§ (In the Committee.)
§ (1.) £1,040,563, to complete the sum for Public Education, England and Wales.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
, in rising to move the Vote for Public Education in England and Wales, said, he was afraid he should have to trouble the Committee with a few dull figures in explanation of the objects for which the sum was required. In the first place, there was a total increase of £206,000 in the Estimate; but the Estimate was larger than it appeared, for £14,000 had been struck out as the reduction, compared with last year, in the building grants and the organization of districts. The building grants were gradually falling off, and the organization of districts was somewhat rapidly coming to a close. There was, then, an increase of £206,000 for the future, and he knew well, from the feeling of the House of Commons on the great question of education, that they would not grudge that increase. It was chiefly caused by the increase of annual grants, which amounted to £191,700; another cause of increase being the raising of 822 the salaries in the Privy Council Office, at which, he thought, every hon. Member who was acquainted with the Office would rejoice. Some of that increase was due merely to annual increment, while some of it also, he was happy to say, was due to the view which the Treasury took of the duties which were performed by those gentlemen in the Office to whose exertions the country owed so much. A further portion of the increase in the Vote was due to the augmentation of the staff of Inspectors, and to that the Committee would not, he thought, object; for that augmentation meant a considerable increase in the benefits which the schools derived from the services of the gentlemen who were engaged in the work. The more thorough the inspection was, and the more time the Inspectors had to bestow upon it, the better would it be; so that the item of increase to which he was referring was one which he was sure the country would not grudge. He came, in the next place, to the general increase, and that brought him to the number of children to be provided for. The number he calculated to be in the schools where parents paid under 9d. a-week was 4,500,000 in the gross. The average attendance he desired to see was about 3,250,000. That was the starting point, and he would rapidly run over what had been done with regard to the apparatus of teaching. Since the year 1839, when these Votes were first granted, a very large sum had been spent on school buildings, dividing that sum between two contributories—namely, the generous donors of the country and the State. The voluntary contributions for the purpose since 1839 amounted to £4,500,000, and the State had given to meet those contributions £1,700,000. Last year—that was to say, up to the end of the school year in August, 1873—there was accommodation in the schools receiving annual grants for 2,500,000 children, and in August, 1874, for, in round numbers, 2,800,000, being an increase of 300,000. In August next he expected there would be school accommodation in the public elementary schools for 3,100,000. Those figures, he thought, showed that a vast amount of work had been done; and when he added that, in the inspected schools, there had been provided 1,000,000 fresh seats since 1870, the Committee would no doubt agree with 823 him that that was a result in the education of the country of which they might well be proud. But the Committee must take into account, besides, the number of non-inspected schools, many of them good of their kind, scattered throughout the country, without Government aid, but having been shown by examination to be giving an efficient education. Then there were all the private adventure schools, as to which he would not enter into any controversy on that occasion. He would, however, observe that the whole of them must not be condemned. Some, no doubt, were bad, and some exceedingly bad and grossly unhealthy; but, having had an interview with some gentlemen who were connected with country school boards, he had come to the conclusion that a great number of those schools were sufficiently good and that some were very good, so that several of them might be placed to the credit account in the calculation of the accommodation which we possessed. He wished to say in passing that, in his opinion, any Government would be very rash which should too hastily shut the door against private adventure schools, which, he thought, to a certain extent, formed a safety-value for compulsion, working its way with considerable difficulty among fanciful parents, parents with sickly children, and others. Although, then, he should be glad to see private adventure schools gradually supplanted by thoroughly efficient schools, he must state it as his deliberate opinion that, in the interests of education, it was necessary that great caution should be observed in dealing with those schools. Having now dealt with the first branch of the apparatus for teaching, school buildings, he came to the teachers, and he was happy to say there was a great increase in the staff. In 1873 there were 16,800 teachers, and in 1874 18,700, being an increase of 1,900. This year he was glad to think the increase would be still more rapid. Then, when he came to look to the supply from below to make up for the waste which was constantly occurring, he found that the pupil-teachers were increasing most rapidly, for while in 1873 their number was only 24,000, it reached, in 1874, to 27,000. To say the truth, the number of pupil-teachers now coming on was so great that it would be necessary to put some little restriction on it, or we should have too 824 great a crop of teachers as time went on. The number which it was expected would be required was 30,000, and with the training colleges at present in existence, and which were very much up to the mark, the waste which was occurring could easily be supplied. Of still greater importance was the quality of the teachers. It was impossible not to feel some anxiety with regard to pupil-teachers. He heard it said right and left that they had hitter to been somewhat neglected, and he wished to see lads and girls of a superior kind entering the profession. It would be a great advantage, in his opinion, that there should be a large admixture of the lower middle classes in the teaching strength of the country. How that object was to be attained it was difficult to say; but it appeared to him to be, at all events, well worthy of consideration. So far as the Government were concerned, they had taken a step in the direction of a more thorough training of pupil-teachers, by offering a pecuniary inducement to the masters to thoroughly instruct them. The Government had given them asters a grant on the passing of the pupil-teachers under their care. As regarded the teachers the accounts were, he thought, generally speaking, very encouraging. The country had every reason, he believed, to be proud of the army of teachers which it now possessed. They were, it seemed to him, throwing themselves into their work with a zeal which was beyond all praise, while every year was increasing the stock of knowledge which they brought to bear on the education of the children. A very careful watch, however, must be kept on our teachers. They were the key of our whole system, and it became more important every year, when we saw the spread of school board schools, that they should be well looked after, because, as he had said some months ago at a meeting of the London School Board, the great danger of school board schools was, that they might be left entirely in the charge of the master and mistress. He thought, therefore the Committee would agree with him that, unless there was some supervision over them aster, there would be something wanting in the conduct of those schools which was supplied in the case of voluntary schools, which were carefully watched over by those who had spent money on them, 825 and had, perhaps, a keen religious interest in them. The character of the teachers became more and more important every year from them ore natural course of events with regard to the school board schools, whereby the teachers must be more and more them asters of the situation in those schools. A third and most important branch of the apparatus of national education was inspection. He was happy to say they had been able to add very largely to their inspecting strength this year. The Treasury had allowed them to add 15 fresh Inspectors in England and 12 Inspectors' Assistants. It was impossible to overrate the importance of having an adequate inspecting staff. They had done what they could to lay down the principle that, if possible, the inspectors should make a second visit in the year to the schools. He knew that was impossible in some eases; but he attached exceeding value to it where it could be done. He thought the first visit should be a mere formal inspection, and the second a visit of encouragement and friendly intercourse with the teachers. He now came to the scholars they had in their schools; for all their educational apparatus was worth very little if they did not get scholars to take advantage of it. In that respect they had much ground for encouragement. The number of children on the books in 1873 was 2,200,000; in 1874 it was 2,500,000, and they might reasonably expect an increase for the coming year of about 300,000. So that the number on the books was rising with great rapidity, and he thought they would not be far wrong in calculating upon having an annual increment of about 300,000 for some time to come. Next, there was the question of the average attendance of children. That was fairly encouraging, but not quite so good as he should like it to be. In 1873 the average attendance was 1,500,000; and in 1874 it was 1,700,000, showing an increase of 200,000. Since 1870 they had increased the average attendance by 500,000. When they used those large figures they almost forget what they meant; but he thought the addition of 500,000 children, or a number about equal to the whole population of his constituency (Liverpool), to the average school attendance in England and Wales was a great feat of which the country might well be proud. With 826 regard to night schools, he knew that he and his right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster) did not so thoroughly agree as they did on some other points. In 1873, the number in night schools was 45,000; in 1874, it was 48,000; and he rejoiced to look forward to a very great increase of night scholars this year from certain changes which they had made in their Code. Notwithstanding the view taken by his right hon. Friend, he must repeat that in the present condition of education in England, he attached great importance to night schools. A great number of children must slip through their hands for reasons which their philanthropic friends might not admit to be valid—for instance, because they were nursing the baby or attending a sick parent. But those children might be caught by the night schools, in which they might receive a lift that they had missed. Therefore, he looked on the night schools as an admirable supplement to the day schools, at any rate in the present state of education. As to what the children learnt at the schools, they could not speak of any great improvement at present in regard to the Standard attained. But, so far as he saw, the improvement was steady and gradual, and the Department would do everything it possibly could to encourage and accelerate it. The Committee must not be discouraged by the exceedingly small number who passed the higher Standards. During the last 10 years very great endeavours had been made to bring the older children and those who had previously been neglected into the schools. Great trouble had been taken in that way both before the passing of the Act and after it, and if they looked at that great influx of the untrained older children into the schools, they might easily understand that its effect must have been to increase the difficulty of the teachers and pull down the Standard. The fact was, they had been in a state of transition, while their schools were flooded by classes of children who had been neglected in past years. All that made the numbers passing in the higher Standards seem small in proportion to the average attendance. He would now give a comparison of the numbers on the books and the average attendance during the four years before and the four years after the passing of the Education Act of 1870. 827 During the four years ending August 31, 1870, the number of children on the books increased 31.1 per cent. or in number 401,569—namely, froml,291,490 to 1,693,059. In the following four years—that was to August 31, 1874, the number on the books had risen to 2,497,602, being an increase of 804,643, or 47.5 per cent. That was a very interesting fact, as it showed that the last four years had done a great deal more than the natural work in adding to the school register. Next, as to the average attendance from 1867 to 1870, it increased from 867,420 to 1,152,389, or 33.4 per cent; while in the four years from 1871 to 1874 it rose to 1,678,589, or 562,200, or 45.5 per cent. which was again a very satisfactory increase. The regular attendance of infants—a very important matter—had increased during those last four years 69 per cent. Then the voluntary contributions within the last four years from the passing of the Act of 1870 had also increased 43 per cent. while within the same period the Government Grant had likewise increased 79 per cent. The Committee was aware that since the year 1870 1,000,000 seats had been provided, and of that number he found that the voluntary schools had provided 750,000, and the school boards 250,000, which showed that there was considerable vitality on the part of those who were working for the voluntary schools, and also that some of the alarm that was expressed was not called for. With regard to the present condition of final notices—notices issued by the Department that there was a deficiency of school accommodation, and that unless it was supplied an order for the election of a school board would be issued—one-third of these had been met by voluntary effort. With reference to another third, the time limited by the notice had not expired; and for the remainder school boards had been ordered by the Department. Those, the n, were the general facts, and almost all the figures, with which he need trouble the Committee. They were of some interest and importance, and also full of encouragement. He would add a few words on one or two other topics. And, first, as to the position of the Department with respect to school boards. He had always felt it incumbent on him—and it was the course which the Government had thought it right to adopt—to support the school 828 boards honestly and straightforwardly when they were doing their duty. When a school board was established, he regarded it as representing the deliberate opinion of the locality. When that deliberate opinion was once expressed, it was the duty of the Department to give the school boards no grudging support in their difficult task. But he held that it was not the duty of the Department to interfere with them, unless on points where the Act of Parliament had clearly laid on the Department the duty of interfering. It was not the right of the Department to interfere with the wishes of the school boards as to the building of large and ample schools. That was an affair for the school boards and for the ratepayers. Then, as to the salaries of the teachers, there was no power in the hands of the Department to interfere, and he declined to interfere. As to the compulsory by-laws, they had to be sanctioned by the Department, but thereafter the Department had no power of interfering with the working of them. It would be foolish for the Department to lecture the boards on matters on which it had no right to interfere, and it was a matter of the greatest possible importance that the Government should not get into the habit of meddling with the local authorities, except where it was their positive duty to interfere. There were certain matters, no doubt, in which it was bound by Act of Parliament to express a judgment. The question of sites came up when a school board asked the Department to authorize a loan for the purchase of a site, and in the Act of 1873 there were very stringent provisions by which the Department was required to satisfy itself that the sites were really needed. It was in duty bound to exercise a judgment upon the matter, and not to allow sites to be bought in localities where there was no school deficiency. With regard also to annual grants, he held the Department was bound to exercise a distinct judgment. It would, of course, be wrong to make grants to schools which were not wanted in the locality. The subject of transfers was becoming, perhaps daily, of more importance, and he was anxious to explain the position he took in the matter. If a school board had an offer from an existing school of the lease for a year or more of a building such as suited the 829 requirements of the board, a refusal of that offer ought not to be allowed. As the Committee was aware, a school could not be transferred to a school board for any money consideration. It must be transferred for a mere nominal sum. If, therefore, a school board had the opportunity of obtaining in that way, even for a short term, a building which would enable it to meet the wants of the locality, he, for one, thought the Department would not be justified in allowing it to use the ratepayers' money in building a new school. On another point—that of fees—he held a strong opinion. He quite acknowledged that the localities themselves were very good judges, to a certain degree, as to what the fees ought to be, and if he looked at the matter from the point of view of the supporters of the voluntary schools, he would say—"Let the school boards open all their schools at mere nominal fees," for the effect of that would be that the voluntary schools would have the pick of the artizan class, who would not send their children to schools where they would associate with the poorest and lowest children. But, as he understood, Parliament had decided that it would not have a system of free schools. The matter had been discussed at very great length, and that was the determination which had been come to. He held, therefore, that the Department was bound after what had passed, and by the Act of Parliament itself, not to consent to mere nominal fees in the board schools. It had laid down the general rule that the fees should be calculated according to the circumstances of the people in the particular locality. In one case an absolutely free school had been sanctioned, because the people were in absolute want. In other cases there were penny fees, and so on, always following the rule he had mentioned, that they should be adopted to the actual wants of the particular locality. In this course he had no doubt the Department would have the support of the Committee. He had now done with the details which he had to lay before them, and would come back for a moment to a very old them e. It was his strong and increasing conviction that what they ought to study chiefly was to secure early and regular attendance of the children. He ventured to say the Government had dome something in this direction, The first condition 830 of getting children to school was that their should be thoroughly good schools. He had been very much struck by the following observation of the Bishop of Manchester:—Give me a thoroughly good school, and I want no compulsion, for in my long experience as an Inspector of Schools I have never known a good school empty.Government had taken, and were taking, very great pains to secure that first great necessity. Before long the country would be able to say that it had sufficient schools everywhere, and what was more, that it had good teachers everywhere. He ventured, moreover, to say that it had at present a good system of teaching. Under the present Code they had taken a great step in advance. They had secured that the children who went to these schools should find, not a dull mechanical system of teaching, but such a system as would awaken their intelligence and interest them in their work. The object had been to give freedom to the teachers, so as to leave them unhampered in their efforts to make their teaching interesting, and also to secure, as far as possible, that all the children should be examined—to secure, in other words, what the right hon. Gentleman them ember for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) had struggled for so long—namely, that the teaching should not be confined to the pick of the children in the school, but that all of them should have the greatest possible advantage. He had always thought that full justice had not been done to the right hon. Gentleman for the changes he introduced many years ago with a view to improvement in that direction. The right hon. Gentleman had to fight with an unsound state of things. At the time to which he referred there was a tendency to push forward the clever children and make them ornaments of the school, while the others were more or less left in the shade. The right hon. Gentleman, at a great expenditure of his popularity, reversed that system, and he (Viscount Sandon), for one, would be sorry to depart from the policy then introduced. Indeed, he held that Government had gone still further in the same direction by endeavouring, as far as possible, to get all the children to come up for examination. Referring to the Code, he would add, on the part of the Government, that they hoped to keep it as free from change as 831 possible for some time to come. Of course, he could not say tow long he would be connected with the Education Department; but whether they had hit upon exactly the best scheme of education or not, he thought it very desirable that the Code should remain as it was, for, at all events, a few years to come. It was important that the masters should feel that there was some fixity, and should know what they had to work up to. They would have to work up to it gradually, and meanwhile the Inspectors would be instructed to be very cautious in dealing with the new system. There were of course matters in the Code not relating immediately to teaching, as to which he did not mean to lay down any distinct line. Another point might be mentioned in connection with the effort to secure thoroughly good schools. Certain small endowments—those not amounting to £100 a-year—could be dealt with by the Department, and it was their earnest desire that such endowments should be used as exhibitions for the primary schools. He was very strongly in favour of the system of exhibitions. He wanted every man to feel that if he had a child of superior talent, character, and application, that child would have a means of getting from the bottom of the tree to the top; and as far as Government were concerned, they meant to encourage exhibitions as much as they could. He would also take credit to the Department for what it had done to place an elementary instruction in science and art within the reach of children to whom it would be especially useful. Another subject he must advert to. Of course, he watched with very great interest the two competing systems of getting children to school which were how in operation, and which he ventured to say were on their trial. Both direct compulsion and indirect compulsion were now in full work in the country, and what verdict would hereafter be pronounced upon the experiments that were going on they could not venture to predict. It was impossible to shut one's eyes to the confusion which at present existed in connection with the means of securing attendance at school. He sometimes thought there was the maximum of inconvenience with the minimum of result. They had to observe the provisions of different Acts relating to agriculture, workshops, mines, &c. Moreover, there 832 were different systems of work in contiguous districts—compulsion in one place and no compulsion in the other. The labour market consequently was in a rather difficult position. He hoped that before long a satisfactory solution of the difficulty would be found. At the same time, he thought that the present symptoms of the public mind taught them that very great caution and consideration were needed in any further action. He had now touched upon nearly every subject with which it was necessary to trouble the Committee, and he would only say that so far they had fortunately carried with them the confidence of the working classes. There had been popular elections since the passing of the Education Act which had gone in favour of education, although he was also bound to say that popular elections had gone strongly in favour of a decidedly religious education. In dealing with the working classes, it must be remembered that they had their fancies, prejudices, and wishes, as to their children, just as hon. Members had, and great caution was necessary in dealing with those prejudices. The Legislature should interfere as little as possible with the homes and general habits of the people. England had grown up to her present state of greatness—not under Government supervision and regulation—but from the strong individuality of her people, and the inveterate love of freedom inherent in the breast of every Englishman. And much as they might wish to see their efforts brought to a healthy termination as soon as possible, they would find that time would not be wasted by their being cautious and gradual in their proceedings. By so doing they would draw to them the hearty feeling of the independent English race, instead of alienating them and turning them—not into allies—but into doubtful friends, and possibly even into foes. The noble Lord concluded by moving the Vote.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he wished to congratulate the noble Lord on the statement he had been able to make. It could not be denied that a good deal of progress had been made in the education of the people. He was happy to find that the consent of the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been obtained to the appointment of several additional Inspectors, for he did not think the work 833 could have been done without such additional aid. These schools, however, did not absolutely rely upon Government inspection, as their were, especially in London, committees of ladies and others who devoted themselves to the details of education. He did not grudge the noble Lord the money which his Colleagues had given him for night schools, unless, indeed, the result were that he or the Department should go upon the supposition that night schools would supply the place of day schools. That they did not, and never would; and it would be fatal to the cause of education to rely upon the evening schools to supply the place of day schools. He was rather sorry to hear the remarks of the noble Lord with reference to the action of the Department as regarded its power over the school boards in the matter of the provision of accommodation. He thought the Central Department might more properly confine its attention to seeing that the school boards performed their duty, rather than interfering with and checking them in doing so. Then as to annual grants, his noble Friend had said that the Department had used the discretion vested in them of refusing such grants where they believed they were not required. The 19th section of the Act, however, provided that the refusal should be based on a special report, and that fact in itself showed that only a strong case could at all justify a refusal. The noble Lord, taking stock of our position, thought we had got, or were sure to have, good schools in regard to buildings throughout the kingdom, as well as good teachers. Good teachers meant good teaching, and there was reason for congratulation that the demand for these had been so well supplied, and that we were not likely to experience any difficulty in that matter. He was glad to have the opportunity of repeating his thanks to the noble Lord and the Duke of Richmond for the improvement they had effected in teaching by their Code. But then came a point which was not so bright or pleasant—namely, that good schools and good teaching were rendered almost useless by want of attendance. In sweeping the country over they had got many children to attend occasionally, but not regularly. They ought not to be discouraged, however, by that fact. The children were very poor; their 834 parents did not care for their education, and to get them to attend at all was in itself a good thing. They must not, however, stop their. The money of the ratepayers would be uselessly expended if that were the only result they attained. It was a compulsory law which had given good results as regarded the provision of school accommodation, and nothing but compulsion, he believed, could secure satisfactory attendance. He believed that if the noble Lord would take courage from the experiments that had already been made with reference to compulsion, and make it a general law throughout the kingdom, he would find that his difficulties would greatly diminish. Putting aside special cases, he would find the greatest difference in his favour from the mere fact of its being declared that throughout this country it was a legal obligation on every parent that his child should be taught, and that if he could not do it himself there was an obligation on the State to do it for him, supplying the money that was necessary for the purpose. The noble Lord said he had watched and compared the effect of direct and indirect compulsion in the towns and in the country. With regard to the country, the fact was that, generally speaking, the compulsion there was no compulsion at all; it was not to be compared with even indirect compulsion in the towns. But he believed that in the rural districts generally, an overwhelming majority of the parents and of the community would be found to be in favour of the same compulsion their as we had in the towns. Some of the employers might take a different view; but what we had to consult was the interests of the children and the wishes of the parents. The Government and the country had provided an educational machinery so perfect that it was now only necessary to secure the attendance of the children to enable England to challenge comparison in the matter of education with any other civilized nation.
§ MR. HEYGATE
, having expressed regret that the Report of the Education Department for the past year had only within the last two days been placed in the hands of hon. Members, proceeded to explain his general satisfaction with the interesting nature and fulness of the document. It showed a great increase in the schools, in the attendance, in the 835 number of children on the register, and in the number of voluntary schools; but he regretted that some of the grievances of which sincere friends of education complained were still unredressed. The chief of these was to be found in the fact that in many places persons who had done their duty in the matter of providing voluntary schools were called upon to pay rates for the support of schools conducted on a principle which they could not approve. A solution for this difficulty had been found in Canada, by giving ratepayers power to allocate their rates, and he hoped it would not long remain unsolved in this country, because until this was done a sense of injustice must linger in the minds of those who so liberally supported voluntary schools. In the original Bill, the draft of which was preferred by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), assistance out of the rates was promised to voluntary schools, and in withdrawing that proposal the then Prime Minister offered, as a substitute, to increase the proportion which the Government grants bore to the amount raised under the voluntary system from one-third to one-half. But that promise had never been realized. In 1870, the Government grant amounted to £528,000, and the voluntary contributions to £1,527,000. In 1874, the Government grant amounted to £861,000, and the voluntary payments to £2,398,000, or nearly the same proportion as before the Act. The substitution of the 50 per cent of expenditure had been incapable of realization. It might be said that the reason of this was that the schools were indifferent; but if they were bad schools they could not pass muster, and, in fact, they were better than board schools on an average, as they earned nearly 2s. per child more. Thus, though the grant had increased, the expenditure had increased almost as much as the grant. Why had the expenditure increased? Because the price of everything that could be purchased had increased to a very considerable extent, and also owing to the undue competition to which voluntary schools had been exposed. It was said, "Nothing could be more healthy than a generous competition;" but how was that possible, between a school that could draw upon the pockets of the ratepayers and one that must depend on the subscription of individuals, who, 836 moreover, had to pay their share of the rates, and thus paid twice over for education? It was also due in some measure to the extravagance which had been displayed by school boards. Then as to the question of salaries—these had risen much within the last five years. In 1870, the average salary of trained schoolmasters was rather more than £95, and of trained schoolmistresses rather upwards of £57; whereas in 1874 these salaries had risen to £107 and £64 respectively. One of the objectionable characteristics of school boards was that they were inclined to subject ratepayers to the expense of building board schools even in districts which had already efficient and sufficient voluntary schools. There could be nothing more indefensible than the proposal which the London School Board made with reference to the Fitzroy Market district in Marylebone. Although that district had school accommodation for 5,092 children, and the largest number of children who could possibly attend school was 5,280, the London School Board proposed that a new school to accommodate upwards of 5,000 children should be built in the district. If that could be done by a school board, people would be very chary as to the adoption of the school-board system. One expected that in London affairs would be managed with more intelligence than in the country; but if such a proposal as that with regard to the Fitzroy district were carried out, what absurdity and injustice might not be perpetrated with reference to this subject among poor people in the country? He hoped the proposal he referred to would not be adopted. It had been adjourned, he believed, for six months; but it had been adjourned only by a majority of one or two, which showed how very nearly such a proposal had approached adoption. Then as to the rating of schools; this was formerly unimportant, as schools hitter to had little commercial value, but now that they had palaces for schools it was becoming a serious question. Again, the high rate for maintenance had increased very rapidly. There were 89 school-board districts in which a rate of 6d. had been reached, and he found that there were 61 per cent of all school board schools bearing a rate of 3d. in the pound and over. It amounted, in fact, to an additional poor rate in many 837 parishes. The Government grant had increased considerably; but that was because greater exertions had been made, because new schools had been founded, and because schools not inspected before were inspected now. The results obtained showed that vast efforts had been made by those who supported the voluntary schools. He acknowledged that gratefully; but in answer to a circular sent out by the National Society, it appeared that in 108 out of 326 schools in school board districts subscriptions had largely declined in consequence of the action of school boards. It appeared that 364 schools, besides private schools, had already been transferred to school boards. This showed there was a very strong case for some relief in the direction he had intimated. He thought the Education Department ought to show more discretion than it did with reference to its sanction of the placing of school board schools in immediate proximity to existing schools. The answer of the noble Duke who presided over the Education Department to the complaints that had been made to him as to the action of school boards—namely, that the ratepayers had this remedy against school boards: they could turn them out—was a mere delusion. It was too late to turn out a school board after it had spent the ratepayers' money, and pledged the rates for many years. He trusted that it would be taken into consideration whether it could not be provided that applications for a school board in a district should not take place more than once in every three years instead of every year. If they were to be asked every year whether they would have a school board surely they should also be at liberty every year to say whether they would get rid of a school board. In other words, power should be given to dissolve school boards as well as to adopt them. He disliked the school board system in comparison with voluntary schools, because under the voluntary school system there was better security for religious instruction. There was, indeed, a certain system of religious instruction under school boards; but the Return as to religious education in school board schools recently presented told a melancholy tale, and proved it was not such a system as was satisfactory in a Christian country. That 838 the Bible should simply be read for five or ten minutes without note or comment was not to his mind very satisfactory, and in no less than 42 schools no religious instruction whatever was given. Well might the Earl of Shaftesbury say the other day that he "looked with dismay on the lukewarm way in which religion was treated in the board schools, and that he believed the best and wisest of the Nonconformists shared that feeling." Another argument in favour of voluntary schools was the comparatively small cost of their building in the first instance. In London the cost of site and building for a considerable number of voluntary schools was £7 17s. 2d. per child in cases where the sites were purchased, and in cases where the sites were given the cost was £6 0s. 5d. per child; whereas the cost of board schools was as much as £15 7s. 2d. per child. Again, the average cost of the maintenance of a child in a voluntary school was 30s. 6d., as against 35s.4d. in board schools. For these reasons it could not be surprising that he and others who desired to see religious instruction encouraged hoped the greatest assistance would be given to maintain a system which had proved so valuable. Its only weak point was the want of the power of compulsion. If we could get the country prepared for universal compulsion, it would be a great advantage to schools of all descriptions. He saw no hardship in compelling children to go into the voluntary schools, because the Conscience Clause prevented every objection on the ground of religion. If we could get public opinion in favour of compulsion established by Boards of Guardians or in any way other than by the school boards, he, for one, should feel satisfied with the results. In the meantime the Government was right in watching the course of events, and he thought his noble Friend was wise in not rushing too hastily to a conclusion which might only rouse a feeling of opposition in the country. He thanked the House for the attention with which they had received those observations.
§ MR. PEASE
said, he had listened with attention to the long statement of the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House, and he must say that he could not agree with the hon. Gentleman in his statements in reference to the board schools as compared with the 839 schools on the voluntary principle. He (Mr. Pease) was informed that the school boards had in most places been of the greatest possible assistance to voluntary schools. The school board schools also in almost all cases were taking care of the religious education of the country. Why were voluntary schools turned over to the school boards, but that the persons interested were satisfied with the education in all respects afforded in those schools. In school board schools religious instruction was as good as in most other schools, and exactly the same, with but one exception—that was that catechisms and dogmas were not taught. The hon. Gentleman had said that the voluntary schools were not getting as much money as they had a right to expect; but he (Mr. Pease) did not think there was any just ground of complaint in that respect. What the country wanted was that which the right hon. Gentleman them ember for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had indicated and expressed a wish for—namely, compulsory attendance at the schools. The people in the North of England were thoroughly prepared for universal compulsion, and working men there were of opinion that all should be compelled to make the same sacrifices. A system of compulsion would not only fill the schools, but it would add to the money received in the schools; it would raise the standard of education, and more money would cause the employment of masters instead of pupil-teachers. There could be no doubt that the noble Lord or his successor must make up his mind to compulsory education. The statement of the noble Lord was in all respects a very satisfactory one, and he felt great pleasure in saying he should give it his support.
§ MR. SALT
thanked the noble Lord for having placed in the hands of members before this discussion the most valuable and interesting Report of the Education Department. It should be remembered that the sum voted by Parliament for elementary education was only a very small proportion of the amount which the country was called upon to apply to that purpose. Besides these Votes, there were the sums contributed from local rates, which were annually increasing, the money collected by voluntary subscriptions, and the school fees. He found that these items 840 together amounted in 1874 to about £3,500,000, which was our total annual expenditure for elementary education, not including a steadily increasing debt of £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 incurred by school boards for building. He did not for a moment mean to say that that was too large a sum to pay in aid of elementary education. On the contrary, he should not complain if the sum was even twice as large. But what had they got in return for that very large sum? It appeared from Returns which they had got that between 1870 and 1874 there had been a very great increase in school accommodation; and the average attendance of children at the schools was the best gauge they had as to the value they were getting for the money. Some children were not in the habit of attending regularly, and many were in the habit of moving about from place to place, and therefore frequently changing their schools or giving a most irregular attendance. Of the education which that class of children got much could not be said. Between 1870 and 1874 the increased school accommodation had been 1,000,000, but the increased average of children during the same time was only 500,000. In other words, just double the accommodation that seemed to be practically requisite had been provided. That was a point to which it was necessary to pay attention, because it referred to two important considerations—one, the large increase in school accommodation; the other, the small average attendance of children. It might be said that they were overbuilding and their appeared to be reason for thinking so. He had received an interesting letter from a clergyman who said that in his parish accommodation had with great difficulty been provided for 800 children, but even with compulsion they could not get the attendance of more than 550. It appeared to him (Mr. Salt), therefore, worthy of consideration whether they were not overbuilding. He submitted that the system of increased school accommodation was one that ought to be carried out very carefully and gradually. There were some men who were of opinion that the Government ought, in the first instance, to enter into a large outlay of public money for school accommodation; but he earnestly urged that time should be given before further expenditure was entered into. There was 841 another point far more difficult and important. Seeing that we had accommodation for 1,000,000 more children now than we had in 1870, and we had got only 500,000 more into the schools as the result of our efforts during that period, while the statistics showed that we ought to have got something like a third more, the question was whether we had exhausted all the means in our power to get the children into the schools? He was somewhat unwilling to use that word which had become a bugbear to some of his hon. Friends—compulsion, and therefore he would employ the word inducement. Well, then, was there any inducement or encouragement which we could use to get the children into the schools; for our Returns would never be satisfactory until, having provided ample accommodation, we should discover some means to get the children to avail themselves of it? It was perfectly true there were difficulties in the way. He was a member of a school board, and he had said to his colleagues—"It is true we have the power of compulsion, but we must use it discreetly. The moment you use it harshly your system will break down." He believed everyone who had experience in the matter would agree with him that parents, so far from wishing to keep there children from school, were, as a rule, most anxious to get them there, though, of course, there were exceptions. He knew cases in which parents came to consult them embers of school boards how to force their children to school, over whom they had too little control. He held in his hand a most valuable report from the school board of Stockport, which deserved to be widely known. Stockport was remarkable for two things—in the first place, it had no school board schools; and, secondly, it was almost the only place which had brought the attendance of children up to the supposed average of the Department. Not only so, but so closely had it swept the children into the schools that the figures showed they had more children at school than, according to the Census, could possibly exist in the place. They had also spent a good deal of money and spent it most efficiently. There was one fact which was worthy of notice, and that was the effect which their action had had upon juvenile crime. Stockport was a place 842 of about 58,000 inhabitants, and while in 1870 the total number of children apprehended was 66, in 1871 it was reduced to 47, in 1872 to 37, and in 1873 to 36. Here was an instance in which the system had been fairly and thoroughly tried, and what had been done at Stockport by means of compulsion might be done by other and cheaper agencies in other places. He trusted the noble Lord would take this matter in hand, and face the difficulties of the question so as to overcome them.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
suggested that a longer interval should be allowed to elapse between the circulation of the Report of the Education Department and the discussion of the Estimates. He quite felt that the present Code was in some important respects an improvement on its predecessor, and he begged to thank the noble Lord for the amendments he had introduced. But while he fully recognized the value of the alterations which had been introduced, there were some points which he thought might be re-considered with advantage. The Code of 1874 included among the extra subjects "any definite subject of instruction, taught according to a graduated scheme," of which the Inspector could report that it was well adapted to the capacity of the children. These words were omitted in the Code of 1875, and consequently schoolmasters and school committees were at present strictly limited to the subjects mentioned in the Schedule. This seemed to him a mistake. Why should not schoolmasters and school committees be allowed, especially under the above limitations, to choose such extra subjects as they thought best? He knew a case in which a school was learning elementary astronomy out of the little book issued by the Christian Knowledge Society—The Starry Heavens. The children were very much interested in it. They liked to know something about the sun and the moon and the stars. The master liked it because the children were interested, and because he found it enabled them to understand the geography lesson much better. Then came the Inspector, who said—"You must give up the astronomy and take to grammar." The children hated the grammar and the master was sorry for the change; still the present Code forced them to give up the astronomy, which they liked, and take to grammar, which 843 they did not like. Now, to show how much doubt existed in the highest quarters as to the best subjects, he might point out that in the Irish Regulations one of the subjects—not an extra, but a regular subject—was Agriculture. The subjects, for instance, in Class 4 were reading, spelling, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography, and agriculture. Under this head the children were expected "to answer intelligently on the subject matter of the lessons in the 'Agricultural Class Book,'" and a corresponding provision appeared in the regulations for all the higher classes. Thus we actually insisted in Ireland on a subject which was altogether excluded in England. It seemed to him that some knowledge of crops was a very appropriate subject for a country school; but, whether that was so or not, surely no one could maintain that a subject which we insisted on in Ireland was so unsuitable that it ought to be forbidden in England? He hoped, therefore, that the noble Lord would restore the words which had been omitted. Again, he did not see why domestic economy was to be confined to girls. Surely the nature of food and of the materials of clothing, the management and ventilation of the dwelling, the simple rules of health, the management of wages, and the importance of saving were subjects which might be taught to boys, also, with great advantage? Nor did he understand the reason for the difference which existed between the English and Scotch standards, and he might add the Irish also, in every case the English standard being the most difficult. He was ready to admit that in some respects the system of education in Scotland had been superior to ours; but he thought that fact was an argument against expecting more from English children than from Scotch children of the same age. If there was to be any difference in the Codes he thought that more should be expected in Scotland than in England; and, at any rate, he could not see why the English standards should be made so much more difficult than the Scotch. He should be glad to say a few words in reference to school books these now in use contained many remarkable statements. For instance, in one popular set of handbooks it was stated that "there were no animals in New Zealand when it was visited by Captain Cook in 1769;" and, 844 again, with reference to the same country, it was said that "certainly the English will not be tempted by gold digging or sheep keeping to stay in a place where it is likely they will be killed, cooked, and eaten." In the same series it was stated that cod "abounds in the Norway lakes, and there is a great lot of game;" that "Africa, owing to the new canal, is now an island." Under the heading "Auguries of Birds," the children were told that "all the accidents of the seas are predicted by birds." The principal blot of the present Code was in reference to the so-called extra subjects. One most important function of education was to train the powers of observation; but neither grammar, history, nor political geography had any decided tendency in this direction. If history and geography were taken as two of the subjects, it seemed to him to be of the greatest importance that either botany, zoology, mechanics, or some other subject which could be taught from the actual objects the mselves should be selected as the third. Under the head of domestic economy were comprised the preparation of food, the materials of clothing, the mode of warming, cleaning, and ventilating the dwelling; simple rules for health, cottage income, expenditure, and saving. Surely these were most important subjects, yet no child was to learn them who had not already passed an examination in history, geography, and grammar, or two of them. Grammar as it was often taught was not so well adapted to children as several other subjects which were excluded. In the grammar which he believed was most used he found such statements as that "the Misses Johnstone" was more correct than "the Miss Johnstones," because in the latter case they were considered a compound substantive. Again, "Man and John are masculine, because they are the names of male persons; woman and Susan are feminine, because they are the names of female persons." Surely there was not sufficient advantage in this that such subjects as domestic economy should be excluded in favour of grammar. History, as taught to young children, was a dry tax on the memory. It consisted of dates and wars, lightened, or rather say darkened, by deeds of treachery and murder. He quoted some passages from Scotch history 845 as used in Scotch schools, especially with reference to the border wars, and asked whether it was desirable that children should be kept in ignorance of the objects of nature, of the animals and plants by which they were surrounded, of the sun and moon, or of the laws of light and sound, until they had been instructed in the dark pages of history, and, in the case of Scotch children, well-grounded in the wickedness of England? The inspectors themselves did not agree in the selection of the subjects to which prominence should be given. He ventured, therefore, to suggest to the noble Lord that he should leave managers at liberty to take up any two subjects for the examination, allowing them at the same time the extra grant of 4s. per subject for any other two subjects which might be taken up in addition. It was obvious that their might be some schools in which from their situation one or other of the extra subjects might be taught with peculiar benefit. There were schoolmasters with special gifts of which it was desirable to take advantage, and it might well be—nay, he believed that it would be—The case that when we should have had more experience we should find that the subjects which had been selected by the Department were not after all the best that could be chosen. At any rate, their could surely be do harm in leaving this point open. They ought to be very careful not unduly to hamper or interfere with the freedom of schoolmasters and of school managers, who gave so much valuable time to the cause of education.
§ MR. SAMPSON LLOYD
said, he thought the country much indebted to the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) for the Act of 1870, which, on the whole, had conferred great national benefits. But care must be taken not to destroy the existing denominational system. It was a most valuable part of the educational machinery of the country, which, so long as it was efficiently conducted, was not to be extinguished. The condition on which the Act was accepted was that denominational schools should have fair play, because they existed, and because, in the opinion of many, they gave religious instruction which could not be given in board schools, nor even in British and Foreign schools. Injustice was done to denominational schools by 846 the reduction of the grant to them under the 32nd article of the Code. A school might earn £200 by efficiently teaching the subjects in respect of which the 4s. allowances were made, and yet because it was in a poor neighbourhood and had a poor subscription list the grant might be cut down to £20, while if it were in a better neighbourhood in which fees of 8d. and 9d. could be charged and large subscriptions obtained, it might be in such a flourishing condition as to secure the whole of the grant it had earned. This condition affected most seriously the schools which most required assistance, and rendered it difficult to carry on denominational schools in poor neighbourhoods. Another harsh condition affecting these schools was the limitation of the grant by the expenditure. Many of these schools were conducted at a very great loss. He held in his hand a pamphlet, written by a Manchester gentleman, who stated that the expenditure in connection with the Church of England schools in the year 1873 exceeded their income by £22,544. The latter sum had to be paid by charitable donations. If the 4s. allowance was too much let it be reduced for all alike, and let the deficiencies thus caused to the board schools be made up by the ratepayers; but if 4s. was the allowance dictated by public policy, it was hard upon denominational schools to deprive them of the grant they had earned on account of adventitious circumstances peculiar to the locality, over which they had no control. He urged the Government to consider the propriety of abolishing these fines, and also of allowing a person who could prove that he had subscribed to a public elementary school to set off: the amount of his subscription against the rate, minus a proportion; which should be one-tenth, but might be put down at one-fourth, in respect of that portion of the subscription which was devoted to the expenses of religious instruction.
§ MR. D. DAVIES
said, that the Act of 1870 was passed as a supplementary measure. In his parish there were four schools—two denominational and two board schools. The supporters of the former paid their subscriptions as before, to keep up the denominational schools, and they also paid the rates for the board schools, and by this means the whole parish was being educated. When hon. 847 Members expressd alarm about the rates be said let the children be educated for 15 years, and then the poor rates would probably show a great diminution. The people of England had not hitter to been properly educated. He himself had, unfortunately, not been properly educated; but he was willing to do his duty in educating the children of the rising generation. The difficulty which bad been alluded to that night occurred in his parish. A poor woman who had six children, and kept one cow, and whose husband earned 16s. a-week on a railway, come crying to the school board, and told them that if she was compelled to send her eldest girl, aged 11 years, to school regularly, they must go into the workhouse. Well, what did the school board do? Why, they "put it right for the woman," and that was what ought to be done all over the country. The schools were now built, and the difficulty was to get the children into them without compulsion. There was a certain class of boys who were them asters of their parents, and they could not be got to school unless some one took them by the collar and made them go.
§ MR. RODWELL
said, that the speech of the Vice President of the Council showed that he had a better knowledge of human nature and of the feelings of the humbler classes than those who were always talking of education. He had never heard anyone explain bow they were going to introduce a compulsory system of education into the agricultural districts of England. He denied that the power existed, and if the children were driven to school, and if the parents were called upon to send them under compulsion, it would do more to stop the progress of education than any other measure that could be devised. It was doing the agricultural labourers a great injustice to say that they were unwilling to send their children to school. The fact was the very reverse, but the real difficulty was that they were asking these parents to make sacrifices which no members of that House were called upon to make for the education of their children. In rural districts there was a great demand for juvenile labour, and this acted as a great temptation, and induced parents to keep their children away from school. There was no analogy between the children who ran about the streets of our 848 large towns and the children in rural districts who were honestly earning money for their parents. In some parts of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk it would be downright cruelty to force the children to go to school at certain periods of the year. He trusted the noble Lord would adhere to the principle he had laid down, and that he would appeal to the feelings and desires of the people, who really wished to improve their condition, and to take advantage of any system which might be offered to them. On behalf of the district he had the honour to represent (Cambridgeshire), be protested against any compulsory system being introduced their. The farmers and clergy in the rural districts bad assisted in the great work of education, and if it were done in that manner it would bring about greater results than if it were done against the will of the people, who might be led, but who would not be driven.
§ MR. LYON PLAYFAIR
said: If the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell) had not made such an anti-compulsion speech, I should not have addressed the Committee. Year after year the Education Department tells us with perfect frankness that its labours are attended with unsatisfactory results, and that the cause of this failure is the non-attendance of children at school. Year after year the age of children in attendance diminishes. In foreign schools, children attend till 14 years of age, the age of infancy fixed under our own Factory Acts. Out of 10,000 children at school, 1,200 ought to be of that age. Twenty-five years ago in England we had about a third of that number, or exactly 424; five years ago we had only 280, and now we have only 240, or just one-fifth. There is a constant lowering of school age which compulsion in the towns has not as yet succeeded in arresting, and even out of the number examined what a woful tale the Report tells us. Of the children above 10 years of age who were presented for examination, 63 per cent aimed at an infant standard of examination, while only 37 per cent ventured on the only standards which are fitted to give a permanent impress on the education furnished by the State. Or, taking it in another way, we have 2,500,000 of scholars on the register of whom only 150,000, or six in the hundred, are giving evidence of any 849 efficiency in our national system of education, by passing Standard IV. and upwards, while 94 in the hundred are pursuing the course, not of a national education, but of a gigantic system of infant training. The Education Department, as I have said, conceal none of these facts from us, and indeed draw the only legitimate conclusion, that you can make no considerable advance in education unless you can ensure more regular attendance at school up to the age when the State ceases to regard the child in loco parentis. I do not accuse the Government of doing nothing to remedy the evils which they have pointed out to us. The noble Lord the Vice President of the Council, and the noble Duke at the head of the Education Department, have shown themselves earnest friends of education and efficient administrators. It would be unworthy of Party politics, especially in a subject so affecting the interests of the people, and which ought to be treated with as few Party considerations as possible, if we did not admit that with one notable slip backwards in lowering the education of pauper children, their have been several important steps forward. The indirect compulsion of the Factory Act introduced by the Home Secretary, the well-intended but not yet very efficient Agricultural Education Act, which we owe to the present Secretary of the Local Government Board, are in a spirit of progress, and since last year the introduction of a new and greatly improved Code has removed much of the difficulty of enforcing compulsory attendance. For our national schools had become degraded to little more than a gigantic system of infant education applied to children up to 13 years of age. With such a low system of education, compulsion is difficult of application, for a parent might reasonably say, why force my child of 10 or 12 to go to a school where little is taught beyond Standard III., which a well-instructed infant ought readily to master? The new Code will, I hope, in time elevate the character of our schools. In this point of view I highly appreciate the Code of my noble Friend the Vice President of the Council. He himself has given us an important argument for enforcing the necessity for compulsion. I always felt it difficult to apply compulsion under an inferior school system. Our system is still inferior, but at least the motive now 850 exists for improving it. A superior character of education is the logical necessity of powers for enforcing attendance. No law could be so tyrannical as to force a parent to send a grown boy or girl to a school that, in reality, only gives education fit for infants. The explanation of the fact that there is no uprising against the compulsory laws in towns, notwithstanding the low character of much of the education, is that the whole mass of children are terribly backward. As they become more educated, the standard of education must either be elevated, or you must abandon compulsion. But now that the Government have given us a Code through which this difficulty has been removed, we are entitled to ask what steps it intends to take to remedy those irregularities of attendance of which it so grievously complains in the two last Reports of the Education Department. My hon. Friend them ember for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon) brought forward a Bill this year to enforce compulsory attendance, but it was thrown out by a large majority. The responsibility now rests with the Government to devise a better machinery, because the country will expect some remedy for the failure of the national system which is annually announced to us. They have passed indirect laws of compulsion, and they support fairly the administration of direct compulsion to nearly all our large towns. Now, is this great country Party opposite prepared to refuse to the rural population these educational benefits of schools which the law now enforces upon the dwellers in towns? If our educational net in towns succeeds in sweeping into the schools the neglected children of the streets and alleys, will it not be a scandal to the country districts that the children wandering in the fields or sitting under the hedges are to be allowed to grow up in ignorance, because Government cannot arrange with its followers what is the best kind of machinery for carrying out a compulsory law? I argued last year, and I do not intend to repeat the argument, that under a system of denominational schools compulsion is more easily applied than under non-sectarian schools. But if year after year passes over our head, and we find that we cannot introduce compulsion into a system of voluntary schools, you cannot be surprised if the question forces itself upon us—Are voluntary schools 851 capable of continuing to perform an important part in the education of the country? The principle of the Act of 1870 was to recognize them whenever they were efficient. But efficiency is a wide word in a national sense. Voluntary schools not in connection with school boards may be efficient for teaching the children within their walls; but they may be, and at present are, wholly inefficient to teach the neglected children of the district in which they are placed. The advocates of voluntary schools should clearly perceive this difference. If, as a system, they are efficient, they must comprehend the necessities of education within their sphere. Both sides of the House, with exceptions who could be counted by the fingers on a single hand, admit that education cannot comprehend above half our children without compulsory law. Annual Returns tell us that only 41 per cent of the children on the actual register gave 250 attendances, while only 6 per cent of those who ought to pass in the higher standards actually do pass. This huge waste of our educational resources cannot be allowed to continue. All admit that—those who favour indirect compulsion through restrictions on labour admit it as much as those who demand universal direct compulsion, for the principle involved is the same in both. The only reply which we got last year we get this year—"Don't move too fast." Well, in the towns this may be said with some show of reason; but it is their where compulsion is working well, with singularly little difficulty, for the occasional instances of hardship are few in number. I have made these remarks because I think we shall be entitled to ask Government, before we grant the Education Estimates next year, what steps they propose to take throughout the country to remedy the non-attendance and irregularities of attendance to which they attribute the failure of our national system. We know the steps taken in the towns; but we desire to know, before another year, what they propose to do with country districts. When in process of time the children of the working classes in towns are educated under the operation of the same Act under which masses of agricultural children are left without efficient education, will not parents in rural districts be apt to throw the blame on the voluntary school system 852 which refuses to adapt itself to a full development of the common educational laws? Or if the parents of neglected children are not intelligent enough to draw this conclusion for themselves, will not the nation as a whole do it for them? But even the Government may find that it would be better to face the difficulty as a legitimate consequence of their own improved Code than to rest satisfied with admitting to us, by their Reports year after year, that the failure of the national system mainly depends upon their want of courage to introduce a universal compulsory law.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
declined to compare town and country in an educational sense, but could answer for the fact that in the country there was a great anxiety to get the children to school, and that great sacrifices were made their with that object. It was certainly a serious thing to find children leaving school at an earlier age than they used to leave. One reason was the higher value of children's labour. Another reason given by the Scotch schoolmasters who came to the Department the other day was that the moment parents ceased to be bound by the law to keep their children at school, that moment they ceased to keep them at school. The London schoolmasters spoke of a similar change, and these facts suggested difficulties in the way of universal compulsion—difficulties requiring the gravest consideration. He agreed with his right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster) that where school boards would spend the money they should have Inspectors, and the London School Board had two. The Act of 1873 prescribed the cases in which additional school accommodation should be provided, and by that clause the hands of the Department were tied. While, however, the Department would be careful not to require excessive accommodation beyond what was necessary for the district, they would be equally strict in seeing that school boards should supply the necessary accommodation. The Government were always prepared, when a locality showed by a house to house visitation that the number of children did not exist to fill the schools which the Department had ordered to be built, to withdraw the plans. If the locality did not accept that test they had no other course than to be guided by the general standard required. He was much obliged 853 to the hon. Member for Maidstone (Sir John Lubbock) for what he had said about the Code, although he confessed that he expected warmer praise from the hon. Baronet on that matter. The Government had removed the fifteen-shilling barrier which stood in the way of advanced teaching, and they had encouraged the extra subjects. He could not, however, think the fact of a schoolmaster not being allowed to teach astronomy, and being obliged to go back to grammar, was a very dreadful case; because, in regard to children of 10 years of age, it was desirable that they should get a tolerable knowledge of their own language before going on to learn astronomy. No doubt there were many trashy educational works, but he was happy to say there were now a great number of good ones superseding them. He rejoiced in having had a hand in carrying out considerable improvements in the Code; but he thought it would be better for the children that they should be let alone for a year or two. The Government were determined to carry out this question of education thoroughly well. When it would be complete, or how it might be altered, he could not say; but he was very hopeful that the cause of education was now on a good line—that they were on the right track, and that the present system would land this great nation in the haven where we would wish it to be—of having a good and sound education for its people.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (2.) £213,552, to complete the sum for the Science and Art Department.
§ MR. MACDONALD
observed, that there was a sum of about £9,000 for the School of Mines and the Geological Museum. He thought it would be desirable to have a few thousand pounds spent in investigating the subject of mining in foreign countries, and for the establishment of mining schools.
§ MR. EVELYN ASHLEY
expressed a doubt as to the competency of the Inspectors in Science and Art to examine in both departments, and as to the assistant Inspectors, he could not see why they were almost entirely chosen from the Corps of Engineers.
§ MR. M'LAREN
wished to call the attention of the noble Lord and the House to what was being done, or rather was not being done, respecting the Industrial 854 Museum of Edinburgh. He had obtained a Return a few weeks ago, which showed the state of matters. Hon. Members were apt to think that out of London everything was of very little importance; but this Return showed that the number of visitors to the Edinburgh Museum was 336,000, while that of the whole of the London museums was 2,100,000. Therefore, the attendance at Edinburgh was a sixth of the whole of the London museums, while the money given to these institutions was 25 times as much as was given to Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Museum was commenced 19 years ago. It was not finished yet, and there was no grant for it in the Estimates of the present year. No doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said something about a Supplementary Estimate; but he did not think provincial museums should be impoverished for the benefit of the London ones. One instance of their respective importance—Professor Huxley lectured to some 50 students in Jermyn Street. At present, the Natural Philosophy Professor was away in the Challenger, and Professor Huxley was lecturing in his stead at Edinburgh. What was the result? In Jermyn Street, as he had said, he lectured to 60 students; in Edinburgh he lectured to 350. If they looked at the grants, they would find that the contrast between Jermyn Street and Edinburgh was exactly the other way; and it was to be remembered that the lectures were not merely popular ones, but lectures which the students of the Edinburgh medical School required to attend. The Return also showed that during the last five years the payments to Jermyn Street for education Votes and salaries had been £25,181, while the whole Votes for the same purpose to the Edinburgh Museum had been £15,169. The same principle ran through other grants. Since 1853 the grants to Ireland for science and art had been nearly £500,000, while the grants to Scotland had only been £186,000. He did think the Government were bound in fairness to re-consider the whole of these Estimates, and do more justice to Scotland.
§ GENREAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
was also understood to urge that Scotland should have larger grants than she had hither to had, pointing out that the contrast between the Expenditure voted 855 in the Civil Service Estimates in 1853–54, which was a standard year for comparing the expenditure of the present time, showed the public outlay for Education, Science, and Art to have quadrupled, but that the additions to England and Ireland had far exceeded the proportion of the increase to which Scotland was entitled. The people of Scotland had been foremost in the race between the three divisions of the Kingdom to extend elementary education, but were now distanced in the running by reason of the want of that public aid so liberally granted by Parliament to England and Ireland to promote the higher instruction which was being given not only to the people of England and Ireland, but to the people of the Continent, and particularly to Germany; and he would continue to urge a greater fairness being shown by Parliament to Scotland in distributing the grants of public money.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
urged that more liberality should be shown in the case of museums generally, and that something should be done to stimulate their growth. There was a museum in Bethnal Green. Why should not their be one in Sheffield, Leeds, and other great centres in the Provinces?
urged the Prime Minister to give him an opportunity of bringing forward his Motion on science and art on an early day, when it could be fully discussed. In the view of that discussion, he would not detain the House with any observations now, but would merely remark that he hoped he should not find himself shunted by a Morning Sitting when he brought forward his Motion.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
called attention to the Botanical Gardens, Dublin, and asked the Government to consider whether they could not do something to increase the salary of the director, who was one of the most distinguished botanists in the world, and received a salary of only £300 a-year?
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, there was an obvious answer to the question why should not Sheffield and other places have museums? If the House of Commons once started on this road it would be necessary to provide museums for every town in the Kingdom, and there would be no end to the expenditure. He protested against the continued outlay at the South Kensington Museum, which, 856 in his opinion, yielded a very small return for the money it cost.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, the remarks of the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) were most opportune. He was simply alarmed at the number of applications which poured in from all parts of the country, both for the establishment of museums and for sums in aid of Art Schools. Those applications struck him as indicating a falling off in that spirit of self-reliance which used to be the boast of Englishmen. No one could rejoice more than he did at the spread of such institutions; but it was a serious question whether they should be maintained at the cost of the nation. Liverpool had a museum, of which she was justly proud, but it was supported by the inhabitants. With reference to the institution in Jermyn Street, it was one of which they might all be proud. With regard to the question that had been addressed to him as to the Inspectors of local schools, he might say that their duty was to consider the question of organization. As regarded the Art Schools, valuable testimony had been borne to the progress they had made. As to the Edinburgh Museum, he was afraid they could do nothing this year, but another Session they might be able to meet the views of the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren).
§ MR. ERRINGTON
asked whether it was intended to vote any sum of money this year for the purposes of the Sub-Wealden exploration?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, no payment had been made, because the conditions laid down by the Government had not yet been complied with; but a Supplementary Vote would be moved for this year to provide for payment, upon satisfactory evidence being given that the conditions had been complied with.
§ Vote agreed, to.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £238,410, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1876, for Public Education in Scotland.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Dr. Cameron.)
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, it was unusual on these occasions, especially at this time of the year, to make such a Motion shortly after 12 o'clock. In consequence of the lengthy discussion which had arisen on. English education, the Committee had only just commenced the voting of Supply. Therefore, he hoped the hon. Member would not persist in his Motion.
§ MR. RAMSAY
complained of hon. Members below the Gangway on the Ministerial side of the House as the party whose interruptions of hon. Members on his side of the House were the cause of much delay through out the evening in passing the Votes. They would not listen to, but interrupted every hon. Member who questioned the Votes.
§ MR. STACPOOLE
complained of the manner in which the Votes were put. A little time ago the Committee were considering the Vote on Museums, and he wished to say something on that subject.
§ MR. STACPOOLE
And why were they not. He wished to say something about museums; but the Committee had been led to jump away from them to another question—Scotch education.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he hoped the hon. Member would withdraw his Motion that the Chairman report Progress.
§ DR. C. CAMERON
said, the reason why he moved that the Chairman report Progress was, that he saw that several Votes which preceded the Scotch Education Vote had been passed over.
§ MR. DILLWYN
concurred with the hon. Member who moved that the Chairman report Progress, and he was himself inclined to do so. He also concurred with the hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay) who complained of the interruptions of hon. Members below the gangway on the opposite side of the House as retarding the public business.
§ DR. C. CAMERON
said, that if it were the pleasure of the House he would withdraw his proposal to report Progress.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.858
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
, in explaining the Vote, said, he could state very little this year as to the effect of the Scotch Education Act, because, as hon. Members were aware, this had been a period of the transition between the two Codes. He was, therefore, at the present moment unable to give any very good account of the state of things. He would, however, refer hon. Members who took an interest in the subject to the very interesting Report which had been prepared by the Board of Education in Scotland. That Report had, unfortunately, not been long enough in the hands of the Department to enable them to enter into the question. The work of building was going on at a very rapid rate, and they should soon have schools built to accommodate 250,000 children. As hon. Members from Scotland were well aware, there were certain difficulties lurking in the background with regard to the supply of schools, and he only hoped that an interpretation of the law might be found that would enable certain schools to be handed over to the Board. With regard to teachers, he found that there had been a very steady increase in the number of teachers in Scotland. In 1873 the number of teachers was 2,600, and in 1874 the number was 3,100. There was, therefore, very good hope that an ample supply of teachers would be forthcoming. As to Inspectors, they had been extremely happy to provide five additional Inspectors, whom, it was hoped, would be of great assistance to the cause of education. With respect to attendance, there was every reason to be proud. For the year 1873, the average attendance was 220,000, which rose in 1874 to 263,000, being an increase of 20 per cent. and in the present year he found that the increase had been still greater, amounting to 23 per cent. He found that the new Code had been largely taken advantage of, and that many schools had got an increased amount of the public money. He congratulated them upon this fact, as he believed it meant a greatly increased amount of learning in the schools. The House was probably aware that the Department had thought it better this year to interfere as little as possible with the Scotch Code; but he could not hold out any hopes to Scotland that she could expect to be left alone as to her Code. As far as his knowledge went, the work 859 of education was prospering under the Act passed two years ago for Scotland.
§ MR. RAMSAY
said, he would have been glad to have stated some of the facts respecting the working of the Scotch Education Act had it been at an earlier period of the evening, but he could not do so at that hour of the morning. As regarded Shetland, he must say that he believed nothing would more tend to relieve the poverty of the people living in that district than their efficient education, and the noble Lord might discharge from his mind any apprehension that by reason of the recent educational Vote there would be depopulation in any part of Scotland, even among the hardy race of the Shetland Isles.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £4,997, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1876, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Education for Scotland.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, this was an important Vote, and could not be discussed at that hour of the night. At all events, the Government ought to say what they intended to do respecting the Scotch Education Board, which would soon expire. He begged to move that Progress be reported.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. M'Laren.)
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, the Government would use the powers they possessed to continue the Board temporarily for two years. He was not prepared at present to state what the intentions of the Government were as to the permanency of the Board.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.