§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, it may be convenient to the House that I should now notice the present position of Public Business, so that hon. Gentlemen may form some estimate of the prospect before us. For some time, unfortunately, I have seen that the Land Bills which have been introduced by Her Majesty's Government for the consideration and approval of the House, have but a very poor chance of being passed this Session. Though their interest is not of an urgent character, they are excellent Bills, and I trust the time is not far distant when they will be passed into law. There is another group of Bills which until recently I thought it was possible to pass—namely, the Judicature Bills. Her Majesty's Government was anxious that those Bills should be passed. They are measures in which we take much interest, and the delay with reference to them, no doubt, has been occasioned in a great degree by the time occupied in the preparation of the new Rules. I need not remind the House that those Rules required the greatest consideration and the highest exercise of the intellect of some of the 626 most intellectual of our fellow-subjects. No one would for a moment murmur at the time that has been expended upon the consideration of those Rules. They are completely finished, and they are now before Her Majesty; but, unfortunately, they could not be laid on the Table of the House in time to assist us in the consideration of the Bills. Indeed, under all the circumstances, I do not think that at the end of the Session, when the House is either excited or exhausted, a proper opportunity could be afforded for the discussion of arrangements which were to be irrevocable, or which, at least, must last for a generation and more. Such a great question as the establishment of a Court of Appeal demands the whole attention of the House. I have, therefore, felt it impossible for the House this Session to consider these matters. There are two other measures before the House, as to one of which the Government is specially responsible; as to another of them, the Government is morally responsible. I will dismiss them for a moment—in order that I may put the state of the Public Business before the House, I will put aside the consideration of the Public Worship Regulation Bill and the Endowed Schools Acts Amendment Bill. Assuming that we do not proceed with the Land Bills and the Judicature Bills, the state of affairs will be this—that Parliament might then be prorogued, in all probability, on the 8th of August. An earlier day, I believe, will be impossible. It is, of course, most desirable that the right hon. and learned Recorder should have the opportunity which the country expects, and which was promised him, of proceeding with the Public Worship Regulation Bill. I find that on Monday we must have a Committee of Supply and other business. That is the key-note of our arrangements. I cannot ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to continue the Committee of his Bill on that day, because when there is a Committee of Supply—and especially when it is the last Committee of Supply—there is a prospect of a discussion for a somewhat indefinite time; and I believe there are other subjects which may need discussion on Monday. But on Tuesday, after the Report of Supply, I shall be happy to enable him to proceed with his Bill. I have done all I can to afford the right hon. and 627 learned Gentleman an ample opportunity of carrying his Bill through, and there is no doubt that the course proposed will give him the necessary time. I come now to another Bill which is in our Paper of this morning for Committee—I mean the Endowed Schools Acts Amendment Bill. The House must feel that, in conducting that Committee, we have to encounter great difficulty in consequence of the advanced period of the Session. That Bill has led to protracted debates, in consequence, I believe, of the House being under an entire misconception of the character of many of its clauses. I do not impute any blame to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I hope they will acquit Her Majesty's Government of any unfair design with reference to it. I attribute the difficulty chiefly to the language which has of late years—perhaps necessarily—stolen into our legislation, and which in this instance is of such a character that upon every point, to enable one to understand it, the aid of experts and adepts in interpretation is needed. I am further of opinion, in which I am borne out by competent authority, that I made no statement in this House with regard to the Bill—nor did my noble Friend the Vice President of the Council—that was not justified by the language; but I have boon obliged to take these statements on trust from those who made them, for I honestly confess—although it may be an argument to prove my own incapacity for the position I occupy—that as to those clauses, although I have given them many anxious and perplexed moments of consideration, they have much perplexed me. I have not been able to obtain that mastery over them that I should wish to have. But the House having sanctioned the appointment of a new Commission, and having sanctioned it in a manner which entirely justifies the policy of Her Majesty's Government, Her Majesty's Government deem it advisable to postpone to another Session the consideration of the Amendments which the Government may desire to introduce with regard to the existing law. We desire to see those Amendments introduced; but we see no prospect of coming to anything like a satisfactory conclusion at this period of the Session with reference to the difficulties which we must encounter in the conduct of the Bill. We, 628 therefore, propose that, the House having sanctioned the establishment of a new Commission—a point which has been violently opposed—and the Government having completely vindicated their intention with regard to what, I believe, are necessary Amendments in the existing law—and, without receding from that intention, we feel it impossible to advance them at present—the introduction of those Amendments should be postponed to next Session. That will, of course, very much expedite the other Business of the Session. I trust the House will go into Committee on the Endowed Schools Bill, and not find it necessary to spend much time over it. We shall then proceed with the other measures on the Paper; and with the arrangements I have suggested to the right hon. and learned Recorder to adopt, it appears to me we may thus complete the programme I have indicated, and that Her Majesty may be advised to prorogue Parliament about the 8th of August.
The right hon. Gentleman, Sir, has made a statement of great importance with respect to Public Business, combining with a statement of facts considerable reference to justifying pleas. I am aware there is no question before the House, but I think the statement of the right hon. Gentleman on the condition of Public Business can hardly be received entirely without comment, and therefore I am prepared to conclude with a Motion, though I do not feel it necessary to dwell at any length upon the particular points of that statement. There is no doubt that the statement will be reviewed in various senses and upon various occasions, and the Speech which Her Majesty was advised to deliver at the commencement of the Session will be carefully compared with the altered and almost exhausted list which the right hon. Gentleman has now laid before us. I do not think there can be any objection, as far as I understand it, to the order in which he proposes to proceed with Public Business, although I confess I am disappointed in his having departed from a declaration which he was undoubtedly entitled to depart from. I am disposed to regret his having departed from a declaration which he made some time ago, that the right hon. and learned Recorder should be allowed to proceed with the Public Wor- 629 ship Bill immediately after the Bill relating to endowed schools was disposed of. However, I now understand that on Tuesday next, he will in all likelihood be able to proceed with that Bill. But it is impossible to dismiss altogether without a word the consideration of the Bill relating to endowed schools. As I understand the speech of the right hon. Gentleman upon the present occasion, he departs from the particular clauses of that Bill, which unsettle what we consider the settlement of the year 1869, upon the ground that those clauses are unintelligible, and that he has not been able to master them. Well, that is a most important discovery. I think it a great pity that that discovery was not made before hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House were, if not charged with obstructing the conduct of Business, at least admonished upon the consequences of obstructing the progress of a Bill which they regarded as unsettling what had been agreed upon, and as introducing so dangerous a precedent into the character of our legislation, that it was desirable there should be a full discussion upon it. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that Her Majesty's Government postpones to a future Session, the consideration of the Amendments which they propose to introduce into the body of the existing law. Now, with respect to those Amendments, I will not say how they have been drafted, neither can I say that in regard to them we have been instructed by the Bill; because the right hon. Gentleman states that he has been unable to understand them. But we have learnt something from the speeches of Members of the Government upon the various points which have been raised. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has instructed us that while the general policy of the late Commissioners, as I may now call them, was to be maintained, their religious policy was to be altered, and the right hon. Gentleman who sits beside him (the Secretary of State for War)—in distinct contradiction, as it appears to me, of the right hon. Gentleman his Colleague, has frankly and distinctly avowed his disapproval of the policy of the late Commissioners, in respect of the alteration they made in the constitution of the Governing Bodies of what he terms good schools—intending to say, probably, that the reformatory principles of the Commissioners 630 in regard to general education, as well as the manner in which they endeavoured to hold the balance between Church and Nonconformist interests are to be renounced and altered. These, Sir, are the most important declarations which have been made, if we except the declaration of the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council, with respect to which there was much difficulty in comprehending on this side of the House what appeared to be the substance of his statement. By that I mean what appeared to be his pacific and his warlike declarations. But the upshot of the whole was, as far as we were able to understand it, that the Dissenters of this country were to be divided into two classes—the one to be designated and embraced as "our Nonconformist Brethren," and the other to be relegated to a very different category as "political Nonconformists." and with these political Nonconformists, according to the declaration of the noble Lord, war is to be carried on by Her Majesty's Government. As far as I understand the position of parties in this country, most of those who belong to the Church of England are of opinion, on conscientious grounds, that the connection between Church and State ought to be maintained, and most of those who belong to Nonconformist Bodies, hold an equally conscientious opinion, that the connection between Church and State ought to be dissolved. ["No, no!" and "Hear, hear!"] I am not aware that the cries of "No, no" in answer to my statement have proceeded from Nonconformists; and with regard to those hon. Gentlemen whoso cheers denote them to be of an opposite opinion, I am vain enough to say for myself that I believe I am acquainted with the opinions and feelings of the Nonconformists rather better than they are. But as regards this declaration of war with what are called political Nonconformists—that is to say, with the main body of Nonconformists, I am very sorry it has been made. But however that may be, I venture to express the hope, nay, I will even venture to express the confidence, that we shall not in any future Session hear any more of the objectionable clauses. It appears to me, in fact, that the right hon. Gentleman, in promising to call the attention of the House to the subject in another Session of Parliament, was prompted by 631 Ministerial exigencies and by the state of relations in the Cabinet far more than by any well-weighed and well-considered anticipation of what is likely to arise in future years. If that be so, I think upon the whole the Nonconformists of this country—and not the Non-conformists only, but those who attach a corresponding value to the principles of a mature and stable legislation—have some reason to congratulate themselves upon the present situation. The charge of factious opposition thrown out by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Greene), and the warning which the right hon. Gentleman on a previous occasion gave with respect to the events which would follow the failure of this Bill to pass, through want of time, receive a most interesting illustration from the declarations that have to-day been made, and we may now very briefly survey the actual situation of affairs with regard to the Endowed Schools Bill. The legislation of the country is to remain the same, but those by whom that legislation has boon faithfully applied, are to be made the solo victims of the ill-feeling which has been created, and are alone to represent the fulfilment of the promises which were held out in other days to excited partizans. It recalls to my mind the superstitions of the ancients. When a great host attempted the invasion of an enemy's country, and was beset by storms, and baffled by adverse winds, the practice was to erect an altar and to put the knife to the throat of the victim—Sanguine placâstis ventos et virgine cæsâ, Quum primum Iliacas, Danai, venistis ad oras; Sanguine quiærendi reditus, animâque litandum Argolicâ.The Commissioners of Endowed Schools are, on this occasion, those who have been called upon to submit to the sacrificial knife; and these three Gentlemen—most guilty in the opinion of some who have spoken and whom perhaps they have offended; but most innocent, most meritorious, and most patriotic in the judgment of others—are to give up their official existence as an atonement and reconciliation for others, and the great mass of the Nonconformist interests throughout the country are, I rejoice to say, to enjoy an absolute immunity from danger, the only price that is paid for it being the official life of Lord 632 Lyttelton and his Colleagues. In saying that, I am very sorry for what the right hon. Gentleman calls "the policy of Her Majesty's Government." The policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the endowed schools of the country has received this most striking, this most triumphant attestation—that three Gentlemen who, as the noble Lord says, are our Friends, are to be displaced from their office in order that three Gentlemen who are his Friends may be put into office, in order to prosecute with bated hopes and weakened forces, the difficult duties imposed on them by the country. I beg to move the adjournment of the House.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that one element had been overlooked that bad a powerful effect in deciding the late Parliament to terminate promptly what might be now called the late Endowed Schools Commission, and it was this: Those Commissioners, in correspondence which it was in his power to produce, declared that no matter how well con-ducted schools might be which were designed for the labouring and the poorer classes, they should, under certain conditions, laid down by themselves, be taken away from the education of those classes, and applied to that of the middle and better classes; and it was in order to put an end to that policy that it was proposed to terminate the powers of the Commissioners. He looked upon it as a policy of confiscation of the property of the labouring classes, with the ultimate view of rating and taking them, and he therefore wished to express the confidence he felt that the transfer to the Charity Commissioners of the powers of the Endowed Schools Commission would insure for these communities of the labouring and poorer people, a security against the class legislation which disgraced the policy of the latter Commissioners.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
, referring to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, desired to call particular attention to the promise which that statement contained—that the dropped clauses of the Bill now before the House should be re-introduced next year as a substantive 633 measure. ["Hear, hear!"] He welcomed that cheer, and claimed the fulfilment of that promise. No doubt, there would be hot times for the Government when the Bill was brought forward next year; but, for his own part, he did not see the use of a General Election and the so-called political re-action all over the country, if the only result of that re-action were to be that hon. Gentlemen should cross the floor of the House to carry out measures which they had been denouncing while they sat on the front Opposition Benches. For his own part, he did not fear to press the Government, for, as everybody who was acquainted with him must know, he had at least been an independent Member. While he had honestly supported Conservative politics, he had never surrendered his own independence; and he had always kept his eyes open to the fact that he thereby struck his name off the list of those who were in competition for the good things which fell to the lot of more assiduous and more devoted partizans. When the change of parties occurred, he trusted and believed that safe and sound legislation might take the place of rather empiric and hasty theorizing, which was the vice that tainted the otherwise extremely clever and original system of government of that very able Administration, some of whose Members sat on the other side of the House. Now, what was the real nature of the complaint against the Endowed Schools Act? It was, not that it laid the axe to the root of corruptions, nor that it did not open the schools to the entire community. That never was his objection to the Endowed Schools Act, and he had never regarded the abolition of the Commission as the principal object of the Bill now under consideration. Friendship and affection compelled him to say that he never gave a vote which was so painful to him as that which seemed to deal a blow against his life-long and honoured Friend Lord Lyttelton. However, he gave the vote, not against Lord Lyttelton, but against the Commission. A cardinal principle of safe and sound legislation on this subject was, that wherever they could prove that for a long period back there was a fixity of religious teaching in some form or other, that fixity of religious teaching should not be interfered with. By all means, let a Conscience Clause be 634 conceded; but behind that there remained the recognition by the State of the fixity of the religious teaching. He looked forward to those clauses to give an intelligible and definite recognition of that principle, and therefore, speaking in the name of many persons outside the House, he claimed the fulfilment of the promise of the Government to reintroduce them next year; for if they did not keep that promise, they would be throwing aside the principles which had brought them to that side of the House, and be adopting a policy of shifting expediency.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he thought the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) had been rather hard upon Her Majesty's Government, when he attacked the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government for saying that he did not intend to proceed any further this Session with those clauses of the Bill which he did not understand. In his (Mr. Childers') opinion, nothing could have been more conclusive than such a reason when given by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman had coupled his statement with a very important and detailed statement as to the remaining Business of the House; and while he (Mr. Childers) was listening to the right hon. Gentleman, it occurred to him to see what were the promises contained in Her Majesty's Speech at the beginning of the Session, and to compare the promises with their fulfilment. In the Royal Speech six measures were promised. First of all, there was to be a Bill, or rather a series of Bills, connected with the transfer of land in England and dealing with real property. Those measures had been abandoned. Next, there was promised a rearrangement of the system of judicature, which, having been effected for England last Session, was to be extended to Ireland. Well, that measure had also been abandoned. The third measure—the proposed Judicature Bill for Scotland—had also been abandoned. The fourth measure promised in the Speech from the Throne, was the appointment of a Royal Commission to deal with questions affecting the relations between master and servant, and the House was informed that the appointment of that Commission would be followed by legislation during the pre- 635 sent Session. That legislation had not been abandoned, simply because it had not been introduced. Next, a Bill was promised on the subject of friendly and provident societies; but that Bill had been abandoned. Lastly, there was promised a Bill dealing with the Acts relating to the sale of intoxicating liquors. If hon. Members remembered the statements made by the Home Secretary in his opening speech, and compared them with what the Bill had ended in, they would be able to judge for themselves how much had been done in the way of amending the laws relating to the sale of intoxicating liquors. Out of the six measures, therefore, proposed in Her Majesty's Speech, five had been abandoned, and the sixth had been passed in a very small degree. It was true that in the course of the Session, the Government adopted a new measure, not referred to in the Speech, and the House had just learnt from the right hon. Gentleman how much was to be left of that. So the promised legislation of the year resulted in half-an-hour more every night being allowed for drinking in London, the dismissal of three public servants who were appointed by the late Government, and the appointment of three others by the present Government.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had not gone through the whole of the measures promised in the Speech from the Throne, inasmuch as he had omitted all reference to the Church Patronage (Scotland) Bill, to which hon. Members from the other side of the Tweed attached great importance. If some of the measures promised at the opening of the Session had not been proceeded with, the cause was not very far to seek. At the commencement of the Session, the Government did not anticipate the prolonged ecclesiastical debates, and which had not yet been concluded, upon the Bill, introduced by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder of London. Was the Government responsible for the great delay which those debates had necessarily caused? Did the right hon. Gentleman think the Government would have been justified in not affording any facilities for the discussion of that important measure? Then, again, could the Government and the House have been prepared for the excessive vehe- 636 mence of the debates which occurred on the Endowed Schools Bill? Could any human being have supposed that the transfer of the powers of the existing Commission, which expired that year, to a more permanent body, could have given rise to such prolonged and animated debates, which had thrown the Parliamentary machine out of gear? Those were considerations which could not have escaped the House, and he was certain that an impartial country, when it came to consider the work of the Session, would not forget that if the list of measures was not so long as had been promised in the Queen's Speech, some portion of the blame must, in justice, be laid on the shoulders of the right hon. Gentleman who sat opposite.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that when the noble Lord the Postmaster General attributed the non-fulfilment of the programme of the Queen's Speech to the length of the ecclesiastical debates, it must be remembered that the Church Patronage Bill occupied only two nights, and the Public Worship Regulation Bill two more nights. That could not, in his (Mr. Forster's) opinion, be any satisfactory explanation as to the barrenness of the Session. With regard to the Endowed Schools Bill, if he, and his Colleagues, or the Government had made that endeavour to understand the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government said he had at last been obliged to give, they would not have been surprised, but rather would have expected lengthy debates; and if they had attempted to comprehend the principles involved in the amending part of the Bill, they either must have been ignorant of the feelings of a large proportion of the House, or they must have expected great opposition. Two or three days ago he asked the Prime Minister when the names of the new Commissioners could be given, and the right hon. Gentleman said it was difficult to make the appointments. He did not wonder at the difficulty; but when the Act of 1869 was passed, the Government was repeatedly and justly pressed for the names of the Commissioners, and they were given before the Bill left the House. He trusted that in this instance, the names would be given by the time the Bill reached the stage of the Report. As the Bill was reduced to one for ap- 637 pointing new Commissioners in the place of those appointed by the late Government, the House would see that the request was not unreasonable.
§ MR. CHARLES LEWIS
said, that as neither the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hermon), nor the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder had risen, he should not be justified in allowing the speech of the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) to pass unnoticed. From what had been said, it appeared that the Prime Minister was supposed to be pledged to re-introduce next Session clauses similar to Clauses 4, 5, and 6. For himself, he did not so understand the Prime Minister to give any such definite pledge; and he would say, further, nothing would contribute so much to the mortification and surprise of many hon. Members on that side of the House, as to find that the Prime Minister considered himself to be under that pledge. He did not last night venture to rise, until he found it was absolutely necessary that some of those who felt strongly on this subject should let the Government know the feeling which prevailed among many of their supporters. He felt bound to say for himself and others that they recognized the courtesy, consideration and fairness with which the Government had treated them in this matter. The strength of a chain was no greater than its weakest link, and some of those who sat next him, with whom he associated himself, happened to be the weak links in the Government chain on this subject; and it was considered rather a strain upon their party fidelity, to expect them to go into the Lobby in support of a clause which was said to be inexplicable. The Government might well have supposed, having regard to the majority they had on the 1st clause, that they might rely upon the same majority to help them in passing the rest of the Bill. Recalling the circumstances of the long agitation on the subject of Church rates, however anxious he might be to support the Government, he was not prepared to join in what he believed would be the initiation of another sectarian agitation in the country, which might lead to the injury of the Church, and must assuredly prejudicially affect the interests of the Government and of the party to which he belonged. Many of 638 them objected to the interpretation put upon the Prime Minister's speech by the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge. What they understood the right hon. Gentleman to say was, that the Government reserved the right of reviewing their intentions upon this matter next Session. He hoped the further consideration of the matter would not end in their placing such a strain upon the fidelity of many of their followers as would be put upon it by the revival of these clauses.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, he rose for a practical object. An important measure had been introduced—the India Councils Bill—with regard to which he had given Notice of Motion. He would like to know when that Bill would be proceeded with, as it had not been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. Then, they were promised that the Indian Budget would be brought forward earlier this year. At present, it seemed as though it would be much later than in any former year. He asked when they might expect it to be introduced?
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, it was quite customary, at that period of the Session, whatever Government was in office, for the occupants of the front Opposition bench to show that the programme of the Government had not been carried out. It had been, no doubt, a great mistake on the part of the Government to promise so much. It must not be supposed that the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) were not shared by others. There was regret and disappointment among many supporters of the Government, at the statement which had just been made in reference to the Endowed Schools Bill; and there was a large body outside the House whose views were not easily heard, and whose passions were not easily excited, which felt very strongly on this question. The subject had been under discussion in the House and by its Committees for six years. A Committee sat in 1869 and another in 1873, and on both Committees the policy of the abandoned clauses was supported by the Conservative Members. Therefore, that was no idiosyncrasy of a few Members of the Conservative party. It was the true Conservative policy, which was adopted and 639 recommended by the Conservative Members of those two Committees. It was under the leadership and guidance of the present Secretary for War that those Amendments were proposed, in the Committee of last year, which he considered to be carried out in the clauses which were unfortunately withdrawn. He was sorry the Prime Minister was unable to understand these clauses. He had a great respect for the acknowledged ability of the right hon. Gentleman, and could not help thinking that, if he could not understand the clauses, at any rate his Colleagues could have instructed him as to the meaning of them. These clauses were not the mere echo of the policy of an extreme section of the Conservative party; they were the deliberate expression of the views of the Conservative Members of the Endowed Schools Committee of last year, which, as he understood, the Conservative party when in power would naturally introduce into a Bill. He knew that at that period of the Session, it was not easy to proceed with such legislation; but he trusted the Government would not respond to the appeal of the hon. Member on his right (Mr. C. Lewis), who did not adequately represent the feelings of Conservatives on the question. He trusted they would not hear of any intention to respond to that appeal, nor be told that the Government were going to back out of that Conservative policy so strongly recommended by the Conservative Members of the late Parliament.
§ MR. WATKIN WILLIAMS
asked, whether the Government intended to bring in a Bill that Session to postpone the operation of the Judicature Act beyond Michaelmas next?
MR. HUBBARD (London)
said, as there was no subject on which the feelings of his constituents at the last General Election were more interested than the treatment of endowed schools, he asked permission to say a few words. He had taken great pains to compare the Acts of 1869 and 1873 and the present Bill. He should be most unwilling to transfer the working of these Acts to a new body, or to leave them in the hands of the old body, with nothing but the two former Acts to guide them. There ought to be no ambiguity in such a measure as that, and yet last night's discussion on the 4th clause of 640 the present Bill raised in his mind serious apprehensions whether those who had taken the largest part in the administration of the two previous Acts had really acted in accordance with the real intentions of the English people and of English legislation on the subject. His right hon. Friend the late Vice President of the Council had asked—evidently expecting a reply in the negative—"Supposing in the case of a pre-Reformation school, that the children were required to attend Mass, should we be justified in saying that the children in that school ought to attend the services of the Church of England?" No man had stipulated more than his right hon. Friend had done for the maintenance of the religious element in education, and he begged his attention in considering the question. Now, assuming that the founders of schools in pre-Reformation times did intend the religious element to pervade the whole of their system of education, was it possible for the intention to be more definitely expressed, than in the stipulation "that the children should attend the services of the Church?" That intention might have been expressed in the phrase "going to Mass." Attending Divine service was the strongest expression which could be given to the intention of the founder, that the children in his school were to receive a religious education. How would his right hon. Friend deal with a foundation of that kind? Would his right hon. Friend demur to the assumption that the Church of England had been one from the commencement? It knew no human founder, and it derived its descent from the founder of the Christian religion. How could his right hon. Friend maintain the religious element in the school under consideration, except by taking the ground that the Church of England now was the natural representative of the Church of England previous to the Reformation? If he did not take that ground he must either secularize the school, or find another representative of the pre-Reformation Church. But the whole feeling of the English people was against secularization; and at least up to 1870, it was held that education without religion was no education at all. Well, if the Church of England was not allowed to be the representative of the pro-Reformation Church, where would 641 the representative be found? Would his right hon. Friend affirm that the Roman Catholic Church was the heir of the pre-Reformation Church? That he thought was a very fair question to put to his right hon. Friend. If he assented to that proposal he neutralized the work of the Reformation, and utterly destroyed the safeguards of all those liberties we enjoyed by virtue of that Reformation; safeguards which touched every branch of the State, for the Sovereign must not only not be a member of the Church of Rome, but must be a member of the Church of England. Well, then, if the right hon. Gentleman did not accept the Church of Rome, would he name the Society of Friends, or the Society of Baptists as the representative and heir of the pre-Reformation Church? Which was it to be? He did not care to retain the clauses which had been objected to; but he could not tolerate the idea that in the treatment of this great question, Her Majesty's Ministers should swerve from that basis of our legislation, which was accepted by nine-tenths of the people of England—namely, perfect freedom of religious teaching, and a religious basis for the education of the country.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, many Members on the Opposition side of the House would concur with the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), in the hope that Her Majesty's Government would raise the question again next year. If the question was thoroughly discussed, the inevitable result would be to apply to our endowed schools the principles which had been already applied to the Universities, and to sweep away once and for all the restrictions imposed by the Act of 1869.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
, replying to the question put by the hon. Member for Denbigh (Mr. Watkin Williams), said the non-prosecution during the present Session of the Bill for the Amendment of the Judicature Act would render it essential to postpone for another 12 months the coming into operation of the Act of last year. It was intended to introduce a Bill for that purpose.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
wished to know whether the new Rules would be laid upon the Table this Session?
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, if the hon. and learned Member would place his Question on the Paper, he would endeavour to answer it tomorrow.
said, he wished, before the discussion closed, to make reference to another important Bill which had now disappeared below the horizon, and to make a suggestion to Her Majesty's Government respecting it. He alluded to the Irish Judicature Bill. If the House had gone into Committee on the Bill, it would have done so with very imperfect information before it; but he thought they had a claim to be placed in as good a position as the House was as regarded the system of English jurisprudence. In 1867 a Royal Commission, upon which several distinguished persons sat, together with members of the legal profession, was appointed to consider the judicial system of England, but that had as yet been very imperfectly done as regarded Ireland. It was true that an exclusively legal Commission was appointed in 1862, to examine and report on the procedure and fees of the Superior Courts of Ireland, both of Common Law and Chancery. But that Commission was defective in two respects. In the first place, the general public were not represented on it, and in the second, the difficulties of obtaining meetings of the Commission were so great, that a year after its appointment, the quorum necessary for the transaction of business was obliged to be reduced from six to three; and in the end, one of the most distinguished of its members, Sir Joseph Napier, made a separate Report of his own. Now, he knew that if the discussion of the Judicature Bill had gone on, facts would have been made known to the House of a very startling kind, showing the extraordinary inflation of the whole judicial establishments in Ireland; and as a sort of summary of the whole thing, he would now only say that it was conclusively shown that the 19 or 20 Superior Judges in Ireland discharged only one-fourth or one-fifth of the business transacted by 27 Superior Judges in England. One of the most acute and independent Judges in Ireland had drawn attention to these matters, in a series of powerful writings; and it was impossible that his statements and inferences could be ignored in any 643 future legislation. He suggested, therefore, that a Royal Commission should be appointed, upon which the lay element of the public should be represented, to inquire into the system of Irish Judicature from the highest to the lowest branch, and that no Bill should be introduced, until the country had been placed in possession of all the facts that could be elicited. For his own part, he had not the honour of belonging to the legal profession, and he did not speak for its members; but he did speak for a very large part of the general public, and of the middle classes of Ireland, who were thoroughly-ashamed of the multiplication of judicial offices, and were determined that if they could help it, Ireland should be no longer subject to the reproach, that she looked to her connection with England only as a means of obtaining Government patronage and the filling up of offices both great and small. The judicature system of Ireland was to the last degree unsatisfactory, and oppressive to the public and the suitor; but if it was to be reformed, it was necessary that the subject should be thoroughly discussed, and that the second reading of an important Bill of the kind should not be unexpectedly obtained at 1 o'clock in the morning. Such a mode of conducting business was not respectful to Ireland or to England either. Nay, it was not decent or even constitutional, and he, for one, protested against it.
§ MR. FORSYTH
said, that hon. Members on the Opposition benches were always so much in unity amongst themselves—they never quarrelled, nor had any differences of opinion, oh, no!—that they were greatly surprised that the hon. Members for Cambridge University and for West Kent should be strongly opposed to the hon. Member for Londonderry. He was not going into those differences, nor would he say with which opinions he agreed—it would be time enough next year. He did not at all understand the Prime Minister to have pledged himself to bring in the identical clauses which were now withdrawn, either as regarded letter or substance. The right hon. Gentleman had taken a most judicious course in withdrawing them, especially as he had said he did not find it easy to understand them. In that he (Mr. Forsyth) agreed with him. He had taken great pains to understand the 644 Bill in connection with the previous Act, and was bound to say he had found it no easy task. The whole mode of drafting amending Bills was so objectionable, and led to such confusion and difficulties, that he intended early next Session to bring the subject before the House with a view to some improvement.
§ MR. ANDERSON
wondered how long Government was going to continue introducing new Bills that Session. Within the last two days hon. Members would have received two new Bills, one of which appeared to be the first step in overturning the Army legislation of last Parliament, just the same as the Endowed Schools Bill did the legislation passed by the late Government in respect to endowed schools. The other Bill, called the Great Seals Bill, was one the only purpose of which was apparently to abolish certain offices, and give unnamed and unlimited compensation to the officers, and to appoint other people in their places with unnamed and unlimited salaries. He appealed to the Government to withdraw these Bills, as they had been introduced at a period of the Session when the country could not possibly make itself thoroughly acquainted with their proposals.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT
regretted that the Government had withdrawn the amending clauses of the Endowed Schools Bill. If they were obscure, the Government and the Law Officers of the Crown were to blame in not clearing them up. It was admitted that Clause 19 of the Act of 1869 was so obscure that the Commissioners had been in great difficulty as to how they ought to act. He attached less importance to the personnel of the Commission than to the principles which it was to be be their duty to apply, and if those principles were not to be explained, he would regret his vote for the change of the Commission more than any other he had given in his life.
said, that without bringing any complaint against the present Commissioners, he thought the vote against them had been necessary, as a protest against certain sentiments that had been uttered. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), for example, had spoken of the rejection of the Commissioners as a step that would be fatal to the permanence of constitutional go-vernment 645 in this country; and the right hon. Member for Greenwich had called upon Parliament to do all it could to strengthen the hands of bodies like the Endowed Schools Commissioners, whoso duty it was to defend the public interest against the selfish interest of particular localities—as if the management of the local affairs of the country ought to be left in the hands of a few central authorities. He knew the fondness of hon. Gentlemen opposite for Commissions, and he believed that if they were asked to define their ideas of Paradise, they would say it was a place inhabited by Commissioners, who were engaged in inspecting one another. Commissions and Commissioners, however, did not seem to him to form an integral part of the British Constitution.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.