HC Deb 15 June 1874 vol 219 cc1636-54

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee).

(1.) £1,130,852, to complete the sum for Public Education, England and Wales.


, in rising to explain the details of the Education Vote, said, that before he troubled the Committee with a statement on the subject, he wished to remind hon. Members that two Governments might be said to be responsible for the Estimates he had to lay before the Committee. The chief responsibility lay with the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but the present Education Department were quite prepared to take a full share of the burden. The total Vote he had to propose for the coming year was slightly in excess of that of the year before, and perhaps the Committee would be surprised when he said it was £57,249 in excess of the previous Vote; but the increase was, in reality, larger, because in last years' Estimates £75,310 were charged for building grants and organizing districts which would disappear from the Estimate for this year. There was, therefore, a total increase of grants for day scholars amounting to £118,246 over the grants for the preceding year, it being understood that they had calculated for an increase of 164,000 in the number of children in the schools as compared with the previous year. Another cause for the increase in the Vote was found in the addition of five Inspectors, and he warned the House that a largo increase under that head might be expected in the future. His own impression on the subject of inspection was, that if they were to have Inspectors at all, the Inspectors should be able not merely to go through the dry work of examining the children, but should have sufficient time to form opinions as to the complete working of the schools, and at the same time to advise the teachers and encourage the children. It was important further, that there should be no lowering of the intellectual character of the gentlemen to be employed as examiners. He felt sure that the Committee would not grudge the necessary expenditure, for it was impossible not to see that there must be a rapid increase in the number of schools receiving Parliamentary Grants, many of such schools being voluntary schools which had not up to the present time employed certificated teachers. He rejoiced to see that as an evidence of greater intellectual activity in the country, and of a general awakening to the advantage offered by superior schools in every part of the country. Having said thus much as to the mere money Vote, he next wished to make a few remarks as to the educa- tional condition of the country. In the first place, the supply of school accommodation had been very satisfactory. In 1869 the number of inspected schools claiming Government Grants gave accommodation for 1,760,000 scholars; in 1873 the number had increased to 2,580,000, of which 125,000 were supplied by school boards. The prospect of the completion of the whole school supply of the country was also satisfactory. First, notices of existing school deficiencies had been issued with but few exceptions, and about half of the deficiencies pointed out had been voluntarily supplied. Final notices stating that failure to supply deficiencies would be followed by the compulsory formation of school boards had been sent to about three-fourths of the country, and the remaining fourth would be forwarded by the end of the year, so that the prospect was, that before six months of 1875 had expired, schools for the whole country would have been erected, or their erection would be in progress. That, he ventured to think, was a very great result to have been attained within four years of the passing of the Education Act. For attaining that result, great credit was due to the officials of the Education Department, without whose hearty and cordial co-operation it would have been impossible for him to recite this immense tale of deeds done. When the schools to which he had referred had been completed, there would in public elementary schools receiving grants be accommodation for 2,500,000 children; in schools not receiving' grants, but passed as efficient, there would be accommodation for 1,000,000 children; and in board schools there would be accommodation for other 500,000 children, making in all accommodation for 4,000,000 children. Of the schools affording accommodation for 1,000,000 children which had been passed as efficient, they might hope that a good number would speedily come under Government control, because some of them which were passed as efficient two or three years ago, would have ceased to continue efficient, and others which were passed into the efficient class at the early stage, might not in strictness have deserved to be so classed. Therefore, this accommodation for 1,000,000 children would be, as it were, scrambled for by the voluntary schools, the Government, and the school boards. The next point of interest was as to the school boards. London as was known, was already under a school board. With regard to the remainder of the country, 104 boroughs, representing a population of about 5,500,000, out of 224 boroughs, with a population of 6,531,892, were under school boards. There were also under school boards 717 civil parishes with a population of 2,000,000, out of 14,072, with a population of 12,913,387. The net result of this was that, including London, 10,494,507 of the population were under school boards against 12,217,759 who were not in the same position; but it seemed probable that by the middle of next year or later—according to the compulsory action of the Education Department—about half of the population would be under boards. The next point was as to the teachers, and that he regarded as being equal in importance to any part of the work. The calculation was, that 25,000 head teachers would be required for the instruction of 4,000,000 children, and in that direction, satisfactory progress had been made so far. In 1869 there were 12,800 pupil-teachers, and in last year 25,000; in 1869 there were 1,200 assistant teachers against 1,500 last year; and of certificated teachers, there were 12,000 in 1869 against 16,700 last year. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER asked if these figures referred only to England and Wales?] They did. He believed the Colleges could supply other 1,500 per annum. The question, then, was how to supply the difference between 16,700 and the 25,000 who would be required as soon as the 4,000,000 children had been got into the schools. Last Christmas, 2,500 additional certificated teachers were added; certificates were being granted to older teachers on the Inspectors' Re-ports; and for the small schools, there were pupil-teachers who had completed their apprenticeship, but could not be received into the Colleges. Looking, then, at the great differences between the accommodation for the 4,000,000 children and the number actually in the schools, there was, he thought, no reason to be disheartened as to a due supply of good managing teachers. That subject, however, he would assure the House would receive the careful attention of the Lord President and himself, and he would add that nothing could be more important than that there should be not only an adequate, but a first-rate supply of teachers. There now remained the question how many children were actually in the schools. The Education Department only knew with accuracy the number in the inspected schools, in which there were 2,218,598 on the books and 1,847,216 present at the inspection. Now, as to the attendance. Of the 800,000 infants, 400,000 had not attended half-a-year—namely, the 250 times necessary to get the grant. Of the 1,400,000 children between 7 and 13, 500,000 had not attended half-a-year, or the 250 attendances necessary for the grant. Thus, out of 2,200,000 on the books, 900,000 had not attended even for half-a-year. If the attendance was so bad in the inspected schools, what was it likely to be in the non-inspected schools? He feared there must be still greater irregularity in the great mass of the children who made up the 4,000,000. This irregular attendance of the children was the most important fact in the educational survey of the country, and it explained the poor results that were obtained from our immense expenditure on the children. What was wanted was both early and regular attendance. He attached great value especially to early attendance, and it was exceedingly important that the children should begin to attend school at an earlier period—at three years old, if possible. If children could be started early in life with a stock of intelligence, more would be done for education than by keeping them at school until a very late period. He therefore appealed to the friends of education to do all they could to abate the terrible evil of non-attendance in schools. He could not hesitate to express his opinion that compulsion had worked well hitherto in the places where it had been tried. In London it had brought 36,000 more children to the schools; in Hull, 3,500; in Sunderland, 3,800; in Leeds, 8,400. These were great and startling results. Whatever their prepossessions might have been, the children were now in the schools, and there was reason to believe that they would not have been there but for compulsion. That was not the only direction in which compulsion had been enacted by the Legislature. If they looked to mines, factories, workshops, and the Agricultural Children's Act, it would be found that we were drifting into a law that no children should go to work under 10 years of age. He would express no opinion as to whether that was right or wrong, but it was what the country was coming to, and it was matter for grave consideration whether, by special legislation, Parliament could not simplify our educational position so as to adopt one uniform age below which no child should be employed. With regard to night schools, it was impossible to notice without concern the falling-off in the attendance. It was 64,000 in 1869, while in 1873 it had dropped to 46,000; and no doubt, the provision that they must be conducted by certificated or trained teachers was a great obstacle to their increase. He had a strong opinion in favour of night schools as an agency well suited to the present educational emergency, and when they were first opened a large number of lads between 14 and 18 swarmed to them. The matter was not very easy to handle. His Predecessor had stipulated for a larger number of attendances, and that the schools should keep open an increased number of nights. It had come before him as an open question, whether the Education Department should not pay by results, and without asking questions as to the teachers who imparted instructions. "Without giving any opinion on this point, he would say that he regarded night schools as a most valuable agency not only for neglected children, but as enabling those who had left school to keep up the little learning they might have been able to acquire in their early school days. It was most disappointing to find that children of 13, 14, and 15 years of age who had left school for three years had frequently forgotten almost all they had learnt. It was the more important that they should have an opportunity by means of night schools, of picking it up afterwards; otherwise the money previously expended seemed to be utterly wasted. This matter, likewise, was receiving the most earnest consideration of the Lord President and himself. There were two Acts of Parliament which they would also watch with great interest. One which was daily coming more and more into force—the Agricultural Children's Act might require amendment; but those who sat on that (the Ministerial) side of the House might feel a just pride in recollecting that two hon. Members on that side were the first to give legislative effect to the proposal to render education compulsory in the agricultural districts. Those provisions might, perhaps, create some difficulty and disturbance in the labour market, but he believed they would ultimately be productive of essential good. The other Act to which he referred was that affecting the out-door pauper children; and with regard to that, he must ask the leave of the House to say a few words having reference to a recent debate, in which a variety of opinions were expressed upon the Order in Council that had been issued by the Department with regard to the standard for these children. Since that discussion, two or three points had arisen. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Forster) had challenged him upon the subject, and had said that the Department had by that Order in Council put itself into opposition with all the school boards of the country, because the order applied alike to the children who were and those who were not under school boards. But the Order in Council only referred to that part of the population who were not under the bye-laws, and in considering the matter, it must be remembered that about 9,500,000 of the population were under school boards and compulsory penal laws, while the rest were not. The right hon. Gentleman told him that if he had consulted the Law Officers of the Crown they would have told him he was wrong. He had done so, and they had assured him that both he and the right hon. Gentleman himself were right in the Order in Council issued by the right hon. Gentleman, the wording of which he had followed. The Committee must not suppose that it was a great Government policy that had been reversed by the present Education Department. It had only been framed a month before the Dissolution. The late Government were doubtless engaged with more serious matters, and he understood that the late Lord President had not seen the Order in Council which the right hon. Gentleman had adopted. His Minute fixing Standard V. for outdoor pauper children would have kept them at school until they were 13. If last Session it had been put to the House whether it was prepared to for- bid pauper children of this age to work, but, on the other hand, to keep them at school until they were 13, he did not believe either the House or the country would have sanctioned such a proposal for one moment. It went against the whole course of previous legislation, which had been to work up gradually in this matter, and it was also against the very letter of the Act, which implied that the highest standard would not be fixed at once. Upon the point, he begged leave to say it was from no pressure he had been induced to take the step he did. He believed it was essential that they should work upon pauper children from below, not from above. To take children who were earning wages altogether away from their work would create grievances all over the country which would endanger the operation of the Act. When it was remembered that the Act affected principally the agricultural districts and small towns, and for the first time, it would be admitted that to brandish before the people at the outset cases of great hardship all over the country would be most injudicious. He would give an example. He found a parent with three children. For one child she received relief; the two others earned 7s. 6d. a week. What was the course pursued in that case? The Guardians gave 5s. a-week instead of 7s. 6d.; and what did the 2s. 6d. represent? It represented the rent of the house and of the allotment. Cases of that kind occuring in a district would go far to disgust the people with the operation of compulsion under the Act, and tend to push back the whole tide of education. He wished it to be clearly understood that in his view, that action was dictated by an earnest and sincere desire to prevent the breaking down of a new system, and not by any temporary alarm caused by the representations made to him. His own opinion, and he believed that of the Government, was, as to the different treatment of education by school boards or by voluntary parties, that nothing could be more healthy than a generous competition between the two different modes of action. They accepted the new system fully and frankly. They accepted it in the spirit of his right hon. Friend. They were determined that the new system should supplement the former system—that new schools should be built; but they were also determined that existing schools should not be supplanted by any unfair agency. They watched the system not with jealousy, but with pride. They had a right to take pride in the system, because the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford had admitted that it was very doubtful if the great measure of 1870 could have been passed without the assistance of those who now sat on the Ministerial side of the House. There were some things in that measure which they disliked exceedingly, and he would not say that in their opinion it required no alterations. Time alone would show. They wanted experience. They must watch it with the greatest care; but so long as it existed it would be his duty, acting with the Lord President of the Council, to administer it with perfect fairness—to ask no questions ecclesiastical or political, as to school boards, but to accept them as the legitimate representatives of the people who had elected them. What they wanted was an instructed, an educated nation, and with that view, they wished to give the children of the labouring classes in those schools, the very best education which the most enlightened members of the artizan and operative class would desire for their children. He hoped that they would divest themselves in this matter of religious professions both on one side and the other, for he could not help sometimes fancying that the great mass of the working population watched them with eager gaze while they were quarrelling and struggling about the education of their children, and he could not but express his earnest conviction that that Church and that religious body which showed most entirely an impartial spirit—not that which showed the most grasping desire to draw people by means of the national funds into its fold, but the Church which thought least of itself and most of the children to be educated—would be that which would ultimately win the suffrages of a God-fearing population. The noble Lord concluded by moving for a sum to complete the vote of £1,356,852 for elementary education for Great Britain.


thought it was impossible for anyone to have heard the speech of his noble Friend without feeling that the cause of education was safe in his hands. He wished to know whether the time had not arrived when the system of compulsory education might be gradually and discreetly introduced into many towns and parishes not yet having school boards? The late Vice President of the Council admitted that the absence of that power was a blot in the Bill of 1870, because a district having provided the means of education was not to have the same power of compelling attendance as a district which had not provided sufficient means of education; and the only power given under the Bill was to apply to the Council for a school board. He thought the best system of compulsion would be a full, but gradual adoption of the principle of the educational clauses of the Factory Act and other kindred Acts, requiring that children should pass certain Standards before they were admitted to work of any description, unless they had arrived at the age of 13 years; but there would always be some children for whom no Standard could be fixed. He also thought means should be given for children in elementary schools proceeding to a higher standard of education than the elementary system itself afforded. He believed that could be done with great effect without adding to the expense incurred by the nation, and children of exceptional ability might thus, by means of exhibitions and scholarships, raise themselves to high office either in Church or State. There was an illusion in the public mind that school board schools were superior to denominational schools. That was certainly not so at present, and not likely ever to be the fact, and all experience showed that we had no right to rely on such persons as those of whom the school boards were composed for the display of any exceptional ability in the management of education. As to the cost of the school board schools, it appeared that already the Loan Commissioners had been authorized to lend something like £3,000,000 to the boards for the purposes of the instruction of 260,000 children, while during a similar period—the last four years—the Education Department had advanced only £250,000 to voluntary schools for the accommodation of 225,000 children, the result being that for every pound advanced in the one case £10 were required in the other. He would, therefore, ask the Government to grant no favour to one class of schools as compared with the other, while they took care that both were kept in the highest state of efficiency.


said, besides the question of training schools, which he thought were worthy of the notice of the Department, as not having received all the aid he (Mr. Wheelhouse) thought they required to ensure their efficiency, there were two classes of children for whom no provision was made by the Education Act—blind children and deaf-mute children—who, as their parents contributed like other ratepayers to the school board rates, ought not to be excluded from the advantages of education merely because it had pleased the Almighty to afflict them with those infirmities. He could not understand the fairness or the reason for that deprivation, and he should never cease to advocate their claims until they were, as in every other European country, recognized by the State as being entitled to competent assistance for their instruction.


said, he was glad to find from the Report of the Department, and also from the speech of the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council, that the voluntary schools of the country were to continue to have that perfect fair play to which in justice, he maintained, they were entitled. The fact had been often stated, but it was one which could not be too often repeated, that if there was anything more certain than another in connection with the Act of 1870, it was that the school board system was established to supplement and not to supersede the existing schools. It was a constant subject of complaint that rates should be raised only upon one description of property, and he thought that circumstance afforded an additional reason for discouraging the establishment of schools created and supported by rates. There were several points he wished to impress upon the noble Lord. He regretted to see the sanction of the Education Department too often given to a scale of fees in the case of school board schools so low as to handicap seriously other schools side by side with them. Again, the sanction of loans was, he thought, given by the Department sometimes without due consideration, and he felt it his duty last year to call attention to a celebrated case of this kind. "While loans to the amount of £3,000,000, raised on the secu- rity of the rates, had been required to gather into the schools 260,000 new scholars, a sum of £252,000 contributed by the State to the voluntary schools, and aided by £1,000,000 voluntary subscriptions, had brought in 225,000 new children. There was another small grievance—small only, because it was not of frequent occurrence, though it pressed hardly enough in cases where it did occur. He referred to cases of repeated application for the establishment of a school board in the same district where it had been refused over and over again. In a parish in his own county where it had been deliberately decided that no school board should be established, that decision had been appealed against over and over again. At present the law permitted a poll to be taken every 12 months. That was an injustice to the ratepayers, and to the managers of the existing voluntary schools. No school could work well whose very existence was annually threatened, and he submitted that once the question had been decided by a poll, persons should not be permitted to raise it again for three years. Then again he suggested whether his noble Friend could not provide some remedy for the grievance of persons being called upon to pay twice over for the maintenance of schools—by subscription to support one school and by rate to support another. A parish in which a school board existed had to pay twice over,—first for the voluntary school, and then for the board school; but he held that those who supported the voluntary schools deserved to have their consciences respected quite as much as other people. An option should be given, in districts where both systems existed, to a man to select the school to which he should pay. These were a few of the objections which he and those who agreed with him took to the working of the present Act. All they asked was that a fair chance of life should be given to voluntary schools—a chance to which they had entitled themselves by the exertions they had made in the cause of education in years past. He trusted that his noble Friend would look into these things a little more closely, and that by next year some of the injustices complained of would be remedied.


hoped that the noble Lord would be careful not to be led by the remarks of his hon. Friend the Member for Leicestershire to interfere overmuch with the power of school boards. The case referred to by his hon. Friend was a very difficult one, and much might perhaps have been said on both sides; but he was quite prepared to justify the action of the Department with reference to it. That case, however, ought to afford some satisfaction to the noble Lord, because it was the only one in which complaint was persistently urged against the conduct of a school board while he (Mr. Forster) was in office. His hon. Friend was anxious to restrict the supply of school accommodation, and said the Department had committed a mistake in that respect; but for his own part he (Mr. Forster) had never admitted that there had been any mistake in the matter, and thought that the course which the Department took with regard to the supply of accommodation was the right one. He quite admitted that it was one of the duties of the Department to watch the proceedings of the school boards; and as to the fixing of school fees, he thought that it was desirable that the Department should satisfy itself that a school board was right in the fees which it proposed, and also as to the accommodation that they had provided; but he must repeat what he had often stated, that it was necessary to watch strictly any proposal to dispute the actions of school boards. It should be so for this reason, that if they were to elect representatives upon school boards, then, such representatives should be allowed certain power and judgment, or the whole thing would be a mockery. He would now turn to the eloquent speech of his noble Friend—a speech which he had heard with great pleasure. He was glad to hear that his noble Friend proposed to be liberal with regard to the number of Inspectors, and, indeed, it was the conclusion to which he himself came when he was in office. He was also delighted to see that his noble Friend was determined to set to work to see that the school demand should be fully met, and he had full confidence that he would succeed in his obnoxious task of establishing boards in districts where there was an undoubted deficiency. But the greater part of the noble Lord's remarks had reference to the most important part of the subject—to the fact that although we had got the schools we had not succeeded so well in getting the children into them. He was anxious to re-assure the noble Lord upon the point. There had been a considerable increase, and the prophecy which he ventured to make when in the noble Lord's place last year had been fulfilled. The average attendance had got up to 1,500,000, and he anticipated that the next year it would be even greater. The noble Lord, however, was evidently convinced that the great evil to be contended with was the want of attendance on the part of the children, and in that view, he (Mr. Forster) was glad to hear that the compulsory powers had been beneficially exercised. In Leeds, for instance, they had succeeded in bringing nearly all the children within the range of the school board. They could hardly have shown their effect before August last year, and he thought it would be found that the effect would be more apparent every day. It was becoming more and more evident that the great evil we had to contend with was the want of attendance, and that that evil was being remedied, as compulsion was vigorously but at the same time carefully and prudently applied. The evil on the one side and the success on the other showed that the great task now in hand was to consider how we could extend the means of getting children to school over the whole country. He was aware of the difficulty of that task, and care must be taken not to overdo it, so as to create a feeling against the means in the minds of the population. He was much delighted with one fact which had been evident year after year since the Act was passed, and that was that the public mind throughout the country was more prepared for compulsion than had at first been anticipated. It must be acknowledged that its success had been shown, and that the example might be held out to those parts of the country where compulsion had not yet been applied. One word with regard to the matter in which he differed from his noble Friend, and that was the Order in Council with respect to pauper children. While he was glad to find that the fear he had that the Order in Council with regard to the pauper children would interfere with the regulations of the school boards turned out to be without foundation, he could not retract any statement that he had made about the policy of the Order. He thought it was a mistake, and he much regretted it. He was aware that it was necessary to work the Act with care, but still the object of the Act was to secure education for pauper children. Sending pauper children away from school back to home, without any hope of further progress, when they had merely reached the Third Standard, was really no education. The poor children, therefore, who came under the operation of the Order this year would be in some measure sacrificed to his noble Friend's fear of raising public opinion against the working of the Act. He hoped that his noble Friend would see the necessity of making a great effort to convince the school boards and other authorities connected with education throughout the country that the Third Standard was not high enough, and that he would take the earliest opportunity of raising it.


thought that any attempts to go into the higher systems of education with these poor children would be a lamentable failure. He had heard of a gentleman who was examining a school with reference to the oxidizing of metals, and he asked one of the biggest boys what would happen to a plough if it was left in the rain. The boy said it would be "oxhided," and yet not one of the children knew what rust was. In his opinion, if they wanted to do anything with higher education, they ought to begin at the beginning, or they would not get on. He wished to draw the attention of the noble Lord to the wording of the Education Amendment Act, and the Agricultural Children's Act, which did not work harmoniously. By the first, children were required to be at school from the age of 5 to 13, whereas by the second, they went at 8 and left at 11 years of age. Now, it must be remembered that to deprive parents absolutely and at once of the earnings of their children would create great dissatisfaction throughout the country and make them discontented with the Education Act, and that was an evil to be carefully guarded against. It would increase the pauperism of the idle pauper, and his child would not see why he was not always to be maintained at the expense of the ratepayers. His noble, Friend, however, said, and he (Colonel Barttelot) thought he was right, that no boy ought to work until he was 10 years old. But then it was a question whether all ought not to be allowed to work at that age, provided they could pass in a Standard which ought not to be fixed too high, and Sunday and night schools ought to do the rest of their education. He (Colonel Barttelot) wished to know whether his noble Friend intended that children 3 years old should be bound to walk three miles to school? Two miles was the limit for agricultural children. He thought that two miles, or rather one should be the limit for the young children of whom he spoke. The girls in school were not employed half as much as they ought to be in that most important branch of education for them—namely, needlework, and for which a premium ought to be given. Under the Order of Council, in 1873, there was no provision bow certificates of exemption were to be obtained, and he hoped the noble Lord would give the House some information on that point.


said, the extra subjects to which the last speaker referred were only History and Geography—subjects of which every child ought to know something. Was it not important that the children educated in schools supported by the State should be taught the History of England and the geography of their native land? He suggested that in the case of the younger children the examination on extra subjects should be conducted vivâ voce and not in writing, because the latter method distracted the children. He called attention to the fact that the annual Report was only in the hands of hon. Members on Saturday, and it was consequently most inconvenient to discuss the subject that evening.


said, from personal knowledge, he knew the Education Acts had brought children to school who could not have been brought by any other agency. He wished to direct the noble Lord's attention to a matter that required to be remedied. The child of a pauper was allowed to go to work if he passed an examination in the Third Standard; but the child of an independent parent was not allowed to go to work unless he passed an examination in Standard IV. Provision was made that after examination, the pauper child might obtain a certificate and be set to work, but no such provision was made with respect to an independent labourer's child; and it appeared to him that that was a good opportunity for calling the attention of the country to the state of the question, with a view to preparations being made for the examination next year, in order to enable children to make such an advance as would qualify them to be sent out to work.


said, having on a previous occasion foreseen the difficulty in which he apprehended they would be landed, he could not help observing now that it was not from the Act of last year, but from the inconvenience of the Minute that had been passed by the new Government, on their accession to office, lowering the Standard at which the children of out-door paupers must leave school, that the existing difficulty arose. In agricultural districts, children could not be set to work until they had attained a certain age, or passed the Fourth Standard, whilst, under the new Minute, Boards of Guardians had no power to send pauper children to school after they had passed the Third Standard; he hoped that the House would not accept the solution which the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex had suggested.


felt much indebted to the House for the very friendly and cordial way in which his statement had been received. With regard to the challenge that had been thrown out to him by the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Colonel Barttelot) he agreed there was this theoretical difficulty—that a pauper child must be let out after it should have passed the Third Standard; but it could not go to work until it had either passed the Fourth Standard, or made a certain number of attendances at school. Let them see what out-door pauper children would be affected. Only 120 pauper children out of 730,000 who were examined passed in the two higher Standards, and 117 passed Standard IV. What he said was, that the only children affected by this question of the Standard were the children above 10 years of age, and the strong presumption was that no outdoor pauper child could psss even the Third Standard without having attended school for 15 weeks or 150 times in the previous year. With regard to the apprehension of hon. Gentlemen that difficulties might arise, the Government had the power of at any moment passing a Minute under the Agricultural Children's Act which would exempt the out-door pauper children from the peculiar difficulties under which they laboured. Various other matters of interest had been raised during the discussion. The hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheel-house) had urged that something still further should he done for the training schools. He might state, in reply, that full attention should he given to the subject. The question of the scale of fees was one which the Department had a right to watch, and the necessity for which was shown by the fact that a certain school board proposed to adopt a fee all round of a farthing—a proposal which hardly came within the true intention of the Act. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Birley) suggested that the Department should give "exhibitions" to enable poor children to pass from the lower to the higher schools. He approved of the course being taken, and he might state that he had already given £400 a-year for exhibitions to encourage children in that direction. Personally, he should be glad, as far as the means at the disposal of the Department allowed, to give every encouragement by exhibitions to poor children of great merit passing from lower to higher schools, particularly when the system was started by the voluntary efforts of the locality. In accordance with the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex the Government would do their best to make the Agricultural Children's Act work quietly and satisfactorily; but he could not hold out any hope of lowering the Standard. He admitted the importance of the special training of girls, to which their attention had been directed, and might mention that Baroness Burdett Courts, who took a deep interest in it, had drawn up an elaborate code, but he could not say whether the Department would be able to adopt it. With regard to the complaint of the hon. Baronet the Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) he had hoped to have been complimented on the early production of the Report, as, until last year, it had not been issued until after the debate; but arrangements were being made by which it would he produced still earlier in future years. He also hoped the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse) would excuse him giving any definite answer at present in reference to the education of the deaf and dumb and blind, and he begged to acknowledge the handsome way in which he had been met by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Forster).

Vote agreed to.

(2.) £232,170, to complete the sum for the Science and Art Department.


urged the postponement of the Vote on the ground that it was £15,667 more than last year. The Museum at South Kensington was a pretty exhibition; but he thought the country would be surprised at its total cost, as revealed by Returns just issued, which they ought to be allowed more time to consider. As he could not move to postpone the Vote until the promised Returns had been considered, he should move to withdraw it altogether, unless a satisfactory explanation was given.


said, he was not surprised at the hon. Member for Swansea exhibiting some jealousy on the subject of this Vote, but the truth was, it merely exhibited the interest which the public took in the institution. The figures had been before the country for three months.


explained that the increase was clue, not to the expenditure at South Kensington, but to the increasing number of scholars who received instruction in Science and Art all over the country.

Vote agreed to.

(3.) £178,057, to complete the sum for Public Education, Scotland.

(4.) £4,845, to complete the sum for Boards of Education, Scotland.

(5.) £3,476, to complete the sum for Queen's Colleges, Ireland.