HC Deb 14 July 1874 vol 220 cc1625-716

Order for Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, expressed his regret that it should be brought forward at so late a period of the Session, adding that the measure had been long expected; but he would remind the House that the Endowed Schools Commission Act Amendment Bill and the Elementary Education Act Amendment Bill, both similar measures of great importance, were brought forward by the late Government last Session at a still later period, and as, by the Act of last Session, the Endowed Schools Commission and its powers, unless renewed, would altogether expire on the 31st of December in this year, the Government was obliged to bring forward a measure even at this late period: for the House would well understand that the Government could not consent to allow this great work to drop, as in common with the party with which they acted they had been most anxious for the increased usefulness and wise reform of our great educational endowments in the interests of all classes of the community. In "another place" too, a very definite notice had been given last Session that an amending Act would this year be proposed. Before he proceeded to criticize, as he was afraid he would find it to be his duty to do, the proceedings of the three distinguished individuals who constituted the Endowed Schools Commission, he wished to observe that nobody was more alive than he was to the ability, unwearied energy, and self-devotion which they had exhibited. Indeed, it would be difficult to find any three gentlemen whose personal character stood higher, and it was on their acts in their capacity as Commissioners solely that he desired to comment. He would do all in his power to rob his remarks of anything like personal blame, which he was the last person to intend, and he should therefore speak of them in the impersonal character of the Commission. It would be well to look back for a moment on some circumstances connected with the Endowed Schools Inquiry Commission of 1866, which was presided over by Lord Taunton, and included the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and the present Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Great zeal was shown in carrying out the inquiry, and it resulted in the introduction by his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), as representing the late Government, of the Endowed Schools Bill of 1869. Nobody could consider the Report of the Commission, or the aims of the Bill of 1869, without feeling that a very noble object was then brought forward to the view of the country. The state of our ancient endowed schools was proved to be most unsatisfactory. Abuses abounded on all sides. Masters were receiving great emoluments, although very few students attended the schools; and in many cases the original objects of the foundations had almost disappeared. The old grammar schools, moreover, were, in fact, out of date, being unsuited to the wants of the present day. What the Commission proposed, and what the Bill to a great extent sought to carry out, was a reform of the existing abuses. It was also intended to classify the endowed schools of the country, so as to adapt them to the different classes of the population which required them; for it was found that while attention had been bestowed upon the wants of the class who availed themselves of the great public schools, and upon the wants of the class who made use of the elementary schools of the country, the great mass of the varying middle class of the people was very much left destitute of proper school accommodation. Under these circumstances it was proposed to classify the schools of the different parts of the country so as to suit, first, those of the upper middle classes who could not make use of the public schools; secondly, the shopkeeping and farming classes; and thirdly, the higher class of mechanics and artizans and the small farmers and small trades people of the country. Another object of the Bill was to widen and quicken the whole scheme of teaching. English literature, mathematics, science, and other similar subjects were either entirely, or to a great extent, neglected in these schools, and it was earnestly desired that the most modern appliances of education should be brought into play. Another object was to provide exhibitions in these middle class schools from the Public Elementary Schools, which would increase the usefulness and popularity of the lower schools, and infuse a new element of life and hope into them, by affording an opportunity to children of superior talent and merit attending them of advancing to a higher position. In all this they were in fact merely carrying out, with the changes which a different age and altered circumstances required, the schemes of the great founders of these institutions, who always desired to utilize for the benefit of the commonwealth, the merit and genius of the country, in whatever rank of life they were found; and it was sad to think that those doors to advancement in life which had been opened so wide by our ancestors had been latterly, by change of circumstances, or by unintentional neglect, almost altogether closed. He now wished to refer to the words which were used on the important occasion when the Bill of 1869 was before Parliament. The right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) said on February 18 of that year— So far as regarded the reorganization of the schools, they proposed that the Bill should be a temporary Bill. They asked for power for three or four years, to make fresh trust-deeds for endowed schools, which should not become law if objected to by either House of Parliament." [3 Hansard, cxciv. 115.] On March 15 the same right hon. Gentleman used these memorable words— Now I wish to assure them (the good schools) and the House that it is not for the good schools that the Bill is framed. We cannot, of course, exempt such schools by name, for in that case there would be no end to endeavours to obtain it; but schools which are well managed need fear nothing from the operation of a Bill which is to introduce good management."—[Ibid., 1362–3.] Further on he said— We must be provided with power to give the schools, in many cases, fresh governing bodies." [Ibid., 1367.] and he again referred to the temporary character of the measure, using the words that it was— A temporary Bill for the reform and re-organization of endowed schools, and when it has been completed—in perhaps, about four or five years—we shall be in a very different position from what we are now, and we shall know what powers are necessary."—[Ibid., 1372.] He quoted those passages in order to remind hon. Members of the very mild way in which the Bill was introduced in the House of Commons, and to prove that there was nothing to warn the country of the position the Commission afterwards assumed, or to lead the House to understand that it was intended to partake almost of the character of a permanent office. Turning to the remarks of Lord Ripon in "another place," he found the words— No doubt there are some schools that are working extremely well, and which could not probably be advantageously interfered with."—[3 Hansard, cxcvii. 608.] And again— It will be the duty of the Commissioners to pay every respect to the claims of the particular localities in which these charities exist."—[Ibid., 611.] Altogether, everything which was done or said, tended to disarm the suspicion of the country, and it was disarmed. Little was it thought, and little could it have been suspected, that the measure so introduced, and passed a short time afterwards, would in its working be discovered to be of such a character as to be called, even by Lord Lyttelton, the Chairman of the Commission appointed under it, a "drastic measure." No doubt hopes were entertained in some quarters of a different nature from those expressed in this House; but nothing, or little, was said in public about these expectations. A paper had this year been issued by the Central Nonconformist Committee, in which it was asserted that— The Act of 1869 established the principle that the endowed schools belonged to the nation, and not to the Established Church. He did not remember having heard this stated in the House when the Bill was introduced, nor did he believe that anybody with the responsibilities of a Member of Government would ever have assented to the principle that all the endowed schools were to belong to the nation, and not to the Established Church. On the contrary, the principle on which the Bill was founded was that the main designs of the founders should be adhered to, whatever the denomination might be; and the chief question at issue had been, what evidence should be accepted as proving the intentions of the founders. Well, the Bill was brought forward at a period of our Parliamentary history when the party to which he had the honour to belong was almost stunned by recent overwhelming and almost unparalleled defeat, when it was felt that many of the chief institutions of the country were endangered, and when even the House of Lords was made the subject of thinly-concealed threats from leading Members of the Liberal party then in power. The Conservatives were dazed by the prospect which lay before the country, and submitted, no doubt, to things which they would even then have struggled against, if they had not been in the first discouragement of the enormous majority against them, which destroyed, so to speak, for the first Session of the new Parliament, the nerve of the party. It was also to be borne in mind that in connection with this Bill, their feelings were worked upon by the stories of the undoubted abuses which had arisen in the administration of the school endowments, and in their anxiety to improve the wretched state of things which the Schools Inquiry Commission had revealed, they accepted with too slight an examination of what was really a most complicated subject, the scheme proposed by the Government. A general zeal to reform these abuses was awakened all over the country, and the Conservatives cordially joined in the movement. In the counties of York, Gloucester, Northampton, Leicester, and Devon, great committees were formed, composed of the leading men of all parties, who proposed well-considered general schemes for the rearrangement of all their county grammar schools. Well indeed, would it have been if those comprehensive schemes, which had been drawn up with great care, had been adopted instead of those devised by the Commission, for then those counties, at any rate, would by this time have been covered with flourishing schools; but for some cause or other, little heed was paid to the recommendations of these important committees, and the Commission proceeded chiefly according to their own views. In 1873, the four years for which the Commissioners under the Act were appointed, expired, and the right hon. Member for Bradford, quite unasked, proposed to the House that there should be a Committee of Inquiry as to the way in which they had done their work. He did so without a word of praise in regard to the conduct of the Commission, and indeed there was no enthusiasm shown for the Commission by any hon. Member opposite, or by anybody in the House. He would quote the names of all who spoke on the subject. The hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) said— People were very much dissatisfied with the body of the Commissioners; in fact, they had no confidence in them at all."—[3 Hansard, ccxiv. 290.] The hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. Goldney) spoke against them; the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Melly) had no word of praise to bestow; and Mr. Miall said "the Act had been spoilt in its administration." The only word of sympathy with the labours of the Commission came from Mr. Hinde Palmer. The Commissioners had great cause to complain of the treatment they had received from their friends. In moving for the Committee, the right hon. Member for Bradford said— The House, before re-granting those considerable powers, would naturally expect an account of the manner in which they had been exercised."—[Ibid., 289.] But in the Report which he (Mr. Forster) proposed to the Committee for adoption, there was no account whatever given of the manner in which they had fulfilled their duties. When the Report came to be considered, it was, however, proposed by another Member of the Committee to add the following words:— The published opinions of some of the Commissioners on the subject of endowments have caused alarm, and have in some cases seriously impeded the harmonious action which might otherwise have been secured between them and the Governing Bodies of the charities with which they have had to deal. So far the addition was accepted by all parties in the Committee over which the right hon. Member for Bradford had supreme control. It went on as follows:— Their own experience as they state in attempting to work the Act has convinced them that the country was hardly prepared for its reception, and it is to be regretted that some of the changes proposed by them, especially in the case of certain good schools, should have been such as to hinder the hearty co-operation of those who had heretofore worked to render them efficient. On a division this part was carried by 12 to 6. It was left to Mr. Powell, formerly M.P. for the West Riding of Yorkshire—whose absence from the House they all much regretted—to move that a few words of praise of the Commissioners be added. He proposed the following passage:— It must, however, be acknowledged that much sound and good work has been done. Many schools which had fallen into decay have already received new life and become valuable and prosperous institutions; while the governors of other schools act with energy in the exercise of the new powers given by the schemes, and are diligently making such preparations as are necessary preliminaries to educational work on an enlarged scale. Nor are instances wanting where the governors of endowed schools, convinced that reforms are urgently required, have themselves requested the Commissioners to frame schemes at the earliest date. This proposal being carried by 12 to 6, his hon. Friend the Member for West Kent (Mr. J. G. Talbot) proposed another addition, as follows:— There is reason to hope that the Commissioners, acting under more clearly defined powers, will provide the means of restoring the grammar schools to their ancient usefulness, and will thus at once carry out, in an effective manner, the real intentions of the donors, and furnish the best security for the permanence of their foundations," (Carried by 10 to 8.) The only words of praise, therefore came from Conservative Members, and the blame was accepted without the slightest resistance by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster). Then came the Bill of last year, following on the Report of the Committee, and introduced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Forster), as the organ of the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone). Serious modifications were made by this Bill in the Act of 1869, thus practically acknowledging the justice of the complaints made of it; and the duration of the Commission was only extended for three years—a time obviously inadequate for the completion of the work, without any proposal for accelerating their procedure by an increased Staff—thus clearly showing a want of confidence in the Commission. On the discussion respecting this measure, some few hon. Members opposite at last came to the rescue of the Commission, though in a halting manner, and with slight approval of the Bill produced by the then Government. His hon. Friend the Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) complained that the Bill would upset a principle which his friends had fought hard to establish. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), though he thought the Commissioners were to be blamed, said— All the changes which the Bill makes are in a direction which is the opposite of that in which we look."—[3 Hansard, ccxvi. 1730.] And the hon. and learned Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) said, he would prefer that the Commissioners should not be heard of again. Mr. Illingworth said— 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 that it should be continued in its present mutilated form."—[Ibid., 734.] Then, the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for Bradford contended that though the Commissioners did make a few mistakes, they had discharged their duty with strict impartiality. Nobody supposed they had not discharged their duty with the best intentions, according to their views. Mr. Hinde Palmer and Mr. Powell said they had committed many mistakes, but had done some good. The hon. Member for Fins-bury (Mr. Torrens) said the Commissioners had usurped powers which Parliament had not given them. Then came the only direct and cordial eulogy which the Commission obtained, when Mr. A. Johnston said the work done by the Commissioners was welcome, popular, and satisfactory. He believed he had now quoted the opinions respecting the Commission of all the hon. Members who spoke last year. Then the Bill went to the House of Lords, and the duration of the Commission was limited to one year—surely, a grave expression of distrust of the Commission. No division was taken there by the Government, and the change was accepted with only one expression of regret from Lord Ripon. In the House of Commons not only did the right hon. Member for Bradford not divide the House upon the prolongation of the powers of the Commission for only one year, but he (Viscount Sandon) could not find that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster) expressed even a regret at this most serious reflection upon the mode in which the Commission had carried out the Act. He doubted not, however, that, during this evening's discussion, now that the invidious duty had fallen to the Government of allowing the Commissioners' powers to expire this year, and of appointing others in their stead, the right hon. Gentleman himself, and hon. Gentlemen opposite, would adopt a very different tone, and would overwhelm them with expressions of approval and proffers of service when it was too late. He (Viscount Sandon) thought he should be hardly wrong in saying that the influence of the Commission for future work, after all that had passed, was dead and gone; for a work of this kind would inevitably come to a dead-lock unless the Commission had the general support of the nation, or, at any rate, of the friends of the political party which brought it into existence; and that, he thought, he had proved it had not. It must, also, be remembered that Lord Lyttelton himself had said, in his evidence, that almost everything depended upon the co-operation of the Trustees of these schools; and had asserted, as the result of his four years' experience of the working of the Act, that it was difficult to say how long, under the provisions of this Act of 1869, schemes might not be postponed, if the Trustees opposed; and, in fact, whether they could not, if hostile, prevent reforms altogether. Now, it was well known, that it was chiefly with the charities under willing Trustees that the Commission had principally, or at any rate to a large extent, at present, dealt. Even with these, great difficulties had in many cases arisen with the Commissioners. How could it be then supposed that the Commissioners, having lost—as he feared must be acknowledged to be the case—the support of their own party as well as of the country generally, would be able to deal with the Trustees of the great majority of charities yet untouched, many of whom were either hostile, or alarmed by their doctrines? The Commission, then, had been slain partly by the open hostility of political Nonconformists, and partly by the coldness and hostility of their own political friends. They were slain by the coldness of their own familiar friend the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford; but, above all, they were slain by the force of public opinion. Now, what course ought the Government to take with regard to the Commission, after it had been condemned by the opinion of the country and that of their own friends? Could the Government give life to a body which, in the opinion of its own friends and of the country, was dead? Let them review the work done by the Commission in the last four and a-half years from its commencement, and judge from the past whether there was any hope of this great reform being carried through in reasonable time under the present organization and system. The approximate number of grammar schools which had to be dealt with under the Act of 1869 was 800, and their income was £336,000; but the schemes which had passed with reference to the management of grammar schools were only 74, and the income of the grammar schools to which those schemes referred was £44,000, leaving 726 grammar schools, the income of which was £292,000. Then, hon. Members would naturally ask, if there were not many cases in a forward state, but for which schemes had not actually been passed. There were 66 schemes—of which 26 were in the Education Department, and had been published—with a total income of £82,000. These schemes, however, had not, by any means, come to the end of their troubled career, inasmuch as many of them would, according to previous experience, be opposed by the localities interested, as soon as they were published. Giving the Commission the benefit of all these schemes, there were still 660 grammar schools, with an income of £210,000, for which no scheme had been prepared. There were 90 cases where Assistant Commissioners had reported, but hardly a fraction had any printed scheme prepared for them. Therefore, after four years' work, there remained 660 grammar schools comparatively untouched. The number of educational endowed charities, other than grammar schools, was 370, with an income of £180,000. Of these, 89 schemes had passed, with an income of £35,000, leaving 281 still without finished schemes. There were, however, 42 besides, that were published in the Education Department, representing an income of £32,000. Therefore, 239 of those endowments, with an income of £113,000, remained totally untouched. As to doles and apprentice fees, which were applicable to educational purposes under the 30th section of the Endowed School Commission Act, 1869, and the number of which was unknown, but the total income of which was £218,000, 53 schemes had passed, with an income of £6,000, and 30 were pending, with an income of £3,400. This statement, then, showed, as far as mere figures could do, the work done during these four years by the Commission; and also the great proportion of these endowments which remained yet untouched and requiring reform. It must, also, be remembered that, as to the great bulk of the remaining cases which the Commission had power to deal with, no application had been made to them by the localities to prepare schemes, and the presumption was that the majority of the large number of remaining cases would be little inclined to welcome its interference, or to co-operate with it. The question, therefore, was, could the Commission be revived? Would the Government be justified, in view of the great public interests involved, in giving a fresh lease of life to the present Commission? Could they restore to the Commission the confidence of the country? Surely, it was utterly hopeless to expect that the Commission could deal with the cases that remained to be disposed of, if they had not the confidence of the country, and not even of their own friends. At the rate at which the Commission had proceeded with reference to the institutions which they were authorized to deal with, 20 or 25 years would be required by them to deal with those that remained. He believed hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House would admit that nothing would be more disastrous than such a state of things as that—namely, that this great work should be spread over a large number of years, so that it should take nearly the life of a generation to reform and restore these schools of the middle classes, while the education of those classes concerned with the Public Elementary Schools was being urged forward with all speed. Various plans had been proposed for carrying on the work, supposing the Endowed Schools Commission was allowed to expire, as it would by the Act of last year, in December 1874; but for various reasons they were inadmissible. It had, however, been suggested, in quarters deserving all respect, that the work of the Commission should be transferred to the Education Department; but everybody who had inquired into the working of that Department must know it would be impossible for the Lord President and himself to undertake the constant supervision of all these schemes which were absolutely necessary. The trustees in every scheme almost always desired interviews with the Commissioners. In the same way the trustees of these 500 or more grammar schools would require to hold interviews during the next five years with the Lord President and himself. Besides, all the difficulties of the ecclesiastical side of the question would be introduced into the Education Department. The labour of the Department would thus be enormously increased, and it would be impossible to carry out the work of elementary education, which already required the full attention of the Lord President and himself. Again, there would be lost that invaluable power of revision to which his right hon. Friend opposite attached great importance when he was at the head of the Education Department last year. Certainly it was of great importance to have a Court of Revision to which parties might appeal in order to avoid the long delay caused by laying a scheme for two months on the Table of the House. Well, the only proposal apparently worthy of consideration which remained was to transfer the powers of the Endowed Schools Commission to the Charity Commissioners. There was a great deal to be said in favour of this plan. In the first place, one great point in favour of the proposal was, that the Schools Inquiry Commission had recommended that this very work should be intrusted to the Charity Commissioners, and hon. Members would undoubtedly attach great weight to the recommendations of so distinguished a body. Again, he could not forget that his right hon. Friend opposite had spoken in high terms of praise of the Charity Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman remarked that they had exercised their power with the greatest conscientiousness and care, and indeed, they had given satisfaction in all parts of the country by the way in which they had performed their difficult and delicate task. The Charity Commissioners were gentlemen of great experience and judgment, and of known moderation. Another point in favour of this plan was that, under the Endowed Schools Act itself, as it now stood, the Charity Commissioners had to make any alterations which were required in the final schemes passed by the Endowed Schools Commission, after they had received the Royal Assent, and that they had been largely engaged in the exercise of that power. In all new schemes a provision was inserted that such alterations as were needed should be made by the Charity Commissioners, and surely the experience thus acquired would give them an advantage in framing original schemes; and it was needless to observe that much delay and vexation would be avoided by combining these two Commissions, and getting rid of their somewhat jarring and uncertain jurisdiction. Besides, Her Majesty's Government thought the appointment of the Charity Commissioners would be very acceptable to a large body of the Nonconformists, on account of the large use they had made of the ordinary powers with which they had been for sonic years intrusted. He held in his hands a Return of all the orders made by the Charity Commissioners during the last 10 years with regard to schemes for endowments, alterations of trustees, &c, of Nonconformist bodies. During that period no fewer than 854 of such schemes had passed through the Commission. Moreover, the Nonconformists manifested a growing confidence in the Charity Commissioners, for whereas between April and December, 1873, 87 schemes had been submitted to them by Nonconformist bodies, in the early months of this year 60 schemes had already been presented. He had also heard from many quarters statements to the same effect, and he must say that in any matter connected with this Act, although some parts of the treatment of it by the present Government, in the Bill before the House, might not be acceptable to his Nonconformist friends, yet it would always be a great consideration with him to do all he possibly could to consult their feelings and to fulfil their just wishes. The Government, therefore, believed that for these reasons the most advantageous course, with a view to the success of the work, would be to transfer the powers of the Endowed Schools Commission to the Charity Commission. He would now proceed to explain the arrangements consequent upon the change. One Charity Commissioner's place was now vacant, and it was proposed at once to fill it up. It was also intended to add two fresh members for five years. It was also hoped that the staff of the Endowed School Commissioners would give their valuable aid to the Charity Commissioners. Nobody could speak too highly of the talent and zeal of the Assistant Commissioners, and he only wished more licence had been left to those gentlemen to work out the schemes themselves, and that loss of the work had been concentrated in the three Head Commissioners. The original scheme of the Commissioners had been to divide the country into certain districts and to assign to particular counties certain Assistant Commissioners; but in point of fact very few counties had been assigned in this way. In the opinion of the Government, a great ultimate saving to the country would be effected, and the work of bringing these reforms to a successful termination as soon as possible might be accomplished, if as many Assistant Commissioners were appointed for five years as would allow of the whole country being mapped out, so that the work might be going on at the same time all over the land. The Government had reason to believe that if they acted in this way, with a vigorous Commission guided by the experience of the distinguished Gentleman who now presided over the Charity Commission, they might look confidently forward to bringing the matter to an end in five years. With regard to the changes in the Act, there were two questions which happily were no longer matters of dispute, because their principles had been entirely settled by the Act of 1869, which was passed under the guidance and by the direction of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The first matter which might be put aside as having been settled was, that we should not act by the founder's wishes beyond the limit of 50 years after his death. This was put out of dispute by the Act of 1869. Again, there was another question which had been removed out of the field of discussion—namely, the opinion of some hon. Gentlemen that we ought to disallow the founders' wishes with regard to Church schools if made prior to the Toleration Act. This was put out of the field of discussion by the 19th clause of the Act introduced by his right hon. Friend opposite, which provided that the founder's wishes, when clearly and unmistakeably proved, should hold good as to the maintenance of the denominational character of the school, even where the endowment was made before the Toleration Act, and at however early a period of our history. No one, of course, could be unaware that some persons held that a founder's wishes should only hold good for 50 years after his death, and that others, not holding this extreme view, were of opinion that Church School Endowments made before the Toleration Act belonged not specially to the Church, but to all religious communions alike. These were two views with respect to which some hon. Members of the Liberal party had felt keenly, but they were, on the present occasion, out of the field of argument; the former Government, and hon. Gentlemen opposite, having by their Acts of Parliament in 1869, and again in 1873, committed themselves against them, inasmuch as it was determined by an Act passed when the Liberal party had a majority of 120 in the House of Commons that those views should not be adopted. Consequently the changes now proposed by the Government did not affect the principles of the Acts as laid down and passed by the previous Government, but were only questions of degree. What, then, were the changes proposed to be introduced into the Act? The Government had thought it proper to recite once more in the Preamble of the Bill what were the main intentions of the founders, which both parties were agreed to stand by. There was hardly an ancient foundation, as was stated by Dr. Temple, the Bishop of Exeter, in his evidence, which was not expressly intended, as was shown by their trust deeds, to bring up children to do good service to God in Church and State. The Government thought that desire especially ought to be respected in the changes which were made in these schools, and therefore proposed to recite in the Preamble—though the term, a liberal education, was admitted necessarily to include the teaching of religion—their distinct desire to give not merely a liberal but a religious education; so as to place the intention of the country beyond dispute. Then with regard to the famous Clause 19. That clause provided that cases of undoubted denominational endowment should be exempted from the operation of Clauses 16, 17, and 18. The 16th clause was of no importance, but the 17th provided that it should be inserted in the new trust deeds that no one should be disqualified from being on the Governing Body on account of his religious opinions, and no man should be disqualified from being a master on account of his not being in Holy Orders. Her Majesty's Government did not propose, any more than the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that the members of the Governing Bodies or the master should necessarily be of a particular creed, but only that, wherever the intentions of the founder as to the denominational character of the school could be really ascertained, they ought to fairly follow out the intentions of the founder, by preserving generally that denominational character. That was the change which Her Majesty's Government proposed. They believed that great, though, to a large extent, unintentional, injustice had been inflicted by the extraordinary wording and operation of Clause 19, and also by the interpretation put upon it. Nor were they at all peculiar in thinking so. Mr. Roby, the second Endowed Schools Commissioner, an unimpeachable witness, said— I think Clause 19 leaves out an immense number of endowments, which, according to any ordinary rules, must be considered to belong to the Church of England, and it is rather an awkward clause to work. And, again, Lord Lyttelton said— I conceive this section to be untenable as it stands, on any ground of sound reason. Previous authorities spoke a priori, but with none of the actual experience we have had in abundance. Being bound to construe Section 19 strictly, the result has been nothing less than an absurdity. We have continually been led to apply the section to founder A because he happened to use words plainly within its term, and to refuse to do so in the case of founder B because he did not happen to do so; while all the time no human being could doubt that A and B meant the same thing. And Lord Lyttelton went on to say— It seems to me that one of two things ought to be done; either the will of the founder and its observance must be respected by us, without our being tied down to such minute precision as is now to be found in the section; either we must be allowed to revert to the ancient practice of Chancery, and satisfy ourselves by the best evidence we can find as to what the founder really wished and meant, or we must be directed to extend the preamble of the Act to all cases whatsoever, … and practically subject to a limit of time to interpret the wills of the founders, as intending simply the general extension of a liberal education. My conviction is in favour of the latter view. But Her Majesty's late Government, in the plenitude of their power and with a triumphant majority of 120 at their back, had declined to adopt in their legislation the latter view, of which Lord Lyttelton had so frankly declared himself in favour. Further, Lord Lyttelton said in July, 1873, when the new Act was before the House of Lords— If Parliament should choose to lay down anything intelligible and specific for the purpose of defining what schools were Church schools, for the guidance of the Commissioners, he believed they would have no objection to act on it; but without some such further definition he did not know what a Church school was." [3 Hansard ccxvii. 1317.] showing, that even by the Act of last Session, the absurdity of Clause 19, and its unjust working were not his opinion removed. Canon Robinson, the third Endowed Schools Commissioner, also, in his valuable Paper in the Appendix to the Report of the Select Committee of last year, said— The illustrations which have been given are enough to show that the operation of Section 19 is, as has been intimated, arbitrary and inconsistent; recognizing, indeed, the principle of a distinction between denominational and undenominational schools, but hardly giving effect to it in an adequate or satisfactory way. The extracts he had quoted showed that the Commissioners complained bitterly of the action of the 19th clause, and united in considering it a practical absurdity. To quote many cases of the hardship which had arisen from the operation of this clause would weary the House; but hon. Members were probably aware that there were hundreds of schools founded by distinguished ecclesiastics and others who enjoined that the children should go to church, or that the statutes should be altered only by the Bishop or some Church authority, in which such regulations had been considered insufficient to preserve that Church character of the schools, which they had maintained for centuries. Her Majesty's Government, therefore, proposed to take any evidence which would fairly show what the mind of the founder was, and to act upon it. If they found, for instance, that the attendance of the scholars at the worship of a particular church was enjoined, that the master, the Governing Body, or the majority of the electors should belong to a particular denomination, they would hold all that as good evidence of the intention of the founder as to the character of the school. The next change was, when the intentions of the founder had been ascertained, to make provision, independently of the fluctuating opinions of the new Governing Body, that the teaching of the school should be in accordance with the will of the founder. Everything seemed to be in favour of taking such a course, once Parliament had committed itself to the principle that the founder's wishes were to be carried out. Then he came to the question of certain schools where we had no documents to show what the intentions of the founders were. Proposals had been made from various quarters that 25 years' usage of a particular kind of teaching should be held to fix the character of the school; but the Government had thought it right to propose that a user of 100 years should fix the character of the teaching of the school—not for all the children, but for the children who belonged to the particular denomination. He believed this provision would remove a vast amount of heart-burning which he found on inquiry had been produced, and would give great contentment in the country generally. The Government had thought it right to re-enact the Conscience Clause for all the endowed day schools. All those schools would be open to all the inhabitants of the localities in which they were placed, and they might withdraw their children freely from the religious teaching and observances. The Government had gone further in this respect than the original Act, for they proposed that the Conscience Clause should attach to all the endowed elementary schools affected by this Act. They considered that the principle of a Conscience Clause had been adopted once for all for the educational endowments of the country. These were the changes which Her Majesty's Government proposed, and they might thus be summed up. In the first place, Her Majesty's Government was of opinion that, as far as their power of carrying out in the future the needful reforms was concerned, the Commission was dead. Nobody, he thought, on consideration, could deny it or assert that it was possible, after all that had passed, to recall it to life. In the treatment of the endowed schools' question it could not be denied that there were certain marked points of difference between the two sides of the House. The late Government had disregarded the wishes of the founders as much as they dared; hon. Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side respected the wishes of the founders as much as they could consistently with the requirements of modern society and modern feeling. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had ridden rough-shod over the traditions and feelings of localities; it was the business of Her Majesty's Government to consult both those traditions and those feelings, and to draw the country with them instead of setting it against them. Hon. Gentlemen opposite left religious teaching to the chance majority of the Governing Body, and with the experience they had had of what a chance majority of one or two could do to shut out religious teaching from the board schools of one of the largest constituencies as well as from those of some other towns, Her Majesty's Government felt they were only acting in accordance with the wishes of the country when they made provision that religious teaching should be given and perpetuated in the endowed schools of the country. They were thus acting in accordance with the feelings widely expressed at the late General Election, for he believed the verdict of the country was as much against the late Government upon this subject as it was upon others. They had, unfortunately, left to the present Government an injured cause. Four years ago the whole feeling of the country was with the late Government in the desire to reform and put fresh life into the old endowments; now, by the way the matter had been dealt with, the feeling of the country had turned round, and it would require the greatest delicacy of handling as well as the greatest vigour to bring it round once more. They desired once more to lift up the feeling of the country on that subject, to put fresh life into those old and useful institutions bequeathed to them by great and good men who had left them a bright example in times gone by. With regard to that matter as affecting the Church, they wished to see justice done to her, and no more. They did not think that any other meed of justice should be dealt out to the Established Church than that which was claimed by all the various Nonconformist Bodies. One of the great objects of his life had been to work with those Bodies and to respect all their interests, feelings, and fair claims; but some of their prominent representatives threw great difficulties in the way of such a course: for he could not help reminding those political Nonconformists, who seized every occasion of announcing their intention to overthrow the national Established Church, that they could not assume the attitude towards the Church, at the same time, both of belligerents and of allies. If they were found fighting against Churchmen, they could not expect from them a brother's treatment. As long as human nature remained what it was, it was utterly impossible that when the guns were actually pointed at the fortress, its defenders should come forward and make a present of their best positions to the enemy. That was a sacrifice which nobody in his senses would be so foolish as to make. It would be now the business of the Government to try to rekindle popular enthusiasm about the reform of those institutions; but they would always remember in their action on that subject that reforms, however well-intentioned and philanthropic; that schemes, however wide and comprehensive, would never be passed in this country unless they carried with them the hearty support and cordial co-operation of the old and haughty race of which they were members, and of that ancient nation to whom they were all proud to belong, which had for centuries been accustomed to self-government in the management of their own local affairs

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Viscount Sandon.)


, in rising to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said, he could assure his noble Friend that it was with sincere regret he found himself opposed to him on that occasion. He was well aware of the difficulty of that question, and that it did not merely apply to elementary education, but equally to the important matter of endowed schools, on which depended, as far as Parliament had to do with it, the secondary education of the country. He had hoped his noble Friend would, quite independently of party, have claimed the support of both sides of the House for a step forward in that matter. But he was compelled to ask the House to protest against that Bill, because the more he studied it the more he was convinced that it was a step backward. He could adduce arguments which he thought hon. Gentlemen opposite could hardly disregard to show that the change of policy now proposed was unwise, re-actionary, and unjust, and the change in administration inexpedient and needless, if not dangerous. The noble Lord said he could not agree with hon. Members on that side who declared that endowed schools belonged to the nation and not to the Church. Now, he opposed the Bill because he was convinced that the noble Lord was attempting to claim for the Established Church—which, after all, was only a denomination, although the largest—schools which really belonged to the nation, and that he was striving so to arrange things that members of that Church should have exclusive control over schools which ought to be open to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects. The noble Lord in his sketch of the early history of that subject made no allusion to the opinion which the School Inquiry Commission formed in regard to what he would call the religious question, for they were driven to a religious question, however they might dislike it, by the wording of that Bill. He himself happened to be on that Commission, and acting upon it, very vigorously and effectively, were two most excellent clergymen, greatly respected by both parties in the Church, the Dean of Chichester and Mr. Thorold. And what was the state of things which they found? They found that the rule with regard to endowed schools was this—that wherever there was no denominational character to show they were Church of England schools, and that the education given in them should be that of the Church of England, the Commission came to the conclusion that the restriction of the trustees of schools to members of the Church of England was the cause of considerable irritation without securing any corresponding advantage. They quoted the instance of Birmingham, observing that the advocates of a reform in the governing body urged with much force that even assuming no charge of partiality could be made out against the members of the Church of England, yet it was a kind of stigma upon half the inhabitants of the town that they should be excluded from all share in the control and management of a most important public institution. In consequence of that, Lord Cranworth's Conscience Clause was inserted in the Bill of 1869. Before that time the onus probandi rested on the Dissenters to prove that the foundation was a Dissenting one; and after that time the onus probandi rested on the denominations, and on the Established Church as well as on the others, to prove that the foundation was a foundation belonging to them; otherwise, it was to be deemed a national school. The House should not forget the unanimity with which that principle was adopted. The Bill was sent to a Select Committee, which most completely discussed its details, and that Bill with that clause and also a clause saying that it should no longer be necessary for the schoolmaster to be in orders, was passed both in that House and the House of Lords with universal assent, without the slightest discussion or disapproval. It was quite true that by Clause 19, to which his noble Friend had frequently alluded, some schools were excepted from the operation of those two clauses; and he wanted the House to follow the exact change which his noble Friend made with regard to those exceptions. That Clause 19 occupied the Select Committee for two or three days; there were many Amendments put to the vote with respect to it; but at last, after concessions on both sides, it was unanimously passed by the Select Committee, and also passed unanimously both in that and in the other House without even an Amendment being put to the vote. The wording of that clause was this. It did not carry out what his noble Friend said it did—namely, that no attention was to be paid to the will of the founder on religious questions, but it simply provided that if the founder evidently intended that the school should belong to a certain denomination, and if the school had gone on in connection with that denomination up to the time of the Act, then it was to be excepted from those two clauses. And it was to be excepted if the scholars were required, by the express terms of the original instrument of foundation—or if the statutes made within 50 years after the founder's death, required them—to be taught according to the doctrines or formularies of the Church of England or any other denomination. It was quite true that in the working of the Act it had been discovered that certain schools, especially those of late foundations, were evidently intended to be denominational, but to which the terms of the clause did not legally apply, because the children were not ordered to be taught particular doctrines. The Select Committee of last year had that fact brought before them, and a clause was introduced explaining Section 19. That explanation, which was passed by the Committee and which received the assent of the House, set forth that if the majority of the Governing Body of a school, or the principal teachers of the school, or the scholars educated by the endowment were required to be members of a particular church, sect, or denomination, then it should be supposed to be a denominational school. But then came in the limitation since the Toleration Act. And now the House had to deal with the change proposed by his noble Friend, which was that the section was to be repealed, and in place of it Section 4 of the present Bill introduced, which first gave the same explanation as was given by the Bill of last year, adding two extensions of the original clause, both of which were very important. The first was that a school was to be made denominational if the scholars were required to go to any particular church, sect or denomination, and if it was also provided that the regulations by which the school was to be governed should be approved or submitted to one of the officers of that church. Further, instead of those provisions taking date from the Toleration Act, they were to take date from the earliest period of history at which endowments would be found. Now, he would tell the Committee what would be the result of the proposed changes. No time in our history had been more fertile in foundations than the reign of Edward VI., from which period we derived some of our best schools. Now, any of those schools in which it happened that the original statute required that children should go to church, or a Bishop's name was mentioned in any way, would become schools under the exclusive management of the Church, so long as his noble Friend could keep his clause in operation. Now, he should like the House to understand to what an extent that might be carried. There were 782 grammar schools in the country, of which number 584 were founded before the passing of the Toleration Act. The present Bill would consequently apply to those 584 schools—of which 35 were pre-Reformation schools founded before the time of Henry VIII.—had it not been the case that 61 of them had had already schemes which had been passed into law. Indeed, he was by no means sure whether, under the wording of the Bill, those schemes which had become law would be safe from its operation. If not, a strong hint would be given to the new Commissioners to introduce fresh schemes, so as to bring about the exclusion of Dissenters from schools which they now possessed. He would remind the Roman Catholic Members that there were in England many of their co-religionists who were deeply interested in the subject. One of the principal schools in the country was the Manchester School. It was one of the eight schools which had been picked out by the School Inquiry Commission for a special Report. That school was founded before the Reformation, and its statutes distinctly ordered that the children should every Wednesday and Friday for ever go two and two together accompanied by the head master, and say the Common Litany and De profundis for the souls of the founders dead as well as of those who were still living, after their decease. Now, he had no doubt that the result of that statute, if his noble Friend carried out the spirit of his Bill, would be, that Roman Catholics would in future be excluded from sitting on the Governing Body of the Manchester School, which was rather unfair, he thought, seeing that the Church which the children were directed to attend was the Roman Catholic Church. The objection was met, he was aware, by the argument that the Church of England was the heir of that Church since the Reformation; but if the question of heirship was raised, he had no doubt that there would be many persons feeling deeply on the question who would reply that the Noncomformists of the present day were as much as the members of the Church of England joint heirs of the common Protestantism of the reign of Edward VI. He would ask the House to consider whether, if because for years before the Toleration Act, before Dissenters could exist in the country or any endowments could be made to Dissenting schools, at a time when there was no Puritan secession, long before the Act of Uniformity—men founding schools naturally provided that a religious education should be given to the children, and that they should go to church, whether the Church of England was therefore entitled to say that those schools were to be denominational schools for ever, and that she had a right to have the exclusive control over them? He thought it would be hard for the friends of the Established Church to assert any claim more likely to be prejudicial to her true interests. Forty-four of the schools to which he was referring were, he might add, established during the Commonwealth, when Independents and Presbyterians had possession of many of the churches. He would now refer to another special regulation, the history of which seemed to him to be rather remarkable. His right hon. Friend the Secretary for War was on the Committee of last year, and brought forward an Amendment which covered the requirement of children going to church, but he said nothing about the regulation which related to approval by an ecclesiastical officer. The first suggestion of that kind had been made by the right hon. Gentleman's Colleague the Marquess of Salisbury, in the other House in connection with the scheme of the Endowed School Commissioners with regard to the Birmingham School. That scheme was opposed by the Governing Body on the ground that religious interests had not been sufficiently considered; but it had never occurred to any one to allude to the mention of the Bishop in the original statute. It was first mentioned by Lord Salisbury, and the words in the statute on the subject were— and that they, the Governors, with the advice of the Bishop of the diocese there for the time being, and from time to time, may make and have power to make fit and wholesome statutes and ordinances concerning and touching the order, government, and direction of the pedagogue and sub-pedagogue and scholars of the aforesaid school for the time being. That was in 1552; and what was there more natural than that any citizen of that day should express a desire that the statute should be submitted to the Bishop whose advice was to be taken as a man of learning and culture? Did it, however, follow from that that the school was to be from all time under the exclusive control of the Church; and that, as the Commissioners stated, such a stigma should rest on the inhabitants of Birmingham as to say that they were not capable of taking part in the government of the school? He wanted to know where the thing was to end? Surely his noble Friend was not going to stop where they now found themselves? Every argument which had been adduced in favour of the change made as to Section 19 of the Act of 1869, could be adduced with greater force for the repeal of the University Tests Act. What did the House of Commons do, and what did the House of Lords assent to? That the Governing Bodies should be open to Dissenters as well as Churchmen. If the new principle was to be carried out logically, we must have a repeal of the University Tests Act. There was a Conscience Clause in the Endowed Schools Act, but the Bill did not adopt the whole of it. It adopted the part relating to exemption from religious observance, but not the part relating to lessons in which religious instruction might be conveyed indirectly—teaching against which the part was given as a remedy. Therefore, the Bill would afford no security against the systematic teaching of religious doctrine in a lesson ostensibly devoted to a secular subject. He did not quite understand Clause 5 as explained by the marginal note. That note spoke of religious instruction and the qualification of masters. There was nothing about masters in the clause; but if the note extended its meaning, it seemed to him to be dangerous. The clause said that scholars were to be instructed in the formularies and doctrines of the Church to which the school was supposed to belong, and if that affected the qualifications of the masters it meant, that in the scheme there was to be an attempt to define their religious opinions, which, from an educational point of view, was a needless and dangerous provision. He did not object to the principle of the 6th clause, which provided for the continuance of religious instruction that had been given for 100 years, but it would have been far better to have left the object to be attained by the Governors themselves. If the Church was in a majority, the Church character of a school would, no doubt, be maintained; but it would be a great disadvantage to all concerned—to Nonconformists, to Churchmen, to parents, and to religious education itself—if a scheme must necessarily provide for dogmatic instruction for a Church of England minority in places where, as in some parts of Wales, the Nonconformists were a preponderating majority. Either the majority must go without religious instruction, or there must be two sets of instructors. It would be better to leave the matter to the common sense of the Governors, who would arrange for Scriptural, without Church of England teaching. In these remarks he trusted he had shown that the policy of the noble Lord in regard to this Bill was, as he had stated at the outset, reactionary and unfair. But the Government might say—"You are are over-rating the change—you are over-rating the consequence. How do you know that the Commissioners will in all cases carry out the Act, and always exclude the Dissenting population from the government of these schools?" Well, he must say that the remarks of the noble Lord with regard to the present Commissioners and his plan with regard to the future did not inspire him with much hope as to the result. The noble Lord had made a strong attack on Lord Lyttelton and his Colleagues. The Education Department had to work in connection with these Gentlemen, and the noble Lord, even in the brief period he had been in office, must have had sufficient personal experience to know whether the charges against them were true or otherwise. The noble Lord, however, had said nothing of his own knowledge to show their incapacity. The noble Lord had tried to bring him (Mr. Forster) in as an accomplice, saying that in the Committee he had supreme control. The fact was that on that Committee the Chairman had no control. What was its composition? There were eight Members, chosen from each side of the House, and he, as Chairman, had the casting vote, but two Members were added afterwards, one from the Conservative benches, and the other Mr. Alderman Lawrence, who certainly was no friend of the Act. True, he did not himself bring forward many propositions; he was careful what propositions he brought forward; and as to what he had said in the debate in this House, the noble Lord was so sensible of the unpleasantness of making out his case that he stopped short of three lines in which he had expressed his great regret that the hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. Illingworth) had accused the Commission of gross partiality, because he maintained the Commission had discharged their duty with strict impartiality. This was an illustration of the manner in which the noble Lord had got up his case. As to what the Commission had done, the House of last Session and the House of this owed much to them for having undertaken such duties. It was one thing to pass a Bill approving a reform; it was another to intrust it to gentlemen to carry out the reform. Everybody on both sides of the House was in favour of the general measure of reform; but when you came to particular cases, there were local objections to the application of general principles. The noble Lord said the Commission was dead, and he should think it was dead with a President and a Vice President who talked about it in the spirit the noble Lord did, and who had maintained that spirit towards it during the last few months. He did not moan to say that in every case the Commissioners had acted with as much wisdom as, with their present experience, they might have acted; but the charge against them was very much one of words—words spoken by a gentleman of great ability, who had served his country in India, and answers given during a long cross-examination by Mr. Roby, one of the ablest and sincerest men he ever came in contact with. His private opinions were frankly stated, and they were then industriously circulated throughout the country as the opinions of the Commissioners, which would guide them in all their acts. It had been stated over and over again that Parliament had had no opportunity of considering their schemes, and that a few Conservative Peers had secured such opportunity in one or two cases; but what was the fact? Why, 200 schemes had lain for 40 days on the Tables of both Houses, and only 10 were challenged and eight rejected in the Upper, and only two in that House, and they were both maintained. The noble Lord had given the House the impression that all the managers were opposed to the action of the Commissioners, and that it was impossible for them to go on working together. But what were the facts? There had been friendly negotiation and co-operation with the Commissioners in the large majority of districts with which they had had to deal, as in Yorkshire, Lancashire, in Birmingham, and elsewhere. At Chester, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners gave £5,000 to the new endowment: and many other similar instances might be mentioned. As to his own district (Bradford), he was able to say that nothing could have been worse than the condition of the endowed schools there before the work of the Commission began, and that nothing could be better than their condition now. The noble Lord seemed rather to laugh at the idea of Mr. Powell speaking approvingly of the Commission; but Mr. Powell could not, as an honest man, standing before his constituents as a Member for the West Riding, have done otherwise, for it was an acknowledged fact throughout the district that the Commission had done immense service, and that great reforms had been accomplished. The same might be said of Warwickshire and Staffordshire. The difficulties of the Commission had arisen in a great measure from the fact that it had ventured to attack the City of London. Yet even there it had met with some success, for it had received the heartiest co-operation from several of the largest and wealthiest of the corporations, including the Grocers', Haberdashers', Brewers', and Merchant Taylors'. The noble Lord had repeated certain words of his (Mr. Forster's) which had been oftener quoted than any others he had ever used, and appeared to think that a great deal of the failure of the Commission was due to its having been abetted by Lord Ripon and himself in departing from the assurance which had been given to the effect that no good school need fear the operation of the measure of 1869. He was ready to affirm these words, but he had not meant in using them, as the noble Lord seemed to think, that the good schools would not be dealt with by the Commission. The noble Lord had himself stated that one of the objects of the scheme of 1869 was to classify the schools of the different counties into grades, and in order to do this it would be necessary to interfere in some measure with the whole of the schools. To a great extent the good schools have been benefited by this interference. With regard to the Charity Commissioners, to whom it was proposed to transfer the duties of the Endowed Schools Commissioners, he was aware that Sir James Hill and his colleague, Mr. Martin, had done their work with great ability, knowledge, and industry; but, notwithstanding this, he did not approve the transfer. He was not alone in this opinion. There had not been time for many bodies of trustees to come to resolutions on the subject; but he had that evening received a copy as followed, of a resolution passed by the Governors of Dulwich College on the 14th instant— That this Board desires to record its disapproval of the Endowed Schools Acts Amendment Bill, so far as it transfers all the powers of the Endowed Schools Commission to the Charity Commission, and tends to place the future reorganization of Endowed Schools on a sectarian, instead of on a national, basis. The Charity Commissioners were already very hard worked, and the noble Lord did not state whether they were willing to undertake the duty. Another ordinary Commissioner was to be appointed—but this had been necessary for some time past—and, in addition, there were to be two new Commissioners to conduct the educational business; but it was not stated whether they were to attend exclusively to that branch of the work. Again, the Charity Commission was not well fitted by its constitution for the new work which it was proposed to intrust to it. Its duties were mainly judicial, but the educational work would be administrative. No doubt, there would be great difficulties in the way of transferring the work of the Endowed School Commissioners to the Education Department; but in anything that was done the responsibility of that Department should on no account be diminished, and there was reason to fear that if the present scheme was adopted there would be a strong inducement to make use of the Charity Commissioners as buffers between the Department and the public. The disadvantage of this plan would be, that the Department would be made responsible for the preparation of the scheme, while it would be able to shift off some responsibility in the final action with regard to the scheme. The noble Lord seemed to forget that he was a Charity Commissioner. [Viscount SANDON: I have not forgotten it.] The Charity Commissioners had to take part in, and were responsible for, matters which he could not control. There was no provision in the Bill with regard to the old powers of the Charity Commission. In the Act of 1869 the House passed a clause suspending the powers of the Charity Commission with regard to educational schemes, while the Endowed School Commissioners were at work. The noble Lord had repealed that clause, and their powers were revived. The result was that there would be an alternative mode of action. He thought the noble Lord would experience very considerable difficulty as to that matter. He did not know whether they were "dazed" on that side of the House; but, at any rate, his eyes were sufficiently open to know that there was a large majority on the other side. It was in the power of that majority to pass any Act they pleased, and for anything he knew it might be in their power even to repeal the University Tests Act. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) held that there was good reason for saying that the work of the Endowed School Commissioners should go on till next year, and that if the noble Lord would do his best he would find them a very good tool. He did not think the proposition of the noble Lord was quite fair to the Nonconformists. He had a very great suspicion that the effect of that proposition, so far as Bradford was concerned, would be to put the Bradford School under the management exclusively of Churchmen. He thought the House was entitled to know, before it passed this Bill, how many and what were the schools which would be affected by it. He would venture to make an appeal, if not to Government, to hon. Members on both sides of the House, who had, as he believed, the interests of education, and the interests of religious education, at heart. He dared say he might find himself supported by many hon. Members who had not thought fit to support him hitherto, and opposed by some who in these matters had hitherto supported him. He could only say that as in the matter of elementary education he was merely striving to do the best for education generally, for religion, for all denominations, and for the Church; so now he was endeavouring to lead the House right in regard to secondary education. He would ask those hon. Members of the House who thought themselves special friends of the Church, why should they make the existing public schools of the country Church of England schools? As in regard to elementary education, it was in the interest of religion and of religious education, for the sake of liberty, and culture, and religion, that he strove to get fair play for the Church of England, and to take security that no unfair advantage was taken of her; so, for the same reason, and as much in the interest of religious education, he begged the House to protest against this attempt to retain, or get back for the Church of England, exclusive privileges and control over these schools which belonged to all Her Majesty's subjects.

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. William Edward Forster.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


said:—Mr. Speaker, I desire to protest against an assumption of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). He has included Warwickshire among the counties, to which the Endowed Schools Commissioners have given satisfaction. The right hon. Gentleman must permit me to observe that, inasmuch as I divided the House against the continuance of this Commission, when the Endowed Schools Continuance Bill was before the House last Session, and that, in the last House of Commons, my Amendment, which would have sooner terminated the existence of the Commission, was lost by only 11 votes, the right hon. Gentleman was not justified in representing Warwickshire as satisfied with the Endowed Schools Act, or with the conduct of the Commissioners. On the contrary, I can answer for it, that in no county was there a greater feeling of injury, nay, of outrage, than prevailed in Warwickshire; and I believe that the emphatic expression of that feeling had a good deal to do with the inclination of the House to curtail the temporary existence of this Commission. The right hon. Gentleman now refers, and fairly, to the modified conduct of the Commissioners after they had been virtually condemned. For the fact is, that they were condemned before they modified their action, and the right hon. Gentleman must excuse me also for reminding him, although I give him the credit for good intentions, of the manner in which he used this Endowed Schools Act, and the powers of the Commissioners. The attempts to apply the principle of the notorious 19th clause to the public schools which are exempt from the operation of the Endowed Schools Act; attempts which failed, but which reminded my constituents of the right hon. Gentleman's method of dealing with this subject, and with us, has been to knock us down first as the defenders of the pious intentions of the founders, and to talk to us afterwards. English people do not like to be dealt with in that way. We are not reconciled to the action of the Commissioners by their tardy and probably temporary change of manner; nor was it likely that we should be. I discovered that there was a manifest difference of opinion between the Chief Commissioner and his subordinates, and all the more I felt it to be my duty to avail myself of every opportunity of seeking the termination of the Commission. I thank the noble Lord and the Government for proposing by this Bill to put an end to a Commission which not only in action, but in correspondence, has shown a determination to overthrow the constitutions of charities which the nation approves. I must beg also to object to a distinction which both the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman have in the course of this debate appeared to draw between the nation and the Church of England. The Church of England comprehends the majority of the nation, and how then can it be either fair or appropriate to speak of them in such terms as to raise the presumption that they are distinct bodies, and not merely different phases of the same great community? I thoroughly approve of the proposal for transferring to the Charity Commissioners the charge hitherto committed to the Endowed Schools Commissioners. Having been in personal communication with the Charity Commissioners for a period extending over some years, it is my full conviction that they constitute a body well adapted to deal with this subject, especially as many of these educational charities are of a mixed character. This measure has been ably explained by the noble Lord; and ob- serving that the clock points to an hour when I know hon. Members have other occupations, I will merely repeat my thanks to the Government for proposing this Bill.


said, he thought some anomalous results would follow the appointment of the Charity Commissioners. For instance, appeals would be made to the noble Lord himself, who would thus become a Judge in his own cause, as he was a Charity Commissioner as well as Vice President of the Council. Then, Parliament had no guarantee that the rules which the Commissioners were empowered to make would be fair ones, and upon these rules, of course, a very great deal depended. He did not think three tried and experienced men should be set aside to make room for two inexperienced men. In his opinion, the expectation of the noble Lord that the business would be got through in five years would not be fulfilled. In regard to the proposal that the schools should be of a sectarian character, they were reversing the policy which had been followed since 1869. This was an aggression on the part of the Established Church, which wanted to take for herself what ought to belong to the public. He strongly objected to the passing of the Bill.


said, it was precisely because the measure now before the House would reverse the policy of the late Administration, to some extent, that he not only thanked Her Majesty's Government for its introduction, but for that very reason he was prepared to give the Bill his most cordial and earnest support. In his opinion, the previous Ministry had taken away—almost entirely without justification—rights which he considered to be the inalienable inheritance of the poor, and had transferred them without hesitation to, and in favour of, children of that middle class which could very well afford to pay for their education. Again, he was one of those who considered it right and necessary, wherever it was possible, strictly and reverently to respect the will of the founder. Moreover, he thought that no Government ought needlessly to interfere with, much less to take upon itself to remake, the will of such founder. He might be told—indeed, he had heard it more than once—that the new hoard schools under the Elementary Education Act sufficiently provided all the instruction for the class of people to which he alluded; but he took leave utterly to deny any such proposition. That which the Endowed Schools Commission had but too successfully carried out was, to place its hand upon the endowments originally intended, as he believed, in large measure for the education of the poor, and had avowedly and systematically sought to apply them to another and wholly different class of recipients. He contended most emphatically that it was scarcely ever right, equitably considered, for any statute even—much less any mere Commission—to deprive the poor man's son of a right which he looked upon as inherent to his condition—that was, the right, by means of such endowments, to obtain the same breadth and amount of education that was afforded to children of a richer class. On such foundations every child, be his condition what it might, when once admitted should stand on precisely similar vantage ground. But he would ask, if all those benefits were only obtainable by a competitive examination, even for entrance into one of those newly-formed schools, how was the child of the poor man to enter the lists with the son of a man able to give his boy the vast advantage of the earliest possible training for such examination? It was these bursaries—this patronage, if they would—that, by providing for such want, lessened the distance between those who started on such a race; and, for his own part, he was bitterly grieved to have observed the introduction by the late Administration of a policy so diametrically in opposition to his own views. By the practical abolition of such bursaries he felt the first step for securing such an education to the poor man's child was deeply imperilled, if not absolutely lost. He was glad that the case of Emanuel Hospital had been mentioned, since he was thereby enabled to cite a few facts with which he had been furnished. This foundation, as was well known, was originally intended for the benefit of one or two parishes—St. John in particular—of Westminster. And yet, into the new school, opened under the auspices of the scheme recently laid down, they had, up to this moment, only been able to collect 146 scholars, of whom 53 were free. Beyond this, he had some reason to think that every child who presented himself was admitted almost without question, and that children came from all parts of London, nay, even in some instances, were sent some 10 or 12 miles by railway, the parents paying railway fare for them. For such children, he contended, a foundation like that of Emanuel was never originally intended. On these grounds he thought it an extremely happy result that this Commission was about to die. But this was not, by any means, all. Much had been said about the West Biding. Great success was alleged for the action of the Commission there. He thought he might fairly lay claim to knowing as much about that district as any man in the House, and he was able to quote one or two instances of a somewhat different character. For example, he had been told that, in one case, the endowment had been placed—would it be believed?—in the hands of a changing and changeable body—the committee of the local so-called Mechanics' Institution, which went out of office, he understood, every twelve months. Was that a likely body to act efficiently as the trustees of a foundation school? But it was said that the schemes introduced by the late Administration could have been challenged. Let them remember, as he did but too well, the case of Ripon. Let them recollect how vainly he had sought the opportunity of challenging that scheme while, theoretically, it remained on the Table below him; but, in consequence of the Whitsuntide holidays, running over a very considerable part of the 40 days, it was thereby rendered absolutely impossible for him to take any useful advantage of the nominal provision in the statute, anxiously desirous as he was of doing so. Such facts as these pointed conclusively against the action of the Commission being prolonged; and he, for one, was glad that it should die. Again, it had been said that there were some 44 or 46 of the endowed schools established during the time of Cromwell. The only fact deducible from that statement was to show how very little "the party then in power" did for popular education—an allegation, by the way, which he had—correctly or incorrectly, he would not then stay to inquire—heard repeated about a somewhat cognate party of credists in these later days—since any such number of schools, instituted during any nine or ten years in the history of this country, was by no means an overwhelm- ingly large one. Again, the grouping of some of the minor free schools, and the admission of others to participation in the advantages afforded by certain of these foundations, was somewhat curiously inexplicable, and, to his mind, somewhat erratic. But, be that as it might, these were some of the results which they knew, practically, had arisen from the action of this Commission. He did not care for all the theories in the world as to what that Commission had effected, when he knew practically, by mixing amongst the people, how they regarded what had been done—when almost every poor man felt himself aggrieved by the action of the Commission. For, what could the Commission really know of local wants, when it sat here in London, listening to the schemes of—it might be—interested parties, and when it only sent down its own Deputy Commissioners to different localities in the country, of which they—such Deputy Commissioners—individually knew nothing whatever, to hold a brief local inquiry, lasting altogether only but a few days at most? They could, in truth, know little or nothing whatever. The Commission might have established some 44 schemes, but that was not a great work to have accomplished in the four years that it had existed. Then, as to the distinction which had been drawn between Established Church schools and schools which, though unmarked, were said to belong to the nation in some other way. He did not believe in that doctrine under any circumstances. When had it ever been proposed that all the school endowments, whether of Dissenters or in attachment to the Church of England, should be brought into a sort of hotch-pot? There had been a certain number of schools—and among them some of the best—in affiliation with the Church of England which had been needlessly, as he thought, meddled with; but his right hon. Friend was apparently always very careful to avoid dealing with any one of the Dissenting foundations. He did not consider that fair or just, or, at any rate, if just for one side it ought to be looked upon as being just for the other. Again, could any one suppose for a moment that a school of which the Bishop was named overseer could be anything other than a school in connection with the Church of England? If they dealt fairly with the will of the founder, was it reasonable to suppose that the Bishop would have been named by that founder as visitor of any school if it was not intended that the scheme should be a Church of England scheme? All the attempts to weaken the position of the Church in the education question would fail, as every attempt had failed, recoiling on the heads of those who had tried to weaken it with a wonderful, not to say terrible, amount of force. How was it that the present Government found themselves in the House with such a large majority? It was because people had seen that things of this kind were being constantly meddled with, and felt themselves aggrieved and endangered by that meddling. It had been said that this Bill was a retrograde one; but he thought that a measure which imported a Conscience Clause, and gave to the pupils of every school the right to enjoy those religious views which their friends intended, instead of being a retrograde step, was one eminently in the right direction. He hoped that they would hear little more of the idea that there was a distinction between schools National and schools belonging to the Church of England. He looked on every school which was not provided for by the terms of its constitution, and thereby expressly made a Dissenting school, or which, by virtue of the Elementary Education Act or in some other way was definitely and distinctly rendered non-denominational, as being a school in attachment with the Church of England. If it were not so, the Church of England would have the same right to claim the endowments of the Society of Friends, the Roman Catholics, or, indeed, any Dissenters whatever. This Bill only replaced in the hands of the Establishment those rights and those duties which belonged to the Church of England. With regard to the endowed schools, when the unfortunate Act of 1869 was carried—when the Commission was appointed—what everyone thought and expected was that those foundations which were small, those which were neglected, those which were effete, and those by which the trustees had not done their duty, were first to be made right, and then, if by any accident the Commission got through its work with them, it possibly might have dealt with some of the large schools; but the moment the Commission got into power it tried to deal with some of the largest foundation schools in the country, while it carefully left untouched others on which it had been supposed it would first attempt to try its hand. Such a course of action was wholly unexpected. If it had been imagined that it was such schools as Giggleswiek, Repton, Bradford, and Sedbergh that were to be first entered upon, did anybody in this House suppose the Bill of 1869 would ever have become law? But, even if this House should have passed it, what about the other? It would have had but small chance of being approved of there. They were told that the Commons had dealt practically with 66 schedules, but he should like to know whether these even had been interfered with to the satisfaction of the people. Take the opinion of every class as a test of how the Commission was regarded. Take that of the wage class, or the trading class, or the squirearchy, and he ventured to say that one and all would tell them—and with great reason—that amongst the causes that led to the downfall of the late Government, no feeling was stronger than the one which induced everybody to distrust the action of this most unfortunate Endowed Schools Commission.


said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Wheelhouse) had been unfortunate in his instances. The Bradford school had been much improved under the new scheme. The number of boys had increased, education had been improved, and very large endowments had been added since the Commissioners had interfered. Giggles-wick school had also been greatly benefited by their action. He was surprised to hear Sedbergh school cited as one that required no amendment. Within living memory it had sent very many candidates of distinction to the Universities. It had, however, of late years degenerated, and the number of boys had so much fallen off that Sedbergh became a scandal to the system of Endowed Schools. He was glad the Commissioners had taken it in hand. The substantial question involved was one which ought not to be prejudiced by party animosity, for it certainly did not belong to the regions of party. The Bill of 1869 was no more that of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) than it was the Bill of every Member of that and the other House of Parliament. A great many small schemes remained to be dealt with, and for that purpose the noble Lord proposed to appoint a number of additional assistant Commissioners. It was hard to blame the existing Commissioners for having done so little. They were obliged to act with great care and caution. The new Commissioners would have the advantage of all the knowledge and experience which had been acquired. The noble Lord had proposed to abolish the existing Commission because, he said, they were dead; but the real fact seemed to be that they had still plenty of work in hand. He believed that the Bill was intended by a side-wind to express dissatisfaction with some of the schemes proposed by the Commissioners. It would have been better to have at once proposed a change in the composition of the Commission than to have abolished it, as it were, by a side-wind and a Bill based on false pretences. Besides, the Charity Commissioners, he believed, had already work enough to do. It was with great difficulty and delay that a school scheme could be got through their hands; and he did not see any necessary advantage in transferring the business from Victoria Street to York Street, where a great number of Assistant Commissioners would be required.


observed, that he had nothing personally to say against either the Endowed Schools Commissioners or the Charity Commissioners. It had been said that this Bill was a retrogade measure; but if they had advanced in a wrong direction the best thing that they could do would be at once to go back. If the Act of 1869 was a bad Act, he took his full share of the responsibility of its passing. He might have divided the House against it, but he did not, and he was proud that he had not done so. But, though the Act of 1869 was one of the best Acts the late Government had passed, one of its main features was the appointment of Commissioners who were practically the nominees of the Government that appointed them. It had been broadly stated in the House that the way in which the Commissioners had carried out the Act was a mistake, and wherever one went through the country grumblings were heard against them. He was not at all sure that the way in which they set about their work was satisfactory. It was said that England was practically mapped out between the three Commissioners, one of them taking the northern counties, another the midland, and the third the counties south of the Thames, and that each was virtually an autocrat within his own dominion. That was a great responsibility for one man to take upon his shoulders, and he was inclined to think that it was this among other things which led to the general feeling of dissatisfaction throughout the country. Then most of the schemes of the Commissioners started from three propositions, with which he could not agree. In the first place they assumed, as a matter of course, that the existing Governing Bodies were composed of ignorant and incompetent persons. It was his fortune to be on the Governing Body of two considerable endowments, and he must say that was rather a hard way to treat men, many of whom devoted much of their time and even of their money to the good of these institutions. But a more formidable rock on which the Commissioners ran was this—they seemed to think that on principle the wishes of the founders should be ignored as far as it could with common decency be done. The third great mistake—though, perhaps, one for which the Act of 1869 was in some degree answerable—was that the Commissioners endeavoured as far as they could in every instance to stamp out the teaching of religion. He believed they considered themselves bound to do so by the Act, no matter what their own private feelings were; and the extracts read by the noble Lord showed what Lord Lyttelton thought on the subject. It had been said that some of the people of Bradford were so well pleased with the action of the Commissioners that they had subscribed money towards the endowment of the Bradford School. He was very glad to hear it; but the people of Bradford must be more trusting than others, because here and there throughout the country the people declared they would give nothing to endowments which might be diverted to very different purposes from what they intended as soon as they were in the grave. In fact, the source of charity, as far as one of its highest forms was concerned, had been dried up, and that spring would not again flow unless confidence could be placed in somebody. People 200 years ago were much more prone to leave large sums for educational endowments than they were at the present day. He approved the proposal to appoint the Charity Commissioners to administer the Act, for all who had to do with them were treated in a way to insure respect. It was doubtless true that the two new Commissioners it was proposed to appoint would begin their work with the disadvantage of inexperience; but it was also true we had experience of the way in which the old Commissioners had done their work, and the two who had to start afresh could not fail more signally than the present Commissioners had done. For these reasons he should give the Bill his hearty support.


denied that the springs of charity were dried up, and said that on any comparison with the past it must be remembered that land was of far less value formerly than it was now; and if the real facts could be ascertained it would be found that charity was dried up rather by the abuses the Commissioners were appointed to correct, and that the stream of charity flowed more freely again when the administration of endowments was placed in abler hands. The Bill consisted of two very distinct parts. The first removed the Endowed Schools Commissioners and placed the Charity Commissioners to reign in their stead; and the second diminished the toleration now existing, and replaced it by sectarianism. Her Majesty's Government, in conferring their powers on the Charity Commissioners, recognized the necessity of some such authority to organize and reform our Endowed Schools. Then, surely a very strong case must be made out before it could be considered wise to disorganize the present machinery and stop the Commissioners in their work? They had not only acquired great experience, but collected much information. Besides the schemes actually arranged, there were many others more or less completed. All this work would be rendered useless, or to a great extent thrown away, by the present Bill. He did not deny that the Commissioners might have made mistakes; but he believed that neither the Charity Commissioners nor any other body of men could fail to make mistakes. It had been said that the Commissioners had made themselves unpopular throughout the country. But to a certain extent this was inevitable. The Commission was constituted to carry out a reformation which could not but be extremely unpleasant to vested interests. The criminal who was allowed to choose his mode of execution was said to have been in little danger; and if the Endowed School Commission had made no reforms that were not agreeable to those concerned they would have had little to do. But they must remember that Parliament was responsible for these changes. Every one of these schemes had lain 40 days on the Table of the House, and it was very creditable to the Commission that, notwithstanding all this outcry, up to the close of last Session, out of more than 100 schemes, not one had been successfully attacked in this House. The inherent merits of the schemes had enabled them to triumph over all opposition. In one case, indeed, a powerful and wealthy corporation felt aggrieved at the loss of a fraction of its enormous patronage. They spared no expense, they communicated with other malcontents, they organized a powerful opposition in this House; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) triumphantly vindicated the action of the Commissioners, which was approved and confirmed by a large majority. He should like to know on what principles the Charity Commissioners were to carry on the work, and thought that they and the Members of that House ought to be made acquainted with the new principles which were to be introduced into the management of these schools. The withdrawal of their powers from the Endowed School Commissioners implied, of course, dissatisfaction with their proceedings; but the Bill contained no indications of the nature of the change which was desired. By perpetuating and intensifying sectarianism the Bill would tend to prevent the amalgamation of small schools, which was so desirable. It would throw difficulties in the way of organizing graded schools, in favour of which they had the almost universal testimony of those who were interested in education, and it would preclude the best selection of governors. For his own part, he would go farther in restricting sectarian endowments even than the Bill of 1869. An endowment for religious purposes was a very different thing from an endowment of a particular sect, however important that sect might be, and he could not think that such endowments ought to be perpetual. But, under this legislation, any man who had property and peculiar opinions, could leave that property in perpetuity to bolster up those particular opinions. This Bill had hitherto been debated mainly from the point of view of the Church of England. It was, however, a Bill for concurrent endowment, and it would tend to encourage endowments of all sects. When the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) brought forward his Burials Bill, the object of which was to allow Nonconformists to be buried with their own formularies, he met with the most determined resistance from hon. Gentlemen opposite; yet, now they proposed to encourage rich Nonconformists to devote their money to teach formularies which were so highly disapproved—so highly that, though such a person might have them taught in perpetuity, he could not have them read once over his grave. Who could say how much property might not thus by degrees be devoted to the maintenance of obsolete opinions? This was no imaginary danger. Hallam estimated that in the time of Henry VIII. the monasteries held not less than one-fifth of the land of the country. Nor was this an isolated case; it might be paralleled in other Christian countries. The Christian Church had been torn by sects now no longer in existence, and distracted by discussions now happily forgotten. These ancient sects, not being specially endowed, had happily disappeared; their very names and tenets were matters of history. There had been Gnostics and Sabellians, Adamites, Antinomians, Manichæans, and Donatists, Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians, Sublapsarians, and Supralapsarians, Monothelites, and Monophysites, Anabaptists and Hemerobaptists, and many others, but the list was too long to quote. These sects were now extinct: but suppose their enthusiastic supporters had been able to endow them? Could any one doubt that they would still have flourished with pernicious, because unnatural, vitality? If after half a century of existence an opinion had not sufficient vitality to maintain itself, that was strong evidence that it was not true. Religious tests, for whatever purposes imposed, were dangerous, if not fatal, to religious sincerity. What was supposed to be religious education? Unless stress were laid on those points on which Christians were divided, it was said, there could be no religious education. It would be better to lay stress on the points on which there was agreement. He should vote against this Bill, because it proposed to destroy a machinery which was doing good service, but still more because it would tend to perpetuate schisms, and to cover England with sectarian schools, in which obsolete opinions would be taught, by reluctant schoolmasters, to unwilling scholars.


said, he was surprised at the arguments which had been addressed to the House by the hon. Baronet who had just spoken, coming, as they did from him. Whether hon. Members agreed with the hon. Baronet or not, at least they were usually able to welcome with pleasure the broad and philosophic views of a man who thought much, and had the courage to express what he thought. In the present case, he must say he missed that breadth. The hon. Baronet spoke of the presumed inconsistency of those who supported the present Bill, or were in favour of any system of education which made the inculcation of distinctive doctrine a matter of necessity, because they had in a former Session of Parliament opposed the Burials Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan). But, so far from being inconsistent, they were acting, in both cases, with logical exactness. Their position was the same in both instances. For his part, he was always anxious to co-operate with those who desired, in the matter of education, to secure the provisions which they possessed for teaching their specific religious tenets to the children under their charge. It was in like manner, and out of a similar regard for distinctive convictions, that he desired that the various religious bodies should have places of burial, in which their own specific forms of service might be used. In each case they should each and all have the full productive use of their own particular machinery. How, then, could it be said that they were acting inconsistently? Their claim was that a certain course of religious teaching should be allowed to hold its own way unmolested by antagonistic views. The hon. Baronet had expressed the opinion that the adoption of the principle of the Bill would lead to the forms of religion being taught by reluctant teachers. On that point he joined issue with the hon. Baronet. The argument amounted to this—that religious education to be useful must be devoid of all distinctive characteristics. If it were dogmatic it must be insincere; and the teacher taught it, not because he believed in it, but in consideration of the endowment. [Sir JOHN LUBBOCK said, he had not spoken of an immediate but of an eventual result.] He could not accept that view of the matter either. Such would neither, he believed, be the immediate nor the remote result of accepting the principle of the Bill. The question was really one between mere materialism and the recognition of definite fixed faith as that which underlay all that was truly noble in the world. Unless faith were allowed to establish and to perpetuate its own teachings, materialism, which required no establishment, would be unfairly favoured. Let them look to a country which fettered the educational development of faith. In France there were two or three tolerated religions—the Roman Catholic, the French form of Protestantism, and the Jewish. Beyond those arbitrarily selected forms everything else was forbidden, and the consequence was that men of ardent hope who could not conscientiously accept any one of those three stereotyped forms had little to do but to maintain an unbelieving conformity, and withal, to fall back into a despairing abnegation of all reality of religious faith. The same thing had occurred in Germany, where the Old Catholic movement which gave rise to greater hopes of religious improvement than any similar uprising for a long time back, had to begin its career as a petitioner for State recognition. The hon. Baronet was rather more tyrannical than France or Germany. Those countries recognized machinery for encouraging fixed faith in the case of a few favoured bodies, and refused it to others. He would refuse it to all. The hon. Baronet had, in accordance with his views, protested against the Bill because it involved the possibility of the establishment of a network of sectarian institutions all over the country; but the answer to that suggestion was that the State need not mind whether the network were sectarian or not as long as there was a healthy and a liberal state of religious feeling in the country, inciting and keeping up that higher patriotism, pointing to another and a better world, which created and maintained national virtue. In his (Mr. Beresford Hope's) opinion, the free and impartial protection of fixity of religious belief was the one thing necessary in our educational policy—not of this or that belief to which the State accorded partial favour; but of all belief so far as it was fixed. The hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone had given the House a long list of sects which he stated would have been alive now had they been endowed; but Diana of Ephesus, Serapis of Alexandria, Jupiter Capitolinus of Borne, and Athens of Athens, had all had their endowments, and yet their worship had died out. The hon. Baronet had referred to our public schools; but he had thought that under such men as Arnold, Longley, Wordsworth, Vaughan, and others, the religious training of our public schools had become something very different from what it had been very few generations back. Now, there had grown up alongside of the old foundation schools, other Church schools representing the doctrines held by the High Church the Low Church, and the Broad Church parties, and, beyond this, there were Dissenting and Roman Catholic schools, which inculcated the principles of their respective religious beliefs. But while these various Christian Bodies took care to provide instruction in their several creeds, they sought at the same time to secure the best means of secular education which their managers could command, and thereby established their claim to that protection from the State which the hon. Baronet refused. It was on these broad principles, and believing that it affirmed them, that he had supported the Act of 1869, and that he was now supporting the Bill to amend it. Questions of chronology, as to whether this or that foundation fell before or after the Toleration Act, were matters of detail. So, too, was the question of what body any school might belong to. The main principle at stake was protection for fixity of belief. He had been forward in supporting the Education Act of 1869, when introduced by the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), having directly followed the speech with which he brought it in. He did so then, alike on religious and social grounds; and, as the question was then presented, he did not repent of his action, nor could he charge himself with any inconsistency now. He then rested his support of the measure upon a variety of considerations, and chiefly on the recognition of the decay and the rottenness of many of the endowed schools, which, in 1869, led him to desire a wise and wide development of the torpid institutions. He was equally anxious for the recognition in the Act of that form of the religious element which was the foundation of these schools. Now, his right hon. Friend had held out the hope that all these considerations would be respected when he offered his well-remembered assurance that only the bad schools need fear. That assurance was made in the House; but it was repeated upstairs in the Select Committee on the Bill of which he (Mr. Beresford Hope) was a Member; and he must confess that the suspicions both of himself and of others who thought with him, had been lulled by such representations, and that they accordingly worked on as helpers in the elaboration of a measure of which they had not fully fathomed the extent or purport. The present Bill set up a common-sense basis, which he had expected would have been adopted in 1869, but which experience showed to have been frustrated by the technicalities of the law which he, and those who thought with him, had unwarily helped to set up. The desire of himself, and those who thought with him, was to promote middle-class education, and, at the same time, to have regard to the memory and the religious intentions and characteristics of the pious founders to whom these schools owed their existence.


expressed his belief that the Endowed Schools Commissioners had done their work well and thoroughly, but considered that this was merely a matter of detail. It was mainly on the ground of principle that he objected to the Bill. The question really before the House was whether or not instruments of endowment were to be interpreted strictly. Many years ago he brought in a Bill on this subject, and at that time he took great pains to see what were the conditions which founders generally imposed. He remembered one case in which one of these public benefactors left trusts for the benefit of his native parish for the maintenance of roads and also for a school. He ordained that the managers of the school should be "honest men," and the children were to have "godly teaching." The persons who had the appointment looked for "honest men" for managers without caring whether they were Churchmen or Dissenters, and they appointed a Dissenter as the master. The clergyman of the parish objected to this, and commenced legal proceedings, which, after going through several Courts, ended in his favour, and the Dissenter was turned out. That was the state of the law till 1869. He did all he could to get it altered, and he was sorry to see a disposition now to return to it. In one sense he was glad that the Government had taken the matter up in this way—that they had not adopted a Liberal and put it forward as a Conservative course, but had shown themselves in their true colours. There was the true Conservative ring about their speeches. There was the old cry of "Church and State," and it appeared as though we were going back to the old days when we trampled the Dissenters under foot. ["No, no!"] That was the whole ring of the noble Lord's speech. ["No, no!"] Gentlemen on the Treasury Benches might say "No, no!" but he said "Yes, yes!" He believed that was the tendency of the Government we had now got in. He did not blame them. He liked people to act on their own convictions. No doubt, this measure would be followed by others in the same direction, and, in course of time, if the Conservative Government remained long enough in office, we should all be told to go to church and nowhere else. He earnestly hoped that the House would not assent to the passing of such a retrograde measure as this, which practically asked us to place all the endowed schools for middle-class education in the hands of the Church. ["No, no!"] That was what it came to. It was a proposal to give over middle-class education to the so-called National Church, which, at the present moment, was on its trial—which was making frantic appeals to that House to keep order in its ranks—which was unable to define its own tenets, or to prevent its clergy from turning the churches into Popish mass-houses. There were traitors in her bosom, and indecision reigned at her counsels—the handwriting against her on the wall was plainer than ever. This certainly was not the time to hand over middle-class education to her, and he trusted the House would throw out the Bill.


said, that as this was a quasi-legal question, he wished to say a word upon it. He did not propose to go into that part of the Bill which related to the transfer of power from the Endowed Schools Commissioners to the Charity Commissioners, but he could not help offering a remark on it. It had been said that the motives of the Endowed Schools Commissioners had been perfectly honest, and that they had endeavoured to discharge fairly the duties that had been imposed upon them; but there was this to be said, that though they might have given satisfaction in Yorkshire, in Lancashire, and in other parts of the country, it was certain that they had given great dissatisfaction in other parts, and that the reason why they had given great dissatisfaction was because they had disregarded the intentions and wishes of the founders of these endowments—the men who found the money to establish these schools. But what he wished chiefly to speak of was the operation of the 4th clause of the Bill in reference to the wishes of the donors. The speech of the noble Lord who introduced the Bill was objected to by the last speaker because it had what he (the Solicitor General) admired it for, "the true Conservative ring." He was glad of it; not because the noble Lord wished to put members of the Church of England over the Nonconformists, but because the noble Lord seemed to have been studious to protect and carry out the desires and wishes of founders. That seemed to him, when they were legislating on this subject, the very thing they ought most to desire to accomplish. He did not care whether it was in matters of an ecclesiastical sort, or matters of another kind; but the rights of property and the rights of owners of property ought studiously to be revered and protected. If it were found that the instruments creating these endowments contained clear and distinct evidence that the person who conveyed his property desired that any particular sect should enjoy them to the exclusion of the rest, his wishes ought to be carried out. It might be said that the founder had not shown very enlightened views, but his had been the money and the estate, and what inducement would be held out to those who came after him if they learnt that in the year 1873, or in any other year, the instruments conveying these endowments were altogether disregarded? And it was because his noble Friend had shown a disposition studiously and justly to regard the wishes of founders, pious and otherwise, that he was prepared to give the Bill his cordial support. He had listened with pleasure to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster), because he was thoroughly conversant with the subject; but although he had paid it the utmost attention, he could only find that he bad two objections to the Bill apart from the question whether or not the matter should be handed over to the Charity Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman said with perfect truth that those who introduced the Bill of 1869 were anxious and desirous to carry out the desires of founders, and their idea was that those desires must be ascertained by looking into the instruments of endowment. The scope of the Act, he said, was that when the expression of a wish on the part of the founder could be found that the scholars should be educated in any particular religious denomination, the founder should be considered to devote his endowment to the exclusive benefit of that denomination, and this whether the foundation was established before or after the Toleration Act. The right hon. Gentleman admitted, in fact, the very principle for which his noble Friend contended, and the only question between them was one of evidence. It was found that certain schools were not within the definition of the 19th clause of the Act of 1869, and it was therefore thought desirable by the right hon. Gentleman that an amendment and extension of the Act should be carried, so that evidence of a different kind might be accepted as establishing a denominational intention on the part of the founder. The Act of 1873 accordingly provided that if after the passing of the Toleration Act a founder required that the majority of the members of the governing body, or the trustees, or the principal teachers, or that the scholars should be members of a peculiar sect or Church, each of these conditions was to be held as sufficient evidence on the part of the founder that he wished to devote his bounty exclusively to that denomination. These were the very matters inserted in the present Bill, with one exception. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER: Two.] The difference between those enactments and the present Bill was, that if founders had expressed a wish that the scholars should belong to a particular sect, or attend a particular Church or communion, or that the majority of the governing body or the teachers should belong to a specified denomination, the noble Lord extended that intention to a period prior to the Toleration Act. The right hon. Gentleman urged that when Dissent was hardly known, or at all events was not rife, the founder of an endowment could not contemplate that Nonconformity would arise, and would, therefore, omit to provide for differences from the Established Church. But why should it be assumed that the man who before the Toleration Act made a foundation in favour of the Established Church, would, if he had lived 50 or 100 years later, have been a Dissenter? What was known was that he said he devoted his bounty to members of the Established Church, and it was embarking on a most dangerous field of speculation to assume that he would have done differently if he had known that in later days there would be Nonconformity and Nonconformists. Another objection raised by the right hon. Gentleman was, that the mere declaration of the founder that the rules of the school should be submitted to the Bishop of the diocese ought not to be sufficient to indicate an intention of a denominational kind. He submitted, on the other hand, that such a declaration was perfectly sufficient. If a founder selected a Bishop or any other member of the Established Church or any other Church to prescribe the rules of a school, it was very strong evidence that his views were in the direction of the Established Church or of some other denomination, according to the religion of the visitor so selected. With regard to one provision of the Bill, which enacted that if the instrument of foundation should not be forthcoming—if it had been lost and could not speak for itself—a long usage, say for 100 years in a particular direction—if the scholars had been trained in the doctrines of the Established Church or of any Nonconformist sect—should be held as conclusive evidence of the intention of the founder, to that provision the right hon. Gentleman did not object. Indeed, how could he object? for what in the law of England was regarded as more sacred, more entitled to veneration and regard than long, continuous, uninterrupted usage? The noble Lord had been attacked for introducing these provisions, but he thought he had done wisely in introducing them. Instead of being narrow-minded and illiberal, he had shown that he was proceeding on the fairest, justest, and most certain principles of the English law, and it was on that ground that he supported this Bill.


wished to address a few words to the House on this question, not as a Member of any party or section, but as one interested in education, who looked on the cause of education as entirely irrespective of and above party. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General had praised the speech of the noble Lord (Viscount Sandon) because it had in it "the true Conservative ring." Now, it was because the noble Lord's speech had any "ring" in it but an educational "ring" that he deeply regretted that the noble Lord had spoken as he had. He had heard that speech with surprise, both because of the tone in which he had spoken, and because of the attack which he had made on the Endowed Schools Commissioners. The noble Lord was almost the last man from whom he should have expected to hear a speech on this subject pervaded by a partizan tone, for he was reminded of a speech made by him on the Motion of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Melly) in 1869 upon neglected children in large towns in which the noble Lord had said that no party considerations ought to influence them upon such questions. He (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth) wanted to know why the education of children in endowed schools should be treated more from a party point of view than the education of neglected children in large towns. He deprecated extremely the tone of the noble Lord's speech, and he ventured to say that no Minister had ever imported a similar tone into their debates on education. He also deprecated the attack of the noble Lord on the Commissioners. They were public servants—intrusted with very large and exceptional duties—constituted, in fact, into a small Legislature to enact schemes for our middle-class schools—a task which Parliament had found too troublesome and difficult to undertake, and had therefore delegated to the Commission—and it was the duty of the House, and still more of Her Majesty's responsible Minister, to support the Commissioners, who had sot themselves to the performance of these functions with zeal, with courage, and with fearlessness. Those functions were peculiarly delicate and difficult, and it was not unnatural that in applying the principles of the Act to individual schools the Commissioners should have excited a good deal of local opposition. The noble Lord contrasted the conduct of the Endowed Schools Commissioners with that of the Charity Commissioners; but he forgot to tell the House that the Charity Commission had been in existence for 21 years, and that during their earlier years they, too, had encountered opposition and unpopularity. Moreover, their functions were not so delicate as those of the Endowed Schools Commissioners; for they had no power of initiative; they could only act when called upon to act by the localities. It seemed as if the Endowed Schools Commissioners had very few friends just now—but one would have thought that that fact should have made the Minister who represented them in that House very careful to couch any criticisms he might have had to offer upon their proceedings in studiously moderate language. Instead of taking such a course, he had made this attack with excessive warmth and with misplaced rhetorical emphasis. On future occasions, the Government would find it necessary to appoint other Royal Commissions to carry new laws into execution. What hope was there that the Government would then obtain men to serve them, who would act with energy and courage, and without fear of unpopularity, if Ministers now spoke of industrious and faithful public servants in the tone of the noble Lord? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), in answering the speech of the noble Lord, had most truly said that the charges commonly made against the Commissioners applied more to their words than to their acts; and he had told the House in support of that view that of all the schemes issued only 10 had been challenged in Parliament, and only eight upset. In the Select Committee of last Session of which he (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth) was a Member, it was agreed to insert in the Report the following words:— The published opinions of some of the Commissioners on the subject of endowments have caused alarm, and have in some cases seriously impeded harmonious action, &c. But when an hon. Member proposed to extend the application of these words to "their mode of dealing with endowments in some instances," the Committee refused by a majority of 12 to 7 to censure the Commissioners for their mode of dealing with any endowments, and the present Secretary of State for War (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) and Sir John Pakington voted in the majority against the Motion. The noble Lord had stated that, according to the Report of the Committee, great restrictions on the action of the Commissioners were needed. But on examination, he would find that no opinion of the kind was expressed in that Report. He said, further, that the Commission had now "exhausted the willing cases." If the noble Lord had carefully read the evidence given before the Committee he would never have made such a statement. Mr. Richmond, the Secretary of the Commission, had replied to a question that the districts from which urgent appeals had been made to the Commissioners to deal with endowed schools, but to which they had been unable to pay any attention, were tolerably numerous. And Lord Lyttelton—one of the Commissioners—had said that there were large and extensive districts hardly touched at all. He (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth) had then asked Lord Lyttelton the following questions, obtaining the following replies:— For example, I believe in Sussex you have done very little?"—"Very little. It has not been, sometimes, from a want of desire on the part of local boards of trustees that you should deal with their schools, because I myself was the channel of a communication from Hastings, requesting you to deal with the schools at Hastings?"—"So far from that, it is a most unpleasant part of our functions, that we are often obliged to refuse the most urgent applications. In the borough which he (Mr. Kay-Shuttleworth) had the honour to represent (Hastings), the persons interested in the endowed schools had for two or three years been most anxious that their case should have the attention of the Commission, who from the want of time and the inadequacy of their staff had been unable to comply with such requests. The "willing cases" were therefore by no means "exhausted." The hon. and learned Gentleman (the Solicitor General) had admitted that the Commissioners had given satisfaction in Yorkshire and Lancashire, and it was a strong testimony in their favour that the hon. and learned Gentleman, who was connected with Lancashire and represented Preston, was obliged to refer to parts of the country, with which he was not thus connected, in order to support his general statement that their proceedings had caused dissatisfaction. The Solicitor General had argued that the Bill deserved the support of the House because it regarded the wishes clearly expressed in the founders' wills. The hon. and learned Gentleman must have read with very little care the Endowed Schools Act of 1869, which this Bill proposed to amend, or he would have seen that the cases in which the express terms of a founder's will restricted the use of the endowment to a particular Church or denomination were precisely those which were already protected in that Act. Agreeing with the objections of his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford to the 5th and 6th clauses of the Bill, he further could not help regarding the 7th clause with suspicion. The Conscience Clause, in the Elementary Education Act provided for exemption from attendance at "any religious observance or any instruction in religious subjects," and the corresponding clause in the Endowed Schools Act applied to lessons as well as to religious worship, whereas the present clause only gave exemption from religious observances. But before concluding, he desired to call attention again to the Report of the Select Committee of last year, and to a paragraph in that Report in which he took a special interest, having with the assistance of Sir John Pakington—now Lord Hampton—moved its insertion. It was this— Your Committee regret that they have been unable fully to consider the recommendation of the Schools Inquiry Commission, that every endowed school should be subject to periodical inspection and annual examination, and that a Council of Examinations should be created. The second part of the Endowed Schools Bill (1869) provided for the formation of such a council, but did not become law. Your Committee hope that these important proposals will again have the attention of the Government and of Parliament. He did not say that these objects should have been aimed at by the Government in their present Bill, but he trusted that they would not lose sight of them, lest their endowed schools when once they had been reformed might gradually relapse into the condition into which they had fallen during long years of neglect. The appointment of Commissioners, and the framing of schemes, were but temporary expedients; the permanent efficiency of the schools must be secured by regular examination and inspection. The second or permanent part of the Bill of 1869 would be useful as a model on which to prepare a measure for these purposes. In conclusion, he appealed to hon. Members opposite, many of whom were above the influence of party considerations in questions regarding education, to deal with the Bill of the noble Lord upon its merits. He objected—as a Churchman—to their setting up on behalf of the Church an exclusive claim on such endowments—he objected as a Member of that House to the principle being established that a new Parliament should at once set about undoing the work of the late Parliament—and he asked as an Englishman that all schools which were not by express terms given by the founder to the Church should be available to the whole country.


said, he was not so anxious to find fault with the past as to consider their prospects for the future. The noble Lord had told them there were about 800 endowed schools which would have to come under the operation of the Commissioners, that in regard to only 74 of them had new schemes been passed, and that in regard to 66 schemes had been published, leaving absolutely untouched 660 schools, possessing endowments to the value of £210,000. That was all that had been accomplished in five years, and now that they were about to transfer the work of the Endowed School Commissioners to the Charity Commissioners, he wished to ask, whether, at the end of another five years, they were to reconsider that question, with new religious difficulties and with a fresh series of troubles such as from various circumstances had grown up in every part of the country; or were they now to endeavour, if possible, to bring their work to a conclusion? Some years ago the counties of Devon, Gloucester, Leicester, Northampton, and York proposed schemes of their own, which were laid before the Commissioners, but for some reasons—that were no doubt very good—they had not been carried into effect. Those schemes were embodied in a Return very recently published, and they contained various suggestions well worthy of consideration. It seemed to him that the only way of dealing with that enormous question, and bringing it to a conclusion in anything like a reasonable time, was to set county committees to work in preparing county schemes; to have those schemes submitted to the Commissioners, who would sift and alter them as circumstances might require under the regulations of the Act of Parliament; and then, if possible, to carry out the work in one county after another until the whole thing had been completed. Some such plan as that would have very great advantages. There was another point to which he wished briefly to refer. As the House was aware, there was a very large amount of endowments which were almost untouched as yet by the Commissioners, and which were known under the name of doles. The aggregate amount of those funds was, he believed, £218,000, a sum of great use, if properly applied. These funds ranged in various counties from £2,000 to £12,000, and they ought to be turned to the best advantage, although he was ready to admit that they could be dealt with satisfactorily only by persons possessing the necessary local influence and information. But the question might be asked, how could those endowments be applied? They might be applied in stimulating-education in the rural districts, in giving prizes, in settling the difficult question with regard to the payment of the fees of children who were unable to pay for themselves, or in encouraging children of ability to rise from the elementary into the higher grade of schools. In that way they might become instruments of the greatest possible value, and he hoped the noble Lord the Vice President of the Committee of Council would give his serious attention to their disposal in some such way. There was another point which had been alluded to by the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) to which he wished to refer. He knew a school, in which he was himself interested, which was extremely prosperous, but which had been altered by the Commissioners, without any regard to its connection with the rest of the county, and which, in consequence, now stood isolated. The change had, indeed, done harm rather than good; but he should not have complained of it if it had been part of a great organization for the benefit of the nation at largo. As to the work of the Commissioners generally, he must say he could not understand the principle on which they had proceeded. Why they had pitched upon some particular school and then upon another without any apparent system, he was unable to conceive. He hoped, therefore, that as they were about to have a new starting-point they should have a system which would provide for the improvement of all the schools that required change. He did not mean, of course, for a moment to contend that the Commissioners had not done a great deal of good work, but then, their work had been, he thought, a little patchy and haphazard. As to the religious difficulty, he believed that it was very much exaggerated on both sides of the House. His desire, at all events, was that the children of our endowed schools should got a really good practical religious education, whether that education turned more or less in one direction or another. He thought it of the utmost importance that the children of our higher artizans and shopkeepers should receive such a training, for in dealing with great national endowments we ought, in his opinion, to be very large-hearted and very liberal. He approved of the Bill, and should vote for the second reading.


agreed with the hon. Member who had just sat down, that great assistance in this work might be rendered by county associations, which were both powerful and influential in matters relating to education; but when the Commissioners thought it advisable to propose schemes which were against the wishes of those associations, that very power and influence only increased the difficulties which stood in the way of their discharging their duties, for the trustees of the schools concerned would fight hard and long rather than give up the power they possessed. The noble Lord who introduced this Bill had said nothing about those difficulties, though he spoke with some contempt of the work the Commissioners had done. If the noble Lord, at the end of the four or five years of office to which he might well look forward, could boast of having done as much work as the Commissioners had performed during a similar period, then he would have reason to he satisfied with the change he proposed. The noble Lord had not shown that the results of the schemes of the Commissioners had been had, or that they had not worked well; and he (Lord Frederick Cavendish) ventured to say, from his own experience, that the work of the Commissioners, tested by results, was not simply up to general expectation, but was so good that he defied all the friends of the noble Lord to stop the reforms which had been begun. In the West Riding of Yorkshire there were many large endowments which had been so badly managed, that that district was held up in the course of the inquiry which preceded the Act of 1869, as an example of the absolute mischief which was done by the endowed schools in their existing state. Now, their condition was most satisfactory, and many highly interesting educational experiments were being carried on. One effect of the present work was to soften the differences between Churchmen and Nonconformists, by educating the children of both classes together; but if the present measure was passed, this desirable result would be prevented. Perhaps the noble Lord would say that, whatever might be the results, they were bound to adhere to the wishes of the founders; but it was not so clear that it was the intention of the founders to make these schools nothing more than a close preserve for the Church. All the evidence went to show that in ancient days every man who wished the children of the country to receive a religious education could do nothing else but give them a Church education, because there was no freedom of religious opinion at that time. The noble Lord had said that we must retain these schools as Church schools—as a fortification for the Church. He (Lord Frederick Cavendish) thought the Established Church was strong; but he, for one, should tremble for its fate if he felt that it required such fortifications as these. He thought that if the Liberation Society wished to take a generous revenge for the proposal of the Government, they need do no more than publish the speech of the noble Lord, and make it known throughout the length and breadth of the land that Dissenters and Nonconformists were not to have a fair share—["Oh, oh!"]—a fair share in the management of the endowed schools of their own towns. He admitted that the Liberal party was now in a depressed state; but he had too great confidence in its principles to entertain any fear that it would not yet triumph. They had experienced sudden changes, and they should have them again; but they had never done any harm to the country, because they were not like some Continental countries, which thought the first duty of a new Government was to undo what had been done by its Predecessors. The noble Lord, however, seemed to think that the way to commend this Bill to the House was to show that it differed widely from the measure passed by the late Parliament. He would say to his noble Friend that, as judging by the present Session, it did not appear likely the Government would have many measures to be proud of hereafter; if they wished any of them to remain on the Statute Book they had better not do their best to repeal the Acts of their Predecessors.


must say that his notions of the speech delivered by the noble Lord (Viscount Sandon) were as different as possible from those which had been attributed to him by the last two speakers on the opposite side of the House. He was not aware that his noble Friend had thrown stones at the Commissioners in any way. He had said that their acts were very unpopular out-of-doors, and in doing so had never spoken truer words. He (Mr. Neville-Grenville) had joined the Schools Inquiry Committee full of his own grievances, and he had found that although his friends were complaining of what they considered to be essentially Church schools, unchurched by the Commissioners, yet that there were gentlemen representing the Nonconformists there, who were even more angry with the Commissioners for not having given the Nonconformists a larger interest in these endowed schools. He should never attack the Commissioners, because he was certain they had been actuated by the most conscientious motives, and that it was their reading of the Act of 1869 which induced them to take the course they did on every occasion. It was to amend that Act that the present Bill had been brought forward, and he hoped it would have success. There was one omission in the Bill to which he wished to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He believed it was the opinion of many hon. Members of the House that the Charitable and Endowed School Commissioners should be paid the expenses of their Commission by stamps or some other means out of the large properties with which they dealt, and that that expense ought not to be borne by the country. He should give his hearty support to the Bill.


said: Though this Bill professes by its Preamble to make further provision for liberal education in endowed schools—not as in the old Act to bring a liberal education within the reach of all classes—yet in its provisions it does not contain a single line, or, indeed, a single word for this purpose. Its objects are, however, transparent. It is a Bill for getting rid of a Commission which has honestly acted in promoting liberal education, but has not done so in a spirit of sectarian exclusiveness. The speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) exhausts the defence of the Commission. Yet one aspect of the defence strikes me forcibly. Though the Bill enacts capital punishment on the Commissioners, their crimes are of omission, not commission. Incessant complaints have been made in regard to them by hon. Gentlemen on the other side, but not one of these is alluded to or is rectified by this Bill. The Commissioners have been said to be doctrinaires who run to death first principles of reform, as found in the Reports of the School Inquiry Commission. In abolishing nominations by patronage, it is declared that they robbed the widow and orphan of their inheritance. It was stated that they were no worshippers of pious founders, and that they violated ancient foundations by amalgamating them with others. They abandoned traditional usage, and graded schools so as to suit different classes of the community, and, instead of giving education as a charitable dole, they established fees corresponding to the character and amount of the instruction. They popularized Governing Bodies and did not hold in sufficient veneration the old trustees who had allowed schools to crumble into ruin. And finally, a noble Lord (the Marquess of Salisbury) complained that they had the audacity to convert superfluous schools for boys into much needed schools for girls. Over and over again both here and in the House of Lords have these complaints been iterated; but the Bill is silent as to them all and makes no provision to prevent their recurrence. My noble Friend (Viscount Sandon) did not make a single allusion to them in his otherwise very censorious speech. In the absence of censure, the general policy of the Commissioners is abundantly vindicated. Why, then, are they to be extinguished by this Bill? Not for what they have done, but for what they have not done. And what they have not done is this—that they have too faithfully obeyed the law and have not given to the Church of England any undue advantage which the Act of 1869 never contemplated it should have. The present Commissioners have got a wealth of knowledge and experience in their work. All this is to be squandered, and a new, untried, and apparently a more expensive agency is to be substituted for it. Why? Simply because the Commissioners are not agents who can be trusted by the Conservatives to bring the endowed schools of the nation into the most narrow sectarian exclusiveness to the Church of England. If there lie behind the Bill a secret resentment against the Commissioners, because they have attended too closely to first principles, and have not sufficiently studied local prejudices and attachments, their course of action mainly arose from the very fact of their constituting a Commission, not responsible to Parliament, and not acted upon by public feeling. It was a delegated legislature without an opposition, and such legislatures are apt to see only one view of the case. But this evil will not be remedied by the Bill, for it simply transfers their powers to another Commission. The Charity Commission, which absorbs their functions, is a legal body—a sort of petty Court of Chancery without educational experience of any kind. It can only initiate proceedings with endowments below £50 in annual value. The new work about to be assigned to it is altogether out of harmony with its past action. The Bill admits that it is unable to cope with the new work, for it provides two new Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners, secretaries, and other officers. I have tried to see some ground for the selection, and I think that I have found it. This Bill, if it passes into law, must inevitably produce an incessant amount of legal squabbling and legal inquiries as to the historic and customary religious precedents of the schools, and the Charity Commission may be fully employed during the five years of the new Act in adjusting these legal squabbles, without attempting any educational improvements whatever. Perhaps this accounts for the provisions of the Bill being silent as to liberal education. When I come to describe the religious clauses of the Bill, it will be apparent that they must produce fierce contention as to the religious character of schools, so that there will be work enough both for the legal gentlemen of the Charity Commission and for the new Commissioners without troubling themselves with the advancement of education. Now, if a change were requisite in the machinery of the present Commission, why was it not put under the Education Department? If it had been, their doings would have come under the cognizance of this House, and the Vice President of the Council would have been obliged to defend them. Perhaps, from the sectarian character of this Bill, that was exactly why this natural course has not been pursued. A few weeks ago, when I brought the subject of a Minister of Education under the attention of the House, the Prime Minister replied to my speech by stating that the Government was as sensible as myself of the evils resulting from scattering the educational resources of the country, and he admitted the importance of bringing them under Ministerial responsibility. Well, this Bill gives us the opportunity of seeing whether the faith of the Government is followed up by works. Hero is a Commission dealing with the secondary education of the country, doing important work which is actually based upon the national system of primary education, and intended to be a supplement and development of it, and yet their labours are to a large extent separated from the Education Department, which still has for its head the President of the Council, who gravely-assured the House of Lords in a recent debate that he was the Minister of Education. Of course, the old connection of the Acts of 1869 and of 1873 remains, but under both these Acts the Education Department can only veto schemes or send them back for further consideration, but it has only an indirect and remote responsibility in regard to them. If the President of the Council had been made responsible for the scheme from the beginning to the end, much of the friction which has ensued between the Commission and the public would have been prevented, and Parliament, instead of delegating its legislative functions to a Commission, which is practically irresponsible, would have interested itself in the labours of a responsible Minister, who then might have some claim to call himself a Minister of Education. For, while the Charity Commission is completely out of harmony with the work which this Bill thrusts upon it, the Education Department would have been in entire sympathy with the objects of the Endowed Schools Acts. Already that Department is entrusted with the reform of all elementary endowments under £100. Already, it is the Court of Appeal in regard to the schemes of the Commission. If the Education Department ever contemplate raising the education of the country beyond its miserably low level, it is to the secondary endowed schools of the country that it must look as the means of strengthening and developing it. And yet this Bill comes to us introduced by the Vice President of the Council, the Colleague and representative of that high officer of State who says he is the Minister of Education, and he asks us to pass the Bill which still further separates the endowed schools of the country from the Education Department. This is a Bill of separation, not of consolidation, for it places between that Department and the House the Charity Commission, which is more remote from the House, and less affected by public opinion even than the Endowed Schools Commission. Having thus shown that the administrative machinery of this Bill is bad, both on account of what it does and on account of what it does not do, let us now examine what work we are to expect from the religious clauses of the Bill, for they form the essence of the whole measure. I contend that the whole meaning of these clauses is that the management and patronage of the great bulk of our endowed schools should be absorbed by the Church of England. Clause 4 is a net of many meshes, calculated to sweep in most of the 800 grammar schools of the country. Clause 19 of the Act of 1869 showed a tender regard for the religious convictions of a founder, when they were stated in "express terms" in the deed of foundation. This Bill declares in substance that the phrase "express terms" is to mean all implied inferences from circumstances of the most varied character. Its obvious, and, indeed, scarce concealed purpose is to confirm a vast number of schools as belonging to Clause 19 of the old Act—that is, to make them church schools, wholly managed and taught by Churchmen, although no legal instrument ever attached them to the Church. In defect of express provisions in the deeds of foundation, this Bill hopes by statute to convert the most ordinary religious observances and teaching at a former period of the history of the nation, when there was only one Church, into a proof that the schools were intended to belong, and shall for the future belong not to the nation, but to the Church of England as an ecclesiastical corporation. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite dissent from my statement, but I am about to give the proof of my construction. It is quite true that the Church of England is not even mentioned in the clause; but it is easy to show that no other Church can be affected by it so far as the grammar schools are concerned. The terms of the clause are, indeed, general enough to give an apparent right to the Roman Catholics to claim all the pre-Reformation schools. And the logic of the Act will compel you to extend its principles to the public schools which are at present outside the Endowed Schools Acts. Now, as among these are Eton, Carlisle, and Winchester, such a reading of the clause would be hailed by Roman Catholics with delight. But hon. Gentlemen are well aware that the law has decided the unbroken continuity of the post-Reformation Church with the pre-Reformation Church, and they know therefore that they are quite secure under a language which is vague enough to have the appearance of fairness to all sects, and yet is so cunningly drafted as to give a complete monopoly to the Church of England. If this were not so, many of the 63 grammar schools founded by Henry VIII. in the border land between Popery and Protestantism would be in danger. And if there be no danger in the clause from Roman Catholics, the vagueness of the language, applicable to all sects alike, affords no been to Dissenters, because they were not legally allowed till 1779 to hold schools of any kind, and not till a considerably later period to be masters of endowed schools. This fact disposes of their claims effectually, for all the schools which arose in the 18th century were mere primary charity schools for poor persons, not grammar schools for a liberal education. So that the claim of the 4th clause to restore schools to all religious Bodies alike, means nothing more nor less than to restore them to the Church of England alone. All the meshes of this great net are constructed for this sole purpose. The meshes are, however, so numerous, that I must refer to the clause for them; but every conceivable implied inference of religious teaching, at times when no other form than that of the Church of England was allowed, is to be taken as evidence. No doubt, then, hon. Gentlemen opposite may be perfectly satisfied that, when they haul the net, the schools will be swept within the Church of England. Some charity schools at the end of the last century may escape, but only a few of the grammar schools can. In reality, the old deeds vary considerably as to the direct recognition of religious teaching or Church connection. Those established by the Kings enjoin church teaching, either directly or by inference, and when they do not the Court of Chancery has ruled that this is implied. And justly so, for when the State in the 16th century established schools, it as naturally placed them under the Church, as the State at the present time would put them under school boards. But it is a huge assumption to draw from this fact that when the State meant to benefit the nation, it intended for all time to benefit the Church though that might cease to be coterminous with the nation. On the other hand, there are many schools in which purposely, as when the Reformation and Popery were in a doubtful strug- gle or when the Puritans were in the ascendant, the reference to religion is put in the vaguest terms. Children, for instance, are to be taught the primer. Well, that was the alphabet, but generally had Nowell's or some other catechism attached. The children were to be brought up "in a godly and virtuous life," or they were to be taught "good literature and godly learning." Again, the Bishop or ordinary was the licensing person for teachers, who almost invariably were clergymen. Take the case of the great school at Birmingham. The deed simply says that the rules of the school are to be approved of by the Bishop—cum advisamento episcopi. All those vague terms, and even the licensing law, if referred to in the deeds of foundation, will bring these schools under Clause 19 of the Act of 1869, because they imply distinctive religious teaching, and that, of course, means that of the Church of England, for none other was allowed in the schools. Clause 5 has a subtle intent, not obvious at first from its terms, but easily discernible by its marginal note. It simply enacts that all scholars shall be taught the distinctive teaching of the Church, but it implies that all teachers shall belong to that Church. Doubtless this qualification of teachers was expressly put in the clause as first drafted, but, that being rather strong for Parliament, it was struck out, only unluckily it remains in a fossil state in the marginal note, for my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council omitted to change that when he altered the clause. I agree with the noble Lord that the clause will carry out his original object as it stands, because as the Judge is in future to construe "express terms" as implied inferences, he will have little difficulty in extending the application of the religious conditions as to the taught to the religious faith of the teacher. And so, in the future, only Episcopalians are to teach in our grammar schools. Let us turn now to Clause 6. At first I thought that rather innocent. But the more I look at it the less do I like it. It begins by stating, "When the original instrument of foundation is silent"—silent about what? It may be eloquent about many things, though silent about religion, which is of course meant. Some of the old instruments are most eloquent about the national and universal use of the schools. Some say that they are to be extended both to the rich and to the poor, to the resident and to the stranger. But all this eloquence as to national use is to avail nothing if they be silent as to religion. Then the use and wont of 100 years—for all practical purposes 20 years would have been as good, though it does not sound so liberal—is to determine the character of the future religious teaching. That being determined, all scholars belonging to that denomination, which, of course, again means the Church of England, must be taught its distinctive teaching. Now observe that this is quite a new feature in schools, though I think it prevails in some of the Colleges of the Universities. Even the Court of Chancery never ruled in any of their schemes that an inquisition must be held as to the religious tenets of the parents. For this clause renders it necessary to question every parent and child, so that the white sheep may be separated from the black sheep, and then the white sheep alone are to be fed with the bread of life. This is altogether different from the voluntary renunciation of religious teaching by a Conscience Clause. It is an inquisitorial clause never hitherto applied to schools, but a worthy successor of the clauses which have preceded it. When I read this Bill I was reminded of the words of Bertrand de Mandeville in his Essay on Endowed Schools attached to his famous book, The Fable of the Bees, published in 1716. He says— Why must our concern for religion be eternally made a cloke to hide our real drifts and worldly intentions? Would both parties agree to pull off the mask, we should soon discover that whatever they pretend to they aim at nothing so much in charity schools as to strengthen their party; and that the great sticklers for the Church, by educating the children in the principles of religion, mean inspiring them with a superlative veneration for the clergy of the Church of England, and a strong aversion and immortal animosity against all that dissent from it. Now I do not believe that such feelings have actuated the Vice President of the Council in bringing in this Bill, but I do believe they will be stirred up in every town and parish, where contention is introduced by this Bill, when it becomes law. It will be viewed as a challenge thrown down by the Church to Dissent, and tire latter will not be slow to accept it. Is this either wise or patriotic? The House, by all its recent legislation, has been proceeding in the direction of the Endowed Schools Act. Even as regards its Universities, beginning at first with a Conscience Clause, as years progressed it broke down religious barriers, and opened up the Governing Bodies to persons of all creeds. Why should we roll back our course of legislation in regard to the schools of the people? And if this Bill pass, what security have we that the Conservative Government will not take their next step to re-impose religious tests on the Governing Bodies of our Universities. There would be as much justification for that as in the case of schools. But would such changes, varying with every Government, be a tolerable policy for a nation that boasts of a progressive Parliamentary Government? This grasping policy of the friends of the Church reminds one of the last four years of Queen Anne's reign, when statutes were passed, such as the Schism Act, for giving exclusive teaching to the Church, and for repelling Nonconformists from honourable fellowship with the State. The whole contest involved in this Bill is one of Church patronage and exclusiveness. The Church has no doubt always shown its desire to promote education, and its clergy have made great pecuniary sacrifices to extend the education of the poor. But with all their efforts how little has their distinctive teaching done to retain the poorer classes within the folds of the Church. At least three fourths of its population have passed through its schools, yet its creeds and its catechisms imbibed in the earliest youth, and its enforced attendance at Church, seem rather to have repelled than attracted the youth of the poorer classes, who generally quit the Church when they leave the school. Is it wise to push this experiment too far in regard to the middle classes also? You are showing no real regard for the intentions of the founders by these changes. There is scarcely a school in the country which is now conducted in close conformity with the wishes of the founder. Both in the case of Universities and schools, restricted conditions have been removed. Local partialities for places and names, which exist in so many deeds, have been treated as unwise, and have been abolished. The only restriction which you now contend for is religion, and that arose from necessity, not from choice. This restriction you now propose to stamp into every foundation by statute. This no doubt you can do by the force of an imperious majority. But is it wise to use your force? When the last Government was in power, it yielded to the wishes of the minority, and gave to them distinctive religious teaching for the schools which had been established with this proviso since the Toleration Act of William and Mary. Are politics for the future to be carried on as wars of reprisal? Having opened up the endowed schools of the country to the whole nation, irrespective of class or religion, is Parliament now, because parties have changed their benches in this House, to revoke that gift, and practically hand over the management and patronage of the great bulk of the schools, which give a liberal education, to a Church from which half the people dissent? It is certainly not for the benefit of the people that this sectarian exclusiveness should be established, and it is assuredly not for the benefit of the Church that it should be made the source of fierce contentions and bitter heart-burnings. The Church of England is a worthy heir of the Reformation, and is entitled to honour for the manner in which it has used its inheritance. But it is not the only heir. Other reformed Churches have grown up around it, and they include a large portion of the population. The schools founded by the Tudors and the Stuarts were for the benefit of the whole people, and are the property of the State and not of any ecclesiastical corporation. In the interests of religion, in the interests of education, and in the general interests of public polity, the House would do well to reject a Bill which reverses the course of legislation for the last generation.


said, that the measure now before the House was a legacy left by the late Government in this matter of endowed schools. When, in 1869, the matter was brought forward by the right hon. Member for Bradford, he stated to the House the grounds upon which the Commissioners to be appointed under the Act would carry on their proceedings, and also that in the course of a few years such a reform would be made in the educational institutions of the country, that practically the Commission would come to an end. No one who assented to the passing of the Act of 1869—certainly none on the side of the House which he and those who agreed with him then occupied—ever dreamt that the provisions of the Act would be carried out by the Commissioners in the spirit they had manifested. It was believed that the Commission would be temporary; whereas, practically it had become a permanent roving Commission over all the schools of the country. Another Act was passed in 1873, when the attention of the House was hardly sufficiently called to the matter; because, though the Ministry at that time had full power, and though they could have pressed on the House anything they chose with respect to the Commission, they in their wisdom thought fit that the Commission should expire in the end of December, 1874. That was the position in which the Government found themselves on coming into office. It was not Her Majesty's Government that made the first inroad—the first attack on the Commissioners. The Act of 1873 declared that the Commission should expire in 1874. It was done by the action of the late Government. ["No, no!"] True, it was by the action of Parliament, but who were the Ministers in office at the time? Parliament insisted that the Commission should come to an end in 1874, and the Government with all its strength, was either unable or unwilling to have it otherwise. That was the state of matters in which the present Government found themselves when they came to deal with this question. The first question to be asked was, whether the Commission, as at present constituted, had worked satisfactorily? A great deal had been said about the good they had done. It would have been a very strange thing if gentlemen of high standing had been in office for five years without doing some good. No doubt the Commissioners found many schools inefficient, and they left them efficient. But there were many persons who thought—and Her Majesty's Government were among the number—that though the Commissioners had done a great deal of good, they had also done a great deal of harm, and that if allowed to continue in office, they would do grievous and lasting harm. If the right hon. Member for Bradford, when he introduced the Bill of 1869, had sketched out the programme of the scheme which the Commissioners had carried out up to 1874, he would have found much greater opposition to the Bill. But the Government had to look to the words of the Commissioners themselves—he had extracts from their expressions in his hand—and he would ask whether these words indicated the spirit in which those gentlemen were appointed to carry out the work? When one Commissioner was found denying the right of owners of property to control the disposition of it for more than 50 years after their death, and when another was found declaring that it was the duty of the State to apply endowments to some more desirable purpose than that desired by the founder, attention was naturally challenged by their statements; and when his noble Friend found fault with the action of the Commissioners, he found fault with their action not in their individual, but in their corporate capacity. The fault he found with them was not that they did not do their best to apply their principles to the schools, but that from the first they misunderstood the principles which ought to guide them in dealing with endowments. This was the reason why he was unwilling to entrust them with a continuance of their powers, and the question arose, what was to be done? Were these gentlemen to be retained, and fresh persons added to the Commission, or were others to be appointed in whom more confidence could be placed? He, for one, thought the Government adopted a wise course in handing the matter over to the Charity Commissioners, who were a permanent body, which the Endowed Schools Commissioners were not intended to be. If there was one thing the Government felt strongly, it was that on this subject agitation should not be kept up from year to year; it was much better that by a large expenditure the matter should be settled at once. Therefore, it was proposed, not merely that two Commissioners should be added to the Charity Commissioners, but that they should have a large staff of Assistant Commissioners, who would give them material help in carrying out their schemes. As to the 4th and 5th clauses of the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lyon Playfair) seemed not only to have proved his own case to his own satisfaction, but to have proved so much more that his own case broke down. He said that before 1779, there was no other body but the Church to which money could be left for the purposes of Grammar Schools, and therefore money must be taken to have been left to the Church; but if the persons could have had their own will and pleasure, the money would probably have been left among the Dissenters. If, down to the year 1779 all the money was necessarily left to the Church Schools, and could not otherwise have been left, what was the meaning of the Act of 1869? When the Government was charged with introducing a new principle, he ventured to state there was no new principle. The principle of the Bill was the principle laid down by the right hon. Member for Bradford in 1869. Then, it was the principle which was introduced by the Toleration Act, going back to all times and extending to all schools. If all were in the same category, why did the Bill of 1869 draw a distinction between those endowments in which there were express terms, and those in which there were not? The principle of the Bill was the same as the Act of 1869, which excepted any endowment the scholars of which were— Required by the express terms of the original instrument of foundation or of the statutes or regulation made by the founder or under his authority, in his life-time or within 50 years after his death (which term has been observed down to the commencement of this Act), to learn or to be instructed according to the doctrines or formularities of any particular Church, sect, or denomination. The right hon. Member's argument broke down entirely, and the principle the Government was contending for was the principle of the Act of 1869. It was this principle which the Commissioners had been endeavouring during their whole term of office to destroy. The same principle was embodied in an Act of 1873, brought in by the right hon. Member for Bradford. What the Government had done was not to ingraft a new principle, but to extend the old one that endowments left for Church of England schools should not be applied to other purposes. This was the principle of the Act of 1869, and the Government only extended it because it had been evaded by the action of the Commissioners. Fault was found with the Preamble of the Bill because it spoke of promoting liberal education, and it was said there was nothing in the Bill to do that; but it would do so by causing attention to be paid to the main designs of pious founders of endowed schools in regard to them. So far as the Commissioners would endeavour to proceed in the lines laid down by pious founders, so far were the Government content to leave the matter in their hands; but it was when they gave up these lines and went upon new ones, as the decisions of this House showed they had, the Government thought interference necessary. It was for the interests of education, elementary, middle, and higher, that the House should not by its legislation—by limitation to 50 years, or the appropriation of endowments—dry up the fountains of charity; and, as the Bill would do more to further education in this way than could be done by other means, he hoped it would be passed in its integrity.


said: Mr. Speaker, the views of Gentlemen sitting on this side of the House have been expressed with much ability by those who have preceded me, and I therefore do not Think it necessary for me to enter in detail into many questions which have been discussed to-night. Indeed, there are a number of points upon which, it appears to me, there is but little difference of opinion; but I wish briefly to run over what appear to me to be the main points of this discussion; and, first, I must refer to that which certainly is not the least disagreeable amongst them—namely, the manner in which the Endowed Schools Commissioners have been treated by the noble Lord who introduced the Bill. I have no doubt the noble Lord himself is under a totally different impression; but it is right that he should know that to all those who feel an interest in the character and reputation of those Commissioners, and to all those who sit on this side of the House, it appeared that his comments upon them were distinguished by an unmerited harshness; and, moreover, that they were of a nature which I will venture to say is not usual to pass between Members of the Executive Government and Members of a Commission who share with the Executive Government the honour of serving the country. Why is it, Sir, that the Commissioners are to be dismissed? The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down endeavoured to fasten upon us the responsibility of their dismissal. He stated that it was by our act that they were left in their present state of suspended animation. Why, Sir, he knows perfectly well—and men who have paid much less attention to the current Business of Parliament than he has done must know perfectly well—how it came about that the Commissioners received a renewal of office for one year. The late Government introduced a Bill renewing the office of the Commissioners for a term of years. The Bill went to the House of Lords, and then we found ourselves compelled to accept a reduced term of one year or to be content with the sudden and immediate extinction of the Commission, together with the total confusion into which the business would have been thrown thereby. That was not the act of the Government or of the majority of the House of Commons, but of the Friends of the right hon. Gentleman in the House of Lords, who compelled us to accept the reduced term as the lesser of two evils. Why, Sir, are these Commissioners to be thus summarily sent about their business with the pleasant epitaph that the noble Lord proposes to inscribe upon their tombs? The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has argued ingeniously that it is because they departed from the spirit of the instructions by which they were appointed to their office; that they had departed from the substance of the terms on which they received their appointment, and that the Government were therefore entitled to bring their existence to a close, Undoubtedly, so far as the majority of the House of Lords, in the last Parliament, is concerned, the right hon. Gentleman has some justification for his observation. The acts of the Commissioners were, in a variety of instances, disapproved in the House of Lords; but is that an argument for the House of Commons, and does it entitle the House to state that the Commissioners offended against the understanding on which they were appointed? In the last Parliament Members of the House of Commons questioned and objected to many of the schemes of the Commissioners, and class combinations, more formidable, perhaps, than any that have been seen in this House before, were arrayed against them, but when it came to the test, the schemes received the decisive approbation of the House. I am not going now to enter into the question of what the majority of the new House of Commons is entitled to do—what I want to show is this, that the Commission acted distinctly in the spirit in which it was appointed and commissioned to act, and that they are now about to be dismissed for fidelity in the execution of their trust. The right hon. Gentleman appears to think that the duty of those who belong to the majority of the House of Commons is to recognize the voice of the majority of the House of Lords, adverse though it may be to them on this particular question, and upon any other question where that majority finds it convenient so to act, to recognize that as the highest authority—["Oh, oh!"]—superior to the judgment of the popular branch of the Legislature from which these Commissioners derived their charge. Sir, those Commissioners are to be dismissed, as was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Somerset (Mr. Neville-Grenville), because they are unpopular. I do not deny that they may have been so. I know very few persons who have been appointed in this country to discharge duties on the part of the public and for the interest of the public in the face of class interest, in the face of local interest, and in the face of cliques and combinations, who have not been unpopular. Why, Sir, my hon. Friend himself, if he does not take good care, will be unpopular. He gave us an example of it in his speech. He made a most excellent recommendation, for which I give him all possible credit, an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which, however, was not replied to from the Treasury Bench, to the effect that these Commissioners ought to be self-supporting; that the charities ought to pay the expense of their own administration; and that a Bill ought to be introduced to tax them for the purpose. Will my hon. Friend consent to have that suggestion tried by the test of its popularity? I do not know whether he is competent to move an Address to that effect; but if he does, and then goes down into Somerset, where he has been in such sympathetic communication with these charities, and puts himself before the constituency as an heroic Member who has set himself to tax these charities, he will very soon find what has become of his popularity. The old Commission, then, as we contend, is to be dismissed for fidelity. The judgment of the House of Commons approved of every scheme which these Commissioners passed, and we, until a majority of this House has given an opposite vote, are entitled to stand on the judgment of that House of Commons. However, it has now been proposed by the Government that the Commissioners shall receive capital punishment, and the business of the Commissioners is to be transferred to the Charity Commissioners. Strange to say, although the business of the Charity Commissioners is in this way undergoing, or about to undergo, the most important change which can be conceived, the noble Lord has not favoured us with one syllable of information as to the view taken by these Charity Commissioners of the almost revolutionary change to which the office of the Endowed Schools Commissioners is about to be subjected. ["Oh, oh!"] Not one syllable of information has been given on that subject. I hope, before the conclusion of the debate, such information will be given; and, undoubtedly, if it is not given, we shall be left to form our own inferences, and we may come to the conclusion either that the answer received from the Commissioners was not what was desired, or that they were not communicated with on the subject for fear of such an answer. What is to be the nature of the Commission, and what is to be the basis upon which the business is to be conducted in the future? With great modesty the noble Lord has refrained from referring to the important part which it will be in his own power to play in the future scheme for dealing with endowed schools. Under the existing law there has been a well divided, and a well-defined responsibility. The business of the preparation of schemes has been committed, by the deliberate judgment of Parliament, to a body from which political influence, properly so called, and the influence of the Executive Government, was entirely excluded. These schemes were framed by an independent authority, and the schemes so framed were at the proper stage referred to the Department of the Government which passed an independent judgment upon them. These schemes could not come before the House without the fiat and the sanction of the Executive Government; but when they came before the House they came before it in such a way that the House understood perfectly well with what it was dealing—namely, the judgment of an independent body, and the affixed judgment of the Department of the Executive Government. Is that wise division of responsibility mentioned under the plan of the noble Lord? We are now to refer these important duties to men who have other extremely important duties to perform—other duties from which, according to the judgment of Parliament in 1869, it was important for the public interest to separate the business of the endowed schools. But who are the Charity Commissioners? The noble Lord is one of them. He is as much entitled to attend the meetings of the Charity Commission, as any of the Commissioners. I want to know whether the expression of a political party which is in a majority is to be the function of the Commission to whose authority we are hereafter to trust these schemes? If we are to enter upon the business of undoing the legislation of a preceding Parliament with the politics of which the majority do not agree, it is important we should know how far the process is to go. This is apparently a first and experimental step—and we have no assurance that it is to be the last. We are left to judge for ourselves and to see how far the arguments used will carry the men who have made use of them. Is it intended to repeal the Act for abolishing tests in the Universities? ["Oh!"] That part of the House which cannot answer my challenge says "Oh;" but I hope we shall have a more articulate answer from the Government. The arguments used by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cross) and the noble Lord apply with greater force to the Universities than they do to the Grammar Schools. A recent case is stronger than the voice either of a majority or a minority, and, in a country like this, logical consistency, slowly worked out, has a great tendency to govern the ultimate conclusions of the Legislature. Does any hon. Gentleman think there is a smaller title on the part of the Church to the enjoyment of University endowments than there is to the endowments of the Grammar Schools? With regard to the Universities alone the question stands, perhaps, much on the same footing because the endowments of the Universities are almost nil. But when we turn to the Colleges we find that the intention of their founders was to devote the endowments which they left to the maintenance not only of a national religion, but to the payment of the clerical professors of that religion. The proportion of College endowments originally given to laymen is so small that in a general argument it may be fairly overlooked. The argument for exclusive endowment in their case is stronger than the title to the enjoyment of the endowments of the Grammar Schools. We have a right to know not only what are the intentions of the Government, but, on what principle it is, that if they claim the Grammar Schools they do not claim the Universities; or how it is that if they succeed in pressing the claims to the Grammar Schools, they are to resist the demands of those who congratulate them on the success of their first attempts, and encourage them to go on, to close the Universities, and to restore the endowments of the Colleges to the exclusive religious appropriation to which they were originally devoted? I am opposed to this Bill on three grounds—because it is inequitable, unusual, and most unwise. I deeply regret that we are again involved in a controversy partaking of a religious character—in this, the first of the tranquil years in which we were assured, on the highest authority, we should enjoy the beneficent sway of a Conservative Government, which was to tranquilize the proceedings of its unruly Predecessors, but which has been a year distinguished beyond all others within moderate memory for the number of strictly religious controversies which have been brought upon the floor of Parliament. I contend that this Bill is in equitable, and I will state frankly how I make good that proposition. We have, I believe, about 800 of these Grammar Schools. The Toleration Act has been spoken of as an important epoch, and it is, in reference to the principles of law which may properly be applied to the management of those schools; because, obviously, the argument, whatever it maybe, is not exactly the same when applied to the exclusive use of these endowments at a time when the foundation of any schools, except in connection with the dominant religion, is not allowed, and at another period when it is permitted to found schools not absolutely attached to the dominant religion. But this Bill asserts an exclusive claim, with the exception of a Conscience Clause, to the enjoyment of the revenues of nearly all the schools that were founded anterior to the Toleration Act. I do not wish to overstate the case, and that may not be literally correct, but I apprehend that to be the effect of the Bill, to claim exclusively for the Church of England in the matter of religion, all schools founded before the Act of Toleration, and I will go so far as to say all schools founded before the Restoration of Charles II.—a difference as to time important to bear in mind in the consideration of this question. I believe the number of schools founded before the Toleration Act was 584. Out of these, 100 were founded between the Restoration and the Revolution, in the reigns of Charles II. and James IL, reducing them to 484. If for the sake of simplifying the argument we cut off the 30 founded before the Reformation we shall leave a total of 454 Grammar Schools which were founded between 1530 and 1660. They form the main object of the attack of this Bill, and the doctrine laid down is that to these schools and their endowments the Church of England as it now exists is in equity absolutely entitled. That is the proposition I directly challenge. I say, the Church of England as it now exists, has no such title to the endowments given for the purposes of education, and of religious education, between 1530 and 1660. And why, Sir? Because, though, during that period, the Church of England represented parties in deadly conflict with one another, the whole nation was still combined within her borders. It was not allowed to exist outside the Church of England. Any man who wished to live at all must live within the Church of England. There was a constant struggle between Puritan and Episcopalian—corresponding to what we now mean by Churchmen and Nonconformists—in the reigns of Elizabeth, James, and Charles, until in the reign of Charles, the crisis seemed to come, under the pressure of the Episcopalian party. Another crisis came at the Restoration, when Dissent became a living entity known to the law, and sustained by no less than 2,000 ministers, who on St. Bartholomew's Day abandoned their temporalities in order to assert their principles. But between 1530 and 1660 all these were in the Church alike, and the fact that during those 130 years a man who founded a school expressed a desire that Church instruction should be given, signifies nothing whatever towards establishing an exclusive title on the part of the Church of the present day. At the Restoration, the triumph—the word is painful when applied to religious controversy—of the Church party was definitively obtained, when the Act of Uniformity was passed as the legislative basis of the Reformed Church of England. The Puritans then for the first time departed from the tenets of the Church, and Dissent became a separate existence. From that time forward you have some title to say that a man who left his money to the Church knew what he was doing, and that he was leaving it to Churchmanship as opposed to Noncomformity; but before 1660 such a fact carries you no way to your conclusion, because each was entitled to say that he gave his endowment in the hope of the triumph of the principles which he believed to be true. If that be so—and I should like to see how it is to be overthrown in argument—it is most inequitable on the part of the Church of England, in virtue of the triumph of 1660, to set up an exclusive claim to these endowments. And this is not the first time that the House of Commons has recognized the importance of the date in question, because in connection with the Irish Church Bill we had to face the very same question. From that date was it that the Irish Church became entitled to claim endowments as having been given to her in her specific character as a Reformed Episcopalian Church; and in the 29th clause of that Act it was laid down that 1660 was the year before which whatever had been given to the Church was to be considered as thrown into the National Treasury, and as open to be dealt with by Parliament as part of the national property. Then, Sir, if that be so, it is a mild word—and a mild word is the best—to say this Bill is inequitable. I say next it Is unusual, and I apprehend that the proof of that allegation is quite as easy as the proof of the former one. A change has taken place in the composition of this House. Those who were the majority are the minority. The hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse) recognizes in that fact the sweep of a tremendous judgment from on high. According to him it, appears that our passing this Endowed Schools Bill, far more than some more vulgar causes and considerations we heard of at the time, influenced the elections. He is a man who has studied the high moral elements of the case. Well, that is a view the truth of which I will not contest. It may be—though I do not know it—that the hon. Member stands in the foremost ranks of our philosophical observers of the affairs of men and nations; but I think it is a rash and dangerous practice for any hon. Member of this House, whenever a change has taken place in the position of parties, favourable to his own view, to discover in it the indications of the will of Providence with reference to some subject in which he is specially interested. No man can have a more reverent regard for Providence than I have; but this appropriation of Providence, its dignity, and its power, to the use of individual Members in their comments upon political affairs I consider to be a practice against which it is our duty to protest. This is a Bill for undoing part of the work of the last Parliament. It is in that respect unusual. I do not wish to deny or to qualify or weaken the fact that the party which sits opposite possesses, after having been many years in a minority, a large majority. What I wish to point out is this, that the history of our country for the last 40 or 50 years, presents to us, as a general rule, this remarkable picture: The initiative of policy in almost every instance—I do not know of even one exception—both of administrative and legislative, was supplied by the Liberal party, and subsequently adopted in prudence and in honesty by the party which is called Conservative. Take the financial—take the colonial—take any of the Departments; and I venture to say that you will find that this is a true description of the history of which we have all been witnesses. When the Conservative Government came into power in 1834, and again in 1841, after the first Reform Act had been the subject of a long dispute and much contention, there was absolute security in the mind of the country and full conviction that the party coming into office would not be so unwise and so un-patriotic as to retrace the steps taken by their Predecessors. This is the first instance on record, so far as I have been able to ascertain, of any deliberate attempt being made by a Ministry at retrogression. I invite the right hon. Gentleman who appears inclined to follow me—I invite hon. Gentlemen on either side of the House, to tell me, do they know of any other such instance, except, perhaps, the one which happened a century and a half ago? I allude to the case of the Presbyterian Establishment, which had been placed in possession of ecclesiastical patronage in Scotland in the time of William III. There then came a Tory Ministry into power, who, in the early years of the reign of Queen Anne, made an attempt at passing a reactionary Bill. This Ministry introduced the measure which we now hear so much about for the establishment of patronage in the Church of Scotland. This involved the repeal of the previous Act of William III. This is the only solitary instance to which Her Majesty's Government can refer. And what an instance!—an instance that brought about the passage of the Act which the same party now proposes to repeal, because it was an Act of retrogression, and because it interfered with the integrity of the Presbyterian constitution. That, then, is the only instance of any similar course that can be adduced in support of the ill-omened Bill we are now invited to vote for. If that be so—if this be a most unusual step—it is also as unwise as it is unusual. What does this Bill amount to? The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has said that this is one of the legacies which have been left by the Liberal Government. Yes; there have been a great many legacies left by the Liberal Government. The policy which at present governs every Department of the State is part of the legacy left by the Liberal Government. The right hon. Gentleman and his party ought to be more grateful for those Liberal legacies on which they will have to live as a Ministry. What are we now asked to do? The majority of this Parliament is invited to undo the work of their Predecessors in office in defiance of precedents which I should weary the House by enumerating, so great are their number and uniformity. It is rather remarkable that what is now the majority is about to undo an Act which they had never opposed in its passage. I believe that the conditions with reference to schools before the Toleration Act and before the Reformation were carried in this House without a division. I believe I am even strictly correct in saying that this provision was not only agreed to without a division, but without an adverse voice when the Question was put from the Chair. Yet, they now avail themselves of the first opportunity they have, to attempt to repeal what they did not object to when it was before Parliament. Is this wise? Is it politic? Is it favourable to the true interests of the Established Church? Is it well that the members of that great and wealthy Body should be represented as struggling at every instant to keep their hands upon the pounds, shillings, and pence, whatever else maybe in danger? I am quite sure that there are multitudes of the laity of that Church who do not take this said view; but the introduction and promotion of a Bill of this nature, in defiance of all the principles of equity, will raise some such consideration in the minds of a large proportion of the population of the country. What has been the judgment generally passed upon us by foreign authors—men of the highest weight and importance in their respective countries? They have often told truths of which we should not be fully aware from our own observation. What have they told us of their judgment of the course and conduct of the British Legislature? If you consult any one of those great political writers who adorn the literature of their own countries, you will find their language respecting us uniform. When they look at our political constitution they are struck by the multitude of obstructions which for the defence of minorities we allow to be placed in the way of legislation. They are struck by observing that the immediate result is great slowness in the steps we take, but when they refer to the consequences of this slowness they find one great and powerful compensation, and it is that in England all progress is sure. Vestigia nulla retrorsum. Whatever has been once decided—whatever has once taken its place in the Statute Book or has been adopted in our administration, no feelings of party, and no vicissitudes of majorities or minorities, are allowed to draw the nation into the dangerous, though they may be the seductive, paths of retrogression. That is the principle to which we appeal, and, even were the rights of the case less clear, even were it equitable instead of inequitable for the Church to make the claims which are made in her behalf by the Government, most unwise would it be on the part of any Administration—and, of all others, most unwise on the part of a Conservative Administration—to give a shock to one of the great guiding principles and laws which have governed the policy of this country throughout a course of many generations, and the solidity and security of which is one of the main guarantees of the interests we possess, and the liberty we enjoy.


said, he wished to be allowed to say a few words on the subject of the Bill now before the House. The right hon. Gentleman had called the Bill inequitable, unusual, and unwise. He knew that those sentiments had been echoed by those who sat behind the right hon. Gentleman, but he trusted that he might be allowed to express his opinion with the same freedom which the right hon. Gentleman had employed. And first of all, with reference to the unwisdom of the measure, the Government must take the responsibility of its own acts as far as that was concerned. The right hon. Gentleman volunteered to say that the supporters of the Church were in this instance looking to more pounds, shillings, and pence; but he (Mr. G. Hardy) ventured to say that they were looking not so much to the interests of the Church as to her duties, and they were not going to shrink from their responsibility because these interests happened to involve a question of pounds, shillings, and pence. It was for these reasons that he advocated the present Bill. Would the right hon. Gentleman who said that the present Government had taken an unusual course maintain that one Parliament had no right to interfere with what had been done by a previous Parliament, even when the liberties of England had been overturned? When Romanism had been restored, ought not a subsequent Parliament to have had the opportunity of restoring Protestantism? If the Church, the Crown, and the House of Lords were to be abolished, what better could be done than to restore them? He should like to know whether they were to leave everything without amendment, or whether if was only their immediate Predecessors who were to be entitled to make alterations? With regard to this Act, which the right hon. Gentleman had treated with such solemnity, the Government were doing nothing more than he and his Government did last year. A Bill was introduced in 1869, which, by the admission of the Commissioners themselves, contained a clause so imperfect in its terms that they could not explain it to their own satisfaction, and, therefore, had to ask for legal advice on the matter. A Committee was accordingly appointed last year, and to the credit of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster) he must say that he adopted every decision of the Committee, and he admitted that the Bill founded upon the deliberations of that Committee was as much an undoing of the Act of 1869 as the Bill before the House could be said to be. The Act of 1873 was passed with, he supposed, the view of improving the Act as it stood before. It was passed with reference to that special clause with regard to "express terms." And when the right hon. Gentleman said that was an inequitable proceeding on their part, he asked, how the right hon. Gentleman, as the head of the then Government, should have introduced Clause 19 of the original Endowed Schools Act, which contained the very principle embodied in the present Bill? The right hon. Gentleman said, up to the time of Charles II. there were parties in the Church struggling for supremacy, and, therefore, what was given at that period was given, he supposed, to be scrambled for by those who could get it. But the principle which the right hon. Gentleman introduced into his own Bill was totally inconsistent with that argument, because its 19th section contained those very words "express terms," without any limitation of time, and went back to the earliest period of the foundation of any schools of that description, whether in the reign of Henry VIII., Edward VI., Elizabeth, or any subsequent Sovereign down to Charles II. The Commissioners whom the right hon. Gentleman had so much eulogized were bound to act on that principle, and they did act upon it; and the right hon. Gentleman sat by and allowed that horrible iniquity to be committed. Therefore, in the case of Wakefield, which was even before the time of James I., as also in the case of Sherborne, those words in respect to "express terms" were held to bind the Commissioners to give those schools over to the Church of England. But then, the right hon. Gentleman said, the Government were bound to tell the House what they were going to do in the future. Well, they were only about to act on the principle of the right hon. Gentleman himself, and to do what he did in 1873 by the amendment of a single clause in the Endowed Schools Act. If, in the process of making a small amendment, they followed the right hon. Gentleman, the step they were taking ought not to be exaggerated to the enormous proportions to which the right hon. Gentleman had magnified it. They were only acting on the same principles as the right hon. Gentleman had done, though to a greater extent; and it did not therefore lie in his mouth to charge them with inequitable conduct. The right hon. Gentleman asked whether they meant to repeal the University Tests Act. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) knew how long he had himself taken an active part in the opposition to that Act. He (Mr. G. Hardy) had also opposed it to the end, and would not say even now that he did not regret its passing, nor that he deemed it absolutely just; but it had been passed, and the matter, therefore, was not as open as was the case with the question of that Endowed Schools Commission, which had been avowedly appointed only for a limited period, and was yet engaged in its work. With regard to the proposal to confer powers on the Charity Commission, so far as he knew they were prepared to accept the powers possessed by the Endowed Schools Commissioners, and no doubt those gentlemen would discharge their duties with fidelity, as the Endowed Schools Commissioners did theirs, for no one would impute bad faith to any one of them. They performed their duties with honesty and uprightness, and to the best of their ability, in accordance with the law they had to administer. So far as the Charity Commissioners were concerned, they were not so ignorant of the duties proposed to be intrusted to them as the right hon. Gentleman supposed. They were in the habit of preparing schemes for schools; and when he was told that his noble Friend was to take two parts—first of all to sit at the Charity Board, and next to revise their decisions—the right hon. Gentleman must know that he had himself been officially connected with many Boards at which he never really sat, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford had told the House that he himself ceased to sit at the Charity Board because he found that he could not exercise the influence which he felt he ought to do as a Minister of State. His noble Friend would act in the same spirit, more especially when he was called upon as Vice President, in conjunction with the President, to assume the responsibility which the right hon. Gentleman felt rested upon him in respect of the schemes which had to be presented to Parliament. They would, therefore, have in the first instance the independent action of the Charity Commissioners; and in the next place, the Ministers of State acting upon their responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had said that many of the schemes were not overthrown by the House of Commons. That was quite true. The right hon. Gentleman represented a Government strong enough to take care that the schemes which they presented to this House on their own responsibility should not be overthrown; but many more would have been overthrown but for the alterations in the Bill of last year proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford. Then, it was said that they were dealing unjustly with the Commissioners who had undertaken these arduous duties; but neither his noble Friend nor any of them had been guilty of any want of fairness or justice towards the nobleman and the two gentlemen who had undertaken to carry out the functions of this Commission. But whether they had been right or wrong, the Commissioners had been thoroughly condemned by the country; if they had been right, they had been felt to be wrong by the country. They had been, to some extent, at least, condemned by the Committee which sat last year, in the early paragraphs of their Report. They had not succeeded in bringing about a union between themselves and the trustees of those various charities so as to effect a reform of those institutions on an amicable footing. And it was because they had not acted in conjunction and in friendly harmony with the trustees of those charities with a view to accomplish their reform, and because there had consequently been heart-burnings in parishes, and bodies of trustees throughout the country had been set against them; for that reason, and not from any hostility to the Commissioners themselves, the Government had taken what he admitted was the somewhat invidious and painful course of allowing the Commission to come to an end and instituting another for the same purpose. As to the Government taking for the Church what belonged to the nation, he entirely repudiated that charge. In his view, national rights were not impaired by religious duties and religious responsibilities. If those schools were thrown open to the nation for secular instruction, and for religious instruction to all who would avail themselves of it, they were acting in the spirit of a nation which had a national Church and a national religion. They were offering religion to all, and forcing it on none. Everybody might come in and partake or abstain from partaking of what they offered; but in the meantime he said that a definite religious teaching was the only sound religious teaching that could be relied upon. The right hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh (Mr. Lyon Playfair) said they had adopted a Preamble that was inconsistent with former Bills; but he ought to know that that Bill was to be read with the two previous Acts; and it was because of the imperfection in the original Act—the main design of the founder being treated as if it was the promotion of a liberal education without including religion—that they introduced into the present Preamble words indicating that they did not view any education as really liberal which was not connected with religion. Then, why were they not to use the endowments, according to the will of the founder, for religious as well as for secular instruction, when he intended them to be devoted to both? Where a question of public policy was involved—where, for example, a charity did more harm than good, pauperizing and demoralizing the people—then the State would have a right to interfere and turn those endowments to advantageous purposes. But when they could not put their finger on a blot and say that the religious teaching contemplated was pernicious or was against public policy, then he maintained that they had a right to follow the founder's intentions in respect to religious as well as to secular instruction. There was, he believed, a great future in store for these endowments. He did not wish to check that spirit of endowment which was still rife in this country. A right hon. Friend of his, who sat opposite (Mr. Lowe), had written a pamphlet to show how disadvantageous endowments wore, and how much bettor we should be without them; but in his (Mr. Hardy's) opinion the system of endowments, combined with a careful inspection by the State, secured a fixity and permanence which were most important, and which, perhaps, could not otherwise be attained. The great fault in times past had been in the want of a sufficient inspection on the part of the State, and the State had come forward at last to condemn negligence which she had herself condoned. Now, he trusted they would go on in a different path, and, acting on the provisions of the present Bill, which had been brought in, not for the abrogation, but for the extension in degree, of the principle laid down by the late Government, would see that these endowments were properly administered for the benefit of the people of England.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 291; Noes 209: Majority 82.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.