§ (Viscount Sandon, Mr. Secretary Cross.)
§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That; Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Viscount Sandon.)
§ MR. ALDERMAN W. M'ARTHUR
presented a Petition from the Wesleyan Body, and was proceeding to read the same, when—
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the hon. Member was out of Order in reading the Petition. If he wished it read, he should move that it be read by the Clerk at the Table.
read the Petition, which set forth that the Petitioners viewed with alarm and regret certain provisions in the Endowed Schools Acts Amendment Bill, and prayed that it might not pass into law.
§ MR. FAWCETT
, in moving, as an Amendment—That, in the opinion of this House, it is inexpedient to sanction a measure which will allow any one religious Body to control schools that were thrown open to the whole nation by the policy of the last Parliament,said, the Bill which they were asked to consider was of such significance, that it would, in all probability, give an entirely new aspect to contemporary politics, and would mate some of those who were the supporters of institutions which were cherished by hon. Members opposite become their strong opponents. It would tend to make a party which had to some extent been disunited and dislocated, firm and compact. With regard to educational questions, he had always acted independently of party, and had striven not to let any abstract views of his own stand in the way of the progress of any measure which he thought would promote the intellectual advancement of the people. What was the object of the Bill, what was it intended to do, and what would be its probable consequences? It would convert into narrow sectarian institutions many hundreds of schools which were declared by the late Parliament to be national institutions, whose endowments ought to be used to promote the intellectual advancement of the entire people. It said the House was to search out the obscure records of the past, and if they could find any symbol of ecclesiasticism, any remnant of sectarianism, they were to impress it on these schools, regardless of the consequences which might be produced in the educational efficiency of the locality, or the religious concord of the people. At whatever time a school was founded—whether by the Catholics before the Reformation, or by the Presbyterians or Puritans in the days of Cromwell—if the slightest reference were made in the foundation-deed to the Church, the House was to assume that the religion which the founders wished to promote was that particular form of Church worship now prevalent; and that their primary object was not to bring high learning within the reach of those who were debarred by poverty from obtaining it; and that their endowment must be administered with the object of fostering a Church which was riven asunder by internal discord and intestine disputes. Every Catholic school founded before 304 the Reformation—every school founded by a Nonconformist, was to be regarded as a Church school, if any reference to religion or any ecclesiastical authority was mentioned. Before it was too late he would ask the House carefully to consider whether it was wise and prudent to revive the remembrance of past wrongs, and awaken the recollection of past injustice? Did the House wish to remind every Nonconformist in the country that prior to the year 1770 his forefathers, if they were of the same faith as himself, could not found a school? Did it wish to tell every Nonconformist that, even if a school were founded in his native town, he could not be appointed a manager, and his children could not enjoy the advantage of education in it, as though he were an outlaw and they were outcasts? Had the great Conservative party become so flushed with victory, so intoxicated by success, that, forgetting all their traditions of moderation, they were going to revive a fierce sectarian war in almost every town and village in the country, to recall the memory of past injustice, and to bestow on the Nonconformists an undeserved, an unmerited, and unprecedented insult? Was it likely the Nonconformists would submit to that? Why, the Government might as well expect to revive the Star Chamber, to re-impose Ship Money, or to restore any other emblem of effete wrong. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members might say No; but he knew he was putting a correct interpretation upon the feelings of thousands of his fellow-countrymen. He would give one example of the manner in which the Bill would work. In the last debate on the subject, reference was made to Birmingham, and it was not obscurely hinted that one of the chief reasons for attacking the Commissioners was, that they had not converted Birmingham School into a denominational institution. There was no place in the Kingdom where there existed more zeal for education, or where education was supported with more public spirit than it was in Birmingham. A scheme had been proposed which would give to the town council of Birmingham direct representation in the management of the school, so that Catholics, Nonconformists, and men of different religions might, if their fellow-townsmen so desired, be elected. Under the scheme, education 305 of a high kind would have been provided for 2,250 boys and girls; and, so vast were the endowments, that one-third of the whole number of pupils would have been exhibitioners elected from the elementary schools. There would have been a gradation of schools through which the son of the poorest artizan might have advanced to the highest honours and emoluments of the Universities. But if the Bill now before the House was passed, not a single Nonconformist or Roman Catholic could become a manager, and the children of Nonconformists and Roman Catholics would be deprived of the advantage of the endowment of scholarships and exhibitions. In fact, the Bill would actually make things worse than they were at present, for their was nothing in the deed of the school to prevent a Nonconformist from being elected a manager. Again, it was intended to provide that the head master must be in Holy Orders, and that the assistant masters must be Churchmen. The first restriction was bad from every point of view, and it was especially bad and undesirable in the case of a day school. At the University of Cambridge the most distinguished students showed each year a growing disinclination to enter into Holy Orders. Out of the 42 Fellows of Trinity College who had been elected since 1860, there were, at the present moment, only five in Orders. Moreover, the very pick of the Fellows of that College were appointed to tutorships and lecturerships; and of the four tutors, two only were in Holy Orders, while all the assistant tutors, 10 in number, were laymen. Thus it would seen that the chance of getting the best man for the mastership of Birmingham School would be greatly limited, if the restriction with regard to Holy Orders was insisted upon. What made the disinclination among Fellows of Trinity to take Orders still more remarkable was, that if they did take Orders, they would obtain a great reward. If a man were a layman and left Cambridge, he could only hold his Fellowship for seven years, whereas if he took Orders, he could hold it permanently, or, at least, until he married. What would be the effect of preventing Nonconformists and Catholics from becoming managers of the school in a place like Birmingham? He was accustomed when he paid a visit to that town, which possessed a great public 306 school, to stay with a gentleman who was known throughout the neighbourhood for his great benevolence and public spirit. Beginning life as a poor artizan, he had amassed a largo fortune in commerce, and now devoted himself entirely to the promotion of the public institutions of the town. Such a man under this Bill could not become a Governor, although it might be a position above all others which he might wish to occupy, because he was a Nonconformist. A man who might be a gambler, a ruined roué, if he were a Churchman, might be elected; but because a man was a Nonconformist, he was treated as if he had done some disgraceful act which would justly deprive him of the rights of citizenship. Hon Gentlemen opposite said they were going to do that in the interests of the Church; that they were going to carry on a war of reprisals; that when they were weak, the Church was attacked, now that they were strong, the Church must be vindicated. By whom had the Church been attacked? Not by the Liberal Party in that House—["Oh, oh!"]—at any rate, not by the majority of that party, because many of them were sincere friends of the Church, and time would show, much wiser friends than hon. Gentlemen opposite. At present, the Church was never attacked by more than a minority of the Liberal party in the House, and by an active party out-of-doors; but if they passed the Bill, the Church would be attacked by a firm, an united, and a compact party, including many a man who was not at present prepared to attack the Church, but who was equally not prepared or willing to defend it in this course. All these were equally resolved to prevent the national Church grasping and claiming those endowments to which they had no legal right, and which Parliament had decided should be the property of the nation, and they would equally say the responsibility was not theirs, if the maintenance of the Church was to be associated with the perpetuation of social and civil disabilities. Could anything be more mischievous to the Church and the country at large than to stereotype sectarian differences by separating children in early youth according to the religion of their parents. He maintained that it was a gross injustice to deprive any section of our countrymen of the advantages of these endowments, 307 and he believed it would re-act upon the Church itself. Moreover, the Bill was to be regarded in a point of view more mischievous than excluding Nonconformists and Roman Catholics from being school managers. And what would be the inevitable result? It would convert those schools into purely denominational institutions, and a feeling of sectarian rancour would be raised which would touch the self-respect of Nonconformist parents, and the mischief would re-act upon Churchmen themselves. It might be asked, as a similar question had been asked, when the opening of the Universities was under discussion—"Why don't the Nonconformists found schools of their own?" It was scarcely necessary to point out that there was something in the case of educational institutions which money could not purchase. The wealth of the wealthiest could not suddenly call into existence a Trinity, a Christ's Church, or a Baliol. Around these institutions clung priceless memories of the past; they had been made what they were by the illustrious men reared within their walls, who had won immortality for themselves by literature and science, and spread the renown of the English name over the whole world. Those old endowed schools of England were the common birthright of England, and what they had done with respect to the Universities they would most certainty carry out with respect to these minor institutions. But what chance was there of the Universities remaining the national institutions which the last Parliament had made them, if this Bill were passed. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich on that head could not be answered. The Home Secretary, who was always appealing to the House to be logical, could not stop here. Hon. Members opposite would not stop here, unless they were promptly checked in this career of educational ardour. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had said that he would like to undo what Parliament had done in the abolition of University tests, but he could not. The abolition of tests had as yet produced a very slight effect, and it would be possible to arrest its progress. There was but one corollary of the measure before the House—if endowed schools were to be treated as sectarian institutions, every argument 308 advanced in that object would show that Colleges and Universities must be restored to their denominational uses. Last year a great denominational institution was converted into one absolutely undenominational. There was not a school which would be affected by the Bill so purely denominational in its history and traditions as were Trinity College and the University of Dublin, for if ever institutions were founded for denominational purposes, it was these as a bulwark against Catholicity. And yet, what was done with them last year? Every vestige of a religious test, every semblance of religious disability, was swept away. How was that effected? By a predominant Liberal majority trampling on the cherished principles of the Conservatives? No. It was done not only with the connivance of the Conservatives, but with their active support. The names of two distinguished Members of the Conservative party were on the back of the Bill, and the measure was not voted against by a single Conservative; on the contrary, it was supported by every Conservative in the House. It was no reply to that argument to say—"Oh, but Ireland had not a State Church." But she had a Protestant religion, and if last Session hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite allowed endowments left by Elizabeth for the special use of Protestants to be used by Catholics, how could they justify what they were doing now when they said that endowments loft by Elizabeth should not be enjoyed by all Protestants, but only by those who belonged to the Anglican Church? It would be said that he had exaggerated the consequences of this Bill. ["Hear, hear! "from the Ministerial Benches.] He was glad to hear that cheer because it would give him an opportunity of quoting something to which he would particularly direct the attention of hon. Gentlemen opposite. It was impossible at any rate to exaggerate one thing, and that was the mischief produced by the speech of the Vice President of the Council. Not a single hon. Member opposite would pretend that the leading journal of this country had criticized the doings of the present Government in an unfriendly spirit. It had, at least, given them an independent support. Now, what was the opinion of The Times with regard to this measure? It said— 309The Bill is, to say the least, an extraordinary production, for which it is difficult, if not absolutely impossible, to find a precedent. Mr. Hardy goes back to the Restoration of 1660 to discover something like it. Ministries have come into office before on Conservative principles, but they have wisely refrained from reversing the previous policy of Parliament, and have been content to keep things as they found them. … It may be possible to carry by a majority of 80 or of 90 the second reading of a Bill proposing this wholesale re-delivery to one religious body of schools which, founded for national purposes and endowed with national property, have been set free for the use and education of all Englishmen; but it must be obvious to every Conservative who reflects upon the matter that it must be a fatal victory. There are occasions when numbers have none of the reality of strength, and this is one of them.And a little after it said—The common sense of the English people will not follow Mr. Hardy in vindicating the reactionary character of the Government Bill by likening it to the accession of Elizabeth or to the restoration of Charles II., and the forced character of this defence, is, indeed, the strongest evidence of the impolicy of the measure."—[The Times, July 15.]There was no journal in the country more free from——
§ MR. SPEAKER
To quote extracts from newspapers referring to debates in this House is altogether out of Order.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, that in that case, he would only observe that the Bill had been described, by an authority which hon. Members opposite would respect, as one of the worst measures of modern times, and what made it worse was the speech by which it was introduced. He had met many men during the last few days who had been as strong in their support of the Establishment as hon. Gentlemen opposite, and who declared that if the Church was to assert claims which would be fatal to the cause of education, there was no other alternative for them but to go in for disestablishment. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite might make light of the threat, and might further congratulate themselves on the fact that the Liberals were a disorganized and disunited party. Would they now say that the Liberal party was a disorganized and disunited party? The Petition which had been read at the Table showed hon. Gentlemen opposite that they had turned against themselves a powerful section of their fellow-countrymen who in days past had been the strongest allies of the Conservative Party, and he asked, would they be sitting on the Benches which 310 they now occupied, if it had not been for the support which they had received from the Wesleyan Body? That Body would be deeply and justly offended if the Bill should pass. The measure would be the stirring up of discord and strife throughout the country. The noble Lord the Vice President of the Council did not for a moment pretend that this Bill had been introduced to improve the education of the people. It had been introduced, according to the noble Lord, because the Commission was dead; because he and his party intended to carry on a war of reprisals and turn the guns of the fortress against the Liberal party. But two could play at that game, and the noble Lord might be well assured that the Liberal party throughout the country would not tamely submit to have the guns of the fortress directed against them. But if the Commission was dead, who had killed it? Could any Commission that over existed have survived such a speech as that delivered by the noble Lord? It could not be said, neither was it pretended that the Commission had done anything wrong. The only justification for their dismissal was, that they had incurred unpopularity by faithfully administering an Act which was unanimously passed by the House. Could anything be more fatal to Constitutional Government? Could anything introduce greater lawlessness and demoralization than to tell the future Commissioners, as a rule, to guide their conduct not by law but by the prospects of a Party coming into office? Let the House mark that these Commissioners were to be censured, because of certain private opinions extracted from one of them in cross-examination before a Select Committee. Never was anything so absolutely dishonourable. A man of great intellect, of high position, of a distinguished University career, sat in the chair as witness; no one asked him whether he and his brother Commissioners had administered the law according to their private opinions; but he thought they wanted to know what his private opinions were, and having given them, hon. Gentlemen turned round on him. When a party was reduced to such artifices the independence of the House of Commons must come to the rescue. The House had not to consider whether they had done right or wrong, but were they 311 legally bound to act as they had done. Now he was prepared to contend that if they had clone anything but what they had done, they would have been guilty of a dereliction of duty. There were five causes of the unpopularity of the Commissioners—first, because they had introduced into the management of schools the principle of election, instead of co-optation; second, because they had converted several old grammar schools into modern schools; third, because they had devoted a certain portion of the endowments to the education of girls; fourth, because they had introduced a system of electing boys by merit, and not by patronage; and fifth, because they had caused the endowments to be devoted to higher educational purposes. But all these things simply showed that the Commissioners in carrying out the Act of 1869 had only acted strictly in accordance with the Act and the recommendations of the Report of the Endowed Schools Inquiry Commission, than which there was never a Commission so absolutely unanimous in their recommendations, and of which Lord Derby and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were two of the most distinguished Members. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER said, he did not sign the Report.] The recommendations were his. Did the right hon. Gentleman sign a counter Report? [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: No.] Well, the Report of the Schools Inquiry Commission was inserted in the Act, to guide the Commissioners, and in every one of the schemes of the Commissioners, they had acted on the recommendation of the Schools Commission. The only real charge that could be brought against the Commissioners was, that, according to the principles of the Act, they had not carried out its policy so far as they might have done. To show the extreme unfairness with which the Commissioners had been attacked, he would direct attention to the fact that 200 schemes had been passed by the House before the commencement of the present Session, and, according to the Answer just given by the noble Lord the Vice President, 40 of these schemes had been passed since the present Government came into office, and not one of them had been challenged by the Government. Only one passed in previous Sessions had been seriously debated in this House, and 312 that was the scheme for the Emanuel Hospital. Were the Commissioners told in that debate that they were unpopular and had done wrong? They were told so by the representatives of the London Corporation, but not by a single Member of the Government; on the contrary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade supported the Commissioners by their votes in favour of the scheme. The noble Lord the Vice President charged the Commissioners with having applied to education only £6,000 out of £218,000 given as doles; but with singular forgetfulness, he omitted to state that the Commissioners had not the power to devote a sixpence of these doles to education without the consent of the trustees. By doing as much as they had, they had gained the unpopularity of which they were accused, and they were blamed because they had not secured more of this unpopularity. As to the Commission expiring this year, it had been again and again stated that the late Government had only extended the Commission for one year, and therefore they could not object to the Bill; but it was perfectly well known that the late Government was anxious to extend the Commission for three years, and they only assented to one year in order to get the Bill through. To show further the utter baselessness of the charge against the Commissioners, he wished to refer to two endowments, the only two that had been at all cavilled at during the long debate of last week, those of Sedbergh and Giggleswick. The latter was a sort of high school in the north-west corner of Yorkshire, having an, annual income of £5,000 a-year. With that 150 scholars were dealt with, 30 having quasi classical teaching, and the remaining 120, not getting as good an education as they would have in an ordinary National school. At Sedbergh, the master had £600 a-year, and educated 11 boys, frankly admitting that he did not wish to have any more. What had replaced these scandalous abuses? At Bradford there were excellent schools for 300 boys and 300 girls; at Keighley a most important Trade and Science school; at Sedbergh there were schools for 300 boys and 300 girls; and at Giggleswick one of the best modern Science schools in the whole country. If that was all that could be said against the Commis- 313 sioners, they might well excuse any little shortcomings in their performance of public duties which had been so creditable to themselves and so advantageous to the country. In the debate the other night, the Solicitor General and the Home Secretary advocated a strictness of dealing with the wills of founders worthy of Lord Eldon himself. But what did the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Spencer Walpole) say last year in the debate? He said—Those intentions should he literally interpreted in order to adapt them to the requirements of the age."—[3 Hansard, ccxv. 1938.]That had been the principle of these Commissioners, and acting upon that, they had brought liberal learning within the reach of the people. As an illustration, he would mention the scheme connected with his own constituency—Hackney. Robert Aske, 200 years ago, left a foundation—now worth £9,000 a-year, and likely to increase still more—for the maintenance of 20 almsmen and 24 charity children. These almsmen had been pensioned off with £75 a-year, and out of the remainder of the fund four great schools had been established, two for 300 boys each, and two for 300 girls each. But if the dicta of the Solicitor General and the Homo Secretary had prevailed that grand scheme could not have been carried out; for nothing could be more different from the idea of the founder, that the half of his benefaction should go to almsmen, which becoming so large an amount, had only a demoralizing effect, and half to charity schools, for which there was no object, since elementary schools were now established everywhere by law. From every point of view in which this measure was looked at, it might be described as unwise, mischievous, and unprecedented, and as likely to stir up in every locality a spirit of bitter rancour. It would give a stab to that system of constitutional government which they ought studiously to maintain, for if Ministers always were impulsively and impetuously to undo the work of their Predecessors, everything would become a mass of confusion, and instead of good government, anarchy would prevail. He could find in the measure no trace of that moderation and watchfulness of public opinion which had so often distinguished the Prime Minister and some of his Colleagues, and which 314 had made some not regret his advent to power. The people would see now that it could not calculate on that tranquillity and repose which England needed, and if the Bill were passed the result, as he had said early in his speech, would be that a firm, united, and resolved party would be established, absolutely determined that they would not rest from agitation until they had obtained such a majority as would efface a measure which would always be looked upon as a memory of what could be done when a spirit of denominational ascendancy was once let loose. If hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House merely wished to facilitate the downfall of the right hon. Gentleman and his party, they could not do wiser than to pass the Bill. But they had higher motives. They would oppose it in every possible way, and at every stage, because it would inflict a great injury upon education, and transfer to a sect, endowments left to promote and sustain liberal learning and intellectual advancement amongst the entire people. He would conclude by moving the Amendment.
§ LORD GEORGE CAVENDISH
in seconding the Amendment, said, nothing would have induced him, at this period of the Session, to put himself forward, if it had not been for the great importance and unusual character of this Bill. Of the 40 years he had been in this House, he had sat 30 years on the Ministerial benches, and he thought it quite fair the other party should have their turn now, and that his own party should bear their defeat and its consequences with philosophy. For his own part, he did so, but he had to complain that in passing the present measure, the House of Commons would be undoing the policy of the late Government, which received from Parliament very general acceptance. In the case of other measures, such as that for the abolition of Church-rates, which hon. Gentlemen opposite had resisted in that House, what was the course which they had pursued? Why, that when they came into office, they allowed those measures to pass unopposed, inducing the other House to give to them its assent. He wished they had taken a similar course in the present instance, instead of indulging in a re-actionary policy. He objected to the Bill before the House very strongly on four grounds. He thought it most unfortunate that a measure of such im- 315 portance should have been brought forward at so late a period of the Session, when it was impossible the country, and especially those who were interested in the question, could be made sufficiently acquainted with its scope, tendency, and future consequences. He concurred also with the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) in regretting the tone adopted by the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council in moving the second reading It was wanting altogether, he thought, in that wise moderation which had. characterized his Predecessor in office when bringing forward the Bill of 1869 and the Bill of last year. He was also sorry that the noble Lord should have made the subject a party question, and that he should have accused hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House of being disposed to disobey the wishes of the founders of endowed schools. The noble Lord had, it was true, observed as an excuse for accepting the measure of 1869, that the nerves of the Conservative party were shaken; but he did not think that was a remark which was very complimentary, especially to the present Prime Minister, whose nerves as far as he could see, had never much suffered in that way. But, be that as it might, he was opposed to the present Bill for another reason, and that was because he was of opinion that the summary dismissal of the Commissioners was a course which it was most inconvenient to take, and to find a precedent for which it would be necessary to go back to the days of George III., when certain noblemen and gentlemen were dismissed from office, because they held certain private opinions. For his own part, he did not think the Commissioners had been blamed by public opinion or by the Committee which sat to inquire into the result of their labours. He was not prepared, indeed, to justify every word which had been said, or every opinion which had been published by the Commissioners; indeed, with regard to a school in his own neighbourhood their conduct was scarcely justifiable; and he was of opinion that the appointment of Mr. Hobhouse, who held very pronounced views on the question of endowments, was one which was calculated to diminish their usefulness. It should, however, be borne in mind that he was a Charity Commissioner at the time those views were put 316 forward, and that it was to that body that the powers of the existing Commission were to be transferred. It had been written of Charles II. that he never said a foolish thing and never did a wise one, and the saying if reversed might, perhaps, very well be applied to the Endowed Schools Commissioners, of whom the Committee had pronounced it to be their opinion that they had done good sound work. The noble Lord said that the Commission was dead—slain by public opinion; but like Falstaff, he had it up again and fought it a full hour by the clock—not of Shrewsbury but of the House. The real cause of their dismissal was, he believed, to be found, as stated by the noble Lord, in the fact that they were unpopular; but it was hardly possible that they could be otherwise, dealing as they did with such important interests. Indeed, their unpopularity arose, in his opinion, in a great measure from their honesty. He recollected well the discussion in that House with regard to Emanuel Hospital, and it would have been better, perhaps, if his right hon. Friend who was then at the head of the Government had been more cautious than he had been in pouring out the vials of his wrath on those who hankered after the flesh-pots of Westminster, and in also speaking of the Corporation of London as being gorged with wealth, for he thought to himself at the time that the seats of the sitting Members for London, Mr. Alderman Lawrence and Mr. Crawford, were sure to go at the next election. He felt strongly that the summary dismissal of a man like Lord Lyttelton, who from his high character and his rough and ready common sense, was just the man to do away with corruption and jobbery in high places, was "a heavy blow and great discouragement." Another of the unfortunate effects of this measure would be the exclusion of a large number of gentlemen who took an active interest in education, and who would be disqualified from acting as trustees. It would also throw great obloquy on the Church. The measure was unwise and impolitic; it was also most unjust. What was more he thought it a mistake, and he heartily wished that the Government would yet retrace their steps in this matter. If he took a more party or interested view on the 317 subject of education he should say to the Government "by all means go on with the measure;" for nothing would be more calculated to unite the Liberal party, and to bring back Nonconformists to their ranks. The language of the Nonconformists had been that they did not care whether a Conservative or a Liberal Government was in power, but they would now see what they had got, and what they were likely to get. He could not help thinking it most unfortunate when the angry feeling which had been excited some weeks ago regarding elementary education had begun to moderate itself, that they should now be again stirring up the embers of controversy by the Bill. He should heartily support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hackney.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is inexpedient to sanction a measure which will allow any one religious body to control schools that were thrown open to the whole nation by the policy of the last Parliament,"—(Mr. Fawcett.)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, he was sure the House would agree with him that the hon. Member for Hackney was well entitled to claim their attention on the question of education. "What he said would always be listened to with attention on both sides, from the independence he had shown in regard to elementary education, especially in the debates on the famous 25th clause of the Elementary Education Act. He thought, however, that on the present occasion the hon. Gentleman in quoting what he had said ought to have been more careful to quote him correctly. His hon. Friend said he (Viscount Sandon) had threatened, speaking for the Government, to point their guns against the Nonconformists; but he said nothing of the kind. He said exactly the contrary—namely, that the political Nonconformists were pointing their guns upon the Church, and thereby grievously hindered the action of those who, like himself, were endeavouring to draw together the Nonconformist Churches and the 318 National Church. Surely the hon. Gentleman was not justified in placing words in his mouth on this important subject, which were precisely opposite to what he actually used. With regard to the Amendment, he saw in it no allusion to the subject of the Commissioners; so that that was not a fair subject for discussion on this occasion. But, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had given the weight of his opinion against the way in which he (Viscount Sandon) had alluded to the Commission, in the remarks which it was his disagreeable duty to make respecting it on the second reading, he felt bound to bow to the right hon. Gentleman's superior experience and judgment, and most willingly expressed his regret if he did not sufficiently enlarge on the good work of the Commissioners which no one was more ready to acknowledge, though he could not but blame their general administration of the Acts; but he certainly thought that he had carefully guarded himself in his first speech against undervaluing them, or denying their high qualities, which were well known to all. He would also remind the House that he had carefully quoted every word of praise of the Commission contained in the Report of the Committee of the House of last Session, though it was obviously against his argument to do so; but he was glad, and felt it right to place these favourable statements on record. Surely, in their political life, in that House, when they constantly felt obliged to blame severely the acts of hon. Gentlemen opposite them when they held high office, it was not supposed because they did not at the same time praise some of their proceedings, that they thereby implied a want of appreciation of any of their services to the country as public men. It was their right and duty to criticize freely any of the proceedings of public men in that House, without it being thrown in their teeth that they had no appreciation of their public services. And on the same ground he held it was both his right and his duty as representing the Government, to criticize freely the action of the Commission, without being charged with want of appreciation of the good work which had undoubtedly been effected by their instrumentality. He need hardly say he bad felt it his duty to be a very 319 disagreeable one, for one of the Commissioners, he was happy to say, was a friend of his own. Though, of course, there was much which had been rightly done by the Commissioners, and with which he desired to express his hearty sympathy, still he must say that he saw nothing to retract in what he had said as to the present position of the Commission, and their impaired powers of future usefulness. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, as he had ventured to prophesy—on introducing the Bill to the House—they would do, now bore the highest testimony to the conduct of the Commission; but why had they not done so last year? Why were they silent last year in the discussions on the Bill, or when the duration of the Commission was shortened from three years to one year, while the judgment of the country was yet in suspense? Why did not the hon. Member for Hackney himself defend them, when he saw the current of public opinion was setting against them, and that their usefulness and their very existence was virtually closed by the short extension of the powers which were last year assigned to them, without a protest from the right hon. Member for Bradford, or from the former Prime Minister, or from anyone in that House? Why did he not protest against the charges in the Act of 1869, made by the right hon. Member for Bradford by the Act of last year, which differed in degree principally from the present Bill? Had they then spoken out, possibly the judgment of the country would have been somewhat different. Only one conclusion could be drawn from their coldness or silence last year. As to what had been suggested, that the Lord President and himself ought to have entered into communications with the Commissioners during the four or five months they had been in office, it was surely absurd to think that they could consult them as to the duration or cessation of their own powers, or enter into friendly and confidential relations with them, when the Government proposed to allow their Commission to expire. And it must always be remembered that this Commission was only appointed for a short time, partook nothing of the character of a permanent department of State, and was always mentioned by the right hon. Member for Bradford as having a temporary existence and a some- 320 what tentative character. Many of the remarks of the hon. Member for Hackney were utterly mistaken, both with regard to the object of this Bill and the intention with which the Government would work it out. The hon. Member spoke of the opening of the schools to the whole nation through the policy of the last Parliament. Now, he wished to clear away all misapprehension on this subject. The endowed elementary schools had no Conscience Clause imposed, and therefore had not been, what the hon. Member called, opened by the last Parliament. It was reserved for the present Government, by the present Bill, to propose to open the endowed elementary schools to all by a Conscience Clause; and as for the grammar and other secondary schools, the last Parliament provided—under the guidance of the Government of the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), and under the direction of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster)—that a close denominational Governing Body and masters in Holy Orders might be stipulated for in the new trust deeds of all schools—even before the Toleration Act, and however early they were founded—if there was certain strict evidence of the denominational intention of the founder; and last year the evidence which was to be accepted in proof of such intention was still further extended by the right hon. Member for Bradford as to some 100 or 150 schools after the Toleration Act. These schools were, indeed, open to all under a Conscience Clause, which gave also the advantages to all children of all, except certain specially reserved, exhibitions and emoluments, even if they claimed to be exempt from the religious teaching and observances. This was equally the intention of the present Government, and they believed it was equally secure under the present Bill, without a special Conscience Clause; but, to prevent any misapprehension, though they were assured it was not needed legally, they re-enacted the Conscience Clause, which they intended to carry—and were assured would carry—the same opening of all the exhibitions, &c., mentioned above, to Nonconformists. As to the wording of the Conscience Clause, it was considered so much a matter of course that, after the draftsman had been instructed to re-enact the fullest Conscience Clause—meaning, of course, the provisions of the one in the 321 original Act of 1869—no further attention was, he believed, paid to the clause, and it was passed as a matter of course. He was willing, however, to take blame to himself for not observing that the words "religious instruction" were not put in as well as "religious observances." That it was only an oversight the House would clearly acknowledge, as he himself, in his first speech, explained the Conscience Clause as exempting from both religious instruction and observances; and, respecting the admission of Nonconformists—whether they accepted or rejected the religious teaching and observances of the endowed schools—to the exhibitions, &c, of the schools they were informed by their legal advisers that, in accordance with the intention of the Government, the same security was given by the Conscience Clause of this Bill as in the Act of 1869. As, therefore, not only the Conscience Clause was fully preserved as it was before; but as it was also proposed to be extended by the present Government to many more schools, that was to the elementary endowed schools, in addition to the grammar schools; and considering that free access to all exhibitions, &c., was intended by the present Government to be secured by this Bill, just as much as by the previous Act, to the children of all denominations, the principal point remaining at issue between the hon. Member for Hackney and the Government was, the constitution of the Governing Bodies of the schools. Now, as he had stated in his first speech, that the Government did not propose that the Governing Bodies should necessarily be of one creed, any more than did the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Forster), he thought the remarks of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hackney were more fairly directed against the Act of 1869, and that of 1873, and the principles laid down in them by the Liberal party, than against the Bill of the present Government, which only fairly and justly carried out those principles. The Bill of 1869 gave absolute power to the Commissioners to appoint all the Governors of one denomination, in schools where the endowment was proved to be denominational, according to the express terms, as defined strictly by the act of the founder's will. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford proposed and sanctioned that 322 even with reference to schools dating before the Toleration Act. There was not, therefore, one shred of principle involved in the present discussion. Not one protest was made against that Bill at the time; the question now, therefore, was only one of evidence and of degree. In the opinion of Lord Lyttelton himself, if the Commissioners were bound to adhere strictly to Clause 19, the result was an absurdity, and they—the Commissioners—had felt bound to act in this way. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were in this dilemma—they must acknowledge either that it had been their wish to keep intact a clause which, admittedly, led to an absurdity, or that they had meant the clause to be a sham. He did not believe they had meant either. It seemed to him they had not been aware what the operation of the clause would be, and that had they been aware of it, they would in the first instance have materially altered the provision. Last year, they acknowledged, by producing an amending Bill, that to a certain extent there had been an absurdity. With regard to schools founded after the passing of the Toleration Act, that amending Bill altered materially the requirements as to evidence showing the wishes of the founders. But it did only partial justice, and it was now desired that full justice should be done. It had been said that Her Majesty's Government, as a new Government, was debarred from making the proposed changes which proposed to do injustice to no class or Church in the community, to take nothing from anyone which they had already, but to prevent a gross absurdity being perpetuated—as acknowledged by Lord Lyttelton and his brother Commissioner—and a gross injustice being perpetrated by the strict interpretation of Clause 19, which the former Commissioners had thought they were bound to give, and which other Commissioners might equally assume. But, how could that be maintained in the face of the fact that last year a Liberal Government had itself introduced a Bill to amend that sacred legislation of 1869? "Was it meant that no improvements were to be made, except by the Liberal party? An injustice had to be remedied—an injustice which, he believed, had in many cases been unintentionally done by the right hon. Gentleman opposite; but, being con- 323 vinced that an injustice had been done, Her Majesty's Government had felt it their duty to do all in their power to remedy it. There was no analogy between the present ease and that of the University Tests Act. With regard to the latter, the matter had been frequently before the country on the hustings, and the sense of the nation had been deliberately taken; and he, for his part, would be the last to seek to reverse legislation effected under such circumstances. But the Endowed Schools Act had not, before it became law, been before the people, and it had been subjected to amendment by the very Government which introduced it. Moreover, it was well known that the verdict of the nation at the late General Election was in some degree based on the proceedings of the Government under the Endowed Schools Act. He would appeal to all who had so lately canvassed the constituencies of the country, whether they did not find great and widespread dissatisfaction with the working of the Endowed Schools Act, in almost all the localities where its operation had been felt. Was it a question which hon. Gentlemen opposite would care to have tried upon the hustings? He believed they would sooner think of flying. There was this further difference between the University Tests Act and the Endowed Schools Act, that in connection with the former, the Liberal Government went on the avowed principle of disregarding the wishes of the founders, while as to the latter, they laid down the principle that the wishes of the founders were to be kept in view. Her Majesty's Government had proposed the universal adoption of a Conscience Clause, with the view that scholars attending the grammar schools might have all the advantages of these schools, without being obliged to attend the religious worship of the body to which the schools belonged, or to receive religious instruction to which their parents objected. With regard to the appointment of a Governing Body, under Clause 18, Government simply desired that there should be no hard-and-fast line drawn as to the action of the Commissioners, as he had said in introducing the Bill, the Government had no wish that the Governing Bodies should necessarily be of one particular creed. While seeking to act with justice to the Church, they 324 wished, as he strongly expressed it in his first speech, to have all due consideration for the wishes and feelings of Nonconformists. He, for one, would have never consented to put his hand to a measure which would close the great Governing Bodies of the endowed schools against their Nonconformist brethren. These, then, were the views of Her Majesty's Government on this important part of the question; he had hoped that he had clearly expressed them in his opening speech; and he thought now the House would agree that the hon. Member had little cause for his somewhat vehement invective, and that he himself had some reason to complain of having been misrepresented in this difficult and. complicated matter, and of the intentions of the Government having been misconstrued and misunderstood. Taking warning, however, from the experience of the last Commission, and remembering how, under the strict interpretation of the former Act, much larger powers were put at the disposal of the Commissioners than were, he believed, intended or understood by the House at the time, and also observing that very different constructions had been put by different hon. Members upon some clauses of the Bill from what had been announced and intended, the Government were determined to prevent any misapprehension for the future. With this view they would propose an additional clause in Committee, removing all doubts, in accordance with his declarations in his original speech, as to the action of the Commissioners respecting the Governing Bodies. With this view they would give more full directions as to the administration of the powers which it was proposed to intrust to the Charity Commission, and they could add words which would prevent any doubt as to the mode in which the powers of the Commissioners should be exercised. Where, in the instrument of foundation, it was expressly laid down that all the members of the trust should be members of a certain denomination, it was proposed they should be so. In the same way, if provision was made that a certain proportion should be members of a certain denomination, it was desired that this direction should be observed. In other cases, Government desired that the matter should be settled by the Commissioners in accordance with the requirements of the locality con- 325 cerned, keeping, of course, in view what he had said originally of the intentions of the Government, that they did not wish that the Governing Bodies should necessarily be of one particular creed. He believed that this measure as a whole, not, of course, in all its details, had been accepted not only by the great mass of Churchmen, but also by the great mass of the Nonconformists of the country. Of course, the Government did not expect that those hon. Gentlemen opposite who had acted as the mouthpieces of Nonconformist, political, liberationist societies would pursue a course of conciliation; but he believed the great mass of Nonconformists would welcome the measure, and assist the Government in carrying it out. He trusted he had shown that the Bill and the intentions of the Government had been much misunderstood, and that a cloud of exaggeration had been thrown round the whole matter. This was not altogether unnatural in the heat of a party debate; considering, also, the complicated character of the subject of the Bill itself, which was obliged to follow the perhaps necessarily complicated working of the Acts of 1869 and of 1873. He appealed, then, after the explanations he had given, to all hon. Members in the House to help the Government in their efforts to reform these ancient endowments. He appealed to all the Members of the House to put aside their party and sectarian differences, and removing this great subject from the sphere of party contest, to give their assistance to the Government in their honest endeavours to re-awaken the interest of the country in this great undertaking-, and to give fresh life and vigour to these ancient institutions. Thus, they might hope that the main intentions of their honoured founders might be once more thoroughly carried out, so that a liberal and religious education might be made available for the large and various middle class of our land; and at the same time, a door be again opened, whereby the children of merit and talent of the labouring classes might be admitted into these higher schools, so that in time, they, too, as well as the middle classes, might, if fitted by superior genius, industry, and character, share all the advantages of the highest in the land; and thereby, he doubted not, the general prosperity 326 and renown of our common country would most surely be promoted.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that after listening attentively, he was unable to perceive that the concession offered by the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council would make any alteration in the Bill. He (Mr. Forster) understood that the noble Lord proposed to insert clauses under which the Commissioners, in certain cases, would not be obliged to appoint as Governors members of one particular Church. He never supposed that the original Bill meant that they should be so compelled; but he supposed that it would provide, even with these alterations, that when there were no Dissenters upon the Governing Body, none would be admitted. Such an arrangement had been found to be so unjust and so disadvantageous to education in the Act of 1869, that a Proviso was inserted, that the Commissioners should be obliged to insert a clause preventing the co-optative Governors from acting in that way, and directing that religious opinions were not to affect the qualifications of the Governing Body. The clause in question was one of the most important in the Bill, and the House was placed at a disadvantage in not having the Amendments before it, and he imagined that the noble Lord had inadvertently omitted to move the adjournment of the debate, in order that they might know exactly the nature of the measure before them. Everything depended upon the exact words of the Amendment proposed. So far as he could understand, they had no meaning; but if the noble Lords' comment upon them was correct, they would mean a great deal. The noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War had endeavoured to make him (Mr. Forster) and the late Government accomplices in the exclusion of Dissenters, and they had been told that Clause 4 of the present Bill was naturally deduced from the principle laid down in the Act of 1869. But he appealed to any Member of the Select Committee which considered the Bill of 1869, to say whether more than one or two Members of the Committee would have voted for anything approaching the exceptions now to be made. They wished at that time to arrive at the founder's wish in regard to schools which had al- 327 ways been denominational, and no allusion was made to the Toleration Act. The question as to time first came up last year, when they decided that Orders to the effect that the Governing Body should be members of a particular Church should not be considered before the Toleration Act, because at that period there was only one Church which could be mentioned. Experience, in the case of the Sherborne and other schools, had shown that the words used in the Act of last year as to the teaching of children in doctrines and formularies were not the wisest that could have been used; but was it wise to break the compromise that was entered into last year, and to go a little further than that compromise? It was obvious that the enormous majority of the schools had come under the operation of the Act, but the effect of the noble Lord's Amendment would be to put, and to keep, those schools under exclusive Church control. He was sure that that was not the intention with which the Act of 1869 was passed. One of the objects of the Act was, that the schools in a certain district should be amalgamated; but if they were put under exclusive Church management, it would be utterly impossible to amalgamate them. The noble Lord said he met that difficulty; but the noble Lord could not meet that difficulty, unless he would make it incumbent on the Governors not to proceed on their old principle of excluding Dissenters. The noble Lord said, indeed, he somewhat regretted the tone of his remarks respecting the Commissioners; but he added that his speaking of the good work they had done in some cases did not prevent him from complaining of their general conduct. The most curious feature of the noble Lord's speech was that he did not condescend to enter into particulars. The noble Lord said that they were unpopular, and that they did not get through their work as soon as was expected; but there had been no attempt to show how they had misbehaved themselves in the general conduct of affairs, and it would, indeed, have been extremely difficult for the noble Lord to obtain the necessary materials. He (Mr. Forster) was surprised to find that although the Endowed Schools Commissioners had been working under the Education Department since the present Government came into office, no intima- 328 tion had been made to the House that there was any intention to get rid of them, neither had there been any communication on the subject between the Lord President or the Vice President and any one of the Commissioners; consequently, the noble Lord had had no means of ascertaining whether the impression he had formed of their general unpopularity was well founded or not. Of course, there would be an end to all Royal Commissions, if a Government were to yield to every cry of unpopularity, and to prejudge matters before entering into personal correspondence with the Commissioners. He must say that the late Government would never have thought of appointing men to perform a task which must necessarily be unpopular, and of afterwards refusing to give them that meed of consideration which was their due.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
I am not at all surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford should defend the Commissioners, seeing that he recommended the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council, the other night, to retain them, because he had found them to be very useful tools. No doubt, that was a high recommendation; but it does not follow that the noble Lord is bound to accept the recommendation, unless he is to believe that the Commissioners are not the men of principle which the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) has described them to be, and would be as ready tools for his policy as they have been for that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford. The position of the noble Lord seems to me to be this—he is about to repeal certain words in the original Act, in order to make the present Bill conformable to the sense of the late Government, since the Act of 1869 did not justify the conduct of the late Government or the Commissioners. Why, one great cause of the unpopularity of the Commission throughout, has been that the country felt that the Commissioners had exceeded the powers which were given them by Parliament, and were too much inclined to act in accordance with the views of the hon. Member for Hackney, who appears to be opposed to religious education. That was the principal gravamen of the accusation brought against them; and now the noble Lord comes forward to bend the 329 Act of 1869—if I understand him rightly—to the wishes and intentions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, according to whose own showing, in this debate, there has been a straining, if not a contravention, of that Act. I have not been a Member of this House quite so long as the noble Lord opposite (Lord George Cavendish), and I confess that I have not acquired his wonderful power of swallowing unpalatable measures—his facility in accepting every measure that may emanate from a Government to which he is attached. The noble Lord admitted that his conscience pricked him in the case of Emanuel Hospital, and that the conduct of the Commissioners in the case of a school in his own neighbourhood was not, in his opinion, justifiable; yet, now the noble Lord comes forward—he, a Constitutional Whig!—to do—what? To impugn the proceedings of a Conservative Government, because they venture to displace a Commission which had been appointed by their Predecessors. Now, if there is one constitutional doctrine clearer than another, it is the doctrine which condemns the Government by permanent Commissions appointed by one party in office, on the understanding that they are not removable by their successors in. the Government. In my judgment there is nothing more unconstitutional than to hold that it is in the power of one party to erect a Commission with permanent powers practically beyond the control of Parliament, and that those Commissioners shall be deemed to have a vested interest in their office. I say, Sir, that I am surprised that an old Whig like the noble Lord should rise in his place in this House, and endeavour to justify and proclaim a principle which has the vice of attempting to control the action of Parliament by the appointment of a permanent and independent Commission. As an old Tory, then, I beg distinctly to condemn the idea that Parliament or the Government has the power to establish a Commission which shall be held to be irremovable by the succeeding Parliaments. Yet, that is the principle which is contended for by the hon. Member for Hackney, who, forsooth, has held up Birmingham before the House as the model town with respect to education. Birmingham is situate in the division of Warwickshire which I 330 represent, and I lament that Birmingham alone, among the great towns of this country, has accepted the principle that religion should be dissociated from education. That, then, is the example which the hon. Member holds up for the approval of the House, when we are engaged in the discussion of a Bill which will affect the education given in a vast number of endowed schools throughout the country! Does the hon. Member intend that the principles of the Birmingham League shall prevail in those schools? If he wishes that, I believe that he will find himself in a smaller minority in the country than in this House. And it is because I am apprehensive as to the effect of the change in the Act of 1869, contemplated by the Amendment which has been hinted at by the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council for the first time to-night, that I deprecate any yielding up of the principle of that Act, which, God knows, went far enough to uproot the principles of religious education, by rendering instruction in religion most difficult in every school that was brought within its operation—I mean within its operation, in the sense of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, who now complains that he is bound by his own acts to limit the Governing Bodies of those institutions to persons being members of the Church of England, when he intended that these foundations should be open. Sir, I want to know what the Established Church is? I admit that there is some ground for the intense prejudice expressed against the Church by the hon. Member for Hackney; but I hope when the Bill standing next on the Orders of the Day—the Public Worship Regulation Bill—has become law, and been in operation for a few years, the cause for that prejudice will have disappeared. In the meantime, I protest against the perpetual iteration of the supposition—for it is no more—that the Church of England is something alien and separate from the nation, instead of being that form of religion which is professed by the majority of the people, and which ought, therefore, to have a predominant influence in the education of their children.
§ MR. DIXON
said, he entirely repudiated the definition of the Birmingham scheme which had been put forward by the hon. Member for North Warwick- 331 shire (Mr. Newdegate). What they wished to see done was that the religion taught in the schools should be taught, not at the expense of the ratepayers, but voluntarily, by the Church which undertook to do so. They did not exclude religion from the schools. But that was not the question before the House. The clauses of the Bill now before the House had been so drawn as to produce a considerable amount of confusion in the minds of those who had tried to understand them; but, so far as he knew, there was nothing in them to compel the Commissioners to form a scheme which should force the Governing Body to exclude the members of a particular denomination. What he understood Clause 4 to say was, that every school was to be subject to an exceptional scheme, where the original foundation required the rules of the school to be submitted to any person holding a position in the Church—the effect of the clause would be, that, whereas the Act of 1869 declared that in certain schools there should be Governing Bodies created which should represent the locality in a fair and just manner, this clause would permit the existing self-elected Bodies to continue to elect, to fill the vacancies in their own Body, such persons as they might themselves prefer. Those persons might be the members of a particular Church. And if the Commissioners should propose a scheme which in any way interfered with this power, which they had hitherto exercised, this clause gave to the Governing Bodies the power to reject that scheme, and it was that power which was so given to the Governing Bodies, which he objected to. In the course of the debate on the Bill it had been dealt with in its more general aspects, and it had been discussed with reference to the great principles involved in it, but he should like to direct the attention of the House to the manner in which Clause 4 would operate in the town of Birmingham. It would operate there in a manner which would be extremely prejudicial to the cause of education. He did not wish to advocate any views which should be merely in the interest of any particular sect or section of the community. He did not stand there as the Chairman of the League, but he wished to express the views of an association of which he was the Chairman, which had been in exist- 332 ence in Birmingham for many years past, and which had for its object the reform of the Grammar School of King Edward VI. The Commissioners had prepared a scheme with regard to that school, and if the scheme had been passed into law, the Governing Body would have been elected on the principles of representation and co-optation. The religious teaching given in the school would have been decided by the Governors; and the masters elected to teach-in the school would not have been compelled to be either members of the Church of England or in Holy Orders. When that scheme was published, opposition was offered to it by the Governors, and they moved to have the scheme rejected in the House of Lords. Lord Salisbury undertook to be their spokesman, and he told the House of Lords that the Act of 1831, under which the school was now governed, provided that the head master and the second master should be clergymen, and the assistant masters members of the Church of England; also, that the examiners should ascertain whether the boys were well founded in the principles of the Christian religion. Lord Salisbury stated also that the Governors had implored the Commissioners that the school might continue to hold the position of an institution where the fundamental principles of the Church of England were inculcated, and in consequence of that representation, the scheme of the Commissioners was rejected. That meant simply this—that it was the wish of the Governors and the determination of the House of Lords, that that school was to be continued hereafter as a Church of England school; but he would ask the House whether that was or was not in accordance with the charter of King Edward VI.'s School. That charter stated that the school was to be for the education and instruction of boys perpetually, and that 20 men of the more discreet and trusty inhabitants should be elected as Governors, and that the statutes for the regulation of the school should be made by the Governors, with the advice of the Bishop of the diocese for the time being. But did those words constitute the school a Church of England school? It was true Lord Salisbury did not refer to the charter of the school, but to the Act of 1831. That, however, was only an Act of Parliament. If the 333 Act of 1869 could be virtually repealed I by the Bill now before the House, then both the Act of 1874 and the Act of 1831 could be repealed; and he hoped before he sat down to show good reason why they should be repealed. But the Act of 1831 was not the usual basis of the opposition to the scheme of the Commissioners. It was not said that the Commissioners were wrong, because they were deviating from the Act of Parliament; but it was said that they had deviated from the directions of the first founder. Lord Salisbury was wise enough not to refer to what were the directions of the founder of King Edward's School. In the terms of the original charter which he had read there was no reference whatever to the religious qualifications of the Governors, and although it was true that the Bishop was called upon to advise on the question of the regulations of the school, yet he would point out that in those days it was not an easy matter to find anyone who should throughout all time be capable of giving the kind of advice which was required in an educational institution, and it was very natural that a person of undoubted education and position like a Bishop should be fixed upon as one who might be presumed always to have the necessary qualifications. It was on educational grounds solely that he was called upon to give his advice, and it was a straining of the point to say that therefore that was to fix the school as belonging to the Church of England. He would give an illustration of this. In a great number of schemes of the Commissioners the clergy were made ex officio Governors. The Nonconformists objected to that, and it was replied to them, that those clergymen were appointed ex officio members of a Governing Body not because they were clergymen of the Church of England, or that it was wished to imbue those Bodies with the character of Church of England institutions, but because it would be extremely difficult to secure a sufficient number of educated men for Governors in some districts, and it was a wise proceeding to say that the clergymen of the Church of England in such localities, who must of necessity be educated men, should be ex officio Governors. In all probability that was the same reason why the Bishop was appointed under the original charter. There was 334 another reason why it should be considered extremely probable that, when the Bishop was appointed as a visitor of the schools, it was never intended thereby to stamp the schools as Church of England schools. They had had a discussion in the Midland Counties as to the meaning of the word "free" as applied to schools. Many thought it meant that the scholars should be admitted free; but the head master of the Grammar School at Shrewsbury said it was a mistake to suppose so, as it was a translation of the Latin word "liber," and meant freedom from ecclesiastical domination. If that were so, it was a corroboration of what he had stated before, that it was not intended that the advice of the Bishop should make the school a Church of England school. There were other reasons why it was not advisable or wise that they should strain that interpretation given by Clause 4 to the words of the original charter. The school in Birmingham was endowed originally with an income of something like £30 a-year, derived from the rental of land; but now it had an income of £14,000 a-year, and in all probability, before the close of the century, that income would be doubled. He would ask where did the difference between the £30 and the £14,000 come from? It came from the additional value given to the lands by the industry of the inhabitants of Birmingham, and he thought it was a fair thing to say that that endowment was not exclusively the endowment of the original donors of the land, but it was in part value given by the inhabitants of the town; and they had a right to urge that it was not a wise thing to strain the words of the charter and to say that one half of the inhabitants of the town should be excluded from the management of the school. They were to a great extent the donors and endowers of this magnificent school; they might fairly ask what the original so-called pious founders would have wished to have done under the present circumstances if they had lived in these days. The founders of the school were practically the inhabitants of the town, for they petitioned King Edward VI. to allow certain lands, which had previously belonged to a Roman Catholic corporation, to be used for the purpose of a school. If those inhabitants had been present now, and the 335 question were put to them whether they wished the; school to be managed by one sect exclusively, he thought they would have said, "No, that is not our wish." They would have said, "It was to be managed by 20 of the more discreet and trusty inhabitants of the town." But if they excluded half of the town from representation, then they would not be carrying out the wishes of the petitioners, as it was not to be supposed that for all time 20 of the most fitting men would belong to one party, or one sect, or one section of the people of the town. This school was one of the most important, if not the most important, of all the educational endowments for which schemes had not yet been formed, and this school was typical of a great number of other schools which were in precisely the same position. He wished to state that it was purely on educational grounds that he was now objecting to the operation of Clause 4 on this school. What Clause 4 provided was, that hereafter it should not be possible to make any scheme for the management of King Edward's School in so far as it affected the election of the Governing Body, or in so far as it affected the appointment of masters to that school, without the sanction of the existing Governing Body. What were the probabilities that the existing Governing Body would do that which the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council declared to be his own earnest wish—namely, that they would elect Nonconformists on that board in a fair proportion to their influence and numbers in the town? He would refer the House to what Lord Salisbury said, and remind it that the only ground on which the late scheme was to be rejected was that it did not keep the school as a Church of England school. If it were the desire of the Government that the school should be maintained as a Church of England school, what right had the House to expect that the Governors would elect Nonconformists to their Body? He would appeal to what they had done in the past. Had they done so? The Charter and the Act of 1831 had given them the power to elect whom they would. There was a story that was believed in his part of the country, that some 100 years ago or more, the Governing Body of the school had on it a majority of Nonconformists, but they allowed this majority to slip 336 from them, and the wakeful and watchful Church of England obtained a majority. How did they use it? They used it according to their lights and according to the wisdom of those days, and selected to fill every vacancy with members of the Church of England. For 100 years not a single Nonconformist was elected on that Governing Body. Was it to be supposed that in Birmingham during all those years there were no Nonconformists fitted to fill that position? In 1865, when a deputation waited upon the Governors, the Recorder of Birmingham stated that up to that time there had been 22 Mayors of the town. Now, the Mayor in a place like Birmingham was always a man who enjoyed the confidence of his fellow-townsmen, a man whose character and capabilities were well known, but not one of those 22 Mayors had been elected on the Governing Body, 21 of them being members of the Liberal party. Up to that period, too, there had also been six Members of Parliament, of whom five were Liberals, yet only the Conservative, Mr. Richard Spooner, formerly Member for North Warwickshire, was elected on the Governing Body. They had no guarantee hereafter that, if the clause passed as it stood, Nonconformists would be elected to the Governing Body of King Edward's School in Birmingham. During the last few years there had been a change in the policy of that Body for the better. They had elected to it one or two members of a more liberal character; but they had only done that since there had arisen in the town an agitation of so formidable a character as to excite apprehension in the mind of the Governing Body, and convince them that it was time to put their house in order. But if this Bill became law, and if the sanction of Parliament were to be given in this manner to their former proceedings; if they were to be told that this Act of Parliament would hereafter give them the power to say whether they would accept Nonconformists or would not accept them—then this wholesome pressure would be taken from them; and he would ask again—when they had the sanction of the Act of Parliament, and this interpretation put upon it by the House of Commons; when they had given them the power to reject any scheme which attacked their system of 337 self-government—what guarantee had they that any Nonconformist would ever be placed again on that Governing Body? He would ask further, as to what was likely to be the effect in Birmingham of such an Act as this. It was well known that Birmingham was a place where the Nonconformists were numerous and powerful. He believed he should not be far wrong if he estimated the members of the Church of England at one-third of the population of Birmingham, the Nonconformists at one-third, and the unattached at one-third. But suppose the Nonconformists and the Churchmen of Birmingham were about equal, what would then be the operation of the Bill? They were enacting that one-half of the people of Birmingham should be excluded from the Governing Body of this institution, and they were further saying that one half of the people of Birmingham should be excluded in perpetuity from holding the office of teacher in that school. That was what the Bill would permit. He was personally acquainted with about half-a-dozen Nonconformist ministers in Birmingham, men of the highest position and talent. Several of these men had sent their sons to King Edward VI.'s School, and they had distinguished themselves in that school, and were certain to be greatly attached to it. Some of these young men would, no doubt, go up to the Universities; nay, he knew that one of them had already done so. About a year ago this young man was sent up to Cambridge to pass an examination, and he obtained a very high scholarship. Now, what that young man had done, others would do, and what would be the most natural object of their ambition? Why, that they should come back to their native town, and fill these high offices in King Edward's School, amongst which were some of the most valuable appointments which could be given to successful students in this country. They would, however be told by the Bill that they were to be hereafter debarred from all prospect of obtaining those high and honourable appointments with the valuable emoluments attached to them. Now, these Nonconformist ministers of Birmingham were not merely men of great position in the town, but they were men of the highest character—men who had gained their position in life solely by 338 their own individual and personal merit, having no rank and no influence to help them. They were, moreover, men who were at the head of large and influential congregations—men much beloved by the members of those congregations—men who hold in their hands the springs which moved great sections throughout the country. The voices of these men had been heard in every part of the Kingdom. They were known and respected for their intellectual powers as well as for their high character; and what was likely to be the result when these men were told by the Bill that not only they themselves might be excluded from the management of the school but that their children would also be certainly excluded from all prospect of obtaining masterships in the school in which they were educated? He would ask again what was the effect that was likely to be produced in Birmingham? What was the effect likely to be produced upon the great parties to which they belonged, not only in Birmingham, but throughout the country? Was such a Bill as that likely to promote the interests of education? If the Governing Body of King Edward VI.'s School was established as proposed by the Bill, was it likely that it would continue to exercise weight and influence in the town? There wouldbealarge want of harmony between it and a large portion of the inhabitants of the town, and also between it and the school board. It was a well known fact that the school board of Birmingham was the creation of the ratepayers. It was a representative body, and how could it be expected that two such bodies could work harmoniously together when one was a representative and the other a self-elected body, elected not merely with reference to the interests of education, but rather on the ground of party and religious qualifications? One of the greatest hopes of the educationist party was, that the various schemes of education for the different classes of the community should be welded together throughout the country into one great whole. How was that possible with such a scheme as this? He knew that some had been placed on the Governing Body, and others, who were better qualified, had been passed over, because the first were more true and staunch on the questions of party or religion. The same remarks would equally apply 339 to the appointment of the masters. Yet, hero it was not merely the question as to whether they would make their choice from one half of those who were fitted or from the whole, but it was as to whether they were to restrict the selection to those only who were in Holy Orders—'whether they would restrict the appointments, as his hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett) had so ably pointed out, to one-fifth or even one-tenth of the number of men qualified for these positions. He (Mr. Dixon) would therefore again ask, ought the Bill to be allowed to pass, which would in this way inflict such a blow on the future educational power of a largo institution like King Edward VI.'s School at Birmingham. It seemed to him that the Government would not be able to stand forth again as the friends of education if they were to follow out the policy of the Bill, which it was admitted was framed on behalf and in the interests of the Established Church. He was quite sure that throughout the whole of the Nonconformist Bodies, and amongst a great many of the members of the Church of England, the Bill was regarded solely in this light. He was sure that it would inflict a great blow on the educational interests of the country. Under these circumstances, it was the duty of the House to endeavour, by every means in its power, to throw open both the Governing Bodies and the educational staffs of these schools to the people, in order that they might enjoy the full sympathy and the hearty confidence of the communities they were intended to benefit. He did not think that the Bill would in the end tend to the benefit of the Church of England itself, and he hoped that the Government would still listen to the re-monstrances of that side of the House, and, recognizing how deeply the country felt on the question, would consent to withdraw the Bill.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, the speech which the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) had delivered against the Bill ought to have been directed against the Bill of 1869, which was brought in by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford. It was a fact that King Edward VI.'s School at Birmingham produced most excellent scholars; the hon. Gentleman himself had given an illustration of that. The hon. Gentleman, however, had failed 340 to show that the Governing Body had acted unfairly to the inhabitants of Birmingham, or had appointed bad masters. The present Bill grappled with three points. The first was, that the Charity Commissioners should carry out the Endowed Schools Act, instead of that work being allowed to continue in the hands of the Endowed Schools Commissioners; the second was, to give a definition to certain words in the Act of 1869, which the Endowed Schools Commissioners had considered over and over again, but which they said they were unable to define; and the third was, to carry out the 19th section of that Act, which provided that the religious education which it was intended should be given to scholars should be continued. He did not think the hon. Member for Birmingham had carefully read the Bill. The Bill would give the Charity Commissioners powers which were contemplated by the framers of the Act of 1869, and enable them to deal with schools which had not already been dealt with; and he thought the Government had acted wisely in conferring the power upon them, instead of continuing it in the hands of the present Commissioners. Those Commissioners had been unable to carry out the principles of the Act of 1869, and he thought it desirable that some new body should be constituted for that purpose. It appeared by the evidence of Mr. Roby, that the Endowed Schools Commissioners intended to carry out the ideas of the Endowed Schools Inquiry Commissioners, instead of doing what was required of them by the Act of 1869, according to the interpretation which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford put upon that measure when he introduced it, and which interpretation received the assent of the majority of the House. The Endowed Schools Commissioners said, the Report of the Schools Inquiry Commission would be their only guide in carrying out the Act of 1869; but the view of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, when he introduced that measure, was directly opposed to the carrying out of that Report. The Endowed Schools Commissioners, therefore, in taking that Report as their only guide in carrying out the Act of 1869, were not only opposed to the view which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford entertained when he intro- 341 duced the Bill, but also to the views of a large portion of the House, and to those of a large portion of the country. The Endowed Schools Commissioners had also manifested hostility to the principles of the Act of 1869, and complained that its provisions were indefinite, especially the 19th and 24th clauses, and, under those circumstances, were the Government to leave the matter to the discretion of three Commissioners who had become so unpopular? The number of disputed points as to the powers of the Commissioners was considerable. One or two Commissioners were strongly of opinion that they had no power under the Act to appoint ex officio any minister of religion, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford took another view of the matter, which was referred to the Law Officers of the Crown and to Lord Selborne, whose opinions also differed. Therefore, it was absolutely necessary to define more clearly what Parliament really meant, and the present Bill did this. Very harsh language had been undeservedly applied to the present Bill; but the real fact was, that in its provisions Her Majesty's Government had shown an anxious desire to reinedy defects which the Endowed Schools Commissioners themselves alleged to exist in the Act. The Commissioners had dealt with a large number of schemes, and it was both wise and politic, under the circumstances, to hand over the rest to the Charity Commissioners as a permanent body.
regretted that the hon. Member for Chippenham, as a lawyer, had not explained the 4th clause, which was so extremely complicated and difficult as to be to a layman almost incomprehensible. For instance, on the question what evidence should be admitted as to founders' wishes, the provisions of the clause seemed likely to lead to misconception and dispute. In his opinion, they ought not to look at specific words, but to take the drift of the founder's meaning; to consider the period at which the foundation was made; and see if they could not adapt it to the necessities of modern times. He should not have addressed the House, had he not been engaged some years ago in framing a scheme for one of the largest endowed schools in England—Christ's Hospital—with reference to which he wished to point out that, 342 although it contained many most valuable provisions, it was barren in its results, through opposition of that part of the Governing Body which belonged to the Corporation of the City of London. No doubt the Commissioners had done some objectionable acts; but they had done nothing so objectionable as the obstruction of the Corporation on that occasion, by which the interests of thousands of children had been sacrificed to morbid love of patronage and antiquated local feeling. In dealing with any question affecting these endowed schools, the principal duty of the House was to consider how far they might be made advantageous to the general interests of the middle classes of the community, and how they might best be made to serve the educational interests of the nation at large. His opinion was, that the work of the Commissioners had been satisfactorily and well done, and he regretted that, by the introduction of the Bill, a conflict was raised between steeple house and conventicle in reference to these schools. The Endowed Schools Act was a thorough and complete measure, and ought to have commended itself to public opinion; but, unfortunately, the English people preferred a compromise. He still, however, believed that the Act might have been carried out so as to effect a great transformation in regard to the condition of middle-class education. The difficulties in the working of the Act were not religious difficulties; they had not arisen from the 19th section. He admitted it was an error of judgment on the part of the Commissioners to send out Paper S in relation to elementary schools, and it would have been better to have treated each case on its own merits. There was not a single instance in which so-called pious founders wished religion to prejudice general education, and he would give as an authority Mr. Matthew Arnold, who showed the evil results of such prejudices in his recent work on University education in Germany. He was no enemy to the Church of England, and certainly no enemy to religious education; but he could not conceive anything more injurious than to hand over the children of these schools too much to clerical training. There was in the present Bill something which savoured of retaliation; but the day might not be far distant when the Government would 343 be repaid in that respect with compound interest; they might gain a momentary victory, but it would be fatal in the end. The Government had better withdraw the measure, and he would appeal to the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council not to pro voice an internecine war between the Church and the Dissenters, on what might speedily become a burning question. He regretted the prominence which had been given in the matter to these Church questions, as tending not to the benefit, but to the injury of the Church itself.
§ MR. ALDERMAN COTTON
said, he rose not so much to support the Bill as to vindicate the Corporation of London and the City Guilds, the members of which were men of integrity, who might be trusted honourably to carry out any beneficent purpose. It was by mere accident, and owing to the great rise in the value of property, that they found themselves in possession of large accumulations at the time the Endowed Schools Commissioners were appointed; and the Haberdashers' Company were preparing a scheme for the management of their foundations prior to the formation of the Commission. He hoped that the Bill before the House would be agreed to, for in his opinion it was a good measure; and he further believed that the abolition of the Endowed Schools Commissioners would be a great source of satisfaction to the whole country.
§ MR. LEATHAM
My hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Goldney) has laboured hard to show that the Bill makes no material change in the law, because it simply defines Clause 19. I think my hon. Friend's argument would do honour to the distinguished profession of which he is an ornament. The Bill makes no material change, because by defining Clause 19, it sweeps nine-tenths of the endowed schools of the country into the net of one particular denomination. Now, the noble Lord the Vice President has made some concessions this evening; but can any hon. Member really say what his concessions amount to? Until we see what they are in black and white, we are scarcely in a position to say whether they are concessions at all, and it is therefore almost impossible to continue the debate. I would suggest that the proper course would be that the debate should be adjourned, in order that the 344 House may see what the noble Lord's concessions really are. The noble Lord quoted from the evidence of the Commissioners, as though it might be read in favour of the Bill; but I can conceive no greater abuse of that evidence than to quote it on behalf of these changes. I have looked to see what the Commissioners really did say, and what do I find?—The suggestion which I should make," said Mr. Roby," if the thing were entirely at my own disposal, would he to omit Section 19 from the Act altogether; and I should do so on the principle that it is the one clause in the Art which directly refers to the founder's intentions, and which attributes to his intentions, however long ago he may have lived, the right of prescribing the religious character of the school to which his endowment applied.And what says Lord Lyttelton? I suppose hon. Gentlemen who cheered a moment ago, will admit that he, at all events, is a friend to the Church, since he is one of the Vice Presidents of the Church Defence Association—I believe the time will come," says Lord Lyttelton, "when it will be held to be one of the strangest superstitions ever entertained, that a dying man is to have the power of directing for all future ages what is to he done with his property.And he supported his opinion by a reference to that of Lord Hatherley. Lord Lyttelton adds—"I would myself repeal, not only Clause 19, but Clause 17." Finally, Sir, what says Canon Robinson? His evidence has been greatly relied upon, because he speaks of the awkwardness of Clause 19 as it stood. Now, what is his suggestion for its amendment?—I would extend the provisions of the section) by providing that wherever the intention of the founder was distinctly and in full view of the existence of other denominations than his own, to limit the religious teaching to a particular denomination in that ease, the foundation should fall under the section.Well, but I have the authority of Canon Robinson for saying that his suggestion was fully met by the Amendments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, last year. What becomes, then, of any sanction for the Bill which is to be extracted from the evidence of the Commissioners? The fact is, that the whole weight of the evidence taken by the Committee was diametrically opposed to the changes proposed under the Bill. I will not weary the House by quotations, but content 345 myself with one from the evidence of a witness whose opinion will be regarded with equal respect on both sides of the House. The Bishop of Exeter was asked by Sir John Pakington this question—In a case where there may be no express words in the foundation, but where, through a long course of time, a school has been connected with a certain denomination, would you hold that to he a sufficient indication of the intention and a sufficient reason for maintaining this connection?He replied—I think it immediately becomes a question whether it is not an usurpation on the part of those who have for that length of time held the endowment, if it appears that it was not originally intended for them."However long the usage?" he was asked; and he replied—"However long the usage." Now, Sir, perhaps it may be thought that since this is avowedly a measure of reprisals, and since I belong to a class which it is intended to hit the hardest by the Bill, I am about to indulge in the language of indignation and anger. I am about to do nothing of the kind. Although I was astonished at the audacity of these proposals, I cannot say that they caused me any real alarm. In the very nature of things this measure must be ephemeral. Unless we can conceive it possible that the whole current of public feeling upon these questions is about to roll back towards the source which it left 50 years ago; unless we can assume that the whole policy of the country in these respects is about to undergo a Radical change, it is impossible that this measure can survive the Administration which has produced it, and upon the reputation of which it is likely to confer but little lustre. So that we can afford to sit very comfortably under the va victis, which the noble Lord flings at us from the other side of the House. Indeed, from one point of view, instead of feeling resentment, we ought to feel gratitude. The noble Lord has achieved something of which many of us began to despair. He has re-united the Liberal party. Everybody in the House knows the distress to which we were reduced by the abundance of our Leaders, and the paucity of our principles. With that benevolence of heart which distinguishes him, the noble Lord has relieved us from a great embarrass- 346 ment, he has handsomely presented us with a policy. He has given us something for which we can fight with an unbroken front, and in support of which our regiment of commanding officers can forget for a time the urgency of their individual claims to pre-eminence. Now, Sir, I am not going to argue seriously against this Bill. When it is proposed to revoke and annul powers and privileges which only five years ago were conferred upon large classes of Her Majesty's subjects with the deliberate and unanimous consent of the Legislature, the burthen of proof rests not with those who are robbed, but with those who rob them; and as regards the arguments in favour of the original change, the House is perfectly familiar with them. They are to be found scattered broadcast through the great debates of the last half century, and the recognition of their truth has been written and re-written upon, every recent page of the Statute Book. I think I might even claim as a convert the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, after the speech which, in a burst of convivial candour among the tailors, he delivered about "Religious Equality." I only hope that he did not speak with this Bill in his pocket. And now, Sir, before I sit down, let me ask the noble Lord one question. How is he going to avoid the contrast which he will have created in the public mind—the cruel and crushing contrast between schools which have been reformed under the Act of 1869—schools to the benefits and endowments of which every Englishman is welcome, and from the government of which no Englishman is excluded—and, on the other hand, schools which are to be reformed under the mean and narrow conditions of this Bill? Broad and narrow, side by side, they will challenge public opinion; the one, monuments of a larger statesmanship than that of the noble Lord; the other, memorials of the caprice—I had almost said the bigotry—of those whose highest boast it will have been that they have waylaid, and for a few years, perhaps, intercepted, on its way to the nation, the impartial bounty of Parliament.
§ MR. HEYGATE
said, that while expressing his regret that the measure should have been brought forward so late, he wished to point out that the last Government had asked the House to 347 legislate on the subject at an equally advanced period of the Session. He was also sorry that party considerations should have been imported into the discussion of an educational question. That was a small measure to have called forth so grave a censure from hon. Gentlemen opposite, and, in fact, he did not remember a case in which the scope of a Bill had been so much exaggerated. He could not admit that, as had been contended on the other side, the effect of the Bill would be to exclude Nonconformists from the government of the endowed schools. It was an undoubted fact that the Commissioners had become very unpopular; indeed, he believed them to be the most unpopular body in the Kingdom, for public opinion had become alarmed at their proceedings, and at the last General Election the Conservative candidates did not find anywhere more votes than in those districts where the Commissioners had been at work. He believed that unpopularity was due to the fact that, relying upon the presence in the Preamble of the words, that it was" desirable to place a liberal education within reach of all classes," the Commissioners administered the Act in a sense different from that in which it had been understood both by the House and the country. He maintained that the present Bill was not a reversal of the policy of the late Parliament, but was a legitimate and logical carrying out of that policy; and even if the Bill reversed that policy, he failed to see why the rules of the last Parliament should be observed and maintained for ever. It was never supposed that the Act of 1869 would justify the course which had been taken by the Commissioners, for the first step in connection with any new scheme was to abolish the existing rules of the school, and the next was to remove all the Governors, without reference to their conduct. If he was wrong in this statement, the right hon. Gentleman opposite would correct him.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he had not known one scheme in which a considerable number of the members of the old Governing Body had not been retained.
§ MR. HEYGATE
said, he would admit that in a sense some were re-admitted, and also that some of the old rules might be incorporated in the new ones; but he 348 must still assert that the Commissioners made a tabula rasa as the first step in their proceedings. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) disclaimed, in 1869, any intention of regarding this as a party measure, and there was certainly nothing in the debates on the Bill to prepare the country for the party use to which the Bill had been turned. The present Chairman of Committees (Mr. Raikes) supported the Bill as" merely embodying the feeling of Parliament that there should be a reform and re-organization of Endowed Schools." Who would have thought that these words would be taken to justify the disestablishment of the Church of England in respect to the management of the schools which were connected with it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford had himself stated that if the Bill of 1869 had been a party measure he could never have expected to carry it, and a party measure it would have then appeared had all these things been foreseen. Several Conservative Members, approving of the principle that these schools should be thrown open to pupils of all denominations, heartily applauded the measure, not thinking that the reforms and organizations which it was destined to produce would interfere with the wish of the founders in respect to who were to constitute the Governing Body. After four years, however, the late Government, strong as they were, found that they could not ask for the renewal of the powers of the Commissioners without a full inquiry into their conduct, and therefore a Select Committee had been appointed to conduct the investigation, and he (Mr. Heygate) had had the honour of serving upon it. The right hon. Gentleman had found some fault with the constitution of the Committee, and had referred to the views of Alderman Lawrence, who then represented the City. He did not recollect, however, that the Committee profited much by the hon. Alderman's vote, except where the City of London was concerned. The Committee consisted of nine hon. Members sitting on the then Ministerial benches, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster) being Chairman. He had the benefit of the doctrinaire spirit of two other hon. Members of the Committee, Mr. Powell and Sir John Pakington, who might at first be classed as sup- 349 porters of the policy of the Commissioners, but who were compelled by the force of evidence to throw in their lot with the opponents of the Bill. There were 30 divisions altogether, in 13 of which the numbers were 9 and 9, and all those were carried by the casting vote of the Chairman. It was worth remembering, too, that these divisions were taken upon the very questions upon which this Bill was based, although the measure fell very far short of the Amendments on which the Committee divided. The chief contest was on Section 19 of the present Bill, which was fairly described by Canon Robinson in the Paper of last year as an attempt to preserve the denominational character of certain educational endowments. It recognized the cases in which the founders had sufficiently provided for the denominational character of the education to be given, and if the Commissioners were guided by common sense and reason, and did not take too technical a view, he believed there would be no difficulty in administering the 19th section. When the proceedings of the Commissioners were known, it was no wonder that there was some alarm on the part of the Church of England at the injustice done to that Church by the accidental phrase "express terms," the meaning of which had been wrested in a sense contrary to common reason and the evident intentions of the founder. It was, however, said that only two schemes of the Commissioners had been challenged in that House, both of which had been affirmed; but he did not consider that a valid argument to show a general acquiescence in favour of their doings, for it must be clear to everyone that if an hon. Gentleman did bring forward the case of any small grammar school, he could not expect to get the House to listen to his complaint. Further, he had been requested to bring more than one of these cases before the House, and other hon. Members had been, no doubt, similarly importuned; but what chance was there of bringing these small endowments before the House with any success, however grievous the hardship, when hon. Members sitting on his side the House knew that these schemes had received the sanction of the Vice President of the Education Committee, and when the Government of the day had a majority of 100 in that House? The 350 "panic-stricken trustee," as he had been called, was only too glad, under such circumstances, to make the best terms he could. Moreover, granting that the effect of the Bill would be to bring various schools under Clause 19, what would be the result? The schools would not become Church schools, the children would not be excluded from secular or religious education, nor would Dissenters be shut out from a share in their management. An elective element was introduced by the Commissioners themselves in forming the Governing Body of schools under Section 19, and it was quite possible, by the introduction of that element, that Nonconformists might become predominant in the Governing Body. There was a case in point in which that had actually happened, in Dr. Morgan's school at Bridgwater. The right hon. Member for Bradford, in 1871, had expressed himself favourable to the principle of denominational schools being governed practically by gentlemen belonging to the denomination. That was a perfectly fair and intelligible principle; and he (Mr. Heygate) only asked for the Church what was fair, equal, and just. She desired no special privilege or favour, nor did she seek to exclude from the management of schools Nonconformists, provided they were not the majority, so as to render the education inconsistent with the scheme of the schools. He hoped and believed the Church was strong enough to say she would be content with nothing less.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he wished to congratulate both the House and the noble Lord the Vice-President of the Council on the altered tone of his speech that evening. In his former speech, for the first time, he had brought into these educational debates, a spirit of sectarian animosity which it had been the great object of his right hon. Friend near him to avoid. On the present occasion the noble Lord had made some amends for his former speech, but that alteration was rather in form, than in substance. The noble Lord spoke of concession, but as his Amendment was not laid on the Table, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) could not very distinctly speak to it. As he understood, the effect would be that in certain excepted cases, it would be competent to the Charity Commissioners, where the 351 foundation did not require that all the Members of the Governing Body should be Members of the Church of England, to exercise a discretion in putting Nonconformists on the Governing Body; but it would not be compulsory for them to do so. The value of the concession would entirely depend on the extent to which it was compulsory, and the number of cases in which it would be applied. If one of the complaints against the present Commissioners was, that they had appointed such a small number of denominational managers, what was to be expected from the Commissioners who would be appointed by the present Government? The Charity Commissioners would take their views from the speech of the noble Lord, and as that speech was sectarian, the Charity Commissioners' views might be expected to be still more sectarian. A great deal would also depend upon who the Charity Commissioners would be, for to the three new ones would be committed practically the work which had been carried on by the Endowed Schools Commissioners. The noble Lord had intimated that the Commission was dead. Now that was not the fact. The late House of Commons gave it three years, and it was only the House of Lords that restricted its existence to one year. When the late Government went out of office, the Commission was still living. The present Government had been in office for nearly six months. During that time 42 schemes had been submitted to them, and had become law; and the noble Duke at the head of the Education Department had no fault to find with any of them. They had now between 200 and 300 schemes before them, and their inquiries were still in progress. If the noble Lord was dissatisfied with the course pursued by the Commissioners, why did he not have a consultation with them on the matter? Although the noble Lord had been in office now for nearly six months, during the whole of that time he had not a single personal interview with these Commissioners, who were endeavouring to the best of their ability to do their duty. Was there ever such shabby treatment offered on the part of the Government to public officers? It was evident that, from the first, Government had intended to kill that Commission, and, that being so, why was that Bill 352 not brought in earlier in the Session, in order that an expression of public opinion might have been obtained upon it? If the present Commissioners had been treated so ill, what chance was there that independent men would be found to act on the new Commission? Those who were likely to accept the position would be mere creatures of the Government, appointed only to carry out schemes conceived in a sectarian spirit. No doubt, that was the main object of the change now proposed. In looking at the Endowed Schools Act of 1869, he could not help being surprised at its moderation. It was founded on a compromise, some portions of which he for one, regretted; and if hon. Gentlemen opposite were prepared to tear up that compromise, he warned them that they must also prepare for the opening of a much wider question in future by those on his own side of the House who would wish to apply a much broader principle to those endowed schools than that embodied in the Act of 1869. The clauses of compromise contained in that Act were now made the excuse for the present re-actionary Bill. The object of the Bill before the House was to hand over to the Church of England every school that did not in the plainest and most express terms belong to one of the Nonconformist Bodies; and many schools which had been dealt with by the Commissioners in a manner beneficial to the public, would have been dealt with very differently had the present Bill been in operation. As he had said, the Act of 1869 was a compromise, and it provided, in the case of schools founded before the Toleration Act, that if the founder's will distinctly stipulated that they should be Church schools they should remain so. All the old charters contained some reference to religion, and the effect of the Bill would be that all the schools established before the Toleration Act would be handed over to Church of England managers. Of 782 grammar schools 554 were founded before the Toleration Act, and there was not a shadow of foundation for saying they ought to be handed over to the Church of England. For instance, in the case of Sherborne and Penwarth Schools, where the instrument of foundation provided that the children should be taught the Catechism, that slight reference to religious teaching had been 353 held to be sufficient to bring them under Clause 19, and were made Church schools by that Act. Again York School, founded by Edward VI., and the school at Walsall, founded by Queen Mary in 1584, in the foundation deeds of which it was provided that the statutes should be drawn by the Archbishop or the Bishop, had not been dealt with by the Commissioners as Church schools; but under the present Bill, they would be made such. Ripon School was another institution in the same circumstances. He was particularly anxious to be informed by the Government whether it was intended that the operation of the Bill should be retrospective, and whether schemes which had been already acted upon were to be so altered that schools now open to the whole nation were to become sectarian? He should like the noble Lord to state whether that was the meaning of the Bill. It appeared to him, that the Government must show either that they would treat all the schools in the country in the same manner; or else reverse the policy of 1869, and subject the schools which had already been dealt with to the new treatment under the present Bill. Why should Bradford and Halifax have their schools thrown open, while the schools of Manchester and Birmingham remained sectarian? He would mention cases of endowed schools which had not been dealt with by the Endowed Schools Commissioners. There was the case of the endowed school at Stockport, founded in 1487, and the only reference to religion in the foundation deed was that the priests should teach grammar. That brought it within the scope of the Bill now before the House, and would make it a sectarian school. Would the will of the founder in that case be carried out? Then there was the case of the endowed school at Manchester, founded in 1525, and the only reference to religion was, that the children were required to attend Divine Service in the only places of worship then permitted by law. The case of Birmingham was especially important, the scheme of the Commissioners having been rejected in the House of Lords, on the motion of Lord Salisbury, on the sole ground that it provided for Nonconformists being connected with the Governing Body. In that case, the election of the Governing Body had been co-optative, and though there was no compulsion, Churchmen alone had been elected 354 to the Governing Body. He should, therefore, like to know whether the noble Lord intended to bring that school within the scope of the compromise he had that evening shadowed forth, and to instruct the Charity Commissioners to appoint a certain number of Nonconformists on the Governing Body? If it was not intended to do that, the compromise was worth nothing. The school at Dulwich was another strong case in point. The only fact in connection with the foundation which brought it within the scope of the Bill was, that in 1619 Edward Alleyne, its founder, provided that both the masters should be divines. When founded, the property of the school was of small value, but now it had reached to nearly £15,000 a-year, and in the course of a few years, it would have reached an annual value of about, £50,000. That was due to the progress which had been made by London, and he asked whether the people who had created that wealth were to have no participation in its benefits, and no voice in the manner in which it should be expended for the good of the people? Could it be supposed that if Alleyne had lived in the present day, he would have proposed to narrow the scope of his generosity to one particular Body? He maintained that that would not have been the case, and he therefore asked Parliament to withhold its assent from a Bill which would have an effect the founder could not be suspected of having desired? Another part of the Bill proposed to repeal that section of the Act of 1869, which enabled the trustees of existing endowed schools to dispense with any of the conditions with reference to religious instruction, and that appeared to him to to be a serious alteration of that Act. He would remind the noble Lord that a few nights ago, in introducing the Bill, he spoke of the Dissenters as attacking the fortresses of the Church; but on the present occasion, he had invited the Dissenters to arm those fortresses. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) did not know what the noble Lord's concession might be; but he hoped that it might at all events, mitigate some of the severity of the Bill now before them. In conclusion, he would express a hope that the gathering force of public opinion would prevent the success of a re-actionary measure, with which it was 355 idle to suppose the country generally would be satisfied.
§ MR. FORSYTH
said, he must congratulate the Liberal party on their having at length found both a flag and a rallying cry. He (Mr. Forsyth) accused right hon. Members opposite and their followers with attempting to make political capital out of the Bill. He did not accuse the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) of joining in the attempt, because he was too independent to do so; but he did accuse him of having uttered a speech containing monstrous exaggerations, and of having on the very slightest foundation, built an enormous superstructure of misrepresentations. It had been stated over and over again—especially in that portion of the public Press which still followed the fallen and broken fortunes of the Liberal party—that the measure was one of retrogression; that it was a counter-revolution; that it was a step on the downward path; and that now, for the first time, the Government were attempting to reverse the policy of their predecessors. These were serious charges which ought to be met, and he intended to meet them boldly and fairly, and at the same time, seriously. If the charge against the Government—that they were adopting a policy of retrogression—were well-founded, it must be on one of three grounds—first, because an expiring Commission had not been renewed; secondly, because the powers of the expiring Commission were to be transferred to the Charity Commission; and, thirdly, because the clauses of the Bill respected the wishes of the founders of the endowments. In referring to the first ground, he had nothing to say against the Commissioners personally, but no one would deny that, whether they had acted lightly or wrongly, they had become most unpopular throughout the country; in fact, the hon. Member for Hackney had given five reasons why they had become unpopular, and that was a good reason why, for the purpose of carrying out such delicate functions as were involved in the Commission, the Government could not appoint Gentlemen who were in that position. And what had the Government done with regard to the second ground? By the Acts of 1869 and 1873, the Commission would expire in December next, and if the Government had wished to throw a 356 slur upon the Commissioners, they would have continued the Commission, and appointed new Members on it; instead of which they had chosen another body—the Charity Commissioners—who were perfectly competent to discharge the duties now performed by the Commission. There was nothing reactionary in such a transference. With respect to the third ground, if the question was now being brought before Parliament for the first time, he could have understood the logic of hon. Members opposite, when they said that the will of the founders of the endowments should not be respected; but by the Act of 1869, which was carried by the Liberal party when they were in a powerful majority, it was deliberately enacted that wherever the express will of the founder could be ascertained from the terms of the deed of endowment, that will was to be respected and the Commissioners were to have no power to draw up a scheme at all, either as regarded religious teaching or the Governing Body, with respect to such endowment. What more did the present Bill do? What was done in construing a will at Doctors' Commons? If the terms were express, cadit qucœstio. But if there were any doubts, the Judge compared its several parts; and in that way, found out the testator's wishes, and he gave effect to them just the same as if they had been expressly declared. That was what Clause 4 did, and nothing more. The last four lines were—Any evidence admissible by law shall be receivable as evidence of the contents of the original instrument of foundation, and of statutes and regulations made by the founder or under his authority.What could be fairer? If nothing was said in the original document, then, what had been practised for 100 years was to be respected. Was not that quite fair? Was not a user of 100 years enough? Would they prefer that the time should run from the Act of 1779 alluded to by his right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Lyon Playfair) when Dissenting schools first became distinctly recognized, and that the clause should say "since the passing of that Act "For his part, he should not object to that; all he wanted was simply fairness, whether on the one side or the other. When they talked of retrogression and re-action they should look at Section 19 of the Act of 1869, which 357 excepted all those schools from the grasp of the measure, which the present Bill did. Was it, he asked, logical or fair to say that because they proposed to ascertain the will of the founder, they were guilty of retrogression? It should be remembered that the schemes of the Commissioners were passed during the last years of an expiring Parliament, and that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich stated the other night, that the Parliament towards the close of its career did not represent the will of the nation. Why, then, was a House of Commons which did represent the will of the nation to be stopped from undoing that which a Parliament that did not represent the majority of the country had done? He denied that the Bill was a re-actionary measure in the true sense of the word. It was only carrying out the principle of the Act of 1869 by giving it a fair and proper interpretation, and he trusted the Government would not give up the measure, or be frightened because hon. Gentlemen opposite, claiming to be the Liberal party, in want of a political cry and a rallying standard, had accused the Conservatives of adopting what they had called so often and so loudly "a retrogressive policy."
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, it was with the greatest regret he had heard the speech in which the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council had moved the second reading of the Bill. He altogether denied for himself that he had any desire to make political capital out of the question, or that the Liberal party opposed the measure in order to get up a rallying cry. He for one had lost some political capital by his adherence to his educational principles, and had not the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) been charged with sacrificing his own party on the educational question? If any party was obnoxious to such a charge, it was the occupants of the benches opposite. ["No, no!"] What other motive could they have for introducing such a measure as that? No definite charge had been brought against the Endowed Schools Commissioners, who were taunted with being unpopular, because they had interfered in cases of abuse, injustice, jobbery, and corruption. The cry of unpopularity had been raised ad nauseam, and the hon. and 358 learned Gentleman who had just sat down had simply repeated the cry when the subject of the removal of Emanuel College was under consideration. He did not hesitate to say that if one of the City Guilds considered itself attacked; if its members thought they were about to be deprived of one spoonful of turtle soup, a similar cry would be instantly raised. He was sorry to say that he found it difficult to separate the Bill from the speech in which it was introduced by the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council of Education. The noble Lord had a very disagreeable duty to perform, in following the lead of the noble Duke who declared he was the Minister of Education. However, he screwed his courage to the sticking point, and came down to the House and rather over-acted his part. But he had shown by the gentle and considerate words he had that night spoken, that he had not entirely departed from the spirit of courtesy and candour which had usually distinguished him, and he (Mr. Mundella) believed that if his own better nature were allowed to prevail, the noble Lord would induce his Colleagues to greatly modify their Bill. When, however, he remembered the evident exultation with which the noble Lord had disposed of the Commissioners, he could not help thinking of words familiar to them all—Byron's description of Lambro—He was the mildest-mannered man That ever scuttled ship or cut a throat.The noble Lord had not only scuttled the ship of the Endowed Schools Commissioners, but he had relegated them to that "something after death" which was yet more dreaded. In speaking of them, he had said that he would not call them from the shades to which they had departed. Seriously, he hoped the noble Lord might change his mind as to the Bill, and that the question might be re-considered, otherwise a cry might be raised in the country which might prove ruinous to the noble Lord and his party. His hon. and learned Friend opposite (the Solicitor General) spoke a great deal of the will of the pious founder, and every one was anxious that it should be respected; but hon. Gentlemen opposite were the last men who should talk of respecting the will of the founder for the truth was they were willing to respect it so far as it suited their pur- 359 pose, and no further. How far did they respect it in 99 cases out of 100 where these charities were founded as free schools for the poor of the country? Where the endowment had been rich and the school good, it had been appropriated by the rich; but when it had been comparatively poor, and the school good for nothing, it had been left to the poor. The Blue Coat School was founded for City Arabs, but how many of that class were to be found within its walls? Why did they not respect the will of the founder in that respect? The county of Nottingham bristled with endowments. There was one valuable endowment founded in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, by which 12 poor girls were to this day employed in spinning jerseys by hand to be distributed to the poor, who sold them in the public-houses for drink. The grammar schools of Nottingham and Newark were founded upon an express condition, that the scholars should attend mass so many times a week, and pray for the souls of the founders. Were they going to respect those direct and express instructions of the will of the founders? He would give an illustration. The grammar school of the town of Nottingham was in 1864 brought before the Charity Commissioners and the Court of Chancery. There were then 60 scholars. The school was reformed through the determined perseverance of one man. The scheme was some years in hand; but it was so enlarged that handsome buildings were erected—the finest in the locality. Now the scholars numbered 300, and the school was one of the noblest institutions in the county. Who brought all that about? A Nonconformist. Large subscriptions had since been raised for scholarships, and the first name on the list was that of the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. Morley) for £1,500. The Nonconformist Body had subscribed more than half the sum required for scholarships; and yet under the Bill those very men would be excluded from the Governing Body of the school for which they had done so much. Was that just? It was most unfortunate for the country that there was no good system of secondary education under the control of the State. That had been greatly needed in times past, though in spite of all difficulties, men like Stephenson, Arkwright, and Strutt, had established themselves as 360 inventors. The endowed schools, instead of being thrown open to the industrious classes, were now to be closed. ["No, no!"] They were about to shut them—to narrow them, and the consequence would be, there would be no ladder by which the poor boy of genius could rise in the ranks of intellect and culture, except by means of endowed schools. This Bill shut the door of hope against the working classes which had been opened in 1869, and converted the school of the community into the dead school of a sect. Was that wisdom? Was it sound. Conservative policy? By the Bill also, they were about to strike a blow at the greatest Conservative institution of this country. Hitherto there had been a tacit compact that whenever a step had been taken in advance, it should not be retraced. But this Bill reversed that policy. It was really a bad Bill. He trusted the Liberal party would follow the example of the party opposite in their plucky resistance to all measures to which they conscientiously objected, and would, for the sake of the future culture and education of the people, oppose it at every stage, and by every honourable means in their power.
§ MR. FINCH
said, he rose to complain that the Endowed Schools Commissioners, whenever they meant to attack a school, sent down their assistant Commissioners to the locality, and collected all manner of reports to the prejudice of the school. In one instance in Lincolnshire, they so disgusted the head master of a school that he resigned immediately, and for four years the Governors had been unable to obtain a successor. The Commission had been a most one-sided body, and had made the disestablishment of the Church in these schools their main object. He was most anxious that the Bill should pass.
§ MR. MELLY
said, that at that late hour he did not wish to make a speech, but he would appeal to the right hon. Baronet the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who intended, he believed, to follow in the debate, to tell the House the exact wishes of the Government in regard to the exclusion or non-exclusion of the entire Nonconformist Body from the Governing Bodies of these 540 schools. The noble Lord the Vice President of the Council must know that unless at least one-third of the managers 361 and pupils of these schools were Nonconformists, there would be small chance of obtaining the reform he desired in these schools, and for three reasons. First, without the lever of an united public opinion in the district, the Commissioners would be powerless. Secondly, the exclusion of all Nonconformists would diminish the educational strength of the Governing Body. Thirdly, the children of Dissenters would never be induced to attend a school among the managers of which they had not one friend. The noble Lord had put an Amendment upon the Paper which the House had not yet had an opportunity of studying in print; but, if he understood him aright, a declaration was to be placed at the end of the clause, that it should be in the power of the Commissioners to admit Nonconformists into the Governing Bodies. That power, was, however, inherent in them before. The Bill removed 540 schools from the operation of Section 17 of the Act of 1869, and made them all close schools. The Secretary of State for War, in the Committee of last year, made a proposal that in those close Church schools two-thirds of the Governing Body might be Churchmen, and that the appointment of the rest should be left open. If that suggestion were adopted, some Nonconformists at least might be elected, and he trusted that the noble Lord might be induced by the Secretary for War and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to carry out those views. His second question was in reference to the scholarships, emoluments, and advantages of the schools. Were they open to Nonconformist children or not? At present, by an omission in the Conscience Clause, the Nonconformists had no guarantee whatever. No one would, however, say, when a gentleman of the Jewish persuasion could become Senior Wrangler at Cambridge, that some little Nonconformist child who might come out first in the examination should be refused the place he had won, and by reason of his faith robbed of the honours his industry had gained.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that considering the very great importance of the subject, and the manner in which the action of the Endowed School Commissioners touched every section of the community, it was not surprising that hon. Gentlemen who 362 objected to this Bill should take the opportunity of renewing the discussion on the second reading upon the Motion for going into Committee. At the same time, he must say, having listened to the greater part of the debate, that nothing, in his opinion, which had been advanced would induce the House to depart from the decision as regarded the question of principle at which it arrived upon the second reading. He thought they must all feel that the best thing to be done now would be to carry the Motion for allowing the House to go into Committee, in order that the Committee might be taken on a future occasion. It was not to be expected that they should enter upon the details that night; but it was to be expected that they would that evening arrive at a conclusion in favour of discussing the details in Committee on the next occasion of their meeting. His noble Friend would by that time have placed his Amendments on the Paper, and hon. Members would have had the opportunity of considering the proposal with clearer ideas than at present. He should not have thought it necessary to trouble the House but for two considerations. In the first place, he must say that his own position was peculiar in some respects, and references had been made to him which he could hardly avoid noticing. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) in his very able and powerful address, had referred to the Schools Inquiry Commission of which Lord Derby and himself (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had been Members, and had given the House an impression that Lord Derby and himself were responsible for the Report of that Commission. He therefore thought it necessary to interrupt the hon. Member and say that he and his noble Friend did not sign it. The circumstances were these. When the Commissioners had been sitting a certain time a change of Government occurred; Lord Derby and himself came into office, and they were unable to attend the sittings of the Commission. When their Colleagues without their presence had concluded their labours and had prepared their Report, the opinion of Lord Derby and himself was taken as to what their course should be, and they agreed that it would be better not to sign the Report, but to append to it a note, stating that they did not sign the Report for two reasons— 363 first, because they had been unable to attend a great portion of the work of the Commission, and, secondly, because as Members of the Executive Government they thought it better to reserve their opinions and liberty of action as to the recommendations of the Report. They were, therefore, not technically or in reality bound by any of the recommendations of that Report. At the same time he did not wish it to be understood for a moment that he, at all events, in any way repudiated or throw over the suggestions or recommendations of that Report. He had never in any way attempted to dissociate himself from his Colleagues on that Commission, and he would say this further—that if action had been taken by Parliament in complete accordance with the recommendations of the Commission, there would not have been any difficulty in the way of the Government. For what was the main object of that Commission, and what were the means pursued for attaining that object? The main object was, that which had been and still was the main object of their legislation on this subject. There had been some talk of retrograde legislation. Well, there might be changes with regard to detail, but with regard to the the main object of dealing with these Endowed Schools, it was the same as led to the appointment of the Schools Inquiry Commission, on which he had the honour of sitting, which was to make use of the great endowments of the country with the view of promoting and improving the education of the country, and especially the middle-class education of the country. What was the machinery that the Commission recommended to be adopted? Why, it was machinery not in accordance with that used for the last five or six years, but it was machinery much more in accordance with the Bill before the House, because the recommendations of the Royal Commission were these—that recourse should be had to two classes of machinery—in the first place to the Charity Commissioners, to whom should be added some special Commissioners for the special purpose; and, secondly, to the action of local machinery; and the whole tendency and intention of that Report, as he read it, was that it was not desirable to create a new and separate Commission for the purpose of 364 carrying out the great and difficult work which they had undertaken, but that reliance should be placed for their central machinery upon that well-known and well-organized body, the Charity Commissioners, with such assistance as might be necessary, and that in order to facilitate their labours, recourse should be had to local machinery established throughout different parts of the country. But when Parliament came to consider the subject, it did not adopt that course. Parliament thought it better to appoint a distinct Commission for these purposes, consisting of three Gentlemen of very high character and great ability, and who were selected with a firm conviction that they were competent for the task that was assigned to them, and who were appointed with the view of giving effect to the legislation that had been adopted by Parliament. He wished, of course, to speak with very great regard and respect of those Commissioners. One of them was a relative of his own, another was one of his oldest friends, and the third was a gentleman whom he knew but slightly, but for whom he had very great respect. He was firmly convinced that these gentlemen conducted their business in a spirit, he would not say of the most perfect sincerity and honesty, because that might be taken for granted, but in a spirit of devotion to their work. The way in which they had carried out the task which they understood to be assigned to them deserved and received the highest commendation. But it did not follow that because these Gentlemen were actuated by the highest motives in carrying out their task, or because they addressed themselves to their work with energy and ability, that the machinery which was adopted was the best which could have been adopted, or that they were successful in overcoming all those great difficulties which were foreseen by the Schools Commission of Inquiry. And undoubtedly the experience of the last few years showed what a great fight and difficulty there had been in carrying through this great work. The adoption of that machinery had been open to very serious difficulties and objections. He did not say that a great deal could not be urged in favour of the adoption of a separate Commission; but this he would say, in answer to a question asked by the right 365 hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, the other night—namely, how did they know that the Charity Commissioners were willing to undertake this work? In answer to that question, he would say that they were not only willing to undertake it, but they had expressed to his noble Friend near him the Vice President of the Council, and to the Duke of Richmond their conviction that there was great inconvenience in separating the duties of the School Commission from the duties of the Charity Commission. In a letter they had pointed out inconveniences which were felt in that respect. He would only say for himself in a very different capacity—he meant his capacity as trustee for some charities—that he had found personally the inconvenience and difficulty from having to go from one body to another—from having to go to the Endowed Schools Commissioners after application had been made to the Charity Commissioners, and from having to go back again to the Charity Commissioners. However that might be, he wished to say a few words upon a matter of a somewhat painful and personal character. It had been suggested that in the course which the Government were taking they were casting a slur upon those Gentlemen who to the best of their ability had filled the difficult and invidious office of Endowed Schools Commissioners. The Government had, however, done no such thing, for it would be a most ungrateful and most suicidal policy on the part of the Government to cast a slur on Gentlemen, even though they might differ from their policy, who had done their work in an honest, fearless, and faithful manner. He quite agreed with an observation of the hon. Member for Hackney—that nothing could be a more unfortunate course for a Government to take than to turn a body of independent Commissioners, who did their work according to their own convictions, into a body of Gentlemen who would have to take one colour from a Liberal Government and another colour from a Conservative Government. But it seemed to him that if that sentiment was correct, as he believed it to be, it pointed to an exactly opposite conclusion to that which the hon. Gentleman would have them draw; because, assuming, as they must assume, that Her Majesty's present Government, who were responsible 366 for carrying on this work, and who could not get rid of their responsibility for the carrying on of this work of re-organizing the Endowed Schools throughout the country, differed upon certain points, as to the mode of carrying on this work from the views of their Predecessors, the course which Her Majesty's Government had taken was a proper course, because it was necessary that those Gentlemen who had to carry on this work should be in cordial relation with the Government. It was said the Government were making a proposal which was of an unusual character, because it was of a reactionary character. Let them examine what the position of the Government was. It was not quite such a case as those with which it had been most erroneously compared. It was not like the case of the University tests, or any question of that sort which had been settled, and in which the House could not stir, unless they deliberately brought in a Bill to repeal what had been done in past times. But here they found themselves in a position in which they were forced to act. They found an expiring Commission—an Act which was to be renewed, or allowed to drop, and, if it dropped, everything that was doing would drop with it. Well, surely it would be quite as re-actionary to let the Commission expire, and leave the endowments of the country in a state of confusion. It would be much more re-actionary to adopt a policy of that sort and give up the work in which they were engaged and which had been carried on by the will of the country, than to make the change which was proposed in this Bill. The Government would be exposed to some criticism if they took the former course, and a good deal of dissatisfaction would very naturally be expressed. He did not say that no criticisms were to be passed, or that no faults were to be found in the details of the measure proposed by the Government. No doubt, it was a most difficult position, and one which required a great deal of consideration. The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) said—"Why did you not change your whole proceedings a month ago? "But the matter was not so simple as that. An enormous mass of interests was connected with this subject. It was impossible to throw all those schemes which were now in progress out of gear, and it would 367 be necessary to give a good deal of careful consideration to the mode in which this great work should be carried on. What was it that the Government had done? They had brought in this Bill, which, in effect, did two things—first, it altered the machinery of the old Act, rather in the sense of the recommendations of the original Schools Inquiry Commission; and, secondly, it rendered more clear the provisions of the Act of 1869, with regard to the intentions of the founders. It was impossible now to argue the point, whether the intention of the founders ought to be respected or not, because the late Parliament had decided that question in the affirmative; and, therefore, the only matter in dispute was how that intention was to be ascertained. All that the Bill did was to render somewhat clearer and more precise the mode in which the intention of the founders was to be ascertained. He did not say that in endeavouring to accomplish that object not by bodily altering the existing Act, but by reference to its clauses and its terms, it was not possible that incidentally and unintentionally, a different effect might have been produced from that which was the real intention of the Government, and it was the object of the Amendment of which the noble Lord had given Notice to clear up any doubt that might exist with reference to that intention. Those hon. Gentlemen who were acquainted with the Act of 1869, would remember that the 17th clause provided that in every scheme relating to educational endowments, the Commissioners should provide that the religious opinion of any person should not affect his qualification for being a member of the Governing Body of such endowments with certain specified exceptions. Clause 19 of the same Act specified those exceptions, which were—first, in the case of Cathedral schools, and secondly, in cases of educational endowments, the scholars educated in which, were, in the opinion of the Commissioners, required by the express terms of the original instrument of foundation to learn, or to be instructed according to the doctrines or formularies of any particular Church. The present Bill, by giving a new and larger definition of those words, "the express terms of the original instrument of foundation," would bring within the exceptions a much larger number of 368 schools than were now included. But some doubt had arisen as to whether it would not act as a direction to the Commissioners, that in all the schools coming within the new definition they were to take care that all the members of the Governing Body were to be members of the Church, or of the denomination in whose doctrines the children were to be instructed. The object of his noble Friend in introducing his Amendment was to disabuse the public mind on that point. The Government did not believe the Bill would have that effect, and the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) said he thought the same, for the right hon. Gentleman did not believe that the words of the Amendment did anything. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) agreed with that right hon. Gentleman that the noble Lord's Amendment would not make any substantial difference in the Bill, although, undoubtedly, they would make the intention of the Government in the matter clearer, and less liable to be misunderstood. In making that proposal the Government did not intend that there should be an exclusion of all Nonconformists from the Governing Bodies of these schools. What they did intend was, that religious instruction should be given in these schools, and that that religious instruction should be in accordance with what appeared to be the intention of the founder. But with regard to the constitution of the Governing Bodies, the House had the assurance of the noble Lord—and the Government would always be ready to repeat it—that they had the greatest repugnance to the exclusion of the great Nonconforming Body from a fair share in the administration of the great public schools of the country. How-over, it was not convenient to discuss in detail on that occasion the merits of the noble Lord's Amendment. It was said that the whole thing would turn upon the character of the Governing Bodies; and that if they appointed Governors of a certain complexion, and made the appointment of all future Governors co-optative, they would in practice secure these schools to the Bodies represented by the existing Governors. No doubt, that was perfectly true, and that was the case at the present moment. The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Melly) seemed to be running rather wild, when he said that a clause of the 369 present Act made it compulsory on the Commissioners to place a certain number of Nonconformists upon the Governing Bodies. The clause did nothing of the sort. As matters now stood, it would be possible for the Commissioners to appoint co-optative Bodies of such a constitution that it would be morally certain that to the end of time they would elect Churchmen to join them. It appeared to be forgotten, however, that there were two checks upon the Commissioners—first, that of the Executive Government; and secondly, that of Parliament, by both of whom the schemes would have to be approved before they came into force. He thought the House showed great want of confidence in itself, and in Parliament generally, in betraying that extreme anxiety as to the possible character of the schemes which might be proposed by the Commissioners. All he could say was, that under this Bill, Parliament would retain the same powers as it now had to reject the schemes to be proposed by the Commissioners; and that on the whole, the new Act would be carried out upon the same lines and in the same manner as the system had been carried out heretofore. But there would be this difference—the Endowed Schools Commissioners would cease to exist. With regard to the Endowed Schools Commissioners, he must remark, that | they were a body who did not represent any local interests, who were not in any sense a judicial body, and who did not represent the Government; but they held a position which was very anomalous, and which must be very painful to the eminent Gentlemen who were on that Commission. They would no longer be interposed as part of the machinery, but they would disappear, though he trusted their disappearance from the scene would be accompanied by no feeling of unkindness or ill-will, but on the contrary, by a grateful recollection of the services which they had undoubtedly rendered under circumstances of great difficulty. By adopting this Bill, he trusted the machinery connected with the preparation of schemes for the management of educational endowments would be greatly improved, and that the great work before them would be successfully carried out.
§ MR. LOWE
said, that the Bill was one of the most obscure and difficult that had ever come under his cognizance, 370 and he regretted that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had quenched the little light that had been thrown upon it in the course of the debate, and had plunged him again into the Cimmerian darkness from which he trusted he had emerged. The right hon. Gentleman most justly and fairly bestowed a high tribute of praise on the merits of the Commissioners; but he said in substance that they were not fit to carry out the change which the present Government contemplated, and therefore it was necessary to put other persons in their place. But while the right hon. Gentleman began with that declaration he ended by saying that the Bill was the same as the original Act, and would be carried into effect on the same principles. How they were to reconcile those statements he could not conceive. If that was making an obscure subject clear he was sorry to say he could not follow it. At any rate, it appeared to be plain that they were to get rid of the old Commissioners, who—according to the testimony of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—had committed no fault, and had merely done their duty fairly and honestty, and were to substitute for them the Charity Commissioners. He was sorry that the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council had thought it right to speak of the Commissioners in the way he did, not only because he did not think they deserved it—and in that opinion he was also confirmed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—but also because, as the noble Lord would learn when he was a little longer in office, it was the duty of the Government to speak of Gentlemen with whom they were brought into close business relations—gentlemen who had not an opportunity of defending themselves in that House, and who had performed an arduous work with great ability—in the fairest and most considerate manner. But for Government to come forward and speak of those Gentlemen as if they intended to lower them in the opinion of Parliament was a thing which ought not to be permitted except in the gravest cases, and upon grounds which had not and could not be laid before the House. The noble Lord had said that evening that he was sorry he had not said all the good he might of them. But to say all the good one might of people might be, after all, the best way of abusing men by getting credit for candour 371 on your part, and so making the abuse more telling, as coming from a candid person. The Vice President said that he had fenced himself in on all subjects; but in his (Mr. Lowe's) opinion the noble Lord had done more railing than fencing. To whom was the Government about to de-legato the duties hitherto discharged by the Commission? To the Charity Commissioners—a body of which he ought to know something, having been one of them himself for five years. It was the duty of that body to prepare schemes on all kinds of subjects, and, if approved by Parliament, the persons interested were relieved from the payment of fees. Well, it was the duty of the Vice President to submit those schemes to Parliament, without, however, committing the Government of the day. The result was, those schemes were always opposed by the people of the neighbourhood concerned; they were coldly received by Parliament, and almost universally negatived. Now, what would be the result of giving this new power to the Charity Commissioners, under the same conditions, and with no change but the appointing of two or three new Commissioners? Clearly the same. And here he would say in passing, that before this Bill was passed he hoped the Government would see fit to lay before the the House the names of those new Commissioners. The Charity Commission was a most useful body. Its appointment was most bitterly opposed by the Tory Party of the day, but the Liberal Party carried it in 1853, and no more beneficent institution had been established. It had taken out of the hands of the Court of Chancery the whole business of charities, and instead of hundreds of thousands being wasted in litigation, it managed all their affairs, kept the money, and did this without cost, to the charities, of a single sixpence. If Parliament gave this body the invidious duty under which the late Commission had laboured, was it not quite evident that in a few years the faithful administration of the trust, without pandering to local interests, would break down that body, as it broke down, according to his experience, all bodies that stood up for public as against local interests? The effect would be that the Charity Commission, also, would be broken down under the weight that Parliament would place upon it, for it would 372 accumulate upon its shoulders double the burden of unpopularity that crushed the late Commission, and the result would be that instead of getting the work done well they would have destroyed a most useful institution, which they would find it impossible to replace. And now, a few words on the Bill. It was almost unintelligible as it was drawn, and one could not find out what it meant, even with reference to the Acts with which it dealt. However, by asking questions and inquiry one might get some faint glimpse of its meaning. The Act of 1869 nationalized and undenominationalized all schools except Cathedral schools, and schools as to which the express words of the foundation within 50 years of the present time required that the children should be educated in the doctrines of the Church of England. That continued up to 1873, and the present law was, that whereas in 1873 the point of departure was fixed at the time of the Toleration Act, now the time of departure was to be altered, and by it some 500 schools were to be removed from being schools open to all subjects of Her Majesty, and would be made into schools of the strictest denominational kind, and would be attached to the Church of England. And here he was bound to say that the change to-night announced by the noble Lord was of no account in the matter. That change was he would not say illusory, but almost wholly unimportant. Well, then, what was the duty of the House under the circumstances? They had just nearly concluded the long campaign in which the Nonconformists of this country had been struggling up to a position of equality with the members of the Church of England. The Liberal party had been playing the game of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Grievance after grievance they had swept away, and by producing more content had, no doubt, strengthened the ranks of hon. Gentlemen opposite and weakened their own. They had come, it seemed, to such a pass that the party opposite thought they were weak enough, and now they seemed to think it necessary that the Liberal party should be strengthened a little. As the Liberal party had done away with old grievances for many years, hon. Gentlemen opposite were resolved to supply them with some that were new. For what other purpose, when these matters had been 373 settled amicably by agreement between the two parties, hon. Gentlemen opposite should think it necessary to stir up those waters of sectarian bitterness, he could not conceive. What advantage could it be to hon. Gentlemen opposite to put a few children of the Church of England in places now occupied by Nonconformist children, and to put a few Nonconformist children in places of inferiority? That they should do that, and a number of other irritating things, would have no other effect than to stir up bad feeling, retard the progress of education, and re-open wounds that had been healed. What possible motive could have induced them to make a sacrifice of that kind—a sacrifice which must be beneficial to their adversaries? If he were to look at it from a party point of view, he would not ask for anything better; and if he wanted an irritant, he would ask for no better than the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council, who had told the House in so many words that the Church of England and the Nonconformists were divided into two hostile camps, and that the Government was identified with the Church. When an hon. Gentleman in high position held such language, it was time to speak plainly, and to vindicate the Government from the reproach which was cast upon it by its own Members, when they claimed to be the Ministers of a Church, or of any other institution of the country, instead of rising to the height of their position, and being the Ministers of the whole people of England. There was only one thing more with which he would trouble the House, and that was the principle which lay at the bottom of all this, and which appeared to be the most dangerous and subversive which could possibly be laid down. He had, on former occasions, predicted that as the House became less and less aristocratic, the tendency would be to break down the principles upon which constitutional Government in England had been carried on for so many centuries. The principle upon which the country had been governed since the Revolution was that of two parties not enemies, not hostile to each other, not animated by a spirit of hatred, but by a generous and noble rivalry, wishing each to do what it could for the benefit of the country. No one could be insensible to the col- 374 lateral advantages attendant on the possession of power. But hitherto it had been the prevailing feeling of both parties in this country that they were not to carry on war â outrance. These were limits at which they were to stop—they were to be content with certain things, and never to push matters beyond certain limits, not laid down in the written, but in the unwritten law of Parliament. If anything had been laid down in the unwritten law, it was that where, after full consideration, a measure had been decided by Parliament—and much more when it had been decided without division—that measure was entitled to a full and fair trial. That was a Constitutional doctrine, and in the highest degree Conservative; and he regretted to see hon. Gentlemen who ought to be the guardians of Conservative principles and Constitutional traditions coming forward now to upset a policy to which they had been parties, and which had been carried out by their sanction, and by agreement with a Government which was then strong enough to have imposed severer terms. By a swing of the pendulum they found themselves in power, and they wanted to undo the policy of their Predecessors; they found themselves powerful enough to say—"We will undo your policy, not because it has failed, but because we were always opposed to it, and will not give it a trial. You were in a majority, and we submitted; now we are in power, and we will undo your policy." It was, no doubt, in their power to carry this policy; it was an old policy; Vœ victis was ever the motto of a barbarous people; the policy was easy, because it gratified the passions and the animosities of mankind. It was very gratifying, after a long period of banishment from power, to come in not merely to enjoy the legitimate, but the illegitimate uses of power—not merely to succeed to the government of a great country, but to pay back upon your rivals vengeance for the power which they had exercised in your spite. There was unfortunately only too much in the lower instincts to commend that course, and so he was more grieved than surprised that such a policy should have been adopted; but still he begged hon. Gentlemen opposite to pause and consider its effect, before forcing that measure on against 375 the convictions of the Liberal party, and against what, so far as they could judge, a short time ago were the convictions of the people of England. When the next oscillation of the pendulum took place—and take place it would—he hoped that the Liberal party would scorn to imitate the example now given them, and that they would not descend to a policy of retaliation. But though he wished that that might be a policy of the next Liberal Government, he did not apprehend, if this Bill should pass, that it would be so. They were made much of the same clay as their adversaries, and if they were vexed and provoked, they would probably retaliate with as little care as hon. Gentlemen opposite. They should, however, remember that "offences will come, but woe to them by whom they come." Woe to those who were the first to commence a system of employing the time of Parliament, not in making that which had been solemnly agreed upon the basis of future legislation, but in the sterile work of undoing that which they disliked in the legislation of the past. The effect of that would be to degrade Parliament to the level of Continental Assemblies, where, instead of honourable rivalry and competition of public men for the favour of the public, you had men who met each other as remorseless enemies, and who could hardly be restrained from personal violence. He asked hon. Gentlemen to reflect. They had wisely spent a good deal of time in passing measures which the late Government had prepared for them, and had spent the remainder of the Session in endeavouring to discharge their election debts. They ascertained by a minute investigation that the whole sense of the country was against any alteration in the Licensing Act and yet they came down with a Bill to alter it. They had not had time to ascertain whether the measure which they were about to repeal had worked well or not; but they came down, because they were indebted to the clergy just as they were indebted to the publicans for their electioneering triumph—to undo the measure without the least knowledge whether it had succeeded or not. He hoped hon. Gentlemen would yet think better of it, and that they would think that the time of Parliament could be better employed in advancing gradually the improvement of the coun- 376 try than in a perpetual see-saw between two parties, each undoing the work of the other.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Sir Charles Forster.)
said, he wished to put a plain, straightforward question to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. Many hon. Friends of his had voted for the introduction of the Bill; but before they continued the subject, they wished to know what was really the object of the Government. The 4th and 5th clauses of the Bill each contained the expression "any particular church, sect, or denomination," and in connection with the word "any," they wished to know whether, under those clauses, schools which had been founded by Roman Catholics would be given over for the education of children of that faith. There were 72 endowed schools which belonged to the Catholics, and there were 49 Roman Catholic Members who voted diversely on the second reading, and whose votes would now be influenced by the reply of the Ministry.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I think, Sir, the debate has been sufficiently exhausted, and that we can now come to a division upon it. I should say the question of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) is one that had better be discussed in Committee. The hon. Member wishes to know whether the intentions of Roman Catholic founders would be respected since the Reformation. [Mr. SULLIVAN: Before the Reformation.] That would involve us in a question which is not unfamiliar to the House—the continuity of the English Church, and which cannot be discussed on a Motion for Adjournment. As a general principle, the intentions of Roman Catholic founders would be respected; I suppose there cannot be any doubt of that. With respect to the Motion before us, I think we ought not to adjourn. Considering the period of the Session, I think the Motion will not commend itself to the House and I must oppose it.
§ MR. RICHARD
supported the Adjournment. Surely another night was not too much to ask for the discussion of a question in which Nonconformists were so deeply interested. The Non- 377 conformists were deeply interested in I the question, as being about to be subjected to various disabilities, and as yet only one had spoken in the debate.
§ MR. A. H. BROWN
said, he concurred in the opinion that the Nonconformists had not had fair play, and he must certainly support the adjournment.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
thought the argument was much stronger in favour of the adjournment of the debate than of its continuance. In the first place an hon. Gentleman who had the confidence of the Roman Catholic Members stated that there existed an uncertainty among them as to the course they should take on the Bill, and asked a question of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, and certainly he did not get a very definite answer. That in his opinion was one reason why the debate should be adjourned; but there was another reason. The noble Lord the Vice President of the Council made a speech that evening, in which he announced his intention of bringing forward an Amendment which would satisfy the objections put forward by the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), and the Nonconformists; but they had not yet seen it. Then, again, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not answer the question put to him by the hon. Member for Stoke, but gave an explanation entirely different from that of the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council. Under these circumstances, he (Mr. Forster) submitted the House ought to see what the words of the proposed Amendment really were, before they came to a vote. But there was another circumstance in addition. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that evening a fact which was new to him—namely, that the Charity Commissioners had been offered and accepted the duties of this Endowed School Commission. That was a new matter, and he could not conceive in what way they were to come to a decision on the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney without having all these matters cleared up. He should, therefore, support the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate, more especially as he was aware that there was a great desire on the part of several hon. Members on his side of the House to take part in the debate.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 187; Noes 266: Majority 79.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. MACDONALD
said, that considering the large number of Members upon that side of the House who were desirous of speaking he would move the adjournment of the House. The country ought also to have a chance of considering the measure.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Macdonald.)
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that some hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed hardly to be sufficiently aware that if they succeeded in defeating the passing of that Bill by time, the only effect would be that the Commission would expire, and the fondest hopes of those who held probably the most ultra opinions antagonistic to those of the hon. Member who made the last Motion would not be dissatisfied with that result. He thought that the Commission was necessary, and that the prudent provisions which the Government had introduced to the notice of the House would render its action extremely beneficial. However, in regard to the Motion last proposed, he was not at all inclined to enter into any controversy on the subject. He did not object to the discussion being adjourned, and it would be resumed to-morrow. Probably the hon. Gentleman was not aware that the Motion he had made would stop all Public Business, if carried, and he trusted therefore that he would withdraw it.
§ MR. MACDONALD
said, he would withdraw his Motion on condition that the debate was continued to-morrow—Tuesday.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he had no wish to prevent the Bill proceeding, but would suggest that the discussion on it should not be resumed to-morrow, which had been already allotted to another important question. They ought to be allowed another day to consider the alterations which the Government proposed to make in their measure.
said, he should like to know when the Government 379 would produce the Report of the Charity Commissioners, which had been promised them by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that night. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted the opinion of that body officially, and it was material with reference both to the machinery of the present Bill and to that of the old Bill.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Debate be adjourned till Tomorrow."—(Mr. Disraeli.)
§ MR. GOSCHEN
hoped a reply would be given to the Question of his right hon. Friend as to the Report of the Charity Commissioners.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I am sorry to say that there is no Report in existence. There is a note, which I have seen for the first time this evening. It is extremely brief, and the right hon. Gentleman can have the pleasure of reading it behind the Speaker's Chair.
§ MR W. E. FORSTER
said, the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was an important one, and it would have an effect upon hon. Members of the House. It was to the effect that the Charity Commissioners were willing to undertake the duties specified in the Bill, and that they hoped to be able to do so with advantage. If the statement was worth making, it was surely worth while to have the document upon which it was based before the House.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, it would be impossible for the debate to be continued unless the document was produced. The Bill was so important that hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House were determined not to let it go into Committee, unless every element which could enable them to come to a decision was laid before the House. They would, therefore, resist the progress of the Bill until the letter was produced.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, there seemed to be a strong disposition to make mountains out of molehills. He begged to remind the House that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, on the second reading of the Bill, asked, whether the Charity Commissioners would be willing to undertake the duties, and that he (the Chancellor of the Exche- 380 quer) stated in reply, that he believed they would, and that his noble Friend had a letter on the subject. He thought time would be saved by his reading the letter, which had been received from the Chairman of the Charity Commission. It was as follows:—
§ "Charity Commission, 18 July, 1874.
§ "My Lord,—I understand that you wish to he informed whether any inconvenience has been found to be occasioned by the existence of the Endowed Schools Commission and the Charity Commission as separate and independent Departments. I have no hesitation in stating that much inconvenience and even mischief, have undoubtedly arisen from this cause, notwithstanding the entirely harmonious action that has been invariably maintained between the two offices. The inconvenience is twofold: 1st, as affecting the Departments themselves, whose time is frequently occupied by correspondence and inquiries which would be needless if the offices were united; and 2nd, as affecting applicants who are constantly perplexed and embarrassed by finding themselves handed backwards and forwards between two different offices for reasons which it is difficult for them to comprehend, but with the effect usually of creating delay and expense, and a corresponding amount of irritation. I have repeatedly felt it necessary to apologise to gentlemen seeking for assistance from this office, for being compelled to refer them to a different Department for the complete attainment of their object, some portion of which may happen to come within the peculiar jurisdiction of the other Commission. The simplification of procedure resulting from the union of the two offices must unquestionably be regarded as a considerable advantage.—I have the honour to be your Lordship's faithful Servant,
§ J. HILL.
§ The Right Honble. The Viscount Sandon, M.P. "
said, he had listened to the letter with great satisfaction; but he could not understand why it had not been produced, and he should therefore give Notice, that he would move to-morrow for the production of the document.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.