HC Deb 24 July 1874 vol 221 cc645-51

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 4 (Construction of "express terms" and "original instrument").


thanked the Government for having adopted the suggestion he had made that they should withdraw the clauses to which objection had been taken—namely, the clause under notice, as well as Clauses 5, 6, and 7. He would only add one remark—namely, that he thought it was desirable that in future the draftsmen employed by the Government to draw Bills, should be instructed not to prepare clauses which were unintelligible even to the Prime Minister of England. If the Primo Minister could not comprehend a Bill drawn by a draftsman of the Government, was it to be expected that humble Members of the House should be able to understand it?


thought the whole blame should not be thrown on draftsmen. These clauses, if he was not mistaken, must have been drawn to order.

Clause struck out.

Clause 5 (Character of religious instruction and qualification of masters); Clause 6 (Character of religious instruction in certain schools); and Clause 7 (Saving of Conscience Clause for day scholars) struck out.

Clause 8 (Exercise of certain powers by the Charity Commissioners) agreed to.

Clause 9 (Quorum of Commissioners).


said, the clause was merely substituted for the 48th clause of the Act of 1869, which was repealed in the Schedule.


inquired, whether it was intended that the Endowed Schools Commissioners should submit schemes to the Education Department till December? If Clause 48 was absolutely repealed, it appeared to him that the powers of the Commissioners to submit schemes would lapse entirely. It was desirable that words should be introduced to give the Commissioners power to submit schemes till December.


said, the latter part of the 3rd section of Clause 1 gave the power in question, and removed the difficulty pointed out.


thought the words in Clause 1 related only to the concurrent powers of the Commissioners. By repealing Clause 48 there would be no machinery for controlling those powers. He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would consider this matter before the Report.


promised to give the subject his fullest consideration.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 10 (Rules for conduct of business by Charity Commissioners) struck out.

Miscellaneous and Repeal.

Clause 11 (Continuance of powers transferred to Charity Commissioners); Clause 12 (Repeal of Act); and Clause 13 (Short title of Act), agreed to.


, in moving the following clause:— (Elective governing bodies and local trustees to frame schemes.) When the governing body of an endowed school, or trustees of a charity making provision for an endowed school, are an elective body, they may, as provided by the Endowed Schools Acts, prepare and submit to the Charity Commissioners in writing a scheme relating to such endowment; and any scheme so prepared by a governing body of an endowed school, or trustees of a charity making provision for an endowed school, and submitted to the Charity Commissioners, shall, if approved by them, be adopted and proceeded with by them in the same manner as if it were a scheme prepared by themselves, subject to the following conditions—namely:—

  1. "(a.) That notice be given to the Charity Commissioners before the expiration of three months after the passing of this Act of an intention to submit a scheme by or on behalf of those who are entitled to do so; and that such scheme be so submitted to the Charity Commissioners before the expiration of six months after the passing of this Act;
  2. "(b.) That any scheme submitted shall have been printed and posted as a public notice in such conspicuous places, and in such manner as is usually adopted in like proceedings in the place where the school is situated to which the scheme refers, fourteen days before it is transmitted to the Charity Commissioners,"
said, he did so, because he fully believed that the Commissioners, in undertaking this work, would be assisted by having the co-operation of local authorities.


said, there could be no objection to the principle of the clause; but it appeared to him that it was not necessary.

Clause negatived.


said, that his hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) had a new clause upon the Paper relating to county school committees. In his absence, he (Mr. Whitwell) would simply formally move the clause, in order to afford the Government an opportunity of expressing its opinion upon the point.


begged to say, in reply to his hon. Friend, that the Government considered that the object which he had in view would be sufficiently met by the Bill as it stood, as the Education Department had power under the measure to consult the feeling of local bodies. It was the earnest desire of the Government to have their assistance in the administration of the Act, and they would hail with satisfaction the appointment of an influential county committee to co-operate with the Charity Commissioners in dealing with the endowed schools of their county. Indeed, the Government hoped to be able to take the opportunity of the appointment of the new Commission to ask the assistance of the counties in the matter; but at present he could not say how far such a cause would be practicable in reference to the counties as a whole. He need hardly repeat that the Government attached great importance to the free communication to the Charity Commissioners by gentlemen of knowledge and weight in the counties of their opinions, based upon local knowledge, as to the best mode of treating and developing the endowed schools of their counties.


said, he was glad that the hon. Member had elicited these remarks from the noble Lord, as it was desirable that the Charity Commissioners should endeavour to obtain the opinion of influential local parties in the same way as the Endowed Schools Commissioners had been doing. He thought, however, the better way to carry out the object in view would be not to formulate by actual clauses the method in which the committees were to act.


asked, whether it was proposed to consult borough authorities with regard to schemes affecting their interests?


replied that he would be the last person to pass over the claims of the great town populations, with which he was so closely connected.


pointed out that the county committees must not expect to avoid incurring unpopularity, as that was inherent in dealing with the endowed schools.


wished to speak of the present Commissioners in the spirit of the maxim—De mortuis nil nisi bonum. The Endowed Schools Commissioners were not to blame for not having always had the assistance of county committees, as from the position in which they were placed, they found it necessary in dealing with certain local interests, to decline the assistance of local men. He trusted that in regard to these matters the Education Department would not throw the whole responsibility on the Commissioners, but would make it their business to elicit local feeling by such means as might be most advantageous, in concert with them. He, however, did not think it would be wise for the Government to deal with a small portion of the great question of local government. These educational controversies would never cease until good county government was established.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule amended, and agreed to.

Postponed Preamble.


moved, as an Amendment, to omit the following words relating to the amending clauses which had been dropped:— Whereas it is expedient to make further provision for carrying into effect the objects of the Endowed Schools Acts, 1869 and 1873 (in this Act referred to as the Endowed Schools Acts) and for better promoting the main designs of the founders of endowed schools in respect of a liberal education, and of such part of that education as relates to religious instruction.


thought the Amendment might be accepted.


recommended that the words should be retained.


agreed in the feeling of the hon. Member, but thought it hardly fair to squeeze in an opinion in the Preamble, after the alterations which had been made in the Bill.


held that this portion of the Preamble would convey an insinuation that the Endowed Schools Commissioners did not care for religious education, which was not the fact.


said, that there would be no insinuation in the words, which were simply a plain direction. Although certain clauses had been abandoned, they expected to have an equivalent for them next year. He did not value one rush the material Conservatism of the hon. Member who last night and to-day had put himself forward as the leader of the irreligious Conservatives. ["Oh, oh!"] Perhaps he ought to say the undenominational Conservatives. ["Order!"]


pointed out that the hon. Member was discussing a subject which did not arise on the Amendment.


said, he should oppose the omission of those words.


retracted the word insinuation, saying that the part of the Preamble he wished to strike out would be a positive charge against the Commissioners.


explained that unless he thought the Bill would promote a better system of religious education he would vote against it.


deprecated any renewal of discussion on these points, and suggested that it would be better to strike out the Preamble altogether.


considered it of great importance to retain the Preamble as a guide to those who would have to enforce the Act. Its terms were often appealed to, and if struck out, he should cease to support the Bill.


asked, what provisions remaining in the Bill, the Ereamble would refer to?


understood that notwithstanding the omission of the clauses referred to, the Bill did more than merely transfer the powers of the Endowed Schools Commissioners to the Charity Commissioners, and the latter were intended to carry out the original Acts in a different spirit from that which had influenced the Endowed Schools Commissioners. ["No, no!"] If not the passing of this Bill would be a farce.


was sorry that a dispute should arise on what was immaterial, when what was really material had ceased to be in the Bill. He did not disguise his opinion on the matter. But he must point out that there was now no necessity for the Preamble. He would remind the Committee that last year, the Commissioners stated, when examined, that they did not consider there was such a thing as a real and liberal education without religious instruction. No doubt the Commissioners who would carry out the provisions of the Bill would act upon that principle.


warned the Committee, that unless the Amendment was accepted, it would be necessary to raise the question of the original founder who had been a Roman Catholic.


advised that the Amendment be withdrawn, in order that the Preamble might be omitted.


said, he would adopt that course.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


urged that in future, Bills should be so drafted that the time of the House need not be occupied in discussing the meaning of clauses.


suspected that in this instance the draftsman was not to blame, and that, as had already been suggested, the clauses in question had been drawn to order. He thought that too much had been said about the difficulty of understanding the 4th clause For his own part, he could only say that he understood it too well. He trusted that on the Report the noble Lord would be able to answer a question that had formerly been put, with respect to the names of the additional Commissioners.


pointed out that if the Committee struck out only the first part of the Preamble, they might be held to have negatived the instructions enjoining the Commissioners to promote religious education, whereas if they struck out the whole, it would be clear that they wished to secure peace, and avoid embarrassing the Commissioners.

Preamble struck out.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 228.]