He moved, in line 21, to leave out "five" and insert "three."
§ MR. COLLINS
opposed the Amendment, on the ground that five years was the age stated in the original Act.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
admitted that a great deal might be said in support of the proposal of his hon. Friend. It was at first sight very tempting; but he confessed he was afraid that, taking the country throughout, they should be overworking the thing if they attempted to put the Amendment in force. His hon. Friend said that the children liked these schools, and he (Mr. Forster) did not doubt that if the elder children attended school, a great number of the younger children would go with them without making this special provision. It would be much better to leave this matter to voluntary exertions, and not attempt to make it compulsory.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, he did not think that the Government approached this important question in a proper spirit. The object of the Amendment seemed to him to be to provide nursery accommodation throughout the country.
§ Amendment by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. B. SAMUELSON
proposed to add to the clause—If it shall appear to a School Board that the parent of any child, such parent not being in receipt of parochial relief, is unable to pay the school fees of such child, the School Board shall have power to direct that such child shall be received free of charge, or at a reduced charge, in any Public Elementary School within the school district chosen by the parent, and the managers of such school shall be obliged to receive the same under penalty of forfeiture of its Parliamentary Grant: Provided, That no Public Elementary School, not being a School Board School, shall be called upon to receive free of charge, or at a reduced charge, any number of such children exceeding one-twentieth of the number in average attendance during the preceding school year.Notwithstanding the retention of the 25th section, he believed this would be a useful provision.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ Mr. MELLY
objected to the Amendment, because it would impose an additional burden upon the school managers, who would have to collect a larger sum of money than was now required. Besides, the tax would fall for the most part upon one denomination—namely, the Roman Catholics, who educated so many poor children.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
also thought voluntary school managers would have a right to complain of the obligation, and feared it would bring them into collision with school boards. They might be reluctant to admit waifs and strays, whose presence might involve the loss of many children of respectable artizans, through the dislike of such artizans to have their children associate with the class in question. Were it left, however, to their free action, managers might probably arrange for the admission of these children. The proposal, moreover, in country districts, with a poor labouring population, would sap the principle of payment. It would be more straightforward to refuse assistance to voluntary schools than to require their assistance in this way.
objected to so in- 782 tricate an Amendment being proposed without having been printed.
§ Mr. DIXON
said, thought the opponents of the Amendment violated the principle so much insisted upon, that parents should have the right of selecting schools. A school might be a good school, of a parent's denomination, and near his home, and yet the managers were to refuse pauper and indigent children, because they did not like them. Surely we had a right to insist on public elementary schools receiving their grant on conditions which would not allow them to refuse children if there was room for them.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, it was a condition that public elementary schools should not refuse children except on reasonable grounds; but it was another thing to enable boards to force schools to accept children; it would be an interference which would make management impossible.
§ MR. REED
said, that there were 53,000 vacant places in the London schools, and he thought they ought to be utilized by adopting this Amendment. He had brought forward the subject last year; but was answered that the managers of schools did not like to receive these poor children. He only wished that his hon. Friend had got his Amendment printed, as he was sure it would have had great weight with the House. In the city of Sydney each public elementary school was compelled to receive 25 poor children, and no one knew which was the poor child and which the paying pupil. In this country many managers were already taking in poor children and teaching them with other scholars. He trusted that in some form or another means would be found for utilizing the 53,000 vacant places in the metropolis.
§ MR. WYKEHAM MARTIN
said, he did not think the presence of the children of the indigent poor would tend to drive out paying children. His experience as a manager showed that where the master was competent, well-to-do farmers would gladly send their children at five times the ordinary fee to the same school at which the poorest class were taught. He believed that if the Amendment were carried out it would result in great benefit to the nation.
§ MR. BAINES
supported the Amendment. He said, that as the case of 783 Leeds had been frequently referred to, he wished to place at the disposal of the Committee some facts which illustrated the working of the existing Act for the education of the children of out-door paupers. The Guardians of Leeds had always worked Denison's Act with great effect, and there were at the present time in Leeds no less than 685 children who had been sent by them to the public elementary schools of that town. By some it was asserted that the managers of these schools would not be very willing to receive children of this class; but he could state that eight or ten of the very best schools in the town of Leeds had been for years receiving children of this class without one word of objection. In support of the plan proposed by his hon. Friend (Mr. Samuelson) he would say that it would be advantageous to all parties. It was not only a public benefit that these children should be received in these schools; but it was also a positive pecuniary advantage to the schools themselves, for they received for every child that came into the schools the Parliamentary grant. The value of that he believed to be 15s. a-yeas for each child, although some said that it was not more than 12s.; but, taking the lowest amount, it was infinitely better for the schools to take these children, if they had places vacant, on account of the public payment made for them. It was quite obvious that no one could put these children into schools where there were no vacant places. Now, what was the number of the children who, in a town like Leeds, were likely to apply for assistance as indigent children? The number of pauper children in the schools was 685; but the number of indigent children for whom the school board had paid the fees during the course of the past year was only 44, which at 10s. per annum each (the actual payment), made an aggregate of only £22 in the year. The proposal of the hon. Member (Mr. Samuelson) would solve one of the greatest difficulties that they had at present to contend with, for it was quite notorious that this was one of the questions that had kept the country in hot water and strife for years past, and it was most desirable that it should now be satisfactorily settled. He was quite sure that those gentlemen who managed the schools of the Church of England would, if they could get the children and had 784 room for them, be willing to forego the fees. He had often himself in that House expressed his gratitude to the clergy and school managers of the Church of England, and would not willingly do anything in the nature of injustice towards them; but he would call upon them as a matter of justice, of public spirit, and of patriotism, to receive with satisfaction a proposal of this kind, which would save the public money, allay public strife, and cause a great number of children to be provided for at the least possible expense to anyone.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the proposition really was, that they should get rid of the difficulty of the education of those indigent school children by forcing voluntary school managers to take them without payment. True, they would receive the capitation grant; but the education of these children would cost at least 26s., and the sum paid by the Government averaged only 12s. It would not be fair to try and shift this duty, which really belonged to the ratepayers, upon individuals; and an additional difficulty would arise when the school boards had to decide what children had to be admitted free, and which schools should take them. There would be this anomaly—that while schools would receive 12½d. per week for a pauper child they would get nothing for indigent children. His objection to the Amendment was, that it would give to the school boards that kind of control over managers which could never work well.
§ Amendment amended, by adding, at the end thereof, the words "and provided that there be room in such Public Elementary School."—(Mr. Dixon.)
§ SIR RAINALD KNIGHTLEY
said, he thought the Amendment just proposed would make the confusion worse confounded. If they went to a division very few Members would know what they were voting about.
§ MR. B. SAMUELSON
said, he was willing to accept the additional Amendment of the hon. Member for Birmingham.
§ MR. COLLINS
remarked that more money would be paid for teaching religion in Board schools than in non-Board schools. He thought that denominational schools were already very hardly used, and the adoption of this Amendment would create an additional injustice.
§ MR. M'ARTHUR
said, he hoped his hon. Friend the Member for Banbury would press his Amendment to a division. It was recommended by two individuals of eminence, the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), and the Bishop of Manchester.
§ Question put, "That the words, as amended, be added at the end of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 165: Majority 110.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this day.
§ It being now Seven of the clock, the House suspended its sitting.
§ The House resumed its sitting at Nine of the clock.